The Daily Dose: Asian researchers in the U.S. under siege; Science joins the culinary revolution 20 years late

As the Trump Administration’s war on all-things-Chinese continues to cut along increasingly racist lines (as opposed to analytical), they are at risk of losing a major force in American science – researchers of Chinese-descent. According to Nature, “The latest arrests are another example of the US government cracking down on Chinese scholars, part of a pattern of actions that have created a fearful atmosphere and made researchers think about leaving, says Jessica Chen, an immigration lawyer in Houston, Texas, who has been contacted by researchers for immigration issues. People cannot focus on their work when they are concerned that they might be investigated or accused of spying, says Chen. ‘This creates a truly oppressive environment in which to try to perform research.’” We don’t doubt that there are some double-dealers in the scientific community. China is by no means alone nor the originator of scientific espionage. However, lumping everyone that belongs to a particular ethnic group together is counterproductive and lazy. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

Japanese astrophysicists have won one of the highest prizes in astronomy. According to the Asian Scientist Magazine, “Professor Akira Kouchi and Naohiro Yoshida have won the 2020 Japan Geoscience Union Scientific Award, also known as the Miyake Prize. Awarded once every two years, the prize recognizes researchers for their outstanding contributions to the field of materials science or earth and planetary science.” Kouchi was awarded for his experimental studies on the evolution of materials from interstellar molecular clouds to proto-planetary disks. Yoshida was recognized for his work on measuring isotope ratios, which allow us to estimate the ages of molecules.

Researchers at Hokkaido University have added to the growing literature that indicates an uncontrolled immune response plays a role in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. “Macrophage activation syndrome in COVID-19 was accompanied by Acute respiratory distress syndrome, and that far more cytokines were involved than in previously documented cases of MAS. This difference is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When the virus enters the cells, it triggers an inflammatory response as the cells fight against it. The virus also triggers the inflammatory response by causing pyroptosis (a type of cell death caused when it infects cells), which activates macrophages.”

An environmental fight is brewing in Manila. At stake is a project that aims to expand and develop Manila Bay. While few people would dispute the idea that the very polluted body of water is in need of some love, there’s a proper way of going about it that takes into account the environmental implications of such a large project. Per Rappler, “According to the petitioners, because Manila Bay is an environmentally critical area, all the more should any project undergo an environment impact assessment. Manila Bay is also a national historical landmark, construction and development projects must be permitted by the National Historical Commission. Following the Local Government Code of 1991, big-scale projects that might affect climate, resources, and species living near the area should be consulted first with constituents of the local government.” We don’t see anything wrong there. Do it right, then get it done.

Researchers in the United States have made positive strides to help astronauts maintain bone and muscle mass while in zero-gravity. It entails an injection of a compound that “Lee said the 24 regular untreated mice lost considerable muscle and bone mass in weightlessness as expected — up to 18%. But the eight genetically engineered ‘mighty mice’ launched with double the muscle maintained their bulk. Their muscles appeared to be comparable to similar ‘mighty mice’ that stayed behind at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In addition, eight normal mice that received ‘mighty mouse’ treatment in space returned to Earth with dramatically bigger muscles. The treatment involves blocking a pair of proteins that typically limit muscle mass.” That’s great news. But our question is: how long before this “Mighty Mouse” drug makes it into the sports world? Where’s Barry at?

The scientific community has finally figured out that using the modern vogue for the culinary arts is a fantastic way to pull people into the science world. “By letting students experiment in the kitchen, rather than the lab, instructors aim to draw more students to science. And by serving up a heavy portion of chemistry, math, and physics alongside mouthwatering labs, they hope to hold that interest in science—and food—for a lifetime.” Hallelujah. Welcome to the party that started almost twenty years ago. Typical.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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