[ExI] atoms and cells - what is shared between them?

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Jul 22 11:54:37 UTC 2012


A living and a dead body after all contain the same number of atoms, 
just arranged in a different way.

Perhaps the main difference is that living bodies have a lot of 
molecules in metastable high energy states ready for use, and that dead 
bodies do not. From a revival perspective the real issue is of course 
the ordering of the molecules rather than their energy states, but 
typically low energy states also have high entropy: there are more ways 
of being dead than alive, but they are all macroscopically fairly boring.

On 20/07/2012 23:59, natasha at natasha.cc wrote:
> Atoms and cells are phenomena on different levels; yet, it is the 
> organization of the molecules, which contain atoms, that forms a 
> system such as a cellular system. The dynamics of apoptosis concerns 
> molecules interacting, where individual atoms do not take place other 
> than as constituents of the molecules. When the cells die it is 
> because the molecules that form the them are no longer in the same 
> position or organization and, therefore, not capable of performing the 
> necessary cell functions. Thus, cell death occurs because the 
> molecules, containing atoms, have been rearranged by metabolic 
> processes or by the effects of random damage. Of consequence is that 
> the atoms may still exist, but because the molecular position or 
> organization has changed, they are prevented from performing their 
> functions and unable to assist the efficacy of a cell’s role in 
> relation to the entire system of the organism.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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