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Friday, February 6, 2009
Session 8: Discover - Nathan Wolfe
Starts by admitting intimidation of TED, since he’s a lowly virus hunter. So he pulled a Bill Gates and unleashed a glass of viruses on the audience.
He’s looking for viruses in the world.
HIV: arrived 1929 but discovered in 1984. This is the history of viruses, that they arrive but aren’t discovered for decades. He’s looking for them NOW to avoid epidemics. How do we learn to find and forecast?
He’s looking for when viruses jump species and that occurs at points of intimate contact. Think of remote areas and hunters, blood contact between people and animals.
They went to rural Africa to follow viruses. In the past, what happens in Africa doesn’t stay there anymore thanks to logging roads and more. What could have died off in a village now goes to cities. They have to monitor people who are sick and get villagers to collect samples from animals. And it’s not just in Africa. They need to catch things before they get to airplanes and go world-wide.
Viruses can help create or destroy cancers. They can help us
We suffer from surface parochialism. We now know there is life below us and that there is life in very high temperatures. Perhaps life bubbled up from below, not washed up from the shore. Is there alien life (non-RNA, non-DNA) beneath us, or beneath the surface of another planet?
He used the phrase “the antropic (sp?) niche problem”. Need to research, flesh out, link up. (Sorry folks. Feel free to help me out there.)
Thought experiment: can we determine the possibility of life in a drop of water. [Again: need to flesh out and link up too.]
He’s busy trying to prevent pandemics in vertebrates but encourages others to look wider in the world.
In response to what the high school student asked of Jill Tarter yesterday: What should I study if I want to find aliens? Maybe microbiology. We might find them here.