Ideas are a dime a dozen, but when one of my suggestions are followed, it is heartening. As I grow older, I value the effort that must be expended to follow through with what we like to call “good ideas”. Those who follow through and test these good ideas are the unsung heroes of scientific research and development. That said, I had previously e-mailed the following suggestions to the federal authorities on the dates below:
With regard to tracing the source of the anthrax. Cross contamination of overseas postoffices and other mail may help to determine where the anthrax entered the global mail system. It seems to me that by cross checking databases listing laboratory personnel (such as the Lists of World Culture collections: http://wdcm.nig.ac.jp/hpcc.html) who are capable of producing anthrax with other databases listing terrorist sympatizers and extreme right fanatics such as the Tim McVeigh sympathizers, that we could narrow down the search to possibly a few hundred places where appropriate personnel could question people and take appropriate samples to determine if the strains match.
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In order to find the suspect who carried out the anthrax attacks may I suggest that a scientific approach may work best. The method would require the hepa vacuuming of a suspect's clothes, car, home, etc. Anywhere the anthrax spores may have been. This should obviously be done with a clean filter, then the samples should be divided into at least two to three groups. One group should be cultivated under conditions that favor the germination of the anthrax spores and if found, they should be compared to the strains sent to the Senators' offices. Another sample should be pretreated to kill everything but spores, and then cultivated and examined for the same strain as was used in the attacks. The third should be examined microscopically to determine if the spores are present.
In addition, any filtering devices from the suspects' living or working quarters should be examined by the methods given above.
This will take time, but may be the best evidence to definitively convict the person of the crime.
Richard Lanzara, PhD
President & Chief Scientist