Life is a state of matter with primary emergent properties such as self- programmability (genopsych), consciousness and free will, the origin of which is traceable to the genome. What mind is to brain is as genopsych is to genome. If so it becomes instructive to think that the evolution of species driven by the genopsych is a conscious process.
<sec><para></para> <para></para> <para><bold></bold></para> <para><bold>Introduction</bold></para> <para>What is life? It appears that science <bold><sup></sup></bold> is yet to provide a precise definition of “life”. Interestingly both living and non- living systems obey the same laws of chemistry and physics. During 1980 Philip C Hanawalt <bold><sup></sup></bold> wrote, “The molecules in the cells are guided by the same basic laws of chemistry and physics that apply throughout the universe … The mystery lies rather in the programmed coordination of the myriad of chemical reactions necessary for metabolic activity of the cells”. On the other hand Libb Thims questions <bold><sup></sup></bold>, “Life: a Defunct Scientific Theory?”</para> <para></para> <para><bold>Life and death</bold></para> <para>What happens when someone dies of heart attack? The blood circulation stops as the heart which pumps the blood as a self -controlled process stops. Breathing another self -controlled physiological process stops. As a result oxygen supply to the brain stops leading to the failure of the brain. Brain failure switches off “brain based consciousness”. The patient in this state can no more decide on anything that is he no more has the free will. Let us suppose <bold><sup></sup></bold> that we can describe the state of this man before the heart attack that is when he is in the state of life as f (L) and his state after he is just dead as f (D). Let us suppose that,</para> <para>f (L) – f (D) = f (g)</para> <para>where f (g) may have values from 0 to x. Libb Thims position is correct if f (g) =0 and if f (g) is not 0 then the states of ‘life’ and ‘death’ of the man are different. If the states of ‘life’ and ‘death’ are different then the body [matter] in these states must have properties that can describe the states. What we observe when someone dies is the stoppage of programmed coordination of several self- controlled physiological processes (that is self- programmability), loss of consciousness and free will. Hence the properties “self -programmability”, “consciousness” and “free will” distinguish the state of ‘life’ from the state of ‘death’. Once the body shifts its state from life to death, entropy over powers in the absence of self -programmability and the body starts getting degenerated. It is construed that ‘Life’ is a state of the matter with distinct emergent properties such as self -programmability, consciousness and free will. Importantly the change of state from “life” to “death” is irreversible.</para> <para>Syamala Hari suggests <bold><sup>[5, 6]</sup></bold> three fundamental differences between “the life” and “the lifeless” systems such as 1) Information in a living brain is different from any of its representations used for its storage or communication. 2) There cannot be self-awareness in lifeless matter, not even in intelligent computers of today. 3) Inductive Reasoning takes place in human brains but not in computers and the causality associated with inductive reasoning is different from the causality described in the well-known causality principle.</para> <para>JC Bose explains <bold><sup></sup></bold> that while both physical and living systems respond to external stimuli, living systems respond to “internal stimulus of will”.</para> <para>Consciousness is essentially self- awareness. A system to be aware of it- self must not only be able to isolate itself from its surroundings but also be aware of the structures/ processes that are internal to the system. The criteria <bold><sup></sup></bold> for self –awareness is: A system to be aware of it self must exist simultaneously in two or more interacting/ communicating/ sensing states that can act in tandem. The Brain – Mind is an example.</para> <para>Then what is mind? Is it simply an image just like our own image in a mirror? There are situations where the role of mind can be perceived as distinct from the brain (neo-cortex). The study <bold><sup></sup></bold> of placebo effect is one such case. For example 70% of people in treatment group (suffering from depression) get better after they are administered with an anti- depressant drug which causes a change in the brain chemistry. If one looks at the control (matching) group (also suffering from depression) 35% get better, who were administered just with placebo (an inert sugar pill). Both groups are unaware of what they were given. While treatment group was given the actual medicine, the control group was given just hope which cured 35% of the patients. What should we conclude? Mere hope can cure 35% while medicine may cure another 35% and hence 70% in the treatment group got better. Placebo is an effect of hope, i.e. positive psychology (thinking).</para> <para></para> <para>Hope (the will to survive) belongs to mind. It is said <bold><sup></sup></bold> that placebo effect is associated with an increase in the endorphin level. Thus the mind, an abstract thing can cause a change in the brain chemistry. The point is that brain has “self -healing” property/capacity (or self- ordering/programming property) and this property is Mind. Thus the self -image created by the brain is not same as image in a mirror. Mind and Brain interact/ communicate with each other which cause self- awareness. The brain generated “self” image or the sum of the images (that is mind) is ephemeral for the existence of mind is dependent on brain. Thus the brain based /generated consciousness too is ephemeral. Mind in a way is the software that runs brain.</para> <para></para> <para><bold>Genomic Processes</bold></para> <para>Genome by definition is sufficient quantity of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that can describe an organism. DNA molecules show extra ordinary properties of self -replication and self- repair. Craig Venter’s team of scientists synthesized <bold><sup></sup></bold> the genome of <italic>Mycoplasma mycoides</italic> and transplanted into <italic>Mycoplasma capricolum</italic> replacing its genome which resulted into the creation of new <italic>Mycoplasma mycoides</italic> cells that are controlled only by the synthetic chromosomes. The synthetic genome of <italic>Mycoplasma mycoides</italic> was not influenced by its surroundings, that is the cell environment of <italic>Mycoplasma capricolum</italic> but the genome of <italic>Mycoplasma mycoides</italic> created its own environment (cell structure of <italic>Mycoplasma mycoides</italic>) according to the information and programs contained by the genome of <italic>Mycoplasma mycoides</italic>. This is an unequivocal proof to say that genomic processes have primacy over cell processes.</para> <para>DNA molecules have adenine-thymine [AT] and guanine-cytosine [GC] nucleotide pairs fixed as sequences along the twisted double helix. G is bound [triple bond] more strongly to C than A to [double bond] T and hence we expect the presence of more GC pairs as favored by chemical thermodynamics which surprisingly is not the case. If GC and AT pairs are sequenced randomly then we expect GC and AT pairs to be at 50% each. This is also not the case. In fact the GC pair content in higher organism is in the range of 40% to 45% only. To maintain higher content of AT pairs in the genome energy needs to be expended from outside the genome that is from the cell processes. The cell processes are controlled by the genome as we have seen from the experiments of Venter’s group. Thus the maintenance of higher content of AT pairs in the genome is due to the self – programmability of genome.</para> <para>Observing the effect of X rays on Chromosomes (of Nicotiana plants) Barbara McClintock wrote how genome responds <bold><sup></sup></bold> to challenge, “The conclusion seems inescapable that cells are able to sense the presence in their nuclei of ruptured ends of chromosomes and then activate a mechanism that will bring together and then unite these ends, one with the another.” She further wrote that cells have sensitivity to all that is going on within them. In other words, the genome responds to challenge as if it is self -aware/ conscious of what is happening within the cell. Further in a recent paper <bold><sup></sup></bold> it has been shown that an artificial neural net -work of DNA can show brain like behavior that is recalling memories based on in complete patterns.Recalling memories based on incomplete patterns requires application of inductive logic and genome being natural network of DNA is expected to use inductive logic like brain.</para> <para><bold>Summary</bold></para> <para>We have seen that genomic processes have primacy over cell processes and the non –spontaneous activity of maintaining high per cent of AT pairs in the genome of higher organism is due to the self – control (self- programmability) of the genome/cell. The mechanism of uniting of ruptured chromosomes in the nuclei of the cells indicates that genome/cell is self -aware that is conscious. The genome has all the features of the brain and in fact that genome is the spring head of brain. After all a single cell the embryo builds an entire human being including the brain. Obviously what is said <bold><sup> </sup></bold>about the brain is true to genome too as genome is the spring head of brain. The presence of gene replicas and DNA repeats in the genome satisfies the criteria for consciousness in physical terms. It is well known that “genes” can sense temperature <bold><sup></sup></bold>, “gene clocks” align <bold><sup></sup></bold> bio – rhythms that are internal to living organism with that of planetary – rhythms meaning that genes sense the time and location. The internal electronic structure <bold><sup></sup></bold> of DNA molecules suggests that DNA can act as sensor and can store information electronically also. Thus it is possible that a gene can sense its replica and <italic>vice versa </italic>which enables the gene and its replica to be “self- aware” simultaneously/ almost instantaneously.</para> <para>Thus the emergent primary properties of life, self- programmability, consciousness and free will originate from the genome and if so it becomes instructive to think <bold><sup></sup></bold> that “the drive and the direction of the process of evolution” of species are conscious processes.</para> <para></para> <para>As we may see genes, DNA, genome as a whole and body/ brain/ mind operate in nested hierarchy. This validates the basic theory of Gladyshev <bold><sup> </sup></bold>regarding “hierarchical thermodynamics”. Thus life is the state of matter wherein poly – hierarchical structures/ processes are constantly renewed.</para> <para><bold>Acknowledgement</bold>:</para> <para>This author is thankful to Prof. AK Purohit, Dr. SCS Rajan and Er. A Jagannadha Rao for their suggestions to improve the manuscript and to Prof. P Krishna Prasad and Prof. P Nirmala Devi for their encouragement.This author is thankful to Sri Sreenivasa Rao Subbanna for suggesting revision of the article including reference cited at 21.</para> <para><bold><italic>A version of this article titled “Life and Consciousness” is published – Journal of Indian Psychology, Vol-28, No 1&amp;2, January &amp; July, 2014.</italic></bold></para> <para><bold>Notes</bold></para>Entropy is a measure of “wasted/unused energy” or “disorder” in thermodynamics<bold><sup>[8, 9].</sup></bold><para>A system will show emergent properties that can’t be reduced to any of its elements. Several system characteristics are <bold><sup></sup></bold>: wholeness and interdependence (the whole is more than the sum of all parts), correlations, perceiving causes, chain of influence, hierarchy, supra systems and subsystems, self-regulation and control, goal-oriented, interchange with the environment, inputs/outputs, the need for balance/homeostasis, change and adaptability (morphogenesis) and equifinality: there are various ways to achieve goals.</para> <para></para> <para><bold>Reference</bold>:</para> <para>(1) Life, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life</para> <para>(2) Philip C Hanawalt, Protein Structure and Function: Assembly of Viruses and Ribosomes, The origin of life, Molecules to living cells, W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.1980.</para> <para>(3) Libb Thims, Life: a Defunct Scientific Theory? , Journal of Human Thermodynamics 2009 http://www.humanthermodynamics.com/JHT/Life_-_a_Defunct_Scientific_Theory.pdf</para> <para>(4) Sekhar, DMR. 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