Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06026-3Interactions between programmed death ligand 2 (
Kids in the U .S. consume a lot of sugar – nearly 53 pounds a year on average. Obama's new food company PLEZi Nutrition, will lower the sugar content and improve nutrition in products aimed at kids.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The former director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio has been removed from the post after the U.S. Office of Research Integrity found he had faked data.
Last August, ORI found that Deepak Kaushal, who remains a professor at Texas Biomed, “engaged in research misconduct by intentionally, knowingly, and/or recklessly falsifying and fabricating the experimental methodology to demonstrate results obtained under different experimental conditions.”
Citing Kaushal’s admission, ORI said that he had engaged in research misconduct in work supported by 8 grants from the National Institutes of Health, and faked data in two grant applications and one published paper that has since been retracted.
As we reported at the time, Texas Biomedical Research Institute vice president for communications Lisa Cruz confirmed that Kaushal remained in his role, saying that “the misconduct finding is not directly related to, and does not impact, his administrative leadership functions.”
Now, Cruz tells us that Kaushal has not been the director of the SNPRC since September 2022. She said, in part:
After the ORI report last year and as part of Dr. Kaushal’s corrective action plan, Texas Biomed and ORI imposed ramifications on Dr. Kaushal, including but not limited to research ethics training and a year of review of all study data produced prior to submission for grant funding/peer-review publication. The Institute named a new director for the SNPRC as Dr. Kaushal completes the corrective action plan, after which the Institute will evaluate SNPRC leadership next steps.
We emailed Kaushal for comment and got an out of office reply.
Last month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals noted that Kaushal had been removed as director of the SNPRC.
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- Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton announced on Monday that he was stepping down from his role as a Google AI researcher after a decade with the company.
Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton announced on Monday that he was stepping down from his role as a Google AI researcher after a decade with the company. He says he wants to speak freely as he grows increasingly worried about the potential harms of artificial intelligence. Prior to the announcement, Will Douglas Heaven, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for AI, interviewed Hinton about his concerns—read the full story here.
Soon after, the two spoke at EmTech Digital, MIT Technology Review’s signature AI event. “I think it’s quite conceivable that humanity is just a passing phase in the evolution of intelligence,” Hinton said. You can watch their full conversation below.
A dying star swallowing a giant planet hints at the fate awaiting our solar system some 5 billion years from now
Time to Pay Up
As the saying goes, the bill always comes — and as it stands, it's unclear whether Twitter CEO Elon Musk can afford to pay up.
According to Bloomberg, Twitter is behind on paying over $10 million in various bills to a wide range of vendors, many of them small businesses that rely on the revenue.
Four vendors filed a joint lawsuit in April over a breach of contract regarding unpaid bills, according to the report. Since December alone, at least ten other vendors have sued Twitter on similar grounds.
And that kind of financial mismanagement has some very real consequences for some of the company's contractors, who are arguing that it's ridiculous the second richest man in the world is stiffing them.
"It is nontrivial, $42,000 for a small company like mine," Norma Miller, CEO of a closed captioning services company, told Bloomberg. "This is about what he pays when he takes his jet from LA to San Francisco for a lunch meeting."
Rough Few Months
Miller, one of the four plaintiffs in the April case, claims that Twitter stopped paying up roughly two weeks before Musk officially took over the platform in October. Her firm was in the middle of a major project, but her point of contact disappeared as Musk started laying off employees, only to be replaced by an automated system.
"Eventually, it was clearly just a bot answering us with the same answer over and over again," Miller told Bloomberg.
Others echoed similar frustration with Twitter's post-layoff confusion.
"We were then advised on several occasions that they were experiencing reorganization and delays," Naomi Newton, managing partner at Miami-based PR firm Cancomm, told Bloomberg.
Cancomm is also suing Twitter, alleging that Musk owes it roughly $140,000.
"We were also passed around to several different people within the organization," Newton continued, adding that Twitter's failure to pay up has created an "enormous cash-flow burden."
Given that Musk won't even pay to clean Twitter's bathrooms, it's not terribly surprising behavior on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Musk reportedly told employees in March that Twitter had lost more than half of its valuation ever since he took over, but promised that Twitter will "break even in Q2."
But whether that means Musk will still have plenty of outstanding bills to pay at that point remains to be seen.
Maybe instead of paying for dead celebrities' blue checkmarks out-of-pocket, he should send some checks to Twitter's vendors he slighted first.
More on Musk's Twitter: Twitter Landlord Unhappy with Elon's Naughty Change to Company Sign
The post Broke Boy Elon Musk Struggling to Pay Bills appeared first on Futurism.
LGBTQ advocates say these bills are another attempt to restrict transgender rights. Republicans sponsoring the bills say the definitions are important to keep sex from being conflated with gender.
(Image credit: Tommy Martino/AP)
|submitted by /u/sluttytinkerbells
Anything surrounding the political, social, economic, philosophical, or religious aspects of how our world may change In the future given current trends and projections. Thanks.
An antifungal drug called oloroso is at risk of becoming ineffective before its release due to the prior use of a similar agricultural compound.
|submitted by /u/nastratin
- New high-speed, two-photon microscope for precise biological imaging
- Celestis teamed up with Colorado-based rocket startup UP Aerospace for the launch.
A small rocket exploded seconds after launch earlier this week, failing spectacularly over the New Mexico desert.
Unfortunately, its cargo was somber: it carried the cremated remains of a late NASA astronaut and chemist into the upper atmosphere on behalf of space memorial service Celestis, Gizmodo reports.
It's an awkward development for a company that is trying to establish an entirely new kind of way of honoring the dead, though the company emphasized that the remains have been recovered and that it will attempt the launch again.
"All 120 flight capsules are safely in the hands of launch personnel and will be returned to us awaiting our next flight as soon as UP and Spaceport America complete their investigation and any required fixes are implemented," said Celestis CEO Charles Chafer in the wake of the mishap. "You may have seen headlines in various media outlets that family members’ loved one’s capsules 'blew up.' Nothing could be further from the truth. While the rocket was destroyed in flight, the care and professionalism of our launch service provider — UP Aerospace — ensured that the Celestis payload was unharmed and will be able to be relaunched."
Failure to Launch
Celestis teamed up with Colorado-based rocket startup UP Aerospace for the launch. But mere seconds into the launch, according to local news, the startup's 20-foot SpaceLoft XL rocket blew up.
The rocket was carrying the remains of Philip Chapman, a NASA astronaut who served as the mission scientist of the space agency's 1971 Apollo 14 mission to the Moon, as well as the remains of chemist Louise Ann O'Deen.
Celestis has completed 17 memorial spaceflights since the 1990s, including one that impacted the Moon.
Apart from the remains, the rocket was also packed with 13 payloads from NASA's TechRise Student Challenge, which were put together by middle and high school students.
One More Shot
Following the failed launch, Celestis is rushing to make things right.
"Regarding today’s launch," Celestis wrote in a Twitter statement. "We are reviewing the details and the video with UP Aerospace. As soon as we have clearance from them about the details and the video itself, we will share all of that information with families via email."
Celestis only carries a "symbolic portion of cremated remains or DNA sample," meaning that plenty of the remains still exist.
"All participants aboard Aurora will be offered a complimentary reflight, per their contract with us, on our next Earth Rise mission, named Perseverance Flight," Celestis promised on its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Celestis is hoping to get another shot soon.
"We have full confidence that UP Aerospace will find and fix the problem and we look forward to flying again with them when they are ready," Chafer told Gizmodo.
Updated with comment from Celestis saying that the remains have been recovered and to clarify that the company has completed numerous missions including one to the Moon.
More on space cremation: Parents Crowdfund to Send 11-Year-Old Son's Ashes to the Moon
The post Rocket Carrying Cremated Remains Explodes Seconds After Launch appeared first on Futurism.
Zero-G, the tourism firm that has famously offered commercial "zero-G" flights without actually going into space, has announced its next exciting venture: private concerts.
Although the firm says it has experimented with a rave flight once before, it's hoping to turn "zero gravity concerts" into a permanent, year-round fixture.
"From the artist’s perspective, it's a way for them to push the boundaries of what's been done in live performances," Greg Melon, director of marketing and sales at Zero-G, told Space.com.
And if footage from the first event is anything to go by, it looks like it could be one hell of a good time. Concertgoers tumble weightlessly, while the DJ helplessly floats into the air, barely grasping onto a knob he attempts to adjust on his turntables.
"Zero gravity concerts offer an unforgettable experience for both the artist and their closest fans," said Zero-G COO Allison Odyssey in a statement. "Just imagine Dua Lipa singing 'Levitating,' while actually floating in zero gravity. As a musician how do you even begin to top that?"
Moments of Bliss
Like all of Zero-G's flights, the experience won't be one of nonstop zero gravity. Instead, weightlessness will be doled out in exciting — and nausea-inducing — bursts of roughly 30 seconds each.
To achieve the effect, the company's G Force One airplane flies in a pre-determined parabola, inducing temporary weightlessness as it makes its sharp descent. On a 90-minute flight, passengers can expect these bursts of reduced gravity around 15 times.
Melon says that a selection of three to four songs will be played, timed to the moments of zero gravity. That won't exactly make for a jam-packed set list, so it will be interesting to see how artists work around that limitation.
On the upside, a Zero-G concert will be a pretty "intimate" affair, according to Melon, since a flight only takes 28 passengers at a time. Performing artists will also only be roughly a foot away.
Unsurprisingly, a ticket to one of these concerts will be extremely expensive. According to Melon, Zero-G is treating the events like any of its other flights, which will set you back over $9,000.
At that prohibitively high barrier for entry, it may not make for the coolest crowd, but the novelty of experiencing weightlessness with some live music to boot is hard to turn down — if you can stomach the price.
More on space tourism: Scientists Issue Warning About Sex in Space
The post Tourism Company Offering Zero-G Concerts appeared first on Futurism.
Perpetual motion machines are impossible, at least in our everyday world. But down at the level of quantum mechanics, the laws of thermodynamics don’t always apply in quite the same way. In 2021, after years of effort, physicists successfully demonstrated the reality of a “time crystal,” a new state of matter that is both stable and ever-changing without any input of energy. In this episode…
Gas stoves produce emissions that can harm human health and the environment. Experts answer questions about the dangers and how to limit them
At Christmas dinner, Jenny Burriss remembers eating exactly one bite of beef before feeling full. She had just upped her dose of semaglutide—the diabetes and obesity drug better known by the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy—and her appetite had plummeted. She had also lost her taste for alcohol, a side effect of the drug. So before her vacation a couple of months later, she decided to skip a dose. She was going to Disney World, and she wanted to enjoy the food—at least a little.
She was indeed hungrier after skipping her weekly injection, but not ravenously so. At the Biergarten buffet in Epcot’s Germany pavilion—where she might have once piled her plate high, justifying to herself that, after all, this is vacation—she was satisfied by just a small taste of everything. At the French pavilion, she savored a Grand Marnier orange slush. She didn’t lose weight at Disney World, but she didn’t gain any either.
Semaglutide works by suppressing the appetite and promoting a feeling of fullness. More fundamentally though, it works by altering one’s relationship with food. Doctors see the drug as a powerful biochemical tool to help patients build healthy long-term habits. Eating becomes a source not of comfort or pleasure, but simply of sustenance. “It takes a little bit of the enjoyment out of it,” Burriss told me. “But that’s healthy,” she added, for someone like her, who had a compulsive relationship with food. Semaglutide has helped her lose about 40 pounds. As the drug has exploded in popularity for weight loss, though, people who use semaglutide to reset their eating habits are navigating a world where food and the anticipation of it are still central to celebration. Semaglutide is meant to be taken regularly as a lifelong drug. So what to do on vacation, when enjoyment is kind of the point?
For some, deciding to forgo the dose while traveling is just a practical consideration. Semaglutide’s side effects usually taper off as the body adjusts, but they can range from the mildly inconvenient to the terribly uncomfortable: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, sulfur burps. No one wants to get hit with a bout of diarrhea as a plane is taking off.
[Read: Beware the Ozempic burp]
For others, staying on the drug removes the compulsion and distraction of thinking about food. They enjoy that peace, even on vacation. Semaglutide quiets what some patients call the “food noise” in their brains: waking up in the morning and immediately wondering what to eat today. Mexican? Pizza? Oh, let me look at some menus. It can be overwhelming to experience and exhausting to constantly counter. Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity-medicine doctor at Harvard, told me that her patients on semaglutide like being able to attend a wedding or a party “without having to worry about overindulging.” Janice Jin Hwang, an obesity-medicine doctor at the UNC School of Medicine, says she tells patients not to see vacations as cheat days. “I don’t like to make it a dichotomy where it’s your normal time and your vacation time,” she says, advocating instead for a more balanced approach all the time.
People who want to skip on vacation, though, are swapping tips and experiences online, sometimes in lieu of official medical advice. By and large, those I spoke with, like Burriss, told me that they were looking for a middle ground, not to go completely overboard on food. “I certainly didn’t want to pig out,” says Sarah, who skipped a dose for a 10-year-anniversary trip to the Bahamas. “I just didn’t want to have that weird nauseous feeling or not be able to enjoy wine.” Sarah, whose last name I’m not using to protect her medical privacy, has always loved researching the best restaurants on vacation. This time, she felt some of the thrill of anticipation, but she ate moderately and chose healthy options, such as fresh fish. Allyson Gelman, who skipped while on vacation in Mexico City, told me she still ended up canceling an eagerly awaited 12-course tasting menu. When she eats too much or too unhealthily on semaglutide, she has to vomit; she’s sometimes had to run to the bathroom after overdoing it in a nice restaurant. In Mexico City, she could still feel the drug’s effects lingering in her system, and she knew she wasn’t getting through 12 courses without throwing up.
[Read: Ozempic is about to be old news]
Semaglutide does take several weeks to clear from the body, so skipping just one dose attenuates but doesn’t eliminate the effects of the drug. Marnie, whom I’m also identifying by only her first name for medical privacy, has been regularly taking her prescribed Wegovy every other week. In the second week, she can feel her side effects start to fade and her hunger start to return. For her, skipping is largely about managing her side effects, because the drug still leaves her very tired. She’s probably losing weight more slowly this way, she says, but she’s okay with that. In certain cases, Stanford, the doctor at Harvard, told me she has instructed patients who don’t need the full dose for weight loss to go longer between injections to modulate severe side effects. (Bafflingly, she’s found that insurance won’t cover a smaller-dose injection pen.)
The explosion of interest in semaglutide is so new, though, that doctors and patients alike are still figuring out what it means in the long term—not just in two or three years, but in 20 or 30. How long do the effects last, and how permanent are these new habits? Burriss believes that, for her, there is room for the occasional indulgence, during a special event or vacation. “It’s not an everyday thing,” she said. And indulging while on semaglutide is still nothing like bingeing without it.
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36821-5Author Correction: Model-based assessment of Chikungunya and O’nyong-nyong virus circulation in Mali in a serological cross-reactivity context
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38348-1Genetic modification is a cornerstone of modern plant biology research and has the potential to transform agriculture. To have the greatest impact, it is essential that the characteristics of new plant genotypes and the methodology used to produce them are accurately reported in the scientific literature. Nature Communications is therefore asking for specific methodological details regarding the production of novel plant genotypes to improve transparency and reporting in plant biology.
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37976-xThe diversity of synchronized neuronal groups provides a challenge for brain theories. Here, the authors report that group size grows quadratically with duration in line with predictions for neuronal avalanches and brain dynamics being critical.
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37903-0Genetic modules are sensitive to changes in their context and to environmental perturbations. Here, the authors develop a genetic optimizer based on common synthetic biology parts to ensure optimal and robust cellular performance in diverse contexts.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01459-2Children living in Germany who had fled their home countries faced less rejection if their classes were ethnically mixed.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01461-8Two extremely cool examples of ‘failed stars’ called brown dwarfs are found orbiting each other.
Off the Charts
Scientists are alarmed as ocean surface temperatures have continuously set new record-breaking highs over the last month.
According to data analyzed by the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, daily ocean surface temperatures breached historical record highs since at least 1982 in April.
That means we are in uncharted territory as global warming continues to take its toll with extreme weather events becoming more common by the year — and scientists are clearly shaken by the spiking temperatures.
"This is getting ridiculous," physicist and climate change expert Rober Rohde tweeted. "For the last month [the daily index] has been continuously reading higher than in any previous year and still shows no sign of settling."
But others argued such a rise should be expected at this point.
"While it is comforting to see that the models work, it is terrifying, of course, to see climate change happening in real life," replied Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution biogeochemist Jens Terhaar. "We are in it and it is just the beginning."
It's part of a greater, worrying trend. A study published last month in the journal Earth System Science Data found that our planet accumulated almost as much heat in the past 15 years as it had in the previous 45, a worrying sign that we're in for considerable rises in global temperatures.
Worse yet, we're still not entirely sure why this is even occurring.
"It's not yet well established, why such a rapid change, and such a huge change is happening," Karina Von Schuckmann, the lead author of the study, told the BBC.
Setting New Records
The previous ocean surface temperature record was set in 2016 during an El Niño, ScienceAlert reports, a weather pattern associated with a warm band of ocean water developing in the Pacific.
This year's El Niño, however, will kick off at a much higher starting point, as Axios points out, which means we could see similar climate events accelerating going forward.
"2023 is off to an alarming start, even before El Niño conditions fully develop later this year," Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Brown University, told Axios, adding that "new record will likely be surpassed in a matter of years."
More on the ocean: Scientists Discover Leak in the Bottom of the Ocean
The post Scientists Horrified as Sea Surface Temperatures Spike Off the Charts appeared first on Futurism.
Elk tooth pendant unearthed in Siberia is first prehistoric artefact to be linked to specific person using genetic sleuthing
Scientists have used a new method for extracting ancient DNA to identify the owner of a 20,000-year-old pendant fashioned from an elk’s canine tooth.
The method can isolate DNA that was present in skin cells, sweat or other body fluids and was absorbed by certain types of porous material including bones, teeth and tusks when handled by someone thousands of years ago.Continue reading…
Thanks for the ones who responded to that post but somehow Reddit marked the link as spam, so I'll put a QR code for the Telegram group so that we can communicate there.
Scientific Reports, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34227-3Effect of target thickness and laser irradiance on the back-reflection-enhanced laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy signal in glass
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38281-3Ion channels could be directly regulated by the alpha subunit of heterotrimeric G-proteins. Here, authors present the cryo-EM structure of an ion channel-Gα complex,
- RSV Vaccine Approved for Older Adults
Long-standing tensions between groups led by two generals who once shared power in Sudan erupted into open warfare on April 15, 2023. In the weeks since, hundreds of civilians and soldiers have been killed or wounded, more than 100,000 people have fled the fighting, and an enormous humanitarian crisis is developing as much-needed food-and-medical-supply missions have been slowed or stopped. Several cease-fire agreements have been made between the Sudanese Armed Forces leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary leader commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), but the fighting continues. Gathered below, recent images of the conflict and those fleeing the chaos.
At this point, Julie Boland is resigned to awkward silences. She’s a psychology and linguistics professor at the University of Michigan, and like many of us, she’s been spending a lot of time on Zoom calls over the past few years—and seemingly always dealing with internet lags and people fumbling to mute and unmute their mic. When there’s a pause, no one seems to know whose turn it is to speak. It helps, at least somewhat, that Boland knows the reason these breaks tend to feel cringey: They disrupt the conversational volley of call-and-response that usually comes to people naturally. We are alert to the moment rhythm ruptures, like when someone loses the beat in a karaoke performance.
Uncomfortable silences have always existed, but in many ways, they’re harder to avoid today than ever before. We interact with both strangers and acquaintances—with whom we’re likely to have some clumsy back-and-forths—at a rate that would have been unheard-of before people flooded to cities and travel grew far easier. And now modern communication technologies such as Zoom, Boland’s research suggests, beget particularly inelegant conversations. It doesn’t help that many of us exited pandemic lockdown to find that our social skills had atrophied. Though awkward silences are an inherent part of daily life, people really wish they could escape them: Abundant books, YouTube explainers, and wikiHow tutorials advise people on how to keep conversation flowing uninterrupted at parties, in meetings, or on first dates.
And yet, if these pauses are unavoidable, we should probably learn to live with them. We might even find that they give us the space to be more intentional about what to say next.
[Read: The weaponization of awkwardness]
The fear of conversational lulls has a long history. The Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck complained in 1896 that “the silence of many … brings dread to the mightiest soul.” A 1947 editorial lamenting the quiet of crowded elevators even called for “good wholesome inter-elevator entertainment like movies or a speech on each ride.” For decades, people have worried that awkward silences are somehow worse than just awkward—that they’re wrong. In 1978, a writer for Baltimore’s Evening Sun claimed that pauses in dinner talk across the United States were growing longer, a trend that might represent a permanent collapse of human discourse. “After three million years,” he wrote, “mankind is at last running out of things to talk about while eating.”
To be fair, some distaste for mid-conversation silence is cognitively natural. Humans are usually pretty good at syncing their response times with those of their conversation partner; some researchers believe that our brains actually fire relevant neurons at a rate synchronized to the other person’s speech. But sometimes we fall out of step—and if that disjunction lasts for too long, we tend not to like it. In one study, a researcher tried to measure what she called the “standard maximum silence,” the longest lull people can typically tolerate before they begin to itch to say something. For most participants, that came after only one second.
A hatred of awkward silences could also derive from overthinking them, wondering if they signal some displeasure or lack of interest from the other party. Studies have found that smooth conversations—those free of pauses and filler words like uh—can boost people’s self-esteem and sense of belonging, creating a feeling of collective harmony. Disjointed conversations, meanwhile, tend to make people feel rejected. In a 2013 study, participants listened to recordings of someone asking a friend for help with a small task; if the friend replied within 500 milliseconds, researchers found, the subject viewed them as eager to help. But by the time the response delay reached 700 milliseconds—still less than a second—subjects started perceiving the friend as agreeing begrudgingly, even if they didn’t say anything of the sort.
Not every silence is a snub, though; most conversations don’t flow perfectly. That’s especially true on Zoom, according to Boland, the University of Michigan professor. She’d wondered whether stilted virtual meetings were awkward in part because of the technology itself. And in a recent study, she confirmed her hunch: Videochatting throws off our conversational rhythms, making it unclear whose turn it is to speak and leading to more frequent, drawn-out pauses. And as video communication becomes more common in work and social life, people are likely encountering more of these awkward silences than ever.
[Read: Are you sure you’re not guilty of the “Millennial pause”?]
In person, too, modern life is filled with the potential for awkwardness. Over the past century, air transportation, urbanization, and the rise of digital communities have combined to broaden the average social network, allowing us to meet—and forge connections with—far more people than when it was common to spend your whole life in one locale. Whole new categories of relationships have opened up, such as the “consequential strangers” you see frequently in a specific context. (Think of the person you might play against in your club softball league, or with whom you might occasionally DM on Twitter.) But the more we interact with those “weak ties,” as some researchers call them, the more we’ll probably wind up in some bumpy conversations.
That might be especially true in the dating world. Apps have normalized the idea of wooing a complete stranger—not a friend of a friend, or an acquaintance you met at a club or a conference, but someone with whom you may have little common ground to fall back on when the conversation falters. And the stakes can feel particularly high: “You’re trying to assess the worth and potential of that person,” Carolina Bandinelli, who studies dating-app communication at the University of Warwick, in England, told me. Some daters are so desperate to avoid awkward pauses that they’ve begun devising questionnaires for their potential love interests ahead of time.
People also deploy all kinds of subtler tricks to keep silence at bay, on a date or otherwise. Simon Betz, a linguistics researcher at Germany’s Bielefeld University, told me that when it’s our turn to speak but we’re still thinking of how to respond, we might use one of those filler words (um) or even a whole filler phrase (That’s an interesting question).
No pause is inherently awkward, though—rather, we actively read the awkwardness into a situation, usually based on context. Silence experienced in front of a sunset might be less stressful than in the middle of having drinks, for instance, while a lull with a new friend will probably feel more painful than with an old one. And conversations that don’t contain long breaks aren’t necessarily better; some exchanges demand time to think and process. If you’re too afraid to take a beat, you might not be processing much at all.
Boland gave me an example: Many years ago, she worked with someone who took unusually long pauses before answering a question. At first, when Boland watched this colleague fall silent, she would think he didn’t know what to say. By the time he spoke, however, “he would give me this extremely articulate, easy-to-understand answer,” she said. It was awkward at first—but then it wasn’t.
Boland wonders whether everyone might be better off taking more response time, and I think she has a point. Maybe people would more thoughtfully evaluate arguments, rather than just reflexively agreeing or disagreeing. On dates, maybe they’d ask questions that unlocked a new side of the other person, rather than settling on obvious ones to fill dead air (“How long ago did you move here?”).
The benefits of silence in certain contexts are already becoming clear. Medical publications have begun advising doctors to pause during consultations, so that patients have more time to gather and share their thoughts. Business experts, too, have found that silences in meetings give people a chance to think up and share new ideas, leading to more diverse viewpoints being contributed.
All of this sounds great in theory, until you are staring across the table at someone, realizing that you’ve run out of conversation, and the dread kicks in. Even if humans are unlikely to ever make themselves love those moments, maybe we can train ourselves to sit with some discomfort. Given that modern life is full of awkward silences, we might need to. And anyway, social interaction has never been consistently easy: We are each separate and complicated beings, unable to read one another’s thoughts or perfectly translate our own into speech. But finding ways to reach through to someone is all the more thrilling for that reason—and perhaps a little clunkiness along the way is just the price of connection.
These days, many Americans are muddling through an antihistamine haze. Between the sniffling, sneezing, and itching, those I’ve spoken with manage to croak out some version of the same grievance: This allergy season is the worst. I have no choice but to agree. In New York, where I live, the tiny chartreuse blossoms of maple trees and the caterpillar-like catkins of birches and oaks are pollen bombs that seem to be exploding with more vigor than usual. As I write this, mascara is streaming from my lashes in pollen-induced tears. One colleague, reliant on drowsiness-inducing decongestants, has resorted to knocking back an absurd number of espressos to get through the day.
Complaints about allergies arise every spring, but the symptoms really do seem to be getting worse. Blame climate change: Allergy seasons, says Kenneth Mendez, the CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, are “getting longer and more intense” because plants are producing more pollen over a longer period. The problem is not just that higher temperatures lengthen plants’ growing season; carbon dioxide itself encourages pollen production. Compared with three decades ago, the North American pollen season now starts about 20 days earlier, lasts roughly eight days longer, and involves 21 percent more pollen, according to research published in the journal PNAS.
But it isn’t just longtime allergy sufferers like me who have it bad. All of this pollen seems to be triggering seasonal allergies in people who have never had them before. Allergies have taken off in recent years: In 2018, 7.7 percent of American adults experienced “hay fever,” another term for seasonal allergies; by 2021, that proportion had risen to about a quarter. Temperatures will only get hotter in the years to come, unleashing even more pollen into the air—potentially making even more people allergic. At this point, not much can be done to stop it.
Whether someone develops seasonal allergies largely depends on two factors: their genetics and their environment. Some people are naturally predisposed to allergies, and climate change isn’t altering that, Kathleen May, the president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, told me. The environment, however, is. The link between temperature, carbon-dioxide levels, and pollen—a fine yellow dust that some plants release in order to reproduce—is very well established. Decades ago, scientists learned that plants thrive in a warm greenhouse with high carbon-dioxide levels and, in the case of some species, produce more pollen than they otherwise would. This is happening now on a continental scale.
An allergy develops when a person’s immune system mistakenly flags a harmless particle as dangerous and starts making allergy-fighting antibodies, known as IgE immunoglobulins, in preparation for the next encounter. When the IgE antibodies detect enough of the allergen, they mount an explosive attack on the hapless invader—releasing chemicals that cause itching, sneezing, congestion, and other classic symptoms of an
Complicating matters is the fact that not everyone who develops these antibodies and is thus “sensitized” to an allergen experiences symptoms whenever some pollen flies up their nose. (Immunology is notoriously complex.) With seasonal allergies, “it takes a certain amount of time or exposure to make that sensitization cause symptoms,” May said. In other words, some people who think they don’t have allergies actually do—they just haven’t been exposed to enough pollen to experience symptoms yet. The body reacts when it “perceives that there’s too much,” Mendez said.
By pumping the air full of pollen for long stretches of time, climate change increases the chances that people—both veteran sufferers and newbies alike—will meet that threshold. “Some of those people who might not have otherwise had symptoms will now start becoming symptomatic,” May said, and “the people who already have it will certainly get worse.” Some of these allergy newcomers, especially adults, could end up having seasonal symptoms for life. Thanks to a phenomenon called the “priming effect,” it may take less pollen to trigger symptoms in subsequent allergy seasons, meaning that even the slightest bit of pollen in the air could eventually cause nasal chaos. Children sometimes “outgrow” the condition after their teen years, May said, whereas adults are less likely to, for reasons that are not yet clear.
On the whole, though, it’s safe to assume that more pollen means more chances for anyone to experience symptoms. As the planet continues to get hotter, the ranks of seasonal-allergy sufferers will expand substantially, though it’s not clear by precisely how much. According to one study, adults in American counties where spring now starts significantly earlier than the historical average have a 14 percent higher chance of developing seasonal allergies than adults in counties where the onset of spring is within the normal range. In Europe, modeling studies suggest that the number of people who are sensitized to the common irritant ragweed will more than double—from 33 million to 77 million—as early as 2041 because of climate change. Worsening allergies are a worldwide concern, but the changes will not be geographically uniform. In the U.S., these shifts are currently happening faster in Texas and the Midwest, according to the PNAS study. William Anderegg, the study’s lead author and a biology professor at the University of Utah, told me that he isn’t sure why; a possibility is that the plants that grow there are especially sensitive to warmth. Those species could eventually spread as rising temperatures give them opportunities to migrate into new environments.
We’re simply not ready for the full effects of what climate change may mean for allergies. In time, temperatures across the country could become so high that pollen season lasts year-round, as it already does in warmer parts of the country, Anderegg noted. The effects could be especially bad in cities, where daytime temperatures can be up to seven degrees warmer than in neighboring rural areas. And exacerbating pollen counts are societal factors such as low use of over-the-counter allergy drugs and low numbers of allergy specialists in the southern and eastern U.S., making those areas among the most challenging places in the country for allergy sufferers to live, according to a recent report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Yet even as pollen fills the air, there’s plenty sufferers can do to ease their symptoms. Given enough warning from pollen forecasts, they could stock up on medications, learn to plan around high pollen counts, and maximize the benefits of anti-allergy drugs by taking them before symptoms begin. Advocating for more advanced pollen monitoring—nationwide counts are often still performed by hand—could help provide more timely forecasts in the long run. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that allergies are yet another inconvenience climate change is introducing into our lives.
Even as America and the rest of the world make tangible strides to reduce carbon emissions, the level of warming that is already baked in means that pollen will just continue to become an even bigger nuisance—one that, in some instances, could snowball. Seasonal allergies are a trigger for asthma, which can lead to hospitalization, and they also make people more vulnerable to some viruses, including the coronavirus. “There’s also this huge set of societal effects that we don’t tend to think about very much,” including decreases in labor productivity and poor student performance at school, Anderegg said. Allergies are obviously far from the most devastating effects of climate change, but the hellishness of this pollen season is a reminder that even the most minor climate impacts can be much more than a nuisance.
Most likely, the person’s skin color will change. An ashy tone might creep in, or they could turn a shade of blue. If too much fluid pools in their mouth or lungs and mixes with air, foam will appear at their lips. There might be a sound, too—that of light snoring. These are some of the main symptoms of an overdose. Although the drug causing the reaction might be different, the symptoms look the same. “An overdose is an overdose,” Soma Snakeoil, a co-founder of the
Project, a harm-reduction organization, told me.
But although overdose symptoms have not shifted, the ability to treat it has, most notably because of the availability of naloxone, the medication that can quickly reverse an overdose and that was approved in late March to be sold over the counter, as Narcan. This move happened at least in part because in the past few decades, the entire context of an overdose in the United States has changed. The U.S. has entered its fourth wave of the opioid crisis, and the death toll is different now: Overdoses have been steadily increasing for many years, but this wave, also known as the “era of overdoses,” has seen the highest number of fatal overdoses yet. “I think what makes this current crisis so unique is the volume” of overdoses, John Pamplin II, an epidemiologist at Columbia’s school of public health, told me. And that is happening because the drugs have changed too. “It’s not necessarily that more people are using drugs,” Emilie Bruzelius, an epidemiology researcher at Columbia’s school of public health, told me. “The opioids that people are using now are incredibly strong, and they’re more likely to cause an overdose.”
The result is that any person using drugs has a higher chance of overdosing than ever before. “There’s no population segment that is insulated,” Bruzelius said. “It’s really affecting everybody now.”
The origins of the opioid crisis can be traced back to 1999. As doctors prescribed opioids more and more—OxyContin prescriptions for non-cancer-related pain alone increased from about 670,000 in 1997 to 6.2 million in 2002—related deaths rose swiftly. In that same period, the number of deaths increased almost 30 percent, to nearly 9,000. This first wave largely affected white people: By 2010, the opioid mortality rate was more than two times higher for white people than Black people.
That year, a second wave began, in which overdose deaths involving heroin grew most dramatically. By 2015, heroin overdose deaths surpassed the number of deaths attributable to opioid pills. This time, the total opioid mortality rate grew for both Black and white populations; death rates increased by an average of at least 30 percent a year beginning in 2010, and accelerated even faster after 2013. In this same period, illicitly manufactured fentanyl—a synthetic opioid approved for pain relief—was being slipped into heroin, counterfeit pills, cocaine, and other drugs. Many of the people taking these drugs did not realize that they were taking fentanyl at all, leading to a third wave of overdoses. Mortality skyrocketed. In 2017, synthetic opioids were responsible for more than 28,000 deaths, while opioid-pill and heroin overdose deaths had leveled off at about 15,000. The demographics of the crisis continued to shift too, and in 2020, the fastest increase in death rates was experienced by Black and Indigenous Americans, surpassing the death rate of white Americans, Pamplin told me.
[Read: What those in power are missing about the opioid epidemic]
The new, fourth wave is characterized by more mixing of different drugs. “People are overdosing from cocaine and fentanyl or methamphetamines and fentanyl or methamphetamines and fentanyl and heroin,” Bruzelius told me. Recently, xylazine—a non-opiate sedative also known as “tranq”—has infiltrated the fentanyl supply, which the DEA has deemed the deadliest threat yet.
This is the context in which the FDA approved Narcan to be sold over the counter. Narcan packages naloxone as a nasal spray, and the FDA argued that its approval could “help improve access to naloxone, increase the number of locations where it’s available, and help reduce overdose deaths throughout the country.” By binding to opioid receptors, naloxone blocks the effects of opiates in the system. This reverses the impact of an overdose, restoring normal breathing.
But drug policies in America tend to swing, pendulum-like, from one extreme to the other, David Courtwright, a historian at the University of North Florida, told me: A response focused on care for drug users might give way to more punitive policy. Already, some critics of Narcan’s availability have pushed to restrict its use on the grounds that an effective overdose treatment could encourage drug use—even though there’s “just no kind of scientific or empirical backing” for those arguments, Bruzelius said. Here, the simplest logic holds: If overdoses are affecting every community in America, better to have an accessible treatment everywhere.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01524-wA massive gravitational-wave detector and a new solar telescope are among the priorities on funders’ latest roadmap.
Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center have successfully extracted oxygen from simulated lunar soil.
According to the agency, it's the first time such an extraction was completed inside a vacuum environment like the actual Moon.
It's an exciting proof of concept scientifically, but also economically. Why? Because it could potentially provide future astronauts with the capability to harvest in-situ resources once they land on the Moon and turn them into breathable oxygen — and even rocket fuel for the way home.
In a test, the team recreated conditions similar to those found on the Moon inside a 15-foot chamber called the Dirty Thermal Vacuum Chamber.
By heating a simulated soil sample using a high-powered laser inside a carbothermal reactor, the team successfully extracted oxygen from the soil.
Similar carbothermal reduction reactions have already been used for decades to produce solar panels and steel, NASA notes.
"This technology has the potential to produce several times its own weight in oxygen per year on the lunar surface, which will enable a sustained human presence and lunar economy," said Aaron Paz, a NASA senior engineer and Carbothermal Reduction Demonstration (CaRD) project manager at the Johnson Space Center, in a statement.
The scientists say they've developed a fully functional prototype that's ready to be put to the ultimate test in space.
"Our team proved the CaRD reactor would survive the lunar surface and successfully extract oxygen," said Anastasia Ford, a NASA engineer and CaRD test director. "This is a big step for developing the architecture to build sustainable human bases on other planets."
But it won't be easy. Once on the Moon, the reactor will have to be able to maintain high levels of pressure while also allowing lunar soil to get in and out of the reaction zone.
Getting heavy equipment to the Moon is also a significant challenge. At the earliest, the agency is hoping to land astronauts on the surface of the Moon during the upcoming Artemis 3 mission before the end of the decade.
More on oxygen extraction: Scientists Use Actual Lunar Soil Sample to Create Rocket Fuel
The post NASA Extracts Oxygen From Simulated Moon Dust appeared first on Futurism.
Warm weather means tick season. But there are ways to protect yourself.
Here, experts offer tips for keeping the vectors—and the infections they transmit—away.
If you’ve ever found a tick on yourself or your child, you might have experienced a sense of panic at the sight of the tiny arachnid. And there’s reason to worry. Ticks are vectors that can carry serious diseases, including Lyme disease, which nearly half a million people in the United States contract each year.
Lyme occurs as part of a complex chain of infections. Ticks carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi pass it on to hosts, such as mice and other animals that get infected, which pass on the infection to new ticks, ensuring its spread.
When infected ticks bite humans, the bite delivers bacteria to the skin, which migrate through the skin and sometimes into the bloodstream, causing Lyme.
For most individuals, antibiotics can cure the disease and fend off any complications, especially if started soon after a bite occurs. However, Lyme disease diagnosis early on relies on recognition of the rash, as blood tests take several weeks to turn positive.
Undiagnosed cases can lead to serious complications, such as arthritis, meningitis, or heart problems. In 10 to 20% of cases, patients experience persistent fatigue, joint pain, mental impairment, and other symptoms that can last for months or years.
“Lyme’s manifestations can be perplexing,” says Linden Hu, professor of immunology at Tufts University School of Medicine. “And its effects are far-reaching. Our best strategy for tackling it is to prevent its occurrence, and the best way to do that is to get rid of it at its source.”
As co-director of the Tufts Lyme Disease Initiative, Hu is working on doing just that. With co-director Robert P. Smith, a physician at Maine Medical Center and professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, and Sam Telford III, professor of infectious disease and global health at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, they have assembled a team of multidisciplinary researchers with the aim of eradicating Lyme by 2030.
Here’s how people can protect themselves from ticks and Lyme disease and stay healthy outdoors:
1. Enjoy the natural world—but avoid tall grass and dense brush
“Ticks have an incredible ability to hitchhike,” Telford says. They like to sit on reeds, twigs, woody stems, and blades of grass and wait for passersby. Stay out of overgrown areas and, when possible, stick to the middle of hiking trails. “Doing so will reduce the chances of a tick hopping on for a ride,” he says.
2. Dress for success
What you wear matters when it comes to preventing tick bites. Light-colored clothing allows you to easily spot the dark-colored creatures. Long-sleeved shirts protect your arms, while long pants protect your legs. Tuck pants into socks to create a full barrier between the tick world and your skin. Closed shoes are a must.
Telford takes no chances. “It’s not just Lyme,” he points out. “Deer ticks alone can spread five different infections. So many infectious agents occupy our woods.”
3. Use proven repellents
Don’t shy away from DEET, Hu advises. Find a product that includes at least 20% DEET and spray repellent on your skin, ideally in an open area, according to the directions on product labels.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says DEET can be used on children and infants older than two months. The CDC advises parents and caregivers to avoid children’s hands and around the eyes and mouth when applying DEET, and children under 10 shouldn’t apply repellent to themselves.
In addition, consider spraying clothing, shoes, and camping gear with insecticides that contain 0.5% permethrin. Follow label instructions, apply the chemical in a well-ventilated area, and keep the spray and any still-wet treated items away from cats, as permethrin is toxic to them (dry-treated clothing poses little risk). An alternative is to purchase pre-treated gear.
4. Conduct regular checks for ticks
No matter how careful you are on the trails or how defensively you dress, the ticks might still find a way. To ensure that you catch any feeding creatures quickly, check yourself, children, and pets every time you return indoors.
Telford says the best way is to take a shower and feel for new bumps on soapy skin. Showering can wash away ticks before they have a chance to bite. Pay special attention to areas where ticks try to hide: under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the toes, under hair, in groin areas, and near the waist. It’s also important to wash clothing after time spent outdoors.
Ideally, you’ll catch ticks within 24 hours after they’ve latched on. They usually transmit Lyme disease after being attached 36 to 72 hours. Finding and removing them early is one key to preventing illness.
5. If you find a tick, don’t panic! Remove it
Use pointed tweezers and grasp the tick at its mouth, where it’s attached to your skin. Pull back slowly, steadily, and firmly, like you would for a splinter.
Be patient, advises Telford: the part of a tick that enters the skin, the hypostome, is covered with sharp barbs, and ticks create a cement-like substance during feeding—these things can make removal difficult. But if you keep steadily (not sharply) pulling, you will eventually ease the tick out of the skin. Don’t worry if you pull too hard and leave the head buried in the skin. It is best not to try to remove it further and it will come out on its own as your skin sheds.
Once the scoundrel is out, clean the entry area with soap and water. “As is true any time something foreign breaks through the skin, you want to clean the area carefully to avoid infection of any kind,” Hu says.
6. Watch for rashes and don’t ignore flu-like feelings
After you’ve spent time outdoors, if you discover a rash on your skin, see a doctor—especially if that rash has a bullseye shape or a circular shape that expands over a day or two. Let your doctor know you’ve been in nature and ask for a Lyme test.
Keep in mind though, Hu says, that not all tick bites produce the infamous bullseye—or lead to any kind of rash at all. As a result, it’s important to also pay attention to how you’re feeling. Within a few weeks after spending time in wooded areas, see a doctor if you feel fatigue, fever, aches and pains, or headaches.
But don’t bother testing the tick for Lyme, Telford says, because most tick bites are not infectious, and even if it tests positive, it may not have transmitted the infection.
Source: Amy Rosenberg for Tufts University
The post 6 tips to protect yourself from ticks appeared first on Futurity.
Our culture is full of lessons about individual survival. But it is the people around us who make the difference between sink and swim
I won’t give my dog a cooked bone. At family gatherings, when such a thing is waved in his direction, I will raise the palm of my hand to close off this avenue of pleasure. The dog’s disappointment will be hard to bear, as will the scorn of the relatives who will say something along the lines of, “Ah rubbish. Look at all the strays you see fending for themselves on beaches abroad and whatnot! They get thrown all sorts of scraps and they’re just fine!”
This is right and wrong. But mainly wrong. Yes, the dogs you see might be doing OK, but they’re the survivors, the most resilient of their litters. We don’t see those who didn’t make it, so it’s only the survivors’ tales that are told; the less fortunate are forgotten. The narrative of resilience is skewed, as we only tend to hear one side of it.
Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnistContinue reading…
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38263-5Author Correction: Subpicosecond metamagnetic phase transition in FeRh driven by non-equilibrium electron dynamics
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37477-xMultimodal biological data is challenging to analyze. Here, the authors develop UnitedNet, an explainable deep neural network for analyzing single-cell multimodal biological data and estimating relationships between gene expression and other modalities with cell-type specificity.
- In 2018 regulators in Belgium adopted new rules known as the Magistral pathway, which allow pharmacies to sell phages to patients who have a prescription.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06093-6Publisher Correction: 2D fin field-effect transistors integrated with epitaxial high-k gate oxide
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01532-wData suggest that these researchers are more willing to publish in journals that participate in such coercion.
Quakes could be the source of the mysteriously smooth terrain on the moons circling Jupiter and Saturn, according to a new study.
Many of the ice-encrusted moons orbiting the giant planets in the far reaches of our solar system are known to be geologically active. Jupiter and Saturn have such strong gravity that they stretch and pull the bodies orbiting them, causing moonquakes that can crack the moons’ crusts and surfaces.
The new research shows for the first time how these quakes may trigger landslides that lead to remarkably smooth terrain.
Mackenzie Mills, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Lab, led the work, which she conducted during a series of summer internships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The paper published in the journal Icarus outlines the link between quakes and landslides, shedding new light on how icy moon surfaces and textures evolve.
On the surfaces of icy moons such as Europa, Ganymede, and Enceladus, it’s common to see steep ridges surrounded by relatively flat, smooth areas. Scientists have theorized that these spots result from liquid that flows out of icy volcanoes. But how that process works when the surface temperatures are so cold and inhospitable to fluids has remained a mystery.
A simple explanation outlined in the study doesn’t involve liquid on the surface. Scientists measured the dimensions of the steep ridges, which are believed to be tectonic fault scarps (like those on Earth)—steep slopes caused when the surface breaks along a fault line and one side drops. By applying the measurements to seismic models, they estimated the power of past moonquakes and found they could be strong enough to lift debris that then falls downhill, where it spreads out, smoothing the landscape.
“We found the surface shaking from such moonquakes would be enough to cause surface material to rush downhill in landslides. We’ve estimated the size of moonquakes and how big the landslides could be,” Mills says. “This helps us understand how landslides might be shaping moon surfaces over time.”
NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission, bound for Jupiter’s moon Europa in 2024, will give the research a significant boost, providing imagery and other science data. After reaching Jupiter in 2030, the spacecraft will orbit the gas giant and conduct about 50 flybys of Europa. The mission has a sophisticated payload of nine science instruments to determine if Europa, which scientists believe contains a deep internal ocean beneath an outer ice shell, has conditions that could be suitable for life.
Europa Clipper’s main science goal is to determine whether there are places below the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, that could support life. The mission’s main science objectives are to understand the nature of the ice shell and the ocean beneath it, along with their composition and geology. The mission’s detailed exploration of Europa will help scientists better understand the astrobiological potential for habitable worlds beyond our planet.
The team was surprised by how powerful moonquakes could be and that they could move debris downslope relatively easily, according to coauthor Robert Pappalardo, project scientist of Europa Clipper at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission.
Especially surprising were the modeling results for tectonic activity and quakes on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, a body that has less than 3% of the surface area of Europa and about 1/650 that of Earth.
“Because of that moon’s small gravity, quakes on tiny Enceladus could be large enough to fling icy debris right off the surface and into space like a wet dog shaking itself off,” Pappalardo says.
When it comes to Europa, the high-resolution images gathered by Europa Clipper will help scientists determine the power of past moonquakes. Researchers will be able to apply the recent findings to understand whether quakes have moved ice and other surface materials and by how much. Images from the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or JUICE, mission, which launched on April 14, will offer similar information about Europa’s neighboring Jovian moon, Ganymede.
“Future data from these spacecraft will help us better understand how icy moon surfaces evolved geologically, and also whether geologic processes are still actively shaping their surfaces,” Mills says.
Managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. The Applied Physics Laboratory designed the main spacecraft body in collaboration with JPL and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, executes program management of the Europa Clipper mission.
Source: University of Arizona
The post Quakes may explain why these moons are oddly smooth appeared first on Futurity.
So many warnings, some rather dire.
OK, I admit – I do not understand.
Some of the warnings are telling me to “prepare.” Sounds a little Y2Kish, but ok I will prepare.
What should I do to prepare?
Swear to god any answer that says l need to go back and live a different life to be a different person, in short a functional flux capacitor answer, will get called out.
|submitted by /u/IHateExceptions
|submitted by /u/ExtraneousJuror
|submitted by /u/__The__Anomaly__
|submitted by /u/SharpCartographer831
Scientific Reports, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-34470-8Retraction Note: Sulforaphane Improves
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single, hot woman must be in want of a schlubby man who can make her laugh. This is, at least, the fantasy that romantic comedies have too often sold us, from Woody Allen’s Manhattan to Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day to Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up. In these films, what’s most valued in a man is not his body—or even his bank account—but his winning personality. When it comes to romancing a woman, humor and a heart of gold turn out to be a foolproof strategy of seduction. And part of the comedy is that an average-looking man who tells good jokes is able to tell them all the way to the bedroom.
This familiar trope is also the opening setup to Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel, Romantic Comedy, though Sittenfeld deftly toggles between deconstructing a well-worn genre and leaning into its most predictable beats. She does this, in part, by setting her novel in the entertainment industry—that producer of slick narrative arcs and neat archetypes—and, more specifically, by making her protagonist a professional comedian, someone whose literal job is to poke fun at the scripts that govern our desires.
The story begins with our heroine, Sally Milz, a comedy writer at The Night Owls (a fictionalized Saturday Night Live), waking up to discover that her “pasty skinned and sleep-deprived” co-worker Danny Horst is dating Annabel Lily—a “gorgeous, talented, world-famous movie star” who is, by all accounts, out of Danny’s league. The news of a rich starlet coupling up with a normie civilian is standard tabloid fodder, but Sally immediately notes how this pairing would never happen if the genders were reversed. Incensed by the double standard, she does what she knows best: “I would write about my fury,” she tells herself. “I’d turn my feelings into comedy, and that’s how I’d cure myself.”
[Read: How rom-coms undermine women]
Sally pitches her comedic corrective at the next TNO meeting in the form of “The Danny Horst Rule”—a sketch that takes on the sexist cliché whereby “men at TNO date above their station, but women never do.” Because that week’s host is the impossibly handsome 36-year-old musician Noah Brewster, the punch line comes when he gets arrested for breaking the so-called Danny Horst Rule by going on a date with a less attractive woman. What starts out as a joke, however, soon turns all too real, as Sally finds herself falling for Noah and sensing that he might be falling for her as well. The dynamic Sally had said would never transpire seems to be developing in her own life. It’s all so unrealistic that it borders on the stuff of fantasy or—just maybe—rom-coms.
Romantic Comedy isn’t shy about its appeal to its titular genre, which Sittenfeld has been circling for years. There’s Eligible, her modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, as well as her fictionalized biographies of Laura Bush (American Wife) and Hillary Clinton (Rodham), both at heart marriage plots. Whereas American Wife dramatizes the consequences of marrying a man who—in a shock to everyone—becomes the next U.S. president, Rodham imagines the counterfactual life of a woman who chooses not to marry Bill Clinton. But Romantic Comedy shares most in common with Sittenfeld’s bildungsroman Prep, her 2005 debut novel set at a fictional boarding school in Massachusetts, which has since become a cult classic of American campus fiction. If that earlier novel featured an awkward and neurotic girl navigating the intricate hierarchies of high-school romance, then her most recent one—centered on a still-anxious 36-year-old woman—reads like a grown-up sequel to Prep.
Even grown-ups, though, continue to fumble at love. The pitch meeting doesn’t exactly go as Sally plans. Upon hearing her idea for the sketch, Noah demurs—insisting that he’d rather be in the position of being mocked than risk mocking others. This initial rebuff is textbook for any romantic comedy. Only when Noah later visits Sally’s office asking for help on one of his own proposed sketches do sparks start to fly. It’s an electric scene that mixes equal parts romance and comedy—and one that routes eros not through physical attraction, but through the good old-fashioned seduction of persuasive writing. A woman making a man’s jokes funnier: What could be more romantic than that?
This early coy scene of editorial feedback is, of course, not the moment when unequivocal romance blooms; that would be too easy. Following the typical beats of the genre, Sittenfeld takes her time, lightly tormenting her female lead and making her wait until the second act to secure her celebrity beau’s enduring interest. In romance—as in comedy—timing is everything, an axiom that Sittenfeld meticulously illustrates in her first chapter: Each scene opens with a specific date-and-time heading, a clear nod to both the novel’s diaristic mode and the tightly scripted television sitcom. This first section takes place over the course of a week, as Sally and everyone prepare for Noah’s night hosting TNO, beginning at “Monday 1 P.M.” (“pitch meeting with guest host”) and ending sometime after “Sunday 1:30 A.M.” (“first after-party”). There’s a moment during the misty hours of the after-after-party when you think Sally and Noah might even kiss—except she ruins it with a flippant dig at his track record of dating much younger models. (Think Emma Woodhouse insulting Miss Bates at the Box Hill picnic, much to Mr. Knightley’s disappointment. And like Emma in the carriage afterward, Sally also cries in her cab all the way home.)
[Read: Making peace with Jane Austen’s marriage plots]
The middle section—which fast-forwards to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020—consists solely of an email exchange between Sally and Noah that grows ever more flirtatious, as they reconcile while each hunkers down alone amid rising COVID-case rates. Sittenfeld is careful to provide the precise time signatures of their correspondence, simulating both the excitement and the anxiety of receiving a missive too early (or too late). When Noah sends Sally an email on “Jul 25, 2020, 10:18AM,” teasing her about her high-school paramours, she responds almost immediately at “Jul 25, 2020, 10:59AM” with an email that begins, “Wait, who DID you lose your virginity to? (Yes, I am ending a sentence with a preposition, but that’s how urgently I need to know.)” Epistolary seduction involves a refined understanding of pacing—though it’s always hotter when you’re both attuned to the formalities of proper grammatical structure.
Any awkwardness that might have ensued from the incorporation of the pandemic into a romantic comedy (a combination of too soon? and in a comedy?) is rescued by the fact that Sittenfeld mobilizes it almost wholly as a plot device, an ingenious choice that smartly doesn’t make COVID the main narrative impetus. Time spent alone is what spurs Noah to reach out to Sally after two years of silence, and what enables their furiously attentive email exchange. Modern romance might look pretty different from the mistaken identities driving Shakespeare’s comedies or the moral compatibility of the lovers in Victorian marriage novels, but it still relies on witty repartee. At times, Sittenfeld’s sparkling banter reads like the populist’s version of a Sally Rooney novel. Sittenfeld’s prose is a bit more colloquial and her plotlines more classically structured, but both are indebted to the novel’s long tradition of epistolary romance—the progenitor, in some sense, of sexting.
This epistolary bent is one of the most winning aspects of her book—recalling films such as The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail, and, perhaps more important, the works of Jane Austen. Sittenfeld’s take on the genre seems energized by the possibilities that the novel, as a form, allows. Indeed, what feels almost refreshingly retro about Romantic Comedy is its interiority—a notably novelistic quality—and the way that much of its comedy of errors gets played out not through slapstick routines, but through Sally’s first-person narration (which anxiously, fretfully retreads her social blunders).
Similarly, it doesn’t seem a coincidence that Sally is closer in spirit to Emma Woodhouse or Anne Elliot than to her presumable namesake, Nora Ephron’s Sally Albright. When Sally first meets Noah, she tells him that, after TNO, she hopes “to write non-condescending, ragingly feminist screenplays for romantic comedies,” in which female characters “aren’t flawless but also aren’t ridiculous or incompetent at life.” (Sally has a particular allergy to rom-com heroines who are “cutesy.”) It’s a surprisingly earnest endgame for a female comedy writer who otherwise seeks to parody gendered norms, perhaps especially given that Sally is herself currently single (following a “starter marriage” in her 20s) and in no apparent rush to find a romantic partner. Sally’s desire to one day settle down and write realist romances, however, seems to come from a genuine wish to write stories for real women just like her.
[Read: The quiet cruelty of When Harry Met Sally]
Ultimately, it’s Sittenfeld, not Sally, who delivers on the promise of this kind of romantic comedy. At one point, Sally confesses to Noah that she tends to distrust her romantic instincts. When she first started working at TNO, for instance, she found herself hitting it off with a fellow comedy writer, only to discover that she had “confused the romance of comedy with the romance of romance”—something she worries is happening again with Noah. To which he replies, “Why wouldn’t this be the romance of romance?” Sometimes, with the right partner, a girl can have it both ways.
Sittenfeld treads a fine line between writing a romantic comedy and upending it—and it’s a line that grows fuzzier as Sally and Noah finally reunite in the final section (at his mansion, no less) and fall in love. In breaking the Danny Horst Rule, however, they end up fulfilling all the rules of the romantic comedy. Or, to put it another way, what begins as the romance of comedy eventually melts away into the romance of romance. But maybe that’s okay. After all, many a feminist reworking of the rom-com lies precisely in this gray zone—one in which reclaiming the genre is hard to disentangle from simply taking its fantasies seriously to begin with.
UK’s outgoing chief scientist urges ministers to ‘get ahead’ of profound social and economic changes
The new genre of AI could be as transformative as the Industrial Revolution, the government’s outgoing chief scientific adviser has said, as he urged Britain to act immediately to prevent huge numbers of people becoming jobless.
Sir Patrick Vallance, who stood down from his advisory role last month, said government should “get ahead” of the profound social and economic changes that ChatGPT-style, generative AI could usher in.Continue reading…
Nature Communications, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38185-2Authors demonstrate a dispersion engineered set of eight nanostructures capable of providing 0 to 2π full-phase coverage. Their design offers a broadband and polarization-insensitive 90% relative diffraction efficiency from 450 nm to 700 nm in wavelength.
Women experience cybersickness with virtual reality headsets more often than men, a new study finds.
Gender discrepancies in cybersickness may not seem that important when it’s related to video games and other forms of entertainment, says Jonathan Kelly, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University.
“But it’s still a problem, and when VR gets to the point where it’s a bigger part of job training or education in a classroom, it’s even more important to make sure people can access this technology,” Kelly says. “If not, a lot of people are going to get left out, and there could be a backlash.”
Like motion sickness, cybersickness can occur when there’s a mismatch between visual motion and body motion. Symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, headaches, and eye fatigue, usually resolve quickly after removing the headset. But in severe cases, they sometimes last for hours.
Kelly and colleagues recently coauthored two related papers for the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference. The first paper provides an overview of existing research on gender and cybersickness, including their own findings.
As part of a larger study on adaptation to cybersickness, the researchers recruited 150 participants to play up to 20 minutes of a VR game with a headset. The participants were new to VR and could stop if they felt too sick to continue. The researchers found women ended the game early twice as often as men and reported a 40% higher sickness intensity.
The paper also helps clarify why previous studies, many of which came from engineering or computer science, show conflicting results.
“A lot of the older papers that found no difference in cybersickness between men and women had very small sample sizes or a large gender imbalance. If the effect is small or individual differences are large, you may need 200 participants to identify statistically significant differences,” says Kelly.
“I think this methodological expertise is something we in psychology can really provide. It also highlights the value of interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle complex problems like cybersickness.”
For the second paper, the researchers explored whether the distance between an individual’s pupils could help explain the gender difference in cybersickness. VR headsets have an adjustable lens set-up to accommodate different users, but some people fall outside the range.
The researchers found women participants on average had smaller distances between their pupils than men, but it did not predict whether they would get cybersick during the game.
What seemed to matter more was whether they had previous experience with motion sickness or screen sickness (e.g., feeling sick in movie theaters, while playing a video game.)
“Women reported experiencing more motion sickness and screen-based sickness than men, and this increased susceptibility is part of the reason that women experience more cybersickness,” says Kelly.
The researchers will continue to investigate the causes of cybersickness and methods to help individuals have a positive experience with VR.
“One of the things we’re doing now is comparing the settings of headsets and virtual environments to see which are most effective at reducing cybersickness for first-time users, and whether some are better than others for certain individuals,” says Kelly.
This includes adding “blinders,” which reduce the users’ peripheral vision while they move through a space, and options to teleport from point A to point B. Both reduce cybersickness by reducing visual stimulation.
The researchers will also study how these settings can be adjusted over time to help the user adapt comfortably and ease into VR. Kelly likens it to beginner swimming lessons in the zero-entry part of the pool, rather than the deep end.
Source: Iowa State University
The post ‘Cybersickness’ from VR headsets hits women more often appeared first on Futurity.
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An online tutoring company that once dominated its industry is majorly hurting after just a few months of ChatGPT.
As CNBC reports, the CEO of the orange-branded e-tutoring company Chegg admitted during an earnings call earlier this week that the outlook for his company is less than sunny now that its stock is down more than 40 percent.
"In the first part of the year, we saw no noticeable impact from ChatGPT on our new account growth and we were meeting expectations on new sign-ups," Dan Rosensweig, the company's CEO, said during the Monday night call. "However, since March we saw a significant spike in student interest in ChatGPT. We now believe it’s having an impact on our new customer growth rate."
Ups and Downs
Though it was founded in 2005 as a textbook rental site and went public a decade ago, Chegg's value rose exponentially alongside its user base during COVID-19 lockdowns, when distance learning made the need for online tutoring — or, according to some critics, cheating — more pronounced. In early 2021, Forbes put the company on its cover as its stock value more than tripled and its valuation ballooned to more than $12 billion.
In just a few short years, however, the company's stock price fell to around $9 at the closing of the markets yesterday, which is notably less than the $12.50 it was valued at during its initial IPO in 2013.
Just a few weeks ago, Chegg announced that it's developing its own AI, CheggMate, in partnership with OpenAI to help students with homework. But as analysts who spoke to CNBC note, that probably won't be enough to change its stock trajectory until next year.
Given that both of these companies are accused of helping students cheat, it's not exactly surprising that one may be overtaking the other as ChatGPT — the apex predator in this situation — eats its predecessors.
More on education: High School Teacher Confesses to Using ChatGPT for Work
The post Online Tutoring Company Stock Crashes as ChatGPT Steamrolls Its Business appeared first on Futurism.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01525-9A focus on women’s health research, and the star caught in the act of devouring a planet.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05918-8A study using a copper-in-silver dilute alloy catalyst in a high-pressure gas flow reactor reports highly selective electrosynthesis of acetate from carbon monoxide.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06039-yPXo bodies, non-canonical multilamellar organelles, serve as a reservoir for intracellular inorganic phosphate and are a critical regulator of both cytosolic phosphate levels and tissue homeostasis.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05935-7By combining geophysical and geodetic constraints for different models of the internal structure of the Moon, evidence is provided supporting the lunar mantle overturn scenario and the existence of a solid inner core.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06020-9Comparisons of steroid hormone concentrations in dentin samples from fossil mammoth tusks with those from a modern elephant tusk provide evidence of periodic increases in testosterone in the male mammoth characteristic of musth episodes.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05855-6Colloidal quantum dot devices demonstrating electrically pumped amplified spontaneous emission are described, showing strong, broadband optical gain and bright edge emission, opening the path to solution-processable laser diodes.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06035-2A non-destructive DNA isolation method for the stepwise release of DNA trapped in ancient tooth and bone artefacts is developed.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05957-1This Review examines the palaeobiology of Australopithecus in terms of morphology, phylogeny, diet, tool use, locomotor behaviour and other characteristics, and considers the role of this genus of hominins in human evolution.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05877-0We report a simple method to fabricate chiroptical flexible layers via supramolecular helical ordering of conjugated polymer chains, providing direct, scalable realization of on-chip detection of the spin degree of freedom of photons.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06019-2A cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of the virus ΦcrAss001 provides insights into the functions of the viral gene products in capsid assembly and infection.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06030-7Active-state structures of the κ-opioid receptor in complexes with the G-protein heterotrimers Gi1, GoA, Gz and Gg provide insights into the actions of hallucinogenic opioids and G-protein-coupling specificity at the κ-opioid receptor.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06007-6Feedback influence from a higher visual area to primary visual cortex in mice engages nonlinear dendritic integration.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05853-8All-optical, mode-selective manipulation of the crystal lattice can be used to enhance and stabilize ferromagnetism in YTiO3 well above its equilibrium ordering temperature and for many nanoseconds, enabling dynamic engineering of practically useful non-equilibrium functionalities in fluctuating electronic systems.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05889-wA new transfer method for microLEDs fabrication based on fluidic self-assembly technology combining magnetic and dielectrophoresis forces is described, achieving a very high simultaneous RGB LED transfer yield and over large areas.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06038-zUsing serial femtosecond X-ray cystallography, we provide structural insights into the final reaction step of Kok’s photosynthetic water oxidation cycle, specifically the S3→[S4]→S0 transition where O2 is formed.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06036-1High-grade
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05842-xObservations of ZTF SLRN-2020, a short-lived optical outburst in the Galactic disk accompanied by bright, long-lived infrared emission, show that the resulting light curve and spectra are consistent with the signatures of a planet being engulfed by its host star.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06031-6A new encoding method, CEBRA, jointly uses behavioural and neural data in a (supervised) hypothesis- or (self-supervised) discovery-driven manner to produce both consistent and high-performance latent spaces.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06008-5Microsecond infrared spectroscopy together with quantum chemistry reveal the rate-determining proton and electron movements and identify an oxygen-radical state of the manganese cluster as the S4 state.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06027-2The α-diazoester azaserine can be produced by Streptomyces albus engineered with a biosynthetic gene cluster and act as the carbene precursor for coupling with intracellularly produced styrene to generate unnatural amino acids containing a cyclopropyl group.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-023-05953-5Bilayer graphene allows the realization of electron–hole double-quantum dots that exhibit near-perfect particle–hole symmetry, in which transport occurs via the creation and annihilation of single electron–hole pairs with opposite quantum numbers.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01387-1Tumour cells can form connections with neurons in the brain. Examination of a variety of types of evidence concerning human brain cancer sheds light on how these tumour–neuron interactions affect cognition and survival times.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01342-0An innovative method was used to obtain a woman’s rich DNA record from a 20,000-year-old pendant found in Siberia, providing the first direct genetic evidence for the identity of an individual who handled an object in the deep past.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01410-5Inorganic phosphate is an essential mineral for cellular metabolism and signalling. It emerges that a fruit-fly organelle can store this chemical in the form of phospholipids, releasing it in times of need.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01385-3An outburst of radiation offers direct evidence that a star has consumed a giant planet. But not every planet ends up as a stellar host’s snack — the star’s properties, and its interactions with the planet, have to be just right.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01388-0The tools of crystallography, spectroscopy and quantum chemistry are pulling back the curtain on photosynthesis, probing previously elusive catalytic intermediates that arise when water splits to form oxygen.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01531-xEntrepreneur Jeff Hawkins explains how our knowledge of the brain can help us to better understand artificial intelligence.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01482-3An innovative method reveals that an ancient trinket was handled by a woman some 20,000 years ago.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01336-yCrassviruses are the most abundant, and among the most genetically diverse, viruses found in the human gut. New structural information about these viruses has shed light on the functions of previously uncharacterized proteins in virus-particle assembly and infection.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01386-2Nanocrystals made from a semiconducting material have been shown to emit intense light when excited with an electric current. The technology could be used to build a type of laser that is more versatile than those in general use.
Nature, Published online: 03 May 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-01339-9CEBRA is a machine-learning method that can be used to compress time series in a way that reveals otherwise hidden structures in the variability of the data. It excels at processing behavioural and neural data recorded simultaneously, and it can decode activity from the visual cortex of the mouse brain to reconstruct a viewed video.
Scientists believe planet the size of Jupiter plunged into star, causing ‘insanely bright’ burst of light
Astronomers have witnessed the intense burst of light from a planet being swallowed by its host star, the same dramatic fate that awaits Earth when the sun expands rapidly near the end of its life.
It is the first time researchers have captured the moment when an ageing star swells so much that a nearby planet starts to skim the surface, sending streams of gas and dust into space, before finally plunging into the fiery depths.Continue reading…
Flavour molecules cause champagne bubbles to rise in straight line – unlike those in other drinks
From the pop of its cork to its delicate golden hue, champagne has many features that make it a celebratory tipple – but none are as recognisable as its fine fizz.
Now researchers have shed new light on the quintessential sparkle, revealing why champagne bubbles rise in a straight line, unlike those of many other drinks.Continue reading…