@hildabast@mastodon.online avatar



Scientist (PhD; she/her), writer, cartoonist. I blog about metascience, epidemiology, grief, social media data, & evidence generally. Following and reporting on next generation Covid vaccines. And I write at The Atlantic sometimes. Newsletter: Living With Evidence https://hildabastian.wordpress.com/

#MetaScience #SystematicReviews #Epidemiology #ClinicalTrials #Grief #Vaccines #Wikipedia #History #HistSci #Science #OpenScience #OpenSocialWeb

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hildabast, to random
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Trial results for longer-lasting Covid vaccines & more news - Next Generation Update 17.

3 sets of trial results: 1 is the first full report of a pancoronavirus vaccine, and it did pretty well, giving developers lots to go on for this ambitious type of vaccine.

18 new preclinical study reports - including another 2 showing intranasal vaccination reduced transmission among animals sharing the same air.


hildabast, to wildlife
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Joey! 🦘

I got a chance to have a baby kangaroo on my lap for the first time! 😍

He felt all angular legs & tail pushing round inside his rescue pouch.

My son does wildlife rescue. This poor sweetie lost his mother – she was hit by a car. 😢 He goes to a registered foster home now, & is big enough to do fine. 🤞 🤞 🤞

Joey snuggled into his "pouch." Only his face is visible. The pouch is a bag made of snuggly cloth, with an elasticized opening. It's turquoise, with a white pattern.

hildabast, to climate
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What happens when a physicist concerned about planetary heating in the 1970s gets a property that was fully wrecked by years of sheep-farming, with almost no trees?

My environmentalist sister, Lis, tracked one down to find out – and it's mind-blowing!

Over 3,000 trees in & still growing more from seed, it's a gorgeous wonderland of a place to live – eco-friendly, biodiverse, off-grid, & protected against extreme weather events... 1/3

Aerial view of the property, with hills in the distance. There's lots of trees, and you can see the external parts of the huge house built into a hill.

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...Hans Coster & his schoolteacher wife Tillie have spent decades re-foresting.

They built a 2-storey house into a hill, covered by earth for temperature control & protection, with huge skylights. The vast amount of glass in the place is next level recycling – it's out of glass partitions discarded after big-city office building renovations...

Here's a 17-minute video from Lis' interview & tour, starting with the Costers explaining why they call it Middle Earth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kqAczIRzqk ...2/3

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..Roller shutters for temperature control protect against fire & other extreme events.

Here's Lis in the vacuum elevator – same concept as pneumatic tubes: Vacuum above creates air pressure beneath the capsule to push it up.

House & car all powered by off-grid solar with nickel-ion batteries. Did you know Edison made batteries like that in 1905 & they're still running?! More on that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdH88wVbl0w

Here's an article Lis wrote, with pics & floor plan: https://lithgowlocalnews.com/middle-earth-kanimbla-valley/

My sister inside the vacuum elevator. It's a clear tube, that looks to be meant for one person.

hildabast, to random
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TIL that the author of Planet of the Apes was also the author of The Bridge On the River Kwai.

Pierre Boulle (1912-1994) was born in Avignon. He was in Malaysia when WW2 started, & joined the French Resistance. Then he spied for the British & was captured.

His war experience was, he said, "the spiritual substance" of his writing.

The Planet of the Apes was inspired by watching the frenetic & seemingly mindless behavior of Stock Exchange brokers... 1/3


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...He said his analysis applied to "other collective manifestations,” like political rallies.

As a member of the Free French, he had been convicted of treason against the Vichy regime. His thoughts on absurdity come through in both The Bridge & Planet stories.

It's beyond ironic that Boulle was awarded an Oscar for the screenplay of Bridge on the River Kwai - even though he didn't write it - because the actual screenwriters had been blacklisted: Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson...


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...2 more of his works have been acquired for film or TV. The Virtues of Hell is a thriller about a veteran of the war in Vietnam with PTSD who uses heroin, & as a former chemist, gets deeply involved in the drug production world. And Planet of the Men is a screenplay he wrote after the success of the first Planet of the Apes movie.


English translation of "les vertus de l'enfer", The Virtues of Hell, in the Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/virtuesofhell0000boul

hildabast, to random
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"When will we get a sterilizing Covid vaccine?" I get this question a lot! Here's my best answer - along with other recent posts:


hildabast, to random
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And then there were 28 .... mucosal Covid vaccines in clinical trials.

As well as a new oral vax entering first-in-human trial in Australia, an aerosol vax from Canada called AeroVax is on its way to phase 2.

Plus there's a new type of vaccine in development in Canada - a next generation of a next generation vax! & the human challenge study consortium has had its first international meeting.

Much more in my next generation vax update @PLOS

hildabast, to Bloomscrolling
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Polygala looking particularly glorious today!

These power on right through winter. 😍

hildabast, to random
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This little girl was born in Tokyo in 1920. Her name was Katsuko Saruhashi.

She would grow up to be a geochemist, an expert on acid rain, and help achieve bans on nuclear testing.

Saruhashi was the first woman elected to the Science Council of Japan… 1/8


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…She said that she became interested in why it rains and how rain falls, when she was watching rain fall on the window at school one day.

After high school, she worked in an office job for a while, but wanted to have a profession to be independent. At first, she wanted to be a doctor, but the medical school interview wasn't encouraging.…


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... In 1939 Saruhashi was one of the first students of the Imperial Women’s Science College.

She graduated in chemistry in 1943, and joined the national Meteorological Observatory. It was led by Yasuo Miyake, who, unusually, did not discriminate on gender…



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…Miyake assigned her polonium to study. Saruhashi was excited, as she was inspired by Curie.

However, she said, "I believed that the goals of science and technology should be the welfare and happiness of humankind... When atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki, I was shocked by the realization that science & technology could be used for such atrocities”…



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… In 1950, Saruhashi pioneered the study of carbon dioxide in sea water, developing a method to measure it.

Data she generated was used until computers arrived. It was called the Saruhashi Table.

In 1957 she gained her PhD - the first woman awarded a science PhD from the University of Tokyo…



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…During the 1950s Saruhashi helped test ashes and seawater for radioactivity after the US nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

She went to the US to prove US measurements weren’t accurate.

Saruhashi was an activist internationally for peace and for bans on nuclear testing.…


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…In the 70s & 80s Saruhashi studied acid rain.

She was also a longtime promoter of women in STEM, forming the Society for Women Scientists in 1958.

When she retired in 1980, she established the Association for the Bright Future of Women Scientists…



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...In 1981 she established the annual Saruhashi Prize, for women scientists under 50. She funded this and the association from a gift she received to honor her on her retirement.

Wikipedia lists 42 recipients of the Saruhashi prize between 1981 and 2022.


Saruhashi won several major awards herself.

She died at home, of pneumonia, aged 87 in 2007.


hildabast, to Bloomscrolling
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The cosmos are blissing out in the sunshine, and the bees are blissing out on them.

hildabast, to Wikipedia
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“[w]e all get it that you write science articles every day. You do that in articles with your name on them. Wikipedia is not like that. [. . .] So for about the bazillionth time—no”

Scientists' desire for credit is crossing the line into self-promotion on Wikipedia.

These authors use an analysis of contested edits of Wikipedia pages on CRISPR, arguing the tension needs to be resolved, perhaps with guidelines:



hildabast, to random
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The reaction to the news about human challenge trials planned for Covid vaccines got me thinking about the risks we take for others:


hildabast, to random
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This is our museum in Rushworth. This spot had a Mechanics' Institute since 1861 during the gold rush. This building is from 1913.

"Mechanic" then meant anyone applying skills & technology. And this British movement provided library & meeting place to encourage "rational recreation."

The museum is crammed with old things, including some great bits of machinery & old tech...


hildabast, to random
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Huge news that could put some intranasal Covid vaccines on the fast track! A global consortium is going to run human challenge trials.

News on this & much more, in my latest next generation Covid vax update (No. 15), now online @PLOS


hildabast, to random
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2 days of intense discussions about preregistering research ... That may not sound riveting, but it really was!

My latest @PLOS is my report on the recent workshop at the Royal Society:


cc @PLOSBiology @pcirr

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