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Need virological help with work of fiction

Michael Poidinger mikep at uniwa.uwa.edu.au
Mon Oct 10 15:56:05 EST 1994

In article <MAILQUEUE-101.941005094123.448 at molbiol.uct.ac.za> ED at molbiol.uct.ac.za ("RYBICKI, ED") writes:
>From: ED at molbiol.uct.ac.za ("RYBICKI, ED")
>Subject: Re: Need virological help with work of fiction
>Date: 5 Oct 1994 03:06:38 -0700

>> I am currently at work on a science fiction/disaster novel and am 
>                              ^^^^^^^

>...and if you have no SCIENCE background, how come you are trying to 
>write such a novel???

Give the guy a break.  I'd rather an author with no knowledge try to write SF
than a scientist with no talent.

>> major plot device is an unusual form of airborne virus.  I would 

>The only kind of unusual form of airborne virus would be one that is 
>totally unrealistic, given our current understanding of virus 
>architecture - and while it is tempting fate to say that no major 
>surprises are expected, no major surprises ARE expected, in terms of 
>"airborne viruses", at any rate.  Perhaps a parachute brigade-borne 

News to me. Where exactly does that put most of the picornaviruses (eg common 
cold), and a fair few of the ortho and para-myxoviruses (flu, measels, mumps)? 
 Foot and Mouth (picorna) crosses the English Channel with ease,  and the last 
big flu epidemic after the war killed more people than the war.  In Brisbane 
(Australia) recently a group of horses and a few people came down with a 
morbilli virus (paramyxo) which killed all the horses and came close to 
killing the trainer as well.

Who's to say where the next suprise comes from?  I didn't see too many people 
predict the Aids virus.  Species cross-over and formation of lethal virus 
strains happens all the time.

In this age of high urban density and rapid travel, it is my sincerest wish 
that you are right about there being no more suprises, and my sincerest fear 
that you are wrong.


Dr Mike Poidinger        
Microbiology, UWA       ==> Animal Welfare NOT Animal Rights       
mikep at uniwa.uwa.edu.au 

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