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The Daily Dose: Homeschooling has boomed as a result of the pandemic; Searching for any and all signs of extraterrestrial life.

In news that will undoubtedly excite extraterretrial watchers, a new project is set to search the solar system for signs of life. According to Science, astrophysicist Avi Loeb is optimistic about the chances of finding clues. “The effort will use existing and new telescopes to systematically look for mysterious artifacts that could be satellites hiding in Earth orbit, interstellar objects—whether natural or manufactured—and even unexplained craft in Earth’s atmosphere. ‘It doesn’t really matter if it’s a natural artifact or a relic. If we look, we will find something new,’ Loeb says.”

In a still another example of unintended consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns, more Americans are choosing to homeschool their children compared with prior to the pandemic. Per the Associated Press, “The surge has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier. Black households saw the largest jump; their homeschooling rate rose from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.”

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter Southeast Asia, there are signs that social unrest may be a stone’s throw away. Per Al-Jazeera, “Malaysia is under increasing strain from an unrelenting surge in the coronavirus, with parliament to convene on Monday after a months-long hiatus and lockdown during which cases and deaths have only worsened, pushing overworked healthcare workers to strike. The country reported a record 17,045 cases and 92 deaths on Sunday, increasing pressure on the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, which in January declared an ‘emergency’ saying COVID-19 had brought the country to ‘breaking point’.” A similar situation is unfolding in Indonesia where Prime Ministery Joko Widodo is coming under increasing criticism that the pandemic has not been taken seriously.

With China’s space station in orbit and open for business, Earth-bound scientists are lining up to have their experiments included in the space lab’s ledgers. Per Nature, “China launched the core of its space station in April, and sent three astronauts up in June. But although the space station probably won’t be complete until late 2022, there is already a long queue of experiments from across the world waiting to go up. Scientists in China told Nature that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has tentatively approved more than 1,000 experiments, several of which have already been launched.” Having more functional space stations is definitely a good thing.

With all the attention being given to COVID-19 (rightly so), it’s easy to forget that there are other deadly diseases out there. HIV/AIDS is still circulating and continues to exact a toll in poorer regions around the world. Children, in particular, continue to suffer as a result of the diseae. An op-ed in STAT suggests ways in which children can be protected or cared for. Per STAT, “The final progress report on the “Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free” initiative just released by our organizations, UNAIDS (B.W.), and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (C.L.), and partners, offers a grim look at HIV and children. Approximately 1.7 million children are currently living with HIV. Every week nearly 2,000 of them die and 5,900 children and adolescents are newly infected with the virus. Only 54% of children living with HIV have access to the treatment that will save their lives. Although children accounted for just 5% of people living with HIV in 2020, they represented 15% of all AIDS-related deaths. Almost 90% of all children living with HIV globally are located in Africa.” Find the children. Help children access lifesaving treatment. Focus on prevention. Address structural barriers for women at the community level.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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