DAILY DOSE: Conflicting monkeypox messaging; Searching for a cure to satellite pollution.

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NO CAUSE FOR ALARM...

For the time being, officials at the World Health Organization are playing down the dangers of the global monkeypox outbreak spiraling out of control. Per the Associated Press, “The World Health Organization’s top monkeypox expert said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to date to turn into another pandemic, but acknowledged there are still many unknowns about the disease, including how exactly it’s spreading and whether the suspension of mass smallpox immunization decades ago may somehow be speeding its transmission. In a public session on Monday, WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis said it was critical to emphasize that the vast majority of cases being seen in dozens of countries globally are in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, so that scientists can further study the issue. She urged those at risk to be careful. ‘It’s very important to describe this because it appears to be an increase in a mode of transmission that may have been under-recognized in the past,’ said Lewis.” Last week, WHO said 23 countries that haven’t previously had monkeypox have now reported more than 250 cases. On Monday, the U.K. announced another 71 monkeypox cases. https://bit.ly/3PLCHIx


… BUT A CAUSE FOR CONCERN.

An article in Nature takes a slightly more urgent view compared with the WHO’s. According to the article, “The situation has scientists on alert because the monkeypox virus has emerged in separate populations across multiple countries, and there is no obvious link between many of the clusters, raising the possibility of undetected, local transmission of the virus. ‘We need to act quickly and decisively, but there is still a lot to be learned,’ says Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than a decade.” Four questions, in particular, need to be answered in order to really understand what exactly is going on. How did the current outbreaks start? Can a genetic change in the virus explain the latest outbreaks? Can the outbreaks be contained? Is the virus spreading differently now compared with previous outbreaks? https://go.nature.com/38RxxtT


SCIENCE OF GUN VIOLENCE LAGGING.

Gun violence has become the number one cause of death among children in America who have lived past infancy. Science spoke with Rebecca Cunningham, an emergency room physician and gun violence researcher at the University of Michigan, about the state of gun violence research in the sciences. According to Cunningham, “The field of firearm injury prevention has grown a lot in the past couple of years. Three, four or five years ago, we had very few scientists studying this. People were so nervous — it was difficult to get scholars to be comfortable studying it. We now have a bubbling up of scholars pivoting their careers towards this pressing problem, and we’ve now had national conferences where scientists can come together and talk about the science of gun violence. From a scientific standpoint, I think there is hope and progress.” Since the mid-1990s, Congress has restricted the amount of money available to the CDC to research gun violence. If you’re looking for people to blame, that was during the Newt Gingrich led “Republican Revolution” that resulted in the Contract with America. https://bit.ly/3t45b6g


IF YOU BUILD IT, WE’LL MESS IT UP.

It’s been clear for a really long time that humans can just about ruin anything and everything on the planet. All you need to do is look around. Lately, it’s also become crystal clear that, given the opportunity, humans can pretty much ruin outer space just as efficiently. One of the early glaring examples is the trove of satellites orbiting the earth. Astronomers have been sounding the alarm about this for years and it has only gotten worse. Per Nature, “Scientists have made some progress in coping with the onslaught. For instance, within days the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will debut a website including tools to help telescope operators predict satellite locations so that they can point their instruments elsewhere. But accumulating evidence reveals just how much these satellite ‘megaconstellations’ will interfere with astronomical observatories and other skywatchers around the globe. And satellite companies have not yet found a solution. SpaceX had been trying to address the problem by putting sun-blocking shades on its Starlinks to dim their appearance in the night sky. But Nature has learnt that the company has stopped doing so.” You get the feeling SpaceX were just going through the motions so that they can say, “We tried!” https://go.nature.com/3x0b1Io

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

IMAGE CREDIT: M. Lewinsky (CC BY 2.0).


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