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Definition of non-biological life.





ocalhoun
1: Can we assume that there could be things rightfully called 'life', which are not 'biological', in the sense that they are not organized into living cells, don't have DNA, don't use the same chemical processes, and perhaps don't use chemical processes at all?

2: If so, how do we define what is alive and what is not, when being biological or not is irrelevant?

(Some examples to work with: Mechanical 'imitations' of life, Simulated (software only) life, fire, extraterrestrial life. (Of the four here, 1 is strictly theoretical, 2 are mostly theoretical, and 1 is demonstrably real.)
Bannik
i am not sure what defines life but i am almost certain that life does not have to be biological......
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
1: Can we assume that there could be things rightfully called 'life', which are not 'biological', in the sense that they are not organized into living cells, don't have DNA, don't use the same chemical processes, and perhaps don't use chemical processes at all?

2: If so, how do we define what is alive and what is not, when being biological or not is irrelevant?

(Some examples to work with: Mechanical 'imitations' of life, Simulated (software only) life, fire, extraterrestrial life. (Of the four here, 1 is strictly theoretical, 2 are mostly theoretical, and 1 is demonstrably real.)
I did some googling and found an interesting article by Prof. Carol Cleland on: "Life's Working Definition: Does It Work?" that may lean towards where you are heading with this?:
Quote:
Summary: Finding life elsewhere in the universe depends on knowing when you see it, according to Colorado professor Carol Cleland. She gives a view of how life might not need a working definition as much as a theory of life -- at least until scientists find a few more exceptions to prove the rules.

http://www.astrobio.net/index.php?option=com_exclusive&task=detail&id=428
pauli
Hi
My definition is that life is anything that shows behaviour that cannot be easily described by laws of physics.

For example, a string puppet is not alive because the movements are due to the strings and the pull action by the puppet master's finger, and all the push-pull forces between the wood plastic and string elements.

But what about software instructions in a robot commanding the robot to move in a circle. That circular movement is not because of some wind.

But isn't that just "strings" in digital form? The wind is also not causing the puppet's movements.

So, it is not necessarily clear. However, other times I refer to life as the rock rolling up the hill.

So, for example, programming the robot to drive up a hill would mean the robot is a form of non-biological life.

But that cannot happen without human intervention. Without human intervention, no non-biological object will go against the laws of nature.

The difference therefore is the human presence: nonbiological life requires that biological life cause a non-biological entity behave in contradiction with the laws of nature.

Regards
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