Thursday Throughput for 4/25/19
[ThTh1] One of the things we hear about occasionally from the climate alarmist side is the danger of “methane bombs” — methane locked into ice that could be released by warming temperatures and accelerate global warming. Phil Plait, in a commendable display of intellectual honesty, goes through why that’s unlikely to be a catastrophe and why panic-mongering over methane hydrate is irresponsible. There is some concern of what will happen if we start using that ice-locked methane for fuel, however.
[ThTh2] What was the first molecule the universe forged? Helium hydride: a helium atom bonded to a hydrogen one. Those of you who’ve taken basic chemistry know that shouldn’t quite work since Helium is a noble gas and generally doesn’t bond to things. Indeed, until now the compound had only been seen in laboratories. But we knew it might form early in the universe. And now we’ve found it. Also nice to see a good result out of SOFIA, which was on the budget chopping block a few years ago.
[ThTh3] I’ve mentioned Mars InSight a few times. This week it detected its first Marsquake.
[ThTh4] The Milk Way Galaxy — the island of 400 billion stars in which our Sun lives — is fairly typical size. But galaxies can get bigger. Much much bigger. This one is as big as our entire Local Group of Galaxies. At least.
Well this is kinda humbling: The Milky Way compared to the largest galaxy in the known universe… 😮 pic.twitter.com/zaeiktd4vS
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) April 23, 2019
[ThTh5] The first malaria vaccine is going to start trials in 360,000 African children. The vaccine isn’t perfect — malaria isn’t a virus and so the vaccine doesn’t confer the same type of immunity. It will maybe prevent four in ten cases. But even that will be huge for a disease that kills half a million people a year. And that might put a dent in the spread of the disease.
[ThTh6] Speaking of preventable diseases, there have been recent outbreaks of measles in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York and Michigan. But the response was very different. Orac breaks it down here. I would add that, as a Jew, I find the opposition to vaccination appalling. Getting vaccinated not only protects you; it protects others. It is a mitzvah. And considering that measles can be lethal, it’s something that, even if you think Jewish law would oppose it, clearly falls under Pikuach Nefesh.
Get vaccinated people. Don’t make my poor editors have to slog through a 5000 word tirade from me on the subject.
[ThTh7] Scientists need our own version of Rule 34: if it exists, someone is studying it. Today’s thing you wouldn’t think anyone would study and be surprised they’d learn so much from? Ancient goat urine.