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 am…one 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 see.