A definition of life parody by Dr. Mallery - College of Arts and Sciences, University of Miami

V'GER  and  Life    

- is V'ger, the Cloud from Star Trek The Movie, Alive

What is V'GER - V'GER is NASA Voyager 1 & 2 satellites (mid 1970's class), sent to gather data on the solar system (NASA animated Voyager trip).  Voyager fell into a black hole ---> to other side of the universe, where a "machine planet" - felt a kindred spirit to V'GER - repaired it, in order to allow it to fulfill its prime directive, of GATHERING DATA and transmitting the data back to Earth.

In STAR TREK the Movie, V'GER, the energy cloud, amasses so much knowledge of the universe as it travels back to Earth, that it gained consciousness ....it became a life form..... the movie's author gives V'GER human-like qualities, which when examined may help us to define LIFE.  Let's take a look at some of these life qualities.

V'GER exhibited HUMAN-like qualities as ........

1) it kills... 3 Klingon warships, 1 space station, and 1 crew member (navigator Ilia)

2) it seeks knowledge ... seeks its creator on the 3rd planet;   it is looking for its creator,
    its own God.... not the carbon based units infecting Earth V'GER seeks to know, to feel...
    it is asking ..."Is that all there is?"

3) it has a consciousness... Spock senses thought patterns of perfect order

4) it has memory... kept a record of Voyager's journey back to Earth

5) it possessed curiosity... V'GER does not destroy the Enterprise, so that it may learn
    about carbon based units infecting the Enterprise

6) it has a sense of purpose... to survive and to join with creator

7) it has needs... it knows it has needs, but it doesn't know what it needs

8) it wants to feel... as a machine the sense of toucheludes it; V'GER wants to literally
    touch its creator

9) it thinks... asking the question "why"... a most human of living traits

10) a sense of religion... V'GER seeks to know, to feel;   it is asking ...
      "Is this all that I am?'      "Is there nothing more?"
Does the Star Trek Cloud, V'GER,

possess attributes of life & living systems?

1. Obey laws of Universe - transform energy -
seemingly yes...  for it took in energy and transformed it to other uses...... V'GER was able to emit energy (plasma energy) to scan objects; it emitted a tractor beam to pull Enterprise; it had force fields greater than that of Earth's sun;  movie shots always showing lightning discharges (like nerves pulses)?

2. has Organization -
had an object at its center (old Voyager satellite); it appears spherical in shape, is about ½ size of Earth, and had a boundary;  interior views showed lots of structure - "organelle-like" inner chambers with crystal-like appearances;  some chamber entrances looked like nuclear pores;  it had orifices that opened and closed; could see argue red globular structures defined as field coils for a massive imaging system (eyes)?

3. Origin - created by NASA to gather data on solar system

4. Metabolism - took in energy by gobbling up planets/energy and created shape/form in cloud?

5. Replicates - no evidence of a reproductive pattern?

6. Osmoregulates -
no evidence that it exchanges ions with its exterior boundary, but it sure exchanges energy, firing plasma energy probes from inside to outside; and the Enterprise did penetrate its boundary and move to its center.

7. Communication -
the electrical discharges appear as nerve pulses;   it sends out power scans (probes of plasma energy) to scan things: the Enterprise, navigator Ilia, other ships, etc...;  it sends signal (radio wave of 1,000,000 mHz) to Earth ......seeking reply from its creator;   Enterprise sends coded message that is said to be received & understood;  V'GER mind melds with Spock, who senses a feeling of puzzlement from V'GER?

8. Animation - moves across Universe on a direct heading to 3rd planet (Earth); has internal orifices - that open and close

9. Grow, Divide, Differentiate (Evolve) - only evidence that it grows, is that it got much bigger - from Voyager to planet size; ...it must have differentiated as well, for it changed from its Voyager shape into the Cloud; ....it does evolve into a new life form, a merging of man and machine: by merging with Captain Decker V'GER presumably evolves into as a species by gaining a human quality....., the ability of humans to leap beyond machine logic?

10. Dies - there is no evidence that it can die..... other tahn it merged with a human being and evolved into something else, and thus ceased to exist as V'ger.

                            A novel idea.....

          V'GER as a living entity,

For a movie cloud to have properties that we use to commonly describe living things, clearly demonstrates that there are very few absolute definitions in biology;   More commonly, there is an exception to every rule. There is no clear line between the living and the nonliving. Life seems to be defined by what we know, what we have seen before, and what we can 'grow in a petri dish'.... it's whatever we want to call it.

Keep an open mind, be inquisitive, and never accept anything as the only truth...
that is the way of the scientific method.


copyright © - Charles Mallery, Department of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124-4621

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