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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021 edited
     
    As parasites, viruses occupy a space somewhere between toxic chemicals and degenerate creatures that depend on other creatures. Viruses don’t have metabolisms, and so have little access to energy - they get what they need to reproduce by co-opting it from creatures that do have outside sources of energy. One might think of them as self-replicating poisons.
    Because they are parasitic we think they have always required actually living cells for their existence.

    Suppose it is the other way round. Maybe viruses are an early step on the way to actual, metabolising life. Perhaps in some primordial pond an early strand of RNA managed to assemble itself into a form that found it easier to steal stuff from other similar clumps than to collect stuff itself. Then things develop so that there are viruses that assemble themselves from raw materials, and others that parasitise them - no metabolism yet. When things develop enough that some virus finds it useful to get more energy from chemistry or sunlight and metabolism begins, the parasites are already there.

    If there’s any sense to this there should still be evidence that viruses can be parasites of other viruses and there is.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021 edited
     
    Well sure, what is it--about 8% of the human genome is viral in nature?

    And then there are prions...far more deadly than viruses and extremely difficult to destroy.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    If you look at it this way, maybe the search for extraterrestrial life shouldn't be focussing on metabolites in the soil or in atmospheres, but on some evidence of chemical self-assembly.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    Whether or not prions or viruses constitute "life" is an interesting question. If not life, then an interesting variety of chemical reactions--but then the same could be said of "life" in general.

    Perhaps we need to re-examine what we mean by "life".
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      CommentAuthorgoatcheez
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    https://www.cshl.edu/the-non-human-living-inside-of-you/#:~:text=The%20human%20genome%20contains%20billions,to%20have%20a%20viral%20origin.

    The human genome contains billions of pieces of information and around 22,000 genes, but not all of it is, strictly speaking, human. Eight percent of our DNA consists of remnants of ancient viruses, and another 40 percent is made up of repetitive strings of genetic letters that is also thought to have a viral origin.
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      CommentAuthorpcstru
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: AngusIf you look at it this way, maybe the search for extraterrestrial life shouldn't be focussing on metabolites in the soil or in atmospheres, but on some evidence of chemical self-assembly.

    ET invasion; why would they send improbably expensive city sized spaceships when they can just spew out a few molecules. HG wells had it wrong, they didn't send the bloody tripods who would die from our pathogens - they sent their pathogens.

    But then supernova must be like a dandelion, spreading the ignorant seed of life. The bright star in the sky that is an augur of what is to come ... in a few millions of years.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    I'm waiting for the blockbuster film "The Prion That Ate Chicago"...
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    I was wondering if there might be some type of spectroscopy that could detect these kinds of molecules, presumably in planetary atmospheres. Seems like others are on to the idea as well.

    https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/16120/rna-world-hypothesis-and-the-origin-of-life-astrochemistry-perspective#overview

    One thought: if there is a replicating molecule floating about in the atmosphere of some planet, and assuming you can detect emissions from molecules of such a general type, then maybe you should look for a narrow spectral line. The replicating molecule will constitute an excess population of all the same molecules, whereas the background presumably has many somewhat differing molecules.
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      CommentAuthorgoatcheez
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    Replication is likely endothermic.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    Somewhat like making magnets? Iron is cooled by magnetisation, but it takes energy to pull it off the magnetiser?
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      CommentAuthoraber0der
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021 edited
     
    Speculatius? I know them as speculaas cookies. Ask ping.

    (Don't like 'em much.)
    • CommentAuthorloreman
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    Viruses have magnetic fields
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    Do't tell Wee Don. He'll want to prescribe magnets.
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      CommentAuthoraber0der
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    Donnie is infected by Woo-ruses. Magnitudes more disingenuous.
    • CommentAuthorloreman
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    So does the magnetic field come with the self organization?
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      CommentAuthoraber0der
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2021
     
    The discovery of magnetism certainly has coincindenced with the unification of the workforces...
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      CommentAuthoraber0der
    • CommentTimeJan 6th 2021
     
    How do stomaches determine the right time to pass the kompost down the Cologne.
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      CommentAuthoraber0der
    • CommentTimeJan 6th 2021
     
    Posted By: AngusDo't tell Wee Don. He'll want to prescribe magnets.


    Or tremendously magnitudes...