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Comment: Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 3, Informative) 51

by ColdWetDog (#47428385) Attached to: Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

Oh, now I went ahead and read TFA. It's all complicated and confusing.

The current thinking is indeed that viruses are an offshoot of 'modern' life (modern being sometime after the archea). These critters, because they contain gene sequences that seem to predate the prokaryote - eukaryote split and because we know that bacteria just love to transfer genetic information 'horizontally' - that is by tossing bits of DNA and RNA around so some unrelated organism can incorporate it into their genetic apparatus as opposed to simply eating it - that it may be that these big viruses started sometime after the RNA hypothesis took hold and created the first self replicating organisms. Or at least helped those first 'organisms' diverge and multiply.

At least it's a testable hypothesis. Once you have sequenced a number of the big virus genes and compare them you would presumably get an idea how old they are.

It would seem that even if this mechanism held, the critters would have had a long time to morph into another ecological niche so it would be hard to pin down what their function was (if any) at the beginning of life. But perhaps the Central Dogma is barking up the wrong tree after all.

Comment: Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 2) 51

by ColdWetDog (#47428313) Attached to: Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

It can't reproduce entirely on it's own, so it's not 'free living'. It does need a host. It's just it doesn't need the host for some of the tasks that most viruses need the host for.

It would seem that, instead of being a primitive form that was at the base of the the genetic tree, it's more likely to be an offshoot. It hijacked some additional molecular machinery from an extant organism rather that figuring it out on it's own.

Comment: Resurrection (Score 4, Funny) 157

I see the plot of a new Micheal Bay (or maybe J.J. Abrams) movie: The US military, unable to get qualified recruits to fight the new Zombie wars, takes a cue from the Zombie playbook and develops the technology to bring life old soldiers. After a bit of a difficult start, the program exceeds all expectations until the previously dead soldiers revolt at being put back in the grave and bring Washington to it's knees by filing for Social Security benefits.

Comment: Re:Sports HRMS (Score 1) 123

by ColdWetDog (#47396649) Attached to: FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps

What I find astounding is that the FDA doesn't even try to regulate Electronic Health Records. Large, expensive, complex programs that do monitor and help diagnose medical conditions. I'm much more leery of EHRs than random iPhone apps.

It would be a major challenge to do this, but you might actually make a difference.

Comment: Re:How dare they (Score 3, Insightful) 63

by ColdWetDog (#47394607) Attached to: Study: Whales Are Ecosystem "Engineers"

Actually, there are quite a number of regulations concerning human activity in and around whales. Come to think of it, if engineers had those same regulations apply to them (mostly don't bother the whale, stay at least 100 yards away, no nearby explosions and such), then engineers might have a better chance of getting something useful accomplished.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire

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