Life in the Universe: A Scientific Discussion

Life in the Universe: A Scientific Discussion

Life in the Universe: A Scientific Discussion

Life in the Universe: A Scientific Discussion

Excerpt

In the first chapter I attempted to describe briefly the Universe as pictured by modern astronomers, and to emphasize that it is a dynamic universe. This emphasis on the dynamic nature of the Universe, and a preoccupation with processes occurring in it, are characteristic of a mature science which has graduated from the purely descriptive phase. It is our purpose to describe life as a process occurring within the physical Universe.

We are faced immediately with the difficulty that it is not possible to define the characteristics that distinguish an animate from an inanimate object in any generally accepted way. The differences between a dog and a stone are only too obvious; but it is a more difficult matter to distinguish between a very simple organism, such as a virus, and a complex but inanimate crystal. Indeed, there is no general agreement on whether a virus should be classed as a living organism or not, for life seems to shade almost imper-

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