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starship-design: Re: Bugs


>As for other bits of discussion I find it hard to imagine that alien
>biochemistries will be totally hostile/toxic and a real impediment to
>colonisation. Maybe. However toxins usually target certain hosts, and even
>more so for pathogens. 

Toxins are chemicals, while their presence eventually will cripple the host
it are virii, bacteria and larger organisms that are considered the initial

>I think we take the "European diseases" analogy too
>far because we're talking about disease transfer within a species on the
>one hand, and disease transfer between different biochemistries on the other.

Yes, children's diseases like measles, pox and mumps are all viral
diseases. Virii are the least likely ones to attack us, since they need
compatible DNA. 
Many virii are bound to a single species.

>Perhaps exobiological systems will use stereomolecules incompatible with
>ours, but beyond that I doubt there'll be a lot of transfer. Molecular
>homologies do arise between widely different species, but these are yet to
>be documented as causing disease.

Hmmm, as far as I've heard, you are unlikely to spend a month in the jungle
to get a bunch of parasites like bacteria but also larger organisms. You
may not die from them, but that's likely because we've been battling them
during our evolution.

>If you want some idea of exobiological contact think of deep-sea fishing and
>what they might dredge up. There's stuff in the deep that we've yet to
>encounter - weird microbes that we can't imagine - but we've been pulling
>up nets for centuries. Know of any pandemics from fish? From squid? No.

Not so long ago I heard a story from a fisherman who stinged himself with a
fish hook. After a few hours he developed severe fever. He merely made it
in time to a hospital, otherwise he would have died from it.
(Antibiotics onboard likely could have helped him in an earlier stage though.)

>So I think the threat is overblown.

Not so sure.