Nature Communications, Published online: 24 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36775-8Many transcriptomic pathways in the liver show circadian rhythms, which have been reported to be disrupted in aged mice. Here the authors report that the expression of transcription factor Egr-1 decreases and its rhythm is shifted with age in the liver of male mice, and that deletion of Egr-1 results in increased liver fat accumulation.
|submitted by /u/EssoEssex
Anyone else's feed full of random (verified?) accounts that you don't follow posting things like "here's 12 prompts to use ChatGPT to become superhuman" and shit like that? I found one whose bio legitimately said "Public AI explorer". Are these bots? people being paid to generate hype? Regardless they're really fucking annoying.
|submitted by /u/Philip19967
Any doctor who pushes for the repeated mass infection of unvaccinated babies and toddlers with a novel, mutating virus, when an effective vaccine is available, is a medical radical.The post Medical "Conservatives" Are Medical Radicals first appeared on Science-Based Medicine.
Innovation in agricultural sector is needed if cities are to solve air pollution problems, say scientists
A study reveals that farming is responsible for more than a quarter of the particle pollution in UK cities.
UK agriculture created 38% of the particle pollution in Leicester, 32% in Birmingham and 25% in London in 2019, according to the study. In each case the contribution from rural agriculture was greater than all of the sources within the cities themselves.Continue reading…
Nature Communications, Published online: 24 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37176-7In this study, the authors perform a meta-analysis of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness studies and compare observed protection against severe disease with model-based estimates of neutralising antibody titres. Their results show that SARS-CoV-2 antibody titres are predictive of protection against severe COVID-19 disease.
Nature Communications, Published online: 24 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37313-2Space-charge layers are believed to profoundly influence the interfaces in all-solid-state Li batteries. Here, the authors provide atomic scale insights into this phenomenon, and discover that its impact could be fundamentally different from commonly believed.
Drought conditions in Spain, heavy snow in California, the Fallas Festival in Spain, a spring equinox welcome at Stonehenge, war-damaged buildings in Ukraine, the start of Ramadan in Indonesia, cherry blossoms in Japan, a sandstorm in Inner Mongolia, protests against pension reform in France, and much more
Langstone, Hampshire: The pond is almost devoid of life, apart from several of these greenish-grey segmented worms burrowed into the silt at the bottom
My wildlife pond has been leaking and, after several unsuccessful attempts at patching it up, the race was on to replace the liner before the smooth newts return to breed. Twenty-five years ago, I planted a single yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) in the shallows. While it is a British native, it's an invasive species and has taken over my modest two-metre-diameter pond, sprawling out of its planting basket, self-seeding into the silt. The thick mat of fleshy rhizomes – some as thick as my wrist – has smothered the more delicate plants such as miniature bulrushes, water mint and water forget-me-not, and displaced much of the water, leaving the pond almost devoid of life.
After hacking through the irises and baling out the water, I hadn't found a single dragonfly or damselfly larvae, pond snail or water beetle. The only remaining residents were horse leeches (Haemopis sanguisuga), and plenty of them. Several of these greenish-grey segmented worms had burrowed into the silt at the bottom, while others were hidden in the folds of the liner. While the majority of leeches inhabit fresh water, horse leeches are only semi-aquatic, and more were lurking beneath the pebbles on the pondside beach.Continue reading…
An enormous coronal hole opening on the sun, sending charged particles to Earth, will potentially cause auroras – and a range of technical issues
A massive solar storm, set to peak on Friday night, could lead to a spectacular light show across Australia's eastern coast.
But scientists have also warned the opening of an enormous coronal hole on the sun could could cause power and GPS disruptions as charged particles stream towards the Earth.
Sign up for Guardian Australia's free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundupContinue reading…
Avi Loeb organizing $1.5m search to Papua New Guinea to look for what he says might be alien artifact that crashed into ocean in 2014
A prominent Harvard physicist is planning a Pacific expedition to find what he thinks might be an alien artifact that smashed into the ocean.
Avi Loeb announced that he is organizing a $1.5m ocean expedition to Papua New Guinea to look for fragments of an object that crashed off the coast of its Manus Island in 2014.Continue reading…
Nature Communications, Published online: 24 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37316-zAcid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is a sphingolipid metabolizing enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin to ceramide, and previous work has shown it is upregulated in models of Alzheimer's disease. Here the authors demonstrate in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease that antibody-based immunotherapy targeting plasma ASM resulted in attenuated neuropathological features by suppressing pathogenic Th17 cells.
Nature Communications, Published online: 24 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37294-2A nonreciprocal critical current is known as the superconducting diode effect (SDE). Here, the authors use SQUID-on-tip to study SDE in a EuS/Nb bilayer and find that the stray field from magnetized EuS creates screening currents in the Nb, which lead to SDE by affecting vortex flow dynamics.
Nature Communications, Published online: 24 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37337-8Sliding and twisting of van der Waals layers can produce fascinating physical phenomena. Here, authors show that moiré polar domains in bilayer hBN give rise to a topologically non-trivial winding of the polarization field, forming networks of merons and antimerons.
|submitted by /u/matt2001
Professor Farahany explains where we are with the technology to read thoughts (of employees, of consumers, etc. – groups palatable to the attendees of the World Economic Forum) and offers pablum when confronted with the tough questions about how to prevent this tech from being a tool of oppression.
I don't know that it is possible to watch this video without at least once shouting at the screen "Have you met humans?!?!"
I think everyone that follows this sub suspected that this dystopian nightmare (or utopian dream, for some??) was coming. But what truly horrified me was how few years we have left of our ow
|submitted by /u/izumi3682
Rare close encounter will occur this weekend, when the space rock will be visible through binoculars and small telescopes
An asteroid big enough to wipe out a city will pass harmlessly between Earth and the moon's orbit this weekend, missing both, while providing scientists a chance to study the object close up.
Asteroid flybys are common but Nasa said it was rare for one so big to come so close and that events like this occurred only about once a decade. Scientists estimate its size to be somewhere between 40 and 90 metres in diameter.Continue reading…
Here's how to tell whether your eye drops are safe to use and how to recognize a potential infection
Here's how to tell whether your eye drops are safe to use and how to recognize a potential infection
|submitted by /u/Riversntallbuildings
|submitted by /u/Just-A-Lucky-Guy
|submitted by /u/Hanzo_The_Ninja
Many years ago I read a short story, I think by Isaac Asimov, about a CS professor who thinks that Shakespeare made a grammatical mistake in one of his plays. There's a certain word in a certain sentence from a certain play (all of which were identified in the story) that he thinks should be different. So he programs a computer to predict the next word from a block of text, then he feeds it all of Shakespeare's work up to the questionable word, and it predicts the word Shakespeare used, not the word the professor thinks he should have used.
Can anyone identify this story? It seems relevant …
Here's how to tell whether your eye drops are safe to use and how to recognize a potential infection
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If you're finding it hard to keep track of all of former President Donald Trump's legal woes, don't feel bad: He can't get it straight, either. Last weekend, he announced that he'd be arrested in Manhattan on Tuesday. It's now Thursday, and Trump remains a free man, with no indictment from a grand jury yet. Public indications still seem to point toward charges against Trump in Manhattan, but what and when are still a mystery. And several more cases loom beyond that.
Assuming Trump is eventually charged, whether in Manhattan or elsewhere, the result will be a spectacle no one alive has seen before: a former U.S. president under arrest. We likely won't see a classic perp walk, with officers holding him by each arm and escorting him. The process would instead be arranged and negotiated beforehand, and he's reportedly been debating whether to smile for the cameras on his way to being booked. Trump would have to be fingerprinted like any other defendant, and then he'd be released. But that would be just the start of a long process toward a trial or plea, and then a verdict.
With so many investigations and cases floating around, maintaining a sense of the issues at stake in each investigation, the timeline for them, and how serious a threat to the former president they pose is tricky—even when you've been following the cases for years now, as I have. Here's my attempt to put all of the open criminal cases against Donald Trump in context for easy reference. I've arranged the cases by my assessment of the seriousness of the allegations to democracy and the rule of law, from the least significant to the most.
Manhattan: Hush Money
Because District Attorney Alvin Bragg has not announced charges, we have to speculate a bit, but public evidence suggests that Bragg is looking at a claim that Trump falsified business records in reimbursing his former fixer Michael Cohen for a hush payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actor who allegedly had an affair with Trump. Cohen's payoff and Trump's reimbursement are not in dispute, but Trump denies the affair and any lawbreaking.
When? The timing of any charges is a topic of intense speculation, especially after Trump's prediction last weekend of a Tuesday arrest. The grand jury unexpectedly didn't meet yesterday and is reportedly meeting on a different matter today. That means we're probably looking at next week at the earliest.
How grave is the allegation? Look, falsifying records is a crime, and crime is bad. But many people have analogized this case to Al Capone's conviction on tax evasion: It's not that he didn't deserve it, but it wasn't really why he was an infamous villain. Unless Bragg has a more elaborate case than he has tipped, this feels like a minor offense compared with the others I'll get to below.
How plausible is conviction? The case Bragg is most likely to make faces hurdles, including the statute of limitations, a questionable key witness in Cohen, and some untested legal theories. In short, based on what we know, the Manhattan case seems like perhaps both the least significant and the legally weakest case. Even some Trump critics are dismayed that Bragg seems to be likely to bring charges before any other criminal case.
Department of Justice: Mar-a-Lago Documents
Special Counsel Jack Smith is overseeing a Justice Department probe into presidential records, some of them highly classified, found at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. Trump removed many documents from the White House when he left office, then refused to return some despite repeated requests. His attorneys attested that he'd returned all relevant documents, but an August 2022 search turned up many, including extremely sensitive documents allegedly stored haphazardly.
When? Smith faces a de facto deadline of January 20, 2025, at which point Trump or any Republican president would likely shut down a case if they take office. Last week a court matter raised eyebrows, as prosecutors persuaded a judge to order Trump's attorney to hand over documents, ruling that attorney-client privilege didn't apply because evidence suggested that Trump's attorneys may have advanced a crime. Then this week, Trump appealed, but the D.C. Circuit Court rejected the attempt in a lightning-fast decision.
How grave is the allegation? The alleged handling of the documents is not as serious as Trump's attempts to overturn the election, but it's probably a solid bronze medal on this list. The documents are highly sensitive for national security, and if allegations are true, Trump refused to comply with a subpoena, tried to hide documents, and lied to the government through his attorneys.
How plausible is conviction? This may be the most open-and-shut case. Not every case involving classified documents gets charged, but if Smith decides to prosecute, the facts and legal theory here are more straightforward than in almost any other of these matters.
Fulton County: Election Subversion
In Fulton County, Georgia, which includes most of Atlanta, District Attorney Fani Willis has been conducting an investigation into attempts to steal the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, including Trump's call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he pressured Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes" to allow him to win.
When? A special grand jury completed its work in January and recommended that its report be made public. The special grand jury can make recommendations, but a normal grand jury would have to issue indictments. During a January hearing over whether to release the full report, prosecutors told a judge that decisions on charges were "imminent," but so far nothing has emerged. (The judge withheld most of the report.)
How grave is the allegation? Short of the federal January 6 case (which I'll get to next), this is probably the most egregious. Trump's pressure offensive against officials at the state level to try and change the results of the election was a grave attack on democracy. But Willis can focus only on what happened in Georgia, one piece of the bigger whole.
How plausible is conviction? Experts differ. This is a huge case for a local prosecutor, even in a county as large as Fulton, to bring. The grand jury's foreperson said in an interview that there will be no big surprises in who the jury suggested be charged. Willis has the advantage of the recording of the Raffensperger call, which is close to a smoking gun.
Department of Justice: January 6
Special Counsel Smith is overseeing the federal probes related to Trump's attempt to subvert the 2020 election and overturn the results, as well as the insurrection on January 6, 2021.
When? No one knows. As with the other DOJ case, Smith needs to move quickly, before Trump or any other Republican president could shut down a case upon taking office in January 2025.
How grave is the allegation? This is the most important Trump case out there. You can't get much graver than attempting to subvert the American election system and inciting an attack on Congress, and the Justice Department has the potential to address the whole sordid episode.
How plausible is conviction? It's very hard to say. Everyone saw the attack, but we don't know what crimes Smith might charge, or what legal theories he might use—the House January 6 committee, for example, made a nonbinding recommendation to apply a seldom-used charge of aiding insurrection—or whether he would even charge Trump or instead opt to prosecute lower-level officials.
While it may seem daunting, there are still many things we can do individually to slow climate change
Insurers face a "crisis of confidence" as global warming makes weather events unpredictable and increases damage
Three major publishers have removed several authors' names from five papers, most published a decade ago, following correspondence from an attorney representing one of the individuals.
Three of the papers appeared in PLOS ONE in 2013, one appeared in Springer Nature's Tumor Biology the same year, and one appeared in Elsevier's Obesity Research & Clinical Practice in 2014. As we reported in 2016, the journals retracted the articles because one of the authors – Lishan Wang – had forged the rest of his co-authors' names and manipulated the peer review process.
Years later, Yongyong Shi, a distinguished professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Bio-X Institutes and one of the authors whose name Wang forged, hired a lawyer named Joseph Lewin, a solicitor with Dorsey & Whitney (Europe) LLP. Lewin, in turn, requested that the three publishers remove Shi's name from the original papers.
Elsevier appears to have done that in September 2021. Springer Nature complied in March 2022. And PLOS did so in June 2022.
The move is "extremely rare," Renee Hoch, managing editor of the PLOS Publication Ethics Team, told Retraction Watch. "Over a period of several years, I recall fewer than 5 cases at PLOS." Hoch continued:
It is not uncommon for us to receive such requests from authors, but in accordance with the COPE Retraction Guidelines we almost always decline these requests and preserve the original published record of the research, including the article's authorship and contributions. We hold authors to the contributor information they provided prior to publication, and we recognize that requests to remove authors following a retraction decision may be motivated by competing interests involving anticipated impacts of a retraction on the requestor's professional standing.
However, we have had a couple of cases in which there was very strong evidence to support claims that an individual did not contribute to the published work and was included on an author list without their knowledge or consent. In these cases, we concluded that the individual in question was not truly an author of the article in question and we amended the published record accordingly.
Asked about any involvement from Shi's attorney, Hoch said: "We cannot provide any details about this case beyond what was published in the retraction notices."
A spokesperson for Springer Nature confirmed that Shi was removed as an author in March 2022, but said that "due to legal reasons, I'm afraid we cannot share any further information." An Elsevier spokesperson would not confirm when Shi and the others were removed as authors, saying only: "We are bound by confidentiality on this retraction, so the only official statement is the retraction notice itself."
We learned of the authorship changes on Dec. 20, 2022, when Lewin emailed us a letter demanding we remove Shi's name from the five relevant entries in the Retraction Watch Database.
Lewin's letter, which we interpreted as a legal threat, also demanded we respond within 10 business days. (Note that the letter arrived by email just a few business days before the traditional Christmas holiday.)
"In the event that the confirmation requested above is not received within that time limit, our client will need to take the appropriate legal next steps," Lewin concluded, citing various statutes.
He told us this week that he was "sorry" we found the letter threatening, adding: "We do not agree with that characterisation."
This was the first we had heard from Shi, or anyone representing him, since our post in 2016. We told Lewin that to make any changes to the database we would need to learn more about what had happened in the intervening years that prompted three major publishers to take an unusual step. We also informed him that for the sake of transparency – and because it is an interesting story about retractions – we would publish a post on Retraction Watch about the development.
Lewin did not agree, writing that "we do not understand that there would be any need to update previous coverage or to quote from any confidential correspondence." He added: "If Retraction Watch believes it would be helpful to make a post, then we would require that the wording of such a post to be agreed in advance with our client to avoid any further damage being caused."
Retraction Watch readers will not be surprised that we did not find that suggestion acceptable.
After more than two months of back and forth, we asked Lewin for his client's responses to these questions:
- Please tell us, in your own words, how you came to be listed as an author on the original paper.
- Please forward any reports of the "institutional investigation, conducted by the Administration Office of Bio-X Institutes at Shanghai Jiao Tong University," referred to by several of the retraction notices.
- Please indicate what steps, including legal threats to journals and/or publishers, that you took to have your name removed as an author of the five papers to which your attorney's Dec. 20, 2022 letter refers.
- Please forward any correspondence you and/or your attorneys have had with PLOS, Elsevier, and Springer Nature regarding these five papers.
- Please indicate when your name was removed from the original papers.
- We did not hear from you from 2017 until the letter from your attorney in December 2022, years after these entries were added to the database. Can you explain the delay?
Lewin reiterated – more gently this time – that he did not agree with our publishing a new post about this case:
We again repeat our client's request that Retraction Watch reconsider whether it really wishes to publish an article in relation to our client. He understandably wants nothing to do with these articles and does not want his name linked with them any further.
He did not respond directly to the first question, writing only that
It is our understanding that Retraction Watch, which has published on this matter already, is aware that our client had no involvement in these articles, and that his name was falsely added to them without his knowledge.
Given these circumstances, there is nothing surprising or unexpected about the fact that publishers would agree to remove an attribution of authorship in an article to an individual whom they know was not an author.
As we and PLOS's Hoch noted, publishers ceding to such requests is unusual.
Despite the reports of the investigations having been shared with the three publishers, Lewin declined to share them with us, claiming that "the contents of the investigations, requested at bullet point two, are set out clearly in the retraction notes and letter statements by the publishers."
We pointed out that all that was included in those retraction notices and letters – more on those later – were descriptions of what the report said, not "the contents of the investigations." We and others have long recommended that universities make public in the interests of transparency and improvement.
Lewin also declined to share any of his letters to the three publishers, providing only one letter each from Elsevier and Springer Nature to him that he said "set out what had happened and explain why the publishers agreed to remove Professor Shi's name." He said "no equivalent letter exists in respect of the PLOS article." As a condition of seeing those letters, we agreed not to publish them, but Lewin said we could "refer to, paraphrase or quote from them in a limited fashion."
The letter from Elsevier, dated Sept. 22, 2021, says that "the attribution was incorrect," based on the publisher's investigation and the university report, and that they had removed Shi as an author of the original article and published a retraction notice. That presumably refers to an updated retraction notice – confusingly labeled as an "erratum":
The Publisher would like to bring to your notice that certain individuals who were listed as authors of the paper "Association between peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, UCP3 and lipoprotein lipase gene polymorphisms and obesity in Chinese adolescents " have informed the journal that this occurred without consent or knowledge of the submission. In addition the email address provided with the paper was not the correct email address. Please note that these authors previously identified by the submitting author as co-authors in the original publication of the paper were not the authors of this manuscript.
Elsevier also asks Shi to "Please accept our apologies that this occurred."
The letter from Springer Nature, dated March 3, 2022, is similar, but does not include an apology.
Given that we consider publishers to be the entities that determine who an author is, and that they have removed Shi and others' names from the original papers, we have done the same for the seven relevant entries – five retractions, and two corrections to relevant papers – in our database. (Note that Elsevier has done so inconsistently; Shi's name is removed from the original article and a related erratum, but the publisher removed author Jianhua Chen only from the erratum. All other author names remain the same on both Elsevier pages.)
We of course still have questions about what happened between 2016 and 2022. When we asked Lewin for the second time to respond to our final question, about why we did not hear from his client for more than six years until receiving what we perceived as a legal threat from his solicitor, Lewin responded:
Our client does not propose to respond further. For the sake of clarity, you will note that the answers to your first and last questions are already set out in the letter that we sent to you in December 2022.
As readers will see, they are not.
Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that's not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at email@example.com.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET on March 23, 2023.
It's been more than a month since a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. More than 100,000 gallons of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, were released, with some spilling into waterways. Many hundreds of people had to evacuate from their homes. An estimated 43,000 aquatic animals died. When emergency responders burned the cars containing vinyl chloride in an attempt to avoid an explosion, the fire likely created long-lasting toxic chemicals called dioxins. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of now-toxic water used to put out the fire had to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of deep underground. And if dioxins were created, they could trickle into the ground over time, contaminating the water in a community where people rely heavily on wells. Last week, Ohio sued Norfolk Southern for what the state's attorney general called "glaring negligence."
In East Palestine, small failures cascaded into catastrophe because of railway deregulation that began four decades ago. Preventing the worst accidents requires layers of intervention, but in the U.S., those layers have been steadily peeled back. Indeed, the same risk factors that led to the mess in East Palestine also led to a deadly derailment nearly a decade ago, and could easily lead to another tragedy.
In 2013, an oil train run by an American railway derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Canada, releasing 1.5 million gallons of crude oil, some of which ignited almost immediately. The ensuing fires and explosions destroyed dozens of buildings and vehicles. They also killed 47 people, some of whom were found with their shirts melted into their flesh. Twenty-seven children were left without parents.
The trouble began one night in early July. Tom Harding, a locomotive engineer for Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, eased his train onto a stretch of track in the nearby town of Nantes, Quebec, about 20 miles from the border with Maine. The train, loaded with more than 7 million gallons of crude oil, had already made its way about 1,700 miles from New Town, North Dakota. As Bruce Campbell wrote in his book about the derailment, The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster: Public Betrayal, Justice Denied, Harding had just picked up the load earlier that morning, after being called in with three hours' notice on what was supposed to be his day off.
Upon arriving in Nantes, just before 11 p.m., Harding set the brakes on a slanted stretch of track (as he had done several times before), left the locomotive running (as was protocol), and took a cab to his hotel. Not long after, someone noticed smoke billowing from the engine and called 911. Firefighters cut off the engine's fuel source to douse the flames, which turned off the engine, which then, for reasons related to both company directives and technical subtleties best left to rail engineers, caused the brakes to slowly fail. This all might have been fine had the train been resting on flat ground, but it wasn't. Around 1 a.m., all 72 cars began rolling toward Lac-Mégantic, a town of about 6,000 people several miles away. The train reached 65 miles an hour before going off the rails near Lac-Mégantic's downtown.
[Read: The mystery of Amtrak 188]
The official report for the Lac-Mégantic derailment states that no single factor led to the derailment, and strictly speaking, this is true. But it is easy to follow how each failure—the single crew member, the angled parking job, the braking that a report would later determine was insufficient—was propelled by railroad companies' demand for speed, efficiency, and profit.
Campbell told me that the locomotive that caught fire had been repaired before—poorly. He also said that Harding had parked the train on a hill because, at nearly a mile long, it would have blocked other tracks if it had stopped anywhere else. (Railroad companies have pushed for longer trains—up to three miles long—to cut fuel and staff costs, but those trains are harder to stop and have more cargo to spill.) Harding didn't properly set and test the train's brakes; doing so is time-consuming, and Harding had "been warned by this company, 'Don't set so many hand brakes,'" Campbell said.
After the fire, Harding wanted to make sure the train was stable, but rail traffic control told him he couldn't: It would have extended his working hours, barring him from driving a different train in the morning. And because railways had successfully lobbied for a rule change allowing trains to be run by only one person, Harding had no fellow crew members who could go look.
Had the train been parked in a flat area, had the brakes been properly set, or had more than one person been available to check on it, such a large disaster would have been far less likely. But none of that happened, because none of it was required. Starting in the late 1970s and '80s, the U.S. and Canada massively deregulated the railroad industry. They shrank oversight budgets and "outsourced a lot of safety work and obligations to the companies," Campbell said. "Transport regulators became just an auditor. It was kind of a paper exercise—there were fewer people out in the field" making sure railroads were following the rules.
According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, even when the agency found evidence of wrongdoing by the railways, criminal penalties were not often pursued, and regulatory penalties had "little deterrent effect." Meanwhile, the cargo was becoming riskier: The shale boom of the mid-aughts led to more oil being transported by rail. At its peak in 2014, rail moved roughly 10 percent of domestic oil.
[Read: The great crude-oil fireball test]
Lac-Mégantic temporarily shocked both governments into action. In Canada, a rule allowing for one-person crews on high-hazard trains was overturned. In the U.S., the Obama administration passed a rule requiring certain trains to use electronic braking systems. (They make catastrophic derailments less likely than the more commonly used air brakes, which were first developed in the 1800s.) But railway operators complained that the new brakes were too expensive, and the Trump administration overturned the rule. Even if the rule had been in force, it would not have made a difference in the East Palestine derailment: It only applied to high-hazard trains, and the quantity of vinyl chloride on the train was is not considered high-hazard by the agency tasked with oversight.
Unlike its northern neighbor, the United States has no formal rules on how many crew members should be on board a train, even after Lac-Mégantic. The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed requiring a minimum of two-person crews, but that hasn't yet passed. Railways have long argued that such rules are unnecessary because a new technology called a positive train control system means that most trains need only one crew member. But the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on the East Palestine derailment said that even though the system was "enabled and operating at the time of the derailment," the train's two workers did not get much warning before the train derailed.
[Read: The case for positive train control]
Nor did they appear to notice that at least one car was on fire for miles before the derailment, according to Tudor Farcas, an associate with a law firm that has filed suit on behalf of some East Palestine–area residents. One of his firm's clients lives about 20 miles from East Palestine, "but the train passes in front of her front door," Farcas told me. Her Ring doorbell captured footage of the train on fire.
Dangerous train derailments like this one are known as low-frequency, high-impact events. From 2010 to 2022, roughly 1,200 to 1,700 trains derailed in the U.S. each year, according to data from the Department of Transportation. (A few weeks after East Palestine, another Norfolk Southern train went off the rails in Ohio.) Only a small subset of these accidents resulted in cars carrying hazardous materials being damaged—but, as East Palestine and Lac-Mégantic have shown, when things go wrong, they can go really wrong.
[Read: The hollow responses to East Palestine]
One of the most striking things about both derailments is how small Lac-Mégantic and East Palestine are: Each community has less than 10,000 people. The trains that caused each crisis had traversed more populated areas before they derailed; in the case of East Palestine, the train passed through Cleveland. It makes one wonder what horrors might have occurred if the trains had derailed in those larger communities instead—and what the U.S. is willing to do to prevent future catastrophes.
Elon Musk has been promising that
's Full Self-Driving would be coming "next year" for the better part of the past decade — but as it turns out, he may be the reason it hasn't come to fruition.
As the Washington Post reports, Musk apparently decided a few years back to do away with in-car radar sensors in an effort to make his electric vehicles cheaper, and did so against the warnings and wishes of Tesla's engineers, who were reportedly shocked at the suggestion, per former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.
One of those former employees said that some of the engineers were so concerned by Musk's push to remove the sensors, which are an important safety feature that exist in most other self-driving vehicles, that they recruited a former executive to try to get him to change his mind.
You can imagine how well that went, and the proof is pretty public: in May 2021, Musk announced that going forward, all
manufactured in North America would be made without radar technology, and the company later began disabling the radar systems in cars and replacing them with "Tesla Vision," its camera-only form of driver's assistance.
According to almost a dozen people, including people who used to be Tesla employees and test drivers, as well as some safety officials and experts, this decision from the top that was supposed to save on manufacturing costs has resulted in an uptick in the kind of crashes that the Musk-owned EV company has become infamous for.
Removing the sensors from Teslas wasn't just a bad idea for safety, either: the camera system that replaced it has also become such a buggy headache that Musk has often had company engineers go in and fix glitches — and that was before he took even more of those smart folks to go write code at Twitter because he fired all the original data people.
Taking off the sensors was "not the sole reason they're having [trouble], but it's big a part of it," Missy Cummings, a former senior National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety adviser, told the Post. "The radar helped detect objects in the forward field."
While no automaker has yet achieved robust and reliable self-driving technology yet, their removal at Tesla seems to have hamstrung the company — or rather, Musk's stubbornness has.
More on Tesla: Tesla Driver Freaked Out After App Allows Him to Drive Off With the Wrong Car
The post Elon Musk Apparently Made a Stupid Engineering Decision That's Kneecapped Tesla's Self-Driving Promises appeared first on Futurism.
Space Race, Religion, And Creed
For Earthbound Muslims, the beginning of Ramadan this week marks a period of fasting from sunrise until sunset — but for Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, who will be aboard the International Space Station for another five months, it's a somewhat different question.
As CNN reports, Alneyadi — who will see the sun rise and set a whopping 16 times per day — reasons that his journey off world means he can lean into an exemption in which Muslims who are traveling during Ramadan are allowed to not fast.
"We can actually break fast," the Emirati told reporters during a January press conference. "It's not compulsory."
He added that "fasting is not compulsory if you're feeling not well."
"So in that regard — anything that can jeopardize the mission or maybe put the crew member at risk — we're actually allowed to eat sufficient food to prevent any escalation of lack of food or nutrition or hydration," Alneyadi said.
Ghost Of Ramadan Past
Though he's one of only a handful of Muslims to go to space, the Emirati astronaut's Ramadan situation is not a first on the ISS — that distinction goes to Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a Malaysian astronaut who got special exemptions from his country's Islamic council to either postpone his fast until he returned back to Earth and from having to kneel while praying, which for obvious reasons would be difficult in microgravity.
As for Alneyadi, the answer to his questions is, like many matters of faith, open-ended.
"We'll wait and see how it goes," the Emirati astronaut told reporters back in January.
More on the space plays: NSYNC's Lance Bass Was Training to Be a Cosmonaut When He Heard Something Fascinating
The post During Ramadan, Muslims Fast From Sunrise to Sunset. A Muslim Astronaut Will Experience 16 Per Day. appeared first on Futurism.
Nature Communications, Published online: 23 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36786-5A superconducting diode effect was recently reported in Nb/V/Ta superlattices, but the mechanism is not yet clear. Here, the authors study non-reciprocal critical current in Al/InAs nanowires and propose a generic extrinsic mechanism involving field-generated diamagnetic currents, which may explain the earlier Nb/V/Ta results.
Mismatches in conceptual definitions of basic things—even animals—help explain why people end up talking past each other so often, according to new research.
Is a dog more similar to a chicken or an eagle? Is a penguin noisy? Is a whale friendly?
Psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley say these absurd-sounding questions might help us better understand what's at the heart of some of society's most vexing arguments.
The research in the journal Open Mind shows that our concepts about and associations with even the most basic words vary widely. At the same time, people tend to significantly overestimate how many others hold the same conceptual beliefs—the mental groupings we create as shortcuts for understanding similar objects, words, or events.
It's a mismatch that researchers say gets at the heart of the most heated debates, from the courtroom to the dinner table.
"The results offer an explanation for why people talk past each other," says Celeste Kidd, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the study's principal investigator.
Simple questions like, "What do you mean?" can go a long way in preventing a dispute from going off the rails, Kidd says. In other words, she says, "Just hash it out."
Disagreements about word meanings aren't new. From interpretations of the Constitution to definitions about what a fact is, semantic disputes have long been at the center of legal, philosophical, and linguistic thinking. Cognitive psychologists have likewise studied these differences in how people perceive and describe the world. The accumulation of our lived experiences affects how we conceptualize the world and helps explain why two people approach problems in different ways—or even agree if something is a problem in the first place.
But measuring just how much those concepts vary is a long-standing mystery.
To help understand it a bit better, Kidd's team recruited more than 2,700 participants for a two-phase project. Participants in the first phase were divided in half and asked to make similarity judgements about whether one animal—a finch, for example—was more similar to one of two other animals, like a whale or a penguin. The other half were asked to make similarity judgments about US politicians, including George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. The researchers chose those two categories because people are more likely to view common animals similarly; they'd have more shared concepts. Politicians, on the other hand, might generate more variability, since people have distinct political beliefs.
But they found significant variability in how people conceptualized even basic animals.
Take penguins. The probability that two people selected at random will share the same concept about penguins is around 12%, Kidd says. That's because people are disagreeing about whether penguins are heavy, presumably because they haven't lifted a penguin.
"If people's concepts are totally aligned, then all of those similarity judgments should be the same," Kidd says. "If there's variability in those judgments, that tells us that there's something compositionally that's different."
The researchers also asked participants to guess what percentage of people would agree with their individual responses. Participants tended to believe—often incorrectly—that roughly two-thirds of the population would agree with them. In some examples, participants believed they were in the majority, even when essentially nobody else agreed with them.
It's a finding befitting of a society of people convinced they're right, when they're actually wrong.
Overall, two people picked at random during the study timeframe of 2019-2021 were just as likely to have agreed as disagreed with their answers. And, perhaps unsurprisingly in a polarized society, political words were far less likely to have a single meaning—there was more disagreement—than animal words.
"People are not aware of that misalignment," Kidd says. "People generally overestimate the degree to which other people will share the same concept as them when they're speaking."
An exception? People were generally on the same page when it came to the word "eagle."
In a second phase of the project, participants listed 10 single-word adjectives to describe the animals and the politicians. Participants then rated the animals' and politicians' features—"Is a finch smart?" was an example of a question they were asked.
Again, researchers found that people differed radically in how they defined basic concepts, like about animals. Most agreed that seals are not feathered, but are slippery. However, they disagreed about whether seals are graceful. And while most people were in agreement that Trump is not humble and is rich, there was significant disagreement about whether he is interesting.
This research is significant, Kidd says, because it further shows how most people we meet will not have the exact same concept of ostensibly clear-cut things, like animals. Their concepts might actually be radically different from each other. The research transcends semantic arguments, too. It could help track how public perceptions of major public policies evolve over time and whether there's more alignment in concepts or less.
"When people are disagreeing, it may not always be about what they think it is," Kidd says. "It could be stemming from something as simple as their concepts not being aligned."
Source: Jason Pohl for UC Berkeley
The post Mismatched definitions of basic stuff may explain disagreements appeared first on Futurity.
Some eager marine biologists thought they'd made a highly unusual discovery: an elusive goblin shark, spotted for the first time in the Mediterranean Sea. But those claims now seem to be swimming with the fishes. Why? Because their rare specimen could be no more than a prankster's plastic figurine.
The researchers' paper on the discovery, published last summer in the journal Mediterranean Marine Science, has incited some amusingly heated — and somewhat uncharacteristic — infighting in the scientific community. Some of the beefing has even spread to social media, with scientists and bemused onlookers alike all tweeting out their hot takes. Even better, the original authors doubled down with a — perhaps ill-advised — rebuttal paper.
"The fact that they had a rebuttal is what really, really got me hooked," Vicky Vásquez, a deep sea shark expert at the Pacific Shark Research Center, told The Daily Beast. Vásquez opined that the specimen "looks like a very common toy."
The drama deepened when, following the one-two punch of Gizmodo's reporting and then the Beast's story being published, the paper appears to have been retracted.
Only a recovered goblin shark specimen would warrant this much controversy. As bizarre as they are mysterious, goblin sharks frequently lurk at some of the darkest depths of the ocean and are rarely spotted by humans.
They look about as terrifying as you'd expect a deep sea monster to be, at over eight feet long, endowed with a swordlike snout, and brandishing a gnarly, extendable jaw straight out of a horror movie.
This alleged specimen, though, would appear to be a far cry from a creature known to haunt both the depths of the ocean and the nightmares of thalassophobes.
To say that there's been some red flags raised from the findings would be an understatement.
For one, the scientists didn't actually physically recover the specimen. Instead, they were working off of a single photo, taken by a citizen scientist who claimed to have stumbled on the shark's corpse washed up on the beach of a Greek island.
"After reading the article in detail, I had doubts about the record," Jürgen Pollerspöck, a shark expert who recently co-authored a comment published in the same journal responding to the dodgy paper, told the Beast.
As Pollerspöck observed, the suspect specimen only had four gill slits rather than the expected five. Its snout, meant to be stiff, was found sagging. And those nasty extendable jaws? Well, they're normally retracted and are only extended while hunting, contrary to popular belief.
If the specimen were real, it'd be by far the smallest ever found. According to the researcher's estimates — despite the photograph featuring no scale for size — it was no more than seven or eight inches long. Sounding like a toy to you?
And capping it all off, it looks a lot like a specific plastic shark toy you can buy. All told, it's not hard to see why experts are skeptical — or why the original authors ended up retracting the paper.
"Fishing in the Mediterranean has a long tradition," Pollerspöck added. "It would be a surprise if such a large animal had remained undiscovered until today."
More on sharks: Scientists Stumble Upon Huge Graveyard of Sharks, Deep Under Ocean
The post Scientists May Have Gotten Duped Into Thinking Collectible Figurine Was Ultra-Rare Shark appeared first on Futurism.
Nature Communications, Published online: 23 March 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37274-6The authors used multi-disciplinary approaches to understand the structural mechanism underlying spontaneous aggregation of tau encoding an S320F FTD-tau mutant. Understanding the mechanisms of tau aggregation will help identify novel methods to regulate its misfolding.
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Welcome to my first post exploring the connections between artificial intelligence and quantum mechanics and their potential implications for developing a Grand Unified Field Theory. As we continue to make progress in the field of AI, it's becoming increasingly apparent that these intelligent machines have the potential to offer unique insights into the fundamental principles that govern our universe. Through a thought experiment and utilizing AI program algorithm frameworks, I've uncovered intriguing connections between recent findings in quantum mechanics and their potential contributions to the quest for a unified framework. In this series of posts, I'll be delving into these connections and exploring their broader implications for our understanding of the universe. Join me on this journey of discovery as we navigate the intersections of AI and quantum mechanics, and uncover new insights into the nature of reality.