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Science News, Nobel Roundup, Book Club. Oct 9, 2020, Part 1

Science Friday

News & Politics

What Is The Status Of President Trump’s COVID-19 Case? Late last week, President Trump announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  This Tuesday, he left the hospital and returned to the White House. And many questions still remain. Reporter Umair Irfan discusses the status of President Trump’s health, the experimental treatments he received and who else in the White House and in Congress may have been infected.  Talking About Black Holes And CRISPR With 2020 Nobel Prize Winners This week, a few researchers around the world received that legendary early-morning wake up call from Sweden, bearing word of the 2020 Nobel Prizes. This week, the prize in Medicine or Physiology went jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus.” In Chemistry, Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute and Jennifer Doudna of the University of California at Berkeley won the prize for their work on the technique known as CRISPR. In 2017, Doudna described the technique on Science Friday. In Physics, the award was split among different types of black hole research. One half went to mathematician Richard Penrose, “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.” He described his work with physicist Stephen Hawking in a 2015 Science Friday interview. The other half of the physics prize was split between Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for the discovery of one such supermassive black hole—”a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.” Doomscrolling? Here’s Non-COVID Science News You Might Have Missed   Among all the COVID-19 news of the past week, other stories have gotten less attention than they deserve—including a discussion of climate issues at the presidential debate a week ago. The 12 minutes the candidates spent on climate change and the policy surrounding it marks the first substantive discussion of climate at a presidential debate in years. Science journalist Annalee Newitz joins Ira to unpack the climate discussion, and other science news—including a gruesome ancient punishment, and research into the savviness of crows.   The Science Friday Book Club: Technology, Magic, And Afrofuturism  The Science Friday Book Club continues this week, this time reading another short story from the speculative fiction collection New Suns. African-American author Andrea Hairston’s story ‘Dumb House,’ is about a woman named Cinnamon who finds herself pestered by a pair of traveling salesmen, who hope to persuade her to upgrade her house into something smarter. This week, we talk about ‘Dumb House,’ plus its place in Afrofuturism—culture and storytelling that imagines futures with African-descended people and culture at the forefront.  SciFri producer Christie Taylor, Journal of Science Fiction managing editor Aisha Matthews, and speculative fiction author K. Tempest Bradford discuss trust and community in ‘Dumb House,’ the relationship between technology and magic, and other elements that contribute to the story’s Afrofuturist theme.


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