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4, No. 16(II)
(2007) 11–96
Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics
Physics of Life from First Principles
Michail Zak
Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology,Pasadena, CA 91109 USA
Received 25 January 2007, Accepted 15 May 2007, Published 20 December 2007
The objective of this work is to extend the First Principles of Newtonian mechanics to include modeling of behavior of Livings. One of the most fundamental problems associated with modeling life is to understand a mechanism of progressive evolution of complexity typical for living systems. It has been recently recognized that the evolution of living systems is progressive in a sense that it isdirected to the highest levels of complexity if the complexity is measured by an irreducible number of different parts that interact in a well-regulated fashion. Such a property is not consistent with the behavior of 
Newtonian systems that cannot increase their complexitywithout external forces. Indeed, the solutions to the models based upon dissipative Newtonian dynamics eventually approach attractorswhere the evolution stops, while these attractors dwell on the subspaces of lower dimensionality, and therefore, of the lower complexity. If thermal forces are added to mechanical ones, the Newtonian dynamics is extended to the Langevin dynamics combining both mechanicsand thermodynamics effects; it is represented by stochastic differential equations that can be utilized for more advanced models in whichrandomness stands for multi-choice patterns of behavior typical for living systems. However, even those models do not capture the mainproperty of living systems, i.e. their ability to evolve towards increase of complexity without external forces. Indeed, the Langevin dynamicsis complemented by the corresponding diffusion equation that describes the evolution of the distribution of the probability density over thestate variables; in case of an isolated system, the entropy of the probability density cannot decrease, and that expresses the second law of thermodynamics. From the viewpoint of complexity, this means that the state variables of the underlying system eventually start behavingin a uniform fashion with lesser distinguished features, i.e. with lower complexity.
Reconciliation of evolution of life with the second law of thermodynamics is the central problem addressed in this paper 
. It is solved via introduction of the First Principle for modeling behavior of livingsystems. The structure of the model is quantum-inspired: it acquires the
of the Madelung equation in which the quantum potentialis replaced with the information potential. As a result, the model captures the most fundamental property of life: the progressive evolution,i.e. the ability to evolve from disorder to order without any external interference. The mathematical structure of the model can be obtainedfrom the Newtonian equations of motion (representing the motor dynamics) coupled with the corresponding Liouville equation (representingthe mental dynamics) via information forces. The unlimited capacity for increase of complexity is provided by interaction of the system withits mental images via chains of reflections: What do you think I think you think...?. All these specific non-Newtonian properties equip themodel with the levels of complexity that match the complexity of life, and that makes the model applicable for description of behaviors of ecological, social and economics systems.
Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Physics of life, Biophysics, Complex SystemsPACS (2006): 87.10.+e, 89.75.k, 89.75.Fb, 87.16.Ac
“Life is to create order in the disordered environment against the second law of thermodynamics”. E. Schr¨odinger, 1945.
1. Introduction
It does not take much knowledge or experience to distinguish a living matter frominanimate in day-to-day situations. Paradoxically, there is no formal definition of life thatwould be free of exceptions and counter-examples. There are at least two reasons for that.
12 Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics
, No. 16(II) (2007) 11–96
Firstly, many complex physical and chemical phenomena can mimic prints of life so closelythat special methods are required to make the distinction. Secondly, extraterrestrial life,in principle, can be composed of components which are fundamentally different fromthose known on Earth. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to formulate someinvariants of life in terms of phenomenology of behavior.Modeling of life can be performed on many different levels of description. While thereis no universal agreement on the definition of life, scientists generally accept that thebiological manifestation of life exhibits the following phenomena (Wikipedia):
- Living things are composed of one or more cells, which are the basic unitsof life.
- Metabolism produces energy by converting nonliving materialinto cellular components (synthesis) and decomposing organic matter (catalysis). Livingthings require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce theother phenomena associated with life.
- Growth results from a higher rate of synthesis than catalysis. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, ratherthan simply accumulating matter. The particular species begins to multiply and expandas the evolution continues to flourish.
- Adaptation is the accommodationof a living organism to its environment. It is fundamental to the process of evolution andis determined by the organism’s heredity as well as the composition of metabolized sub-stances, and external factors present.
Response to stimuli
- A response can take manyforms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism when touched to complex reactionsinvolving all the senses of higher animals. A response is often expressed by motion: theleaves of a plant turning toward the sun or an animal chasing its prey.
- The division of one cell to form two new cells is reproduction. Usually the term isapplied to the production of a new individual (asexually, from a single parent organism,or sexually, from at least two differing parent organisms), although strictly speaking italso describes the production of new cells in the process of growth.In this paper, we will address only one aspect of Life: a
, i.e.
invariants of Life, and in particular, the
geometry and kinematics of behavior 
of Livings disregarding other aspects of Life. By narrowing the problem in this way, wewill be able to extend the mathematical formalism of physics’ First Principles to includedescription of behavior of Livings. In order to illustrate the last statement, consider thefollowing situation. Suppose that we are
trajectories of several particles: someor them physical (for instance, performing a Brownian motion), and others are biological(for instance, bacteria), Figure 1. Is it possible, based only upon the
of theobserved trajectories, to find out which particle is alive? The test for the proposed modelis to produce the correct answer.Thus, the objective of this paper is to introduce a dynamical formalism describingthe
of Livings. All the previous attempts to develop models for so called ac-tive systems (i.e., systems that possess certain degree of autonomy from the environmentthat allows them to perform motions that are not directly controlled from outside) havebeen based upon the principles of Newtonian and statistical mechanics, (A. S. Mikhailov,1990). These models appear to be so general that they predict not only physical, but also
Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics
, No. 16(II) (2007) 1196 13
some biological and economical, as well as social patterns of behavior exploiting such fun-damental properties of nonlinear dynamics as attractors. Not withstanding indisputablesuccesses of that approach (neural networks, distributed active systems, etc.) there is stilla fundamental limitation that characterizes these models on a dynamical level of descrip-tion: they propose no difference between a solar system, a swarm of insects, and a stockmarket. Such a phenomenological reductionism is incompatible with the first principleof progressive biological evolution associated with Darwin (I. Prigogine, 1980, H. Haken,1988). According to this principle, the evolution of living systems is directed toward thehighest levels of complexity if the complexity is measured by an irreducible number of dif-ferent parts which interact in a well-regulated fashion (although in some particular casesdeviations from this general tendency are possible). At the same time, the solutions tothe models based upon dissipative Newtonian dynamics eventually approach attractorswhere the evolution stops while these attractors dwell on the subspaces of lower dimen-sionality, and therefore, of the lower complexity (until a “master” reprograms the model).Therefore, such models fail to provide an autonomous progressive evolution of living sys-tems (i.e. evolution leading to increase of complexity), Figure 2. Let us now extendthe dynamical picture to include thermal forces. That will correspond to the stochasticextension of Newtonian models, while the Liouville equation will extend to the so calledFokker-Planck equation that includes thermal force effects through the diffusion term.Actually, it is a well-established fact that evolution of life has a diffusion-based stochasticnature as a result of the multi-choice character of behavior of living systems. Such anextended thermodynamics-based approach is more relevant to model of living systems,and therefore, the simplest living species must obey the second law of thermodynamicsas physical particles do. However, then the evolution of living systems (during periodsof their isolation) will be regressive since their entropy will increase (I. Prigogine, 1961),Figure 3. As pointed out by R. Gordon (1999), a stochastic motion describing physicalsystems does not have a sense of direction, and therefore, it cannot describe a progressiveevolution. As an escape from this paradox, Gordon proposed a concept of differentiatingwaves (represented by traveling waves of chemical concentration or mechanical defor-mation) which are asymmetric by their nature, and this asymmetry creates a sense of direction toward progressive evolution. Although the concept of differentiating wavesitself seems convincing, it raises several questions to be answered: Who or what arrangesthe asymmetry of the differentiating waves in the “right” direction? How to incorporatetheir formalism into statistical mechanics providing progressive evolution without a vio-lation of the second law of thermodynamics? Thus, although the stochastic extension of Newtonian models can be arranged in many different ways (for instance, via relaxationof the Lipschitz conditions, (M. Zak, 1992), or by means of opening escape-routes fromthe attractors), the progressive evolution of living systems cannot be provided.The limitations discussed above have been addressed in several publications in whichthe authors were seeking a “border line” between living and non-living systems. It isworth noticing that one of the “most obvious” distinctive properties of the living systems,namely, their intentionality, can be formally disqualified by simple counter-examples; in-

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