I'm not sure about you, but I have had enough of 2020 and am ready to move on. It seems like it's one challenge or loss after another. The loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hit particularly hard. Unfortunately we still have 3 months to go. I don't think it will be any less distracting and stressful. One point of light we have had in the last week is an annual celebration of science. Last Thursday 9.17 was the The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. I've never made it to see, but every year I tell myself I'm
Hello Science Supporters and Students, (aren't we all both?)
What an amazing couple of weeks of turmoil we have seen. We here at the SciSchmooze are focused on science and how it informs us and how it helps make the world a better place to live for all. Fires, Covid-19, the struggle for equity in society, and the upcoming election in just a few weeks can be overwhelming. Often, science relies on elections. Our new word for the week is psephology.
There will be more "science" after this missive about elections! I personally think that if you can arrange it at all you should
Happy Labor Day weekend! Hope you are all findings ways to enjoy it safely in our new normal. I had honestly decided to not write about COVID-19 but two reasons compel me to- 1) we cannot get bored and relax about the necessary measures and 2) there were a few important news articles that I wanted to share with you all.
The first one was this piece in New York Times saying that a large percentage of people who tested positive for COVID-19 may not have been infectious. Here’s why. Current diagnostics tests use a technique called PCR, polymerase chain reaction. PCR amplifies viral genetic material multiple fold to detect its presence. This means that even the tiniest load of virus can be detected with a high number of cycles. Why does this matter in diagnostic testing?
People who have had COVID-19 will carry viral generic material over several weeks in their body, but those minute quantities are not enough to infect others. However, a high number of PCR cycles in the diagnostic test will still show these peop
This missive will arrive in your inbox on Mary Shelley’s birthday, August 30. Nikita Gill writes on Twitter: “Since it’s Mary Shelley’s birthday today, it would be a good time to remind everyone again that she was a teenager when she started writing Frankenstein and that teenage girls are badass.”
Juxtaposing “teenage girls” with “badass” is an attention-getter, yet anyone who has survived living with a teenage daughter knows there is a fair amount of truth to it. Let’s continue with ‘juxtapositions’ a bit further. Please have fun watching this video which involves chemistry/alchemy, rubber ducky/Frankenstein, and Vincent Van Gogh/Ms. Shelley. [However, Mary and Percy may not have been closer than a few kilometers from Castle Frankenstein; hard to know.]
Another juxtaposition in the news this week was the announcement that
A month ago, if you had told me what was about to happen, I'd have said "no way, the year can't get stranger than it has been already". Yet, here we are, with 500+ wildfires in the general area, a prolonged heat wave, and another round of dry thunderstorms headed our way. And that's just locally. In the Gulf of Mexico, two hurricanes are brewing at the same time! This is what it has taken to push the Coronavirus from the front pages.
Our hearts go out to those affected directly by the wild fires. The complex of fires north of Santa Cruz has displaced thousands, destroyed the buildings at California's original State Park, and made simple breathing unsafe. We've collected some sources of information to pass along:
Hello to all who think science is one of the best tools we have to understand, save, enhance the quality of life, and help improve this for every person of every color, religious belief, and geographic starting point. I really didn't expect much change since I last wrote the SciSchmooze. Willful covidnorance is still rampant. I'm sure you have read, heard, and seen plenty of Covid-19 articles of doom and gloom as well as hopeful ones. I'm not going to go on about it here, but at the end of this missive I will add a few links that I think are worth taking a look at and are a bit removed from the common media articles.
This week I have been pondering something a bit different than usual. I think and I hope you at least mostly agree that science is the best tool we have for answering questions and solving problems. However we are in an age where science is leading to so many technologies that people with skill can fool us. In a movie theatre (remember those?) we could watch a movie and suspend belief or doubt and enjoy being fooled into believing
As we continue adjusting to our new normal and hoping to control the havoc created by SARS-Cov-2
virus, there is another battle that many of us have been fighting. Science supporters have always had
some resistance, but these are special times. The misinformation around COVID-19 is in abundance and
spreading like wildfire. Herb had also touched upon this issue in the past newsletters. While those that
are willfully ignoring evidence cannot be helped, I am finding even rational friends and relatives
genuinely confused by conflicting news and falling prey to fake news. One important reason is that them
not being familiar with the scientific details is not new, but even scientists still figuring out details of this
virus is complicating the situation further. As new data emerges, scientists are compelled to rectify
previous stances, which (for some people) might seem like contradicting and confusing information.
In such times, it is also hard to know what (and who) to believe. Here are my tips on how to identify real
news vs fake information:
-The most important step is to check the source. Is it a reliable, well-known news outlet? If not, has a
similar story been covered by trustworthy outlets? It is always a smoki
Let's start with news from the coronavirus world. Why is it that people with contrarian views will latch onto the one published report that supports their position and ignore the many published reports that disagree, or outright refute it? I guess people don't want to admit they were wrong. The most visible example of this at the moment deals with the effectiveness of masks worn in public. With views ranging from masks are ineffective to they cause CO2 poisoning, here's a case to prove that they do, indeed keep the disease from spreading.
I think another reason there's so much controversy is the way media are jumping on the latest news, including non-peer reviewed, preliminary research, some of which is later retracted. Once out there, it takes on a life of its own and never leaves the internet. The various remedies that have been promoted for COVID-19 since we first heard of it have covered quite a range of effectiveness. Here's a good summary to bring you up to date on
First off, I accept that the news and media can distort the scale of a problem. Given that, there seems to be a significant number of people that seem to demonstrate a vast capacity for WILLFUL COVIDNORANCE. I think this is a subset of willful ignorance. It seems to be largely contained to a group of covidiots who are willing to put family and friends as well as coworkers at risk as well as themselves. It doesn't seem to be as big of a problem here in the SF Bay Area and especially in San Mateo County where I live as it is in other parts of the state and country. Let me be clear about one more thing. I spent 25 years working in emergency services. I treated every person I came into c