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what is alive?

Louis van de Zande L.P.W.G.M.van.de.Zande at biol.rug.nl
Fri Sep 13 06:24:40 EST 1996

> > From:          "Mike O'Hara" <mohara at ihug.co.nz>
> > Subject:       what is alive?
> > Carrying on from the original question (are viruses alive) and looking 
> > at Mario Vaneechoutte's definition, how do people feel about 'alive' for 
> > the BSE agent. At this stage it looks to be a variant protein form that 
> > perpetuates its structure by altering non-variant forms (the ultimate in 
> > political conversions). One would have to suppose that the variant form 
> > arose in some way and has since perpetuated itself. 
> For me, it's simple: it's not replicating; like fire, it is simply 
> propagating a chemical reaction which varies according to its 
> substrate; therefore, it is not alive.
>                      Ed Rybicki, PhD  

OK, so replication (together with, perhaps, recursive coding) is an 
essential feature of LIFE.
Is it a necessary or a sufficient condition? In other words, can 
(computer) programs be considered alive? (I know what Ed thinks).

Louis van de Zande

(Life is a minestrone. (10CC))

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