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What is the "physics" view on life?


36grit
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what is the "physics" view on life? is it an energy in and of itself? Just some electromagnetic frequency being amplified by some molecules that twist up into daisy chains of animated diversity? or something else.

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Life isn't an entity or quantity in physics (or science in general).

It's merely a label that is applied to certain types of systems.

The most formal/nicest definition I've seen is:

 

Life is a self-sustaining, reproducing, local entropy minimum.

 

This is possibly a slightly broad definition

Edited by Schrödinger's hat
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I tink the physics view is that life is something that biologists define. You can analyze processes with the laws of physics and whether the item is alive doesn't change any of that; our body is a heat engine driven by combustion, we can do mechanical work, etc. Similar analysis can be applied to any other organism. Being alive is not a special state from a physics standpoint.

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I tink the physics view is that life is something that biologists define. You can analyze processes with the laws of physics and whether the item is alive doesn't change any of that; our body is a heat engine driven by combustion, we can do mechanical work, etc. Similar analysis can be applied to any other organism. Being alive is not a special state from a physics standpoint.

 

Not all cases.

 

Schrodinger had some very interesting thoughts. In fact, I believe his book was named ''what is life?''

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Is_Life%3F

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Not all cases.

 

Schrodinger had some very interesting thoughts. In fact, I believe his book was named ''what is life?''

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Is_Life%3F

 

Consistent with what I said, I think. He appears to have applied physics to various processes in biology, but did not actually define life. AFAIK biologists can't even come up with a complete definition.

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Consistent with what I said, I think. He appears to have applied physics to various processes in biology, but did not actually define life. AFAIK biologists can't even come up with a complete definition.

 

reading your post, would assume the question of life is not a physics question.

 

Now, taking into regards what he predicted, since DNA the helix stucture is completely inherent in all life, I think you have mistaken your facts. Physics has a lot to say about this subject! And has done!

 

Swansont downgraded my post! LOL

 

Swan, you are wrong, period!

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reading your post, would assume the question of life is not a physics question.

 

Now, taking into regards what he predicted, since DNA the helix stucture is completely inherent in all life, I think you have mistaken your facts. Physics has a lot to say about this subject! And has done!

 

Swansont downgraded my post! LOL

 

Swan, you are wrong, period!

 

Physics treatment of biology:

 

Consider a spherical DNA molecule in a vacuum with zero potential energy...assume the DNA molecule has only one electron... :P

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Ok, if you didn't someone did lol

 

Your question is inherently irrelevant. After all, it was the legendary Schrodinger who defined the first helix structure, or something similar.

 

the helix structure is a matter of all biological life.

 

Wrong.

 

Try Watson and Crick.

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technically in my opinion life is the concept that any sentient being gives it. In reality it cannot be trully described even by one type of language, be it mathmatical, biological, physical, or other but by the individual based on its own experances your cat or dog has a different take on life than you do just like one person to the next a gang member might think life is short and meanigless as a buddist thinks every life means everthing and you have more than one to attend to this is a little off topic but goes with gist of the argument as a whole

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I'll rephrase my question to clarify my point: is there a physics test(s) that can determine if something is alive?

 

Based on my very humble knowledge, I am not aware of any test(s) that would always classify something as life or not that would 100% agree with our "intuition". Biologists I have asked tend not to worry too much about this: for the working practices of the typical biologist it is not a problematic question. This question may seem important for say the study of viruses, but again biologists I have spoken to don't worry if viruses are life of not. You know what viruses do and can study them independently of this question.

 

There seems to be no universally agreed upon definition of life. Furthermore, I expect any definition to evolve as we discover more about extremophiles and maybe even discover "life" on Mars or under the surface ice of Europa.

 

From a physicist's or mathematician's point of view biology is studying typically very complex and non-linear systems. At what point such complex systems become alive or can be defined as being life is open. I doubt you will get a clear answer form anyone on that.

 

This more abstract view open up a very interesting question: Will machines ever become "complex enough" to be considered as being alive?

 

Will we then at some point have laws assigning rights to machines? For instance, would your computer have to be disposed of in a humane way, something akin to the existing laws on animal slaughter? Will Asimo's descendants have workers rights? Sci-Fi for now, or maybe questions we need to address before we are forces to?

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?

 

 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

 

 

In the first novel and radio series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrases_from_The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

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