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Self-Organization, Transformity, and Information

Howard T. Odum
Science
New Series, Vol. 242, No. 4882 (Nov. 25, 1988), pp. 1132-1139
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1702630
Page Count: 8
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Self-Organization, Transformity, and Information
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Abstract

Ecosystems and other self-organizing systems develop system designs and mathematics that reinforce energy use, characteristically with alternate pulsing of production and consumption, increasingly recognized as the new paradigm. Insights from the energetics of ecological food chains suggest the need to redefine work, distinguishing kinds of energy with a new quantity, the transformity (energy of one type required per unit of another). Transformities may be used as an energy-scaling factor for the hierarchies of the universe including information. Solar transformities in the biosphere, expressed as solar emjoules per joule, range from one for solar insolation to trillions for categories of shared information. Resource contributions multiplied by their transformities provide a scientifically based value system for human service, environmental mitigation, foreign trade equity, public policy alternatives, and economic vitality.

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