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How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier 218

Lasrick (2629253) writes "A scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published an article in June revealing that he had taken genes from the deadly human 1918 Spanish Flu and inserted them into the H5N1 avian flu to make a new virus—one which was both far deadlier and far more capable of spreading than the original avian strain. In July it was revealed that the same scientist was conducting another study in which he genetically altered the 2009 strain of flu to enable it to evade immune responses, 'effectively making the human population defenseless against re-emergence.' In the U.S. alone, biosafety incidents involving pathogens happen more than twice per week. These 'gain-of-function' experiments are accidents waiting to happen, with the possibility of starting deadly pandemics that could kill millions. It isn't as if it hasn't happened before: in 2009, a group of Chinese scientists created a viral strain of flu virus that escaped the lab and created a pandemic, killing thousands of people. 'Against this backdrop, the growing use of gain-of-function approaches for research requires more careful examination. And the potential consequences keep getting more catastrophic.' This article explores the history of lab-created pandemics and outlines recommendations for a safer approach to this type of research."

Banking Via Twitter? 193

In the latest example of how just because you can do something doesn't mean you should, one credit union has decided to offer a new feature, dubbed "tweetMyMoney," that allows members to interact with their accounts via Twitter. Can't wait for the next version, "tweetSomeoneElsesMoney." "tweetMyMoney, available exclusively to Vantage members! With tweetMyMoney, you can monitor your account balance, deposits, withdrawals, holds and cleared checks with simple commands. And, you can even transfer funds within your account. It's all available on Twitter, 24/7!"

Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike