Some generic measures of the extent of chemical disequilibrium applied to living and abiotic systems

B. F. Intoy, J. W. Halley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We report results of evaluation of several measures of chemical disequilibrium in living and abiotic systems. The previously defined measures include RT and RL, which are Euclidean distances of a coarse grained polymer length distribution from two different chemical equilibrium states associated with equilibration to an external temperature bath and with isolated equilibration to a distribution determined by the bond energy of the system, respectively. The determination uses a simplified description of the energetics of the constituent molecules. We evaluated the measures for data from the ribosome of E. coli, a variety of yeast, and the proteomes (with certain assumptions) of a large family of prokaryotes, and for mass spectrometric data from the atmosphere of the Saturn satellite Titan and for nonliving commercial copolymers. We find with surprising consistency that RL is much smaller than RT for all these systems. The living (protein) systems have a well defined value of RT that is sharply defined and distinct from that obtained from the nonliving Titan and copolymer systems. The living systems are also distinguishably characterized by larger values of RL than most of the nonliving systems, but RL values vary more from one living system to another than the RT values do. These data suggest that the measures RL and RT can distinguish living from nonliving systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number062419
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 28 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Physical Society.


  • Escherichia coli/cytology
  • Models, Chemical
  • Polymers/chemistry
  • Prokaryotic Cells/chemistry
  • Ribosomes/chemistry
  • Saccharomycetales/chemistry

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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