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How does a lifeform recieve life?

  1. Jan 11, 2005 #1
    When something is born, how is it "turned on"? Is it simply the connection of the two gametes during fertilization which is programmed to function NOW!, consume resources! once they are connected? If so, then it should be possible to create life given the necessary coding, or more simply, the initiation code. Would it then follow that all forms of life, assuming they evolved, have the EXACT same initiation code? Since they're all relatives of each other, they must have all been given the life force by the same means. So even the simplest lifeform would have the same exact initiation code enscripted in their genes. If it's in the simplest genetic lifeform, why can't we deduce from this how to create life? In the VERY VERY VERY beginning, when life was FIRST created, how did the initiation code know how to give life to an organism? Purely probability I figure, but how does something recieve the intelligence (as basic as it may seem) from a non-intelligent source? Like, evolution is a really neat theory and all, but I never really had a firm grasp of how the very first life was created...

    A little aside, since we have this whole evolution theory used to explain the origins of life...Isn't it inevitable that we will have to explain all the universe and the evolution of the atom itself? Duh! How is THIS possible, I can understand that life can evolve from nothing, that's alright...But for quarks and strings or whatever to assume the perfect network that they are, seemingly a million times more complex...It seems a TINY bit more complicated then the evolution of life. But I could be wrong (and so could you!).

    I like to believe in the existence of a soul, eg. an energy that is with any form of life throughout its existence. I also like to believe that this energy is just like any other form of energy but "attaches" itself to a lifeform when it is born. When it dies, the energy is sent off and does it again. I think I'm not going to get too deep into that at all, I'll save it for another forum, but I just want to know how the force of life itself is triggered.

    Thank you all!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2005 #2
    I do not think a lifeform receives life. Life is not something that exists independently and that can be received. The word life is used for the living things in our world, the things we call alive are generally complex conglomerations of chemical elements that interact in complicated ways. There is a clear(?) difference between things that are alive and things that are not, but the difference is not that they possess some occult quality called "life". It is because they are different that we call them alive.
     
  4. Jan 12, 2005 #3

    Monique

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    There are many cells fertilized each second in the world, that does not mean that life is created many times during that second. Life is not turned on, life is passed down: life only needed to be created once. Think about it, a cell divides and becomes two cells. The first cell does not make a new cell, it simply grows and splits: it's an endless branching tree and somewhere down below is that little seed from which life originated.

    I've been interested in cellular programming and resetting and did a little research on differentiation, which is a very interesting topic. Basically for life to be reinitiated, you need to reset the programming of a cell to a native state. This can be done through transcription repression by increased histone deacetylation. Interestingly, you can reset a cell by passing it multiple times through an oocyte (this is how cloning was initially achieved). From this native state, transcription can be started that is initiated by the fusion of a spermatozoa with an oocyte.
     
  5. Jan 12, 2005 #4
    Alright, so when the spermie and egg unite, a new lifeform is created. There's no force that snaps its fingers the moment they meet, and delivers it life. The codes in the newly formed DNA dictate the initiation of the lifeform's growth.

    That's gay.

    It makes perfect sense and all, but I had a good conversation about souls and everything yesterday with my buddies, and now I'm going to have to tell them there's no energy behind it. I was convinced, and methed, that the moment the spermie meets the egg, and they swap their DNA and all, the DNA is not turned on until it recieves this energy.

    Do you believe in a soul, or have any beliefs as to what happens once you die?
     
  6. Jan 12, 2005 #5

    DocToxyn

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    Of course there's energy behind it, whether you define it as a clearly-established, chemically-driven process or some mystical intervention is up to you. I think you may have to reduce or redefine your question. As far as the process of reproduction/fertilization, in certain species, two units, egg and sperm, come together. There is a case for the independent units themselves being alive and therefore the embryo is now simply a reorganization of life that was already there. No magic or universal forces involved. If you want to ask about when sentience or humanity begins, as these may be part of your definition of life, then one begins to blur the picture. Considerations of self-awareness, intelligence, self-preservation, etc. must be factored in.

    As far as a soul/life energy, that's really more an opinion question. My thoughts tend to partially separate the two, such that a soul is a work in progress, maintained by life energy (chemical or cosmic-your choice) and one's actions/beliefs.

    Perhaps simply being alive is the manifestation of life energy, when that's gone, one is dead. This energy comes from the summation of all the physical, chemical and biological processes going on in an organism, whether its a human or a bacteria. Then one comes to medical definitions of brain-dead, the body functions with assistance but the "spark" of life is gone.

    I wouldn't be so quick to disparage Monique's answer, it's perfectly logical and answered your question. Having said that, you'll probably never get an answer from any one person that you're completely satisfied with because you already have your own theories and ideas, based on your particular life experience and beliefs.
     
  7. Jan 12, 2005 #6

    Monique

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    No I do not believe in a soul.. and when you die you just disintegrate into disorder.. sounds fun right? :P

    What do you think a soul would be, and how do you unite the idea of a soul with the fact that 'being' is molded by the brain. I mean: when someone damages their brain due to a hemmorage or other trauma, their personality and perception changes.. effectively changing their 'soul'. I believe consiousness is created by the brain.
     
  8. Jan 12, 2005 #7

    Nereid

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    Just to clear up another popular misconception ... the origin of life ('the first living organism') is beyond the domain of applicability of evolution (a fancy way of saying that how life began isn't something any theory of evolution will tell you); 'abiogenesis' is the term you're looking for thunderfvck.
     
  9. Jan 12, 2005 #8
    Well, my original idea was that everything that is alive had a soul. The soul was given to the organism the moment its life had begun. By life I mean any thing that has DNA and is consuming resources to sustain its life. I don't think that's what I had said before, sorry about that. My idea was that the soul was the energy which was necessary for life to exist. I wanted to know if there is physically a initiation code within the newly formed DNA (after the sperm and egg unite) which prompts the rest of the DNA into action. I had thought that once the sperm and egg meet, instead of having an initiation code within the DNA, a soul would tell the DNA to start working and provide it with the energy it needed to allow its information to be interpretted and allowed to replicate and grow.

    Woah woah, I'm really tired, so excuse me if I get stupid. How is the information within the DNA read and applied to the existence of the organism? Like, the cell is told to do mitosis or whatever, but it needs to understand how mitosis is done...I have a feeling this is a very basic question. I remember transcription (I think!) in which the DNA is cut in half and the opposite base thing would start going with the RNA or whatever, and then the RNA would take it back and start making things and all that. Something like that, right? But isn't this just for proteins and all that? How is the cell told to divide? Is it kind of the same thing, but it makes enzymes or whatever that split the cell? How does the RNA (I don't know if this is it or not, but from here on assume that this is what reads the DNA and produces the goods) know what part of the code to read when something needs to be done?

    All of our cells have our DNA in them, but we have a bunch of different cells with different functions. What tells the RNA that since this is a muscle cell (for example) it needs to read this specific part of the code and make these specific proteins, etc. And how are these cells told to be made to begin with? How does the RNA know, "okay! that part is done (how does it know it's done!), now it's time to create this specific organ with a specific design, but first I must speak to DNA!...DNA, what part of your massive code contains the information I'll be needing to change what I am and become the organ cells?"

    A lot of why's.

    I'm sorry!! You don't have to explain everything (or anything for that matter :uhh: )

    Okay, just to conclude all of this before I die of sleep loss...Okay, SO, the sperm meets the egg, and they make a new DNA. Step one is to divide that up and make more of itself. So, assuming the code is read linearly (?), it will just follow the code and do what it's told. Then it will be told to stop doing that, and start with something else. But at some point, there will be different cells that will want to read different parts of the DNA so the new cell can function as its own (ie. a muscle cell or a skin cell or whatever)...So how does the original cell know it has to become muscle at some point, while the same original cells at some point have to be a skin cell? Not necessarily in this order or anything, but I hope you understand my general question.

    Goodnight!!

    thanks agaubns
     
  10. Jan 12, 2005 #9

    Monique

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    The key in your answer is in transcription factors, which promote the transcription of a certain subset of genes. If in a cell the protein p53 is activated upon dna damage, the activate p53 binds to promotors of genes that lead to cell death.

    When a sperm fuses with an oocyte, there is a rapid Ca2+ gradient that is released in a cell from the point of entry: this tells the oocyte that it has been fertilized.. which leads to toughening of the oocyte membrane to ensure that it can only be fertilized by a single sperm. It's all signalling cascades.

    Genes and cells talk to eachother through proteins, a set of proteins present in a cell determinate its fate: a path to differentiation. In the lab it's very easy to tell a cell to become another celltype by activating it with growth factors that you add to the culture medium. TPA causes a monocyte to become a macrophage: without a single division taking place, because a certain set of proteins will be expressed that tell the cell it should be a macrophage.
     
  11. Jan 12, 2005 #10

    DocToxyn

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    As an additional point to Monique's reply look into Clock proteins, circadian rhythms and other "time-keeping" processess that are constantly counting down the passing of time and signalling the appropriate responses when required.

    The process of differentiation is almost defined by the word itself, or at least one of its roots. Cells are exposed to different environments, whether it was way back in the embryo when the polarity of the unit was set by the site of sperm entry or during neuronal migration and development when migrating cells are subjected to varied gradients of growth factors, such as sonic hedgehog, which then, depending on concentration and presence of other growth factors, commit the cell to one type of neuron or another. This communication between cells or organ systems takes place right next door (paracrine, autocrine signalling) and across the entire body (neuroendocrine system, immune system). Many of these processes are very well understood and exist across vastly different species.

    As to the soul issue, ask yourself what else you consider to be "alive" and whether you think it has a soul...a monkey, a dog, a tree, a virus? Are we as humans so conceited as to think we are the only organisms deserving of such a thing...or is there one in every living thing to some degree...or not at all.
     
  12. Jan 12, 2005 #11

    Monique

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    You are right, I once watched a time-lapse video of the simultanious fertilization of frog oocytes, that subsequently developed into tadpoles. The four oocytes divided and developed into tadpoles, which subsequently hatched out of their eggs in complete unison. It's amazing how the process of development is timed.

    I too don't understand why a fertilized egg should have a soul in order to develop, because it's the start of 'life', and seperate spermatozoa or oocytes do not.
     
  13. Jan 13, 2005 #12
    Thanks for the replies guys!

    You raise a good point by asking what I consider to be alive...I was thinking last night that every system that utilizes unique DNA has a soul: bacteria, virii, plants, animals, insects, etc. But in the case of clones, whereby there are two existing entities that both have the exact same DNA, they surely cannot have the same soul. And, as Monique questioned, there's millions of little sperms and all of them have different unique DNA (or half DNA) structures. So, by my reasoning, there would each have to have a soul, or a half soul, and so would the egg. A half soul? No, that makes my theory even weaker. It's back to the drawing board.

    Thanks for putting some truth into all of this!
     
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