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The Fire Of Live

  1. Sep 22, 2005 #1
    Is fire alive? strange question I know. But here are some points that show to me fire could well be alive...

    Fire breaths, it can take in oxigen and breaths out carbon dioxide

    Fire eats, just like we need fuel to live fire needs fuels to live

    Fire dies, lack of oxygen, food, causes the flame to go out

    Fire reporduces, a small flame can set a house on fire!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2005 #2
    Well, it depends on your definition of "alive" or "life." Dictionary.com defines life as

    So, yes fire grows and it is not exactly inatimate, but it does not have metabolism and it doesn't really respond to the environment (other than going where the fuel/oxygen is). Furthermore fire is not composed of cells which is another characteristic of "life." By these definitions, I would say that fire is not alive.
     
  4. Sep 22, 2005 #3
    so far from what i have seen, life has a way of freely moving and it effects other things around it much like fire does, lets say life itself is an energy, and fire is a pure form of energy, does something that does not physicly exist still be alive, can energy itself be alive?
     
  5. Sep 27, 2005 #4
    Fire is a chemical reaction, not a living organism.

    You can say that humans are merely atoms compiled into one working unit, but humans have volition, a predictability for the sustainment of life, and fire does not.

    Fire also doesn't react to the environment, which is a big component of what classifies something to be a living thing.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2005 #5
    Fire is a self-sustaining chemical reaction.

    Life is a self-sustaining chemical reaction.



    Life was not "started" by the first reaction that produced the first cell or virus-like organism; life is that first reaction. Every organism, every reaction within those organisms, every organism's effects upon its environment; all of these are aspects of one large, complex chemical reaction.


    Oh, and in response to ryanvergel:

    1) Fire has a "predictability for the sustainment of fire". Given the necessary fuels for its reaction, fire sustains itself. Given the necessary fuels for its reaction, life sustains itself. Life just requires more diverse fuels than fire ("non-fire life", in the case that fire is actually a form of life).

    2) Fire does react to its environment. It follows fuel (including oxygen), and can be "killed" by a sufficient gust of wind or application of a chemical to "drown" or "poison" it. That's already more than a sponge does, hmm?
     
  7. Sep 30, 2005 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Fire is not alive in a literal sense. That is not to say that it isn't a great metaphor. But I believe you are asking if fire is not merely metaphorically alive, but if it is alive in the strict meaning of the word.

    Let's examine the term strict meaning.



    The trouble is that words such as "reproduce" and "react" have become so commonplace in relation to fire that their metaphorical meaning and their strict meanings have become almost inseparable.

    A wonderfully serendipitous example:
    Putting quotes around the words is a signal that these words were invoked in a metaphorical sense. Even Sikz recognizes (whether s/he meant to or not) that these words don't - in a literal sense - apply to fire.


    Fire does not reproduce in the strict meaning of the word. A fire may increase in its physical properties; it may even spread. Parts may stop burning in some places until there appear to be more than one distinct fire, and fires may even start spontaneously. But fire does not actually produce a copy of itself.

    Fire is incapable of reacting to its environment in the strict meaning of the term. If poked, a sponge will attempt to escape or otherwise protect itself. Fire does not react to its environement any more than a pebble washed by waves moves about, or a mountain shrinks from erosion. Similarly, blowing air on a fire and causing it to flare up is not a reaction to its enivronment It is merely a physical consequence (for example, the fire can't choose NOT to flare up). A fire cannot act to protect itself - don't go getting all anthropomorphic on me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2005
  8. Sep 30, 2005 #7
    The words were invoked in a metaphorical sense- but only to draw the analogy between what is thought of as actual "killing", "drowning", or "poisoning" (in their normal context with normally defined life) and actions that can be initiated upon a fire with a similar- or possibly identical- effect. They were used metaphorically to draw a connection and to question the common wisdom of their application only to commonly recognized, non-fire, life.

    Of course, the sponge lacks a nervous system and therefore cannot choose NOT to "attempt to escape or otherwise protect itself", either. Its movement is a result of a more complex system than the movement of a pebble, but that system still lacks any computational or conceptual abilities. It is simply a very complicated mechanical construct.



    But this is all really academic; life and fire are both self-sustaining chemical reaction, but according to my own statement earlier:

    Life is a chemical reaction which can be traced back, conceptually if not actually, to a fairly distinct beginning... Fires do not share this beginning, and therefore are not, by that definition, life-- maybe a cousin, but not life itself.

    Of course, if extra-terrestrial life were to be found, it wouldn't share the same beginning either-- but would still be life. So I would say my comment was a description of life as we know it, not a definition...
     
  9. Oct 3, 2005 #8

    DaveC426913

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    Right...
    Because, as we all know...
    You can't kill, drown or poison fire...
    Except in a metaphorical or analogical sense...
    (Umm...)
    The sense in which you treat fire...
    as a metaphor or analogy of life...




    You seem to be suggesting (unless I misunderstand) that life as we know it, *is* life - if and only if - it started as hydrocarbons in the primordial goo of Earth 4Gy ago? That any other origin (such as alien, or life created from chemicals in a lab) are not, by definition, life.

    I do not buy that definition, sorry. You'd have to win that argument before you could use it as the foundation for another.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  10. Oct 3, 2005 #9

    DaveC426913

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    Are you seriously suggesting that every time I strike a match, I am *literally* creating life from lifeless dirt?

    This is not the same thing as nurturing something that was dormant, such as a seed or nut.

    If you are suggesting that fire is life, then you are suggesting that I, with my match, am equivalent to God Him/Herself, taking the basic elements (sulphur and oxygen) and actually spontaneously creating life out of the simple Earth upon which I walk.

    Further, it also suggests that every match ever lit is the site of a *new*, independent creation of a whole world of life (like unto another planet of primordial goo where another form of organic life arose independently.) One fire is not the ancestor of another fire. They do not breed and replicate their numbers. They do not lay eggs to propogate.

    You are suggesting that EVERY fire is a whole, new and isolated instance of creation.
     
  11. Oct 5, 2005 #10
    No, I'm not. In my own post earlier I said that, by my own arguments and ideas, fire is not life:

    "Life is a chemical reaction which can be traced back, conceptually if not actually, to a fairly distinct beginning... Fires do not share this beginning, and therefore are not, by that definition, life-- maybe a cousin, but not life itself."

    No, again, I'm not suggesting that as a definition. I specifically said, after talking about how fire does not fit that description, that:

    "Of course, if extra-terrestrial life were to be found, it wouldn't share the same beginning either-- but would still be life. So I would say my comment was a description of life as we know it, not a definition..."


    You're arguing against points I didn't make...
     
  12. Oct 7, 2005 #11

    DaveC426913

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    I'm arguing against points you made by implication.

    "...their application only to commonly recognized, non-fire, life..."

    suggests pretty clearly that you see two types of life:
    fire-type life and non-fire life.

    "Fires do not share this beginning, and therefore are not, by that definition, life..."

    suggests that there is another possible definiton of life that would include fire.

    "...maybe a cousin..."

    suggests that 'fire' and 'a chemical reaction which can be traced back, conceptually if not actually, to a fairly distinct beginning' - could be considered cousins.

    You do seem to be suggesting that 'fire' and 'life that evolved on Earth' both fit into some larger category. Or perhaps, more accurately, that 'the stuff that evolved on Earth' should be renamed 'Biological Life', so that the supercategory of 'Life' can hold it as well as 'fire'-type life.


    But I think perhaps you don't really purport this, you are merely playing Devil's Advocate to see where it goes.
     
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