Letter #5 – COVID-19 Test, Cure, and Vaccine

16 minute read

The last letter covered what is a virus, more details on how coronavirus impacts the body, common symptoms and how to slow down the spread. If you have not read the last letter, this should be a good starting point before you get further.

From some time scientists have feared and run simulations on how bad disease like this can be. It has all the elements of making it one of the hardest epidemics to fight against.

  • It’s respiratory which means it can be transferred through respiratory droplets not just when you are in contact with people but even if you are close.
  • The virus can sustain on surfaces for a few hours to days.
  • R the constant that describes how many people does a single infected person infect is anywhere between 2-5 in different conditions.
  • Asymptomatic people can transmit this disease, so people who believe are healthy, feel no health issues or a minor cold are going to spread it. This also makes it difficult to trace.
  • Mortality is high. Currently, while not a final figure the mortality rate lies between 1-4%.
  • Symptoms can take up to two weeks to show and till then the virus has spread to many more people and places.

We discussed the SEIR model and the goal. The first goal is to slow down the spread of this epidemic so that we can buy time to create better test kits, find a cure and in the end find a vaccine.

What individuals can continue to do

Hygiene which includes washing your hands with soap multiple times and use of sanitizer. The virus is basically inside a shell of fat which breaks down when soap is rubbed on it. Soap also makes hands slippery and the motion removes the virus from your hands.
Masks ensure that the virus does not spread from respiratory droplets. This is essential as it covers the face and protests the nose and mouth of the healthy ones, and keeps it from spreading if you have actually caught the virus.  ..... 

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Letter #4 – COVID-19

10 minute read

Read Part 2 – Test Kits, Cures and Vaccines.

The virus that managed to jump from animal to human sometime back in November / December last year, has managed to bring the entire world to a halt in a matter of weeks. There are just so many aspects to look at this spread that it requires a newsletter in itself.

What is a Virus

Walter Reid was one of the first people to discover a virus back in 1901. Viruses are present across the world, in every species and in the air. We take in and throw out thousands of viruses every day. They are like bacteria but so tiny that if bacteria could see, they would also not be able to see them.

Viruses are not living but they have organic matter than can self replicate. A virus is a shell made of protein that contains genetic material either DNA or RNA. The problem is it cannot replicate alone. It needs to infect another living cell to replicate itself. And as is true for all life around, the only thing every genome is looking to do is replicate.

Cell the smallest living unit whose job is to make DNA, manufacture protein and store resources. Once a virus has overtaken a cell, it uses it to create its genetic material and a protein shell, in essence, creating a new virus. Aim of the virus is the infect a cell and get the replication going.  ..... 

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Letter #2

3 minute read

Overton Window

As we start looking for some context to understand the world better, we would need to get a better understanding of how the world works. The understanding of how ideas flow and how they become more mainstream.

Explainer: Overton window describes the stages and flow of ideas. The acceptance of a new idea in the mass public depends on that window. How quickly and if at all will there be acceptance for it.

If you are looking for a quick understanding of it VOX explains it well in this youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v-hzc6blGI

You can read a brief introduction about it on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

If you are looking to get a deeper understanding of it and how it affects the society at large you can read about it in a waitbutwhy post. https://waitbutwhy.com/2019/09/mute-button.html

Bottoms up Programming

While the essay is focused on bottoms-up software development, the same principles can be used for other problem solving as well. http://paulgraham.com/progbot.html

2008 financial crash

The global financial crisis of 2008 was a major financial disaster. Millions across the world lost their homes and their savings. The main driver behind the crisis bad incentives and too much credit risk. tldr; ..... 

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Letter #1

2 minute read

Jack Ma and Elon Musk hold a debate in Shanghai on AI

An interesting conversation between Musk and Jack Ma. The difference in thoughts on AI. You may also notice Elon Musk’s reactions to some of Jack’s answers. And there is the reason why a Musk appeals so much more to a problem solver brain, while a Jack Ma appeals to the wealth creator part of the brain.

Aadhaar information online #Security

A twitter thread by Elliot Alderson on availability of taking you down an online rabbit-hole of finding Aadhaar cards. Currently, it seems finding Aadhaar information online is not hard. A large amount of this information is available on governmental sites with almost no security. But reporting has also helped in closing those public datasets. Read the full thread on twitter.

Sociology: Introduction

To be better at “context”, sociology is a great starting point. The whole course is extremely interesting but even the preview helps explain how the same thing can be looked at from multiple angles. How building a perspective is important, but also explains how and why other perspectives are formed. ..... 

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Introduction #0

3 minute read

In a complicated world, simple explanations don’t work. 

Life in general and intelligence has evolved over millions of years. The universe is a vast place and every passing day we are learning something new about it. A single person during his general lifetime used to interact with a very small percent of the huge amount of information available.

When the internet just came in, it became a place for people to explore a wider variety of ideas, made it easier to access information and that led to information overload. In a complicated world where no single question has a simple answer but rather has just different pieces of information, motivation, and perspective. As the internet grew and the amount of information accessible became too big, the internet evolved in a way to give each one of us our own echo chambers. It again restricted us to interact more with information pieces we already agreed with or were interested in and did little to give us new learnings.

BlueMustard is about trying to build awareness, including self-awareness. This is an initiative to build context. Context has two parts. It has facts and perspectives. A narrative is formed by giving a perspective with the set of facts you choose to focus on. When trying to understand anything new or trying to ponder upon why things are the way they are, the more information you have the better equipped you are.  ..... 

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