The Daily Dose: The countdown to history with SpaceX and NASA

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The historic SpaceX manned-rocket launch is a little over 24 hours away and we’re pretty excited at the prospect of a success. It’s not so much the fact that the astronauts — Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — will become the first Americans to launch to orbit from U.S. soil in nearly a decade. We’re more excited about the fact that it’s a major step toward the democratization of space travel. As per, “NASA and SpaceX convened at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on Monday to go over last-minute launch preparations in the final review before the big day. If all goes according to plan — and if the weather cooperates — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from the center’s historic Launch Complex 39A on Wednesday (May 27) at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT).”

While this article is actually about how various worst-case scenario climate models have been backed up by yet another one, we appreciate it more for the succinct way it presents one of the biggest dangers present by a warming planet: the so-called hydrological cycle. As per Nature, “One of the key problems is how clouds adjust to warming2. If low-level cloud cover increases, and high-level cloud decreases, then clouds will offset the warming effect of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations and thereby act as a negative feedback, or damper, on climate change, buying us some breathing space. By contrast, if there is positive cloud feedback — that is, if low-level clouds decrease with warming and high-level clouds increase — then, short of rapid and complete cessation of fossil-fuel use, we might be heading for disaster.” That’s pretty straightforward.

It’s no secret that the lockdowns that accompanied the wave of COVID-19 outbreaks around the world have also had very serious socioeconomic impacts. The fact that without a vaccine or cure for the infection, politicians and public health officials have been forced to rely on non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). An polilcy article in Science suggests ways in which to make better decisions when implementing so-called draconian measures. According to the article, “Because many of these interventions differ from each other in terms of their economic and psychological cost—ranging from very inexpensive, in the case of interventions based on behavioral economics and psychology, to extremely costly, in the case of school and business closures—it is crucial to identify the interventions that most reduce transmission at the lowest economic and psychological cost.”

Finally, Merck has decided to go all-in on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. They’re trying to make-up for their tardiness by splashing cash around. As per FierceBiotech, “Merck has struck a deal to buy Themis to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The takeover will see Merck, a latecomer to the response to SARS-CoV-2, apply its vaccine capabilities to a candidate based on Themis’ measles vector platform that is set to enter the clinic this year.” The modern pharmaceutical model at its finest. Why develop a technology when you can buy a company that has something similar?

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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