>Furthermore such glib characterizations of the will of nucleic acid do
little to >increase the understanding of molecular biology by the general
public or >undergraduates.
How many of these people are aware that a T4 phage looks like a lunar
module? I bet many will remember the analogy. For nuc acid to have a
'propensity to replicate doesnot require 'will'. A spherical object has a
propensity to roll down an incline plane, while it doesnot have a 'will'
to roll down this plane. The Apollo was designed to 'dock' on the moon in
much the same way a T4 phage docks on a bacterium. Fortunately the Apollo
wasnot spherical in shape.
A propensity to replicate is a sufficent definition of a living organism
to some. It al depends on how you define life. By this definition,
computer viruses are alive as are human languages and cultures. The host
for a computer virus would be a computer while the host for languages and
cultures could arguably be human consciousness. (Languages nad cultures
use human consciousness to replicate and mutate.) While this is straying
from the concrete discussion of viruses, it is useful in creating a
context from which to answer the philosophical question: Are viruses
alive? Philosophical discussions of biology can be useful, if for no
other reason, just to exercise our brains.
Ken Plahn, Scientist JBNZ29A at prodigy.com