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What category are viruses in?

Itani
Posts: 32
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2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton

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Sosoconfused
Posts: 237
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2/24/2015 10:37:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM, Itani wrote:
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.

This is one of those amazingly convoluted questions that heavily depends on the definition of life. If your definition of life includes the consumption/excretion of resources and replication, then the answer is no. Viruses need a host to reproduce. The "parasite" analogy is perhaps exemplified in the definition of a Virus.

Viruses are certainly biological. Viruses have no structures to utilize energy, thus can't utilize sunlight etc... they are completely depended on the host cell for all their reproductive needs.

There are a few interesting new articles that suggest that viruses may actually be alive

http://www.nature.com...

http://news.discovery.com...

These are really interesting articles that challenge the conventional thinking that viruses aren't alive.
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,287
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2/24/2015 10:40:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM, Itani wrote:
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.

To simplify it to an absurd degree, viruses consist of at least two things:

1. The protein bits which make them up.

2. And genetic code which acts as instruction for building the protein bits which make them up.

Basically, your cells contain genetic material, which is like a giant instruction book for every protein that your body needs to function. The virus sidles up and 'sneaks' the protein which codes for its own pieces into the infected cell. That cell then begins to make the pieces of the virus, and to replicate the viruses genetic material as if it were its own. Eventually, new copies of the virus are assembled on the host cell's dime, and are released to target other cells.

Viruses are considered to exist at the edge of life, because they cannot reproduce, or even undergo metabolism on their own, and have no cellular structure, but are still capable of replication, natural selection, and evolution.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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2/25/2015 12:32:29 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Skepsikyma has already given a good account, Itani. We could think of viruses as organic nanobots, messing with other life processes and reproducing themselves along the way.

Nobody's sure yet where they came from. They might be little self-replicating machines from inside living cells, broken out and now doing their own thing. Or they might have formed independently -- or maybe both. But there's a huge diversity of them -- some believe that there's more genetic diversity in viruses than in any living material.

But not all are harmful. Many viruses eat bacteria; certain ecological processes benefit from viruses, viruses assist in creating genetic diversity in species, and science finds great value in them as tools too.
Itani
Posts: 32
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2/25/2015 8:51:00 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Wow, really interesting, thank you for all the information guys.

And about them "breaking out" of cells, that's a really interesting theory, RavDraba
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton

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PolyCarp
Posts: 63
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2/26/2015 3:04:18 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM, Itani wrote:
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.

I heard in high school that they are classified between living and dead. They fall into both definitions.

I don't understand why any better than you do though.
"Perhaps the atheist cannot find God for the same reason the thief cannot find a policeman"

--G.K Chesterton
Bennett91
Posts: 4,237
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2/26/2015 4:35:45 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:40:01 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM, Itani wrote:
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.

To simplify it to an absurd degree, viruses consist of at least two things:

1. The protein bits which make them up.

2. And genetic code which acts as instruction for building the protein bits which make them up.

Basically, your cells contain genetic material, which is like a giant instruction book for every protein that your body needs to function. The virus sidles up and 'sneaks' the protein which codes for its own pieces into the infected cell. That cell then begins to make the pieces of the virus, and to replicate the viruses genetic material as if it were its own. Eventually, new copies of the virus are assembled on the host cell's dime, and are released to target other cells.

Viruses are considered to exist at the edge of life, because they cannot reproduce, or even undergo metabolism on their own, and have no cellular structure, but are still capable of replication, natural selection, and evolution.

What do you think about the articles posted by sosoconfused? I think that maybe viruses are so alien we don't know how to call them "life". They do reproduce, just not like us. They just seem so very simple, honed to a simplistic function due to their high level of success. Viroids are even more extreme! Or primitive depending on your view.
Itani
Posts: 32
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2/27/2015 1:47:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
They're really interesting, if those studies are true, then viruses would have to be considered living, since they can only attack living things. But think about this: what if they can only attack living things and viruses, meaning that they're still separate from life.

You can look at them as extremely complex or extremely simple, depending on what you look at.
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton

🔯`51; Has science gone to far? `51;🔯
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,287
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3/2/2015 8:59:33 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/26/2015 4:35:45 AM, Bennett91 wrote:

What do you think about the articles posted by sosoconfused? I think that maybe viruses are so alien we don't know how to call them "life". They do reproduce, just not like us. They just seem so very simple, honed to a simplistic function due to their high level of success. Viroids are even more extreme! Or primitive depending on your view.

If anything, it shows that the idea of 'life' is a general concept which humans invented, and which does not entirely line up with nature, because nature is necessarily more complex then the systems which we come up with in order to organize it into something intelligible. The same can be said for the concept of species.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
debate_power
Posts: 726
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3/11/2015 4:44:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM, Itani wrote:
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.

They're nonliving materials.
You can call me Mark if you like.
PetersSmith
Posts: 5,860
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3/11/2015 4:50:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:16:25 PM, Itani wrote:
I've looked this up multiple times, but no one seems to know for sure. Are they nonliving, living, biological, nonbiological, do they need sunlight? And what, exactly, are they? And how do they evolve so quickly (if you can call it that)

This seems wierd, but I've come up with this: Viruses are the opposite of life which equals death. Since they don't necessarily need anything to "live" (or whatever it would be called) their only purpose is to destroy life. Unlike bacteria, which is essentially just very, very small parasites. They need to feed on their host, everything needs sunlight, water, something to make their energy (whether another animal/plant or direct sunlight) Viruses don't seem to need any of these things.

Viruses are non-living.
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Itani
Posts: 32
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3/12/2015 7:22:41 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/2/2015 8:59:33 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 2/26/2015 4:35:45 AM, Bennett91 wrote:

What do you think about the articles posted by sosoconfused? I think that maybe viruses are so alien we don't know how to call them "life". They do reproduce, just not like us. They just seem so very simple, honed to a simplistic function due to their high level of success. Viroids are even more extreme! Or primitive depending on your view.

If anything, it shows that the idea of 'life' is a general concept which humans invented, and which does not entirely line up with nature, because nature is necessarily more complex then the systems which we come up with in order to organize it into something intelligible. The same can be said for the concept of species.

I agree on that, especially about species, some of them just have different evolutionary traits, yet we separate them, even if they're just an evolved form, such as daphnia vs hooked daphnia which recently evolved from the regular daphnia, yet we call them a different species.
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton

🔯`51; Has science gone to far? `51;🔯