Science: Simplest Life

The basic difference between the quick & the dead is ability to grow. Biologists feel that if they could understand growth, they might understand what life is. But growth in nature is complicated. Within a growing cell are hundreds, probably thousands of chemical compounds, their molecules weaving in & out, exchanging atoms and energy. Like a nation, the cell imports (absorbs), exports (excretes), and is influenced by its environment: the innumerable chemical substances in the plant or animal juices outside its frontiers.

To study the growth of such a cell is difficult; it involves too many factors. So forward-looking biologists are trying...

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