> People have a notion of what it is to be alive and is obviously governed by
> the living things that surrounds us. In a theory of the synthesis of life,
> there will invariably be some "transitional" forms of life that would
> neither be common nor obvious. Therein will reside the disputes of whether
> life arises from nonliving matter or not.
Most lay common sense notions of physical reality turn out to be wrong; as a
physicist you should know that very well. So a common sense notion of life
is irrelevant. The dispute over whether protocells are life will not be
resolved until people realize that the only definition really significant to
the debate is a biological one, and a biological definition of life will be
closely tied to molecular and cellular biological theory.
Kevin L. O'Brien