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This biology related article has not received a brainstar for quality. Please consider expanding the article appropriately. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


I'm sure Emo666's edit will soon be reverted, but I must say: I agree with him (for the future readers, his edit was: "Life sucks"). It's good to have small things in life, RW and CP among them. They literally can keep someone alive in difficult times. Ed @but not the Poor one! 06:42, 14 January 2008 (EST)

Split article?[edit]

The article is really talking about two different issues. One deals with the biological definition of life, and the other with the moral issues of life. I propose splitting them into separate articles. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:52, 16 February 2008 (EST)

I propose merging into this article exobiology and fairies, to bulk it up for the playoffs. humanUser talk:Human 00:47, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Extra Terrestrial life[edit]

BBC Horizon program 4th March 08. also on web (see link). Susanpurrrrr 00:37, 4 March 2008 (EST)


Not sure I'm convinced... however, the "but" line has not popped into my mind yet. But it might be something like the complete lack of a template for the "next generation" or offspring to be made to resemble the "parent". ħumanUser talk:Human 17:56, 5 October 2008 (EDT)

No, that wouldn't make sense. I think the argument you're looking for might be "fire has no capacity for homeostasis". New3.pngPink(You're welcome) 18:05, 5 October 2008 (EDT)
Thanks, yeah, that sounds good. ħumanUser talk:Human 18:44, 5 October 2008 (EDT)
Put another way, fire has no internal regulation of chemical processes whatsoever, it just burns as long as it has fuel and oxygen (and enough residual heat). ħumanUser talk:Human 19:08, 5 October 2008 (EDT)
Fire consumes energy, and in the case of a slow burning candle, in a controlled manner, but it doesn't preserve information. In fact it usually destroys it. Scarlet A.pngbomination 10:22, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

The classical view[edit]

Really, we've evolved this term "life" for a reason; it's incredibly important to know what we can eat, what we can't eat, and what will eat us and what won't eat us. This rock lying here won't eat me, but I can't eat it. This tiger on the other hand, well, stick around thinking about it and you'll be screaming as it sinks its teeth into you. So we've generated this category for quickly determining the difference between animate food and predators, and inanimate background fluff. The trouble comes from the fact that the universe doesn't have such clean-cut distinctions that follow how the human brain works, and so there's no reason it should bow down to pressure from us to obey what we think it is. Since we've created this massive shining category of objects marked "LIFE" that is very important, we forget that this isn't how the universe is operating. Gravity's affect on us doesn't change because we're alive, the behavior of electrons doesn't change, our vulnerability to chemical oxidation, and so on with countless examples. Similarities between living and non-living things are greater than the differences, surely.

Yet we still treat this distinction as important, and argue it as if the world does have this clean cut border and sorts things neatly for us. So we ask "is this alive?" when we really mean is closer to "is this going to eat us if we turn our back?" Scarlet A.pnggnostic 03:03, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

So plants aren't alive? :-\

Autopoiesis and Self-Production as life[edit]

Since this article has a section on the evolutionary view of life, I'd like to add after that the autopoietic definition of life, first proposed by Chilean evolutionary biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela and then later expended upon by a number of groups, especially European researchers in the field of Artificial Life. Indeed, during the height of the "artificial life" movement there was a big rift between the Santa Fe based artificial life group, who gravitated toward the evolutionary definition of life, and the European artificial life group, who gravitated toward the "self-production" autopoietic view.

My question is this: Is this theory / view too esoteric for this article on Life? Maybe this article could mention autopoietic theory, but a more detailed discussion could go in a separate article about Artificial Life as a field? The different operational definitions people have tried to come up with in order to "build life" might be more worth going into detail in an article like that? Let me know your thoughts! Thanks Gregstevens (talk) 18:39, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Crystals pseudoscience[edit]

The recent unsourced edits are pseudoscience. I thought this was rationalwiki? Jdog (talk) 14:30, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

Explain. Liberosaurus Rex (talk) 14:36, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
You need to add some sources. Like who did you read to come up with this stuff. Etc. — Dysk (contribs) 14:48, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
It's just an obvious point. Is replicating RNA alive? If so are typical crystals alive? What's the distinction? It's not something you need a source for, it's just obvious. I mean the article is currently sourced to garbage like this. Clear logic and no sources at all is so much better. (talk) 14:55, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
The articles isn't going to get a gold brain rating without decent sources mate. — Dysk (contribs) 14:57, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
You're making an authority argument. If you are incapable of discussing the question that's fine. But please don't delete my edits. Feel free to express whether RNA is alive, whether crystals are alive, and why. Is it really so complex you need an "authority" to copy paste from? (talk) 15:02, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Liberosaurus Rex is a sock-puppet of Michael Coombs. His Autopatrolled rights were removed and he slipped up and is now using his IP address. The IP addresses he uses logged on his talk-page are Telefonica UK Limited from exactly the same location, you can Google them. Dysklyver says he is not banning him because he has not broken any rules on his new account, but this guy has been perm banned and cooped here on many socks for extreme racism and sending violent threats. It is foolish if you now want to give this guy a chance of editing here. He is not here to build an encyclopedia. The stuff he adds is nonsensical or unsourced and he is only here to cause trouble. Desert Heat (talk) 15:12, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Wow everyone on Telefonica UK is a neo-nazi, you heard it here first folks! — Dysk (contribs) 19:38, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Argument from authority now ad hominem. I only came here to rationally discuss the definition of life. Sadly the editors here seem incapable of that without resorting to dirty tactics. Simple questions: is RNA alive? Are crystals alive? (talk) 15:20, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Neither RNA nor DNA are alive by itself. Nor are crystals. I looked it up, and this is the mainstream view. — Dysk (contribs) 19:38, 2 March 2019 (UTC)

I'd agree crystals aren't alive. (And why not? That was the point of the section) But why not RNA? When an RNA replicator develops the capability of folding itself after attaching a base pair to more easily attach the next base pair is it then "alive" because it now has the ability to move and advantageously respond to stimuli? If it develops the ability to crack molecules is it then alive because it can feed? What if it has one of these things and not the other? Is it alive when it can do a shit? This all seems rather arbitrary and to be anthropomorphically confusing alive in a day to day folk sense with alive in a strictly defined biological sense. This is the problem with repeating authorities, people don't understand the reasoning and can't explain it. And authorities are often surprisingly dull, repeating the received wisdom.
A key distinguishing feature of living systems is their capacity to undergo Darwinian evolution in response to natural selection. Darwinian evolution requires the propagation of genetic information, from parent to progeny, through processes of molecular self-replication.
An RNA replicator seems to fit the bill.
Life is generally characterized by the following three functions: (1) compartmentalization: the ability to keep its components together and distinguish itself from the environment, (2) replication: the ability to process and transmit heritable information to progeny, and (3) metabolism: the ability to capture energy and material resources, staying away from thermodynamic equilibrium
Again how does an RNA replicator not fit? Capturing base pairs is metabolism. Note also the keyword "progeny", implying a regular type is produced, unlike crystals. (talk) 21:12, 2 March 2019 (UTC)