Feb 20, 2020

Are there 1031 virus particles on Earth, or more, or less?

Journal of Bacteriology
A R Mushegian

Abstract

The number of virus particles on Earth is frequently reported in the scientific literature and in general-interest publications as being on the order of 1031, with some confusion about whether this is a high or low estimate. This number is often given without a source, though it should be attributed a papers by Roger Hendrix published in 1999. As with any oft-repeated statistic, it is informative to know how it has been derived and whether it may have to be revised in the light of new evidence. I review the history of the 1031 estimate and use more recent assessments of the number of bacterial and viral particles in various habitats to conclude that the best estimate of the number of virus particles on Earth ("The Hendrix Product") remains close to 1031, and is unlikely to be either much less, or much more than that.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Virus
Habitat
Vaccines, Virus-Like Particle
Medical History
Confusion
Particle
Source

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