20 Episode results for "Mattie Safai"
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR. Mattie Safai here shortly reporter Emily Kwong. Hey Emily Hi Mattie so. We're off today on Christmas Day. But we didn't want to miss a chance to wish you happy holidays into say whatever. You're celebrating if you're celebrating. We're hope you're having a good day fact. Check true true. Speaking of Facts Matt each have one fun holiday. Fact that we're going to share with each other and you can share it to with friends and family if you need a little. I don't know Scienc- let's see cocktail chatter this week. Okay I'm going to go. I start so you know up on the house. Top back Christmas song about the reindeer up the house up. Click Click. Click every year. A here it right. Here's here's the thing. Some reindeer do make a clicking sound when they walk but it's not from their hooves hitting the ground from their butts. So here's the thing. They actually as their tendencies snap over the bones in their feet it makes a clicking sound. It's apparently apparently a very efficient way to get around. And some people think it might play a role in helping members of the heard. Stay in contact during snowstorms or bad weather as they're traveling traveling together. That is genuinely astonishing. Right tap dancers look. We'll tendon all right. My fact is a little depressing. Hope you're ready honestly. That's perfect for the holiday. We go all right well. Did you know that. mistletoe is actually a parasite. I just had to get it out in one sentence. You have to. It's kind of alarming. Because it's this plant we all make out under our loved ones under right. It's earful and beautiful but it's not so good for trees. mistletoe actually uses its roots to tunnel into the tree's bark and suck out nutrients and water and energy this has been known to kill trees or at least weaken and disfigure them. Those are two very very different facts. We're in two very different moods all right. That's enough out of us before we go. We want to say thank you to all the listeners who have answered answered our call to donate to your local public radio station this month. It means so much to us that you've stepped up and shown support. And if you haven't donated there still time to help us crush our podcast. podcast enemies. I mean friends in the competition here at NPR. For who can drive. The most donations eat are dust. detro- that's right. The link to gives donate dot. NPR Dot Org org slash short again donate dot NPR dot org slash short. We're back tomorrow with a new episode. We'll tell you about a study that identified one of the germiness places in the airport hint. It is not the bathroom until then. I'm Maddie Safai. I'm emily and thanks. For listening to shortwave from. NPR
Happy New Year!
"Maddie I hear was short. We've reporter Emily. Kwong here to say happy New Year to you. We are off today but wherever you are. We hope you had a safe and happy. Happy orbit around the Sun and if your brain hurts this morning science tells us that that's because stay with me here. You took alcohol. That was outside of your your body and swallowed it therefore moving the alcohol inside your body and you probably did that too many times that science. And we're here for you in this moment. Almond the Johns Hopkins Headache Center recommends water. Lots of water. If you celebrated a little too much and other liquids like soups or sports drinks. But Avoid Loyd Acetaminophen AKA tylenol. Because your liver has had it rough enough already speaking of celebrating. We want to celebrate you for supporting public radio this month all month long on we encourage you to give to your local. NPR member station. And so many of you did that and we can't thank you enough for it now. We can look forward to another orbit around the sun and another her two hundred. And fifty five shortwave episodes. Give or take twenty. Twenty is a leap year. Well Happy New Year I mattie Safai and I'm emily we're back tomorrow are with new episode of shortwave from N._p._R..
Introducing Short Wave
"Mattie Safai here the host of shortwave NPR's new daily science podcast. We're coming you Tuesday October fifteenth we'll explore groundbreaking discoveries is that are in the news some scientists brought back brain activity in some really dead pigs really picks I mean these pigs were dead for like four all right that all wait harder but like not that much harder the station this is npr how'd you hear me we have you loud and clear NPR how'd you hear US sound great hi this is really just perfect for that daily commute you know what I'm saying so come hang out and subscribe now to short wave from NPR pay for it and we're going to need to as the science progresses we're going to do all of that in about ten minutes and shipping has something going for it that's kind of cool which is that they have publicly acknowledge that they have our problem dirty that's the first hi. I'm shipping I did it I quoted Spiderman. I vowed I couldn't help myself that wasn't so bad like I feel like I kind of understand nuclear fission right now you kind of do but hey we Safai it thank you so much for taking time to talk to us from space very cool and listen we're not taking ourselves too seriously over here with great power of scrape responsibility insightful to that's a problem we have not yet worked out because everyone wants to cure these diseases in these kids but we have not confronted the fact that if we actually succeed what it's going to cost and how we're going to I have a problem I have a problem and it is grasses we'll take you everywhere even outerspace Houston station is ready. Our four hour cease to minute well even deal with those complicated big picture things wasn't I cover a lot of like big pollution heavy industries as a climate reporter.
The Squishy Science Behind ASMR
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR. Mattie Safai here with our very own shortwave reporter and sometimes host I Emily Kuang Greetings Emily Quang Hai Mattie I emily hello why are we whispering because today's canopy it's a whole nother world up there and she wants to get more female scientists into it that's tomorrow on shortwave from N._p._R. Yeah here she is unwrapping a starburst that is a starburst and mean unwrapped minor called is Asmar Darling here she has quietly touching a little house made of Legos with her fingernails these videos these vegas millions of views on Youtube Ninety six when you and I could be whispering soft tapping rustling paper there seems to be a visual component to all of this not always things like slow movements delicate and Mattie in situations like these she would enter this trance like state of relaxation defeating itself is a warm or Julia Puerto helps us explain the science behind the sensation and we ask does this have anything to do with the slime trend losing her and she still remembers vividly a little girl and occasionally she get this very distinct feeling in certain situations really early examples would that brain tingling feeling experienced by some people is called. As Amar Autonomous Sensory murdy response a psycho physiological experience reliably triggered by certain things like whispering personal attention soft voices a whole host of things so today on the show asthma research the support for this NPR podcast comes from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company family owned operated and argued over since nineteen eighty proud supporter of independent thawed whether that's online over the air or antibody this feeling they had Asmar so these people just like get relief Zenda out by whispering there's a whole host of different triggers for different people and it's only been a thing in public discussion for about a dozen years that's about win in two thousand seven people began to find each other and build communities online calling she is a real life person experiences Asmar re-live one and researches it s Mars not exactly a big field of scientific study oh more at Sierra Nevada dot com okay so matty yes ma'am our tour Guide through the World Asmar is Julia Puerto we're going to hear from her at hand gestures can induce an as Amar experience one of the most popular a s m artists on youtube that's what the people who make these as videos do things like Watching my mom brush her hair or make upon getting my feet measured for school shoes teacher explaining something to me really carefully I personal favorite here she is counting down slowly in a whisper from one thousand nine across the Internet I get coming for you little bit like music juice chills or or inspired chill so sometimes you know if you hear an amazing speech like Martin Luther King's speech you might get those kind of the you hear this we hear it but for some people they feel it and that's what happens for Julia and those who experience there's goosebumps those shivers up your spine which is really kind of complex emotional aesthetic response to some people experience other people diners best shows that the less able to inhibit sensory and emotional responses basically they were less able to separate the link between what their senses experience it nor how many people experience it at all the important thing to know here is there isn't a ton of scientific research on this topic there is in my hand is slime flow technically slime with little foam pieces inside Tim with new Asmar triggers on the Internet remember the using I mentioned earlier yeah I remember that it was unfortunate I have with me in my hand trains run a restful state basically not doing anything and they looked at this specific network within the brain something called the default mode network which is associated with things and so this is a young woman doing this in your like looking at her face and she's really close to the camera it seems very intimate is if it's not like this sexual feeling what is it like in the brains of people who experience it what's going on we don't actually know what is happening truly in the brains of people who had in one study though that really interested Julia it's a two thousand sixteen paper by Canadian researchers that looked at the brains of people who experience Asmar when hey named Julia my name is Judy Wary Oh God I haven't thought about my age on thirty one Julie is about to start lecturing at the University of Essex this pulling sensation that starts at the the crap ahead with mice like bubbles onto the scout bet bets on where bubbles go in conspired throughout the rest of the body Saddam spine the limbs it's my son says or something like that kind of like I said this is one of many early studies and what's also interesting is how people are experiment like daydreaming in mind wandering and also self-referential thought and what they found was the essentially the they they thought that the brain network activity officially which is exactly the opposite of what you would expect if it was somehow a sexually arousing I don't know why but that makes me feel better about it it is it something else so not doing something different accu are shrinking in your seat I try and get as far away from me as possible I don't I don't like it you WanNa play with it I mean something that produces sound and I'm going to introduce it to you a little bit of flare so what I'm holding her glitter or charms next into it people gotten very creative with their signs fun to play with and it also has a sound not doing it for you know it's picking up and what they're feeling in their bodies sensory emotional experiences weren't as suppressed okay that makes sense to me they experienced their sensors in a different way then like I experience why is this a sex thing on to be honest that was my initial thought to I don't experience I assume are but Julia said based on studies she's done model showed we wanted to ask our scientists Julia if slime is a bona fide trigger for Asmar I mean I guess there are powerless probably people who experience why does is more help you go to sleep and another important question with regards to sleep is does it not only help you get to sleep but it does also improve the quality of your sleep so why did you why don't you start one I brought this in because if you search Hashtag on instagram right now guess how many posts why do some people experience it at a higher intensity than others and also and this is really interesting to me what is the effect of Asmar on sleep so we know a small would experience a small watching things like slime videos however one thing I would say the actually there's been quite a lot of interlocking between different what it means for people on the Internet she's focused though on the world of science and has a lot of outstanding questions why do some people experience it and others don't do you hear that yeah I can hear in the last few years there's been booming videos of people manipulating slime yeah it'll have our videos of people doing exactly what you're doing right now just manipulating slime and making these satisfying cheese sounds are there groups of people during those who do Mars not the feeling of getting turned on eight I'll research we of course measured people's heart rates and on average heart rate decrease when people watched as for some people this might be like the modern day version of counting sheep don't have the brain tangles it's not Asamara that's talking to you at the same time Julia said that the more Mars linked to things like slime videos that could change it the Internet of oddly satisfying yeah the Hashtag asthma because I suspect it is piggybacking on tomorrow as kind of Tom to get people to watch videos friends so s Marin slime and things buying have all kinds I don't Mc Bang started in South Korea broadcast people eating food while talking to their audience with high sounds county one thousand nine hundred ninety nine so when you see a video someone let's say cutting soap opera singer cookie oh someone playing with really pretty slime that may be oddly satisfying but if thanks again to Julia poor area in the UK and special thanks to Emmanuel Johnston NPR's Vanessa Castio for their help on this episode who experience an anti-us Amar like instead of feeling sued right now I feel very unsettled in my belly hurts that would be called Ms Afon. Different efforts quality microphones what a nightmare the Internet slime and things done
Lankum And The Strange New Sounds Of Ireland
"Channel NERD and creator of X. K. C. D. explains how do you science to tell if you're a ninety skit listening subscribe to shortwave from NPR Mattie Safai here host of a new daily science podcast from NPR called shortwave. We'll bring you new discoveries everyday mysteries and this week Randall Munroe profession we'll play a little of his own bear creek and what draws me to this record and to their music not only is my love for Irish music but those deep drones that are so emphasized its same thing that draws me to some electrconic music John Hopkins or something or even bands like portishead we'll start off with the most traditional of Langham songs NPR music you're connected to all songs considered I am Bob Boylan and today we are heading to Ireland will at least musically so and taking us on that Contemporary Irish unseen that is now in the past couple years kind of expanding itself I to be more like encompassing also like kind of folk singing traditional singing owns and so forth that we're going to play a lot more of what is the sort of music that you hear others play the what is the sense of Irish music in the your album for the most part doesn't do that and that's sort of the beauty of why I love you so much is the way your songs on fold the you know that kind of world is well that's kind of evolving and they're becoming connected and then there's also like a really healthy like you know sort of any genre you can think of there'd be a healthy scene I am a conversation with two of the four band members of Lincoln my name is Radi Pete in the bond length from Dublin playing mostly in singing or there's so much music in Dublin in general like from from a like a family we all play traditional tune so like you know like real jake's that kind of thing hands around where you living you got to hear groups and stuff what what are you hearing traditional like that or yeah kind of anything like this A and Ireland especially in Dublin City and how is Irish music if I- listeners re this stuff that you're hearing and twenty nineteen maybe different from for us all that this is probably right now the most traditional thing we're going to hear the tire show the most what I would think of as traditional Irishman Straightforward Irish music what we just heard in bear creek core that traditional more traditional sessions Kinda music pick me something from your list maybe an example of what modern Irish music is like well I think maybe release O.`Neil would be a good person start with great and her record and the song titles called Pothole in the sky and so this is so I since I can remember would always go and like a play in sessions in pubs unlike lesson and stuff and that's that's kind of its own is in the end this guy meet me the money as singing and playing at just all sorts Reed Instruments Owen Amzine Lynch on vocalist also play some instruments in the band Lincoln slightly more towards originalist than we are but drawing on folk influences big time and her songwriting music journey is the extraordinary banned from Dublin Lincoln out in live long day top album for me this year he summoned me to try fun invalided this boy and he's original song that Lisa roaches she's a brilliant songwriter but this is her second last album that you're going to hear the album off hits in Alaska is that I don't want to Roy l one anymore okay so if I just heard that and I was driving my car or walking down the street what you said Arctic so so unique you know she's really unique voice take somewhere completely like not as traditional as yet pod all in this guy you spend your destination yeah so I'm going to say today as you play Dj you're GonNa pick some music for the same age so she's in her mid thirties put it yeah she's got one of those ageless voices as well I think a lot of people I do I percents Al not anymore that is a mostly folk song says she kind of does like like a kind of a similar makes us where it's like folk songs on on like Kinda originals may be children these to tune so far we've played are okay so now all sorts of bond to call the deadly and from Dublin theorem suppose mainly based around the world score well it's getting out BC leave any on in in of all got a really beautiful beautiful voice Lisa Neil issue or where she fall in depends what you class art is basic Dublin East for auto want to have sex with your mother anymore Sean Fitzgerald and he has kind of an ever revolving cast of characters around the joined the band and leave the band would add this is really the F. Ross one hundred m glenn moment says goodnight Were you yesterday maybe in the last couple of years you know people are definitely kind of getting a new a new tango and there's a lot of unique projects you know what I mean like an example of within the general traditional and folk like idiom or whatever in Dolan there's just so many different things being done and this is just kind of China you know like kind of trod scientists and I think people are kind of molding is in different ways and more interesting ways at the moment than has happened is your all it's why are new word AU L. and then the next one so okay I could see the wincing Either I you know when he drove in very well versed in traditional idioms are using that as one aspect in making a difference bigger sound you know and just I found this one on banned Campbell or lease up my own by the Lord Barham all hey sean the singer there is actually he's really into folk music and he sings like he's really into research and songs he sings a lot of folk songs and I think it's just like me it's something that sounds completely unique to them which I think is beautiful and I think you're doing that to how about if I play something viewers Got A thing I should pick or I now tied to pick your own music maybe leave it up to you whatever you'd like Not just all saying the same it actually sounds really different what's going on they'll see I think the most interesting thing for me to top it in in Orland at the moment on Wtam in particular people who are curry's to now eight years because she sounds like she could be anything between kind of translate it Yeah I love it you would you play this in a in a club I mean everything to a lullaby yeah would it strewn in my hearing that's a Baritone concertinaed aww on uh-huh and both her or bowed Bunder was You know that's just fatal that's and the lyrics to the wild rover in a minute but I just like when I first heard this this is my record that drone and it's so I'll yeah I'm gonNA play the opening cut on the record we can talk a lot about that else we've played so far has a beat this has a beautiful atmosphere say I've seen you perform once and it was a small spit stage at Newport get lots of layers originally conceived to link between the previous piece you played bear creek A kind of a daphne kind of composed for the albums in fact only examined many owing Dole it I seen yeah because I think the Ellen pipes obviously you have drones you have the the M tanner drone which is an octave lower than the low the on the chanter then you have the baritone drone tree drums so you'd have each drone plane the same as the lowest note chanter put an octave below each time so am this is the faster Breyer Creek number I chose that cut mainly for something that is very present on the record which is what's it say on Roy took for the purpose to kind of link like that and Kinda give an atmosphere before you go into it but like that's not to say we wouldn't do it in that way live at some point as well where you go from this in I want to live with this so a couple of things about the drone which is where is the influence for Music Johm where where do you where did it come so kind of like trying to imitate the pipes so it is kind of a thing that's present in traditional music and as I said earlier like I'm actually from the background so like I'm a bit something that goes back a few hundred years it was an development of the pipe since I think the era eighteenth century and then you'd have different techniques this wasn't one of the repertoire do play this in an evening we haven't yet but like this kind of the piece was like in order instruments like on the fiddle double stopping on the fiddle to create a drawl and I think that was originally an imitation of the pipes and he also here on a concertina fit into modern Irish music it certainly those two worlds just seemed like a natural fit I don't know if someone's like combining them maybe explicitly in their music chanter and a and the pipes described the quick to somebody who's so basically the difference between the Elon pipes and the Scotch by Quasar you squeeze the air sounds rice it's it should be there I think we're just maybe pushing it further than it would naturally go with like the pipes and lower pitched pipe like it kind of maybe an outlier of dot coin of form you know what I mean because he is he's coming from now on all about that kind of you know that's where the term comes from the Irish word for elbow you're squeezing the air battles you're squeezing the bag and playing the melody on the chanter and then you also have ears vision doctrinaire to that zone you know and to me like I don't I think we're just kind of hanging off the drone you know what I mean but to me it's part of like it's did you plug something in you know but but in terms of like my ears the two things are just different parts of the same piece show that Stop on your yeah exactly yeah that's a sound that were just really drawn towards would be into music outside of traditional music as well like on back to the lamantia new ways over cardinal can different sounds just to create these really textually rich and drawning soundscape so that's view some of the pipe steel pipes but where is that the main source for you it would fit so beautiful yeah I think something that we were kinda drawn towards doing in this album was trying to get that same sense All kinds of you know what I mean like he has that influence and to him it all sits comfortably in his brain so yeah I wonder if if the tradition doesn't like the facts Eh snow because we let the implies kind of obese and we have some other it's like harmonium unkowns Tina's and stuff all instruments that are air force through reads. I'm not ready yet. We were driven towards a little more wild rover care little drone and this is a traditional song a drinking song of happiness Sandra stuck crushing apocalyptic drawn just true using traditional Irish instruments in you know and trying to figure out new ways of playing them on how many hours it yeah like I could see they can influences considering side-by-side defillo player in our bond is very into like all tekere feral roars and you know uh-huh Bertone Concertina and then in this track is like Wisconsin Nicholson is about died vibraphone as well a Hammond organ I'm Tony Conrad Not Still Fan you know look Sarah Diversion Tim Hecker Unsown Also Cohen from music on him musically Oh we'll get to deal with the lyrics basically oriented yeah no regardless of what's going on there I suppose it's just like it in his own tank drums would be one thing and I'm hearing that wouldn't be the fatal like with the fiddle almost sounds more like kind of old time music there as well but it's got that we're not a drinking song depending on how you look at it and I want you tell me about the words to while Rover yeah three hundred twelve and it's absolutely I think it's it's really wild rover is a very interesting case because we have a song most people know of as a drinking song but actually started off life a few hundred years ago as an English anti drinking song it was temperance there's somebody who basically said finally stopped drinking and he has money now and did vibrate the walls of my apartment building the other day this no complaints from anyone so the wild rovers a traditional tune message into perspective where you have the Paris and saint well if I had half the money that I spent on booze in my life I could have had all these things you know could have raised eld how old is the verse that you're talking about do you have any sense am will a tink the fourth and print a fascinating thing to think about how a song can have that much important back have that much resonance with people they continue singing over the years and it can survive went through history and background is fine I you know older versions of the songs and ways in which to function of singing the song might have changed on I think `bout well you tell me so yeah for me I think the most fascinating thing of like research and traditional songs and there could be one just around the corner more at state farm dot com or one eight hundred state farm state farm here to help life go right listen to all songs considered from NPR music support for this podcast and the following message come from state farm who's agents know that your car snow state farm agent not only do they truly get you but they'll be there for you when you need them and with over nineteen thousand agents in neighborhoods across the US visions of the song and it had an this verse which was in the version that we found I think it just really puts the con of earlier temperance founder and master distiller of Tito's handmade vodka for recipes videos and more visit them at Tito's vodka dot com eighty proof Tito's handmade vodka V in home are more than just big purchases there are a big part of your life you put the time into making them your own so now it's time to protect them with your own my children property I could've had proper roof on my house it could have had a coat on my back as a very very regretful tone to the to the alive either so it has to have a kind of a general human appeal kinda appeal you know whatever hundred years let's take a break I'm talking with the ban Langham from Dublin and you're did fairs and we came across sometime around the early sixteen hundreds can you out of your songs like in twenty very often undervalued figure in Irish traditional singing and I think one of our great songwriters as well and I really the people can sing but also something that remains relevant I think that's interesting thing as well because if it's something that's too topical and only specifically Vince Time it wanted a U M we're talking about the the idea that songs lasts forever in the list of things that you gave to me of current music Generation Inc. distilled and bottled in Austin Texas crafted to be savored response all songs considered I'm Bob Boylan Langham is the band l. a. m. k.. I spent all my money Romblon on wasting all my money on beer and whisky but now I'm back in you know we'll never play the wild rover no more but it's kind of you know you hear it being song support also comes from Tito's handmade vodka born and bred in Austin Texas the live music capital of the world music just kind of part of our DNA says tito beverage because this is before there was radio charts are you know TV pushing crop music on people it was like a song too good to be you know to get widespread speculation doc his songs will stand the test of time and I think we maybe people will only really appreciate the impact he had in hundred years so this is a in white and for people to actually sing it so that songs the have calmed down true them all the generations to us they have to be good songs yeah and they and they have to be something that uh is there a song you can imagine surviving three centuries yes so one of the songs at that we wanted to play today is actually am it was Eh a not long and I think that's the wonderful thing about the tradition is there's this darwinistic element to it where it's only the really great songs survive you know then I think the seventies so this is a fairly fairly new but I really am I put my money on this one surviving perfect union the greatest love song of all time that he wrote for his wife Nellie Sung by landless and Song is how old he only roses aw headed by landless landless at the group that that you'll hear no singing it but it was written by a among Colleen Weldon who is based in in Dublin and their friends versus great people but they do unaccompanied traditional the recorded that album so tell me his name John Spoiled Murphy we just can't put put his real name John Do you do you don't get to do that as much anymore because you get these records and then never really see the liner notes to speak for all your poops the world round and Evans know ain't never no more a damn yeah but if you look out earlier it to me I think that's some of it yes but in usually it's kind of like a prodigal son type of multi uh-huh but isn't she e on though I know lane by Donna Oh oh ooh don't tell me about these beautiful singers landless it's very kind of ghostly or something there are four women the best Irish albums not just in folk like he's also recorded Casey Cam who I think's fantastic and the Jimmy cake another amazing Dolan based bond sports kind of mm-hmm uh the Irish cliche because January but yeah he's he's wonderful and he's actually produced some of the unrecorded they share let's play some of what you all as a team DID ANYTHING YOU WANNA pick of yours I know it's hard it's very hard ran ran a concern in Mo- me rescue of the band but tell us what are the sound like what it sounds like a chain and someone banging a hammer on a big piece of wood have 'cause they get booked a lot in as you imagine like churches and stuff like that so I've seen them in some really gorgeous settings just wondering if this recording big rumor of those fake river so hell metal out of that store findings just like the guy who's behind the scenes making it all happen that sound good I love finding a producer that I like and diving into records and Asong that's that's what the whole albums that way yes company here and in concert will they is that how they present them and they they plan spiracy I want to throw supports very different kind of spin on the song so yeah it was a version that we came across and from county John long society in the nineteenth century there were living on his Big Open Plain in County Kildare living all around the British army base and they were living there for I think we actually are at the man who does our live sound and who produced and recorded and mixed our album ultra the album I look at all these songs percentage of songs of yours
People Are Volunteering To Be Exposed To The Coronavirus...For Science
"You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. Mattie Safai here today shortwave Elise Spiegel one of the hosts of in visit Delia. NPR's podcast about human behavior has a story for US Haley says Hey Mattie so i. do have a story for you. And I wanNA start by telling you about this woman who gray she lives in Texas, and about a month ago, she saw this facebook post from kind of SCIENC- friend of hers. That started with words feeling brave. And then went on to talk about this opportunity where people like her. Just normal everyday people could purposefully get infected with the coronavirus. What and Lou was just like you know what? That's exactly what I WANNA. Do I one hundred thousand percent? Don't want to die very strongly, but I'm not super afraid of death. yeah, I mean in fact for her. She's these this as the most moral personal choice that she can possibly make because even though she might get hurt. It is from her perspective for the greater good. How old is Lula? She's thirty two. Okay, so she wants to get the corona virus and she thinks it's like her moral. To get infected elise, what is going on well? I mean the thing that she saw a thing for. Was this thing called a human challenge trial oh? Okay, yeah, you've heard about those. Yes, see I know this looks so. What how? How do you understand it? So okay, so my understanding is that scientists give people a vaccine in this case they would give them the krona virus vaccine after it was developed, and then instead of just sending them out into the world, where they may or may not be exposed to it. The scientists intentionally infect people in a lab to see if the vaccine works right examples I know over like for the flu and stuff like that and it. It is a faster way to get a vaccine, but there's also some really bad dark history there. Yeah, I mean there is a whole kind of Nazi research program where people were deliberately infected with tuberculosis for Vaccine Development and there have been other horrible examples, but people have started talking about it because you know. The cost of corona virus has just been so high in terms of lives in terms of the economy. La Hooah works at this organization in Texas, and their job is to kind of connect people with social services, and she says that after the virus hit, people just started contacting them like crazy, looking for food looking for shelter after a lockdown started, we just saw those searches sky rocket. She says she felt completely helpless, and then she saw that post and suddenly. It felt like there was a much more concrete way that she could help if this could take. Three months off of. The development of a vaccine that. Three months that. People aren't worrying about rent about food and people aren't, dying. So today on the show we look more closely at human challenge trials, and asked the question from a moral standpoint, a bioethics standpoint. Should we do corona virus, human trials or not? Stick around. Okay Lee so challenged trials. Are they the right thing to do? I mean. How do you even go about answering a question like that? Well the way that I went about answering that question was by reaching out to a man named James Cullin he is a professor in the Department of Global, health at the University of Washington and I wanted to talk to him not only because he's worked on vaccine development, for years. But also, because he himself has presided over human challenge trials. Actually he's done. A bunch of them brought a dozen. Has Anyone ever died? No. I'd like to keep it that way. So. What does James say about doing challenged trials for Corona virus? Well, that's the thing that surprised me. You know I mean even though he as a practitioner obviously is supportive of challenge trials. In general, he did not think it was a good idea when it came to coronavirus at this point in time, though I would not. That actually doesn't surprise me at all. Always really why not I mean for a microbiologist perspective which you know, the only one a half. We don't actually even know how much of the virus it takes at this point to get somebody sick, so you know there'd be this period of figuring out. What dose is the right dose to give people which you can take a lot of time in itself, and you certainly do not WanNa. Rush that part, yes? Yes sure and I think like James has related feelings. I think his main concern is that there is just so little that is known about how the virus affects people, both in the short term, and in the long term that he just could not imagine going forward with that kind of research himself. You know as a physician as having gone through my training and focused on premium known necessary. I'm this notion of first. Do No harm. I'm obligated not to. Put anybody's life at brisk at this point in time. The bottom line is I don't think it's safe enough. It's it's It's a very real dilemma. It's a dilemma for him because you know if you step back and think about it whether it's the right thing to do or not depends a lot on how you think about and calculate harm Okay, what do you? What do you mean by that well in America? At this moment there are about a thousand deaths day from Rona virus and Kubulan estimates that a human challenge trial could shave roughly four months off of the process of getting a working vaccine so if you started the trial today and you do the math using. Using the current number of deaths per day, which again is around two thousand sure four months at one thousand, a day is about one hundred twenty thousand people who might be saved whereas the number of people that you would be putting at risk of some harm in one of those trials is a much much smaller number. Got It so stand back and ask yourself for second? What is the greater harm? This is one of these philosophical paradoxes. Right? Know the trolley problem. He's talking about that. Famous ethical thought. Experiment called the trolley problem. Are you familiar with that many well? I took a single psychology class in college least, but I think I remember it. What do you remember that it? Oh, okay, it's! It's something like there's a runaway trolley on some tracks headed for five people or something like that and you are standing next to a lever, which if you pulled would switch the train to attract where only one person would die. So. I think the question is. Do you choose to kill five people by doing nothing or do you kill one person by taking an action that will kill them. Yeah, yeah, you got it and coupons says that's the problem that people like him are really facing now you know this is. Perhaps what we're facing now. More than ever before I don't think when we've, we've ever been presented with such a dilemma as we are today, generally speaking, if you think you should save the greatest number five, that's called the utilitarian approach, but some people think that an action should be measured not by its consequences, but by whether the action itself is immoral action like you should never knowingly cause death, even if your responsibility lies only in flipping the track switch. And for James, even though he can see that human challenge trials have the potential to save many many more people than would be harmed by them for him as doctor ethically, it still comes down to whether or not he personally but a person at risk. To So matty I'm curious. What would you do? Oh, okay, I mean honestly I think at this point it's. It's too early maybe to make that decision at all. Why. I mean I think it's like you know stuff that we've talked about. We don't know enough about the disease yet for me to feel comfortable with the risk, and you know another thing. I've been thinking about with challenge trials. Is that the people? I'm most worried about with Kovic? Are People that are immuno-compromised elderly folks people with preexisting conditions that kind of stuff, in generally it's not safe for those types of people to be included in these studies, so challenged trials really only tell you how well the vaccine works for healthy people, and then you kind of have to extrapolate, and and especially for covid that makes me nervous if that makes sense. Yeah, that does make sense. I will say that I did talk to a bunch of people, and it seems like whether or not this is the right thing to do. There is absolutely pressure building to do. Challenge trials, even coupon. Thanks so fewer betting man. Would you bet that we're going to go through with it? Go. That's a good question. I'm not a betting man so fortunately, but I think that I think that some people will go through with it. I think there will be challenge studies. Italy Spiegel. We will stay tuned. I guess I. Appreciate You. Thanks for the story. Thank you Maddie. This episode was produced by Abby Wendell edited by Deborah, George and fact checked by Emily. I! Mattie Safai back tomorrow with more shortwave, the daily science podcast from NPR. This week on. It's been a minute I talk out the news. My Aunt Betty. I'm more concerned about the black man that I love anything in the world because. I just don't want to get that call. Also parenting in the age of black lives, matter and the history of police reform. Listen and subscribe to. It's been a minute from NPR.
A Decade of Dzud: Lessons From Mongolia's Deadly Winters
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR. So for people. Who Don't know I totally know where is Mongolia? Mongolia is in Central Asia right between Russia and China. The landscape to me looks a little bit like a mixture between Montana and Mars if you can picture that delightful so this this time last year before you were short waves reporter. You don't like to think about that time. You went to Mongolia it's true. Why would one go to Mongolian winter all the travel guides discourage discourage it? I might discourage it but I purposely went there then because winter is at the heart of this whole story. So how cold are we talking here. It's super cold. uh-huh freeze your nose. Harris cold I actually had to tape. Hand warmers all over my microphone so it wouldn't freeze. Wow it is cold. Oh I found this piece of tape tape of me complaining about it minus eighteen degrees right now. This is really cool. I could tell me what you say. Cool coach it wasn't acting but some types of winters are so extreme matty that they actually have an official name so in Mongolian. It's called a zoo would that's when a winter tur- is so bad. It kills significant number of livestock in Mongolia or one out of four people make their living hurting. That has huge consequences. I mattie Safai and I'm Emily Kouanga today in the show. We had to Mongolia to learn about the brutal winters known as and how these natural disasters have changed enjoyed countries way of life okay so Mongolia is periodically affected by this extreme weather event. That happens in the winter called. What does this look like? Yeah so tender standard. I wanted to meet someone directly impacted. Divide it this man named Roy Eaton Gacek. He's a father of four super good bad Santa could do prates daughter's hair getting get somebody for school and everything. He was born a herder in eastern Mongolia and in January. Two Thousand Oilman as he tells it woke up at sunrise to check on his animals. Snow had fallen in the night about a foot. They were writing out a bad winter storm and he was really worried about is heard so how he cracked the door of his gear. Those are these circular felt cover tents that herders living and it was eerily quiet outside blindingly finding Lee white from all this snow. What did you see when he opens the door? Do not with this new household off. He's Carcass Saas new. Shut us a dozen of his sheep. Goats had died in the night. Those still alive yet about one hundred animals at the time. We're trying to find grassy but the land was literally locked in by snow. The hotel does ndas and it was really difficult to see this. He Sang. It was horrifying and it happened. Every few days boyens animals would succumb to starvation. Illness exposure and by the end of the winter he essentially lost his entire heard the type of food that came to his doorstep. It's called Saga which Mongolian means white death. While I think a loss at this level I imagine it's not purely financial absolutely I mean this. This isn't the same but there are dairy farmers in my family and you kind of like build relationship with your cows you literally like have them from birth to death so I have imagine it would be devastating like on multiple levels if you just slowly lose them over time right. They're not just economic assets and the loss of those animals is a social loss. It's spiritual loss experts. I spoke to in Mongolia. Described as a slow onset natural disaster different from a rapid rapid onset natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. So how many other herders were affected by the white death that year that year the two thousand six it claimed claimed about three and a half million livestock. Wow quite a bit law. It's eleven percent of the national hurt. And when you consider that at the time one out of every two households made their living hurting. It's significant begin. Animals represent wealth. So it would be as if your life savings were too slowly disintegrate. So what did the herders actually do in response Some rebuilt their heard those who could but others who lost everything they left gave up hurting fled the countryside seeking jobs in in urban areas uprooting. Their lives are good hurting Dad Johansen hair braided guy. He was one of those who left. Almost your short could the mother oh well many migrated. He's saying because it was impossible to make a living and it shows in the population and barter that's Mongolia's capital it has has tripled in the past thirty years exploded. Zid is one of the many migration drivers bringing people to the city. And I could see this when I lived there. I was reporting reporting and living in his apartment building and I looked off my balcony window. The hills were just covered in Gares. Those felt covered tents that herders live in. It was a picture. Sure of all of these people who had moved to the city and settled there and the city. Just couldn't contain all the new arrivals or does it still happening as it. On this scale that hits every corner of the country not that common prior to two thousand had happened about once a decade but was weird about two thousand is. It happened the next year and the next year and again again in two thousand ten so by the end of the decade there were forces and twenty one million livestock died in that period it totally overwhelmed Mongolian people that government tens of thousands of families packed up and left. That's that is horrifying of what is going on. Like what is causing US okay. So it's tempting to blame climate change and that is in fact the biggest culprit in this whole affair. Mongolia is indeed a warmer drier. Replace than it was eight years ago. But what I found is that zoot is actually caused by cocktail of other factors like over-grazing and deforestation. Basically quickly anything that destroys. The grassland is bad for animals. You need that grassland lending food it's a goat's buffet table and to not have it sets them up for good because this summer is a time when they fatten up. And if the grass is gone from drought or other things they're even more vulnerable when the winter is bad. Oh little bit of science here yes. The drought okay. Means less grassland and in Mongolia less grassland creates even more drought vicious cycle. Yeah because Mongolia. It's land locked all right. So the vast majority of precipitation rain snow. It comes from the land it comes from the grass. Water is transpired by plants into the atmosphere so so without grass Mongolia is even drier so given all of this is hurting still considered a good way to make a living in Mongolia. I think Mongolians are trying to figure that out. There's fewer herders but they're better prepared and trying to manage the Paschel and more sustainably local communities training herders to brace for a bad winter. Do things like make extra. Hey for their animals to eat. Purchase Livestock Insurance and pool there resources so the individual costs aren't so high all right so that that sounds great but are herders still kind of on edge. Are they like Shariq. Dowd anticipating the next. You know so I used to report in Rural Alaska inefficient community and herders. They kind of remind me of fishermen they know they're at the mercy of the weather but they're very tough and resourceful within their own lives and herders are doing the same. They're trying to make the most of what they have. They're kind of cultural heroes for practicing this way of life. That's become increasingly less common in the state. Broadcaster actually gives these awards to the best herders in in the nation. Please tell me you went to a best herder award ceremony absolutely went to a buzzer award ceremony. The championship herder. Who I met in the province was this man named near Goo Davidoff and I talked to him right after he got his award? Lord of host was also he was practical. Nature is unpredictable. It's harder there's less rain. Animals can't get fat but if we prepare extra hey. We can overcome such natural disasters. We don't have to be afraid this spring their animal's gave birth to hundreds of babies. I went back to visit during the birthing season in March. This pen is just full like a hundred lambs. Just these tiny little cotton balls near to make us feel better about this. Do you mind no. I just don't appreciate being manipulated. I wanted to show you the opposite right so not death life and what it signals for the next generation of herders. Who are continuing to do this? I'm picking up what you're putting down on. Thank you all right. I'm Lequan thank you for bringing us the story. Absolutely Mattie. This episode showed was produced by Rebecca Ramirez edited by yet lay and fact checked by emily. Von This shortwave from N._p._R.. We'll see you tomorrow.
We Don't Know Enough About Coronavirus Immunity
"Okay turning up the BOB, little bit ooh maybe a little too hot little to hallowed. Hey there. If you are new to shortwave, go ahead and hit that subscribe, follow button that we can start weekday morning with us like a little science vitamin that you swallow with your ears well I don't know. Just go ahead and follow or subscribe. You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. Mattie Safai here in today we are talking about immunity. Everyone wants to know especially now that many states around the US have started to open up. Does getting the corona virus. Once make you immune to it, or could you get it again? In, people are looking for the answer in antibody tests tests that can tell you if you've had corona virus, a lot of antibody tests that we're seeing come back either positive or negative, and that makes immunity also seem like it's positive or negative, cut and dry right. Not so much. I think the better way to think about. Immunity is as a continuum or spectrum where your body has reaction somewhere along this really long axis, and at one end it's really our immune system is beautifully complex. It takes many different molecules and cells to fight off infection Catherine Wu much like me is a microbiologist and a big fan of the immune system. She recently wrote a piece for the Smithsonian magazine. Magazine about just this. Why immunity is so tricky? A lot of people end up using the word immunity when they actually mean a bunch of different things, every infection is different, and every person's immune response is different so when I say I have immunity against something, it really just means that my body is reacting to the presence of something that is trying to infect me, not how well it does it. So today in the show, a beginner's guide to immunity, and what that means for how we understand, those antibody results. As Catherine. Wu tells us. The coronavirus! It's complicated. Okay so Catherine. Let's start off by talking about some of the basics of our immune system in your piece, you talk about how an immune response requires a symphony of cells which I love by the way in generally speaking our immune system response to pathogens like the corona virus in two waves. Walk me through that first wave. Yeah, great, so the first wave that really happens is what's called the innate immune response, and basically in this wave of cells. There's this very quick and general response, if you kind of compare the immune system to like an army or maybe. The guerrilla fighters this battalion of soldiers that are just sort of taught to recognize anything that doesn't look like you sometimes when immunologists talk about innate immunity, they talk about cells that recognize the difference between self and non self, so if the means system has grown up around all of your organs and tissues, it can say hey, this is a Hartselle that belongs to Matty I'm not gonNA attack that, because this, in context in Maddie's body itself but anything. Anything that doesn't have the sort of signatures that say this is a cell that were belongs to the body that I have grown up in. It'll say that's foreign. And I need to attack that and get rid of it. This can actually be anything from a pathogen that doesn't even look like a human cell to a cancer cell, which has come out of a cell in your body, but just looks strange or unusual enough that it's no longer recognizable. Yeah Yeah, and so, and then there's the second wave of immunity. Right so this is adaptive immunity. Right so the second wave is actually really important to frame as a second wave because it does literally come second, it's a lot slower, but it's a lot more specific We're talking about something that needs a lot of time to basically learn and and Taylor make a response that's going to root out very specific pathogens and target them. these are kind of like the stabers or assassins, if we're kind of going back to our our militarized or Army Metaphor, and if that pathogen tries to infect you. You again you'll mount that same adaptive immune response. If that pathogen comes around a second time, it won't be quite as slow. It'll be justice specific, more powerful and faster, and ideally what happens is you won't get a sick. That pathogen might infect you to some extent or possibly not even at all, but your immune system will have already been trained by past exposure, and be really good at fighting that pathogen off the second time. Yeah, yeah, in this is where generally speaking antibodies really make their moves right. Yeah so amp bodies are these y shaped proteins that are turned out by these cells called B. Cells and B.. Cells are part of this adaptive immune response that second wave that is really specific, but sort of slow to arrive, and what be solves do is they are basically antibody factories. They turn out these proteins that are able to do all sorts of disease fighting functions so a lot of people when they hear about antibodies now the sort of general description for antibodies is that these are proteins that are able to kind of? Of locked onto the surface of a pathogen like the current virus and stop it from infecting cells. If a virus can't get into a cell, for instance, it can't make more of itself. It can't actually do much damage to your body right right, so but let's talk about antibodies and antibody tests. You know we're talking a lot about using those now. As a way to determine whether somebody has had corona virus in the past in if that means, they're immune from getting it again, tell me a little bit about the limitations of those antibody tests. Yeah so I'm really glad you phrase it that way because the sort of you metrics that you're talking. About are actually separate so with a good antibody test. It can definitely tell you whether or not you have had an infection in the past but the way I sort of like to think about it is antibodies has can tell us a lot about our past whether we've previously had. Had an infection, but they can't necessarily tell us a lot about our future whether we're going to be protected from that same infection again, and this is the distinction that I think we really need to draw people right so this idea that people can get an antibody test test positive for corona virus feel like. Oh, I can't get it again is kind of the wrong way to think about it. Yeah, I think that's right and I wanNA. Leave Room for the idea that it may be the case that turns out to be true that people can't get reinfected if they have antibodies in their blood. That's definitely still possible, but it's not something we know yet, and you know I think it's better for now to sort of air on the side of caution, because if people assume that they are protected and they aren't, they might feel emboldened to go out and not wear face coverings as often or not wash their hands frequently, and that could put them in danger as well as the people around them in danger. So for now it's probably best to assume that. You know there's a very very good chance that we won't be protected. if we do have antibodies in our system. another thing to possibly add here is that you know there is precedent for this. We know of other viruses of pathogens for which people do. An. Antibody response to them, but that doesn't actually service good proxy for whether or not they'll get infected again right right, and that's kind of the long term right so it's really hard for us at this point to understand that because the virus is so new, but what about what we know now Catherine? In the short term for Corona virus because we have a little bit of data on it, right? Yeah, that's a great question and I absolutely don't want to give anyone the impression that we're all doomed to just have the same disease over and over and over and over again we are still working towards you know having an effective vaccine and people generally safely assuming that we're going to have some protection against the corona virus for at least the short term. I think it's important to mention here that you know. There have been other viruses that have infected the human population before some of the most commonly mentioned ones are actually current viruses that that 'cause Common cold like symptoms. And I think you know what researchers have figured out so far is that we actually do develop immunity against those corona viruses. They don't last too long in my beyond the scale of a few months. In the case of some colonel, viruses could be up to a couple years, but I think you know given that we're operating in the short term here. We're like six months into this current coronavirus pandemic I think it's probably safe to assume based on what we've seen. in a bunch of studies that people who have been infected once probably aren't going to get infected again anytime soon and people should take comfort in that yeah. So I'm kind of interested in this in general. Catherine WH, why did you decide to write this piece? That's very good question and I think this actually gets back to something that we started our conversation with which is used sort of evoking the idea that immunity is an binary I think I kept hearing. People say I am like I'm getting an antibody test next week. I'm really really hoping it comes back positive and I think that's one difficult thing about these types of tests were were were using like a molecular marker in the body as a proxy for something really complicated in part, because there are so many things at work there, so many factors that can determine how your body responds to pathogen that I just wanted to make sure people understood that they can have immune responses that are giving them partial protection, and that's still super important for heard immunity and keeping our population as a whole safe. They can be super well protected, and that's great, but that might not be true of the person next to them, so I think this is important for people to think about on an individual level in terms of we can't predict how you are going to respond to this particular virus, but it's also important for the population level of that. We can't make any assumptions about what's going to happen to the people around us. All Right Catherine Woo I appreciate you. Thank you for bringing your love for immunology two shortwave. It's very nice, thank you. It was a pleasure to speak with you. I'm a huge shortwave fan, and this is the honor of my life. All right gathered talk to you later. This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez and edited by. Brit hand and check the facts. I'm Mattie Safai thanks for listening to shortwave from NPR. For James Bride racism in this country has been a disease. It's been the cancer that has just been killing us, and now we want address the problem. I mean you can't address cancer, too. You know you have it and these people are seeing the cancer. James Bride on protests pandemic and his new book listen to its Benjamin in from NPR.
The Mind-Bending Ascent Of Helium And Why It's Running Low
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR. Mattie Safai here with science correspondent Jeff Brumfield and today. We're celebrating reading this year. The periodic table turns one hundred and fifty. Here's short we've we are marking the occasion by talking about some of our favorite elements and quite conveniently. I've brought along some birthday balloons. But these balloons have a second purpose. Mattie what is that purpose they also contain my favorite element. Helium and helium is really interesting in ways you might not expect. The story of helium involves attack blimps. Yep It involves space rockets. Yeah sure even cutting edge medical imaging listen to that but yeah. I've heard that the world might be running out out of helium that's true. The world's helium is leaking out as we speak so today in the show. We'll talk about what the helium shortage actually means and why a a lot more is at stake than a few bullets. Jeff here's what I know about helium. It's like the second most abundant element in the universe. Yup Good it's not very dense so sound travels faster through helium than normal era. Which is why your voice sounds so high after you inhale it? You're starting to impress me. Yes keep going It's a noble gas which probably means it thinks it's better than the other gases it certainly does. And that's what I know that's a great primer helium but understand it all. We need to go back to the very origin origin story of this element which actually happened a year before the periodic table was rolled out. It was eighteen sixty eight and the French astronomer bursch rules rest then travels to India to observe an eclipse. He studied the light coming from the corona around the sun and he sees the signature of what he thinks. Thanks might be a new element now. The British physicists. Norman Lockyer follows up with his own observation and confirms it and he called it. Helium in reference to the name of Histon Sun. God so that's yeah that's how it started down by the way is helium historian. David even Aubin. I'm a professor for history science at Saalbach in university in Paris. But here's the thing although it's crystal clear there's tons sounds of helium. Physicists can only find teeny tiny trace amounts on earth dino. Why because it was hiding because it rises yes it literally just leave? It just floats up and escapes the atmosphere. It's light enough. It goes off into space and so any helium. That's in our atmosphere will eventually work. Its way out of the atmosphere and into space. So it's out of here. It's like no I'm done with Earth. Yup Yup it's not interested camera lead. Yeah yeah if the earth had a stronger gravitational pull it could hold onto our helium like the sun does because the sun is enormous and it sucks all that helium in anyway for a couple of decades. No one can find helium down here on the ground but this changes in nineteen three in a little town in Kansas called Dexter. Exter- prospectors drilled this. Well and gas just comes shooting out nine million cubic feet each day in the towns people. Yeah it's a lot of ask the townspeople think. They've hit natural gas and they're all going to be rich and so they get together. They decide to have this big celebration with music and speeches and the the climax of the whole thing is they're going to light that gusher like they're going to light the gas on fire man. Kansas nineteen thousand three. Sounds like a good time time to me anyway. So they go through the whole rigmarole and they set this bale of Hay on fire that they start prodding towards the gas the gas I told you the helium Santa's anyway they they go to the entire celebration as they really wish. I've been there. I know you would have definitely idea would have been pushing the bail. Hey Yeah so they go go through this whole celebration. In the climax comes they set this bail of Hamphire they start prodding it towards the well they push it over the whole and it goes up so at this point are like are they like oh no it must not have been natural gas or they like do another bail. What's what you know? The historical record is not provide the answer to that very interesting question. Mattie but what does this did prove was that there was more than natural gas in that well and in fact it was full of helium gas gas. That's where it's been hiding correct so okay. What is helium doing underground well? This is the really interesting thing. Helium on earth is created by the natural radioactive decay of heavier elements like uranium and thorium. Actually inside the earth when one of these atoms splits apart but out it comes and atom of helium. And as it accumulates inside the earth it kind of filters up because it likes to flow and then it gets trapped in these pockets. It's in the crust helium pocket so anyway decks shirts discoveries you get a hot pocket. Yeah now I get it okay. I missed it the first time. That was a good job so anyway. Dexter discovery is a bust at first but soon it becomes clear that this helium actually pretty valuable because there is a great war brewing World War One breaks out in Europe now there are airplanes but the Germans also have a secret secret weapon. The use of the ship is a weapon caught. The allies unprepared the Zeppelin for the first time in history. It was possible to carry a large cargo of bombs hundreds of miles by air to enemy territory so we were talking attack. blimps Jeff we've reached the attack blimp stage of the story. That's correct Zeppelin's were actually used to bomb London during World War. One does that isn't in. The cloud was reasonably safe from attacking discovery but they had unity kind of big weakness. They were filled with highly flammable hydrogen. That'll get you so that that kind of put an end to the raids but helium is not flammable. UEM dirigibles could help the US win the war so the US government government takes control of the helium supply and went to work readying its own attack blimps. They had cylinders field of helium UNDIDAHK in New Orleans ready to be shipped to Europe in November nineteen eighteen so it would have been used very soon. The war actually ended before the US ever used its helium. Interestingly interestingly though helium found new life after World War Two with the new technology G. minus sixty cents an helping in the space race it turns Out Rockets need a gas to help push the fuel out through the engines. And you need something that's first of all lightweight. Yes this highly compressed chemically inert. Because you don't wanted the acting with all those volatile chemicals are in the field of great wine long so it's helium it's helium it. You'll Liam was actually used at every stage of the Apollo Program from the giant Saturn five rocket to the Lunar Lander when it took off it used helium Gilliam to make it centered run. Thanks helium so yeah. Helium is still used rockets today but helium uses. Don't stop there. Mattie in fact we're in a new age of helium. It's because of another remarkable property. It can be cooled down to very low temperatures. It becomes liquid at four point two Kelvin which is real real cold old. Yeah to put it in perspective. I spoke to a chemist named Sophia Hayes sometimes My astrophysics colleagues. Tell me the temperature of outer space is three Kelvin. So it's just one degree different from the temperature of outer space. Oh my goodness. That's particularly useful for Sofia because her lab at Washington University in Saint Louis Uses fairy special type of material called a superconductor and basically these materials. Where when they get cold enough? Electricity Christie can flow through them with no resistance at all and that creates very very very large magnetic fields and so that superconducting state is only reached at low low temperatures like that provided by liquid helium so she uses liquid helium in magnets and she uses these magnets for something called nuclear magnetic resonance she uses it to study materials. But it's basically the same technology is something you may have heard of magnetic resonance imaging like we're talking emory's that we use on people exactly and Mres are actually a part of the reason that helium missing such short supply now because MRI machines all over the world L. D. use helium and they use liquid helium. which is much denser than the stuff in these balloons so you know they need a lot of it but there are only really three places aces in the world that produce most of the world's helium Algeria Qatar and the U S? So say there's a crisis in the Gulf. Every researcher in in these associations will sometimes be watching those news stories and think oh there's going to be a cutback in our supply. I mean I know I know a lot of scientists that are worried that worked with lasers and that kind of stuff are worried about helium and general. That's right and it's really an issue of volatility because the prices can go up and down so much that Sophia actually had to shut down some of her magnets. Those are very high capital costs pieces of equipment and for want of a chemical to sustain it. The liquid helium. We're taking those off line. Making smaller. The number of experiments at one can do or maybe even shrinking the size of the research groups at the problem is GonNa grow for the scientific community. Maybe you've heard about this new. Google go quantum computer that supposedly his beaten out classical computers at certain calculations. Well it uses helium to cool the chip. Okay so Komo is quantum computers scientific research. Is this kind of coming to ahead like. Are we running out of helium. Jeff you know when I spoke to Sophia Hayes as is worried about that It turns out there other natural gas fields and other parts of the world that do produce helium and they're not being hardest right now some of them are a planning to step up production so that should help in the short term but eventually we are probably going to run out because once it gets out you know into the atmospheric spirit's flown off into space. It's not coming back but what about it being like naturally made during the radioactive decay stuff you talked about. That's true but that all happens one atom eh time and it takes a long time to accumulate even enough helium Philip balloon so nobody knows of course exactly how much uranium missing listen the earth and where it all is but if we had to guess we would guess that the accumulated helium is going to run out at some point. Well now I feel like garbage because we've got these three helium blue's you're sitting in here doing nothing. Well I asked Sophea how she felt about Helium balloons okay. That's that's a tough one. And there's a lot of debate in my community be of researchers who really value the helium every puff. If you will I will say I am not a balloon denier in part because of I think the helium that's used for party balloons gets every person almost to care about this resource whereas if I say how do you feel Argonne you may not have an opinion about are gone which is another inert gas. I do have thought about our gun. Jeff She's incorrect but that will be later. Well I'd be happy to come back and do this again. Mattie all right
What We Know (And Don't) About The Dangers Of Vaping
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR Mattie Safai here thanks for checking out this episode of shortwave the daily science cast from NPR here today with NPR health correspondent. Allison Aubrey Hail Hey there mattie today we're talking about something that's in the headlines a lot right now about thirteen hundred people like Piper who become crazy sick rate in the hospital walking around one day healthy a week later barely nations acknowledged vaping thc the psychoactive component of marijuana many have used a type of counterfeit vapes called Dank vapes Dane Dan she's actually in school doing fine she has stopped vaping and now she has become this advocate to get other young people young adults like her to stop she participated in a rally she demonstrated outside the offices of the e cigarette company jewel this month as part of this big awareness campaign I don't want to have happening to me because I was perfectly healthy a week ago I think Piper story really brings into focus this wider epidemic vaping there nick so how's paper doing now you know she's doing a whole lot better her sophomore year she started vaping then last summer right around the time when her family was packing up the car to take her off to college she started feeling in pain in her chest you know I didn't think anything of it I took some advil for it and then the day we laughed I was like I think I have bronchitis or something the like I was running fever my heart rate was like Super Super High I was super like lethargic and stuff so instead of heading to the college camp parts so bad debris it's like nobody should have to go through that do we know why these people are getting sick from vaping that is the million dollar question Mattie a majority it used to be talked about as an alternative to smoking so today on shortwave what we do know what we don't about why vapors are getting anything so these cases these very odd cases come on out from nowhere have really begun to shine a spotlight on this habit of vaping one else go through like the pain I experienced because honestly it was the most painful experience of my entire life like I was laying in my bed like sobbing because early breathing on her own right gasping for air and here's the crazy thing I mean all along the doctors are like Oh you have pneumonia oh we're going to put you on antibiotics it must be some kind of factious disease have you been around other sick people it took a long time before they realized this was vaping oh I was terrified I had no idea it was abyss she and her mom went to the hospital I to the Er and then to the ICU my oxygen levels just typed going down like more and more vapes are we talking about a company a company really it's sort of a label that gets slapped onto some of these cartridges these bootleg urges and you really don't know what's in them right dank is like code for tank is kind of cool good good weed I think I don't know my right our first they put me on like one leader to leader and then I had to be moved to the ICU. Because I was on thirty five liters of oxygen she is like the any day like no stone unturned we're going to find the thing causing this epidemic well turns out it's probably a lot more complicated I mean for star others some people have only been vaping nicotine and let's just talk about what you find in these nicotine vaping fluids are eight for starters there's a nicotine unprosecuted Oh okay but you know that said the outbreak of this epidemic is unclear I mean in the beginning there was this hunt for the singular 'cause you kept hearing from the CDC of chemicals and one chemical they use is called Diaz it'll docetaxel is definitely not something you want to be voluntarily putting into your lungs it can lead to this number melon flavor it's juicy fruit flavor well guess what they don't make the watermelon flavor out of the fruit things out condition where the tiny air sacs in your lungs become scarred and narrowed and this is not lost on investigators of the CDC here's The woman Maher sound appealing then you're going to top off this cocktail with the flavorings now we know that the flavorings are part of what teens are attracted to they say oh it's no what's in this stuff right and yet it feels like it's becoming more and more popular absolutely teen vaping has definitely become more popular federal survey shows I mean jewel which is far and away the biggest company making these e cigarettes earlier this year launched big ad campaign called make this different harms in the lung it is pretty much impossible for you to know what is in the e cigarette or vache vaping product so the government doesn't even why is it surprising that vaping is unhealthy this stuff has been heavily marketed as a healthy alternative to cigarettes as a way to get you off cigarettes right that's right one of the most addictive substances known then you add in a little volatile organic compounds such as benzene that and they're like some trace metals leading the investigation her name is and shook it there may be a lot of different nasty things in each cigarette or vaping products and they may cause that twenty five percent of high school seniors say they have vape nicotine in the last thirty days that's an astounding number okay and we should say for people who are like mornings the FDA has galvanized it's criminal unit to start investigating but really right now it's still a big hot mess I mean we're talking early falls under the FDA purview and president trump at one point came out in support of a national ban on flavored e cigarettes but so far there can't say exactly what these things are that might be dangerous for some people is there anything they are doing in the meantime we know they're doing lots of things the CDC has intensified its there is no chance at all that cooking a new generation of young people on nicotine via these e cigarettes is a good thing to do okay so we mentioned the government sit th the regulated you know e cigarette products there's so many possibilities out there I will say that the regulation of e cigarettes clear there's been no action on the federal level we have seen state step in to act independently and more states are looking into it so rich I was a pack a day smoker for thirty three years off the pot in it and took a couple of puffs and I was surprised at how similar pat about this and jewel and other vape makers have found a way to make these vapes really really potent they're using nicotine salts ah we were in the driveway my husband's spotted those plastic metal thing that was cracked on the Dr Rini picked it up and my husband was like I think this might be it's possible that if you're a two pack Dave's cigarette smoker switching to e cigarettes could be beneficial there could be some harm reduction there but public health experts agreed yes and so there's that culture combined with the like truly addicting substance of nicotine that feels like it's just creating this environment for a new generation to pick up reason why my husband and I were so alarmed by this is that this stuff nicotine is so incredibly addictive rate I mean there's no evidence that it price about the science of Asmar and how that's connected to a big internet trend of the moment that's tomorrow on shortwave from NPR. I was sitting around the house whenever he wants so it keeps them in our house instead of keeping them out of our house well I should point out that some you've talked about before but you know this is personal for you you've got the teens at home is ready to have two teenage sons and my older son was a freshman in high school and so one day James The brain for addiction to other substances it can definitely get in the way of learning it can cause tension problems I mean there's just a host of stuff that's NPR health correspondent else and Aubrey. Thank you thank you matty I'm anti Safai Comeback Tomorrow for an episode wooded absolutely I mean I remember watching these videos of kids kind of showing off smoking in the classroom like when the teachers backs were
Coronavirus Questions Answered, Plus A Chat About 'Indian Matchmaking'
"I was talking to my therapist this week and I was like Yeah Carter viruses. Crazy. I'm seeing folks like making a little corona virus pods and like. With people and he was like, you know Sam people need that people need people. So I get it like no one can be perfect in this. I think at the start of the pandemic everyone was like never leave your house never do anything do not breathe entering Lysol. That's it. And can you bring up that lifestyle with me? Right? You know how? Hey y'all this is sounds like. This week on the show, we answer your everyday questions about corona virus. All right. Let's talk the sound. Hey you're listening to it's been omitted from NPR I'm Sam Sanders in this week on the show we are keeping calm and carrying on in the midst of this pandemic it is what week a million of this thing and just getting through life every day it can be a lot even just going out for a walk or going to the grocery store can be extremely anxiety inducing. So we asked a bunch of you our listeners to send me your everyday corona virus questions. The kind of questions that in any other context might seem mundane. To help us out. We call up a friend of the show Mattie Safai it might just unlike sheriff hosts that's the role playing. Your answers will be more important if you say that you have a PhD. Honestly. In my own family found that that is not the case Sam. Yeah. Let's see if people listen to it. I'm joined by CDC chief Maddie so All right. Matt is not the CDC chief, but she is the host of NPR's Daily Science podcast shortwave, and also as you heard she s PhD in microbiology. So clearly, we put your questions to the best of the best. So in the spirit of public service ANSWERING THOSE QUESTIONS You on this episode, and so we're GONNA toss some of those to you. But we should some ground rules before we begin how how much can we really answer every question? I don't know you know more European. I think any time that you're talking about corona virus there are some lake general ground rules that you've got to think about any decision you're gonNA. Make because what you're doing is deciding between different levels of risk and that's going to be different for every person in what they need. So one thing you always have to pay attention to is the amount of corona virus in your community. Right right now there are different amounts of risk in different places so you want to really keep an eye on that. And then the other thing you have to keep them on your health status in the health status of the people around you that you're sharing spaces with. So if I'm a person that's immuno-compromised, maybe I'm undergoing treatment for cancer or I'm lake, my eight year old grandmother the risks are different. You gotTA keep that in mind and then. The last thing to think about what is the risk of the activity you're going to do and then one thing that people think about less which is how much payoff do you get from that activity? You know what I mean. So if you're alone and you haven't seen anybody for weeks and you're feeling depressed, maybe we'll. See. There's a big payoff to spending time with somebody. So those are kind of the general ground rules to get started on before we give advice for any of these questions. All right. With that let's get to the questions. We got so many from our list. We picked a few and show them to you. So we're going to have you answer them right now and provide color commentary throughout. Sure. All right first question? What's the deal with running I've heard inflicting things what's the likelihood of it being spread of someone runs past me? Okay. So this question makes total sense to me because I think there were some scary kind of initial studies around this. Yan where it says, runners could spread it for twenty feet and they were these vectors but that was kind of mildly debunked. Yeah. It was kind of dismissed I. mean there are parts of it that made sense but it wasn't considered to be like actually a real world scenario that was tested and it's really hard to test that so. When I think about running, of course, it depends on what space you're in. Right. So out side in fresh air going to have a lower risk if you're somebody if you wearing a mask if that person's wearing a mask, all of those things kind of factor in and as best we can tell Sam as a you know a somewhat general rule. The majority of transmission happens in close indoor situations where you're spending a good bit of time together. That is why it is absolutely essential to be wearing a mask especially inside it doesn't mean that there's no risk if you're outside and there's only a brief encounter, but it's reduced if you're running and you pass somebody for a second I'm not super worried. About that situation now they cough and sneeze, and you just slam right into it. Say I'm that's a different scenario. Go Home, wash your face, wash your hands but the you know the experts that I'm talking to are not super worried about that situation art follow up question for you on this topic as a runner I have heard mixed messaging about. Wearing a mask when you run some folks say well, you're outside you're moving fast, just dodge even stay away from people others are like you have to have it on all the time when I've done both. But when I've tried to run with a mask on my entire five miles, I ended up with a wet mask and it's like I'm boring myself. Yeah absolutely I mean, of course, wearing a mask if you can is a good situation and if you're in a really really busy city and you can't get away from people if you're like constantly dodging people I, actually do think it's probably a good idea. But if you're in an area where it's a little bit more open, I would say it's probably okay not to wear a mask when you're running. Again, anytime, you have the choice between them, a mask is going to be a safer bet but if you can get up really early before somebody's there or go somewhere else in and it's you know like either I'm not gonNA run or I'm going to run without a mask. Then I think that's a decision you have to make. So you're saying we should be doing three am runs in cemeteries. Sam Stop Phone, and it in getting up at three am and got done. Get it done. Get it done. Yes. Next question from a listener about animals can I say hi to other people's Dogs Oh. Yeah Samson is this question for Melissa is this question? This question is from Sanders. Heart. And make sure they're OK. Okay. So I looked this up because I wasn't sure and the CDC has weirdly complicated guidance on this. So really some pets like dogs or cats have caught Kovic from humans but the CDC also says the risk of dogs than giving Cova to people is considered low like there's no evidence that you can get it from the for or. The hair of other pets. But one of those owners that kisses, your dog, the mouth I was just about to say. So but this because the CDC still says, you should not interact with dogs outside their household. So I'm like man I. Guess the CDC is worried about people getting pets saliva in their mouths, but you shouldn't be mcing on somebody. Else's dog anyways Sam. Don't if you see a dog and the dog is really really really cute Oh my God you part of the Kids Sam Palmer's the kiss I cannot miss the kids you are. You're going to have to definitely miss the kiss for a while but so but I will say, honestly, you know briefly a dog has come up to me and the dog park it's onerous faraway. I. Pet it I'll say I have pet but the. Official guidance leave those dogs alone Sam. Understood understood. All right okay. This is one that gives me. So much I think about this question every day and get mad about it because no one can tell me what the right deal is what is the deal with wiping down groceries and anyone actually be doing this? Okay. So this is a great question again Sam it's not like it's a level of risk that you're trying to decide here. So I like this question because it really gets to the question about picking. Up The virus from surfaces right. So I would say generally speaking the contaminated surfaces that I'm worried about most are those like at services at hospitals or in small enclosed spaces without much airflow that a person has been in for a really long time or surfaces that come in contact with your face or mouth a lot like a cell phone. Those are surfaces that I'm I'M GONNA wipe down most of the time. I'm not as worried about a package of oreo double stuffed specifically to be clear from the groceries like I'm not that worried about it. So what I do I wear a mask, a hand sanitizer when I'm shopping certainly after interacting with the cashier I get home I unload groceries, I wash my hands, but you know again, this is a decision that I'm making as a healthy human. So if you're particularly worried, you have a condition that makes you susceptible. There's no harm in being extra safe. Okay. Well, this is also like this gets to a larger question which, I still ask a lot is like how long can this thing really just live on a surface? Can I'm still not sure? We know, and I think it varies by surface and by condition it does and another thing to think about is just because some virus is on a surface doesn't mean it's still infectious. You know it doesn't mean there's enough of it to get you sick necessarily it's kind of a numbers game. So you know surfaces are not something to be totally dismissed. I'm not saying that but generally speaking with groceries that kind of stuff you can wipe them down if you want to. But that's not the highest risk scenario. I'm worried about Gotcha Gotcha you should just avoid making out with the cashier's dog at the grocery store means if you can. It sounds like it's GonNa be a struggle for you. I don't want right and then thinking weird thing about me. I am I am totally above board. Okay. Okay. All right. Next question. How often should I disinfect my phone? Oh. Yes. Yeah. You know this is a nasty surface sounds or so nasty. Like. Bones or like the toilet seats of public life I mean do you bring your phone into the bathroom with you be honest you know What I'm saying so you gotTa be you've gotTa view wiping that surface like it's next year face it's next year mouth we think with coronavirus if you're getting it for a surface, it's from touching that surface and then touching your hands or mouth and there's nothing that I put closer to my face then my phone so I disinfect my phone a lot I try to do it when I wash my hands 'cause I, wash my hands touch his dirty phone again I don't think so so I have put a hand sanitizer directly on my phone in. Which? It's not the best way like low bleach wipe will do you good but it's definitely something you want to be doing. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Does alcohol my ability to fight covid? Sam Don't give me don't. Don't depress me with this answer. I will say you will be devastated to know that alcohol does suppress immune response as general rule. Especially, if you're drinking a lot in the NIH, even put out the statement that says if you're drinking when you're exposed to corona virus, it hampers your immediate ability to to stave off infection I. Know I know, and the other thing to think about here Sam though is when you're drunk, you're also making decisions that you might not make when you're sober Sam I mean this accounts for my entire junior year of college. There are decisions that I wish I could undo. So No, it's not just about your immune system. It's also about how close are you going to get to somebody? How loud are you GonNa Talk? So unfortunately Sam for you I can hear it in your voice your sad. But there are a lot of good reasons not to be drinking in a large group of people right now at least excessively. Okay. All right. Next question if I get a piece of hair stuck in my mouth while wearing my mask, it feels like an existential dilemma. Should I do all right? Sorry. Just sidebar real quick. I'm the guy in the restaurant where if I see a piece of hair in my food I'm like well, the haircut cooked we're good. Yeah. I really don't honestly for this answer. I'm glad you have a pro eating hair mentality because I will say. As a person who has worked in a lab with infectious pathogens when I'm trying not touch my face and like one little tiny stray air gets out of my hair tie I will say you learn to eat that hair SAM as. Part of the. But. But I do think you depends on where you are if you. Take your mask off deal with the hair wash hands sanitized. Put that aspect on I don't have time for all that. So you just eat that haired you'd be strong that here also let's let's be real here. Most hair is cleaner than your cell phone. Law. Their hair more than their phones. Through. Speak Truth. I don't want to hear it but you need to. Next question. Can you contract Cova from a swimming pool? Well, well, finally I have some good news. Thank you about. So, according to the CDC. There's no evidence that you could pick up covid from pool water like just from being in a pool with somebody who goes. In it There's a lot of situations going on one of them is that it's diluted right so it's like diluted in a bunch of other I mean a budge other stuff. Let's be honest. But so what what I would say is that like I would never go to an indoor pool right now. I would be really careful about social distancing outside the pool around the pool like as soon as I get back to my little chair, put my mask on for sure around all these people that I don't know. and I wouldn't be getting closer to six feet. So you still have to keep yourself away from people while you're in the pool like I wouldn't go into a super crowded pool but the water itself should not get you sick. Okay. Good to know last question actually. Oh. heart-wrenching question. How do I smile at people while wearing a mask? Honestly say yeah. These I mean the emotional range of these questions and It's it's a good question. Sam. I guess with your eyes I don't know I've also found scientifically that waving works. Okay. But you know smile with your eyes streaming inside your heart Hashtag twenty twenty this. Wow. How. Can we make t shirts that say that? With Your eyes scream inside your heart. I love it. Yeah. Well, yes thank you for answering my and other listeners, Cova questions and thanks to those who listeners for the questions in Jesse Hannah Catherine Sarah. Modiselle. Eliza Anne I will add one last follow up question based on seeing all these questions come in. A lot of people have so much anxiety around corona virus in this pandemic it's approaching OCD. How can people throughout their day? Take care of their anxiety around this pandemic. This is a big question, right? Like there's something to be said about US knowing that we're going to be in this for a while right and that's pretty scary. But I think one thing that gives me a little bit of solace and a little bit of hope is that we're not helpless in the situation you know what I mean. There are things we can do to minimize our risks. There are things we can do to. Take care of our essential workers who are keeping this country afloat. Right now in that is trying to take care of each other trying to take care of your mental health you know trying to exercise outside when you can in no that we do have some agency here we can make changes that can help us get to the other side of this ever long that will be and so sometimes that's something that I hang onto. Petra dog don't kiss your dog down go outside. Don't necessarily know because at other people's dogs and we need to have a talk on the way home in the car. So cute. Who Am I Get your mouth off these. This message comes from NPR sponsor better help better. Help offers licensed professional counselors who specialize issues such as isolation, depression, stress, anxiety, and more connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. When you need professional help get help at your own time and your own pace schedule secure video or sessions plus jet and text with your therapist. VISIT BETTER HELP DOT com slash minute to learn more and get ten percent off your first month. This message comes from NPR sponsor discover sometimes food is more than just food. It's an integral part of the community. So this year discover is giving five million dollars to support black owned restaurants to places like Rodney, Scott's barbecue in Charleston post office buys in Birmingham back in the day bakery and Savannah and hundreds more places in your local community all across the country, learn how you can show your support at discover dot com. Until recently Edmund Hong says, he didn't speak out against racism because he scared. Law. Listen now on the codes which podcast from NPR. We are back you're listening to. It's been a minute from NPR sanders joined US episode by Dear Friend and colleague Matty Safai, a lot of you know Mattie from her hosting duties on NPR's shortwave podcast, a daily podcast, all about science. But matty, glad to have you here for this next segment because it's really not about science. Yeah. All right. They do say I'm this is all I've got this my whole. Well we'RE GONNA. Play my favorite game right now it's called who said that? I'll share a quote from the week gotTa guess who said it or guests the story that I'm talking about the winner gets nothing to lose nothing. But either way you'll be a winner because reading by yourself. You. You'RE GONNA. Be Pop culture with the rest of the kids I on. Here we go. Hello Fellow you. I quote, tell me what big company said this here's a quote. To be clear we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions who said that big company that wow, Osam that's a wide berth I could see a lot of big companies are and give you a hint one of my favorite grocery stores probably one of your favorite grocery stores it can't be Wegmans. Wow highbrow. He's a Wagmans. You know this is the grocery store everyone shops at in college because they have the best snacks and they're cheap. Grocery store the. Grow Grocery store and they had like different ethnic names for their different varieties. Oh, this is trader Joe's with that. All that nonsense they have on their packages. Yes. Trader Joe's because two thousand, twenty years coming for everyone. Are under pressure to change some of the names they use for their food. Yes. Yes. I've seen that and I'm like, what are you? What is this? What are you doing? I didn't know how widespread it was. So I knew that they were using trader Jose for their Mexican foods, but they also use trader means to brand their Chinese food's Arabian Joe for the Middle Eastern fans trader Gi toes for Italian food and this one. I had never heard before they call the Japanese cuisine, the brand name for that is trader Joe's on absolutely. Sam. I don't even like. Them Right. It's weird. So there was a petition. To have them stop doing that and trader Joe's said this week we might change some but we're not going pressure real and that comment they gave was to USA Today they were kind of defensive whenever someone statement with we want to be clear. Yeah. That's true. There's never been a good conversation after that. It's like when your mother calls, you buy your full name. Playing no, absolutely not do better trader. Joe's all right. You got that one relations. Next quote tell me this was a viral craze that swept to the Internet this week. Tell me what I'm talking about. Do people not know you can just post hot selfie for no reason. Oh. Is this the black and white vibe that challenge? The black and white challenge are maybe you know more about it than I do I'm still confused as to what it actually is. a lot of listeners you may have seen in recent days a lot of women that you follow on instagram famous or not have been posting black and white cell fees under the Hashtag challenge accepted. It's a black and white portrait of herself with the caption that gestures at the idea of women supporting one another. And it. I, it was cute because the Internet within a day or two everyone was like this is stupid. We don't like it. It's not real empowerment. But everyone. Did it reese Witherspoon Jennifer Lopez Ivanka. Trump this girl in college like everyone did it and trump this girl I used to date in college everybody everybody. Did you see it a lot this week I saw it i. did see it and I have been invited as well. But as a person that is very much offline Sounds hard. It sounds difficult. I can't be having sixty five selfish trying to get the right one right now you know what I mean true. True. All right. Last quote I think we're just going to play the song for you and you have to guess who said it Uh Pretty. Famous actor. If you come within six feedings mask on NASCAR. On. Mask. ON NASCAR ON. But if you don T by days, it's pencil pants off. That's pants aw. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. This is some immunology based music I'm trying to think okay. First of all, I'm a little concerned with them saying if you have the antibodies pants off because we don't necessarily know how antibodies correlate to. Find. You're right. You're right. That's not the point. I don't know God. I, like. Do you watch succession on HBO? No but I've heard things it's one of the Magin dragging. It's not about. Okay wait strike an actor who made a song Oh, an actor who made a song actor from Hbo Succession which You have. Not, watch. So that hinted helping you now I feel bad about this okay. I've got nothing this song is written and performed by Nicholas Braun who plays cousin Greg on Hbo Succession All right okay. So this whole thing is a joke it's a joke single the song is called antibodies do you Have the and it's all about the desperate search for love and the covert era and so on at. t's the concept for the song on Instagram just being funny and an anr person from Atlantic records cinema DMV, and like you should actually make this a song and so they made it a song. They made an absurd music video for it, and now it's GonNa be a benefit for partners in health and the CO program. Right okay thanks cousin Greg. It is a catchy song though not scientifically and medically sound I'm just a little nervous about you know what I mean. That's what my job is being a little bit nervous for all of you. Shall we sing ourselves to break? Absolutely come within six now, we have to sing in imagine dragons soft just leave me alone I thought it was. Them I know of wagons biggest song him in a new day. To. Day. I'm. A. I'm waking up. No I think we got. The sound of my voice thing imagine dragons will actually expelled grown of. Matter, you won the Game I. I definitely won the game kind of definitely won the game Congratu fricken -lationist. Thank you for your time. It's always fun to be with you. Time for a break. When we come back, we'll talk about my favorite new show. Indian matchmaking BRB. Support for this podcast comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helping NPR, journalistic excellence in the digital age. I'm Jen White, the new host of NPR's one a daily show that asks America what it wants to be. Hear from people across the country listeners like you with conversations relentlessly curious on the issues that matter most join me next time on one eight from NPR and W. a. m.. U.. We are back you're listening to. It's been a minute from NPR I'm Sam Sanders. All right. So a lot of you probably know by now I watch a lot of net flicks sometimes for work most time just for me any who last week just like every other week yet another new show popped up on my Netflix that I could not ignore I'm see. I'm Malays Nights. MEKA That show is called Indian matchmaking in it stars that woman you just heard seem at the power from Mumbai. She's this matchmaker on the show with a of her clients. This show it is so much fun but it's also in some ways very problematic had a lot of questions about conflict and to talk it out I knew just who to call. Hello. How are you? Hi, Sam. I'm good. How are you? I'm good I. Miss You. It's been how many weeks since then it? Oh my God. Oh, my God, that is the former until recently she was our intern here. It's been a minute and I've noticed that she has been tweeting all about Indian matchmaking since that show dropped. So I will let her tell you what the show is all about. It's an Indian reality show that kind of details away that arranged marriages happen not just in the US. But also a back home in India and kind of walks you through the process that a lot of I guess younger millennials are going through like how they're navigating this cultural tradition that has been you know embedded Indian culture for so long they're following it and they're kind of exploring how it's turning into like this new almost kind of dating situation. So I find that really interesting. Yeah and I was surprised by how much of a business this is the main character? Is this woman called Sima on? And her job is just to be a matchmaker. India. Big Industry. Very big fat industry. And it is a business. She goes out to find clients. She works with the families to help them find matches. She consults astrologist to see if these things will work and there's a whole regimen in process you know she will send potential mates. What's called bio data where it's like a one page rundown of who this person is, and then you pick and see if you like them or not. It is much more intricate of a process and I, think I assumed before watching it. Oh yeah for. Sure for sure. Definitely I know a lot of my cousins like went through that process of like you guys like swap bio data's and I think someone actually like describe it as manual tinder on the show, which has a very good description because it essentially is that right? Like you have this one person who is the median between these two families which in India is really important because the families also connect is not just those two people which can be a good thing or bad thing depending on. What your preference But yeah, I I was I wasn't all but I, was also really scared of Sima Auntie I was like Oh my God. She reminds me of every Auntie that I left back home. Yeah. I. Mean I found it fascinating and I. Think my biggest question with this show. After having watched it is I'm not sure how to feel about it. So I binged it when I found to watch it and I loved it. It was just it was hilarious. It was sweet. I like all of the characters, the pacing kept me involved. But then as soon as I was done bingeing this show, I began to read all the pieces about it and a lot of folks were saying this show is problematic and they were saying you know it favors lighter skinned people it puts more of the burden on women. It's very classist. All of these bad parts of finding a partner are on display throughout the whole show no one checks that and so I wondered, should I have been offended more watching this show cuffs M I a bad person for just not carrying about those bad parts of the show and just enjoying Indian matchmaking. Terrible person you need to go repent immediately cancel. Twenty. Year that we canceled Sam Sanders and I regret to say that you. Know but but it is true I mean. Okay. So there's good under the bad rate and my brother and I were actually talking about this yesterday. So we spent the last ten years in India like I moved back when I was in high school I live in a city called Gina which is a city in southern. India. In do so like being from India is definitely a big formative part of who I am. You know I think that Western media has a tendency to portray India and a very condescending way and I didn't see that here. So that was one of the positives rate, Lake oftentimes Western media you see India kind of reduced or Indians, kind of reduced to a stereotype. So I think that's why I loved the character of those so much like she. Yes. So she was the one who had the denim like fashion where brand and she was the one who was constantly told like, Oh, you have to lose weight you have to be more adjusting. Should drop your life to go live with this man that you don't even know and lake she pushed back and I'm like that's like my mom like those are my ends are my friends are GonNa look after my face a man's poison mind support but Knows needs to be equity, equally? Strong. These are the women that I know in India that I rarely ever see represented on something as global and big as Netflix's. So I think kind of just seeing her pushback and saying like I'M GONNA stand my ground was I think one of the best positives of the show and I really appreciated that but. There's positives like that like we are seeing fully formed independent young Indians who are their own people and are just as smart in global and worldly as anybody else. But on the other hand, you know by showing these characters in that realness, we see this dark underbelly of Indian matchmaking Yeah I you know all of these couples are thinking about skin tone and Auntie. The matchmaker is matching fair skinned people with other fierce Gandhi woman talking about that candidly and. So some of that stuff was problematic. How do you take in the good stuff? You're talking about as well as that bad stuff. No I definitely think that like you need to push back and I think that was one of the things that really bothered me about the show just like the blatant color ism especially in the last episode I think there was a young woman from San Diego and I don't want to name her, but she is like rattling odd. Neighbors Rich. Sorry Richard I have to call you out on NPR. But like she is rattling off like her expectations, I don't WanNa fly on the wall and likes to go to the gym likes to stay fit somebody maybe that can cook with and she just blatantly says it she's like too dark. Fair skin and then someone I. Don't want someone who's like dark skinned I want someone who late skin right and I understand that reality shows are not there to moralise or you know tell us what's battered good. Love is blind as proof of that. But like how do we continue to give these things a pass rate under the guise of culture like at some point it has something that we need to have a really serious conversation about yeah. Yeah. Do you think overall that the show itself Indian matchmaking? is a vote in favor of arranged marriage or actually. Funny indictment of arranged marriage. So. I. Think it is. A humorous criticism of some of the aspects of arranged marriage like there are expectations like a bar. Now, like wanting someone who knows where the Bolivian salt flats are you know when I told them I wanted to Bolivia during the wet season to see the flamingos and that Red Lake he looked at me blankly he didn't believe Bolivia head salt flats like they're all these small things at the show is making fun of, but I think I will give them props for kind of emphasizing how important consent and how important you know autonomy is when it comes to these marriages. So it is kind of showing you how the system is evolving and how people who you know even if they're raised abroad, even if they're raised here in, America there educated working you know like they have the choice between a so-called love. Marriage arranged marriage but for some reason, like they're still choosing this institution that their parents went into and redefining it for themselves. So I, mean, there's definitely is a system that can work. I think depending on the people who are in the marriage I've been married for five years and I've realized that like it doesn't really matter how you meet. It matters what follows after huff Auntie matchmaker. To of of of any matchmaking, I'm going to be the matchmaker. I wasn't gonNA reveal so callously, but you know there are people. Thanks again to the bottom of joining us today she is a journalist and our beloved former interim. We miss you half a pack. Now. It's time to end the show as we always do. Every week listeners share the best thing that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag invade to. Let's hear a few of those submissions. Hi Sam this is Barbara Enter Bana Illinois. Best part of my week was spending my birthday with our son Sam and having our two year old grandson Henry lead us in upper been contests wall. We ate my birthday cake. Hey, Sam it's Tim and. Gillian. We're making our yearly call. To tell you and your team about what a great week we had. It's actually more of a month. But Julian four and would you get for your birthday will walk. Away love. Hey, Sam. It's Claudia in Lincoln Nebraska and the best part of my week was getting a new double bass and the of course, the base. So this is Clarence I see him my name is Shayna Portland, Oregon. And the best part of my week was going how. Protesting some black lives in Portland protests. I actually was let go my job about a week ago, and the best thing that happened to me this week is that I've been reached out to by nearly fifty of my workers, providing me and sending me love and support and offering me any guidance and I feel like I'm on cloud nine I sam this is art the in Philadelphia, the best part of my week happened when my two kids spontaneously decided to go for a walk in a passing thunderstorm. Our family has been recovering from covid nineteen. We all got in the spring. and seeing my kids in this every day act of joy gave me a profound sense of relief. Hi Sam. This is Megan Alderman in Indianapolis Indiana, and the best part of my week was one day after work I got home and my four year old and my two year old drag outside in the rain and we jumped danced in puddles for about an hour and it was just a magical experiences especially during this crazy crazy Kovic time. We have a great week. Thanks. Thanks Sam Good Bye Sam. By Sam Team loved the show even. WHO Thanks to all those listeners, you heard there Megan McCarthy. Shayna Claudia Tim and Julian and Barbara. Listeners. Don't forget. You can be a part of the segment as well. Singer best things to us at any time throughout the week just record yourself on your phone and send the audio file to me at Sam Sanders at NPR dot Org Sam Sanders at NPR DOT Org. All right this week, the was produced by West unbelie Sassari Andrea Gutierrez are fearless editor Donna. Hoffman our director of programming is Steve Now our big bosses NPR senior VP of programming on yet grubman listeners till next time I'm Sam Sanders we'll talk soon.
We Need More Coronavirus Testing. Are Antigen Tests The Answer?
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR. Mattie Safai here with NPR health correspondent. Rob Stein Rob. I miss you buddy. Hi Miss Humanity. It's so nice to hear your voice you to rub so okay. I think by now we have all heard. That testing is key to our ability to reopen the country. In a safe way. Let's remind folks of wide is right. You know ideally we need to catch as many new infections as possible to try to prevent new outbreaks from exploding around the country and more testing could also help reopen the economy safely by you know say testing people before they go back to work or even when they get on a plane. Yeah so there are a few different tests that scientists used for some of those scenarios that we just talked about we are going to cover each of them in a bit but bottom line. Rob Is we need more testing of all kinds yes? Testing capacity is going up which is good. But it's still nowhere near where we needed to be for example. You know the basic diagnostic tests on the tells you if you have the virus right now. We need a lot more of that. That's the long swab up. The nose tickled the brain one. Yeah experts say you want no more than ten percent of those tested comeback positive? That's because if you have a high percentage of tested positive it's clear there's not enough testing going on to capture enough of the infected people in the community so you WanNa be around ten percent and right now that number in the. Us is more like you know maybe sixteen eighteen. Maybe even his highest twenty percent. So yeah we need a lot more testing right. Which is where a new diagnostic test comes in test? You're here to talk about today. It's called an antigen test the FDA just approved the first one on Friday. Right an antigen test is different from the other tests because instead of looking for genetic material from the virus it looks for pieces of the virus. Proteins called Antigens. Right Antigen has actually been used for a long time like to test people for the flu first STREP throat. It's actually how a lot of pregnancy tests work to. That's right. They're cheap. They're fast and public. Health officials say they could be the key to getting our testing capacity to the next level. Here's Deborah burks. From the White House Coronavirus Task Force we have to have a breakthrough innovation and testing. We have to be able to detect Anna. Gin rummy than constantly tried to detect the actual live virus or the viral particles itself and to really move into Antigen testing and I know corporations today on the show. How Antigen testing works. And why we need it. In the first place I mattie Safai and this is shortwave the daily science podcast from NPR. All Right Rob. Let's talk about the other tests out there. Before we get to this low antigen badboy sound. Good sounds good. Mattie okay so the first test we've heard probably the most about the tests that tells you if you have the corona virus right now. It's called a diagnostic test. Most of them are what's known as a test. And as you know rob a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I worked in a microbial genetics lab. Oh Yeah I was known to manipulate the fabric of life. Dna Are Union. So I can tell you that these PR tests work by looking for a specific sequence of genetic code that belongs to the Corona virus that allows you to specifically detect that virus. That might be hanging out in your nose or throat Goo that. That's a scientific term. Rob Go well and generally speaking those are the most reliable tests but sometimes it does take a few days for the viruses. Show up in your nose or throat. So the tests won't necessarily identify someone immediately after they've been infected but for the most part is pretty reliable. The samples are usually analyzed within hours. Right but those can take longer if testing centers have a backlog of you know samples or if the stuff you need to run the test out of stock. We saw that a lot early on in the pandemic here in the states. Yeah and it can still take days to get results in some places maybe even longer which has been one of the many frustrations about testing in this country. There are a couple of fast genetic tests. That's bit out results within minutes. It's quickly as fifteen minutes or so. But there are some questions about the accuracy of the quickest one of those swan the one. That's gotten the most attention you're talking about that little white box test from the company called Abbott Labs. Yeah that's the one right right okay so so. Those are good genetic tests more of those happening each week and hopefully that number will continue to go up. Let's talk about the second kind of antibody tests the antibody tests. That's a blood test. So no swab involved in. It looks for antibodies to the corona virus. Your body produces bodies in response to all kinds of viral infections. They can in your blood in about a week or so after infection and the reason why this is important is the idea. Is that people who have already been. Infected may have some level of immunity or protection from reinfection. But we're still kind of figuring out how long that immunity might last and how strong it is absolutely right. You know an antibody test right now. It's unclear how reliable they are for someone to get a test and feel confident that they have or have not had the virus the tests that are out there they can give you know false positives they might for example pick up antibodies to related viruses by mistake other corona viruses are like maybe the viruses that cause the common cold can be useful really useful from a public health perspective to get a look at how much the virus has spread. And how much is out there in the community? Yeah and I will add that. There's a more sophisticated antibody test out. There called Elisa enzyme linked Immuno Serban Sassa. That test is more accurate but it is not as widely available. Fun Fact Rob it is also the name some clowns in my immunology department gave my puppy when I was doing my PhD and her name is Elizabeth. That is so cute. I knew that route okay. But here's the question. Are Antibody tests going to improve to the point where we could get one? That is quick Andrew That's the hope you know. In fact the FDA is trying right now to get a better fix them. How reliable the antibody test are right now to separate the good one from the bad ones because there's been a lot of unscrupulous companies out there making all sorts of unsubstantiated and really dangerous plans about antibody tests. So it's really question to answer okay. So that brings us back to this new test. Antigen test the FDA just approved first one on Friday right. The FYI approved an antigen tests. Developed by a company called Qui- del In these tests. Look for Corona virus proteins not genetic material kind of like those rapid strap or flu tests. He might have gotten before. This type of test is really fast. But there are other advantages to yes. So they're actually a lot cheaper and a lot less complicated than the fancy genetic test so it would be a lot easier to make us millions of them to screen millions of people every day. You know to do things we talked about earlier like say. A company wants to test workers every day to see who's infected so needs to say home and who might be clear can come to work that day that kind of thing right but the big downside with these tests is reliability. Rob Him was stamps. So the Antigen tested have been used in the past to do things like test for strep throat or the flu. They do tend to missed a lot. More infected people than the genetic tests may be as many as fifteen or twenty out of every hundred infected people. I mean that's a lot of people especially when you have such a huge population being test. That's the big concern and worry about antigen tests. Here's Jesse Papin Bird. From McGill University. If you're using this test to screen people to make sure that they're not infected and then they can you know go back to work than things like that. Then be giving people the message that they're not infected when actually they are and therefore transmitting so matty you know other companies. Developing these tests are doing studies to try to prove their tests would be more reliable than antigen tests have typically been though. They acknowledged that it could turn out their tests would have to be used to screen people and then get results confirmed by other tests. That's what the FDA saying about the first antigen tests that was just approved. Rob You said. Companies developing what other antigen tests are in the pipeline. Well there's a few out there that I know about one is from Massachusetts company that's associated with Mit. And it's developing a test that might be used on saliva nasal swabs and blood possibly there's also one in Pennsylvania that's trying to develop an at home antigen test to us on saliva and I've also been in contact with another company out of the UK a company that says the test would cost just a dollar which would be very helpful in less affluent. Parts of the world. Okay Rob before we go. This is a question I think. A lot of people have when they hear about testing and that is why is testing such a mess in the United States. Yeah yeah well you know. A big part of the problem is that everyone at the beginning was waiting for the CDC to make a test and it did but it was flawed and it took a while for the CDC to fix that basically wasted really important time at the very beginning of the epidemic in this country. And we've basically been playing catch up ever since mobilizing private testing company to get into the game figuring out. Where all the labs or they can do this kind of testing and that's no thing my why is that? Why is that new easy thing? Well these genetic tests tests are complicated. They require specialized machines and trained technicians special chemicals to do them and all of that has been in short supply because of the sudden surge in demand for testing triggered by the global pandemic. Okay Rob I appreciate you. Thanks maddy always fun to be here by the way rob got a big story. He just did about testing rates in every state. There's linked to that in the episode notes. So you can see how your state is doing. This episode was produced by Brennan Boxing and fact checked by Emily. Von Did the editing Mattie. Safai it thanks for listening to shortwave from NPR.
SpaceX's Satellite Swarm: Could It Hurt Astronomy?
"You're listening to shortwave from NPR. Mattie Safai here and I'm here with science correspondent Jeff Brumfield to talk about space. Yes so some happened up there. This week Yep that's right. Monday Veterans Day. The commercial spaceflight company SPACEX launched a rocket edition blitz off with gratitude or veterans. Today and. Go you patriotic and repulsive pulsa. Indeed it is. But here's the thing rocket's launch satellite usually but I'm bored. This rocket. There wasn't just one satellite or two there were sixty yes. It's a lot of satellites and this is actually the second time SPACEX has launched sixty satellites this year alone. Okay that sounds cool. I think it school. Yeah but there's a problem. There are literally hundreds more satellites heading into lower than twenty twenty and all that traffic. It's got scientists interests and space junk. Experts really worried so today on the show what the swarm of space x satellites four and why it has some people concerned about the future of astronomy. Okay I get it satellites. They do stuff in space. They're very useful. I can definitely understand why you need some up there but like back hundreds of them. What is going on well to understand that we need to talk about the company space x and it was founded by pay pal? Billionaire Elon. Musk I think it's safe to say it. Revolutionized spaceflight in ways that nobody expected first off. They can land the boosters on their rockets back on earth. Not only can they land these bucer can also reuse them and they're working on raising other parts of the rocket to all of this. Recycling lowers the cost of launch. And that makes spacex Super Valuable Company. But here's the thing. The satellite launch market. Just actually isn't that big aren't that may satellites launched. Each year SPACEX is currently currently valued at around thirty billion dollars but its annual. Revenue is actually only a little fraction of that. If it's going to justify that valuation it's it's going to have to generate an awful lot more revenue in the future. Tim Fairer runs. Timothy Associates a satellite communications consultancy and the only realistic way to to do that in the next few years is to get into the communications business. Communications business like the INTERWEBS. Exactly spacex is doing broadband Internet Internet from space. And it's launching this network of satellites called Starling to provide broadband to pretty much every point on earth and that launched. You heard earlier that that was the latest batch of starling. Satellite's going up now eventually there's going to be thousands of them. Fair says that the broadband markets around a trillion dollars fifty satellites helped spacex grab even a tiny percentage of that. That is big money for this company will finally be rich. That's right launches. Its first darling carrying rocket in May of this year big mission lift off and everything goes super super smoothly and the satellites. They just kind of fan out so they really are just talk. Slowly fanning out like a deck of cards into space but back on earth. There's this aspiring spiring astronomer. My name is Victoria Gorgas. And I'm a public programs. Educator at Lowell Observatory so the Lowell Observatory Torius in Flagstaff Arizona. And I spoke to her back in June after that first launch now she was showing a bunch of visitor some distant galaxies when this train gene of sixty startling satellites goes through the field of her camera. My first immediate reaction was visually kind of cool but my second reaction was men. You can't see a single galaxy because the satellites were just create a bunch of streaks. If you've ever think of get terrible photo bombs what you're telling me it was absolutely terrible photo. Bomb and other astronomers have noticed this to this is going to be a big deal for professional astronomy. How well I want to introduce you to another professional astronomer named Tony Tyson and he is the chief scientist for this really ambitious project called? The large synoptic survey avai telescope limit. They called L. S.. T. For short the idea is to take a picture of the entire sky over and over again every night we will tile the entire visible sky with thousand exposures visiting a thousand different pieces of the sky and this will go on every night for ten years is creating in essence then a digital color motion picture of the universe so the goal here is to see how the universe is changing. You know we think about the stars in the Heavens Evans has been this very static fixed thing but there's a lot of stuff that goes on up there that you just can't catch in this. Very expensive telescope is supposed to see all of it so this telescope is being constructed in Chile and honestly. Tony Tyson wasn't really thinking about satellites. Being launched out of Florida I didn't make a habit of reading the Federal Communications Commission filings for satellites. Why not titillating Had I done that I would have been aware of it anyway so Tyson and is the chief scientists. He's very focused game telescope built. And that's what he's actually working on. When all of a sudden he started seeing these media reports and pictures on twitter streaks exa cross the cameras of amateur astronomers and they were incredibly bright? And you could just see them. You don't need binoculars or telescope or anything and anything's and but he doesn't panic. He's a scientist. So I see waits for the panic. Plenty but go on. Well you know. He tries to be analytical political. Okay so he and his team run a lot of tests and they find. There's no way around it. The satellites are probably GonNa mess up these pictures. So what are they gonNA do. The only real option is to point the telescope where the satellite to aren't so they're going to have to constantly be moving it around to keep the satellites satellites out of the field of view if you knew precisely where they were when they were And could predict where they're going to be L. S. T. can void looking there. But that kind of brings us to another big problem Mattie. Tony isn't the only one who needs to know where all these satellites are. And you know how we keep track of the world satellites. I do not do you want to take a stab on G. GPS they've got no way. The satellites are your yeah. GPS are saddling. That's not gonNA work. What actually happens is the job falls to the Eighteenth Space Control Squadron of the US Air Force and these folks maintain a network of telescopes and radars all over the world that tracks satellites is currently in orbit and they feed that data into a computer? But it's kind of an old computer. The underlying core system came online in the nineteen jeanine. Early kind of Old Gen. That was Brian Weeden. He's a former Air Force officer. Who's now at the Secure World Foundation? which worries about sustainability in space? Do you remember the four eighty six computers. Mattie Neal Jeff they were used for such classic Games as the original Doom mm-hmm Wolfenstein killed a lot of time on that when I was a kid anyway that technology is still being used. Those processors are still still being used to track the world satellites. Oh okay cool. I bet that's adequate. I mean you know to be honest with you. Satellites are kind of predictable and a a lot of ways. So it's up the worst you could do but this computer crunches the numbers. It spits out what are called conjunctions which are basically close calls that could end in MM collisions. At somebody gives out a quick look over and then the system sends out an email email. Essentially says you know your satellite like so and so Predicted to have a close approach with this other space. Object to three or four days into the future and that's it so you can email from space squadron at Hotmail Dot Com. It's like you're going okay. I mean I kind of expected more than that. Like quick taxed or a red alert or something faster baby the guests slack channel. I just something better than that. No no and guess what these emails like all emails. They can get lost lost. Yeah that's what they do in fact. That's what happened a few months back. A European Space Agency satellite was headed towards one of the starling satellites and the agency. He predicted a possible collision. Now they emailed spacex but at least seven. Those emails seem to have gone lost and so did emails from the Air Force. The bottom line is that the space agency ended up. Moving their satellite SPACEX said. Oh sorry are bad you know. It seemed to have been some internal communication Shen problems. They promised to fix it. But honestly we didn't worries the current system just isn't going to work with thousands of new satellites flying around. It's probably the barely early functional minimum to be able to handle this new situation but it is very far from what we should have. And of course if this somehow gets messed up it's a really bad situation. Satellites when they collide they create shrapnel that could threaten other satellites. It's a big mess and there's honestly no way to clean it up. Jeff Jeff this is making me very nervous more nervous than usual. Well let me try and put your mind to these little bit. I mean I spoke to Spacex for this story and I spoke to a rival company called one web which is also launching satellites next year and they make clear to me first of all. They really don't want anything bad to happen. Yeah Jeff nobody wants something bad to happened go on well beyond that they. You know have a financial incentive to make sure bad things don't have makes more comfortable you know spacex is working for other countries. They're launching things to the International Space Station which is in this sort of general area. They don't WanNa mess up the space. So they're doing a couple of things they're trying trying to share their orbital data there quipping these satellites with automated anti collision systems that they say Can prevent you know these sorts of accidents taking other precautions. Now I'm not saying this is going to work out but if something bad happens up there it will be an accident okay. So what about the astronomers. They're in a much tougher. Spot SPACEX has said. They want to work with them. But as I said the satellites reflect light even if you paint them black which spacex is considering doing and you know. We haven't talked about this but there aren't a lot of rules in space. Tony Tyson says there's nothing really astronomers can do to stop this there are yeah no international regulations regarding light pollution from space interfering with optical astronomy. There should be but there just aren't and so it will take along time for that to happen and I think it probably will happen but too late. I think these satellites are going up. Now and in the next shear SPACEX plans to launch hundreds its rival companies going to do the same and Tony thinks that's going to change our sky forever. Okay Jeff Bromfield. Thank you for the story. You're welcome I met by. We're back tomorrow with more shortwave from NPR Planet my knee is the mountaineer economist behind the carbon tax. It's the baseball player trying to get a pay. Raise the prisoner in her building. A blockchain out of cans of Mackerel planet money from N._p._R.. Listen now.
One Way To Slow Coronavirus Outbreaks At Meatpacking Plants? A Lot Of Testing
"You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. Mattie Safai here with Dan Charles Food and agriculture correspondent hey Dan Hey, Mattie so Dan, you've been following outbreaks of the coronavirus in meat packing plants across the country. Yeah, these have been some of the biggest covid nineteen hot spots in the entire country. More than ten thousand workers in these plants have been infected. died and it really just started in like mid to the end of March. Yeah, I, mean I specifically remember hearing about a plant in south, Dakota, I think, and how dire things were there right? That was a Smithfield plant in Sioux falls. It was one of the first plants where this really became visible and obvious to people. It's also a really big plant. One of the biggest pork processing plants in the country and you know there was this moment at the end of March the beginning of When the workers in this plant? They knew that some workers had gotten sick, but the company was not saying how many workers just felt really vulnerable. They didn't have any protective gear. They didn't have any masks. They didn't have anything that could protect them from getting sick at work. This is Nancy Reynosa. years ago, she worked at the plant now. She runs a local news service in Sioux falls for Spanish speakers. She was getting calls from people. She got a call from one friend in particular. She remembers I have a friend of mine that told his boss. That? He was going to quit because he followed afraid for his family. And he said the words from his boss where that he was failing the American people by leaving. Failing the American people. Wildly. Yeah. It's outrageous. Dan, that's that's a lot to put on somebody. You know what I mean right and and you have to remember that. In the meat packing industry, many of the workers are immigrants sometimes refugees up. The jobs are tough, but they're pretty good jobs. I mean they pay sixteen hundred dollars an hour. Good health benefits so there are reasons to keep working Nancy told me about another one of her friends who worked at the plant, a man in his sixty's. Rodriguez. She says he kept working after he got sick. but eventually too much he went to the hospital eventually died. Oh my gosh, Dan. Okay so so. This was a couple of months ago when it was. You know especially bad for the meatpacking industry, since then more and more plants have reopened again, so so what of the company's been doing now to keep their workers safe? They've been trying lots and lots of different things, but there's one thing in particular that I thought was really interesting. One key strategy which I think is relevant for other parts of the economy to large-scale. Corona virus testing. Okay so today on the show, the massive corona virus outbreaks in meat, packing plants, and how large scale employees testing could help and be a lesson for other industries. shortwave the daily science podcast from NPR. Okay, so these outbreaks started becoming visible in early April in a whole bunch of plans. What predictive measures did the companies start to implement at that point they well. They started with the things that people were talking about doing back then, which was things like temperature checks for workers before entering the plants. which we know now was not particularly effective because people with the virus. Don't always you know show symptoms? They started trying to implement a little more space in break rooms locker rooms to make social distancing. You know possible, but you know. As the weeks went by as the days went by in a lot of these plants at the beginning of April, the numbers just were going up and up. The things that they were doing was not enough and local communities. Health officials the workers themselves were putting pressure on these companies protesting saying you've got to shut these plants down. Yeah I mean I. Remember some of them shutting down in some of the CEOS running those companies being like very public and very up in arms about it right the CEO of Smithfield, said the nation has to make a choice. Are we going to produce meat or not I mean Tyson the company took out a full page ad and said things like the meat supply chain is breaking down they and politicians who were supporting them sent a letter to the White House saying you have to declare meat plants, essential infrastructure, and in fact, in fact, the White House did they issued an executive order basically saying meat plants have to stay open. But that doesn't solve the problem. You know it doesn't solve the corona virus problem and the companies realized they had to basically test a lot of their workers. Yeah, I mean. We've talked about how important this is on the show like how widespread testing has allowed other countries to reopen in certain places because you know, they have an actual idea of where the outbreaks are and where they aren't. What does widespread testing look like in in this situation? Dan, okay one one example, and this was actually the first one that I became aware of There's a Tyson plant a big one in black. Hawk County Iowa. In mid April, they also had lots and lots of workers showing up in clinics in the town with symptoms of Covid nineteen. They had a local. You Know Public Health Director Nafisa. Bonia who was telling plant managers? They had a big problem I I talked with her. You know just a couple of weeks ago. We were communicating that there's a huge volume bears an outbreak. Who I said. You've gotTA test. Absolutely, everybody was at the company, or did you say that? That the local health department. We said that I said it. You have to get a sense of what's going on in the plant. So I, they shut the plant down showdown completely, and they asked all the employees twenty eight hundred people to come to the plants parking, lot lineup and get tested Oh wow, so like all twenty eight hundred workers. That's that's a fairly large scale testing. Effort Dan. And here's the thing close to a thousand workers at that one plan ended up testing positive for the virus. and. Tyson the company, there were a couple of other plants where they did it in conjunction with the local public health authorities, but they have since hired a contractor to carry out these universal one time tests of the workforce at a bunch of plants so far they've done about twenty facilities from Maine to Virginia and Texas. They have tested around thirty thousand workers at this point, which is about a quarter of their of their workforce. We all swab the nose and. It wasn't fun. I'll tell you that this is Dennis Med burn. He's a union steward at the Tyson Plan in Logan Sport Indiana. I was not feeling sick. Now that the time of testing, and again in his case a few days later while he's waiting for those test results, he lost his sense of smell developed constant headaches. Yeah, boy, cat, so and of course his test came back positive along with nine hundred other people at the plant. That's been the story at one plant after another most of the people who test positive seem healthy at the time. No symptoms of cove nineteen. Wow Okay! I mean that's why testing is so important. Right? Lots of these workers would probably have kept going to work. So Okay Dan what happens when a worker does test positive, so the CDC has these guidelines. If you develop symptoms, then a certain number of days after you are symptom free, you're allowed to go back to work if you never develop symptoms. You wait ten days after you take the test, and then you can go back to work. Scientists say by then you probably are not going to effect anybody. And it seems like getting those infected workers to stay home did not go to work has helped back in black, Hawk County Iowa Nafi Soc- say Bonier told me a couple of weeks ago. New covid cases at the plant are way down. Actually today's are I say we've had a zero as zero increase in cases okay, so that sounds like tentatively like good news, and like maybe this approach to large scale testing of the workforce could be working in some way. At this point, it seems absolutely essential, but at the same time just doing it once probably is not going to be enough right exactly because I if these workers could just pick up the virus the very next day, and you can have another outbreak on your hands, hypothetically right right and one of the reasons I was interested in the experience of these plants with testing is. There's a whole discussion going on in other parts of society about this exact same thing you. You know universities other other workplaces. Basically, how many people do you have to test? And how often so this is not just a a meat packing story so on the one hand you have the union. The United Food and commercial workers, which represents a lot of these meatpacking workers mark Lawrenson is a top official there and he is demanding a rapid corona virus test for every single worker every single day. We really do have to get some sort of daily testing mechanism. For All the central workers in this country, because he says you know, a lot of these workers are still afraid to go back to work, and if there was daily testing, they you know life would be much less stressful. They look around the plant. They look around their locker room or their break room. They know that everybody else inside these walls cove. Free I mean Dan that sounds amazing, but I mean, do you? You think it's actually feasible like testing every worker every day. Because like you said, this isn't just meat-packing right I. Feel like as more and more businesses, schools and places of worship open up. This question is only going to become more relevant right, so the other side of that debate is most of the people that I talk to say that it's just not technically feasible on a really large scale to do that. For instance I talked with a top public health official in the city of Nashville. Who dealt with outbreak at the local Tyson plant there. And! He says no I mean today. It's not feasible to test everybody at that plant every single day, but he does want them to do some kind of random testing on a regular basis so that he can catch it. You know if there is a new wave of infection. And in fact, Tyson foods. They say they are planning this thing that they called sentinel testing some kind of random testing. My ask them okay, so how many workers? How often and they said well? We're still working working out the details. Okay all right Dan. Thank you so much for all of your reporting on this. It is super, important and really helpful Mark Pleasure Matic. You can check out today's episode page for links to more of Dan's reporting on the corona virus in meatpacking plants, including an in-depth episode. He's reported for NPR's investigative podcast imbedded. Today's episode was produced by Britain. Anthon fact checked by early McCoy and edited by the. Thanks for listening shortly from NPR.
BONUS: What We Know (And Don't) About The Dangers Of Vaping
"Tayeb first listeners it's a weekend so we've got special bonus episode we think is going to peak your interest it is from shortly save which is NPR's new daily science podcast host Mattie Safai explores new discoveries everyday mysteries science off the headlines All about ten ways to use renewable energy in their operations to help meet growing demand learn more at Chevron dot com people are getting sick from vaping that is the million dollar question Mattie a majority of patients acknowledged vaping thc the psychoactive component of marijuana many what we don't about why abors getting sick painful experience of my entire life like I was laying on my bed like sobbing because it hurts so bad debris it's like nobody should have to go through that do we know why these spotlight on this habit of vaping that used to be talked about as an alternative to smoking so today on shortwave what we do know heard of a label that gets slapped onto some of these cartridges these bootleg cartridges and you really don't know what's in them right Dank is like you met recently Piper Johnson right so she's eighteen and when she was in high school her sophomore year she started vaping then last summer right around the very very sick with lung disease after vaping these cases these very odd cases come on nowhere have really begun to shine before they realized this was vaping oh I was terrified I had no idea what was happening to me because I was like perfectly healthy a week ago red and then the day we left I was like I think I have bronchitis or something like I was running a fever my heart rate was like Super Super High Oh I think Piper story really brings into focus this wider epidemic vaping I mean yes there are more than thirteen hundred people like Piper who've become so how's paper doing now she's doing a whole lot better she's actually in school doing fine she has stopped vaping and now she has company jewel this month as part of this big awareness campaign I don't WanNa have anyone else go through like the pain I experienced because honestly it was the most I I was super like lethargic and stuff so instead of heading to the college campus she and her mom went to the hospital I to the ER and then causing this epidemic well turns out it's probably a lot more complicated I mean for starters some people have only been vaping nicotine and let's just talk about come this advocate to get other young people young adults like her to stop she participated in a rally she demonstrated outside the offices of the e cigarette into the ICU. My oxygen levels just kept going down like more and more I they put me on like one leader to leader and then I had to be have used type of counterfeit vapes called Dank vapes Dane Dank vapes are we talking about a company a company really it's along the doctors are like Oh you have Mona Oh we're going to put you on antibiotics it must be some kind of infectious disease have you been around other people it took a long time Jason Hey there mattie today we're talking about something that's in the headlines a lot right now yep vaping right and you're going to start us off today with a story about a young woman the I'm when her family was packing up the car to take her off to college she started feeling some pain in her chest you know I didn't really think anything of it I took some advil moved to the ICU because I was on thirty five liters of oxygen and she is it barely breathing on her own right gasping for air and here's the crazy thing I mean we know that the flavorings are part of what teenagers are attracted to rate which brings us to the news this week that under pressure jewel has announced it will no longer sell food for tank is kind of cool good good weed I think I don't know my right very impressed keep go okay but that said the outbreak of this epidemic is most of its flavored products they say they're doing this because they are solely committed to helping adult smokers want to quit cigarettes now that said one thing unclear I mean in the beginning there was this hunt for the singular 'cause you kept hearing from the CDC any day like no stone unturned we're going to find the thing we know about these vape fluids is that they don't make the flavors out of fruit they make them out of synthetic chemicals that chemicals include things here thanks for checking out this episode of shortwave the daily Science podcast from NPR here today with NPR health correspondent. Allison Aubrey Hail what you find in these nicotine vaping fluids are eight for starters there's nicotine one of the most addictive substances known then you add an a little volatile has been heavily marketed as a healthy alternative to cigarettes as a way to get you off cigarettes right that's right I mean jewel which is far and away the biggest company the different nasty things in e cigarette or vaping products and they may cause different harms in the lung it is pretty much impossible vape nicotine in the last thirty days that's an astounding number okay and we should say for people who are like why is it surprising that vaping is unhealthy this stuff on it compounds such as Benzi that and they're like some trace metals and their sound appealing then you're gonNA top cocktail with the flavorings now things become scarred and narrowed and this is not lost on investigators of CDC here's the woman leading the investigation her name is an shook it there may be a lot of it's becoming more and more popular absolutely teen vaping has definitely become more popular federal surveys show that twenty five percent of high school seniors say they have ah making these e cigarettes earlier this year launched a big ad campaign called make this switch by was a pack a day smoker for thirty three itching to ease cigarettes could be beneficial there could be some harm reduction there but public health experts agree that there is no chance at all that cooking a new general diaster Docetaxel is definitely not something you want to be voluntarily putting into your lungs it can lead to this condition where the tiny air sacs in your Oh free to know what is in the e cigarette are vaping product so the government doesn't even know what's in this stuff right and yet it feels like one point came out in support of national ban on flavored e cigarettes but so far there's been no action on the federal level we Asian of young people on Nicotine via these e cigarettes is a good thing to do okay so we mentioned the government can't say exactly what these things are that might be dangerous for some people cigarette products there's so many possibilities out there I will say that the regulation of e cigarettes clearly falls under the FDA purview and president trump at so it keeps them in our house instead of keeping them out of our house. Wow I should point out that it is possible that if you're a two pack a day cigarette smokers is there anything they are doing in the meantime we know they're doing lots of things the CDC has intensified its warnings the FDA has galvanized it's criminal thank you Mattie
Minneapolis's Bold Plan To Tackle Racial Inequity and Climate Change
"You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. Madison here with NPR. Climate reporter Lauren Summer Hi Lawrence Hey Mattie, so today on the show were diving into a moment when the city of Minneapolis is grappling with racial discrimination and deep inequity, but we're not talking about today times right? This was actually a year and a half ago before the killing of George Floyd before protesters around the country. You know filled the streets. The city was talking about this in a venue. Venue that definitely did not make national news. Good evening, everyone or afternoon I'm Lisa Bender I'm. The President was Minneapolis City Council meeting the night of the business we have on today's agenda is the conduct of public hearing related to the draft twenty forty comprehensive plan I will move. They were taking public comment on a plan to Redo the zoning ordinances right city's zoning. Maybe not something people immediately think of as A. A societal rocketing, but they should yeah, exactly I mean city officials were acknowledging something that really hadn't been spelled out before. In this way, the city grows. Everyone must benefit from that growth historically, not everyone. Has This draft plan wasted? He's look is not an accident or you know some of a lot of random decisions. There were decisions that were made about land. That word steeped in racism. They were steeped in environmental. Environmental injustice and because land use decisions last for decades, even centuries their laws on the books that maintain that status quo. You know essentially writing into the landscape itself Minneapolis is trying to change. That got it. So so, what are they trying to do to address it? Lauren well, it's city. Planners put out a proposal that pretty dramatically changed. City's zoning. They wanted to eliminate single family zoning, which specifies one house per. We will take speakers in the order the registered so again if you haven't and it really divided the community. The citywide zoning is much too big and the one-size-fits-all. Approach is going to destroy the uniqueness of the neighborhoods that make our city so desirable I know. Zoning the entire city is truly shocking. No wonder longtime residents are set stadium. We're facing housing and environmental crisis in Minneapolis, and it's no longer appropriate to fuss over a neighborhoods character when new residents aren't able to stick around long enough to build their own character, we cannot, but matty. The city council passed it, and here's the thing. City zoning isn't just an issue of structural racism, but climate change to how we build our cities has a profound effect on how we combat the impacts of climate change. So today on the show, how structural racism and environmental inequity is built into the very map of Minneapolis and what the city and potentially every American city could do to begin to fix them. You're listening to shortwave the daily science podcast from NPR. So Warren let's start with a little history lesson. What happened in Minneapolis history that shaped the city into being what it is today, which is still pretty segregated yet goes back more than one hundred years to nineteen ten. When Minneapolis was really starting to grow, new neighborhoods were being developed and land developers started putting language into property deeds that restricted. Who could own that property? Property there in what's known as racial covenants, which basically specified that property could only be sold to white people, so it was actual legal language that kept people of color from buying houses and moving into those neighborhoods right exactly, and this is an example quote, no person or persons other than of the Caucasian race shall be permitted to occupy, said premises, or any part thereof. I mean developers actually featured them in advertisements for new developments, and these were in cities across the country but I think they're. History has been somewhat forgotten, so widespread were these racial covenants in Minneapolis. They were attached to tens of thousands of houses. which is something that historians like Kirsten delegated? Documenting she co founded the mapping prejudice project at the University of Minnesota Libraries and through that process curson actually found that when her grandparents who were recent immigrants bought their first home in Minneapolis their property had a racial covenant that came with it even their new Americans, they were seen as white. So that neighborhood, which is a beautiful neighborhood? It was off limits to people other Minia politics who had similar levels of education similar income levels to my grandparents. It was off limits entirely based on race. How long were people buying houses or you were stopped from buying houses with these covenants? They were banned in Minnesota in one, thousand, nine, hundred eighty three. Wow, that's later. That I thought Lauren. Yeah, but I mean Kirsten says their impact is still visible on the landscape today. What we found when we started mapping is that. The covenants created demographic patterns that have remained just completely unmoved. So the the areas with covenants in them are though the richest, the whitest parts of the city today, and before covenants, black residents lived in neighborhoods around the city, but within a few decades they were displaced into a few neighborhoods and it was. Hard for black residents to buy houses there because the red line them right right like for instance when a banquet offer a mortgage or loan to a family, they lived in a predominantly black neighborhood right, and so you know that generational wealth that's developed by owning a home. Just it just wasn't possible like it was for white residents, and then you know environmentally you had major freeways built right through. Through, predominantly black neighborhoods right when the interstate highway system went in the fifties and sixties, so you Kinda have all these layers of things building on each other, and because cities change slowly. It makes sense that these things are entrenched for so long. Yeah, exactly, and and for Kirsten, an important part of this work has been making sure that white residents understand those effects. We have to know our history. If I can find any way out of this. Can't be something that people relegate and say well. That's in the past that has nothing to do with me because there's one other thing that has locked in these land development patterns for more of an one hundred years, and that's the city's zoning right around the time that covenants were banned. The city's zoned those same neighborhoods for single family homes, which means that's all the can be built there, so things like the buildings and people stayed mostly. Mostly the same, so that's why, like a year and a half ago. They had that meeting to start talking about changing their zoning rules. Yep, so in January. These rules actually went into effect, and like we mentioned earlier, what the city did was eliminate single family zoning, which makes them the first major city in the country to do that now. Those properties can have up to three units on them, and the idea is to just make. Make more housing in general, because there isn't enough in Minneapolis and around public transit and areas would jobs in stores, they wanna see even denser housing, and this leads us to the issue of climate change right, which is also very connected to what cities map looks like like. If there's a lot of sprawl, you get driving. Yeah, exactly people who live in the suburbs or on the outskirts of cities they tend to drive more and more. More carbon a lot of neighborhoods just weren't really designed to be walkable or by cable, so a lot of cities are kind of locked into these layouts right now that lead to higher carbon emissions and zoning is one of the big issues that stands in the of changing that, and here's the other issue when it comes to climate change in zoning studies show that climate impacts hit low income communities and communities of color the hardest. And you can actually link that back to these racial covenants I spoke to Shannon Smith Jones. She's executive director of Hope Community which Minneapolis Housing and community group long the green spaces if you look historically would see the restrictive covenants along those green spaces, and so historically, we haven't had the ability to live in very beautiful. Nice Green spaces that are healthy, so it's not just where you live. It's what those neighborhoods look like which matters for a lot of reasons. Reasons, but definitely matters as the climate gets hotter. Yeah, yeah, the more concrete neighborhood has the hotter it gets in the summer. You know especially in a warming climate, and because of that one study showed that neighborhoods that are home to Minneapolis is black communities can be ten degrees hotter than other neighborhoods so there there are serious impacts of these communities need addressed. Okay, so Minneapolis Pass these new zoning rules in January in a somewhat historic move. Has Anything actually changed? Well it was a really contentious debate minneapolis, but it kind of opened the door for other places to take on that debate I mean right after that. Oregon passed up zoning law as it's known, which allows duplexes and four plex. California has tried three times to pass similar laws but you know single family zoning is really contentious. It seems to kind of tap into this very sacred idea of having a house with a lawn and a two car garage. I mean. Minneapolis certainly didn't ban that. You can still build a single family home, but now there are more options. So what does it look like now with these new options? Well, not a lot has actually changed yet. Yet because zoning is just really a blueprint, it takes decisions lot by lot to make it a reality and I spoke to a number of community groups who thought that people were kind of missing that point. like Owen Duckworth he's the director of policy and organizing the alliance, which is a racial justice and housing coalition in the twin cities. There's a lot of sort of we saw being really kind of self, congratulatory press both locally and nationally. And I think that was also quite frustrating as advocates in an organizers and folks on the ground and community because there's. Says building new housing isn't necessarily the same as building affordable housing, or you know ensuring that inequities actually addressed so he wants to see bigger commitments from the city to fund affordable housing in in a long term way right because if a lot of new housing is bill, then there's this possibility of. Of people pushing out communities of Color Yeah and you know something like this. If you're really going to undo decades of inequity, it takes a sustained effort year after year with every building decision that a city makes an Owen says that means those communities have to be at the table. If someone is wrong, you, you want to set the terms of of how you become cooling and how you become friends again. Again right. If you're wrong, a friend, or if you're wrong, person, right, you're not gonNA. Say Well Okay I'M GONNA. Come up with now how we get on good terms again right? It has to be the person who harmed ride. The people who've been harmed historically setting those terms right and I think that's to me. That's part of the exercise of the city has to do and and an own. Those pieces both historically in an ongoing ways that means getting uncomfortable that means changing folks access to power and decision making as well, and that's why he says even after all these protests end. They're still going to be a lot of work to Dale. Right Lauren. Thanks for the story, thank. This episode was produced by Rebecca. Ramirez the facts were checked by Emily Kwong. It was edited by Vietnam. I mattie Safai. Thanks for listening to shortwave permit PR. Actress Tracy Ellis. Ross is used to people talking about her age a lot and she's okay with whatever people say. I'm forty seven years old, and I'm the most comfortable in my skin. I've ever been what when we go back to being twenty two. No, thank you the blackish. Star on confronting an ages world. Listen and subscribe to. It's been a minute from NPR.
SPACE WEEK: An Astrophysicist On The End Of Everything
"You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. Mattie Safai here bringing shortwave space week to an end with the end of everything. The entire universe rich seems very fitting for the moment you know when I was first proposing this book, it was a twenty seventeen and there was definitely a kind of a kind of nihilistic vibe going on and so I felt like at the time you know the time might be pretty good but I didn't know how bad it would get Katie Max an astrophysicist at North Carolina State University. And she has a new book out called the end of everything astro physically speaking, and so you know in a sense I'm a little bit worried that people are going to be like, oh, there's enough terrible stuff happening but what I've heard from people is that the book is actually kind of a nice escape from the day to day terribleness and stress and worries that everybody's going through. But the thing is it's Katie's job to think about this kind of stuff stuff like the universe. The beginning of the universe, the end of the universe what the Universe is made of how it works. All of the kind of questions about the nature of the cosmos, how it's changing over time and you know our whole cosmic story. You know super, cash. But he studying this and lots of other fancy stuff astrophysicists like Keady are able to theorized possible ends to our universe and all of these different universe ending scenarios have surprisingly kind of awesome names based on name alone I think the big rip. Is Pretty Good. So today on the show were breaking down some of the possible ends to this universe we and Zillions of other bits of Stardust call home. So, before we get into it, we need to talk about something that will definitely play a role in the end of the universe dark energy. See Our universe is expanding spread on out and that expansion is speeding up. I think that's due to something called dark energy but they don't really know what dark energy is and there's nothing in normal physics that will do that like regular matter won't do that. You know it has to be something weird and whatever it is we call it dark energy but we do not know what dark energy is made of. We don't know how it got here. You know why it exists it might be just a property of space something called the cosmological constant that space just has this kind of inherent stretching in it, but it may be something different changes over time and could. Get a very extreme. Far. Future. The big rip. So depending dark energy is really kind of dictates potentially end of the universe. So I see what how long do you think that'll take you figure out? Katie like ten or fifteen years. I'm personally not working on dark energy. Partially passing the Buck Katie really. It's a very hard thing to study. Okay. Because it does is make the universe expand faster. Okay. Okay. So Are you ready to start talking about the end of the universe different scenarios as you will. All right. So let's start with heat death. Our Universe is expanding in that expansion is accelerating due to dark energy in in the heat death scenario our universe kind of continues to expand and expand and expand, right? Yeah. Yeah. What happens is that everything is farther apart from everything else you have fewer of these galaxy interactions, you make fewer stars and eventually each galaxy gets more and more isolated. So we will get to appoint. An emily about one hundred, billion years we will get to this point where we can't see other galaxies in the sky anymore because they'll be so far away their light will be stretched out so much that we won't be able to see them. and. So the universal just get a lot darker than our own. The stars in our galaxy will be dying out. So our galaxy will fade away and then. Even, black holes will start to evaporate because that's something that can happen to a black hole is that it can lose its mass through this process called Hawking evaporation. So black holes will start disappearing and then matter decays and then eventually you end up with the universe that's just cold dark empty, and all left is kind of a trace amount of waste heat from the processes of the universe that's called the heat death called dark empty. That's actually just sounds right into but really like that is considered to be one of the more likely and yeah that's kind of what happens if you if you just extrapolate from what we know about the universe's evolution today and assume that dark energy is this cosmological constant this just property of space that it has this expansion built in it takes a ridiculous number of trillions and trillions of years, but you end up with a basically an empty universe. Yeah. All right. So If dark energy acts a little differently than we potentially get to a different and game the big rip right you describe it. As an unraveling and this happens considerably faster than heat death, right? Yeah. Yeah. So the idea behind the big rip is if dark energy is something else if it's if it's a particular kind of stuff, we call Phantom dark energy where instead of just being property of space that actually is something that grows in intensity overtime something that there's more and more of it you know in each little space of of space overtime then it can be something that doesn't just move galaxies apart from each other and isolate them but actually tears the galaxies themselves apart. So what it would do is it would pull the stars away from our galaxy. So we'd see the Milky Way kind of. Dissipating, and then it would pull planets away from their stars and then it would start to actually rip apart stars and planets and thin atoms and molecules, and eventually rip apart space itself. And the big rip. Wow I can't believe that one's your favorite Katie. Yes about my favorite in terms of the name. Definitely, my favorite of the name, my favorite one is the next one will get to. I, secret. No the big rip is it's one of the most terrifying ones because you would see it coming. You would know that this was happening and you would know that there's you can't you can't hide. 'cause you would see these things being unraveled out there in space, and then you would know that there's nothing you can do. You can't hide from space itself. The dark energy would be inside your own space room body and it would be starting to kind of pull you apart it's a terrifying prospect. Quote you can't hide from Space Katie. Back. You just can't. You just can't no. Okay. So last up is the end of the universe situation called vacuum decay in. Katie. This ending is very metal like it is very intense. So. The idea behind vacuum decay is sort of that. There's an instability built into how physics works in our universe. So we have laws of physics. We have the way that electrons move around and atoms and stuff like that. Their relationships between particles enforces that make our universe work the way it does make atoms work, make chemistry, and biology and planets, and everything possible, and there's a possibility that there's an instability built into that where. You know something could change in the universe specifically in in something we call the Higgs field, which is this energy field that pervades all face that would rewrite the laws of physics where that happens. So somewhere somewhere in the universe, the rupee, this weird little quantum transition in the higgs field and that would create a bubble of new kind of space where the laws of physics different inside that bubble. And that bubble would expand through the universe at about the speed of light and then anything that ends up. Being, engulfed by this bubble would be in a kind of space where the laws of physics are different. So Adams can't hold together anymore and everything would be just totally destroyed. And it's my favorite of these scenarios because it's just. So out of left field, you know every The Universe is expanding whatever this is just like no physics breaks somewhere it's a bubble of death. That bubble of death expands out of the speed of light. You don't see it coming and it just destroys everything Kinda. Yeah. It's very humane. To Miss You, there's new aftermath. And then done. Yeah. You. Hear all these scenarios based on things we can observe. But what if physics was just broken and everything was wiped out all at once? But I love it. Yeah I do think one of I in. Let me know if this is wrong but like one of the things about this that I find particularly unsettling is that discipline happen just like whenever is that fair? Well. So it's it's a quantum transition has a quantum tunneling event, and one thing we know about quantum mechanics is it really breaks our ability to predict things precisely. So we can give probabilities about when it might happen, but we can't say exactly when it will happen if it even will and people write me email saying that they're freak out about this idea. So I WANNA make sure that I put in caveats like the chances. So small you know you're more likely to be hit by a meteor and a lightning bolt at the same time while live winning the lottery, it's really small chances. So Katie. Bigger question here, which is hard to do since it's already pretty big question you're talking about but why? Why study this you know what I mean like, why spend resources trying to figure out the end of our universe? That's so far in the future that humans won't have existed for billions of years. Yeah I mean, I think that the main reason is jus- curiosity. Want to know how the universe works and where you WanNa know where we came from and we WANNA know where we're going and so when we think about the far future and we extrapolate our current cosmic evolution into the future, it's a way that we can kind of examine our theories of physics and kind of push things to their theoretical breaking point they can give us new insights into how physics works. That's kind of just built into human nature that we want to understand things. We want to figure out how we fit into everything. What does it all mean and I wanted to write something that would give people access to that and give people some way to step into that. Well, I'll tell you what? Katie Mac the book was fun. This was so much fun. I really really appreciate you a lot of fun. Awesome. The this is a chat. Thank you very much for having me on. To learn about possible ends to our dear universe checkout Katie Max book which is out. Now it's called the end of everything astro physically speaking. Oh and before we get to the credits just went remind y'all that we shortwave take the holidays off. So we'll be going dark on Monday for Labor Day okay. Meeting New Music Universal Music Today's episode was produced by our little vacuum decay herself Rebecca Ramirez. Veit Lay Aka heat death was our brilliant editor burly McCoy. All knowing big crunch faithfully checked the facts. I meant I also known round these parts as big ripoff. All y'all Tuesday. When we bring NPR shortwave back to Earth. I want you to know one of my producers message military and said, let's quit in study astrophysics about halfway through. So. Awesome. So thanks a lot. Katie back. Thanks a lot. I'm down to producer now. Sorry.
Coronavirus Q&A: Running Outside, Petting Dogs, And More
"You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. So yeah. The pandemic has been going on for months and months, and every day scientists are learning new things about the corona virus, which is why I'm here to tell you that you should feel no shame if you still have a lot of questions about it questions like what's the latest on wiping down groceries and how often should you disinfect your phone and very importantly? Can you say hi to other people's Dog OHS? Today on the show, we have answers as part of a special segment I did on another NPR podcast called. It's been a minute with Sam Sanders, and if you don't know Sam already, you're gonNA. Love Him. But not as much as he loves kissing other. People stocks. So stick around I'm Mattie Safai and you're listening to shortwave the daily science podcast from NPR. All right. Let's get to the questions. We got so many from our list. We picked a few and show them to you. So we're going to have you answer them right now and provide color commentary throughout you. Sure. All right first question? What's the deal with running? I've heard inflicting things. What's the likelihood of? It means bread of someone runs past me okay. So this question makes total sense to me because I think there were some scary kind of initial studies around this. Man where it says runners could spread it for twenty feet and they were these vectors but that was kind of mildly debunked. Yeah. It was kind of dismissed them and there are parts of it that made sense but it wasn't considered to be like actually a real world scenario that was tested and it's really hard test that so. When I think about running, of course, it depends on what space you're in, right. So outside in fresh air going to have a lower risk if you're somebody if you wearing a mask if that person's wearing a mask, all of those things kind of factor in and as best we can tell Sam as a you know a somewhat general rule. The majority of transmission happens in close indoor situations where you're spending a good bit of time together. That is why it is absolutely essential to be wearing a mask especially inside it doesn't mean that there's no risk if you're outside and there's only a brief encounter but it's reduced. Running and you pass somebody for a second. I'm not super worried about that situation now they cough and sneeze, and you just slam right into it. Say I'm that's a different scenario. Go Home, wash your face, wash your hands but the you know the experts that I'm talking to are not super worried about that situation art follow up question for you on this topic as a runner. I have heard mixed messaging about wearing a mask. When you run some folks say well, you're outside you're moving fast, just dodge even stay away from people others are like you have to have it on all the time when I've done both. But when I've tried to run with a mask on my entire five miles I ended up with the wet mask and it's like I'm waterboarding myself. Yeah absolutely I mean, of course, wearing a mask if you can is a good situation and if you're in a really really busy city and you can't get away from people if you're like constantly dodging people I actually do think it's probably a good idea. But if you're in an area where it's a little bit more open, I would say it's probably okay not to wear a mask when you're running A. Anytime, you have the choice between them a mask is going to be a safer bet but if you can get up really early before somebody's out there or go somewhere else in and it's you know like either I'm not gonNA run or I'm gonNA run without a mask. Then I think that's a decision you have to make. So you're saying we should be doing three am runs in cemeteries. Sam Stop. Phone. It in get up at three am and got it done. Get it done. Get it done. Yes. Next. Question from a listener about animals can I say hi to other people's Dogs Oh yeah, Samson is this question for Melissa is this question? This question is from Sanders. From. My Heart. And make sure they're OK. Okay. So I looked this up because I wasn't sure and the CDC has weirdly complicated guidance on this. So really some pets like dogs or cats have caught Kovic from humans, but the CDC says the risk of dogs than giving Cova to people is considered low like there's no evidence that you can get it from the for or the hair of other pets. But one of those owners that kisses your dog on the mound, I was just about to say. But this because the CDC still says, you should not interact with dogs outside their household. So I'm like man I guess the CDC is worried about people getting pet saliva in their mouths, but you shouldn't be mcing on somebody else's dog anyway Sam. If you see a dog and the dog is really really really cute. Oh my God you part of the Kids Sam Palmer's the kiss I cannot miss the kids you are. You're going to have to definitely miss the kiss for a while so but so but I will say, honestly, you know briefly a dog has come up to me and the dog park it's onerous faraway I pet it. I'll say I have pet but the. Official guidance lead those dogs alone. Sam. Understood understood. All, right? Okay. This is one that gives me. Such a I think about this question every day and I, get mad about it because no one can tell me what the right deal is. What is the deal with wiping down groceries and anyone actually be doing this? Okay. So this is a great question and again Sam it's not like it's a level of risk that you're trying to decide here. So I like this question because it really gets to the question about picking up the virus from surfaces right? I would say generally speaking the contaminated surfaces that I'm worried about most are those like at services at hospitals or in small enclosed spaces without much airflow that a person has been in for a really long time or surfaces that come in contact with your face or mouth a lot like a cellphone. Those are surfaces that I'm I'm wipe down most of the time. I'm not as worried about a package of oreo double stuffed specifically to be clear from the groceries like I'm not that worried about it. So what I do I wear a mask, a hand sanitizer when I'm shopping certainly after interacting with the cashier I get home, I unload the groceries I wash my hands but you know again, this is a decision that I'm making as a healthy human. So if you're particularly worried, you have a condition that makes you susceptible there's no harm in being extra safe. Okay. Well, this is also like this gets to a larger question which I still ask a lot is like how long can this thing? Really Just live on a surface I'm still not sure we know I think it varies by surface and by condition it does and another thing to think about is just because some viruses on a surface doesn't mean it's still infectious it doesn't mean there's enough of it to get you sick necessarily it's kind of a numbers game. So you know surfaces are not something to be totally dismissed. I'm not saying that but generally speaking with groceries that kind of stuff you can wipe them down if you want to. But that's not the highest risk scenario I'm worried about Gotcha Gotcha you should just avoid making out with the cashier's dog at the grocery store. You can. It sounds like it's GonNa be a struggle for you. I don't want people right and then thinking weird thing about me. I am I am totally above board. Okay. Okay. All right next question. How often should disinfect my phone oh. Yes. Yeah. You know this is a nasty surface Sam Jones or so nasty. Bones like the toilet seats of politics life I mean Sam, do you bring your phone into the bathroom with you be honest you know. Is what I'm saying. So you gotta be you've gotta be wiping that surface like it's next year face it's next year mouth we think the coronavirus. If you're getting a free surface, it's from touching that surface and then touching your hands or mouth, and there's nothing that I put closer to my face my phone. So I disinfect my phone a lot I try to do it when I wash my hands because I wash my hands I'm going to touch this dirty phone again, I don't think so so I have put a hand sanitizer directly on my phone in which. It's not the best way like low bleach wipe will do you good but it's definitely something you want to be doing. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Does alcohol my ability to fight to Ovid Sam, don't give me don't don't don't. Don't depress me with this answer. I will say you will be devastated to know that does suppress immune response as a general rule. Especially, if you're drinking a lot in the NIH, even put out the statement that says if you're drinking when you're exposed to corona virus, it hampers your immediate ability to to stave off infection. I. Know I know and the other thing to think about here saying though is when you're drunk, you're also making decisions that you might not make when you're sober Sam I mean this accounts for my entire junior year of college. There their decisions that I wish I could undo zillow. It's not just about your immune system. It's also about how close are you going to get to somebody? How loud are you GonNa talk so unfortunately, Sam for you I can hear it in your voice your sad but there are a lot of good reasons not to be drinking in the large group of people right now at least excessively I. Next question if I get a piece of hair stuck in my mouth while wearing my mask, it feels like an existential dilemma. Should I do? All right. Sorry. Just sidebar real quick I'm the guy in the restaurant where if I see a piece of hair in my food I'm like well, the hair got cooked. We're good. EAT IT I really. Honestly for this answer I'm glad you have a pro eating hair mentality because I will say as a person who has worked in a lab with infectious pathogens when I'm trying not touch my face and Mike one little tiny stray hair gets out of my hair tie I will say you learn to eat that hair say I'm a part of. But. But I do think you depends on where you are. If you have a safe space to take your mask off deal with the hair wash hand sanitizer put that mass back on. I. Don't have time for all that. So you just eat that hair you'd be strong here. Also, let's let's be real here. Most hair is cleaner than your cell phone. Lobby choosing. More than their phones. Speak Truth and I don't WanNa hear it but you need to. Okay. Next question. Can you contract covid from a swimming pool? Well, well, well, finally, I have some good news Sam saying you bound. So according to the CDC. There's no evidence that you could pick up Cova from pool water like just from being in a pool with somebody who has laurien in it. There's a lot of situations going on one of them is that it's diluted right? So it's diluted in a bunch of other I mean a budget other stuff. Let's be honest. But so what would I would say is that like I would never go to an indoor pool right now, I would be really careful about social distancing outside the pool around the pool like as soon as I. Get back to my little chair I'm putting my mask on for sure around all these people that I don't know and I wouldn't be getting closer to six feet. So you still have to keep yourself away from people while you're in the pool like I wouldn't go into a super crowded pool, but the water itself should not get you sick. Okay. Good to know last question actually. Oh. A. heart-wrenching. Question. How do I smile at people while wearing a mask? Honestly say yeah. These I mean the emotional range of these questions it kills the why Question Sam I guess with your eyes I don't know I've also found scientifically that waving works. Okay. But you know smile with your eyes scream inside your heart has twenty twenty. Wow. Can we make t shirts that say that? There is screaming inside your heart. I love it. Yeah well, yes. Thank you for answering my and other listeners, covert questions, and thanks to those who listeners I in the questions and Jesse Hannah. Catherine Syria Model Natalie Eliza Anne Anne. I will add one last follow up question based on seeing all these questions come in. A lot of people have so much anxiety around corona virus in this pandemic, it's approaching like OCD. How can people throughout their day? Take. Care of their. Around this pandemic yeah. I museum. This is a big question right like there's something to be said about US knowing that we're going to be in this for a while right and that's pretty scary. But I, think one thing that gives me a little bit of solace and a little bit of hope is that we're not helpless in the situation you know what I mean. There are things we can do to minimize our risks. There are things we Can Do, to take care of our central workers who are keeping this country afloat right now in that is trying to take care of each other trying to take care of your mental health you know trying to exercise outside when you can in no that we do have some agency here we can make changes that can help us get to the other side of this however long that will be and sometimes that's something that I hang onto. Yeah. Patrick dog don't kiss your dog down go outside. Don't certainly. No. Because of other people's dogs we have a talk on the way home in the car. Cute. Your mouth off these. Thanks to Sam Standards for having me on it's been a minute, which is a great show. If you want weekly digest the news that will help you process events without feeling overwhelmed by that, we've got a link to their podcast feed on apple and spotify in our episode nets. Back next week with more shortwave from NPR.
Puerto Ricans Are At Risk From The Coronavirus And A Lack Of Information
"He shortwave listeners. Mattie Safai here we know things are really tough right now in our team is working around the clock to bring you the latest on the science of the corona virus. Your contributions to public radio stations are what make that possible. So if you're fortunate enough right now to be able to support our work. We're asking for your help if you can go to donate dot. Npr Dot org slash short to find and support your local NPR station again. That's donate that. Npr DOT org slash short. You're listening to shortwave from NPR. Here's one thing we know for sure. In general older people are the most vulnerable to the dangerous complications of the corona virus. And what part of the US has the most older Americans per capita the US territory of Puerto Rico? Puerto Rico is especially vulnerable because their healthcare system still hasn't fully recovered from Hurricane Maria in twenty seventeen followed by a recent string of deadly earthquakes. Tonight new six takes you inside the medical crisis in Puerto Rico tomorrow on top of matters Mooney mohair PhD scientists Rican argues. There's a huge communication problem. There's not as much information in Spanish. And it's not always timely. Recently the White House put out some guidelines for for the country on on social distancing and it took the government a couple of days to translate it into Spanish and there were journey another journalist who were requesting. Where is the Spanish language information for this and it took them awhile? A lot of three can speak English. But according to US census data the overwhelming majority a fourth Ricans. Who Speak Spanish in their homes. Say they do not speak English very well. And some don't speak English at all and in a situation like a pandemic having accurate and evidence base science based Information Abou- preventive measures about how to take care of your health. It can actually be a matter of life or death. Monaco's trying to fix that. She works for a nonprofit called. Cnc Poor three go a network of scientists and supporters. Trying to get the right information out about the corona virus in part of that is doing lots of interviews and you know early in the morning you got to warm up that voice because I am in California and there's a three hour difference in Puerto Rico. Yeah I've been waking up at five in the morning a lot more than I usually do. Your what do you got? Let me hear your vocal exercises. I don't have any you need to tell me. Give me a couple of red. Leather Yellow Leathers red-letter yellow. You gotTA say fast. Red Leather Yellow Leather Red Leather Yellow. Other red blood or yellow today on the show how one group of scientists educators and community members are trying to bring accurate scientific information to Americans in Puerto Rico. And why it's not just about language it's about culture too today. We're talking with MONICA ABOUT SANTA or three. Go after each emergency. Puerto Rico has faced. Monica SAYS. The organization has had to respond in new ways. We are big believers of of doing what you can with what you have from where you are. And one of the things that I have been leading in in particular has been essentially a campaign to get scientists Speaking with the media so giving people given scientists the space and connecting them with different media platform so that they can provide their expertise in in engage with the public and answer questions about The coronavirus about the collision nineteen about public policy issues this about education issues so. I know a lot of this has been online but y'all have also been focused on newspapers and radio. Why is that because we WANNA make sure that this information? The scientific information is accessible to as many people as possible. Not Everybody has access to the internet or not. Everybody knows how to navigate a a website to find this information and so by working with different types of outlets and platforms We're trying to make sure that were reaching as many people as possible And so we've also been working with a radio station in Puerto Rico. Particularly Morning. Radio shows on. Am radio are very popular along the Department of the owners. They go on and they answered questions from the audience about the virus. They talk about public health issues. They've talked about public policy issues. I've I was on a couple of weeks ago and I talked about you know misinformation and false news and what people can do to to kind of fat check. The the information that they might might be getting on tap social media to make sure that they're consuming good information. Not False News I've I've personally have done some segments with with dilemma with Spanish language channels and so we're trying to cast a broad met so that we're reaching as many people in Spanish as fussing quarterback for me Donna. Like one hundred per game cent. A an autopsy on. I know there has been some. Let's see disappointment in Puerto. Rico about how? The government has handled big emergencies like a hurricane. Maria does that make it harder to get people on board with some of the guidance that we're receiving from the government I think so Unfortunately in the last three years particularly after here again Maria there were so many missteps. They're the lack of transparency was so severe with the government trying to to make it seem like there were not as many deaths later being revealed. That supplies were rotten in In warehouses and so there is a lot of mistrust in in the government. And I think that makes it a lot harder because in emergencies like this pandemic you should be trusting that the government is doing. What's in the best interest of people but the government of Puerto? Rica doesn't have a good track record of that and so I think people are looking for members of the scientific community for Academics people that are not don't have an association with the government. They're looking at those people for information that they can trust and you know most of the scientists that that are are being part of these communication efforts that were leading their day are Puerto Rican. Their families are import. Dorigo they live in Puerto Rico and so they are speaking from a place of up deep understanding and of deep concern and love for for Puerto. Rico yeah absolutely so you told me that one of the big problems is that even though there is you know some Spanish speaking information out there. It's not in in context. What do you? What do you mean by that? And why is that important? Well what I mean by that. Is that while information is you know. Information is universal but the way that we understand value and interpret bread any kind of information but also science. It's influenced by our culture. Our contacts by our life experiences our previous knowledge and and import the record in other Latin. Next Coulter's family is really important. We are a culture impo Dragan particular. I'M GONNA speak from my experience. Were deleted we say hello even to strangers with a hug and a kiss. That's not uncommon and so when people are talking about physical distancing about staying at home that is particularly difficult for a culture that thrives on on that level of closeness. And so you might need to do more to explain and to really help. People understand why this is important. You might need to go the extra mile and to really communicate the empathy of you know. I know this is particularly hard because it goes against our nature and it goes against our culture. Yeah so obviously. We've been talking about how this is all going down in three go but obviously keeping People's cultures and languages in mind when we're communicating about this pandemic applies is kind of everywhere right. Listen the scientific community is is international and science is universal but we need language to to communicate. And I think it's very important that we remember that. There's nothing better than hearing science in in your in your own. Mother tongue like there are things that high. I can't really express very well and in English because Spanish is my first language and so there is not just an issue of understanding but I think there's also an issue of of belonging of of somebody you know made sure that this was not just in my language so that I could understand it but so that I could feel like it is for me. It is part of me like it. I matter to to science and so I think that is. That's unimportant element of of why making science accessible and non English languages so important particularly in in a pandemic like this where access to information that people can understand an act on can really be the difference between life and death Okay Monica I appreciate you. Yeah thank you so much. Today's episode was produced by Brit. Hanson and edited by via the facts. Were checked by Emily. Von I'm Maddie. Thanks for listening to shortwave from NPR.
Wearing A Mask Could Be Even More Important Than We Thought
"You're listening to shortwave. From NPR. Protects you your mask protects me. That's basically how we were told to think about face coverings when CDC I recommended wearing them. The CDC is advising the use of. Non, medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it's volunteer you don't have to do. This was way back on. April. Third. This is all about me protecting you and you protecting me surgeon general to Rome. Adams. Put it this way that people voluntarily choose to wear a face face covering. They're wearing it to protect their neighbors from getting the corona virus because again, they could have a dramatic spreads. Basically, we knew masks could help prevent big clouds of speedy virus particles from flying out of the mouth of an infected person, but our understanding of the virus was so new that we weren't sure masks protected healthy people from getting the virus if they encountered those clouds. Clouds the virus particles. Yeah. It's kind of interesting the main messaging and I think that is still largely the case in a lot of places that masks are better for the other. It's almost like a a public service heard people say over and over Catherine? Wu. is a reporter for the New York Times, she recently wrote about a new scientific paper and a bunch of relational data from around the world that supports the idea that masks are even more important than we initially thought that they don't just protect other people they protect you too. Right. So the researchers may talk to you have this really interesting theory and the theory is kind of this idea that the dose makes the poison. So the fewer viral particles that hate you, the less virus is going to kind of set up shop in your body, and that sort of smaller dose makes it less likely that you're going to have severe symptoms. This episode, how amass could prevent severe symptoms of coughing. And what this development reveals about the way science works. I mattie Safai and you're listening to shortwave the daily science podcast from NPR. The case that a mass can protect the person wearing it is laid out by scientists in a new paper coming out soon in the Journal of General, Internal Medicine Catherine Wu wrote about that paper which ties together three different concepts about viruses and how they work. The first is the idea of viral dose. That's kind of the amount of virus that is hitting your face parts and the amount of virus that you're exposed to. The second concept is viral load, basically the amount of virus that has. has set up shop in your body after you get infected, exactly. The third idea which is not new to scientists who studied viruses by the way is that cutting back on the viral dose might mean that even if you get the corona virus, your immune system will react in such a way that you won't get as sick. This idea that you can encounter a tiny little bit virus and your immune system's going to have just a way easier time wrangling those kind of few invaders. and. So it's less likely that your body's going to struggle to control the infection and less likely that you're gonNA get really really sick again, not a new concept for scientists. But what is new is the corona virus itself. Remember how we all called it novel for those first few months, scientists had never seen this corona virus before. So saying masks might protect the wearer doesn't mean that scientists are just changing their mind. As Catherine and I talked about, it means that each day they're learning more and more about the virus, but things like viral dose in viral load a really hard to study. Yeah. Absolutely, and this this research is fascinating. I think the trick here is we have so much data that seems like it could support this idea. But a lot of it is totally observational people are looking at how much virus do you have when your symptoms start When is the easiest time to test someone, but the kind of gold standard experiment that people have done in the past with humans with you know, maybe kind of shady ethics and are now trying to do with a bunch of animal models is. Is. You actually have to give a living creature different doses of virus and see what actually happens to that animal or human, which is really hard to do. Yeah. And like you know we, we know a little bit about the flu because there are actual studies in which they gave people, certain amounts of these doses. But for Corona virus because we don't understand the complications we are you know in, it's because it's such a deadly disease. We really can't do that and and people are really not comfortable doing that. So we do have some studies in animals and one of the pieces that you talked about in your piece was the study out of China, where researchers studied this idea using hamsters. Yeah I thought, this was actually a really cool study These researchers basically put hamsters in adjacent cages, Some of them had the corona virus, so they were infected. In, one cage and then they were separated from their neighbors and some of the cages had these little partitions between the mink made out of surgical masks. So the researchers did not put masks on the hamsters. hamsters don't usually take kindly to that sort of thing, but it seems like they did kind of the next best thing and it turned out that the hamsters that were separated from their. Their neighbours by these surgical mask partitions were a lot less likely to get infected with the coronavirus in the first place and the hamsters that still ended up getting infected with the virus. They have less signs of illness than their neighbors that weren't separated by these masks, and there's like a little bit of nuance here Catherine. Right, which is that if the masks had just prevented some animals from getting. Getting, sick at all. You would say like this makes sense to us. Maybe there weren't enough particles to get the little hamster sick. But in fact, they did get sick. They just got less sick, which is kind of a piece of evidence for this idea of the dose makes the poison right I think that makes a lot of sense I. Mean. It's it is a little bit tough because I? I don't think it's as clear cut as to say like Oh, if I get ten viral particles on my face, I'm not GONNA get sick. But if I get fifteen I'm going to get a little bit sick and then if I get twenty I'm going to get super sick no one knows those numbers yet and those are absurdly numbers so feel free to ask yeah. Those are measles numbers Catholic. Keep going. Yeah. But like those are not clear cut and honestly what numbers hold true for me are probably not GonNa hold true for you. It's super complicated I think what researchers are trying to get at here are super broad trends at a population level. Yeah. Yeah. Because whether or not one. person has more severe symptoms to the other could be based on a lot of different things because the immune system is endlessly complicated as we talked about the last time you were on the show. Absolutely, and so there's also these observational studies, right. So these are not scientific experiments that are being done, but these are people trying to kind of look at these huge data sets we have and see, okay, here are a couple of different variables what could they be and so there are some that are around this idea of infectious does I mean you described? Described the situation in seafood plant in Oregon. What happened there? Catherine? Yeah. So during these really really big scale out breath that were happening at like meat processing plants and other food processing plants. A lot of employers wised up pretty quickly to this idea that these like very crowded insular environments are pretty high risk for spread and so they started giving out. Masks to all their employees so that they could work with some degree of protection there did end up being an outbreak at the seafood plant in Oregon, but more than ninety percent of the people who tested positive for the virus didn't end up having symptoms, which is pretty extraordinary. Considering that the CDC is still trying to really nail down this number, but they've put out some recent tentative. That maybe about forty percent of the infections that we know about our domestic as a huge difference between forty percent and ninety plus percent. Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. In the other thing, you know the other piece of data that again is very core live and we're not. We're still working to understand this is that you pointed out that more mask wearing in the US has coincided with. Fewer deaths and at the of the pandemic, although that's a very complicated thing to prove, right? Yeah. That is I i. think that's something people have been talking about a little bit over the past few months. There's a lot of factors that could go into this. You know we're much better at treating this virus, and there's some evidence to show that the average age of the person has gone down and we know older people are more susceptible to really severe covid nineteen. But. So many more people are also wearing masks now, and it's certainly possible that people are getting smaller doses of this virus on average, and maybe that's contributing to fewer symptoms and less severe disease, and thus peer depths, and we should probably say Catherine that the type of covering you're wearing matters, right. The type of mask that you're wearing does matter in how much protection you have. Absolutely. That's a really good point. A lot of researchers have said, you know you want to choose something. That's got a couple of layers to it. You want to have it. Fairly tight over your mouth and your nose is okay. That's a little loose fitting. We don't WanNA, make it really uncomfortable for you, but you want it to sort of seal off your mouth and your nose which means covering. All of those holes in front of your face. And when you actually put it on and take it off, try not to touch the front of it because that's where all the stuff that you're trying to keep out of your nose and mouth has probably accumulated and said, grab those ear straps or whatever is keeping it on your face. Yeah. Absolutely, and you, Catherine I do think there's a bigger threat here. I. Want to ask you because you're a scientist turned journalist just like me and it's you know about how science is done and interpreted in a pandemic. Sciences. So much of not knowing what's going on and learning little pieces at a time and going back and forth on an issue before you arrive at a conclusion is actually very very common. I. Mean it is my I. Mean I don't know Catherine. That's how it was aggressip school for me and so this idea that like because you know people don't know what they're talking about with masks or you know like the CDC's changing up their guidance like it under, you know it's frustrating, but it's also how it works. You know what I mean. Yeah. Absolutely I? Think the most humbling thing I had to go through in the process of becoming scientists was just getting more comfortable with being wrong all the time and then talking about. Run all the time because I think if if I. Didn't feel empowered enough to talk about my mistakes with other scientists who could. Broaden perspectives. I wouldn't have ended up learning anything, but you know to kind of flip it on its head I. Think it's just been incredibly humbling an incredible to watch how the scientific community has come together. Science is often so plotting and tough, and sometimes it paper will be published and then eight years later, data will come out that'll show. The stories a little bit different here. A lot of that timeline has been collapsed into just a couple months for this pandemic and people are coming together from around the world to learn as fast as possible part of that learning process going to involve. Mistakes and revisions and tweaks, but it's kind of amazing to see everyone coalesce into this giant brain around the virus right now. Are a Katherine? I. Appreciate You. I appreciate your brain Thank you for your reporting and thanks for your work. Thank you so much for having me. It was a delight to be here again. There's a link to Catherine was story about masks viral dose in our episode notes. This episode was produced by Brent Bachmann fact checked by Abby Wendell and edited by Deborah George. I'm Mattie Safai back tomorrow with more shortwave from NPR. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed thirty years ago. So why to this day is the disability community still fighting for their rights, listen now to learn what they're fighting. Through line from NPR every. Thursday.