In this work we present a theory, rather consistent, to our opinion, which enables one to explain the origin and evolution of living beings from the view point of thermodynamics.  The strong belief that the basic principles of natural science and precise theories are stable made it possible to create during the recent years the thermodynamic model of ontogenesis, phylogenesis, and biological evolution in general.  The theory was met by some colleagues with understanding.  To a considerable extent, this theory was developed owing to the fact that the author did not ‘stick’ to fashionable view points and tendencies, which ‘make the absolute’ out of the thermodynamics of non-equilibrium processes.

To be sure, new possibilities will appear in future for the development and application of the thermodynamic theory.  New models, and more advanced ones, will be suggested.  Still the author is convinced that they will be also based on the fundamentals of classical natural science.

Now two decades after the first publication of the "Thermodynamics of Biological Evolution", it is worth mentioning that this work saw the light due to the personal decision of the late Dr. James Danielli, F.R.S., editor in chief of the Journal of Theoretical Biology.  Dr. Danielli, the first author of the first model of a biological membrane, and an outstanding theoretical biologist and physical chemist of our century, decided to forward the manuscript of the paper [1] to eight reviewers.  As a result of such a thorough reviewing, the editor in chief sent a letter to the author.  In particular, it ran “Today I have decided to publish your work, in spite of the fact that Western referees faced serious difficulties while reviewing it.  The reason for my decision is that this work can turn out to be quite outstanding…” 

A couple of years later J. Danielli wrote to the author: “I am very glad to give any help which I am able to do insisting that your ideas are appropriately published.” The correspondence was continued.  Unfortunately, many letters perished as time passed.  However, they left a fadeless memory in my heart and always inspired me to make my way thorough the ‘murky wood’ of the extremely complicated by interesting problem of understanding life as a phenomenon.  Today, the ‘wood’ is much thinner; there is clear sky in sight with the bright ‘star of thermodynamics’, which never let anybody down.

Another great scientist, Kenneth G. Denbigh, F.R.S., discovered the ‘rational grounds’ already in the early publications of the author devoted to this problem.  The outstanding, excellent works by K. Denbigh in various fields of natural science, as well as his personal letters, stimulated the author in his attempts to achieve the results in their most accomplished form.

The research carried out by the author in the field of biological evolution was supported by the attention of several creators of modern natural science, such as: H. Urey, P. Mitchell, S. Ponnamperuma,, N. Bogolyubov, and Ya. Zel’dovich.  Many suggestions were made by G. Arrhenius, V. Kazakov, F. Komarov, E. Ovcharenko, Lord G. Porter and Z. Sabirov.  The author is greatly indebted to all of them.

The length of the monograph is deliberately limited; it deals only with the evolution of structures considered in the framework of the thermostatic approach.  The text contains some clarifying comments, and in the Appendices several notions are defined.  All of this is done to make the material more comprehensible. 

I hope that the present work will meet understanding in the scientific world and be of interest, first of all, for young scientists.

Georgi Gladyshev

Professor of Physical Chemistry
Institute of Ecological Biophysical Chemistry of the Academy of Creative Endeavors
Laboratory of Thermodynamics and Macrokinetics of Non-equilibrium Systems of N.N. Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Professor of the Chair of Biomedical Systems and Devices
N.E. Bauman Moscow State Technical University, 1975-1985

[1] Journal of Theoretical Biology. 1978. Vol. 75. pgs. 425-444 [Link]

Thermodynamic Theory
of the Evolution of Living Beings
Institute of Human Thermodynamics