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reproduction (-1)

hajus (990255) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505617)

A lot of times in school, I was told viruses aren't alive because they can't reproduce. I always wondered if this would apply to eunichs or mule

Re:reproduction (3, Informative)

LiquidHAL (801263) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505655)

I'm pretty sure they can reproduce, else there would be no risk of spreading them and they'd all die out soon after coming into being.

So.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505665)

Now those fags with AIDS have to worry about their AIDS getting AIDS?

Re:reproduction (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505693)

A lot of times in school, I was told viruses aren't alive because they can't reproduce. I always wondered if this would apply to eunichs or mule/quote

Then that would explain why you are such a fucktard then. If I were you, I would go and ask for all of my money back from the school and find the fastest way to earn a darwin award.

Re:reproduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505699)

That is meant in the sense of an entire species, not individuals.

Re:reproduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506349)

Are you implying that mules aren't a species?

Re:reproduction (5, Informative)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505787)

The reason your school taught you that is because the definition of living usually taught in schools includes such characteristics as:

  1. Metabolic function
  2. Physical Growth
  3. Independent reproduction

just to name a few. Viruses don't possess any metabolic function (they use the host cells hijacked machinery), they don't grow (once created, they are essentially static objects until they bump into a cell), and they have no means of independent reproduction (again, the hijacked cells reproduce the virus).

On the other hand, many people simplify the definition of life to solely the ability to reproduce (independently or not), which makes viruses alive, but also makes prions alive, and makes it fairly easy for humans to "create life" in the form of self-reproducing machines.

Re:reproduction (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506013)

makes it fairly easy for humans to "create life" in the form of self-reproducing machines.

What's so easy about that? It's never been done! It would be a stupendous thing if it were.

Re:reproduction (4, Insightful)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506161)

What about computer viruses and worms? Some people argue that those are life, especially worms which are able to reproduce in their environment independently without a host.

Re:reproduction (5, Interesting)

conlaw (983784) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506319)

What about computer viruses and worms?

TaDa! This just in from Science Daily:

Alaa Abi-Haidar and Luis Rocha from the Department of Informatics, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, Portugal, will present a paper entitled Adaptive Spam Detection Inspired by the Immune System on Thursday 7 August. They will describe how in the same way as the vertebrate adaptive immune system learns to distinguish harmless from harmful substances, these principles can be applied to spam detection.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080806194601.htm

Re:reproduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506451)

You can design a robot that takes a robot body from a bin, a robot head from another bin, and combine them to "reproduce".

Re:reproduction (4, Interesting)

evolvearth (1187169) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505801)

That's pretty much why viruses aren't considered alive, as they only propagate by hijacking living organisms' replication machinery. Eunuchs are individuals, that the definition of life applies to species, not individuals. Mules can occasionally reproduce, but is rare and it's due to the unequal distribution of chromosomes in meiosis. This isn't why they would be consider alive, they are the offspring of organisms that are alive. It's just an anomaly of nature. All viruses are parasites that depend on a host's replicating machinery by definition, therefore cannot be considered living.

in school? (2, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505817)

you must be one of those students who are learning to write viruses...

here we go again (5, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505889)

A lot of times in school, I was told viruses aren't alive because they can't reproduce. I always wondered if this would apply to eunichs or mule.

For the debate over whether viruses are "alive" to make any sense, there has to be some literally essential difference between things that are alive and things that are not. The past 200 years or so of biology ought to have taught us that, contrary to what seemed evident to the ancients, there isn't any such essential difference. Organic matter is just a form of organization of inorganic manner. From the point of view of what the ancients knew, there was a huge gulf between everyday living beings and inert objects. From the point of view of what we know, there are many intermediate cases.

So, instead of wasting time trying to decide whether viruses are "really" alive or not, you should just accept the fact that our knowledge today is advanced enough to show that the question--which we inherited from people who knew less than we do--is flawed.

Re:here we go again (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505951)

There is a joke in there somewhere about you aptly demonstrating your similarity to a rock.

Re:here we go again (2, Insightful)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506147)

It takes time for these things to filter down to the education system because of their momentum and lag. I noticed in the early days of PC development it was almost a joke to listen to college professors talk about computer design. I recently took courses in molecular genetics and though it was good for the basics, it incorporated ideas like central dogma ( DNA - RNA ) that are also not completely true. The idea that there are self-catalyzing molecules is sufficient to define a perpetual loop. On this /. topic, ( V vs V ) it does lead into something which I have wondered about for some time, which is the chemical system underpinning of genetic life, which must surely exist in the protein world.

Re:here we go again (1)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506303)

...proteomics? functionalproteindesign/proteinengineering?
genetic-algorithms? converging search through a noisy space?

Re:reproduction (1, Interesting)

gamanimatron (1327245) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505899)

I don't see why this should have any effect on the living vs. undead debate for virii. Anything complex and successful enough to fool a cell into absorbing and then reproducing it seems like a perfectly reasonable target for other, less host-adapted things to hijack. If something like this hadn't already existed, I'm quite sure it would have come along sooner or later.

What would be really impressive is for someone to figure out how the adaptation occurred, and whether we should be afraid or not.

Re:reproduction (1)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506309)

.... life feeds on life ;) nobody here is pushing immortality so at some point you're going to succumb -- so why would you be afraid?

Re:reproduction (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506431)

Unfortunately, I think there are a good number of slashdotters that won't be able to "reproduce"

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505641)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
internet infected by goatse [goatse.cz]

cancer (2, Funny)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505647)

How long till these things are linked to stuff like cancer?

Re:cancer (4, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505653)

Only a few years ago.

Re:cancer (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505697)

Didn't you hear?, everything is linked to cancer or at least if you listen to the news thats what it seems like. "New Study: Breathing is linked to cancer!, researchers now say to breath less"

Re:cancer (5, Interesting)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505915)

Didn't you hear?, everything is linked to cancer or at least if you listen to the news thats what it seems like.

There was a very interesting editorial piece [canada.com] in my local newspaper today on pretty much this topic that deserves to be read by anyone working in health / safety / threat / etc. research.

The short point is that when every preliminary study, or even hypothesis, is presented by the news media in the same fashion as something that has stood up to rigourous testing (e.g., smoking causes cancer), people begin to filter out everything.

That being said, my short summary doesn't do the editorial piece justice.

Re:cancer (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506133)

That was a very interesting article, that article summed up all of my feelings on this topic

Re:cancer (4, Informative)

linuxbert (78156) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505763)

in fact Viruses have been linked to cancer. Human Pamplona Virus (HPV) is thought to be solely responsible for cases of cervical cancer. Hence the push to get them all vaccinated at a young age before they start having sex.

Re:cancer (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505989)

No, no! Human Pamplona virus is the one that makes seemingly healthy, sane people go running with the bulls!

Re:cancer (5, Informative)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506007)

Human Pamplona Virus (HPV) is thought to be solely responsible for cases of cervical cancer.

I believe you meant papilloma [wikipedia.org] (a virus that induces warts and similar growths), not Pamplona [wikipedia.org] (a town where you can be an idiot and get yourself gored by a bull).

Mal-2

Re:cancer (2, Funny)

spoop (952477) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506453)

Human Pamplona Virus? Is that the one that chases you through the streets?

Re:cancer (3, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505837)

HTLV-1 causes changes in gene expression resulting in adult t-cell leukemia. This year my advisor had a paper on this very research detailing some of the changes which are involved: http://www.jbc.org/cgi/content/abstract/277/51/49459 [jbc.org] basically the idea is that the virus in its attempt to replicate its self using cellular machinery alters the expression of specific genes, Tax, CREB and histones. better explained from my advisor: "HTLV-I Tax functions to short circuit the normal regulation of cell cycle progression by abrogating the need for mitogen stimulation and blocking checkpoint controls, resulting in unregulated initiation of S phase." in other words, the virus kicks out some of the cell regulatory controls that at least in part prevent it from becoming a cancer cell.

We call it 3 stooges syndrome and (3, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505651)

We call it 3 stooges syndrome and Mr. Burns has it.

Endlessly recusrive life definitions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505667)

"The fact that viruses can essentially get sick may change the debate over whether they are alive or not."

Ya ... to the debate over whether the viruses that make the viruses sick are alive or not.

Re:Endlessly recusrive life definitions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505747)

How about engineering a virus to infect a virus to destroy the virus. But if a virus is not alive, then that means I can send it over the internet to your computer to infect/cure you. But if they are alive then that wont work and I'll need to send it by mail.

Re:Endlessly recusrive life definitions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505861)

"The fact that viruses can essentially get sick may change the debate over whether they are alive or not."

Ya ... to the debate over whether the viruses that make the viruses sick are alive or not.

It's living viruses all the way down.

Re:Endlessly recusrive life definitions (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505941)

Next thing you know they will be studying to see if viruses have feelings and can feel suffeing. Then we will have bumper stickers saying "Save the viruses"

Re:Endlessly recusrive life definitions (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506211)

Well they probably don't make themselves sick. Is there a neverending chain of viruses making other viruses sick? I suppose a PO box could, in theory, break the chain..

Software Viri too? (1, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505711)

So are software viruses alive too? The only difference is that one replicates with code in binary, the other uses code in chain of molecules.

Re:Software Viri too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505765)

It would be an intersting strategy for McAfee et al to write virii themselves, infecting other virii. Definitely also an interesting project for the Sonoma State University [slashdot.org] .

Re:Software Viri too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505859)

Could this be a way for virophage computer viruses to rob other viruses "infection-share"?

Re:Software Viri too? (5, Informative)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505835)

So are software viruses alive too?

Obligatory link to an old paper: Eugene H. Spafford. Computer viruses as artificial life [carleton.ca] . Artificial Life, 1(3):249-265, 1994.

The short answer is "no," but it makes for an interesting read if you have some whiskey to drink while you're reading it.

Re:Software Viri too? (5, Funny)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505909)

The local phone book makes an interesting read if that's the excuse you need to relax with some good whikey

Re:Software Viri too? (4, Insightful)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505961)

I will accept nothing less than slashdot comments to read with my fine whisky.

Re:Software Viri too? (1)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506437)

Precisely. In fact, it's the story behind my sig.

Re:Software Viri too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505993)

Shush! Now how are we going to get the kids to pay for a liberal arts education?

Re:Software Viri too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506187)

Perhaps you should start up whikeypedia.org, the wiki for misspelled alcohols.

Re:Software Viri too? (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506369)

Seconded

Re:Software Viri too? (-1, Flamebait)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505901)

Software viruses catching virus isn't anything new.
I worked on this back in the mid-late 80's, where my own antivirus program (VScan) needed to be able to nest up several levels of infection.

Also note that the plural of virus isn't viri. Virus is a group noun like "money" and "slime". Most often you want to use "virus" for both singular and plural. Rarely, for speaking of groups, you may use "viruses".
A rule of thumb is that if you could say "moneys" or "slimes", use "viruses", otherwise use "virus".

Re:Software Viri too? (1)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506325)

monies.

Re:Software Viri too? (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506273)

Some might remember the idea of programming "good" software virii that would latch onto the "evil" ones and spread patches for malware all over the net...

"Viruses Infected By Viruses" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506357)

OH.. Oh.. ohhh.. ok. I read the headline and I said "Man! Again, another article about Windows Vista!"

Kidding!

That's not about computer viruses! (1)

JucaBlues (990708) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505743)

Since previous /. story was about the university malware professor, for a second I thought this story was talking about computer viruses infecting computer viruses. Would that be possible too?

Re:That's not about computer viruses! (2, Informative)

Jimbob The Mighty (1282418) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505807)

Since previous /. story was about the university malware professor, for a second I thought this story was talking about computer viruses infecting computer viruses. Would that be possible too?

Sure, there are plenty of software virii that can infect machines running Microsoft Windows...

Re:That's not about computer viruses! (1)

codeonezero (540302) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505813)

Why not. A computer virus is just a program. So it could be infected by another program (virus).

Re:That's not about computer viruses! (1)

Tom9729 (1134127) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505815)

Since previous /. story was about the university malware professor, for a second I thought this story was talking about computer viruses infecting computer viruses. Would that be possible too?

Almost anything is possible, but you probably already know that.

I don't know how well this fits into "viruses infecting viruses", but the first thing that came into my mind was the Sony rootkit being exploited.

I suppose that's a bit more like hackers infecting malware, but it's a start.

All your biomass are belong to us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505779)

Obligatory.

Symbiotic Virii? (1)

blargfgarg (1336081) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505785)

Any chance this new discovery will lead to the engineering of a symbiotic "virus", as in, an organism that lives within us and helps us out? If so our long-standing fight against microorganisms may turn into a friendship afterall. Fighting fire with fire, an anti-HIV would make a lot of people happy.

Re:Symbiotic Virii? (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505841)

You should look into what shit is made out of.

Re:Symbiotic Virii? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506367)

Yeah just what we need....a longer lifespan for the already too many people on this earth so we can rape and pilliage it for even longer!

Of Viruses and Fleas (4, Insightful)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505789)

Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum,
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

- Augustus de Morgan [wikipedia.org] , A Budget of Paradoxes

While I haven't heard of a virus hijacking another virus, I have heard of researchers hijacking viruses to do good things. [dailygalaxy.com]

Re:Of Viruses and Fleas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505879)

And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,

While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

So, it isn't turtles all the way down?

Re:Of Viruses and Fleas (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506311)

Hmmm... that got me thinking of "I am Ledgend" ... I think that premise started with the idea of hacking a virus to do "good things." I'd rather the scientist don't practice God, or at least if they do, they better take a whole lotta precautions before it comes back and bites someone in the butt.

It has probably (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505829)

been written by a student [slashdot.org] .

not alive (4, Interesting)

rritterson (588983) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505831)

No, they are not alive even if they can get sick. Viruses, even infected ones, cannot self-replicate as they require the use of a host and host machinery. If you can find me a self-templating virus, then we'd have an interesting discussion...

viruses infecting viruses is still cool though.

Re:not alive (4, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505943)

Neither can thousands of other parasitic species. All the same no one debates the status of all sorts of fungus and ferns and others who tap directly into the circulatory system and other facilities of their host and cannot survive or replicate without them.

If a true answer or classification as to whether viruses are alive or not comes about, I suspect it will be far more subtle and elegant.

Re:not alive (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506107)

Those parasitic species know how to do cellular reproduction. They also know how to metabolize stuff. They interact with their environment, even if that environment is another species. Virus are just reproduction machines. If RNA is the software of biology, the individual living things are the computers, and a virus is just a floppy disk that can't do anything until you stick it into the computer.

Actually, I think the whole issue is kind of meaningless. "Alive" is a concept we invented when it seemed pretty easy to tell living things from not-living things. Like all such concepts, it tends to break down as our knowledge of the world grows, and the old definitions become hard to apply. We just went through a similar issue with the word "planet".

Re:not alive (1)

impus (995219) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506091)

I suppose the Malaria parasite is not alive either.

Re:not alive (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506095)

Does anybody knowledgeable actually consider this "debate" interesting or important? It's a matter of semantics, surely no more interesting than the question of whether Pluto is a planet, which also got way more press attention than it was worth.

Re:not alive (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506149)

No, they are not alive even if they can get sick. Viruses, even infected ones, cannot self-replicate as they require the use of a host and host machinery.

So we don't live off our host (earth)?

We breathe the air around us, eat the plants/animals that surround us, make use of all the resources around us... I'd say the earth is, in a way, hosting us. Isn't it? ;-)

there's no easy answer (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506159)

Is a mule alive? It can't reproduce. Maybe you object because the mule is *made* of cells, each of which can reproduce, but your body is full of cells that can't reproduce, are they alive? What's reproduction got to do with being alive anyway? If you take a cell that can reproduce and mutate the gene that produces a necessary protein for the reproductive process, is the cell now dead? It can still metabolize, make other proteins and interact with its environment. When it no longer can, that's when we say it is dead. As such "living" already has a good definition, even if it isn't too strict, and that is the opposite of dead or, more precisely, "inert". Viruses are not just a package of DNA, (or RNA), they're also a system of proteins for delivering that package from cell to cell. A virus most definitely isn't "inert" in the same sense that a "dead" thing is. So if something isn't dead, what is it? Undead? We typically reserve that word for horror writers, and just say "alive".

I think the objectionable aspect of calling viruses "alive" comes from people thinking of viruses as "pure information", they're not. They're complex machines that can cause their own replication in their environment. Their environment just happens to be living cells, which are also complex machines that can cause their own replication in their environment.. To accept that a virus isn't alive because it needs its environment means you have to accept that a cell that requires a water environment isn't alive, or all multi-cellular organisms are not alive. Are mitochondria alive? Are the cells that require mitochondria alive? How about yeast? How about that mule?

Re:not alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506219)

However, bacteria are universally regarded as alive, but there are some types of bacteria that cannot reproduce without other bacteria.

Re:not alive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506279)

*I* can't self-replicate, and I'm alive.

Re:not alive (2, Funny)

BobNET (119675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506395)

*I* can't self-replicate, and I'm alive.

But you're on Slashdot, and therefore have no life.

Re:not alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506301)

Can we as humans replicate without some sort of host or mechanism. In order to reproduce we need an egg and fertilizer. Please explain further.

Re:not alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506383)

Well, you could argue that men need access to a host (and her machinery) in order to replicate...

There's the rub. (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506409)

I don't think life means what you think it means, but therin lies the rub. We do not even have a clear definition of 'life' that science can agree on. To me, if it's made of genetic material and proteins and has a survival strategy then it is alive.

Virus eating virus eating virus.... (5, Funny)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505895)

So a virus that attacks viruses eh? I wonder if there a virus that attacks the virus that attacks the viruses? And a virus that attacks the virus that attacks the virus that...er...well, you know what I mean. And what if the first virus evolves to attack the last virus....every time you get one of those mysterious unidentified itches it could just be a ring of viruses all chasing each other around in circles!

Re:Virus eating virus eating virus.... (1)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506405)

So like windows, norton & storm? They hate each other way more than they hate you.

Re:Virus eating virus eating virus.... (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506459)

Like a computerized perpetual motion...er...infecting machine?

How does this makes a virus living? (2, Informative)

Regeneratenl (1079101) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505907)

according to the definition of life [wikipedia.org] 'getting infected by a virus' doesn't make you a living organism...

Re:How does this makes a virus living? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506377)

"There is no universal definition of life; there are a variety of definitions proposed by different scientists. To define life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge for scientists."

important medical discovery (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24505921)

To me, the issue of how to define "life" is only a small side note to this discovery.

Far more important are the consequences for medicine. Viruses can be attacked by other viruses. This is huge. Compared to bacteria, viruses have been very difficult to beat. Infectious bacteria can be combated by using anti-biotics, bacterio-phages and other means. Whereas viruses are significantly more hardy, and combating them directly is difficult. But this discovery opens the door to engineering virophages to attack viruses in our bodies that make us sick.

Infect a Virus with a Virus on Purpose? (1)

ryanleary (805532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24505983)

Could this mean that there could some day be the potential for crafting a virus, with the intent of infecting another virus to potentially destroy it? Something like this would probably have the potential to do more harm than good, but maybe this is a new way to look at potential treatments?

Re:Infect a Virus with a Virus on Purpose? (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506015)

Could this mean that there could some day be the potential for crafting a virus, with the intent of infecting another virus to potentially destroy it? Something like this would probably have the potential to do more harm than good, but maybe this is a new way to look at potential treatments?

Better to send in the nanobots - they will be much more predictable.

Re:Infect a Virus with a Virus on Purpose? (2)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506263)

I recall some reading about testing (I'm guessing a year or so ago) about the use of the virus in fighting cancer. I can't find the exact article in question but I did find this.

Cancer-fighting virus shows promise in early clinical trial:
http://www.physorg.com/news103082669.html [physorg.com]

The virus, called NV1020, is a type of herpes simplex virus modified so that it selectively replicates in virus cells, killing them in the process.

This was in July of 2007 it would seem.

this dichotomy is ludicrous (2, Interesting)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506005)

saying something is "alive" or "not alive" holds about as much weight as saying it's a "froodle doo". if the definition is standardized it should be easy to define: if not, what does it matter what we call it as long as we know what it does? attempting to apply terms that apply well to one group, from species to kingdom, to another group almost always ends in failure for this reason.

shame on the virologist for perpetuating this craziness. the real cool part about this finding is its possible medical applications.

Re:this dichotomy is ludicrous (0, Flamebait)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506131)

saying something is "alive" or "not alive" holds about as much weight as saying it's a "froodle doo"

The way I see it, life (and "awareness" too, for that matter) is a degree, not a binary. Higher life forms are more alive than bacteria, which in turn are more alive than viruses, which are more alive than iron oxide.
Why try to make a definition that neatly divides things into alive and not? What philosophical interest does it have? Reinforcing religion, perhaps?

In the words of the philosopher Nelson.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506027)

Ha-Ha!

summary = wrong (5, Informative)

fatduck (961824) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506073)

Summary is totally misleading. The story isn't about viruses "getting sick" - it's about a certain type of satellite virus (not new) that can only infect a host that is already infected by another virus. Essentially the satellite virus is competing with the original virus for metabolites. The discovery here is that for the first time a satellite virus is competing for these resources to such an extent that it is actually destroying the original virus.

Viruses are alive (1)

Mike610544 (578872) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506127)

A lot of people have an innate discomfort with the idea that we are merely more sophisticated versions of something so simple and mechanical. I've always though viruses should be considered life because most of the counter arguments I've read are really weak, but they persist because of that bias.

They don't 'get sick'... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506143)

that's anthropomorphizing it. Better to say they can have their replication machinery disrupted by another replicator.

Classical definiton of Living Organism (1)

Tuqui (96668) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506175)

For the classical definition of Living Organism, the virus are not alive; but is that definition correct? Virus contains DNA and reproduce by theyself. Although Don't eat, don't grow. But is not just an death element.
Even the prions are "quasi-quasi-living" proteins, no DNA, but make other cell reproduce copies of they.
Well any good definition to Living Organism?.

Re:Classical definiton of Living Organism (3, Funny)

jasonmanley (921037) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506389)

Somewhere in the world a grammar nazi just had a stroke at their keyboard.

viruses (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506205)

will this help in a fight against aids/hiv? c'mon people.

Medical Aplications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24506209)

The interesting thing is whether we can use this in medicine. Can we create `counter viruses' to slow down the spread of, say, AIDS?

Oh, you mean the real thing (1)

fireheadca (853580) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506295)

I read this as programmer ingenuity...(starts to open big books....)

-_- (1)

ndnspongebob (942859) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506317)

I hope it wasn't an STD!

Implications for HIV? (1)

JackassJedi (1263412) | more than 5 years ago | (#24506385)

Could this have any implications for HIV? Sickening the HIV viruses so they die off in a host's body?
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