What is the difference between living and nonliving?
Starting from the first days of the existence of a rational man, this question - “what is life?”, Provokes heated discussions. Religious teachers, philosophers, humanists, and in our time, psychologists and physiologists - have everyone tried, or are trying to define, what is the difference between the living and nonliving? We will try to do it.
Signs of the living
The strongest difference that catches the eye is life, it is the active form of existence of matter. However, it is not so simple. Matter can be physical (for example, many electrical processes occur in your computer now), as well as chemical activity (as sugar behaves in a cup of hot tea - it gradually goes from one form to another). But, of course, no one will dare to call a computer, or a cup of tea living beings!
Therefore, life is not only a movement, or a transformation. The living is the SUPREME form of existence of matter, surpassing its physical and chemical forms. A distinctive feature of the living is its ability to reproduce itself according to some given program.This program, or instruction is placed in the genetic code - an important attribute that is ONLY in living beings. Hence the first conclusion - life must necessarily be able to transmit hereditary information, must have a genetic code. Living creatures without such a code on Earth have not yet been found.
The second important sign of the living is homeostasis, i.e. the body's ability to maintain its internal state. For example, if you bury a pillar in the ground and leave it unattended for a while, it will quickly become dilapidated, or it may fall. This matter is still and obeys the so-called “Second Law of Thermodynamics”, according to which all matter tends to primary chaos. But with living matter, the situation is quite different. If a tree is planted next to our pillar - after a while, it will not only decay, but quite the opposite. Without any intervention on our part, it will begin to grow and will do so over the years! For example, some types of trees live for more than 3000 years, and today there are (living!) Their specimens, which have seen the construction of the Greek Parthenon.And if the latter has turned into ruins, then these plants feel great to this day. This very well demonstrates the difference - in which the living is different from the non-living.
It should be noted that there are creatures on our planet that are difficult to attribute to living or inanimate nature. These are viruses. Under normal conditions (being in the soil or water) they do not show any signs of life - they do not divide, they do not try to maintain their homeostasis. Those. behave like any highly organized, but dead matter (for example, a crystal, or a snowflake). However, as soon as they get inside the living cell - they immediately come to life, and embed their genetic code into the cell program (which is why malicious computer programs are also called “viruses” - the mechanism of action is very similar). Therefore, between biologists, disputes still do not subside - where do viruses belong to - to living or non-living?
We hope our little research was interesting for you!