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What is life. Life is a biological micro-machine.

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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What is life. Life is a biological micro-machine.

Postby MichaelA001 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:28 am

Both living and non-living things are made of atoms. The difference lies in the details of the arrangement of these atoms.

For example in a membrane spanning transport protein the atoms are arranged so as to form particular 3-dimensional mechanical sub-components such as beams, plates, hinges etc. The motive force for these mechanical parts is provided by electric fields. The protein is stable with its initial charge distribution until a matching chemical (with its own charge distribution) causes a change in the charge distribution within the protein. This in turn cause the mechanical components to rotate and translate so that the chemical that was outside is moved to the inside.

All the bits and bobs of a cell are the same. Always atoms filling space (and so giving rise to particular 3-dimensional structures) and a charge distribution which causes the sub-components to occupy a particular spatial relationship (minimum energy) to each other. A change to the charge distribution causes a new minimum energy configuration to be sought and the mechanical components move correspondingly.
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Postby Cat » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:11 am

Nice essay… So what is the major difference in arrangement that makes something alive?
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Postby mith » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:20 am

Minimum energy considerations also have to be considered in the context of entropy
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
~Niebuhr
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Re:

Postby MichaelA001 » Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:30 am

Cat wrote:Nice essay… So what is the major difference in arrangement that makes something alive?


The difference lies in the shapes formed by these atoms and the way these shapes interact with each other. The difference is the same as that between a car engine and a cooker. A car engine can produce movement because it has a crank shaft, pistons etc. The various mechanical sub-components interact with each other in a particular way because of the shapes they have. The same is true of life.
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Postby Cat » Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:21 pm

Yes, but car is no more alive than a cooker... So what specific arrangement would you consider critical for something to be alive?

What I am getting at is this:

You can take a car apart and explain in details why it functions the way it does based in the structure of components. Would you be able to take the cell apart in the same way and explain exactly what would be the minimal components/arrangements/structures of something that is alive...
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Postby MrMistery » Sat Mar 15, 2008 4:37 pm

Right now that isn't possible, but maybe after a lot of future research....
"As a biologist, I firmly believe that when you're dead, you're dead. Except for what you live behind in history. That's the only afterlife" - J. Craig Venter
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Re: What is life. Life is a biological micro-machine.

Postby Cat » Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:04 pm

I am not asking for ‘ultimately correct answer’, I know there isn’t one today, but I would like to know some opinions/suggestions etc…
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