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Is a Virus alive ?

Hello Oz

I just read your introduction here, and just wanted to comment that i'm really fascinated with the idea of individual cells in a larger organism making decisions...and love to ask folks who know something about viruses "well, are they alive?"...i think it's a biology analog to "can god make a rock so large he can't lift it?" but if you would like to share any musings, I'm all ears. Please "talk down to me", I have a liberal arts degree! :lol:

Well Mack - the first thing to say is that viruses are not cells. For lack of a better term, they are infectious particles. They do not have mitochondria for the production of ATP, or any other mechanism of energy production, so no, they are not alive. But the sheer idea of a particle that can control a cellular host's machinery for the sole purpose of it's own replication is absolutely fascinating - and hence my interest in them.

yeah, i think i was a bit vague in my first post. actually they are two different interesting ideas to me. a phys/anat teacher of mine in high school first mentioned cells making decisions. i raised my hand and interrupted the class to make sure that i had heard right. more recently i've really enjoyed the movie"death by design", which can't decide if it's an art film in the vein of koyaanisqatsi or baraka, or if it's an eighth grade health film. it's about programmed cell death.

anyway,for the virus idea, you seem more at peace with the idea that it is not alive yet evolves and "acts" in certain ways in order to reproduce itself than i am. i think it's weird, man, and it makes me wonder things like 'what is life' and 'what is consciousness'. i think the cellular decision making strikes me on a similar register. paradoxically it somehow makes sense to me that a single celled organism 'wants things' like food or light, but the idea of individual cells in an organism 'having their own ideas' is weird to me.

What's the plural of virus ?

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

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