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Living things...


Previous Entry Living things... Apr. 27th, 2005 @ 10:41 am Next Entry
For some strange reason, I find myself thinking about what constitutes "life" and "living". I'm not talking about the experience of living, but rather the technical, scientific definition of life.

For example, at what point do we consider something to be "living"? Put in it's absolute, fundamental way, where does something change from being just "matter" to being "living matter"?

We consider ourselves (and whole lot of other things) to be "alive"... where does that begin, exactly? We are living beings... our organs are considered to be alive... our cells are alive. The debate is still on about viruses, but I think a minor majority of science considers the virus to be a form of life.

So, where does this life begin? If a cell is alive, we might consider the mitochondria in it to be alive, right? Certainly, life processes and functions are performed by those intra-cellular blobs... what about the nucleus? Is DNA alive? Does that then imply that the molecules DNA as a whole is composed of are alive? If a molecule by itself can be alive (not saying that it can, but if), then why isn't that brick over there alive? Why isn't the sun alive? (it's certainly doing things on it's own).

Where exactly does the line between living and non-living live?
Current Mood: curiouscurious
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Date:April 27th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC)
as a trekkie freak, I too have wondered this question. is Leitenent Commander Data alive or is he merely a clever interactive robot?
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Date:April 28th, 2005 12:15 am (UTC)
There is a five-fold test from Biology ("life" has to meet all five):

1. has mass
2. takes up space
3. exhibits irritability
4. reproduces itself
5. I forgot this one.
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Date:April 28th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC)
life begins when you get tivo.

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