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A Field at a Crossroads: Genetics and Racial Mythmaking
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Laws such as France's Code Noir, signed by Louis XIV in 1685, and hereditary slavery laws enacted in colonial Virginia in the 1660s had already enshrined chattel slavery in the New World, relegating Africans to legal inferiority.

As their research is twisted to fuel racist claims, many geneticists are weighing the societal risks of their work


How can you trace a single diseased cell in an intact brain or a human heart? The search resembles looking for a needle in a haystack. The teams of Ali Ertürk at Helmholtz Munich and LMU Munich and Matthias Mann at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich have now developed a new technology named DISCO-MS that solves the problem. DISCO-MS uses robotics technology to obtain proteomics data from 'sick' cells precisely identified early in the disease.



Over the last century, sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic have oscillated over periods of a few decades. These oscillations have not been limited to the ocean. Corresponding variations have been observed in the Arctic sea-ice cover, in ocean currents and in the air up to the stratosphere, more than ten kilometers above the ground.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
A study published in the journal Stem Cells Reports reveals that a cellular reprogramming methodology allows the creation of neural networks that reproduce unique characteristics of human cells—different to those obtained from rodent cells—with temporary dynamics similar to human brain development.

American popular culture dominates international markets. Among its most enduringly successful products are police dramas and movies. Many of these feature frequent and overwhelmingly positive depictions of police gun violence—a popular example, and a favorite at this time of year, is Die Hard.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
A study published in the journal Stem Cells Reports reveals that a cellular reprogramming methodology allows the creation of neural networks that reproduce unique characteristics of human cells—different to those obtained from rodent cells—with temporary dynamics similar to human brain development.

The climate and biodiversity crises we have been experiencing for the past few decades are inseparable. The scientific research presented at the back-to-back international summits on climate and biodiversity held in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt and in Montréal, Canada, respectively, has made this abundantly clear.

A major biodiversity conference, recently concluded in Montreal, Canada, was billed as the event that will decide the "fate of the entire living world." All well then that the meeting closed with what has been hailed as a "historic" breakthrough: a deal to protect 30% of all land and water on Earth by 2030.

The rocks on Earth are not all the same age. In fact, most are significantly younger than the planet itself. The oldest sections of the oceanic crust are thought to be 200 million years old—a blink of an eye in the planet's billion-year lifespan. What is going on here?

X-ray diffraction (XRD) is an experimental technique to discern the atomic structure of a material by irradiating it with X-rays at different angles. Essentially, the intensity of the reflected X-rays becomes high at specific irradiation angles, producing a pattern of diffraction peaks. An XRD serves as a fingerprint for a material since each substance produces a unique pattern.

The climate and biodiversity crises we have been experiencing for the past few decades are inseparable. The scientific research presented at the back-to-back international summits on climate and biodiversity held in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt and in Montréal, Canada, respectively, has made this abundantly clear.

A major biodiversity conference, recently concluded in Montreal, Canada, was billed as the event that will decide the "fate of the entire living world." All well then that the meeting closed with what has been hailed as a "historic" breakthrough: a deal to protect 30% of all land and water on Earth by 2030.

The Year in Comments

Every Quanta article, video and podcast has its own backstory. By the time it arrives on your screen, our staff has nurtured it through weeks (and sometimes months) of careful work: research, reporting, writing, editing, art direction, animation, filming, recording, fact-checking, copy editing and web production. Then it's my turn. My job is to engage with Quanta's audience and facilitate…



Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • On 15 December, California approved an ambitious plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2045 .
The state's ambitious plan to be carbon-neutral by 2045 relies on carbon offsets through the state's forests. But scientists say it may be causing more harm than good

The Child Tax Credit Was a Little Too Subtle
Is this article about Economy?

Why doesn't anyone care about the expanded child tax credit? A $100 billion policy—effective, important, elegantly designed, competently managed, and noncontroversial—is gone, at least for now. And nobody, save for a few politicians and wonks, seems to have noticed or to care.  

[Annie Lowrey: Cash for kids comes to the United States]

The expanded child tax credit (CTC) provided no-strings-attached cash payments to 39 million families in 2021 and 2022, lifting millions of kids over the poverty line. But Democrats have failed to get a renewal of the program into the $1.7 trillion spending bill making its way through Congress, just as they failed to get it into the Inflation Reduction Act they passed earlier this year. As a general point, the CTC has languished in policy obscurity. Did Democrats crow about it in their recent campaign ads? No. Did it sway many swing voters in the midterms? No. Have large protests pushed for the policy's reinstatement? No. Many studies suggest, as does common sense, that handing out all that money should have helped Democrats at the polls. Somehow, it did not.

Many political stories end up being much ado about nothing. But the quiet demise of the CTC is one of the most baffling things I have witnessed in American politics: no ado about so, so much. How the policy failed to create its own constituency is the $100 billion question, of interest to the Democratic politicians hoping to reinstate it as well as to experts designing new social programs in the future. Politicians, the CTC shows, have enormous capacity to improve citizens' lives. But don't expect those citizens to thank them at the polls for doing so.

The expanded CTC was part of President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, passed in the spring of 2021. The policy had three main features. First, it beefed up an existing tax credit paid to the parents of dependent children. Under the new provision, families got $3,600 a year for each kid under 5 and $3,000 for each kid ages 5 to 18. Second, it paid out that money in installments; parents received a couple hundred bucks per kid each month from July to December and a final, larger check this spring. Third, it made the credit fully refundable, meaning that families that did not owe any federal income tax still got the full amount.

[David Frum: A rescue package for Joe Biden]

In practical terms: Cash suddenly started showing up in tens of millions of bank accounts. The impact was enormous and instantaneous. The transfers, a kind of Social Security for kids, drove child poverty down to its lowest-ever level. The rate of food insecurity in recipient households fell by more than 25 percent. Those families were less reliant on friends and family for help, experienced fewer medical hardships, and were more on top of their utility bills. Studies showed that the recipients used the money for essentials—food, gas, rent, clothes, day care—and that the transfers did not lead parents to reduce their work hours or quit working.

The families getting the money loved it, even if they were somewhat bewildered by it. Carlos Atkins, a Detroit lawn-care and sanitation worker who is the single father of a 4-year-old boy, told me he spent the cash on tuition, clothing, and rent. The coronavirus pandemic was hard on the family, Atkins told me: His income dropped from $15 an hour to $12 in the early months of the pandemic, and he started getting paid every other week instead of every week. On top of that, he was trying to figure out how to teach and entertain his toddler, whose early-childhood center had shut down. And he ended up with a month-long case of COVID.

"It was mentally exhausting," Atkins told me. "No parent wants to struggle taking care of their child." He had been worrying about where the family's next meal would come from when he started getting the CTC payments. "I don't get government assistance. Everything I do is out of pocket," Atkins said, noting that he had been working since he was 15 years old. "But for those months, it really helped. It really helped knowing we had that source of income."

The program's political appeal extended beyond its recipients. A review of 31 polls found that twice as many likely voters supported the CTC as opposed it. And it never generated much partisan heat, especially in comparison with the Affordable Care Act or the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A plurality, if not a majority, of Republicans supported the CTC, surveys suggested, and Republican Congress members largely left it alone.

Because cash transfers tend to be popular among voters, they commonly generate electoral benefits for incumbent parties. Indeed, there's a voluminous body of research on exactly these kinds of initiatives: Beginning in the 1990s, dozens of middle-income countries established family allowances, reducing their rates of child poverty and boosting the fortunes of the parties that passed them. Research shows that public spending typically wins voters' gratitude in the United States too.

And once voters have a benefit, politicians can't easily cut it or take it away. The CTC's boosters on the Hill settled for a one-year trial in the American Rescue Plan because it was the best they could do. "That was the only way we could get 51 votes," Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado told me. "I obviously deeply regret that." But many hoped that one year would be enough to generate a groundswell of support for the policy, which Democrats could renew later. Some "supporters of the CTC, they argued this would be transformational," Ethan Winter, a senior analyst at the progressive polling firm Data for Progress, told me. "They thought, Once people get that first check, everyone's mind will be changed. You'll never take it back."

He added: "That's not exactly how politics works."

So how does it work? How did Democrats manage to shower voters with $100 billion only for those same voters to seemingly forget about the policy later? Political scientists and pollsters I spoke with pointed to four overlapping factors.

Complexity and confusion

On some level, the expanded CTC was a simple policy: Have kid, get cash. On another, it was an inordinately confusing one. Voters received monthly advances on an extended but preexisting tax credit, one made fully refundable, as if anyone without a public-policy Ph.D. could be expected to understand what that meant. Indeed, the CTC was a "submerged" benefit, to use the terminology of the Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler: a bit of tax-code esoterica rather than a direct-spending program. Even the name was wonky and unmemorable: the expanded CTC, not, say, stimmies.

"People didn't understand it," Pamela Herd, a sociologist at Georgetown University, told me. "A tax credit—it just doesn't feel like a benefit in the same way that getting your Social Security check does. It doesn't register with people in the same way, and that has a real impact on support for the program."

The context in which the program passed into law and the context in which its benefits went out seem to have amplified the confusion. The extended CTC was just one plank of the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan—one of 14, as listed on the White House's own fact sheet. Many voters had never heard of it when money started flowing into their bank accounts. "The fact that Democrats were attempting to do so much at the same time—it created some real messaging problems," Winter of Data for Progress told me.

Moreover, nearly every family getting the CTC was also getting stimulus checks. Many were also receiving extended unemployment-insurance payments, and some were also getting cash from the Treasury Department to help float their small businesses. People were unclear what was what, and many figured that everything was some form of pandemic aid. "I remember getting a letter from the government saying if you qualify for the stimulus, you might get this thing to help families," Atkins told me. "That's how I found out about it. At the time, I was under the impression that the government was using this program to replace the stimulus checks."

Bennet, of Colorado, expressed his "frustration" over the muddled messaging and the "agony" of watching the policy lapse. "I'm not sure it was a fair test," he said. The policy became associated with a COVID crisis that many Americans wanted to move past. The CTC, Bennet said, "wasn't there for long enough for people to see it as a more permanent effort to relieve stress."

Lack of permanence

Indeed, even if Democratic politicians saw the CTC as a trial run for a grand new social policy, voters saw it as temporary stimulus. It showed up out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly.

The CTC had no time to become a line item in family budgets or change people's mind about having another kid. It had no time to become something that families counted on or built their lives around. It had no time to develop feedback—the term that political scientists use for the way policies change voters' politics.

"It was always my fear that we had to have it permanently at the outset, or do it for five years," Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who has pushed for an expanded CTC for nearly two decades and was instrumental in getting it into the American Rescue Plan, told me. "You have to be realistic about thinking about the beneficiaries of the child tax credit: working families," she added. "For people to suddenly become political activists? Christ, they're just surviving."

Plus, for a program carrying a $100 billion price tag, the CTC had surprisingly little lobbying muscle or organized support behind it. "It's a very think-tanky kind of proposal," Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State University, told me. "That was its origin in the policy debate."


That is not to say that the policy did not have powerful allies on the Hill—including DeLauro and Bennet. Yet by the time the CTC money hit, voters were not primarily suffering from having too little cash on hand, as they had been in the Barack Obama years. They were alarmed because their rent was unaffordable and the prices of food and gas were spiraling out of control.

The Atlantic Daily: A guide to inflation

Democrats never quite had an answer for what to do about that. They argued that inflation was temporary and not their fault; they blamed it on corporate greed or on Vladimir Putin; they portrayed it as a bummer for the Federal Reserve to deal with; in many cases, they tried just not talking about it at all. Either way, anxiety over rising prices dampened discussion of the Democrats' stimulus and COVID-relief efforts, given that government largesse was responsible for stoking some of the excess inflation in the first place.

During the midterms, Democratic advertisements rarely mentioned the program by name. Thus, the party chose not to remind voters of what it had passed, or the good it did for the 4 million children it, at least for a time, brought above the poverty line.  


Inflation was voters' primary economic concern in the midterm. But it wasn't their only concern. Voters cited democratic backsliding and the Supreme Court revoking the constitutional right to abortion as issues motivating them to get to the polls; for their part, Republican elected officials kept up their assault on LGBTQ rights, though voters did not seem to reward them for it.

Since the 1960s, surveys have shown voters in wealthy countries shifting toward postmaterialism—that is, from "giving top priority to physical sustenance and safety" to prioritizing "belonging, self-expression and the quality of life," in the words of the political scientist Ronald Inglehart. Compared with their counterparts in the 1950s, when families were poorer and the horrors of World War II were a recent memory, voters today have more latitude to be concerned about issues related to culture and identity. But postmaterialism poses a challenge to left-of-center parties counting on redistributive bread-and-butter policies to win over swing voters. In a postmaterialist political world, Democrats might be able to hand out $100 billion to voters shortly before an election and shift not a single vote.  

Some political scientists told me that, even though American voters have a strong history of rewarding politicians who use government policy to materially improve their constituents' lives, voters are sensitive to how programs are structured and whom they help. Indeed, transfer programs are politically divisive in the United States in a way that they aren't in our peer countries, due largely to America's racial heterogeneity and persistent anti-Black racism.

"People are very skeptical of benefits that are means-tested and are focused on the poor," Andrea Campbell, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me. That skepticism takes on a strong racial valence: White voters deride programs—most notably Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the program usually described as "welfare"—that they view as handouts to Black families and support programs, such as Social Security, that they associate with white workers. Some features of the CTC could win broad support; it was structured as a tax credit, for example, and was near universal among families with children. Yet it was aimed directly at the eradication of child poverty and had its strongest effects in Black communities.

Voters came away from the CTC with a hazy but positive view, surveys conducted this year show. Campbell shared with me unpublished data she had collected indicating that voters might not be so sanguine in the future. The policy is becoming "racialized," she told me, like "cash welfare." She added: "I think it will end up being part of this discourse about how having a family is a choice. If you can't afford it, why did you do it?"

But that has not happened yet, and DeLauro told me she regretted that the party did not have a "singular message or narrative on the value of the child tax credit." It should be the "flagship policy of our party," she added. So how should CTC supporters talk in a way that will make voters listen and like what they're hearing? Recently, a consortium of progressive groups worked on something called the Winning Jobs Narrative Project, which polled more than 110,000 Americans and conducted interviews with 3,000 of them to better understand which political messages succeed.

It found that describing the CTC as effective at ending child poverty reduced support for it; people thought of it as welfare. But describing it as a policy to help working families with child-care costs bolstered support. People liked it when researchers described it as not a handout or an anti-poverty measure, but infrastructure for working folks.

That might seem like a weird way to describe the expanded CTC, but it has the benefit of being true. The best reason to support the CTC is its transformational effects on America's most vulnerable and most important citizens: its children. The best way to advocate for the policy might be to focus on the good it could do their parents. Like Carlos Atkins. He told me that getting the CTC had prompted him to improve his budgeting. He's now working at a company that provides resources for homeschooling and setting up his own lawn-care business. It's all for his son, he told me, his "everything," his "pride and joy."


How can you trace a single diseased cell in an intact brain or a human heart? The search resembles looking for a needle in a haystack. The teams of Ali Ertürk at Helmholtz Munich and LMU Munich and Matthias Mann at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich have now developed a new technology named DISCO-MS that solves the problem. DISCO-MS uses robotics technology to obtain proteomics data from 'sick' cells precisely identified early in the disease.

Physical fitness a demographic watershed
Sedentary behavior, a large waist circumference, and advanced age: These factors are clearly associated with inferior physical fitness among people aged 50 to 64. In a study with over 5,000 participants, investigating the correlations in detail, major fitness disparities are shown.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35541-6

The development of 3d-metal-catalyzed β-C–H bond activation via 4-membered metallacycles remains an elusive challenge. Here, the authors report a Ni-Al bimetal-catalyzed β-C(sp3)–H bond activation of formamides via 4-membered nickelacycles.

A team of medical researchers has analyzed damage by focused high energetic X-rays in bone samples from fish and mammals at BESSY II. With a combination of microscopy techniques, the scientists could document the destruction of collagen fibers induced by electrons emitted from the mineral crystals. X-ray methods might impact bone samples when measured for a long time they conclude.

The use of light to produce transient phases in quantum materials is fast becoming a novel way to engineer new properties in them, such as the generation of superconductivity or nanoscale topological defects. However, visualizing the growth of a new phase in a solid is not easy, due in-part to the wide range of spatial and time scales involved in the process.

A fundamental principle of molecular biology governs how proteins are made within the cell, which happens in two stages called transcription and translation. During transcription, information stored in DNA is copied into messenger RNA (mRNA). Then during translation, the ribosomes assemble proteins one amino acid at a time based on the instruction specified on the mRNA.

Could more acidic air keep viruses from spreading?
sneezing man

Aerosols in indoor air can vary in acidity, and the acidity determines how long viruses remain infectious in the air, research finds.

Viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and others travel from person to person by "hitchhiking" on aerosols. An infected person expels the finely dispersed particles when they cough, sneeze, or just exhale. Someone else can then inhale them.

It's not clear how long viruses in aerosols remain infectious. Some studies suggest that the humidity and temperature of the air may play a role in virus persistence. A factor that has been underestimated so far is the exhaled aerosols' chemical composition, in particular their acidity and their interactions with indoor air. Many viruses, such as influenza A virus, are acid-sensitive; exhaled aerosol particles can absorb volatile acids and other airborne substances, among them acetic acid, nitric acid, or ammonia, from the indoor air, which in turn affects the acidity (pH) levels of the particles.

The new study from ETH Zurich, EPFL, and the University of Zurich shows how the pH of aerosol particles changes in the seconds and hours after exhalation under different environmental conditions. It also shows how this affects the viruses contained in the particles. The study appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team tested the sensitivity of influenza A and coronaviruses to different acidic conditions in artificially generated lung fluid and in nasal or lung mucus, which the scientists had previously harvested from specially grown mucus cell cultures.

Researchers from the Atmospheric Chemistry Group at ETH Zurich, led by Thomas Peter and Ulrich Krieger, investigated the behavior of the mucus aerosols using an electrodynamic particle trap. With this apparatus researchers can "hold" individual suspended particles for days or weeks and study them without contact to surfaces, for example to see how changes in humidity affect them.

According to the researchers, the exhaled aerosols acidify very rapidly, faster than some might expect. How fast they do this depends on the concentration of acid molecules in the ambient air and the size of the aerosol particles. The team examined tiny droplets—a few micrometers across—of nasal mucus and of lung fluid synthesized specifically for the study. In typical indoor air, it took these droplets only about 100 seconds to reach a pH of 4, which is roughly the acidity of orange juice.

The pH value is a measure of acidity: a neutral solution has a pH of 7; the pH of acidic solutions is less than 7; that of basic solutions is greater than 7.

The researchers contend that the acidification of aerosols is largely due to nitric acid that enters from the outside air. It enters indoor spaces either through open windows or when ventilation systems draw in air from outside. Nitric acid is formed from the chemical transformation of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are released into the environment mainly as a product of combustion processes along with the exhaust gases of diesel engines and domestic furnaces. Accordingly, there is a permanent supply of nitrogen oxides and thus nitric acid in cities and metropolitan areas.

Nitric acid quickly adheres to surfaces, furniture, clothing, and skin, but the tiny exhaled aerosol particles take them up as well. This increases their acidity and lowers their pH.

The research also shows that the acidic environment can have a decisive impact on how quickly viruses trapped in exhaled mucus particles are inactivated. SARS-CoV-2 is so acid-resistant that at first the experts didn't believe their measurements. It took a pH of below 2, i.e. very acidic conditions such as those in undiluted lemon juice, to inactivate the coronavirus. Such conditions aren't possible in typical indoor air.

Influenza A viruses, on the other hand, are inactivated after just one minute in acidic conditions of pH 4. Freshly exhaled mucus particles reach this level in less than two minutes in typical indoor environments. Adding the time it takes to acidify the aerosol to the time it takes to inactivate the flu viruses at a pH 4 or lower, it quickly becomes clear that 99% of influenza A viruses will be inactivated in the aerosol after roughly three minutes. This short time span surprised the researchers.

SARS-CoV-2 is a different story: since aerosol pH hardly ever falls below 3.5 in typical indoor spaces, it takes days for 99% of coronaviruses to be inactivated.

The study shows that in well-ventilated rooms, inactivation of influenza A viruses in aerosols works efficiently, and the threat of SARS-CoV-2 can also be reduced. In poorly ventilated rooms, however, the risk that aerosols contain active viruses is 100 times greater than in rooms with a strong supply of fresh air.

This leads the researchers to advise that indoor rooms be ventilated frequently and well, so that the virus-laden indoor air and basic substances such as ammonia from emissions of people and indoor activities are carried outside, while acidic components of the outside air can enter the rooms in sufficient quantities.

Even normal air conditioning systems with air filters can lead to a reduction in volatile acids. "Acid removal is likely even more pronounced in museums, libraries, or hospitals with activated carbon filters. In such public buildings, the relative risk of influenza transmission can increase significantly compared to buildings supplied with unfiltered outside air," the team writes in the article.

In response, the research team could imagine adding small amounts of volatile acids such as nitric acid to filtered air and removing basic substances such as ammonia in an attempt to accelerate the aerosols' acidification. According to the study, a concentration of nitric acid at levels around 50 ppb (parts per billion of air, which is 1/40th of the 8-hour legal limit in the workplace) could reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection a thousand-fold.

However, the researchers are also aware that such a measure will be highly controversial, as it is not clear what consequences such levels of acid may have.

The removal of ammonia—a compound readily emitted by people and a substance that stabilizes viruses as it elevates pH—should not be controversial, however.

The Peter group was also responsible for performing model simulations. This modeling-based approach might prove to be a weakness in the overall study; how airborne viruses really behave in acidic aerosols is something that remains to be seen in further experiments. With these in mind, researchers at EPFL have developed experimental techniques and modeling approaches that will allow future experiments to be carried out both under strict biosafety conditions and using different compositions of indoor air.

Source: ETH Zurich

The post Could more acidic air keep viruses from spreading? appeared first on Futurity.


1 thing can help holiday parties boost well-being
Is this article about Health?
A Christmas tree covered in ornaments with people at a party in the background.

Making an intentional effort to recognize positive life events and achievements while gathering for food and drink at holiday parties will leave you and others feeling more socially supported, according to new research

The study finds that celebrations with three conditions—social gathering, eating or drinking, and intentionally marking a positive life event—will increase perceived social support.

According to previous research, perceived social support is the belief you have a social network that will be there for you in case of future, negative life events. That belief is associated with health and well-being outcomes, including increased lifespan and decreased anxiety and depression.

"Many celebrations this time of year include two of the three conditions—eating and drinking while gathering together," says Kelley Gullo Wight, assistant professor at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and coauthor of the study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

"Adding the third condition, making an intentional effort to recognize other's positive achievements, is key. For example, take the time to congratulate someone for getting accepted to their first-choice university, or a work project that went well, or a new job offer. This will maximize the benefits to your well-being and the well-being of all the attendees at that holiday party."

Wight and her coauthors used behavioral experiments to survey thousands of participants over several years.

The research revealed that even if gatherings are virtual, if everyone has food and drink (no matter if it's healthy or indulgent) and they're celebrating positive events, this also increases a person's perceived social support, and they can receive the same well-being benefits from it.

It also has implications for marketing managers or anyone looking to raise funds for a good cause.

"We found that when people feel supported socially after a celebration, they're more 'pro-social,' and more willing to volunteer their time or donate to a cause," says coauthor Danielle Brick, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Connecticut. "This would be a good time for non-profits to market donation campaigns, around the time many people are celebrating positive life events, like holidays or graduations."

The researchers note that hosting celebrations that increase perceived social support can be especially beneficial at places serving populations more at-risk of loneliness and isolation, like nursing homes or community centers.

They also note the importance of understanding the well-being benefits of celebrations for policymakers looking to implement regulations or measures that could impact social gatherings, like COVID lockdowns, to avoid negative consequences to mental health.

They recommend that if organizers need to have virtual celebrations, they should involve some type of consumption and the marking of a separate, positive life event, so people leave the celebration feeling socially supported.

Additional coauthors are from Duke University.

Source: Indiana University

The post 1 thing can help holiday parties boost well-being appeared first on Futurity.


Probe could find whether Saturn's moon hosts life
Is this article about Aerospace?
An illustration of the Cassini probe orbiting Enceladus, seen with starlight dawning on its horizon.

The mystery of whether microbial alien life might inhabit Enceladus, one of Saturn's 83 moons, could be solved by an orbiting space probe, according to a new study.

In a new paper in the Planetary Science Journal, the researchers map out how a hypothetical space mission could provide definite answers.

When Enceladus was initially surveyed in 1980 by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, it looked like a small, not overly exciting "snowball" in the sky. Later, between 2005 to 2017, NASA's Cassini probe zipped around the Saturnian System and studied Saturn's complex rings and moons in unprecedented detail.

Scientists were stunned when Cassini discovered that Enceladus' thick layer of ice hides a vast, warm saltwater ocean outgassing methane, a gas that typically originates from microbial life on Earth.

The methane, along with other organic molecules that build the foundations of life, were detected when Cassini flew through giant water plumes erupting from the surface of Enceladus. As the tiny moon orbits the ringed gas giant, it is being squeezed and tugged by Saturn's immense gravitational field, heating up its interior due to friction. As a result, spectacular plumes of water jet from cracks and crevices on Enceladus' icy surface into space.

Last year, a team of scientists calculated that if life could have emerged on Enceladus, there is a high likelihood that its presence could explain why the moon is burping up methane.

"To know if that is the case, we must go back to Enceladus and look," says senior author Régis Ferrière, associate professor in the ecology and evolutionary biology department at the University of Arizona.

In their latest paper, Ferrière and his collaborators report that while the hypothetical total mass of living microbes in Enceladus' ocean would be small, a visit from an orbiting spacecraft is all that would be needed to know for sure whether Earth-like microbes populate Enceladus' ocean underneath its shell.

"Clearly, sending a robot crawling through ice cracks and deep-diving down to the seafloor would not be easy," Ferrière says, explaining that more realistic missions have been designed that would use upgraded instruments to sample the plumes like Cassini did, or even land on the moon's surface.

"By simulating the data that a more prepared and advanced orbiting spacecraft would gather from just the plumes alone, our team has now shown that this approach would be enough to confidently determine whether or not there is life within Enceladus' ocean without actually having to probe the depths of the moon," he says. "This is a thrilling perspective."

Examining Enceladus

Located about 800 million miles from Earth, Enceladus completes an orbit around Saturn every 33 hours. While the moon isn't even as wide as the state of Arizona, it visually stands out because of its surface; like a frozen pond glinting in the sun, the moon reflects light like no other object in the solar system. Along the moon's south pole, at least 100 giant water plumes erupt through cracks in the icy landscape much like lava from a violent volcano.

Scientists believe that water vapor and ice particles ejected by these geyser-like features contribute to one of Saturn's iconic rings. This ejected mixture, which brings up gases and other particles from deep inside Enceladus' ocean, was sampled by the Cassini spacecraft.

The excess methane Cassini detected in the plumes conjures images of extraordinary ecosystems found in the lightless depths of Earth's oceans: hydrothermal vents. Here, at the edges of two adjacent tectonic plates, hot magma below the seafloor heats the ocean water in porous bedrock, creating "white smokers," vents spewing scorching hot, mineral-saturated seawater. With no access to sunlight, organisms depend on energy stored in chemical compounds released by the white smokers to make a living.

"On our planet, hydrothermal vents teem with life, big and small, in spite of darkness and insane pressure," Ferrière says. "The simplest living creatures there are microbes called methanogens that power themselves even in the absence of sunlight."

Methanogens convert dihydrogen and carbon dioxide to gain energy, releasing methane as a byproduct. Ferrière's research group modeled its calculations based on the hypothesis that Enceladus has methanogens that inhabit oceanic hydrothermal vents resembling the ones found on Earth. In this way, the researchers calculated what the total mass of methanogens on Enceladus would be, as well as the likelihood that their cells and other organic molecules could be ejected through the plumes.

"We were surprised to find that the hypothetical abundance of cells would only amount to the biomass of one single whale in Enceladus' global ocean," says first author Antonin Affholder, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona who was at Paris Sciences & Lettres when doing this research.

"Enceladus' biosphere may be very sparse. And yet our models indicate that it would be productive enough to feed the plumes with just enough organic molecules or cells to be picked up by instruments onboard a future spacecraft."

Hunting for life

Enceladus has garnered recent attention as a location to someday be revisited and more thoroughly scrutinized. One proposal, the "Enceladus Orbilander," designed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, envisions a mission that would collect extensive data about Enceladus by landing on and orbiting this celestial body beginning in the 2050s.

"Our research shows that if a biosphere is present in Enceladus' ocean, signs of its existence could be picked up in plume material without the need to land or drill," says Affholder, "but such a mission would require an orbiter to fly through the plume multiple times to collect lots of oceanic material."

The paper includes recommendations about the minimum amount of material that must be collected from the plumes to confidently search for both microbial cells and certain organic molecules. Observable cells would show direct evidence of life.

"The possibility that actual cells could be found might be slim," Affholder says, "because they would have to survive the outgassing process carrying them through the plumes from the deep ocean to the vacuum of space—quite a journey for a tiny cell."

Instead, the authors suggest that detected organic molecules, such as particular amino acids, would serve as indirect evidence for or against an environment abounding with life.

"Considering that according to the calculations, any life present on Enceladus would be extremely sparse, there still is a good chance that we'll never find enough organic molecules in the plumes to unambiguously conclude that it is there," Ferrière says. "So, rather than focusing on the question of how much is enough to prove that life is there, we asked, 'What is the maximum amount of organic material that could be present in the absence of life?'"

If all measurements were to come back above a certain threshold, it could signal that life is a serious possibility, according to the authors.

"The definitive evidence of living cells caught on an alien world may remain elusive for generations," Affholder says. "Until then, the fact that we can't rule out life's existence on Enceladus is probably the best we can do."

Source: Kylianne Chadwick for University of Arizona

The post Probe could find whether Saturn's moon hosts life appeared first on Futurity.


A fundamental principle of molecular biology governs how proteins are made within the cell, which happens in two stages called transcription and translation. During transcription, information stored in DNA is copied into messenger RNA (mRNA). Then during translation, the ribosomes assemble proteins one amino acid at a time based on the instruction specified on the mRNA.

A lack of infrastructure in parts of Africa has made unregulated, gas-powered motorcycle taxis widespread — a system that gets people where they need to be, but heavily pollutes the air and excludes drivers from the formal economy. TED Fellow and entrepreneur Adetayo Bamiduro offers his vision for a cleaner, more equitable future, where an electric motorcycle service helps green Africa's transportation and transform the lives and livelihoods of drivers.

Energy crisis: The five challenges for 2023
How will the map of global energy change? Will sky-high energy prices boost renewables? How will the industrial landscape shift? What will the lasting economic impacts be? How will the energy crisis affect climate action? These are the five crucial questions that researchers around the world will be asked to focus on in 2023. It will be up to them to find adequate answers to support government action in the coming months to deal with the emergency.

A team of medical researchers has analyzed damage by focused high energetic X-rays in bone samples from fish and mammals at BESSY II. With a combination of microscopy techniques, the scientists could document the destruction of collagen fibers induced by electrons emitted from the mineral crystals. X-ray methods might impact bone samples when measured for a long time they conclude.

New cause of melting Antarctic ice shelves
Researchers have discovered a process that can contribute to the melting of ice shelves in the Antarctic. An international team of scientists found that adjacent ice shelves play a role in causing instability in others downstream. The study also identified that a small ocean gyre — a system of circulating ocean currents — next to the Thwaites Ice Shelf can impact the amount of glacial-meltwater flowing beneath it. When that gyre is weaker, more warm water can access the areas beneath the ice shelf, causing it to melt.

The Year in Math

We can think of a mathematician as a kind of archaeologist, painstakingly brushing dust off the hidden structures of the world. But the structures mathematicians reveal are not only durable, but also inevitable. They could never have been any other way. They are also remarkably interconnected: Though each year the mathematical frontier continues to expand as new discoveries are made…



Is this article about Agriculture?
Flowering plants proliferate through sexual reproduction and seed production. Seed germination and subsequent post-germinative growth are strictly regulated and require the precise coordination of multiple environmental and internal cues, including phytohormones. Abscisic acid (ABA) represses seed germination and post-germinative growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. Auxin and jasmonic acid (JA) stimulate ABA function; however, the possible synergistic effects of auxin and JA on ABA signaling and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive.

Findings refute '13 Reasons Why' suicide effect
Is this article about Neuroscience?
teen looks upset while holding remote in dim room

Seasonal changes and other factors eliminate the apparent suicide contagion effect reported from the release of the first season of 13 Reasons Why, a study finds.

The seasonal pattern of adolescent suicide also appears to follow the school year, with a decline in the summer months when youths are not in school—an association that has not received much attention in scholarly literature.

The first season of 13 Reasons Why premiered on March 31, 2017. A much-publicized study by other researchers claimed to detect a significant increase in suicide among adolescent boys in April 2017, as well as in March, the month before the show's release, while a second study found an effect for girls in April as well. Other studies found incremental increases in hospital admissions following the show's release.

New research from Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, examines US suicide data for the month before and after the show's release, under the hypothesis that weekly data could provide a clearer explanation than monthly data of the apparent increase seen in March, before the series' release. His analysis also looks at the alternative hypothesis that an increase in March and April 2017 could have reflected annual seasonal increases in the suicide rate. The findings appear in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior,

"The suicide rate increases in the springtime for adolescents and young people, just as it does for everybody else," Romer says. "The rise in the spring was coincidental with the release of 13 Reasons Why at the very end of March. When you control for that, the apparent increase goes away. The bottom line is we don't have any evidence to show that 13 Reasons Why had an effect on suicide as far as the national rates are concerned."

13 Reasons Why featured a female high school student who died by suicide and left 13 tape recordings of experiences at her school that explained her decision to end her life. The final episode, which graphically portrayed her death, caused an uproar because it violated recommendations against displaying such portrayals. In the spirit of recommendations for the portrayal of suicide in media, Netflix eventually deleted the scene and included warnings at the beginning of each episode to give viewers advance notice of the potentially upsetting content and provide resources for those in need of counseling.

In a 2019 study, a group of researchers (Bridge et al.) claimed to find an increase in suicide among 10- to 17-year-olds in March and April of 2017, and over as long as a 10-month period, starting the month before Netflix released the series. This prompted Romer to conduct a reanalysis of the first season's effects on suicide. Using a model that took into consideration the rise in suicide that has occurred in recent years in adolescents and other statistical factors, Romer found no effect for girls but found an effect in boys. That apparent effect was difficult to explain because it occurred a month before the show was released. The Bridge study notes that a promotional trailer for the series began airing on March 1, 2017, and attributed the rise in suicide in that month to the "promotional period" for the series.

"We were skeptical of the finding that the show produced a sustained effect on suicide," says Romer, whose 2020 reanalysis was published in PLOS ONE. "Finding an effect for boys was unexpected if the portrayal by a female protagonist produced contagion. And seeing an effect before the show even aired should have raised concerns."

Another study by Romer and colleagues with a panel of young people ages 18 to 29 both before and shortly after the second season of 13 Reasons Why provided more in-depth analysis of the show's effects. This analysis found that those who started to watch the second season but discontinued watching it were especially likely to experience an increase in suicidal risk. However, those who watched the entire second season experienced decreases in suicide risk and greater willingness to help others in distress, compared with those who either didn't watch the show or who discontinued watching. These findings suggested that those who were most at risk of an adverse reaction—the most vulnerable—may not even have viewed the final episode of the first season.

Other researchers have found positive effects of the show by increasing perceived understanding of the risks of suicide and sympathy for those at risk of suicide. A recent study by researchers at UCLA found that of the adolescents who were asked to watch the third season of 13 Reasons Why, 88% went online to talk about mental health and 92% sought out information on mental health topics.

According to Yalda T. Uhls, the senior researcher on the UCLA study, "Our study adds to the increasing evidence that a popular entertainment show that deals with mental health issues can be an effective intervention, especially if combined with high-quality resources alongside the storyline."

Romer notes that the seasonal pattern of recent adolescent suicides "appeared to follow the school year with a decline during summer months," consistent with a prior, unrelated study of data in 18 states for the period 2000-2014. The findings, Romer says, "suggest that schooling may be a risk factor for suicide," though he adds that it's "difficult to draw causal conclusions from population-level trends in schooling and suicide" given that "schooling as an experience is too varied to be a risk factor for suicide."

The seasonal pattern observed for adolescents was also apparent for young men ages 19 to 24, suggestive of the same seasonal pattern of reduced suicide during the summer. The findings highlight how adolescents and college-age youth are at increased risk of suicide during the school year, a pattern not seen in adults. Indeed, young people ages 25 to 29 did not exhibit the summer decline, but instead displayed a summer increase, which is the pattern typically seen in older adults.

The author thanks Robert Anderson of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for assistance in acquiring and interpreting the data for this study and to Shukai Cheng of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for assistance in extracting the data from NCHS. The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Research Data Center, the National Center for Health Statistics, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: Penn

The post Findings refute '13 Reasons Why' suicide effect appeared first on Futurity.


As sensors picked up the first signs of a strong earthquake jolting the Northern California coast, an alert was blasted to 3 million smartphone users telling them to "drop, cover, hold on." It was hailed as the biggest test yet of the warning system since its public launch.

Researchers discuss recent quantum computer wormhole model
A recent Nature publication continues to generate headlines over its findings that scientists from the California Institute of Technology developed a model of a traversable wormhole on the Google Sycamore quantum processing system.

Flowering plants proliferate through sexual reproduction and seed production. Seed germination and subsequent post-germinative growth are strictly regulated and require the precise coordination of multiple environmental and internal cues, including phytohormones. Abscisic acid (ABA) represses seed germination and post-germinative growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. Auxin and jasmonic acid (JA) stimulate ABA function; however, the possible synergistic effects of auxin and JA on ABA signaling and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive.

Rwandan tree carbon stock mapped from above
Is this article about Sustainability?
Researchers at University of Copenhagen have developed a method to map the carbon stock of individual trees by collaborating with Rwandan authorities and researchers. Together they have created a national inventory of tree-level carbon stocks in Rwanda.

Temporarily overshooting the climate targets of 1.5–2 degrees Celsius could increase the tipping risk of several Earth system elements by more than 70% compared to keeping global warming in line with the United Nations Paris Agreement range, a new risk analysis study by an international team of researchers shows. This tipping risk increases even if in the longer term the global temperature would stabilize within the Paris range. Avoiding an overshoot would hence limit the risks, the researchers conclude.

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in the U.S., working with a colleague from France and another from Guatemala, has discovered a very large 2,000-year-old Mayan civilization in northern Guatemala. In their paper published in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica, the group describes using LiDAR to conduct a survey of the area.

Can dogs smell time? Just ask Donut the dog

After decades of wondering, an NPR reporter finally figures out how her husband's family dog knew when the school bus would arrive everyday. She did some digging — and now it all makes scents.

(Image credit: Lauren Gao for NPR)


Fatal Attraction: What is Sex and Love Addiction?
Have you ever been in love? Has it made you do crazy things? Whether it was sending your lover bundles of flowers, stalking their social media (or stalking them in person), or boiling a rabbit in a pot of water, we've all been there. We know that love is enthralling. It is potent enough in […]


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35545-2

Novel measurements of clay hydroxyl isotopic composition show an enhanced hydrological cycle during a period of intense global warming at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary 55.9 million years ago.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35597-4

In layered transition metal oxides as cathode active materials for Na-ion batteries, Na+ diffusion kinetics are impacted by Na+/vacancy ordering. Here, the authors suggest that the P2-type Na2/3Ni1/3Mn2/3O2 with large zigzag ordering exhibits high Na+ mobility and thus superior rate capability.

The Year in Physics

The year began right as the James Webb Space Telescope was unfurling its sunshield — the giant, nail-bitingly thin and delicate blanket that, once open, would plunge the observatory into frigid shade and open up its view of the infrared universe. Within hours of the ball dropping here in New York City, the sunshield could have caught on a snag, ruining the new telescope and tossing billions of…



A $3.5 Billion EV Battery Plant Will Be Built in South Carolina Next Year
Leo has detected a Location Expansion in this article

As the world attempts to transition away from fossil fuels over the next several decades, critical minerals will likely be among the world's most sought-after commodities. The US isn't in a great position with respect to resources like cobalt, lithium, or graphite, all of which are needed for 

electric vehicles

. China, meanwhile, controls 65 percent of the supply chains for battery-ready lithium chemicals and has 20 times more battery manufacturing capacity than the US.

That will take a while to change in any significant way, but an announcement last week from battery manufacturer Redwood Materials is a small step towards evening the scales. The company will be building what it calls a "battery materials campus" near Charleston, South Carolina that will eventually be able to power more than a million electric vehicles per year.

Redwood runs a combination recycling/manufacturing operation: the company takes in batteries (from cars, laptops, phones, tablets, and other electronics) that are at the end of their useful life, then breaks them down and extracts metals like nickel, copper, cobalt, and lithium. They then rebuild those metals into cathode and anode products, which are the fundamental components of electric vehicle batteries (and account for most of their cost).

Anode and cathode components aren't produced anywhere in the US at present (or anywhere in North America, for that matter). According to Redwood, companies that make battery cells have to source them through a 50,000-mile global supply chain—and that's not cheap. As a result, American battery manufacturers will spend more than $150 billion overseas on anode and cathode components by 2030.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) President Biden signed into law this past August aims to change that. The act includes provisions to aid the onshoring of critical minerals mining, processing, and related manufacturing. Mining companies that produce aluminum, lithium, or graphite will qualify for a tax credit equivalent to 10 percent of the cost of production for that mineral, and consumers who buy electric vehicles get tax credits if a certain proportion of the minerals in the cars were extracted or processed in the US or free trade partner countries.

The IRA was preceded by an announcement last May of $3.16 billion in government funding for domestic battery manufacturing and supply chains for battery materials as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in November 2021.

There's no shortage of incentives, then, for companies like Redwood to get cranking on those batteries. The South Carolina plant will be built on 600 acres, cost $3.5 billion, and create about 1,500 jobs. The company says the operation won't use any fossil fuel, sourcing only clean energy, and its plant design and manufacturing process will yield an 80 percent reduction in the CO2 emissions from producing these components (as compared to the current Asia-based supply chain).

The facility is expected to supply battery materials to Ford, SK On, Toyota, Volvo, and Envision AESC plants in nearby states. Redwood plans to break ground on the project in the first quarter of 2023, have its first recycling process running by the end of next year, and eventually produce 100 GWh of cathode and anode components annually.

Image Credit: Redwood Materials


Researchers at the University of Twente have developed a revolutionary programmable integrated microwave photonic filter with a record-breaking dynamic range. This represents a major breakthrough in the integration of functionality and performance in radio frequency photonic signal processors.

Brain boost gets rats adjusted to hearing implants faster
A brown rat looks directly at the camera.

Kickstarting the brain's natural ability to adjust to new circumstances, known as neuroplasticity, improves how effectively a cochlear implant can restore hearing loss, a new study in deaf rats shows.

The researchers say the investigation may help explain why some implant recipients respond so much better to treatment than others.

Unlike hearing aids, which amplify, balance, and sharpen incoming sound, cochlear implants send electrical signals that represent sounds directly to the brain.

Unfortunately, it takes time to understand the meaning of the signals. While some cochlear implant users begin to understand speech hours after receiving their device, others require months or years to do so. The mechanisms that determine how quickly the brain can adjust to an implant have been unclear.

For the new investigation in rats—published in the journal Nature—researchers evaluated whether stimulating the locus coeruleus, a major site of neuroplasticity found deep in mammals' brain stems, improved how quickly they learned to use their devices.

It showed that within just three days of receiving their implants, rodents given the extra boost could effectively complete tasks that required accurate hearing. By contrast, those without the stimulation needed up to 16 days to do so.

"Our findings suggest that differences in neuroplasticity, particularly in parts of the brain such as the locus coeruleus, may help explain why some cochlear implant users improve faster than others," says lead author and neuroscientist Erin Glennon, a medical student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

In an earlier investigation, the research team found that electrically stimulating the locus coeruleus in rodents increases neuroplasticity and changes how the brain's hearing system represents sound. However, the new study is the first to demonstrate that stimulating this brain region hastens hearing among cochlear implant recipients, Glennon says.

For the investigation, the study authors trained rats with normal hearing to press a button after they heard a particular sound and to ignore the button if they heard a different one. Once deafened, the rats were unable to complete the task. Then they were given cochlear implants and retrained to perform the same challenge by relying on the device.

Among the findings, the study showed that locus coeruleus activity changed dramatically as the rats learned to use their implants. At first, the brain region was most active when the animals received food after hearing the tone and pressing the correct button.

As they learned to associate pressing the button with receiving the reward, brain activity instead peaked when they just heard the tones. Notably, the faster this change occurred, the faster the rats consistently succeeded at the task.

"Our results suggest that improving neuroplasticity in the locus coeruleus may speed up and bolster the effectiveness of cochlear implants," says study co-senior author and neuroscientist Robert C. Froemke, professor of genetics in the department of neuroscience and physiology.

Froemke, who is also a professor in the department of otolaryngology, says the team next plans to explore ways of stimulating the brain region in humans that do not require invasive surgery.

"Since our goal is to activate the locus coeruleus, we need to determine what noninvasive mechanisms may be used to trigger the brain region," says co-senior author Mario A. Svirsky.

Svirsky, also a professor in the department of neuroscience and physiology, cautions that the rats' hearing was examined using simple sounds in a straightforward task, while humans need to respond to nuanced speech patterns in noisy environments. Further research, he says, is needed into other brain regions that may be involved.

Additional coauthors are from the University of Cologne, the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and NYU.

The National Institutes of Health supported the work. Additional support came from Cochlear Ltd., an NYU vendor, which also sells equipment and technical support to NYU Langone. The terms and conditions of these agreements are being managed in accordance with the policies of the health system.

Source: NYU

The post 

Brain boost

 gets rats adjusted to hearing implants faster appeared first on Futurity.


Musk's Twitter Drama Isn't Over
Leo has found 1 Leadership Changes mention in this article
  • Elon Musk now claims that he will step down as Twitter's CEO, contingent on him finding the right replacement.

Elon Musk now claims that he will step down as 


's CEO, contingent on him finding the right replacement. In just eight weeks, Musk has laid off large chunks of the workforce, asked those who remained to commit to being "extremely hardcore," unbanned previously suspended accounts, caused advertisers to flee the platform, kicked a number of journalists off the platform and then reinstated them, and polled users about whether or not he should continue as CEO (a majority voted no).

David Karpf, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University and a longtime Twitter user, has been studying and thinking about the intersection of the internet and politics for years. When we spoke late last week, he predicted that the Musk drama would continue: "Every time he goes a couple days of getting a little worried that people are getting bored, he has to do something ridiculous."

When I briefly caught up with Karpf again yesterday, he was curious about how Musk would top the week's Twitter poll—but confident that he somehow would. "I just feel like I've reached the limits of my imagination for what that could be," he said.

Below, in our initial conversation, we discussed the future of the platform and Musk's leadership of it.

Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Caroline Mimbs Nyce: If Twitter becomes a parable of the modern internet, what do you think the moral takeaway will be? "Don't let billionaires buy up giant social-media websites"?  

David Karpf: There is a deeply baked ideology of the internet going back to the '90s, a sort of West Coast ideal that engineers and entrepreneurs, particularly around Silicon Valley, are the modern heroes of society. They are innovating and building a better world. They're the good guys. The bad guys are the old industries and the regulators who get in the way.

And these innovator-inventor heroes are the ones who are paving the way to a new and better world, because they're such incredible geniuses. But the hero has to overcome resistance, and what we should do is cheer for him because of his genius and his brilliance. And 10 years ago, Elon Musk was the archetype of that story. He was really treated as the guy who is going to kind of save the world, between his electric cars and his rockets.

There's a lot of problems with that story. But the most basic problem is that it's utter horseshit. And what I hope comes out of this episode is that this becomes a cautionary tale that these people aren't genius heroes. Turns out that Elon Musk is really bad at running Twitter, because he isn't that special.

[Read: Elon Musk's texts shatter the myth of the tech genius]

I hope that the cautionary tale of Twitter is to stop putting your faith in the mythology of the founder geniuses, because they ain't that special. That's not what's going to save the world.

Nyce: What do you think the future of Twitter is right now?

Karpf: One of the things to keep in mind is just how fast Twitter's devolution is happening. This is, what, maybe week seven of Elon owning Twitter?

I thought that one to three months in, very little would have changed. And then he went in and trashed the place immediately in a way that has seemed surprisingly sloppy.

If this had been spread out over the course of a year, then people would have had time to migrate to competitors and figure out what's what. And I still think that's going to happen. But right now, we're kind of in this moment of, like, My God, how has Twitter not fallen completely apart, both technically and also on the community level? I'm pretty sure this is actually what falling apart looks like; it's just happening so fast that people don't really have a place to migrate to.

Right now people are looking around, saying, "I guess I'll start with a Mastodon account?" Competitors need more time than they're being given, because nobody really expected him to set the place on fire as fast as he has.

Nyce: Do you think the void created by all these Twitter disruptions will be self-healing in the long term?

Karpf: In the short term, there's going to be a gap. In the long term, there's two ways to go, and I'm really not sure which way we end up.

I think it's certainly possible that everyone ends up on a thing that does everything that Twitter does for us, and that former Twitter users will all end up on the same one. It's not that there's some technical architecture that couldn't be reproduced. But it's pretty hard to resolve the coordination game. I've been on Twitter for 14 years. That's 14 years of both aggregating a set of people who follow me and also refining the set of people that I follow. It's been a really good curated news feed for me, because I've had so long to set it up. And even though you can port over who you follow to Mastodon, that only works if everybody's moving to the same place.

One Atlantic writer, Ian Bogost, has written about the other direction this could go in, that this is the end of the social-media age—and good riddance.

Nyce: Do you agree with that?

Karpf: I'm actually not sure. I've read that piece twice. I think he makes a lot of really good points. We may re-create the stuff that Twitter is good for, or it might be that we are witnessing the decline and the end of an era. I do think it's noteworthy that Twitter and Facebook are both on the decline, though not for anywhere near the same reasons. We've had a decade of stability, with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram basically doing things that they always do. TikTok has taken over some stuff, but TikTok is short-term video, which is a different thing from short written comments with links.

I don't think we should assume that we've reached the internet's final form. There could be a next thing. That, then, leaves me at a loss in terms of trying to figure out what that thing is.

Nyce: Do you think Elon has done anything right as Twitter CEO?

Karpf: I mean, basically, no. But there's one thing that he's done that he probably deserves a little defense on. I think even if he hadn't bought Twitter, a decent portion of the people working on Twitter would have gotten fired this year. A bunch of those layoffs would have happened just because 2022 is the year that companies like Twitter are realizing we're no longer in a "build tons of new things" moment. The way he's handled the layoffs is abominable and classless. But the fact of the layoffs is the one thing that I'd say, "Okay, it's gross, but a lot of those would have happened anyway."

Nyce: You're still on Twitter. What would it take for you to leave and stop using the platform entirely and never touch your account again?

Karpf: I mean, so I kind of assume that at some point, I'm going to get banned. Otherwise, I'm going to treat this like it's 2006. I was on Friendster until Friendster died. I was on Myspace until Myspace died. But I stopped using those accounts. I forgot the password to my Myspace account rather than shutting down my Myspace account.

[Tom Nichols: The childish drama of Elon Musk]

Nyce: It seems like that's kind of the story of the end of every social network, in a way. Not a big, dramatic "we're all going to turn it offone day, but a couple of early adopters get on a different network, that network proves its value, the other one stops serving its value, and you slowly forget your password.

Karpf: The scarce thing is our attention. So it's not who deletes their account; it's where they are spending their time. And right now I'm setting up accounts in other places but still spending my time mostly on Twitter. But I'm enjoying it less. And when something else scratches that itch and proves to be more enjoyable, that's where my attention minutes will go. And then I will just forget about Twitter.

Nyce: Is there anything else you think people should know about this story?

Karpf: I have tried personally to avoid the Elon-Trump comparisons, because I think those are a little glib. Donald Trump was an authoritarian who ran the government for four years, did harm, and is trying to run it again. Elon's an obnoxious billionaire. They're different. But the thing that stands out to me is throughout the Trump era, a thing that I was sure of as a professor of political communications was that if Donald Trump was out of the news cycle for two days, he was going to do something to make us focus on him again. It was exhausting, but it was also very predictable, because there's a rhythm to it: He required that attention. That was part of his strategy, part of his model.

And that is very true for Elon as well. Every time he goes a couple days of getting a little worried that people are getting bored, he has to do something ridiculous, and it ends up being more ridiculous than the last time. So that means this isn't the last one. He's going to end up topping this sometime next week.


Is this article about Cell?
Protein detection based on antigen–antibody reactions is vital in early diagnosis of a wide range of diseases. How to effectively detect proteins, however, has frequently bedeviled researchers. Osaka Metropolitan University scientists have discovered a new principle underlying light-induced acceleration of the antigen–antibody reaction, allowing for simple, ultrafast, and highly sensitive detection of proteins. Their findings were published in Communications Biology.

Molecular chirality refers to the geometrical property of molecules with broken mirror symmetry. Characterizing molecular chirality and understanding their roles in physiochemical situations has been important in broad research scope such as, biology, chemistry, and pharmaceutics.

Positrons are anti-particles of electrons. At SuperKEKB B-Factory (SuperKEKB), they are produced in copious amounts and smashed into electrons at world-record luminosity. By studying the hundreds of decay patterns of B mesons and anti B mesons in these collisions, physicists investigate the secrets of matter and antimatter imbalance and traces of other exotic particles beyond the standard model. To improve the collision rate, increasing the positron intensity is one of the key elements in this experiment.

Is this article about Cell?
Protein detection based on antigen–antibody reactions is vital in early diagnosis of a wide range of diseases. How to effectively detect proteins, however, has frequently bedeviled researchers. Osaka Metropolitan University scientists have discovered a new principle underlying light-induced acceleration of the antigen–antibody reaction, allowing for simple, ultrafast, and highly sensitive detection of proteins. Their findings were published in Communications Biology.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35529-2

Phase separation provides intracellular organisation via membraneless entities called biomolecular condensates. Here, the authors show that short, cationic peptide tags can drive biomolecular condensation of engineered proteins in E. coli through associative interactions with RNA.

The Brutal Alternate World in Which the U.S. Abandoned Ukraine
Is this article about Political Science?

On the shortest day of the year, after 10 months of war, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, finally left his country and came to Washington to thank Americans for their support. He went to the White House, where he appeared at a press conference. He went to Congress, where he handed a Ukrainian flag, signed by the defenders of Bakhmut, to the vice president and House speaker. He congratulated all of us on our first, joint American-Ukrainian victory: "We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world."

Nothing about this trip—not the applause, not the flag, not the speech—was inevitable. Zelensky's very survival was not inevitable. Ukraine's continued existence as a sovereign state was not inevitable either. Back in February, many considered these things to be improbable.

On the eve of the invasion, some American experts advised against offering military aid to Ukraine, on the grounds that the war was going to be over too quickly. Other Americans repeated Russian propaganda, questioning whether Ukraine deserved to exist or whether it deserved to be defended. Some American politicians echoed those views and indeed continue to do so. What if they had prevailed? What if a different president had been in the White House? What if a different president had been elected in Ukraine? Let's imagine, just for a moment, a world without Ukrainian courage, or American and European weapons, or the unity and support of democracies around the world.

Had the Russian plan been carried out as it was written, Kyiv would have been conquered in just a few days. Zelensky, his wife, and his children would have been murdered by one of the hit squads that roamed the capital city. The Ukrainian state would have been taken over by the collaborators who had already chosen their Kyiv apartments. Then, city by city, region by region, the Russian army would have fought the remnants of the Ukrainian army until it finally conquered the entire country. Originally, the Russian general staff imagined that this victory would require six weeks.

[From the December 2022 issue: The Russian Empire must die]

Had all of that happened as planned, Ukraine would now be pockmarked with the concentration campstorture chambers, and makeshift prisons that have been discovered in Bucha, Izyum, Kherson, and all the other territories temporarily occupied by Russia and liberated by the Ukrainian army. A generation of Ukrainian writers, artists, politicians, journalists, and civic leaders would already be buried in mass graves. Ukrainian books would have been removed from schools and libraries. The Ukrainian language would have been suppressed in all public spaces. Hundreds of thousands more Ukrainian children would have been kidnapped and transported to Russia or trafficked farther around the world.

Russian soldiers, strengthened by their stunning victory, would already be on the borders of Poland, setting up new command posts, digging new trenches. NATO would be in chaos; the entire alliance would be forced to spend billions to prepare for the inevitable invasion of Warsaw, Vilnius, or Berlin. Millions of Ukrainian refugees would be living in camps all across Europe, with no prospect of ever returning home; the tide of sympathy that originally greeted them would have ebbed long ago, the money would be running out, the backlash under way. The Moldovan economy would have collapsed entirely; a pro-Russian government in Moldova would perhaps already be planning to incorporate that country into the emerging Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian federation that one Russian propagandist hailed, too early, on February 26.

This disaster would not have been confined to Europe. On the other side of the world, Chinese plans to invade Taiwan would be well under way, because Beijing would assume that an America unwilling to defend a European ally, and now totally bogged down in a long-term battle against an emboldened Russia, would never go out of its way to help an island in the Pacific. The Iranian mullahs, equally cheered by Russia's success and Ukraine's defeat, would have boldly announced that they had finally acquired nuclear weapons. From Venezuela to Zimbabwe to Myanmar, dictatorships around the world would have tightened their regimes and stepped up the persecution of their opponents, now certain that the old rules—the conventions on human rights and genocide, the laws of war, the taboo against changing borders by force—no longer applied. From Washington to London, from Tokyo to Canberra, the democratic world would be grimly facing up to its obsolescence.

But none of this happened. Because Zelensky stayed in Kyiv, declaring that he needed "ammunition, not a ride"; because Ukrainian soldiers repulsed the first Russian attack on their capital; because Ukrainian society pulled together to support its army; because Ukrainians at all levels were creative in their use of limited resources; because Ukrainian civilians were, and are, willing to endure terrible hardship; because of all of that, we are not living in that ugly, alternate reality.    

Because they were inspired by those first weeks of Ukrainian courage, President Joe Biden and the U.S. Congress resisted the temptation of "America First" isolationism and rejected the cult of autocracy that now captivates a part of the American right. The leaders of Europe—with the sole exception of the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, one of the chief ideologues of that same cult—also resisted carefully targeted Russian disinformation and blackmail campaigns and agreed to support Ukraine with both military and humanitarian aid. People around the world saw the Ukrainians stand up to a brutal dictatorship, and volunteered their time and their money to help.  

Because of everything that all of us did together, Kyiv still stands. Ukrainians still control most of Ukraine. The massacres, the executions, the mass violence planned by the Russians did not take place in most of Ukraine. The legend of Russia's military prowess has been shatteredChina and Iran are roiled by unhappiness and unrest. The democratic world did not collapse but has instead been strengthened. As the Ukrainian president said last night, we "succeeded in uniting the global community to protect freedom and international law." Zelensky came to Washington to thank Americans on behalf of Ukraine, but in truth, it is we who should be thanking them.   


Men are less likely to seek careers in early education and some other fields traditionally associated with women because of male gender bias in those fields, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

By analyzing the data from NASA's Swift spacecraft and from the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) onboard the International Space Station, astronomers have investigated an active optical transient known as AT2021fxu. Results of the study, published December 14 on the arXiv preprint server, deliver important insights into the nature of this transient, revealing that it is a changing-look active galactic nucleus.

Textbooks are failing to cover climate change
stack of textbooks

College biology textbooks have done a poor job of incorporating material related to climate change, research finds.

For example, the study found that most textbooks published in the 2010s included less information about climate change than they did in the previous decade—despite significant advances in our understanding of how climate change is influencing ecosystems and the environment.

"In short, we found biology textbooks are failing to share adequate information about climate change, which is a generation-defining topic in the life sciences," says Jennifer Landin, corresponding author of the study and an associate professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University.

"These books are the baseline texts for helping students understand the science of life on Earth, yet they are providing very little information about a phenomenon that is having a profound impact on habitats, ecosystems, agriculture—almost every aspect of life on Earth."

For the study, researchers analyzed coverage of climate change in 57 college biology textbooks published between 1970 and 2019. The researchers found that climate coverage has varied substantially over those five decades.

Prior to 1990, textbooks had a median of fewer than 10 sentences addressing climate change. In the 1990s, the median length of climate content was 30 sentences. The median length of climate content rose to 52 sentences in the 2000s, which is not surprising given the amount of emerging research into climate change and its impacts. However, the researchers found that the amount of climate coverage in textbooks actually declined in the 2010s—dropping to a median of 45 sentences.

In addition to length, the nature of the content has also changed substantially over time. For example, sentences dedicated to actionable solutions to climate change peaked in the 1990s at more than 15% of the climate content. However, in more recent decades, actionable solutions make up only about 3% of the climate content.

"One of the most troubling findings was that textbooks are devoting substantially less space to addressing climate solutions now than they did in the 1990s—even as they focus more on the effects of climate change," Landin says. "That suggests to students that nothing can be done, which is both wildly misleading and contributes to a sense of fatalism regarding climate change."

In addition, the position of climate change sections keeps moving further back in the books, from the last 15% of the overall text in the 1970s to the last 2.5% of the text in the 2010s.

"This is important because most instructors present textbook content in order, which means topics at the end of the book are often skipped," Landin says.

"However, it's not all bad news," Landin adds. "Textbooks in the 2000s and 2010s began including a wider variety of climate-relevant information, such as how climate is affecting species distributions, which can help students understand the various impacts of climate change.

"However, we are hoping that this study will serve as a wake-up call for publishers and instructors. We need to do a much better job of incorporating climate change into our courses if we want to prepare students to understand the role that climate change is playing in shaping life on Earth and how we study it."

The paper appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: NC State

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Black patients have less access to safer heart surgeries
Is this article about Health?
A Black patient in a hospital bed has a wedding ring and IV on the same hand.

Black patients do not have the same level of access to new, safer heart surgery procedures as white patients, a new study suggests.

Traditional heart surgery, which involves fully opening the chest and cutting through the breastbone, comes with a high risk of complications and a long recovery time. Newer minimally invasive procedures avoid a lot of that risk and can get people back on their feet quicker.

"We've known for 35 years that historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups tend to have less access to cardiovascular procedures," says Laurent G. Glance, professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), and lead author of the study, published in JAMA Network Open.

"This study highlights the fact that even in 2022 if you're not white, you don't get the same therapies that white people do."

Less access to less invasive heart surgery

The study found that non-Hispanic Black patients had 35% lower odds of undergoing minimally invasive mitral valve surgery and 62% higher odds of having serious complications or dying compared to non-Hispanic white patients. Hispanic patients, on the other hand, had 26% higher odds of major complications or death compared to white patients, but they were not less likely to get minimally invasive surgery.

The findings were based on an analysis of data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Adult Cardiac Surgery Database and included nearly 104,000 patients across 1,085 hospitals who underwent mitral valve surgery between 2014 and 2019.

"Minimally invasive surgeries set patients up for the best outcomes," says coauthor Peter W. Knight, professor in cardiac surgery. "That is why the inequities we found in this study are so troubling."

The authors note several patterns in the data that may point to factors contributing to this inequity: Black patients were more likely to have Medicaid insurance, seek treatment at under-resourced hospitals, and be treated by less experienced surgeons. While these patterns require further investigation, they may offer solutions.

Hospitals remain segregated in practice

The American Heart Association has recognized the need to address uneven access to health insurance and quality medical care. The researchers argue that reducing these inequities will require increasing access to commercial insurance and lowering the age of eligibility or creating a buy-in model for Medicare.

"Reducing uninsurance is important, but a big chunk of healthcare reform has been Medicaid expansion," says Glance. "In theory, increasing the number of people who have insurance should increase access to these procedures, but in this study, we found that just getting people insurance wasn't enough. The type of insurance also mattered."

Where patients sought care also mattered. While hospitals have not been segregated by law for decades, they remain quite segregated in practice. This study found that Black patients had 31-fold higher odds of being treated at hospitals that serve a very high proportion of Black patients than they were to be treated at a hospital that serves a low proportion of Black patients.

Unfortunately, hospitals that primarily serve historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups tend to be under-resourced. To improve equity, Glance recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services create better financial incentives for caring for historically marginalized patients.

In particular, he recommends amending current CMS incentive programs that focus on improving the value of healthcare, which unintentionally impose financial penalties on hospitals that serve the greatest number of vulnerable patients.

Black patients were also more likely than white patients to be treated by doctors who perform a low volume of mitral valve surgeries. These less experienced surgeons were 20 times less likely to perform minimally invasive procedures than surgeons who perform a high volume of mitral valve surgeries.

Study authors believe that regionalizing care may help increase Black patients' access to highly experienced surgeons, especially for those who live in rural areas. In this model, high-risk patients are referred to regional centers where they receive expert, specialist care.

Source: University of Rochester

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Teen nicotine vaping is 'on its way to becoming endemic'
Is this article about Health?
A young woman in winter clothing vapes outside.

Nicotine vaping is one of the most common types of substance use for teenagers in 2022, according to results of a new national study.

Among 8th grade students, 7% vaped nicotine in the past 30 days in 2022, compared to 6% who used alcohol, and 5% who used cannabis. Among 10th graders, 14% vaped nicotine in the past 30 days, compared to 13.6% and 12% for alcohol and cannabis use, respectively.

Among 12th grade students, the past 30-day prevalence of nearly 21% for nicotine vaping was below alcohol use at 28% but similar to cannabis at 20%.

The results come from the Monitoring the Future study, conducted annually by a team of professors at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The study has surveyed nationally representative samples of adolescents in 8th and 10th grade since 1991 and 12th graders since 1975.

"Many people are not aware just how common nicotine vaping has become among teens," says Richard Miech, principal investigator of the study and research professor at the Institute for Social Research. "Its use increased rapidly in 2018 and 2019, and it has stuck around since then. What began as an epidemic of teen vaping is on its way to becoming endemic."

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, Miech says, and exposure in adolescence can affect brain development and prime it for future substance use. While vaping has the potential to help adults quit cigarette smoking, exposing the young brain to nicotine can cause lasting, physical addiction, he says.

Further, emerging evidence suggests that e-cigarettes may come with their own health risks, such as damage to blood vessels.

Additional findings from the 2022 Monitoring the Future study focus on adolescent drug use before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are reported on the NIDA website.

Source: University of Michigan

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The Download: space exploration, and why we're hooked on hybrid cars
Is this article about ESG?

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

What's next in space in 2023

We're going back to the moon—again—in 2023. Multiple uncrewed landings are planned for the next 12 months, spurred on by a renewed effort in the US to return humans to the lunar surface later this decade. Both private space companies and national agencies are set to make the 240,000-mile trek to our celestial neighbor, where they will test landing capabilities, look for usable water ice, and more.

That's not all 2023 has in store. We're also likely to see significant strides made in private human spaceflight, including the first-ever commercial spacewalk, compelling missions heading out into—or back from—other solar system destinations, and new rockets set to take flight. Here's what the next year has lined up for space. Read the full story.

—Jonathan O'Callaghan


Why EVs won't replace hybrid cars anytime soon

The end could be coming soon for cars as we know them. If we're going to limit global warming to 1.5 °C by 2050, as set out in the 2015 international Paris climate agreement, gas-powered vehicles will need to be largely off the road by then.

But while some carmakers including GM and Volvo have enthusiastically embraced an all-electric future, others are continuing to release hybrid vehicles. Toyota, the world's largest automaker, plans to keep selling hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles, declaring the US target of making EVs reach half of new car sales by 2030 a "tough ask."

Although sales of electric vehicles have grown quickly over the past few years, the problem lies in easing US consumers' fears around EV charging and range—the same concerns that have made them more receptive to plug-in hybrids. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart


The US Postal Service is finally getting EVs

The US Postal Service is finally going electric. The USPS announced this week that it plans to acquire at least 66,000 electric delivery vehicles between now and 2028, and all purchases after 2026 will be EVs. In total, the agency will invest nearly $10 billion to electrify its fleet. 

But it's been far from a smooth road, involving constant criticism, a strongly-worded letter from the Environmental Protection Agency, a presidential plea, and even a lawsuit from 16 states. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

Casey's story is from The Spark, her weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things climate and energy. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.


The must-reads

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

1 Sam Bankman-Fried's top associates have pleaded guilty to fraud
They've agreed to cooperate in his prosecution. (NYT $)
Here are some of the charges the US authorities have made against the pair. (Bloomberg $)
+ "Ethical crusader" Vikram Akula engaged in some similarly dodgy practices over a decade ago. (Wired $)

2 Elon Musk claims his cost-cutting has saved Twitter from bankruptcy
Others might argue it's only hastened the company's demise. (FT $) 
The obvious choice for new Twitter CEO is among the people he's laid off. (New Yorker $)

3 It's been a record-breaking year for the climate 
But major US legislation could pave the way to a brighter future. (New Yorker $)
Why biodiversity is a key measure of climate change's effects. (Economist $)
2023 is the year we'll see if business's climate commitments are genuine or greenwashing.  (Wired $)
These three charts show who is most to blame for climate change. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Gene therapy has restored 10 children's immune systems
The patients, who were born without working immune systems, might now be able to live normal lives. (New Scientist $)
This family raised millions to get experimental gene therapy for their children. (MIT Technology Review)

5 The race to share the James Webb Space Telescope's first pictures
NASA scientists had a strict deadline to meet, and no room for error. (Inverse)

6 Sextortion scammers in India are ruining victims' lives
This is a peek inside a growing, horrifying industry. (Rest of World)

7 Your days of sharing Netflix passwords are numbered
Netflix's crackdown on account sharing is unlikely to be popular. (WSJ $)
Sharing passwords is against the law in the UK, its government says. (BBC)

8 How meme stocks stopped being funny
Turns out that investing based on vibes and jokes doesn't always pay off. (Vox)

9 Grandmas on TikTok are charming younger generations 
It's striking a particular chord among those seeking homely, elder wisdom in the run up to Christmas. (The Atlantic $)
Why those "day in my life" videos are so addictive. (Vox)

10 We're obsessed with trying to age more healthily
But promising drugs are at a risk of becoming overhyped. (Knowable Magazine)
How scientists want to make you young again. (MIT Technology Review)


Quote of the day

"He's banjaxed the revenue by being a dick."

—Bruce Daisley, Twitter's former European vice-president, criticizes Elon Musk's unorthodox management style and its effects on the company's finances to inews.


The big story

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

June 2022

Around a year and a half ago, Yann LeCun realized he had it wrong. 

LeCun, who is chief scientist at Meta's AI lab and a professor at New York University, is one of the most influential AI researchers in the world. He had been trying to give machines a basic grasp of how the world works—a kind of common sense—by training neural networks to predict what was going to happen next in video clips of everyday events. But guessing future frames of a video pixel by pixel was just too complex. He hit a wall.

Now, after months figuring out what was missing, he has a bold new vision for the next generation of AI, which he thinks will one day give machines the common sense they need to navigate the world. But his vision is far from comprehensive; indeed, it may raise more questions than it answers. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä & Will Douglas Heaven


We can still have nice things

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

+ It takes real grit to don the cape of a D&D Dungeon Master.
+ Terry knows that napping with cats is one of life's greatest pleasures.
+ How Gary Larson became an early meme pioneer.
+ I'll never remember all these creative present wrapping tips
+ This fascinating Tree of Life explorer gives you a sneak peek at the links between all known living things.


To track drug resistance, test wastewater over 24 hours
Is this article about Pharma?
colorful pipes

A new study shows that composite samples taken over 24 hours at an urban wastewater plant give a much more accurate representation of the level of antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) in the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance is a global health threat responsible for millions of deaths worldwide.

In the process, the researchers discovered that while secondary wastewater treatment significantly reduces the amount of target ARG, chlorine disinfectants often used in later stages of treatment can, in some situations, have a negative impact on water released back into the environment.

The lab of Lauren Stadler at Rice University's George R. Brown School of Engineering reported seeing levels of antibiotic-resistant RNA concentrations 10 times higher in composite samples than what they see in "grabs," snapshots collected when flow through a wastewater plant is at a minimum.

Stadler and lead authors Esther Lou and Priyanka Ali, both graduate students in her lab, report their results in the journal Environmental Science & Technology: Water.

The results could lead to better protocols for treating wastewater to lower the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant genes in bacteria that propagate at plants and can transfer those genes to other organisms in the environment.

The issue is critical because antibiotic resistance is a killer, causing an estimated 2.8 million infections in the United States every year, leading to more than 35,000 deaths, says Stadler, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and a pioneer in the ongoing analysis of wastewater for signs of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19.

The takeaway for testers is that snapshots can lead to unintended biases in their results, Stadler says.

"I think it's intuitive that grabbing a single sample of wastewater is not representative of what flows across the entire day," says Stadler, who is also a faculty member of Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) Center based at Rice.

"Wastewater flows and loads vary across the day, due to patterns of water use. While we know this to be true, no one had shown the degree to which antibiotic-resistant genes vary throughout the day."

For the study, the team took both grab and composite samples in two 24-hour campaigns, one during the summer and another during winter, at a Houston-area plant that routinely disinfects wastewater.

They took samples every two hours from various stages of the wastewater treatment process and ran PCR tests in the lab to quantify several clinically relevant genes that confer resistance to fluoroquinolone, carbapenem, ESBL and colistin, as well as a class 1 integron-integrase gene known as a mobile genetic element (MGE) for its ability to move within a genome or transfer from one species to another.

The samples they collected allowed them to determine the concentration of ARGs and loads across a typical weekday, the variability in removal rates at plants based on the grab samples and the impact of secondary treatment and chlorine disinfection on the removal of ARGs, as well as the ability to compare grabs and composites.

The team found that the vast majority of ARG removal occurred due to biological processes as opposed to chemical disinfection. In fact, they observed that chlorination, used as the final disinfectant before the treated wastewater is discharged into the environment, may have selected for antibiotic-resistant organisms.

Because the results from snapshots can vary significantly during any given day, they had to be collected at a steady pace over 24 hours. That required Lou and Ali to spend several long shifts at the City of West University Place wastewater treatment plant. "They camped out," Stadler says. "They set up their cots and ordered takeout."

Such commitment will not be necessary if real-time wastewater monitoring becomes a reality. Stadler is part of a Rice collaboration developing living bacterial sensors that would detect the presence of ARGs and pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, without pause at different locations within a wastewater system. The project underway at Rice to build bacterial sensors that emit an immediate electrical signal upon sensing a target was the subject of a study in Nature in November.

"Living sensors can enable continuous monitoring as opposed to relying on expensive equipment to collect composite samples that need to be brought back to the lab to analyze," she says. "I think the future is these living sensors that can be placed anywhere in the wastewater system and report on what they see in real time. We're working towards that."

The National Science Foundation and a Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D award supported the research.

Source: Rice University

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Can Misinformation Cause Cancer?


What are the known factors that increase the risk of getting 


? Most people know about smoking, but can probably only guess at other factors, and are likely to endorse things that do not contribute to cancer risk. The known contributors to cancer risk include: smoking, consuming alcohol, low levels of physical activity, getting sunburnt as a child, family history of cancer, HPV infection, and being overweight. But there are also a number of "mythic" causes that do not contribute to cancer risk but are widely believed to: artificial sweeteners or additives and genetically modified food; using microwave ovens, aerosol containers, mobile phones, and cleaning products; living near power lines and feeling stressed.

These are all lifestyle factors that people can influence by changing their behavior. Therefore there is a direct utility to informing the public about the true causes of cancer and identifying the factors that they should not worry about. I see the effects of misinformation and poor communication on a regular basis. Often my patients will express to me that they are highly motivated to get healthier by changing their lifestyle, and then they rattle off a list of things they are doing, most of which are useless or counterproductive. Forget all that – just stop smoking and let's talk about a healthy and practical exercise routine for you.

A recent study seeks to shed light on why there is so much misinformation about the modifiable causes of cancer. This is a complex question, and any one study is only going to look at a tiny slice of potential contributing factors. Also, this is the type of question that is hard to look at in a controlled experiment, so we will have to make due with observational data that can have a lot of confounding factors. The authors did a survey of several English and Spanish language forums, assessing knowledge of true and mythic causes of cancer, and correlating them with belief in conspiracies, preference for alternative medicine, and lack of COVID-19 vaccination. The results are pretty much what you would expect, but let's dive into some details.

The authors report:

Awareness of the actual causes of cancer was greater (median CAM score 63.6%) than that of mythical causes (41.7%). The most endorsed mythical causes of cancer were eating food containing additives or sweeteners, feeling stressed, and eating genetically modified food. Awareness of the actual and mythical causes of cancer among the unvaccinated, alternative medicine, and conspiracy groups was lower than among their counterparts.

It's good that more people endorsed true rather than mythic causes of cancer, but the difference is not as large as we would hope. Also, this difference is mostly driven by endorsement of smoking as a major cause of cancer (endorsed by 97.4% of respondents), which is not surprising. Take this factor out and the results are much closer together. If you look just at diet factors, the results are flipped:

By contrast, less than 25% (n=369) of the participants correctly identified low intake of fruits and vegetables as a cause of cancer. The most endorsed mythical causes of cancer were eating food containing additives (63.9%; n=954) or sweeteners (50.7%; n=758), feeling stressed (59.7%; n=892), and eating genetically modified foods (38.4%; n=573)

Significantly more people believed that artificial sweeteners or GMOs cause cancer (false) than people who believed that low intake of fruits and vegetables causes cancer (true). (As an aside, the literature will often use the word "cause" as convenient shorthand to mean that it increases the statistical risk, but it seems that people generally understand that.) These results fit with my anecdotal experience -when patients discuss eating healthy they generally get the actual healthy factors wrong.

The researchers also found that awareness of true factors contributing to cancer were lower among those who endorse alternative medicine or conspiracy theories or reject vaccines. Endorsement of true factors were 63% vs 54% respectively. The chart above shows endorsement of true and mythic factors by belief, and you can see that almost universally endorsement of mythic factors is higher among conspiracy theorists, altnermative medicine proponents, and the unvaccinated. Also the researchers found that those who possessed a risk factor (such as smoking or using alcohol) were less likely to endorse it as a risk factor.

Again, it is difficult to infer cause and effect from this data, only correlation.  The results are not surprising, however, as those who endorse pseudoscience are more likely to swim in an information ecosystem that will be full of medical misinformation. This may be particularly true of many of the factors examined, because they are often the target of misinformation aimed at promoting a specific dubious products or philosophies. Real information is competing with the misinformation in the information marketplace, and in many respects is losing, especially when it comes to diet.

The post Can Misinformation Cause Cancer? first appeared on NeuroLogica Blog.


The Bittersweet Defeat of Mpox
The epidemic has largely subsided, but largely because queer men seem to have learned more from AIDS and Covid-19 than the authorities did.

Umami gives plant-based menu a Christmas taste
Is this article about Agriculture?
hands hold plate of food, including beets and sprouts

Boosting the umami is key to pulling off a delicious and plant-based Christmas dinner, says a food engineer.

Food scientist Charlotte Vinther Schmidt, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen in the food science department, focuses on exploiting the umami taste potential of sustainable foods.

Schmidt says it's key for dishes to have enough of the fifth basic taste: umami.

Umami is one of the five basic tastes, alongside sweet, sour, salty, bitter. The umami taste comes from the free amino acid glutamate and certain free nucleotides. Foods like cheese, mushrooms, meat, and sun-ripened tomatoes are high in umami.

"Meat is known for its powerful umami taste. If you plan on doing away with meat in your Christmas dinner, you can boost the umami taste of the plant-based ingredients by umami synergy, and in doing so, bring umami taste to food items that don't normally taste of umami," says Schmidt.

"You can achieve the umami synergy effect by combining foods with glutamate with foods that have a high content of specific other substances called nucleotides. While nucleotides don't give off umami taste per se, they boost the umami taste greatly when combined with glutamate in the same mouthful. A general rule of thumb is that 1-part glutamate + 1-part nucleotides gives an umami taste intensity equivalent to 8 parts glutamate."

We are familiar with this effect from famed pairings like champagne and oysters, ham and cheese, and bacon and eggs.

To keep the flavors seasonal, Schmidt suggests using traditional yuletide ingredients that aren't animal based, like red cabbage, cranberries, and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.

"Overall, one should think about what makes a classic Christmas dinner taste so good; for example, what basic tastes are present, what textures, what aromas? By dividing the meal into subcomponents like this, you can recreate it in another meal using completely different ingredients. Doing so will deliver the same food properties and stimulate the same senses, and secure the overall deliciousness and satisfaction of the meal," she says.

Schmidt has put together a plant-based Christmas dinner based on the principles above. The meal includes:

Sweet and umami miso potatoes: Baked layered yellow and sweet potatoes in light miso, yeast flakes, cloves, and allspice.

"The first component on the plate is a reimagined, 'umamified' version of caramelized potatoes. The umami synergy occurs when the glutamate-rich miso interacts with the touch of glutamate in potatoes and yeast flakes, the latter which contain both glutamate and nucleotides. The spices help to evoke classic Christmas aromas," says Schmidt.

Whole shallots and sliced beets: The vegetables are simmered in the extract from vegetables and red wine.

"The unique thing about the onions is that when cooking their extract contains a number of so-called kokumi peptides, which give mouthfeel and continuity which is enhanced by umami taste from the fried oyster mushrooms which contain both glutamate and nucleotides and are very umami in taste. together with the onions which caramelize and become sweeter—they giving rise to our two basic taste cravings, sweetness and umami," she says.

Fried oyster mushrooms: They're prepared with caramelized onions and beets in red wine.

Frying mushrooms, such as oyster mushrooms, at high dry heat will develop what's called the Maillard aromas, which can further improve perceived umami taste. These aromatic substances are triggered in a chemical reaction between free amino acids and sugars when food is browned, an aroma that we know from freshly baked bread or seared meat.

Fresh Christmas salad: Finely sliced cabbage, endive, chopped apples, and fresh sunflower shoots served with a dressing with clementine juice, light miso, and walnut oil, topped with roasted walnuts and cranberries.

The entire dinner takes between 60-90 minutes to prepare. Recipes are available here.

Schmidt communicates the science behind umami and palatability, among other things on and @umamipairing on Instagram.

Source: University of Copenhagen

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Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35585-8

The authors present single-pixel imaging accelerated via swept aggregate patterns (SPI-ASAP), which combines a digital micromirror device with laser scanning for fast and reconfigurable pattern projection, and a lightweight reconstruction algorithm. They demonstrate real-time video streaming at 100 fps, and up to 12,000 fps offline.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35564-z

Longitudinal proteomics holds great promise for biomarker discovery, but the data interpretation has remained a challenge. Here, the authors evaluate several tools to detect longitudinal differential expression in proteomics data and introduce RolDE, a robust reproducibility optimization approach.

Why EVs won't replace hybrid cars anytime soon
Leo has found 2 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article

The end could be coming soon for cars as we know them.

To limit global warming to 1.5 °C, the 2015 international Paris climate agreement set 2050 as a worldwide deadline to reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions. That means gas-powered vehicles will need to be largely off the road by then. And since cars typically have a lifetime of 15 to 20 years, reaching net zero in 2050 would likely mean no new production of gas-powered cars after about 2035.

Several major car companies, including GM and Volvo, have announced plans to produce only electric cars by or before 2035, in anticipation of the transition. But not all automakers are on the same page.

Notably, Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has emphasized that it plans to offer a range of options, including hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles, instead of focusing exclusively on 

electric vehicles

. A Toyota spokesperson told MIT Technology Review that the company is focused on how to reduce carbon emissions most quickly, rather than how many vehicles of a certain type it can sell. 

The company has continued releasing new hybrid vehicles, including plug-in hybrids that can drive short distances on electricity using a small battery. In November, Toyota announced the 2023 edition of its Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid. 

Some environmental groups have criticized the company's slow approach to EVs. To get to zero emissions, they argue, we will need all-electric vehicles, and the sooner the better. 

But in recent interviews, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has raised doubts about just how fast the auto industry can pull a U-turn on fossil fuels, calling the US target of making EVs reach half of new car sales by 2030 a "tough ask." While Toyota plans for EV sales to reach 3.5 million by 2030 (or 35% of its current annual sales), the company also sees hybrids as an affordable option customers will want, and one that can play a key role in cutting emissions. 

A tale of two hybrids

Two different categories of vehicles are referred to as hybrids. Conventional hybrid electric vehicles have a small battery that helps the gas-powered engine by recapturing energy during driving, like the energy that would otherwise be lost during braking. They cannot drive more than a couple of miles on battery power, and slowly at that. Rather, the battery helps boost gas mileage and can provide extra torque. The original Toyota Prius models are among the most familiar traditional hybrid vehicles.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles, on the other hand, have a battery about 10 times larger than the one in a traditional hybrid, and that battery can be plugged in and charged using electricity. Plug-in hybrids can typically run 25 to 50 miles on electricity, switching over to their gasoline engine for longer distances. The Prius Prime, introduced in 2012, is a plug-in hybrid.

Conventional hybrids are far more common in the US than either all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, though sales of electric vehicles have grown quickly over the past several years. 

Hybrid vehicles are a straightforward story when it comes to climate effects: switching from a fully gas-powered vehicle to a hybrid version of the same model will mean reducing emissions about 20% while driving. 

Plug-in hybrids and EVs can be responsible for more significant emissions cuts, though figuring out exactly how much they're helping the climate can be an involved exercise. The answer largely depends on driving and charging habits, says Georg Bieker, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). 

Not surprisingly, electric vehicles produce less in lifetime carbon emissions than their gas-powered counterparts. A significant fraction of an EV's emissions are attributable to manufacturing, especially the production of their batteries. Total emissions from EVs also depend on the sources of electricity used to charge their batteries.

EVs in the US correspond to between 60% and 68% lower lifetime emissions than gas-powered vehicles. In Europe, savings are higher, between 66% and 69%. In China, where the grid is powered by a higher fraction of highly polluting coal power, cuts are lower, between 37% and 45%. 

The gap between EVs and gas-powered vehicles is only expected to grow as the grid comes to be powered more by renewables and less by fossil fuels like coal. For example, EVs that hit the road in China in 2030 could produce 64% less in lifetime emissions than a gas car, compared with a maximum saving of 45% today.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles can offer significant emissions savings too: as much as 46% (compared with gas-powered vehicles) in the US. 

The difference between the US and other markets in the climate impact of plug-in hybrids, Bieker says, largely comes down to driving habits. Gas-powered vehicles in the US have higher fuel consumption, so there's a bigger impact from switching to electricity. 

Driving and charging habits are at the heart of the debate over plug-in hybrids: the vehicles' climate effects, depending on how they're used. In ideal cases, the vehicles can use electricity for most of their mileage. Most new plug-in hybrids today have a range of between 30 and 50 miles on electricity, which is enough for many people's daily commuting needs, says David Gohlke, an energy and environment analyst at Argonne National Laboratory. 

"I'm not necessarily a representative example of how someone uses the vehicle, but my plug-in hybrid is an electric vehicle for nine months of the year," Gohlke says. He plugs in his vehicle every day when he gets home, which usually provides enough power to get him to and from work. Cold weather can limit the range, so he tends to use more gasoline in the winter, he adds. 

Drivers of plug-in hybrids can vary widely in their habits, however. "There's a large gap between what is assumed in regulation and what the real performance looks like," says Zifei Yang, head of light-duty vehicles at the ICCT. While some official EU estimates assume that drivers use electricity about 70 to 85% of the time, self-reported data show that the share for personal cars is closer to 45 to 50%. Drivers in the US have similar charging habits

The road forward

In the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act in the US, new tax credits apply to both plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, provided they meet requirements on price and domestic manufacturing. 

But in other major markets, policy pushes are favoring electric vehicles over plug-ins. Some European nations, like Germany, are beginning to phase out subsidies for plug-in hybrids. In China, subsidies for plug-in vehicles are lower than those for electric vehicles, and they require a minimum electric range of around 50 miles, Yang says.

The various policies reflect differences in consumer attitudes: in particular, many Americans are still reluctant to buy EVs. 

Lack of access to charging, as well as concerns about range, are among the leading reasons US consumers say they wouldn't consider an electric vehicle, says Mark Singer, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Those concerns have made some consumers more receptive to plug-in hybrids than they are to electric vehicles, he adds.

In the US, there are just over 6,000 fast charging stations, and about 50,000 total locations that house EV chargers, as of the end of 2021. By comparison, there are about 150,000 fuel stations for gas-powered cars. Charging access is still a concern for many drivers, especially along interstate highways, where only 6% of EV charging stations are located. 

Today, a driver could easily go hundreds of miles between fast charging stations, especially in rural parts of the country. But the picture is changing quickly: the total number of charging stations has doubled in just the last few years in the US, and new federal funding will continue to support the network's growth.

The transition from internal-combustion engines is well underway. EV sales continue to grow: they hit 10% of global sales in 2022. The picture isn't the same everywhere, though: China saw nearly double the global average, at 19%, and the US lags behind at 5.5%. 

The EU recently banned new sales of gas-powered cars, including plug-in hybrids and anything else that can burn fossil fuels, starting in 2035. California and New York enacted similar bans that also take effect in 2035, though sales of some plug-in hybrids will still be allowed there. 

Transportation's decarbonization won't look the same everywhere. How plug-in hybrids fit in with this transition remains to be seen, especially in the near term, and especially in markets that haven't yet passed strict regulations around future vehicle sales. 

Even if the relatively modest emissions cuts that hybrids contribute don't align with aspirational climate goals, people may still turn to those cars, at least for the near future. Toyota, for one, is betting that plug-in hybrids, along with conventional hybrid models, will find acceptance among consumers. And it's hard to argue that the world's largest automaker doesn't know how to sell cars. 


The Year the NFT Died and Came Back to Life
The market for non-fungible tokens took a nosedive this year. Now, die-hard evangelists think the key to success is finding different ways to use them.

Here Comes a Bomb Cyclone to Ruin Christmas
Is this article about Weather?
The storm's scale and severity is unprecedented. Almost everyone in America, and a fair few in Canada, will feel its force.

Stop Listening to Sleep Experts
There are no rules for achieving perfect slumber. In 2023, people should start paying attention to their own bodies.

The Four-Day Work-Week Is (Almost) Here
The three-day weekend may soon be a reality—but only if policymakers can think of proper countermeasures against voltage drops.

Vertical Farming Has Found Its Fatal Flaw
Leo has found 1 Funding Events mention in this article
  • It was the latest opening for Infarm, a European vertical farming company that had raised over $600 million in venture capital funding, promising a future where vegetables are grown in high-tech warehouses stacked with LED lights rather than in open fields or greenhouses.
Europe's energy crisis is forcing companies to switch strategies or close down. The industry's future hangs in the balance.

How to Make the Most of Bad Gifts
Is this article about Parenting?
A smiley face

"How to Build a Lifeis a column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.

Around the holidays, you can bet on seeing a car commercial in which a self-assured-looking husband takes his blindfolded wife out to the driveway, where she finds a brand-new luxury car with a massive bow on it. He takes off the blindfold; she screams in delight and throws her arms around his neck. He beams with satisfaction.

"Yeah, right," my wife scoffed the first time she saw such an ad after moving to the U.S. Then, turning to me, she said, "Please never do something like that." I understood what she meant. The idea of one spouse deciding on an expensive car for the other seems imprudent at best (isn't this something she should pick out herself?) and controlling at worst (doesn't she have a say in a decision like this?).

This is an egregious example, but the truth is, most presents are lousy: value-destroying, manipulative, guilt-provoking, or just plain useless to the person who receives them. But unless your family has opted for a no-gift Christmas this year, you're probably stuck with the tradition. Instead of fake-smiling through ugly photo frames and novelty coffee mugs, you can instead learn to understand the psychodynamics at work so you can enjoy gifts that aren't great, refuse them when appropriate, and even make receiving them into an act of giving itself.

A good gift is one that is more valuable for the recipient than it is for the giver. But most gifts destroy value rather than create it. Think of the Christmas-tree-shaped cookie jar that cost your aunt $30 but is worth considerably less than zero to you, posing a moral conundrum: Do you throw it right into the trash or wait a couple of months? The economist Joel Waldfogel calls this discrepancy the "deadweight loss" of gifts, and estimates that, on average, it is from 10 percent to a third of a gift's price.

One explanation for the deadweight loss is a mismatch between desirability and feasibility. Consider a gadget that is useful (high desirability) but difficult to set up and time-consuming to use (low feasibility). Scholars have found that givers usually focus on desirability, and receivers are more aware of feasibility. Your friend who bought you a fancy wearable fitness tracker probably thought it was a really cool and helpful gift; to you, it seems like a massive headache to figure out, requires an app download and a monthly fee, and offers data that will either make you feel terrible about yourself or turn into a life-ruining obsession. That's why it is still sitting in your drawer in its original package.

Another happiness-killing mismatch can occur between the receiver's initial reaction and their long-term satisfaction. As Anna Goldfarb noted in The Atlantic a few weeks ago, givers tend to look for "reaction-maximizing gifts" (such as the wife's over-the-top response to the car) as opposed to "satisfaction-maximizing gifts." Once the giver is not present to see the receiver's reaction, the receiver might not actually be that excited about socks with her best friend's face on them.

[Read: Gift-giving is about the buyer, not the receiver]

Someone looking for a big reaction might be tempted to buy a wildly expensive gift, which poses its own emotional problems. In the worst cases, they may even be trying to exert dominance over you, or manipulate you into doing them a favor later. Either way, receiving a gift that's too nice might make you feel guilty. According to one 2019 survey from CompareCards, a LendingTree subsidiary, 46 percent of respondents felt guilty for being unable to give a gift worth as much as the one they received.

In truth, the biggest benefit to most gift giving is to the giver herself. Generosity is truly a way to buy happiness. As my colleague Michael Norton and his co-authors showed in the journal Science in 2008, although spending money on oneself is weakly related to happiness, spending money on others significantly raises the giver's well-being. Neuroscientists have shown that charitable giving to others engages the mesolimbic reward system, inducing pleasure in one of the same ways that alcohol and certain drugs do. (Maybe this is the real reason Santa is so jolly.)

[Read: How to buy happiness]

The logical conclusion from all this research is that the way to find happiness during the holidays is to drop gifts onto your loved ones' porches, ring the doorbell, and hide in the bushes so they can't reciprocate. If that seems a bit impractical, here are a few things to try instead.

1. Lower your expectations.

If you are hoping to find a surprise that delights you under the Christmas tree, you will probably be disappointed. Finding a gift that doesn't destroy value, gives you satisfaction, and doesn't stimulate guilt is a lot to ask of your friends and family. Go into the holidays assuming that the gifts won't be that great, because they probably won't be. Think of present exchanges as simply a fun pastime, not one where you will get something wonderful.

2. Say no to guilt and manipulation.

If you feel that someone is operating on you with a gift that is unexpected or inappropriately generous, you should feel free to exercise the option of refusing it. Be honest: Say, "I couldn't possibly accept this; it wouldn't feel right." If you do want to keep it, commit to acting like the gift really is a gift and not a transaction. Show appropriate gratitude as good manners dictate, but resist the temptation to feel guilty or indebted to the giver.

[Read: The joy of no-gift Christmas]

3. Turn receiving into giving.

Your reaction to a gift—even one that isn't great—is your choice, and you can choose to make it into a gift to the giver. You don't have to lie and tell your aunt that the Christmas-tree cookie jar is just your style, but you can definitely find reasons to like it. Maybe it's whimsical, or it makes you laugh, or you know she put a lot of thought into it. Tell her so, lavishly, with genuine gratitude. You will both get the mesolimbic buzz.

Not long ago, I witnessed this principle in action. A friend of mine had expressed interest in some articles I had written in The Atlantic. So for a gift, I bound up a collection of them into a book and sent it to her—presumptuous of me, to be sure, and easy to imagine a deadweight loss if she thought that links to the internet would have been more convenient. Her response was virtuoso-level gift receiving: She left me a long voice message describing how she liked the paper, the cover, and the artwork, and how much she appreciated the work that went into making it. Her reaction was a gift to me.

[Read: An alternative to overspending on presents]

This essay has been focused on being a good gift getter in an ambiguous social environment. But you can use the information here to be a better gift giver as well. Make clear to all your recipients that your gifts don't come with any expectation of getting things in return. Do your best to avoid destroying value. Go for feasibility over desirability, and satisfaction over reaction.

And no matter what, don't do that car thing.


Asus Breaks World Record by Overclocking Core i9-13900K to 9GHz
Is this article about Semiconductors?

Before Intel's new Raptor Lake chips launched, we were impressed that someone could get a Core i9-13900K up to 6.2GHz with a liquid chiller. Now that level of performance has been shattered by the overclocking team at Asus. The team has successfully taken a 13900K over 9GHz, breaking the world record for CPU clock speeds. This is the first time a CPU has been able to break the 9GHz barrier. The same team had previously pushed the same chip to 8.81GHz in October, breaking AMD's grip on the title. It had held it for over eight years thanks to an 8.7GHz overclock on an AMD FX-8370 back in 2014.

The key to the team's success this time was that it used liquid helium instead of liquid nitrogen. Apparently, helium can get a lot colder than LN2, but it evaporates almost instantly so it's trickier to use. In order to hit 9GHz, the team had to lower the CPU socket temp to -250C. A blowtorch was used around the mainboard to keep its temperature up and prevent condensation during the run. The team's platform was an Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Apex, which sells for around $800. Asus announced the record-breaking run on Twitter, and posted the video below as well.

There's some confusion about the exact chip used for the run. Although it's clearly labeled as a Core i9-13900K in CPU-Z, Intel also posted a video that shows a Core i9-13900KS chip. Intel has yet to announce the 13900KS, which is a binned 13900K that can boost a single core to 6GHz. That's 200MHz higher than the existing 13900KS. This seems to imply it's a binned chip that Intel had preselected to become a 13900KS at some point due to its overclocking capabilities. This is a so-called "golden sample" CPU. Intel is apparently giving these chips to overclockers now, hence this world record run.


Did Intel not notice this in its video, or is it a leak on purpose? (Image: Intel/YouTube)

The overclockers responsible for the feat are named Elmor, who is part of the Asus overclocking team, and a person named Skatterbencher. Videocardz also says the Z790 Apex they used was upgraded with improved signaling and VRMs for the attempt. The CPU frequency has already been recorded in HWbot, making it the official new world record.

As always with these things, this frequency was achieved on a single core, not all cores. The 13900K has eight performance and 16 efficiency cores. The efficiency cores were disabled during the overclocking experiment. Asus claims its Z790 Apex has achieved 14 world records thus far, seemingly justifying its exorbitant pricing.

Now Read:



Scientific Reports, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26542-y

Author Correction: Application of 5-aminolevulinic acid-mediated Waterlase-assisted photodynamic therapy in the treatment of 
oral leukoplakia

The US Postal Service is finally getting EVs
Leo has found 2 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article
Leo has found 1 Funding Events mention in this article
  • The company raised $6.6 million from Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures and other investors.

This article is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review's weekly climate newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here.


US Postal Service

 is finally going electric. The USPS announced Tuesday that it plans to acquire at least 66,000 electric delivery vehicles between now and 2028, and all purchases after 2026 will be 


. In total, the agency will invest nearly $10 billion to electrify its fleet.  

It's been a long road to get here, folks. Constant criticisma strongly-worded letter from the Environmental Protection Agencya presidential plea, and a lawsuit from 16 states is all it took for the agency to commit to quit purchasing new gas-powered delivery vehicles. 

Let's take a look inside the USPS's plan to switch to EVs and review what it took to get here. And as an end-of-year treat, I've also rounded up some of my favorite Tech Review climate coverage from the year. Let's get into it. 

The obvious choice

As of 2020, transportation was the single biggest driver of climate change in the US, accounting for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. And the US federal government operates the largest fleet in the world at 650,000 vehicles, with the USPS making up about one-third of that. 

Joe Biden has made the federal fleet one of the targets of his plans for EVs, setting a goal for all new federal vehicles purchased after 2035 to be electric, with light-duty vehicles hitting that target by 2027. 

But the USPS has been marching to a different drummer. Even as the Biden administration touted plans to electrify and cut emissions, the USPS seemed to dig in its heels on plans to purchase more fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Last year, when the agency first announced a contract to replace trucks, only 10% were going to be EVs. 

Mail trucks needed an upgrade, and badly. Many on the road today are nearly 30 years old. Replacing them with electric ones is an obvious move.

In addition to cutting lifetime emissions by half or more, EVs are in many cases cheaper over their lifetime than gas-powered vehicles today. They're easier to maintain, too. And while some applications, like long-distance trucking, can pose difficulties for battery-powered vehicles, mail delivery is the perfect setup for EVs, with trucks returning to a central location where they can be charged overnight. 

Finally, the agency saw the light. But it took a while. Let's take a look back at this saga, starting from the beginning. 

  • January 2021: US President Joe Biden signs an executive order calling for plans to electrify the federal vehicle fleet.
  • February 2021: USPS awards a contract to Oshkosh Defense to make "Next Generation Delivery Vehicles." USPS head Louis DeJoy reveals in Congressional testimony that just 10% of the vehicles would be EVs, citing high costs. 
  • March 2021: Criticism of the USPS and its plan starts. In following months, lawmakers discuss getting additional funding to the agency to help it electrify. 
  • October 2021: Biden proposes a $1.75 trillion spending package that includes $6 billion in funding to help the USPS purchase EVs. Talks stall on the funding.
  • February 2022: Following another executive order on electrifying the federal fleet, EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality both send letters to the USPS, urging it to reconsider plans and incorporate more EVs into its future fleet. 
  • March 2022: The USPS places its first order for new delivery vehicles. Of the 50,000 vehicles, the agency says more than 20% will be electric, beating the earlier mark of 10%.
  • April 2022: California Attorney General Rob Bonta files a lawsuit against the USPS, arguing that the Postal Service vehicles pollute the air in communities where they operate. In total, 15 other states, and a few major cities, back the suit. 
  • July 2022: The USPS again revises its plans. Of the 50,000 vehicles from Oshkosh Defense, at least 50% will be electric. Including plans to purchase other new vehicles, the agency "anticipates" that at least 40% of the total new vehicles will be electric. 
  • August 2022: The Inflation Reduction Act passes and is signed into law, setting aside $3 billion for the USPS to purchase zero-emissions vehicles and build charging infrastructure. 
  • December 2022: The USPS releases a statement saying that of the 60,000 vehicles in the contract, at least 45,000 will be electric, including all deliveries after 2026. EVs triumph.

In the interest of you finishing this newsletter before the new year, that's not a comprehensive timeline, but it gives you an idea of how long a journey this has been. What a saga! 

A caveat: this commitment is only for new vehicle purchases. Gas guzzlers purchased in the next few years could stay on the road for years to come, so don't expect a fully zero-emissions fleet anytime soon.

Regardless, as the year winds to a close, I think we can count the USPS going electric as a win for climate action and mail delivery alike. 

A look back at 2022

This has been quite the year, both for Tech Review's climate coverage and for the climate world in general. So let's take a quick look back at some highlights from the year. 

Innovation is alive and well. We put together a list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies every year, and it's always one of my favorite things to work on. Released in February, our 2022 TR10 list included three (!) climate items. 

Our 2023 list is coming out very soon…any guesses on what we included?

2022 was a great year for climate startups and venture capital. But the prospects for some technologies might not be so rosy.

  • Cheap synthetic fuels sound too good to be true. They might be

On the positive side of things, the Inflation Reduction Act passed, setting aside an unprecedented $370 billion in climate and energy spending. 

We saw unprecedented climate disasters this summer and fall. Flooding in Pakistan killed over a thousand people and displaced millions. Heat waves in China exposed weaknesses in EV charging infrastructure there. 

But along with the disasters, climate action gained momentum too, including an agreement on climate finance for vulnerable nations at the UN climate conference. 

Finally, this year we launched The Spark, where we've talked about some of the most exciting advances in climate tech! I feel like so much has happened since our first edition, where I took a look inside a battery recycling facility. We've covered everything from molten salt batteries to UN climate conferences, from genetically-tweaked crops capturing carbon to new plastic recycling methods. Stick around to see what exciting news we'll get into in 2023! 

Keeping up with climate

Startup Kodama Systems plans to take wildfire-fueling biomass and bury it underground to capture carbon. The company raised $6.6 million from Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures and other investors. (MIT Technology Review)

A UN meeting on biodiversity reached an agreement this week. Delegates agreed to protect 30% of the most crucial land and water for biodiversity by 2030. Over 200 countries joined the agreement. Notably absent? The US. (Associated Press)

→ Funding in the agreement is another of the conference's key outcomes. (CarbonBrief)

An offshore wind developer is delaying a project in Massachusetts, citing rising costs. The move could affect one of the state's largest offshore wind farms. (Boston Globe)

→ California's recent offshore wind auction could be even costlier, since turbines there will need to float. (MIT Technology Review)

Soup throwers, range anxiety, and of course, IRA. Check out these and Grist's other picks for climate words of the year. (Grist)

Talks are failing in negotiations to reopen a key aluminum plant in Washington. The cause? There's not enough cheap renewable energy to go around. (Washington Post)

An NPR investigation tied utilities in Alabama and Florida to news sites giving them favorable coverage. The sites' criticisms included clean energy policies. (NPR)

California passed new rules limiting what customers can get paid for electricity generated by their rooftop solar panels. Solar advocates argue the drastic changes will slow growth in the solar industry. (Canary Media)

→ The state is already seeing a tricky issue when it comes to solar: the more you build, the less helpful additional capacity tends to be for the grid. (MIT Technology Review)

A new facility in Sweden will use electricity, hydrogen, and captured carbon dioxide to make methanol, an alternative shipping fuel. (Bloomberg)


The Secret Life of Plant Killers
Is this article about Agriculture?
To take out invasives, the US relies on crews wielding hatchets, chainsaws, and herbicide. It's a messy, fun job—but it may not be enough to stop the spread.



Retraction Watch

 readers, we have some exciting news to share.

The WoodNext Foundation has awarded The Center For Scientific Integrity, our parent 501(c)3 nonprofit, a two-year $250,000 grant that will allow us to add another editor. 

The WoodNext Foundation is the philanthropy of tech innovator and Roku CEO/founder Anthony Wood and his wife Susan, and its mission is "to advance human progress and remove obstacles to a fulfilling life."

With the grant, we have hired Frederik Joelving, an experienced investigative reporter focused on health and science, and added to our freelance budget. Joelving, who is based in Copenhagen, will start on January 3. His award-winning work has had a big impact, including a ban by the Indian government on lucrative but troubling sales practices by drugmakers.

Joelving joins Ellie Kincaid on our small journalism team. Bulking up our reporting resources will allow us to cover more stories, do deeper investigations, and partner with larger news outlets to reach a wider audience.

Thank you, WoodNext Foundation, and thank you to all those who've supported us, critiqued us, sent us tips, contributed financially, and much, much more. We're eager to begin this new chapter.

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




Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35432-w

The poor conductivity of organic crystals hinders their potential on applications in flexible electronics, wearable devices, and soft robotics. Here, Naumov et al. develop a hybrid organic crystal that shows enhanced electrical conductivity and fast mechanical deformation due to temperature change.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35383-2

Neuronal activity increases local cerebral blood flow (CBF) to satisfy metabolic demand, yet the role of astrocytes in this phenomenon is controversial. Here, the authors show that astrocytes amplify CBF only when neuronal activity is sustained.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35598-3

The preparation of single-atom catalysts still suffers from metal aggregation and pore collapsing during pyrolysis. Here the authors report a versatile medium-induced infiltration deposition strategy for the fabrication of a series of single-atom and hetero-single-atom catalysts.

What's next in space in 2023

We're going back to the moon—again—in 2023. Multiple uncrewed landings are planned for the next 12 months, spurred on by a renewed effort in the US to return humans to the lunar surface later this decade. Both private space companies and national agencies are set to make the 240,000-mile trek to our celestial neighbor, where they will test landing capabilities, look for usable water ice, and more.

Previous years were "all about Mars," says Jill Stuart, a space policy expert from the London School of Economics in the UK. "Now we've shifted back to the moon."

That is not all 2023 has in store. We're also likely to see significant strides made in private human spaceflight, including the first-ever commercial spacewalk, compelling missions heading out into—or back from—other solar system destinations, and new rockets set to take flight.

Here's what the next year has lined up for space.

Moon landings

A lunar lander will already be on its way when 2023 begins. Launched in December on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the private spacecraft Hakuto-R, developed by Japanese firm ispace, is on a four-month journey to reach the moon, where it will deploy rovers built by the space agencies of Japan and the United Arab Emirates, among other goals. If successful, Hakuto-R could become the first private mission to land on the moon in March.

We say "could" because two private landers from the US—one from the firm Astrobotic and the other from Intuitive Machines, called Peregrine and Nova-C, respectively—are also set to reach the moon around the same time. Both are NASA-backed missions with various instruments on board to study the lunar environment, part of the agency's Commercial Lunar Payloads Services program, which aims to spur commercial interest in the moon ahead of human missions planned for later this decade under its Artemis program.

The first part of that program, Artemis I, saw an uncrewed Orion spacecraft launch to the moon on NASA's giant new Space Launch System rocket in November 2022. While the next Artemis mission, a crewed flight around the moon, is not planned until 2024, these next 12 months will lay important groundwork for Artemis by studying the moon's surface and even looking for water ice that could be a potential target for future human missions, among other goals. "The moon is getting a lot more attention than it has done for many years," says Jon Cowart, a former NASA human spaceflight manager now at the Aerospace Corporation in the US.

Intuitive Machines has a second lunar landing planned in 2023. Also on the books are landings from the space agencies of India and Japan, with Chandrayaan-3 and SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), respectively. India hopes to launch in August 2023. It will be the country's second attempt—the first crash-landed on the moon in 2019. A date for SLIM, which will test precision landing on the moon, has not yet been set. Russia reportedly has plans for the moon in 2023 too with its Luna-25 lander, but the status of the mission is unclear.

Private space travel

Since May 2020, SpaceX has been using its Crew Dragon spacecraft to ferry astronauts to space, some to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract with NASA and others on private missions. But SpaceX's Polaris Dawn mission, currently slated for March 2023, will be a big new step.

Four commercial astronauts, including billionaire Jared Isaacman, who is paying for the flight and also funded SpaceX's first all-private human spaceflight in 2021, will target a maximum orbit of 1,200 kilometers, higher than any human spacecraft since the Apollo missions. And in a first for commercial human spaceflight, the crew will don spacesuits and venture outside the spacecraft.

"Polaris Dawn is really exciting," says Laura Forczyk from the space consulting firm Astralytical. "My understanding is that the entire vehicle will be evacuated. Everybody is going to at least stick their heads out."

The mission may help NASA decide whether a future Crew Dragon mission could be used to service the Hubble Space Telescope, a capability that the agency has been investigating with SpaceX. "We'll have some idea whether it's feasible," says Forczyk.

Two more private missions using Crew Dragon—Axiom-2 and Axiom-3—are planned to head for the ISS in 2023, as well as two NASA flights using Crew Dragon. A competing vehicle from the US firm Boeing is also set to launch with crew for the first time in April 2023, following multiple delays.

Meanwhile, we wait to see if Jeff Bezos's company Blue Origin will be allowed to launch with humans again. The company has been grounded following an uncrewed launch failure in September 2022. Another private spaceflight pioneer, Virgin Galactic, has been relatively quiet since it launched its founder Sir Richard Branson into space in July 2021. 

All these developments in commercial human spaceflight may be overshadowed by the first orbital flight attempt of SpaceX's massive and reusable Starship rocket, which was undergoing launchpad tests earlier this month and should launch in 2023, if not by the end of 2022.

If successful, the rocket, which would surpass NASA's Space Launch System as the largest rocket to make it to orbit, could transform our exploration of space. "The ability to take more mass up opens up new opportunities," says Uma Bruegman, an expert in space strategies at the Aerospace Corporation. That could include, one day, human missions to Mars—or beyond. But there's a long way to go yet. "It's definitely an important year [for Starship]," says Cowart. "They've got a lot to do." One of its nearer-term goals will be preparing for the moon—NASA chose Starship's upper stage as the initial lunar lander for the Artemis program.

Into the solar system

Moons of the solar system's biggest planet are also on the agenda next year. April 2023 will see a gripping new mission launch from the European Space Agency (ESA) called JUICE, for "Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer." Scheduled to arrive in orbit at Jupiter in 2031, the spacecraft will perform detailed studies of the Jovian moons Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa, all of which are thought to harbor oceans that could contain life beneath their icy surfaces.

"It's the first mission that's fundamentally focused on the icy moons," says Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor for science and exploration at ESA. "We now know these icy moons have very deep water oceans, and they could have the conditions for life to have developed."

JUICE will map these oceans with radar instruments, but McCaughrean says it will also be able to look for possible biosignatures on the surface of Europa's ice, which could rain down from plumes ejected into space from its subsurface ocean.

Later in 2023, ESA is scheduled to see another major mission launch: its Euclid telescope, which was switched from a Russian rocket to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The telescope will probe the "dark universe," observing billions of galaxies over a third of the sky to better understand dark matter and dark energy in the cosmos.

In October, NASA should launch a significant science mission of its own when Psyche takes flight following a delay from 2022. The spacecraft will head to 16 Psyche, an unusual metal-rich asteroid that has never been seen up close.

A number of other intriguing developments are expected in 2023. NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to return to Earth in September with pieces of an asteroid called Bennu, which could offer new insight into the structure and formation of the solar system. Amazon aims to send up the first satellites for Project Kuiper in early 2023, the start of a 3,000-satellite orbiting communications network it hopes will rival SpaceX's Starlink constellation. And several new rockets are set to launch, including the United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket (it will carry Astrobotic's moon lander and some of Amazon's satellites) and possibly Blue Origin's large New Glenn rocket. Both are heavy-lift rockets that could take many satellites into space.

"There's a huge swathe of activity," says Cowart. "I'm very excited about this year."

This story is a part of MIT Technology Review's What's Next series, where we look across industries, trends, and technologies to let you know what to expect in the coming year.


Uploading consciousness to quantum computers

This issue has been bothering me for a week. I think this will be possible in the future. It is thought that quantum computers will enter our lives in 2030 and a huge change will be made in the financial field. I think in 2035 or 2040 the rich (billionaires) will be able to load their consciousness into the universes they have created and live in the fantasy world they want there. In 2050, millionaires will be able to do this. This seems very dangerous to me.some theories say that you can become immortal by doing this, but this is ridiculous, maybe in the future or impossible.Do you think this is possible?

submitted by /u/Rubydev39
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Scientific Reports, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26244-5

Author Correction: Evaluation of heavy metal contamination in copper mine tailing soils of Kitwe and Mufulira, Zambia, for reclamation prospects


Scientific Reports, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-24096-7

Application of Piszkiewicz model on the electron transfer reaction of dithionite ion and bis-(2-pyridinealdoximato)dioxomolybdate(IV) complex


Barn med utländsk bakgrund får inte lika ofta rekommenderade behandlingar för vissa psykiatriska diagnoser, som adhd och depression, jämfört med barn med svenskfödda föräldrar. Det visar forskning från Karolinska Institutet.

Inlägget Barn med utländsk bakgrund får mer sällan psykiatrisk behandling dök först upp på


Is this article about Natural Language Processing?
Imagine messaging an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot about a missing package and getting the response that it would be "delighted" to help. Once the bot creates the new order, they say they are "happy" to resolve the issue. After, you receive a survey about your interaction, but would you be likely to rate it as positive or negative?

In 1911, a meridian circle manufactured by A. Repsold & Söhne in Hamburg, Germany, was installed at the National Astronomical Observatory of Chile under the watch of Friedrich W. Ristenpart, a German astronomer and the observatory's director. The installation was an essential step in Ristenpart's goal of relocating the observatory to gain better sky visibility on the south side of Santiago. As a precision tool, this new meridian circle would support the observatory's international work of establishing the official time, determining latitudes and longitudes, and cataloguing stars and planets.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35466-0

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can harm mental health across the lifespan and reduce life expectancy. We provide a commentary of evidence on the health impacts, and how creative arts and digital interventions may support prevention and recovery.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35633-3

Probing the localized electrocatalytic activity of heterogeneous electrocatalysts is crucial. Here, the authors propose a method of imaging the surface charge density and electrocatalytic activity of single two-dimensional electrocatalyst nanosheets.

Why Climate Science Shouldn't Forget to Factor in Brain Health
Scientists agree that climate change will compromise almost every aspect of global health. Why then isn't there more research on the extent of its neurological effects? In order to mitigate and prevent damage, we need to better understand what's in store for our brains.


Klusterhuvudvärk, tidigare kallad Hortons huvudvärk, har länge beskrivits som en mansdominerad sjukdom. Nu visar ny forskning att kvinnor generellt påverkas mer i vardagen än män och oftare har en kronisk variant av den plågsamma huvudvärken.

Inlägget Huvudvärk förknippad med män visar sig drabba kvinnor hårdare dök först upp på


Is this article about ESG?

Open accesss notables:

Rabiya Ansari & Jennifer Landin survey climate pedagogy in 57 text books from a 49 year span and find a continuous if unsteady increase in coverage but with no sign of a systematic approach commensurate with the increasingly looming threat, in Coverage of climate change in introductory biology textbooks, 1970–2019.

King Canute's apocryphal object lesson on humility delivered to his subjects is being superseded by events.  Imminent reversal of the residual flow through the Marsdiep tidal inlet into the Dutch Wadden Sea based on multiyear ferry-borne acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) observations by van der Molen, Groeskamp & Maas and employing some slick methods reveals that by making a big enough mistakes we can reverse tides. General lack of humility remains a constant— where's King Canute, now

Global warming limited to 1.5 degrees centigrade? Some have accepted that the 1.5° train has left the station with no passengers. Given that, where does the next train out take us? Park et al. offer some prognostications with What does global land climate look like at 2 degrees warming?"During the 2040s, we find that global mean temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, downwelling shortwave and longwave radiation, and wind speed over land under the high emission scenario are projected to change by +2.8 °C, +22.4 mm/year, -0.73 %, -2.23 W/m2, +15.9 W/m2, and -0.04 m/s, respectively. Many of the future changes are expected to exacerbate climate impacts including heat stress and fire danger. Our analysis shows geographic patterns of policy-relevant climatic changes, as parts of the globe will experience significant climate impacts even if the goal to keep warming below 2 °C goal is achieved."

Cornish et al. work to resolve and explain a seeming paradox in Rise and fall of sea ice production in the Arctic Ocean's ice factories. Annual sea ice production has been increasing even as the overall inventory drops year-on-year, in the face of waming being most intense during winter when production happens. How? The authors' simple model may explain that, and further hints that this production bulge is an unique effect of changing conditions and is now nearing a temporary peak. 

We read and hear lots of news and details about threats to low-lying assets and populations by rising sea-leve in countries that have substantially contributed to creating this slow-motion disaster. How about nations that didn't fully enjoy the gravy train portion of the journey?  Land loss implications of sea level rise along the coastline of Colombia under different climate change scenarios by Nevermann & crew and just published in Climate Risk Management goes into details in what could serve as an archetype approach to comprehensive, methodical analysis producing useful insight for policy and planning. 

Our weekly section on decarbonization is a potpourri assembled from various specialist journals. It's offered in the spirit of a ray of hope shining on the weekly litany of high-grade "uh-oh" in a typical edition of New Research. Necessarily we're only scraping the surface of all the interesting things we're learning about modernizing our energy systems now that we're abandoning our caveman fixation on burning things. Wind farm energy surplus storage solution with second-life vehicle batteries in isolated grids and Cooling potential for hot climates by utilizing thermal management of compressed air energy storage systems are two great examples of what's happening as we discover that our fossil fuel anachronism's "cheapness" was both ephemeral and illusory. 

If somebody extremely incompetent attempted to invent machinery to do solar geoengineering, the result might look quite a bit like our aviation habit. Satellite observations of seasonality and long-term trends in cirrus cloud properties over Europe: investigation of possible aviation impacts by Qiang Li and Silke Groß takes a close look at the unintended outcomes of our inadvertent accidental engineering, a bunch of machines doing more than was contemplated or wanted. 

In our government/NGO section this week is Carbon Dioxide Utilization Markets and Infrastructure: Status and Opportunities: A First Report squired by the US National Academies and describing how we might stuff carbon into various useful compounds as part of a "circular-carbon economy" (note sponsorship of that "about").  

156 articles in 68 journals by 1,156 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Ocean variability beneath Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf driven by the Pine Island Bay Gyre strength
Dotto et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35499-5

Observations of climate change, effects

A Multidataset Assessment of Climatic Drivers and Uncertainties of Recent Trends in Evaporative Demand across the Continental United States
Albano et al., Journal of Hydrometeorology, Open Access pdf 10.1175/jhm-d-21-0163.1

Assessing the changes of precipitation extremes in Peninsular Malaysia
Ng et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7684

Assessment of trends, variability and impacts of droughts across Brazil over the period 1980–2019
Tomasella et al., Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-022-05759-0

Decrease of winter cyclone passage over northern Japan due to the reduction in the regional cyclogenesis associated with cold air outbreak
Tamura & Sato, International Journal of Climatology, Open Access pdf 10.1002/joc.7667

Detection and attribution of urbanization impact on summer extreme heat based on nonstationary models in the Yangtze River Delta, China
Xu et al., Urban Climate, 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101376

Global ocean wave fields show consistent regional trends between 1980 and 2014 in a multi-product ensemble
Erikson et al., Communications Earth & Environment, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00654-9

Imminent reversal of the residual flow through the Marsdiep tidal inlet into the Dutch Wadden Sea based on multiyear ferry-borne acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) observations
van der Molen et al., Ocean Science, Open Access pdf 10.5194/os-18-1805-2022

Increasing aridity causes larger and more severe forest fires across Europe
Grünig et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16547

Increasing urban and rural population exposures to warm-season concurrent hot days and nights on the North China Plain
Wang et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7685

Multiscale interactions driving the devastating floods in Henan Province, China during July 2021
Hsu et al., Weather and Climate Extremes, Open Access 10.1016/j.wace.2022.100541

Quantifying Flash Droughts over China from 1980 to 2017
Fu & Wang, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd037152

Revisiting the Variations of Precipitation and Water Vapor Budget from Current Reanalysis over the Tibetan Plateau
Ping et al., Advances in Climate Change Research, Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.12.002

Spatiotemporal variations of extreme events in surface mass balance over Greenland during 1958–2019
Wei et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7689

The interannual variation of the first regional extreme hot events in southeastern China and the possible mechanism
Zang et al., Atmospheric Research, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106569

Instrumentation & observational methods of climate change, effects

A global climatology of ice-nucleating particles under cirrus conditions derived from model simulations with MADE3 in EMAC
Beer et al., Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-22-15887-2022

A large-scale view of marine heatwaves revealed by archetype analysis
Chapman et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35493-x

Biases in the thermodynamic structure over the Southern Ocean in ERA5 and their radiative implications
Truong et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7672

Data rescue process in the context of sea level reconstructions: An overview of the methodology, lessons learned, up-to-date best practices and recommendations
Latapy et al., Geoscience Data Journal, 10.1002/gdj3.179

Evaluation of statistical climate reconstruction methods based on pseudoproxy experiments using linear and machine-learning methods
Zhang et al., Climate of the Past, Open Access pdf 10.5194/cp-18-2643-2022

Towards a whole-system framework for wildfire monitoring using Earth observations
Crowley et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16567

Modeling, simulation & projection of climate change, effects

Drivers and reversibility of abrupt ocean state transitions in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica
Caillet et al., [journal not provided], 10.1002/essoar.10511518.1

Evaluation of the Urban Heat Island of 12 cities of France in a high-resolution regional climate model simulation
Michau et al., Urban Climate, Open Access 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101386

Future evolution of global land surface air temperature trend based on Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 models
Wu et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7668

More frequent central Pacific El Niño and stronger eastern pacific El Niño in a warmer climate
Shin et al., npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41612-022-00324-9

Quantifying the contributions of regional human activities and global climate change to the regional climate in a typical mountain-oasis-desert system of arid Central Asia from 1979∼2018
Zhang et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd037110

Spatiotemporal variation in precipitation concentration and its potential relationship with drought under different scenarios in Inner Mongolia, China
Du et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7670

Trends, intensification, attribution and uncertainty of projected heatwaves in India
Chowdhury, International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7665

What does global land climate look like at 2 degrees warming?
Park et al., Earth's Future, Open Access 10.1029/2022ef003330

Advancement of climate & climate effects modeling, simulation & projection

Cloud Climatologies from Global Climate Models—A Comparison of CMIP5 and CMIP6 Models with Satellite Data
Lauer et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0181.1

Model errors of an intermediate model and their effects on realistic predictions of El Niño diversity
Tao et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7656

Sensitivity of the Indian Summer monsoon rainfall to land surface schemes and model domain in a regional climate model 'RegCM'
Mishra et al., Climate Dynamics, 10.1007/s00382-022-06636-z

Spatiotemporal variation in precipitation concentration and its potential relationship with drought under different scenarios in Inner Mongolia, China
Du et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7670

Understanding model-observation discrepancies in satellite retrievals of atmospheric temperature using GISS ModelE
Casas et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Open Access 10.1029/2022jd037523

Understanding summer wind systems over the eastern Mediterranean in a high-resolution climate simulation
Latt et al., International Journal of Climatology, Open Access pdf 10.1002/joc.7695

Cryosphere & climate change

Effect of spring Bering Sea ice on the Indian summer monsoon onset process
Tian et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04329-5

Impact of seasonal fluctuations of ice velocity on decadal trends observed in Southwest Greenland
Halas et al., Remote Sensing of Environment, Open Access 10.1016/j.rse.2022.113419

Long-term firn and mass balance modelling for Abramov Glacier in the data-scarce Pamir Alay
Kronenberg et al., The Cryosphere, Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-16-5001-2022

Recent Intensification (2004–2020) of Permafrost Mass-Wasting in the Central Mackenzie Valley Foothills Is a Legacy of Past Forest Fire Disturbances
Young et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2022gl100559

Rise and fall of sea ice production in the Arctic Ocean's ice factories
Cornish et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-34785-6

Sea level & climate change

Land loss implications of sea level rise along the coastline of Colombia under different climate change scenarios
Nevermann et al., Climate Risk Management, Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100470


An integrated view of organic biomarker-based sea surface temperature changes in the subarctic Pacific since the last ice age
Li et al., Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 10.1029/2022pa004480

Long-term firn and mass balance modelling for Abramov Glacier in the data-scarce Pamir Alay
Kronenberg et al., The Cryosphere, Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-16-5001-2022

Low atmospheric CO2 levels before the rise of forested ecosystems
Dahl et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35085-9

Multiproxy Reconstruction of Pliocene North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures and Implications for Rainfall in North Africa
Wycech et al., Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 10.1029/2022pa004424

Precessional pacing of tropical ocean carbon export during the Late Cretaceous
Kim et al., Climate of the Past, Open Access pdf 10.5194/cp-18-2631-2022

Reconstructing Holocene temperatures in time and space using paleoclimate data assimilation
Erb et al., Climate of the Past, Open Access pdf 10.5194/cp-18-2599-2022

Reconstruction of tropical cyclone and depression proxies for the South Pacific since the 1850s
Yeasmin et al., Weather and Climate Extremes, Open Access 10.1016/j.wace.2022.100543

Shallow marine carbonates as recorders of orbitally induced past climate changes – example from the Oxfordian of the Swiss Jura Mountains
Strasser, Climate of the Past, Open Access pdf 10.5194/cp-18-2117-2022

Tracking westerly wind directions over Europe since the middle Holocene
Hu et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-34952-9

Variability in the minimum temperature over two centuries in the overlap region between the fringe of the Asian westerly region and the temperate continental-monsoon climate transition zone
Sun et al., International Journal of Biometeorology, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00484-022-02397-w

Biology & climate change, related geochemistry

Abrupt loss and uncertain recovery from fires of Amazon forests under low climate mitigation scenarios
Cano et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.2203200119

Alpine shrubs have benefited more than trees from 20th century warming at a treeline ecotone site in the French Pyrenees
Francon et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 10.1016/j.agrformet.2022.109284

Coextinctions dominate future vertebrate losses from climate and land use change
Strona & Bradshaw, Science Advances, 10.1126/sciadv.abn4345

Contrasting drought legacy effects on gross primary productivity in a mixed versus pure beech forest
Yu et al., Biogeosciences, Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-4315-2022

Do predator (Mystus gulio) and prey (Penaeus monodon) have differential response against heatwaves? Unveiling through oxidative stress biomarkers and thermal tolerance estimation
Baag & Mandal, Marine Environmental Research, 10.1016/j.marenvres.2022.105850

Ecosystem impacts of marine heat waves in the northeast Pacific
Wyatt et al., Biogeosciences, Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-5689-2022

Functional Roles of Parasitic Plants in a Warming World
Watson et al., Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-102320-115331

Himalayan alpine ecohydrology: An urgent scientific concern in a changing climate
Leng et al., Ambio, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s13280-022-01792-2

Hotspots and drivers of compound marine heatwaves and low net primary production extremes
Le Grix et al., Biogeosciences, Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-5807-2022

Identifying an Evaporative Thermal Refugium for the Preservation of Coral Reefs in a Warming World – The Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba)
Abir et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd036845

Legacy of past exposure to hypoxia and warming regulates an ecosystem service provided by oysters
Donelan et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.1101/2022.04.25.488919

Microeconomic adaptation to severe climate disturbances on Australian coral reefs
Bartelet et al., Ambio, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s13280-022-01798-w

Number of simultaneously acting global change factors affects composition, diversity and productivity of grassland plant communities
Speißer et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35473-1

Predicting habitat suitability for Townsend's big-eared bats across California in relation to climate change
Hamilton et al., Ecology and Evolution, 10.1002/ece3.9641

Predicting the changes in suitable habitats for six common woody species in Central Asia
Tao, International Journal of Biometeorology, 10.1007/s00484-022-02389-w

The effect of warming on seagrass wasting disease depends on host genotypic identity and diversity
Schenck et al., Ecology, 10.1002/ecy.3959

Thermal physiology integrated species distribution model predicts profound habitat fragmentation for estuarine fish with ocean warming
Harishchandra et al., Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-25419-4

Tradeoffs in forest resilience to satellite-based estimates of water and productivity losses
Requena-Mullor et al., Remote Sensing of Environment, 10.1016/j.rse.2022.113414

When population-advantageous primary sex ratios are female-biased: changing concepts to facilitate climate change management in sea turtles
Santidrián Tomillo, Climatic Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03470-4

GHG sources & sinks, flux, related geochemistry

A multi-approach inventory of the blue carbon stocks of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows: Large scale application in Calvi Bay (Corsica, NW Mediterranean)
Leduc et al., Marine Environmental Research, 10.1016/j.marenvres.2022.105847

Derivation and assessment of regional electricity generation emission factors in the USA
Ghosh et al., The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 10.1007/s11367-022-02113-1

Drivers of intermodel uncertainty in land carbon sink projections
Padrón et al., Biogeosciences, Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-5435-2022

Early spring onset increases carbon uptake more than late fall senescence: modeling future phenological change in a US northern deciduous forest
Teets et al., Oecologia, Open Access 10.1007/s00442-022-05296-4

Effects of experimental nitrogen deposition on soil organic carbon storage in Southern California drylands
Püspök et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16563

Epipelagic nitrous oxide production offsets carbon sequestration by the biological pump
Wan et al., Nature Geoscience, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41561-022-01090-2

Historical trend and drivers of China's CO2 emissions from 2000 to 2020
Wei, Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02811-8

Inferring and evaluating satellite-based constraints on NOx emissions estimates in air quality simulations
East et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-2022-435

Quantification of blue carbon in salt marshes of the Pacific coast of Canada
Chastain et al., Biogeosciences, Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-5751-2022

Quantifying contributions of ozone changes to global and arctic warming during the second half of the twentieth century
Hu et al., Climate Dynamics, 10.1007/s00382-022-06621-6

The outsized role of salps in carbon export in the subarctic Northeast Pacific Ocean
Steinberg et al., Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 10.1029/2022gb007523

Zooplankton Fecal Pellet Characteristics and Contribution to the Deep-sea Carbon Export in the Southern South China Sea
Li et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 10.1029/2022jc019412

CO2 capture, sequestration science & engineering

A CFD-based analysis of dynamic induction techniques for wind farm control applications
Croce et al., Wind Energy, 10.1002/we.2801

Biomass energy for sustainable development: evidence from Asian countries
Hosen et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02850-1

Climate change impacts on wind power generation for the Italian peninsula
Bonanno et al., Regional Environmental Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10113-022-02007-w

Combined third-party ownership and aggregation business model for the adoption of rooftop solar PV–battery systems: Implications from the case of Miyakojima Island, Japan
Yamashiro & Mori, Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113392

Cooling potential for hot climates by utilizing thermal management of compressed air energy storage systems
Alami et al., Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-26666-1

Decarbonization, population disruption and resource inventories in the global energy transition
Svobodova et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35391-2

Dual-band electrochromic materials for energy-saving smart windows
Zhao et al., Carbon Neutralization, 10.1002/cnl2.38

Environmental profile of sweet sorghum bioethanol in the province of Tucumán (Argentina)
Garolera De Nucci et al., The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 10.1007/s11367-022-02120-2

Experimental assessment of a blended fatigue-extreme controller employing trailing edge flaps
Bartholomay et al., Wind Energy, 10.1002/we.2795

Feasibility study for estimating optimal substrate parameters for sustainable green roof in Sri Lanka
Kader et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10668-022-02837-y

How CO2 prices accelerate decarbonisation – The case of coal-fired generation in Germany
Sgarciu et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113375

Institutional acceptance of wildlife mitigation technologies for wind energy: The case of Israel
Cohen et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113359

Molybdenum-Based Catalytic Materials for Li–S Batteries: Strategies, Mechanisms, and Prospects
Liu et al., Advanced Energy and Sustainability Research, 10.1002/aesr.202200145

One-hour-ahead solar radiation forecasting by MLP, LSTM, and ANFIS approaches
Yildirim et al., Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 10.1007/s00703-022-00946-x

Planning for winter peaking power systems in the United States
Keskar et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113376

Understanding India's low-carbon energy technology startup landscape
Krishna et al., Nature Energy, 10.1038/s41560-022-01170-y

Understanding variability in petroleum jet fuel life cycle greenhouse gas emissions to inform aviation decarbonization
Jing et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35392-1

Wind farm energy surplus storage solution with second-life vehicle batteries in isolated grids
López et al., Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113373

Geoengineering climate

Toward Dangerous US Unilateralism on Solar Geoengineering
Stephens et al., Environmental Politics, 10.1080/09644016.2022.2156182


Satellite observations of seasonality and long-term trends in cirrus cloud properties over Europe: investigation of possible aviation impacts
Li & Groß Groß, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-22-15963-2022

Climate change communications & cognition

Coverage of climate change in introductory biology textbooks, 1970–2019
Ansari & Landin, PLOS ONE, Open Access pdf 10.1371/journal.pone.0278532

Think green: Investing cognitive effort for a pro-environmental cause
Krebs et al., Journal of Environmental Psychology, 10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101946

Whose system, what change? A critical political economy approach to the UK climate movement
Berglund & Bailey, Environmental Politics, 10.1080/09644016.2022.2156179

Agronomy, animal husbundry, food production & climate change

Adapting to a changing climate: indigenous biotic rainfall forecasting in Western Zambia
Mushimbei & Libanda, International Journal of Biometeorology, 10.1007/s00484-022-02402-2

Analyzing the impact of extreme heat events and drought on wheat yield and protein concentration, and adaptation strategies using long-term cultivar trials under semi-arid conditions
Lorite et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 10.1016/j.agrformet.2022.109279

Attitudes and opportunities: comparing climate change adaptation intentions and decisions of agricultural producers in Shaanxi, China, and British Columbia, Canada
Mu et al., Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 10.1007/s11027-022-10040-7

Climate-driven vegetation greening further reduces water availability in drylands
Chen et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16561

Future area expansion outweighs increasing drought risk for soybean in Europe
Nendel et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16562

Site suitability of emerging maize cultivation in a changing agroclimatic setting of eastern India: a fuzzy-MCE integrated analysis
Goswami et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02756-y

The effect of conventional and sustainable agricultural management practices on carbon and water fluxes in a Mexican semi-arid region
Guillen-Cruz et al., PeerJ, Open Access 10.7717/peerj.14542

Hydrology, hydrometeorology & climate change

A Multidataset Assessment of Climatic Drivers and Uncertainties of Recent Trends in Evaporative Demand across the Continental United States
Albano et al., Journal of Hydrometeorology, Open Access pdf 10.1175/jhm-d-21-0163.1

Assessing the changes of precipitation extremes in Peninsular Malaysia
Ng et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7684

Assessment of trends, variability and impacts of droughts across Brazil over the period 1980–2019
Tomasella et al., Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-022-05759-0

Changes in Sahel summer rainfall in a global warming climate: contrasting the mid-Pliocene and future regional hydrological cycles
Han et al., Climate Dynamics, 10.1007/s00382-022-06630-5

Climate-driven vegetation greening further reduces water availability in drylands
Chen et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16561

Evaluating observed and future spatiotemporal changes in precipitation and temperature across China based on CMIP6-GCMs
Lu et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7673

Himalayan alpine ecohydrology: An urgent scientific concern in a changing climate
Leng et al., Ambio, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s13280-022-01792-2

Number of simultaneously acting global change factors affects composition, diversity and productivity of grassland plant communities
Speißer et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35473-1

Quantifying Flash Droughts over China from 1980 to 2017
Fu & Wang, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd037152

Climate change mitigation public policy research

Achieving the objectives of renewable energy policy – Insights from renewable energy auction design in Europe
Fleck & Anatolitis, Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113357

Assessing decarbonization pathways of China's heavy-duty trucks in a well-to-wheels perspective
Xue et al., The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 10.1007/s11367-022-02124-y

Assessing synergies and trade-offs of diverging Paris-compliant mitigation strategies with long-term SDG objectives
Moreno et al., Global Environmental Change, Open Access 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2022.102624

Developing regional voluntary carbon markets for peatlands: innovation processes and influencing factors
Chen et al., Climate Policy, 10.1080/14693062.2022.2160300

Driving factors of CO2 emission reduction in the logistics industry: an assessment of the RCEP and SAARC economies
Sikder et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02840-3

Electricity generation portfolio planning and policy implications of Turkish power system considering cost, emission, and uncertainty
Selçuklu et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113393

Energy–poverty–climate vulnerability nexus: an approach to sustainable development for the poorest of poor
Yadava & Sinha, Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02812-7

Future supply of boreal forest ecosystem services is driven by management rather than by climate change
Triviño et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16566

How CO2 prices accelerate decarbonisation – The case of coal-fired generation in Germany
Sgarciu et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113375

Local officials' tenure and CO2 emissions in China
Tian et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113394

The paradox of overcapacity in African energy sectors
Andersen & Pedersen, Energy for Sustainable Development, Open Access 10.1016/j.esd.2022.11.011

Climate change adaptation & adaptation public policy research

Climate change and migration from atolls? No evidence yet
Mortreux et al., Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Open Access 10.1016/j.cosust.2022.101234

Has the IPCC's revised vulnerability concept been well adopted?
Estoque et al., Ambio, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s13280-022-01806-z

Identifying leverage points in climate change migration systems through expert mental models
Nabong et al., Climatic Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03468-y

Land loss implications of sea level rise along the coastline of Colombia under different climate change scenarios
Nevermann et al., Climate Risk Management, Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100470

Mitigation and adaptation to climate change in San Diego County, California
Quandt et al., Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 10.1007/s11027-022-10041-6

Mitigation and adaptation to climate change in San Diego County, California
Quandt et al., Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 10.1007/s11027-022-10041-6

National Climate Change Risk Assessments to inform adaptation policy priorities and environmental sustainability outcomes: a knowledge systems perspective
Journal of Development and Social Sciences, Open Access pdf 10.47205/jdss.2021(2-iv)74

Thermal performance of historic buildings in Mexico: An analysis of passive systems under the influence of climate change
Vázquez-Torres et al., Energy for Sustainable Development, Open Access 10.1016/j.esd.2022.12.002

Climate change impacts on human health

Analysis of Daily Ambient Temperature and Firearm Violence in 100 US Cities
Lyons et al., JAMA Network Open, Open Access pdf 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.47207

Assessment of summer regional outdoor heat stress and regional comfort in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei agglomeration over the last 40 years
Huang et al., GeoHealth, 10.1029/2022gh000725

Association between daily temperature and hospital admissions for urolithiasis in Ganzhou, China: a time-series analysis
Li et al., International Journal of Biometeorology, 10.1007/s00484-022-02383-2

Beyond heat exposure — new methods to quantify and link personal heat exposure, stress, and strain in diverse populations and climates: The journal temperature toolbox
Guzman-Echavarria et al., Temperature, 10.1080/23328940.2022.2149024

Increasing urban and rural population exposures to warm-season concurrent hot days and nights on the North China Plain
Wang et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7685


Assessing the maximum potential cooling benefits of irrigation in Australia during the "Angry Summer" of 2012/2013
Kala et al., Weather and Climate Extremes, Open Access 10.1016/j.wace.2022.100538

Challenging the values of the polluter elite: A global consequentialist response to Evensen and Graham's (2022) 'The irreplaceable virtues of in-person conferences'
Whitmarsh & Kreil, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101881

Unveiling evolution characteristics of inventive activity on climate change mitigation technologies in China
Liu et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02839-w

Weakened influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation on the zonal shift of the South Asian High after the early 1980s
Cen et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7666

Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives

An evolution towards scientific consensus for a sustainable ocean future
Gaill et al., npj Ocean Sustainability, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s44183-022-00007-1

GC Insights: Diversifying the geosciences in higher education: a manifesto for change
Hall et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/egusphere-2022-116

Limits to adaptation: Building an integrated research agenda
Berkhout & Dow, WIREs Climate Change, 10.1002/wcc.817

What's New at JGR-Oceans? Confronting Bias, Burn Out, and Big Data
Beal et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 10.1029/2022jc019539

When is green nudging ethically permissible?
Tyler DesRoches et al., Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Open Access 10.1016/j.cosust.2022.101236

Book reviews

Holocene book review: Meltdown: The Earth Without Glaciers
The Holocene, 10.1177/09596836221110312

Articles/Reports from Agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations Addressing Aspects of Climate Change

Solving the Climate Crisis 2022Cohen et al., Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Majority Staff

The majority staff report highlights the historic progress made by House Democrats to reduce heat-trapping pollution, lower energy costs, and create good-paying jobs across America by addressing the climate crisis and deploying cleaner, cheaper energy. It also outlines progress made to help communities adapt to climate impacts and become more resilient in the face of worsening extreme weather events. Those accomplishments include investments in bills like the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS & Science Act, the Energy Act of 2020, the yearly appropriations bills, the National Defense Authorization Act, and more. Some of the key accomplishments highlighted in the report include the following; laying the foundation to slash pollution across the board with tax credits that will drive investment in affordable clean energy, electric vehicles made in America, and cost-saving energy efficiency technologies; a down payment on the electrification of the entire economy, with substantial investments and policy changes in electric transmission and a historic deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure; making environmental justice a cornerstone of climate action, with a focus on stronger enforcement of environmental laws and increasing investments in EJ communities, including rural and tribal communities.

Carbon Dioxide Utilization Markets and Infrastructure: Status and Opportunities: A First ReportCarter et al., National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Carbon materials pervade many aspects of modern life, from fuels and building materials to consumer goods and commodity chemicals. Reaching net-zero emissions will require replacing existing fossil-carbon-based systems with circular-carbon economies that transform wastes like CO2 into useful materials. This report evaluates market opportunities and infrastructure needs to help decision-makers better understand how carbon dioxide use can contribute to a net-zero emissions future.

The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.STroy et al., Western Forestry Leadership Coalition

The authors provide information on the full range of costs associated with wildland fire in the western UU.S. in order to inform leaders and policymakers as they work to improve wildfire response and mitigation. Information on the costs of wildfires is commonly reduced to the sum of suppression costs and structure losses; however, many other costs are commonly incurred, including compromised water supply, flood damage, lost economic opportunity, and declines in public health, among others. These costs are often overlooked because they are more difficult to quantify and their linkage to a wildfire event may be indirect. The authors highlight and categorize these often overlooked costs in a systematic way so as to facilitate improved decision making and resource allocation. The authors also show how targeted investments in mitigation produce ancillary benefits, such as healthier and more resilient forests and rangelands, which can potentially lead to a reduction in catastrophic wildfire event costs later. They conclude by presenting a roadmap of subsequent steps that would be needed in order to advance a consistent and comprehensive system of wildfire cost accounting, including research, data collection, and information management.

Obtaining articles without journal subscriptions

We know it's frustrating that many articles we cite here are not free to read. One-off paid access fees are generally astronomically priced, suitable for such as "On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light but not as a gamble on unknowns. With a median world income of US$ 9,373, for most of us US$ 42 is significant money to wager on an article's relevance and importance. 

  • Unpaywall offers a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that automatically indicates when an article is freely accessible and provides immediate access without further trouble. Unpaywall is also unscammy, works well, is itself offered free to use. The organizers (a legitimate nonprofit) report about a 50% success rate
  • The weekly New Research catch is checked against the Unpaywall database with accessible items being flagged. Especially for just-published articles this mechansim may fail. If you're interested in an article title and it is not listed here as "open access," be sure to check the link anyway. 

How is New Research assembled?

Most articles appearing here are found via  RSS feeds from journal publishers, filtered by search terms to produce raw output for assessment of relevance. 

Relevant articles are then queried against the Unpaywall database, to identify open access articles and expose useful metadata for articles appearing in the database. 

The objective of New Research isn't to cast a tinge on scientific results, to color readers' impressions. Hence candidate articles are assessed via two metrics only:

  • Was an article deemed of sufficient merit by a team of journal editors and peer reviewers? The fact of journal RSS output assigns a "yes" to this automatically. 
  • Is an article relevant to the topic of anthropogenic climate change? Due to filter overlap with other publication topics of inquiry, of a typical week's 550 or so input articles about 1/4 of RSS output makes the cut.

The section "Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives" includes some items that are not scientific research per se but fall instead into the category of "perspectives," observations of implications of research findings, areas needing attention, etc.


Please let us know if you're aware of an article you think may be of interest for Skeptical Science research news, or if we've missed something that may be important. Send your input to Skeptical Science via our contact form.

Journals covered

A list of journals we cover may be found here. We welcome pointers to omissions, new journals etc.

Previous edition

The previous edition of Skeptical Science New Research may be found here.


3D genome organization
Is this article about Cell?

Scientific Reports, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26725-7

Our genomes are highly organized spatially in three-dimensions (3D). In interphase nuclei, the genome is anchored and regulated by various nuclear scaffolds and structures, including the nuclear lamina at the nuclear edge, and nucleoli located more internally within the nucleoplasm. Recently, great effort has been made to understand the intricacies of 3D genome organization and its relevance to genomic and nuclear function. Over the years, many concepts, mathematical models, visual and biochemical methods, and analysis pipelines have been presented to study various aspects of this organization in a multidisciplinary manner, such as is also reflected within this collection.

Is this article about Neuroscience?

Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35640-4

Undesired chromosomal translocations, vector integrations, and large deletions remain a problem for therapeutic gene editing in vivo. Here, the authors compare the CRISPR-Cas9TX variant with CRISPR-Cas9 and show elimination of chromosomal translocations and reduction of AVV integration when targeting Vegfa for the treatment of 
age-related macular degeneration
 in a mouse model.


Nature Communications, Published online: 22 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35358-3

Here, the authors show that the glycosylceramide synthesis inhibitor and FDA approved drug Eliglustat inhibits autophagic degradation of TRAF3 which is a key step for osteoclast differentiation and thereby improves myeloma bone lesions.

The science of how to give better gifts

download(size: 21 MB )
As Christmas approaches, many of us will have spent the last few weeks trying to pick out the perfect presents for friends, family and colleagues. For both giver and receiver, exchanging gifts can be filled with delight – or dread, as a smile slowly fades into a look of feigned enthusiasm. But what does science say about how to avoid unwanted gifts and unpleasant surprises? Ian Sample speaks to Julian Givi about his research unwrapping what we all actually want under the tree, and hears his top tips for choosing a winning present every time. Help support our independent journalism at

The science of how to give better gifts

As Christmas approaches, many of us will have spent the last few weeks trying to pick out the perfect presents for friends, family and colleagues. For both giver and receiver, exchanging gifts can be filled with delight – or dread, as a smile slowly fades into a look of feigned enthusiasm. But what does science say about how to avoid unwanted gifts and unpleasant surprises?

Ian Sample speaks to Julian Givi about his research unwrapping what we all actually want under the tree, and hears his top tips for choosing a winning present every time

Continue reading…

Zelensky Recalled Us to Ourselves

"So much in the world depends on you."

Of all the many moving words in President Volodymyr Zelensky's speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, those eight may have been the most urgent and important.

Zelensky came to Washington to speak for his nation. He came to Washington to ask for assistance. But above all, he came to Washington to recall Americans to themselves. He came to say, My embattled people believe in you. Embedded in his words of trust was a challenge: If we believe in you, perhaps you can again believe in yourselves?

Political scientists have dubbed the past 20 years an age of "democratic recession." There are fewer democracies on the planet. Antidemocratic predators have gained in wealth and strength. Even within the surviving democracies, extremist forces have undermined citizens' confidence in their own system of government.

The ideal of partnership among democracies has declined, too, and perhaps even more than confidence within individual democracies. Narrow and selfish nationalism has displaced international cooperation and collective security. The slogan "America First"—seemingly discredited forever along with its fascism-friendly promoters of the late 1930s and early '40s—was revived. Unsurprisingly, "America First" summoned forth reciprocal chauvinism from countries on the receiving end of American tariffs and American disrespect.

[Phillips Payson O'Brien: What Zelensky needs from Washington]

This mood of democratic recession enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin's