Are We a Viral Equivalent on the Universal Stage?

The universe is immense in the extreme. Objects like stars can become so large that it’s almost impossible to comprehend their scale. This video explains it quite well.

When comparing the scale at which we live and that of astronomical bodies like stars we can’t help but feel that we may be small cogs in something much, much more vast. Could that vast something be a life form so massive, and therefore foreign to us, that we fail to recognize it as alive? If we look in the other direction on the scale, toward the very small, it may help us to begin the process of investigating this notion.

A virus is considered to be one of the smallest units of life or psuedo-life.

Adeno-Associated virus

According to Wikipedia: A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms [or hosts].

When observing humans from a star’s perspective, an interesting spin to the above definition comes to mind: A human is a small creature with an ever-expanding civilization that replicates only inside the living atmospheres of other astronomical bodies [or hosts].

Human beings and viruses are very different from one another. If a virus was able to think and understand it’s own properties, it would hardly imagine it possible that life forms billions of times larger than itself could exist. Questions like; “How could such a being support itself structurally? Or transmit information within itself? Or have a metabolism?” might be at the top of this thinking virus’s list. And their would be other questions it could not conceive to ask because of the limitations to it’s perspective. It’s possible we have similar limitations when it comes to the universe… at least for now.

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48 thoughts on “Are We a Viral Equivalent on the Universal Stage?

    1. suegiplaye

      Human beings to me really cannot be compared to any virus, insect, or animal.We are too complex. If there was other creatures on this universe we would of found them by now. Simple as that.

      1. Wheezybz

        We act to the universe (and our solar system) the way a virus acts on us. It is small and seemingly insignificant but can have a large impact on its host. Humans are only found on one planet (as far as we know) but have been able to spread to other planets and past the solar system with our rockets, rovers and probes.

    2. ellyjude

      I too watched the matrix and i must admit that it possess some truth in it. Human beings can be compared to a virus due to various reasons. One of the main reasons is their behavior.

    1. Sevrin

      A lot of people underestimate the size of our universe. It’s a wonder how some can believe we are the only form of life in existence, and while I highly doubt that we will ever make contact in my lifetime, I also highly doubt that this tiny Earth is the only place with life in the entirety of this dimension. Makes you think about how small a single individual is in the grand scheme of things.

  1. DancingDays

    Reminds me of another post you made. It could be the universe brain. No doubt we are small. We have much to learn about this planet. The universe? Forget about it. We got far to go.

  2. Endss

    Looking from a star’s perspective we are very unique. Astronomers have tried to search for a planet like ours but they have found none. In our own perspective that makes us viral. Our planet or the solar system has less influence to our galaxy or even the whole planet. Since we know that we live in space then whatever affects our galaxy should be considered viral i.e the black holes.

  3. seatones

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the past couple years. To me, it seems like our planet, or any planet, is just a cell… The universe as we know it could just be a giant living organism that we make up. We are only so intelligent, and our intelligence is based on relativity to the creatures we know on earth, but who’s to say that we don’t make up a small fraction of some bigger, more intelligent creature? I think that everything works in loops in the sense that there are small things, bigger things, and even bigger things and we fit in there somewhere. There will always be smaller and always be bigger and it never ends.

    1. KCDavis

      I never thought about things like that. But your idea does make sense. It would be very interesting to find that we are just a small part of a bigger creature.

    2. cafwen

      I have often wondered about this! On a similar level, we can draw some parallels between the behavior of an atom and a solar system, so why would biology not follow on roughly similar principles? If you compare the Universe to an ocean for example, most of the stuff that makes it up is non-living inorganic matter, but every now and then you find something that is a living cell. Would our living planet not be similar in the ocean of the Universe?

  4. KimberlyD

    It is amazing how tiny we truly are in the grand scheme of things. To think there are suns much larger then our own out there that make our sun look like a pebble in comparison. The universe is vast, so is the information about it. We barely have scratched the surface of what our universe is really about.

  5. Sevrin

    To think that we could be in something living, but it’s so big that we can comprehend it’s living is quite unfathomable to me. It would mean our understanding of biological process could be entirely wrong when applied to the gigantic scale of the universe. And that would be crazy. I just recently arrived, but your articles have a way of making me think real hard about things I’ve never thought of before.

  6. nss

    I remember seeing something like this in my biology class in college. Seriously, it’s crazy the sizes that make up our universe. Like that virus is so small! And then there are planets and stars and the sun and all these things with a mass that we cannot even comprehend. Their sizes are so unbelievably unreal! It really puts things in perspective that we are large in some sense, compared to atoms, and tiny compared to the rest of the vast universe.

  7. Jasmine2015

    This makes me wonder how do astronauts feel when they are floating in space? There is so much to learn and discover about space it makes my mind boggle. I have always wondered if we will ever discover another earth like planet that also host living things just like ours. I really like this post for making me think about space in a new perspective.

  8. Liv6

    I’ve seen this video before, but it never fails to impress me when I think about just HOW SMALL we really are. Some people complain that it’s easy to feel lost in such a big world, but in reality, this world really is tiny and insignificant next to larger celestial bodies. I admire how you set up a parallel between stars and viruses in comparison to humans. Excellent read.

  9. ScooterBrandon

    I have always thought about this since that scene in the Matrix film.
    One thing that always sets us apart is our ability to love and think.
    I am very confident we are going to be able to spread our messages of thinking and loving across the universe. It’s our end game, it’s our greatest goal and I am sure it is our purpose. To turn the dumb matter of the universe into thinking matter. Ray Kurzweil inspired me to think this way.
    So that is the lofty ambition of humanity that sets us apart from viruses.

    1. Agtree

      What an interesting and positive way of thinking. Perhaps you are right. AI and nanotechnology might make this feasiable some time in a distant future. You also made me think of Asimov (Laws of robotics).

      That aside I don’t think you have to look that far to see signs of ‘impact’ in our host. We are already heavly influencing Earth’s ecosystem, terra-forming will be a reality, given some time. While we are thinking beings, it seems our purpose is to simply spread and be.

      And now I’m in a ‘Civilization: Beyond Earth’ mood, haha.

  10. CrowdedHighways

    A lot of references to Matrix in the comments, and it was also the first thing that came to mind when I read the post. Do you think that we are the life form that has the most impact on the universe, relative to our size? Or would it be arrogant to even raise this question?

  11. urgableh

    Not to mention the infinitely large amount of space between these astronomical bodies. We actually are some one dimensional dot in comparison to the rest of the universe. No size. No relevance. It really makes you wonder what type of being there are out in the world, infinitely larger than ourselves. Like a little bacteria molecule, we don’t know anything.

  12. juanperez1990

    I’ve always had the idea that maybe, just maybe, we are indeed living in worlds inside worlds. Look at that virus image. That thing looks like a star itself! What if there is a never ending chain? What if there are astronomical huge beings and we are simply living inside one of them? Blows my mind to think about.

  13. FuZyOn

    Haha, the video was really interesting and I actually forgot about the article for a while. I remember reading about how similar stars and our atoms, veins and so on are and I think we may be on to something here. It would be really frightening if we are living in worlds inside worlds.

  14. vegg

    I’m reminded of the ending of the first Men in Black movie. I think it’s quite possible that we are part of a vastness that we don’t quite comprehend. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a living thing, but I certainly think there are existential mysteries (that may or may not have answer) that are beyond human understanding.

    Either way you look at it, humans are a minute part of the entire universe. What we see and understand – the entirety of our lives – are incredibly insignificant in terms of this grand scale. If there is some meaning behind all of this, I question the assumption that we are the center of it.

  15. thecorinthian

    Reading this article also made me wonder how bacterias and fungi function at that scale. The size comparisons made me feel small, smaller than dust and we live in an small planet. It makes me wonder if our planet is subatomic and we are tinier than the protons and electrons surrounding it. We might as well be just energy or the dark matter encompassing space. Maybe our planet is a living cell, our mothership and our collective unconscious speaks to us in a way that says, “Your primary duty is to save this planet. You are a worker and I am the organelle. I am the Queen Bee and you live to support me.” Your blog makes me think about a lot of things that might very well be possibilities.

  16. turtledove

    It is true. Sometimes when looking at the huge scale of the universe we’re part of, I feel like a tiny and insignificant person. This is a great article, really got me thinking!

  17. bbatv

    What I take from this is that size is more arbitrary than we think. The difference between size is more important. Which gets me thinking into the possibility of the universe being a small part of an even larger system and that there could be particles smaller than quarks that act as a part of the quark in the same way that a quark acts as part of an atom.

  18. Be-You

    It’s true that universe is expanding more every day and the most fascinating thing is that we are seeing only what universe was hundreds years of light ago. The stars and galaxies astronomers study and observe now are different but we can see only how they were thousands of years ago, their past. I love your star’s perspective of humans as viruses. Everything changes based on the perspective and angle we decide to observe it.

  19. rhauze

    It’s probably a good comparison, just to give a sense of scale about how small we are and how much we perceive. It’s statistically very unlikely that we’re alone in the universe, and likewise that we even know about a fraction of what is going on in the big picture.

  20. joshc428

    Ideas like this fascinate me. I wish I was born a few hundred years later so that I would be able to utilize future advancements that allowed us to explore the far reaches of the universe. It’d be mind-boggling to learn that we’re a smaller part of something much larger.

  21. briannagodess

    This is mind-boggling. I have never really imagined that we are the only creatures like this living in this universe. It’s just impossible for me. There is such a big universe out there that we haven’t even explored. We don’t really know what’s out there. We haven’t found them but maybe they have found us already. We just don’t realise it. I do wish everything is more clear but that’s what makes life exciting. Not knowing everything, having this sense of incompleteness, having some doubts and pursuing our imagination.

  22. KCDavis

    This really makes you think doesn’t it? We forget that we are just a small part of this universe. Makes us wonder what else is out there. I know that we will never get to see it all, explore it all but its still fun to wonder and dream of what else is there.

  23. SirJoe

    It’s a scary thought but there could be a certain amount of truth to it. We do function like viruses in the sense that we destroy the host. We still haven’t been able to move to other planets but if we do I don’t doubt that we won’t do the same thing we have done to this one.

  24. aquaticneko

    I don’t really know if we can be compared to a virus. We are not the same yet we work with similar goals don’t you think? We have successfully taken over every corner of the earth damaging the land we call our home in the process. So many other animals have suffered, even entire species have gone extinct because of human actions. We being more complex only mean we are much more dangerous and are capable of doing that much more harm than a virus ever could. We are able to halt some viral strains. When speaking equivalency we would maybe be similar to the damage the mad cow disease has caused. It is caused by prions and not much is known about prions. Maybe I’m wrong but this is entirely how I feel.

  25. Caminha

    I am not an expert on the matter, but I do not think I would compare humankind to a virus. In my own opinion, I think we are closer to bacteria. Of course, we come and consume, and consume and then multiply – rinse and repeat, and that’s how a virus do, but unlike viruses we can multiply without external help. Just a thought… Bacteria, not Viruses.

    1. oportosanto

      I am not a biologist to fully understand the difference between a bacteria and a virus, but I do recall the quote from Matrix when they say that we were a virus as we destroyed everything in our passage. I think we should act in a more conscious way and respect what’s around us.

  26. JusApee

    I also thought about these things many times before and I find it a likely probability. You can’t deny it, but can’t approve it either that we’re the viruses of the Universe. However, just as for us there are more species of viruses, there might as well be more species of viruses for the universe as well, get me? So this theory might also lead to a prove that extraterrestrial life may actually exist.

  27. kate

    I like the video, but there’s another size comparison video that I always enjoyed, here:
    It really does make it clear just how small the earth is, and we are, by comparison to the rest of the universe.

    The problem with the analogy is that a virus is normally something invasive from outside, foreign and often damaging to the entity. Life arose within the universe, not externally, so depending on what stage you view universal evolution at, you might say independent life is close to the early evolutionary proto-forms of mitochondria, tiny bacteria that evolve within the organism and are eventually integrated as part of it. They still don’t have any awareness of the host form, or even the entirety of the cell they are part of, anymore than a human can view the whole earth at once, or view and understand the entire galaxy as an external observer.

  28. Novelangel

    Compared to the size of the universe, human beings ARE tiny and yet we are not insignificant. After all, we can eventually develop some understanding of the universe, so we are definitely worth more than your average virus. However, we are also amazingly diverse, just like viruses are, so I guess in that way the comparison stands, but we are far more intelligent. Viruses simply do what they are programmed to do, while we humans tend to learn and grow and become more than what we originated as.

  29. oportosanto

    We are tiny and I think on that often, especially at night when I look at the stars and see how huge the universe is. By looking inside of us and seeing virus for example, I can’t stop thinking about the same, that inside of us universes smaller in proportion also exist…

  30. anorexorcist

    Thinking about how small we really are, makes me freak out most of the time, to be honest. And sometimes I even think how vast and huge is the universe, and what if the universe were actually a little part of something bigger? But what would that be? Maybe we are sort of viruses too living in some form of huge system… that thought right there gets me everytime.
    It’s incredible how relative size can be, man.

  31. rz3300

    Well I have to admit that I got a little lost with myself when I was starting to think about the thought processes of viruses, but it certainly got my mind working. It is really interesting to think about the comparisons between the macro and the micro and the implications that has for our understanding of our universe and our place in it. That is a really cool video too, so thanks for sharing.

  32. SFOMH88

    When I look at the universe and see how huge it is, I don’t feel small. I feel huge as well, because we are all part of the universe. Every fiber of our being is made from elements that also make up the universe. We are one with it.

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