Monday, March 5, 2012


I have had viruses on my mind a lot these days.  They are very peculiar creatures.  They have been the crux of the "what is life" debate.  People want to define life as something with a metabolism, something that can convert resources into energy.  Viruses do nothing of the such.  yet they bounce around our little world reeking havoc and mayhem like any other thing that is "alive".

Then I came across some ideas about viruses that really tickled my fancy.  They spoke loudly to me and so I have been taking these ideas further.  The idea I heard was what if a virus was just a bacteria that broke free of our bodies.  A rogue bacteria.  An organism that figured out how to exist by itself in this world without the aid of a lumbering giant body.  This is amazing to think about.

where my brain has taken this idea is what if the virus is the next step in evolution.  for the longest time the only way an organism could survive was to take the resources present in this world, and turn it into energy which would fuel every process that has evolved in continuing what we call life.  Viruses have broken free of this reliance on energy for life.  think about, our entire bodies are just huge elaborate machines that have evolved around the very simple concept of efficient energy production.  until now this energy has been the defining factor of an organism's fitness.  the amount it copies itself, the accuracy of its copies, and the length each copy survives all depend on energy production.  Viruses do everything a metabolic organism does without producing a single amount of energy.  They are the most effective replicators on this planet.  in terms of fitness, they are Baryshnikov.

 The way they replicate is by commandeering a energy producing entity and just using the hosts factory to produce its own offspring.  You could just say that a virus is just a leech, but it does all this without using any energy.  HOW?  That is the key!!!  it floats around until it comes into contact with something it likes, then it reacts.  how does it react?  it latches onto its buddy.  How does it latch on?  it injects its DNA.  How?  until now the only way to move was by producing energy that powered the parts that moved, the key was energy.  sperms move their tails which required energy.  bacteria move which requires energy.   How does a virus move without energy?

Now lets take it even further.  What if a virus figured out how to replicate without the need of a host organism. what if it could just replicate willy nilly.  How would the world change when there was an organism that no longer needed to produce energy to survive?  Viruses survive by parasitizing the metabolic functions of other organism, if it ceased the need for this and could survive by itself, there would no longer be a need for energy, meaning eating would be obsolete, meaning plants wouldn't be needed, meaning the sun wouldn't be needed, meaning the entire ecosystem that IS our world would become obsolete.

Energy produces heat.  Heat exists because of so much energy.  If life could continue without energy it only makes sense that heat would no longer be needed, thus diminishing.  The world would become cold.  The world has already been very cold once.  why was it cold?  was that the birth of the virus?  was the virus the only thing that survived because it  didn't rely on energy.  was the virus the only thing that survived the ice age?  does that mean we are descendants of viruses?  But viruses rely on us to replicate.

Questions to consider.

How does a virus latch onto its host if it doesn't produce the energy to move the parts used to latch on?

What stimulates the reaction of a virus to latch on to a host?

How does a virus "survive" when it is outside of a host? say for example being projected into the air when someone sneezes.

I have my ideas for these questions, but I would love to hear what anyone else has to offer.


  1. The van der Waals force can, I think, help answer these questions. It is "the sum of the attractive or repulsive forces between molecules (or between parts of the same molecule) other than those due to covalent bonds or to the electrostatic interaction of ions with one another or with neutral molecules." The virus uses the host cell to reproduce and again, it uses the host cell's energy to attach, inject, and release. The host cell has it's own energy it may be fooled into thinking the virus is something it wants to bond to. So, it allows the connection to be made. Then the chemical reaction which is the injection of the virus takes place. But how does the virus move around before finding the host cell? I think it's a combination of all the small energy forces from all the molecules around...gravity?... or temperature?

    I think the viruses survive outside the host the same way they survive with the host, only they don't do it as well. They don't thrive without the proper host. The viruses can stay alive for a few minutes or even hours depending on what kind of surface they end up on and the temperature of the surface/environment.

  2. I am still analyzing what you have said, but one idea I have does support its validity. Since Viruses rely on others energy to basically survive and replicate it would be at a huge disadvantage if say it replicated the same amount as the hosts in which it infects. but it doesn't. the virus is the smallest DNA bearing organism and with good cause. It has to replicate hundreds of times more than other organisms bigger than it because so many of them die during the floating around time in between each infection. I think possibly it has focused sooooooo much on just the sheer amount of replication copies, and completely ignored the other aspects of survival that it has forgone the development of energy producing parts.