‘You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.’ –Seneca

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Amid all the fighting in your airways, messenger cells grab small fragments of virus and carry these to the lymph nodes, where highly specialized white blood cells—T-cells—are waiting. The T-cells are selective and preprogrammed defenders. Each is built a little differently, and comes ready-made to attack just a few of the zillion pathogens that could possibly exist. For any new virus, you probably have a T-cell somewhere that could theoretically fight it. Your body just has to find and mobilize that cell. Picture the lymph nodes as bars full of grizzled T-cell mercenaries, each of which has just one type of target they’re prepared to fight. The messenger cell bursts in with a grainy photo, showing it to each mercenary in turn, asking: Is this your guy? When a match is found, the relevant merc arms up and clones itself into an entire battalion, which marches off to the airways.

Some T-cells are killers, which blow up the infected respiratory cells in which viruses are hiding. Others are helpers, which boost the rest of the immune system. Among their beneficiaries, these helper T-cells activate the B-cells that produce antibodies—small molecules that can neutralize viruses by gumming up the structures they use to latch on to their hosts. Roughly speaking—and this will be important later—antibodies mop up the viruses that are floating around outside our cells, while T-cells kill the ones that have already worked their way inside. T-cells do demolition; antibodies do cleanup.

Both T-cells and antibodies are part of the adaptive immune system. This branch is more precise than the innate branch, but much slower: Finding and activating the right cells can take several days. It’s also long-lasting: Unlike the innate branch of the immune system, the adaptive one has memory.

After the virus is cleared, most of the mobilized T-cell and B-cell forces stand down and die off. But a small fraction remain on retainer—veterans of the COVID-19 war of 2020, bunkered within your organs and patrolling your bloodstream. This is the third and final phase of the immune response: Keep a few of the specialists on tap. If the same virus attacks again, these “memory cells” can spring into action and launch the adaptive branch of the immune system without the usual days-long delay. […]

Many infected people still clear the virus after a few weeks of nasty symptoms. But others don’t. Maybe they initially inhaled a large dose of virus. Maybe their innate immune systems were already weakened through old age or chronic disease. In some cases, the adaptive immune system also underperforms: T-cells mobilize, but their levels recede before the virus is vanquished, “almost causing an immunosuppressed state,” Iwasaki says. […]

There are also preliminary hints that some people might have a degree of preexisting immunity against the new coronavirus. Four independent groups of scientists—based in the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore—have now found that 20 to 50 percent of people who were never exposed to SARS-CoV-2 nonetheless have significant numbers of T-cells that can recognize it. These “cross-reactive” cells likely emerged when their owners were infected by other, related coronaviruses, including the four mild ones that cause a third of common colds, and the many that infect other animals.

But Farber cautions that having these cross-reactive T-cells “tells you absolutely nothing about protection.” It’s intuitive to think they would be protective, but immunology is where intuition goes to die. The T-cells might do nothing. There’s an outside chance that they could predispose people to more severe disease. We can’t know for sure without recruiting lots of volunteers, checking their T-cell levels, and following them over a long period of time to see who gets infected—and how badly.

Even if the cross-reactive cells are beneficial, remember that T-cells act by blowing up infected cells. As such, they’re unlikely to stop people from getting infected in the first place, but might reduce the severity of those infections.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

d.jpgFox found with impressive shoe collection in Berlin

scientists solve mystery behind body odour, trace the source of underarm aromas to a particular enzyme in a certain microbe that lives in the human armpit

For centuries, people have described unusual animal behavior just ahead of seismic events: dogs barking incessantly, cows halting their milk, toads leaping from ponds.Now researchers say they have managed to precisely measure increased activity in a group of farm animals prior to seismic activity.

Some scientists are taking a DIY coronavirus vaccine, and nobody knows if it’s legal or if it works

Covid-19 vaccines appear to be “reactogenic,” meaning they have induced short-term discomfort in a percentage of the people who have received them in clinical trials. This kind of discomfort includes headache, sore arms, fatigue, chills, and fever.

The bill included $9,736 per day for the intensive care room , nearly $409,000 for its transformation into a sterile room for 42 days, $82,000 for the use of a ventilator for 29 days, and nearly $100,000 for two days when he appeared to be on his deathbed. […] In New York City, hospitals received more than $3bn in federal funds last month from an early round of bailout payments. The money is supposed to compensate hospitals and healthcare providers for the expense of treating coronavirus patients and make up for the revenue hospitals lost from canceling elective procedures. Though the federal money comes with some conditions that are intended to protect patients from medical debt, loopholes remain. Doctors who treat patients can send their own bills to patient directly. The doctors who treated Mendez individually charged between $300 and $1,800 for each day.

The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. Lasting from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people–about a third of the world’s population at the time–in four successive waves. The death toll is typically estimated to have been somewhere between 17 million and 50 million. […] The second wave began in the second half of August. [Wikipedia]

Allan Lichtman is the Nostradamus of presidential elections. He’s accurately predicted them for four decades. He also prophesied Trump would be impeached. […] Professor Lichtman walks us through his system, which identifies 13 “keys” to winning the White House. Each key is a binary statement: true or false. And if six or more keys are false, the party in the White House is on its way out. [NY Times]

Rite Aid deployed facial recognition systems in hundreds of U.S. stores

Japanese robotics startup invented a smart mask that translates into eight languages

Twitter Hack Zoom Court Hearing Interrupted by Ass-Eating Porn Video

Education is by definition a competitive system that sorts winners from losers. As long as we accept its role as a key determinant of social outcomes, the result will necessarily be inequality.

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free

Lunch on the Grass (A Bite-Sized History of the Picnic)

The story of 212-OPEC-SID — Three decades ago, the punk rockers, hardcore kids and metalheads of New York City relied on the operators of one answering machine to find out where bands were playing.

The Wild Story of Creem, Once ‘America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine’ [NY Times]

a calendar celebrating seasonal skin conditions

‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.’ –John le Carré

{ Malmö-based startup Bitcraze has come up with a way to pre-program their tiny 27 gram drones to work autonomously, enabling them to fly in science fiction-like coordinated swarms of up to 49 units at a time. | The Local | full story }

related { Autonomous killer drones }

‘Never stop dreaming.’ –Freddy Krueger

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Enjoying short-term pleasurable activities that don’t lead to long-term goals contributes at least as much to a happy life as self-control, according to new research. […]

simply sitting about more on the sofa, eating more good food and going to the pub with friends more often won’t automatically make for more happiness.

{ UZH | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

6.jpg Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Accuse Each Other of Peeing and Pooing All Over Their House

Student-developed device predicts avocado ripeness

Human activity causes vibrations that propagate into the ground as high-frequency seismic waves. Measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread changes in human activity, leading to a months-long reduction in seismic noise of up to 50%. The 2020 seismic noise quiet period is the longest and most prominent global anthropogenic seismic noise reduction on record. [Science]

presence of groovy background music promoted interest in meeting a dating partner again

The most powerful predictors of relationship quality are the characteristics of the relationship itself — the life dynamic you build with your person.

After reviewing forty‐four publications from 1889 to 2019 it became apparent that clinical and anatomical studies conducted during recent decades provide substantial evidence in support of the female ejaculatory phenomenon

This protocol, implemented through an app in conjunction with a wearable sleep-tracking sensor device, not only helps record dream reports, but also guides dreams toward particular themes by repeating targeted information at sleep onset, thereby enabling incorporation of this information into dream content.

Do dreams exist to protect the brain’s visual cortex?

A Michigan man allegedly managed to steal more than $100,000 from casino patrons […] by illegally obtaining their personal information and then using counterfeit driver’s licenses to withdraw funds from their personal bank accounts via self-service kiosks at the casinos The kiosks require users to insert their driver’s license and the last four digits of both their Social Security number and phone number before checking account funds can be withdrawn.

What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power

the book charts, apparently the gold standards of literary commercial success, can be rigged, and all it needs is cash.  How to cheat the bestseller list

Try ‘glory holes’ for safer sex during coronavirus, British Columbia CDC says

every single party in San Francisco [Thanks Tim]

Every day, the same, again

52.jpgExperimental Blood Test Detects Cancer up to Four Years before Symptoms Appear

Amazon Met With Startups About Investing, Then Launched Competing Products Some companies regret sharing information with tech giant and its Alexa Fund; ‘we may have been naive’

In this research, we show that 5G millimeter waves could be absorbed by dermatologic cells acting like antennas, transferred to other cells and play the main role in producing Coronaviruses in biological cells

an illustrated guide on what deepfakes are — and how to spot them

findings indicate that humans have a stereo sense of smell that subconsciously guides navigation.

Physical exercise leads to increases musical pleasure

There’s one case study of a woman with epilepsy who would orgasm while she brushed her teeth. Some people on the antidepressant clomipramine develop the ability to orgasm from yawning.

Locusts in swarms the size of Manhattan have been ravaging crops through East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia The impact of the locusts is starting to eat into the respective countries’ GDP and have a devastating effect on local economies. […] India recently surpassed Brazil to become the biggest sugar producer in the world and about 40% of the planted area of sugarcane is in a main agricultural province currently under threat from locusts. […] Locust outbreaks in the significant cereal and protein exporters are rare, so significant disruptions in the international food supply chain are unlikely.

Prisoners have long used contraband cellphones to pull off all manner of scams from the inside. But in attempting to build and sell a house from behind bars, Murray allegedly took things to a new level of sophistication.

This week marks nine years since South Sudan was admitted to the United Nations, becoming the 193rd and most recent entrant into the club of internationally recognized countries. This is the longest period in modern history during which the world map has remained unchanged.

Changing the radio collar on a 350-pound hibernating bear should have been a routine task—if he’d been sleeping soundly.

no other spacecraft has been able to take images of the Sun’s surface from a closer distance

Apps that Darwin would have loved

deterioration in the forecasts of surface meteorology

51.jpgWeather forecasts play essential parts in daily life, agriculture and industrial activities, and have great economic value. Meteorological observations on commercial aircraft help improve the forecast. However, the global lockdown during the COVID‐19 pandemic chops off 50‐75% of aircraft observations. […] We see deterioration in the forecasts of surface meteorology and atmospheric stratification, and larger deterioration in longer‐term forecasts [AGU]

How the Porn Industry Is Changing During COVID-19

Why the porn industry has a lot to teach us about safety in the Covid-19 era

A new study finds that although musical instruments do generate airborne particles that could carry SARS-CoV-2, the risks for performers and audience may be manageable.

this month, a group of prominent scientists made the case that superspreading clusters suggest the virus is sometimes being transmitted over longer distances through the air in far smaller and more numerous particles. […] Why didn’t the infamous Lake of the Ozarks party spur lots of cases, while a much smaller gathering at a Michigan bar produced nearly 200? Part of the uneven spread of the coronavirus — and the phenomenon of superspreading — can be explained by extreme individual variation in infectivity, researchers say. Overall, researchers have estimated in recent studies that some 10 to 20 percent of the infected may be responsible for 80 percent of all cases. […] One proposal, from a Moscow State University professor, calls for shifting testing resources from the general public to efforts to identify potential “super emitters” with high viral loads by using randomized testing. Other proposals focus on limiting people’s more random interactions, such as on public transit, or at bars and restaurants, while loosening restrictions on their regular contacts, such as through work or school. [Washington Post]

Professional diver Emiliano Pescarolo contracted coronavirus in March and spent 17 days in hospital in the Italian port city of Genoa before being discharged on April 10. Now, three months later, the 42-year-old still experiences breathing difficulties. “Once back home, even after weeks I couldn’t see any progress: if I took a small walk, it was like climbing Mount Everest. I was out of breath also just for talking. I was very worried,” he said. Pescarolo is one of dozens of former Covid patients now receiving care at a rehabilitation clinic in Genoa — and says he is starting to see some progress. [CNN]

Despite how unnatural social distancing may feel to people, it is very much a part of the natural world, practiced by mammals, fishes, insects and birds. Social animals stay apart, changing behaviors such as grooming to stop the spread of diseases that could kill them.

‘Tout vainqueur insolent à sa perte travaille.’ –Jean de La Fontaine

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The Parrondo’s paradox, has been described as: A combination of losing strategies becomes a winning strategy. […]

Consider two games Game A and Game B, this time with the following rules:

1. In Game A, you simply lose $1 every time you play.
2. In Game B, you count how much money you have left. If it is an even number, you win $3. Otherwise you lose $5.

Say you begin with $100 in your pocket. If you start playing Game A exclusively, you will obviously lose all your money in 100 rounds. Similarly, if you decide to play Game B exclusively, you will also lose all your money in 100 rounds.

However, consider playing the games alternatively, starting with Game B, followed by A, then by B, and so on (BABABA…). It should be easy to see that you will steadily earn a total of $2 for every two games.

Thus, even though each game is a losing proposition if played alone, because the results of Game B are affected by Game A, the sequence in which the games are played can affect how often Game B earns you money, and subsequently the result is different from the case where either game is played by itself.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age

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We then showed that SARS-recovered patients still possess long-lasting memory T cells reactive to SARS-NP 17 years after the 2003 outbreak, which displayed robust cross-reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 NP. Surprisingly, we also frequently detected SARS-CoV-2 specific T cells in individuals with no history of SARS, COVID-19 or contact with SARS/COVID-19 patients.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

Perhaps there’s just little selection pressure on the virus as it races through millions of immunologically naïve people, scientists say. That could change with the advent of vaccines or new therapies, forcing the virus to evolve. But it could also indicate that the virus has been with people longer than we know, and was spreading before the first known cases in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. “The evolution of this virus to become a human pathogen may have already happened and we missed it,” Rasmussen says.

Wang thinks a version of the virus may have circulated earlier in humans in southern Asia, perhaps flying under the radar because it didn’t cause severe disease.

{ Science | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

21.jpgScientists Say You Can Cancel the Noise but Keep Your Window Open — Researchers in Singapore have developed an apparatus that can be placed in a window to reduce incoming sound by 10 decibels. […] The prototype is not yet the most practical device in real world conditions, but it points the way toward the development of technologies that may help ease the strain of noisy city living. Borrowing from the same technological principles used in noise-canceling headphones, the team expanded the concept to fit an entire room by placing 24 small speakers in a window. The speakers emit sound waves that correspond to the incoming racket and neutralize it — or, at least some of it. [NY Times]

What Miniature Lab-Grown Brains Reveal About the Effects of Covid-19 […] Known as “mini brains,” or organoids, these minuscule structures made from stem cells contain neurons that spontaneously emit electrical activity as a real brain would. […] What she found was that the virus could infect the mini brains and, 72 hours later, it began multiplying inside them, suggesting that human brain cells are susceptible to the virus. 

If SARS-CoV-2 is airborne—which basically means tiny viral particles can survive air for at least a few hours and still infect people—it’s far from the only disease. Measles is notorious for being able to last in the air for up to two hours. Tuberculosis, though a bacterium, can be airborne for six hours, and Lisa Brosseau, a retired professor of public health who still consults for businesses and organizations, suggests that coronavirus superspreaders (people who seem to eject a larger amount of the virus than others) disseminate the virus in patterns that recall the infectiousness of tuberculosis. The evidence that this type of transmission is happening with SARS-CoV-2  arguably already exists. Several big studies point to airborne transmission of the virus as a major route for the spread of covid-19. [Technology Review]

Extrapulmonary manifestations of COVID-19

 Immunity to covid-19 may be short-lived, according to a new longitudinal study of people who have caught the disease and recovered. Like other coronaviruses, covid-19 could reinfect people repeatedly. 
The Math of Social Distancing Is a Lesson in Geometry

Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news

Post Office Delivery Trucks Keep Catching on Fire — approximately one every five days since May 2014

Write Your “Leaving New York” Essay With Our Handy Chart

Every day, the same, again

neck.jpgGrey parrot tops Harvard students on a test

Security researchers say a smartwatch, popular with the elderly and dementia patients, could have been tricked into letting an attacker easily take control of the device. Hackers could trick the smartwatch into sending fake “take pills” reminders to patients as often as they want

Cosmetic surgeons see rise in patients amid pandemic

New Hong Kong legislation puts foreign citizens who criticize the Chinese government anywhere in the world at risk of jail if they even set foot in the city — even if they are just transiting through the airport.

Luckin Coffee was supposed to disrupt China’s coffee market. But a Wall Street Journal investigation has found that the company used fake coffee orders, fake supply orders and even a fake employee to fabricate nearly half its sales last year.

Warning of serious brain disorders in people with mild coronavirus symptoms

University of Oxford researchers found the proportion of coronavirus patients dying each day in England fell from 6% to 1.5% between April and June.

Spain’s large-scale study on the coronavirus indicates just 5% of its population has developed antibodies, strengthening evidence that a so-called herd immunity to Covid-19 is “unachievable” […] There have been similar studies in China and the United States and “the key finding from these representative cohorts is that most of the population appears to have remained unexposed” to Covid-19, “even in areas with widespread virus circulation” […] “Some experts have computed that around 60% of seroprevalence might mean herd immunity. But we are very far from achieving that number.” [CNN]

A big question is whether somebody who has had COVID-19 is now immune from getting it again. So far we don’t see compelling evidence of people getting reinfected, but that’s still a bit early to say for sure. That’s going to make a huge difference in everything we try to do about this going forward. A vaccine, of course, depends upon the idea that immunity is protective. […] There are a couple factors that will relate to whether immunity lasts a long time. One is whether the antibodies that somebody generates after infection are around for years afterward or whether they fade away. There hasn’t been enough time yet to be able to say that. The other is whether the virus itself changes its biology and then evades the immune response that people have had. Obviously that’s a big deal with influenza, which is why we have to get a flu shot every year. And it’s been a horrible deal with HIV — and why we’ve never been able to get a vaccine for it, because HIV is changing its coat almost hourly. I think we have reason to be much more optimistic about SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19]. There doesn’t seem to be compelling evidence of it being that highly mutable. It’s a typical RNA virus that seems to have a typical mutation rate. It doesn’t look like it’s doing a lot of changing of its coat proteins. So I’m fairly reassured by what we’ve learned so far, after looking at the viral genome of thousands of isolates, that this one is not changing that rapidly. […] I am guardedly optimistic that by the end of 2020 we will have at least one vaccine that has been proven safe and effective in a large-scale trial. […] There are at least four vaccines that will be getting into such large trials this summer beginning as early as July. […] Maybe all four of them will work. […] there will be, then, a time of having to do the scale-up to have billions of doses, which might be what the world needs. So there will still be some time involved, even though we are doing everything possible to prepare for that by manufacturing millions of doses of each of those vaccines even before we know if they would work, so that the highest-risk people can get access right away. [NY mag]

FBI agents raided a home in northern Michigan this week while investigating a sophisticated art forgery ring that allegedly tricked connoisseurs into buying phony paintings purported to be from top American artists.

His name? The O-Man. His superpower? Making women come simply by assessing their posture.

the group purchased alien abduction insurance that would cover up to fifty members and would pay out $1 million per person (the policy covered abduction, impregnation, or death by aliens). More: We came from the Level Above Human in distant space and we have now exited the bodies that we were wearing for our earthly task

The Perfect Art Heist: Hack the Money, Leave the Painting More: Computer hackers take £2.4m from sale of Constable painting

“Boob chandelier”

Every day, the same, again

4.jpgArthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings

How to Topple a Statue Using Science

A library in Michigan is urging the public to stop microwaving its books as a method to prevent the spread of coronavirus

the researchers found that women and people with insecure attachment styles tended to play hard-to-get more

How do cars fare in crash tests they’re not specifically optimized for?

How hackers extorted $1.14m from University of California, San Francisco

A plan to turn the atmosphere into one, enormous sensor — It will watch for storms, earthquakes, volcanos—and missile launches

The Geopolitical Ramifications of Starlink Internet Service

Automated shipping coming to Europe’s waters

raising animals for meat, eggs, and milk generates 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions—roughly on par with the global transportation sector

“The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits” the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions

Top 100 Polluter Indexes

Facebook collects most of its advertising revenue from the millions of small and medium-sized companies that depend on its effective, targeted ads. Its top 100 advertisers contributed less than 20 percent of revenue in the first quarter of last year. […] In 2017 and 2019, Verizon, Walmart, Pepsi, Disney, Nestlé and others objected to the undesirable videos that ran adjacent to some of their ads. Once YouTube established more restrictive content rules to placate the advertisers, the advertisers came back, leaving the division “bigger and stronger, rather than weaker, as a business.” You can expect a rerun of the YouTube episode for Facebook.

India has banned TikTok—plus 58 other Chinese apps

Gates of hell [more]

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