Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Atoms and Molecules

According to a new recent Rasmussen poll, "seventy six percent of Americans say it is at least somewhat likely that a terrorist group will detonate a nuclear weapon in the next 25 years, and that includes 45 percent who say it is Very Likely."
Most Adults (58%) also believe it is at least somewhat likely that there will be a major war involving nuclear weapons over the course of the next century, including 26% who say it is Very Likely. Thirty-two percent (32%) regard a war with nuclear weapons as unlikely, but only five percent (5%) say it’s Not At All Likely to happen.
Scary stuff, until you realize that 25 years is a long time. If you took a poll in 1969 about the US in 25 years, most people would have predicted we'd have a lunar base and be exploring Mars. History shows we took a different course.

I personally do worry about the next 25 years, but I don't think the atom is the biggest threat. NPR ran a story a couple of weeks ago about how genetically modified canola has "escaped". According to the article
...the vast majority of feral canola plants in the state contain artificial genes that make them resistant to herbicides. Researchers also found two plants that contained traits from multiple genetically modified varieties, suggesting that genetically modified plants are breeding in the wild.
Talk about a Jurassic Park moment! We have such arrogance in modifying DNA and so little experience or knowledge about the consequences. I think the most frightening technology on the radar today is genetic manipulation. Unlike a nuclear bomb, you can experiment with genetics undetectably, and with relatively simple, inexpensive, non-regulated equipment. Applying the lessons of computer science to biotechnology, I envision a day when an "anti-virus" subscription means protection from genetic hackers who make human viruses, rather than computer viruses.

Sorry for the downer post, readers, but these things creeped me out.


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