Bird Flu Research Is Urgent, Argues Reseacher

After finding that the H5N1 bird flu virus can be willfully mutated and made communicable, a rare 60-day moratorium on research has been imposed. The study's author argues testing must resume.

What's the Latest Development?

Further restrictions on publishing scientific data gathered in a recent study of the avian bird flu could retard the creation of countermeasures, such as a vaccine, which could fight against a disease pandemic, says Yoshihiro Kawaoka, one of the study's co-authors. While the Dutch-American team which pioneered the research, finding that the H5N1 virus can be willfully mutated to become more communicable, has agreed to a 60-day moratorium on research, Kawaoka insists that the work is urgent and should not be censored.   

What's the Big Idea?

By engineering new bird flu viruses from separate strains, researchers found that more communicable versions could be created naturallyas well as willfully. After the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity objected, fearing that the research could be utilized by individuals with nefarious motives, research has halted and full publication of the results is expected to be restricted to persons on a 'need-to-know' basis. Kawaoka says this will create a bureaucratic burden that will dissuade further research.

Photo credit:

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote the video, or videos, you want to win.

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in. And note: We'll only count upvotes (not downvotes).

Keep reading Show less
  • Oumuamua, a quarter-mile long asteroid tumbling through space, is Hawaiian for "scout", or "the first of many".
  • It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
  • Some claimed Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less