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How Many Bits Does It Take To Kill You?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the two-bits-buys-a-razor-blade dept.

Biotech 300

pegr writes "Andrew 'bunnie' Huang, Reverse Engineer, XBox hacker, and generally smart guy, muses over the H1N1/swine flu virus as only a reverse engineer can: 'I now know how to modify the virus sequence to probably make it more deadly.' Not that he would, of course. bunnie has consistently made the esoteric available to us mere mortals, and his overview of the H1N1 virus is a fascinating read from a unique perspective." (Seen today also at the top of Schneier on Security.)

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It takes less bits (1, Funny)

solevita (967690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29277951)

To kill a Snow Leopard.

All depends on how you count, I guess...

Re:It takes less bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278457)

"fewer" not "less". Bits are discrete.

It's humbling that I could be killed by 3.2kbytes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29277955)

It's like evolution is the demo coder and humans are the Amigas.

Increasing mortality is bad for business (5, Insightful)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 5 years ago | (#29277977)

Making a virus more 'deadly' is usually not very good for the virus. If it's host dies, so does it's habitat. Not to mention the host can no longer really spread it.

The Epstein-Barr virus [wikipedia.org] , now there is a successful virus.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (5, Insightful)

binkzz (779594) | more than 5 years ago | (#29277993)

It can be deadly and still be successful, just so long as it's not very fast (e.g. HIV).

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (4, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278331)

Actually, HIV has become less deadly as time goes by. There's been selective pressure for it to kill the hosts less slowly:

http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/1716/ [dailynewscentral.com]

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1, Offtopic)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278829)

Actually, HIV has become less deadly as time goes by. There's been selective pressure for it to kill the hosts more slowly:

http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/1716/ [dailynewscentral.com]

Fixed it for you.

No African-American Geniuses? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278459)

Andrew Huang is another example of a brilliant person who gives us clever insight into a scientific process. Over the years, SlashDot has periodically highlighted such geniuses by presenting an article about them for discussion.

None of the SlashDot articles ever highlight an African-American genius.

The average IQ of African-Americans and Africans is about 20 points below the average IQ of European-Americans, Europeans, Japanese-Americans, and Japanese. Could this IQ deficiency explain the paucity of African-American or African geniuses?

Certainly, no African has ever won the Nobel prize in physics.

My African colleague says that the lack of Africans among scientific high achievers is due to racism. He says that the Nobel committee should create a special category called Nobel Opportunity Awards (NOAs) that is reserved only for anyone of African ancestry. There would be 1 NOA in each traditional category of Nobel prizes.

Should SlashDot also have a racial quota system?

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278039)

Pamela Anderson sure does get around.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (-1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278081)

The second-most successful virus was the one that struck the Roman Empire circa 600 A.D. and wiped-out about a third of the population. It changed the course of history, because if that virus had not struck, the Eastern Roman Emperor's army would have succeeded in his mission to reclaim Italy, Rome, and possibly France/Gaul too.

The most-successful virus struck Europe in the mid-1200s, killed 40% of the people, and created a shortage of labor that allowed the serfs to free themselves and demand pay. Thus the middle class was born.

What did these viruses have in common? They were very virulent, killing the host quickly, but it didn't matter because their RNA code was spread via fleas.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278177)

I don't think "successful" is the word I would use... It is a cliche' that the "course of history" is altered by X or Y events or Z disease. In motion, the future is. Disease is fundamental to evolution.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (5, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278185)

And, unfortunate for your vastly overrated modding, neither of those were viruses, but bacteria.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278261)

Mod parent up, please.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278379)

Also, the measure of "success" seems to be the death count.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278601)

Actually, for the Roman Empire one, he may be thinking of the Antonine Plague of 166 A.D., which may have wiped out up to a third of the population, and is believed to have been measles or more likely smallpox (both viruses). Still, I'm not sure if one pandemic outbreak is sufficient evidence for the success of a given disease on an evolutionary scale. After all, we were eventually able to wipe smallpox from the face of the Earth -- something we've tried doing to other diseases with only limited success -- so what does that say about the viability of smallpox overall?

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278227)

The second-most successful virus was the one that struck the Roman Empire circa 600 A.D. and wiped-out about a third of the population.

The most-successful virus struck Europe in the mid-1200s, killed 40% of the people

Maybe. But where are they now?

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (2, Interesting)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278333)

> The second-most successful virus was the one that struck the
> Roman Empire circa 600 A.D. because if that virus had not struck,
> the Eastern Roman Emperor's army would have succeeded in his
> mission to reclaim Italy, Rome, and possibly France/Gaul too.

Was this after Narses the court eunuch and general conquered Italy, then let the Lombards attack the North to show the Emperor that he was needed (and committed suicide in shame when they succeeded)?

> he most-successful virus struck Europe in the mid-1200s,
> Thus the middle class was born.

The middle class existed for long before that. It merely improved the lot of peasants for about 60 years (until population levels came back) and created the "Rotten Boroughs" in England (abandoned towns that didn't lose their representation in Commons until the early 19th Century).

Anyway, the common cold beats them in almost any two year period. Further, people continue to catch colds all through their lives.

Now, if the goal of the virus were to wipe out humanity or at least change history, then your viruses would have won. Prove that either was deliberately weaponized, or introduced by aliens making a multi-sense recording for "viewers" in the Galactic Community (to make a season-ending cliffhanger, or else because a new bunch of writers wanted to "reboot" the franchise), and I will accept your definition of successful.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278495)

Well, they probably had a big impact on the ethnic makeup of various areas as they led to lots of migrations in the holes, but otherwise, yeah, basically. Catastrophism is just about as bad as Great Man history in explaining things in the long term. And GP is still an overrated twit.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278337)

Did you just solve the unemployment problem? After all, they are the ones who won't get treated for the virus until it's too late.

I'll stop short of the conspiracy theories.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278603)

No, he solved the middle class problem. The rich will be taxed to pay for the poor, but middle class will fall between the ability to afford it and the government program eligibility.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278353)

>What did these viruses have in common? They were very virulent, killing the host quickly, but it didn't matter because their RNA code was spread via fleas.

Right, but the modern world, at least in wealthier countries, are fairly hygienic. I dont think Ive ever seen a flea outside the woods. For a virus to be successful in today's world it would probably need to keep the host alive a lot longer. Perhaps this is why we just arent seeing pandemics on this level since around we got a good understanding of germ theory. Toss in modern quarantine options and a extra lethal virus might just burn itself out before it can spread.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278753)

I dont think Ive ever seen a flea outside the woods.

You've never had outdoor pets, have you?

Advantage is a wonderful thing...

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (2, Informative)

godel_56 (1287256) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278687)

The most-successful virus struck Europe in the mid-1200s, killed 40% of the people, and created a shortage of labor that allowed the serfs to free themselves and demand pay. Thus the middle class was born.

What did these viruses have in common? They were very virulent, killing the host quickly, but it didn't matter because their RNA code was spread via fleas.

A number of people doubt the bacterial bubonic plague/rats/fleas explanation due to the rapid manner of spread of the disease. A viral haemorrhagic fever, possibly airborne, is given as a more likely alternative.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278277)

Tell that to the humans.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (3, Insightful)

Otto (17870) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278317)

Depends on how you define "deadly", of course. Making it more easily transmitted would be better for the virus, for example.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278319)

The Epstein-Barr virus, now there is a successful virus.

Did you just call the flu an unsuccessful virus? I dare you to show me two people in Europe or North America who never had it.

However, I'm still not afraid. TFA is right: this is one fast mutating virus. So much in fact, that every possible mutation has appeared already. I'm too lazy do back it up with math, but the numbers should be interesting.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278383)

I've never had it, and I've never taken a vaccine. /shrug

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278629)

Never had it, or never experienced symptoms due to an immune system that squashes the bug before a symptom-causing response is necessary? unless you live in a bubble, I highly doubt you've never been immunized one way or the other.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278637)

You've never had the flu? Ever? Come now. I had pneumonia when I was four years old, which was almost certainly a complication of the flu. I've probably caught it a dozen times since then.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278463)

Making a virus more 'deadly' is usually not very good for the virus. If it's host dies, so does it's habitat. Not to mention the host can no longer really spread it.

Be careful with that kind of thinking, because it's not strictly true. There's an oft-repeated saying that all diseases will naturally become less deadly over time because it doesn't pay to kill your host -- but in some cases it does pay.

Consider something like cholera. Cholera gives you horrific diarrhea and vomiting, and the resulting dehydration can kill you pretty quickly, especially if you're very young or otherwise infirm. Going by the above-stated theory, that would normally be bad -- except that cholera exists in all your excretions, and other people can catch it from coming into close contact with those excretions. What's more, the normal route of infection is via contaminated water supply -- so if your excretions can make it back to the water supply, more's the better for cholera. Who cares if you drop dead?

Similarly, malaria doesn't need you up and walking around to infect people. You can be lying on your deathbed and a mosquito can still fly in through the window, bite you, and then fly off and bite someone else. That's why, though malaria has been known since the dawn of human history, it never seems to become less of a health threat to humans. There's simply no evolutionary pressure in that direction.

True, neither cholera or malaria is caused by a virus. But I just wanted to point out that the "evolution favors keeping your host alive" theory is rather too simplistic for the bigger picture of human disease.

 

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278849)

You're still assuming that "killing the host" happens some non-trivial amount of time after "infecting the host" -- at some point the host won't be able to travel far enough to infect anyone who wasn't also at risk from the original point of infection. Given modern travel speeds that threshold is pretty small, but it certainly still exists; a virus that killed people within 1 minute of infection would never make it out of the building where it was first encountered.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278543)

Unless you are creating a weapon... Obviously killing someone instantly would be worthless (just use a bomb), but if they could increase the mortality rate while maintaining the contagious period, then some crazy people might find it interesting.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278823)

Yes, let's not hurt the virus or its feelings.

Re:Increasing mortality is bad for business (1)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278841)

Increase propaganda through FUD is pretty bad as well. In relation to the USA.

Regular Flu: Since January, more than 13,000 have died of complications from seasonal flu (April 2009)

Swine Flu: Since January, 10 reported deaths (May 2009)

In 1976, when 40 million people received the H1N1 vaccination over a period of a few months, the incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome was about one out of 150,000.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillain-Barr%C3%A9_syndrome [wikipedia.org]

"The flu season is upon us. Which type will we worry about this year, and what kind of shots will we be told to take? Remember the swine flu scare of 1976? That was the year the U.S. government told us all that swine flu could turn out to be a killer that could spread across the nation, and Washington decided that every man, woman and child in the nation should get a shot to prevent a nation-wide outbreak, a pandemic." (Mike Wallace, CBS, 60 Minutes, November 4, 1979)

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14543 [globalresearch.ca]

Old tricks with a new dog. Hope for Change. Got it. Is this administration just historically illiterate or are they up to something?

fascinating! (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29277987)

If only biologists had thought of the idea of treating DNA/RNA sequences as data, and then analyzing their properties statistically and computationally, with an eye towards what effects different modifications to the sequences might be predicted to have. We might call this field something fancy like "biological informatics".

Re:fascinating! (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278005)

OH SNAP

Bunny got served

Re:fascinating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278023)

No shit. This guy reads a few articles and he's got "biology" figured out.

Insulting.

Re:fascinating! (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278069)

(Replying to my own comment.)

That said, it's a quite well-written tutorial-style article with engaging prose that tackles a number of the relevant issues. I just balked at the "reverse engineer takes on biology" angle, as if that were something biologists had never thought of.

Re:fascinating! (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278465)

(Replying to my own comment.)

That said, it's a quite well-written tutorial-style article with engaging prose that tackles a number of the relevant issues. I just balked at the "reverse engineer takes on biology" angle, as if that were something biologists had never thought of.

there are several instances in human history of inventions being developed independently in exactly at the same time.

this is far different than the sheer ignorance "max tedroom" displayed with his series of tubes speech.

Re:fascinating! (5, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278097)

If only biologists had thought of the idea of treating DNA/RNA sequences as data, and then analyzing their properties statistically and computationally, with an eye towards what effects different modifications to the sequences might be predicted to have. We might call this field something fancy like "biological informatics".

Hahaha, I'm sure the biological informaticians are laughing their asses off. Kinda like we computer geeks did when the Not So Hon. Ted Stevens described the Internet as a "series of tubes".

Meanwhile, though, I'm really enjoying the analogies that "bunnie" draws between DNA/RNA and computer bits. You see, I know a thing or two about computer bits, and ports, and stuff like that. And I know that DNA encodes proteins. But I didn't make the connection the way "bunnie" does, with a simple statement like this:

If you thought of organisms as computers with IP addresses, each functional group of cells in the organism would be listening to the environment through its own active port. So, as port 25 maps specifically to SMTP services on a computer, port H1 maps specifically to the windpipe region on a human. Interestingly, the same port H1 maps to the intestinal tract on a bird. Thus, the same H1N1 virus will attack the respiratory system of a human, and the gut of a bird.

That's probably baby science to a biological informatician, just like mapping to port 25 is baby networking to many of us. But for me, it makes the concepts click.

Similarly, we all made fun of the "series of tubes" metaphor, without considering that for most of humanity, an electron is "the size and shape of a small pea" (Heinlein reference). If thinking of the Internet as a bunch of interconnected steampunk-style tubes that can get full (saturated bandwidth) helps a non-techie understand why they can't watch YouTube and play Halo at the same time... well, so much the better.

Re:fascinating! (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278147)

Yeah, I probably should've been nicer. =] The Slashdot summary is actually more objectionable than the article is: as you point out, the metaphors in the article are quite well done. If you don't view it as "l33t XBox hacker discovers how to haxx0r viruses", but instead as "engaging tech writer uses computer terminology to explain how viruses work", it's much better.

Re:fascinating! (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278299)

Well, for my part, if I'd waited a couple of minutes I might have seen your reply to yourself where you noted that the article is better than it might have seemed! Ain't Slashdot great?

Re:fascinating! (1)

Silas is back (765580) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278529)

Ok, thanks for pointing this out. Like OP I was thinking "WTF does this kiddy try to conclude?", but if you see it from a purely computer scientist's side, it indeed might make sense.

Re:fascinating! (0, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278131)

>>>"biological informatics".

Why not just call it "programming"? Whether you're writing code for machine made of sand (silicon) or chemicals should not matter one bit. Ya know in Babylon 5, the Vorlons and Shadows didn't just "grow" their ships. They programmed the DNA to produce the desired result. I see no reason why we humans can't do the same.

Re:fascinating! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278289)

For someone who goes get off my lawn so much, it seems your understanding of other sciences is often at the level of a dorky scifi fanboy all the time, ponder that.

Re:fascinating! (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278357)

Why not just call it "programming"?

To avoid 90 hour work weeks and lousy pay.

Re:fascinating! (3, Informative)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278461)

>>>"biological informatics".

Why not just call it "programming"? Whether you're writing code for machine made of sand (silicon) or chemicals should not matter one bit.

Probably for the same reason we separate mathematicians from physicists, and chemists from biologists. There's a lot of specificity in each field that makes specialization worthwhile. Sure, biology is 'just' macro-scale chemistry (which, in turn, is 'just' macro-scale physics), but there are special cases that only happen in cells, as well as a lot of things that never happen in cells.

That doesn't mean that it's a bad thing to have someone with a foot firmly in both fields (computational physics, or biochemistry), but specializing is what allows computer engineers to spend more time on transistors than proteins, while the bioinformatics students learn about RNA without needing to bother with JAVA.

Re:fascinating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278607)

The only downside is that the human DNA is a really ugly code base. Imagine a program constructed entirely from sections marked /* We don't know what this does, but removing it causes random things to break */, thrown together with quick hacks upon hacks until it kind of works most of the time.

Re:fascinating! (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278339)

Actually you are right, unfortunately for us they still booting their operating systems and learning SQL syntax, they had much trouble to read and sequence the DNA, now have PB of data waiting to be analyzed, it will take some years, decade or even decades, pretty likely our generation will not see any major and useful results from this DNA biology as this is just the very beginning of the research.

Re:fascinating! (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278673)

Yeah, it's true that there's some pretty lame stuff on the bioinformatics side too--- especially the early stuff has a feel of "hey guys what is computer", with books like Beginning Perl for Biologists [oreilly.com] .

Andrew "Davros" Huang (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278007)

Re:Andrew "Davros" Huang (0, Offtopic)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278063)

Awesome! Funny! Intelligent! Relevant!

Moderators are such fools...

Oh noes! He's got teh pig flu! (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278009)

Error establishing a database connection

Re:Oh noes! He's got teh pig flu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278059)

F5 fixed that, better than a vaccine.

How many bits does it take to kill a human? (4, Insightful)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278031)

How many bits does it take to kill a human? Bits of what is the real question?

Bits of information? Bits of bullets? Bits of concrete? Bits of glass? Bits of a virus?

They can all get the job done given the right, er wrong, context.

3.2KiB of data with the flu eh?

How about three bytes, 24 bits, uttered from the mouth of Bush? "War"! That killed a whole bunch of people with a lot less information. Ok, sure there was lots of supporting info.

Many people have died from a lot fewer bits than the flu needs.

It takes only 1 bit to kill a human (2, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278145)

Change 1 of the DNA base and the embryo cannot grow to completion. Change a base and a cancer can suddenly develop and go awry (for example, kill the apoptose system of the cells). Kill one bit in the mytochondrial DNA and you probably get the same. I am not a biologist , and I am sure there are a lot of redundant gene, but some might not.

Re:It takes only 1 bit to kill a human (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278733)

Actually that's two bits. Each base pair has four possible states. Also, while I will not say that it is completely impossible to that a change of a single base pair could stop development, or cause a cancer, I think that any genes whose failure would result in death would have multiple redundancies.
One could argue that there are far more than two bits in such a change also, because it is necessary to specify which base pairs to alter.

All of these bit measures are misleading. (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278851)

The 26,000-some bit virus only exists in the context of a host that contains considerably more DNA information than that. To use the awful computer analogies, it's like running a 26K program on a 300MB interpreter system; the small program just calls some combination of really complex, pre-built functions that shouldn't be called in that combination.

And keep in mind that the 300MB interpreter is meaningless without the context in which it executes: some physical machine.

Re:How many bits does it take to kill a human? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278151)

Yeah... the flu virus is a kill routine written in assembly language source. In a sufficiently high-level language, executed by the correct interpreter, it could be done in much less space.

Now... sic 'em, butch!

Re:How many bits does it take to kill a human? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278259)

The answer is 1. It takes 1 bit. The 'evil' bit. The murderous rampage is a side effect of setting the 'evil' bit ON.

Re:How many bits does it take to kill a human? (1)

Juba (790756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278389)

640 bits ought to be enough for anyone...

Re:How many bits does it take to kill a human? (1)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278515)

1 bit is all it takes. Just beam one bit using the Star Trek transporter into the heart of a human and you have a dead human.

Or another way; 0 bits. All humans already die. It is a built in feature. No add-ons are required.

Or to bring down a government? (2, Insightful)

Jeff Carr (684298) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278565)

32 bytes, 256 bits..

Don't you think she looks tired?

Re:How many bits does it take to kill a human? (1)

Pingmaster (1049548) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278789)

I guess it would depend on the computer, i mean, if one bit carries 1mA, then you'd only need about 100 bits, but if it were 1μA, then you'd need about 100,000

Dear Timothy, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278033)

May I congratulate you on the sheer cringe-worthy awfulness of today's pun. Much appreciated!

Regards,
In Cog Neato
On behalf of the worldwide collective of dads who make bad jokes.

How many bits does it take to kill you? (5, Funny)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278055)

I don't know, go ask Mr. Owl.

Re:How many bits does it take to kill you? (1)

MrBulwark (862510) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278409)

one, two-hoo, three

Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (2, Informative)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278071)

As we extinguish species by the ark load it's worth musing where all their on board viruses and bacterium will land when they jump ship onto a new species. Reminds me of the ship of sick sailors who landed in Italy with the first boat load of rats bearing the plague. Supposedly many of the viruses that now plague us have adapted to us by way of our domestic livestock, especially fowl. We may be setting the table for the little critters with our obsessive need for antibiotics and wiping all indoor surfaces down with lethal cleaners. The Swiss did some research and found that farm kids raised tending livestock had stronger immune systems than Swiss city kids raised in sanitized urban housing.

Re:Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278243)

Well of course they will have stronger immune systems, but will they get sick as much? Its kind of comparing someone active with strong bones compared to someone inactive with weaker bones. If the most activity you do is go up and down stairs, your risk of breaking a leg is probably less than someone who is into extreme sports, even if the person is healthier and has stronger bones than the person who does little activity.

Re:Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (5, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278249)

That's not how it works. Viruses don't all-of-a-sudden start to mutate when they "need" to. They mutate all the time. If a virus could "jump ship" to another species, it is most likely to do that when its first host species is common, not when that species is going extinct.

Your post is an example of a bad analogy substituting for intelligence. That's a common mistake. It's sort of like when your car won't start...

Re:Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (-1, Troll)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278427)

Yes viruses can be said to mutate all the time but the rest of your post is unsubstantiated and no more substantial than mine. This isn't a refereed site. It's an open forum that invites free style commentary. If you weren't so retentively anal and proudly displaying your anus like a bizarre, tribal necklace displaying a displaced genital fixation you might have picked up on that by now. dickwad.

Re:Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (2, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278589)

Beneath your amusing impotent rage, it looks like you still don't understand. Let me explain: More viruses -> more mutations -> more likely to jump species. Therefore, a higher population of the original host animal means a higher probability of cross-species mutations.

Rofl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278635)

I just had to say, seriously?

Now go smoke some more weed and think of new, "interesting" ideas. Don't forget to connect unrelated facts. It makes it that much more profound and unique.

Re:Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278655)

Haha, oh wow, looks like someone took that a little too close to heart.
Why all the anger mindbrane?

It is a proven fact that everything mutates all the time.
There is nothing else in Lord Enders post that is false. (hell, there is nothing else that could be wrong...)

Viruses aren't smart, they just are and nothing more.
Unless we are talking about that damn Epideme virus... poor Mister Lister.

Re:Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278807)

Supposedly many of the viruses that now plague us have adapted to us by way of our domestic livestock, especially fowl. We may be setting the table for the little critters with our obsessive need for antibiotics

Trust me on this one: "Our obsessive need for antibiotics" isn't going to affect viruses in the slightest.

and wiping all indoor surfaces down with lethal cleaners.

If you're suggesting that disease pathogens get stronger when subjected to chemical microbicides, that's about as silly as suggesting we could breed a race of superhumans who are immune to poisoning by feeding people arsenic and letting the survivors breed.

The Swiss did some research and found that farm kids raised tending livestock had stronger immune systems than Swiss city kids raised in sanitized urban housing.

You'll have to clarify what that means. Does "stronger immune system" mean more antibodies were found in their bloodstreams? That just means they have been exposed to more pathogens. Which is only natural -- since, like you say, the majority of diseases are believed to be zoonotic in origin. Hang around animals, get exposed to animal diseases. Eventually some will mutate and cross the species barrier. The only way to avoid it would be to exterminate the animals -- because contrary to your analogy, when an animal dies, all the diseases it carries do not suddenly leap from its body and go scurrying off looking for new kinds of animals to infect. They pretty much just die with the animal.

Port H1 maps specifically to the windpipe region (5, Funny)

quatin (1589389) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278085)

Sounds like we need a firewall.

Re:Port H1 maps specifically to the windpipe regio (3, Informative)

2names (531755) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278361)

Only if the firewall also performs deep packet inspection. Many bad critters (viruses/bacteria) enter the system by making our firewall(s) think they are innocuous by externally looking link other good critters. It is the payload that is the real problem. If we could teach the body to somehow read the payload before docking with the receptors we could be disease (contracted from viruses/bacteria) free.

Re:Port H1 maps specifically to the windpipe regio (2, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278551)

Only if the firewall also performs deep packet inspection. Many bad critters (viruses/bacteria) enter the system by making our firewall(s) think they are innocuous by externally looking link other good critters. It is the payload that is the real problem. If we could teach the body to somehow read the payload before docking with the receptors we could be disease (contracted from viruses/bacteria) free.

Nanoprobe-supported organs. Once again, Star Trek has beaten us to it.

DIY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278119)

In bunnie's example, compares a DNA sequence form H1N1 with that of a more deadly flu strain. He points out that one could substitute just 1 lycine amino acid and the result would possibly make H1N1 far more deadly. Such sequences can be ordered from Internet DNA synthesis companies. Somebody with access to an H1N1 sample, a lab, and some skill could do this...

Swine Flu IsA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278199)

Hoax.Beauchamp [sciencebasedmedicine.org] argued the focus should be strengthening the host rather than the disease.

Yours In Novosibirsk,
K. Trout

Re:Swine Flu IsA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278363)

How would big pharma profit from that?

Two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278245)

I roll big bits.

Re:Two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278355)

I like big bits and I cannot lie.

Re:Two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278391)

The judges say that's okay; they like big bits too.

Cached link (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278247)

Google cached link [74.125.113.132]

Mr. Huang: If you don't know biology, STFU! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278311)

Although for many unwashed masses your ramblings look quasi-brilliant, your analysis has WAY too many holes. Each triplet is translated into ONE of TWENTY amino acids. You know what? Some triplets are translated to the SAME amino acids. Your analysis is bunk. Learn your biology.

Re:Mr. Huang: If you don't know biology, STFU! (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278611)

Oh noes! his analysis wasnt biologically perfect, therefore everything else he has stated is instantly rendered completely and utterly wrong!

See what you did there ACoward? yup, a nice big fat logical fallacy, thats what you did.

Re:Mr. Huang: If you don't know biology, STFU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278613)

So what? Your point doesn't contradict anything that has been said in the article and has absolutely no relevance for the analogy presented.

Re:Mr. Huang: If you don't know biology, STFU! (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278661)

Yup, to follow his (strained) analogy, 6-bits of RNA encode into 5-bits of amino acid (with 10 invalid encodings).

But really, anyone who could follow his analogies should be smart enough to learn the actual biology, so why bother with a broken analogy?

Re:Mr. Huang: If you don't know biology, STFU! (2, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278707)

Umm, I'm confused by this ranting.

FTFA: As you can see, we have 'GAA' coding for 'E' (Glutamic acid). To modify this genome to be more deadly, we simply need to replace 'GAA' with one of the codes for Lysine ('K'), which is either of 'AAA' or 'AAG'.

Article author points out that TWO triplets both translate into Lysine. OP's ability to RTFA is bunk. Learn to not troll.

seriously (0, Offtopic)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278315)

64K ought to be enough for everybody.

Just one (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278377)

A big ol' bit out of the jugular vein is enough to kill anyone.

The best book is still the one not on the shelves. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278397)

The book that can't get past the monopolies that prevent it from getting to the shelf. Not the NWO shills and gatekeepers books from Alex Jones and David Kike, but the one's that sometimes slip past the censors. Despite everyone forgetting that there was a Swine Flu vaccine back in the 1970's that caused a 300% mortality rate on all the "volunteers," it is more concern that I haven't over-looked to the fact that today THERE ARE VACCINES PATENTED BEFORE THE DISEASE MAKES ITS FIRST APPEARANCE.

I'm talking about the relatives of Hot Zone and Lab 257, that discusses that like the Human Genome, a virus has just as much and more evidence that it was engineered and traced back to the military industrial complex.

Should I even log in anymore? My main /. account is posting at -1 just because of my critical thoughts of EVER finding myself dependent on my fellow man. I want independence; Wisdom decides what knowledge I seek, so as to not have an untactical command of random unsorted information.

Re:The best book is still the one not on the shelv (3, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278821)

Yes, troll feeding is bad, but honestly,

that there was a Swine Flu vaccine back in the 1970's that caused a 300% mortality rate on all the "volunteers,"

This alleged vaccine killed the subject, revived them, killed them a second time, revived them again, and finally killed them off (for good) a third time?

Math is hard, clearly.

and this is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278449)

Biotech companies that synthesize long oligos have been asked by our kind overlords to screen any synthesis requests for pathogen sequences. But maybe with all the garage bio labs springing up these days the oligo blackmarket is nigh upon us?

A Special Message From Kim Jong-iL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278649)

All your (swine flue) base are belong to us [youtube.com] .

Yours In Disease,
Kim

more bioinformatics for beginners (5, Interesting)

cariaso1 (674515) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278641)

http://ds9a.nl/amazing-dna/ [ds9a.nl] is a wonderful comparison of DNA to code

You FAIL IT!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278691)

not gOing home

The question he should have asked... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#29278817)

is how many bits would it take to kill his server.

bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29278871)

just one, depending where it bits you

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