Anthrax attacks: Still unsolved.
This is science I take a personal interest in, as someone involved in this stuff. Dr. Bruce Ivins, after being named a “person of interest” by the FBI killed himself (or, at least, allegedly did so). More’s the pity – a new set of tests done at Sandia National Laboratories have exonerated the late anthrax suspect:
Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin, says Michael. Bacteria from Ivins’ RMR-1029 flask did not contain any of those four elements.
There’s more about this ongoing investigation at Salon, of all places. As you might expect from a non-scientific publication, their coverage is focused on Rep. Rush Holt’s drive to form a Congressional commission to investigate the attacks, rather than research… although they do link to stories on the Sandia findings and a possible rebuttal:
The mailed spores could have been removed from the flask and grown under different conditions, resulting in varying chemical contents, Jason Bannan, a microbiologist and forensic examiner at the FBI’s Chemical Biological Sciences Unit in Quantico, Virginia, told Kwok.
Microbiology is messy, I guess.