Harold Morowitz

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In existographies, Harold Morowitz (1927-2016 ACM) (IQ:160|#776) (ID:1.82|88) (FET:45) (CR:65) (LH:12) (TL:77|#148) was an American physicist, philosopher, biophysicist; noted for []


In the late 1960s, Morowitz was indexing, on 3 x 5 cards, terms from books on thermodynamics and biology, noting how the name “Boltzmann” began to pile up? Seeing this, he realized how he knew so little about such a scientist whose name figured so prominently in the science of thermodynamics. This led him on a pilgrimage, as many scientists have done, to the famous Boltzmann tombstone at the Vienna Central Cemetery, where inscribed in stone above the bust of Boltzmann is the formula S = k ln W. [8]

In 1968, Morowitz, in his Energy Flow in Biology: Biological Organization as a Problem in Thermal Physics, citing, supposedly, Vladimir Vernadsky’s geochemical taxonomy of organisms, gives a table comparing the elemental composition of man, alfalfa, copepod, and bacteria, in terms of the elements: C, H, N, O, P, S, Ca, Na, K, Mg, Cl, Fe, Si, Zn, Rb, Cu, Br, Sn, Mn, I, Al, and Pb.[1]

In 1982, Morowitz, during the McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education, on the debate of whether creation science should be taught in public schools, was designated an expert in biophysics and biochemistry, and was tasked with demonstrating that the origins of life did not violate the laws of thermodynamics. [3] The transcript, available online, is a fairly humorous read. He states, for instance, in reference to creation scientists, that “they play fairly fast and loose with the second law of thermodynamics.” [4]


Quotes | Employed

The following are quotes employed by Morowitz:

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”
— Walt Whitman (1861), Leaves of Grass (Ѻ); cited by Harold Morowitz (1992) in Beginnings of Cellular Life (pg. iv)
“The two energies, of mind and matter, spread respectively through the two layers of the world, the ‘within’ and the ‘without’, have, taken as a whole, much the same demeanor. They are constantly associated and in some way pass into each other. But it seems impossible to establish a simple correspondence between their curves? On the one hand, only a minute fraction of ‘physical’ energy is used up in the highest exercise of spiritual energy; on the other, this minute fraction, once absorbed, results on the internal scale in the most extraordinary oscillations.”
Pierre Teilhard (1938), The Phenomenon of Man; cited by Harold Morowitz (2002) in The Emergence of Everything (pg. 176)

Quotes | On

The following are quotes on Morowitz:

“What I learned in school is that one day lightning struck pond-scum and produced life. Or maybe it was volcano vents. On the other hand, claims of miracles — such as the resurrection of Christ — are sheer bunkum. — I’m going with Christ. I only hope (sans-evidence) that Morowitz was a closet Christian. Clearly the man had the capacity for great faith.”
— Leodp (2016), post (Ѻ) to his UncommonDescent.com obituary blog, Apr 5

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Morowitz:

“The terms ‘splitters’ and ‘lumpers’ come from taxonomy, where the classifiers were separated into those who liked to create new taxa because of small differences and those who preferred to coalesce categories because of similarities. The concept has found wider applicability as knowledge in all fields expands. Specialists are confined to ever-narrowing domains while generalists survey the immensity of information in an effort, one hopes, to find higher orders of structure. It is clear that in the university and intellectual community ... the splitters are in command and the lumpers are in serious disarray, unable to keep up with the output of printouts that are generated in such a variety of ways. It is saddening to witness the loss of status of those engaged in integrative thought, for one sees in it the fragmentation of scientific and humanistic disciplines.”
— Harold Morowitz (1970), “Splitters and Lumpers”
“The [Teilhardian two energies problem] can be formalized in the following way: if the change in Gibbs free energy of a system is split up in its component parts, the change may be written as: ΔG = ΔH – TΔS, where S is the ‘informational part’ of the thermodynamic state of the system, it is as if the Gibbs energy part could be split up into a ‘material’ and a ‘mental’ component. Teilhard was closer to the solution then he knew. The entropy term has a mental component. Teilhard sometimes speaks of this as spiritual energy, and other times as mental. At this point, he could have called the measure ‘noetic’ energy, rather than ‘spiritual’ energy.”
— Harold Morowitz (2002), The Emergence of Everything (pgs. 176-79)
“Two new futuristic views have developed in recent years. The first of these argues that carbon-based life will be the precursor of silicon-based life that, because of potentially superior intelligence, will ultimately take over, with humans either eliminated or in a secondary role. This involves a discrete molecular break in the form of life, but not necessarily a break kin informatics and the handling of information. Of course, what ‘love’ means to a computer is an unanswered question.”
— Harold Morowitz (2002), The Emergence of Everything (pg. 177) (Ѻ)

End matter

See also


  1. (a) Morowitz, Harold. (1968). Energy Flow in Biology: Biological Organization as a Problem in Thermal Physics (table 3-2). Academic Press.
    (b) Vernadsky, Vladimir. (1926). The Biosphere: Complete Annotated Edition (translator: David Langmuir; Revisions and Annotations: Mark McMenamin) (pg. 86). Copernicus, 1998.

Further reading

  • Morowitz, Harold. (1957). Proceedings of the First National Biophysics Conference, Mar 4-6 (Gibbs, pg. 299). Yale, 1959. Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist'. Scribner.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1963). Life and the Physical Sciences: Introduction to Biophysics. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Waterman, Talbot H. and Morowitz, Harold J. (1965). Theoretical and Mathematical Biology (abs). Blaisdell Pub. Co.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1968). Energy Flow in Biology: Biological Organization as a Problem in Thermal Physics. Ox Bow Press, 1979.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1970). Entropy for Biologists: an Introduction to Thermodynamics. Academic Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1974). “Energy flow and Biological Organization”; in: Irreversible Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life (editors: Oster, G.F., Silver, I.L., and Tobias, C.A.) (§:25-32). Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.
  • Morowitz, Harold. J. (1978). Foundations of Bioenergetics. Ox Bow Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1979). “Splitters and Lumpers” (Ѻ), in: The Wine of Life and Other Essays on Society, Energy & Living Things. St. Martins.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1979). Energy Flow in Biology. Ox Bow Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1981). The Wine of Life: and Other Essays on Societies, Energy, and Living Things. St. Martin’s Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1986). “Entropy and Nonsense: Review of Brooks and Wiley” (abs), Biology and Philosophy, 1:473-76.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1987). “The Mind Body Problem and the Second Law of Thermodynamics”, Biology and Philosophy, 2:274.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1987). Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist'. Scribner.
  • Morowitz, Harold. (1987). Mayonnaise and the Origin of Life: Thoughts on Minds and Molecules. Berkley Publishing.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1992). The Thermodynamics of Pizza. Rutgers University Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold; Trefil, James. (1992). The Facts of Life: Science and the Abortion Controversy. Oxford University Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1993). Beginnings of Cellular Life: Metabolism Recapitulated Biogenesis (pgs. 1, 69). Yale University Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (1996). Entropy and the Magic Flute: S = k ln W = dQ/T = - kΣfi ln fi (pgs. 1-3). Oxford University Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold J. (2002). The Emergence of Everything (pg. 196). Oxford University Press.
  • Morowitz, Harold, Hazen, Robert, and Trefil, James. (2005) “Intelligent Design Has no Place in the Science Curriculum”, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Smith, Eric; Morowitz, Harold. (2016). The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth: the Emergence of the Fourth Geosphere. Cambridge.

External links

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