Where do we go from here?

ScienceGeek Not at real.address
Mon Sep 29 11:23:32 EST 1997


In article <5vk67g$4hj at net.bio.net>, vdmerwea at intekom.co.za says...
>
>Hi, all!
>
>I have a special interest in virology, in the sense that I don't know ver=
>y
SNIP
>One thing that I could not get a satisfying answer for is this: Is a viru=
>s
>a living organism, or should we rather classify them as being very active=
>,
>biological entities, without assigning them "living" status (quite like
>prions)?
SNIP

It seems that you already agree that virus is a life form.  The conundrum is: 
does this make the virus alive?  It seems to me, that this then degenerates 
into a debate about what the word alive means.  Certainly in its chemical form 
a virus does not respire, eat, utilize ATP etc. therefore, in this state, it is 
not alive.  However, during the replication phase within a cell, the virus 
could be thought to do all of these things rather efficiently.  Viruses can 
certainly respond to their environment and adapt through evolution.  In fact, 
they are much more efficient than other conventional life forms in such 
processes.  Your question takes us back to the very definition of what life is. 
 Certainly until the 1940s the definition of life would have included constant 
growth and change.  Viruses never grow, they replicate.  By most measures, they 
do not change, although certainly changes on a molecular level are quite 
common.

Are viruses alive? Things considered alive eat, grow, and divide.  Viruses 
don't do this so I guess they are not alive.  Are viruses life forms? That 
would seem to be obvious.  Of course they are.






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