a bacteriophage is typically 100 nm long (300 atoms)
one of thousands of highly efficient designs of virus
He also points out that there are 10power16 HIV viruses , of which only a tiny proportion have been discovered and it is almost certain that there will be an HIV virus resistant not only to every anti-viral drug we know about, but to any anti-viral drug that could conceivably be developed in the future.
Since last updating I have become aware of discoveries made over the last decade or so which affirm giant viruses many times the size of previously known ones. This is largely because the method of discovering new viruses relied on the assumption that they were too small to be trapped by a filter. It now transpires that there are giant viruses comparable in size and genetic complexity to bacteria. They also appear to manufacture DNA, not just RNA and there is every reason to suppose they are equally numerous. Some biologists are now proposing that totally new domains of life must have predated the oldest forms of microscopic life discovered to date. The complexity and richness of life 4 billion years ago, only shortly (in geological nuance) after the formation of the earth, is even greater than had been assumed and adds to the depth of the mystery of what lies behind such intelligent systems.
Because a virus has less goal-oriented complexity than a bacterium could it be that life started off as viruses? This seems logically impossible given that viruses depend on bacteria for their duplication. However, the bacterial, plant and animal kingdoms also depend on viruses. It has been proposed (speculated?), for instance, that speciation - the creation of new species from existing ones - is achieved by the incorporation by viruses of genetically coded beneficial traits from various species into the germ cell of one species to create a new species carrying these traits. The neo-Darwinian 'tree of life' model of evolution still included in text books is no longer given credence by the less dogma-driven evolutionary biologists and it would not surprise me if some mechanism based on what is known as horizontal gene transfer comes to be accepted by the majority, although even this would not explain the extraordinary purposeful irreducible complexity of the first life forms.
|Mimivirus (electron microscope image)|
(1018 genes, 0.4 microns diameter) to the elongated balloon shaped pithovirus (467 genes, 1.5 microns long).
In describing biomolecular phenomena biologists are forced to use words like
(The observed progressive evolution, with experimentation built in, right up to homo sapiens could, in my view, be envisaged as a something analogous to Michelangelo painting a masterpiece, but done by the Creator from outside of space-time. From our perspective this looks like a progress of events in time and space.)
Intelligence without brains
Natural technology: the bacterium