7 0

I've heard it said that the ingredients are an energy source, carbon and liquid water, if this is true, has any real life been produced in a laboratory? How is life defined anyway. What is life ?

libraryman 6 Aug 31

Post a comment Reply Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


in the biological sense, life is a chemical process that involves intake of chemicals, energetic alteration of those chemicals, and elimination of waste.

we have created synthetic cells with created DNA using emptied host cells. the problem with that part of it is time. IF we could recreate the conditions of the first self replicating molecules in a lab, we would then have to maintain the energy input and chemical conditions long enough for variation or mutation to start favoring cytoplasmic sheaths, then wait long enough and maintain the right chemical conditions, including resource competition, for variation or mutation of that sheath into a protein shell to take over. this is a process of time, there is not really a way to "speed up" that process without artificial intervention, at which point you have not reproduced abiogenesis.

we may one day create real life, but it won't be the way it happened naturally, it will be by intentionally modifying chemicals to do what we need without waiting for the right variation or mutation to happen on its own.


We're not so far away as you might think. Here's something I clipped from a Wikipedia article titled Synthetic Life:

In the area of synthetic biology, a "living" artificial cell has been defined as a completely synthetically made cell that can capture energy, maintain ion gradients, contain macromolecules as well as store information and have the ability to mutate.[4] Such a cell is not technically feasible yet, but a variation of an artificial cell has been created in which a completely synthetic genome was introduced to genomically emptied host cells.[5] Although not completely artificial because the cytoplasmic components as well as the membrane from the host cell are kept, the engineered cell is under control of a synthetic genome and is able to replicate.

I'm hoping someone besides me finds it interesting that the parts of a cell we're still unable to create by synthetic means are the cytoplasm and the cell membrane.

the biggest challenge is that cytoplasm is not homogenous, it exhibits specific organization, and we still aren't sure how that organization functions completely. creating a medium with molecular crowding and lipids can be done, but will it be the RIGHT molecular crowding and lipid placement? unless we get to the point of just replicating a cell molecule by molecule, it will take a lot of experimentation to find a mix that works.


You are alluding to the Miller-Urey experiments, but missing a few ingredients. Methane and ammonia (for nitrogen) were also in the "stew". This didn't create life, but showed the common primordial gases with energy could form the building blocks of proteins and sugars.

The field of study is called Abiogenesis and a high level overview can be found on Wikipedia.


There was an experiment back in the e 1950`s []


Did it the old fashioned way . Took about nine months . The important bit , is the container you mix it in . Needs to be warm , moist , stable , nurturing , and needs to know when it's time to let go .


If you create an artificial intelligence, that "thinks" it's real, and is self aware, is it life? What if it thinks it's alive, is self aware and we can't tell the difference? Is it truly alive then? If not, does it matter?

Just another take, not whether we have created life (the answer is no) but if we could, in a different way than you would usually view the question.

Maybe you didn't , but I did .


If we have a lab, put some water and some carbon in it and wait, like, half a billion years, then yes, I guess some life would form. Takes some time. As far as I know life was never created out of non living material, but there are reasonable theories out there of an abiogenesis.
There is definitely a blurry line of what might or might not be considered "life". We don't have a definition that is flawless, but a lot of things are definitely "alive" (animals, plants, ect...) and a lot of things are definitely not "alive" (stones, water, clouds).

Dietl Level 7 Aug 31, 2018

I do not think that carbon plus water will bring about life even if you wait 4 billion years. You need some extra elements and - very important - a constant source of energy.

I was being simplistic on purpose, because this isn't a practical scenario anyways. My point was that this process would take a lot of time, more than any experiment could last.
But you're right, I probably should have been a bit more accurate.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:168199
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.