ScienceInsider

Breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy

  • How Powerful Are the Pentagon's Hackers?

    The National Research Council stepped into the shadowy world of cyberwarfare this week, issuing a call for open discussion of the Pentagon's efforts to build computer viruses or other novel weapons to infect or destroy an adversary's computers. According to the NRC panel, the "cyberattack capabilities" of the United States are probably more powerful than "the most sophisticated cyberattacks perpetrated by cybercriminals."

  • Ferreting Out the Swine Flu Mystery

    Now a popular pet, ferrets have also become the animal model of choice for many influenza studies, as they can easily be infected with the virus and have similar respiratory tracts to humans'. But a report last October of an outbreak of influenza in a ferret colony has led to questions about whether this animal model can help sort out a critical question about the current swine flu outbreak: What allows this particular virus to transmit so well between humans?

  • On the Precipice of Pandemic

    The World Health Organization has raised the threat of the current outbreak of swine flu from phase 4 to 5, officials announced this evening in Geneva. Phase 6 is a full-scale pandemic. “Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,” said Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general, at a press conference.

  • Exclusive Interview: CDC Head Virus Sleuth

    Virologist Ruben Donis, chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke with ScienceInsider at length last night about the swine flu virus causing the current outbreak. CDC’s early analyses raise several provocative possibilities. The stage appears to have been set for this human outbreak by an outbreak over the past decade of flu viruses in swine that combine strains from several species.

  • Worries and Questions Mount as Disease Goes Global

    Racing to keep up with swine flu’s spread, health agencies warned this morning that the number infected is changing hourly, and the World Health Organization is eyeing an upgrade to pandemic level 5 if it sees sustained person-to-person transmission in at least two countries. Mexico is there already, WHO says, and it’s keeping a close watch on New York City, where the swine flu has spread through at least one school.

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