Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Perusing the Universe with the SciSchmooze

Bob Siederer
OCT 23
Mosaic of 42 galaxies from the Siena Galaxy Atlas (Credit:CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA/J. Moustakas)

Hello again, Fans of Science!

There are lots of things around us that we take for granted, yet are scientific marvels. Take, for instance, glass. We look through it. It shelters us from the elements in windows. We drink from vessels made from it. But what is it, really? Is it a solid? Liquid? The answer to both may be yes, as glass is a bit of a scientific mystery! This article will get you thinking!

COVID-19 is still around. If you’re like most people, you’ve forgotten about COVID. The constant parade of articles, the people you know who had it recently, and all that noise has mostly disappeared. But COVID hasn’t. While there was an increase in cases in the later part of the summer, things seem to be calming down again. If you are one of those people who contracted long COVID, then it certainly hasn’t gone far from your thoughts. While long COVID has remained a bit of a mystery, there’s new science research on the cause, and possible treatment for it. Hint: It involves the popular anti-depresent Prozac!

Looking to impress your friends at parties this holiday season? Here are 71 random fun scientific facts that you can use at parties. Don’t be surprised if these leave you isolated in a corner of the room though! And again, be thankful you aren’t a giraffe (see #2).

Here’s another female scientist you probably never heard of, but should know. Evelyn Fox Keller died late last month. Her efforts helped to broaden the focus of scientific inquiry to be more gender-inclusive.

March 26 marks the date of Jonas Salk’s announcement of the development of a vaccine against polio. Today, polio is almost forgotten, and for good reason, as the vaccine, and subsequent development of the oral vaccine years later, removed the fear from parents’ hearts. Those of you of a certain age may remember how concerned your parents were about you contracting this disease. I mention this because the Center for Inquiry (CFI) is proposing March 26 as National Science Appreciation Day, and they need your help. Sign the petition to designate this day and CFI will see that the petition results are delivered to all 50 states governors.

Artificial Inteligence (AI) is everywhere. You can’t read or listen to the news without the term AI appearing these days. That’s especially true here in Silicon Valley. While some of this news is about the negative side of AI (driverless car problems in San Francisco?), and the need for legislation to control it, there is also some really good stuff going on, especially in the medical field.

AI is assisting surgeons in the early stages of long surgeries for brain tumors by diagnosing the tumors and suggesting appropriate next steps during the surgery.

AI may also greatly change the interaction between you and your doctors in the near future, giving you, the patient, more power and control over your medical health. Here’s the state of the art, and a look at what’s coming.

Moving on to space, there’s good news for the local economy. UC Berkeley and NASA are joining forces to launch the Silicon Valley Space Center, a 26 acre research park in Mountain View at Moffett Field.

There’s a new, huge comet speeding towards the sun, and it is a strange one. For one thing, it is volcanic. And it has horns! It is the size of a small city.

The Siena Galaxy Atlas, a digital atlas of results from three astronomical surveys, contains information on nearly 400,000 galaxies in the general neighborhood of our Milky Way. The Universe is a pretty amazing, crowded place! Like much of the data about space, and objects it it, you can look at the results directly. Happy perusing!

Have a great week in Science!


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