Letters; June 2012; Scientific American Magazine; by The Editors; 2 Page(s)
In “A Man-made Contagion,” by Jeneen Interlandi [Advances], Michael T. Osterholm of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity argues, regarding studies creating mutations that would allow the H5N1 virus to readily spread between humans, that “physicists have been doing ... classified work for 70 years. We have to find a way to do the same in the health sciences, without compromising our safety and security.”
Classified physics work has put the future of our species in question, so not “compromising our safety and security” would require more stringent controls in the health sciences than were applied in the physical ones. Additionally, new life-forms can be created in an inexpensive lab with commercially available ingredients. Nuclear weapons materials are more difficult to obtain.
Professor Emeritus, Electrical Engineering