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Author Topic:   Life - an Unequivicol Definition
Member (Idle past 126 days)
Posts: 973
From: Central Florida, USA
Joined: 09-13-2013

Message 11 of 374 (772346)
11-12-2015 4:18 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Tanypteryx
11-12-2015 3:30 PM

I have several friends who are virologists and they often treat viruses as living and refer to them as surviving or dying.

And that brings up an interesting conundrum: isn't 'death' the inevitable end of life? And if so, being that viruses can effectively 'die', doesn't that in and of itself give credence to classifying them as 'life'?

I'm no biologist so I frankly have no opinion one way or the other. But it seems to be, as others have alluded to, that pigeon-holing life into a singular definition may be constraining.

Does anyone remember that Michael Crichton book 'The Andromeda Strain'? It was turned into a great movie in 1971. The reason I bring it up, is that it was around a team of scientists there were trying to deal with an outbreak of an alien organism that had infected and killed the people of a small town. When they analyzed the organism, they realized it had a crystalline structure and was able to convert energy without the need for amino acids and nucleic enzymes. Yet it was still 'alive'.

I realize that is still science fiction, but ultimately, classifying life to fit a definition that is very specific to the Earth (and not to all organisms on Earth) may be a little too narrow in view.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Tanypteryx, posted 11-12-2015 3:30 PM Tanypteryx has seen this message

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