Publication 2004

Luisi P. L., Lazcano A. & Varela F. J. (1996) What is life? Defining life and the transition to life. In: Rizzotti M. (ed.) Defining Life: The central problem in theoretical biology. Padova University Press, Padua: 149–165. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/2004
A physical system can be said to be living if it is able to transform external energy/matter into an internal process of self-maintenance and self-generation. This common sense, macroscopic definition, finds its equivalent at the cellular level in the notion of autopoiesis. This can be generalized to describe the general pattern for minimal life, including artificial life. In real biological life the autopoietic network of reactions which leads to self-maintenance and self-generation is under the control of nucleic acid and the corresponding proteins.

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