Buddhism – Science – Museum Dream 02-06-2012

I am in a white building with a high ceiling. It is a place of learning perhaps a museum. Over to one side I see a young dark-haired man. He is wearing a pink polo shirt as am I. I start to speak to him of Buddhism in the West. This piques his interest. I say that more Tulkus are incarnating here. This piques his interest even more. He says that a part of his research is regarding Buddhism. His job at the museum is to do with this. It is also to do with the relationship between science and religion. He takes me back behind the scenes in the museum. As we walk, I tell him that I am an ex-science academic from Imperial College. This piques his interest even more. I comment that is it not a coincidence that we are similarly dressed in pink polo shirts? His eyes start to show some blue in them, a subtle glow.

We walk into his offices just as his female supervisor is leaving. I am not sure if I should shake hands with her or not. She walks past in any case.

Next, I am wandering around the museum, in the areas where people, the public, do not go. I come across a young woman who has her face painted in vibrant colours. The painting is of things like feathers arranged in a circle around her left eye. It is stunning. We walk off together.

Soon I am standing on a lawn. It is in a dip with a ridge around it about 5-10 metres away.  There are some colonnades. On the ridge are some people including the young man and the painted woman.

I am talking to them about the spread of Buddhism to the West. I am walking as I talk. The people are all staff at the museum. A dark-haired Russian girl who is of some considerable intellectual prowess tells the others to listen to what I am saying, it is right.

Behind me two men, one with white hair, are walking along the path. They hear what I am saying but because they know me from a science context they cannot “accept” it. It is a non sequitur to them.

Dream ends.

Science Does Not Know What 95% Of the Universe Is

From the Dark Energy Survey:

“Ordinary matter makes up only about 5% of the universe. Dark energy, which cosmologists hypothesize drives the accelerating expansion of the universe by counteracting the force of gravity, accounts for about 70%. The last 25% is dark matter, whose gravitational influence binds galaxies together. Both dark matter and dark energy remain invisible and mysterious, but DES seeks to illuminate their natures by studying how the competition between them shapes the large-scale structure of the universe over cosmic time.”

This morning I have been delving into a few of the papers on Arχiv released by the Dark Energy Survey. It is a truly staggering amount of work of a highly complex nature. They are using the phenomenon of gravitational lensing to estimate the amount and clustering of dark matter. Here is a Hubble image of dark matter distribution. It is a simulation based on a model.

Dark energy causes the universe to continue to expand and helps prevent the big crunch. We are in a day of Brahma where the universe is manifesting and not in a night when it has fallen back into pralaya. Unless I am mistaken science does not know what dark energy or dark matter are. It can infer that they are there according to our current models of the universe.

Modern science has an internally consistent view of how the universe came into being but not why, for what purpose.

Toltec “cosmology” suggests that the universe is one big experiment in which the spirit, Nagal {analogous to Brahma?} wanted to learn about itself. It was sitting there in the void, started to stir, perhaps a little bored and then decided using the “force” of intent to separate the known from the unknown and thereby matter from out of the primeval void.

{Quantum physics allows particles to be created and annihilated via ladder operators.}

The flow of creation is time, space, energy, matter, in this “cosmology”. Where matter is clustered energy. E = mc squared and all that. The direction of time is macroscopically one way thanks to entropy.

Toltecs maintain that the entire universe is pervaded by this “thing” called intent and it is this which drives. There is universal intent and more personal intent, and this lies aback all action.

If I have understood it correctly the “evidence” for dark energy and dark matter mounts. Which means I guess that science is getting more certain of their existence but still is largely clueless as to their nature. “It”, “they” exist but we don’t know what “it”, “they” are.

Is this suggesting at some time in the future a paradigmatic overhaul? Or with some elastic and a few extra “factors” can the current models be extended.

If dark energy “clusters” into dark matter, we shall then get the big crunch.

Brahma can put on his pyjamas and have a snooze.

Are dark matter and dark energy debris from a previous manifestation of a universe, one in which the laws of “physics” were different?

EFRA Committe Submission 2007 – Yesterday’s Solution.

This is a blast from the past…check out the references to PM10 , PM2.5 and Ultrafines…way back in 2007.

Executive Summary

Municipal Solid Waste-Energy from Waste Incinerators are an outdated technology that acts in direct opposition to the basic intent of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants because, they generate these. Alternative technologies such as plasma gasification now exist and the technology cycle for the development of these is now approaching maturity, perhaps providing a safer more local and hence lower transport burden solution. The in-situ monitoring of waste treatment and its pollution lags behind the technological need. Implementation is nearly always retrospective and stimulated by external legislation. This situation represents a commercial opportunity for the UK to provide a lead.  Should central government invest in research into, the development and commercialisation of high quality monitoring technology, then a business opportunity exists. Rather than looking to European technology providers central government could learn from the novel treatment methods currently being developed in the USA and Japan, by commissioning full scale plasma gasification plants. The lessons learned here would enable the UK to compete as a supplier in the international market place for waste management technologies rather than being a consumer.

The current climate represents an opportunity for the UK to provide a lead through, for once, legislating ahead of the EU. In the learning process of this it could create a long term commercial advantage.

Yesterday’s Solution

1.0 Background

In response to Buckinghamshire County Council’s waste strategy consultation a local campaign group was formed; the Aylesbury Chilterns Resistance to Incinerator Development (ACRID). A grouping of local individuals came together to raise local awareness of the implication of municipal solid waste-energy from waste incinerators (MSF-EfWI) and the citing of such a reactor in the beautiful Aylesbury Vale. Local people revisited the published literature on EfW and EfWI in particular. This submission is as a result of this research and addresses items 1, 2 and 9 of the Terms of Reference for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee examination of the DEFRA Waste Strategy for England document May 2007.

The author, Dr Alan Taylor is a former Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Imperial College and a founder of the high technology laser company Powerlase Ltd.

This submission is written on behalf of ACRID in his capacity as head of technology investigations for the ACRID committee and does not represent the views of either Imperial College or Powerlase ltd.

The committee’s attention is drawn to the following quotations:

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. [1]

Article 1


“Mindful of the precautionary approach set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Convention is to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants.”

Baseline Scenarios for the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme.

Final Report (2005) [2]

“New Studies show that exposure to small particles (below a diameter of 2.5mm, PM2.5) is associated with substantially increased mortality, especially from cardio-vascular and cardio-pulmonary diseases. Present levels of PM2.5 in Europe are now estimated to reduce the statistical life expectancy in European population by approximately nine months, comparable to the impacts of traffic accidents. Thus, these newly identified impacts of fine particles by far exceed those identified earlier for ozone.”

2.0 Context

This document looks at one aspect of  the Waste Strategy for England, namely the use of municipal solid waste incinerators for energy recovery. Further it suggests that alternative and better technological solutions are already available and that, at last, high quality monitoring technology is becoming available and in a sane world needs to be implemented. Further, the need for the management of waste will continue and represents a commercial opportunity for the UK, should it choose to develop new technological solutions for in-situ monitoring of waste processing and waste management methodologies. As things stand the provision of large scale waste treatment plants is by non UK corporations who have a vested interest in supplying their own (out dated) solutions, thereby driving the waste management agenda in a direction that is favourable to their own commercial needs.

3.0 Background

We cannot simply keep burying our own waste and hoping it will go away, nor can we sacrifice valuable resources bolstering up the immediacy of our convenience culture; new ways of being are required.  In the limit of this, there can no longer be any waste. From a philosophical stand point any waste mitigation strategy that actively prolongs the production of waste, by assuaging the public consciousness; “Look we are reclaiming the energy from your waste so that we can all collude in its further production;” is bankrupt and at best mitigating and disingenuous.

World wide there has been great effort exerted into looking at solutions, with research in a great many countries highly active; looking at ways of improving waste management, environmental and health impacts. Anyone who expresses an opinion that all the parameters of MSW-EfWI are known, is making an assertion that is not based in fact. Quite simply the data set on the emission characteristics, process development and ecological impact, is incomplete. Further, governments do not get together to draw up legislation, specifically global legislation, unless there is a need.

Lest we forget, legislation is drawn up not to provide a safe limit for pollution, rather to lessen the impact through legislative limitation [3]. It is not a guarantee of safety, whether of not people choose to “spin” that it is; is rather, a matter of business expediency. Historically, the United Kingdom has always dragged its feet in respect to the implementation of such legislation either for incineration [3] or landfill [4], favouring short term business profitability over responsible world citizenship. Nevertheless, EU legislation is legally binding on partner states and more is on its way [5]. Retrospective implementation in order to comply with incoming and stricter air quality standards will have financial implications for those selecting out-dated technological solutions for the purposes of short term political gain. 

MSW-EfWI, a now ageing technology, always produces a spectrum of organic chemicals that are not present in the waste that is their feedstock; in addition it produces fine particulate matter. Thus these are man made or anthropogenic sources, which add to the local and global ecosystems and, damage them. MSW incinerators generically have a chequered history.

4.0 Legislative and Inter-Governmental Documentation

There are both European Union [4] and UK governmental directives [6] to reduce the usage of land fill, these are to be enforced by the introduction of land fill taxes. It is safe to say therefore there is international consensus that landfill is a bad idea. Therefore any process that adds to a landfill burden is suspect. MSW-EfWI still needs landfill.

The UK is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) essentially requiring it to cease production of these.

Because of the nature of the Chemistry of MSW-EfWI (discussed below) plants it is a simple fact that they produce poly-chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and various other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A great many of these are known to have highly toxic effects, some of which are long term and hence difficult to detect. As long ago as 1995 the US agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) published a detailed toxicology [7] for PAHs and in 1998 for Dioxins [8].  These documents began to establish a toxicological framework for ongoing discussions in these areas.  For comparison purposes they established a series of toxic equivalencies (TEQs) based on 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-p-dioxin which is the most widely studied congener. It is very easy to get caught up in the detail of looking at which compound has which TEQ and in doing so forgetting that one is talking about toxic equivalency, the language is explicit. This document [8] is the basis of many subsequent discussions and in the opinion of the author could benefit form revision and updating, it extrapolates from data and makes many generalisations the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) agrees that it is based upon assumption and yet is has become “gospel”.

Incineration produces POPs.

Within the island context of the UK, the government has drawn up, through the Department for the Environment  Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) a waste management strategy document [9] in deed offering a position statement that incinerators are safe [10]. A close examination of this demonstrates that it glosses over the safety implications of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) incineration. Presumably these position statements are based on a health report by Enviros Consulting (a part of the Mc Alpine Group). It is not surprising that third parties question the impartiality of such a report, given the links to the construction industry. This extensive document [11] published in 2004 discusses many aspects and in places also notes that the quality of the available data set is poor. The Royal Society review of this document is not entirely complimentary.

The DEFRA air quality guidelines [12, 13] (more recently published July 2007) is in a number of ways in conflict with the prior waste management document. This document cross references the World Health Organisation Guidelines [14, 15] and refers to the European initiatives mentioned earlier. It extends discussions into the realms of the environmental impact of particulate emissions, acknowledging the enhanced mortality such emissions engender.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) establishes that particulate matter PM10s, PM2.5s and ultra-fines (cause disease and enhance early death, there is evidence of growth defects and reduced IQs) [14, 15].There is world wide research effort into the impact of PM2.5s covering chemical nature, source identification and distribution patterns of same. The ultra-fines contain particles that are nano-metre in scale. The whole field of nano-toxicology is emergent and under-developed [17, 18, 19] as such represents the unknown.

What is clear is that this is a matter of ongoing research, worldwide.

5.0 The availability of information and governmental strategy.

Since the advent of the World Wide Web, we live in an age where information is, in principle, more widely available.  As such governments and large corporations are ever more careful in what they publish. In effect this negates any real dialogue; DEFRA itself in its own strategy document outlines the need to “handle” public perceptions. Protest organisations, at least in Western countries are free to publish whatever they wish. This proliferation (or deliberate non-proliferation) of information has lead to a situation where there is an acceleration of bytes (some of them sound) about the “facts”, and where consciousness is manipulated to fulfil other objectives. Not all the information published on the web is well researched and factual.

There are even conferences aimed at overcoming the negative perceptions of Energy from Waste [16]. This, under the guise of true consultative approach seems a little out of place. In effect unless one has access to recent research articles via a university library the general public is left to rely upon information provided {research articles cost as much as £30 each} as and when the government chooses, a rather strange implementation of the nanny-state in overdrive.  Further the detailed technical papers published by governmental organisation are written in such a manner as to obfuscate and cause loss of “will to live” in the reader, more specifically the lay reader. Jargon is as ever the coat of the chameleon seeking to hide half truths.

6.0 What is MSW incineration and hence EfW(I)?

In their simplest form incinerators are large ovens where waste is burned in an oxygenated environment. The chemical reaction between waste and oxygen is exothermic (produces heat) that can be used to heat water to drive turbines.  The feedstock for such incinerators is very mixed (heterogeneous) in nature, with varying calorific value. The waste contains organic matter and what chemist terms organic chemicals. These organic (carbon based) materials when completely oxidised make CO2 and H2O, incomplete oxidation creates CO. Unfortunately the reaction chemistry is not quite that simple, in that as a product of combustion various ashes are produced.

These ashes still need landfill and because of the concentration of toxic materials that results from these processes this ash needs to be treated as hazardous waste, requiring separate landfill or further treatment. Incineration produces POPs that were simply not there in the first place. Amongst these POPs, the PCDD/Fs are known to be highly toxic acting inter alia as carcinogens (they cause cancer) [8] and even gene switches. Because they are large aromatic molecules they are not water soluble, they localise in fats or lipids. They are subject to bio-accumulation (they get more concentrated in living things) and bio-magnification (when animals eat others with high concentration their own chemical concentration goes up, this can include humans). They are chemically quite stable and long lived. Governmental doctrine assuages public opinion by presenting statistics comparing the very locally produced pollution to overall national averages, in so doing denying any possible affect of localised clustering.

The track record of incineration is poor, the large scale production of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzo-furans (PCDD/Fs) was determined only in retrospect and reactor design has since improved to reduce flue gas emissions of same [20, 21, 22]. Some key factors have been identified and at certain temperatures the 300-450 °C these compounds are more easily made [23]. Very high temperatures are therefore needed to effectively reduce the content of these. They, POPs, are always produced. If process temperature is increased they are removed form the exhaust gases but concentrate in the resultant ashes. The presence of chlorine is needed [23] to make PCDDs, and all MSW has this and the content will depend upon the feedstock.

Because of new legislation emission limits on PM10s have been set and this has caused incinerator operators to put in place more rigorous filtering regimes. However this does not catch the PM2.5s and ultra-fines. A recent study [24] has shown that the particle size distribution depends on process temperature, with higher temperatures producing particles that range in size from a few nanometres to a few microns. The peaks in the particle distributions occur at ~40nm and ~2 microns. As a rule of thumb the smaller the particle the more likely it is that it is transported further and absorbed into our body.

These toxic chemicals and particles enter our body through three main pathways, we breathe them in, we eat or drink them and they are absorbed through our skin. The whole area of particulate emissions and their affects remains very much a hot topic [25-31], yet consensus remains that they cause morbidity and mortality.

7.0 Monitoring

The data set on true emission characteristics of MSW incinerators, Energy from Waste (EfW) incinerators being a sub set of these, are not readily available. In fact there is consensus that this is incomplete.  There has been progress in developing new on line monitoring capabilities [24, 32, 33, 34].  This is still research. In the absence of stack top monitoring and chemical assay of incinerator ashes, any quoted values are at best projections and at worst guesses. Surely, it is a simple requisite that such monitoring must be in place.

The quantification of human body burdens is limited in live beings and is only ever a snapshot at a given time, because living organisms absorb things and then after a time change them or pass them from the body.  Measurements of in vivo body burdens for humans is perhaps limited to blood sampling from live volunteers[35], the fat soluble PCDD/Fs/PAHs are found in assay, presumably from the lipids in cell membranes only. The author is not aware of any current methodology to measure particulate body burdens. Post mortem studies may yet provide an evidence base, by their very nature concentrations are static upon death and exposure histories can only (currently) be gained from indirect sources and via extrapolations.

Some indirect methods of monitoring are however proving helpful in clarifying long term exposure patterns. Researchers have recently looked at the possibility of micro-evolution due to toxic stress [36], bio-monitoring with lichens [37], genotoxicity with Tradescantia micronuclei [38] and uptake in peregrine falcon eggs [39]. Direct transferability of these to the human condition also remains somewhat of an extrapolation, though the long term natures of these bio-markers are proving insightful.

Governmental safety assurances are based on retrospective epidemiological studies from a number of localities for example [40-44] and are assumed to be directly and globally transferable.  Little acknowledgement is made of differing climatic conditions between sites and the absence of such studies in the UK, is very noteworthy.

Risk analysis[45,46] is based on average body exposures / loadings and putative emission characteristics quoted in comparison to mass burdens using the TEQ scale mentioned earlier and the whole  area is still generating research[45,46], whilst acknowledging uncertainty in the toxico-kinetic and toxico-dynamic models [47,48,49].What is safe to say is that the area is very much one of research and may lead to the development of a new area of human pathological endeavour in years to come, when the long term exposures effect in the population at large.

8.0 Technology Choice

Weber et al[50], discuss at length the concept of POP destruction technology in line with the intent of the Stockholm convention suggesting that PCB(Poly-chlorinated biphenyl) destruction facilities operating at 1100º C with residence times in excess of 2 seconds. Plasma gasification technologies operate in this domain rather than at the temperatures that synthesise POPs. They are used to treat POP rich waste from other sources.  Like all developing technologies there is a time lag between conception and inception; see for example [51, 52]

In a fast changing world it is interesting that there is so much emphasis(in the UK) on incineration, particularly so when facilities to produces fuel gases from waste are already operational around the world, for example the plasma gasification plant at Utashinai in Japan.  Secondary gas combustion is much easier to control (being of a homogeneous nature) and the high temperature processes do not create POPs; in fact such methods are used to treat incinerator waste prior to landfill. The technology cycle has now advanced. Perhaps it is time for the UK to look to the USA and Japan for guidance on how to handle waste for the future.  Arguments can be made about the volume handling of such gasification plants in comparison to MSW-EfWI, however might it not also reduce the transport burden if smaller more local facilities were built to handle local waste?

There is much development in the area of gasification (including plasmas) as evidenced by a recent conference [53], perhaps agreeing with the title of the document that incinerators are… Yesterday’s Solution. 

 Appendix 1 References

1) http://www.pops.int/documents/convtext/convtext_en.pdf

2) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/cafe/general/pdf/cafe_lot1.pdf

3) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32000L0076:EN:HTML

4) http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31999L0031:EN:HTML

5) http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/1447&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

6) http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/topics/landfill-dir/pdf/landfilldir.pdf

7) http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp69.pdf

8) http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp104.pdf

9) http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/strategy/strategy07/pdf/waste07-strategy.pdf

10) http://www.hpa.org.uk/chemicals/ippc/incineration_posn_statement.pdf

11) http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/research/health/pdf/health-report.pdf

12) http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/strategy/pdf/air-qualitystrategy-vol1.pdf


14) http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2006/WHO_SDE_PHE_OEH_06.02_eng.pdf

15) http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E90038.pdf

16) http://www.energywaste.co.uk/Workshop.asp?m_pid=9889&m_nid=9923

17)  Ji et al., Inhalation Toxicology, 19, ( 2007), 745-751.

18)  Warheit et al…, Inhalation Toxicology, 19, (2007), 631-643.

19) Handy et al., Health, Risk and Society, 9, (2007) 125-144.

20) Liuzzo et al., Waste Management, 27, (2007) 106-116.

21) Geysen et al., Journal of Hazardous Materials, B126, (2006), 27-38.

22) Streibel et al., Chemosphere, 67, (2007) S155-S163

23) Takasuga et al., Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. , 53, (2007), 8-21.

24)  Maguhn et al., Environ. Sci. Technol., 37, (2003), 4671-4770.

25) Grahame et al., Inhalation Toxicology, 19, ( 2007), 457-481.

26) Grahame et al., Inhalation Toxicology, 19, (2007), 727-744

27) Freitas et al., Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physical Research B, 219-220, ( 2004) 153-156.

28) Schlesinger, Inhalation Toxicology, 19, (2007), 811-832.

29) Pongkiatul et al., Atmospheric Research, 85, ( 2007), 3-17.

30) Aboh et al. , X-ray Spectrometry, 36, ( 2007) 104-110.

31) Reff et al.,  Atmospheric Environment, 41, (2007), 4584-4598

32) Clarkson et al.,  Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 377, (2003) 39-47

33) Deguchi et al., Measure..Sci.Technol., 13, (2002), R103-R115.

34)  Binnig et al., Aerosol Science, 38, (2007), 325-332.

35) Reis et al., Chemosphere, 67, (2007) S224-S230.

36) Medina et al., Chemosphere, 67, (2007), 2105-2114

37) Augusto et al., Int. J. Environ. Health  210, ( 2007) 433-438.

38) Misik et al. , Environmental Pollution, 145, (2007), 459-466.

39) Malish et al.,  Chemosphere, 67, (2007), S1-S15.

40) Morselli et al.  Waste Management, 27, (2007), S85-S91

41) Abad et al., Chemosphere, 67, (2007), 1709-1714.

42) Grosso et al., Chemosphere, 67, (2007), S118-S124

43) Yu et al., Atmospheric Environment, 40, (2006), 96-108.

44) Schuhmacher et al., Environment International, 32, ( 2006), 397-404.

45) Paustenbach et al., Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 44, ( 2006), 249-261.

46) Nieuwenhuijsen et al., Environment International, 32, (2006), 996-1009.

47) Heinzl et al.  , Chemosphere 67, (2007) S365-S374.

48) Kerger et al., Chemosphere 67, (2007), S272-S278.

49) Charnley et al, Food and Chemical Toxicology, 44, ( 2006), 601-615.

50) Weber, Chemoshpere, 67, (2007) S109-S117.

51) Camacho, World Patent WO 97/08494

52) Raymond,  Canadian Patent CA 2339 457

53) http://www.gasification.org/

Rainy Saturday and SARS-CoV Binding.

It is raining on and off here this afternoon, so I have been delving a little into the SARS literature. Below is a model highlighting {I think} where the spike glycoprotein is changed in the various variants. The ACE2 is the human lung receptor{brown spirally thing}, the three variants on the top right-hand side change close to where the virus protein binds to the human lung at the receptor binding domain {RBD}.

Below is the near molecular detail of how SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 bind to the receptor {the green spirally thing}. The mechanism between the two viruses looks quite different with what looks like hydrogen bonding in the more recent virus.

How strong these bonds are along with the ease of conformational change will affect the virus binding {and release} rate constants. It must bind to replicate and must release at some stage in order to spread via coughing etc..

I wondered has anybody tried making a compound that preferentially binds to the ACE2 site in competition to the virus. Seems like a strategy for treating the disease. Add a high concentration of the ACE2 site blocker and outcompete the virus. If only a few hydrogen bonds enable the virus to bind it might be possible to design an antagonist molecule that is not toxic.


Pharma and Pandemic

Covid : Moderna devrait gagner 19 milliards de dollars avec son vaccin cette année

La biotech américaine table désormais sur des revenus de 19,2 milliards de dollars contre 18,4 milliards annoncés précédemment grâce à son vaccin ARN.


Pfizer forecasts $26bn from annual sales of Covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine will generate 73% more than forecast based on contracts signed until mid-April

The US drugmaker Pfizer has smashed its sales forecasts and now expects to bring in $26bn (£19bn) of revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine this year, with its soaraway product accounting for more than a third of the company’s annual income.

The company had expected the vaccine to bring in $15bn over the course of 2021, and the 73% increase in expected revenues to $26bn is still likely to be an underestimate as it counts only orders received by the middle of April and Pfizer is expected to sign more multibillion dollar supply contracts.


EN DIRECT – Covid : pour BioNTech, suspendre les brevets n’aura pas d’incidence sur la production mondiale

Le laboratoire allemand estime que la protection intellectuelle n’est pas un facteur limitant la production et l’approvisionnement de son vaccin développé avec l’américain Pfizer. Dans le sillage des Etats-Unis, l’Europe et la Russie ont ouvert la porte à une suspension des brevets.


‘Ill-judged’ bonus hike for AstraZeneca boss prompts investor anger

Advisory groups ask shareholders to oppose bid to raise Pascal Soriot’s maximum share bonus to 650% of £1.3m basic pay.

AstraZeneca is facing mounting opposition over its plans to award its chief executive, Pascal Soriot, a big increase in bonuses, with three investor advisory groups calling on shareholders to vote against the policy.

Pirc, Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) have all flagged concerns over moves to raise the maximum share bonus Soriot can receive under a long-term plan from 550% of his £1.3m base salary to 650%. AZ also plans to hoist Soriot’s maximum annual bonus to 250% of salary from 200%, depending on performance targets being hit.


EU ‘ready to discuss’ COVID vaccine patent waiver as drugmakers push back.

The European Union is willing to discuss a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday, as drugmakers fought their ground as their share prices tumbled.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday voiced support for a waiver in a sharp reversal of the U.S. position, and his top trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, swiftly backed negotiations at the World Trade Organization.


Drugmakers say Biden misguided over vaccine patent waiver

Drugmakers on Thursday said U.S. President Joe Biden’s support for waiving patents of COVID-19 vaccines could disrupt a fragile supply chain and that rich countries should instead share more generously with the developing world.

Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, angering research-based pharmaceutical companies.


Gilead raises 2020 profit forecast on remdesivir strength

Gilead Sciences raised its full-year profit forecast on Monday, as a recent resurgence in Covid-19 cases boosted demand for its Covid-19 treatment, remdesivir.

The level of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. is starting to rise again, amidst the slow rollout of vaccine. Experts say the country should expect another surge in mid-January due to holiday gatherings.

The antiviral, currently authorized to treat Covid-19 patients across the world, was one of the drugs used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection.

Gilead said it was raising its total product sales forecast to the range of $24.30 billion to $24.35 billion, reflecting increased sales of remdesivir.

Knowledge – Etymology

Excerpted from Etymonline.


early 12c., cnawlece “acknowledgment of a superior, honor, worship;” for first element see know (v.). The second element is obscure, perhaps from Scandinavian and cognate with the –lock “action, process,” found in wedlock.

From late 14c. as “capacity for knowing, understanding; familiarity;” also “fact or condition of knowing, awareness of a fact;” also “news, notice, information; learning; organized body of facts or teachings.” Sense of “sexual intercourse” is from c. 1400. Middle English also had a verb form, knoulechen “acknowledge” (c. 1200), later “find out about; recognize,” and “to have sexual intercourse with” (c. 1300); compare acknowledge.

Know (v.)

Old English cnawan (class VII strong verb; past tense cneow, past participle cnawen), “perceive a thing to be identical with another,” also “be able to distinguish” generally (tocnawan); “perceive or understand as a fact or truth” (opposed to believe); “know how (to do something),” from Proto-Germanic *knew- (source also of Old High German bi-chnaan, ir-chnaan “to know”), from PIE root *gno– “to know.”

For pronunciation, see kn-. Once widespread in Germanic, the verb is now retained there only in English, where it has widespread application, covering meanings that require two or more verbs in other languages (such as German wissen, kennen, erkennen and in part können; French connaître “perceive, understand, recognize,” savoir “have a knowledge of, know how;” Latin scire “to understand, perceive,” cognoscere “get to know, recognize;” Old Church Slavonic znaja, vemi). The Anglo-Saxons also used two distinct words for this, the other being witan (see wit (v.)).

From c. 1200 as “to experience, live through.” Meaning “to have sexual intercourse with,” also found in other modern languages, is attested from c. 1200, from the Old Testament (Genesis iv.1). Attested from 1540s in colloquial phrases suggesting cunning or savvy (but often in the negative); to not know one’s ass from one’s elbow is from 1930.

As far as (one) knows “to the best of (one’s) knowledge” is late 14c. Expression God knows is from c. 1400. To know too much (to be allowed to live, escape, etc.) is from 1872. To know better “to have learned from experience” is from 1704.

You know as a parenthetical filler is from 1712, but it has roots in 14c. You know as a euphemism for a thing or situation unmentionable is from 1867; you-know-who for a person it is thought best not to name (but implying the hearer knows) is from 1840.

As an expression of surprise, what do you know attested by 1914. Don’t I know it in the opposite sense (“you need not tell me”) is from 1874. You never know as a response to something unexpected is attested from 1924.

know (n.)

“inside information,” 1883, in in the know, from know (v.) Earlier it meant “knowledge, fact of knowing” (1590s).


Excerpted from Wikipédia

La science (du latin scientia, « connaissance ») est l’ensemble des connaissances et des travaux au caractère universel ayant pour objet l’étude de faits et de relations vérifiables, selon une méthode caractérisée par l’observation, l’expérience, les hypothèses et la déduction. On la divise communément en différents domaines (ou disciplines) qualifiés de sciences (au pluriel).

La communauté scientifique, garante de la mise à jour du contenu des sciences, veut produire des « connaissances scientifiques » à partir de méthodes d’investigation rigoureuses, vérifiables et reproductibles. Quant aux « méthodes scientifiques » et aux « valeurs scientifiques », elles sont à la fois la conséquence et l’outil à l’origine de ces connaissances et ont pour but de comprendre et d’expliquer le monde et ses phénomènes de la manière la plus élémentaire possible — c’est-à-dire de produire des connaissances se rapprochant le plus possible des faits observables.

Non dogmatique, la science est ouverte à la critique et les connaissances scientifiques, ainsi que les méthodes, sont toujours ouvertes à la révision. De plus, les sciences ont pour but de comprendre les phénomènes et d’en tirer des prévisions justes et des applications fonctionnelles ; leurs résultats sont sans cesse confrontés à la réalité. Ces connaissances sont à la base de nombreux développements techniques ayant de forts impacts sur la société.


La science (latin scientia, « connaissance ») est « ce que l’on sait pour l’avoir appris, ce que l’on tient pour vrai au sens large, l’ensemble de connaissances, d’études d’une valeur universelle, caractérisées par un objet (domaine) et une méthode déterminée, et fondés sur des relations objectives vérifiables [sens restreint] »

Dans un passage du Banquet, Platon distingue la droite opinion (orthos logos) de la science ou de la connaissance (Épistémé). Synonyme de l’épistémé en Grèce antique, c’est selon les Définitions du pseudo-Platon, une « Conception de l’âme que le discours ne peut ébranler ».

Un terme générique de la connaissance

Définition large

Le mot science est un polysème, recouvrant principalement trois sens :

  • Savoir, connaissance de certaines choses qui servent à la conduite de la vie ou à celle des affaires.
  • Ensemble des connaissances acquises par l’étude ou la pratique.
  • Hiérarchisation, organisation et synthèse des connaissances au travers de principes généraux (théories, lois, etc.).

Définition stricte

D’après Michel Blay, la science est « la connaissance claire et certaine de quelque chose, fondée soit sur des principes évidents et des démonstrations, soit sur des raisonnements expérimentaux, ou encore sur l’analyse des sociétés et des faits humains ».

Cette définition permet de distinguer les trois types de science :

  1. les sciences exactes, comprenant les mathématiques et les « sciences mathématisées » comme la physique théorique ;
  2. les sciences physico-chimiques et expérimentales (sciences de la nature et de la matière, biologie, médecine) ;
  3. les sciences humaines, qui concernent l’être humain, son histoire, son comportement, la langue, le social, le psychologique, le politique.

Néanmoins, leurs limites sont floues ; en d’autres termes il n’existe pas de catégorisation systématique des types de science, ce qui constitue par ailleurs l’un des questionnements de l’épistémologie. Dominique Pestre explique ainsi que « ce que nous mettons sous le vocable « science » n’est en rien un objet circonscrit et stable dans le temps qu’il s’agirait de simplement décrire »

Étymologie : de la « connaissance » à la « recherche »

L’étymologie de « science » vient du latin, « scientia » (« connaissance »), lui-même du verbe « scire » (« savoir ») qui désigne à l’origine la faculté mentale propre à la connaissance. Ce sens se retrouve par exemple dans l’expression de François Rabelais : « Science sans conscience n’est que ruine de l’âme ». Il s’agissait ainsi d’une notion philosophique (la connaissance pure, au sens de « savoir »), qui devint ensuite une notion religieuse, sous l’influence du christianisme. La « docte science » concernait alors la connaissance des canons religieux, de l’exégèse et des écritures, paraphrase pour la théologie, première science instituée.

La racine « science » se retrouve dans d’autres termes tels la « conscience » (étymologiquement, « avec la connaissance »), la « prescience » (« la connaissance du futur »), l’« omniscience » (« la connaissance de tout »), par exemple.


Extracted from Etymonline

science (n.)

mid-14c., “what is known, knowledge (of something) acquired by study; information;” also “assurance of knowledge, certitude, certainty,” from Old French science “knowledge, learning, application; corpus of human knowledge” (12c.), from Latin scientia “knowledge, a knowing; expertness,” from sciens (genitive scientis) “intelligent, skilled,” present participle of scire “to know,” probably originally “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish,” related to scindere “to cut, divide” (from PIE root *skei- “to cut, split;” source also of Greek skhizein “to split, rend, cleave,” Gothic skaidan, Old English sceadan “to divide, separate”).

From late 14c. in English as “book-learning,” also “a particular branch of knowledge or of learning;” also “skillfulness, cleverness; craftiness.” From c. 1400 as “experiential knowledge;” also “a skill, handicraft; a trade.” From late 14c. as “collective human knowledge” (especially that gained by systematic observation, experiment, and reasoning). Modern (restricted) sense of “body of regular or methodical observations or propositions concerning a particular subject or speculation” is attested from 1725; in 17c.-18c. this concept commonly was called philosophy. Sense of “non-arts studies” is attested from 1670s. 

Science, since people must do it, is a socially embedded activity. It progresses by hunch, vision, and intuition. Much of its change through time does not record a closer approach to absolute truth, but the alteration of cultural contexts that influence it so strongly. Facts are not pure and unsullied bits of information; culture also influences what we see and how we see it. Theories, moreover, are not inexorable inductions from facts. The most creative theories are often imaginative visions imposed upon facts; the source of imagination is also strongly cultural. [Stephen Jay Gould, introduction to “The Mismeasure of Man,” 1981]

In science you must not talk before you know. In art you must not talk before you do. In literature you must not talk before you think. [John Ruskin, “The Eagle’s Nest,” 1872]

The distinction is commonly understood as between theoretical truth (Greek epistemē) and methods for effecting practical results (tekhnē), but science sometimes is used for practical applications and art for applications of skill. To blind (someone) with science “confuse by the use of big words or complex explanations” is attested from 1937, originally noted as a phrase from Australia and New Zealand.

Types of Knowledge – Juxtaposition

Book  of Dzyan – Anthropogenesis – Stanza II

“AUM,” said the Mighty One, and sounded forth the Word. The sevenfold waves of matter resolved themselves, and varied forms appeared. Each took its place, each in the sphere ordained. They waited for the sacred flood to enter and to fill.

The Builders responded to the sacred sound. In musical collaboration they attended to the work. They built in many spheres, beginning with the third. Upon this plane their work commenced. They built the sheath of atma and strung it to its Primary.


“AUM,” said the Mighty One. “Let now the work proceed. Let the Builders of the air continue with the plan. “
The Deva-Lord and Builders upon the plane of air worked with the forms within that sphere which is reckoned mainly theirs. They wrought for union, each in his group assigned. The moulds grew fast beneath their hands.
The sacred plane of juncture, the fourth great plane, became the sphere within the greater circle which marked the goal for man.


“AUM,” said the Mighty One, He breathed forth to the fifth, the plane which is the burning-ground, the meeting place for fire. This time a cosmic note is heard beneath the sound systemic. The fire within, the fire without, meet with the fire ascending. The guardians of the cosmic fire, the devas of fohatic heat, watched o’er the forms that formless stood, waiting a point in time.
The builders of a lesser grade, devas who work with matter, wrought at the forms. They stood in fourfold order. Upon the threefold levels in empty silence stood the forms. They vibrated, they responded to the key, yet useless stood and uninhabited.


“AUM,” said the Mighty One, “let the waters too bring forth.” The builders of the watery sphere, the denizens of moisture, produced the forms that move within the kingdom of Varuna. They grew and multiplied. In constant flux they swayed. Each ebb of cosmic motion increased the endless flow. The ripple of the forms was seen.


“AUM,” said the Mighty One, “let the Builders deal with matter.” The molten solidified. The solid forms were built. The crust cooled. The rocks congealed. The builders wrought in tumult to produce the forms of maya. When the rocky strata were completed the work stood in completion. The builders of the lowest grade announced the work was finished.

Forth from the rocky strata emerged the covering next. The builders of the second agreed the work was done. The first and second on the upward way stood forth in fourfold form. The inner five was somewhat seen by those whose sight was keen.
“AUM,” said the Mighty One, and gathered in His Breath. The spark within the peopling third impelled to further growth. The builders of the lowest forms, manipulating densest maya, merged their production with the forms built by the watery ones. Matter and water merged produced the third in time. Ascension thus progressed. The builders worked in union. They called the guardians of the fiery zone.  Matter and water mixed with fire, the inner spark within the form were blended all together.

The Mighty One looked down. The forms met His approval. Forth came the cry for further light. Again He gathered in the sound. He drew to higher levels the feeble spark of light. Another tone was heard, the sound of cosmic fire, hid in the Sons of Manas. They called to their Primaries. The lower four, the higher three, and the cosmic fifth met at the great inbreathing. Another sheath was formed.

Excerpted from  “A Treatise on Cosmic Fire – Stanzas of Dzyan”

 By Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul