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Don't Kill the Messenger

It is widely accepted in the US that it would be a bad thing for Iran to build a nuclear bomb — but is it OK to kill their scientists to keep it from happening? Two assassination attempts on Iranian nuclear scientists have been made in the past several days, says Science Not Fiction's Malcolm MacIver, just a short while after hacking attempts on the computers running Iran's centrifuges were also made. The idea of killing scientists to stem the tide of technological advancement isn't recent — the Unabomber targeted scientists in order to carry out his anti-technology philosophy, MacIver says. But no matter what we may think of Iran having the bomb, killing their scientists and engineers isn't an acceptable solution, he adds. Unfortunately, many in the public see scientists as "Dr. Evil" and the portrayal of scientists in popular entertainment doesn't help that image. "The killing of Iran's scientists raises some troubling concerns about how scientists can be scapegoats for a society's discomforts with technological progress, and how narrative fiction can be a lubricant for such a move," MacIver says.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.