A pair of viruses sidled up to a host cell’s ribosome after a long day in the bloodstream, looking to unwind their RNA strands and relax.

“Hey,” the first virus said. “Aren’t you a Group IV Caliciviridae Norovirus?”

“Why as a matter of fact I am,” said the second virus. “Name’s Norbert.”

“Clyde. Here to cause infectious gastroenteritis?”

“The very same.”

“Small world, Clyde. Small world.”

“It sure is,” Norbert (who was only 38 nanometers wide) said. “It sure is.”

After contentedly replicating themselves at the ribosome for a while, Norbert turned to Clyde. “Say Clyde. Do you think we’re alive?”

“That’s a good question Norbert,” said Clyde. “There are several schools of thought on the subject. We do evolve and multiply, yet lack many of the other so-called basic aspects of life like requiring nourishment.”

“Huh,” Norbert said. “That’s kind of disappointing, to think that I might not be alive.”

“Look at it this way,” replied Clyde. “If you’re not technically alive, you can never die.”

“Hm, that’s true!” Norbert said, brightening.

“Yep. People may vaccinate against us, but when push comes to shove the only way to destroy a virus is with a really tiny hammer.”

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