What is Life?
What is life?
Life: a condition of growth, reproduction, and adaptation to the environment through internal changes.
Such a sterile definition of something so precious and beautiful. Life is a complex process that we still don't understand. Somehow, millions of years ago, just the right combination of amino acids and proteins came together in the primordial soup of Earth to form the building blocks of what we are today.
How did it all happen? That's one of the great existential questions that most either ignore, take on faith, or leave it up to the scientific community to find the answer. Personally, I fall into the last category. Will we ever know that answer? Maybe...hopefully... but until then we can use the tried-and-true method of establishing scientific understanding, the scientific method, to come to a better understanding of the FACTS.
We are still coming to grips with the biological definition of life. We're finding organisms like the extremophiles mentioned in the article above that provide us with more insight into what life is truly capable of. These incredible microbes have been trapped inside the giant crystals in the caves in Chihuahua, Mexico for 10 to 50 THOUSAND YEARS. They've been lying dormant for that many years, and researchers have reawakened them in the lab. These organisms are a window into history-- our history, our planet's history, and the history of the universe-- and they can help us understand what extremophilic life might be like on other planets.
This is why science and the scientific method are important, important to our knowledge base as a civilization, and important in our daily lives. When we ask questions, formulate a hypothesis, and test that hypothesis in a logical and rational manner, we're using those all-important critical thinking skills.
Science is not just something cool and geeky for people like Bill Nye, Neil De'Grasse Tyson, or Stephen Hawking. Science is a way of thinking. It's a way of applying our own critical thinking skills rather than accepting what someone else says on blind faith. We live in a culture that is discouraging individual thought, individual ideas, and individual understanding--unless we're using it to make money. Be an individual, be creative, and use that scientific way of thinking to ask questions.
Let's all strive to be more than we were yesterday, and maybe, just maybe, we can challenge ourselves to make better choices, better choices as individuals, and better choices as a species.