Friday, April 03, 2020

science news 3.4.2020

Today's selection of science news. Links are normally to press releases on EurekAlert (at the bottom end I may also add a couple of newspaper stories). I include quotes from the summary in italics in cases where the title alone doesn't reveal what the story is about. My own thoughts appear without italics if I have any.


Discovery of life in solid rock deep beneath sea may inspire new search for life on Mars


Fourth new pterosaur discovery in matter of weeks

This is image shows artwork of the Afrotapejara zouhrii.
Credit: Megan Jacobs, Baylor University, Texas

Six million-year-old bird skeleton points to arid past of Tibetan plateau


Whooping cranes form larger flocks as wetlands are lost -- and it may put them at risk

light and life

Natural sunscreen gene influences how we make vitamin D


COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promise in first peer-reviewed research
still only tested in animals though.


Cocky kids: The four-year-olds with the same overconfidence as risk-taking bankers

dystopian futures

COVID-19 contact tracing apps: 8 privacy questions governments should ask


From the news media:

On the Saturday 14.3. I travelled back from Germany and was shocked to find that in the UK mass events like the Cheltenham Festival were still going ahead in spite of the virus already spreading out of control, and the science already suggesting that it is also spread by people who don't show symptoms. Now, as the Guardian reports, the impact of Cheltenham is seen in the case stats. In a week, it will be seen in the death stats, which are more reliable. I am keeping the link to the article here mainly because it provides a handy reference of other events that still went ahead on that weekend and shouldn't have, including a Champions League game enabling the spread from Spain to the UK.

On a related note, I read the article in Der Spiegel about how the Austrian ski resort Ischgl became a superspreading centre of COVID-19 mainly because I happen to know the place. Found it both very educational and shocking to read how the relevant people in Iceland spotted the problem on March 1st, and went on to alert other European countries. It took 2 weeks until the place was shut down. English version of the article is here. German original was in the issue 14 page 58.

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