The Daily Dose: Trump tests positive for COVID-19; SETI on the moon

The President of the United States has tested positive for COVID-19, a development that further fuels the chaos leading up to the American elections in November. “President Donald Trump, who played down the threat of the coronavirus pandemic for months, said on Friday that he and his wife Melania had tested positive for COVID-19 and were going into quarantine, upending the race for the White House.” It’s early days in his infection cycle. Only time will tell the severity.

Bacteria are amazing microorganisms. One of the most fascinating features of certain prokaryotes is their defense mechanisms that protect them from viral infection. A recent paper investigated one of these defense mechanisms. “Writing in Nature, Morehouse et al.6 demonstrate that a functional cGAS–STING pathway exists in bacteria that can potently arrest bacterial growth, possibly as a means of defence against a type of virus known as a bacteriophage, or phage for short, that infects bacteria. The authors also provide evidence that the STING protein originated in bacteria before it was acquired by multicellular animals — our metazoan ancestors.”

Worldwide, COVID-19 has shown a propensity to hit disenfranchised groups hardest. An African-America doctor reflects on catching the disease, recovering, then going on to treat COVID-19 patients in Louisiana. “As Gallien looks back on this year of death, destruction, and his own severe illness, what strikes him most are the stark racial inequalities of a health care system in which Black Americans are more likely to die at early ages of all causes, including Covid-19 — a system in which the number of Black physicians remains dismayingly small.”

Now that the path toward some form of settlement on the moon is being paved, people are beginning to imagine the possibilities that open up as a result. Per Smithsonian magazine, “On Monday, a group of researchers sponsored by Breakthrough Listen, the world’s largest program, submitted a paper to National Academy of Sciences’ Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey that makes the case for establishing a SETI radio observatory on the farside of the moon. The decadal survey establishes scientific priorities for the next ten years and the new paper addresses one of the biggest problems facing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence today: The overwhelming amount of radio interference.” Well, the moon is a satellite after all, isn’t it?

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