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when is a strawberry dead?


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If you've ever listened to The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC radio 4 you know of this infamous debate.

 

So when IS a strawberry dead? What do we classify as death, is it when it is picked? or when is ceases to photosynthesize?

 

This is a difficult question to answer, my personal thought is the strawberry is dead when it stops producing and runs out of the sugars it needs to survive

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It’s a little unclear do you mean the fruit or the plant? Although, if the plant has fruited, my answer would apply in either case; it could only be considered dead if the potential of the seeds cease to be viable.

 

 

 

Edit- Cross posted

Edited by dimreepr
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I would argue the strawberry in itself isn't alive, and never was. The plant is, but the strawberry is just a peripheral.

But the Strawberry's cells divide and require constant energy to continue devideing, is that not the very most basic definition of life?

Edited by benevolenthellion
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But the Strawberry's cells divide and require constant energy to continue devideing, is that not the very most basic definition of life?

It might very well be. However, another part of the definition of life is to be able to sustain biological functions on your own. This is the reason most definitions say a virus is no alive, since it's dependant on a host to function. Once, again, if you remove the strawberry from its host body (the plant), it dies. Thus, it fails that aspect of being alive.

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It might very well be. However, another part of the definition of life is to be able to sustain biological functions on your own. This is the reason most definitions say a virus is no alive, since it's dependant on a host to function. Once, again, if you remove the strawberry from its host body (the plant), it dies. Thus, it fails that aspect of being alive.

As soon as you remove it? If you decapitate someone Does the head not live for a short while after?

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As soon as you remove it? If you decapitate someone Does the head not live for a short while after?

Even if it did, I don't think it would matter. It can't sustain itself without a host. So while the head, in this case, is a part of a living thing, and "starts to die" if removed, I'd still argue that it's wrong to say it's alive, in itself. Same with the strawberry. While it's a part of a living thing, it's not alive in itself. Thus it won't die when picked.

 

However, due to the general grey area that is the definition of life, I'm sure one can argue that it's alive due to there being live cells in it. So then, is the strawberry alive simply because there are live cells in it? Does it then die when all cell activity has ceased? I personally don't agree with that line of reasoning, but I can see how one could argue for it.

 

As for the head being alive after being decapitated, it's a debated subject.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/10-brain-myths6.htm

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Even if it did, I don't think it would matter. It can't sustain itself without a host. So while the head, in this case, is a part of a living thing, and "starts to die" if removed, I'd still argue that it's wrong to say it's alive, in itself. Same with the strawberry. While it's a part of a living thing, it's not alive in itself. Thus it won't die when picked.

However, due to the general grey area that is the definition of life, I'm sure one can argue that it's alive due to there being live cells in it. So then, is the strawberry alive simply because there are live cells in it? Does it then die when all cell activity has ceased? I personally don't agree with that line of reasoning, but I can see how one could argue for it.

As for the head being alive after being decapitated, it's a debated subject.http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/10-brain-myths6.htm

This is why its such a fun topic to debate, when can one truly classify death and on what scale?

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If you plant a reasonably fresh strawberry, it will grow new plants.

It can't be dead if it does that.

If you amputate a testicle, and extract sperm from it within half a day or so, which is then used to impregnate a woman, was the testicle ever alive?

 

I have no problem with the view of it having been part of a living organism. But I can't bring myself to seeing either the testicle or the strawberry as something with a life of its own.

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You can take a single cell from a sheep and clone the whole sheep from it.

Of course that cell is alive.

So is a sperm cell.

So are all the cells in a testicle.

 

There's an important difference.

A strawberry seed is very good at producing another plant. the other options mentioned need a lot of help from outside.

But the property common to all three is that they are alive.

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It seems you're comparing single cells to multi-cellular structures. If you're comparing the strawberry to anything, surely it would have to be the testicle? Neither can stay alive on its own, both contain something which is used for reproduction (sperm/seeds).

 

Of course that cell is alive.

...

So are all the cells in a testicle.

All of them? Again, for how long? Without being well versed in the process of cell death, I would guess the cells in the testicles die off a long time before the sperms do, in which case the sperm can still be used for reproduction even though the container they came from is dead.

 

Also, I think we need to make a distinction between the bigger and the smaller in this case. Sure, you can claim something "big" (such as the strawberry or the chopped off testicle) is alive due to it having live cells still. But then, a decomposing corpse is also alive, since it has bacteria and stuff like that in it.

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Just to clarify, are you talking about the fruit or the plant? Because I can't see how the fruit can, for example, maintain temperature without the plant.

The fruit, though don't take the whole strawberry thing too seriously, it's simply a place holder for the debate to when should you classify something as truly dead

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Just to clarify, are you talking about the fruit or the plant? Because I can't see how the fruit can, for example, maintain temperature without the plant.

I don't see how the whole plant can maintain its temperature and nor can a fish.

How fortunate that they don't need to do so in order to be classed as alive.

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You can take a single cell from a sheep and clone the whole sheep from it.

Of course that cell is alive.

So is a sperm cell.

So are all the cells in a testicle.

 

There's an important difference.

A strawberry seed is very good at producing another plant. the other options mentioned need a lot of help from outside.

But the property common to all three is that they are alive.

Good point John, one that I made, if I recall correctly and one that seems to have been overlooked

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It seems you're comparing single cells to multi-cellular structures. If you're comparing the strawberry to anything, surely it would have to be the testicle? Neither can stay alive on its own, both contain something which is used for reproduction (sperm/seeds).

 

All of them? Again, for how long? Without being well versed in the process of cell death, I would guess the cells in the testicles die off a long time before the sperms do, in which case the sperm can still be used for reproduction even though the container they came from is dead.

 

Also, I think we need to make a distinction between the bigger and the smaller in this case. Sure, you can claim something "big" (such as the strawberry or the chopped off testicle) is alive due to it having live cells still. But then, a decomposing corpse is also alive, since it has bacteria and stuff like that in it.

 

 

There is a very basic difference between a strawberry and a testicle... the strawberry contains viable seeds, the sperm in a testicle needs a female egg to be viable...

 

Oops, I didn't read your post John ( post #11, sorry) but some plants do indeed maintain their temperature as do some fish...

Edited by Moontanman
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It’s a little unclear do you mean the fruit or the plant? Although, if the plant has fruited, my answer would apply in either case; it could only be considered dead if the potential of the seeds cease to be viable.

 

 

 

Edit- Cross posted

 

Although, if the plant has fruited, my answer would apply in either case; it could only be considered dead if the potential of the seeds cease to be viable.

 

 

 

 

 

I'm in general agreement.

 

The strawberry will die before its seeds because that is its nature.

 

But the seeds continue to be alive until they are no longer viable.

 

In view of the fact that a live strawberry can exist with no viable seeds then the strawberry dies in its entirety only when the seeds could no longer propogate even had they been viable. I'm simply arguing that nonviable seeds are alive until they undergo the changes that would kill a viable one. A eunich or a mule are just as alive a person or a horse.

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There is a very basic difference between a strawberry and a testicle... the strawberry contains viable seeds, the sperm in a testicle needs a female egg to be viable...

 

Oops, I didn't read your post John ( post #11, sorry) but some plants do indeed maintain their temperature as do some fish...

 

Are the seed not a part of the original strawberry though?

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I would argue that life and death is a rough but useful categorization that for complex organism is not as binary as it appears. Obviously once a complex organism has fatal failures of vital organs the cells within the body will remain alive for quite some time, until their microenvironment changes to a point where they are unable to remain viable anymore. (The general rule for cells tends to be the lack of a membrane potential as it implies the inability to generate energy and maintain cellular integrity, but I believe there was an exception to that but details elude me right now).

 

And of course there is the issue of identity, which is also convenient, but not necessarily reflected in biology. Say for instance a bacterium differentiates into a dormant spore during which much of its former cell body dies. Is it dead or alive? Is it the same cell?

Obviously this is more a philosophical question and is well placed in this section, but because of that it won't have a definite answer.

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