formula based on established physics indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or an atmosphere) it will gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy this could mean that under certain conditions matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life “you start with a random clump of atoms and if you shine light on it for long enough it should not be so surprising that you get a plant