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If viruses did not exist, could anyone have conjured them up?
Posted on July 26, 2007 at 12:40 PM in Talmudic Questions, Teachers Corner | Permalink
Interesting question and superb answers so I'll try it from a different angle: suppose that viruses don't exist or we don't know of them, could we predict (conjure) the nature of viruses? Most top down viewpoints on life examine biological organization going from independent cells towards either hypothetical protocells or parasitic/symbiotic states. The mitochondrion would be the 'minimal' remnant of a cell. This orientation is natural, we are curious as to how cellular life evolved and hypotheses have been made on what a primitive or early cell might be like; these ideas are at least partly based on studying minimal cellular life or symbiotic organelles. The primitive life predicted from this standpoint might have a membrane and either metabolism or replication but wouldn't look like a virus or phage.
Therefore, if we hadn't found and understood viruses, it would be likely that we never would have guessed what they are like simply because viruses aren't the predicted minimal cellular life but something very different. A surprise, in other words, that was found as early as it was because of the diseases caused by viruses.
Thus, suppose that we didn't know about biological viruses but the computer age still happened. Would computer viruses have been invented? If so, would this have led to a prediction that biological analogues of computer viruses existed? Perhaps that is yet another Talmudic question.
John D. Trawick |
July 28, 2007 at 11:33 PM
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