what is alive?

Ed Rybicki ed at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA
Fri Sep 13 02:32:19 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  
      Dept Microbiology     |   ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za   
   University of Cape Town  | rybicki at uctvms.uct.ac.za
   Private Bag, Rondebosch  |  phone: x27-21-650-3265
      7700, South Africa    |   fax: x27-21-689 7573
    WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html      
    "Out here on the perimeter, there are no stars..."

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