Re: Life in the Lab -- Review Paper
Thu, 20 May 1999 20:03:06 EDT

In a message dated 5/20/99 4:40:05 PM Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

> >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
> >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
> >closely tied to molecular and cellular biological theory.
> >
> May I assume then that you will be skeptical about an author who gives
> a definition of life obtained from Websters dictionary?

Of course. I would then look at the dictionary definition to see what kind
of definition it was. According to the dictionary life is, "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." This sounds very much like an attempt to take a biological
definition and state it in lay terms. Hence I would conclude that this
definition is totally appropriate, even if it isn't expressed in scientific
terms, because it is based on scientific concepts.

Kevin L. O'Brien