Viruses nonliving?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by unorthodox, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

    My initial reaction to seeing that is it seems correct and reasonable (I am somewhat surprised). I'll of course think it through on the side (just to see if I can note any unexpected gotchas) but I must say I have a good feeling about that definition.
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Very little of the virus enters the target cell - no need for it to. Just a little fluid and the RNA - Again, it is much like the jelly fish stinger cell injecting toxin - very little of that cell enters the target.
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  5. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

    Billy T

    The point is that little bit of RNA IS the virus. Just as the DNA in your cells is you(as far as evolution is concerned). I would consider viruses alive, as they certainly do mutate and thus are subject to evolution. Prions are more of a question, but they are involved with the chemistry we call life. Another illustration of the smooth spectrum between complex chemistry and simple life.


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  7. Dr Mabuse Percipient Thaumaturgist Registered Senior Member

    Those virus that live hundreds of thousands to possibly millions of years are wild stuff.
  8. FTLinmedium Registered Senior Member

    If they do not catalyze creation of like information forms, then mere growth is irrelevant.

    And they are slightly alive while growing.

    Of course, it is no longer actively growing and reproducing its structure.
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    So rock candy sugar I made as a kid, growing on string in sugar saturated solution is alive too (or common salt while growing larger crystals) is too. What is your definition of "being alive" that includes these things?

    Much more reasonable to say water is alive (but false IMHO) as it grows large polymer molecules (nH2O) subdivides into shorter chains (rH2O & sH2O) where r+s = n. etc. as I explained in post 72:

    "... I.e. an ordinary water molecule, H2O, is polar with both protons (Hs) on the same side of the negative -O- (With angle of 105 degrees between the two Hs). As water is cooled, polymer chains develop. I.e. water at 4 C or lower is nH2O molecules where "n" is some small integer and n = 1 becomes increasingly rare as 0 C is approached.

    I´ll represent the polar isolated H2O molecule by (+2H,-O-). As the temperature cools, you get electrostatically bound chains like:
    (+2H,-O-)(+2H,-O-)(+2H,-O-)(+2H,-O-) ... (+2H,-O-)(+2H,-O-)
    These chains have some flexibility - are not linear as I illustrated, but sort of like a bowl full of half cooked spaghetti with voids between the tangle of chains. As temperature drops below 4C, which is the densest state of water, the typical value of n increase, i.e. the typical chain grows longer, and the void volume steadily increases.

    Thus, in the same sense as this article does, one can say: "Water is not alive, but does evolve" (with changing environment). ..."

    In fact without this unusal exapansion when cooling there would be no life on earth - rivers and oceans would freeze solid, from the bottom up to the top, but fortunately ice floats.

    Do you say water is alive? If not, why not? What if anything is NOT at least a little alive, from your POV.

    You talked about the "philosophically useless" of my definitions of life (as mine is arbitrary, as ALL definitions are). There is no more useless definition than one which defines "glup" or "life," so that everything that exist is glup or living. Those definitions are void of ANY content, philosophical or not!

    Again: Please define life.

    BTW, I forgot to mention water also self organizes into spheres around any ions dissolved in it. For example an Na+ ion will have about a dozen H2O molecules loosely bound to it with the negative Os of the H2O close to the Na and the positive Hs all pointing to the outside of the sphere. Water does many tricks. Is much more complex than a bunch of H2O molecules bouncing around.
  10. FTLinmedium Registered Senior Member

    Billy T,

    I defined life in almost every one of my posts and also explained the situation of water and crystals... You seem to have a fundamentally different concept of what I'm saying, and (I'm sure not deliberately), you're arguing with a straw man and reading some bizarre claims into my posts which I am not making.

    If you understand what Grumpy was saying, then understand that I'm saying essentially the same thing (I do not disagree with Grumpy with regards to chemical life).

    I don't know how to explain it differently- I would just reply in the same way I have been (by defining life again, and explaining the implications of the definition), but since that has not been successful in communicating the concept (and I don't know why), I don't know what to say to resolve the miscommunication.

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