John Cherwonogrodzky jcherwon at dres.dnd.ca
Wed May 14 12:52:56 EST 1997

Dear Colleagues:
     The following is mostly babble, even for me, and it's more intuitive than 
logical. My apologies for the following.

      There was the question posed "are prions lifeforms", given that these 
replicate. The obvious answer is of course not. These are proteins and are no 
more alive than a lump of salt. 
     Then I started thinking. Is life an all or none response, or are there 
gradations, with "proto-life" forms possible? If a life form is composed of 
several parts, is each part a part of that life form and hence partly life 
     Something like alcohol is a simple organic, and yet, if it affects 
behaviour what is really going on. If a pilot is flying a 747, is it the large 
complicated 747 that is the lifeform, or is it the pilot or is it whatever is 
controlling the pilot? Where do hormones enter? If these control the behaviour 
of a person, have feedback which controls their production or expression, are 
these just chemicals or something else?
    What of a disease like rabies. Is it just a bunch of chemicals, or if it 
controls behaviour so that it can spread and multiply, is it something more?
     What of a single light photon? If it can "decide" whether to act like a 
particle through a single pinpoint or act like a wave through two pinpoints, 
is it something greater than a packet of energy? (actually I think this 
can be explained by probabilities and uncertainty, but I digress)  

Again, I regret the unscientific vagueness and I hope no-one is irritated by 
my trying to put someting intuitive into words. Take care...John

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