low angle photo of nuclear power plant buildings emtting smoke

DAILY DOSE: Nuclear disaster in Ukraine averted; The environmental catastrophe called war.


For all the people indifferent to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, a battle for one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants offers a stark reminder that events can directly affect them no matter where they are in the world. Per the Associated Press, “Ukrainian firefighters on Friday extinguished a blaze at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant that was ignited by a Russian attack and no radiation was released, U.N. and Ukrainian officials said, as Russian forces pressed their campaign to cripple the country despite global condemnation… The head of the United Nations’ atomic agency said that a Russian “projectile” hit a training center at the Zaporizhzhia plant. Ukrainian officials have said Russian troops took control of the overall site, but the plant’s staff are continuing to ensure its operations. International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi sad that Russian forces were at the plant, but the Ukrainians were in control.” Ukraine’s state nuclear plant operator Enerhoatom reported that three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two wounded in the attack. In addition, two people were injured in the blaze that broke out. https://bit.ly/3pYDBGn


The nuclear scare at the power plant highlights the environmental dangers of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. It’s been a long time brewing, however. Per Wired, “Since 2014, when Russia’s annexation of Crimea sparked fighting in the Donbas, the region has been the site of a parallel ecological catastrophe. It involves not only the mines, but toxic leaks from industrial facilities that have fallen into disuse and contamination caused by shelling and munitions. That’s partly due to the chaos of a drawn-out war: In a contested region, who should bear the costs of pumping groundwater out of abandoned mines? At other times, the environment has been wielded as a weapon of war, such as when militants shelled chlorine stocks at a wastewater plant, threatening to ruin the local water supply.” The sooner the conflict ends, the better for so many reasons. https://bit.ly/3HFON0w


Shifting gears a bit, the largest “time crystal” has been created thanks to some great minds and high-powered computing. Per Science, “Physicists in Australia have programmed a quantum computer half a world away to make, or at least simulate, a record-size time crystal—a system of quantum particles that locks into a perpetual cycle in time, somewhat akin to the repeating spatial pattern of atoms in an actual crystal. The new time crystal comprises 57 quantum particles, more than twice the size of a 20-particle time crystal simulated last year by scientists at Google. That’s so big that no conventional computer could simulate it, says Chetan Nayak, a condensed matter physicist at Microsoft, who was not involved in the work.” While time crystals are not actual, physical objects, they sure sound like something straight out of science fiction.  https://bit.ly/3KaSxsg


The pharmaceutical company and the family that owns it keeps getting hit for the major role they played in creating the Opioid Crisis in America. Per the Associated Press, “OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reached a settlement Thursday over its role in the nation’s deadly opioid crisis that includes U.S. states and thousands of local governments, with the Sackler family members who own the company boosting their cash contribution to as much as $6 billion.” Keep it coming. They deserve every hit they get. https://bit.ly/36VSeTT


Purdue Pharma aside, the biotech/pharmaceutical industry continue to make important discoveries in developing new therapies using cutting edge technology. Per The Scientist, “For the first time, researchers successfully disabled a gene in human patients by treating them with CRISPR gene editing technology, clearing patients’ blood of a toxic protein for some patients by as much as 93 percent up to six months after the initial treatment… ‘It is quite remarkable that this first [intravenous] CRISPR-based gene-editing effort has been so successful,’ gene therapy researcher Terence Flotte of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who was not involved with the study, tells Science. ‘This demonstrates great potential for the power of this platform clinically.’” Credit where credit is due. https://bit.ly/3tsYkTA

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

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