FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT--
- Once 3 million Americans have uploaded their genomes to public genealogy websites, nearly everyone in the U.S. would be identifiable by their DNA alone.
- There are at least 33 industries, from the obvious (professional driving & trucking) to the more surprising (hotels), that will be shaken up by the advent of autonomous vehicles.
- Mouse embryos have been made from two fathers.
- Astronomers have found — way beyond the orbit of Pluto — a dwarf planet that takes 40 thousand years to make a single revolution around the sun.
by John L. Petersen
Top Secret Psychic Spy coming to TransitionTalks
November 17th in Berkeley Springs
Forty years ago, the US (and other countries), used highly trained and sensitive psychics to spy on the Soviet Union, China and other countries. The program was VERY successful. It turned out the “remote viewers” could see, hear, smell and feel almost anywhere else in the world . . . from their operations center outside of Washington, DC.
One of the top remote viewers was Paul H. Smith, who went on to form the foremost training program for remote viewers – an initiative that continues on today – is coming to Berkeley Springs on Saturday, the 17th of November.
An Army major at the time and now a PhD, Paul has extraordinary stories to tell about “Project Stargate” and will be explaining how it all worked – and then lead all attendees in a remote viewing exercise to give you a chance to test your psychic skills.
This will be an extraordinary opportunity to look into one of the country’s most highly classified projects, learn what skilled psychics can really do, and take a lesson in testing your own psychic skills.
Opportunities like this almost never come to TransitionTalks, so don’t miss this chance to explore the practical applications of refined extrasensory sense with one of the best people on the planet that teach the skill.
Watch this brief interview I just had with Paul about his upcoming talk.
Get complete details at TransitionTalks.org, along with information on local lodging and restaurants.
Our e-Magazine has complete information on our TransitionTalks series with articles from past speakers |
Gregg Braden, Joe Dispenza & Bruce Lipton:
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.
So Many People Have Had Their DNA Sequenced That They've Put Other People's Privacy in Jeopardy – (LA Times – October 12, 2018)
Everyone’s DNA sequence is unique. But for those who wish to maintain their genetic privacy, it may not be unique enough. A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as where they live and how about how old they might be. It wouldn’t be simple, and it wouldn’t be cheap. But the fact that it has become doable will force all of us to rethink the meaning of privacy in the DNA age, experts said. There is little time to waste. The researchers behind the new study say that once 3 million Americans have uploaded their genomes to public genealogy websites, nearly everyone in the U.S. would be identifiable by their DNA alone and just a few additional clues. More than 1 million Americans have already published their genetic information, and dozens more do so every day. “People have been wondering how long it will be before you can use DNA to detect just about anybody,” said Ruth Dickover, director of the forensic science program at UC Davis who was not involved with the study. “The authors are saying it’s not going to take that long.” This new reality represents the convergence of two long-standing trends. One of them is the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Companies such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe can sequence anyone’s DNA for about $100. All you have to do is provide a sample of saliva and drop it in the mail. The other essential element is the proliferation of publicly searchable genealogy databases like GEDmatch. Anyone can upload a full genome to these sites and powerful computers will crunch through it, looking for stretches of matching DNA sequences that can be used to build out a family tree. See also: DNA Databases Can Send the Police Or Hackers to Your Door. (Editor’s note: This second article is very good for explaining just how and why “"Genetic genealogy databases act like a GPS system for anonymous DNA,” but, despite its title, it has nothing to do with hackers using DNA information.)
Stephen Hawking Left Us Bold Predictions on AI, Superhumans, and Aliens – (Quartz – October 14, 2018)
The late physicist Stephen Hawking’s last writings predict that a breed of superhumans will take over, having used genetic engineering to surpass their fellow beings. In Brief Answers to the Big Questions, Hawking pulls no punches on subjects like machines taking over, the biggest threat to earth, and the possibilities of intelligent life in space. Hawking delivers a grave warning on the importance of regulating AI, noting that “in the future AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours.” A possible arms race over autonomous-weapons should be stopped before it can start, he writes, asking what would happen if a crash similar to the 2010 stock market Flash Crash happened with weapons. At some point in the next 1,000 years, he predicts nuclear war or environmental calamity will “cripple earth.” However, by then, “our ingenious race will have found a way to slip the surly bonds of Earth and will therefore survive the disaster.” The earth’s other species probably won’t make it, though. The humans who do escape earth will probably be new “superhumans” who have used gene editing technology like CRISPR to outpace others. They’ll do so by defying laws against genetic engineering, improving their memories, disease resistance, and life expectancy, he says. Once such superhumans appear, there are going to be significant political problems with the unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete. Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-increasing rate. If the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonize other planets and stars.
33 Industries Other Than Auto That Driverless Cars Could Turn Upside Down – (CB Insights – September 20, 2018)
It’s all but a certainty that autonomous or driverless vehicles will be widely used in the United States at some point over the next two decades. Already, over two dozen major corporates including Google, Apple, and Mercedes Benz are hard at work building their own self-driving vehicles. Clearly, tech and auto companies stand to gain, but many other industries could face serious upheavals unless they are able to adapt to the many changes self-driving cars will bring to the market. This article looks at 33 industries, from the obvious (professional driving & trucking) to the more surprising (fitness?), that will be shaken up by the advent of autonomous vehicles. Examples: insurance, collision repair companies, hotels, and airlines.
Black Holes Ruled Out as Universe's Missing Dark Matter – (PhysOrg – October 2, 2018)
Dark matter is one of astronomy's most embarrassing conundrums: despite comprising 84.5 of the matter in the universe, no one can find it. For one brief shining moment after the 2015 detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes, astronomers held out hope that the universe's mysterious dark matter might consist of a plenitude of black holes sprinkled throughout the universe. University of California, Berkeley, physicists have dashed those hopes. Based on a statistical analysis of 740 of the brightest supernovas discovered as of 2014, and the fact that none of them appear to be magnified or brightened by hidden black hole "gravitational lenses," the researchers concluded that primordial black holes can make up no more than about 40 percent of the dark matter in the universe. Primordial black holes could only have been created within the first milliseconds of the Big Bang as regions of the universe with a concentrated mass tens or hundreds of times that of the sun collapsed into objects a hundred kilometers across. The results suggest that none of the universe's dark matter consists of heavy black holes, or any similar object, including massive compact halo objects, so-called MACHOs. Several theorists have proposed scenarios in which there are multiple types of dark matter. But if dark matter consists of several unrelated components, each would require a different explanation for its origin, which makes the models very complex. "We are back to the standard discussions. What is dark matter? Indeed, we are running out of good options," said Uroš Seljak, a UC Berkeley professor of physics and astronomy and BCCP co-director. "This is a challenge for future generations."
Tech Breakthrough Offers an Early Warning System for Heart Attacks – (CNBC – October 4, 2018)
A new method of analyzing images from CT scans can predict which patients are at risk of a heart attack years before it occurs, researchers say. The technology, developed by teams at Oxford University and institutions in Germany and the United States, uses algorithms to examine the fat surrounding coronary arteries as it shows up on computed tomography (CT) heart scans. That fat gets altered when an artery becomes inflamed, serving as an early warning system for what one of the researchers believes could be up to 30% of heart attacks. Most heart attacks are caused by a build-up of plaque — a fatty deposit — inside the artery, which interrupts the flow of blood. Currently, CT scans tell a doctor when an artery has already become narrowed by plaque. With the new technology, for which the researchers hope to gain regulatory approval on both sides of the Atlantic within a year, doctors will be able to say which arteries are at risk of narrowing. "(We) can say ...your arteries are inflamed and a narrowing will be developed five years down the line. So maybe you can start preventive measures to avoid this formation of the plaques," said Oxford Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Charalambos Antoniades."Although we have not estimated the exact number of heart attacks that we can prevent, we could potentially identify at least 20 or 30% of the people before they have (one)."
First Mouse Embryos Made from Two Fathers – (The Scientist – October 11, 2018)
Over the last decade or so, researchers have generated mouse pups with genetic contributions from two female parents by manipulating imprinted genomic regions, where epigenetic modifications of the DNA restrict the expression of certain genes to one parent’s copy. In a study published in Cell Stem Cell, a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has improved on prior work by producing mice with two mothers that appear to grow normally—unlike the mice produced in previous efforts—and live to have pups of their own. They used a similar strategy to make embryos with two fathers, but the progeny did not survive long after birth. In the current study, the authors wanted to both improve upon bimaternal mice and use their haploid stem cells to create the first mice with two fathers. Coauthor Baoyang Hu noted, “Bimaternal reproduction, or parthenogenesis, is quite common among vertebrates in the nature, such as amphibians, reptiles, and fish. However, successful reproduction from two males is very rare,” and has only been shown in lab experiments in zebrafish, he adds. “The most important part of this paper is that they managed to generate bipaternal embryos and let them develop to term,” says Yi Zhang, a biologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School who did not participate in the work. Yet, based on the efficiency issues, the short lifespan of the bipaternal pups, and the unknowns about the health of the mice with two moms, he cautions that the authors’ strategies are “still far away from real application” in people.
Child Abuse Leaves Molecular ‘Scars' in DNA of Victims’ Sperm, New Study Suggests – (Independent – October 2, 2018)
Child abuse may leave marks that go even deeper than psychological trauma by physically etching itself into people’s DNA, according to a new Harvard study. Research based on a small sample of men found differences in chemical marks within the genetic code of those who have experienced abuse as children. The scientists examined a chemical process termed methylation in DNA from sperm samples, and found noticeable differences that appeared to distinguish victims and non-victims. Not only do these findings suggest a long-term physical impact of trauma, the presence of these changes in sperm cells suggests its legacy may even be passed between generations. Methylation is a process by which a structure termed a methyl group is added to a strand of DNA, and it can act as a “dimmer switch” on genes. Though research into this process is still in its infancy, scientists think it is influenced by conditions such as life experiences and physical environment. While methylation marks on DNA have been described as “molecular scars” by some commentators, Dr. Roberts said the truth is that the impact – positive or negative – of this process is still largely mysterious in humans. However, extensive experiments in mice have suggested that when it strikes sperm cells methylation can transmit health problems to offspring. Dr. Roberts said there is a need to replicate their findings, but described this as a step towards establishing a long-term impact of abuse that can transcend generations. (Editor’s note: This research makes no mention of the possible effects of abuse on women at least in part because their research used men who were already taking part in a long-term study coordinated by Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health. Hopefully, similar research will be done with women.)
The Mushroom Dream of a ‘Long-haired Hippie’ Could Help Save the World’s Bees – (Seattle Times – October 6, 2018)
The epiphany that mushrooms could help save the world’s ailing bee colonies struck Paul Stamets while he was in bed. “I love waking dreams,” he said. “It’s a time when you’re just coming back into consciousness.” In 1984, Stamets had noticed a “continuous convoy of bees” travelling from a patch of mushrooms he was growing and his beehives. The bees actually moved wood chips to access his mushroom’s mycelium, the branching fibers of fungus that look like cobwebs. “I could see them sipping on the droplets oozing from the mycelium,” he said. They were after its sugar, he thought. Decades later, he and a friend began a conversation about bee colony collapse that left Stamets, the owner of a mushroom mercantile, puzzling over a problem. Bees across the world have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Parasites like mites, fast-spreading viruses, agricultural chemicals and lack of forage area have stressed and threatened wild and commercial bees alike. Waking up one morning, “I connected the dots,” he said. “Mycelium have sugars and antiviral properties,” he said. What if it wasn’t just sugar that was useful to those mushroom-suckling bees so long ago? In research in the journal
Scientific Reports, Stamets turned intuition into reality. The paper describes how bees given a small amount of his mushroom mycelia extract exhibited remarkable reductions in the presence of viruses associated with parasitic mites that have been attacking, and infecting, bee colonies for decades.
The Ocean Cleanup Dispatches "Giant Pac-Man" to Remove Plastic from the Pacific – (Dezeen – September 11, 2018)
The first large-scale operation to scoop waste plastic from the Pacific Ocean has set off from San Francisco. The Ocean Cleanup – a Dutch non-profit initiative aiming to rid the seas of plastic litter – launched its System 001 equipment on 8 September 2018. Towed from San Francisco Bay by the vessel Maersk Launcher, the 2,000-foot-long, U-shaped floating barrier with a 10-foot "skirt" below will be dragged along the water's surface to collect up the waste. Once it reaches its destination, the system is designed to be propelled by wind and waves, so it gathers plastic as it moves through the ocean. "Due to its shape, the debris will be funneled to the centre of the system," said a statement from the organization. "Moving slightly faster than the plastic, the system will act like a giant Pac-Man, skimming the surface of the ocean." The operation's target is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a concentration of plastic debris moved into one place by ocean currents known as gyres. Located halfway between California and Hawaii, the patch reportedly contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, and covers an area twice the size of Texas. Initially, the system will sail 240 nautical miles from shore for 14 days of trials in its U-shaped configuration. The team will then have the option to turn back if the tests are unsuccessful.
Claims of 70 Problems Found with Key Temperature Dataset Used by Climate Models – (The Australian – October 8, 2018)
An audit of the key temperature dataset used by climate models claims to have identified more than 70 problems which the Australian author said made it “unfit for global studies”. Problems include zero degree temperatures in the Caribbean, 82 degree C temperatures in Colombia and ship based recordings taken 100km inland. “The primary conclusion of the audit is the dataset shows exaggerated warming and that global averages are far less certain than have been claimed,” the audit paper says. The new paper argues even the most simple quality checks had not been done on the HadCRUT4 data which is managed by the UK Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The Met Office says the data is based on an archive of monthly mean temperatures provided by more than 5500 weather stations distributed around the world. It said estimates were made of the uncertainties arising from thermometer accuracy, homogenisation, sampling grid boxes with a finite number of measurements available, large-scale biases such as urbanization and estimation of regional averages with non-complete global measurement coverage. The audit is an extension of the PhD thesis by Dr John McLean awarded by James Cook University. Dr McLean has previously identified anomalies in the data set which were acknowledged by the Met Office and corrected.
Seed Diversity Is Disappearing — and 3 Chemical Companies Own More Than Half – (Salon – September 16, 2018)
Ten thousand years after humans became less nomadic and learned how to cultivate crops, veteran investigative journalist Mark Schapiro plunges into the struggle already underway for control of seeds, the ground-zero ingredient for our food. Three-quarters of the seed varieties on Earth in 1900 had become extinct by 2015. By 2018, after a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions, just three companies controlled more than half of all seed revenues, and a grow¬ing percentage of the living germplasm embedded in those seeds. The primary business for all three, now fused into globe-stretching merged companies—DowDuPont, Bayer-Monsanto, and Syngenta-ChemChina—is not seeds, but agricultural chemicals. The combina¬tion of chemical and seed companies is giving rise to seeds that are born addicted to chemicals for their survival—entire generations full of crack-baby seeds. In Seeds of Resistance, Schapiro takes the reader to the front lines of a struggle over the seeds that remain — a struggle that will determine the long-term security of our food supply in the face of unprecedented climate volatility.
Tim Berners-Lee Tells Us His Radical New Plan to Upend the World Wide Web – (Fast Company – September 29, 2018)
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has been working on almost as long as the web itself. Berners-Lee has launched Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over. “We have to do it now,” he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building. For example, Berners-Lee shows the author of this article a simple-looking web page with tabs across the top: Tim’s to-do list, his calendar, chats, address book. He built this app–one of the first on Solid–for his personal use. It is simple, spare. In fact, it’s so plain that, at first glance, it’s hard to see its significance. But to Berners-Lee, this is where the revolution begins. The app, using Solid’s decentralized technology, allows Berners-Lee to access all of his data seamlessly–his calendar, his music library, videos, chat, research. It’s like a mashup of Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Spotify, and WhatsApp. The difference here is that, on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod–which is an acronym for personal online data store. These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations. (Editor’s note: If you have time to follow up on only one link in this issue, choose this one.)
Why Microsoft May Be Relinquishing Billions in Android Patent Royalties – (Yahoo Finance – October 10, 2018)
This is the end of an era. Microsoft has made peace with the free world. Specifically, the world of free and open source software (FOSS). Unlike proprietary software, like Microsoft Windows, FOSS is made collaboratively by developers all over the world, costs nothing, and its users are permitted to alter, copy, and redistribute it at will. In the early 2000s, Microsoft executives decried FOSS as a “cancer” and “intellectual property destroyer.” Then, in 2007, it declared war on FOSS, alleging that many of its most important commercial manifestations—the Linux operating system, OpenOffice, and, later, Google Android—infringed hundreds of its patents. As recently as 2013 a Nomura analyst estimated that Microsoft was extracting patent royalty streams of around $2 billion a year from makers of Android-running smartphones. That chapter is now over. Peace was secured when Microsoft signed a license this month with an obscure organization called the Open Invention Network. OIN is an alliance founded in 2005 by IBM, Red Hat, and three other corporate Linux patrons to shield Linux developers and users from patent suits and licensing demands. Today the group embraces a community of more than 2,650 “licensees,” of which about 150 are public companies. They include the likes of AT&T, Broadcom, Cisco, Facebook, Ford, General Motors, LG Electronics, SpaceX, Twitter, and Verizon. OIN community members agree to give each other free licenses to use one another’s patent portfolios with respect to any inventions that might implicate Linux, Android, and other key open-source software packages. Why is Microsoft doing this? In part, Android royalty revenues have been steadily declining over the past three years, according to its securities filings. That may be because some Indian and Chinese smartphone manufacturers, which don’t pay royalties, have been gaining market share. More important, however, the company’s burgeoning Azure cloud services business has become its strategic priority for the future. Azure revenues were up 89% year-over-year for the latest quarter, and the company reported $23 billion in income from its “commercial cloud” category for fiscal 2018. “By coming to the table at OIN,” says Eben Moglen, a professor at Columbia Law School and the executive director of the Software Freedom Law Center, “Microsoft has acknowledged that the royalties it can acquire by squeezing Android manufacturers are no longer worth the maintenance of patent tension which interferes with the growth of the services business.”
Virgin Atlantic Flies Commercial Plane on Recycled Waste Carbon Gas – (Nation of Change – October 5, 2018)
A Virgin Atlantic commercial flight has been successfully flown using only waste carbon gas to become the first Boeing 747 powered by new sustainable aviation fuel. The plane flew from Orlando, Florida to London’s Gatwick airport and was marshaled by Richard Branson. The fuel, which was produced by Chicago-based LanzaTech in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Lab, is a “blend of conventional jet fuel and ethanol produced waste emissions,” EcoWatch reported. “The LanzaTech process is so exciting because this fuel takes waste, carbon-rich gases that would otherwise go up the chimneys of steel and aluminium mills and gives them a second life – so that new fossil fuels don’t have to be taken out of the ground,” Branson said in a blog post. LanzaTech is capable of producing of 125 million gallons of fuel in the U.K. per year, which would be efficient for 100 percent of Virgin Atlantic flights from the U.K., Virgin Atlantic reported.
The Entire City of Paris Will Be Car-free for a Day – (Fast Company – September 14, 2018)
On October 16, it was possible to walk from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to the Place de la Nation, roughly two hours away, and barely encounter a moving car. The entire city will be car-free for the day. It’s the third year that the city has temporarily banned cars, and one symbol of the city’s larger changes. “It’s a day to make Paris live in a different way,” says Celia Blauel, the city’s deputy mayor. “Make people aware of the issues, and show them that it’s possible actually to move within Paris without a car.” The city has been shifting away from driving for decades; car use inside city limits has dropped 45% since 1990, while the percentage of people riding bikes grew 10 times. (In New York City, arguably the most walkable city in the U.S., around twice as many trips happen by car.) But Paris still has a problem with dangerous levels of smog, and the push to cut pollution from cars has accelerated in the last few years. In 2017, the city announced that it would ban diesel cars by 2024. Cars that run on gas will be phased out by 2030. Older cars (diesel cars made before 2001, and gas cars made before 1997) are already banned from the city center between 8am and 8pm on weekdays. If you live in Paris and get rid of your car, you can claim benefits of around $700 to buy a bike, sign up for a car-sharing service, or buy a public transit pass. If you own a small business, you can get around $10,000 from the city to buy an electric truck or bus. The city is also studying the possibility of making public transportation free.
This New Hyperloop Pod is Set to Whisk Passengers Between Cities at 760mph – (Good News Network – October 3, 2018)
A new hyperloop passenger pod has just been unveiled by a tech company based out of Toulouse, France. The pod, which was designed by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), would have the capability of traveling at speeds of 760 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than half an hour. HTT is one of several companies that are competing for domination in the up-and-coming hyperloop industry, saying that they hope to have a full hyperloop transportation system made available to the public within three years. Virgin Hyperloop One was the first tech company to build a full-scale hyperloop capsule which has hit speeds of 240 miles per hour on their test track. HTT, on the other hand, has become the first company to offer an insured commercial system, which creates a new framework for future government regulation and implementation of the transit.
Chinese Farmers Are Using AI to Track and Monitor Pigs – (Futurism – February 17, 2018)
A new artificial intelligence (AI) project from tech conglomerate Alibaba could alleviate some of the myriad problems facing Chinese farmers in the pork industry. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, and keeping track of the nation’s estimated 700 million animals is notoriously difficult for farmers. They need to ensure that piglets aren’t crushed to death by their mothers, sows aren’t bred past their prime, and sick pigs don’t pass their illnesses on to the rest of the population. Currently, farmers track pigs by clipping wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to the animals’ ears. These can be expensive and provide only very basic information about the pigs’ locations. This system could change under the new partnership between Alibaba, pig farming corporation Dekon Group, and pig feed manufacturer Tequ Group. Each pig in this new system is tattooed with an ID number. Like a high-tech Big Brother, overhead cameras use machine vision technology to track the individual pigs, noting how much each pig moves around the farm and where it goes. The system then combines that information with infrared temperature readings to estimate the animal’s health. The AI system can also note the sound of a pig coughing to monitor for disease, and if it detects the sound of a young pig squealing, it alerts the farmer that a piglet could be in danger.
Feeding 10 Billion People by 2050 within Planetary Limits May Be Achievable – (Science Daily – October 10, 2018)
A global shift towards healthy and more plant-based diets, halving food loss and waste, and improving farming practices and technologies are required to feed 10 billion people sustainably by 2050, a new study finds. Adopting these options reduces the risk of crossing global environmental limits related to climate change, the use of agricultural land, the extraction of freshwater resources, and the pollution of ecosystems through overapplication of fertilizers, according to the researchers. The study is the first to quantify how food production and consumption affects the planetary boundaries that describe a safe operating space for humanity beyond which Earth's vital systems could become unstable. "No single solution is enough to avoid crossing planetary boundaries. But when the solutions are implemented together, our research indicates that it may be possible to feed the growing population sustainably," says Dr. Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food and the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, who led the study. "Without concerted action, we found that the environmental impacts of the food system could increase by 50-90% by 2050 as a result of population growth and the rise of diets high in fats, sugars and meat. In that case, all planetary boundaries related to food production would be surpassed, some of them by more than twofold."
Here's How Much Fast Food Americans Are Eating – (CNN – October 3, 2018)
Between 2013 and 2016, about 37% of US adults (approximately 84.8 million people) consumed fast food on any given day, according to data published by the National Center for Health Statistics. On average, adults in the US consumed 11.3% of their total daily calories from fast food between 2007 and 2010. The percentage of adults who said they consumed fast food rose with family income level, according to the report. Overall, 31.7% of lower-income, 36.4% of middle-income and 42% of higher-income adults said they had eaten fast food. "What surprised me was the finding that income was positively associated with more fast food," said Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, an associate professor and director of clinical research at the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new report. All in all, the report's findings are what most experts would expect and mirror fast food consumption patterns found among children, said Jennifer Harris, an associate professor in allied health sciences at the University of Connecticut and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who was not involved in the new CDC report. "Other studies that have looked at 24-hour dietary recall like this have found a similar thing: that about a third of kids on any given day eat fast food," Harris said.
Here's What Happens When Rural Africans Eat an American Diet for 2 Weeks – (Science Alert – October 13, 2018)
We all know that a diet heavy in processed foods isn't doing us any favors, but a study from 2015 provides insight into just how quickly fast food can trigger biological changes. Researchers asked 20 fast food-loving Americans swap diets with 20 people living in rural South Africa, and found that within two weeks, the South Africans had "remarkable" changes in the biomarkers that indicate colon cancer risk. The good news, however, is that the Americans also greatly reduced these biomarkers thanks to their new rural diet. "In just two weeks, a change in diet from a Westernized composition to a traditional African high-fiber, low-fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk, indicating that it is likely never too late to modify the risk of colon cancer," said lead researcher Stephen O'Keefe from the University of Pittsburgh. The study came about after researchers noticed that African Americans have a more than 13-times higher rate of colon cancer than rural South Africans. They already knew that this difference was most likely a result of the Americans' diet being low in fiber and high in animal protein and fat, but they didn’t know how quickly a change in eating could affect colon cancer risk.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
US Military Plan to Spread Viruses Using Insects Could Create New Class of Biological Weapon – (Independent – October 4, 2018)
Insects could be turned into “a new class of biological weapon” using new US military plans, experts have warned. Bugs could be used to disperse genetically modified (GM) viruses to crops under the Insect Allies program, according to a team that includes specialist scientists and lawyers. Such action will have profound consequences and could pose a major threat to global biosecurity, they said. However, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for developing military technologies in the US, says it is merely trying to alter crops growing in fields by using viruses to transmit genetic changes to plants. In theory, this rapid engineering would allow farmers to adapt to changing conditions, for example by inserting drought-resistance genes into corn instead of planting pre-engineered seeds. But this seemingly inoffensive goal has been slammed by the scientists, who say the plan is simply dangerous and that insects loaded with synthetic viruses will be difficult to control. Dr. Guy Reeves, an expert in GM insects at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, said that there has been hardly any debate about the technology and the program remains largely unknown “even in expert circles”. Experiments are reportedly already underway using insects such as aphids and whiteflies to treat corn and tomato plants. Mr. Beck said he and fellow experts were not suggesting that the US military wanted to create biological weapons, but that the proposed agricultural uses are “simply not plausible for a number of reasons”. Firstly, they note that if farmers wanted to use genetically modified viruses to improve their crops, there is no reason not to use conventional spraying equipment. They also noted that despite Darpa stating that no insects used should survive longer than two weeks, if such safeguards were not in place “the spread could in principle be unlimited”. Mr Beck added: “The quite obvious question of whether the viruses selected for development should or should not be capable of plant-to-plant transmission – and plant-to-insect-to-plant transmission – was not addressed in the DARPA work plan at all”. See also this article which has more information on the proposed means of genetic manipulation of the “horizontal environmental genetic alteration agents” (HEGAAs) as DARPA has called them: Agricultural Research, or a New Bioweapon System?
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Lawsuit Exposes Vaccine Immunity Fraud by HHS – (Health Freedom Idaho – July 14, 2018)
In exchange for giving vaccine companies immunity from prosecution for adverse reaction & medical harm, the Federal government said it would take measures to monitor & improve vaccine safety. A new lawsuit by Del Bigtree shows HHS never looked at ANY safety or adverse reactions for ANY vaccine for the 31 years since they were given oversight. These safety studies are part of the fulfillment of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 which grants legal immunity to pharmaceutical companies and vaccine makers. These safety studies were assigned to HHS in an effort to be the checks and balances over Big Pharma, because they have no liability. Additionally, HHS was also to conduct and report these findings every two years to Congress. In the attached court ordered stipulation, the US Department of Health and Human Services states, pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, that they have no records (that is zero records) of any such studies. This would seem to be the stuff of “fake news” and conspiracy theories, but this is factually accurate. The article contains a scanned copy of the actual judgment handed down in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and signed by the Hon. Jesse M. Furman, U.S.D.J. along with a link to the original files. Judge Furnman’s bio on Wikipedia can be found here.
Why Is the Radical Right Still Winning? – (Foreign Policy in Focus – October 10, 2018)
This article examines what the Protestant Reformation can teach us about the durability of far-right movements world-wide — and the order they seek to replace. The current “Populist Reformation” follows the same pattern as Martin Luther’s earlier revolution. It targets a global elite, criticizes a corrupt economic order, and speaks in a national language that the average person can understand. It uses the latest technologies — social media — to spread its message. It is full of fire and fury. If it continues to follow the earlier example, this Populist Reformation will establish a powerful rival “church” that survives past the next election cycle. It may force some changes in the global order, but that order will survive as well. Protestants and Catholics generated one war after another in Europe and the current era looks to be equally contentious. Some of the countries that have shifted hard to the right have done pretty well economically in recent years, like Poland and the Czech Republic. But the populist parties that did well at the polls still managed to mobilize the resentment of those who didn’t benefit from that economic success. The task of appealing to the disgruntled is even easier in countries that haven’t recovered fully from the financial crisis of a decade ago. Politically, the new right-wing populists are taking advantage of a widespread disgust for political elites. Because they’re focused on corruption, voters are willing to embrace candidates who are also members of the political elite and personally corrupt to boot — as long as these firebrands promise to “drain the swamp.” It’s not just an outward-facing nationalism against globalists and immigrations. These right-wing populists deliberately stoke the anger of majority populations who somehow feel left behind by a world of greater equality and diversity. What’s remarkable about many of the new right-wing populists is how long they’ve managed to hold onto power through the ballot box. Putin, Erdogan, Ortega: They’ve all been in charge for more than a decade apiece. Viktor Orban’s been the head of Hungary since 2010, Abe the head of Japan since 2012. Zeman has been the Czech president since 2013. This Populist Reformation is no recent or temporary blip. Let that be a warning to the U.S. electorate. Even if Donald Trump manages to lose his reelection bid, the populist fury that produced his improbable 2016 victory is not going away any time soon. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article.)
Welcome to New Zealand. Now Hand Over Your Password or Pay $5,000 – (Fast Company – October 1, 2018)
If you’re traveling to New Zealand, be prepared to hand over your phone and your password. A new customs law says that travelers must not only provide their devices, but also access to them, whether in the form of a password, fingerprint, or face, or risk a NZ$5,000 fine, (US$3,240) Radio New Zealand reports. The only silver lining to the law, which is sure to alarm privacy advocates, is that customs officials would need to have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing before performing the digital strip search, and customs officials won’t be searching through your cloud accounts, only the files on your phone. If people refuse to comply, they could be fined and their device would still be seized and forensically searched. Border officials searched roughly 540 electronic devices at New Zealand airports in 2017 and the agency said it did not expect the number to increase, even with the new law. New Zealand isn’t the only country performing digital strip searches. Canada does them on occasion, and searches of mobile phones by U.S. border agents grew from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016, according to the Guardian (see “"US border agents are doing 'digital strip searches'. Here's how to protect yourself.”) Last year, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit to force the U.S. government to disclose its rules around device searches at the border.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Are Today’s White Kids Less Racist Than Their Grandparents? – (Yes Magazine – September 25, 2018)
In America’s children, we often see hope for a better future, especially when it comes to reducing racism. Each new generation of White people, the thinking goes, will naturally and inevitably be more open-minded and tolerant than previous ones. But do we have any reason to believe this? Should we have faith that today’s White kids will help make our society less racist and more equitable? According to some researchers, we do have reason to be hopeful. Using survey data, they found that young White people are expressing less prejudice than generations before them. For instance, White support for segregated schools—a traditional measure of racial prejudice—has dramatically decreased over 50 years. And surveys show that younger Whites are less likely to express racial stereotypes than older Whites. But a second group of researchers disagreed. They found that Whites today simply articulate racial prejudice in new ways. For example, according to national survey data, high school seniors are increasingly expressing a form of prejudice that sociologist Tyrone Forman calls “racial apathy”—an “indifference toward societal, racial, and ethnic inequality and lack of engagement with race-related social issues.” But as useful as surveys can be, they don’t allow us to fully understand how White people explain, justify or develop their views on race. This article looks at that question by interviewing kids aged 10 to 13 from 30 affluent White families living in a Midwestern metropolitan area. A few years later, when the kids were in high school, the author reinterviewed a subset of the original group. A sample of 30 is admittedly very small, but what the author found were stark differences in the young people’s views of race. This article examines some of what was behind those differences.
Meritocracy in Our Society Is a Lie - Genes Reveal It's Better to Be Born Rich Than Talented – (Science Alert – October 15, 2018)
A revolution in genomics is creeping into economics. It allows us to say something we might have suspected, but could never confirm: money trumps genes. Using one new, genome-based measure, economists found genetic endowments are distributed almost equally among children in low-income and high-income families. Success is not. The least-gifted children of high-income parents graduate from college at higher rates than the most-gifted children of low-income parents. The application of genetics to economics is in its infancy. Limitations abound. Most notably, researchers are forced to focus on white people. The world's genomic data comes overwhelmingly from people of European descent, and genetic comparisons across races can produce bizarre results. But it can already begin to expose truths about the economy. The research results come from a new, genome-based study of economic data which aims straight at the heart of the popular conception of America as a meritocracy. The analysis doesn't hinge on a "smart gene." Such a thing doesn't exist. Genes interact in mysterious ways. Rather than linking individual lines of genetic code to specific characteristics, scientists seek correlations along the 10 million or so steps on the double-helix ladder which explain most human diversity. They focus not on what each base pair might do, but what they might explain in the aggregate.
Geneticists, who had focused on biological attributes with clear genetic connections, were initially skeptical that an outcome as complex as education could be connected to a genetic index, Thom said. But outside tests have consistently proven the score can predict college graduation rates.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
A Small Planet with Big Implications – (NPR – October 2, 2018)
Astronomers have found — way beyond the orbit of Pluto — an intriguing distant object orbiting the sun. It's just a dwarf planet, about 200 miles across, but some researchers think finding it increases the likelihood that there is a heretofore undiscovered giant planet lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. That would bring the number of true planets in our solar system back to nine, replacing Pluto which was demoted in 2006. Scott Sheppard and his colleagues at the Carnegie Institution for Science first spotted the new object, known officially as 2015 TG 387, around Halloween three years ago, so they gave it the nickname "The Goblin." "We don't know exactly how big it is, but we think it's about 300 kilometers in size, which is about six or seven times smaller than Pluto," Sheppard says. At first, all they knew about The Goblin was its distance from the sun: 7.5 billion miles. It took several years of measurement, but now Sheppard says they have a pretty good idea of The Goblin's orbit, and it's definitely interesting. First, unlike Earth and most of the rest of the objects in our solar system, its' orbit isn't even close to round. It's an elongated ellipse. Next, it takes 40 thousand years to make a single revolution around the sun, and it never gets closer to the sun than 6 billion miles. That's about twice as far as Pluto is from the sun. Juliette Becker is an astronomer at the University of Michigan. She says the current models of planetary formation that don't explain The Goblin could be wrong, but "an easier solution is the existence of Planet Nine, because it naturally creates these objects in the solar system." The gravity of big planets like Jupiter or Neptune can sling smaller objects into weird orbits if they happen to wander by. But The Goblin doesn't get anywhere near Jupiter or Neptune, so astronomers think another planet, nicknamed Planet Nine, might be out there doing the slinging.
Astronomers Are Getting Excited over Ghostly Traces of a Massive Cosmic Explosion- (Science Alert – October 7, 2018)
Something's missing from the sky. A comparison of surveys taken of the sky years apart has revealed an empty space where a star 280 million light years away once sat. Coded FIRST J1419+3940, records of the object hint at what would have been a violent death. Curiously, no trace of its final explosive moments can be found – but this ghostly silence has only made astronomers all the more excited. "We compared images from old maps of the sky and found one radio source that was no longer visible today in the Very Large Array Sky Survey (VLASS)," says astronomer Casey Law from the University of California, Berkeley. "Looking at the radio source in other old data shows that it lived in a relatively nearby galaxy, and back in the 1990s, it was as luminous as the biggest explosions known, gamma-ray bursts." Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) are the cosmological equivalent to flashes of lightning on the galactic horizon. They're sudden, brilliant, and release of huge amounts of energy in what are effectively the most violent explosions in the Universe. The mechanisms behind these intense surges of light aren't well understood, but they appear to be caused by the final collapse of massive stars as gravity claims victory over their cooling body, or the merging of neutron stars. Though technically rare, they're bright enough for us to detect in other galaxies, giving us plenty of opportunities to spot. In fact, we should expect to see around 500 of them per day, on average. But there is a catch. The sheer amount of energy behind the flash indicates it's most likely in the form of a channelled beam rather than a neatly distributed sphere of bright light. That means we would only see them when those beams are directed right at us, limiting our observations to a paltry one a day. And that's only if we can find them. The discovery of J1419+3940 just might change all that.
What the Maps of Hate Groups Reveal – (Yes Magazine – October 1, 2018)
Organized hate groups span all geographic areas of the United States, from White nationalists in Washington state to neo-Nazis in Alabama to radical traditionalist Catholics in New Hampshire. While persecution of classes of people happens everywhere, the drivers that push people to join hate groups are unique to specific places. In this way, hatred can be a study in geography as much as anything else. A new model tracking organized hate groups upends a long-held, simplistic view of the issue, one that placed a generalized blame on education or immigration, for example, positing that a person’s education level could be a sole indicator of whether they would join a hate group. New research from the University of Utah provides a much more nuanced picture of what gives rise to organized hate groups that can better serve those working to dismantle them. In the Midwest, economics is a more influential factor than immigration. On the East Coast, more religious areas correlate with more per capita hate groups, while education has little influence. Richard Medina, University of Utah assistant professor of geography and lead author of the research, said public perceptions of hate and its motivating factors are often oversimplified. “Drivers of hate are dependent on regions and cultures and all the things we see and study in geography,” he said. “It can be really complicated. People don’t just hate for one reason.” The research used census data to track specific socioeconomic variables, such as population changes over a five-year period, poverty, and education levels. Researchers mapped population percentage of White non-Latinos because places changing from strong racial and ethnic similarity are more likely to experience a negative reaction to change. Poverty is a driver of hate because extremist groups promise the impoverished a way out of financial difficulty or provide a group to blame. The group also measured conservative religious and political ideology. The hate groups were mapped down to the county level in each state. The states with the most hate groups per million people in population were Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Vermont. Comparing the socioeconomic map with the hate group map showed which factors were the strongest indicators in different regions of the country. In general, the research reveals that less diversity, more poverty, less population change, and less education all correlate with more hate groups. But how influential those factors are depends on where you live.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
The First “Social Network” of Brains Lets Three People Transmit Thoughts to Each Other’s Heads – (MIT Technology Review – September 29, 2018)
In recent years, physicists and neuroscientists have developed an armory of tools that can sense certain kinds of thoughts and transmit information about them into other brains. That has made brain-to-brain communication a reality. These tools include electroencephalograms (EEGs) that record electrical activity in the brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can transmit information into the brain. In 2015, Andrea Stocco and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used this gear to connect two people via a brain-to-brain interface. The people then played a 20 questions–type game. An obvious next step is to allow several people to join such a conversation, and now Stocco and his colleagues have announced they have achieved this using a world-first brain-to-brain network. The network, which they call BrainNet, allows a small group to play a collaborative Tetris-like game. The team says the information travels across a bespoke network set up between three rooms in their labs. However, there is no reason why the network cannot be extended to the Internet, allowing participants around the world to collaborate. “A cloud-based brain-to-brain interface server could direct information transmission between any set of devices on the brain-to-brain interface network and make it globally operable through the Internet, thereby allowing cloud-based interactions between brains on a global scale,” Stocco and his colleagues say.
For the First Time, Researchers Will Release Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in Africa – (Stat News – September 5, 2018)
The government of Burkina Faso granted scientists permission to release genetically engineered mosquitoes anytime this year or next. It’s a key step in the broader efforts to use bioengineering to eliminate malaria in the region. The release, which scientists are hoping to execute this month, will be the first time that any genetically engineered animal is released into the wild in Africa. While these particular mosquitoes won’t have any mutations related to malaria transmission, researchers are hoping their release, and the work that led up to it, will help improve the perception of the research and trust in the science among regulators and locals alike. It will also inform future releases. Teams in three African countries — Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda — are building the groundwork to eventually let loose “gene drive” mosquitoes, which would contain a mutation that would significantly and quickly reduce the mosquito population. Genetically engineered mosquitoes have already been released in places like Brazil and the Cayman Islands, though animals with gene drives have never been released in the wild. In Africa, the project’s success depends on more than just the science of genetic engineering. The people who live in the areas where the mosquitoes will be released must give their consent, researchers must staff and maintain labs to work with genetically modified animals, and regulators must accept the new technology. The impending release of these mosquitoes serves as a stress test for the whole system.
Japanese Researchers Develop Ultrathin, Highly Elastic Skin Display – (EurekAlert – February 17, 2018)
A new ultrathin, elastic display that fits snugly on the skin can show the moving waveform of an electrocardiogram recorded by a breathable, on-skin electrode sensor. Combined with a wireless communication module, this integrated biomedical sensor system - called "skin electronics" - can transmit biometric data to the cloud. The research was done by a Japanese academic-industrial collaboration, led by Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Engineering. The newly-developed skin electronics system aims to go a step further by enhancing information accessibility for people such as the elderly or the infirm, who tend to have difficulty operating and obtaining data from existing devices and interfaces. It promises to help ease the strain on home healthcare systems in aging societies through continuous, non-invasive health monitoring and self-care at home. It is built on a novel structure that minimizes the stress resulting from stretching on the juncture of hard materials, such as the micro LEDs, and soft materials, like the elastic wiring - a leading cause of damage for other models. It is the first stretchable display to achieve superior durability and stability in air, such that not a single pixel failed in the matrix-type display while attached snugly onto the skin and continuously subjected to the stretching and contracting motion of the body. The nanomesh skin sensor can be worn on the skin continuously for a week without causing inflammation.
This Humanoid Robot Can (Slowly) Install Drywall All by Itself – (Futurism – October 4, 2018)
Between the powerful equipment, hazardous materials, and often-precarious environments, it’s not all that surprising that construction workers experience frequent injuries. Even worse, of all the people who died on the job in 2016, more than one-fifth were working construction. To prevent those injuries and perhaps even save some lives, various experts have suggested automating construction work. Now, a team of Japanese researchers has created its own construction robot. Researchers from Japan’s Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Institute have unveiled HRP-5P, a humanoid robot that uses a combination of software and sensors. In a demo video, the nearly six-foot-tall construction robot autonomously hangs drywall, using its arms to pick up sheets and pin them into place before affixing them to the wall using power tools. And hanging drywall is just the start — in a press release, the researchers note that future iterations of the robot could tackle any number of construction or assembly tasks on buildings or large aircraft and ships. Not only do HRP-5P’s creators believe the robot could keep construction workers out of dangerous situations, they also think it could help Japan address its labor shortage. (Editor’s note: What this robot cannot do is measure and then cut a piece of drywall to fit a wall space smaller than a whole 8’x4’ sheet, so its use is limited – for now.)
How the US Forced China to Quit Stealing—Using a Chinese Spy – (Wired – October 11, 2018)
For years, China has systematically looted American trade secrets. China has become one of the world’s most advanced economies overnight in no small part through the rampant, state-sponsored theft of intellectual property from other countries. This extended campaign of commercial espionage has raided almost every highly developed economy. (British inventor James Dyson has complained publicly about Chinese theft of designs for his eponymous high-end vacuums.) But far and away its biggest targets have been the trade and military secrets of the United States. From US companies, Chinese hackers and spies have purloined everything from details of wind turbines and solar panels to computer chips and even DuPont’s patented formula for the color white. When American companies have sued Chinese firms for copyright infringement, Chinese hackers have turned around and broken into their law firms’ computer systems to steal details about the plaintiffs’ legal strategy. Each theft has allowed Chinese companies to bypass untold years of precious time and R&D, effectively dropping them into the marathon of global competition at the 20th mile. Here's the messy inside story of how DC got Beijing to clean up its act for a while.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
On The $1 Tool That Might Curb the Overdose Epidemic – (Atlantic – October 3, 2018)
Fentanyl, which is 50 times as potent as heroin, laces many batches of heroin and cocaine, and it is now involved in at least half of all opioid overdose deaths. More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year—the equivalent of about three 747 plane crashes each week. However, there’s evidence that a two-inch fentanyl test strip can help drug users avoid overdosing. When dipped into a drug, the strip reveals—with the presence, or absence, of a red line—whether that drug contains fentanyl. Researchers suspect that if more drug users had access to the strips, they could test their drugs and use less, or possibly not use them at all. For a new study in the International Journal of Drug Policy, researchers from RTI International and the University of California, San Francisco, studied 125 heroin users in Greensboro, North Carolina, to see if the test strips, which were distributed through a local needle-exchange program, would change the way the individuals used their drugs. Through an online survey, 81% of the drug users reported using the strips, and 63% got a positive result for fentanyl. Those who saw the positive result were five times as likely to change the way they used a drug in an effort to avoid overdosing. They might have used less than usual, for example, or snorted it instead of injecting it, which results in less of the drug being absorbed into the bloodstream. A few cities—including Baltimore; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; and Burlington, Vermont—have started providing the test strips alongside clean needles. The California public-health department pays for the distribution of strips through needle exchanges.
JUST FOR FUN
Health Benefits of Cannibalism & Treating Kidney Stones with Roller Coasters - Ig Nobel Prize 2018 – (RT – September 14, 2018)
Harvard’s Sanders Theatre recently hosted the award ceremony of the 28th Ig Nobel Prize, given for the weirdest and funniest scientific research. Some of this year’s laureates did some rather chilling research to win their spots at the event. For example, human cannibalism was studied by James Cole, who proved that eating other people is bad. Not in the sense of breaking a taboo, but in the sense that such a diet provides significantly less calories that most other traditional meat diets. But on the other hand it would help you lose weight. He got the Nutrition Prize for it. The study was based on Paleolithic evidence, not modern-day experiments. Another piece of useful health advice comes from a duo of American researchers, who proved that riding a roller coaster may hasten the passage of kidney stones. Sitting in the back section of the car is best for this purpose, they found out with the help of some 3D-printed kidney models and the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Spanish researchers monitored how and why people shout and curse while driving – an effort that won them the Ig Nobel Peace Prize. The Ig Nobel Prize is organized by the bi-monthly science magazine the Annals of Improbable Research and winner gets the award of $10 trillion. Only it’s Zimbabwean dollars, so about four if paid in US currency.
Powerup Dart – (Powerup Toys – no date)
Bring your favorite “blast from the past” to the present when you turn your paper airplane into a remote-controlled flying machine! Powerup Dart is an app controlled paper airplane that can take off and land from the ground. The paper airplane conversion kit features a crash-resistant design and will give your paper plane a massive 180 ft. range - truly a gravity-defying experience. Equipped with Bluetooth Smart technology, you can control your plane with your smartphone through the power up app (iOS/Android compatible, check powerup website for more details). Two control options: Game-pad mode & Gesture control by tilting your smartphone or tablet right or left for maneuvering and ascend or descend using the throttle lever. Take-off and landing gear included. Website includes demo video clip. (Editor’s note: Yes, this is essentially an ad for a product, but we love the way it reinvents the time-honored paper airplane with smart technology.)
A FINAL QUOTE
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. - Anaïs Nin
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Bobbie Rohn, 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.
Edited by John L. Petersen