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New details of Tully monster revealed
Is this article about Animals?
For more than half a century, the Tully monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), an enigmatic animal that lived about 300 million years ago, has confounded paleontologists, with its strange anatomy making it difficult to classify. Recently, a group of researchers proposed a hypothesis that Tullimonstrum was a vertebrate similar to cyclostomes (jawless fish like lamprey and hagfish). If it was, then the Tully monster would potentially fill a gap in the evolutionary history of early vertebrates. Studies so far have both supported and rejected this hypothesis.


How much can I trust this Huberman video?

I've seen some comments about him being a quack and some comments saying he's right about stuff

I am very much early on in my research into this so would really appreciate anyone's help, guidance or tips

(Sorry if this doesn't belong here, if it doesn't does anyone know where it does?)

submitted by /u/c1b4
[link] [comments]
The Best Cuisine on Earth
Is this article about Lifestyle?

Welcome to Up for Debate. Each week, Conor Friedersdorf rounds up timely conversations and solicits reader responses to one thought-provoking question. Later, he publishes some thoughtful replies. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Last week, I asked readers to defend the proposition that their favorite cuisine is the world’s best.

Rob wrote on behalf of a southeast-Asian standout:

The world’s best cuisine cannot be one in which its greatest dishes are accessible only on rare or expensive occasions. Everyone should be able to enjoy a cuisine’s must-try meals, regardless of their budget, nutritional needs, or level of adventurousness. For this reason, Vietnamese cuisine might be the world’s best.

For one, you won’t need a map or a Michelin star to find something good to eat when visiting Vietnam. The best meals are prepared and served on the street. The tables are usually made of cheap plastic and the stools are sometimes only 12 inches off the ground. You’ll spend the equivalent of one to two American dollars, on a random sidewalk in Saigon, and it will be one the richest, most delicious meals of your life. Two, it’s little wonder that Vietnamese food is so often named among the world’s healthiest. The ingredients are fresh and the combinations are light. It’s not so rich or heavy that it can be consumed only as an indulgence. Three, it’s up to you to decide how you want it. While the chefs and cooks of other global cuisines may be often unwilling to deviate from tradition to appeal to popular or idiosyncratic tastes, the Vietnamese are much more accommodating. Low tolerance for anything spicy? Don’t worry; you add your own chiles. Not sure if you’re comfortable eating that? Start with a bowl of pho and a banh mi—a soup and a sandwich. And if you’re clumsy with chopsticks, there’s probably a fork at the table.

The world has so many incredible cuisines. Each can claim complex, satisfying, memorable meals. But Vietnamese is the best. Everyone can enjoy it.

Scott prefers the aquatic snacks of the United States:

My favorite cuisine is good old American seafood from all across the country: lobster, cod, and chowder from New England; blue crab and oysters from the mid-Atlantic; catfish, shrimp and grits, and she-crab soup from the South; grouper, mahi, and stone-crab claws from Florida; crawdads, seafood gumbo, étouffée, and blackened fish from Louisiana; gulf shrimp, ceviche, and black drum from Texas; cioppino, sushi, and fish tacos from California; Dungeness crab, fresh salmon, and geoduck in the Pacific Northwest; sautéed lake trout, perch, and walleye from the inland freshwater lakes … plus hundreds of others I missed.

All of it fresh, amazing, and delicious.

Mitchell revealed his pick reluctantly:

For the record, I’m the type of person who orders anything “drunken” on the Thai menu, reads Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks for fun, and waits months for a reservation at Owamni, so picking a favorite cuisine feels almost like cheating on my significant other. (I feel like somehow the boeuf bourguignon I plan on cooking next weekend is gonna hear I didn’t pick French cuisine, then promptly decide to scorch during the braise.)

Caveats aside, I love food from the Levant, specifically Lebanese cuisine. The reason for my adoration is the ingredients they use, combined with simple cooking methods and accessible flavors: pomegranate molasses, preserved lemons, za’atar, every herb under the sun (the region was central to the spice trade), hot peppers introduced from the Americas, lamb and other funky meats, fresh pita. I understand this is just a list of ingredients, but my mouth started watering just typing them. And even though these ingredients are all over the map, the cooking methods are straightforward: raw salads with olive oil and lemon; kofta cooked over hot coals; bulgur rehydrated with herbs in boiling water. And in the end, all the notes get hit—the raw garlic spice of toum; the bracing acidity of labneh; the sticky sweet crispness of baklava; salty olives from some of the oldest trees in the world.

But I guess it makes sense that one of the cradles of civilization would’ve ended up figuring out the best food. Ancient, fresh, complex, and simple—Lebanese cuisine checks all the delicious boxes.

Bekke’s favorite cuisine is “down-home Midwestern farm cooking”:

Perhaps this is due to my childhood experience with my grandmother’s freshly slaughtered chickens, fried and served with homemade country gravy; fresh vegetables from her garden; homemade bread and jam. My great-aunt Rosa made the best chiffon pies (a childhood delight), and my grandmother and I spent many happy hours baking gingersnaps and other cookies. For years, my birthday preference was pecan pie, not cake. Even today, the foods served at family and community gatherings are always delicious, although not always the healthiest, and served in great abundance.

And, best of all, they’re made with love.  

M.’s favorite cuisine belongs to an island:

I lived for several years in Japan—first with a family of wedding-kimono makers and then on my own in a working-class neighborhood in Tokyo. I prefer the food I found in the various food stands in Monzen-Nakacho to the upper-class cuisine I ate regularly during my first stay. My second visit I was a student at a university in Japan living on a small stipend. The last week of every month I’d be down to my last few hundred yen. I’d go to the ramen shop a block from my tiny apartment and order a plain bowl of noodles.

The owner asked me where I was from when he realized I could speak Japanese. What was I doing in Japan? he asked. It turned out I was studying at the same university his son was attending. I told him I had received a scholarship to study Japanese literature. From then on I was treated to bowls of the most amazing ramen I’ve ever eaten: miso ramen; tonkatsu (pork) ramen; shoyu ramen (soy sauce based). He put vegetables and various meat or seafood in my soup but charged me only for a simple bowl of ramen with nothing added. Eventually, he simply wouldn’t take my money. Those noodles! All homemade.

I cannot make my miso ramen or soup taste anywhere near his, but I could live on Japanese food and be very happy: sushi—not the huge rolls at American Japanese restaurants but the nigiri and maki of Japan—are bite-size pieces of wonder; cold tofu and fried tofu; mackerel; unagi; Japanese curry; tempura. And even teriyaki—but not the sweet syrup found in too many places in this country. I make sticky rice with a small piece of salmon, nori, and some green tea in the bowl and I am happy.

Oscar’s favorite is mine too:

Definitely Mexican. World-class. Complex. Nuanced. Accessible. Simple. Historical.  

Virginia defends the cliché answer with relish:

Things are typically cliché for a reason, and that is the case with French cuisine. It is my favorite for so many reasons, and not all of them have to do with the food items themselves.

I worked in the music industry for some 20-odd years and had the good fortune of attending the Marché International du Disque et de l'Édition Musicale, or Midem, held each year in Cannes. The company I worked for did it in style, putting us all in the legendary Carlton hotel and permitting us to fly in a day or two ahead and stay a day or two later. I took full advantage of that to soak up as much of the French Riviera as I could.

I fell in love with the total sensory experience of French cuisine. It moved beyond the incredibly creamy and rich silkiness of the yogurt served in glass jars, so thick and seductive as it slid past my lips first thing in the morning with a slight tang—just enough to rouse my sleepy mind delightfully. It went beyond the café crème served in china cups that might have been older than this country. It was so much more than the exquisite salade Niçoise at the café a few doors down. It is all those lovely ingredients prepared with intense attention to every little detail of every ingredient to offer diners’ tastebuds a true feast. But it is also the complete sensory experience of dining in France.

Alongside the glasses of champagne, which are so aptly assigned the adjective sparkling, and the fluffy clouds of pastry, the French served up candlelight or a sunny sky, conversation or pensive hours, a view of the Mediterranean or 100-year-old candlelit stone walls adorned with quick sketches by Picasso and Matisse, among others, and a look of disappointed condemnation for an American woman who was silly enough to rush through a meal because she sat alone in a packed restaurant at lunchtime. That experience slammed home to me the importance to the French of savoring not only one’s meal but, rather, the entire meal hour. Every minute of it, and with every sense. No one minds a woman dining alone. But they do mind her rushing through the meal.

After the disdain tossed at me by the staff during that rushed lunch of mine, I made sure to maximize every moment of my time in France each year to just absorb it all and enjoy it to the fullest. In one of my last years there, I had dinner with a colleague from New York I only saw once each year, at Midem, and she marveled at how brave I was to venture out of the hotel and go to restaurants alone, especially since my French was and still is very rudimentary and meager. I told her it had nothing to do with bravery and everything to do with a determination to not miss out on anything.

Whenever work sent us anywhere international, I ensured that I had a free weekend, during which I would visit a grocery store and walk around the local shops. But no matter where in the world I was, those experiences always brought to mind French cuisine, and I suppose they always will. I do not know if I will ever return to experience French cuisine in France, so I have learned to make the country’s pastries and salads and I seek out its yogurt and champagnes whenever I can. And above all else, I slow down and savor every bit of the experience of those foods, from putting my hands into the flour mixture to the last sip of a hot café. The cuisine reminds me of one of the most important life lessons I’ve had—life is fleeting, but our senses can make each minute of it special if you will only let it.

Eden counters that we all know a neighboring cuisine is better:

There are so many cuisines to choose from that this question is tricky to answer. What can top the American breakfast, with its hearty scrambles, crispy bacon, and luscious French toast? Is there anything better than a hot, steaming bowl of pho with the thin slices of raw steak that cook in the rich, anise-tinged broth? What about tacos with crispy carnitas that melt in your mouth? Spicy curries, french fries, sushi, pastrami sandwiches, and fried chicken are all to die for.

However, one cuisine trumps all the rest: Everyone knows it is Italian food. When I read your question, the first thing that popped into my head was a pan full of cheesy, comforting lasagne. Risotto. Bolognese. Vongole. Cacio e pepe. PIZZA! Tell me you can live without pizza and pasta, and I will tell you that it is not a life worth living.

Miriam’s choice is the cuisine of her ancestors:

Ashkenazi Jewish cooking is brown and beige. It's not fashionable or garlic-heavy, and it excludes lots of delectable things like pork, shellfish, and the combination of meat and dairy. Moreover, I discovered it only in my teens and 20s, after both my grandmothers had died. It is not the taste of my childhood. But it’s haimish—it is the taste of my roots.

Like Jewish cooking everywhere, Ashkenazi food is the cuisine of central and eastern European Jews’ gentile neighbors, adapted to Jewish dietary laws and with matzoh added. Now with so many Ashkenazi-style restaurants closing their doors, Polish and Ukrainian restaurants are where I usually go for a taste of nostalgia. Just yesterday I read the bad news in Tablet that whitefish chubs may soon be a thing of the past; another delight bites the dust.

I can’t convince gentiles that Ashkenazi Jewish cooking is the best. But I can write this love letter and valediction.

Mary Ann writes:

If I had to choose just one item, it would be Hokkaido milk bread; I can toast it, make sandwiches, make pizza, butter it, or eat it plain. It’s versatile and delicious.

Phoebe cooks all the time and one cuisine stands out:

My favorite cuisine is Middle Eastern, specifically, from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Israel. To me, it checks every single box. The food is so varied. The flavors are astoundingly complex. Meals include tons of fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, nuts, and, last but definitely not least, spices. The dishes take on different personalities and different regional tastes. And it’s one of the world’s healthiest cuisines, based on what research we’ve got. My litmus test is “What could I eat every day, for every meal, and be happy?” This is it.

Bobby describes his favorite meal, which has changed:

For a long time my go-to has been a traditional turkey dinner with all of the fixings and sides, but it’s a heavy meal that necessarily includes a lot of potential allergens and dietary restrictions (gluten, meat, etc.).

Just earlier this week I was thinking how a nice bowl of hot ramen was probably my current No. 1. At its base form, ramen only requires a few simple ingredients, and it rules. It’s hot and savory and chewy and slurpy and filling. But then you can add meat and eggs and more veggies and spice and all sorts of things to create a variety of sensory experiences, all while never sacrificing the core of what makes ramen great in the first place. Plus, if you really want some cronch, you can get karaage on the side at many ramen places. And hot green tea or hot sake to drink? Damn, now that’s a perfect meal on a rainy spring day.

Emily hearts New York City:

The city has its own style of pizza, bagels, cheesecake, and hot dogs. Not to mention the foods that are quintessential to a NYC deli: The pastrami! The chopped cheese!  Black-and-white cookies, even! All unbeatable, in my opinion, spawning countless “NYC-style” eateries worldwide. And all that culinary excellence coming out of just one city? No cuisine on earth can compare. I moved away two years ago and I miss it every day.

Jaleelah likes Arab food:

Arab food has everything you need. The peasant dishes are packed with superfoods—my grandmother finds it hilarious that tahini and freekeh have become health-food crazes. The salads are the best in the world. There’s no pointless filler like lettuce; the dishes are made to be flavourful. I could eat tabbouleh for breakfast every day. And most of the dishes are relatively cheap and easy to make. One $20 shawarma platter will give you at least three balanced meals.

And Joshua prefers the local cuisine wherever he happens to be:

As a Michigander, I am extremely partial to our style of pizza: square, in a pan, with a practically burnt crust. Delicious. Or the Detroit Coney dog: Chili, mustard, and onions smothered over a hot dog. Or the pasty, a meat-pie creation with a rich history in the mining culture of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

When I travel within the United States, I never seek out the familiar. I avoid restaurant chains of any kind. I don’t rely on Google Maps or Yelp to find a bite to eat. I ask someone local (my Uber driver, the hotel desk staff, etc.) where they go for takeout. In a country with a long history of immigration, every city has its own unique food scene. I always seek out the best plate of food I can find for under $15. You eat crabs when you are in Baltimore. Lobster in New England. BBQ in Kansas City. Gumbo in New Orleans. You drown yourself in cheese in Wisconsin. This world is so much more exciting when you eat the food that everyone else is eating in that specific place, but not necessarily anywhere else.

Thanks for all your evocative answers––I’ll see you later this week.

As far back as 45,000 years ago, groups of hunter-gatherers lived in what is now called El Mirón Cave near the northern coast of Spain. First discovered for science in 1903 by local archaeologists and surveyed by University of New Mexico Professor of Anthropology Lawrence Straus in 1973, systematic excavation of the cave began in 1996 when Straus and Manuel González Morales of the University of Cantabria began their major ongoing research in the cave, leading to the discovery of prehistoric remains ranging from the time of the last Neanderthals through the Bronze Age.
The melanocortin action is biased toward protection from weight loss in mice

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37912-z

Melanocortin action is known to regulate body weight. Here the authors report that while inhibition of the hypothalamic melanocortin action leads to obesity in mice, chronic activation of melanocortin action is not sufficient to cause weight loss.
Google DeepMind CEO Says AI May Become Self-Aware
Is this article about Business?
We can now, apparently, add the CEO of the Google-owned DeepMind to the list of machine learning researchers who think AI might gain self-awareness. 

So Self-Conscious

We can now apparently add the CEO of the 


-owned DeepMind to the list of machine learning researchers who think artificial intelligence might come to gain self-awareness.

In a bombastic interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis admitted that AI may be headed in that direction.

"Philosophers haven't really settled on a definition of consciousness yet," he said, "but if we mean self-awareness, and these kinds of things… I think there's a possibility that AI one day could be."

It's especially jarring that Hassabis is on the machines-coming-alive train given that last year, Google fired responsible AI researcher Blake Lemoine after he claimed that the company's LaMDA large language model had gained sentience — a claim that, unsurprisingly, led to a media maelstrom.

AI Wars

Lemoine isn't alone in suggesting that large language models are either gaining human-size cognitive properties, or could soon get there.

Months prior to last year's LaMDA-gate, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever cryptically tweeted that "it may be that today's large neural networks are slightly conscious," which also set off a flash-in-the-pan debate about whether or not AIs can or will gain consciousness.

And just last week, famed Oxford AI researcher Nick Bostrom also said that, depending on one's definition, "it’s not so dramatic to say that some of these [AI] assistants might plausibly be candidates for having some degrees of sentience."

While there are still lots and lots of very smart people who think that AI is not conscious or sentient and will probably never get that way, it's becoming increasingly common for people in the machine learning field to "come out" in support of the concept of sentient AIs either already existing or being on the horizon.

We certainly don't have the expertise to say one way or another whether these large language models have achieved consciousness or sentience — but we've gotta admit, it's pretty scary to think about.

More on Google AI: Google's New AI Says Google Is a Monopoly and the Government Should Break It Up

The post 

Google DeepMind

 CEO Says AI May Become Self-Aware appeared first on Futurism.

Study analyzes racial discrimination in job recruitment in Europe
The largest study on racial discrimination in job recruitment in Europe reveals that having a non-white phenotype is a major obstacle to finding employment for Europeans born to immigrant parents. This is one of the main conclusions of a study carried out by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, the Berlin Social Science Centre (WZB) and the German Centre for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM).
Controlling thermal conductivity in liquid crystals
Doping a liquid crystal with azobenzene molecules can induce reversible changes in its thermal conductivity under light irradiation. These findings have been reported in a new collaboration between the Center for Research in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Materials (CiQUS) groups and is now featured on the cover of the Journal of Materials Chemistry C.
A new major study documents that religiously motivated legislation has taken place in all types of societies and religions—to the detriment of democratic rights. The researchers behind the study also find that religion is still used to oppress women in particular and to give lawmakers unchallenged power.
Is this article about Quantum Computing?
Correlative light electron microscopy (CLEM) is a powerful tool in bioimaging, as it combines the ability to image living cells over large fields of view with molecular specificity using light microscopy (LM) with the high spatial resolution and ultrastructural information of electron microscopy (EM). To highlight biomolecules of interest and determine their position with high accuracy in CLEM, researchers must ensure they are labeled with probes that are visible both in LM (typically by fluorescence) and in EM (using electron dense material). However, existing probes have a number of drawbacks, including lack of stability under LM (photobleaching) and lack of integrity.
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
Researchers from Tsinghua University synthesized porous yolk-shell NiO nanospheres (PYS-NiO NSs) via a solvothermal and subsequent calcination process of Ni-MOF. As the large specific surface areas and hollow porous nanostructures were conducive to ionic transport, PYS-NiO NSs exhibited a fast coloring/bleaching speed (3.6/3.9 s per one coloring/bleaching cycle) and excellent cycling stability (82% of capacity retention after 3000 cycles). These superior electrochromic (EC) properties indicated that the PYS-NiO NSs was a promising candidate for high performance EC devices.
We Haven’t Been Measuring How the Economy Really Works
Is this article about Political Science?

The Trump administration made some bold claims about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed the corporate-tax rate. Larry Kudlow, the head of the former president’s National Economic Council, said it would boost GDP so much that it would “virtually” pay for itself. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, went further, saying the tax cut would “in fact create additional revenue.”

This was fantastical nonsense; tax cuts rarely if ever pay for themselves. But the Congressional Budget Office gave the Trump team’s sales pitch one important boost: The agency ran the bill through its model and concluded that it would have a positive, if muted, effect on long-term growth. Most Republicans were going to support Trump’s bill no matter what, but now they could do so with a straight face.

[Read: The seven myths of the GOP tax bill]

The CBO’s relatively sober prediction was wrong, a group of respected economists is charging. The Budget Office, along with other forecasters, assumes that when corporations get a tax cut, they take some of that money and reinvest it in their business, boosting growth and productivity. That assumption ignores a central dynamic of today’s economy: Many sectors are dominated by a small number of huge companies.

Much has been written over the past few years about the rise of corporate concentration. The Biden administration has made fighting monopolies one of its key economic-policy priorities. Yet none of the leading economic models takes consolidation into account. This is more than a purely technical concern. The risk is that conventional modeling is misinforming policy makers, Republican and Democratic alike, on how to structure policies that affect everyone. Governments may be relying on models that are too stuck in theory, too slow-changing, and too simplistic to be truly helpful.

“The existing models do not work well, particularly in the moments when it really counts,” such as a financial crisis, Joseph Stiglitz, the former chief economist for the World Bank, told me. “The underlying economics, the assumptions that go into the economics, are very badly flawed.”

Stiglitz is an adviser to American University’s new Institute for Macroeconomic & Policy Analysis, an initiative to update those assumptions and improve those forecasting tools. Today, IMPA is launching a new economic-forecasting model that researchers believe better captures how the economy works and, by extension, how policy changes will really play out.

Competitive economies and monopolized economies behave very differently, economists have found. When there’s plenty of competition, corporations tend to plow money into their business, investing more in research and development or raising worker pay to attract talent. But if a company doesn’t face much real competition, the pressure is off—it can simply pass the extra money along to shareholders. A model that ignores this distinction might be suitable for a tidy theoretical economy, but it won’t match the messy one we live in.

In the inaugural paper using IMPA’s model, the economists Lídia Brun, Ignacio González, and Juan Montecino conclude that the Trump tax bill was “harmful to the economy”—it slowed down growth and amped up inequality. Slashing the corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent did not boost workers’ wages by thousands of dollars a year, as Trump appointees had predicted. Nor will it boost GDP in the long term. The IMPA model finds instead that cutting the corporate-tax rate “reduced the funds used for productive investment” by shunting money into investor payouts. What’s more, it suggests that raising taxes on business monopolies might stimulate growth by lowering those firms’ stock-market returns and thus spurring investors to pour money into more dynamic businesses.

The relationship between corporate-tax rates and business investment is a fiercely debated topic among economists, and some forecasters I spoke with didn’t think that rising corporate concentration was causing them to overestimate the economy’s growth. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, who did not work on the IMPA project, told me that concentration shows up indirectly in other variables commonly included in big forecasting models.

That said, several forecasters agreed that conventional models rely on questionable, even laughable, assumptions. Some models, for instance, assume that the country has perfectly competitive labor markets in which workers have total freedom to switch jobs and are paid precisely what they’re worth to a company’s bottom line. And the models generally don’t account for the ways in which having markets dominated by so few competitors—Google with web search, Amazon with online shopping—might skew profits, investments, and wages. “The assumption that there’s no market power is just wrong,” Stiglitz told me. “It’s so obvious. In many sectors of our economy, we don’t have anything that approaches that level of competition.” He cited the tech sector, drug stores, even dog food.

[Mark Mazur: Taxpayers are very confused]

Creating the new IMPA model to account for monopoly power in the United States was a three-part process, Montecino and González told me. The researchers first constructed a complex mathematical model capturing a variety of factors that contribute to growth. They then tested it against historical data, seeing how well it would predict the 2015 economy using financial numbers from 2012, for instance. Finally, they let other economists critique it and review its predictions.

One of those economists was Kimberly Clausing, a tax expert at UCLA School of Law. She said that she appreciated the attempt to make a model that accounted for enormous companies’ outsize power. “Things look different when things get hyperconcentrated,” she told me. “Look at the economy of the 1970s, when there was less concentration. The labor share of income was higher. Investment was higher. So many of the main macro variables performed differently.”

Many of the forecasters I spoke with mentioned that forecasting is just plain hard—and something economists have not gotten much better at in recent decades. Chris Varvares of S&P Global Market Intelligence, a forecaster with decades of experience who is not affiliated with IMPA, noted that the economy is enormous and complex. Impossible-to-predict events, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, happen all the time. Even the world’s most influential economists often disagree on what causes what. “There’s not always good data,” he told me. “That’s just something we have to live with.”

That said, IMPA’s economists stressed that rising corporate concentration has profoundly changed our economy over the past several decades. It seems past time for it to also change how we model the economy.

Astronomers Just Directly Imaged a Massive Exoplanet. Here’s Why More Images Could Be Coming Soon

Finding life on other planets might well be the holy grail of astronomy, but the hunt for suitable host planets that can sustain life is a resource-intensive task.

The search for exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) involves competing for time on Earth’s biggest telescopes—yet the hit rate of this search can be disappointingly low.

In a new study recently published in Science, my colleagues and I combined different search techniques to discover a new giant planet. It could change the way we try to image planets in the future.

Imaging Planets Is No Small Feat

To satisfy our curiosity about our place in the universe, astronomers have developed many techniques to search for planets orbiting other stars. Perhaps the simplest of these is called direct imaging. But it’s not easy.

Direct imaging involves attaching a powerful camera to a large telescope and trying to detect light emitted, or reflected, from a planet. Stars are bright, and planets are dim, so it’s akin to searching for fireflies dancing around a spotlight.

It’s no surprise only about 20 planets have been found with this technique to date.

Yet direct imaging is of great value. It helps shed light on a planet’s atmospheric properties, such as its temperature and composition, in a way other detection techniques can’t.

HIP99770b: A New Gas Giant

Our direct imaging of a new planet, named HIP99770b, reveals a hot, giant and moderately cloudy planet. It orbits its star at a distance that falls somewhere between the orbital distances of Saturn and Uranus around our sun.


The HIP99770 star is almost 14 times brighter than the sun. But since its planet has an orbit larger than Saturn’s, the planet receives a similar amount of energy as Jupiter does from the sun. Author provided

With about 15 times the mass of Jupiter, HIP99770b is a real giant. However, it’s also more than 1,000℃, so it’s not a good prospect for a habitable world.

What the HIP99770 system does offer is an analogy to our own solar system. It has a cold “debris disk” of ice and rock far out from the star, akin to a scaled-up version of the Kuiper Belt in our solar system.

The main difference is that the HIP99770 system is dominated by one high-mass planet, rather than several smaller ones.


Images of the HIP99770 system, taken with exoplanet imager SCExAO (Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics Project) coupled with data from the CHARIS instrument (Coronagraphic High-Resolution Imager and Spectrograph). Author provided

Searching With the Light On

We reached our findings by first detecting hints of a planet via indirect detection methods. We noticed the star was wobbling in space, which hinted at the presence of a planet in the vicinity with a large gravitational pull.

This motivated our direct imaging efforts; we were no longer searching in the dark.

The extra data came from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which has been measuring the positions of nearly one billion stars since 2014. Gaia is sensitive enough to detect tiny variations of a star’s motion through space, such as those caused by planets.

We also supplemented these data with measurements from Gaia’s predecessor, Hipparcos. In total, we had 25 years’ worth of “astrometric” (positional) data to work with.

Previously, researchers have used indirect methods to guide imaging that has discovered companion stars, but not planets.

It’s not their fault: massive stars such as HIP99770—which is almost twice the mass of our sun—are reluctant to give up their secrets. Otherwise-successful search techniques can rarely reach the levels of precision required to detect planets around such massive stars.

Our detection, which used both direct imaging and astrometry, demonstrates a more efficient way to search for planets. It’s the first time the direct detection of an exoplanet has been guided through initial indirect detection methods.

Gaia is expected to continue observing until at least 2025, and its archive will remain useful for decades to come.

Mysteries remain

Astrometry of HIP99770 suggests it belongs to the Argus association of stars—a group of stars that moves together through space. This would suggest the system is rather young, about 40 million years old. That would make it roughly one-hundredth of the age of our solar system.

However, our analysis of the star’s pulsations, as well as models of the planet’s brightness, suggest an older age of between 120 million and 200 million years. If this is the case, HIP99770 might just be an interloper in the Argus group.

Now that it’s known to host a planet, astronomers will aim to further unravel the mysteries of HIP99770 and its immediate environment.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image Credit: Subaru Telescope image of HIP99770. T. Currie/Subaru Telescope, UTSA

Volkswagen ID.7 Review: Inoffensive to a Fault
Is this article about Product Reviews?
VW’s latest big electric cruise sedan showcases new tech and impressive aerodynamics, but can it take on the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and Tesla Model S?
A team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has recently made a surprising discovery, with the help of a wind tunnel and a flock of birds. Songbirds, many of which make twice-yearly, non-stop flights of more than 1,000 miles to get from breeding range to wintering range, fuel themselves by burning lots of fat and a surprising amount of the protein making up lean body mass, including muscle, early in the flight.
New fossils in amber have revealed that beetles fed on the feathers of dinosaurs about 105 million years ago, showing a symbiotic relationship of one-sided or mutual benefit, according to an article titled "Symbiosis between Cretaceous dinosaurs and feather-feeding beetles" published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today.
The surprising science behind long-distance bird migration
A team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has recently made a surprising discovery, with the help of a wind tunnel and a flock of birds. Songbirds, many of which make twice-yearly, non-stop flights of more than 1,000 miles to get from breeding range to wintering range, fuel themselves by burning lots of fat and a surprising amount of the protein making up lean body mass, including muscle, early in the flight.
10 simple rules for socially responsible science
Is this article about Political Science?
Scientific research must meet clear ethical guidelines to prevent harm to participants. However, research can also indirectly harm individuals and social groups, for example by shaping social perceptions and inspiring policy. Researchers receive little to no training on how to consider and minimize such harm.
New fossils in amber have revealed that beetles fed on the feathers of dinosaurs about 105 million years ago, showing a symbiotic relationship of one-sided or mutual benefit, according to an article titled "Symbiosis between Cretaceous dinosaurs and feather-feeding beetles" published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today.
The moon may be the best place to transport rocket fuel
When astronauts return to the moon in the next few years, the plan is to have them stay for good while establishing a permanent outpost on Earth's nearest celestial neighbor. Like all space missions, a lunar outpost will require fuel for long-term sustainability, but would it be better to mine fuel on the moon or get fuel resupply from the Earth? This is what a team of researchers led by Bocconi University in Italy hope to address as they addressed the best option in terms of deriving fuel from either the Earth or the moon.
Crypto Guy Forced to Sell Apes After Falling for Scam
Another NFT collector just got caught up in a scam, losing millions of dollars worth of crypto in the process.

Rug Pull

Yet another NFT collector got caught up in a scam, losing millions of dollars worth of crypto in the process.

Collector and aerospace engineer Frank Caldwell II, better known by his online handle FranklinIsBored, was forced to sell a number of his Bored Ape NFTs after losing 2,000 Ether, worth just under $4 million, to a Ponzi scheme.

It's a sign that people in the crypto space are still getting caught up in multi-million-dollar rackets — despite the well-known fact that the largely unregulated industry is absolutely riddled with them.

In a recent tweet, Caldwell lamented the fact that he got "rug pulled" after investing in a scam, "thinking it was credible due to who else invested."

"Someone used our $$ as a casino gambling Ponzi and flushed it down the drain," he wrote. "Please learn any lessons possible from this."

Lesson Learned?

Speaking of learning lessons, Caldwell is practically the poster child for making poor decisions when it comes to the crypto and NFT space.

It's the third time the collector lost significant amounts of his crypto wealth, as Protos reports. In July 2022, for instance, Caldwell lost 100 Ether after putting in a "joke" bid for a domain name he was selling.

"This will be the joke and bag fumble of the century," he wrote at the time. "I deserve all of the jokes and criticism."

Caldwell also shilled an NFT project early last year that later turned out to be a rug pull.

Now, the collector's OpenSea account is down to just two Apes. That's a big drop from the over 60 it once held, according to Protos.

That leaves the question: has Caldwell finally learned his lesson? Considering his latest tweet, it's a resounding… maybe?

"I won't get involved in NFT trading/Twitter for a while, and will just focus on my private life for the time being with my remaining apes," Caldwell wrote.

More on NFTs: Jury Rules that NFTs Aren't Really Art

The post Crypto Guy Forced to Sell Apes After Falling for Scam appeared first on Futurism.

Polestar 4 2023 Reveal: No Rear Window
Is this article about Automotive Industry?
The 350-mile Polestar 4 attempts to maximize interior space and right the wrongs of the much-maligned SUV coupé.
Ether phospholipids are required for mitochondrial reactive oxygen species homeostasis

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37924-9

Cancer cells can be dependent on mitochondrial respiration to survive. Here, in pancreatic cancer cells, the authors show that monounsaturated fatty acids-linked ether lipids maintain mitochondrial redox homeostasis and modulate sensitivity to inhibition to electron transport chain complex I.
Chemomechanical modification of quantum emission in monolayer WSe2

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37892-0

Single-photon emitters (SPEs) in 2D semiconductors are usually affected by complex spectral profiles that limit their understanding and applications. Here, the authors combine a noncovalent surface functionalization method with localized mechanical strain to simplify the spectra and enhance the purity of SPEs in monolayer WSe2.
Traditional medicine compound drug fights glioblastoma in mice
Is this article about Health?
Small purple flowers on an indigo plant with green leaves.

A drug made from a natural compound used in traditional Chinese medicine works against malignant brain tumors in mice, a new study shows.

The findings offer a promising avenue of research for 



In the study, published in Cell Reports Medicine, the researchers showed how a formulation of the compound, called indirubin, improved the survival of mice with malignant brain tumors. They also tested a new formulation that was easier to administer, taking the potential pharmaceutical approach one step closer to clinical trials with human participants.

“The interesting thing about this drug is that it targets a number of important hallmarks of the disease,” says lead author Sean Lawler, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown University.

“That’s appealing because this type of 


 keeps finding ways around individual mechanisms of attack. So if we use multiple mechanisms of attack at once, perhaps that will be more successful.”

Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer. The standard of care is chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, which may improve symptoms but doesn’t cure or stop the cancer.

Indirubin is a natural product present in indigo plants and a constituent of the traditional Chinese medicine Dang Gui Long Hui Wan, which has been used in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia, according to the researchers.

Derivatives of the indirubin have shown potential for the treatment of cancer through a range of mechanisms. Research published 10 years ago by Lawler and others showed that indirubin slowed the growth of glioblastoma tumors in mice.

However, Lawler says, the researchers weren’t able to explain why. What’s more, the modified drug wasn’t very easy to work with, making it challenging for scientists to test dosage levels or efficiently deliver it to the tumor.

As the scientists continued to research the compound, they were contacted by the Massachusetts-based biomedical company Phosphorex, which develops technology to improve pharmaceutical formulations. Phosphorex had patented a formulation of indirubin, called 6′-bromoindirubin acetoxime (BiA), which made the compound easier to use as an injectable cancer treatment.

The researchers tested the nanoparticle formulation of BiA on glioblastoma tumors in mice, focusing on how the drug would affect the immune system.

Not only did BiA slow the growth and proliferation of tumor cells (confirming the results of previous studies), but it also improved survival via effects on important immunotherapeutic targets.

“The drug impacted the immune system in these mouse experiments in a way that we think could enhance clinical immunotherapy in humans,” explains Lawler, whose lab therapeutic approaches for the treatment of brain cancer.

With a grant from the National Cancer Institute, the researchers will continue to test the drug to see how it interacts with chemotherapy and radiation, with the aim of developing clinical trials for participants with glioblastoma.

While scientists have been studying glioblastoma for decades, Lawler says that there haven’t been many significant therapeutic breakthroughs, until now.

“Over the past 20 years or so, there haven’t been many findings of note that have really impacted survival in a meaningful way, so we are very eagerly looking for new approaches,” Lawler says. “This research offers a new approach, and that’s why we’re so excited about it.”

Additional coauthors are from Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Phosphorex, Inc./Cytodigm, Inc.; and Brown.

The National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation supported the work.

Source: Brown University

The post Traditional medicine compound drug fights glioblastoma in mice appeared first on Futurity.

Is this article about Climate?
Insect pollination is a decisive process for the survival and evolution of angiosperm (flowering) plants and, to a lesser extent, gymnosperms (without visible flower or fruit). There is a growing interest in studies on the origins of the relationship between insects and plants, especially in the current context of the progressive decline of pollinating insects on a global scale and its impact on food production.
Is this article about Climate?
Insect pollination is a decisive process for the survival and evolution of angiosperm (flowering) plants and, to a lesser extent, gymnosperms (without visible flower or fruit). There is a growing interest in studies on the origins of the relationship between insects and plants, especially in the current context of the progressive decline of pollinating insects on a global scale and its impact on food production.
Quantum light source goes fully on-chip, bringing scalability to the quantum cloud
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
An international team of researchers from Leibniz University Hannover (Germany), the University of Twente (Netherlands), and the start-up company QuiX Quantum has presented an entangled quantum light source fully integrated for the first time on a chip. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Photonics.
New approach estimates long-term coastal cliff loss
In parts of California's iconic mountainous coasts, breathtaking beauty is punctuated by brusque signs warning spectators to stay back from unstable cliffs. The dangers of coastal erosion are an all-too-familiar reality for the modern residents of these communities. Now, with a new tool, researchers are bringing historical perspective to the hotly debated topic of how to manage these disappearing coastlines.
NASA plans could threaten the future of New Horizons
Is this article about Tech?
The New Horizons mission currently flying through the Kuiper Belt could be facing an unexpected change of plans. NASA's Science Mission Directorate is soliciting input on turning the spacecraft into a heliospheric science probe. The agency wants to do it much sooner than mission planners intended. If that happens, it will stop further planned planetary exploration of objects in that distant regime of the solar system.
Expert discusses the rising political tide of young adults, Gen Z
Is this article about Politics?
The expulsion of two Black state Democratic lawmakers in their 20s by the predominantly white, Republican-controlled Tennessee House in late March ignited backlash across the country. Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were ousted for rallying in the House with local activists and student protesters in support of stricter gun controls following a school shooting in Nashville that left six dead. Both men were voted back into office last week.
Is this article about Food Science?
 (GPT) has become one of the most talked-about innovations in recent years, with over 100 million users worldwide. However, there is still limited knowledge about the sources of information GPT utilizes. As a result, we carried out a study focusing on the sources of information within the field of environmental science. Our study, available on the arXiv preprint server, aims to address the research question: "Does ChatGPT predominantly cite the most-cited publications in environmental science?"
Coastal species persist on high seas on floating plastic debris
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
The high seas have been colonized by a surprising number of coastal marine invertebrate species, which can now survive and reproduce in the open ocean, contributing strongly to the floating community composition. This finding was published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution by a team of researchers led by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa.
The prevalence and distribution of aminoglycoside resistance genes
Is this article about Cell?
Choosing the appropriate antibiotics to treat bacterial infections has grown more challenging because of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 
, as broad-spectrum antibiotics, are increasingly being used clinically; however, for most effective employment of aminoglycosides, a comprehensive understanding of aminoglycoside resistance genes' prevalence and dissemination is required.
PSR J0901-4046 is the most magnetized radio pulsar known, study finds
Astronomers have investigated an ultraslow radio pulsar known as PSR J0901-4046, finding that it has an extremely high magnetic field—at a level of 30 quadrillion Gauss. The discovery, published April 7 in Physical Review D, makes PSR J0901-4046 the most magnetized radio pulsar known to date.
Molecular module coordinates plant cell wall formation and adaptive growth
The plant cell walls represent the cellular basis for plant architecture and constitute the major component of plant biomass. Formation of multiple agronomic traits, e.g., plant height and mechanical force, largely depends upon orderly deposition of plant cell walls and precise control of cell wall biosynthesis. Therefore, cell wall accumulation is tightly coupled with various biological processes of plant growth and development.
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
The high seas have been colonized by a surprising number of coastal marine invertebrate species, which can now survive and reproduce in the open ocean, contributing strongly to the floating community composition. This finding was published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution by a team of researchers led by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa.
Why Does Contact Say So Much About God?

“As I imagine it,” Carl Sagan once said, “there will be a multilayered message. First there is a beacon, an announcement signal, something that says, Pay attentionThis is not some natural astronomical phenomenon. This is a signal from intelligent beings … Then, the next layer is one that says, This message is directed specifically to you guys on Earth. It isn’t directed to anybody else. And the third part of the message is the real content, which is a very complex set of data in a new language, which is also explained.”

He was describing his novel, Contact, a 370-or-so-page answer, literally or in spirit, to every question we can ask about how finding alien intelligence might go. Yes, there’s conflict and strife—acts of terrorism, government obstruction, frustration and loss and death—but at its core the story promises an inviting cosmos. A door opening to a galactic community. We’re not only not alone but also welcomed. This hope is central to the idealistic origins of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), to Sagan’s motivations as a scientist and communicator. It also makes it especially weird that the novel ends with its heroine finding proof that God is real, but we’ll get to that.

The heroine of Contact is Eleanor Arroway, a SETI researcher whose observatory receives a signal coming from the star Vega. It’s a string of prime numbers, indisputably unnatural. Beneath the beacon of the prime numbers, the signal is decoded to be a rebroadcast of Hitler’s 1936 Olympics address—the first Earth transmission made at a high enough frequency to slip through the atmosphere. (Sending Hitler back to us turns out to mean Hi, we got your transmission, but it’s certainly alarming at first.) Buried beneath that video is what comes to be called the Message, which contains instructions for building a Machine. No one knows what to expect when the Machine launches on New Year’s Eve in 1999. To outside observers, it spins for 20 minutes and then stops; but the travelers onboard—including Ellie—experience a much longer trip through a series of wormholes to the center of the galaxy, where the senders of the Message await.

Nowadays, SETI researchers offer far less fantastical possibilities, reframing their search not as one for messages or signals but for technosignatures—such as Dyson spheres or a radio signal leaking out from an alien transmitter. But Sagan and his generation of the first SETI pioneers were looking for a capital-Message in their nonfictional lives too.

[Read: A new age of UFO mania]

SETI as a scientific discipline was born in the aftermath of World War II, at the dawn of the Cold War. Humanity was newly possessed of the power to truly destroy itself, and the detonation of two atomic bombs in war had not taken our fingers off the button. A signal from an advanced alien civilization would be proof that advanced civilizations could exist, could survive their own technological power and thrive. And maybe, Sagan and his colleagues hoped, whoever was out there would know that a nascent technological power needed help, in the form of technology or advice or something we couldn’t even imagine.

In Contact, the Machine and the journey its passengers take are not the life raft. The life raft is the Machine’s construction on Earth. “In a world gingerly experimenting with major divestitures of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, the Message was taken by whole populations as a reason for hope,” Sagan writes. “For decades, young people had tried not to think too carefully about tomorrow. Now there might be a benign future after all.” The Message is icing—it would be enough just to know someone is out there.

Jill Tarter, the SETI scientist on whom Ellie Arroway is sometimes said to be based, believes SETI offers hope, too, that the power is in the search, not the discovery. She told me, “Our ability to do these searches has the effect of holding up a mirror to a human and saying, Look in that mirror. Compared to something else out there, you are all the same. We humans are all the same.” Whether our looming fear is nuclear winter, climate change, or some other civilizational end, we hope for something or someone to shock us out of our inaction.

Ann Druyan calls this thing that SETI might give us “human self-esteem.” Druyan was married to Sagan from 1981 until his death in 1996, and she told me that, among their many collaborations, she co-wrote Contact. (Only Sagan’s name appeared on the book, but Druyan is listed as a producer of the film Contact and credited alongside Sagan for the story.) Druyan’s “human self-esteem,” that ephemeral enlightenment, is at the heart of Contact, more meaningful in the end than technological advances or cosmic journeys.

During Ellie’s journey in the Machine, the aliens give her almost everything she could hope for, save proof of her story to bring back to Earth. Ellie wants a taste of information about the cosmos, the aliens, everything she doesn’t know. But what the aliens really offer is a mirror. That’s what Sagan offers the reader, too, hoping that some fraction of what real contact might do to humanity could be communicated through fiction.

“You humans have a certain talent for adaptability—at least in the short term,” the alien tells her. But, he concedes, “you can see that, after a while, the civilizations with only short-term perspectives just aren’t around. They work out their destinies also.”


It’s not a grim prediction so much as a warning. And the alien does offer Ellie inspiration as well, with a view of the vast work ancient civilizations are capable of across the universe. He tells her of a collective of many galaxies engineering the cosmos. “You mustn’t think of the universe as a wilderness. It hasn’t been that for billions of years,” he says. “Think of it more as … cultivated.” But even these gardeners and architects are not the most powerful, or the most ancient, beings in the universe.

There always needs to be someone older or more powerful, it seems. Some mystery. The Star Maker behind the curtain. The builders who, billions of years ago, ran off to no-one-knows-where, if where even applies. We’re left with artifacts and clues, scraps of messages and wonder.

[Read: Should we be searching for smart aliens or dumb aliens?]

Ellie asks the alien to tell her about his myths and religions. “What fills you with awe? Or are those who make the numinous unable to feel it?” And so he tells her about pi. And this is where, it seems to me, we’re being told that God exists. The alien tells Ellie there’s a message in binary hidden in pi, and when she gets back to Earth, she sets an algorithm to deciphering it. On the very last page of the novel, her computer finds an anomaly in pi when expressed in base-11, a sequence of ones and zeros that, when printed out on a grid, reveals a perfect circle. “The galaxy was made on purpose, the circle said.”

At first thought, I find it extraordinarily strange that Contact, a book about the power of scientific inquiry as a source of awe and self-discovery, would end with proof that God is real. Not the God of Jesus or Abraham or anyone else, but some creator, some Star Maker who embedded a message in math. Ellie’s journey, though she is an atheist, is one of faith—her SETI research is motivated by a belief in something bigger beyond Earth; upon her return, she has no proof aside from experience of the journey.

But maybe faith in the numinous by way of alien contact isn’t so distinct from proof of the intentional creation of the universe. Druyan told me, “It’s the laws of the universe as a kind of holy, sacred thing … Not punitive, not judgmental, not telling you what to eat or who to love. But the idea that the laws of this universe are knowable … There is something sacred in discovering these laws.”

By expanding our sense of the scope of the world, science fiction and fantasy “have the same central function as myth and theology,” writes Ryan Calvey in his doctoral thesis, “Transcendent Outsiders, Alien Gods, and Aspiring Humans.” As the anthropologist John Traphagan points out, “It is no accident that SETI arose in a cultural context heavily shaped by Christianity and its inherent assumptions about the existence of a higher being.” In Contact, the alien offers Ellie not just knowledge and information but a benevolent attention focused on humanity, offering us a small nudge in the direction of peaceful survival. Even if our worldview doesn’t include God, we want to be able to see ourselves through his eyes. For context, for insight, but also to know we’re okay.

Despite our decades of technology and centuries of civilization, we are children in the gaze of these beings. But there’s something reassuring about that; it’s the same as how I still want my mom when I’m sick. If we’re children, then our mistakes are just the messy path of learning; if we’re children, the grown-ups can still come and help. We don’t want this violent, greedy, suffering version of humanity to be our final form. Transcendent outsiders give us hope and, hopefully, guidance. But even just knowing they are out there—and that they are reaching toward us—could be enough to change the world.

This article has been excerpted from Jaime Green’s new book, The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos.

Scenes From Coachella 2023

Thousands of music fans gathered once again for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, to hear performances by artists on multiple stages, including sets by Blondie, Rosalía, Gorillaz, Björk, Burna Boy, Blink-182, Porter Robinson, Blackpink, Boygenius, and many more. Gathered below are images of this year’s performances and concertgoers during the first weekend of Coachella 2023.

Is this article about Cell?
Choosing the appropriate antibiotics to treat bacterial infections has grown more challenging because of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 
, as broad-spectrum antibiotics, are increasingly being used clinically; however, for most effective employment of aminoglycosides, a comprehensive understanding of aminoglycoside resistance genes' prevalence and dissemination is required.
The plant cell walls represent the cellular basis for plant architecture and constitute the major component of plant biomass. Formation of multiple agronomic traits, e.g., plant height and mechanical force, largely depends upon orderly deposition of plant cell walls and precise control of cell wall biosynthesis. Therefore, cell wall accumulation is tightly coupled with various biological processes of plant growth and development.
Parents have mixed feeling about teens working
A young woman working as a grocery produce stocker.

Parents see upsides and downsides to teens working, a new poll finds.

In many families, getting a job is a rite of passage for teens. However, teens can experience both positive and negative consequences.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked a national sample of parents of teens 14-18 years about their experiences related to teenagers and jobs.

In thinking about whether a job is appropriate for their teen, parents rate the following factors as very important: whether the hours fit with their teen’s schedule (87%), convenience of getting them to and from the job (68%), whether the work provides a learning experience (54%), pay rate (34%), and the other teens who work there (25%).

Most parents consider themselves very (29%) or somewhat (52%) informed about state laws for teen employment.

Over half of parents of 18-year-olds (53%) say their teen has a formal job, compared to 42% of parents of teens 16-17 years and 8% of parents of teens 14-15 years. Among these parents, 26% estimate their teen works ≥20 hours a week. Parents say teens use their job money to pay for personal items (82%) or activities (29%), for savings (75%), or to help with family expenses (8%).

Parents of working teens believe having a formal job has a positive impact on their teen’s money management (76%), self-esteem (70%), time management (63%), and social life (28%). They cite a negative impact on their teen’s sleep (16%), activities (11%), social life (11%), and grades (4%).

In addition, 44% report their teen has experienced problems at work, including not getting as many hours as promised (26%), having to work more hours or later hours (18%), disagreements with coworkers or managers (14%), unsafe situations in the workplace (6%), and incorrect or delayed pay (6%).

Parents of teens who don’t have a formal job express concerns that having a job could negatively affect their teen’s grades (44%), involvement in activities (44%), sleep (42%), or social life (23%).

Some parents expect their teen 16-18 years (42%) or 14-15 years (22%) to get a job within the next 6 months. Parents say factors that may prevent their teen from getting a job include being too busy (34%), transportation (27%), lack of jobs for teens (14%), having to help at home (6%), school (5%), or health (4%).

Working can offer teens the opportunity to gain experience, make new friends, and earn money. Many parents observe that having a job helps their teen improve their time management and money management. At the same time, parents worry that it can interfere with a teen’s schoolwork, extracurricular activities, social life, and sleep schedule, which can cause negative effect on the teen’s mental and physical health.

Benefits are more likely to occur when teens are in a job that is appropriate for their circumstances. In the poll, parents prioritized logistical factors, the foremost being whether the job would fit the teen’s schedule. This should be broadly considered, to include the time needed for schoolwork, extracurricular activities, family commitments, and planned social events, as well as the time to get to and from the job.

Being realistic about these practical considerations may prevent subsequent conflicts and avoid setting the teen up for negative consequences.

Many teens will need guidance in trying to find a suitable job. Parents can encourage teens to use multiple strategies, including online postings, asking other teens for suggestions, or going to a business and asking directly about potential positions. Offering advice on how to dress and behave during a job interview, and role-playing the types of questions employers might ask, may help teens feel more comfortable and confident during the interview.

Parents can also help teens develop a list of their own questions to ask during the interview, focused on making sure the job will meet their practical considerations and priorities. For example, if the teen is available only on certain days, it’s important to verify that the employer will meet that schedule limitation; otherwise, the job may negatively affect their sleep, stress level, and other areas of life.

When teens begin a new job, parents should watch for any signs of a negative impact on the teen’s physical or mental health. Teens may feel anxious about being in an unfamiliar situation, having someone evaluate their performance, and dealing with more demands on their time. Having regular conversations about what’s happening at work creates an opportunity for parents to provide support and encouragement, and share advice, while they are assessing whether the job is too much of a burden.

As reported in the poll, nearly half of parents of working teens indicated their teen had experienced job-related problems, including working longer hours than expected and unsafe work situations. Parents should be aware of state laws related to teen employment, including limitations on total hours and on the times that teens are allowed to work, as well as safety measures such as rules around operating equipment. If parents suspect problems in any of these areas, they should encourage their teen to find a different job that supports their health and safety.

Although younger teens 14-15 years are allowed to hold a formal job in many states, the options may be limited. Babysitting or lawn mowing are a good option to allow teens to gain confidence and experience. Parents can help younger teens get started by introducing them to friends and neighbors who may have informal tasks, by outlining how to do a good job, and talking with them about different challenges they may encounter.

Whether a teen has a formal or informal job, parents may want to establish some guidance for what teens do with their earnings. For many families, teens use their earnings for “extras”—personal items that go beyond what parents provide.

In other circumstances, teens are expected to use earnings to cover the costs of participating in extracurricular activities or to save for college. In other situations, teens may be asked to contribute to family expenses. Setting expectations will help parents and teens avoid conflict in this area.

Source: University of Michigan

The post Parents have mixed feeling about teens working appeared first on Futurity.

Thought leader @s

I don't know if this is allowed here and forgive me if so. I'm curious whom a lot of you follow on Twitter for cutting-edge news/thoughts on AI and arcs of the future. I know there are some real jewels out there from people and organizations really putting in the work, I would like to expand on my axis with new eyes and ears.

If its not too much, I would like for people to list the people/organizations they follow on Twitter (or any other social) along with a brief summary of their specialty or why they follow them.

Thanks in advance!

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What hypothetical futurism beliefs have been disproven?

One of the best things about science is that it is constantly evolving and being re-written. Theories and predictions have constantly been superseded or modified when the technology creates it or more evidence is found that does not support it. This is very important for futurism, as most of what is discussed is speculative until it is not.

Self-driving cars. Everyone thought they thought they would be dominating the roads by now. Yet, the reality is that the technology isn't there yet when it comes to safe driving AND (an example of sociofuturology), most people do not feel comfortable not being in control of their car.

What are some other examples of scientific predictions about how science works that we learned or just not true?

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Is this article about Cell?
Scientists can now use light to activate protein functions both inside and outside of living cells. The new method, called light-activated SpyLigation, can turn on proteins that are normally off to allow researchers to study and control them in more detail. This technology has potential uses in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and understanding how the body works.
Webb captures the spectacular galactic merger Arp 220
Shining like a brilliant beacon amidst a sea of galaxies, Arp 220 lights up the night sky in this view from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Actually two spiral galaxies in the process of merging, Arp 220 glows brightest in infrared light, making it an ideal target for Webb. It is an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) with a luminosity of more than a trillion suns. In comparison, our Milky Way galaxy has a much more modest luminosity of about ten billion suns.
SpyLigation technology uses light to switch on proteins
Is this article about Cell?
Scientists can now use light to activate protein functions both inside and outside of living cells. The new method, called light-activated SpyLigation, can turn on proteins that are normally off to allow researchers to study and control them in more detail. This technology has potential uses in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and understanding how the body works.
How a biological clock molecule leads to lung scarring
Is this article about Neuroscience?
White alarm clocks in rows on an orange background.

New research shows how a biological clock molecule, called REV-ERBα, contributes to lung 


, uncovering new potential drugs and drug targets along the way.

Abnormal sleep patterns, like those of night-shift workers, disrupt the body’s natural biological clock and have been linked to lung health issues.



, or lung scarring, is a serious condition in which connective tissue builds up in the lungs, making them thick and rigid, and causing difficulty breathing. While medications can ease the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis, none can repair the lung damage caused by this sometimes-fatal disease.

The new study, which appears in Nature Communications, confirms a previously-discovered link between the body’s biological clock (or circadian rhythm) and lung diseases and uncovers a new mechanism underlying this link.

The research shows that a lack of the circadian rhythm protein, REV-ERBα, contributes to lung scarring in mice by increasing production of collagen, a major component of connective tissue, and lysyl oxidase, which stabilizes connective tissue and makes it more rigid.

The team found low levels of REV-ERBα and large amounts of collagen and lysyl oxidase in lung samples from patients with pulmonary fibrosis. Inducing lung injury in mice had a similar outcome: reduced REV-ERBα levels and increased levels of collagen, lysyl oxidase, and other markers of fibrosis.

As a circadian rhythm protein, REV-ERBα expression normally fluctuates throughout the day, peaking at noon and dipping to its lowest levels at midnight. When the team induced lung injury at night, mice had larger increases in lysyl oxidase and collagen proteins, more extensive lung damage, and lower survival rates compared to mice injured in the morning.

This could be relevant to night-shift workers who are exposed to lung irritants at work, says lead author Irfan Rahman, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Night-shift work usually occurs during the midnight timeframe when the expression of REV-ERBα is lowest,” he says. “Our study suggests there is less protection against lung fibrosis generated from REV-ERBα activation at night.”

When the team induced lung injury in genetically modified mice that express low levels of REV-ERBα, the mice had worse outcomes that appeared to be mediated by increased collagen and lysyl oxidase. After 15 days of infection with influenza A, these mice had greater upregulation of collagen and lysyl oxidase gene expression, worse flu infections, and worse lung injury compared with mice who expressed normal levels of REV-ERBα.

Activating REV-ERBα with a drug 14 days after lung injury in mice that express normal levels of REV-ERBα slightly reduced collagen and lysyl oxidase gene expression and improved lung health in the mice, though not significantly. When tested in cell cultures, the REV-ERBα-activating drugs had an anti-fibrotic effect.

“Currently, there are only two drugs approved by the FDA to treat fibrosis, and they only delay the process, they don’t cure the disease,” says study author Qixin Wang, a postdoctoral fellow working in Rahman’s lab. “REV-ERBα-activating drugs could serve as potential therapeutics to help prevent fibrosis and stop the disease process.”

But, he adds, a better REV-ERBα drug or a more direct way to deliver the drug is needed. In their studies, mice treated with the REV-ERBα-activating drug SR9009 lost more weight and had lower survival than untreated mice.

While further research is needed, Rahman and Wang believe their findings open new possibilities for developing treatments for all sorts of fibrotic diseases—especially those with a circadian component, like nighttime alcohol consumption causing liver fibrosis.

Source: University of Rochester

The post How a biological clock molecule leads to lung scarring appeared first on Futurity.

Google Surprised When Experimental AI Learns Language It Was Never Trained On
Like a human possessed, an AI made by Google appears to know things it wasn't trained to learn — and yeah, it's freaking us out. 

Linguistic Nightmare

Like a human possessed, 


's artificial intelligence appears to know things it shouldn't — and yeah, it's freaking us out.

In an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, Google tech exec James Manyika admitted that the company's AI had somehow learned a language on which it had not been trained.

"We discovered that with very few amounts of prompting in Bengali," Manyika said, "it can now translate all of Bengali."

As CBS notes, these kinds of "emergent properties" are "mysterious" and continue to puzzle developers even as they become more and more common.


Black Hole

Later in the interview, CEO Sundar Pichai also affirmed that there is indeed some weird stuff going on with AI that even experts can't explain.

"There is an aspect of this which we call — all of us in the field call it as a 'black box,'" he said in the interview. "You don’t fully understand. And you can’t quite tell why it said this."

If you're weirded out by this concept, you're not at all alone — CBS interviewer Scott Pelley also questioned Pichai about how safe it was for Google to "turn [its AI] loose on society" if its own developers "don't fully understand how it works."

The CEO's retort: "I don’t think we fully understand how a human mind works, either."

More on Google AI: A Specific Innocuous Phrase Sends Google's AI Into an Existential Crisis

The post Google Surprised When Experimental AI Learns Language It Was Never Trained On appeared first on Futurism.

Sargassum is a genus of brown seaweed. Over 300 species are distributed across the world in both temperate and tropical climates. The species fluitans and natans are unique because they spend their life cycle floating on the ocean, never attaching to the sea floor. Other seaweed species reproduce and begin life on the ocean floor .
Sargassum is a genus of brown seaweed. Over 300 species are distributed across the world in both temperate and tropical climates. The species fluitans and natans are unique because they spend their life cycle floating on the ocean, never attaching to the sea floor. Other seaweed species reproduce and begin life on the ocean floor .
Feedly AI found 1 Product Launches mention in this article
  • TikTok's new "bold glamor" filter "enhances" physical features in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish whether someone is using a filter or not, despite its airbrushing qualities.
's new "bold glamor" filter "enhances" physical features in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish whether someone is using a filter or not, despite its airbrushing qualities.
Little Richard and the Truth About Rock and Roll’s Queer Origins
Is this article about Entertainment?

“What would it do to the American mythology of rock music to say that its pioneers were Black, queer people?” the ethnomusicologist Fredara Hadley asks in the new documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything, out Friday. It’s a valid question, and the film offers an exuberant answer. In order to tell the story of the pathbreaking piano-rocker whose work still pulses in roadside diners and on wedding dance floors, the director, Lisa Cortés, uses animated sparkles and montages of rainbow fringe and high heels. Along with Hall of Famers such as Mick Jagger, commentary comes from the ever-fabulous actor Billy Porter and a few Black scholars of gender, race, and the arts. They argue that “Tutti Frutti” was not just a hot song; it was a Molotov cocktail lobbed at the heteropatriarchy.  

All of this may sound like a provocation, but it’s mostly an assertion of fact. In addition to popularizing the combo of chugging-train drum beats and lusty wails, Little Richard personally tutored the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and directly inspired James Brown and David Bowie. A wearer of eyeliner who variously described himself as gay or omnisexual over the years, he built upon a preexisting queer lineage. When Richard’s father threw him out of his Macon, Georgia, home at an early age, Richard was taken in by the owners of a queer-leaning nightclub. He’d soon learn from drag queens, bawdy chanteuses, and a few Black singers now legendary for defying gender norms: the gospel guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who brought Little Richard onstage for the first time; the bouffant-wearing Esquerita, who taught him to play piano; and the “Prince of the Blues,” Billy Wright, who inspired his love of makeup.

Little of this history is unknown or hidden. Indeed, the energy coursing through this essayistic documentary comes in large part from Richard’s own self-mythologizing. He often touted his own importance as the “architect,” rightful “king,” and “quasar”—brightest star—of rock and roll. He spoke matter-of-factly about sex and sexuality (he was also, he said, the “queen” of rock and roll). As it retells his rise, Cortés’s film suggests how so flamboyant a figure became widely beloved in the face of racism and homophobia: To some white audiences, a feminized Black man was less threatening than any other kind. The movie also explores how cultural appropriation—or “obliteration,” as the writer and sociologist Zandria Robinson calls it—long kept Richard from getting his due (recent years have begun to see broader recognition of the debt that Elvis and other white rockers owed him).

[Read: Little Richard set the mold by breaking it]

Really the film wants to argue for an inextricable, even metaphysical, connection between Richard’s impact and his identity. “Queerness is not just about sexuality but about a presence in a space that is different from what we require or expect—different from the norm,” Robinson says at one point. According to this framework, Richard’s musical breakthroughs had revolutionary social effects, inviting segregated and repressed audiences to integrate and loosen up. His example liberated Paul McCartney to scream and Jagger to shimmy, and made it possible for Lil Nas X and Miley Cyrus to simultaneously scandalize and seduce audiences today.

This view of Richard is inspiring and convincing. But it squares awkwardly with the fact that Richard, at various times throughout his life, aligned with conservative Christianity and renounced his past work. The first epiphany happened in 1957, when Richard witnessed what he believed to be apocalyptic omens while on tour. He then enrolled at a Seventh-day Adventist college in Alabama, where he reportedly told students that he would buy back and destroy any records of his that they owned. He would return to, and escape from, the secular musical world a few times in the decades to come. The final years of his life were spent ensconced in church life. His public speaking emphasized the incompatibility of rock and roll—and his formerly gay lifestyle—with the teachings of Jesus.

What happened? A few reasons for his religiosity seem apparent. As a kid, Richard dreamed of becoming a minister like his father. As Jagger notes in the documentary, if you have the idea that secular music is the devil’s music drilled into you during childhood, you’re going to have a complicated adulthood as a secular musician. Watching the film, it also becomes apparent that many of Richard’s Christian awakenings coincided with moments when the excesses of his rock-star life were especially pronounced: a long-haul tour in the ’50s, a period of heavy drug use in the ’70s.

[Read: ‘Rock and roll ain’t what it used to be’]

What the documentary doesn’t note are the familiar, even poignant, dimensions of Richard’s seemingly shocking reversals. Many other iconoclastic musicians—Prince, Ye (formerly Kanye West), Bob Dylan—have, at various points, found God and begun reevaluating or neglecting their earlier work. The history of popular music is in part a history of bold people changing the world, being rewarded with riches, and then facing the question of how to survive burnout, addiction, and the waning of public affection. Endless rebellion is taxing and has, for many stars, proved fatal—is it that surprising for religion to beckon as a refuge? To a viewer of the film, Richard’s spiritual journey raises questions about him as a human, not a symbol. I wanted to understand his significance to the church communities he joined; I wanted to know whether those around him found him to be at peace in his later years.

The documentary, however, mostly treats Richard’s sanctified chapters as a disappointment, a counterrevolutionary subplot. Robinson notes the “harm” Richard caused when he started spouting homophobia. Sir Lady Java, a trans performer who was a good friend of Richard’s, says, “I feel he betrayed gay people … But I do understand. You’re not strong enough to take it. I understand that.” “Harm” and “betrayed” aren’t overstating the case: As today’s legislative and cultural campaigns against queer rights show, what public figures say matters. Still, it’s hard not to also read a tinge of personal judgment in the movie’s appraisals. The scholar Jason King puts Richard’s trajectory this way: “He was very, very good at liberating other people through his example. He was not good at liberating himself.” The film sometimes takes an elegiac, near-tragic tone—which is a bit strange when you consider that Richard died at the ripe old age of 87, with his cultural renown secure and his energies having been devoted to personal salvation.

As the title I Am Everything hints, the film wants to do what Richard once did: make space for complex, unruly expression. But conflating personal identity with political projects, construing queerness so broadly that it becomes a synonym for subversive, sometimes flattens reality. Queer people can be revolutionaries, but they’re also negotiators, crowd-pleasers, survivors. How telling that the “Tutti Frutti” that changed the world was not the bawdy version that Richard originally wrote—“If it don’t fit, don’t force it”—but the one he allowed to be toned down by the songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie, who’s shown in full church-lady regalia in I Am Everything. Little Richard’s life was no tidy story of transcendence from his times and circumstances, because no one’s is. What he showed is that rock and roll, like queerness, is not a break from the past but a dance with it.

A zebrafish model of senescence for rapid testing
Senescence (the process of growing old) drives the onset and severity of multiple aging-associated diseases and frailty. As a result, there has been an increased interest in mechanistic studies and the search for compounds targeting senescent cells. Current methods are both expensive and time consuming but researchers from the University of Sheffield's Healthy Lifespan Institute have found an answer to the problem.
Senescence (the process of growing old) drives the onset and severity of multiple aging-associated diseases and frailty. As a result, there has been an increased interest in mechanistic studies and the search for compounds targeting senescent cells. Current methods are both expensive and time consuming but researchers from the University of Sheffield's Healthy Lifespan Institute have found an answer to the problem.
Arguments against duality from a Cognitive Science point of view??

In many subs on Reddit, people discuss duality as real. The word "Fact" gets thrown around. Where mental and physical are separate according to them. The "Self is an illusion". Thinker is separate from the body, atleast thinks it is, hence the term "Self is an illusion". What are the arguments against duality from a Cognitive Science point of view?

submitted by /u/vookxii
[link] [comments]
New Smart Glasses Tell You What to Say on Dates Using GPT-4
A team of Stanford students have come up with a pair of smart glasses that can display the output of OpenAI's GPT-4 chatbot.

Charisma as a Service

A team of crafty student researchers at Stanford University have come up with a pair of smart glasses that can display the output of OpenAI's 


 large language model — potentially giving you a leg up during the next job interview, or even coaching you during your next date.

The device, dubbed rizzGPT, offers its wearer "real-time Charisma as a Service" (CaaS) and "listens to your conversation and tells you exactly what to say next," as Stanford student Bryan Hau-Ping Chiang explained in a recent tweet.

"Say goodbye to awkward dates and job interviews," Chiang wrote.


Ear Worm

The glasses were made using a monocle-like device that can be snapped onto practically any glasses, built and donated by Brilliant Labs. It features a camera, microphone, and a high-resolution display that can output text generated by GPT-4.

OpenAI's speech recognition software, Whisper, allows the glasses to feed speech directly to the chatbot, which can generate answers in a matter of seconds to its wearer.

"Hi Varun, I hear you're looking for a job to teach React Native," Stanford instructor Alix Cui asked during a brief demo posted to Twitter.

The smart glasses' generated text, which was displayed on the device's tiny screen and read aloud by Stanford's Varun Shenoy, did feel a little stunted.

"Thank you for your interest," Shenoy replied, as prompted by the glasses. "I've been studying React Native for the past few months and I am confident that I have the skills and knowledge necessary for the job."

Judging by the fact that Shenoy kept stumbling over his own words while reading from the tiny screen, there's plenty of work to be done until such a device can be seamlessly used during a job interview, let alone a date.

But that might actually be a good thing. After all, entirely trusting GTP-4 with what to say during an encounter with a potential partner or employer is a terrible idea — and would almost certainly make things a million times more awkward than it already is.

More on OpenAI: Major News Site Warns ChatGPT Is Inaccurate, Announces Plans to Use It Anyway

The post New Smart Glasses Tell You What to Say on Dates Using GPT-4 appeared first on Futurism.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
Conventional transportation equipment relies heavily on steel. But steel is heavy, and scientists are turning to alternatives in the quest to improve the safety and speed of transportation, while simultaneously lessening its environmental footprint.
X-rays reveal electronic details of nickel-based superconductors
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered new details about the electrons in a nickel-based family of superconducting materials. The research, described in two papers published in Physical Review X, reveals that these nickel-based materials have certain similarities with—and key differences from—copper-based superconductors. Comparing the two kinds of "high-temperature" superconductors may help scientists zero in on key features essential for these materials' remarkable ability to carry electrical current without losing energy as heat.
A trio of archaeologists from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina, the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Institute of Research for Development, France, has found more than 100 pre-Hispanic religious sites that they believe are linked to ancient Andean cults in Bolivia. In their paper published in the journal Antiquity, Pablo Cruz, Richard Joffre and Jean Vacher, describe the sites they found and highlight one in particular that stood out from the rest.
Animals Are Migrating to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
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  • The scientists teamed up with the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that was testing technology for removing trash from the gyre, to collect and freeze 105 pieces of garbage.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch does not seem like it would be a hospitable place. It is more than 1,000 miles from the nearest streak of land. The sun is brutal and unrelenting there, the waters nutrient poor. There is nothing much to see except the eponymous garbage.

But look more closely at this plastic garbage, as scientists did recently, and you’ll find plenty of life: sea anemones as small as a pinky nail or as large as the palm of your hand; white, lacelike bryozoahydroids sprouting like orange feathers; shrimplike amphipods; Japanese oysters; mussels. None of these creatures belongs here. They are all coastal animals, adapted to the turbulent, nutrient-rich shores where water meets land, but they have all somehow learned to survive in the open sea, clinging to plastic.

According to a new study, these animals are now living side by side in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with creatures that normally inhabit the middle of the ocean. Coastal and open-sea ecosystems are blurring together into a single, plastic-bound one. “As humans, we are creating new types of ecosystems that have potentially never been seen before,” says Ceridwen Fraser, a biogeographer at the University of Otago, who was not involved in the study. The Garbage Patch, far from being some barren wasteland, is the site of an active experiment in biology.

Coastal podded hydroid Aglaophenia pluma and open-ocean gooseneck barnacles Lepas living on floating plastic collected in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. (Photo courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup, in coordination with Smithsonian Institution)
Coastal podded hydroid and open-ocean gooseneck barnacles live on floating plastic. (Courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup, in coordination with Smithsonian Institution)

The scientists behind this study were originally intrigued by debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami: Even after six years, debris was still washing up in the U.S. laden with creatures native to the Japanese coast. The scientists counted more than 60 species of mollusks alone. If coastal creatures could survive a six-year ocean crossing on plastic, how much longer could they survive? Could they be living on the high seas permanently? Ocean currents tend to trap floating objects in one of five gyres around the world, the most infamous of which is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between California and Hawaii. If coastal animals have found a new, plastic-based home anywhere in the open ocean, it would be here.

The “patch” is less a solid island of trash than a soupy swirl of debris ranging from microscopic pieces of plastic to larger objects such as fishing nets and buoys. Getting there is not easy, because it is so far from land. The scientists teamed up with the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that was testing technology for removing trash from the gyre, to collect and freeze 105 pieces of garbage. Linsey Haram, then a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, remembers traveling to a California port in late 2018 to pick up trash bags full of nets, bottles, buoys, flower pots, clothes hangers, and buckets. She and her colleagues found coastal species on 70.5 percent of the debris. “We expected to find some; we just didn’t expect to find them at such frequency and diversity,” Haram told me. These migrants were not a minor part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch ecosystem.

On two-thirds of the objects—essentially tiny floating islands—animals native to coasts were living side by side with animals native to the open ocean. They were smashed together into a single ecosystem and even a single food chain; for example, Haram told me, the coastal sea anemones were eating sea snails. The team also found evidence of the animals reproducing: The anemones were budding off tiny baby anemones, and some of the female crustaceans carried little broods of eggs. This suggests that they have taken up permanent residence and aren’t just eking it out temporarily.  

Coastal aggregating anemones (Anthopleura sp.) found on a black floating plastic fragment collected in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre through collaboration with The Ocean Cleanup during an expedition in 2018. The anemones pictured show evidence of fission, also known as cloning, through separation of their tissue into a new individual. (Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Linsey Haram)

Coastal aggregating anemones found on a black floating plastic fragment (Courtesy of Linsey Haram / Smithsonian Institution)

Scientists call the ocean surface where water meets sky the “neustonic” or “neustic” habitat. Long before the advent of plastics, this habitat was dominated by natural objects such as kelp, wood, and pumice, on which life could gain a floating toehold. But these were relatively ephemeral. The influx of man-made plastics into the ocean might be “dramatically expanding a long-existing but previously minor habitat,” David Barnes, a marine ecologist with the British Antarctic Survey, told me in an email. It could also change the neustonic habitat in unpredictable ways: Some of the species that once drifted on organic matter, for example, might make the switch to living on plastics better than others. Scientists previously found that a marine insect named Halobates sericeus might actually be benefiting from the abundance of material in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It once had to lay its eggs on the rare floating feather or pumice stone; now it can just use plastic.

The waters around the plastic in the Garbage Patch are teeming with floating life too: Portuguese man o’ wars, blue sea dragons, tiny blue hydrozoans evocatively named by-the-wind sailors. Unlike coastal species that need to hitch a ride on something else, these floating animals likely bobbed here on their own via ocean currents. Little is known about many of them or how the proliferation of tiny plastic islands is affecting them. “We’re trying to learn really basic stuff,” says Rebecca Helm, an ecologist at Georgetown University who has cataloged these creatures in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Cleaning up the plastic around them is not straightforward: Attempts to collect floating debris, she has written, might entrap and threaten these species.

Many of the Garbage Patch objects that Haram and her collaborators found covered with coastal animals come from the fishing industry: nets, buoys, ropes, crates, eeltrap cones. These items last so long in the ocean, she pointed out, precisely because they are engineered to last a long time in seawater. They are part of an industry that has destroyed ocean ecosystems by removing billions of fish and shellfish from their home. Its plastic remnants are now also disrupting old ways of life in the ocean, creating new ways that we never intended and cannot yet imagine.

UK will not have to pay for last two years if it rejoins Horizon scheme, EU says

Confirmation by officials makes it more likely Britain will be re-admitted to €95.5bn European scientific research programme

The UK will not have to pay for the two years it has been out of the EU’s €95.5bn (£84bn) Horizon scientific research programme, EU officials have said, in a significant move that opens the door to British scientists.

The European Commission statement that the UK was not required to pay for 2021 and 2022 when British membership of Horizon was frozen because of a dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol should in theory hasten a deal on British participation.

Continue reading…
Did ‘u’ solve it? Wordplay meets numberplay

The answers to today’s lexical perplexities, and the Pilish prizewinner

Earlier today I set you these problems (and a challenge) about constrained writing, a literary form in which a text must conform to mathematical rules.

Here are the puzzles again, with solutions. And below you will discover who won the Pilish challenge – judged by Sarah Hart, author of the fab new book Once Upon a Prime, about the links between maths and literature.

Continue reading…
Mega rocket Starship could enable new types of astrophysics
Feedly AI found 1 Product Launches mention in this article
  • SpaceX’s Starship is poised to launch.

Nature, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01306-4

SpaceX’s Starship is poised to launch. As well as ferrying astronauts to the Moon and one day Mars, it could launch heavy science payloads, such as telescopes.
Pulsetto Review: Fizzy, Flawed
Is this article about Wearables?
Can the pulsating Pulsetto really reduce stress, improve sleep, and alleviate anxiety? For us, it had a radically different effect.

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37856-4

Author Correction: Absolute measurement of cellular activities using photochromic single-fluorophore biosensors and intermittent quantification
Is this article about Animals?

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37489-7

Lablab is a legume native to Africa and cultivated throughout the tropics for food and forage; however, as an orphan crop, limited genomic resources hampers its genetic improvement. Here, an African-led South-North plant genome collaboration produces an improved genome assembly and population genomic resource to accelerate its breeding.
Stomatal responses of terrestrial plants to global change

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37934-7

Stomatal conductance is an important plant ecophysiological trait and a common parameter in earth system models. This global meta-analysis shows how CO2, warming and other global change factors affect stomatal conductance individually and interactively.
You Can Apparently Use a "USB Condom" to Protect Against the FBI's Latest Boogeyman
The FBI is warning about "juice jacking" occurring from public USB charging ports, but luckily, someone's come up with a literal prophylactic.


The FBI and Federal Communications Commission are warning about the dangers of public USB charging ports — but luckily, someone's come up with a literal prophylactic.

As ZDNet reports, concerns over "

juice jacking

" — rogue charging ports introducing malware or draining your battery in service of turning your phone into miniature crypto mining hubs — are on the rise. In response, experts have come up with "USB condom" dongles, which can be plugged into public ports to add an additional layer of protection, just like a, well, condom.

The only problem? It's unclear just how widespread actual incidents of juice jacking actually are.

Neither these dongles nor the hacking technique they're supposed to protect against are exactly new, and incidents of "USB condoms" and "juice jacking" media mentions go back as far as 2011, as the cybersecurity firm Reversing Labs noted in a recent blog post about the phenomenon.

Who Knows

Reversing Labs isn't the only entity in the cybersecurity space that is skeptical of the claims. We were able to find at least two other experts who expressed misgivings about the FBI's warning.

A public charging kiosk and the Philadelphia international airport also issued statements claiming that the FBI's concerns are overblown, CBS News reports.

Nonetheless, it's better to be safe than sorry. It's pretty freaky to imagine someone stealing your battery to mine crypto or worse, installing malware on your phone that could steal your money.

While we can't exactly vouch for these "USB condoms," it's probably best not to plug your phone into public ports at all — and bring your own external charger the next time you leave the house.

More on cybersecurity: ChatGPT Bug Accidentally Revealed Users' Chat Histories, Email Addresses, and Phone Numbers

The post You Can Apparently Use a "USB Condom" to Protect Against the FBI's Latest Boogeyman appeared first on Futurism.

A Spanish athlete spent 500 days alone in a cave — for science
Beatriz Flamini leaves a cave in Los Gauchos, near the Spanish town of Motril on Friday.

Beatriz Flamini was 48 when she entered the Granada cave in November 2021, and 50 when she emerged on Friday. Her experiment aims to shed light on the physical and mental effects of isolation.

(Image credit: Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images)

Is this article about Climate?
When the sea ice vanishes, Antarctic seals become silent. This is the main conclusion of a new article just published by Dr. Ilse van Opzeeland's research group in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The biologist is currently working at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg (HIFMB).
Less ice means fewer calling seals, finds study
Is this article about Climate?
When the sea ice vanishes, Antarctic seals become silent. This is the main conclusion of a new article just published by Dr. Ilse van Opzeeland's research group in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The biologist is currently working at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg (HIFMB).
We might be able to find evidence for modified gravity in the Earth
Testing the possibility of models of gravity different from general relativity may be closer to home than we think. In a paper published on the arXiv preprint server, a team of researchers has proposed that we might be able to use seismic motions in the Earth itself to test for modified gravity.
She Tracks the DNA of Elusive Species That Hide in Harsh Places

Tracie Seimon discovered her passion for the natural world early. As a child growing up in Colorado, she enjoyed “harvesting insects” from her family backyard and keeping a hobby ant farm. When she saw trees being cut down on television, she would get distraught. She and her father used to study the night sky through a telescope until her curiosity prompted her to disassemble the telescope to…


Metallophiles and their bioremediation applications
Certain species of microbes have evolved to survive in harsh environments, even those that were previously thought to be too extreme to support life. These include environments, such as mines and industrial sewage, that are rich in heavy metals. On the other hand, human exposure to toxic levels of metals, like cadmium and mercury, is known to lead to health risks, including cancer and damage to multiple organ systems.
Certain species of microbes have evolved to survive in harsh environments, even those that were previously thought to be too extreme to support life. These include environments, such as mines and industrial sewage, that are rich in heavy metals. On the other hand, human exposure to toxic levels of metals, like cadmium and mercury, is known to lead to health risks, including cancer and damage to multiple organ systems.
Preparing a renewable route to rubber material
A key ingredient in the manufacture of car tires and sneaker soles could be made sustainably, following new analysis of an old catalytic process. Butadiene, an essential component of synthetic rubber, is currently produced by the petrochemical industry from fossil reserves.
The Violent Fantasy Behind the Texas Governor’s Pardon Demand
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • The state’s stand-your-ground law does not allow those who provoke a confrontation with the aim of using lethal violence to justify their actions as self-defense.

In July 2020, at the height of protests over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, Daniel Perry considered killing someone.

“I might have to kill a few people on my way to work, they are rioting outside my apartment complex,” Perry, then a 35-year-old Army sergeant, wrote to a friend, the Austin Chronicle reported. It wasn’t the first time Perry had spoken about killing people on social media or in messages with friends. On another occasion, Perry mused, “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters.”

After all this talk, Perry did shoot a Black Lives Matter protester in downtown Austin, an Air Force veteran and libertarian activist named Garrett Foster, who had been legally carrying an AK-47 at the protest. Perry, who was working as a rideshare driver, sped his car into the crowd, witnesses said, then opened fire on Foster. Perry claimed that he had acted in self-defense and that Foster had been raising his rifle, but prosecutorial witnesses told the jury during his trial that Foster had done nothing of the sort. “I believe he was going to aim at me,” Perry told police in an initial interview, having called law enforcement and turned himself in after the shooting. “I didn’t want to give him a chance to aim at me.”​​

[Esau McCaulley: America isn’t ready to truly understand the Buffalo shooting]

Thursday night, the judge in Perry’s case unsealed a filing that also contained messages the jury did not see before the verdict. The document shows Perry sharing racist memes, referring to Black protesters as “monkeys,” and musing about “hunting Muslims in Europe.” Perry’s attorneys are reportedly seeking a new trial.  

Perry had lived out his fantasy. There was only one problem: His public and private expressions of violent aggression toward protesters, and his decision to drive his car into the crowd, led a Texas jury to conclude that the shooting was unjustified. The state’s stand-your-ground law does not allow those who provoke a confrontation with the aim of using lethal violence to justify their actions as self-defense. Proving that intent sets a deliberately high standard for prosecutors, because it requires strong evidence of what the accused is thinking. Yet the prosecutors in this case managed to do so in a very gun-friendly state, as the journalist Radley Balko writes, because of “ample evidence that Perry intended to harm the protesters,” including testimony that Perry had asked a friend about the legality of “other incidents in which someone had shot at protesters.” The documentation of ill intent here is unusually comprehensive.  

Convicted of murder, Perry became a right-wing political martyr. Last weekend, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would ask the Texas parole board to recommend a pardon for Perry, following coverage from the Fox News host Tucker Carlson portraying his conviction as unjust and criticizing Abbott. Carlson characterized Perry’s conviction by a jury of his peers in one of the most pro-gun states in the union, not as a result of the atypical volume of evidence, but as a conspiracy by the liberal billionaire George Soros, who paid “people to put his political opponents in jail.” Fox News has a disproportionate influence over the only constituency Abbott heeds, which is Republican primary voters.

At the center of this series of events is the right-wing fantasy of murdering political opponents and getting away with it, one that the firearm industry has used to sell weapons and that ambitious right-wing politicians have used to win votes. Put simply, some conservatives believe that Perry’s conviction was unjust because they do not believe that it should be a crime to kill a Black Lives Matter “rioter,” a description that in the right-wing imagination applies to any and all BLM protesters regardless of their actions.

There are a number of factors involved in the popularity of this fantasy, including urban-rural polarization and the GOP’s decision to press its advantage in an American electoral system that rewards the dispersed geography of its political coalition. This approach demands that Republican leaders feed their supporters a constant diet of culture-war red meat in order to maintain a sense that their constituents’ way of life is in danger of imminent destruction. Such catastrophism has both inspired and been inspired by a shift in how the firearms industry sells weapons.

Since the expiration of the federal assault-weapons ban in 2004, the firearm industry has juiced its sales by inundating conservatives with advertising that promotes guns as a cure for compromised masculinity, and implies that they need to stockpile firearms for an inevitable political conflict in which they will finally get to kill people they don’t like. That’s partly how we ended up with a haggard pop star so unnerved by an inclusive corporate ad campaign that he shoots at beer cans to self-soothe, a tough guy literally triggered by rainbows.

Gun sales have risen dramatically over the past few years. “Those sales have only confirmed the industry’s strategy for achieving growth, and so the marketing effort has become only more addicted to conspiracy-theory-fueled political partisanship,” Ryan Busse, a former firearms-industry executive, wrote in The Atlantic in 2022. “America is seeing the deadly results of the violence incubated by these dark advertising fantasies.”

[Ryan Busse: The gun industry created a new consumer. Now it’s killing us.]

One might question how often guns are actually used in self-defense, but marketing guns for self-defense or hunting at least has no inherent partisan salience, and America has a long cultural and legal tradition of firearm ownership for such purposes. Perhaps the crucial difference here is the shift from individual to collective self-defense—instead of just selling the possibility of defending your home from a nighttime intruder, the industry and its allies are now selling the idea that buying a gun turns you into a soldier defending civilization itself from the barbarian hordes. You know, people who disagree with them politically. In this worldview, violence against such people is by definition “self-defense,” regardless of the specific circumstances.  

The people who have adopted this political and consumer identity will not necessarily act out violently. In fact, the overwhelming majority of them will not. In a country of more than 300 million with lax gun laws, some small number will act on these beliefs, to bloody and tragic results. But those who have embraced such an identity will be more willing to rationalize, excuse, or defend political violence against their opponents when it does happen. They will also be more open to the illiberal use of state force against those they see as foes in an existential battle.  

Advertising guns for an imminent political conflict has reshaped American gun culture, enlarging a voting constituency that opposes all firearm restrictions, in part because its members dream about someday engaging in murderous political violence. This faction also demands that politicians shape the law so that they can do so with impunity.  

That political pressure was bearing down on Abbott when he made the decision to request that the pardon board grant clemency to Perry. The injustice is that Perry was convicted of murder for killing someone who deserved to die because he was supporting a left-wing cause. The legal system built by decades of Republican dominance in Texas was meant to justify such killings, and when it failed to do so, the governor had to intervene. Facing prison time for shooting a political enemy would spoil the reverie sold to conservatives by their leaders and by the firearm industry—the promise that one day, they too could kill one of the barbarian horde and get away with it. And that would be unjust.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
A new rapid test for the early diagnosis of 
, a potentially life-threatening complication of pregnancy, has been developed by a team of researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The test is significantly faster and more accurate than current methods.
Copper(I)-catalyzed asymmetric alkylation of α-imino-esters

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37967-y

Asymmetric alkylation of enolates is an important method for the formation of α-stereogenic carbonyls but generally requires the introduction and then removal of chiral auxiliaries. Here, the authors report a copper-catalyzed asymmetric alkylation of α-amino esters.

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37974-z

The contribution of astrocytic Ca2+ signaling to the modulation of sensory transmission in different brain states remains largely unknown. Here, the authors show two types of Ca2+ signals in the mouse barrel cortex with distinct function in sensory transmission during sleep and arousal states.
Random fractal-enabled physical unclonable functions with dynamic AI authentication

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37588-5

In order to be used on a large scale, unclonable tags for anti-counterfeiting should allow mass production at low cost, as well as fast and easy authentication. Here, the authors show how to use one-step annealing of gold films to quickly realize robust tags with high capacity, allowing fast deep-learning based authentication via smartphone readout.

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37968-x

The cholinergic circuits involved in pain modulation remain poorly understood. Here, the authors show that reversal of plasticity in the ventral pallidum-basolateral amygdala cholinergic pathway relieves hyperalgesia and depression-like behaviours in a 
chronic pain
 mouse model.
SpaceX Fails to Launch Mighty Starship
Earlier today, SpaceX loaded its gigantic, 400-foot Starship rocket stack with propellant — only to scrub its first-ever orbital launch attempt.

Frozen Valve

It wasn't meant to be.

Earlier today, SpaceX loaded its gigantic, 400-foot Starship rocket stack with propellant — only to scrub its first-ever orbital launch attempt.

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, a frozen pressure valve was the culprit.

Fortunately, this morning's events weren't a total write-off for the company. Far from it, Musk said.

"Learned a lot today, now offloading propellant, retrying in a few days," tweeted the mercurial CEO. That means we might see the next attempt on April 20, which could come to the sheer delight of the billionaire CEO, given the date's significance.

The stakes are incredibly high for the company. SpaceX's super-heavy launch platform could set the stage for the next generation of reusable rockets, potentially carrying the first astronauts to the surface of the Moon and eventually Mars.

Going Orbital

The company has already launched over half a dozen Starship prototypes over the last few years, many of which have ended in huge explosions.

This morning's attempt, however, was different as it involved a Starship prototype stacked on top of an equally massive Super Heavy booster, which alone features a whopping 33 Raptor engines.

SpaceX still ran down the clock, regardless of the scrubbed attempt, and treated it as a wet dress rehearsal instead.

"The point of the countdown is to allow the teams to progress that T-zero time in a coordinated fashion and really to unveil any issues prior to the ignition sequence," SpaceX's Kate Tice said during the company's live stream. "So the countdown did its job today."

Will April 20 really be the day we get to see the most powerful rocket in history ignite its dozens of engines? All we can do right now is wait and find out.

More on Starship: Here's a Video of Every Time Starship Has Exploded So Far

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Brine flies are crucial to salt lake ecosystems
gull opens beak to eat many teeming flies

Tiny brine flies are key to conservation of salt lake ecosystems, researchers report.

Brine flies are a key food source for foraging water birds at inland salt lakes including Utah’s iconic body of water, Mono Lake in California, and Abert Lake in Oregon.

In many parts of the world, inland salt lakes are drying out as salt concentrations increase and surface areas shrink—consequences of the protracted diversion of inflowing streams and more recently, drought related to climate change. A study by biologist David Herbst of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) in Mammoth Lakes shows that the increasing salinity of salt lakes poses a physiological threat to the quantity and quality of brine flies, their aquatic larvae, and pupae life stages—thereby posing a similar threat to the birds who visit such lakes to feed and breed.

The findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

“This is really about salt lake conservation,” says Herbst, who conducted most of the research at Mono Lake. “Knowing what the flies need to thrive determines the best habitat conditions for the birds that come to these lakes to feed. Who’d have thought that fly physiology would be useful to knowing the critical water needs to sustain the habitats of these rare and threatened ecosystems?”

Indeed, inland salt lakes are vital ecosystems for foraging water birds. Every year hundreds of thousands of birds, often on long migratory journeys between North and South America, can visit these lakes; having a productive, dependable food source waiting for them is crucial to the viability of many species. Brine flies are essential items on their menu.

Larvae of the alkali fly Cirrula hians are adapted to life in alkaline salt lakes by virtue of the ability to keep their internal body fluids at a constant concentration of solutes (dissolved minerals) even as lake external salt content varies—a process known as osmoregulation. These lakes are often several times as salty as seawater, Herbst explains, but they contain a mixture of minerals such as bicarbonate of soda, sulfate, and chloride. Osmoregulation requires energy to operate the metabolic machinery that rids the fly larvae of excess solutes.

“The research findings show that with rising salinity and osmoregulatory costs, the growth of larvae is curtailed,” Herbst says, “and though development time is prolonged, the mature size of pupae becomes smaller and fewer adult flies emerge from these pupae, and those that do emerge have lowered reproductive success.”

In short, in lakes where salinity is rising, the productivity of brine fly populations is diminishing.

“As expected, reduced amounts of the algae that fly larvae feed on also limits their growth, yet this, too, is likely to occur as salinities rise,” Herbst adds. “Understanding when and where shorebirds visit salt lakes should then be predictably tied to changing salinity levels, and knowing the optimum conditions for alkali fly productivity will be useful in gauging the amount of water needed for restoring and protecting the vitality of salt lake ecosystems.”

Herbst has been researching saline lakes for more than three decades, dating back to his dissertation work at Oregon State University and to his early research at SNARL.

“It is so timely to retrieve this data in light of so much renewed concern,” he says. “Mono has not gained much in water level (since the mid 1990s) and Lake Abert is in even more dire condition, as it has been all but nearly dry in recent years. Both lakes will benefit from the surfeit of snow that will melt this spring and flow into these parched basins, but that may only be a short-lived reprieve. As climate-induced drought contributes to ongoing water shortages, the long-term trends have been down, with salinity rising and streams still diverted to LA or, in the case of Abert, to local agricultural uses.”

Similar trends of desiccation are affecting salty lakes in North America and across the world. Now, with $25 million in funding via recent legislation, Herbst notes, the US Geological Survey will lead studies intended to provide strategies for monitoring the vitality and sustainable management of these lakes.

“This is coming from concerns over human health from dust pollution coming off exposed playas, as well as threats to the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds that use these usually productive lakes as fueling stations,” said Herbst, who is collaborating with other scientists and conservationists at Great Salt Lake to develop monitoring methods and track brine flies. “The flies are significant to this in that they are super-abundant and aggregate in the tens of thousands per square meter of adults onshore or aquatic larvae and pupae in the shallows, making them easy prey and nutritious in the diet—at least when salinity conditions permit.

“What is the cost of the physiology that permits them to thrive in salt water, and what salinity range provides optimum productivity for this insect?” he continues. “There are other brine flies of similar ilk that can be found in other saline lakes and the story remains the same: there is a cost for osmoregulation that will limit fly productivity and, in many cases, these lakes are at or beyond the limits that permit them to be super-abundant and sustaining of waterbirds.”

Source: UC Santa Barbara

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Did apes evolve upright stature to eat leaves?
Is this article about Gardening?
upper jaw fossil with teeth

Living in open woodlands and eating leaves may have driven apes’ upright stature, research suggests.

The findings shed light on ape origins and push back the origin of grassy woodlands from between 7 million and 10 million years ago to 21 million years ago in equatorial Africa, during the Early Miocene.

Fruit grows on the spindly peripheries of trees. To reach it, large apes need to distribute their weight on branches stemming from the trunk, then reach out with their hands toward their prize. This is much easier if an ape is upright because it can more easily grab onto different branches with its hands and feet. If its back is horizontal, then its hands and feet are generally underneath the body, making it much harder to move outward to the smaller branches of a tree—especially if the ape is large bodied.

This is how modern day apes reach fruit, and, it’s been theorized, why apes evolved to be upright, according to University of Michigan researchers Laura MacLatchy and John Kingston.

But new research centered around a 21-million-year-old fossil ape called Morotopithecus and led by MacLatchy suggests this might not be the case. Instead, researchers think early apes ate leaves and lived in a seasonal woodland with a broken canopy and open, grassy areas. The researchers suggest this landscape, instead of fruit in closed canopy forests, drove apes’ upright stature.

Their results appear in Science as does a companion paper examining these paleo grassy woodland habitats.

“The expectation was: We have this ape with an upright back. It must be living in forests and it must be eating fruit. But as more and more bits of information became available, the first surprising thing we found was that the ape was eating leaves. The second surprise was that it was living in woodlands,” says MacLatchy, a paleoanthropologist and professor in the anthropology department.

The two papers grew out of a collaboration of international paleontologists, collectively known as the Research on Eastern African Catarrhine and Hominoid Evolution project or REACHE, each of whom focus on different aspects of early ape paleoenvironments. The study that MacLatchy led focuses on a 21-million-year-old site called the Moroto site in eastern Uganda.

There, the group examined fossils found in a single stratigraphic layer, including fossils of the oldest, clearly documented ape, Morotopithecus. Also within this layer were fossils of other mammals, ancient soils called paleosols, and tiny silica particles from plants called phytoliths. The researchers used these lines of evidence to recreate the ancient environment of Morotopithecus.

MacLatchy and Kingston discovered that the plants living in this landscape were what’s called “water stressed,” meaning they lived through seasonal periods of rain and of aridity. This also means that at least part of the year, apes had to rely on something other than fruit to survive. Together, these findings indicate that Morotopithecus lived in an open woodland punctuated by broken canopy forests composed of trees and shrubs.

“These open environments have been invoked to explain human origins, and it was thought that you started to get these more open, seasonal environments between 10 and 7 million years ago,” MacLatchy says. “Such an environmental shift is thought to have been selected for terrestrial bipedalism—our ancestors started striding around on the ground because the trees were further apart.

“Now that we’ve shown that such environments were present at least 10 million years before bipedalism evolved, we need to really rethink human origins, too.”

The first clue that these ancient apes were eating leaves was in the apes’ molars. The molars were very “cresty”: they were craggy, with peaks and valleys. Molars like this are used for tearing fibrous leaves apart, while molars used for eating fruit are typically more rounded, MacLatchy says.

The researchers also examined the apes’ dental enamel, as well as the dental enamel of other mammals found in the same stratigraphic layer. They found that isotopic ratios—the abundance of two isotopes of the same element—in their dental enamel showed that the apes and other mammals had been eating water stressed C3 plants that are more common in open woodland or grassy woodland environments today. C3 plants are primarily woody shrubs and trees while C4 plants are arid-adapted grasses.

“Putting together the locomotion, the diet, and the environment, we basically discovered a new model for ape origins,” MacLatchy says. “In anthropology, we care a lot about ape evolution because humans are closely related to apes and features like lower back stability represent an arboreal adaptation that may have ultimately given rise to bipedality in humans.”

Previously, researchers believed equatorial Africa during the Early Miocene was thickly carpeted with forest, and that open seasonal woodlands and grasslands evolved only between 7 million and 10 million years ago.

But the second paper uses a set of environmental proxies to reconstruct the vegetation structure from nine fossil ape sites across Africa, including the Moroto site, during the Early Miocene. These proxies revealed that C4 grasses were “everywhere” at the fossil ape sites during that time period, says Kingston, a biological anthropologist and associate professor in the anthropology department.

“This paper looks at all these sites, pulls all this data together, and says, ‘Look, no matter how you evaluate the data, there’s no way you can escape the fact that all these proxies are converging on the same place—namely, that these environments are open, and they’re open with C4 grasses,” he says.

“For the first time, we’re showing that these grasses are widespread, and it’s this general context of open seasonal woodland ecosystems that were integral in shaping the evolution of different mammalian lineages, including and especially in our case, how different ape lineages evolved.”

The nine sites are scattered across eastern equatorial Africa, enough to develop a “regional picture” of what the sites’ landscapes looked like in the Early Miocene, Kingston says. During this time, the East African Rift was forming. Earth was pulling apart. As a result, the entire region was uplifted, causing huge variation in topography, and therefore, regional climate and vegetation.

“There’s mountains and volcanoes, there’s cliffs and escarpments and valleys related to the rifting,” Kingston says. “The landscape is just physically highly variable, and that, no doubt, is related to the vegetation heterogeneity.”

To reconstruct the paleoenvironment at each location, the researchers used carbon isotope analyses of ancient soil organic matter, plant wax biomarkers, and phytoliths from each site. The carbon isotope analyses revealed that a wide range of plants lived in the grasslands, ranging from those that comprise closed canopy to wooded grasslands.

The wax biomarkers—left over from the waxy material that protects leaves—also indicate a large variety of shrubs and trees as well as grasses. Phytoliths—microscopic biosilica bodies that give plants their structure as well as a defense against being eaten—can tell the researchers the proportion of C4 grasses at a given site and provide further evidence for abundant C4 grasses.

After using these proxies to rebuild the paleoenvironments at these nine sites, the researchers found that C4 grasses were abundant across eastern equatorial Africa and were a key part of the landscape’s heterogeneous habitats. Their data also pushes back the oldest evidence of C4 grass-dominated habitats in Africa and globally by more than 10 million years.

“The findings have transformed what we thought we knew about early apes, and the origin for where, when, and why they navigate through the trees and on the ground in multiple different ways,” says Robin Bernstein, program director for biological anthropology at the National Science Foundation, which funds REACHE.

“For the first time, by combining diverse lines of evidence, this collaborative research team tied specific aspects of early ape anatomy to nuanced environmental changes in their habitat in eastern Africa, now revealed as more open and less forested than previously thought. The effort outlines a new framework for future studies regarding ape evolutionary origins.”

Source: University of Michigan

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NASA satellite's elusive green lasers spotted at work
Is this article about Space?
The green light streaking across the cloudy sky was something that Daichi Fujii had never seen before. The museum curator's motion-detecting cameras were set up near Japan's Mount Fuji to capture meteors, allowing him to calculate their position, brightness, and orbit. But the bright green lines that appeared on a video taken Sept. 16, 2022, were a mystery.

Just occurred as a hypothetical idea, I wonder if something like it might have use in the future. Specifically, if future physical imaging devices were made to incorporate a device-unique, encoded watermark into each recorded digital image, the watermarks being issued by a central trusted certificate authority, maybe not unlike SSL certificates.
Images with the watermark(s) would be assured to be genuine, whereas any image without said watermark might still be genuine (if taken with some other device), though it wouldn't be guaranteed to not be 


-generated. Also, tampering with the image might invalidate the watermark and indicate photoshopping, maybe. Or perhaps this is impossible and pointless, but I wonder if there is something like this that could be implemented in the future.

submitted by /u/etherified
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Newest gaming graphics card same computational level as human brain
Feedly AI found 1 Product Launches mention in this article
  • Newest gaming graphics card same computational level as human brain

So I was listening to ray kurzweils book ‘’the singularity is near’’ in his book he say the human brain does about 100 trillion computations per second, I became curious how powerfull todays gaming graphics cards are and to my suprise unless im misstaken, an overclocked rtx 4090 can do 100 Tflops of computations a second, that is 100 trillion computations.

submitted by /u/0krizia
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What do killer whales eat?
Is this article about Agriculture?
An orca comes out of the water at sunset with birds flying above.

It is now possible to figure out, for the first time, the proportion of different prey that killer whales in the North Atlantic are eating by studying the fatty acid patterns in their blubber.

Killer whales (also known as orcas) are intelligent predators. While it’s known that killer whales in the Pacific Northwest exploit widely different food types, even within the same region, we know much less about the feeding habits of those found throughout the North Atlantic.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers used the new approach to look more closely at the diets of killer whale from the eastern and northern coasts of Canada all the way to northern Norway. It provides the most detailed overview of North Atlantic killer whales diets to date.

As climate change leads to a northward redistribution of killer whales, the results have implications not only for their health and survival, but also in terms of potential impacts on sensitive species within Arctic ecosystems.

“In a context of climate change, it becomes increasingly urgent to understand and be able to quantify killer whale diets and how they are changing so that we can foresee the potential impacts on local food webs,” says Anaïs Remili, a PhD candidate in the natural resource sciences department at McGill University and first author of the study in Journal of Animal Ecology.

“By measuring the composition of the fatty acids of approximately 200 killer whales and of 900 of their prey of different species, we were able estimate the specific proportions of each prey species in the whales’ diets. This means that scientists can potentially keep track of any shifts in these diets in the future.”

The team found that killer whales have very different diets throughout the North Atlantic. In some areas, killer whales prefer to consume other whales: belugas and narwhals in the Eastern Canadian Arctic and baleen whales and porpoises in Eastern Canada.

Killer whales feed predominantly on fish, especially herring in the Eastern North Atlantic (Norway, Faroe Islands, Iceland), and in the Central North Atlantic (Greenland) they primarily eat seals.

Interestingly, however, the researchers also found that not all the whales in any given location feed on the same prey.

For example, in the Eastern Canadian Arctic, half of the whales eat mainly belugas and narwhals, while the other half consume mainly ringed seals. In Greenland, killer whales consumed a mixture of all available prey.

Lastly, in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Norway, most whales are herring eaters, but a small number of whales in Norway and Iceland also consume a substantial proportion of marine mammals such as porpoises and seals. It is the first time that researchers have been able to detect individual diet preferences with this level of detail.

“Quantifying the diets of killer whales and other top predators is crucial in a context of changing environments, because it can provide insights into how these animals adapt to shifts in their prey populations and habitat conditions,” says senior author Melissa McKinney, an assistant professor in the natural resource sciences department at McGill and the Canada Research Chair in Ecological Change and Environmental Stressors.

“Our results also point to the need for further research on the ecology of the individuals since we found such large differences among individuals of the same populations.”

Source: McGill University

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Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37550-5

This study examines how the tropicalisation of shallow reefs changes functional niches for fishes in Japan and Australia. They discover that functional niches in tropical-temperate transitional communities are asynchronously invaded by tropical species, mediated more by habitat availability than competition with resident temperate species.
The comprehensive characterization of hydrogen at ultra-high pressures
Is this article about Sustainable Alternative Fuels?
Physicists and material scientists have been trying to metallize hydrogen for many decades, but they have not yet succeeded. In 1968, British physicist Neil Ashcroft predicted that atomic metallic hydrogen would be a high-temperature semiconductor.
Is this article about Agriculture?
In tropical regions of the planet, savannas and forests often coexist in the same area and are exposed to the same climate. An example is the Cerrado, a Brazilian biome that includes several types of vegetation, from broad-leaved and sclerophyllous in dense woodland or shrubland (cerrado sensu stricto) to semi-evergreen in closed-canopy forest (cerradão), as well as grassland with scattered shrubs (campo sujo) and even semi-deciduous seasonal forest.
New details of Tully monster revealed
Is this article about Animals?
For more than half a century, the Tully monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), an enigmatic animal that lived about 300 million years ago, has confounded paleontologists, with its strange anatomy making it difficult to classify. Recently, a group of researchers proposed a hypothesis that Tullimonstrum was a vertebrate similar to cyclostomes (jawless fish like lamprey and hagfish). If it was, then the Tully monster would potentially fill a gap in the evolutionary history of early vertebrates. Studies so far have both supported and rejected this hypothesis.
Is this article about Agriculture?
In tropical regions of the planet, savannas and forests often coexist in the same area and are exposed to the same climate. An example is the Cerrado, a Brazilian biome that includes several types of vegetation, from broad-leaved and sclerophyllous in dense woodland or shrubland (cerrado sensu stricto) to semi-evergreen in closed-canopy forest (cerradão), as well as grassland with scattered shrubs (campo sujo) and even semi-deciduous seasonal forest.
Covid Exposure Apps Are Headed for a Mass Extinction Event
Feedly AI found 1 Partnerships mention in this article
  • Within weeks of Covid-19 shutting down the world in 2020, teams at archrivals Apple and Google partnered on a rare joint project .
The US government will pull the plug on the servers powering the nation’s 
 notifications on May 11. States aren’t rushing to boot up replacements.
Virtual fitting rooms can help or hurt sales
Is this article about Fashion Industry?
serious person on couch uses phone

Virtual fitting rooms can reduce sales among heavier shoppers, research finds.

Driven by online shopping, a growing number of retailers have launched virtual fitting rooms in recent years. That includes Amazon, the top apparel seller in the United States, along with Nike, Macy’s, and Walmart. The virtual rooms allow shoppers to ‘try on’ clothes through interactive simulation technology and texture-mapped product images. It can cut down on returns and nudge hesitant shoppers to click the checkout button.

Findings published in the Journal of Marketing Research indicate virtual fitting rooms could backfire on retailers if they assume interactions with the technology are uniformly positive. One of the coauthors, Huifang Mao, is a professor at Iowa State University who studies consumer behavior through a psychological lens.

“We shouldn’t think consumers are all the same and will respond in the same way because they don’t. Our research shows virtual fitting rooms can hurt the self-esteem of certain customer segments. We want to make sure technology can help companies make money without hurting customer welfare,” says Mao.

The researchers conducted six studies to understand how and why shoppers with a high body mass index (BMI) may experience virtual fitting rooms differently than those with a low BMI. This included analyzing data from more than 8,000 customers for an online women’s apparel store in China. The researchers found the virtual technology increased sales among shoppers with a low body mass index. Sales dropped for shoppers with a high BMI.

In a follow-up study, the researchers found the technology negatively affected product evaluations and lowered self-esteem for participants with a high BMI. Mao says people who are unhappy with how they perceive their appearance may shift that negative feeling to the product. The researchers believe similar patterns happen in physical fitting rooms, as well, but that the effect is stronger with virtual rooms.

“One possible reason for this: There are fewer distractions with virtual rooms. It’s just your image with the clothes and a white background. When the only thing you are looking at is your own image, you may view it with a more critical eye,” she explains.

In physical fitting rooms, there’s more “noise.” The mirror reflects walls and additional pieces of clothing. Perhaps music is playing while people converse several feet away.

Results from several of the researchers’ studies suggest marketing strategies that could erase or lessen the negative effects of virtual fitting rooms among consumers with a high BMI:

  • Priming shoppers with diverse beauty norms (e.g., including models with different body sizes, shapes, and ages on the website.)
  • Using a mannequin face for the avatar to create distance between the consumer and their perceived imperfections.
  • Providing opportunities for consumers to engage in pro-social behavior (e.g., contributing to a charitable donation with their purchase,) which boosts self-esteem.
  • Using virtual fitting rooms with high-end or luxury products, which can signal worth and value.

Mao says integrating these recommendations could help companies provide better service to their customers and improve overall sales. Nearly three-quarters of adults in the US are overweight. They represent the majority of retail shoppers but often have been “overlooked by fashion retailers,” the authors write.

Source: Iowa State University

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Environmental toxin PCB found in deep sea trench
PCB has been banned in most countries since the 1970s, but that doesn't mean it no longer exists. Now, deep-sea researchers report that they have found PCB at the bottom of the Atacama Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
The Download: solar geoengineering’s high stakes, and tracking student’s moods
Feedly AI found 1 Product Launches mention in this article
  • 2 Google is plotting a new AI-powered search engine

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

This technology could alter the entire planet. These groups want every nation to have a say.

Picture two theoretical futures: one in which nations counteract climate change by reflecting sunlight back into space, and another where the world continues heating up. There are big differences between the two, but a lot of smaller, more subtle changes too. 

Take malaria, for example. By 2070, the overall risk of malaria transmission ends up roughly the same in the two worlds. But in the hypothetical geoengineered version of Earth, the threat of the disease has moved on the map, from East to West Africa. 

These scenarios underscore the complex trade-offs that could accompany solar geoengineering. And they raise difficult questions about who gets to determine how or whether the world ever uses tools that alter the entire climate system, in ways that may benefit many but also create new dangers for some. Read the full story.

—James Temple


Teachers in Denmark are using apps to audit their students’ moods

No one knows why, but in just a few decades, the number of Danish children and youth with depression has more than sextupled. 

To help address the problem, some schools are adopting platforms that frequently survey schoolchildren on a variety of wellbeing indicators, and use algorithms to suggest particular issues for the class to focus on.

A number of people say mood-­monitoring tech has great potential. But some experts are skeptical. They say there is little evidence it can solve social problems, and that fostering a habit of self-surveillance from an early age could make kids feel even worse. Read the full story.

—Arian Khameneh

This story is from our forthcoming Education print issue. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up from just $69 a year—a special low price to mark Earth Week.


The US is pouring money into surveillance tech at the southern border

For years, the US has struggled to process all the people who want to live there. It’s a slow-rumbling problem that has become a crisis, and over the past 18 months, the number of migrant deaths has surged. 

As political pressure increases, money is pouring into shiny new technology as a proposed quick(ish) fix. Late last year, the agency responsible for policing the border began asking for proposals for a $200 million upgrade and expansion of a network of surveillance towers.

But there is mounting evidence that the towers might not be as useful as the agency claims. Read the full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

Tate’s story is from The Technocrat, her weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things Silicon Valley. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Friday.


The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 SpaceX’s Starship rocket is ready for its first orbital test flight
But Elon Musk is being unusually cautious about its chances of success. (The Verge)
It’s a key milestone in Musk’s bid to take humans to Mars. (FT $)
What’s next in space. (MIT Technology Review)

2  Google is plotting a new AI-powered search engine
After being beaten to the punch by its rivals. (NYT $)+ Elon Musk has set up an AI company. (WSJ $)
The ChatGPT-fueled battle for search is bigger than Microsoft or Google. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Russia’s fake social media accounts are becoming harder to detect 
The Discord leak suggests just 1% of these profiles are being rooted out. (WP $)

4 US industrial policy is paying off
The country is on the brink of a manufacturing boom. (FT $)
2022’s seismic shift in US tech policy will change how we innovate. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Georgia’s national guard is recruiting in high schools
Using phone location tracking data. (The Intercept)

6 Uber is in limbo
It’s on a PR offensive to improve driver morale—but not everyone is convinced. (Slate $)
How one Uber driver stood up to the company’s automated HR. (The Guardian)

7 The US Supreme Court is considering the legalities of cyberstalking
It has serious implications for the future of free speech, too. (Fast Company $)
Google is failing to enforce its own ban on ads for stalkerware. (MIT Technology Review)

8 We’re witnessing the rise of the biohacking spa
Neurofeedback and halotherapy are just some of the treatments you can expect. (The Information $)

9 Where does Silicon Valley go from here?
The downturn has bitten hard, and workers are still figuring out their next steps. (The Guardian)
The kinds of projects VCs are backing are changing too. (Sifted $)

10 Robots still aren’t ready for the real world 🤖
But robot avatars are hot property. (IEEE Spectrum)


Quote of the day

“It feels like we were in a nightclub and the lights just turned on.” 

—Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO, contemplates the end of the easy money sloshing around Silicon Valley, the New York Times reports.


The big story

To solve space traffic woes, look to the high seas

August 2021

Thanks to the rise of satellite megaconstellation projects like OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink, it’s possible we may see more than 100,000 satellites orbiting Earth by 2030—a number that would simply overwhelm our ability to track them all. 

Experts have repeatedly called for a better framework for managing space traffic and preventing satellite crashes, but the world’s biggest space powers are still dragging their feet. All the while, more and more objects are zooming perilously close to one another. 

Ruth Stilwell, the executive director of Aerospace Policy Solutions, has an unusual suggestion for how we can better manage space traffic—looking to maritime laws and policies. Read the full story.

—Neel V. Patel


We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ This ChatGPT x Furby hybrid is going to give me nightmares.
+ Good luck to everyone running the Boston Marathon today!
+ Admit it, we all love peeking behind the curtains of other people’s relationships. This piece about sleeping habits is completely enthralling.
+ Aww, monkeys can be fooled by magic tricks 🐒🪄
+ Admit it, you know you want to do this Succession personality quiz.

Structure and mechanism of the alkane-oxidizing enzyme AlkB

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37869-z

Alkane monooxygenase (AlkB) plays a key role in the global carbon cycle and remediation of oil spills. Here, the authors report the cryo-EM structure of AlkB to provide insight into the catalytic mechanism and substrate selectivity.

Nature Communications, Published online: 17 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37926-7

In this study, the authors isolate and characterize BBIBPCorV inactivated vaccine-elicited human antibodies. They show that these can broadly neutralize a range of 
-CoV-2 variants and protect mice from Delta and Omicron 
. The neutralization mechanism of bispecific antibodies were solved structurally.
Elizabeth Holmes Going to Prison


I first wrote about the Theranos scandal in 2016, and I guess it should not be surprising that it took 7 years to follow this story through to the end. Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the company Theranos, was  convicted of defrauding investors and sentenced to 11 years in prison. She will be going to prison even while her appeal is pending, because she failed to convince a judge that she is likely to win on appeal.

I think her conviction and sentencing is a healthy development, and I hope it has an impact on the industry and broader culture. To quickly summarize, Holmes began a startup called Theranos which claimed to be able to perform 30 common medical laboratory tests on a single drop of blood and in a single day. So instead of collecting multiple vials of blood, with test results coming back over the course of a week, only a finger stick and drop of blood would be necessary (like people with diabetes do to test their blood sugar).

The basic idea is a good one, and also fairly obvious. Being able to determine reliable blood-testing results with a smaller sample, and being able to run multiple tests at a time, and very quickly, have obvious medical advantages. Patients, for example, who have prolonged hospital stays can actually get anemic from repeated blood draws. At some point testing has to be limited. Repeated blood sticks can also take its toll. For outpatient testing, rather than going to a lab, you could get a testing kit, provide a drop of blood, and then send it in.

The problem was that Holmes was apparently starting with a problem to be solved rather than a technology. We can think of technological development as happening in one of two primary ways. We may start with a problem and then search for a solution. Or we can start with a technology and look for applications. Both approaches have their pitfalls. The sweet spot is when both pathways meet in the middle – a new technology solves a clear problem.

When starting with a problem and then searching for a solution, this often requires extensive research and development. There is also no guarantee you will find a solution. The technology may simply not be ready. The problem with Holmes is that she pretended she had the technology in hand, when she didn’t. All she had was an idea about a problem to be solved. There never was any technology or even research paradigm behind it. Holmes figured that she would follow the Silicon Valley culture of “fake it till you make it”.

Admittedly this is often a continuum – when searching for investors in a new startup, it is generally assumed that companies will put their best foot forward. They will hype the potential of the new technology they are trying to develop, exaggerate the problem they are trying to solve, downplay competing solutions, and paint a very optimistic projection of progress. At some level all of this is just marketing, and it is up to investors to be savvy in sorting out the true potential of any new company and technology. But when does marketing hype become fraud? When does “faking it” become defrauding investors? Elizabeth Holmes was essentially one test case to probe that demarcation, and she fell on the wrong side of it.

As a side story, Theranos was already selling their services to customers while the tech was still “in development”. The company just ran standard blood tests, and never provided any of the services they promised in terms of new blood-testing tech. But she was not convicted of consumer fraud. It may