Posts Tagged "compelling read"

Rapid Tests and PCR Tests

“Put simply, if you test positive on a rapid test, you almost certainly have Covid-19. If you test negative, in some cases, you might still test positive on a PCR test, which is much more sensitive because it tests for genetic evidence of the virus.”

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Danger Trees

“What a Douglas fir does, it does very slowly, and that includes dying. Possibly the least attractive feature of a nine-?hundred-?year life span is the century or two spent dying. Decomposition drags on for another hundred years or so. A tree is the rare organism to which the comparative deader is often and accurately applied. A recently dead, or ‘dead hard,’ conifer progresses to ‘dead spongy,’ then ‘dead soft,’ limbs and top rotting and dropping off, until the last piece of standing trunk topples and the tree enters the final classification, ‘dead fallen.’ At some point in its protracted twilight, a tree that stands near a road or path or building may earn a new classification: ‘danger tree.’ Because if it falls, anyone it lands on will spend a very, very short time dying.”

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Gotye: Somebody That I Used to Know

There was a feeling that it wasn’t me who was shoving the song in everyone’s face, it was the rest of the world, and I was kind of like, “It’s okay! You don’t have to play my song so much! Play some other songs! We can listen to different music!” I’d show up at commercial music stations and they’d be like, “The star has arrived!” And I’d be like, “I’d like to hear some other music, please.”

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The Tyranny of Spreadsheets

“When used by a trained accountant to carry out double-entry bookkeeping, a long-established system with inbuilt error detection, Excel is a perfectly professional tool. But when pressed into service by genetics researchers or contact tracers, it’s like using your Swiss Army Knife to fit a kitchen because it’s the tool you have closest at hand. Not impossible but hardly advisable.”

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The Incubation Call of the Superb Fairywren

“When they lay their eggs, they wait nine days, and then park themselves by the eggs and start singing. They will sing and sing the same tune every four minutes, over and over for a week, and the chicks inside those eggs not only hear the tune, they commit it to memory.”

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Two Fascinating Articles About Insects

“A fungus laced with the same chemical as psychedelic mushrooms will invade their bodies and eat away their insides until their abdomens crack, fall off and get replaced with a ball of white spores. Because they’re either bombed on psilocybin or under the control of the fungus in some other way, the cicadas won’t even notice. With missing butts and full hearts, they’ll forge ahead with their only reason for existing: finding a mate and reproducing.”

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Wasp vs. Cockroach

“Everyone who studies the jewel wasp knows it stings the roach twice – once in the first thoracic ganglion to paralyze the front legs and once in the brain to zombify the roach.”

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Dippin’ Dots and the Cold Chain

The COVID vaccine currently being shipped around the country—manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech and granted an emergency use authorization on Friday—needs to be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, or else important components can degrade.

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Keeping millions of doses that chilly is no easy task, and necessitates what manufacturers call a “cold chain”: an infrastructure that standardizes temperature throughout every step of shipping and delivery.

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Abraham Wald and the Missing Bullet Holes

“So here’s the question. You don’t want your planes to get shot down by enemy fighters, so you armor them. But armor makes the plane heavier, and heavier planes are less maneuverable and use more fuel. Armoring the planes too much is a problem; armoring the planes too little is a problem. Somewhere in between there’s an optimum. The reason you have a team of mathematicians socked away in an apartment in New York City is to figure out where that optimum is.”

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A Devastating New Stage of the Pandemic

Over the past month, the number of confirmed cases there [Arizona] has grown nearly fourfold; the number of people hospitalized has more than doubled. On Tuesday, the state reported more than 3,500 new cases in one day. That’s equal to 494 new cases for every 1 million residents, a figure that rivals New York State’s numbers in March and April.

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America’s Never-Ending Battle Against Flesh-Eating Worms

“Every week, planes drop 14.7 million sterilized screwworms over the rainforest that divides the two countries. A screwworm-rearing plant operates 24/7 in Panama. Inspectors cover thousands of square miles by motorcycle, boat, and horseback, searching for stray screwworm infections north of the border. The slightest oversight could undo all the work that came before.”

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The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet

“Over just a few years, Hutchins had taken so many small steps down the unlit tunnel of online criminality that he’d often lost sight of the lines he was crossing. But in this IM conversation with Vinny, Hutchins says, he could see that he was being asked to do something very wrong—that he would now, without a doubt, be helping thieves steal from innocent victims.”

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Ghosts at the Museum

One night a security guard was passing through the African galleries in the basement and paused for a moment before the figure of a two-headed dog. The guard believed that this 19th-century wooden Congolese fetish, bristling with rough iron nails, possessed some mysterious power. On this particular night he felt an irresistible compulsion to point his finger at it. As he did so, the fire alarms in the gallery went off. A few days later the guard returned to the gallery with his brother, who also pointed at the two-headed dog. Again the alarms sounded.

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