Are viruses and fire considered living things?

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Inb4loludumb.

Anyway, both a virus and fire are inactive, but once given a host/something to burn, they spark to life. So can fire/a virus be defined as living things. Both, or at least fire, need oxygen to survive like us c:

 
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They can be acceptable as living things, yes. It depends on which definition of living thing, you are using.

We don’t have a single definition for what life is. Every attempt made to narrow it down into a single definition has met with exceptions. Viruses as you point out are a very tough one. They’re little more than free-floating protein strings encapsulating a DNA chain, but they behave like parasitic life forms. Life forms that are dead most of the time.

 
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Fire is not alive.

Now, if you’re referring to Fire Elementals, as per a certain argument in another thread, then it depends on the setting you use.

But whatever the case, you can’t burn a fire elemental.

 
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it can fit the definition of “being alive” as such. but not any contextual definition of life. it is not psychologically alive, nor is it biologically alive. it is not a “life form”. that counts for fire and computer virusses.

a virus of course is a life form. it’s just not organic (though made up of organic matter).

 
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There are 5 criteria for life. I’m not sure if I can remember them all, but they’re something like universal genetic code, reproduction, response to stimuli, grows/develops, and uses resources. Fire reproduces, responds to stimuli, grows, and uses resources, but it doesn’t have a universal genetic code. Viruses have a code and reproduce, but lack other traits.

 
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Originally posted by DrOctaganapus2:

Inb4loludumb.

 
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so infertile people are not alive? red blood cells are not alive?

and what about proverbial use, like how ideas are alive?

also what if i make a computer virus, and code it with a “universal genetic code”?

 
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This is what I said before Omega, Ivan. We don’t have any one solid definition for life. Every time we try to give it a single set of criteria, we wind up with exceptions which are alive, but fall outside that set of criteria. We can only define it by saying it meets most of the criteri, but not necessarilly all.

This does of course mean that a chmical reaction such as fire, does indeed qualify as life, under such a definition.

Omega, a definition of life, does not have to include proverbial use. That would just be incredibly silly.

 
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maybe, but i still find it an insteresting idea, and a definition could also be made that would include such use, or some of it when it makes sense.

an idea, for instance, when it’s said to be “alive”, it is really similar to life in other ways we know it. it can grow, it can develop or adapt, it “responds to stimuli”, it can procreate, it consumes resources…

another thing btw, is that i think a useful solid definition of life should also suit any potential extra-terrestial life we may find out there, so we have an idea what to consider life and what to look for. hence, genetic make-up would be a dodgy requirement, because we’d need to define what to count as such which would be very difficult.
(not to mention that “genetic code” is kinda circular logic, since that is the very essence of biologic life; everything else is just tools controlled by the gene-strings. any definition of life should fit genetics by connotation, rather than have it as an element)

a kinda wide definition of life i had once suggested was something like ‘anything that can purposely interact with it’s surrounding to effect it’s own survival’. seems to fit “life form”, as well as the border between life and death. but it may be a little too inclusive.

as for fire…it looks like a life form, if you’re looking at the behavior of the flames of wild-fire. but then, the flames are only incedental results of the oxygenation process that happen to be visible. and oxygenation is just a process, that also happens when metal rusts, and inside any organism as an element of life.
perhaps a chain-reaction is not proper reproduction. if we count the potential, gravity-induced kinetic energy from altitude as a resource, falling domino stones are also “alive” if fire is.

 
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perhaps a chain-reaction is not proper reproduction.

Or perhaps it is. Give those genes the right environment and a fuel source they just keep on replicating ad infinitum. No brain required at all. This is actually rather interesting, I’d never thought about life in this way before.

 
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No, acknowledging that chemical and mechanical forces can produce complex behaviors without neural decision making is paramount to establishing that life can come from non-life. Virus’ are no more or less alive than a molecule of heart tissue is.

 
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a molecule of heart tissue is not alive. virusses are alive. it procreates, it Evolves, it is part of the food chain, and it can be killed, so it’s alive.

Or perhaps it is. Give those genes the right environment and a fuel source they just keep on replicating ad infinitum

well that would be a pretty wide definition of alive. it would basically include any process that doesn’t stop unless stopped by some interaction.

 
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Right, that was my point…

 
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As vika says, there is no one absolute definition of life. Even on this planet, we keep finding life where previously it was thought to be impossible (volcanic springs, glaciers etc.). Taking Omega’s point about extra terrestrials, there may come a point in the future when it becomes very important to be able to define it clearly. Who knows what sort of interesting apparent life forms our descendants may find in the most unexpected places. Is anyone here brave enough to suggest where lines might be drawn?

 
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viruses are not living things. They are like a program made to corrupt the cell. Fire isn’t a living thing.

 
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Originally posted by TheBSG:

No, acknowledging that chemical and mechanical forces can produce complex behaviors without neural decision making is paramount to establishing that life can come from non-life.

Technically it can. The original abiogenesis was essentially, precisely that. Therefore there must logically be bleed-over areas, proto-life definitions if you will, between some types of dynamic complex chemical reactions, and actual life itself. The problem is, we really don’t know where such definitions stand, and I really doubt the result is going to be as clear-cut as we would perhaps prefer.

 
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Referring to viruses, their programming puts them past the need for a brain. Their very basic programming is enough to have them reproduce (although not technically on their own). Viruses cannot technically reproduce on their own, but do not need artificial help to reproduce either. They need the resources of a cell to reproduce, much like we need the resource of food and water to maintain ourselves.

 
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there are many parasitic life-forms that cannot reproduce without a host, so clearly not needing a host is not prerequisite to being alive. also almost all life forms have no brain.

 
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Viruses are debated among the biological community as living or nonliving. As they are little more than a bunch of protein trying to replicate itself, but have a clear reproductive system, they get argued both ways.

Fire on the other hand is simply an exothermic chemical reaction that produces light as well.

 
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This is just a definitional question—the answer simply depends on your idea of what the word “life” means. So if you want an answer to the question you have to provide a definition of “life” that we can decide based on.

But one way or the other, our understanding of “viruses” will still be exactly the same, and they will have all the qualities that they had prior to us answering the question; we will simply categorize them differently.

 
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I get virus… but how fire?

 
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Originally posted by bjjdude:

I get virus… but how fire?

Fire needs Oxygen to live, and like a virus, it needs a host to thrive.

 
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I think my major distinction between virus’ not being technical life is that their entire function is simply based on their shape. Are levers and fulcrums alive? The wind? I think it’s a matter of mechanics. There is no decision making or alternative functions of the virus. It cannot react to changes in its environment (That is, the reactions aren’t caused by the environment mechanically, but a state change is made in order to avoid or encourage a particular thing from happening based on environment), and it cannot select hosts based on higher probability of infection. The “evolution” of a virus isn’t selection of any kind, as there are zero limiting factors besides availability of hosts. Virus’ are either replicating or they’re not, and the thing they’re replicating determines changes in the virus’ structure. All of these are mechanical processes that are only possible due to unselected shapes. A doorstop holding my door open doesn’t need to be alive to have mechanical function, and many things can accidentally fall in front of the door. Simply because these door jams’ shape means that they almost always end up in doors doesn’t mean they’re alive for fulfilling that mechanical purpose without effect.

The boulders rolling through the salt planes are not alive, but their shape and situation provides unpredictable variations that could easily be misconstrued as cognition. Where a tree’s roots grow in the direction of nutrients and sometimes even deliberately attempt to overtake the roots system of a nearby plant, a virus simply replicates and only replicates over and over again. The tree doesn’t just grow roots willy nilly, that’d cost way too much energy.

The one thing that we can say about proto-life like virus’ though is that it explains a certain fundamental flaw we have about the idea of life: All of our adaptations and evolved features are ostensibly a combination of these automated functions, simply designed with contingencies and comparison matrices made available by our brains. Our brain is a mechanical device too, and despite our assumption that it’s decisions are our own, it is entirely innate.

 
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If you subscribe to the Cell Theory than viruses are considered to be non-living, since all living organisms are composed of one or more cells , in correlation to the virus which is composed of no cells. The Cell Theory is just that, a theory and is subject to change.

 
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Originally posted by Cmurda:
The Cell Theory is just that, a theory and is subject to change.

Only if new evidence arises.

*insert wall of text explaining what theories actually are here *

/vika