Damn. Well, this really brings home the loss of a universe in the loss of a human life, doesn’t it?
The Telegraph reports that, among those killed in the crashed (probably shot down) Malaysian aircraft this week were 108 of the world’s leading AIDS researchers.
I mean, are you kidding me? You hear it said that one life touches many, but J. Christ, all those lives dedicated to saving, or at least improving, the lives of millions. One positive, possibly, to take from it: stark evidence of the multiplier effect of scientific research. The awesome people who dedicate their lives to this work become huge.
I will add in the caveat that, of course, every life lost is terrible — because I’m not some kind of monster. But disaster stats on lives lost can unfortunately turn into mere numbers. This one, though: 108–108!!–people working on AIDS. What a damned loss. Just how valuable is one of those minds, any human mind? It’s the size of a universe, right?
The Telegraph focuses on Dr. Joep Lange. He had prestige, and was former president of the International AIDS Society. The paper doesn’t go much into his actual research, so I Wikipedia’d a bit. One of his major contributions was in advocating combination therapy. This strategy has proven a major weapon against HIV’s slippery ability to mutate rapidly. He found that anti-retroviral drugs can drastically reduce a baby’s chance of contracting HIV from an infected mother.
He did a lot more. As did his 107 colleagues.