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Priscilla Coleman

An article that critiqued a study on what happened after women did not get abortions that they sought has been retracted after observers raised concerns that the peer review process had not been objective.

The article, "The Turnaway Study: A Case of Self-Correction in Science Upended by Political Motivation and Unvetted Findings," was originally published in Frontiers in Psychology in June of 2022.

The Turnaway Study itself was an effort of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, which followed women who had received abortions and women who sought abortions but did not get them because they were too far along in their pregnancies "to describe the mental health, physical health, and socioeconomic consequences of receiving an abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term," according to its website.

As we reported in November, the journal placed an expression of concern on the paper after critics pointed out that the editor and all four reviewers (whose names Frontiers published on the first page of the paper) were associated with pro-life organizations. The researchers behind the Turnaway Study responded to the article's critiques in a commentary published in December.

The paper's author, Priscilla K. Coleman, a professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told us at the time that she would "actively pursue all options available including legal avenues to rectify the situation." (She also said she would "pursue all avenues available to me should your article, which is premature at this time cause me any additional reputational harm.")

On December 26, Frontiers in Psychology retracted Coleman's article with the following notice:

Following publication, undisclosed competing interests were brought to our attention, which undermined the objective editorial assessment of the article during the peer review process.

Frontiers conducted a post-publication assessment of the article, including consulting with independent expertise, which concluded that the article does not meet the standards of publication of Frontiers in Psychology.

This retraction was approved by the Field Chief Editor of Frontiers in Psychology and the Chief Executive Editor of Frontiers. The authors did not agree with this retraction.

In response to our request for comment on the retraction, Coleman told us:

The only information ever provided to me by Frontiers (just prior to posting) was the public retraction notice. Relying solely on this statement, I was asked if I agreed or disagreed with the retraction. Via my attorneys, I requested clarity to make the determination. No further information was provided regarding the rationale or internal findings. Frontiers responded that they would get back to us on substance in the New Year; yet that same day (December 26th) they proceeded with the retraction, posted the original ambiguous statement, and inappropriate presumed my response. Given Frontiers' membership in COPE, it is difficult to reconcile my experience in this matter with their obligations as a member.

Hat tip: Chelsea Polis

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Charlotte Bronte, via Wikimedia

Waves have a higher energy thickness contrasted with other sustainable power sources, so it requires less space to create a similar measure of energy. The upside of these waves is that they convey measures of dynamic energy and keep them all through the excursion from the focal point of the ocean to the ocean side. The dynamic energy of the ocean waves is tackled to mechanical works like power age …

Few scholars of the work of William Faulkner know that the winner of the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature toyed with the above passage in early drafts of his 1936 novel, Absalom, Absalom!

He went instead with the more memorable:

'Why do you hate the South?' 'I dont hate it,' Quentin said quickly, at once, immediately; 'I dont hate it,' he said. I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I don't I don't! I don't hate it! I don't hate it!"

Meanwhile, the genius of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass – "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you" – echoes in his lesser known work, "Role of Human Resources, Pay Disparity and Sustainable Power Utilization on Co2 Alleviation," whose soaring lines include:

The Maintainable Improvement Objectives (SDGs)

are a bunch of five earnest issues

that should be tended to by the worldwide local area continuously

2030 individuals, planet, flourishing, harmony, and organization.

Okay, clearly not. But the editors of the British Journal of Research would have readers believe that Faulkner and Whitman, along with other long-dead luminaries including Charlotte Brontë, of the Department of Basic Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, in the UK, and Herman Hesse, of the Department of Basic Sciences, University of Cologne, in Germany, wrote papers for a recent issue of the periodical.

Published by Prime Scholars, the BJR claims to be "an international quarterly open access journal which aims to publish articles related to different research fields and specialities." One of the journal's purported editors in chief did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

We learned about the bogus papers thanks to Dorothy Bishop, who tweeted about them Thursday.

As Bishop noted, the motive for the scheme isn't clear:

Of course, readers of Retraction Watch will not find it surprising that it's possible to get just about anything published in something that looks like a journal.

Ultimately, as Bronte wrote in Jane Eyre, motive is less important than results:

I could bend you with my finger and my thumb…But whatever I do with this cage, I cannot get at you, and it is your soul that I want.


In any case, sewage and modern pro-fluent that is unloaded into the climate corrupt crisp drinking water, making it difficult to give clean water to occupants and environments in the encompassing region …

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We are ignoring Covid case rises once again | Letters

The decision to stop reporting the Covid growth rate is the latest in a series of attempts to limit the available information about the current spread, writes Dr Brian Ramsden, while Susan Treagus has been keeping a Covid diary

With a predictable adherence to the principle of burying bad news, the government's UK Health Security Agency announced on the Friday before Christmas that it is now ceasing to publish the reproduction number – the R value – and the growth rate for Covid-19 in the UK (UK to stop publishing Covid modelling data, 25 December).

This decision was taken at a time when the R value and the growth rate both show that the prevalence of Covid is increasing in the UK. This is just the latest in a series of attempts to minimise the availability of information about Covid. Data about tests is virtually nonexistent, because tests are no longer freely available; contact tracing has ceased; and daily reporting of infections stopped when people were told there was no longer a need to use masks or to self-isolate.

Continue reading…

The dynamic change mechanism of the seasonal peak rate of photosynthesis, also known as GPPmax (Maximum Gross Primary Productivity), has become a hot topic in carbon cycle research. In the Northern Hemisphere, the GPPmax of vegetation is closely related to the year-on-year variation of the ecosystem carbon sink function.

Is this article about Sustainability?
A new paper, published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal, found that pine needles could be used to produce renewable fuels and value-added chemicals, such as preservatives used in agriculture, using only water as a solvent.

To find out how many scientists a region needs to become a leader in a discipline, researchers tracked millions of scientists moving across the globe. Their result: there is no critical mass, but you have to be a pioneer. Regions can catch up later, but this costs a lot.

Language function and the psychosocial wellbeing of patients and their families can be promoted with singing-based rehabilitation. Group intervention provides opportunities for peer support while being simultaneously cost effective.

A team of engineers and neuroscientists has demonstrated for the first time that human brain organoids implanted in mice have established functional connectivity to the animals' cortex and responded to external sensory stimuli. The implanted organoids reacted to visual stimuli in the same way as surrounding tissues, an observation that researchers were able to make in real time over several months thanks to an innovative experimental setup that combines transparent graphene microelectrode arrays and two-photon imaging.

Is this article about Cell?
The higher the temperatures, the faster physiological processes are. But there is an exception: the so-called circadian clock, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle in organisms. A fascinating question for scientists is why the inner clock runs in an almost unchanging way despite fluctuations in temperatures. This is a phenomenon known as temperature compensation. Studies indicate that different molecular mechanisms contribute to this.

Is this article about Cell?
The higher the temperatures, the faster physiological processes are. But there is an exception: the so-called circadian clock, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle in organisms. A fascinating question for scientists is why the inner clock runs in an almost unchanging way despite fluctuations in temperatures. This is a phenomenon known as temperature compensation. Studies indicate that different molecular mechanisms contribute to this.

A team of engineers and neuroscientists has demonstrated for the first time that human brain organoids implanted in mice have established functional connectivity to the animals' cortex and responded to external sensory stimuli. The implanted organoids reacted to visual stimuli in the same way as surrounding tissues, an observation that researchers were able to make in real time over several months thanks to an innovative experimental setup that combines transparent graphene microelectrode arrays and two-photon imaging.

Professor Park Chi-Young's team successfully developed an atypical porous polymer material that can completely remove phenolic organic contaminants in water at ultra-high speeds. The porous material developed can efficiently remove not only microplastics in the water but also very small-sized volatile organic compounds (VOCs) based on photothermal effect. At the same time, it is expected to be utilized as a high-efficiency adsorption material that can be commercialized in the future as it has cost competitiveness based on raw materials and enables a solar-based water purification process.

Why Do Rapid Tests Feel So Useless Right Now?

Max Hamilton found out that his roommate had been exposed to the coronavirus shortly after Thanksgiving. The dread set in, and then, so did her symptoms. Wanting to be cautious, she tested continuously, remaining masked in all common areas at home. But after three negative rapid tests in a row, she and Hamilton felt like the worst had passed. At the very least, they could chat safely across the kitchen table, right?

Wrong. More than a week later, another test finally sprouted a second line: bright, pink, positive. Five days after that, Hamilton was testing positive as well. This was his second bout of COVID since the start of the pandemic, and he wasn't feeling so great. Congestion and fatigue aside, he was "just very frustrated," he told me. He felt like they had done everything right. "If we have no idea if someone has COVID, how are we supposed to avoid it?" Now he has a different take on rapid tests: They aren't guarantees. When he and his roommate return from their Christmas and New Year's holidays, he said, they'll steer clear of friends who show any symptoms whatsoever.

Hamilton and his roommate are just two of many who have been wronged by the rapid. Since the onset of Omicron, for one reason or another, false negatives seem to be popping up with greater frequency. That leaves people stuck trying to figure out when, and if, to bank on the simplest, easiest way to check one's COVID status. At this point, even people who work in health care are throwing up their hands. Alex Meshkin, the CEO of the medical laboratory Flow Health, told me that he spent the first two years of the pandemic carefully masking in social situations and asking others to get tested before meeting with him. Then he came down with COVID shortly after visiting a friend who didn't think that she was sick. Turns out, she'd only taken a rapid test. "That's my wonderful personal experience," Meshkin told me. His takeaway? "I don't trust the antigen test at all."

[Read: Should everyone be masking again?]

That might be a bit extreme. Rapid antigen tests still work, and we've known about the problem of delayed positivity for ages. In fact, the tests are about as good at picking up the SARS-CoV-2 virus now as they've ever been, Susan Butler-Wu, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, told me. Their limit of detection––the lowest quantity of viral antigen that will register reliably as a positive result––didn't really change as new variants emerged. At the same time, the Omicron variant and its offshoots seem to take longer, after the onset of infection, to accumulate that amount of virus in the nose, says Wilbur Lam, a professor of pediatrics and biomedical engineering at Emory University who is also one of the lead investigators assessing COVID diagnostic tests for the federal government. Lam told me that this delay, between getting sick and reaching the minimum detectable concentration of the viral antigen, could be contributing to the spate of false-negative results.

That problem isn't likely to be solved anytime soon. The same basic technology behind COVID rapid tests, called "lateral flow," has been around for years; it's even used for standard pregnancy tests, Emily Landon, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Chicago, told me. Oliver Keppler, a virology researcher at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich who was involved in a study comparing the performance of rapid tests between variants, says there isn't really a way to tweak the tests so that they'll be any more sensitive to newer variants. "Conceptually, there's little we can do." In the meantime, he told me, we have to accept that "in the first one or two days of infection with Omicron, on average, antigen tests are very poor."

Of course, Hamilton (and his roommate) would point out that the tests can fail even several days after symptoms start. That's why he and others are feeling hesitant to trust them again. "It's not just about the utility or accuracy of the test. It's also about the willingness to even do the test," Ng Qin Xiang, a resident in preventative medicine at Singapore General Hospital who was involved in a study examining the performance of rapid antigen tests, told me. "Even within my circle of friends, a lot of people, when they have respiratory symptoms, just stay home and rest," he said. They just don't see the point of testing.

[Read: COVID science is moving backwards]

Landon recently got COVID for the first time since the start of the pandemic. When her son came home with the virus, she decided to perform her own experiment. She kept track of her rapids, testing every 12 hours and even taking pictures for proof. Her symptoms started on a Friday night and her initial test was negative. So was Saturday morning's. By Saturday evening, though, a faint line had begun to emerge, and the next morning—36 hours after symptom onset—the second line was dark. Her advice for those who want the most accurate result and don't have as many tests to spare is to wait until you've had symptoms for two days before testing. And if you've been exposed, have symptoms, and only have one test? "You don't even need to bother. You probably have COVID."

Is this article about Construction?

Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35648-w

Latin America is the world's most urbanized region and its heterogeneous urban development may impact chronic diseases. In this study, the authors evaluate the association of built environment characteristics with body mass index,
, and type 2 diabetes.


Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35735-y

Human gut archaeal viruses remain largely unknown. Here the authors present a bioinformatic pipeline to identify viruses of human gut archaea, revealing diversity of archaeal viruses, their hosts and their functional gene repertoire in the human gut.

Using NASA's
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
(TESS), an international team of astronomers has detected a new "hot Jupiter" exoplanet. The newfound alien world, estimated to be nearly three times as massive as Jupiter, orbits a rapidly rotating star known as TOI-778. The finding is reported in a paper published December 16 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Is this article about Sustainable Alternative Fuels?
Ammonia (NH3) is an important fertilizer and chemical for human society; however, its production by the traditional Haber-Bosch process consumes substantial fossil fuel energy and produces massive carbon dioxide emissions. Powered by renewable energy, electrocatalytic reduction of nitrogen (N2) to NH3 under eco-friendly and mild conditions provides a highly attractive solution for carbon neutrality.

Sudden Russian Death Syndrome
Is this article about Geopolitics?

Here is a list of people you should not currently want to be: a Russian sausage tycoon, a Russian gas-industry executive, the editor in chief of a Russian tabloid, a Russian shipyard director, the head of a Russian ski resort, a Russian aviation official, or a Russian rail magnate. Anyone answering to such a description probably ought not stand near open windows, in almost any country, on almost every continent.

Over the weekend, Pavel Antov, the aforementioned sausage executive, a man who had reportedly expressed a dangerous lack of enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine, was found dead at a hotel in India, just two days after one of his Russian travel companions died at the same hotel. Antov was reported to have fallen to his death from a hotel window. The meat millionaire and his also-deceased friend are the most recent additions to a macabre list of people who have succumbed to Sudden Russian Death Syndrome, a phenomenon that has claimed the lives of a flabbergastingly large number of businessmen, bureaucrats, oligarchs, and journalists. The catalog of these deaths—which includes alleged defenestrations, suspected poisonings, suspicious heart attacks, and supposed suicides—is remarkable for the variety of unnatural deaths contained within as well as its Russian-novel length.

Some two dozen notable Russians have died in 2022 in mysterious ways, some gruesomely. The bodies of the gas-industry leaders Leonid Shulman and Alexander Tyulakov were found with suicide notes at the beginning of the year. Then, in the span of one month, three more Russian executives—Vasily Melnikov, Vladislav Avayev, and Sergey Protosenya—were found dead, in apparent murder-suicides, with their wives and children. In May, Russian authorities found the body of the Sochi resort owner Andrei Krukovsky at the bottom of a cliff; a week later, Aleksandr Subbotin, a manager of a Russian gas company, died in a home belonging to a Moscow shaman, after he was allegedly poisoned with toad venom.

[Anne Applebaum: The Kremlin must be in crisis]

The list goes on. In July, the energy executive Yuri Voronov was found floating in his suburban St. Petersburg swimming pool with a bullet wound in his head. Think Gatsby by the Neva. In August, the Latvia-born Putin critic Dan Rapoport apparently fell from the window of his Washington, D.C., apartment, a mile from the White House—right before Ravil Maganov, the chairman of a Russian oil company, fell six stories from a window in Moscow. Earlier this month, the IT-company director Grigory Kochenov toppled off a balcony. Ten days ago, in the French Riviera, a Russian real-estate tycoon took a fatal tumble down a flight of stairs.

To reiterate: All of these deaths occurred this year.

One could argue that, given Russia's exceptionally low life expectancy and unchecked rate of alcoholism, at least some of these fatalities were natural or accidental. Just because you're Russian doesn't mean you can't accidentally fall out of an upper-story window. Sometimes, people kill themselves—and the suicide rate among Russian men is one of the highest recorded in the world. For Edward Luttwak, a historian and military-strategy expert, that's at least part of what's happening: an outbreak of mass despair among Russia's connected and privileged elite. "Imagine what happens to a globalized country when sanctions kick in," he told me. "Some of them will commit suicide." But the sheer proliferation of these untimely deaths warrants a closer look.

After all, this is what the Kremlin does. There is precedent for this phenomenon. In 2020, Russian agents poisoned—but failed to kill—the Putin critic Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent; a decade earlier, they succeeded in a similar attempt on the Russian-security-services defector Alexander Litvinenko. In 2004, when Viktor Yushchenko ran against a Kremlin-backed opponent for Ukraine's presidency, he was poisoned with dioxin and left disfigured. Thirty years earlier, the Bulgarian secret service, reportedly with the help of the Soviet KGB, killed the dissident Georgi Markov by stabbing him on the Waterloo Bridge in London with a ricin-laced umbrella tip. Russian agents often "turn to the most exotic," Luttwak told me. "People who do assassinations for commercial purposes look at [their methods] and laugh."

[Read: The spies who love Putin]

Suicides are more difficult to decipher. For oligarchs who have failed to show sufficient loyalty to Putin, coaxed suicide is not an implausible scenario. "It is not uncommon to be told, 'We can come to you or you can do the manly thing and commit suicide, take yourself off the chess board. At least you'll have the agency of your own undoing,'" Michael Weiss, a journalist and the author of a forthcoming book on the GRU, the Russian military-intelligence agency, told me. Did Antov really fall out his window in India? Was he pushed by a Kremlin agent? Or did he get a call that threatened his family and made him feel he had no option but to leap? "All of these things are possible," Weiss told me.

In the Kremlin's Gothic murderverse, imagination is key.

Defenestration has been a favorite method of removing political opponents since the early days of multistory buildings, but in the modern era, Russia has monopolized the practice. Like Tosca's climactic exit from the battlements of Castel Sant'Angelo, death by falling from a great height has a performative, even moral aspect.

In Russian, this business of assassination is known as mokroye delo, or "wet work." Sometimes, the main purpose is to send a message to others: We'll kill you and your family if you're disloyal. Sometimes, the goal is to simply remove a troublesome individual.

A few years after the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichny died while jogging outside London in 2012, at least one autopsy detected chemical residue in his stomach linked to the rare—and highly toxic—flowering plant gelsemium. "These are the clues of evidence that the Russians are fond of using," Weiss told me. A calling card, if you will. "They want us to know that it was murder, but they don't want us to be able to definitely conclude it was murder."

[Robert Service: Back in the U.S.S.R.]

Poisoning has that ambiguity. It is literally covert, concealed, sometimes hard to detect. Defenestration is a bit less ambiguous. Yes, it could be an accident. But it's a lot easier to conclude it was murder—an overt assassination.

"Things that mimic natural causes of death like a heart attack or a stroke, the Russians can be quite good at doing that," Weiss said. The deaths range in their showiness, but they're all part of the same overarching scheme: to perpetuate the idea that the Russian state is a deadly, all-powerful octopus, whose slimy tentacles can search out and seize any dissident, anywhere. As the Bond franchise had it, the world is not enough.

The war in Ukraine is not universally popular among Russia's ruling elite. Since the conflict began, sanctions on oligarchs and businessmen have constrained their profligate and peripatetic lifestyles. Some are, understandably, said to be unhappy about this. High-level Russian elites feel as if Putin "has essentially wound the clock backwards," Weiss said, to the bad old days of Cold War isolation.

This year's spate of deaths—so brazen in their number and method as to suggest a lack of concern about plausible, or even implausible, deniability—is quite possibly Putin's way of warning Russia's elites that he is that deadly octopus. The point of eliminating critics, after all, isn't necessarily to eliminate criticism. It is to remind the critics—with as much flair as possible—what the price of voicing that criticism can be.

Our Strange New Era of Space Travel

In December of 1972, astronaut Eugene Cernan left his footprints and daughter's initials in the lunar dust. In doing so, he became the last man to set foot on the moon. Now, after 50 years, humanity is going back. But in the half-century since Apollo 17, a lot has changed in how we explore space—and how we see our place in it.

While those early missions were all run by governments, much of modern spaceflight is the domain of billionaires and their private companies. Commercial space travel has brought a new way of thinking about trips outside Earth's gravity, with tourism turning space into a vacation and something of a status symbol. It's also widened the range of people who go to space from the clean-cut white male astronauts of the Apollo era.

New visitors bring new perspectives to space, and that diversity could well change our relationship to it. A year ago, at 90 years old, actor William Shatner rode one of Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin spacecraft. But as he told staff writer Marina Koren, his time in space didn't line up with the optimism of Star Trek's Captain Kirk.

Koren and fellow staff writer Adam Harris discuss our changing relationship with space on an episode of the podcast Radio Atlantic. They also listen to some of Koren's interview with Shatner. You can hear their conversation here:

Subscribe here: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts

The following is a transcript of the episode:

Adam Harris: This is Radio Atlantic. I'm Adam Harris.

Marina Koren: And I'm Marina Koren.

Harris: This week on the show, we're talking about space. We just heard some of our colleagues' kids talking about space. As a parent myself, it feels like the images of space are inescapable. One of the first T-shirts I remember buying for my daughter was a NASA T-shirt. We have blankets in our house that have moons and rocket ships on them. Is that your recollection of childhood?

Koren: Definitely. I had those glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. Occasionally one would fall off and spook me, but I recently got a set for my 3-year old nephew. This is a go-to source of wonder and excitement for kids, for sure.

Harris: And I should say that we are both staff writers, but you are the one on the space beat.

Koren: Yes, I am The Atlantic's outer space bureau chief.

Harris: (Laughs.) And it's been a big year to be a space reporter, right?

Koren: It has, yeah! We are definitely in this strange new era of exploration. It's been 50 years since the last time human beings have set foot on the moon. 1972 was Apollo 17, the final moon landing.

I think the universe is a lot more familiar to us now, because we've come such a long way. But something that's really different now is that you have commercial companies that are doing the work that was traditionally done by governments. There's SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, and Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos's venture.

And even 10 years ago, if you told someone that SpaceX will be launching people to the International Space Station, they might have laughed at you. It seemed ridiculous, but this is the reality now.

It feels like we're in this strange sci-fi future where space travel is something you can buy. It's a type of vacation. And it's become a status symbol in a way.

But now people can go to space and come back and tell everyone: "Well, I've been to space. I've done something that only about 600 or so people have done in the history of humankind."

Harris: Before private space travel, [when you think of people going to space,] you think of folks like John Glenn or Buzz Aldrin. It's someone with military training who has studied to be an astronaut like their entire life. What does it mean that that's no longer the only type of person that's going into space?

Koren: I think that spaceflight is about to get really, really interesting because the stories that we've heard from spacefarers have come from a specific group of people. These were, more often than not, white men with military backgrounds, trained in a certain workplace culture that values "the Right Stuff." It values being stoic and unafraid in the face of something dangerous.

But in this new era of commercial spaceflight, you're gonna be seeing a wide range of participants. There will hopefully be more women, more people of color, people from underrepresented groups, from different educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, and people with just a wide range of experiences.

Harris: And what are the stories that we've already heard about the experiences in space, right? These professional astronauts, when they come back, what do they say space was like?

Koren: Yeah, there are a few common themes. So people, when these astronauts have gone to space and they've seen Earth from that perspective, they have been overcome with emotion at the beauty of Earth. And it suddenly becomes very clear just how thin our atmosphere is. And that is the only thing that really protects our planet from everything else. They're struck by the fragility of the planet.

And then something else also happens to a lot of astronauts when they go to space—they suddenly feel a sense of connectedness with their fellow human beings down below. Because from space, you can't see any national borders. It's just continents and seas and clouds. And so, many astronauts have come home and described these feelings. And the stories are indicative of a cognitive shift, almost, that is known as "the overview effect."

And I've talked to astronauts who say that they were taken aback by the borderless world and how beautiful it is, how it made them feel like: Why are we at war? Why is there conflict? We're one planet. It made them feel whole.

I've also talked to one academic who did an extensive study of astronauts—and she couldn't reveal this astronaut's name to me—but she said that this person, when he went into space, he took one look out the window and was convinced that humanity was going to destroy itself in some hundred-number of years. And so that experience could be profound and inspiring to one person, but it could also actually make another feel despair.

And what's happening now with space tourism and private spaceflight is that the people going into space now have heard these stories of the overview effect. It's a thing. And so they're expecting to feel a certain way when they go to space. They're expecting to have a profound change on their perspective of the world, and even maybe on their personalities. And so I wonder if we're kind of over-hyping that. And I have talked to a few professional NASA astronauts who agree. They worry that these spaceflight companies and their sales pitches to customers are overselling the effects of the overview effect. It's not a guarantee. It's not a gift from the universe. It's something that a person experiences and feels individually. And your mileage will vary.

Harris: Yeah. And you said these flights are like a couple of minutes. Is that enough time to change you?

Koren: That is a great question. So I talked to Frank White, the author who coined the term "the overview effect." He came up with it when he was flying on a plane—so, not in space, but he had a pretty good view—and he got to thinking: Future generations of humans who might be living and working in space would have this distant view of Earth all the time. And they would have these insights that regular earthbound people lack.

And he was surprised that people who were flying on Blue Origin and having a few minutes of weightlessness were coming home and talking as if they had had this profound experience. They were saying it changed them. And he was surprised because he thought that in order to really get the full hit of the overview effect, you had to spend some time in space. Weeks to months in orbit around Earth, or even all the way out on the moon.

So, that's kind of the literature that we're working with here. And I think that's what's going to change in this era of commercial spaceflight, because you are going to have people who are not like the Apollo astronauts. And they're going to be coming home with different stories and really widening the overview effect that we've become familiar with as a public.

And the future participants won't be restricted by some of the constraints that the professional astronauts were. If you were a professional astronaut and you went to space and you didn't have a great time, I don't think you could say that once you came back from space, because that could potentially affect your future flight assignments. You had to have a certain response on your way home. And so I think we're about to hear some of the most honest stories of spaceflight that we've ever heard before.

Harris: Is the overview effect real? If we only have this limited pool of stories to pull from, is that theory a real thing? Have all of the folks who have gone up to space shared that view?

Koren: That's a great question. And I think the way we talk about the overview effect, it becomes like this mystical, magical thing. Astronauts are revered people. Even when I've interviewed astronauts, when they walk into the room in their full flight suits with all their mission patches on the fabric, you can't help but feel intimidated. Because you think: Wow, this person has seen something that I've never seen.

And so we think of the overview effect and the experience that people should have in space as something that the universe gives us. But it's actually a cultural phenomenon. It has been shaped by a certain group of people working under a certain set of pressures who wanted to make sure that they could fly again.

So they couldn't say anything outrageous. And the overview effect also came out of a certain time and place. Many of these stories come from the midst of the space race, in the middle of the Cold War. That definitely shapes a person's perspective. So I would say that seeing Earth from space is not a one-size-fits-all reaction.

Harris: What are some of the interviews that stuck out because they may have differed from this idea of an overview effect?

Koren: So I spoke with William Shatner about his space flight. He was 90 years old when he took that trip. I recorded some of my conversation with Shatner. And he said it was a really transformational experience, but not for the reasons that we're used to hearing.

Harris: So you got to talk to Captain Kirk?

Koren: I did, yes! I will admit: I have never seen Star Trek before.

Harris: So we have a space reporter who's never seen Star Trek?

Koren: (Laughs.) I haven't. But you've seen it, right?

Harris: I have seen Star Trek. It was playing pretty frequently on our TVs when I was a kid. My dad rarely missed episodes or reruns. [But] for people like Marina who don't know who Captain Kirk is: He's the captain of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek in the 1960s. The original captain. And he was this really optimistic figure—this really sort of classical hero. [But] what did Shatner have to say about going to space? Actually being there?

Koren: When I talked to him, it was about a year after his experience, and the flight was still really fresh in his mind. I asked him how he was feeling a year out, and he dove right into a Shatner-esque monologue about going to space.

William Shatner: We had emerged from the film of air that surrounds the Earth, and we're weightless. I got out of my five-point harness and made my way to the window. I saw a wake of air. Like a submarine might leave in the water.

And then I looked to my right, which was facing space. When I looked up there, I saw nothing but blank, palpable space. The blackness was so overwhelming. My immediate thought was: My God, that's death.

And then I looked back, and I could see with great clarity the beginning of the circumference line of the earth. The color of the desert that I had just left, which was beige. The whiteness of the clouds. The blueness of the air. And those three colors in deference to the blackness—I was overwhelmed by the sense of death and overwhelmed by the sense-nurturing by the Earth.

Koren: When Shatner came back from his quick trip to space, he's standing outside the capsule; there's other people around him. Jeff Bezos is there. Bezos is popping champagne like a frat boy. And Shatner is just standing there, super still.

Shatner: I didn't know what I was feeling, but I was weeping, and I didn't know why. Everybody else was celebrating. It took me a couple of hours sitting by myself to understand that what I was feeling was grief. And the grief for the Earth.

Koren: He is overcome with emotion. He is weeping, and then he starts saying how he was just taken aback by the blackness of space, the ugliness of space, how it looked like death.

So Shatner was super, super honest about his experience. And when I talked to him, he said that that grief was still with him. Earth was beautiful and gleaming and delicate from that perspective, but it just reminded him of everything that's wrong on the ground and particularly made him think about how unstoppable climate change feels.

And so for him, this was in many ways a negative experience. And Shatner was starting to cry when we were talking about it, because the experience is so fresh in his mind and nothing about climate change and the prognosis there has really changed in the last year since he went to space. So that grief was still with him.

Harris: How was his experience different from what he may have imagined that he would feel after going up to space?

Koren: He told me that he expected to see Earth and just be reminded of how beautiful and wonderful this planet is. I think he expected it to be reaffirming in a positive way. And it's interesting to think of this man who played a character who was this really big space optimist in real life going to space, and his initial emotional reaction to that is grief and sadness and all kinds of negative emotion.

I think what Shatner shares with other astronauts is: When people have gone to space, they have felt an overwhelming desire to take care of the planet. You really see that this is all there is. This is all we know, at least. And if this is our one home on this floating ball of rock in the void, then we should take care of it.

And so, you know, there's a case to be made that the more people go up into space, that feeling will trickle down and lead to some type of meaningful improvement on Earth.

Harris: If somebody gives you a ticket on a $20 million flight, you're not gonna be able to say, "Well, that wasn't exactly what I expected it to be." But Shatner was able to do something different. Why was his experience different from others who have been up to space and came back down and just said, "Oh, it was great. Thanks, Jeff Bezos, for putting me on this flight"?

Koren: I mean, William Shatner is William Shatner, right? He was 90 years old during his space flight. He's Captain Kirk. I think he doesn't owe Jeff Bezos anything. Yes, Bezos comped his ticket, and that's lovely. But someone like William Shatner going into space can come back and say what they want, because the public looks at them in a different way. If a very wealthy person decides to comp the tickets for an electrician [or] for a nurse, and they go up and come down, can they speak their minds very freely? I don't know.

Harris: Say a billionaire called you up and was like: "Hey, Marina, love your stories. You wanna go to space?" Would you go if you got the opportunity?

Koren: Oh man, well, there would be some conversation about journalistic ethics. But would I ever go to space? I'm gonna say no.

Harris: Really?

Koren: Because spaceflight is risky. You never know what might happen, what could happen. I don't wanna die on the job not having filed my story. Like, if something happens—if I'm somehow incapacitated, I come back and I can't write the story—that will haunt me. (Laughs.)

Planes freak me out. I still can't believe that we can get planes off the ground and land them back in one piece. And, you know, space is not at that level yet, but maybe someday it will be. And that's pretty wild to think about.

Harris: Actually, to that point, thousands of people fly at high altitudes every day. Do you think that there's a future where spaceflight is going to feel as sort of commonplace as taking a flight to LaGuardia?

Koren: I think that future is possible. I think what we have to be careful about is making too many promises. If you listen to Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos talk about spaceflight right now, they're suggesting that this future is happening, like, next week. And I don't think that future will happen that quickly. It's true that more people than before are going to have the opportunity to go to space now. I'm not sure if in my lifetime there are going to be spaceships full of people going to the moon.

I mean, there might be. SpaceX and Elon Musk are working really, really hard to make that future reality. SpaceX's next-generation moon rocket could reach orbit as early as next year. SpaceX has already sold tickets to people to go on a trip around the moon. These things are happening. How quickly they become reality, I don't know. Maybe 50 years from now when we're a hundred years out from the Apollo-program anniversary, maybe it will feel a bit more mundane, just like a plane ride.

Harris: Is some of the mystique fading from space, or space travel? Are we sort of becoming desensitized to space travel? Those first couple of commercial flights, it was all 24-hour news cycle. They broadcast all of them. But that sort of slowed down. Are we sort of becoming desensitized to the awe and wonder of space travel?

Koren: I think that's possible. I think of the Earthrise picture taken by the Apollo 8 crew in 1968. That picture was mind-blowing to people. They'd never seen Earth like this before. Fifty years later, I think our brains are so spoiled by special effects that I do wonder if the sight of Earth from space is going to be that shocking. Especially when you have so many people going into orbit and coming back and posting on Instagram like: "Here's what it looks like." I do wonder if we've seen so much incredible CGI, if our modern brains might be less impressed by the view than maybe people were in the 1960s. But I also don't know if that's just some dumb millennial take.

Harris: It's like if somebody goes up, and they're like: "This isn't what Interstellar looked like."

Koren: (Laughs.) "Where's the wormhole?"

Harris: "I was expecting a wormhole." And all they see is, as Shatner said, this great blackness of space.

Beer Hops May Fend Off Alzheimer's
Is this article about Pharma?
Though too much alcohol may damage your short-term memory, new research says the aromatic hops in your favorite beer may stave off some of the negative effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Is this article about Biopharma Industry?


**Submission Statement When developing treatment solutions for osteoarhritic joint, it is very imporant to keep in mind that there is chronic inflammation in this joint which may make treatment less effective and which leads to degradation in joint structure. In this study, scientists showed that engineered nasal cartilage has good anti-inflammatory ability. In clinical study on 2 young adults, who had medial osteoarthritis of knee( Kellgren and Lawrence grades 3 and 4 ) and who were otherwise considered for unicondylar knee arthroplasty . No adverse reactions were recorded, and patients reported reduced pain as well as improved joint function and life quality 14 months after surgery. **

submitted by /u/Dilicidum
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Why did China relax its Covid policy – and should we be worried?
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • After long pursing a zero-Covid policy, China has relaxed many restrictions including quarantine rules for travellers.

After long pursuing a strict zero-Covid regime, restrictions have been lifted in China as new variants emerge

After long pursing a zero-Covid policy, China has relaxed many restrictions including quarantine rules for travellers. But some experts have raised concerns the U-turn may cause problems. We take a look at why.

What has happened in China?

Continue reading…

A study conducted by researchers from the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin revealed the evolution of ossification patterns in the backbones of four-legged vertebrates. Antoine Verrière and his colleagues were able to reconstruct the patterns of how the bones in the vertebral column formed in the ancestor to all land vertebrates based on a large dataset of modern and fossil vertebrates with the inclusion of rare new data from the 300-million-year-old reptile Mesosaurus tenuidens. The results are published this week in Scientific Reports.

A study conducted by researchers from the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin revealed the evolution of ossification patterns in the backbones of four-legged vertebrates. Antoine Verrière and his colleagues were able to reconstruct the patterns of how the bones in the vertebral column formed in the ancestor to all land vertebrates based on a large dataset of modern and fossil vertebrates with the inclusion of rare new data from the 300-million-year-old reptile Mesosaurus tenuidens. The results are published this week in Scientific Reports.


Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35690-8

Binary nanoparticle superlattices exhibit different collective optical, magnetic, and electronic properties. Here, the authors develop an efficient global optimization algorithm for the discovery of periodic 2D architectures forming at fluid interfaces.

Immune assault may explain loss of smell in long COVID
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
serious person smells orange

An ongoing immune assault on olfactory nerve cells and an associated decline in the number of those cells may explain why some people fail to recover their sense of smell after COVID-19.

The finding, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, provides an important insight into a vexing problem that has plagued millions who have not fully recovered their sense of smell after COVID-19.

While focusing on the loss smell, the finding also sheds light on the possible underlying causes of other long COVID-19 symptoms—including generalized fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog—that similar biological mechanism might trigger.

"One of the first symptoms that has typically been associated with COVID-19 infection is

loss of smell

," says senior author Bradley Goldstein, associate professor in the head and neck surgery and communication sciences department and the neurobiology department at Duke University.

"Fortunately, many people who have an altered sense of smell during the acute phase of viral infection will recover smell within the next one to two weeks, but some do not," Goldstein says. "We need to better understand why this subset of people will go on to have persistent smell loss for months to years after being infected with SARS-CoV2."

In the study, Goldstein and colleagues analyzed olfactory epithelial samples collected from 24 biopsies, including nine patients suffering from long-term smell loss following COVID-19.

This biopsy-based approach—using sophisticated single-cell analyses in collaboration with Sandeep Datta of Harvard University—revealed widespread infiltration of T-cells engaged in an inflammatory response in the olfactory epithelium, the tissue in the nose where smell nerve cells are located. This unique inflammation process persisted despite the absence of detectable SARS-CoV-2 levels.

Additionally, the number of olfactory sensory neurons were diminished, possibly due to damage of the delicate tissue from the ongoing inflammation.

"The findings are striking," Goldstein says. "It's almost resembling a sort of autoimmune-like process in the nose."

Goldstein says learning what sites are damaged and what cell types are involved is a key step toward beginning to design treatments. He says the researchers were encouraged that neurons appeared to maintain some ability to repair even after the long-term immune onslaught.

"We are hopeful that modulating the abnormal immune response or repair processes within the nose of these patients could help to at least partially restore a sense of smell," Goldstein says, noting this work is currently underway in his lab.

He says the findings from the study could also inform additional research into other long-COVID-19 symptoms that might be undergoing similar inflammatory processes.

Additional coauthors are from the University of California, San Diego; Harvard University; and Duke. The National Institutes of Health and the Duke Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences funded the work.

Source: Duke University

The post Immune assault may explain loss of smell in long COVID appeared first on Futurity.


To see what the future might look like it is often helpful to study our history. This is what I will do in this article. I retrace the brief history of computers and artificial intelligence to see what we can expect for the future.

How Did We Get Here?

How rapidly the world has changed becomes clear by how even quite recent computer technology feels ancient to us today. Mobile phones in the '90s were big bricks with tiny green displays. Two decades before that the main storage for computers was punch cards.

In a short period computers evolved so quickly and became such an integral part of our daily lives that it is easy to forget how recent this technology is. The first digital computers were only invented about eight decades ago, as the timeline shows.

history of artificial intelligence computer timeline

Since the early days of this history, some computer scientists have strived to make machines as intelligent as humans. The next timeline shows some of the notable artificial intelligence systems and describes what they were capable of.

The first system I mention is the Theseus. It was built by Claude Shannon in 1950 and was a remote-controlled mouse that was able to find its way out of a labyrinth and could remember its course.1 In seven decades the abilities of artificial intelligence have come a long way.

history of artificial intelligence computer timeline

Language and Image Recognition Capabilities of AI Systems Are Now Comparable to Those of Humans

The language and image recognition capabilities of AI systems have developed very rapidly.

The chart shows how we got here by zooming into the last two decades of AI development. The plotted data stems from a number of tests in which human and AI performance were evaluated in five different domains, from handwriting recognition to language understanding.

Within each of the five domains the initial performance of the AI system is set to -100, and human performance in these tests is used as a baseline that is set to zero. This means that when the model's performance crosses the zero line is when the AI system scored more points in the relevant test than the humans who did in the same test.2

Just 10 years ago, no machine could reliably provide language or image recognition at a human level. But, as the chart shows, AI systems have become steadily more capable and are now beating humans in tests in all these domains.

Outside of these standardized tests the performance of these AIs is mixed. In some real-world cases these systems are still performing much worse than humans. On the other hand, some implementations of such AI systems are already so cheap that they are available on the phone in your pocket: image recognition categorizes your photos and speech recognition transcribes what you dictate.

From Image Recognition to Image Generation

The previous chart showed the rapid advances in the perceptive abilities of artificial intelligence. AI systems have also become much more capable of generating images.

This series of nine images shows the development over the last nine years. None of the people in these images exist; all of them were generated by an AI system.

The series begins with an image from 2014 in the top left, a primitive image of a pixelated face in black and white. As the first image in the second row shows, just three years later AI systems were already able to generate images that were hard to differentiate from a photograph.

In recent years, the capability of AI systems has become much more impressive still. While the early systems focused on generating images of faces, these newer models broadened their capabilities to text-to-image generation based on almost any prompt. The image in the bottom right shows that even the most challenging prompts—such as "A Pomeranian is sitting on the King's throne wearing a crown. Two tiger soldiers are standing next to the throne"—are turned into photorealistic images within seconds.4

Language Recognition and Production Is Developing Fast

Just as striking as the advances of image-generating AIs is the rapid development of systems that parse and respond to human language.

Shown in the image are examples from an AI system developed by Google called PaLM. In these six examples, the system was asked to explain six different jokes. I find the explanation in the bottom right particularly remarkable: the AI explains an anti-joke that is specifically meant to confuse the listener.

AIs that produce language have entered our world in many ways over the last few years. Emails get auto-completed, massive amounts of online texts get translated, videos get automatically transcribed, school children use language models to do their homework, reports get auto-generated, and media outlets publish AI-generated journalism.

AI systems are not yet able to produce long, coherent texts. In the future, we will see whether the recent developments will slow down—or even end—or whether we will one day read a bestselling novel written by an AI.

Where We Are Now: AI Is Here

These rapid advances in AI capabilities have made it possible to use machines in a wide range of new domains:

When you book a flight, it is often an artificial intelligence, and no longer a human, that decides what you pay. When you get to the airport, it is an AI system that monitors what you do at the airport. And once you are on the plane, an AI system assists the pilot in flying you to your destination.

AI systems also increasingly determine whether you get a loan, are eligible for welfare, or get hired for a particular job. Increasingly they help determine who gets released from jail.

Several governments are purchasing autonomous weapons systems for warfare, and some are using AI systems for surveillance and oppression.

AI systems help to program the software you use and translate the texts you read. Virtual assistants, operated by speech recognition, have entered many households over the last decade. Now self-driving cars are becoming a reality.

In the last few years, AI systems helped to make progress on some of the hardest problems in science.

Large AIs called recommender systems determine what you see on social media, which products are shown to you in online shops, and what gets recommended to you on YouTube. Increasingly they are not just recommending the media we consume, but based on their capacity to generate images and texts, they are also creating the media we consume.

Artificial intelligence is no longer a technology of the future; AI is here, and much of what is reality now would have looked like sci-fi just recently. It is a technology that already impacts all of us, and the list above includes just a few of its many applications.

The wide range of listed applications makes clear that this is a very general technology that can be used by people for some extremely good goals—and some extraordinarily bad ones, too. For such 'dual use technologies', it is important that all of us develop an understanding of what is happening and how we want the technology to be used.

Just two decades ago the world was very different. What might AI technology be capable of in the future?

What Is Next?

The AI systems that we just considered are the result of decades of steady advances in AI technology.

The big chart below brings this history over the last eight decades into perspective. It is based on the dataset produced by Jaime Sevilla and colleagues.7

Each small circle in this chart represents one AI system. The circle's position on the horizontal axis indicates when the AI system was built, and its position on the vertical axis shows the amount of computation that was used to train the particular AI system.

Training computation is measured in floating point operations, or FLOP for short. One FLOP is equivalent to one addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division of two decimal numbers.

All AI systems that rely on machine learning need to be trained, and in these systems training computation is one of the three fundamental factors that are driving the capabilities of the system. The other two factors are the algorithms and the input data used for the training. The visualization shows that as training computation has increased, AI systems have become more and more powerful.

The timeline goes back to the 1940s, the very beginning of electronic computers. The first shown AI system is 'Theseus', Claude Shannon's robotic mouse from 1950 that I mentioned at the beginning. Towards the other end of the timeline you find AI systems like DALL-E and PaLM, whose abilities to produce photorealistic images and interpret and generate language we have just seen. They are among the AI systems that used the largest amount of training computation to date.

The training computation is plotted on a logarithmic scale, so that from each grid-line to the next it shows a 100-fold increase. This long-run perspective shows a continuous increase. For the first six decades, training computation increased in line with Moore's Law, doubling roughly every 20 months. Since about 2010 this exponential growth has sped up further, to a doubling time of just about 6 months. That is an astonishingly fast rate of growth.8

The fast doubling times have accrued to large increases. PaLM's training computation was 2.5 billion petaFLOP, more than 5 million times larger than that of AlexNet, the AI with the largest training computation just 10 years earlier.9

Scale-up was already exponential and has sped up substantially over the past decade. What can we learn from this historical development for the future of AI?

Studying the Long-Run Trends to Predict the Future of AI

AI researchers study these long-term trends to see what is possible in the future.11

Perhaps the most widely discussed study of this kind was published by AI researcher Ajeya Cotra. She studied the increase in training computation to ask at what point in time the computation to train an AI system could match that of the human brain. The idea is that at this point the AI system would match the capabilities of a human brain. In her latest update, Cotra estimated a 50% probability that such "transformative AI" will be developed by the year 2040, less than two decades from now.12

In a related article, I discuss what transformative AI would mean for the world. In short, the idea is that such an AI system would be powerful enough to bring the world into a 'qualitatively different future'. It could lead to a change at the scale of the two earlier major transformations in human history, the agricultural and industrial revolutions. It would certainly represent the most important global change in our lifetimes.

Cotra's work is particularly relevant in this context as she based her forecast on the kind of historical long-run trend of training computation that we just studied. But it is worth noting that other forecasters who rely on different considerations arrive at broadly similar conclusions. As I show in my article on AI timelines, many AI experts believe that there is a real chance that human-level artificial intelligence will be developed within the next decades, and some believe that it will exist much sooner.

Building a Public Resource to Enable the Necessary Public Conversation

Computers and artificial intelligence have changed our world immensely, but we are still at the early stages of this history. Because this technology feels so familiar, it is easy to forget that all of these technologies that we interact with are very recent innovations, and that most profound changes are yet to come.

Artificial intelligence has already changed what we see, what we know, and what we do. And this is despite the fact that this technology has had only a brief history.

There are no signs that these trends are hitting any limits anytime soon. To the contrary, particularly over the course of the last decade, the fundamental trends have accelerated: investments in AI technology have rapidly increased, and the doubling time of training computation has shortened to just six months.

All major technological innovations lead to a range of positive and negative consequences. This is already true of artificial intelligence. As this technology becomes more and more powerful, we should expect its impact to become greater still.

Because of the importance of AI, we should all be able to form an opinion on where this technology is heading and to understand how this development is changing our world. For this purpose, we are building a repository of AI-related metrics, which you can find on

We are still in the early stages of this history and much of what will become possible is yet to come. A technological development as powerful as this should be at the center of our attention. Little might be as important for how the future of our world—and the future of our lives—will play out.

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my colleagues Natasha Ahuja, Daniel Bachler, Julia Broden, Charlie Giattino, Bastian Herre, Edouard Mathieu, and Ike Saunders for their helpful comments to drafts of this essay and their contributions in preparing the visualizations.

This article was originally published on Our World in Data and has been republished here under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image Credit: DeepMind / Unsplash

Is this article about Animals?
Though humans, along with other vertebrate and invertebrate organisms, don't photosynthesize, we're definitely the downstream beneficiaries of the life forms that do. Phototrophic organisms at the bottom of the food chain convert abundant sunlight into the energy that ultimately powers all other life.

If aliens contact humanity, who decides what we do next?

Scientists setting up 'post-detection hub' in Scotland are concerned humans would react 'like headless chickens'

The moment has been imagined a thousand times. As astronomers comb the cosmos with their powerful telescopes, they spot something that makes them gasp. Amid the feeble rays from distant galaxies lies a weak but persistent signal: a message from an advanced civilisation.

It would be a transformative event for humankind, one the world's nations are surely prepared for. Or are they? "Look at the mess we made when Covid hit. We'd be like headless chickens," says Dr John Elliott, a computational linguist at the University of St Andrews. "We cannot afford to be ill-prepared, scientifically, socially, and politically rudderless, for an event that could happen at any time and which we cannot afford to mismanage."

Continue reading…

Lack of abortion access linked to suicide risk
Is this article about Health?
cardboard sign says "pro-choice is pro-life"

New findings link lack of access to abortion and suicide risk among women of reproductive age.

When the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision came down in June, overturning the right to abortion in the United States that Roe v. Wade had bestowed in 1973, conversations about access to reproductive care took on a renewed urgency.

Now, findings published in JAMA Psychiatry show that restricting abortion access is linked to increased suicide risk for women of reproductive age. They did not find the same association for older women or death due to motor vehicle accidents.

"Stress is a key contributor to mental health burden and a major driver of increased suicide risk," says child-adolescent psychiatrist and neuroscientist Ran Barzilay of the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"We found that this particular stressor—restriction to abortion—affects women of a specific age in a specific cause of death, which is suicide. That's the 10,000-foot view."

The study emerged after Barzilay, Jonathan Zandberg of the Wharton School, and Rebecca Waller of the psychology department discovered an overlap in their research interests. Zandberg studies how restrictions to reproductive care affect gender inequality, Barzilay, the factors that affect a person's mental health trajectory and suicide risk. Waller focuses on environmental stressors that influence parents and, in turn, child development. Data scientist Elina Visoki from Barzilay's lab also contributed to this research.

Zandberg's prior work had shown that more restricted access to reproductive care creates a costly trade-off for women's career aspirations and their family formation choices. The researchers decided to examine other aspects of this dynamic, looking at the mental health implications of enforcing strict reproductive rights and more specifically, risk of suicide, the third leading cause of death for 25- to 44-year-olds in the United States.

They conducted what's called a difference-in-differences analysis, using state-level data from 1974 through 2016 and covering the entire population of adult women during that time. "We constructed three indices that measure access to reproductive care by looking at the enforcement of state-level legislation," Zandberg says. "Every time a state enforced a law that was related to reproductive care, we incorporated it into the index." Then, among women of reproductive age, they analyzed suicide rates before and after the laws took effect, comparing those numbers to broad suicide trends and to rates in places without such restrictions.

"Comparatively, women who experienced the shock of this type of restrictive legislation had a significant increase in suicide rate," Zandberg says.

Next, the researchers examined whether the finding was specific to women of reproductive age or could be observed in other populations. As a comparison, they ran the same analysis for all 45- to 64-year-old women between 1974 and 2016. They did not find any effect. Finally, they examined another common cause of death, motor vehicle death rates, and saw no effect. Controlling for potential confounders like the economy and political climate did not change the results.

Though the findings do not prove that restricting abortion access caused suicide rates to increase, the researchers say the analytic approach is one of the most rigorous methods to enable causal inference. "This association is robust—and it has nothing to do with politics," Barzilay says. "It's all backed by the data."

There are limitations to these conclusions, including the fact that the researchers did not have access to data about the experiences or mental health of individual women. In other words, "we're looking at the connection between summary data about causes of death at the state level and policy and politics over many decades. Yet, every death represents an individual moment of tragedy," Waller says. "So, there's clearly an awful lot more that we need to understand about what these findings mean for individual suicide risk."

Yet even with the limitations, the researchers say the findings have clinical, policy, and ethical implications. For one, recognizing this link can change how physicians and other health care providers approach suicide risk classification in women of reproductive age. Beyond that, it points to a need for better suicide-prevention policies and adds hard data to the ethical debate about abortion access.

Big picture, the research team says it's important to have insight into current trends to plan for future scenarios in which partial restrictions morph into full-fledged restrictions or even abortion criminalization. "Whatever your view is on all of this, it's all over the news. It's everywhere," Waller says. "The women internalizing the stories they hear are the ones who these restrictions will affect the most."

Funding for this research came from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Lifespan Brain Institute of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Source: Penn

The post Lack of abortion access linked to suicide risk appeared first on Futurity.

The End of the Silicon Valley Myth
Is this article about Business?

Updated on December 29, 2022, at 12:10 p.m.

The dramatic, multidimensional implosion of Meta; the nuclear train wreck of Elon Musk's Twitter; the momentous labor uprising against Amazon—it wasn't just an unusually disastrous year for America's biggest tech companies. It was a reckoning.

The tech giants that have shaped our lives, online and off, over the course of the 21st century have at last hit a wall. Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta, and Apple all saw their valuations fall, sometimes precipitously. Many slashed their workforces; at least 120,000 tech workers lost their jobs this year. The myth of the genius founder, which insulated so many of these giants from so much criticism for so long, was debunked before our eyes.

These companies, launched with promises to connect the world, to think different, to make information free to all, to democratize technology, have spent much of the past decade making the sorts of moves that large corporations trying to grow ever larger have historically made—embracing profit over safety, market expansion over product integrity, and rent seeking over innovation—but at much greater scale, speed, and impact. Now, ruled by monopolies, marred by toxicity, and over-reliant on precarious labor, Silicon Valley looks like it's finally run hard up into its limits.

Call it the improbable paradox of the modern tech giant. Some of the most powerful, profitable, and expansive companies in human history—associated at least nominally with wide-ranging innovation—are stuck. They're failing utterly to create the futures they've long advertised, or even to maintain the versions they were able to muster. Having scaled to immense size, they're unable or unwilling to manage the digital communities they've built. They're paralyzed when it comes to product development and reduced to monopolistic practices such as charging rents and copying or buying up smaller competitors. Antitrust investigations beckon. Their policies tend to please no one; it's a common refrain that antipathy toward Big Tech companies is one of the few truly bipartisan issues.

You can just feel it, the cumulative weight of this stagnation, in the tech that most of us encounter every day. The act of scrolling past the same dumb ad to peer at the same bad news on the same glass screen on the same social network: This is the stuck future. There is a sense that we have reached the end of the internet, and no one wants to be left holding the bag.

How these companies respond to this troubled new era will have major repercussions. This is why throughout 2022, we've been pitched a mishmash of virtual- and augmented-reality projects and "metaverse" concepts. It's why the tech giants that preside over today's toxic online communities are now promising to force them onto our faces. It's why there's brewing resentment among certain tech-industry heavyweights who believe they've seen their visions stymied. It's why others are jumping ship, leaving massive planks of online infrastructure open to acquisition and further disarray.

There's a palpable exhaustion with the whole enterprise, with the men who set out to build the future or at least get rich, and who accomplished only one and a half of those things.

The most obvious example of tech's quagmire, of course, is Twitter. From his overinflated bid to buy the company for a price that doubled as a weed joke to his catastrophic tenure as CEO, Elon Musk and his tortured dalliance with the social network was the most-watched tech saga of the year. By November, Musk had slashed half the staff and reinstated some of the site's most controversial banned users, including the neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin and former President Donald Trump. He used his new perch to promote right-wing conspiracies, to mock nonbinary people and Anthony Fauci, and to suspend journalists. Advertisers balked and paused spending on the platform. Prominent users sent farewell tweets. Now, at the end of the year, amid lawsuits, potential Federal Trade Commission and European Union law violations, a shriveled staff, and a mounting pile of unpaid bills, Twitter's future is very much in question.

But the relentless Musk/Twitter drama shouldn't overshadow the conditions that allowed it to erupt in the first place: The platform has been in a state of arrested development for a long time. It has struggled to add users and to keep toxic content, abusive accounts, and disinformation off its platform. It's popular among a subset of people—especially comedians, journalists, and politicians—but it hasn't turned a profit since 2019, and even then, profit-turning was a rarity. It's posted a loss in eight of the past 10 years.

Twitter has always presented itself as a crucial online public square. If that were the case, why was Twitter's board so quick to hand over the keys to a notoriously thin-skinned and often malicious troll? The answer is as simple as it is cynical: "The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders," Bret Taylor, Twitter's independent board chair, said in a press release. The money saw the writing on the wall and got out while the getting was good. They knew what a mess Twitter was and perhaps even had the sense, like many of us do, that the era of social media may be ending altogether.

The company, we were reminded this year, has long been dysfunctional. In August, when Twitter's former head of security, Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, submitted a whistleblower complaint alleging major vulnerabilities at the company, he described a security culture so lax that at any given time, an employee could access a U.S. senator's account with no oversight. Foreign-intelligence agents, he claimed, could and had infiltrated Twitter's inner ranks with ease. Zatko blamed Twitter's executives for placing profit over safety and for running, as he said, "a company that was managed by risk and by crises, instead of one that manages risk and crises."

The revelations echoed those that wracked Facebook the year before, when Frances Haugen alleged that the world's largest social-media network had, among other things, allowed regimes to use the platform to fan ethnic violence.

The big social networks are stuck. And there is little profit incentive to get them unstuck. That, after all, would require investing heavily in content moderators, empowering trust and safety teams, and penalizing malicious viral content that brings in huge traffic. Instead, Musk's Twitter opted to no longer enforce a policy against COVID misinformation, or Facebook's "cross-check" system that shielded valuable high-profile users from moderation. Rather than drafting and implementing robust policies to address toxicity, harassment, and user security, the networks' leadership has opted, essentially, to ignore the problems. Twitter's founder Jack Dorsey up and bailed, first as CEO in the fall of 2021, then from the company's board altogether this spring.

Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has apparently become so disillusioned with reality that he decided to try to invent a new one, and to shovel us all into it. For example: When Meta held its Connect conference in October to showcase its progress on the metaverse, the stars of the show were, well, legs. That lone syllable quickly became a comic shorthand for the entire event: Meta's big breakthrough, after a year and $15 billion spent trying to build its metaverse, was that its pixelated cartoon avatars had pixelated appendages now. (The mockery that followed was especially acute after it turned out that Meta had even faked the legs.) The bluster did accomplish what the company's metaverse was built to do in the first place, though: distract us from the fact that Facebook's user growth has slowed to a crawl, that the platform is losing ground to TikTok, and that it's mired in controversy and moderation woes. With each passing day, Facebook's metaverse aspirations look more like a Hail Mary fantasy, a beleaguered CEO's escape attempt to a 3-D virtual world where he might leave behind the misery of his dull 2-D version.

The company has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in value this year. It laid off more than 11,000 people, or 13 percent of its staff, in November.

It's not just social media that's in decline, already over, or worse.

In September, when Apple held its annual iPhone-launch event, few were surprised when its newest models were nearly identical to the past dozen or so. And just weeks before, news broke that the Department of Justice was considering a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant for anticompetitive practices. As its mighty iPhone sales figures have plateaued and its business has grown more conservative—it hasn't released a culturally significant new product line since 2016's AirPods—Apple has begun to embrace advertising.

Over the summer, Apple began allowing companies to buy ads on the front page of the App Store. In October, reports surfaced that Apple was exploring ads for its TV+ service too. "Apple Is an Ad Company Now," Wired declared. Meanwhile, the company is squeezing more out of the developers who rely on the App Store to distribute their work, reaping profits at a margin that in 2019 were alleged to be an eye-watering 78 percent.

But Apple isn't alone in its monopoly-growth pangs. Google continues to be the world's largest ad company and rakes in nearly 60 percent of its business from search listings. It makes money from its YouTube ads and cloud business too, but its fundamentals remain largely the same as a decade ago. Yet as Google has consolidated its monopoly, the quality of its flagship search product has gotten worse. Result pages are cluttered with ads that must be scrolled through in order to find the "'organic"' items, and there's reason to think the quality of the results has gotten worse over time as well. (Internet users delighted in sharing reports that young people are turning to TikTok and Instagram instead of Google to search the web.) YouTube, meanwhile, is facing many of the same policy quagmires as Facebook and Twitter, especially when it comes to content moderation—and similarly failing to meaningfully address them.

[Read: The open secret of Google Search]

Like Apple, as its core product—search—has been seeing revenues level off for a while now, Google has behaved less like the tech innovator of its mythology and more like a monopoly of world-swallowing corporations past. It has thrown its weight around to ensure that it dominates the digital-ad marketplace and turned further toward Goliath-scale rent seeking, both in its own app store, Google Play, and in the expansion of its Cloud business. As a result, Google, too, is facing antitrust action from the Department of Justice—little surprise, given that it controls the world's dominant search engine, web browser, and mobile-device operating system all at once. Google's quest for new revenue streams has led it to a place where so many of the once-idealistic tech giants seem to have wound up—at the Department of Defense. In December, the Pentagon announced that it had extended a $9 billion DOD contract to Google—along with Oracle, Amazon, and Microsoft—to help build a "tactical cloud."

Keep in mind that Amazon makes the bulk of its profits—when it turns them—from its Amazon Web Services cloud-internet business. Despite Amazon's behemoth size and e-commerce imprint, its margins on its retail business are thin—last quarter, it logged a loss. Amazon has expanded relentlessly on the back of AWS profits, low consumer prices, and what amounts to systematic worker exploitation. Now that growing numbers of its workers across the nation are standing up and organizing, its equation is in jeopardy. It's little surprise that the company has opposed the Amazon Labor Union and continues to contest the result of warehouse workers' historic vote last April to unionize at a Staten Island fulfillment center. In November, in response to a National Labor Relations Board complaint, a federal court ordered Amazon to cease and desist its practice of "firing employees for protected activities."

Some of Amazon's most famous projects and products also hit spectacular walls this year. Back in March, we learned that Amazon's prototype delivery drones kept crashing in test flights; one even started a forest fire in Oregon. Alexa, Amazon's ubiquitous virtual assistant, is apparently losing billions of dollars a quarter—enough to be deemed a "colossal failure" by a former employee—and was the division hit hardest when the company began slashing thousands of jobs this past fall. (Amazon's CEO announced that more job cuts were coming in 2023 too.)

Aside from renting out more access to its web infrastructure, Amazon's road to perpetually expanding profits lies in opening more fulfillment centers and working more employees to the bone using sophisticated and punitive surveillance and productivity systems—a proposition that is running up against a rising labor movement, a tight employment market, and a public that supports union drives at Amazon by overwhelming margins.

What a grim outcome for the internet, where the possibilities were once believed to be endless and where users were promised an infinite spectrum of possibility to indulge their creativity, build robust communities, and find their best expression, even when they could not do so in the real world. Big Tech, of course, never predicated its business models on enabling any of that, though its advertising and sloganeering may have suggested otherwise. Rather, companies' ambitions were always focused on being the biggest: having the most users, selling the most devices, locking the most people into their walled gardens and ecosystems. The stuckness we're seeing is the result of some of the most ambitious companies of our generation succeeding wildly yet having no vision beyond scale—no serious interest in engaging the civic and social dimensions of their projects.

So it's fitting that Elon Musk has come to dominate the conversation about the tech sector at the moment it's most sharply fallen short of its lofty promises. Silicon Valley has always been built on the mythology of the heroic founder, and few come more thoroughly shrouded in myth than Musk—and this was a year in which that mythology unraveled.

Musk was once the actual inspiration for the cinematic Iron Man: He was believed by many to be a superhero capable of creating electric cars, sending rockets to Mars, and delivering the future to all of us. Now he's the thrashing, bullheaded avatar of Big Tech in the 2020s: unfathomably rich and powerful but also lodged in the mud, amplifying toxicity and discord, and at distinct risk of entering a sustained decline.

Or take Elizabeth Holmes, whose unicorn start-up Theranos was once a darling of Silicon Valley, and who was sentenced in November to more than 11 years in prison for defrauding investors about her company's technology, which never worked. Or Sam Bankman-Fried, the erstwhile crypto wunderkind and champion of effective altruists who was embraced by the Democratic Party, and who promised to help usher in the age of cryptocurrency with his exchange, FTX, and to work to improve the lives of future humans everywhere. He ends the year bankrupt, out on bond, and accused of multiple counts of fraud. Customers may never get back the money they entrusted to Bankman-Fried's collapsed exchange. So perhaps it's not just Big Tech but the very model that engendered it—in which a visionary is entrusted with millions to invent the future, with scant oversight—that has hit a wall.

[Read: Sam Bankman-Fried got what he wanted]

There's an air of irony that, as we close out the year, the latest buzzing industry trend is automated image and text generation. Tools such as OpenAI's DALL-E and ChatGPT use huge neural networks to try to assemble new-looking products from massive expanses of old data that has been vacuumed up from the internet as Big Tech has made and managed it—images, articles, and posts created in service of feeding the platform incentives of the Web 2.0 monopolies.

It's telling to see who is most excited about these tools: founders and investors. Some of the images have gone viral, but there's already an accompanying weariness and plenty of pushback from working artists and illustrators. And no matter how wondrous, it's seemingly only a matter of time before these platforms get bought or cloned by the giants, or turned into some onerous subscription-fee service that will steamroll the human creators of the source material. This is Silicon Valley again making a show of preparing to devour its own tail.

Somewhere in here, Big Tech's AI generators seem to be insisting, amid the last internet we spoiled, that there has to be something new. Something we can use. They shouldn't be so certain.

This article has been updated to reflect that Sam Bankman-Fried has been released from federal custody on bond.

How China Is Using Vladimir Putin

Back in the 1960s, China and Russia squandered their chance to defeat the West when they became bitter rivals during the Cold War. Today, their presidents—who are expected to confer again this week—are trying to correct that fateful error. The world's most powerful autocracies have joined forces for an assault on the liberal order led by the United States and its allies—a threat made all too real when Russia invaded democratic Ukraine in February with Chinese support. Authoritarianism was again on the march, and the world's major democracies faced a grave challenge to their unity and resolve.

As 2022 has unfolded and the true nature of the Russia-China relationship has become more apparent, the danger it poses seems less acute. What has emerged is nothing like an axis of autocrats, but a lopsided partnership in which the terms are defined by its alpha member, Xi Jinping, primarily to serve China's interests. This tells us a lot about the foreign-policy principles of China's leaders and how those ideas may hamper Beijing's quest to reshape the world order.

Historically, relations between China and Russia have been fraught with distrust and confrontation. The two came frighteningly close to nuclear war in the late 1960s, at the height of their Cold War schism. More recently, though, Beijing and Moscow have found common cause. Economically, they are mutually beneficial trading partners, with China's industrial machine importing Russian oil, gas, coal, and other raw materials in exchange for high-tech Chinese goods.

[Read: China is watching Ukraine with a lot of interest]

Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have also forged a close personal connection. In 2019, Xi described Putin as a "best friend." The glue of their friendship is a shared frustration with American global primacy. Each sees Washington as the main impediment to the achievement of their international ambitions. That's why alarms rang more loudly in democratic capitals when Putin visited Xi in Beijing in early February and they issued a joint statement saying that "friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation."

Fears rose in the U.S. and Europe that the two authoritarian states were embarking on a coordinated attack in Asia and Europe against the dominance of the West. Those fears seemed justified when, later that month, Putin launched his war against Ukraine.

The Sino-Russian partnership seemed to pay instant dividends. From Xi's perspective, Putin's invasion rolled back Western influence (or so it appeared) at little cost to China. Moscow, for its part, gained important political support from Beijing at a moment when the U.S. was aiming to isolate Russia on the world stage. Beijing has consistently blamed NATO for causing the war and supported Putin's security concerns in Europe, which China's top diplomat described earlier this year as "legitimate."

Xi has also rebuffed calls to use his influence with Putin to help end the war or mediate between the Russian leader and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Although Xi told President Joe Biden in their November meeting that he was "highly concerned" about the Ukraine crisis, he also appeared to wash his hands of any responsibility to play a more active role in reaching a settlement. The official Chinese readout of the conversation stated that Beijing will encourage peace talks but looked forward to a dialogue between the U.S., NATO, and Russia.

Beijing's diplomatic backing of Moscow's position on Ukraine, as well as of Russia's role in the world as a major power, has been of significant value to Putin. So has China's more tangible assistance. As Russia's financial and business ties to the West crumble under the weight of sanctions, trade with China has replaced some of the lost income. Total trade between China and Russia surged by nearly a third, to $172 billion so far this year. (By contrast, Russia's trade with the U.S. plunged by about half, according to the latest available data.)

"For Russia, the key task for now is to generate enough revenue stream to pump money into the war machine, the budget, to feed all of the people who carry guns and support domestic security," Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told me. "As the relationship between Russia and the West is being destroyed by both sides … the key revenue flows … are turning to the East, and China is the major player."

[Alexander Gabuev: Putin's Doomsday scenario]

Aside from the Ukraine war, and whatever its outcome, the China-Russia relationship is likely to deepen. Xi and Putin share a strong interest in reducing their economic reliance on the U.S. and its European and Asian partners, and both have a clear incentive to expand trade and investment between their economies. In a recent paper in the Naval War College Review, the scholars Andrew Erickson and Gabriel Collins foresee the potential for greater military cooperation between Russia and China as well. Moscow could enhance China's naval capabilities by giving its fleet access to Russian ports in the Far East and by sharing technology, especially for undersea warfare. "Russian military pinnacle technologies," they wrote, "could be coupled with China's financial resources and industry to tip the Indo-Pacific security balance in favor of a Sino-Russian axis of autocracy at the expense of the United States and its allies and partners."

Still, the events of the past year have shown that the "no limits" relationship does, in fact, have its limits. Beijing has not provided material support for Putin's war effort, nor helped his government and banks evade the tough sanctions imposed by the West after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Self-interest is certainly at work here. In a March conversation, Biden warned Xi that China would face "consequences" if the Chinese leader directly aided Russia. That would likely entail sanctions on China—which the country, still heavily dependent on American and European trade, technology, and investment, can ill afford. And although Xi has backed Putin's security concerns in Europe, he has shown some discomfort with Putin's war. In their November meeting, Biden and Xi jointly criticized the Russian leader's threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, according to Washington's summary of the conversation.

Some analysts have interpreted a degree of waffling by Xi in that encounter as a signal that he is having second thoughts about his bet on Russia. Revealingly, perhaps, the bit about nukes was omitted from the account of the meeting released by China's foreign ministry. But Chinese-Russian ties continue to develop. The same day that Zelensky was in Washington addressing Congress, Xi hosted former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Beijing.

Most likely, Xi's diplomatic two-step is an indication of Beijing's continuing attempts to play all sides. In that sense, it's typical Chinese foreign policy. Beijing eschews the sort of commitments Washington has made to its close allies. China's leaders prefer to maintain their own freedom of action, both at home and abroad, unfettered by promises made to other countries. Xi has enshrined this practice into his chief diplomatic program, the Global Security Initiative, a framework for reshaping the global order. Outlining its tenets, Xi declared that countries should "say no to group politics and bloc confrontation." Attempts to form "small circles," he said, are "doomed to fail."

That means China will resist the formation of a new, authoritarian bloc with Russia (or any other countries) like the old Communist bloc that the Soviet Union once formed. Beijing's commitment to such ideas suggests that it will never forge a true alliance with Russia that would require China's leaders to coordinate policy more closely or that would bind them to mutual defense. Despite its current troubles, the Russian leadership may prefer it that way. Moscow may be wary of becoming too tied to—and too dependent on—China as well. The relationship between Xi and Putin is not equal. The Ukraine war has exposed Russia as a declining power, and its isolation from the West has left Putin little choice but to turn to Beijing. Xi is taking advantage.

[Damir Marusic: Taiwan faces its Ukraine moment]

For instance, China has been purchasing Russian oil at steep discounts. With access to dollar transactions curtailed by U.S. sanctions, Russian businesses are turning instead to the Chinese yuan, advancing Beijing's longtime goal of promoting its currency as a rival to the greenback. The relationship is "more beneficial to China than for Russia," Gabuev told me. "The asymmetry that was built into this relationship even before the war has been galvanized by the war."

The stronger China becomes, the greater that imbalance grows, and the more Beijing may prod Moscow to align its interests with China's—and the more nervous Russian leaders may become. "A Russia whose motives for aggressive military action in Europe likely include regaining the fear-based 'respect' accorded the Soviet Union in the past may tire of being viewed—and perhaps treated—as a vassal of China," Erickson and Collins wrote. "Popular resentment at national subservience may prompt Putin or his ultimate successor to reset relations symbolically, and even substantively, away from Beijing's preferences."

The dynamics of Xi's relations with Russia tell us that China isn't a very good friend, and this will surely have consequences for Beijing's quest for greater global influence. The U.S. has extended and entrenched its power through a network of close alliances and defense arrangements with nations that share values and foreign-policy objectives. China will do nothing of the sort. Beijing will more likely operate through bilateral ties, loose international groups (such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), and initiatives it can control (such as its Belt and Road development program). It will engage with other countries only so far as such arrangements directly benefit it, as the partnership with Russia shows.

The question is whether such a strategy is sufficient for Beijing to achieve its foreign-policy ambitions. The U.S. certainly pursues its national priorities in its foreign affairs, sometimes ruthlessly, but it has also been willing to make sacrifices to promote its agenda—by, for instance, absorbing the costs of other countries' defense. China has not always shunned such a practice. In historical periods when China was the unrivaled power in East Asia, the emperors of imperial dynasties often spent heavily on gifts and assistance for foreign states and dignitaries from the region. The display of generosity was designed to uphold the dynasties' diplomatic system. Today's Chinese leaders, however, seem much less willing to sacrifice wealth or make concessions in order to realize greater goals. Other countries, including Russia, may choose to respond in kind, limiting Beijing's ability to exert its influence in a global struggle with the U.S. and its allies.

All the same, the China-Russia relationship could remain dangerous to the U.S. and democracy more broadly. Whatever differences or points of distrust they may have, Beijing and Moscow still share an objective of altering the world order, and they will continue to pursue that, within the constraints of their relations. "This is not an alliance," Yun Sun, a director of the China program at the Stimson Center, told me. "Partners is a much-qualified word in terms of what each side will do for the other." But Chinese leaders, she went on, "do see Russia as a useful partner—or useful instrument—in confronting the United States. That has not changed, and that is not going to change."


Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35743-y

Methods to predict genome-wide off-target activities of prime editors (PEs) are currently lacking. Here the authors report a cell-based assay, TAgmentation of Prime Editor sequencing (TAPE-seq), that provides genome-wide off-target candidates for PEs.

Is this article about Animals?

Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35730-3

Pretomanid has been approved for use in cases of multi-drug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis, yet the penetration of this antibiotic into other target tissues is not well established. Authors provide insight on pretomanid pharmacokinetics in the central nervous system, using positron emission tomography in animal models, and human studies.

Multiple researchers at the Jackson Laboratory (JAX) are taking part in an ambitious research program spanning several top research institutions to study senescent cells. Senescent cells stop dividing in response to stressors and seemingly have a role to play in human health and the aging process. Recent research with mice suggests that clearing senescent cells delays the onset of age-related dysfunction and disease as well as all-cause mortality.

Multiple researchers at the Jackson Laboratory (JAX) are taking part in an ambitious research program spanning several top research institutions to study senescent cells. Senescent cells stop dividing in response to stressors and seemingly have a role to play in human health and the aging process. Recent research with mice suggests that clearing senescent cells delays the onset of age-related dysfunction and disease as well as all-cause mortality.

Black carbon aerosol is the product of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass, and has strong light absorption. Black carbon deposition in snow ice reduces the albedo of the snow ice surface, accelerating the melting of glaciers and snow cover, and thus changing the hydrological process and water resources in the region.

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite launched into Earth orbit on Friday, Dec. 16, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in central California, and engineers are working to prepare the mission to begin measuring the height of water on over 90% of Earth's surface, providing a high-definition survey of our planet's water for the first time.

The Surprisingly Profound Power of Thank-You Notes

Certainly I'm not the first person to suggest, as New Year's approaches, that a little reflection might be in order. Plenty of us take the opportunity to think about the year that has passed—what we're proud of, what we could have done differently, how we changed—and set resolutions for the year ahead. As helpful as this contemplation can be, though, it tends to be somewhat self-involved: We focus on our own accomplishments, but not always on the people in our lives who made them possible. In recent years, I've tried something different.

Near the end of December, I open my email or pick up a pen, and I begin composing thank-you notes. The messages are usually just a few sentences long: I recap my interactions with the recipient that year, put my finger on what I appreciated, and say I'm grateful. But when I consider whom to thank, I realize the list could go on and on. I try to think of everyone who made my year better: the established journalist who referred me to a radio program, the HR staff who processed my paperwork, the friend who dropped off groceries when I was recovering from COVID. Almost always, I get a note back expressing similar gratitude.

Typically, we're told to write thank-you notes at specific junctures—after finishing a job interview, receiving a gift, hosting a wedding or another significant function. These notes can be lovely, but they also run the risk of being rote and transactional. We send them because we're expected to. End-of-year thank-you notes, though, aren't written out of obligation. Those who get them are reminded unexpectedly that someone is thinking of them—and that their actions haven't gone unnoticed.

That knowledge can mean a lot, however brief or clumsily worded a thank-you might be. In one study, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, subjects instructed to send "gratitude letters" worried that their recipients would feel awkward or that their writing would be scrutinized. But actually, the people receiving the notes—which took most subjects less than five minutes to write—were genuinely touched. Many reported feeling "ecstatic." And they found the notes to be warmer and more competently written than the senders had predicted they would.

[Read: Resolutions are not the vibe for 2022]

I'd argue that end-of-year thank-you notes are good for the sender too. Looking back on the year, I don't stop reflecting after thinking about what I've accomplished. When I make a mental list of everyone who supported me, I remember that no achievement is the result of my efforts alone. That realization is humbling; it grounds me in gratitude for all I was able to do rather than resentment for what I didn't or couldn't do.

It also makes me feel less alone. In 2022, after a big move—not to mention nearly three years of a pandemic—I've felt particularly isolated. And plenty of sociologists and public-health researchers worry that too many Americans are experiencing the same—that we don't rely on our communities like we used to. But sending thank-you notes reminds me of the rich tapestry of connections that make up my life. It draws me just a bit closer to the people around me, even those I don't know well: my mail carrier, my neighbors, a co-worker who helped me even when it wasn't required.

I'll still write resolutions for the coming year, but I won't just be mulling career milestones or side projects I want to complete. I'll also be thinking of the people who were there for me—and how I plan to show up for them too.

Kyrsten Sinema and the Myth of Political Independence
Is this article about Foreign Policy?

Senator Kyrsten Sinema says she's had enough of partisan squabbling. Who hasn't? But the former Democrat's switch to independent earlier this month won't solve anything. Sinema is still bound by the parties, no matter which letter—D, R, or I—appears next to her name.

True independence in our partisan system is a fantasy. Like the two other independent senators, Sinema will continue to vote almost entirely like a Democrat. She is what the political scientists Samara Klar of the University of Arizona and Yanna Krupnikov of SUNY–Stony Brook would call an "undercover partisan"—someone who behaves mostly like a partisan but publicly rejects partisanship to show their disdain.

Sinema's own words show the fallacy in her reasoning. "While Arizonans don't all agree on the issues, we are united in our values of hard work, common sense, and independence," she wrote in The Arizona Republic, announcing her newfound political identity. What is "united in … independence"? How do we agree on anything if we are all independent?

Imagine a Senate of 100 true independents. How would they organize? How would they decide what to vote on, when, and under what procedure? Political parties always emerge in legislatures; the same Framers who fretted over political parties when writing the Constitution formed parties in the very first U.S. Congress, when they had to govern. Parties are necessary to organize sustainable coalitions and build governing majorities. In politics, power belongs to groups, not individuals. Politics involves organizing, choices, and affiliations. Parties are the institutions that turn chaos into politics, as bad as politics may still be.

[Read: 'She made an idiot out of me']

Despite the necessity of parties, the idea of political independence is alluring to many people. "Independent" has been by far the most popular self-identification in U.S. politics for a good three decades now, hovering at about 40 percent of the electorate in recent years—which is not to say that the members of this group are united in their independence. Contrary to common conception, independents are not the same as moderates. Rather, they tend to be simply more dissatisfied with politics than people who identify as partisans are. In the 2016 primaries, independent voters preferred Bernie Sanders (who, like Sinema, is also an independent) to the party's more traditional candidates. Other leading independents, such as Senator Angus King of Maine and former Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, are similarly, well, dissimilar, at least when it comes to their policy preferences.

What does bind independents is a public rejection of partisan politics, at least as currently practiced in the U.S. by the two major parties. But the problem is that rejection can backfire, making partisan politics worse. American voters are already cynical and distrustful. What they need isn't more political independents claiming to be above it all. They need more real choices in the form of more parties—parties that represent a greater array of ideas and that can give more people in the American public a voice and connection to their government.

This would require changes in electoral rules. Our current winner-takes-all system of elections is hostile to third parties. Few voters want to "waste" their ballot on a candidate who is unlikely to win, and candidates who do manage to win over a significant percentage of the electorate are viewed as spoilers for the Democratic or Republican nominee.

A number of existing proposals would help give third parties more relevance. Fusion voting, under which multiple parties can endorse the same candidate, could allow more parties to meaningfully participate in Senate elections—while keeping with the Constitution's requirement that only a single candidate can win. New parties would then have a reason to form: They would have power without having to recruit a candidate who can't win.

For the U.S. House, where multimember districts would be allowed by the Constitution (but are banned by statute), switching to proportional representation would most directly break the two-party hegemony. Rather than splitting, for example, Arizona into nine separate congressional districts, all Arizonans could vote in the same statewide, multiparty election. Parties would win seats in direct proportion to their statewide vote share, so a party that gets a third of the votes in Arizona would get three of nine seats in Congress. Each party would select its candidates, instead of hosting primaries. Just as in our current system, general-election voters would choose their preferred candidate. The difference is that those ballots would also count toward the total vote share for that candidate's party. A party that gets three seats would send its three most popular candidates to Congress. Giving political parties the ability to vet and choose their own nominees strengthens the parties' ability to give voters clear choices.

Collectively, this means that Arizonans would seat a delegation that would better represent the state's political diversity. More voters would find a party or candidate that represents them. Every voter would matter equally, not just those who live in competitive districts. Fights over districting and redistricting would vanish. Gerrymandering would cease to be relevant.

[David A. Graham: Kyrsten Sinema's decision is all about 2024]

Sinema is correct in part. There is "a disconnect between what everyday Americans want and deserve from our politics, and what political parties are offering." But the solution is more parties, not a rejection of them. With more selection for representation, Americans could form inclusive governing coalitions that lead to actual change. Building a personal brand around one's independence is easy, particularly as a short-term electoral ploy. But building something that lasts, and that gives voters meaningful options, is far harder—and far more important.


Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35553-2

Elevated body mass index is heritable and associated with many health conditions that impact morbidity and mortality. Here, the authors identify greater than 900 genetic loci for body mass index (BMI) and find over 300 diagnoses associated with increasing BMI.

Is It 2023 Yet?
This week, we look back at 2022's biggest consumer tech stories. Then, we offer our predictions for what the next 12 months will bring.


Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26436-z

Author Correction: Assessment of natural groundwater reserve of a morphodynamic system using an information-based model in a part of Ganga basin, Northern India


Friendships won't save the world. But they can sure save your sanity, shore up your health and make your life a lot better

Here is a much-needed resolution for many of us in the new year: make new friendships and shore up old ones.

Americans are an increasingly lonely bunch, spending more time solo and on our devices than with others. A decade ago, the average American spent about six and a half hours a week with friends. In 2014, time with friends declined, while time alone shot up. By 2019 – before the pandemic – Americans were spending just four hours a week with friends, a number that tanked in 2021 to two hours and 45 minutes. And it's not that those hours were going to other people – to kids, spouses or family. As time with friends decreased, time spent alone soared.

Continue reading…

The Singularity of Allison Williams
Girls. Get Out. Now M3GAN. In just a handful of performances, the actress has redefined authenticity—and achieved a new kind of artificial reality.


Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26900-w

Author Correction: Impact of γ-irradiation and SBR content in the compatibility of aminated (PVC/LLDPE)/ZnO for improving their AC conductivity and oil removal


Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26885-6

Author Correction: MHD mixed convective stagnation point flow of nanofluid past a permeable stretching sheet with nanoparticles aggregation and thermal stratification


Scientific Reports, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-27073-2

Adverse birth outcome and associated factors among mothers with HIV who gave birth in northwest Amhara region referral hospitals, northwest Ethiopia, 2020

Patrick Chiu Yat Woo

A microbiology research group at the University of Hong Kong lost five papers for image duplication in late October, weeks after other scientists published a critique in

Retraction Watch

of one of the group's COVID-19 articles.

The paper on COVID-19 was published in Cell in 2021 and was led by Patrick Chiu Yat Woo and Kwok-Yung Yuen, chair of infectious diseases in the university's Department of Microbiology.

Writing in Retraction Watch in early October, Robert Speth of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and Michael Bader of the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, described their experience notifying Cell of numerous errors in the paper, and the journal's editor refusing to publish a correction.

Weeks later, five of Yuen and Woo's papers were retracted from two journals published by the American Society for Microbiology:

The five papers have been cited nearly 400 times in total, according to Clarivate's Web of Science.

The retractions were spurred by PubPeer comments from sleuth Elisabeth Bik, a familiar name for Retraction Watch readers, pointing out similarities in the papers' images. The text of the notices was similar. One representative notice stated:

We were alerted that lanes 2 and 6 of Western blot strips in Fig. 2A are more similar than expected on retrospective inspection under magnification. The lapse of 18 years since the publication of this paper made investigation using original research material impossible. We therefore voluntarily take the step of retracting this paper to set the scientific record straight.

In response to our request for comment, Yuen and Woo told us:

We first received notifications on this issue from Pubpeer on 1st August 2022. We immediately proactively reached out to journal editors for their advice on how to set the scientific record straight. Since we no longer had the serum samples to repeat the experiments, we retracted the articles although three of them have been independently confirmed by other research groups. [They later provided these references: Detection and Characterization of New Coronavirus in Bottlenose Dolphin, United States, 2019; A Bat-Derived Putative Cross-Family Recombinant Coronavirus with a Reovirus Gene; and Antagonism of dsRNA-Induced Innate Immune Pathways by NS4a and NS4b Accessory Proteins during MERS Coronavirus Infection.]

We thanks for the comments of our work published in Cell. Their concerns have been addressed and published.

The corresponding author of the MERS paper, Dong-Yan Jin, responded to Bik on PubPeer in November that the authors "admitted that an error was introduced and I take full responsibility for it as corresponding author." At the end of his comment, he wrote:

The LKS Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong has set up a panel to investigate this and other papers. The panel found no evidence of fabrication or misconduct from any author. The panel also noted that the main conclusions of the paper were not based on the Western blot data concerned, and thus members were convinced that the conclusions drawn in the paper were valid and credible.

Bik posted a longer response from Jin, which stated that Yuen and Woo "were not involved in preparation of the figure concerned," and ended:

I apologize to Dr. Yuen, Dr. Woo and other coauthors. It was my supervisory oversight and not theirs in this paper. I feel bad that another co-author's honest error and my own oversight have resulted in criticism and attack of Dr. Yuen in the media. This is completely unfortunate and unhealthy. It does not help to keep a high standard of responsible science. It is completely unfair, groundless and counterproductive. It will only bring more harms than benefits to science. This has already wasted tremendous amount of energy and resources from different parties. Dr. Yuen's response to the papers concerned was quick and highly responsible. He has my full respect.

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

AI is bringing the internet to submerged Roman ruins

Over 2,000 years ago, Baiae was the most magnificent resort town on the Italian peninsula. Wealthy statesmen including Mark Antony, Cicero, and Caesar were drawn to its natural springs, building luxurious villas with heated spas and mosaic-tiled thermal pools. But over the centuries, volcanic activity submerged this playground for the Roman nobility—leaving half of it beneath the Mediterranean.

Today, Baiae is one of the world's few underwater archaeological parks, and its 435 acres are open to visitors wanting to explore the remains of the ancient Roman city. A protected marine area, the site needs to be monitored for damage caused by divers and environmental factors. However, explains Barbara Davidde, Italy's national superintendent for underwater cultural heritage, "communication underwater is challenging."

Cabled systems are the most reliable, but they are difficult to maintain and cover a limited operational area. And wireless internet doesn't work well in water, because of the way water interacts with electromagnetic waves. Scientists have tried optic and acoustic waves, but light and sound aren't efficient forms of wireless underwater communication—water temperature, salinity, waves, and noise can alter signals as they travel between devices.

So Davidde teamed up with a group of engineers led by Chiara Petrioli, a professor at Sapienza University and director of Sapienza's spinoff WSense, a startup specializing in underwater monitoring and communication systems. Petrioli's team has developed a network of acoustic modems and underwater wireless sensors capable of gathering environmental data and transmitting it to land in real time. "We can now monitor the site remotely and at any time," says Davidde.

Their system relies on AI algorithms to constantly change the network protocol. As the sea conditions change, the algorithms modify the information path from one node to the other, allowing the signal to travel up to two kilometers. The system can send data between transmitters one kilometer apart at a kilobit per second and reaches tens of megabits per second over shorter distances, explains Petrioli. This bandwidth is enough to transmit environmental data collected by sensors anchored to the seafloor, such as images and information on water quality, pressure, and temperature; metal, chemical, and biological elements; and noise, currents, waves, and tides.

At Baiae, underwater internet allows remote, continuous monitoring of environmental conditions such as pH and carbon dioxide levels, which can influence the growth of microorganisms that could disfigure the artifacts. In addition, it allows divers to communicate with one another and with colleagues above the surface, who can also use the technology to locate them with a high degree of accuracy.

Davidde anticipates that the network will be available to tourists visiting the archaeological site in the coming months. As they swim over the ruins, visitors will use waterproof smart tablets to communicate—and to view 3D reconstructions of the ruins via augmented reality.

"Underwater internet has made monitoring of the archaeological site simpler and more efficient," says Davidde. "At the same time, we can offer the public a new, interactive way to explore the underwater park of Baiae."

Even at low bandwidth, this underwater wireless communication technology is extremely useful, particularly for dynamic systems, such as divers in motion during a site exploration.

Systems like these are now used at several archaeological sites in Italy and have many other applications, including studying the effects of climate change on marine environments and monitoring underwater volcanoes. Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development uses WSense networks to study how algae, aquatic invertebrate animals, and corals adapt to climate change in the bay of Santa Teresa, for example. WSense systems have also spread outside Italy; in Norway, for instance, they are used to monitor water quality and fish health in salmon farms.

"It's nothing like what a cabled system can do," Petrioli says, "but the flexibility of a cable-free network is extremely valuable."

Is this article about ESG?

Open access notables

Author Guy Dagan appropriately doesn't make the connection but armchair enthusiasts can: if the climate becomes more twitchy when the atmosphere is loaded with aerosols, what happens if we try solar geoengineering via aerosols at scale? Maybe we should make sure we've modeled that thoroughly before leaping. Equilibrium climate sensitivity increases with aerosol concentration due to changes in precipitation efficiency is the springboard for this possible ripple of unintended consequences, for those of us with active imaginations.

The US Congressional Research Service delivers a nice little precis in Australia: Climate Change Issues, part of this week's government/NGO collection. If one wants the "official" US view of how another CO2-slinger is doing delivered short and sweet, look no farther.

Via Environmental Politics comes a review of an intriguing book: Fugitive Politics: The Struggle For Ecological Sanity. Noel Castree's remarks are rather jaded, perhaps from overexposure to Carl Boggs' earlier work. Castree marks the book as a dry well for hope and objects to its unapologetically confrontational stance and unashamed political identifications. Bearing that in mind, hope's shape is highly personal and hope can be found in strange places. This is a book perhaps best reviewed by a reader consuming it in the natural course of learning— with full self-awareness of biases.

Buhaug et al. build models for conflict arising from climate stresses in their work Climate-driven risks to peace over the 21st century. The authors' result is methodically complete, attentive to quantification and well anchored to prior literature. Hence the three scenarios of potential conflict explored in the paper ring plausibly and concerningly. Attention must be paid, or with even a rough resemblance to outcomes captured here we're in even more trouble.

"Global change" of course implies change everywhere, but the nitty-gritty details of ramifications of our unfortunate messing with our climate continue to amaze. Our situation is a thirsty sponge for situational awareness. Michael Clare & crew call attention to a problem that will be slow to unfold and patchy in its emergence, in Climate change hotspots and implications for the global subsea telecommunications network. The authors find that geography and geophysics mean there will be no easy rulebook for adapting our suboceanic telecomms assets to climate change.

It's not right to call broad uplift of living standards for hundreds of millions of people a "fringe benefit." Whatever the term, Paola Casati et al. measure the ripples extending from energy modernization in places hungry for improvement and find truly powerful positive effects. Clean energy access as an enabler for social development: A multidimensional analysis for Sub-Saharan Africa assesses the potential benefits to be enjoyed by ~770,000,000 people as we deal with our climate problem and finds a huge win. Why in the world would we want to be dragged kicking and screaming toward this?

136 articles in 48 journals by 1,025 contributing authors

Observations of climate change, effects

Attribution of the Unprecedented 2021 October Heatwave in South Korea
Kim et al., Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-22-0124.1

Borealization of nearshore fishes on an interior Arctic shelf over multiple decades
von Biela et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16576

Climatology of Clear-Air Turbulence in Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere in the Northern Hemisphere using ERA5 reanalysis data
Lee et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Open Access 10.1029/2022jd037679

Comparison between warm-sector and frontal heavy rainfall events in South China and the objective classification of warm-sector heavy rainfall events
Fu et al., Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 10.1007/s00703-022-00949-8

Evaluation of change points and persistence of extreme climatic indices across India
Soorya Gayathri et al., Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-022-05787-w

Improved elasticity estimation model for typhoon storm surge losses in China
Sui et al., Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-022-05768-z

Long-term changes in the frequency of exceptionally cold and warm months in Europe (1831-2020)
Skrzy?ska & Twardosz, International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7978

Persistent and non-persistent regional extreme total, daytime, and nighttime precipitation events over Southwest China (1961–2019)
Cheng et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7968

Record High Warm 2021 February Temperature over East Asia
Xie, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-22-0139.1

Regime shift increase in East Asia's summer extreme hot day frequency across the late-1990s
Lee et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7976

Regional changes of surface air temperature annual cycle in the Northern Hemisphere land areas
Deng & Fu, International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7972

Seasonally freeze–thaw changes on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau and their possible causes
Yan et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7966

Spatio-temporal changes in the mean and extreme temperature indices for Serbia
Toši? et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7981

The Extremely Wet May of 2021 in the United Kingdom
Christidis & Stott, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-22-0108.1

Water Year 2021 Compound Precipitation and Temperature Extremes in California and Nevada
Hoell et al., Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-22-0112.1

Instrumentation & observational methods of climate change, effects

Global seamless and high-resolution temperature dataset (GSHTD), 2001–2020
Yao et al., Remote Sensing of Environment, 10.1016/j.rse.2022.113422

Plant phenological dataset collated by the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters
Holopainen et al., Ecology, 10.1002/ecy.3962

Quantifying the role of variability in future intensification of heat extremes
Simolo & Corti, Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35571-0

Representation and evaluation of southern Africa's seasonal mean and extreme temperatures in the ERA5-based reanalysis products
Roffe & van der Walt, Atmospheric Research, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106591

Sensitivity of Observationally Based Estimates of Ocean Heat Content and Thermal Expansion to Vertical Interpolation Schemes
Li et al., [journal not provided], Open Access 10.1002/essoar.10512366.1

Modeling, simulation & projection of climate change, effects

Changes in ENSO Characteristics in Model Simulations with Considerably Altered Background Climate States
Siuts et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-21-1004.1

Climatological changes in East Asian winter monsoon circulation in a warmer future
Wu et al., Atmospheric Research, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106593

Evolution of the Internal Climate Modes under Future Warming
Coburn & Pryor, Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0200.1

Extreme indices of temperature and precipitation in South America: trends and intercomparison of regional climate models
Lagos-Zúñiga et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access 10.1007/s00382-022-06598-2

Global warming overshoots increase risks of climate tipping cascades in a network model
Wunderling et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01545-9

High-latitude precipitation as a driver of multicentennial variability of the AMOC in a climate model of intermediate complexity
Mehling et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06640-3

Human Contribution to 2020/21-like Persistent Iran Meteorological Droughts
Kam et al., Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-22-0149.1

Modeling the effects of realistic land cover changes on land surface temperatures over China
Li et al., Climate Dynamics, 10.1007/s00382-022-06635-0

Multiple Equilibria in a Coupled Climate–Carbon Model
Zhu & Rose, Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-21-0984.1

North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Outer Size and Structure Remain Unchanged by the Late Twenty-First Century
Schenkel et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0066.1

Projection of hourly extreme precipitation using the WRF model over eastern China
Tang et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd036448

Regional non-stationary future extreme rainfall under changing climate over Asian Monsoon Region
Sojan et al., Atmospheric Research, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106592

Southern Ocean control of 2°C global warming in climate models
Shin et al., Earth's Future, 10.1029/2022ef003212

Warming of Baltic Sea water masses since 1850
Dutheil et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06628-z

Advancement of climate & climate effects modeling, simulation & projection

Comparing two weather generator-based downscaling tools for simulating storm intensification and its impacts on soil erosion under climate change
Zhang et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7971

Consistency of seasonal mean and extreme precipitation projections over Europe across a range of climate model ensembles
Ritzhaupt & Maraun, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd037845

Critical analysis of CMIPs Past Climate Model Projections in a regional context: the Iberian climate
Soares et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7973

Intraseasonal to seasonal evolution of soil moisture-based droughts and floods in observation-based datasets and CMIP6 models
Wei et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7965

Learning by Doing: Seasonal and Diurnal Features of Tropical Precipitation in a Global-Coupled Storm-Resolving Model
Segura et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2022gl101796

Selection of CMIP6 GCM with projection of climate over the Amu Darya River Basin
Salehie et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Open Access 10.1007/s00704-022-04332-w

Spiral polyethylene tube solar collectors performance analyzed by a new partially linear regression model
Vasconcelos et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02847-w

The added value of km-scale simulations to describe temperature over complex orography: the CORDEX FPS-Convection multi-model ensemble runs over the Alps
Soares et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06593-7

The double-ITCZ problem in CMIP6 and the influences of deep convection and model resolution
Ma et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7980

Uncertainty in Preindustrial Global Ocean Initialization Can Yield Irreducible Uncertainty in Southern Ocean Surface Climate
Singh et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-21-0176.1

Understanding CMIP6 biases in the representation of the Greater Horn of Africa long and short rains
Schwarzwald et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06622-5

Cryosphere & climate change

Anthropogenic and internal drivers of wind changes over the Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica, during the 20th and 21st centuries
Holland et al., The Cryosphere, Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-16-5085-2022

Estimation of stream water components and residence time in a permafrost catchment in the central Tibetan Plateau using long-term water stable isotopic data
Wang et al., The Cryosphere, Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-16-5023-2022

Extensive and anomalous grounding line retreat at Vanderford Glacier, Vincennes Bay, Wilkes Land, East Antarctica
Picton et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-2022-217

Sea level & climate change

Anthropogenic and internal drivers of wind changes over the Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica, during the 20th and 21st centuries
Holland et al., The Cryosphere, Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-16-5085-2022

Reconstruction of Mediterranean coastal sea level at different timescales based on tide gauge records
Ramos Alcántara et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/egusphere-2022-169


Consolidating historical instrumental observations in southern Australia for assessing pre-industrial weather and climate variability
Gergis et al., Climate Dynamics, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06573-x

Permafrost in the Cretaceous supergreenhouse
Rodríguez-López et al., Nature Communications, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-35676-6

Biology & climate change, related geochemistry

Assessing the upper elevational limits of vegetation growth in global high-mountains
Zou et al., Remote Sensing of Environment, 10.1016/j.rse.2022.113423

Borealization of nearshore fishes on an interior Arctic shelf over multiple decades
von Biela et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16576

Earlier leaf senescence dates are constrained by soil moisture
Wang et al., Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.16569

Effects of high temperature and marine heat waves on seagrasses: Is warming affecting the nutritional value of Posidonia oceanica?
Stipcich et al., Marine Environmental Research, Open Access 10.1016/j.marenvres.2022.105854

Food resource uncertainty shapes the fitness consequences of early spring onset in capital and income breeding migratory birds
Ejsmond & Ejsmond, Ecology and Evolution, Open Access 10.1002/ece3.9637

Frequent storm surges affect the groundwater of coastal ecosystems
Nordio et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2022gl100191

Incorporating dead material in ecosystem assessments and projections
Barnhill et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01565-5

Larch response to warming in northern Siberia
Kharuk et al., Regional Environmental Change, 10.1007/s10113-022-02016-9

Ocean acidification causes fundamental changes in the cellular metabolism of the Arctic copepod Calanus glacialis as detected by metabolomic analysis
Thor et al., Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-26480-9

Optimal energy allocation trade-off driven by size-dependent physiological and demographic responses to warming
Thunell et al., Ecology, 10.1002/ecy.3967

Response of xylem formation of Larix sibirica to climate change along the southern Altai Mountains, Central Asia
Wang et al., Dendrochronologia, 10.1016/j.dendro.2022.126049

Shifts in predator behaviour following climate induced disturbance on coral reefs
Rotjan et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Open Access 10.1098/rspb.2022.1431

Variation in breeding phenology in response to climate change in two passerine species
Andreasson et al., Oecologia, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00442-022-05306-5

Vulnerability of the Cerrado–Atlantic Forest ecotone in the Espinhaço Range Biosphere Reserve to climate change
Costa et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04321-z

GHG sources & sinks, flux, related geochemistry

2021 February Texas Ice Storm Induced Spring GPP Reduction Compensated by the Higher Precipitation
Yang & Liu, Earth's Future, 10.1029/2022ef003030

Contemporary controls on terrestrial carbon characteristics in temperate and sub-tropical Australian wetlands
Francke et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 10.1029/2022jg007092

Effects of afforestation on soil carbon and nitrogen accumulation depend on initial soil nitrogen status
Hong et al., Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 10.1029/2022gb007490

Factors influencing the temporal variability of atmospheric methane emissions from Upper Silesia coal mines: a case study from the CoMet mission
Swolkie? et al., [journal not provided], Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-2022-243

Hydrologic and landscape controls on dissolved organic matter composition across western North American Arctic lakes
Kurek et al., Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 10.1029/2022gb007495

Methane Production Linked to Organic Matter Molecule and Methanogenic Community in Estuarine Benthic Sediments
Li et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 10.1029/2022jg007236

Precision of mangrove sediment blue carbon estimates and the role of coring and data analysis methods
Sternberg?Rodríguez et al., Ecology and Evolution, 10.1002/ece3.9655

Prediction of plant carbon sink potential in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region of China
Huang et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02846-x

Ranking the risk of CO2 emissions from seagrass soil carbon stocks under global change threats
Dahl et al., Global Environmental Change, Open Access 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2022.102632

Reduced CO2 uptake and growing nutrient sequestration from slowing overturning circulation
Liu et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01555-7

Soil CH4 and N2O response diminishes during decadal soil warming in a temperate mountain forest
Heinzle et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Open Access 10.1016/j.agrformet.2022.109287


A powerful checklist for the selection of optimal scenarios between local renewable resources and grid extension using exergy, financial, and social analyses
Kaviani et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02856-9

Achieving carbon neutrality through green technological progress: evidence from China
Cai et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113397

Clean energy access as an enabler for social development: A multidimensional analysis for Sub-Saharan Africa
Casati et al., Energy for Sustainable Development, Open Access 10.1016/j.esd.2022.12.003

Electroactive CTAB/PVDF composite film based photo-rechargeable hybrid power cell for clean energy generation and storage
Molla et al., Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-26865-w

Embodied carbon emissions induced by the construction of hydropower infrastructure in China
Ge et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113404

Green batteries for clean skies: Sustainability assessment of lithium-sulfur all-solid-state batteries for electric aircraft
Barke et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10.1111/jiec.13345

Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of residential battery storage systems: A German case study
Fett et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10.1111/jiec.13344

Mapping of solar insolation using air temperature in tropical and mountainous environments
Hoyos & Ruiz, Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 10.1007/s00703-022-00945-y

RSM-based comparative experimental study of sustainable biodiesel synthesis from different 2G feedstocks using magnetic nanocatalyst CaFe2O4
Saravanan et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02761-1

Spiral polyethylene tube solar collectors performance analyzed by a new partially linear regression model
Vasconcelos et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02847-w

Terpene solvents for the fabrication of greener organic solar cells and electronics
, Nature Energy, 10.1038/s41560-022-01172-w

The characteristics and parameterizations of the surface albedo of a utility-scale photovoltaic plant in the Gobi Desert
Ying et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-022-04337-5

Transparent planar solar absorber for winter thermal management
Asad & Alam, Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-19448-2


Cloud adjustments from large-scale smoke–circulation interactions strongly modulate the southeastern Atlantic stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition
Diamond et al., Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-22-12113-2022

Equilibrium climate sensitivity increases with aerosol concentration due to changes in precipitation efficiency
Dagan, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-22-15767-2022

Climate change communications & cognition

Changing how you look at climate change: attention bias modification increases attention to climate change
Carlson et al., Climatic Change, 10.1007/s10584-022-03471-3

Guiding Environmental Messaging by Quantifying the Effect of Extreme Weather Events on Public Discourse Surrounding Anthropogenic Climate Change
Noviello et al., Weather, Climate, and Society, 10.1175/wcas-d-22-0053.1

Investigating how economic and national identity loss messages impact climate change policy support
Klas et al., Climatic Change, 10.1007/s10584-022-03472-2

The Impact of Message Valence on Climate Change Attitudes: A Longitudinal Experiment
Diamond & Urbanski, Environmental Communication, 10.1080/17524032.2022.2151486

Agronomy, animal husbundry, food production & climate change

Climate change and cattle production in Nigeria: any role for ecological and carbon footprints?
Onyeneke et al., International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 10.1007/s13762-022-04721-8

Quantifying crop vulnerability to weather-related extreme events and climate change through vulnerability curves
Monteleone et al., Natural Hazards, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s11069-022-05791-0

Rural Development Index (RDI) and GHG emissions of agricultural and livestock production: a spatial analysis of the Brazilian states
Batistella et al., Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-022-02777-7

Sustainability implications of Rwanda's Vision 2050 long-term development strategy
Perez-Guzman et al., Sustainability Science, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s11625-022-01266-0

Hydrology, hydrometeorology & climate change

Anthropogenic Impacts on the Water Cycle over Drylands in the Northern Hemisphere
Luo et al., Journal of Climate, 10.1175/jcli-d-22-0037.1

Changes in reliability–resilience–vulnerability-based watershed health under climate change scenarios in the Efin Watershed, Iran
Chamani et al., Natural Hazards, 10.1007/s11069-022-05774-1

Projection of hourly extreme precipitation using the WRF model over eastern China
Tang et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 10.1029/2022jd036448

Regional non-stationary future extreme rainfall under changing climate over Asian Monsoon Region
Sojan et al., Atmospheric Research, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106592

Spatiotemporal variation of daily precipitation concentration and its potential relationship with climatic factors and land use types in the Haihe River Basin, China
Ma et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7982

Climate change economics

Heat projections and mortgage characteristics: evidence from the USA
Baranyai & Banai, Climatic Change, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03465-1

Masters of the machinery: The politics of economic modelling within European Union energy policy
Royston et al., Energy Policy, Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113386

Climate change and the circular economy

Combining industrial ecology tools to assess potential greenhouse gas reductions of a circular economy: Method development and application to Switzerland
Wiprächtiger et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10.1111/jiec.13364

Lessons, narratives, and research directions for a sustainable circular economy
Leipold et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology, Open Access 10.1111/jiec.13346

Climate change mitigation public policy research

Carbon sinks and carbon emissions balance of land use transition in Xinjiang, China: differences and compensation
Luo et al., Scientific Reports, Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-27095-w

Environmentally related technologies and environmental regulations in promoting renewable energy: evidence from OECD countries
Chu, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 10.1007/s13412-022-00810-9

Estimating carbon footprints from large scale financial transaction data
Trendl et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10.1111/jiec.13351

From sectoral to integrative action situations: an institutional perspective on the energy transition implementation in the Netherlands
Warbroek et al., Sustainability Science, Open Access pdf 10.1007/s11625-022-01272-2

Investigating how economic and national identity loss messages impact climate change policy support
Klas et al., Climatic Change, 10.1007/s10584-022-03472-2

New energy demonstration city, spatial spillover and carbon emission efficiency: Evidence from China's quasi-natural experiment
Chai et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113389

Prediction and scenario simulation of the carbon emissions of public buildings in the operation stage based on an energy audit in Xi'an, China
Zhang et al., Energy Policy, 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113396

Climate change adaptation & adaptation public policy research

A subjective Bayesian framework for synthesizing deep uncertainties in climate risk management
Doss-Gollin & Keller Keller Keller Keller Keller, [journal not provided], Open Access 10.1002/essoar.10511798.1

Can we do more than "bounce back"? Transilience in the face of climate change risks
Lozano Nasi et al., Journal of Environmental Psychology, Open Access 10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101947

Climate change hotspots and implications for the global subsea telecommunications network
Clare et al., Earth, Open Access 10.1016/j.earscirev.2022.104296

Impacts of trees-grass area ratio on thermal environment, energy saving, and carbon benefits
Xi et al., Urban Climate, Open Access 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101393

Unprecedented droughts are expected to exacerbate urban inequalities in Southern Africa
Rusca et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01546-8

Climate change impacts on human health

Urban extreme heat, climate change, and saving lives: Lessons from Washington state
Kearl & Vogel, Urban Climate, Open Access 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101392

Climate change & geopolitics

Climate-driven risks to peace over the 21st century
Buhaug et al., Climate Risk Management, Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100471


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

Climatological Diagnostics and S2S Predictions of MJO Events
Wu et al., International Journal of Climatology, 10.1002/joc.7984

On the Middle East's severe dust storms in spring 2022: Triggers and impacts
Francis et al., Atmospheric Environment, Open Access 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2022.119539

Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives

Consider the risks of bottom-up approaches for climate change adaptation
Qamar & Archfield, Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01572-6

Fairness considerations in global mitigation investments
Pachauri et al., Science, Open Access pdf 10.1126/science.adf0067

Feasible climate mitigation
Stern et al., Nature Climate Change, Open Access 10.1038/s41558-022-01563-7

Only halving emissions by 2030 can minimize risks of crossing cryosphere thresholds
Kloenne et al., Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/s41558-022-01566-4

Book reviews

Change in global environmental politics: temporal focal points and the reform of international institutions
Beaudoin, Environmental Politics, 10.1080/09644016.2022.2160113

Fugitive Politics: The Struggle For Ecological Sanity
Castree, Environmental Politics, 10.1080/09644016.2022.2161217

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

Climate change made record breaking early season heat in Argentina and Paraguay about 60 times more likely, Rivera et al., World Weather Attribution

A large area centered around the central-northern part of Argentina, and also southern Bolivia, central Chile, and most of Paraguay and Uruguay, experienced record-breaking temperatures during two consecutive heatwaves in late November and early December 2022. The authors found that human-caused climate change made the heatwave about 60 times more likely. Alternatively, a heatwave with a similar probability would be about 1.4°C less hot in a world that had not been warmed by human activities.

The U.N. Climate Conference 2022 (COP27): Outcomes, Richard Lattanzio and Jane Leggett, Congressional Research Service

Outcomes of the meetin?including (1) greenhouse gas emission pledges and implementation are not on track to achieve Paris Agreement aims, (2) demand for climate finance, including adaptation finance exceeds delivery, and (3) the process continues regarding financing arrangements to address loss and damage.

Australia: Climate Change Issues, Bruce Vaughn, Congressional Research Service

While Australia has long experienced drought, bushfires, and flooding, projections indicate Australia will likely experience increasing temperatures, as well as more severe floods, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, droughts, and bushfires, as a consequence of climate change.

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.

Doctors Seek to Bar Corporate Control of Health Practices
A group of emergency physicians and consumer advocates in multiple states are pushing for stiffer enforcement of decades-old statutes that prohibit the ownership of medical practices by corporations not owned by licensed doctors. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia have such rules.


With the recent boom in ai industry with break troughs coming out every single day, i am wondering how it's gonna play out for the movie industry. Ai image generators like dall e and mid journey have become so much better in such a short period since release. I have even heard of open ai rolling out a 3d model generator soon.

As we currently have the tech to make 1 frame, i assume we will have the tech to make 24 frames with continuity soon enough which essentially is a 1 second video. People will start to write stories and design and generate scenes with the help of ai. Movies like avatar which cost millions of dollars to produce can be recreated by people inside their bedroom with few hours of playing with text prompts. How is it gonna change our entertainment content market and us as its consumers.

Will we be seeing a new greatest movie of all time every single day, if random people start to produce lakhs of movies every single day. For example, if 100k movies of different texture are uploaded to the internet everyday i assume we will have atleast 1 among them to be the greatest ever made. Considering humans collectively haven't reached the million mark in terms of number of feature films produced with our traditional methods.

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Nature Communications, Published online: 29 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35659-7

In animals, sensory systems appear optimized for the statistics of the external world. Here the authors take an artificial psychophysics approach, analysing sensory responses in artificial neural networks, and show why these demonstrate the same phenomenon as natural sensory systems.

Are we finally nearing a treatment for Alzheimer's?

Back in November, researchers hailed the dawn of a new era of Alzheimer's therapies. After decades of failure, a clinical trial finally confirmed that a drug, lecanemab, was able to slow cognitive decline in patients with early stages of the disease. The result may have been modest – a reduction in the decline in patients' overall mental skills by 27% over 18 months – but it could not be more significant in the journey towards better understanding and treating the disease.

Ian Sample speaks to Prof Nick Fox about the clinical trial results, if this could be the first of many new Alzheimer's therapies, and whether we could one day see a cure.

Continue reading…

Is this article about Pharma?

download(size: 23 MB )
Back in November, researchers hailed the dawn of a new era of Alzheimer's therapies. After decades of failure, a clinical trial finally confirmed that a drug, lecanemab, was able to slow cognitive decline in patients with early stages of the disease. The result may have been modest – a reduction in the decline in patients' overall mental skills by 27% over 18 months – but it could not be more significant in the journey towards better understanding and treating the disease. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Nick Fox about the clinical trial results, if this could be the first of many new Alzheimer's therapies, and whether we could one day see a cure.. Help support our independent journalism at

Se hver en detalje på Limfjordens autonome passagerfærge
Ingeniøren har været ombord på færgen Greenhopper, der er på vej til at blive Danmarks første autonome passagerfærge. Udstyret med LIDAR, W-bånds radar, masser af kameraer og en bunke software prøver færgen hele tiden at udregne den sikreste rute over Limfjorden.


Text threads must promote in-depth, intellectual discussion. Basically, no more low quality r/AskReddit style and/or no low quality r/ShowerThoughts style AI posts please. If you see these posts, please downvote and report.

This rule will apply immediately.

Examples of what is not allowed:

  • "Will AI replace authors in the future?"
  • "houses in the future will not have a kitchen"
  • "TVA reinstates rolling blackouts for Nashville Electric Service, other companies"
  • "A solution to prevent AI spam while still allowing copyright"

This is a good time to remind you to look over our rules as well as our wiki/faq in our sidebar. Our rules and wiki are the warning.

Thank you for your assistance, and for being the best part of r/Futurology

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What are some technologies pursued and abandoned in previous decades?

For example I see that there is a 'space race' for companies to build rockets, go to outer space etc. I really feel like the bubble is going to burst and we won't pursue that anymore. Keeping aside my theories, what are some actual technologies that were pursued but ultimately abandoned previously?

(An actual example would be Yann Le Cuen inventing the CNNs to detect numbers in the ~90s. But since GPUs didn't exist people abanonded CNNs up until 2012. The results of CNNs in 2012 led to the burst of AI field)

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Is this article about Global Health?
Researchers are bridging mouse and human data to reveal the biology of senescent cells. Senescent cells stop dividing in response to stressors and seemingly have a role to play in human health and the aging process. Recent research with mice suggests that clearing senescent cells delays the onset of age-related dysfunction and disease as well as all-cause mortality.


This post got me thinking. What will the home of the future look like?

From the walls in, it's been 100 years since any change in how we live indoors. For common folks this was the innovation of the modern kitchen, before, common folk cooked in their living room around the hearth.

A few ideas to kick things off

  • robot arms on rails. Rails on the ceiling support robot arms that are both cook and house keeper, probably has massage and baby rocking functionality too.
  • 3D printed modular housing units. You just plug these onto land you buy, and you can add on to your existing house with new modules at any time. New baby? Buy a nursery module and stack it on top of the office module. A bigger kitchen by adding another kitchen module add-on
  • not technology related, but maybe we give up on the atomic family and go back to more communal living. Private residences with basic kitchen/bathrooms/etc. But connected by massive awesome communal kitchen and recreation rooms.

EDIT: this is my first time posting to this sub, the first 3 comments came immediately after I posted and were all posts meant to discourage hope in the future, and had similar account icons. I work in the field and this is very likely botting / comment farms. Has anyone else experienced this? And a third question… why? Why would someone put effort and/or money into discouraging a hopeful future on r/futurology ? Not a rhetorical question, there is a rational explanation I'm sure, but I can't think of it.

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Could a society of the future be one without money?

That is, if human labor was no longer required in the world.

Say that hypothetically, robots were able to perform any job needed to keep the world running, and humans did not need to work anymore. The robots are not sentient and thus do not require pay.

In this scenario, would there need to be such a thing as money anymore or could society exist without money? A person can just ask a robot for apples instead of going to the store and paying for them. They get the apples for free. There would still need to be regulations of some kind to make sure the rate of apple production can keep up with consumption, but things would have no price.

Does this scenario sound realistic (obviously taking into account robot technology way beyond that of today) or is it flawed? What am I overlooking? Are there places money would still be needed that I am not thinking of?

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Trouble with ambient noise? Could be brain cells firing
silhouette face in profile with rectangle of light on ear

In experiments, old mice were less capable than young mice of "turning off" certain actively firing brain cells in the midst of ambient noise.

The result, they say, creates a "fuzzy" sound stage that makes it difficult for the brain to focus on one type of sound—such as spoken words—and filter out surrounding "noise."

Scientists have long linked inevitable age-related hearing loss to hair cells in the inner ear that become damaged or destroyed over time.

But the researchers say their new studies, described in the Journal of Neuroscience, indicate that the brain has much to do with the condition, and it may be possible to treat such hearing loss by re-training the brain to tamp down the wildly firing neurons.

"There's more to hearing than the ear," says Patrick Kanold, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and School of Medicine. Kanold notes that most people will experience some kind of hearing loss after age 65, like the inability to pick out individual conversations in a bar or restaurant.

Kanold and his team recorded the activity of 8,078 brain cells, or neurons, in the auditory cortex brain region of 12 old mice (16–24 months old) and 10 young mice (2–6 months old).

First, the researchers conditioned the mice to lick a water spout when they heard a tone. Then, the same exercise was performed while playing "white noise" in the background.

Without the ambient noise, the old mice licked the water spout just as well as the young mice when they heard the tone.

When the researchers introduced the white noise, overall, the old mice were worse at detecting the tone and licking the spout than the young mice.

Also, the young mice tended to lick the spout at the onset or the end of the tone. Older mice licked it at the start of the tone cue but also showed licking before the tone was presented, indicating that they thought a tone was present when there wasn't one.

Next, to see how auditory neurons performed directly during such hearing tests, the researchers used a technique called two-photon imaging to peer into the auditory cortex in the mice. The technique uses fluorescence to identify and measure the activity of hundreds of neurons at the same time.

Under normal conditions, when brain circuitry worked correctly in the presence of ambient noise, some neuron activity increased when the mice heard the tone and, at the same time, other neurons became repressed, or turned off. In most of the old mice, however, the balance tipped to having mostly active neurons, and the neurons that were supposed to turn off when the tone was played in the presence of a noisy background failed to do so.

In addition, the researchers found that just before the tone cue, there was up to twice as much neuron activity in old mice than young mice, especially among males, causing the animals to lick the spout before the tone start.

A possible reason for that result, Kanold says, is that "in the old mice, the brain may be 'firing' or behaving as if a tone is present, when it's not."

The experiments with ambient noise also reveal that young mice experienced shifts in the ratio of active to inactive neurons, while older mice had more consistently active neurons overall. Thus, young mice could suppress the effects of ambient noise on neural activity while old mice could not, say the researchers.

"In older animals, ambient noise seems to make neuron activity more 'fuzzy,' disrupting the ability to distinguish individual sounds," says Kanold.

On the upside, Kanold believes that because of the mammalian brain's flexible learning potential, it can be "taught" to address the fuzziness in older animals, including humans.

"There may be ways to train the brain to focus on individual sound amid a cacophony of noise," he says.

Kanold notes that more research is needed to precisely map the connection between the inability to shut off certain neurons and hearing loss amid ambient sound, including the brain circuits involved and how they change with age, as well as the potential differences between male and female animals.

Additional coauthors are from the University of Maryland. Funding for the research came from the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

The post Trouble with ambient noise? Could be brain cells firing appeared first on Futurity.

There is a Case for Optimism in 2023
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Congress, with something that these days looks like a smidge of bipartisanship, has sent a bill with the Electoral Count Reform Act to President Joe Biden's desk, adding some insurance against any further attempts at electoral-vote chicanery.

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.

I indulged in my share of gloom in 2022, and I have plenty more where that came from. But I want to make the case for a certain amount of optimism in 2023—and to offer my gratitude to readers of the Daily. But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.

'No Good Thing Ever Dies'

Throughout 2022, I've worried a lot. I've had plenty of smaller gripes—that is my nature as a professional curmudgeon—but mostly, I've been concerned about world war, the rule of law, and the collapse of democracy. But here at the end of the year, I am optimistic, which is a surprise even to me. First things first, however. I want to thank the readers of the Daily and The Atlantic for your willingness to join me and my colleagues every week. I hope you'll stay with us in the coming year; a lot is going to happen in America and around the world, and I look forward to continuing to explore those issues with you.

Before we head off into 2023, let's think about why the past year wasn't as bad as we might think, and why the coming year might even be better.

The single most important story of the year is the resilience of democracy. Two great events (or, more accurately, non-events) reassured me as part of that heartening narrative: The Russians failed to win a war in Europe, and antidemocratic candidates failed to rebound in America. These were not small things, and indeed, I sometimes worry that Americans underestimate just how close to disaster we all came in 2022. I am not prone to World War II metaphors, but I was moved enough by the midterm elections to refer to them as "democracy's Dunkirk." My colleague Anne Applebaum, meanwhile, offered a terrifying picture of what the world would look like right now had Vladimir Putin's tanks taken Kyiv almost a year ago.

In 2022, however, the West chose to help Ukraine defend itself, and the voters chose to protect democracy. In fact, the American system is now engaged in a certain amount of healing, even if it doesn't feel that way. Election deniers, led by Kari Lake in Arizona, are regularly being told by the judicial system to go pound sand. Donald Trump's presidential campaign is, so far, a shambolic and pitiful mess. Congress, with something that these days looks like a smidge of bipartisanship, has sent a bill with the Electoral Count Reform Act to President Joe Biden's desk, adding some insurance against any further attempts at electoral-vote chicanery.

Meanwhile, consequences for coup plotters, seditionists, and other criminals are piling up. A group of Oath Keepers is facing real time in prison. Some of the January 6 rioters have gotten stiff sentences. And this morning, one of the ringleaders of the plot to kidnap Michigan's governor got sentenced to the big house for more than 19 years.

Even smaller stories had some positive lessons in them. For example, Elon Musk proved to us that billions of dollars cannot buy everything, and especially not competence or common sense. Tesla stock, the source of so much of Musk's fortune, has lost more than $800 billion—that's billion, with a B—in value, most of it vanishing after Musk's decision to detonate his reputation as a savvy businessman so that he could become the world's richest shitposter. If this makes people rethink worshipping rich celebrities, so much the better. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, meanwhile, finally dumped her affiliation as a Democrat, a move that was almost certainly prompted less by ideology than by her realization that she is deeply unpopular among Democrats and was likely to lose a primary in her own party. This ploy seems to have backfired; her approval rating has cratered, which suggests that voters finally might actually punish rank opportunism. Add to these stories the collective national shrug at Trump's entry into the GOP presidential race, and it looks like 2022 was a bad year for narcissism.

All of this optimism is making me itch, even if I am enjoying the schadenfreude, so let me suggest a few things that could go horribly wrong in 2023. Let's start with nuclear war.

Russia's war in Ukraine is nowhere near over. The Russians are in bad shape, but they still enjoy some immutable advantages in geography and manpower. The Kremlin might well try again to take Kyiv, or the Russian high command could simply decide to pursue meat-grinder battles across the eastern Ukrainian front. Putin is a terrible strategist, and if these next moves go badly for Russia, he could return to making unhinged threats. When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Putin loves life and doesn't want to die, he was right, but that's a different problem from Putin simply being a desperate gambler who could set in motion events he cannot control. The West must continue to send aid and weapons to Ukraine, but I have worried about unpredictable nuclear dangers in 2022, and I will continue to worry about them in 2023 and for as long as Putin pursues this mad war.

The crisis of American democracy is also not over yet. The Republicans—whose national elected members are still the main source of threats to the Constitution at this point—will take control of the House next month by a slim majority, and the 2024 Senate map favors the GOP. Trump's gambit to regain his office may well be thwarted, but by whom? It's not much of an improvement if he's edged out by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or one of the many other contenders whose goal is not to restore sanity to the GOP but to use its delusional base to gain the White House. The bright spot here is that GOP control of the House could be such a spectacular and ridiculous carnival in 2023 that voters in 2024 will remember why they were so reluctant during the midterms to let them back into power.

But we cannot end on a note of gloom. Consider this: Anyone who predicted at the end of 2021 that we'd be in such good shape heading into 2023 would have been dismissed as a Pollyanna. Besides, the challenges we'll face next year, including the preservation of democracy and the restoration of global peace, aren't new. We've faced them before, and we're still here in one piece. So let's celebrate by remembering the words of the great prison philosopher Andy Dufresne: "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

Tomorrow, my colleague Rebecca Rashid will be here to discuss how to have a happier life in 2023, and I'll be back on Friday with your New Year's resolutions—so remember to send those along to me at!


Today's News
  1. Ukraine's energy minister warned that New Year's Eve could exacerbate power outages in Ukraine. About 9 million people are currently cut off from power in different regions, according to President Zelensky.
  2. The final federal defendant convicted in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison.
  3. Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 5,000 flights on Wednesday as it stumbled to recover from the holiday travel chaos that ensued over the weekend as a result of a winter storm.

Evening Read
Fuzzy watercolor paintings of a gray whale, a yellow butterfly, and a brown bear
(Rop van Mierlo)

Will Children's Books Become Catalogs of the Extinct?

By Tatiana Schlossberg

The other night, as I began the expansive and continually growing routine of putting my 11-month-old son to bed, we sat together on the rocking chair in his room and read The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr, and met a tiger who just would not stop eating. My son wasn't yet ready for sleep and made that clear, so we read Chicken Soup With Rice, by Maurice Sendak. We encountered an elephant and a whale, and traveled through all the months of the year, braving the sliding ice of January and the gusty gales of November. Then we turned, as we always do, to Goodnight Moon, and met more bears, rabbits, a little mouse, a cow, some fresh air, and the stars.

As I slid the books back onto the shelf, they rejoined the long parade of animals around his bedroom: the moose and his muffin, Peter Rabbit, Elmer the patchwork elephant, Lars the polar bear, Lyle the crocodile, stuffed kangaroos and octopi and lions and turtles. Every night, I sing "Baby Beluga" to him as a lullaby: "Goodnight, little whale, goodnight."

Read the full article.

More From The Atlantic

Culture Break
A book stands alone casting a shadow.
(Joanne Imperio / The Atlantic)

Read. These eight books will comfort you when you're lonely.

Watch. Spend the holiday week with one of the best TV shows of the year, according to our critics.

Play our daily crossword.


Many years ago, my elderly father was widowed by my mother's sudden and unexpected death. My parents had a New Year's Eve tradition of ordering Chinese food and watching movies, and when my father found himself alone at 82 years old, I decided to continue that tradition by bringing him from Massachusetts to Rhode Island at the end of every year. The Chinese food was easy to replace, but my father was something of a difficult old coot about movies—and so one year, I decided to plop him in a big chair with the full set of episodes from HBO's World War II miniseries Band of Brothers. It worked like magic: My father was mesmerized, and peace reigned in the Nichols home.

I bring this up as a suggestion to Americans that they might consider watching the episode about the siege of Bastogne, in which U.S. forces were encircled by the Germans in Belgium for a brutal week in late December 1944. Cut off and surrounded by Nazi tanks, the Americans huddled in the bitter cold as the Germans rained artillery on them. The Germans were so sure of victory that they sent a note to the Americans to surrender rather than be annihilated (to which U.S. Army Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe replied, "Nuts!"). On December 26, Lieutenant General George Patton's Third Army arrived and broke the siege.

I recommend this not only so that we remember an important Christmas week nearly eight decades ago, but also so we bear in mind that as we celebrate with our family and friends this New Year's Eve, the Russians will be shelling and bombing Ukrainians in the same kind of unforgiving cold. (Yesterday, Russian forces struck a maternity hospital in Kherson.) The Ukrainian situation is not yet as desperate as Bastogne, but the misery and cold and violence are no less brutal. This year, be thankful for the sacrifices made by the "Battered Bastards of Bastogne," and hold a good thought for the Ukrainian defenders under siege today.

— Tom

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.



US to Require Negative Covid Tests for Travelers From China
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • US to Require Negative Covid Tests for Travelers From China
Amid concerns about a coronavirus surge in Beijing, the Biden administration announced the change in policy for those entering the United States from China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

If You Must Cry Over a Space Robot, Make It This One
Is this article about Electronics?

Here is the happy part: For more than four years, a funky-looking spacecraft did something remarkable. It was in many ways just another robot, a combination of hardy materials, circuits, and sensors with a pair of solar panels jutting out like wings on an insect. But this particular robot has listened to the ground shake on Mars. It has felt marsquakes beneath its little mechanical feet.

NASA and European space agencies designed the spacecraft to study these Martian quakes in detail. Mission managers, in their seemingly endless capacity to invent twisty acronym names for space-bound projects, called it Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport—or InSight, for short. Once on Mars, InSight couldn't go anywhere; it was a lander, not a rover, so the mission was rooted to the spot where it touched down. Every picture the robot beamed home showed the same dusty, cinnamon-colored expanse, but behind the understated photography, InSight was waiting for the marsquakes to roll in.

Here is the sad part: InSight stopped calling home this month. The mission, NASA concluded last week, had run out of energy. (Who says space exploration isn't relatable?) Dust has been accumulating on those bug-like solar panels all year, diminishing the lander's power supply until it couldn't even wake up.

[Read: Mars's soundscape is strangely beautiful]

The end of InSight prompted a round of doleful news coverage, with sweet praise for the little lander. We humans can't help but anthropomorphize robots, especially the ones we have dispatched to the other worlds in our solar system, tasked with absorbing all the wonder for us until they no longer can. (It didn't help that when the time came, NASA tweeted from the mission's account in the voice of the dying lander, "My power's really low, so this may be the last image I can send.")

The sappy reaction felt extra poignant this time around. A lander is less flashy, and perhaps less interesting, than a rover. It is easier to create a compelling, heartwarming story about a machine that roams the surface of an alien world and inspects the landscape with the delight of a small child finding a cool rock. It is easier still to fawn over a tiny helicopter on Mars, which flew for the first time last year. Even as the stationary InSight did historic work—studying the rumble of a world beyond Earth for the first time since the Apollo astronauts took seismometers to the moon—it seemed like a supporting character in the cast of Mars missions. There's no space robot I've wanted to anthropomorphize more.

Mars wasn't easy on InSight. Take the case of the soil snafu. The lander arrived on Mars in late 2018 with an instrument designed to hammer into the surface to measure the interior's heat. But no matter how hard InSight (and its stewards back home) tried, the instrument wouldn't sink into the ground. Based on their understanding of Mars's terrain, scientists had expected InSight to encounter fine, sandy soil at its landing site in Elysium Planitia, a flat plain near the equator. Instead, the soil was clumpy, providing little friction for the tool to work properly.

[Read: The luckiest rover]

Scientists and engineers spent two years trying to maneuver the instrument deeper beneath the surface, even telling InSight to use its robotic arm to help bury the instrument—a task that the arm wasn't meant for. But the tool remained stuck—seriously, so relatable!—and by early 2021, NASA was forced to give up on this part of the mission. "It's a huge disappointment," Sue Smrekar, the deputy principal investigator of the InSight mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told me back then.

InSight also suffered from a bit of a paradox: The very conditions that permitted it to do its work also eventually depleted its energy. (Again, I feel you, InSight.) The mission's seismometer was so sensitive that vibrations produced by the Martian wind could obscure a gentle tremor. That made the Martian summer, with its calmer weather, the best time to catch quakes. But windless days also allowed dust to accumulate on InSight's solar panels and blocked much-needed sunlight.

The mission didn't come with any dust-removing technology. InSight's human caretakers occasionally instructed the robot to use its robotic arm to sprinkle the solar panels with dirt, which, when swept away by the wind, took some of the smaller, stickier pieces of dust with it. In space exploration, mundane mechanisms can quickly become complicated, very expensive hardware that must be tested relentlessly here on Earth if they stand a chance of working on an entirely different world. Plus, interplanetary missions must travel light. Instead of investing in windshield wipers, mission managers chose to make the solar panels as large as they could so that the spacecraft could soak up more rays, even as the dust that would be its downfall began to pile up.

[Read: We've never seen Mars quite like this]

Despite the soil saga and its battery woes, InSight kept listening for marsquakes, detecting its largest earlier this spring, at a magnitude of 5. (On Earth, such a quake would rattle dishes and break windows.) InSight even detected the vibrations produced when meteoroids fell from the sky and hit the surface. And its readings clued astronomers in on the fact that Elysium Planitia is one of the most geologically exciting places on Mars: A recent analysis found that a plume of hot material is bubbling up through Mars's mantle like "hot blobs of wax rising in lava lamps," lifting part of the plain in a noticeable peak.

NASA says that it will continue to listen for a signal from InSight, but the lander is unlikely to pipe up again. The robot will become, like other Mars missions before it, a curious piece of junk courtesy of the aliens next door. From its perch, InSight explored Mars in a way no other mission to the red planet had done before, and the data will benefit future missions, including those that may someday include robots and people. The spacecraft felt something fascinating and truly alien on our behalf. Over a trying few years, it did its best.

Just How Badly Does Apple Need China?

Long before it reached your home, even before its tiny components were pieced together in an assembly plant, your phone was already one of the most complex gadgets in the world. It is the product of a delicate supply chain whose every link is forged by competing business and political interests.

That chain is starting to rattle and even break, as the global tech industry works to become less dependent on China. Earlier this month, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) held an event celebrating the expansion of its first major facility in the United States, a semiconductor plant in




. When the facility starts operating in early 2024, it will use the world's most precise manufacturing tools to etch billions of microscopic circuits onto the silicon chips that provide all of the world's computing power.

President Joe Biden attended the event and declared that TSMC's investment proved that "American manufacturing is back, folks." Morris Chang, TSMC's founder, said in a speech that "globalization is almost dead and free trade is almost dead."

The moment certainly was a turning point—both for technology manufacturing and for the fraught relationships among the United States, China, and Taiwan—but neither Biden nor Chang had things exactly right. The idea that the arrival of TSMC's factory in Arizona represents a new era of self-sufficiency or the end of globalization is a fantasy. Chang, a Taiwanese American tech tycoon, sits atop a chip industry that can function only by sourcing ultra-precise tools and materials from half a dozen advanced economies. His company's new Arizona facility is reportedly the largest foreign investment project in the state's history. Deglobalization this is not.

In fact, the CEOs in attendance at the ribbon cutting, including


's Tim Cook and AMD's Lisa Su, each of whom buys chips from TSMC, have no plans to make their far-flung supply chains any less complex. Instead, they're taking costly steps to reduce the share of their component production and assembly that takes place in China or Taiwan, to insure themselves against the growing risk that tensions between the U.S. and China finally snap. Any military escalation in the Taiwan Strait would not only be a grave geopolitical crisis—it would also tear apart the world's semiconductor and electronics supply chains and pose a critical threat to America's biggest tech firms.

TSMC sits at the epicenter of the world's tech supply chains. It produces 90 percent of the world's most advanced processor chips, all of them in a handful of facilities in Taiwan. More than a third of the new computing power the world adds each year comes from Taiwan. Companies like Apple—TSMC's biggest customer—would struggle to make anything if TSMC's production were knocked offline. iPhones, iPads, Macbooks, and AirPods all work thanks to TSMC-manufactured chips inside.

Apple is in a particularly difficult position. For years, China has been Apple's second-largest market, behind only the United States. China is also where most Apple products are assembled, by hundreds of thousands of workers, employed by Taiwanese manufacturers such as Foxconn and Wistron, which manage the process of gluing together the electronic guts inside each iPhone.

[Read: China's war against Taiwan has already started]

Apple is therefore doubly vulnerable to Chinese escalation against Taiwan. The most important and complex component in each iPhone can be manufactured only in Taiwan. But almost all iPhones are assembled just across the strait in China. A Chinese blockade or a war would drive Apple's production volume very close to zero.

Thus, for years, Apple's leaders have tried to stay close to China's rulers without crossing any of Washington's red lines. Cook went so far as to join the advisory board of the business school at Tsinghua, the Chinese university that educated Xi Jinping and is spearheading many of the Chinese government's tech-development efforts. And his company has played an important role in advancing China's tech sector by assembling devices there and by buying more than ever from Chinese suppliers. Yuqing Xing, an economist at Japan's Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, analyzed Apple's supply chain in 2019 and found that, for the iPhone X, important components such as antennae, wireless charging systems, and circuit boards, totaling about 25 percent of the device's manufacturing costs, were all sourced from Chinese firms. That's a sharp contrast to earlier models such as the iPhone 3G, for which all the key components came from Japan, the U.S., Korea, and Germany. Xing's analysis found that for this phone, China accounted for just a little over 3 percent of the manufacturing cost—not by adding components but through wages paid to the workers gluing components together.

Earlier this year, Apple was even poised to buy memory chips from Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), a chipmaker that has attracted criticism from U.S. politicians for reportedly violating U.S. export-control law while receiving billions of dollars of Chinese government subsidies. Apple changed tack only after the Biden administration rolled out new export controls in October that limit U.S. firms from dealing with YMTC. (A spokesperson for Apple did not respond to a request for comment about the company's relationship with YMTC.) Because YMTC is the largest producer of this type of chip in China, Washington's blacklisting of YMTC all but guarantees that in the future, Apple will source its memory chips only from American, Korean, or Japanese suppliers.

Now Apple is restructuring its supply chain in case its relationship with Beijing sours. In recent years, Apple has opened small assembly facilities outside China, primarily in Vietnam and India. Driven partly by rising labor costs in China and partly by a fear of excessive dependence on a volatile leadership in Beijing, other electronics firms had already moved abroad. The recent COVID-induced chaos at a Foxconn facility producing iPhones in Zhengzhou only adds to the pressure for diversification.

Samsung, for example, assembles many of its phones in Vietnam, where it has a substantial production base. This is part of the reason Vietnam recently overtook the U.K. as America's seventh-biggest trade partner. Now Apple is opening Vietnamese assembly lines for Apple Watches and MacBooks alongside the AirPods and iPads already produced in the country. It's also partnering with India's Tata Group, an influential business conglomerate, to assemble iPhones. Analysts at JP Morgan have predicted that 25 percent of Apple products may be assembled outside China by 2025, a drastic increase over today's 5 percent.

[Read: Don't trash your old phone—give it a second life]

This would represent a major shift in international supply chains, but crucial smartphone components would still come from a global supply chain. And the phones would still be assembled far from major markets in advanced economies.

TSMC, for example, will still manufacture the most advanced chips in Taiwan, in order to maintain a competitive edge. Every year, the company rolls out an updated manufacturing process exclusively in its Taiwanese plants, which Apple almost always uses for the chips in each year's new iPhone. The $40 billion facility TSMC is opening in Arizona is likely to provide only the company's second-most-advanced manufacturing process. The most complex chips, including the processors in iPhones, will still be made in Taiwan.

This is part of the reason the chips manufactured in Arizona, or in other new plants planned across the United States, don't provide any real measure of self-sufficiency. Smartphones and PCs won't be assembled in the U.S. anytime soon. Nor will they be made of primarily U.S.-built components, given unique Korean and Japanese specialties such as producing screens and image sensors. Indeed, some of the chips that TSMC eventually fabricates in Arizona and sells to Apple may even end up in China, where Apple is likely to retain a substantial product-assembly base for the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, China will be affected by these supply-chain shifts. The task of finding new jobs for assembly workers as Foxconn and Apple shift their focus to Vietnam and India is the easiest problem Beijing must deal with. Chinese firms have advanced by embedding themselves into international supply chains and learning from the world's best tech firms—a strategy that will no longer work if companies like Apple shift their businesses elsewhere.

U.S. tech firms and consumers won't notice too much change, except maybe for slightly higher prices as the supply chain shifts away from China. Companies will still rely on Japanese and Korean components and offshored assembly, especially in Vietnam and India. This isn't the end of globalization for U.S. tech or for American allies. But it sure feels like it for Chinese tech firms.

Elon Musk's Text Messages Explain Everything
Is this article about Tech?

As the year comes to a close, I cannot stop thinking about … a court document. Plaintiffs in Twitter, Inc. v. Elon R. Musk et al. filed Exhibit H just before sunrise on September 29 in Delaware's Court of Chancery. If you've seen excerpts, you probably know it by its street name: Elon Musk's texts.

Exhibit H is remarkable insomuch as it is a spreadsheet containing the private messages between the (then) richest man in the world and his friends, associates, and hangers-on while they discuss buying one of the world's most influential communications platforms—just for kicks. Leafing through Exhibit H, you will feel like you should never have seen these communications, and yet there they are, on display for the hordes of the internet, courtesy of the legal system.

I wrote about the texts back in September, arguing that they demonstrated "just how unimpressive, unimaginative, and sycophantic the powerful men in Musk's contacts appear to be." I still believe that. But now, armed with three months of hindsight, I've begun to think of Exhibit H as a skeleton key for the final, halcyon days of the tech boom—unlocking an understanding of the cultural brain worms and low-interest-rate hubris that defined the industry in 2022. What we see in Exhibit H is only a tiny snapshot of a very important inbox, but it's enough to make this one of the most revealing documents in a year that's been absolutely overflowing with tech disclosures—from Peiter Zatko's leaks, to FTX's balance sheet, to the "Twitter Files" championed by Musk himself.

Beyond the obvious tabloid intrigue, what's most striking is how Musk's texts shed light on two of 2022's biggest tech meltdowns. If you came out of a lengthy coma in mid-December, puzzled by headlines about collapsing crypto exchanges and once-beloved entrepreneurs behaving like villains, you could read a copy of Exhibit H and understand everything with surprising clarity. The texts are, of course, a guide to the events that ultimately led Musk to purchase Twitter—a decision that has tanked his net worth, saddled his new asset with debt, and led to the quick erosion of his reputation as a savvy businessman. But also lurking in Musk's inbox is Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the now-collapsed crypto exchange FTX, who was arrested in the Bahamas when federal prosecutors charged him with defrauding investors and customers.

[Read: Whistleblowing is broken]

For better or worse, Musk's Twitter takeover and SBF's downfall are two of the most symbolically resonant tech stories of 2022. You could view them as reckonings for supposed tech visionaries and the ways in which Silicon Valley's hype machine dashes against the rocks of reality. It's unfair to suggest that a few personalities are behind all of tech's troubles—which this year included layoffs at companies such as Meta and Snap and a general feeling that we may be approaching the end of the social-media era—but the Musk texts demonstrate a decadence, an unearned confidence, and a boy's-club mentality that coincide with the cultural disillusionment regarding the genius-innovator narrative.

In June, I snarkily coined the Elon Musk School of Management to describe the petulant way that some tech founders, such as Musk and Coinbase's Brian Armstrong, seemed to use confrontational, culture-warring, Twitter-addled thought leadership as a business tactic. The Musk School revolves around two principles: running a company in an authoritarian manner, and ensuring that every management decision is optimized to make news and hijack the attention of those following along on social media. One can see this exact mentality at work in the Musk texts. In message after message, contacts urge Musk to take control of Twitter and solve its problem as only he can. This trend extends beyond Twitter: This year, Musk's peers at companies such as Meta cracked down on employees, hoping to usher in a more authoritarian brand of management after years of free lunches, competitive perks, and remote work.

The Musk messages also reveal how some of the richest and most powerful men in the world treat actual billions of dollars with a level of care more appropriate for a 3-year-old tossing around Monopoly cash. Oracle's founder, Larry Ellison, essentially writes Musk a blank check over text, pledging, "A billion … or whatever you recommend." The venture capitalist Marc Andreessen unsolicitedly offers Musk "$250M with no additional work required." And Michael Grimes, a top investment banker at Morgan Stanley, proposes a meeting with Bankman-Fried as a way to "get us $5bn equity in an hour."

"Does Sam actually have $3bn liquid?" Musk asks. (It's unclear why he got the number wrong.) Grimes says that he believes so. Musk appears nonplussed but willing to do whatever is necessary to get some quick cash: "So long as I don't have to have a laborious blockchain debate," he quips. (Seven months after this exchange, Bankman-Fried would claim to have no more than $100,000 to his name.)

The blitheness is the point. It is a total power move to talk about getting "$5bn in equity in an hour" the same way we mere mortals talk about Venmo-ing a friend $15 for lunch. The texts make it clear that these men are fundamentally alienated from the rest of the world by their wealth. "In one sense, the texts show that billionaires are just like us—they're not doing advanced calculus; they're in their DMs talking smack, making jokes, and trying desperately to get their way," Lauren Pringle, the editor in chief of The Chancery Daily, told me recently. But she added: "These are absolutely not normal people with a normal understanding of the world."

There is an undeniable hubris on display in Exhibit H. One could argue that a reason these men appear so nonchalant about offering no-strings-attached billions is that they've been conditioned by years of low interest rates and a booming tech sector to assume that their fortunes will only ever grow, regardless of the business decisions they make. The men in Musk's phone also appear wildly confident in their own abilities and those of their peers. Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of the media conglomerate Axel Springer, infamously texted Musk his bullet-pointed plan for Twitter, which began with the line item "1.),, Solve Free Speech."

Exhibit H also shows what happens when somebody with actual expertise questions the visionaries. The entire document is a demonstration of elite-level brownnosing, with the exception of one man: then-Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. The two seem to hit it off—Musk likes that Agrawal is an engineer who can "do hardcore programming"—but then Agrawal sends Musk a text about his unhinged tweets. "You are free to tweet 'is Twitter dying' or anything else about Twitter – but it's my responsibility to tell you that it's not helping me make Twitter better in the current context," he says to Musk. This small suggestion appears to enrage Musk and, it seems, alters the entire history of the company forever. "What did you get done this week?" Musk shoots back. And then, less than one minute later, the billionaire writes, "I'm not joining the board. This is a waste of time. Will make an offer to take Twitter private."

Exhibit H isn't just revealing—the existence of the document itself may have also hastened Musk's purchase of the company. The texts exist for us to see because Musk, in a fit of buyer's remorse, tried to back out of the deal, and Twitter sued. Although it's unclear exactly what triggered Musk to settle the suit and continue with the Twitter purchase (he didn't respond to a request for comment), one popular theory is that Exhibit H may have forced his hand. "I won't speculate on his motivations, because he's such an enigma," Pringle said, "but it seems likely that some of these people in Musk's phone reached out to him saying, 'Come on, man, this is embarrassing. Make this stop.'"

Exhibit H didn't have to be public at all. According to The Chancery Daily's reporting, it was initially filed under seal with no objection from Twitter's legal team. But Musk's team unexpectedly asked for the document to be unsealed. A leading theory is that this was a tactic from Musk's lawyers to tie opposing counsel up in busy work. If that was the case, the move clearly backfired—yet another act, born out of hubris, that went awry.

It is not difficult to look at these texts and understand how someone like Musk could now find himself in his current, unenviable economic situation and growing ever more reactionary.

Reading through Exhibit H, it's also easy to see how Bankman-Fried accumulated venture money with hardly any investigation into his company's finances. In one overlooked text message, one of Musk's friends, the former Hollywood agent Michael Kives, casually suggests, "It could be cool to [do the Twitter deal] with Sam Bankman-Fried." Subsequent reporting showed that Kives had taken a $300 million loan from Bankman-Fried's hedge fund, Alameda Research. You can just imagine the contents of SBF's own phone and the fawning conversations between the former billionaire and the men looking to stay in his orbit. And it's also quite easy, reading these text messages, to understand why venture funds are facing tough questions from investors and the public about their decisions to loan money to questionable businesses without doing due diligence.

These are, of course, lessons built off of extrapolation and hindsight. But they are important ones: They teach us what happens when a small group of people with too much money come to view that money not just as a reward for success, but as its own form of merit—a specious achievement that totally alienates them from reality.

Ultimately, Exhibit H documents the loneliness and isolation of being the world's richest man. As told via the texts, the seed of Musk's Twitter purchase was planted by sycophants deferential to the billionaire who will never give him hard, truthful advice, because they wish to stay close to him. Indeed, the one time he receives actual, honest feedback from Agrawal, Musk behaves aggressively and impulsively, sealing his fate.

Sifting through the desiccated wreckage of Twitter is raising endless questions about the fate of the platform and what it means for us all. But one question we don't need to ask is how we got here. For that, we have Exhibit H.

Meet the mineral known as the time lord

Zircon is the "time-lords" of the earth. They are indestructible and take up radioactive materials, so they're used to track events in deep time that would otherwise be lost to us.

Is this article about Pharma?

(Credit: Valstar et al/Radiotherapy and Oncology)
You'd think that existing exclusively within the human body would give way to a complete knowledge of the organs hidden within. Instead, we're constantly discovering new parts of the weird and glorious biological machine we each call home. The latest in these discoveries are the "tubarial glands," a pair of small organs responsible for producing saliva.

Oncologists from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam were conducting cancer research earlier this year when they happened upon the "new" glands. Radiation oncologist Wouter Vogel, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Matthijs Valstar, and their team have been working to improve the research community's understanding of cancers occurring in the head and neck. They were using positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) scans—known for helping to track metastasizing prostate cancer—to study patients' mouth, throat, and other cancers when the scans' radioactive glucose lit up an unfamiliar part of the face.

Scan after scan, the same part of the patients' faces continued to glow. Exactly 100 consecutive patients and cadavers possessed the same strange bright spot, prompting Vogel and Valstar to investigate. Contrary to what they expected, the spot wasn't an anomaly—it was a whole new organ consisting of two salivary glands.

(Credit: Valstar et al/Radiotherapy and Oncology)

The team has dubbed the glands "tubarial glands" for their location within the body. They're about the same size as the body's three main salivary glands but sit on either side of the nasopharynx, which connects the nasal passages to the rest of the human body's respiratory system. Most salivary and mucous glands within the nasopharynx are microscopic in size, which explains Vogel's and Valstar's surprise during the initial PET/CT scans.

The discovery is highly relevant to the team's main oncological mission. Radiotherapy, which is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, can trigger complications within salivary glands. "Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden," Vogel said in a statement.

Researchers at University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) subsequently studied 723 cancer patients and found that increased radiotherapy correlated with increased salivary gland issues, including with the newly-discovered tubarial glands. As a result, radiotherapists will need to avoid delivering radiation to this portion of the body as they do with more familiar salivary glands.

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