What is life, anyway?

No, this is not some philsophical treatise.  Nature recently published a paper by a French team that discovered a virus that infects another virus.  (You probably don’t have access to Nature either, but keep reading, there is hope.)

Wait a minute:  Are viruses alive? They can’t reproduce on their own, so, some scientists argue, they are not really alive.  Viruses infect living things.  Well, then doesn’t a virus infecting a virus imply the host virus is alive?

What is life?  Do we have to redefine it, once again, again?

It’s turtles, all the way down, for some of us — but you, Dear Reader, should probably read a good description of the paper, over at Living the Scientific Life.

Oh — the name of the new thing?  It’s a satellite virus, sorta, and it looks right, so the team that discovered it calls it “Sputnik.”

2 Responses to What is life, anyway?

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    With any luck, the turtles themselves will be alternating layers of chocolate, caramel and nuts.


  2. zhoen says:

    I don’t think it’s turtles all the way, gotta be elephants on the turtles, to separate the layers…


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