COVID Vaccines not being tested to work, CBD a COVID Lung Saver?, Shoes thee COVID carrier and Data.

This week we review disturbing vaccine study requirements, CBD an incredible gem if possibly protecting the lungs and restoring oxygen levels, and a strong correlation as to shoes being an unrecognized major disease vector. In addition to looking at COVID data correlations to which countries are locking down in response Sars-COV-2 to those which have not or have done little. #covidvaccine #covidvector #covidnews Data Sources API for DataFrames: The COVID Tracking Project Our wold in Data (Oxford) Links:

Aging Breakthrough? GlyNac research into PWH, Premature Aging

Democracy: Millennials are the most disillusioned generation ‘in living memory’ – global study

Young people’s faith in democratic politics is lower than any other age group, and millennials across the world are more disillusioned with democracy than Generation X or baby boomers were at the same stage of life.

This is according to a report from the Centre for the Future of Democracy at the University of Cambridge, which finds that in almost every global region it is among 18-34 year olds that satisfaction with democracy is in steepest decline.

Researchers also found that young people are most positive about democracy under populist leaders of both left and right, and millennials in advanced democracies are more likely to view political opponents as morally flawed.

The findings come from the largest-ever global dataset of democratic legitimacy. Cambridge researchers collaborated with the HUMAN Surveys Project to combine data from close to five million respondents in over 160 countries between 1973 and 2020 who were asked about their degree of satisfaction with democracy in their country.

“This is the first generation in living memory to have a global majority who are dissatisfied with the way democracy works while in their twenties and thirties,” said Dr Roberto Foa, lead author of the report from Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies.

“By their mid-thirties, 55% of global millennials say they are dissatisfied with democracy, whereas under half of Generation X felt the same way at that age. The majority of baby boomers – now in their sixties and seventies – continue to report satisfaction with democracy, as did the interwar generation.”

In the UK of 1973, for example, 54% of 30-year-olds from the interwar generation reported satisfaction with British democracy. An even larger majority of UK baby boomers (57%) felt satisfied on turning 30 a decade later, and for 30-year-old Gen Xers in the 1990s and 2000s it reached 62%.

However, among UK millennials who turned 30 during the past decade, less than half (48%) felt satisfied with democracy on reaching that birthday.

Globally, as the first millennials began university at the turn of the century, satisfaction with democracy was higher than in their parents’ generation. It fell sharply following the financial crisis of 2008, with millennials losing faith harder and faster than older generations.

Foa points to the United States: almost two-thirds (63%) of US millennials were satisfied with American democracy in their early 20s, but by their mid-30s it had fallen to just a half (50%). Whereas three-quarters (74%) of US baby boomers were satisfied with democracy by their mid-30s and over two-thirds (68%) have remained so throughout their lives.

In fact, the idea that young malcontents soften in attitude as they age is now reversed the world over. Millennials and Gen Xers have grown steadily less satisfied with democracy as they have advanced in life.

Researchers argue that, in developed democracies, the biggest contributor to this trend is “economic exclusion” caused by high youth unemployment and wealth inequality: the strongest predictors of the satisfaction age gap.

Nations where wealth distribution is relatively flat, such as Iceland or Austria, see only minor generation gaps in attitudes to democracy, while those with persistent wealth inequality – such as the US – have large and growing divides.

“Higher debt burdens, lower odds of owning a home, greater challenges in starting a family, and reliance upon inherited wealth rather than hard work and talent to succeed are all contributors to youth discontent,” said Foa.

In the emerging democracies of Latin America, Africa and southern Europe, the team find “transition fatigue”: marked drops in satisfaction after 25 years of democracy, as generations come of age who lack the memory of previous dictatorships and fights for political freedom.

“Right across the world, we are seeing an ever widening gap between youth and older generations on how they perceive the functioning of democracy,” said Foa.

“This democratic disconnect is not a given, but the result of democracies failing to deliver outcomes that matter for young people in recent decades, from jobs and life chances to addressing inequality and climate change.”

While signs of millennial positivity towards democracy include an uptick in new EU member states, the most significant increase came from the “populist wave” of the last five years.

An average 16 percentage-point increase in satisfaction with democracy was detected among voters under 35 during the first two years of populist leaders. No comparable swell was seen when moderate politicians narrowly beat populists.

Whether the rise of leftwing Syriza and Podemos in Greece and Spain, or the populist right of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Poland’s Law and Justice party, all boosted pro-democracy attitudes among millennials, as did political realignment in countries from Brazil and Mexico to the Czech Republic.

“Countries electing populist leaders see sharp turnarounds in disenchantment, to the point where young people appear more satisfied with democracy under populists than under moderates,” said Daniella Wenger, one of the millennial team who co-authored the report.

Populism feeds on division, and the report shows that many millennials in today’s developed democracies see those on opposing sides of the political divide as morally flawed – a more “Manichaean” worldview, according to researchers.

In western democracies, 41% of millennials agree that you can “tell if a person is good or bad if you know their politics”, compared with 30% of voters over the age of 35. Very few elderly respondents hold this view in stable democracies such as Germany and Sweden. “This is not just an effect of individual life cycles, as we do not find these age gaps in emerging democracies,” said Foa.

“The prevalence of polarising attitudes among millennials may mean advanced democracies remain fertile ground for populist politics.”

“The populist challenge must shock moderate parties and leaders into action beyond cosmetic rebrands. If it does so, populism may still prompt democracy’s rebirth, rather than the onset of its gradual decay,” he said.

Source: Democracy: Millennials are the most disillusioned generation ‘in living memory’ – global study

Only 7% of US school districts in poorer, ethnic minority populations to reopen this fall

US schools in poor districts with large non-white student populations are less likely to reopen fully this academic year, according to a major new study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of School Choice.

The data suggests race and deprivation are significant factors influencing education decisions during the pandemic. The findings are based on an analysis during August of back-to-the-classroom plans from every US state and 120 of the largest school districts.

Just 13% of the most disadvantaged education areas intend to offer face-to-face lessons this fall. The picture is similar for those serving a high number of non-white students, with fewer than one in ten (7%) reopening campuses.

The figures compare with more than two-thirds overall of the largest school districts who intend to restrict options to remote learning. This is in the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

The authors say possible explanations include the disproportionate impact the virus has had on people of color. People of color are also more likely to be frontline workers and “place less trust in the government’s response to the pandemic.”

However, the pandemic is resulting in more learning choices for the majority of children which may or may not transform the public school system, according to the study.

“The disruption caused by the pandemic represents a crossroads for public education in the United States,” says lead author David Marshall, from Auburn University.

“Parents may emerge from this moment more empowered than before and be ready to take greater responsibility over their children’s education.

“Or they may find themselves weary of the stress caused by the pandemic and ready for a return to what they were accustomed to prior to this disruption.”

Their snapshot of reopening guidance from policymakers also provides evidence that:


  • Nearly all states have strongly recommended mask-wearing or made this mandatory, some for children as young as two. 


  • However, students are allowed mask ‘breaks’ when social distancing such as outdoors or in ventilated rooms. 


  • Policies vary widely over school sports, with some states postponing football until the spring and switching to lower risk activities. The 19 states proceeding with high school American football seasons are more likely to have backed Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. This is compared with those that have cancelled because of COVID-19. 


  • Among the 18 states with case rates under 10/10,000 (as of 21st August), almost half of them were not playing American football. 


  • Students most at risk from COVID-19 are being offered alternative ways of learning by almost every state. This even applies in districts where children are being sent back to classrooms. Several states are also providing vulnerable staff with options such as remote learning. 


  • Policies on teaching methods vary, with some states switching to remote learning if transmission rates spike. Others say that in-person learning remains the goal and digital alternatives are no replacement.


The academic team are now calling for further research in several areas, including how students fare academically under the various modalities employed, and whether these academic outcomes – or mental, physical, and social health outcomes – vary according to racial and demographic characteristics.

Limitations, the authors state, of this current research include that the reopening of America’s schools in the fall of 2020 is a “very fluid event”.

“It is highly possible that districts that made one decision as of August 21, 2020 will choose differently before the school year begins, or that individual states’ plans will have shifted since our review,” they add.

Source: Only 7% of US school districts in poorer, ethnic minority populations to reopen this fall

Forty percent of renters can’t afford essentials as a result of COVID-19

  • 40% of tenant households across Australia indicated that after paying rent there was not enough money left over to buy essentials due to COVID lockdowns
  • One third of renters surveyed were ignored or unable to negotiate a rent reduction with their landlord
  • 5% of renters were issued with an eviction notice during the pandemic
  • Around half of survey respondents indicated that their mental health had been negatively affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Almost 40% of Australian tenant households can’t afford essentials such as bills, clothing, transport and food, after paying rent, because their incomes have reduced significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has found.

The research, ‘Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts’, led by the University of Adelaide surveyed 15,000 public and private renting households across all Australian states and territories during July and August 2020.

The research identified challenges for the rental sector and brings insights into how the rental market is performing, the uptake of existing support measures and the demand for future assistance.

According to the research, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Australian tenant households earning less than $90,000 per year had higher rates of reduced working hours (up to 26% of households), temporary job loss (up to 16%) or reduction to overall income (up to 11%) when compared to higher income households.

One in six respondents reported that they had accessed government income assistance, such as JobKeeper or JobSeeker, for the first time, with low-to-moderate income households having a higher need for assistance.

Around half of survey respondents indicated that their mental health had been negatively affected by COVID-19 lockdowns and just over 10% reported that this had been significant.

‘COVID-19 has been devastating for many Australians but those in the rental sector have been particularly impacted,’ says project leader Professor Emma Baker, University of Adelaide Professor of Housing Research.

‘The pandemic, and the subsequent economic and social lockdown, has rapidly changed our housing system: the way we use our homes, our ability to afford them, and the role of government safety nets. The pandemic has placed many people in the rental market at risk; they face uncertainty, tenure insecurity, financial hardship and significant mental health effects.’

In examining the stability of tenancies during the pandemic, researchers found that just over 5% of respondents had been issued with an eviction notice during the pandemic. Even though some of those tenants benefitted from state and territory eviction protections, just over half of households issued with eviction notices went on to be evicted.

In addition, 16% of tenant households surveyed had requested a rent alteration (either a deferral or reduction) as a result of COVID-19-related hardship, and of those households, 30% said that the landlord would not negotiate or did not respond to their request.

The report also found there is considerable uncertainty about the need for government income support into the future. When households were asked if they think they will need financial assistance in the coming 12 months, 28% responded that they would, 31% said they did not know and 40% said that they would not.

‘Many renters are currently buffered from the full economic effects of the pandemic by their savings, their superannuation and rent deferment, as well as a temporary government supports in the form of eviction moratoriums, JobKeeper and JobSeeker,’ says Professor Baker.

‘With the on-going health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still evolving, if these savings and superannuation buffers eventually run out, renters will be entirely dependent on packages of government support. In the absence of an effective and accessible vaccine, it is likely that the situation for renters captured in this mid-2020 snapshot will be different–and almost certainly worse–by mid-2021.’

Source: Forty percent of renters can’t afford essentials as a result of COVID-19

COVID19 Analytics – Mask Trash and Shoes a Major Spreader, Newsom & Fauci Being Odd, Florida Wins

Our weekly review of the current COVID data and country comparisons as well as other oddities such as Mask Litter, Trash Cans, and Shoes being unintended spreaders. All this under the guise of Amateur Python Analytics. Brief CSV File Request Code below (Pandas). That will allow you to pull Oxford University Data up to the current date. Enjoy 😉

This is a long one, next week I will make it A LOT shorter.

#covid19 #sarscov2 #data

Code Snippet:
import pandas as pd
import csv
import requests
younameit = pd.read_csv(‘’)

Candidates who lie more likely to win elections – new study

The public may have grown tired of candidates who say one thing on the election trail then do another when in office, but a new study suggests truthful candidates might be less likely to make it through to elected office.

Drawing on findings from a lab-based election experiment involving 308 people, research from economists at the University of Bath (UK) and University of Konstanz (Germany) highlights how even though voters indicate trust and legitimacy are important factors in deciding on how to cast their votes, candidates who progress in politics are those most prepared to renege on electoral promises.

In their study, the economists designed a game-theory experiment to test the importance of trustworthiness and to see how individuals react when faced with various different election scenarios. Their two-stage election process first involved individuals vying against each other to win their party’s candidacy (similar to US primaries).

They then asked ‘candidates’ in the experiment how much they would invest (on a scale of 100) as a measure of how eager they were to gain selection in terms of money, time or effort they would put in to get through the selection phase. Those who invested the most had the highest probability of getting through to round two.

If selected to stand for office, candidates next had to choose how much money they would promise to voters in an election, attempting to win over an undecided public. This could reflect campaign promises on tax and spending, for example. Finally, if elected, politicians had to decide how to actually make decisions outside the election race, choosing how much they would transfer to voters or whether to renege on promises.

Their findings highlight that those most likely to make it through the selection process because of their high investments in the first stage were those who reneged on their promises most when elected into office. In other words, those who had been most eager to be selected were also those most likely to deviate from what they had promised.

Lead researcher from the University of Bath’s Department of Economics Dr Maik Schneider explains: “Our study highlights why it may not be too surprising to find candidates on the campaign trail who lie. This should concern us all given the low levels of trust in politics.

“There is a clear paradox here in terms of an electorate which says what’s missing in politics is greater trust, yet results which indicate that candidates who lie more, somehow still have a higher chance of gaining office.

“From a game theory perspective the reason why this is the case is clear, but these results should serve as a reminder about the importance of challenging untruths among candidates and, more broadly, increasing and improving transparency in the system.”

The researchers stress that it is also the case that honest individuals invest time and resources to making it into office, however from these results they were unable to cut through in the same number as their more dishonest rivals.

The team behind the study suggest to improve trust, much more robust fact-checking, transparency around campaign finances and public scrutiny of campaign promises would help. They also argue that schemes to reduce the incentive for dishonesty could include new mechanisms to make campaign promises binding. In the study, when the first stage of the election process was transparent, they found the correlation between ‘lie size’ when in office and how eager a candidate had been to be selected disappeared.

The new research from Dr Schneider and colleagues, ‘Honesty and Self-Selection into Cheap Talk’ is published in the Economic Journal.

It builds on earlier work from the same team titled ‘Honesty and Self-Selection into Politics’.

Source: Candidates who lie more likely to win elections – new study

Media trust correlated with COVID-19 prevention behaviors

Whether someone wears a mask, practices physical distancing or performs other behaviors to prevent COVID-19 infection may be linked to what media outlets they trust.

In 2020, individuals’ behavior in response to the pandemic has closely correlated with the kinds of mass media outlets they trust, according to a study authored by USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology PhD students Erfei Zhao and Qiao Wu. The article was co-authored by University Professor Eileen Crimmins, holder of the AARP Chair in Gerontology, and Associate Professor of Gerontology and Sociology Jennifer Ailshire and appeared online in the journal BMJ Global Health on October 8, 2020.

Zhao, Wu and colleagues analyzed response data from the Understanding America Study’s COVID-19 panel on how often more than 4800 participants performed five virus-mitigating behaviors during the coronavirus pandemic: (1) wearing a face mask, (2) washing hands with soap or using hand sanitizer several times per day, (3) canceling or postponing personal or social activities, (4) avoiding eating at restaurants, (5) and avoiding public spaces, gatherings or crowds. In addition, the team also looked at risky health behaviors, including going out to a bar, club or other place where people gather; going to another person’s residence; having outside visitors such as friends, neighbors or relatives at one’s home; attending a gathering with more than 10 people, such as a party, concert or religious service; or having close contact (within six feet) with someone who doesn’t live with the respondent.

Using CNN as an example of a left-leaning news source and Fox News as a news source on the right side of the political spectrum, the study identified the relative amount of trust participants reported in either news source with the risky or positive behaviors they engaged in. Around 29% of respondents said they trusted CNN more than Fox News; roughly half (52%) expressed no preference between the two, and one in five (20%) said they trusted Fox more than CNN.

Risky behaviors were highest among participants who reported more trust in Fox News with an average of 1.25 risky acts in a 7-day period, followed closely by those who reported trusting neither outlet, while CNN viewers reported an average of .94 risky behaviors during the same time period. Positive behaviors were more frequently reported among those who trusted CNN (an average of 3.85 preventive actions in a 7-day window) more than those who trusted Fox News (3.41 positive behaviors on average).

The results imply that behavior sharply differs along media bias lines, indicating that partisan narratives are likely getting in the way of solid health messaging that encourages healthy behavior change.

“In such a highly partisan environment, false information can be easily disseminated. Health messaging, which is one of the few effective ways to slow down the spread of the virus in the absence of a vaccine, is being damaged by politically biased and economically focused narratives,” said Zhao and Wu.

Source: Media trust correlated with COVID-19 prevention behaviors

Vitamin D may be more effective than masks and distancing combined for COVID ?

Vitamin D may be more effective than masks and distancing combined for COVID ?

In patients older than 40 years they observed that those patients who were vitamin D sufficient were 51.5 percent less likely to die from the infection compared to patients who were vitamin D deficient or insufficient with a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D less than 30 ng/mL.

Holick, who most recently published a study which found that a sufficient amount of vitamin D can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus by 54 percent, believes that being vitamin D sufficient helps to fight consequences from being infected not only with the corona virus but also other viruses causing upper respiratory tract illnesses including influenza. “There is great concern that the combination of an influenza infection and a coronal viral infection could substantially increase hospitalizations and death due to complications from these viral infections.”

#covid19 #sarscov2 #vitaminD

Kaufman HW, Niles JK, Kroll MH, Bi C, Holick MF (2020) SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates associated with circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. PLOS ONE 15(9): e0239252.

Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

Venus might not be a sweltering, waterless hellscape today, if Jupiter hadn’t altered its orbit around the sun, according to new UC Riverside research.

Jupiter has a mass that is two-and-a-half times that of all other planets in our solar system — combined. Because it is comparatively gigantic, it has the ability to disturb other planets’ orbits.

Early in Jupiter’s formation as a planet, it moved closer to and then away from the sun due to interactions with the disc from which planets form as well as the other giant planets. This movement in turn affected Venus.

Observations of other planetary systems have shown that similar giant planet migrations soon after formation may be a relatively common occurrence. These are among the findings of a new study published in the Planetary Science Journal.

Scientists consider planets lacking liquid water to be incapable of hosting life as we know it. Though Venus may have lost some water early on for other reasons, and may have continued to do so anyway, UCR astrobiologist Stephen Kane said that Jupiter’s movement likely triggered Venus onto a path toward its current, inhospitable state.

“One of the interesting things about the Venus of today is that its orbit is almost perfectly circular,” said Kane, who led the study. “With this project, I wanted to explore whether the orbit has always been circular and if not, what are the implications of that?”

To answer these questions, Kane created a model that simulated the solar system, calculating the location of all the planets at any one time and how they pull one another in different directions.

Scientists measure how noncircular a planet’s orbit is between 0, which is completely circular, and 1, which is not circular at all. The number between 0 and 1 is called the eccentricity of the orbit. An orbit with an eccentricity of 1 would not even complete an orbit around a star; it would simply launch into space, Kane said.

Currently, the orbit of Venus is measured at 0.006, which is the most circular of any planet in our solar system. However, Kane’s model shows that when Jupiter was likely closer to the sun about a billion years ago, Venus likely had an eccentricity of 0.3, and there is a much higher probability that it was habitable then.

“As Jupiter migrated, Venus would have gone through dramatic changes in climate, heating up then cooling off and increasingly losing its water into the atmosphere,” Kane said.

Recently, scientists generated much excitement by discovering a gas in the clouds above Venus that may indicate the presence of life. The gas, phosphine, is typically produced by microbes, and Kane says it is possible that the gas represents “the last surviving species on a planet that went through a dramatic change in its environment.”

For that to be the case, however, Kane notes the microbes would have had to sustain their presence in the sulfuric acid clouds above Venus for roughly a billion years since Venus last had surface liquid water — a difficult to imagine though not impossible scenario.

“There are probably a lot of other processes that could produce the gas that haven’t yet been explored,” Kane said.

Ultimately, Kane says it is important to understand what happened to Venus, a planet that was once likely habitable and now has surface temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I focus on the differences between Venus and Earth, and what went wrong for Venus, so we can gain insight into how the Earth is habitable, and what we can do to shepherd this planet as best we can,” Kane said.

Source: Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

COVID-19 pandemic has created flood of potentially substandard research

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a flood of potentially substandard research amid the rush to publish, with a string of papers retracted or under a cloud and a surge in submissions to pre-print servers where fewer quality checks are made, a leading ethicist has warned in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Source: COVID-19 pandemic has created flood of potentially substandard research

Turmeric supplement more effective than placebo for osteoarthritis knee pain

Turmeric supplement more effective than placebo for osteoarthritis knee pain

An extract of Curcuma longa (CL), commonly known as turmeric, was found to be more effective than placebo for reducing knee pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

#arthritis #pain #turmeric

Wang Z, Jones G, Winzenberg T, Cai G, Laslett LL, Aitken D, Hopper I, Singh A, Jones R, Fripp J, Ding C, Antony B. Effectiveness of Curcuma longa Extract for the Treatment of Symptoms and Effusion-Synovitis of Knee Osteoarthritis : A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Sep 15. doi: 10.7326/M20-0990. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32926799.

turmeric, curcumin longa, curcumin, osteoarthritis, knee pain, arthritis, pain effusion, synovitis, effusion synovitis

Pandemic Charting – Weaponizing Uncertainty – Countries Do better with a Light touch – Python Data

Young physicist ‘squares the numbers’ on time travel

Paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible, according to the mathematical modelling of a prodigious University of Queensland undergraduate student.

Fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) student Germain Tobar has been investigating the possibility of time travel, under the supervision of UQ physicist Dr Fabio Costa.

“Classical dynamics says if you know the state of a system at a particular time, this can tell us the entire history of the system,” Mr Tobar said.

“This has a wide range of applications, from allowing us to send rockets to other planets and modelling how fluids flow.

“For example, if I know the current position and velocity of an object falling under the force of gravity, I can calculate where it will be at any time.

“However, Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts the existence of time loops or time travel – where an event can be both in the past and future of itself – theoretically turning the study of dynamics on its head.”

Mr Tobar said a unified theory that could reconcile both traditional dynamics and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was the holy grail of physics.

“But the current science says both theories cannot both be true,” he said.

“As physicists, we want to understand the Universe’s most basic, underlying laws and for years I’ve puzzled on how the science of dynamics can square with Einstein’s predictions.

“I wondered: “is time travel mathematically possible?”

Mr Tobar and Dr Costa say they have found a way to “square the numbers” and Dr Costa said the calculations could have fascinating consequences for science.

“The maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction,” Dr Costa said.

“Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus.

“However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected – that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place.

“This is a paradox – an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe.

“Some physicists say it is possible, but logically it’s hard to accept because that would affect our freedom to make any arbitrary action.

“It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur.”

However the researchers say their work shows that neither of these conditions have to be the case, and it is possible for events to adjust themselves to be logically consistent with any action that the time traveller makes.

“In the coronavirus patient zero example, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would,” Mr Tobar said.

“No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you.

“This would mean that – no matter your actions – the pandemic would occur, giving your younger self the motivation to go back and stop it.

“Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency.

“The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox.”


The research is published in Classical and Quantum Gravity (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/aba4bc).

Source: Young physicist ‘squares the numbers’ on time travel

COVID-19 Made worse By Social Distancing?

We are led to question whether the recommended social distancing measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission could increase the number of other serious instabilities. The breaking of the contagion pathways reduces the sharing of microorganisms between people, thus favoring dysbiosis, which, in turn, may increase the poor prognosis of the disease. #covid #microbiome #dysbiosis Célia P. F. Domingues, João S. Rebelo, Francisco Dionisio, Ana Botelho, Teresa Nogueira. The Social Distancing Imposed To Contain COVID-19 Can Affect Our Microbiome: a Double-Edged Sword in Human Health. mSphere, 2020; 5 (5) DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00716-20

Lockdowns a Complete Failure compared to controls – Countries that did not? Python Analysis Part 2

Part 2 as promised. We compare cases and death per million from industrialized countries which did little to nothing to Great Britain and the United States. The Data extrapolated is from:…
#covid19 #lockdown #socialdistancing

(Volume is kind of Choppy midpoint)
Additional Code: From Part 1:
datasw = data.loc[data.iso_code==’SWE’, :]
datagb = data.loc[data.iso_code==’GBR’, :]
dataus = data.loc[data.iso_code==’USA’, :]
datasg = data.loc[data.iso_code==’SGP’, :]
datajp = data.loc[data.iso_code==’JPN’, :]
datako = data.loc[data.iso_code==’KOR’, :]
datatw = data.loc[data.iso_code==’TWN’, :]
dataall = [datagb,dataus,datasw,datasg,datajp,datako, datatw]
dataall = pd.concat(dataall)
dataall.datetime = pd.to_datetime(
dataall.set_index(‘date’, inplace=True)
fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(50,25))
dataall.groupby(‘iso_code’)[‘new_cases_smoothed_per_million’].plot(legend=True,fontsize = 20, linewidth=7.0)
ax.legend([‘Great Britain = Lockdown’,’Japan = No LD’, ‘South Korea = No LD’, ‘Singapore = LD JUNE -Migrant LD HIghest POP Density’, ‘Sweden = No LD’, ‘Taiwan = No LD’,’USA = Lockdown’],prop=dict(size=50))
comp = dataall.loc[‘2020-09-18’]
comp.set_index(“iso_code”, inplace=True)
comp= pd.DataFrame(comp[[‘total_cases_per_million’,’total_deaths_per_million’]])
plt.rc(‘legend’, fontsize=50), figsize=(20,20),fontsize=30)

Amid pandemic and protests, Americans know much more about their rights

In a period defined by an impeachment inquiry, a pandemic, nationwide protests over racial injustice, and a contentious presidential campaign, Americans’ knowledge of their First Amendment rights and their ability to name all three branches of the federal government have markedly increased, according to the 2020 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey.

Among the highlights of the annual survey, released before Constitution Day (Sept. 17):


  • Americans are much more aware of all five rights protected by the First Amendment when asked unprompted to name them;
  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) correctly named freedom of speech as one of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment, up from 48% in 2017;
  • More than half of those surveyed (51%) accurately named all three branches of the federal government, up from 39% last year, the prior high point in this survey.


The civics knowledge survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania was conducted among 1,009 U.S. adults from August 4-9, 2020, prior to the political conventions. It has a margin of error of ± 3.6%.

“Divided government, the impeachment process, and the number of times political leaders have turned to the courts probably deserve credit for increasing awareness of the three branches, while controversies over the right to peaceably assemble, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech may have done the same for the First Amendment,” said Annenberg Public Policy Center Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

Improved knowledge of First Amendment rights

Americans’ ability to name the five rights protected by the First Amendment has jumped since 2017, when we last asked this question. Their ability to specify some of them more than tripled. Asked to name any of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution:


  • 73% of Americans named freedom of speech, up from 48% in 2017;
  • 47% named freedom of religion, up from 15% in 2017;
  • 42% named freedom of the press, up from 14% in 2017;
  • 34% named right of assembly, up from 10%;
  • 14% named right to petition the government, up from 3%;
  • Those who could not name any First Amendment right fell to 19% from 37% in 2017 (total of “can’t name any” and “don’t know”).


This upturn in unprompted recall of First Amendment rights is consistent with increases seen in 2018 and 2019 surveys by the Freedom Forum. (See the Appendix.)

Over half can name the three branches

This year, an unusually high 51% of the U.S. adults surveyed could name the three branches of government – the executive branch (White House), the legislative branch (Congress) and the judicial branch (Supreme Court). That compares with 39% in the 2019 survey, which was the high point in 10 prior surveys, since 2006, when APPC asked this question. In addition:


  • 17% of respondents could name two branches of government, in line with our data since 2006, ranging from 12% to 18%;
  • 8% could name one branch of government, a large drop from 25% in 2019;
  • 23% could not name any branches, essentially unchanged from last year’s 22%.


How Supreme Court justices rule

The survey also asked Americans about the fairness and impartiality of the Supreme Court. Asked which is closer to their view of what guides Supreme Court justices in issuing rulings:


  • 56% of respondents agreed that Supreme Court justices set aside their personal and political views and make rulings based on the Constitution, the law, and the facts of the case – a significant increase from 49% in 2019;
  • By contrast, 37% said that Supreme Court justices nominated by Democratic presidents are more likely to make liberal rulings and that Supreme Court justices nominated by Republicans are more likely to make conservative rulings, regardless of the Constitution, the law, and the facts of the case – down slightly though not significantly from 41% in 2019.


“The actions of the court in the past year appear to have effectively signaled that the justices who cast the decisive votes were guided by the Constitution, laws, and facts of the case more so than by which political party would applaud the outcome,” Jamieson noted. “The public probably got that signal from the widely covered rulings that upheld the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the one written by Justice Gorsuch and supported by Chief Justice Roberts that held that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees from being discriminated against by employers because of sex.”

The balance of power

The survey asked if the president and the Supreme Court differed on whether an action by the president is constitutional, who would have the final responsibility for deciding whether it is constitutional:


  • Just half the respondents (51%) correctly said the Supreme Court, lower than the 61% in 2019. A growing minority (29%) said it was up to Congress to decide whether the president’s acts are constitutional, up from 21% in 2019, which may reflect overgeneralization about congressional authority in a period in which impeachment over alleged unconstitutional action clouded the meaning of the question.


When asked what it means when the Supreme Court rules 5-4 on a case:


  • Just over half of respondents (54%) correctly knew that the decision is the law and needs to be followed, down significantly from 59% in 2019;
  • 17% of respondents thought the decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration, up significantly from 12% in 2019;
  • 13% thought the decision is sent back to the federal court of appeals to be decided, up from 10%.


Finally, the survey also asked how much of a majority is required for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to override a presidential veto. Only 47% correctly said it takes a two-thirds majority to override a veto – the lowest percentage since 2007. There have been no efforts to override a veto in the past year.

Constitution Day and civics

The Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey was conducted for APPC by SSRS, an independent research company. For the question wording and other data, see the Appendix.

The Annenberg Civics Knowledge Survey is released by APPC for Constitution Day, which celebrates the signing of the Constitution in 1787. APPC’s activities to enhance civics education include Annenberg Classroom, which offers free classroom resources for teaching the Constitution, and the Civics Renewal Network (CRN), a coalition of over 30 nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations seeking to raise the visibility of civics education by providing free, high-quality resources for teachers.

Source: Amid pandemic and protests, Americans know much more about their rights

Possible marker of life spotted on venus

“When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’s spectrum, it was a shock!”, says team leader Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in the UK, who first spotted signs of phosphine in observations from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), operated by the East Asian Observatory, in Hawai’i. Confirming their discovery required using 45 antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, a more sensitive telescope in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner. Both facilities observed Venus at a wavelength of about 1 millimetre, much longer than the human eye can see — only telescopes at high altitude can detect it effectively.

The international team, which includes researchers from the UK, US and Japan, estimates that phosphine exists in Venus’s clouds at a small concentration, only about twenty molecules in every billion. Following their observations, they ran calculations to see whether these amounts could come from natural non-biological processes on the planet. Some ideas included sunlight, minerals blown upwards from the surface, volcanoes, or lightning, but none of these could make anywhere near enough of it. These non-biological sources were found to make at most one ten thousandth of the amount of phosphine that the telescopes saw.

To create the observed quantity of phosphine (which consists of hydrogen and phosphorus) on Venus, terrestrial organisms would only need to work at about 10% of their maximum productivity, according to the team. Earth bacteria are known to make phosphine: they take up phosphate from minerals or biological material, add hydrogen, and ultimately expel phosphine. Any organisms on Venus will probably be very different to their Earth cousins, but they too could be the source of phosphine in the atmosphere.

While the discovery of phosphine in Venus’s clouds came as a surprise, the researchers are confident in their detection. “To our great relief, the conditions were good at ALMA for follow-up observations while Venus was at a suitable angle to Earth. Processing the data was tricky, though, as ALMA isn’t usually looking for very subtle effects in very bright objects like Venus,” says team member Anita Richards of the UK ALMA Regional Centre and the University of Manchester. “In the end, we found that both observatories had seen the same thing — faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below,” adds Greaves, who led the study published today in Nature Astronomy.

Another team member, Clara Sousa Silva of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, has investigated phosphine as a “biosignature” gas of non-oxygen-using life on planets around other stars, because normal chemistry makes so little of it. She comments: “Finding phosphine on Venus was an unexpected bonus! The discovery raises many questions, such as how any organisms could survive. On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid in their environment — but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of acid.”

The team believes their discovery is significant because they can rule out many alternative ways to make phosphine, but they acknowledge that confirming the presence of “life” needs a lot more work. Although the high clouds of Venus have temperatures up to a pleasant 30 degrees Celsius, they are incredibly acidic — around 90% sulphuric acid — posing major issues for any microbes trying to survive there.

ESO astronomer and ALMA European Operations Manager Leonardo Testi, who did not participate in the new study, says: “The non-biological production of phosphine on Venus is excluded by our current understanding of phosphine chemistry in rocky planets’ atmospheres. Confirming the existence of life on Venus’s atmosphere would be a major breakthrough for astrobiology; thus, it is essential to follow-up on this exciting result with theoretical and observational studies to exclude the possibility that phosphine on rocky planets may also have a chemical origin different than on Earth.”

More observations of Venus and of rocky planets outside our Solar System, including with ESO’s forthcoming Extremely Large Telescope, may help gather clues on how phosphine can originate on them and contribute to the search for signs of life beyond Earth.

Source: Possible marker of life spotted on venus

Do-it-yourself COVID-19 vaccines fraught with public health problems

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Well-intentioned “citizen scientists” developing homemade COVID-19 vaccines may believe they’re inoculating themselves against the ongoing pandemic, but the practice of self-experimentation with do-it-yourself medical innovations is fraught with important legal, ethical and public health issues, according to a new paper in the journal Science co-written by a University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign legal expert who studies the policy implications of advanced biotechnologies.

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the globe, several citizen science groups outside the auspices of the pharmaceutical industry have been working to develop and self-test unproven medical interventions to combat COVID-19. Although some of the interest in a DIY approach stems from the idea that self-experimentation can’t be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other public health authorities, that belief is legally and factually incorrect, said Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois.

“Citizen science” broadly describes activities having a scientific aim that invite public participation. While citizen science is important and has a strong tradition in the U.S., “a homemade COVID-19 vaccine is perhaps more dangerous than people would like to believe,” Sherkow said.

“We’re all sympathetic to the notion that people want to inoculate themselves against the virus,” he said. “But people need to understand that every home remedy is not necessarily going to help, and some may very well be fatal.”

The interest in a do-it-yourself approach stems from a mistaken belief that self-experimentation wouldn’t be subject to laborious ethics board review or federal regulation. But that misunderstanding has potentially dire public health implications, said Sherkow, also an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

“People should be aware that just because they’re experimenting on themselves doesn’t make it legal without approval,” he said. “Some self-experimentation can qualify as human subjects research that is required to undergo ethics review, by law or institutional policy. Just because it’s self-experimentation doesn’t give you carte blanche.”

Similarly, simply publishing medical information on the internet is, generally speaking, not regulated by the FDA. But developing a possible therapeutic product using typical equipment, chemicals and reagents would likely be regulable by the FDA, Sherkow said.

“Taking information that you found in some dark corner of the internet but using it to develop your own materials and needing to ship materials or reagents across state lines – that is interstate commerce and is what triggers FDA oversight,” he said. “At that point, that’s essentially where the FDA can stop you.”

Homemade interventions exist in stark contrast to traditional paths to vaccine development, which require randomized controlled trials with well-defined endpoints, such as demonstrated immune responses, and protocols concerning the retention and use of data. Biohackers creating and self-administering unapproved and unproven medical interventions run the risk of not only endangering public health, but also undermining public trust in all vaccines, Sherkow said.

“We’re living in an age of vaccine disinformation,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why we have phased clinical trials for the development of vaccines and medical treatments. It’s not just a matter of figuring out whether something is effective or whether it works. It’s also a matter of figuring out the gross toxicity of the treatment, and if it’s been manufactured in such a way so that it’s not going to harm people.”

Characterizing or positioning research as self-experimentation does not eliminate risks to bystanders or the collective good.

Citizen scientists, especially those professional scientists moonlighting as homemade vaccine makers, “must take their heightened ethical responsibilities seriously when promoting DIY interventions or treatments, especially those with potentially serious public health and societal effects,” Sherkow said.

“Although many citizen scientists appear to take seriously the ethical responsibilities associated with their activities, it is important to recognize that those responsibilities expand when public health is at stake, such as with COVID-19 vaccine development,” he said. “But just because there’s a list of instructions on the internet created by a lot of well-respected and well-trained scientists doesn’t mean that something can’t go wrong.”

Source: Do-it-yourself COVID-19 vaccines fraught with public health problems

Momentum of unprecedented Chilean uprising stalled by COVID-19 pandemic

The uprising that erupted in fall 2019 in Chile against the post-dictatorship government may be diminished by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Despite a reputation for equitable development and robust democratic institutions, post-dictatorship Chile proved incapable of guaranteeing economic and social protections for vast swaths of the population and of adequately representing their needs and policy preferences, according to René Rojas, assistant professor of human development at Binghamton University. Over the last 10 years, stagnation, intensified insecurity and oligarchic politics promoted an upsurge in popular protests that finally erupted in October 2019, as a furious and seemingly uncontainable rebellion. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, may give the post-authoritarian regime a new lease on life, as it undermines possibilities for ongoing collective action and places the prospects for meaningful reform on hold.

“As the insurgency set about to resolve its differences and confront inevitable exhaustion, the arrival of the coronavirus and its recent surge have placed mobilizations on hold, threatening to restore the fragile balance of the pre-rebellion order,” wrote Rojas in a new paper in New Labor Forum. “In one swoop, the pandemic snatched from the movement its crucial weapon for securing concessions — its capacity for disruption.”

Fear of the virus and its economic consequences has stymied the uprising, and Chileans have redirected their energies toward holding on to work and whatever income they might secure. Whether the uprising can find its momentum again amidst the ongoing pandemic remains to be seen. Some developments indicate that as the pandemic reveals the inadequacy of official relief measures and re-exposes deep inequalities at the heart of the Chilean governing model, mass mobilization might retake center stage, wrote Rojas.

“The question in coming months will be whether Chile’s new mass movement can regroup and win the reforms it forced onto the national agenda or whether neoliberal elites will succeed in reviving the developed world’s least representative and most unequal political system,” said Rojas.

Source: Momentum of unprecedented Chilean uprising stalled by COVID-19 pandemic

Pandemic Over? COVID-19 World data Amateur Python Analysis

From an educational perspective, we review current COVID-19 data and arrive look at lockdowns and population density appears to have no numerical effect currently on COVID-19. In any case, this is more about exploring the code from a beginner’s standpoint with Python and DataFrames.
#covid19 #pandemicover #coviddata
CSV files found here:…
Code: (Had to remove the angle brackets)
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
from scipy import stats
import statsmodels.api as sm
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import pandas as pd
from scipy.stats import spearmanr
from scipy.stats import kendalltau
from scipy.stats import pearsonr
from scipy import stats
import seaborn as sns
import warnings
Claim Currently Invalid —Ralph Turchiano
data = pd.read_csv(‘owid-covid-data-19SEP2020.csv’)
pd.set_option(‘max_columns’, None)
data[‘date’] = pd.to_datetime(data[‘date’])
data_18SEP = data[data[‘date’]==’2020-09-18′]
data_ind = data_18SEP[data_18SEP[‘human_development_index’]=.8]
data_ind.drop([‘iso_code’,’continent’,’handwashing_facilities’,’stringency_index’,], axis=1, inplace=True)
data_ind[‘extreme_poverty’].fillna(0, inplace=True)
data_compare = pd.DataFrame([data.loc[37991],data.loc[41736]])
data_ind.drop([‘date’,’new_cases’,’new_deaths’,’total_tests’, ‘total_tests_per_thousand’,
‘new_tests_per_thousand’, ‘new_tests_smoothed’, ‘new_tests’,
‘new_tests_smoothed_per_thousand’, ‘tests_per_case’,’tests_units’,’new_deaths_per_million’,’positive_rate’ ], axis=1, inplace=True)
New =pd.DataFrame(data[[‘new_cases_smoothed_per_million’,’new_deaths_smoothed_per_million’]])
dataw = data.loc[data[‘iso_code’] == ‘OWID_WRL’]
dataw.datetime = pd.to_datetime(
dataw.set_index(‘date’, inplace=True)
data_cl = pd.DataFrame(dataw[[‘new_deaths_smoothed’,’new_cases_smoothed’]])

Vitamin D twice a day may keep vertigo away

Those in the intervention group who took the supplements had a lower recurrence rate for vertigo episodes after an average of one year than those in the observation group. People taking supplements had an average recurrence rate of 0.83 times per person-year, compared to 1.10 times per person-year for those in the observation group, or a 24% reduction in the annual recurrence rate.

#vertigo #bppv #vitamind

Seong-Hae Jeong, Ji-Soo Kim, Hyo-Jung Kim, Jeong-Yoon Choi, Ja-Won Koo, Kwang-Dong Choi, Ji-Yun Park, Seung-Han Lee, Seo-Young Choi, Sun-Young Oh, Tae-Ho Yang, Jae Han Park, Ileok Jung, Soyeon Ahn, Sooyeon Kim. Prevention of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo with Vit D Supplementation: A Randomized Trial. Neurology, 2020; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000010343

Vertigo, bppv, Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Vitamin d, dizziness, spinning, balance, 20 nanograms per milliliter, common, intervention, treatment

Hints of life on Venus

An international team of astronomers, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, today announced the discovery of a rare molecule – phosphine – in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially, or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.

Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes – floating free of the scorching surface, but still needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine molecules, which consist of hydrogen and phosphorus, could point to this extra-terrestrial ‘aerial’ life. The new discovery is described in a paper in Nature Astronomy.

The team first used the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii to detect the phosphine, and were then awarded time to follow up their discovery with 45 telescopes of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. Both facilities observed Venus at a wavelength of about 1 millimetre, much longer than the human eye can see – only telescopes at high altitude can detect this wavelength effectively.

Professor Greaves says, “This was an experiment made out of pure curiosity, really – taking advantage of JCMT’s powerful technology, and thinking about future instruments. I thought we’d just be able to rule out extreme scenarios, like the clouds being stuffed full of organisms. When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’ spectrum, it was a shock!”

Naturally cautious about the initial findings, Greaves and her team were delighted to get three hours of time with the more sensitive ALMA observatory. Bad weather added a frustrating delay, but after six months of data processing, the discovery was confirmed.

Team member Dr Anita Richards, of the UK ALMA Regional Centre and the University of Manchester, adds: “To our great relief, the conditions were good at ALMA for follow-up observations while Venus was at a suitable angle to Earth. Processing the data was tricky, though, as ALMA isn’t usually looking for very subtle effects in very bright objects like Venus.”

Greaves adds: “In the end, we found that both observatories had seen the same thing – faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below.”

Professor Hideo Sagawa of Kyoto Sangyo University then used his models for the Venusian atmosphere to interpret the data, finding that phosphine is present but scarce – only about twenty molecules in every billion.

The astronomers then ran calculations to see if the phosphine could come from natural processes on Venus. They caution that some information is lacking – in fact, the only other study of phosphorus on Venus came from one lander experiment, carried by the Soviet Vega 2 mission in 1985.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Dr William Bains led the work on assessing natural ways to make phosphine. Some ideas included sunlight, minerals blown upwards from the surface, volcanoes, or lightning, but none of these could make anywhere near enough of it. Natural sources were found to make at most one ten thousandth of the amount of phosphine that the telescopes saw.

To create the observed quantity of phosphine on Venus, terrestrial organisms would only need to work at about 10% of their maximum productivity, according to calculations by Dr Paul Rimmer of Cambridge University. Any microbes on Venus will likely be very different to their Earth cousins though, to survive in hyper-acidic conditions.

Earth bacteria can absorb phosphate minerals, add hydrogen, and ultimately expel phosphine gas. It costs them energy to do this, so why they do it is not clear. The phosphine could be just a waste product, but other scientists have suggested purposes like warding off rival bacteria.

Another MIT team-member, Dr Clara Sousa Silva, was also thinking about searching for phosphine as a ‘biosignature’ gas of non-oxygen-using life on planets around other stars, because normal chemistry makes so little of it.

She comments: “Finding phosphine on Venus was an unexpected bonus! The discovery raises many questions, such as how any organisms could survive. On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid in their environment – but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of acid.”

Other possible biosignatures in the Solar System may exist, like methane on Mars and water venting from the icy moons Europa and Enceladus. On Venus, it has been suggested that dark streaks where ultraviolet light is absorbed could come from colonies of microbes. The Akatsuki spacecraft, launched by the Japanese space agency JAXA, is currently mapping these dark streaks to understand more about this “unknown ultraviolet absorber”.

The team believes their discovery is significant because they can rule out many alternative ways to make phosphine, but they acknowledge that confirming the presence of “life” needs a lot more work. Although the high clouds of Venus have temperatures up to a pleasant 30 degrees centigrade, they are incredibly acidic – around 90% sulphuric acid – posing major issues for microbes to survive there. Professor Sara Seager and Dr Janusz Petkowski, also both at MIT, are investigating how microbes could shield themselves inside droplets.

The team are now eagerly awaiting more telescope time, for example to establish whether the phosphine is in a relatively temperate part of the clouds, and to look for other gases associated with life. New space missions could also travel to our neighbouring planet, and sample the clouds in situ to further search for signs of life.

Professor Emma Bunce, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, congratulated the team on their work:

“A key question in science is whether life exists beyond Earth, and the discovery by Professor Jane Greaves and her team is a key step forward in that quest. I’m particularly delighted to see UK scientists leading such an important breakthrough – something that makes a strong case for a return space mission to Venus.”

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“Venus has for decades captured the imagination of scientists and astronomers across the world.”

“This discovery is immensely exciting, helping us increase our understanding of the universe and even whether there could be life on Venus. I am incredibly proud that this fascinating detection was led by some of the UK’s leading scientists and engineers using state of the art facilities built on our own soil.”

Source: Hints of life on Venus

Terahertz receiver for 6G wireless communications

Future wireless networks of the 6th generation (6G) will consist of a multitude of small radio cells that need to be connected by broadband communication links. In this context, wireless transmission at THz frequencies represents a particularly attractive and flexible solution. Researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a novel concept for low-cost terahertz receivers that consist of a single diode in combination with a dedicated signal processing technique. In a proof-of-concept experiment, the team demonstrated transmission at a data rate of 115 Gbit/s and a carrier frequency of 0.3 THz over a distance of 110 meters. The results are reported in Nature Photonics (DOI: 10.1038/s41566-020-0675-0).

5G will be followed by 6G: The 6th generation of mobile communications promises even higher data rates, shorter latency, and strongly increased densities of terminal devices, while exploiting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to control devices or autonomous vehicles in the Internet-of-Things era. “To simultaneously serve as many users as possible and to transmit data at utmost speed, future wireless networks will consist of a large number of small radio cells,” explains Professor Christian Koos, who works on 6G technologies at KIT together with his colleague Professor Sebastian Randel. In these radio cells, distances are short such that high data rates can be transmitted with minimum energy consumption and low electromagnetic immission. The associated base stations will be compact and can easily be mounted to building facades or street lights.

To form a powerful and flexible network, these base stations need to be connected by high-speed wireless links that offer data rates of tens or even hundreds of gigabits per second (Gbit/s). This may be accomplished by terahertz carrier waves, which occupy the frequency range between microwaves and infrared light waves. However, terahertz receivers are still rather complex and expensive and often represent the bandwidht bottleneck of the entire link. In cooperation with Virginia Diodes (VDI) in Charlottesville, USA, researchers of KIT’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Electronics (IPQ), Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT), and Institute for Beam Physics and Technology (IBPT) have now demonstrated a particularly simple inexpensive receiver for terahertz signals. The concept is presented in Nature Photonics.

Highest Data Rate Demonstrated So Far for Wireless THz Communications over More Than 100 Meters

“At its core, the receiver consists a single diode, which rectifies the terahertz signal,” says Dr. Tobias Harter, who carried out the demonstration together with his colleague Christoph Füllner in the framework of his doctoral thesis. The diode is a so-called Schottky barrier diode, that offers large bandwidth and that is used as an envelope detector to recover the amplitude of the terahertz signal. Correct decoding of the data, however, additionally requires the time-dependent phase of the terahertz wave that is usually lost during rectification. To overcome this problem, researchers use digital signal processing techniques in combination with a special class of data signals, for which the phase can be reconstructed from the amplitude via the so-called Kramers-Kronig relations. The Kramers-Kronig relation describe a mathematical relationship between the real part and the imaginary part of an analytic signal. Using their receiver concept, the scientists achieved a transmission rate of 115 Gbit/s at a carrier frequency of 0.3 THz over a distance of 110 m. “This is the highest data rate so far demonstrated for wireless terahertz transmission over more than 100 m,” Füllner says. The terahertz receiver developed by KIT stands out due to its technical simplicity and lends itself to cost-efficient mass production.

Source: Terahertz receiver for 6G wireless communications

Study suggests unconscious learning underlies belief in God

WASHINGTON — Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University.

Their research, reported in the journal, Nature Communications, is the first to use implicit pattern learning to investigate religious belief. The study spanned two very different cultural and religious groups, one in the U.S. and one in Afghanistan.

The goal was to test whether implicit pattern learning is a basis of belief and, if so, whether that connection holds across different faiths and cultures. The researchers indeed found that implicit pattern learning appears to offer a key to understanding a variety of religions.

“Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions,” says the study’s senior investigator, Adam Green, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown, and director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition.

“This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods. Our hypothesis is that people whose brains are good at subconsciously discerning patterns in their environment may ascribe those patterns to the hand of a higher power,” he adds.

“A really interesting observation was what happened between childhood and adulthood,” explains Green. The data suggest that if children are unconsciously picking up on patterns in the environment, their belief is more likely to increase as they grow up, even if they are in a nonreligious household. Likewise, if they are not unconsciously picking up on patterns around them, their belief is more likely to decrease as they grow up, even in a religious household.

The study used a well-established cognitive test to measure implicit pattern learning. Participants watched as a sequence of dots appeared and disappeared on a computer screen. They pressed a button for each dot. The dots moved quickly, but some participants – the ones with the strongest implicit learning ability – began to subconsciously learn patterns hidden in the sequence, and even press the correct button for the next dot before that dot actually appeared. However, even the best implicit learners did not know that the dots formed patterns, showing that the learning was happening at an unconscious level.

The U.S. section of the study enrolled a predominantly Christian group of 199 participants from Washington, D.C. The Afghanistan section of the study enrolled a group of 149 Muslim participants in Kabul. The study’s lead author was Adam Weinberger, a postdoctoral researcher in Green’s lab at Georgetown and at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-authors Zachery Warren and Fathali Moghaddam led a team of local Afghan researchers who collected data in Kabul.

“The most interesting aspect of this study, for me, and also for the Afghan research team, was seeing patterns in cognitive processes and beliefs replicated across these two cultures,” says Warren. “Afghans and Americans may be more alike than different, at least in certain cognitive processes involved in religious belief and making meaning of the world around us. Irrespective of one’s faith, the findings suggest exciting insights into the nature of belief.”

“A brain that is more predisposed to implicit pattern learning may be more inclined to believe in a god no matter where in the world that brain happens to find itself, or in which religious context,” Green adds, though he cautions that further research is necessary.

“Optimistically,” Green concludes, “this evidence might provide some neuro-cognitive common ground at a basic human level between believers of disparate faiths.”

Source: Study suggests unconscious learning underlies belief in God

Humans, not climate, have driven rapidly rising mammal extinction rate

Human impact can explain ninety-six percent of all mammal species extinctions of the last hundred thousand years, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

Over the last 126,000 years, there has been a 1600-fold increase in mammal extinction rates, compared to natural levels of extinction. According to the new study, this increase is driven almost exclusively by human impact.

Human impact larger than the effects of climate

The study further shows that even prehistoric humans already had a significant destructive impact on biodiversity – one that was even more destructive than the largest climatic changes of Earth’s recent history, such as the last ice age.

“We find essentially no evidence for climate-driven extinctions during the past 126,000 years Instead, we find that human impact explains 96% of all mammal extinctions during that time”, asserts Daniele Silvestro, one of the researchers.

This is at odds with views of some scholars, who believe that strong climatic changes were the main driving force behind most pre-historic mammal extinctions. Rather, the new findings suggest that in the past mammal species were resilient, even to extreme fluctuations in climate.

“However, current climate change, together with fragmented habitats, poaching, and other human-related threats pose a large risk for many species”, says Daniele Silvestro.

Analyses based on large global data set

The researcher’s conclusions are based on a large data set of fossils. They compiled and analyzed data of 351 mammal species that have gone extinct since the beginning of the Late Pleistocene era. Among many others, these included iconic species such as mammoths, sabre tooth tigers, and giant ground sloths. Fossil data provided by the Zoological Society of London were an important contribution to the study.

“These extinctions did not happen continuously and at constant pace. Instead, bursts of extinctions are detected across different continents at times when humans first reached them. More recently, the magnitude of human driven extinctions has picked up the pace again, this time on a global scale”, says Tobias Andermann from the University of Gothenburg.

Extinction rates will increase further, if nothing is done

The current extinction rate of mammals is likely the largest extinction event since the end of the dinosaur era, according to the researchers. Using computer-based simulations they predict that these rates will continue to rise rapidly–possibly reaching up to 30,000-fold above the natural level by the year 2100. This is if current trends in human behavior and biodiversity loss continue.

“Despite these grim projections, the trend can still be changed. We can save hundreds if not thousands of species from extinction with more targeted and efficient conservation strategies. But in order to achieve this, we need to increase our collective awareness about the looming escalation of the biodiversity crisis, and take action in combatting this global emergency. Time is pressing. With every lost species, we irreversibly lose a unique portion of Earth’s natural history”, concludes Tobias Andermann.


The new research is presented in a study published in this week’s edition of Science Advances. The study was led by Tobias Andermann at the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre and the University of Gothenburg with a team of researchers from Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Source: Humans, not climate, have driven rapidly rising mammal extinction rate

Body cameras may have little effect on police and citizen behaviors

A recent analysis published in Campbell Systematic Reviews indicates that body cameras worn by police do not have clear or consistent effects on officers’ use of force, arrests, or other activities. Nor do they have significant effects on citizens’ calls to police or assaults or resistance against officers. Body-worn cameras can reduce the number of citizen complaints against police officers, but it is unclear whether this finding signals an improvement in the quality of police-citizen interactions or a change in reporting.

The analysis summarizes evidence from 30 studies on the effects of body-worn cameras on various officer and citizen behaviors.

“For the police agencies that have already purchased body-worn cameras, researchers should continue testing for ways in which both police and citizens might gain benefits from the cameras’ continued use,” said lead author Cynthia Lum, PhD, of George Mason University. “These could include limiting the discretion that officers have with body-worn camera use; using body-worn cameras for coaching, training, or evidentiary purposes; and finding ways that body-worn cameras can be used to strengthen police-citizen relationships, internal investigations, or accountability systems.”

Source: Body cameras may have little effect on police and citizen behaviors

Weak to No Correlation in Positive COVID-19 Test Increases and Hospitalization Increases

We use Data from covidtracking (Entire U.S. )to 12 SEP 2020 and run correlation models with a few various methods to see if any correlation exists between Positive COVId-19 test increases and Increases in Hospitalizations. Utilizing Kendal, we arrive at a .29 correlation (So no not really) Lockdowns have made virtually no statistical difference. #covid #correlationn #nolockdowns Code: (Part) if you need me to post more just let me know 😉 This is Python, JupyterLab _ These codes should help get you started. Remember you can also import into Excel and play with it on your own. import matplotlib.pyplot as plt import pandas as pd from scipy.stats import spearmanr from scipy.stats import kendalltau from scipy.stats import pearsonr from scipy import stats import statsmodels.api as sm import requests import time import seaborn as sns from IPython.display import clear_output response = requests.get(“…“) covid = response.content ccc = open(“daily.csv”,”wb”) ccc.write(covid) ccc.close() df = pd.read_csv(“daily.csv”) df= df[:-38] df = df.iloc[::-1] df1 = pd.DataFrame(df) df1 = df.reset_index(drop=True) df1.tail()

Honeybee Venom Induced 100% Cancer Cell Death in Lab studies

A specific concentration of honeybee venom can induce 100% cancer cell death, while having minimal effects on normal cells.

“We found that melittin can completely destroy cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes.”

#melittin #honeybeevenom #cancer

Ciara Duffy, Anabel Sorolla, Edina Wang, Emily Golden, Eleanor Woodward, Kathleen Davern, Diwei Ho, Elizabeth Johnstone, Kevin Pfleger, Andrew Redfern, K. Swaminathan Iyer, Boris Baer, Pilar Blancafort. Honeybee venom and melittin suppress growth factor receptor activation in HER2-enriched and triple-negative breast cancer. npj Precision Oncology, 2020; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41698-020-00129-0

Warning: Epidemics are often followed by unrest

If you have not been hearing much of the French Gilets Jaunes or of the Italian Sardines in the last few months, it’s because “the social and psychological unrest arising from the epidemic tends to crowd-out the conflicts of the pre-epidemic period, but, at the same time it constitutes the fertile ground on which global protest may return more aggressively once the epidemic is over,” writes Massimo Morelli, Professor of Political Science at Bocconi, in a paper recently published in Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy.

Professor Morelli and Roberto Censolo (University of Ferrara) argue that we can get an informed opinion about the possible effects of COVID-19 on protest and future social unrest by looking at the great plagues of the past, so they analyze 57 epidemic episodes between the Black Death (1346-1353) and the Spanish Flu (1919-1920). They state that while the epidemic lasts the status quo and incumbent governments tend to consolidate, but warn that a sharp increase in social instability in the aftermath of the epidemic should be expected.

Revolts not evidently connected with the disease are infrequent within an epidemic period, but epidemics can sow other seeds of conflict. Government conspiracy, “the filth of the poor”, foreigners and immigrants have often been singled out as the cause of an epidemic. “Overall, the historical evidence shows that the epidemics display a potential disarranging effect on civil society along three dimensions,” the authors write. “First, the policy measures tend to conflict with the interest of people, generating a dangerous friction between society and institutions. Second, to the extent that an epidemic impacts differently on society in terms of mortality and economic welfare, it may exacerbate inequality. Third, the psychological shock can induce irrational narratives on the causes and the spread of the disease, which may result in social or racial discrimination and even xenophobia.” Focusing on five cholera epidemics, Morelli and Censolo count 39 rebellions in the 10 years preceding an epidemic and 71 rebellions in the 10 years following it.

On the other hand, the authors note that, in the short-term, the necessary restrictions of freedom during an epidemic may be strategically exploited by governments to reinforce power.

Source: Warning: Epidemics are often followed by unrest

Common sunscreen ingredients prove dangerous for freshwater ecosystems

The results show that long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) filters–including avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene–is lethal for some organisms living in freshwater environments. One of the largest sources of UV-filter contamination in both marine and freshwater environments is from sunscreen leaching off of the skin while swimming.

Source: Common sunscreen ingredients prove dangerous for freshwater ecosystems

COVID-19 Tracking Data API and Data Anomalies (No Correlations? Cases to Hospitalizations Increases)

Is there a correlation between Positive cases and Hospitalizations? Below is the API for python access, open to all who desire to filter the data. I want to just give easy access to all the beginner students data scientists out there, such as myself..Explore and Discover: **My Apologies It says High Def, but does not look High Def on video here**

Code: import matplotlib.pyplot as plt import pandas as pd from scipy import stats import statsmodels.api as sm import requests import time from IPython.display import clear_output response = requests.get(“”) covid = response.content ccc = open(“daily.csv”,”wb”) ccc.write(covid) ccc.close() df = pd.read_csv(“daily.csv”, index_col = ‘date’) df.head() data = df[[‘positiveIncrease’,’hospitalizedIncrease’]] dataT = df[[‘positiveIncrease’,’hospitalizedIncrease’,’hospitalizedCurrently’]] dataD = df[[‘hospitalizedIncrease’,’deathIncrease’]] dataT.head(20) plt.figure(figsize=(20,10)) Y = data[‘positiveIncrease’] X = data[‘hospitalizedIncrease’] plt.scatter(X,Y) plt.ylabel(“Tested Positive Increase”) plt.xlabel(“Hospitalization Increase”) Y1 = sm.add_constant(Y) reg = sm.OLS(X, Y1).fit() reg.summary() data.plot(y=[‘hospitalizedIncrease’,’positiveIncrease’],xticks=data.index[0:len(data):30], rot=90, figsize=(20,10) ) for x in range(len(data)): plt.figure(figsize=(20,10)) plt.xticks( data.index.values[0:len(data):30], rotation = 90, fontsize=20 ) plt.plot(data.tail(x))

AKG may increase Lifespan and DRAMATICALLY Increase Healthy Years

AKG may increase Lifespan and DRAMATICALLY Increase Healthy Years

Noting that some of the mice did experience moderate lifespan extension (the average was around 12%), measures of healthspan increased more than 40 percent. Lithgow says the goal is always to compress the time of disease and frailty. “The nightmare scenario has always been life extension with no reduction in disability. In this study, the treated middle-aged mice got healthier over time. Even the mice that died early saw improvements in their health, which was really surprising and encouraging.”

Citation: Alpha-ketoglutarate, an endogenous metabolite, extends lifespan and compresses morbidity in aging mice DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet 2020.08.044

Lockdowns have economic and social costs for world’s poorest families

Low socioeconomic families – and particularly women – experienced increased financial hardship, food insecurity, domestic violence and mental health challenges during COVID-19 lockdown measures in Bangladesh, a new research study shows.

In the first study of its kind, Australian and Bangladeshi researchers documented the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures on the wellbeing of women and their families in rural Bangladesh. The study found that low socioeconomic families experienced a range of economic and mental health challenges during the two-month stay-at-home order, and women reported an increase in intimate partner violence.

The study, published today in The Lancet Global Health, suggests in the event of future public health lockdowns, the wellbeing of families – and particularly women – needs be actively addressed.

At a glance


  • Australian and Bangladeshi researchers, in the first study of its kind, joined forces to study the impact of lockdown measures in a rural community in Bangladesh. 
  • Lockdown measures enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused many families’ incomes to drop below the international poverty line. 
  • There was an increase in food insecurity, depression, anxiety and domestic violence during the lockdown period.


Devastating impacts of lockdown

Like many countries around the world, Bangladesh used stay-at-home (or lockdown) orders to limit the spread of COVID-19 in April and May 2020. Using an existing research network in Bangladesh, a collaborative team led by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research in Bangladesh was able to measure the impact of the lockdown on financial stability, food security, mental health and domestic violence in 2424 families in a rural Bangladesh community.

The impact of the lockdown on households was worrying, said Associate Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

“While the lockdown was an essential public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we were concerned about the problems it could pose for the families in our study,” Associate Professor Pasricha said.

“Comparing how families were faring before and during lockdown, we observed substantial financial and mental health pressures experienced during lockdown.”

The study revealed 96 per cent of families experienced a reduction in employment and 91 per considered themselves to be financially unstable.

“During the lockdown, almost half (47 per cent) of families saw their earnings drop below the international poverty line of US$1.90 per day,” Associate Professor Pasricha said.

“Seventy per cent experienced food insecurity, with one in six families running out of food, going hungry or missing meals.”

The lockdown also had mental health impacts, with women showing an increase in depression symptoms, and 68 per cent of participants reporting their anxiety level had increased. Concerningly, among the women who reported emotional, physical or sexual violence from their intimate partner, more than half reported violence had increased since lockdown.

Families need more support

Associate Professor Pasricha said the study indicated the lockdown had unintended yet devastating outcomes for the families.

“Stay-at-home orders lasting more than two months, in a rural South Asian setting, have inflicted an enormous economic and psychosocial burden on women and their families,” he said.

Associate Professor Pasricha said the results reflected similar studies that indicated the flow-on effect of stay-at-home orders to food security and nutrition would be experienced globally.

“The marked increase in severe food insecurity in our study population shows the impact of economic pressure on food access and supports modelling to suggest the pandemic could have a catastrophic effect on food security and consequently on nutrition worldwide.

“Our study, which is the first of its kind, highlights the need for wide-reaching welfare and other forms of financial support for families impacted by lockdown measures, not only for those on low incomes. Crucially, social support is needed to protect women’s safety and it is essential that domestic violence intervention services remain accessible during lockdown.

Bangladeshi Principal investigator, Dr Jena Hamadani, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh, said she hoped the research would help inform governments about the need for welfare support for people in rural communities in low and middle income countries during lockdowns.

“We hope our findings will be valuable for public health officials, and will inform and improve future public health measures, should lockdowns continue,” Dr Hamadani said.

Source: Lockdowns have economic and social costs for world’s poorest families

Bacteria could survive travel between Earth and Mars when forming aggregates

Imagine microscopic life-forms, such as bacteria, transported through space, and landing on another planet. The bacteria finding suitable conditions for its survival could then start multiplying again, sparking life at the other side of the universe. This theory, called “panspermia”, support the possibility that microbes may migrate between planets and distribute life in the universe. Long controversial, this theory implies that bacteria would survive the long journey in outer space, resisting to space vacuum, temperature fluctuations, and space radiations.

“The origin of life on Earth is the biggest mystery of human beings. Scientists can have totally different points of view on the matter. Some think that life is very rare and happened only once in the Universe, while others think that life can happen on every suitable planet. If panspermia is possible, life must exist much more often than we previously thought,” says Dr. Akihiko Yamagishi, a Professor at Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences and principal investigator of the space mission Tanpopo.

In 2018, Dr. Yamagishi and his team tested the presence of microbes in the atmosphere. Using an aircraft and scientific balloons, the researchers, found Deinococcal bacteria floating 12 km above the earth. But while Deinococcus are known to form large colonies (easily larger than one millimeter) and be resistant to environmental hazards like UV radiation, could they resist long enough in space to support the possibility of panspermia?

To answer this question, Dr. Yamagishi and the Tanpopo team, tested the survival of the radioresistant bacteria Deinococcus in space. The study, now published in Frontiers in Microbiology, shows that thick aggregates can provide sufficient protection for the survival of bacteria during several years in the harsh space environment.

Dr. Yamagishi and his team came to this conclusion by placing dried Deinococcus aggregates in exposure panels outside of the International Space Station (ISS). The samples of different thicknesses were exposed to space environment for one, two, or three years and then tested for their survival.

After three years, the researchers found that all aggregates superior to 0.5 mm partially survived to space conditions. Observations suggest that while the bacteria at the surface of the aggregate died, it created a protective layer for the bacteria beneath ensuring the survival of the colony. Using the survival data at one, two, and three years of exposure, the researchers estimated that a pellet thicker than 0.5 mm would have survived between 15 and 45 years on the ISS. The design of the experiment allowed the researcher to extrapolate and predict that a colony of 1 mm of diameter could potentially survive up to 8 years in outer space conditions.

“The results suggest that radioresistant Deinococcus could survive during the travel from Earth to Mars and vice versa, which is several months or years in the shortest orbit,” says Dr. Yamagishi.

This work provides, to date, the best estimate of bacterial survival in space. And, while previous experiments prove that bacteria could survive in space for a long period when benefitting from the shielding of rock (i.e. lithopanspermia), this is the first long-term space study raising the possibility that bacteria could survive in space in the form of aggregates, raising the new concept of “massapanspermia”. Yet, while we are one step closer to prove panspermia possible, the microbe transfer also depends on other processes such as ejection and landing, during which the survival of bacteria still needs to be assessed.

Source: Bacteria could survive travel between Earth and Mars when forming aggregates

Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

The practicality of quantum computing hangs on the integrity of the quantum bit, or qubit.

Qubits, the logic elements of quantum computers, are coherent two-level systems that represent quantum information. Each qubit has the strange ability to be in a quantum superposition, carrying aspects of both states simultaneously, enabling a quantum version of parallel computation. Quantum computers, if they can be scaled to accommodate many qubits on one processor, could be dizzyingly faster, and able to handle far more complex problems, than today’s conventional computers.

But that all depends on a qubit’s integrity, or how long it can operate before its superposition and the quantum information are lost — a process called decoherence, which ultimately limits the computer run-time. Superconducting qubits — a leading qubit modality today — have achieved exponential improvement in this key metric, from less than one nanosecond in 1999 to around 200 microseconds today for the best-performing devices.

But researchers at MIT, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found that a qubit’s performance will soon hit a wall. In a paper published in Nature, the team reports that the low-level, otherwise harmless background radiation that is emitted by trace elements in concrete walls and incoming cosmic rays are enough to cause decoherence in qubits. They found that this effect, if left unmitigated, will limit the performance of qubits to just a few milliseconds.

Given the rate at which scientists have been improving qubits, they may hit this radiation-induced wall in just a few years. To overcome this barrier, scientists will have to find ways to shield qubits — and any practical quantum computers — from low-level radiation, perhaps by building the computers underground or designing qubits that are tolerant to radiation’s effects.

“These decoherence mechanisms are like an onion, and we’ve been peeling back the layers for past 20 years, but there’s another layer that left unabated is going to limit us in a couple years, which is environmental radiation,” says William Oliver, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and Lincoln Laboratory Fellow at MIT. “This is an exciting result, because it motivates us to think of other ways to design qubits to get around this problem.”

The paper’s lead author is Antti Vepsäläinen, a postdoc in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics.

“It is fascinating how sensitive superconducting qubits are to the weak radiation. Understanding these effects in our devices can also be helpful in other applications such as superconducting sensors used in astronomy,” Vepsäläinen says.

Co-authors at MIT include Amir Karamlou, Akshunna Dogra, Francisca Vasconcelos, Simon Gustavsson, and physics professor Joseph Formaggio, along with David Kim, Alexander Melville, Bethany Niedzielski, and Jonilyn Yoder at Lincoln Laboratory, and John Orrell, Ben Loer, and Brent VanDevender of PNNL.

A cosmic effect

Superconducting qubits are electrical circuits made from superconducting materials. They comprise multitudes of paired electrons, known as Cooper pairs, that flow through the circuit without resistance and work together to maintain the qubit’s tenuous superposition state. If the circuit is heated or otherwise disrupted, electron pairs can split up into “quasiparticles,” causing decoherence in the qubit that limits its operation.

There are many sources of decoherence that could destabilize a qubit, such as fluctuating magnetic and electric fields, thermal energy, and even interference between qubits.

Scientists have long suspected that very low levels of radiation may have a similar destabilizing effect in qubits.

“I the last five years, the quality of superconducting qubits has become much better, and now we’re within a factor of 10 of where the effects of radiation are going to matter,” adds Kim, a technical staff member at MIT Lincoln Laboratotry.

So Oliver and Formaggio teamed up to see how they might nail down the effect of low-level environmental radiation on qubits. As a neutrino physicist, Formaggio has expertise in designing experiments that shield against the smallest sources of radiation, to be able to see neutrinos and other hard-to-detect particles.

“Calibration is key”

The team, working with collaborators at Lincoln Laboratory and PNNL, first had to design an experiment to calibrate the impact of known levels of radiation on superconducting qubit performance. To do this, they needed a known radioactive source — one which became less radioactive slowly enough to assess the impact at essentially constant radiation levels, yet quickly enough to assess a range of radiation levels within a few weeks, down to the level of background radiation.

The group chose to irradiate a foil of high purity copper. When exposed to a high flux of neutrons, copper produces copious amounts of copper-64, an unstable isotope with exactly the desired properties.

“Copper just absorbs neutrons like a sponge,” says Formaggio, who worked with operators at MIT’s Nuclear Reactor Laboratory to irradiate two small disks of copper for several minutes. They then placed one of the disks next to the superconducting qubits in a dilution refrigerator in Oliver’s lab on campus. At temperatures about 200 times colder than outer space, they measured the impact of the copper’s radioactivity on qubits’ coherence while the radioactivity decreased — down toward environmental background levels.

The radioactivity of the second disk was measured at room temperature as a gauge for the levels hitting the qubit. Through these measurements and related simulations, the team understood the relation between radiation levels and qubit performance, one that could be used to infer the effect of naturally occurring environmental radiation. Based on these measurements, the qubit coherence time would be limited to about 4 milliseconds.

“Not game over”

The team then removed the radioactive source and proceeded to demonstrate that shielding the qubits from the environmental radiation improves the coherence time. To do this, the researchers built a 2-ton wall of lead bricks that could be raised and lowered on a scissor lift, to either shield or expose the refrigerator to surrounding radiation.

“We built a little castle around this fridge,” Oliver says.

Every 10 minutes, and over several weeks, students in Oliver’s lab alternated pushing a button to either lift or lower the wall, as a detector measured the qubits’ integrity, or “relaxation rate,” a measure of how the environmental radiation impacts the qubit, with and without the shield. By comparing the two results, they effectively extracted the impact attributed to environmental radiation, confirming the 4 millisecond prediction and demonstrating that shielding improved qubit performance.

“Cosmic ray radiation is hard to get rid of,” Formaggio says. “It’s very penetrating, and goes right through everything like a jet stream. If you go underground, that gets less and less. It’s probably not necessary to build quantum computers deep underground, like neutrino experiments, but maybe deep basement facilities could probably get qubits operating at improved levels.”

Going underground isn’t the only option, and Oliver has ideas for how to design quantum computing devices that still work in the face of background radiation.

“If we want to build an industry, we’d likely prefer to mitigate the effects of radiation above ground,” Oliver says. “We can think about designing qubits in a way that makes them ‘rad-hard,’ and less sensitive to quasiparticles, or design traps for quasiparticles so that even if they’re constantly being generated by radiation, they can flow away from the qubit. So it’s definitely not game-over, it’s just the next layer of the onion we need to address.”

Source: Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

Russian scientists predicted increased unrest in the United States back in 2010

There has been a steady increase in protests in the United States and Great Britain since 2011, which, as Peter Turchin and other scientists suggest, is the result of a predictable 50-year cycle of socio-political dynamics that has culminated with a surge of violence. This cycle was identified by Russian experts in cliodynamics and structural-demographic theory. Back in 2010, they predicted the current course of events. And now they have been able to verify their mathematical models.

In 2010, the Russian-American scientist Peter Turchin used structural-demographic theory (SDT) to predict the dynamics of socio-political conditions in the United States and Western Europe until 2020. His model predicted that, over the next decade, political instability and an increase in social conflicts would occur in Western democracies. In a new article, Turchin, together with Andrey Korotayev, another leading specialist in SDT at HSE University, conducted a retrospective assessment of the forecasts made in 2010-2012 and confirmed the accuracy of the conclusions. The paper was published in PLoS ONE journal:

The following approach is applied: the postulated historical hypothesis is turned into a mathematical model. It is then calculated. A specific prediction is extracted from the model. This forecast is then tested on real historical events. Thus, mathematical models can be tweaked, fine-tuned and, as a result, provide fairly accurate predictive analytics.

Historians are helped by the theory of complex systems, originally developed by physicists to describe nonlinear, chaotic processes, which can be used for climate modelling and weather prediction, for example. The American sociologist and historian Jack Goldstone was the first scholar to apply a mathematical apparatus from the theory of complex systems to historical processes. He developed the structural-demographic theory (SDT), which made it possible to take into account the many forces interacting in society that put pressure on it and lead to riots, revolutions, and civil wars.

Using the SDT, Goldstone established that every major coup or revolution is preceded by a surge in fertility. As a result, the size of the population exceeds its economic possibilities for self-sufficiency. A crisis comes, the population’s standard of living the drops sharply, and unrest begins. At the same time, the state loses political flexibility and the elites split, with some of them siding with the protesters against the current system. A coup takes place, usually accompanied by an explosion of violence and a civil war.

Later, Goldstone’s ideas were picked up and developed by Russian scientists and scholars, including not only Peter Turchin but also Sergei Nefyodov, Leonid Grinin and HSE Professor Andrei Korotayev. They applied their developments to predict socio-historical dynamics in the United States and Great Britain, as well as other Western European countries.

Structural demographic theory consists of four main components:


  • the state (size, income, expenses, debts, the legitimacy of power, etc.); 
  • population (size, age structure, urbanization, wage level, social optimism, etc.); 
  • elites (number and structure, sources of their income and current welfare, conspicuous consumption, internal competition, social norms); 
  • factors of instability (radical ideologies, terrorist and revolutionary movements, acts of violence, riots, and revolutions).

Goldstone himself also proposed methods to operationalize and measure them, as well as a general integral indicator that allows future unrest to be predicted–an indicator of political stress Ψ (PSI, or the political stress indicator). Retrospective studies have shown that Ψ was off the charts before the French Revolution, the English Civil War, and the crisis of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, if the mathematical model shows the growth of Ψ curve at any time intervals in the future, then we can confidently speak about coming socio-political instability at this time in this region.

In general terms, the equation for calculating Ψ looks like this:


Here, MMP stands for Mass Mobilization Potential, EMP stands for Elite Mobilization Potential, and SFD represents the level of State Fiscal Distress in the state. Each of the equation indicators is calculated separately using many other socio-demographic variables and various mathematical tools, including differential equations.

In a new paper, scientists drew information from the Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive (CNTS) database. It contains information on the 200 most important indicators for more than 200 countries around the world from 1815 to the present. The researchers were most interested in data on anti-government demonstrations, riots, government crises, revolutions and purges (although for the United States and Great Britain there is little data for reliable statistical analysis with regard to the last two phenomena). An independent dataset from the US Political Violence Database (USPVD) and an archive of publications from The New York Times were also used to check and correct the information.

It turned out that in full accordance with the forecasts for 2010-2012 in the United States over the past 10 years, the number of anti-government demonstrations has sharply increased, and the number of street riots has increased significantly (see graph below). It is important to note that the prediction made at that point in time was completely at variance with the current trends and could not be a simple extrapolation, since from the early 1980s to 2010 the level of social unrest remained consistently low.

It is important to note that the events of 2020 do not affect or change the simulation results in any way. All the trends that have clearly manifested themselves in the USA, Great Britain, and a number of European countries have been slowly but steadily growing throughout the decade. The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has also had an impact, and it was impossible to predict it based on historical data (although virologists and epidemiologists have regularly written about the potential danger of coronaviruses in scientific periodicals since the 2000s). But epidemics of dangerous diseases often arise during periods of social crisis and hit the most vulnerable sectors of society (as happened in the United States), which only mobilizes the masses even more and takes them to the streets.


Source: Russian scientists predicted increased unrest in the United States back in 2010

Adenosine Helps Regrow Cartilage in Osteoarthritis

Injections of a natural ‘energy’ molecule prompted regrowth of almost half of the cartilage lost with aging in knees, a new study in rodents shows.

#arthritis #osteoarthritis #adenosine

Carmen Corciulo, Cristina M. Castro, Thomas Coughlin, Samson Jacob, Zhu Li, David Fenyö, Daniel B. Rifkin, Oran D. Kennedy, Bruce Neil Cronstein. Intraarticular injection of liposomal adenosine reduces cartilage damage in established murine and rat models of osteoarthritis. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-68302-w

Media’s pivotal pandemic power

The mass media’s coverage of the pandemic health crisis carries an important responsibility to offer balanced messaging about COVID-19 and public behaviour, Flinders University public health researchers says. While freely available, trustworthy news is vital – in particular when conveying personal risk and government mandated guidelines – the Flinders University research warns of less favourable issues such as inciting panic or causing stigmatisation in the community by laying blame on certain groups or organisations.

Source: Media’s pivotal pandemic power

Defiance and low trust in medical doctors related to vaccine scepticism

A new study shows that individuals who react negatively to rules and recommendations and have lower trust in doctors more often use complementary and alternative medicine, that is, treatments or substances that are not included in the care offered or recommended by doctors. The study included altogether 770 parents of young children.

Source: Defiance and low trust in medical doctors related to vaccine scepticism

Why obeying orders can make us do terrible things

War atrocities are sometimes committed by ‘normal’ people obeying orders. Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience measured brain activity while participants inflicted pain and found that obeying orders reduced empathy and guilt related brain activity for the inflicted pain. This may explain why people are able to commit immoral acts under coercion.

Source: Why obeying orders can make us do terrible things