Katherine J. Wu
Katherine J. Wu
Staff writer @TheAtlantic, covering science. also senior producer @storycollider, senior editor @Open_Notebook; formerly @nytimes. pro prokaryote. she/herSource
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You Are Going to Get COVID Again … And Again … And Again

You Are Going to Get COVID Again … And Again … And Again

Two and a half years and into this pandemic, SARS-CoV-2’s visit has clearly turned into a permanent stay. Experts knew from early on that, for almost everyone, infection with this coronavirus would be inevitable. As James Hamblin memorably put it back in February 2020, “.” By this point, in fact, most Americans have. But now, as wave after wave continues to pummel the globe, a grimmer reality is playing out. You’re not just likely to get the coronavirus. You’re likely to get it again and again and again.“I personally know several individuals who have had COVID in almost every wave,” says...

May 27
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What Actually Changed for Little Kids’ Vaccines?

What Actually Changed for Little Kids’ Vaccines?

After months and months of being told to wait, then wait, then wait some more, parents eager to vaccinate their littlest kids against COVID-19 have been gifted some good and very confusing news. Yesterday, after weeks of weird and cryptic waffling, Pfizer kick-started the process of requesting an emergency use authorization from the FDA for their infant-and-toddler COVID-19 vaccine; if the agency’s advisory-panel meeting, scheduled for the 15th, goes smoothly, the under-5 shots could be available as a two-dose series shortly thereafter, pending a CDC recommendation. The most optimistic...

Feb 2
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What J&J Can Still Teach Us

What J&J Can Still Teach Us

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, perhaps more than any other COVID shot, knows what it is to be bullied by the American public. Since the spring, the shot’s been roasted, and roasted, and roasted again—first for its late arrival and its imperfect performance in trials, then for a rare but concerning side effect that temporarily halted its distribution in April. Tweets, memes, and listicles dragged it. SNL skewered it. CVS pharmacies stopped offering it. Then, in October, federal officials urged everyone on Team J&J to get another shot—any shot (but also, maybe try Moderna this...

Dec 1
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How Female Frogs Tune Out Useless, Noisy Males

How Female Frogs Tune Out Useless, Noisy Males

Before frat parties, there were frog ponds.Literal breeding grounds for some of the world’s noisiest bachelors, these lusty pools are where amphibians gather to woo mates. And as any frog researcher will tell you, they’re “super, super, super loud,” says Valentina Caorsi, a bioacoustician at the University of Trento in Italy.Some spots host hundreds of males from a dozen species, each belting out serenades that can register at —. Sounds this intense ; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends limiting exposure to such cacophony to . When scientists visit these...

March 4, 2021
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Scientists see signs of lasting immunity to COVID-19, even after mild infections

Scientists see signs of lasting immunity to COVID-19, even after mild infections

To the immune system, not all germs are equally memorable. But our body’s cells seem to be seriously studying up on the coronavirus. Scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the virus are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of COVID-19, a flurry of new studies suggests. Disease-fighting antibodies, as well as immune cells called B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved — an encouraging echo of the body’s enduring response...

August 17, 2020
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The flu may linger in the air, just like the coronavirus

The flu may linger in the air, just like the coronavirus

The coronavirus is not the flu. But the two viruses have something crucial in common: Both have been described as spreading primarily through close contact with symptomatic people or the surfaces they’ve touched. Mounting evidence may be starting to turn the tide on that message. Last week, the World Health Organization modified its stance on coronavirus transmission, acknowledging that the virus may also hop from person to person by lingering in the air, trapped inside tiny aerosols that can traverse the length of room. Advertisement A wealth of evidence has shown the same is true of flu...

July 14, 2020
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Painted Bronze Age Monkeys Hint at the Interconnectedness of the Ancient World

Painted Bronze Age Monkeys Hint at the Interconnectedness of the Ancient World

As far as archaeologists know, Asian monkeys weren’t trotting the globe during the Bronze Age. That’s why a millennia-old Greek painting of a gray langur—a primate native to the Indian subcontinent—was surprising enough to stop researchers dead in their tracks.Archaeologists and primatologists re-analyzing wall paintings found in Akrotiri, a Minoan settlement on Thera (modern-day Santorini) buried by volcanic ash around 1600 B.C., have uncovered evidence that Bronze Age Greek artists knew of—and may have even seen—monkeys whose native habitat was thousands of miles away. Their findings,...

December 16, 2019
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Why Mosquitoes Find Your Warm Blood So Appealing

Why Mosquitoes Find Your Warm Blood So Appealing

“The smell [of feet] really attracts them,” says the Brandeis University biologist, who wraps his hosiery in a ring around the insects’ blood-filled feeding discs. “When you go outside, they go straight toward your ankles.”Wild mosquitoes may harbor a seemingly insatiable thirst for blood, but their lab-grown counterparts—taken out of their natural habitats and penned in teeny, artificially lit chambers—sometimes struggle to rustle up an appetite. To keep the bugs at fighting weight, Laursen and his colleagues ply them with a suite of sensory cues, intended to mimic what they’d come across...

February 11, 2020
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This NASA Website Shows What the Hubble Telescope Saw on Your Birthday

This NASA Website Shows What the Hubble Telescope Saw on Your Birthday

A few weeks ago, NASA the debut of a new feature on its website that would share with viewers a breathtaking image taken by the telescope on their birthdays. Because Hubble has only been in commission for three decades, the date won’t necessarily match a person’s birth year, but the site will still spit out a stunning snapshot from the right month and date, reported earlier this month.Because Hubble has been in continuous operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since 1990, each date is inevitably linked to some extraordinary snippet of the cosmos. And NASA personnel have clearly...

April 23, 2020
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Gorgeous New Map of the Moon Is Most Detailed to Date

Gorgeous New Map of the Moon Is Most Detailed to Date

Called the , the map combines Apollo-era data from the 1960s and 1970s with modern satellite observations to yield a dizzying catalog of geological features, including topology and the ages and chemical nature of the rocks that speckle the lunar surface.“This map is a culmination of a decades-long project,” Corey Fortezzo, USGS geologist and lead author on this work, says in a . “It provides vital information for new scientific studies by connecting the exploration of specific sites on the moon with the rest of the lunar surface.”Scientifically speaking, the map could help guide future...

April 27, 2020
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