Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

SciSchmooze en los tiempos del COVID

Crescent Earth

Fewer and fewer Americans are lining up to get COVID-19 shots while only 31% of our population has been fully vaccinated. Public Service Announcements are pushing for more people to get vaccinated, e.g. Barack Hussein Obama, Stewie from Family Guy, and Google. Aware that a large proportion of Republicans are hesitant, there is even a PSA by and for Republicans. Pfizer (i got my Fauci ouchy from Pfizer) is working on a protease inhibitor pill for treating COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, our country is responding to the changing COVID-19 situation in India.

Injury to the brain can result in myriad different symptoms – sensory abnormalities, psychological problems, intellectual and memory deficiencies, balance issues, headaches, etc. Infection with the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) can result in all of the above, most likely because it frequently damages blood vessels in the brain.

Zubin Damania, MD a.k.a. ZDoggMD responded this week to the latest anti-vaxx wrinkle which is just one more example of what the World Health Organization calls an infodemic. Another doctor, Sara Bajuyo, MD, wrote an optimistic view, “How to Stop Anti-Science.” If you would like to try your hand at differentiating fake news from real, go to News Evaluator. Hint: consult and other fact-checking websites as you take the quiz.

I like Randall Munroe’s comments on the future of mask-wearing.

My (livestream) picks of the week:

Meanwhile on Mars, as many suspected, the little ‘copter will not be abandoned. Ingenuity has been assigned a ‘new’ mission – actually considered from the beginning. Perseverance and Ingenuity will venture together across Mars’ bleak landscape evoking visions of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. By the way, if you would like a plastic Hot Wheels Perseverance model (scale = 1/67), i have one that will go to the first person responding to this offer.

Staying with the theme of space exploration, the New Horizons space probe, which intercepted Pluto on Bastille Day in 2015, is now 50 times farther from the sun than we are. It now takes seven hours for a radio signal from Earth to reach it. If we shrunk distances so that the Sun were no larger than a golf ball, Neptune would be 1.3 km away (0.8 mile) and New Horizons would be 2.15 km (1.33 mile) distant. That hardly compares with the 4.2 years for a radio signal to reach Proxima Centauri, the nearest star (other than our own Sun). ¿How far is 4.2 light-years? Imagine holding the golf ball ‘Sun’ in your hand in the SF Bay Area. The next nearest ‘golf ball’ – Proxima Centauri – would be on the Cedar Hill Golf Course in Victoria, British Columbia, 1,200 km away (746 miles).

More space news: astronomers discovered the closest ever black hole, ‘only’ 1,500 light years away. In our ‘Sun = golf ball scale,’ that’s 428,571 km (266,302 miles). Just leave your golf ball here, travel down to Ecuador, and travel around the Equator ten times where you will find a very tiny speck of a black hole. Nothing to lose sleep over.

Oops! Even more space news. Early Sunday, four scientists from the International Space Station safely landed in the ocean off the coast of Florida. (Hmmm. ¿What’s it like to go from zero g to bobbing about in the ocean?)

Be safe – and with respect to vaccinations, no one is safe until everyone is safe,

Dave Almandsmith
Bay Area Skeptics board member

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.”
― George Washington Carver

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