Schrodinger, Erwin - What is Life - Aggregates
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Erwin Schrodinger – What is Life?
An organism’s astonishing gift of concentrating a ‘stream of order’ on itself and thus escaping the decay into atomic chaos – of ‘drinking orderliness’ from a suitable environment – seems to be connected with the presence of ‘aperiodic solids’
[an extended aggregate of sub-assemblies of different types].............
A small molecule might be called the germ of a solid. Starting from such a small solid germ, there seem to be two different ways of building up larger and larger associations.
One is the comparatively dull way of repeating the same structure in three directions again and again. That is the way followed in a growing crystal. Once the periodicity is established, there is no definite limit to the size of the aggregate.
The other way is that of building up a more and more extended aggregate without the dull device of repetition. That is the case of the more and more complicated organic molecules in which every atom, and every group of atoms, plays an individual role, not entirely equivalent to that of many others (as is the case in a particular structure). We might quite properly call that an aperiodic or solid ….............
The cases of a molecule, a solid, a crystal are not really different. In the light of present knowledge they are virtually the same and [molecules] are more closely akin to the solid state than to the liquid or gaseous state
Atoms forming a molecule, whether there be few or many of them are united by forces of exactly the same nature as the numerous atoms which build up a true solid, a crystal. The molecule presents the same solidity of structure as a crystal.
The distinction that is really important is the structure of matter is whether atoms are bound together by solidifying Heitler-London forces or whether they are not. In a solid and a molecule they all are. In a gas of simple atoms they are not. In a gas composed of molecules only the atoms within every molecule are