DAILY DOSE: A winter wonderland on Mars; The man who went against the scientific “consensus” and won a Nobel Prize.


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With Beijing deciding to essentially let Covid-19 infections rip through the country, new cases have exploded. No surprise there. However, in response to the trend, other countries who have managed to control their infections to acceptable levels (subjective) are now imposing restrictions on potential Chinese travelers. Per the BBC,

The US is considering imposing new Covid restrictions on Chinese arrivals, after Beijing announced it would reopen its borders next month.

American officials say this is due to a lack of transparency surrounding the virus in China, as cases surge.

Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan - worried at importing Covid cases - have already outlined tighter measures for Chinese travellers, including negative tests.

Beijing has said Covid rules should be brought in on a "scientific" basis.

India is also stepping up measures for Chinese arrivals, but this was announced before Beijing said it would relax its strict border policy.

Passport applications for Chinese citizens wishing to travel internationally will resume from 8 January, the country's immigration authorities have said.

Travel sites have reported a spike in traffic, leaving some countries fearful over the potential spread of Covid.

With Covid-19 cases still pretty high in the U.S., the move smacks of politics. https://bbc.in/3I7ZWeh

A destructive flood ripped through the Philippines at the worst time, during Christmas. So far 30 people are missing. According to CNN Philippines,

The death toll from the Christmas weekend downpours and flooding that affected parts of Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon has risen to 29, disaster response officials said on Wednesday night.

According to the 6 p.m. report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), only four of the 29 casualties have been verified, and three of these were in Eastern Visayas and one in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The NDRRMC also reported that 10 people were injured and 25 were missing.

Diego Agustin Mariano, head of the Office of Civil Defense Joint Information Center, told CNN Philippines that most of those missing are fishermen from Bicol and Eastern Visayas.

Numbers are expected to rise in the coming days. https://bit.ly/3jqhtE6

Here on Earth, winter snow makes for some picturesque scenes. Images beamed from Mars show that Martian winters are no slouch either. An article in CNN has some striking images from the red planet.

Mars may seem like a dry, desolate place, but the red planet transforms into an otherworldly wonderland in winter, according to a new video shared by NASA.

It’s late winter in Mars’ Northern Hemisphere, where the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter are exploring an ancient river delta that once fed into Jezero Crater billions of years ago.

As the planet’s main feature, dust also drives Martian weather. Dust usually heralds winter’s arrival, but the planet is no stranger to snow, ice and frost. At the Martian poles, the temperature can dip as low as minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 123 degrees Celsius).

There are two types of snow on Mars. One is the kind we experience on Earth, made of frozen water. The thin Martian air and subzero temperatures mean that traditional snow sublimates, or transitions from a solid directly to a gas, before touching the ground on Mars.

If there was a massive, gaudy tree with tons of tinsel and lights on it, I’d be really impressed. https://bit.ly/3Wt6dFD

While science seems to be all about the “consensus” these days, it’s always interesting to note that the really game changing discoveries and advances came when people go against the grain and against the agreed upon consensus. Nobel Prize winner John F. Clauser is a perfect example. An article in space.com chronicles the fortitude he possessed to continue his research undeterred by the naysayers.

In his 1964 article, Bell argued that it was possible to experimentally test whether quantum mechanics failed in describing such elements of reality. He called these unaccounted-for elements "hidden variables."

In particular, Bell had local variables in mind. This means that they only affect the physical setup in their immediate vicinity. As Clauser explained, "If you put stuff locally in a box and make a measurement in another box very far away, the experimental parameter choices made in one box can't affect the experimental results in the other box, and vice versa."

Clauser decided to test Bell's proposal. But when he wanted to do the experiment, his advisor urged him to reconsider. 

"The hardest part initially was to get the opportunity," Clauser recalled. "Everybody was telling me that it was not possible, why bother!"

Of course, he was right and all those physicists who agreed with each other were dead-wrong. Consensus has a synonym with less positive connotations – group think. https://bit.ly/3Go4Vq1

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


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