Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 14, 2020

in SteemSTEM2 years ago (edited)

A Steem photo-essay depicts and describes mason bees moving into their new bee board homes; An essay argues that herd immunity is not the solution to COVID-19; A rare ozone hole emerges over the arctic; Ransomware becomes more dangerous. Now they threaten to sell your data after stealing it; and Stephen Wolfram claims a path to a fundamental theory of physics


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  1. Steem @solominer: Exploring the bee boards - Macro Photography - In this post, the author includes pictures and descriptions of some Mason Bees and the homes that were built for them ("bee boards"). The bees will fill the holes in the bee boards from now until the fall, when the eggs will be harvested for next year. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @solominer.)

  2. Why simply waiting for herd immunity to covid-19 isn’t an option - Subtitle: Waiting for enough people to catch the coronavirus could take a very long time. - Points: (i) We don't know whether people who recover from the disease develop immunity; (ii) If so, we don't know how long the immunity lasts - it may be less than a year; (iii) We don't know how contagious the disease is, but estimates are that 1/2 to 3/4 of the population would need to catch it to develop herd immunity - which represents many deaths; (iv) We don't know what percentage of people have had the disease but exerienced no symptoms. Personally, I don't understand why someone hasn't tested a random sample of say, 5-10,000 people around the country to get a stronger handle on that last number. You don't need to test tremendously large numbers of tests if you have a good random sample.

  3. Rare ozone hole opens over Arctic — and it’s big - As a result of cold temperatures, an ozone hole forms over Antarctica every year during winter time. The phenomenon is rare, however, in the northern hemisphere. This year's temperatures over the arctic were the coldest since 1979, and resulted in the formation of a hole in the arctic ozone that was probably the largest on record. According to Martin Dameris, "this is the first time you can speak about a real ozone hole in the Arctic". Markus Rex notes that the hole is not dangerous "because the Sun is just starting to rise above the horizon in high latitudes". -h/t Daniel Lemire

  4. Ransomware Now Leaking Stolen Documents - Past versions of ransomware stopped at encrypting a user's data, and demanding a ransom to unlock it. Versions are emerging now that also ex-filtrate the data and threaten to sell it to third parties in order to create an additional incentive for the victim to pay the ransom.

  5. Finally We May Have a Path to the Fundamental Theory of Physics… - Stephen Wolfram is widely known for his pursuit of science through computation. In this essay, he discusses the history of his pursuits, starting with physics, moving on to computation, building the WolframAlpha website and symbolic Wolfram language. But, he says he always retained his interest in physics and suspected that all of physics could be described through a computational lower layer. That took a back seat to his other projects, however, until he was encouraged to pursue an idea by two physicists on his staff. As a result of this pursuit, in six months of research he believes that he has found a path to a unifying fundamental theory of physics by using graphs, transformation rules, and computations. He also claims that his work has already resulted in observations that may be experimentally testable. The post also announces the launch of his Physics Project and a related Livestreaming site where the research will be broadcast. From a few minutes watching today's livestream, it looks a lot like A New Kind of Science extended into more dimensions. More here - Stephen Wolfram Invites You to Solve Physics - Subtitle: His new initiative intends to crowdsource the pursuit of the discipline's holy grail: a fundamental theory of everything.

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