Science

Various articles on science

Ontario COVID-19 Third Wave Is Fueled By An Unknown Variant

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The province of Ontario, Canada, is heading for a third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020/2021, and the reason is a yet to be identified variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As we all know by now, the Coronavirus that caused the 2020/2021 pandemic has not stayed with the same genetic sequence of the original wild type identified in Wuhan China. This is completely expected, because all living beings mutate, and viruses specially so.

Coronavirus Mutations, Variants, Epitopes, and Vaccine Efficacy

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This article provides an overview of virus mutations, the current variants from the UK and South Africa, how the immune system works on pathogen proteins, and whether all this has implications on the efficacy of the current vaccines.

Mutations

Mutations are a fact of life for all living beings. Viruses, due to many reasons (generation rate in hours, infecting millions of cells, ...), have a very fast mutation rate. That is just what goes on.

China Will Be Using Anal Swabs for Coronavirus, But Not For Everyone

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Users on social media have been sharing news that China is using Anal Swabs for detecting Coronavirus infections. While this is true, it seems that this will not be applied to everyone being tested.

These anal swabs are soaked in saline, and inserted into the anus and rotated.

If you see this France24 article, you will notice this part:

COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Receptors For Cell Entry And Pathogenicity

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SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and is responsible for the 2020 pandemic, is known to enter cells via the ACE2 receptor (see this video on the Renin-Angiotensin system).

In addition to ACE2, there are other receptors that either facilitate entry into cells (making the virus more infectious) or increase its pathogenicity (causing more severe symptoms).

Principles of Scientific Rational Thinking

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Principles of scientific rational thinking:

Question Authority

No idea is true just because some authority says it is true. That includes you, and includes me.

Think for Yourself and Question Yourself

Don't believe something just because you want it to be true. Belief alone is not a criterion for truth.

Test ideas by evidence from observation and experiments

If a favorite idea fails a well designed test, it is not true. Get over it.

Follow the evidence wherever it leads

If something is proven wrong, then just accept that it is wrong.

And, if you have no evidence, just reserve judgement. You don't have to take a position for or against an idea.

You could be wrong

We are humans, and we may not have all the facts, so we are sometimes wrong. Accept that, and move to more observation and experimentation.

Swine Flu, social networks and media spreading misinformation

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Two recent articles from Al-Jazeera show the misinformation that is widespread about Swine Flu.

The first was an article lamenting how some Arab countries has imported pork meat, including Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE. The article implies a connection between consuming pork, and catching swine flu. An avalanche of equally uninformed comments from visitors as response to the article. Many of the comments are focusing on the Islamic ban on consuming pork.

The other article is about Egypt's parliament considering discontinuing pig farms, with the approval of the Coptic Orthodox Church. At issue are the jobs affected by that, including the garbage collectors and recyclers providing feed for the pigs.

Crowds, violence and the bystander effect

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The Economist has a fascinating article on research by Dr Mark Levine of Lancaster University in the UK.

He analyzes footage from the now famous/notorious CCTV cameras in Britain, and finds that crowds can have an effect on escalating into violence or diffusing it depending on how the first few bystanders respond to the aggressor.

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