Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in Main |


The question and answer session with February’s guest speaker was longer than his presentation due to the enthralling subject matter, which kept the audience gripped.


‘What is life? …. and would we know it if we saw it?’ was the title of the presentation given By Dr Terrance Kee from the school of chemistry at the university of Leeds.


Society secretary Dominic Curran welcomes Dr Terrance Kee from the school of chemistry, leeds university to Keighley astronomical society.

His work in the field of science goes all the way back to ancient Greece and the philosophy of Hippocrates. Who is credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused naturally, not because of superstition and god.


There is no definition of life. In the late 19th century philosophers and psychologists started to ponder this question. This moved throughout the 20th century, and to David Keirsey, who worked at the Californian state university. He came up with a wide definition of life as a ‘Dissipative system’. He said, “All features of the universe are capable of engaging in dissipative processes because the universe is not at energetic equilibrium”


David Keirsey and his work on the theory of ‘ Dissipative systems’

Explaining that life is just not being alive, the definition of life is much wider, and is described as anything that is a ‘Dissipative system’. A dissipative system is anything the draws in heat, uses some of that heat to exist and them expels the remaining heat as quickly and as efficiently as possible.


A human being draws in heat from food and water. The body uses some of that heat or energy to perform and continue existing. The body expels what heat it does not require.


Examples of dissapative systems

So under this wider definition of life, a storm is alive, so is the Sun, and the solar system, the universe.


The question and answer session probed this theory even further with some fantastic questions and intriguing answers. Ending with the possibility that the universe was created because some entity wanted to know what it was. But to do that it must have had something else to compare itself to.


As Mr Spoke from Star Trek would say. “Fascinating”

Dr Kee pondering his answer to a question from the society members