Let me describe a hypothetical creature, a thought experiment to clarify the distinction between a machine and an organism, and perhaps you can come up with a name for it. It is based on the observation that flames share certain characteristics with living things: they have a “hunger” for food or fuel, and in some sense, they are constituted by what they consume. So why can’t we harness these characteristics to make a “living” machine?
Presumably we'd construct from metal, or from some sort of non-flammable material a body for our creature, something that houses the flames and channels them to create reactions more characteristic of an organism.
CONTEST QUESTION: What name would best capture the essence of this creature?
Also, I'd appreciate hearing you explain why this creature would NOT be living. What separates it from organisms?
Please submit your answers in comments to this post. Winners get special honors announced in a future post. I know nobody reads this blog, so maybe I'll set a deadline of one month, maybe two weeks if by some miracle I get a lot of good responses. We'll see how it goes....
Note: the photo of a mechanical soldier from Hellboy II: The Golden Army is just for interest. I'd be surprised if the creature I'm describing was what Guillermo del Toro had in mind, but images from the film did help me come up with this idea.