• Tracking the tinderbox: Scientists Map Wildfire Fuel Moisture Across Western U.S.

    As California and the American West head into fire season amid the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence and new satellite data to help predict blazes across the region. Researchers have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states, opening a door for better fire predictions.

  • Global Warming Now Pushing Heat into Territory Humans Cannot Tolerate

    The explosive growth and success of human society over the past 10,000 years has been underpinned by a distinct range of climate conditions. But the range of weather humans can encounter on Earth – the “climate envelope” – is shifting as the planet warms, and conditions entirely new to civilization could emerge in the coming decades. Even with modern technology, this should not be taken lightly.

  • Critics Knock Britain's Handling of COVID Pandemic

    Britain has not had a good coronavirus war, say critics of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, including some Conservatives, who fault him for not locking down the country earlier than he did. “I’ve always been skeptical about British exceptionalism,” former Conservative lawmaker Matthew Parris commented in Britain’s The Times newspaper. “No longer. Our handling of this crisis has been exceptionally poor.”

  • Separating Industrial Noise from Natural Seismic Signals

    For the first time, seismologists can characterize signals as a result of some industrial human activity on a continent-wide scale using cloud computing. A transformative, cloud-computing approach to analyzing data helps researchers better understand seismic activity.

  • Game-Changing Technologies to Transform Food Systems

    In the next three decades, the world will need a 30–70 percent increase in food availability to meet the demand from an increasing population. In addition, the global food system will need to change profoundly if it is going to provide humanity with healthy food that is grown sustainably in ways that are not only resilient in the face of climate change but also do not surpass planetary boundaries. According to new research, a pipeline of disruptive technologies could transform our food systems, ecosystems, and human health, but attention to the enabling environment is needed to realize their potential.

  • Researchers Urge Clinical Trial of Blood Pressure Drug to Prevent Complication of COVID-19

    Researchers in the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have identified a drug treatment that could—if given early enough—potentially reduce the risk of death from the most serious complication of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as SARS-CoV-2 infection. Phys.org reports that prazosin, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved alpha blocker that relaxes blood vessels, may specifically target an extreme inflammatory process often referred to as cytokine storm syndrome (CSS) that disproportionately affects older adults with underlying health conditions, and is associated with disease severity and increased risk of death in COVID-19 infection. Using it pre-emptively to address COVID-19-associated hyperinflammation of the lungs and other organs has the potential to reduce deaths in the most vulnerable populations, they say.

  • Team Finds Effective SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibodies

    Researchers at Peking University (PKU) has successfully identified multiple highly potent neutralizing antibodies against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of the respiratory disease COVID-19, from convalescent plasma by high-throughput single-cell sequencing. Phys.org notes that neutralizing antibodies, generated by human immune system, can effectively prevent viruses from infecting cells. New results from animal studies showed that their neutralizing antibody provides a potential cure for COVID-19 as well as means for short-term prevention. This marks a major milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

  • Further Evidence Does Not Support Hydroxychloroquine for Patients with COVID-19

    More randomized, double-blind clinical trials of the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19-infected patients find what earlier studies have found: hydroxychloroquine offers no benefits to trial subjects relative to the placebos given to the control group – but hydroxychloroquine significantly increase the risks of serious side-effects. Promoters of hydroxychloroquine argue that the drug is more effective in the early stages of infections, but in these two recent trials the drug was given to people in the early infection stage and showing only mild symptoms, with the same disappointing results. BMJ says that while further work is needed to confirm these results, the authors say that their findings do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with persistent mild to moderate COVID-19.

  • No “Miracle Cure” for Coronavirus Until Clinical Trials Prove Madagascar’s Herbal Medicine

    Scientists are putting an herbal remedy from Madagascar, purported to cure COVID-19, to the test. Salem Solomon writes in VOA News that researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, in Potsdam, are collaborating with a U.S. company, ArtemiLife, to test an extract from the plant Artemisia annua to determine its effectiveness in speeding recovery from the virus.

  • “A lot of hope”: Experimental Seattle Coronavirus Vaccine Study Shows Promise

    An experimental vaccine against the coronavirus being tested in Seattle showed encouraging results in very early testing, triggering hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers, its maker announced Monday. King5 reports that study volunteers given either a low or medium dose of the vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. had antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19. The study was run out of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute In the next phase of the study, led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, researchers will try to determine which dose is best for a definitive experiment that they aim to start in July.

  • Coronavirus Vaccine: First Evidence Jab Can Train Immune System

    The first hints that a vaccine can train people’s immune system to fight coronavirus have been reported by a company in the U.S. James Gallagher writes for the BBC that Moderna said neutralizing antibodies were found in the first eight people who took part in their safety trials. It also said the immune response was similar to that in people infected with the actual virus. Larger trials to see whether the jab protects against infection are expected to start in July. Work on a coronavirus vaccine has been taking place at unprecedented speed, with around 80 groups around the world working on them. Moderna was the first to test an experimental vaccine, called mRNA-1273, in people. The vaccine is a small snippet of the coronavirus’s genetic code, which is injected into the patient. It is not capable of causing an infection or the symptoms of COVID-19, but is enough to provoke a response from the immune system.

  • Study Shows Treatment with Antiviral Drug Interferon(IFN)- α2b Can Speed Up Recovery of COVID-19 Patients

    An international team of researchers led by Dr. Eleanor Fish, Scientist Emeritus at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, UHN, and professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Immunology, has shown for the first time that an antiviral drug can help speed up the recovery of COVID-19 patients. UHN reports that according to the new study, published Friday in Frontiers in Immunology, treatment with interferon(IFN)- α2b may significantly accelerate virus clearance and reduce levels of inflammatory proteins in COVID-19 patients. The research team found that treatment with this drug, which has been used clinically for many years, significantly reduced the duration of detectable virus in the upper respiratory tract, on average by about seven days. It also reduced blood levels of interleukin(IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP), two inflammatory proteins found in COVID-19 patients.

  • Increased Extraterrestrial Ambitions Threaten the Future of Space

    As the number of nations and businesses across sectors look outward to space for new opportunities — and commercial space activities grow — the sustainability of space exploration is more important than ever. as more private sector entities get involved in commercial space activities, the more important it becomes for stakeholders to agree on norms and rules if we are to coordinate space activities to the benefit of everyone.

  • U.S. Seeks to Change the Rules for Mining the Moon

    At the moment, no company – or nation – is yet ready to claim or take advantage of private property in space. But the $350 billion space industry could change quickly. Several companies are already planning to explore the Moon to find raw materials like water; Helium-3, which is potentially useful in fusion nuclear reactors; and rare earth elements, which are invaluable for manufacturing electronics. Anticipating additional commercial interest, the Trump administration has created new rules through an executive order following a 2015 law change for how those companies might profit from operations on the Moon, asteroids and other planets. Those rules conflict with a longstanding international treaty the U.S. has generally followed but never formally joined.

  • Comparing Water Risk Tools for Companies and Investors

    Faced with worsening water security across the globe, companies and investors are increasingly concerned about the water risks faced by their operations, supply chains and investments – and looking for tools to help to assess these risks. New report details similarities and differences between three leading water tools.