DAILY DOSE: Fear and loathing in the Ukraine; A stunning Neolithic discovery.


This post is actually a few days old but remains relevant, considering the recent events in Ukraine. Per Nature, “As Ukraine braces for the possibility of an imminent invasion by Russia, several Ukrainian scientists have told Nature that they and their colleagues are taking measures to protect themselves and their work, including gathering items for self-defence and preparing to flee. The escalating tensions come eight years after a revolution that pushed Ukraine to cut ties with Russia — including those related to research — and forge closer links with the European Union. Researchers fear that fresh conflict will plunge Ukraine into turmoil and halt the progress that it has since made in science.” Researchers have much to lose in this brewing conflict. During the height of the Cold War, the scientific exchange between Western European/North American science and Soviet-bloc countries dwindled to a trickle. https://go.nature.com/3t3cgDy


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected just about every facet of life. In the United States, it has worsened an already bleak situation regarding pregnancies. Per the Associated Press, “Pregnancy-related deaths for U.S. mothers climbed higher in the pandemic’s first year, continuing a decades-long trend that disproportionately affects Black people, according to a government report released Wednesday. Overall in 2020, there were almost 24 deaths per 100,000 births, or 861 deaths total — numbers that reflect mothers dying during pregnancy, childbirth or the year after. The rate was 20 per 100,000 in 2019.” The U.S. suffers from staggering pregnancy/infant mortality rates for a developed country. https://bit.ly/3sbyrId


The Japan Times has an op-ed that issues a start warning that international data sharing regarding pathogens must improve and should they not, disasters like the current Covid-19 pandemic can and probably will happen again. According to the article, “COVID-19 has shown us that there are a lot of things beyond our control, but we do have agency today to shape the world we’ll be when we face the next pandemic. As we build back better, we must not neglect the global risk of the inadequate implementation of a global agreement inked in Japan in 2010. The Nagoya Protocol unintentionally could become a major barrier to the international sharing of pathogen information required to quickly mobilize against infectious diseases with pandemic potential. As governments rally for the upcoming World Health Assembly in May this year, a draft for future pandemic preparedness response is being drawn up. This offers ministers of health the opportunity to remove any wiggle room for the Nagoya Protocol to hinder sharing of pathogens and ensure the scientific community can seamlessly collaborate in developing future treatments and vaccines for whatever new viruses come our way.” https://bit.ly/3hf1TGY


Cambodia has moved forward with vaccinating toddlers making it one of the first countries to do so. According to Channel News Asia, “Cambodia started vaccinating children as young as three against COVID-19 on Wednesday, becoming one of the first countries to cover the age group of those below five. The Southeast Asian nation has vaccinated more than 90 per cent of its population of 16 million, for one of the highest rates in the region, official data show. In January, it started rolling out a fourth dose for high-risk groups.” We’re waiting for more countries to follow suit. https://bit.ly/3LUGmld


Anyone who has used Twitter or Facebook or any other form of social media knows that there’s a ton of science disinformation in circulation. Sometimes, fake science facts can be harmful. Science spoke with an influential researcher/influencer about the dark side of space disinformation. According to the article’s introduction “Last week, at the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science, Mack discussed space and physics disinformation—and how it can erode trust in science. She sat down with Science to chat about common space falsehoods, how silly pictures can lead to conspiracy theories, and how to spot something fake before you share it.” https://bit.ly/35ofjOx


If you managed to catch the compelling documentary Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb on Netflix, you know that every now and again, archaeologists get really lucky and discover entire sites intact. The most recent discovery brings researchers right to the cusp of the Neolithic Age. Per Al-Jazeera, “A team of Jordanian and French archaeologists says it found a nearly 9,000-year-old shrine at a remote Neolithic site in Jordan’s eastern desert. The ritual complex was found in a Neolithic campsite near large structures known as “desert kites”, or mass traps, that are believed to have been used to corral wild gazelles for slaughter. Such traps consist of two or more long stone walls that converge towards an enclosure and can be found scattered across the deserts of the Middle East. ‘The site is unique, first because of its preservation state,” said Jordanian archaeologist Wael Abu-Azziza, co-director of the project. “It’s 9,000 years old and everything was almost intact.’” Technological advances have made it possible to identify new sites that offer promising digs. https://bit.ly/3BMwwgp

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