Humans, alive or not strictly alive.

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Write4U, May 10, 2021.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Considering that bacteria are the actual organism that keep us alive, are humans independently alive or only as a member of a microbiome?

    The Human Microbiome - University of Washington
    https://depts.washington.edu/ceeh/downloads/FF_Microbiome.pdf

    Without the help of bacteria a newborn baby would not live to procreate, one of the requirements of living organisms.

    Some people have to live in a sterile environment because they have no natural defenses against external biological threats.

    Think about this. Remove our symbiotic bacteria and the human organism dies in a very short time.
     
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    We're alive, even by your definition.
     
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Not without our supporting biome. A newborn baby would never have a chance to procreated without its protective army of symbiotic bacteria. It would die within hours of birth.

    We may even be comparable to a virus, unable to exist without the help of our bacterial symbionts.

    The human organism exists within its supporting microbiome, without which it would die, much like a virus' inability to exist without its cellular host.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    That doesn't mean that we aren't alive. We wouldn't be able to procreate without oxygen either.
     
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Right and that proves my point.
    Some living organism are able to procreate without oxygen. Oxygen is even deadly to some living organisms.

    Anaerobic organism

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    Spinoloricus nov. sp., a metazoan that metabolises with hydrogen, lacking mitochondria and instead using hydrogenosomes.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_organism

    But citing one variable chemical does not prove anything. The fact that humans will die without the assist from other living organisms is the determining factor. Apparently it is for our classification of viruses.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Nope, completely untrue. That baby would indeed be sick (diarrhea) but would not die. We can live without gut flora for quite a long time, although we would certainly not be as happy. https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002020

    And "the ability to procreate" does not equal "alive." (Unless you are going to argue that a sterile woman is not alive, which would be pretty silly.)
     
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  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Well that article assumes life in a perfectly sterile environment free of all microbes. I am talking about attack from outside microbes on a vulnerable human. That's why some people need to live in a sterile dome. They would die oustside the dome. Gut bacteria is but one of hundreds of symbiotic bacteria that keep us alive. How do pandemics originate?
    No, if a species is unable to procreate they go extinct. If a woman is sterile her genes become extinct.

    1. Our gut bacteria can help to balance our hormones
    2. Supports vaginal health (and reduces yeast infections and BV)
    3. Pregnant women seed their baby’s gut with their vaginal bacteria.
    Bonus: gut bacteria are in breast milk too!
    https://www.florahealth.com/ca-en/blog/probiotics-fertility-pregnancy-vaginal-health/#

    In short, without our complete microbiome we would die very quickly, just like a virus that is unable to find a host.

    The question was rhetorical and in context of ability to stay alive without the help of a host biome. Basically animals are worlds unto themselves and subject to natural disasters in many forms.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    In other words this thread is not really about the thread heading. It's "The Microbiome: Do you find this subject interesting?"
     
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  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    If that suits you, fine.

    But this is about comparing the question of viruses qualifying as being alive or not, as compared to the fact that humans and most likely all other animals are not wholly independently alive and require the help from a host of other organism to stay alive long enough to reproduce, one of the qualifiers of living organisms.

    And we only discussed the important role of gut bacteria. Now consider also the millions of beneficial bacteria on our skin, and in our mouth and nose, that create barriers keeping the virulent bacteria from invading us through every orifice they can find.

    This is an attempt to bring some clarity in the use of some "scientific" terms and their objective scientific rigor.
    Does that clarify the context of the OP?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    No.
     
  14. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Then that's a pretty useless definition of "alive": Nothing is alive.
     
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  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Isn't that a novel idea? It opens up a whole new perspective, IMO

    Perhaps "alive" is just a pattern. Some patterns are alive, most are not.
    Same as "consciousness". Some patterns are conscious, most are not.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    For those who feel cheated by a potential bait and switch, here's Ferris Jabr's opinion from 2013 (SciAm), who seemingly goes full monty...

    Why Life Does Not Really Exist
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/brainwaves/why-life-does-not-really-exist/

    EXCERPT: . . . Recently, however, I had an epiphany that has forced me to rethink why I love living things so much and reexamine what life is, really. For as long as people have studied life they have struggled to define it. Even today, scientists have no satisfactory or universally accepted definition of life. While pondering this problem, I remembered my brother’s devotion to K’Nex roller coasters and my curiosity about the family cat. Why do we think of the former as inanimate and the latter as alive? In the end, aren’t they both machines? Granted, a cat is an incredibly complex machine capable of amazing behaviors that a K’Nex set could probably never mimic.

    But on the most fundamental level, what is the difference between an inanimate machine and a living one? Do people, cats, plants and other creatures belong in one category and K’Nex, computers, stars and rocks in another? My conclusion: No. In fact, I decided, life does not actually exist. Allow me to elaborate...
    (MORE - details)
     
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  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Well, it's satisfying to see I am not alone in my inquiry.
     
  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    leave us not to ignore/forget the beneficial skin microbiom which seems to communicate with the gut microbiom.
    The skin microbiom seems symbiotic and has protecting the host as a good part of their raison d'etre.
    I think that the common overuse of antibiotic soaps and detergents is much like "throwing the baby out with the bath water".
     
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  19. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Actually, it closes a perspective that we've been using successfully for years.
     
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  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps it modifies it in that it may include organisms that have been excluded heretofore, like viruses.
     
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    And we enter the world of chemical communication to control the bad bacteria as well as stimulate the good bacteria, instead of just wantonly killing everything we consider as foreign to our existence.
     
  22. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    We don't need to exclude ourselves - and most other animals - just to include viruses. It makes more sense to just leave the viruses in a gray area.
     
  23. Dennis Tate Valued Senior Member

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    Wow!!!!!

    In my sixty one years I have never previously encountered this question before! This is definitely food for thought.
     

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