Old 3rd August 2004, 23:31   #1
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Alive?

When someone tells you that something is alive, we all know what it means. Why then, is it so hard to define life? It's right there. Given an object or organism, we can tell whether or not it is alive. But why can't we quantify it? What makes it so impossible to say this is what defines life: this this and that?

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Old 3rd August 2004, 23:33   #2
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Is this a homework assignment?
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Old 3rd August 2004, 23:57   #3
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It's summer. I'm still in high school. I am not taking AP bio next year, i am taking ap chem. I am not taking any class that is remotely related to this.

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Old 4th August 2004, 00:04   #4
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you mean this: The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

or do you mean the meaning of life?

"Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?"
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Old 4th August 2004, 00:19   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Coman
or do you mean the meaning of life?

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Old 4th August 2004, 00:25   #6
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i don't know what are you talking about but i found this funny:

err.. just go here

"Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?"
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Old 4th August 2004, 00:25   #7
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but you see, coman, thats kind of skirting the issue. that's just saying that something alive isn't dead. Sure, it mentions the functions but what is there that conclusively makes it alive? What thing is it, that without it, it isn't alive?

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Old 4th August 2004, 00:29   #8
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without: metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism?

or as xzxzzx would say it: without me thinking about you.

"Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?"
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Old 4th August 2004, 09:55   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Coman
without: metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism?

or as xzxzzx would say it: without me thinking about you.
THis is nearly all correct. THere are exceptions. For example, children are considered alive although they have virtually no ablility to reproduce and bacteria are alive although some of them can become extremely dormant to the point of no metabolism or growth. In other words, there must be POTENTIAL FOR (but not necessarily present) metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli/adaptation to environment at one (potential) point [doesn't need to be all present at once]. THere ya go. that's why life is so easy to define.

then there are things like viruses that grow, reproduce, and respond to stimuli but don't have their own metabolism (they use the energy of the host cell). Then there are people who metabolize, grow, and can reproduce but have no response to the environment (comatose patients, Germ).


The better question to ponder is why a sperm cell is considered alive, an oocyte is considered alive, a zygote is considered alive, but not considered A LIFE.

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Old 4th August 2004, 13:00   #10
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the meaning of life is sex ofcourse, no sex = no births = no life
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Old 4th August 2004, 13:07   #11
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Apart from asexual organisms, of course.

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Old 4th August 2004, 13:40   #12
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A thing is alive if it fulfils certain functions. I can't remember all of them right now, but it has to reproduce, eat, excrete, etc. We learnt about it in 3rd form (year 9) science, I used to have a book with it.

If I recall correctly, the only thing which is alive, yet does not fulful all the functions of life, is a virus.
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Old 4th August 2004, 13:40   #13
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Old 5th August 2004, 01:28   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cognition
A thing is alive if it fulfils certain functions. I can't remember all of them right now, but it has to reproduce, eat, excrete, etc. We learnt about it in 3rd form (year 9) science, I used to have a book with it.

If I recall correctly, the only thing which is alive, yet does not fulful all the functions of life, is a virus.
dregs summit up from the history section of brain...I remember this ...supposed to be 7 things if I remember right...

was a long time ago

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Old 5th August 2004, 06:06   #15
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RINGMER, that was the mnemonic they gave us

Respiration, irritability, nutrition, growth, masturbation, excretion, reproduction.

not sure about the M though. Can't remember.
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Old 5th August 2004, 13:23   #16
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Metabolism, I think
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Old 5th August 2004, 13:48   #17
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masturbation? i don't think so.

"Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?"
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Old 6th August 2004, 08:14   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Coman
masturbation? i don't think so.
is that because you know so?

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Old 6th August 2004, 14:59   #19
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what do you mean?

"Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?"
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Old 6th August 2004, 16:13   #20
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Anything that ha the ability to execute GRIMNER is defined as living.
Growth
Respiration
Irritability
Movement
Nutrition
Excretion
Reproduction

And yes GqSkrub children do reproduce, asexually that is.

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Old 6th August 2004, 16:55   #21
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What if not all of them are present at any given time?

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Old 7th August 2004, 12:59   #22
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Movement
our earth moves, but its a silent object
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Old 8th August 2004, 10:56   #23
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I think irritability is one of the most important ones. The capacity to react to something. You have to be alive for that.
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Old 8th August 2004, 11:04   #24
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You're also forgetting cellular construction. Otherwise, fire would technically be alive.

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Old 8th August 2004, 11:15   #25
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This thread will serve as a treasure trove of smart-ass comebacks next time you're told to "get a life".

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Old 9th August 2004, 00:58   #26
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how do children reproduce asexually?
how does fire reproduce?

No sig here folks.
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Old 9th August 2004, 02:01   #27
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Fire doesn't grow. Fire doesn't respond to stimuli. Doesn't breathe, excrete, reproduce or eat. It's just a chemical reaction.
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Old 9th August 2004, 02:19   #28
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Old 9th August 2004, 07:37   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
Fire doesn't grow. Fire doesn't respond to stimuli. Doesn't breathe, excrete, reproduce or eat. It's just a chemical reaction.
Fire does grow, does respond to stimuli (albiet in a very simple manner), does breathe, does excrete, does reproduce, and does eat.

However, fire isn't a thing, it's more of a state of other things.

Freedom of speech is the basic freedom of humanity. When you've lost that, you've lost everything.
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Old 9th August 2004, 07:39   #30
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Fire is a gas.
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Old 9th August 2004, 07:55   #31
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Actually, what you see in fire is solid particles of carbon glowing.
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Old 9th August 2004, 07:59   #32
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Ah crap. I guess I should edit my last post. But oh well.
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Old 9th August 2004, 08:11   #33
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang
Actually, what you see in fire is solid particles of carbon glowing.
Um, no. Fire, for instance, will burn Hydrogen.

Freedom of speech is the basic freedom of humanity. When you've lost that, you've lost everything.
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Old 9th August 2004, 09:12   #34
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Flame
noun

1 : the glowing gaseous part of a fire : a body of gas or vapor that gives off energy usually in the form of light and heat as a result of a rapid chemical reaction between a combustible material and air, oxygen or other oxidizing agent, that may be luminous, yellow, and smoky if it contains suspended incandescent particles (as of carbon in the case of a candle) or variously colored if certain elements or their compounds are present or predominantly nonluminous, bluish, and hotter as the proportion of air or oxygen in the burning mixture is increased, and that when nonluminous (as produced by a Bunsen burner) typically shows a bright inner cone constituting the flame front where the combustion starts and separating the incoming premixed fuel gas and air from a pale outer cone where the excess of fuel gas reacts with the oxygen of the surrounding air

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Old 9th August 2004, 09:14   #35
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That's true. So why would the flame be yellow?

I remember being told it was carbon particles when we went through the different ways of using a bunsen burner.
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Old 9th August 2004, 10:03   #36
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Layman answer with some details:

Particles are promoted to an excited state by heating. Then they emit light when returning from the excited state to a stable state.

The wavelength of the light emitted (and consequently its colour) depends on the material that's on fire, and the temperature (which promotes the material to different excited states).

Carbon as found in charcoal is heated to a relatively low temperature. The light emitted at this temperature happens to be yellow.

Hydrocarbon fuels, as used in bunsen burners, can achieve a higher temperature, if given plenty of oxygen supply. The bluish flame you see from a bunsen burner with the air hole fully opened is a result of light emitted by carbon, hydrogen and oxygen burning at this high temperature.

When the oxygen supply is depleted (by closing the air hole), the fuel can only burn at a low temperature. You get essentially the same effect as burning charcoal, i.e. yellow flames.

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