Saturday, October 15, 2005

Isn't there better ways to use this technology?

From Krauthammer in the Washington Post, "A Flu Hope, Or Horror?", comes this scare- you'd think that "terrists" would have more fun putting the DNA sequence for delta-9 THC into something like strawberries or something.:

While official Washington has been poring over Harriet Miers's long-ago doings on the Dallas City Council and parsing the byzantine comings and goings of the Patrick Fitzgerald grand jury, relatively unnoticed was perhaps the most momentous event of our lifetime -- what is left of it, as I shall explain. It was announced last week that U.S. scientists have just created a living, killing copy of the 1918 "Spanish" flu...

Which brings us to the second element of this story: Beyond the brilliance lies the sheer terror. We have brought back to life an agent of near-biblical destruction. It killed more people in six months than were killed in the four years of World War I. It killed more humans than any other disease of similar duration in the history of the world, says Alfred W. Crosby, who wrote a history of the 1918 pandemic. And, notes New Scientist magazine, when the re-created virus was given to mice in heavily quarantined laboratories in Atlanta, it killed the mice more quickly than any other flu virus ever tested .

Now that I have your attention, consider, with appropriate trepidation, the third element of this story: What to do with this knowledge? Not only has the virus been physically re-created, but its entire genome has also now been published for the whole world, good people and very bad, to see...

On the other hand, resurrection of the virus and publication of its structure open the gates of hell. Anybody, bad guys included, can now create it. Biological knowledge is far easier to acquire for Osama bin Laden and friends than nuclear knowledge. And if you can't make this stuff yourself, you can simply order up DNA sequences from commercial laboratories around the world that will make it and ship it to you on demand. Taubenberger himself admits that "the technology is available."

What Krauthammer fails to note, though is that this is MAD with a bullet: you can't control this stuff if you get it out without a vaccine; meaning that all good Muslims or Bible believers - that is those -who support the terrorists would be killed too. Everybody dead except for those with natural immunity.

Who could be, well, folks opposed to terrorism.

Try again, smartypants.

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