If a shrunk-down hand were to squeeze the coronavirus...
January 27, 2021 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Physical virology (SLNYT) Of all the pandemic questions bedeviling scientists, the one that Juan Perilla is asking might be among the strangest: If a shrunk-down hand were to squeeze the coronavirus, would it squish, or would it shatter?
posted by kathrynm (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
If we could figure out the processes that allow viruses to self-assemble we'd be one step closer to being able to generate programmable nanomachines that will invariably reduce the world to a grey soup.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:54 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I dunno, maybe it’d be a happy grey soup. Might be an improvement.

Everything is happy jelly, everything is happy.
posted by aramaic at 7:07 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


I would hope that at a minimum it would emit a slightly annoyed squeak.
posted by senor biggles at 7:27 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Adding Katherine Wu to the science journalists to follow list. Gorgeous scanning electron microscopy images in here, and that question, well... it makes me miss conferences and drinking with other scientists I've finally met in person after only knowing from Twitter.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:35 PM on January 27


I thought this was interesting but it seemed to assume way more baseline knowledge about what viruses are and what they do then I would have thought. Are most people that up to date it? I feel like what was explained to me wasn't more than "viruses are little particles that reproduce & make you sick" & something something RNA. Am I making myself sound like an idiot or like what page are we on basically?
posted by bleep at 8:33 PM on January 27


"viruses are little particles that reproduce & make you sick" is a very good definition, really. RNA is sort of a half-DNA structure which the virus uses the cell's mechanisms to replicate and make more virus. The virus then does things that rupture the cell wall (often disrupting or killing the cell), and sends its new selves off to find new cells to use for more reproduction. This is what makes you sick.

A lot of the reports about the COVID long haulers you might have read are about the damage the reproduction cycle of the virus does to various tissue within the body as it reproduces and pushes through the cell wall to get its own protein coat and go off to infect more cells.

They aren't alive, they're just little little bits of code floating around. That's why the metaphor got into the internet vernacular.
posted by hippybear at 9:37 PM on January 27


i believe its more of a kicking sensation...
posted by Hicksu at 11:29 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Another random estimate: the total amount of COVID-19 virus in the world is about 8 ml or about half a tablespoon.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:01 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


I dunno, maybe it’d be a happy grey soup. Might be an improvement.

*piano*
I know, I know I've let you down
I've been a fool to myself...
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:58 AM on January 28


MetaFilter: malady-toting motes of misfortune
posted by mule98J at 4:50 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't we all be working on trying to locate that teaspoon?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:12 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]




When your species manufactures enough material to outweigh the planetary biomass, it’s time to think, maybe we are the nanomachines who will invariably reduce the world to a grey soup.
posted by mubba at 4:42 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


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