A non-linear irreversible thermodynamic perspective on organic pigment proliferation and biological evolution
The most important thermodynamic work performed by life today is the dissipation of the solar photon flux into heat through organic pigments in water. From this thermodynamic perspective, biological evolution is thus just the dispersal of organic pigments and water throughout Earth's surface, while adjusting the gases of Earth's atmosphere to allow the most intense part of the solar spectrum to penetrate the atmosphere and reach the surface to be intercepted by these pigments. The covalent bonding of atoms in organic pigments provides excited levels compatible with the energies of these photons. Internal conversion through vibrational relaxation to the ground state of these excited molecules when in water leads to rapid dissipation of the solar photons into heat, and this is the major source of entropy production on Earth. A non-linear irreversible thermodynamic analysis shows that the proliferation of organic pigments on Earth is a direct consequence of the pigments catalytic properties in dissipating the solar photon flux. A small part of the energy of the photon goes into the production of more organic pigments and supporting biomass, while most of the energy is dissipated and channeled into the hydrological cycle through the latent heat of vaporization of surface water. By dissipating the surface to atmosphere temperature gradient, the hydrological cycle further increases the entropy production of Earth. This thermodynamic perspective of solar photon dissipation by life has implications to the possibility of finding extra-terrestrial life in our solar system and the Universe.