On July 1, a researcher cleaning out a cold storage room at the Food and Drug Administration came across a stash of six vials of smallpox virus stored inside a cardboard box. Considering that the World Health Assembly deems smallpox a public health threat so apocalyptic that live samples may be handled only in hermetically sealed labs by scientists wearing full-body suits with their own air supplies, this was the equivalent of finding an atomic bomb in a dorm fridge next to last night’s cheese fries.

For Slate Magazine