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Comment Re:This doesn't look good (Score 1) 126

Pathogenity requires extensive adaptive mechanisms from a microbe, otherwise it isn't able to live in an organism with an immune system. Microbes that cause human illnesses have through countless generations developed traits that enable them to grip molecules on human cells, thrive in tissues, and resist the immune cells' attempts to destroy them.

I don't know if I really agree with that. Some of the more dangerous pathogens are those that have recently jumped from other species and have had little time to evolve into coexistence with their new host. SIV infections are symptomless in their natural host, but deadly in related primate species (including HIV in humans). Same thing with herpesviruses, relatively minor symptoms in their natural host, but often deadly when they make a zoonotic jump (herpes B amd AlHV are good examples). Plus 120,000 years ago is not very long at all on an evolutionary time scale and it could have easily been exposed to other primates/mammals (even humans) at that time. In fact the age of it really only guarantees that a human host would have zero protective immunity against it, so it would be like smallpox blowing through native American populations.

Comment Re:Christians (Score 1) 344

I question whether that is really true. I've seen a few articles that would lead me to believe that the US isn't alone. In fact, I saw a recent survey in the UK where about about half of people interviewed felt that alternatives to evolution should be taught in the classroom (including 30% of teachers):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/nov/07/creationism-intelligent-design-religion

Comment Re:Is this legal? (Score 1) 245

Limiting access to any virus or bacteria that's in the environment is rather hard.

Depends on the pathogen. Things like smallpox, sars, or ebola are not going to be easy to come by, while something like influenza and the information to recreate Spanish flu would be. But that was kind of what I was getting at in my last point. Someone could easily start cloning things into common pathogens, which is not a good idea unless you are doing it in controlled conditions (like a BSL3 lab), but in practice there is no way you can effectively regulate that.

Comment Re:Is this legal? (Score 1) 245

Virtually all academic researchers are required to have approval of a recombinant DNA research advisory committee before they do any kind of work like this. There certainly is a real possibility of someone creating something dangerous, such as a recombinant pathogen which is the very reason why we have those oversight committees in the first place. For example, the article mentions creating tattoos using florescent squid genes, which is vague but I'm assuming the only way that would work would be to make a recombinant virus expressing a GFP-like gene. So you really don't that it might be a bad idea to have people injecting infectious agents into themselves that they brewed up in their garage?

I'm all for regulating this, but realistically there is no way to prevent people from making recombinant human pathogens in their garage while still allowing legitimate educational activities like making GFP-expressing e.coli. So frankly, regulation is pointless beyond what already is in place, such as limiting access to pathogens.

Comment Re:Great Depression? (Score 1) 873

We make paper. Or Zeros and Ones. Those will not be worth as much as they once were.

The US is still by far the largest manufacturing economy in the world. In fact, it's almost as large as the next 2 countries (China and Japan) combined:

2007 stats in USD:
US: 1.8 trillion
China: 1.1 trillion
Japan: 0.9 trillion

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/dnllist.asp

Comment Re:Retarded (Score 1) 294

Flagship demo projects like this often get exceedingly big discounts from the vendors.

Yeah, remember Virginia Tech's crazy Mac cluster that had a a slew of Power G5s that they ran for what seemed like less than a year and replaced with XServes? IIRC, Apple gave them an even swap for the brand new XServes.

Privacy

Submission + - RFID Powder

microsage writes: Engadget is carrying a short article about a new RFID technology with some worrisome privacy implications.

From the article:
"As if the various other permutations and teensyness of RFID weren't wild enough, here comes Hitachi with its new "powder" 0.05mm x 0.05mm RFID chips. The new chips are 64 times smaller than the previous record holder... and yet still make room for a 128-bit ROM that can store a unique 38-digit ID number. "

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