Archive for Conrad Waddington

Does Influenza Evolve in Multiple Tenses?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by Rob Wallace

The past may possess a power greater than prologue. Anyone with a social networking account knows that. All of a sudden you find yourself daily interacting with people long thought boxed away. People mature, yes, but sensibilities remain largely intact and an old year, fine wine or vinegar, pours back up into the bottle.

“The past,” as William Faulkner diagnosed it, “is never dead. It’s not even the past.” Living in multiple tenses, in what we characterized in the previous post as Louis Althusser’s ‘historical present’, can be exhilarating or exhausting depending on the day.

That kind of time travel may be influenza’s bread-and-butter. Strains of the bug may retain, and strategically exploit, the capacity to evolve molecular characteristics of bygone eras.

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