A possible definition of life.

The Journal of NIH Research jnihr at access5.digex.net
Wed Apr 16 10:25:55 EST 1997


To make things more confusing, some RNA viruses can "metabolise" outside
of cells, given the proper conditions. The phenomenon of natural
endogenous reverse transcription (NERT)--in which cell-free RNA viruses
synthesize DNA--has been described in several viruses, including HIV-1,
where it may play a role in heterosexual transmission because of the
abundance of nucleoside triphosphates in uterine environment. 

David Lewin
Writer
The Journal of NIH Research


In article <m0wHUt6-0004OBC at uctmail2.uct.ac.za>,
Ed Rybicki <ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za> wrote:
>> From:          mattst at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Matthew Stanfield)
>> Subject:       A possible definition of life.
>
>> I have, what I consider, a possible definition of life.
>> 
>> I have been reading about Artificial Life (studying for college) and have hit
>... Please could someone explain to me why the age-old problem of
>> defining life is not solved by:
>> 
>> "Life (on Earth) consists of all things built by DNA."
>
>Because, Matthew, there are those of us who think viruses - at least 
>when in their hosts - display the attributes of living things.  And 
>many viruses have RNA genomes.  This is not to mention the 
>possibility that computer viruses are, given a brand new niche of 
>electronic labyrinths in which to electronicaly multiply, also alive 
>(who are we to argue with Stephen Hawking?).  Or memes (thought 
>viruses - like the tune of "The Macarena").
>
>No, Matthew: I prefer:
>
> "Life (anywhere) is the phenomenon associated with th replciaiton of 
>self-coding informational systems".
>
[SNIP]



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