Talk:Life/Archive 4

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5

Since When is Life a Taxonomic Supergroup?

Just a question without a response. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.238.178.124 (talk) 21:30, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Archiving talk

As a general rule, I would favor only archiving talk threads that have been quiet for a while, say a month. Exceptions can of course be made for persistent soap-boxers, etc, but even then some notice (? a week?) would be nice. Wwheaton (talk) 07:33, 23 December 2008 (UTC)


(--Faustnh (talk) 16:34, 18 January 2009 (UTC)). Hi. I would like to express I think Wwheaton is right. Particularly I'd like to express it would be better to archive a talk page when the extension of its content made it convenient.


Rest assured that the extension of its content was inconvenient. BatteryIncluded (talk) 05:46, 19 January 2009 (UTC)


(--Faustnh (talk) 15:24, 19 January 2009 (UTC)) .- Well, guess that was a good beginning.

Discussing definition

From the article:


"There is no universal definition of life. To define life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge for scientists, and when derived from an analysis of known organisms, life is usually defined at the cellular level."


Er... How about this one: life is a form of information that have found its way to survive

It correlates nicely with the physical characteristics [See 1]:

  • feeds on negative entropy;
  • continuous systems able to decrease their internal entropy;
  • DNA/RNA is just information;
  • cultural heritage is just information;
  • etc...

It includes viruses and every other possible 'living creature'. It gives nice definition of evolution - based on entropy. It even gives the definition of the 'intelligent life' - one that can formulate a clear definition of the term :)

--Mitra (talk) 07:31, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

P.S. Support that definition and become the very few first species of the 'intelligent human life' on the planet :)

P.P.S. The idea is definitely NOT O.R. See No_original_research, "The "No original research" rule does not forbid routine calculations ....."

P.P.P.S. Regard the GNU_Free_Documentation_License ;) —Preceding unsigned comment added by M i t r a (talkcontribs) 08:11, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

I have re-ordered the above addition, in line with the standard talk-page system of putting later threads last. Then if later comments come in on earlier threads, the only defense against hopeless confusion (that I know at least) seems to be careful indentation and rigorous signing & date-stamping of posts.
I do support the general notion that this article needs to be broadened beyond the "cell-chauvinistic" position previously advocated by User:BatteryIncluded (see the /Archive 3). I think there is ample place to discuss cell biology and microbiology in Wikipedia already, while this article should (besides surveying traditional Earth biology) at least try to address the physical and philosophical issues involved in the definition in terms of function, and mention broader proposed extensions that are not arbitrarily tied to a particular chemical or physical substrate. As we begin to escape from our terrestrial environment, we may encounter life forms that are really different that earthly cellular life. How are we to recognize those, deal with them, and value them? Without some more extensive prior thought we could just dismiss them as "rocks" and grind them up to make toasters or Barbie Dolls. (If they do not do something similar to us first, of course.) Even on Earth, we encounter borderline bioforms, such as viruses, prions, and superorganisms that do not fit the cellular model, but which are clearly biological. Technology also is leading us swiftly to systems that behave more and more like "life" but do not yet clearly qualify. I agree that the fundamental issues seems to revolve around information and entropy.
In my opinion none of the above suggestions by Mitra, or me, or others can go into article space itself without reliable sources because of our original research disciplines, which appear absolutely necessary to this enterprise. However there is such a literature, as referenced in Living systems and Living systems theory, Thermoeconomics, going back at least to James Grier Miller's seminal paper in 1978, Schroedinger's famous 1944 book What Is Life? and probably well before. Some of this is already mentioned in the references and the "See also" links. (My own background is in physics, so I am not well-qualified in these areas, and hoped to find more expert information here.)
The discussion of what is known and published in the literature, and how it might best fit into this article (or perhaps spin off a separate article on definition?), seems to me to be valid material for our talk page. Wwheaton (talk) 02:13, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
We can make up definitions, the fact remains that they are original "research". The universal scientific consensus is that the cell is the basic unit of life. It is not "chauvinistic", it is simply that angels and invisible galactic pink unicorns are not available for analysis. I personally have faith in the Gaia hypothesis, but if each of us begin to write about our own faith, beliefs on "living rocks", living sotware, etc., the article will degrade in quality and usefulness. Fringe theories can be interesting and even catalysts for research, yet they are beyond the scope of Wikipedia. However, experts in astrobiology are quite aware that hypothetical extraterrestrial life could be different from what we know. Astrobiology programs are -of course- questioning how we can detect extraterrestrial life if different from ours. Astrobiologists are not inside a laboratory bubble as you want us to believe. For example, NASA’s Astrobiology Program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe? [1]. There are at least other 2 or 3 formal astrobiology programs, and all are asking the right questions.... all outside of the box, and indeed, they make use of philosophy as their noble premises are largely hypothetical. Until we come across an extraterrestrial living rock, an angel or a galactic invisible pink unicorn, all forms of life identified so far by science are terrestrial, physical, and cellular. BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:14, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, I hope I see your point, yet I am not sure. I do not see a definition as "research", only as a proposed meaning for a word, which may or may not become accepted as useful. I know the status of viruses as life is somewhat controversial, but I was unaware that it was settled dogma, or universal consensus. And what about superorganisms? They are not cells, but are they a kind of organism? (If not, why are sponges or people organisms?) Would you then deny the possibility of our encountering a non-cellular life form, on or off the Earth? Is astrobiology by definition limited to searching for cellular life? If we we were to encounter something that preserves and reproduces its core information content, metabolizes and processes energy to enable it to hold off the Second Law, and manipulates its environment to its advantage, would we then deny the possibility of it being life if it were non-cellular? (Perhaps homeostasis is the key issue here? Your cells actively maintain an internal environment, whereas a virus does not, or barely does.)
Forgive me for not deferring to you obviously greater expertise, but I do believe there is some respectable literature supporting my questions about these issues. Cheers, Wwheaton (talk) 04:20, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Uh. It's interesting how you've started talking about 'beliefs' right away. And I don't mind that at all. People beliefs ARE important and maybe we can find a place in the article describing some common ones. On the other side though stays scientific definition, and it's department of logic, not beliefs. There are obviously several most common definitions, with the biological leading the way. And lets keep it that way; only lets call it what it is -- 'biological definition of life'. --Mitra (talk) 17:30, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
To BatteryIncluded. It's very difficult to use your comments. Not logical, not NPOV, O.R., mixed with your personal beliefs. Even the phrase: "The universal scientific consensus is that the cell is the basic unit of life." - says who?! The 'universal board of science?!?'. And the rest of your comment is entirely your personal beliefs. Please keep NPOV. --Mitra (talk) 21:47, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Gentlemen, under yor proposed definition, an ancient cave painting that survived time, erosion and humidity would be considered alive. Please feel free to go back to the drawing board. Better yet, why reinvent the wheel? What is the centuries-old scientific discipline in charge of studying and describing life?: Biology. So let's consider instead what biologists have brough forth so far. Regarding non-cellular life (excluding virus), there is no evidence of it, yet astrobiologists are open to notice its different possible manifestations. The day an invisible galactic pink unicorn or talking fire-ball crosses the path of earthlings, then hopefully we will notice its particular biology and sure enough, a new definition of life will be formulated, based on the observed phenomena. Although the world convention is that the basic unit of life is the cell, biologists have not agreed on a definitive definition of it; never mind trying to define hypothetical organisms we don't even know or may not even exist. The problem with your making a definition so wide and general so that everything gets included "just in case", is that such definition would have no practical usefulness. Now if it is religion you want to discuss, (soul, god, angels, demons, satan, heaven, hell, salvation, damnation, ghosts, holly ghosts, etc.), there are several religious and faith-related articles dealing with their empirical perception of life and spirituality. If it is creationism/intelligent design, there are articles on that too. If it is natural science and biology, e.g: the study of life, I am in. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:51, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
"under your proposed definition, an ancient cave painting that survived time, erosion and humidity would be considered alive". -- This is correct. But the entropy here is going to be quite high. And the amount of information - very low. Usefulness: clear, almost mathematical definition can be useful. And it is natural science and biology that I like to discuss here, not beliefs or religion. --Mitra (talk) 01:26, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
On the other hand any biological 'system' is immensely complex, the amount of information high and entropy quite low. --Mitra (talk) 01:39, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, of course my suggestion started by saying that life has a kernel of core information, which it reproduces (fairly) faithfully. That excludes cave paintings. By reproducing its information core, it actively organizes its surrounding materials, which requires free energy G, and thus metabolism. This is physics and chemistry, nothing spiritual suggested (meant without prejudice). Saying life is necessarily "cells", without a physical definition of the term, seems to me to hark back to vitalism, almost; though I would not accuse BatteryIncluded of that heinous sin. (But I would appreciate it if you, my learned friend, would drop the pink unicorns.) I admit if I actually encountered pink ghostly unicorns that satisfied my physical criteria (cruelly archived, alas; anyone who is interested can look near the end of /Archive 3), especially if these critters had a large ratio of core information kernel size to environmental information content, then I suppose I would have to at least consider the possibility that they might qualify as alive.
Anyhow, I still think cells are good examples of life, but not necessarily a good definition of life. And I think we are approaching a level of awareness where it would behoove us to think hard about what the real physical and chemical qualifications might be that distinguish life from non-life. My proposal makes a stab at defining a number, the ratio of kernel to environmental information content, according to which candidates might be classified and ranked—without being too committal yet as to what the threshold value should be, or if there should even be a definite threshold. I do not really think this idea can be original, but I had hoped (and still do hope) that some of the more expert people interested in this subject might provide useful guidance, and perhaps entree to the relevant literature, either for correcting and refining my idea, with a view to strengthening this article, or conceivably starting a new one. KILLING the idea off decently, entirely, would of course be OK, but I am not yet convinced that has been done. Cheers, Wwheaton (talk) 02:48, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Er.. Wwheaton. FYI - cave paintings have their peculiar way of reproduction and evolution. Apparently you need an ape to copy and spread one. --Mitra (talk) 03:18, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Good point. The cave man is part of the environment for the "Painting Life" to grow, and he has a lot of information in him, more than the painting itself, so the information ratio would be very small, thus I would call it "not very lifelike". Cheers, Wwheaton (talk) 03:36, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Er.. would you call information "not very informationlike" if the number of bits is to few? --Mitra (talk) 03:53, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Look at this cave painting [2]. It's fascinating to estimate just how much information (life) have been just transferred from that ape to you. And how it will evolve. --Mitra (talk) 04:28, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
See Nealson KH, Conrad PG (1999). "Life: past, present and future" (PDF). Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 354 (1392): 1923–39. doi:10.1098/rstb.1999.0532. PMC 1692713Freely accessible. PMID 10670014.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) hopefully a useful intro to the literature. Tim Vickers (talk) 02:53, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Hey, thanks! This is helpful. (And still cells, BI!) BTW, let's resolve that if our argument just goes around in circles, we take it to our personal talk pages, OK? Wwheaton (talk) 03:36, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
The way to solve the problem is to put your own opinions to one side and just summarise what the sources say on the topic. Our own ideas have no relevance or use, we have to report what the sources say - and nothing more. Tim Vickers (talk) 04:29, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Of course the referenced paper deals with cells. Could it be that ...... cells are the basic unit of life? This discussion reminds me of a child trying to fit a trianglular block inside a circular hole. You can't discuss bilogy and mix fantasy so that one day you may be proven right. There is no evidence of non-cellular life (viruses got a debatable pass), so it can't be included. On the other corner, an editor here believes that entropy is the magic word that would vest almost any object with life. Energy by itself is not enough; it has to be expressed in a physical form (matter) and carry on with complex biochemical pathways that support the structural and functional elements of metabolism, homeostasis, reproduction, etc. To be fair, it is a tough enterprise to formulate a definition of life; it is relatively easier to describe its observable phenomena. Finally, I am glad the pink unicorns got archived, and regarding the information kernel ratio thing, I have 2 leters: OR. I agree with Tim Vickers, report what the reliable sources say - and nothing more. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 04:36, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, TimVickers. But your comment is a bit off-topic on this discussion page. Not to mention, that if you follow your own logic, your own message have no relevance or use. I would also suggest reading No_original_research policy. It almost explicitly says - it's OK to think for yourself and summarize!!! --Mitra (talk) 04:44, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
BatteryIncluded.... I'm only using logic and proven facts and summarize them. I agree with you, that from the biology perspective "cells are the basic unit of life" would be a true statement. But would you agree that RNA is just information? And that neat, almost mathematical definition of any term is the best one? --Mitra (talk) 04:51, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Which sources use this mathematical definition that are you referring to Mitra? Tim Vickers (talk) 05:10, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
TimVickers, I've only used logic and summarized information in the original Life article. No O.R. No external references. --Mitra (talk) 06:44, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Dear Mitra, your statements are extremely flawed. There is nothing mathematical about it, and RNA is not "just information". For homework, please find out the functions of tRNA, rRNA, mRNA and snRNA. Reagarding your response to Tim Vickers, i disagree with you; Tim's response is at the very heart of what Wikipedia is, and it brings about guidance (e.g: a stop) to the conjectures and ill "definitions" some intend to include in this article. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 05:23, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
BatteryIncluded, again I can't find any logic in your assertion. Random biological terms. I do know, for instance, the function of tRNA - Transfer RNA. What it does in terms of the cellular machinery. But being professional you should know what it does in terms of the information transfer from one part of the cell to another! As to my response to Tim, again, I've only used logic. --Mitra (talk) 06:44, 19 January 2009 (UTC)..... edit... My mistake. I've messed up tRNA with mRNA. --Mitra (talk) 17:59, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
You flunked to the abyss. I see now where you stand. Dispense with your "logic" and dig some referenced material. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 07:00, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
BatteryIncluded, again I can't find any logic in your [random] assertion. Your statement is also irrelevant and personal. It does not sound professional as well. Please refer to Personal_abuse for more information on that. --Mitra (talk) 07:26, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
I can also find links: Please refer to WP:NOTFORUM for more information on ramblings. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 08:01, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Uh. Thanks. Point taken. Exactly my point :) --Mitra (talk) 08:48, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Is that the abyss of biologists with good intentions, the kind that use abbreviations meaninglessly? --Mitra (talk) 17:47, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
Trolling (WP:DFTT) refers to deliberate and intentional attempts to disrupt the usability of Wikipedia for its editors, administrators, developers, and other people who work to create content for and help run Wikipedia. The basic mindset of a troll is that they are far more interested in how others react to their edits than in the usual concerns of Wikipedians: accuracy, veracity, comprehensiveness, and overall quality. If a troll gets no response to their spurious edits, then they can hardly be considered a troll at all. BatteryIncluded (talk) 18:41, 20 January 2009 (UTC)


At an everyday practical level the links between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy are not close. Physicists and chemists are apt to be more interested in changes in entropy as a system spontaneously evolves away from its initial conditions, in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. I realize [citation needed] your account in Wikipedia, Mitra, is of a single-purpose user, so I will not invest any more time trying to explain to you the pilars of Wikipedia and the need to report only what the sources say, instead of pushing your own perceptions, logic, interpretations, agenda and OR. BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:54, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

[citation needed] --Mitra (talk) 17:33, 19 January 2009 (UTC)


Sorry for my childish behavior. If I've created any inconvenience for you or any other Wikipedian, I apologize here. Please forgive me. --Mitra (talk) 16:27, 22 January 2009 (UTC)



Nuvola apps important.svg

From WP:NOR

Wikipedia does not publish original research or original thought. This includes unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position. This means that Wikipedia is not the place to publish your own opinions, experiences, or arguments. Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented.

No original research is one of three core content policies. The others are neutral point of view and verifiability. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles. Because they complement each other, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should familiarize themselves with all three.

If you have original research or commentary to contribute to a subject, there are numerous other places to do so, such as at WikiInfo.

BatteryIncluded (talk) 21:28, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

I (BatteryIncluded) am pasting here a POV & original research placed in the main article by user Prof de loof:
Life can be plausibly defined in a way that satifies both biologists, philosophers and the humanities, if one starts from the simple observation that all living things are invariably organized in the form of sender-receiver compartments (= communicating compartments) that incessantly talk, anw while doing so, solve problems, most of them in an automated way. What we call Life is a verb. It is nothing else that the total sum of all acts of communication executed, at moment t, by a given sender-receiver compartment at all its levels of compartmental organization, from its lowest one (cell organelle if present) to its highest one (e.g. eukaryotic cell,tissue, organ, multicellular individual, aggregate, population, communinity, etc.). The causal link between communication and problem-solving, the key issue in understanding Life's very nature, follows from the fact that any message, whatever its nature, is invariably written in coded form. Hence, any receiver faces the problem as to how subtract information from the incoming message, decode and amplifly it, and finally come up, sooner or later, with an energy demanding response. The key questions in biology are: how does a given sender-receiver compartment come into existence, how does it function, and how does it develop and evolve? In this approach the communicating compartment is a better candidate than the cell for serving as the universal functional building block of all living matter.

Respiration

ADD: That there is another characteristic of life - RESPIRATION. Please insert this into the page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by KWMec (talkcontribs) 19:12, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Cellular respiration: A series of metabolic processes that take place within a cell in which biochemical energy is harvested from organic substance (e.g. glucose) and stored as energy carriers (ATP) for use in energy-requiring activities of the cell.
It is a subset of metabolism, which is already included. [3]. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:24, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Question on Conventional Definition of Life

Based on the language used in the article, it was not entirely clear to me what the phrase "Also, individual members of a species may not meet all the criteria, but are still considered alive, such as members of a species who are rendered unable to reproduce or unable to respond to stimuli" means exactly. Does this mean to imply that, if one was using the conventional definition list, that the only two exceptions that can exist and still allow something to be called life are reproduction and response to stimuli? Or does the use of the words "such as" mean more along of the lines of "for example"? To be more precise, what I mean is are any of the seven items on the list absolutely required for something to be deemed life? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys.

71.236.90.132 (talk) 08:13, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Good point. Yes, the consensus is that life is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit all or most of the listed phenomena. So I deleted the phrase you mentioned, as exceptions could be a separate and long list. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 04:45, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
why is the definition of life not "physical materials that undergo Darwinian evolution" it is the most precise definition possible 76.123.216.173 (talk) 17:30, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Formatting in Origin of Life Section

I believe that the line "for religious views, see Creation Myth" is supposed to be italicized and indented as part of the "Main article" part of this seciton. The way it's formatted now, it looks like part of the body of text for that section. I'd fix it myself, but the semi-protection is preventing me form doing so. Thonan (talk) 01:37, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

 Done. BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:25, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Prions do NOT have genes

"Viruses and prion proteins are most often considered replicators rather than forms of life. They have been described as "organisms at the edge of life",[12] since they possess genes, evolve by natural selection[13] and replicate by creating multiple copies of themselves through self-assembly."

Prions are proteins and do NOT have genes. Someone change this please.

from [4][1]: "Prions are transmissible particles that are devoid of nucleic acid' and seem to be composed exclusively of a modified protein (PrPSc). The normal, cellular PrP (PrPC) is converted into PrPSc through a posttranslational process during which it acquires a high beta-sheet content." --

Edleob (talk) 14:44, 4 May 2009 (UTC) edleob

You are absolutely right. Thank you. BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:26, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Lede

I made some changes to the lede which were reverted by User:BatteryIncluded (a clever name that no doubt, in its most profound definition, refers to a soul and the possession thereof). I like to destroy things one at a time, so here goes. The current lede sentence reads (underline and numbers1 mine):

Life is a characteristic1 of organisms that exhibit certain biological processes2 such as chemical reactions3 or other events that result in a transformation.4

On the positive side, it gets marks for referencing chemistry.3 But "life" is not just a "characteristic."1 Nor does the definition of "organism" ("any living thing, such as animal, plant, fungus, or micro-organism") allow for any 'non-organisms' to "exhibit certain biological processes"2 —hence the distinction is unnecessary at best. The computed result, that life > organisms > processes "that result in a transformation" 4 is classic Wikipedia wørdage, and perhaps almost unmatched in its utilitarian inaccuracy. So, That's three out of four things wrong, and we're so far just dealing with the first sentence of the current version.

What "life" really is, is a concept. BatteryIncluded commented that "sentience" and "biological machines," concepts I introduced in my version, "are not terms used in biology." Certainly he may be right. But the article is not exclusively in the domain of biology, is it? If so, it should simply start with the typical context prefix: "In biology, life is..." I'm fine with that. But even then "life" is still a concept, used firstly and most importantly to indicate a distinction between things which are deemed living and things which are not. The linguistics of the term "life" are quite relevant, even when put into the semantically narrow concept of biological science. -Stevertigo 02:49, 20 May 2009 (UTC) PS: Text below hidden for comment later.


Hello.
  1. The article is most certainly focused on biology as it is the science in charge of the study of LIFE. (from Greek βιολογία - βίος, bios, "life"; -λογία, -logia, study of).
  2. The lead section is always an introduction with a general description. There is a section in this article focused on the definitions of life, and it opens with: "There is no universal definition of life." It is followed by the most current and conventional scientific definitions + references.
  3. Your definitions seems original research.
  4. What you call semantically narrow concept of biological science is the most accurate and accepted concept, based on factual evidence obtained through scientific methods. The day someone produces, say, an Invisible Pink Unicorn, a talking rock, a little green man, etc., biology and related scientific definitions will certainly change.
  5. Artificial life is not alive; it is but the study of some aspects of its processes.
  6. Machines and software are not alive.
  7. Defining life requires measurable terms. A concept (such as sentience) is not measurable. Maybe that is why it is more used in science fiction and not in science?
  8. The study of life (biology) requires of objectivity, not subjectivity (e.g. sentience).
  9. "Non-organisms" are not alive, that is why they are not included.
Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 04:23, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Hi BI. While the list above looks very much like a list, and while some of the points you make in it are true, many of those points appear to either contradict material or else gloss over the problems in the current version. I am considering responses to each of your points now, but seeing as how you have not responded to many of mine, particularly as they deal with basic logic errors in the first sentence, I'm repeating rehashing most of them here, so you can deal with them.
A) BatteryIncluded wrote:
"9) "Non-organisms" are not alive, that is why they are not included."
Well, that's not the way it reads:
"Life is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit certain biological processes such as chemical reactions or other events that result in a transformation"
suggests not only that "life" is "a characteristic of [certain] organisms" and not others, but that "life" requires "certain biological processes" and not others, and worse than anything that there are "organisms" that do not "exhibit certain biological processes."
Do you see the problem? I could go on.
B) The computed result, that life > organisms > processes "that result in a transformation" 4 is of the highest Wikipedia wørdage, and is perhaps almost unmatched in its utilitarian inaccuracy. "A transformation?" Doesn't seem to be anything but original research, and bad research at that.
C) What "life" really is, is a concept, used firstly and most importantly to indicate a distinction between things which are deemed living and things which are not.-Stevertigo 16:04, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Stevertigo, I think you would assuage the Wikipedian distaste for original research if you could provide some support for your assertion that life is a concept rather than a characteristic. I agree that the use of "certain" in the lede is problematic for the reasons that you outline. --Gimme danger (talk) 19:50, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Well my purpose here was to nuke any notion that the current lede version was wonderful. Or worth defending. I have done that, and while I understand the "distaste for original research," I consider wikiality that makes sense far superior to versions like the current one, which are at the same both well-sourced and obviously and demonstrably (as I've demonstrated) nonsensical. Note also that the problem isn't just with the word "certain," and in fact the word somewhat saves the expression...
"organisms [that do not] exhibit certain biological processes"
...from appearing to be as useless as it actually is. (Yes, we have no biology-less organisms).
I know not of any text that states the obvious in such a way, but perhaps quoting some credentialized linguist would work for everybody. -Stevertigo 05:55, 21 May 2009 (UTC)


1) Hi BI. While the list above looks very much like a list, and while some of the points you make in it are true, many of those points appear to either contradict material or else gloss over the problems in the current version. --Stevertigo

Hello. I see no point at splitting hairs over some syllogisms and semantics you seem concerned with, so I addressed your concerns on scientific accuracy. I am more interested in constructive discussions than debate. BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:27, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

2) suggests not only that "life" is "a characteristic of [certain] organisms" and not others, but that "life" requires "certain biological processes" and not others, and worse than anything that there are "organisms" that do not "exhibit certain biological processes." Do you see the problem? I could go on. --Stevertigo

That sentence in the introduction, "certain biological processes" is shorthand for homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli and reproduction; all listed in the 'Definitions' section.

3) The computed result, that life > organisms > processes "that result in a transformation" 4 is of the highest Wikipedia wørdage, and is perhaps almost unmatched in its utilitarian inaccuracy. "A transformation?" Doesn't seem to be anything but original research, and bad research at that. --Stevertigo

There is certainly room for improving this article, however I would not venture to say it is "inaccurate". I am not satisfied with "....that result in a transformation" either, and i think it does require of editing. In fact, I very much like your suggestion: "organisms that exhibit biological processes", and assuming is OK with Gimme danger, I will change it. BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:27, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

4) What "life" really is, is a concept, used firstly and most importantly to indicate a distinction between things which are deemed living and things which are not. --Stevertigo

Describing life simply as a 'concept' is not enough. Life exhibits observable and measurable physico-chemical phenomena, and it serves best to list the specific characteristics/definitions of life as understood by biologists.
I look forward to continue this constructive discussion and continue to improve this article in partnership. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:27, 22 May 2009 (UTC)


"Hello. I see no point at splitting hairs over some syllogisms and semantics you seem concerned with, so I addressed your concerns on scientific accuracy. I am more interested in constructive discussions than debate.-User:BatteryIncluded
While you may call it "splitting hairs," this is not really such a case. Words have meaning, and different meanings indicate different substance. Its not a matter of "splitting hairs."
"There is certainly room for improving this article, however I would not venture to say it is "inaccurate". I am not satisfied with "....that result in a transformation" either, and i think it does require of editing. In fact, I very much like your suggestion: "organisms that exhibit biological processes", and assuming is OK with Gimme danger, I will change it. -BI
Progress! You now say that there is "room" for "improving" the article. Wonderful. Let's move on. -SV


Stevertigo/BatteryIncluded

Responses to Stevertigo

1) Hi BI. While the list above looks very much like a list, and while some of the points you make in it are true, many of those points appear to either contradict material or else gloss over the problems in the current version. --Stevertigo

Hello. I see no point at splitting hairs over some syllogisms and semantics you seem concerned with, so I addressed your concerns on scientific accuracy. I am more interested in constructive discussions than debate. BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:27, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

2) suggests not only that "life" is "a characteristic of [certain] organisms" and not others, but that "life" requires "certain biological processes" and not others, and worse than anything that there are "organisms" that do not "exhibit certain biological processes." Do you see the problem? I could go on. --Stevertigo

That sentence in the introduction, "certain biological processes" is shorthand for homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli and reproduction; all listed in the 'Definitions' section.

3) The computed result, that life > organisms > processes "that result in a transformation" 4 is of the highest Wikipedia wørdage, and is perhaps almost unmatched in its utilitarian inaccuracy. "A transformation?" Doesn't seem to be anything but original research, and bad research at that. --Stevertigo

There is certainly room for improving this article, however I would not venture to say it is "inaccurate". I am not satisfied with "....that result in a transformation" either, and i think it does require of editing. In fact, I very much like your suggestion: "organisms that exhibit biological processes", and assuming is OK with Gimme danger, I will change it. BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:27, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

4) What "life" really is, is a concept, used firstly and most importantly to indicate a distinction between things which are deemed living and things which are not. --Stevertigo

Describing life simply as a 'concept' is not enough. Life exhibits observable and measurable physico-chemical phenomena, and it serves best to list the specific characteristics/definitions of life as understood by biologists.
I look forward to continue this constructive discussion and continue to improve this article in partnership. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:27, 22 May 2009 (UTC)
Responses to BatteryIncluded

1) "Hello. I see no point at splitting hairs over some syllogisms and semantics you seem concerned with, so I addressed your concerns on scientific accuracy. I am more interested in constructive discussions than debate.-User:BatteryIncluded

While you may call it "splitting hairs," this is not really such a case. Words have meaning, and different meanings indicate different substance. Its not a matter of "splitting hairs."I have thus far has avoided dealing with the implicit meaning in the tone of your statements. Sorry again to destroy them, but you keep insisting on defending a poorly-written version through usage of inaccurate concepts. Some points with regard to your terms:

a) "syllogisms"

Syllogism: "a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two others (the premises).. [once] at the core of traditional deductive reasoning, [was] superceded by First-order logic." In reality you are just using it to debase the argument, without actually demonstrating that the argument is syllogistic. -SV

b) "semantics"

Your diminished usage of "semantics" shows that you don't know that the word means "meanings." and while I'm sure you are not unconcerned with meanings, if you don't understand the word "semantics," please try not to use it in your arguments. -SV

2) "That sentence in the introduction, "certain biological processes" is shorthand for homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli and reproduction; all listed in the 'Definitions' section." -BI

Is this "shorthand for [a list of biochemical and philosophy of science concepts]" actually scientific, or did you just make it up? I'm curious. -SV

3a) "There is certainly room for improving this article, however I would not venture to say it is "inaccurate". I am not satisfied with "....that result in a transformation" either, and i think it does require of editing. In fact, I very much like your suggestion: "organisms that exhibit biological processes", and assuming is OK with Gimme danger, I will change it. -BI

Progress! You now say that there is "room" for "improving" the article. Wonderful. Let's move on: It doesn't matter if you think its "inaccurate" or not, just that you don't revert or else impede someone like myself who knows differently and has demonstrated that there are currently 3 logical contradictions ("certain.." "organisms" "processes") and one useless conclusion ("..results in a transformation") in just the first sentence! Its a wonderful example of bad writing, though, and I'm certain that it belongs in some pantheon-homage to our slips and failures. -SV

3b) "I am not satisfied with "..transformation" either."

Excellent! Indeed, I looked at it myself and said, to.. myself, "you know that's actually quite incompetent." If something similar was, for example, on one of our illustrious Pokemon articles, I would have done the wise thing and just left it alone. Not here though. -SV

3c) BI wrote: "your suggestion: "organisms that exhibit biological.."

This one went over your head apparently. I made no such "suggestion," I simply broke the statement down into its constituents to indicate how entirely self-conflicted it is. If you could find a source that talks about any "organism that does not exhibit biological processes," that would be great. The only problem is: they all "exhibit biological processes." Because they "are organisms!" Get it? So making a nonsensical distinction between organisms (ie. "biological" and "[non-biological]") will not be accepted here. At least not by me. -SV

4) "Describing life simply as a 'concept' is not enough. Life exhibits observable and measurable physico-chemical phenomena, and it serves best to list the specific characteristics/definitions of life as understood by biologists." -BI

I don't recall ever saying that "describing life simply as a concept" would be "enough." If I actually did (which I didn't) I would now correct myself (which I don't have to) and state that the concept aspect is just relevant to the introductory sentence: The language/dictionary/word meaning aspects of "life" are important, but don't need to overwhelm the lede. It will of course go quickly into other things. Alchemy-derived and science-y opinions for example. -SV

5) "I look forward to continue this constructive discussion and continue to improve this article in partnership."

Quite a nice way to end this, actually. But why then all the nonsensical reverts and pontificating rejectionism? It's sad that I have to turn in to such an asshole just to deal with things like this that even a third grader would turn his nose up at. -Stevertigo 04:07, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Stevertigo: A dead organism is an organism that does not exhibit biochemical processes.

I told you before that I am not interested in debates but improving the article. Your comments about possession, destroying things, biological machines, nuking the introduction, being an "asshole", etc. demonstrate that you will benefit from reading the Five pillars of Wikipedia and WP:NOTFORUM. Also, omitting hostility in general, will be an asset to you. A required one at that.

Despite your refusal to acknowledge that biology is the science in charge of the study of life, the fact remains so. If you want to debate the The Truth about life, you may proceed to the forum of your choice. If you want to edit this article, no drama is required (really!); simply do the required research, make the changes and make sure you include quality references. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 06:05, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Note: BatteryIncluded, with his above response, deleted my entire comment from the talk, calling it "inflammatory." I reverted his removal, and replaced his above comment along with my own, and the new one below, but may have lost a minor edit or two of his. In comment I instructed BatteryIncluded to consult WP:TALK, where it says 'do not ever remove or alter anyone else's comments on talk pages.' His assertion that my comments were inflammatory were no doubt due to my usage of a particular epithet, but as this was directed at myself and not him, there was no issue of a "personal attack." While removal of the offending epithet would be appropriate if it was a personal attack, removing entire comment blocks is almost always a violation of our core principles.
(To BI, per the above comment). Keep in mind that our issue began with two hostile acts. Mine was that I changed the wording of the article! Yours was that you reverted it, claiming the previous one was better, or that the latter one was not acceptable. All I have done thus far is demonstrate that the current version doesn't actually make any coherent sense, and when unraveled, appears to be entirely not competent. Therefore you raising issues like reliable sources, original research, "[science is] in charge of [..] life," personal attacks (Which? Against myself?), etc., makes no difference at all, if the first sentence which you still claim to be scientifically accurate, if not well sourced, is so plainly erroneous as to make blanking an acceptable alternative to keeping it. (But this fact doesn't seem to stop you from wanting to keep it, or else reject any attempt at improving it).
I don't like blanking though, and simply choose to "nuke" or "destroy" anyone's concepts of keeping the old one. Have I not done so? And where therefore in those 5 Pillars you point to, does it say one cannot remove the erroneous, and obliterate any concept in which the erroneous is defended or promoted? Dealing with science-y editorial dogmas (not science dogma, which is real but different) is no different than dealing with bad editing on some New Age article. And to add it all up, your expressions are condescending at best: "despite your refusal to acknowledge that biology is the science in charge of the study of life, the fact remains so," is like using a term like "science-denier." It's just not a worthy concept.
As far as steps to improve the article go, its important to step back and take a look at what's going on. In this case, there are some basic issues:
1) Life is a concept - the opposite of both death and inanimate matter, that is uese to distinguish living things from not-living things. Note that while you state a "dead organism" is an "organism," it is not. An organism, by definition, has synergistic self-sustaining functions - not decaying cells. The word for a 'former organism' is usually "body" or "corpse."
2) The article assumes that because "biology is the science in charge of[sic] the study of life" that therefore "biology is in charge of the life article." It is not, and though it usually has some interesting things to say, these have to be put into context in order to make it work.
3) The current version was written by someone who understands how to use sources and that chemistry has something to do with biology, but doesn't understand English, scientific language, or what biology actually is. The term "biological machine" is appropriate and important:
a. an "organelle" is a machine that performs one or two chemical operations which sustain its function
b. a "cell" is an assembly of "organelles" that work synergistically to sustain its function
c. an "organism" is an assembly of "cells" that work synergistically to sustain its function
Each of which are machines. Indeed you are right in suggesting that "sentience" does not fit in the context of "biology", but as
1) our bodies are biological machines, assembled from smaller and smaller such machines
2) human beings represent the pinnacle of "life," as far as we empirically know
3) most people don't consider themselves to be "machines," despite its factual basis in biology..
..Therefore "human life", an essential dimension within "life" or even "biological life," is not entirely within the domain of "biology."
Note that you may argue that "human life" is a separate concept from "life," and therefore the articles should be different. Which is true. But in a human context, "human life" is highly relevant within the concept of "life" itself. And anyway the point is that (paraphrasing you) "despite your refusal to accept that 'biology' is a separate concept from 'life,' the fact remains so," and therefore biology is not "in charge of" anything here. An essential dimension, yes. "In charge of," no.
With all that out of the way, I appreciate that you 1) helpfully suggest that I remove "hostility" and "drama" from my being, and I understand that 2) your above suggestion comes from your realization that you have been thus far less than helpful. I understand you wish us to turn the page? I accept. Thanks. -Stevertigo 15:54, 24 May 2009 (UTC)


Removal of talk comments

Note: Comment below (except for the comment "POV monologue") is the same comment as above. It was copied here in the context of re-adding text comments removed by BatteryIncluded.

(POV monologue and debate forum-like entries by Svertigo deleted)

Stevertigo:
A dead organism is an organism that does not exhibit biochemical processes.
I told you before that I am not interested in debates but improving the article. Your comments about possession, destroying things, biological machines, nuking the introduction, being an "asshole", etc. demonstrate that you will benefit from reading the Five pillars of Wikipedia and WP:NOTFORUM. Also, omitting hostility in general, will be an asset to you. A required one at that.
Despite your refusal to acknowledge that biology is the science in charge of the study of life, the fact remains so. If you want to debate the The Truth about life, you may proceed to the forum of your choice. If you want to edit this article, no drama is required (really!); simply do the required research, make the changes and make sure you include quality references. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 06:05, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
Note': This is the most recent comment by BatteryIncluded, stating his reasons for violating WP:TPOC (cf. WP:CIVIL):

Once again, I removed forum-like entries, inflamatory comments, POV and original research that does not serve the discussion on how to improve this article. There are a number of early-stage projects that attempt to use a wiki for discussion and debate: (WP:NOTFORUM).

Although it is entertaining seeing Stevertigo drum a war tune against the wisdon of Biology, the intelect of fellow editors and create a new section entitled "Stevertigo vs. BatteryIncluded", this is not the place for it.

For the third time: I am not entertaining a debate on your Truth about life or the meaning of life, or disecting your treatese on the meaning of the word "meaning" (sic.), or your original interpretation of what biology should or should not study, as that has a place somewhere else in the internet.

If you want to fix the grammar or edit the article, please do so. If you don't like your entries edited by other users, no not write on Wikipedia. Again, make sure you leave aside terms like "possession", "destroying things", "sentinence", "biological machines", "nuking the introduction", "being an asshole", etc. and avoid original research.

It is straight forward and no dramas are required (Wikipedia:Five pillars): do the required research, make the changes and include quality references. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:57, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Saying that an organism is alive because it displays biological processes, is a fancy way of saying that an organism that's alive shows signs of life. Can you say "circular reasoning"? :) Also, some scientists say the earth itself is a "alive", in a sense. Where does that fit into the discussion? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 21:23, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
Note: User BatteryIncluded removed my comments (violating WP:TPOC) twice now, which I have restored. I have also highlighted his comments above in bold text. Without having read them, I will simply note that among the reasons he states for removing my comments is "original research." This is a talk page. There is no issue of "original research" here, save that which can be identified and clarified through discussion. In addition to defending an incompetent version and violating CIVIL policy with regard to talk, BI also uses nonsensical references to policy, and, as Baseball above has noted "circular reasoning." Accurate. -Stevertigo 23:07, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
I saw this situation on WP:ANI. No editor has any business removing or altering other editors' fair comments on article talk pages. You're right that "original research" does not figure into it, on the talk page. If he tries it again, bring it up again at ANI, or report it to WP:AIV as vandalism, since that's what it effectively is. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 23:29, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
Much appreciated. I'll see he gets your message. -Stevertigo 23:41, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

More from BI

Dissecting BatteryIncluded's most recent comments:
"Once again, I removed forum-like entries, inflamatory comments, POV and original research that does not serve the discussion on how to improve this article."
  1. "I removed" - violating WP:TPOC and WP:CIVIL
  2. "Once again" - repeated violation
  3. "forum-like entries" - a false characterization and false reference to policy, see WP:TPOC
  4. "inflammatory comments" - nevertheless not yours to touch
  5. "POV" - this is a talk page
  6. "original research" - this is a talk page
  7. "There are a number of... [see] WP:NOTFORUM" - "go elsewhere" is not a valid argument
  8. "Although it is entertaining" - condescending and trolling at the same time
  9. "drum a war tune against the wisdon of Biology" - its "wisdom," not "wisdon" and its "biology," not "Biology," and the only other thing wrong with this statement is that there is no "wisdom of biology" anyway
  10. "the intelect of fellow editors" - its "intellect," not "intelect," and I can only consider you a "fellow editor" if you stop acting like a troll
  11. "and create a new section" - adding (not "creating") section headers to long threads is nominal for talk pages
  12. "entitled "Stevertigo vs. BatteryIncluded"" - yes, well you can rename it if you like, just as I can do the same.
  13. "For the third time" - indeed. "Circular reasoning" (quoting Baseball) x 3 from you now.
  14. "I am not entertaining a debate on your Truth about life or the meaning of life" - only a troll mistakes a comedy essay for policy.
  15. "or disecting your treatese on the meaning of the word "meaning" (sic.)," - the word was "semantics," and it has a meaning.
  16. "or your original interpretation of what biology should or should not study" - Ive never said what "biology should or should not study," only that this article be intelligently written by someone not a troll.
  17. "as that has a place somewhere else in the internet" - a troller who says "go elsewhere" is not very interesting to me.
  18. "If you want to fix the grammar or edit the article, please do so" - I'm not going to just clean up your numerous spelling errors, I'm going to clean up your errors, period.
  19. "If you don't like your entries edited by other users, no not write on Wikipedia" - You used the rollback button on my changes to go back an inanely inaccurate version. How is that "editing?"
  20. "Again, make sure you leave aside terms like "possession", "destroying things", "sentinence", "biological machines", "nuking the introduction", "being an asshole", etc. and avoid original research" - "Possession" may mean "possession of a soul," a comment not related to article discussion. "Destroying things" may mean "destroying concepts" (ie. invalid ones), "sentience" you may want to study up on, "biological machine" - see explanation above section at bottom, "nuking the introduction" another false quote - the term is "nuking [nonsensical concepts]", "being an asshole" not accurately quoted, but as I of course am one I am free to refer to myself thus, "avoid original research" from a TROLL, no less. Thanks again for your sentient behavior and scientific concepts. -Stevertigo 23:41, 24 May 2009 (UTC)


After 35,000 bits of Steve's nightly forum drama, I read not one entry directed to improve the article. For the fourth time: I have no desire to to participate in your existencialist monologues and certainly I have no inclination to debate your beliefs and your original interpretations of scientific research. If you want to edit the article, go ahead, nobody is stopping you, just know I will delete again pseudocientific terms as those used in science fiction such as ("sentience" and "biological machines"). Most of your rant here has been a weak attempt to justify them.... As a molecular biologist, I will keep calling you on every original research entry and expect quality references, so you better do your homework right before submition. Regarding your forum rants, note this text in WP:NOTFORUM: "There are a number of early-stage projects that attempt to use a wiki for discussion and debate." Check them out, as they are surely better outlet for the material you keep posting.

Cheers BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:50, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

I appreciate that you did not remove my comments this time. This means that you are learning how to get along with people you disagree with, and that your opinions will be regarded, if they are expressed intelligently.
I have stated in very clear terms where the lede is inaccurate. You have not addressed these directly. I will now make certain changes to the lede, per my issues listed above. You will not revert any change I make. If you have any issues, you will discuss them point by point here on the talk page, with me and anyone else who has something to say.
I understand you are a scientist, and have some expertise. While this expertise is to be regarded, it is not to be deferred to without question, and particularly so when you lack an understanding of our basic interaction principles, such that you make several egregious discussion errors. I have made one or two myself, but in my defense, I actually had a point in that the current version is inadequate. You did not have such a point. With both of us now expressing ourselves clearly, there should be no reason for any further such conflict. Regards, and happy editing. -Stevertigo 06:15, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
The deletions were not out of "disagreement" as you think but simple fluff cleaning.
Please rest assured that I will revert and/or edit any additional inacuracies you may add to the article and that it will not based on Wikidemocracy to satisfy your ego, but on scientific accuracy and relevant citations. Cheers. BatteryIncluded (talk) 07:08, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Your concept of "fluff cleaning" appears to be original research. Can you supply a source to back up your writing? Baseball Bugs, above, used the term "vandalism" instead of your term "fluff cleaning." You're a scientist - figure it out: Which of these two views do you think is more "accurate?" Some very scientific results will be quickly forthcoming if you want to test it. :-)
As far as reverting anything goes, I state again that you will not do so without consequence, both to your ego and to your ability to further claim control of this or any article. In scientific terms: WP:NINJA << WP:CIVIL+WP:CONS .
And again, "scientific accuracy" is not the only concept relevant here. "Reading competency" is also relevant and it is on this basis that I criticized the lede sentence. I will use sources and not only scientific ones - "science" after all does not dominate "life." What you tyrannically mock as "Wikidemocracy," (or "wikiality") I and others call "consensus." Finally, whether or not I receive a little "ego" boost from correcting certain scientists on matters of logic, reason, and linguistic competency is of course nobody's business but my own. Good night, morning, or otherwise. -Stevertigo 08:01, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I realize that you got upset because I made you go redo your homework and also produce the required references. However, you know very well I could not put your emotional sensitivity over the nature of Wikipedia. Live with it. I hope you learned that no cutting corners or long-winded dramas were required, only an honest effort at accuracy, research and citing quality references.
I see your change in the article and I celebrate your self-diagnosed "asshole behavior" (sic.) did not prevent you from reinserting science fiction's pseudoscientific terminology again. BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:24, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
BI commented: "No evidence of ET life, whether religious, scientific, philosophical, empirical." True, though the previous version used the language "no evidence at this time," and I do take some credit for trying to deal with it a bit less subjectively. "I celebrate your self-diagnosis.." - Indeed. You know, the world championships are coming up. You may want to try out, though competition is fierce. :D
As far as "reinserting science fiction's pseudoscientific terminology again" - can you please explain exactly which such terms you are talking about. Obviously I'm not a scientist and I wouldn't know science from pseudoscience if it talked to me like a chimpanzee. Explain. -Stevertigo 18:13, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Lede section

Excuse me for butting in. I normally work on the articles on medieval logic and philosophy. I know very little about biology (although Aristotle had an interesting definition of 'life'). However on logical grounds alone I had to change the first sentence. Life is not a concept, although the concept of life is a concept. Life is a characteristic of living things, usually thought to consist (if the standard definitions are correct) of certain key functions (6 or 7 of them I think from Google). As a rule of thumb, any definition or introduction on Wikipedia should not be a million miles away from what is found in any standard reference work. No reference work defines 'life' as a 'concept'. Peter Damian (talk) 19:33, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

[edit] The rest of the definition is not very helpful. It goes on to mention self-sustaining life functions. So life is what things with 'life functions' have? This is almost circular. The next para says that "In biology, "life" (cf. biota) is a quantitative empirical characteristic of all functioning organisms". What is a 'quantitative empirical characteristic'? Does it mean that the characteristic of life can be measured quantitatively? What does 'empirical' mean? Peter Damian (talk) 19:51, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

  • I don't consider your edits "butting in", for the simple reason that you confined them to particular issues, commented them, and backed up your doing so with explanations here.
  • "Philosophy" is highly relevant to this article on "life," and in fact there is some draft material hidden at the end of the article lede section (view through edit mode), which you might want to look at.
  • Well, if you're interested in "circular" reasoning, you can read the above talk sections regarding the previous incarnation. Indeed, we have some issues with regard to how to define "life."
  • Even your definition: "Life is a characteristic of living things" is quite circular.
  • I thought that abstracting the term to the level of concept would work, but did not phrase it correctly (as you pointed out "life is not a concept"). Something like "Life is a word that represents a concept of animate things.." etc. would be more accurate and more offensive to the counter-conceptual, who like 'symbol is-a definition' relationships, and not more accurate language substrate/logic tokens like "concept," "refers to," "indicates," "connotes," "infers," etc.
  • "certain key functions" is likewise problematic and counters the conceptuality required at this level. Indeed, using something like "self-sustaining function" (my language) might be problematic according to some definitions. The prion, notably. Which shows that even scientists cant always agree, and even while dealing exclusively in quantitative dimensions they will sometimes drift into qualitative territory.
  • Using a term like "biological life" (to distinguish biological concept of life from other concepts) might be considered redundant.
  • Note, I used "objects" too, but that inevitably will be challenged/changed/deleted.
  • 'quantitative empirical characteristic' is my language, used to refer to something characteristic(-al) and not quite conceptual - hence separating a general/colloquial/conceptual understanding of "life" from a scientific one, which is not interested as much in qualitative distinctions as it is in the basic quantitative ones.
  • "Does it mean that the characteristic of life can be measured quantitatively?" This notion is implicit in all scientific treatments, by definition, and applies from everything to medicine to Schroedinger's Cat.
  • What does 'empirical' mean?" - "The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation, experience, or experiment" (source: Empirical article, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, ver. 287400321, lastedit. May 2, 2009). A bit redundant with "scientific," not always apparent in "biology," but then we could instead use "scientific study of life" instead of "biology," though this might be a bit too conceptual even for me. -Stevertigo 20:34, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
PS: This is a draft of changed I saved earlier:
Life is a concept given to distinguish objects which have with self-sustaining "life" functions ("alive," "living"), from all other objects which can be classified as "inanimate" (never alive). A (former) life form in which life function has ceased is called "dead." "Life" and "death" are conceptually opposite states of being —in which "life" differs infinitely from inanimate matter, and in which "death" is equal to the inanimate state.
-Stevertigo 21:03, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Pete's edit back to "Life is a characteristic that ...." I see Steve is drafting the inclusion of Life as a concept for disciplines other than biology, such as religion and philosophy, where the use of the word word 'concept' would be much more appropriate.
The expresion 'quantitative empirical characteristic' does not serve. It will be changed. BatteryIncluded (talk)
Peter has yet to respond, but my usage of "concept" serves to put the matter of "life" into conceptual/abstract form first, wherupon we can venture into particular theories - the scientific ones of course will remain prominent.
"Quantitative empirical characteristic" may be as good as we can get, unless you can think of a better one. How would you rather we describe the general scientific view of "life?" And, while we're at it, what do you think of employing the quantitative/qualitative distinction between scientific study of biological processes, and philosophical/everything_not-scientific inquiry into higher-level processes that are not quantifiable? -Stevertigo 00:35, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
- what do you think of employing the quantitative/qualitative distinction between scientific study of biological processes, and philosophical/everything_not-scientific inquiry into higher-level processes that are not quantifiable? -SV
Descriptions and definitions of life are as varied as life itself. For sake of brevity and readability, one correct biological description is enough. From the biology point of view, the present description is quite functional and needs little change if any.
The process of describing the insubstantial or unquantifiable nature of life is certainly different from a scientific vs. a philosophical or religious understanding, and it may be an asset to this article. Because of often vandalism from some creationists, I once opened the dialog/consensus about including religious/philosophical descriptions of life - and there was no support for it, so the focus remained from the biology perspective and evidence based. I still support somewhat to expand the notion of the nature of life from other mainstream inquiring disciplines. It must be done not in oposition to evidence-based disciplines such as science but as complementary information. However, it must be done in a suficiently general manner so that its introduction does not eventually grow [hijack] into a list of every particular religious group's perception of their own conceptual descriptions and their unique faith-based technicalities. A proven difficult task to moderate and contain in this high profile article. BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:05, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
  • BI wrote: "Descriptions and definitions of life are as varied as life itself." - This may be true in science, literature, and philosophy, but it cannot possibly be true on Wikipedia, after all, there is only one English language Wikipedia article on "life," not counting simple:Life. Thus there can be only one description, not counting revision changes. Thus we together work on such a description, which largely involves outlining a cloud of relevant concepts, sorting that cloud for order of precedence, and writing the most terse yet expressive expressions the local collective mind possibly can agree on. This 'agreement' is not a bad thing and does not make a wikiality. It just means that people work together on an expression (article) that handles all the variance in an ordered way. -SV
  • "For sake of brevity and readability, one correct biological description is enough." - Maybe. As opposed to two correct ones? Or one correct, one not? Or two not? Those appear to be the options. In the context of biology, the debate about whether the concept of "non-cellular life" is or is not an oxymoron is interesting, and should be touched on a little bit. I did so in a parenthetical, but a little more about how even at the lower end of the scale (cells -> humans) qualitative concepts present an issue. -SV
  • "From the biology point of view, the present description is quite functional and needs little change if any." - Great. -SV
  • "The process of describing the insubstantial or unquantifiable nature of life is certainly different from a scientific vs. a philosophical or religious understanding, and it may be an asset to this article." - Great. I think we can try to be a bit categorical about that too. -SV
  • "Because of often vandalism from some creationists, I once opened the dialog/consensus about including religious/philosophical descriptions of life - and there was no support for it, so the focus remained from the biology perspective and evidence based." - Creationists, and I am one of a sort, need to be respected in this view; not such that their view dominates the article, but that their concepts are 1) understood well enough by "us non-creationists" such that we can reinterpret their concepts into English, and 2) that they are linked to the appropriate concepts. My terse references to "philosophy and religion," ethics, sentience, and sanctity of life cover about all I can think of except maybe religious views on life (if there is one.. apparently not..) or religious views on human life (not there either), and sending creationists to such an article might not be a bad idea. -SV
  • "I still support somewhat to expand the notion of the nature of life from other mainstream inquiring disciplines." - Great. -SV
  • "It must be done not in oposition to evidence-based disciplines such as science but as complementary information." - True, though I must state that by "oppositon" I understand you to mean "no anti-science polemic," which would fall under WP:NOR and WP:POINT. In reality, religious views and science views can often contradict each other - particularly when science and science-based views get into making qualitative statements, rather than sticking to quantitative ones. Contradicting each other does not mean dis-including the non-scientific one, it just means we describe it in NPOV terms and give sufficient linkage and context to the relevant articles. -SV
  • "However, it must be done in a suficiently general manner so that its introduction does not eventually grow [hijack] into a list of every particular religious group's perception of their own conceptual descriptions and their unique faith-based technicalities." - I agree. Its not easy, but I think the hidden draft I wrote is on the way to dealing with all of that sufficiently, yet in one straightforward paragraph that will link people outward toward the qualitative concepts. -SV
  • "A proven difficult task to moderate and contain in this high profile article." - I agree. That is why I focus on ledes, or at least its one of the reasons. But even good ledes will get overwritten by someone (some scientist, for example) who comes along and says "that's all wrong," and "I can do better." Its often a rather good thing, but only if that person truly understands the concepts (not just a specialty within the general concept) and can explain these in a general way, and link them (important!) to the relevant or related articles. - Stevertigo 04:58, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I was clear enough when I proposed to not present non-scientific disciplines' concept of life in oposition to science, but as additional information from other inquiring disciplines' perspective. For example: In biology, life is.... / In philosophy, life is.... For most religions, life is.... etc. Of course the reader will find contradictions from the different perspectives, if his intellect is working at all; the task for us would be to not compare them one against the other but simply mention the existence of some non-experimental disciplines that have made an attemp to describe life.
But even good ledes will get overwritten by someone (some scientist, for example) who comes along and says "that's all wrong,"
Stevie, Stevie. It does not take a doctor in biology to realize that your exciting new OR lead that went: "Life is a concept of all biological machines" is all wrong. Face it. Your garbage deserved that revert, and your new version has somewhat redeemed you.
"For sake of brevity and readability, one correct biological description is enough." -BI
Maybe. As opposed to two correct ones? Or one correct, one not? Or two not? Those appear to be the options.-SV
Steve, although you have confessed to operate as one, you don't HAVE TO be an A-hole. Or do you thive on Trolling for reactions? FOCUS! BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:11, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
BI: "It does not take a doctor in biology to realize that your exciting new OR lead that went.. "Life is a concept of all biological machines" is all wrong." Face it. Your garbage deserved that revert, and your new version has somewhat redeemed you." - 1) The concept that the body is a machine is nothing I invented [5]. 2) The concept that all that is you, the person, is within your "mind," is also nothing new. 3) The concept that what is you, the person, in the mind, is a particularly important dimension within the concept of "life," is also not my invention, and even when written amateurish and sourcelessly, is nothing that can be dismissed as "OR," by any learned person.
BI: "You don't HAVE TO be an A-hole... [etc]" - All true, mostly. But in my defense, I only called myself, never you, an "A-hole" (though I did suggest you consider taking part in the upcoming competitions). An important distinction, IMHO. Another distinction I make is that you revert-monkeyed me. I dare say it happens far too much, judging by the number of [retired] signs I see around. And to prove your competitive worth, you deleted my comments from this talk page... twice! (They were long-winded ones too). I trust you are now clear on the concepts, and regardless of how you feel about it, I will take some serious credit for your eternal future conformity with civility. [Colorful emphatic deleted].
BI écrit: "I was clear enough when I proposed to not present non-scientific disciplines' concept of life in oposition to science, but as additional information from other inquiring disciplines' perspective." Yes you were, and if I gave the impression that you were not understood, or that your emergent communion with reason was not appreciated, I apologise. Thank you. -Stevertigo 21:52, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
For all your skills to use a dictionary, you have no knowledge of the subject. Living things are organisms; while "biological machine" is an analogy. I trust you are now clear on the concepts, and regardless of how you feel about it, I will take some serious credit for your eternal future conformity with WP:ORIGINAL RESEARCH. I forgive you. Thank you. BatteryIncluded (talk) 01:21, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

BI says: "I trust you are now clear on the concepts.. conformity with WP:NOR" - While I do disregard your inference that I "have no knowledge of the subject," I do not accept your sideways deflection of the term "biological machine" —not so much for the fact that I supplied you with a fancy link, but because I plan to use it here anyway in spite of your best objections. They just aren't very good, and I will explain:
BI says: "Living things are organisms" - Hm. I can say, without ego, that I can defeat this statement in seven different ways. I will give you one:
The etymology of "organism," the word you use so well, is.. Truth is I don't know yet.. looking it up now:
"wikt:en:organism" - no etymology given. Appears to be from the French "organisme"[6]:
"wikt:fr:organisme," - meaning (Google Translation): "built on word of "body" by adding the suffix-[isme], to form a word meaning "a set of organs that can operate together."[7]
It would appear, at a glance anyway, and using only that same "dictionary" you so disapprove of (and a WikiMedia one at that), that the etymology of "organism" is none other than "body+ism." That is "body" + "operation," "function," "system." It further appears the French the word "organism" is also used (at least in disambiguation) to represent other integral systems such as political or governmental varieties (fr:Organismes_vivants -> fr:Organisation).
Le interesting thing about this is that we do not do the same with the now-English word "organism," and this says quite a bit about the etymology. Languages often integrate foreign words for specialized usage —usage that itself has no other etymology, and therefore no etymological substance, other than what can be found in the original "body systeme."
To be civil I will grant you that "biological machine" is a kind of "metaphor." But this does not change the fact that even "organism" is metaphoric vis-a-vis its apparent French ancestor. And regardless, a great many words in any natural language are metaphoric (-al?) anyway. Hence "body system" is not much less of a metaphor than "biological machine" is, and the differences in fact make the latter term more clear: The word "biological" you might agree is a more exact term than "body." Likewise, in a certain *qualitative sense, "machine" is more exact than "system."
Though there is a certain character issue associated with doing so, you can still easily disregard what I've just clearly explained. Still I can deal with your dismissal of the term another way: We do sometimes in English usage use English-language descriptive terms instead of the French-derived word: "Body system" in that case would be a near-literal translation of "organisme." But "body system" is a bit too ambiguous isn't it? It just doesn't mean quite what "organism" does, even when neither of us (only just a minute or two ago) didn't even understand the actual etymology of "organism." I have not even gone back to the Latin (~organum < Ancient Greek ὄργανον "organon," “‘an instrument, implement, tool, also an organ of sense or apprehension, an organ of the body, also a musical instrument, an organ’” < *ἔργειν (ergein), “‘to work’”), and the truth is I didn't have a clue what I would find in searching for the etymology tonight.
Again, just for the queasy, this "biological machine" concept AIUI does not appear to claim that the human being "is a machine." Nor that the body is separate from the being. Rather it appears to suggest that the human *being is not 'the body,' and thus is an unfortunate and distinct contradiction to the *quantitative view, which anyway appears to sometimes make the mistake of asserting *qualitative claims that it has not even scientific basis for making. So the term in fact means what you think it does —that even while the body is a kind of "system" or "machine," the human being is not.
As you can see, I think I well-enough understand the 'scientific' dislike for the "biological machine" term and the concept it means. In conclusion, for such reasons as follows and precedes, and with sources even, the English term "biological machine" is not to be so easily dismissed:
1) even if it's as faithful to the French etymologie as can reasonably be expected in a near-literal translation
2) even if, like metaverse, asprin, radar, or prion, its called "a neologism"
3) even if the term is sourced to books and papers which you don't happen to like
4) and even if it happens to say something quite very interesting about "biology" itself.
For your consideration, -Stevertigo 07:23, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
I am pleased to see you are dropping the attitude, so I will reply in kind.
To be civil I will grant you that "biological machine" is a kind of "metaphor." --SV'
To be honest and accurate, I have no problem using this machine analogy/metaphor as such somewhere else in the article; my strong objection was its use in the first defining sentence of the article. But that has been addressed, and it is 'water under the bridge'. Overall, I am excited by the new editing activity happening lately and I would like to see this article grow well beyond the scientific perspective of life, so I look forward to read any new additions on the philosophical and religious views of life, and since those are not my fields of expertise, I will take a back seat while in there.

Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 18:02, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Some other points

In philosophical or even religious discussions of life, life would not be a 'concept'. A concept is a psychological phenomenom, probably peculiar to human beings and the higher animals. But when life began on Earth, and there were only very primitive organisms, there were no concepts, there was still life. And as I remarked before, it is the expression 'the concept of Life' that refers to a concept. The word 'life' refers to something else.

Some suggestions for improving the article.

  • A short section on the history of the concept of life might be useful. There were broadly two concepts in the ancient world.
    • The view of the materialists, according to which living things are more complex physical compounds than non-living ones, but do not differ in kind. This was held by Democritus, Leucippus, Empedocles and other ancient philosophers who thought that life is merely 'matter in motion'.
    • The Aristotelian view. Every thing has an essence or nature which defines what it is, and which is the cause of its existence. In the case of living things, this essence consists in having a purpose, directing the living thing towards a specific end. The most natural operation of a living being is to produce others like itself. In this, living things endure as if they were 'divine and everlasting', not numerically the same, but the same in species. (Reminiscent of Dawkins, no?).
  • Aristotle's views were adopted by the Catholic church in the Scholastic era.
  • In the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, mechanistic ideas were revived by philosophers like Descartes.
  • Another view opposed to this was Vitalism, the belief that the life-principle is essentially immaterial. This originated with Stahl, and held sway until the middle of the nineteenth century. It appealed to philosophers such as Henri Bergson, Nietzsche, Wilhelm Dilthey , anatomists like Bichat, and chemists like Liebig. (‘There is nothing to prevent us from considering the vital force as a peculiar property, which is possessed by certain material bodies, and becomes sensible when their elementary particles are combined in a certain arrangement or form’ (Liebig 1842 - Animal Chemistry or Organic Chemistry in its Application to Physiology and Pathology, trans. W. Gregory, Cambridge: John Owen. [8]).
  • It might be worth putting something in about the teleological explanation of life. A teleological explanation accounts for phenomena in terms of their purpose or goal-directedness. Thus, the whiteness of the polar bear's coat is explained by its purpose of camouflage. The direction of causality is the other way round to materialistic science, which explain the consequence in terms of a prior cause. Most modern biologists (I believe) now reject this functional view in terms of a material and causal one: biological features are to be explained not by looking forward to future optimal results, but by looking backwards to the past evolutionary history of a species, which led to the natural selection of the features in question. [Experts please correct any of this if I am wrong, IANAS].
  • There should be more about the (supposed) characteristic features of life.
    • For example, the view that all living things have some complex internal organisation, composed of heterogeneous parts or 'organs'. One of my sources suggests that the word 'organ' gives its name to the distinction between 'organic' and 'inorganic', but I can't find any etymological dictionary to support this.
    • Shape: living organisms have, or tend towards, a determinate form or shape. Such determination is not found in any inorganic bodies except crystals.
  • Interesting how many of the articles surrounding this subject are quite poor. For example, the article on Stahl has nothing about his vitalist views, even thought this appears to be fairly well known. The article on Teleology is also scrappy and poor. Vitalism has nothing about Stahl or Leibniz

Peter Damian (talk) 08:55, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Quick responses to Damian (its very late)
  • PD: "In philosophical or even religious discussions of life, life would not be a 'concept'" - Words like "word" "idea," or "view" just don't work to indicate a conceptual unit. -SV
  • PD: "A concept is a psychological phenomenom, probably peculiar to human beings and the higher animals" - Well, your concept of the concept called "concept" appears to be influenced by or else trying to be quantitative, and excluding the qualitative. It asserts or makes overtures toward a view that "a concept" is or should be here defined not in terms of psychology of mind or even cognitive science, but in terms of neurobiology and neurochemistry — which is just ridiculous, in addition to being counter-conceptual. -SV
  • PD: "But when life began on Earth, and there were only very primitive organisms, there were no concepts, there was still life." - You dislike the usage of the word "concept", and perhaps its meaning as well, and yet your using concepts like.. "when" (concept of time), "life began" (concept of origination, seeding), "on Earth" (concept of place/boundary/context), "and" (concept of a grammatical and semantic continuation/connection by relevance), "only" (concept of exclusion), "very" (concept of weight/scale), "primitive organisms" (concept of ancestral biology).
  • Continued... And that's not even dealing with the meaning implied in your concept (restating as understood): That there was "life" before there was human life, who could have a concept of "life." The only problem with this is that "life" did not exist before human beings created the concept: Organisms may have existed and these organisms may have had divergent but related or similar functions, but nevertheless these were not "life" — they simply were. Even if one considers the theistic point of view, that God saw these organisms and called them (in his own conceptual language) "life," it is still not our human definition (concept), as we have been developing it and continue to do so further. -SV
  • Continued... Note that attaching "life" -> "organisms" is again a bit in the realm of steering the article into the quantitative realm. I have yet to pen the science dogma article, but that one certainly qualifies. The point is that we are human beings (most of us anyway), and we are dealing here with the English Wikipedia's treatment of "life." In an encyclopedic context, "life" is first and foremost a word, which is used in various ways and attached to various distinct concepts. Unlike a dictionary, these are not all defined in this article, but likewise nor do we reject all non-quantitative concepts of life, in trying to seek some inane notion of scientific purity, or worse the self-concept of philosophy that claims to follow scientific (or science-like) method, purpose, and relevance. -SV
  • PD: "And as I remarked before, it is the expression 'the concept of Life' that refers to a concept. The word 'life' refers to something else." - You are forgetting context. In this context of an overview encyclopedia article, we start with the abstract and work ourselves into the details. Indeed, we may even want to treat this article as entirely conceptual and use "biological life," ignoring any concepts of intrinsic redundancy, as a sub-article to deal with biology's views. We do this all the time, and the result is an introductory article that treats everything in a fair amounts, not giving undue weight to one or the other. This of course may not be the preference of those who are pushing a quantitative POV of "life."
  • PS: I note that you added some more text, and much of it looks substantive. I will respond tomorrow, at about 19 UTC. -SV
  • PPS: Note at the top of this talk page: "Since When is Life a Taxonomic Supergroup?" A funny but accurate question directed at quantitative POV-pushers that claim "life == biology." Which is rather silly, actually. -Stevertigo 09:17, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorry SV this is just rambling drivel. Please keep this sort of nonsense off the talk page. It is absurd to claim that life did not exist before the concept of life existed. I agree that the word 'life' did not exist (until very recently, being an English word derived from High German) before humans existed. But life existed before the word existed. Similarly, rocks existed before the word, or the concept 'rock' existed. Water existed before the concept of water existed. And so on. Indeed, probably many things that we don't know about, and have no concept of, exist. For some reason people who spend 40 years learning everything they can about, say, the Peloponnesian War -- and indeed, advancing the body of human knowledge -- get all pissy when their contributions are edited away by Randy in Boise who heard somewhere that sword-wielding skeletons were involved. And they get downright irate when asked politely to engage in discourse with Randy until the sword-skeleton theory can be incorporated into the article without passing judgment. Peter Damian (talk) 11:35, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Peter Damian wrote:
"Sorry... rambling drivel... nonsense... absurd ... existed... High German ... existed... existed.... rocks... Peloponnesian War... human knowledge... pissy ... Randy in Boise... sword-wielding skeletons... irate ... sword-skeleton theory ... passing judgment."
Am I to understand now.. that you.. are calling my expressions.. "rambling drivel?" Even at two in the morning —and I admit I'm not yet certain I still mean everything I wrote above last night —I can still tell you there's more actual substance in one of my nonces than in your entire statement above: Allusions to Randy, skeletons, and your irateness notwithstanding. -Stevertigo 16:24, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
PS: The point is, getting back to the substance, that even though "life" existed before humans, "life", and in fact everything you know is in your own mind. Same here, actually. Thus, putting aside for a moment Light, Love, and True Being, all we can do is work in the realm of concepts anyway. Kthxbye -Stevertigo 16:52, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
This may be so, but Wikipedia reflects scientific and academic consensus, and the consensus view is that not everything we know is in our own mind. Moreover, if your view were correct, rocks would only exist in our mind, and the article on rocks would have to begin not with 'Rock is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids' but 'Rock is the concept of a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids'. To be consistent, we must deal with things in Wikipedia as if they were, in fact, mind-independent. This make things much more simple, don't you agree? Peter Damian (talk) 18:58, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I did not say, nor am I promoting that we make "everything is in our own mind" the standard view, such that "rock is a concept," (in fact "rock" is an English word.. just kidding). Some of this deals a bit with Chomsky's point about "H2O is something like water" (or "nothing like water" depending on the context and his understanding of the question), but it is not exactly "water." Neither is "river" made of "water," exactly, and most especially if it's one of these rivers.
So, I do appreciate your point and I agree with it. Usually. What I am saying is that in certain cases we have to do things a little different (-ly?). Major high-level conceptual articles are often such a case. And, in fact if we follow your above stated approach, in my experience (with philosophy articles in particular), it usually only produces an encyclopedic muck, wherein people wind up bickering and disagreeing so much about how to deal with the subject in a *quantitative way, that it winds up not saying much at all about what the concept actually *means. And worse, it says nothing at all period. Articles that start with "there is no agreed-upon definition" are of not worth.
This means getting a little bit into qualitative territory, even when the experts may be under the impression that there is something quantitative there, even while they don't understand where such might be found. "Being" is such an article (and I just made up my mind to deal with that one in the near future).
Note, you said something quite interesting: "I am surprised that there is no mention of DNA anywhere in the article," which raises the real issue (from a work-in-progress standpoint) that we think about all things that fall within the concept of "life" and list them. We then build a cloud, and make the article conform to that cloud. IMHO.
Because "knowledge" itself is conceptual, we can be a bit conceptual (and the new lede sentence reflects this) about dealing with this concept article.. article topic.. topic concept. I only suggest this because "life" is a term used in a number of different ways, and even when confined to the concept of organisms and the scientific study thereof, there is some serious variance about the concept's true quantifiability - (again) particularly when we get into the "unquantifiables" like intelligent life, sentient life, sapience, meaning of life, sanctity of life, etc. IMHO (CMIIR) the way to deal with variance is usually just to take a step back, and when we do so, we get into philosophical territory, some of which you appear to be quite familiar with. IMHO.
You: "Isn't this the fundamental explanation of what Aristotle noticed about living things, namely that they grow into a determinate form, and that although individual organisms of a species die, the species 'tries' to perpetuate itself. 'Many in number, one in species, as though a single thing'?" - You are getting into very wonderful territory, making a connection of something like determinate form -> evolution (subtly of course, and sourced if possible). While some may call even the suggestion of such hyper-connectivity "original research," I would simply call it, if the inference is as obvious as you make it, "collaborative insight and brilliance." And now I have to go wash the dishes. -Stevertigo 21:04, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

New section

I have added (against my better judgment) a substantial section on the history of ideas about life. I hope it is useful. There is a good article in the SEP [9] that may also be useful. This suggests the debate about vitalism lingered well into the 20C. Section 4 [10] is particularly interesting. I am surprised that there is no mention of DNA anywhere in the article. Isn't this the fundamental explanation of what Aristotle noticed about living things, namely that they grow into a determinate form, and that although individual organisms of a species die, the species 'tries' to perpetuate itself. 'Many in number, one in species, as though a single thing'? Peter Damian (talk) 13:04, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Indeed! You must put aside your better judgment more often. -Stevertigo 17:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Note, new response to BI at #Lede_section (bottom "BI: "I trust you are now clear on.."). -Stevertigo 07:28, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Very interesting addition, Peter. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:43, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Thank you. Peter Damian (talk) 20:11, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

References' format

I noticed today that the 'References' section no longer displays their corresponding number. There seems to be an issue with the reference format and I could not find it. Please take a look. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:42, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Fixed. It was the use of "#" within the reference #2 text. BatteryIncluded (talk) 23:34, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Life is a..

Life is.. (fill them in as needed)

  • a "characteristic:" "from the Greek word "χαρακτηριστικό" for a property or attribute (= trait) of an entity[citation needed]) has several particular meanings"
    • a distinguishable feature of a person or thing

Synonyms:

  • attribute, property, idiosyncrasy, mannerism, quality, tendency, trademark, trait

I don't think life is as much a "characteristic," as it is the most important fundamental distinction in all of the universe (or "creation" as the belief-ies say). Boo if you want, but I think "characteristic" is an inadequate term, considering the above, and more importantly because anything in all conception (wherever that resides) deals with whether something is alive or not, or else whether something is heading that way or not. Srsly. -Stevertigo 07:03, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Hello. There are at least two editor here that believe that 'characteristic' is the best word to use in the opening sentence. Lets work it out further. It is required to know the characteristics of objects in order to determine their "distintions", as you say. Each inquiring discipline has its own idea of what may be "the fundamental distinction in all the universe", and life may or may not be that distinction, so I won't go there from that angle.
Living organisms are more than an abstract concept; they are quite physical and display specific measurable characteristics and therefore, citing 'characteristics', reduces the ambiguety or error by interpretation. It is evident that science, philosophy and religion have their own idea and unique basic premises on how to define or interpret life. That is why I long proposed to make at least three separate entries - more or less like:
  • In science/biology, life is defined as a characteristic...
  • In philosophy, life is defined as a concept...
  • In religion, life is defined as...
Such rather needed approach, opens the possibility of using accurate descriptions by each of these three different [formal] disciplines without a self-imposed restriction to attempt a one-fits-all description that does not serve them well and will likely be ambiguous to the readers.
Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 15:51, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Excellent points.

  1. "There are at least two editor here that believe that 'characteristic' is the best word to use in the opening sentence." - I'm not certain that is what Peter "believe[s]," or that others might think likewise. -SV
  2. "It is required to know the characteristics of objects in order to determine their "distintions", as you say." - This is circular, if you use "distinctions" to mean "characteristics." I did not actually use "distinctions" in that way to refer to particular objects, rather I use(d) it to indicate a distinction among all objects. I don't think that science is particularly confined to make only objective observations, as it often seems to make larger conjectures based on small observations, but if you think that confining the scientific view of life to this aspect, such as you appear to suggest with your triune approach (science, philosophy, religion - I would rather put philosophy first, actually), I agree that such approach will be fruitful. -SV
  1. "Each inquiring discipline has its own idea of what may be "the fundamental distinction in all the universe", and life may or may not be that distinction, so I won't go there from that angle." - Well, we can go there, and in fact I can handle that kind of approach. If you don't feel up to it, you can stick to your speciality, and jump over into the other realms when you feel there is a aspect I or others may miss. Essentially the fact is that every editor and reader of this article is a human being (discounting God), and therefore the concepts start from a similar point, even if they diverge into specialized systems of conceptualization. Yours happens to be the scientific one, which looks at small things and tries to build a picture of the all —good science doesn't go out of it way to step on theo/philosophical toes. -SV
  1. "Living organisms are more than an abstract concept; they are quite physical and display specific measurable characteristics and therefore, citing 'characteristics', reduces the ambiguety or error by interpretation." - Well, that's the scientist talking. According to the scientific view, all of who we are is biological and therefore explainable by evolution. Though there is a wonderful and humble way of scientific being in that it just dealing with small things, there are other views, which though some can be quite nutty, do venture into a larger picture —one that can be quite devoid of agnosticism. -SV
  1. "It is evident that science, philosophy and religion have their own idea and unique basic premises on how to define or interpret life. That is why I long proposed to make at least three separate entries - more or less like" - I agree, without qualification, except to state that the scientific view of life must be confined to biology, and that its overreaching conjectures be defined and described. -SV
  1. "Such rather needed approach, opens the possibility of using accurate descriptions by each of these three different [formal] disciplines without a self-imposed restriction to attempt a one-fits-all description that does not serve them well and will likely be ambiguous to the readers." - Agreed, with the stipulation that the "one-fits-all" be understood as the logical approach you have outlined, and defer to the needs of common understanding to fulfil a basic overview of the semantics. We start from the human point of view:
The word life represents a concept of all objects that have properties of sustained function and temporal continuity, such as to distinguish these from all other things in existence. This distinction provides a basis for a fundamental existential contrast between living being ("life") and death. In the science of biology, life is defined as a characteristic of objects that have certain distinguishable self-sustaining properties, such that build upon synergistic chemistries and other complex natural interactions. In religion, "life" is a theological distinction such that regards human beings as having both a divine origin and an eternal sacred value. Regards, -Stevertigo 05:04, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with with your points and I see no compelling reason to place the scientific explanations before the philosophical ones. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:44, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

New changes

I've made some changes to the lede's religion and science paragraphs, per our discussions above. I had also sought to make certain changes to the lede paragraph, ignoring the usage of "characteristic" (for now, and maybe for all time), and instead trying to deal with abstracting the lede sentences from the domain of science. A bit over a week ago (above) I came up with the expression "life is a [..] of all objects that have properties of sustained function and temporal continuity," and I thought I would incorporate it into the lede.

This form I realized today was also problematic, because its usage of "function" and "continuity" were too open such that the statement could just as easily be referring to a star or a black hole, as it could to a life form. The problem isn't that it's vague —in fact its no more so than "biological organism" is redundant and inaccurate insufficient —rather that it lacks an indication of the sophisticated properties and properties of sophistication that we associate with life. This means the lede will have to move in the direction of something like the following:

[Life..] ..objects that possess complex and synergistic functions and processes that are founded upon a rare combination of physical phenomenae —such that its continued functions are dependent upon physical sustenance from its environment, and its behaviours are controlled through signals —either from the environment or through autonomous processes for signalling and abstract (signal) computation ("brain").

My reasons for dealing with the topic are not simple. "Life" is a broad concept such that at its boundaries are two notably controversial concepts of "life:"

  1. Prion - an organism so utterly simple that it defies categorization.
  2. God - a being so utterly complex that He defies conceptualization.

Another item, which, depending on the point of view, presents either a contradiction, a paradox, or a truth:

  1. A human body (brain) without a mind is not a human being.
  2. A human mind without a human body (brain) is (still) a human being, albeit not 'in (a normal state of) human being.'

At the center of this conceptual paradox are two paradoxes: the way in which the dominant religious views assert science's irrelevance to matters of significance without scientific proof, and how the scientific view expresses both a concept of self-limitation (quantitativeness) and a dominance over reality. When we deal with the concept of being, we deal with philosophical views that get into the qualitative territory of the mind, such that regard the mind as the "life form" and the body simply as the (biological) "machine." The path to this qualitative distinction is not clear nor easy to deal with, notably because its based somewhat on quantitative distinctions made through concepts like intelligence, sentience, sapience, and emotion.

Thus "living" things are said to have properties of function and temporality that exceed mere material objects, and various human concepts define "life" further such that certain quantitative and qualitative distinctions between different "life forms" are made.

My thoughts, for your consideration. -Stevertigo 23:27, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

PS: Breakdown:
  • complex and synergistic functions and processes
  • founded upon a rare combination of physical phenomenae
  • continued functions are dependent upon physical sustenance from its environment
  • and its behaviours are controlled through signals
  • either from the environment or through autonomous processes for signalling and abstract (signal) computation ("brain").
This mention of "behaviours" is premature, and though its a fundamental aspect, it merely indicates something important from a wrong angle of approach, rather than dealing with the concept of signal → response in a more tactile way. I'm working on a different variant that deals with that problem, but that means going back to the cloud. -Stevertigo 03:26, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Some quick observations:

  • Prions are not organisms but proteins (chains of aminoacids). There is absolutely no controversy today about that, as you falsely claim.
  • Any attempt to introduce "mind" talk, would be limited to the human experience, and that would not help describe life in general - the subject of this article.
  • The key word that helps explain the nature of biological processes is not "behavior" but physiology.
  • Is it too difficult for you to research published expert publications? You keep on elaborating on a new home-made (Original Research) definition that just won't stick. BatteryIncluded (talk) 05:19, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Glad you could chime in:

  • BI: "Prions are not organisms" - Ah. Mistated. Utterly. I meant "virii" —ie. "organisms at the edge of life". I also was not up-to-speed with regard to the apparently recent "replicator" term, which seems to be quite useful. I suppose the terse mention of prion at the non-cellular life stub is not justified, then?
  • BI please, it's not "mind talk" —its "mind" (though "brain" tends to be the typical metonym). That said, I agree that its premature to get into "mind" in the first paragraph, and certainly the real issue behind "mind" anyway is simply signal → response, which as I noted above should be first dealt with in the chemistry (external signals) sense, before getting into the mind (internal signals) sense. Am I correct in supposing that 'biochemical signal → response' is important here, and is something that you can quite well deal with directly?
  • BI: "Physiology" - Argh. Point well taken. Hm. For your consideration: Strip away any dogmatic implication of the form physiology → bio-organism and you've got a seriously abstract concept that has broad applicability. Its practically perfect anyway, though.
  • BI: "Is it too difficult for you to research published expert publications?" Aside from this being off-topic, the answer is "yes." They require serious prerequisite knowledge that I don't have, tend to focus on specialized details rather than general concepts, and want to charge this great information to my lackluster credit card. None of which particularly interests me, nor, coincidentally, is it really relevant to dealing with the introduction to an article about a concept that vastly exceeds science anyway.
  • BI: "You keep on elaborating on a new home-made (Original Research) definition that just won't stick." - BI please, its not "home-made" —its "conceptual" (cf. WP:CONCEPT). (I do often edit from "home," by the way). And when we consult each other to form an arrangement of concepts we decide are fundamental to a topic, we are creating a "concept cloud" (WP:CLOUD). The conceptual approach has thus far served us quite well on this talk page, has it not? -Stevertigo 20:16, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Definition of life

"Life is an ability of matter to self-manipulate.

Non-living matter is exclusively being manipulated by laws of physics without logic differing from that.

We are the higher logic of the Universe. In essence - we are all Gods."

Goran T.

Interjection by Binksternet

If it's too difficult for you to research published experts then I challenge your presence here at the Life article and this talk page. This isn't creative writing class as in your cloud and concept essays, it's an encyclopedia article that lots of people actually read for information. The talk page is not here for your pleasure, it's here for discussion toward improving the article. Please take your original research and essay stylings elsewhere. Binksternet (talk) 21:32, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Um, would you be violating DBAD again, just to avoid dealing with my complete and total destruction of your arguments at Talk:American Dream? Just curious. And for your knowledge, the cloud represents collaboration —a methodology for acheiving a kind of accuracy that can only be found in consensus. Its either consensus or dominance of a particular view —take your pick. -Stevertigo 01:01, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
I have observed that, in social interactions, civility begets civility, and dickishness begets dickishness. I first met you in answer to a plea for a third opinion resulting from you exercising your creative writing flair at Perfect crime, and it was there that I witnessed your insistence regarding the insertion of unsourced material you had created out of whole cloth. It was then that I became aware of how damaging it was to the encyclopedia to have somebody making up concepts and introducing them to the project. Subsequently, I have been examining your contributions: I find that some are commendable and some are harmful. Here, you wrote a paragraph about what "life" means in terms of religion, and you managed to shut out every religion that does not call upon one God. I don't see that as beneficial. Binksternet (talk) 01:42, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
"[p] begets [p], [etc.]" Ah, I see you are learning. "Students who achieve oneness, move on.. "
"Perfect crime.. unsourced material" - Hm. I concede that God may not be relevant to that concept. But in reality its such a stupid notion that it's just not worth my time, and I don't care to bother with it. Still, the point about it being a concept based in an atheistic notion of inconsequentialism remains true, and in any case I made several "unsourced" edits to that article lede that remain and in fact improved it far over what was there before. I get it done.
"It was then I became aware..how harmful it is.." - There are others that probably share your view. Here's an idea: You should assemble a group of yourselves. Instead of harrassing me at every turn and then having me obliterate you talk page by talk page, you should try starting a general referendum on my editing. In which you can try to invalidate the policy I've been a part of getting started: WP:CIVIL, WP:ARBCOM, WP:MEDCOM, the process pages I've dealt with to some degree: WP:CU, WP:3RR, WP:ACRE, or, best of all, you can try to take apart the new-ish methodologies I've formally outlined at WP:CONCEPT and WP:CLOUD (fresh off the press). I'm sure there's more you can nitpick. Don't make me wait. I look forward to the good work you can do in taking your harassment to a conceptual level. Regards, Stevertigo, inventor of the WP:shortcut, 04:34, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
You are a legend in your own mind, Stevertigo. For all your skills at using a dictionary, you still haven't figured out the WP:Five pillars of Wikipedia, particularly the requirement of citing references, and that the talk pages are not a forum. BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:30, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm collapsing this deviated thread by Bink. I've sufficiently dealt with his comments, and his DBAD violations are potentially contagious. -Stevertigo 03:14, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
BI commented: "Do not sensor [sic] comments.." - I did not "sensor" them, nor did I "censor" them, I simply collapsed them in a div that is easily expandable for viewing. Context: You and I were having a discussion. Binksternet interjected himself here with off-topic attacks. Your comment above, along the same lines as Binksternet's comments, was a deviation from our previous discussion. We were both conducting ourselves quite well, I think, as we were staying quite on topic, and things were getting sorted out. By collapsing his off-topic sub-thread, I sought to return the page to that mode of conversation. Apologies if it seemed like censorship.
Context: I've been dealing with Bink's harrassment, hypocrisy, and comments across several talk pages now, and just today I imagine that I have sufficiently destroyed them, in a manner which you yourself might have some concept of. When Bink collects himself, and if he decides to not violate longstanding conventions of civility, he can contribute to this article and the discussion related to it as well —iff he has the topical, not personal, interest. -Stevertigo 05:33, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Svertigo, stop crying me a river about sources and about Binksternet. You and I have no "conversation" any more that I have a conversation with a bothersome and mindless fly. You keep posting your long-winded Original Research assays instead of sourcing the information you attempt to introduce to the article - a Wikipedia requirement you refuse to acknowledge and comply with. Sources should be cited when adding material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, so, for nth time:

No drama is required, only information from reputable sources.

Since you seem to indulge in 'selective attention', try this one too:

Nuvola apps important.svg

From WP:NOR

Wikipedia does not publish original research or original thought. This includes unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position. This means that Wikipedia is not the place to publish your own opinions, experiences, or arguments. Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented.

No original research is one of three core content policies. The others are neutral point of view and verifiability. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles. Because they complement each other, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should familiarize themselves with all three.

If you have original research or commentary to contribute to a subject, there are numerous other places to do so, such as at WikiInfo. BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:21, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Exactly. Binksternet (talk) 03:41, 20 June 2009 (UTC)


Our little trolling fan, Stevertigo, became the unhappy receiver of a "conceptual" spanking for edit-warring and he is now subject to an editing restriction for one year: He is limited to one revert per page per week (except for undisputable vandalism and BLP violations), and is required to discuss any content reversions on the page's talk page. Non-compliance to the above are grounds for blocking for the duration specified in the enforcement ruling. BatteryIncluded (talk) 05:12, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

"stop crying me a river about sources and about Binksternet." - I wasn't crying anything. I was telling you to stay on topic, and don't let a Bink sucker you in to acting like an DBAD violator again. If you can remember only a few short weeks ago, you made several arguments on this talk page - several of which I demonstrated were false, and one or two of them was just with the usage of a dictionary. By defeating your ill concepts, I made it clear to you that your only future course was to act like a human being, and it is in that context that we have made progress.
Binksternet is learning the same thing - at Talk:American Dream Bink claimed that my edits were innaccurate and unsubstantiated - I was able to use the very same sources he provided to demonstrate that I was correct. He was wise enough to not respond to those points, conceding them, instead choosing a modality of someone who uses his skills to find sources, rather than doing what he was doing before, which was simply destroying edits which he subjectively considers to be not up to a certain inequally applied standard.
I can either excuse the "bothersome and mindless fly" comment or else may you pay for it. You stated "You keep posting your long-winded Original Research assays instead of sourcing the information you attempt to introduce to the article." - The issue here is about getting back to discussing the article and what goes in it. I've helped contribute to making it into what it is today, which is much more high-level and transcendent of any dogmatic claims by biology over all of the "life" concept. We were visited by someone who was trolling, and its important to not mindlessly follow the mantras introduced by a troll in the way you just did.
You come now to a crossroads: Should I again regard you BI as just another hostile know-it-all professional that I have to take a few inches off of? Again. Or can we get back to discussing the article? -Stevertigo 05:13, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
So charming, Steve; so unneeded. BatteryIncluded, I tweaked some text to meet what I think of as greater clarity and better reading flow. Check it to see if the sense you were trying to demonstrate still exists in full. Binksternet (talk) 15:22, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
That conveys the meaning quite well. Thank you Binksternet. BatteryIncluded (talk) 00:14, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Stevertigo, you only defeated yourself. Wikipedia rules & policies are in place for a reason and I will not debate them nor your amateur assays and B.S. baiting. Put up or shut up. Sincerely, BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:44, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

When your block is up BI, please come back with something substantive to say. Bink, you too. -Stevertigo 22:03, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Working Definition

"Nevertheless, Gerald Joyce of The Scripps Research Institute, serving on a NASA Exobiology panel, proposed a widely cited “working definition” for life in the context of space exploration. 'Life is a self-sustained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution'... This NASA inspired definition is probably as general, useful, and concise as any we are likely to come up with—at least until we discover more about what is actually out there."

Hazen, R.M. 2005. "What is life?" from Genesis: The scientific quest for life's origins.

could somebody add this? i have neither the knowledge nor the interest to edit the page but feel this is an important definition. 21:48, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

 Done. Hazen was apparently quoting G.F. Joyce. --BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:08, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Death

Since death is an intimate aspect of life, I have added a new section to the article, it deals with death, extinctions and fossil records. I would apreciate a review of it. BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:17, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

I think it suits. Binksternet (talk) 03:15, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
While death is certainly not "an intimate aspect of life," it is nevertheless the conceptual opposite of (or complement to) "life." So yes, I agree that "death" needs a mention here, just as I suggested that "life" actually be mentioned in the "death" article.
But note that because this is a high-level concept, we need to clarify what particular concepts of "death" (biological, colloquial, other extant concepts...) we are dealing with, and distinguish these from each other. Regards, -Stevertigo 05:16, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
You have to be kidding! Are you going subdivide death into Kind'a dead, sort'a dead and Bloody hell, it's dead!? Get real. Dead is dead.65.213.100.34 (talk) 18:01, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, you are not right about it. There is Your sweet old grandmother is dead, but there is also Hitler dead - quite different concepts entirely. But don't take my word for it... -Stevertigo 04:52, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
You sound so certain, yet those religious concepts rely on faith, not proof. This article will not need to explain religion to the reader, as each reader will have different beliefs. Binksternet (talk) 14:31, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Well again, this is a high-level topic/concept, and therefore the article will also be conceptually high-level. That means, again, we are dealing (generalistically) with ideas about "life" (and to some degree "death") - in all of its dimensions and facets. Again, we aren't confining ourselves to those low-level concepts (like "proof"), such that only materialism requires. -Stevertigo 18:10, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
"Lowly" facts will always be real, unlike your narrowly-defined make-belief concepts linked to your reply, no matter how large the preceding Religious Marching Band is. I strongly suggest you take this to the Death or Faith articles. BatteryIncluded (talk) 23:19, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Are you the arbiter now of which human concepts are "real," and thus we should consider "facts?" You talk about narrow concepts, and yet it is you who suggest I confine any 'unprovable' concepts - not just all transcendent (non-materialistic) concepts about life, but any reference to their very existence in human thought - to highly-conceptual articles not this one. A self-contradicted and narrow proscription in its own right - one that misses the point that we deal with what people deal with, and thus we don't limit ourselves based on what you consider or don't consider to be "proven."

And your term "proof" here is just jargon for "scientific proof" - again, science (like materialism) isn't everything. Science, for example, doesn't really explain why you and your girfriend like each other: "Love" is a serious dimension within human "life," isn't it? Neurochemicals? "Biochemisty" doesn't even satisfactorily answer how, let alone why. Maybe its a bit unfair to get into qualitative concepts like love here, but that's the problem with assuming that scientology* answers every question, query, or issue. -Stevertigo 05:20, 26 August 2009 (UTC) (*lowercase to indicate its secondary meaning as a descriptor of qualitative conjecture of a dogmatically science-y nature). -Stevertigo 05:20, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

-Removed-

I would ask that you consider my point of view, that people like yourself - people who have not lately dealt rationally with views they don't like, who fail to give an actual substantive response to an argument, and for whom calling someone a "troll" is by all evidence the best response they can come up with - are themselves just "trolls" in their own right.
Again, I ask that you and I go back to that cooperative mode we had for a short while before Binksternet came "trolling" after me across several talk pages to this one. Troll, meet troll, meet troll. -Stevertigo 07:41, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
While the silence speaks volumes, it would be nice for a change if people acknowledged that my valid arguments have superceded their own. A concession need not be a speech - a terse comment indicating both their literacy and their future complicity would suffice nicely.
And even those aren't always as good as just making the effort to pick up the discussion to where we left off before they (you) raised untenable, defeatable arguments. -Stevertigo 19:07, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Twosome, threesome, foursome or bothersome ..

This line worries me:

"Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms either asexually, from a single parent organism, or sexually, from at least two parent organisms."

Can anyone tell me where offspring are created from more than two parent organisms please? --Candy (talk) 16:35, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Yep. i think i'll fix that. BatteryIncluded (talk) 01:19, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Bacterial conjugation, for example. Any number of other bacteria may contribute to the genome of one individual. Conjugation is considered a sexual process, and justifies the 'at least' which was previously used. --Blahah 06:14, 14 November 2009 (GMT)

Self-replication

This line is incorrect: "Investigators have been able to produce ribozymes which are able to synthesize, or create, more copies of themselves under very specific conditions."

As the reference used does not include anything like this (it has not been done yet), I propose the following wording: "Investigators have been hoping to produce ribozymes which are able to synthesize, or create, more copies of themselves." This is contained in the referenced article at the end of the first paragraph.

Sepro (talk) 22:19, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

I read the article and you are right. The round-18 ribozyme is a modern combinatorial and engineering methodology not present in nature. Whether their construct works or not, its assumed role in the origin of life will remain highly hypothetical, as it simply does not exist in nature. I rather delete the whole phrase because there are several other theories with better grounding than this one. BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:04, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Introduction

Reason for my revert: I rather do not include technical biophysical terms in the introduction (lead section), which is supposed to be a general overview with a clear explanation; the greater level of detail is included on the following sections.[11] Note that there is a section dedicated to the biophysical definition. The requirement of high quality sources is allways on. Cheers, --BatteryIncluded (talk) 13:04, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Yet defining life in terms of biological processes, which in turn are defined (in a quite precarious article) as characteristic features of "living organisms" could hardly be considered a "clear explanation". It's at most a handy example of simple circular reasoning, whose acceptability by Wikipedia standards is at least questionable. Old Palimpsest (talk) 03:33, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
The article is accurate in that the current biological definition of life is descriptive. Did you make use of the references? I can hardly blame Wikipedia that humanity has no "clear explanation" for life. --BatteryIncluded (talk) 04:02, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Suppose I didn't make use of the references. How does it change the fact that the first paragraph of the lead section only provides a first-degree circular definition of the article subject, instead of warning the 8 years old reader about the difficulties of a definition? Old Palimpsest (talk) 11:43, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Our current biological understanding describes life as a process featuring certain characteristics collectively called 'biological processes' and its definition is desciptive. I don't see a circular reasoning, but you could make a point of a similar effect created by the associated intralinks, which you are welcome to edit. However I see your point in that the current introduction attempts to give a general definition/description which will always lack precision when seen from different disciplines; the lead section includes a general description/definition only because it is the requirement of Wikipedia:
WP:LEAD: "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview of the article. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the subject is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points."
However, given the particular nature of this subject we could do without a 'general definition' (which invariably will be too weak) in the introduction and instead state the difficulties of attempting one.
What change would the 8 years old reader make to the first paragraph? --BatteryIncluded (talk) 17:59, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Charactersitics of Life

I may be splitting hairs here, but it seems quite redundant to have both Metabolism and Homeostasis listed as characteristics of life. In Biology 8th edition by Solomon Berg and Martin(the textbook for college level biology, it lists the characteristics of life as organization, growth/development, metabolism, response to stimuli, reproduction, and adaptation. almost identical to what is found in this article. In the textbook, metabolism is defined as "the sum of all the chemical processes that occur within a cell or organism; the transformations by which energy and matter are made available for use by the organism." Homeostasis or chemical and energy balance within an organism would fall under "the sum of all the chemical processes." Furthermore, homeostasis is expressed as one of the primary reasons for metabolic activity within an organism. A portion of metabolic activity is expended in growth, but for most of an organisms life, that activity has the sole purpose of maintaining homeostasis. For this reason I don't see the need to have separate characteristic listings for Metabolism and Homeostasis. That is all. Good day. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Art of the Marsh (talkcontribs) 19:06, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Hello. You are right, however, the definitions listed are the general concensus, and not a single author's definition. Regarding homeostasis, yes, it is a part of metabolism, however, the characteristic of regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state (homeostasis), refers to the very complex control mechanism of metabolism, so I believe it does grant its own line in the article.
Furthermore, homeostasis is expressed as one of the primary reasons for metabolic activity within an organism. -Art of the Marsh
Metabolism is a dynamic biochemical state that can not be allowed to proceed unchecked, so homeostasis is expressed as its control mechanism. Your textbook is quite correct, its only that metabolism control (homeostasis) is so critical that it is a remarkable characteristic of life. A cell does not want to have anabolism and catabolism working unchecked and independently of each other, or under unfavorable internal environment, that is why regulation or control (homeostasis) of the internal environment and all its chemical reactions is a life characteristic on its own. Cheers, --BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:06, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Hello again. I'm sorry if I am being bothersome, but I would like to know the source by which you say that this list is "the general concensus." I have looked high and low trying to find an official list that is the general consensus of the characteristics of life. I have found a great many lists, but none of them agree on all points. The closest that I have found to two lists agreeing is the list on this site and the one in my textbook. Those two have only one list item different. The other lists vary greatly. I tried the reference links found in this section of the article. One of those links no longer works, and the others are among those that vary greatly from each other. If there is some official consensus, please let me know. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Art of the Marsh (talkcontribs) 21:41, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Useful sources from past discussions


Talk Fast Ent. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.239.106.120 (talk) 20:49, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

edit request

please change

"In philosophy and religion, the conception of life and its nature varies. Both offer interpretations as to how life relates to existence and consciousness, and both touch on many related issues, including life stance, purpose, conceptions of God, the soul and the afterlife."

to

"In philosophy and religion, the conception of life and its nature varies. Both offer interpretations as to how life relates to existence and consciousness, and both touch on many related issues, including life stance, purpose, conceptions of a God, a soul or an afterlife."


because

the original sentence presumes that there is "God", "the soul", and "the afterlife". of course any of those are debatable in philosophy, even among different religions, therefore should not be presumed. the sentence misleads the reader to a forgone conclusion.

Done. I included plural gods in addition to your requested singular. Binksternet (talk) 16:38, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

Automate archiving?

Does anyone object to me setting up automatic archiving for this page using MiszaBot? Unless otherwise agreed, I would set it to archive threads that have been inactive for 30 days.--Oneiros (talk) 18:30, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree with automated archiving of inactive threads. --BatteryIncluded (talk) 17:21, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
 Done. The bots should start in the next 24h.--Oneiros (talk) 18:46, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Excellent sources

Indeed. --BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:16, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Broken link in references

There's a broken link in the references - here is the correct address http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/226/defining-life —Preceding unsigned comment added by EfAston (talkcontribs) 04:21, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Fixed Locos epraix ~ Beastepraix 08:45, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Definition of Life

I'm no expert but I am a pedant. The definition of Life in the opening paragraph is clearly misleading. To say that an ability to reproduce is a prerequisite to be considered as alive is patently wrong. Many organisms as members of animal populations may be unable to reproduce through accident or disease for example, and yet by any common-sense measure they must be considered as being alive. On a similar point, it could be argued that humanity as a species has stopped evolving in response to environmental stimuli simply because human-kind has the ability to adapt its environment immediately to its requirements, and yet, again, any living member of the human species is obviously alive.Fizzackerly (talk) 21:25, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

The opening paragraph defines life as "objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes (biology) [versus] those that do not". It does not mention reproduction. If you're going to be a pedant, at least be an accurate pedant :P
Touche! On the substantive point I reckon I could make a fairly sound argument that stars are alive given the opening paragraph definition you quote here. The size of a star is regulated by competing processes of gravitational collapse versus radiation pressure arising from thermonuclear reactions. Stars in binary systems signal by the transfer of matter giving rise to modified characteristics of both of the binary pair in respect of brightness and lifetime (pun intended). Just a bit of fun, but it shows what you can do with a definition. Fizzackerly (talk) 17:12, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
The second paragraph introduces the notion of "reproduction" as being one of the defining characteristics. I think you are suggesting that the sentence should more clearly indicate that it is describing the characteristics of species, rather than any individual entity from those species. It would help if you suggested a specific wording that you'd like to see. Personally, I don't believe it is confusing.
In a way you're quite right. However I'd suggest the only reason you don't find it confusing is because you know in advance what is intended by the statement. If you were trying to explain to the ubiquitous 'intelligent but ignorant correspondent' what the role of a capability in reproduction is in defining a living organism I reckon you'd come unstuck. Again suggesting the capacity to reproduce is a defining characteristic of a living species doesn't quite cut it either since one could imagine a species level 'event' such as a contagious disease which rendered all members of a species infertile but none-the-less alive until the species had become extinct via its failure to reproduce.
I don't know what the answer to this is except to say that it's probably as hard as defining other intangibles such as artificial intelligence for example. On the other hand I'd suggest that trying to pick out common characteristics of most living organisms isn't the best way to define what's alive and what's not, it's a kind of inductivist approach - just my opinion. For my taste I prefer a definition from thermodynamics along the lines of a living organism being something capable of maintaining a low entropy state by extracting free energy from its environment. I see that definition elsewhere in the article some way down but it sounds rather more fundamental than picking out some common characteristics of most living organisms. Fizzackerly (talk) 16:19, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
Saying that something which is considered alive is something which is "extracting energy" is arguably wrong too along the same thought processes as you have given. While a "life system" may continuously extract energy from the surrounding environment, that's not necessary either, and a life form can exist by being provided already with energy to allow it to function however briefly before dissipating. For example, someone could create an entity with fat storage "inside" the system after which using it up would dissipate the system i.e. causing death. I use the word "dissipate" because ultimately life is nothing more than the encapsulation of energy into an area or structure which is recognisable, typically with energy exchanges taking place within it. Using the term "inside" isn't accurate either since it doesn't matter where energy is occurring necessarily. You could say that the Earth's solar system is alive, or the entire universe. My point, and your point earlier as well, is that defining life as system which maintains itself ignores certain situations which one would want to use the term "life" for, like briefly-existing self-contained systems using energy already contained in the system and "extracting" nothing from the "environment". How about defining life as "complex energy", an "energy system", or any "machine"? This would attempt to segregate simple energy from energy systems and to avoid calling all energy "life". Yfrwlf (talk) 20:38, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Regarding human evolution having ceased, (A) [citation required], (B) see Human evolution#Recent and current human evolution. HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 23:41, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
The lead section is an introduction which by no means singles out the phenomena of reproduction as the decisive property of life. The definitions are in the "Definitions" section. Your suggestion to create a definition wide enough to include all possible "accidents or diseases" on a particular organism would be so vague that it would totally lack of practical meaning. Regarding humans having reach the pinacle of evolution, we would love to read the peer-reviewed research on that.--BatteryIncluded (talk) 17:31, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Although a sterile mule does not reproduce, pretty much every cell it is made of can reproduce and evolve. If one of the cells became cancerous, the cell's decedents will try to expand their domain. We consider a mule to be alive because it is made up of living components. If a robot could mimic exactly the behavior of a mule but nothing in it reproduced I would say that the robotic mule was not alive. TheoThompson (talk) 23:35, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

dr. mult. Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis: In relation to the above discussion points, I would like to suggest a simple, yet fundamental improvement of the wiki page about life. This involves the distinguishing between 'LIFE' and 'LIVING'. At the moment many criteria used in the wikipedia definition actually relate to 'living' (dynamic aspects such as signalling functions, metabolism, reproduction etc.). A frozen bacterium simply illustrates that this is not the most logical thing to do. While frozen, a bacterium is not 'LIVING' because it is frozen. It cannot signal, metabolize, reproduce etc. Yet, it still represents 'LIFE' because it can be thawed and activated again. From this example, it is straightforward to conclude that LIFE represents a specific kind of material organization that allows things to -when active- show 'living' activities. A logical next question is of course, what precisely are the organizations that define life. A framework for dealing with this question is presented in my second thesis (http://repository.ubn.ru.nl/bitstream/2066/82605/1/82605). An elaborate discussion of many aspects of how te define life can be found in my recent paper in Foundations of Science (http://www.springerlink.com/content/3420lw0ll3r5p7k0/). In this paper I offer a very fundamental definition of life that solves problems that plague existing definitions. If Wikipedia is interested, I would like to be involved in re-editing the definition of life such that it takes the above simple logic into account. As the definition of life topic has many links to other wiki pages (What is an organism? What is biodiversity?) I would prefer to work in close cooperation with the wiki team. You are welcome to contact me. Regards, Gerard. Jager008 (talk) 07:49, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Hello Jager. Yes, defining life is quite difficult. I will certainly read your papers sometime tonight and likely comment later. As a quick note, in our research labs we do not refer to frozen bacteria (or eukaryotic cells) as living or alive, buy whether they are viable, eg: capable of life or normal growth and development. BatteryIncluded (talk) 21:46, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
FWIW - My Thinking At The Moment - "Life" (and/or "Life-Forms"), At The Most Basic Level, Simply Seems To Be *A Chemical That Can Reproduce Itself* - Interestingly, All Known Life-Forms Are Composed Of The Very Same Chemical (basically, a very particular form of phospho-sugar-nucleic acid) - Capable Of Astronomical Variation - With Only Variants Suitable To The Environment Surviving From One Generation To The Next - Apparently, All Life On Earth Can Be Traced To A Single Event Occurring About 3.5 Billion Years Ago - If Interested, Some Of These (& related) Comments Were Posted On My LiveJournal Some Time Ago - In Any Case - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 00:06, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Hello Jager, I do not have a subscription to Springer, and I would like to have a copy sent to me, please. I am sure Dr. Bogdan would like a copy too.  ;) I already sent you a private message within the Wikipedia system. By reading the abstract, it seems you coined innovative terminology and concepts. Your thesis is 288 pages long so I don't think I can process that tonight and discuss it; i may take me time to get in the swing of "operators" and "closures" since my field is strictly molecular biology. According to the rules in Wikipedia, if the concept is not too "fringe", and if the article is peer-reviewed, (which it is likely the case) I am sure we will be able to incorporate the essence of it in the respective section(s). Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:35, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Edited to add: it seems to me your thesis goes deeper than just "defining life", it seems a living system theory, which may have its own entry under "Living systems theories" in this article. My limited understanding of "living systems" is that they are at the vanguard as they attempt to unify our knowledge of all aspects of biology and environment. I for one am receptive to it; I hope Bogdan gets onboard so that Jager won't have problems with Wikipedia:Conflict of interest. -BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:04, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
At The Moment - And For Purposes Of An Encyclopedia - I Would Think Any Definition (and any related information in the lede) Re The "Life" Article Should Be As Accurate And As Easy To Understand As Possible - A Currently Conventional (and/or conservative?) Way Of Thinking Might Be Preferred To Any New One That Might Be Controversial, Unsettled And Untested - In Any Case - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 13:50, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
For the lede section, I completely agree. Also for the definitions section, as the current understanding is descriptive. Although I have not finished reading the thesis, I am so far in favor of adding a short and concise entry on this theory under the "Living systems theories" section, if it was published in a peer-reviewed journal and we can get a copy of it. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 14:48, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, Seems We Entirely Agree About This - Thanks For *All* Your Comments - And - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 15:19, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Thank you all for the above discussions. Just a few short responses: The definition of life paper can be found in chapter 5 (pp 122-150 of my thesis, see link above)(I only added the Journal ref to show where it had been published). Indeed the thesis goes deeper that a definition of life, because a definition of life needs an underlying fundament. A link to living systems theory would be possible, say, as a means to indicate that alternative ways exist (additionally to living systems theory) to think about organization of the world. The basic idea of the operator theory, however, differs considerably in its strictness and simplicity and its more limited scope (In matters like these I regard limitedness as a virtue ;->). Hope discussions will remain focused on the simple difference between LIFE and LIVING (I discuss 'viable lifelessness' at page 134 of the definition of life chapter of my operator hierarchy thesis). The above remark of the "chemical that can reproduce itself" for me only illustrates the confusion about what exactly is life (hope this remark hurts no feelings!). As I stated above, reproduction is a property related to 'living'. And not a good candidate for a definition of life, because not ALL living things can reproduce, not even in potential (which debunks the criterion, at least in my eyes). So, the question remains: what structures fit a definition of life? If a virus molecule is looked at just for its structure, it has the structure of 'molecule'. And if we consider one particular molecule to have a structure defining it as life, we need to consider all molecules as life. So considering a virus as life seems not very satisfying because of the consequences this viewpoint has for all other molecules that belong to the same type of organization. Gerard Jagers 137.224.252.10 (talk) 09:51, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

@Jagers - Thank You For Your Comments - And For Pointing Out That "Life" And "Living" May Be Entirely Different Considerations - The Phrase "definition of life" Seems To Appear 70 Times In One Of Your Publications - But A Simple, Easy-To-Understand Definition Does Not Seem To Appear At All - The Closest "Definition Of Life" You Seem To Present, On 122 Of Your Publication, Seems To Be As Follows: "...matter with the configuration of an operator, and that possesses a complexity equal to, or even higher than the cellular operator." - Just Curious - And If Possible - In Simple, Easy-To-Understand, Every-day Language (suitable for a non-specialized encyclopedia with a world-wide audience), How Would You Briefly (in one-sentence) State The "Definition Of Life"? Drbogdan (talk) 13:04, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Dear DrBogdan. My major drive in science is to make things simpler (Ockhams razor!). Therefore I really appreciate the point you raise. I have a simple answer. If one accepts that a complexity ladder can be build that ranks all types of physical particles and organisms, this ladder can serve as a basis for a simple definition. The complexity ladder I talk about (which I call the operator hierarchy) contains the following steps: quarks, hadrons, atoms, molecules, (bacterial) cells, endosymbiontic cells (frequently referred to as eukaryotes), endosymbiontic multicellular organisms (plants, fungy) and endosymbiontic multicellular organisms with brains. At every step on this ladder a new integrating property is added. The ladder is strict: every lower level is the immediate precessor of the next level. No step can be added or taken out. Using this organisation ladder as a basis, a very simple definition of life can be phrased as: "Life relates to the organizational properties that define all the system types on the ladder that at least show the complexity of the cell". This definition is simple (given the complexity of the problem!). It refers to the ladder and the ladder defines exactly which organizational properties we talk about. It respects that life applies to organisms with different levels of complexity (for example not only to the first cell!). It is more specific than autopoiesis. The use of the ladder as an underlying fundament also implies that the definition is highly specific in deciding on 'difficult cases'. As I have indicated in my definition of life paper, the use of this definition solves many problems that have plaqued this subject for so long. Kind regards, Gerard Jagers Jager008 (talk) 07:38, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Again For Your Comments - Seems That Both Of Your "Definitions Of Life" Include Cellular life In The Definitions But Do Not Seem To Include Non-cellular life (or Acytota and Aphanobionta) Organisms - Like Viruses (including the Mimivirus), Viroids, Cosmids, Fosmids, Phagemids, Prions, Satellites, Transposons And Related Acellular Life Forms - OTOH, "Life" As A *Chemical That Can Reproduce Itself* Seems To Include Such Life Forms. For Me, At Least At The Moment, The Basic Essence Of All Life Forms, At The Most Fundamental Level, Is Chemistry - And Reproduction - As Before, "Life", Deep Down, Is *A Chemical That Can Reproduce Itself* - All Known Life-forms Are Composed Of The Very Same Chemical (basically, a very particular form of phospho-sugar-nucleic acid - capable of astronomical variation - with only variants suitable to the environment surviving from one generation to the next) - AFAIK, The *Purpose* Of *All* Life Forms Is To Get It's Genetic (or chemical) Information) Into *The Next Generation* - "Living" Is Simply A Way For This (chemical reproduction) To Happen - In Any Case - Thanks Again For Your Comments - And - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 15:50, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Dear DrBogdan. In the same way as I argued above that LIFE and LIVING shoud be separated, I argue that LIFE and REPRODUCTION should be separated. Not all forms of life can reproduce (e.g. a sterilized cat, my grandmother, species crosses, etc. etc.). Reproduction therefore is not a good criterium for life. Instead maintenence is crucial. Hope you are willing to adjust on these grounds your opinion that a reproducing chemical is life (this apart from the discussion about what is indicated with 'reproduction' in the above examples). Instead I would like to offer you the viewpoint of a set of chemicals together maintaining all molecules in the set (they do not reproduce but maintain as a set, so reproduction is not required). In a set A, B and C, A produces B, B produces C and C produces A. All still based on chemistry. Provide this set with a (chemical) membrane and this would offer the chemical basis of life. Together they are capable of maintaining themselves as a set. Please take the effort to read my definition of life paper, as this explains all this ste by step and in much more detail. Kind regards, Gerard Jagers Jager008 (talk) 18:38, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I Think You May Have Misunderstood My Use Of The Word "Reproduction" - AFAIK, *All* Life Forms Reproduce - At The Cellular Level At Least (& at all possible times) - In Order To Be Considered Life Forms At All - Including Infertile Life Forms (mules, sterilized cats, etc) - In My View, Life Forms Are Basically Chemicals - Life Forms And Reproduction Are Intimately Integrated - Reproduction Goes On At Any And All Possible Levels Of A Life Form's Make-up - To Me At The Moment, This Makes The Most Sense - You May Wish To Re-Read My Comments Above With This In Mind - In Any Case - We Can Agree To Disagree On This Of Course - Thanks In Any Regards For Your Comments - And - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 20:33, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
dear Drbogdan: In principle we may agree, but I prefer other choices. The use of the organization ladder as a basis for a definition of life does allow one to choose whatever level(s) for whatever definition(s). In relation to all biological knowledge (biology being the "study of life") it would be quite strange however, to include the level of molecules (which are chemicals). From a strictly philosophical point of view one could choose other levels on the ladder, and accept chemicals as being 'alive'. I do not advice that, however, as it leads to much more complex reasoning (Ockhams razor!). Kind regards, Gerard. Jager008 (talk) 22:25, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

FWIW - Of Possible Interest - Seems Others Have Defined "Life" Similar To The One I Posted Earlier [ie, "'Life' (and/or 'Life-Forms'), At The Most Basic Level, Simply Seems To Be *A Chemical That Can Reproduce Itself*"] - There Are Several Examples: One Astronomer Phrases It As "matter that can reproduce itself" (also, PDF-1 and PDF-2); Another Scientist(?) As "a molecule that can reproduce itself" - I Have No Particular Investment In Such Definitions For Purposes Of The Main "Life" Article But Perhaps Such Thinking Might Be Considered To Some Extent? - In Any Regards - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 14:18, 14 August 2011 (UTC) - UPDATE -> Added A Brief Line Of Related Text (And Several References) To The Main Article. Drbogdan (talk) 13:27, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Would not a better definition be "Life is that which has the discretionary use of energy"?Senseofwonder (talk) 02:20, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

Can you cite a reliable source for that definition? Everything that goes into an article in Wikipedia has to be verifiable from a reliable source. We cannot use material that is original research, that is, facts that we have personally observed but which are not supported by reliable sources, definitions that we have come up with ourselves, etc. -- Donald Albury 12:07, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Donald. As a new comer to the world of wikipedia contribution I appreciate your clarification. I now recognise wikipedia's destinction between the production of new knowledge and the gathering and presentation of existing knowledge. I will look elsewhere for a forum to discuss refining the definition for life and meybe, in time, will arrive back here with the prerequisite citations. Thanks again.Senseofwonder (talk) 00:17, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

"Evolved strategies"

"Life has evolved strategies that allow it to survive even beyond the physical and chemical limits to which it has adapted to grow." - A rather problematic sentence. Life has a will to evolve strategies now? I don't think a teleological view fits into the general biological consensus, and thus it opposes the rest of the article. The other problematic suggestion is that life somehow has knowledge of some physical and chemical limits to which it can adapt.

Shouldn't we better drop the sentence entirely, and assume that robust designs survive better and thereby introduce the subject of extremophiles by more truthfully suggesting that this class of creatures adapted to a changed environment and then adapted again until survival was possible in conditions that are anthropocentrically deemed extreme? --JeR (talk) 16:36, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

I agree. Go ahead and do the change. Cheers, --BatteryIncluded (talk) 02:43, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Life wordle

Wordle constructed from Wikipedia article, Life, with "life" terms removed. Available at Wordle gallery.

I recently started playing with "Wordles'" and thought they could be an interesting tool to help review the coverage and balance in Wikipedia articles. For example, here's a wordle of the Life article with the term "life" removed.

A quick view of this wordle suggests the article emphasizes discussing life more in terms of living organisms, Earth, systems, the environment, animals and RNA. If so, is that intentional? As it should be? Does a visual aid like this help discussions about coverage and balance? What do you think?

In any event, using the Wordle app was a fun exercise. Do any other articles seem to be itching for their own wordle? Regards, RichardF (talk) 22:23, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Dear RichardF, the point you raise is very intersting. It indicates that the present definition of life in wikipedia centers around organisms. This is in part very logical. But it implies kicking the can down the alley. Next question then is how to define the organism. Here anyone can find that Wikipedia defines an organism as a living system. A circular reasonig! To solve this problem I have suggested above (definition of life) to use a complexity ladder for particles and organisms (whith the name of the operator hierarchy). Now a section of the ladder can be used to define the organizations representing life. And the systems in the section of the ladder representing life can be named organisms. No more circularities. Hope to support the editors of WIKI with this information. A non-circular definition of life and organisms is possible. Gerard Jagers Jager008 (talk) 13:38, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from Iamthebestendof, 26 April 2011

Currently to Human knowledge life does not exist on any other planet other than Earth.

Iamthebestendof (talk) 14:46, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Not done: please be more specific about what needs to be changed. — Bility (talk) 20:58, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Weaseling in Early theories about life

"Some of the earliest theories of life were materialist" makes me want to insert the WHICH tag, but the main problem here is that current theories are also 'materialist', and the tone of this paragraph suggests all materialist theories are outdated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.202.115.32 (talk) 00:18, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Definition of Life - several considerations

Wikipedia defines the core hierarchy of more general and more specific (less general) concepts.

At the top of a hierarchy is probably the word "Concept". (And it expands down from there!)

Within that hierarchy there is also a network of connections between concepts (mostly references?).

As we rise up the hierarchy of meaning, the concepts become more general, and the labels become shorter. For example the concept of "Frog" is more general than the concept of "Tree Frog". So, when we define the concept of "Frog", we want to cover all types of frog, including tree frogs. Tree frogs themselves will be defined as a type of frog, and therefore lower in the Wikipedia concept hierarchy than the concept of "Frog". But "Frog" will be lower then "Amphibian".

Thus the phrase "Life" (which is very short) covers a very broad concept.

However in this article, the concept of "Life" in general (including "Artificial Life", etc), seems to have been suborned to the concepts of "Biological Life" and "Earthly Life", which I believe should probably be moved to their own subordinate locations in the Wikipedia conceptual hierarchy.

That way, I believe the definition of "Life" would be something like:

"A pattern that can repeatedly reproduce inexactly over a period of time <<leading to possibilities for Darwinian evolution or similar>> in a resource-available but resource-limited environment"

Please let's get back to the basic concepts here and take 'Biological' life and 'Earthly' life out to their own subordinate sections. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jjalexand (talkcontribs) 16:19, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Your definition is getting rather over broad. Under "pattern that reproduces itself" definition memes would be life. Organised structure that embodies the information to closely reproduce itself automatically would be closer to the mark, a physical structure being needed which memes do not possess. In terms of your concepts hierarchy, the term that would cover life and meme would be emergent complex information transmission system, or replicator if shorter term is more desirable. SkyMachine (++) 19:44, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Adaptation vs. Acclimation

In biology, the term adaptation refers to traits that arise from natural selection that make an organism more fit. Acclimation refers to an individual's ability to change homeostatically in response to the environment. "[Adaptation] The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment" is ambiguous and it is not discernible whether an individual or population is being discussed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.136.92.158 (talk) 08:33, 15 January 2012 (UTC)


Perhaps the word "Mutation" would be more appropriate, as it doesn't require the species to adapt to the environment, which it doesn't have to, else the countless species that failed to adapt to a changing environment, and went extinct, were NEVER alive. 118.209.12.148 (talk) 15:24, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Nope, even beneficial mutations only introduce or extend the variability of traits that selection can act on. Species are not required to adapt. Populations adapt through the spread of traits (gene alleles, whether or not recently introduced by mutations) that increase the genetic fitness of individuals in the current environment. Populations that adapt to a changed environment tend to thrive in that environment. Populations that don't adapt to a changed environment tend to diminish in that environment. The causes of extinction for any species are complicated, and citing a "failure to adapt" tells us nothing about those causes. -- Donald Albury 20:49, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Additions?

A topic that seems to be missing from the article is some discussion of "Organization and function" of organisms, particularly with regards to how they satisfy the seven phenomenon in the Definitions section. The Biology article covers the topic a little better by at least having a paragraph on cell theory. This article only mentions genetics in the context of viruses. Since the lead says, "More complex living organisms can communicate through various means", this should probably be covered as well.

Regards, RJH (talk) 04:21, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

Purpose of life

I deleted this sentence: Physicist Sean Carroll suggests that life originated as a way to hydrogenate carbon dioxide. The source actually states: The purpose of life is to hydrogenate carbon dioxide.
I know of scientists that have concluded that life is a Corona on the beach. But seriously, was there a creator that decided that hydrogenated CO2 must exist so life was crafted after it? Who are we supposedly fulfilling this purpose for? The "purpose of life" is a subject best left out of this article. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:42, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

haha, good call there. --Xiaphias (talk) 06:44, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Bloat in "See also" section

Per WP:ALSO, the "See also" section should be limited to a reasonable number. At present the list seems excessive. I trimmed the following from the "See also" section but they were restored without explanation.

Regards, RJH (talk) 15:04, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

I also think this section can be trimmed to relevant topics. I support such proposed deletions. ----
Yeah that seems to be a reasonable assessment. SkyMachine (++) 09:23, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

All life in a place

Until life is discovered that is not compartmentalize as species we must see a place as all the species in that place. Homo is thus a numerically insignificant species. In order to correct the false impression that man is numerically significant any community of life (necessarily without Homo) needs to be recognized, for example, a species forest (not to be confused with native species forest), species desert, species island, species sea or species something else. All of these are terms that refer to the occupants, but the referral is not with human intent or emotion.Rstafursky (talk) 02:23, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

If you think hominids are "insignificant", you need to think again. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:42, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you mean biome? "Species" as a word has a very specific meaning that does not depend on human intent or emotions. Regards, RJH (talk) 02:40, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Machines are not living things

Machines are not living things, even if somebody manages to have them self-replicate. It has been discussed here before, and deleted repeatedly as misleading and incorrect. Such invocation, even if you managed to obtain a reference, greately indulges on WP:Fringe - and that is under a best-case-scenario. Please discuss this issue if you intend to reintroduce such material. By the way, your prior work in this article has been commendable and of the highest quality. Thank you, BatteryIncluded (talk) 11:46, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Well, several responses occur. First, neither are viruses nor prions; the section is not about life, but about systems that have some life-like properties. Presumably the goal of including viruses is to provide some distinction in terms of listing negative examples. Second, the statement doesn't say they (some future machinery that satisfies the life requirements) are life; it merely says they could satisfy the requirements for life. It is a factual statement, so I'd ask you how the sentence could be rewritten to satisfy the supposed violation of WP:FRINGE? Thirdly, I noticed a number of authors take the opposite tack; namely, call cells machines that can make copies of themselves. Should I take the opposite tack and note that fact?
If people say they (the future machines) are not life, yet become capable of satisfying the requirements of life, then I'd say some clarification is needed. There's clearly a requirement missing from the list, and I would like to add that. Since you removed the information, I will point out that a discussion of prions was included in the peer review. I'd hardly call the article comprehensive if it excludes negative comparisons. Thank you. Regards, RJH (talk) 14:53, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Bah, never mind. There's no way this article will reach FA and I'm tired of argumentative discussions. Bye. Regards, RJH (talk)

At the moment, and as before, my favored definition of life is broad - ie, "life is matter that can reproduce itself" - such a broad pov may be relevant (even helpful?) to abiogenesis, panspermia, extraterrestrial life, and the like - after all, we might be less likely to "miss something", so-to-speak, in our searches/understandings/etc re life (and/or life forms) with a broader pov I would think - accordingly, the notion of prions, and yes, even machines mimicking life processes, may be worth considering - perhaps some compromise language may be found (consistent w/ WP:RS & avoiding WP:Fringe of course) to reconcile views? - in any case - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 17:06, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

So, it is you and me, Dr Bogdan. Briefly, I have an issue with sneaking (WP:Weasel) hypothetical "mechanical replicators" from the future (WP:Crystalball), which are only a fraction of "artificial life", in between text of mainstream/accepted biological concepts and definitions (WP:Fringe).
--If people say they (the future machines) are not life, yet become capable of satisfying the requirements of life, then I'd say some clarification is needed." -RJHall
Peer-review is an important feature of reliable sources that discuss scientific ideas, but it is not the same as acceptance by the scientific community. It is important that original hypotheses that have gone through peer review do not get presented in Wikipedia as representing scientific consensus or fact. Articles about fringe theories sourced solely from a single primary source (even when it is peer reviewed) may be excluded from Wikipedia on notability grounds. User RJHall is citing a book (a single person's opinion) non-peer reviewed and presenting it in Wkipedia with equal weigh as the generally accepted biophysical concepts: he wrote that "they [mechanical replicators] could satisfy the requirements for life." It should sufice to read the definitions of life to disagree, as it would not even score 1 out of the 7 required phenomena. However, you could argue that artificial life attempts to mimic some aspects of life (replication only, in this example). Regarding prions, we all agree they are non-living, they are only proteins so I see no point on cherry-picking specific inanimate replicators and casually presenting them side-by-side with biological systems.
More to the point: userRJHall's "future replicating machines" entry has prompted me to consider the inclusion of the general concept of artificial life in this article. My request, as explained above, has to do with presenting it separate and on its own, and as it really is: "a field of study and an associated art form which examine systems related to life, its processes, and its evolution through simulations using computer models, robotics, and biochemistry."[12]
I suggest to create a sub-section that links to its main article. Something like this (Please feel free to edit or replace entirely):
Artificial life
Artificial life is a field of study and an associated art form which examine systems related to life, its processes, and its evolution through simulations using computer models, robotics, and biochemistry.[2] Artificial life imitates traditional biology by trying to recreate some aspects of biological phenomena. Artificial life studies the logic of living systems in artificial environments. The goal is to study the phenomena of living systems in order to come to an understanding of the complex information processing that defines such systems. While life is, by definition, alive, artificial life is generally referred to as data being confined to a digital environment and existence.
Synthetic biology is a new area of biological research and technology that combines science and engineering. The common goal is the design and construction of new biological functions and systems not found in nature. Synthetic biology includes the broad redefinition and expansion of biotechnology, with the ultimate goals of being able to design and build engineered biological systems that process information, manipulate chemicals, fabricate materials and structures, produce energy, provide food, and maintain and enhance human health and our environment.[3]
Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 22:38, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I *entirely* agree w/ your comments - Also - your suggested sub-section and related text/refs seem excellent - just as written - it would be ok w/ me to incorporate the suggested sub-section/text/refs into the main life article if you like - seems a worthy addition to the article imo - thanks for your efforts w/ this - and - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 00:49, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

I object sir, a living thing is an object having continuous chemical reactions goin on, for example an internal combustion engine has a life of the four stages termed the four stokes or the two strokes again and again we give it a new life on the same body. I aint talkin about a soul, cause life is there until ones heart beats his cells carry respiratory reactions, we call him dead as soon as these two and other reactions in him stop we call him dead. Like the internal combustion engine is given an electric start first and then in every four strokes a spark is given , studying a human we can start back all necesary reactions in him keeping his brain's nerval connections the same. sounds foolish or astonishing but it is true enough. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Khpatil (talkcontribs) 13:03, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Life in compounds

I wonder if the word life in compounds always refers to that of human being. For example, a life insurance is never for bacteria or plants. Maybe neither for dogs and alligators. It is for human life. Howver, life in life science is a bit confusing. It appear to be a discipline of science which treats life, but that field already has the name: biology. Also in this context, life seems referring to science of human life. Even more confusing, there is a term biological science. I wonder why they are so creative in this field. Anyway, I think it would be nice to have a general description for life compounds that explicitly tells human being is implied--Timeofglacier (talk) 06:29, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Not done: please be more specific about what needs to be changed. — BatteryIncluded (talk) 17:02, 24 August 2012 (UTC)