Breadcrumbs 17 May 2021

by reestheskin on 17/05/2021

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The first of God’s creatures

Polly Samson’s playlist: 10 songs from my travels | Greece holidays | The Guardian

The line about the sonar got me.

I was seven months pregnant with my first child when his father and I went to Dingle to swim with the wild dolphins. It was September 1989, and though the sea must have been freezing (and no wetsuit could be found that would accommodate my bump) I don’t remember being cold because it was so exhilarating. We spent a month there, swimming with the dolphins every day (“the first of God’s creatures to see our baby” said his father, referring to their sonar) and in the evenings the music in the pubs was so good: all the traditional Irish instruments – fiddles, whistles – and this song remains with me as part of that happy time.

Physics envy

What’s next for physics’ standard model? Muon results throw theories into confusion

Physicists should be ecstatic right now. Taken at face value, the surprisingly strong magnetism of the elementary particles called muons, revealed by an experiment this month, suggests that the established theory of fundamental particles is incomplete. If the discrepancy pans out, it would be the first time that the theory has failed to account for observations since its inception five decades ago — and there is nothing physicists love more than proving a theory wrong.

There is still something special about the Queen of Sciences. Cast all those dull RCT meta-analyses aside.

That sort of business model

Why Joe Biden Punched Big Pharma in the Nose Over Covid Vaccines – BIG by Matt Stoller

On an investor call last month, the CEO of Pfizer, Frank D’Amelio, discussed what would happen to revenue from his vaccine product as the Covid pandemic ends, what he called the “durability of the franchise.” He told analysts not to worry. People in rich countries will need annual booster shots, and that is where Pfizer will make real money.

For these annual treatments, Pfizer will be able to charge much more than it does now. The current price for a covid vaccine, D’Amelio noted, is $19.50 per dose. He told analysts of his hope Pfizer could get to a more normal price, “$150, $175 per dose,” instead of what he called “pandemic pricing.”

The ghoulish part, however, is why there will need to be annual boosters. It’s not because the vaccine strength wanes over time, though that might happen. It’s because, as D’Amelio told Wall Street, there will be new variants emerging from abroad that can evade the vaccine. And how will variants emerge abroad? Well as outbreaks occur in non-vaccinated parts of the world, new strains will naturally occur as the virus mutates. If the rest of the world gets vaccinated, however, new variants won’t arise.

Defining addiction: they should know

6th May 2021. Cycling | Food – Just Two Things

Via Andrew Curry.

One of the critical issues—if you’re going to assert that food companies encourage addictive behaviours—is how you define addiction.

Moss has a helpful piece of evidence here: the definition offered as testimony under oath by a CEO of the tobacco and food company Philip Morris: 

A repetitive behaviour that some people find it difficult to quit.

And a nice turn of phrase:

While regulators are less likely to get involved in the US than in the UK, you can’t help but feel that sooner or later empty calories will turn into empty profits

Quote of the Day

A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.

John Shedd

Changing course

The geopolitical fight to come over green energy – Engelsberg Ideas

From Helen Thompson

The ‘energy transition’ tag is a misnomer. Radically reducing fossil-fuel energy will represent an energy and an economic revolution. The difficulty is not a matter of political will or money, but physics. As the Czech-Canadian environmental scientist Vaclav Smil – the one energy realist that techno-optimist Bill Gates takes absolutely seriously – has repeatedly pointed out, a green energy revolution would be qualitatively different than any energy change in human history because it involves moving from more concentrated to less concentrated energy, rather than in the opposite direction.

Even more difficult than dealing with Scottish Power.

On the ignorance production factor

The cost of scientific patronage | Science

We need more historical scholarship on how powerful entities produce ignorance as well as knowledge, and Oreskes provides a model for doing so. As an intellectual and institutional history of postwar oceanography, Science on a Mission will interest historians and practitioners of the marine sciences, historians of Cold War science, and scholars of epistemology, and it deserves a wide readership. Moreover, as an exposé of how navy-sponsored oceanographers wound up constraining their own research agendas and believing their own myths, the book should give pause to all scientists who consider themselves immune to the potential influence of their funders, or who romanticize the golden age of military scientific patronage.

Compatible scholarship gets funded, and what gets funded…

Two quotes for another day

The political class copies. It seldom thinks.

Aristotle suggested that the opposite of anger is play, or if not its opposite, it’s antithesis. It’s an astute observation.

Eric Lonergan and Mark Blyth, in Angrynomics