Definition of Life

Douglas Adams adamsd at cerf.net
Tue Feb 1 19:01:01 EST 1994


I have to give a talk next week, for which it would be useful for me to
know a couple of things:

1  What is a good definition of Life? What are the criteria? Complexity?
Self-organisation? Reproduction? Competitive reproduction/Evolution? When
people argue over the Gaia hypothesis, (i.e. can the Earth be considered a
living organism) what are the criteria that apply?
2  What are some good examples of the most extreme forms it can take? Like
what is the simplest form, the most complex, the biggest, smallest, most
unlikely (by which I mean something that we would not expect to think of as
being alive). Colonies? Tree stands? (I think I read somewhere that a
gigantic stand of trees has recently been discovered, but I don't have
details)

Any help would be gratefully received. (By email if possible)

Thanks!

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Douglas Adams    <adamsd.cerf.net>
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