Re: Life in the Lab -- Fox and the Nobel Prize
Mon, 10 May 1999 23:14:40 EDT

You're playing word games again Moorad.

> Sometning that cannot die is not alive. Life withouth death is not life.

So, you don't believe Christianity when it promises eternal life?

> If protocells cannot die, then they are not alive in the first place.

I never said protocells cannot die. What I said was that they share with
modern cells the property that once they mature they do not age like plants
and animals do. As such, they do not die of old age. Instead they die of
necrosis (starvation, or suffocation, or dehydration, or poisoning, etc) or
of apoptosis (some form of genetic/metabolic self-destruct mechanism).
Protocells can be killed by starving them, suffocating them, dehydrating
them, poisoning them, etc., and they self-destruct, just like modern cells,
but once they grow and mature they do not age, just like modern cells, so
they do not die when they get too old, again just like modern cells. What
part of this explanation do you not understand?

> Why call them protocells, why not cells? Because they are not cells!

By your own admission you don't have the knowledge to have an informed
opinion on this subject (otherwise you would give me a good sound biological
argument as to why protocells are neither alive nor cells, instead of these
metaphysical arguments and word games). If they were not cells they would
not be called protoCELLS. They are called protoCELLS precisely because they
ARE cells: they have a membrane, they have an integrated metabolic system,
they reproduce, etc., just like modern cells. The reason they are called
PROTOcells is because they are the organism from which modern cells evolved.
"Proto-" means "first in time," "earliest," "first formed," "original." So
protocell literally means the original, first-formed organism complete with
membrane and integrated metabolic system capable of reproduction, etc., from
which modern cells evolved.

Instead of playing games, why don't you do what Art Chadwick has failed to
do: read Fox's symposium, then explain how he is wrong. I really do not see
how that is too much to ask.

Kevin L. O'Brien