Are Sperm Alive?

Ed Arias earias1 at
Sun Jan 12 01:34:52 EST 1997

Dr E. Buxbaum wrote:
> Life can be defined by five characteristics:
> 1) Form: At any time there is a distinct border between a living organism
> and its environment, rather than a gradual transition. The form may
> change over time (amoebae), but it is always given.
> 2) Mobility: All life forms are mobile, at least at some stage in their
> life. Note that for example the orientation of a leaf towards the sun in
> plants counts as mobility.
> 3) Composition: Living organism maintain a concentration gradient of
> substances between them and their environment.
> 4) Propagation: Living organisms are able to reproduce themselfs.
> 5) Metabolism: Living organisms use energy from their environment to
> achieve the above mentioned functions.
> Going through this checklist, you will find that sperms are alive, but
> for example viruses are not (no metabolism).

According to your 4th definition of life...sperm CAN reproduce "themselves"...I 
seriously don't think so.

Ed Arias
University of Illinois at Chicago
Dept of Physiology & Biophysics
835 S. Wolcott Avenue
Chicago, IL  60612
Tel:    312.996.4161
Fax:    312.996.1414
e-mail: earias1 at

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