Sunday, March 9, 2014
Subject: Belief-based arguments
Believer: The case against Bruce Ivins is full of holes.
Researcher: What makes you say that? Like what?
Believer: It would have been impossible for Dr. Ivins to have grown all the spores in all the letters in shaking flasks without someone noticing what he was doing. Even with the shakers running 24-hours a day, it would have taken him about a year!
Researcher: But, the facts say that the spores weren't grown in shaking flasks. They were grown in autoclave biosafety bags in a corner somewhere - probably in his lab.
Believer: What facts?
Researcher: First of all, the spore powders contained traces of agar. You use agar when growing spores in plates. You do not use agar in shaking flasks. Secondly, there was no sign of the kind of growth media they use in shaking flasks. Thirdly, the spores showed signs of growing "under stress," which occurs when they grow at less than the ideal temperatures in an incubator.
Believer: Where did you read that? They didn't say that in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary.
Researcher: It's in the supporting documents. The University of Maryland assisted with the testing, and they found traces of agar in both the New York Post and the Leahy powders.
Believer: It would still have taken a lot of plates and a lot of time, wouldn't it? People would have noticed.
Researcher: No, it wouldn't and they wouldn't. Growing spores on plates was part of Ivins' job. He would inoculate about 180 plates a day when preparing for challenges. And, according to the National Academy of Sciences, it would only have taken 463 plates to grow all the spores in all the powders. Ivins used 546 plates for some mice tests shortly before the attacks. If you leave those plates in autoclave bags for a week or two, you'll have all the spores needed for the letters. And, if anyone noticed the autoclave bags lying around, they didn't say anything, because Ivins was known to leave such things lying around for weeks. They'd grown used to it. So, no one ever said anything. And, he used flask RMR-1029 as the source for the seed spores, so the spores on those plates would be exact matches to what was in the letters.
Believer: But Ivins would have had to dry the spores. Ivins didn't know how to dry spores, and he couldn't possibly have used the lyophilizer that was located in Suite B3.
Researcher: That's just more nonsense. Every microbiologist knows how to dry spores. They all know that if they leave a Petri dish inoculated with anthrax alone, in a couple weeks it will be covered with DRY spores. Like everything else, anthrax spores will dry all by themselves if left exposed to the air. Ivins could dry all the spores he needed in 2 and a half hours inside the bio-safety cabinet in his lab. He could speed up the drying process by adding heat. He certainly didn't need a lyophilizer. The FBI and DOJ only mentioned the lyophilizer because Ivins lied and claimed he didn't know how to use it. Plus, they could not prove that Ivins did NOT dry the attack spores using the lyophilizer. The idea that Ivins wouldn't have known how to clean up after himself is just more nonsense.
Believer: But, but, but, there are people who claim the spores were weaponized with silica. Ivins didn't know how to do that.
Researcher: The spores were NOT weaponized with silica. Silicon from the growth media gets absorbed into spore coats when spores are grown at room temperature. Ivins grew the spores at room temperature in autoclave bags in a corner of his lab. It's just crazy to assume that because it is the standard procedure at USAMRIID to grow spores in an incubator at higher temperatures, that a microbiologist like Ivins wouldn't know that spores can also grow at room temperatures. There's testimony from witnesses who looked at plates Ivins left around inside autoclave bags for weeks, and those plates were covered with dry or nearly dry anthrax spores. And, any competent microbiologist knows that if you let spores dry in the open air they can aerosolize all by themselves and kill you. Nature makes them that way.
Believer: There's no proof that Ivins knew that silicon would be absorbed into spore coats from the growth media.
Researcher: So what? Ivins made the spores in flask RMR-1030, and 6 percent of those spores had the same silicon signature as the attack spores. So, there IS proof that Ivins could create spores with that silicon signature -- even if he didn't know what he was doing. It's so easy to do that he could do it unintentionally.
Believer: Well, I don't care what the facts say, I'm going to believe what I want to believe.
Researcher: Yes, I know.