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Life - description


And the second time to be born will not work, no matter how hard you try. Live yours! (c) Майя Плисецкая.

Life (article in Russian — "Жизнь") — is the highest form of existence of matter in comparison with the physical and chemical form, which naturally arises under certain conditions in the process of its development. Living objects differ from non-living ones in metabolism - an indispensable condition for life, the ability to reproduce, grow, actively regulate their composition and functions, to various forms of movement, irritability, adaptability to the environment, etc.

Related words: vital, lifeless, lifelong, lifetime.

Synonyms: biography, being, existence, century, life, life-life.

Antonym: death[ru].

A strictly scientific[ru] distinction between living and non-living objects encounters certain difficulties. So, there is still no consensus on whether it is possible to consider living viruses that, outside the cells of the host organism, do not have any of the attributes of a living thing: at this time, there are no metabolic processes in the viral particle, it is not able to multiply, etc.

The specificity of living objects and life processes can be characterized in terms of both their material structure and the most important functions that underlie all manifestations of life. The most accurate definition of life, covering both of these approaches to the problem at the same time, was given about 100 years ago by a German philosopher, thinker and social and political figure, the founder of Marxism, Friedrich Engels: “Life is a mode of existence of protein bodies, and this mode of existence consists essentially in the constant self-renewal of the chemical constituents of these bodies” (Marx Karl and Engels Friedrich, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 82). The term "protein" was not yet defined quite precisely and was usually attributed to the protoplasm as a whole.

All currently known objects that have the undoubted attributes of a living being contain two main types of biopolymers: proteins and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Realizing the incompleteness of his definition, Engels wrote: “Our definition of life, of course, is very insufficient, since it is far from covering all the phenomena of life, but, on the contrary, is limited to the most general and simplest among them... In order to get a truly exhaustive idea of ​​life, we would have to trace all the forms of its manifestation, from the lowest to the highest” (ibid., p. 84).

The English naturalist, naturalist, traveler, creator of Darwinism, foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Charles Robert Darwin, in the last lines of The Origin of Species, wrote about the basic laws that, in his opinion, underlie the emergence of all forms of life: “These laws, in in the broadest sense, growth and reproduction; Selection...” (Collection, vol. 3, M. - L., 1939, p. 666). Leaving aside the role of exercise, which, according to later data, serves as a factor in non-hereditary variability, Darwin's generalization remains valid to this day, and his basic laws of life are reduced to two even more general ones. This is, first of all, the ability of living things to assimilate substances received from outside, that is, to rebuild them, likening them to their own material structures, and due to this, repeatedly reproduce them (reproduce). At the same time, if the original structure has accidentally changed (mutation), then it continues to be reproduced in a new form.

The ability for excessive self-reproduction underlies the growth of the cell, the reproduction of cells and organisms and, consequently, the progression of reproduction (the main condition for natural selection), as well as the basis of heredity and hereditary variability. The Soviet biochemist Vladimir Alexandrovich Engelhardt considered the reproduction of his own kind as a fundamental property of the living, which is now being interpreted in terms of chemical concepts at a truly molecular level. Another feature of the living is the huge variety of properties acquired due to the variability of the material structures of living objects. Each of these two fundamental properties is mainly related to the function of one of the two biopolymers. The "record" of hereditary properties, i.e., the coding of the characteristics of the organism necessary for reproduction, is carried out with the help of DNA and RNA, although enzyme proteins certainly take part in the process of reproduction. Thus, it is not a single molecule of DNA, protein or RNA that is alive, but their system as a whole.

The implementation of diverse information about the properties of an organism is carried out by synthesizing, according to the genetic code, various proteins (enzymatic, structural, etc.), which, due to their diversity and structural plasticity, determine the development of the most diverse physical and chemical adaptations of living organisms. On this foundation, in the process of evolution, living control systems unsurpassed in their perfection arose. Thus, life is characterized by highly ordered material structures containing two types of biopolymers (protein and DNA or RNA), which make up a living system capable of self-reproduction in general according to the principle of matrix synthesis. A characteristic feature of the chemical composition of the forms of fluid known to us is the asymmetry of optically active substances, which are represented in living objects by left-handed or right-handed forms.

Life is possible only under certain physical and chemical conditions (temperature, presence of water, salts, etc.). However, the cessation of life processes, for example, when seeds are dried or small organisms are deep frozen, does not lead to a loss of viability. If the structure is preserved intact, it ensures the restoration of vital processes upon returning to normal conditions.

Life is qualitatively superior to other forms of existence of matter in relation to the diversity and complexity of chemical components and the dynamics of transformations occurring in living things. Living systems are characterized by a much higher level of structural and functional order, in space and time. The structural compactness and energy efficiency of living things are the result of the highest orderliness at the molecular level. One of the important consequences of this compactness is the universal “amplification” effect that is characteristic of all living systems. Thus, 5∙10-15 grams of DNA contained in a fertilized whale egg contains information for the vast majority of the signs of an animal that weighs 5∙107 g. Here, therefore, if the necessary conditions are present, the mass increases by 22 orders of magnitude. “It is precisely in the ability of the living to create order from the chaotic thermal motion of molecules,” wrote Vladimir Engelhardt, “that the deepest, fundamental difference between the living and the non-living lies. The tendency to order, to create order out of chaos, is nothing else than counteracting the growth of entropy” (“Kommunist”, 1969, No. 3, p. 85).

Living systems exchange energy, matter and information with the environment, i.e. they are open systems. At the same time, unlike non-living systems, they do not equalize energy differences and restructure structures towards more probable forms, but the opposite is observed: differences in energy potentials, chemical composition, etc. are restored, i.e., work is continuously going on " against balance "(Erwin Simonovich Bauer). This is the basis for the erroneous assertions that living systems allegedly do not obey the second law of thermodynamics. However, a local decrease in entropy in living systems is possible only due to an increase in entropy in the environment, so that, in general, the process of increasing entropy continues, which is quite consistent with the requirements of the second law of thermodynamics. According to the figurative expression of the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrdinger, living organisms, as it were, feed on negative entropy (negentropy), extracting it from the environment and thereby increasing the increase in positive entropy in it.

Life on Earth[ru], originating at least 1.5 - 2 billion years ago, is represented by a huge number of organisms. Each organism can exist only under the condition of constant close connection with the environment, that is, with other organisms and inanimate nature, and this connection is two-way. Life, with all its manifestations, produced the most profound changes in the development of our planet, at least in its outer shells. Improving in the process of evolution, living organisms spread more and more widely across the planet, taking an ever greater part in the redistribution of energy and substances in the earth's crust, as well as in the air and water shells of the Earth.

The emergence and spread of vegetation led to a fundamental change in the composition of the atmosphere, originally containing very little free oxygen and consisting mainly of carbon dioxide (CO2) and probably methane (CH4) to ammonia (NH3). Plants assimilating carbon (C) from CO2 have created an atmosphere containing free oxygen (O) and only traces of CO2. Free oxygen in the composition of the atmosphere served not only as an active chemical agent, but also as a source of ozone (O3), which blocked the path of short ultraviolet rays to the Earth's surface ("ozone screen"). At the same time, carbon, accumulated for centuries in the remains of plants, formed grandiose energy reserves in the earth's crust in the form of deposits of organic compounds (coal, peat).

The vegetation cover has changed the physical and chemical characteristics of the planet; changed, in particular, the reflection coefficient of the land surface of various parts of the solar[horo] spectrum. The development of life in the oceans led to the creation of sedimentary rocks consisting of skeletons and other remains of marine organisms. These deposits, their mechanical pressure, chemical and physical transformations have changed the surface of the earth's crust. Active selective absorption of substances by organisms caused a redistribution of substances in the upper layers of the cortex. All this testifies to the presence on Earth of a special shell, called by the Soviet scientist, geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, the biosphere, in which life phenomena unfolded and continue to this day.

In the course of the evolution of living organisms, the processes of regulation and adaptation to external conditions improved more and more, which in freely mobile animals contributed to the development of the central nervous system. The development under the influence of social labor of the most perfect form of higher nervous activity in human ancestors created the prerequisites for the transition of life to a new - social - level, associated with a new form of movement, characteristic of man and qualitatively different from the biological, inherent in other forms of life. After the transition to this level, with the emergence of social consciousness, it becomes possible to predict development and create new forms of regulation and adaptation that can provide advantages that are impossible in the process of purely biological development. (Alexander Alexandrovich Malinovsky)

Levels of life organization

There are eight main structural levels of life:

Typically, each of these levels is a system of lower level subsystems and a subsystem of a higher level system.

Alternative and short meanings of the term "Life"

Celebrity Quotes About Life

Albert Einstein:

Albert Einstein about life

Leonardo da Vinci:

Just as a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a well-spent life brings satisfaction.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov:

If you want to live, then get into the carriage and go to where the air is saturated with the smell of lilacs and bird cherry, where, caressing your gaze with their delicate whiteness and brilliant diamond dewdrops, lilies of the valley and night beauties bloom in a race. There, in the vastness, under the blue vault, in view of the green forest and cooing streams, in the company of birds and green beetles, you will understand what life is!

Arthur Schopenhauer:

From the point of view of youth, life is an infinitely long future; in terms of old age, a very short past.

Charles Spencer Chaplin:

Life is a tragedy when you see it up close, and a comedy when you look at it from a distance.

Igor Severyanin:

What does it mean to live? For you, I don't know
To live for me is to inhale the lilac,
In the Epiphany snow strive for May,
Blessing the new day.

Lyudmila Koroleva:

Life is full of riches
It happens to be hopeless and miserable...
And only having lived, and having accumulated the mind,
You will understand that life is a priceless gift from God.

Larisa Emelyanovna Miller:

And life is measured in what units?
Here I, for example, would measure in birds
And in motley butterflies, and in bright colors,
And not at all in days, not in days, not in years.

For me, than lilacs are more foamy,
The higher the value of the earthly moment,
And if the days of rays are woven,
They don't even have a price!

Mikhail Nikolaevich Zadornov:

The worst thing is life. Everyone dies from it.

John Lennon:

Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.

Konstantin Georgievich Paustovsky, "Time of Great Expectations":

Almost everyone passes away without having accomplished even a tenth of what he could have accomplished.

Daniel Kharms:

Life conquered death in a way unknown to me.

Song about life:

I Love[ru] you life - performs Mark Naumovich Bernes, composer Eduard Kolmanovsky

Reading[ru] more about life in the literature:

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