Friday, September 30, 2022

BIG Exclusives

How on Earth do we co-operate in charting our energy future?

The dramatic eruptions of southern Pacific volcano Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai in mid-January reminded us that the Earth is a very dynamic place, where sudden events can create incredibly hostile environments and major damage. While this event took many people by surprise, the volcano has been sporadically active since 2009, when eruptions first created a small island as the volcanic cone emerged from the sea. Satellite imagery has traced Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai’s history since then, but most...

Mounting COVID frustration is no reason to abandon fundamental principles

Our principles are never more tested than when we are angry, scared, or frustrated. After all, it is easy to speak high-mindedly when in comfort and security. Principles are only tested under stress, and our society in general is under stress now. Well-understood bioethical values are being cast aside by politicians, some media, and the public in the harmful and destructive stigmatization of the unvaccinated. This has taken the form of restrictions on freedom of...

Capturing carbon – the science and the subtleties

Modern humans have, through their daily activities, been liberating carbon at a furious pace. By “carbon”, I specifically mean carbon dioxide, or CO2, which is a naturally occurring gas molecule made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. Growing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere accelerated due to human activities have been linked to unwelcome climate changes, and there have been considerable political and scientific efforts to reduce these concentrations. The CO2 molecule    As detailed...

The best missed prediction: disease severity 50% lower than we predicted

Updated data from Ontario as of Jan. 15 shows vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization has dropped to just below 40%, and has stayed at about that level for two weeks. The vaccine effectiveness against new cases remains below zero, but has climbed in the last few days. The vaccine effectiveness against ICU admission dropped moderately and is holding in the mid to upper 70s. We have been following the COVID data in Ontario, Canada, as a...

Music, mathematics, and physics Part 3 – harmony and chords

Brian Russell (middle) jamming in Plaza Santa Ana, Madrid, in 2018. (Photo by Natasha Hunt) In the first part of this series – Music, mathematics, and physics – I explained why we have 12 notes in western music. In Part 2 – Music, mathematics, and physics Part 2 – musical scales – I looked at scales, which is the way these 12 notes are grouped together. In this third article, I will discuss harmony and chords,...

Omicron update: vaccine effectiveness against ICU admission holds at 80%

In a series of recent articles, the Canadian province of Ontario’s COVID data has been examined as a proxy of the Omicron variant’s surge for other jurisdictions in North America. In our last update on this series – Omicron update: vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization drops sharply - we noted that the vaccine effectiveness (VE) against cases remained negative and that the VE against hospitalization had dropped abruptly. This update, using data released Jan. 5, shows four key...

Music, mathematics, and physics Part 2 – musical scales

In the first part of my series entitled Music, mathematics, and physics, I explained why we have 12 notes in western music, but spent very little time explaining what to do with these notes. In this article, I will look at scales, which is the way these 12 notes are grouped together. Scales are like the bricks and mortar that bind songs together and tell us immediately whether we are listening to classical, flamenco,...

Omicron update: vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization drops sharply

Updated vaccine effectiveness in Ontario as of Dec. 30 shows effectiveness against hospitalization has suddenly dropped to 43%. The vaccine effectiveness against new cases is below zero. The ICU vaccine effectiveness is holding above 80% for now.   As discussed in the recent article As Omicron cases surge, impact on health care systems is difficult to predict, COVID-19 cases have been rising dramatically in the United States and Canada over the past few weeks, largely driven by the...

As Omicron cases surge, impact on health care systems is difficult to predict

Updated vaccine effectiveness in Ontario Canada, as of December 24, 2021, shows effectiveness against hospitalization and ICU hospitalization is holding between 70% and 90%, but against non-hospitalization, it has abruptly dropped below 0%.  Reported COVID-19 cases have been rising dramatically in the United States and Canada over the past few weeks, with the U.S. showing 197,856 new cases and Canada 20,693 new cases on Dec. 23.The CDC estimates that over 73% of new cases are...

Vaccine effectiveness and adverse events – what we have learned

We have published numerous articles on COVID-19, many of them concerned with vaccine effectiveness, herd immunity and vaccination rates, the rational framework around vaccination, and evaluating adverse events following immunization (AEFI). Each of these articles was intended to educate through analysis of considerable information. We thought it would be useful to write a summary of these articles. A humble summary We can only give our best, objective assessment of information using the information currently available to us....