The Loom

Life At Last

Earlier this summer my cover story on the meaning of life (or, at least, “life”) came out in the July/August issue of Seed. Now, at long last, the Seedsters have posted the story online. Read it here.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Belyea
    September 5, 2007

    Intriguing stuff. I’ll have to come back and read it again in a few days.

    Carol Cleland, who teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado and works with NASA’s National Astrobiology Institute…

    Ah yes … the blond in Monty Python with the big … no, wait – that was Carol Cleveland.

    I’m sorry. I’ll start again.

    Intriguing stuff. I’ll have to come back and read it again in a few days. One question that comes to mind – did you encounter any thoughts on how sharp or fuzzy the boundary between “life” and “non-life” can be made? In other words, is the expectation that everything can be explicitly sorted into either “life” or “non-life”?

  2. #2 SG
    September 5, 2007

    Very cool article, and a very interesting etymological conundrum. It’s ironic that chemistry is invoked more than once as a field which doesn’t have the same difficulties with defining key principles (at least nothing as nettlesome as “life”) when in fact many terms (i.e. “chemical” and “organic”) have been bastardized by the masses to such an extent as to mean almost exactly the opposite of what was intended. Perhaps the same issue has intruded on the definition of “life”. It almost seems that in an effort to make science understandable, we’ve allowed the language of science to become little more than slang. Don’t even get me started on what it means to be “pro-life”…

  3. #3 Heleen
    September 13, 2007

    Tibor Ganti and Eors Szathmary are sadly missing in this article. When Zimmer writes Bedau has been pondering just what those milestones might be. To qualify as fully alive, he argues, a system needs three basic features. Life needs a container; it needs a way to encode and replicate information; and it needs a way to capture and use energy., Zimmer might be quoting an opinion as favoured by Bedau that is already generally known, quite old and accepted, rather than a novel idea by Bedau. The clue should be in the 1999 book by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary, The origins of life : from the birth of life to the origin of language, as well as in their larger 1995 book. These ideas go back to Tibor Ganti.

  4. #4 jfrancishill
    February 13, 2008

    Life
    (at the end of the day)

    Life is force
    driven by instinct
    to necessity,
    harnessed by spirit
    where flesh provides ability
    to sustain future process
    beyond the next sunset.

    (c)jfrancis
    2.13.8

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