posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 05:00 PM
A thing is usually considered living if it reproduces and performs metabolic reactions all on its own. Fire doesn't 'reproduce' strictly, it just
precipitates a chemical reaction, and fire only has one 'metabolic' reaction, burning, and it has no ability to control it. So I'll,
uncontroverselly, say fire is not alive.
A virus, for example, is usually said to not be alive because it can't reproduce under its own power, it needs to hijack an actual living cell.
Prions, misshaped proteins that can sometimes induce other proteins to become similiarly mishappen, are also not considered alive, as they don't
perform any metabolic reactions.
But this does bring up an interesting consideration. Fire could almost be thought of as 'nearly alive' or something. What other weird
things under other planetary conditions, ie 'astrobiological' things, are 'alive' but not recognizably so? Like say, a lake, that is filled with
relatively stable chemicals that undergo a series of reactions that all sum up to a maintenance of something like 'homeostasis' for that lake?
'diffuse' organisms, and the like. Something 'truly' alien, not just 'gray with big eyes'.