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In recent years, there have been increasing reports of toxic blue-green algae blooms in summer, even in German lakes, caused by climate warming and increased nutrient inputs. But humans have had an influence on the development of blue-green algae since the Bronze Age from about 2,000 B.C.


Växter lika viktiga som räls när Sverige fick järnväg

En gång i tiden prunkade svenska järnvägsstationer av grönska. Ambitiöst anlagda parker och köksträdgårdar skänkte skönhet och harmoni till väntande tågresenärer. Men inom loppet av tjugo år försvann hela härligheten, vad hände?

Inlägget Växter lika viktiga som räls när Sverige fick järnväg dök först upp på

What crocodile DNA reveals about the Ice Age
What drives crocodile evolution? Is climate a major factor or changes in sea levels? Determined to find answers to these questions, researchers from McGill University discovered that while changing temperatures and rainfall had little impact on the crocodiles' gene flow over the past three million years, changes to sea levels during the Ice Age had a different effect.
Study demonstrates a new method to search for meV dark photons
Approximately 85% of the mass of our galaxy is comprised by dark matter, matter that does not emit, absorb or reflect light and thus cannot be directly observed. While several studies have hinted at or theorized about its composition, it remains one of the greatest unresolved physics problems.
Mental health services on college campuses promote student success, report finds
Penn State's Center for Collegiate Mental Health has released the results of its 2022 Annual Report examining the factors associated with voluntary withdrawal from school during counseling services. This investigation was deemed essential given concerning national rates of "drop out" among college students (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 2020). The report concludes that the availability of comprehensive mental health support services on college campuses is essential to promote student success.
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
When we smell hot dogs, it may trigger memories of backyard barbeques or attending baseball games during childhood. During this process, the areas of the brain that control smell and long-term memory are rapidly firing off impulses. To fuel these signals from neurons, the active brain regions need oxygen and energy in the form of blood sugar glucose, which is quickly delivered through blood vessels.
Computer model of influenza virus shows universal vaccine promise
According to the World Health Organization, each year there are an estimated 1 billion cases of 
, between 3-5 million severe cases and up to 650,000 influenza-related respiratory deaths globally. Seasonal flu vaccines must be reformulated each year to match the predominantly circulating strains. When the vaccine matches the predominant strain, it is very effective; however, when it does not match, it may offer little protection.
A wearable cardiac ultrasound imager
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?

Nature, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41586-022-05498-z

Innovations in device design, material fabrication and deep learning are described, leading to a wearable ultrasound transducer capable of dynamic cardiac imaging in various environments and under different conditions.
A census of complexes formed by mitochondrial proteins

Nature, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00095-0

Mitochondria are intracellular organelles that contain a large set of proteins to help them produce energy, among other functions. A systematic analysis reveals how mitochondrial proteins are organized into complexes and assemblies, facilitating the identification of the molecular mechanisms and pathways that underlie the organelle's many functions.
A wearable ultrasound patch for continuous heart imaging

Nature, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-022-04535-1

A new ultrasound patch can image the heart while being worn, even when the wearer is moving during strenuous exercise. A customized model that uses a technique of artificial intelligence called deep learning then processes the images to extract important measures of cardiac performance.
Serine deficiency causes complications in diabetes
Is this article about Neuroscience?

Nature, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00054-9

Impaired sensory-nerve function is a common complication of diabetes. Evidence in mice indicates that deficiency of the amino acid serine causes these complications — and suggests that supplements could help to treat them.
A transient protein megacomplex that controls degradation of cell components

Nature, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-022-04538-y

Whether to self-degrade is a crucial cellular decision. When nutrients are abundant, degradation of cell components is reduced through inactivation of a protein called TFEB by the enzyme complex mTORC1. The structure of a megacomplex consisting of 36 polypeptide chains, which presents TFEB to mTORC1, has been resolved.
New transporter for recycling of bacterial cell wall found
A transporter which some bacteria use to recycle fragments of their cell wall has been discovered by researchers at Umeå university, Sweden. They found that the transporter controls resistance to certain kinds of cell-wall targeting antibiotics.
Unraveling the protein map of the cell's mitochondria
Mitochondria are responsible for the energy supply of the organism and fulfill functions in metabolic and signaling processes. Researchers at the University Hospital Bonn (UKB) and the University of Freiburg have gained systematic insight into the organization of proteins in mitochondria.
How mechanical tearing cuts neural connections in the fruit fly
Scientists from the Institute of Neuro- and Behavioral Biology at Münster University have been studying the regulated removal of neural connections in the model system of the Drosophila fruit fly. They find that mechanical forces play an important role in the process.
A Hot New Weight Loss Drug Is Rapidly Aging Users' Faces
Is this article about Recreational Drugs?

A new diabetes drug called Mounjaro, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration less than a year ago, is being hailed as one of the most sought-after weight loss drugs in recent memory among those rich enough to afford it.

"Everybody is either on it or asking how to get on it," New York dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank told The New York Times. "We haven't seen a prescription drug with this much cocktail and dinner chatter since Viagra came to the market."

Mounjaro, a once-a-week injection, is only one of several new weight loss drugs now skyrocketing in popularity. Other treatments like Ozempic make use of semaglutide, a substance hailed as a "big step forward" by some doctors, and have also seen a massive rise in prescriptions.

And that's despite of some surprising — and not so surprising — side effects. In some cases, the NYT reports, the drugs can even cause users' faces to look very different as an unintended consequence of rapid, drug-induced weight loss.

It's a particularly striking example of how the roughly $1,000-a-month weight loss treatments do come with plenty of asterisks, despite trials showing that they can in fact help diabetics lose weight. Mounjaro, for instance, can increase the risk of a rare type of thyroid cancer.

Apart from those risks, there's the risk of having your facial features become suddenly deflated as users lose a lot of body fat over a short period of time, something that has become known among professionals as "Ozempic face."

"When it comes to facial aging, fat is typically more friend than foe," New York-based plastic surgeon Oren Tepper told the newspaper. "Weight loss may turn back your biological age, but it tends to turn your facial clock forward."

"Ozempic face" is part of a greater, rapidly growing trend.

"We are seeing more and more patients on the medications coming in," Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York, told the NYT. "Generally, it's people in their 40s and 50s who are losing significant amounts of weight and are concerned about facial aging and sagging that occurs as a result."

As a result, some of these wealthy "1 percenters" are resorting to plastic surgery, including facelifts and the transferring of body fat from other parts of the body.

Then there's the fact that drugs like semaglutide will require users to take them indefinitely to keep off the pounds, a costly and risky consequence of a body-altering drug intervention.

READ MORE: Those Weight Loss Drugs May Do a Number on Your Face [The New York Times]

More on Ozempic: Doctors Are Really Psyched About This New Weight Loss Drug

The post A Hot New Weight Loss Drug Is Rapidly Aging Users' Faces appeared first on Futurism.

NASA Says Lucy Spacecraft Will Forge Ahead With Busted Solar Array
After trying and failing for over a year, NASA scientists have suspended further deployment attempts of the Lucy spacecraft's solar array.

Annoying Array

Ever since its launch in October 2021, NASA's Lucy spacecraft has struggled to fully deploy its nettlesome solar array, and not for lack of trying on behalf of its team of engineers. But now, NASA no longer thinks the troubleshooting is worth the bother and has suspended all efforts towards a full solar array deployment — for now, at least.

The issue first cropped up as soon as Lucy reached space shortly after a smooth launch, when one of its two, 24 feet wide solar arrays failed to properly unfurl and latch into place. NASA scientists have intermittently tried to resolve the issue ever since, rallying for another effort last November.

And while the array still isn't fully deployed, it's right on the precipice: by the team's estimates, the array is over 98 percent unfurled, according to a NASA update. As such, the team believes that proceeding with the mission "carries an acceptable level of risk and further deployment activities are unlikely to be beneficial at this time."

Trojan Satellite

Embarking on a 12 year long mission, Lucy ultimate's destination lies in the Trojan asteroids, a group of asteroids both leading and trailing Jupiter's orbit around the Sun. Scientists are intrigued by how these space rocks ended up in such an orbit in the first place and how the asteroids have remained in it for over four billion years — nearly the age of the entire solar system. These curious characteristics have led scientists to suspect that the Trojan asteroids may harbor illuminating secrets of our system's primitive age and its formation.

For Lucy to get there, however, takes a lot of winding up. The spacecraft recently completed its first of three planned fly-bys around Earth, culminating in a gravity assist that will propel Lucy to its first Trojan targets by 2027.

Because it's such a long journey, NASA scientists were understandably uneasy about a solar array that's not fully deployed, even if it's only off its mark by about two percent. At this point, though, further tinkering could be more wasteful than beneficial. NASA found that warmer temperatures were more productive for unfurling attempts, and Lucy is already 123 million miles away from the Sun and barreling through space at 20,000 miles per hour, getting colder and colder.

Should it still weigh on their minds, Lucy's team will have another chance for troubleshooting when the spacecraft returns for its second fly-by, but that won't be until December 2024.

More on space: Something Weird Is Happening on Saturn's Snow-Covered Moon, Scientists Say

The post NASA Says Lucy Spacecraft Will Forge Ahead With Busted Solar Array appeared first on Futurism.

A Hollywood Armorer on the Rust Shooting Charges
Is this article about Tech?

When someone is accidentally shot and killed on a film set, who is responsible: the actor holding the gun, the person who handed it to him, or the professional charged with managing the movie's weaponry? Last week, New Mexico prosecutors proposed an answer: all three.

The actor Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film's armorer—the person who manages the set's firearms and their related safety protocols—also faces charges. Meanwhile, Assistant Director Dave Halls, the person who reportedly handed Baldwin the gun moments before the incident, has taken a plea deal on a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, according to prosecutors.  Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have denied responsibility for Hutchins's death.  

I spoke with Thomas Pimentel, a Massachusetts-based armorer, twice over the phone about the charges, the state of the armorer position in the movie industry, and whether Hollywood should stop using guns on film sets altogether.

Our conversations have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Caroline Mimbs Nyce: Just right off the bat, what did you make of these charges?

Thomas Pimentel: I'm happy about it. This never should have happened. It was definitely preventable. I am married with children, and I'm an armorer. So when I hear that someone gets killed because of negligence, and they leave a mom behind and they leave children behind, it's horrible.

[Read: Why Hollywood can't quit guns]

Nobody should lose their life over make-believe. They shouldn't. You should expect a level of professionalism and safety in whatever workplace that you're in. And it was unacceptable.

Nyce: Obviously, there are multiple people being charged here. Do you have any opinion about who's responsible?

Pimentel: Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, was inexperienced. There was live ammunition on the set. That's just absurd.

And the assistant director never should have been handling any of those firearms or the props. That's the armorer's job.

Nyce: In a lawsuit, Gutierrez-Reed claims she was not in the building at the time of the shooting because she wasn't notified that a gun was being used. What do you make of that?

Pimentel: You can probably chalk that up to them having a half assed production, is what it sounds like. This sounds like another one of the many mistakes or oversights that happened on this project.

Nyce: So, in your experience, the armorer should be the only person, other than the actor, handling the gun?

Pimentel: One hundred percent. When the armorer wakes up in the morning, those guns and the ammunition should be under lock and key. Everything should have been inventoried the night before. They look at their call sheet; they know what they need. They'll normally have a cart that has the weapons for that particular scene locked up with keys that only they have on their person. They'll transport them to set when they're called to set. They'll open up those cases. For a rehearsal, a lot of times, they will bring out the guns. Now, a lot of times you can do a rehearsal without guns.

Nyce: Baldwin was rehearsing when this happened, right?

Pimentel: Right. But the thing is, if they had not used them in rehearsal and then used them in the actual scene, would he have shot her then? Who knows. But it's just another layer of protection that's put in place.

When you're ready to go, the actors stand on their marks. Firearms are called in. The armorer will walk in with the firearms and put them in the actor's hands. If they need to fire the guns, the armorer will chamber a round into whatever gun needs to be fired. And he will say "This weapon is hot" right to the actor's face. Of course, this is after your typical safety briefings that they have every single day and before every single scene is shot with firearms, to let everyone know that firearms are on set.

Nyce: According to court documents reviewed by The New York Times, Halls, the assistant director, is alleged to have announced "cold gun," indicating that the weapon did not contain live rounds. And the District Attorney who filed the charges against Baldwin claimed that the actor didn't check the gun. One of Baldwin's lawyers issued a statement maintaining that the actor "had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun—or anywhere on the movie set." The statement said Baldwin "relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds." What's your reaction to those statements?

Pimentel: So first of all, if the assistant director was the one who handed him the pistol, there was no professional involved who knew anything about firearms. So that's hugely concerning.

[Stephen Gutowski: Guns—even props—are not toys]

Baldwin has been doing this long enough. He's been in a lot of movies, action movies and things like that. If someone hands him a gun, what's stopping him from looking down and looking through that chamber and saying, "oh, I got rounds in here"? "Why are we dealing with rounds? Are they dummy rounds? Can I inspect the dummy rounds myself?" He's totally okay to ask that.

Nyce: Do you think safety is partially the actor's responsibility?

Pimentel: Of course it is. If you do a movie about Ford versus Ferrari, you're going to drive cars. You get in a race car, and you learn how to drive race cars. You do everything that you have to do to get as competent and proficient in that particular field as possible. Handling firearms is no different.

Anybody that uses guns in a movie should have to go through the exact same training and licensing process that people like me go through: background checks by the FBI, local and state police, insurance, things like that.

Nyce: Gutierrez-Reed's lawsuit alleges that Baldwin ignored a request to schedule a "cross draw training." Baldwin is not named as a defendant in Gutierrez-Reed's suit. What do you think about that allegation?

Pimentel: Anybody who's fired a real gun from a holster knows that it's not a skill that you can just pick up in an afternoon, and certainly not with an antique firearm. That is something that you practice thousands of times over and over and over again.

Nyce: But can you train someone?

Pimentel: You absolutely could. As an actor, that part of your job is to make it believable. So why wouldn't you want to give it your best foot forward?

It's funny to me how there are so many rules, especially in filmmaking. If there's going to be a candle on a table in a scene, I kid you not: They will have a briefing about the fire risk that day. And they will have a fire marshal on set for a candle. It's so amazing to me, especially nowadays, because you can do so much with technology. Everyone's seen a good flickering LED candle.

It's make-believe. I think it's part of the old Hollywood system. Ever since they've made films, they've used real guns with blanks in films. And it's just the thing that people continue to do. And believe me: There are tons of productions that still, to this day, use real guns with blanks all the time, and they do it safely. Those are the people that people should be looking at and consulting, asking, "How do you stay so safe?"

Nyce: So is it a training problem, or would you ever see a world in which they remove real guns from movies altogether?

Pimentel: (Laughs.) I don't know.

Nyce: Is that putting your profession on the line?

Pimentel: Oh, no, no. I don't do anything with blank-firing guns anymore. I stopped working with blank-firing guns probably 10 years ago.

Nyce: Why did you do that?

Pimentel: Because it's a hassle. The only guns that we use are airsoft guns and replica guns. And later on, in postproduction, we put in the smoke and the sound and the shells ejecting from the sides. That's what they're doing in films anyway. If you have a real gun on a set, a machine gun, and you're firing blanks out of it, not only do they take the sound out and put in a new sound in postproduction; they put muzzle flash. And they'll touch up the spent rounds that are coming out the side. So why would you even do all that? Well, it doesn't make any sense, right?

There's a show on CBS and Paramount+ called SEAL Team, and they show these guys having these intense firefights and explosions. They do that every week. They manage to pull all that stuff off, and they do it well and safely. So there are ways that you can do it. Does it enhance the production? It totally does. One of the best shoot-outs in movie history is this intense bank-robbery scene from the movie Heat, with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. It's an incredible scene. And one of the things that makes it so realistic is because everyone on that set, all the actors involved, can hear it. They can feel it. There is something to be said for immersing people in things like that.

I've seen it a lot, too, where you hand an actor a gun that doesn't make any noise, and they have to pretend. And a lot of these movies use airsoft guns that don't make any sounds. And the actors are supposed to be firing these guns, and no one's blinking at all. They're just standing there.

Nyce: That sounds like an acting problem.

Pimentel: Ahh, yes! Thank God somebody finally said it. You're absolutely right. Which goes back to my original point: These people are so concerned with "My character's left-handed, so I have to spend six weeks eating soup with my left hand." There are so many microscopic details that they pay attention to, and yet they gloss over firearm safety and realistic acting with firearms.

[Kimberly Wehle: The best hope for fixing America's gun crisis]

There aren't people on a film set whose job it is to come in and say, "Don't do that." It's very difficult to because of the hierarchy. An armorer can come in and handle weapons, but good luck trying to speak up when you hand an A-list celebrity a pistol, and he puts his finger on the trigger and he's not supposed to. I've been there: "You can't say anything to them in front of the rest of the crew. It'll be embarrassing."

Nyce: But that's why they hired you!

Pimentel: Well, you can say that about dozens of positions.

Nyce: Sounds like a power dynamic.

Pimentel: There's so much of that involved. Not everybody is paying attention to what they should be doing in their job. It's everywhere in every department.

Nyce: How do you design a system to protect those people from themselves and harming others?

Pimentel: Exactly. (Laughs.)

Nyce: No, I'm serious.

Pimentel: Oh, I know.

Nyce: The point of having an armorer there is for safety. If the power dynamics on set are not great and making it hard for an armorer to do their job, is it worth it to reform that job? Or should that job just not exist?

Pimentel: I think it absolutely should be reformed. Boy, I'll tell you, the contracts for working on a movie set have changed dramatically post-#MeToo, which is great.

But nothing has changed in the industry on firearm safety because of what happened with Alec Baldwin. The day that happened, people were calling for—not only did they not want guns in movies, they didn't want guns at all. All the celebrities came out, and they were tweeting about it. But they're gone now. They're on to something else, and nothing has changed.

A team of researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, working with a colleague from AS University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, has found evidence that suggests dogs, under some circumstances, are able to understand the intentions of people that they do not know. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes experiments they carried out with treats given to a variety of dogs.
ESA chief vows to restore Europe's access to space
European Space Agency
's director general says it's crucial to rebuild Europe's access to space following the botched launch of a European rocket carrying two Earth observation satellites last year and the delayed introduction of the Ariane 6 launcher.
A team of researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, working with a colleague from AS University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, has found evidence that suggests dogs, under some circumstances, are able to understand the intentions of people that they do not know. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes experiments they carried out with treats given to a variety of dogs.
Is this article about Biopharma Industry?
A team of researchers at the University of Queensland has discovered some of the mechanisms involved when bacteria become more resistant to antibacterial drugs after exposure to antidepressant drugs. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes the effects of 13 antibiotics after exposure to five kinds of antidepressants.
Is this article about Animals?
For more than 100 years, biologists have wondered why animals display different types of life cycles. Some species, like humans and most vertebrates, develop directly into a fully formed yet smaller version of an adult. In contrast, many other animals give rise to beautifully diverse intermediate forms we call larvae, which then metamorphose into the adult.
How antidepressants promote bacterial resistance to antibacterial drugs
Is this article about Biopharma Industry?
A team of researchers at the University of Queensland has discovered some of the mechanisms involved when bacteria become more resistant to antibacterial drugs after exposure to antidepressant drugs. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes the effects of 13 antibiotics after exposure to five kinds of antidepressants.
Scientists discover evolutionary secret behind different animal life cycles
For more than 100 years, biologists have wondered why animals display different types of life cycles. Some species, like humans and most vertebrates, develop directly into a fully formed yet smaller version of an adult. In contrast, many other animals give rise to beautifully diverse intermediate forms we call larvae, which then metamorphose into the adult.
AI art made me appreciate human art more

For the past few weeks I have thought a lot of about AI generated art (even dabbled a bit with stable diffusion). Initially I found it interesting, but eventually it started to make me depressed. I'm not an artist myself, I'm not even particularly creative, but even so I started to feel bad for all artists out there who spent their whole life mastering a skill, only for an algorithm to be able to do it faster and more skillfully than most of them. I have realised for a long time that more menial, repetitive professions will eventually be replaced by AI. However, I have always hoped that the result of this would be to give humans more time to engage in creative pursuits. But if AI can do creative stuff better than us, then what is the point? What is left for us to do?

But today I realised that it isn't the end result that matters. Sure, an AI may be able to create a fantastic painting beyond what even skilled artists can make. But so what? The simple drawing of a child may not be as high quality as a painting made by a famous artist. But to the parents of the child, that drawing is infinitely more valuable.

I realise that in the past, when I looked at art, I was more impressed with the "product" rather than the "process". Now when AI can make products that are of the same quality as any human artist, it means that the process is what that distinguishes the human from the machine. The inspiration of that human, their history and their limitations, and their relationships to other humans is what makes it valuable. Now when I'm looking at art I'm looking at it with different eyes, and I feel like I appreciate it much more than I did before.

The rise of AI may very well be the end of "commercial art". But maybe that is a good thing? Now we can finally focus on and value the creative aspects.

Still gonna need that UBI though…

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A research team comprised of Gi Bae Kim, Dr. So Young Choi, Dr. In Jin Cho, Da-Hee Ahn, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST have summarized the 30-year history of metabolic engineering, highlighting examples of recent progress in the field and contributions to sustainability and health. Their paper, "Metabolic engineering for sustainability and health," was published online in the 40th anniversary special issue of Trends in Biotechnology on January 10, 2023.
Social work researchers examine the health impacts of US immigration policy
Is this article about Political Science?
Immigration is one of the most controversial social and political issues in American life. Yet little attention is given to the aftermath of U.S. immigration policies or the immigrant Americans who are deported back to their country of origin. What is the resulting impact on mental and physical health disparities, both individually and at the societal level? This question is at the heart of research by scholars at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
An overview of the 30-year history of metabolic engineering
A research team comprised of Gi Bae Kim, Dr. So Young Choi, Dr. In Jin Cho, Da-Hee Ahn, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST have summarized the 30-year history of metabolic engineering, highlighting examples of recent progress in the field and contributions to sustainability and health. Their paper, "Metabolic engineering for sustainability and health," was published online in the 40th anniversary special issue of Trends in Biotechnology on January 10, 2023.
Don't lie if you're canceling plans with a friend
A woman in a blue shirt crosses her fingers behind her back.

New research finds that the worst thing you can do when you're canceling plans is lie about your reason.

The findings indicate that how cancellations are made may be more important than whether cancellations are made.

William Chopik, associate professor in Michigan State University's psychology department and lead author of the study in Collabra: Psychology, says he and colleagues talked about how most everyone struggles with canceling plans with a friend.

"Maintaining relationships with others is important to humans, but the reality is that social anxiety exists. Living out in the world—or getting prepared to do so—is exhausting, but staying home provides comfort," Chopik says. "The pandemic taught us to stay home in our safe haven, but now that the worst parts of the pandemic are hopefully over­, expectations to socialize in person are on the rise."

The large study is among the first to explore the wide variety of norms that exist around canceling plans. More than 1,100 participants were surveyed to examine how people prefer to be canceled on by a friend, the negative emotions they feel when being canceled on, and their criteria for good and bad reasons to be canceled on.

The majority of participants, 80%, said that canceling plans would not affect their friendship but that they would be upset if they learned that the reason provided was a lie.

Overall, people reported relatively low levels of distress when canceled on unless it was by a good friend. When explicitly asked how upset they would be if they were canceled on by a good or best friend, most participants said they would be moderately upset.

"The level of investment in the relationship appears to matter," Chopik says. "Being canceled on by a best friend—presumably a relationship that people have invested a great deal in—was more upsetting than being canceled on by a merely good friend or a casual acquaintance. Being canceled on by those we are close to may be more upsetting because it more clearly violates the norms of friendship and could resemble a form of social rejection."

When asked about how to go about canceling plans, almost 60% of participants stated that they would like advance notice about the cancellation and would prefer to be told in a relatively quick way, like a brief call or text.

But, surprisingly, Chopik says, only 10% of the participants expected an apology from their friend for canceling on them.

In terms of acceptable reasons for canceling, approximately half of the sample said that health or family-related excuses are the most appropriate. Work- or obligation-related excuses were also seen as appropriate by about 40% of the sample. Having an emergency or something unexpected come up was spontaneously mentioned about 25% of the time.

More than half of the participants indicated that pursuing more rewarding social events or romantic opportunities were among the worst excuses for canceling plans.

"Relationships aren't taught in the same way as social studies or biology," Chopik says. "A lot of learning happens 'on the fly' as we find ourselves in relationships and either screw things up or have successes. Socializing ourselves to be more responsive to the people in our lives is a worthy goal if we're trying to have fulfilling, long-lasting relationships. Though society offers information about how to navigate romantic relationships, little is available about navigating friendships, which also is important as more and more people find themselves single and report feeling lonelier than ever before."

Source: Michigan State University

The post Don't lie if you're canceling plans with a friend appeared first on Futurity.


Scientific Reports, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-28522-2

Author Correction: Potential fields and fluctuation-dissipation relations derived from human flow in urban areas modeled by a network of electric circuits
How Winter Storms Become Blizzards
Is this article about Gardening?
In March of 1888, areas in the Northeast received as much as 55 inches of snow over the span of a couple of days. On Feb. 5, 1978, both Boston and Providence were met with 27 inches of snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding. In Dec. 2022, Buffalo received over 55 inches of snow as a blizzard impacted nearly 60 percent of Americans. For as long as they've been recorded, blizzards have impacted the United States. As they've continued to make an impact, scientists have learned more about how these dangerous winter storms form. What is a Blizzard? It may seem like any winter storm that dumps snow on us is called a blizzard, but the requirements to classify a storm as a "blizzard" are unique. A blizzard is any winter storm that lasts at least three hours with large amounts of snow (or blowing snow), has winds of at least 35 miles per hour and has visibility of less than a quarter mile, according to the National Weather Service. Read More: Hurricanes: How These Destructive Storms Form, and Why They Get So Strong If a storm does not meet these conditions, it's not classified as a blizzard. But even if a winter storm is not labeled as a blizzard, it can still provide blizzard conditions. Winter storms may produce snow and high winds for brief periods of time, but not long enough to be considered a blizzard. Additionally, meteorologists will declare blizzard conditions in a winter storm if visibility is reduced by snow to less than a quarter mile, according to National Geographic. How Blizzards Form According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, there are three conditions necessary for a large snowstorm or blizzard to occur. First, below freezing air is necessary for snow to form. The air must be below freezing both at ground level and in the clouds. If the air is too warm near the ground, the snow will melt into rain or freezing rain. Secondly, a blizzard needs moisture, which is required to form clouds and eventually, precipitation. Moisture is key for lake effect snow and Nor'Easters. These types of storms, which are classified as blizzards, rely heavily on wind to blow across bodies of water and pick up moisture along the way. And finally, moist air must rise above cold air to form a blizzard. This can occur in two ways. If wind simultaneously pulls warm, moist air up from the equator and chilly air down from the North Pole, the moist air will rise above the cold air, creating a front. A front can also form if warm air rises a mountainside to sit atop cold air. When a storm system forms, blizzard conditions typically build up on its northwest side, due in part to the cold air blowing in from the northwest. Meanwhile, winds in a blizzard kick up due to a storm's low pressure. Beyond the storm, air pressure is higher, causing winds inside to speed up. All in all, blizzards are powerful, dangerous storms that require just the right conditions to take shape. Their blustery winds, icy temperatures and whiteout snow make traveling almost impossible. If you find yourself in a blizzard's path, it's best to hunker down until the storm is over.
Astronomers confirm age of most distant galaxy using oxygen
A new study led by a joint team at Nagoya University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan has measured the cosmic age of a very distant galaxy. The team used the ALMA radio telescope array to detect a radio signal that has been traveling for approximately 97% of the age of the universe. This discovery confirms the existence of galaxies in the very early universe found by the James Webb Space Telescope. The research is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Hackers Took Over a Subdomain of for Several Months and Replaced It With Sleazy Online Casino Content
Is this article about Tech?
Hackers have taken over a subdomain of, and used it to promote an Indonesian online casino. Wired does not appear to be able to kick them out.

Hackers involved with an Indonesian online casino appear to have taken over a subdomain on the website of 


 — and squatted there for several months.

In other words, the venerable tech magazine  which has made innumerable contributions to the coverage of online security over its decades of existence  seemed either unaware of the squatters or unable to kick them out.

Innovation Insights — located at the subdomain, which will become relevant soon — was once a "community blog" run by the Condé Nast-owned Wired, in what seems to have been an approximate answer to the contributor networks run by Forbes and HuffPo. It launched with a splash back in 2012, but seems to have fizzled out by 2015, when its editor announced in a now-archived post that it was "taking a break."

The blog never reappeared, but the long-dormant subdomain sputtered back to life late last year.

In late October of 2022, an archived snapshot shows that the subdomain suddenly became a placeholder-looking fashion blog called "WiredNext," with posts about Copenhagen Fashion Week and advice about how a "black leather bag is always trendy." Here's what it looked like at the time:



WiredNext didn't last long, though. By the Internet Archive's next snapshot, on December 4, it had attained its apparent final form: an extraordinarily sleazy site that appears to be advertising the services of an Indonesian online casino. Here's what it looked like:




Now, let's be clear. It's not the fault of the talented journalists and editors at Wired, who have produced much the best cybersecurity writing of the century, that unauthorized tenants set up some sort of sordid gambling den on a prominent part of their publication's site.

But it is arguably very funny, especially because Wired's tech team seemed to struggle to seize the subdomain back. The casino-fied version of Wired Insights appears to have been live for nearly two months without attracting much attention, and it's unclear whether anyone at Wired was even aware of the takeover until we reached out with questions yesterday (they never wrote back.)

We first reached out about the strange subdomain yesterday morning. It stayed live all day, but by this morning it was gone.

If it sounds surprising that miscreants were able to take over the subdomain of one of the internet's most storied tech outlets, cybersecurity expert Joseph Steinberg tells us that maybe it shouldn't be.

"These are sophisticated, professional, trained people who are doing this," Steinberg told us. "They understand the vulnerabilities and they understand how networking actually occurs, how routing actually occurs."

He says that what almost certainly happened is that clever hackers hijacked Domain Name Service (DNS) records, which are basically a naming system that translates easily readable domain names like — or — into machine-readable IP addresses.

"Somebody has gone into DNS records," Steinberg said, "and has pointed it somewhere else."

In particular, Steinberg suggested the hackers may have used "domain shadowing" to hijack Wired's DNS, a phenomenon that experts say has gained significant traction in recent years. Basically, according to Bleeping Computer, it's an attack in which "threat actors compromise the DNS of a legitimate domain to host their own subdomains for use in malicious activity but do not modify the legitimate DNS entries that already exist."

It's "not a new form of attack," Steinberg said, but one that's still managed to evade improving security protocols.

As to why they may have targeted Innovation Insights? That may be a clue as to the hackers' motives as well.

Subdomains of otherwise trustworthy entities — like Wired — make for a particularly sought-after target for DNS hackers. And if it was a subdomain that already existed, and hence has already worked its way into Google's map of the web? Even better.

"If I'm a criminal, and I register, and it never existed, and somehow hacked the DNS to put it in, then it's a new subdomain, so I may pick up some credibility from the fact that it's a subdomain off of Wired," he wrote. "But if it's an old site, then for sure, I'm gonna get credibility, because it probably has many things linking to it already."

In other words, it's likely a search engine optimization play: the hackers are hoping that Google's web crawler will see a page on Wired, a domain with high authority, pointing to the casino and assume that it should rank well in searches.

"These are all attempts to use somebody else's brand name, somebody else's infrastructure that was created in the past, someone else's SEO benefit from content they created, somebody else's credibility," Steinberg said.

At the end of the day, he says, it's just the latest example of how the web is strung together on ancient systems that have been updated in a haphazard manner. Vulnerabilities slip through, and even a company with the immense resources of Condé Nast can get taken.

"I mean, the systems that manage the infrastructure of the internet were not created with security in mind, right?" Steinberg asked. "It was created for universities and researchers, who are still using the same systems."

"Yes, they've been amended and added on and all that, but the inherent design of the internet was not made for this," Steinberg said.

More on cybersecurity: The TSA's Entire No Fly List Appears to Have Just Leaked 

The post Hackers Took Over a Subdomain of for Several Months and Replaced It With Sleazy Online Casino Content appeared first on Futurism.

Can majoring in cogsci be helpful if you want to get a job surrounding exercise science/physiology?
Is this article about Neuroscience?

Hi, I'm currently in high school and trying to decide what I want to do in college/the future. I recently came across cogsci as a major and got really interested in it. I've always wondered why people do what they do and the brain is fascinating! I'd rather do the psychology/philosophy route than the neuro/computer science just because of my interests. However, I'd really like to use a cogsci major in a exercise field like being a trainer or an exercise psychologist. I would try to minor in some sort of physiology along with this major. Is a cogsci major helpful to hopefully find a job like that? Help!

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19th-century railway made Swedish villages and towns greener, says researcher
Is this article about Gardening?
Construction of the main railway lines in Sweden included a large-scale garden project. Parks and kitchen gardens were built around the new stations, and long hedges were planted along the railways. A new dissertation from the University of Gothenburg describes how this came to be and explains why almost all of these cultivated areas are now gone.
Legume plants do not depend on externally supplied nitrogen, because they can form a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, called rhizobia. The plants recognize the nitrogen-fixing bacteria and allow them to colonize specially formed organs called nodules. It has been known for many years that there are two Nod factor receptors, NFR1 and NFR5, which are responsible for recognizing the signaling molecules secreted by rhizobia. But how the receptors work together in signaling complexes was unknown until now.
Expert: Fake meat won't have a huge eco impact
Is this article about ESG?
man stands at podium with arm outstretched under "Beyond Meat" sign

Plant-based and lab-grown meat substitutes aren't likely to eliminate livestock agriculture's climate and land use impacts anytime soon, says environmental scientist David Lobell.

"…if I had money to invest in this space I'd probably put it into a decent cheese replacement."

Investors have poured billions of dollars into the meat alternatives sector to kickstart technologies that produce protein with ingredients such as peas, soybeans, mushrooms, and lab-grown animal cells. Regardless, policymakers would do well to focus on ways to dramatically reduce emissions of animal-based systems, says Lobell, director of Stanford University's Center on Food Security and the Environment and professor of earth system science in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

Lobell teaches a popular undergraduate course called "Re-Thinking Meat," which assesses alternative protein sources and strategies for feeding a growing global population.

Here, Lobell discusses opportunities for shrinking agriculture's environmental impacts, his hope for better-tasting cheese alternatives, and more:

The post Expert: Fake meat won't have a huge eco impact appeared first on Futurity.

Why the French Want to Stop Working

If you want to understand why the French overwhelmingly oppose raising their official retirement age from 62 to 64, you could start by looking at last week's enormous street protest in Paris.

Retirement before arthritis read one handwritten sign. Leave us time to live before we die said another. One elderly protester was dressed ironically as "a banker" with a black top hat, bow tie, and cigar—like the Mr. Monopoly mascot of the board game. "It's the end of the beans!" he exclaimed to the crowd, using a popular expression to mean that pension reform is the last straw.

President Emmanuel Macron won reelection easily last year, partly on a promise to overhaul this system, though his party lost its parliamentary majority soon after. At first glance, his argument for changing France's retirement rules seems like simple math: The French are living far longer than they used to, so there aren't enough workers currently paying into the system to cover the pension checks going out to all these retirees.  

France is not alone with this problem. Rich countries everywhere are facing similar demographic challenges, and pushing up their retirement ages to cope. The advocates of reform in France should have more room to maneuver than most, because retirements here last an average of about 25 years, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That's among the longest in Europe, where retirements even out at about 22 years, and well above the average retirement duration in the United States, where people now live for about 16 years after they stop working (measured from when most Americans start collecting Social Security, at 63).

Yet this fiscal math has convinced hardly anyone here in France. In a recent national survey, 80 percent of respondents opposed Macron's proposal, including adults of all ages and socioeconomic groups, as did a slight majority among members of Macron's own political party.

Why have the French dug in their heels on this seemingly necessary, perhaps unavoidable reform?   

[Pamela Druckerman: Where France differs on abortion]

Part of the answer is that they already made a concession on the pension age, and not so long ago. In 2010, the right-wing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded in raising it from 60 to 62—despite fierce street protests. Another age hike faces even more determined opposition.

The larger picture, though, is that the French have their own distinct conception of work and retirement, which is still winning. As an American, I find their perspective both jarring and refreshing. It deserves a hearing among those of us who don't often encounter it, and probably don't agree with it.   

Although France is a successful capitalist country, its population is skeptical of unimpeded free markets. In a 2019 national poll, about two-thirds of respondents said they had a "pretty bad" or "very bad" opinion of capitalism. France's once-powerful Communist Party is now a minor political player, but it was in a government coalition as recently as the late 1990s and retains some presence—the party still counts about a dozen deputies in the National Assembly and hundreds of mayors, mostly of small cities.

Amid the skepticism about market economics lies a broader French tendency to frame political issues as a battle between owners and employees. That's especially prevalent among sympathizers of both the far left and the far right, which, combined, won 45 percent in the first round of last year's presidential vote. In that 2019 opinion survey, 81 percent of far-left voters held negative views of capitalism, and 72 percent of far-right voters did.

The fiery politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who heads the far-left party La France Insoumise, has called for France to lower its retirement age back to 60. When the billionaire businessman Elon Musk tweeted his support for Macron's pension reform last week, Mélenchon retorted: "Choose your side. Capital or labor."

Billionaires like Musk get some flak in the U.S., of course. But when my kids were learning to read, American friends sent them admiring children's biographies of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. In 2016, the U.S. made a would-be billionaire its president—we tend to see entrepreneurs as aspirational figures who have earned their loot.  

In France, however, the well-off and their perceived allies are the villains. Hence Mr. Monopoly. In a 2020 national poll, 82 percent of those surveyed said rich people were not well regarded, mostly because of the perception that they try to avoid taxes.

Macron himself is pejoratively called the "president of the rich" because of his nearly four-year stint at a French investment bank. Then practically his first act as president in 2017 was to abolish the "wealth tax," an annual fee on net assets above 1.3 million euros ($1.4 million)—a move meant to encourage rich people to return to France. (He in fact replaced the old tax with a new one on real-estate holdings with a net value above 1.3 million euros, but that got far less press.)

[Read: Macron shouldn't misinterpret his mandate]

Macron soon also signed a law that made it easier for companies to fire people—and did not help his cause when, shortly afterward, he told an unemployed gardener that he need only "cross the street" to find a job in a hotel, café, or restaurant. A French TV show then tracked the young man as he crossed lots of streets and failed to find a job. (In Macron's defense, unemployment in France has fallen since then.)

The protesters' other main target at last week's march was Bernard Arnault, head of the French luxury-goods conglomerate LVMH and currently the world's richest man, having relieved the Twitter-distracted Musk of that title. My retirement will be fine read one mock quote on another protester's sign, next to Arnault's picture. It might as well have said Let them eat cake.

In the pension debate, all of this translates into a belief that the government wants workers to absorb the pain, while sparing the wealthy. "The money is there; it just always goes to the same people," said a 40-year-old nurse I spoke with at the demonstration. He argued that France could easily pay for the pensions "by balancing out the money between the more and less rich."

"There's an idea that the changes should be made exclusively to the detriment of workers," says Dominique Méda, a sociology professor at Paris Dauphine–PSL University who studies attitudes toward work. "This is all happening amid the announcement of enormous dividends and the crazy rise in the fortunes of billionaires. It makes people angry."

Another factor, she says, is the workplace culture in France: Many people enter jobs expecting to be useful and find personal satisfaction, but according to her research, "employees too often say that they don't serve any purpose, that they're invisible, they're pawns. And for many, this obviously explains their desire to quit working as quickly as possible."

Their solution is to band together against another authority, the state. Last week's march and nationwide strike—the largest of Macron's tenure—unusually united all of France's major trade unions.

The protesters seemed disgruntled with their lot, but when I told a group of them that I'm American, they gasped and said Oh, là là.

"I would never go live there, absolutely not," said another nurse, a 47-year-old mother of three. "We Europeans, what we understand is that everything there is based on money, cash. There's no solidarity. And it's a shame." In France, she said, "the guy that gets up in the morning and cleans the streets, we're grateful to him, too."

[Read: The case for raising the retirement age]

Some members of the professional class also express solidarité with those in difficult blue-collar jobs. "These workers are the ones that France applauded during COVID," wrote Cécile Prieur, the executive editor of the center-left newsweekly L'Obs, in a recent editorial. "They're also the ones with among the lowest life expectancies, who thus lose any real chance to enjoy a long retirement, in good health." Everyone deserves "the elementary justice of a decent retirement," she concluded.

In fact, the math of a 25-year pension does not necessarily favor the retirement-age hawks. The state currently spends 14 percent of GDP on public-sector pensions, compared with the 7 percent, on average, spent by other rich countries, according to the OECD. But a 2022 report by a government advisory group forecasts that, as France's economy grows in the coming decades, the percentage of government spending on pensions won't need to increase much, and will eventually stabilize or even decline.

The French have not always had such high hopes for their retirement. In the 1960s, stopping work was considered a "social death," wrote Vincent Caradec, a French sociologist who studies aging. Most workers at the time were men, who generally retired at age 65, then died at 70.  

That began to change when, in 1982, the Socialist President François Mitterrand lowered the retirement age from 65 to 60. By the late 1990s, the nature of employment and life expectancy had changed so much that many people could expect 20-year stretches after they stopped working. This brought the idea that retirement should be a time of personal fulfillment and self-actualization—the so-called third age of life. (The whole phenomenon led the French journalist Danièle Laufer to write a book about the identity crisis some suffer when, after idealizing what retirement will be like, they suddenly face the reality of all that free time. "I compare it to the crisis of adolescence," she says.)

A long retirement for all came to be seen as a basic right and a fact of life. French seniors are everywhere in Paris: roaming museums and supermarkets at midday, and hosting their grandchildren for week-long school holidays. "We're very attached to our social model," says Méda, the sociologist.

That sentiment was on display at the march, where a protester held a placard warning Métro, boulot, caveau, or "Train, work, tomb," a mordant play on the French expression Métro, boulot, dodo, about the daily grind: "Train, work, sleep." I passed a young woman holding a cheeky sign demanding retirement at age 20: We need time to screw!

They mostly have it already. Although the headline retirement age here is 62, most French people retire just over a year earlier. Some have lost jobs in their 50s, can't get rehired, and drop out of the labor market entirely (raising the retirement age would be an extra burden for them, after their unemployment benefits run out). Others belong to so-called special-regime categories of workers, which include air-traffic controllers, priests, ballet dancers, and others, who are allowed to get their pensions much earlier.

All of this entitlement doesn't seem excessive to the French. On the contrary, they regard it as civilized and humane. For all the system's deficits and failings, the French believe that they have something precious and that "national solidarity," as they call it, requires them to assemble in its defense. "For health, for education, for retirement, we know that we're privileged and we want to protect this," explained another nurse, aged 56.  

All of the opposition has already softened the government's position. Macron initially wanted to raise the retirement age to 65. A minister, Gabriel Attal, said this week that he's open to suggestions for how to "enrich" the government's proposal, and tried to claim the "national solidarity" mantle himself by saying the reforms are meant "to save our system" and, above all, benefit "those who toil." (He told this to Le Parisien, a daily newspaper owned by Arnault's LVMH.)

The government plans to send the measure to the National Assembly in early February, and it could go to a vote before the end of April. If that fails, Macron might try to push his plan through by presidential decree.

Meanwhile, the labor unions that organized last week's march and strike plan to hold another national shutdown on January 31.

Oh, là là.

Why Are Toy Commercials Still Like This?

Last month, I ran a tiny media experiment in my own home: I recorded all of the toy commercials that my 3-year-old daughter watched in a one-week period, looking for patterns in how she was being advertised to. What I saw in those 28 ads was like something dreamed up in a Mad Men–era boardroom: girls preparing plastic food, boys gripping monster-themed action figures. Researchers told me that such gendered toy marketing shapes how kids play—and what they learn.

Across the roughly eight hours of content we watched together—all of it Nickelodeon programs aimed at kids 2 and older—68 percent of the toy commercials foregrounded either only girls or only boys playing with the product. The all-girl commercials tended to use pastel colors, or pinks and purples; they mostly advertised dolls and plush toys, and products related to beauty and fashion. The all-boy commercials, in contrast, drew on colors such as yellow, green, red, and blue. Many of them promoted toys based on characters from video games—a Mario action figure, for instance, was tasked with rescuing Princess Peach—or toys related to transportation or adventure.

About 32 percent of the ads featured both boys and girls, but even some of those relied on lazy gender stereotypes. One advertisement for a kids' camera showed boys playing with a blue version and girls playing with a pink one.

[Read: The princess revolution]

This clear gender divide doesn't reflect how my daughter actually likes to play. Her Christmas gifts included a pop-up soccer goal, a Spider-Man costume, and a purple, sparkly unicorn dress—and she loved all of them. Rather than limiting her to conventional "girls' toys"—baby dolls, pink play ovens, tea sets—my husband and I let her form her own tastes. This isn't a heroic or even unusual stance: In one 2017 Pew Research poll, 76 percent of respondents said it's a good thing for parents to encourage their daughters to play with toys associated with boys; 64 percent said the same about encouraging boys to play with toys associated with girls. But toy companies apparently haven't gotten the memo.

Admittedly, my analysis isn't very scientific; it only shows what one toddler saw in a given week. And it doesn't take into account the chaotic advertising environment where many kids now watch programming—YouTube. In some ways, toy marketing is less gendered now than in the past: Big-box retailers such as Target are doing away with pink and blue toy aisles, and brands such as Disney no longer explicitly categorize their products as "for girls" or "for boys." But researchers told me that many toys are still packaged and marketed using implicitly gendered cues—and kids still pick up on those associations. Lisa Dinella, a psychology professor at Monmouth University who researches toys and gender, puts it this way: "If a kid watches a commercial where a little girl is nurturing a doll and there's not a boy to be seen, that's sending them the message that this toy is for girls."

I certainly don't mind my daughter playing with toys that are stereotypically associated with girls; I wouldn't want to overcorrect and deprive her of the fun and learning those toys offer. But I hope that when she uses them, it's not at the expense of all other toys. Really, I just want her to be able to decide how she plays without excessive influence. I want that for all kids.

After all, decades of early-childhood-development research have shown that a toy isn't simply a toy. "Play leads to learning, and learning leads to life choices," Dinella told me. So when entire categories of toys feel off-limits to kids of a particular gender, they are denied the developmental opportunities those toys provide. Boys, for example, are more likely than girls to play with building blocks and puzzles—and research suggests that that kind of play might be linked to gender differences in spatial abilities. Girls, for their part, are more likely to play with toys such as dolls, which may be associated with social skills like comforting—skills that most parents want to foster in their children, regardless of their gender.

[Read: How to play like a girl]

Christia Spears Brown, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky who studies how children learn stereotypes, points out that the toys themselves aren't inherently gendered. Marketing them in a gendered way, though, is an effective strategy for toy brands. For one thing, it allows them to create slightly different versions of what is essentially the same toy. Take that camera sold in blue and pink: If you have a son and a daughter, you might feel that you're on the hook to buy one of each rather than a single one for them to share. That's a common tactic, Brown told me. And more broadly, advertising campaigns tend to be successful when they target highly specific audiences.

That's the crux of the issue: It doesn't really matter what parents say they want for their kids, or what research tells us might be best for them. "The goal of toy manufacturers isn't to promote healthy child development; their goal is to sell products," Susan Linn, a psychologist and the founder of Fairplay, a nonprofit advocating against advertising directed at children, told me. "Companies gender-stereotype because it's lucrative."

What's a parent to do in response to a multibillion-dollar toy industry? Stopping kids from seeing gendered commercials feels like swimming against the tide. Rather than trying to censor the content, Brown thinks we'd be better off educating our kids. "Instead of giving them blinders, give them a shield," she told me, "so that they can interpret it as a stereotyped message instead of interpreting it as 'Oh, this is the way things are supposed to be.'"

Even parents of very young children can use that approach. I told Brown about one particularly irksome commercial for a toy nail salon that featured tween girls in pink and sequins. Just a few weeks before we watched it, my nephew had proudly showed his multicolored nails to my daughter. Now, I wondered, would she think nail-painting wasn't for him? She's at a formative age, just starting to pick up on the concept of gender. But Brown reassured me: You don't need to have a conversation "about the patriarchy" with a 3-year-old. She suggested just slipping in short statements at opportune times. I could have said, for instance, "I bet boys would also like to paint their nails!'"

Plenty of parents, she pointed out, already take little moments to introduce their kids to big concepts—kindness, respect, resilience. Grown-ups can also provide antidotes to harmful marketing messages "in microdoses, to help kids understand the world in which they're living."

Unveiling the spectrum of electrohydrodynamic turbulence in dust storms

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36041-x

Electrohydrodynamic features of dust storm turbulence have puzzled scientists for over a hundred years. Here, the authors reveal the characteristics of the multifield spectra in dust storms using a combined observational and theoretical approach.
Stor dansk kortlægning: Markante skift i medicinsk diabetesbehandling siden 2005
Forskere har kortlagt, hvordan forbruget af medicin til personer med type 2-diabetes har ændret sig fra 2005 og frem til i dag. Der er sket sindssygt meget, og det har helt ændret på den måde, som praktiserende læger og hospitaler skal gå til opgaven med at behandle personer med type 2-diabetes, siger forskere.
The Download: a brain implant breakthrough, and China tech reflections

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

An ALS patient set a record for communicating via a brain implant

The news: Eight years ago, a patient lost her power of speech because of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, which causes progressive paralysis. Now, after volunteering to receive a brain implant, the woman has been able to rapidly communicate phrases at a rate approaching normal speech.

Why it matters: Even in an era of keyboards, thumb-typing, emojis, and internet abbreviations, speech remains the fastest form of human-to-human communication. The scientists from Stanford University say their volunteer smashed previous records by using the brain-reading implant to communicate at a rate of 62 words a minute, three times the previous best. 

What's next: Although the study has not been formally reviewed, experts have hailed the results as a significant breakthrough. The findings could pave the way for experimental brain-reading technology to leave the lab and become a useful product soon. Read the full story.

—Antonio Regalado


Resolving to live the Year of the Rabbit to the fullest

By Zeyi Yang, China reporter

This past Sunday was the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday for Chinese and several other Asian cultures. It's supposed to be an opportunity for us to reset and seize new opportunities.

In that spirit, I've recently revisited some of my favorite China-focused MIT Technology Review stories from the last year and gone back to the people I interviewed. I asked them whether they'd resolved any troubling challenges, and what they're hoping for in the Year of the Rabbit. 

I'm very grateful to everyone who has let me tell their stories—which I hope have helped all of us understand more about tech and China and, more broadly, the people around us. Read the full story.

Zeyi's story is from China Report, his weekly newsletter covering all the major happenings in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.


The must-reads

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

1 Germany and the US are sending tanks to Ukraine
They could help to usher in a turning point in the war with Russia. (BBC)
Ukraine's anti-corruption agency is stepping up its efforts. (The Guardian)

2 The US Justice Department is suing Google (again)
It's accusing the company of abusing its dominance in the digital advertising market. (Vox)
It's unlikely it would ever actually break Google up, though. (Ars Technica)
Google is axing its spam exemption measures for political emails. (WP $)

3 Ticketmaster blamed a cyberattack for its Taylor Swift fiasco
But senators think its stranglehold on the ticket market is the real cause. (Bloomberg $)
Ticketmaster is the definition of a ticketing superpower. (Vox)

4 Crypto bank Silvergate is tanking 
To the point that its future is now in serious doubt. (NY Mag $)
What's next for crypto. (MIT Technology Review)

5 China is the world leader in facial recognition tech exports  
Experts are worried the intrusive software can fuel human rights violations. (Wired $)

6 Amazon has warned staff not to share secrets with ChatGPT
It's not clear how the system uses confidential company data. (Insider $)

7 How Nextdoor became a breeding ground for housing hostility
Neighbors quickly become enemies in a "permanent online cage match." (Motherboard)

8 Artificial skin senses objects better than humans
It can even discern the kind of material it's made of. (New Scientist $)

9 Meet the daters using questionnaires to screen potential matches
Champions say it helps them weed out romantic time-wasters. (The Guardian)
Here's how the net's newest matchmakers help you find love. (MIT Technology Review)

10 Online marketplace Zazzle is locked in a font war
The popular font "Blooming Elegant" is at the heart of it. (Slate $)


Quote of the day

"The way that artists are embracing crazy capitalist, hyper-technology culture is just really disheartening."

—Art student Marla Chinbat explains why she finds the generative AI boom so depressing to Motherboard.


The big story

The next act for messenger RNA could be bigger than covid vaccines

February 2021

Many covid vaccines used a previously unproven technology based on messenger RNA. They were built and tested in under a year, thanks to discoveries made 20 years earlier.

In the near future, researchers believe, shots that deliver temporary instructions into cells could lead to vaccines against herpes and malaria, better flu vaccines, and, if the covid-19 germ keeps mutating, updated coronavirus vaccinations, too.

But researchers also see a future well beyond vaccines. They think the technology will permit cheap gene fixes for cancer, sickle-cell disease, and maybe even HIV. Read the full story.

—Antonio Regalado


We can still have nice things

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

+ But what about their future crimes?
+ Who sells a life-sized dinosaur on Facebook? This guy, that's who.
+ Now this is some AI art I can get onboard with (thanks Will!)
+ If you're been trying to carve out more time to be creative, here's some tips on how to solidify it into a habit.
Sardines may have a bad rep, but there's so much you can do with them.

Why no one wants to eat the giant velvet mite
red velvety mite with white rings on legs and white blotches on body

Virtually no one wants to eat the elusive giant velvet mite, research finds. This suggests the mites have to deal with few, if any, predators.

"I thought, 'Well, I'm a generalist predator. I should just try one myself.'"

They're velvety, red, pea-sized, and they scurry across the ground in the desert Southwest after torrential rainstorms. According to the "King of Sting" Justin Schmidt, an adjunct scientist with the University of Arizona entomology department, giant velvet mites are such elusive creatures that little is known about them.

Schmidt and his wife, Li Schmidt, report their findings on the giant velvet mites in the Journal of Arachnology.

Here Justin Schmidt talks about the surprising discoveries he made by observing the tiny arachnids, pitting them against predators and even tasting them:

The post Why no one wants to eat the giant velvet mite appeared first on Futurity.

Mexican immigrant experience varies by skin tone
eight crayons in range of skin tones

Skin tone shapes the experiences of Mexican immigrants in Atlanta and Philadelphia, research finds.

While racism is often a focus of concern in the United States, skin tone—separate but related to race—plays a lesser known but important role in discrimination, according to the findings.

The study finds that Mexican immigrants with darker skin tones perceived greater racial discrimination and more frequent discrimination specifically from US-born whites than did Mexican immigrants with lighter skin tones. Those same people with darker skin tones also reported more negative responses to that discrimination, such as pulling inward and struggling internally.

The research, published in Social Psychology Quarterly, also shows that darker skin tone is nearly as strong of a predictor of such increased inner struggle as lack of documentation status.

"Skin tone is uniquely related to how Mexican immigrants are understanding their interactions with and treatment by US-born whites, even after controlling for a range of other demographic and immigration-specific factors," says study leader Helen B. Marrow, an associate professor of sociology at Tufts University.

Colorism is distinct from racism in that it describes mistreatment based on skin tone rather than ethnic or racial category. For example, two people may both be of the same ethnicity or race, but one may perceive more frequent discrimination due to a darker skin tone.

Ellis Monk, an associate professor of sociology at Harvard University who was not involved in the research, says the new study is an "important extension" of burgeoning research on skin tone and discrimination.

"Trying to get more understanding around how people deal with discrimination is really important," he says. He adds that "when people feel themselves to be disrespected, it has negative physiological responses for the person that can actually lead them to be physically ill over time."

The study surveyed 500 foreign-born Mexican immigrants living in 10 counties of metropolitan Atlanta and Philadelphia, and asked participants to identify their own skin tone on a scale of one to seven, with one being "very light," seven being "very dark," and four being "medium." While such measurements are subjective, Marrow says that could be an advantage. "It captures something about how people understand themselves," she says.

Next, participants described the discrimination they'd experienced in their city since moving there, including questions about how often, where, and by whom they'd been treated well or poorly. The survey also asked participants to identify their typical responses to poor treatment, which could range from defending themselves to reporting the treatment to ignoring the discrimination altogether.

Not only were darker-skinned Mexican participants more likely to perceive discrimination from US-born whites relative to lighter-skinned respondents, but skin tone was a stronger predictor of this outcome than participants' self-described ethnic or racial identity. The predictive results were similar in both metro areas, even as respondents in Atlanta reported higher levels of discrimination.

Participants with darker skin tones were also more likely to report responding to discrimination by struggling internally but not outwardly saying anything.

According to Marrow, this response to colorism might raise health concerns, which warrants further study.

Both metro areas included in the study are considered "new immigrant destinations" for Mexicans, or areas of the country that began to see an influx of Mexican immigration only after the 1980s. Marrow says sociologists don't yet know as much about the role skin tone plays in the lived experiences of Mexicans in these new immigrant gateways, while much more research has been done on skin tone among Chicanos and Mexican Americans living in Texas and the Southwest.

One possible factor contributing to the results, according to Marrow, is that the racialization of Latinos living in new immigrant destinations has intensified over the past two decades, especially in the US South, where Atlanta is located. This means that Mexican immigrants' place within local racial hierarchies has become more strongly racialized than scholars typically documented before 2000, likely affecting their perceptions of their interactions with the US-born.

Marrow says the research, conducted with colleagues at Indiana University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of the first to examine immigrants' perceptions of discrimination in new destinations using measures of race/ethnicity and skin tone together in the same study, and to do so with a large, representative sample.

"The big implication of this is that social scientists should pay more attention to skin tone variation within our studies of race-based discrimination," she says.

Source: Grace van Deelen for Tufts University

The post Mexican immigrant experience varies by skin tone appeared first on Futurity.

What happens when sperm and egg donors lose the right to anonymity?
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • The UK is one of only a handful of countries to ban anonymous donors.
In the UK and New Zealand, people conceived using donated sperm, eggs or embryos who turn 18 this year will be able to learn the identity of their donors – but it is unclear how many will want to
Is this article about ESG?


(Image: Fmartin/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)
As the world comes to terms with the realities of climate change, the pressure to adopt more renewable energy is unavoidable. However, the sun isn't always shining, and the wind isn't always blowing. Worst of all, our ability to store that energy for the cold, still nights is still woefully inadequate. There may be a solution, and it's not a fancy new technology—it's a new take on something decades old. A team from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has developed a plan to create a network of super-efficient gravity batteries that could store tens of terawatt-hours of power.


Humanity has been harnessing small amounts of energy from gravity for centuries—technically, the pendulum clock is a primitive gravity battery. In the 20th century, scientists developed pumped-storage hydroelectricity, which uses elevated water reservoirs to store gravitational potential energy. Several of these facilities exist around the world now, but most areas don't have enough water or the right terrain to make it work. The IIASA proposal for Underground Gravity Energy Storage (UGES) would use something we already have in spades: abandoned mine shafts.

A UGES stores energy when it's plentiful—for example, when the sun is shining on a solar power plant. A heavy container of sand or rocks would be suspended in the previously abandoned mine shaft with an electric motor raising it to the top. As long as the bucket remains at the top of the shaft, the energy isn't going anywhere. When power generation drops, the grid can harvest power from the UGES by letting the vessel drop back down. The UGES would use regenerative brakes on the cabling, similar to the way electric cars extend their range when you apply the brakes. Unlike batteries, all of which lose power via self-discharge over long periods, sand always has the same mass, and we're not going to run out of gravity.


According to IIASA's Julian Hunt, mine closures often result in economic hardship for the communities that came to rely on them for jobs. However, a mine already has most of the infrastructure needed to become a gravity battery, so the IIASA plan could be a cost-effective way to ease hardship and rapidly expand energy storage.

There are millions of abandoned mines around the world that would potentially work for UGES, with most of them concentrated in China, India, Russia, and the US (where there are more than 550,000 of them). The IIASA claims investment costs would range from 1 to 10 USD/kWh, and the potential energy storage could be as high as 70 terawatt-hours. That's enough to power the entire planet for 24 hours. That is, of course, a best-case scenario. Even a tenth of that, which is the low end of the estimated range, could be a big help as the world transitions to renewables.

Now read:

Decision level integration of unimodal and multimodal single cell data with scTriangulate

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36016-y

Single-cell genomics has expanded to measure diverse molecular modalities within the same cell. Here the authors provide a computational framework called scTriangulate to integrate cluster annotations from diverse independent sources, algorithms, and modalities to define statistically stable populations.
The Problematic Arrival of Anti-Obesity Drugs
Leo has found 3 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article
Fat activists say they're tools of coercion. Celebrities are taking them to get slim. Is this really the road people want to go down?
Looking to get into Natural Language Processing as a career

I (27M) am a B2C Copywriter looking to transition careers into National Language Processing.

I, like potentially a lot of Creative types think that AI will probably replace or massively water down my role and now my current mindset is "Well, if you can't beat them, join them".

I was wondering what the best place(s) to start would be I.e. courses, skills, projects I could work on outside of work to try and build up a skillset/portfolio of work. Thanks!

submitted by /u/Zarathuuustra
[link] [comments]
Is this article about Space?

We know that the sun is just one of more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, but we don't know much about most of the stars outside our corner of the cosmos. That's starting to change, thanks to projects like the DECaPS2 survey. Astronomers working on that initiative have just released a new stellar catalog featuring an incredible 3.32 billion stars. It's the largest star map ever, and it's still just a fraction of what's out there.

The DECaPS2 project uses the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), a 520-megapixel imager on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope. It was originally built to carry out the Dark Energy Survey, which wrapped up in 2019. The instrument has also been available to astronomers conducting other work, including the DECaPS2 survey. The first data sets were released in 2017, and with the latest update, the star map covers 6.5% of the sky and 130 degrees. That's 13,000 times the angular area of the full moon when viewed from Earth.

Lead author of the new paper, Andrew Saydjari says that the key to DECaPS2's success is not a wealth of observation time. Rather, the survey has been able to generate its enormous star map because the team focused on the hard problem of studying the dense starfields in the galactic plane. "We simply pointed at a region with an extraordinarily high density of stars and were careful about identifying sources that appear nearly on top of each other," Saydjari says.


A low-resolution image of the DECaPS2 data is overlaid on an image showing the full sky. The callout box is a full-resolution view of a small portion of the DECaPS2 data.

The DECam was a perfect instrument to take on the challenge of diving into the densest part of the galaxy. It operates in the near-infrared part of the spectrum, allowing it to see past the clouds of dust and gas that obscure observations in the visual spectrum. When combined with images from Pan-STARRS 1 observatory, it is possible to create a 3D map of the Milky Way's disk, providing previously impossible insight into the structure of stars and the interstellar medium.

The datasets collected by the survey are available for download on the project's site, which is part of the National Science Foundation's NOIRLab. There's also a web-based viewer for the image data, which lets you zoom in on any region scanned by the DECam. And you can keep zooming. It really drives home the staggering level of detail captured by the DECaPS2 project.

Now read:

France under pressure to save dolphins from trawlers
Hundreds of dolphins are washing up on France's Atlantic coast and thousands more are believed killed in fishermen's nets each year, as environmentalists and Brussels pressure the government to protect the marine mammals.
Familjerelationer avgörande för äldre i extrem fattigdom

För äldre personer utan inkomster är relationer ofta avgörande för trygghet och välbefinnande. Men ofta blir de försummade och lever isolerade från samhället, visar en avhandling som studerat äldres livsvillkor i Bangladesh.

Inlägget Familjerelationer avgörande för äldre i extrem fattigdom dök först upp på

Epigenetic and transcriptional regulations prime cell fate before division during human pluripotent stem cell differentiation

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36116-9

Many stem cells exhibit cell division coupled to differentiation, though the changes occurring between consecutive cell divisions have been difficult to study. Here they use synchronized hPSC culture to show that production of transcription factors and epigenetic changes are linked with cell division timing.
Resolving to live the Year of the Rabbit to the fullest
Is this article about Business?

China Report is MIT Technology Review's newsletter about technology developments in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

This past Sunday was the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday for Chinese and several other Asian cultures. It's difficult to celebrate this holiday with China Report readers, as I originally planned, when I know many people are still grieving and scared from the mass shootings that have happened over the past few days—first on New Year's Eve in Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian city not far from Los Angeles, and then in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, on Monday afternoon. 

But the Lunar New Year is also supposed to be an opportunity for us to reset and seize new opportunities. And I hope that, like me, you are preserving the sorrow, rage, and joy from the past year in your memory and letting it guide you on a new adventure to change the world and stop tragedies like these from happening again.

In that spirit, I've recently revisited some of my favorite China-focused MIT Technology Review stories from the last year and gone back to the people I interviewed. I asked them: As the new year begins, have the challenges that once troubled you been resolved? Have you stuck to the goals you set in 2022? What are you planning and hoping for in the Year of the Rabbit? 

I'm very grateful to everyone who has let me tell their stories—which I hope have helped all of us understand more about tech and China and, more broadly, the people around us. So here's China Report's Lunar New Year check-in with four of these individuals. 

Liu Yang, the robotaxi driver in Beijing

Since we talked in the summer of 2022, Liu Yang had briefly stepped out of his robotaxi. Baidu, his employer, was permitted to test self-driving taxis in Beijing's Shougang Park without any safety operators like Liu onboard. So he moved to working in the ground crew, checking on the vehicles in between rides and troubleshooting any issues.

But this month, he got behind the wheel again, this time in the robotaxis transporting Baidu employees between two of the company's main office buildings in the city, a 15-minute ride. His riders these days are less curious about the car, since they were the ones who developed the self-driving technology. But he's still talking shop often; as one of the most senior employees in the 10-driver team shuttling employees, Liu often teaches the newcomers how to adjust to the role of a robotaxi driver. 

"This year, I don't have many big plans for my personal life. I just want to do my job right," Liu says. For now, there are still driving scenarios that need Liu's intervention, but he knows his experience in Shougang Park foreshadows a broader trend: When the technology becomes safe enough, all robotaxi drivers will be out of a job. 

What's his plan for when that happens? Liu says it's the same as when we last talked: "I can move to jobs like 5G remote driving operators."

"Teacher Li," whose Twitter feed unexpectedly became the hub of information for zero-covid protests

The Italy-based Chinese artist known as Teacher Li has close to 1 million Twitter followers now, and the sudden fame has upended his life. Since he worked around the clock last year to post real-time footage of people protesting China's zero-covid policies, he's been doxxed, his family back home has received pressure from the Chinese government, and his Twitter account was temporarily shadow-banned for unclear reasons.

As China enters a new era of covid policies, Li is still posting follower submissions, but the scope has greatly expanded: updates on labor protests, social media censorship, and even the Spring Festival Gala, an annual televised event that has been highly politicized in past decades but is still watched by the whole country. 

Trained as a painter, Li is reconsidering his career during the Year of the Rabbit. "My plan for the new year is to reconstruct my future. My life path has been altered … and how my future will look is an open question," he says. Some media outlets have invited him to join their newsrooms, but he hasn't made up his mind yet. First, he plans to write some guides to painting as closure to his first professional career. After that, he'll explore his possibilities in journalism. 

Global Anti-Scam Org, the volunteer group that has exposed crypto scams on LinkedIn and other platforms

I found GASO last summer when I was reporting on the fake LinkedIn personas that defrauded victims of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency-based "pig-butchering scams." The targets were largely people of Chinese descent living around the world. While many victims felt powerless after the scammers took their money and disappeared, GASO was formed by some who came together with the hope of preventing more people from falling into the same trap.

Jan Santiago, deputy director of GASO, tells me that even though platforms have become more aware of scams and started taking some actions, there are still people falling prey to these crimes. As young people learn more about online fraud, the average victim has become older and less social media savvy.

When I interviewed GASO volunteers last year, I was surprised by how they had taught themselves to trace crypto criminals to their physical locations and to track which crypto wallets they use. In the new year, they're looking to expand their impact by passing on that skill to law enforcement in Southeast Asia. "In Taiwan, we are getting more and more involved in educating their law enforcement in how to investigate cryptocurrency by tracing. We show them why it's important to learn all of this," says Santiago.

Tina, one of many WeChat users suspended for talking about a political protest in Beijing

When we last talked, Tina's WeChat account had just been suspended, and the 38-year-old Beijing resident had set a big goal for herself: She wanted to take it as an opportunity to experiment with living her life "normally, without WeChat."

Three months later, she has mostly achieved this goal. She revived an old back-up WeChat account, but she only uses it when there is no alternative communication method, and she has just over a dozen contacts. "I don't think using [WeChat] less has had any significant impact on my life, and it has saved me a lot of time," she tells me. However, she finds herself spending more time on Twitter and Telegram instead, so she set a new goal this year to spend no more than one hour a day on all social media apps combined.

In the meantime, Tina has kept checking her suspended WeChat account because people are still sending messages there, not knowing that she can see their notes but has lost the ability to reply. This has taught her about what being suspended from the super-app really means; many have described it as feeling like a ghost. "WeChat has some very meticulous rules. Basically, you are not allowed to send any message to the outside world, but all other features still work," she says. 

For example, Tina's suspended account can still transfer money to her friends. But unlike others, she can't enclose a note with the transfer. "Theoretically, you can also use the numbers [of the transfer amount] to send people information, but"—she laughs—"that would cost a lot of money." 


What is your plan for the Year of the Rabbit? Let me know at

Catch up with China

1. Among major economies, China's carbon emissions have grown the fastest in recent decades, but its economy has also become significantly less dependent on fossil fuel. My colleague Casey Crownhart brings you the important numbers. (MIT Technology Review)

2. Travel for China's Lunar New Year, the world's largest annual human migration, has come back in full force this year after the country lifted covid-related travel restrictions. Chinese people are expected to complete over 2.1 billion trips during a 40-day period. (Wall Street Journal $)

  • A columnist at the Economist rode on China's slow-speed "green-skin trains" (so called for their exterior color) and talked about the past year with his fellow passengers. (The Economist $)

3. At Davos, China's vice premier Liu He welcomed foreign companies to come back to the country. (Financial Times $)

  • Meanwhile, China's homegrown entrepreneurs are increasingly fleeing the crackdowns and lockdowns at home and moving to Singapore. (New York Times $)

4. TikTok employees have the technical ability to manually boost the reach of specific videos, a practice known internally as "heating"—raising concerns about moderation bias and political manipulation. (Forbes)

  • The company is promising US regulators that it will make its code visible to Oracle and third-party monitors in exchange for being allowed to remain in the country, anonymous sources said. (Wall Street Journal $)

5. Doctors at public hospitals across China say they were discouraged from citing covid on death certificates. (Reuters $)

6. The history of Zhongguancun, China's Silicon Valley, explained. (Wired $)

7. A Chinese state-owned bank in Hong Kong is enticing new clients from the mainland with the possibility of getting mRNA vaccine shots. (Financial Times $)

Lost in translation

The new year is for new changes, and as Chinese tech publication Baobian reported, many Chinese Big Tech workers are quitting the industry and reflecting on how they ended up working pointless "bullshit jobs."

Even though the country's tech industry is relatively young, these companies, like their Western counterparts, have grown into gigantic corporations burdened with bureaucracy and low efficiency. A main source of frustration for staffers is feeling that they are spending months working on insignificant product changes that could be vetoed at the last minute. For example, making a simple UI design change requires two weeks of opposition research, and there's little originality in the final product. Some workers also feel they are losing their individual purpose while helping the company optimize its money-making machinery.

Luyi, who worked for Tencent, Alibaba, and ByteDance in different positions, felt that she was chasing abstract numbers based on unreliable data analytics, and ultimately achieving nothing. Last year, she finally decided to quit the tech industry and went to work for an art gallery in Beijing. "When I successfully organize an art exhibit, there's an immense sense of achievement. I can get a lot of positive feedback on the scene," she said. That's the feeling she was missing when she worked in Big Tech.

One more thing

To celebrate the transition from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit, a zoo in western China organized a ceremony on Friday in which a tiger cub and a rabbit were placed on the same table. But the video was promptly cut when the tiger went for the rabbit's neck, the correspondent began shouting in panic, and the scene descended into chaos. Fortunately, the rabbit was reportedly unharmed. Otherwise it would have been a terrible omen for the new year.

Screenshot of the video when the rabbit and the tiger cub are about to be placed on the table.
The Rebellion Amazon Can No Longer Ignore
Is this article about Business?
Warehouse workers in the UK are walking out for the first time, and they want the world to follow.

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35916-3

Bilayer sensors and sensor arrays with a catalytic CeO2 filter are proposed as a facile platform for high-performance gas sensors and electronic noses. Authors show the bilayer sensors enhance selectivity toward aromatic compounds, and the arrays provide comprehensive information such as gas concentration and composition.

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35865-x

Mitochondrial supercomplex assembly may efficiently supply energy, yet its role remains controversial. Here, the authors show that 
 inhibitors increase supercomplex assembly and mitochondrial respiration in cells and can enhance exercise performance in mice.

Scientific Reports, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-28400-x

As good as human experts in detecting plant roots in minirhizotron images but efficient and reproducible: the convolutional neural network "RootDetector"
New Lawsuit Challenges State Bans on Abortion Pills
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • New Lawsuit Challenges State Bans on Abortion Pills
The case, brought by GenBioPro, a company that makes one of two abortion drugs, argues that it is unconstitutional for a state to bar access to a medication approved by the federal government.

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35984-5

Ethylene (C2H4) purification from multi-component mixtures by physical adsorption is a great challenge in the chemical industry. Here authors present a GeF62- anion embedded MOF ZNU-6 with customized pore structure and pore chemistry for benchmark one-step C2H4 recovery from C2H2 and CO2 with record C2H4 productivity.

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-35939-w

Trial data have shown that post-discharge 
 chemoprevention (PDMC) reduces the risk of readmission and death in children previously hospitalised with severe malarial anaemia. Here, the authors use mathematical modelling to estimate the potential epidemiological impacts of PDMC in malaria-endemic countries in Africa.
Framtidens avancerade behandlingar snart här
Stamceller som programmeras till att producera insulin vid typ 1-diabetes eller som kan reparera hjärtmuskeln efter en infarkt. Gen- och cellterapier som vässar cancerbehandlingar. Dessa nya och innovativa terapier har potential att bota, lindra och behandla sjukdomar där traditionella läkemedel idag inte räcker.
Skräddarsydd behandling just för dig
Utvecklingen har gått från "one size fits all" till att kunna erbjuda individanpassad diagnostik och behandling, och ibland också förebyggande åtgärder, för allt fler sjukdomar. Vinsterna finns både på det individuella planet för patienten och på samhällsnivå. Vi pratar om precisionsmedicin.
Fiskefria zoner blir en chans till revansch för många arter

Fiskar, skaldjur och ekosystem får en möjlighet att återhämta sig i fiskefria områden. Men det finns undantag – och tas förbuden bort kan de positiva effekterna försvinna på några få år. Det visar en rapport från SLU.

Inlägget Fiskefria zoner blir en chans till revansch för många arter dök först upp på

Can online civic education strengthen democratic values?
A study published in the American Journal of Political Science shows that civic education interventions can work to increase support for democracy, and doing so in the social media context can reach many more people, with potentially much greater overall impact, than was previously the case.
Criminologists, Looking to Biology for Insight, Stir a Racist Past
Is this article about ESG?
After a decades-long effort to bring biology back to the study of crime, the field of biosocial criminology is thriving. But its rise has also sparked alarm among some criminologists and other scholars, who argue that the science is shoddy — and that racist ideas and assumptions animate the field.
Terrawatch: Santorini braces as explosive volcano stirs

Activity detected in Kolumbo, just off Greek island, which is likely to trigger tsunami when it next erupts

It has been quiet for nearly 400 years, but Kolumbo, an underwater volcano just off the Greek island of Santorini, is not asleep. A previously undetected magma chamber is gradually filling with melt, prompting researchers to recommend real-time monitoring of the volcano.

The last time Kolumbo erupted, in 1650, it killed 70 people, but population growth and tourism on Santorini mean the impact of an equivalent eruption today could be far greater.

Continue reading…

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36134-7

A major challenge in analyzing scRNA-seq data arises from challenges related to dimensionality and the prevalence of dropout events. Here the authors develop a deep graph learning method called scMGCA based on a graph-embedding autoencoder that simultaneously learns cell-cell topology representation and cluster assignments, outperforming other state-of-the-art models across multiple platforms.

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36043-9

Shallow lakes have long been considered an example of alternative equilibria in ecological systems. Here, the authors combine empirical data and simulations to show that the relationship of shallow lake chlorophyll-a with nutrient enrichment does not fit the theory of alternative stable states.
Suppressing phase disproportionation in quasi-2D perovskite light-emitting diodes

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36118-7

Quasi-2D halide perovskites are attracting increasing attention for light-emitting devices. Here, the authors demonstrated efficient and stable quasi-2D perovskite LEDs enabled by suppressed phase disproportionation with newly designed organic ligands.
Polyamine metabolism impacts T cell dysfunction in the oral mucosa of people living with HIV
Is this article about Biopharma Industry?

Nature Communications, Published online: 25 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36163-2

Polyamine metabolism is a determinant of T helper cell polarization. Here, Mahalingam et al analyse the metabolic and transcriptomic profile of oral mucosa from people living with HIV to demonstrate the effect of polyamine synthesis on T cell dysfunction during HIV-1 infection.
The Best Mini Instant Pots of 2023
The best mini Instant Pots let you cook up great meals without taking up too much counter space.

Instant Pot appliances have gained a cult following over the years and it's easy to see why. These smart, multi-use kitchen gadgets are designed to do the work of multiple other devices, including slow cookers, rice cookers, and steaming pots. And while some Instant Pot models can be big, bulky, and hard to store or manage, the miniature 3-quart Instant Pots are a great size for portability and storage in small spaces.

If you're looking for a single device to help streamline your favorite recipes at home, a compact mini Instant Pot is a great option. Here's what you need to know about the best mini Instant Pots on the market.

— Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Mini
— Best Premium: Instant Pot Duo Mini Plus
— Best for Kids: Instant Pot "Star Wars" Duo Mini
— Best Budget: Instant Pot Lux

How We Picked the Best Mini Instant Pots

To choose the best mini Instant Pots for every budget, skill level, and household, we dug into the minute differences between models. We brought to bear our experience as a trained chef and product reviews and considered everything from maintenance to versatility to price in order to find the best small pressure cookers for every kind of cook. Our criteria included:

Size: To qualify as a mini Instant Pot, every device on this list has a 3-quart capacity.

Functionality: We looked at the number of functions that each device can perform in addition to pressure cooking. These include slow cooking, steaming, sanitizing, and yogurt-making.

Ease of Use: To make this list, the Instant Pots needed to be easy to use and approachable by cooks of all levels, including first-time pressure cooker users.

Safety: We looked into the built-in safety features to make sure that the appliances on this list protect users from accidents and spills.

Maintenance: We opted for the appliances that are the easiest to keep clean, thanks to dishwasher-safe parts and stainless steel construction.

The Best Mini Instant Pots: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Mini

The Instant Pot Duo Mini is the best mini Instant Pot overall.


Why It Made The Cut: This is the best miniature model from the Instant Pot brand. It's compact but packs all of the features you expect in an Instant Pot, including sautéing, stewing, and rice making.

— Capacity: 3 quarts
— Dimensions: 11.81 x 10.51 x 10.98 inches
— Weight: 8.65 pounds

— Easy-to-use digital touch controls
— 13 pre-set cooking functions
— Dishwasher-safe pot

— Not compatible with the Instant Pot air fryer lid

Instant Pot is known for making highly durable and versatile multi-use appliances, and this miniature 3-quart model doesn't disappoint. The compact pressure cooker takes up minimal storage space but offers seven different cooking techniques, all available at the touch of a button on the easy-to-access digital control panel.

This is also one of the safest Instant Pots, with smart safety features like overheat protection, a locking lid, and loud alerts if anything goes wrong. You can confidently start a recipe and walk away, knowing that this appliance will do its job safely and effectively every time.

Another great thing about this Instant Pot model is that it comes with an abundance of informational resources. You can access the large community of avid Instant Pot fans online to discover new recipes and culinary tricks to try in your new appliance. Plus, there's always someone who can answer your question, so even if you're brand new to pressure cooking, you'll quickly master the art with this miniature Instant Pot on hand.

Best Premium: Instant Pot Duo Mini Plus

The Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini is the best mini Instant Pot that's premium quality.
Instant Pot

Why It Made The Cut: This advanced model is equipped with helpful safety features that make it one of the easiest pressure cookers to use.

— Capacity: 3 quarts
— Dimensions: 11.5 x 10.2 x 11 inches
— Weight: 8.8 pounds

— 15 pre-programmed cooking settings
— Dishwasher-safe stainless steel cooking pot
— Cooking progress bar

— Multi-button display can feel overwhelming

The Instant Pot Duo Plus is the next step up from the Duo. This second-generation model comes with enhanced features including two more pre-programmed cooking settings: sous vide and sterilize. The sous vide setting is handy if you're interested in the technique (cooking food in a temperature-controlled water bath) but don't want to buy an additional appliance.

The sterilization program is great for anyone making baby food or preserved foods like jams, pickles, and sauces. Instead of constantly monitoring the temperature of hot water baths, you can rely on your Instant Pot to ensure that everything reaches the proper temperature for food safety and sterilization.

The Instant Pot Duo Plus is also the better appliance if you plan to "bake" in your cooker. It has a cake-making program that makes perfectly set cheesecakes and springy bundt cakes. The mini is the perfect size to make dessert for two.

For ease of use, this model has an enhanced venting feature that makes it easier to release the pressure in your pot. The valve automatically switches to "sealing" when the lid is locked in place, so you never forget to seal the lid before walking away. For dessert, check out our review of the Breville Smart Ice Cream Maker.

Best for Kids: Instant Pot "Star Wars" Duo Mini

The Instant Pot "Star Wars" Duo Mini is the best mini Instant Pot for kids.
Instant Pot

Why It Made The Cut: It's hard not to smile when you see this cute but highly functional device. It combines the fun of sci-fi with the practicality of an excellent culinary appliance.

 Capacity: 3 quarts
— Dimensions: 12.01 x 12.01 x 12.13 inches
— Weight: 8.65 pounds

— Comes with a condensation collector
— 7 cooking features
— 14 built-in presets

— Slightly larger than other mini Instant Pots

Enjoy dinner from a galaxy far, far away with this adorable "Star Wars" edition of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. It has all the same features of the Duo with a fun pattern that mimics the BB-8 robot. "Star Wars" fans will love the whimsical look of this device, and home cooks will appreciate the functionality and versatility.

This Instant Pot has 14 preset cooking programs, including steaming, rice-making, slow cooking, and poultry cooking. It also has the reliable pressure cooking and manual modes that give cooks the flexibility to follow recipes or develop their own.

If you have young budding chefs at home, they'll love the opportunity to cook with a gadget from outer space, so this is a great way to generate more excitement in the kitchen. Kids can browse the Instant Pot smartphone app to find a recipe that inspires them. And thanks to all the safety features and built-in cooking presets, all you'll have to do is sit back and relax while the kids make dinner.

Best Budget: Instant Pot Lux

The Instant Pot Lux is the best mini Instant Pot at a budget-friendly price.
Instant Pot

Why It Made The Cut: This is the best mini Instant Pot for first-time pressure cooker users. It may not have all the features of newer models, but it has the same reliability and durability Instant Pot promises at a great price.

— Capacity: 3 quarts
— Dimensions: 11.5 x 10.51 x 10.5 inches
— Weight: 8.5 pounds

— Comes with a steaming rack and rice paddle
— Pared-down touch screen control panel
— Up to 24-hour delay start time

—No cooking progress bar
—No easy steam release feature

First-time and budget-conscious Instant Pot owners will appreciate the straightforward nature and ease of use of the Instant Pot Lux. This small but highly functional appliance does everything you expect from an Instant Pot, including cooking perfectly fluffy rice and grains, making creamy stews, and delicious one-pot dinners. It operates as a slow cooker and reheater as well, and the 24-hour delay start feature means you can set up an entire meal the night before and come home to a hot and ready meal after work.

This model has high- and low-pressure settings so you can cook things long and slow or speed up the cooking process when you're in a rush. It seamlessly fits your lifestyle and offers enough internal space to feed up to three people. And for beginners, Instant Pot also has a handy compatible smartphone app that helps guide you through basic and more advanced recipes so you can get to know all of the features on your new device.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Mini Instant Pot

Uses: Consider the main reasons you want to buy a pressure cooker. Is it for making fall-apart-tender braised short ribs? To sanitize baby bottles? Maybe you want to replace your old slow cooker. If there's a specific culinary function that you plan to use most, make sure that the model you choose offers that feature.

Location: It's also important to consider where you'll use the new appliance. If you're shopping for a dorm room, RV, or office space, make sure you have the proper electrical outlet. Most Instant Pots have a three-prong power cord that fits a 110-volt outlet. Most models come with a 4-foot power cord, though you can find 6-foot cords if you need the extra slack.


Q: Is the 3 QT Instant Pot too small?

The 3-quart capacity Instant Pots are ideal for feeding three or fewer people. If you have a small household, this is the perfect size. The compact size is also easier to store and much more portable than bulkier 6- and 8-quart models. 

Q: What is the Instant Pot Mini good for?

The Instant Pot Mini is the perfect size for making dinner for one to three people. You can cook up perfectly tender grains, tangy homemade yogurt, miniature cakes, and hearty soups and stews with the push of a few buttons.

Q: Does the Instant Pot Mini air fry?

No, Instant Pot does not currently offer an air fryer lid for their 3-quart models. However, there are 6- and 8-quart devices that have compatible air fryer lids.

Final Thoughts on the Best Mini Instant Pots

Regardless of your skills as a home cook, an Instant Pot is a fantastic appliance to add to your toolkit. It makes complicated meals like meaty stews, braises, and soups straightforward and hands-off. And with a compact 3-quart Instant Pot like the Duo, you can replace multiple kitchen appliances with one compact device that's easy to store and even travel with.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism's owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.

The post The Best Mini Instant Pots of 2023 appeared first on Futurism.

Get Used to Expensive Eggs
Is this article about Agriculture?

Over the past week, my breakfast routine has been scrambled. I have had overnight oats, beans on sourdough, corned-beef hash and fried rice, and, on a particularly weird morning, leftover cream-of-broccoli soup. Under normal circumstances, I would be eating eggs. But right now, I'm in hoarding mode, jealously guarding the four that remain from a carton purchased indignantly for six dollars. For that price—50 damn cents each!—my daily sunny-side-up eggs will have to wait. The perfect moment beckons: Maybe a toasted slab of brioche will call for a luxurious soft scramble, or maybe I will cave to a powerful craving for an egg-salad sandwich.

Eggs, that quintessential cheap food, have gotten very, very expensive in the United States. In December, the average price for a dozen eggs in U.S. cities hit an all-time high of $4.25, up from $1.78 a year earlier. Although the worst now seems to be behind us, there's still a ways to go before consumer prices hit reasonable levels—and Americans are starting to crack. Online, the shortage has recently hatched endless memes: In some posts, people pretend to portion out eggs in plastic baggies, like drug dealers (Pablo Eggscobar, anyone?); another recurring bit suggests painting potatoes to hunt at Easter. The high prices have even led to egg smuggling and raised the profile of "rent-a-chicken" services, where customers can borrow hens, chicken feed, and a coop for a couple hundred bucks.

Surging egg prices are partly a familiar story of pandemic-era inflation. Producing eggs costs more because fuel, transportation, feed, and packaging are more expensive now, Jada Thompson, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, told me. And it doesn't help that there are no great substitutes for eggs. But a big reason prices are so high right now is the avian flu—a virus that infects many types of birds and is deadly for some. Right now, we're facing the worst-ever wave in the U.S.; it has decimated chicken flocks and dented America's egg inventory. Over just the past year, more than 57 million birds have died from the flu. Some much-needed relief from sky-high egg prices is likely coming, but don't break out the soufflé pans yet. All signs suggest that avian flu is here to stay. If such rampant spread of the virus continues, "these costs are not going to come down to pre-2022 levels," Thompson told me. Cheap eggs may soon become a thing of the past.

This isn't the first time American egg producers have encountered the avian flu, but dealing with it is still a challenge. For one thing, the virus keeps changing. It has long infected but not killed waterfowl and shorebirds, such as ducks and geese, but by 1996, it had mutated into the "highly pathogenic" H5N1, a poultry-killing strain that is named for the nasty versions of its "H" and "N" proteins. (They form spikes on the virus's surface—sound familiar?) In 2014 and 2015, H5N1 ignited a terrible outbreak of avian flu, which gave U.S. poultry farmers their first taste of just how bad egg shortages could get.

But this outbreak is like nothing we've seen before. The strain of avian flu that's behind this wave is indeed new, and in the U.S., the virus has been circulating for a full year now—far longer than during the last big outbreak. The virus has become "host-adapted," meaning that it can infect its natural hosts without killing them; as a result, wild waterfowl are ruthlessly efficient at spreading the virus to chickens, Richard Webby, the director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, told me.

Many of these wild birds are migratory, and during their long journeys between Canada and South America, they descend on waterways and poop virus from the sky over poultry farms. Chickens stand no chance: The fleshy flaps on their heads may turn blue, their eyes and neck may swell, and, in rare instances, paralysis occurs. An entire poultry flock can be wiped out in 48 hours. Death is swift and vicious.

Everything about this current wave has aligned to put a serious dent in our egg supply. Most eggs in the United States are hatched in jam-packed industrial egg farms, where transmission is next to impossible to stop, so the go-to move when the flu is detected is to "depopulate," the preferred industry term for killing all of the birds. Without such a brutal tactic, Bryan Richards, the emerging-disease coordinator at the U.S. Geological Survey, told me, the current wave would be much worse.

But this strategy also means fewer eggs, at least until new chicks grow into hens. That takes about six months, so there just haven't been enough hens lately—especially for all the holiday baking people wanted to do, Thompson said. By the end of 2022, the U.S. egg inventory was 29 percent lower than it had been at the beginning of the year. The chicken supply, in contrast, is robust, because avian flu tends to affect older birds, like egg layers, Thompson said; at six to eight weeks old, the birds we eat, known as broilers, are not as susceptible. Also, she added, wild-bird migration pathways are not as concentrated in the Southeast, where most broiler production happens.

Egg eaters should be able to return to their normal breakfast routines soon enough. New hens are now replenishing the U.S. egg supply—while waterfowl are wintering in the warmer climes of South America rather than lingering in the United States. Since the holidays, "the price paid to the farmers for eggs has been decreasing rapidly, and usually, in time, the consumer price follows," Maro Ibarburu, a business analyst at Iowa State University's Egg Industry Center, told me.

Still, going forward, it may be worth rethinking our relationship with eggs. There's no guarantee that eggs will go back to being one of the cheapest and most nutritious foods. When the weather warms, the birds will return, and "it's highly likely that upon spring migration, we could see yet another wave," Richards said. Europe, which experienced the H5N1 wave about six months before the Americas did, offers a glimpse of the future. "They went from being in a situation where the virus would come and go to a position where, essentially, it came and stayed," Webby told me. If we're lucky, though, birds will develop a natural immunity to the virus, making it harder to spread, or the U.S. could start vaccinating poultry against the flu, which the country has so far been reluctant to do.

Omelets aside, curbing the spread of avian flu is in our best interest, not just to help prevent $6 egg cartons, but also to avoid a much scarier possibility: the virus spilling over and infecting people. All viruses from the influenza-A family have an avian origin, noted Webby; a chilling example is the H1N1 strain behind the 1918 flu pandemic. Fortunately, although some people have been infected with H5N1, very few cases of human-to-human spread have been documented. But continued transmission, over a long enough period, could change that. The fact that the virus has recently jumped from birds to mammals, such as seals and bears, and spread among mink is troubling, because that means that it is evolving to infect species that are more closely related to us. "The risk of this particular virus [spreading among humans] as it is now is low, but the consequences are potentially high," Webby said. "If there is a flu virus that I don't want to catch, this one would be it."


More than anything, the egg shortage is a reminder that the availability of food is not something we can take for granted going forward. Shortages of staple goods seem to be striking with more regularity not only due to pandemic-related broken supply chains and inflation, but also because of animal and plant disease. In 2019, swine fever decimated China's pork supply; the ongoing lettuce shortage, which rapper Cardi B bemoaned earlier this month, is the result of both a plant virus and a soil disease. Last September, California citrus growers detected a virus known to reduce crop yields. By creating cozier conditions for some diseases, climate change is expected to raise risk of infection for both animals and plants. And as COVID has illustrated, any situation in which different species are forced into abnormally close quarters with one another is likely to encourage the spread of disease.

Getting used to intermittent shortages of staple foods such as eggs and lettuce will in all likelihood become a normal part of meal planning, barring some huge shift away from industrial farming and its propensity for fostering disease. These farms are a major reason certain foods are so inexpensive and widely available in the first place; if cheap eggs seemed too good to be true, it's because they were. Besides, there are always alternatives: May I suggest cream-of-broccoli soup?

Behavioral Science Studies at the University of Chicago

I work at the Center for Decision Research at UChicago and I wanted to introduce you all to an opportunity to help further research in behavioral science. We are looking to recruit more participant for studies that pay in Amazon gift cards ($12/hr). We post studies consistently throughout the month to help 

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 researchers further their work. There are no restrictions to sign up! You can sign up to take studies here.

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Net zero by 2050 in England and Wales equals 'extra 2m years of life'

Study points to 'substantial reductions in mortality' and significant health benefits if policies implemented

Reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions in England and Wales by 2050 will lead to an extra 2m years of life, a study suggests.

The UK is legally committed to hitting net zero by 2050. Many of the proposed policies will reduce harmful environmental factors such as air pollution, and encourage healthy behaviours including diet and exercise, but this is the first time researchers have comprehensively modelled how net zero will affect health.

Continue reading…
An Asian American Grief

On Sunday, I had my first Lunar New Year celebration in New York City's Chinatown. At one point, after I had released my confetti popper and my friend had left, I stood in a park, alone in the crowd. I dug the tips of my black boots into the piles of festive red and pink paper shreds, fake flower petals, and tiny imitation $100 bills on the ground. And then I inhaled, holding the breath in my lungs for a few extra seconds before releasing it back into the cold air. The festivities were a precious moment of joy in what has otherwise been a difficult few years for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We needed this, I thought.

Then, sitting on a bench adorned with purple silly string, I found out about the Saturday night mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park, a majority Asian city in California. I knew that the popping sounds around me were firecrackers and not gunshots. But I couldn't help thinking that Lunar New Year festivities would be an easy target, that no one would even register the first shot. I sealed the thought into the part of my brain where I store memories of violent attacks on Asian people in America—vivid enough to feel, numb enough to stay sane. My parents asked me, over a video call, if I had seen the news.

By the time I returned home, I knew that the suspect was male and Asian. The complexity of the narrative didn't alter my grief. It's not the first time that we've seen attacks like this within our communities. Last year, a Taiwanese man loyal to mainland China allegedly attacked a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California; handwritten notes denouncing the island's pursuit of independence were found in his car. Last night, only two days after the Monterey Park attacks, an Asian man was arrested in Half Moon Bay suspected of shooting seven people dead, some of whom are also reportedly Asian.

Such incidents might fall through the gaps of societal understanding. After Michelle Go and Atlanta and Christina Yuna Lee and Vicha Ratanapakdee and all the elders who have been set on fire or kicked in broad daylight, some might assume that violence against Asians in America is typically related to racism. But regardless of an attacker's motive, the trauma of violence remains. Lives have been senselessly lost. And in the same way that past attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped form an invisible, pervasive dread, the attacks of the past few days will continue to affect many of us, compounding our fear and raising the risk of future copycat shootings. Research conducted in 2014 and 2015 showed that high-profile mass shootings, with four or more deaths, have a significant likelihood of sparking more shootings. Shortly after the Monterey Park attack, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna announced that someone had called one of the hospitals where victims were being treated "to say something along the lines that they 'want to go and finish the job.'"

There is also the heinous fact that in the Monterey Park shooting, at least 11 people were killed in a place that was supposed to be safe for them—what has been called America's first suburban Chinatown. Monterey Park is the place that elected America's first Chinese American female mayor, in the 1980s. It's where Asian American residents defeated resolutions to make English the city's official language and to enable the police to assist immigration authorities in finding undocumented residents. Four Asian Americans currently sit on Monterey Park's five-member city council. The activist and Rice University Ph.D. student Bianca Mabute-Louie called it a place of "gorgeous unassimilability." I think of this small oasis in a country that often asks immigrants to exist as a shell of themselves. I think of all the work emails I've edited for my parents, the way my mother's personality expands in the freedom of her native tongue, the Zumba class where she gathers with other Asians. My parents wonder if they would be safer in Taiwan, where they grew up. I feel guilty for holding them here, an American-born daughter who is determined to stay.

[Read: I went to Taiwan to say goodbye]

There was a moment yesterday where I broke down at work. I sobbed, grieving because of the trauma that Asians and Pacific Islanders in America have absorbed and tucked away these past three years, the way so many daily walks have become heavier. The way stories of violence have layered upon others until it's difficult for me to recall which individual in which city in which way. I thought of how quickly I have normalized the grotesque—standing in front of the subway beams when a train arrives so that I have something to grab onto if pushed; casually ignoring men who roll their eyes up and down my body and call me "China girl." Too many marginalized people feel this: the notion that violence is the foundation of the home that we fearfully inhabit.

Yet every time the violence happens, we grieve anew. We try, in our own time, to make sense of senselessness. But first, grief demands to be felt. Without qualifiers, without the comfort of clarity. May we all find peace in the new year.

The Tech-Layoff 'Contagion'

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

The American economy is doing fine. So why are tech companies laying off tens of thousands of workers?

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


Last Friday, Google's parent company, Alphabet, laid off 12,000 of its employees—about 6 percent of its total workforce. Yesterday, Spotify announced layoffs for a similar percentage of its staff.

By now, you might be used to the steady drip of news about tech companies slashing jobs. About 130,000 people have been laid off from large tech and media companies in the past 12 months, according to one estimate. The reasons for this are not obvious. America's overall unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, which ties for the lowest mark of the 21st century. And tech has long been one of the country's most dynamic industries. So why is it struggling during an otherwise optimistic moment for America's economy?

Our staff writers Annie Lowrey and Derek Thompson, who both recently published articles on the tech layoffs, offer several explanations for the trend. The first and most obvious is the Federal Reserve's effort to ease inflation by raising interest rates sharply over the past year. As Annie writes:

Pretty much all American businesses across all business sectors are reliant on borrowed cash in one way or another … But many tech companies were especially conditioned to very low interest rates: Uber, an enormous and long-established business, for instance, loses money on many rides, and thousands and thousands of start-ups accrue huge losses and rely on their financiers to foot their bills while they grow.

But when inflation and then interest rates increased, these companies—which were making long-term promises at the expense of short-term profits—"got clobbered," as Derek puts it.

The second reason: the pandemic. Annie reminds us what the economy looked like when Americans were in the thick of isolation:

People stopped going to theaters and started watching more movies and shows at home—hurting AMC and aiding Netflix and Hulu. Families stopped shopping as much in person and began buying more things online—depressing town centers and boosting Amazon and Uber Eats, and spurring many businesses to pour money into digital advertising. Companies quit hosting corporate retreats and started facilitating meetings online—depriving hotel chains of money and bolstering Zoom and Microsoft.

Here's Derek on how that played out:

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.

Consumer spending has normalized, and Americans have returned to paying for restaurants and hotels and flights. As a result, tech companies are seeing declining revenues in parts of their businesses, and some corporate officers have admitted that they grew too quickly. (Apple is an exception that might prove the rule: The company expanded more slowly than some of its counterparts and has thus far avoided layoffs.)

But even though tech companies are facing a hard dose of reality, many of them are still very profitable. And, as Annie notes, the future is brightening: "The Fed is likely to stop hiking interest rates soon. Artificial intelligence has started making amazing breakthroughs … Maybe a tech summer is just around the corner."

Reporting in November on the tech industry's apparent collapse, Derek used an entertaining and useful metaphor: The industry is having a midlife crisis. And that means once the crisis is over, a new era will begin. "One mistake that a journalist can make in observing these trends is to assume that, because the software-based tech industry seems to be struggling now, things will stay like this forever," he writes. "More likely, we are in an intermission between technological epochs."

Some argue that, as they wait out this intermission, CEOs are copying one another—laying off workers not simply as an unavoidable consequence of the changing economy, but because everybody else is doing it. "Chief executives are normal people who navigate uncertainty by copying behavior," Derek writes. He cites the business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, who told Stanford News: "Was there a bubble in valuations? Absolutely … 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."

Pfeffer believes that this "social contagion" could spread to other industries. "Layoffs are contagious across industries and within industries," he said in the Stanford News article. If so, the story of tech layoffs could end up being a much broader story about work in America.


Today's News

  1. A gunman killed seven people and injured one other in a mass shooting at two locations in Half Moon Bay, California, just two days after the mass shooting at a Monterey Park dance hall.
  2. A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence found classified documents during a search of Pence's Indiana home.
  3. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the ticketing market, in which Ticketmaster's parent company testified about the issues with Taylor Swift's concert-ticket sales.

Evening Read

A mock-up of a tweet sent from "Truth Warrior" displaying a syringe, a skull and crossbones, and several exclamation marks
The Atlantic

Twitter Has No Answers for #DiedSuddenly

By Kaitlyn Tiffany

Lisa Marie Presley died unexpectedly earlier this month, and within hours, lacking any evidence, Twitter users were suggesting that her death had been caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Twitter account @DiedSuddenly_, which has about 250,000 followers, also started tweeting about it immediately, using the hashtag #DiedSuddenly. Over the past several months, news stories about any kind of sudden death or grave injury—including the death of the sports journalist Grant Wahl and the sudden collapse of the Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin—have been met with a similar reaction from anti-vaccine activists. Though most of the incidents had obvious explanations and almost certainly no connection to the vaccine, which has an extremely remote risk of causing heart inflammation—much smaller than the risk from COVID-19 itself—the idea that the shots are causing mass death has been boosted by right-wing media figures and a handful of well-known professional athletes.

Read the full article.

More From The Atlantic

Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis in 'Everything Everywhere All at Once"
Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis in 'Everything Everywhere All at Once" (A24)

Read. Patience, a poem by Edith Wharton (whose birthday is today), published in The Atlantic in 1880.

"Patience and I have traveled hand in hand / So many days that I have grown to trace / The lines of sad, sweet beauty in her face, / And all its veilèd depths to understand."

Watch. Oscar nominations are out. Here are the contenders you need to see.

Play our daily crossword.


Layoffs are not an abstraction for the people who have lost their jobs. With that in mind, I'll leave you with a piece of advice I read in New York magazine's Dinner Party newsletter: Phoebe Gavin, who was laid off last week from her job as the executive director of talent and development for Voxwrote on Twitter that though you might be tempted to reach out to a laid-off loved one or acquaintance as soon as it happens, that person will really need to hear from you two weeks later, when they've had time to process and are starting to figure out what's next. So mark your calendar to check back in.

— Isabel

Rival Slams CNET: "We Will Never Have an Article Written by a Machine"
As the fallout from CNET's scandalous experiment with AI generated articles continues, a big Red Ventures rival has made its stance known.

No Pulled Punches

As the fallout from tech news stalwart CNET's disastrous experiment with AI-generated SEO-bait articles — which, as we recently reported, weren't just shrouded in secrecy and chock full of errors, but also seem to have been riddled with substantial instances of plagiarism — continues, a major publishing rival to CNET owner Red Ventures has made its stance known.

"We will never," Neil Vogel, CEO of Dotdash Meredith, the largest digital and print publisher in America and direct Red Ventures competitor, declared to Axios, "have an article written by a machine."

Lines in the Sand

Importantly, Vogel didn't decry AI entirely. He told Axios that his company, which boasts titles including AllRecipesMartha Stewart, and People Magazine, has already integrated AI into several aspects of the business, like its image-sourcing practices.

"We're not denialists," said the CEO. "We actually think it's an incredible opportunity for us."

Vogel has a point. Though the ethics of generative AI — be it text-generating, image-generating, or otherwise — is widely debated, there are a lot of AI options out there, and a lot of them are pretty useful. Within the field of journalism, CNET certainly isn't the first to incorporate AI into its business. As Axios notes, The Associated Press has been using automation to assist with data-driven sports stories, while financially-minded sites like Bloomberg and Forbes have used similar tools.

What CNET was doing, however, was inherently different. It wasn't just using AI to just deliver hard numbers or to streamline or support certain non-journalism workflows. Instead, under a misleading (but since-changed) byline, CNET was using a mystery system to write and rewrite full-blown financial explainers — the type of explainer articles targeted at low-information folks looking to learn more about complicated personal finance topics like mortgage rates and interest calculation — for the sake of feeding SEO bots. It's a grim reckoning for a struggling industry.

But given the breadth and power of Dotdash, we'd be lying if we said that Vogel's comments weren't a heartening silver lining.

READ MORE: Newsrooms reckon with AI following CNET saga [Axios]

The post Rival Slams CNET: "We Will Never Have an Article Written by a Machine" appeared first on Futurism.



The Oscar Nominations Are In, and a Few Big Trends Are Out

For once, the Academy Award nominations seemingly arrived without too much existential panic about the entire enterprise. The latest slate of honorees, announced this morning by Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams, includes two of the most commercially successful films of the year, a bunch of crowd-pleasing word-of-mouth hits, and some genuine indie and foreign surprises. Plus, the Academy's attention heavily tilted toward films that debuted and played in movie theaters rather than on streaming.

This year's Oscars, which will air March 12 on ABC, have been blessedly free of production squabbles. There are no internal battles over whether to cut certain categories from the broadcast; no anxiety-inducing, experimental host formats (Jimmy Kimmel has the job this year, for the third time); and less fuss over the ceremony's "relevance." The nominations largely struck a balance between populism and tonier awards-bait, with several truly exciting names highlighted for the first time, a few disappointing snubs, and a sense of real competition for a lot of the major categories.

Everything Everywhere All at Once feels like a front-runner.

The multiverse-spanning action film from the directing team called the Daniels led the morning, with 11 nominations. Those include Best Picture and recognition for each of its four main cast members, marking the first nominations for the industry legends Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as, hearteningly, for the relative newcomer Stephanie Hsu. A24's film was released in March (a typically overlooked time) and is heavily focused on martial arts and mind-bending sci-fi: genres the Academy tends to ignore. But I'd call it the odds-on favorite to win Best Picture this year—its heart and visual pizzazz made it a surprise box-office smash.

[Read: How Hollywood's weirdest filmmakers made a movie about everything]

Blockbusters got their due.

The Academy has been challenged in some corners recently for ignoring the biggest hits of the year, especially as superhero films have come to dominate ticket sales. This critique caused so much stress that a prior Oscar president proposed a "popular film" award, though that motion was thankfully tabled; last year, however, a scene from Zack Snyder's Justice League was named the Oscars' "Cheer Moment," thanks to online polling that was probably rigged by bots. This year, luckily, the two highest-grossing films at the domestic box office were well received by critics and thus easily marched into the Best Picture race: Top Gun: Maverick got six nominations total, and Avatar: The Way of Water got four. Another big seller of the year, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, got a healthy eight nominations, including Best Picture.

The theatrical experience won out.

Movies from streamers have dominated Oscar nominations of late, especially during the past two pandemic-stricken years; Apple TV+ won a breakthrough Best Picture trophy last year for CODA. But this year, a number of Netflix's expensive projects from big-name filmmakers were largely ignored; its sole Best Picture contender is the German remake All Quiet on the Western Front, a dark horse that received little fanfare on the awards scene in recent weeks. No other streamer produced a Best Picture nominee, a telling sign that a more robust theatrical rollout helps build awards buzz.

[Read: Hollywood cannot survive without movie theaters]

Newbies dominated the acting fields.

Of the 10 performers nominated for Best Lead Actor or Best Supporting Actor, nine have never been recognized by the Oscars before—the only outlier is The Fabelmans' Judd Hirsch, who made the list for Ordinary People in 1981. It's good to see the Academy acknowledge newer talent such as Paul Mescal, Austin Butler, Brian Tyree Henry, and Barry Keoghan, along with established performers such as Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, Bill Nighy, and Ke Huy Quan. Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress have only three returning players, though two of them are favorites to win: Cate Blanchett (getting her eighth nomination overall for Tár) and Angela Bassett (an industry legend receiving just her second nomination, this time for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever).

There were some good last-minute surprises …

Andrea Riseborough, a well-regarded actress who's given terrific performances in many indies over the years, seemingly got a bizarrely effective lo-fi campaign off the ground at the last minute for the little-seen To Leslie. Big names including Edward Norton and Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted or Instagrammed endorsements for Riseborough in the week before Oscar votes were due, and also hosted private screenings of the film. Their efforts worked, adding Riseborough to the weird Oscar-noms folklore obsessed over by people such as myself (think Melissa Leo's "Consider …" campaign). Some other mild surprises included Ruben Östlund's acidic Cannes-winning satire Triangle of Sadness sneaking in for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay; Mescal getting a nomination for the understated debut feature Aftersun, a critical favorite; and the word-of-mouth Tollywood smash RRR nabbing a Best Song nomination for "Naatu Naatu," the performance of which should bring the house down on Oscar night.

… and unfortunate snubs.

Riseborough's surprise nomination helped nudge out two leading Black contenders for Best Actress: The Woman King's Viola Davis, who was recognized by every major award precursor, and Till's Danielle Deadwyler, praised as one of the biggest breakthroughs of the year. Those films, both directed by Black women (Gina Prince-Bythewood and Chinonye Chukwu, respectively), were sadly blanked despite strong reviews. Jordan Peele's Nope was also ignored in spite of high ticket sales and critical adoration. Although this year's Oscars did not completely overlook Black performers, it was unfortunate to see such well-received features given a total of zero nominations.

An online tool can help researchers synthesize millions of molecules
Enzymes are substances that cause chemical reactions. Certain types of enzymes, such as polyketide synthases and nonribosomal peptide synthetases, have the ability to shuffle their parts, allowing them to produce new chemicals. If scientists can understand how these enzymes shuffle their parts, they can understand how to use them to synthesize millions of molecules, such as pharmaceuticals and biofuels. However, engineering these enzymes is difficult because scientists don't fully understand how they work.
Scientists Say We're Closer to Nuclear Armageddon Than Any Other Point in History

Black Pilled

The scientist-activists who run the Doomsday Clock have once again ticked it forward, bringing humanity's estimated chances of its own nuclear annihilation closer than ever.

statement published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the group behind the Doomsday Clock, cited Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the potential for a "hot war" between NATO and Russia as its reasoning for moving the clock a mere 90 seconds to midnight.

Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and the scientists who would have been his colleagues had the US granted him security clearance to work on the atomic bomb-building Manhattan Project, the BAS has every year since 1947 warned of the preceding annum's biggest risks to humanity — and this year, those risks are all about Russia.

"Russia's thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict — by accident, intention, or miscalculation — is a terrible risk," the statement reads. "The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone's control remains high."

Hot War

While not mentioned in the statement, the country formerly known as the Soviet Union has some pretty jarring past precedents to take into consideration: the 1983 "false alarm" incident in which USSR radar picked up and subsequently alerted officials about phony readings from the West that were initially interpreted as warhead-carrying spy planes coming out of the US.

The protocol, which wasn't followed, would have been to strike back. If Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet Air Defense officer in charge of the early-warning station located that detected the misinterpreted signals, hadn't trusted his gut when it told him they were false alarms, nuclear war would almost certainly have broken out.

Back in the present, the concerned scientists note that beyond just the heating up of the new cold war, Russia's Ukrainian aggression has also "undermine[d] global efforts to combat climate change," and its fake news about Ukraine developing bioweapons may indicate that it's doing exactly that.

While "there is no clear pathway for forging a just peace that discourages future aggression under the shadow of nuclear weapons," the BAS urged open engagement with peace talks between NATO and Russia — not just for the sake of heading off war, but for the sake of helping the planet avoid further catastrophe, too.

More on nukes: New Study Shows Where You Should Hide To Survive A Nuclear Attack

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Scientists Warn Giant Asteroid Is Actually Swarm, Nearly Impossible to Destroy
Is this article about Aerospace?
Researchers have found asteroids that are largely made out of small pieces of rubble could be very difficult to ward off if one were to head our way.

Researchers have found that some asteroids that are largely made from small pieces of rubble could be very difficult to deflect if one were to ever hurtle towards Earth, a terrifying finding that could force us to reconsider our asteroid defense strategies.

It's an especially pertinent topic considering NASA's recent successful deflection of asteroid Didymos by smashing its Double Asteroid Reduction Test (DART) spacecraft into it last year, a proof of concept mission meant to investigate ways for humanity to protect itself from asteroid threats.

By analyzing asteroid particles collected by Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa 1 probe, which visited the 1,600-foot "rubble pile" asteroid Itokawa back in 2005, the researchers suggest the remote asteroid is far older than previously thought.

In fact, Itokawa, which scientists have long believed is a giant collection of space rocks and not one large lump, could be as old as the solar system itself.

Itokawa's considerable age shocked the scientists.

"Unlike monolithic asteroids, Itokawa is not a single lump of rock, but belongs to the rubble pile family which means it's entirely made of loose boulders and rocks, with almost half of it being empty space," said Fred Jourdan, planetary sciences professor at Curtin University in Australia and lead author of a new paper titled "Rubble pile asteroids are forever," published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in a statement.

Yet the mysterious pile of space rubble remained cohesive.

"The survival time of monolithic asteroids the size of Itokawa is predicted to be only several hundreds of thousands of years in the asteroid belt," Jourdan said, adding that its formation dates back to "at least 4.2 billion years ago," which is "an astonishingly long survival time for an asteroid the size of Itokawa."

According to Jourdan and his colleagues, the fact that it's a rubble pile and not a solid lump makes it inherently shock-absorbent, which could explain its extremely long lifespan and inherent resilience.

If an object like it were ever headed toward Earth, though, it could be very bad news.

"In short, we found that Itokawa is like a giant space cushion, and very hard to destroy," he said.

The research suggests that rubble piles like Itokawa may be far "more abundant in the asteroid belt than previously thought," according to coauthor Nick Timms, also a professor of planetary sciences at Curtin, which means "there is more chance that if a big asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, it will be a rubble pile."

But that doesn't mean we're doomed.

Armed with the knowledge that it may be a loose collection of rocks threatening our existence — and not a giant billiard ball in the sky — we could change our defense tactics ahead of time, and, for instance, use a "shockwave of a close-by nuclear blast to push a rubble-pile asteroid off course without destroying it," as Timms suggested in the statement.

In other words, we might have to rethink our defense strategies.

READ MORE: 'Rubble pile' asteroids nearly impossible to destroy, study suggests [Curtin University]

More on asteroids: Scientists Find Building Blocks of Life in Meteor That Smashed Into Family's Driveway

The post Scientists Warn Giant Asteroid Is Actually Swarm, Nearly Impossible to Destroy appeared first on Futurism.

Lightyear Suspends Flagship Solar EV Production, Shifts Focus Toward New Model


The Lightyear 2. (Image: Lightyear)
Lightyear, the Dutch automaker responsible for the world's first production solar 
electric vehicle
, is undergoing quite a transformation. Just two months after shipping the Lightyear 0, Lightyear has announced that it's suspending production of its flagship model to focus fully on its newest iteration, the Lightyear 2.


After more than two years of fundraising, prototype design, testing, and other prep work, Lightyear finally kicked off production on the Lightyear 0 in November 2022. The first solar-powered EV to actually come to fruition, the 0 charges on the go, collecting up to 70 kilometers (about 43 miles) of range each day from the sun. This enables the 0 to go months without having to be plugged in. Add a sharp, aerodynamic exterior and a clean interior, and you've got an impressive little car—the caveats being the slightly high $262,000 price tag, and that Lightyear hasn't disclosed exactly how many 0s they sold to customers.

But the 0's time on the assembly line has already come to a close. In a statement, Lightyear announced Monday that it's halting production of the 0, including (it seems) those that have already been paid for. This will pave the way for the Lightyear 2's commercial introduction.


The newly out-of-production Lightyear 0. (Image: Lightyear)

"We first developed Lightyear 0…at the same time we developed Lightyear 2, the affordable solar electric vehicle available for a wider audience," Lightyear said. "In order to safeguard our vision, we had to decide to redirect our focus and resources completely towards Lightyear 2. This means in effect that we had to suspend the production of Lightyear 0."

The company goes on to say that Lightyear has petitioned to stop all payments between itself and its intellectual property and manufacturing entities. Drivers who were hoping to snag a Lightyear 0 in 2023 have abruptly and officially been dismissed: When you click the "Configure your Lightyear 0" link on the automaker's website, you get an error 404.

In an eyebrow-raising reference to its current financial position, Lightyear said it's hoping to "conclude some key investments in the coming weeks" as it shifts its focus toward the 2. The new model will bear a reasonable price tag ($40,000 base) while maintaining an impressive 500-mile single-charge range, thanks to solar panels integrated into the roof. Lightyear has already gotten 20,000 fleet pre-orders and 40,000 people to join the vehicle's waitlist—something drivers can still do, if they haven't already been made skeptical of the automaker's ability to keep a promise.

Now Read:

The Earth Is Begging You to Accept Smaller EV Batteries
Is this article about Energy?
Electric vehicles
 are selling fast. But unless people change how they get around, the demand for battery materials threatens its own environmental disaster.
Enzymes are substances that cause chemical reactions. Certain types of enzymes, such as polyketide synthases and nonribosomal peptide synthetases, have the ability to shuffle their parts, allowing them to produce new chemicals. If scientists can understand how these enzymes shuffle their parts, they can understand how to use them to synthesize millions of molecules, such as pharmaceuticals and biofuels. However, engineering these enzymes is difficult because scientists don't fully understand how they work.