Sounds like a lab in Holland came up with an airborne strain of H5N1 bird flu through a little selective breeding. Should the specific sequence of events that led to this be classified? Absolutely. Should this experiment have been done. Again - absolutely. I believe the resulting strain took as little as five mutations to become airborne. Although nature doesn't target her results she's got a mighty big lab full of villagers with pigs and chickens and everything and all the time in the world to slice and dice and mix up something nasty. So just like it happened 100 years ago it's bound to happen again. Only that time we Americans were living with pigs and chickens and everything and despite blaming the "Spanish" for the whole thing we ended up knocking out 17 million with our own home brew (or not). So it was good work to determine in advance what an airborne pathogen could look like. Good work boys.
Something about the Time's comment section, particularly regarding science stories, brings out a self selected group of stupid motherfuckers. Maybe stupid is too harsh. How about willfully ignorant? But I stand by the "motherfuckers". A stupid motherfucker is someone who puts your and my kids at risk because they choose to remain willfully ignorant. There were more commenters wanting to kill all the scientists or free the ferrets than got the point of the whole experiment. An unfortunately large contingent thought it would be just dandy for the planet if half of us were killed off by the bird flu. I got kids - I don't share that view. The vast majority thought those naughty scientists should have their slide rules taken away. That, in their sociopathic arrogance, these braniacs with no common sense were meddling with forces with which man was not meant to meddle with. Or doing it to sell vaccines. Not realizing, of course, that scientists are just like you and me, only smarter. Not likely to risk having their kids spike a 107 degree fever and cough up a lung for the hell of it. The idea is to understand the evolutionary mechanisms in order to prevent that. It's not magic, people. It's not even rocket science.