Definition of Life

MJ Duggan sgex400 at
Wed Feb 2 09:08:25 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!
> ----------------------------------
> Douglas Adams    <>
> ----------------------------------

w.r.t. the last point, i.e. size, the debate in Nature in 1992 was finished by
someone claiming that stands of the quaking Aspen in the US were
enormous and exceeded the other candidates (the giant sequoia for weight,
and a fungus or two for area covered) by orders of magnitude, if memory
serves this was published in Nature, volume 260 as a piece of scientific

mike duggan

(ps I already have tickets for the talk, if this is the one at the
Royal Geographical Society, so make it good! :-) )

More information about the Bioforum mailing list