by | Mar 4, 2017

Merrian-Webster Definition

  1. The quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body
  2. a principle of force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings
  3. an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.

There are many definitions given by Webster for the term life that are not descriptive of what life actually is.

This Engineer’s Definition

  1. a state of matter/energy continuously running a vital, intelligent process in a cell or organism that sustains and perpetuates itself as distinguished from dead matter/energy..

A clear definition of what our life is because important we are discussing how our life started on Earth.  Realizing that life is an intelligent process defines functionalities that must exist in it. The wisdom had been that life was all chemistry, but it is apparent that machinery is involved and necessary as chemistry has no mechanism to accomplish intelligent work and there now is a realization that machinery is involved. We have learned a lot about life especially considering the fact that it is molecular machinery at the boundary of the micro and macro world. But the obstacles to instrument and measure at this size and speed scale make it impossible to reverse engineer life to any measure close to what we can do with human creations. It appears that we learning a lot at the high, systems level, but very little regarding how the molecular machinery works in detail.

However, knowing that life is a process implemented by molecular machinery, coupled with our ability to understand the functionalities required to make such machinery work, we can answer some questions such as whether or not the life machinery can be created, initial conditions for the process established, and the start process action are capabilities of natural causes. We do not need to all the details how life achieves these functionalities – just whether natural causes are capable of creating them.   This knowledge defines the elements of functionality that must exist in the cell.  It also tells us that certain initial conditions had to exist to start life. Before we know what these conditions are, we need to better understand the process itself, including languages, algorithms, and protocols that exist to control and coordinate the process.


© 2016 Mike Van Schoiack

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