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What Is Life

PostPosted: Thu 18 Oct 2012 8:29 pm
by John
I think that all life, even in its earliest possible form is a state of highly developed organisation. All materials, inorganic and biological, are highly organised atomic systems and sub-systems. I think this is unarguable and an accepted fact. I know of no state of being that does not conform to this description and I therefore believe that a state of organisation is a first principle of all matter, even indeed of the least complicated parts of matter. Extending this idea means that any sustainable form of life, whether simple cell, complex single sex or the prevalent forms of highly complex life on Earth that are sustained by male and female mating. Taking life on Earth as our starting point, it seems that the standard required to develop a high intelligence is in every known case heterosexual. For convenience, I include all varieties of biological life including insects - but not plant life - as being animal life. It appears necessary that to develop a useful level of intelligence, any animal simply must have individual physical mobility and - near certainly - be of a heterosexual nature. What the factors are that control this possibility is open to speculation, no certain proof being available. I have long held to the view that whilst it may be possible for any creature - even perhaps a vegetable form, to develop the genetic structure necessary to harbour intelligence, like so many other ‘possibilities’ unless the creature can physically exploit such an advantage the advantage will either quickly vanish, or just possibly, remain dormant. It also seems that the acquisition of any genetic advance must rest firmly on pre-existing capacities. No such pre-capacity equals no such acquisition! It is now quite plain than the only physical body shape that is capable of further, maybe even limitless intellectual improvement, must be in the human shape. But more is required! For example: because of the lack of an already existing complex social and language, no Ape can ever begin to model, let alone achieve our intellectual capacity. No apparent progress there despite the passage of even millions of years and in recent times the devoted efforts of animal trainers. The door to any such improvement demands first and foremost a highly developed language and with it a parallel social environment - plus one other crucial factor - need. No need - no progress! This is demonstrated by what is, by our standards, the crudely backward state of some isolated tribes, who despite their awareness of our progress, see no driving need to change thousands of years of successful survival and consequently make no progress. Only the highest intellect will bother with anything it doesn't presently need.

What Is Life?

PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov 2012 10:21 pm
by John
I have never understood the awestruck attitude pedalled by pretty well every scientific authority that life and all other seemingly unlikely happenings have occurred only but once on this Earth and are miracles of singularity - they marvel at their survival. But surely their very coming into existence stands in clear opposition to that idea! All insist - and here I wholeheartedly agree - that evolution, whether organic or biological, is the work of completely blind and unaware natural forces working in as yet unknown circumstances. I have posted a natural, automatic solution to the evolution problem (under that topic). This being so, whatever it is that causes things to happen can have no knowledge of its own or any other existence. It cannot ever know that it has already done something once or even multi-millions of times, so where does the idea of a singular event spring from. Any ‘event’ is the result of given circumstances and - in those circumstances - will almost certainly be repeated ad infinitum until the circumstances changes. It would seem more probable than not, that those circumstances that favour such issue would also favour its survival. We have no definitive understanding of those circumstances or even any one set of them! It is time for most scientists and serious thinkers to hang out their minds and bathe them in a dose of reality, not succumbing to ideas that do not go beyond the emotional responses of romantic star gazers. Whilst I have a possible solution to this conundrum, nobody knows the answers to these questions. Some may believe they are on the right track and perhaps they are, but no-one actually knows. And that contradiction is about the only thing we really know about life! To many, certainly to me, it seems most likely (i.e. logical) that the basic mechanism of life occupies every cell in the body. This poses questions about when skin flakes off or parts come off in amputations or injuries. When are they dead? It seems apparent that when life becomes complicated (advanced) there must form first - or at least concurrently - a central, higher authority: some kind of central governing higher organisation that directs and controls (or even simply allows) suitable ancillary developments that further the development of what is now a ‘being’ rather than just an autonomous living cell. In such a ‘being’, continuing life is dependent upon the ‘governing’ sector. The death of that sector spells the inevitable death of the other sectors. We know that when what is medically certified as death has taken place, the whole body is not lifeless. The governing centre of the life force, presumably some part of the brain, may be so damaged, or effectively destroyed - for example by a bullet - that vigorous conscious life ceases abruptly. Obviously the shock (or disassociation) involved is relayed to other parts of the body, possibly via the stoppage of circulation and the activity (or otherwise) of nerve impulses. This entails a disruption of (at the least) of the control centre (the highest level of organisation), creating the condition we know of as ‘death’. This terminal ‘condition’ seems at other times to be a response to so simple an event as the natural failure of an essential contact, analogical to the flick of a switch and often diagnosed as a ‘heart attack’. However, this ‘attack’ does not cause the instantaneous death of life in the heart, nor in most of the body cells. We know this because surgeons can remove parts from a recently deceased person and implant them in another living person. These organs are still themselves alive! If you have any doubt consider the most reasonable mantra of religious belief - that (presently) only God can raise the dead! Certainly for doctors to ‘revive’ a transplanted heart it must be still alive and healthy. Pumping blood or whatever into the system will gain no useful response if the organ is dead. So, evidently, the organ is still alive, just not fully functional by reason of its separation from a living support system (mainly fresh blood) and of course, is most definitely in the earliest stage of dying. This raises the problems of rejection. Is this symptomatic of the organ donors ‘original life force’ (organisation) fighting with an invading life force? Sure as blazes we know only too well that bitter, sometimes fatal, battles are fought on this still not understood battlefield! This particular invader is the blood of the would be recipient. This blood is different, however slightly, and therefore foreign to the transplanted organ. I think it is a conflict fed by a prime requirement that only one set of higher organisational instructions may prevail. It seems very likely. The ‘host’ life force (in every individual being) is unique and intrinsic to every cell. The same is true of the donated organ. It is an absolute necessity for the host system to become a the fully integrated unity. Therefore it is imperative that the ‘host’ life force shall take complete command before long term integration can be possible. What is obvious is that some ‘force’ is at work actively preventing, for as long as it can, the host system from ‘taking over’ and gradually replacing ‘original’ organ cell structure with host favourable ones. This is highlighted by the continuous attempts by the medics to control the nature of the blood feeding the organ. Many a slip … I ask: If there is no such controlling mechanism at work, how can a relatively small donor organ’s own ‘host’ compete against an otherwise complete, fully functioning (medically assisted!) new host system. On the face of it, it seems that the fight must emanate from the only viable source, the cell structure (and all it entails) of the donor organ’s ‘life force’. In effect, what I am saying is that each blood cell is certificated to work with the host system. Then, at the ‘border’, it makes contact with a ‘new’ donor organ. Not the ‘right’ system? Oh dear, oh dear! Problems at Passport Control! It seems to me that the logic behind an immediate physical collapse of only some element or elements, causing what we call death, alone proves that there is some differentiation going on. In view of this it seems that when the conscious life of a person is ended, the body itself then dies more slowly, its death being expressed, quite finally, in the process of Rigor Mortis. Life is movement. Perhaps the state of ‘no life’ is simply rigidity. Perhaps only the work of bacteria reverses this process. Maybe, without that work, Rigor Mortis would not go away! I think R.M., as a chemical reaction, is actually generated by disorganisation of cell structure caused by the absence of the control mechanism, i.e. life. It would be interesting, if it were somehow possible, to kill completely all organisms in a recently dead body, and then, in a clinically sterile environment, see what process, if any, follows over a period of time. I have little medical knowledge, but I have neither seen nor heard these questions posed or answered, even in science fiction. How indeed did life form in the first place? We certainly cannot yet produce it artificially. We must rely on Mother Nature's mysterious powers for the foreseeable future! In this context I use the word evolution and its derivatives to suggest change, not just biological evolution. Now I come to a possible answer to my question: What is life? I have already offered my thoughts on the multiplicity of questions surrounding the enigma that is life. I will pursue the idea that life is a state of highly developed organisation. All materials, inorganic and biological, are examples of highly organised atomic systems and sub-systems. This, I think, is unarguable and is accepted fact. I know of no state of being that does not conform to this description and therefore claim that a state of organisation is a First Principle of all matter, even indeed of the least complicated parts of matter.
Anaxagoras showed that nothingness cannot exist and that therefore as matter does exist it is eternal. I take strength from this to claim that organisation is already known to exist in matter (materials) and no matter is known that is not organised. So, if nothing that is not already organised exist, then complex life must itself be an expression of higher organisation. To make a very simple illustration of this idea, I will use in analogy a mathematical expression: the number one: (1) and say it is quite correct to claim that (1) is a ‘Whole Number’. In this analogy, any fraction must be part of a complete Whole Number. It will represent only a particular ‘variation’ in the form of any Whole Number. Fractions cannot exist except as integral parts of a Whole Number, and they represent species variations. Accordingly, fractions can represent almost any number of ‘in species’ variations , but not a new species. The number 2 and any ‘additions’ would represent actual species change and so on. By themselves, fractions cannot make Whole Numbers nor multiples of a Whole Number, in the same way that any multiple of body parts cannot make a living being. The Whole Number 1 is the initial species and additional fractions represent states of increasing complexity in that species. They are variations within species. No doubt you can see where I am going. It is theoretically possible by making endless tiny additions to the largest fraction to get closer and closer to 1 without ever reaching the full number. These are qualitative changes: 1 itself is something quite special, it has the ability to evolve. In this analogy, every advance (fraction) is a qualitative difference within the species. Each change is a qualitative step change, effectively instantaneous. The ‘parts’ cease to behave quite as before. Having been re-organised into a slightly higher state of 1 (our Whole Number) they have in that process become the new form, say 1 ⅓ . There is no limit to the additions to 1 in theory. If something achieves nothing by its formation it will simply disappear, having no viable place. However, if the Cosmos, or even a local area of it, experiences changes, the abandoned function may yet find a place (subject of course, to its reappearance). Looked at in this analogical way, life in its earliest form, can be considered as an equation. If any part of this particular model is not present, or does not completely fit with the other parts, then the equation will fail, or produce some quite other result. The conditions I have suggested may prove to be unnecessarily demanding, but I do not think so. Were the initial conditions for life - in whatever form - more flexible, I think we might already have stumbled upon them. Once the basis is there, endless additional features can be successfully attached and all the different life forms will eventually emerge in response to the possibilities of their surroundings. In this analogy, the initial fractions by themselves are inorganic materials. Some factor, or some event when added to the others, constitutes the Whole Number 1. Bingo! Instantly life has achieved its critical level of organisation - replication becomes the order of the day. Hello biology! Obviously, to survive, the environmental circumstances must be correct, but may vary widely in supporting different life forms. Therefore, it seems to me that life may form under many different environments, be of quite different kinds and be an endlessly repeating phenomenon. The vast majority of these ‘evolutions’ will doubtless fail for an endless list of reasons. But... not all of them! One further extension of the analogy. (1) can never become (2), a new Whole Number or species, without some external influence that itself so arranges the numbers that change is generated. In arithmetic the influence is man. Man created arithmetic an is free to insert symbols such as; + x = -. In evolution I believe that no species change, or the introduction of an essentially new life form, can evolve from an existing species gene bank. I follow the view that a new gene, or a radical gene bank reorganisation beyond its unaided capacity, is created by some outside event, probably catastrophic in nature will so affect the gene bank that a new species is formed in a subsequent mating process. The new species, like the number (2) above, must have usable links with its parent or it would simply die of hunger. Similarly, with each and every new species, the parent must nurture the offspring to independence no matter how different it may be.