Woes of Opening Schools and Educational Institutes too Early!

Schools and Educational Institutions tend to cause super-spreader events because a lot of people from numerous areas and families come together on a daily basis.

A team lead by famous Complex Systems Scientist Prof. Yaneer Bar Yam has noted that only when COVID-19 is no longer being transmitted within a community, educational institutes can be reopened safely.

Links

Hubble Captures Cosmic Cinnamon Bun

Hubble Telescope is one of the foremost extensions of human vision. It also keeps getting better and better.

Do check out the Hubble capture of what has been nicely termed by the researchers as a “Comsic Cinnamon Bun”

An atypical spiral galaxy
UGC 12588 awes us in all its glory!

References

NASA image of the Cosmic Cinnamon Bun.

Puzzling Results for the Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine

The whole world seems to be waiting for a cure for Covid-19.
Numerous companies and researchers around the world are racing to beat the clock in making a vaccine available for the masses. In their efforts to develop a vaccine, often times however, there are setbacks and even confusing results.

One such case is that of the Oxford’s vaccine which has very strange results. Nature reports that the developers have discovered 70% efficacy for a two-dose vaccine. This was analyzed a fortnight after the second dose. Read more here.

References

1. Why Oxford’s positive COVID vaccine results are puzzling scientists – Nature News

Dinosaurs and Cancer: A Podcast

Cancer is a dreadful disease. In some ways, it is actually a disorder or malfunction of the body. While its details are still fuzzy, considering the large number and types of cancer, it appears as an emergence resulting from a lack of coordination of various systems inside the body.

Scientists have always been looking for the origins of Cancer. Recently they have found concrete proof of cancer existence in animals dating back to the dinosaurs.

David Evans, senior curator of Paleontology at the Royal Museum of Ontario in Toronto has identified bone cancer from a so-called “Centrosaurus” dinosaur from around 7075 million years ago.

The study has been presented in the journal Lancet Oncology [1].

Emily Schwing from the Scientific American presents a podcast on this interesting topic.

References

Hubble and the Moon

To the best of our current knowledge, moon is the only natural “official” satellite orbiting our planet.

This, however, has often been challenged by some researchers over time who call some near-earth objects with synchronized orbits as “second moons” [1, 2].

While a number of these observations have been discarded by the scientific community, there still are objects which include temporary satellites, quasi-satellites, trojans, horseshoe orbit objects and more.

This is actually an exception in the solar system with 70 known moons for Jupiter.

The Hubble telescope took this splendid shot of our moon in 1991.

Earth's Moon
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/hubble-shoots-the-moon

References

  1. Sepharial, A. The Science of Foreknowledge: Being a Compendium of Astrological Research, Philosophy, and Practice in the East and West.; Kessinger Publishing (reprint), 1997, pp. 39–50; ISBN 1-56459-717-2
  2. Bakich, Michael E. The Cambridge Planetary Handbook. Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN0-521-63280-3, p. 148
  3. Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claimed_moons_of_Earth

Climate Scientists Reaffirm the Importance of Simple Models

Background Complex Adaptive Systems involve a large number of variables. These variables are essentially inputs from complex processes which can often be modeled as agents. The data generated from these systems can be considerably nonlinear and difficult to understand.

Problem Statement In systems which are very closely linked to the human world, often times, there is a need to make quick or at least, expensive decisions in a relatively shorter amount of time.

Research Outcome The presented research reaffirms the belief of the Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) community that simpler models can be considerably better in terms of making decisions.

References

  • Casey Helgeson et al, Why Simpler Computer Simulation Models Can Be Epistemically Better for Informing Decisions, Philosophy of Science (2020). DOI: 10.1086/711501
  • A’ndrea Elyse Messer Simpler models may be better for determining some climate risk by Blog

Exploring Local Covid-19 Cases Using Google Maps!

Summary

Google has been successfully able to demonstrate the effective use of real-time data in its apps. They have been adding new content and capabilities. In a recent blog post, Google has introduced a yet another capability in Google Maps which will be showing location-specific Covid-19 data.

Details

In the past, google has been adding new and innovative data-centric mechanisms to its suite of apps. These have included features such as:

So, now Google Maps is adding an additional layer inside it which will use color-coding.

How to?

It is not hard to use. Simply speaking, you need to tap on the layers button (Typically showing up at the top right corner) and then click on the Covid-19 info.

What you will see next is the data of new cases per 100,000 people in the area – averaged over a seven day period for normalization purposes. This data is available for 220 countries and regions supported by Google Maps. It can even allow for drilling down to a particular region or city.

What is new?

Arguably, country and region-wide data on Covid-19 cases has already been available for a considerable time. However, what is new here is the integration of Google maps with the data. This opens up new avenues for conducting research, for health authorities to explore regions visually, or simply if you just want to be the smart-citizen by understanding how the spread is occurring. It adds on to existing google apps such as those helping to get around safely.

What is Missing?

While interesting, the data is just one aspect of the big picture. For one, the data presented seems to be instantaneous (i.e. non-temporal). In other words, we cannot explore trends and gradients by simply looking at the map. It also does not show recoveries, or information about local facilities such as hospitals. While there may be existing, localized apps for that, to my knowledge, there is no direct, public integration of any of these apps with Google maps.

References