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Doomsday Virus Discovered? 48

Posted by michael
from the blue-bread-mold dept.
quakeaddict writes "Pretty scary stuff.....makes ya want to go home and hug your kids. Here's the story." It's pretty obvious that sooner or later, by accident or on purpose, we'll create genetically-engineered bioweapons with as much destructive potential as nuclear weapons. So far, we've managed not to wipe ourselves out with nukes.
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Doomsday Virus Discovered?

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  • The virus in the Dustin Hoffman movie "Outbreak" could probably not have wiped out a huge population, because its symptoms showed up so quickly. Infected people could be identified easily and early on.
    Another problem (blessing) is that ebola is relativly fragile and will not survive for very long out side of a host (maybe a minute?). Hence the blood contact requirement.

    Ebola and Marburg anyway; Reston appeared to be transmitted as an aerosol but only seemed to be lethal in monkeys.

    Speaking of monkeys, Marburg appeared at Behringwerke AG, a vaccine factory in Marburg, Germany in 1967. Several people died after being exposed to infected monkeys caught in Uganda.

    Investigators concluded that there had been an epidemic in the monkey population starting at about 1961 and was at it's peak in 1967. In the caged animals it was 100% leathal although several of the people survived with serious problems.

    Interesting historical sideline. Another hemmoragic fever, Yellow fever, killed 15% of Philadelphia's population in 1793 and is found from Canada to Chile. And also in West Africa where the local populations are rather resistant to it; more so than Europeans.

    It's been noted that the acute vulnerability of the French and British colonials to Yellow fever prevented them from attaining full control over West Africa.

    "So obvious was this deterrence in some areas of Africa that it was celebrated in song and verse by people from Sudan to Senegal. Well into the 1980's schoolchildren in Ibo areas of Nigeria still sang the praises of mosquitos and the diseases they gave the French and British colonists. - "

    What's really ironic is that the mosquito which serves as the vector, A. aegypti is believed to have originated in West Africa and was brought to the new world aboard slave ships along with the virus. Ouch!

  • 50 years from now, basement bioweapons may be a reality. You're made of all the materials you need to build 'em.

    Excellent point. Today, it takes quite a bit of education, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, to do this sort of thing.

    But what about in the future? Will Wal-Mart sell "1-2-3 Genetic Engineering Kits(TM, as seen on TV)"? Then you'll have people doing molecular biology with no real understanding of the principles--the molecular biology equivalent of script kiddies ("gene kiddies?"). I can see it now..."i'm a 133t m013kv14r bi010je5t"

  • OK this responce is so late that, that is the probably the last post. But if IL-4 suppresses the cell mediated, one of the other interlukeins could be used to reactive that reponse. Maybe IL-2 which is boosts T cell production. Alternatively any drug which blocks the IL-4 receptor would help.
  • Excuse me we arnt all mad down here just a large chunk of the population:P
  • If I ever devised such a means of mass destruction, either intentionally or unintentionally, I would destroy it, dispose of it, keep my mouth shut, and hope nobody else ever figures it out. I am all for open source and open science, but how many govt's are out looking for just a little more info on this now to reverse engineer it?

  • We're a long distance from understanding most of it. So until it's understood, completely, then the bioengineers ought to do us all a favor and slow down.

    I count "modern" bioengineers efforts to be no more scientific than the efforts of alchemists. More technology is involved, but there is still the innate lack of understanding about the overall complexity of the problem.

    Simpler experimentation is the answer. As in, if I toggle the 2**12 amino in this DNA chain from G to A, what happens? I think engaging in any experimentation where genocide, even if it is of mice, is a possible outcome, is a violation of any ethical code. Once the virus is in the wild, _why_ won't it mutate and infect other animals? Mad cow disease started off in sheep. HIV might've started in monkeys. Malaria takes 3 different hosts for its cycle. Some bioengineered corn has pollen fatal to monarch butterflies.

    The whole bio thing is so far beyond modern scientific understanding that they need to stop the random experimentation, and go back to traditional, slow, foundation-building experimentation. Just because it worked in the lab doesn't mean it'll work in the real world, and doesn't mean that things won't mutate in the long term.

    Everything around us is the result of eons of slow mutation and interaction. To suddenly introduce an organism to the wild that hasn't had a few hundred year debugging period is psychotic at best.
  • This is all very fine. If, that is, a viral outbreak emerges in an area of low population density where modern social amenities are not present. In a highly modern urban area, any airborne virus would be transmitted through central air conditioning systems in buildings, HVAC systems in subways, and any of a myriad other mechanisms enabled by the close proximity of large numbers. In such an environment the quick fatality period would only mean that millions would be consigned to quick horrible deaths with no hope of assistance. Which, incidentally, is one of the things that makes chemical and biological weapons so horrific.

    Imagine if a virus entered the human food chain through contaminated meat or poultry, hung around for a while in a state where hosts could infect one another, but showed no significant symptoms, and then killed very quickly (in hours or days).

    Imagine now a mutation of a less serious E-Coli, or Botulinum bacterium with similar capabilities.
  • If some tyrant decided to use this there would be too much potential for the virus to escape the bounds of the targeted nation and eventually come back to the tyrant's nation. Especially since it seems to be heavily vaccine resistant. Apparently this stuff spreads quickly (since the lab's entire mouse population was infected in under nine days) and kills quickly. For biological weapons it would be best to use something that spreads more slowly and preferably something you have a vaccine for but the enemy doesn't.


    "Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto"
    (I am a man: nothing human is alien to me)

  • As a side note, why would any sane person make this statement?

    Because anyone with a bachelor's degree in biology or biochemistry could have figured that out anyway, given the rest of the details?

  • by Scoria (264473)
    I can't believe you guys actually think this was accidental! (just kidding, everyone :))

    This is really spooky... I think they should have kept the method of how they did this (accidental or not) secret, personally.
  • Actually, HIV can be transmitted by any type of sexual contact, not just intercourse.

    Once, a group of doctors was being spoken to at a University and the question was posed as to the safety of condoms and their effectivness in preventing disease. The doctors were asked if they would trust a condom to protect them from HIV. Not a single one raised their hand.

    Yeah, free love is long gone, man.
  • But what about in the future? Will Wal-Mart sell "1-2-3 Genetic Engineering Kits(TM, as seen on TV)"?

    One excellent short story that explores one potential outcome of pervasive genetic engineering (which begins with the protagonist receiving for his eighth birthday "the latest smash-hit biokit, Splicing Your Own Semisentients"), is Gene Wars by Paul J. McAuley. One published location is "The Year's Best Science Fiction, Ninth Edition (1991)", St. Martin's Press [amazon.com].

  • Or 5-10 years for that matter - like HIV. Not much you can do there, but spreading the species far and wide would improve the odds.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • From a humane perspective sterilizing of pests is kind of controversial. The real reason for a sterilizing virus rather than a killing virus is this: a rapidly reproducing pest (like mice) can quickly compensate for a large population drop and is more likely to evolve resistant individuals. If even one mating pair escapes or resists infection, they will quickly bounce back to previous numbers, because they will have no competition and no infectious individuals. But a sterilizing virus leaves them alive for a while, making things more difficult for any escapees. First of all it creates competition for limited resources for a generation or so, and helps keep any predators active. Secondly, it prolongs and enhances exposure to infected individuals and therefore increases the possibility of infection to anyone that is not completely immune. Third, I'm not sure what the mating behavior for mice is but sterilized individuals may create competition there as well, and could even square the loss of reproduction. The net effect is that the entire population will be infected, be unable to reproduce for a time, and then die off quickly. cryptochrome
  • In responce to your post I quote Isaac Asimov
    The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries,

    is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny"

    So "A. The process accidentally killed all mice, by creating a doomsday bug for them." is scarier.

    --
    Spelling by m-w.com [m-w.com].

  • Would you like to volunteer for an empirical test? ;)
  • Remember the maxim "security through obscurity"? Ignorance is rarely a valid defence mechanism. Just like a long incubation period, it prevents the rapid spread of knowledge, but it does not eliminate it.

    As has been mentioned here in other reasoned posts, such mutations do occur in nature. Although greater education in genetics allows more scope for "genetic terrorists" it also allows more scope for discoveries that will mitigate against them. The same is true of all advanced knowlege.

    By the same token, we cannot close the box on high explosives, fissile materials, vulnerabilities in the TCP/IP stack, electromagnetic induction, or a myriad other important tools that can be used for unethical ends.
  • If you actually do read the article you will find that the virus was genetically improved with genes from mammals that normally wouldn't appear in the virus.

    This means that to find somemouse resistant to the strain, diversity isn't enough, you need somemouse with a very strong resistance to smallpox.

    I really wonder about the line "we thought it would be best to release this news" considering that such a virus might be "easily" doable for human smallbox/immune system too.

  • the molecular biology equivalent of script kiddies ("gene kiddies?"). I can see it now..."i'm a 133t m013kv14r bi010je5t"

    Yeah! Hordes of teenagers having their own gene-kit creating deceases discovered by grey-hat doctors. Of course, you will find most of them documented on "gene-sec.com" as well. However, as everything happens so fast in genetic engineering, people that want to move around in public with other people must all read "gene-sec.com" to be aware of the latest exploits, and make sure to vaccinate themselves appropriately.

  • Theres no need to keep it a secret, a quick search of a scientific
    database, will reveal lots of work that could be adapted by someone
    with the inclination, into a real killer :(

    IMHO it's not how it will be done, it's WHEN

  • Mad cow disease isn't a mutation to infect other animals. There's a lot of contention on the subject right now, but it appears to be some sort of inorganic agent that causes a specific neuronal protein to refold and form amyloid plaques. The neuronal protein is present in
    all mammals, but is slightly different between some groups. For example, cows and humans have similar forms of the protein and can infect eachother, but mice and humans have slightly different forms of the protein and cannot infect eachother.

    This is a weird little critter... Caught a documentary bit on mad cow disease or spongiform encephilopaphy (sp?). The investigator thought the stuff was transmitted by the practice of using the ground up remains from slaughtering cows and sheep as feed for cows and sheep. Nice, huh? He suggested that it may have begun with sheep (scrapie) ground to meal, used to feed cows which in turn, developed MCD. Interestingly, the meal is run through a process to sterilize it.

    Exept the protein seems to be remarkably tough. Organisms are relatively fragile but the protein that causes MCD withstood all sorts of things. No standard lab sterilization method works.

    They said they pretty much destroy instruments they used to examine infected cows as they had no way to sterilize them, short of melting them down. Even the burned carcases, well coals and ashes, were still infectious. Even a well done burger. Eesh.

    The show also suggested that the protein itself is the causative agent. A malformed protein, when it came into contact with a normal one, caused it to refold into the malformed version. 2, 4, 8, 16...

    Sort of an ice-9 thing.

    Was that a hamburger you had for lunch? heh. Sleep well tonight.

  • Need I say more? Greg knew it al ;)
  • by spyrral (162842) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:20PM (#515872) Journal
    is that it was accidentally created in an experiment to create a real world product.

  • by Christopher Thomas (11717) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:43PM (#515873)
    While the problem of small groups with moderate resources engineering viruses is indeed a serious one, I'm skeptical of claims that any virus or even set of viruses would be able to wipe out humanity.

    Mainly this comes from circumstantial evidence: As far as we can tell, nothing like this has ever happened, despite random genetic crossovers happening fairly frequently with bacteria and viruses.

    Not an iron-clad argument, and a super-virus would still be very bad, but I'm skeptical of most "doomsday" hype.
  • by human bean (222811) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @03:42PM (#515874)
    1. What sort of genetic pool these mice came from. Was there any variability, or were were they single strain types?
    2. What were the numbers studied? If they were less than decent poulation sizes (n>10000, approx.) then the results may not be as horrible as first glance might suggest.
    3. What form of carrier mechanism was used? If it was of a sort not readily found in nature, this may server as a mitigating factor.
    4. Consider the information source.

    Race purists and bigots take note: Genetic diversity is your only hope for long term survival of this sort of holocaust, whether man-made or natural. All life must be given a chance. Evolution is just the filter.

  • by Geeky Frignit (232507) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:44PM (#515875) Homepage
    Which is scarier?
    • A. The process accidentally killed all mice, by creating a
    • doomsday bug for them.

    or
    • B. They were studying a process to sterilize mice.


    I can't believe they were studying to sterilize mice. I mean, I'm okay with mouse traps, rat poison, cats, etc. But to significantly alter their biological functions just seems unethical to me. All movies we make where some alien race is coming to eradicate humanity, we do not suffer the aliens and happy endings means we kick them off our planet. But if we reverse the roles to be the ones doing the eradication, we call it pest control. No, sir, I don't like it!
  • I suspect that the story may have been sensationalized somewhat ("Killer Virus Created! Extra Extra, Read All About It!"). But somehow I'm not surprised that Australians would be involved.

    I guess it's their history of using biological agents to control pests (like rabbits), such as myxoma virus in the 50's. Or Rabbit Calicivirus Disease [science.org.au], which was released onto the mainland after escaping from a test facility on Wardang island, ripped through the rabbit population, and was later was smuggled into New Zealand by some farmers who thought it would be a good idea to let it loose and see what happened. I think it's a pretty safe bet that there are some folks over there who are seriously considering using it in the wild.
  • I think the answer (for the species, anyway) is pretty clear: extraterran colonization.

    Nice idea, often tossed around. But what to do about virii with long incubation times? (2 years say.)
  • ...all this "delivery by virus" stuff isn't as exacting as the biologists want us to beleive it is. You throw a message in a bottle into the sea of humanity, and hope it's only read by the correct recipients.

    These guys should start fiddling with computer models more, and with live tissue less, before one of them picks his nose, gets contaminated, goes home, and kills us all.
  • by RareHeintz (244414) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @01:02PM (#515879) Homepage Journal
    Well, it was only a matter of time.

    I try not to be alarmist about stories like this, but no government - including bad-boy gov'ts like Iraq, North Korea, Libya and industrialized gov'ts like the US, UK, and Russia - is going to be able to keep themselves from experimenting with this. It would be unrealistic to think otherwise.

    I think the answer (for the species, anyway) is pretty clear: extraterran colonization. Of course, nobody outside of /. and K5 seems to think that a serious space program is worth funding any more, so the species is probably screwed.

    I will go now, and drink myself stupid.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • I feel much more threatened by super viruses created by the abuse of antibiotics.
    Methinks you mean resistant bacteria, not viruses - antibiotics are used against bacterial infections, not viral ones. (You might get antibiotics to treat a cold if you've picked up a secondary bacterial infection in your sinuses in addition to the good ol' rhinovirus - they'll help clear up the sinus infection but you'll still have the cold.)

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • I agree with you on some points. Making a virus that interferes with the reproductive cycle of a species is so totally short-sighted that I'm horrified they even thought of it.

    However, I'm not so sure the bioengineer/alchemist comparison is fair. It is true that large pieces of the puzzle are missing. However, through bold experimentation large pieces of the puzzle have also been filled in. The problem is the sheer size of the puzzle. With billions and billions of pieces, we never appear to know very much.

    Random experimentation is not used. At all. To do research, you need grants. And to get grants, you need to write proposals. And if the proposal is, "We want to do X, even though we don't have any idea what it will do," then you don't get the grant. I have no doubt that the researchers who engineered the virus were almost positive they knew what it would do. However, cellular interactions on an organismal scale are incredibly hard to predict, and they guessed wrong. But that does not mean that we should stop guessing and just sit there poking at things we're sure about! Really exciting discoveries aren't made when you already know the answer, but when you're trying to find the answer.

    One last nitpicking thing: Mad cow disease isn't a mutation to infect other animals. There's a lot of contention on the subject right now, but it appears to be some sort of inorganic agent that causes a specific neuronal protein to refold and form amyloid plaques. The neuronal protein is present in all mammals, but is slightly different between some groups. For example, cows and humans have similar forms of the protein and can infect eachother, but mice and humans have slightly different forms of the protein and cannot infect eachother.
  • it's all about where you are to the aliens, it probably would be pest control....
  • This reminded me of an article in Scientific American [scientificamerican.com] from several years back, The Specter of Biological Weapons [sciam.com]. It is a highly rational and informative article on the difficulties, both practical and psychological, or biological warfare. The high points is that most people find such acts repulsive, and therefore will not commit them. Also at issue is that the agents are often as lethal to the perpetrator as the victim, leading to major difficulties in production and delivery.

    To wit, it is easy for a human to use a virus to kill all the mice in a lab if the human is not susceptible to the virus. On the other hand, we have seen how difficult it is for a human to use a virus to kill other humans due to similar susceptibilities. Even something as simple as nerve gas requires special gear.

    The one most famous case in which Europeans killed the natives of North America with smallpox was successful because the Europeans had a much lower susceptibility to smallpox. This is not the case for sarin, anthrax, or possibly genetically engineered smallpox. To handle such items, a proper protective infrastructure must exist which can increases the visibility of the to be warrior.

    I feel much more threatened by super viruses created by the abuse of antibiotics. These agents exist. They already cause suffering. They move easily through the exisiting food chain to unsuspecting victim.

  • Computer models have to (obviously) be programmed. Therefore, the programmer must already know all of the factors that might come into play in the model, and what value each factor can have. Ecological computer models work decently enough because there are only a few hundred to a few thousand variables to be considered. In an organism, there are not only millions of variables, but we still don't know how a large percentage of the variables interact with one another.
    Therefore, it's impossible for us to ask a program "What would happen if I introduced X into the organism?" and get consisitently accurate responses. To get answers, we still have to perform experiments.
  • The submitted link (pointing to Yahoo Asia) is actually a just a story reporting a story that appears on New Scientist [newscientist.com] magazine (Although their site seems to be down at this moment).

    Anyway, just wanted to mention two things. One is that mouse IL-4 is inactive in humans, and vice versa.

    The second is that many pathogens and parasites are thought to already manipulate cytokines to alter immune responses to their advantage, in a way perhaps similar to what the Mousepox w/ IL-4 is doing.
  • nor is it a secret. Available in any good technically oriented library. Security through hiding knowledge never works in the long run. Thorough education of the consequences doesn't seem to have a better track record, though.

    As long as the genetic diversity and population size are great enough, then probability is large that you will find the mouse that has the very strong resistance. They're the ones left moving.

  • You could argue that to sterilize the mice in a presumably fairly painless way is considerably more humane than breaking their backs in a rat trap, or than a convulsive death from rat poison.
  • The high points is that most people find such acts repulsive...
    There are 6 billion people on this planet. Even if only 1 out of every 10,000 considers biological warfare to be acceptable, you've still got 600,000 potential bio-terrorists.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @10:10PM (#515889)
    > It is a highly rational and informative article on the difficulties, both practical and psychological, or biological warfare. The high points is that most people find such acts repulsive, and therefore will not commit them.

    "Most" isn't good enough.

    --
  • >Because anyone with a bachelor's degree in biology or biochemistry could have figured that out anyway, given the rest of the details?

    And that's the scary part.

    Basement nukes are hard. A group of grad students could probably build a working device from first principles, but without the fissionables for the core, they'd have nothing more than a job offer from the nearest defence contractor and a request to Please Not Port The Software To The Sony PS/2 from some well-dressed guys wearing really cool shades.

    50 years from now, basement bioweapons may be a reality. You're made of all the materials you need to build 'em.

    Someone else wrote that if they were in the scientists' shoes, they'd destroy the research and "hope nobody else ever figures it out."

    I disagree - and give mad props to the scientists for letting this cat out of the bag. I'd rather have our bioweapons engineers aware of it and working on the fix now, not later.

    Finally - is there really any fundamental difference between the "gene sequence for smallpox, patched with the human IL-4 equivalent" and the binary string used in the "Date:" buffer overflow in M$Outbreak?

    Security through obscurity never works.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Couple of thoughts on virus transmission.

    The article never mentioned how contagious the virus was. (I don't happen to know exactly how smallpox is spread.)

    But if all mice were dead within 9 days, that tells me that it probably kills pretty quickly. The problem with viruses that kill quickly (like Ebola) is that the symptoms tend to show up quickly, which allows victims of those viruses to be quickly identified and quarantined, before they can spread it around too much. Which is why, as deadly as Ebola is, outbreaks of it tend to be pretty limited as to the number of people they affect. And how large an area they spread out over. Also, because viruses like Ebola disable people, they prevent infected individuals from getting out and mixing around with other potential targets for the virus. This also limits its spread.

    If you're a virus, you don't want your host going around looking sickly, or else other candidate hosts will tend to keep a safe distance, restricting your ability to get passed around.

    Granted, Ebola does not get transmitted easily. It requires (if I understand correctly) some amount of body fluid exchange or physical contact. But it does transmit more easily than AIDS.

    Actually, AIDS would make the ideal doomsday virus in terms of how long it takes for symptoms to appear. People with AIDS get months to years of healthy appearance to go out and mix with others and spread the virus around. It's only because of the difficulty of transmission of AIDS (some forms of sexual contact, needle sharing, blood exchange) that it hasn't killed more.

    Any true "doomsday" virus would have to:

    1. Have a long incubation period, allowing those infected as much time as possible to mix with other potential hosts for the virus.

    2. Be highly contagious. Ideally, if it could transmit airborne, then probably a maximum number of victims could be reached.

    The virus in the Dustin Hoffman movie "Outbreak" could probably not have wiped out a huge population, because its symptoms showed up so quickly. Infected people could be identified easily and early on.

  • I think the point that human bean was making is that lab mice are a very homogeneous group.

    The goal with them is to have a critter that reacts the same way for anyone who performs a given set of research. In hind sight, it's not to surprising that if one was very suseptible to a particular bug, they all would be.

  • There is a reason that viruses like Ebola which kill very quickly and spectacularly are not as widespread as something like AIDS which is quiet and slow - they kill off their carriers too quickly to spread very far. It takes the virus a while to build up enough copies to transmit to other individuals, and if it kills the carrier before that, or makes him foam at the mouth and fall down, others will probably avoid coming too close...
  • I guess it's their history of using biological agents to control pests (like rabbits), such as myxoma virus in the 50's.

    Of course the Aussies had one hell of a rabbit problem. Some dope released (or they escaped) european rabbits into the wild where they had no or few natural predators. Suddenly they were up to their arpits in starving rabbits. That ate everything and were crowding out the local species.

    After the Calicivirus disease was released, the "... reduction in the rabbit population has allowed the regeneration of many arid-zone shrubs and an increase in the numbers of native animals."

    They seem to have a similiar problem with mice. Floods of mice. I've seen documentaries on the subject where the mice look like a flow of some brown fluid. Again, no predators.

  • The mouse IL-4 virus may be inactive in humans, but comments by the scientists made me believe that there is a human equivalent to IL-4. One of them was quoted saying, "It would be safe to assume that if some idiot did put human IL-4 into human smallpox, they'd increase the lethality quite dramatically,".

    (As a side note, why would any sane person make this statement? That's like saying, hey! I don't know if y'all know this, but if you put enough plutonium-239 together, you can create an explosive nuclear fisson chain. Oh, but don't do that, ok? Nuclear explosions bad, hmm'k.)

    Now, we have a very good vaccine for smallpox, good enough that it has effectively been eliminated as a threat to humans. However, in mice, the addition of IL-4 decreased the effectiveness of mouse smallpox vaccine to around 50%. If the same decrease in effectiveness was seen with the human smallpox vaccine against smallpox+human IL-4, I'd say there is a cause for concern.

    Remember, before the advent of the smallpox vaccine, millions died from the disease.

    Eric
  • There are lots of reasons why the most lethal agent possible does not make it the best possible biological weapon. The ideal biological weapon would: 1) Kill only your adversary, not you. Total lethality is a Bad Thing(tm) in biological weapons. Being able to vaccinate your troops against a weapon makes it much more usable. Particularly if you can somehow be the only group with the vaccine. 2) Stop being deadly immediately after being used. Something that's very lethal and very contagious is bad, because after you've killed everybody, the resources that you've just conquered are inaccessible, due to the fact that they're contaminated. This is one of the reasons that anthrax spores are so practical from a biological weapons standpoint: they become inactivated after settling to the ground, which happens mere hours after they're used. 3) Be very hardy. The agent has to withstand being flown up in a missle and explosively aeresolized upon detonation. For these reasons, and a lot of others, nobody is ever going to "accidentally" create the "perfect" biological weapon. Seriously, do you guys just put whatever pops into your head into those little summaries you write? It's very geeklike to make sweeping generalizations about topics about which you know nothing, but in the case of posting "news" you sort of have an obligation to at least consider the possibility of your own ignorance before just sucummbing to the usual diarrhea of the mouth (or fingers, as the case may be.)
    * mild mannered physics grad student by day *
  • From a perhaps more reputable source:
    New Scientist [newscientist.com]

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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