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Impressions

Lisa Ronthal lronthal at fas.harvard.edu
Wed Mar 29 01:00:43 EST 1995


JOACHIMS MICHELLE LYNN (mjoachim at falcon.cc.ukans.edu) wrote:
: Bruce Phillips (bap at MED.PITT.EDU) wrote:
: : Perhaps describing OUTBREAK as a "documentary" was hyperbole but many of its
: : scenes, particularly those of the medical institute and the various bio-
: : hazard containment levels (BL1-BL4) were very convincing.  I agree the time
: : frames of various events didn't jive at all with one another.  But I still
: : think many many people will leave that movie with quite a few misconceptions
: : about viruses and their treatment.
: I think you are right about the movie leaving people with many 
: misconceptions about viruses and their treatment.  However, I hope that 
: people also will aprreciate the complexity and power that these organisms 
: have.  They are so small and simple by comparison to humans, yet so 
: capable of reproducing themselves, regardless of expense!  I hope that 
: the public will appreciate the amazing capacity that viruses have to 
: impact our future, without the paranoia that is potentially involved by 
: the overdramatization of an inaccurate story of an epidemic (maybe this 
: is alot to ask :-)).  I do know that I left the theater not so much 
: criticizing the inaccuracies or exaggerations in the movie, but 
: appreciating the elegance of viral systems, having fueled my fire to 
: always want to know how they do it!

Well, I'm a member of the public who saw _Outbreak_ a week ago and 
haven't slept yet. "Scared shitless" describes it. Went out and got 
_The Hot Zone_ (not comforting) and _The Dancing Matrix_ (less 
sensationalistic), WWW-browsed a bit, scared hell out of all my friends 
with my new facts. Now we *all* can't sleep.

I'm no scientist, and my three clueless but insomnia-inducing questions are 
these-- maybe one of you experts will take pity on me! Firstly, is it true 
that HIV introduced into mice with human immune systems recombines with 
mouse viruses to become capable of infecting the respiratory tract, and 
should I be worrying about airborne AIDS in the lab? Secondly, could one 
make an antibody-mediated vaccine for Ebola Zaire using Ebola Reston?
Thirdly, are we all damn sure the demolition of the Reston lab building 
will not expose/is not exposing or creating any problems?

Lisa
who was actually going to work on this stuff for the CDC when she was ten, 
but then she forgot. Until last week. (The folly is gone, believe me.)

And who also wonders what else she should read. (high-lay sci-literacy, 
neurologist's kid)
--
Lisa Ronthal
Harvard English Dept.
lronthal at fas.harvard.edu



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