Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Anthrax Close-up, Part 2

PostedDecember 14, 2008

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Randy Atkins: The chemical element silicon is in spores from the letters, but not in the flask.  This means the spores used in the attack weren’t taken directly from the flask, but grown elsewhere…in the presence of silicon.  But Serguei Popov, a George Mason biologist and former Soviet bioweapons researcher, says the levels of silicon are too high to be an accident – that it was either purposely added to weaponize the spores or…

Serguei Popov:...could have come from the use of foam suppressant agents, typically employed in the process of large scale fermentation of bacteria.

Randy Atkins: While the FBI thinks Ivins grew the spores at Fort Detrick, they haven’t been able to re-create them.  Paul Kotula, an electron microscope expert at Sandia National Labs…

Paul Kotula: We looked at over 200 samples in our lab that were various attempts to reverse-engineer the process under which these powders were made and did not find a match.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins,
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