DAILY DOSE: Technology guides discovery of forgotten African-American burial grounds; Scientists gone wild!


Beijing’s struggle against an outbreak of Covid-19 continues. In what may be an omen of things to come, the government has locked down some cities or at least imposed strict restrictions on others. Per the Associated Press, “Chinese authorities on Tuesday tightened anti-virus controls at ports, raising the risk of trade disruptions after some auto and electronics factories shut down as the government fights coronavirus outbreaks. Stock prices in China and Hong Kong sank for a second day following the shutdown on Monday of Shenzhen, a tech and finance hub adjacent to Hong Kong in the south, and Changchun, an auto center in the northeast. Bus service to Shanghai, China’s business capital and biggest city, was suspended… The restrictions come at a time when the global economy is under pressure from Russia’s war on Ukraine, surging oil prices and weak consumer demand.” Beijing has stuck to its Zero-Covid guns. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts. https://bit.ly/3tWZAOU


The standoff between U.S. and Russian space agencies appears to be resolved, at least for the time being. The Russian Space Agency hinted that it is willing to shuttle the NASA astronaut currently in the International Space Station back to earth. Per the Guardian, “The US astronaut Mark Vande Hei has made it through nearly a year in space, but now faces what could be his trickiest assignment: riding a Russian capsule back to Earth in the midst of deepening tension between the two countries. Nasa insists Vande Hei’s homecoming at the end of the month remains unchanged, even as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in canceled launches, broken contracts and an escalating war of words from the leader of the Russian Space Agency. Many worry Dmitry Rogozin is putting decades of peaceful partnership at risk, most notably at the International Space Station (ISS).” https://bit.ly/3Ide3eA


Technology has provided researchers in a wide variety of fields – from science to the Arts – with opportunities unimaginable in the past. A recent blog post for the Getty Museum and Foundation discusses how an open source tech platform has made it easier to discover and document African-American cemeteries, many of which are in danger of being forgotten. According to the post, “Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), an organization working to protect and preserve the state’s heritage sites, including many African American cemeteries and burial grounds… ‘To document cemeteries and other heritage sites, FPAN is using Arches, a free, open-source software platform developed by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund. Organizations around the world, including the Maritime Asia Heritage Survey and Maritime Endangered Archaeology project, have independently implemented Arches to help track the condition of cultural heritage places and manage related data.’” https://bit.ly/3MRSrb9


There’s a common image people have of scientists. One is of the Mad Scientist, who will stop at nothing to a scientific goal. The other is of a stoic researcher plastered onto a lab bench in perpetuity, who interacts with other scientists with genteel restraint. Neither is true, particularly the latter. A recent controversy with the pre-print server arXiv regarding the rejection of certain superconductivity papers allows people to get an inside view of how science works, warts and all. Per Science, “To some other scientists, arXiv’s ban and removal of papers amount to stifling scientific debate. ‘The scientists that care about the issue and have the expertise to evaluate the arguments on both sides should be allowed to do so by accessing the preprints in question,’ Nigel Goldenfeld, a physicist at UCSD, wrote in an email to a wide range of physicists last week. ‘The alternative is that for cases such as this, we’ll return to the pre-arXiv days when the science of the day is discussed in privately circulated preprints that are not accessible to the wider community.’ Daniel Arovas, another UCSD physicist, agreed: ‘Squelching what is essentially a purely scientific exchange—even one where the respective parties engage in some distasteful accusations—is highly problematic.’” https://bit.ly/3q6KVzL

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

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