Metabolic mutations help bacteria resist drug treatment

Bacteria have many ways to evade the antibiotics that we use against them. Each year, at least 2.8 million people in the United States develop an antibiotic-resistant infection, and more than 35,000 people die from such infections, ...

Cell death shines a light on the origins of complex life

Organelles continue to thrive after the cells within which they exist die, a team of University of Bristol scientists have found, overturning previous assumptions that organelles decay too quickly to be fossilized.

Experiments illuminate key component of plants' immune systems

Plants, like humans and animals, have over millions of years evolved complex immune systems that fend off invading pathogens. But unlike many animals, plants lack adaptive immunity conferred by antibodies. This means each ...

Acoustic waves can monitor stiffness of living cells

MIT engineers have devised a new, noninvasive way to measure the stiffness of living cells using acoustic waves. Their technique allows them to monitor single cells over several generations and investigate how stiffness changes ...

The full story on climate change requires the long view

The science is clear that human activities over the last century have contributed to greenhouse-like warming of the Earth's surface. Much of the global conversation around climate change fixates on what individual countries ...

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Death

Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that define a living organism. It refers to both a particular event and to the condition that results thereby. The true nature of the latter has for millennia been a central concern of the world's religious traditions and of philosophical enquiry. Many religions maintain faith in either some kind of afterlife or reincarnation. The effect of physical death on any possible mind or soul remains for many an open question.

Animals almost without exception (see hydra) die in due course from senescence. Intervening phenomena which commonly bring death earlier include malnutrition, predation, disease, accidents resulting in terminal physical injury, or, in extreme circumstances, grave ecosystem disruption. Intentional human activity causing death includes suicide, homicide, and war. Roughly 150,000 people die each day across the globe. Death in the natural world can also occur as an indirect result of human activity: an increasing cause of species depletion in recent times has been destruction of ecological systems as a consequence of the widening spread of industrial technology.

Death in this context is now seen as less an event than a process: conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible. Where in the process a dividing line is drawn between life and death depends on factors beyond the presence or absence of vital signs. In general, clinical death is neither necessary nor sufficient for a determination of legal death. A patient with working heart and lungs determined to be brain dead can be pronounced legally dead without clinical death occurring. Precise medical definition of death, in other words, becomes more problematic, paradoxically, as scientific knowledge and technology advance.

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