The Attack of The Retrovirus

For centuries the virus has plagued human existence, quit literally. The mere hearing of the word virus had people conjuring up thoughts of hazmat suits and quarantine. Maybe it brought up images of scenes from movies like Contagion or outbreak where a single animal has released a deadly virus. While many of these thoughts about viruses are warranted they don’t show all the facts. Like any good story there are always two sides.

As we all know Darwin was well known for his progressive ideas about evolution and the proposition of a common ancestor. Darwin’s main focus however was on how the environmental factors affect organisms and their perpetuation throughout time. He did not anticipate or have knowledge of the position viruses would play on organisms. While he was not aware of this  His ideas were further proven through the context of this article. Another interesting fact brought up by this article was the existence of mammals as a whole and how the placenta was developed. It is ronic that what gives us our earliest forms of life and nourishment is developed by the very thing that has the potential to take it all away.

The most surprising and interesting part of this article was the length of time in which these retroviruses have been inside an organism’s. It was astounding to me that something that seems so dangerous could be inactive inside organisms for millions of thousands of years. I am also fascinated by the procedure of reconstructing a once dead virus back to “life”. As mentioned in the article by molecular biologist John Coffin “the idea of bringing something dead back to life is fundamentally frightening,” I have strong beliefs about that things happen for a reason and that includes the death of lethal viruses. However this new discovery has opened so many doors for knowledge and understanding of things that people couldn’t have even  imagined. Well except for Linus Pauling of course.

Darwin’s Surprise was a very interesting take on what a virus really is versus what it represents to society. As mentioned above society has some pretty jaded thoughts on what a virus is, and based on what people have witnessed who can blame them. Cancer and HIV have killed millions of people and there is still no true cure. However with the advances shown through this article we are getting closer and closer. And who knows maybe a new movie about viruses will come out and change peoples outlook on what they are inside and out. The Attack of the Retrovirus: Friend or Foe coming soon to theaters near you, has a nice ring to it.


This entry was posted in AP Biology, Evolution, Viruses. Bookmark the permalink.

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