Re: Second law of Thermodynamics

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 12:04:18 -0500 (EST)

At 09:58 PM 11/19/97 -0600, Glenn Morton wrote:
>At 09:43 AM 11/19/97, Moorad Alexanian wrote:
>>We understand the second law of thermodynamics in a probabilistic sense.
>>Therefore, if a set of outcomes are equally likely, then the most probable
>>configuration is the one that randomness will drive the system to. Is that
>>the case with your example? Or are there constraints that would exclude some
>>of the possible outcomes? What laws determine such constraints?
>As I mentioned some sequences kill the animal. But within large limits each
>protein (and thus the DNA behind it) are free to wander through a large
>number of viable possibilities. There are something like 10^94 different
>permutations of the cytochrome c molecule that will function just fine and
>dandy in your body. (see Hubert Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular
>Biology, p. 59). There are a total of 10^137 possible permutations of a
>sequence that long. So, yes there are limits, but they aren't very limiting.

I am curious Glenn. If we go through those 10^137 possible permutations at
the rate of one a second, it will take 10^130 years. Suppose we have 10^100
such molecules, it would still take 10^30 years. Do these numbers much
larger than the age of the universe bother you? I recall reading somewhere
that the astronomer Fred Hoyle believed that such large magnitude numbers
would rule out randomness as a possible mechanism for change.