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What is life according to physics?

  1. Oct 2, 2003 #1
    dear readers,
    everything in this world is made up of atoms. but how come certain things have life and certain thing dont have. do atoms have life like us? what is pecular about the atoms that cause life?
    no one is a expert other than god.who knows every thing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2003 #2


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    There is no "according to physics" here.

    Physics quite intelligently avoids the question: it says "I have enough to worry about, go ask biology"!
  4. Oct 2, 2003 #3
    Physics deals with interaction between matter and energy, not life.
  5. Oct 2, 2003 #4
    Life is a dicy concept. Even Biologists often find it more conventient to refer to "functioning cells" than "living cells". However, as to your question about whether atoms are alive like us, the answer is most assuredly "no". They meet none of the criteria that are used to determine life.
  6. Oct 2, 2003 #5

    Claude Bile

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    'It is not the atoms themselves, rather the information that is encoded in arrangements of atoms that is the basis of life.' At least this is the viewpoint of many scientists working in the fields evolutionary biology.

    The question of how the concept of life fits into physics is a huge field of debate. For more info, I suggest you look up 'Artificial life' (or 'ALife) on google for a different perspective on the question of life, it is rather interseting, even if you do not quite agree with what is being suggested by the ALife movement.

    The book 'Artificial Organisms' is also a very good read if you are interested in this kind of thing.

  7. Oct 3, 2003 #6


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    That is close to my view, which is that life corresponds to a process, a certain form of complicated flow that we can subjectively identify.

    But physics doesn't have an official line on this. Physicists disagree alot over what life represents - as a brief look through the PF philosophy archives would show.
  8. Oct 3, 2003 #7
    That doesn't prevent biophysics from having an active agenda:

    http://www.biophysics.org/btol/ [Broken]
    Biophysics Textbook OnLine

    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
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