Q: What is life?
Life captures food and converts it into energy for use in further food capture, self-repair and reproduction. Life preserves its form and its attributes as defined by its DNA. From viruses to human beings this ‘life’ is common. Life must eat to maintain itself, to grow, to reproduce or to move about. Life need not eat all the time, it can sleep or hibernate or fast. But it must eat sometime.
Life is a self-sustaining bio-chemical reaction. It may ‘end’ for an amoeba when it spilts into two amoebas Or for a human being when his telomeres ‘run out’ and his (her) individual cells cannot divide anymore to repair themselves.
Amoeba ‘daughters’ having the exact same DNA as their ‘mother’., identical twins or clones., count as different living things., even though their DNA patterns are identical, they are not the ‘same’ living being. Because they ‘eat’ seperately to maintain two seperate bodies.
Q: What characterises a star? (Nakshatram)
The thermo-nuclear reactions. When the nuclear reactions stop, the star dies or becomes something else. What characterises us? Bio-chemical reactions. At the electronic-ionic, atomic and molecular levels. When they stop, we die. Stars are phenomenally larger and hotter than us. Our planet is mostly powered by stellar (solar) energy that is converted into various forms. A star on the other hand, converts its own material (read Hydrogen) into another material (Helium) and converts a part of the left over mass into energy, which it radiates! A star does not ‘eat’ or capture ‘food’ for energy. So a star has no ‘life’ as we have defined it above.
The Iron in our blood is made in the stars. The Oxygen that it carries to our cells is made in the stars. The Carbon that we are made of, the Silicon of our computers all : Made in Star! The stars provide the material and energy that sustain life as we define it. The first molecules of life were created in stellar reactions. (New discovery). “Stars concentrate the matter in the universe, distribute energy and illuminate the universe”. ( – Sergei). They make all the raw material that we have organised into ourselves and our world.
What do we do? We bridge synapses, the gaps between neurons in our brains. We transfer our “brain patterns” or thought processes to others : teaching, writing conversation etc. We alter the landscape of the earth and create new materials : molecules like plastic, new intelligent beings : robots and computers. We put small objects like satellites in space which serve to transmit information among ourselves using electromagnetic radiation.
In addition to transforming the appearance of our earth’s crust and sending new plastic materials (satellites) into space (our solar system)., we Actively Observe Others in the Universe and Ourselves, forming impressions that explain the world. We learn, we are conscious and we have at least the illusion of free will. The stars can curve space-time, to a level that we cannot.
Time itself means something else near a black hole. The Sun has been silently dragging us at a million km an hour around a massive black hole at the centre of a galaxy. But now, we know what It’s upto!
Q: How close are we to synthetic life?
“Every research team that has embarked on the quest for synthetic life reports good progress and the goal of creating a living being from non-living chemicals is now less a vague possibility than a definite target with clear roadmaps leading to it.” http://www.synbioproject.org/?gclid=CM-SmJ-J4ZkCFYMvpAodjl4qWw
Q: What is a mind?
A mind is the electro-bio-chemical ‘activity’ of a brain.
Think of physical layer of a computer network. All you will see are voltages fluctuating on the wires to a ‘rythym’ if you will. Every higher layer of the network, listens (responds) only to the fluctuations specific pre-determined time intervals, and ignores all other data. Into the arrangement of these voltage fluctuations (bits) is encoded all the information in the world. Some hardware cares about addresses and switching and some other about decoding and so forth. The final meaning of these words I type is ‘known’ to your human brain. Though Google ad sense can act on these bits and throw up ads with a high ‘relevance’.
Think of waves on the sea, that are made of water and are in the sea and yet are not water. It is their movement., their activity itself that makes them a wave.
Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula