Bill Gates wants us to fear mosquitoes, not sharks

Bill Gates has a long, complicated and showy relationship with malaria eradication, and in a new letter, he makes a case that mosquitoes are Earth's deadliest animals, outkilling even the murderous h. sap.. Read the rest

How would we get rid of every single mosquito?

In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences?

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We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!

▹▹ Full show notes

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Why science needs silly-sounding research

Earlier this week, scientists announced that they'd found evidence suggesting malaria-carrying mosquitoes are more attracted to the smell of human flesh than healthy mosquitoes. This research — which, I'm sure you'll agree, has some important implications — grew out of research that could be deemed very silly. In fact, this new finding was built on IgNobel-winning research published back in 1996, which found that malaria mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of stinky cheese. Read the rest

The problems with the Gates Foundation malaria vaccine

Don't get too excited about the RTS,S malaria vaccine, the development of which is being funded by the Gates Foundation. At present, the vaccine doesn't seem to work well enough to make a difference and nobody knows what it's going to cost (a big deal when you're talking about a disease like malaria, which goes hand-in-hand with poverty). Beyond that, several leading vaccine researchers are questioning the methodology used to analyze the results of RTS,S trials. The vaccine may be even less effective than previously thought. Bottom line: The research is valuable, but this particular vaccine probably won't be the breakthrough people are hoping for. Read the rest