Yesterday, the CDC announced the discovery of several vials of smallpox virus, forgotten in a storage room since the 1950s. Back in April, Nature's Sara Reardon wrote about the risks (and benefits) of just this sort of thing.
Her story primarily focuses on sources of extant smallpox other than forgotten lab samples — virus that could, theoretically, survive in permafrost mummies, for instance, or the carefully saved smallpox scabs that people stumble across from time to time. But it includes this great paragraph that would turn out to be very prescient.
This month, the World Health Assembly — the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) — will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, and decide when to destroy the only known stocks of smallpox virus, held in deep freezes at highly protected laboratories in the United States and Russia. It is a move that has been delayed since the 1980s, and in all likelihood will be put off yet again. But even if the official stocks of virus are destroyed, the chance remains that other batches of the virus could be hidden in a freezer somewhere — or that the pathogen could re-emerge, zombie-like, from a mummified corpse such as the dead woman found in Queens.
Images: Some rights reserved by PAHO/WHO
In many states in America, legislatures have erected punitive, vindictive barriers for women seeking contraception, requiring them to get prescriptions for safe, widely taken medications.
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In 2009, President Obama pledged to “restore science to its rightful place.” He said, “We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the space race, through policies that invest in basic and applied research, create new incentives for private innovation, promote breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and […]
Some truths are universal. For one, your phone will always run out of power when you most need it. For another, the charging cords that come packaged with your Apple device will fray, split, and rip faster than Usain Bolt in a game of tag.Instead, pick up a charging cord that anyone would have a tough […]
Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine. We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin […]
Bluetooth speakers may be convenient to use, but many of them just aren’t that powerful. Sure, it may be fine if you’re seated in front of the speaker. But move across the room, and you may strain to hear what’s coming from those tiny drivers.There’s a reason why the G-BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Boombox (now $79.99 in the Boing […]