people wearing diy masks

DAILY DOSE: Public health officials fear U.S. not ready for next Covid-19 wave; China’s interplanetary ambitions are widening.

As the world enters year 3 of the Covid-19 pandemic, one question that’s always lingering somewhere in the not-so-distant background is: how many times can governments be caught with their pants down during the early days of new waves. Public health officials in the United States are beginning to worry about how the country will deal with a new wave which is seeming more likely with each passing day. Per the Associated Press, “As coronavirus infections rise in some parts of the world, experts are watching for a potential new COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — and wondering how long it will take to detect. Despite disease monitoring improvements over the last two years, they say, some recent developments don’t bode well: As more people take rapid COVID-19 tests at home, fewer people are getting the gold-standard tests that the government relies on for case counts; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon use fewer labs to look for new variants. Health officials are increasingly focusing on hospital admissions, which rise only after a surge has arrived; A wastewater surveillance program remains a patchwork that cannot yet be counted on for the data needed to understand coming surges.” Let’s just say it out loud. Things don’t look good.

A recent whitepaper published by the Chinese Space Agency has outlined their future interplanetary exploration strategy. Venus figures significantly in the document. Per, “China is considering adding a mission to Venus to its plans for planetary exploration, according to a senior Chinese space official… Though these were not named, China revealed in a recent space white paper that it plans to launch a mission that will sample an asteroid and visit a comet, a Mars sample-return mission and a probe to explore the Jupiter system. Wu added that China is also considering adding Venus to its targets for exploration in the interview, which was published March 7.” The agency has clearly hit its stride and is looking to capitalize on the momentum the successful launch and operation of their Mars cruiser has created.

If you’ve ever ventured outside of urban areas in developing countries, you become acutely aware that people still cook over wooden fires on a daily basis. Cumulatively, this wreaks havoc on the environment and breathing air. Now, a new sustainable solar powered oven hopes to break the deforestation-wood-charcoal cycle. Per the Frontiers In Blog, “A new design for a solar cooking system may help rural communities prepare food more sustainably, reports a new study. The materials used in this system should be easily accessible for people in places where there are few options besides burning wood or coal. Engineers in Nigeria have developed an improved solar cooking system that is designed to replace cooking over fires made with coal, wood, or other materials, reports a new study in Frontiers in Energy Research. There are still many parts of the world where people cook directly over such fires, which is damaging for the environment as well as the local community’s health. This new approach combines two conventional solar oven designs and aims to provide a cleaner and healthier alternative.”

There’s some freaky s*** out in the universe. One of the most mysterious and tantalizing objects in space are odd radio circles. Recently, star-gazing scientists spotted one. Per Nature, “Astronomers have captured a close-up image of a rare and mysterious space object, prompting a renewed push to discover its origin. Odd radio circles (ORCs) are gigantic rings of radio waves. Only five have ever been sighted, and never in such spectacular detail. The image of ORC J2103-6200, also called ORC1, was captured by the high-resolution MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, which has given researchers unprecedented information about these rare phenomena. Details are reported in a preprint, posted on the arXiv this week, and will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.”

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

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