What is the feasibility of survival on another planet and being self-sustaining? […] I show here that a mathematical model can be used to determine the minimum number of settlers and the way of life for survival on another planet, using Mars as the example. […] The minimum number of settlers has been calculated and the result is 110 individuals. [Nature]
A plan to turn the atmosphere into one, enormous sensor — It will watch for storms, earthquakes, volcanos—and missile launches
“The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits” the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions
…a girl with different-colored eyes and ambiguous genitals who appeared at a Seattle genetics clinic. Her ovaries proved to have only XX chromosomes—typical female—but her other tissues were mixtures of XX and XY. Further analysis showed that she had started out as opposite-sex twins. But early in development, the two embryos had fused, becoming a single, highly unusual child. Like a verse from the old Ray Stevens novelty song “I’m My Own Grandpa,” this girl was her own twin brother. In pregnant women, fetal stem cells can cross the placenta to enter the mother’s bloodstream, where they may persist for years. If Mom gets pregnant again, the stem cells of her firstborn, still circulating in her blood, can cross the placenta in the other direction, commingling with those of the younger sibling. Heredity can thus flow “upstream,” from child to parent—and then over and down to future siblings. Forget the notion that your genome is just the DNA in your chromosomes. We have another genome, small but vital, in our cells’ mitochondria—the tiny powerhouses that supply energy to the cell. Though the mitochondrial genes are few, damage to them can lead to disorders of the brain, muscles, internal organs, sensory systems, and more. At fertilization, an embryo receives both chromosomes and mitochondria from the egg, and only chromosomes from the sperm. Mitochondrial heredity thus flows strictly through the maternal line; every boy is an evolutionary dead end, as far as mitochondria are concerned. [The Atlantic]
Researchers have discovered that, contrary to longstanding assumptions, the Y chromosome is not limited to a handful of masculine tasks, like specifying male body parts in a developing embryo or replenishing the sperm supply in an adult man. New evidence indicates that the Y chromosome participates in an array of essential, general-interest tasks in men, like stanching cancerous growth, keeping arteries clear and blocking the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain. As a sizable percentage of men age, their blood and other body cells begin to spontaneously jettison copies of the Y chromosome, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. That unfortunate act of chromosomal decluttering appears to put the men at a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia and other disorders. [NY Times]
The “Pet Effect” is the idea that getting a pet will make you healthier and happier. This idea is highly promoted by the marketing departments of industry giants like Zoetis, the world’s largest veterinary products corporation. […] while some studies have found evidence linking pets and human health, most published research has not.
Is there a growing class divide in happiness? Among U.S. adults ages 30 and over in the nationally representative General Social Survey (N = 44,198), the positive correlation between socioeconomic status (SES; including income, education, and occupational prestige) and happiness grew steadily stronger between the 1970s and 2010s. […] the happiness advantage favoring high-SES adults has expanded over the decades
In this essay, I show how difficult emotions, like aggression and murderous rage, are grappled with in horror movies. I discuss three patients who related to intense rage at the mother when viewing the films Joker and Jurassic Park.
The perception of facial attractiveness is not automatic (capacity-free) in general. Men show an automatic (capacity-free) processing of females’ facial attractiveness but not of males’ facial attractiveness. Women show no automatic (capacity-free) processing of males’ or females’ facial attractiveness.
meal-time photographers were more likely to eat in response to external cues (e.g. the sight of palatable food) than to internal cues of hunger. However, when participants were randomly assigned to take either food or non-food photographs within a lab setting (Study 2), we found no evidence that the type of photography influenced either the amount or enjoyment of food eaten.
The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby. […] Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially-distant settings. […] Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses may need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors. [NY Times]
To fully restart the U.S. economy by August, massive population testing for infections with the virus that causes COVID-19 is essential […] test 2 to 6% of the population per day, or between 5 and 20 million people per day […] The authors of the report estimate that this scheme for testing, tracing, and supported isolation (TTSI) would cost between $50 to $300 billion over two years. As they note this is extremely cheap compared to “the economic cost of continued collective quarantine of $100 to 350 billion a month.”
studies have suggested that many people who’ve never been infected with SARS-CoV-2, but who have semi-recently recovered from a common-cold coronavirus, may boast partial immunity to COVID-19. […] Chinese researchers monitored antibody levels in 74 COVID-19 patients — one half symptomatic, the other asymptomatic — for months after their recoveries. The scientists found that more than 90 percent of these patients displayed sharp drop-offs in antibody levels two-to-three months after their initial infections. […] The dominant strain of coronavirus in the U.S. may be more contagious than the initial variety. […] study found that the newer coronavirus strain has about five times more functional and intact spike proteins in each of its particles than its predecessor did. [NY mag]
Pool testing combines samples from several people and tests them for the coronavirus all at once, cutting down on the time and supplies required. […] “If everyone is negative, then you’re done” […] If the test detected the presence of the virus, then each person would have to be tested and the results individually analyzed to determine whose sample produced the positive result. […] How many samples are pooled? Researchers have generally suggested quantities between three and 50. The bigger the pool, the more likely a positive case with a low viral load will be too diluted to trigger detection of the virus. [Washington Post]
Norway, Denmark and Finland have closed their borders to Swedes, fearing that they would bring new coronavirus infections with them. […] In several countries, like the Netherlands and Cyprus, they are banned completely. Austria demands a health certificate. Greece makes Swedes quarantine for at least a week, even if they test negative for the coronavirus […] only France, Italy, Spain and Croatia are welcoming Swedes without restrictions.[SF Gate]
This upgraded robotic dolphin is being developed and tested for a series of attractions at a new Chinese aquarium where the government has put a stop to the wildlife trade as part of its efforts to slow and eventually stop the spread of Covid-19.
What if a single injection could lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides — for a lifetime? In the first gene-editing experiment of its kind, scientists have disabled two genes in monkeys that raise the risk for heart disease. Humans carry the genes as well, and the experiment has raised hopes that a leading killer may one day be tamed. [NY Times]
The UK government’s plan to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in a satellite broadband company has been described as “nonsensical” by experts, who say the company doesn’t even make the right type of satellite the country needs after Brexit. […] “The fundamental starting point is, yes, we’ve bought the wrong satellites […] What’s happened is that the very talented lobbyists at OneWeb have convinced the government that we can completely redesign some of the satellites to piggyback a navigation payload on it.”
New Hong Kong legislation puts foreign citizens who criticize the Chinese government anywhere in the world at risk of jail if they even set foot in the city — even if they are just transiting through the airport.
Luckin Coffee was supposed to disrupt China’s coffee market. But a Wall Street Journal investigation has found that the company used fake coffee orders, fake supply orders and even a fake employee to fabricate nearly half its sales last year.
Facebook collects most of its advertising revenue from the millions of small and medium-sized companies that depend on its effective, targeted ads. Its top 100 advertisers contributed less than 20 percent of revenue in the first quarter of last year. […] In 2017 and 2019, Verizon, Walmart, Pepsi, Disney, Nestlé and others objected to the undesirable videos that ran adjacent to some of their ads. Once YouTube established more restrictive content rules to placate the advertisers, the advertisers came back, leaving the division “bigger and stronger, rather than weaker, as a business.” You can expect a rerun of the YouTube episode for Facebook.
The white iPhone with chipped paint that Moroccan journalist Omar Radi used to stay in contact with his sources also allowed his government to spy on him. They could read every email, text and website visited; listen to every phone call and watch every video conference; download calendar entries, monitor GPS coordinates, and even turn on the camera and microphone to see and hear where the phone was at any moment. Yet Radi was trained in encryption and cyber security. He hadn’t clicked on any suspicious links and didn’t have any missed calls on WhatsApp — both well-documented ways a cell phone can be hacked. Instead, a report published Monday by Amnesty International shows Radi was targeted by a new and frighteningly stealthy technique. All he had to do was visit one website. Any website. Radi’s phone shows that it was infected by “network injection,” a fully automated method where an attacker intercepts a cellular signal when it makes a request to visit a website. In milliseconds, the web browser is diverted to a malicious site and spyware code is downloaded that allows remote access to everything on the phone. [The Star]
All it took to compromise a smartphone was a single phone call over WhatsApp. The user didn’t even have to pick up the phone. [WIRED]
the group purchased alien abduction insurance that would cover up to fifty members and would pay out $1 million per person (the policy covered abduction, impregnation, or death by aliens). More: We came from the Level Above Human in distant space and we have now exited the bodies that we were wearing for our earthly task
In 2015, a phone video of young muscular White British men hitting each other with a chair went viral. Why make a game about this meme now? + Robert Yang makes surprisingly popular games about gay culture and intimacy