> From: Robert Brooksbank <rab at sanger.ac.uk>
> Subject: Re: A thermodynamic approach to the virus as organism debate.
>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.
I like - a simple and elegant statement. Now distinguish viruses and
> 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.
Quite. Now for the Rybicki definition (honed by Hawking's recent
comment that computer viruses deserved consideration as lifeforms:
Life: a phenomenon assocaited with the replication of informational
Ed Rybicki, PhD
Dept Microbiology | ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za
University of Cape Town | phone: x27-21-650-3265
Private Bag, Rondebosch | fax: x27-21-650 4023
7700, South Africa |
WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html
"And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you"