Nicholson Baker writing for the New York Magazine:
What happened was fairly simple, I’ve come to believe. It was an accident. A virus spent some time in a laboratory, and eventually it got out. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began its existence inside a bat, then it learned how to infect people in a claustrophobic mine shaft, and then it was made more infectious in one or more laboratories, perhaps as part of a scientist’s well-intentioned but risky effort to create a broad-spectrum vaccine. SARS-2 was not designed as a biological weapon. But it was, I think, designed.
He explains how scientists could make a virus infecting mice mutate to now infect hamsters:
They did it using serial passaging: repeatedly dosing a mixed solution of mouse cells and hamster cells with mouse-hepatitis virus, while each time decreasing the number of mouse cells and upping the concentration of hamster cells. At first, predictably, the mouse-hepatitis virus couldn’t do much with the hamster cells, which were left almost free of infection, floating in their world of fetal-calf serum. But by the end of the experiment, after dozens of passages through cell cultures, the virus had mutated: It had mastered the trick of parasitizing an unfamiliar rodent. A scourge of mice was transformed into a scourge of hamsters.
Read the article, make up your own mind.
A collaboration between a Stanford ant biologist and a computer scientist has revealed that the behavior of harvester ants as they forage for food mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet.
Some intrepid biologists at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered bacteria that survives on nothing but electricity — rather than food, they eat and excrete pure electrons.
I did it again, another experiment. No LEGO this time, today was all about cruising. Driving a BMW 6 Series in a simulator seemed to be fun. It seemed. Instead, I got a chance to gain first-hand experience of how you feel when the motions you see don’t correspond to the ones you sense…. not good. The whole simulation didn’t even feel like driving a real car. The automatic transmission was odd and the steering had a delay.
I actually managed to run over a pedestrian and the fact that I hadn’t noticed it at all didn’t help me answering the question of how I thought the accident could have happened. I chose “I didn’t see the pedestrian.” But I saw the next one I hit… continuing his way.