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Historisk har forudsætningerne for at levere kræftbehandling af høj kvalitet aldrig været bedre. Det må det danske sundheds­væsen ikke gå på kompromis med, mener Lars Henrik Jensen, cheflæge for Onkologisk Afdeling på Vejle Sygehus, som Dagens Medicin i dag kårer som Danmarks Bedste Hospital til kræftbehandling.

Scientists Found a Dinosaur's Face, Complete With Its Skin
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
The rest of dinosaur's body was intact, too, including the armor, spikes, limbs, and its stomach contents. Looking it in the eye might unnerve you.

Mesozoic Mummy

In 2011, archaeologists uncovered one of the most — if not the most — pristine dinosaur fossils yet: a near-whole ankylosaur, complete with its jagged spikes, most of its limbs, armor coating, and some of its guts and stomach contents. The most amazing detail, though? Its uncannily preserved face and skin.

It took Mark Mitchell, a technician at Royal Tyrell Museum, an absurd 7,000 hours and nearly six years to meticulously exhume the fossil by delicately chipping away at the surrounding stone. For his efforts, he had the newly discovered specie of nodosaur — a type of ankylosaur — named after him: Borealopelta markmitchelli.

"During preparation, I would piece together the blocks like a puzzle, and the animal started to really take shape," Mitchell said in a new interview with Ars Technica, describing the painstaking process.

"Right before Christmas one year," he continued, "I had pieced together both sides of the neck and the head, and you could really appreciate the impressiveness of the specimen and that this was a living creature with astounding preservation."

That's a holotype for the ages. The museum's curator, Donald Henderson, told Ars that he wagered it was a literal "one in a billion" find.


World Building

Researchers were able to get their hands on the remarkable specimen in 2017 after Mitchell had finished preparing it, and they've since published a series of impressive studies.

One such study led by Caleb Brown, a curator at Royal Tyrell, examined the bone structure known as osteoderms found on ankylosaurs, which in less freakishly preserved specimens, usually fall out of place.

These ones remained in their natural spots, however, and Brown measured all 172 of them.

"Many armored dinosaur skeletons are preserved disarticulated, meaning their bones are all jumbled up," Brown told Ars. "Having the osteoderms preserved in life position in this specimen, and other specimens, can give us clues as to how to reconstruct those specimens where the position of the armor is less clear."

His study's big takeaway? The suggestion that those iconic spikes aren't actually meant to stave off predators, but to show off in order to attract mates.

Another study on the specimen led by Brown and his colleagues posits that the Boreapelta used a form of camouflage known as countershading, which heretofore hasn't been observed in creatures of its size, i.e. big ones. As Ars notes, the fact that such a formidably armored dinosaur also had to employ camouflage to survive may imply that the Cretaceous period was even more cutthroat than once thought.

And the most recent study, published this month, offers an extremely rare look at the diet of dinosaurs like the Borealopelta.

So while its fate may be set in stone, the Borealopelta continues to shape our understanding of the almost alien world of the dinosaurs.

Read more: Researchers look a dinosaur in its remarkably preserved face

More on dinosaurs: In Terrifying News, Big Brained T-Rex May Have Been as Smart as Primates

The post Scientists Found a Dinosaur's Face, Complete With Its Skin appeared first on Futurism.





A giant diffuse tail of stars has been discovered emanating from a large, faint dwarf galaxy. The presence of a tail indicates that the galaxy has experienced recent interaction with another galaxy. This is an important clue for understanding how so called 'ultra-diffuse' galaxies are formed.

Infinity Pool Isn't Just Another Satire of the Ultra-Wealthy
Is this article about Entertainment?

One of pop culture's favorite locales of late is a secluded resort for the rich and irresponsible, a landscape defined by both gorgeous vistas and cutting satire. Think The White LotusGlass Onion, the culinary getaway of The Menu, or the doomed luxury yacht of Triangle of Sadness. It's the perfect setting for a story to deride opulent foolishness, give some wealthy villains their comeuppance, and critique the churning, ever-widening gyre between the haves and have-nots. But all of the aforementioned works, no matter how bluntly parodic, have one foot in reality, whereas Brandon Cronenberg's new sci-fi horror, Infinity Pool, takes that familiar domain and saturates it with wild, lurid futurism.

In his nascent filmmaking career, Cronenberg (son of the gnarly Canadian master David) has concentrated on unsettling interactions between technology and the human body. His 2020 breakthrough, Possessor, imagined a world where people could be taken over and puppeteered from afar, a process that was both spiritually disturbing and physically damaging. Infinity Pool offers an equally disquieting invention: human cloning, via a pool of red goo, used expressly for punishment.

[Read: A new dystopian thriller that will twist your stomach and your brain]

Infinity Pool is set in the fictional country of Li Tolqa, about which the audience learns very little; we know only that it is beautiful and that the resort where James Foster (played by Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman), are staying is the kind that few people can afford. James is a novelist in search of inspiration. He has traveled to a hoity-toity tourist trap, but at first, he finds little beyond fancy booze and free-flowing privilege. James then runs into a flirty but frenzied actor named Gabi (Mia Goth), who gets him to lower his inhibitions. Their goofy liaison morphs into something darker when James kills a pedestrian in a nighttime hit-and-run.

Fear not, the local government assures him: Any punishment can be imposed on his clone, one that officials will create and then execute, as long as he agrees to witness the rendering of that judgment. The conceit is perverse, multilayered, and yucky. And it carries some provocative commentary on late capitalism. Li Tolqa's technology is dizzyingly advanced, spitting out a perfect James copy with ease, but its use is ethically twisted, not to mention existentially worrisome. After all, how can James be sure that his clone is being murdered, and not his original self?

That ambiguity is inherent to the copy-pasted brain, a sci-fi notion that's been popular in recent years. Cronenberg leaves those quandaries of identity for the audience to mull over. James soon gets addicted to the nihilistic mayhem afforded by this technology; he (and similarly amoral pals such as Gabi) can behave recklessly and leave the punishment to their clones. The question of which James is the authentic one gets lost fairly quickly, but the character never had much of a personality to begin with. Much of the thrust behind Cronenberg's gory satire is that cloning such a soulless man is like dividing the number zero.

The premise of Infinity Pool was deliciously nasty enough to keep me invested for most of its nearly two-hour running time. Cronenberg has an obvious gift for making blood and viscera look inventive, even as they splatter across the screen repeatedly. But the film can't outdo its initial hook; James and Gabi's evil affair loses its shock value after the deeply upsetting execution of James's first clone. Infinity Pool spends a lot of time watching vapid elites get murdered over and over again. At a certain point, every last bit of allegory has been killed as well.


Scientists Name "Funky Worm" Amphibian After a Weird 70s Funk Song
New amphibian fossils just dropped, and this one, the "funky worm," is named for a really strange 1970s funk song beloved by its discoverers.

Funky Little Monkey

A new ancient amphibian just dropped, and this one is named for an exceptionally bizarre 1970s funk song.

Named Funcusvermis gilmorei — or "funky worm" — by paleontologists at Virginia Tech, this newly-discovered little dude whose debut graces the pages of a recent issue of the Nature journal seems to plug a hole in the strange lineage of caecilians, a toothy, limbless, subterranean and honestly quite creepy type of amphibian.

As VT geoscience doctoral student and F. gilmorei co-discoverer Ben Kligman said in the school's press release, finding the funky worm's fossils was particularly exciting because researchers had for a long time been stumped as to where caecilians actually came from, with a whopping 87 million years between ancestors that, until recently, had yet to be filled.

"Seeing the first jaw under the microscope, with its distinctive double row of teeth, sent chills down my back," Kligman adorably recounted. "We immediately knew it was a caecilian, the oldest caecilian fossil ever found, and a once-in-a-lifetime discovery."

As the press release notes, the funky worm "shares skeletal features related more with early frog and salamander fossils," which may also point towards caecilians' strange origins being shared with other amphibians.


By Any Other Name

As the VT statement notes, this groovy guy was named after the Ohio Players' hilarious 1972 song "Funky Worm," which was apparently one of the study authors' favorite tunes during their 2019 dig at Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park, where they first discovered the fossil that became F. gilmorei.

The last part of the species' scientific name, the press release notes, is meant to honor Drexel University's Ned Gilmore, a collections curator at Drexel University's Academy of Natural Sciences with whom Kligman volunteered back in the day as an undergrad.

As lead paleontologist Adam Marsh notes in the press release, the scientists' irreverent naming process fits F. gilmorei perfectly.

"As the eponymous song says," Marsh quipped, "it's the funkiest worm in the world."

More on new, ancient discoveries: Scientists Sequence DNA They Found From 2 Million Years Ago

The post Scientists Name "Funky Worm" Amphibian After a Weird 70s Funk Song appeared first on Futurism.


We're in Awe of Amsterdam's Huge Underwater Bike Parking Garage
The city of Amsterdam just unveiled an underwater bike parking garage for the city's cyclers. It's beautiful, efficient, and further disincentives cars.

Modern Marvel

In the global effort to disincentivize emissions-heavy automobile use, no one is doing it quite like the Dutch.

The city of Amsterdam just unveiled a truly remarkable underwater parking garage for the city's many cyclers, making it easier than ever for bikers to commute, clearing the above-ground streets of thousands of messy, jumbled bike racks, and ultimately, making cars that much more irrelevant in the famously bike-friendly city, according to The Verge.

The garage is built at Amsterdam's Centraal Station, where, per the Verge, roughly 200,000 travelers — half on bicycle — pass through each day. In total, the build took four years, ran up a $65 million bill, and can fit 7,000 bikes at once.

And trust us, it really is a sight to behold.


Pros v Cons

Beyond an easier commute, other pros include wildly affordable fees, especially by American standards — underwater bike parking is free for the first 24 hours, and then just $1.46 per each additional day — and little to no delays getting in and out of the building, according to the Verge. You do need a certain bank card or bike tag, but the bike tag is apparently easy to pick up. The structure also houses a bike-share program, which is great for folks passing through.

Indeed, the whole experience seems pretty streamlined, and inexpensive to boot. But there are some caveats, among them being that the structure reportedly can't house cargo bikes or increasingly popular electric bikes. There apparently aren't any e-bike charging ports, either.

Even so, these oversights certainly seem rectifiable, and like small bananas compared to the structure's many merits.

Global Leader

The Netherlands is undoubtedly one of the world's leaders in both environmentally-forward policy and climate-mitigating infrastructure measures. Authorities are well aware that about a third of their nation — an area that includes their capital city —  is below sea level, and are continuing to build on decades of very cool innovation towards a more sustainable, bike- and public transport-happy future.

That all said, Holland is very small, and a project like this is relatively easy to rally support for when, as the Verge points out, about 35 percent of citizens use their bikes daily. But it's still an engineering marvel.

READ MORE: Amsterdam's underwater parking garage fits 7,000 bicycles and zero cars [The Verge]

More on interesting engineering: Scientists Propose Turning Skyscrapers into Massive Gravity Batteries

The post We're in Awe of Amsterdam's Huge Underwater Bike Parking Garage appeared first on Futurism.


In a new breakthrough, researchers have solved a problem that has caused quantum researchers headaches for years. The researchers can now control two quantum light sources rather than one. Trivial as it may seem to those uninitiated in quantum, this colossal breakthrough allows researchers to create a phenomenon known as quantum mechanical entanglement. This in turn, opens new doors for companies and others to exploit the technology commercially.

New AI tool makes speedy gene-editing possible
An artificial intelligence program may enable the first simple production of customizable proteins called zinc fingers to treat diseases by turning genes on and off. The researchers who designed the tool say it promises to accelerate the development of gene therapies on a large scale.

Scientists observe 'quasiparticles' in classical systems
Quasiparticles — long-lived particle-like excitations — are a cornerstone of quantum physics, with famous examples such as Cooper pairs in superconductivity and, recently, Dirac quasiparticles in graphene. Now, researchers have discovered quasiparticles in a classical system at room temperature: a two-dimensional crystal of particles driven by viscous flow in a microfluidic channel. Coupled by hydrodynamic forces, the particles form stable pairs — a first example of classical quasiparticles, revealing deep links between quantum and classical dissipative systems.

Scientists have discovered the first gamma-ray eclipses from a special type of binary star system using data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. These so-called spider systems each contain a pulsar — the superdense, rapidly rotating remains of a star that exploded in a supernova — that slowly erodes its companion.

Webb spies Chariklo ring system with high-precision technique
In an observational feat of high precision, scientists used a new technique with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to capture the shadows of starlight cast by the thin rings of Chariklo. Chariklo is an icy, small body, but the largest of the known Centaur population, located more than 2 billion miles away beyond the orbit of Saturn.



squamous cell carcinoma
 (CESC) is a prototypical human cancer with well-characterized pathological stages of initiation and progression. However, high-resolution knowledge of the transcriptional programs underlying each stage of CESC is lacking, and important questions remain. We performed single-cell RNA sequencing of 76,911 individual cells from 13 samples of human cervical tissues at various stages of 
, illuminating the transcriptional tumorigenic trajectory of cervical epithelial cells and revealing key factors involved in CESC initiation and progression. In addition, we found significant correlations between the abundance of specific myeloid, lymphoid, and endothelial cell populations and the progression of CESC, which were also associated with patients' prognosis. Last, we demonstrated the tumor-promoting function of matrix cancer–associated fibroblasts via the NRG1-ERBB3 pathway in CESC. This study provides a valuable resource and deeper insights into CESC initiation and progression, which is helpful in refining CESC diagnosis and for the design of optimal treatment strategies.



Real-time localization and microbial activity information of indigenous gut microbiota over an extended period of time remains a challenge with existing visualizing methods. Here, we report a metabolic fluorine labeling (MEFLA)–based strategy for monitoring the dynamic gut microbiota via 19 F magnetic resonance imaging ( 19 F MRI). In situ labeling of different microbiota subgroups is achieved by using a panel of peptidoglycan-targeting MEFLA probes containing 19 F atoms of different chemical shifts, and subsequent real-time in vivo imaging is accomplished by multiplexed hotspot 19 F MRI with high sensitivity and unlimited penetration. Using this method, we realize extended visualization (>24 hours) of native gut microbes located at different intestinal sections and semiquantitative analysis of their metabolic dynamics modulated by various conditions, such as the host death and different β-lactam antibiotics. Our strategy holds great potential for noninvasive and real-time assessing of the metabolic activities and locations of the highly dynamic gut microbiota.



Single-ion selectivity with high precision has long been pursued for fundamental bioinspired engineering and applications such as in ion separation and energy conversion. However, it remains a challenge to develop artificial ion channels to achieve single-ion selectivity comparable to their biological analogs, especially for high Na /K selectivity. Here, we report an artificial sodium channel by subnanoconfinement of 4′-aminobenzo-15-crown-5 ethers (15C5s) into ~6-Å-sized metal-organic framework subnanochannel (MOFSNC). The resulting 15C5-MOFSNC shows an unprecedented Na /K selectivity of tens to 10 and Na /Li selectivity of 10 under multicomponent permeation conditions, comparable to biological sodium channels. A co–ion-responsive single-file transport mechanism in 15C-MOFSNC is proposed for the preferential transport of Na over K due to the synergetic effects of size exclusion, charge selectivity, local hydrophobicity, and preferential binding with functional groups. This study provides an alternative strategy for developing potential single-ion selective channels and membranes for many applications.

Is this article about Neuroscience?


Measles virus (MeV), which is usually non-neurotropic, sometimes persists in the brain and causes subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) several years after acute infection, serving as a model for persistent viral infections. The persisting MeVs have hyperfusogenic mutant fusion (F) proteins that likely enable cell-cell fusion at synapses and "en bloc transmission" between neurons. We here show that during persistence, F protein fusogenicity is generally enhanced by cumulative mutations, yet mutations paradoxically reducing the fusogenicity may be selected alongside the wild-type (non-neurotropic) MeV genome. A mutant F protein having SSPE-derived substitutions exhibits lower fusogenicity than the hyperfusogenic F protein containing some of those substitutions, but by the wild-type F protein coexpression, the fusogenicity of the former F protein is enhanced, while that of the latter is nearly abolished. These findings advance the understanding of the long-term process of MeV neuropathogenicity and provide critical insight into the genotype-phenotype relationships of en bloc transmitted viruses.

Is this article about Weather?


Reactive trace gas emissions from the polar oceans are poorly characterized, even though their effects on atmospheric chemistry and aerosol formation are crucial for assessing current and preindustrial aerosol forcing on climate. Here, we present seawater and atmospheric measurements of benzene and toluene, two gases typically associated with pollution, in the remote Southern Ocean and the Arctic marginal ice zone. Their distribution suggests a marine biogenic source. Calculated emission fluxes were 0.023 ± 0.030 (benzene) and 0.039 ± 0.036 (toluene) and 0.023 ± 0.028 (benzene) and 0.034 ± 0.041 (toluene) μmol m −2 day −1 for the Southern Ocean and the Arctic, respectively. Including these average emissions in a chemistry-climate model increased secondary organic aerosol mass concentrations only by 0.1% over the Arctic but by 7.7% over the Southern Ocean, with transient episodes of up to 77.3%. Climate models should consider the hitherto overlooked emissions of benzene and toluene from the polar oceans.

Is this article about Animals?


During meiosis, DNA recombination allows the shuffling of genetic information between the maternal and paternal chromosomes. Recombination is initiated by double-strand breaks (DSBs) catalyzed by the conserved enzyme Spo11. How this crucial event is connected to other meiotic processes is unexpectedly variable depending on the species. Here, we knocked down Spo11 by CRISPR in the jellyfish Clytia hemisphaerica . Germ cells in Clytia Spo11 mutants fail to assemble synaptonemal complexes and chiasmata, and in consequence, homologous chromosome pairs in females remain unassociated during oocyte growth and meiotic divisions, creating aneuploid but fertilizable eggs that develop into viable larvae. Clytia thus shares an ancient eukaryotic dependence of synapsis and chromosome segregation on Spo11-generated DSBs. Phylogenetically, Clytia belongs to Cnidaria, the sister clade to Bilateria where classical animal model species are found, so these results provide fresh evolutionary perspectives on meiosis regulation.



Replication stress is a major source of endogenous DNA damage. Despite the identification of numerous proteins on replication forks to modulate fork or replication machinery activities, it remains unexplored whether noncoding RNAs can localize on stalled forks and play critical regulatory roles. Here, we identify an uncharacterized long noncoding RNA NONMMUT028956 ( Lnc956 for short) predominantly expressed in mouse embryonic stem cells. Lnc956 is accumulated on replication forks to prevent fork collapse and preserve 
genomic stability
 and is essential for mouse embryogenesis. Mechanistically, it drives assembly of the Lnc956 -TRIM28-
 complex on stalled forks in an interdependent manner downstream of ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) signaling. Lnc956 -TRIM28-HSP90B1 complex physically associates with minichromosome maintenance proteins 2 (MCM2) to minichromosome maintenance proteins 7 (MCM7) hexamer via TRIM28 and directly regulates the CDC45-MCM-GINS (CMG) 
 retention on chromatin. The regulation of Lnc956 -TRIM28-HSP90B1 on CMG retention is mediated by HSP90B1's chaperoning function. These findings reveal a player that actively regulates replisome retention to prevent fork collapse.

Is this article about Food Science?


Degenerative diseases affecting the nervous and skeletal systems affect the health of millions of elderly people. 
 (OPTN) has been associated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases and Paget's disease of bone (PDB), a degenerative 
bone disease
 initiated by hyperactive osteoclastogenesis. In this study, we found age-related increase in OPTN and nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (NRF2) in vivo. At the molecular level, OPTN could directly interact with both NRF2 and its negative regulator Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) for up-regulating antioxidant response. At the cellular level, deletion of OPTN resulted in increased intracellular reactive oxygen species and increased osteoclastogenic potential. At the tissue level, deletion of OPTN resulted in substantially increased oxidative stress derived from leukocytes that further stimulate osteoclastogenesis. Last, curcumin attenuated hyperactive osteoclastogenesis induced by OPTN deficiency in aged mice. Collectively, our findings reveal an OPTN-NRF2 axis maintaining bone homeostasis and suggest that antioxidants have therapeutic potential for PDB.



Membrane proteins expressed on the surface of enveloped viruses are conformational antigens readily recognized by B cells of the immune system. An effective vaccine would require the synthesis and delivery of these native conformational antigens in lipid membranes that preserve specific epitope structures. We have created an extracellular vesicle–based technology that allows viral membrane antigens to be selectively recruited onto the surface of WW domain–activated extracellular vesicles (WAEVs). Budding of WAEVs requires secretory carrier-associated membrane protein 3, which through its proline-proline-alanine-tyrosine motif interacts with WW domains to recruit fused viral membrane antigens onto WAEVs. Immunization with influenza and HIV viral membrane proteins displayed on WAEVs elicits production of virus-specific neutralizing antibodies and, in the case of influenza antigens, protects mice from the lethal viral infection. WAEVs thus represent a versatile platform for presenting and delivering membrane antigens as vaccines against influenza, HIV, and potentially many other viral pathogens.



Systemic messenger RNA (mRNA) delivery to organs outside the liver, spleen, and lungs remains challenging. To overcome this issue, we hypothesized that altering nanoparticle chemistry and administration routes may enable mRNA-induced protein expression outside of the reticuloendothelial system. Here, we describe a strategy for delivering mRNA potently and specifically to the pancreas using lipid nanoparticles. Our results show that delivering lipid nanoparticles containing cationic helper lipids by intraperitoneal administration produces robust and specific protein expression in the pancreas. Most resultant protein expression occurred within insulin-producing β cells. Last, we found that pancreatic mRNA delivery was dependent on horizontal gene transfer by peritoneal macrophage exosome secretion, an underappreciated mechanism that influences the delivery of mRNA lipid nanoparticles. We anticipate that this strategy will enable gene therapies for intractable pancreatic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?


Despite the advancements in skin bioengineering, 3D skin constructs are still produced as flat tissues with open edges, disregarding the fully enclosed geometry of human skin. Therefore, they do not effectively cover anatomically complex body sites, e.g., hands. Here, we challenge the prevailing paradigm by engineering the skin as a fully enclosed 3D tissue that can be shaped after a body part and seamlessly transplanted as a biological clothing. Our wearable edgeless skin constructs (WESCs) show enhanced dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and mechanical properties compared to conventional constructs. WESCs display region-specific cell/ECM alignment, as well as physiologic anisotropic mechanical properties. WESCs replace the skin in full-thickness wounds of challenging body sites (e.g., mouse hindlimbs) with minimal suturing and shorter surgery time. This study provides a compelling technology that may substantially improve wound care and suggests that the recapitulation of the tissue macroanatomy can lead to enhanced biological function.



Transcription factor CP2c (also known as TFCP2, α-CP2, LSF, and LBP-1c) is involved in diverse ubiquitous and tissue/stage-specific cellular processes and in human malignancies such as cancer. Despite its importance, many fundamental regulatory mechanisms of CP2c are still unclear. Here, we uncover an unprecedented mechanism of CP2c degradation via a previously unidentified SUMO1/PSME3/20 proteasome pathway and its biological meaning. CP2c is SUMOylated in a SUMO1-dependent way, and SUMOylated CP2c is degraded through the ubiquitin-independent PSME3 (also known as REGγ or PA28)/20 proteasome system. SUMOylated PSME3 could also interact with CP2c to degrade CP2c via the 20 proteasomal pathway. Moreover, precisely timed degradation of CP2c via the SUMO1/PSME3/20 proteasome axis is required for accurate progression of the cell cycle. Therefore, we reveal a unique SUMO1-mediated uncanonical 20 proteasome degradation mechanism via the SUMO1/PSME3 axis involving mutual SUMO-SIM interaction of CP2c and PSME3, providing previously unidentified mechanistic insights into the roles of dynamic degradation of CP2c in cell cycle progression.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
Fluid dynamics researchers use many techniques to study turbulent flows like ocean currents, or the swirling atmosphere of other planets. Arezoo Adrekani's team has discovered that a mathematical construct used in these fields provides valuable information about stress in complex flow geometries.

BuzzFeed Columnist Tells CEO to "Get F*cked" for Move to AI Content
One of the most famous BuzzFeed columnists has some harsh words for CEO Jonah Peretti over his decision to include AI in the site's content operations.

Get Bent

One of 


's most famous writers has some harsh words for CEO Jonah Peretti's decision to integrate AI into the site's content operations.

"I'm normally in the business of giving solicited advice but I'd like to take this opportunity to tell the CEO of BuzzFeed to get fucked," tweeted Max Collins, a columnist for BuzzFeed News — the news arm of the site — who's perhaps best known as the lead vocalist and frontman of 90s alt-rock phenoms Eve 6.

In a chat with Futurism, Collins elaborated on his remarks and reiterated why he believes Peretti — the brother of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Chelsea Peretti," incidentally — can stick it where the Sun don't shine.

As Collins noted both in his own pithy tweet and to us, "BuzzFeed's stock value soared" after Peretti announced yesterday that the company intended to use software from ChatGPT creator OpenAI to beef up its content mill, including those infamously cringe quizzes.

"This is so bleak," the Eve 6 bassist told us, "and it's only the beginning of a trend that is already having a devastating effect on all types of workers."

Tweet in a Blender

After the publication of this story, a BuzzFeed spokesperson pointed to an interview Peretti conducted with CNN this week in which he envisioned a path for AI in digital media that's "more personalized, more creative, more dynamic — where really talented people who work at our company are able to use AI together and entertain and personalize more than you could ever do without AI."

Collins fears a much worse future, though.

"The dystopia is here and it's not being brought about by the kind of abstract government tyranny technocrats like [Elon] Musk would have people believe it is, but by technology's facilitation of corporate greed," Collins told us. "And it's not just the case of a few supremely villainous CEOs being shitty either — it's our capitalist system that demands that it's incentives be followed."

Are you a BuzzFeed staffer with thoughts about the company's use of AI? Feel free to email us. We can keep you anonymous.

The 90s rock star said that fellow Twitter superstar merritt k's analysis of the BuzzFeed AI debacle was the "most accurate and troubling commentary" he'd seen:

Dude I'm so excited to live through a time when AI means nobody wants to pay for most jobs but we still think you need to work to be allowed to eat and have a place to live. It's going to be just like Star Trek (the part before the show starts when everything fucking sucks).

They're not wrong, folks — it does seem not only that BuzzFeed's spectacular failure to read the room will result not only in yet another dangerous changing of norms in the already-imperiled digital media industry, but also that they're being rewarded by investors for making such a disgustingly bold move.

Jon Christian contributed reporting.

More on OpenAI: World's Third Richest Person Says He's Developed "Addiction" to ChatGPT

The post BuzzFeed Columnist Tells CEO to "Get F*cked" for Move to AI Content appeared first on Futurism.


Even When Ticketmaster Works, It Doesn't
Is this article about Ecommerce?

There was a time, not so long ago, when you actually had to show up at a concert to get ripped off. Scalping, the process of buying tickets for cheap and reselling them to desperate fans, usually on the day of a show, used to be limited to crowded stadium entranceways and sidewalk waiting areas.

These days it all happens on 


. As fans of Taylor Swift know best, America's leading online ticket peddler is a mess: Late last year, the site buckled under the pressure of presale demand for the megastar's Eras Tour. When a bot attack overwhelmed the site, many fans were left in the lurch, forced to turn to secondary markets with markups in the tens of thousands of dollars. In a congressional hearing this week sparked largely by that fiasco, just about everyone ganged up on Ticketmaster's parent company, Live Nation Entertainment. "I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement," Senator Richard Blumenthal told Live Nation's president and CFO, Joe Berchtold. "You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause."

The Swift debacle may have had the precise kind of universal appeal to unite Congress on this issue—the site's partial crash provoked widespread outrage—but even if this is an edge case, Ticketmaster represents a product that's fundamentally unsatisfying even when it works. An interface that should be minimal and clear is mired in confusion, and plagued by automated scalpers that snap up tickets faster than real, human customers can check out. Considering Ticketmaster's size and value, you would expect something smoother: Live Nation now controls much of the American market for live events and tickets; to encounter this multibillion-dollar chimera of an events-promotion firm, venue-management business, and ticketing platform isn't really a choice, in 2023, as much as a demoralizing inevitability. Even putting aside all the problems that come with Ticketmaster's enormous market share, the site's basic consumer experience has begun to feel rickety. If customers have nowhere else to go, why bother changing things?

Buying tickets to a Taylor Swift concert will probably put a dent in your wallet, but it shouldn't—to quote Swift's own assessment of the situation—feel like going through "several bear attacks." In the best-case scenario, customers would feed money into the system and receive their tickets without much hassle. That's not the reality for many consumers. Take the biggest problem people seem to have with Ticketmaster: hidden fees. In some instances, fans end up paying an additional 60 or 70 percent of a ticket's face value—charges with opaque names that pop up at the last second. That fees are high is one thing; that customers don't even know what these fees are for, or that they don't necessarily know they're coming, is another. Even when Ticketmaster is ostensibly doing its job, purchasers are likely to come away overloaded. (In an emailed statement, Ticketmaster professed full support for "upfront all-in pricing" and said that it has "invested over $1 billion in capital to improve the Ticketmaster system.")

But Ticketmaster's woes don't end with fees. Sales of all types have been plagued with bot attacks for years. Taylor Swift presale tickets involved a kind of anti-bot verification system, but as Berchtold admitted during the hearing, bots got in anyway. This was an issue even before Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010—bots, which can snag tickets within fractions of a second and artificially inflate prices for any sort of live event, are something this industry can't seem to beat. The problem is compounded by long wait times: Fans might end up queueing hours and hours for a ticket that not only is out of reach, but is funneled straight into the resale market, where brutal markups await. In the case of the Swift tour, fans who didn't make it onto the presale list didn't have any customer experience at all—Ticketmaster canceled the public sale when it realized it didn't have enough tickets left to sell.

During the hearing, Berchtold tried to claim that Ticketmaster dominates the market because of the quality of its product, but these confusions are as much a result of poor design as extractive business decisions abetted by the company's disproportionate power in the marketplace. The CEO of the corporate rival SeatGeek, who was also at the hearing, said, "We don't know who has the best product, because there is not a competition." (SeatGeek is not perfect either: The company apparently charged one woman 14 times for Swift tickets she never even purchased.)

Despite what Live Nation's president seems to want Congress to think, the company now finds itself in this position largely because of its market dominance. It's true of many businesses, but particularly those that offer some kind of tech solution: As competition wanes, the product itself stagnates. Because no other company poses a serious threat to Live Nation's market share, it has no financial reason to invest greater resources into solving its bot problem, or to reinforce its infrastructure to be able to handle millions of concurrent requests.

At a moment when much of the discourse around tech monopolies has to do with the social, political, and economic power they've come to exert over the past two decades, it's easy to forget about the evolution of the products themselves. Google—the internet search tool, not the company—hasn't changed all that much over the past 15 years, because it hasn't really needed to; it's still the search tool of choice for the majority of information seekers, even if the site isn't quite as effective as it used to be. That Amazon has figured out one-day delivery makes for a better consumer experience, but search results are now cluttered with ads and intrusive product recommendations.

Though it can feel as intractable as a utility company, Ticketmaster is still mostly a functional business. But it shouldn't wait to reveal hidden fees until the moment of purchase, and it certainly shouldn't leave its infrastructure this vulnerable to outside manipulation. The biggest ticketer should expect the most traffic, and it should protect its tech accordingly. These are basic asks of a product that's in many ways stuck in the past. If only Ticketmaster had a reason to listen.


Some of the world's biggest academic journal publishers have banned or curbed their authors from using the advanced chatbot, 
. Because the bot uses information from the internet to produce highly readable answers to questions, the publishers are worried that inaccurate or plagiarized work could enter the pages of academic literature.

Trashy TV Prank Show Deepfakes Celebrities Into Jackass-Style Situations
A new British TV show called "Deep Fake Neighbor Wars" is betting big on deepfakes and is putting celebrities up against each other as discontent neighbors.

A new British TV show called "Deep Fake Neighbor Wars" — created by ITV, the channel that brought you "Love Island" — is betting big on deepfakes by putting the likes of Kim Kardashian and Idris Elba up against each other as discontent neighbors.

The setup is predictable: digitally disguised celebrity impressionists play out skits, stretched out over an excruciating 20 minutes of air time.

It sounds like a dumpster fire attempt to skewer the A-listers we've grown to love — or despise. How else would you get Adele to scream at Jake Paul for allowing his racing pigeons to poop on her lawn, or Usain Bolt stealing his neighbor Rihanna's underwear?

The show's marketing is equally uninspired, in a limp attempt to capitalize on the public's interest in AI tech.

"Our celebs are all played by actors," the show claims at the beginning of each episode. "Their faces are all DEEP FAKED."

The comedy's creators claim it's "the world's first long-form narrative show that uses deepfake technology," The Guardian reports — a big claim that leaves us wondering: who the hell was asking for this?

It's almost like they're gunning to be sued by a number of celebrities considering there's basically no chance the show's producers were able to have each and every celebrity sign off on all of this.

The news comes after a number of celebrities' deepfaked likenesses started appearing in random ads, sometimes without approval.

Of course, the fact that it's intended as comedy may set "Deep Fake Neighbor Wars" apart.

"The major ethical issue with deepfakes is the idea that they're trying to trick us — but this isn't a problem when they're used for obvious comedy," argued Dominic Lees, an associate professor in filmmaking at the University of Reading, who called ITV's show "the tip of the iceberg" in a piece for The Conversation.

But that could give the show too much credit. The reviews are in, and they're, perhaps unsurprisingly, excoriating.

"So cheaply made, and so aggressively underwritten, that, even at just 20-minutes, it makes you intensely conscious of your own mortality," reads the subhead to The Independent's view.

"This is the world of 'Deep Fake Neighbour Wars,' a show that mixes comedy and technology with as much success as Dave Chapelle welcoming Elon Musk as his warm-up act," the review reads, a reference to Musk's ill-advised attempt to show up at the disgraced comedian's gig in San Francisco that led to a cacophony of boos and jeers.

But, perhaps, that's the show's intention, as The Independent argues: an attempt to create a show that's "so bad it's good."

The more realistic outcome of all of this will likely be the internet chopping up the show's footage into bite-sized clips to be shared and forgotten on social media — something that's probably not even worth suing over.

READ MORE: Deep Fake Neighbour Wars review – the puerile joy of Idris Elba fighting Kim Kardashian over a wheelbarrow [The Guardian]

More on deepfakes: This Keanu Reeves Deepfake Is Giving Us Shivers

The post Trashy TV Prank Show Deepfakes Celebrities Into Jackass-Style Situations appeared first on Futurism.


AI technology generates original proteins from scratch
Scientists have created an AI system capable of generating artificial enzymes from scratch. In laboratory tests, some of these enzymes worked as well as those found in nature, even when their artificially generated amino acid sequences diverged significantly from any known natural protein.

Yes, Mr. President, There Is Some There There

Crisis communications, at its core, is pretty simple: Discern where the story is going. Fully disclose the facts. Admit where mistakes were made. And do it all as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

So it's been a little confounding to watch Joe Biden's White House deal with the discovery of classified documents from his years as vice president and in the Senate casually stored in a variety of locations, including his garage in Wilmington, Delaware, beside his prized 1967 Corvette.

The impact of the first discovery, on November 2, must have been immediately apparent to Biden's team, given the public uproar and legal thicket Donald Trump created by absconding with hundreds of classified documents when he left the White House in 2021, only to dump them at his Mar-a-Lago resort. President Biden criticized Trump for that in the fall, asking, "How could anyone be that irresponsible?"

Biden rightly noted that documents are marked classified and top secret for a reason: to protect intelligence-gathering "sources and methods" and those who risk their lives to provide crucial national-security secrets. There are protocols for handling such documents, and unsecured storerooms—or unguarded garages—are not among them. Nor are former presidents and vice presidents entitled to take classified documents as mementos when they leave office.

[Read: Biden's classified documents should have no impact on Trump's legal jeopardy]

Why, then, did it take months after the first discovery for the White House to acknowledge that Biden, too, had classified documents in his possession—and why did that acknowledgment come only after a leak to CBS News about an ongoing federal investigation into the matter? And why did the White House's first disclosure omit that there had been a second discovery of documents, on December 20 at Biden's home in Delaware? (There have been sporadic additional discoveries announced since, adding to a sense of furtiveness and lack of transparency on Biden's part.)

Last week, Biden compounded his problems by declaring that when the special counsel investigation Attorney General Merrick Garland launched into the president's handling of documents is complete, the country will discover that "there's no there there." What he likely meant was that this will be found to have been an innocent mistake, probably made by staff as they hastily packed up his office and official residence when he left the vice presidency in 2017. (This is the same case former Vice President Mike Pence is making about classified documents newly discovered in his Indiana home.)

In Biden's defense, his lawyers, upon discovery of the first set of documents, contacted the National Archives and surrendered the materials. The president's legal team has been cooperating with the Justice Department in its probe. Trump, by contrast, removed hundreds of documents. The National Archives and then the FBI spent more than a year trying to recover the materials. Trump's lawyer asserted that all the documents had been returned when many had not. And the former president claimed that, having declassified them through some mystical process for which there is no record, he was perfectly free to keep them.

Still, Biden's "no there there" comment landed clumsily, as there were documents there, in his old private office and at his home. At best, it was sloppy and improper. There is some there there. Biden and the White House seemingly have violated every precept—speed, transparency, contrition—of crisis communications.

But here is where I cut the flacks some slack. From the moment the first documents were discovered and turned over to the government, Biden's lawyers seized control. Their primary mission has been to protect their client from legal, not political, jeopardy. And their objective has been to work with the probe, and be transparent with the prosecutors, who, as a matter of investigative protocol, never want public disclosure until their inquiries have concluded. I presume that is why Biden's team didn't acknowledge when the CBS story broke that there had been a second recovery of documents.

[David A. Graham: A guide to the possible forthcoming indictments of Donald Trump]

They quickly learned, however, that although prosecutors disdain disclosures from the subjects of their probes, leaks can still happen. This week, after the FBI searched the president's Delaware home, with his permission, unnamed sources told CNN that federal investigators had been prepared to issue a warrant if the president had refused, though such a threat proved unnecessary. It was a gratuitous leak, perhaps meant to blunt Republican criticism about political bias against the DOJ and FBI, who were granted a subpoena to search Mar-a-Lago last summer after repeated attempts failed to recover the documents from Trump.

Biden's team appears to be betting that full cooperation, and less public conversation, will lead to a relatively benign conclusion from Special Counsel Robert Hur, and that all this will wind up as an embarrassing and transient flap, rather than an enduring scandal. The revelation about Pence adds to the "everyone does it" assumption so easily sold in our nuance-resistant politics, perhaps to Biden's benefit and certainly to Trump's.

For now, the Biden docudrama is like a ball of yarn for House Republicans intent on tearing into the president, which risks hurting his standing among the broader public. It also could make it harder for the DOJ to pursue a case against Trump. But the president and his team might be willing to endure weeks or months more of shouted questions they cannot or will not answer if that means the special counsel ultimately absolves him of any serious wrongdoing.


Weed Might Not Make You Creative After All
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012 and 19 other states have since followed suit.
Marijuana is often credited as aiding the creative process. Singers from Louis Armstrong to Lady Gaga have spoken about their penchant for weed and a large number of songs – such as The Beatles' "Got to get you into my life" and Afroman's "Because I got high" – were written in tribute to the drug. According to previous studies, more than 70 percent of cannabis users take the drug to be more creative and most of them say it works. But weed's creative reputation is now in question, however, after a new study published in the journal Applied Psychology determined that marijuana doesn't get the creative juices flowing after all. The paper did show that cannabis does induce a feeling of joviality, which consequently makes people think that their ideas and actions are more creative. "Our findings suggest that cannabis use may positively bias evaluations of creativity but have no impact on creativity," conclude the study's authors from the University of Virginia, University of Washington and the National University of Singapore. Read More: Are the Effects of Cannabis and Alcohol in the Body the Same? Creatives and Cannabis The scientists became interested in studying cannabis – beyond its health implications – following its legalization in several jurisdictions across the United States. Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012 and 19 other states have since followed suit. Today, 15 states permit marijuana use for medical purposes. It's thought that this process of decriminalization has led to increased use of the drug. A 2022 study found that people who live in states where cannabis has been legalized, use it 20 percent more frequently that those who live in states where it is still criminalized. So then if there's an increase in use, what is the impact to its users? The authors of the study recruited 191 cannabis users from Washington State. The participants were split into two groups. The first group had not used cannabis in the previous 12 hours, whereas the second group had used cannabis in the last 15 minutes. All participants were first asked if they were "happy" and joyful and then both groups were tasked with coming up with as many creative uses as they could for a brick in four minutes. After completing the task, they were then asked to assess how creative they had been. Those who had used cannabis recently were more likely to be happy and joyful than those who hadn't. Thanks to this jovial mood, they also rated their own ideas as more creative than the control group. After crunching the numbers, however, the researchers found that recently using cannabis didn't increase creativity; there was no significant difference between the two groups. Clear Mind for Creativity These findings build on previous work. Back in 2015, scientists at Leiden University in the Netherlands, administered a low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol – which is the active ingredient in cannabis – to 18 participants and a high dose to 18 participants. They also gave 18 other people a placebo. Read More: Mixing Weed And Alcohol? Crossfading Does This To Your Body They then asked both groups to do a creative thinking task; the results showed that the high dose participants performed significantly worse than the low dose and placebo participants. The scientists concluded that low potency cannabis has no effect on creativity and highly potent cannabis degrades creativity. When it comes down to it; a clear mind prevails in creativity.

West Antarctica Ice Sheet collapse isn't set in stone
Jagged white icebergs sitting next to each other in deep blue water.

The pace and extent of ice destabilization along West Antarctica's coast varies according to differences in regional climate, according to a new study.

The researchers combined satellite imagery and climate and ocean records to obtain the most detailed understanding yet of how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—which contains enough ice to raise global sea level by 11 feet, or 3.3 meters—is responding to climate change.

The findings in Nature Communications show that while the West Antarctic Ice Sheet continues to retreat, the pace of retreat slowed in a key region between 2003 and 2015, driven by ocean temperatures, which were in turn caused by variations in offshore winds.

Landsat 9 satellite imagery shows the fractured front of the Crosson Ice Shelf in the Amundsen Sector of West Antarctica. The pace of the ice shelf's retreat slowed in this region from 2003 to 2015. The new research shows that changes in offshore winds brought less warm seawater into contact with the glacier. (Credit: NASA/USGS and Frazer Christie/U. Cambridge)

The marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet, home to the vast and unstable Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, sits on an underwater landmass peaking 1.5 miles, or 2.5 kilometers, below the ocean's surface.

Since the early 1990s, scientists have observed an abrupt acceleration in ice melt, retreat, and speed in this area, which is attributed in part to human-induced climate change over the past century.

Previous studies indicated that the observed changes could be the onset of an irreversible, ice-sheet-wide collapse, which would continue independently of any further climate-driven influence.

"The idea that once a marine-based ice sheet passes a certain tipping point it will cause a runaway response has been widely reported," says lead author Frazer Christie at Cambridge University. "Despite this, questions remain about the extent to which ongoing changes in climate still regulate ice losses along the entire West Antarctic coastline."

Using observations collected by an array of satellites, the new study found pronounced regional variations in how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has changed since 2003 due to climate change, with the pace of retreat in the Amundsen Sea Sector, an area of West Antarctica facing the Pacific Ocean, having slowed significantly. That's in contrast to the neighboring Bellingshausen Sea Sector, closer to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, where glacier retreat accelerated during that time.

By analyzing climate and ocean records, the researchers linked these regional differences to changes in the strength and direction of offshore surface winds. When the prevailing westerly winds are stronger, more of the deeper, warmer ocean water reaches the surface and increases the rate of ice melt.

Researchers found that winds near the Amundsen Sector slackened between 2003 and 2015, because of a deepening of the Amundsen Sea low pressure system. This system is the key atmospheric circulation pattern in the region, and its center—near which changes in offshore wind strength are greatest—typically sits offshore of its namesake coast for most of the year.

The researchers found that the accelerated response of the glaciers flowing from the Bellingshausen Sea Sector can be explained by more constant winds there, causing more persistent ocean-driven melt.

Ultimately, the study illustrates the complexity of the competing ice, ocean, and atmosphere interactions driving shorter-term changes across West Antarctica, and raises important questions about how quickly the icy continent will evolve in a warming world.

"Ocean and atmospheric forcing mechanisms still really, really matter in West Antarctica," says coauthor Eric Steig, a professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington. "That means that ice-sheet collapse is not inevitable. It depends on how climate changes over the next few decades, which we could influence in a positive way by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

And while the strength of the low-pressure cell in the Amundsen Sea is not necessarily tied to levels of greenhouse gases—itself an active area of study—the system's influence shows that even the West Antarctic ice sheet is sensitive to weather and climate shifts.

Results show that changes in ocean, driven by changes in the winds, can slow down and even reverse the loss of ice, Steig says. But he points out that the effect is local and unlikely to last for more than a few decades.

"Only the most aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can plausibly turn the situation around in the long term," Steig says.

Additional coauthors are from the University of Edinburgh. Support for the study came from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland; the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society; the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation; the UK Natural Environment Research Council; the US National Science Foundation; the joint UK/US International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration project; and the European Space Agency.

Source: University of Washington

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Using ultraviolet germicidal radiation (UVGI) to disinfect indoor spaces is a demonstrably effective way of deactivating various pathogens (including the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus). It deactivates bacteria and viruses by exposing them to high-energy UV radiation through the use of UV lamps.

Is this article about Mining?
Five new tree-dwelling snake species were discovered in the jungles of Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama. Conservationists Leonardo DiCaprio, Brian Sheth, Re:wild, and Nature and Culture International chose the names for three of them in honor of loved ones while raising awareness about the issue of rainforest destruction at the hands of open-pit mining operations. The research was conducted by Ecuadorian biologist Alejandro Arteaga and Panamanian biologist Abel Batista.

Instrument on JWST has gone offline
Is this article about Music?
 is having a problem. One of its instruments, the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), has gone offline. The NIRISS performs spectroscopy on exoplanet atmospheres, among other things.

Wharton professor Christian Terwiesch was sitting with his grown children around the dinner table when the subject of artificial intelligence came up. Both of his kids had been experimenting with the nascent technology in their respective fields: "one of them is interested in design…and the other one is interested in computer science."

Memphis's Policing Strategy Was Bound to Result in Tragedy

Like many American cities, Memphis, Tennessee, has a long history of vexed relationships between the police and Black citizens. Also like many cities, it has seen an increase in activism for police reform in recent years. But over the past two years, as I reported on policing in Memphis, I heard laments from activists that they struggled to bring the attention of elected officials and a broad swath of citizens to the problems they saw.

The lack of attention may no longer be an issue—at least for now.

Earlier this month, 29-year-old Tyre Nichols died after an encounter with officers near his home. Officials initially said Nichols was stopped for reckless driving. They described a confrontation with officers and said Nichols tried to flee before another confrontation. How true this account is remains to be seen. No footage of the incident has yet been made public, but the city is expected to release it this evening.

[David A. Graham: The murders in Memphis aren't stopping]

Whatever happened, officers beat Nichols, who was taken away in an ambulance and died three days later, on January 10. Everyone who has seen the footage describes it as horrific. On January 20, Memphis Police Chief C. J. Davis fired the five officers involved. Yesterday, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced second-degree-murder charges against the men.

"In a word, it's absolutely appalling," David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said of the video during a press conference yesterday. "I'm shocked; I'm sickened by what I saw and what we learned through our investigation."

What I heard from Memphians during my reporting was that the city is simultaneously underpoliced and overpoliced. Residents, especially Black ones in areas with high crime, complain about rampant violence. (Nichols and all five officers in this case are Black.) They don't want to defund or abolish the police; they want criminals locked up and safe streets. But they also complain that officers focus too much on minor offenses while serious criminals walk free.

[David A. Graham: Derek Chauvin's conviction is the exception that proves the rule]

Beyond that, many Memphians describe a police department prone to excessive force and abuses. After George Floyd's murder, Mayor Jim Strickland convened a group to reimagine local policing, and although activists said they were shut out of the process, even that team's report described widespread fear and distrust of the cops. The department has also repeatedly illegally surveilled activists. Through all of that, it has struggled to make any dent in the city's violent-crime rate. City and police officials refused to explain or defend their strategy to me.

The officers charged in Nichols's death were all members of the SCORPION team, a unit that Davis formed shortly after taking over the department in 2021. (The name stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.) It's a classic example of hot-spot policing, a tactic that aims to reduce crime by concentrating officers in locations with large numbers of crimes.

Hot-spot policing has a proven record of success in many places, but it also elevates the risk of anyone in the area getting swept up by police. "Point me to the ideal neighborhood in any community in the country, or any suburban community," the Reverend Earle Fisher, a veteran Memphis activist, told me in 2021. "Guess what you don't see? Any police officers."

[David A. Graham: America is having a violence wave, not a crime wave]

Officials have not provided very much detail about why Nichols, who reportedly did not have a criminal record, was stopped, but a lawyer for Nichols's family said that officers were conducting traffic stops in unmarked cars. "This is a pretextual traffic stop, which, let's call it what it is: It's a racist traffic stop," he said at a press conference.

The problem with a troubled department like Memphis's adopting a tool like hot-spot policing is that culture tends to triumph over tactics. If police are accustomed to making questionable stops or regularly use excessive force against suspects, they'll probably continue to do those things. Davis has now ordered a review of the SCORPION unit.

One reason the Nichols case has gotten so much more attention than previous examples of police violence in Memphis is District Attorney Mulroy, who was elected last year as a reformist candidate, defeating the longtime incumbent Amy Weirich, a tough-on-crime prosecutor. History shows he'll have a tough task ahead of him; even when police officers are charged in civilians deaths, convictions are infrequent. But scrutiny of the city's law-enforcement strategy is overdue. Memphians deserve to live in safety—from both violent crime and their own police department.


The value of chemotherapy delivery at specific times of the day to optimize efficacy and minimize adverse effects in hematologic malignancy remains unknown. An interdisciplinary research team discovers its benefit by analyzing cohorts of diffuse large B cell 
 (DLBCL)* patients: Chemotherapy in the afternoon significantly improves treatment outcomes of female patients while there is no difference depending on treatment time in male patients.

Five new tree-dwelling snake species were discovered in the jungles of Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama. Conservationists Leonardo DiCaprio, Brian Sheth, Re:wild, and Nature and Culture International chose the names for three of them in honor of loved ones while raising awareness about the issue of rainforest destruction at the hands of open-pit mining operations. The research was conducted by Ecuadorian biologist Alejandro Arteaga and Panamanian biologist Abel Batista.

What's up with the high price of eggs?
A half-carton of eggs has one egg left in it.

There are three main factors behind rising egg prices, says Gregory Archer.

As the price of eggs continues to climb in the United States, shoppers have been shelling out more money to get their hands on the common supermarket staple.

In the face of these higher costs, some are even considering raising their own chickens at home. And many are wondering how long they'll have to wait for prices to go back down.

Archer is an associate professor in the poultry science department at Texas A&M University and an AgriLife Extension specialist.

Here, he talks about the three main factors that are driving up costs and why it will take at least a few months for prices to return to normal:

The post What's up with the high price of eggs? appeared first on Futurity.


Is this article about Regulatory Transgressions?
The fight to preserve Bell Bowl Prairie in Rockford, Illinois, where federally endangered rusty patched bumblebees have been found, ramped up this week, with environmentalists saying they intend to return to federal court.

Looking back at the Tonga eruption
A new analysis of seismic data recorded after the massively violent eruption of the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, on January 15, 2022, has revealed new and useful information on the sequence of events. Kotaro Tarumi and Kazunori Yoshizawa at Hokkaido University discuss their methods and findings in an article in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Oxford Scientists Warn AI Could Be More Deadly Than Nuclear Weapons
Researchers from Oxford told UK lawmakers that "superhuman AI" could end up being at least as dangerous as nuclear bombs and should be regulated like them.

Superhuman AI

Researchers from Oxford University have warned UK lawmakers that "superhuman AI" could end up being at least as dangerous as nuclear weapons and should therefore be regulated like them, The Telegraph reports.

The experts told MPs at the UK government's Science and Technology Select Committee about the dangers of unregulated artificial intelligence technologies — and they didn't exactly beat around the bush.

"With superhuman AI there is a particular risk that is of a different sort of class, which is, well, it could kill everyone," doctoral student Michael Cohen told MPs, as quoted by The Telegraph.

AI Apocalypse

These risks are indeed pressing, with political powers increasingly trying to one-up each other in the field of AI.

Michael Osborne, a professor of machine learning at the 

University of Oxford

 who also attended the committee meeting, warned of a "massive AI arms race" between the US and China, who are willing "to throw safety and caution out the window and race as fast as possible to the most advanced AI."

"There are some reasons for hope in that we have been pretty good at regulating the use of nuclear weapons," Osborne said. "If we were able to gain an understanding that advanced AI is as comparable a danger as nuclear weapons, then perhaps we could arrive at similar frameworks for governing it."

Treat Yourself

Training AIs to achieve a milestone or reap a reward could be particularly dangerous, Cohen said.

"If you imagine training a dog with treats it will learn to pick actions that lead to it getting treats," Cohen told lawmakers, "but if the dog finds the treat cupboard it can get the treats itself without doing what we wanted it to do."

In other words, a superhuman AI runs the risk of directing "as much energy as it could to securing its hold" on a reward, which "would leave us without any energy for ourselves."

As these technologies progress, we need to have the ability to "pull the plug" if they were to ever become "much smarter than us across every domain," Cohen argued.

And we're only scratching the surface. Cohen and Osborne predicted that AIs more capable than humans could emerge as soon as the end of the century, something that could be prevented with the right regulation.

READ MORE: Advanced AI 'could kill everyone', warn Oxford researchers [The Telegraph]

More on AI: ChatGPT Shamelessly Writes Letter Announcing Layoffs While Promoting Execs and Quoting MLK

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Journalist Eats Lab-Grown Chicken, Gets "Weirdly Gassy"
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • You may recognize the name — last November, the pretend poultry peddlers received its first go-ahead from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), bringing it closer to full approval for consumer consumption.
John Wenz ate chicken meat grown in a lab, courageously admitting that it gave him gas. But it does taste like chicken, at least.

Gas Leak

There's endless buzz over lab-grown meat — or "cultivated" or "cultured" or "synthetic" meat, depending on the specific marketing strategy — which is made from real animal cells grown in bioreactors.

Aside from some lingering issues surrounding its viability and price, a key question on everyone's minds is: how does it taste? Now, maybe we can add another one: how does it digest?

Luckily, John Wenz at Inverse decided to take one for the team and find out for himself.

Bravely, Wenz admits that he was "weirdly gassy the rest of the day." That can't be definitively attributed to the ersatz chicken, but it is suspicious.

"While this isn't abnormal for me, and it's impossible to draw a direct connection between my bloating and the lab-grown meat without further tastings," he wrote, "I had to mention it."

Pressed for further details by Futurism, Wenz clarified that "it wasn't like, crampy or painful." But "my digestive system was like 'hmm what's this, I may not like it,'" he added.

Flatus Tire

The lab-grown chicken was produced by UPSIDE Foods. You may recognize the name — last November, the pretend poultry peddlers received its first go-ahead from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), bringing it closer to full approval for consumer consumption.

Note the closer, as it's not quite ready to hit the shelves yet. But in the meantime, we can turn to Wenz's tasting as food for thought. His verdict?

"It was… decent," he wrote, calling the texture "close but slightly uncanny."

He also recorded himself eating the chicken with the company's chief food scientist, Daniel Davila.

"Yeah, that's getting there," he began.

After a brief struggle to get a morsel of meat and a piece of plum tomato on the fork, Wenz remarks that "some of the chew is just about there" and that it's "almost between a chicken and a fish."

Long and Windy Road

While the tech's getting closer, there might still be a ways to go.

For one, the product still needs approval from the US Department of Agriculture. And even then, it would only be for this specific cultivated chicken product — not an approval for lab meat in general.

Uncertainty remains around the long term health effects of consuming lab grown meat, too.

And there's also the question of price. As of now, it will be way too expensive for ordinary folks to afford, and in the case of UPSIDE's product in particular, is planned to solely be debuted through select, boutique restaurants and prepared by a Michelin star chef. So, it's not exactly McDonald's bound quite yet.

Read more: Lab-grown chicken could hit store shelves soon — here's how it tastes [Inverse]

More on food: Popular Dark Chocolate Brands Contain Dangerous Heavy Metals, Report Finds

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Hairdressers of color are exposed to dangerous chemical mix
Is this article about Health?
A green neon sign reads "Beauty salon."

Black and Hispanic hairdressers are exposed to a complex mixture of chemicals, many of them unknown, potentially hazardous, and undisclosed on product labels, researchers report.

The new study is the first to apply an advanced screening technique used to identify chemicals in food and wastewater to assess chemical exposures in hairdressers.

The results, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, suggest more research is needed to better understand the risks for hairdressers, particularly those of color, and how best to mitigate them.

"We know women are more highly exposed to chemicals in personal care products and we also know women of color have elevated exposures compared to women of other demographics," says coauthor and principal investigator Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, an assistant professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University who studies chemical exposures' health effects in underrepresented populations.

"We wondered, what about women who are doing this as a profession. How much more are they being exposed. There really wasn't anything out there when we started this."

Researchers tested urine samples from Black and Hispanic hairdressers in the United States and compared them to samples from women of color working in office jobs. Hairdressers of color are suspected to have more chemical exposures than stylists of other demographics because of the products used and services provided in salons serving primarily populations of color.

Unlike traditional studies, the team didn't only measure for chemicals expected to be found in people working with hair products, they looked for other compounds that had not been previously investigated.

"The conventional methods just look for chemicals we might expect to be present, but these products contain a lot of different chemicals and not all of them are known," says senior author Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor of environmental health and engineering who studies public and environmental health impacts of chemicals in the environment.

"We wanted to open up the lens and find potential other chemicals that hairdressers might be exposed to so that we could inform future regulations of these chemicals."

Using the same technique, the Prasse Lab recently found vaping aerosols contain thousands of unknown chemicals and substances not disclosed by manufacturers.

Compared to the women working in offices, hairstylists had higher levels of chemicals in their bodies associated with salon treatments—hair relaxers, conditioners, dyes, and fragrances—but also many more substances the researchers couldn't identify.

"There are more chemical exposures in this occupation group than we expect," says lead author Matthew N. Newmeyer, a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"It's definitely concerning. A lot of these chemicals we don't even know what health risks they may pose," says Quirós-Alcalá

There are more than 700,000 hairdressers in the United States, more than 90% of whom are estimated to be female, and 30% are Black or Hispanic/Latina. In this predominantly female workforce, with many women of reproductive age, exposures may not only pose a women's health issue, but also a children's health issue as exposures during the preconception and prenatal period could increase children's health risks, Quirós-Alcalá says. About half the hairdressers in this study reported working in the salon while pregnant.

The findings show more studies are critical to better understand what hairdressers are exposed to on the job, and to determine how best to mitigate these risks and to try to reduce any health disparities, Prasse says.

"It's clearly an under researched area," he says, "and there is a racial dimension to it which must not be forgotten."

Additional coauthors are from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

The NHLBI Career Development Award, NIEHS Training grant, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health funded the work.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

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Is this article about Aerospace?
The bright variable star V 372 Orionis takes center stage in this image from the NASA/ESA 
Hubble Space Telescope
, which has also captured a smaller companion star in the upper left of this image. Both stars lie in the Orion Nebula, a colossal region of star formation roughly 1,450 light-years from Earth.

Is this article about Music?
One of the main jobs for the Perseverance Mars rover past few weeks has been collecting carefully selected samples of Mars rock and soil. These samples have been placed and sealed in special sample tubes and left in well-identified places so that a future sample return mission can collect them and bring the Martian samples back to Earth.

How Does Alzheimer's Disease Lead to Death?
Is this article about Sleep?
Legendary film star Rita Hayworth. President Ronald Reagan. Charlotte's Web author E.B. White. These household names all had Alzheimer's Disease, and their biographies typically state that this is how they died. They join a long list of celebrities who died from the disease.  Alzheimer's is a 
neurodegenerative disease
 that progressively erodes a person's memory and ability to function. But it's not a fatal disease; people with Alzheimer's die from an underlying condition that develops due to deterioration. In recent years, researchers have scrutinized data from studies to determine which illnesses have consistently claimed the lives of Alzheimer's patients. Understanding the end-of-life experience for Alzheimer's patients is crucial because scientists expect the number of people living with the disease will double by 2050. Read More: "False" Alzheimer's Study Could Set Research Back 16 Years Understanding Alzheimer's Deaths Most celebrities who had Alzheimer's and passed away, would likely be recategorized as "death from pneumonia." In a 2019 article in Plos One, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of published studies to determine the frequency of pneumonia-related deaths. The authors examined data from 19 studies and found that pneumonia was listed as the cause of death in 29.69 percent of 
 patients. (Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia.) Read More: Alzheimer's Disease Isn't the Only Cause of Dementia The frequency was higher — almost 50 percent — when autopsies were the source of the death confirmation. The number was lower (less than 20 percent) when death certificates served as the source. The study also found that pneumonia-related deaths were twice as likely for patients with dementia than those without. Swallowing Struggles from Advanced Dementia Other studies confirm pneumonia is associated with advanced dementia, and it's attributed to patients' inability to swallow.   Patients with advanced dementia develop dysphagia, the medical term for having difficulty with swallowing. Dysphagia involves several changes to the patient's mouth as a result of brain atrophy, including a decrease in tongue strength as well as saliva production. At the same time, as a patient develops dysphagia, they can also lose their ability to recognize food placed into their mouth. During feedings, caregivers have to remind the patient to swallow. Attempts to swallow, however, can be unsuccessful, and one-third of patients will aspirate bacteria into the lungs and then develop pneumonia as a result. Dysphagia also increases the likelihood a patient will develop dehydration and malnutrition. Clinicians continue to question whether such patients should receive artificial nourishment and whether such nourishment can help keep them comfortable during the disease's advanced stages.  Other Infections Many people associate Alzheimer's and dementia with progressive memory loss. A person initially forgets where they placed objects around the house or when they are due for an appointment. As the disease progresses, they forget aspects of their life and fail to recognize their loved ones. Some clinicians have categorized Alzheimer's as having seven progressive stages. Cognitive impairment may be subtle in the early stages before the disease advances into notable memory loss and then profound cognitive degeneration. In the end stages, a person will not be able to speak, feed themselves or control their bodily functions. As the patient becomes immobile, they can succumb to a range of health complications. Being bedridden places continuous pressure on certain parts of the body and can lead to bedsores and then infection. Bed confinement also places the patient at risk of deep venous thrombosis — a medical condition that involves blood clots in a deep vein.  Similarly, being incontinent can lead to urinary tract infections that, left untreated, can advance into greater infections. Alzheimer's patients in the mild to moderate stages also have a greater fall risk due to changes in their stride length, speed and cadence. People with Alzheimer's might also have judgment impairments that prevent them from avoiding hazards while moving. Researchers predict that as instances of Alzheimer's increase, so will fatal falls. Read More: There's a New FDA-Approved Drug to Treat Alzheimer's

This Pterosaur Had at Least 480 Hooked Teeth
The first thing to you'll notice about this pterosaur is its smile. According to a new paper published in Paläontologische Zeitschrift (PalZ), researchers recently identified this strange species, which had 480 of thin, hooked teeth in its flared, flat jaws. Toothy Pterosaur Since the identification of the first pterosaur fossils in the formations of limestone in Germany in the 1700s, paleontologists have found hundreds of separate species of these ferocious flyers, all with their own shapes, sizes and lifestyles. Some were small, while others weren't. Some possessed wide wings, and some possessed slimmer, slenderer ones. Some were stuck with an awkward slouching posture, whereas others stood upright and walked, waded and swam whenever they weren't soaring through the sky. And while some of these almost-dinosaurs benefitted from an abundance of tiny teeth, others boasted a smattering of big ones or no teeth at all. Read More: Newly Discovered Dinosaur Likely Resembled a Duck Now, a team of paleontologists has found another pterosaur species in the same formation of limestone as the first, though the new specimen has a smile unlike any other. "The jaws of this pterosaur are really long and lined with small fine, hooked teeth, with tiny spaces between them," says David Martill, a study author and a paleontologist from the University of Portsmouth's School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences, according to a press release. "And what's even more remarkable is some of the teeth have a hook on the end, which we've never seen before in a pterosaur ever." According to the team, this abundance of hooked teeth helped the animal snatch shrimp and other small species out of the shallows of Late Jurassic lagoons and lakes, around 164 to 145 million years ago. "These small hooks would have been used to catch the tiny shrimp the pterosaur likely fed on — making sure they went down its throat and weren't squeezed between the teeth," Martill says in the same press release. A Species With A Smile Though the fossil was found in a fragment of the finely layered limestone, which was split into 17 separate pieces, the specimen was surprisingly well preserved. In fact, though the fragile skeletons of pterosaurs seldom withstand the test of time, this fossil was largely intact, with working joints, well-preserved teeth and the traces of soft tissues. "This was a rather serendipitous find of a well-preserved skeleton with near perfect articulation, which suggests the carcass must have been at a very early stage of decay," Martill adds in the release. "It must have been buried in sediment almost as soon as it had died." Read More: Massive Ostrich-Like Dinosaurs Once Lived In Mississippi According to the team, the teeth were thin, tapering into small hooks, or "hooklets." And, while there were no teeth at the front of the pterosaur's bill, which was similar to a spoon with its flat, flared structure, there were about 480 teeth trimming its sides, stretching all the way to the back of the beak. This, the paleontologists say, allowed the species to filter feed while wading or swimming, separating tiny shrimp out of big sips of water. It also served as the inspiration for the formal terminology for the species, Balaenognathus maeuser, which was intended to invoke the similar filter feeding strategy of the bowhead whale. Ultimately, only one other pterosaur boasts a bigger set of teeth than B. maeuser. But while the beak of this species was armed with around 1,000 teeth, they took on a much more standard morphology, being short and stubby in the upper bill and long and straight in the lower one.

What's more mystifying than an ancient mummy? Well, what about an ancient mummy with an assembly of sharp, snaggled teeth on the inside of its mouth? According to a paper published in PLOS ONE, researchers recently found 10 crocodile mummies, interred in a tomb at the Qubbat al-Hawā archaeological site in Aswān, Egypt. Preserved around 2,500 years ago, these mummies are all adult crocodiles and unlike any ancient remains yet found from the region, revealing new insights into the process of Egyptian mummy-making over time. The Crocodile's Tomb Many Egyptian tombs contain mummified animals, and mummified crocodiles in particular, thanks to the creature's central role in the religion and ritual of ancient Egypt. Revered for their strength and agility, these animals were also associated with an array of gods and goddesses, including Sobek, the "lord of the crocodiles" and the picture of pharaonic power. Read More: The Animal Mummy Business Acting as votive offerings, many crocodile mummies were made in an attempt to gain the favor of these crocodile gods and goddesses. And ancient Egyptians prepared the majority of them with the same simple processes. They removed moisture from the body with agents such as natron and the coated the corpse with resin and bandage wrappings. But one team of researchers recently discovered a set of crocodile mummies unlike anything that they'd previously seen. Not only were these animal mummies bigger and better preserved than the average. They were also made using a unique preservation style, which omitted the resin and the wrappings that are traditionally associated with mummified crocs. "The mummified crocodiles from Qubbat al-Hawā differ from mummies thus far recorded from other localities," the researchers state in their study. "The manner in which these specimens were prepared, as well as the variation observed in the type of 'final product,' are unlike any other crocodile material described so far." A Multiplicity of Mummified Crocs In 2018, researchers uncovered seven small tombs at the Qubbat al-Hawā site near the Nile, one of which contained the 10 mummified crocs. According to the researchers, while most mummified crocodiles are hatchlings or juveniles, all 10 of the new mummies, which went undisturbed for thousands of years, are adults. Including five skulls and five partial skeletons, they vary in the state of their preservation, though they're all better preserved than the average, which is usually a pile of fragments. In fact, the crocodiles look almost like they're alive from afar, with their thick, scaly skin and their sharp teeth intact. And part of that illusion is thanks to the absence of resin and wrappings, which were omitted or mostly omitted from the preparation of these mummies around 2,500 years ago. "None of the crocodiles found at Qubbat al-Hawā showed evidence of the use of resin," the study authors state in their study, "and in only a few cases were small pieces of linen found." Instead, they say, "it is very likely that the crocodiles were desiccated by 'deliberate natural mummification,'" where the bodies were buried in the dry sand before being placed, unwrapped or only minimally wrapped, into the tomb. Read More: The Mummification Process: How Ancient Egyptians Preserved Bodies for the Afterlife The shape of the crocodiles' skulls and the arrangement of the bony armor on the crocodiles' backs allowed the researchers to surmise that the animals represented two separate species, Crocodylus suchus and Crocodylus niloticus. According to the team, the animals were probably buried before the Ptolemaic Period, when resin became a particularly prominent part of the mummification process. That said, the researchers add that additional research and radiocarbon dating are needed to truly nail this approximate date down.

Every two to seven years, the equatorial Pacific Ocean gets up to 3°C warmer (what we know as an El Niño event) or colder (La Niña) than usual, triggering a cascade of effects felt around the world. This cycle is called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) because every El Niño is naturally followed by a La Niña and vice versa, with some months of neutral conditions in between events. The change in sea surface temperature associated with ENSO events might seem marginal, but it is more than enough to disrupt weather patterns globally and even the large-scale circulation of air in the polar stratosphere 8km above the Earth.

A team of researchers affiliated with a host of institutions across Spain, working with one colleague from Portugal and another from Austria, has discovered a large number of animal skulls placed by Neanderthals in Spanish cave more than 40,000 years ago.

The African continent is bursting with biodiversity. In a 2016 report, the United Nations Environment Program wrote: "Africa's biomes extend from mangroves to deserts, from Mediterranean to tropical forests, from temperate to sub-tropical and montane grasslands and savannas, and even to ice-capped mountains."

Whoops! It Turns Out The Bored Ape People Didn't Copyright Their JPGs
Yuga Labs, the firm behind the infamous Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, apparently never actually copyrighted their computer-generated apes. 

Ape Copyright Gone

Yuga Labs, the firm behind the infamous Bored Ape Yacht Club non-fungible tokens (NFTs), apparently never actually copyrighted its computer-generated primates.

This hilarious admission, which came from a legal document submission from Yuga Labs itself, stems from a lawsuit involving art world nepo baby and onetime Azealia Banks fiancé Ryder Ripps, who Yuga is suing for using its expensive ape imagery in his own NFT collection without the firm's permission.

"Yuga Labs does not have a registered copyright," the filing reads, "and there is therefore no imminent threat of a lawsuit for copyright infringement."

That admission seems to go against one of the key value propositions of the crazy-expensive Bored Ape NFTs — that purchasing one gives the owner near-universal rights to use or profit from in whatever way they see fit, as Seth Green's notorious Ape heist revealed to us last summer.

Beating The Allegations

Filed last June, Yuga's suit is centered on Ripps' satirical RR/BAYC collection, which he created after alleging that Bored Apes' logo was based on Nazi imagery.

"Through months of intensive research," Ripps' statement on the collection's site reads, "myself and other community members have discovered extensive connections between BAYC and subversive internet nazi troll culture."

Along with trying to reappropriate the Bored Apes to send a message about his extremism allegations, Ripps also iterated on the collection's website that the project is meant as a statement about copyright and ownership in the NFT space. One can only imagine his glee, then, when the very company he's targeted admitted that it never filed any federal copyright claims.

In its filing, Yuga Labs added that it believes a "lack of federal copyright registration does not mean an entity does not own copyright," and that "when provenance is documented… copyright protection is automatic."

Who Owns The Apes?

In spite of this seemingly significant oversight, the company says that there is "no confusion" about its NFT holders retaining their Ape rights, and slapped Ripps with a motion to dismiss when he tried to issue a counterclaim upon the copyright revelation.

Importantly, it is worth noting that Yuga is not suing Ripps for violating copyright law at all, but rather for trademark infringement — and it does appear that the company has filed trademark claims.

But the apparent oversight regarding copyright is nevertheless pretty jarring, especially given what Yuga Labs promised to BAYC buyers. Remember: all this NFT ownership stuff still remains largely untested in court.

More on the dying NFT market: Logan Paul Says His NFT Game Isn't a Scam, He Just Hired Scammers to Build It and They Did Some Scamming

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The Colorado River basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in the Western United States, is threatened by historic drought, a changing climate and water demands from growing cities. One potential response involves encouraging individuals to conserve water, and a new study may help identify those most likely to change their behaviors to contribute, according to scientists.

This image by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) features the central region of the Chamaeleon I dark molecular cloud, which resides 630 light years away. The cold, wispy cloud material (blue, center) is illuminated in the infrared by the glow of the young, outflowing protostar Ced 110 IRS 4 (orange, upper left). The light from numerous background stars, seen as orange dots behind the cloud, can be used to detect ices in the cloud, which absorb the starlight passing through them. An international team of astronomers has reported the discovery of diverse ices in the darkest regions of a cold molecular cloud measured to date by studying this region. This result allows astronomers to examine the simple icy molecules that will be incorporated into future exoplanets, while opening a new window on the origin of more complex molecules that are the first step in the creation of the building blocks of life.

Hello, folks, and welcome back to your favorite Friday roundup of all the space news fit to print. This week we've got experimental rocket engines, a gigantic map, and galaxies galore. The James Webb Space Telescope found hydrogen in a galaxy more than eight billion light years away, and the coldest ice ever, but it's currently down due to a software glitch.

Closer to home, Rocket Lab launched their Electron rocket from US soil for the first time. NASA came together for a day of remembrance that somehow managed to be both somber and ineffably sweet.

JWST Spots the Coldest Chamaeleon

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. And somewhere along the way, you'll need one of the ancient molecular clouds of dust and ice from which stars and habitable planets like Earth are born. This week, Webb scientists announced that the telescope has spotted just such a place. It's a stellar nursery called the Chamaeleon I cloud, loaded with these primordial crystals. That's the tableau you're seeing in the image above — you can tell it's from Webb by those iconic six-pointed stars. The ice contains traces of sulfur and ammonia, along with simple organic molecules like methanol. And at just ten degrees above absolute zero, it's the coldest ice ever found.

"We simply couldn't have observed these ices without Webb," said Klaus Pontoppidan, a Webb project scientist involved in the research. "The ices show up as dips against a continuum of background starlight. In regions that are this cold and dense, much of the light from the background star is blocked, and Webb's exquisite sensitivity was necessary to detect the starlight and therefore identify the ices in the molecular cloud."

'Virginia Is for Launch Lovers': Rocket Lab Launches Electron Rocket From US Soil

Late Wednesday evening, aerospace startup Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This was the 33rd launch of the Electron, but its first launch from American soil.

Electron is a 59-foot, two-stage, light-duty kerosene rocket. It's powered by nine Rutherford engines, which my colleague Ryan Whitwam notes are semi-famous in aerospace for being largely 3D printed.

The Electron isn't reusable — but in 2021, Rocket Lab announced the Neutron. Designed for reusability, the Neutron will have about a third of the lift capacity of a Falcon 9.

NASA 'Rotating Detonation Engine' Aces Hot Fire Tests

Speaking of 3D-printed rocket engines: NASA announced this week that it has successfully validated a next-gen rocket engine it hopes will revolutionize rocket design. The new engine generates thrust "using a supersonic combustion phenomenon known as a detonation." And this is no experimental error — their full-scale alpha build produced more than 4,000 pounds of thrust at full throttle.

These engines get their name (rotating detonation rocket engine, or RDRE) from the unique way they produce thrust. Detonation waves echo around a circular chamber, wringing out every bit of energy from the rocket fuel. It's great for efficiency, but it puts the whole system under extreme pressure. Undaunted, NASA turned to an advanced additive manufacturing process, even developing its own bespoke metal alloy for the task.

According to the agency, the RDRE incorporates the agency's GRCop-42 copper alloy into a powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing process. PBF uses a laser or particle beam to seamlessly fuse ultra-fine particles. It's a lot like the sintering process used to make the space shuttle rocket engines — and even they had to be actively cooled by the rockets' own cryofuel, in order to withstand the unearthly temperatures and pressures of takeoff. If the design holds up, NASA intends to use RDRE in its efforts to establish a long-term presence off-planet.

Dark Energy Detector Plots Largest-Ever Map of Galaxy

Astronomers have created a gargantuan map of the Milky Way, using a telescope built to detect dark energy. Featuring more than three billion stars, it focuses on the galaxy's orbital plane — a region notoriously difficult to study.

Earth's atmosphere scatters starlight so that points of light turn into point clouds. So, the astronomers just dove right in. To isolate different stars and celestial objects, the group used some extra-snazzy math to get rid of noise. This allowed them to "paint in" the proper background, letting them tell one star from another.


Astronomers have released a gargantuan survey of the galactic plane of the Milky Way. The new dataset contains a staggering 3.32 billion celestial objects — arguably the largest such catalog so far. The data for this unprecedented survey were taken with the US Department of Energy-fabricated Dark Energy Camera at the NSF's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, a Program of NOIRLab. Credit: Saydjari et al., via NoirLab

"One of the main reasons for the success of DECaPS2 is that 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," said Andrew Saydjari, lead author on the (open-access!) paper accompanying the gigantic map. "Doing so allowed us to produce the largest such catalog ever from a single camera, in terms of the number of objects observed."

Experts: Milky Way Too Large for Its "Cosmological Wall"

The history of astronomy has been all about recognizing that our place in the universe isn't all that special. We've gone from the center of all existence to just another planet orbiting an average star in one of billions and billions of galaxies. However, a new simulation hints that there might be something special about the Milky Way after all.


Yepun, one of the four Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory, studies the center of the Milky Way. Yepun's laser beam creates an artificial "guide star" to calibrate the telescope's adaptive optics. Image: ESO/Yuri Beletsky

The model suggests that the Milky Way is far larger than it should be, based on the scale of the "cosmological wall": an incomprehensibly huge semi-planar structure occupied by the Milky Way and other galaxies in the Local Group.

Scientists Detect Atomic Hydrogen in Most Distant Galaxy Ever

An international team of astronomers announces the discovery of cold atomic hydrogen, more than eight billion light-years from Earth. Cooler than ionized plasma but warmer than molecular hydrogen gas, atomic hydrogen is the raw fuel of coalescing stars. The researchers used gravitational lensing to spot the telltale — but deeply redshifted — 21cm line.

Webb Spies Centaur Chariklo's Delicate Rings

Named for the daughter of Apollo, Chariklo is a centaur: a Kuiper belt object that orbits out past Saturn. It's the first of its kind ever found with a confirmed ring system. The thing really is tiny; it's about 160 miles in diameter and has less than two percent the mass of Earth. But a new report from Webb shows even that much mass is enough to sustain two slender rings, for a time.

In a remarkable stroke of scientific luck, the telescope was pointed just right to catch Chariklo as it passed in front of a star. When it did, the star's light fluttered in a way that betrayed the presence of the rings.


Nothing less than delighted, the astronomers report that Chariklo's rings are two and four miles wide, respectively. But the asteroid actually has something in common with the Chamaeleon I cloud. Chariklo's surface is covered in exotic phases of water ice that only Webb can see.

Principal investigator Dean Hines added, "Because high-energy particles transform ice from crystalline into amorphous states, detection of crystalline ice indicates that the Chariklo system experiences continuous micro-collisions that either expose pristine material or trigger crystallization processes." It'll be up to the JWST to find out more.

Software Glitch Brings JWST Down for Maintenance

Unfortunately, observations of Chariklo and other celestial bodies will have to wait a while. The JWST had a software glitch this week. Per NASA, the telescope's Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) "experienced a communications delay within the instrument, causing its flight software to time out." Unfortunately, this led to a software gridlock.

The telescope is unavailable for science observations because NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are doing root-cause analysis to figure out and fix the problem. But NASA emphasizes that the telescope is fine. There's no damage and no indication of any danger. If it's a software problem, it may well be a software fix.

Perseverance Files First Weather Report

Now that it's been on Mars for a while, the Perseverance rover has filed an authoritative report on Martian weather. The number one takeaway: It's cold on the Red Planet! The average surface temperature is -67C.

It's also windy on Mars. Since Mars has an atmosphere, it has surface weather. It also has an axial tilt, so it has seasons, just like Earth. Dust storms can envelop Mars' entire northern hemisphere.


Plumes of darker, subsurface dust waft to the surface when the sun warms Martian sands beneath transparent sheets of ice. Mars' shifting winds then blow these plumes of dust into V-shaped patterns. Astronomers are using the plumes to learn more about Mars' weather and surface climate. Image: NASA

Perseverance is covered in a suite of sensors that constantly monitor wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and dust. Together, they make the rover's Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA).


Here, you can see the MEDA sensors extending from the rover's mast below the iconic ChemCam.

"The dust devils are more abundant at Jezero than elsewhere on Mars and can be very large, forming whirlwinds more than 100 meters in diameter. With MEDA we have been able to characterize not only their general aspects (size and abundance) but also to unravel how these whirlwinds function," says Ricardo Hueso, of the MEDA team.

Perseverance has captured numerous dust devils as they sweep through Jezero Crater. However, to get that data, MEDA's exposed sensors also face damage from the harsh radiation environment, extreme temperature swings, and the ever-present Martian dust. A dust devil in January of last year kicked up enough debris that it damaged one of MEDA's wind instruments. Still, the rover perseveres.

NASA's Bittersweet 2023 Day of Remembrance

Every year, NASA holds a memorial for staff, astronauts, and alumni who have died. 2023's Day of Remembrance holds a somber significance, as Feb. 1 is the 20th anniversary of the Columbia disaster. Unfortunately, this year's fallen also included Apollo 7 pilot Walt Cunningham, who passed earlier this month. Cunningham was the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew.


Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via NASA HQ Flickr

As in years past, NASA staff gathered this week at space centers and labs around the country, to honor the sacrifices of those who have given their lives in pursuit of exploration and discovery. But they did it in a way only NASA could do. They held nationwide town-hall safety meetings, to reflect on and improve NASA's aerospace safety culture.


Ask not for whom the safety alarm tolls; it tolls for thee. NASA safety-culture town hall meeting at its Washington headquarters after the Arlington memorial service. Image: NASA/Keegan Barber via NASA HQ Flickr

What a fitting way to honor lives lost, while still reaching for the stars. Town-hall safety culture meetings. We love you guys. Never change.

Psyche Mission Now Targeting October 2023 Launch

Steady as she goes: After a year's delay and a missed launch window, NASA's Psyche mission team is getting the spacecraft in shape to launch this year. In a blog post, the agency said, "After a one-year delay to complete critical testing, the Psyche project is targeting an October 2023 launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket."

When it launches, Psyche will carry a technology demo for NASA's shiny new Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) network. DSOC systems will use lasers for high-bandwidth communications between Earth and the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Beyond a deluge of scientific data, NASA expects that the network will be able to handle high-def images and video.

Skywatchers Corner

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is a long-period comet that last visited Earth in the time of the Neanderthals. Now it's back for another close approach. And although we didn't know this when we found it last year, it turns out the comet's tail glows pale green, like a luna moth under a streetlight.


The robin's-egg glow of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)'s tail shines against its twin tails. Image: Dan Bartlett/NASA

At first, astronomers thought it might require binoculars to catch a glimpse of the thing. However, as ExtremeTech's Adrianna Nine writes, the comet is now visible to the naked eye in places across much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Our verdant visitor will continue its brightening trend while it sails toward Earth. It will make its closest approach to us on February 2: perhaps too soon for a Valentine's Day spectacular, but right on time for Imbolc, Candlemas, and Groundhog Day.

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In this webinar, Mirko Corselli discusses the similarities, differences, and advantages of spectral flow cytometry compared to conventional flow.

Is this article about Animals?
Mountaineers who venture high into the Colorado Rockies have likely spotted medium-sized, brown-and-pink birds rummaging around on snow patches for insects and seeds. These high-elevation specialists are rosy finches, a type of bird that's evolved to survive in some of the most rugged places in North America.

Is this article about Animals?
Mountaineers who venture high into the Colorado Rockies have likely spotted medium-sized, brown-and-pink birds rummaging around on snow patches for insects and seeds. These high-elevation specialists are rosy finches, a type of bird that's evolved to survive in some of the most rugged places in North America.

Scientists Tried to Break Cuddling. Instead, They Broke 30 Years of Research.
Is this article about Neuroscience?

This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.      

Of the dozens of hormones found in the human body, oxytocin might just be the most overrated. Linked to the pleasures of romance, orgasms, philanthropy, and more, the chemical has been endlessly billed as the "hug hormone," the "moral molecule," even "the source of love and prosperity." It has inspired popular books and TED Talks. Scientists and writers have insisted that spritzing it up human nostrils can instill compassion and generosity; online sellers have marketed snake-oil oxytocin concoctions as "Liquid Trust."


But as my colleague Ed Yong and others have repeatedly written, most of what's said about the hormone is, at best, hyperbole. Sniffing the chemical doesn't reliably make people more collaborative or trusting; trials testing it as a treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder have delivered lackluster results. And although decades of great research have shown that the versatile molecule can at times spark warm fuzzies in all sorts of species—cooperation in meerkats, monogamy in prairie voles, parental care in marmosets and sheep—under other circumstances, oxytocin can turn creatures ranging from rodents to humans aggressivefearful, even prejudiced.


Now researchers are finding that oxytocin may be not only insufficient for forging strong bonds, but also unnecessary. A new genetic study hints that prairie voles—fluffy, fist-size rodents that have long been poster children for oxytocin's snuggly effects—can permanently partner up without it. The revelation could shake the foundations of an entire neuroscience subfield, and prompt scientists to reconsider some of the oldest evidence that once seemed to show that oxytocin was the be-all and end-all for animal affection. Cuddles, it turns out, can probably happen without the classic cuddle hormone—even in the most classically cuddly creatures of all.


[Read: The weak science behind the wrongly named moral molecule]


Oxytocin isn't necessarily obsolete. "This shouldn't be taken as, 'Oh, oxytocin doesn't do anything,'" says Lindsay Sailer, a neuroscientist at Cornell University. But researchers have good reason to be a bit gobsmacked. For all the messy, inconsistent, even shady data that have been gathered from human studies of the hormone, the evidence from prairie voles has always been considered rock-solid. The little rodents, native to the midwestern United States, are famous for being one of the few mammal species that monogamously mate for life and co-parent their young. Over many decades and across geographies, researchers have documented how the rodents nuzzle each other in their nests and console each other when stressed, how they aggressively rebuff the advances of other voles that attempt to homewreck. And every time they checked, "there was oxytocin, sitting in the middle of the story, over and over again," says Sue Carter, a behavioral neurobiologist who pioneered some of the first studies on prairie-vole bonds. The molecular pathways driving the behaviors seemed just as clear-cut: When triggered by a social behavior, such as snuggling or sex, a region of the brain called the hypothalamus pumped out oxytocin; the hormone then latched on to its receptor, sparking a slew of lovey-dovey effects.


Years of follow-up studies continued to bear that thinking out. When scientists gave prairie voles drugs that kept oxytocin from linking up with its receptor, the rodents started snubbing their partners after any tryst. Meanwhile, simply stimulating the oxytocin receptor was enough to coax voles into settling down with strangers that they'd never mated with. The connection between oxytocin and pair bonding was so strong, so repeatable, so unquestionable that it became dogma. Zoe Donaldson, a neuroscientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies the hormone, recalls once receiving dismissive feedback on a grant because, in the words of the reviewer, "We already know everything that there is to know about prairie voles and oxytocin."


So more than a decade ago, when Nirao Shah, a neurogeneticist and psychiatrist at Stanford, and his colleagues set out to cleave the oxytocin receptor from prairie voles using a genetic technique called CRISPR, they figured that their experiments would be a slam dunk. Part of the goal was, Shah told me, proof of principle: Researchers have yet to perfect genetic tools for voles the way they have in more common laboratory animals, such as mice. If the team's manipulations worked, Shah reasoned, they'd beget a lineage of rodents that was immune to oxytocin's influence, leaving them unfaithful to their mates and indifferent to their young—thereby proving that the CRISPR machinery had done its job.


That's not what happened. The rodents continued to snuggle up with their families, as if nothing had changed. The find was baffling. At first, the team wondered if the experiment had simply failed. "I distinctly remember sitting there and just being like, Wait a sec; how is there not a difference?" Kristen Berendzen, a neurobiologist and psychiatrist at UC San Francisco who led the study, told me. But when three separate teams of researchers repeated the manipulations, the same thing happened again. It was as if they had successfully removed a car's gas tank and still witnessed the engine roaring to life after an infusion of fuel. Something might have gone wrong in the experiments. That seems unlikely, though, says Larry Young, a neuroscientist at Emory University who wasn't involved in the new study: Young's team, he told me, has produced nearly identical results in his lab.


The explanations for how decades of oxytocin research could be upended are still being sussed out. Maybe oxytocin can attach to more than one hormone receptor—something that studies have hinted at over the years, Carter told me. But some researchers, Young among them, suspect a more radical possibility. Maybe, in the absence of its usual receptor, oxytocin no longer does anything at all—forcing the brain to blaze an alternative path toward affection. "I think other things pick up the slack," Young told me.


That idea isn't a total repudiation of the old research. Other prairie-vole experiments that used drugs to futz with oxytocin receptors were performed in adult animals who grew up with the hormone, says Devanand Manoli, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at UCSF who helped lead the new study. Wired to respond to oxytocin all through development, those rodent brains couldn't compensate for its sudden loss late in life. But the Stanford-UCSF team bred animals that lacked the oxytocin receptor from birth, which could have prompted some other molecule, capable of binding to another receptor, to step in. Maybe the car never needed gas to run: Stripped of its tank from the get-go, it went all electric instead.


It would be easy to view this study as yet another blow to the oxytocin propaganda machine. But the researchers I spoke with think the results are more revealing than that. "What this shows us is how important pair bonding is," Carter told me—to prairie voles, but also potentially to us. For social mammals, partnering up isn't just sentimental. It's an essential piece of how we construct communities, survive past childhood, and ensure that future generations can do the same. "These are some of the most important relationships that any mammal can have," says Bianca Jones Marlin, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. When oxytocin's around, it's probably providing the oomph behind that intimacy. And if it's not? "Evolution is not going to have a single point of failure for something that's absolutely critical," Manoli told me. Knocking oxytocin off its pedestal may feel like a letdown. But it's almost comforting to consider that the drive to bond is just that unbreakable.


5 values for repairing the harms of colonialism | Jing Corpuz
Indigenous wisdom can help solve the planetary crises that colonialism started, says lawyer Jennifer "Jing" Corpuz. Her ancestors, the Kankanaey-Igorot people of the Philippines, are known for creating the Banaue Rice Terraces: centuries-old irrigated mountain terraces that illustrate the magic of humanity living in harmony with nature. Corpuz shares five values that have guided her people as they successfully fought against development aggression and invites everyone to pursue a more just, sustainable world.

Gas stoves: Why did they become the pariah du jour?
One-third of U.S. households—more than 40 million homes—cook with gas. There has been much consternation about the danger of gas stoves in the news lately and talk of banning them since a Consumer Product Safety commissioner recently suggested the move.

Be kind to bees, build with bee bricks
We know that bees are important to natural ecosystems and also to human agriculture and horticulture. They are great pollinators of so plant flowering plant species and are also a source of food and materials we have used for thousands of years, namely honey, honeycomb, and beeswax.

Birds including swallows and martins—known as aerial insectivores—control insect populations and insect-borne disease and provide hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of pest control for agriculture. But these feathered friends to humanity are declining at an alarming rate, with species in North America declining more than 30% from 1970 to 2017.

Color-changing material could warm or cool buildings
top of pink building with green windows against pink sky

A chameleon-like building material changes its infrared color—and how much heat it absorbs or emits—based on the outside temperature.

On hot days, the material can emit up to 92% of the infrared heat it contains, helping cool the inside of a building. On colder days, however, the material emits just 7% of its infrared, helping keep a building warm.

"We've essentially figured out a low-energy way to treat a building like a person; you add a layer when you're cold and take off a layer when you're hot," says assistant professor Po-Chun Hsu of the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME).

"This kind of smart material lets us maintain the temperature in a building without huge amounts of energy."

According to some estimates, buildings account for 30% of global energy consumption and emit 10% of all global greenhouse gas. About half of this energy footprint is attributed to the heating and cooling of interior spaces.

"For a long time, most of us have taken our indoor temperature control for granted, without thinking about how much energy it requires," says Hsu, who led the research published in Nature Sustainability. "If we want a carbon-negative future, I think we have to consider diverse ways to control building temperature in a more energy-efficient way."

Researchers have previously developed radiative cooling materials that help keep buildings cool by boosting their ability to emit infrared, the invisible heat that radiates from people and objects. Materials also exist that prevent the emission of infrared in cold climates.

"A simple way to think about it is that if you have a completely black building facing the sun, it's going to heat up more easily than other buildings," says graduate student Chenxi Sui, the first author of the paper.

That kind of passive heating might be a good thing in the winter, but not in the summer.

As global warming causes increasingly frequent extreme weather events and variable weather, there is a need for buildings to be able to adapt; few climates require year-round heating or year-round air conditioning.

Hsu and colleagues designed a non-flammable "electrochromic" building material that contains a layer that can take on two conformations: solid copper that retains most infrared heat, or a watery solution that emits infrared. At any chosen trigger temperature, the device can use a tiny amount of electricity to induce the chemical shift between the states by either depositing copper into a thin film, or stripping that copper off.

In the new paper, the researchers detailed how the device can switch rapidly and reversibly between the metal and liquid states. They showed that the ability to switch between the two conformations remained efficient even after 1,800 cycles.

Then, the team created models of how their material could cut energy costs in typical buildings in 15 different US cities. In an average commercial building, they reported, the electricity used to induce electrochromic changes in the material would be less than 0.2% of the total electricity usage of the building, but could save 8.4% of the building's annual HVAC energy consumption.

"Once you switch between states, you don't need to apply any more energy to stay in either state," says Hsu. "So for buildings where you don't need to switch between these states very frequently, it's really using a very negligible amount of electricity."

So far, Hsu's group has only created pieces of the material that measure about six centimeters across. However, they imagine that many such patches of the material could be assembled like shingles into larger sheets. They say the material could also be tweaked to use different, custom colors—the watery phase is transparent and nearly any color can be put behind it without affecting its ability to absorb infrared.

The researchers are now investigating different ways of fabricating the material. They also plan to probe how intermediate states of the material could be useful.

"We demonstrated that radiative control can play a role in controlling a wide range of building temperatures throughout different seasons," says Hsu. "We're continuing to work with engineers and the building sector to look into how this can contribute to a more sustainable future."

Source: Sarah C.P. Williams for University of Chicago

The post Color-changing material could warm or cool buildings appeared first on Futurity.


Birds including swallows and martins—known as aerial insectivores—control insect populations and insect-borne disease and provide hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of pest control for agriculture. But these feathered friends to humanity are declining at an alarming rate, with species in North America declining more than 30% from 1970 to 2017.

Internet Erupts as NASA Spots Cartoon Bear on Surface of Mars
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a photo of an unusually mammalian structure on our dusty red neighbor. Definitely looks like a bear.

Mars Bear

Tired: Cocaine Bear. Wired: Mars Bear.

NASA's University of Arizona-based High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) gave the internet an absolute treat yesterday, in the shape of an unusually mammalian feature spotted on the surface of the Red Planet by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

"This feature looks a bit like a bear's face,"  reads a tongue-in-cheek HiRISE blog post. "What is it really?"

And in case you had any trouble visualizing the bear's features, the researchers broke things down further — and in excruciating detail.

"There's a hill with a V-shaped collapse structure (the nose), two craters (the eyes), and a circular fracture pattern (the head)," they added. There's even a cringeworthy but endearing, narrated video to really drive their message home.

Missing Facts

Despite the fact that we're pretty sure it's not a real bear, as evidenced in a helpful netizen graphic, the researchers still aren't entirely sure what the features actually are.

"The circular fracture pattern might be due to the settling of a deposit over a buried impact crater," the HiRISE team posited. "Maybe the nose is a volcanic or mud vent and the deposit could be lava or mud flows?"

All plausible! Still, nothing concrete.

Online Controversy

As expected, social media users weighed in on the NASA discovery.

"He looks like Yogi Bear from the cartoon," wrote one Twitter user. "A fantastic image."

"Bear…for sure," added another.

"The fact that NASA is hiding the truth about life on Mars is unbearable," tweeted another skeptical netizen.

Elsewhere, American weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin was quick to make Mars Bear all about itself.

"A bear-y nice image, indeed!" the NASA contractor tweeted. "Captured by HiRISE on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, built and currently being flown by our Lockheed Martin space engineers."

Learn how to share the spotlight, y'all. This is Mars Bears' moment.

READ MORE: A Bear on Mars? [HiRISE]

More on NASA imagery: James Webb Captures Its First Look at Saturn's Most Mysterious Moon

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89 Percent of College Students Admit to Using ChatGPT for Homework, Study Claims
Is this article about Tech?
Online course provider asked 1,000 students over the age of 18 about the use of ChatGPT, and found almost half already used it to cheat.

TAIcher's Pet

Educators are battling a new reality: easily accessible AI that allows students to take immense shortcuts in their education — and as it turns out, many appear to already be cheating with abandon.

Online course provider asked 1,000 students over the age of 18 about the use of 


, OpenAI's blockbuster chatbot, in the classroom.

The responses were surprising. A whopping 48 percent confessed they already made use of it to complete an at-home test or quiz. Over 50 percent said they used ChatGPT to write an essay, while 22 percent admitted to having asked ChatGPT for a paper outline.

Honestly, those numbers sound so staggeringly high that we wonder about's methodology. But if there's a throughline here, it's that AI isn't just getting pretty good — it's also already weaving itself into the fabric of society, and the results could be far-reaching.

Muscle AItrophy

At the same time, according to the study, almost three-quarters of students said they wanted ChatGPT to be banned, indicating students are equally worried about cheating becoming the norm.

Educators are also understandably worried about AI having a major impact on their students' education, and are resorting to AI-detecting apps that attempt to suss out whether a student used ChatGPT.

But as we've found out for ourselves, the current crop of tools out there, like GPTZero, are still actively being developed and are far from perfect.

Future Shock

Some are worried AI chatbots could have a disastrous effect on education.

"Just because there is a machine that will help me lift up a dumbbell doesn't mean my muscles will develop," Western Washington University history professor Johann Neem told The Wall Street Journal. "In the same way just because there is a machine that can write an essay doesn't mean my mind will develop."

But others argue teachers should leverage powerful technologies like ChatGPT to prepare students for a new reality.

" I hope to inspire and educate you enough that you will want to learn how to leverage these tools, not just to learn to cheat better," Weber State University professor Alex Lawrence told the WSJ, while University of Pennsylvania's Ethan Mollick, said that he expects his literature students to leverage the tech to "write more" and "better."

"This is a force multiplier for writing," Mollick added. "I expect them to use it."

READ MORE: Professors Turn to ChatGPT to Teach Students a Lesson [The Wall Street Journal]

More on ChatGPT: BuzzFeed Announces Plans to Use OpenAI to Churn Out Content

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China's "zero-COVID" policy and the continued effects of the one-child rule contributed to the country's population decline, Northeastern experts say, and a reduction in its labor force could push the manufacturing giant to bring in migrant workers.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?


(Image: Misael Moreno/Unsplash)
When it comes to treating cancer, groups of synergistic drugs are often more effective than standalone drugs. But coordinating the delivery of multiple drugs is easier said than done. Drugs' molecular properties tend to differ, making it difficult to ensure that pharmaceuticals make it to their destinations without losing effectiveness along the way. An all-new multidrug nanoparticle might be the solution. A team of researchers at MIT has created a "molecular bottlebrush" capable of delivering any number of drugs at the same time.


Drug-loaded nanoparticles—or ultrafine particles ranging from one to 100 nanometers in diameter—prevent treatments from being released prematurely, which ensures that the drug reaches its destination before beginning to do its job. This means nanoparticles carrying cancer treatments can collect at the tumor site, facilitating the most effective treatment possible. There is, of course, one caveat: Only a few cancer-treating nanoparticles have been approved by the FDA, and only one of those is capable of carrying more than one drug.

MIT's molecular bottlebrush, detailed Thursday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, challenges that. Chemists start by inactivating drug molecules by binding and mixing them with polymers. The result is a central "backbone" with several spokes. All it takes to activate the inactivated drugs sitting along the backbone is a break in one of those spokes. This unique design is what enables the new nanoparticle to carry (and thus deliver) multiple drugs at a time.


(Image: Detappe et al/Nature Nanotechnology/MIT)

The team tested the molecular bottlebrush in mice with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that targets the body's plasma cells. They loaded the nanoparticle with just one drug: bortezomib. On its own, bortezomib usually gets stuck in the body's red blood cells; by hitching a ride on the bottlebrush, however, bortezomib accumulated in the targeted plasma cells.

The researchers then experimented with multidrug combinations. They tested three-drug bottlebrush arrangements on two mouse models of multiple myeloma and found that the combinations slowed or stopped tumor growth far more effectively than the same drugs delivered sans bottlebrush. The team even found that solo bortezomib, which is currently approved only for blood 


 and not solid tumors, was highly effective at inhibiting tumor growth in high doses.

Through their startup Window Therapeutics, the researchers hope to develop their nanoparticle to the point that it can be tested through clinical trials.

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Is this article about Parenting?
While previous studies of incarceration and family life have focused on immediate family—parents, partners and children—a new analysis of a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults that asked about siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, and other extended family members has found that Black adults in the United States are not only more likely to have experienced family incarceration, but are also more likely to have had more family members incarcerated and to have had family members from more generations ever incarcerated.

Is it acceptable to harm another person? It might depend whether or not there's a car involved, according to a new study from UK researchers. They showed that people have a shared 'blind spot' that can make them use different moral and ethical standards when they think about driving cars, compared to other areas of life.

How Quantum Physicists 'Flipped Time' (and How They Didn't)

Physicists have coaxed particles of light into undergoing opposite transformations simultaneously, like a human turning into a werewolf as the werewolf turns into a human. In carefully engineered circuits, the photons act as if time were flowing in a quantum combination of forward and backward. "For the first time ever, we kind of have a time-traveling machine going in both directions…




Nature Communications, Published online: 27 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36013-1

Most genetic studies of glucose levels have been done on fasting samples, which can be difficult to obtain. Here, the authors identify 156 genetic loci controlling the physiological variation of glucose levels in healthy non-fasting individuals, demonstrating that the results non-fasting samples can be used to predict fasting glucose levels.

The vital role of oxytocin—the "love hormone"—for social attachments is being called into question. More than 40 years of pharmacological and behavioral research has pointed to oxytocin receptor signaling as an essential pathway for the development of social behaviors in prairie voles, humans and other species, but a genetic study published in the journal Neuron on January 27 shows that voles can form enduring attachments with mates and provide parental care without oxytocin receptor signaling.

The vital role of oxytocin—the "love hormone"—for social attachments is being called into question. More than 40 years of pharmacological and behavioral research has pointed to oxytocin receptor signaling as an essential pathway for the development of social behaviors in prairie voles, humans and other species, but a genetic study published in the journal Neuron on January 27 shows that voles can form enduring attachments with mates and provide parental care without oxytocin receptor signaling.

The speed of environmental change is very challenging for wild organisms. When exposed to a new environment individual plants and animals can potentially adjust their biology to better cope with new pressures they are exposed to—this is known as phenotypic plasticity.

To avoid cheating, take your partner's perspective
silhouette of face against purple. Rectangle of light on face shows two eyes plus another on the forehead

Perspective-taking—or putting yourself in our partner's shoes—reduces the temptation to cheat, research finds.

It also inoculates against other partnership-destroying behaviors, according to the study in the Journal of Sex Research on the findings from three double-blind, randomized experiments.

People cheat for a variety of reasons, according to lead author Gurit Birnbaum, a professor of psychology at Reichman University's Ivcher School of Psychology in Israel. Birnbaum notes that while people may be satisfied with their relationships, they may still betray their partners. For example, so-called "avoidant types" who feel uncomfortable with intimacy may try to maintain distance and control in their relationship by cheating.

Context is key.

"People often cheat not because they planned to do so," Birnbaum says. "Rather, the opportunity presented itself and they were too depleted—too tired, too drunk, too distracted—to fight the temptation."

Coauthor Harry Reis, a professor at the University of Rochester, agrees that there are multiple reasons for cheating. One of the more interesting ones, says Reis, author of Relationships, Well-Being and Behaviour (Routledge, 2018), is that men are more likely to cheat because they feel that their sexual needs are not being met. The evidence has shown that women, on the other hand, are more likely to cheat because they feel that their emotional needs aren't met.

Across three studies, the 408 total participants (213 Israeli women and 195 Israeli men, ranging in age from 20 to 47) were randomly assigned to either adopt the perspective of their partner or not. The participants were uniformly in monogamous, mixed-sex relationships of at least four months. As part of the experiments, the participants evaluated, encountered, or thought about attractive strangers while the psychologists recorded their expressions of interest in these strangers, as well as their commitment to and desire for their current partners.

The researchers found that adopting a partner's perspective increased commitment and desire for the partner, while simultaneously decreasing sexual and romantic interest in alternative mates. The findings suggest that perspective taking discourages people from engaging in behaviors that may hurt their partners and damage their relationship.

"Both partners may feel more satisfied with their relationship," says Birnbaum, "and therefore might be less likely to cheat on each other, even if only one of them adopts this strategy."

"Perspective taking doesn't prevent you from cheating, but it lessens the desire to do so," says Reis. Ultimately, he says, cheating means "prioritizing one's own goals over the good of the partner and the relationship, so seeing things from the other person's perspective gives one a more balanced view of these situations."

According to Birnbaum, the findings can help people understand how to resist short-term temptations: "Active consideration of how romantic partners may be affected by these situations serves as a strategy that encourages people to control their responses to attractive alternative partners and derogate their attractiveness."

The team did not test if the benefits of perspective taking extended to the participants' romantic partners who were not part of the experiment. But the researchers have a hunch, because perspective taking generally promotes empathy, understanding, closeness, and caring.

"Both partners may feel more satisfied with their relationship," says Birnbaum, "and therefore might be less likely to cheat on each other, even if only one of them adopts this strategy."

Besides reducing the likelihood of infidelity, perspective taking motivates people to have compassion for their partners' emotions and to seek to strengthen the bond with that partner, thereby boosting the existing relationship.

"People invariably feel better understood, and that makes it easier to resolve disagreements, to be appropriately but not intrusively helpful, and to share joys and accomplishments," Reis says. "It's one of those skills that can help people see the 'us'—rather than the 'me and you'—in a relationship."

The research had support from the Israel Science Foundation and the Binational Science Foundation.

Source: University of Rochester

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NASA Says Another James Webb Instrument Has Suffered a Glitch
One of the instruments attached to NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has encountered a glitch, making it "currently unavailable for science observations."

Comms Delay

NASA says that one of the scientific instruments attached to its uber-expensive James Webb Space Telescope has encountered a glitch, making it "currently unavailable for science observations."

The observatory's Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) "experienced a communications delay within the instrument, causing its flight software to time out."

While that may sound like a serious technical problem, NASA claims that "there is no indication of any danger to the hardware, and the observatory and other instruments are all in good health."

In other words, things could be a whole lot worse. For now, though, the communications delay has forced the space agency to reschedule its observations.

Glitched Again

In December, James Webb's scientific operations were also affected by a different glitch that caused onboard instruments to enter safe mode repeatedly.

NIRISS, one of James Webb's four primary instruments, allows the observatory to have a closer look at planets orbiting around some of the brightest stars in our corner of the universe.

It does so by taking "the star out of focus" and spreading "the light over lots of pixels to avoid saturating the detectors," according to an explainer.

The instrument can also mask out light being reflected from 11 of James Webb's 18 primary mirror segments to be able to spot faint light sources next to much brighter ones.

This latest glitch is unlikely to pose a significant setback to the telescope's observations, thankfully.

The observatory has already spent almost exactly a year at Lagrange point 2, roughly one million miles away — and has been flooding astronomers with an abundance of data ever since.

More on James Webb: Astronomers Complain That the JWST Is Producing Too Much Data

The post NASA Says Another James Webb Instrument Has Suffered a Glitch appeared first on Futurism.


A team of researchers from Fudan University and Université de Lorraine has built a model that can predict the wrinkle patterns that will develop on toroidal structures if they expand or contract. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes using one type of mathematical model to develop another model that describes how growing or contracting impacts the surfaces of toroidal structures.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
Smart materials are materials that have the ability to change their properties in response to specific external stimuli, such as temperature, humidity, light, or applied stress. One of the most well-known examples of smart materials is shape memory alloy (SMA), which is a type of metallic material that can change its shape in response to changes in temperature.

Drug could counter inflammation linked to depression
Is this article about Recreational Drugs?
brain made of pills on blue background

A new study shows that levodopa, a drug that increases dopamine in the brain, has potential to reverse the effects of inflammation on brain reward circuitry, ultimately improving symptoms of depression.

Numerous labs across the world have shown that inflammation causes reduced motivation and anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, by affecting the brain's reward pathways.

Past research from the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine has linked the effects of inflammation on the brain to decreased release of dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that regulates motivation and motor activity, in the ventral striatum.

In the study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers demonstrate that levodopa reversed the effects of inflammation on the brain's functional connectivity in reward circuitry and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) in depressed individuals with higher C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood biomarker produced and released by the liver in response to inflammation.

Levels of inflammation can be easily measured by simple blood tests, like CRP, readily available in clinics and hospitals throughout the US.

The study included 40 depressed patients with a range of CRP levels from high to low who underwent functional brain scans on two visits after receiving in random order either placebo or levodopa, a drug often prescribed for disorders like Parkinson's disease.

Levodopa improved functional connectivity in a classic ventral striatum to ventromedial prefrontal cortex reward circuit but only in patients with higher levels of CRP. This improvement in reward circuitry in depressed individuals with higher CRP also correlated with reduced symptoms of anhedonia after levodopa.

"This research demonstrates the translational potential for use of inflammation-related deficits in functional connectivity and could have important implications for the future investigations of precision therapies for psychiatric patients with high inflammation," says principal investigator and senior author Jennifer C. Felger, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory School of Medicine.

Felger says the study findings are critical for two reasons. First, they suggest depressed patients with high inflammation may specifically respond to drugs that increase dopamine.

Second, Felger says these findings also provide additional evidence that functional connectivity in reward circuitry may serve as a reliable brain biomarker for the effects of inflammation on the brain.

"Moreover, as the effect of levodopa was specific to depressed patients with higher inflammation, this functional connectivity may be used to assess the responsiveness of the brain to novel treatments that might be targeted to this subtype of depressed patients in future studies and clinical trials," says Felger.

Source: Emory University

The post Drug could counter inflammation linked to depression appeared first on Futurity.


What Kids Learn From Hard Conversations
Is this article about Parenting?

Having a normal conversation with a kid can be challenging enough, but talking with them about sensitive topics can be even more complicated. Many immigrant parents, for example, find explaining the decision to leave one country for another painful, although necessary. The author Achut Deng recently told my colleague Caitlin Dickerson how hard it was to share with her sons what she had gone through while emigrating from Sudan to the U.S. as a refugee, including her near-death experiences: She wasn't sure that her boys were ready to hear her story, but she also understood that they had to learn it. Some stories, though, have no comforting resolution. Cynthia Dewi Oka considers motherhood and the burden of crossing borders in her poem "For the child(ren) I cannot carry," but comes to no easy conclusions.

As children go from kids to teenagers, and teenagers to adults, parents must frequently change how they address controversial subjects. The documentary Far From the Tree, based on Andrew Solomon's 2012 nonfiction book, follows the stories of five children who are radically different from their families—including that of a young prisoner who was convicted of murder at age 16. The adults must learn to talk about their differences while trying not to blame themselves for the things they can't control.

But tricky dialogues can help children understand the society they live in. A basic conversation about differences in race, background, sexual orientation, and religion can shape a child's future opinion. In his new book, The Parent Trap, Nate G. Hilger talks about how much the family environment affects a young person's development. Having the courage to bring up worrying topics while kids are still small may make for better outcomes.

My colleague Gal Beckerman wrote last year about one of these tough conversations. During the pandemic, his 7- and 10-year-old daughters stopped reading books. To open up a discussion about the importance of literature, he decided to begin reading Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl with them. It was a bittersweet moment: "I knew, as they didn't yet, how her story ended," he wrote. Prompting the conversation about Anne's fate was hard, but he also found that "reading was giving them pleasure again."

Every Friday in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas. Know other book lovers who might like this guide? Forward them this email.

When you buy a book using a link in this newsletter, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

What We're Reading

image of a child's shadow

Jerry Holt / Star Tribune / Getty

I didn't want my children to know—and then I did

"On a video call during a rare night off from basketball practice, the boys told me that hearing their mother's story made them admire her more."

📚 Don't Look Back, by Achut Deng

Image of a park

Trent Parke / Magnum

For the child(ren) I cannot carry

"Because 'a better life' is the immigrant's most stubborn
illusion, I wanted a do-over."

📚 "For the Child(ren) I Cannot Carry," by Cynthia Dewi Oka

Father and son holding hands

Sundance Selects

The private worlds of parents raising children radically different from themselves

"A central message of Far From the Tree is that some differences just occur in nature randomly, and good parents learn not to expend their energy on blaming themselves for their child's differences."

📚 Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon

Image of a family

Katie Martin / The Atlantic; L. Willinger / Getty

Stop pretending that intensive parenting doesn't work

"When we focus on the best studies that really separate causation from correlation, pretty much everything that intensive parents worry about does indeed seem to matter."

📚 The Parent Trap, by Nate G. Hilger

Image of women reading a book

Martin Parr / Magnum

12 books to help you love reading again

"I picked up Anne Frank's diary. The choice was maybe morbid (and it's possible they weren't quite ready for it), but I sat on the floor in their room and began reading a few entries to them before bed."

📚 The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank

About us: This week's newsletter is written by Bushra Seddique. The book she's reading next is Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo.

Comments, questions, typos? Reply to this email to reach the Books Briefing team.

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The Logic Behind Biden's Refusal to Negotiate the Debt Ceiling
Is this article about Foreign Policy?

President Joe Biden has already made the most important domestic-policy decision he'll likely face this year. Biden and his top advisers have repeatedly indicated that they will reject demands from the new GOP majority in the House of Representatives to link increasing the debt ceiling with cutting federal spending. Instead, Biden is insisting that Congress pass a clean debt-ceiling increase, with no conditions attached.

[Annie Lowrey: The trillion-dollar coin might be the least bad option]

Biden's refusal to negotiate with Republicans now is rooted in the Obama administration's experiences in 2011–15 of trying to navigate increases in the debt ceiling through the same political configuration present today: a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. While Biden says he won't negotiate a budget deal tied to a debt-ceiling increase, then-President Obama did just that in 2011. Those negotiations not only failed but proved so disruptive to financial markets, and so personally scarring, that Obama and his team emerged from the ordeal determined never to repeat it. And when House Republicans came back in 2013 asking for more concessions in exchange for raising the debt ceiling again, Obama declined to negotiate with them; eventually the GOP raised the debt ceiling without conditions.

To understand the choices Obama made about debt-ceiling negotiations, and how they are shaping Biden's approach today, I spoke with multiple officials from the Obama era: several Cabinet secretaries, as well as top aides from the White House, executive-branch departments, and Capitol Hill. Most chose to speak without attribution to candidly discuss Obama's deliberations. What's clear from these conversations is that almost none of the conditions that led Obama to negotiate in 2011 are present today. This helps explain why Biden is rejecting Republican demands, but also why the risk of a cataclysmic default is even greater now than it was then.

When Congress raises the debt ceiling, it does not authorize any new spending; it permits the Treasury to pay the debts the U.S. has incurred from earlier fiscal-policy decisions. A failure to raise the debt ceiling would lead to the federal government defaulting, something that has never happened, and which could crater the stock market, spike interest rates, and disrupt payments to the millions of Americans who rely on federal checks.

In some ways, Biden's staunch refusal to link fiscal negotiations to a debt-ceiling increase is out of character for a politician who spent nearly four decades in the Senate and has prided himself on his ability to reach agreements across party lines. Even now, administration officials make clear that Biden is not precluding negotiations with House Republicans over fiscal policy. What Biden is saying is that he won't allow Republicans to link fiscal negotiations to the threat of not raising the debt ceiling. That resolve flows directly from the Obama administration's experiences.

The dynamics that prompted Obama to negotiate with Republicans in 2011 had started coalescing before the GOP won control of the House in the 2010 midterm election. After taking office in 2009, Obama's first major legislative victory was the passage of a roughly $800 billion stimulus plan to help the economy recover from the 2008 financial collapse. Obama devoted the rest of 2009 to steering the landmark Affordable Care Act through Congress.

[Read: The U.S. debt ceiling: A historical] look

After Congress approved those expensive initiatives, Obama faced pressure from not only congressional Republicans but also a core of centrist Senate Democrats (including Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad of North Dakota) to develop some plan for reducing the federal deficit. Under prodding from Conrad, in February 2010 Obama appointed the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission to recommend a deficit-reduction plan. Throughout that year, "there was an awful lot of 'grand bargain, let's have a historic compromise' in the air" in Washington, Jason Furman, the then– deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, told me.

Before the House changed hands in December 2010, Obama agreed with congressional Republicans on a major package to extend the tax cuts that had been passed under George W. Bush and to also temporarily reduce payroll taxes. Then, in April 2011, the Obama administration and Representative John Boehner, the new Republican House speaker, settled on a plan to fund the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year.

So when Boehner and other Republicans put forward their demands to tie any debt-ceiling increase to cuts in federal spending, the Obama administration did not initially view the prospect of negotiations with horror, multiple former officials told me. Obama shared the belief that a "grand bargain" to control the long-term debt was a worthwhile goal. Furman said the former president considered it an "exciting opportunity."

Jack Lew, who served as Obama's director of the Office of Management of Budget (OMB) during the 2011 confrontation and as Treasury secretary in 2013, told me about another factor that contributed to the Obama administration's willingness to engage: Negotiations that previous presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had had with Congress about the debt ceiling had not proved that disruptive. Debt-ceiling negotiations "up until 2011 had a different character than after 2011," said Lew, who served as a House Democratic aide in the 1980s and in the OMB for Clinton in the 1990s.  

Armed with these convictions, the Obama team didn't blanch, even when the new speaker went to New York in May 2011 to lay down what became known as the "Boehner Rule": Republicans would demand one dollar in spending cuts for each dollar increase in the debt limit that they authorized. The two sides launched fiscal negotiations in talks led by Biden for the administration and Representative Eric Cantor for the House GOP.

As these negotiations unfolded, Boehner presented an increase in the debt ceiling as something Republicans were conceding in return for spending cuts. But the White House, including Biden, never saw things that way. The White House didn't view the debt-ceiling increase primarily as a bargaining chip—they viewed it as the eventual legislative vehicle for moving through Congress whatever agreement the fiscal negotiation produced.

Even with that difference, the talks were serious and, for a while, productive. Biden praised Cantor and Cantor reciprocated. But in late June, the effort collapsed when it hit a familiar rock: The Republicans involved refused to consider raising taxes and Democrats would not agree to spending cuts unless they did.

Over the next few weeks, the speaker and the president, joined by only a few aides, then met for a series of secret negotiations to pursue a "grand bargain" on the deficit. The two men came close to an agreement. But their negotiations ultimately foundered when Obama and Boehner could not agree on the balance between tax increases and spending cuts. Like the Biden-Cantor talks earlier, the Obama-Boehner talks crashed in late July.

Only days before August 2, when the nation would face an unprecedented default, Obama, Biden and the congressional leaders in both parties gathered in the White House for a frantic final weekend of negotiations. The two sides were trying to avoid calamity in an environment of "pure acrimony," Furman told me. "I think if you look at the photographs that [the White House photographer] Pete Souza took over the course of that weekend, you can look at our faces and you don't need to hear any words," Lew said. "If you ask President Obama about the two or three most gut-wrenching moments as president I have no doubt this would be on the list."

Obama negotiating in a crowded conference room.
Pete Souza / The White House

Even though the "grand bargain" evaporated, the two sides (with Biden and Mitch McConnell at the center of the negotiations) reached a complex deal over that weekend. In the first stage, Obama got a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling coupled with $900 billion in spending cuts. The deal linked as much as another $1.5 trillion increase in debt to the creation of a congressional "super committee" that would be guaranteed a floor vote on a plan to cut the deficit an equivalent amount. If the committee deadlocked, automatic spending cuts in defense and non-defense discretionary spending—what became known as sequestration—would be triggered. Though default was averted, months of these talks had led to a nearly universal recoil among the Obama team. There was no single meeting or moment when the president and his top advisers said, "Never again." Instead, participants told me that that conclusion emerged organically. "I think the team around Obama really had a bad taste in their mouth after the 2011 episode and they really wanted to change the terms and dynamics of the debate, and that's why they all embraced the idea that we can't do this anymore," Mark Patterson, the chief of staff at the time for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, told me.

The White House frustration deepened in November 2011. The deficit reduction "super committee" was created in July but deadlocked on the same issue that had stymied previous bipartisan negotiation: the unwillingness of enough Republicans to accept tax increases that Democrats considered sufficient to justify big cuts in programs like Medicare and Medicaid. That stalemate triggered the severe sequestration reductions in discretionary spending—a squeeze that left Democrats fuming over the domestic cuts and Republicans incensed about the defense reductions.

All of that was the backdrop when House Republicans returned in 2013 with a new set of demands for raising the debt ceiling, which included unraveling Obama's greatest legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. This time Obama declined to talk with Republicans. "In 2013, it was a very fresh memory that we got closer than anyone had ever come to defaulting," Lew, who had by then become Treasury secretary, told me. From Obama on down, he said, there was a very strong sense that "we can't ever be in [that] position again."

House Republicans eventually conceded, passing an increase in the debt ceiling without any conditions in October 2013 and again the following year. In October 2015, Boehner, as his final act after announcing his intent to resign from Congress and vacate the speakership, engineered another extension that raised the debt ceiling through the remainder of Obama's presidency while also loosening the sequestration cuts on both defense and domestic spending. Those three votes represented a sweeping victory for Obama's new no-conditions approach to the debt ceiling.

[Read: Nuclear strategists know how dangerous the debt fight is]

Though Biden was among the most enthusiastic proponents of negotiations during Obama's first term, no former officials recall him dissenting from the general rejection of that approach in Obama's second. Notably, then–Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (who died in 2021) took no chances: As the 2013 debt-ceiling fight approached, he personally told Obama to sideline Biden from any talks, because he considered the vice president too willing to make concessions to his frequent negotiating partner, McConnell.

On every front, most experts consider the environment even less hospitable today than it was during Obama's presidency for the kind of budget deal that House Republicans are now demanding in order to raise the debt ceiling. Although Obama's team and many congressional Democrats genuinely believed that a big long-term deficit-reduction plan was both good politics and good economics, Biden, as well as most congressional Democrats today, is much more skeptical of that proposition. And though Republicans could at least formulate specific spending-cut demands back then, they are far less likely to reach consensus today on a meaningful deficit-reduction plan. That's largely because more of them have come to recognize that their political base, centered on older white voters, is just fine with government spending targeted toward them—particularly Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid and the ACA, which Republicans in the Obama era considered the bull's-eye for their deficit-reduction plans. Moreover, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has less control over his fractious conference than Boehner did, and McCarthy is even less willing than his predecessor to cross his most conservative members. But though these factors argue against a big deficit deal, especially one linked to a debt-ceiling increase, Biden must find some way to authorize more debt. He's already facing calls from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia to establish another special deficit-reduction committee.

For now, the White House, while indicating that Biden is open to talking with Republicans about the budget on other tracks, is digging in against linking anything to the debt ceiling. A former Obama official familiar with the Biden team's strategy told me the White House believes that approach "is a matter of principle."  

Biden and his team have taken from the Obama years the lesson that if they don't negotiate against the debt limit, a sufficient number of Republicans will eventually back down because the economic consequences of default would be so catastrophic. Biden may expect, for instance, that enough House Republicans will join House Democrats in advancing a "discharge petition" that would allow an increase to pass the House without support from the GOP leadership. Biden may be right in that calculation. But Obama's no-negotiating posture on the debt ceiling worked mostly because enough congressional Republicans back then were unwilling to plunge over the cliff into default. The White House and financial markets around the world are certain to face many white-knuckled moments before they learn whether that is still true today.


Tanks for Ukraine Have Shifted the Balance of Power in Europe
Is this article about Navy?

When the German and U.S. governments finally agreed this week to supply some of their most formidable battle tanks to Ukraine, the balance of power within Europe perceptibly shifted. For months, President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, fearing an escalation of conflict between the West and Russia, had stubbornly put off Ukrainian requests for the powerful, highly maneuverable vehicles, and the European states most directly vulnerable to Russian aggression—in Scandinavia, the Baltic region, and Central and Eastern Europe—had grown more and more frustrated with Washington and Berlin. Finally, the smaller countries had had enough. In an impressive show of diplomatic muscle, they forced NATO's two greatest powers to take a step that Biden and especially Scholz have clearly been afraid of taking.

The episode is a reminder that a security alliance isn't just a means for major powers, such as the U.S. or Germany, to amplify their own influence by drawing on the forces of smaller nations. In this case, some of NATO's smaller members and partners understand the Russian threat far more clearly than the U.S. or Germany does, because they don't have the option of complacency.  

[Tom Nichols: To defend civilization, defeat Russia]

Since the start of the war, Germany and the U.S. have tried to give Ukraine enough military aid to perform well on the battlefield, but not so much that the Ukrainians can drive Russian forces out of all of occupied Ukraine—including areas that Russia occupied in 2014. Washington and Berlin have kept sending the same mixed signals: Russia cannot win the war, and Ukraine cannot be allowed to lose, but in the end, the defenders might have to make some significant concessions to the invaders to secure a peace deal.

That message has sounded more and more discordant to states to Germany's north and east. The longer the war has gone on, and the more grotesque the crimes and destruction that the Russian government has been willing to commit against its neighbor and ostensible "little brother," Ukraine, the more these states have become convinced that Russia must not only be denied a victory but be defeated outright. During the 20th century, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were incorporated into the Soviet Union against their will. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia were ruled as Soviet vassals during the Cold War. These countries' leaders instinctively understand the threat of Russian imperialism, and take Moscow's rhetoric about national expansion and greatness as the menace that it is. They want to see Russian power broken.

Four Nordic countries—Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway—all have their own well-established reasons for unease about Russia. After World War II, Finland and Sweden opted for (or felt obliged to opt for) a neutral stance in the Cold War, staying out of NATO and hoping that, in exchange, Moscow would respect their independence. Norway uncomfortably shares a border with Russia. Denmark, which controls access to the Baltic Sea, has long had to contend with the presence of Russian military force.

When all of these states saw how easily and with what brutality Vladimir Putin ripped up the post-1945 rule book, embarking on an unnecessary war of national expansion while openly discussing the cultural genocide of another people, their old inhibitions dropped away.

Finland might be the most remarkable member of this new coalition. For decades, Helsinki studiously avoided doing anything to offend the Soviet Union, to the point that Finlandization became shorthand for when a smaller country partially acquiesces to a larger power in the hope of avoiding too much interference in its own internal affairs. However, as soon as Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Finnish government reacted with vigor. It quickly applied for NATO membership—which is almost sure to be granted, regardless of the recent stance of the Turkish and Hungarian governments. Of all world leaders, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has expressed the need to counter the Russian threat most bluntly. She has regretted European Union weakness in opposing Russian actions in Ukraine since 2014 and said that Ukrainian membership in NATO would have prevented the present crisis. She has openly called for Russia's defeat, saying that its withdrawal from Ukrainian territory is "the way out of the conflict." Without hesitation, she recently tied her own country's security to Ukraine's. "We don't know when the war will end, but we have to make sure that the Ukrainians will win," Marin said. "I don't think there's any other choice. If Russia would win the war, then we would only see decades of this kind of behavior ahead of us."

[Anne Applebaum: Germany is arguing with itself over Ukraine]

Similar sentiments are coming out of Warsaw, Tallinn, Stockholm, and other capitals in Eastern and Northern Europe. If anything, these governments' positions have been hardening. The Baltic states, which have consistently given the largest percentage of their defense budgets to aid Ukraine, worked together to persuade Germany to give its advanced Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine. Sweden, maybe most surprisingly, raised the pressure noticeably with a pledge to give the Ukrainians its highly accurate Archer artillery system.

For a while, the U.S. and Germany refused to budge. The Biden administration promised a large number of fighting vehicles, including Bradley armored personnel carriers, but not the Abrams battle tank. Berlin hemmed and hawed, even throwing up new and unexpected conditions on the transfer of Leopards to Ukraine by allied governments. As the NATO states were gathering at Ramstein Air Base in Germany late last week to discuss their latest Ukraine-aid packages, Scholz's government was insisting that it could not provide Leopards to Ukraine until the U.S. first offered its own battle tanks. This position created the impression in many circles that Berlin was still desperate to protect its relationship with Moscow.

But other European countries simply would not let up. In what became known as the Tallinn Pledge, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands joined NATO states in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia in calling for Russia to be pushed out of all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea and other areas occupied before last February 24. Always a leader in the anti-Russian coalition, Poland formally asked Germany to let it convey its own Leopards to Ukraine, and other states discussed doing so even without requesting permission.

Faced with this open revolt, in a breathtaking two days, the U.S. and Germany caved. In addition to granting other nations' requests, Germany started planning on directly transferring tanks of its own. Then, Biden publicly offered 31 Abrams tanks. Other European states, including Portugal and Spain, immediately piled on with offers of even more tanks.  

A new force has emerged in Europe. By acceding to their smaller allies' demands, Germany and the U.S. are belatedly recognizing a slow but relentless shift in the Western approach toward Russia—which is being determined not in Washington or Berlin but in the capitals of countries that, until recently, have been seen as junior partners. Moreover, these new drivers of European security strategy are unlikely to ease up. They are among Europe's richest and fastest-growing economies and have some of the continent's best-equipped militaries. Plus, they will always have Russia close by, and that reality alone will keep them focused.


Meet the Firefighting Goats of Dublin
It's not what you'd expect from one of the rainiest countries in Europe. In the summer of 2021, a flowering plant called gorse caused wildfires that burned for six weeks in an outer suburb of Dublin, Ireland named Howth, before firefighters could get them under control. It was a bad summer for wildfires on the peninsula, but damaging fires are major challenges for people and wildlife there almost every year. The local municipality has tried fire breaks and public awareness campaigns about the dangers of campfires and littering, but with little success. Now, however, they've got an unlikely set of helpers on the case: a herd of goats they hope will make this heathland less vulnerable to fire by munching their way through the dense thickets of highly flammable gorse and bracken that cover it. Why Firefighting Goats Are Needed Introduced in Sept. 2021, the goats themselves are a critically endangered indigenous breed known as old Irish goats. They were common in Howth (as they were across Ireland), until the middle of the 20th century. But the breed declined because of crossbreeding with imported goats and the dying out of traditional farming practices. That was unfortunate, says Seán Carolan, director of the Old Irish Goat Society (OIGS), which is leading the three-year project. "The heathland was essentially created and managed by traditional grazing practices and because a lot of them have been abandoned in suburban areas, they've become overgrown and fire hazards," says Carolan. The project, which is funded by Fingal County Council, aims to determine the conservation grazing capacity of the goats and the cost-effectiveness of this eco-friendly method of wildfire prevention. Read More: Goats Like Your Smile, Hinting Farm Animals Read Emotions "If there are firebreaks that are well maintained, the fire service will be able to control the fires relatively easily," explains Carolan. The initial herd of 25 goats brought to Howth has swelled to 70 in Jan. 2023, with 27 females due for baby goats in March of this year. Alongside the fire prevention aims, OIGS hope that reintroducing Howth's native goat will help bolster the population of this rare breed. How the Goats Fight Fire Split up into groups of 10 to 15 animals, according to age and sex, the goats are rotated around a series of grazing sites. The grazing sites cover approximately 5 percent of the peninsula. While most of the goats simply maintain fire breaks that machinery originally creates, the mature bucks – known as the 'bachelor herd'– also create fire breaks from scratch. "They can do a lot of trashing with their horns and dominate the more mature bushes," explains Melissa Jeuken, the project's full-time goat herd. The goats spend around a month at each grazing site, controlled not by traditional fencing – which would be expensive and labour intensive to install – but by GPS collars that sound an alarm when their wearers approach the virtual boundaries programmed into the system. Jeuken trains the goats on the GPS collars from the age of six months (before this, they stick close to their mothers), over the course of three or four weeks. Once trained, the goats are "are very obedient to the system," she says. They're clever with it too, knowing that once the alarm starts to sound they've got another 19 seconds to finish up whatever they're eating. "What the virtual fencing does is modernise what is already a brilliant animal in terms of herd grazing," says Carolan. "The functionality of these animals has been forgotten as we've moved into more monoculture-type farming." Traditional Meets Modern Grazing Grazing – or rather "browsing" because the term includes all forms of plants – by herbivores is effective in wildfire management for a couple of reasons, explains Christopher Johnson, professor of wildlife conservation at the University of Tasmania and the lead author of a 2018 paper, published in the Royal Society. "By removing a lot of living plant biomass, that reduces the amount of dry fuel that can accumulate," he says. "So, [herbivore grazing] is a good way of localising fire and reducing its impact." There are risks associated with using herbivores in fire prevention, but most don't apply to the Howth project, says Johnson. Not only are the numbers tiny but with the virtual fencing in place, there's little risk of the goats becoming invasive and denuding the landscape. There can be a danger of extensive browsing of woody plants leaving space for flammable grasses to grow; as mixed feeders, however, old Irish goats will forage both woody plants and grass. It's still early in the process for the goats in Howth, but the signs are good so far. Jeuken is delighted by what her "caprine crew" is achieving. "Give them a week somewhere and you can see a difference. The initial change is very drastic," she says. Looking ahead, says Carolan, "what we need now is a lot of ecological survey data and secondary analysis of the goats to really analyze in greater detail what the effects are." If the results are good, it could open the door to a wider application of this traditional-meets-modern solution to wildfire prevention.

A new species of microalgae was found in water from a home aquarium. While analyzing DNA samples taken from the algae, researchers from the University of Tokyo discovered a DNA sequence that didn't match any on record. This new species is the smallest known freshwater green algae, with inherent qualities that enable it to be cultured stably at a high density, meaning it could be effectively used to produce useful products for food and industry.

Just as the sound of a guitar depends on its strings and the materials used for its body, the performance of a quantum computer depends on the composition of its building blocks. Arguably the most critical components are the devices that encode information in quantum computers.

A new species of microalgae was found in water from a home aquarium. While analyzing DNA samples taken from the algae, researchers from the University of Tokyo discovered a DNA sequence that didn't match any on record. This new species is the smallest known freshwater green algae, with inherent qualities that enable it to be cultured stably at a high density, meaning it could be effectively used to produce useful products for food and industry.

Neuroscientists study chemosensory processing by establishing chemical cues and the corresponding behavioral responses to record large-scale neuronal activity. In a new report now published in Nature Communications, Samuel Sy and a team of scientists in neurology, health sciences, biomedical engineering and mathematics in China and France presented a new method based on a set of optofluidic tools. This technology established chemical delivery to simultaneously image the behavioral outputs and whole-brain neural activities at cellular resolution in larval zebrafish.

Leo has found 1 Funding Events mention in this article
  • The company, which raised $13 million in seed funding last April, is planning to target asteroids rich in platinum group metals in deep space.

Asteroid mining has long caught the imagination of space entrepreneurs, but conventional wisdom has always been that it's little more than a pipe dream. That may be about to change after a startup announced plans to launch two missions this year designed to validate its space mining technology.

There are estimated to be trillions of dollars worth of precious metals locked up in asteroids strewn throughout the solar system. Given growing concerns about the scarcity of key materials required for batteries and other electronics, there's been growing interest in attempts to extract these resources.

The enormous cost of space missions and the huge technical challenges involved in mining in space have led many to dismiss the idea as unworkable. The industry has already seen one boom and bust cycle after leading players like Deep Space Industries folded after investors lost their nerve.

But now, California-based startup AstroForge has taken concrete steps toward its goal of becoming the first company to mine an asteroid and bring the materials back to Earth. This year it will launch two missions, one designed to test out its in-space mineral extraction technology and another that will carry out a survey mission of a promising asteroid close to Earth.

"With a finite supply of precious metals on Earth, we have no other choice than to look to deep space to source cost-effective and sustainable materials," CEO and co-founder Matt Gialich said in a statement.

The company, which raised $13 million in seed funding last April, is planning to target asteroids rich in platinum group metals in deep space. These materials are in major demand in many high-tech industries, but their reserves are limited and geographically concentrated. Extracting them can also be very environmentally damaging.

AstroForge is developing mineral refining technology that it hopes will allow it to extract precious metals from these asteroids and return them to Earth. A prototype will catch a lift into orbit on a spacecraft designed by OrbAstro and launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April. It will be pre-loaded with asteroid-like material, which it will then attempt to vaporize and sort into its different chemical constituents.

Then in October, the company will attempt an even more ambitious mission. A 220-pound spacecraft also designed by OrbAstro, called Brokkr-2, will attempt an 8-month journey to reach an asteroid orbiting the sun about 22 million miles from Earth. It will carry a host of instruments designed to assess the target asteroid in situ.

Both of these missions are precursors designed to test out systems that will be needed for AstroForge's first proper asteroid mining mission, expected later this decade. The company plans to target asteroids between 66 to 4,920 feet in diameter and break them apart from a distance before collecting the remains.

Even if these missions are a success, there's still a long road towards making space mining practical. According to research AstroForge recently conducted with the Colorado School of Mines, the bulk of metal-rich asteroids are found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is currently a 14-year round trip.

Nonetheless, off-world mining does appear to be having somewhat of a renaissance, with dozens of space resources startups springing up in recent years. If AstroForge succeeds in proving out its technology this year, it could give this fledgling industry a major boost.

Image Credit: NASA


Ultrafast control of spins in a microscope
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new technique that can visualize and control the rotation of a handful of spins arranged in a vortex-like texture at the fastest speed ever achieved. The breakthrough can advance "spintronics," a technology that includes new types of computer memory, logic gates, and high-precision sensors.

A giant diffuse tail of stars has been discovered emanating from a large, faint dwarf galaxy. The presence of a tail indicates that the galaxy has experienced recent interaction with another galaxy. This is an important clue for understanding how so called "ultra-diffuse" galaxies are formed.

Neuroscientists study chemosensory processing by establishing chemical cues and the corresponding behavioral responses to record large-scale neuronal activity. In a new report now published in Nature Communications, Samuel Sy and a team of scientists in neurology, health sciences, biomedical engineering and mathematics in China and France presented a new method based on a set of optofluidic tools. This technology established chemical delivery to simultaneously image the behavioral outputs and whole-brain neural activities at cellular resolution in larval zebrafish.

Behold! Dazzling Green Comet Approaches
Super-rare green comet C/2022 E3 — or ZTF for short — is making its closest approach to both the Earth and the Sun, dazzling hobby astrophotographers.

Green Lantern

Super-rare green comet C/2022 E3 — or ZTF for short — is currently making its closest approach to both the Earth and the Sun, dazzling hobby astrophotographers with its otherworldly hue.

One startlingly beautiful image, taken by astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy, shows off the comet's long tail, a kaleidoscope of colors lighting up the night sky.

Most amazing of all, it documents an exceedingly rare event: the next time we'll be able to get a glimpse of ZTF won't be for another 50,000 years.

"This morning I captured a photo of the comet that's been all over the news lately," he tweeted. "The tail looks remarkably different than it did during last week's capture. These objects are incredibly fascinating to observe as they near the Sun."


Shine So Bright

ZTF has been making its approach towards the Sun this week, lighting up like a bright-green-and-blueish lightbulb in shots taken by observatories around the world.

According to experts, its green color is likely the result of sunlight decaying dicarbon found in the comet, a common reactive molecule.

The comet will technically come closest to Earth on February 1, at which point it may become visible to the unaided eye — but astronomers aren't taking their chances, as comets and their trajectories are infamously unpredictable.

ZTF was first discovered in March 2022 by astronomers Frank Masci and Bryce Bolin at the California-based Palomar Observatory. It's been lighting up the night sky ever since, but only recently grew in brightness as it approaches its closest point to Earth.

If you want to have a look at the comet for yourself during its upcoming closest approach, maybe give University of Toronto astronomer Hanno Rein's iOS app a shot.

"Just hold your device up to the sky and find the red target marker on the screen," the app's description reads. "That's where the comet is!"

More on the comet: If You Go Outside, You May Be Able to See an Awesome Green Comet

The post Behold! Dazzling Green Comet Approaches appeared first on Futurism.


Fundamental energy cost of finite-time parallelizable computing
Is this article about Quantum Computing?

Nature Communications, Published online: 27 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36020-2

Based on fundamental thermodynamics, traditional electronic computers, which operate serially, require more energy per computation the faster they operate. Here, the authors show that the energy cost per operation of a parallel computer can be kept very small.


Nature Communications, Published online: 27 January 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36150-7

Epigenetic regulators are potential therapeutic drug targets in 
. Here, the authors perform combinatorial CRISPR knockouts to test gene-gene pairings in leukemia cells to discover compensatory non-lethal or synergistic lethal combinations with therapeutic potential.

Climate Reparations Won't Work
For Tonga and other nations disproportionately impacted by the environmental crisis, cash is only a band-aid for a spiraling disaster.

M&M's Are the Best Trolls on the Internet
Is this article about Politics?
After a long crusade by Fox News' Tucker Carlson, the brand put its spokescandies on hiatus. It's a savvy move that seems designed for social media.

What to Read When You're Expecting
Is this article about Parenting?

The moment I learned I was pregnant, advice began pouring in from all directions. Much was unsolicited and came from well-meaning friends, relatives, or strangers in the endless flow of comments on internet forums. Meanwhile, guidebooks and articles filled my head with warnings. Following in the footsteps of millions of people before me, I dutifully purchased a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and jotted down notes on the perils of cold cuts and various medications.

Amid the onslaught of rules and restrictions, what I found myself craving—along with a tall glass of cold ale—was less dogma and more solidarity around this strange new state of being. I looked for a wide range of books that would help me holistically understand what would happen to me and my family. I also hoped to learn more about the cultural context of bearing and rearing children, so that I could understand how I now fit into it.

When I put down What to Expect, I found titles that offered maps for navigating, emotionally and physically, what was to come. The authors have drawn them by exploring their own psyche and experiences, and by researching the perspectives of others. For those in the midst of the great transition into parenthood who may also be seeking reassurance, these writers offer up generous insight without judgment.

The cover of Great With Child
W. W. Norton and Company

Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother, by Beth Ann Fennelly

"Of course there will be Required Reading, the baby books and magazines," Beth Ann Fennelly, a mother, professor, and former poet laureate of Mississippi, advises her newly pregnant friend in a letter. "But find time to read good literature, too, even if a novel takes a month"—substantive books, she argues, nourish and counsel us in ways that straightforward guidance cannot. The letter is one of many that she wrote and later compiled into a book; it's an odd form, in a way, because it encourages the reader to encroach on someone's deeply personal correspondence. Yet Fennelly pulls this off, and her words of wisdom are deeply sweet without being cloying. She acknowledges the hardships of motherhood, warning that giving birth can be excruciating, that personal pursuits can suffer, that working can come with feelings of guilt. Still, the portrait she paints of parenting in her warmly chaotic household is sun-kissed and soothing. To her, raising children is akin to writing poetry: "Both cost you more than you think you can bear. Repay you more than you deserve."

The cover of Nurture
Chronicle Books

Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood—And Trusting Yourself and Your Body, by Erica Chidi

The title of this interactive, illustrated guide feels apt, with its focus on nurturing parents-to-be. Inside are many pages devoted to their physical and mental health. Chidi intersperses straightforward medical explanations—including a month-by-month breakdown of pregnancy and overview of childbirth options—with advice that draws from her expertise as a doula, chef, and reproductive health educator, such as recipes, checklists, reflection exercises, and best ways to vet practitioners. She references mainstream medical advice, but discusses less common options such as home birth without judgment. Those anxious about leaving the hospital with a baby will also appreciate the thorough section on newborn care. The comforting tone and emphasis on maternal well-being give the sense of someone holding your hand through what can otherwise feel like an overly clinical or frightening experience.

[Read: Parenting looks nothing like what the experts say]

The cover of Linea Nigra
Two Lines Press

Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes, by Jazmina Barrera, translated by Christina MacSweeney

When interpreting pregnancy through art, no starting point is better than the musings of the Mexican writer Jazmina Barrera. Linea Nigra, named after the line that appears on the abdomen of many expecting people, chronicles the author's life in the months before and after having her first child. To call it a memoir would be reductive—it includes so many references to fine art, literature, and history that it functions almost as an anthology or a masterfully curated museum of child-rearing. Influenced by her own mother's career as a painter, Barrera meditates on art constantly, at one point comparing Mark Rothko's black-on-black paintings to the way the world might appear from within the uterus, and at another mulling the final scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when a fetus observes the Earth from some unknown vantage. She weaves in thoughts from writers such as Maggie Nelson, Sylvia Plath, and Rosario Castellanos. When an earthquake buries her mother's paintings, it serves as an apt metaphor for the way she's preparing for her child to irrevocably alter her life. Her writing gives this change the gravity it deserves. If nothing else, Linea Nigra reminds readers that many deep and abstract thinkers have trodden this road before them.

The cover of Like a Mother
Harper Wave

Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, by Angela Garbes

Readers of Garbes's more recent book, Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, will find her first book no less insightful. Drawing on her background as a journalist, she breaks down complex biological processes such as placenta growth and milk production with the enthusiasm and clarity of a high-school science teacher. At the same time, she relates them to her own experience as a mom, and critiques the ways America both judges and neglects new parents. Refreshingly, she doesn't shy away from darker elements. In one chapter, she walks the reader through the facts and figures of pregnancy loss, and recounts having had miscarriages and an abortion before giving birth to her daughter. She marvels at the healing properties of breast milk while recalling how all-consuming it was to pump around the clock. She laments how ill-supported women in the U.S. are when recovering from labor (unlike in France, where, she notes, everyone who gives birth is referred to treatment to help strengthen their pelvic floor), but celebrates how dance workouts eventually helped her rebuild her muscles. Any reader, pregnant or not, could come away with a greater appreciation for the processes by which humans are conceived, delivered, and raised.

[Read: What happens to your body after giving birth?]

The cover of The Natural Mother of the Child

The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthoodby Krys Malcolm Belc

For Belc, who is nonbinary and transmasculine, carrying a child meant grappling with a host of questions about identity. "Nothing about being pregnant made me feel feminine," he writes. "This body is what it is: not quite man, not quite woman, but with the parts to create and shape life." In order to properly take stock of that experience, he grafts legal documents, photographs, and other ephemera into his memoir; the result feels less like a parent's sentimental scrapbook than a carefully researched thesis. Many of these documents are vestiges from the process of Belc's partner adopting their second son. These forms listed Belc as "the natural mother of the child," a label that caused him great discomfort and even rage; the book details how his desire to legally sanction his family's relationships forced him to accept labels that felt dismissive and inaccurate. Regardless of the extent to which a reader relates to Belc's position, his meditation on how babies can simultaneously upend, compromise, and enrich a person in every sense invites readers to reflect on the limitations of gender roles, as well as on the contradictions and complexities of their own inner lives.

The cover of Motherhood So White
Source Books

Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America, by Nefertiti Austin

Austin can recall the exact day in 2006 when, at 36, she felt gripped with "full-fledged mommie-jones" and decided to adopt. As a Black woman without a partner, she understood that her decision would "raise eyebrows," but she cherished her independent, single life, and she had a positive view of non-nuclear family structures; she herself had been raised by her grandparents. When a social worker told her that Black boys in the foster system are most likely to be overlooked, she realized that bringing up "a baby boy would allow me to lift as I climbed." Her sense of responsibility—to not only be a good parent, but to challenge injustice—serves as the focal point of the book. Hungry for healthy, relatable models of Black parenting, she scoured the library for stories like hers and came up short. She describes to readers what she did find, along with a discussion of every TV show, podcast, political event, and song that made her feel less alone. Her writing lays bare how U.S. culture influences, excludes, and undermines Black families. Meanwhile, her frank account of the adoption process illuminates an alternative path to parenthood through the eyes of someone who's as wary of the world's prejudice as she is hopeful that she can help change it.

[Read: Parenting like an economist is a lot less stressful]

The cover of The Birth Partner
Harvard Common Press

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companionby Penny Simkin

When preparing for childbirth—an experience equally high-stakes and unpredictable—the mere knowledge that someone close to you has enlightened themselves on the process can be a powerful emotional balm. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends that women have a trusted companion to support them throughout labor, and says that their health outcomes can improve when they do. Yet playing a supportive role can be challenging without sufficient knowledge of what happens—and where you fit in. In The Birth Partner, Simkin, a physical therapist, childbirth educator, doula, and birth counselor, helps anyone who wants to help: Her book doesn't discriminate among partners, relatives, friends, and professionals. Originally published in 1989, the handbook has earned thousands of fans and been updated numerous times, most recently in 2018. By giving readers concrete strategies for comforting and accommodating someone during labor, in addition to preparing them for what they might feel in the moment, Simkin reminds us that labor, like parenting, can be easier and more meaningful when treated as a collective effort.

When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.


Watch This Tiny Liquid Metal Robot Do a T-1000 Impression

You may think that when and if the robot apocalypse happens, we'll be able to lock the robots up to keep humanity safe. Well, think again. A team of researchers from the Soft Machines Lab at Carnegie Mellon University have created a rudimentary robot that can become a liquid on demand, a capability the lead author compared to the 


 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Most of the robots you've seen are of the "hard" variety. They're made of solid metal, with unyielding graspers and ranges of motion dictated by the type and orientation of linear actuators. Soft robotics is an emerging field of study that seeks to build robots that are more flexible, allowing them to handle objects and navigate complex environments without the same risk of damage — to the robot as well as anyone or anything that might be nearby.

The liquid metal robot created at Carnegie Mellon, with assistance from Sun Yat-sen University and Zhejiang University, is based on gallium with embedded magnetic nanoparticles. Since Gallium has an unusually low melting point of just 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius), it's possible to shift it between liquid and metal without any special equipment. The team calls this "magnetoactive phase transitional matter" or MPTM.


We've seen several soft robotics projects that use magnets for external control. But the MPTM work at Carnegie Mellon adds morphological adaptability to the equation. The magnetic nanoparticles allow the researchers to move the robots around and even generate enough heat to melt them on the spot. "When you have a metal that's in the presence of an alternating magnetic field, we just know from fundamental principles of electromagnetism that causes basically electrical current to spontaneously flow through that metal," lead author Carmel Majidi tells Vice.

The video above demonstrates how the tiny gallium figure is able to liquefy and squirm through the bars of its cage, just like that famous scene from Terminator 2 when the T-1000 walks through the bars. There's one important caveat, though. While it looks like the robot returns to its original shape on its own, it had to be remolded by hand for that shot. There is currently no mechanism to control the shape of the robot with that much precision as it returns to its solid state. Maybe one day, though. The researchers see numerous potential applications for a meltable magnetic robot, including biomedicine, where it could deliver drugs or remove foreign objects from the body.

Now read:


Electricity from Rocks?


There are several viral videos spreading claiming to demonstrate a large electric charge stored in certain kinds of rocks in Africa. The most popular is this one which alleges to show electrically charged rocks from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). When touched together the rocks give off large sparks which leave burn marks on the stones. The comments are mostly amusing and sad, reflecting the cultural turmoil of the region. A few figured out what is happening here.

We can start by evaluating the plausibility of the claim. The sparking is not a single event, as if there were static electricity in the rocks that discharged. They continue to discharge without diminishing. It is implausible that a natural ore (i.e. not a battery) would contain so much electricity. Also, where would the electricity come from? Some commenters through out the piezoelectric effect, the transformation of mechanical stress to current, but this only produces a tiny amount of electricity. Even if there were some small amount of static electricity in the material, this would not be a source of power, as some seem to believe.

What about the video itself? There are countless deceptive and fake videos on social media, so it's good to have some basic idea how to recognize deception. I recommend Captain Disillusion's Youtube channel – he is a digital effects expert who examines dubious videos and reveals their deception. On this video there are some immediately suspicious features. First, the video is very close-up. We are seeing just the rocks with little space around them. Close-cropping like this is a standard technique for hiding things out of view of the lens. An honest video documenting a phenomenon would show the environment and the setup, and show multiple angles and perspectives. It may zoom in at some point, but if all you see if a super close-up, be suspicious.

The most highly suspicious feature of the video, however, is the brief glance you get at the brick on the ground right behind one of the rocks. What's it doing there? It seems oddly out-of-place, or at least completely random – unless it is there to hide the wire that is connected to the rock on the ground. The other rocks, the one held by the gloved hand (for insulation) we never see completely, so it also can easily be hiding a wire. The simplest explanation is that one rock is connected to a positive electrode of a battery while the other is connected to the negative electrode. Anyone who has touched the cables connected to a car battery has seen sparks of this magnitude. The rocks themselves only need to have some iron ore or other conducting mineral in them.

Another video, showing a completely different kind of rock apparently powering an LED lightbulb, is being spread alongside the first one. Again, the demonstration is likely a deception. Even if there were a small amount of electrical charge in the rock, just holding it would likely discharge it, and just touching it with wires would not produce a steady flow of current. LED bulbs use very little electricity, so it is easy to hide a small watch battery in this setup. Perhaps that suspicious flat circle on the rock.

These deceptive techniques are also common in many "free energy" videos. The demonstration often includes very small amounts of electricity, which can easily come from a variety of sources other than the claimed free energy. Either that or the setup suspiciously allows for a deliberately hidden source of electricity.

Again with this video the discussion turns to the exploitation of African natural resourced by the West. This is a complex topic I don't mean to get into here. Suffice to say, there has absolutely been exploitation, but also the DRC has significant governance problems. It has an abundance of mineral resources, including lithium and cobalt critical for the green revolution, and coltan which is critical for many electronic devices. Extraction of these minerals has had significant negative effects on the local ecosystem, and the profit from these minerals generally does not benefit local populations. This situation creates a powerful narrative that the DRC has an abundance of minerals critical for modern technology, but is being taken without truly benefitting the people. These videos of "magic" rocks (with many references to vibranium) fits well into this narrative.

The problems faced by the DRC are real, but these electrical rock videos are fake.

The post Electricity from Rocks? first appeared on NeuroLogica Blog.


The Download: watermarking AI text, and freezing eggs

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.

A watermark for chatbots can spot text written by an AI

What's happened: A new method could help us to spot AI-generated texts. Watermarking buries hidden patterns in the text that are invisible to the human eye, but lets computers detect that the text probably comes from an AI system or a human.

Why it matters: ChatGPT is one of a new breed of large language models that generate fluent text that reads like a human could have written it. These AI models regurgitate facts confidently, but are notorious for spewing falsehoods, which makes it worrying that they're already being adopted for everything from essays to workout plans. To the untrained eye, it is almost impossible to detect whether a passage is written by an AI model or human. 

And it works? In studies, these watermarks have already shown that they can identify AI-generated text with near certainty. If they're embedded in large language models, they could help prevent some of the problems that these models have already caused. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikk