Parrots are known to be chatty, social animals. But when they're kept as pets, they can get lonely. A group of scientists found that video chatting with other parrots helps them feel less so.
(Image credit: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University)
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-33281-1Personalized prediction of one-year mental health deterioration using adaptive learning algorithms: a multicenter
They're not where they should be.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38128-x
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34323-4Mzion enables deep and precise identification of peptides in data-dependent acquisition proteomics
|submitted by /u/lughnasadh
Earlier this year, Willie Nelson was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having already been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. Both a living legend and a relatable everyman, Willie turns 90 years old today, and it’s tempting to mark the occasion with yet another retrospective. But the beats and tribulations of his life have already been well covered in a lifetime of magazine profiles and biographies. And anyway, judging by the small library of memoirs he has released, nobody can indulge such retrospection better than the man himself. Rather, reflecting on his journey today, I’m struck by the enduring relevance of a single song: “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
What about this deceptively simple composition—a fairly basic chord structure, three unadorned verses, and no chorus to speak of—makes it so evocative and enduring, so endlessly adaptable across the divides of genre and generation? What does “Funny” reveal not only about the artistry of Willie Nelson, but also about the culture that venerates him?
Since its first recording more than 60 years ago, the song has continued to evolve. After early renditions by Billy Walker, Jimmy Elledge, and Nelson himself in the early 1960s, the song quickly transcended its country roots in the Nashville Sound. An impressive cohort of artists subsequently reinterpreted the song in diverse styles: the too-cool croon of Elvis Presley; the silky groove of Al Green; the easy-listening of Perry Como; the soulful R&B of Dorothy Moore; the Beale Street blues of B. B. King. To such esteemed company, one might also add Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Lyle Lovett, The Supremes, The Spinners, Leon Bridges, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and many, many others.
Meanwhile, Willie has offered his own repeated reimaginings. He has performed “Funny” as a lovelorn serenade, a lonesome jazz ditty, an orchestral ballad, a brass-band tune, a blues duet, and more. “Funny How Time Slips Away” has no authoritative, canonical version. This creates a strikingly open field of interpretive possibilities, each of which changes the emotional impact and very meaning of the song.
In essence, “Funny” depicts a jaded narrator running into an old flame. The three verses comprise only one side of the ensuing conversation. With poetic economy, Nelson spins a tale that blends heartbroken earnestness with scathing self-deprecation, sincere nostalgia with tragic pettiness. Decades before Lionel Richie and Adele would execute the same rhetorical maneuver, Nelson begins with an ambiguous greeting: “Well, hello there.” From this first line, the song coaxes listeners in and immediately knocks them off balance. Are we meant to identify with the narrator? Are we the addressee? Or are we eavesdropping on a conversation?
All of this remains unspecified, and so, too, do our sympathies. The narrator dons an air of blasé detachment, as if he had almost, but not quite, forgotten about the former love. Listeners recognize this as a sad pretense, of course, and that tension gives the song its edge. Each verse casts new light (and new shadows) on the characters’ relationship, yet in a way that always remains between the lines. The ruse gradually unravels, revealing a core to the song that is heartbroken and embittered. The narrator’s words are riddled with artifice and contradiction throughout. Take the title and refrain, for instance: The use of funny is clearly euphemistic rather than literal, but a euphemism for what exactly? Depending on the performer, funny can alternately imply any number of reactions to time’s passage: fascination or frustration, consolation or disconsolation, regret or gratitude, wistfulness or outrage.
Or consider the last line: “But remember what I tell you / That in time you’re gonna pay.” Is this a credible threat? A pathetic cry of impotent rage? An ice-breaking joke meant to acknowledge the narrator’s previous, since-worked-through anger? (Indeed, many versions place this line in the past tense—“But remember what I told you”—which clouds the exegetical waters even further.) Semantic elasticity is the song’s secret weapon. Its lyrics are concrete enough to feel real, but hazy enough to justify numerous readings. “Funny” endures precisely because of its capacity to nourish ever-changing emotional landscapes.
Of the countless renditions, my personal favorite is Nelson’s stripped-down live recording from a gathering of country songwriters in 1997 (later released on Ralph Emery’s Country Legends Series Volume 1). It is a softer, more weather-beaten performance, inflected with Nelson’s inimitable jazzy licks and bold chromatic transitions. Embracing his elder-statesman role in American music, Nelson’s performance lays bare the sting of retrospection and transcends the faux detachment of the song’s narrator. In the hands of late-stage artists, one gets a visceral sense of time escaping, adding a meta-textual gravity to a song that is, fundamentally, about the passage of time. Glen Campbell and Dr. John both recorded the song in their twilight years; both recordings were released on their final albums. With age, the titular sentiment evokes something far bigger than lost love—namely, that tangled sense of regret, satisfaction, and melancholy that accompanies getting older.
Like the song, Nelson wears many faces: cowboy and hippie, patriot and renegade, churchgoer and gambler. He is America’s grandpa and the only person to ever out-smoke Snoop Dogg. He is a songwriter of stubborn originality as well as an earnest interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Perhaps nothing distills his genius nor encapsulates his capacious cultural resonance better than “Funny How Time Slips Away.” The song is simultaneously a reliable standard and a musical shape-shifter, just like its songwriter. In short, we love “Funny” for the same reason we love Willie himself: It contains our multitudes and welcomes our contradictions. The brilliance of both lies in their ability to project whatever one most needs to receive. In the song, each can hear their own story. In Willie, each can see their own hero.
Artificial intelligence has opened new doors for psychedelics enthusiasts to show the world the beautiful realms they inhabit when tripping.
As Vice reports, veteran psychedelics researcher David Jay Brown of the group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has joined forces with artist Sara Phinn to document the many, multifaceted beings they and others have met on DMT. The potent psychedelic drug often leads to trips that are characterized by visions of loving alien entities.
While so-called "psychonauts" have described the beings they've encountered while high on DMT for half a century now, Phinn and Brown's endeavor is unique not only because they're cataloging a variety of creatures, but also because the artist is using generative AI tools such as Midjourney to document these entities.
And the results are, as expected, trippy as hell, ranging from ethereal "spirits of the dead" to "jesters," gleaming in neon colors.
Vision Quest Guide
In an interview with Vice, the pair argued that the rising popularity of DMT, heralded in by a growing acceptance, necessitated a need for a guidebook. Researchers have increasingly been studying the effects of the drug, which has become so commonplace, it is being sold in the form of vape pens.
"Since DMT has become so popular and entity encounters have become rather common, we thought that it'd be helpful and fun to create an illustrated, naturalistic field guide," Brown told Vice.
The researcher said that he and Phinn profiled a whopping 27 separate entities, gleaned from personal and anecdotal experiences and academic reports about DMT, combining that information with other, non-psychedelic sources, like "alien abduction and UFO contactee reports, fairy sightings, and other reports of non-human entity contact to see where there's overlap."
Some of the beings and experiences that the artist and researcher came across weren't always welcoming creatures that made the transition into the psychedelic world easier.
"I think that there's any number of beings and dynamics," Phinn said, "and it's like a jungle in this dimension: there's going to be friendlies and not-so-friendlies."
Overall, the pair seem enthusiastic about wanting to help psychedelic explorers as they navigate these alien worlds.
"It feels like first contact for our species," Phinn said. "It's really exciting to be at a place where we feel the common culture is broad enough to receive it."
More on psychedelics: Pioneering Psychedelics Researcher Gets Terminal Cancer, Is Totally Chill
The post Psychedelics Researcher Enlists AI Artist to Draw Beings They Met While Tripping on DMT appeared first on Futurism.
Bot v. Bot
A team of researchers from Google's DeepMind AI lab have programmed a pair of little humanoid robots to play a classic match of one-versus-one soccer — and the results are absolutely adorable.
A video of these robotic little tykes shows them wobbling around with impressive, almost human-like agility, though the movements are more akin to an athletic toddler than a professional soccer player.
It's all very endearing, but don't let the cuteness of it overshadow the impressive skill on display. The robots are able to walk, turn, and run relatively efficiently, and transition between these movements with impressive fluidity.
Plus, they can also kick and shoot the ball at a goal, too, thanks to cutting-edge machine learning tech. But dribbling remains far beyond their capabilities. After all, little Lionel Messis they are not.
The Training Ground
Now, you may be eager to point out that the miniature bipeds aren't quite on the level of, say, Boston Dynamics' uncannily capable humanoids, and you'd be right.
But the point of this project, dubbed OP3 Soccer, is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a form of machine learning called "deep reinforcement learning" in low-cost hardware.
As such, the researchers used an affordable and respectably capable open-source robot platform, rather than designing a robot from scratch.
And clearly, their work is paying off. Not only are the artificial ankle biters agile, they also exhibit a strategic understanding of the game, the researchers said. They can mark the other player with the ball, defend their own goal, block shots, and most importantly, aim for the back of the opponent's net.
According to the researcher's not-yet-peer-reviewed paper, the robots were trained extensively through simulations, and used simple penalties and rewards to encourage more optimal behavior.
It was through the follow-up real-world training, though, that they really began to shine. The robust bots gradually learned to be even more efficient than in the simulations, walking 156 percent faster and taking 63 percent less time to stand up, the researchers said.
So beware, soccer superstars: the robots are coming after your jobs — just not anytime soon.
More on robots: $75,000 FDNY Robodog Goes to Work, Falls Over Almost Immediately
The post Watch These Adorable Lil Robots Try to Play Soccer appeared first on Futurism.
A Deepfake Did It!
's lawyers have made an eyebrow-raising argument in defense of CEO Elon Musk: that statements he allegedly made over the safety of the automaker's Autopilot driver assistance system could simply be deepfakes, Reuters reports.
The argument was made in an ongoing lawsuit against Tesla filed in 2019 over a fatal car crash that killed Walter Huang, who was driving a Tesla Model X at the time of the accident.
Huang's family alleges that Autopilot was partly to blame for why the vehicle veered off the road and slammed into a concrete barrier, as Huang, apparently distracted by a game on his phone, had believed Musk's bold claims over Autopilot's capabilities and safety.
The plaintiffs have spotlighted one statement in particular, which they believe demonstrates Musk's dangerous penchant for exaggerating the autonomy of Tesla's cars.
"A Model S and Model X, at this point, can drive autonomously with greater safety than a person," Musk said at a 2016 conference, after saying autonomy is "really easy" on highways that have barriers.
You can quite plainly hear Musk say this in an official video of the conference, so you'd think it'd be silly to equivocate over whether he actually said this.
A Failed Way Out
But Tesla's lawyers, seemingly in an attempt to squirm Musk out of being interviewed under oath about the remarks, have resorted to crying "deepfake!'" — even though at the time of his statement, the technology was still a few years away from entering the mainstream.
"While at first glance it might seem unusual that Tesla could not admit or deny the authenticity of video and audio recordings purportedly containing statements by Mr. Musk, the reality is he, like many public figures, is the subject of many 'deepfake' videos and audio recordings that purport to show him saying and doing things he never actually said or did," Tesla lawyers wrote in a court filing last week, as quoted by Ars Technica.
If you think that argument sounds like a slippery slope that would potentially exonerate public figures of accountability for their actions, well, you're not alone.
California judge Evette Pennypacker isn't buying Tesla's creative excuse either, and has tentatively ordered Musk to appear for a three hour deposition.
"Their position is that because Mr. Musk is famous and might be more of a target for deep fakes, his public statements are immune," Pennypacker wrote. "In other words, Mr. Musk, and others in his position, can simply say whatever they like in the public domain, then hide behind the potential for their recorded statements being a deep fake to avoid taking ownership of what they did actually say and do."
More on Tesla: Tesla Hit With Lawsuit Over Reports About Employees Watching Car Cameras
The post Tesla Lawyers Say Elon Musk's Claims Over Self-Driving Safety Might Just Be Deepfakes appeared first on Futurism.
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-33481-9Hip abduction angle after open-wedge high tibial osteotomy is associated with the timed up & go test and
While politics as usual dominates the Commons, thankfully a few people from the upper chamber are thinking about the big picture
The most interesting TV I’ve watched recently did not come from a conventional television channel, nor even from Netflix, but from TV coverage of parliament. It was a recording of a meeting of the AI in weapons systems select committee of the House of Lords, which was set up to inquire into “how should autonomous weapons be developed, used and regulated”. The particular session I was interested in was the one held on 20 April, during which the committee heard from four expert witnesses – Kenneth Payne, who is professor of strategy at King’s College London; Keith Dear, director of artificial intelligence innovation at the computer company Fujitsu; James Black from the defence and security research group of Rand Europe; and Courtney Bowman, global director of privacy and civil liberties engineering at Palantir UK. An interesting mix, I thought – and so it turned out to be.
Autonomous weapons systems are ones that can select and attack a target without human intervention. It is believed (and not just by their boosters) that these systems could revolutionise warfare, and may be faster, more accurate and more resilient than existing weapons systems. And that they could, conceivably, even limit the casualties of war (though I’ll believe that when I see it).Continue reading…
Touchscreens? Who needs 'em.
As Slate reports, car companies are finally beginning to take notice that touchscreen infotainment systems are a road safety hazard — and above all, that their customers absolutely hate using them.
Case in point, Porsche has phased out its all-touchscreen design of the Cayenne luxury SUV, Slate notes, adding some much-needed buttons back. The new 2024 design still features a central touchscreen, but at least now new owners will no longer have to suffer the ordeal of infotainment-based climate controls.
It's a small victory, as the touchscreen craze has plagued cars for the past decade or so, blurring the line between automaker and tech company. Tesla, in particular, has been leading the charge, prominently featuring giant, tablet-like infotainment systems on their cars' dashboards that control almost all of the vehicles' functions, down to the windshield wipers.
Back in the Game
The problem with touchscreens in cars is that they're just too damn distracting and aren't very good for controlling things, as multiple studies have shown.
Unlike buttons, touchscreens have no tactile feedback so you can't feel your way around them while keeping your eyes on the road. It's the worst of both worlds: a pain to navigate, and a big draw of your attention.
"The irony is that everyone basically accepts that it’s dangerous to use your phone while driving," Matt Farah, a popular car reviewer and YouTuber, told Slate. "Yet no one complains about what we’re doing instead, which is fundamentally using an iPad while driving."
Thankfully, it looks like the industry is beginning to catch on, as consumers and car journalists have been throwing a big stink for years.
Several other automakers have expressed support for adding buttons back, too, including Hyundai and Nissan.
Meanwhile, Porsche's parent company Volkswagen confirmed last fall that it was dropping excessive touchscreen controls on its cars' steering wheels after customers voiced their outrage.
Still, it doesn't look like all automakers have relented on needlessly giant and still distracting infotainment systems.
But hey, what do you expect from an industry that has spent the better part of this century literally reinventing the button?
More on car tech: New Car Has No Rear Window, Just a Camera
The post Death to Car Touchscreens, Buttons are Back, Baby! appeared first on Futurism.
Known as one of Greece's most famous tourist destination islands, Santorini's unique beauty was, as many know, the result of the eruption of an ancient volcano — one that is still alive to this day, as scientists remind us.
In a CNN profile, scientists studying the volcano noted that although it hasn't erupted for hundreds of years, it is by no means dead.
"If we start seeing increased activity in Kolumbo then we need to be alert," Tim Druitt, volcanologist and expedition co-chief of the deep drilling research vessel JOIDES Resolution, which visited Santorini for the first time late last year, told CNN.
Capable of drilling up to 26,000 feet below the surface of the Aegean Sea, the researchers collected sediments that hadn't yet been uncovered as they attempted to scientifically piece together the region's storied volcanic history.
Another eruption could prove catastrophic. During the Bronze Age, the volcano's eruption wiped out an entire civilization while forming Santorini's one-of-a-kind, semi-submerged caldera.
Out of This World
The JOIDES expedition, CNN notes, is far from the first time Kolumbo's been probed by scientists.
Oceanographer and Santorini native Evi Nomikou told CNN that she has taken part in every expedition to the underwater volcano for the past 20 years, and the results have been striking.
Specifically, the University of Athens researcher said that a groundbreaking NASA probe in 2019 led to the discovery of "an extra-terrestrial ocean with life forms that can be found on other planets."
As fascinating as the entire thing is, the concept of one of the world's most popular tourist destinations sitting atop a live volcano is a pretty freaky one to consider.
Fortunately, volcanoes move slowly, and when and if Kolumbo prepares to erupt again, scientists will likely know about it in advance.
"The good news is that volcanoes do give plenty of warning," Druitt told CNN.
More on volcanoes: Astronomers Spot Volcano Erupting on a Distant Comet
The post Scientists Issue Friendly Reminder That Beloved Tourist Island Is a Live Volcano appeared first on Futurism.
AI-generated imagery has officially made its fashion magazine debut.
Instead of tapping human artists to create fantastical photo shoot backdrops, Vogue Italia's upcoming May issue will feature scenery that was generated by OpenAI's viral AI image generator, DALL-E2, instead.
And apart from the fact that some of the images themselves are nightmare fuel — why is there a face sticking out of fashion model Bella Hadid's head? — we have some bones to pick with the magazine's decision.
In a press release, Vogue is marketing the creative process behind the images with "'unreal' backgrounds" as a "creative collaboration" between humans and machines.
The creatives behind the shoot certainly seem to concur, arguing that working with AI is more complex than one might think.
"Collaborating with AI is a bit like being a 'curator,' in charge of assisting the 'machine' in its creative process," photographer Carlijn Jacobs, who created the images alongside stylist Imruh Asha and AI artist Chad Nelson, told Vogue. "In theory, today it is possible to make do without a set designer and ask a computer to produce the objects and set up the lights for a photo shoot. However, you have to consider investing a lot of time and energy to use the AI."
"The machine does not intrinsically know what is aesthetically pleasing," she added, "so it's up to the human to accompany it step by step, showing it what works visually."
And in some ways, that collaborative element may well ring true. But outside of lauding how the photos represent a "fascinating interplay between human creativity and artificial images," Vogue's writeup arguably fails to address any of the more ethically murky realities of creating and commercializing AI-made imagery.
As it stands, there's already at least one ongoing lawsuit concerning AI-generated art, leveraged by artists against OpenAI rivals Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. Without any form of compensation, artists' work has been used by AI companies to train their image-generating models, tainting their output with copyright-infringing material.
Commercializing those outputs on newsstands feels like an escalation of that trend.
Then there are the ethics of replacing human work with machine labor. In the article, Asha, the shoot's stylist, posited that "in the future, we will see more and more images produced with artificial intelligence," but argued that "the desire for photo shoots marked by authenticity, with real objects and backgrounds and models in the flesh, will not diminish."
While it's a comforting thought, the reality is that some artists have already lost work as a result of their employers making use of AI. And Vogue Italia, it's worth noting, isn't exactly a small operation. It likely has deep enough pockets to pay humans for their work, and the imagery that the AI created for the photo shoot definitely isn't outside of the realm of what a human could create.
In other words, it doesn't bode well when even those with enough resources to cover the cost of human art are arguing that AI is the future.
Besides, the broader media landscape is already going through a rough patch, with fashion publication Paper Mag laying off its entire editorial staff this week.
"Running a 'we can use AI to replace human creativity' cover story the day after an entire magazine staff is laid off and ceases production," tweeted fashion writer Chloe Kennedy. "These are dark times."
In any case, at least Vogue Italia resisted the urge to use ChatGPT to write the article's lede.
"We can use AI to replace human creativity, and get lazy, or as a tool to stimulate it, expand it, overcoming its traditional limits," Jacobs told Vogue. "If we opt for the second option, exciting times await those who, like us, are lucky enough to experience this era working in a creative sector."
More on AI imagery ethics: Artists Sue Stable Diffusion and Midjourney for Using Their Work to Train AI That Steals Their Jobs
The post Vogue Just Used AI-Generated Imagery in a Nightmare Fuel Cover Shoot appeared first on Futurism.
The Juan Fernández fur seal, once thought extinct, can ingest cadmium without ill effects – though no one knows how
A creature that humans came very close to obliterating now offers hope that we may be able to find ways to tackle one of the most pernicious environmental poisons, say scientists.
Their research has revealed that one of the world’s most isolated aquatic mammals, Arctocephalus philippii, can tolerate high levels of cadmium, as well as other metallic pollutants, without suffering ill effects.Continue reading…
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-33402-wSeroprevalence of ANTI-
- Our Ivan Oransky is keynoting this year’s UKRIO conference, which is virtual.
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The week at Retraction Watch featured:
- Former cancer research center director plagiarized and faked data, feds say
- US-backed researchers in Colombia accused of experimenting on animals, humans without approval
- ‘Frankly abusive’: More questions about the journal that stole an author’s identity
- Torturing data to predict bitcoin prices: A book excerpt
- A response to a public records request that raised more questions than it answered
Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to more than 300. There are nearly 40,000 retractions in our database — which powers retraction alerts in EndNote, LibKey, Papers, and Zotero. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers?
Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):
- “Research Finds No Gender Bias in Academic Science.” About a new study.
- Wiley fires a philosophy journal editor.
- “Unsuspecting unis caught up in foreign research ‘fraud.’”
- “Chinese Censorship Is Quietly Rewriting the Covid-19 Story.”
- “The Geography of Retracted Papers.”
- “ChatGPT writes believable scientific abstracts, though with completely generated data.”
- “Reviewer comment on NSF fellowship application sparks outrage on Twitter.”
- “The Double-Cost of Green-via-Gold.”
- “Scientific rivalries can benefit us all.”
- “EU governments to rein in unfair academic publishers and unsustainable fees.”
- “Peer review bias and double-blind reviewing: a new study.” Here’s the study.
- “Unsuspecting unis caught up in foreign research ‘fraud.’”
- “The ‘invented persona’ behind a key pandemic database.”
- “More on Self-Correcting Science and Replications: A Critical Review.”
- “Median self-referencing rates are between 8-13% across a range of journals” in the biological sciences.
- “Sanctioning of 50 journals raises concerns over special issues in ‘mega-journals.’” Note the quote at the end.
- “NIH rules are supposed to stop ‘pass the harasser.’ In one recent case, they appear to have failed.”
- “How Do Scientists Perceive the Relationship Between Ethics and Science?”
- “Stanford president dodges research misconduct questions.”
- “The global cost of peer-review was estimated at US$6 billion in 2020…”
- A comparison of retractions in Nigeria and South Africa.
- “Journal retracts autism paper after spotting ‘tortured phrases.’”
- “Retracted publications in autism research are mostly concerned with ethical misconduct.”
- “Scrutiny for thee but not for me: When open science research isn’t open.”
- Our Ivan Oransky is keynoting this year’s UKRIO conference, which is virtual. Register here.
Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that’s not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIY GPT-Powered Monocle Will Tell You What to Say in Every Conversation
Chloe Xiang | Motherboard
“AI chatbots that can churn out convincing text are all the rage, but what if you could wear one on your face to feed you the right line for any given moment? To give you, as Gen Z calls sparkling charisma, rizz? ‘Say goodbye to awkward dates and job interviews,’ a Stanford student developer named Bryan Chiang tweeted in March.’i”
‘Indiana Jones 5’ Will Feature a De-Aged Harrison Ford for the First 25 Minutes
Sarah Fielding | Engadget
“Footage of Ford’s earlier roles was pulled from the Lucasfilm archives to [train the AI]. Ford also acted with dots across his face to aid the system—and with the agility of a young man, according to Mangold. Then, the technology would quickly do its thing. Mangold would ‘shoot Harrison on a Monday as, you know, a 79-year-old playing a 35-year-old, and I could see dailies by Wednesday with his head already replaced.’i”
The Secret History of AI, and a Hint at What’s Next
Christopher Mims | The Wall Street Journal
“The AI revolution is here. Recent developments like AI chatbots are important, but serve mostly to highlight that AI has been profoundly affecting our lives for decades—and will continue to for many more. What’s unique about this moment is that new systems like text-generating AIs, such as ChatGPT, and image-generating AIs, like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, are the first consumer applications of AI. They allow regular people to use AI to make things. That’s awoken many of us to its potential.”
The Quest for Longevity Is Already Over
Matt Reynolds | Wired
“We already live exceptionally long lives, [Jay Olshansky] points out. In 1990 [he] wrote a paper arguing that eliminating all forms of cancer—which was responsible for 22 percent of US deaths at the time—would only add three years to the average US life expectancy. Once you get to a certain age, if one thing doesn’t kill you, then there’s something else around the corner that will. Olshansky argues we should shift our attention to helping people live healthier lives, rather than simply focusing on overall lifespan.”
Artifact Can Now Summarize and Explain Articles to You Like You’re Five
Jay Peters | The Verge
“If you’re on the latest version of the app, you can summarize an article you’re reading by tapping the ‘Aa’ icon at the top of the screen and then on ‘Summarize.’ After a moment, the summary will appear at the top of your screen in a black box. You can also ask Artifact to summarize in different tones, including ‘Explain Like I’m Five,’ ‘Emoji,’ ‘Poem,’ and ‘Gen Z,’ by tapping the three dots menu in that black box.”
After Half a Century, There Is a Commercial Market for Moon Missions
Staff | The Economist
“As the listing and the orderbook bear witness, the biggest difference between ispace and the entities that have landed on the Moon before is that it is a private company. All previous landings have been by national space agencies. Companies did not attempt them because there was no commercial opportunity. Now, though, there is.”
Cryptocurrency Ethereum Has Slashed Its Energy Use by 99.99 Percent
Matthew Sparkes | New Scientist
“Alexander Neumüller at the University of Cambridge, who worked on the [CCAF] project, says the experimental update has been a technological success, achieving a ‘staggering’ reduction in electricity consumption. …The CCAF now estimates that Ethereum will consume just 6.6 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, equivalent to about 2,000 typical homes in the UK. In contrast, Ethereum’s previous consumption from its launch to the Merge totalled 58.3 TWh—comparable to Switzerland’s annual electricity consumption.”
AI Spam Is Already Flooding the Internet and It Has an Obvious Tell
Matthew Gault | Motherboard
“The frightening thing is that content that contains ‘as an AI language model’ or ‘I cannot generate inappropriate content’ only represents low effort spam that lacks quality control. Menczer said that the people behind the networks will only get more sophisticated. ‘We occasionally spot certain AI-generated faces and text patterns through glitches by careless bad actors,’ he said. ‘But even as we begin to find these glitches everywhere, they reveal what is likely only a very tiny tip of the iceberg.’i”
FUTURE OF FOOD
Inside the Struggle to Make Lab-Grown Meat
Kristina Peterson and Jesse Newman | The Wall Street Journal
“Many are skeptical that cultivated-meat companies—which rely on expensive technology to make a low-price commodity—will be able to produce meat affordable enough to make a meaningful dent soon in the more than $1 trillion global meat market. They expect hybrid products, often made with animal cells and other ingredients such as plant-based protein, to have a quicker, less costly path to market.”
Europe to ChatGPT: Disclose Your Sources
Sam Schechner | The Wall Street Journal
“Makers of artificial-intelligence tools such as ChatGPT would be required to disclose copyright material used in building their systems, according to a new draft of European Union legislation slated to be the West’s first comprehensive set of rules governing the rollout of AI. Such an obligation would give publishers and content creators a new weapon to seek a share of profits when their works are used as source material for AI-generated content by tools like ChatGPT.”
Image Credit: Clark Van Der Beken / Unsplash
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37460-6Here, the authors identify a frontostriatal circuit that is involved in regulating social interactions based on learned hierarchical relationships.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38083-7
|submitted by /u/EndlessSenseless
- Amazon is plowing ahead with its Amazon Clinic telehealth service, and in February it completed its acquisition of One Medical, a primary health care provider.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38212-2Magnetic field has been observed to promote oxygen evolution at some circumstance, however the reason for the enhancement remains unclear. Here, the authors show that enhancement is due to the disappearance of magnetic domain walls.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37917-8Applications of van der Waals magnetic systems are typically hampered by the low Curie temperature of van der Waals magnets. Here, Wang et al use molecular beam epitaxy to grow large films of Fe4GeTe2 with Curie temperatures over 500 K, and the film’s magnetic anisotropy can be tuned arbitrarily by controlling stoichiometry.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38121-4Methods to reanalyze scRNA-seq data in a spatial perspective are vital but lacking. Here, the authors develop scSpace, an integrative method that uses ST data as spatial reference to reconstruct the pseudo-space of scRNA-seq data and identify spatially variable cell subpopulations, providing insights into spatial heterogeneity from scRNA-seq data.
This is an edition of The Wonder Reader, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a set of stories to spark your curiosity and fill you with delight. Sign up here to get it every Saturday morning.
“Middle school is all about lunch,” the writer Lydia Denworth once heard a fellow parent say. When her son started middle school a month later, she realized the parent was right. In many schools, lunch “is the time of day when preteens have the most agency,” Denworth notes. “It is why the movies are filled with so many scenes of anxious children holding a tray and not being sure where to sit.”
The image of an anxious preteen holding a tuna sandwich (at least in my case, it was always a tuna sandwich) is a helpful descriptor of adolescence: The most everyday aspects of life are imbued with tremendous emotional intensity. No wonder many of us took comfort in stories about young people feeling those same big feelings.
Some of those stories came from the writer Judy Blume, and specifically her novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Blume does not call this book a young-adult novel; instead, she told my colleague Amy Weiss-Meyer, she was writing for “kids on the cusp.” Almost-12-year-old Margaret loves tuna fish, worries about fitting in with her new friends, and wonders when she’ll finally get her first period. Millions of readers like me have turned to Margaret since it was published in 1970, and this weekend marks the release of a movie based on the book.
Today’s reading list explores the indignities and excitements of life “on the cusp.” The definitive factor, to me, is the vulnerability with which adolescents bravely enter the world each day. When I met Blume in her Key West bookstore in 2020, tears sprung to my eyes. This could be because she’s a writer whose work means a lot to me, but I think it was also something more: Seeing her, I was immediately transported to the moments I first read her work, to a time when tears and sweat and joy and rage sprung forth, uninvited, over and over again.
The Outsize Influence of Your Middle-School Friends
By Lydia Denworth
The intensity of feelings generated by friendship in childhood and adolescence is by design.
By Amy Weiss-Meyer
A new generation discovers the poet laureate of puberty.
“Popular” Kids Aren’t That Special
By Joe Pinsker
They do play a role in setting a school’s norms—but kids’ parents and close friends have more sway. (From 2019)
- When are you really an adult?: The line between childhood and adulthood is blurrier than ever. (From 2016)
- The real reason young adults seem slow to grow up: It’s not a new developmental stage; it’s the economy.
- The sea-urchin murderer has finally been apprehended.
- Make yourself happy: Be kind.
- How to make friends, according to science (From 2018)
In 2018, my colleague Julie Beck did a great interview with Bo Burnham about his movie Eighth Grade. I’ll leave you with his description of that particular year of life: “I think eighth grade is a time where your self-awareness is just flicked on like a light,” he told Julie. “All of a sudden you look at yourself and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, have I been this the whole time?’ And then you’re trying to build a parachute as you’re falling.
“There’s a transparency to the way the kids socialize at that age that I think is very beautiful. Who you are, who you’re trying to be, and how you’re trying to be it are all very clean and clear and visible. You’re not really fooling anybody.”
My last personal slump was brought on by a succession of blows: a job change, bad luck and bad judgment in love, and a daunting milestone birthday. Less, Andrew Sean Greer’s hilarious and brilliant Pulitzer-winning novel, took the edge off; reading about a middling writer’s middle-life-panic-induced trip on the eve of his 50th birthday made me think my own midlife crises of confidence might be survivable. That occasion wasn’t the first time a book turned my life around. When I got stuck in the muck on my dissertation, other academics discussing their methods freed me—Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel’s The Popular Arts was a life raft. And after I had a health setback, John Bingham’s The Courage to Start put me on a path to the Miami Half Marathon.
Which genre works best for this kind of inspiration depends on the reader. Some will need a book that will break them down before lifting them back up. Others will find solace in a title that blends laughter and pathos. And not every issue can be jump-started by literature; sometimes there’s nothing else for it but professional help. But bibliotherapy, or healing through reading, has been shown to alleviate depression symptoms; even undertaken informally, it may lead to mood shifts.
If you’re in search of a boost or a push to change your life, the seven books below may help. Their stories of stress and triumph make the hard times feel less lonely, provide catharsis, and, in some cases, serve as a model for navigating the ebb and flow of our lives.
Oh My Mother! A Memoir in Nine Adventures, by Connie Wang
In some ways, this propelling memoir about a mother-daughter duo traveling around the world reads like a mash-up of Eat, Pray, Love and The Amazing Race, but the differences are delightful. In each essay, the journalist and memoirist Connie Wang explores her complicated connection with her charismatic mother, Qing Li, and what she terms the many “oh my mother” moments that arise during their adventures—roughly akin to oh my God, the phrase is a “polite expletive,” a way to mark a tiny moment of revelation. The author also dives into her family’s history: When Wang’s parents came to the United States in the late 1980s, they were something like, to paraphrase Wang, “accidental immigrants”—a move meant basically to be a “four-year vacation” became permanent when her academic father’s public solidarity with his peers in Tiananmen Square made China no longer a safe option. There’s also a deeper story here about the growth that comes from getting outside one’s comfort zone. Wang finds her relationship with her mom to be equal parts endearing and infuriating, as only familial ties can be. Their journey may motivate readers to see their own complicated-but-loving bonds in a new light.
[Read: The problem with mothers and daughters]
Mr. Loverman, by Bernardine Evaristo
In this earlier triumph by the Booker-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, a well-off 74-year-old man with a surfeit of charisma and swagger finds the courage to live his truth. “The whole point of a midlife crisis is to start living the life you want instead of tolerating the life you have,” Barry Walker thinks in 1990. And yet, between fear, social stigma, and familial obligations, it takes him another 20 years to make a move. By then, he’s raised two daughters and found financial success in England, but what he still lacks haunts him. He’s been in love with his best friend, Morris, since they were teens in Antigua, and for almost all of that time, he’s also been hiding behind his marriage to Carmel, a righteously religious woman who thinks her husband’s great sin is being a womanizer. The journey to the life he’s dreamed about is filled with wit, revelations, and an intriguing cast of secondary characters. Still, Barry’s grand plans for self-actualization don’t take Carmel’s feelings into account, and the chapters that center her distinctive, idiomatic voice balance the novel. The story, about facing and telling the truth, is brilliant for anyone who’s ever had a dream they were afraid to pursue—or who felt they needed to hide parts of themselves for survival or acceptance.
The Chinese Groove, by Kathryn Ma
The struggles between belonging and liminality, and between delusion and hope, are the beating heart of Ma’s softly satirical new novel. In China’s Yunnan province, Zheng Xue Li, also known as Shelley, is nominally part of a family, but he’s descended from a widely loathed branch and is effectively an outcast. His mother is gone, his only loving relation is with his grief-stricken father, and his relatives hate him. So when his father sends him to San Francisco in January 2015 to study and live with his supposedly rich uncle Ted (in reality a second cousin once removed), Shelley is hoping that this is where he’ll finally belong. Shelley also pins his hopes on the “Chinese groove”—his term for a communal bond with his Chinese-born “countrymen”—from which he’s sure goodwill and support will flow. Reality is more messy and interesting. California presents fresh challenges: Shelley’s situation is precarious, and San Francisco is no progressive Eden. But through the hardships and hustle, Shelley gets to know his adopted city while discovering the inner resources he needs to fight for himself and others—and to finally find his people. His optimism and savvy are contagious.
[Read: The California dream is dying]
Time’s Undoing, by Cheryl A. Head
A mystery that revolves around a brutal act of racial violence may sound like an unusual choice for someone seeking a boost, but one of the most uplifting things you can experience through fiction is the vicarious rush of seeing justice served. Head excels in this great pleasure of a crime novel. She infuses her challenging subject with a finely calibrated balance of vulnerability, care, and empowerment; the effect is galvanizing. Meghan McKenzie, a Detroit-based investigative journalist covering the Black Lives Matter movement, goes south to Alabama to confront the nearly century-old murder of her own great-grandfather. In addition to gaining resolution for that open wound, she finds a connection to her ancestral roots and new love, while uncovering secrets with present-day implications. Getting long-deferred truth and closure is no small matter, and Meghan’s advocacy gives hope that progress and growth are possible when we reckon forthrightly with the past. Few books feel more timely or needed than this one.
All the Lonely People, by Mike Gayle
This is a charming, sentimental book about loneliness that makes you feel less alone. Hubert Bird, a reclusive Jamaican widower and an accidental fabulist, has been lying to his beloved daughter, Rose, for five years. After a disturbing incident, he turned his back on the world, and has been hiding away in his South London apartment ever since. Apart from taking care of his cat, Hubert’s prime activity is making weekly calls to Rose, where he constructs a rich life out of whole cloth so that she won’t worry. (The lies get so elaborate that he needs a notebook to keep track.) All goes according to plan—until Rose announces that she’s finally coming back to England for a visit, and Hubert is forced to try to make some real friends to keep up the ruse. This leads to a surprising acquaintance with Ashleigh, a single mom who’s new in the neighborhood, and life opens up from there. In a fractured, pandemic-scarred age, many of us can easily relate to Hubert’s predicament; Gayle’s novel reminds readers about the perils of isolation and the possibilities of reconnection, and that sweetness and generosity are worth seeking. It’s like gentle aversion therapy for the lonely.
[Read: Life is worse for older people now]
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted, by Suleika Jaouad
Watching someone fall ill just as they’re finding their way can feel confusing and unjust. But in Jaouad’s elegant mash-up of memoir and travel writing, the coming-of-age and survivor’s tales merge into something truly special. This deeply candid account documents the young journalist’s experience with a life-threatening cancer, her treatment, and the 15,000-mile journey of spiritual healing she took once the acute physical danger subsided. In the months before she got sick, the author graduated from Princeton, moved to Paris, fell grandly in love, and was on the cusp of securing her dream job. At the same time, there were persistent signs that something was gravely wrong. Her diagnosis was devastating, but it was also a turning point toward recovery. She chronicles all of it: falling ill in her prime, starting a blog, falling out of love, and visiting with virtual strangers across the United States, who had followed along with her posts and kept her company through years of treatment. This sensitive meditation on those years explores how illness splits a person’s life in two. (The book’s title comes from a related Susan Sontag quote about that bifurcation.) What makes it inspiring is the propulsive energy and beauty of the story, and the fact that readers know she’s moving toward a vibrant future.
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, by Angie Cruz
In 12 near-therapeutic sessions, Cara Romero, a Dominican immigrant in New York, tells her life story to a counselor at a government job-retraining program for older people. Estranged from much of her family and unemployed since the factory she’d worked at for more than 25 years shipped her job overseas, she’s baring her soul to the city employee to secure a fresh start. But the 56-year-old is also reflective and blunt as she reveals all that she’s navigated over the decades. To begin, Cara announces, “I came to this country because my husband wanted to kill me.” Departing her home with a baby and almost no money was hard; her son leaving their home (and her) for good at 18 years old was even harder. The care of a friend, letting loose and crying “until you don’t need to cry no more,” helped save her. Witnessing Cara’s story is like a secondhand catharsis. Though the novel delivers more pathos than laughs, the protagonist is unforgettable, learning and changing in her 50s, making the most of her tiny victories. For anyone facing their own dark days, it’s a profoundly encouraging experience.
This article was originally published in Hakai Magazine.
They found the victims floating in the water. Some had eyeballs full of air bubbles; others had their stomachs pushed up into their mouths. Many had severe internal bleeding.
Volcanoes can be life-threatening for fish. A major eruption in 2011 in Chile, for instance, killed 4.5 million of them. Researchers have studied how lava flows, hot gases, and deadly debris can cause mass die-offs or even keep fish from the sea in suddenly landlocked lakes. But few have been able to document in detail the grisly fates experienced by the unlucky fish that find themselves at the mercy of an angry volcano. That’s why when one erupted underwater off the coast of El Hierro, in the Canary Islands, for nearly 150 days in late 2011 and early 2012, researchers including Ayoze Castro-Alonso at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria saw the perfect opportunity to study the intricacies of these piscine casualties.
Ten years later, the devastating eruption of a terrestrial volcano on nearby La Palma, another of the Canary Islands, gave Alonso and his colleagues a chance to see an altogether different way that volcanoes can butcher unsuspecting fish—by overwhelming them with debris.
[Read: The Mauna Loa eruption is a gift for science]
The scientists detail in a new paper the shocking injuries suffered by 49 fishes killed by the El Hierro eruption and 14 fishes killed by the volcanism near La Palma. “It’s a volcanic eruption in both cases, but the pathological syndromes are completely different,” Alonso says. “One is acute, the other is chronic.”
The underwater eruption near El Hierro superheated the water by as much as 19 degrees Celsius, reduced the oxygen level, and rapidly acidified the ocean. Alonso and his colleagues found fishes with gas bubbles in their bodies. The team concluded that the injuries occurred while the fishes were still alive, because the scientists found signs of physical trauma and a severe buildup of blood in the fishes’ tissues.
The researchers’ detailed necropsies also hint that the fishes may have made a fateful dash for safety. Once the El Hierro eruption was under way, Alonso says, the fishes ascended rapidly. “They tried to escape,” he says.
It’s possible that, as the fishes swam upward, sudden depressurization caused the gases dissolved in their bodies to bubble out, accounting for the bubbles in their eyes and under their skin. Depressurization would also explain why the animals’ stomachs were pushed up into their mouths and why some had overinflated swim bladders. These gas-filled organs expand when fish rise toward the surface.
On La Palma, though, molten lava flowed over land and into the ocean where the sudden clash with cold water quenched it into a glassy rock known as hyaloclastite. Soon after, huge clouds of volcanic ash settled into the water. Fish died after their gills became clogged with ash, or after their digestive tracts were impacted with fragments of glassy hyaloclastite.
Some of the findings are familiar to Todd Crowl, an ecologist at Florida International University who was not involved in the current study but who witnessed an eruption on Dominica, in the Caribbean, during the 1990s. A few centimeters of ash fell on the island, Crowl says, contaminating streams and killing thousands of filter-feeding shrimp. “All that ash just completely clogged up” the shrimp’s filters, he says.
Alonso and his colleagues believe their research is the first to analyze the wounds fish suffer during a volcanic eruption in such detail—in part because getting access to the victims while their bodies are still fresh is incredibly difficult. After the eruptions at El Hierro and La Palma, local officials gathered up stricken fishes and shipped them on ice to the researchers within a matter of days.
[Read: The surprise hiding in the DNA of pet fish]
Crowl says this rapid collection let the scientists conduct their analyses before the fishes rotted away. “We get fish kills all the time in Florida because of algal blooms and stuff like that,” he says. “But by the time we get the specimens, there’s lots of degradation.”
The volcano ecologist Charlie Crisafulli, formerly of the U.S. Forest Service, who was not involved in the work, agrees that the study of such fresh victims is novel: “We haven’t seen this before.” However, Crisafulli isn’t certain that the fishes killed by the El Hierro eruption actively tried to flee. Alternatively, they might have been stunned by the rapid changes in their environment and simply floated upward in a state of shock.
Though all of this seems deeply unpleasant, Crisafulli stresses there is a bigger picture here worth thinking about. Volcanoes kill, but they also create. Eruptions contribute nutrients to the environment, and lava flows build new land—sometimes entire islands.
“With this so-called destruction and loss of life, also there’s the creation of new habitats,” Crisafulli says. “What was initially a loss ends up becoming a gain through time.”
Shortly after his 18th season with the Green Bay Packers ended with an uncharacteristic thud, Aaron Rodgers, the Super Bowl winner and future Hall of Fame quarterback, announced that he would be spending four days and four nights isolating himself at an Oregon “darkness retreat”—a cave, basically—during which he would contemplate his future. The Packers wanted to move on, start over, and Rodgers, now 39, needed to decide if he did too, or if it was time to retire. After nearly 100 hours with zero natural light, Rodgers emerged back into society with an answer: He would play for at least one more season, and he would do it for the New York Jets.
What the hell happened to him down there?
As a long-suffering Jets fan, trust me when I say that rooting for the Jets is like rooting for the Mets, but even sadder and less rewarding. The Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl—haven’t been to the Super Bowl—since 1969, and haven’t even reached the playoffs since 2010. Since then, the franchise’s highest-profile moments have been the time ex-Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez fumbled the ball after slipping and colliding into his own lineman’s rear end (the fabled “Butt Fumble”) and the time another ex-Jets quarterback, Geno Smith, got sucker-punched in the locker room by a teammate, who broke his jaw. Not since Joe Namath in the late 1960s have the Jets had a player whom anyone would describe as “electrifying.” The joke around football is that our team name is really an acronym, that “JETS” stands for “Just End The Season,” and that the only real mystery in a Jets season is how early we start deploying that motto. We’re not just lousy. We’re dull.
We even tried this strategy before—embracing a legendary Packers QB after the Packers no longer wanted him—in 2008, with Brett Favre, who wound up throwing as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns and humiliated the team by sending lewd photos and text messages to a female NFL reporter, prompting a league investigation that, of course, this being the NFL, resulted in no suspension and a $50,000 fine. He tore his bicep 11 games into his only season in New York, and that was the end of the Jets’ Brett Favre era. In hindsight, we were a perfect match.
Surely Aaron Rodgers has heard about us. Surely he understands what he’s attaching his name to. The Jets front office surrendered significant draft capital to get him—the Jets’ first- and second-round picks in this past week’s draft, and their second-round pick in 2024, which becomes their first-round pick if Rodgers plays 65 percent of the Jets’ offensive snaps this season, or roughly 12 out of 17 games. That’s a lot for a guy who might play only one more season. And yet, in spite of the fact that he will turn 40 in December, and had the worst season of his career last year, and may have lost his passion for the game, and might only be playing because he’s owed $50 million this season and almost $60 million the next as long as he plays for someone, he will nevertheless be the most gifted football player ever to put on a Jets uniform, and far and away our best quarterback, even now, even at his advanced age. Which is why you won’t find a single halfway reasonable Jets fan who is anything less than ecstatic about Rodgers’s arrival, even though we know, with decades of evidence to back us up, that this is bound to end very badly.
I don’t care! Rodgers is bringing a measure of credibility to a franchise known for butt-fumbling it away. At a press conference announcing the decision, Rodgers said all the right things. He wore No. 12 with Green Bay, but he’ll wear No. 8 with the Jets—his number in college at Cal—because 12 is the one number you can’t wear on the Jets. “Twelve,” Rodgers acknowledged, “is Broadway Joe.” In another nod to Namath, he said the Jets’ sole Lombardi trophy, from Super Bowl III, “looks a little lonely.”
Rodgers is funny, smart, and charismatic on camera—three things the Jets haven’t had since Rex Ryan was head coach and his foot fetish got bigger tabloid headlines than his football team. Rodgers guest-hosted Jeopardy for a stretch in 2021 and very much wanted the full-time job. He dates movie stars and goes on ayahuasca journeys. Forget about wins and losses. Rodgers makes the Jets infinitely more interesting just by walking in the door.
He’s also—let’s be blunt—a super weird fit. Jets fans are not exactly a Jeopardy crowd. We do not appreciate being told to rephrase things as a question. We’ve always been the down-market team in New York relative to the Giants, the Mets to their Yankees, the Islanders to their Rangers, with a salty blue-collar fan base that takes pride in being uncouth and that Timothée Chalamet, of all people, somehow managed to nail on Saturday Night Live. The exit rotundas at the old Meadowlands Stadium were a drunken hellscape. Some of our more imaginative ogres used to drop quarters from the top of the spiral footpath down onto the grassy center, then wait for a kid to come grab it and dump beer on him from above. J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets! Don’t even get me started on Fireman Ed.
At the press conference, reporters took turns gently probing Rodgers on whether he understood what he was getting himself into, and many of his answers could be paraphrased as yes, I’m aware. He insisted that his fling with the Jets wasn’t “a one-and-done in my mind. This is a commitment.” We’ll see about that.
And yet if we remove those Gang Green–tinted glasses, the ones that give everything a vague hue of vomit, it’s not hard to see why Rodgers believes, or at least says he believes, that the Jets can win a Super Bowl. The team went 7–10 last season, but it was a frisky 7–10, lots of close games, and the roster was young, well coached, and loaded with talent, especially at wide receiver. In a rare sweep, a pair of Jets—wide receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Sauce Gardner—wound up winning the NFL’s offensive and defensive rookie of the year awards. The team’s winning percentage hovered around .500 all season, despite the worst quarterbacking in the league, and it played semi-meaningful games into December. “Just End The Season” didn’t get deployed until the season ended. Jets fans actually enjoyed watching this team, not because they were good, per se, but because they were promising—and when you’re a Jets fan, promising is as good as it gets.
The Rodgers trade had been gestating for weeks, and I was beginning to wonder if this would wind up as another Jetsy chapter in our franchise history—that time we actually thought we were going to get Aaron Rodgers. Instead, shortly after news of the trade broke, the Jets’ Vegas odds of winning the Super Bowl shot up to sixth-highest in the league. Suddenly, four words that have never been associated with the Jets started getting thrown around on sports-talk shows: fashionable Super Bowl pick. The Jets! Do you know how long we’ve waited just to be a fashionable Super Bowl pick? This is already our best season in years, and it hasn’t begun yet.
In 2021, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the few NFL franchises as bungling as ours, won the Super Bowl after Tom Brady ditched Bill Belichick and the Patriots to play for them, so there is some recent precedent here. Brady has also obliterated notions of how long a quarterback can perform at an elite level. He led the NFL in passing yardage at 43. He makes Rodgers look like a puppy. During a game last season against the Bills, on October 30—outdoors, in Buffalo—I watched with astonishment as Rodgers flicked a pass 70 yards downfield, right on target, like it was nothing, before one of his lousy receivers dropped it. His arm, at least, is as golden as ever.
Rodgers isn’t Brady, but he’s awfully close, and he’s always been the more physically gifted of the two. Few quarterbacks have ever played at a higher level. So if Brady can win a ring with the Bucs, why can’t A-Rodg do it with the Jets?
Even if Rodgers is washed up, relative to peak Rodgers, every Jets fan in creation would still choose him over what we rolled out last season: a three-man rotation consisting of a genuinely washed-up former Super Bowl winner (Joe Flacco), an undrafted career backup who pulled off a few plucky wins (Mike White), and the worst starting quarterback in the NFL last season by nearly every statistical metric, Zach Wilson. Going from Zach Wilson to Aaron Rodgers is like going from a potato to Aaron Rodgers. We just need a seasoned pilot. Merely good would be a quantum leap.
Rodgers is a student of history (Jeopardy), so he’s perhaps already calculated that even if things do go off the rails with the Jets, the world will forget that this peculiar union ever happened, just like people have probably already forgotten that Favre once played for the Jets, or that Michael Jordan played a few years for the Washington Wizards. And those who do remember will blame us, not him. We have no idea how this will go. We know exactly how this will go. Just start the season.
*Source Images: David Eulitt / Getty; Elsa / Getty; Grant Halverson / Getty; Stacy Revere / Getty
In 1868, Senator Waitman Willey, of the newly formed antislavery state of West Virginia, stood on the floor of Congress to argue for the proposed Fourteenth Amendment’s provision disqualifying former Confederate officers from holding office in the recently reunified country. He asserted that the proposal was “a measure of self-defense.” He evidently felt this argument to be so crucial that it required repeated emphasis and explanation. He expanded, “Being a permanent provision of the Constitution, [the provision] is intended to operate as a preventive of treason hereafter by holding out to the people of
that such will be the penalty of the offense if they dare to commit it.” He repeated, “It is therefore not a measure of punishment, but a measure of self-defense.”
The proposal passed by a wide margin and eventually became part of the Constitution.
Despite this history, a narrative has developed that defensive democracy—a tradition of passing and enforcing laws to defend democratic institutions from authoritarian threats—does not and cannot exist in America. Defensive democracy’s critics argue that it unavoidably violates our Bill of Rights, because the freedoms of speech and assembly should always include the right to attack any government, whether or not it’s a democracy; your authoritarian is my freedom fighter. In one of the few book-length American treatises on defensive democracy, the Duke University political theorist Alexander Kirshner writes about the “paradox” of defensive democracy: “In avoiding the Scylla of Weimar, it is best not to steer into the Charybdis of McCarthyism.”
But likening defensive democracy to McCarthyism is a dangerous mistake. Although there is much to fear in the abuse of state power against political opponents, the fact is that a viable, valuable American tradition of defensive democracy exists, and we need to revive it today rather than reject wholesale a set of tools the country desperately needs at this crucial moment of democratic fragility.
[Adam Serwer: The Capitol riot was an attack on multiracial democracy]
The idea of defensive democracy goes back to ancient Athens—which passed into law measures, including exiling any demagogue for 10 years, to protect its democracy—and to the fight against fascism across Europe in the 20th century. In 1935, after Weimar Germany crumpled to Nazism, Karl Loewenstein, a Jewish German political scientist teaching in America, wrote two famous articles for the American Political Science Review, in which he proposed a theory of defensive democracy, or wehrhafte demokratie. In Loewenstein’s hands, defensive democracy (also translated as “militant democracy”) comprised laws by which the democratic state defended itself from antidemocratic forces, as in (at the time of the article’s writing) Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. Finland, for instance, prohibited the formation of private armies within political parties. Belgium passed statutes to prevent the abuse of parliamentary procedures by political extremists—for instance, through frivolous side elections. Switzerland passed a law imposing certain limits on political assemblies to avoid physical clashes between political opponents. Above all, Loewenstein argued that such measures needed to be insulated from partisanship, even suggesting that officials enforcing defensive democracy should not belong to any political party at all.
In the decades since, those ideas have spread around the world. Many democracies, including Germany, Israel, and India, have laws banning violent political speech, parties, or candidates undermining democracy. Germany today maintains an Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which detects and surveils antidemocratic actors and organizations. The leader of the office describes his charge: “We are the early warning system of democracy.”
America’s own defensive-democracy tradition is admittedly narrower than those in some Western European countries that lack our strong free-speech and assembly rights. Yet it is still undeniably robust, including at least three significant safeguards—prohibiting seditionists from serving in office, preventing unpermitted paramilitary activity, and prosecuting insurrection.
Although the Fourteenth Amendment’s provision against insurrectionists holding office has not been often put to use—there have not been many insurrections, mercifully—it is part of the Constitution, available when the need arises. In September 2022, it was employed by a judge in New Mexico, who removed Couy Griffin, a county commissioner in Otero County, from office for his participation in the January 6 insurrection. In his decision, the judge observed the “irony of Mr. Griffin’s” that he should be allowed to “defend his participation in an insurrection by a mob whose goal, by his own admission, was to set aside the results of a free, fair and lawful election.”
As for paramilitary activity, 49 states have laws on the books stating that paramilitary organizations can legally operate only with the permission of the civilian authority. These laws sit on the bedrock of solid federal and state law. In 1886, the Supreme Court held that “military operations and military drill are subjects especially under the control of the government of every country. They cannot be claimed as a right independent of law.” A New York appellate court noted in 1944, “The inherent potential danger of any organized private militia is obvious. Its existence would be sufficient, without more, to prevent a democratic form of government, such as ours, from functioning freely, without coercion.”
These laws were employed by Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, and by the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, while I was the city’s mayor. Together, we successfully sued more than 10 paramilitary groups that had invaded Charlottesville during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally to prevent them from reentering the city. Notably, the militias we blocked were on both the left and the right, ranging from the white-supremacist Atomwaffen group to the far-left antifa group Redneck Revolt.
American laws against seditious conspiracy and against advocating for overthrowing the government are quintessential defensive democracy. The law that makes up this pillar of America’s defensive-democracy tradition was passed by Congress after the Civil War to punish those who “conspire to overthrow, [to] put down, or to destroy by force” the federal government, and anyone who “knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying” federal or state governments by force, violence, or assassination. These laws are now leading to conviction after conviction (or guilty pleas, in many cases) for those who participated in January 6, including multiple leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
[David A. Graham: It was sedition]
In addition to these three methods of American defensive democracy, we should consider an approach similar to federal hate-crime laws: adding a proven attack on democracy—assaulting an elected official, preventing the peaceful transfer of power—as an aggravating factor in the prosecution and sentencing of an existing statutory crime.
American democracy, at its best, innovates within our laws and principles to address the threats of the time. We can respond, just as the nations who resisted fascism in the 1930s did, by embracing defensive democracy. Our history, our ambitions, and our troubling times demand nothing less.
Kyrsten Sinema knows what everybody says about her. She pretends not to read the press coverage—“I don’t really care”—but she knows. She knows what her colleagues call her behind her back (“egomaniac,” “traitor”). She knows how many articles The New York Times has published about her wardrobe (five). She feels misunderstood, and she would like to explain herself.
We’re sitting across from each other in her “hideaway,” a small, windowless room in the basement of
. Capitol Building. Every senator gets one of these subterranean, chamber-adjacent bunkers, and most are outfitted with dark, utilitarian furniture. But Sinema’s walls are pale pink, the couches burnt orange, and desert-themed tchotchkes evoking her native Arizona are interspersed among bottles of wine and liquor.
Sinema tells me that there are several popular narratives about her in the media, all of them “inaccurate.” One is that she’s “mysterious,” “mercurial,” “an enigma”—that she makes her decisions on unknowable whims. She regards this portrayal as “fairly absurd”: “I think I’m a highly predictable person.”
“Then,” she goes on, “there’s the She’s just doing what’s best for her and not for her state or for her country” narrative. “And I think that’s a strange narrative, particularly when you contrast it with”—here she pauses, and then smirks—“ya know, the facts.”
You can see, in moments like these, why she bothers people. She speaks in a matter-of-fact staccato, her tone set frequently to smug. She says things like “I am a long-term thinker in a short-term town” and “I prefer to be successful.” The overall effect, if you’re not charmed by it (and a lot of her Republican colleagues are), is condescension bordering on arrogance. Sinema, who graduated from high school at 16 and college at 18, carries herself like she is unquestionably the smartest person in the room.
No one would mistake her for being dumb, though. In the past two years, Sinema has been at the center of virtually every major piece of bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate, negotiating deals on infrastructure, guns, and a bill that codifies the right to same-sex marriage. She has also become a villain to the left, proudly standing in the way of Democrats’ more ambitious agenda by refusing to eliminate the filibuster. The tension culminated with her announcement in December that she was leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent.
[Lee Drutman: Kyrsten Sinema and the myth of political independence]
Sinema hasn’t given many in-depth interviews since then, but she says she agreed to meet with me because she wants to show that what she’s doing “works.” She thinks that, unfashionable though it may be, her approach to legislating—compromise, centrism, bipartisan consensus-building—is the only way to get anything done in Washington. I was interested in a separate, but related, question: What exactly is she trying to get done? Much of the discussion around Sinema has focused on the puzzle of what she really believes. What does Kyrsten Sinema want? What Does Kyrsten Sinema stand for? The subtext in these headlines is that if you dig deep enough, a secret belief system will be revealed. Is she a progressive opportunistically cosplaying as a centrist? A conservative finally showing her true colors? The truth, according to Sinema herself, is that there is no ideological core to discover.
I learn this when I describe for Sinema the story I hear most often about her: that she started out as an idealistic progressive activist—organizing protests against the Iraq War, marching for undocumented immigrants in 100-degree heat, leading the effort to defeat a gay-marriage ban in Arizona—but that gradually she sold out her youthful idealism and morphed into a Washington moderate who pals around with Republicans and protects tax breaks for hedge-fund managers.
To my surprise, Sinema doesn’t really push back on this one. For one thing, she tells me, she’s proud that she outgrew the activism of her youth. It was, in her own assessment, “a spectacular failure.”
I ask her to elaborate.
“Well,” she says, with a derisive shrug. “You can make a poster and stand out on the street, but at the end of the day all you have is a sunburn. You didn’t move the needle. You didn’t make a difference … I set about real quick saying, ‘This doesn’t work.’”
Listening to her talk this way about activism, it’s hard not to think about the protesters who have hounded her in recent years. They chase her through airports, yell at her at weddings. In one controversial episode, a group of student protesters at Arizona State University followed her into the bathroom, continuing to film as they hectored her. (The ASU police recommended misdemeanor charges against four students involved.)
I ask Sinema if, as a former activist herself, she could understand where those students were coming from. Would she have done the same thing when she was young?
“Break the law?” she scoffs. “No.”
She doesn’t like civil disobedience, thinks it drives more people away than it attracts. More to the point, Sinema contends, the activists who spend their time noisily berating her in person and online aren’t doing much for the causes they purport to care about. “I am much happier showing a two-year record of incredible achievements that are literally making a difference in people’s lives than sharing my thoughts on Twitter.” She punctuates these last words with the sort of contempt that only someone who’s tweeted more than 17,000 times can feel.
It’s not just the activism she’s discarded; it’s also the left-wing politics. Sinema, who described herself in 2006 as “the most liberal legislator in the state of Arizona,” freely admits that she’s much less progressive than she used to be. While her critics contend that she adjusted her politics to win statewide office in Arizona, she chalks up the evolution to “age and maturity.” She bristles at the idea that politicians shouldn’t be allowed to change their mind. “Imagine a world in which everybody who represented you refused to grow or change or learn if presented with new information,” she tells me. “That’s very dangerous for our democracy. So perhaps what I’m most proud of is that I’m a lifelong learner.”
Still, Sinema insists that people overstate how much she’s changed. Leaving the Democratic Party was, in her telling, a kind of homecoming. “I’m not a joiner,” she says. “It’s not my thing.” She points out that she wasn’t a Democrat when she started in politics. I point out that at the time she was aligned with the Green Party. She demurs.
“I never think about where [my position] is on the political spectrum, because I don’t care,” she tells me. “People will say, ‘Oh, we don’t know what her position is.’ Well, I may not have one yet. And I know that’s weird in this town, but I actually want to do all of the research, get as much knowledge as possible, spend all of the time doing the work before I make a decision.”
I ask her if there’s any ideological through line at all that explains the various votes she’s taken in the Senate. She thinks about it before answering, “No.”
She says she’s guided by an unchanging set of “values”—she mentions freedom, opportunity, and security—that virtually all Americans share. When it comes to legislating, Sinema sees herself as “practical”—a dealmaker, a problem solver. And if taking every policy question on a case-by-case basis bewilders some in Washington, Sinema says it’s just her nature. Even in her private life, she tells me, she’s prone to slow, painstaking deliberation. I ask for an example.
“It took me eight years to decide what to get for my first tattoo,” she offers.
So what did you decide on? I ask.
“I don’t actually want to share that.”
To illustrate the effectiveness of her legislative approach, she likes to point to the gun-control bill she helped pass last year. It began the day after a man opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 kids. Sinema made a rare comment to the press, telling reporters that she was going to approach her colleagues about potential legislative solutions. From there, she recalls, she went straight to the Senate floor and asked Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “Who should I work with?” He pointed her to Republican Senators John Cornyn and Thom Tillis, both of whom she immediately texted. A few minutes after that, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, texted her asking if she meant what she’d said to the press. “I was like, ‘I’m Kyrsten. I always mean what I say.’”
[Conor Friedersdorf: The Senate needs more Kyrsten Sinemas]
“The next morning, four of us senators sat right here and had our first meeting,” she tells me. “Twenty-eight days later, we had a bill.”
It was the first gun-control bill to pass Congress in nearly 30 years, and getting the deal done wasn’t easy. But Sinema says she followed a few lessons she’d learned from past negotiations. The first was to ignore the reporters who were camped out in the hallways. “We would come out of the meeting, and they would be like little vultures outside the door asking what just happened,” she recalls. “Why on earth would I tell anyone what just happened in the meeting when I’m trying to nail down some of the most difficult elements of an agreement?”
Her allergy to the Capitol Hill press corps—which she tells me is generally obsessed with covering “the petty and the hysterical”—was not shared by all of her colleagues. “There are some folks who really enjoy talking to the press so they can tell them what they think or whatever. I’m not that interested in telling people what I think.”
Another principle she followed was to prioritize dealing directly with her colleagues in person. She’d found that many bipartisan negotiations get bogged down early on with a process termed “trading paper,” wherein senators’ staffs exchange proposals and counterproposals until they agree on legislative language—or, more often, reach an impasse. “When I first got here, I was like, What are you doing?” She says disagreements can be resolved much more quickly by getting her colleagues in a room and refusing to leave until they’ve figured it out.
This is why when progressives criticize her as flaky, dilettantish, or out of her depth, it strikes her as fundamentally gendered. More than any other line of attack, this seems to really bother her. She points to Democratic Representative Ro Khanna, who said in 2021 that Sinema lacked “the basic competence” to be in Congress.
“I mean, when there are … elected officials who say ‘She’s in over her head,’ or ‘She’s not substantive,’ or ‘She doesn’t know what she’s talking about’—that is, um, absurd,” she tells me, her tone sharpening. “Because I know every detail of every piece of legislation. And it’s okay if others don’t. They weren’t in the room when we were writing it.” She added that Khanna “doesn’t know me, and I don’t know him. The term colleague is to be loosely applied there.” (Asked for comment, Khanna told me that he’d criticized Sinema during the debate over the Build Back Better bill “because she was unwilling to explain her position and engage with the press, her colleagues, and the public.”)
The result of all the laborious gun-control negotiations was the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was signed into law last June. The law expanded background checks for gun buyers under 21, enhanced mental-health services in schools, and provided funding for states to implement “red-flag laws,” which allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from individuals deemed dangerous. Critics on the left dismissed the law as a half measure. But to Sinema, the fact that she and her colleagues made any progress on such an intractable issue was validation for her method of operating.
Patient, painful bipartisan dealmaking, she tells me, is “the only approach that works. Because the other approaches make a lot of noise but don’t get anything done.”
I ask her what other approaches she’s thinking of.
“I don’t know,” Sinema says with a shrug. “Yelling?”
Members of her former party would argue that there was another option for enacting their policy vision—eliminating the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation in the Senate, to start passing bills with simple majorities—but Sinema ensured that was impossible. She makes no apologies for voting to preserve the filibuster last year. In fact, she tells me, she would reinstate it for judicial nominees. She believes that the Democrats who want to be able to pass sweeping legislation with narrow majorities have forgotten that one day Republicans will be in control again. “When people are in power, they think they’ll never lose power.”
[Read: A troubling sign for 2024]
Before departing her hideaway, I return to Sinema’s central argument—that her approach “works.” It’s hard to evaluate objectively. What to make of a senator who leaves her party, professes to have no ideological agenda, and yet manages to wield outsize influence in writing the laws of the nation? Some might look at her record and see a hollow careerism that prizes bipartisanship for its own sake. Others might argue that in highly polarized times, politicians like her are necessary to grease the gears of a dysfunctional government.
One thing is clear, though: If Sinema wants to persuade other political leaders to take the same path she has taken, she’ll need to demonstrate that it’s electorally viable. So far, the polls in Arizona suggest she would struggle to get reelected as an independent in 2024; she already has challengers on the right and the left. A survey earlier this year found that she was among the most unpopular senators in the country.
Sinema tells me she hasn’t decided yet whether she’ll seek reelection, but she talks like someone who’s not planning on it. She’s only 46 years old; she has other interests. “I’m not only a senator,” she tells me. “I’m also lots of other things.” I ask if she worries about what lessons will be drawn in Washington if her independent turn leads to the end of her political career.
She pauses and answers with a smirk: “I don’t worry about hypotheticals.”
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34321-6Stereocomplexed microparticles loaded with Salvia cadmica Boiss. extracts for enhancement of immune response towards Helicobacter pylori
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Our galaxy’s enormous scaffolding is shaped by complex magnetic fields
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38210-4Serine/threonine kinases (STKs) regulate the synthesis of capsular polysaccharide in bacteria through unclear mechanisms. Here, Tang et al. identify a protein that is phosphorylated by an STK and modulates the activity of a phosphoregulatory system in Streptococcus suis, thus linking STKs to capsular polysaccharide synthesis.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38241-x
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38209-xMechanical scratching and oxidative stress can aggravate
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34064-4Dietary phytochemical index is favorably associated with oxidative stress status and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-33986-3Human health-risk assessment of heavy metal–contaminated soil based on Monte Carlo simulation
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-31888-yPhytochemical screening and in-vitro biological properties of unprocessed and household processed fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.) seeds and leaves
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34218-4Heavy metals in the sediments of urban sinkholes in Cancun, Quintana Roo
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37430-yHow cells shape signalling dynamics in MAPK cascades remains unclear. Here the authors combine mathematical modelling with in vivo validation to uncover a novel feedback mechanism that increases processivity and robustness of the yeast Hog1 module.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38223-zZika virus poses a potential threat to male reproductive health but the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. To address this question, the study by Yang et al performs single-cell RNA sequencing with ZIKV-infected mice testes. The authors find that spermatogenic cells are fragile to ZIKV infection and the complement system components produced by infiltrated S100A4 + monocytes/macrophages are crucial for the injury of spermatogenic cells.
|submitted by /u/esprit-de-lescalier
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-33746-3Self-care barriers and facilitators in older adults with T1D during a time of sudden isolation
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34250-4Occupational exposure to HIV and utilization of post-exposure prophylaxis among healthcare workers at St. Peter’s specialized hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-29146-2Comparison of postoperative outcomes between bikini-incision via direct anterior approach and posterolateral approach in simultaneous bilateral total hip arthroplasty: a randomized controlled trial
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34024-ySustainable development goals as unifying narratives in large UK firms’ Twitter discussions
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-33951-0Enriched environment exposure during development positively impacts the structure and function of the visual cortex in mice
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34133-8Short-term inflow forecasting in a dam-regulated river in Southwest Norway using causal variational mode decomposition
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34171-2Identification and phenotypic characterization of patients with LADA in a population of southeast Mexico
Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34291-9Use of machine learning-based integration to develop an immune-related signature for improving prognosis in patients with
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37545-2A bifunctional dual-atom photocatalysts with La and Ni sites is shown to be have efficient generation and transfer of photocarriers from the optically active La center to the catalytically active Ni center for promoting efficient CO2 reduction to CO.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38173-6Incompletely synthesized nascent polypeptides resulting from ribosome stalling during translation are under surveillance by ribosome-associated quality control. Here, the authors report the molecular mechanism by which the E3 ligase Pirh2 targets the polyalanine tail of aberrant nascent chains for degradation via the C-degron pathway.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38129-wChlor-alkali process plays an important role in the chemical industry. However, large overpotential and low selectivity of currently used catalysts lead to high energy consumption. Here the authors report Ru-O4 single site catalysts for chlorination evolution with 1000 h stability at 1000 mA cm−2 in a seawater-like environment.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37721-4Lead halide perovskites host bright triplet excitons which have applications in optospintronic devices. Here the authors observe quantum coherence between exciton sublevels without magnetic field and clarify the mechanisms of exciton spin relaxation in ensembles of CsPbBr3 nanocrystals.
We have to do something.
Kolkata in 1976
|submitted by /u/SteamHeaven
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38233-xIL-9-producing helper T (TH9) cells contribute to allergic inflammation. In this study, the authors demonstrate that the transcription factor PPAR-γ regulates TH9 effector function by promoting glucose metabolism and mTOR signaling in human allergic contact dermatitis.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37901-2Exposure of a structure-forming sequence within a single-stranded gap creates a fragile site, resulting in large deletions. Gap filling drives disease-causing CAG repeat expansions, with direction of instability determined by the identity of the sequence on the template strand of the gap.
Nature Communications, Published online: 29 April 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38084-6The authors find within-day, seasonal, and regional differences in county-level power outages from 2018–2020. Outages commonly co-occur with climate events. Counties in the south and Michigan faced high social and medical vulnerabilities and outages.
It's different from loneliness.
– Det skulle inte vara så bra för eventuellt liv om en planet vandrade in i strålen. Den skulle förstöra atmosfären, säger radioastronomen John Conway.
In recent years, the decline in how much we talk to each other (face to face) has been quite evident. I would say this is mostly due to social media and how it has reshaped our view of each other. With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, I believe this decline will be even greater now. AI + VR is likely to be the most deadly combo in my opinion.
Also something not usually talked about is: convenience, or laziness. Humans aren't necessarily becoming more physically lazy. They're becoming mentally lazy. Things like actually talking to people takes energy, and eventually people may be too lazy to do it.
In the end, even if humans do stop or significantly decrease how much they socialize, it won't necessarily be a terrible thing. By that time there will probably be forms of entertainment that will make us forget that a world outside even exists. There will just about infinite ways to keep us occupied in our virtual worlds. It might just make us forget that we're lonely.
|submitted by /u/no_dice__
|submitted by /u/For_All_Humanity
Hi guys! wanted some insight here. These schools are my top 3 for cogSci currently. I'm much more interested in ML/AI and UCSD has a perfect program for me in that imo due to their specialty in ML and neural networks. I'm not too sure about UCI and UCD though. I want to be on the computational side for sure, more specifically AI/ML.
Do y'all think it's worth staying at CC for another year to get into UCSD or UCI? I haven't found much on UCD cogSci and from the looks of it I don't know if i'd be able to do ML/AI there really
New hope for millions.
|submitted by /u/cstarnino
- California bans the sale of new diesel trucks by 2036
|submitted by /u/tnick771
A lot of people are concerned about AI and I’ve even noticed people here saying things like “this will be like the Industrial Revolution” as this was a bad thing.
Are you aware that every single socioeconomic indicator improved after the Industrial Revolution?
Can you think of any major technological breakthrough that was objectively bad for society?
(Social Media is the only example I could argue about, but there’s still pros and cons).
Note: this is a work in progress which will be updated throughout the week. This especially applies to the notes from the sessions, so please regard them as somewhat preliminary! In case of the Great Debates mentioned below, EGU plans to release the recordings sometime after the conference ends. Once they become available, I'll include links to the ones I watched live.
This year's General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) started on Monday April 24 both on premise in Vienna and online as a fully hybrid conference. As in previous years, I'm spending the whole week in Vienna, picking and chosing sessions I was interested in. This blog post will be an evolving compilation – a kind of personal diary – of the happenings from my perspective.
As this post is fairly large, you can jump to the different days, via these links (bolded days have been added already):
Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday – Friday
I'll fill in sections as time allows during the week and after the conference.
The already published prolog blog post contains general explanations about the session formats as well as an outline of the presentations done by myself and John Mason on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Monday, April 24
Arriving at the Vienna International Center (VIC) on Monday morning shortly after 8a in the morning, I joined the „swarm“ of attendees making their way towards the entrance. Once there and after taking a quick tour around the center, I joined my first session for this year‘s conference:
EOS2.1 – Open session in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education
Convener: Elizabeth Petrie | Co-conveners: Michal Ben-Israel, Zoltán Erdös, Sarah Owen, Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Solmaz Mohadjer
From the abstract:
In this session we encourage contributions of general interest within the Higher Education community which are not covered by other sessions. The session is open to all areas involving the teaching of geoscience and related fields in higher education. Examples might include describing a new resource available to the community, presenting a solution to a teaching challenge, pros and cons of a new technique/technology, linking science content to societally relevant challenges/issues, developing critical thinking skills through the curriculum and effective strategies for online/remote instruction and/or hybrid/blended learning.
The session had two parts with 21 presentations all told. As sometimes happens during the first session at a large conference like the EGU‘s General Assembly, there were some technical glitches with the projector not quite coopeartive throughout the first part, but everybody was game and the session – while somewhat spilling into the break times – was able to conclude successfully. Unfortunately, I couldn‘t grab any images from the wide-ranging presentations because most of them didn‘t include a clear indicator that this was encouraged – and the default assumption is that taking pictures is not allowed.
After the lunch break, I joined one of the Great Debates: GDB5 – Is social media outreach?
Speakers for this session – convened by Jenny Turton, Simon Clark and Nazimul Islam – were Dr Bethan Duavies (Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Newcastle University), Dr Solmaz Mohadjer (Interdisciplinary Geoscientist, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems) and Prof Stuart Lane (Professor in Geomorphology, University of Lausanne).
From the abstract:
Is social media a worthwhile vector for communicating science and reaching non-expert audiences? Proponents of social media highlight its ability for bringing otherwise inaccessible research to a global network, spreading research to new audiences whilst cultivating a following. The public can be updated with discoveries in real-time, without the potentially modifying lens of traditional media. And with content under the control of individuals or small groups communicators can flex and nurture their creativity. But communicating through social media often requires sacrificing nuance and accuracy for the extremely short time-frames of attention and engagement. Critics also state that it requires a considerable time-investment and money, which may otherwise distract from core research activities. Amongst this is also the fear that social media exposes communicators to the possibility of derision and hateful conduct. In this Great Debate, our panellists will be asking if effective communication on social media is possible or whether scientists are better investing their efforts elsewhere.
The speakers were first invited to give their initial statements followed by a podium discussion moderated by Jenny Turton and finally opened up to questions from the audience, both on-premise and on Zoom. The discussion was fairly far-reaching, including examples about reaching people with regards to earthquake hazards or how to tackle climate discussions on Twitter and elsewhwere on social media.
After a short (coffee) break the next session drew a much larger crowd – not really surprising given its title: GDB2 – As climate change impacts accelerate, are we sleepwalking into the inferno…?
Convener: Nick Everard | Co-conveners: Hayley Fowler, Rolf Hut
From the abstract:
The sheer number and ferocity of extreme weather events causing major impacts in recent years have shocked and surprised many, including those working in the earth science community. We are seeing temperature records smashed by large margins, unprecedented wildfires, and floods with huge destructive power and massive impacts.
Despite widespread media coverage of these devastating events, policy and public opinion still lag a long way behind what is required to address the climate crisis effectively and rapidly.
This Great Debate asks why this might be the case, and critically examines the role of the earth science community in driving public opinion and policy making. It will examine the messaging, the tone and the science that shapes how climate change is presented to the public and policymakers, and look at how our community can help to drive climate action before it is too late.
This Great Debate followed the same format as GDB5, so the following speakers were first invited to give short introductory statements: Dr. Philippe Tulkens (Head of Unit, European Commission, DG Research & Innovation, Healthy Planet Directorate – Climate and Planetary Boundaries Unit), Prof. Ed Hawkins (Climate scientist, National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading and Creator of the Warming Stripes), Dr. Noel Baker (Project Manager at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Climate Scientist, and Activist), Prof. Dr. Maartin van Aalst (Director-General and Chief Science Officer of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), Dr. Elena López Gunn (Founder and Director of ICATALIST).
Afterwards, the panelists discussed the topics in more details amongst themselves, touching on the effectiveness of Ed Hawkins‘ Climate Stripes as a communication opener, but also about economists not overly interested in working on IPCC-reports or whether or not the climate crisis can actually be tackled within capitalism. An answer to the last one was, that we just won‘t have time to come up with another economics system in the time we have available. What we however can and should do, is to make the mechanics of the capitalist system work in favor of climate mitigation via pricing in externalities and getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies. Our political systems are also too much geared towards short election cycles. Ed Hawkins pointed out the we should perhaps stress the negatives (what we are supposedly losing) a lot less but instead stress the positives like cleaner air we‘ll get from meaningful climate mitigation.
For audience questions, the challenge was to keep them to 20 seconds max in order to give as many people as possible a chance to ask one. Here are a few of them (paraphrased and somewhat shortened):
Q: "Are we doing climate communications right or are there better ways?"
A: We have the means to do it faster, to communicate as simple as possible and leverage existing communications networks.
Q: "Who is the "we" in the title of the session?“
A: "We" means "humanity". Regardless of who is listening, we are all in this together. If "we" are not acting, than "we" is everybody. The Paris agreement has this as wel: there is a global responsibility.
Q: "Should there be more activity to reach older people as they often lean conservative and hold most of the resources?"
A: We can all make a difference, regardless of the generation we belong to.
Q: "Should scientists get invovled with activism?"
A: Yes, if they have the time and energy to do so. But some might also need or prefer to stick with "doing science".
Q: "Could there be sessions for people from outside science to get them to participate in conferences like EGU?"
A: We should mix more with other groups and EGU already has many policy-relevant sessions.
Q: "Should people from other groups like insurance be included in conferences?"
A: Instead of expecting these groups to come to conferences like the EGU meeting, scientists should also go to them and meet them where they are.
Q: "How to deal with people who don't want windmills in their backyards?"
A: Involve people in the decision making in the form of assemblies and (informal) contracts.
A sample of final words from the panelists: "Thanks for being here, thanks for caring." / "Don‘t try to shoulder everything on your own." / "We need more and bigger action." / "We need to be even louder through all these communciations channels." / "Keep communicating, give space and encourage those who want to go out and do the more activist work." / "Help in whichever way you can and what makes you comfortable." / "Turn science into action!". / "Everybody is part of the solution." / "Keep doing what we doing – and do more."
This session really was worth to be called a „Great Debate“ and it made for a thought-provoking end of Day 1 of EGU23 for me.
Tuesday, April 25
Tuesday started with an almost clear blue sky, so looked decidely nicer – even if cold – than the previous evening. Arriving at the Vienna International Center shortly after 8 in the morning, I headed straight up the stairs to room N1 in which session EOS1.1 – Science and Society: Science Communication Practice, Research, and Reflection was scheduled to start at 8:30am. As an aside and in case you are interested in the "general lay of the land" in the meeting center, check out this map showing the different levels and where each room is located (click for a larger image):
This all-day long session was convened by Solmaz Mohadjer with co-conveners Francesco Avanzi, Roberta Bellini, Roberta Wilkinson, and Usha Harris.
From the abstract:
Science communication includes the efforts of natural, physical and social scientists, communications professionals, and teams that communicate the process and values of science and scientific findings to non-specialist audiences outside of formal educational settings. The goals of science communication can include enhanced dialogue, understanding, awareness, enthusiasm, improving decision making, or influencing behaviors. Channels can include in-person interaction, online, social media, mass media, or other methods.
This session had lots of submissions and the conveners had divided them into three orals, roughly by topics as well as posters. I joined the first oral part to get an idea of how the session would be run in order to know this for my own presentation in the 3rd block later in the day. The presentations covered a lot of ground and one abstract was especially of interest to John Mason (who had joined virtually via Zoom) and myself as we could see some immediate collaboration possibility between s-ink.org and Skeptical Science: EGU23-10129 – Ongoing experiences in establishing and maintaining a grass-roots science outreach initiative; the s-Ink.org graphics repository presented by Grace E. Shepard and co-authored by Fabio Crameri, and Eivind O. Straume.
The last presentation in this 1st part of the session was actually a treat: the Katia and Maurice Krafft Award Lecture From Dissemination to Participation – A Creative Approach to Geoscience Communication by Sam Illingworth.
From the abstract:
Science communication exists on a spectrum: from dissemination to dialogue. While participation is likely to be the most effective way of helping to truly diversify science, there is still a need for geoscience communication initiatives that exist across this spectrum. In this Katia and Maurice Krafft Award lecture I will present an overview of my research into using poetry and games as facilitatory media to help disseminate knowledge, develop dialogue between scientists and non-scientists, and engender participation amongst diverse publics, including those audiences that have previously been marginalised by the geosciences.
By presenting a series of case studies, published works, and works in progress, I aim to demonstrate how this creative approach can help to address a lack of diversity in the geosciences. This lack of diversity should be paramount to anyone who is involved in either the geosciences or geoscience communication, not only because it is ethically the ‘right thing’ to do, but because ultimately greater diversity results in better science.
In addition to my own research, I will also explore how the work that we are doing with the EGU journal Geoscience Communication is supporting others in developing innovative and effective research and practice in this space, and how this in turn is helping to provide greater recognition for science communication in the geosciences.
Sam Illingworth's presentation contained lots of food for thought as he not just turns scientific research into poems but also helps create games which hopefully will help people to better grasp sometimes abstract issues like climate change.
I skipped the 2nd part of EOS1.1 to join the Greate Debate GDB3 – The Science activist: should science get Political? which promised to be just as interesting as GDB2 on Monday, given that Prof. Katharine Hayhoe was among the speakers (who, btw, joined virtually at 3:30am her time in Texas!). Given how much was discussed in this session in the packed E1 hall it would require its own and separate write-up to do it justice. Instead, I'll link to the video once that is made available on the EGU Youtube channel sometime after the conferences ends. So, please be patient! As a teaser, here is one of Katharine Hayhoe's slides, summarizing the issue neatly:
In case it's too small to read the slide, here is the text:
As philosopher David Hume first articulated so clearly,
- Science can explain what the current state of the world is
- Policy states what we ought to do about it
- The logical gap between "is" and "ought" can't be bridged without a priori values
- So no matter how much date we have, values still stand in the way of effective policy making
After a short break which I used to finish and post Monday's write-up (see above), I rejoined EOS1.1 where I was on the list as the 2nd speaker to talk about our recently launched Rebuttal Update Project, which made for a good example of trying to improve how we debunk climate myths. I have to admit, that I don't much like having to talk "against a countdown" even if I know that I should be able to stay within the alloted 8 minutes! The presentation – co-authored by John Mason – is available here and you can read the abstract on the EGU website.
There were several other interesting presentations in this session, like Karsten Haustein with Are we past the point where it is acceptable to err on the side of least drama? or David A. Stainforth with A proposal for engaging amateur scientists in climate forecasting to name just two of them. This 3rd part of EOS1.1 ended like the first, namely with an award lecture, in this instance the Angela Croome Award Lecture titled From carbon copy paper to AI: 36 years as a reporter for the BBC and presented by awardee (is that a word?) Jonathan Charles David Amos from BBC News. This was another inspiring talk and it sparked quite a few questions afterwards so tha the session was running way over the alloted time – but nobody really seemed to mind much!
As an evening session between 7 and 8pm, David Crookall had organized a townhall meeting for which he had "roped me in" as co-convener: TM14 – Climate change communication: What policy, education, research, geoethics and action are realistic?
From the abstract:
The state of the planet, especially climate and ocean, is moving towards catastrophe almost by the day. Just two, from among many 2022 quotes illustrate the enormity of the problem.
- "Our world is suffering from the impact of unprecedented emergencies caused by the climate crisis, pollution, desertification and biodiversity loss." UN Secr-General, Guterres.
- "Multiple climate tipping points could be triggered if global temperature rises beyond 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This will be disastrous for people across the world." futureearth.org & Rockström.
This town hall meeting provides a panel for speakers and participants to discuss these quotes. The aim will be to move forward in our climate change and ocean realism, even if it is tentative. The aim is to develop some kind of consensus on the idea; still expressed by some, that it is still possible – realistically – to move the needle back. If not, then what?
David Crookall started the session with a short presentation to set the stage and then each of the panelists was invited to give a short statement related to their work and the townhall's topic. Panelists included
- Chloe Hill – Policy, European Geosciences Union, Bavaria
- Dean Page – ECS, Human Geography, Climate-Smart and Transboundary MSP, Hull
- Giuseppe Di Capua – Istituto Nazionale Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) & International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS))
- Kateryna Terletska – Ukraine National Academy of Science, Kiev
- Noel Baker – Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), Brussels
- Odin Marc – Environment, National Centre for Scientific Research, Toulouse
In addition Svitlana Krakovska (National Antarctic Scientific Center, Kiev, & Applied Climatology Laboratory, Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute, Kiev) sent a short video statement as she unfortunately couldn't make it to Vienna which panelists and attendees watched with great interest.
Guiseppe di Capua opened the round of statements with an analogy that climate scientists trying to get through to politicians can be compared to machinists (IIRC) on a sinking ship trying to make the captain aware of a critical issue but he doesn't want to know about it. Noel Baker pointed out that while scientists are good at sharing information about their field of expertise, they will need to do a better job of gearing the message towards the intended recipients. Kateryna Terletska explained that even though Ukraine is currently in a war, they are already working on a new curriculum for students which will specifically include climate education. Odin Marc made the point that communication needs to go directly to policy makers and that people need to be aware of the "merchants of doubt".
Audience members had been given index cards when they came into the room, so that they could jot down short questions for the panelists which I then tried to somewhat sort into topics and posed to the panelists after their initial statements. Questions ranged from who to concentrate on – politicians or the public, what scientists should do regarding misinformation and how to deal with people who fear that climate policies make life more expensive for them (to name just some of the questions discussed). The alloted hour for this town hall meeting flew past and came to a close with short final comments from the panelists at 8pm.
And with that, my most likely longest day at EGU23 came to an end and I could make the short train ride back to the hotel!
Wednesday April 26
Not having picked a session starting at 8:30am on Wednesday morning, I took things more slowly but was at the convention center just as sessions started nonetheless. Most tables scattered around in the hallway were empty, so I picked a quiet spot and finished up the drafted write-up for Tuesday's happenings. Once that was "in the can" I got a quick bite to eat and then headed down to the basement level to find PICO Spot 3a where session EOS1.3 – Games for Geosciences was scheduled to start at 10:45am.
From the abstract:
Games have the power to ignite imaginations and place you in someone else’s shoes or situation, often forcing you into making decisions from perspectives other than your own. This makes them powerful tools for communication, through use in outreach, disseminating research, in education and teaching at all levels, and as a method to train the public, practitioners and decision makers in order to build environmental resilience.
Games can also inspire innovative and fun approaches to learning. Gamification and game-based approaches add an extra spark of engagement and interaction with a topic. Gaming technology (e.g. virtual reality) can transport and immerse people into new worlds providing fascinating and otherwise impossible experiences for learners.
In this session we welcome contributions from anyone who has used games, gaming technology, and/or game-based approaches in their research, their teaching, or public engagement activities.
Rolf Hut chaired the session which had been convened by Christopher Skinner with Elizabeth Lewis, Lisa Gallagher, Maria Elena Orduna Alegria as co-conveners. PICO-sessions are fun and start off with the 2-minute-madness where authors have exactly 2 minutes to pitch their abstract and to pique attendees' interest. Once the pitches are done, authors move to their assigned touchscreens where they can go into much greater details with an interactive presentation. There were both on-premise and virtual pitches, covering theoretical aspects of serious games as well as games like "Save the glaciers! An educational escape kit" or "QUARTETnary – The card game about the geological time scale" or "Dirty Matters: The Soil Game". And I had the pleasure to pitch Cranky Uncle – a critical thinking game to build resilience against climate misinformation in multiple languages! What was already a good sign during my 2-minutes elevator pitch, was that attendees laughed at the right moments and seemed to enjoy the cranky cartoons. You can download the detailed presentation here. My pitch was the 2nd to last one, so shortly afterwards we all moved to our screens and much to my delight a fairly large group had already formed next to screen 3a.12 and I spent the next hour talking with people about the Cranky game. Chris Skinner published a nice summary of the session here.
Image: Rolf Hut
After a quick lunch-break I went to room 0.15 near the center's entrance on the ground floor where session EOS2.3 – Climate and ocean education: Geoethics, emergency, fossil fuels, war and more started at 2pm. This session was convened by David Crookall and chaired by Dean Page, Guiseppe di Capua and myself. Svitlana Krakovska was another co-convener but unfortunately couldn't make it to Vienna this year. To begin with, I didn't really know what if any role I'd have as one of the chairs, so I offered to keep an eye on the time each speaker had. In order to do that, I had to sit in front which also meant that I was close to one of the microphones and this – not too surprisingly! – lead to me introducing each speaker and their abstract. What's the saying? "There's a first for everything!".
Please image or here for a larger – and readable! – version
The session had an oral and a poster part, both with virtual participation. We started with 2 virtual presentations – A journey to a cold seep: a paired teaching video lesson on how scientists study methane in the Arctic Ocean and Communicating the need for better understanding of the military’s contribution to climate change and action to be taken followed by a recording of Mapping Our Technosphere: what questions make it (and our biosphere) more sustainable?.
Next came three on-premise presentation where Fossil war impact on atmosphere air, terrestrial ecosystems, and climate: involvement of master’s degree and post-graduate students in Ukrainian Polissia case study left the deepest impression for me and many others because of it's immediacy. The other two were Fostering the next generation of Arctic scientists, from five to 35 and Activism as a tool for education and societal outreach: legitimacy, efficiency and complementarity with classic science communication.
To round out the orals we had Innovative tools to narrate the importance of climate literacy, Getting to impact at scale: A dynamic analysis to guide propagation of educational innovations in climate change and last but not least “Seas & Oceans”: An interactive, immersive science-art exhibition for communicating science and educating the public.
After the coffee break it was time for the poster part of the session for which I had offered to "chair" – i.e. moderate – the virtual part in Gather.town. I was really happy that I had spent some time on Tuesday to get at least the basic navigation right and that I had already defined my avatar in this video game like online environment! So, I headed to the virtual poster hall for EOS sessions to see if any of the authors had already made it there via their own avatars. It took a couple of minutes to find them and to direct them to where we were supposed to meet, but eventually they all made it! This is how a virtual poster session looks like when nobody shares their screen:
The first two posters – The Making of Ynyslas: weaving hard scientific evidence into an understandable narrative (open PDF) and The Making of Ynyslas: communicating change through the visual impact of a drowned landscape (open PDF) were presented by John Mason and we already included detailed descriptions in the preview blog post. The other posters were How marine insurance causes damage with insurers aiding and abetting it!, Time to recognize the geoscience disclosure as the tool to face climate change impacts: can we care about something that we do not know? and The European Teach-In On Climate And Justice, March 2023. This was an interesting way to include posters virtually in a hybrid conference and worked rather well, once all attendees had come to grips with how the platform worked.
And with this, day 3 of EGU 2023 came to a close for me.
Thursday April 27
On Thursday I headed to the convention center early as I'd a hunch that the short course I was interested in might fill the room fairly quickly. When I arrived the room was still empty and I settled in ahead of time for SC3.12 – Beyond SciComm 101: what is meaningful & ethical communication when it comes to the climate crisis?
From the abstract:
How can scientists and governments ensure that their communication resonates more deeply with citizens without resorting to the manipulative tactics used by those who seek to undermine liberal democracy? How can scientific and government actors ensure their communications are equally meaningful and ethical?
This Short Course will combine insights from state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, novel empirical research on values-targeted communication strategies, and a deep understanding of practitioners’ and citizens’ attitudes on these topics. Examples from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre will be used to share practical guidance for scientists who need to successfully navigate the policy world.
This short course was chaired by Laura Smilie and Mario Scharfbillig of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. They help prepare policy proposals — often an arduous process. Here are key points (I‘ll add links to material when publicly available):
- Most people – 80 to 100 % – think that their countries should tackle climate change yet don't necessarily pick the most impactful measures. There's an increase in the number of people who avoid news for various reasons as well as a shift from traditional news media (TV, radio, newspapers) to online venues.
The online world is cognitively unique because:
- our behaviour is changed by online media – it is identity driven, with in-groups and out-groups
- people are driven by negative news, getting highest numbers of eyeballs, getting shares and likes
- it's an attention economy based on a choice architecture and algorithmic content creation and often ripe with mis- and disinformation
Policymaking with convictions – myside biases
- own values and views from people's social groups automatically cloud own views and beliefs
- myside bias is not mitigated by intelligence, political sophistication or the tendency to displace actively open-minded thinking
- myside bias is a central challenge to evidence-informed policymaking
The case of personal values
- Blend of biological and individual histories
- Individually stable, mostly determined in early life
- Priority over diverse values matters
- Seen as positive, people like their values
- More diverse within than between countries (under discussion)
Exceptional features of the climate crisis
- Time is running out
- Those seeking to end the problem are also causing it
- No central authority
- Policies discount the future irrationally
- Question: is individual non-action paired with calls for more actions by others a contradiction?
Communication in an adversarial environment (Lewandowsky 2021)
- Acknowledge emotional nuances but avoid focusing on fear
- Affirm science through culturally appropriate message and by highlighting scientific consensus
- Counter mis- and disinformation by innoculation or well-designed debunking
- Focus on policies rather than attitudes
14 strategies to increase / repair trust in environmental policies (Cvitanovic et al. 2021)
- Increase process transparency
- Do not advocate for a specific outcome
- Have regular outputs
- Be able to demonstrate independence
- Acknowledge risks and / or limitations
- Ensure data quality control
- Have advice independently reviewed
- Do not defend advice
- Allow time for trust to form
- Ensure those generating advice have expertise
- Listen to stakeholders and accept feedback
- Communicate organisational success
- Provide the advice that was requested
- Be mindful of local politics and political sensitivities
Due to several questions from attendees, not all slides of the presentation were shown, but I noticed three slides with quite familiar images flash by while fast forwarding to the last slide: The Debunking Handbook, The Conspiracy Theory Handbook and the Cranky Uncle game! It's reassuring to see – even if briefly – that these offerings are getting used by organizations like the EU Commission!
After the coffee break Laura Smilie and Mario Scharfbillig offered a "Drop in clinic" to discuss these topics in more details. A few of the attendees – me included – took them up on the offer and we relocated to another conference room for about 90 minutes.
After the lunch break, I went to Great Debate GDB1 – The thrills and dangers of extending human impact beyond our planetary boundaries
From the abstract:
Space exploration has enabled humanity to unlock and discover amazing things about the Earth we inhabit. It has pushed our scientific boundaries and transformed the way in which we communicate, navigate, predict the weather, monitor climate, and investigate the rest of the Solar System and the Universe. With humanity’s ever growing greenhouse gas emissions and resource exploitation driving us closer to tipping points that threaten our existence, could it also be a solution to our planetary boundaries? Could we reduce our impact on Earth by exploiting the resources and energy sources of other planets? Or is extending humanity’s exploitation to nearby planets an unethical option that will cause more problems than it solves?
This Great Debate will outline the benefits and opportunities that we may be able to achieve through space exploration while debating the ethical dilemmas and potential risks that it comes with. It will discuss the impacts of private investment into space exploration and the potential for its regulation. Not only is this an ethical issue, but unregulated access to space exploration and a surge in activity has the potential to result in collisions and space debris that, could in an extreme circumstance, limit our access to space in the future. The panelists will also debate if humanity can ethically exploit the resources on other planets and objects in space and how we can limit our impact beyond our planetary boundaries.
The following panellists were involved with this great debate:
- Dr Alfredo Carpineti: Astrophysicist and Science Journalist
- Dr Michaela Musilova: Astrobiologist and Analog Astronaut
- Dr Anna Maria Trofaier: Cryosphere Scientist, European Space Agency
- Dr Andrew Williams: External Relations, Executive Office of the Director General, European Southern Observatory
The session was moderated by Jonathan Bamber, Professor at the University of Bristol and Guest Professor at the Technical University of Munich.
The panelists talked about ethical questions related to outer space missions like planned landings on the Moon or on Mars but also practial issues like what to do with all the waste in the form of disbanded satellites orbiting Earth. Current rules and regulations are not enforced and nobody knows how well – or not – private companies will adhere to them. As an example, once completely launched Musk's Starlink project will account for 5 out of 6 satellites orbiting Earth! Given how "well" (or not!) the "Polluter pays" principle works in the case of fossil fuels pollution, it's rather unlikely that it'll work any better when applied to outer space – unless enforcable mechanisms and rules are in place and players are held accountable for whatever mishaps they cause.
While somewhat interesting, this session wasn't related very closely to climate science communciations, so I didn't take many notes.
To round off the day I went down to level -2 and Hall X2 to the poster part of session EOS4.1 – Geoethics: Geoscience Implications for Professional Communities, Society, and Environment.
From the abstract:
Geoscience expertise is essential for the functioning of modern societies, to address many of the most urgent global problems, inform decision-making, and guide education at all levels, by equipping citizens to discuss, shape and implement solutions to local, regional and global social-environmental problems. In recent years, geoscientists have become more and more aware of ethical responsibilities to put their knowledge at the service of society, foster public trust in geosciences, and reflect on the environmental footprint of research practices. Geoethics aims to provide a common framework for orienting geoscientists’ concerns on delicate issues related geoscience-society interaction and to nourish a discussion on the fundamental principles and values which underpin appropriate behaviors and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system.
The displayed posters tackled various aspects of Geoethics which is explained in great detail on the related website of the International Association for Promoting Geoethics. I spent some time at David Crookall's and Pimnutcha Promduangsri's Geoethics values clarification: A playable poster which proved a bit of a challenge for me as they task viewers to pick and rank geoethical principles and underlying values and to then give their picks "some thoughts". You can check it out yourself here. Based on the number of people milling around and engaging with the poster, it seemed to be quite popular.
This concluded day #4 at EGU 2023 for me.
Friday April 28
It‘s always quite amazing, how quickly time flies when at a conference like the EGU's annual meeting! So here is my account for Friday, the 5th and therefore last day of this year‘s General Assembly!
I started the day with short course SC3.18 – Non-academic stakeholders and sectors: who are they, why should we care and how do we engage with them? as that looked quite applicable to the work we do here at Skeptical Science.
From the abstract:
Research institutes, universities, and academic societies are key agents of economic and social progress. The research that they undertake should inform critical decisions leading to the advancement of society and the solution to local and global issues, such as the usage of natural resources, resilience to geohazard impacts, climate change mitigation actions, and other societal challenges that shape our future. Knowing how to generate effective and efficient interactions with stakeholders is also essential for career advancement; it helps promote the research by increasing its impact and is now demanded by most funding agencies. However, science is often created and shared in silos, limiting research impact and potential societal progress. Breaking down these silos requires more than just expanding our academic network and working across disciplines. It requires us –as scientists and as a scientific community– to engage more with other sectors and stakeholders. But where do we start?
Speakers in this short course were:
- Jenny Turton, Arctic Frontiers, Norway
- Glen Burridge, European Federation of Geologists, Belgium
- Munira Raji
- Marco Masia, University of Vienna, Austria
The short course started with remarks and presentations from the speakers with convener Jenny Turton providing an introduction to set the stage with a slide showing the various stakeholders for science & research:
Why should scientists engage with these stakeholder?
- They are directly impacted by your research – it is your duty to engage e.g. via science outreach and communication
- Development of ideas and science progression
- Science that makes a difference, e.g. via policy involvements or start-ups
How to meet and approach stakeholders?
- At conferences – EGU has exhibtors, policy working groups, journalists
- Research councils sometimes have calls to fund projects in collaboration with businesses
- Science-Policy Pairing schemes
- Non-academic scientists
- Experts in short courses like this one!
Next, Glenn Burridge made some very interesting points about different groups of stakeholders and what they want as „customers“ of geoscientis:
- Engineers – want to build something specific and for example need to know the ground conditions and if they are viable for what gets build
- Investors – might be inclined to provide funds but want a viable project, financially, socially and environmentally. It should also be sustainable in the longer run
- Communities – have a voice in what you are doing. They want to know what brings benefits to their lives and reduces their risk to a minimum.
- Media – prepared to translate your message but want to know what scientists are talking about
- Policymakers – they have a job to do and want topics with positive impact for (European) society, they want wise counsel and a vision
- And they all want assurance about risks!
He also had a very good list of recommendations:
- Get into the mind of your stakeholders…
- What do they need to do their jobs?
- To make a decision => create options, identify values, weigh uncertanty
- Craft your messaging accordingly….
- Highlight how you can uniquely help them through your solutions. Create a pathway.
- Make efforts to speak their language and see world through their eyes
- Capitalise on the most engaging mechanisms available….
- What‘s newsworthy / vital / familiar/ awe-inspriing!
- Create emotion, think like a marketer. Use cool visuals, create wonder, tell a story!
- Where possible, work in coalitions…
- Creates gravitas, spreads efforts and creates opportunity for greater collective impact
- Capitalise on wisdom of diversity to strengthen message and appeal
Next, Munira Raji talked about why and how to engage with scientific stakeholders:
- Why will your research benefit from the engagement with targeted stakeholders?
- Define the prupose of your engagement and why your are engaging with them
- Why will these stakeholders benefit or be influenced by your research?
- Research impact is an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life.
Marco Masia briefly talked about the role of scientists in society:
- They can have a very positive effect
- See society as a network with nodes which are connected to periphery. What happens in one node has impacts on the rest of the network (with different levels of impact, depending on how relevant the node is)
- Establishing connections from science to other communities
- Personal level „why“ to engage – you want to give back to society, you do it for money
Several questions were raised by attendees of the session, here are two of them:
Is there a directory of stakeholders?
- No, unfortunately not!
- Attending workshops might be an option
- Can be a laborious process to create.
- Try becoming a node to connect people
- Map out groups, identify the important nodes
- it’s a bit like a dating exercise, develop trust with people you already know, 2nd order links – the friend of a friend – often work best, good faith activities, trust
How to balance slowly building trust with the need for quick action?
- Find the node most likely having the most impact
- See who the influencers are and become useful for them
- Not everybody has to do everything, pick and chose according to your own preferences
- We need to help and support each other and that includes institutional support for these kind of activities
This for sure was a very valuable short course to attend!
Next I went to EOS1.4 – Science communication and citizen science to increase risk perception and awareness but as the orals presented in that session were not too closely related to my main focus I only listened with half an ear and actually used the time to get a head-start on today‘s write-up!
After a quick lunch – courtesy of the press center (as a science blooger I had media accredation for the conference in addition to my regular registration) – I went to my only science-related session of the week: CL3.2.1 – Towards a net-zero world: remaining carbon budgets, mitigation pathways and implications for policy.
From the abstract:
Remaining carbon budgets specify the maximum amount of CO2 that may be emitted while stabilizing warming at a particular level (such as the 1.5°C or 2.0°C target), and are thus of high interest to the public and policymakers. Estimates of the remaining carbon budget come with associated uncertainties, which increase in relative terms as more ambitious targets are being considered, or as emission reductions continue to be delayed. As a result, practical implementation of remaining carbon budgets is challenging.
This session aims to further our understanding of the climate response under various emission scenarios that aim to inform the goals of the Paris Agreement, with particular interest in emission pathways entailing net-zero targets. We invite contributions that use a variety of tools, including fully coupled Earth System Models (ESMs), Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), or simple climate model emulators, that advance our knowledge of remaining carbon budgets, net-zero targets, and policy implications.
I have to admit that most of the presentations about carbon budgets, emission scenarios, achieving net-zero, TCRE, ZEC, CMIP7 and what-not flew straight over my head! That at least one speaker seemed to think that this was a speed-talking competition didn't really help! The main reason for joining this particular session was Stefan Rahmstorf's contribution Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections which had been planned as an on-premise talk. Unfortunately, he already had to leave Vienna in the morning, and because of that joined virtually via Zoom (good thing that the conference is now fully hybrid!).
In his talk, Stefan Rahmstorf summarized the paper he had published together with Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes in January 2023 (Supran et al. 2023) showing that most of the projections by Exxon and ExxonMobil Corp scientists between 1977 and 2003 accurately forecast warming consistent with subsequent observations. Their projections were also consistent with, and at least as skillful as, those of independent academic and government models. When the paper came out in January, Geoffrey Supran explained their findings in a Twitter thread which we republished in a blog post: New paper: Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections. You can see most of the slides from today's presentation in that blog post.
This was one of the very last sessions of EGU23 and numbers of attendees in the room had already dwindeled throughout the afternoon as people needed to leave for their trip home. I stayed until the "very end" as I won't be heading back until Sunday.
As in previous years, I enjoyed participating in the EGU's General Assembly a lot. I made new connections, "ran into" people accidentally – namely Stefan Rahmstorf and Peter Doran – and briefly met "Hoskibui" who some may remember from his contributions to Skeptical Science, especially his translations into Icelandic. On several occasions, I got nice remarks about what we do here on Skeptical Science and I could make others aware of our website and offerings. Quite a few people already knew about and liked Cranky Uncle (anybody surprised?), while others will have heard about him for the first – but hopefully – not the last time. Bottom line for me is that I'm already looking forward to next year's EGU meeting, although I'll then most likely participate virtually from April 14 to 19. And with that, it's a wrap!
- A Utah judge postponed ruling on a statewide abortion-clinic ban to next week, following the failure yesterday of two anti-abortion bills in Nebraska and South Carolina .
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In recent years, Americans appear to be getting more and more uncomfortable with intimacy. Why? And is this trend reversible?
First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic:
- The GOP’s unworkable work requirements
- Why won’t powerful men learn?
- Just wait until Trump is a chatbot.
When my colleague Faith Hill recently interviewed Michael Hilgers, a therapist with more than 20 years of experience, he painted a worrying picture of intimacy in America: “It’s painful to watch just how disconnected people are,” he said. Even when Hilgers can sense that clients do want to pursue deep social connections, “there’s a lot of confusion and fear in terms of how to get there,” he noted.
One might say that America is in its insecure-attachment era.
Let’s back up a little: Insecure attachment is a term used to describe three of the four basic human “attachment styles” that researchers have identified. The framework has risen in popularity in recent years, appearing alongside astrology signs and Enneagram types as social-media-friendly ways to understand the self. Faith lays out the four styles in her recent article:
People with a secure style feel that they can depend on others and that others can depend on them too. Those with a dismissing style—more commonly known as “avoidant”—are overly committed to independence and don’t feel that they need much deep emotional connection. People with a preoccupied (or “anxious”) style badly want intimacy but, fearing rejection, cling or search for validation. And people with fearful (or “disorganized”) attachment crave intimacy, too—but like those with the dismissing style, they distrust people and end up pushing them away.
Over the past few decades, researchers have noticed a decline in secure attachment and an increase in the dismissing and fearful styles. These two insecure styles are “associated with lack of trust and self-isolation,” Faith explains. She notes that American distrust in institutions has also been on the rise for years—it’s well known that more and more Americans are feeling skeptical of the government, organized religion, the media, corporations, and police. But recent research and anecdotal evidence suggest that Americans are growing more wary not only of “hypothetical, nameless Americans,” but of their own colleagues, neighbors, friends, partners, and parents.
The root causes of America’s trust issues are impossible to diagnose with certainty, but they could well be a reflection of Americans’ worries about societal problems. One psychologist who did research into Americans’ insecure-attachment trend “rattled off a list of fears that people may be wrestling with,” Faith writes: “war in Europe, ChatGPT threatening to transform jobs, constant school shootings in the news,” as well as financial precarity. As Faith puts it: “When society feels scary, that fear can seep into your closest relationships.”
Some researchers argue for other likely suspects, such as smartphone use or the fact that more Americans than ever are living alone. The decline in emotional intimacy is also happening against the backdrop of a decline in physical intimacy. Our senior editor Kate Julian explored this “sex recession,” particularly among young adults, in her 2018 magazine cover story.
A lack of trust is showing up in the workplace as well. In 2021, our contributing writer Jerry Useem reported on studies suggesting that trust among colleagues is declining in the era of remote and hybrid work:
The longer employees were apart from one another during the pandemic, a recent study of more than 5,400 Finnish workers found, the more their faith in colleagues fell. Ward van Zoonen of Erasmus University, in the Netherlands, began measuring trust among those office workers early in 2020. He asked them: How much did they trust their peers? How much did they trust their supervisors? And how much did they believe that those people trusted them? What he found was unsettling. In March 2020, trust levels were fairly high. By May, they had slipped. By October—about seven months into the pandemic—the employees’ degree of confidence in one another was down substantially.
All in all, as Faith writes, “we can’t determine why people are putting up walls, growing further and further away from one another. We just know it’s happening.” The good news is that if humans have the capacity to lose trust in one another, they can also work to build it back up. “The experts I spoke with were surprisingly hopeful,” Faith concludes:
Hilgers [the therapist] knows firsthand that it’s possible for people with attachment issues to change—he’s helped many of them do it. Our culture puts a lot of value on trusting your gut, he told me, but that’s not always the right move if your intuition tells you that it’s a mistake to let people in. So he gently guides them to override that instinct; when people make connections and nothing bad happens, their gut feeling slowly starts to change.
As Faith argued in an earlier article, attachment styles are not destiny, despite what the internet might lead you to believe. “Your attachment style is not so much a fixed category you fall into, like an astrology sign, but rather a tendency that can vary among different relationships and, in turn, is continuously shaped by those relationships,” she wrote. “Perhaps most important, you can take steps to change it”—and connect with others better as a result.
- Russia’s Defense Ministry said that it had targeted Ukrainian army reserve units with high-precision missile strikes to prevent them from reaching the front lines.
- A Utah judge postponed ruling on a statewide abortion-clinic ban to next week, following the failure yesterday of two anti-abortion bills in Nebraska and South Carolina.
- Former Vice President Mike Pence reportedly appeared before a federal grand jury for more than seven hours to testify in a criminal investigation into alleged efforts by Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
- Books Briefing: We need to make room for more voices in philosophy, Kate Cray writes. With a wider canon, enlightenment could come from anywhere.
- Work in Progress: AI tools are a waste of time, Derek Thompson argues. Many people are simply using them as toys.
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A Teen Gender-Care Debate Is Spreading Across Europe
By Frieda Klotz
As Republicans across the U.S. intensify their efforts to legislate against transgender rights, they are finding aid and comfort in an unlikely place: Western Europe, where governments and medical authorities in at least five countries that once led the way on gender-affirming treatments for children and adolescents are now reversing course, arguing that the science undergirding these treatments is unproven, and their benefits unclear.
The about-face by these countries concerns the so-called Dutch protocol, which has for at least a decade been viewed by many clinicians as the gold-standard approach to care for children and teenagers with gender dysphoria.
More From The Atlantic
- A cheerful goodbye to the Guardians of the Galaxy
- Why Hollywood writers may go on strike
- Nikki Haley’s dilemma is also the Republicans’ problem.
- Long-haulers are trying to define themselves.
Read. “The Renovation,” a new short story from Kenan Orhan about exile from Turkey and longing for a homeland.
Watch. The latest episode of Succession (streaming on HBO Max), which features the creepiest corporate retreat ever.
Last year, Faith wrote one of my favorite Atlantic articles in recent memory, about people with a very unique social appetite: the “nocturnals,” or the ultra-introverts who come alive when most people are fast asleep.
Katherine Hu contributed to this newsletter.
Always more to learn.
Nature, Published online: 28 April 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01478-zClashes have left hospitals and universities without water and power — and vulnerable to takeover by armed groups.
The violence in Sudan has claimed the life of a beloved Sudanese American doctor. One of his colleague's talks about Dr. Sulieman's legacy — and the devastating toll of the fighting in Khartoum.
(Image credit: Sudanese American Physicians Association)
I posted the original post yesterday on this subreddit https://www.reddit.com/r/singularity/comments/130qcvx/could_an_ai_learn_things_or_discover_things/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=ioscss&utm_content=2&utm_term=1 It seems to actually be learning and wanting to learn and discover things, ill update in a few hours
|submitted by /u/filosoful
- So, Stability AI (The company behind Stable Diffusion) has released a new image-generation model, one that does text, in addition to just doing images.
Stability AI releases DeepFloyd IF, a powerful text-to-image model
So, Stability AI (The company behind Stable Diffusion) has released a new image-generation model, one that does text, in addition to just doing images.
Just my two cents about the very far/near future.
TLDR: I believe that one day we will likely be able to "print" or produce any object or material including biological material.
We have already done this with "information" with the aid of computers. In this age information is just 0s and 1s and and it can be scanned and presented in multiple formats.
I anticipate that one day we would be able to just "scan" any object. The scanner would record the full atomic/molecular structure of that object/biological material and with that, it would produce the same object.
Of course, to convert base material to different elements, fusing molecules together etc is no straightforward task and some processes might require tremendous energy, but it does not seem to be impossible either.
What do you think about this, and when do you think this might become a reality ?
- A recent preprint from researchers at Generate describes a new generative modeling-based design algorithm called Chroma, which includes several features that improve its performance and success rate.
Bioengineers are drawing on rapidly evolving machine learning tools, deep reservoirs of data, and the firepower of a program called AlphaFold2 to pursue more sophisticated de novo protein designs
Do you see these two fields as the same or as different? Do you see one as being over the other?
Anthropology is widely recognized as a field within cogsci, but sociology is not… why is that? Shouldn’t sociology be its own branch within cogsci?
The best, most audacious idea of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been to present franchises within franchises, entwining various long-running series with their own internal logic and casts of favorites. The films imitate the feeling of comic books, of which people would select issues with their favorite heroes and occasionally shell out for the special ones where they cross over with everyone else. The concept has seldom worked on-screen, though—brands such as Iron Man and Captain America always felt bogged down by guest appearances and post-credits scenes setting up other heroes for the next Avengers movie. Meanwhile, the general thrust of Marvel’s storytelling feels particularly adrift this year after the latest, sludgy Ant-Man film.
However, none of these problems troubles Guardians of the Galaxy, the director James Gunn’s sci-fi action-adventure franchise about a ragtag group of cosmic warriors. Its third entry, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, will be released next week, after a six-year wait. Although the Guardians have popped up in a couple of Avengers entries, as any good Marvel property must, they have largely succeeded at maintaining their own charm. Gunn’s newest film, which has been billed as his last Guardians movie and has the air of a fond farewell, is unmistakably his own: a cheeky but sentimental salute to the misfit stars of a rewarding piece of space opera.
Still, Guardians 3 begins by dwelling on a bit of business from the Avengers movies. In them, the rascally protagonist Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt) lost his girlfriend, Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), in a grand act of sacrifice, only to regain a new version of her from an earlier time that had no memory of, or affection for, him. The new film sums up this state of affairs neatly enough, with the kind of hurried pique that suggests some grumpiness at having to indulge a wider cinematic universe. But really, the only important info is that Quill is now drinking himself into a regretful stupor rather than working to save the universe.
He's shaken out of that reverie by an attack on his pal and partner Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting, foul-mouthed raccoon of significant intelligence. Rocket is being pursued by the High Evolutionary (a wonderfully preening Chukwudi Iwuji), a geneticist whose cruel experimentation on animals led to Rocket’s creation. Thus, the Guardians must band together once again, to save their friend and defeat his tormentor. That conceit keeps the story stakes pleasantly personal: Yes, the High Evolutionary has soldiers and genetically modified beasties at his command, but there is no Thanos-level, universe-ending threat to defeat here.
Instead, Gunn loads the film with heartfelt flashbacks to Rocket’s life as a test subject, showing him building bonds with other cute, wet-eyed creatures, including an otter named Lylla (Linda Cardellini), as they try to survive the High Evolutionary’s experiments. It’s a bit maudlin at moments—and the film is not short, at two hours and 30 minutes—but that kind of broad emotion has always been a major part of Gunn’s Guardians movies. There’s the irreverent humor that defined his earlier work as a filmmaker (which included clever but schlocky genre fare such as Slither and Super), and there’s also unabashed sincerity.
Since their introduction, the Guardians have grown to include Gamora’s frosty sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan); the sweetheart empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff); a shifty former pirate named Kraglin (Sean Gunn, also the director’s brother); and a Soviet talking dog called Cosmo (Maria Bakalova), who round out the cast alongside original members including Drax (Dave Bautista) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Gunn has built up all kinds of profound interpersonal connections between this sizable ensemble over three movies, and in Guardians 3, he delights in indulging them, digging into all of the ways this makeshift family improves even as its members bicker.
[Read: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is Marvel’s first real comic-book movie in years]
This is probably the only remaining Marvel franchise where I truly care about the characters and what happens to them, which lends Guardians 3 a narrative weight that is a hundred times more powerful than fear of a portentous supervillain. That emotional investment has been missing from so many superhero films (and not just Marvel ones) of late: a sense of why the story should continue beyond making more money and spinning off more characters and merchandise. Guardians 3 is a cheerful goodbye to many of the studio’s best heroes, who somehow managed to get through an entire series without being ruined by the larger superhero universe they inhabit. For Marvel, that’s both a win and a problem.
Communities in certain spots around the world, such as Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Central America, are likely to experience record-breaking heat events but may not be prepared
One in three showed the signs.
- Investigators suspected the hackers had breached the DOJ server directly, possibly by exploiting a vulnerability in the Orion software.