[ExI] atoms and cells - what is shared between them?
anders at aleph.se
Tue Jul 17 21:37:09 UTC 2012
On 17/07/2012 21:47, natasha at natasha.cc wrote:
> All molecules are made of atoms which are, for the most part,
> indestructible and, thereby, immortal. *If atoms are the elemental
> components from which all cells are derived, then why does programmed
> cell death occur?*
Because atoms and organisms are phenomena on different levels. The fact
that water molecules cannot show waves or disappear doesn't prevent a
large collection like a puddle to have waves or to dry out.
Programmed cell death is an adaptation multicellular organisms use to
construct or control their tissues. It has been favored because
organisms with the right apoptosis programs can function well in the
environment and hence reproduce well. Note that there are no
unicellular organisms with apoptosis: there survival is all about each
cell doing well.
> Also, is it true that if apoptosis is a chemical process, it has no
> connection with the atomic constitutionof cells?
Cell chemistry, especially the dynamics of proteins and signals like in
apoptosis, is about molecules interacting - with a few chemical
exceptions individual atoms do not occur other than as constituents of
molecules. So if atoms disappeared but molecules behaved the same cells
would work the same.
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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