Our typical sources are, e.g., The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Nature Briefing and NAS, the National Academies of Sciences. To access some of the articles we recommend here, you may be asked to open a free account or to agree to a small fee supporting the journalism. Consider to do so, it's well worth it.
Links are sorted by date of addition to this page, newest on top.
August 2021 (sort of on vacation)
- Social media, or antisocial media as I tend to call them, admittedly is one of those phenomena that all too often get me to the brink of trust that we will get our acts together for the complex mix of crises we are facing: pandemic outbreaks, climate change, loss of biodiversity, threats to the stability of democracy … you name it. Of course, as with most technology, most people use them wisely and peacefully, with the intended benefit. The Atlantic sheds light onto the dark side and the flood gates of aggression and destruction these tools open for those with bad intentions: read “Mob Justice Is Trampling Democratic Discourse”. The examples make us aware of a social “pandemic“ that has long since “infected“ people, organizations and global relations exposing the worst of human behavior, repealing even constitutional rights, and penetrating the daily social and professional life even where the mobile phones are off! What can we do to push the genie back into the bottle?
- Its most likely true that most of us haven’t been to war. So The Atlantic story „Eavesdropping on the Taliban“ is a rare piece of insight into the experiences of a soldier, and even more so into the minds of the opponents. Who believes they can just return to normal as if twenty years hadn’t happened?
- Compare our science of biotherapeutics and vaccines as high paced as it has displayed itself in Corona times with science in extreme slow motion: you get to paleontology. “The Day the Earth Died” is a fascinating story of the last day of the Cretaceous (the age of the dinosaur). Robert DePalma who found the excavation site described here says: “When you go one layer up—the very next day—that’s the Paleocene, that’s the age of mammals, that’s our age.” Of course you are aware of the asteroid impact that caused the extinction, but I doubt you have had a chance to get a grip on it in such a lively way and so full of scientific excitement. Enjoy!
- Ed Yong covers the pandemic for The Atlantic. His is among the best journalism about it that one can find! It’s a US perspective he takes, but we all have the same soup of tiredness of social life restriction, mask hatred, vaccination skepticism, virus denialism and other conspiracies at home too … He writes: „If no other precautions are taken, Delta can spread through a half-vaccinated country more quickly than the original virus could in a completely unvaccinated country.“ Read “How The Pandemic Now Ends” and embrace the thought that we will have to live with a new much more severe “common cold“ all around us.
- There is a place where you can watch live, though in slow motion, how our water supply is vanishing, literally evaporating: Lake Powell. Read Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The lost canyon…” story in The NewYorker. She weaves the scary water & power supply outlook into a fascinating tour of Glen Canyon, resurfacing with the most beautiful scenery the planet has to offer.
July 2021 (please sign up and become a member)
- This link here is for those of you who read German! Der Spiegel has a very well written story titled “Die große Impflücke” (the wide vaccination gap), which I recommend not the least because it explains so many aspects of it so well…why should we get prepared for really hard controversies in our societies once the next waves arrive.
- Nearly all covid-19 deaths in the United States are now avoidable. Today’s coronavirus deaths are senseless. The New Yorker story leads you right into the maze of human decision making…and it’s not an encouraging learning experience!
- Why do we care about wet bulb temperature? First Dog on the Moon explains this complicated term (it can kill us) and shows an easy way around it (I still had to smile…)
- Health care workers are putting themselves in harm’s way for people who’ve chosen not to protect themselves. The Atlantic report “Delta Is Driving a Wedge Through Missouri” sheds light on what is becoming the pandemic of the unvaccinated, increasingly the younger part of the population, and the communities/countries who can’t wait to move back to the old normal. I’m afraid that does not exist any more…
June 2021 (after a few weeks of absence from the blog)
- Assume you have taken a look at the article linked right below and now you got curious about those Scandinavian countries that always seem to rank as happiest … before you get on your way for a visit or while you’re on your way you might want to read “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Michael Booth. Dissecting one after the other Scandinavian country and culture with deep local insights and a pinch of British humor … fun to read!
- Who doesn’t want to be happy? Can we learn from others who are ranking as the happiest in the annual ”World Happiness Report”? It’s not as easy as copying some elements of lifestyle and “Hygge alone will not save us” says Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic. They live with a different priority list of values and with that comes a different set of fundamental benefits, not so much lifestyle related.
- The Pacific Northwest is melting now, but all across America the infrastructure we have was built for the wrong century. Seattle and Vancouver heat records look much like those of Dallas and Las Vegas … The Atlantic writes “Nowhere Is Ready for This Heat” and suggests that the short-term responses we are going to see will have to trigger a much more fundamental rethinking of how we engineer our infrastructure.
- Cybersecurity begins with everyone of us. Do you follow the basic rules? Do you want a fun booster for your awareness? Listen to “The Ransomware Song” and “The Sea Shanty”. Enjoy!
May 2021 (I look forward to your feedback)
- Covid Killed His Father. Then Came $1 Million in Medical Bills. I‘ve been thinking what to write here, but this New York Times story just leaves me speechless.
- In my previous life travel was the way I spent my time. All of that came to a screeching halt with retirement and with the pandemic. The memories of a boat trip on the Mekong in Laos got me to pause this morning and read the WWF article “Resilient Rivers”. It describes a wonderful world on the brink of disappearing with major dam projects and rapidly growing economies on its shores. It’s like time travel back to the days when “we in the West” did the same to Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado etc. Can humans somehow navigate the narrow path of supporting progress for people while avoiding our old mistakes and preserving nature and biodiversity?
- Millions are saying no to the vaccines - what are they thinking? This article in The Atlantic has some very good insight from interviews with people who say no. Confrontational attitude against them won’t work!
- When the sky turned orange. If you haven’t been in the Bay Area yourself in September last year when the wildfires were hitting the US West Coast you should watch this video … for people who live there it must have been a scary wake up call!
- The paper "Our future in the Anthropocene biosphere" was linked on the Nobel Prize Summit website introduced below. It walks you through the complexity of the challenge ahead of us: maintaining a future on this planet in an intact and beautiful natural environment.
- 'Our Planet, our Future' was the headline for the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit, held on April 26-28 as a virtual event. After the meeting, organisers and participants issued an urgent call for action and state: "this summit comes amid a global pandemic, amid a crisis of inequality, amid an ecological crisis, amid a climate crisis, and amid an information crisis ... but we are waking up!" I wish we all do.
- CRISPR, “a way to rewrite the very molecules of life any way we wish” (Jennifer Doudna, Nobel prize laureate). Using it "we can save species from extinction, or eliminate them" writes Elizabeth Kolbert. I picked another of her articles from The New Yorker to give you more from the author of "The Sixth Extinction", the book I am recommending you to read (GeminiReads). Follow the story of her personal journey into CRISPR as she learns about it, the opportunity and the challenge.
- One hundred and twenty terawatt-hours per year: the annual domestic electricity consumption of the entire nation of Sweden, my home country during a large part of my professional career. That is the amount of energy bitcoin-mining operations worldwide now use. Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker gives us another estimate: "A single bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of power that the average American household consumes in a month." And she goes on asking: "At a time when the world desperately needs to cut carbon emissions, does it make sense to be devoting a Sweden’s worth of electricity to a virtual currency? The answer would seem, pretty clearly, to be no. And, yet, here we are." I had this topic up in an earlier link, but I guess it is worth reminding us all again and again where the path of greediness might take us.
- On another note: checking the links below I realize that you may only be able to read a limited number of articles in a given newspaper for free, e.g. only five before you are asked to create an account, subscribe or donate. Here are two links to do so at favorable conditions, they come up regularly: The New York Times and The New Yorker. If you like what I find and link on this page, please consider to support the journalism, it’s small money and it’s needed!
- Isn’t the pandemic complex enough? The archaic threat of a deadly disease, the prevailing uncertainty of science in the face of this little virus with it’s potential mutations and the vast variety of sequelae people experience, and then us humans who are not equipped well for uncertainty paired with an invisible unforgiving predator…Well, no it’s not complex enough! While our single-lane minds were occupied with Corona, climate continued to change: the good news here is the Biden administration is committed. But that is not likely to cut it…see the NYT “Debatable“ on ”Why should anyone in the Global South accept this?’‘
- The morning of May 1 made me wonder: have we still not reached the bottom of the pit? Check this report by the New York Times to see what I mean…
- April 2021
- How do Pfizer and BioNTech produce their COVID-19 mRNA vaccine? Check out the New York Times “inside the facility” story.
- The BBC brought us ”How do pandemics end?” A story linking the history of pandemics to your family tree.
- What do Swiss cheese and Corona have in common? Well, most of you are familiar with risk mitigation strategies? The BBC has an infographic based on the "Swiss cheese respiratory pandemic defence model" first created by Ian M Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland, Australia. It is based on a concept originated by James T Reason, a cognitive psychologist, now a professor emeritus at the University of Manchester, UK. It is used in scientific circles when discussing mitigating risk. Just swipe up to see the texts and explain to your kids why they should do all those things they need to do right now...
- „All afternoon and evening, church bells rang out across America. People flooded into the streets, kissing and embracing“. The man who’s invention people celebrated was Jonas Salk, we are talking about the first Polio vaccine approval and the year 1955. That was The Last Time a Vaccine Saved America as The New Yorker titles the story about why we don’t seem to appreciate the wonders of science and vaccine development nearly as much now when we get five vaccines in one year instead of one in fifteen years.
- Do you know who Katalin Kariko is? Read about the scientist who suggested mRNA as a route to novel therapies, just to be ignored and un(der)funded for most of her career in the lab. Is this New York Times biography written for one of the next Nobel laureates?
- Among all the alarming news about Corona, so many inefficient approaches and quite some uncertainty what might work, The Atlantic tells us about the World's Unlikeliest Pandemic Success Story. Test yourself first to see whether you know where Bhutan is. Then learn from them...also available in Swedish.
- March 2021 (the website is finally active)
- Are you rolling your eyes inwards whenever the next announcement about Corona and your local vaccination campaign comes up in the news? SMILE instead! Neither are you alone, nor do you know how complicated things are. First Dog on the Moon has all you need to understand in simple text and images! This one has a small Australian touch, but I'm sure you will feel at home...
- "You have arrived - your destination is on the left!" We need satellites in space and gadgets on the ground to find our way despite of the fact that we have built the road network ourselves and have put any number of signs there to guide us...maybe all the natural GPSs were gone when it was our turn? The New Yorker has a fascinating story on "Why Animals don't get lost" that gives many amazing examples of the solutions invented by nature and refers you to a few books for the curious among us. Who can find a place they have never been to before from five thousand kilometres away, at night, under water, underground too, or who can get home after being dropped hundreds of miles away without a hint where that is?
- I like to think that a good laugh or even just a regular smile gets you through your day with more energy and less frustration. That’s why I love cartoons. First Dog on the Moon is an Australian series brought to us by The Guardian. Today it has a first hand analysis of what can happen when a big boat gets stuck in a very long and very narrow human-made lake. Enjoy!
- Since quite some time now I have deleted my FaceBook account, a revolting business concept not to speak about the leader's business ethics, is my humble view (try Signal or iMessage). Twitter has always been an alien concept to someone who loves complexity ... The Guardian has a paper titled 'Climate fight 'is undermined by social media's toxic reports'. It seems that more and more people realise that social media, a fantastic invention in many ways, is being turned against us and is poisoning democratic processes and valuable initiatives. Facts versus Fake! Read and test your own view!
- The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means - this Nature survey shows many scientists expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to become endemic. The hope is that it will be less dangerous over time.
- The next / third wave of the Corona pandemic will not mark the end even if vaccination campaigns accelerate. Next will be the challenge of a yet unknown number of virus mutations. All indicators suggest that we will need a next generation of vaccines, and soon! Nature describes how Innovators target vaccines for variants and shortages in global South. Get to know the next wave of vaccine concepts intended not only to win the fight against mutations but also against supply and affordability issues in low and middle income countries.
- Vaccine development normally takes at least a decade, often longer! The COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and Johnson & Johnson were approved for emergency use within a year of the Corona pandemic onset: a revolutionary achievement enabled by a combination of some of the most recent scientific discoveries, their application in multi-billion patient scale of manufacturing, and partnering between small(er) organisations with the novel concepts, e.g., in this case Oxford University, UK and BioNTech, Germany, and large biopharma players like Pfizer and Astra Zeneca with financial muscle and the experience to turn the concept into a global product. Mission possible: the race for a vaccine is a National Geographic/Pfizer YouTube video that tells the story with an obvious Pfizer perspective. Nevertheless, a worthwhile watch giving insights into the enormous complexity that was successfully attacked at Pfizer with a relentless commitment through all levels of the organization. Thanks so much to all teams at all these companies and others who are still marching towards an approval, and yet others who support with manufacturing capacity globally...!!!
- I knew about money laundering, but fish laundering...? If you enjoy a meal of fish on a regular basis, you may not like this: The Guardian reveals that seafood fraud is happening on a vast global scale. Nearly 40% of 9000 tested products from restaurants, markets and fishmongers were mislabelled. Some were found to be a different fish species, typically of lower value, some with known health risks, and a few did not even contain fish at all ... bon appétit! The seafood supply chain seems to be as murky as some of the waters...
- “When the President of the United States places an order for millions of doses of a covid-19 vaccine, they do not simply appear, like Amazon packages, two days later.“ The New Yorker has a backgrounder on Why COVID-19 Vaccines Aren't Yet Available To Everyone. Interesting reading a little beyond the horizon for us drug product focused folks.
- Our industry is consuming a lot of water and so do we as individuals. You may want to get to know the work of Peter Gleick and his team at the Pacific Institute, e.g., the "World's Water" report. Among many current facts and aspects of this field, the report lists almost 500 water related conflicts since the beginning of time...an outlook of what the future may hold for our children?
- It was nice to receive the first link recommendation within minutes after the website launch earlier in the week: here is now a recent Nature Briefings discussion of pros and cons of virtual meetings. It confirms that with a year of experience and being more familiar with ever improving tools, people indeed want virtual components in conferences to stay (74%). Not surprisingly, people miss the "networking" most (69%). Or in plain language: meeting with friends and making new friends.
- We can't really kick this off without taking a look at coronavirus and the vaccines that have become available in recent months. The New York Times, as it has frequently done during the pandemic, brings well explained facts to the comparison between vaccines: What Do Vaccine Efficacy Numbers Actually Mean? There is a very interesting "comments section" accessible via a button at the end of the article. It illustrates how confused and suspicious people get when they are asked to digest trial results.
- One of the many routes to become a millionaire may be an investment in bitcoin paired with a big chunk of luck. Even if the concept of this "currency" is alien to you and you stay away from it, you may still be interested in knowing this: the electricity needed to mine bitcoin is more than used by 'entire countries'. Check out The Guardian reviewing the arguments around this ambiguous opportunity.
- When I was still living in Sweden, I sometimes teased my Swedish colleagues about the weather up there and said "Just wait until someone switches off the Gulf Stream and you will be under three kilometres of ice again!"... I am no longer so sure whether this was something to laugh about: check this article in The Guardian explaining how a decline in the system underpinning the Gulf Stream could lead to more extreme weather in Europe and higher sea levels on US east coast. The article has links to the scientific work reported in it.
- Here is an article related to our first Gemini Reads recommendation (Ian Urbina, The Outlaw Ocean): to many it may seem a good idea to farm fish instead of overfishing the ocean. I would be in the group, but...farmed fish needs to be fed. The New Yorker has a very illustrative story describing the dilemma when the scale of fish farming operations and their environmental and socioeconomic standards are not sustainable.
- June 2020 (we are taking a break for developing the website)
- I used to go to between 10 and 12 conferences each year, all around the globe. In 2020 the number has been zero and I have been part of discussions to delay or cancel conference events. Will the conference experience and the business with them ever be the same? How scientific conferences will survive the coronavirus shock discusses virtual conferencing and has an informal survey where 80% of respondents said they would favour remote participation to become a regular option.
- May 2020
- We all know and respect "Nature", the journal. They have a very convenient newsletter "Nature Briefing", where I found "The race for coronavirus vaccines: a graphical guide", a fascinating, quick to read overview of the current developments. At the end of the paper, you will also find the option to subscribe to the roundup of science news, opinion and analysis the newsletter offers every weekday.
- Here's a link you should consider for your "Favourites" collection: the Seattle based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is offering a web based visualisation tool where you can find answers to many questions you may have around health and disease and the mechanisms at work, e.g., on "GBD Compare". The founder of the institute Christopher Murray is a pioneer of fact based healthcare priority setting. He has a fascinating biography ("Epic Measures" by JN Smith) with many insights into what it takes to put life and not mortality in focus of healthcare policy.
- April 2020
- Biopharmaceutical Processing is a comprehensive textbook on development, design, and implementation of manufacturing processes for scientists and managers in industry or students and teachers in academia. Request your table of content and a pre-read for download. To order your print copy or e-Book directly from the publisher Elsevier click here! Apologies for self-promoting my book.