from the desk of Herb Masters
A Belated Happy Valentine's Day Science Fans,
This is a bit late for actual Valentine Day Science but it's not like we don't have the opportunity of extending some fun these days. It's hard to imagine that we have been in the Covid-19 mode for a year now. As they say, "it's been a hell of a year" between politics and science (note the date on that!). These days deciding what and who to believe can be a challenge. There are so many people with so many different ideas
I just bought 25 raffle tickets for a multi-day orbital journey. Since each orbit takes about 90 minutes, i’ll make 16 orbits each day while i’m up there. First, however, i need to win the raffle. ¿Would you like to buy a few tickets? Just donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Each dollar you donate in February gives you one raffle ‘ticket.’ The winner will ride in a SpaceX Dragon capsule with three other folk. Because of olfactory fatigue, you shouldn’t be too concerned about spending a few days in an unventilated capsule with three others - - and no bathroom - - and no DoorDash deliveries. (Hmmm. ¿Have you read or seen “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre?)
from the desk of Bob Siederer
Hello again Science Fans!
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the reporting of the first COVID-19 cases in the US. Let that sink in a bit. In some ways it doesn't seem like it, but we've been hearing about and dealing with this virus for a year now, and it has affected all aspects of our lives.
It has changed the way we work, shop, recreate, and entertain ourselves. It has cost the lives of more than 400,000 of our friends, relatives, and neighbors. It has contributed to an awareness of racial and economic inequality. It has taught businesses around the world that just in time manufacturing has downsides (remember the toilet paper shortage?).
We've responded in heroic fashion, with medical researchers around the world developing vaccines in record time. Those working on the front lines, first responders, hospital personnel, super market employees, delivery people, have risked exposure to keep things going. New treatments have lowered the percentage of cases resulting in death from over 5.9% to under 1.59%.
What a difference a year can make.
Going forward, there is reason to feel relief. The Biden administration has taken over, replacing a non-existent plan to address the pandemic with promises to fix the vaccine supply issues, coordinate and prioritize at the Federal level, and provide consistent guida
I have to say that I'm having a hard time deciding what to write about this weekend. I'm not sure about you but it has been difficult to avoid doom scrolling. So let me share a bit of great news for a change. In a couple of days we will have a new president. His challenges are many and staggering to think about. I am really encouraged by many things but this is great… Finally there will be a Presidential Science Advisor in the
Is it still 2020? Is this the 42nd of December? It has been a rough start to the new year that everybody was so hopeful about.
Here at the SciSchmooze we focus on science, reason, and critical thinking. Many people are struggling with what happened last week in Washington DC. I think we have been watching a corollary of what happened for years and denying the importance of it. The "freedom" to deny facts has morphed into something really crazy. Many people have been able to deny facts and let that affect other people's lives to the detriment of us all.
Consider our own home, Earth. Over 2000 years ago Pythagoras and Aristotle figured out that the earth must be round. Eratosthenes even came up with a reasonable estimate of the circumference of the earth!
(In case you were wondering, 2021 is not a prime. It is the product of 43 and 47.)
I cannot welcome you to the “present” however, because as soon as i greet you at the present, it is already in the past. ¿Sophistry? Perhaps, but perspectives of time are inspirational among poets, numerous among philosophers, and contentious among physicists. (That was Sabine Hossenfelder’s video. Because i lived in Germany, my mnemonic for her surname is “Hasenfelder,” which means “fields of rabbits.”) If you really want to take a deeper-dive on this topic, check out this article or
Hello Science Aficionados and General Lovers of Science as well,
I don't really need to say anything about what an incredible year this has been. It has been so incredible that this will be the last SciSchmooze of the year! (We are going to take a break the week after christmas since there is only one event listed between then and next year!)
Normally I would go on about science and society laced with lots of links. I'm going to be a bit more straightforward this time. Needless to say bioscience has lead the way this year and we are now hopefully on the brink of winning the Covid wars.
There are five events left on our calendar, four are about astronomy, and two are about the Great Conjunction! First off, watch
From the DNA sequence for building a protein, we know exactly what the amino acid sequence of the protein will be. However, it is largely the shape of the protein that determines its functionality with all its hydrophobic, hydrophilic, electron-rich, and electron-poor sites - and the functionalities of proteins are truly amazing. The problem of predicting the protein shape from its amino acid sequence has stymied scientists for decades. Starting twenty years ago, the effort to predict how proteins ‘fold’ (or ‘misfold’ leading to disease) as they are assembled from the ribosome was handed over to the public - to anyone who agreed to share time on their home computer to help. The Stanford-based project is named