Biology

Bird Flu Genome: Recipe for disaster?

Some of the world’s greatest minds are consumed these days with the threat of avian flu. In an effort to better understand the evolution of the virus, scientists recently decoded — and published — the genome of the 1918 flu virus (which also jumped from birds to humans). A grave mistake, according to two eminent TEDsters. In today’s New York Times, inventor Ray Kurzweil (TED2005) and Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy (who will speak at TED2006), argue that publishing this genome is a matter of national — or, rather, global — security. It would be easier, they argue, to create and release this virus than it would be to build and detonate an atomic bomb. Chilling … and well-argued.