Why is My Computer Problem called a Virus? Why isn’t it called a Bacteria?

December 31, 2008

v6lbl7Virus are not the same as bacteria.

Just as computer viruses are not the same as malware (spyware). If you can imagine an elephant being bit by a mosquito then you have the comparison in size between the bacteria (elephant) and the virus (mosquito).

The question is what is a virus and why is the problem with the computer called a virus?

Well have you ever wondered what is the determining factors for something to be called alive? What makes a rock not alive and a plant and an animal alive? First it consumes and second it grows and developes and  third it reproduces itself. A bacteria does all these things and does it every twenty minutes! What about a virus? It does NONE of these things! 

Bacteria are micro scale and viruses are nano scale.  A bacteria is very complex single cell organism.

untitledPicture in your mind a peach. If you cut it in half and looked at it, what do you see. (We are going to use the peach as an example of a single cell.) The skin would be the cell membrane, the meat of the peach the cell’s cytoplasm but the seed would be the cells nucleus. The nucleus is not really like a seed but more like a small ball of spaghetti. (you can tell I haven’t had diner yet!)  The awesome thing about the strands of spaghetti is the length of the strand and the protein sequence, that length is the sequence of what the cell is to do its whole life! Including its response to any stimuli (things that happen to it).

Its just like the programing code for a computer operating system!

Didn’t know that the spaghetti like nucleus of a cell (DNA) was modeled after a computer’s operating system, did you?  (smile) Just joking.

What about the virus?  Well it’s just a little snippet of the the spaghetti like strand of code in the nucleus of the cell in a fancy delevery box!

t4bacteriophageThis is a electron microscope image of a virus (bacteriophage) that is harmless to us but deadly to bacteria.

The little appendages lock on to the elephantine bacteria while the shaft penetrates the cell membrane injecting the small package of a piece of spaghetti (protein code, DNA) from it little head into the cell. Once into the cell necleus it attach’s to the spaghetti code and reprograms the cell to literally dismantle itself and make copies of the virus! When the whole cell is transformed internally to nothing but virus clones the cell burst open and releases thousands of the little critters! Guess what they go and do?

Well now back to computers.

So what would you call a little snippet of computer code that takes the computers resources away to replicate itself as many times as it can destroying the computer’s operating system and using that system to infect other systems? Right, a virus!

What would you call a small yet complete program that grows inside your computer’s system taking data and information, processes it and develops and finally replicates itself? Bacteria?

No its called malware or spyware.

Wait if small snippets of code that screws up your computer is called a virus then complete programs that process your personal information to send it to another location and replicates itself should be called Bacteria, right?

Yeah, but if you said your computer had a bacteria instead of malware or spyware people would think that you were weird though you would be logically correct.

I’m hungry, I’m going to get me some spaghetti, want to join me, there is peach for desert 🙂