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Spencer’s Picks: What? Why? How Can I? COVID Considerations…

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Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy

Photo of Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. Photo by Katheryn Laible

Dr. Thomas is back, sharing bits of the Internet that intrigue him. Here are some he’s recently found helpful. Hope you appreciate them, too!

I have long appreciated XKCD, A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math & language. This particular cartoon “Pathogen Resistance” offers a nice sorta positive outlook on things. It echoes my gratitude that so many people have elected to take this situation seriously and have helped us flatten the curve as much as we have.

Please keep it up!

I’ve mentioned “Smarter Every Day” before. I found this really inspiring: “How to Help Your Hospital Fight COVID-19 Locally”

The YouTube Channel: “Health Care Triage” offers great videos, including many on the current crisis such as “How Can I Grocery Shop Safely? When Is Someone Sick Enough for the ER?”“Should I Disinfect My Amazon Deliveries?”“Can I Buy Stuff From China? What About Screen Time? and something we all want to know: “When Can We Get Back to Normal?”

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion and accusations levied against China, from people believing that this virus is a biological weapon or that it came from a lab mishap in Wuhan. Personally, I think this is a distraction – what matters right now is beating the infection.

However, there is already a lot of research on where these kinds of viruses come from and scientists around the world are concluding that it’s extremely likely that COVID-19 came from a chance encounter with a wild bat. FiveThirtyEight has a good summary on “Why Scientists Think the Novel Coronavirus Developed Naturally – Not in a Chinese Lab”

Humans interact with animals all the time and there’s always a tiny chance of something like this happening – it’s inevitable and nobody’s fault. If we learn anything from this, it’s that this was always going to happen eventually and it will happen again in the future.

There is no way to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. That’s not something we can control. What we can control is our response to it.

It didn’t need to get this bad or go on this long, but it’s too late to fix our past mistakes. What we can do right now is everything in our power to stop the spread, while supporting those for whom these sacrifices are a bigger ask. What we can do in the future is build a society that can better weather storms like this.

In terms of getting back to normal, here’s a Roadmap to Resilience, an expert-driven, muti-disciplinary, muli-political-leaning plan to get the world open again.

Meanwhile, on a more personal level, here’s a good quarantine survival guide: Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You from CGP Grey.

Spencer Thomas recently received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is now doing his Postdoc at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. Spencer studies metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

 

Spencer Thomas received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After some time at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, we are DELIGHTED to welcome him back to Long Island as a researcher at Stony Brook University. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. For a time, Spencer studied metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant. We’re still endeavoring to understand what he’s doing now well enough to explain it so simply.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.