There are things done under the name of science which are ridiculous. But there is also stuff done which sounds funny but is really serious. Margaret Geller
You know what’s weird? Viruses, viruses are freaking weird. Ever since I was a kid in health class and we talked about the difference between viruses and bacteria. Bacteria I understand, that’s just another animal like me. It’s just doing it’s thing, living its little microscopic life trying to make baby bacterias. Killing it, though necessary, sometimes seems unfair.
In order to replicate, viruses must first hijack the reproductive equipment of a host cell, redirecting it to ‘photocopy’ the genetic code of the virus and seal it inside a newly formed container, known as the capsid. Without a host cell, the virus simply can’t replicate.
Viruses fail the second question for the same reason. Unlike other living organisms that can self-divide, splitting a single cell into two, viruses must ‘assemble’ themselves by taking control of the host cell, which manufactures and assembles the viral components.
Finally, a virus isn’t considered living because it doesn’t need to consume energy to survive, nor is it able to regulate its own temperature. Unlike living organisms that meet their energy needs by metabolic processes that supply energy-rich units of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of life, viruses can survive on nothing. In theory, a virus can drift around indefinitely until it contacts the right kind of cell for it to bind to and infect, thus creating more copies itself.
That’s FREAKING WEIRD! It’s like the kind of wacko stuff 1930’s pulp sci-fi writers would come up with then we’d all be gobsmacked when they turned out to be prophetic. Like something that came from outer space, not Mother Earth.
In order to simplify matters, I commissioned a soon to be world famous illustrator to show us how viruses work in cartoon form. I’m paying them in exposure. And ice cream.
Featured Image: Virus Daniel Lobo on Flickr, shared as public domain.