According to this YouTube video, viruses are actually man-made nano-technology.

The author clearly understands biology and the traditional understandings of viruses and the immune system, yet he still claims that viruses are not natural, but products of human technology?

I however think that perhaps viruses really are natural. Are viruses just forms of man-made nano-technology or not?


2 Answers 2


The tobacco mosaic virus was discovered in 1898. That was long before nano-technology was even imagined. Also, as we still do not have any real nano-tech capability, I doubt very much that anyone could have done it then. See this link.

As far as I know the closest we have come to creating artificial life is the bacterium that Craig Venter's team created. They took a Mycoplasma mycoides cell, removed its DNA and then inserted an artificially built DNA and let the cell reproduce again. The DNA was essentially the same as the bacterium's, but with some minor changes, including a "watermark" to prove that the reproducing DNA was indeed the artificial one. Note that it still needed the rest of the cell to work. This article shows more details and also mentioned that the first artificial virus was created in 2003.

  • What do you mean by not having any nanotechnology? Can you expand upon that a bit since nanotechnology is fairly common these days.
    – rjzii
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 12:05
  • 4
    @rob sorry this is a bit delayed, but when I say we don't have real nano-tech, I meant that we cannot produce any machines at that scale. Yes, we can produce nano-particles, buckytubes and things like that, but not nano-machinery.
    – hdhondt
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 3:39
  • 1
    Well, maybe not full scale machines such as an engine, but there are some fairly sophisticated devices that are in common use now. Nanoscale cantilevers are actually quite common now.
    – rjzii
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 12:16
  • "Note that it still needed the rest of the cell to work" – but that's also the case of natural viruses also, isn't it?
    – vartec
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 5:34
  • Viruses do, but Venter "created" a cell, not a virus. He replaced a cell's natural DNA with an artificially created (and modified) copy.
    – hdhondt
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 3:59

There are artificial (man-made) engineered viruses but, by and large, viruses are natural, pre-dating humans by eons: The Origins of Viruses

  • 2
    You are right, but your reference doesn't explicitly support you.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 6:49
  • and those man made viruses aren't nanotech, they're biologically engineered natural viruses.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 5:56
  • Can you add a significant passage from the article?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 8:01
  • @jwenting, wouldn't a biologically engineered virus be nanotechnology by definition?
    – Kenshin
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 11:58
  • 1
    Wikipedia: Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to "nanotech") is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. It doesn't say it can't be biological.
    – Kenshin
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:39

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