Posts tagged ‘autocatalysis’

August 1, 2012

The Chemistry of Economics

by Nathaniel Virgo

In order to understand economics, you must first understand chemistry.  That’s my story at least, and I’m sticking to it.  I’m neither an economist nor a chemist (not a real one anyway), but I’ve been thinking a lot about how to understand economics in chemical terms.

In a previous post I discussed autocatalysis, the mechanism by which a bunch of different molecules can react with each other in such a way that they end up producing more of themselves, at the cost of using something else up.  The ideas in that post don’t only apply to chemistry – you can use them to think about just about any kind of physical process.  In this post I’ll talk about how to think about the economy as a whole in autocatalytic terms. But let’s start with something on a smaller scale, the process of baking bread:

December 12, 2011

The Primordial Haze?

by Nathaniel Virgo

Here’s an interesting fact: apparently, chemical self-reproduction is easier to achieve in gases than in liquids.  This leads me to an interesting idea: maybe the very first steps in the origins of life took place not in the oceans  but in the atmosphere.  The mechanisms by which molecules can produce more of themselves are interesting, and in this post I’ll explore a bit about how such molecular reproduction (or, to use the technical term, autocatalysis) works.


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