LIFE vs DEATH (seeking answers)

William A Taylor president at whitehouse.gov
Sat May 3 08:40:04 EST 1997

e904952p at hjc wrote:

> Hi! I am a high school student fascinated by the phenomena of life. I've
> just discovered the wonder of Usenet so I've been posted a lot recently.
> One thing I want to ask is that what exactly happens when life leaves a
> living organism. Physically I don't see anything much has happened. We
> still got roughly, if not exactly, the same amount of matter there, but
> still something must have happened, since it's now dead!
> So what is it?
> If we consider life as an open system could we say that it's gone though
> bifurcation and has 'jumped' to another state which is commonly called
> 'death'?
> Life is certainly a strange phenomena. If we construct a system and throw
> in some nutrients and a living organism, some time later we find two
> organisms in the system. But if we throw in a DEAD organism, nothing will
> happen no matter how long we wait.
> Isn't it kind of odd?

I see this as a philosophical question, which will not find many
satisfying responses in this newsgroup as this is mostly a scientific
forum.  Scientific views of life can be called mechanistic which says that
living things are merely a more complex arrangement of matter than
non-living things.  A vitalist view holds that living things are of a
different quality than non-living things.  I think that your answer lies
in the latter which, however, is not the scientific view.

Bill Taylor, Bill at innocent.com

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