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Nahle, N. (2004). Definition of Life. Obtained on (month) (day), (year), from http://www.biocab.org/Definition-of-Life.html. Biology Cabinet. New Braunfels, TX.

REPRODUCTION IS NOT LIFE

We can read from many theses on the definition of life that life plainly is reproduction, which is absolutely erroneous.

Why do we say that this consideration is untrue?  We have evidence in He-La cells. He-La cells were taken from the inert body of Henrietta Lane and are being reproduced in many laboratories. These cells were separated from the inert body of a human being who died of cancer, but those cells are still maintained alive by means of proper cell culture. Although life has been maintained by He-La cells through reproduction, He-La cells also die. Thus, reproduction is a method for living beings to achieve a last target that consists in giving continuity to “another feature” called life. If life were reproduction, then crystals, prions and Oparin’s coacervates could also be considered as living beings.



THE BLOCKAGE OF ENTROPY IS NOT LIFE

Is life the resistance of living beings to increase their local entropy? Schrödinger wrote about this issue, but, although he approached to the real concept of life, he failed because if life were the resistance to increase their local entropy, then all the matter in this universe would be alive.

Life is an energy state; the obstruction in the increase of biosystems’ local entropy is an effect of this energy state, and reproduction is a means that continues this energy state.


A BIG DISORIENTATION

To consider that living beings are life is confusing. Living beings are thermodynamic systems; hence, if we think that living beings define life, we would finish accepting that each package of matter is alive.

Although we study life through the observation of living-beings’ macrostates, living beings are not life. What’s more, the functions performed by those living beings, like reproduction, photosynthesis, cell respiration, etc., are not life. As their designation clearly says, living beings experiment life, but they are not life.

It would be critical to say that the structure and the functions of machines are the electromagnetic force or to say that the structure and the functions of machines are the capability of transform one kind of energy into another. Consequently, it is the same thing when we define the concept of life.

We cannot say that the structure is life, or that the set of processes performed by the living structures is life. As in machines, the capability of living beings to block no-spontaneously the increase of entropy resides in an energy state.

The difference between machines and living beings is the position of their respective operators. While machines’ operator is peripheral to them, living beings’ operator is inside them. This allows a complete autonomy in living beings for capturing and directing energy from their environment, while the machine cannot take energy from the environment by itself.

However, life is not the autonomy, but an energy  state that communicate temporal autonomy to living beings for setting up intervals to the tendency of their internal energy to be dispersed or diffused.

Autonomy is not something that we can measure; instead, we can measure the specific density, positions and movements of energy, or microstates, of any system. In other words, we can measure the energy state of any system, including of living systems. Autonomy is a property of living beings, but it is not life, but a property conferred by the position and movement of the internal energy of biosystems.

The position and movements of energy in a biosystem is what generates the thermodynamic properties of living beings. Reproduction, heredity and evolution rely on molecular structures, not on life. Each kind of molecular array confers specific properties to the macrostate which experiments that kind of array. Thus, we observe molecules as DNA that can store information for the development of the living beings; nucleotides that can store energy to direct it to other processes; proteins that can be excited by photons for capture energy from the environment, etc.

But structures are not life and do not confer life. The evidence on this statement is tangible; but, for a given system to experiment life, it must posses a defined molecular arrangement. Also, for life to be continued, it needs specific structures that can reproduce themselves and can establish a range of steadiness of their specific structure.

I think there were many structures that were “touched” by the energy fluctuation experimented by our sun. Many of them has not the ability of self-reproduction, many others have not the capability of getting energy to store from the environment.

The key for life field was a complete structure at a suitable time. If there were not structures with the capabilities of reproduction, inheritance and evolution at the time when our sun threw waves of quanta for the construction of more complex molecular structures, that solar "convulsion" would be useless for particles to experiment life. But also we can think back to front, it would be useless to have complete structures with the capability of self reproduction, heredity and evolution without the solar bath of particles with specific momentums and positions in the Higgs fields (fields of energy density), vibrating at the frequency of life.

The structures were constructed thanks to UV radiation, heat and gamma radiation at the origin of our Sun; but, if the structures had formed one millisecond after the solar fluctuation that made them to be alive, then we were not here, spinning our brains on the puzzlement created by our unconcerned ancestors.

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DEFINITION OF LIFE

We do not have a direct definition of life, but from direct and indirect observations of the thermal state of the living structures, we can give the next definition of life: Life is a delay of the spontaneous diffusion or dispersion of the internal energy of the biomolecules towards more potential microstates.

Why is it so problematical to define life? This question has a concise answer: because life is not a thing that can be touched, smelled, tasted or seen by any creature in the cosmos, but a state that can only be described operationally.

We cannot say that the life is a breath, a breeze, or a structure x or y; we can neither say that life is a kind of energy; but, we surely can say that life is a state of the quantum energy. Of course, we know that life is represented by living beings; however we cannot say that the living beings are life because when died, those living beings continue among us like non living systems or inert matter. Thus life is a state of the energy in those specific arrangements of matter that we call “living beings” or “biosystems”.

Now, those living beings differ from inert beings in a set of several integrated characteristics, the most important characteristics of living beings that make them different from inert beings are: the molecular organization, the reproduction, the evolution and the no-spontaneous transfer of their internal energy.

When living beings force their internal energy to take some specific trajectories, they are delaying the dispersion of that energy toward more possible microstates. It is not an intelligent action made deliberately by the living beings, but a sum of processes that have to occur as a result of the fulfillment of the Physical and Chemical laws that govern the Universe.

An operational definition is a description of a variable, a term, or an object in terms of the specific process or the set of corroboration assessments used to determine its existence and quantity. The properties described by an operational definition should be publicly accessible so that one or more persons –other than the person that defined the concept- can measure it or test it independently at will, for themselves.

An operational definition is generally designed to model a conceptual definition, to be precise, by using words and concepts to describe a variable.

Phase Space is the space at which all the possible states of a system are represented. The phase space is produced by the general positions and their corresponding conjugated moments.

A conjugated moment derives from the difference between the kinetic energy and the potential energy in relation to an integral coordinate.

Delaying is not the same as revert; although revert could cause a delay, it is not the behavior of processes or states in nature. Many authors say that life involves a violation of the second law of thermodynamics, or that it follows trajectories against entropy, which is not factual. The referred law indicates that the energy always flows from a space or system with a high density of energy toward another space or system with a lower density of energy, which is precisely how life occurs. The Universe has a higher density of energy than that of the biosystems. If it were not thus, then life would not be possible.

The confusion was originated when some properties associated with the entropy were subordinated like alternatives to explain biotic features; for example, order, complexity, etc. However, to acquire order or to be more complex, the biosystem should transfer disorder toward the Universe and it has to take complexity from the Universe. Seen in this way, there is not any violation at the second principle of thermodynamics, every time that the biosystems are more disordered than the Universe and its disorder flows from the most disorderly system (the biosystems) toward the less disorderly system (the Universe). The major order of the Universe -as a whole- in contrast with any of its components, is specified by the theory of the energy density of the Higgs’ fields.

Given that life implies a state of the energy, it is precise that we know what energy is. Energy is the capability to do work, that is to say, a function of the quantifiable properties of a provided system.

Another term used in the conceptualization of life, essentially important for its formulation, is Quantum Energy. The term refers to the sum of the kinetic energy and the potential energy in a particle, which can be fermions or bosons.

The quantum energy (to be precise, the energy contained by a particle or a quantum) is proportional to the frequency of the electromagnetic radiation at which that particle of energy corresponds.

The formula to obtain the value of the Energy quantum is E = h f, where E is the quantum energy of a photon, h is the constant of Planck (6.626 X 10e-34 J.s) and f is the frequency of vibration of the radiant energy.

In the operational definition of life I used the concept of internal energy: internal energy of a system is the energy associated to the movement of the molecules in a thermodynamic system, that is to say, the energy subordinated to the temperature of such system. In an energy transfer, the internal energy of a biosystem is the energy that has already been transferred through the real or imaginary limits of that system (toward the inside of that system).  For example, a multicellular biont has an external protector cover that isolates it partially from the environment.  Each cell of a multicellular biont has a membrane or a wall that constitutes its real limits. There are organelles, as mitochondria, chloroplasts, etc. into each cell that have their own membranes as real limits, etc.

In the definition of internal energy I avoided to mention the words “disorderly”, “random” and “chaos” in relation to the molecular movement because the movements at a mesoscopic level are determined by microscopic fundamental laws that can be formally described by the mathematical notions of natural phenomena; therefore, the molecular movements are not chaotic, disordered or accidental.  A small variation in the initial conditions can produce a change in the displacement of the particles, whether that we perceive or not that microscopic oscillation or the law that governs it.

What we call quantum state is the position, movement and energy density that follow a wave trajectory in discrete magnitudes or quanta.  In this case, we refer to particles -like the fermions and the bosons- that establish the function of distribution of the energy in the intervals of delay in the spontaneous transfer of that energy.

The fermions are particles that have an intrinsic angular momentum that, calculated in units of Spin, is equal to an odd number from a fraction (1/2 or 0.5, 3/2 or 1.5, etc.) and that obey at the Exclusion Principle of Pauli. The fermions cannot coexist in the same position. Fermions are particles that comprise matter; for example, electrons, quarks, leptons, protons, neutrons, etc.

On the other hand, the bosons are particles whose angular momentum is always a whole number (0, 1, 2, 3, etc...), then, they do not obey the Exclusion Principle of Pauli and can coexist in the same position. For example, photons, gluons, particles w- and w+, gravitons, etc.

Angular Moment or Spin refers to the presence of angular momentum in an elementary quantized particle and not to a rotational movement. The magnitude of the spin of a quantized particle is obtained by the relation,

L = ħ √s (s + 1)

Where ħ is the Reduced Planck’s Constant [ħ = h/2π = 1.054572 x 10-27 g-cm2/s] and s is an integral or a no negative half-integral.
h = 6.6260693 x 10-34 J.s
π = 3.1415926535897932384626433832795

Energy Density is the quantity of energy stored in a given system, or in a spatial region expressed per mass or volume units. For example, liquid Hydrogen has an energy density of 120 MJoules per kilogram. The glucose has 17 MJoules per kilogram, etc.

A spontaneous process is that in which the energy always is dispersed toward more potential microstates. By this, when I talk about life, I am referring to no-spontaneous processes. For a spontaneous process to occur, it is not required the aggregation of energy of the environment, but of the transfer of energy toward the environment (exergonic process).  In contrast, the life processes are endergonic, that is to say, processes that requires of the input of energy from the environment, or no-spontaneous processes.

In the definition of life I also introduced the concept of interval.  An interval is a subset of states situated amid an initial state and a final state.

Finally, the quantum state of the energy in a biotic system is established by the flow of fermions and bosons that possess a quasi-stable density of energy during the transfer and storage of the energy through limited periods of time. For example, in the process of Transquantum Thermal Biotransfer of photosynthesis we study the positions, density and movements of the internal energy of a boson (photon) and of the fermions (electrons and protons) implied in the successive biotransfer of the energy freed by that boson. In the Transquantum Thermal Biotransfer of fermentation we study the density and the movements of the internal energy of the fermions, etc.

When we examine particles of matter, or with mass, we can only study a kind of particle, a given position or a given movement at once. Similarly, on studying the functions at some stage in the transfer and storage of the energy we can only study a function at a definite time. Once we have completed the study of each particle and each function, we integrate immediately the whole set to formulate the complete process.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Curtis, Helen. Biology. Worth Publishers, Inc. 1983, New York, New York.

Glaser, Roland. 2005. Biophysics. Springer-Verlag Heidelberg, Germany.

Ham, Arthur W. Histology. J. B. 1974. Lippincott Company. New York, NY.

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Lang, F., Gulbins, E., Szabo, I., Lepple-Wienhues, A., Huber, S. M., Duranton, C., Lang, K. S., Lang, P. A., Wieder, T. Cell volume and the regulation of apoptotic cell death. J Mol Recognit. 2004 Sep-Oct;17(5):473-80. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Lodish, H., Berk, Arnold, et al; Molecular Cell Biology; pág. 617. W. H. Freeman and Company; 1999, New York, New York.

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Moreno, Alvaro. Closure, Identity, and the Emergence of Formal Causation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 901; pps. 112-121. New York, NY. 2000.

Nakano, Toru, Kodama, Hiroaki, Honjo, Tasuku. In Vitro Development of Primitive and Definitive Erythrocytes from Different Precursors. Science, Vol 272, Issue 5262, 722-724 , 3 May 1996.

Potter, Merle C. and Somerton, Craig W. Thermodynamics for Engineers. Mc Graw-Hill. 1993

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Wilson, Jerry D. College Physics-2nd Edition; Prentice Hall Inc. 1994.

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LIFE IS NOT REPRODUCTIONORDER IS NOT LIFETHE BIG DISORIENTATION

DEFINITION OF LIFEREDUCED PLANCK'S CONSTANTREFERENCESBIOTIC FIELD

By Nasif Nahle, Biologist.
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PUBLISHED ON: September 1st, 2004 (my birthday). LAST MODIFIED: 10/09/06