What is Life?

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University of California Press, 2000 - Science - 288 pages
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Half a century ago, before the discovery of DNA, the Austrian physicist and philosopher Erwin Schr dinger inspired a generation of scientists by rephrasing the fascinating philosophical question: What is life? Using their expansive understanding of recent science to wonderful effect, acclaimed authors Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan revisit this timeless question in a fast-moving, wide-ranging narrative that combines rigorous science with philosophy, history, and poetry. The authors move deftly across a dazzling array of topics--from the dynamics of the bacterial realm, to the connection between sex and death, to theories of spirit and matter. They delve into the origins of life, offering the startling suggestion that life--not just human life--is free to act and has played an unexpectedly large part in its own evolution. Transcending the various formal concepts of life, this captivating book offers a unique overview of life’s history, essences, and future.

Supplementing the text are stunning illustrations that range from the smallest known organism (Mycoplasma bacteria) to the largest (the biosphere itself). Creatures both strange and familiar enhance the pages of What Is Life? Their existence prompts readers to reconsider preconceptions not only about life but also about their own part in it.
 

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What Is Life and What Is CultureWHAT IS CULTURE
Culture, A Ubiquitous Biological Entity
A Recapitulation
1. General comprehension of evolutionary biology is an essential pre-requisite to the study and comprehension of cultural anthropology.
2. Culture is a basic biological entity. It is the ubiquitous elaboration- extension of the sensing of and reactions to, by the genome, to the goings-on beyond the outermost membrane of its housing, the cell, and of multicelled organisms, to the totality of their outer and inner environments.
Culture has been selected for survival of the genome as means of extending its exploitation capabilities of the out-of-cell circumstances, consequent to the earlier evolution and selection of the genome's organ, its outermost cell membrane (OCM), for control of the in-cell state of the environment.
3. Every cultural element is an organism's artifact that involves biological intra-/inter-cell expression and/or process. Biological and cultural domains are not ontologically distinct. Culture inheres in biology.
4. Culture And Intelligence
http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1&p=247
The core (wordnet.princeton) definition of "intelligence" is "the ability to comprehend, to understand and profit from experience". These surviving abilities are different for the different phenotypes within a genotype, therefore each phenotype has its own meaning of "intelligence".
Intelligence is to culture approximately as essential amino acids are to proteins. Culture evolves in response to circumstances only by use of intelligence and to the extent and scope feasible by the extent and scope of intelligence.
5. In human cultures ethnocentrisms are phenotypic cases of anthropocentrism; biologically both are normal Darwinian biological survival phenomena. Ethnocultures are human phenotypic survival tools.
6. Life is a phenomenon of temporary energy constraint. It pops in out of its matrix, the energy constrained in Earth's biosphere by Earth's organisms, which are the many varieties of genomes, the communal interdependent life forms of the primal, once-independent, genes, the formers and conservers of life's energy on Earth.
7. Culture is the universal driver of genetic evolution
The major course of natural selection is not via random mutations followed by survival, but via interdependent, interactive and interenhencing selection of biased genes replication routes at their alternative-splicing-steps junctions, effected by the cultural feedback of the second stratum multicells organism or monocells community to their prime stratum genes-genome organisms.
8. Science is a human cultural artifact, a tool of human survival
During the recent several centuries in the course of human history Science has been evolving at an accelerating rate as a provider of convincing, ever closer approaching, approximate models of the real world. We understand that Science is one of the components of our Culture, the totality of our capabilities to observe the environment, react to it and exploit it for our satisfaction and survival. There is a distinct, even if still small, growing spreading tendency to accept the findings of evolving Science with ever increasing respect and appreciation, especially in the realms of all forms and types of its progenies - technology and life disciplines.
9. The crucial 21st century question facing humanity is how much further and into which additional disciplines may or should Science be welcome and adopted by society at large, with what hopes and with what expectations.
Which doctrine(s) may or should be welcome and adopted, with what plans or hopes and with what expectations?
Life is a temporary affair. It is temporary on all scales at all levels.
Life's purpose is ours to decide and ours to fulfil. The arguments about life's doctrines should ensue from our choices of life's purpose.
Dov Henis
http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q
 

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Teia Da Vida, a
Fritjof Capra
No preview available - 2000
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About the author (2000)

Lynn Margulis is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of more than one hundred articles and ten books, including Symbiosis and Cell Evolution (second edition 1993). Dorion Sagan, general partner of Sciencewriters, is the author of Biospheres (1990). Together they are the authors of Microcosmos (California, 1996), What Is Sex? (1990), Garden of Microbial Delights (1995), and Mystery Dance (1991).

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