'From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|“||Life is love, and is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit certain biological processes such as chemical reactions or other events that result in a transformation. Living organisms are capable of growth and reproduction, some can communicate and many can adapt to their environment through changes originating internally.||”|
A physical characteristic of life is that it feeds on negative entropy. In more detail, according to physicists such as John Bernal, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner, and John Avery, life is a member of the class of phenomena which are open or continuous systems able to decrease their internal entropy at the expense of substances or free energy taken in from the environment and subsequently rejected in a degraded form (see: entropy and life).
An entity with the above properties is considered to be a living organism, hence, a 'life form'. However, not every definition of life considers all of these properties to be essential. For example, the capacity for evolution is sometimes taken as the only essential property of life; this definition notably includes viruses, which do not qualify under narrower definitions as they are cellular and do not metabolize.
A diverse array of living organisms can be found in the biosphere on Earth. Properties common to these organisms—plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea and bacteria—are a carbon- and water-based cellular form with complex organization and heritable genetic information. They undergo metabolism, possess a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce and, through natural selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations. So far, there is no proof of extraterrestrial life. The evidence of extraterrestrial life includes the fact of life on Earth, evidence associated with theories of how that life developed, and evidence that the universe developed consistently with known physical laws. Evidence that life exists only on Earth is only the lack of proof of any life elsewhere.
|“||There is no universal definition of life. To define life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge for scientists, as the definition must be sufficiently broad that would encompass all life with which we are familiar. It should be sufficiently general that, with it, scientists would not miss life that may be fundamentally different from earthly life. In addition, defining life requires measurable terms, and when derived from analysis of known organisms, life is usually defined at the cellular level.||”|
The consensus is that life is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit all or most of the following phenomena:
- Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.
- Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.
- Metabolism: Consumption of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.
- Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of synthesis than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter. The particular species begins to multiply and expand as the evolution continues to flourish.
- Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism's heredity as well as the composition of metabolized substances, and external factors present.
- Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of higher animals. A response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism) and chemotaxis.
- Reproduction: The ability to produce new organisms. Reproduction can be the division of one cell to form two new cells. Usually the term is applied to the production of a new individual (either asexually, from a single parent organism, or sexually, from at least two differing parent organisms), although strictly speaking it also describes the production of new cells in the process of growth.
So life can be defined as: "The set of characteristic which differentiat living beings from non-Living."