A possible definition of life.

John R. Campbell campbejr at phu989.mms.sbphrd.com
Wed Apr 16 08:59:16 EST 1997


On 16 Apr 1997 06:37:22 -0700, "Ed Rybicki" <ed at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA> wrote:
>By: mattst at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Matthew Stanfield)
>> ... [snip]
>> 
>> "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.

	Yes, but in order to be replicated these puppies have gotta
	be fed through reverse transcriptase (sp?) to generate the
	DNA which can *then* be replicated to make the shell, RNA
	strands and more reverse transcriptase.

	Well, Matt was trying to focus on the feature that DNA *is*
	a central point for carbon chauvinistic definitions of life.

>                                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").

	Of course, that's trying to tie in "virtual" life (though can
	anybody prove that what I'm going through these past 43 years
	is a "real" life?).

>No, Matthew: I prefer:
>
> "Life (anywhere) is the phenomenon associated with th replciaiton of 
>self-coding informational systems".

	Not entiruely unreasonable and allows nanotech constructs (capable
	of self-replication) an aspect of life.

	Actually, what _is_ a cell but a nanomachine?  (Though I think
	nanotech purists would want to say that the cell has too large
	a size for what they want.)

-- 
 John R. Campbell, Speaker to Machines, Resident Heckler          soup at jtan.com
  "As a SysAdmin, yes, I CAN read your e-mail, but I DON'T get that bored!"-me
   Disclaimer:	I'm just a consultant at the bottom of the food chain, so,
		if you're thinking I speak for anyone but myself, you must
		have more lawyers than sense.




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