This week’s lead editorial discusses the benefits and potential risks of allowing genomic information to be freely available on the internet—and supports the recent report by the US National Research Council recommending that such information should remain freely accessible to all.
The editorial comments: ‘But while free and open access to these data is a boon to science, it carries some risk: among the genome sequences freely available on the internet are those for more than 100 pathogens, including the organisms that cause anthrax, botulism, smallpox, Ebola haemorrhagic fever, and plague. It is possible that a government, a terrorist organisation, or even an individual could use data from these repositories to create novel pathogens that could be used as weapons.’
‘The current system also offers tremendous benefits. The panel, which was commissioned by US health and security officials, pointed to the recent experience with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as an example of the power of an open system. In March, 2003, WHO issued a global health alert about an atypical pneumonia in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Guangdong Province in China. Within 6 weeks, the SARS coronavirus had been isolated and cultured, and its genome sequenced and posted on the internet. These data, freely available to all, allowed scientists around the world to begin studying this virus and its pathogenicity, led to the development of vaccine candidates and diagnostic tests, and helped guide the antiviral drug research. “Unfettered, free access to the results of life-science research . . . has served science and society well”, the panel argues, accelerating research and speeding the “life-saving benefits” of that research’.
Richard Lane | alfa
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In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
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