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kgould's picture

so... what about the viruses?

So the whole time that we were discussing "what is life?" in class, my mind kept turning to one topic: viruses.

Because no one can really decide whether or not those little particles are considered "alive." Yeah, they have genetic material (improbable assembly?), yeah, they reproduce (only in a host cell, but reproduce none-the-less), and, to a limited degree, they respond to changes in the environment when inside an infected cell.

But viruses have no cellular composition and they can't metabolise on their own.

If viruses were considered "alive," would that change everyone's view of life? Would other seemingly "non-living" particles, like prions, also be considered candidates for "life?"

I'm just curious about other people's opinions and ideas. Does anyone lean one way or the other?


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