Category Archives: Science

Farewell, Oppy

The Washington Post: Opportunity, NASA’s record-setting Mars rover, is declared dead after 15 years. “A eulogy for the spacecraft that transformed our understanding of the Red Planet.” By Sarah Kaplan.

Opportunity’s historic mission, which uncovered signs of Mars’s watery past and transformed our understanding of the Red Planet, has finally come to an end after 15 years, NASA declared Wednesday.

The cause was system failure precipitated by power loss during a catastrophic, planetwide dust storm that engulfed the Mars rover last summer.

“It’s going to be very sad to say goodbye,” said John Callas, the mission’s project manager. “But at the same time, we’ve got to remember this has been 15 years of incredible adventure.”

Opportunity’s mission was planned to last just 90 days, but it worked for 5,000 Martian “sols” (which are about 39 minutes longer than an Earth day) and traversed more than 28 treacherous miles — two records for NASA.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“North is on the move”

NPR Science: As Magnetic North Pole Zooms Toward Siberia, Scientists Update World Magnetic Model.

“North is on the move, and that’s a problem for your smartphone’s maps.

Earth’s geographic north pole is fixed. But the planet’s magnetic north pole — the north that your compass points toward — wanders in the direction of Siberia at a rate of more than 34 miles per year.

That movement may seem slow, but it has forced scientists to update their model of Earth’s magnetic field a year earlier than expected so that navigational services, including map-based phone apps, continue to work accurately.”

NPR: The North Magnetic Pole Is Shifting East, Fast. “NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Nature reporter Alex Witze about a rapid shift in the Earth’s magnetic poles.”

“If the answer here doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.”

3Blue1Brown: The most unexpected answer to a counting puzzle and So why do colliding blocks compute pi? and How colliding blocks act like a beam of light…to compute pi. (YouTube, 5:12min and 15:15min and 14:40min)

The connection between the initial experiment and the calculation of π is surprising, and finding two different solutions in physics is even more astounding. The videos are extremely well done, and the presentation helps a lot with understanding the mathematical manipulations.

Mind. Blown.

Link via Futility Closet.

Vaccinate!

BBC News: Parents’ vaccine side effects fear ‘fuelled by social media’.

“Fear of a vaccine’s side effects is the top reason for people refusing them, a report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) suggests.
Among parents, this was fuelled by social media, with up to half exposed to negative messages about vaccines.
The Society’s report called for social media platforms and the press to do more to combat “fake news”.
Millions of lives have been saved through vaccination, and side effects are rare, it said.
“The spread of misinformation – if it impacts uptake of vaccines – could severely damage the public’s health,” said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH.
England’s chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies recently said parents should ignore myths spread by anti-vaccine campaigners and get their children vaccinated.”

Sehe gerade, dass der Kinderdok mir zustimmt: Impfgegner sind eine Bedrohung für die Globale Gesundheit.

Impfen!

Deutsche Welle: WHO warnt vor Impfmüdigkeit. “Mangelnde Impfbereitschaft zählt laut der Weltgesundheitsorganisation zu den zehn größten Bedrohungen der Weltgesundheit. Die Folgen lassen sich schon heute beobachten.”

“Welchen Folgen das haben könne, zeige das Beispiel Masern: Weltweit sei die Zahl der Fälle im Jahr 2017 um 30 Prozent im Vergleich zum Vorjahr angestiegen. Auch in einigen Ländern, die bereits kurz vor der Ausrottung der Krankheit gestanden hätten, gebe es wieder mehr Fälle. Zu einem Anstieg der Masern-Fälle kam es zuletzt auch in der WHO-Region Europa: Dort seien im gesamten Jahr 2017 knapp 24.000 Menschen erkrankt – 2016 waren es nur 5273, also weniger als ein Viertel. In Deutschland gab es 2017 rund 1000 Masernfälle. Ein Mensch starb, rund 40 Prozent der Erkrankten mussten stationär behandelt werden. Eigentlich sollten die Masern in der Bundesrepublik bis 2020 komplett ausgerottet werden.”

Jede(r) sollte bedenken, dass man sich nicht nur für sich selbst impfen lässt (bzw. die Kinder für sich), sondern dass man auch durch jede Impfung diejenigen in der Bevölkerung mit schützt, die nicht geimpft werden können, z. B. Neugeborene, Menschen mit geschwächtem Immunsystem und alte Menschen.