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Threatened Pandemics and Laboratory Escapes: Self-fulfilling Prophecies

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the here-sniff-this-tube dept.

Biotech 94

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Martin Furmanski, a medical doctor and medical historian, writes of the laboratory escapes of high-consequence pathogens that have occurred in recent decades (including several instances of smallpox!). The article explores 'gain of function" experiments-- experiments in which researchers manipulate dangerous pathogens to increase communicability among humans, and whether the benefit we see from those experiments outweighs the incredible risk. 'Many other laboratory escapes of high-consequence pathogens have occurred, resulting in transmission beyond laboratory personnel. Ironically, these laboratories were working with pathogens to prevent the very outbreaks they ultimately caused. For that reason, the tragic consequences have been called "self-fulfilling prophecies.''"

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A dozen primates (3, Funny)

Warbothong (905464) | about 7 months ago | (#46631209)

Bruce Willis agrees.

Re:A dozen primates (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46631261)

This can be summed up briefly:

Murphy's Law.

Re:A dozen primates (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631585)

This can be summed up briefly:

Murphy's Law.

So locate these labs in the middle of Africa or the Middle East. Then when the next horrible pandemic escapes the lab at least itll do a lot of good in the world and solve a lot of problems.

Whatever happenedâ¦. (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 7 months ago | (#46631855)

â¦to the good old April Fools day stories on Slashdot.

I used to look forward annually to see what would come outâ¦why did they do away with it?

:)

Seriously, one day of OMG Poniesâ¦was fun and funny.

RIP April Fools on Slashdot.

Re:Whatever happenedâ¦. (1)

Lotana (842533) | about 7 months ago | (#46636045)

RIP April Fools on Slashdot.

Good riddance. Internet turns useless on that particular day.

Be vewy vewy caweful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631217)

Killer viruses/bacteria escaping from labs is one thing, just don't cause a resonance cascade!

Better Idea (3, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | about 7 months ago | (#46631221)

Wouldn't it make more sense to locate these labs in an incredibly isolated area like an island in the middle of the ocean or the Moon? Someplace that CAN be quarantined 100% in the event of a mishap?

Re:Better Idea (4, Insightful)

RobinH (124750) | about 7 months ago | (#46631257)

I don't think you'll have a lot of top-notch research scientists applying for those jobs. Just like it's hard to attract doctors to rural areas, it's hard to attract the majority of people away from population centers, especially if you're looking for the best and brightest.

Re:Better Idea (4, Interesting)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 7 months ago | (#46631389)

As a counterpoint to this argument, consider the X-Planes of the 50's and 60's; these were all done precisely that way: by attracting the best and brightest to remote locations, cut off from population centers and given a remit to do the best they could. Think the Bell-X1, for example, or Lookheed's A-12 (which became the SR-71).

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634079)

This is my plan for my Mars habitat.

I'll just maintain the equipment, it's operated remotely via software.

Any Mars colony is going to have to pay for itself some way, being on an entirely different planet makes regulation moot, sell that.

Re:Better Idea (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 7 months ago | (#46634395)

As a counterpoint to this argument, consider the X-Planes of the 50's and 60's; these were all done precisely that way: by attracting the best and brightest to remote locations, cut off from population centers and given a remit to do the best they could. Think the Bell-X1, for example, or Lookheed's A-12 (which became the SR-71).

Many of the people involved were in the military and had no say in where they were posted. Qualified employees of military hardware contractors would also be hard pressed to refuse a job on a top secret project... and if they did it's a small pool of people and word gets around if you are not a team player. If you are a bad fit at Lockheed then GD, Hughes, Northrop, Raytheon, et al., would also question your viability. In the end I doubt many people had to be "attracted", they were just sent.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46635881)

Now if only we could somehow get the military interested in dangerous pathogens.

Re:Better Idea (1)

Lotana (842533) | about 7 months ago | (#46636059)

Yeah! Nuclear and Chemical weapons get all the rage these days. It is time that the "B" in the NBC gets some love!

Re:Better Idea (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 months ago | (#46631501)

Why not use robotics to work with the samples remotely? Put a laboratory in a remote place, heavily guarded, but don't require scientists to be physically present to do their work. This is probably the only way something like this could make sense on the moon. But then again, the transmission time to the moon, could make robotics tricky if you required real time control.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631653)

Why should this require real-time control? If you're working with something so dangerous it needs to be isolated on the Moon, you should have planned each step of the process in advance.

Re:Better Idea (0)

CensorshipDonkey (1108755) | about 7 months ago | (#46632041)

There are a lot of research labs in more out of the way locations. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for example, isn't exactly close to any fun cities. It's in the Knoxville area, but separate, and Knoxville isn't exactly a great draw.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634089)

Fuck you. Knoxville is EPIC.. GO VOLS!

Here, have a mod point....

Re:Better Idea (-1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 7 months ago | (#46633117)

I thought that the "best and brightest" would go wherever they were needed. Are you telling me that in actual fact they're shallow people who don't want to live outside a small number of metropolises where they can live among people like themselves? Where's the diversity? These people aren't small-minded, and yet here you are telling me otherwise. I don't believe it.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634375)

I thought [...]

Given the typical quality of your posts, this claim of yours is highly suspect.

I don't believe it.

And Jesus wept. Who gives a shit?

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634523)

Sounds like a good case for teleoperation.

What's a few million dollars more for DARPA and the like?

Re:Better Idea (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46635179)

You don't want the best and brightest. You want the best and brightest who are driven enough by their passion to move to BFE.

Re:Better Idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631275)

We could put them on Madagascar...

Re:Better Idea (1)

Lotana (842533) | about 7 months ago | (#46636079)

Madagascar is quite impossible to spread the virus due to only having a port, but its also useless for vaccine research. Have you noticed that it got no hospitals?

Re:Better Idea (2)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 7 months ago | (#46631329)

An island is hardly isolated; something airborne could possibly make it to land or be carried by migratory birds.

The moon is an interesting idea; however consider the consequences of a rocket explosion during takeoff. Or, even more horrifying, consider the consequence of rocket failure and the payload crashing on to a populated area.

Re:Better Idea (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46635975)

One example was an experimental rabbit eradication virus on an island 2km off the coast of Australia. It escaped to the mainland so instead of a systematic eradication of feral rabbits it was a normal epidemic. The survivors and descendants are now resistant to that virus and rabbit numbers have recovered.

rockets and microbes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46639011)

A launchpad explosion usually burns any biological material to ashes - which is why people do not survive. Still, if you want to be sure, include a incineration device that destroy the virus samples in case of trouble. If you don't trust thermite, consider a small nuke.

What researcher wouldn't want a lab on the moon?

Re:Better Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631347)

They tried that with the Plum Island Animal Disease Center -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plum_Island_Animal_Disease_Center

Re:Better Idea (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | about 7 months ago | (#46631457)

Plum Island is hardly isolated. It is located in Long Island Sound (more like a large lake than open ocean) between Long Island NY and the CT coastline. Plum Island is home for a lot of seabirds, which would be one easy vector to transport disease to the mainland. There are migratory seals in the area in the winter, though I'm not sure if they go to Plum Island specifically.

Re:Better Idea (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#46631527)

It's close enough that it's suspected deer swim to it from CT, but remote enough that it has issues in storms. And it isn't protected inside the long island sound, but is at the tip of long island, getting worse and more open-ocean weather than the sound would provide. If "isolated" means "scientists working there have neighbors who work in NYC" then yes, it's isolated. About as "isolated" from major population centers as if it were on Ellis or Liberty islands.

Re:Better Idea (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | about 7 months ago | (#46631601)

Storms. Yes - this. Definitely sees occasional storm surge tides and hurricanes. Support issues notwithstanding, Antarctica would seem to make more sense. Possibly deep underground in the middle of a large desert might make more sense too.

Re:Better Idea (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 7 months ago | (#46632457)

Have you been watching Helix? (Arctic I know)

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631781)

Long Island Sound

Which is why the Republicans love the idea of infecting that area. Long Island has long been a stronghold of political sensibility so they hate and want to destroy the people there. They supported Fat Christie's attempt to isolate NYC from the rest of the world, and have said that they want to trap the people of Long Island. In the minds of those racists, murdering the people of Long Island would be an even better solution. People like Rmoney are crazy.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46632049)

Just fucking stop.

Thanks.

Re:Better Idea (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 7 months ago | (#46631425)

The problem is that these viruses are designed to get around things like this. A researcher becomes infected and no one necessarily knows for 3 weeks. Assuming these researchers are allowed to come home from the moon ever, there is still a risk.

And in the case it ever escapes simply into the quarantined lab, you have to assume that these infected scientists are entirely capable or panicking and breaking quarantine. When you are talking about deadly viruses, capable of destroying civilization, you have to assume that there exist people who want to spread it, someone infected will possibly try to hide it, and if it breaks out into the lab there will be absolute panic and a total breakdown of safeguards and procedures.

Add to that that most of these are airborne, and bacteria can survive both in space and entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Re:Better Idea (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46636015)

A researcher becomes infected and no one necessarily knows for 3 weeks

Or years in the case of someone I know that got tuberculosis in a lab. However she wasn't working directly with it and doctors could not recognise it until she was examined by a retired doctor who happened to have TB experience.

Re:Better Idea (3, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#46631455)

Well, if you want all possible funds going towards logistical problems rather than actual research on the intended subject area, sure, we could try that. I'll note that nothing is 100% sure: in the middle of the ocean, you could still have people stealing pathogens and releasing them for terrorism.

BSL4 labs are no joke already. We already spend a lot on the BSL4 facilities themselves, 1.2 billion in 2003 for example. [hpac.com] The safety measures inside are considerable:

When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a positive pressure personnel suit, with a segregated air supply, is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a level four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a biosafety level 4 (or P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.

wiki [wikipedia.org]

Diseases that are out there in the wild, it seems stupid to suggest there's more of a risk from studying it than dealing with it if it happens. Smallpox, which has been eliminated in the wild and that we have a vaccine for, you could definitely make the case, however there would still be smallpox sources out there. [usatoday.com] , it could re-emerge. There is no antiviral drug approved for smallpox. [wikipedia.org] If we get wind that someone is making a smallpox bomb, or if it re-emerges naturally, we'd probably want to start testing cidofovir or some other drugs ASAP. And sticking all our labs dealing with it in the middle of the ocean is a good way to make sure that's as slow as possible.

Re:Better Idea (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#46631581)

Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time.

And when these labs, often remote, have power failures, how do the doors lock? They don't. They are Fukishima safe - "we'll never lose mains power at the same time as the generators being out". Though it has happened at BSL4 labs before.

All air and water service going to and coming from a biosafety level 4 (or P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.

Until they violate standards because the amount of water going in and out can't be handles when one of the many devices in the chain of cleaning is out. Yes, that's happened before too.

Standards are great, but as anyone in computers knows, having standards doesn't mean adherence to them. You only need to meet them once every audit. And if the lab is government, the inspectors and lab are funded by the same group, so there''s a conflict of interest. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Better Idea (1)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#46632153)

I've set up a BSL4 lab, the door strikes are supposed to be Fail Secure, so that when power to the strike fails the door stays locked. Power needs to be supplied to the strike to unlock it. They require a waiver from the local fire marshal before installation, since there is no escape in the case of a fire that causes a loss of power. You're thinking of Fail Safe doors that unlock when the power fails, they are required for most stairwells and exits.

Re:Better Idea (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#46632195)

And when these labs, often remote, have power failures, how do the doors lock? They don't.

Are you saying this based on some source or are you just assuming there's no contingency plans because the wikipedia page I linked to doesn't specifically mention them? You appear to be arguing the plan as summarized by wikipedia is inadequate. Definitely. That's why it's not used as the standard (hopefully.)

Standards are great, but as anyone in computers knows, having standards doesn't mean adherence to them. You only need to meet them once every audit. And if the lab is government, the inspectors and lab are funded by the same group, so there''s a conflict of interest. What could possibly go wrong?

So, what is the alternative exactly? Shut it down because something MIGHT go wrong despite all odds? Have a non-government organization either audit or run the labs?

Re:Better Idea (2)

Megol (3135005) | about 7 months ago | (#46633395)

You are just wrong. Do you know of any class 4 labs that have any failure? The one I know of is placed where there can be no earthquakes, there can be no flooding, there are at least two power backups (batteries + generator). IIRC it also had a layered construction so that any improbable leak from the solid concrete "bunker" will not contaminate ground water. Oh yeah, it is also placed under ground with several security checks required to enter.

BTW I've been in another high security bunker when power failed - had to wait until the security doors was opened manually from the outside via a hydraulic system. Took some time, good no one in the group was claustrophobic.

Re:Better Idea (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#46634255)

Do you know of any class 4 labs that have any failure?

If there was, would they be allowed to talk about it?

I've read lots of the conspiracy theories, and they say so. It's not like a hermetic seal is in place, otherwise, why would they be so anal about making sure they are negative pressure facilities? So if the power fails, at least one of the "security measures" is compromised. And no, I've not been in one. They don't allow tours.

Re:Better Idea (1)

airdweller (1816958) | about 7 months ago | (#46654547)

"why would they be so anal about making sure they are negative pressure facilities?"
Can you really not be able to think of a reason?

Do you know . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46639081)

. . . any country that won't bother with a class 4 lab in order to study viruses? Or who might actually order an incredibly expensive class 4 lab, only to see the contracor pocket 90% of the money and deliver an ordinary building? A fact that never gets out because such people knows who to bribe?

It won't matter how good a class 4 lab in a secure location might be. Some won't bother, some simply won't have a secure location. So it gets hit by tsunami or cracked open & plundered by enemy troops. Reason enough not to make viruses worse than they are already.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46635203)

*looks up at gravity lock door*

".. how do the doors lock? They don't."
what, exactly, do you base that assertions on?
I hesitate to ask becasue your comment on Fukishima is a strong indicator you just pull crap out of your ass.

Re:Better Idea (1)

FearTheDonut (2665569) | about 7 months ago | (#46631683)

Yes, we have a smallpox vaccine. However, it's efficacy is dubious against a weaponized form of smallpox. I'll refer you to the book "The Demon In The Freezer." Towards the end, the author points to real research and publicly accessible information on how to make smallpox effective even against immunized individuals. It's apparently so easy, the author did it on a different pox virus in a lab.

That book scared the living crap out of me.

Re:Better Idea (1)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#46632237)

Check out the book 'Germs' by Judith Miller and others, written in the 1990s. The only book that I have ever read that gave me nightmares. A few years after it was published it was discovered that when Clinton ordered the military to stop all research into creating new bio-weapons the Pentagon ignored their Commander-In-Chief and simply changed the development program names and moved them to the Black Budget. Didn't even move the techs desks.

Re:Better Idea (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 7 months ago | (#46631575)

. . . and I was thinking that it would be best to put these labs right in the middle of where the anti-vaccination crowds live . . .

Re:Better Idea (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 7 months ago | (#46631879)

I think this place may be adequate:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atacama_Desert [wikipedia.org]

Nothing survives there. In 200 million years, no form of bacteria has been able to evolve to survive in the conditions there. You'd have to use pressurized buildings and carefully controlled climate though.

Re:Better Idea (1)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#46632251)

Keep in mind the earthquakes in the area, a couple of which exceeded 8 on the Richter scale in the last few years . . .

Re:Better Idea (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 7 months ago | (#46634209)

It is possible to build a building that will survive even a 9.5 on the Richter Scale.

The point is more, can you situate your lab in a place where even if the microbes escape, they can't survive on their own? The arid nature of the higher points of this desert, in combination with the significantly low pressure atmosphere, make even survival for humans slightly doubtful in places.

Re:Better Idea (2)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#46634959)

The Atacama is a weird place. Other deserts have cacti and bugs and such. The Atacama has nothing. The only sign of life is an occasional mummified sea bird laying on the surface, with no indication whether it died a month ago or a century ago. Rock fragments that split and fall off lay in a corona around the parent because they never wash away in the rain. There is a slight crust on the top of the sand, like a snow crust, since the sand particles have lain together undisturbed for so long they've bonded together. I'm sure that if I were to cross the Paracas Peninsula today I would probably still see my tracks from 1987, partly filled in by dust but still visible.

It's very strange to be on a bus driving through this dead moonscape, and then drop into an irrigated river valley with rice paddies and shrimp farms. Then back up the other side of the valley, over the crest of the hill, and you're back on the moon.

Re:Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634547)

Keep in mind the earthquakes in the area, a couple of which exceeded 8 on the Richter scale in the last few years . . .

Well, if an earthquake creates a breach and the microbes make a break for it, they'll find themselves stranded in the Atacama Desert. The only threat in that case would likely be from CIA-backed right-wing paramilitary death squads providing the microbes with go-bags and/or rescue choppers.

Re:Better Idea (1)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#46632101)

The Soviets located their hottest bio-weapons lab on an island in the Aral Sea. Unfortunately now that the Aral Sea is drying up it's no longer an island . . .

Re:Better Idea (1)

KBehemoth (2519358) | about 7 months ago | (#46632553)

All these comments and no Madagascar jokes?

Re:Better Idea (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 7 months ago | (#46645607)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org] (not incredibly isolated but sometimes i post links as they might be of interest to the prev poster).

Re:Better Idea (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about 7 months ago | (#46645949)

Wouldn't it make more sense to locate these labs in an incredibly isolated area like an island in the middle of the ocean or the Moon? Someplace that CAN be quarantined 100% in the event of a mishap?

Maybe you could put it near the arctic circle and name it Arctic Biosystems.

OMG!!! Pink Marx!!! (1, Offtopic)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 months ago | (#46631225)

I fully support ideas of Marx where it concerns the abolition of the State and income tax resistance [wikipedia.org] .

Given the nature of today's date, let's go further.

Marx insisted that the bourgeois exploits the proletariat through the "constant revolutionising of production and uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions". [wikipedia.org] So let's declare revolutionizing of production to be illegal and prohibit any form of non-incremental but sudden advances where it concerns production, manufacturing and technology. Introduction of personal computers was not an incremental step, introduction of the Internet itself, the combustion engine, powered flight, nuclear power, molecular biology and DNA based technology, and more, none of these are evolutionary, these are revolutionary technologies and must be abolished, prohibited and abandoned in favor of more evolutionary technologies and production techniques, which do not serve to undermine the status quo of the every day lives of the proletariat.

Of-course all private property must be abolished, inequality must be squashed, this has to start with the 1% but it cannot stop there, it must be taken to its logical conclusion. As long as we have inequality there can be no true Marxism / communism, so we have to find the lowest common denominator, which everybody must agree, is the ultimate goal that provides the conformity necessary to prevent rise of capital formation. Let's find that lowest common denominator taking into account that private property starts with our own bodies, let's look beyond the obvious, such as land, factories, cars, houses, and such, let's look at the root of this evil, the moment of conception itself. Nobody can be allowed to utilize naturally occurring DNA based advantages, which are also manifestation of private property and thus capital formation, we must eradicate this inequality at the moment of formation. This requires that all sperm and eggs used in conception are equalized, there can be no deviation from the standards and norms in order to achieve maximum parity.

Of-course among the already living there are other forms of inequalities that can also be addressed immediately. There are, after all, people who through no fault of their own lost limbs, eyesight, normal functioning of their natural bodies, which is where the problem of inequality is very sharply observed. Nobody should be in a position to utilize his or her property to rise above the normal, thus normal must be understood to be the poorest in all properties, including body functions and capabilities. This means that upon reaching a certain age, all people must undergo a mandatory equalization procedure, consisting of the following elements:
* Removal of limbs
* Lobotomy
* Removal of other discriminating organs, such as eyes, tongue, nose, external genitalia.

Only by ensuring that no person can reasonably elevate his or her worldly status via acquiring possessions, especially if starting from an unequal playing field, which includes having more in terms of body capabilities than anybody else.

In the spirit of Marxism / Communism access to all valuables must be open to all international claimants, so for example an American peasant must be sharing fruits of his labor with anybody in the world, including any Indian or Chinese or middle-eastern comrade [wikipedia.org] and while taxes must be resisted [wikipedia.org] by the majority, a minority must be forced to pay them anyway, and while the State must be abolished [wikipedia.org] , taxes still must be collected on behalf of the.... State [wikipedia.org] ?

We must all subscribe to these notions or we must at the very least admit that Marx was one of the biggest jokers of them all and as such he firmly asserted his position in the OMG Pink Pony movement [metlin.org] .

point of interest--read "Biohazard" by Ken Alibek (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631243)

and you will definitely see none of this as surprising (if you happen to now).

I'm only surprised really that nothing catastrophic has actually occurred yet.

http://www.amazon.com/Biohazard-Chilling-Largest-Biological-World--Told/dp/0385334966/&qid=1396369593&sr=8-1&keywords=ken+alibek

Captain Trips!! (3, Informative)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 7 months ago | (#46631281)

This was the basis for a Stephen King story in 1978, "The Stand".

Also "The Hot Zone" was a non-fictional account of an Ebola outbreak from a lab.

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

Matheus (586080) | about 7 months ago | (#46631385)

Don't forget about the Andromeda Strain! (1969)

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#46631439)

I think Frank Herbert's The White Plague [wikipedia.org] (1982) is more likely.

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

ToddInSF (765534) | about 7 months ago | (#46650873)

That novel even made Stephen King shudder...

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46635251)

Yep. That book came directly out of the program NASA set up to stop any possible contamination from a moon visit.
With time we realized it wasn't needed.
I think the movie is better than the book, BTW.

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46636053)

A chilling bit of fantasy but I'm sure something more realistic from a better writer would have been more interesting (and less easily dismissed as fantasy).
Doctors with nukes FFS!

I think the movie is better than the book

I agree, it was tidied up a bit and less silly.

Re:Captain Trips!! (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46631485)

This was the basis for a Stephen King story in 1978, "The Stand".

Been a while since I read that one - did he actually go into detail about the origin of the plague, or just leave it at "plague killed most everyone?"

Considering the source, I wouldn't be surprised if he described not only the origin of the plague, but it's shape, texture, coloration, as well as the design of the lab it escaped from, the type of lighting there, what sort of fabric the scientists wore...

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 7 months ago | (#46631539)

It was a US army base developing a weaponized superflu. From memory, the superflu was more a McGuffin than anything important... it was the cause of societal breakdown that allowed The Devil to come to earth.

However, the characters did have a discussion about what would happen if any of the survivors accidentally opened another one of those labs.

Re:Captain Trips!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634637)

I got your Mcguffin right here, buddy.

("Mcguffin" is what I call my throbbing member — my lil' (well, not so lil') buddy down there always gets the plot rolling, if ya know what I mean.)

Re:Captain Trips!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631645)

Not sure about the book but the TV series started with the origin right with it breaking out of the lab. It never describes how it actually escaped containment (the demon or crow was the suggested culprit), but one guard escapes the quarentine lockdown in the first 5 min of the series with his family, they crash into a gas station half dead in east texas and it spreads from there.

Scarry, I was just looking at the recent ebola outbreak in africa. People forget we have had quite a few pandemics, even right up to the spanish flu outbreak.

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) | about 7 months ago | (#46632631)

That's the way in the book too. Damn I hated that guard.

Re:Captain Trips!! (1)

eric_harris_76 (861235) | about 7 months ago | (#46645429)

"The Andromeda Strain" was about containing one that got harvested, but poorly.

Auto-starting audio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631545)

Not done.

What's with the auto-play sound bar in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631569)

My sound is muted, but it's considered bad form to auto-play audio because not everyone mutes their sound.

This one goes out to the robot reading me the news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631675)

What's your number, baby?

Those are ordinary prophecies (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#46631883)

Self-fulfilling prophecies cause the events they predict. Saying "Labs will release viruses!" doesn't seem to cause the virus releases in any way I can see. If anything, it makes the controls more stringent.

Re:Those are ordinary prophecies (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 7 months ago | (#46632289)

Ahhh but it isn't just "labs will release viruses" but that labs particularly worried about really nasty viruses, will create them in order to study the possibility, leading to the very outbreaks they were created to study in hopes of avoiding.

Its not just labs working on viruses, but people being so worried about labs creating plagues that they create labs that create plagues as a result.

This work needs to be in the open (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 7 months ago | (#46631911)

Wouldn't want these folks making a pinky swear when a petri dish of genetically modified super-virus goes missing after they crossed Ebola with the common cold.

Re:This work needs to be in the open (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 7 months ago | (#46632089)

You need to stop watching Big Bang Theory :D

[John]

Offtopic - April 1st joke? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#46631933)

Is the auto playing accessibility feature for the visually impaired the April fools joke?

Re:Offtopic - April 1st joke? (2)

antdude (79039) | about 7 months ago | (#46631961)

Yeah, it was annoying. Also, it was HTML5 media player so it wasn't blocked like Flashblock, Mozilla's addon on demand player, etc.

Re:Offtopic - April 1st joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46631983)

noscript blocks it. Forbid slashdot.org. Pretty weak April 1st prank.

Re:Offtopic - April 1st joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46636253)

Yeah, it was annoying. Also, it was HTML5 media player so it wasn't blocked like Flashblock, Mozilla's addon on demand player, etc.

Ouch. It's a surprise to see Patient Zero here ;) but some of us had worries on this very site years ago that HTML5 was the next logical attack vector.

And so it begins... a high profile site [niche as it may be] with the people who are most capable of cloning this method to their dayjobs, like a pandemic.
A few months later, you'll see more and more html5 ads that cannot be disabled via the GUI in today's browsers.

Re:Offtopic - April 1st joke? (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 7 months ago | (#46632099)

Yea, my volume is now off on my laptop. Where's the checkbox to disable it?

[John]

Dear new Slashdot (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 7 months ago | (#46632045)

Don't link audio in the comments.

Level 4 Containment (1)

cyberzephyr (705742) | about 7 months ago | (#46632263)

I remember hearing about a Lvl 4 containment site getting concreted with people inside of it.

I can't lay claim to it but i do believe it.

Re:Level 4 Containment (1)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#46632529)

My understanding is that is a contingency plan, but has never been implemented. A couple of the military bio-weapons labs had pre-installed demolitions charges that would implode the entire underground site into a hole covered by a clay hill, but again they were never set off.

Something that I've always found interesting is that several military-tied medical institutes, such as Battelle and Litton Bionetics, have "cancer research centers" in central Africa.

Re:Level 4 Containment (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 7 months ago | (#46633163)

I remember hearing about a Lvl 4 containment site getting concreted with people inside of it.

This is an urban legend often associated with Building 470 [wikipedia.org] , a facility at Fort Detrick used to culture large (like, thousands-of-gallons large) quantities of biological weapons, including anthrax. Building 470 was decommissioned in 1971, and demolished in 2003; there were no dead bodies sealed in the walls, and demolition workers were more concerned about exposure to asbestos and lead paint used in the 1953 structure.

Re:Level 4 Containment (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46635265)

I remember hearing the they contracted Bigfoot to do the work, but he contracted out to the Grays.

Is this a "in Soviet Russia" thing (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46636089)

Is this a "in Soviet Russia" thing? If so, at some times it would have been entirely believable even if there was no loss of containment but just a wish to get rid of inconvenient witnesses to something.

Oh, I get it (1)

meglon (1001833) | about 7 months ago | (#46633537)

So what you're saying is... if we just bury our head in the sand and just ignore these diseases, no one will ever get sick from them. Wow.... whoud'a thunk that'd werk!

Yeah Science!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46634363)

Biological weaponization in the name of science. This is the part where I look at the religious and admire them for all the shit they give you. These 'scientists' should be dragged out into the street and shot.

Great article, but missed a bit (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 months ago | (#46634821)

There are far more releases than is acknowledged. FAR MORE. Look at ebola and see the 2 lab accidents in Russia. Lots of work going on in weaponizing various bugs.
We desperately need to find an island in the middle of the pacific, or even in the Antarctica, and put up a facility there, with another facility where ppl shuffle off to for up to 2 months after leaving the primary facility. But it should be like the ISS and have multiple nations that work there with ppl going in for 3 or 6 month rotations.

YOu think thats scary? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46635273)

Startalk - Cosmic Queries with Laurie Garrett

I met one of the vicitims (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46635945)

A woman that was working in a lab that had a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis (among other things) was sick and undiagnosed for several years, until her doctor was absent and an older doctor came out of retirement to fill in. The older doctor recognised TB from back when he was first starting out. The victim was not supposed to be in contact with it, which is why TB was not suspected (or even mentioned to medical specialists), but it must not have been kept contained in the areas where it was supposed to be contained.

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from or (1)

costabunny (975400) | about 7 months ago | (#46637355)

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit; It's the only way to be sure.........
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