#38: Activism™

Introducing a new feature! Activism™! We give you the news most relevant to our survival as a species, and then ask you to do one thing. Read on to unlock this fun new game!

1. If you're a climate scientist and reading this, I would like to hereby submit my my application to your cult. Thank you. - The Guardian

"William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met Trump last month to discuss the post (of science adviser) and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.
“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”"

+ MY NOTES: This is real life.

2. Idaho lawmakers ruin science for not only their own children, but everyone else's too. - Idaho Statesman

"An Idaho House panel has approved new K-12 science standards, but only after striking key references to climate change caused by human behavior.

This is the third year the Idaho Legislature has struggled to agree on science standards for public schools. Previous efforts that included references to global warming and the origin of the universe have been rejected by Republicans unhappy that the language didn’t offer alternative views."

+ MY NOTES: So basically, it's not required to teach climate science, but it's allowed. So not exactly worst-case scenario, but also WE ARE MELTING.

3. This 11 year old is a goddamn hero. #hero #goddamn #hero - The Atlantic

"Avery plays piano and has practiced Bhangra, a Punjabi folk dance, since she was two. Each morning, she feeds chickens she’s named after flowers, and each evening, she makes sure they’re tucked in their coop. In the spring, she runs a backyard business raising chicks for customers.

And, sometimes, she goes to court. Unlike most tweens, Avery is suing the federal government.

She’s the second-youngest of 21 plaintiffs, ages 9 to 20, in Juliana v. United States, a case filed in Eugene in 2015 on the grounds that the federal government has knowingly endangered them by promoting the burning of fossil fuels. If climate change threatens their future, they reason, the government has violated their constitutional right to due process. There are roughly the same number of defendants as plaintiffs in the case, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of the President and the president himself. Until January 20, that was Barack Obama. Now it’s Donald Trump."

+ MY NOTES: And you millennials thought YOU were gonna save the world. Are you suing the president? Why or why not?

4. This new, first 3D model of a mammary gland is described as breast cancer's holy grail, George Lucas gets excited for super weird INDIANA JONES 5 - Knowridge

"Known as an organoid, the model mimics the structure and function of a real mammary gland and will help increase understanding of how breast tissue develops—and provide an active model to study disease and screen drugs.

“Much of how breast tissues respond to external stimuli such as hormones is, as yet, unknown. In order to fully tackle the mechanisms that lie behind breast cancer we first need to understand how healthy breast tissue develops,” says Trevor Dale, professor of biosciences at Cardiff University."

+ MY NOTES: Not only that, but they figured out how to grow and maintain them in a lab, which means we can basically watch a breast grow from scratch. Science is incredible. To be clear, this isn't even a boob joke. This is just fucking awesome science.

5. Climate science is fake news but also kills 1.1 million people a year in India. - ThinkProgress

"In the country’s capital city, levels of harmful particles in the air were so high that they could not be measured by most air quality instruments. Those that could measure the pollution found levels of particulate matter — tiny particles that can penetrate deep into lungs and cross the blood-brain barrier — to be 16 times the safe limit.

It was, according to the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based nonprofit, the worst air quality that Delhi had seen in 17 years. But it was not a one-time phenomenon for the rapidly developing country. According to a new study of global air pollution, some 1.1 million people die prematurely every year in India due to air pollution, making it the one of the deadliest countries in terms of air quality in the world.

Worldwide, air pollution-related deaths are also rising: particulate-matter related air pollution was responsible for 4.2 million deaths in 2015, or about 7.6 percent of all deaths worldwide."

+ MY NOTES: 7.6% of all deaths are due to air pollution. 

6. We are a go for editing embryos with CRISPR. Holllly cow. - -Stat News

"The committee isn’t wild about genetic enhancement, which means using genome editing to give people traits “beyond levels considered typical of adequate health.” Examples include lowering cholesterol below the range considered adequate, bulking up muscles in people with no known disorder to make them super-strong, and editing genes that are active in the brain to improve memory. The committee says genome editing for enhancement “should not proceed at this time.” But it is dismissive of the more apocalyptic arguments against genome editing for enhancement, saying it “is very unlikely to be the most profound source of inequality” in any society."

+ MY NOTES: I'm sure everybody will definitely absolutely play by the rules and not create Wolverine.

7. Lost essay reveals Winston Churchill believed in aliens and foretold most major scientific advances and wrote this with his hands and I mean did you guys see Trump's press conference today? What are we doing - Gizmodo

"The 11-page, typewritten manuscript was rediscovered last year by a museum director, and handed to astrophysicist Mario Livio for analysis. Winston Churchill drafted the essay, titled “Are We Alone in the Universe?,” in 1939, and revised it in the 1950s, but it was never published. The essay reveals the degree to which the iconic statesman reasoned like a scientist, and how astute he was about concepts that have only recently emerged in the scientific literature, such as the number of planets in the galaxy, and the conditions required for planetary habitability...Later, he would predict the advent of compact engines, super-strong materials, wireless technology, and fusion power. In his remarkably prescient essay, “Fifty Years Hence,” written in 1932, he foresaw genetic engineering, human cloning, lab-grown meat, and artificial wombs. He even predicted the development of super weapons capable of “annihilating whole nations.”

+ MY NOTES: Mind. Blown.

8. Malaria vaccine breakthrough? Malaria vaccine breakthrough. - Popular Science

"A malarial vaccine has remained elusive, in part, because malaria is caused by a parasite—not a virus.
“We’re used to vaccines that against viruses that are very simple in their antigens,” says Peter Bull a pathologist at Cambridge University who was not a part of this study. Antigens are the molecules that trigger an immune response. “But malaria is a thing that moves around and transforms itself. It’s incredibly sophisticated. It’s a different game altogether.

Based on the earlier mosquito bite studies, researchers knew that something in the sporozoite stage of the parasite’s lifecycle could confer potential immunity. That's the spore-like stage of malaria’s lifecycle where it appears in mosquito saliva and can infect humans. In theory, researchers could hack that trick to turn it into a vaccine. “But the parasite has more than 5,000 genes, and we’re not smart enough to figure out which one of those is the most important," Hoffman says.

So instead Hoffman's team developed a mechanism to extract the sporozites, then figured out how to purify them and store them so they could be injected into a patient. Essentially, they turned those impractical mosquito-spit-based vaccines into something you really could imagine in a doctor's office.
“It’s translating a kind of research vaccine into one that could possibly be used,” said Bull. “This is a major step, there’s no taking away from that.””

+ MY NOTES: Progress.


For your very first homework assignment:

In a ridiculous(ly necessary) step, current EPA employees are petitioning their senators to reject Scott Pruitt as their new boss. Which should be a good indication that you should do the same.

Knock that out in one minute with one swift phone callhttps://5calls.org


Discover the next exoplanet from your own MacBook

The Gates Foundation annual letter: a thank you and update to Warren Buffett

It's still 50 degrees warmer than normal at the North Pole if you're wondering if maybe at least that had changed

Unfortunately, Robert DeNiro is a anti-vaccine dipshit.

Some scientists think we should re-freeze the Arctic, because what the fuck else are we gonna do