A possible definition of life.

Ed Rybicki ed at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA
Wed Apr 16 08:37:22 EST 1997

> 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".

c. Rybicki, 1995.
                     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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