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Author Topic: Why are there viruses in the first place?  (Read 22810 times)

Daniel

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« on: 13/12/2008 19:44:08 »
Daniel asked the Naked Scientists:

Why are there viruses in the first place?

Thanks!
What do you think?


 

Offline RD

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #1 on: 13/12/2008 22:16:19 »
There would have to be cells "in the first place", as viruses need to hijack cells to reproduce.

 

blakestyger

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #2 on: 14/12/2008 10:21:14 »
Daniel asked the Naked Scientists:
Why are there viruses in the first place?

That's a very good question.

However,asking of something 'why is it there?' suggests there should be a reason (that something's there) that could be discovered and a reason implies a design or plan. This is an argument from teleology which doesn't apply to evolutionary science.

So, there is no reason why they are there - they just are, they evolved.
 

Offline Don_1

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #3 on: 14/12/2008 13:36:55 »
I agree with blakestyger, you might just as well ask 'why are there humans?', as many do. Indeed why is there anything? But we and the viruses are here, and we all fit together in this incredible jigsaw puzzle of life.

We all have a role to play and in the end we are inter-dependant on each other.

If there were no predators, the herbivores would eat themselves to the point of famine.
 

blakestyger

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #4 on: 14/12/2008 14:06:49 »
We all have a role to play and in the end we are inter-dependant on each other.
If there were no predators, the herbivores would eat themselves to the point of famine.

Uh-oh - and you were doing so well. ;)

What role is that then? Role suggests a plan or design, teleology again. I'm a bit of a teleology-Nazi when it comes to evolution. Not too sure what you mean by the last bit - reproductive success is dependent upon adequate nutrition being available. Not being part of something's food chain wouldn't lead to uncontrolled expansion of numbers (some sharks for instance) - aplogies if I've misunderstood what you meant.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #5 on: 14/12/2008 17:09:17 »
It is extremely likely that the first life on Earth was a virus and that we are all, ultimately, descended from it. If that is the case then the answer is "If they weren't there, neither would we and you wouldn't be around to ask the question"
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #6 on: 14/12/2008 17:10:41 »
Quote
the herbivores would eat themselves

Autodinopophagy?  :P
 

Offline RD

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #7 on: 14/12/2008 18:23:16 »
It is extremely likely that the first life on Earth was a virus and that we are all, ultimately, descended from it. 

Viruses cannot reproduce without parasitizing cells. So cells must have existed before viruses.

(cf. a computer virus cannot exist without computers).

However human DNA is part viral ...
 
Quote
“Viral elements are a large part of the genetic material of almost all organisms,” said Dr. Sharp, who won a Nobel Prize for elucidating details of our genetic code. Base for nucleic base, he said, “we humans are well over 50 percent viral.”

Scientists initially dismissed the viral elements in our chromosomes as so much tagalong “junk DNA.” But more recently some researchers have proposed that higher organisms have in fact co-opted viral genes and reworked them into the source code for major biological innovations, according to Luis P. Villarreal, director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California, Irvine.

Some genes involved in the growth of the mammalian placenta, for example, have a distinctly viral character, as do genes underlying the recombinant powers of our adaptive immune system — precisely the part that helps us fight off viruses.

In fact, it may well have been through taking genomic tips from our viral tormentors that we became so adept at keeping them at bay.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/science/08angi.html?_r=1&em&ex=1199941200&en=3bd96f63379d275d&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #8 on: 14/12/2008 20:21:11 »
What I should have said is that it is likely that the first life on Earth developed from a virus.
 

Offline Don_1

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #9 on: 15/12/2008 08:44:41 »
We all have a role to play and in the end we are inter-dependant on each other.

Uh-oh - and you were doing so well. ;)

What role is that then? Role suggests a plan or design, teleology again. I'm a bit of a teleology-Nazi when it comes to evolution.

I should have put the word in inverted commas, no suggestion of 'plan' or 'design' was intended. "I'm a bit of a teleology-Nazi" No, just a bit of a FOG!

We all have a role to play and in the end we are inter-dependant on each other.
If there were no predators, the herbivores would eat themselves to the point of famine.

 Not too sure what you mean by the last bit - reproductive success is dependent upon adequate nutrition being available. Not being part of something's food chain wouldn't lead to uncontrolled expansion of numbers (some sharks for instance) - aplogies if I've misunderstood what you meant.

Can you be sure of this? There are instances (admitidly man induced) where the lack of predators requires culling of grazers to protect them from overpopulating their habitat. For example, at Woburn Abbey, Deer are culled. There may be sufficient grazing during the summer, but during the winter, with insufficient grazing available, they would risk destroying the entire tree population by eating the bark.
 

blakestyger

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #10 on: 15/12/2008 09:32:38 »
OK Don_1, but can you tell me one thing - what does FOG mean?

For the second point, I was referring to the wild. Where there is human intervention it all gets a bit skewed.
 

Offline Don_1

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #11 on: 15/12/2008 09:37:58 »
FOG = Club.

Current membership:
Don_1
dentstudent
blakestyger

New members always welcome!

FOG = Acronym - Finicky Old Git.
 

Offline dentstudent

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #12 on: 15/12/2008 09:43:15 »
Morning club members! We have a full-house today - what's first on the FOG agenda?
 

Offline dentstudent

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #13 on: 15/12/2008 09:45:30 »
Quote
the herbivores would eat themselves

Autodinopophagy?  :P

autotrophism?
 

Offline Don_1

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #14 on: 15/12/2008 09:55:28 »
Do the FOG members think we should have a tread dedicated to FOGGING?
 

Offline dentstudent

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #15 on: 15/12/2008 10:23:54 »
A tread? Is that an Irish piece of string?  :D

Our very own FOG thread, yes please!  [^]
 

Offline Don_1

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #16 on: 15/12/2008 13:13:12 »
A tread? Is that an Irish piece of string?  :D

Our very own FOG thread, yes please!  [^]

Well done sir, a nice FOG to start with!!!

Would you refering to Nth. Ireland or the Irish Republic?
 

Offline dentstudent

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #17 on: 15/12/2008 13:18:02 »
I thank you! I don't mind - I'm going to Dublin next year for the first time (twice in fact), so I'll plump for the Republic. Is it Eire?
 

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #18 on: 15/12/2008 14:08:41 »
Nice city is Dublin, to be sure. But I cannot understand why the souvenir shops continually play anti-English folk songs. There is no anti-English sentiment among the people, quote the opposite I would say. I think they are under the impression that it is expected.

You must visit the Guinness brewery. For the best pint go to Bewley's Hotel (near the Royal Dublin Society hall), Ballsbridge.
 

Offline dentstudent

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #19 on: 15/12/2008 14:14:44 »
Righto! I'll make sure that these points get put onto the meeting agenda! (As I'm organising it, this shouldn't be too much of a problem!)
 

Offline thelastman

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #20 on: 15/12/2008 14:45:56 »
Daniel asked the Naked Scientists:

Why are there viruses in the first place?

Thanks!
What do you think?

They like all form in the Universe represent a stable configuration.  Are you familiar with the Lorenz Attractor?  It's that Owl-eyed icon of Chaos Theory.  That figure represents a stable configuration (an attractor) of the underlying dynamics which is represented by a coupled set of three differential equations.  Now imagine the incomprehensible:  a Universe of virtually infinite dynamic possibilities.  This Universe too will have stable configurations of its dynamics giving rise to matter, stars, galaxies, and life.  It is the attractors created by the dynamics which gives rise to form in our world and is the fundamental reason viruses exist:  the dynamics created by their form are stable (do no fly apart).

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #21 on: 15/12/2008 17:57:15 »
A tread? Is that an Irish piece of string?  :D

Our very own FOG thread, yes please!  [^]

Well done sir, a nice FOG to start with!!!

Would you refering to Nth. Ireland or the Irish Republic?

There appears to be a lack of "be" between "you" and "referring". Also, Nth. Ireland? Surely, N. Ireland is the correct form. (FOG)
 

blakestyger

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #22 on: 15/12/2008 18:38:54 »
...I'm going to Dublin next year for the first time (twice in fact)...

How can you go for the first time twice? (FOG)

Do the FOG members think we should have a tread dedicated to FOGGING?

Perhaps FOGGING should be deployed as and when it is needed - a dedicated site would mean that those who would benefit most from FOGs would be able to avoid them.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #23 on: 16/12/2008 04:48:57 »
Do viruses 'die' if you burn them???
 
 

Offline dentstudent

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Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #24 on: 16/12/2008 07:34:25 »
A tread? Is that an Irish piece of string?  :D

Our very own FOG thread, yes please!  [^]

Well done sir, a nice FOG to start with!!!

Would you refering to Nth. Ireland or the Irish Republic?

There appears to be a lack of "be" between "you" and "referring". Also, Nth. Ireland? Surely, N. Ireland is the correct form. (FOG)

Well played sir! Good opening stand there.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Why are there viruses in the first place?
« Reply #24 on: 16/12/2008 07:34:25 »

 

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