Are Viruses Life Forms?

Essay by Gameunreal March 2006

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When we think of life, we usually think of the basics; Plants and Animals. It is, of course, much more complex than that. There is a massive amount of Kingdoms of living things, all different in many ways, all unique, but they all have one thing in common; The Cell.

The Virus, the focus of this paper, does not contain cells, and given it's size, it is not a cell. This is why, in my opinion, Viruses must not be considered living things.

But what is life? Many groups and induviduals have different opinions of what the qualities of living things are, but they are all generally the same.

The universal description is the following


MOTION -- does it seem to move under its own power? Does it move with some discernible purpose? (Toward food, away from heat, etc)

REPRODUCTION -- does it have some way of making more of itself, either through sexual reproduction or by budding or fissioning in some way?

CONSUMPTION -- does it eat or drink? Does it take in nutrients in one way or another in order to survive, grow, and eventually multiply?

GROWTH -- does the organism develop over time, increase in complexity, until it reaches a mature stage?

STIMULUS RESPONSE -- does the organism respond to external stimuli, i.e.

has a nervous system of some sort to detect external conditions?

(Newton Biological Resources: [University of Chicago Newton BBS])


This description shows the basic requirements of an organism to be considered 'living', and as you can see by the Italics, one requirement is met. The term reproduction, is also a very loose idea. If anything that reproduces can be considered alive, then one could easily state that Energy is alive, seeing as how energy is constantly replicating into true and...