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Covid-19: Crowdsourced virtual supercomputer revs up virus research – The Star Online

WASHINGTON: Gamers, bitcoin miners and companies large and small have teamed up for an unprecedented data-crunching effort that aims to harness idle computing power to accelerate research for a coronavirus treatment.

The project led by computational biologists has effectively created the world's most powerful supercomputer that can handle trillions of calculations needed to understand the structure of the virus.

More than 400,000 users downloaded the application in the past two weeks from Folding@Home, according to director Greg Bowman, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, where the project is based.

The distributed computing effort ties together thousands of devices to create a virtual supercomputer.

The project originally launched at Stanford University 20 years ago was designed to use crowdsourced computing power for simulations to better understand diseases, especially protein folding anomalies that can make pathogens deadly.

The simulations allow us to watch how every atom moves throughout time, Bowman told AFP.

The massive analysis looks for pockets or holes in the virus where a drug can be squeezed in.

Our primary objective is to hunt for binding sites for therapeutics, Bowman said.

Druggable targets

The powerful computing effort can test potential drug therapies, a technique known as computational drug design.

Bowman said he is optimistic about this effort because the team previously found a druggable target in the Ebola virus and because Covid-19 is structurally similar to the SARS virus which has been the subject of many studies.

The best opportunity for the near-term future is if we can find an existing drug that can bind to one of these sites, he said.

If that happens it could be used right away.

This is likely to include drugs like the antimalarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine which may be repurposed for Covid-19.

Bowman said the project has been able to boost its power to some 400 petaflops with each petaflop having a capacity to carry out one quadrillion calculations per second or three times more powerful than the world's top supercomputers.

Other supercomputers are also working in parallel. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory said earlier this month that by using IBM's most powerful supercomputer it had identified 77 potential compounds that could bind to the main spike protein of the coronavirus to disarm the pathogen.

No end to compute power

The Folding@Home project is fueled by crowdsourced computing power from people's desktops, laptops and even PlayStation consoles, as well as more powerful business computers and servers.

There is no end to the compute power than we can use in principle, Bowman said. Large tech firms including Microsoft-owned GitHub are also participating, and the project is in discussions with others.

Anyone with a relatively recent computer can contribute by installing a program which downloads a small amount of data for analysis.

People can choose which disease they wish to work on.

It's like bitcoin mining, but in the service of humanity, said Quentin Rhoads-Herrera of the security firm Critical Start, which has provided its powerful password hash cracker computer designed to decrypt passwords to the project.

Rhoads-Herrera said his team of security researchers, sometimes described as white hat hackers, were encouraging more people to get involved.

Fighting helplessness

Computer chipmaker Nvidia, which makes powerful graphics processors for gaming devices, called on gamers to join the effort as well.

The response has been record-breaking, with tens of thousands of new users joining, said Nvidia spokesman Hector Marinez.

One of the largest contributions comes from a Reddit group of PC enthusiasts and gamers which has some 24,000 members participating.

It is a fantastic weapon against the feeling of helplessness, said Pedro Valadas, a lawyer in Portugal who heads the Reddit community and is a part of the project's advisory board.

The fact that anyone, at home, with a computer, can play a role and help fight against (disease) for the common good is a powerful statement, Valadas told AFP. AFP

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Coronavirus And Folding@Home; More On How Your Computer Helps Medical Research – Hackaday

On Wednesday morning we asked the Hackaday community to donate their extra computer cycles for Coronavirus research. On Thursday morning the number of people contributing to Team Hackaday had doubled, and on Friday it had doubled again. Thank you for putting those computers to work in pursuit of drug therapies for COVID-19.

Im writing today for two reasons, we want to keep up this trend, and also answer some of the most common questions out there. Folding@Home (FAH) is an initiative that simulates proteins associated with several diseases, searching for indicators that will help medical researchers identify treatments. These are complex problems and your efforts right now are incredibly important to finding treatments faster. FAH loads the research pipeline, generating a data set that researchers can then follow in every step of the process, from identifying which chemical compounds may be effective and how to deliver them, to testing they hypothesis and moving toward human trials.

First, heres the rundown on how easy it is to set your computer up to help with Folding@Homes Coronavirus effort:

Okay, lets answer some questions! First up, does this actually make a difference?

The Folding@Home project started back in 2000. Much has been accomplished over the course of the past 20 years and I encourage you to go and read the lengthy Examples of application in biomedical research section of the Wikipedia page which takes an in-depth look at the impacts.

The effort has identified drug therapies for Alzheimers and Huntingtons diseases, its been used in drug design for combating HIV and influenza (both are viral), and is used to study how cancer mutates. Now we have the chance to apply that to the COVID-19 virus. On an explain-it-like-Im-five level, scientists are trying to simulate every possible combination of protein folding patterns, looking for locations that would let medicine grab hold and do some good.

Its a huge challenge, similar to trying every combination on a padlock, but this lock takes a mind-bogglingly large number of combinations. Research scientists highlight where the most likely solutions lie, then use the mind-bogglingly huge power of the Folding@Home network and sets to work running the simulations. How powerful is the FAH network? Wikipedia lists it at 470 petaFLOPS as of early March 2020 which means 416 quadrillion floating point operations per second. Thats 416 million billion math problems solved every second!

But heres the best part of all of this, the project is non-profit and makes the data freely available to other researchers upon request.

No, but you dont need to since the group is already prioritizing the coronavirus effort. Although the software does offer the option to work on a specific area of research, COVID-19 is not specifically listed. That is likely because this pandemic is fast moving and its not worth trying to push a new version of the software just to add this setting. For now, leave this on the default of Any and your computer will work on COVID-19 whenever there are Work Units (WU) available.

You can use the built-in web interface found at http://localhost:7396/ to see what problem your computer is currently working on. Here you can see the Learn more screen from currently running instance. This week I have only seen one time that my computer was working on a different project.

The FAH servers dish out those WUs as fast as they can, but right now the network is growing as more people add their computers to the network. When all of the staged WUs run out, your computer will be idle until more become available. This has nothing to do with you, project maintainers are working to keep this buffer full.

Im not an expert but I believe the answer is that this research seeks to identify pharmaceutical treatments and a better understanding of how the protiens in the virus work. This is not necessarily in pursuit of a vaccine.

This is still incredibly important, it means that researchers are looking for drugs that can be used to treat patients who have the virus. Right now, COVID-19 is really good at evading our bodys natural defenses our immune system. If drug therapies are discovered that weaken the virus, it may lead to our immune system having a foothold to fight the infection.

We need both a vaccine and drug therapies consider the example of the seasonal flu where we have vaccines to protect people from infection and antiviral drugs to treat at-risk populations who have been infected. Research into both should be, and is, running in parallel.

This effort is gamified, so join your fellow hackers on Team Hackaday by using team #44851 when you configure your Folding@Home software. When we first published, we had 21 active team members, by Friday afternoon there were 737. Can we make that 7000 by the end of the week?

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Crowdsourced supercomputing project sets sights on coronavirus – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

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Folding@home targets COVID-19, number of volunteer folders skyrockets

Shown is the first look at the Folding@home project's simulations of the COVID-19 spike protein. The three colors represent components of the spike protein; this is the protein that the novel coronavirus uses to infect cells. The site where the protein binds to human cells, to infect them, is on the top of the protein. Using Folding@home, the researchers are aiming to develop an accurate picture of what happens during infection. Understanding these details could help reveal ways to block the virus from infecting cells.

People around the world are isolating themselves to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But there is another way those confined to their homes but connected online can join the fight against the novel coronavirus. Among the research programs racing to develop therapies and vaccines for this new pandemic virus is one of the largest crowdsourced supercomputing projects in the world.

Led by computational biophysicist Greg Bowman, PhD, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the project is called Folding@home. It relies on the collective power of volunteers home computers to perform the complex calculations required to simulate protein dynamics.

Volunteers from all over the world can install a software program that runs those calculations when a computer otherwise would sit idle. Often motivated by personal experience with various diseases, the participants get to select an area of contribution, such as boosting cancer research, preventing Alzheimers disease or now fighting the novel coronavirus.

For example, Bowman and his team are trying to understand the structure of COVID-19s spike protein, which is what the virus uses to infect cells. Such research could reveal ways to block the protein and, consequently, infection. Since announcing in late February the projects new focus on coronavirus, the number of Folding@home volunteers has skyrocketed, with some 400,000 new folders joining the effort, Bowman said.

The response so far has been overwhelming and wonderful, but there is always more useful science to be done, he said. Understanding all the various shapes that the spike protein can take on as its molecules bounce and shift can lead to the development of new drugs that can block it, stopping the virus from infecting more cells. We are continuing to scale up our research as fast as we can.

Bowman has shared what could be thought of as a first glimpse of the moving COVID-19 spike protein. It consists of three different proteins that fit together like a 3D puzzle. The simulation reveals a pocket that helps the virus bind to human cells and infect them.

In the spirit of open science and the rapid sharing of new knowledge about COVID-19, Bowman said the research team will publish findings on free and open-access preprint sites, such as bioRxiv.

To join the effort and put your computer to work against coronavirus, visit

Washington University School of Medicines 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Childrens hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Childrens hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

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Thousands of These Computers Were Mining Cryptocurrency. Now They’re Working on Coronavirus Research – CoinDesk – Coindesk

CoreWeave, the largest U.S. miner on the Ethereum blockchain, is redirecting the processing power of 6,000 specialized computer chips toward research to find a therapy for the coronavirus.

These graphics processing units (GPUs) will be pointed toward Stanford University's Folding@home, a long-standing research effort that unveiled a project on Feb. 27 specifically to boost coronavirus research by way of a unique approach to developing pharmaceutical drugs: connecting thousands of computers from around the world to form a distributed supercomputer for disease research.

CoreWeave co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Brian Venturo said the project has at least a shot at finding a drug for the virus. As such, CoreWeave has responded by doubling the power of the entire network with its GPUs, which are designed to handle repetitive calculations.

According to Venturo, those 6,000 GPUs made up about 0.2 percent of Ethereum's total hashrate, earning roughly 28 ETH per day, worth about $3,600 at press time.

There is no cure for the coronavirus just yet (though various groups are working on vaccines and research to combat the disease, including IBM's supercomputer). Venturo noted that Folding@home has been used to contribute to breakthroughs in the creation of other important drugs.

"Their research had profound impacts on the development of front-line HIV defense drugs, and we are hoping our [computing power] will aid in the fight against coronavirus," Venturo said.

The coronavirus is taking a toll across the world. Italy and Spain are on lockdown. Conferences, stores and restaurants are closing to stem the spread of the disease; by stoking fears, it's slamming the financial markets in the process.

World computer

When the idea of using GPUs for coronavirus research was mentioned to CoreWeave, the team didn't think twice.

They had a test system up and running "within minutes," Venturo said. Since then, the project quickly snowballed. CoreWeave has been contributing over half of the overall computing power going into the coronavirus wing of Folding@home.

"The idea of 'should we do this?' was never really brought up, it kind of just happened. We were all enthusiastic that we might be able to help," Venturo added.

Folding@home is a decentralized project in the same vein as Bitcoin. Instead of one research firm alone using a massive computer to do research, Folding@home uses the computing power of anyone who wants to participate from around the world even if it's just a single laptop with a little unused computing power to spare.

In this case, the computing power is used to find helpful information relating to the coronavirus. Much like in bitcoin mining, one user might detect a "solution" to the problem at hand, distributing this information to the rest of the group.

"Their protein simulations attempt to find potential 'pockets' where existing [U.S. federal agency Food and Drug Administration (FDA)] approved drugs or other known compounds could help inhibit or treat the virus," Venturo said.

Viruses have proteins "that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. To help tackle coronavirus, we want to understand how these viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them," a Folding@home blog post explains.

Simulating these proteins and then looking at them from different angles helps scientists to understand them better, with the potential of finding an antidote. Computers accelerate this process by shuffling through the variations very quickly.

"Our specialty is in using computer simulations to understand proteins moving parts. Watching how the atoms in a protein move relative to one another is important because it captures valuable information that is inaccessible by any other means," the post reads.

Long shot

Folding@home could use even more power. Venturo urges other GPU miners to join the cause.

Even without these calls for participation, though, miners of other cryptocurrencies are already independently taking action. founder Johann Tanzer put out a call to action to Tezos bakers (that blockchains equivalent of miners) last week, promising to send the leading contributor to Folding@home a modest 15 XTZ, worth roughly $20 at press time.

The initiative blew up, to Tanzer's surprise. Though they might not be contributing as much power as CoreWeave, 20 groups of Tezos miners are now contributing a slice of their hashing power to the cause. Tanzer's pot has swelled to roughly $600 as Tezos users caught wind of the effort and donated.

But that's not to say all miners can participate. While GPUs are flexible, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), a type of chip designed specifically for mining, aren't, according to Venturo. Though ASICs are more powerful than GPUs, they're really only made for one thing: To mine cryptocurrency. This is one advantage Venturo thinks Ethereum has over Bitcoin, since GPU mining still works on the former, whereas the latter is now dominated by ASICs.

"This is one of the great things about the Ethereum mining ecosystem, it's basically the largest GPU compute resource on the planet. We were able to redeploy our hardware to help fight a global pandemic in minutes," Venturo said. (However, it's worth noting that Ethereum has seen ASICs enter the fray. Not to mention, ether miners might soon go extinct when a pivotal upgrade makes its way into the network.)

ASICs are useless for the Folding@Home effort, but if bitcoin miners have old GPUs lying around from the early days that they could contribute, too.

Even if other miners join up, though, it's still a long shot that the effort will lead to a helpful drug.

"After discussing with some industry experts [...] we believe the chance of success in utilizing the work done on Folding@Home to deliver a drug to market to be in the 2-5% range," Venturo said.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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How Ethereum Mining Rigs Can Help Battle the Coronavirus – Live Bitcoin News

Several cryptocurrency mining projects particularly those devoted to extracting new Ethereum tokens have been pulled away from their mining duties and been made to turn their attention towards coronavirus research.

The coronavirus was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). As many as 245,000 people have been infected with the virus at the time of writing, while more than 11,000 deaths across the globe have been recorded.

Recently, world leaders such as President Donald Trump in the United States have declared a national emergency, while the governors of both California and New York have issued stay at home orders, asking that residents stay within their domiciles and limit their outdoor activities with others to stop the virus spread.

At this time, it seems like people need all the help they can get, and research regarding how to combat the virus is at an all-time high, but how, exactly, can crypto mining rigs help to get this done?

Its not so much that they help with the research aspect, but what they do have is high computational power enough so that the computers and devices conducting or holding present research can stay operational and functional during these stressing times, and its here where the mining rigs can serve great purpose.

Among the major companies working to better understand the problems and symptoms associated with the growing respiratory virus is Stanford Universitys Folding @home, which helps to develop therapeutic drugs. As recently as last month, the company was devoting much of its time, energy and resources towards establishing drugs and products designed to combat HIV, but now, it has shifted focus to work on coronavirus research.

One of the main things that Folding @home does is sort through protein structures of products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Proteins, depending on how theyre built, can lessen a disease or even fully treat it, and the venture is looking to see which proteins are available that could potentially bring the virus to its knees.

In a statement, the company explains:

Proteins have lots of moving parts, so we really want to see the protein in action. The structures we cant see experimentally may be the key to discovering a new therapeutic.

Right now, Folding @home and several other drug-related companies are getting their power from sources such as Core Weave, which is one of the largest Ethereum mining projects in the rural United States. At press time, Core Weave is dedicating mountains of computational power to these companies to assist in their time spend performing appropriate research.

The mining venture stated:

Core Weave is proud to support this effort with over 6,000 of our high-end GPUs.

As many as 20 separate companies are presently working on a coronavirus vaccine.

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Creative Technology dedicates the processing power capacity of its media servers to scientific research to fight covid-19 disease. –

UK Creative Technology (CT) UK is home to hundreds of media servers, each with the latest in GPUs and processors. Ordinarily, these servers are key to delivering live events for clients, but following the outbreak of COVID-19 throughout Europe and beyond, and the related reduction in live events, CT has found itself in a position to get really creative with the technology. Fighting back against Coronavirus in the best way known, and this comes in the form of the Folding@Home project run by Stanford University.

CT London has set up a server farm, doing all it can to support this worthwhile project.

Researchers from all over the world can now use the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) capacity of the media servers to draw, calculate and analyse complex formulas and graphics in the global fight against COVID-19.

Folding@Home is a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics. These scientific COVID-19 projects focus on better understanding how these Coronaviruses interact with the human ACE2 receptor required for viral entry into human host cells, and how researchers might be able to interfere with them through the design of new therapeutic antibodies or small molecules that might disrupt their interaction. There is hope to take advantage of some of the new structural biology and biochemical data that is being rapidly released by researchers around the world who are working to understand these viruses and strategies for defeating them.

Since joining the Folding at Home Project, CT announces that several other NEP Group companies have also got on-board: Screenworks, Univate, and Bexel to name just a few.

Creative Technology Group is urging all companies in the audiovisual sector to join this project by making their processing power also available for scientific purposes. Researchers are especially in need of more high-spec GPUs to help, and all the GPU projects are devoted to potential drug targets for COVID-19 right now.

Help to fight COVID-19 by joining this worldwide distributed supercomputer. Please use the Creative Technology group number 240907 to contribute your capacity to its team. You can help by downloading the Folding@Home client to your computer and following the instructions to install it.

CT cant make ventilators, but it CAN fight COVID-19!

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Journaling during the pandemic, for yourself and the historians – The Boston Globe

As people across the country are told to work from home and practice social distancing, historians recommend a simple practice to fend off boredom and contribute to the history books: daily journaling.

Written accounts of events, especially during times of turmoil, have proven crucial to historians as they seek to grasp a full picture of a time period. And during the current pandemic, physical documentation from ordinary people is as important as ever.

As historians, we rely on those daily reports to figure out what actually happened on the ground, said Victoria Cain, an associate professor of history at Northeastern University. It really offers us insight into how society and culture worked at a time of tragedy, or crisis, or just chaos.

Personal journals helped capture the struggles and horrors of history. The Great Plague of London was documented by Daniel Defoe, drawing on his own childhood memories, his uncles journal, and extensive research. And generations have learned of the horrors of World War ll through the experiences of Anne Frank.

However, in the age of social media, virtual writing has taken precedence over pen and paper. Photographs, e-mails, and text messages may document the essence of an era, but their longevity could be limited.

Digital media and technology is amazing in many ways, but it also has a lot of problems, said Dan Cohen, the dean of libraries at Northeastern University, whose extensive documentation of firsthand accounts following the Sept. 11 attacks is in the Library of Congress. A physical diary, if you stick it in your attic, youll likely be able to read that in a century or two. That really doesnt happen with digital media.

In some instances, the physical documentation can tell a story itself. While Cain was completing her doctoral dissertation years ago, she recalls analyzing the diary of a naturalist who was sent to France during World War l. As she was reading, she began to cry.

You can see his handwriting, and hes scared hes going to die, she said. Theres teardrops on the page, and the ink is running. I remember being in the archives I started crying, and Ill never forget that experience.

Cain and Cohen stressed the benefits that not only for historians but also for the writers; the act of putting pen to paper has been found to bring certain therapeutic benefits.

It helps to contextualize [the event] and put it into a longer time horizon, Cohen said. That can kind of help to lower the blood pressure a little bit.

I think it just helps us slow down and reflect a little bit about what extraordinary times these are, Cain said.

Caeli Chesin, a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, described her experience with journaling during the pandemic as cathartic.

As much as we are locked in and nervous, I think there is a lot of potential to use the time to connect with loved ones, slow down, reflect, and create, she said. The most effective way to keep me on that track and not get too slumped down is by journaling.

If people decide to take up the hobby, families can read their relatives accounts of what life was like for generations to come, which can be a profoundly moving experience, Cain said. By keeping it physical rather than virtual, the authors can rest easy knowing their memories wont be lost because of a forgotten password, and, in Cohens experience, an obsolete floppy disk.

[Journals] remind us of our common humanity across time and space, and that's something that we will always need as human beings, Cain said. As historians and scholars certainly, but as citizens and people, it's really important to have a glimpse of the human mind and the human heart. Diaries give us this.

Matt Berg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.

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COVID-19: Lockdown envelopes film and entertainment sphere – United News of Bangladesh

The ongoing COVID-19, recently announced by WHO as a global pandemic around the whole world, has been causing a global shutdown in several sectors including media and entertainment even the most famous event on the annual film festival calendar, at Cannes, has been postponed. The entertainment and film industry of Bangladesh is no different.

All activities of Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (FDC) have been paused due to the virus fear, although a rally was held from FDC on Saturday by the Bangladesh Film Artistes Association and attended by its president Misha Saudagar, General Secretary Zayed Khan, actor Dipjol, Ilias Kanchan and more. They distributed masks and requested fans to be aware and avoid panicking about the Coronavirus.

Amid the fear of the COVID-19, the government in Bangladesh has recently shut down many institutional activities after the confirmation of local transmission and death cases of coronavirus cases to prevent the virus from spreading, and cinema halls all over the country are currently going into lockdown mode from March 18 to April 2 due to the pandemic, according to Bangladesh Film Producers-Distributors Association President Khorshed Alam Khosru.

While asked about the ongoing crisis and possibilities of a nationwide shutting down of the cinema halls, Khosru told UNB that the association has decided to close all the halls until April 2.

As the virus passes from human to human in close proximity, people inside crowded arena such as cinema halls are at a higher risk to be contaminated with the virus - so we decided not to continue the shows in any of the halls including the cineplexes from March 18 to April 2, Khosru told UNB.

If the crisis continues, the longevity of the decision can get extended until the situation gets normal he further added.

However, countrys top cinema multiplexes including Blockbuster Cinemas at Jamuna Future Park and all branches of Star Cineplex (Bashundhara City, Shimanto Shambhar and SKS Tower) have postponed their activities since March 20; two days after the declaration came out from the association and health authorities.

Regarding the movies being showcased prior to the ban, Shakib Khans movie Shahenshah was the only one significant release that came out on March 6, and was running at over hundred halls before the closing.

As of now, movie lovers and hall owners are counting days for Shakibs upcoming movie Bidrohi and Nabab LLB, Arifin Shuvoo starring action extravaganza Mission Extreme, Siam Ahmed starring action film SHAAN, Ananta Jalils Bangladesh-Iran joint venture Deen - The Day, Tollywood star Dev starring Bangladeshi spy thriller film Commando, to name a few for the Eid-Ul-Fitr releases which they expect to make up for the loss in the meantime, due to the Coronavirus only if the uncertain situation get normal within the time.

Actors and actresses at home and abroad had already taken necessary steps to warn their admirers about the virus, either with the news about their own isolation or promoting safety measures via social media. Dhallywood stars including Shakib Khan, Siam Ahmed, Arifin Shuvoo, Riaz Ahamed and Bollywoods megastars including Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and more have either posted video messages or status posts, requesting fans to be aware and safe from COVID-19.

At the same time several production houses, actors, directors and producers in Bangladesh and India have opened joint fundraising platforms online, for the production crews who might suffer devastating financial loss due to the lockdown.

Coming back to the theatre sphere of Bangladesh, all activities including shows, rehearsals and others have been suspended by the Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation from March 17 to 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Besides, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) has also suspended activities on all of their theatres and auditoriums till March 31.

On last Thursday, representatives of Actors Equity, Directors Guild, Television Programme Producers Association of Bangladesh and others met information minister Hasan Mahmud, discussed the circumstances and decided to postponed shootings of small screen productions including Television commercials (TVC), drama serials and others from March 22 to 31.

Every one involved in the entertainment and media sphere at home and abroad are eagerly waiting to see the damage of COVID-19 minimised and for the world to come out of the grip of the pandemic.

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No, not everything about mens sexual behaviour can be explained by testosterone –

We place unreasonable trust in biological explanations of male behaviour. Nowhere is this truer than with testosterone. Contemporary pundits invoke the hormone nicknamed T to prove points about maleness and masculinity, to show how different men and women are, and to explain why some men presumably those with more T have greater libidos. Yet, despite the mythic properties popularly associated with T, in every rigorous scientific study to date there is no significant correlation in healthy men between levels of T and sexual desire.

Beginning in the 1990s and really picking up steam in the 2000s, sales of testosterone replacement therapies went from practically zero to over $5 billion annually in 2018. This was either because there was a sudden outbreak of Low T when a major medical epidemic was finally recognised, or because T became marketed as a wonder drug for men thrown into a panic when they learned that their T levels declined 1% annually after they hit 30.

The answer is not that mens bodies changed or that Low T was horribly underdiagnosed before but that, in the minds of many, T became nothing short of a magic male molecule that could cure men of declining energy and sexual desire as they aged.

Whats more, many have been taught that, if you want to know what causes some men to be aggressive, you just test their T levels, right? Actually, wrong: the science doesnt support this conclusion either. Some of the famous early studies linking T and aggression were conducted on prison populations and were used effectively to prove that higher levels of T were found in some men read: darker-skinned men which explained why they were more violent, which explained why they had to be imprisoned in disproportionate numbers. The methodological flaws in these studies took decades to unravel, and new rigorous research showing little relation between T and aggression, except at very high or very low levels, is just now reaching the general public.

Whats more, it turns out that T is not just one thing a sex hormone with one purpose male reproduction. T is also essential in the development of embryos, muscles, female as well as male brains, and red blood cells. Depending on a range of biological, environmental and social factors, its influence is varied or negligible.

Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in California, compiled a table showing that there were only 24 scientific articles on T and aggression 1970-80, but there were more than 1,000 in the decade of the 2010s. New discoveries about aggression and T? No, actually, although there were new findings in this period showing the importance of T in promoting ovulation. There is also a difference between correlation and cause. T levels and aggression, for example, provide a classic chicken-egg challenge. As leading experts on hormones have shown us for years, for the vast majority of men, its impossible to predict who will be aggressive based on their T level, just as if you find an aggressive man or woman, for that matter you cant predict their T level.

Testosterone is a molecule that was mislabelled almost 100 years ago as a sex hormone, because scientists were looking for definitive biological differences between men and women, and T was supposed to unlock the mysteries of innate masculinity. T is important for mens brains, biceps and that other word for testicles, and it is essential to female bodies. And, for the record, (T level) size doesnt necessarily mean anything: sometimes, the mere presence of T is more important than the quantity of the hormone. Sort of like starting a car, you just need fuel, whether its two gallons or 200. T doesnt always create differences between men and women, or between men. To top it all off, there is even evidence that men who report changes after taking T supplements are just as likely reporting placebo effects as anything else.

Still, we continue to imbue T with supernatural powers. In 2018, a United States Supreme Court seat hung in the balance. The issues at the confirmation hearings came to focus on male sexual violence against women. Thorough description and analysis were needed. Writers pro and con casually dropped in the T-word to describe, denounce or defend the past behaviour of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. One commentator in Forbes wrote about testosterone-induced gang rapes. Another interviewed on CNN asked, But were talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high. Tell me, what boy hasnt done this in high school? Yet another column in The New York Times read, Thats him riding a wave of testosterone and booze

And it is unlikely that many readers questioned the hormonal logic of Christine Lagarde, then chair of the International Monetary Fund, when she asserted that the economic collapse in 2008 was due in part to too many males in charge of the financial sector: I honestly think that there should never be too much testosterone in one room.

You can find T employed as a biomarker to explain, and sometimes excuse, male behaviour in articles and speeches every day. Poetic licence, one might say. Just a punchy way to talk about leaving males in charge. Yet when we raise T as significant in any way to explain male behaviour, we can inadvertently excuse male behaviour as somehow beyond the ability of actual men to control. Casual appeals to biological masculinity imply that patriarchal relationships are rooted in nature.

When we normalise the idea that T runs through all high-school boys, and that this explains why rape occurs, we have crossed from euphemism to offering men impunity to sexually assault women by offering them the defence not guilty, by reason of hormones.

Invoking mens biology to explain their behaviour too often ends up absolving their actions. When we bandy about terms such as T or Y chromosomes, it helps to spread the idea that men are controlled by their bodies. Thinking that hormones and genes can explain why boys will be boys lets men off the hook for all manner of sins. If you believe that T says something meaningful about how men act and think, youre fooling yourself. Men behave the way they do because culture allows it, not because biology requires it.

No one could seriously argue that biology is solely responsible for determining what it means to be a man. But words such as testosterone and Y chromosomes slip into our descriptions of mens activities, as if they explain more than they actually do. T doesnt govern mens aggression and sexuality. And its a shame we dont hear as much about the research showing that higher levels of T in men just as easily correlate with generosity as with aggression. But generosity is less a stereotypically male virtue, and this would spoil the story about mens inherent aggressiveness, especially manly mens aggressiveness. And this has a profound impact on what men and women think about mens natural inclinations.

We need to keep talking about toxic masculinity and the patriarchy. Theyre real and theyre pernicious. And we also need new ways of talking about men, maleness and masculinity that get us out of the trap of thinking that mens biology is their destiny. As it turns out, when we sift through the placebo effects and biobabble, T is not a magic male molecule at all but rather as the researchers Rebecca Jordan-Young and Katrina Karkazis argue in their book Testosterone a social molecule.

Regardless of what you call it, testosterone is too often used as an excuse for letting men off the hook and justifying male privilege.

This article first appeared on Aeon.

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Coronavirus: 14-hour Janta curfew will not break the cycle of infection – Deccan Herald

On March 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a29-minute addressto take precautionary measures including observing a Janta Curfew on March 22 from 7 AM to 9 PM to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in India.

Since then, several social media users have posted a text claiming that the coronavirus has a life cycle of 12 hours and a 14-hour curfew will help to break the chain and curb the further spread of the virus. This text is viral inEnglish,Hindi,andTelugualong with the hashtag #JantaCurfew.

The viral message has been shared onTwitter,Facebookand WhatsApp.


Also Read:What can you do to kill time during 'Janta Curfew'?


A viral infection can be transmitted from one individual to another in multiple ways.

1) Direct: From one individual to another individual either via means of touch, or if the infected individual coughs or sneezes in close vicinity of another person.2) Indirect: When an infected individual touches a surface, and another individual touches the same surface.

In the course of this article, we will demonstrate that a 14-hour self-imposed curfew will not break the cycle of infection as the coronavirus persists 2-3 days later on surfaces. However, social lockdown is an effective strategy for reducing new infections that flattens the curve.

Also Read:Janta Curfew: Stay at home call may deepen slowdown in Indian economy

Infected individual can pass the infection for upto two weeks

The novel CoV infection has a high incubation rate. The scientists at Imperial College, UKestimatethat each coronavirus patient infects on average 2.6 others, making it almost as infectious as yearly influenza outbreaks. While the common influenza virus has a short incubation period and is self-resolving, the 2019-nCoV can be incubated for up to two weeks, hence increasing its chances to infect other people. So, someone who is infected with CoV would be able to pass it on to someone else till upto two weeks, even if the former isnt yet displaying any symptoms.

Coronavirus can be detected on surface for upto 3 days

Alt News Science recently published anelaborate fact-checkregarding how long can coronavirus live on various surfaces. Research(Doremalen et al 2020)published in the New England Journal of Medicine conducted by American scientists (preprint here) suggests that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for as long as 2-3 days. They tested the virus by spraying into the air by a nebuliser mimicking the coughing action of an infected person. They found that it could be detected up to a minimum of 3 hours later in the air, up to 4 hours on copper surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.

The longevity of the virus was determined by studying the decay time or half-life of the virus, which is the time it takes for it to reduce in 50% tissue-culture infectious dose (TCID50) per litre of air. It was determined that the virus stayed on cardboard, stainless steel and plastic for the longest period, in comparison to copper and aerosol droplets.

On average, the half-life of the virus on plastic surface was the highest, with an average of 15.9 hours (high 19.2 hours), copper was lower 3.4 hours (high 5.11 hours), and stainless steel was 13.1 hours (high 16.1 hours). No research was conducted on fabric at all.

For latest updates on coronavirus outbreak, click here

The study also suggests that the virus can spread through the air, from touching things that were contaminated by those who are infected, and through direct human contact. The virus was formerly known as HCoV-19, but is referred to as SARS-CoV2 in this study as the comparison of longevity was in comparison with the virus found in the previous coronavirus outbreaks, known as SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV1 in the study quoted above.

Thus, an individual infected with coronavirus can pass on the infection to another person for upto 14 days. Also, the coronavirus could be detected up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces. The results from this study indicate that the coronavirus can be transmitted through aerosols (clusters of the virus in the air) aerosol and fomites (objects such as plastic, steel, other metals contaminated with the virus) are plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days. Hence, a 14 hour self-imposed curfew cannot break the cycle of infection as it is being claimed on social media. Despite the fact that the curfew will not break the cycle of infection as the Coronavirus still persists 2-3 days later on surfaces, the social lockdown is an effective strategy for reducing new infections that flattens the curve

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Coronavirus: 14-hour Janta curfew will not break the cycle of infection - Deccan Herald

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