In the last post THE ILLUSION we have seen how lucky you are that you exist. However, from the quantum perspective, all possibilities exist at the same time, and hence it is not a miracle that you are here and reading this post, because in one of those possibilities you had to. So, next time when you are sad, just remember that there is another you somewhere, who is very very happy at that same time. We also saw that we do not know what is real, but we do know that what we think is real is not real! And, like all frequencies adds up to zero, all possible you (including all the you(s) made of antimatter), and all possible universes, adds up to no you and no universe at all. So, nothing exists, and all that exits in just an illusion.
Staying within the realm of illusion we can clearly distinguish between two things, one that we think are non-living, and the others whom we call as living. The distinction is so clear that even a child can recognise it. But, remember, when we call something as non-living, it is an interpretation of the data gathered through our senses. We know that are senses are incomplete and flawed. So, any interpretation of a flawed data is bound to be flawed.
|Through the microscope (left) and telescope (right)|
According to our ancestors everything is made of air, water, wood and fire, in different proportions; and according to us everything is made of strings, with different vibration patterns. Since the basic ingredients of everything are same, how come the living things separated from the non-living? Is there indeed such a distinct difference, or is the line of difference thinner than we think it is? There was a time when plants were considered non-living until 1899 when Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose proclaimed otherwise. Life has been found in extreme places like in the mid oceanic ridges. Life here exists without sunlight, supported by vented hydrothermal fluids driven by heat from magma chambers! Then, look at the viruses, are they living or non-living? So, where to draw the line?
First let us define a living thing. It is something that takes in nutrients, performs metabolism, excretes waste products, reproduce, die and also respond to stimuli. What one considers nutrient varies depending on who is taking in the nutrient. Pork Ribs can be poison to some, while to me it is finger-licking good. Sunlight, for example, is nutrient for a plant, but to us it is some thing that helps us tan our skin. Now once we intake the nutrients we convert it by complex chemical reactions to something more useful for our bodies. This process is called metabolism. This process creates other products that are useless for our bodies and hence we simple throw them out. The same thing is done by our planet earth; it eats sunlight and excretes heat. Consider our favourite twinkle twinkle little stars. They suck in hydrogen gas into their stomach (core), perform some chemical reactions, and then excrete the heavier atoms in form of stellar winds or violent stellar explosions. Taking in nutrients, performing metabolism and excreting waste products are not unique to us.
Now let us look at the cycle of birth and death. Reproduction does not mean sex; it is just creation of new ones. All some creatures have to do to reproduce is divide themselves into two, like amoebae. Some plants can grow new plants from their broken stems. Similarly, new stars can form by contraction of clouds of gases excreted from older stars. Sometimes planets can explode and reform into many smaller planets. Every star (or even planets) has a lifecycle from birth to death just like the things we consider living, the only difference is the time frame. So, the circle of birth and death is not a distinguishing criterion either.
The only possible thing we are left with, that distinguish living thing from non-living, is our sense of perception and the fact that we respond to stimuli. Sense of perception is different in different things. If we try to perceive the way bats do we will end up hitting the wall, and hence it cannot be a criterion for distinction. We can never be sure if our galaxy perceives in it’s own way or not, just like a bacteria inside your body is not sure of the fact that you perceive or not. Things respond to stimuli only if there is a need to respond. The earth has no need to respond when you walk over it just like the plants who does not slap you when you sit on its branches. Now think of the double-slit experiment we talked of in the last post. The electron responded to the presence of the observer. Does it feel? Does it perceive? What if the entire universe was alive in all possible scales? The laptop in which you are reading this blog is probably aware of your presence and is responding to your touch; just the timeframe of the response is so different that you do not notice!