Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What is life? Are viruses alive?

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So I wanted to redo this one. The original didn't make any sense. I'll keep it one as

"unlisted" and can be accessed from here, link in description. But it should have been

like a side notes thing. So this is that, a more coherent form... of that entirely unqualified

conjecture. Viruses, the things that can give you a cold

or herpes, are basically just some DNA or RNA with a little something to protect them

and ... that's... it. They don't really do anything and most of them don't have any moving

parts. They work by: if they bump into a cell and the DNA enters, the components of the

cell will produce proteins from that viral DNA. Then those proteins will go on to form

more DNA in capsules, more viruses. There's tons of diversity with viruses, they infect

different cells in different ways and there can be proteins and other stuff in there too

in there too. But essentially viruses are just some DNA with a little delivery mechanism.

So if that's all they are... are they alive? What does it even mean to be alive, to be

an organism? I mean, I have this idea that I am me, I thing. Even though I'm

a butt load of cells. And all organisms on the planet, us, plants,

fungi, bacteria, protists, are all cells. 1 cell or lots of cells together. Except for viruses.

the virus. Which is why they're often considered to be not really alive.

If you just removed the DNA from a cell, it's wouldn't be considered alive, right?

But then again, none of the individual components of the cell would really be considered alive.

They can be in a shape that is unique and assembled by living systems. But enzymes,

cell membranes, ribosomes, nutrients, water. None of the stuff that's in there is alive

either. Life might not be a bunch of objects that

you can hold like that. Maybe it's what they do together that makes life life?

But if we look at the way each component interacts, we wouldn't see any phenomena that you wouldn't

be able to explain... studying physics or chemistry. What I mean is everything going

on happens predictably and just follows the fundamental physical properties of the atoms

like attraction and repulsion and different ways of bonding.

But the interesting thing taking place is, well it's kind of like a rube Goldberg machine.

Each aspect is inanimate, but each product of one interaction goes off and interacts

with another, and another and etcetera. In such a way that the system looks animated.

But this machine isn't alive. Where's the "life" happening? A rube Goldberg machine

behaves with potential energy, one bit setting off another bit. And when it's done... it's

done, until someone puts that energy back into it by resetting the bits.

In a cell, the machine is branching and elaborate in ways I couldn't begin to break down....

here represented by these lines with arrows. But some of the components are able to get

energy from light or chemicals and gather other molecules as nutrients. and in that

way they supply themselves with the tools to reset or remake the pieces and it continues

the motion on its own. Also another thing the cell machine can do

is assemble other machines that are structured very similar to the original. This is what

allows us not to just see the machine. But to continue to see the machine? Organisms

breaking down or getting eaten is pretty inevitable, if organisms didn't assemble new organisms

then all life would eventually end. Those seem to be the differences. It's like

a multi-branched, reproducing rube Goldberg machine that doesn't stop.

What do viruses fit in? Viruses can kind of show us how central DNA

is to the whole process. DNA isn't just another domino or cog in one stretch of the machine.

It stores the information for the structure of all the proteins of the cell. Since proteins

basically do or control or build everything in the cell, DNA controls what each component

looks like, so it sort of designs the whole machine and the processes it does.

Different DNA means different components and different processes.

That's why you can have a different set of instructions come in and code for different

proteins that do different things. In this case, just make more DNA in capsules.

Could you have that DNA come in and instruct the cell to do something else? Like let's

say the a virus came in and told a cell to make a bunch of enzymes or something. That's

fine I guess, that could theoretically exist. But then after, you would never see that virus

again. Just like with all DNA, viral DNA has to code for something that helps that DNA

reproduce or you won't see it anymore. It just so happens that there's plenty of

cells around for this viral DNA to interact with without ever needing to code for or keep

its own cell. And it works well as a "strategy" that DNA

can take. Viruses are one of, if not, the most numerous organism on the planet. If they

are an organism.... Are viruses alive?

Maybe virus itself is an object that doesn't live any more than any other cell component.

But a virus inside a cell is performing life just like the other components of that cell.

Are they an individual? I guess that depends. Is the code the individual? Such that any

set of DNA travelling and reproducing together is 1 organism. Is the code with the cell the

individual? since the cell is the smallest unit that performs life. Or is it about how

things are attached and that's why we can consider ourselves to be one organism. Same

with those trees that can be an entire forest large and thousands of years old since they've

all stemmed from the same cloning root system. I think "how things are attached" is the generally

accepted definition of the organism. But then where do viruses fit in? Is this

one organism and this another organism? How about now, is this an entirely new organism

or is this more analogous to a parasite infecting a host? Or is this just some special case

since viruses aren't alive at all so we don't even call them an organism.

Maybe trying to point out which of these sets of objects is alive as an individual life

form distracts from the processes that demonstrates what life is?

Maybe life is the cycling interactions and it doesn't matter how it's attached?

Viruses have a discrete set of DNA with genes that reproduce on their own incentives so

it's convenient to just call it an organism? Anyways, I don't know. I'm just talking outta

me butt. Let me know what your butts have to say in the comments.

....those blueprins aren't evolving. Keep in mind, it's not the DNA itself changing.

It's just the information: the order of nucleotides, that's being copied and changed. New DNA is

assembled with each new cell, and the old DNA eventually falls apart.

The thing that passes from one individual to the next, is the information, for the order

of the nucleotides. Overtime, the incidental and random changes in the sequence, and whatever

works long to reproduce again, results in all the different genomes and organisms we


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