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Life Matters

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For centuries life has been considered as the fundamental feature of the Universe. Only recently we have acknowledged that life is of almost inconceivable insignificance, and the human race itself is, as S. Hawking put it, “just a chemical scum on a moderate-size planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.” The definition of life has changed drastically since the first philosophers were discussing the fundamental principle (achre) of nature. The traditional Aristotelian definition of life, describing it in terms of excretion, reproduction, growth and irritability, is no longer valid because “animated matter, matter in the form of living organisms, is not the basis of life. It is merely one of the effects of life, and the basis of life is molecular.”

All life on the Earth is based on genes – molecules that are replicators consisting of 4 kinds of smaller molecules A,C,G,T joined in a chain called DNA. The genetic code with slight differentiation is common to all life on Earth, having evolved from a single event that took place around 3,35 billions years ago. On a biological level, only DNA is alive; the rest of the organism (animal, plant or microbe) is merely a part of genes’ habitat. The vital feature of a gene is that it contains knowledge about its niche. Life is the physical embodiment of knowledge, and adaptation means to cause the environment to keep that knowledge in existence.

With special thanks to: International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology ICGEB New DelhiProf. Virander Chauhan, Director

Mammalian Biology: Structural and Computational Biology :Dr Amit Sharma Group Leader, Jasmita Gill, ManickamYogavel, Rachna Hora

Mammalian Biology: Malaria: Prof. Virander S. Chauhan, Group Leader, Dr Malhotra Pawan,Reshma Korde

Mammalian Biology: Virology: Dr Shahid Jameel, Group Leader, Charu Tanwar, Manjula Kalia, Vivek Chandra, Amjad Hussain, Kartika Padhan

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