Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.
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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.
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.
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...
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
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…
7 posts • Page 1 of 1
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