Living virus?

Yersinia yersinia at CYBERNEX.NET
Mon Aug 24 16:30:27 EST 1998

Jay Mone'  writes:

<If you know that viruses are not alive, you're one step ahead of me.   I 
haven't come across a good definition of life yet, have you?>

1. In my virology class last fall, my professor did point out the 
existence of a controversy in the scientific community concerning whether 
viruses were considered living things or not, and that different 
scientists believed differently on the subject, on the following grounds: 

a. Some believe they're alive because they contain genetic material and 
reproduce true-to-form;
b. Some believe they're not alive because they are not *cells* (the cell 
being the smallest unit of life), and because they cannot reproduce 
without the "help" of their host cells.

2. If I may pick a philosophical bone with you: If, as you suggest, there 
is no good definition of life, then what is the science of biology? I 
know you're a microbiologist (supposedly the study of microscopic life), 
but what exactly is it YOU think you're studying? And, if you consider 
*yourself* to be alive, how do you know it without a definition? ;-)

FWIW, I believe that viruses are living obligate parasites.


FWIW, I believe that anything which contains DNA or RNA and reproduces 
true-to-form is alive. 

"Mycelium is Yourcelium"

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