Darwin’s Surprise

It had never occurred to me before that viruses could become extinct which brought on greater surprise when Heidmann and other scientists were able to “resurrect” them. The text made it seem like a colloquial thought: assuming that one could just piece together extinct viruses to bring them back temporarily. “It quickly infected them all, offering the first evidence that the broken parts could once again be made infectious” (Specter, 64) Viruses should only be “revived” if their existence is beneficial to some degree. There may be beneficial reasons why these viruses have become extinct, which could suggest that we should leave them as such. Once they have been pieced back together there is no guarantee that it will be contained and a vaccine will be ready in case the situation gets out of hand. Using the viruses to better understand our genome, the viral function or to create a vaccine are all exceptional motives for such resurrection, but if it is done out of boredom the situation could escalate quickly, causing a larger problem at hand.

Living in an era with great emphasis on computer science and STEM programs, the use of technology integrated in every aspect of education has granted us with a greater access to sources. Although disregarded by Coffin, I found myself amazed at the fact that college students were able to “build” a polio virus in their spare time. The fact that these students could do so ignited a chain reaction of thoughts: With such a large number of people having unregulated access to these resources, could this cause an even bigger obstacle in the creation of vaccinations. If each string of viruses undergoes its own mutations could this create new types of viruses? All those who can (and are) making their own string of viruses may not be handling them properly, exposing the virus to unfortunate hosts and with the current progress of creating vaccines this could just increase the already existing hardships by tenfold.

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One Response to Darwin’s Surprise

  1. SunnyB says:

    It was also fascinating to me too how scientists were able to revive dead viruses and have them still be functioning. I don’t think many viruses that were resurrected were named but the Phoenix virus was one of them, and I remember that one scientist had resurrected a virus that was hundreds of thousands of years old. It’s funny to use the term revive or resurrected for a virus, because they’re technically not alive.

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