Is a virus living?

Jay Mone' jmone at MARAUDER.MILLERSV.EDU
Mon Nov 9 11:57:38 EST 1998


Tracy,
I would agree with most of Bob Rose's comments.  Virologists refer to 
viruses as infectious or non-infectious, rather than alive or dead.
You of course will always have a problem with this since we really 
have no suitable definition of life.  This problem is not unlike 
comments made by a Supreme Court justice when asked to define 
pornography.  The answer was "I can't define it, but I know it when I 
see it."
The ability to replicate autonomously is a poor criteria, since many 
organisms are dependent on other organisms for life.
as you delve into this subject, also consider computer viruses.  These 
entities do everything that biological viruses do.  Are they alive?

Jay Mone'



More information about the Bioforum mailing list