Being alive or dead may not be such a black and white matter. Via Discovery:
A new study reveals how death in organisms, including humans, spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole individual is dead. In certain cases, scientists may be able to stop the biochemical process that leads to this death wave, reviving the individual.
Researchers focused their analysis on worms, which surprisingly possess mechanisms that are similar to those that are active in mammals. A remarkable feature of worms is that, as they die, the spread of death through their bodies can easily be seen under magnification. It’s a fluorescent blue light caused by necrosis, or the cell death pathway. This, in turn, is dependent upon calcium signaling.
The individual cell deaths trigger a chemical reaction that leads to the breakdown of cell components and a build-up of molecular debris. If this goes on unchecked, the individual is toast.