Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Slate has an article by Carl Zimmer on the Limits of Bioterrorism (via 3quarks daily).

"Inventors don't always design their inventions from scratch, though. Perhaps someone could create a new pathogen simply by mimicking nature: combining different sets of genes, mutating a few of them, and using trial and error to find ones that worked? Probably not. Nature's lab bench is colossal. Millions of cattle and other animals are carrying around E. coli O157:H7, and an incalculable number of viruses are invading them, trying out new combinations. Many of those combinations turn out to be failures, but natural selection can give rise to a few spectacular successes. Even if a government built a giant lab just for the purpose of stumbling across a new pathogen, it might take centuries or millenniums to hit on something like the spinach strain."


Jay@Soob said...

I sent this along to J. Sigger at Armchair Generalist. He appreciated it and posted on it here

G said...

Thanks Jay, it brought out the specialists on that thread eh?

Jay@Soob said...

It did indeed. J's politics and mine aren't exactly agreeable but he's a very smart chap and being a defense analyst, knows his shit. See how we roll, Daniel? Wonderful thing, blogging, eh?