Definition of Life

Peter Herman x5495 rpeter at
Fri Feb 11 10:35:10 EST 1994

All of the views presented here mirror just what we try to do in
intro biology course discussion sections, get the prospective
biologists thinking about what is life.  We never seem to reach a
robust defination, but rather accumulate a set of attributes which
taken as a whole characterize but do not strictly circumscribe
living systems.

The best example I can think of along these lines was carried out by
a visiting professor, Frank Hepner, who came to us for a year on
faculty exchange from Rhode Island.  Frank has taken a real intrest
in the teaching of non-majors introductory courses and in using
whatever tools of analagy and shgowmanship it might take to
jumpstart the thinking process.  On the day of this lecture, Frank
arrived in class (to the background music of Steppenwolf's born to be wild)
in full biker garb.  In RI he actually rides in on his Harley.  He
then proceedes to get the class to give him attributes of life.  In
most cases, he can make them fit the Harley too!  They all know the
Harley isn't alive, and it really gets them thinking about how they
know it!

rpeter at
In Real Life:	R. Peter Herman
		Dept. of Biology
		NM State University

More information about the Bioforum mailing list