The Daily Dose: Italy closes its schools; Scientists want to link black holes

Words matter. Images matter. The Scientific Inquirer needs your support. Help us pay our contributors for their hard work. Visit our Patreon page and discover ways that you can make a difference.

New cases of COVID-19 may be decreasing “precipitously” in China, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the world. Worse news seems to be compounding bad news. This morning, Italy announced that it is closing all schools and universities for two weeks in order to stem the coronavirus outbreak that is causing more fatalities.

Meanwhile, other countries are experiencing logistical issues similar to those first seen in Wuhan, China. According to the Associated Press, “South Korea struggled to find enough beds for its sick, Italy grappled with a rising number of deaths and concern grew over an expanding outbreak in the United States on Wednesday as the new virus that tormented China expanded elsewhere.”

For a long time, experts have wondered how long it would take for Indonesia to report it’s first case of COVID-19 since its Southeast Asian neighbors have all reported infections. That shoe finally dropped on March 2. “At a press conference in Jakarta, President Joko Widodo announced that two women aged 31 and 64 from Depok had contracted the virus. But some scientists believe the country, which has close ties to China, almost certainly has a “silent epidemic” within its borders and should urgently boost its surveillance efforts.”

Meanwhile, Middle Eastern countries are growing increasingly uneasy and are taking increasingly stringent steps to mitigate potential outbreaks. Again from the Associated Press, “Saudi Arabia has banned citizens and residents from performing the Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca over fears about new virus… Friday prayers in Iran have been canceled across all provincial capitals amid the country’s growing coronavirus outbreak, state television said.”

Two major strains of SARS-CoV-19 have been identified. According to CNBC, “scientists at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai found that a more aggressive type of the new coronavirus had accounted for roughly 70% of analyzed strains, while 30% had been linked to a less aggressive type.” They believe that the aggresive strain was prevalent during the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan. Since then, it become less prevalent.

A journal article by Zoe A. Xirocostas et al. reports having found the secret to long life. Matching sex chromosomes.”So researchers at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, scoured scientific papers, books, and online databases for sex chromosome and longevity data. They compared the life spans of males and females of 229 animal species across 99 families, 38 orders, and eight classes. On average, the sex with identical chromosomes lives 17.6% longer, they report today in Biology Letters. The longevity pattern holds for humans, wild animals, and captive animals across the evolutionary family tree.”

If you’ve ever wondered how the human brain is able to differentiate the between the lyrical part of music from the instrumental element, you aren’t alone. It has been the subject of controversy among scientists for some time. A recent study attempts to provide some clarity. As per Science, “The study of Albouy et al. presents, a major step forward in this debate by demonstrating direct links among (i) the amount of temporal or spectral detail in the sound structure of songs, (ii) listeners’ comprehension of the verbal or melodic content of these songs, and (iii) corresponding left-right asymmetries in the anterior auditory cortex known to represent complex sound categories.”

Here’s one out of Doctor Who. Scientists at California Institute of Technology have proposed tapping a powerful form of quantum entanglement that requires linking two black holes (that’s right, black holes) in order to coax them into forming — wait for it — a wormhole capable of transmitting information attached to said subatomic particles. As per Quanta Magazine, “if you’ve linked the two black holes in the right way, after a short wait the quantum information will pop out of the second one, fully refocused into readable form. To get there, it will have traveled through a shortcut in space-time that links the two objects.” Here’s the kicker. It can all be done on a lab benchtop. No doubt, a handy-dandy sonic screwdriver could work as a catalyst.


IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: