Random Walk 27: Francesco Zangari on ComSciCon-GTA (pt 1) + Havana Syndrome?

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Hello and welcome to Random walk episode 27. This week you will be hearing from PhD Candidate and science writer Francesco Zangari. Francesco is finishing his PhD on Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, and recently attended ComSciCon-GTA, a conference on communicating science for researchers local to the Greater Toronto Area. This is another 2-parter, and this week we will be talking a bit about Francesco’s research, competitiveness in science, lab safety with COVID, and social media for communicating science. In part two, we are going to dig more into science writing. 

But before we get into that, I want to say HAPPY END OF SEMESTER EVERYONE. Whether you are a student or not, hopefully you can find some down time in the coming weeks, we certainly all need it. As far as the show goes, this will be our last new episode of 2020, but we will be back in the new year. That means if you want to hear the second half of the interview, you’ll either have to wait. OR you can get your fill by signing up for our Patreon at patreon.com/scican or going to scientificanada.ca . I’ll be posting the full, raw interview there this week, but if you are content to wait, a squeaky clean and polished episode will be ready for you in 2021. 

Also, I’m excited to tell you that Francesco is our second contributing writer on the website! I made a big announcement last week that scientificanada has started accepting articles from contributors, and Francesco already has an article up about learning to write science stories for the news. You can check it out at scientificanada.ca under the articles section. 

Ok! That’ll do for now. Stick around after the interview for our new, experimental segment that I’m still calling Journal Club for now. 

Thanks again to Francesco Zangari for taking the time to come on the show. The rest of the interview will be coming in the new year in the form of a brand new episode. But if you just can’t wait, the full, un-edited interview will be available on our Patreon page for members to have at right away. 

You can read Francesco’s article up on the website now, by going to scientificanada.ca , and if you want to tweet at Francesco directly, you can find him on Twitter @FranTheWriter1 . Now for our experimental new segment that is currently known as “Journal Club” 

——theme music for journal club—– Journal Club

Hi and welcome to journal club, where I tell you about sciency stuff (and sometimes not sciency stuff) that I see in the news or experience or otherwise find out that might be interesting to you! This week, I want to tell you about something that’s being called Havana Syndrome. 

You may have seen in the news that the National Academies of Sciences / Engineering / Medicine issued a report recently about a strange illness observed in US government employees and their families at Overseas Embassies. 

The report says that over the last 4 years or so, US diplomats and their families in Cuba, China, and Russia have experienced extended bouts of symptoms which include hearing sounds, headaches, nausea, hearing loss, lightheadedness, cognitive issues, and even some amount of measurable (but minor) brain damage. The committee of 19 experts have concluded that the most probable cause of these symptoms is… get ready for it… 

High-energy, targeted, pulsed-microwave attacks. 

The report doesn’t point fingers and speculate who is responsible for these attacks, but they feel there is strong evidence to suggest that a strong, pulsed, microwave attack could very well be the cause. These symptoms in humans can be caused by distanced microwave attacks, yet cause no damage to nearby electronics… 

The more I read about this story, the spookier (and more interesting) it gets. I promise you, in the new year, I will have a full episode for you on this. But in the mean time, I will link to a few articles that talk about this strange case, including the physics behind these types of microwave weapons. But until then, I’m Adam, this is Random Walk, and you can get more at scientificanada.ca . See you next time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana_syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/search/research-news/11703/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_auditory_effect

So, that’s it for this week. If you liked the show, you can find more at scientificanada.ca or wherever you find podcasts. Join us on youtube to watch videos of the interviews we have on our show, and please consider supporting us on Patreon.com/scican . And thanks to Boonie for letting me use their music. You can download their EP Not a Care in the World at the website boonie.rocks . Thanks again for listening, and I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for your support!

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