Germs sent to space come back meaner, scientist reports

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    If I mention Project Scoop to you guys, does it ring any bells?


    The reason I put this here, instead of the Current Events forum, is that this development reminds me uncomfortably of this story. In Michael Crichton's thriller, the government deliberately sent up satellites in the hope of collecting lethal extra-terrestrial microorganisms.

    That was Project Scoop.

    This isn't that much different.

    The potential here is scary for obvious reasons. And even if you're naive enough to believe our own government's interest is not piqued by this development, don't forget...we're not the only country that has a space program.
  2. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    There's nothing more exciting to grab the headlines than a superbug story, even better if one combines it with space! All this research shows is that bacteria change their gene expression when they go into space. It's really not that exciting. Human cells change their gene expression comparably in space. As the results of the paper show, only the gene expression has changed, not the DNA of the salmonella. Once back on earth for any amount of time these adaptations are likely to reverse without the stimulus (proposed as zero G in this case).

    Does space specifically make bacteria into a more pathogenic strain? It's remotely possible but this research doesn't show anything of the sort. Do changes in environment change the phenotype of bacteria? Of course, and this goes for any environment not just space. What is the most likely explanation in this case is that the bacteria respond to stress conditions by increasing expression of survival genes. This change in gene expression serendipitously made them more pathogenic in mice. From the paper practically exactly the same results have previously been obtained with space simulators on earth.

    Sending bacteria into space on the chance it would make a biological weapon based on this work would be the most ridiculous idea ever. There are already bacteria and viruses infinitely more pathogenic on earth, and with modern molecular biological techniques anyone with an honours degree in science can irreversibly insert a pathogenic gene into a bacterium. This research has greater ramifications for space flight (care for foods etc) and understanding survival responses in bacteria than it does future weapons by rogue countries. However more ridiculous things have been tried: see United States Gay Bomb.
  3. FrankBlack macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
    Looking for Lucy Butler
    I'd be careful Tom. Go to the window now,and make sure there's not a govt issue Crown Vic parked in front of your house. If there is, see there's a steel-eyed guy sitting in it, smoking a cigarette. (Couldn't resist. :D )

    Yeah, this is a spooky one alright.
  4. adrianblaine macrumors 65816


    Oct 12, 2006
    Pasadena, CA
    Have you read The Hot Zone? While it may be a slight embellishment, it is written about real events and to me is much scarier than anything by Crichton. We have just as scary, if not scarier, virus' already that can destroy as many people as a "space" germ if used as a weapon.

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