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Comment: The above post is riddled with errors (Score 1) 218

by Rob Carlson (#47672127) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier
The introduction above is full of errors. First, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) piece falsely claims that the Watanabe paper describes taking "genes from the deadly human 1918 Spanish Flu and insert[ing] them into the H5N1 avian flu to make a new virus." Rather the paper, with the title "Circulating Avian Influenza Viruses Closely Related to the 1918 Virus Have Pandemic Potential", describes assembling a new virus from genes similar (displaying homology) to the 1918 virus. This may be scary in itself, but it is nothing like what either the BAS or the slashdot piece describe. Second, the slashdot post asserts that "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." To my knowledge, this is A) completely wrong, and B) appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the BAS text. The Dando and Novossiolova piece in BAS uses the following verbiage "a team of Chinese scientists [created] a hybrid viral strain between the H5N1 avian influenza virus and the H1N1 human flu virus that triggered a pandemic in 2009 and claimed several thousand lives." The naturally occurring H1N1(2009) strain killed people; the laboratory hybrid did not. Again, creating that hybrid might be scary, but the slashdot post gets the facts completely wrong.

Comment: garages, innovation, and security (Score 1) 108

by Rob Carlson (#40363423) Attached to: Do It Yourself Biology Research, Past and Present
For those who are interested, the official position of the US Government on garage labs can be found in The National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats (PDF), signed by the President. Paraphrasing, the report says 'Garage biology is good and necessary for the future physical and economic security of the United States.' Also, in a shameless plug, here is a link to the book mentioned in the article, Biology is Technology.

Comment: You say tomato... (Score 1) 466

by Rob Carlson (#38172584) Attached to: Valve's Gabe Newell On Piracy: It's Not a Pricing Problem
Region blocking or other barriers to access are the equivalent of infinite price. I can't tell whether Mr. Newell is mincing words or just doesn't get this. Barriers to access tend to incentivize the very behavior they are supposed to stop, namely black markets, and are therefore often counterproductive. This is true for games, for books, for drugs (legal and otherwise). See Adrian Johns' "Piracy" (http://www.amazon.com/Piracy-Intellectual-Property-Gutenberg-Gates/dp/0226401197/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322280844&sr=8-1).

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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