Karo Michaelian nsIn existographies, Karo Michaelian (1960-) is an English-born Mexican physicist noted, in evolution thermodynamics, for a number of publications, beginning in 2000, on the physics of evolution, in which he attempts to build up a Prigoginean variant of a non-equilibrium thermodynamics based life principle of evolution and origin of life. Increases in the global entropy production afforded to Earth in its solar environment through organic molecule dissipation of the solar UV and visible photon flux are suggested to be behind the origin and evolution of life [1,2]. A further theory considers the population stability and dynamics of ecosystems within a Prigoginean thermodynamic framework in which individuals of species are considered as “units of entropy production and exchange”; that non-equilibrium ecosystem can go through “phase transitions” brought on by a sudden change of external constraints through a “thermodynamic critical point”, among other theories. [3]

Michaelian teaches a course entitled “Thermodynamics Out of Equilibrium”, which is based almost entirely on Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine’s 1955 booklet Introduction to the Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes, which seems to be his core go-to thermodynamicist. His recent 2011 article “Biological Catalysis of the Hydrological Cycle: Life’s Thermodynamic Function”, is abstracted as follows: [2]

“The dissipation of sunlight into heat by organic molecules in the biosphere and its coupling to the water cycle (as well as other abiotic processes), is by far the greatest entropy producing process occurring on earth. Life, from this perspective, can be viewed as performing an important thermodynamic function; acting as a dynamic catalyst by aiding irreversible abiotic process such as the water cycle, hurricanes, and ocean and wind currents to produce entropy. The role of animals in this view is that of unwitting but dedicated servants of the plants and cyanobacteria, helping them to grow and to spread into initially inhospitable areas.”

In other words, Michaelian seems to make the argument that life is a type of dissipative catalyst, disspating sunlight into heat through organic molecules (pigments) in water, and so also contributing to Earth’s global water cycle.

Michaelian completed his BS in geophysics and PhD (1987), with a thesis on “Polarized Proton-proton Bremsstrahlung at 280 MeV”, both at the University of Alberta, Canada [4]. Michaelian currently is a professor of physics and thermodynamics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Institute of Physics.

1. Michaelian, Karo. (2011). “Thermodynamic Dissipation Theory for the Origin of Life.” Earth Syst. Dynam. 2: 37–51.
2. Michaelian, Karo. (2011). “Biological Catalysis of the Hydrological Cycle: Life’s Thermodynamic Function”. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 8: 1093–1123; Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2629–2645, 2012 www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/16/2629/2012/
3. Michaelian, Karo. (2005). “Thermodynamic Stability of Ecosystems” (abs), Journal of Theoretical Biology, 237(3): 323-35.
4. Michaelian, Karo. (1987). “Polarized Proton-proton Bremsstrahlung at 280 MeV” (abs), PhD thesis, University of Alberta.

Further reading

● K. Michaelian and O. Manuel. (2011). "Origin and Evolution of Life Constraints on the Solar Model", Journal of Modern Physics, Vol. 2, No. 6A, PP.587-594 DOI: 10.4236/jmp.2011.226068
● K. Michaelian, (2011) "Entropy Production and the Origin of Life", Journal of Modern Physics, Vol 2, No. 6A, PP.595-601 DOI: 10.4236/jmp.2011.226069
● V. Alonso-Chávez and K. Michaelian, (2011) "Predicting Ecosystem response to Perturbation from Thermodynamic Criteria", Journal of Modern Physics, Vol 2, No. 6A, PP.627-635 DOI: 10.4236/jmp.2011.226073
Thermodynamics Out of Equilibrium (syllabus) – Fisica.Unam.mx.
Michaelian, Karo. (2000). “A Physical Basis of Evolution and Speculation on an Evolutionary Basis of Physics”, in: Topics in Contemporary Physics, pgs. 195-210, Ed. J. Heras.
● Michaelian, Karo. (2002). “A Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamic Framework for the Dynamics and Stability of Ecosystems” (abs), ArXiv.org.
● Michaelian, Karo. (2009). "Thermodynamic Function of Life" (abs). Arxiv.org.
Michaelian, Karo (2009). "Thermodynamic Origin of Life" (abs). ArXiv.org.
● Michaelian, Karo. (2010). ”Thermodynamic Origin of Life”. Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss. 1: 1–39.
● Michaelian, Karo (2010). "Homochirality Through Photon-Induced Melting Of RNA/DNA: Thermodynamic Dissipation Theory of the Origin of Life”. WebmedCentral Biochemistry 1: WMC00924. http://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/924.

External links
Thermodynamic origin of life (Abiogenesis) – Wikipedia.
Misioneros de la Ciencia -- Divulgation of Science in the Schools of Mexico
Karo Michaelian (faculty) – Instituto de Fisica, UNAM

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