Life

Life (cf. biota) is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate. Biology is the science concerned with the study of life.

Any contiguous living system is called an organism. Organisms undergo metabolism, maintain homeostasis, possess a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce and, through natural selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations. More complex living organisms can communicate through various means. A diverse array of living organisms can be found in the biosphere of Earth, and the properties common to these organisms—plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria—are a carbon- and water-based cellular form with complex organization and heritable genetic information.

Scientific evidence suggests that life began on Earth approximately 3.5 billion years ago. The mechanism by which life emerged is unknown and hypotheses are being formulated. Since then, life has evolved into a wide variety of forms, which biologists have classified into a hierarchy of taxa. Life can survive and thrive in a wide range of conditions. The meaning of life—its significance, origin, purpose, and ultimate fate—is a central concept and question in philosophy and religion. Both philosophy and religion have offered interpretations as to how life relates to existence and consciousness, and on related issues such as life stance, purpose, conception of a god or gods, a soul or an afterlife. Different cultures throughout history have had widely varying approaches to these issues.

Though the existence of life is only confirmed on Earth, many scientists believe extraterrestrial life is not only plausible, but probable. Other planets and moons in the Solar System have been examined for evidence of having once supported simple life, and projects such as SETI have attempted to detect transmissions from possible alien civilizations. According to the panspermia hypothesis, life on Earth may have originated from meteorites that spread organic molecules or simple life that first evolved elsewhere.

Read more about Life:  Definitions, Origin, Conditions, Form and Function, Classification, Extraterrestrial Life, Death, Artificial Life

Other articles related to "life":

Faith in Other Spiritual Traditions - Meher Baba
... are three kinds of faith (i) faith in oneself, (ii) faith in the Master and (iii) faith in life ... Faith is so indispensable to life that unless it is present in some degree, life itself would be impossible ... because of faith that cooperative and social life becomes possible ...
Widukind - Life
... Very little is known about Widukind's life ... There are no sources about Widukind's life or death after his baptism ... likely location where Widukind may have spent the rest of his life ...
Ecology - Relation To The Environment
... resources for organisms at any time throughout their life cycle ... however, is an abstraction parsing life and environment into units or facts that are inseparable in reality ... There is an interpenetration of cause and effect between the environment and life ...
Half-life in Biology and Pharmacology
... A biological half-life or elimination half-life is the time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose one-half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiological activity ... In a medical context, the half-life may also describe the time that it takes for the concentration in blood plasma of a substance to reach one-half of ... For example, the biological half-life of water in a human being is about seven to 14 days, though this can be altered by his/her behavior ...
International Space Station - Station Systems - Life Support
... The Russian orbital segment's life support systems are contained in the Service Module Zvezda ... The MLM Nauka laboratory has a complete set of life support systems ...

Famous quotes containing the word life:

    The fact which interests us most is the life of the naturalist. The purest science is still biographical.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Because of the unusual remoteness of Russia, and because of nostalgia’s remaining throughout one’s life an insane companion, with whose heartrending oddities one is accustomed to put up in public, I feel no embarrassment in confessing to the sentimental stab of attachment to my first book.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977)

    A woman’s whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world: it is there her ambition strives for empire; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul on the traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless—for it is a bankruptcy of the heart.
    Washington Irving (1783–1859)