Dual Use

26 Oct 2011 – Dual Use

The first few lectures today fit right in with a them in the current book I am reading in Audio (Uranium). The basic premise in the book is that there is more than one use for technology. If you are a cynic, you will say that all those who are promoting the non-war uses of the particular methodology are searching for justification or attempting to romanticise the technology. In Uranium, he makes the point of several scientists, journalists and industrialist who touted the peaceful divided and bounteous energy of uranium use while the majority of people were attempting to increase the destructive aspects.

The same can be said for the field of Synthetic Biology. If you can create a “virus” from components, you maybe able to develop a gene carrier for fixing inborn errors of metabolism. Or recreate an historical virus from scratch. Or create something nasty and deadly in your own laboratory.

Simply pointing out that scientist should be responsible is probably not enough. In most countries there is regulation, requirements and legal consequences should you screw up (get caught). One of the problems is that part of the regulation burden has been shifted onto the companies which supply reagents, chemicals and products to order. Since I have not read the regulations, I am not sure how significant a burden this is. But if your company supplies things – you can be responsible for only selling to approved customers. What is reasonable to question? How many genes or amino sequences need to be checked against databases. Which databases?

If this sounds a bit strange – think about the Silicone Valley model of science. Bright people set up labs in their garages and make things. You can buy an incredible variety of toys on eBay. This is free enterprise at its best and worst. SynBio has resulted in decreasing (deskilling) the skill level required to play with this equipment. Regulation flies i the face youthful enthusiasm and the free market economy of the US.

I think I mentioned that I was test knitting several patterns. The first, a cowl, was completed a couple of weeks ago. The second project is a bit more long term. It is a long and complicated shawl on which I managed another 25 rows on each half (knitting both at the same time so they match). Since this is a section that is heavy with beads it has been rather slow going. This used up the first skein on yarn. According to the designer, I am 19 rows past the ½ waypoint so I hopefully I will not run out of yarn.

The other project is a fingerless mitt knit in lace weight on size 2.0 needles. To say that it has been less than fun would be underestimating the pain. I finally got the pattern for the eight row cuff repeat in my head and managed 2/8 repeats without major error. Did I mention that there is patterning in every row, that the stitch count continually changes and that there are double yarn overs? I am just glad that I only need to knit one….

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Prose, Travel, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.