NEW RESEARCH: WE EXPEND LESS ENERGY THAN COMPUTERS
Living matter, even when lazy, is engaged in calculation – it’s not just for calculators and computers. With any life form, from the simplest paramecium to us, translation of information from the genome to proteins takes place.
Such translation requires calculation, and energy is needed for that calculation!
In a new study, the thermodynamic efficiency of biological calculation was determined. It turns out that living systems use 100 000 times less energy than the most modern computers! This, of course, is no consolation for those chess world champions that lose to machines, and indeed live players experience fatigue. But there’s more.
As a basis for comparison, scientists took the Landauer Principle, which pertains to the lower theoretical limit on the amount of energy that is required for processing a single bit. It depends on temperature, but at room temperature for example it’s the insignificant amount of 2.7 × 10 -21 J.
So the effective energy output of biological transfer is even less than that, at 20 times less than the absolute physical value. And this, according to the head of the study, is somewhere around the effectiveness of 100,000 computers.
It’s easy to assume that organisms that compute better receive the most benefit from the evolutionary process, but this is still unknown.
In the future, the authors want to calculate the energy efficiency of more complex processes, like thought. But this, it seems to me, depends on the person and what they’re thinking about, and how deeply.
Now, I’m thinking I’ll finish out the work day, and help people to better see the beauty of this world and return home in a great mood. I wish you the same joy!
Dr. Arthur Benjamin