koala bear on a wood trunk

DAILY DOSE: Positive step toward eliminating racial guidelines in medicine; Secret colony of koalas found.

JUST SAY NO.

It’s no secret that the notion of “race” isn’t really a scientific thing. It’s a social construct. That’s why it is so frustrating that so many aspects of the sciences and, worse yet, medicine have guidelines based on race. Things have started to change recently but not quickly enough. Another race-based diagnostic guideline has been targeted for elimination. Per the Associated Press, “For years, pediatricians have followed flawed guidelines linking race to risks for urinary infections and newborn jaundice. In a new policy announced Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said it is putting all its guidance under the microscope to eliminate “race-based” medicine and resulting health disparities. A re-examination of AAP treatment recommendations that began before George Floyd’s 2020 death and intensified after it has doctors concerned that Black youngsters have been undertreated and overlooked, said Dr. Joseph Wright, lead author of the new policy and chief health equity officer at the University of Maryland’s medical system.” The big question is how do you reprogram the brains of thousands of health professionals who had implemented the faulty practices for their entire careers? https://bit.ly/3vBXhmh


NUCLEAR PHYSICISTS GET A SHINY, NEW TOY.

By the looks of things, Christmas is coming early for nuclear physicists. Per Nature, “After a decades-long wait, a US$942 million accelerator in Michigan is officially inaugurating on 2 May. Its experiments will chart unexplored regions of the landscape of exotic atomic nuclei and shed light on how stars and supernova explosions create most of the elements in the Universe. The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing had a budget of $730 million, most of it funded by the US Department of Energy, with a $94.5 million contribution from the state of Michigan. MSU contributed an additional $212 million in various ways, including the land.” FRIB replaces an earlier National Science Foundation accelerator, called the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), at the same site. Construction of FRIB started in 2014 and was completed late last year, “five months early and on budget”, says nuclear physicist Bradley Sherrill, who is FRIB’s science director. https://go.nature.com/3kBnR96


SELF-SUSTAINABLE WASTE CYCLING.

Ever since China announced that it would not be accepting other countries’ waste in 2017 Australia has had to make adjustments in its waste disposal practices. While the country has undergone some rough patches, when all is said and done, it looks like new initiatives will be sufficient. Per Channel News Asia, “The country is now racing to meet its target of having 100 per cent of Australian packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. It is also looking to raise recycling rates for plastic packaging to 70 per cent in the same timeframe. According to latest figures from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), which has been tasked by the government to deliver on the voluntary target, 86 per cent of Australian packaging were recyclable, compostable or reusable as of the country’s financial year 2019-2020. The non-profit is currently working with 2,200 members – representing about 20 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product – across more than 150 sectors including retail, food and beverage, and telecommunication to design packaging for circularity and expand markets for used packaging.” https://bit.ly/3LG8S9I


UNRELENTING HEAT.

The devastating heatwave enveloping India is placing serious stress on the nation’s infrastructure and is prompting New Delhi to take proactive steps to preserve its integrity. Per The Wire Science, “India is facing its worst electricity shortage in more than six years just as scorching temperatures force early closures of schools and send people indoors. Extreme heat parched large swathes of South Asia this week after India’s hottest March on record, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to warn of rising fire risks as the country heats up too much too soon. In the capital New Delhi, temperatures have soared past 40º C for several days and are forecast to linger around 44º C until Sunday, with peak summer heat still to come before cooling monsoon rains arrive in June.” https://bit.ly/3P5DDXV


WELCOME SURPRISE.

A bit of unexpected good news about koalas in Australia. Per the Australian Broadcasting Channel, “Two citizen scientists have photographed and named nearly 80 previously undocumented koalas on the southern outskirts of Sydney at Heathcote National Park, across the road from the more famous Royal National Park. The discovery has raised the possibility there could be more koala colonies out there.” Koalas are an endangered species in New South Wales, with the Koala Foundation estimating their numbers have declined by 41 per cent in the three years until 2021. Anything that adds to those numbers is obviously great news. https://ab.co/3MMAdqV

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


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