A New definition of Life and Death

This research proposes a new definition of life:

  • Something is living if it is one of a species capable of self-replication and Darwinian evolution, or is descended from such a species, and is able to sense and respond to its environment.

It is further proposed that the definition of life leads naturally to other definitions:

  • Something has died if it used to be alive, but is no longer able to sense and respond to its environment.
  • Something is inorganic if it cannot, and never has been able to, sense and respond to its environment.

There are hundreds of different definitions of life, none of which have found universal approval or have met the diverse needs of biologists, physicists, chemists or philosophers. The usefulness of this new definition of life has been tested against various things that could be described as problematical, or which could be described as being at the boundary of life and death.

A New Definition of Life and Death
Richard Underwood, Independent Researcher
Manchester, United Kingdom

First Published Bioscience Today, 23 June 2017,
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.15943.91040