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An EU side effect

May 19th, 2011

or – the phenomena of the traveling and relocating scientist.

There was a time when all it took was a quick glance at someones name and it was enough to tell you all you might think you wanted to know about them. First names came from families and not from movie, films or the attempt of parent to be creative or unique (and contained few “y”s). Last names reflected family, occupation, local, regional, geographic or ethnic affiliation. Names, even in border areas could be clearly tied to country/ethnicity. Even in the US – one hears a last name and assumes an ancestral country of origin. Other than during/immediately post military conflicts, most Europeans married within their own country, social and religious class. There were exceptions, especially among the university student population and those proximity to military locations, but most ordinary people grew up, worked, married all within 75 km of their place of birth.

The end of the Cold War brought more than political change. A new wave of migration flowed from East to West for economic reasons. Regional ethnic conflicts further contributed refugees to the redistribution of population.

What triggered off this whole train of thought was the following list of last names associated with an EU funded multidisciplinary team on biodosemetric tools: Wojcik, Banjinski, Romm, Oestreicher, Thierems, Vral, Rothkamm, Ainsbury, Bendertitter, Fattibene, Jaworska, Lindholm, Whitehouse, Barquinero, Sommer, Woda, Scherthan, Vojnovic & Trompier. The countries represented are Sweden, Germany, Beligium, UK, France, Italy, Norway, Finland, Spain and Poland. No – there is not a one to one correspondence since the UK and Germany have more than one institution participating in the team and a couple of locations have more than one scientist participating.

Most of the research being presented relates to DARPA, NIH or Bundeswehr funding with a similar emphasis at the chromosomal, cell and molecular level. In many ways, this is a small and limited community many of whom have known each other for years. I have to admit, given a choice I would rather attend a meeting in Muenchen if I was from Dartmouth, Northwestern or University of Chicago than in DC and this location is certainly more affordable for all of the European based individuals.

It doesn’t mean – even with this free flow of scientists and ideas – that some of their concepts have legs. For example – there was the brilliant thought that glass could be used as a surrogate dosimeter for individuals. Glass – taken from mobil phones was tested. They didn’t look at glasses since those are always exposed to sunlight and as such would have a wide variation in changes already present. In either case there would be a slight problem – the item tested is destroyed in the process. Personally, in the case of a radiation accident or terrorist incident most people would be more willing to give up very expensive glasses than their mobile phones but not thrilled about either. I don’t see this as a viable method.

Leaving aside the discussion of testing finger nails (I don’t think this almost completely male panel has a clue about artificial nails and nail polish) and teeth (no need to pull with the latest and greatest) their other brilliant concept has to do using chips as surrogates. As in sim cards or the chips from various banking cards that reside in inner pockets. Hello? Multi-national and being a scientist obviously has nothing to do with common sense! Exactly who is going to be willing, in the face of a crisis to have their ATM, Debit or health access card destroyed…….

(oh, the beginning answer to the above is Sweden, Sweden, Germany, Germany, Belgium ….

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  1. Carmen
    May 20th, 2011 at 09:48 | #1

    OK. I just had an thought. Did you notice how that list of names would not be particularly out of place in the Minneapolis phone book? Or even in a relatively small town like Silver Bay?

    I am sure there was a reason why hair samples won’t work. There’s some body hair that’s rarely exposed to sunlight.

  2. Holly
    May 20th, 2011 at 09:51 | #2

    The phone book of today, most certainly, but I doubt that of MPLS 40 years ago.

    The problem with body hair is that not everyone has – you would have to pluck so that you would get roots and it would be slow (privacy and dressing/undressing required). I know that this crew did not thoroughly think through acceptance and contra-indications on most of their methods – but it certainly was fun listening to them attempt to make a case.

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