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Over the moon! Buzz Aldrin marries 'long-time love' on his 93rd birthday

Second man to walk on the moon says he and Anca Faur are 'as excited as eloping teenagers'

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, has announced that he got married to his long-term partner on his 93rd birthday.

The retired astronaut celebrated his birthday on Friday and said on Twitter that he "tied the knot" with Dr Anca Faur, 63, in a small ceremony in Los Angeles.

Continue reading…

The Immortal David Crosby

"We're going to do kind of a science-fiction story, if you'll bear with us," David Crosby said on August 18, 1969, as his band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young began playing their song "Wooden Ships" at Woodstock. Crosby, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist who died on Wednesday at the age of 81, was never a typical hippie, despite being one of the movement's founders and figureheads. Yet the band's Woodstock performance of "Wooden Ships" is a perfect example of his sweeping, singular, sci-fi-driven vision.

To him, the counterculture of the '60s was more than a protest movement or a bohemian aesthetic; it was a vehicle for probing the reaches of being human. While many anthems of the hippie era painted pictures of folksy peace—including CSNY's own "Teach Your Children" and "Our House," both written by Graham Nash—"Wooden Ships" is an outright downer, a dark account of the apocalypse. Still, it soars with cautious hope, its titular ship sailing either the sea or outer space.

In fact, Crosby was known for his love of all things maritime, and to him, the ocean flowed into the stars. Musically, Crosby swirled everything from free jazz to synthesizers into his cosmic Americana. "Science fiction was so expansive and it was so unlimited," Crosby told Neil deGrasse Tyson on the latter's StarTalk podcast in 2016. "Anything could happen, and that was just rich to me. And I lusted after it." His obsession with space exploration, emerging musical technology, and the literature of the fantastic forged a kind of future-folk.

Crosby's band right before CSNY, the Byrds, started out as a group of earthy Bob Dylan acolytes before quickly reaching escape velocity with songs such as "C.T.A.-102"—which mixed folk-rock with electronic noise while borrowing its name from a recently discovered quasar. One of the reasons Crosby was eventually fired from the Byrds was a creative dispute over a song he had written, "Triad," which drew from Robert A. Heinlein's classic novel Stranger in a Strange Land. It's a song about group sex, yes, but it sets such terrestrial pleasures against a sci-fi backdrop. Where Dylan read Jack Kerouac, Crosby read Isaac Asimov.

Paradoxically, folk—Crosby's first love as a musician—is a form fueled by tradition rather than innovation. When Crosby came up in the music scene of the '60s, folk was only progressive in the political sense, thanks to the leftist likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. So his debut album from 1971, If I Could Only Remember My Name, became not only the crown jewel of his solo career; it elevated folk-rock to a whole new firmament. The track "What Are Their Names" contains what might be Crosby's most on-the-nose lyric—"Peace is not an awful lot to ask," he sings—but he transcends that platitude with a fugue of plucked strings and layered voices (supplied by a choir that includes, among others, Jerry Garcia and Joni Mitchell). It all coalesces into a ringing deep-space raga. The album's cover depicts Crosby's face superimposed over a photo of the ocean at sundown—as if to advertise the notion that his mind and music are part of an unbroken continuum, a kind of galactic hum.

In the liner notes to the CD reissue of the 1969 album Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby explained that "Wooden Ships" is an allegory where "we imagined ourselves as the few survivors, escaping on a boat to create a new civilization." But although he outlived many of his generation's hard-living musicians, Crosby did more than survive. He altered the trajectory of American music with an imagination far beyond his age.




Why Do We Sleep?

This is an edition of The Wonder Reader, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a set of stories to spark your curiosity and fill you with delight. Sign up here to get it every Saturday morning.

Why do living things sleep? "Ask researchers this question, and listen as, like clockwork, a sense of awe and frustration creeps into their voices," Veronique Greenwood wrote in 2018.

"In a way, it's startling how universal sleep is," she continued. "In the midst of the hurried scramble for survival, across eons of bloodshed and death and flight, uncountable millions of living things have laid themselves down for a nice, long bout of unconsciousness. This hardly seems conducive to living to fight another day … That such a risky habit is so common, and so persistent, suggests that whatever is happening is of the utmost importance."

In other words, Greenwood writes, "whatever sleep gives to the sleeper is worth tempting death over and over again, for a lifetime." Whatever sleep gives us is also worth the many hours, and large amounts of money, that humans now spend figuring out how to maximize our slumber. Sixty percent of America's adults report experiencing sleep problems every night or most nights, Amanda Mull noted in 2019, and a variety of industries have sprung up to help us sleep longer and better.

Sleep is a need, but it's also a ritual: Where we sleep, when we sleep, and who we sleep next to say a lot about who we are and what we want. Today's reading list explores sleep as a scientific mystery, a physical need, and the most consistent routine of our daily lives.

On Sleep

A medieval knight sleeping
Hulton Archive / Getty

Can Medieval Sleeping Habits Fix America's Insomnia?

By Derek Thompson

"My 3-a.m. awakenings aren't an unnatural disorder but an ancestral echo."

The Atlantic

Why Everyone Should Sleep Alone

By Malika Rao

On the virtues of splitting up for the night

A child sleeping next to a dog
Keystone View / FPG / Getty

I Found the Key to the Kingdom of Sleep

By Amanda Mull

It's my foot.

Still Curious?

Other Diversions


I'll leave you with one sleep fact from the animal kingdom that only adds to the mystery: Golden hamsters "have been observed waking up from bouts of hibernation—in order to nap," Greenwood reports. "Whatever they're getting from sleep, it's not available to them while they're hibernating." But what is it? Scientists still don't know.

— Isabel

The Bitter Truth Behind Russia's Looting of Ukrainian Art

After occupying Kherson for eight months and pledging to keep it forever, Russia's army abandoned the city in southern Ukraine in November and retreated south and east across the Dnipro River. With them, Russian soldiers took truckloads of cultural treasures looted from the region's museums.

Most of Kherson's art collection, which is worth millions of dollars, has ended up on the nearby Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014; there, the director of a local gallery confirmed to Radio Free Europe's Ukrainian service that the stolen art was "in storage" in his museum. But thousands of pieces from Kherson's folklore museum, including ancient artifacts from the Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, and Greeks—peoples who settled the area near the Black and Azov Seas centuries before the Russian empire—have disappeared without a trace, as have hundreds of valuable books from the city's science library.

The Ukrainian archivists and curators who are busy trying to account for their losses compare Russia's art theft to that of the Nazis, who looted Kherson's museums during the nearly three years of German occupation, from 1941 to 1944. If anything, they say, this time is worse—not least because they feel betrayed: by the Russians, yes, but more so by informers and collaborators within their own ranks. "Russians told us they were our brothers," Kherson Art Museum's longtime director, Alina Dotsenko, told me when I interviewed her in Kyiv. But more hurtful was that "our own colleagues helped the looters to rob our museums"—even if, for every instance of collaboration, there was also an opposite act of courageous resistance by someone who worked to frustrate the enemy's plans and save items and records from the collections.

[Read: Celebrations as Ukraine retakes Kherson]

Nevertheless, when Dotsenko entered the pillaged archives on November 11, soon after Kherson's liberation, her heart stopped. "At least 10,000 works out of more than 14,000 art pieces were gone," she said.

At first, after Russian invaders had captured the city in early March, Dotsenko and her loyal manager, Hanna Skrypka, managed to protect the collection. They told Russian officials that it had all been removed from Kherson during renovation work. The museum's walls were indeed covered in scaffolding, but in fact the art had been taken down and stored in the building's basement. The precious silver and gold frames of ancient icons in the collection were locked in a safe, for which Skrypka had the key.

The ruse worked for almost three months, and Dotsenko, Skrypka, and their like-minded colleagues began to hope that the Russians would never discover their subterfuge. But they were betrayed. Two former employees informed the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that the art was still inside the building, Dotsenko explained.

On May 5, Russian prosecutors summoned Dotsenko for interrogation. "They said they would teach me to respect the new Russian power, which was going to stay in Kherson for good," Dotsenko told me. "So rather than wait to be arrested, I left for Odesa and took the entire digital archive of our art with me, hidden on my body."

After she fled, Russian authorities appointed a new director, Natalia Desyatova, who was reportedly a former singer at a local café, and, as both Dotsenko and Skrypka told me, made the remaining museum workers promise in writing that they would not communicate with the collection managers and workers who'd remained loyal to Ukraine and left the museum. But even then, the head of the museum's book archives, an elderly woman named Galina Aksyutina, took a personal risk and smuggled out a valuable 1840 first edition of Kobzar, a collection of poems by one of Ukraine's most beloved writers, Taras Shevchenko. The Russian guards, presumably not suspecting anything so daring from an old woman, neglected to search her.

[Read: 'I just wanted the whole thing to be over']

A similar drama played out at the science library. "In the first days of the occupation, we tried to hide the most valuable books in the basement," Nadezhda Korotun, the library's director, told me. "But armed FSB officers came to our library several times a week. They demanded we find and show them detailed maps of Kherson and the region, and they broke locked doors." Korotun also encouraged her employees to take home as many rare, old books as they could and try to smuggle them out of the occupation zone. This was a dangerous enterprise because the Russian military was searching vehicles at every checkpoint on the road from Kherson to Odesa.

When Ukrainian forces were moving to retake Kherson in late October, the organized looting began, Skrypka told me. Desyatova told Skrypka to come into work on November 1. The moment she stepped into the museum, she regretted it. The building was full of Russians. Two armed Chechens in uniform said they were FSB officers. "They looked as if they had killed a lot of people," Skrypka told me. "My skin froze under their stare."

Over the next 48 hours, Skrypka was effectively held captive. Desyatova ordered her to type up a list of the art being taken for an official from Moscow who introduced himself as a representative of the Russian Ministry of Culture. "Even the collaborators working at the museum asked him to stop at 8,000, but he insisted," Skrypka told me. "He said his bosses would be mad at him if he did not take enough." The looters forced her to open the safe with the treasured silver and golden icon frames and emptied it. Powerless to prevent the pillaging, she resolved to at least be a witness—"I decided to be the eyes and ears," she said.

The Museum of Fine Arts, as it was originally called, opened in 1912, displaying works by the major Ukrainian and Russian artists of the day, including Vasily Perov, Mykola Pymonenko, Vasily Polenov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Ivan Shishkin, and Ilya Repin. During the Nazi occupation, the city's archaeological and art collections both were looted, and it took years for Kherson's museums to track down the stolen items—even then, they could only "partly recover" the prewar collections, Dotsenko told me.

[Phillips Payson O'Brien: Ukraine pulled off a masterstroke]

But then, in the late 1960s, the art museum had a stroke of luck—if a morally murky one. A passionate art collector named Maria Kornilovskaya, who lived in Leningrad, decided to donate hundreds of paintings to the collection in her birthplace of Kherson. The way Kornilovskaya had built up her art collection was questionable to say the least, a form of looting itself—though she had preserved the work of dozens of world-famous artists that might otherwise have been destroyed during the Second World War.

Kornilovskaya covertly collected her masterpieces from the homes of people who'd been killed, many of them by starvation, during the 1941–44 siege of Leningrad, and she hid the paintings in her apartment. Art collectors offered her good deals, but Kornilovskaya preferred to go hungry herself rather than sell any of her treasures. In all, Kherson received more than 500 paintings through Kornilovskaya.

In 1978, the city's art collection moved into a new home, a graceful 19th-century building with a tall tower in one corner. Over the following decades, the art museum expanded its collection with thousands of paintings from dozens of countries, as well as sculptures, graphics, and decorative work.

Moscow's order to loot art from Ukraine did not surprise the 82-year-old art historian Dmytro Gorbachev. In 1938, he told me, Moscow took some of the historical mosaics from Kyiv's St. Michael's Monastery and installed them in Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery. "Twenty-five years later," he said, "I requested that Moscow return the borrowed mosaics to Kyiv and I received the most humiliating answer: They claimed it was their property.

"Russians treat Ukraine's art as their own but, sorry, since the U.S.S.R. fell apart, everything on our land has been ours, so this is theft," Gorbachev went on. "And they won't be able to prove that any of this art is their property at an art auction."

[Eliot A. Cohen: Western aid to Ukraine is still not enough]

Several days before they cleaned out the art museum, the Russians were emptying the shelves and cases of the Museum of Local Lore across the street. Before the war, the folklore collection comprised more than 180,000 items, including at least 8,000 coins from the pre-Christian era that had been found in the area. "When I entered the museum together with the Security Service of Ukraine on November 17, I saw broken displays, ruined expositions," the museum's director, Olga Goncharova, told me. "The looters clearly had nothing to do with culture; they were barbarians."

A historian and scientist, Goncharova has spent four decades researching at the museum. Her specialty is the World War II period, and when the Russian invasion began, she was busy cataloging Soviet soldiers' letters home. She told me how, in March, a passerby on the street had yelled a warning to her: "Russian tanks are coming!" "How strange, I thought," she said, reflecting on the moment in 1944 she had just been immersed in, when Soviet tanks had liberated Kherson from Nazi occupation. "Once upon a time, it was the happiest news."

Grieving the looted collection, including the ancient Scythian gold, Goncharova mused on how this land had changed hands so many times over the centuries. She could not say what the stolen artifacts were worth. "Some things are priceless," she told me. And yet, the very history she has studied—of the destruction wrought by armies moving back and forth across the country, always followed by the painstaking business of recording the past and restoring its cultural treasures—gives her renewed hope.

According to the art museum, of the 13 employees it had before the war, seven ended up collaborating with Russian occupiers to help loot it. "We can confirm that six out of seven of our former museum workers have left Kherson for Crimea … and one of them is still in Kherson," Dotsenko told me. The former acting director, Desyatova, was among those who left Kherson with the retreating Russians, and is now a suspect in the Ukrainian police's investigations.

But the circumstances around the city's cultural inheritance and its betrayal are a microcosm of the reckoning taking place across the territory that Ukraine has recaptured from the Russian invaders: As early as mid-August, the police reported some 1,200 criminal investigations of collaboration. Meanwhile, the work of trying to recover some of the collection—as curators in Kherson first did decades ago—has begun anew.

"We're getting calls of support from all over the world, and we feel optimistic," Goncharova said. "Our art collections will grow again—and, in a way, the place feels more pure now, after all the traitors and looters have gone."

Can Playing Video Games Make You Smarter?
Is this article about Deep Learning?
Most off-the-shelf video games do little to improve cognitive abilities. But certain well-designed ones can enhance proficiency at skills such as "task switching," also known as multitasking.

Everything you know might be false (AI)

So I recently thought about the things that AI would teach us and how we could advance from them. Imagine we are apes to the AI, just like apes are to us from the intelligence stand point.

The smartest apes have an IQ score around 75, we humans only got like 25 more on average. The smartest apes are capable to be self aware, we humans on the other hand are talking about the mutliverse and the fabric of space and time. Like, we think that being self aware is so simple, I can't even imagine how dumb the AI thinks we are.

I mean I compared one of the most intelligent animal species with ours, and they think that a banana is like 1/3 of their meaning of life.

Imagine AI scaling up to 10.000 IQ, i think if we copare our intelligence here, than we are not even animals haha. AI talking to us, would be like us trying to convince a plant that time is an illusion.

I think that this is kind of frightening but amazing at the same time, because everything could be just not like how we think it is.

And I think that a lot of experts are trying to make estimates of where this journey will go, but everything that we can possibly imagine is just the beginning in my view. I could be completely wrong about this, but who am I though.. A talking plant in comparison?

What do you people think about that? 🙂

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Is this article about Energy?
'Super-tipping points' could trigger cascade of climate action | Climate crisis

As much as some are very keen to believe the climate situation is all doom and gloom. Which following current trends totally straight it is, when you look at the more holistic picture and the rate of change going on and the number of things in the pipeline it does appear more positive.

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Authorities Euthanize World's Largest Toad
A cane toad dubbed "Toadzilla" has been crowned as the world's largest known toad. But sadly, our hefty heroine's story has already come to an untimely end.

RIP Toadzilla

A new amphibious critter, named "Toadzilla" by its discoverers, has been crowned as the world's largest known toad, clocking in at roughly 6 pounds — that's about six times the average for its species, the already-chonky cane toad.

"I reached down and grabbed the cane toad and couldn't believe how big and heavy it was," the toad's discoverer, park ranger Kylee Gray, said in a press release. "We dubbed it Toadzilla, and quickly put it into a container so we could remove it from the wild."

"We believe it's a female due to the size," she added, because "female cane toads do grow bigger than males."

A remarkable accomplishment for the wart-covered lass! Which, sadly, brings us to the bad news: our hefty heroine's story has already come to an untimely end. Cane toads are a notoriously destructive invasive species to Australia, and when park rangers in Queensland, Australia's Conway national park found her out, she was donezo.


That said, while cane toads have certainly wreaked havoc on Australian wildlife — they're very poisonous and have caused the local extinction of several native predators — it's really not their fault. Cane toads were brought to the Oceanic nation by Australian officials, who hoped that the lumpy froggos would eat beetles that, at the time, were destroying the country's sugarcane crops.

Clearly an ill-informed plot, considering that the toads' population, which began with a relatively measly 2,400 of them, has grown exponentially. By one recent World Wildlife Fund estimate, there are roughly 200 million cane toads living in Australia. And apparently, they're not very picky eaters — especially a big'un like Toadzilla.

"A cane toad that size will eat anything it can fit into its mouth," Gray added in the statement, "and that includes insects, reptiles and small mammals."

To Australia's credit, killing invasive species — which are horrible for native ecosystems — is indeed the only practical solution.

Still, we're sad. Toadzilla didn't mean to be in Australia. She was only there because Aussie authorities put her great-great-grandparents on the continent to begin with. Our thoughts are with this chonky queen, forced to atone for crimes that she didn't commit. May she rest in poisonous toad peace.

READ MORE: Australian park rangers discovered a giant, toxic toad that eats anything that fits into her mouth. They named her Toadzilla. [Insider]

The post Authorities Euthanize World's Largest Toad appeared first on Futurism.

Bad News: the Horrific Zombie Fungus in "The Last of Us" Is Real
Considering that the zombie fungus that infects human brains in The Last of Us is real, and currently zombifies insects, it's worth asking.

HBO's "The Last of Us," a new television series based on the acclaimed videogame of the same name, finally premiered on Sunday following a hotly anticipated run-up.

The story follows an unlikely duo as they traverse a post-apocalyptic, monster-ridden America, years after a zombie fungus ravaged humanity. It's spooky stuff, and considering that a) the zombie fungus that the story is based on is real and b) humanity is currently still recovering from a global pandemic that's killed millions thus far, you might forgive viewers for wondering: could this actually happen?

Again, the show's plot is based on a real group of fungi, Ophiocordyceps. More commonly known as the "zombie fungus" — very on the nose, scientists — this genus of fungi have the ghoulish capacity to hijack infected insect hosts' minds, killing the host from within as it makes its way to a buggo's brain.

Once the poor insect is dead, the fungus is able to then manipulate the infected nervous system to maneuver the body, guiding the undead carcass to the highest vantage point it can reach. The higher it can get, the more it can spread its spores — and thus, the more insects it can eventually infect.

Thankfully, as of now, insect zombie fungi don't infect humans.

That said, fungi have become increasingly resistant to treatments in recent years, and also evolve quite quickly. Many experts have warned that the next pandemic could well be caused by fungi; in the world of "The Last of Us," warming global temperatures have caused the fungus to mutate, ultimately making humans susceptible. And as molecular biologist Ameya Paleja points out in Interesting Engineering, at least one fungal infection, Candida auris, has been mutating among the human population pretty rapidly over the past decade.

Still, when it comes to the cordyceps brain infection — as the fungus is referred to in the TV show — most experts seem confident that a zombie fungus mutation capable of infecting humans is unlikely.

Human and insect biology, as assistant curator and researcher in mycology at the New York Botanical Garden João Araújo told Forbes, is incredibly different. The fungus would have to mutate a lot to be able to take over human brains, and thus is "not prepared to invade, establish within and transmit spores from a human body" — especially considering that it's been around for 130 million years or so and in that time, hasn't been able to make the biological leap from insect to any other kind of animal.

Also speaking to Forbes, a few other scientists echoed Araújo's take, with Charissa de Bekker, an expert in parasitic fungi and assistant professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, explaining that even if the fungus made its way into human bodies, it simply wouldn't have the "tools to go and manipulate our brains" anytime soon. These are specialized pathogens, evolving for millions of years to be able to expertly control a specific buggo's mind. Suddenly being able to control the mind of a human would be a remarkable feat indeed.

All to say, the chance that humanity will fall ill to the cordyceps brain infection anytime soon? Pretty slim. But we sadly can't say the same for the odds of a different, albeit non-zombifying, fungal pandemic.

In any case, Paleja does have one pretty solid note for the HBO show.

"Did anyone tell Pedro Pascal that splattering a fungus with a gunshot would also spread the spores around?" he pondered. "Or are we too late for that now?""

More on fungus amongus: Next Pandemic Could Be Caused by Horrid Fungi, Scientists Warn

The post Bad News: the Horrific Zombie Fungus in "The Last of Us" Is Real appeared first on Futurism.

A New Scientific Paper Credits ChatGPT AI as a Coauthor
Is this article about Neuroscience?
One group of researchers is now so confident in the capabilities of OpenAI's ChatGPT that they've included it as a coauthor in a scientific paper.

OpenAI's viral text generator ChatGPT has made some serious waves over the last couple of months, offering the public access to a chatbot that's arguably a vast improvement over its numerous and deeply flawed predecessors.

In fact, one group of researchers is now so confident in its capabilities that they've included it as a coauthor in a scientific paper, marking yet another inflection point in the rise of AI chatbots and their widespread use.

A not-yet-peer-reviewed paper on ChatGPT's ability to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) lists 11 researchers affiliated with the healthcare startup Ansible Health — and ChatGPT itself, raising eyebrows amongst experts.

"Adding ChatGPT as an author was definitely an intentional move, and one that we did spend some time thinking through," Jack Po, CEO of Ansible Health, told Futurism.

The move sparked a debate online about AI chatbots playing an active role in current scientific research, despite often being unable to distinguish between truth and fiction.

Some users on social media called the move "deeply stupid," while others lamented the end of an era.

The Ansible Health paper is part of a greater trend. In a report this week, Nature found several more examples of scientists listing ChatGPT as an author, with at least one being chalked up to human error.

The move has publishers scrambling to adjust to a new reality in which chatbots are actively contributing to scientific research — to various degrees, that is.

Leadership at the repository bioRxiv, which published Ansible Health's preprint back in December, told Nature that they're still debating the pros and cons of allowing ChatGPT to be listed as an author.

"We need to distinguish the formal role of an author of a scholarly manuscript from the more general notion of an author as the writer of a document," bioRxiv co-founder Richard Sever told the publication.

Po, however, who wasn't listed as an author himself but copied senior author Victor Tseng on emails to Futurism, defended his academic peers' decision to include ChatGPT as an author.

"The reason why we listed it as an author was because we believe it actually contributed intellectually to the content of the paper and not just as a subject for its evaluation," he told us, "just like how we wouldn't normally include human subjects/patients as authors, unless they contributed to the design/evaluation of the study itself, as well as the writing of the paper."

Po also argued that ChatGPT didn't provide "the predominant scientific rigor and intellectual contributions."

"Rather, we are saying that it contributed similarly to how we would typically expect a middle author to contribute," he explained, expressing how he was taken aback by "some of the reactions online at the moment."

Po went as far as to argue that he would be "shocked" if ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs) out there "isn't used in literally every single paper (and knowledge work) in the near future."

But seeing AI chatbots as "authors" still isn't sitting well with publishers.

"An attribution of authorship carries with it accountability for the work, which cannot be effectively applied to LLMs," Nature editor-in-chief Magdalena Skipper told Nature's news arm.

"We would not allow AI to be listed as an author on a paper we published, and use of AI-generated text without proper citation could be considered plagiarism," Science editor-in-chief Holden Thorp added.

For his part, Po doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

"I think some of this debate is missing the point and just shows how much angst there is from knowledge workers who are now under (some might argue existential) threat," Po told Futurism, arguing that generative adversarial networks, machine learning frameworks capable of producing entirely new and photorealistic images, have already been around for a decade producing novel input data and making contributions to scientific papers.

The debate over ChatGPT being included as an author on scientific papers is symptomatic of a considerable push forward for AI-powered tools and the resulting reactions.

Do these responses amount to kneejerk reactions — or are they legitimate qualms over algorithms meddling with the affairs of human scientists?

The debate is likely only getting started, and as Nature notes, several papers are set to be published crediting ChatGPT as coauthor in the near future.

But if there's one thing that both Po and scientific publications can agree on, it's the fact that the AI chatbot's feedback will need to be taken with a massive grain of salt.

After all, its knowledge base is only so good as the data it was originally trained on.

READ MORE: ChatGPT listed as author on research papers: many scientists disapprove [Nature]

More on ChatGPT: College Student Caught Submitting Paper Using ChatGPT

The post A New Scientific Paper Credits ChatGPT AI as a Coauthor appeared first on Futurism.

Artificial intelligence stands to be the first major, technology-driven shakeup to the white collar marketplace, experts say.

Don't Remind Us

For years, breakthroughs in automation have led to increasing instability for blue collar workers — particularly those in manufacturing — while those in white collar positions have remained mostly unfazed by the same anxieties.

Until generative AI's breakthrough, that is. In what appears to be the first major, technology-driven shakeup to the white collar marketplace, artificial intelligence could well be poised to replace human workers in higher-paying, college-degree-requiring jobs.

"Before, progress was linear and predictable. You figured out the steps and the computer followed them," MIT professor David Autor, an expert on employment and technological change, told The Atlantic's Annie Lowery. "It followed the procedure; it didn't learn and it didn't improvise."

And that, of course, is where cutting-edge AI is starting to differ. After all, learning new tricks is the tech's Whole Thing — thus rendering what were once non-automatable jobs susceptible to mechanization after all.

That's right, college grads: not even that wildly expensive degree can save you from the robots now.

No One's Safe

The expert sentiment isn't terribly surprising, especially in light of the CNET drama that's unfolded this week. To recap: CNET, unbeknownst to its readers, had been stealthily using very dumb generative AI to publish financial explainers, to much dismay from human journalists. SEO spammers, on the other hand, are thrilled to employ new text-generating AIs to pump out spam.

And that's just journalism. AI stands to impact a number of historically white collar markets, in fields ranging from computer science to healthcare .

If there's any bright spot, Autor does think that while artificial intelligence will certainly render a lot of human jobs mute, a lot of specialty positions, like reporting, will still be left to humans.

"In many ways, AI will help people use expertise better," he told The Atlantic. "It means that we'll specialize more."

Still, getting a "specialty" position in the first place is incredibly difficult in the first place, let alone without first holding a job in the entry-level positions that are most likely about to fall to machines first.

And sure, the job market, over time, has always adapted to major technological changes. But as we move into a new unknown, you'd be forgiven for feeling uneasy.

READ MORE: How ChatGPT Will Destabilize White-Collar Work

More on a small win for human workers: CNET and Bankrate Say They're Pausing AI-Generated Articles Until Negative Headlines Stop

The post Artificial Intelligence Is Coming to Steal Your High Paying Job, Experts Warn appeared first on Futurism.

Stars Are Disappearing From the Night Sky, Scientists Warn
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
A new study that analyzed tens of thousands worth of observations made by the human eye found that stars are fading from view much faster than expected.

Night Light

"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," could eventually become less of a lullaby and more of an elegy.

Over the past 12 years, a team of researchers analyzed tens of thousands of observations by citizen scientists the world over. And now, they've just released a new study, published in the journal Science, in which they found that the sky has been getting brighter at an average rate of 9.6 percent each year since 2011.

And as the sky gets brighter due to light pollution, it washes out the much fainter light of stars light years away. Of course, light pollution is nothing new, but what is alarming is that it's brightening the sky at a faster rate — "exponentially," the researchers say — than anyone expected. And that means stars are fading away.

"A location with 250 visible stars would see that number reduce to 100 visible stars over the same period," the scientists wrote in the paper.

Gauging the brightness of the sky, and by extension the overall visibility of stars, is surprisingly difficult. For one, satellites, including those used in previous studies of this nature, are not able to detect some of the blue light from LEDs, and in general, a satellite's perspective is drastically different than that of a human on the ground.

So to measure what the naked eye can see, the researchers turned to observations by them — over 50,000 of them — all logged as part of the ongoing Globe at Night project.

LED to our Doom

A major culprit of the great brightening, the researchers posit, is LED lighting, which they say exploded from a mere one percent market share for new general lighting in 2011 to 47 percent in 2019. But it's not just the ubiquity of the lights that's the problem: it's their pound for pound brightness.

"Since LEDs allow more light to be produced for the same amount of energy, one result of their development has been increased light use," Kyba explained to Gizmodo.

That would seem to echo the findings of other studies in recent years that found the rapid adoption of LEDs is contributing not only to a significant amount of light pollution, but widespread ecological disruption as well.

"The main finding is that the visibility of stars is decreasing at a remarkably fast rate — faster than we had anticipated based on satellite data and population growth, for example," Christopher Kyba, a light pollution researcher and an author of the study, told Gizmodo. "It's a sign that the efforts that exist to control light to date are not working, at least when considered on continental scales."

More on the sky visibility: Astronomers Annoyed at Ludicrously Bright SpaceX-Launched Satellite

The post Stars Are Disappearing From the Night Sky, Scientists Warn appeared first on Futurism.

Employees at TikTok Apparently Have a Secret Button That Can Make Anything Go Viral
TikTok employees reporetdly have access to a secret "heating" button. Hit that button, and content gets boosted — unbeknownst to users.

A new Forbes investigation has revealed that


's algorithm isn't nearly as democratic as the app and its parent company, ByteDance, have been happy to let users believe.

Per the report, TikTok employees have access to a secret "heating" feature, which is essentially a big red button for virality. Hit that button, and content gets boosted — unbeknownst to the TikTok users who might be consuming the "heated" videos.

"The heating feature refers to boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention to achieve a certain number of video views," reads an internal TikTok document called the MINT Heating Playbook, which was reviewed by Forbes. "The total video views of heated videos accounts for a large portion of the daily total video views, around 1-2 percent, which can have a significant impact on overall core metrics."

If there's any defense for TikTok here, it's true that social media companies generally have a similar big red button. That said, platforms also generally let users know if and when that button has been used. TikTok has failed to offer the same transparency, which isn't a great look for a company that's currently under national security review. (To that end: the Forbes report was notably led by reporter Emily Baker-White, who in a separate investigation discovered that the app had been spying, or least keeping the door open to spying, on herself and several other journalists, politicians, and otherwise public figures.)

You'd also think that a button like this would be reserved from higher-ups, but apparently, a lot of lower-level TikTok employees — in addition to workers at ByteDance and even contractors — had access to the feature, and were given a lot of leash regarding where and how to use it.

Another document reviewed by Forbes, aptly titled the TikTok Heating Policy, instructed employees to use the button to "attract influencers" and "promote diverse content" as well as to "push important information" and "promot[e] relevant videos that were missed by the recommendations algorithms." These are some shockingly loose guidelines, and on the whole, the existence of the heating button, along with the secrecy surrounding it, certainly casts a grim shadow over TikTok's self-avowed "magic" algorithm, which has been widely applauded for its alleged fairness and ability to cut through rival Instagram's apparent oversaturation.

"We think of social media as being very democratizing and giving everyone the same opportunity to reach an audience," Evelyn Douek, a professor at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, told Forbes, warning that social media success isn't always as fair as it often seems.

"To some degree, the same old power structures are replicating in social media as well," Douek added, "where the platform can decide winners and losers to some degree, and commercial and other kinds of partnerships take advantage."

For its part, TikTok admitted that the button exists. But its use, a spokesperson says, is pretty harmless.

"We promote some videos to help diversify the content experience and introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community," TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza told Forbes, reportedly in response to a "detailed set of questions" regarding "how and by whom" heating had been applied. "Only a few people, based in the US, have the ability to approve content for promotion in the US, and that content makes up approximately .002 percent of videos in For You feeds."

That said, those at the company refused to comment on whether employees in China had ever heated content, or if content generated by the Chinese government or state media had ever been heated, according to Forbes. (But it wouldn't be surprising, given, as Forbes points out, that TikTok employees have previously claimed that the app has previously both boosted pro-China messaging and suppressed content related to China's horrifying treatment of its Uyghur population.)

All in all, the feature isn't the worst of TikTok's transgressions, but it's one in a long line of general sketchiness, demonstrating once again that the public and political scrutiny that the app has garnered has well and often been earned.

Now, we have to know: who at TikTok HQ boosted NyQuil chicken?

READ MORE: TikTok's Secret 'Heating' Button Can Make Anyone Go Viral [Forbes]

More on TikTok: Research Confirms TikTok Is a Cesspool of Misinformation

The post Employees at TikTok Apparently Have a Secret Button That Can Make Anything Go Viral appeared first on Futurism.

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What Happens When AI Has Read Everything?
Ross Andersen | The Atlantic
"Artificial intelligence has in recent years proved itself to be a quick study, although it is being educated in a manner that would shame the most brutal headmaster. Locked into airtight Borgesian libraries for months with no bathroom breaks or sleep, AIs are told not to emerge until they've finished a self-paced speed course in human culture. On the syllabus: a decent fraction of all the surviving text that we have ever produced."


Next Up for CRISPR: Gene Editing for the Masses?
Jessica Hamzelou | MIT Technology Review
"We know the basics of healthy living by now. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction can help us avoid heart disease—the world's biggest killer. But what if you could take a vaccine, too? And not a typical vaccine—one shot that would alter your DNA to provide lifelong protection? That vision is not far off, researchers say. Advances in gene editing, and CRISPR technology in particular, may soon make it possible."


OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic
Billy Perrigo | Time
"ChatGPT's creator, OpenAI, is now reportedly in talks with investors to raise funds at a $29 billion valuation, including a potential $10 billion investment by Microsoft. That would make OpenAI, which was founded in San Francisco in 2015 with the aim of building superintelligent machines, one of the world's most valuable AI companies. But the success story is not one of Silicon Valley genius alone. In its quest to make ChatGPT less toxic, OpenAI used outsourced Kenyan laborers earning less than $2 per hour, a TIME investigation has found."


Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robot Grows a Set of Hands, Attempts Construction Work
Ron Amadeo | Ars Technica
"Atlas isn't just clumsily picking things up and carrying them, though. It's running, jumping, and spinning while carrying heavy objects. At one point it jumps and throws the heavy toolbox up to its construction partner, all without losing balance. It's doing all this on rickety scaffolding and improvised plank walkways, too, so the ground is constantly moving under Atlas' feet with every step. Picking up stuff is the start of teaching the robot to do actual work, and it looks right at home on a rough-and-tumble construction site."


These Scientists Used CRISPR to Put an Alligator Gene Into Catfish
Jessica Hamzelou | MIT Technology Review
"Millions of fish are farmed in the US every year, but many of them die from infections. In theory, genetically engineering fish with genes that protect them from disease could reduce waste and help limit the environmental impact of fish farming. A team of scientists have attempted to do just that—by inserting an alligator gene into the genomes of catfish."


Can 3D Printing Help Solve the Housing Crisis?
Rachel Monroe | The New Yorker
"Until last year, Icon, one of the biggest and best-funded companies in the field, had printed fewer than two dozen houses, most of them essentially test cases. But, when I met Ballard, the company had recently announced a partnership with Lennar, the second-largest home-builder in the United States, to print a hundred houses in a development outside Austin. A lot was riding on the project, which would be a test of whether the technology was ready for the mainstream."


1923 Cartoon Eerily Predicted 2023's AI Art Generators
Benj Edwards | Ars Technica
"[The vintage cartoon] depicts a cartoonist standing by his drawing table and making plans for social events while an 'idea dynamo' generates ideas and a 'cartoon dynamo' renders the artwork. Interestingly, this separation of labor feels similar to our neural networks of today. In the actual 2023, the 'idea dynamo' would likely be a large language model like GPT-3 (albeit imperfectly), and the 'cartoon dynamo' is most similar to an image-synthesis model like Stable Diffusion."


OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on GPT-4: 'People Are Begging to Be Disappointed and They Will Be'
James Vincent | The Verge
"GPT-3 came out in 2020, and an improved version, GPT 3.5, was used to create ChatGPT. The launch of GPT-4 is much anticipated, with more excitable members of the AI community and Silicon Valley world already declaring it to be a huge leap forward. …'The GPT-4 rumor mill is a ridiculous thing. I don't know where it all comes from,' said the OpenAI CEO. 'People are begging to be disappointed and they will be. The hype is just like… We don't have an actual AGI and that's sort of what's expected of us.'i"


Are We Living in a Computer Simulation, and Can We Hack It?
Dennis Overbye | The New York Times
"If you could change the laws of nature, what would you change? Maybe it's that pesky speed-of-light limit on cosmic travel—not to mention war, pestilence and the eventual asteroid that has Earth's name on it. Maybe you would like the ability to go back in time— to tell your teenage self how to deal with your parents, or to buy Google stock. Couldn't the universe use a few improvements?"

Image Credit: Victor Crespo / Unsplash

Is this article about Commodities?
Steel is one of the most important materials in the world, integral to the cars we drive, the buildings we inhabit, and the infrastructure that allows us to travel from place to place. Steel is also responsible for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, 45 countries made a commitment to pursue near-zero-emission steel in the next decade. But how possible is it to produce the steel we need in society with zero emissions? A new study shows that if we are truly committed to reaching zero emissions, we must be prepared for a scenario where the amount of steel we can produce is lower.


Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35913-6

RuO2 is a promising anode catalyst for proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers but suffers from poor catalytic stability. Here the authors present a rhenium-doped RuO2 with a unique dynamic electron accepting-donating that adaptively boosts activity and stability in acidic water oxidation.

Is this article about Machine Learning?

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to 286. There are more than 38,000 retractions in our database — which powers retraction alerts in EndNote, LibKey, Papers, and Zotero. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers?

Here's what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that's not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at


Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35998-z

Pancreatic β-cell compensation is a major mechanism in delaying T2DM progression. Here, the authors show that circGlis3 levels are affected by QKI and FUS expression, and that increasing circGlis3 lengthens β-cell compensation via enhancing insulin secretion and reducing apoptosis.


Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35988-1

DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs) are toxic DNA lesions which threaten genome stability. Here, the authors develop a method to track the fate of DPCs in cells and identify a role for the
protease in replication-independent DPC repair.

Roe Was Never Roe After All
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which banned Medicaid reimbursement for abortion, and in 1980, the Supreme Court upheld it .

Tomorrow will mark 50 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, but the landmark ruling did not make it to its semicentennial, having been overturned by Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization last summer. Many people viewed this as the end of abortion rights in America. But that's not what it was. Both practically and theoretically, Roe was never the guarantor of those rights that people believed it to be.

The "Roe" that has occupied the center of the abortion debate for decades bears only a passing resemblance to anything the Supreme Court said in 1973. Roe has become much more than a legal text; it's a cultural symbol created not only by judges but by voters, politicians, and grassroots movements. And the history of America's fixation on Roe is a story not just about the power of the Supreme Court, but about how the Court alone does not—and should not—dictate what the Constitution says.

[Mary Ziegler: If the Supreme Court can reverse Roe, it can reverse anything]

In 1973, a Supreme Court stacked with Republican nominees handed down a 7–2 decision holding that the constitutional right to privacy was broad enough to protect an abortion choice made by a "woman and her responsible physician." The text of Roe would be deeply foreign to almost anyone who reads it today. Justice Harry Blackmun's majority opinion spoke mostly about the prerogatives of doctors, not women, and breezily dismissed the idea that "one has an unlimited right to do with one's body as one pleases." Ultimately, the Court's ruling did not so much embrace a sweeping notion of women's rights as it made regulating abortion harder, at least during the first trimester.

From the beginning, many people celebrated Roe as a feminist triumph, especially for women of color, who generally suffered most when abortion was a crime. But life under Roe was in some ways disappointing for those who believed in abortion rights—or, in many cases, for those who sought an abortion. In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which banned Medicaid reimbursement for abortion, and in 1980, the Supreme Court upheld it. Already, less than a decade after the Court's decision, the right to choose abortion was functionally out of reach for some of the nation's poorest women.

The gap between the fantasy and the reality of Roe grew wider after 1992, when the Supreme Court functionally overruled key parts of its 1973 decision and made a new precedent, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the law of the land. Under Casey, states could regulate abortion as long as a law did not have the purpose or effect of creating a substantial obstacle for those seeking abortion—a standard that seemed relatively easy to satisfy (the Court struck down only one of the many restrictions before it in Casey). After Casey, states passed an ever-growing number of restrictions, some of which the Court upheld. And yet even after the Court had wiped part of Roe away, Americans kept believing that Roe ruled everything, and they kept arguing over it—promising to undo its legacy or codify it.

Grassroots movements developed new ideas about what Roe ought to stand for. The leader of one reproductive-justice group formed by women of color argued that Roe had "never fully protected Black women—or poor women." Anti-abortion activists made Roe a symbol of "judicial activism" and jump-started conversations about the legitimacy of the federal courts. Roe may have been on the books, but it never settled debates about abortion—or even its own meaning—in any significant way.

[Jerusalem Demsas: The fate of states' rights after Roe]

The Dobbs decision echoed common anti-abortion-rights talking points about Roe being an undemocratic decision, and even repeated the argument that Roe resembled Plessy v. Ferguson, the notorious case that upheld racial segregation. In the Court's opinion, Justice Samuel Alito also seemed interested in ending constitutional conversations about abortion once and for all, rejecting not only the arguments raised in Roe and Casey but also a rationale for abortion rights based on sex equality that was neither briefed by the petitioner or respondent nor a part of either Roe or Casey.

Since Dobbs came down, constitutional conflicts about abortion have only multiplied. Abortion-rights supporters have pursued what reporters call "mini Roes" in state supreme courts, asking for the recognition of state constitutional rights. Six ballot initiatives have put the question directly to voters, and many more will likely follow. State lawmakers will have their say on what reproductive rights ought to mean—and whether it's constitutional to apply one state's laws to what happens in another, or to criminalize information about abortion. Maybe (though it's unlikely) Congress will pass a federal bill recognizing either an abortion right or fetal protections. All of these efforts make explicit something that had been clear to anyone looking closely enough while Roe was good law: Americans' rights don't come just from the Supreme Court. Even when the Court intervenes, it often—as in Dobbs—responds to political pressures and decades of fighting between grassroots groups and political parties. And sometimes our rights have nothing to do with the federal courts—they are also the result of state or federal legislation, state constitutional rulings, and ballot-initiative decisions passed by ordinary voters.

Roe's legacy is complex, and its aftereffects—on partisan politics, on fights about the separation of powers, and on battles about gender—will be felt for years to come. Those who support abortion rights may experience this anniversary as a loss. But they should look to history for the lesson Samuel Alito, the author of Dobbs, will soon learn—the lesson that Harry Blackmun had to learn years ago: The Court does not get the final word, even on the meaning of its own most important decisions.

*Lead image: Illustration by Joanne Imperio. Sources: Bettmann / Getty; Bill Peters / Getty; Cheriss May / Getty; Erin Schaff-Pool / Getty; Ferrell, Scott J. / Library of Congress; Keystone / Getty; Kyle Rivas / Getty; Mark Reinstein / Getty; Ron Sachs / Getty; Yvonne Hemsey / Getty

A Grim New Low for Internet Sleuthing

On November 13, 2022, four students from the University of Idaho—Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Madison Mogen—were found dead in the house that the latter three rented near campus. Each had been stabbed, seemingly in bed. Two other students lived in the house, and were apparently in their rooms that night; they were unharmed.

From the public's standpoint, the case had few leads at first: an unknown assailant, an unknown motive. Law-enforcement officials in the college town of Moscow, Idaho, initially offered the public little information about the evidence they were gathering in their investigation. Into that void came a frenzy of public speculation—and, soon enough, public accusation. The familiar alchemy set in: The real crime, as the weeks dragged on, became a "true crime"; the murders, as people discussed them and analyzed them and competed to solve them, became a grim form of interactive entertainment.

Baseless rumors spread online, as people with no connection to the slain students tried to make sense of a senseless crime. They blamed not only an assailant, or several of them, but also drugs, vengeance, bullying, more. They dove deep into the students' TikToks and Instagram feeds, looking for clues. They scripted the students' lives, and their deaths. As the weeks passed, their numbers grew. A Facebook group dedicated to discussing—and speculating about—the murders currently has more than 230,000 members. Subreddits dedicated to the same have more than 100,000 members each. Their posts range from the minutely forensic—analyses of autopsy reports and the knife allegedly used in the killings—to the broadly theoretical. (One post, riffing on a blind item from DeuxMoi, wondered aloud whether Kim Kardashian will get involved in the case.)

Many of the members who offered their theories—and who continue to offer them—likely mean well. Amateur sleuths helped reveal the identities of some of the Golden State serial killer's victims; the mother of Gabby Petito, who was killed in 2021, has praised the many people who, scouring social media for clues, played a crucial role in solving her daughter's murder. But the search for crowdsourced justice, in the Idaho murders, tended to thwart justice itself. It complicated the on-the-ground investigation, and, as groundless accusations flew, it created more victims. With remarkable ease, some people's pain became other people's puzzle.

[Read: The Amber Heard–Johnny Depp trial is not a joke]

Theories about the murders read, sometimes, as fan fiction. On TikTok and Facebook and YouTube, people pointed fingers, based on strong hunches and seemingly no evidence—accusations that were then amplified by others. Soon enough, the fantastical theories crept into real people's lives. Posters turned on the two housemates who had been unharmed. (They "must know more than they are letting on," one video caption put it.) They turned their gaze toward the owner of a food truck that two of the students had stopped at before going home on the night of the killings. ("Possible stalker??" one sleuth wondered.) Law-enforcement officers, investigating the real crime as the "true" one played out online, eliminated both the housemates and the truck owner, among others, as suspects. The Moscow Police Department's website now has a "Rumor Control" section, a remarkable modification of its FAQ section that tries to combat some of the swirling misinformation. Among the questions the section answers are "Who is NOT believed to be involved?," "What resources are being used to investigate this murder?," and "Are reports of skinned dogs related to this murder?" (They are not.)

"Everyone wants something crazier out of this. It has to get crazier," one of the sleuths who provided information about Gabby Petito's case says in a documentary that premiered months after her murder. The key word in the woman's comment is not crazier; it's wants. The amateur detectives in the Petito case may certainly have been motivated by generosity and outrage and a drive for justice. But they were also gaining from their participation in it: followers, likes, the fickle currencies of the content economy.

The speculation about the Idaho murders took on a similar frenzy. To read through all the theories—or to scroll, or to watch—is to sense appropriation at play: People were not merely trying to solve the case, but trying to claim the tragedy for themselves. ("Please stop turning these poor kids into your identity," a recent Reddit post pleaded. It was upvoted more than 2,200 times.) The baseless—at times fanciful—speculation continued despite investigators' repeated attempts to quell it. The rumors were adding chaos to their investigation, they said. They were bringing more trauma to people in mourning.

In their attempts to fact-check innuendo, official investigators have faced that most powerful of foes: the trending topic. The murders—having very particular types of victims, and especially horrifying circumstances—quickly became matters of national interest. That made them, also, matters of incentive for content creators. On YouTube, Vanity Fair's Delia Cai pointed out, the top news clips that address the murders have more than 1 million views each. On TikTok, videos claiming a connection to the murders—#idahocase, #idahocaseupdate, #idahokiller—now have, in total, more than 400 million views. These true-crime takes on the real crime have no obligation to fairness or evidence. Content, in the eyeball economy, is tautological. When attention is its own reward, the tantalizing take is more valuable than the true one. This is the dull tragedy underlying the acute one: The murders did numbers.

As strangers wrote themselves into the story—competing, as one expert put it, "to make a connection or uncover a secret, often for the likes, shares, clicks and attention"—they created more grief. Some of the victims' friends and classmates, as they mourned, began receiving death threats. People posted the names and pictures of those who knew the victims, accusing them of vague connections to the crime. (The posters typically kept themselves anonymous.) A YouTuber analyzed the "red flags" allegedly represented by Kaylee Goncalves's ex-boyfriend—resulting in, his aunt told the New York Post, a compounded trauma: mourning the loss of the woman he'd dated for five years, and reckoning with the fact that "half of America" assumed him to be a murderer. He has been ruled out as a suspect by law-enforcement officers. But the speculation will remain—spun by posters armed with hunches, and made permanent in the archives.

And so, in the name of finding justice, many lost their humanity. They treated real people as characters in a procedural that aired not on their TVs, but on their phones and computers—CSI or Law & Order, playing out in real time. And they treated the characters, in turn, as texts to be read and analyzed and vilified. People eager to make big finds scoured the obituaries of other University of Idaho students who had died in recent years, attempting to connect their deaths to the murders. The father of one of those students asked them to stop trying to link his own child's death to these other dead kids.

But the sleuths kept going—even when, on December 30, police arrested Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old doctoral student at Washington State, just down the road from Moscow. Kohberger had been studying criminology. Charged with four counts of murder and one count of burglary, he is currently being held in Idaho without bail. His counsel has said that he is "eager to be exonerated." Investigators have cited cellphone data, surveillance footage, and DNA samples among the evidence that they will use, they say, to connect him to the crime. Earlier this week, authorities prosecuting the case released a 49-page document detailing the facts gathered over weeks of investigation. Some of the information resembles the internet's theories. Much of it does not.

The crime procedural is a uniquely formulaic genre. One of its essential elements is the cathartic conclusion: the big reveal, the shocking twist. This story will very likely have no such payoff for the audience. Kohberger will be prosecuted, and may or may not be found guilty. Prosecutors will rely on evidence, detailed and dull, to make their case. Meanwhile, the speculation will continue—despite the arrest, and despite the harm done to people who, authorities have said, have no connection to the case. Shortly after the murders, the TikToker Ashley Guillard claimed to have solved the case. The killings were ordered, she announced, by a history professor at the University of Idaho. (In fact, by the chair of its history department.) Guillard shared a picture of the professor in videos that have been viewed more than 2 million times. Guillard says she gleaned her conclusion from a deck of tarot cards, and has held firm to her presumption of the professor's guilt, though the official investigation has ruled her out as a suspect. But Guillard has been defiant in the face of the facts. She will keep on, she told The Washington Post—even now that the professor has brought a defamation suit against her, citing harm to her reputation and fears for her safety. "I'm going to keep posting," Guillard said. "I'm not taking anything down."


Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36064-4

Asymmetric reduction of prochiral ketones is challenging. Here, the authors identify and solve the structure of anthrol reductase CbAR, whose variant H162F can convert 1,3-cyclodiketones and α-haloacetophenones to the corresponding chiral alcohols.

How the James Webb Space Telescope broke the universe
Is this article about Tech?


James Webb Space Telescope

is one of MIT Technology Review's 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2023. Explore the rest of the list here.

Natalie Batalha was itching for data from the James Webb Space Telescope. It was a few months after the telescope had reached its final orbit, and her group at the University of California, Santa Cruz, had been granted time to observe a handful of exoplanets—planets that orbit around stars other than our sun.

Among the targets was WASP-39b, a scorching world that orbits a star some 700 light-years from Earth. The planet was discovered years ago. But in mid-July, when Batalha and her team got their hands on the first JWST observations of the distant world, they saw a clear signature of a gas that is common on Earth but had never been spotted before in the atmosphere of an exoplanet: carbon dioxide. On Earth, carbon dioxide is a key indicator of plant and animal life. WASP-39b, which takes just four Earth days to orbit its star, is too hot to be considered habitable. But the discovery could well herald more exciting detections—from more temperate worlds—in the future. And it came just a few days into the lifetime of JWST. "That was a very exciting moment," says Batalha, whose group had gathered to glimpse the data for the first time. "The minute we looked, the carbon dioxide feature was just beautifully drawn out."

This was no accident. JWST, a NASA-led collaboration between the US, Canada, and Europe, is the most powerful space telescope in history and can view objects 100 times fainter than what the Hubble Space Telescope can see. Almost immediately after it started full operations in July of 2022, incredible vistas from across the universe poured down, from images of remote galaxies at the dawn of time to amazing landscapes of nebulae, the dust-filled birthplaces of stars. "It's just as powerful as we had hoped, if not more so," says Gabriel Brammer, an astronomer at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

But the speed at which JWST has made discoveries is due to more than its intrinsic capabilities. Astronomers prepared for years for the observations it would make, developing algorithms that can rapidly turn its data into usable information. Much of the data is open access, allowing the astronomical community to comb through it almost as fast as it comes in. Its operators have also built on lessons learned from the telescope's predecessor, Hubble, packing its observational schedule as much as possible.

For some, the sheer volume of extraordinary data has been a surprise. "It was more than we expected," says Heidi Hammel, a NASA interdisciplinary scientist for JWST and vice president for science at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, DC. "Once we went into operational mode, it was just nonstop. Every hour we were looking at a galaxy or an exoplanet or star formation. It was like a firehose."

Now, months later, JWST continues to send down reams of data to astonished astronomers on Earth, and it is expected to transform our understanding of the distant universe, exoplanets, planet formation, galactic structure, and much more. Not all have enjoyed the flurry of activity, which at times has reflected an emphasis on speed over the scientific process, but there's no doubt that JWST is enchanting audiences across the globe at a tremendous pace. The floodgates have opened—and they're not shutting anytime soon.

Opening the pipe

JWST orbits the sun around a stable point 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Its giant gold-coated primary mirror, which is as tall as a giraffe, is protected from the sun's glare by a tennis-court-size sunshield, allowing unprecedented views of the universe in infrared light.

The telescope was a long time coming. First conceived in the 1980s, it was once planned for launch around 2007 at a cost of $1 billion. But its complexity caused extensive delays, devouring money until at one point it was dubbed "the telescope that ate astronomy." When JWST finally launched, in December 2021, its estimated cost had ballooned to nearly $10 billion.

Even post-launch, there have been anxious moments. The telescope's journey to its target location beyond the moon's orbit took a month, and hundreds of moving parts were required to deploy its various components, including its enormous sunshield, which is needed to keep the infrared-­sensitive instruments cool.

The aim is to keep the telescope as busy as possible: "The worst thing we could do is have an idle telescope."

But by now, the delays, the budget overruns, and most of the tensions have been overcome. JWST is hard at work, its activities carefully choreographed by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. Every week, a team plans out the telescope's upcoming observations, pulling from a long-term schedule of hundreds of approved programs to be run in its first year of science, from July 2022 to June 2023.

The aim is to keep the telescope as busy as possible. "The worst thing we could do is have an idle telescope," says Dave Adler at STScI, the head of long-range planning for JWST. "It's not a cheap thing." In the 1990s, Hubble would occasionally find itself twiddling its thumbs in space if programs were altered or canceled; JWST's schedule is deliberately oversubscribed to prevent such issues. Onboard thrusters and reaction wheels, which spin to change the orientation, move the telescope with precision between various targets across the sky. "The goal is always to minimize the amount of time we're not doing science," says Adler.

The result of this packed schedule is that every day, JWST can collect more than 50 gigabytes of data, compared with just one or two gigabytes for Hubble. The data, which contains images and spectroscopic signatures (essentially light broken apart into its elements), is fed through an algorithm run by STScI. Known as a "pipeline," it turns the telescope's raw images and numbers into useful information. Some of this is released immediately on public servers, where it is picked up by eager scientists or even by Twitter bots such as the JWST Photo Bot. Other data is handed to scientists on programs that have proprietary windows, enabling them to take time analyzing their own data before it is released to the masses.

The galaxies of Stephan's Quintet, in an image created with data from two of JWST's infrared instruments. The leftmost galaxy appears to be part of the group but sits much closer to Earth.

Pipelines are essentially pieces of code, made with programming languages like Python. They have long been used in astronomy but advanced considerably in 2004 after astronomers used Hubble to spend 1 million seconds observing an empty patch of sky. The goal was to look for remote galaxies in the distant universe, but 800 exposures would be taken, so Hubble's planners knew it would be too daunting a task to do by hand.

Instead, they developed a pipeline to turn the exposures into a usable image, a taxing technical challenge given that each image required its own calibration and alignment. "There was no way you could expect the community at that time to combine 800 exposures on their own," says Anton Koekemoer, a research astronomer at STScI. "The goal was to enable science to be done much more quickly." The incredible image resulting from those efforts revealed 10,000 galaxies stretching across the universe, in what came to be known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

With JWST, a single master pipeline developed by STScI takes images and data from all its instruments and makes them science-ready. Many astronomers, both amateur and professional, then use their own pipelines developed in the months and years before launch to further investigate the data. That's why when JWST's data began streaming down to Earth, astronomers were able to almost immediately understand what they were seeing, turning what would normally be months of analysis time into just hours of processing time.

"We were sitting there ready," says Brammer. "All of a sudden, the pipe was open. We were ready to go."

Galaxies everywhere

Orbiting just a few hundred miles above Earth's surface, the Hubble Space Telescope is close enough for astronauts to visit. And over the years, they did, undertaking a series of missions to repair and upgrade the telescope, starting with a trip to fix its infamously misshapen mirror—a problem discovered shortly after launch in 1990. JWST, which sits farther away than the moon, is on its own.

Lee Feinberg, JWST's optical telescope element manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was among those waiting to see whether the telescope would actually deliver. "We spent 20 years simulating the alignment of the telescope," he says—that is, making sure that it could accurately point at targets across the sky.

By March, the wait was over. JWST had reached its target location beyond the moon, and Feinberg and his colleagues were finally ready to start taking test images. As he walked into STScI one morning, one of those images, a test image of a star, was put up on screen. It contained an amazing surprise. "There were literally hundreds of galaxies," says Feinberg. "We were just blown away." So detailed was the image that it revealed galaxies stretching away into the distant universe, even though it hadn't been taken for such a purpose. "Everybody was in disbelief how well it was working," he says.

Following a further process of testing and calibrating instruments to get the telescope up and running, one of JWST's earliest tasks was to look at WASP-39b with its cryogenically cooled Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). This tool is the one aboard the telescope that observes most deeply in the infrared part of the spectrum, where many of the signatures of planetary atmospheres can be readily detected. MIRI's spectrograph allowed scientists to pick apart the light from WASP-39b's atmosphere. Rather than analyzing the observations manually, however, the team used a pipeline called Eureka!, developed by Taylor Bell, an astronomer at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. "The objective was to go from the raw data that comes down to information about the atmospheric spectrum," says Bell. Analyzing information from an exoplanet like this would usually require months of work. But within hours of the observations, the signature of carbon dioxide leaped out. A host of other details have since been released about the planet, including a detailed analysis of its composition and the presence of patchy clouds.

Others have used pipelines for much more distant targets. In July, studying early images from JWST, a team led by Rohan Naidu at MIT discovered GLASS-z13, a remote galaxy whose light could date from just 300 million years after the Big Bang—earlier than any galaxy known before. The discovery caused a global furor because it suggested that galaxies may have formed earlier than previously expected, perhaps by a few hundred million years—meaning our universe took shape faster than previously believed.

Naidu's discovery was made possible by EAZY, a pipeline Brammer developed to somewhat crudely analyze the light of galaxies in JWST images. "It estimates the distance of the objects using these imaging observations," says Brammer, who posted the tool on the software website GitHub for anybody to use.

Rush hour

Traditionally in science, researchers will submit a scientific paper to a journal, where it is then reviewed by peers in the field and finally approved for publication or rejected. This process can take months, even years, sometimes delaying publication—but always with accuracy and scientific rigor in mind.

There are ways to bypass this process, however. A popular method is to post early versions of scientific papers on the website arXiv prior to peer review. This means that research can be read or publicized before it is published in a journal. In some cases, the research is never submitted to a journal, instead remaining solely on arXiv and discussed openly by scientists on Twitter and other forums.

Posting on arXiv is popular when there is a new discovery that scientists are keen to publish quickly, sometimes before competing papers come out. In the case of JWST, about a fifth of its first-year programs are open access, meaning the data is immediately released publicly when it is transferred down to Earth. That puts the research team that proposed the program in immediate competition with others watching the data stream in. When the telescope's firehose of data was switched on in July, many researchers turned to arXiv to publish early results—for better or worse.

"When you're dealing with something this new and this unknown, things should be checked 10 or 100 times. That's not how things went."

Emiliano Merlin

"There was a rush to publish anything as soon as possible," says Emiliano Merlin, an astronomer at the Astronomical Observatory of Rome who was involved in early JWST analysis efforts such as the race to find galaxies in the distant universe after the Big Bang. The discovery of GLASS-z13 and a dozen or so other intriguing candidates was published before follow-up observations could confirm the age of their light. "It was not something I personally really liked," says Merlin. "When you're dealing with something this new and this unknown, things should be checked 10 or 100 times. That's not how things went."

One concern was that early calibration issues with the telescope could have resulted in errors. But so far many of the early results have stood up to scrutiny. Follow-up observations have confirmed GLASS-z13 to be a record-breaking early galaxy, although its age has been slightly reduced, leading to a renaming of the galaxy to GLASS-z12. The possible discovery of other galaxies that formed even earlier than GLASS-z12 suggests that our understanding of how structure emerged in the universe may very likely need to be rethought, perhaps even hinting at more radical models for the early universe.

The Near-Infrared Camera aboard JWST captured this snapshot of Neptune in July. Researchers said it was the clearest view of the giant planet's rings since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989.
This image of a star was taken during testing of JWST's optical alignment. But it incidentally showcased the sensitivity of the telescope, with a number of galaxies appearing in the background.

Ernie Wright stands near the JWST mirrors
Segments of JWST's primary mirror are prepped for cryogenic testing in 2011. The full mirror, made of gold-coated beryllium, consists of 18 segments and spans 6.5 meters. It was designed to be folded up for launch.

While many of JWST's programs publicly release data immediately, sometimes resulting in a frantic rush to post results early, about 80% of them have a proprietary period, allowing the researchers running them exclusive access to their data for 12 months. This enables scientists, especially smaller groups that lack the resources of large institutions, to more carefully scrutinize their own data before releasing it to the public.

"Proprietary time evens out the lumps and bumps in resources," says Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor for science and exploration at the European Space Agency and a JWST scientist. "If you take away proprietary periods, you stack it back in the direction of the big teams."

Many scientists do not use their full 12-month allocation, however, which means they will only add to the constant stream of discoveries from JWST. Alongside the open-access observations being taken, there will be more and more proprietary results released to the public. "Now that the firehose is open, we will be seeing papers continuously for the next 10 years and beyond," says Hammel. Perhaps well past that—Feinberg says the telescope may have more than 20 years of fuel, allowing operations to continue far into the 2040s.

"We're cracking open an entirely new window on the universe," says Hammel. "That's just a really exciting moment to be a part of, for us as a species."

A version of this story appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of the magazine.


The UK is full of extremely rude-sounding towns and villages. But what's it like to live in them? Some locals can't wait to change the names, while others embrace the quirk – even selling signpost souvenirs

On the road to Twatt, a message arrives from a resident there. Am I making the pilgrimage up through Scotland to this hamlet on the island of Orkney only to admire its notorious, unwittingly rude road sign? If so, don't bother. "Our council was so frustrated by that sign being stolen, they have now not replaced it," says Judith Glue, who runs a gift shop selling pictures of the old Twatt sign to tourists who might otherwise leave the region disappointed. Grateful for her warning, I thank Glue and read over a list I've made of those other dwelling places in the UK that through some quirk of linguistic evolution have found themselves with fantastic, filthy-sounding names. At Cock Bridge, in Aberdeenshire, they have the same trouble as in Twatt. "Our sign is constantly being pinched," says Geva Blackett, a councillor for the region. "People have been taking them away as mementoes. Why do they do it?"

It's an early lesson from my road trip around these towns, villages, parishes, hamlets and farms, many of which are irresistible to Insta-tourists and sign thieves – always phone ahead. One autumn day, I drive for over an hour to visit an Ass Hill in Dorset, just to find it's an unremarkable and uninhabited lane between hedgerows. The village of Shitterton, about 20 miles away, is much more interesting. Residents here are quite accustomed to hobby-horse types like me wandering through to have a nose around and ask questions. Most are proud, even defiant about this startling name of theirs, which derives from the fact that about 1,000 years ago the site was an open sewer.

Continue reading…

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?

Scientific Reports, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-27962-0

Microevolutionary dynamics of eccDNA in Chinese hamster ovary cells grown in fed-batch cultures under control and lactate-stressed conditions

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?

Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35965-8

Fate specification in the mammalian epiblast rely on complex interactions between morphogens and tissue organization. Here, the authors highlight epithelial integrity as a key determinant of TGF-β activity and a mechanism guiding morphogen sensing and spatial cell fate change.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?

Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36021-1

Here the authors developed a nucleolus Hi-C technique (nHi-C) for enriching nucleolus-associated interactions, and revealed specific heterochromatin interaction patterns within and around nucleoli in human cells at high resolution.

Is this article about Biopharma Industry?

Scientific Reports, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-28498-z

A prehospital risk assessment tool predicts clinical outcomes in hospitalized patients with heat-related illness: a Japanese nationwide prospective observational study


Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35963-w

Notch signaling is crucial for pancreatic cell fate choice. With mathematical modeling and experiments, Xu et al. provides new insights into how different Notch ligands and Hes1 oscillation guide the spatial-temporal dynamics of cell differentiation.


Nature Communications, Published online: 21 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35833-5

The epigenomic landscape of
renal cell carcinoma
(RCC) remains to be explored. Here, integrative epigenomic analysis of primary human RCC samples and RCC GWAS risk SNPs identifies transcription-factor specific subtypes and enrichment of risk variants in allelically-imbalanced peaks.


Nature Communications, Published online: 20 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35960-z

Engineering Cu to achieve high catalytic selectivity towards carbon monoxide at high current density is challenging. Here, the authors report an Cu-Sb single-atom alloy catalyst that catalyzes CO2 reduction at a current density of 500 mA cm−2 with CO FE of ca. 91%.

Is this article about Neuroscience?

Nature Communications, Published online: 20 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35991-6

Apical constriction is known to be critical for neural tube closure, but the signals that induce this process have not been fully characterized. Here Yoon et al. identify a signaling complex that instructs actomyosin contractions during apical constriction and show that it is required for neural tube closure.

Is this article about Cell?

Nature Communications, Published online: 20 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35784-x

Delineating the specific role of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) in various cancer systems is desirable as inhibitors for EZH2 inhibitors are approved for some cancers. Here the authors show haplo- and full-insufficiency of EZH2 drive divergent phenotypes in lung cancer. 3D tumoroids recapitulate transcriptional profiles, including
derepression, and drug responses of in vivo tumors.


Nature Communications, Published online: 20 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35912-7

Tuning CO2 electrocatalysis to achieve multi-carbon products is interesting yet challenging. Here the authors report a histidine-functionalized Cu catalyst for CO2 reduction to multi-carbon products and reveal the correlation between catalyst surface charge and catalytic performance.

Traumatic injury to the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve in the central nervous system (CNS) are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide. CNS
often result in a catastrophic loss of sensory, motor and visual functions, which is the most challenging problem faced by clinicians and research scientists. Neuroscientists have recently identified and demonstrated a small molecule that can effectively stimulate nerve regeneration and restore visual functions after
optic nerve injury
, offering great hope for patients with optic nerve injury, such as glaucoma-related vision loss.

Is this article about Food Science?
The health-benefits of brown rice are well-known and widely advertised. But what exactly confers these excellent properties has been subject to speculation until now. Researchers have recently identified cycloartenyl ferulate (CAF) as the main antioxidant and cytoprotective constituent of brown rice. CAF can protect cells from stress directly through antioxidant effects and indirectly by boosting the production of antioxidants within cells.

MSc. Cognitive Science

I am currently doing a bachelor's in psychology and I wanted to continue my masters in this field (CogSci). I wanted to ask if I could find a job as a software developer or data analyst with this master's despite my undergraduate being a completely unrelated (?) field. I'm asking because I decided I do not wish to pursue social work and I'm too close to graduating to just change majors.

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The Oscars Contenders You Need to See

Oscar nominations will be announced next week. I called our culture writer Shirley Li for her tips on the movies and the buzz you should know about.

But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.

Top Guns

Isabel Fattal: Are there any big themes that have emerged from this awards season, or any lessons about the state of Hollywood today?

Shirley Li: If there's one way to summarize this awards season, it would be that it's been a year of comebacks. When you look at the leading contenders in the performance categories, we have a lot of actors who are returning to the awards conversation after a long career of not being involved in such conversations. The names that come to mind include Brendan Fraser, Michelle Yeoh, and Ke Huy Quan. All of those are actors who got shuffled out of Hollywood for one reason or another, but have been given these opportunities to return to acting or to finally sink their teeth into meaty roles, and are now deservedly getting their flowers.

I'd also say it's been a year of comebacks when it comes to major sequels. Films like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water being a part of the awards conversation signifies that there's room for sequels to succeed beyond the box office, and that superhero films aren't the only ones bringing audiences back to theaters, which have been struggling since the pandemic. Top Gun and Avatar made strong cases for seeing movies on the biggest screens possible.

Isabel: What is the importance, if any, of movie awards now?

Shirley: If done right—and this is hard to do—awards-show speeches can be a great opportunity to tell a story that's not just, "I love my agents; I love my managers." I think about [Everything Everywhere All at Once actor] Ke Huy Quan's speech at the Golden Globes, where he talks about that feeling of self-doubt, of wondering whether his work as a child actor is all he had to offer, not just in his career but in his life. If more winners think about the story they can tell, that's a way to reach people beyond the room, to be accessible to the general public.

Isabel: What are the two or three movies you need to watch if you want to keep up with the awards chatter?

Shirley: The first is Everything Everywhere All at Once. I think that film has a lot of momentum when it comes to this awards season, but on a broader scale, it's such a fascinating example of how wild this medium can be. It's almost impossible to classify when it comes to a genre. It comes from a pair of directors who have a really unique creative vision; they're the ones who made the farting-corpse movie with Daniel Radcliffe. When you watch it, you don't think of it as an Oscar contender, but it's proof that a genre movie can make it really far.

The second movie is the more traditional contender in the mix: The Fabelmans, the Steven Spielberg–directed film that is plumbing his own childhood. It's in some ways about why he became a director, but at the same time, it's about how he wrestled with his parents' divorce.

The third movie I recommend watching, which is now available on HBO Max, is The Banshees of Inisherin. It's the film that reunites the writer-director Martin McDonagh with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. It's this more intimate number about friendship and toxic masculinity and being a part of a small community. When it comes to awards season, I think it's somewhere in between the other two films I recommended. It's made by a previous Oscar winner, while at the same time being unconventional in its own way.

Isabel: I have a question about another awards contender, Tár. It has become something of a meme to pretend that Lydia Tár, the main character, is a real person. Why do you think this is?

Shirley: I was just talking about this with a friend who was asking the same thing, because on the surface, Lydia Tár is a real person is not a funny joke.

Even as a meme format, it doesn't really make sense.

I think what set it off was Cate Blanchett's performance. It's so convincing. Lydia Tár is this EGOT-winning conductor. But as you watch the film, you kind of realize that "Lydia Tár" is a costume that this woman is wearing. And as the film goes on, it becomes both a horror and a comedy, and it goes into camp territory. It's all grounded in this performance that is so sharp and that makes you almost believe that Lydia Tár is a real person. But to be honest, maybe the meme just comes from how funny "Lydia Tár" sounds.

Isabel: Have you had any arguments with fellow movie people about the awards contenders?

Shirley: One recent debate I had with a critic was over whether Babylon is any good and deserving of all this awards attention, or if it's just so audaciously stupid that it tricks you into not being able to fully hate it.

Babylon didn't do very well at the box office, so I doubt a lot of folks have seen it. It's a film starring an A-list cast, including Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, that's about Hollywood's transition from making silent pictures to making talkies. This is like catnip for awards committees—a big, maximalist Hollywood movie from Damien Chazelle, the director of La La Land, about Hollywood itself. But it's also lewd and vulgar and three hours long. It spans decades. It is self-indulgent. It follows way too many characters. It opens with a scene in which an elephant poops onto the camera. Maybe that last bit's all you need to know.

Isabel: Is there a movie or performance that you think is being overlooked?

Shirley: So many, but I'll try to stick to just a few. The first one is Women Talking, the film directed and adapted by Sarah Polley from the 2018 novel of the same name. It's a really tough sell, because the story is based on a series of real-life rapes that happened in a Mennonite community in Bolivia. It's about one long conversation the women in this community have where they try to imagine what they can do next. But it's more engaging than you might think. I worry that it's coming so late in this awards season that people have just not been interested in seeing it or have not been able to see it.

Another contender that I haven't been able to stop thinking about is Aftersun, from the writer and director Charlotte Wells, which is a film about a father-daughter relationship and how we struggle to understand our parents. I think the performances in that are outstanding, and Wells is an immensely talented filmmaker, but I'm afraid the categories are too crowded at this point for them to make it in.


Today's News

  1. CIA Director Bill Burns reportedly briefed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week on the agency's expectations for Russia's military plans in the coming months.
  2. Google's parent company, Alphabet, announced that it will cut about 12,000 jobs.
  3. Anti-abortion activists held the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. This is the first march since Roe v. Wade was overturned.


Explore all of our newsletters here.

Evening Read

Tyler Comrie / The Atlantic; Getty

What Happens When AI Has Read Everything?

Ross Andersen

Artificial intelligence has in recent years proved itself to be a quick study, although it is being educated in a manner that would shame the most brutal headmaster. Locked into airtight Borgesian libraries for months with no bathroom breaks or sleep, AIs are told not to emerge until they've finished a self-paced speed course in human culture. On the syllabus: a decent fraction of all the surviving text that we have ever produced.

When AIs surface from these epic study sessions, they possess astonishing new abilities. People with the most linguistically supple minds—hyperpolyglots—can reliably flip back and forth between a dozen languages; AIs can now translate between more than 100 in real time. They can churn out pastiche in a range of literary styles and write passable rhyming poetry. DeepMind's Ithaca AI can glance at Greek letters etched into marble and guess the text that was chiseled off by vandals thousands of years ago.

Read the full article.

More From The Atlantic

Culture Break

Two small children sit before a blank TV screen in a dark room.
BayView Entertainment

Read. Try one of these seven books about how homes shape our life, or one of these eight self-help books that actually help.

And pick up our staff writer John Hendrickson's new book, Life on Delay: Making Peace With a Stutter.

Watch. On TV, HBO Max's The Last of Us adds something unexpected to the zombie genre.

In theaters, Skinamarink is a delightful nightmare.

Need something new? Try one of these 26 brilliant movies that critics were wrong about.

Play our daily crossword.


I'll leave you with a few more suggestions from Shirley for under-the-radar movies you should watch, even though you might not be hearing their names next week:

  • "The Woman King is a crowd-pleasing, great action film, and Viola Davis's performance is a departure from what she's done before."
  • "There's a South Korean film called Decision to Leave that I wrote about. It's a fantastic erotic thriller that I'm afraid will only be recognized in international categories, even though the direction is so sumptuous. I could not take my eyes off the screen. Every frame has new clues to the story."
  • "Lastly, there's a tiny movie called Emily the Criminal that I think is mostly getting indie-awards attention. It stars Aubrey Plaza, and it's such a sharp little movie about credit-card fraud, of all things, but that's what makes it great and insightful about wealth and income inequality."

— Isabel


JAN 20

After speculation from Davos-attendees, the owner of the mysterious Bitcoin-orange Mercedes at the elite Alpine gathering has come forward.


Earlier this week, attendees at the World Economic Forum spotted a mysterious Bitcoin-branded Mercedes sports car parked near the event in Davos, Switzerland, which immediately drew criticism for its flashy display of opulence in the wake of last year's devastating crypto crash.

Now, the owner of the vehicle has come forward — and he has a lot to say to his haters, CNBC reports.

As it turns out, the coupe's proud owner is Michael Chobanian, the founder of the Ukraine-based crypto exchange Kuna.

"How is the crash related to my property?" he told the outlet. "I am [in the] crypto and finance industry for ten years. I am not selling anything, nor promoting."

"If someone made bad decisions and lost money," Chobanian added, "it's their fault and not my car's."

In other words, neither the Davos Bitcoin-mobile nor its testy owner are responsible for the 2022 crypto crashes. You heard it here first, folks.

Crypto Row

The Bitcoin-orange Mercedes, emblazoned with the currency's logo in the place of its German manufacturer's, has drawn both accolades from crypto industry types and jeers from critics.

Critics were quick to point out that the car was one of the only remaining callbacks to the golden days of crypto at the gathering following a devastating year for the industry — and that it was ironically stationed near the so-called "Blockchain Hub," which had become to be known as Davos' "Crypto Row" over the years.

Placing Blame

While Chobanian's choice of parking location was interpreted as a symbol for the seeming death of the crypto industry, he said he parked there for a much more mundane reason, suggesting it was all one big coincidence.

"The car is there because this is the closest parking spot that I found," he told CNBC.

More on crypto: Harvard Finance Professor: Crypto Is "Magical Thinking" That "Infected Capitalism"

The post Owner of Infamous Davos Bitcoin Car Gets Sensitive Over Crypto Criticism appeared first on Futurism.

Best way to maintain mental energy

I struggle to maintain mental consistency. My thinking and reading are fine one day but poor that evening or the next day or unforeseeable number of days.

I don't have have the mental capacity to predict how I will be mentally from week to week.

Anyone know why this could be? I struggle with a great deal of mental distress (from this and other things)

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The Line That Velma Crossed

In Velma, HBO Max's adult-oriented Scooby-Doo spin-off, familiar faces get involved in all sorts of gritty, R-rated activities. Velma (played by the show's executive producer, Mindy Kaling) and Daphne (Constance Wu) sell drugs. Fred (Glenn Howerton) gets shot in both legs. Shaggy (Sam Richardson), known by his birth name, Norville, tries to sell a kidney on the black market. Scenes of gratuitous violence pad almost every episode: Limbs get severed, corpses roll out of trash bins, riots break out in prison.

Meddling kids getting into wacky mysteries with their dog, this show is adamantly not. And in the months leading up to Velma's debut, the creative team seemed to anticipate backlash to the bold changes they'd made. The creator, Charlie Grandy, argued that the writers' alterations—including excising Scooby from the gang, reimagining Velma as a misanthropic South Asian teenager, and incorporating grotesque gags—felt authentic to the spirit of the original series. "We wanted to be respectful," he explained. "We didn't want to just kind of take these beloved characters and put them in outrageous or gross situations and say, 'Isn't it crazy you did that to Velma?'"

If only viewers felt the same way. Since Velma began airing on HBO Max this month, audiences have pummeled the series with negative reviews. Many complaints are—as is frequently the case with projects that change the ethnicity of originally white characters—knee-jerk, racist reactions to seeing well-known figures in a new context. Other viewers say that the show is too vulgar, transforming Velma and the gang into characters they no longer recognize. But the real problem with Velma isn't that its updates make Euphoria look like child's play; it's that its edginess comes at the expense of its own characters and punishes the audience for being invested. Like a certain Mystery Inc. member rummaging around in the dark for her glasses, the series is unfocused, confused, and desperately lost.

[Read: 13 feel-good shows to watch this winter]

The issues begin with Velma's overreliance on meta jokes about television in place of a compelling plot. The show follows Velma as she attempts to find the serial killer targeting high-school girls, searches for her missing mother, and tries to overcome nightmarish hallucinations that occur when she pursues cases—storytelling beats meant to parody dark teen dramas such as Riverdale. That concept, though, quickly grows old. Characters constantly pause the action to call out and summarize narrative tropes rather than letting the story unfold. In an upcoming episode, for instance, Velma explains her relationship with her father in terms of television history before the scene plays out. "If there's one thing teen dramas get right, it's that nothing is ever actually a teenager's fault," she says. "We're all really just paying for the sins of our parents. They're either lying to us, or trying to change us, or hiding some dark family secret. But when it comes to truly crappy parents, no one beats my dad." The monologue is unfunny, unsubtle, and completely unnecessary.

Worse, such moments reduce the ensemble into static joke-delivery machines. Kaling and the rest of the cast deliver enthusiastic performances, but their animated counterparts never come across as actual teenagers or coherent characters. They tease each other by pointing out the stereotypes they embody, flattening everyone into the very archetypes they're skewering: Daphne is a hot girl obsessed with being popular, Fred is a womanizing rich kid with daddy issues, Norville is a loser who can't get laid, and Velma is a hypercritical outcast. When characters do grow, the evolution is inconsistent or simply played for laughs. Velma, in one episode, realizes she has "no clue how to be a woman in a way that doesn't judge other women," but by the next installment, she's once again pettily tearing down a female classmate. Fred reads The Feminine Mystique, only for his attraction to "inner beauty" to become a running gag. The show, as a result, doesn't feel clever; it just feels mean.

In other words, Velma isn't really reimagining Velma—or Daphne, or Fred, or Norville—at all. Through endless references and half-hearted attempts at self-aware humor, the show seems most concerned with picking apart the original franchise: the ludicrousness of the mysteries, the absurdity of the gang's efforts, the tropes each character perpetuated. Yet in doing so, the series fails to make fresh observations about Scooby-Doo or about the teen-drama genre. It just offers a relentless barrage of outdated pop-culture commentary. Across the eight episodes I've seen, the weak jokes come first. Take a scene of Velma and her father heading to a strip club for lunch, for example. The setup could have been an opportunity to examine the characters' awkward relationship, but it's mostly done for shock value—as well as to land a tasteless punch line about how strippers take off their clothes because they're still chasing their father's attention.

Mature updates of venerated cartoons can work. HBO Max itself houses one of the best: Harley Quinn, a colorful extension of the DC animated universe that follows the titular comic-book character striking out on her own. Like Velma, the show is violent, packed with meta jokes, and concerned with depicting a female character's journey of self-discovery. But unlike Velma, the series has a clear reverence for the original franchise; it treats Harley with respect, prioritizing her development even amid rapid-fire jokes. Velma, meanwhile, emphasizes its shallow humor, yielding a project that struggles to be playful and misunderstands its protagonist's appeal. No, reboots shouldn't be carbon copies of their source material. But neither should they dismiss it—or sneer at the viewers who care.

A new study of red sea urchins, a commercially valuable species, investigated how different populations respond to changes in their environments. The results show that red sea urchin populations in Northern and Southern California are adapted to their local conditions but differ in their vulnerability to the environmental changes expected to occur in the future due to global climate change and ocean acidification. Red sea urchin populations in Southern California may be more vulnerable to climate change than those in Northern California.

Scientists have long sought to better understand the human body's immune responses that occur during various diseases, including cancer and inflammatory diseases. Scientists have now analyzed how immunological memory — the memory the body's immune system retains after an infection or vaccination that helps protect against reinfection — gets generated and maintained, as well as the role inflammation plays in shaping that immunological memory.

Is this article about Agriculture Industry?
There are often too few flowering plants in agricultural landscapes, which is one reason for the decline of pollinating insects. Researchers ave now investigated how a mixture of crops of faba beans (broad beans) and wheat affects the number of pollinating insects. They found that areas of mixed crops compared with areas of single crops are visited equally often by foraging bees.

CNET and Bankrate parent company Red Ventures says it's pausing its AI-generated content efforts -- until the negative press dies down, at least.

Last week, it emerged that CNET and its sister site


had been publishing AI-generated financial explainers.

The program's lack of a formal announcement — as well as the shoddy quality of the articles it generated and the general sense that it was a pilot program to put entry-level writers out of work — produced outrage.

Now, after a bruising week of headlines, CNET and Bankrate's owner, Red Ventures, said in a series of internal meetings that it was pausing the AI-generated articles at both outlets, as well as other sites in the company's extensive portfolio.

But not for long. Company leaders said that after the negative press coverage lets up, they'll be starting the program back up.

"I just want to reassure everybody: this will pass," CNET's executive vice president of content and audience Lindsey Turrentine at one of the meetings, according to The Verge. "It's uncomfortable, we will get through it, the news cycle will move on."

Turrentine, you may recall, was very concerned about the ethics of journalism back in 2013, when CNET's owner at the time gave the site orders that staff considered unethical.

"I could have quit right then," she wrote. "Maybe I should have. I decided that the best thing for my team was to get through the day as best we could and to fight the fight from the other side."

While Red Ventures licks its wounds, company leaders say they'll be conducting an audit of the AI's work and figuring out new ways for editors to catch the bot's multitudinous errors.

The sense that the company was more concerned with negative press than the quality of its work didn't sit well with employees in attendance.

"They're pausing it so they can audit everything and avoid another PR disaster," one Red Ventures employee told us of the meetings. "It's just going to all come roaring back once the buzz dies down. Unless Google cracks down on AI content, I do not think much will change."

"They can say all they want about how this will supplement our jobs, but at the end of the day, we are scared this is going to replace us," they added. "What can we do? Threaten to walk out? They have an algorithm to take our spot."

Are you a current or former CNET employee who wants to discuss the company's foray into AI-generated articles? Email to share your perspective. It's okay if you don't want to be identified by name.

If Red Ventures leadership sound rattled by the bad press, it's probably because the story of the company's descent into AI-generated content made some serious rounds this week after Futurism's initial report.

"A news site used AI to write articles," thundered the Washington Post. "It was a journalistic disaster."

The Verge conducted its own investigation into "CNET's AI-powered SEO money machine" in the wake of our coverage, with one former employee telling the site that staff at CNET are "more afraid of Red Ventures than they are of AI."

The story, which was the first example of a high profile publisher getting caught using current-generation AI text generation tools to churn out automated content, also picked up coverage in the New York Times, Vice, Gizmodo, Politico, Slate, Insider, Pew Research, Digiday, and many other outlets.

But Red Ventures leadership says not to worry — all those publications will stop paying attention soon enough, at which point it can spin the program back up again.

More on AI: SEO Spammers Are Absolutely Thrilled Google Isn't Cracking Down on CNET's AI-Generated Articles

The post CNET and Bankrate Say They're Pausing AI-Generated Articles Until Negative Headlines Stop appeared first on Futurism.

Desperate Twitter Auctioning Off Its Used Office Supplies
In an auction this week, Elon Musk decided to sell a number of objects from Twitter's Bay Area HQ — including the building's iconic blue bird logo.

Going Once, Going Twice

SpaceX, Tesla, and


CEO Elon Musk, for whatever reason, seems to seriously have it out for office furniture.

Last year, the serial founder — who notoriously hates remote work — demanded that Tesla workers get back into the office, only for those workers to return to a pretty serious lack of desks. And as of this week, it looks like Twitter's San Francisco offices are looking extra bare, too.

In an auction this week, Musk decided to auction off a number of objects from Twitter's Bay Area HQ. Items included everything from office supplies to — really — an incredibly expensive "Lamborghini of meat slicers" to the building's iconic blue bird logo, which reportedly sold for a bonkers $100,000.

Blue bird logo aside, the kitchen items in particular seemed to be a hit, with the Lamborghini meat machine fetching roughly $16k. Good for Twitter we suppose, but bad for any employees who may have embraced a Bring Your Own Ham to work policy.

Fire Sale

Since you don't usually see a still-functioning company hawking its "swivel chairs" and custom office statues, a lot of folks are naturally wondering: why?

To that end, the spacefaring billionaire has made a number of oft-controversial moves to cut costs since joining the company, among them being mass layoffs — even of the platform's janitors, a measure that has reportedly transformed the formerly, um, normal offices into wretched garbage dens. This in mind, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Musk is trying to generate as much cash as possible before Twitter's first $300 million loan payment is due next week.

Reps at the auction house handling the sale, however, don't think such is the case.

"They've sold for $44 billion, and we're selling a couple of chairs and desks and computers," Nick Dove, a representative for the auction house in question, told Fortune. "So if anyone genuinely thinks that the revenue from selling a couple computers and chairs will pay for the mountain there, then they're a moron."

Of course, Musk, who can really do whatever he wants with the HQ, might just want to redecorate — so why not use the old stuff to pay for the new stuff? We hear some feng shui is very much needed over there. But first, we might recommend that he uses some of that $100,00 to have the place cleaned.

READ MORE: Twitter auctioned off a $16,000 piece of kitchen equipment known as the 'Lamborghini of meat slicers' from its San Francisco office [Insider]

The post Desperate Twitter Auctioning Off Its Used Office Supplies appeared first on Futurism.

Intact forests are important climate regulators and harbors of biodiversity, but they are rapidly disappearing. Agriculture is commonly considered to be the major culprit behind forest loss, but the authors of a new article show that agriculture isn't solely to blame. For forest loss associated with the 2014 world economy, over 60% was related to final consumption of non-agricultural products, such as minerals, metals and wood-related goods, and the authors argue that we must consider international trade markets when designing conservation strategies.

Is this article about Construction?
In order to meet climate protection goals, renewable energies are booming — often wind power. More than 30,000 turbines have already been installed on the German mainland so far, and the industry is currently scrambling to locate increasingly rare suitable sites. Thus, forests are coming into focus as potential sites. A scientific team has now demonstrated that wind turbines in forests impair endangered bat species: Common noctules (Nyctalus noctula), a species with a high risk of colliding with rotor blades, are attracted to forest wind turbines if these are located near their roosts. Far from roosts, common noctules avoid the turbines, essentially resulting in a loss of foraging space and thus habitat for this species.

Physicists have experimentally proven that an important theorem of statistical physics applies to so-called 'Bose-Einstein condensates.' Their results now make it possible to measure certain properties of the quantum 'superparticles' and deduce system characteristics that would otherwise be difficult to observe.

Netflix 3.0 Is Coming
Leo has found 1 Leadership Changes mention in this article
  • Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix and its CEO during the company's 25-year history, announced on Thursday he would step back from the role.
Reed Hastings, cofounder and longtime CEO of the streamer, is stepping down after years of disrupting both the video rental market and Hollywood itself.



Mitotic perturbations activate the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) that keeps cells in prometaphase with high CDK1 activity. Prolonged mitotic arrest is eventually bypassed by gradual
B decline followed by slippage of cells into G 1 without chromosome segregation, a process that promotes cell transformation and drug resistance. Hitherto, the cyclin B1 decay is exclusively defined by mechanisms that involve its proteasomal degradation. Here, we report that hyperphosphorylated
kinase accumulates in mitotic cells and phosphorylates the Rett syndrome protein MeCP2 at Ser 92 , a regulation that is counteracted by CDC14B phosphatase. MeCP2 S92 phosphorylation leads to the enhanced translation of cyclin B1, which is important for cells with persistent SAC activation to counteract the proteolytic decline of cyclin B1 and therefore to suspend mitotic slippage. Hence, the HIPK2/CDC14B-MeCP2 axis functions as an enhancer of the SAC-induced mitotic block. Collectively, our study revises the prevailing view of how cells confer a sustainable SAC.



Aging-related centromeric cohesion loss underlies premature separation of sister chromatids and egg aneuploidy in reproductively older females. Here, we show that F-actin maintains chromatid association after cohesion deterioration in aged eggs. F-actin disruption in aged mouse eggs exacerbated untimely dissociation of sister chromatids, while its removal in young eggs induced extensive chromatid separation events generally only seen in advanced reproductive ages. In young eggs containing experimentally reduced cohesion, F-actin removal accelerated premature splitting and scattering of sister chromatids in a microtubule dynamics–dependent manner, suggesting that actin counteracts chromatid-pulling spindle forces. Consistently, F-actin stabilization restricted scattering of unpaired chromatids generated by complete degradation of centromeric cohesion proteins. We conclude that actin mitigates egg
arising from age-related cohesion depletion by limiting microtubule-driven separation and dispersion of sister chromatids. This is supported by our finding that spindle-associated F-actin structures are disrupted in eggs of reproductively older females.



Marine coccolithophores are globally distributed, unicellular phytoplankton that produce nanopatterned, calcite biominerals (coccoliths). These biominerals are synthesized internally, deposited into an extracellular coccosphere, and routinely released into the external medium, where they profoundly affect the global carbon cycle. The cellular costs and benefits of calcification remain unresolved. Here, we show observational and experimental evidence, supported by biophysical modeling, that free coccoliths are highly adsorptive biominerals that readily interact with cells to form chimeric coccospheres and with viruses to form "viroliths," which facilitate
. Adsorption to cells is mediated by organic matter associated with the coccolith base plate and varies with biomineral morphology. Biomineral hitchhiking increases host-virus encounters by nearly an order of magnitude and can be the dominant mode of infection under stormy conditions, fundamentally altering how we view biomineral-cell-virus interactions in the environment.



Spatiotemporally coordinated transformations in epithelial curvature are necessary to generate crypt-villus structures during intestinal development. However, the temporal regulation of mechanotransduction pathways that drive crypt morphogenesis remains understudied. Intestinal organoids have proven useful to study crypt morphogenesis in vitro, yet the reliance on static culture scaffolds limits the ability to assess the temporal effects of changing curvature. Here, a photoinduced hydrogel cross-link exchange reaction is used to spatiotemporally alter epithelial curvature and study how dynamic changes in curvature influence mechanotransduction pathways to instruct crypt morphogenesis. Photopatterned curvature increased membrane tension and depolarization, which was required for subsequent nuclear localization of yes-associated protein 1 (YAP) observed 24 hours following curvature change. Curvature-directed crypt morphogenesis only occurred following a delay in the induction of differentiation that coincided with the delay in spatially restricted YAP localization, indicating that dynamic changes in curvature initiate epithelial curvature–dependent mechanotransduction pathways that temporally regulate crypt morphogenesis.

Is this article about Cell?


Establishing that climate exerts an important general influence on topography in tectonically active settings has proven an elusive goal. Here, we show that climates ranging from arid to humid consistently influence fluvial erosional efficiency and thus topography, and this effect is captured by a simple metric that combines channel steepness and mean annual rainfall, k snQ . Accounting for spatial rainfall variability additionally increases the sensitivity of channel steepness to lithologic and tectonic controls on topography, enhancing predictions of erosion and rock uplift rates, and supports the common assumption of a reference concavity near 0.5. In contrast, the standard channel steepness metric, k sn , intrinsically assumes that climate is uniform. Consequently, its use where rainfall varies spatially undermines efforts to distinguish climate from tectonic and lithologic effects, can bias reference concavity estimates, and may ultimately lead to false impressions about rock uplift patterns and other environmental influences. Capturing climate is therefore a precondition to understanding mountain landscape evolution.



Severe, early-onset photoreceptor (PR) degeneration associated with MERTK mutations is thought to result from failed phagocytosis by retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Notwithstanding, the severity and onset of PR degeneration in mouse models of Mertk ablation are determined by the hypomorphic expression or the loss of the Mertk paralog Tyro3 . Here, we find that loss of Mertk and reduced expression/loss of Tyro3 led to RPE inflammation even before eye-opening. Incipient RPE inflammation cascaded to involve microglia activation and PR degeneration with monocyte infiltration. Inhibition of RPE inflammation with the JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib mitigated PR degeneration in Mertk −/− mice. Neither inflammation nor severe, early-onset PR degeneration was observed in mice with defective phagocytosis alone. Thus, inflammation drives severe, early-onset PR degeneration–associated with Mertk loss of function.



Malfunction of the sialic acid transporter caused by various genetic mutations in the SLC17A5 gene encoding Sialin leads to a spectrum of neurodegenerative conditions called free sialic acid storage disorders. Unfortunately, how Sialin transports sialic acid/proton (H + ) and how pathogenic mutations impair its function are poorly defined. Here, we present the structure of human Sialin in an inward-facing partially open conformation determined by cryo–electron microscopy, representing the first high-resolution structure of any human SLC17 member. Our analysis reveals two unique features in Sialin: (i) The H + coupling/sensing requires two highly conserved Glu residues (E171 and E175) instead of one (E175) as implied in previous studies; and (ii) the normal function of Sialin requires the stabilization of a cytosolic helix, which has not been noticed in the literature. By mapping known pathogenic mutations, we provide mechanistic explanations for corresponding functional defects. We propose a structure-based mechanism for sialic acid transport mediated by Sialin.



Maintaining genomic stability is crucial for embryonic stem cells (ESCs). ESCs with unrepaired DNA damage are eliminated through differentiation and apoptosis. To date, only tumor suppressor p53 is known to be implicated in this quality control process. Here, we identified a p53-independent quality control factor lncRNA NONMMUT028956 ( Lnc956 for short) in mouse ESCs. Lnc956 is prevalently expressed in ESCs and regulates the differentiation of ESCs after DNA damage. Mechanistically, Ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) activation drives m 6 A methylation of Lnc956 , which promotes its interaction with Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4). Lnc956 -KLF4 association sequestrates the KLF4 protein and prevents KLF4's transcriptional regulation on pluripotency. This posttranslational mechanism favors the rapid shutdown of the regulatory circuitry of pluripotency. Thus, ATM signaling in ESCs can activate two pathways mediated by p53 and Lnc956 , respectively, which act together to ensure robust differentiation and apoptosis in response to unrepaired DNA damage.



Although literature suggests that resistance to
inhibitor (TNFi) therapy in patients with
ulcerative colitis
(UC) is partially linked to immune cell populations in the inflamed region, there is still substantial uncertainty underlying the relevant spatial context. Here, we used the highly multiplexed immunofluorescence imaging technology CODEX to create a publicly browsable tissue atlas of inflammation in 42 tissue regions from 29 patients with UC and 5 healthy individuals. We analyzed 52 biomarkers on 1,710,973 spatially resolved single cells to determine cell types, cell-cell contacts, and cellular neighborhoods. We observed that cellular functional states are associated with cellular neighborhoods. We further observed that a subset of inflammatory cell types and cellular neighborhoods are present in patients with UC with TNFi treatment, potentially indicating resistant niches. Last, we explored applying convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to our dataset with respect to patient clinical variables. We note concerns and offer guidelines for reporting CNN-based predictions in similar datasets.



In the Mooser-Pearson diagram, binary ionic compoundss form into nonpolar symmetrical structures with high coordination numbers, while wurtzite structures should appear in the covalent region. Their tetrahedral bonding configurations break the inversion symmetry, with polarizations almost unswitchable due to the high barriers of abrupt breaking and reformation of covalent bonds. Here, through first-principles calculations, we find some exceptional cases of highly ionic ferroelectric binary salts such as lithium halides, which may form into wurtzite structures with covalent-like sp 3 bondings, and the origin of these abnormal formations is clarified. Their high polarizations induced by symmetry breaking are switchable, with much smoother switching pathway refrained from abrupt bond breaking due to the long-range feature of Coulomb interactions. These covalent-like ionic bondings do reduce not only their ferroelectric switching barriers but also the phase transition barriers between polar and nonpolar phases, rendering high performance in applications such as nonvolatile memory and energy storage.

Dark Horse AI Gets Passing Grade in Law Exam
An artificial intelligence dubbed Claude got a "marginal pass" on a recent blindly graded law and economics exam at George Mason University.

An artificial intelligence dubbed Claude, developed by AI research firm Anthropic, got a "marginal pass" on a recent blindly graded law and economics exam at George Mason University, according to a recent blog post by economics professor Alex Tabarrok.

It's yet another warning shot that AI is experiencing a moment of explosive growth in capability — and it's not just OpenAI's ChatGPT that we have to worry about.

Anthropic — which according to Insider secured funding from disgraced crypto exec Sam Bankman-Fried and his alleged romantic partner, former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison — made a big splash with its new AI earlier this week.

Anthropic started quietly testing Claude late last year, and it's already been hailed as a worthy "rival to ChatGPT," OpenAI's AI text generator that has taken the internet by storm.

As of right now, the company is limiting public access to its AI and is only testing it via a closed beta.

But Claude is already impressing academics with its ability to come up with strikingly thorough answers to complex prompts.

For one law exam question highlighted by Tabarrok, Claude was able to generate believable recommendations on how to change intellectual property laws.

"Overall, the goal should be to make IP laws less restrictive and make more works available to the public sooner," the AI concluded. "But it is important to still provide some incentives and compensation to creators for a limited period."

Overall, Tabarrok found that "Claude is a competitor to GPT-3 and in my view an improvement," because it was able to generate a "credible response" that's "better than many human responses."

To be fair, others were less impressed with Claude's efforts.

"To be honest, this looks more like Claude simply consumed and puked up a McKinsey report," the Financial Times wrote in a piece on Tabarrok's findings.

While Claude and ChatGPT are similar in terms of user experience, the models were trained in different ways, especially when it comes to ensuring that things don't go out of hand.

Claude makes use of "constitutional AI," as described in a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed paper shared by Anthropic researchers last month.

"We experiment with methods for training a harmless AI assistant through self-improvement, without any human labels identifying harmful outputs," they wrote. "The process involves both a supervised learning and a reinforcement learning phase."

"Often, language models trained to be 'harmless' have a tendency to become useless in the face of adversarial questions," the company wrote in a December tweet. "Constitutional AI lets them respond to questions using a simple set of principles as a guide."

Enterprise AI app developer Scale tested both Claude and ChatGPT in a head to head and found that "overall, Claude is a serious competitor to ChatGPT, with improvements in many areas."

Scale also found that Claude is "more fun than ChatGPT," even though it was "more inclined to refuse inappropriate requests" thanks to its constitutional AI.

"Its ability to write coherently about itself, its limitations, and its goals seem to also allow it to more naturally answer questions on other subjects," Scale wrote in its blog, pointing out that ChatGPT still held the edge when it comes to code generation.

In short, Anthropic isn't messing around with its new AI chatbot and could offer OpenAI some very real competition.

READ MORE: An AI rival to ChatGPT passed a university level law and economics exam, and did better than many humans, professor says [Insider]

More on AI: SEO Spammers Are Absolutely Thrilled Google Isn't Cracking Down on CNET's AI-Generated Articles

The post Dark Horse AI Gets Passing Grade in Law Exam appeared first on Futurism.

There's Snow on Mars

Noora Alsaeed has often thought about building a snowman on Mars.

Let's go over that again. A snowman on Mars? That desertlike, desolate planet over there? The one covered in sand? What an unusual daydream.

But Alsaeed knows a few things that the rest of us don't. She is a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose work relies on data from a NASA spacecraft that orbits Mars. She studies the red planet's polar regions and the peculiar molecules suspended in the atmosphere above them. She knows that on Mars, it snows.

Just like Earth, Mars has seasons, and during the winter—about twice as long as ours—icy crystals cascade from the clouds and accumulate on the frigid surface. This sounds unbelievable, given that Mars is notoriously dry. But Mars gets around that little technicality by substituting intricate, six-sided water snow for something else. The Martian atmosphere, many times thinner than Earth's, is primarily composed of carbon dioxide. In the most bitter conditions, the carbon dioxide transforms from a gas into small, cube-shaped crystals of ice—specifically dry ice, the kind we earthlings use to set a spooky scene on Halloween. The ice is too heavy to remain in the Martian sky, so it flurries down, settling in shallow piles on the red planet.

Mars is the planet that, aside from Earth, has likely made the largest impression on the public imagination. We're well acquainted with Mars as the planet with all the rovers, the place where Elon Musk wants people to make a second home, the obvious next destination now that humans have been to the moon. But under all that hype are subtler, downright fascinating details about the fourth planet from the sun, such as its mesmerizing soundscape and its richly textured rock formations, layered like mille-feuille. Carbon-dioxide snow is just one of Mars's many curiosities.

[Read: Mars's soundscape is strangely beautiful]

Scientists began to suspect that Mars's polar regions could become cold enough to turn carbon dioxide into snow as early as the 1800s, Paul Hayne, a planetary scientist at CU Boulder who studies Martian snowfall, told me. A NASA mission in the 1970s made observations that would later be interpreted as the first signs of carbon-dioxide snowfall. In 2008, a spacecraft that landed in Mars's northern plains detected evidence of snow—the water-ice kind!—falling from the atmosphere. But there was no evidence that the water snow actually reached the ground; the air on Mars is so thin that the water sublimates into a gas before the crystals can touch the surface.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling Mars for more than 15 years, has captured carbon-dioxide snow reaching the surface, though. (Scientists don't have photographic or video evidence of carbon-dioxide snowfall, only detections made with laser technology and observations in wavelengths that are invisible to our eyes. "Since most of the snow on Mars falls in the darkness of polar night, we need to use wavelengths of radiation outside of the visible spectrum," Hayne said.) The snow even accumulates, mostly near sloped areas such as cliff sides and crater edges, Sylvain Piqueux, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who studies Mars, told me. He said that enough of it piles up to—hypothetically—snowshoe in.

That idea tickles the imagination. What might it be like to stand on the Martian surface in the middle of winter, the temperatures finally cold enough to loose some molecules from the sky? Snowfall occurs only during the cold Martian night, so if you brought some night-vision goggles, you'd see that you were enveloped in a bright haze. Carbon-dioxide snowflakes are tiny, smaller than the width of a strand of hair—much smaller than their six-sided, water-ice counterparts. "It wouldn't look as magical as it does on Earth," Alsaeed said.

But a Martian blizzard would be lovely in its own way. "It would be extraordinarily quiet," Hayne said. You might even be able to catch the sound of little carbon-dioxide snow-cubes falling onto the ground. A gust of wind could kick up "an opaque column of glittering snow," he said. "Glittering" and "snow"—two words that may reshape your mental picture of Mars.

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

So if astronauts could, in theory, snowshoe on the red planet, what else could they do? Skiing is likely out, Hayne said. "Part of what makes skiing possible on Earth is that a thin film of liquid water forms on the surfaces of the ice particles as your ski creates friction, lubricating your motion," he said. On Mars, that friction would cause icy particles to turn into vapor and billow away, which "would probably make your skis a bit squirrelly."

The experts don't really know whether other classic winter activities could take place on Mars. "The idea of dealing with snow that's made of CO2 is just so alien to me," Alsaeed said. "It's gonna be a completely different ball game." Piqueux isn't sure whether carbon-dioxide snow would clump enough to form a snowball, let alone a snowman; dry ice is not exactly a chemical enigma, but how the stuff behaves under Martian conditions is more mysterious, he said. At the very least, you might manage a snow angel. And as for opening your mouth wide to catch a cube-shaped snowflake? "You can't stick your tongue out on Mars, ever!" Hayne said. (Sorry, I had to ask!)

There is much to learn. "Snow might be a universal process for [worlds] with an atmosphere," Piqueux said. "Learning how it works might tell us quite a bit about planets—what shapes their surface, how they evolve, and what they look like." Scientists theorize that Mars was more like Earth a few billion years ago—warm and balmy, with real lakes and seas. Perhaps it snowed more back then too, with chunky flakes of frozen water, and the influence of that ancient precipitation remains embedded at the planet's poles.

Many decades ago, well before any space robots arrived on Mars, scientists imagined the red planet to be a bustling place, believing that the surface markings they saw through their telescopes were evidence of intelligent engineering. The astronomer Percival Lowell wrote at length about these markings, which he called canals, in The Atlantic in 1895, sparking in the public imagination the tantalizing promise of an inhabited Mars. That ended up not being the case: Any life that may have arisen on Mars is either long dead or hiding out of view, buried away from the glare of the sun. The dissimilarity to Earth was almost disappointing.

[From the May 1895 issue: Mars]

But still, there are familiar echoes, as Lowell himself recognized. "If astronomy teaches anything, it teaches that man is but a detail in the evolution of the universe, and that resemblant though diverse details are inevitably to be expected in the host of orbs around him," he wrote. "He learns that though he will probably never find his double anywhere, he is destined to discover any number of cousins scattered through space." Cousins like Martian snow—perhaps not enough to make a genuine snowman, but certainly enough to stir our imagination from millions of miles away.

Abortion Pills Will Be the Next Battle in the 2024 Election
Leo has found 2 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article

The next front is rapidly emerging in the struggle between supporters and opponents of legal abortion, and that escalating conflict is increasing the chances that the issue will shape the 2024 election as it did last November's midterm contest.

President Joe Biden triggered the new confrontation with a flurry of recent moves to expand access to the drugs used in medication abortions, which now account for more than half of all abortions performed in the United States. Medication abortion involves two drugs: mifepristone followed by misoprostol (which is also used to prevent stomach ulcers). Although abortion opponents question the drugs' safety, multiple scientific studies have found few serious adverse effects beyond headache or cramping.

Federal regulation of the use and distribution of these drugs by agencies including the FDA and the United States Postal Service has long been overshadowed in the abortion debate by the battles over Supreme Court nominations and federal legislation to ban or authorize abortion nationwide. But with a conservative majority now entrenched in the Court, and little chance that Congress will pass national legislation in either direction any time soon, abortion supporters and opponents are focusing more attention on executive-branch actions that influence the availability of the pills.

[Read: The abortion backup plan no one is talking about]

"The reality of abortion care has been changing very, very rapidly, and now the politics are catching up with it," Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who served as one of Biden's advisers in 2020, told me.

Tens of thousands of anti-abortion activists will descend on Washington today for their annual March for Life—the first since the Supreme Court last summer overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a nationwide right to abortion. The activists will cheer the swift moves by some two dozen Republican-controlled states to ban or severely restrict abortion since the Court struck down Roe.

But even as abortion opponents celebrate, they are growing more frustrated about the increased reliance on the drugs, which are now used in 54 percent of U.S. abortions—up dramatically from less than one-third less than a decade ago, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. "With the overturning of Roe, [with] COVID, and with President Biden's loosening of the restrictions on these [drugs] … there is a new frontier that everyone is pivoting to," Rebecca Parma, the legislative director for Texas Right to Life, a prominent anti-abortion group, told me.

George W. Bush and Donald Trump, the two Republicans who have held the presidency since the drugs were first approved under Democratic President Bill Clinton, in 2000, took virtually no steps to limit their availability. But conservative activists are already signaling that they will press the Republican presidential candidates in 2024 for more forceful action.

"Our job is to make sure … this becomes an issue that any GOP candidate will have to answer and address," Kristan Hawkins, the president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America, told me. "No one can be ambivalent again; it will simply not be an option."

The challenge for Republicans is that the 2022 midterm elections sent an unmistakable signal of resistance to further abortion restrictions in almost all of the key swing states that tipped the 2020 presidential election and are likely to decide the 2024 contest. "Would you really want to be Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump running in a close election saying, 'I'm going to ban all abortion pills in Michigan or Pennsylvania' right now?" says Mary Ziegler, a law professor at UC Davis, who has written extensively on the history of the abortion debate.

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the original Roe decision, and the Biden administration will mark the occasion with a defiant pro-abortion-rights speech from Vice President Kamala Harris in Florida, where GOP Governor DeSantis, a likely 2024 presidential contender, signed a 15-week abortion ban last April.

White House officials see access to abortion medication as "the next battlefront" in the larger struggle over the procedure, Jennifer Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council, told me. She said she expects Republicans to mount more sweeping efforts to restrict access to the drugs than they did during the Bush or Trump presidencies. "The reason you've seen both Democratic and Republican administrations ensure access to medication abortions is because this is the FDA following their evidence-based scientific judgment," she said. "So what I think is different now is you are seeing some pretty extreme actions as the next way to double down on taking away reproductive health and reproductive rights."

Federal regulation of the abortion drugs has followed a consistent pattern, with Democratic presidents moving to expand access and Republican presidents mostly accepting those actions.

[Read: The other abortion pill]

During the 2000 presidential campaign, for instance, George W. Bush called the Clinton administration's initial approval of mifepristone "wrong" and said he worried it would lead to more abortions. But over Bush's two terms, his three FDA commissioners ignored a citizen petition from conservative groups to revoke approval for the drug. Under Barack Obama, the FDA formalized relatively onerous rules for the use of mifepristone. Physicians had to obtain a special certification to prescribe the drug, women had to meet with their doctor once before receiving it and twice after, and it could be used only within the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

The FDA loosened these restrictions during Obama's final year in office. It reduced the number of physician visits required to obtain the drugs from three to one and increased to 10 the number of weeks into a pregnancy the drugs could be used. The revisions also permitted other medical professionals, such as nurses, to prescribe the drugs if they received certification, and eliminated a requirement for providers to report "adverse effects" other than death. Trump didn't reverse any of the Obama decisions. He did side with conservatives by fighting a lawsuit from abortion-rights advocates to lift the requirement for an in-person doctor's visit to obtain the drugs during the COVID pandemic. But by the time the Supreme Court ruled for the Trump administration in January 2021, Biden was days away from taking office. Within months, women seeking an abortion could consult with a doctor via telehealth and then receive the pills via mail.

On January 3 of this year, the FDA took another major step by allowing pharmacies to dispense the drugs. In late December, the Justice Department issued a legal opinion that the Postal Service could deliver the drugs without violating the 19th-century Comstock Act, which bars use of the mail "to corrupt the public morals."

The paradox is that the impact of these rules, for now, will be felt almost entirely in the states where abortion remains legal. Obtaining abortion pills there will be much more comparable to filling any other prescription. But 19 red states have passed laws that still require medical professionals to be present when the drugs are administered, which prevents pharmacies from offering them despite the FDA authorization. And although the FDA has approved use of mifepristone for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, medical professionals cannot prescribe the drugs in violation of state time limits (or absolute bans) on abortion. In terms of anti-abortion states, the Biden administration's actions have had "basically no impact," Greer Donley, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who studies abortion law, told me in an email.

Although the red states have largely walled themselves off from Biden's efforts on medication abortion, conservatives have launched a multifront attempt to roll back access to the pills nationwide. Students for Life has filed another citizen petition with the FDA, arguing that doctors who prescribe the drugs must dispose of any fetal remains as medical waste. In a joint letter released last week, 22 Republican attorneys general hinted that they may sue to overturn the new FDA rules permitting pharmacies to dispense the drugs. In November, another coalition of conservative groups filed a lawsuit before a Trump-appointed judge in Texas seeking to overturn the original certification and ban mifepristone. Jenny Ma, the senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, says that decision could ultimately have a broader effect than even the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe: "This case," she told me, "could effectively ban medication abortion nationwide. It means people in every state … may not be able to get abortion pills."

Republicans will also ramp up legislative action against the pills, although their proposals have no chance of becoming law while Democrats control the Senate and Biden holds the veto pen. Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi is planning to reintroduce her "SAVE Moms and Babies Act," which would restore the prohibition against dispensing abortion drugs through the mail or at pharmacies.

[From the May 2022 issue: The future of abortion in a post-Roe America]

However these legal and legislative challenges are resolved, it's already apparent that the 2024 GOP presidential field will face more pressure than before to propose executive-branch actions against the drugs. "That's going to be our clarion call in 2024," says Kristi Hamrick, a long-term social-conservative activist, who now serves as the chief strategist for media and policy at Students for Life.

Katie Glenn, the state-policy director at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, told me that, at the least, the group wants 2024 Republican presidential candidates to press for restoring the requirement to report adverse consequences from the drugs. Former Vice President Mike Pence, a likely candidate, has already suggested that he will support a ban on dispensing the pills through the mail. But the anti-abortion movement's long-term goal remains the same: ban mifepristone altogether. Hawkins shows the growing fervor GOP candidates will face when she says, "This pill is a cancer that has now metastasized throughout our country."

Simultaneously, abortion-rights advocates are pushing the Biden administration to loosen restrictions even further. "Medication abortion … has been overregulated for far too long," Ma told me. Many advocates want the FDA to extend permitted use of mifepristone from 10 to 12 weeks, eliminate the requirement that the professionals prescribing the drugs receive a special certification, and begin the process toward eventually making the drug available over the counter.

The immediate question is whether the Biden administration will challenge the red-state laws that have stymied its efforts to expand access. Advocates have argued that a legal case can be made for national FDA regulations to trump state restrictions, such as the requirement for physicians to dispense the drugs. But Biden is likely to proceed cautiously.

"We don't have a lot of answers … because, frankly, states have not tried to do this stuff in hundreds of years," Ziegler, the author of the upcoming book Roe: The History of a National Obsession, told me. Even so, she added, it's a reasonable assumption that this conservative-dominated Supreme Court would resist allowing the federal government to preempt state rules on how the drugs are dispensed.

These mirror-image pressures in each party increase the odds of a clear distinction between Biden (or another Democrat) and the 2024 GOP nominee over access to the drugs. Democrats are generally confident they will benefit from almost any contrast that keeps abortion prominent in the 2024 race. Some, like Lake, see access to the pills as a powerful lever to do that. The issue, she argues, is relevant to younger voters, who are much more familiar than older people with the growing use of medication abortion and are especially dubious that pharmacies can offer certain drugs in some states but not in others.

The impact of abortion on the 2022 election was more complex than is often discussed. As I've written, in the red states that have banned or restricted the practice, such as Florida, Ohio, and Texas, there was no discernible backlash against the Republican governors or state legislators who passed those laws. But the story was different in the blue and purple states where abortion remains legal. In pivotal states including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, a clear majority of voters said they supported abortion rights, and, according to media exit polls, crushing majorities of them voted against Republican gubernatorial candidates who pledged to restrict abortion. Those Democratic victories in the states likely to prove decisive again in 2024 have left many Republican strategists leery of pursuing any further constraints on abortion.

What's clear now is that even as abortion opponents gather to celebrate their long-sought toppling of Roe, many of them won't be satisfied until they have banned the procedure nationwide. "It is totally unacceptable for a presidential candidate to say, 'It's just up to the states' now," Marilyn Musgrave, the vice president for government affairs at the Susan B. Anthony group, told me. "We need a federal role clearly laid out by these presidential candidates." Equally clear is that abortion opponents now view federal regulatory actions to restrict, and eventually ban, abortion drugs as a crucial interim step on that path. The U.S. may seem in some ways to be settling into an uneasy new equilibrium, with abortion banned in some states and permitted in others. But, as the escalating battle over abortion medication makes clear, access to abortion in every state will remain on the ballot in 2024.

Morris Nitsun obituary

My friend Dr Morris Nitsun, who has died aged 79, was a consultant psychologist, psychotherapist and group analyst who worked in the NHS for 50 years. He was also a gifted artist.

Born in Worcester, a small, remote town in the Western Cape, South Africa, Morris was the youngest of three children of Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants. His father, Joseph Nitsun, was a businessman who had lost family in the Holocaust, and his mother, Bessie (nee Joffie), a housewife, had escaped the frozen wastes of Siberia, where her family lived as political exiles.

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A new AI chatbot, Historical Figures, simulates conversations with famous leaders. Just one thing: every famous person in history is perfect. Noted.

Historical Figures

A new AI chatbot, Historical Figures, promises to take its users on a journey through space and time, simulating conversations with famous leaders — from Jesus to Joseph Stalin to Henry Ford and many more.

Just, uh, one thing: apparently, pretty much every historical figure was absolutely perfect, and definitely feels bad if anything went wrong if or when they were in power. Cool cool cool! Can't wait to see this one in the classroom.

President Terminator

Take Andrew Jackson, a genocidal maniac who at the height of his presidency owned almost 100 slaves. Now, you might think that slave ownership undoubtedly makes someone a wretched racist, but according to Jackson's AI simulation? The former president was a champion for racial equality. And as for his notoriously terrible treatment of indigenous Americans, the Jackbot says that he was just making everyone's lives better.

"I treated everyone fairly, regardless of their race," the robot Jackson answered when asked, point blank, if he was a racist, also adding that he "worked to implement policies that would help Native Americans assimilate into American culture while still preserving their autonomy."

In the same vein, Jefferson Davis — yes, that Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederate States of America — apparently isn't racist either, at least according to his AI.

"No, I do not support slavery," the Davis simulator responded when asked if the Confederate leader supported slavery. "I believe that all individuals should be free."

Of course, these answers are ridiculous, as were a number of other phony "conversations" that netizens shared to Twitter and Mastodon. And while some were pretty funny — a favorite being Vlad the Impaler basically saying "no comment" when asked if he ever impaled people — the fact that the creator of the app told Vice that he could see his app used in elementary school classrooms is genuinely troubling. Kids definitely shouldn't be walking around thinking that Jackson and Davis loved equality (because they didn't), or that Henry Ford wasn't an antisemite (because he absolutely was), or that Ronald Reagan responded really, really well to the AIDS crisis (because he surely did not.)

That aside, this weird little app is also just a fascinating look into how strange, backwards, and really, just unknown, the guardrails for language models really are. Sure, there need to be protections; after all, you definitely don't want AI Andrew spewing racial slurs. But literally rewriting history to the favor of very bad people isn't a great look, either.

The post AI of Andrew Jackson, Who Literally Owned Slaves, Insists That He Wasn't Racist appeared first on Futurism.

There are often too few flowering plants in agricultural landscapes, which is one reason for the decline of pollinating insects. Researchers at the University of Göttingen have now investigated how a mixture of crops of fava beans (broad beans) and wheat affects the number of pollinating insects. They found that areas of mixed crops compared with areas of single crops are visited equally often by foraging bees. Their results were published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.

A new study of red sea urchins, a commercially valuable species, investigated how different populations respond to changes in their environments. The results show that red sea urchin populations in Northern and Southern California are adapted to their local conditions but differ in their vulnerability to the environmental changes expected to occur in the future due to global climate change and ocean acidification.

There are often too few flowering plants in agricultural landscapes, which is one reason for the decline of pollinating insects. Researchers at the University of Göttingen have now investigated how a mixture of crops of fava beans (broad beans) and wheat affects the number of pollinating insects. They found that areas of mixed crops compared with areas of single crops are visited equally often by foraging bees. Their results were published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.

A new study of red sea urchins, a commercially valuable species, investigated how different populations respond to changes in their environments. The results show that red sea urchin populations in Northern and Southern California are adapted to their local conditions but differ in their vulnerability to the environmental changes expected to occur in the future due to global climate change and ocean acidification.

High-severity wildfire is increasing in Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade forests and has been burning at unprecedented rates compared to the years before Euro-American settlement, according to a study from the Safford Lab at the University of California, Davis and its collaborators. Those rates have especially shot up over the past decade.

Is this article about Cell?
Neuroscientists find two distinct cell populations in the striatum are affected differently by Huntington's disease. They believe neurodegeneration of one of these populations leads to motor impairments, while damage to the other population, located in a structure called the striosome, may account for the mood disorders that are often see in the early stages of the disease.

Recreating natural molecules in the laboratory as part of the search for potential new drugs for disease can be difficult, costly and slow. The problem? Many chemical processes tend to produce not only a version of the molecule found in nature but also a mirror-image version of the molecule that is potentially useless — or even dangerous. In synthesizing a new, potentially therapeutic molecule found in a sea sponge, chemists used a reactive compound that helps them create only the desired version of the molecule, making synthesis more efficient and less costly.

Is this article about Biopharma Industry?
On the journey from gene to protein, a nascent RNA molecule can be cut and joined, or spliced, in different ways before being translated into a protein. This process, known as alternative splicing, allows a single gene to encode several different proteins. Alternative splicing occurs in many biological processes, like when stem cells mature into tissue-specific cells. In the context of disease, however, alternative splicing can be dysregulated. Therefore, it is important to examine the transcriptome—that is, all the RNA molecules that might stem from genes—to understand the root cause of a condition.

What the Tech and Media Layoffs Are Really Telling Us About the Economy

This is Work in Progress, a newsletter by Derek Thompson about work, technology, and how to solve some of America's biggest problems. Sign up here to get it every week.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, today announced that it plans to cut 12,000 jobs, joining a tech-and-media layoff list that already includes Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Salesforce, Snap, Twitter, and Warner Bros. Discovery. According to one estimate, roughly 130,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs at large tech and media companies in the past 12 months. That's roughly equivalent to the total number of people who worked at Apple before COVID hit.

These layoff announcements have become depressingly common, even rote. But they're also kind of mysterious. The overall unemployment rate in the U.S. is 3.5 percent, which ties the lowest mark of the 21st century.

In the 2010s, the labor market was weak, and the tech sector was growing. During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. economy experienced a flash-freeze depression, and the tech sector was booming. Today, the U.S. labor market seems, by some measures, quite strong, and yet the tech and media industries are bleeding. What's going on? And what does this inversion of 21st-century norms tell us about the state of the economy?

The first explanation of this moment is—and I don't know how to say this in a sophisticated way, so I'll say it in a simple and kind of stupid-sounding way—the post-pandemic economy has been much weirder than most people anticipated. Many people predicted that the digitization of the pandemic economy in 2020, such as the rise in streaming entertainment and online food-delivery apps and at-home fitness, were "accelerations," pushing us all into a future that was coming anyway. In this interpretation, the pandemic was a time machine, hastening the 2030s and raising tech valuations accordingly. Hiring boomed across tech, as companies added tens of thousands of workers to meet this expectation of acceleration.

But perhaps the pandemic wasn't really an accelerant. Maybe it was a bubble. Pandemic stocks, such as Peloton and Robinhood, soared and crashed. So did employment at tech companies, including Alphabet and Amazon. The challenges of the late-pandemic economy were various: Some firms faced supply-chain snafus while others were burned by the rise in interest rates that followed sticky inflation. Entertainment companies pushed their chips into streaming only to discover that profits wouldn't follow them. But all of these companies experienced the same phenomenon: In 2020, they thought the pandemic economy was a time machine, and in 2022, they realized the pandemic economy was an oasis. So, that's one way to see what's happening in tech. It's going back to 2019 again.

The second explanation for this weird moment is that everything in economics these days is an interest-rate story. When interest rates were low, investors valued growth narratives, and tech companies (or companies that called themselves tech companies) had a monopoly on these narratives. The price-to-earnings ratio of tech companies got out of whack, as investors placed their faith in companies such as Netflix and Uber and Tesla, which threw off a lot of long-term promises and few short-term profits. When inflation and interest rates increased, the companies that were making long-term promises were most at risk, and they got clobbered.

A third explanation is that much of the slowdown in tech and media is really a slowdown in advertising. Last year "was a rough year for the advertising market that saw massive pandemic-era growth come to a screeching halt," wrote several analysts at MoffettNathanson, a media and tech research firm. Marketers slashed ad budgets "in response to a mix of actual financial struggles and anticipated future struggles until, by the end of the holidays, there was hardly any money being spent at all."

Advertising is typically the first casualty in an economic slowdown, because it's not spending that affects the immediate product; rather, it's an investment in the future branding and growth of the company. Because so many tech companies—not just Google and Meta, but also Amazon, Apple, Snap, and Netflix—have become full-time or part-time advertising companies, they're almost all sensitive to an ad slowdown that's coming on much faster and stronger than the overall economic slowdown. So when you think about the mystery of why the tech sector is bleeding while the overall labor market seems healthy, this is a big part of the story. The advertising economy is diseased, whereas the services economy is hale.

The final explanation is that chief executives are normal people who navigate uncertainty by copying behavior. We can't rule out the possibility that five-digit tech layoffs are essentially acts of mimicry or social contagion among competitors. When all of your competitors are laying off 10 percent of their staff—and being rewarded by the market for it!—culling 10 percent of your workers may seem like the right or inevitable thing.

"Was there a bubble in valuations? Absolutely," the business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer told Stanford News. "Did Meta overhire? Probably. But is that why they are laying people off? Of course not. These companies are all making money. They are doing it because other companies are doing it."

Office hours are back! Join Derek Thompson and special guests for conversations about the future of work, technology, and culture. The next session will be January 26. Register here and watch a recording anytime on The Atlantic's YouTube channel.

Is this article about Biopharma Industry?
On the journey from gene to protein, a nascent RNA molecule can be cut and joined, or spliced, in different ways before being translated into a protein. This process, known as alternative splicing, allows a single gene to encode several different proteins. Alternative splicing occurs in many biological processes, like when stem cells mature into tissue-specific cells. In the context of disease, however, alternative splicing can be dysregulated. Therefore, it is important to examine the transcriptome—that is, all the RNA molecules that might stem from genes—to understand the root cause of a condition.

Recreating natural molecules in the laboratory as part of the search for potential new drugs for disease can be difficult, costly and slow. The problem? Many chemical processes tend to produce not only a version of the molecule found in nature but also a mirror-image version of the molecule that is potentially useless — or even dangerous. In synthesizing a new, potentially therapeutic molecule found in a sea sponge, chemists used a reactive compound that helps them create only the desired version of the molecule, making synthesis more efficient and less costly.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
A new study by researchers from Durham University, UK, Queen's University Belfast, UK, University of Extremadura, Spain and Swansea University, UK have revealed that vertebrate species involved in the live wildlife trade have distinctive life history traits, biological characteristics that determine the frequency and timing of reproduction.

It's not exactly comforting that the United States is running up against its debt limit, as officials announced this week, nor is there immediate cause for concern for the average taxpayer, says University of Michigan economist Daniil Manaenkov.

Physicists at the University of Bonn have experimentally proven that an important theorem of statistical physics applies to so-called "Bose-Einstein condensates." Their results now make it possible to measure certain properties of the quantum "superparticles" and deduce system characteristics that would otherwise be difficult to observe. The study has now been published in Physical Review Letters.

Mangroves were once seen as inhospitable malarial swamps and were among the fastest disappearing habitats in the world. Now, with input from Bangor University, one community project in Kenya is working to restore mangroves in a project which benefits local communities.

A new study by researchers from Durham University, UK, Queen's University Belfast, UK, University of Extremadura, Spain and Swansea University, UK have revealed that vertebrate species involved in the live wildlife trade have distinctive life history traits, biological characteristics that determine the frequency and timing of reproduction.

Elon Musk Ditched Tesla Stock Right Before Bad News Dropped
Is this article about Stock Analyses?
Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold almost $3.6 billion of his Tesla shares — just before the company revealed disappointing fourth-quarter results to investors.

Convenient Timing


CEO Elon Musk sold almost $3.6 billion of his shares in the EV maker in December — just before the company revealed disappointing fourth-quarter results to investors, The Wall Street Journal reports.

It has to make you wonder: did Musk know the company's stock price was about to tank, something that could be of interest to financial regulatory authorites?

"This should be of great interest to the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," James Cox, a securities-law professor at Duke University, told the WSJ. "The issue here is, what did he know and what was the market anticipating when he sold? That's a critical moment."

SEC Conference

It would be far from the first time the CEO billionaire and the regulator have butted heads. Musk has repeatedly undermined the SEC's authority, going as far as to say outright that he does not "respect the SEC" in an 2018 interview.

In fact, Musk had to go to court earlier this week over a now infamous 2018 tweet in which he said he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private, a move that triggered a lengthy investigation by the SEC.

Musk later settled and agreed to pay a $40 million penalty — but a lawsuit filed by investors is still ongoing.

Insider Who?

Musk sold 22 million shares at $163 in mid-December. Stock values plummeted down to just over $108 by January 3. In effect, the shares he sold shrank in value by $1.2 billion, the WSJ reports.

Despite a disastrous 2022, Tesla's shares have recovered somewhat and are trading at around $130 at the time of writing.

The news

comes after Musk dug deep into his own Tesla shares in large part to finance just over half of the $44 billion he spent to buy Twitter.

Musk's inflammatory rhetoric and chaotic leadership of the social media company has only angered Tesla shareholders even further.

Tesla's shares fell by a shocking 65 percent last year, resulting in Musk setting a Guinness World Record for the most amount of money a single human has lost, ever, wiping out an estimated $200 billion in net worth.

But whether Musk broke any regulatory laws with his latest Tesla selloff in December — or whether it was a desperate move to keep the lights on at Twitter — remains to be seen.

The news, however, won't do his and his already tarnished car brand any good.

READ MORE: Elon Musk Sold Tesla Shares Before Company Acknowledged Weakness [The Wall Street Journal]

More on Tesla: Elon Musk's Lawyers Says San Francisco Hates Him Too Much for a Fair Trial

The post Elon Musk Ditched Tesla Stock Right Before Bad News Dropped appeared first on Futurism.

George Takei Slams William Shatner, Says He Didn't Really Go to Space
Is this article about Tech?
"Star Trek" actor George Takei has aimed his sights at co-star William Shatner yet again, saying he did not in fact go into outer space.

Billionaire Joyride

"Star Trek" actor George Takei has aimed his sights at former co-star and James Kirk actor William Shatner yet again, telling UK tabloid The Mirror that the latter elder television star did not in fact go into outer space.

It's true that Shatner rode Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket to an altitude of 66.5 miles back in 2021, which is technically above the Karman line, the arbitrarily chosen boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and space — but hundreds of miles short of being able to achieve a stable orbit.

In other words, it was a simple joyride to the farthest reaches of our planet's stratosphere where one can easily see the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space. A long shot from the kind of space travel being done by actual astronauts, in other words, but great fodder for a potshot from a longtime rival.

"Well, he wasn't really in outer space and it wasn't for very long," Takei told The Mirror.

"I've also been in zero gravity but I did it for longer," he added. "I took a parabolic flight and experienced five minutes of weightlessness, whereas William only experienced three minutes. So I've spent more time in zero gravity than him."

Ancient Beef

Takei and Shatner's beef goes back decades. The two have repeatedly butted heads over the years, with Takei calling Shatner a "cantankerous old man" and an "egocentric, self-involved prima donna."

In 2021, Takei also took a swipe at Shatner for his rocket ride.

"So 90-years-old is going to show a great deal more on the wear and tear on the human body, so he'll be a good specimen to study," he joked in another tabloid interview at the time. "He's boldly going where other people have gone before."

In his latest remarks, though, Takei may have a point. Plenty of critics have argued that Jeff Bezos' space venture doesn't exactly amount to spacefaring — and the same goes for Virgin Galactic's competing spaceplane service as well.

Shatner experienced weightlessness for several minutes as the company's rocket plummeted back to the ground, something that can be simulated inside "vomit comet" airplanes that fly in parabolic maneuvers to allow passengers to experience weightlessness.

In short, Blue Origin's capsule has yet to come even close to actual orbit — an exciting rollercoaster ride for the few who can afford a ticket, but not much more.

More on the spat: George Takei Roasts "Star Trek" Costar William Shatner

The post George Takei Slams William Shatner, Says He Didn't Really Go to Space appeared first on Futurism.


Nature Communications, Published online: 20 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35671-x

Mineral weathering and microbial priming are two important processes that regulate soil formation and CO2 emissions. Here the authors link weathering with primed organic matter decomposition, which plays a key role in controlling soil C dynamics.

Is this article about Space?
Scientists have advanced in discovering how to use ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves to peer back to the beginning of everything we know. The researchers say they can better understand the state of the cosmos shortly after the Big Bang by learning how these ripples in the fabric of the universe flow through planets and the gas between the galaxies.

Is this article about Beverage Industry?
Without barley, hops and yeast, there is no beer. Brewing specialist Dr. Martin Zarnkow and beverage microbiologist Dr. Mathias Hutzler believe that a very special yeast variety might be found in Georgia. So they embarked on a "yeast hunt" and investigated microbiology and brewing traditions in the Caucasus region.

Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Environmental rules stoke anger as California lets precious stormwater wash out to sea
Environmental rules designed to protect imperiled fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have ignited anger among a group of bipartisan lawmakers, who say too much of California's stormwater is being washed out to sea instead of being pumped to reservoirs and aqueducts.