What does a virus look like? How does it function?

The most infinitesimal “creature” on Earth, a virus is so tiny that it can be seen only with the help of an electron microscope. It has two principal parts: the outer portion, shell, and on the inside, in the form of DNA or RNA, the instruction for creation of new viruses. A virus is not easily categorized but walks the thin line between inanimate and animate states. It is little more than an ordered collection of molecules with absolutely no biological function. But when it comes in contact with a cell with a complementary protein code, the virus springs to life and begins to reproduce.

Forcing itself into a healthy cell, this biological hijacker commandeers the cell’s machinery for reproduction and uses it to make new viruses. Every infected cell is turned into a virtual assembly line. Eventually, filled to capacity, the cell dies and releases the next viral generation, which goes out to infect other healthy cells. The invaders can cause anything from the common cold to more serious, life-threatening diseases such as small-pox or polio. Given image is a microscopic picture of a small-pox virus.

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