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what is alive?

Ed Rybicki ed at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA
Tue Sep 17 00:44:45 EST 1996


> From:          Mario Vaneechoutte <Mario.Vaneechoutte at rug.ac.be>
> Subject:       Re: what is alive?

> > Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:
> > 
> > > Strange, I would define prions as alive according to the broad

> Arlin Stoltzfus wrote:
> > I don't understand this definition.  In my way of thinking,
...
Mario re-iterated: 
> Indeed, I wish I had a better working definition of what 'information'
> is, myself. But by analogy with cultural information (which I consider
...
> Furthermore, all parasites and all symbionts require input from other
> organisms to copy their information.

...and not only parasites and symbionts, if you think about it.  
Which organisms are capable of making a living off an environment 
containing no other living thing, or organic matter?  
Chemolithoautotrophs and photoautotrophs.  The rest of us parasitise 
them, in one way or another.  So let's not be too proud about 
defining autonomic organisms as living to the exclusion of humble 
little viruses, shall we??

                     Ed Rybicki, PhD  
      Dept Microbiology     |   ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za   
   University of Cape Town  | rybicki at uctvms.uct.ac.za
   Private Bag, Rondebosch  |  phone: x27-21-650-3265
      7700, South Africa    |   fax: x27-21-689 7573
    WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html      
                                        
    "Out here on the perimeter, there are no stars..."



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