Skip to main content

Crowdsourcing the Virus

CROWDSOURCING THE VIRUS QUESTION


The Virus does not deserve a photo. Just words, mainly arranged in questions.

As signing up for an online course in virus genetic sequencing is not a priority right now, let's first stick to popular science. 

Even better, to what every possible outlet has written about its appearance: spherical, with leech-like tentacles. 

No idea how the crown analogy came about. I looked long and hard to find any connection or identify the spiky crown that gave it its name. That blob we all now recognise is full of spikes, true, but that's about it.

Anyway, it has a name which is not necessarily its important feature, IMHO. The package is far far more important. 

It is made of fat, "an envelope", as it's called.

Have all similar viruses a layer of fat?  Apparently yes, but why fat and not something else? Is it because fat is such a good preservative (think of meat kept for months in lard) ? Is it then a survival technique for the Virus, this insulation?

Is that why we need to wash our hands very carefully, with lots of soap?

Try getting rid of grease using just water.  If you would like to read a very detailed explanation,  have a look at this article from Vox.

I do not dare to learn more (yet) about its fantastically long genome (read more here, a New Scientist article)

It seems highly suspicious, though, that the Virus needs such so many combination of "letters" (they are the secret heart of the genetic code, apparently).

Covering all its bases, eh? 

Why don't scientists and researchers do the same, and use the good old tool of crowdsourcing an answer? 

Maybe a 10-year old will come up with something, as innocence brings up the inner genius more than anything else. Or someone else will provide an unexpected angle. 

It would not be easy to sift through the comments, I admit that. Still, if the world as we know is besieged by a fatty nano-sphere, it's time for some oblique thinking. 

Crowdsourcing anyone? After all, we've got the internet and last time I looked, didn't see any Virus out there, apart from your usual computer virus. 





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A dog's life

This is going to outrage dog lovers, but I think that humans’ tyrannical nature is revealed not just when it enslaves other humans, but also when it enslaves dogs. We never say 'free as a dog", do we? Just 'free as a bird'. Dogs and humans, not all what it seems. We take a wolf at heart and spend lots of time and energy teaching it to obey and react to commands.  (To be more historically accurate, the 'taking' happened a long time ago, and it succeeded, so very different from cats.) We are prepared to downsize our vocabulary to a few words in order to achieve that.  We literally put up with shit.  All in the name of training, while the true purpose looks more like having a totally obedient living being under our control, one emitting apparent devotion.  In humans it’s called the Stockholm syndrome.  Even the basic freedoms of sniffing and running are restricted anywhere near human habitat. It takes a trip back to the wild

Beauty within, beauty without

"Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite" is a wonderful book by Robert Kurzban and the site where you can read a bit about it has a great URL too: https://www.hypocrisybook.com. It is all about evolution and the mind that has different compartments, creating this apparently terrible habit of noticing inconsistencies in all but ourselves. As our mind is a kind of cabinet with many drawers and some of them are full of junk and others of exquisite art objects, things can look a bit incongruous. Our inner balance depends on ignoring the co-existence of junk and art and happily thinking of the whole cabinet as a solid piece of furniture.  This is of course a bit of a simplistic review of the book and the theory behind it, but it serves the purpose of my own theory: that physical beauty is our greatest source of hypocrisy. If there is a drawer that very few people dare to open, let alone examine its contents, that is the drawer of our looks. The real physical appearan

First Knight

Holding my breath on the edge of a language precipice, what a way to plunge into writing in anything else than my mother tongue. Mr Ambrose Bierce, would you like to have written "The foreigner's dictionary?"