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from the desk of David Almandsmith

Greetings fellow travelers,
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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
from the desk of Meenakshi Prabhune

Hello Sci-Schmoozers,

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Holidays are unusual this year, to say the least. It sucks to be away from family and avoid those big get-togethers we yearn for all year but there is also a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for the efforts of frontline health care workers who have been tirelessly treating patients this year. The resilience that people have shown in these trying times is laudable; no matter how bad the situation, there are those few people around us who keep going and motivate you to keep going. Last, but not the least, I am grateful for the hard work that scientists put into research to develop vaccines in record time—exactly the positive news we needed to end the year.

The results of Phase 3 vaccine trials from Pfizer and
from the desk of Bob Siederer

Hello again Science fans!

There's quite a variety of things to talk about today.  Let's start with Rock and Roll! 

Well, not exactly, but indirectly. Climate change is having an effect on guitars.  You probably never think about the wood that's used in making musical instruments, but climate change is causing a shortage of swamp ash, the type of wood used in Fender guitars.  Rock and Roll will never sound quite the same, all because of more historic flooding along the Mississippi River.

You should not take anything for granted these days.  Take north.  Yes, the direction north.  The magnetic north pole is moving quickly, and has left Canada, headed for Siberia!

In the cont

The SciSchmooze Wants To Know

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Fans of Data and Evidence, aka Science and Reason,

Just to remind you and make sure that new readers know…   I am not a trained or certified (whatever that means) scientist.  I grew up in a time when science was the ultimate arbiter of truth for most people I knew and is for the people I know now.  Nor am I a historian or philosopher.  I'm just someone who is trying to make sense out of how we know and celebrate what we know about this amazing universe.  The philosophy of science keeps many of us grounded in understanding many things.

SciSchmoozing with Uncertainty

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Water availability on the Moon?

It has been known for years that water ice exists in polar craters on the Moon. Sunlight never reaches some places in those craters and (surprisingly to me) ice there has not sublimated away into space. Now a study from the University of Colorado posits that ice could exist all over the surface in tiny nooks and crannies. And then, a NASA study confirmed finding water on the Moon on sunlit surfaces. Uh. Allow me to introduce a skeptical take on this. Phil Plait of “Bad Astronomy” suspects that the spectral signature of water found by the NASA study is best explained by
from the desk of Bob Siederer

Hello again Science fans!

Before we get into the science stuff for this week, a little housekeeping.  We have received occasional feedback that the SciSchmooze appears in a few subscribers' email in a very small font.  We use a default font size (13 pt), but it seems various email processors think they know better and mess around with sizes.  Before mailing this out each week, we test-send the Schmooze to ourselves, and it always looks fine, although my phone does ignore the default font size we use. So this week I'm attempting to get around all that by sending the Schmooze in a larger font (it isn't as easy it it might seem).  Let's see if that is better.

For the first time in 19 years, a blue moon will fall on Halloween.  You all know the saying "once in a blue moon" which describes the fact that having two full moons in a month is fairly rare.  The last time Halloween and a blue moon coincided was in 2001.  Before that...1955!  There will be six in the 21st century, and two of them have already happened (including the upcoming one).  Rare indeed!

There's lots more news in astronomy/cosmology.  Last month I mentioned that Osiris-Rex was about to attempt to obtain samples from the asteroid Bennu. 
from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Reader of the Science Persuasion!

As I understand it…  Throughout history and prehistory, humans would observe something and try to understand it.  I think it is our nature to try and understand.  Early on there was little information to help understand what they were observing or experiencing.  This might be the reason there have been or are so many gods.  Over the years more things were observed and humans began to establish an understanding of what was real and what was supernatural.  They even tried to understand more about what real things, like progressing from the original four elements of
from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Science Acceptors, 

It seems like a bit of a break has been happening in the smoke from so many fires throughout the west.  The respite we have had has been welcome by everyone I have talked to.  They aren't over and there will probably be more houses, memories, and even lives lost.  I have a bit of experience in fighting fires like this but I'm not going to claim expertise or experience in what has been going on or what is coming.  I have to admit that I find it a bit humorous to see people involved announcing that they have never seen anything so big, powerful, or destructive.  Of course they haven't, that's why it is so staggering to experience it or view it from afar! 

It seems that most scientists and media are willing to proclaim that climate change is responsible for the magnitu

The SciSchmooze and the Powers That Be

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Welcome aboard, dear reader,
Chewbacca, our 2-year-old rescue cat, died this last month of a coronavirus infection - not COVID-19, but Feline Infectious Peritonitis, FIP. The feline coronavirus is called - logically enough - FCoV. Roughly half of all house cats have been infected with FCoV, but less than 5% show symptoms. Once a cat shows symptoms, however, the power of the disease almost always kills with pathologies eerily similar to COVID-19. In view of this, it’s not surprising that cats can become infected with the human SARS-CoV-2 virus without getting sick and then shed the virus with the power to infect others. Two experimental drugs - GC376 & GC442534 - have been developed to cure cats of FIP. Results have been very positive: GC376 reduced mortality in sick cats to 25% and GC442534 reduced mortality to zero. Now, a test tube study has shown that

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