What the Fukushima meltdowns taught us about how to respond to coronavirus

0DF1D477 44EB 4152 A8E3 6F1B3EE592FC 2Azby Brown and Sean Bonner writing in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

‘Since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Safecast—a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that enables individuals to share radiation measurements and other data—has accumulated a lot of experience and insight about trust, crisis communication, public perception, and what happens when people feel threatened by a lack of reliable information. As our team at Safecast observes the global spread of the coronavirus and the poor responses to it, we can’t help but feel a strong sense of déjà vu….’

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This Coronavirus Is Unlike Anything in Our Lifetime, and We Have to Stop Comparing It to the Flu

20200314 coronavirus flu 3x2Charles Ornstein writing in ProPublica:

‘Longtime health reporter Charles Ornstein says that comparing the novel coronavirus to the flu is dangerously inaccurate. Not one public health expert he trusts has called that comparison valid. Here’s why….’

Via This Coronavirus Is Unlike Anything in Our Lifetime, and We Have to Stop Comparing It to the Flu — ProPublica

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Happy Pi Day. Can You Calculate Pi by Drawing a Circle?

Science picircledefVia WIRED:

‘…the US is pretty much the only place that uses the middle-endian date format of month/day/year. If you go with the little-endian format of day/month/year, then today is 14/3—which is obviously not pi. (In that case I suggest July 22, since the fraction 7/22 is a fairly decent approximation for pi.)

Anyway, my traditional way of celebrating Pi Day is to find a new way each year of calculating a numerical value for pi. It’s just what I do. I’ve been at this for quite some time now, so here are some of my favorites:

Finding pi using random numbers (and Python)

Determining the value of pi using a mass oscillating on a spring

Actually measuring the circumference and diameter of real circles I have even more Pi Day posts here.

But now let’s try this a new way. Let’s see how close we can get to pi by drawing a circle.

Here’s how this will work. You draw a circle. From that circle, you can determine both the circumference and the radius. Then the value of pi would be the circumference divided by twice the radius. Simple, right?…’

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Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Good for You. Now Stop Killing People

A senior doctor in a major European hospital writing in Newsweek Opinion:

‘Fatality is the wrong yardstick. Catching the virus can mess up your life in many, many more ways than just straight-up killing you. “We are all young”—okay. “Even if we get the bug, we will survive”—fantastic. How about needing four months of physical therapy before you even feel human again. Or getting scar tissue in your lungs and having your activity level restricted for the rest of your life. Not to mention having every chance of catching another bug in hospital, while you’re being treated or waiting to get checked with an immune system distracted even by the false alarm of an ordinary flu. No travel for leisure or business is worth this risk.

 

Now, odds are, you might catch coronavirus and might not even get symptoms. Great. Good for you. Very bad for everyone else, from your own grandparents to the random older person who got on the subway train a stop or two after you got off. You’re fine, you’re barely even sneezing or coughing, but you’re walking around and you kill a couple of old ladies without even knowing it. Is that fair? You tell me.

 

My personal as well as professional view: we all have a duty to stay put, except for very special reasons, like, you go to work because you work in healthcare, or you have to save a life and bring someone to hospital, or go out to shop for food so you can survive. But when we get to this stage of a pandemic, it’s really important not to spread the bug. The only thing that helps is social restriction. Ideally, the government should issue that instruction and provide a financial fallback—compensate business owners, ease the financial load on everyone as much as possible and reduce the incentive of risking your life or the lives of others just to make ends meet. But if your government or company is slow on the uptake, don’t be that person. Take responsibility. For all but essential movement, restrict yourself.

 

This is epidemiology 101. It really sucks. It is extreme—but luckily, we don’t have pandemics of this violence every year. So sit it out. Stay put. Don’t travel. It is absolutely not worth it.

 

It’s the civic and moral duty of every person, everywhere, to take part in the global effort to reduce this threat to humanity. To postpone any movement or travel that are not vitally essential, and to spread the disease as little as possible. Have your fun in June, July and August when this—hopefully—is over. Stay safe. Good luck.’