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Physicist Alan Guth, seen here circa the 1970’s, around the same time he made his “spectacular realization” — that the reason why "the heavens look uniform from pole to pole and not like a jagged, warped mess" was because of "cosmic inflation" — the swelling of the universe immediately after the Big Bang, at speeds faster than light.  Now, radio astronomers have discovered gravitational waves, dating back to when the universe was "roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old" that appear to have proven Guth’s theory.
Mind blown.  Also, I’m drinking Coke from now on.
(Photo via Scientific American)

Physicist Alan Guth, seen here circa the 1970’s, around the same time he made his “spectacular realization” — that the reason why "the heavens look uniform from pole to pole and not like a jagged, warped mess" was because of "cosmic inflation" — the swelling of the universe immediately after the Big Bang, at speeds faster than light.  Now, radio astronomers have discovered gravitational waves, dating back to when the universe was "roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old" that appear to have proven Guth’s theory.

Mind blown.  Also, I’m drinking Coke from now on.

(Photo via Scientific American)

BVT News Roundup, Friday 7 March 2014

When scientists made the stunning announcement last year that a baby born with H.I.V. had apparently been cured through aggressive drug treatment just 30 hours after birth, there was immediate skepticism that the child had been infected in the first place.

But on Wednesday, the existence of a second such baby was revealed at an AIDS conference here, leaving little doubt that the treatment works. A leading researcher said there might be five more such cases in Canada and three in South Africa.

And a clinical trial in which up to 60 babies who are born infected will be put on drugs within 48 hours is set to begin soon, another researcher added.

If that trial works — and it will take several years of following the babies to determine whether it has — the protocol for treating all 250,000 babies born infected each year worldwide will no doubt be rewritten.

“This could lead to major changes, for two reasons,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Both for the welfare of the child, and because it is a huge proof of concept that you can cure someone if you can treat them early enough.”

The announcement was the third piece of hopeful news in two days about the virus that causes AIDS.

On Tuesday, scientists reported that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs fended off infection in monkeys, and on Wednesday, researchers announced a “gene editing” advance that might enable immune cells to repel the virus.

The first infant to make an apparent recovery from H.I.V. infection, now famous as the “Mississippi baby,” was described last March at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, the same annual meeting where the new case was reported on Wednesday.

The Mississippi child, now more than 3 years old, is still virus-free, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist who has run ultrasensitive tests on both children in her lab at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

The second baby, a girl born at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., is now 9 months old and apparently free of the virus that causes AIDS.

Her mother, who has advanced AIDS and is mentally ill, arrived in labor; she had been prescribed drugs to protect her baby but had not taken them.

Four hours after the birth, a pediatrician, Dr. Audra Deveikis, drew blood for an H.I.V. test and immediately started the baby on three drugs — AZT, 3TC and nevirapine — at the high doses usually used for treatment of the virus.

The normal preventive regimen for newborns would be lower doses of two drugs; doctors usually do not use the more aggressive treatment until they are sure the baby is infected, and then sometimes not in the first weeks.

“Of course I had worries,” Dr. Deveikis said in an interview here. “But the mother’s disease was not under control, and I had to weigh the risk of transmission against the toxicity of the meds.”

“I’d heard of the Mississippi baby, I’d watched the video,” she added. “I knew that if you want to prevent infection, early treatment is critical.”

The New York Times, "Early Treatment Is Found to Clear HIV In a Second Baby."

Amazing.  

Promising.  

Important.

Isn’t it amazing that the same folks that run a “news” division catering to the willfully ignorant are bringing us a primetime TV show all about science?
And don’t give me no bullshit ‘bout Fox “News” and Fox Entertainment being wholly separate entities.

Isn’t it amazing that the same folks that run a “news” division catering to the willfully ignorant are bringing us a primetime TV show all about science?

And don’t give me no bullshit ‘bout Fox “News” and Fox Entertainment being wholly separate entities.

So NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity found something interesting: what appears to be a rock, coated with some sort of white substance, on the surface where it hadn’t been just days earlier.  During a press conference held by the space agency, one scientist said, of the mysterious object, “This is strange,” adding “Mars keeps throwing new stuff at us.”   Which prompted a reportorial question, via Twitter, from William “Captain Kirk” Shatner: “Are you going to cover the alien rock throwers?”  (via the New York Times)

So NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity found something interesting: what appears to be a rock, coated with some sort of white substance, on the surface where it hadn’t been just days earlier.  During a press conference held by the space agency, one scientist said, of the mysterious object, “This is strange,” adding “Mars keeps throwing new stuff at us.”   Which prompted a reportorial question, via Twitter, from William “Captain Kirk” Shatner: “Are you going to cover the alien rock throwers?”  (via the New York Times)

Year after year, (NASA’s Mars rover) Opportunity goes farther than anyone dreamed. The expectation had been that it would drive about a kilometer — six-tenths of a mile — before dust accumulated on the solar panels and the batteries drained.

Unexpectedly, fortuitous winds periodically cleaned off the solar panels, and Opportunity, as well as its twin, Spirit, continued to operate. Spirit got stuck in a sand dune 2009 and then fell silent in 2010 after it was not able to point its solar panels toward the sun during the winter months.

Instead of one kilometer, Opportunity has driven 38.7 kilometers, or about 24 miles, exploring a series of ever larger craters, taking 170,000 pictures along the way.

“It’s a well-made American vehicle,” said Raymond E. Arvidson, the (mission’s) deputy principal investigator.

The New York Times, "Mars Rover Marks an Unexpected Anniversary With Mysterious Discovery"

BVT News Roundup 10 January 2014.

image

BVT News Roundup 9 January 2014.

Jon Stewart’s assails Fox “News” and its “war on carbon” and we’ve missed you, Jon Stewart.

BVT News Roundup 2 January 2014.

(Photo: Zuma Press via the Post)

Evening News Wrap 16 December 2013.

(*Just kidding.  Photo illustration: The Atlantic)