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Unformatted text preview: Are Viruses Alive? Luis P. Villarreal Viruses require living cells in order to function. Once a virus has entered a living cell, it sheds its protein coat and gets to work replicating itself by commandeering the cells replication faculties. A virus does not really have a life cycle; its main goal is to survive and multiply. A virus can be killed, although it is extremely difficult to do so. Viruses can literally reassemble themselves after being destroyed, as long as the key parts remain. Not only can they come back to life, viruses can also effectively use the machinery of a dead cell for replication. Besides all that, a virus knows how to survive, and how to hide from cells that would kill it. In order for something to be killed, it has to be alive. Viruses, however, are tricky to classify as either living or non-living. A virus lives with the assistance of a living cell; it is technically not living just on its own. The question, though, is if the potential to live constitutes technically not living just on its own....
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