View this email in your browser.

Volume 21, Number 18 - 9/15/18 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • Scientists have discovered a new cell in human brains: the 'Rosehip Neuron'.
  • Fungi could solve world's plastic crisis.
  • Scientists have developed a new way to turn sunlight into fuel by tweaking photosynthesis.
  • Between pastures and cropland used to produce feed, 41% of U.S. land in the contiguous states revolves around livestock.


PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF CONSCIOUSNESS
October 13-14 in Berkeley Springs



Here’s our e-magazine that has complete information on our TransitionTalks series with articles from past speakers Gregg Braden, Joe Dispenza and Bruce Lipton.


Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Eben Alexander got a brain disease and died.

During the time when he had no indication of physical brain activity he found himself visiting an alternative reality that was so extraordinary . . . that he called it "heaven."

Proof of Heaven
After he was revived, his whole life had changed. He had experienced such a transforming experience that his whole world view–and understanding of how our reality really works--had been fundamentally reorganized.

He wrote the New York Times best-selling book “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife,” describing his experience.

Dr. Alexander and his partner, Karen Newell, will be with us at Berkeley Springs Transition Talks on the 13th and 14th of October.

Get complete details at TransitionTalks.org., along with information on local lodging and restaurants.


New Energy: The Linchpin to Unprecedented Change and the Emergence of a New Era by John Petersen

1 hour and 10-minute presentation by John Petersen on downloadable digital video:

This is a dynamic presentation showing you the path that mankind is on and how a new human being is emerging.

Get the complete details here.










THINK LINKS



NEW DISCOVERIES

Spanish Cave Suggests Neanderthals Had Hot Water and Bedrooms – (Daily Mail – August 18, 2018)
Archaeologists in Spain have made a number of discoveries inside an ancient cave in Catalonia which suggest that Neanderthals had hot water and separate living quarters around 60,000 years ago. The finding adds to the mounting evidence that Neanderthals were a lot more sophisticated than previously thought and were at least as advanced, if not more so, than early Homo sapiens. Among the more significant discoveries was a concave hole measuring 16 inches x 12 inches x 4 inches (40 x 30 x 10cm), which was found enclosed by a large number of hearths with evidence of fire use. Archaeologists believe the Neanderthals used the hole to heat water by placing heated stones from the hearth. Hearths have been discovered in other Neanderthal dwellings and it’s been suggested that they even cooked their food by boiling it in a bag made of skin, or a birch bark tray to soften it – possibly seasoning the meat with herbs. Following a detailed analysis of the cave, archaeologists were also able to determine that Neanderthals used different parts of the cave for different activities, including making tools , butchering meat and preparing food, throwing out rubbish, and sleeping. Gone are the days when Neanderthals were viewed as little more than subhuman brutes and grossly inferior to our own species. Numerous studies over the last decade confirm that their intelligence was at least equal to that of early Homo sapiens. There are, for example, studies which demonstrate Neanderthals created art , used medicinal plants , liked to have a comfortable home ‘base’ , and may have even used some form of language. Recent studies have also shown a compassionate side to Neanderthal life, with evidence of them caring for each other and ensuring the survival of their companions when they suffered from illnesses or injury, or as old age set in. Additional links found here.

200-million Year Old Pterosaur 'Built for Flying' – (PhysOrg– August 13, 2018)
Scientists have unveiled a previously unknown species of giant pterosaur, the first creatures with a backbone to fly under their own power. Neither dino nor bird, pterosaurs—more commonly known as pterodactyls—emerged during the late Triassic period more than 200 million years ago and lorded over primeval skies until a massive space rock slammed into Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and most other forms of life some 65 million years ago. Caelestiventus hanseni—roughly, "heavenly wind"—is probably the most complete skeletal remains of a pterosaur ever found. The newly discovered member of the family, identified through remains found in northeastern Utah, had a wing-span of five feet and 112 teeth, including fang-like spikes sticking out near the snout. A jutting lower jaw suggests a pelican-like pouch, perhaps to scoop up fish and unsuspecting small reptiles. The wings are in fact skin membranes largely held up by the fourth "finger", or digit, of their forelimbs. Huge sockets suggest C. hanseni had "fantastic eyesight", said Brooks Britt, a paleontologist at Brigham Young University in Utah and lead author of a study. When not soaring in search of a meal, it walked on all fours with its wings folded vertically.



GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Scientists Find a Strange New Cell in Human Brains: The 'Rosehip Neuron' – (Live Science – August 27, 2018)
Neuroscientists have discovered a new type of human brain cell, named the "rosehip neuron," thanks to its bushy appearance. The brain cell, with its unique genes, distinctive shape and diverse connections with other neurons, has not been described before and, what's more, it isn't present in neuroscientists' favorite subject: mice. Neurons have long branches called dendrites that receive signals from other neurons. In the rosehip cells, these dendrites are "very compact with lots of branch points, so it kind of looks a little bit like a rosehip," said Trygve Bakken, one of the lead authors of the paper and senior scientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. (Rosehips are a type of fruit produced by rose plants.) The new finding is the result of a collaboration between Bakken and his team and researchers at the University of Szeged in Hungary. Both teams independently identified the distinctive-looking neurons and, when the teams learned they were looking at the same thing, they decided to work together, Bakken said. One reason rosehip neurons eluded neuroscientists for so long is likely because the cells are so rare in the brain. Specifically, the researchers found that the rosehip neurons make up about 10% of the first layer of the neocortex — the most recently evolved part of the cortex that's involved in sight and hearing. They also found that rosehip neurons connect to neurons called pyramidal cells, a type of excitatory neuron that makes up two-thirds of all the neurons in the cortex. The rosehip neurons act as inhibitory neurons, or those that restrain the activity of other neurons. "They have the potential to sort of put the brakes on the excitability" of pyramidal neurons, Bakken said. But as to how this influences the brain's behavior, "we don't really know yet," he added.

You Are Getting Sleepy - Tagged Proteins May Point to Why – (Quanta – August 21, 2018)
Two years ago, scientists in Japan reported the discovery of a mouse that just could not stay awake. This creature, which had a mutation in a gene called Sik3, slept upwards of 30%more than usual: Although it awoke apparently refreshed, it would need to snooze again long before its normal lab mates’ bedtime. It was as if the mouse had a greater need for sleep. Now, after examining the brain chemistry of sleep-deprived mice and the ones with the Sik3 mutation, a second research group at the International Institute of Integrated Sleep Medicine at the University of Tsukuba has identified tantalizing differences in the state of 80 proteins that well-rested, normal mice do not share. That observation, the scientists suggest, may be the key to understanding at the molecular level both why we need sleep and why we feel sleepy. Researchers can describe in generalities many things that happen in sleeping brains. What remains surprisingly murky, however, is what precisely sleep does that’s so important, and how the brain keeps track of how long it’s been awake. Presumably, the mechanism of that internal ledger of sleep need is connected to whatever processes are restored during sleep. The new results hint that some leads on the problem might emerge from a biochemical approach — specifically, checking out phosphorylation, the attachment of phosphate groups, to those 80 identified proteins (and possibly others). Phosphorylation commonly turns off or otherwise modulates the activity of proteins, so it’s possible that in this case it is altering how some of these proteins function. The sleep researcher Qinghua Liu and his colleagues at the University of Tsukuba identified a set of synapse-associated proteins they call SNIPPs that gain and lose phosphate groups in sync with the sleep and wake cycle. The state of the SNIPPs seems to be connected to whatever neural processes are restored during sleep. In all, 80 proteins were more phosphorylated in both Sik3 and sleep-deprived mice than in controls. The researchers dub these “sleep-need-index phosphoproteins,” or SNIPPs. They found in follow-up experiments that the longer a mouse was awake, the more these proteins were phosphorylated. Intriguingly, nearly 80% of the proteins — 69 of them — are involved in the synapses, the places where neurons connect to one another. Chiara Cirelli, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, who is one of the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis’s originators, said of the new paper, “It is strong evidence that sleep need is related to synaptic activity.”

Infectious Theory of Alzheimer's Disease Draws Fresh Interest – (NPR – September 9, 2018)
Dr. Leslie Norins is willing to hand over $1 million of his own money to anyone who can clarify something: Is Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia worldwide, caused by a germ? By "germ" he means microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. In other words, Norins, a physician turned publisher, wants to know if Alzheimer's is infectious. It's an idea that just a few years ago would've seemed to many an easy way to drain your research budget on bunk science. In 2017, Norins launched Alzheimer's Germ Quest, Inc., a public benefit corporation he hopes will drive interest into the germ theory of Alzheimer's, and through which his prize will be distributed. A white paper he penned for the site reads: "From a two-year review of the scientific literature, I believe it's now clear that just one germ — identity not yet specified, and possibly not yet discovered — causes most AD. I'm calling it the 'Alzheimer's Germ.' " Norins is quick to cite sources and studies supporting his claim, among them a 2010 study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery showing that neurosurgeons die from Alzheimer's at a seven-fold higher rate than they do from other disorders. Another study from that same year, published in The Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that people whose spouses have dementia are at a six-times greater risk for the condition themselves. Contagion does come to mind. And Norins isn't alone in his thinking. An intriguing study published in Neuron in June that suggested that viral infection can influence the progression of Alzheimer's. Led by Mt. Sinai genetics professor Joel Dudley, the work was intended to compare the genomes of healthy brain tissue with that affected by dementia. But something kept getting in the way: herpes. Dudley's team noticed an unexpectedly high level of viral DNA from two human herpes viruses, HHV-6 and HHV-7. The viruses are common and cause a rash called roseola in young children (not the sexually transmitted disease caused by other strains). As many as75% of us are may harbor HHV-6. Dudley also noticed that herpes appeared to interact with human genes known to increase Alzheimer's risk. Perhaps, he says, there is some toxic combination of genetic and infectious influence that results in the disease; a combination that sparks what some feel is the main contributor to the disease, an overactive immune system.




ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Google and Harvard Team Up to Use Deep Learning to Predict Earthquake Aftershocks – (The Verge – August 30, 2018)
After a big earthquake hits, the danger isn’t over. Smaller, follow-up quakes that are triggered by the initial shock can rumble around an affected area for months, toppling structures weakened by the parent quake. Scientists can predict the size and timing of these aftershocks to some degree, but nailing the location has always proved challenging. New research from scientists at Harvard and Google suggests AI might be able to help. Scientists trained a neural network to look for patterns in a database of more than 131,000 “mainshock-aftershock” events, before testing its predictions on a database of 30,000 similar pairs. The deep learning network was significantly more reliable than the most useful existing model, known as “Coulomb failure stress change.” On a scale of accuracy running from 0 to 1 — in which 1 is a perfectly accurate model and 0.5 is as good as flipping a coin — the existing Coulomb model scored 0.583, while the new AI system hit 0.849. The success of artificial intelligence in this domain is thanks to one of the technology’s core strengths: its ability to uncover previously overlooked patterns in complex datasets. This is especially relevant in seismology, where it can be incredibly difficult to see connections in the data. Seismic events involve too many variables, from the makeup of the ground in different areas to the types of interactions between seismic plates to the ways energy propagates in waves through the Earth.’

Carpeting Sahara with Wind and Solar Farms Could Make It Rain- (Ars Technica – September 8, 2018)
What would happen to the Sahara if it contained enough wind and solar farms to supply the entire world’s energy needs several times over? Why the Sahara, you ask? Apart from the obvious things—lots of open land and a pretty potent solar resource—the area’s climate has been shown to be pretty sensitive to nudges. The Sahel region between the Sahara Desert and the wetter lands to the south, in particular, can easily become wetter or drier with small atmospheric changes. And since studies elsewhere have shown that wind and solar farms can have an influence on local weather, it’s interesting to consider what effect they’d have in northern Africa. With no constraints on their scenario, the researchers opted for the “supersized” version. In a climate model, they simulated the effect of adding three terawatts of wind power—a little more than the world’s current total electricity use. Next, they added 79 terawatts of solar farms. Global energy use of all types (including fuels) is about 18 terawatts today, so this is a scenario where all the fuel a growing world could want are made in the Sahara, and Africa's drinking water is probably desalinated, to boot. In all, this is something like nine million square kilometers covered by wind and solar farms—nearly the area of the United States. Even though the wind farms produced a small slice of the total energy, they had the larger climate impact in the model. Average temperature in the region increased about 2°C, primarily because nighttime temperatures couldn’t cool off as much. Precipitation, meanwhile, roughly doubled. A model simulation with just the solar farms showed about 1°C warming (this time mainly due to warmer afternoon highs) and a 50% increase in rainfall. The real key here is the way that vegetation responds to weather changes in this climate model. More rain obviously means more plants in this rain-limited landscape. Vegetation efficiently takes soil moisture and releases it as water vapor into the atmosphere. And plants—like solar panels—also reflect less sunlight. It turns out that only about half of the simulated temperature effects and 20% of the rainfall increase are directly due to the wind and solar farms. The rest is an additive effect provided by the expansion of plants. In fact, the reason the Sahel gets slightly cooler is that the plants' release of water vapor cool off the surface, just as sweating cools your skin on a hot day. Admittedly, there are a million logistical reasons why this isn’t a practical or likely scenario – but it does point toward ideas that might be workable.

Fungi Could Solve World's Plastic Crisis – (CNN – September 12, 2018)
There have been growing calls to eliminate single-use plastics across the business world, with ocean plastic waste predicted to triple by 2050. Around 150 million tons of plastic are already floating in our oceans -- with an additional eight million tons entering the water each year, according to the World Economic Forum. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by weight if current rates of plastic dumping continue. A report published by London's Kew Gardens claims to have found a fungus that can break down plastics "in weeks rather than years." Experts say the fungus, known as Aspergillus tubingensis, which was found in Pakistan, is capable of eroding plastics such as polyester polyurethane, which is often used in refrigerator insulation and synthetic leather. "We are in the early days of research but I would hope to see the benefits of fungi that can eat plastic in five to 10 years," said senior scientist Ilia Leitch. The report, which involved 100 scientists from across 18 countries, found that 2,189 new species of fungi were found during 2017, while an estimated 2.2 million to 3.8 million species are yet to be described.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Trump Team Considers Nationalizing 5G Network – (Axios – January 28, 2018)
Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China. A PowerPoint deck and a memo — both produced by a senior National Security Council official —were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration. The PowerPoint presentation says that the U.S. has to build superfast 5G wireless technology quickly because “China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure,” and “China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.” The documents say America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years. Two options are laid out by the documents. The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure. An alternative plan where wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another — though the document says the downside is it could take longer and cost more. It argues that one of the “pros” of that plan is that it would cause “less commercial disruption” to the wireless industry than the government building a network. A source familiar with the documents' drafting says Option 2 is really no option at all: a single centralized network is what's required to protect America against China and other bad actors. The source said the internal White House debate will be over whether the U.S. government owns and builds the network or whether the carriers bind together in a consortium to build the network, an idea that would require them to put aside their business models to serve the country's greater good. (Editor’s note: This article is from January; at the moment, the Trump team may have more pressing matters to address, but this article gives some indication of the national thinking on this topic.)



SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

The MicroPAD®: Innovative Housing for the Homeless – (Panoramic Interests – no date)
This is a videoclip introducing the MicroPAD (Prefab Affordable Dwelling), an approach to providing decent housing for the homeless. Each PAD is 8’ by 20’ with a 9’ ceiling (the size of a shipping container, 160 square feet) and includes a kitchen area, sleeper sofa, desk area, bathroom, and closet. The units are stackable within a steel frame. See also this news report from Berkeley, CA which shows the PAD a bit more fully and includes information as to how a homeless person will be able to afford to live in one.



RE-THINKING 9/11
After 17 years, there are still many unanswered questions about what happened on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. To commemorate that event, in this issue we are focusing on some of those questions.

9/11's Secret 28-page History – (Al Jazeera – September 10, 2018)
A secret 9/11 history exists - one that the few who know it say names at least one foreign country that provided support to some of the 19 hijackers on their murderous mission 13-years ago on Thursday. Twenty-eight pages from an official 2002 report detailing foreign-government assistance to the September 11 attackers remain classified. Determined 9/11 family members and sympathetic congressmen are pushing hard , however, for the long-awaited release of the missing history of one of the United States' greatest tragedies. The controversial information is contained in the House-Senate Intelligence Committees' Joint Inquiry. The section on "specific sources of foreign support" was classified by former president George W Bush for national security reasons. Bush received his share of flak for the move, but critics have also denounced President Barack Obama, who reportedly told several 9/11 family members he would declassify the 28 pages - but years later has still failed to do so. The push to declassify the chapter on foreign support is not a new one, with 46 US senators seeking the 28-page publication in 2003. Obviously, that move failed. US Congressmen Walter Jones, Stephen Lynch, and Thomas Massie - who have read the 28 pages - sponsored Resolution 428 last December, seeking the immediate release of the classified 9/11 history. Joining with family members, the politicians reiterated their call for declassification at a Tuesday press conference in Washington, DC. "I think the 28 pages are stunning in their clarity in terms of how demonstrative they are in showing the planning beforehand, the financing, and the eventual attacks on that day," said Lynch, adding questions remain whether individuals identified "were acting as part of a government, or acting as rogue agents". Congressman Thomas Massie has described the classified chapter as "shocking". "I had to stop every couple pages and just sort of absorb, and try to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years, and years leading up to that," he told a press conference earlier this year. "It challenges you to rethink everything."

The Spy Factory – (PBS – February 3, 2009)
This documentary produced by PBS Nova which offers virtual proof that the NSA could have stopped 9/11. Based largely on the excellent work of bestselling author and former ABC News investigative producer James Bamford, The Spy Factory leaves no doubt that the NSA was following several of the alleged hijackers for many months before 9/11 and refused to share the vital information they gathered with the FBI or CIA. Among the many other strange incidents presented is how starting in 1996, the NSA was able to listen in on all of Osama bin Laden's private phone conversations with Al Qaeda's headquarters in Yemen. As Bamford states towards the end of the documentary, "the NSA had all the information it needed to stop the hijackers." If you prefer, rather than watching the documentary, you can read a transcript of it here.

Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7 – (Engineers and Architects for 9/11 Truth – no date)
Never before has a steel-framed high-rise collapsed from fire. Why, then, did three such buildings collapse on September 11, 2001? “Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7” provides a comprehensive overview of the most important evidence and a careful examination of the two leading hypotheses: fire due to airline impact and jet fuel or controlled demolition. This article includes a link to download a 50-page PDF booklet (free) that can be read in about two hours and qualifies for credits of continuing education with the American Institute of Architects.

9/11 in Context – (Washington’s Blog – September 10, 2018)
Only with context can we gain insight and perspective into the horrible, barbaric 9/11 attack. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror. Scores of government officials throughout the world have admitted (either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos) to carrying out – or seriously proposing – false flag attacks. Here is a list of 13 of them – spanning countries all over the world.

Dustification: North Tower Spire Turns to Dust – (Forbidden Knowledge – August 20, 2018)
From numerous camera angles, what we see here is the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 (video clip embedded in article). You will notice a remnant spire from the structural steel, which remains standing for a few moments after the bulk of the Tower’s collapse. Then, as if Tinker Bell were hovering over there waving her magic wand, the spire literally turns into Fairy Dust before your eyes. You don’t have to believe me. Just watch it. From several angles. The term “Dustification” was coined by Dr. Judy Wood among others, like “Toasted Cars” to describe the anomalous evidence at the 9/11 crime scene, for which she felt normal descriptors were inadequate. The evidence was hauled off to the Fresh Kills dump in Staten Island without a proper crime scene investigation and the burnt steel was sold on the Chinese market at breakneck speed, all of this possibly to deter discovery of the “molecular dissociation” Dr Wood conjectured had been caused by Directed Energy Weapons that dustified the towers and toasted the cars. Wood’s exotic hypothesis might make more sense than the even kookier official explanations but we don’t really know what happened. For more information on Directed Energy Weapons, see this video clip of Dr. Wood speaking at the Breakthrough Energy Movement Conference in Holland, held in 2012. Dr. Wood has been a professor of mechanical engineering and she holds several degrees in applied physics and engineering, including a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering Science. Beyond the horrific tragedy of 9/11, she sees a positive side: evidence of a breakthrough technology, which signals of the dawn of a New Age.





ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Low-cost, Printable Solar Panels Offer Ray of Hope amid Energy Gridlock – (Guardian – August 30, 2018)
In May last year, the University of Newcastle professor Paul Dastoor used organic printed solar cells to power screens and displays at an exhibition in Melbourne. Less than one millimeter thick and held down with double-sided sticky tape, the panels are similar in texture to a potato chip packet and can be produced for less than $10 per square meter. Dastoor has been working on the technology for more than a decade, but has now begun a 200 square-meter installation – the first commercial application of its kind in Australia and possibly the world. The printed solar technology is not as efficient as the silicon-based one, and degrades much faster. But Dastoor believes its low production and installation costs would make it competitive. “The point of this technology is that if you look at it in terms of raw efficiency numbers, it’s much lower than typical silicon cells [and] it doesn’t last as long but actually those aren’t the important numbers,” he said. “The question is how much does the energy cost? These materials are so cheap to make, manufacture and install that when you calculate the total cost of energy when manufacturing at scale, it’s going to give you a competitive product.” The commercial installation was completed in a day by five employees, and a lab-size printer can produce hundreds of meters of the product in one day.

World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Walney Extension Swings into Action for Energy – (TechXplore – September 8, 2018)
On September 6, the Walney Extension opened – and overtook the London Array as the world's largest offshore wind farm. Stats say the farm, located in the Irish Sea off the Walney Island coast in Cumbria, covers an area of around 55 square miles. Project watchers are talking electricity for nearly 600,000 UK homes. It's especially being touted as having been built on time and on budget. Large and powerful turbines are project highlights. The project is a sign of how dramatically wind technology has progressed in the past five years since the previous biggest, the London Array, was finished. The new windfarm uses less than half the number of turbines but is more powerful. Matthew Wright, the UK managing director of Danish energy firm Ørsted, said, "– bigger turbines, with fewer positions and a bit further out – is really the shape of projects going forward." The wind farm will have a life span of approximately 25 years. (Editor’s note: After 25 years, then what?)

Scientists Develop a New Way to Turn Sunlight into Fuel – (SciTech Daily – September 4, 2018)
The quest to find new ways to harness solar power has taken a step forward after researchers successfully split water into hydrogen and oxygen by altering the photosynthetic mechanism in plants. Oxygen is produced as by-product of photosynthesis when the water absorbed by plants is ‘split’. It is one of the most important reactions on the planet because it is the source of nearly all of the world’s oxygen. Hydrogen which is produced when the water is split could potentially be a green and unlimited source of renewable energy. A new study, led by academics at St John’s College has used semi-artificial photosynthesis to explore new ways to produce and store solar energy. They used natural sunlight to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using a mixture of biological components and manmade technologies. Their research paper outlines how academics at the Reisner Laboratory in Cambridge developed their platform to achieve unassisted solar-driven water-splitting. Their method also managed to achieve more efficient absorption of solar light than natural photosynthesis.





TRANSPORTATION

Beyond Amphibious – (Yanko Design – September 5, 20180
When we think of the term “crossover”, we don’t usually imagine it like this! The Hyperlight Aeros is a next generation autonomous amphibious passenger vehicle concept completely unrestricted by sea level or altitude! It goes beyond amphibeous, taking passenger from underwater to in the air in seconds. This autonomous hybrid aviation rotorcraft/submersible watercraft design provides a truly unique traveling experience. A dual stage rear mounted Rolls Royce Hybrid Electric Jet powerplant with stabilizing front fan blade enclosures sends it soaring quietly above the clouds or gliding gracefully below the waves. Thrust is provided by a rear exhaust jet powered from the same engine. The “blowhole” arrays can also serve to stabilize and regulate water intake during submersible operation. Inside, the cabin is fully pressurized and entirely water resistant. Even though it lacks windows, the Aeros projects the outside surroundings into the cabin’s encompassing plasma screen via a sophisticated environmental camera system. SPECS: Maximum Cruising Altitude: 20,000ft; Maximum Operating depth below water: 20ft; Maximum Cruising Speed above water: 250knots; Powerplant: (2) Rolls Royce ER-5; Maximum Passenger Capacity: 3 full sized adults plus luggage. (Editor’s note: As far as we can determine, this project, created by industrial designer Lee Rosario, exists only at the concept stage, but it’s a very cool concept: do check out the images for this craft.)

You Don't Even Want to Know the Results of This Airport Germ Study – (Gizmodo – September 5, 2018)
New research identifies the various ways in which we’re most likely to come into contact with communicable diseases at airports. Turns out that toilets are surprisingly clean, but the same cannot be said for those plastic bins used at airport security, which are absolutely covered in viruses. In addition to making sure we board our flight on time, we have to go through the tedious rigamarole of checking luggage, keeping boarding passes and identification handy, and, of course, passing through airport security. And all the while we’re touching things. So many things. Handrails, doorknobs, desktop surfaces, plastic bins, ATMs, and so on. Yet surprisingly little is known about the specific ways in which germs are disseminated within airports. To overcome this knowledge gap, a team of British and Finnish researchers conducted a study to identify and quantify the respiratory viruses on frequently touched surfaces at airports. Their results, published in BMC Infectious Diseases, show which surfaces are most likely to harbor germs, and the kinds of respiratory diseases that exist in airports. For the study, Niina Ikonen, a virologist from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare and a co-author of the new study, and her colleagues visited the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland at the height of the flu season during the winter of 2015-2016. In all, 90 surfaces were tested, including toilet bowl lids, escalator handrails, elevator buttons, chair armrests, trolley handles, toys in the children’s play area, and so on. Ten percent of the surfaces tested harbored a respiratory virus of some sort. Of these germ-laden surfaces, the plastic trays circulated at airport security were the worst; four out of eight trays swabbed, or 50%, were found to contain a virus. Each of the four viruses found on the plastic bins were distinct, and included adenovirus, influenza A (a virus that causes the seasonal flu), rhinovirus (which causes the common cold), and human coronavirus. The bins are not routinely (if ever) disinfected. Risk of infection, the researchers say, could be significantly reduced if airports offered hand sanitizers and/or alcohol hand rubs to travelers both before and after security screening. And the bins should be routinely cleaned, they say.




SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Australia Wants to Take Government Surveillance to the Next Level – (New York Times – September 4, 2018)
A nation state’s capacity to spy on its citizens has grown exponentially in recent years as new technology has meant more aspects of our lives can be observed, recorded and analyzed than ever before. At the same time, much to the frustration of intelligence agencies around the world, so has the ability to keep digital information secret, thanks to encryption. That’s why the main intelligence agencies of the Anglophone world are now hoping that Australia will lead the charge in developing ways to get decrypt information at will, and to tap into data that was previously kept secret. A proposed law, the draft of which was released last month by the cybersecurity minister, is an aggressive step in that direction. It’s not just criminals or terrorists who use encryption, but every one of us. We use encryption to buy things online, manage our finances, and communicate personally and professionally. Hospitals, transportation systems and government agencies use encrypted data. Creating tools to weaken encrypted systems for one purpose weakens it for all purposes. If Australia succeeds in doing so, it could be your bank account or your medical records that are compromised in the end. This particular bill has been more than a year in the making. At the June 2017 meeting in Ottawa of the Five Eyes — the intelligence alliance made up of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — Australia made a point of the need for states to find ways to overcome encryption. A joint communiqué that came out of the meeting noted that encryption can “severely undermine public safety efforts” and committed Five Eyes members to working with technology companies to “explore shared solutions.” Australia, which has no bill of rights, is a logical place to test new strategies for collecting intelligence that can later be adopted elsewhere. Among other things, the proposed law would create a process for “designated communications providers” — defined so expansively that it covers any business hosting a website — to assist intelligence and law enforcement agencies to do almost anything to give them access to encrypted communications. For example, providers may have to build tools, install software or keep agencies up-to-date with developments. In essence, state agencies will be able to circumvent encryption, either with the cooperation of tech companies or by compulsion. The government has been quick to claim that this is not a back door, and the bill prohibits requests to companies to create “systemic” weaknesses. But this prohibition is ambiguous, and the reporting and accountability safeguards are minimal. The truth is that there is simply no way to create tools to undermine encryption without jeopardizing digital security and eroding individual rights and freedoms. Hackers with bad intentions will do their utmost to take advantage of any such tools that companies are forced to provide the government.




TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

California's Bail Bond Empire Strikes Back – (LA Times – August 31, 2018)
It is no surprise that the bail bond industry is seeking to overturn historic legislation to eliminate money bail from the California justice system. SB 10, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, requires judges to decide whether to release criminal defendants before trial or keep them locked up based on their risk to public safety and the probability they will come to court at the appointed time. Personal or family wealth — the ability to pay a bail bond company — will no longer be a factor. As a result, the new law effectively puts bail agents out of business. They won’t go quietly. A coalition of industry associations on Wednesday began a drive to repeal the measure. Members can be expected to repeat the specious arguments they have made over the last two years as Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) shepherded their bills through the Legislature: Defendants who have money for bail are less dangerous than those who don’t (that’s nonsense); the Constitution requires money bail (it doesn’t); and one’s ability to put up money is a rational way to determine whom to keep in jail (it most definitely is not). But in the end their goal is to preserve a predatory industry that forces defendants to go into debt merely to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Let’s hope the attempted bail referendum fails at an even earlier point in the process and that backers won’t get the 366,000 signatures they need in the next three months to prevent the law from taking effect on schedule in October 2019. If they succeed, the referendum would be on the 2020 ballot. The stark fact is that the industry can afford an expensive signature-gathering campaign. It has at its disposal lots of cash it has squeezed from families who desperately gave over whatever they had in order to keep their loved ones out of jail while they were waiting for trial. One crucial question is whether the bail bond empire will get help from its polar opposites: activist groups that generally despise the industry but also dislike SB 10 because it’s not the reform they wanted. They are disappointed that the new law does not, on its face, guarantee that fewer people will be in jail before trial because it allows judges to order detention for a large number of defendants. Although activists aren’t likely to join forces openly with the industry, they just may quietly cheer on the law’s repeal while offering their own, more sweeping, voter initiative to severely reduce judicial power and limit the use of tools such as computer algorithms that assess the risk of releasing a defendant before trial.

Gov. Richard Lamm: My Plan to Destroy America – (Washington Examiner – April 20, 2006)
The immigration issue is a big problem all over the world and anti-immigration voices have been gaining volume for some time now. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all said it was a major issue that needed dramatic/radical response… but none of them did anything significant about it. Major political upheaval is emerging across Europe because of their immigration policies and many analysts are now coming to the conclusion that encouraging unrestricted immigration is potentially deadly to nations and cultures as we know them. The stakes are very large and extraordinarily disruptive. As mentioned, this is not a new issue. The former governor of Colorado, Dick Lamm, a liberal Democrat (and a friend of mine), gave a brief iconic speech in 2004 (slightly revised before being published in 2006) that, in stark terms, outlined the potential downsides of not having an effective immigration strategy and policy. We include it here not to promote Gov. Lamm’s ideas, but to provoke intelligent thought about the potential long-term implications of unencumbered immigration and the serious need to address the issue directly.

Botched CIA Communications System Helped Blow Cover of Chinese Agents – (Foreign Policy – August 15, 2018)
It was considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically dismantled the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle. How were the Chinese able to roll up the network? Now, nearly eight years later, it appears that the agency botched the communication system it used to interact with its sources, according to five current and former intelligence officials. The covert communications system used in China was first employed by U.S. security forces in war zones in the Middle East, where the security challenges and tactical objectives are different, the sources said. “It migrated to countries with sophisticated counterintelligence operations, like China,” one of the officials said. The system was not designed to withstand the scrutiny of a place like China, where the CIA faced a highly sophisticated intelligence service and a completely different online environment. As part of China’s Great Firewall, internet traffic there is watched closely, and unusual patterns are flagged. Even in 2010, online anonymity of any kind was proving increasingly difficult. After the fact, the U.S. intelligence officers were able to identify digital links between their covert communications system and the U.S. government itself, according to one former official—links the Chinese agencies almost certainly found as well. These digital links would have made it relatively easy for China to deduce that the covert communications system was being used by the CIA. In fact, some of these links pointed back to parts of the CIA’s own website, according to the former official. Other factors played a role as well, including China’s alleged recruitment of former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee around the same time. Federal prosecutors indicted Lee earlier this year in connection with the affair. But the penetration of the communication system seems to account for the speed and accuracy with which Chinese authorities moved against the CIA’s China-based assets. “You could tell the Chinese weren’t guessing. The Ministry of State Security [which handles both foreign intelligence and domestic security] were always pulling in the right people,” one of the officials said. “When things started going bad, they went bad fast.” The former officials also said the real number of CIA “assets” and those in their orbit executed by China during the two-year period was around 30, though some sources spoke of higher figures.




INTERNATIONAL TRENDS

Why the Supreme Leader Banned Direct Talks with the US – (LobeLog – August 15, 2018)
“There will be no war, nor will we negotiate with the US,” the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei announced to an audience of supporters at his office on Monday, August 13. He also “confessed” to having made a mistake about the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “I ban holding any talks with America… America never remains loyal to its promises in talks,” Khamenei said. This was his most unequivocal response to President Trump’s recent offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Khamenei even went a step further: “Even if we were to negotiate with the Americans we would definitely never negotiate with the current administration,” he said. “As always, we will never be the initiator of a war, and the US won’t launch a war either because they know it will end to their detriment…Of course they do not openly talk about war, but their intent is to imply that there is a ghost of war that will scare the Iranian nation,” the Supreme Leader explained. Khamenei then went into detail for his audience, explaining point by point why Iran will not negotiate with the United States.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

America's Sick Slaveowner Mentality Is Alive and Well – (TruthDig – September 11, 2018)
The slave patrols live. Just ask any of the people at Nike who answer the phones and are dealing with an avalanche of angry white callers throwing the N-word around and complaining about Nike treating Collin Kaepernick with respect. Policing people of color, which our history teaches was a “government function” handled by the southern states back in the day, was actually a largely civilian effort, although it depended on the support and constant encouragement of political leaders within government. At the core of modern American policing (particularly in the South), and at the creation of the Second Amendment, we find the slave patrols that were the first militia of the southern states. They’re also essential to the modern neo-confederate and white supremacist efforts to demonize black people whenever they stand up for their rights. In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, the colonial government passed laws in 1755 and 1757 that required all white men 17-47 years old to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed Militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of every slave in the state. As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.” It’s the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained when he asks, “Why don’t they just rise up and kill the whites?” If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains. Sally E. Hadden, in her book, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, “Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller.” There were exemptions so “men in critical professions” like judges, legislators, and wealthy white students could stay at their work. Generally, though, most southern men – including physicians and ministers – had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives. By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered Whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus pointed out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the gun toting mostly civilian militias.

Doctors Explore Lifting Barriers to Living Organ Donation – (ABC News – September 9, 2018)
People lucky enough to receive a kidney or part of a liver from a living donor not only cut years off their wait for a transplant, but those organs also tend to survive longer. Yet living donors make up a fraction of transplants, and their numbers have plateaued amid barriers that can block otherwise willing people from giving. Among them: varying hospital policies on who qualifies and the surprising financial costs that some donors bear. Now researchers are exploring ways to lift those barriers and ease the nation's organ shortage. Of 8,082 liver transplants last year, just 367 were from living donors, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, which oversees the nation's transplant system. Living kidney donations are more common but still not enough to meet the need. About 95,000 people are on the kidney waiting list. Of 19,849 transplants last year, 5,811 were from living donors. One hurdle is economic. The transplant recipient's insurance pays the donor's medical bills. But donors are out of work for weeks recuperating. The U.S. Labor Department last month made clear that a donor's job can be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act. But that's unpaid leave — and donors lose income if their employer doesn't allow some form of paid time off. They also may have other expenses such as travel and hotel bills for visits to a far-away transplant center. One study found more than a third of living kidney donors reported lost wages in the first year following donation. The median amount was $2,712, particularly difficult if asking economically disadvantaged friends or family for an organ. The liver is unique, able to regenerate a few months after donors give a piece. But it is a larger and riskier operation than donating a kidney. And that sparks an ethical debate: Many people with failing livers aren't allowed onto the national waiting list for organs from deceased donors. That's because the scarce supply is rationed, given only to those with the best survival chances. But what if patients who don't qualify find a living donor? Should the donor be allowed to undergo a risky surgery if the recipient's predicted survival isn't quite as good?

Devices Dominate Teenagers' Social Lives – (Axios – September 10, 2018)
Today's teens prefer texting over in-person communication, use social media multiple times a day, and admit that digital distractions interfere with homework, personal relationships and sleep, according to a new survey of 13- to 17-year-olds. Concerns over the negative impact of social media use have increased recently with reports of teen depression, suicide and cyberbullying on the rise. The study by Common Sense Media, a non-profit group focused on tech and media's impact on kids, shows teens have a complicated relationship with technology. Key findings: 81% of teens use social media, with 70% saying they use it multiple times a day, up from 34% in 2012. And 89% have their own smartphone, more than doubling since 2012. 72% of teens believe that tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on devices. The proportion of teens who prefer in-person interaction has plummeted from 49% in 2012 to 32% in 2018. Texting is now the favorite mode of communication. 13% of teens say they've been cyber-bullied. 33% of teens say they wish their parents would spend less time on their devices, up from 21% in 2012. In 2012, 68% said their go-to social site was Facebook. That number fell to 15% in 2018, with Snapchat and Instagram the new favorites. 54% of teens agree that using social media often distracts them when they are with people, and 44% say they get frustrated when their friends are using their phones while hanging out. Yet 55% say they hardly ever or never put their devices away when hanging out with friends. "I wonder if we are seeing the beginnings of some weird negative feedback loop where we can't help but be on our devices when we're with other people, and we get upset with others for being distracted by their devices when they're with us — so therefore we don't want to hang out with people in person anymore because it's easier to interact with them on our devices,” noted Vicky Rideout, independent researcher who conducted the surveys in 2012 and 2018.

Nearly 70% of Americans Play Video Games, Mostly on Smartphones – (Variety – September 11, 2018)
About 67% of Americans, or roughly 211 million people, play video games on at least one type of device, with more than half of those who game, playing on multiple platforms, according to a new study released by Electronic Entertainment Design and Research. The study, which is based on an online survey of 5,000 people, also showed that 90% of those play games on their smartphones, tablets, or both. The study also found that gaming takes up about 16% of U.S. gamers’ weekly leisure time, totaling an average of 12 hours per week.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Is There a Mysterious Planet Nine Lurking in Our Solar System beyond Neptune? – (Washington Post – September 2, 2018)
Many astronomers remain convinced a once-in-a-generation discovery is in the offing — one that would rewrite textbooks down to the elementary school level. “Every time we take a picture,” said Surhud More, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo, “there is this possibility that Planet Nine exists in the shot.” Circumstantial evidence continues to accumulate for the existence of Planet Nine, the hypothetical body thought to be lurking in our solar system far beyond Neptune. But no telescope has been able to spot it. Michael Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, says he feels “eternally optimistic” that someone will soon find it, but there’s reason to believe that Planet Nine, if it exists, might be essentially invisible to existing observatories. The first evidence for Planet Nine surfaced in 2014, when the discovery of a planetoid revealed that a handful of mini ice-worlds in the outermost reaches of the solar system followed suspiciously similar paths around the sun. “If things are in the same orbit, then something’s pushing them,” said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington and the co-discoverer of the 2014 planetoid. At an orbital distance of 600 astronomical units (an AU is the distance between Earth and the sun), Planet Nine would be 160,000 times dimmer than Neptune is at 30 AU. At 1,000 AU, it would appear more than 1 million times weaker. “There’s really a brick wall, basically, at 1,000 AU,” said Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University. Even if the astronomers do soon cover the search area, cosmically bad luck could keep the planet hidden. Perhaps it’s lost in the light pollution of the Milky Way, or hiding in the glare of a bright star. Worse, it could be in the part of its orbit that takes it beyond that 1,000-AU wall. Waiting for it to swing back around would take thousands of years. Hence the need for backup detection plans.



STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

Here's How America Uses Its Land – (Bloomberg – July 31, 2018)
There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is. Its economy is the largest in the world and grew at a rate of 4.1% last quarter, its fastest pace since 2014. The unemployment rate is near the lowest mark in a half century. What can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure. Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land. The data can’t be pinpointed to a city block—each square on the map represents 250,000 acres of land. But piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used. Gathered together, cropland would take up more than a fifth of the 48 contiguous states. Pasture and rangeland would cover most of the Western U.S., and all of the country’s cities and towns would fit neatly in the Northeast. There’s a single, major occupant on all this land: cows. Between pastures and cropland used to produce feed, 41% of U.S. land in the contiguous states revolves around livestock. On a percentage basis, urban creep outpaces growth in all other land-use categories. Another growth area: land owned by wealthy families. According to The Land Report magazine, since 2008 the amount of land owned by the 100 largest private landowners has grown from 28 million acres to 40 million, an area larger than the state of Florida. Check out all the map-based visualizations of these statistics and more.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Meet the Economist behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America – (Institute for New Economic Thinking – May 30, 2018)
James Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you’ve taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work. The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept. That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains, a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. In thinking about how people make political decisions and choices, Buchanan concluded that you could only understand them as individuals seeking personal advantage. In an interview cited by MacLean, the economist observed that in the 1950s Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed — that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to “tear down.” His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as “public choice.” Buchanan’s view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. Crediting people with altruism or a desire to serve others was “romantic” fantasy: politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists. They wanted to control others and wrest away their resources: “Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves,” he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty. (Editor’s note: We highly recommend this article which connects the dots between economic and political theory.)



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

The Most Amazing Photo Ever Taken From a Commercial Airplane – (Inc.com – August 25, 2018)
Remember the Great American Eclipse of 2017? For a few minutes, it seemed the entire country was relaxed and focused on the same thing. Jon Carmichael was focused all right. But he wasn't exactly relaxed. Instead, he was in Seat 1A on a Southwest Airlines flight, taking more than 1,200 photographs in a two-minute span outside the aircraft's window. The result? A photographic mosaic that people are calling the most amazing image ever taken from a commercial airplane. The final image shows the eclipse just as the plane passes over the Snake River, separating Oregon from Idaho. It took close to a year after the flight for Carmichael to assemble the final print. "It's the only time you'll ever see our sun on a black sky, which changes your whole perspective," Carmichael said. Article includes the photo, and his story.



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

This Is the Hilariously Offensive Reply United Airlines Staff Will Give You If You Complain About the New $30 Baggage Fee – (Inc.com – September 2, 2018)
United Airlines has gone and done it. After all, the airline's trying to be kinder to passengers. Yes, just as its president says that families who want to sit together should pay more for the privilege. Yet, after JetBlue announced that it was raising baggage fees to $30 for the first bag, United stepped in to join the latest nickel-and-diming ensemble. The airline chose the classic bad news PR dump time -- late on a Friday -- to announce its intentions. Put yourself, though, into the comfy shoes of a United Airlines employee going to work over the next few days and weeks. Especially those at check-in desks. You know you're going to have passengers complaining about the new fee. What are you supposed to tell them? Helpfully, United has already thought of that. It's created a little blurb for employees to utter to unhappy passengers. It begins: We just announced new baggage fees on August 31. This is actually the first time in eight years we are making an adjustment to some of our checked baggage fees. Should you be a passenger, you might stop them there and say: Ah, yes. Baggage fees were introduced, according to airlines, in response to very high fuel costs. During this eight-year period, your fuel costs dropped dramatically. Did you, um, adjust your baggage fees downward? No, you did not. Ah, but the script goes on…



JUST FOR FUN

AI-altered Video Makes It Look Like You Can Dance – (Engadget – August 26, 2018)
Can't pop-lock or Lindy Hop to save your life? Don't worry -- AI could soon make it look like you're a dance superstar. UC Berkeley researchers have developed a deep learning system that translates dance moves from a source video to less-than-experienced subjects. One algorithm creates a virtual skeleton to map poses, while two more algorithms square off against each other to both create the full picture and create a more realistic face for subjects as their virtual bodies twirl around. You do need the test subject to move around for a short while to get reference material, but the result is realistic enough to give an amateur the deftness of a ballet dancer. There's still work to be done before it's truly ready. You'll notice the occasional jittering, blurry details and even missing body pieces. The potential uses are quite clear, though, and there are some potential ethical concerns. It'd certainly be useful for parodies, or pure fun. You could make your straight-laced coworker do the electro shuffle. However, we've also seen what happened with deepfakes. What was once a clever face-swapping technology quickly fell prone to abuse for porn. It's all too easy to see this used to doctor videos for personal attacks or propaganda -- say, making a politician deliver a rude gesture. Just as it's no longer certain that a talking head in a video is authentic, you might not have guarantees that a person's body movements are real. Article includes video clip showcasing the technology.



A FINAL QUOTE

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. - Albert Einstein



A special thanks to: 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




CONTACT US

Edited by John L. Petersen
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org
www.arlingtoninstitute.org

PRIVACY POLICY: We don't share your information with anyone.

Twitter   Facebook   JLP Blog
Donation

The Cosmic Internet

The Twelve Layers of DNA




Buy at Amazon

Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart has said "It should be required reading for the next President."

The Arlington Institute

FUTUREdition Archive

JCB Online Services


*|REWARDS|*