Life

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Terrestrial Life, Microorganism, Plant (Flower, Tree), Animal

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life : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction — Webster

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Life is a characteristic distinguishing physical entities having biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential artificial life as “living”. Biology is the primary science concerned with the study of life, although many other sciences are involved.

The definition of life is controversial. The current definition is that organisms maintain homeostasis, are composed of cells, undergo metabolism, can grow, adapt to their environment, respond to stimuli, and reproduce. However, many other biological definitions have been proposed, and there are some borderline cases of life, such as viruses. Throughout history, there have been many attempts to define what is meant by “life” and many theories on the properties and emergence of living things, such as materialism, the belief that everything is made out of matter and that life is merely a complex form of it; hylomorphism, the belief that all things are a combination of matter and form, and the form of a living thing is its soul; spontaneous generation, the belief that life repeatedly emerges from non-life; and vitalism, a now largely discredited hypothesis that living organisms possess a “life force” or “vital spark”. Modern definitions are more complex, with input from a diversity of scientific disciplines. Biophysicists have proposed many definitions based on chemical systems; there are also some living systems theories, such as the Gaia hypothesis, the idea that the Earth itself is alive. Another theory is that life is the property of ecological systems, and yet another is elaborated in complex systems biology, a branch or subfield of mathematical biology. Abiogenesis describes the natural process of life arising from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. Properties common to all organisms include the need for certain core chemical elements to sustain biochemical functions. — Wikipedia

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EurekAlert! - Biology The premier online source for science news since 1996. A service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  • Genetic study uncovers fungal sex secrets, which...
    on December 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

    (Center for Genomic Regulation) A new genetic analysis of fungal yeast infections (candidiasis) from around the world has revealed surprising secrets about how these microbes reproduce and cause disease, according to a new study published in Current Biology from researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain. […]

  • Extending food safety training to other countries...
    on December 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

    (Penn State) Food safety practices that Americans take for granted -- washing hands with soap, refrigeration, and not cutting raw meat and vegetables on the same surface without disinfection -- are not widely practiced in other places around the world, and researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences want to change that. […]

  • Coarse particulate matter may increase asthma risk
    on December 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

    (American Thoracic Society) Children exposed to coarse particulate matter may be more likely to develop asthma and to be treated in an ER or be hospitalized for the condition, according to new research published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. […]

  • UTA civil engineer patents integrated sensor and...
    on December 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

    (University of Texas at Arlington) Anand Puppala, associate dean for research in the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington and a civil engineering professor, recently was awarded a patent for developing a sensor system with an algorithm that will expedite field assessment of stabilization of high sulfate soils near bridges and roads. […]

  • Distinct human mutations can alter the effect of...
    on December 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

    (University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) About one third of all medicine binds to the same type of receptor in the human body. An estimated 3 percent of the population have receptors of this type that are so genetically different that they are predisposed to altered, ineffective or adverse responses to medicine, a new study from the University of Copenhagen and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge shows. […]