Qu’est-ce que la vie ?
The first molecular biologists, Francis Crick and Jacques Monod, were not wrong when they said that the secret of life had been solved, and the characteristics of organisms explained. The question of life is no longer a mystery. But what remains to be understood is the way these well-defined characteristics have emerged, and been coupled. There has been a dramatic shift in the past fifty years: the question of life is no longer a search for principles of life, but a historical question. The question is no longer “What characteristics are found in organisms but not in inanimate objects?”, but “How were these characteristics progressively associated within objects that we call organisms?”.
This is a dramatic change, because it makes the question of life a scientific question, fully accessible to scientific enquiry. Life is on the way to being “naturalized”. And the most ambitious projects of synthetic biologists, such as those of Craig Venter, will probably be successful in the near future!
Michel Morange, The Resurrection of Life, Orig Life Evol Biosph (2010) 40:179-182
Pour info, Michel Morange définit dans le même article ce qu’il considère être les caractéristiques de la vie: « the capacity to reproduce, the permanent exchange of material and energy with the environment, complex macromolecular structures ».