Categories
People

All the good Bill Gates is doing

Of course it isn’t just Bill Gates, but he, his wife, and all the people who work with him are doing tremendous good. Still, I totally agree with Dave Winer here:

We often wait to say the good things about people until they’re gone and can’t hear it. I just wanted to say about Bill Gates, he’s doing good now. Standing up for science at a time when that can save a lot of lives, maybe even save our civilization. He doesn’t have to take a risk now, he could, like other super rich people, isolate himself perfectly and ride out the storm quietly. Instead he’s put himself out there, standing for what’s right, and you know what, that’s good, and thanks to him for doing that

Dave Winer

Also on Twitter:


Featured image: Bill Gates at Hioe Charity Forum by Greg Rubenstein, licensed CC BY 2.0

Categories
Events and Life Science and nature Wellbeing

Facts and rational advice about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19

There is a lot of hype about the current coronavirus pandemic, much of it coming from the media. In times like these, you really want to focus on facts and rational advice about the virus, and precautions you can take.

To slow the virus down, you need to act as if you already have it …

Why fighting the coronavirus depends on you

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, so I won’t offer advice other than urging you to look to science for your information, not rumours and media outlets looking for more clicks.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

What are COVID-19 and the coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization:

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)

Useful resources

I’ve come across a number of helpful, and informative resources about this current virus:

World Health Organisation

The WHO has a useful FAQ that’s worth reading: Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19).

Israeli Ministry of Health information page

Here in Israel the Ministry of Health has advice for Israelis that can also be helpful for non-Israelis: The Novel Coronavirus, Ministry of Health.

Israel has adopted a pretty aggressive approach to the coronavirus in order to limit the spread of the virus in Israel.

Reddit megathread in r/askscience

Here’s a comprehensive thread in r/askscience:

Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus

Ars Technica has also published a pretty comprehensive guide to the coronavirus, and sensible precautions to take: Don’t Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus | Ars Technica.

nCoV2019.live

This site contains data scraped from multiple sources.

There’s a really interesting story about the young man who created, and maintains this site here.

SciShow

The SciShow channel on YouTube has an interesting video about whether this is a pandemic, and what that term means:

World Health Organisation’s Twitter feed

Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction

This is a podcast by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr Sanjay Gupta about facts and inaccuracies about the coronavirus:

Coronavirus Tech Handbook

This is an interesting crowdsourcing initiative:

a crowdsourced resource for technologists building things related to the coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19 Dashboards

This site has a collection of data dashboards about COVID-19 that are updated hourly. You can also subscribe to a feed from the site, although it doesn’t seem to load for me.

What the curves mean for COVID-19

This is a pretty good video that explains why it’s important to flatten that infection curve.

Vox’s COVID-19 series

Vox has a pretty good series of videos about aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic that are worth watching. Here’s their playlist:


unsplash-logoFeatured image by CDC
Categories
Science and nature Travel and places

Thank you for the wonderful Opportunity to visit Mars

This last week saw the official end of the Opportunity rover’s mission on Mars. NASA was unable to coax it back to life after signalling it for about eight months. This remarkable rover continued exploring Mars long after it’s original 90 day mission.

Drive along with the NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover and hear the voices of scientists and engineers behind the mission. Designed to run for 90 days, the exploration spanned more than 15 years from 2004 to 2019. Along the way, it discovered definitive proof of liquid water on ancient Mars and set the off-world driving record. For more information on the Mars Exploration Rovers and all of NASA’s Mars missions, visit mars.nasa.gov.

There is a wealth of imagery, and other information available on the mission site that document Opportunity’s journey across part of Mars’ surface. I love this image of Opportunity’s tracks in the Martian sand:

Here’s a terrific video that provides context for the featured image I’ve added to this post:

https://pauljacobson.me/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/home_www_videos_mer_20140909_OpportunityTracks20140908-1280.mov
Overhead and on-the-ground views of the 25-mile journey NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has made since landing in 2004 – Courtesy of NASA

Another terrific resource (there’s so much available, I’m just picking items at random at this point), is this overview of the Opportunity and Spirit missions (Opportunity’s sibling, Spirit, went dormant several years ago):

This infographic highlights NASA’s twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Spirit and Opportunity. The rovers landed on the Red Planet in 2004, in search of answers about the history of water on Mars. Spirit concluded its mission in 2010. Opportunity last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location on Mars.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

The wonderful xkcd published a tribute to Opportunity that really captures the impact Opportunity, Spirit, and the other rovers have on Humanity – they take us on voyages of discovery on other worlds!

These rovers take us along for the ride. All we need to do, is look out the window now and then.

Categories
Science and nature

A butterfly nebula with a 3 light-year wingspan

I made the mistake of scrolling through my Twitter feed earlier. I saw the usual drama about a certain crazy person. I was about to go find a strong drink when I saw this amazing image of this butterfly nebula that I had to share.

The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth’s night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp close-up of the dying star’s nebula was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope an

Who says science isn’t cool? Well, that crazy guy and his friends do but they don’t seem to have a handle on things anyway.

You can view the full resolution image of the Butterfly Nebula by clicking on this link. It is even more impressive up close.

Source: APOD: 2017 February 8 – The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble

Categories
People Science and nature Television

Genius – The story of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, official 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics photograph.

National Geographic has produced a scripted series about Albert Einstein titled “Genius” that starts in April 2017. I just watched the trailer and I definitely want to watch this.

From Executive Producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the premiere season of National Geographic’s first scripted anthology series, GENIUS, will focus on Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein. Based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed and best-selling book, Einstein: His Life and Universe, and adapted by writer Noah Pink, GENIUS follows the brilliant scientist through the ups and downs of his life, from failing to get his doctorate to developing the general theory of relativity.

In the meantime, I have slowly been reading Walter Isaacson’s book that became the basis for this series. I think it’s time to return to the book and finish it. Here is the trailer for the series. It looks terrific!

There is so much good stuff available from National Geographic lately. I really want to figure out how to gain access to the channel at home. Our TV supports terrestrial TV but we haven’t connected it to either an antenna or to some sort of cable or satellite service. We basically watch whatever we can on YouTube or Netflix through our Chromecast.

If you’re interested, the Internet Archive has a collection of works about and by him that is worth exploring. One of my favourite photos featuring him and a collection of other top scientists of the time is this colourised version of a group photo taken at the 1927 Solvay Conference.

Categories
Science and nature

Gravitational Waves are now following you

I had to see what xkcd had to say about the recent confirmation of Einstein’s gravity waves. Funny!

Categories
People Science and nature Television

Neil deGrasse Tyson and I’m thinking about the laptop bag

I became a Neil deGrasse Tyson fan when I watched the series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” which I loved. deGrasse Tyson has a really interesting YouTube channel called “StarTalk Radio” which I just subscribed to and which you may also want to watch if you are into astrophysics. Here is his introduction:

Small confession: as much as I was paying attention to what he was saying, I couldn’t help but notice his laptop bag in the background. I just kept thinking: “Hey, I have the same laptop bag!”.

Back to what I was writing about, you can also follow deGrasse Tyson on Twitter and Facebook:


Image credit: Hubble Sees a “Mess of Stars” from the NASA Goddard Space Center, licensed CC BY 2.0