education (7)

Foxes, Minks, Racoon Dogs...

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Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Education, Research

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “[lab] leak” theory gained little traction. Sure, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested SARS-CoV-2 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China—and called it “the China virus”—but he never presented evidence, and few in the scientific community took him seriously. In fact, early in the pandemic, a group of prominent researchers dismissed lab-origin notions as “conspiracy theories” in a letter in The Lancet. A report from a World Health Organization (WHO) “joint mission,” which sent a scientific team to China in January to explore possible origins with Chinese colleagues, described a lab accident as “extremely unlikely.”

But this spring, views began to shift. Suddenly it seemed that the lab-leak hypothesis had been too blithely dismissed. In a widely read piece, fueled by a “smoking gun” quote from a Nobel laureate, a veteran science journalist accused scientists and the mainstream media of ignoring “substantial evidence” for the scenario. The head of WHO openly pushed back against the joint mission’s conclusion, and U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to reassess the lab-leak possibility. Eighteen scientists, including leaders in virology and evolutionary biology, signed a letter published in Science in May that called for a more balanced appraisal of the “laboratory incident” hypothesis.

Yet behind the clamor, little had changed. No breakthrough studies have been published. The highly anticipated U.S. intelligence review, delivered to Biden on 24 August, reached no firm conclusions but leaned toward the theory that the virus has a natural origin.

Fresh evidence that would resolve the question may not emerge anytime soon. China remains the best place to hunt for clues, but its relative openness to collaboration during the joint mission seems to have evaporated. Chinese officials have scoffed at calls from Biden and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for an independent audit of key Wuhan labs, which some say should include an investigation of notebooks, computers, and freezers. Chinese vice health minister Zeng Yixin said such demands show “disrespect toward common sense and arrogance toward science.” In response to the increasing pressure, China has also blocked the “phase 2” studies outlined in the joint mission’s March report, which could reveal a natural jump between species.

Despite the impasse, many scientists say the existing evidence—including early epidemiological patterns, SARS-CoV-2’s genomic makeup, and a recent paper about animal markets in Wuhan—makes it far more probable that the virus, like many emerging pathogens, made a natural “zoonotic” jump from animals to humans.

Virologist Robert Garry of Tulane University finds it improbable that a Wuhan lab worker picked up SARS-CoV-2 from a bat and then brought it back to the city, sparking the pandemic. As the WIV study of people living near bat caves shows, the transmission of related bat coronaviruses occurs routinely. “Why would the virus first have infected a few dozen lab researchers?” he asks. The virus may also have moved from bats into other species before jumping to humans, as happened with SARS. But again, why would it have infected a lab worker first? “There are hundreds of millions of people who come in contact with wildlife.”

The earliest official announcement about the pandemic came on 31 December 2019, when Wuhan’s Municipal Health Commission reported a cluster of unexplained pneumonia cases linked to the city’s Huanan seafood market. The WHO report devotes much attention to details about Huanan and other Wuhan markets but also cautions that their role remains “unclear” because several early cases had no link to any market. But after reading the report, Andersen became more convinced that the Huanan market played a critical role.

One specific finding bolsters that case, Wang says. The report describes how scientists took many samples from floors, walls, and other surfaces at Wuhan markets and were able to culture two viruses isolated from Huanan. That shows the market was bursting with a virus, Wang says: “In my career, I have never been able to isolate a coronavirus from an environmental sample.”

The report also contained a major error: It claimed there were “no verified reports of live mammals being sold around 2019” at Huanan and other markets linked to early cases. A surprising study published in June by Zhou Zhao-Min of China West Normal University and colleagues challenged that view. It found nearly 50,000 animals from 38 species, most alive, for sale at 17 shops at Huanan and three other Wuhan markets between May 2017 and November 2019. (The researchers had surveyed the markets as part of a study of a tick-borne disease afflicting animals.)

Live animals can more easily transmit a respiratory virus than meat from a butchered one, and the animals included masked palm civets, the main species that transmitted SARS-CoV to humans, and raccoon dogs, which also naturally harbored that virus and have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in lab experiments. Minks—a species farmed for fur that has acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections from humans in many countries— were also abundant. “None of the 17 shops posted an origin certificate or quarantine certificate, so all wildlife trade was fundamentally illegal,” Zhou and his colleagues wrote in their paper. (Zhou did not respond to emails from Science.)

Call of the Wild: Why many scientists say it’s unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 originated from a “lab leak,” Jon Cohen, Science Magazine

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In order to achieve this certification, you have to start with the cloud practitioner examination. This associate-level certification will help you embark on the ladder set by Amazon its credentialing. To get prepared efficiently, you have to take the A cloud guru certified cloud practitioner course. This will provide your hands-on experience in AWS labs. It is found that professionals with shallow knowledge struggle with Amazon VPC, S3, RDS, Kinesis & Lambda. This is the reason that you should focus deeply on these technologies while you are enrolled for your cloud practitioner certification.

Subscribing and reading the AWS as storage services overview will provide you a scenario-based questions understanding related to the above technologies.

In this article, we will discuss the target audience of this certification, the prerequisites, as well as share your insight about the exam.

The prerequisites

This is the specialty of Amazon Web Services that it has no prerequisites set for this examination. But they insist aspirants complete at least one year of experience with the AWS cloud platform. In order to successfully pass this examination, have the involvement of at least one or two years in product life cycle management will also enhance your experience and taking the examination. The examination is all about the pragmatic application of all the technologies, tools, inputs, and outputs present in The Amazon web services.

What should you know about the AWS solution architect certification examination?

For your clarity, AWS solution architect certification examination is a multiple-choice question-based examination where do you have to score at least 720 marks out of 1000 to pass the examination. There will be around 65 question items asked in the exam, out of which five questions are unscored. Now, if you do a little math about how to handle the stress in the examination, you will find that. You are given 1.4 minutes for each question. You have to spend $150 on purchasing the exam voucher.

The domains

Altogether there are four domains of this examination, and they are as follows:

Design resilient architectures consist of 30% of the questions which will be asked in the examination.

Design high performing architectures- this domain consist of 28% of the total examination.

Design secure applications and architecture consists of 24% of the total questions asked in the examination.

Lastly, the domain design cost-optimized architecture holds a worth of 18% in the examination.

How to take this examination?

The Amazon web service is quite lenient when it comes to taking examinations. If you do not have a Pearson VUE exam center near you, then you can take the online examination mode at your home. Each passing day the tools and technologies of Amazon Web Services are renovating, but the core concept remains the same, so as an aspirant, you should not worry much about it.

The main focus of yours should be on creating users, groups, and implement access management with appropriate security with the help of Amazon Web Services IAM. There are many services that come by default, like EC2 questions around these services majorly remains the same.

The preparation 

The best way to prepare is by first gaining a holistic overview of this module of Amazon Web Services. You can start it by going through the study guide. You can use online cheque videos available on YouTube as well as other platforms for free of cost that supports your preparation. A professional with a sound understanding of the architecture, classic load balancer, network load balancer, application load balancer, and fault-tolerant will easily pass the examination with flying colours. You are not supposed to memorize each and every tool and technique but rather should focus on how to make use of these tools and techniques.

There are many figures and tables which you have to memorize completely. The domains are less, but the services are enormous, but you have to repair only a time span of at least four to six months. You should also understand that the scenarios which will be given in the question will be around these services like CloudTrail and configuration.

The seven steps

The cloud practitioner examination is of the high nurse level. Well, the solution architect is of the associate level.

First thing first, you have to understand the domains the services as well as the question pattern. For this, you have to work with the simulation examination as well as practice papers. 

You should focus more on improving performance using the elastic cache, DynamoDB & data pipeline, cloud watch common lambda.

For specifying security applications and architectures, be fluent with Amazon Web Services inspector, cloud HSM & Macie cloud.

The examination is all about validating your operation code, annotate documentation, and anticipate tackling failures.

Joining an online course will also help you in getting through the examination. Apart from that, you have to read the book but prefer the updated and the most recent releases. 

 

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To understand the agile methods of today, we have to go back in time to take a look at what exactly was learned in the seventies and eighties about using these very deterministic processes to manage work. And why is it that we don’t see a lot of people using that today? Agile is now the number one delivery method. Let’s dive in. Let’s talk about traditional management and engineering. Here you can see the old school waterfall design methodology, where you have requirements, and when they are done, they flow down into design, and when the design is ready, it flows down into implementation.

 

And when implementation is complete, you then check to see whether or not you got what you expected, and then finally, what is built is put into maintenance. Now, requirements, design, implementation, verification, and maintenance are all performed traditionally by different contractors or different providers. So you have a requirements contractor or a specialist, a building or implementation specialist, and then you have a verification specialist. And this is to help both in terms of cost management, but also in terms of ensuring that no one is collaborating too much. What you end up with is a very integrated system and underneath the hood, if you think about any kind of work, that as an application it could be a car where a car has doors, and it has engines, and it has a chassis, and they’re all connected by wires for controls, or it could be a rocket which has cooling systems, propulsion systems, life sustainment systems, sensors, or it could be a piece of software, like an app on your phone, which can save data and send information.

 

Anyone of these applications all has features. And those features rely on some kind of service underneath the hood. In traditional management engineering, those services are highly integrated because you are looking to reuse as much as possible. And because you’re doing this predictive big upfront design, you oftentimes get these rightly coupled designs that, you know, they are the most efficient design at the very beginning, but any changes mean that you have to go and you have to change the rest of the system because every feature relies on multiple services and services are serving multiple features and that can lead to some runaway costs.

 

Now, operations research looks to predict the outcome of different systems by using mathematical models. And so this is the bias of earned value management, a process by which you could assume that if you had two pieces of information about a process, you could predict the third. CSM certification is one of the many modern-day certifications which can help you to get your dream job and in places like Albany, where one can lead a wonderful life in a major company. One has to deal with initial failure. This is observed in most cases, certain interviews might not go well, and there might be difficulties while learning the work from the basics. It is advised that one should not lean heavily towards the certification.

 

However, it is highly recommended to pursue certification. There might be difficulties in the transformation process where you have to break into the world of cloud computing. One should devote a significant amount of time to study object-oriented programming, and they should practice a lot. There can be global recognition waiting for you, and if you get a team of like-minded leaders or dreamers, then there is no limit for you. In light of the pandemic, there is an increase in work from home jobs, and as businesses around the world have hit losses, you can utilize this time to learn new things in the shutdown and do something productive. Technology is a boon for us, and new aspects of technology like cloud computing have made life much easier than what it was yesterday, who knows. In the future, there might be some better technology waiting for us.

 

Being a part of the cloud computing world will give you an idea of how things work and what is the structure of daily life things you see. So, if you get a chance to learn and contribute something to it, don’t miss the chance. Grab the opportunity now. Cloud computing induces a much-needed learning environment in education systems across the world. There are different types of educational institutions with different needs to which cloud computing caters. It has induced a much-needed change in this field. Today’s generation needs to access information at their fingertips, which is made possible by cloud computing.

 

The education industry has come a long way over the years. Earlier teaching was confined to textbooks and four walls of the classroom. However, this has changed in the course of time, and now we see a crossover of traditional systems with new technologies such as cloud computing. Learners should stay connected irrespective of their school grounds. The right technology aided by the right timing can empower learners with real-world and career-ready skills.

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Science Literacy, and Democracy...

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Derived from Carl Sagan in "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," on Skeptic.com: Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (infographic)

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Education, Existentialism, Human Rights, Politics

 

 

"The human understanding is no dry light, but receives infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of the deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding." Sir Francis Bacon, NOVUM ORGANON (1620)

 

"A clairvoyance gap with adversary nations is announced, and the Central Intelligence Agency, under Congressional prodding, spends tax money to find out whether submarines in the ocean depths can be located by *thinking hard* at them."

 

Both quotes from "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle in the Dark," chapter 12 - "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection," Sir Francis Bacon's quote is in the chapter intro.

 

The steps of the scientific method go something like this:
1. Make an observation or observations. 2. Ask questions about the observations and gather information. 3. Form a hypothesis — a tentative description of what's been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis. 4. Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced. 5. Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary. 6. Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory. Source: Live Science - Science & the Scientific Method

 

Writing a physics and nano blog, one wants the audience (be they somewhat limited), to catch on to the central theme of the weblog: science, and the promotion of science literacy, for citizens of this country, and since this is the web, Earth.

 

SCIENCE IS FOR ALL STUDENTS. This principle is one of equity and excellence. Science in our schools must be for all students: All students, regardless of age, sex, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science, should have the opportunity to attain high levels of scientific literacy.

 

Scientific literacy implies that a person can identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed.

 

National Science Education Standards (1996), Chapter 2: Principles and Definitions, National Academies Press

 

This blog is a continuing, meaningful discussion about scientific and technological literacy (STL), and its importance in fostering a society of informed citizens – indeed, a prerequisite for participatory democracy – conversant in emerging fields as consumers and eventual future participant contributors. In the language of scripture, I would like to "begat" citizens versed in technology that want to research, discover, and publish in it. For a world so impacted by it, it is imperative we're all versed in it, scientists, engineers, artists, and lay citizens alike.

 

We have gone through a dizzying four-year experiment with technology and authoritarianism. No less than Foreign Affairs (Does Technology Favor Tyranny?) has studied the impact. It was fostered by a birther lie, and technology (Twitter). Though I doubt the current flailing will change election results, we have a number of citizens, in the words of Tom Nichols, who voted for the sociopath. Some of our fellow citizens "created their own realities" (Karl Rove), or delved into "alternative facts" (Kellyanne Conway). His political party could stop him, but they're too cowardly, afraid of him and his base. Sadly, these are NOT their constituents: most members of Congress are multimillionaires, worth well over the salaries we pay them. They serve, for want of a better term, American Oligarchs (Andrea Bernstein), and the businesses they give endless tax breaks to.

 

E Pluribus Unum is probably the first Latin phrase you've ever heard, or read: "out of many, one." It's the nation's motto, and poetic, but in the era of news feeds, echo chambers, and social media groups, E Pluribus Multis is more illustrative and quite apropos.

We must depart, somehow, in the next succession of days, from the false empowerment of divisive Multis, into a future fully embracing science literacy, and Unum for the survival of the species. Our baloney detection kits must be tuned to high gear.

 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

 

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

 

“We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

 

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

 

We owe it to Carl's grandkids, and our children's futures, to get this right.

 

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Argonne, and STEM...

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Students and instructors wave bye to each other after the close of a virtual session of All About Energy. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Topics: Education, Energy, Research, STEM

Argonne Educational Programs and Outreach transitioned to virtual summer programming, ensuring that Argonne continues to build the next generation of STEM leaders.

At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists and educators have found new ways to balance their work with safety needs as the laboratory’s Educational Programs and Outreach Department successfully transitioned all of its summer programming to a virtual learning environment.

By connecting scientific and research divisions across the laboratory, Argonne was able to create multiple virtual programs, helping young people stay connected and engage with the laboratory’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities.

“Providing STEM opportunities and a constant presence with our next generation of STEM professions during a time that is unsettling and turbulent for everyone, but especially our school age and university student populations, was our top priority.” — Meridith Bruozas, Educational Programs, and Outreach manager

“Argonne continues to adapt and lead impactful science during the ongoing pandemic, a strategy that includes strengthening the STEM pipeline with unique educational programs for future scientists and engineers,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. ​“For years, hundreds of students have pursued summer learning opportunities at Argonne that are not available anywhere else. I’m pleased that in 2020 our lab community came together to maintain these high-quality STEM experiences through a successful virtual program for next-generation researchers.”

Argonne provides STEM opportunities for more than 800 students during pandemic, Nathan Schmidt, Argonne National Laboratory

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Open University...


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Topics: Applied Physics, Education, Internet, Nanotechnology, STEM


Today poignantly, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Some of us celebrate in willing self-isolation; others wish a repeat of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic by callously campaigning for others to die for an economy so wrought with inequality it cannot handle it's centennial equivalent.

A disclaimer note: Though these are unique times to say the least, this is not a support for fully online STEM education, though there can be some. Science for the most part is done in-person. I hope this is a bridge until we get to that again. It's hard to Zoom a breadboard circuit design or a laboratory set up.

Worldwide demand is growing for effective STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education that can produce workers with technical skills. Online classes—affordable, flexible, and accessible—can help meet that demand. Toward that goal, some countries have developed national online higher-education platforms, such as XuetangX in China and Swayam in India. In 2015 eight top Russian universities collaborated to create the National Platform of Open Education, or OpenEdu. Professors from highly ranked departments produced courses for the platform that could then be used, for a fee, by resource-constrained universities. The courses comply with national standards and enable universities to serve more students by reducing the cost per pupil.

A new study from Igor Chirikov at the University of California, Berkeley, and his collaborators at Stanford and Cornell Universities and the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow investigates the effectiveness of the OpenEdu program. The researchers looked at two metrics—effectiveness of instruction and cost savings—and found that the platform was successful on both fronts.

 

Online STEM courses can rival their in-person analogues
Christine Middleton, Physics Today

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The Lightness of Stupidity...

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Anti-evolution books on sale during the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925. Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Biology, Civics, Climate Change, Education, Science, Research

History.com: Scopes Monkey Trial


Nearly a quarter of a million science teachers are hard at work in public schools in the United States, helping to ensure that today’s students are equipped with the theoretical knowledge and the practical know-how they will need to flourish in tomorrow’s world. Ideally, they are doing so with the support of the lawmakers in their state’s legislatures. But in 2019 a handful of legislators scattered across the country introduced more than a dozen bills that threaten the integrity of science education.

It was a mixed batch, to be sure. In Indiana, Montana and South Carolina, the bills sought to require the misrepresentation of supposedly controversial topics in the science classroom, while in North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, their counterparts were content simply to allow it. Meanwhile, bills in Connecticut, Florida and Iowa aimed beyond the classroom, targeting supposedly controversial topics in the state science standards and (in the case of Florida) instructional materials.

Despite their variance, the bills shared a common goal: undermining the teaching of evolution or climate change. Sometimes it is clear: the one in Indiana would have allowed local school districts to require the teaching of a supposed alternative to evolution, while the Montana bill would have required the state’s public schools to present climate change denial. Sometimes it is cloaked in vague high-sounding language about objectivity and balance, requiring a careful analysis of the motives of the sponsors and supporters.

Either way, though, such bills would frustrate the purpose of public science education. Students deserve to learn about scientific topics in accordance with the understanding of the scientific community. With the level of acceptance of evolution among biomedical scientists at 99 percent, and the level of acceptance of climate change among climate scientists not far behind at 97 percent, it is a disservice to students to misrepresent these theoretically and practically important topics as scientifically controversial.
 

 

Science Education Is Under Legislative Attack, Glen Branch, Scientific American

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