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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

OF SANTA CLAUS, CHILDREN NAUGHTINESS, AND VIRUS: A CHRISTMAS TALE

Keywords: Christmas, Xmas, Santa, Santa Claus, Christmas Eve, Xmas Eve, children, kids, virus, pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, flu, measles, naughtiness, naughty list, myth, popular belief, North Pole, deprivation, hospitals, United Kingdom, UK

- Testo in italiano alla fine del post -

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Ooooh, hello dear English speaking-reading-hearing visitor, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog/podcast/twitter&instagram accounts/entity behind the unsuccessful e-shop stuffngo (sNg) on zazzle.com which tells you science stories while exploring all the 11 dimensions of spacetime while putting its virtual ear on them vibrating membranes hoping like that to catch the voice of a trans-dimensional entity of mighty wisdom talking about how to correctly answer your significant other’s question: ”does this dress make me look fat?, aaand which talks to you thanks to the voice, kidnapped via a voodoo-wireless trick, from a veeery very very dumb human.

Aaand which does all of this in English-question-mark, a language that is to proper English what 2020 is to an even slightly not crappy year for human kind.

Today I’m gonna tell you a story that debunks (or not, who knows, dear wait-and-find-out reader) the notion according to which Santa Claus only visits children who well behaved during the year (and no, Santa, it’s not the outfit, you ARE fat!).

 

Santa Claus wonders what naughtiness be while smoking a cigar and sipping liquor
Santa Claus & the naughtiness issue (by @sciencemug)
[Badass Santa pic, by hue12 photography, is a free pic (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug]

 

Six scholars from Harvard and other universities and medical institutions of the USA and United Kingdom (UK), in 2016 publish a paper (P) on the science journal The BMJ (formerly know as the British Medical Journal), which, founded in 1840, “is one of the world's oldest general medical journals” (see) out there.

The six academics, led by at the time prestigious Kennedy scholarship owner John J Park (we’ll call the JJ6 from now on), decide to investigate whether it be true or not the commonly accepted opinion that Santa Claus (“also known as Saint Nicholas, St Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, or simply Santa” (P)) decide which kids to visit depending on their past year round good or bad behavior.

Now, the JJ6, to test this popular belief, select

Thursday, December 17, 2020

NEW POSTS/PODCAST EPISODES COMING SOON!

Heeeello dear dearest buddy reader/listener!

I just want to tell you this: new posts/podcast episodes are coming!

Soon*! 

Ciaz!

(Wow, four "!" in a row, that's something! Oooh, five! Oooh, six! Ooooh... Ok, I stop it now)

SM


Here's a picture of a seal (or at least I guess it is it, otherwise it's the oddest chicken I've ever seen…) that is just really excited about the news.

A seal
A thrilled seal [in reality, it thought some fish were coming, it couldn't care less 'bout the news (I spare you the pic where it finally realizes no fish is coming, it's too heartbreaking)]
[The seal pic, by Karen Lau, is a free pic (source: Unsplash)]

 

*

"Soon" is an acronym standing for: "Suuureoh-ohneverthelessdon'tbetoooptimisticI'mstillalazydumbblogafterallbutI'mactuallyworkingonitthepost/podcastepisodeImeannotmylackofcommitmentorlackofbrain"

Sunday, December 6, 2020

FAREWELL, ARECIBO TELESCOPE! (Nov 1963 - Dec 2020)

Completed in November 1963, the giant (its dish is/was 305 meters wide) Arecibo radio telescope of the Arecibo Observatory (near Arecibo, in Puerto Rico) suffered apparently irreparable damage on the early morning of December 1st, 2020. 

On that day, indeed, the telescope’s instrument platform (a 900 tonnes juggernaut, like about a hundred fully loaded 5th Wheel Camper), suspended above the already previously partially damaged dish, crashed into it definitely completing the destruction job.

Here a full account and footage of what happened.

The following cartoon is this dumb blog's homage to this invaluable piece of technology and source of scientific discoveries and, ultimately, of human progress.

 

Sketch of a gravestone with engraved: "R.I.P. Arecibo Telescope, Nov 1963-Dec 2020, "of course it had to happen in 2020..."
Farewell, Arecibo Radio Telescope! (by @sciencemug)
[The Arecibo Telescope pic by Jaro Nemčok, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (source: Wikimedia Commons); the pic is adapted by @sciencemug]


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

THE TRUE REASON WHY DINGOES FLEE FROM THE TUBE-MAN!

A bunch of Australian researchers put an "oversized inflatable human effigy that [they dub] ‘Fred-a-Scare’ [aaah, I love scientists!]" (P) near some food, outdoors. And the science jokers also gear the place with a speaker playing gunshots noises on command.

Then the brains wait and see which of these two tricks of theirs (if any) is able to scare off captive dingoes from getting to the food (they perform three trials, one a day, with a dozen animals).

Well, the bullets voices don't seem to bother the canids much ("11/12 accessing the food; the same as control" (P) on the first trial).

As per our dear waving-&-shaking Fred-a-Scare, ohoh, it surely does the job.

75% of the dingoes, indeed, run away at least once from the tube-man, and, on the last trial, a fat 58% of them keep being scared by it, leaving the food be.

Sooo, the science Aussies conclude that, even if they need field trials to be sure, "in conjunction with other devices and methods, and at intervals that reduce the risk of habituation, the inflatable effigy could provide a valuable tool for deterring dingoes, and perhaps other species, from particular areas, even where food (or potential prey) is present" (P).

Good news for campgrounds and breeders, then.

Buut, dear reader, this dumb blog, in the following cartoon, show you the true reason why dingoes, which are smart animals, stay the heck away from the inflatable tube-men.

 

Dingo and the tube-man (edited by @sciencemug)
Dingo & the tube-men (by @sciencemug)
[The tube-men pic by Joshua Coleman, and the field pic by Stephanie Cook are free images (source: Unslpash);  the dingo pic is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license (source: Wikimedia Commons); all pics are adapted by @sciencemug]





Bibliography

- Smith, B.P., Jaques, N.B., Appleby, R.G., Morris, S., and Jordan, N.R. (2020). Automated shepherds: responses of captive dingoes to sound and an inflatable, moving effigy. Pac. Conserv. Biol.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

LIFE ON VENUS? THE REAL HINT!

Astronomers seem to have found traces (about 20 parts per billion) of a toxic gas called phosphine (PH3) in Venus's atmosphere (P).

"What's the big deal?", you asks, dear hard-to-impress reader?

Weeell, see, the "presence of PH3 is unexplained after exhaustive study of steady-state chemistry and photochemical pathways, with no currently known abiotic production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteoritic delivery. [Therefore] PH3 could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of PH3 on Earth, [- and that's the treat, dear reader -] from the presence of life [and, in that case, of a bug's life (hehe, see what I did? Eh?), most probably...]" (P)

The astro brains, for their study, used data collected by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in 2017 and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in 2019, which revealed the spectral signature of phosphine.

This dumb blog, right below, provides you, dear reader, a snapshot of Venus and a transcription of its comment on the matter.

Venus comments the possibility of hosting microbial life (by @sciencemug)
Life on Venus (by @sciencemug)
[Venus pic by NASA is a Public Domain image (source: Wikimedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]




The paper this post is about (P)
-  Greaves, J.S., Richards, A.M.S., Bains, W., Rimmer, P.B., Sagawa, H., Clements, D.L., Seager, S., Petkowski, J.J., Sousa-Silva, C., Ranjan, S., et al. (2020). Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus. Nature Astronomy 1–10.

Monday, August 17, 2020

OF MASKS AND PANDEMIC: SHOOTERS

Nose + mouth = biohazard
Nose and mouth and biohazard in time of pandemics
[The
biohazard symbol by OpenClipart is a Public Domain pic (source: freesvg); adapted by @sciencemug]
 
 
Imagine this.
 

There are people with a loaded machine gun.
 

These people know that, in most cases, their machine gun is loaded with blanks, but they're also fully aware that, sometimes, their weapon is loaded with actual bullets.
 

The only thing these people don't know for sure is whether their machine gun will shoot blanks or actual rounds.

Now imagine that these people, by choice, go around, among other folks, constantly pulling the trigger of such machine gun of theirs (*).

Well, to me, these people are exactly like the ones who, in these days, having the possibility of doing it, by choice don't wear a mask.



(*) Moreover, these people also refuses to wear bulletproof vests even though many projectiles are flying around – some possibly even shot by people quite like ‘em - and they risk from suffering a flesh-wound, to ending up hospitalized (occuping a bed that, because of this, by the way, is no more available for a poor unlucky vest-wearing lad who’s been hit anyway) to being killed.




Related Papers (Updated on 01-Sept-2020)
- Esposito, S., Principi, N., Leung, C.C., and Migliori, G.B. (2020). Universal use of face masks for success against COVID-19: evidence and implications for prevention policies. European Respiratory Journal 55.
- Fears, A.C., Klimstra, W.B., Duprex, P., Hartman, A., Weaver, S.C., Plante, K.S., Mirchandani, D., Plante, J.A., Aguilar, P.V., Fernández, D., et al. Persistence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in Aerosol Suspensions - Volume 26, Number 9—September 2020 - Emerging Infectious Diseases journal - CDC.
- Furukawa, N.W., Brooks, J.T., and Sobel, J. Evidence Supporting Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 While Presymptomatic or Asymptomatic - Volume 26, Number 7—July 2020 - Emerging Infectious Diseases journal - CDC.
- Gao, Z., Xu, Y., Sun, C., Wang, X., Guo, Y., Qiu, S., and Ma, K. (2020). A systematic review of asymptomatic infections with COVID-19. J Microbiol Immunol Infect.
- Jones, N.R., Qureshi, Z.U., Temple, R.J., Larwood, J.P.J., Greenhalgh, T., and Bourouiba, L. (2020). Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in covid-19? BMJ 370.
- Lee, S., Meyler, P., Mozel, M., Tauh, T., and Merchant, R. (2020). Asymptomatic carriage and transmission of SARS-CoV-2: What do we know? Can J Anesth/J Can Anesth.
- Leung, N.H.L., Chu, D.K.W., Shiu, E.Y.C., Chan, K.-H., McDevitt, J.J., Hau, B.J.P., Yen, H.-L., Li, Y., Ip, D.K.M., Peiris, J.S.M., et al. (2020). Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks. Nature Medicine 26, 676–680.
- McFee, R.B. (2020). SARS 2 human coronavirus (COVID -19, SARS CoV2). Disease-a-Month 101063.
- Morawska, L., and Cao, J. (2020). Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality. Environment International 139, 105730.
- Rothe, C., Schunk, M., Sothmann, P., Bretzel, G., Froeschl, G., Wallrauch, C., Zimmer, T., Thiel, V., Janke, C., Guggemos, W., et al. (2020). Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany. N Engl J Med 382, 970–971.
-Zhang, R., Li, Y., Zhang, A.L., Wang, Y., and Molina, M.J. (2020). Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19. PNAS 117, 14857–14863.

OF MASKS AND PANDEMIC: THE WTTIHITMOMFIFB SYNDROME

In these troublesome times (1) a new syndrome is spreading as fast as the pandemic, and its insurgence started just a short while after that of the new coronavirus. 
I am talking about the: "What?! The Thing I Have In The Middle Of My Face Is For Breathing?" (WTTIHITMOMFIFB) Syndrome. 
It affects many, many people, who, poor things, risk a severe shock whenever reminded that the mask, when worn, must cover BOTH their mouth & nose, 'cause, yup, they breathe also (well, mainly) through their nose - these folks almost always faint when they're told that, oh yeah, the nose is made basically for this, breathing, rather than to be a playground for picky fingers or worst - and therefore, since breathing means inhaling AND exhaling, well, what comes out of such nose of theirs can be as a

PiPs with mask (by @sciencemug)
PiPs with mask (by @sciencemug)

source of infection for who's around 'em as what's coming out of their mouths (2)(3)(4) (letting alone the fact that their unprotected nose is an anatomical device that, by default, takes in the 100% of anything the air carries, included, among other things, viruses shed by other people… (5))

So, basically, those affected by the WTTIHITMOMFIFB Syndrome, put for sure themselves in danger, along with the ones in range of their nose-made potentially virus-lulling aerosol (6).



Bibliography (Updated on 1-Sept-2020)

1- McFee, R.B. (2020). SARS 2 human coronavirus (COVID -19, SARS CoV2). Disease-a-Month 101063.
2- Leung, N.H.L., Chu, D.K.W., Shiu, E.Y.C., Chan, K.-H., McDevitt, J.J., Hau, B.J.P., Yen, H.-L., Li, Y., Ip, D.K.M., Peiris, J.S.M., et al. (2020). Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks. Nature Medicine 26, 676–680.
3- Morawska, L., and Cao, J. (2020). Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality. Environment International 139, 105730.
4-Zhang, R., Li, Y., Zhang, A.L., Wang, Y., and Molina, M.J. (2020). Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19. PNAS 117, 14857–14863.
5- Esposito, S., Principi, N., Leung, C.C., and Migliori, G.B. (2020). Universal use of face masks for success against COVID-19: evidence and implications for prevention policies. European Respiratory Journal 55.
6-Fears, A.C., Klimstra, W.B., Duprex, P., Hartman, A., Weaver, S.C., Plante, K.S., Mirchandani, D., Plante, J.A., Aguilar, P.V., Fernández, D., et al. Persistence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in Aerosol Suspensions - Volume 26, Number 9—September 2020 - Emerging Infectious Diseases journal - CDC.



Tuesday, April 28, 2020

THE TRUE REASON WHY AMERICAN ROBINS MIGRATE EARLIER!

A bunch of researchers from a bunch of US universities finds out that the timing of American robins' (Turdus migratorius) "spring migration to [their] Arctic-boreal breeding grounds" (P) got 12 days earlier in the last 20 years (about 5 days per decade in the 1998-2018 time period).

Moreover, the brains analyze data collected between 2016-2018 from GPS tracking devices stuck on the backs of 55 American robins. And these data indicate that "the [American robins'] arrival timing and likelihood of stopovers, and timing of arrival to breeding grounds" (P) are highly impacted by the environmental conditions the birds find along their migratory paths. Among the factors, the "dynamics in snow conditions" (P) appear to be a key one

The researchers' study (P) is published on the journal Environmental Research Letters and can contribute in creating predicting models of birds' responses to climate change.

The findings are coherent with what scientists already know, which is that one of the strongest effects of "global climate change has been the advancement of spring at high northern latitudes [...] where temperatures are rising nearly two to three times faster than the global average" (P), and that migratory birds adjust their trips' schedule to their breeding territories in response to the changes in local climate. 

But, dear reader, this dumb blog has an alternative explanation for the earlier migration's timing of American robins. And a cartoon to explain it.


American robins discuss about smart early departures (by @sciencemug)
American robins discuss about smart early departures (by @sciencemug)

[American robin pic by Mark Nenadov is under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license (source: Wikimedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Now, the following ones hare just for fun...


Batman and Robin meme 1 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)
Batman and Robin meme 1 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)

[Batman and Robin meme pic by ap. is under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license (source: flickr); adapted by @sciencemug]


Batman and Robin meme 2 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)
Batman and Robin meme 2 about American robins' earlier migration's timing (by @sciencemug)

[Batman and Robin meme pic by ap. is under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license (source: flickr); adapted by @sciencemug]


Paper (P)

Oliver, R.Y., Mahoney, P.J., Gurarie, E., Krikun, N., Weeks, B.C., Hebblewhite, M., Liston, G., and Boelman, N. (2020). Behavioral responses to spring snow conditions contribute to long-term shift in migration phenology in American robins. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 045003.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

É ARRIVATO IL NUOVO PODCAST IN ITALIANO: @sciencemug ITALIA!


Oooh bentrovato e bentrovata oh tu che ascolti/parli/pensi in italiano, qui su @sciencemug, il podcast/blog che racconta la scienza mentre contempla il dorso della tartaruga che regge l’elefante che regge il mondo che si gratta sguaiatamente l'Himalaya, eeee sente anche le voci del multiverso cantare il caos armonico del tutto e occasionalmente raccontare barzellette sconce con in sottofondo l’inconfondibile brusio del bar più malfamato della costellazione del Tucano.
 

Volevo informarti, caro auscultatore e cara auscultatrice, che ora potrai goderti ooogni contenuto di questo matto podcast anche in italiano.
 

“Perché?”, mi chiedi con un vago accenno di scettico sospetto? 

Beh, caro auscultatore e cara auscultatrice, perché adesso esiste anche @sciencemug ITALIA, dove potrai ascoltare tuuuti i nuovi episodi, e un po’ alla volta anche quelli vecchi, in italiano, appunto.
 

@sciencemug ITALIA è su iTunes, Spotify, Anchor, Castbox e presto sarà disponibile anche su altre piattaforme.
 

Benone, oh voi del quelli che il podcast sì ma solo in italiano, la notizia ve l’ho data, adesso vi saluto, che devo tornare a inseguire il bianconiglio.
Ciaz!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

THE TRUTH ABOUT FLAMINGOS' SOCIAL LIFE!

Soo, dear reader, from 2013 to 2016 a bunch of scientists studies (P) flocks of captive flamingos at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, a center for science and conservation in the UK.

And the brains find out that the pink birds have pretty intense social lives, that the larger their flocks the more frequent their social behaviors, that "arrangements of dyads, trios and quartets with higher ties strengths were visible [with both] male-male and female-female [stable over time] bonds", and, ultimately, that "flamingo societies are complex (i.e. formed of long-standing preferential partnerships and not loose, random connections)" (P).

So, dear reader, for you and you only, this dumb blog, in the two following cartoons, respectively reports a truth that the good researchers failed to uncover (A), and a common example of what the intense social life those cool flamingos have looks like (B).



A flamingo complaining about the smartphones' design by @sciencemug)
A flamingo complaining about the smartphones' design by @sciencemug)

 [Free flamingo pic by Lieselot. Dalle (source: Unsplash); smartphone free pic by Neil Soni (source: Unsplash); all pics adapted by @sciencemug]
B
Two flamingos runnnig on water (by @sciencemug)
Two flamingos runnnig on water (by @sciencemug)

Free flamingos pic by Dattatreya Patra (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug] 


Paper (P)