When is a quarantine justified? A group of philosophers offers an answer.

Quarantines are worth the trouble to keep the next pandemic at bay but they need to be applied intelligently.

A trainee, wearing personal protective Equipment (PPE), takes part in a training session held by the military trained Civil Security (Securite civile), on checking and treating suspected victims of the Ebola virus. (JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • A new essay argues that quarantines are often needed, but require strict guidelines on when they can be used.
  • Pandemics are inevitable, and actions that can save lives must be planned now.
  • The arguments in this essay will undoubtedly be of use during the next outbreak.
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Surprising Science

IBM Is Developing a Super Molecule to Destroy All Viruses

Researchers found what all viruses have in common and created a therapy that should work on any kind, and will outsmart viral mutation.

Photomicrographs of the drug AZT, which is thought to help prevent the replication of HIV. If IBM's new method proves effective, it will do so much more than just prevent viral replication; it could clear it from the body. (Image: Larry Ostby / National C

If you lined up everything alive on the planet today and counted them one-by-one, you’d find that viruses are the most common creatures by far. Pervasive, pathogenic varieties are notoriously hard to treat, as the recent Ebola outbreak and the Zika pandemic attest. Why is that? Well first off, they are incredibly small, a hundred times smaller than your average human cell. Though they cannot take the immune system head on, they can infiltrate your body, hijack cells and use them to replicate.

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Surprising Science

Bill Nye: From Ebola to Climate Change, Science Illiterate Leaders Endanger Us All

Danger is at hand, and you may have voted for it. Science educator Bill Nye weaves a passionate argument for the importance of science literacy in a country's elected leaders.

It’s not unusual to hear someone openly say that they can’t do math at all; that they can’t figure out the percentage to tip on a bill. If someone said that chemistry hurts their brain and they can’t even look at an equation, or that they have no idea how a certain part of the human body does what it does, that wouldn’t be too surprising. These are usually light-hearted statements that go down well – many of us would sympathize, nod and say: yeah, me too.

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Surprising Science