Science
Monday, August 2, 2021

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vaccines to tye world

Pfizer and Moderna are likely to be the first companies to see their respective vaccines authorized in the United States, possibly before the end of 2020. Though their journeys to a COVID-19 vaccine have been eerily similar, the companies themselves could not be more different. Pfizer is a multinational pharmaceutical giant, while Moderna is a small biotechnology company that has never brought a drug to the market. Yet when the COVID-19 pandemic began, both companies bet big on a brand-new vaccine technology called mRNA. Moderna had been working on the technology for years, while Pfizer partnered with a smaller German biotechnology company BioNTech for its mRNA research.

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180 feet chalk figure

Archaeologists may finally know the age and true identity of the “Rude Man,” also known as the Cerne Abbas Giant, one of dozens of geoglyphs etched into the British countryside. In March 2020, archaeologists traveled to a hilltop in Dorset, England, to bag a giant. They sliced into his elbows and feet, then took bits of him back to their labs in bags and metal tubes. No actual behemoth was harmed in the process, because the Cerne Abbas Giant is a geoglyph—a large artwork emblazoned into the landscape. The 180-foot-tall figure was created by scouring away grass to reveal the white chalk beneath, then packing the trenches with more chalk quarried nearby. Thanks largely to his 35-foot phallus, the giant has become a beloved fertility icon. According to folklore, couples who couple on his crotch will successfully conceive.

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 Ramanujan Machine in Haifa

Israel has a smart new mathematician, throwing out mind-teasing hypotheses for number-crunchers of the world to prove or disprove. The powers being displayed are, literally,superhuman, because it is a multi-tentacled computer program. The Ramanujan Machine, an advanced artificial intelligence invention, works across ten regular computers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, churning through possibilities for new lines of mathematical research. And in the future, scientists hope it may use your phone’s processing power too. 

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 This Fight is Yours

They were two young Jewish men who grew up just a few years apart in the New York area during the Great Depression, and though they were both drawn to the study of medicine and did not know each other at the time, their names would, years later, be linked in a heroic struggle that played out on the front pages of newspapers around the world. In the end, both Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk could rightfully claim credit for one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments—the near-eradication of polio in the 20th century. And yet debate still echoes over whose method is best suited for the mass vaccination needed to finish the job: Salk’s injected, dead-virus vaccine or Sabin’s oral, live-virus version.

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u.s. capitol building insurrection

Screen Shot 2021 01 17 at 7.42.47 PMWhen Donald Trump stood before his followers on Jan. 6, 2021 and urged them to march on the United States Capitol, he was doing what he had always done. He never took electoral democracy seriously nor accepted the legitimacy of its American version. Even when he won, in 2016, he insisted that the election was fraudulent — that millions of false votes were cast for his opponent. In 2020, in the knowledge that he was trailing Joseph R. Biden in the polls, he spent months claiming that the presidential election would be rigged and signaling that he would not accept the results if they did not favor him. He wrongly claimed on Election Day that he had won and then steadily hardened his rhetoric: With time, his victory became a historic landslide and the various conspiracies that denied it ever more sophisticated and implausible.