A possible definition of life.

Miklos Cserzo miklos at pugh.bip.bham.ac.uk
Mon Apr 21 11:31:07 EST 1997



On 16 Apr 1997, Matthew Stanfield wrote:

> I have, what I consider, a possible definition of life.
> 
> I have been reading about Artificial Life (studying for college) and have hit
> upon what I think could be a definition of life (at least on Earth). But I am
> neither arrogant enough nor stupid enough to believe that this has not been
> thought of before and there are probably good reasons why this is not a good
> definition. 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."

Life is rather a process. While there are key some materials of life, life
is not identical to any of its essential chemical components alone. (If it
sounds obscure consider: the food and eating makes the breakfast together,
the presence of cereal alone will not kill your hunger unless you eat it.)
I rather prefer T. Ganti's definition of live as a system that satisfies a
certain set of differential equations ("chemoton" model).

Miklos Cserzo                                     University of Birmingham
                                              MRC - Bioinformatics Project
Tel: +44-121-414-4090        Schools of Biochemistry, Biology and Medicine
Fax: +44-121-414-3982                        Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
E-mail: miklos at pugh.bip.bham.ac.uk                          United Kingdom





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