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How does the biologist determine whether a thing is living or nonliving?


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2007-06-16 23:18:09
2007-06-16 23:18:09

They look at it under a microscope and see if it has cells. Basically, if it has cells the it's alive. If it doesn't have cells it is considered nonliving. There are smaller archaebacteria that behave like small parts of cells. These are considered living too, because they have chemical bonds of RNA, which is the singular shorter form of DNA. There is evidence that viruses change with different hosts, but they are generally considered non-living. They are much smaller chemical chains (with some form of movement and reproduction) and do not come from cells through reproduction. They come from cells by 'hijacking' normal cells and inserting their small chemical chains into the cells' DNA or RNA. The cells and all its organic machines change to function like the virus and eventually collapse to spread the virus. If that's living, it sure beats staying inside typing so many hours with a cold.

Viruses are not complex enough to really change their movements or transmissions. They are like cancer in that they are cellular malfunctions, except they transmit to other hosts. They do change slightly, but biologists do not qualify this change as a property of life: they just look for cells.

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