When the earth warms in the spring and summer months, hot wet air rushes upward in columns, where it collides with cool dry air, forming volatile cumulus clouds that can begin to swell against the top of the troposphere, at times carrying as much as a million tons of water. If one of these budding cells manages to punch through the tropopause
, as the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere is called, the storm mushrooms, feeding on the energy-rich air of the upper atmosphere. As it continues to grow, inhaling up more moisture and breathing it back down as rain and hail, this vast vertical lung can sprout into a self-sustaining system that takes on many different forms. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/2...virion
Viruses are quite conniving for things that are not alive. A bacterium is a living cell that can survive and reproduce on its own. By contrast, a virion
, or virus particle, can do nothing alone; it reproduces only by co-opting the cellular machinery of its host. Each virion
consists of nothing more than a piece of DNA or RNA encased in protein, sometimes surrounded by a lipid membrane. When it gets itself sucked into a cell, it manipulates the host into building the proteins necessary for viral replication—in essence, turning it into a virus factory. Some of the proteins start to work on duplicating the virus’s genome; others form a new viral coat. Those components get bundled into entirely new virions
, produced by the thousands, which then pop out of the cell and make their way to other cells, within the same body or in a new one, happy to sail on the winds of a sneeze.https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/13...