DAILY DOSE: Hong Kong struggles against Omicron; Cybersecurity needs more women involved.


A recent photo essay from Reuters documenting the current Covid-19 outbreak in Hong Kong features images eerily similar to the early day of the pandemic in other parts of the world, in particular in Elmhurst, New York. According to the introduction, “The fast-spreading omicron variant is overwhelming Hong Kong, prompting mass testing, quarantines, supermarket panic-buying and a shortage of hospital beds. Even the morgues are overflowing, forcing authorities to store bodies in refrigerated shipping containers. As the global death toll from the coronavirus topped 6 million this week, the semi-autonomous Chinese city has been recording about 150 deaths per day, giving it the world’s highest death rate per 1 million people, according to the Our World in Data website.” 8% of the city’s elderly population are fully vaccinated and that is driving the outbreak. https://bit.ly/360aL0W


A potentially groundbreaking surgery has been performed featuring a risky double-organ transplant. Per the BBC, “US doctors say a young boy called Easton has made medical history by becoming the first person in the world to receive a combined heart and thymus transplant. The pioneering procedure was done to save his life, but could also revolutionize the field of organ transplantation, they hope. The donated thymus tissue should help stop his body rejecting the new heart. Months on from the surgery, tests reveal Easton is progressing well.” Giving Easton cultured thymus tissue from the same donor who gave him a heart, potentially aided his body to adopt the new tissues. Easton was born with a weak heart as well as problems with his immune system. https://bbc.in/3KrX0XT


The race and gender gap in STEM is well established. There are, however, nuances. A recent opinion piece in the Globe and Mail explores the gender gap in cybersecurity and how the problem can be addressed. According to the op-ed, “To encourage young women to consider careers in sectors where they are underrepresented, we have to understand that stereotypes and biases about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) form early in life. We can flip negative stereotypes around by giving young girls opportunities to explore and develop their interests. We can engage them in STEM activities that help them develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. We can encourage them to develop hypotheses and analyze problems by figuring out how to break them down into manageable parts and identify which parts to tackle first. We can help them develop resilience so that, when they do experience a challenging situation, they won’t assume they are not “smart enough” and give up. Most of all, we can help them see STEM as something they can do that’s worthwhile doing both now and as a future career.” https://tgam.ca/3tMHfEm


When researchers do their graduate and professional work in a country where their native language is not the language of academia, it can be a problem. A researcher recounts how he learned how to speak English and write it at the level needed in order to publish in scientific journals. https://bit.ly/3IUU2uF


Researchers have identified an ancient creature that may have been the ancestor of modern day squids. Per Science, “Paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History and Yale University have studied the fossilized remains and named the unusual 10-armed creature in honor of U.S. President Joe Biden. The creature was about 12 centimeters long and had a torpedo-shaped body, with a pair of fins at one end that likely helped stabilize it as it swam. It also had an ink sack and 10 sucker-bearing arms, the scientists report today in Nature Communications. Two of the arms seem to be longer than the rest, similar to the two long tentacles that accompany the eight arms of modern-day squid. (Cephalopod arms have suckers throughout, which help them grasp prey, whereas tentacles only have suckers at the very end.)” https://bit.ly/3hRU4aC

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


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