DNA - is it alive?

David Hagerberg mik_daha at luecology.ecol.lu.sexx
Wed Apr 16 09:58:34 EST 1997


Matthew Stanfield wrote:
> 
> Hi I'm writing a university essay on artificial life. What I would like to
> know is if DNA could under any circumstances be considered alive? What about
> proteins? Bacteria, presumably, are considered alive as are viruses. At what
> point do 'simple things' cease to be alive and become, say, just a chemical
> reaction?
> 
> Thanks in advance. (Answers by email would be preferred.)
> 
> Thanks,
>           Matthew
> 
>                               \\\//
>    J Matthew Stanfield        (O O)
> ------------------------oOO----(_)----OOo-----------------------------
>  School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex, UK
>  Email: mattst at cogs.susx.ac.uk           Phone: UK (+44) 0831  542806
>  Or:    matthew.stanfield at bigfoot.com    Fax  : UK (+44) 01865 514494
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------

The difference between living organisms and vials with chemical reactions 
and gradients, is that living organisms maintain their state of high 
order. They could do because they eat and get energy. A chemical reaction 
will cease when it has reached its equilibrium, but a living orgism will 
never reach the equilibrium of its metabolic reactions until it dies.

DNA is not alive. It has to have a cell which is compatible with DNA. 
When the whole cell can be considered alive. Viruses are not alive until 
they enter their host cells and interfere. 

And, HEY, bacteria is not - I repeat - not just simple things at the 
border of livings. They are elegantly simple.

Best Regards

David



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