25 articles from SUNDAY 26.7.2020

Starwatch: full moon joins Jupiter and Saturn in southern sky

At midnight on 2 August, people around globe will be able to see grouping high in the skySet a calendar reminder for this coming weekend when an essentially full moon joins Jupiter and Saturn in the southern sky.When full, the moon rises at sunset and spends the entire night in the sky, so the grouping will be visible during all the hours of darkness. The chart shows the view looking due south...

Colleges plan for virus testing, but strategies vary widely

For students heading to Colby College in Maine this fall, coronavirus testing is expected to be a routine part of campus life. All students will be required to provide a nasal swab every other day for two weeks, and then twice a week after that. All told, the college says it will provide 85,000 tests, nearly as many as the entire state of Maine has since the pandemic started.

Will we ever find life on Mars?

Planetary scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson describes how the latest mission to Mars builds on centuries of discoveries about the red planet – Earth’s nearest neighbourNasa plans to launch its latest mission to Mars this month, which aims to place the Perseverance rover on the surface of the planet in February 2021.It is the latest attempt to explore a planet that has loomed large in the popular...

Covid-19: trust the public on scientific uncertainty | Letters

Dr Jane Lethbridge of the University of Greenwich, Heather Hancock of the Food Standards Agency and Jim Grozier of University College London on science and coronavirus. Plus Bruce White on Boris Johnson’s reference to asymptomatic transmissionSonia Sodha (Bias in ‘the science’ on coronavirus? Britain has been here before, 23 Juy) provides a welcome reminder of the BSE crisis and government...

Getting to the new normal in a safe manner | Letters

The risk to teachers as they return to school in the autumn concerns Pat Brockbank, while Sue Rogers finds the mask-wearing debate disheartening. Plus Po-yu Sung on why supermarkets should enforce face coverings My daughter teaches in a senior school of about 600 pupils. In less than six weeks’ time, all pupils are being forced to return to the classroom, with 30 children to each room. The only...

It’s too late to stop QAnon with fact checks and account bans

Twitter is perfect as a megaphone for the far right: its trending topics are easy to game, journalists spend way too much time on the site, and—if you’re lucky—the President of the United States might retweet you. QAnon, the continuously evolving pro-Trump conspiracy theory, is good at Twitter in the same way as other successful internet-native ideologies—using the platform to...

I'm a Covid-19 'long-hauler'. For us, there is no end in sight | Jemma Kennedy

Thousands of people like me are suffering ill health months after contracting the virus. We need more helpAs a writer, I spend my days trying to craft believable, satisfying narratives. But as a Covid-19 “long-hauler”, I have given up trying to find an internal logic to the story of my illness. As we now know, thousands of people are suffering a range of bewildering and debilitating post-Covid...

Rock from Mars heads home after 600,000 years on Earth

Tiny piece of meteorite from London’s Natural History Museum will be used by rover exploring red planetA small piece of rock will be hurled into space this week on one of the strangest interplanetary voyages ever attempted. A tiny piece of Martian basalt the size of a 10p coin will be launched on board a US robot probe on Thursday and propelled towards the red planet on a seven-month journey to...

The Observer view on Britain's Covid-19 response

The Recovery drugs trial is a beacon of excellence among the general coronavirus incompetenceBeing British has been a discomforting experience for the past six months. A nation that had prided itself on the strength and resilience of its healthcare system has been laid low by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed nearly 50,000 lives in the UK. Most other western nations have suffered fewer...

Cycad plants provide an important 'ecosystem service'

A study published in the June 2020 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Horticulturae shows that cycads, which are in decline and among the world's most threatened group of plants, provide an important service to their neighboring organisms. The study, completed by researchers from the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam and the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami,...

Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D level associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection

An Israeli population-based study by a group of scientists from the Leumit Health Services and the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University discovered significant association of low plasma vitamin D level with the likelihood of COVID-19 infection among patients who were tested for COVID-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socio-economic status and chronic, mental and physical...

NTU Singapore researchers speed up gold-standard COVID-19 diagnostic test

NTU Singapore has demonstrated a way to improve upon COVID-19 laboratory tests, yielding results in 36 minutes - ¼ of the time required by existing gold-standard tests. Their new approach, which can be done with portable equipment, could allow for screening and research especially in countries and regions with limited laboratory capabilities. It can also be used to detect other viruses and...

Potential therapeutic effects of dipyridamole in the severely ill patients with COVID-19

Effective antivirals with safe clinical profile are urgently needed to improve the overall COVID-19 prognosis. In an analysis of a randomly collected cohort of 124 patients with COVID-19, the authors found that hypercoagulability as indicated by elevated concentrations of D-dimers was associated with disease severity. By virtual screening of a U.S. FDA approved drug library, the authors identified...

Wealthier men are more likely to develop high blood pressure

Working men with higher incomes are more likely to develop high blood pressure, reports a study presented at the 84th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society (JCS 2020). "Men with higher incomes need to improve their lifestyles to prevent high blood pressure," said study author Dr. Shingo Yanagiya of the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.