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A thermodynamic approach to the virus as organism debate.

Robert Brooksbank rab at sanger.ac.uk
Fri Jan 19 12:31:42 EST 1996

lansman at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU (Bob Lansman) wrote:
>        I have been very reluctant to enter this debate which brings out the
>dogmatist in all of us.  I think, though, it might be helpful to describe a
>living cell as the simplest existing structure which decreases entropy
>internally by extracting and degrading energy from its environment.  Viruses
>depend on living cells to accomplish that task for them and in that sense,
>we may be able to distinguish them from living cells.
>                        "If evolution becomes illegal only criminals will

I too have been reluctant to be drawn into this unanswerable question. It
all depends how you want to define "an organism", "life" etc. However I
do not see how the above concept helps, after all the infected cell is merely
the viruses environment from which energy is extracted. Clearly a virus is not
a cell in the usual sense of the word, but that doesn't stop it being a virus.

Rob Brooksbank 					The Sanger Centre,
email: rab at sanger.ac.uk				Hinxton Hall
phone: (01223) 494949				Cambridge
fax:   (01223) 494919				CB10 1RQ

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