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What is Life?
What is life? If this strikes you as an odd question, consider it for a
moment. (It's almost as hard as describing the origin
of life). Of course we all have an intuitive sense of what life is, but
how would you actually define it? Given the incredible diversity of
living things, from the mold on your old tuna sandwich to monkeys in the
rainforest, how could one word encompass all that "life" represents?
Even biologists have a difficult time defining the very concept
they study. However, given our knowledge of the life forms present on
Earth, it is recognized that all living
things do share a set of characteristics in common:
1) Living things take in and use energy
2) Living things eliminate waste products
3) Living things grow and develop
4) Living things respond to their environment
5) Living things reproduce
6) Living things show variation based on heredity
7) Over time, living things evolve (change slowly) in response to their
Therefore, in order for something to be considered to be "alive" or to
"have life" as we know it, it must possess these characteristics.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Spring 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
, focuses on the ocean, including articles on polar research, coral reefs, ocean acidification, and climate. Includes a gorgeous full color poster!
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