First published July 1 2016
A Precarious Existence: Thermal Homeostasis of Simple Dissipative Structures
Stuart Bartlett and Seth Bullock
We demonstrate the emergence of spontaneous temperature regulation by the combined action of two sets of dissipative structures. Our model system comprised an incompressible, non-isothermal fluid in which two sets of Gray-Scott reaction diffusion systems were embedded. We show that with a temperature dependent rate constant, self-reproducing spot patterns are extremely sensitive to temperature variations. Furthermore, if only one reaction is exothermic or endothermic while the second reaction has zero enthalpy, the system shows either runaway positive feedback, or the patterns inhibit themselves. However, a symbiotic system, in which one of the two reactions is exothermic and the other is endothermic, shows striking resilience to imposed temperature variations. Not only does the system maintain its emergent patterns, but it is seen to effectively regulate its internal temperature, no matter whether the boundary temperature is warmer or cooler than optimal growth conditions. This thermal homeostasis is a completely emergent feature.