What I'm Reading (Feb. 25)

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The risk of radiation on a trip to Mars, the dark segments of our DNA, the role of "caste" in defining the elite, and how will our war with COVID-19 end?

Now that the Biden administration has signaled its support for NASA’s Artemis mission to the moon, maybe we should think about the risks astronauts will face when they get there, and what might happen during a longer trip to Mars.

Of all the things to worry about while traveling in space—equipment malfunctions, the weird effects of weightlessness, collisions with space debris, and just being far away—one the most difficult to deal with is the health effects of radiation from the sun or cosmic events.”

NASA has commissioned a study of changing how much radiation we can safely be exposed to; perhaps those deliberations and calculations may alter how we look at radiation and other toxicities here on Earth – or not. From Wired, NASA Wants to Set a New Radiation Limit for Astronauts

 “Eight percent of our DNA consists of remnants of ancient viruses, and another 40 percent is made up of repetitive strings of genetic letters that is also thought to have a viral origin. “

What’s up with that? Those dark segments may actually be a partial source of several neurodegenerative diseases. From Nautil.us, The Non-Human Living Inside of You

“More and more Americans are figuring out that “wokeness” functions in the new, centralized American elite as a device to exclude working-class Americans of all races, along with backward remnants of the old regional elites. In effect, the new national oligarchy changes the codes and the passwords every six months or so, and notifies its members through the universities and the prestige media and Twitter. America’s working-class majority of all races pays far less attention than the elite to the media, and is highly unlikely to have a kid at Harvard or Yale to clue them in.”

The article is about class, although I still prefer caste. It has been with us since the founding fathers; it just keeps morphing. From Tablet, The New National American Elite  

“In January, Nature asked more than 100 immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists working on the coronavirus whether it could be eradicated. Almost 90% of respondents think that the coronavirus will become endemic — meaning that it will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come (see 'Endemic future').”

I would agree that the likelihood of COVID-19 being eradicated is quite low, but instead of listening to me, consider the opinions of scientists and the many outcomes we might expect. From Nature, The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means