August 15, 2016 10:22 pm

Be afraid. Tomorrow night, Laurie Garrett is back to tell Bill Nye about Zika!

Illustration of the Zika Virus and Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Credit: colematt/istock.

Credit: colematt/iStock.

Are you a Laurie Garrett fan?

We are.

The only problem with having the Pulitzer prize-winning science journalist on as a StarTalk guest, which we’ve done twice before and are about to do again tomorrow night on StarTalk All-Stars, is that every time we do, she scares the hell out of us.

Maybe that has a little bit to do with her specialty: viruses. If there’s an outbreak someplace in the world, Laurie’s our “go to” expert on it. After all, that Pulitzer she won in 1996 was for covering the Ebola outbreak in Zaire… from inside Zaire. She was also on the ground during an outbreak of the Black Plague in India, and inside China during the SARS outbreak.

The first time she was on, in Zombie Apocalypse Part 2, Laurie warned us about how Vladimir Putin and the Russians not only never completely shut down their biological warfare apparatus, but also don’t let any outside inspectors in to see what they’re up to. And that wasn’t the scariest part of the episode. Laurie told us about how the CIA, FBI, NSC, CDC and WHO are all worried about the new developments in synthetic biology, including the fact that we now have the capability to design microorganisms by sequencing their genes on a computer, email the code to a 3-D printer, and then print them out using nucleotide “ink.”

The next time she was on our show, in Cosmic Queries: Viruses, Outbreaks and Pandemics, Laurie told us how viruses like Ebola and HIV jump from bats and primates to humans through “zoonosis” and why they’re so lethal when they do. She also described how deadly pathogens can spread in clouds and rain down on unsuspecting victims far away. Once again, though, that wasn’t the scariest thing she told us about. That accolade belongs to the fact that in addition to scientists in other countries developing human engineered super-viruses in the lab, including airborne versions, there is actually a competition where 248 competing teams of high school students invented entirely new life forms, against which nobody has any immunity.

So, what is Laurie, who is also the Senior Fellow of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, going to talk about with host Bill Nye and co-host Chuck Nice tomorrow night on StarTalk All-Stars?


Enough said.

Join us for Confronting Zika and other Viruses, with Bill Nye and Laurie Garrett – StarTalk All-Stars, Tuesday, August 16 at 7pm EDT, on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and right here on our website. (For now, all StarTalk All-Stars episodes will come through the same feeds you’re used to, so there’s no need to subscribe to anything new.)

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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