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Emotional intelligence and it's importance in business.

Hi, I'm doing an NVQ in Learning and Development and my tutor believes I display Emotional intelligence, in fact she personally recommended me for my current job as trainer for the company I work for because of it.

'What Is Emotional Intelligence? The Ability to Perceive, Evaluate, Express, and Control Emotions'

What i'd like to ask is, why is that EQ is argued to be as good for business as IQ?

And on a personal level why does she think I have it in abundance and I don't, I express emotion, but not always controlled often in a toys out the pram kinda way, no aggression, and one of the main qualities is self awareness, and how can I have a good EQ if I am not even self aware if I am EQ or not. Surely a person would know they have those qualities, some in arrogant ways, others in confidence ways and others in natural aura and I have none of them.

Although I am recovering from depression and financial issues at the moment so maybe that cloud is suppressed a little self believe.

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Are Vaccine-Advocates "Idiots", Indifferent to the Death of a Mentally Ill Woman and Her Family?

Rather than face the real-world consequences of their anti-vaccine advocacy, it's easier for contrarian doctors to fantasize that COVID's youngest victims were mere figments of our imagination.

The post Are Vaccine-Advocates "Idiots", Indifferent to the Death of a Mentally Ill Woman and Her Family? first appeared on Science-Based Medicine.
Unknowns Swirl Around How Plastic Particles Impact the Climate
Is this article about ESG?
Recent studies reveal that tiny pieces of plastic are constantly lofted into the atmosphere in larger amounts than scientists originally thought. These particles travel thousands of miles and can seed clouds — sometimes powerfully — which means they could impact temperature, rainfall, and even climate change.
Is this article about Pharma?

Nature Communications, Published online: 14 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36310-9

 is one of the most common forms of death for 
gastrointestinal cancers
, however, its cell composition is incompletely understood. Here, the authors use single cell RNA-seq of peritoneal metastases from 35 patients and show diversity in immune cells, and plasticity in 
 cell phenotypes and autophagy related genes as biomarkers of prognosis.
A tool to prevent deaths due to female underrepresentation in clinical trials
Women are often underrepresented in cardiac clinical trials—yet they are at least at equally high risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, and at higher risk of developing drug-induced heart complications compared to men. Clinical trials of medicines generally rely on electrocardiograms (EKG) to measure a patient's heart's response to a medicine and determine its safety, yet males and females have a number of differences in their heart physiology that are reflected in consistent variations in their EKGs. As a result, a drug that might appear to be safe in males may not be safe for females.
Is this article about Pharma?
Women are often underrepresented in cardiac clinical trials—yet they are at least at equally high risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, and at higher risk of developing drug-induced heart complications compared to men. Clinical trials of medicines generally rely on electrocardiograms (EKG) to measure a patient's heart's response to a medicine and determine its safety, yet males and females have a number of differences in their heart physiology that are reflected in consistent variations in their EKGs. As a result, a drug that might appear to be safe in males may not be safe for females.
Tell your partner you love them – not just on Valentine's Day, but every day | Susanna Abse

Years as a therapist have taught me that silence ruins relationships. So forget the cards and the roses and celebrate each other

I popped into my local newsagent last week to pick up a copy of the Guardian newspaper and, as I stood in the queue, I realised I was standing next to a rack of Valentine's Day cards.

I began to browse and was struck by how many of the cards were humorous. Some were just silly – "dim sum-body say it's Valentine's Day?", or there was one with a couple in the bathroom – "Roses are red, violets are blue, you shave your legs while I do a poo!" But to my surprise, there were also a lot of cards that were very explicit – "Roses are red, I'm shit at poems. Fancy a shag?" These cards had a laddish, rather adolescent quality.

Susanna Abse is a couple psychotherapist and author of Tell Me the Truth About Love

Continue reading…
Skeptical Science News: The Rebuttal Update Project

We are pleased to announce that a major new project is well underway at Skeptical Science. The work involves not only updating our popular rebuttals for the most-used climate myths but also adding entry-level sections to each topic, thereby widening the accessibility of the resource to as many folk as possible. And we want you, the readers, to join in with the project.

Share Graphic


Some context

Why was Skeptical Science put together in the first place? Because of climate science deniers. Who? Deniers, or denialists, are people motivated to argue against reality. Climate change is just one example of a topic that attracts such attention. Previously, campaigns were run, for example, to gloss over the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. Tellingly, some of the same actors were involved in both campaigns.

What was the root cause of climate science denial? Profit, or more precisely perceived loss of profit. The response of the fossil fuels sector to the perceived changes required to address global warming was to engage in a concerted campaign to play down its seriousness. Climate change thereby became politicised. Creation and circulation of the political talking-points was easy: the pre-existing network of free market and Conservative-leaning think-tanks and media channels was ready and waiting.

Talking-points were carefully crafted and then tested with focus groups to determine their "stickiness" – meaning that a sticky message would take hold in peoples' minds, no matter how untrue it was. They were not messing around. In this game, all that was needed was to spread doubt and confusion.

From this embryonic start, climate science denial spread like a deadly plague. Books, bogus journals, fake conferences and documentaries also played their part as people increasingly fell victim to the onslaught of misinformation. Those actively promoting climate change denialism (Tier 1 deniers) relied on such an effect taking place: they needed a citizens' army to repeat those sticky messages (Tier 2 deniers) and they got one.

For those interested in further reading on this matter, well-documented in its entirety, it's worth getting hold of a copy of the excellent book, Climate Cover-up, by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore. It has aged well since its publication in 2009 – by which time much of the damage had been done. The first chapter is available here in PDF format as a taster.

Cover Up


Above – Front cover of Climate Cover-up – an account of how the organised climate change denial campaign evolved. As Bill McKibben commented about that campaign: "Forget about the crime of the century – this probably qualifies as the crime of the geological epoch."

Skeptical Science, founded by John Cook in 2007, was always the David fighting Goliath in this very unevenly-sided battle, but it has continued to root out misinformation ever since its inception. Its aim was always to provide a science-based response to climate science denialism. It was a remarkable, even heroic effort, built by a small but determined team of volunteers.

Updating our rebuttals

Our well-used database of denialist talking points has had over 36 million views since 2017 alone. The database carries entries on over 200 climate change denial talking points, referred to as "Myths", and the science-based rebuttals to each of them. Many of these rebuttals date back to 2010 or earlier and in some cases developments in science have rendered these originals out of date (and the myths even more ridiculous). We started an updating programme some years ago, but now we are taking a more structured approach.

We decided that rather than fix these rebuttals in an ad-hoc fashion, a full review would be useful as a first step. The review found that most rebuttals lacked an entry-level version, an easy read for people unfamiliar with the terminology and methods of science. This is a major accessibility issue. Some rebuttals had a "basic" version but no "intermediate" or "advanced" equivalents. In other cases, there was only an intermediate entry. Some basic-level rebuttals were written in a more accessible style than others. So we have identified a number of tasks to undertake.

As an initial step we took a sample of the most frequently-read rebuttals and updated them to include entry-level versions. These "at-a-glance" sections are short (ideally under 500 words) and written in a style intended to hold the reader from start to finish.

Three key principles are employed with the "at a glance" sections, based on the assumption that we may at times be visited by readers who are interested but who are relatively new to the subject. Firstly, we strive to write engagingly, as if we are having a friendly fire-side conversation, using analogies with everyday life where possible. Secondly, we try to avoid anything that could be distracting such as links or anything off-putting like unnecessary or unintroduced technical terms. Last but not least, the end of each short rebuttal should be memorable, so it sticks in the reader's mind.

At a glance top


Above – a new-style rebuttal for a well-known climate myth now including the "at a glance" section.

Beneath each such entry-level section is the existing "basic" rebuttal, updated where necessary and headed "Further details". The reader will therefore already be in the existing system, familiar to regular readers of Skeptical Science, that includes links to the more heavily-referenced intermediate and advanced-level rebuttals. Note that some excellent updating work has already been done – but only for some rebuttals.

This first batch of new rebuttals is a pick from a larger number we have completed. They were selected to provide a range of topics that vary in their complexity. At one end there are frankly daft statements like "the climate's changed before". Daft because it's a meaningless statement to make, without revealing what happened when it did. At the other, we deal with contentious claims such as the greenhouse gas theory breaking the second law of thermodynamics, where a minor treatise is required to explain Earth's energy budget and heat transfer within the atmosphere. It's easy to create denialist talking-points about such things but it's a lot harder to properly rebut such claims because it becomes necessary to tell the reader what is actually going on.

Many advanced rebuttals are pretty much journal-standard pieces, often written by a specialist working at that level. Based on our stats, the demographic that reads these is relatively small. Our priority for this first round of updates is therefore to add an at-a-glance section to each basic rebuttal and applying updates to these and the intermediate rebuttal versions as needed. After all, the vast majority of people we need to reach exist outside of the world of science and almost certainly outside of climate science, where the consensus that humans are causing global warming is very strong indeed. If we are to create a resource that is universally useful, we need to address that particular point. Nevertheless, if you once authored an advanced rebuttal and feel you can now add an update, then please feel free to get in touch with us!

At a glance bottom


Above – another section of the same rebuttal, with the feedback form linked above "Further details".

Quality Control-CHECK

Where do you, our regular readers, come into the equation? Well, before we further develop this system, we would like to get some feedback from you. A special kind of feedback in fact. We invite you to look at the selection of rebuttals we've now completed and fill out the Google-form you'll see at the end of "at a glance" in the blue box. We'd also very much appreciate it if you shared our ask with friends and relatives to read the at-a-glance sections and to gauge their usefulness by providing feedback as well. We want to know whether those short pieces have improved their understanding of climate-related issues.

Feedback form


Ideally, the people you forward this to will be from outside the world of science and ambivalent with regard to the whole area of climate change. Why? We want to determine how we can play our part to help people understand, especially those in a fence-sitting position (a huge demographic), why action on climate change is so important. Get enough of those on-board and a movement becomes a torrent. Please follow the links below to view the updated rebuttals.

Myths with link to rebuttal

Climate's changed before  
Temperature records are unreliable  
It hasn't warmed since 1998  
Ice age predicted in the 1970s  
CRU emails suggest conspiracy  
CO2 lags temperature  
Antarctica is gaining ice  
The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics  
It's the sun  
What evidence is there for the hockey stick  
Is this article about Neuroscience?

Nature Communications, Published online: 14 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36480-6

Developing an artificial olfactory system that can mimic the biological functions remains a challenge. Here, the authors develop an artificial chemosensory synapse based on a flexible organic electrochemical transistor gated by the potential generated by the interaction of gas molecules with ions in a chemoreceptive ionogel.
Seeking out a specific Futurology-related post

Years ago on reddit, I read a thought-provoking piece (not sure if it was an external article or text post) about how, in a theoretical distant future, most people who are alive today will be studied as historical figures. The argument went something like: simply by virtue of exponential population growth, there will eventually be an unimaginably large number of historians, each becoming more and more specialized as any possible piece of historical information is exhaustively analyzed. To the point where each of us here, right now, will be studied just because the information will still be available because it's digital.

The title was something along the lines of "In the future, there will be an academic conference about you"

Any chance anyone knows what I'm talking about and where I could find it?

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Is this article about Machine Learning?

It struck me that there could be a dark side to the advancement of AI.

What if all the information that AI companies (like OpenAI with ChatGPT) collect through prompts – detailed information about our lives, needs, wants, passions, and so on – is used to train an AI and create a model for each customer, which is then sold to the highest bidder? This would be similar to what Facebook did with their customer information, but it would be much more intrusive because AI would create a kind of "parrot" version of the customer. This version would be able to answer questions and try to predict what the ACTUAL you would say.

Being that such a system's accuracy will only get better, it could get really scary, really fast. What do you say about my crazy theory? Am I totally mad or is there a real possibility this might happen?

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Futurologists reading list

Years ago I saw a show regarding big thinkers etc. I remember they interviewed a gentleman whose career was predicting the future. His clients were corporations. The only other thing I remember from the show/movie was the guy who sings "shit, fuck stack" being interviewed in a cab.

It got me to wonder what, if any, futurologists authors this sub reads.

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Nature Communications, Published online: 14 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36445-9

APOBEC's are a family of cytidine deaminases that induce mutations in viruses to inhibit their replication and maintain cell integrity. Here, Manjunath et al show that 
 also inhibits viral replication by stimulating the innate immune sensor protein kinase R causing translational shutdown and stress granule formation independently of its cytidine deaminase activity.
Antibiotic resistance: where do we go next? – podcast

Climate change and pollution are the latest factors contributing to a global rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to a report from the UN environment agency. Given that no new class of antibiotics has been discovered since the 1980s, what are our best hopes for tackling these bugs in the future? Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian's science correspondent Hannah Devlin about genetically modified bacteria, the potential of plant toxins, and why scientists are hunting for viruses known as 'bacteriophages' in birdbaths and sewers

Clips: CNBC

Continue reading…
Antibiotic resistance: where do we go next?

download(size: 23 MB )
Climate change and pollution are the latest factors contributing to a global rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to a report from the UN environment agency. Given that no new class of antibiotics has been discovered since the 1980s, what are our best hopes for tackling these bugs in the future? Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian's science correspondent Hannah Devlin about genetically modified bacteria, the potential of plant toxins, and why scientists are hunting for viruses known as 'bacteriophages' in birdbaths and sewers. Help support our independent journalism at
Is this article about Neuroscience?
For all of the still-indistinguishable-from-magic wizardry packed into the three pounds of the adult human brain, it obeys the same rule as the other living tissue it controls: Oxygen is a must. So it was with a touch of irony that a scientists offered his explanation for a technological wonder — movable, data-covered walls mere atoms wide — that may eventually help computers behave more like a brain. 'There was unambiguous evidence that oxygen vacancies are responsible for this,' Tsymbal said.

(I'm not going to get into the inevitable pushback around the idea of radically defining the human genome or alternately creating an AI successor species), but is it possible to have a populous species either on Earth or of alien origin that is free of internal violence and conflict by using some combination of AI/programming, genetic modification, drugs, and/or education? Or would that species inevitably either stagnate or be crushed by natural selection and the realities of finite resources per star system? To quote an old sci-fi author:

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. -J.B. Cabell

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Drawing the line between positive use of technology and degeneracy

One of the things an advanced society with powerful automation and transhuman augmentation tech is going to need to do is draw the line between what is a legit use of technology and what is just decadent and degenerate. Obviously this line is somewhat arbitrary but where it is drawn will have a big impact on a civilizations future.

For example, an automatic kitchen that cooks any meal you want seems like a very beneficial use of automation but a bed with an automatic toilet robot is just degenerate and lazy (unless you are injured or something). The same problems exist with human augmentation. Increasing your intelligence to better understand the universe and the self would be widely considered as an honorable pursuit while turning yourself into a furry sex machine may not be. Obviously there will be a lot of gray areas as well.

Hopefully future societies will have cultural institutions that help prevent or at least discourage dead end and degenerate uses of technology. Where do you guys think this line should be drawn?

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Smash or pass? This computer can tell
Could an app tell if a first date is just not that into you? Engineers say the technology might not be far off. They trained a computer to identify the type of conversation two people were having based on their physiological responses alone.
Time of day may determine the amount of fat burned by exercise
Physical activity at the right time of the day seems able to increase fat metabolism, at least in mice. A new study shows that mice that did exercise in an early active phase, which corresponds to morning exercise in humans, increased their metabolism more than mice that did exercise at a time when they usually rest.
Atom-thin walls could smash size, memory barriers in next-gen devices
Is this article about Neuroscience?
For all of the still-indistinguishable-from-magic wizardry packed into the three pounds of the adult human brain, it obeys the same rule as the other living tissue it controls: Oxygen is a must. So it was with a touch of irony that a scientists offered his explanation for a technological wonder — movable, data-covered walls mere atoms wide — that may eventually help computers behave more like a brain. 'There was unambiguous evidence that oxygen vacancies are responsible for this,' Tsymbal said.
Biodiversity engine for fishes: Shifting water depth
Is this article about Climate?
Fish, the most biodiverse vertebrates in the animal kingdom, present evolutionary biologists a conundrum: The greatest species richness is found in the world's tropical waters, yet the fish groups that generate new species most rapidly inhabit colder climates at higher latitudes. A new study helps to explain this paradox. The researchers discovered that the ability of fish in temperate and polar ecosystems to transition back and forth from shallow to deep water triggers species diversification. Their findings suggest that as climate change warms the oceans at higher latitudes, it will impede the evolution of fish species.
Urban gardens are good for ecosystems and humans
Is this article about Animals?
Traditionally, it has been assumed that cultivating food leads to a loss of biodiversity and negative impacts on an ecosystem. A new study defies this assumption, showing that community gardens and urban farms positively affect biodiversity, local ecosystems and the well-being of humans that work in them.
For leaders, playing favorites can be a smart strategy
As anyone who's worked in an office, a factory, or any other workplace can attest, sometimes bosses play favorites. Whether it's assigning the most comfortable cubicles or the best parking spots, or deciding whose opinions take precedence during planning sessions, leaders inevitably wind up treating some employees better than others.
Millions of endurance runners use footwear that has an embedded carbon fiber plate (CFP) in the midsole. While the performance benefits that carbon fiber plate footwear offers have been well documented, little has been published about running 
 related to use of this footwear. In a current opinion piece, authors describe five cases in which runners using carbon fiber plate footwear sustained bone stress injuries.
Researchers reveal the oldest spinosaur brains
 from the University of Southampton and Ohio University have reconstructed the brains and inner ears of two British spinosaurs, helping uncover how these large predatory dinosaurs interacted with their environment.
Fighting the Eyes in the Sky

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.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET on February 13, 2023

Over the past few weeks, U.S. military aircraft have shot down four "objects" over North America, one of which U.S. officials claim was a Chinese surveillance balloon. This is unusual but not a cause for panic.

First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.

99 Red (Chinese?) Balloons

Almost everyone of, ahem, a certain age will remember the 1983 hit song "99 Red Balloons" by the German singer Nena. A classic bit of Cold War pop culture, the lyrics tell a story of a girl buying some balloons and letting them go into the air—where they are promptly misidentified as a threat by the world's militaries, who then mistakenly launch World War III and destroy the planet. The song ends leaving Nena "standing pretty" in "this dust that was a city." (Or, if you prefer the original German lyrics, die Welt in Trümmern liegen ["the world lies in ruins."])

So let's start by noting that whatever is going over the United States and Canada, it's not that kind of threat. There are some objects over our shared continent, and these objects, according to both Washington and Ottawa, don't belong there. Four of them have been shot down, including one taken down in an operation by NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian command that has been defending North American airspace since the early days of the Cold War. This is a first: Until last week, NORAD had never shot down anything.

These facts don't tell us very much, and with so much still unclear, the Biden administration isn't sharing a whole lot at the moment. So let's consider a few possibilities.

The simplest answer is that these objects are Chinese surveillance balloons. The National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, said today that China "has a high-altitude balloon program for intelligence collection" and that at the present time, the program isn't very good, but it's improving. In a clapback at the administration's critics, Kirby noted that the Chinese program "was operating during the previous administration, but they did not detect it. We detected it."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday claimed that the object downed on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina, along with two other objects taken down over Alaska and Canada, were all surveillance balloons. This assertion is especially plausible given the alacrity with which the Canadians, after consultation with the Americans, ordered NORAD jets to destroy the object over the Yukon. (The Canadian rationale was that the object posed a threat to commercial aviation, but Canada's defense minister noted that it was "potentially similar" to the first balloon downed off the U.S. coast.)

Beijing, according to Center for a New American Security's CEO, Richard Fontaine, has been ever more assertive in testing North American skies with these balloons. Although the Chinese so far are in high dudgeon over these accusations, officials have admitted that another object spotted over Latin America belonged to the People's Republic; they claimed that it was a meteorological balloon blown off course, and later reportedly apologized to Costa Rica for entering that country's airspace. But the strongest evidence that the Chinese have been surging balloon flights over North America—where they could linger over targets as mobile observation posts—is that Beijing is now accusing the United States of doing exactly the same thing over China, an allegation the United States has denied.

In authoritarian regimes, many accusations are confessions.

Chinese mischief, however, doesn't seem to explain the things that do not seem very balloonlike, including "octagonal" or "cylindrical" objects such as the ones destroyed by NORAD over Lake Huron and the Yukon. When asked yesterday to speculate about possible extraterrestrial origins of these objects, the NORAD commander General Glen VanHerck said, "I haven't ruled out anything at this point." That's really just a military boilerplate answer when no one knows what's going on, and Kirby today dismissed theories about aliens.

But if they're not aliens, what are they? One possibility is that they're other civilian airships, or junk of some kind floating around in the atmosphere that until now fell below NORAD's definition of a threat. Remember, NORAD was created in the late 1950s to defend the U.S. and Canada against Soviet missile and bomber attacks, not to look for slow-moving balloons.

Now, as one U.S. official put it, "we basically opened the filters," meaning that North American air defenses are now intentionally looking for smaller objects. As the Atlantic contributing writer Juliette Kayyem notes, if it seems like we're now finding more of them, it's because we're actively looking for them. And as Kirby noted in today's briefing, pilots flying at hundreds of miles an hour are trying to identify essentially stationary objects, so it's too early to ask for a precise description.

Still, if both the U.S. and Canadian governments are confident enough about what they're seeing to issue orders to open fire on these objects, the public may wonder why its leaders are not saying more about the targets.

As usual with military and intelligence operations, there are several reasons to hold information close at this point. We don't want to tip off adversaries about how much we know, how much we were actually able to see in detail, and how quickly we could spot these objects. The United States has already begun to recover some of the debris, but it is never a good idea to share exactly how much of an opponent's technology is in our hands.

(By the way, the armchair generals who are eager to send up more jets to shoot down yet more things should step back for a moment. The decision to engage an unidentified object always carries the risk of a mistake or an accident—or of endangering civilians on the ground. To return to 1983 for a moment, recall that the former Soviet Union had an itchy trigger finger when it came to incursions of its airspace, which is why in September of that year, a Soviet fighter jet shot down a South Korean civilian airliner, killing all 269 people aboard.)

For now, Washington and Ottawa have determined that these objects were violating U.S. and Canadian sovereignty, that they posed a real threat to commercial aviation, and that they had no business being where they were. We are unlikely to get more than that, other than confirmation of who owned these things—which is clearly making the Chinese somewhat sweaty. As is so often the case in national-security affairs, this is a time for patience and analysis rather than intemperance and panic.


Today's News

  1. About 100,000 protesters from across Israel gathered outside Parliament in Jerusalem to oppose the sweeping judicial overhaul that Benjamin Netanyahu's government has proposed.
  2. President Joe Biden fired the architect of the Capitol after allegations that he had misused government resources.
  3. A Georgia judge ordered the partial release of a special-grand-jury report investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election.


Explore all of our newsletters here.

Evening Read

Gif of a music note with hearts
Ben Hickey

The Enduring Romance of Mixtapes

By Andee Tagle

Six years ago, when my now-husband was still just a friendly old flame from my high-school days, I sent him an Apple Music playlist of my favorite songs of the moment. This was not unusual: Song swapping, album recommendations, and musical one-upmanship had kept us in touch for nearly a decade. Instead of a coffee date, it was "Have you heard of Noname?" In lieu of a lengthy phone call, it was "Listened to the new GoldLink album yet?"

On this playlist, the final track was "Saved" by the R&B artist Khalid. "But I'll keep your number saved / 'Cause I hope one day you'll get the sense to call me," goes the swoony chorus. "I'm hoping that you'll say / You're missing me the way I'm missing you." It was an innocent offering, I swear! But for my now-husband, it was an opening. "That song told me there was a chance," he told me years later. In 2022, we added it to the must-play list at our wedding.

Read the full article.

More From The Atlantic

Culture Break

A still from The Empress

Read. These are some of the best books to read with a person you love.

Watch. The Empress, on Netflix, a German-language period drama about "a Habsburg Meghan Markle," as our writer puts it.

Play our daily crossword.


Okay, so maybe it's not Chinese balloons. Maybe the aliens are about to invade. If so, I have the perfect soundtrack for you.

Back in 1978, the British musician and producer Jeff Wayne came up with the brilliantly weird idea of turning the classic H. G. Wells book The War of the Worlds into a rock musical, and thus was born an offbeat but wonderful double-album set, released that spring. Wayne stayed true to the source material, even hiring Richard Burton to do the narration. The musicians and cast included Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, David Essex, and Julie Covington. Despite mixing orchestral music with rock and disco, the whole thing works, and Hayward even scored a hit in America that fall with the haunting "Forever Autumn," a song that's been one of my personal favorites for more than 45 years. The album has remained a popular seller, and in 2011, it was rerecorded with a new cast, with Liam Neeson sitting in for the long-deceased Burton. (I am, however, not a fan of the remake.) It has also been performed live in various venues.

To this day, whenever I hear someone talk about aliens, all I can hear is Hayward singing, "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said." (This is after Burton talks to the astronomer, Ogilvy, who pishposhes away concerns about the green flashes on the Martian surface that turn out to be the invading rockets.) And I still get chills hearing the electronic "ULLA!" that in the book was the Martian death rattle, but that Wayne reimagined as their battle cry. It's one of the strangest albums in rock history but well worth an extended listen, if only to hear Burton's whiskey-and-velvet voice one more time.

— Tom

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.

This article has been updated to clarify that the jets dispatched over the Yukon belonged to NORAD.

Confusion Spirals in Crypto as the US Cracks Down
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched enforcement actions against some of the industry's major players, raising questions over crypto's future.
Study reveals biodiversity engine for fishes: Shifting water depth
Fish, the most biodiverse vertebrates in the animal kingdom, present evolutionary biologists a conundrum: The greatest species richness is found in the world's tropical waters, yet the fish groups that generate new species most rapidly inhabit colder climates at higher latitudes.
Another Russian Spacecraft Docked to the ISS Just Sprang a Leak
A second Russian spacecraft docked to the International Space Station has sprung a leak in one of its coolant lines in just a matter of months.

Leaks on Leaks

A second Russian spacecraft docked to the International Space Station has sprung a leak in one of its coolant lines, in just a matter of months — the latest episode of chaos, in other words, in Russia's increasingly battered space program.

The latest leak occurred over the weekend, causing a "depressurization" in a cargo spacecraft dubbed Progress MS-21, according to a [let's always put articles like a/an/the/etc outside links — just look better] statement by the Russian space agency Rosocosmos.

Crew on board the ISS weren't in any danger, according to NASA. The agency also noted that "the hatches between the Progress 82 and the station are open, and temperatures and pressures aboard the station are all normal," despite the coolant system leak

Keeping Coolant

That it's the second leak of its kind in a matter of months, on a separate spacecraft, seems on its face to be an extraordinary coincidence.

The leak comes just under two months after a different Russian spacecraft docked to the station, the Soyuz MS-22, started spraying coolant into space in a strikingly similar incident.

Both Russian and NASA officials have said the December leak was likely the result of a micrometeorite impact, but the cause of the second remains unclear.

More Questions

That's all to say that we have more questions than answers. Roscosmos has remained extremely vague and hasn't elaborated on a possible cause.

The cargo spacecraft was scheduled to undock from the station on Friday to eventually burn up in the atmosphere, along with a bunch of trash stored inside it — which means engineers likely won't have the chance to examine the craft more closely after the fact, as points out.

For now, we'll have to wait and see if Rosocosmos and NASA decide to postpone MS-21's departure.

READ MORE: Progress cargo spacecraft at ISS suffers coolant leak [SpaceNews]

More on leaks: Russian Spacecraft Docked to ISS Sprays Fluid Into Space

The post Another Russian Spacecraft Docked to the ISS Just Sprang a Leak appeared first on Futurism.



A magnificent new species of stream frog from the Andes of Ecuador was named after J. R. R. Tolkien, creator of Middle-earth and author of famous fantasy works "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." It lives in the pristine streams of the Río Negro-Sopladora National Park, a recently declared protected area that preserves thousands of hectares of almost primary forests in southeastern Ecuador.
New frog species named after fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien
A magnificent new species of stream frog from the Andes of Ecuador was named after J. R. R. Tolkien, creator of Middle-earth and author of famous fantasy works "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." It lives in the pristine streams of the Río Negro-Sopladora National Park, a recently declared protected area that preserves thousands of hectares of almost primary forests in southeastern Ecuador.
Why so many people think AI will actually be intelligent?

AI to me is just good marketing for "automation". And automation has existed since agriculture and earlier. Rather than having to find and identify plants, you simply have them all in the same area, uniformly distanced apart for harvest.

If AI was truly intelligent, it would have to have a mind of its own. But the problem with having a mind of its own, is that there are an infinite number of things that it can do. Within those infinite things there's a subset that is also infinite of unuseful things to do. Keep in mind that there's also an infinite subset of useful things to do. But the unuseful subset is uncountably larger than the useful subset.

I'm saying this because if we If you don't tell AI what to do, it won't kill people. That's too specific. Instead it might decide to rotate for 2.3 million years, then go straight for 1 second, and then pick up a stick, and then count the carbon molecules in the stick, and then rotate for 2521 seconds.

My point is that AI is not intelligent, it doesn't decide what to do. We tell it what to do; it's automation.

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Research in fundamental science has revealed the existence of quark-gluon plasma (QGP)—a newly identified state of matter—as the constituent of the early universe. Known to have existed a microsecond after the Big Bang, the QGP, essentially a soup of quarks and gluons, cooled down with time to form hadrons like protons and neutrons—the building blocks of all matter.
Is this article about Animals?
Cultures from across the globe have used plant and animal extracts as food and traditional medicine. For instance, Asians, especially in Korea, China, and Japan, have used sea cucumber extracts to treat arthritis, frequent urination, impotence, and even cancer. While it is easy to be dismissive of these traditional medicines, sea cucumbers and, in fact, several other marine invertebrates may hold the key to new medicine.
Social mobility refers to the movement of individuals from one socio-economic strata to another, followed by a change in their social status. In today's world, social mobility is largely driven by personal motivation, education, skills and migration. But an analysis of historical data tells us that social mobility is primarily caused by changes in political rule. Political upheavals that caused the downfall of established regimes were followed by massive changes in the composition of elite mobility.
Is this article about Construction?
A recent study found that young firms should disperse marketing responsibility between different personnel groups in the early stages of their operations. These groups often have the ability to produce in-depth market information to support marketing in the early stages of operations. Further, young firms should avoid building too rigid structures in terms of nominating a marketing director or specifying a detailed job description, because this may hinder the flow of information. As operations become established, the importance of a structured and specialized marketing organization in companies will increase.
New spacecraft can see into the permanently shadowed craters on the moon
Shackleton Crater at the lunar south pole is one of the locations on NASA's shortlist for human exploration with the future Artemis missions. But because craters at the lunar poles—like Shackleton—at have areas that are perpetually in shadow, known as permanently shadowed regions (PSRs), we don't know for sure what lies inside the interior. However, a new spacecraft with a specialized instrument is about to change all that.
Is this article about Animals?
Cultures from across the globe have used plant and animal extracts as food and traditional medicine. For instance, Asians, especially in Korea, China, and Japan, have used sea cucumber extracts to treat arthritis, frequent urination, impotence, and even cancer. While it is easy to be dismissive of these traditional medicines, sea cucumbers and, in fact, several other marine invertebrates may hold the key to new medicine.
Dr. Gladys West: Navigating Her Way to the Invention of GPS
While taking a road trip, looking for that hot new restaurant or looking for your new office building, what tool has come in handy more than a Global Positioning System (GPS)? Maybe a car, but that's beside the point. Having a GPS on our phones makes getting around more efficient. And while we may not give our GPS a second thought once we've reached our destination, there is a fascinating story behind it. The prominent hidden figure, Dr. Gladys West, was a true pioneer who pushed past racial barriers and contributed to the invention of the GPS. Without her curious spirit and quest for knowledge, she may never have ended up where she needed to be.  It All Began With a Dream  Born in 1930 in Sutherland, Virginia, West spent much of her childhood — when not in school — harvesting crops on her family farm. In her memoir, It Began With A Dream, she recalls walking the three miles to the segregated, one-room schoolhouse "with rusty, decrepit furniture, sometimes leaky ceilings and always hand-me-down books."  Challenging Racial Barriers There weren't many opportunities for young Black women in her community that didn't involve farming or working at a tobacco plant. But West wanted and knew she was destined for more. She overcame racial barriers in science and math. "Every day, I wished and dreamed of having more — more books, more classrooms, more teachers and more time to dream and imagine what life would be like if only I could fly away from the strenuous and seemingly never-ending work on our family farm," she said in her memoir.  It wouldn't be long before that dream came true.  Read More: Who Was Bessie Coleman and What Was She Known For? Dr. Gladys West Early Life West worked and studied hard, graduating as valedictorian from her high school. Her high academic performance earned her a scholarship to the HBCU Virginia State College — which is now Virginia State University. It was there that West earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics, finishing up in 1955.  Finding Opportunity in the Navy Before returning for her master's, West worked as a math teacher. In between earning her degrees, she tried finding a job with the government; however, she was unsuccessful due to racial segregation and sexism. In 1956, West was finally offered a job with the U.S. Navy. During her long and successful career, West returned to school and earned a second master's degree in public administration from The University of Oklahoma in 1973. After retiring in 1998 from her job with the U.S. Navy at the age of 68, West attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) and earned a Ph.D. in public administration and policy affairs at 70 years old.  Excelling Above the Rest In her memoir, West recounts how while earning her Ph.D. at VPI, she assumed her fellow counterparts — many of them highly-educated white men — would be smarter than her. They had gone to better schools and were afforded better opportunities. However, she found she could hold her own and often performed better than her peers.  "I found out I was pretty smart, especially compared to some of my classmates who didn't know as much as I did. Some of them failed tests and were given the exams over so they could stay in the Ph.D. program," she said in her memoir. A Brilliant Student West also explained how studying at an HBCU taught her more than the subject knowledge. "Those who did not get their work done because of a lack of effort were sent home. No makeup tests, no breaks, no ifs, ands or buts because they were preparing us for the harsh world of discrimination and prejudice that lie ahead of us," said West in her memoir.  Read More: 8 Amazing Black Scientists and How They Changed History Breaking Female Barriers When West joined the U.S. Navy in 1956 as a mathematician for the U.S. Naval Proving Ground — a weapons lab in Virginia. She was one of four Black employees, including Ira V. West, a fellow mathematician, and future husband. Together, she and Ira eventually had three children. Noteworthy Female Mathematician While working for the U.S. Naval Proving Ground, West solved complex math equations by hand, though she eventually programmed computers to calculate equations for her. One of her first major projects included the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator (NORC) — a program that helped track the movements of Pluto in relation to Neptune. After 100 hours of computer programming and five billion calculations, the project received a merit award.  Read More: Meet 10 Women in Science Who Changed the World Inventing the GPS From there, she became the project manager for SEASAT, an experimental surveillance satellite that operated for 99 days, orbiting Earth. It was designed to collect data on elements of the ocean, including wave heights, icebergs and temperatures. It was the first program to prove satellites could collect useful ocean data.  Geosat West and her colleagues could then form GEOSAT — a satellite program that created computer models of the planet's surface. Through this, satellite movements could be accurately calculated, and a model of Earth formed — also known as a geoid. These models are what helped make the GPS an accurate tool.  In December 2018, Dr. Gladys West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame, proving her remarkable impact on science and the Air Force space program.
Five years on, convicted transplant surgeon earns expressions of concern from Lancet
Paolo Macchiarini

In 2018, when The Lancet pulled two studies by once-celebrated transplant surgeon Paolo Macchiarini after he was found guilty of misconduct, we suggested in a post that the journal's chapter of the long-running Macchiarini saga was finally over. 

We were wrong.

Last week, the journal issued expressions of concern about a pair of papers by the Italian doctor, who is currently on probation after a court in Sweden  convicted him of causing bodily harm to a patient.

In the first paper, published in 2008, Macchiarini and his colleagues reported how they implanted a cadaveric windpipe seeded with stem cells into a 30-year-old woman; in the second, from 2013, they described how the patient fared over the next five years. Despite needing repeated bronchoscopic interventions, the authors wrote, she "had a normal social and working life."

The research made headlines across the globe. But it did not live up to its promise: Of eight patients who had an artificial windpipe implanted by Macchiarini between 2011 and 2014, seven died following complications from the procedure. 

Likewise, the woman described in the 2008 report suffered multiple complications, including respiratory failure, and had to have surgery to remove her left lung, according to a 2019 Lancet report

Macchiarini – who has had eight papers retracted – first came to our attention more than a decade ago, when he had a paper retracted in November 2012 "for scientific misconduct for reproducing a table but failing to acknowledge and cite the previous, original work from which it was taken." At the time, he was reportedly under house arrest for fraud and attempted extortion charges. 

Two years later, The New York Times revealed that Macchiarini, then at the Karolinska Institutet, was facing misconduct allegations. The story took numerous twists and turns, particularly in 2016, when filmmakers released a documentary about the allegations and Vanity Fair published a piece on how the surgeon scammed – in the romantic way – an NBC News producer.

For years, critics continued to press for investigations, sanctions, and retractions. Last year, a letter to the editor in The BMJ called for the retraction of the case report in The Lancet, noting the journal:

was informed in May 2018 that the key findings of the article were false. Despite this, and subsequent demands for retraction of the paper by us and others, the Lancet has refused to retract, without providing any explanation.

The case report has been cited more than 1,000 times, according to Clarivate's Web of Science, and the follow-up has garnered 196 citations. 

In its expression of concern from February 8, the journal noted: 

The Lancet has received continuing questions over the reliability of the findings and conduct of this reported case, since Paolo Macchiarini was found guilty of scientific misconduct in 2018.

It added:

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has discussed these concerns at length again and their view, as an expert body in publication ethics, is that these two unretracted articles should, at a minimum, have received an Expression of Concern given the severity of the concerns raised and the length of time during which the concerns have persisted. As members of COPE, we are now following this advice and are issuing an Expression of Concern for these two Articles.

Reached for comment in Spain, Macchiarini said he was not aware of the new expressions of concern and did not have time to look at them. "I'm doing surgery, so… busy," he told Retraction Watch, adding "I don't give interviews."

Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or — and this is the option we strongly suggest – 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


There's a Super Bizarre Coincidence Surrounding the Ohio Train Disaster
A bizarre coincidence in the Ohio town where the Norfolk Southern train derailment happened makes this story seem almost stranger than fiction.

The Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio and its horrifying aftermath are already grim enough — but a bizarre coincidence in the town where it happened makes the tragic saga seem almost stranger than fiction.

As CNN reports, the meta twist is that one of the families affected by the derailed train that contained loads of hazardous, flammable chemicals acted as extras in Netflix's 2022 movie "White Noise," which follows a family as it copes with the aftermath of an eerily similar noxious disaster.

Based on a 1985 novel by Pulitzer finalist Don DeLillo, the black comedy stars Adam Driver as the patriarch of a family as they deal with the fallout from an "airborne toxic event" spurred on by a train crash carrying —  you guessed it — a bunch of dangerous chemicals. East Palestine, Ohio resident and "White Noise" extra Ben Ratner says that the film, in which he and his own family played bit roles, now hits "too close to home."

While the similarities end at the premise — Driver's "White Noise" character, for instance, is forced to quarantine after being exposed to the chemical cloud from that story's derailment, while in real life officials have declared that the controlled burn of vinyl chloride from the train could have been much more dangerous than it turned out to be — they're nevertheless analogous enough to cause discomfort.

"The first half of the movie is all almost exactly what's going on here," Ratner, who was in a climactic traffic jam scene in the film, told CNN after his family, which includes his wife and four children — the same number of family members as "White Noise" — were forced to flee their home near the crash site.

The Ohioan café owner told CNN that he'd been at his daughter's basketball game during the derailment, stepping outside the school's gymnasium to towering flames at the crash site less than a mile from his own house. That night, while his wife and kids slept, he anxiously stayed awake to see what would happen next.

It wasn't until the next day that official evacuation orders came down for those within a roughly one-by-two-mile area of the region that sits on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania — and even though most of the Ratners had gone to stay with nearby family, they had to evacuate even farther because they were still within that zone.

Ratner told the local broadcaster WKBN that he waited a few days after the evacuation order was lifted to take his family back to their house. Now, concerns about long-term dangers have led the family to consider leaving the area for good.

"That's where we've been raising our kids, finishing college, buying a business, and that's been our place," he told CNN. "In the future, are we going to have to sell the house? Is it worth any money at this point?"

It's too soon to say what will happen in the "White Noise"-esque situation in East Palestine — but it's clear that some of the affected families won't wait around to find out.

More on toxic accidents: Miners Say "Sorry" for Losing Highly Radioactive Object Along Highway

The post There's a Super Bizarre Coincidence Surrounding the Ohio Train Disaster appeared first on Futurism.

Scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science found that some reefs in the tropical Pacific Ocean could maintain high coral cover into the second half of this century by shuffling the symbiotic algae they host. The findings offer a ray of hope in an often-dire picture of the future of coral reefs worldwide.
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
University of Chicago scientists have discovered a new wrinkle in our understanding of how our genes work. The team, led by Chuan He, the UChicago John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, shed light on a longstanding puzzle involved in a common way our genes are modified that is known as RNA methylation.
Nightly sleep is key to student success, shows study
College is a time of transition for young adults. It may be the first time students have the freedom to determine how to spend their time, but this freedom comes with competing interests from academics, social events and even sleep.
Coral reefs in the Eastern Pacific could survive into the 2060s, new study finds
Is this article about Climate?
Scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science found that some reefs in the tropical Pacific Ocean could maintain high coral cover into the second half of this century by shuffling the symbiotic algae they host. The findings offer a ray of hope in an often-dire picture of the future of coral reefs worldwide.
Looking for a match made in heaven? Science says keep your feet on the ground
Psychologist Harry Reis knows a thing or two about romance. For nearly five decades, the Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester in upstate New York has been studying close relationships, theories of intimacy, and personal attachment styles. A leading social psychologist, he was instrumental in launching the field of relationship science.
How 12 Readers Prepare for Natural Disasters

This is an edition of Up for Debate, a newsletter by Conor Friedersdorf. On Wednesdays, he rounds up timely conversations and solicits reader responses to one thought-provoking question. Later, he publishes some thoughtful replies. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Last week, I asked for your thoughts on preparing for natural disasters.

Ed takes stock of his setup:

I live in the country, so I am in a better position than many others. My water comes from a naturally flowing spring, so I have unlimited water. I have a gasoline-powered generator; electricity would be available until my gas runs out (I generally keep five gallons on hand). I have three fireplaces to provide some heat and plenty of cut wood to fuel them. I believe I have enough canned goods on hand for two, maybe even three weeks.

Kacey writes from a place where four tectonic plates meet:

I am no stranger to earthquakes. They have become a relatively common occurrence in my life since moving to Japan in 2015. Fortunately, none of the quakes I've experienced caused serious damage or loss of life to my immediate surroundings. Unfortunately, I've done little more than the bare minimum to prepare for a natural disaster.

I have studied my local hazard map—I know the location of my nearest evacuation shelter; I know where the river is most likely to overrun its banks; I know which areas are ripe for soil liquefaction or where a landslide is most likely to occur. My apartment is safe from such threats. Otherwise, the only prep I've undertaken involved the purchase of 24 one-liter water bottles in 2020. I hear them slosh around in my trunk when I take sharp turns.

Any time an earthquake of any magnitude happens in Japan, I always tell myself, "I should be more prepared." Yet I never do more. Nearly half of the population is similarly unprepared [according to a 2021 survey]. This lack of preparation may stem from an overconfidence in Japan's disaster-response capability. Some may have a tough time justifying the financial cost of something they may never use; others may view disasters as a natural force about which they can do nothing.

Simply writing this response has once again stirred my motivation to go and get more prepared. Whether I actually do anything remains to be seen.

Alison recounts "the October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake—what my friends and I called the 'Big-Enough One'":

I was in San Francisco and was able to walk the four or five blocks to my brother and sis-in-law's home, where they had power because their landlord had a generator. I stayed there for several days with my cats, their cats, foster cats, and younger brother. Unfortunately I can relate to the current conditions in Syria and Turkey with respect to rescue efforts and the sense of achieving a miracle when someone is recovered alive after a few days, the likelihood of which sadly eventually fades as survivability recedes.  

The Big-Enough One occurred during Game 3 of that year's World Series, unusually between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's; otherwise the death toll would have been much higher when part of the Bay Bridge collapsed. I subsequently moved to Montreal, in time to experience the ice storm in January of 1998; here, the problem was that many power lines were downed by heavy ice, to the point that there was literally only one power line carrying electricity into all of Montreal for several days (for the geographically challenged, Montreal is on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River).  

Had that one last power line failed, the authorities would have been facing the task of evacuating some 3 million people from the island, through several tunnels (yes, there are bridges, but they were also completely coated in ice and not navigable). In this case, my in-laws had power (because they lived next to a major hospital and were on its power grid), so we could at least get a warm shower, and our building's owner had a generator that he alternated using in our building and another one that he owned so we could warm up at home for a few hours at a time.

Neither the 1989 quake nor the ice storm affected me deeply, except in a psychological sense. I still remember the sense of wonder that I experienced after the Big-Enough One when I realized that I was no longer worried that the ground would fall out from under me when I walked outside!

Robert describes another historic earthquake:

I was living in Kathmandu, Nepal, in August of 1988 when a 6.9 earthquake hit the city. Born and raised in San Francisco, I was no stranger to seismic disturbance. But this was different; the shaking and convulsing of everything around me was terribly frightening, but it was nothing compared to the screams of the people as I heard buildings collapsing around me. Houses shaking to pieces and the cries of children in fear and pain were terrifying; I have never forgotten what this sounded like. Almost immediately, everyone who could began helping the injured, clearing away rubble, and donating to the general relief effort.

Now, fast-forward to COVID. My wife and I were living near Palm Desert in Southern California at the start of the pandemic, when suddenly people were sweeping everything off the supermarket shelves: food, toilet paper, bottled water, and every disinfectant they could get their hands on. But what scared me most was the frenzied buying of guns and ammunition. We are no strangers to gun violence, and this experience had much to do with our decision to return to Northern California.

You ask for our thoughts on how to prepare for a natural disaster and what we may have neglected. Our current level of preparation is modest: important documents, credit cards, and a small amount of cash are ready to go at a moment's notice; we have a small stove with plenty of fuel, and food for a few days. I suppose we could store a bit more food and water, but I'm not so sure that one can be adequately prepared for every eventuality.

In a pinch, we would share what we have, and would never dream of taking someone else's provisions. We'll do the best we can, but one thing I know we are not prepared for is violence.

Julianne is waiting for the Big One in the Pacific Northwest:

I live in Port Angeles, Washington, which is on the top of the Olympic Peninsula. Known locally as "upper left," the peninsula is the farthest northwest span of the lower 48 states. It's a spectacularly beautiful landscape: snowy mountain peaks; misty, temperate rainforests; crystal-clear glacial lakes; and a teeming ocean, all anchored by the Olympic National Park. The motto of Port Angeles is appropriately "Where the mountains meet the sea." The residents of my area are hardworking, kind, and practical people.

What's the catch? Well, a little thing called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The CSZ is a convergent tectonic-plate boundary stretching from northern Vancouver Island to Northern California, with coastal Washington square in the middle of it. The last time the locked plates released was in 1700, long before the area was settled by white people. Evidence for the 1700 quake was preserved in Native oral histories. Geological evidence was unearthed much more recently, in the mid-1980s.

When the plates eventually slip, it's estimated the earth will shake for five solid minutes at 9.5-plus magnitude. For comparison, the horrific recent quake in Turkey and Syria measured a 7.8 magnitude, making the one we're expecting about 350 times stronger. When is the CSZ likely to cause another massive quake? Estimates place the risk at 37 percent in the next 50 years.

You may think that, given the recent growth in the Seattle area, local infrastructure would be designed to handle this obvious threat. However, the threat has only been recognized for a little over 30 years. There's a lot of existing, inadequate building stock that will be replaced very slowly, if at all—especially in my community, which is not a wealthy area.  

When we were deciding where in Washington to live, I was able to do lots of research via government websites on factors like tsunami risk and soil liquefaction for given areas. It's good that the info exists, but I know most local people really don't want to know about their risk. Other preparations I've made include keeping survival supplies stashed in my car (in case I'm not home when the quake happens), as well as a month's worth of food, water filters, and shelter supplies at my house. I hope it's enough to help us survive an event that is likely to completely cut off our community from help for months, if not a year or more. Clearly, the priority for rescue efforts will be the very large population of Seattle (rightly), not our sleepy, isolated towns up on the edge of the country.   

I recently took a community-ed class on the CSZ at our great little community college, which made me feel justified in all my preparations. Paradoxically, the class helped me let go of a constant hum of low-level worry, and instead I've been able to move to a more fatalistic outlook. It's coming; I'm fairly well prepared; not much else I can do, so why worry?

Alice lives in the Pacific Northwest, too, and wishes the government would do more to prepare for the coming earthquake:

When I retired a year or so ago, I immediately started preparing above and beyond the recommended "2 Weeks Ready" that is promoted by the state of Oregon. Overall, the preparation process has been expensive, stressful, time-consuming, and frankly a bit depressing. I am left feeling that the bulk of preparation, survival, and recovery is up to the individual. I am not in any way arguing that the "government" should step in and "rescue" citizens, and I wholeheartedly feel I need to do my part by being prepared. However, I feel that over the 40-odd years since Ronald Reagan was president, we have impaired the ability of government, both federal and state, to respond to disasters AND prevent them in the first place. In our quest to reduce the size and cost of government, we have lost sight of the need for a highly organized collective (i.e., "government") that can respond when multistate disasters happen, as will be the case in a Cascadia event.  

I know from my own experience that preparation is time- and money-consuming. Not everyone has the ability or resources to do the necessary work to get ready. I think somewhere along the way, we the people lost sight of the idea that "we the people" are in fact "the government," and that there is much good that we can do together. I would argue that this is the purpose of a government by and for the people: to set the conditions such that everyone has the opportunity to survive and thrive. Disaster preparedness is one area in which rugged individualism helps but will not get us individually or collectively where we need to be to survive and eventually thrive after a big event.

Doug lives on the central Oregon coast:

I have ensured my home is tied to its foundation. I have installed 800 watts of solar panels on my garage roof and as much in panels stored as replacement/auxiliary use. I have a growing number of modern lithium-ion batteries I can charge from the solar panels. I can't run my house off this system, but I don't need to. I need light and power for truly essential things. I have a considerable amount of camping gear (and experience) including multi-fuel stove options and a decent amount of fuel stored. I have advanced first-aid training and stored gear, and emergency food and water. I have an emergency pack for the first 72 hours of survival in my car. I am also active in the local volunteer amateur-radio group of Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), training and standing by to aid local government(s) communicate for resources and relay information to the state government. There is no place on earth that is truly safe, and that is never more the case with the ravages of climate change. I want to be here to help my neighbors and community, thus it is incumbent upon me to be prepared myself.

Jen no longer worries about that Big One––she moved away and feels happy that she did:

We lived in the Cascadia subduction zone for 30 years, and we always had to have an earthquake plan. We never had earthquake insurance, and our joke was that if there was a big earthquake, we'd just leave the gas turned on and a candle burning and run like hell. Eventually we set up a disaster-recovery kit that would allow us to live outside for a few weeks. We built a backyard shed and stored all of our camping gear, several tote boxes of food, and about 100 gallons of drinking water. The whole thing had to be broken down and replaced regularly—the water each year, and the food every three years or so. We also had pry bars, axes, and other hand tools stored where we could get them in the event the house collapsed. It was a headache and an expense, and while the risk of a major subduction-zone quake was not the only reason we decided to leave the area, it did factor into our decision.

We now live on the other side of the state in a rural area that is not wooded, so there is little wildfire danger. The climate change risk is low too—no risk of being underwater here, and our water sources aren't dependent on rainfall. Not everybody has the flexibility to just up and move out of danger zones, but if you are thinking of moving for retirement or other reasons that aren't job- or family-dependent, I highly recommend factoring in climate-change risk and disaster risk when you make up your wish list of places you want to explore. I didn't realize what a chronic low-level worry it was until it wasn't lurking there all the time.

EH muses on denial:

I have lived in California for all of my 77 years and I know what having the earth move under your feet feels like. The ground becomes like water and the shockwaves can make one feel seasick, as if standing in a dinghy that has been swamped by a passing speed boat. If you are up in a tall building, the steel and concrete actually sways, jumps, and cracks as you hold your breath waiting for it all to tumble down. Fortunately, I have not actually personally experienced real damage or injuries from any earthquake I have felt.

Yet, despite knowing the destructive power and killing potential of a large quake, I take only minimal precautions: strapping my water heater to the wall, having extra flashlights and some water reserves. I hope help will come from the rest of you if we suffer the Big One.

I sometimes say to myself what fools others are to live in flood zones or coastal areas that get hurricanes, or in the infamous tornado alley, not to mention the fire-prone and drought-plagued West; oh yeah, I live in San Diego, but it won't happen to my neighborhood.

It is called denialism, and we all suffer from it in some form.

The biggest manifestation of denialism in the history of the Earth is our collective denial of global warming. This is a slow-moving natural disaster that could end human life.

Earl lives in the path of the occasional hurricane:

Here on the Gulf Coast, they're inevitable, like blizzards in Buffalo and earthquakes in California. We prepare for the next storm with a new roof, knowing that even if it withstands winds, insurance rates will eventually go through it as repeat storms get more frequent due to climate change. Nevertheless, we stay.

We stay because of historical, social, psychological, financial, and familial inertia; it's home; it's where the heart and the family are. We trust the engineers and builders who construct bigger and better storm barriers and drainage systems. There is less trust in the power grid; more and more homes get whole-house generators, expensive but reassuring that the nightmare of evacuation and return won't be necessary. We will ride out the storm with full power. At least we hope so.

Anna hunkers down in stormy weather:

Hurricanes may be the least-worst natural disaster because you can prepare, and you generally have decent advanced warning to make those preparations or decide to evacuate. I live on the Gulf Coast in Florida, so hurricane prep is an annual tradition. The major guiding principle: You can hide from the wind but you have to run from the water.

I don't live in a flood zone, and I live in a house built to modern codes. I've had the big trees removed that could fall on the house. I don't have any special needs that require uninterrupted electric service. So I have the luxury of hunkering down and riding out a hurricane.

Every year when the season cranks up, I make sure I have plenty of nonperishable food and basic supplies on hand, and I don't stock up too heavily on perishables. I keep fillable water bottles on hand just in case, but historically, my municipal water and sewer services operate fine during and after storms. The most important prep for me is to reach out to my neighbors and make sure they are prepared, that we all know where everyone will be, and we are ready to help each other in the aftermath of cleanup and outages.

With all that in place, my experience with hurricanes is that there is a big damn mess to clean up outside, but otherwise it's like camping out in my house. Newbies often don't know what to expect and succumb to the hype. Panicky behavior makes it harder to prepare and to get through it and to recover afterward. Lots of people don't have the resources to adequately prepare or to evacuate for a hurricane, and that's a serious problem, but my city/county/state does a lot of outreach and assistance for those folks. Preparation, experience, and (most importantly) community is what gets you through it.

Bob was a Los Angeles Times staff photographer and has seen it all:

I've covered so many disasters I don't know where to start. I've also suffered from PTSD, having spent too much time around people who have lost everything. I covered the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes, the Painted Cave Fire in Santa Barbara, and another conflagration that burned homes in Malibu. I covered the Great Midwestern Flood in 1993, the Los Angeles Riots in 1992, and the Marines' invasion of Somalia.

And after I retired, I volunteered for the Red Cross, where the most knowledgeable staffers at the Los Angeles regional headquarters quietly predicted in 2014 that there would be food riots in Los Angeles starting three days after the Big One. I quit the Red Cross after taking photos and video of an EF-5 tornado in Smithville, Mississippi, covered the flood on the Mississippi right after that, then went to the EF-5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and then Hurricane Irene.

After that, I needed two stents.

I'm 76 now and enjoying life, although I'm getting a hip transplant in two weeks. I live on a hill in Thousand Oaks, California. A few years ago we had a mass shooting at an upscale country-and-western bar featuring line dancing. A few days later, we had a brush fire that burned around the edges of the housing tracts and then headed into more rarified real estate in Malibu. My wife and I ended up sleeping in cars parked in a mall parking lot.

Our house made it through, so we were lucky.

I don't have many brilliant observations. The problem with disasters is the one thing they are good at is ruining people's lives. People usually don't recover from disasters. If they're lucky, they survive them.

I photographed a guy in Smithville who was walking around what was left of his house as he talked to his wife. He kept telling her it was all gone. Gone it was, with a half a bedroom left. So was his boat. In the Loma Prieta earthquake, I photographed a woman who was dazed, standing in front of her house. It was a beautiful old wooden mansion, but it was askew. She told me that that Sunday, she'd had a $400,000 mortgage on a $600,000 home. After the quake, she had a $400,000 mortgage.

In Malibu, in the middle of what was some of the most expensive real estate in the country, I saw a woman going through the wreckage of her home on a hillside overlooking the ocean. I asked if I could take her picture and she said yes. Fifteen minutes later, I thanked her. "Oh, no," she said, "you can't leave me." So I stood there while she cried and she talked and she cried and she talked. "Okay," she said after a while. "You can go now." She probably rebuilt her home and came as close as you can to recovering. The one percent recover from disasters. Most disaster survivors simply don't.

Ken knows what song he'll be singing when the end is nigh:

My notion of "Disaster Planning" derives from my experience of the Cold War while living in the Northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C., within a triangle defined by the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Instantaneous nuclear annihilation was akin to auto exhaust: in the air, invisible, all the time— an accepted condition of life. While some wackos prepared to survive in well-stocked bunkers, while the Federal Government fantasized about survival in a string of underground facilities in a line running south from the city, I lived with the acceptance and understanding that at any moment I could be flashed from life to ash.

For a while I taught risk-management methodologies for federal contractors executing IT systems and software contracts. Therefore, I have the tools and techniques to identify, categorize, evaluate, and plan to mitigate knowable risks such as those that might befall me and my household: extended utility outages, wider physical destruction from severe weather, sea-level rise, economic collapse, civil war, etc. But I don't bother with a personal-risk-management process.

One can always place blame on their parents. From a very early age, my mother (a closet existentialist) serenaded me with the chorus of a once popular song: "Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see. Que sera, sera."

Urban birds prefer native trees, shows long-term study
Small passerine birds, such as blue and great tits, avoid breeding in urban areas where there are many non-native trees. Chicks also weigh less the more non-native trees there are in the vicinity of the nest. This is shown in a long-term study from Lund University in Sweden.
For leaders, playing favorites can be a smart strategy
Is this article about Leadership?
As anyone who's worked in an office, a factory, or any other workplace can attest, sometimes bosses play favorites. Whether it's assigning the most comfortable cubicles or the best parking spots, or deciding whose opinions take precedence during planning sessions, leaders inevitably wind up treating some employees better than others.
RNA's 'joints' play key role in our gene expression, scientists find
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
University of Chicago scientists have discovered a new wrinkle in our understanding of how our genes work. The team, led by Chuan He, the UChicago John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, shed light on a longstanding puzzle involved in a common way our genes are modified that is known as RNA methylation.
A method for analyzing tiny, complex crystals
The atomic structure of solid substances can often be analyzed quickly, easily and very precisely using X-rays. However, this requires that crystals of the corresponding substances exist. Chemist Professor Oliver Oeckler from Leipzig University and his team are developing methods to make this possible even for very small crystals that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The official body charged with virus classification has released four new principles that bring order to the viral world. This provides a unified framework that will enable all viruses to be classified, something vitally needed as genome technologies continue to discover millions of new virus species.

Scientific Reports, Published online: 13 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-28917-1

Structure–function assessment in 
 based on perimetric sensitivity and en face optical coherence tomography images of retinal nerve fiber bundles
Asphalt volcano communities
Santa Barbara Channel's natural oil seeps are a beach-goer's bane, flecking the shores with blobs of tar. But the leaking petroleum also creates fascinating geologic and biologic features. About 10 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, several jet-black mounds interrupt the featureless sea floor. These asphalt volcanoes, virtually unique in the world, provide a rare habitat in a region known for its underwater biodiversity.
Scientific AI's 'black box' is no match for 200-year-old method
A new study finds that a 200-year-old technique called Fourier analysis can reveal crucial information about how the form of artificial intelligence called deep neural networks (DNN) learn to perform tasks involving complex physics. Researchers discovered the technique can directly connect what a DNN has learned to the physics of the complex system the DNN is modeling.

Nature Communications, Published online: 13 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36468-2

Proinflammatory macrophages are involved in 
rheumatoid arthritis
 (RA). Here the authors use an efferocytosis-mimetic self-deliverable nanoimitator to mitigate RA by targeted reprogramming of synovial inflammatory macrophages, reducing proinflammatory cytokines and reinstating articular immune homeostasis.
Engineering nanoscale H supply chain to accelerate methanol synthesis on ZnZrOx

Nature Communications, Published online: 13 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36407-1

Boosting activity of oxide catalysts is a long-lasting challenge to developing efficient catalysts for industrially important reactions such as CO2-to-methanol. Here, the authors report a strategy for enhancing the activity of a ZnZrOx methanol synthesis catalyst via engineered nanoscale H supply.
Low brain pressure could be a risk factor for developing glaucoma
Scientists provide additional evidence that intracranial pressure plays an important role in normal-tension 
, which accounts for up to 50 per cent of all glaucoma cases. A recent clinical study demonstrates that low intracranial pressure correlates with impaired patient visibility, especially in the nasal zone.
AI supports doctors' hard decisions on cardiac arrest
When patients receive care after 
cardiac arrest
, doctors can now — by entering patient data in a web-based app — find out how thousands of similar patients have fared. Researchers have developed three such systems of decision support for cardiac arrest that may, in the future, make a major difference to doctors' work.
Military Says the UFOs They Shot Down Aren't Aliens
Is this article about Military?
During a press conference today, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby reiterated that we shouldn't "worry about aliens."

Alien or Not

Four mysterious objects entered North American airspace over the last two weeks, leading to genuinely puzzling headlines. In a particularly wild escalation, their sudden appearance triggered the Pentagon to pick them out of the sky with fighter jets.

Even high-ranking Pentagon officials aren't entirely sure what to think — but they are willing to put to bed one of the biggest prevalent theories out there: that aliens are coming for a visit.

No Indication

During a press conference today, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that while "we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these most recent objects are," they are likely not extraterrestrial in nature.

"I don't think the American people need to worry about aliens," Kirby told reporters.

"There is no — again — no indication of aliens or other extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated during the briefing.

As cool as it would be if we were living the plot of "Independence Day," the officials are probably right. If an extraterrestrial civilization had the highly advanced means of traveling all the way here from light years away, after all, they'd almost certainly have the means of evading humanity's primitive fighter jets.

Uncharted Territory

Despite ruling out the possibility, officials still have no idea what they just shot out of the sky.

According to reports, we know that two "cylindrical" objects were downed near the US-Canada border last week. The third unclaimed object that was shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday appeared to be "octagonal" in shape.

"These objects were not being maneuvered," Kirby said. "They did not appear to have any self-propulsion. So the likely hypothesis is, they were being moved by the prevailing winds."

While it may be tempting to conclude that the most recent objects were Chinese spy balloons like the one that was destroyed earlier this month, no country has come forward to claim ownership yet.

When asked if that was unusual, Kirby said that he was unable to say "whether that's strange or not."

"We're sort of in uncharted territory here, no pun intended," he added.

More on UFOs: US Military Not Ruling Out That Unidentified Shot Down Objects Were Alien

The post Military Says the UFOs They Shot Down Aren't Aliens appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk Tells Ex-NASA Astronaut SpaceX Could Cause World War 3
Is this article about Foreign Policy?
Elon Musk, for some reason, told a famous ex-astronaut that SpaceX's technology could be used to "escalate" the Russian invasion into a world war.

All's Fair

SpaceX Elon Musk apparently has never learned to think before he tweets, even since buying the entirety of Twitter, as most recently evidenced by his bizarre assertion that one of his companies could potentially be responsible for a third world war.

Musk's strange comments came during a minor spat with ex-astronaut Scott Kelly. To be fair, Kelly had been beefing with the multi-hyphenate entrepreneur about his Starlink internet service in Ukraine, to which Musk curtailed the Ukrainian military's access last week.

"Ukraine desperately needs your continued support," Kelly, a staunch Ukraine advocate and regular Musk critictweeted on Saturday. "Please restore the full functionality of your Starlink satellites. Defense from a genocidal invasion is not an offensive capability. It's survival. Innocent lives will be lost. You can help."

Taking His Time

Nearly a full day after the celebrated astronaut's plea, Musk finally responded — though what he said was about as murky as if he'd just left it alone.

"You're smart enough not to swallow and other propaganda [bullshit]," the Twitter owner responded. "Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other Internet connectivity has been destroyed."

Here's where it gets weird: Musk also appeared to suggest that if Starlink continued to supply internet to Ukraine, that country's military would use it to turn the heat up on its resistance to Russia, which has led its land-grab offensive there for a year now — and could ultimately result in a world war.

"We will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3," he concluded.

Twitter Fingers

Though he did not initially tag Kelly, Musk appeared to subtweet the ex-astronaut hours before actually responding him when he tweeted that he found it "amazing" that "some of the smartest people I know actively believe the press."

This is far from the first time the South African-Canadian billionaire has expressed opinions that are strikingly convenient for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Once again, in other words, the guy whose politics often boil down to half-baked Martian utopianism peppered with stupid memes is wading into wartime geopolitics — and once again, his commentary is far from welcome.

More on the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Scientists Say We're Closer to Nuclear Armageddon Than Any Other Point in History

The post Elon Musk Tells Ex-NASA Astronaut SpaceX Could Cause 

World War 3

 appeared first on Futurism.

The official body charged with virus classification has released four new principles that bring order to the viral world. This provides a unified framework that will enable all viruses to be classified, something vitally needed as genome technologies continue to discover millions of new virus species.
Is spontaneous sex better? New research casts doubt on commonly held belief
The idea that spur-of-the-moment sex is the most passionate and satisfying is a deeply ingrained one in popular Western imagination, but new research from York University calls this into question. In their latest study, psychology researchers from the Faculty of Health found that planning ahead can be just as sexy as sex that "just happens."
Surfing the research data wave
Is this article about Machine Learning?
In catalytic sciences, as in all scientific fields, we face a rapidly increasing volume and complexity of research data, which are a challenge for analysis and reuse. A team has introduced EnzymeML as a data exchange format. EnzyemML serves as a format to comprehensively report the results of an enzymatic experiment and stores the data in a structured way and makes it traceable and reusable.
Cinema has helped 'entrench' gender inequality in AI
Study finds that just 8% of all depictions of AI professionals from a century of film are women — and half of these are shown as subordinate to men. Cinema promotes AI as the product of lone male geniuses with god complexes, say researchers. Cultural perceptions influence career choices and recruitment, they argue, with the AI industry suffering from severe gender imbalance, risking development of discriminatory technology.
Mechanical engineering meets electromagnetics to enable future technology
Reconfigurable antennas — those that can tune properties like frequency or radiation beams in real time, from afar — are integral to future communication network systems, like 6G. But many current reconfigurable antenna designs can fall short: they dysfunction in high or low temperatures, have power limitations or require regular servicing.
Discovery could lead to new fungicides to protect rice crops
A fungus that plagues rice crops worldwide gains entry to plant cells in a way that leaves it vulnerable to simple chemical blockers, a discovery that could lead to new fungicides to reduce the substantial annual losses of rice and other valuable cereals.
Global comparison shows that soil transplantation boosts nature restoration
Is this article about Agriculture?
A new study comparing 46 field experiments in 17 countries across four continents clearly spells it out: Areas in need of nature restoration benefit from soil transplantation. The global results were collected by an international research team coordinated by Jasper Wubs from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). Their findings are published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Surfing the research data wave
In catalytic sciences, as in all scientific fields, we face a rapidly increasing volume and complexity of research data, which are a challenge for analysis and reuse. A team has introduced EnzymeML as a data exchange format. EnzyemML serves as a format to comprehensively report the results of an enzymatic experiment and stores the data in a structured way and makes it traceable and reusable.
The Biology of Stress in Your Body
For most humans today, the threat of encountering a wild bear in daily life is quite slim. And yet, the likelihood of experiencing a stress response as if you are evading or defending yourself from a bear remains high. In our bodies, this stress reaction can play out the moment we're called upon at work to give a presentation, or perhaps during a nerve-racking first date: sweaty palms, bowel discomfort, the sensation of pins and needles pricking the skin. This is the reality of living as social, modern humans with biological systems that have evolved for millions of years. "The human social interaction is the most stressful thing that we do," says Cliff Summers, a behavioral neuroscientist at South Dakota University. Despite the bodily discomfort, this acute stress response often means your nervous system and brain are functioning properly, carrying out beneficial and vital tasks. Though biologists and neuroscientists are still unraveling the complex interplay of hormones, neurotransmitters and physiological effects informing our behaviors and health, resulting in stress reactions. Acute Stress Response: Stress Hormones to Stress Reactions Stress gets a bad rap as a sort of villain to the human experience. But it's often a beneficial and productive force for change and survival. For starters, one lens in the research field defines stress as "a state of homeostasis being challenged." (This idea builds on the work of Hans Selye, who became the father of stress theory in the mid 1900s.) In effect, this version of stress is an element of daily life for most living things seeking security. So, what exactly takes place in the body in the face of stress, anxiety or nervousness when it comes to acute stress response? Read More: What is Anxiety and How Can Worries Overpower Us? Stress Hormones Hormonally speaking, a stressful state — whether involving an unexpected bear, or an angry boss in your office — boosts two key chemicals in the human body: adrenaline and cortisol, according to Summers. Together, these two stress hormones (and some neurotransmitters) coordinate to optimize the flow of blood sugar to the brain, and, in turn, carry out the fight-or-flight mechanics in the physical body. Let's start with the effects of cortisol. When cortisol gets pumped into the bloodstream, the hormone blocks the uptake of sugar in most cells throughout the body. That leaves an influx of sugar in the bloodstream available for the brain to absorb, ultimately heightening cognitive function to manage a stressful encounter. While this is playing out, the stress reaction in the body also triggers the release of adrenaline (also called epinephrine) from the adrenal glands. The adrenaline hormone floods the bloodstream and is rapidly dispersed to all parts of the body, such as the eyes, heart, blood vessels and airway. The main function of epinephrine, or adrenaline, is to release and help convert reserves of sugar and nutrients stored in cells throughout the muscles and other organs. Stress Reactions The resulting boost of energy is something we can see play out in athletes, such as a runner participating in a marathon, the proverbial mother who displays a feat of strength to rescue her child or the unfortunate hiker who encountered a bear. "You actually have more energy to run away, because adrenaline and cortisol are working to release this energy into your system," Summers says. It's also this epinephrine that can prompt some of the localized reactions, such as sweaty hands or stomach pain, that many of us identify as feeling nervous or stressed. In part, this is because adrenal receptors are located in our glands and intestines. Also, when the adrenaline hormone attaches to receptors in the gut, for instance, it stops typical contractions from occurring, which causes discomfort. Read More: Can You Predict a Panic Attack? The Danger of Perpetual Stress In animals and humans alike, the frequency, severity and pace of this stress response engaging can bring about very different long-term effects on the body and mind, according to Summers' research on mice. "We [tend to] think stress is a bad thing," Summers says. "As it turns out, experiments that I have done show pretty definitively that having a strong stress response is a good thing, only if it lasts for a short time." Ideally, the stress response should turn on quickly, and turn off quickly, switching between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, respectively. If the stressed, fight-or-flight state stays engaged for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to numerous and severe health consequences. "A high level of stress will make you sick, and kill you," Summers says.  Read More: How Your Brain's "Fingerprints" Could Diagnose Disease Probing the Spectrum of Stress  One tenuous aspect of the research is that highly stressful events can inhibit cognitive function, rather than moderately stressful situations that optimize brain performance with elevated cortisol levels. These findings suggest that the balance of brain hormones and bodily response falls within a complicated spectrum that Summers and other researchers are still studying. Emerging research is also illuminating two distinct groups: stress-resilient individuals and stress-sensitive individuals. As one example, Summers says he watches this play out in his classroom during exams. While some students seem to perform better because of test-taking stress, plenty of others do worse under stressful pressure, despite whether or not they studied and learned the material. Other researchers have studied actual stress hormone levels in young medical faculty students preparing for an exam, and they measured cortisol levels up to nine times higher than during a relaxed period.  Summers says the focus of much of today's research in the field is investigating "What makes some people sensitive to stress? And what makes other people calmer?" The answers to questions pertaining to stress reaction will likely point to key anti-stress tools and practices that could boost the overall well-being of a multitude of humans and animals. Read More: In the Brain, Romantic Love is Basically an Addiction
Is this article about Agriculture?
A new study comparing 46 field experiments in 17 countries across four continents clearly spells it out: Areas in need of nature restoration benefit from soil transplantation. The global results were collected by an international research team coordinated by Jasper Wubs from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). Their findings are published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Nature Communications, Published online: 13 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36157-0

Terpene cyclases enable the synthesis of (poly)cyclic carbon frameworks via ring closure of linear polyenes. Here, the authors report in-situ formed fluorinated-alcohol-amine supramolecular clusters that mimic terpene cyclases for shape-controlled polyene cyclizations.
Man Dies After Sneaking Loaded Firearm Into MRI Room


(Image: Gobierno Abierto/Wikimedia Commons)
When medical professionals offer instruction before a procedure, they're usually doing so for a reason. That was apparently lost on Leandro Mathias de Novaes, who ignored an MRI lab's "no metal" rule and brought a loaded firearm to his mother's appointment. The firearm discharged, resulting in de Novaes' death.


On Jan. 18, 40-year-old de Novaes accompanied his mother to a São Paulo, Brazil diagnostic center, where she was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam. Staff at the diagnostic center asked de Novaes and his mother to remove any and all metal from their bodies prior to entering the room where the MRI machine was housed. de Novaes ignored this rule and entered the room with a loaded firearm concealed in his waistband.

When the MRI machine was switched on, the device's powerful magnetic field pulled the gun from his waistband, causing the gun to discharge. The bullet entered de Novaes' stomach. The man was rushed to a nearby hospital but died from his injuries on Feb. 6, according to CNN Brasil.


de Novaes regularly published TikTok videos about gun use and concealment. (Image: TikTok @leandromathias_adv)

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines use strong magnetic fields to temporarily realign protons in the patient's body. Computer-generated radio frequencies are then pulsed through the patient, stimulating those protons and causing them to strain against the MRI's magnetic force. Once the radio frequencies are shut off, the protons return to their original state, releasing energy in the process. The machine reads these energy releases to create images of the patient's internal organs, skeleton, and other body parts.

This is to say there's no MRI without a strong magnetic field, which is why metal isn't permitted in the MRI room. Staff routinely ask patients to remove jewelry, accessibility devices, and all other wearables containing metal prior to entering a space where MRIs are performed. Not only does this ensure the diagnostic process goes smoothly, but it's for the patient's own safety, as the MRI's magnetic field tugs on anything that contains metal. Imagine how this would feel with something as innocuous as a body piercing—and then add a loaded gun to the mix.

de Novaes is said to have been a fierce pro-gun advocate, having published TikTok videos about gun use and concealment for 8,000 followers prior to his death. (His account, @leandromathias_adv, appears to have been taken down posthumously.) This may explain why de Novaes insisted on taking a firearm into his mother's MRI appointment, but ultimately it doesn't matter; the MRI doesn't care what someone's motive is for disobeying staff instructions, as we now know.

Now Read:

People who share ideology have similar 'neural fingerprints'
Is this article about Deep Learning?
A drawing of a brain wearing glasses with one red lens and one blue lens.

People who share a political ideology have more similar "neural fingerprints" of political words and process new information in similar ways, according to a new analysis.

Take the word "freedom," for example, or a picture of the American flag, or even the 2020 US presidential election. A person who identifies politically as liberal vs. one who identifies as conservative will likely have opposing interpretations when processing this information—and the new research helps to explain why.

While previous theories posited that political polarization results from selective consumption (and over-consumption) of news and social media, a team led by researchers at Brown University hypothesized that polarization may start even earlier.

The new study appears in Science Advances.

Individuals who share an ideology have more similar neural fingerprints of political words, experience greater neural synchrony when engaging with political content, and their brains sequentially segment new information into the same units of meaning.

In this way, the researchers say, they show how polarization arises at the very point when the brain receives and processes new information.

"This research helps shed light on what happens in the brain that gives rise to political polarization," says senior study author Oriel FeldmanHall, an associate professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences who is affiliated with the Carney Institute of Brain Science at Brown University. Daantje de Bruin, a graduate student in FeldmanHall's lab, led the research and conducted the data analysis.

Previous research from FeldmanHall's lab showed that when watching a potentially polarizing video about hot-button issues like abortion, policing, or immigration, the brain activity of people who identified as Democrat or Republican was similar to the brain activity of people in their respective parties.

That neurosynchrony, FeldmanHall explains, is considered evidence that the brains are processing the information in a similar way. For this new study, the researchers wanted to get an even more detailed picture of why and how the brains of people in the same political party are able to sync up.

To do that, the team used a range of methods that they say have never before been used in conjunction with each other. They conducted a series of experiments with a group of 44 participants, equally split among liberals and conservatives, who agreed to perform various cognitive tasks while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures the small changes in blood flow that occur with brain activity.

This research helps shed light on what happens in the brain that gives rise to political polarization.

Participants first completed a word reading task in which they were presented with single words (e.g., "immigration," "abortion") and asked to determine whether the word was political or non-political (indicated via a button press). Then the participants watched a series of videos, including a neutrally worded news clip on abortion and a heated 2016 vice presidential campaign debate on police brutality and immigration. During the experiments, the participants' brain activity was measured using fMRI.

One of the methods the researchers used is called representation similarity analysis. When a person sees a simple, static image, like a word, the brain will represent that word with certain activity patterns.

"You can think of it as the brain representing the word by firing neurons in a certain way," FeldmanHall says. "It's almost like a fingerprint—a neural fingerprint that encodes the concept of that word within the brain."

She added that since neural activity patterns store information about the world, how the brain represents this information is considered a metric for how that information is interpreted and used to steer behavior and attitudes.

In the study, the participants were exposed to words that are often politicized, like "abortion," "immigration" and "gangs," as well as more ambiguous words, like "freedom".

The researchers found by analyzing the fMRI data that the neural fingerprint created by a liberal brain is more similar to other liberal brains than the neural fingerprint created by a conservative brain, and vice versa. This is important, FeldmanHall says, because it shows how the brains of partisans are processing information in a polarized way, even when it's devoid of any political context.

The researchers also used a newer methodology called neural segmentation to explore how the brains of people who identify with a particular party bias the interpretation of incoming information. Brains are constantly receiving visual and auditory input, FeldmanHall says, and the way the brain makes sense of that continuous barrage of information is to separate it into discrete chunks, or segments.

"It's like dividing a book of solid text into sentences, paragraphs, and chapters," she says.

The researchers found that the brains of Democrats separate incoming information in the same way, which then gives similar, partisan meanings to those pieces of information—but that the brains of Republicans segment the same information in a different way.

The researchers note that individuals who shared an ideology had more similar neural representations of political words and experienced greater neural synchrony while watching the political videos, and segmented real-world information into the same meaningful units.

"The reason two liberal brains are synchronizing when watching a complicated video is due in part to the fact that each brain has neural fingerprints for political concepts or words that are very aligned," FeldmanHall explains.

This explains why two opposing partisans can watch the same news segment and both believe that it was biased against their side—for each partisan, the words, images, sounds, and concepts were represented in their brain in a different way (but similar to other partisans who share their ideology). The stream of information was also segmented out in a different format, telling a different ideological story.

Taken together, the researchers conclude, the findings show that political ideology is shaped by semantic representations of political concepts processed in an environment free of any polarizing agenda, and that these representations bias how real-world political information is construed into a polarized perspective.

"In this way, our study provided a mechanistic account for why political polarization arises," FeldmanHall says.

The researchers are now focusing on how this explanation of polarization can be used to combat polarization.

"The problem of political polarization can't be addressed on a superficial level," FeldmanHall says. "Our work showed that these polarized beliefs are very entrenched, and go all the way down to the way people experience a political word. Understanding this will influence how researchers think about potential interventions."

Additional contributors to this research include Pedro L. Rodríguez from the Center for Data Science at New York University and Jeroen M. van Baar from the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction.

Source: Brown University

The post People who share ideology have similar 'neural fingerprints' appeared first on Futurity.

Since the discovery in 1995 of a planet in orbit around a star other than the sun, research in exoplanetology has revolutionized our knowledge of planetary systems. The SPIRou instrument, installed at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, contributes to these results, in particular by observing the possible planets identified by the TESS observatory satellite.
Quantum dots with finely-tuned spherical defects could enhance nonlinear optics
Quantum dots are semiconductor particles measuring just a few nanometers across, which are now widely studied for their intriguing electrical and optical properties. Through new research published in The European Physical Journal B, Kobra Hasanirokh at Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University in Iran, together with Luay Hashem Abbud at Al-Mustaqbal University College, Iraq, show how quantum dots containing spherical defects can significantly enhance their nonlinear optical properties. By fine-tuning these defects, researchers could tightly control the frequency and brightness of the light emitted by quantum dots.
2 common plant extracts shield cells from COVID
Is this article about Health?
A tall goldenrod plant with green leaves and yellow flowers.

Two common wild plants contain extracts that inhibit the ability of the virus that causes 


-19 to infect living cells, according to a new study.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, is the first major screening of botanical extracts to search for potency against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the researchers say.

In laboratory dish tests, extracts from the flowers of tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) and the rhizomes of the eagle fern (Pteridium aquilinum) each blocked SARS-CoV-2 from entering human cells.

The active compounds are only present in miniscule quantities in the plants. It would be ineffective, and potentially dangerous, for people to attempt to treat themselves with them, the researchers stress. In fact, the eagle fern is known to be toxic, they warn.

"It's very early in the process, but we're working to identify, isolate, and scale up the molecules from the extracts that showed activity against the virus," says senior author Cassandra Quave, associate professor in Emory School of Medicine's dermatology department and the Center for the Study of Human Health. "Once we have isolated the active ingredients, we plan to further test for their safety and for their long-range potential as medicines against COVID-19."

Medicines from plants and fungi

Quave is an ethnobotanist, studying how traditional people have used plants for medicine to identify promising new candidates for modern-day drugs. Her lab curates the Quave Natural Product Library, which contains thousands of botanical and fungal natural products extracted from plants collected at sites around the world.

Caitlin Risener, a PhD candidate in Emory's Molecular and Systems Pharmacology graduate program and the Center for the Study of Human Health, is first author of the current paper.

In previous research to identify potential molecules for the treatment of drug-resistant bacterial infections, the Quave lab focused on plants that traditional people had used to treat skin inflammation.

Given that COVID-19 is a newly emerged disease, the researchers took a broader approach. They devised a method to rapidly test more than 1,800 extracts and 18 compounds from the Quave Natural Product Library for activity against SARS-CoV-2.

"We've shown that our natural products library is a powerful tool to help search for potential therapeutics for an emerging disease," Risener says. "Other researchers can adapt our screening method to search for other novel compounds within plants and fungi that may lead to new drugs to treat a range of pathogens."

Plants offer COVID protection

SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus with a spike protein that can bind to a protein called ACE2 on host cells. "The viral spike protein uses the ACE2 protein almost like a key going into a lock, enabling the virus to break into a cell and infect it," Quave explains.

The researchers devised experiments with virus-like particles, or VLPs, of SARS-CoV-2, and cells programmed to overexpress ACE2 on their surface. The VLPs were stripped of the genetic information needed to cause a COVID-19 


. Instead, if a VLP managed to bind to an ACE2 protein and enter a cell, it was programmed to hijack the cell's machinery to activate a fluorescent green protein.

The researchers added a plant extract to the cells in a Petri dish before introducing the viral particles. By shining a fluorescent light on the dish, they could quickly determine whether the viral particles had managed to enter the cells and activate the green protein.

The researchers identified a handful of hits for extracts that protected against viral entry and then homed in on the ones showing the strongest activity: Tall goldenrod and eagle fern. Both plant species are native to North America and are known for traditional medicinal uses by Native Americans.

Additional experiments showed that the protective power of the plant extracts worked across four variants of SARS-CoV-2: Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma.

Plants for infectious diseases

To further test these results, the Quave lab collaborated with coauthor Raymond Schinazi, professor of pediatrics, director of Emory's Division of Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, and co-director of the HIV Cure Scientific Working Group within the NIH-sponsored Emory University Center for AIDS Research. A world leader in antiviral development, Schinazi is best known for his pioneering work on breakthrough HIV drugs.

The higher biosecurity rating of the Schinazi lab enabled the researchers to test the two plant extracts in experiments using infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus instead of VLPs. The results confirmed the ability of the tall goldenrod and eagle fern extracts to inhibit the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to bind to a living cell and infect it.

"Our results set the stage for the future use of natural product libraries to find new tools or therapies against infectious diseases," Quave says.

As a next step, the researchers are working to determine the exact mechanism that enables the two plant extracts to block binding to ACE2 proteins.

Medicinal potential

For Risener, one of the best parts about the project is that she collected samples of tall goldenrod and eagle fern herself. In addition to gathering medicinal plants from around the globe, the Quave lab also makes field trips to the forests of the Joseph W. Jones Research Center in South Georgia. The Woodruff Foundation established the center to help conserve one of the last remnants of the unique longleaf pine ecosystem that once dominated the southeastern United States.

"It's awesome to go into nature to identify and dig up plants," Risener says. "That's something that few graduate students in pharmacology get to do. I'll be covered in dirt from head to toe, kneeling on the ground, and beaming with excitement and happiness."

She also assists in preparing the plant extracts and mounting the specimens for the Emory Herbarium. "When you collect a specimen yourself, and dry and preserve the samples, you get a personal connection," she says. "It's different from someone just handing you a vial of plant material in a lab and saying, 'Analyze this.'"

After graduating, Risener hopes for a career in outreach and education for science policy surrounding research into natural compounds. A few of the more famous medicines derived from botanicals include aspirin (from the willow tree), penicillin (from fungi), and the cancer therapy Taxol (from the yew tree).

"Plants have such chemical complexity that humans probably couldn't dream up all the botanical compounds that are waiting to be discovered," Risener says. "The vast medicinal potential of plants highlights the importance of preserving ecosystems."

Additional coauthors are from Missouri Botanical Gardens and Emory. The Marcus Foundation, the Center for AIDS Research, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health funded the work.

Source: Emory University

The post 2 common plant extracts shield cells from COVID appeared first on Futurity.

Russia delays launch to space station while leak is probed
Russia will postpone the launch of an empty space capsule to the International Space Station pending further investigation of a coolant leak on a supply ship docked to the station, the second such leak at a docked Russian craft in two months, the head of Russia's space corporation Roscosmos said Monday.
Emergence and spread of two SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest in Nigeria

Nature Communications, Published online: 13 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36449-5

Data on geographically restricted 
-CoV-2 variants is lacking in some regions. In this nationwide effort including 18 public health labs, the authors used genomic epidemiology and travel data to understand the origin and spread of 2 variants of interest that predominated during the second wave of the pandemic in Nigeria.
Just how hard should natural resource managers fight invasive species after they establish? A new University of Illinois study suggests some invaders—even highly successful ones—can die off naturally, leaving native communities to rebound with minimal management effort.
Is this article about Cell?
 show how stimulating dendritic cells through certain pathways produces strong T cell activity against 
 and works in conjunction with immune checkpoint inhibitors to produce even stronger responses. The article also shares promising early results from a phase 1 clinical study of an oncolytic virus (MEM-288) that activates these pathways in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Voice Actors Enraged By Companies Stealing Their Voices With AI
More voice acting contracts are embedding sneaky clauses that would allow a client to synthesize their voice with AI, often without extra compensation.

It's not just visual artists who are feeling the heat of AI's encroachment — now, professional voice actors are beginning to be affected, too.

Last week, Vice reported on a troubling trend that's gaining traction in the voice acting industry: actors being "asked" — sometimes not very honestly — to sign contracts that would allow their clients to synthesize their voices using AIenabling them to wield an actor's voice for as long as they want, to say what they want, and often without any additional compensation.

Another distressing aspect of these contracts? The AI clauses in them tend to be deceptively embedded.

"The language can be confusing and ambiguous," Tim Friedlander, president of the National Association of Voice Actors, told Vice, describing the practice as "very prevalent."

"Many voice actors may have signed a contract without realizing language like this had been added … Some actors are being told they cannot be hired without agreeing to these clauses," he noted.

In the wake of the news, many voice acting heavyweights began to chime in on the use of AI to mimic their voices, Gizmodo spotted. Some had only just discovered that their voices were being synthesized on AI apps and websites without their permission (though they have not disclosed which specific platforms).

"Hey friends, I know AI technology is exciting, but if you see my voice or any of the characters that I voice offered on any of those sites, please know that I have not given my permission, and never will," wrote Steve Blum, the iconic gravelly voice behind Spike Spiegel from the hit anime series "Cowboy Bebop," in a tweet on Friday.

"This is highly unethical," he added.

Many other notable voice actors, like Matthew Mercer, Stephanie Sheh, and Cristina Vee, echoed Blum's sentiment.

"I know people have been using AI of my voice to have fun, make my characters cuss or do other out of pocket things, etc," Vee tweeted. "This is all done without my consent and it does feel extremely weird. If you see clips out there, please know it's without my permission."

For now, voice actors still have a choice to sign these contracts — assuming they realize what kind of devilish deal they're getting into in the first place.

But it's undeniable that if this becomes a common practice, the pressure to sign these contracts will soon be overwhelming if it's a choice between getting paid work and nothing at all.

The monetary implications of that for voice actors are already worrying enough, but the potential for their voices to be applied to content they never consented to be a part of in the first place is even more disturbing.

"What happens when we happily agree to a role, and, once in the booth, we see a particular line in the script that doesn't feel right, and express unambiguous discomfort? " asked voice actor Sarah Elmaleh, in her comments to Vice. "What happens if the producer doesn't comprehend or accept the seriousness of that objection?"

"Normally, we are able to refuse to read the line, to prevent it from being used," Elmaleh added. "This technology obviously circumvents that entirely."

More on generative AI: David Guetta Faked Eminem's Vocals Using AI for New Song

The post Voice Actors Enraged By Companies Stealing Their Voices With AI appeared first on Futurism.

Why were the Turkey and Syria earthquakes so devastating?
A man sits in front of a collapsed building.

Earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria this month killed over 20,000 people and collapsed thousands of buildings. Why were they so catastrophic—and could they have been predicted?

Around 4 AM local time on Monday, February 6, two tectonic plates slipped past each other just 12 miles below southern Turkey and northern Syria, causing a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. It was the largest earthquake to hit Turkey in over 80 years. Then, just nine hours later, a second quake—registered at 7.5 magnitude—struck the same region.

The double whammy of intense shaking left behind a humanitarian crisis in an already vulnerable area. The epicenter of the quakes was near the city of Gaziantep, where there are currently hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Aleppo, a city in Syria that has been destroyed by civil war, also felt the brunt of the earthquakes.

Seismologists consider Turkey a tectonically active area, where three tectonic plates—the Anatolia, Arabia, and Africa plates—touch and interact with each other. The two major fault lines surrounding it, the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian Fault—which has a slip rate of between 6 and 10 millimeters per year—are gradually squeezing the country westward toward the Mediterranean Sea. Yet, many buildings in the region are not built to withstand large earthquakes, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), making the destruction worse.

"Even if we had told all of those people the day before, or the week before, and everyone got out safely, but all those buildings still collapsed, this would still be a humanitarian tragedy," says Rachel Abercrombie, a research professor of earth and environment at Boston University.

Abercrombie has studied earthquakes for over three decades, aiming to understand what makes some more severe than others, how they start, and what actually happens at the earthquake source. The president of the American Geophysical Union's seismology division, she is also a co-leader of a Southern California Earthquake Center research project which works to improve measurements of stress released by earthquakes.

Here, she puts the cascading devastation into context, and talks about why the region is at high risk for earthquakes and what can be done to warn people about an impending shake before it's too late:

The post Why were the Turkey and Syria earthquakes so devastating? appeared first on Futurity.

Is it possible to maintain lightly moderated online communities in the 2020s onward?

By lightly moderated, I'm referring to communities that encourage people from across the political spectrum to debate and that only ban users when their content is too traumatizing or dangerous to remove individually.

In the USA, we're seeing some right-wing pushback against excessive moderation, even if imo state mandates like those in Texas and Florida might be too aggressive of a first step, and while I am not certain about how sincere they are I'm aware that left-wing or merely off-color speech can also result in deplatforming (it's not just a right-wing issue IMO) and can lead to the sort of segregated echo chambers that have fueled the rise of Trump and radical Trumpist offshoots like Qanon as well as racist Black Hebrew Israelites. On the other hand, many/most jurisdictions have government mandated removal (copyright, child porn, and defamation are common), and there are founded concerns about disinformation by hostile regimes and terrorists that could impact public safety. Is it possible and feasible to maintain an open forum without it being overtaken by outlaws?

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Despite similarities with other Neotropical biomes like the Caatinga (a mosaic of scrub with patches of seasonally dry forest in Northeast Brazil) and Cerrado (savanna in Central Brazil), the Gran Chaco, or simply Chaco, is globally unique. Located mainly in Bolivia and Argentina, with patches in Brazil and Paraguay, the region is the world's largest continuous dry tropical forest. Snakes must adapt in various ways to survive there. Sheltering from the sun and climbing trees are examples.
Despite similarities with other Neotropical biomes like the Caatinga (a mosaic of scrub with patches of seasonally dry forest in Northeast Brazil) and Cerrado (savanna in Central Brazil), the Gran Chaco, or simply Chaco, is globally unique. Located mainly in Bolivia and Argentina, with patches in Brazil and Paraguay, the region is the world's largest continuous dry tropical forest. Snakes must adapt in various ways to survive there. Sheltering from the sun and climbing trees are examples.
Examining asphalt volcanoes' natural communities
Santa Barbara Channel's natural oil seeps are a beach-goer's bane, flecking the shores with blobs of tar. But the leaking petroleum also creates fascinating geologic and biologic features. About 10 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, several jet-black mounds interrupt the featureless sea floor. These asphalt volcanoes, virtually unique in the world, provide a rare habitat in a region known for its underwater biodiversity.
Effects of photosynthetic daily light on swordfern cultivars
In the past decade, tropical ferns have increased in popularity for use in hanging baskets or as a potted indoor crop. To date, tropical ferns are the second largest (14%) category of the foliage plant sector in the commercial floriculture industry in the United States, with a reported volume of 12 million containers (hanging baskets and pots) representing a total sales value of $67.2 million US (US Department of Agriculture, 2020).
Santa Barbara Channel's natural oil seeps are a beach-goer's bane, flecking the shores with blobs of tar. But the leaking petroleum also creates fascinating geologic and biologic features. About 10 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, several jet-black mounds interrupt the featureless sea floor. These asphalt volcanoes, virtually unique in the world, provide a rare habitat in a region known for its underwater biodiversity.
In the past decade, tropical ferns have increased in popularity for use in hanging baskets or as a potted indoor crop. To date, tropical ferns are the second largest (14%) category of the foliage plant sector in the commercial floriculture industry in the United States, with a reported volume of 12 million containers (hanging baskets and pots) representing a total sales value of $67.2 million US (US Department of Agriculture, 2020).
Weight loss jabs to be sold via high street chemists in England
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • England's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has already approved the use of two such drugs, liraglutide and the more effective semaglutide, for certain groups of people with obesity.

Appetite suppressant Wegovy, popular with celebrities, seen as breakthrough treatment but not permanent remedy

Weekly weight-loss jabs that are popular with celebrities will soon be made available through high street chemists in England, despite controversy over their use.

Many people struggle to tackle obesity through diet and exercise alone as they often find they regain the weight that they lose.

Continue reading…
What Causes Muscle Twitches, According to Science
Sometimes, it seems like muscles have a mind of their own. Whether it's a twitchy eyelid, a sudden spasm in your thigh or a muscle that seems to contract without cause, involuntary muscle movements are exceedingly common. (One might even be happening to you, right now, as you read this sentence.) Most muscle twitches fall under the category of fasciculations — small, involuntary movements that can occur at random to any muscle in the body, although they're most common in the eyelids and limbs. No big deal, right? While admittedly annoying, these twitches are mostly harmless, and often go unnoticed. Still, while they're rarely a sign of a neuromuscular disorder, they can sometimes signal more serious conditions. Here's what scientists know about what causes muscle twitches and how to stop them. What Causes Muscle Twitches? If you are wondering what causes muscle twitches, there's a good chance you've felt a fasciculation before. About 70 percent of healthy people have them, according to a study published in the journal Neurology in 2017. Because they're largely benign, fasciculations haven't been subjected to much research, and scientists still aren't sure what triggers most of them. Read More: What is the Purpose of Hiccuping? Fasciculations Researchers know that fasciculations are likely the result of irritation within nerve cells, prompting fast, small, spontaneous and visible contractions of muscle fibers. (Some neurologists call them verminosis — from the Latin word for worm or maggot — because they look like worms moving below the surface of the skin.) Eye twitches might be particularly common because just a small number of nerve cells supply the muscles that control our eyelids, meaning that it doesn't require a lot of irritation to these nerve fibers to make your eyelid jerk. Symptoms and Causes While direct causes aren't yet understood, scientists have identified a number of associations between fasciculations and other factors. Stress, for one, is a potential trigger, and fasciculations are often linked to other stress-induced symptoms like headaches, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. Other possible causes include a lack of sleep, too much caffeine and even an excess of exercise. In fact, exercise is cited as one of the more common causes, according to a 2010 study in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, with twitches typically occurring after someone has completed a particularly-strenuous workout — but only in the lower leg muscles. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also cause fasciculations. When Muscle Twitches Signal Something More Serious Again, most twitches aren't a cause for alarm, nor do they require medical attention. But in rare cases, they can be a symptom of illnesses or conditions that impact the central nervous system. Additionally, persistent muscle twitching may negatively affect your mental health. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Among the most concerning of these is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a disease that destroys motor nerve cells — which control voluntary muscles like your biceps and hamstrings — and causes a loss of muscle function. People with ALS may lose the ability to move, eat, speak and even breathe. It's important to note that fasciculations aren't the only symptoms of ALS. They also tend to be accompanied by other issues like worsening muscle weakness, difficulty gripping smaller objects and trouble with talking, swallowing or walking. But because muscle twitches can still indicate severe neuromuscular issues, doctors are likely to treat them seriously. Read More: A Soft Ventilator Could Help People with ALS Breathe Easier Benign Fasciculation Syndrome While most people only have occasional fasciculations, a small subset gets muscle twitches all the time — a rare condition known as benign fasciculation syndrome, or BFS. These individuals may experience consistent, relentless twitching, which can diminish their quality of life and overall well-being. Most people with the condition experience anxiety about their symptoms, according to a 2018 study in Muscle & Nerve, and it can even contribute to depression. How to Stop Muscle Twitches There aren't really any foolproof treatments for fasciculations, which tend to resolve by themselves. However, if you have persistent muscle twitches, your doctor may want to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Electromyography One common technique for evaluating muscle twitches is electromyography, or EMG. This diagnostic test stimulates a nerve with a small electric charge and records how the muscle responds. Treatments Some people have reduced their symptoms by taking beta-blockers or anti-seizure medications, which can lessen the excitability of certain muscles. Managing your stress — as well as your sleep schedule, magnesium levels and caffeine intake — can bring relief, as well. Read More: Deep, Slow Breathing: An Antidote to Our Age of Anxiety? In short, if you want to know how to stop a muscle twitch, such as that pesky, twitchy eyelid, the best fix is to rest, relax and eat a magnesium-rich diet full of leafy greens and nuts. And if your fasciculations are causing your anxiety to surge, or are accompanied by other symptoms, there's no harm in asking your doctor about them, either.
Genetics Reveal Movements of Ancient Siberians
Ancient DNA preserved in the icy climate of Siberia has revealed new insights about how ancient humans migrated five to seven millennia ago. The finding is important because it helps scientists fill in a big gap in their knowledge about ancient humans. We know, for example, that humans began to migrate out of Africa at least 50,000 years ago. But it took until roughly 10,000 years ago before they began to develop farming. The humans living in the intermittent period — as well as much more recently than 10 millennia ago in some places — had to forage for their sustenance. But they didn't build many permanent structures, living a more nomadic lifestyle with smaller populations, so their remains are harder to find. "That is a huge timespan when humans came out of Africa before farming development," says Cosimo Posth, a professor at the University of Tübingen. In a study published recently in Current Biology, the researchers examined the DNA from 10 different ancient humans, which is quite a lot considering most of them date from 5,500 to 7,500 years old. These remains came from three locations in Siberia — the Altai Mountains, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Russian Far East. "In Siberia, the preservation of DNA is amazing," says Posth, who co-authored the study. "This is fantastic for us because we don't need to screen many remains to get usable DNA for genetic analysis." They modeled the genome from these remains and compared them to those of other individuals from previously published research. Read More: Finishing the Human Genome Passage from the Americas Two males and one female from Kamchatka lived relatively recently — only 500 years ago. The reason it's interesting is that researchers haven't previously published any ancient genome information from this region. All three of the remains Posth and his colleagues analyzed contained small portions of ancestry from Indigenous Americans. The presence of these markers suggests that Indigenous Americans were also crossing back to Russia prior to the period these individuals were alive. "This probably happened over a long period of time," Posth says. While researchers had previously known there was gene flow back and forth across the Bering Sea — perhaps for 5,000 years — this finding stretches that area of gene flow further south into the Kamchatka Peninsula. Altai meetings and Shamanism Posth and his colleagues were surprised to discover a previously unknown population with mixed genetics in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. At some point during the last Ice Age, a group of ancient north Eurasians mixed with a population from northeastern Siberia. The corresponding mixture is one that researchers haven't seen before, Posth says. It's also not clear where these two groups first met and intermingled since the people were mostly nomadic at the time. It's possible they met in the region where the remains are found, though, which may have provided a good passage between mountains to the north and the desert to the south. "It's a perfect meeting point for groups, geographically speaking," Posth says. Five of the Altai Mountains remains — all males — had very similar DNA, despite dating from different times between 7,500 and 5,500 years ago. But the sixth male, which dates to about 6,500 years ago, comes from farther east. The DNA shows this, but so does the archaeological context. The individual was buried with rich burial goods and a costume that Posth says could indicate some sort of shamanism. Posth says it's unclear whether this man is representative of a larger migration between the Altai Mountains and people farther east. But it shows that a degree of movement was occurring between different people at the time. Japanese Connection Finally, one of the analyzed individuals was found in the Russian Far East. This male isn't that remarkable at first glance, for the DNA resembles that of other similarly aged people that have been previously analyzed. Or at least three-quarters of the DNA is similar. The other quarter of this man's genome appears to be Japanese. This discovery is surprising. This man dates back to about 7,000 years ago, but Japan was settled much earlier — possibly 30,000 years ago. This means that people from Japan were traveling back to the mainland and mixing with other humans there. "These hunter-gatherers were also able to cross bodies of water and interact among each other," Posth says. Overall, these results show how fluid ancient people were in Eurasia and even North America. "These foraging communities were in close contact with each other, they were highly mobile with each other and were admixing," Posth says. "We are really talking about large-distance mobility."



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