Flu Virus Evolution

This article has so many interesting ideas about the evolution of flu viruses it’s hard to pick one quote.

“People tend to think of wild birds as the source of everything, but we see a very strong indication of spillover from domestic birds to wild birds,” he said. “It turns out the animals we keep for food and eggs may be substantially shaping the diversity of these viruses in the wild over time spans of decades. That is a surprise.”

They figured out the evolution of viruses by including the length of time the virus was in each host:

“My longtime collaborator Andrew Rambaut implemented in the computer what I had been doing with a plastic ruler. We developed software that allows the clock to tick at different rates in different host species. Once we had that, it produces these very clear and clean results.”

Recently it had been cosmology and astronomy that had been in the throes of a golden age. Now it feels that science is exploding with new found wonders and insights daily in nearly all the sciences. There is great hope in this sort of news – a hope seldom found in the daily stream. There is implied hope that these discoveries can all come together into a deeper, wider understanding, and cures for the ancient miseries of humankind; even clarity about the physical context of our human spirit.