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By Lewis G.N.

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6 illustrates the hierarchy in free energy of various ecologically important nitrogen compounds. Proteins with the highest free energy are the result of the photosynthesis or of the biochemical synthesis in heterotrophic organisms. They are important food components for the heterotrophic organism as the suppliers of the important blocks, amino acids and of energy. 8. Summary of the important ecological issues It is the objective of this volume to demonstrate that we do have an ecosystem theory, mainly based on thermodynamics for ecosystems.

This implies that the following export of entropy per unit of time takes place from Earth to the open space: 1017 Wð1=5800 K 2 1=280 KÞ < 4 £ 1014 W=K ð2:8Þ corresponding to 1 W/m2 K. Ecosystems can maintain a certain concentration of low-entropy compounds against the second-law dissipation gradient because they are not isolated. Ecosystems receive a continuous supply of free energy or negentropy (potential entropy, not yet released (see Schro¨dinger, 1944)) from outside to compensate for the positive entropy produced internally as a consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics ðdi S .

1 (Lurie and Wagensberg, 1979). Fig. 1 is a good illustration to Prigogine’s theorem: one can see that the entropy production for a rather large period of time is a monotonous decrease with time tending to a certain positive value. 4. The Third Law of Thermodynamics applied on open systems The First Law of Thermodynamics is often applied to ecosystems, first of all when the energy balances of ecosystems are made. Also, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is applied to the ecosystem when we consider the entropy production of ecosystems as a consequence of the maintenance of the system far from thermodynamic equilibrium.

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A New Principle of Equilibrium by Lewis G.N.

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