DAILY DOSE: Alzheimer’s research set back almost 20 years by scandal; Sustainable energy’s marginalized victims in Myanmar.


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Alzheimer’s research may have hit a disastrous bump in the road that will take years to fully play out and understand. The controversy revolves around the work done by an influential Alzheimer’s expert Sylvain Lesné of the University of Minnesota. According to reports, Lesné adjusted his data to suit his theory referred to as the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s. It maintains that that Aβ clumps, known as plaques, in brain tissue are a primary cause of the devastating illness, which afflicts tens of millions globally. Led by Matthew Schrag, a neuroscientist and physician at Vanderbilt University, scientists are now reexamining Lesné’s work and finding more and more examples of fabricated data. Per Science, “Early this year, Schrag raised his doubts with NIH and journals including Nature; two, including Nature last week, have published expressions of concern about papers by Lesné. Schrag’s work, done independently of Vanderbilt and its medical center, implies millions of federal dollars may have been misspent on the research—and much more on related efforts. Some Alzheimer’s experts now suspect Lesné’s studies have misdirected Alzheimer’s research for 16 years.” It’s difficult to grasp just how much harm he has done to the field. https://bit.ly/3dkGjlQ

China’s Covid-19-slowed economy is beginning to have real effects on new graduates in search of decent jobs. Per the Associated Press, “Liu Qian, job-hunting with a new master’s degree, said two employers interviewed her and then said the positions had been eliminated. Others asked her to take lower pay. She is one of 11 million new graduates desperate for work in a bleak job market as anti-virus controls force factories, restaurants and other employers to close. The survivors are cutting jobs and wages… There were almost two graduates competing for every job opening in the three months ending in June, up from 1.4 the previous quarter, according to the China Institute for Employment Research and Zhaopin.com, another job-hunting website.” It’s further proof that nobody is immune to the damaging economic realities that accompany Covid-19 outbreaks. https://bit.ly/3zOFUj3

Natural disasters are doing some real damage around the world. According to Reuters, “Torrential rains that have slammed South Korea’s capital, Seoul, diminished on Wednesday after killing at least nine people and damaging about 2,800 homes and other buildings. More rain was forecast for Wednesday, but less than the heavy downpours on Monday and Tuesday that submerged some streets and buildings, trapping people in flooded apartments and stranding cars.” https://reut.rs/3zOIhCu Meanwhile, Europe is being singed to the core by uncontrolled fires. Reuters is also reporting, “Wildfires raged in southwestern France on Tuesday, destroying sixteen houses, burning 6,000 hectares and forcing the evacuation of almost 6,000 people in an area already hit last month by huge blazes. France, like the rest of Europe, is coping with heatwaves and drought that have triggered multiple wildfires across the continent over the past two months.” https://reut.rs/3BQS1yW

While environmentally-minded people undoubtedly have the best intentions in mind when advocating for sustainable energy, they often look right past the uncomfortable aspects of the industry. Electric vehicles? Great but where does the electricity come from? Wind energy? What about the ecological impacts of the wind turbines? A special investigation by the Associated Press adds one more uncomfortable element. The effect mining for rare metals has on surrounding communities in Myanmar. According to the article, “The birds no longer sing, and the herbs no longer grow. The fish no longer swim in rivers that have turned a murky brown. The animals do not roam, and the cows are sometimes found dead. The people in this northern Myanmar forest have lost a way of life that goes back generations. But if they complain, they, too, face the threat of death. This forest is the source of several key metallic elements known as rare earths, often called the vitamins of the modern world. Rare earths now reach into the lives of almost everyone on the planet, turning up in everything from hard drives and cellphones to elevators and trains. They are especially vital to the fast-growing field of green energy, feeding wind turbines and electric car engines. And they end up in the supply chains of some of the most prominent companies in the world, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Tesla and Apple.” Depressing and disappointing, isn’t it? https://bit.ly/3Sz8Tjw

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

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