The world examined – Hubble’s law, role models in science and depression

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GEOPOLITICS

Coronavirus continues to disrupt millions

The virus has dominated headlines recently and continues to do so. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel announced that the virus was likely to infect close to two-thirds of the German populace. “The consensus among experts is that 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected,” she said.

Italy has also been on lockdown as it became the country worst affected after China. With the spread of new cases in China clearly slowing, others are saying that more strict measures need to be taken by countries within the West to stop the spread of the virus. What the Chinese did clearly worked and analysts are commending the “harsh” reaction by the Chinese government to compel the populace to self-isolate and only leave the house for essentials.

Now, France, Germany and Spain have well over 1,000 cases each and “hundreds of cases have also been reported elsewhere: Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland each have at least 400 confirmed infections; Denmark and Belgium, which said a first person had died of the virus on Wednesday, have both reported more than 250 cases, and Sweden has more than 350. Even the island nation of Iceland has not escaped, with 81 infections in a population of about 364,000, one of the highest number of cases per capita worldwide.” (nytimes.com)

Further, a leading American scientist, Dr Anthony Fauci, said that the virus “is going to get worse”, also recommending all NBA matches to be barred of fans. The stocks dropped again and the economy has clearly been hit. Brits and Aussies rushing to stockpile a number of items; toilet-rolls, peculiarly, being the most popular.

We urge Jamaat members to pray for the protection of the world and take heed to the advice Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa given to the Jamaat in his Friday Sermon on 6 March 2020. The transcription of what Huzooraa said is available on the alhakam.org website via the following shortened URL: https://bit.ly/2TIGtaE

SOCIAL SCIENCE

Mother’s status improves child’s health

The status of a mother greatly affects the health of their child, according to anthropologists from the University of California. The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “New research by anthropologists at UC Santa Barbara suggests that a woman’s status does pay off, but in the form of better health outcomes for her children.” The researchers studied the Tsimane, in the Bolivian Amazon, and found that “the children of politically influential mothers are less likely to be sick and more likely to be of healthy weight and height for their age.” Men are often seen as fighting for social status and the benefits that go along with it from a fertility perspective. But women may use social status to “be more likely to leverage their status into greater resources in a way that can benefit their existing children” said Sarah Alami, a doctoral student in anthropology at UC Santa Barbara. “We found women’s political influence was correlated with their husbands having more gender-egalitarian views, their husbands thinking, for example, that it’s okay for a woman to have opinions that differ from her husband’s,” Alami said. “And women’s influence was also correlated with their husbands thinking their wives have a say in household decisions such as where to live, when to travel and how to spend household money” said Alami. (phys.org, 11 March 2020)

HEALTH

Microbes and the great outdoors

Ecology researchers from Australia and the UK have come up with the “Lovebug Effect”, that suggests “microbes could theoretically influence us to spend more time in nature while simultaneously improving our immune system to help combat diseases like inflammation and allergies.” One of the researchers, Dr Jake Robinson, explained that “By altering our brain chemistry, microbes may be able to manipulate our behavior to influence the food choices we make or the environments we visit. Part of this process could involve our decisions to spend time in nature, that is, to be immersed in dense clouds of invisible biodiversity and phytochemicals that are potentially beneficial to our health”. (medicalxpress.com, 11 March 2020)

GOOD TO KNOW

Hubble’s Law

Edwin Powell Hubble was an American astronomer who showed groundbreaking astronomical research in the 1920s. Hubble proved that galaxies existed other than the Milky Way, while also discovering that galaxies were moving away from our own; he called this “recession”. To measure the speed of this inter-galactic movement, Edwin Hubble proposed Hubble’s Law of Cosmic Expansion (Hubble’s law) which states:

velocity = H × distance

Velocity is the galaxy’s recessional velocity, H is the parameter that specifies the rate that the universe is expanding and distance is the galaxy’s distance from the one with which it’s being compared. These movements between galaxies can been traced back to the Big Bang itself. The Holy Quran has referred to the expansion of the universe in chapter 51, verse 48.

PSYCHOLOGY

Depression and smartphones

Research by the University of Arizona indicates that young people who are addicted to their smartphones may be at an increased risk of developing loneliness and depression. In a study of 346 youth (ages 18-20), Matthew Lapierre and his wider team discovered that smartphone dependency “predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness, rather than the other way around.” “There’s an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don’t have it accessible, and they’re using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life.” Said Lapierre. The researchers found that depression and loneliness doesn’t lead to increase smartphone use, rather it’s the opposite way. (sciencedaily.com, 30 September 2019)

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