HAVE YOUR SAY.
We are proud to announce the inaugural session of The Bullpen, where the members of the Scientific Inquirer community get to shape the site’s editorial decision making. We’ll be discussing people and companies to profile on the site. On Wednesday June 8th at 5:30pm EST, join us on Discord and let’s build the best Scientific Inquirer possible.
ACTIVE AND READY TO BLOW.
Once again, an active volcano is threatening a portion of the Philippines. According to CNN Philippines, “Over 180 residents of a Sorsogon municipality were evacuated after Bulusan Volcano erupted over the weekend, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported. In an update sent to the media on Monday, a day after Bulusan spewed ash in a phreatic or steam-driven eruption, the NDRRMC said 180 residents, equivalent to 50 families, from Barangay Puting Sapa in the municipality of Juban have sought refuge in evacuation centers. The NDRRMC said residents had to be evacuated ‘due to the heavy ashfall and pungent odor from the ash in the area.’” The archipelago hosts a number of active volcanoes. The last minor eruption occurred in the Taal volcano which erupted on March 31, 2022. https://bit.ly/3MgEDWk
Following in Shanghai’s footsteps, parts of Beijing are beginning to emerge form Covid-19 mitigation strategies. According to the Associated Press, “Diners returned to restaurants in most of Beijing for the first time in more than a month Monday as authorities further eased pandemic-related restrictions after largely eradicating a small COVID-19 outbreak in the capital under China’s strict ‘zero-COVID’ approach. Museums, cinemas and gyms were allowed to operate at up to 75% of capacity and delivery drivers could once again bring packages to a customer’s door, rather than leave them to be picked up at the entrances to apartment compounds. The return to near-normal applied everywhere in Beijing except for one district and part of another, where the outbreak lingered. Schools, which partially reopened earlier, will fully do so on June 13, followed by kindergartens on June 20.” Needless to say, this is a welcome development. https://bit.ly/3NUVq2n
CHINA’S SPACE STATION CLOSE TO OFFICIALLY OPENING.
China is inching ever-so-close to officially opening its space station. According to AFP (by way of Hong Kong Free Press, “Three Chinese astronauts arrived at the country’s space station on Sunday, the Chinese space agency for human flights said, the latest stride in Beijing’s aim to become a major space power. The trio blasted off in a Long March-2F rocket at 0244 GMT from the Jiuquan launch centre in northwestern China’s Gobi desert, reported state broadcaster CCTV. The team is tasked with ‘completing in-orbit assembly and construction of the space station’, as well as ‘commissioning of equipment’ and conducting scientific experiments, state-run CGTN said Saturday. The astronauts entered the central module of the Tiangong station at around 1250 GMT, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said. The journey took about “seven hours of flight”, CCTV reported.” Tiangong, which means “heavenly palace”, is expected to become fully operational by the end of the year. https://bit.ly/3NmG3QD
AIMING FOR 2 FOR 2.
BioNTech has made public the data from a phase I trial for it mRNA cancer vaccine. Per Fierce Biotech, “A year and a half after debuting on the world stage with its Pfizer-partnered COVID vaccine, BioNTech wants to prove it’s not a one-hit wonder, touting early data of a pancreatic cancer vaccine combo that suggest a delay in tumor recurrence. Interim data for BioNTech’s individualized mRNA cancer vaccine called autogene cevumeran, in combination with Genetech’s Tecentriq and chemotherapy, showed that half of the treated patients posted a noticeable immune response, correlating with longer recurrence-free survival, according to a Sunday release.” The bite-sized sneak peek of the phase 1 trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference assessed 16 treated patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma following surgery. The data suggest increased recurrence-free survival was correlated to increases in neo-antigen-specific T-cell response.” It may not be the cure for cancer, but it’s a great tool for the toolbox. https://bit.ly/3zkyJRl
IMPROVING DANGEROUS ASTEROID DETECTION.
By now, most of our planet’s inhabitants are aware of the fact that we’re an asteroid hit away from extinction. Unfortunately, big space agencies such as NASA and ESA and handcuffed by numerous data collection issues. Inspired by this weakness, Ed Lu and Danica Remy of the Asteroid Institute started a new project to track as many of them as possible. According to Ars Technica, “Lu, a former NASA astronaut and executive director of the institute, led a team that developed a novel algorithm called THOR, which harnesses massive computing power to compare points of light seen in different images of the night sky, then matches them to piece together an individual asteroid’s path through the solar system. They’ve already discovered 104 asteroids with the system, according to an announcement they released on Tuesday.” https://bit.ly/3NqFO6V
SNAP, CRACKLE, POP OF THE OCEAN.
In a clear case of who-woulda-thunk it, researchers have discovered that coral reefs are pretty noisy. Per Reuters, “When a team of scientists listened to an audio clip recorded underwater off islands in central Indonesia, they heard what sounded like a campfire. Instead, it was a coral reef, teeming with life, according to a study scientists from British and Indonesian universities published last month, in which they used hundreds of such audio clips to train a computer programme to monitor the health of a coral reef by listening to it. A healthy reef has a complex “crackling, campfire-like” sound because of all the creatures living on and in it, while a degraded reef sounds more desolate, life sciences specialist and the team’s lead researcher Ben Williams said.” The artificial intelligence (AI) system parses data points such as the frequency and loudness of the sound from the audio clips. It can determine with at least 92% accuracy whether the reef is healthy or degraded. https://reut.rs/3xjYAqW
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.