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peter lindsay

Physics Teacher,


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A universal definition of life.

Any entity that has the ability to store and exchange information autonomously.
Perhaps as we move through the next millenium we will need a definition of life that is this general. It may be needed to classify artificial life or to classify alien life. We may find life forms so different to ourselves that the only recognisable feature is information management. It might also help us to identify the point at which a person is no longer alive.

Topics: afterlife death life

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  • Aug 26 2012: Hi Rohan,

    With regard to the rock/moss situation, that's a little bit different to the virus situation because viruses, whether nucleic acid or software based, rely on their host to carry out the mechanisms of reproduction for them, whereas the rock is not carrying out reproduction for the moss, it is simply acting as some sort of input for the moss to grow from.
    The same argument can be used for trees and soil. Soil only provides various inputs for trees such as nitrogen and water, even humans need food to function, even chloroplast containing bacteria rely on photons from the sun to provide energy for cellular respiration. No life form can survive independently of everything.

    I suppose my point is whether reproduction is considered essential for a classification as living, in which case viruses may not not count, depending on your classification of reproduction, and software viruses in particular as their existence is dependent on a foreign entity (for lack of a better word) which itself has no means of reproduction.

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