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Author Topic:   What is life?
alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 1 of 33 (503365)
03-18-2009 9:56 AM


I was following a post on the origins of life and began thinking about that age-old question, what is life? Koshland gave us the "P(rogram), I(mprovisation), C(ompartmentalization), E(nergy), R(egeneration), A(daptability), S(eclusion)" definition. Has anyone developed a simpler one? Discussions on the topic would be easier if we had an accurate, simpler definition.
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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 3 of 33 (503395)
03-18-2009 3:05 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminNosy
03-18-2009 10:21 AM


Re: some expansion please
He called them the seven pillars of life. Here is basically what they are;
1. Program - Life has some kind of organized plan to operate through such as the nucleic acid and amino acid system.
2. Improvization - A living thing can change its plan in response to its environment.
3. Compartmentalization - A living thing must have separated spaces for necessary reactions to prevent other ingredients from messing up the reactions.
4. Energy - Living things require energy.
5. Regeneration - Living things must have a system to repair or restore damaged or lost components or processes.
6. Adaptability - A living thing responses to changes, dangers, and needs.
7. Seclusion - Chemical pathways must be separated.

Yes, I think Origin of Life would be an appropriate category.


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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 6 of 33 (503430)
03-18-2009 8:02 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Stagamancer
03-18-2009 4:38 PM


Re: some expansion please
May I ask why you want to define life?

I was following a post on abiogenisis and thinking about what it took to create the first living cell. I realized how difficult it is to actually talk about life because the definition is so complicated. My aim was not to try and define life but to see if someone has come up with a simpler definition in recent years so it would be easier to talk about.


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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 9 of 33 (503455)
03-19-2009 8:40 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Trae
03-18-2009 11:49 PM


Re: some expansion please
This sounds a bit like you think life did not begin until the first cell formed.

If we follow this train of thought, we are going to be sidetracked back to the "how the universe began" discussion.
A reasonably simple but accurate definition of life please.

High five for Dr. A but that would include and exclude some things that we do not and do consider life.


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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 12 of 33 (503512)
03-19-2009 6:10 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Dr Adequate
03-19-2009 11:07 AM


Re: some expansion please
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "surface" catalysis?
I can see it excluding all males. While some consider them of limited value, most do consider them as some kind of basic life form. tic
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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 14 of 33 (503530)
03-19-2009 9:36 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Dr Adequate
03-19-2009 8:11 PM


Re: some expansion please
Is anyone round here a chemist?

Chemists, bah. Biology all the way.

Why? I am male, and the chemicals of which I am constituted do indeed catalyze their own synthesis.

I misunderstood. By synthesis I was infering reproduction.


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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 17 of 33 (504896)
04-04-2009 9:34 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by Blue Jay
04-03-2009 10:18 AM


Re: Definition of "Life"
We need definitions to discuss and make decisions. When is a fetus considered alive? This would help us make decisions about the abortion issue. What was the first living cell? This would help us decide on a viable model.
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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 19 of 33 (504910)
04-04-2009 5:34 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by RAZD
04-04-2009 10:44 AM


Re: Definition of "Life" -- thresholds and subjective interpretations
There are several definitions of life, all of them with problems, because it is like defining "green" on a spectrum:

You are giving the doctors, lawyers, and insurance agents in the crowd anxiety attacks. If the definintion of life is a spectrum, then we create a problem with the definition of death. If someone is dead, we can sign the certificate, close the estate, and settle the claims. If they are partially alive..... Have you been watching The Princess Bride? (lol) If someone is dead, (s)he cannot be brought back to life. If you kill a simple (I know bacteria are not simple but you know what I mean) bacterium, it cannot be brought back, even if all the parts remain intact and undamaged. During mitosis the cell or cells are still considered living. They may not be considered individuals but they are living.


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alaninnont
Member (Idle past 3634 days)
Posts: 107
Joined: 02-27-2009


Message 22 of 33 (504916)
04-04-2009 10:37 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by RAZD
04-04-2009 6:37 PM


Re: Definition of "Life" -- thresholds and subjective interpretations
Great article. So, what I hear you saying is that I am not going to get my wish for a relatively simple definition of life.
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