Thursday Throughput: Caldera Edition

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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14 Responses

  1. J_A says:

    ThTh5 I don’t understand. This must be an old article.

    I am quite sure Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler-Cooper were awarded the 2019 Physics Nobel Prize for their discovery of Super-Asymmetry, which, among other things, explains the discrepancy in symmetry between matter and antimatter.Report

  2. Oscar Gordon says:

    ThTh3: Did not realize there was a definitional difference between asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.


    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Also, Orac is right that the messaging regarding pretty much anything and everything to do with Covid has been a train wreck. Much of that is on the medical/scientific community, but a healthy portion is also on our lazy/hack science journalists.Report

    • J_A in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Pre-symptomatic transmission is a very common phenomenon in other diseases. It makes sense that it happens here.

      A case was reported in Germany (I think) of an “asymptomatic” woman that transmitted Covid-19, and was later proven to be a pre-symptomatic/mild symptomatic case.

      I think the challenge is trying to identify and trace truly asymptomatic infected patients, since, almost by definition, we can only catch them later via antibodies tests, when trace and contact is almost impossible. In the German case mentioned above, the woman had recently returned from China, and that is how several cases were traced back to business meetings with her.

      I also don’t think we understand how asymptomatic infection works in Covid-19. Is it like the immune system is able to detect and kill the virus immediately after infection, because of some residual immunity from a previous flu of flu vaccine, before the virus multiplies enough to be transmittable, or is it more that the body does not react to the virus presence “at all” while letting the virus multiply, until, eventually, the immune system clears it out in a couple of weeks? In the first case, the carrier would likely not transmit the virus, in the latter, it would.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to J_A says:

        Estimates seem to be that one-third of colds these days are caused by common human coronaviruses. There is speculation that the Covid-19 virus doesn’t affect children — who pass colds around like candy — as much because of partial resistance due to prior CHC infections.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      This is one of those things where natural language gets in the way of scientifically precise language. When I think of asymptomatic, that covers people who never show symptoms as well as people who merely haven’t shown symptoms yet.

      Scientists use the term very differently. One means one thing the other means something else entirely.

      Heck, that’s confusing even now. “What do they mean by ‘asymptomatic’?”, I’ll now ask for the next decade when I encounter the word.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

        This is one of the reasons I don’t get worried when I hear the media report X many new cases of Covid. AFACT, all that means is that there is a positive test result, but it says nothing regarding how serious the case is.

        The more interesting number really is how many ICU beds are full and how many deaths are positively* caused by Covid.

        *i.e. clearly a death from Covid, and not a GSW with indications of a respiratory infection.Report

  3. George Turner says:

    ThTh5: I’ve started having deep doubts about the Big Bang. Too many stars are showing up that don’t have enough lithium and helium, and I can’t think of a way that hydrogen could be naturally distilling out of the early atomic mix to explain that.Report

  4. J_A says:

    Joke aside, this is one of the most interesting problems in physics.

    My first exposure to the existence of antimatter was in a Superman comic, and since I was a wee nerd before becoming a full grown one, I checked it in the encyclopedia and was surprised antiparticles did exist and did destruct each other in a burst of energy.

    For a long time I was under the impression that antimatter was a byproduct of nuclear reactions. I was only in my college days that I understood there should have been 50-50 matter/antimatter at the Big Bang, too.

    Somewhere, symmetry breaks down, and the hypothesis that gravity might be the clue (since we don’t know of antigravitons (though we actually probably don’t know that there gravitons either )) makes at least intuitive sense. Of course, in real life (sic), super-asymmetry is built upon string theory, so there’s that, too.

    In any case, I am really curious about the explanation. I hope they get something soon enoughReport

  5. Aaron David says:

    ThT6 – This is one of those spots that politics rubs up hard against science. And as with almost all things* politics wins. It explains anti-vaxers, anti-climate changers, pro-climate changers, and a whole hose of other things.

    ThT1 – I think I have heard about Yellowstone being about to blow for at least 40 years. The constant reporting of this does the media no favors in the credibility dept.

    *the saying that politics is the personal is very true, as long as there isn’t a political consensus. and it will always try to form that consensus. People ignore this at their peril and ignorance.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

      It’s the same with earthquakes.
      In geologic time, “tomorrow” and “1,000 years from tomorrow” are essentially the same moment, so “we’re due for another eruption/ earthquake” is a completely truthful headline for…about a thousand years.Report

  6. Michael Cain says:

    ThTh1: Tomorrow (a) I could be hit by a runaway bus, (b) I could be diagnosed with terminal cancer, or (c) the Yellowstone Caldera could erupt with the wind in the right direction and bury me in hot ash. I know which one I’m not worrying about.Report

  7. Keith Moon did less damage to hotel rooms than the WHO has done to its credibility.Report