When I sit down to write about science, I usually think about what is happening in the world. It is January and February is right around the corner. But, then again the calendar is just an abstraction, as January in the northern hemisphere is winter, but in the southern one it is summer, and if you live near the equator you just worry about whether or not you are getting rain. So, what did I happen to run across that was interesting this past week?
First, there is something called human coronavirus-associated myocarditis. We have been hearing about this in the news, it is an inflammation of the heart muscle and can affect the heart’s electrical system. Which ultimately means that some COVID-19 patients may present as a heart attack patient, and if you have experienced COVID-19 there is something that you are going to have to watch for the rest of your life. Just one more thing to worry about.
Second, I have been thinking a lot about coughs lately. During the winter, I tend to get a nagging cough. But, this year coughs have taken on whole new meanings. A cough is part of your bodies defense mechanism and is response to something that irritates your throat or your airways. Coughs can be classified as productive or non-productive. A productive cough is a “wet” cough that causes the body to expel mucus or phlegm (got to love this word), while a non-productive cough is a “dry” cough. Wet coughs according to Harvard Health may sound soupy or come with wheezing or rattling and may be associated with postnasal drip, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or bronchiectasis. Dry coughs can be a reaction to an irritation or associated with asthma, medication side effects, or other medical conditions. Then there are “barky” coughs associated with croup or the “whooping” cough. (You can hear what a “whooping” cough sounds like on this website.) And, now there is the “COVID-19” cough. There is a good YouTube Video that talks about the MIT artificial intelligence application that may be able to help distinguish the COVID-19 cough. Of course, you should always get your cough checked out if it is accompanied by a fever, causes breathlessness, chest pain, or has signs of blood, and if the cough is persistent.
Science news crosses my desk everyday. Discoveries associated with butterflies, volcanos, marine animals, etc. are happening all the time. This week a dead finback whale was found in the Mediterranean, and ice covered the Sahara Desert for just the fourth time in 50 years were just two of the interesting articles that came across. And, that doesn’t count my own observations on my daily walks, a change in the weather, the different types of birds that are in my neighborhood (this week was treated to several flyovers by Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Mexican Goshawks as well as Meadowlarks, starlings, ducks, geese, and herons.) I have watched ice crystal formation, discussed animal nutrition, looked at the anatomy of the horse, and started to see the spring calves in the pastures (a bit early but it is getting close).
What is ahead for the next week? Well there will be a Full Wolf Moon on Thursday, January 28. Neptune is easy to spot this week during the early evening. A space walk is planned at the ISS on January 27 and will be shown on NASA TV. And, you never know what is going to happen as our planet is dynamic and there is a lot of great science happening.