Hydrothermal Energy Flow of Planetary Bodies and the Creation of Living Systems

  • J. B. Corliss
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 144)


An understanding of the events leading to life on Earth, presently our one observable example of the process, will provide insight into the possibilities of life elsewhere in the Universe. Life on planet Earth is here characterized as an attractor emerging within the natural hierarchy of dissipative systems which transfer heat from the planetary interior. The key elements in this hierarchy, the submarine hot springs, are examples of the entropy bursts which punctuate the evolution of the universe and lead to the creation of organized structures and systems. The phase space trajectories which the fluid components are constrained by history to follow in these powerful and potent flow reactors can lead to the assembly of complex organic molecules and organized structures which are thermodynamically and kinetically inaccessible to near equilibrium systems or unconstrained chaotic dissipative systems. This model implies the possibility that life can emerge and be sustained in parts of planetary systems where the flow of solar radiation is negligible, such as the Galilean satellites of Jupiter where tidal heating produces significant heat flow.


Flow Reactor Planetary System Dissipative System Primitive Cell Planetary Body 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. B. Corliss
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Atomic PhysicsEötvös UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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