Biology Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Vol. 20, No. 5, September-October, 1993.


A. P. Levich

A hypothesis is proposed on generating flows of proelements in deep layers of the matter structure, with respect to which our Universe is not closed and isolated. These flows generate both the course of time in the world and non-equilibrium of the living matter, which is a specific case of non-equilibrium of that part of Universe, which can be measured by the present-day instrumental methods.

The problem concerning sources of the living matter non-equilibrium can be put in a wider natural science context than the biological studies. We deal here with the time course or development In the metabolic time construct (Levich, 1989) the course of time is identified with the general processes of replacement of elements in universes of natural hierarchies. But what "rotates the handle" of the general process, i.e., what generates the replacement of elements? Answers can be sought by attracting attention to the deep levels of natural hierarchies, whose elements are not standard molecular components of the systems, such as electrons, nucleons, quarks, etc. We deal here with finer material substances unidentifiable by the present-day scientific technologies.

The metabolic approach proposes a hypothesis of generating flows, according to which our Universe is not closed, is not isolated, and is not equilibrium. There are generating flows of elements at the deep levels of the system. These flows generate replacements of elements at all above lying levels of the systems, just as the flow of solar photons provides for energetics of the general processes at all levels of biological hierarchies. These flows restrict expansion of the systems during their self-organization, just as the resources restrain the superorganismic systems from unlimited growth. The problems of "nature," causes of its course, as well as of sources of non-equilibrium of any natural systems are converted by the hypothesis of generating flows into the problems of origin and status of substrate and energy "supply" of our Universe. It is known that
essences are not multiplied without special need but for understanding of the course of time, differences of the living from the non-living and absence of symptoms of the Universe "hit death" the present-day knowledge lacks essential data or corresponding cognitive apparatus.

Non-equilibrium of the living, as well as non-equilibrium of the world, is generated by specific generating flows of pro-elements of some deep layers of the matter. The phenomenon of life is a specific case of the phenomenon of Time related to some new deep levels of the matter. Just as material particles of the world are sources (or beds) for flows of pro-elements at certain levels of the natural hierarchies, the organisms are sources (or beds) for flows of substances at some deep levels of the natural hierarchies. The properties of living objects are generated by flows of proarticles at the corresponding deep levels of the matter, just as diverse physical interactions of material particles are generated by flows of pro-elements at different deep levels. Thus, the property of life becomes similar to the properties of, for example, electric or barionic charge. The difference between the living and the non-living is related to specificity and amount of flows of the deep levels of the matter involved in the phenomenon of time.

Together with hierarchy of the natural systems and hierarchy of generating flows, the hierarchy of energies appears, with reference to which the living system can be non-isolated. Already Bauer (1935) speaks about the source of "structural energy" of the living matter different from the free energy of food. The "structural energy" of an individual organism is exhausted by free energy proportionally consumed with the food. The amount of free energy accessible during the life is restricted and is a species-specific property, so-called "Rubner constant," proportional to the egg "structural energy." The possibility of description of individual existence as exhaustion of once made reserve of "structural energy" induces the "flask" model of life (Levich, 1992) and allows us to consider the Rubner constant as species-specific characteristic of life duration (Zotin and Alekseeva, 1984).

An experienced reader can see in hypothetical substantial flows of the metabolic approach the restoration of living forces of vitalism, for example, entelecheia of Aristotle, vis essentialis of Wolff, or nesus of Blumenbah (Driesh, 1915). However, the statements of metabolic concept are much more prosaic: we deal with quite material levels of the natural system, which are not however recorded by the present day scientific technologies. Hypothetical flows of elements of these levels are necessary not for introduction of living forces but respond to the logic of an entire circle of constructions related to the phenomenon of time in natural sciences.

The idea of generating flow is not new either in philosophy or in natural science and it is associated with the picture of world in daoism, with the absolute time of Newton or with the time concept of Kozyrev, according to which the time is "the grandiose flow embracing all material processes in the Universe and all processes in these systems are sources feeding this general flow" (Kozyrev, 1963, p. 95). Kozyrev repeatedly stressed that non-equilibrium of the world created by the "time flow" should necessarily affect the understanding of life. Kozyrev's followers have experimentally discovered the influence of irreversible processes and cosmophysical interaction of unclear nature on biological detectors (Kozyrev, 1958, 1982; also see: Danchakov, 1984; Danchakov and Eganova, 1987; Lavrent'ev et al., 1990, 1991; Levich, 1992).

The recognition of generating flows eliminates the second rule of thermodynamics as opposed to the existence of life, since the second rule refers exclusively to the isolated systems. The second rule will no more be applied to the open part of the Universe, where the generating flows generate the course of time, hardly a discovery for physicists or astronomers: "...every day experience convinces us that the properties of nature have nothing in common with those of the equilibrium system and the astronomical data suggest that the same is true for the observable part of the Universe" (Landau and Lifshits, 1964, pp. 45-46). Moreover, "individual cosmic bodies and their systems are so isolated from each other that for them the heat death should markedly approach before the foreign system interferes. Therefore the degraded states of the system should have predominated, while they almost do not occur. And the task consists not only in explanation of the Universe non-equilibrium as the whole, it is much more specific: to understand why individual systems and cosmic bodies themselves continue to live despite the short times of relaxation" (Kozyrev, 1963, p. 95).

The theory based on the principle of extreme entropy (Levich, 1993) does not return researchers to the second rule of thermodynamics, since it is applied to the system open for the substrates and energy. Besides, the formula of generalized entropy was derived outside any probabilistic prerequisites and, hence, interpretation of the extreme principle as requirement of transition from the less probable to the more probable state disappears. Limitation of development of the system by accessible flows of substrate-energy resources in solving the variation task leads not to uniform but to extremely non-uniform distribution of characteristics of the Gibbs type and also involves possible generation of structure, i.e., self-organization (Levich, 1993).

The contents of theoretical biology consists of development of the metabolic movement construct for multi-level systems and prognostication of pathways of experimental identification of substantial generating flows at the deep levels of the system structure.

Biological Faculty, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia. Translated from Izvestiya Rossiiskoi Akademii Nauk, Seriya Biologicheskaya, No. 5, pp. 778-779, September-October, 1993. Original article submitted April 30, 1992.



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