• Question: What is the meaning of life????

    Asked by meganisium to Jon, Cathal, Daphne, Darren, Katherine on 12 Mar 2012. This question was also asked by bieberrocksduh.
    • Photo: Daphne Ng

      Daphne Ng answered on 10 Mar 2012:

      Wow… this question can be interpreted in 2 ways (not sure which is it that you mean). Let’s start with the scientific way.
      Life is defined by 7 characteristics.

      1. Living things need a source of energy. Non photosynthetic living things (e.g. animals) need to feed (i.e. eat) whereas plants and algae which photosynthesize can use energy from the Sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars. This energy is then used for growth and other life processes.

      2. Living things move. This is quite obvious in animals. However, some living things such as plants do not show obvious movement. But all living things have internal movement for transport of substances from 1 part of the body to another.

      3. Living things respire (breathe). Living things need to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide.

      4. Living things grow. As living things grow, they acquire more characteristics and become more complex. As mentioned earlier, energy is required for growth.

      5. Living things are able to remove waste from their bodies. That’s why you need to go to the toilet several times in a day!

      6. Living things react to changes around them. Living things react to light, touch, heat, cold and sound. This is important for survival during environmental changes.

      7. Living things reproduce. We are able to produce young. That’s why we all exist!

      These are the widely accepted characteristics of living things on Earth. Of course, as with Nature, there are exceptions to this. For example, viruses cannot reproduce on their own unless they infect a cell. As a result, some scientists don’t consider them to be living things. Another interesting question to ask is that if there is life in outer space, can we still use the same characteristics to decide if they are living things? Will the same characteristics apply to aliens from outer space as they do for living things on Earth? Can our definition of life apply across the universe?

      Now for the philosophical way of looking at the question.

      I think the meaning of life (why we are put on Earth for) differs from person to person. Some people see meaning in their religion, in their way of life or in what they do. Personally, the meaning of life for me is figuring out where I fit in human society and how I can contribute. And being a microbiologist helps me achieve that because it’s something I like doing and the knowledge gained from my research can someday contribute to solving some of the problems that we face.

      Ok, that was a long post…

    • Photo: Katherine Haxton

      Katherine Haxton answered on 10 Mar 2012:

      Excellent question…and the simple answer is I don’t know! How about:
      “To be content and leave the world a better place than when you entered it.”

    • Photo: Darren Logan

      Darren Logan answered on 10 Mar 2012:


      (ask your teacher why)

    • Photo: Cathal Breen

      Cathal Breen answered on 12 Mar 2012:

      I think Daphne has offered a really good answer to this. My interpretation of the meaning of life is about what are you contributing to that will affect you or others. What do you want out of your life? Go get it!

    • Photo: Jon Benton

      Jon Benton answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      whatever you make it to mean to you. However Daphne’s answer is terrific!!