In a post 9-11 world where laboratory-made viruses and other legitimate scientific discoveries could become terrorists' weapons, scientists are stepping-up efforts to help ensure that well-intended research is not used for sinister purposes, according to an article scheduled for the July 30 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).
C&EN managing editor Ivan Amato wrote the compelling feature after interviews with scientists from academia, government, and industry who are working to address growing concerns about misuse of legitimate scientific research. "Chemists have not worried enough about the consequences of the molecules that they make," states Roald Hoffmann, who shared the 1981 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Hoffmann has chosen to address this issue in an usual way--theater. His new play, Should've, focuses on the moral and political fallout from a synthetic toxin that falls into the hands of terrorists. Hoffmann calls on scientists to "confront the reality that well-intentioned research that holds promise to cure disease, clean water and otherwise improve the conditions of life also can be commandeered for sinister purposes."
Other experts in the article discuss the possibility of using oversight boards to monitor research on potentially dangerous research projects; introducing ethical discussions into the classroom to sensitize undergraduate and graduate students to the possible misuse of scientific research, even their own; and the need for scientists to adapt a new, more vigilant and intentional way of thinking about the implications of their research.
Article "Experiments of Concern: Well-intentioned research, in the wrong hands, can become dangerous."
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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