Volume 20, Number 17 - 11/01/17 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • Researchers have identified a molecular pathway that can speed up or retard aging in mice.
  • Federal regulators have approved the first mobile app to help treat substance abuse.
  • Dubai plans to add quadcopter-style hoverbikes to its police fleet.
  • A new study from the Pew Research Center has divided everyone across the political spectrum into eight groups, along with a ninth group of politically disengaged “Bystanders”.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

“Law of One” Scribe to Describe Fundamentals of Global Shift Process

Would you like to know what is actually happening behind the global shift that we are experiencing? Just what are the fundamental dynamics driving this epic transition on this planet from one era to another? When we talk about humanity transitioning from one era to another one – that will result in the emergence of a new world – what exactly does that mean?

Fortunately, we have a way of knowing.

More than 25 years ago, three metaphysical pioneers established a working relationship with a non-human group that called itself RA, who, over 108 sessions, answered the most probing questions of the trio’s questioner (a PhD physicist), about how this reality works and what is happening to our species in this transition to a new era. You may of heard of the Law of One group and RA through David Wilcock, who mentions it regularly. Or perhaps you read the five Law Of One books.

The experience of that small group of three was rather extraordinary. For almost three years, they had access to a source that provided rather amazing – obviously generally unknown—information about the origins of life on this planet, the development of humanity, and an explanation of what was happening to humanity through this process some that call ascension or awakening. RA said that this was the latest of a series of historical events, where those who were prepared for the emerging new world were transformed such that they became the group that was the core that designed and inhabited the new world.

This is really big stuff. Big ideas about the most essential nature of the present human experience.

Well, we’re excited to have Jim McCarty, the scribe of the original group of three who captured all of the communications of RA, coming to Berkeley Springs for our next Transition Talk. Jim is obviously intimately familiar with all of the transmissions of RA, and will give us a comprehensive picture of the whole process of the transition that is happening on earth at this time (at least from the perspective of one source that seemed to understand what was afoot!).

I don’t have to tell you that having a sense of the big picture could be extraordinarily helpful in navigating the coming months and years as we transit from here to the emerging new world. This will be an unusual opportunity to more clearly understand the path ahead. I hope you’ll join us for this special session.

You can find more about this extraordinary event at transitiontalks.org, but, in any case, I hope you can join us in Berkeley Springs on Saturday, the 18th of November, to hear Jim McCarty and have an opportunity to ask him questions about how the future evolves for us all.

I look forward to seeing you on the 18th.

JLP




THINK LINKS



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Saudi Arabia Becomes First Country to Grant Citizenship to a Robot – (Arab News – October 26, 2017)
A humanoid robot recently took the stage at the Future Investment Initiative and had an amusing exchange with the host to the delight of hundreds of delegates. Smartphones were held aloft as Sophia, a robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, gave a presentation that demonstrated her capacity for human expression. Sophia made global headlines when she was granted Saudi citizenship, making the kingdom the first country in the world to offer its citizenship to a robot. “I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” she said in an exchange with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin. Asked whether robots can be self-aware, conscious and know they're robots, she said: “Well let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human?” “I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future. I will do my best to make the world a better place,” she said. “I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” Sophia said. (Editor’s note: The “Citizens United” decision gave corporations legal personhood in 2010. If robots are eligible for citizenship, shouldn’t they have personhood too? And, if so, shouldn’t my (future) autonomous car, which is essentially a robot, also have personhood – and citizenship – and voting rights? Clearly my car needs to start by finding a name for herself and getting a social security number.)

Melding Tech, Humans – (Times Live – October 15, 2017)
Artificially intelligent nano-machines will be injected into humans within 20 years to repair and enhance muscles, cells and bone, a senior inventor has forecast. John McNamara, who works at IBM Hursley Innovation Centre in Hampshire, UK, submitted evidence to the House of Lords artificial intelligence committee, which is considering the economic, ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence. He said within two decades, technology may have advanced to such a level that humans and machines are effectively "melded" together, allowing for huge leaps forward in human consciousness and cognition. McNamara predicted "political avatars", which will scour all available data from news sites and government debates to provide people with a recommendation on who to vote for and why, based on their world view. (Editor’s note: And presumably, those same bots will have shaped, if not created, your world view.)



NEW REALITIES

One of the Sun's Most Perplexing Mysteries May Finally Be Solved – (Science Alert – October 14, 2017)
It takes a little over 8 minutes for sunlight to journey across the chasm of space to Earth, but it took scientists less than 7 to help solve one of the Sun's most paradoxical riddles. A sounding rocket flight launched in 2014 only had that short window to measure X-rays on the Sun before falling back to Earth, but the readings it took could explain the star's most unintuitive quirk: why the surface of the Sun isn't as hot as the atmosphere above it. This discrepancy is not a small thing. The visible surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, isn't exactly cool at around 5,500 degrees Celsius (or 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit) – but its outer atmosphere, or corona, gets hundreds of times hotter, up to several million kelvins. One possible explanation for the corona's intense heat is nanoflares: small solar explosions produced by the Sun that release energy and plasma into the corona, propping up its insanely hot temperatures. This idea was first proposed back in the 1960s, and while it's been studied since, it's been difficult to detect these faint micro-explosions, which are thought to ripple across the photosphere thousands of times every second. Now, thanks to a new study led by Shin-nosuke Ishikawa from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, we've secured our best glimpse of the phenomena yet.

Peer Pressure Forced Whales and Dolphins to Evolve Big Brains, Like Humans – (Quartz – October 17, 2017)
The human brain has evolved and expanded over millennia to accommodate our ever-more-complex needs and those of our societies. This process is known as “encephalization” and has given us the big brain we need to communicate, cooperate, reach consensus, empathize, and socialize. The same is true for cetaceans, like whales and dolphins, it seems. These sea creatures also grew big brains in order to better live in societies, according to a study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. According to Michael Muthukrishna, an economic psychologist at the London School of Economics and co-author of the study, the researchers used two related theories, the Social-Brain Hypothesis and the Cultural-Brain Hypothesis, to make predictions about various relationships between brain size, societal organization, and the breadth of behaviors the cetaceans would display. Then they tested these predictions by creating and evaluating a comprehensive database of cetacean brain size, social structures, and cultural behaviors across species using data from prior studies on 90 types of whales and dolphins. The study found that cetaceans had complex alliances and communications, played and worked together for mutual benefit, and could even work with other species, like humans. Some also have individual signifiers, sounds that set them apart from others, and can mimic the sounds of others. In addition, it found that brain size predicted the breadth of social and cultural behaviors of these marine creatures (though ecological factors, like prey diversity and latitudinal range, also played a role). The researchers concluded there was a tie between cetacean encephalization, social structure, and group size.





GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Researchers Find Link Between Hair Dye and Breast Cancer – (The Australian – October 15, 2017)
Professor Kefah Mokbel, a breast cancer surgeon at the Princess Grace Hospital in central London, reviewed studies of whether women who dyed their hair had a greater risk of breast cancer. He found a 14% rise. His study concluded: “Although further work is required to confirm our results, our findings suggest that exposure to hair dyes may contribute to breast cancer risk.” Professor Mokbel suggests women dye their hair less often and switch to products with natural ingredients. Research in Finland also found women who used hair dye were more likely to develop breast cancer. But Sanna Heikkinen, of the Finnish Cancer Registry, said it had not been proven that dye was causing the increase. “We did observe a statistical association between hair dye and risk of breast cancer. However, it is not possible to confirm a true causal connection. It might be, for example, that women who use hair dye also use other cosmetics more than women who reported never using hair dye,” she said.

Scientists Identify New Molecular Pathway that Controls Aging – (Sci News – October 16, 2017)
A team of researchers led by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has discovered a conserved molecular pathway that controls lifespan and healthspan in mice and nematode worms Caenorhabditis elegans, a common model organism in biological research. “We find that by artificially increasing or decreasing the levels of a family of proteins called Kruppel-like transcription factors (KLFs), we can actually get C. elegans to live for longer or shorter time periods,” said study first author Dr. Nelson Hsieh, from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Since this same family of proteins also exists in mammals, what is really exciting is that our data suggests KLFs also have similar effects on aging in mammals, too.” In addition, mice with excess levels of these proteins demonstrated a delay in blood vessel dysfunction associated with aging. Upon further investigation, the team discovered that KLF proteins work by controlling autophagy — a recycling process cells use to clear debris, like misfolded proteins or normal molecular byproducts that build up in old age. Loss of this quality control mechanism is a hallmark of aging. “As cells age, their ability to perform these functions declines,” the researchers said. “This likely leads to an unsustainable accumulation of toxic protein aggregates, which ultimately present an obstacle to cellular survival. Worms without KLF proteins cannot maintain autophagy and die early.”

99% of Microbes in Your Body Are Completely Unknown to Science – (New Atlas – August 23, 2017)
Whenever you feel lonely, just remember: you're always carrying several hundred trillion friends with you. A dizzying number of microbes call the human body home, and it turns out that science knows very little about most of them. In fact, a new Stanford survey of the foreign DNA fragments circulating in the human body has found that 99% of microbes inside us are completely unknown to science. The discovery was initially made by accident, as a team investigated less invasive ways to predict whether a patient's body would reject a transplanted organ. Rather than the wholly unpleasant experience of having a tissue biopsy taken, the researchers were studying whether a simple blood sample would suffice. Essentially, the idea was that if they found fragments of the organ donor's DNA circulating in a patient's blood, it was a good indication that the body was rejecting the transplant. Along with the patient's DNA and potentially that of the organ donor, the technique gives an insight into that person's microbiome – the trillions of bacteria, viruses and other microbes that live throughout the body. Of all the non-human DNA floating around in there, the team found that a staggering 99% didn't match anything in existing genetic databases. The team then set about categorizing that pile of unknown DNA, and found that most of it belonged to a general group known as proteobacteria, which counts E. coli and Salmonella among its ranks, along with many, many others. On the virus side of things, the team found a huge amount of previously unknown members of the torque teno family, including an entirely new group that doesn't quite fit current descriptions.

Women Have More Active Brains Than Men - (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease – August 7, 2017)
In the largest functional brain imaging study to date, the Amen Clinics (Newport Beach, CA) compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women. Lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics, Inc., commented, “This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences. The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The study findings of increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern. The study also found increased blood flow in limbic areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders. Understanding these differences is important because brain disorders affect men and women differently. Women have significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression (which is itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease), and anxiety disorders, while men have higher rates of ADHD, conduct-related problems, and incarceration (by 1,400%).

Skin Patch Dissolves “Love Handles” in Mice – (Columbia Univ. – September 15, 2017)
Humans have two types of fat. White fat stores excess energy in large triglyceride droplets. Brown fat has smaller droplets and a high number of mitochondria that burn fat to produce heat. Newborns have a relative abundance of brown fat, which protects against exposure to cold temperatures. But by adulthood, most brown fat is lost. For years, researchers have been searching for therapies that can transform an adult’s white fat into brown fat—a process named browning—which can happen naturally when the body is exposed to cold temperatures—as a treatment for obesity and diabetes. “There are several clinically available drugs that promote browning, but all must be given as pills or injections,” said study co-leader Li Qiang, PhD, assistant professor of pathology & cell biology at Columbia. “This exposes the whole body to the drugs, which can lead to side effects such as stomach upset, weight gain, and bone fractures. Our skin patch appears to alleviate these complications by delivering most drugs directly to fat tissue.” To apply the treatment, the drugs are first encased in nanoparticles, each roughly 250 nanometers (nm) in diameter—too small to be seen by the naked eye. (In comparison, a human hair is about 100,000 nm wide.) The nanoparticles are then loaded into a centimeter-square skin patch containing dozens of microscopic needles. When applied to skin, the needles painlessly pierce the skin and gradually release the drug from nanoparticles into underlying tissue. “Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles,” says Dr. Qiang. “What’s much more important is that our patch may provide a safe and effective means of treating obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes.” The patch has not been tested in humans. The researchers are currently studying which drugs, or combination of drugs, work best to promote localized browning and increase overall metabolism.

The FDA Just Approved the First App for Treating Substance Abuse – (CNBC – September 14, 2017)
Federal regulators have approved the first mobile app to help treat substance use disorders. The app, developed by a start-up called Pear Therapeutics, is designed to be prescribed by clinician and used alongside counseling. Pear's technology digitizes a form of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which focuses on "examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Studies have found that CBT is an effective treatment for substance use disorders, and recent research suggests that it can be administered online via a desktop or mobile app. Abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs more than $740 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Drug-related deaths have tripled since 2000, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Pear Therapeutics is part of a burgeoning category of health start-ups known as digital therapeutics. The idea is that software can improve a person's health, without the same cost and side effects of medical treatment. "This is the moment for digital therapeutics," said Corey McCann, the founder and CEO of Pear Therapeutics. In some cases, these apps are designed to replace drug therapies. Others aim to augment them by improving the likelihood that patients will take their meds. Currently, digital therapeutics are being developed to help treat insomnia, opioid dependence, chronic disease and more.




ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Insects Are in Serious Trouble – (Atlantic – October 19, 2017)
Since 1989, scientists from the Entomological Society Krefeld had been collecting insects in the nature reserves and protected areas of western Germany. By analyzing the Krefeld data—1,503 traps, and 27 years of work—Caspar Hallmann, from Radboud University and his colleagues have shown that most of the flying insects in this part of Germany are flying no more. Between 1989 and 2016, the average weight of insects that were caught between May and October fell by an astonishing 77%. Over the same period, the weight of insects caught in the height of summer, when these creatures should be at their buzziest, fell by 82%. There have long been signs of such a decline. Studies have also shown that populations of European butterflies have halved since 1990, honeybee colonies have fallen by 59% in North American since World War II, and populations of British moths have dropped by 30% per decade. Insects are the lynchpins of many ecosystems. Around 60 percent of birds rely on them for food. Around 80% of wild plants depend on them for pollination. If they disappear, ecosystems everywhere will collapse. But also, insects are the most diverse and numerous group of animals on the planet. If they’re in trouble, we’re all in trouble. Pollutants and pesticides are likely to be a problem. The German team couldn’t find any evidence that the two usual suspects—habitat loss and climate change—were important culprits. The declines were similar in every kind of habitat, whether healthy grasslands or nutrient-poor wastelands. And although weather patterns in the region could explain the numbers of insects across a season, they couldn’t account for the year-on-year decline. But neither line of evidence is clear-cut.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Hackers Could Take Down the Internet with Million-Device Botnet Worse Than Mirai – (Newsweek – October 20, 2017)
Security researchers at the cybersecurity firm Check Point published details of the new botnet, warning that it continues to recruit devices at a “far greater pace” than the dangerous Mirai botnet that was used in devastating cyberattacks last year. “So far we estimate over a million organizations have already been affected worldwide, including the U.S., Australia and everywhere in between, and the number is only increasing,” a blogpost on Check Point’s website states. “Our research suggests we are now experiencing the calm before an even more powerful storm. The next cyber hurricane is about to come.” Botnets make use of security vulnerabilities in web-connected devices such as smart fridges, thermostats and webcams in order to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks (overloading targets with web traffic) against companies, organizations or critical infrastructure. In 2016, the Mirai botnet was used in attacks on Russian banks, as well as against dozens of major websites, such as Netflix, Reddit and Twitter. The botnet was also blamed for knocking the entire country of Liberia offline in November. The latest campaign shares similar technical aspects to Mirai but is far more dangerous as it is able to “evolve” in order to exploit vulnerabilities in devices connected to the so-called 'Internet of Things' and then using the devices to spread the malware to other devices. “This is an entirely new and more sophisticated campaign that is rapidly spreading worldwide,” said a spokesperson for Check Point.

The Coming Software Apocalypse – (Atlantic – September 26, 2017)
It’s been said that software is “eating the world.” More and more, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code. This was perhaps never clearer than in the summer of 2015, when on a single day, United Airlines grounded its fleet because of a problem with its departure-management system; trading was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange after an upgrade; the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s website crashed; and Seattle’s 911 system went down again, this time because a different router failed. The simultaneous failure of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyberattack. Almost more frightening was the realization, late in the day, that it was just a coincidence. Our standard framework for thinking about engineering failures—reflected, for instance, in regulations for medical devices—was developed shortly after World War II, before the advent of software, for electromechanical systems. The idea was that you make something reliable by making its parts reliable (say, you build your engine to withstand 40,000 takeoff-and-landing cycles) and by planning for the breakdown of those parts (you have two engines). But software doesn’t break. The reason it fails is that it is told to do the wrong thing. Software failures are failures of understanding, and of imagination. The attempts now underway to change how we make software all seem to start with the same premise: Code is too hard to think about. Before trying to understand the attempts themselves, then, it’s worth understanding why this might be: what it is about code that makes it so foreign to the mind, and so unlike anything that came before it. This article lays out the groundwork for that understanding. (Editor’s note: This article is long and complex, particularly if you are not a software geek, but you don’t have to follow every single detail to understand the concepts; just keep reading and you’ll get there.)

IBM Scientists Say Radical New ‘In-memory’ Computing Architecture Will Speed up Computers by 200 Times – (Kurzweil AI – October 25, 2017)
IBM Research has announced that its scientists have developed the first “in-memory computing” or “computational memory” computer system architecture, which is expected to yield 200x improvements in computer speed and energy efficiency — enabling ultra-dense, low-power, massively parallel computing systems. Their concept is to use one device (such as phase change memory or PCM*) for both storing and processing information. That design would replace the conventional “von Neumann” computer architecture, used in standard desktop computers, laptops, and cellphones, which splits computation and memory into two different devices. That requires moving data back and forth between memory and the computing unit, making them slower and less energy-efficient. The researchers believe this new prototype technology will enable ultra-dense, low-power, and massively parallel computing systems that are especially useful for AI applications. “Memory has so far been viewed as a place where we merely store information, said Abu Sebastian, PhD. exploratory memory and cognitive technologies scientist, IBM Research and lead author of the paper. But in this work, we conclusively show how we can exploit the physics of these memory devices to also perform a rather high-level computational primitive. The result of the computation is also stored in the memory devices, and in this sense the concept is loosely inspired by how the brain computes.”



SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

DIY Dome Homes Built from AirCrete Are an Affordable & Ecofriendly Option – (TreeHugger – October 6, 2017)
First there was foamcrete, then there was papercrete and hempcrete, and now we've got AirCrete, a foamy mixture of air bubbles and cement that is cheap to make, waterproof, fireproof, and DIY-friendly. DomeGaia's AirCrete homes, which are the brainchild of Hajjar Gibran (who happens to be the great-nephew of the poet Kahlil Gibran), are made with a foamy mixture of cement and air bubbles, which create a lightweight and low-cost building block that is fireproof, waterproof, and serves to insulate the building. According to its creator, AirCrete offers a number of desirable attributes for use as a building material for single-storey residences, especially for the owner-builder, among them the ability to cut construction costs "by a factor of 10" when compared with conventional construction. "It is waterproof, fireproof, and insect proof. It offers good thermal and acoustic insulation. It will not rot, warp, or corrode. Unlike concrete which is hard, heavy, cold and difficult to work with, AirCrete is easy to work with. It dries overnight and can be cut, carved, drilled and shaped with wood-working tools. It accepts nails and screws and is easily repaired. It had good compressive strength to make excellent foundations, subfloors, building blocks, poured walls, domes or whatever. It can be molded or formed into practically any shape." – DomeGaia. The key to AirCrete is in the foaming agent, which works to suspend tiny air bubbles in the cement mixture, and a small piece of equipment, a continuous foam generator, which disperses a mix of the foaming agent (which can be as simple as an all-natural "high foaming" dish detergent) into the cement mixture to be mixed together. (Editor’s note: This looks like a promising building material – for places that don’t have extremely demanding building codes.)

This $14 Million Atlanta Home with Bunker Is ‘Safest in America’ – (Bloomberg – October 20, 2017)
The cream-colored, colonnaded facade of the Rice House, situated on 3.5 acres just outside Atlanta, hides far more than a private theater, bowling alley, and infinity swimming pool. The master and guest bedrooms have ballistic doors that can withstand fire from an AK-47 assault rifle. The car vault is large enough to hold 30 vehicles and has an entrance designed to be concealed by a waterfall. Secret doors lead to a 15,000-square-foot bunker in which an embattled owner could conceivably hole up for years, with off-grid power and water drawn from three artesian wells drilled 1,000 feet into the ground. The house had its own security architect who spent two decades designing secure buildings for the U.S. Department of Justice. “This is a home where you could put a $20 million painting on the wall and sleep comfortably at night,” said listing broker Paul Wegener, of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty. “The same goes for your family.” The entrepreneur who owns the Rice House spent six years and some $30 million to build his 36,000-square-foot fortress of an estate. It was just relisted for $14.7 million, a drop from the original $17.5 million. The estate also needs to be finished, which Wegener estimates would cost an additional $3 million to $5 million. (Editor’s note: Think of it this way: it’s on sale at half price.)



TRANSPORTATION

Dubai Police to Fly Multirotor Hoverbikes: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – (New Atlas – October 15, 2017)
Dubai plans to add quadcopter-style hoverbikes to its police fleet. The police hoverbike was announced at GITEX, the biggest technology expo in the gulf region. Under electric power, it can fly a pilot at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) with a programmed maximum height of 5 meters (16 ft). It'll also fly unmanned with a top speed closer to 100 km/h. Range is in the 20-25 minute area, with recharge times around 3 hours – but batteries are swappable to keep these things in the air if necessary. Let's make no bones about this; this is 100% a publicity stunt, and probably quite a dangerous one. The hoverbikes in question are a Russian design that we've covered before, the Hoversurf Scorpion 3. Suffice to say, at the time, we recommended the Scorpion mainly for "aspiring amputees" due to the close proximity between spinning blades and fleshy legs, but that's far from the biggest safety issue here. There's a big difference between being risk-taking aviation pioneers like the Hoversurf team, and deploying a barely-stable early prototype into uncontrolled, public, urban airspace.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

CRISPR Bacon: Chinese Scientists Create Genetically Modified Low-Fat Pigs – (NPR – October 23, 2017)
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Chinese scientists report that they have created 12 healthy pigs with about 24 percent less body fat than normal pigs. The scientists created low-fat pigs in the hopes of providing pig farmers with animals that would be less expensive to raise and would suffer less in cold weather. The animals have less body fat because they have a gene that allows them to regulate their body temperatures better by burning fat. That could save farmers millions of dollars in heating and feeding costs, as well as prevent millions of piglets from suffering and dying in cold weather. "They could maintain their body temperature much better, which means that they could survive better in the cold weather," Zhao said in an interview. "This is a paper that is technologically quite important," says R. Michael Roberts, a professor in the department of animal sciences at the University of Missouri, who edited the paper for the scientific journal. "It demonstrates a way that you can improve the welfare of animals at the same as also improving the product from those animals — the meat." But Roberts doubts the Food and Drug Administration would approve a genetically modified pig for sale in the United States. He's also skeptical that Americans would eat GMO pig meat. (Editor’s note: If Americans could have lower-fat bacon and skip the guilt, we might go for it.)

How a Free Grocery Store Is Cutting Food Waste—and Hunger – (Yes Magazine – September 12, 2017)
The Free Store is a nonprofit organization that redistributes surplus food from local businesses in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, to those in need. It was inspired by a two-week art project in 2010 where artist Kim Paton filled a shop with surplus food items from bakeries and supermarkets. Anyone visiting the shop could take what they wanted free of charge. “I heard that some of the food in the shop was from cafés,” says Benjamin Johnson, 28, co-founder and director of The Free Store. “It was food left over at the end of the day that was still in a good state. Imagine if there’s more food from cafés and restaurants in the city that is good to eat but is just being thrown away. We could do something about that.” Food waste is a costly issue. Each year, Kiwis throw away 872 million New Zealand dollars ($625 million) worth of food—that’s over 120,000 tons of food per year. However, this is only a fraction of the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted annually around the world. It’s also a small percentage compared to the 88 million tons of food wasted in Europe or the 66.5 million tons of food wasted in the U.S. Yet there are families going hungry all around the country. According to UNICEF, 28% of New Zealand children—about 295,000—live in poverty. The Free Store currently has 65 suppliers around the city center—cafés, restaurants, bakeries, and catering companies donating food they are unable to sell by the end of the day. The local Neo Café & Eatery has been donating scones, muffins, and other unsold baked items to the store for more than three years. Before partnering with The Free Store, the café either gave its leftover food to staff members or threw it in the trash. Johnson says that they are redistributing an estimated 800 to 1,500 food items each weeknight, averaging about 250,000 food items a year. He estimates that’s worth a retail value of $1.45 million New Zealand dollars ($1.04 million U.S.). These food items are handed out from 6 to 7 p.m. every weeknight to around 100 people from diverse backgrounds, including the homeless, unemployed, those with long-term health issues, immigrant and refugee families, students, and individuals recently released from prison. Johnson explains, “There are no criteria. Anybody can come for whatever reason and take whatever they want.” The Free Store has now spread to other regions within New Zealand. There are four stores across the country—all set in motion by the local communities themselves, adapting The Free Store model in their own ways.




SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Weather Modification as US Military Strategy? – (Global Research News – September 9, 2017)
Environmental modification techniques have been applied by the US military for more than half a century. US mathematician John von Neumann, in liaison with the US Department of Defense, started his research on weather modification in the late 1940s at the height of the Cold War and foresaw ‘forms of climatic warfare as yet unimagined’. During the Vietnam war, cloud-seeding techniques were used, starting in 1967 under Project Popeye, the objective of which was to prolong the monsoon season and block enemy supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.The US military has developed advanced capabilities that enable it selectively to alter weather patterns. The technology, which was initially developed in the 1990s under the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), was an appendage of the Strategic Defense Initiative – ‘Star Wars’. From a military standpoint, HAARP –which was officially abolished in 2014– is a weapon of mass destruction, operating from the outer atmosphere and capable of destabilising agricultural and ecological systems around the world. Officially, the HAARP program has been closed down at its location in Alaska. The technology of weather modification shrouded in secrecy, nonetheless prevails. Weather-modification, according to the US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report, “offers the war fighter a wide range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary”, capabilities, it says, extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes: ‘Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog and storms on earth or to modify space weather… and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of [military] technologies.”




TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

The GOP Civil War Is Bigger Than Trump. A New Study Shows Deep Fissures on Policy. – (Washington Post – October 26, 2017)
You may wish to skip the first part of this article. Where it gets important is: The Pew Research Center has released a fascinating 152-page report on the nation’s political typology. Based on in-depth interviews with more than 5,000 American adults, the nonpartisan group divided everyone across the political spectrum into eight groups, along with a ninth group of politically disengaged “Bystanders.” (That is a giant sample, and the methodology is airtight.) Pew’s typology studies, which it has conducted since the 1980s, are expensive to conduct, so the last one came out in 2014. That’s only three years, but it feels like a generation ago: before Donald. The report highlights fissures under the Republican big tent on a host of issues. In many cases, the dividing lines are not necessarily new. But several of the areas which Republicans are most torn about have moved to the front burner because of Trump’s disruptive campaign and presidency, from trade to immigration and America’s role in the world. Check out those Republican typologies: New Era Enterprisers, Market Skeptic Republicans, Country First Conservatives, and Core Conservatives. (Editor’s note: The condensed results of the Pew study are practically a must-read. Article provides a link to the complete study.)

A Short History of American Empire – (Dissent – Fall, 2017)
This article is a review of The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire by Stephen Kinzer recently published by Henry Holt and Co. Toward the end of his history of the domestic conflict over U.S. overseas expansion at the close of the nineteenth century, Stephen Kinzer notes that the winners permanently changed our political lexicon. “Imperialists” became openhearted, visionary “globalists” and “internationalists.” Anti-imperialists became crabby, reactionary “isolationists.” As applied to the United States, the words “empire” and “imperialism” virtually disappeared. This muddling of the language has made it easier for Americans to misunderstand just what it is that we are doing out there in the world. Thus, in late 2013, at a time when Barack Obama’s foreign policy was widely criticized in the United States as too “soft,” a Gallup poll of around 65,000 people in sixty-five countries showed that the United States was considered the greatest threat to world peace (Pakistan was a distant second). What word better than “empire” describes America’s role among nations? We have at least 800 acknowledged military installations around the world, the most extensive imperium in history. In 2016, U.S. Special Operations forces—commandos, Navy Seals, Green Berets—were deployed in 138 countries. In many foreign capitals, the most important figure is the U.S. ambassador. We are the globe’s biggest military spenders by far, and sell as many weapons of war as the rest of the world’s arms traffickers combined. True, we haven’t won a war against a substantial military foe since 1945. But once established, empires do not have to definitively win the wars on their periphery. Rather, the central task is to demonstrate their willingness and capacity to inflict murderous punishment on those who rebel. Since 2001, we have attacked fourteen different countries. Imperialism’s default foreign policy is limited, but endless, war. As Madeleine Albright put it: “What’s the point of having this superb military … if we can’t use it?”



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

First Evidence That Online Dating Is Changing the Nature of Society – (Technology Review – October 10, 2017)
Today, more than one-third of marriages start online. Clearly, dating websites have had a huge impact on dating behavior. But now the first evidence is emerging that their effect is much more profound. In the language of network theory, dating partners were embedded in each other’s networks. Indeed, this has long been reflected in surveys of the way people meet their partners: through mutual friends, in bars, at work, in educational institutions, at church, through their families, and so on. Online dating has changed that. “People who meet online tend to be complete strangers,” say researchers Ortega and Hergovich. And when people meet in this way, it sets up social links that were previously nonexistent. “It is intriguing that shortly after the introduction of the first dating websites in 1995, like Match.com, the percentage of new marriages created by interracial couples increased rapidly,” say the researchers. The increase became steeper in the 2000s, when online dating became even more popular. Then, in 2014, the proportion of interracial marriages jumped again. “It is interesting that this increase occurs shortly after the creation of Tinder, considered the most popular online dating app,” they say. Tinder has some 50 million users and produces more than 12 million matches a day. This data doesn’t prove that online dating caused the rise in interracial marriages. But it is consistent with the hypothesis that it does.

How a 19th-Century Whaleship Can Save the 'White Working Class' – (Truth Dig – October 18, 2017)
The title of this article is somewhat misleading; more accurately titled, it would read “The Lessons of a 19th Century Whaleship for the 'White Working Class'. This essay examines the story of the Essex—an inspiration for Herman Melville’s famous novel Moby-Dick and a maritime tragedy as mythic in the 19th century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the next one. On Nov. 20, 1820, the Essex, a whaling ship from the Quaker island of Nantucket, Mass., was rammed by a giant white sperm whale in the remote depths of the South Pacific Ocean. The ship sank within two days, leaving 20 survivors in three leaky whaleboats. The survivors were more than 1,200 miles from the nearest islands (the Marquesas), and without adequate supplies of food and freshwater. The points that can be drawn from the event are surprisingly relevant to us now. This article is worthy of your time.

The Death Treatment – (New Yorker – June 22, 2015)
Belgian law allows euthanasia for patients who suffer from severe and incurable distress, including psychological disorders. When should people with a non-terminal illness be helped to die? Much of this article recounts the story of Godelieva De Troyer, who taught anatomy to nurses and had been in psychotherapy since she was nineteen. “I am confronted almost daily with the consequences of my childhood,” she wrote at one point in a letter to her mother. In the summer of 2011, when she was sixty-three, Godelieva met a new doctor. She attended a lecture by Wim Distelmans, an oncologist and a professor of palliative medicine at the Free University of Brussels. Distelmans was one of the leading proponents of a 2002 law in Belgium that permits euthanasia for patients who have an incurable illness that causes them unbearable physical or mental suffering. Since then, he has euthanized more than a hundred patients. In September, 2011, Godelieva saw Distelmans at his clinic. Four months later, she sent an e-mail to her (adult) children: “I have filed a euthanasia request with Prof. Distelmans based on psychological distress. I have gone through the entire procedure and am now waiting for the result.” Her children were busy with their own lives and didn’t respond. On April 20, 2012, three months after Godelieva sent the email, her son received a short letter from his mother that was written in the past tense. She reported that her euthanasia had been carried out on April 19th, at the university hospital of the Free University of Brussels. “I donated my body to science,” she wrote. On the back of the letter, she’d left the phone number of a friend who had the keys to her house. The rest of this article explores some of the effects of this act when family members are not consulted about a parent’s requested euthanasia.

In These Countries, Most Residents Think Religion Does More Harm Than Good – (MarketWatch – October 16, 2017)
Researchers with global market researcher Ipsos asked 17,401 adults aged 16-64, across 23 countries, whether they agree with the statement: “Religion does more harm in the world than good.” A majority of residents from countries including Belgium, Germany, Spain, Australia, Sweden and Great Britain agreed with that statement. Overall, 49% of respondents to the survey said they agreed that religion does more harm than good in the world, while 51% disagreed. And the country LEAST likely to say that religion does more harm than good? Japan. However, people in Japan are also least likely to agree with the statement that “religious people make better citizens,” and are also least likely to agree with the statement “my religion defines me as a person.” Article includes full breakdown of results by country.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

NASA Suspects a Ninth Planet Could be in Our Solar System's Outer Edge – (Outer Places – October 14, 2017)
It's been suggested by some astronomers that a large, undiscovered planet could be orbiting at the far end of our solar system, subtly throwing off other planets' orbits without otherwise being detected. This hypothetical ninth planet is thought to be much, much bigger than any dwarf planet, and would be several times the size of Earth based on the calculations which point to its existence. Earlier this month, NASA finally lent some credibility to this idea in a press release explaining how a ninth planet is currently the best explanation for several odd phenomena in the solar system. These phenomena range from odd behavior among far out objects, to several planets' orbital planes being non-level with the sun's equator (suggesting an object further out in space might be pulling at them). This "Planet Nine" would have to be big and far away to explain some of these phenomena, and current simulations of its orbit place it at around 10 times the size of earth, and 20 times as far away from the sun as Neptune. Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California, explains: "There are now five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet Nine. If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them."

A Spacecraft Graveyard Exists in the Middle of the Ocean – (Business Insider – October 22, 2017)
The most remote location on Earth has many names: It's called Point Nemo (Latin for "no one") and the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility. The spot is about 1,450 nautical miles from any spot of land — and the perfect place to dump dead or dying spacecraft, which is why its home to what NASA calls its "spacecraft cemetery." "It's in the Pacific Ocean and is pretty much the farthest place from any human civilization you can find," NASA said. Bill Ailor, an aerospace engineer and atmospheric reentry specialist, put it another way: "It's a great place you can put things down without hitting anything," he said. To "bury" something in the cemetery, space agencies have to time a crash over that spot. Smaller satellites don't generally end up at Point Nemo, since, "the heat from the friction of the air burns up the satellite as it falls toward Earth at thousands of miles per hour. Ta-da! No more satellite." But Tiangong-1: the first Chinese space station, which launched in September 2011, weighs about 8.5 tons. China lost control of the 34-foot-long orbital laboratory in March 2016, and it is now doomed to crash by early 2018. Where, exactly? No one yet knows. Ailor, who works for the nonprofit Aerospace Corporation, said his company likely won't generate a forecast until five days before the space station is expected to break apart in Earth's atmosphere. When it does, hundreds of pounds of the spacecraft — like titanium scaffolding and glass-fiber-wrapped fuel tanks — could be falling at more than 180 miles per hour before slamming into the ground. Getting old spacecraft out of orbit is a key to preventing the formation of space junk, and many space agencies and corporations now build spacecraft with systems to de-orbit them (and land them in the spacecraft cemetery). But Ailor and others are pushing for the development of new technologies and methods that can lasso, bag, tug, and otherwise remove the old, uncontrolled stuff that's already up there and continues to pose a threat.

It Looks Like We Were Wrong About a Basic Property of Mars – (Gizmodo – September 14, 2017)
Scientists previously assumed, well, Mars is a big rocky planet, so it’s probably kind of dense. But after a few calculations, one team of researchers in the United States made a new model of just how dense Mars’ crust is, with the hope that it could elucidate the makeup of the planet’s rocky surface. Turns out, it’s lighter than they assumed. How light? The researchers estimated a density of around 2580 kilograms per meter cubed, or 2.58 grams per cubic centimeter. That’s even lighter than the Earth’s continental crust at 2.7 grams per cubic center. According to the paper published recently in Geophysical Review Letters, “characterization of the crustal structure thus provides important constraints on a planet’s formation and subsequent evolution. The average bulk density of the crust is a fundamental parameter in geophysical studies, for example, in determining the planet’s crustal thickness, the mechanisms of its topographic support, and its thermochemical evolution.” In other words, the density of Mars’ crust can help shed light on how its surface formed, how it has changed over time, and why Mars looks the way it does today. The researchers also created density maps of the planet; it turns out that the crust’s density has wide variations and is probably denser deeper down or around volcanoes. The density is also related to the thickness of Mars’ crust, explained Tanya Harrison, Martian scientist and Director of Research for the Space Technology and Science Initiative at Arizona State University.

STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

Over 30,000 Published Studies Could Be Wrong Due to Contaminated Cells – (Science Alert – October 16, 2017)
Researchers warn that large parts of biomedical science could be invalid due to a cascading history of flawed data in a systemic failure going back decades. A new investigation reveals more than 30,000 published scientific studies could be compromised by their use of misidentified cell lines, owing to so-called immortal cells contaminating other research cultures in the lab. (The article explains what “immortal cells” are and why this matters.) The problem is as serious as it is simple: researchers studying lung cancer publish a new paper, only it turns out the tissue they were actually using in the lab were liver cells. Or what they thought were human cells were mice cells, or vice versa, or something else entirely. It means the findings of each piece of affected research may be flawed, and could even be completely unreliable. Serge Horbach from Radboud University in the Netherlands, one of the researchers, explains, "It's an honest mistake. The more concerning problem is that the research data is potentially invalid and impossible to reproduce." Horback and fellow researcher Willem Halffman wanted to know how extensive the phenomenon of misidentified cell lines really was, so they searched for evidence of what they call "contaminated" scientific literature. Using the research database Web of Science, they looked for scientific articles based on any of the known misidentified cell lines as listed by the International Cell Line Authentication Committee's (ICLAC) Register of Misidentified Cell Lines. There are currently 451 cell lines on this list – having been contaminated by other kinds of cells at some point in scientific history. Worse still, they've been unwittingly used in published laboratory research going as far back as the 1950s. "After an extensive literary study, we believe this involves some 33,000 publications," Halffman explains.

Poor Diet Is a Factor in One in Five Deaths, Global Disease Study Reveals – (Guardian – September 14, 2017)
Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the subject. Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease. The study, based at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington, compiles data from every country in the world and makes informed estimates where there are gaps. Five papers on life expectancy and the causes and risk factors of death and ill health have been published by the Lancet medical journal. Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking. Other high risks are high blood glucose which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of obesity, and high total cholesterol. All of these can be related to eating the wrong foods, although there are also other causes. The problem is often seen as the spread of western diets, taking over from traditional foods in the developing world. But it is not that simple, says Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME’s director. “Take fruit. It has lots of health benefits but only very wealthy people eat a lot of fruit, with some exceptions.” Sugary drinks are harmful to health but eating a lot of red meat, the study finds, is not as big a risk to health as failing to eat whole grains. “We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection,” he said.




NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Robots Made From DNA Could One Day Transport Medicine inside Your Body – (Gizmodo – September 14, 2017)
A CalTech research team headed by Anupama Thubagere and Lulu Qian has built robots from DNA, and programmed them to bring individual molecules to a designated location. Eventually, this technology could be used to transport molecules of many types throughout the body—which could potentially transform everything from drug delivery to how the body fights infections to how microscopic measurements are made. There are currently three emerging fields within DNA nanoscience, the science of creating molecular-sized devices out of DNA: The self-assembly of nanostructures from DNA strands, molecular computation and data storage, and DNA robotics, which is the focus of this study. The central premise of DNA nanoscience is that, rather than creating molecular devices or systems from scratch, we can leverage the power of nature, which has already figured much of this out. If and when we finally master molecular machinery, we’ll be able to build microscopic-sized robots with programmable functions and send them to places that are otherwise impossible to reach, such as a cell or a hard-to-reach cancerous tumor. In prior experiments, DNA robots demonstrated their ability to perform simple tasks, but this latest effort ramped up the level of complexity considerably, while also opening a path towards the development of general-purpose DNA robots. “It is the first time that DNA robots were programmed to perform a cargo‐sorting task, but more important than the task itself, we showed how this seemingly complex task—and potentially many other tasks—that DNA robots can be programmed to do uses very simple and modular building blocks,” explained Qian. “This is also the first example showing multiple DNA robots collectively performing the same task.” For the new study, the researchers designed a group of DNA robots that could collectively perform a predetermined task that had them walk along a test platform, locate a molecular cargo, and deliver it to a specific location. The bots were able to do this autonomously. Each robot, built from a single-stranded DNA molecule of just 53 nucleotides, was equipped with “legs” for walking and “arms” for picking up objects. The bots measured 20 nanometers tall, and their walking strides measured six nanometers long, where one nanometer is a billionth of a meter. For perspective, a human hair measures about 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers in diameter, so the scale we’re talking about here is ridiculously small. In experiments, 80% of cargo molecules were sorted, so there’s room for improvement. Much more work needs to be done to figure this all out, and to test the DNA robots under different environmental conditions if we’re ever going to have these things working in our bodies. This new study offers a viable methodology for scientists to continue pursuing.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

New Report Claims UBI Would Grow the U.S. Economy by $2.5 Trillion – (Futurism – September 1, 2017)
The premise for a universal basic income (UBI) is simple. Every citizen of a country receives a fixed monthly or yearly income from the state. This basic income doesn’t come with any strings attached to it, and every person is eligible for UBI regardless of their employment or social status. In a recently released report, Roosevelt Institute research director Marshall Steinbaum, together with Michalis Nikiforos at Bard College’s Levy Institute and Gennaro Zezza from the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio in Italy, asked an all-important question: How would a UBI policy impact the macroeconomy? Most expect UBI to have a positive impact on extreme poverty, yes, but what will it do to benefit the economy as a whole? Apparently, quite a lot — growing it by trillions of dollars, to be specific. The new study based its forecasts on three basic income scenarios. According to the first of these, if adults are given $1,000 every month, the U.S. economy could grow by 12.56 after an eight-year implementation. With current GDP pegged at $19.8 trillion by the Congressional Budget Office, this translates to a total growth of $2.48 trillion. In the second and third scenarios, a monthly UBI of $500 and $250 could lead to a GDP growth of 6.5% and 0.79%, respectively. It’s also worth noting that the report used an economic model that assumed that growth is constrained due to low household incomes, which the researchers note is debatable. But just how would a government pay for a UBI program? An obvious answer would be through taxes, but according to the Roosevelt report, this set-up would essentially be pointless for the economy: “When paying for the policy by increasing taxes on households rather than paying for the policy with debt, the policy is not expansionary. In effect, it is giving to households with one hand what it is taking away with the other. There is no net effect.” (Editor’s note: There is also the corporate sector that could be taxed – and if the economy grew as much as predicted, there ought to be a great deal of profit with which to pay those taxes.)



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

How the Benzene Tree Polluted the World - (Atlantic - October 4, 2017)
This article is an extremely well researched history of the organic compounds that enabled industrialization and have had unintended, long-lasting consequences for the planet’s life. If you have ever wondered "How did we come to the point where practically everything is carcinogenic?", this article is well worth your time - because this explains, starting with the discovery of the benzene ring in the mid 19th century, exactly how we got there.

What Happens after You Die? The Brain Keeps Working Long Enough for Thoughts to Form – (Newsweek – October 19, 2017)
The current medical definition of death is when the heart stops beating. NYU Langone’s Sam Parnia, a pulmonologist who studies resuscitation, notes that from that point, it takes up to 20 seconds before brain waves are no longer detectable. According to Parnia, this sets off a longer chain of processes that leads to brain death. His research taps into a vast history of efforts to define death and to understand what are commonly called “near-death experiences.” In a 2014 study, physicians interviewed over 100 people who had gone into cardiac arrest and been successfully resuscitated: 39 percent of them described a perception of awareness, even if they couldn’t recount specifics. One woman in a similar, earlier study, described a feeling of floating above her body and watching as the doctor called a “code blue.” These cases blur the line and challenge a definition that might seem clearcut to most people, but continue to be the subject of ongoing debate. The neurosurgeon Haider Warraich lays out the debate in bioethics over whether decapitation, separating a head from its body, automatically equals death. To try and prove their point that a creature could be “alive” without its head, a group of researchers in the 1990s beheaded a pregnant sheep and connected her body to a breathing machine. They delivered the sheep’s baby by C-section. “There is no ambiguity here: the sheep remained alive during the experiment.” the researchers wrote, concluding “decapitated animals are not necessarily dead.” These definitions aren’t chosen in a vacuum. Warraich writes that the decision to draw the line at “brain death” was motivated by the advent of organ transplants. Once organ transplants became possible, doctors needed a clear-cut marker of when a person was “dead enough” to remove their organs. The doctor who performed the first heart transplant in South Africa gave the donor a lethal injection to remove any room for debate.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

The Secret Swiss Mountain Bunker Where Millionaires Stash Their Bitcoins – (Quartz – October 17, 2017)
It’s odd to think of a virtual currency needing physical storage, but just like your most precious photos, even a cryptocurrency needs some kind of material container. A bitcoin vault doesn’t store actual bitcoin units. Technically, what’s being stored are private, cryptographic keys. These keys form a pair with particular, public-facing, keys and provide access to the balance of coins stored on the bitcoin network. Gaining unauthorized access to someone’s private keys is akin to making off with a gold bar. This article is about a vault inside a decommissioned Swiss military bunker dug into a granite mountain where crypto keys are stored. Its precise location is secret, and access is limited by security measures that would put a Bond villain to shame. But for digital assets like bitcoin, thick walls and a secret location are not enough. A shield against invisible modes of attack like an EMP bomb must be provided for. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article just because it is fascinating – don’t miss the photos.)



JUST FOR FUN

Watch Astronauts Flip When They Get to Play with a Fidget Spinner on the Space Station – (GeekWire – October 14, 2017)
With the ubiquitous toy spinning in the foreground, Earth can be seen through a window of the station. NASA astronauts Mark T. Vande Hei, Joseph M. Acaba and Randy Bresnik, along with European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, perform a series of flips, spins and tricks with the spinners — which are normally found between the fingertips of kids back on terra firma. STEM fans take note: Science Technology Engineering and Math are great, but Spinning Toys Equal Magic.



A FINAL QUOTE

8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t salute the flag; 200,000 Amish don’t stand for the national anthem; some Quakers don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance; one black man kneels respectfully during the national anthem and all hell breaks loose. Now you know why he’s kneeling. ~ (source unknown)



A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Frank DeMarco, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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