DAILY DOSE: West Coast megadrought is entering a new phase of seriousness; Company that wants to mine the moon goes public.


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If you weren’t aware of just how serious the drought on the U.S. West Coast actually is, look no further than Lake Powell which is now under threat. Per CNN

Upstream reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin might not have enough water to keep Lake Powell above a critical threshold indefinitely, federal officials have warned in recent weeks, as the West's ongoing megadrought saps water from across the West.

The Flaming Gorge reservoir on the Green River, which this year is releasing a huge amount of water downstream to help Lake Powell, may only have enough water left for two more similar emergency releases, US Bureau of Reclamation officials told CNN, though they have yet to fully model the situation.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Wyoming, on the Green River, impounded behind the Flaming Gorge Dam. Construction on the dam began in 1958 and was completed in 1964. The reservoir stores 3,788,900 acre-feet (4.6735×109 m3) of water when measured at an elevation of 6,040 feet (1,841 m) above sea-level (maximum). https://cnn.it/3QNLglo


There is positive news coming out of Jackson, Mississippi which had been experiencing truly terrible water system conditions in recent weeks. According to the Associated Press,

After nearly seven weeks of being forced to boil their water before drinking it or using it to brush teeth, people in Mississippi’s largest city were told Thursday that water from the tap is safe to consume — but Jackson’s water system still needs big repairs that the mayor says the cash-strapped city cannot afford on its own.

Gov. Tate Reeves and Jackson officials said in separate announcements that the state health department lifted a boil-water notice that had been in place since July 29 in the city of 150,000.

“We have restored clean water to the city of Jackson,” Reeves said during a news conference.

America’s infrastructure is old, creaky, and has been neglected in many places. It’s hard to imagine that Jackson, Mississippi is the only city with water system issues. https://bit.ly/3RRb2WX


The World Health Organization has withdrawn its endorsement of two early Covid-19 antibody therapies, reflecting the rapid evolution of Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease. According to Reuters,

“Two COVID-19 antibody therapies are no longer recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), on the basis that Omicron and the variant's latest offshoots have likely rendered them obsolete.

The two therapies - which are designed to work by binding to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 to neutralise the virus' ability to infect cells - were some of the first medicines developed early in the pandemic.

The virus has since evolved, and mounting evidence from lab tests suggests the two therapies - sotrovimab as well as casirivimab-imdevimab - have limited clinical activity against the latest iterations of the virus. As a result, they have also fallen out of favour with the U.S. health regulator.

On Thursday, WHO experts said they strongly advised against the use of the two therapies in patients with COVID-19, reversing previous conditional recommendations endorsing them, as part of a suite of recommendations published in the British Medical Journal.”

This won’t be the last time public health officials adjust therapy and maybe even vaccine recommendations with regards to Covid-19. It doesn’t mean that they’re wrong or part of a conspiracy. It just means that the virus is changing or our understanding of Sars-CoV-2. That’s how science works. It’s called being nimble and it’s a good thing. https://reut.rs/3eJHaNB


Doctors may have terrible reputations when it comes to people skills. Sometimes, it’s pretty well deserved. I’d put them up there with post office and Department of Motor Vehicles workers. That said, trust in doctors is generally pretty high. That’s why the news that one may be responsible for murdering patients is so jarring. Per the AP,

A Dallas anesthesiologist was arrested on charges alleging that he injected nerve-blocking agents and other drugs into bags of intravenous fluids at the surgical center where he works, which led to the death of a co-worker and caused cardiac emergencies for several patients, authorities announced Thursday.

Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr. was arrested Wednesday on a criminal complaint alleging that he tampered with a consumer product causing death and intentional drug adulteration, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office for the northern district of Texas. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Ortiz, 59, remained in the Dallas County jail without bond on Thursday. Records don’t list an attorney for him.

Truly disturbing. https://bit.ly/3Uj9maD


If you had any doubt that mining the moon is something that will happen, take a look at what’s happening with Intuitive Machines. They’ve moved past early-round fundraising and are looking to take its place with the big boys. They’re going public, albeit through the back door, aka through a SPAC. Per CNBC,

Lunar-focused space company Intuitive Machines announced Friday it will go public via a SPAC, in a deal that values the venture at about $1 billion.

The merger with special purpose acquisition company Inflection Point

 is expected to close in the first quarter. Intuitive Machines will be listed on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol “LUNR.”

The first mission, known as IM-1, is slated for the first quarter of 2023 and would deliver a combination of science and technology payloads to the moon’s surface with the company’s Nova-C lunar lander. Intuitive plans to fly the cargo flights to the moon annually, via contracts with SpaceX to launch with Falcon 9 rockets.

This move by the company is clearly aimed at shoring up the resources to begin commercial resource extraction from the moon. https://cnb.cx/3qMhseh


Speaking of moons, a new theory explaining the origin of Saturn’s rings suggests a missing ancient moon may be responsible for the presence of the planet’s famed rings. Per Science,

The rings of Saturn are lovely to look at but a colossal headache to explain. Now, planetary scientists have come up with a new theory about their origin. About 160 million years ago, they say, an icy moon was ripped apart when its orbit brought it too close to the planet. The lost moon, which they call Chrysalis, may also help explain the evolution of Saturn’s oddly tilted axis of rotation.

Other researchers are intrigued, but not convinced. The finding “opens a new window about the origin of the rings of Saturn,” says Maryame El Moutamid, a planetary dynamicist at Cornell University who wrote a companion piece explaining its significance. “I think it’s a good explanation, but I will stay agnostic about it.” Luke Dones, a planetary dynamicist at the Southwest Research Institute, says the study is “clever” but also has some reservations about it. “I’m not sure how you would test this idea,” he says.

Not being able to test the veracity of a theory is a big problem in science. https://bit.ly/3Beiepa

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Let’s be careful out there.

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