40. A Planet of Viruses | Carl Zimmer | PodNu Podcasts & Book Insights



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A Singaporean doctor said Omicron has the potential to spread around the world within three to six months. Generally speaking, a pandemic that re-emerges repeatedly in the coming years can already be misrepresented as a seasonal flu. It is inevitable that coronavirus has the capacity to coexist with human beings for a longer period of time than first imagined.


Looking at the past evolutionary history, the participation of viruses in the evolution of species, be it human, animal or plant, has enriched the diversity of the earth. At the same time, it also brings an array of devastating consequences the further along it goes. The etymology of the word virus means, the semen of a man or the venom of a snake, corresponding for creation and destruction.


Viruses are constantly changing, and so are our means of understanding them. The relationship between organisms and viruses is like an illicit love affair. The organisms have always pursued the virus, but in order to prevent the organisms from chasing, the virus constantly changes itself and avoids the pursuit of the organisms in thousands of ways. Sort of in the same way you keep coming up with excuses to avoid going on a second date with a person you’re not interested in. Organisms love and hate viruses. What they love is that they cannot survive without it, and what they hate is that they will "lovesick" and die if they cannot catch up.


Although the structure of the virus is very simple, it is often just a protein shell with a little genetic material inside, its quantity and variety exceed the sum of other organisms on the earth today.


A Planet of Viruses is actually the earth we live in. To say that the earth is a virus planet is an understatement of the century. In addition to the sheer numbers, the impact of viruses on humans is so extraordinary that even life on Earth today may have originated from viruses 4 billion years ago. We’ll visit this part in depth later in the episode. Viruses, in addition to causing disease, can help us treat certain bacterial infections, make advances for other cures and save lives. Some viruses are involved in transforming the earth's environment. Can you imagine? Part of the human genome comes from thousands of viruses that infected our ancestors. It can even be said that viruses promote the birth of life and affect the process of developing human civilization. I believe that after reading this book, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of viruses and see how viruses have contributed to the environment we live in today...


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