Are Sperm a Living Creature?

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sun Dec 29 11:58:18 EST 1996

On Sun, 29 Dec 1996, Sid Lipkin wrote:

> Always wondered this...Is human sperm classed as a living creature?

It depends on your definition of life. Some say
that computer viruses are also living beings.
And so are the cars: they do multiply 
(on car factories) using the environment (assembly
workers) for their reproduction and their is
Dawrinian competition for survival between 
variuous breeds of cars.

[ I read this example in Frank Tipler's book ]

>   Is there a genus of animals that it belongs to?  

"genuse", "species", etc are human constructs.
They don't exist 'as such', apart from our
definitions. You can extend any classification 
scheme to cover almost anything you wish.

> Can sperm survive
>   outside the human body(in a lab setting)?

I don't think that the ability to survive 'by yourself'
is a critical point. None of us can do this 
outside the biosphere. Idea of isolated organism
is inevitably approximate.

>    What about anti-bodies?  are they Alive in the sense that we define life?

>      They have a purpose and act according to certain criteria?  

Everything has 'a purpose' (e.g. Sun - to shine) and 'acts
acording certain criteria' (physical laws). In a sense,
everything is alive. Many philosophical systems adhere to this

is this life?
>   Sorry if this is uneducated...just curious

I won't put education and curiocity in a direct
conflict, but they are often not doing well
with each other. 
Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546

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