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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 28 2020, @11:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the clearing-the-air dept.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/01/27/coronavirus

As the world knows, we face an emerging virus threat in the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The problem is, right now there are several important things that we don't know about the situation. The mortality rate, the ease of human-human transmission, the rate of mutation of the virus (and how many strains we might be dealing with – all of these need more clarity. Unfortunately, we've already gone past the MERS outbreak in severity (which until now was the most recent new coronavirus to make the jump into humans). If we're fortunate, though, we'll still have something that will be worrisome, but not as bad as (say) the usual flu numbers (many people don't realize that influenza kills tens of thousands of people in the US each year). The worst case, though, is something like 1918, and we really, really don't need that.

[Ed note: The linked story is by Derek Lowe who writes a "commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry". He is perhaps best known for his "Things I Won't Work With" blog entries which are as hilarious as they are... eye opening. I have found him to be a no-nonsense writer who "tells things as they are", holding no punches. The whole story is worth reading as he clearly explains what a coronavirus is, about the current one that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China, what could be done about it, how long that would likely take, and what can be done for those who have already been infected. --martyb]

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:02AM (5 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:02AM (#950328) Journal

    The linked story is by Derek Lowe who writes a "commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry". He is perhaps best known for his "Things I Won't Work With" blog entries which are as hilarious as they are... eye opening. I have found him to be a no-nonsense writer who "tells things as they are", holding no punches.

    His right to not be willing to work with some sorts of things, but it turns out some compounds he doesn't want to work with are accessible to (literally) "shed synthesis" for determined-enough humans that lived to tell the tale.

    Example: Azidoazides azides [sciencemag.org] - shed synthesis [youtube.com] and demo [youtube.com].

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snotnose on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:37AM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:37AM (#950390)

    I'm an embedded software engineer, not a chemist. Found Things I won't Work With maybe 5-10 years ago, and have made his blog a daily destination ever since. Once or twice a week he has something I find interesting, plus as others have said the guy is a helluva writer.

    --
    I fondly remember the day I made sandcastles with my grandmother. Just wish I hadn't done it in the crematorium.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:00AM (#950424)

      I'm an embedded software engineer, not a chemist.

      See also appeal to non-authorities [wikipedia.org].
      The "tells things as they are" part may not be such a clear cut verdict when it comes from a S/N editor/submitter. Taking Derek's or anyone's choices as "the things that are" means one may never discover an actual value or less dangerous paths in things he deemed useless or too dangerous.

      Granted, internalizing the cautionary messages on his writings is a thing that may make all the difference in regards with the life and limb of the daredevils who wander in dangerous territories.

      Once or twice a week he has something I find interesting, plus as others have said the guy is a helluva writer.

      The above being said, nothing wrong in enjoying his style and picking whatever information one finds useful.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (#950491)

    but it turns out some compounds he doesn't want to work with are accessible to (literally) "shed synthesis" for determined-enough humans that lived to tell the tale.

    Unless the laws of physics are different for sheds, everything Mr. Lowe is not willing to work with are accessible to shed synthesis. The shed might not be around afterward, but it's quite feasible to do suicidal chemistry out of your shed.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:45AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:45AM (#950494) Journal
      Sorry, accidentally logged out. The above post was mine.
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:09AM

      by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:09AM (#950527) Journal

      Unless the laws of physics are different for sheds, everything Mr. Lowe is not willing to work with are accessible to shed synthesis.

      Theoretically, you are right.

      Practically, it may hinge on what one is willing to include in the definition of "shed" - e.g if you include "availability of pressure [sciencemag.org] in 10+GPa range [nature.com]" and/or "controlled fluid speeds in continuous flow reactions [sciencemag.org]" and/or "appropriate conditions to settle matters of honor [sciencemag.org]" in the definition of "shed", you may end with out-of-this-world meanings for the word.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0