Properties of Life

Biology is the science that studies life, but what exactly is life? What makes you different from a blanket? How are you so sure that water is not a living thing? Even though we know the answers in a blink of an eye (I am just kidding…), from the earliest beginnings, scientists have struggled to answer these questions in a scientific way. They know that objects weren’t alive but they didn’t know how to explain it. In the early days, there are three questions that scientists had wrestled with to answer these questions: What are things in common that living thing share? How will we able to find the levels of organization in its structure more closely? How do we organize the different kinds of organisms, to understand them better?

After a long time of research, biologists were able to find some answers. One of them is the properties of life. All living organisms shares eight characteristics or functions that serve to define life. They are: order, regulation, homeostasis, energy process, reproduction, sensitivity or response to stimuli , adaptation, and growth and development. Response to stimuli is living things response to changes around them (light, smell, any other things that they “sense”). Homeostasis is when organisms are constantly attempting to maintain a balance internally and with the external environment. Reproduction is when organisms give rise to new genetically similar organisms. Growth and Development is when our bodies grow and the number of cells in organisms may increase as a result. Order is when organisms are highly organized structures that consist of one or more cells. Adaptation is a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment. Regulation is the control of individual or organism internal environment. Energy processing is where all organisms use a source of energy for their metabolic activity.

As a student, learning about this topic, has helped me understand the definition of life. For example, now it will help me answer questions that are hard to know whether they are alive or not, such as virus. My belief is that a virus is not a living organism because they don’t reproduce on their own. They don’t grow or develop, they multiply. They don’t respond to stimuli and they are acellular which means to not have specific cellular structure or lacking of cells.

As for today, as we discover new organisms, biologists will continue to seek answers to these and other questions.

An intersecting video to watch:

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