New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life


Date: March, 2018

Source: Quanta Magazine

Defining the boundary between living and non-living organism is a difficult matter in science. Conventionally, viruses are regarded as the boundary between the two because although, they have nucleic acids (DNA or RNA), they are very simple and unable to survive outside a host (infected cell). However, scientists have now discovered viruses that are far more complex, which makes them able to do many of the functions attributed to living organisms. This discovery is interesting because it blurs the supposed line separating living from non-living, and may point to the idea that life is an intrinsic property of matter.