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Volume 21, Number 21 - 11/1/18 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • Sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50% over the past four decades.
  • China intends to launch an artificial “moon” satellite to illuminate city streets.
  • US voter records from 19 states for sale on hacking forum.
  • The largest structure ever found in the early Universe Is one million, billion times more massive than the Sun.


PUNCTUATIONS
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.










THINK LINKS



INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

To Fight Fake News on WhatsApp, India is Turning off the Internet – (Wired – October 18, 2018)
Around 500 million people in India are online, second only to China. But internet penetration is still low, with the Pew Research Center finding that only one in four adults in India use the internet. But with cheap data plans and mobile phones bringing more people online, the way information spreads around India is changing. The riot was triggered by rumors a 14-year-old girl had been attacked. On August 25, hundreds of people took to the streets of the small Indian district of Banda, part of the Northern region of Shahjahanpur, in protest at reports a guard had hit her when she tried to set up her market stall outside the local Gurdwara. The action prompted anger from the local Sikh and Hindu communities who faced off. Stones were thrown by the two groups, damaging cars and injuring 12 people. Police officers in helmets and body armour fired tear gas into the crowd to try and regain control. Days later, police brought charges of rioting, damage to public property and arson against 70 people. A peacekeeping meeting between the two religious communities was also held. Then, on August 27, local authorities ordered a shutdown of mobile internet connections in the area from 06:00 until 14:00 to stop the spread of online rumors about the alleged attack and subsequent unrest. But the real target of the shutdown wasn’t the internet as a whole, it was WhatsApp. Fake news and misinformation are intrinsically linked with WhatsApp in India. With 200 million monthly active users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. It is also one of its most problematic. During the last year more than 30 deaths have been linked to rumors circulated through the messaging app. In June 2018 eight people were killed after rumors spread through the app about alleged child kidnappers. "WhatsApp is so important to India’s everyday life," says Allie Funk a research analyst at NGO Freedom House. WhatsApp groups are used to rapidly spread news of what’s happening in local communities and messages are forwarded to multiple users at once. WhatsApp messages have been blamed for creating violent mobs – not unlike the one in Shahjahanpur – that have targeted individuals following the rapid spread of images and videos. When they shut down the internet, Indian authorities aren’t taking aim at broadband connections, they’re aiming their censorship squarely at mobile data connections. A spokesperson for WhatsApp refused to comment on the platform’s part in internet shutdowns in India. “The challenge of mob violence requires government, civil society, and technology companies to work together,” the spokesperson said.



NEW DISCOVERIES

New Study Explores How Dogs Understand Human Language – (Gizmodo – October 16, 2018)
If you’re a dog person who has suspected that your four-legged friend may know exactly what you mean when you use certain words or phrases—for example “toy,” or “car,” or maybe even “who’s the good boy?” (he is)—you may be correct. A new study by scientists at Emory University and published Monday in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience suggests dogs possess a basic understanding of the words they’ve been taught to associate with objects. After training 12 very good dogs of different breeds over the course of two to six months to discern between two toys based on their respective names, the researchers then utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study whether they possessed a basic ability to differentiate between human speech they were taught to remember and new or unfamiliar words. Compared with previous research, this study is exciting because it focuses on whether dogs can understand human speech, rather than words combined with intonation and/or gestures, Emory neuroscientist Gregory Berns, a senior author of the study, said in a statement. “We know that dogs have the capacity to process at least some aspects of human language since they can learn to follow verbal commands,” he said. “Previous research, however, suggests dogs may rely on many other cues to follow a verbal command, such as gaze, gestures and even emotional expressions from their owners.” Interestingly, the way the dogs reacted to novel words is the opposite of how human brains react to words they don’t know. Researchers observed that the dogs displayed greater brain activation to the made-up words than the ones they’d been trained to recognize. “We expected to see that dogs neurally discriminate between words that they know and words that they don’t,” Prichard said. “What’s surprising is that the result is opposite to that of research on humans — people typically show greater neural activation for known words than novel words.” Ultimately, researchers think that dogs may respond to novel words the way they do because they know we want them to understand us, and they want to please us—or perhaps, as Berns said, “also receive praise or food.”

Scientists Discover a Weird Noise Coming From Antarctic Ice Shelf – (Gizmodo – October 16, 2018)
Scientists monitoring the Ross Ice Shelf in West Antarctica have captured an acoustic oddity. Using a series of ultra sensitive seismic sensors, they produced a soundscape that would fit in perfectly at a Halloween haunted house or as the soundtrack to a 1950s B-movie about aliens arriving on Earth. But beyond being spooky, the sounds reveal how numerous processes from winds to warming are changing Antarctica’s ice. Julien Chaput, an ambient noise monitoring expert at Colorado State University and new faculty at University of Texas, El Paso said the records were a “happy accident.” In 2014 researchers were deploying seismic equipment on the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest hunk of floating ice in Antarctica, to study the crust and mantle underneath it. Chaput hopped on board hoping to tease out seasonal changes to the ice shelf’s mass, “and instead found strange spectral anomalies that escaped easy explanations, suggesting high frequency trapped seismic waves in the top couple of meters of snow.” In essence, disturbances on the surface get trapped as seismic waves that ripple through the ice shelf. The team documented those wild waves and released some of the sounds they captured over the course of more than two years of continuous recording (embedded link in article). Those top couple meters of loose snow and ice are called firn, and they’re very vulnerable to what’s going on above the surface, from changes in wind to changes in temperature. And with the sensitive seismic equipment buried below the surface, Chaput was able to intimately document much more than just seasonal shifts. The frequency of the tune changed after storms blew through, which in itself is interesting. But what really stood out is a January 2016 warm spell when temperatures cracked freezing. The pitch of the tune dropped during that stretch, indicating that the snow and bits of ice melted, slowing down the propagation of seismic waves through the firn. More importantly, the pitch drop didn’t reverse itself after temperatures cooled back down, indicating permanent or semi-permanent changes in the firn layer. “Melting of the firn is broadly considered one of the most important factors in the destabilization of an ice shelf, which then accelerates the streaming of ice into the ocean from abutting ice sheets,” Chaput said.



GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Want To Keep Your Brain Sharp? Take Care of Your Eyes And Ears – (NPR – October 22, 2018)
Consider these findings: Researchers tracked about 2,000 older adults in the U.S. both before and after they started using hearing aids. The adults were participants in a big, national study, the Health and Retirement Study. "We found the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 75% following the adoption of hearing aids," says Asri Maharani, a researcher at the University of Manchester in the division of neuroscience and experimental psychology and an author of the paper. "We weren't expecting that hearing aid use would eliminate cognitive decline. That's just not going to happen" because age-related decline is inevitable explains Piers Dawes, an experimental psychologist, and another author of the study. "But the reduction in the rate of change is quite substantial... It's a very intriguing finding," Dawes says. To put the findings in context, consider this: the slower rate of decline equates to remembering less than one more word on the 10 word recall test. So it's a small but measurable effect. And it adds to the evidence that hearing loss and cognitive decline are strongly linked. It makes sense, says Rollins. Consider what people are getting when their hearing is restored: "Stimulating your ears stimulates the nerves that stimulate your brain." And, new evidence shows that restoring vision by having cataract surgery can also slow down cognitive decline. A companion study carried out by the same researchers and published in the journal PLOS One evaluated the outcomes of about 2,000 older adults who had cataract surgery. "We found the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 50% following cataract surgery," explains Maharani. As with the outcome in the hearing aid study, the restoration of good vision can't eliminate cognitive decline, but this study suggests it can significantly slow the process.

Study Documents Paternal Transmission of Epigenetic Memory Via Sperm – (PhyOrg – October 17, 2018)
Studies of human populations and animal models suggest that a father's experiences such as diet or environmental stress can influence the health and development of his descendants. How these effects are transmitted across generations, however, had been mysterious. Susan Strome's lab at UC Santa Cruz has been making steady progress in unraveling the mechanisms behind this phenomenon, using a tiny roundworm called Caenorhabditis elegans to show how marks on chromosomes that affect gene expression, called "epigenetic" marks, can be transmitted from parents to offspring. Epigenetic changes do not alter the DNA sequences of genes, but instead involve chemical modifications to either the DNA itself or the histone proteins with which DNA is packaged in the chromosomes. These modifications influence gene expression, turning genes on or off in different cells and at different stages of development. The idea that epigenetic modifications can cause changes in gene expression that are transmitted from one generation to the next, known as "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance," is now the focus of intense scientific investigation. For many years, it was thought that sperm do not retain any histone packaging and therefore could not transmit histone-based epigenetic information to offspring. Recent studies, however, have shown that about 10% of histone packaging is retained in both human and mouse sperm. When her lab looked at C. elegans sperm, they found the sperm genome fully retains histone packaging. Other researchers had found the same is true for another commonly studied organism, the zebrafish. While the study shows that epigenetic information transmitted by sperm is important for normal development, it does not directly address how the life experience of a father can affect the health of his descendants. Strome's lab is investigating this question with experiments in which worms are treated with alcohol or starved before reproducing.

“Stress Hormone” Cortisol Linked to Early Toll on Thinking Ability – (Scientific American – October 25, 2018)
The stresses of everyday life may start taking a toll on the brain in relatively early middle age, new research shows. The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention. Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The link between high cortisol levels and low performance was particularly strong for women, the study found. But it remains unclear whether women in midlife are under more stress than men or simply more likely to have their stress manifested in higher cortisol levels, says lead researcher Sudha Seshadri, the founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's & Neurodegenerative Diseases at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Even relatively young and apparently well-off people showed signs of brain changes, both in brain scans and in their performance. “This is the range of stress that a group of average Americans would experience,” Seshadri says. The highest cortisol levels were associated with changes that could be seen on an MRI scan of the brain, the study found.




ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

The Biggest Organism on Earth Is Dying, and It's Our Fault – (Gizmodo – October 17, 2018)
The heaviest organism on Earth is a tree—or rather, a system of over 40,000 clonal trees, all connected by their roots. Pando, a 13 million pound organism in central Utah, is believed to have sprouted toward the end of the last Ice Age. But after thousands of years of thriving, Pando has run into trouble. A study published in PLOS One features the first comprehensive examination of the entire 106 acres of clonal aspen forest, and it concludes that Pando isn’t growing. In fact, the forest has been failing to self-reproduce since at least 30 to 40 years ago. “People are at the center of that failure,” People have allowed the local deer and cattle population to thrive, said co-author Paul Rogers, the director of the Western Aspen Alliance at Utah State University who authored a similar study last year on a smaller portion of the Pando. Their voracious grazing has resulted in fewer saplings and a whole lot of old, dying trees. During its analysis, the team couldn’t find any sapling-size trees that didn’t have the tops eaten off. Apex predators like bears, wolves, and mountain lions once kept the mule deer’s population in check, but those are barely around anymore because of hunting. Then, there are ranchers who don’t stop their cattle from grazing on the trees. State and federal officials are the ones who can help remedy this issue, so Rogers blames humans, not animals. “Humans decide on how many animals are there and how they move around,” Rogers said. “Because there are people there recreating and having homes in the area and roads in the area, you’re not allowed to hunt. Because of human presence, deer are more safe, which causes a localized overabundance of the animals.” The Pando’s lack of regrowth became even more evident when the authors’ analyzed aerial photos dating back to 1939. Here, other human impacts became obvious, including clear-cutting for homes or campgrounds. “Nothing ever grew back [in those areas] because of the combination of [people] cutting, and then the deer and cattle browsing,” Rogers said. What the tree system needs is time free of grazers in order to regrow.

There Were 1 Billion Monarch Butterflies. Now There Are 93 Million. – (Esquire – September 26, 2018)
Recently the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus, which is an actual thing, held a bipartisan twilight event that involved the release of 50 monarch butterflies into the darkening sky. It was a nice moment. As Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio, said, "We should all be able to agree on butterflies." The CPPC is serious business. Between the destruction of monarch habitats through pesticides, most notably milkweed, and the ongoing mystery of colony collapse among the bees, American agriculture is endangered. Without agriculture, there is no food, and with pollinators, there is no agriculture. Roughly 99% of all North American monarchs migrate each winter to oyamel fir forests on 12 mountaintops in central Mexico. Scientists estimate the population size by measuring the area of trees turned orange by the clustering butterflies. That population has been dangerously low since 2008. In the mid-1990s the population was estimated at nearly one billion butterflies, but this year’s population is down to approximately 93 million butterflies. This year’s drop is attributed in part to unseasonal weather last year including late spring freezes that killed milkweed and caterpillars, and an unseasonably warm fall that kept late-season monarchs from migrating. Meanwhile, there are actions being undertaken out in the country to help stabilize the monarch population. A plan is in place to plant a billion milkweed stems in the agricultural regions of the midwest, including 100 million in Indiana alone. The monarch's primary role in pollination involves wildflowers and, as Joseph Wood Krutch's warned us years ago, if we don't allow the earth to produce beauty, it will in the end not produce food, either.

Sperm Count Zero – (GQ – September 4, 2018)
Last summer a group of researchers from Hebrew University and Mount Sinai medical school published a study showing that sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50% over the past four decades. (They judged data from the rest of the world to be insufficient to draw conclusions from, but there are studies suggesting that the trend could be worldwide.) The Hebrew University/Mount Sinai paper was a meta-analysis by a team of epidemiologists, clinicians, and researchers that culled data from 185 studies, which examined semen from almost 43,000 men. It showed that the human race is apparently on a trend line toward becoming unable to reproduce itself. Sperm counts went from 99 million sperm per milliliter of semen in 1973 to 47 million per milliliter in 2011, and the decline has been accelerating. If we are half as fertile as the generation before us, why haven't we noticed? One answer is that there is a lot of redundancy built into reproduction: You don't need 200 million sperm to fertilize an egg, but that's how many the average man might devote to the job. Most men can still conceive a child naturally with a depressed sperm count, and those who can't have a booming fertility-treatment industry ready to help them. Almost all the scientists stressed that not only were low sperm counts alarming for what they said about the reproductive future of the species—they were also a warning of a much larger set of health problems facing men. In this view, sperm production is a canary in the coal mine of male bodies. Testosterone levels have also dropped precipitously, with effects beginning in utero and extending into adulthood. Anna-Maria Andersson, a biologist whose research has focused on declining testosterone levels, noted, “There has been a chemical revolution going on starting from the beginning of the 19th century, maybe even a bit before, and exploding after the Second World War, when hundreds of new chemicals came onto the market within a very short time frame.” Suddenly a vast array of chemicals were entering our bloodstream, ones that no human body had ever had to deal with. The chemical revolution gave us some wonderful things: new medicines, new food sources, faster and cheaper mass production of all sorts of necessary products. It also gave us, Andersson pointed out, a living experiment on the human body with absolutely no forethought to the result. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article, which is in the Environment section because the crux of the matter is endocrine disruptors caused in great part by chemicals used in the plastics industry.)

NASA Is Looking at How to Contain a Supervolcano That Could Wipe Out Humanity – (Science Alert – October 7, 2018)
Below Yellowstone National Park, there's a huge magma reservoir that's responsible for all the geysers and hot basins, bubbling away - and it's precisely this reservoir that has the potential to destroy humanity. While the reservoir below Wyoming National Park isn't the only potential supervolcano in the world, Yellowstone is ready to erupt. NASA warns: "Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it's about 600,000 years since it last exploded. That should be making us sit up and pay attention." If Yellowstone were to erupt, it would result in worldwide hunger and a volcanic winter (the cooling of the lower atmosphere). According to UN estimates, an eruption could leave us with just enough food reserves for exactly 74 days. The hotter it gets in the volcano, the more gases it produces. The magma continues to melt and the area above the magma chamber rises - and when the heat exceeds a certain threshold, an explosion is inevitable. So the logical solution would be to cool the supervolcano. To cool the volcano, you need very large amounts of water that, in theory, you would have to feed into the volcano, but implementation is virtually impossible. NASA has an alternative solution: drill 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep into the supervolcano and pump water down under high pressure. This would slowly lower the temperature day by day. Above all, it is important to drill into the sides of the volcano instead of directly at the tip of the magma reservoir, because drilling there could even accelerate the eruption of the volcano. The catch is that the plan comes with a hefty pricetag: US$3.46 billion. This plan in particular also has one other advantage: "Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around US$0.10/kWh."



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

There May Soon Be Three Internets. America’s Won’t Necessarily Be the Best. – (New York Times – October 15, 2018)
In September, Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive and Alphabet chairman, said that in the next 10 to 15 years, the internet would most likely be split in two — one internet led by China and one internet led by the United States. Mr. Schmidt did not seem to seriously entertain the possibility that the internet would remain global. He’s correct to rule out that possibility — if anything, the flaw in Mr. Schmidt’s thinking is that he too quickly dismisses the European internet that is coalescing around the European Union’s ever-heightening regulation of technology platforms. All signs point to a future with three internets. There’s a world of difference between the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, known commonly as G.D.P.R., and China’s technologically enforced censorship regime, often dubbed “the Great Firewall.” But all three spheres — Europe, America and China — are generating sets of rules, regulations and norms that are beginning to rub up against one another. What’s more, the actual physical location of data has increasingly become separated by region, with data confined to data centers inside the borders of countries with data localization laws. The information superhighway cracks apart more easily when so much of it depends on privately owned infrastructure. An error at Amazon Web Services created losses of service across the web in 2017; a storm disrupting a data center in Northern Virginia created similar failures in 2012. These were unintentional blackouts; the corporate custodians of the internet have it within their power to do far more. Of course, nobody wants to turn off the internet completely — that wouldn’t make anyone money. But when a single company with huge market share chooses to comply with a law — or more worryingly, a mere suggestion from the authorities — a large chunk of the internet ends up falling in line. Google is working on a search engine for China known as Dragonfly. Its launch will be conditional on the approval of Chinese officials and will therefore comply with stringent censorship requirements. An internal memo written by one of the engineers on the project described surveillance capabilities built into the engine — namely by requiring users to log in and then tracking their browsing histories. This data will be accessible by an unnamed Chinese partner, presumably the government. If the future of the internet is a tripartite cold war, Silicon Valley wants to be making money in all three of those worlds.

5G Network Uses Same EMF Waves as Pentagon Crowd Control System – (Natural Blaze – October 7, 2018)
The global rollout of 5G is well underway, and we soon may see new small cell towers near all schools, on every residential street, dispersed throughout the natural environment, and pretty much everywhere. But the safety of this technology is in serious question, and there is a raging battle to stop the taxpayer funded implementation of 5G. 5G applications will require unlocking of new spectrum bands in higher frequency ranges above 6 GHz to 100 GHz and beyond, utilizing submillimeter and millimeter waves – to allow ultra-high rates of data to be transmitted in the same amount of time as compared with previous deployments of microwave radiation. Among the many potential problems with exposure to 5G radio waves are issues with the skin, which is interesting when you consider that this technology is already being used in the military for crowd control purposes. The U.S. military has developed a non-lethal crowd control weapon system called the Active Denial System (ADS). It uses radio frequency millimeter waves in the 95GHz range to penetrate the top 1/64 of an inch layer of skin on the targeted individual, instantly producing an intolerable heating sensation that causes them to flee. Russian, and Chinese defense agencies have been active in developing weapons that rely on the capability of this electromagnetic technology to create burning sensations on the skin, for crowd control.

The Future of Photography Is Code – (Tech Crunch – October 22, 2018)
While the physical components of a camera are still improving bit by bit, Google, Samsung and Apple are increasingly investing in (and showcasing) improvements wrought entirely from code. Computational photography is the only real battleground now. The reason for this shift is pretty simple: Cameras can’t get too much better than they are right now, or at least not without some rather extreme shifts in how they work. Here’s how smartphone makers hit the wall on photography, and how they were forced to jump over it. Because of the fundamental limitations in play, there’s no way Apple or Samsung can reinvent the camera or come up with some crazy lens structure that puts them leagues ahead of the competition. They’ve all been given the same basic foundation. All competition therefore comprises what these companies build on top of that foundation.

Undercover Cops Break Facebook Rules to Track Protesters, Ensnare Criminals – (NBC News – October 5, 2018)
Police officers around the country, in departments large and small, working for federal, state and local agencies, use undercover Facebook accounts to watch protesters, track gang members, lure child predators and snare thieves, according to court records, police trainers and officers themselves. Some maintain several of these accounts at a time. The tactic violates Facebook’s terms of use, and the company says it disables fake accounts whenever it discovers them. But that is about all it can do: Fake accounts are not against the law, and the information gleaned by the police can be used as evidence in criminal and civil cases. Investigators know this, which is why the accounts continue to flourish. “Every high-tech crime unit has one,” said an officer who uses an undercover account to monitor gang members and drug dealers in New Jersey and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid having the account exposed or shut down. “It’s not uncommon, but we don’t like to talk about it too much.” Judges in New Jersey and Delaware have upheld investigators’ use of fake social media profiles. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Cincinnati Police Department and the Chicago Police Department have publicly boasted of using undercover Facebook accounts in cases against accused child predators, gangs and gun traffickers. Following an outcry after a Drug Enforcement Administration agent created a fake Facebook account in a suspect’s name to catch members of a drug ring, the Department of Justice promised in 2014 to review the agency’s policies ─ but the department did not respond to multiple requests to say what has changed. Several law enforcement agencies, including the New York Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, have policies that explicitly allow the creation of fake profiles, with some conditions ─ including obtaining prior approval from a superior and limiting interactions with targets.”





SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

China to Launch Artificial Moon to Illuminate City Streets – (Al Jazeera – October 19, 2018)
China is planning to launch its own 'artificial moon' by 2020 to replace streetlamps and lower electricity costs in urban areas, state media has reported. Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan province, is developing "illumination satellites" which will shine in tandem with the real moon but are eight times brighter, according to China Daily. The first man-made moon will launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, with three more to follow in 2022 if the first test goes well, said Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society, the organization responsible for the project. By reflecting light from the sun, the satellites could replace streetlamps in urban areas, saving an estimated 1.2bn yuan ($170m) a year in electricity costs for Chengdu, if the man-made moons illuminate an area of 50 square kilometers.





ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Cheaper Battery Is Unveiled as a Step to a Carbon-Free Grid – (New York Times – September 26, 2018)
Lithium-ion batteries have become essential for powering electric cars and storing energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines. But their drawbacks are also by now familiar: They use scarce minerals, are vulnerable to fires and explosions, and are pricey. A plentiful, safe and more affordable alternative would be worth a lot. Now, an energy company headed by the California billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong announced that it had developed a rechargeable battery operating on zinc and air that can store power at far less than the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Tests of the zinc energy-storage systems have helped power villages in Africa and Asia as well as cellphone towers in the United States for the last six years, without any backup from utilities or the electric grid, Dr. Soon-Shiong said. The battery units, in conjunction with solar arrays, can be combined to create a microgrid system powering a village or a larger area, Dr. Soon-Shiong said. They have been deployed to support 110 villages in nine countries in Asia and Africa — including places that otherwise relied on generators or even lacked electricity. Dr. Soon-Shiong and his company, NantEnergy, developed the technology with support from the World Bank.





TRANSPORTATION

TSA Lays Out Plans to Use Facial Recognition for Domestic Flights – (The Verge – October 15, 2018)
The airport security experience is about to see facial recognition technology taking on a bigger role, as TSA released its roadmap to use biometrics technology in the coming years. Customs and Border Protection has been using facial recognition to screen non-US residents on international flights since 2015, a project that was expedited by the Trump administration. Last year, the US government laid out its plans to start expanding the screening tools to US citizens, which would require them to undergo facial scans when they leave the country through a system called the Biometric Pathway. Today’s news lays out how the TSA will adopt the same technology, partnering with CBP on biometrics for international travelers, expanding security operations to TSA Precheck members, and eventually, using facial recognition to verify domestic travelers. Some of those efforts are already underway. TSA has been testing fingerprint technology in the Precheck lane at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) since June 2017, which matches travelers to the fingerprints they provided when first enrolling in TSA Precheck.





AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Eating with Your Eyes: Virtual Reality Can Alter Taste – (EurekAlert – October 15, 2018)
Humans not only relish the sweet, savory and saltiness of foods, but they are influenced by the environment in which they eat. Cornell University food scientists used virtual reality to show how people's perception of real food can be altered by their surroundings, according to research published in the Journal of Food Science. "When we eat, we perceive not only just the taste and aroma of foods, we get sensory input from our surroundings - our eyes, ears, even our memories about surroundings," said Robin Dando, associate professor of food science and senior author of the study. About 50 panelists who used virtual reality headsets as they ate were given three identical samples of blue cheese. The study participants were virtually placed in a standard sensory booth, a pleasant park bench and the Cornell cow barn to see custom-recorded 360-degree videos. The panelists were unaware that the cheese samples were identical, and rated the pungency of the blue cheese significantly higher in the cow barn setting than in the sensory booth or the virtual park bench. The purpose of this project was to develop an easy-to-implement and affordable method for adapting virtual reality technology for use in food sensory evaluation. "This research validates that virtual reality can be used, as it provides an immersive environment for testing. Visually, virtual reality imparts qualities of the environment itself to the food being consumed - making this kind of testing cost-efficient," said Dando.

Inside Silicon Valley’s Newest, Most Autonomous Farm Yet – (Fast Company – October 3, 2018)
Inside a former commercial warehouse in San Carlos, California, a robotic arm is carefully transplanting tiny sorrel plants from one large tray to another. In another corner of the room, a larger robot sits ready to carry other trays–filled with romaine lettuce, bok choy, cilantro, and more than two dozen other types of greens–over to the robotic arm. At the moment, there are no people in the room: This is the headquarters of Iron Ox, which bills itself as the world’s first fully autonomous farm. “We designed the entire process, from the beginning, around robotics,” says Iron Ox co-founder and CEO Brandon Alexander, who previously worked at X, Alphabet’s so-called moonshot factory, and the robotics lab Willow Garage. “It required us pretty much going back to the drawing board to see what we could do if robots were in the loop.” The startup aims to make fresh, pesticide-free produce accessible everywhere. Like other indoor farms, it wants to grow greens locally to change the fact that spinach or lettuce often travels 2,000 miles to get to consumers. But it also wants to use the maximum amount of automation to make that local produce as affordable as possible. A hydroponic growing system, with no soil, uses 90% less water than traditional farming. The robotic system saves labor costs, since the robots can handle planting crops, adding nutrients, transplanting the plants as they grow, and harvesting and packaging the greens for consumers; the whole system, down to the pots that hold plants, was optimized to work with robots. By moving the plants from tray to tray–with baby plants growing in a tightly spaced pattern–the system can also make use of limited room. In the current 1,000-square-foot farm, the startup says it can grow 26,000 heads of lettuce and other greens and herbs per year, or about 30 times more than could be grown in a one-acre outdoor farm.




SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Amazon Worker Pushes Bezos to Stop Selling Facial Recognition Tech to Law Enforcement – (The Hill – October 16, 2018)
An anonymous worker, whose employment at Amazon was verified by Medium, published an op-ed on that platform criticizing the company’s facial recognition work and urging the company to respond to an open letter delivered by a group of employees. The employee wrote that the government has used surveillance tools in a way that disproportionately hurts “communities of color, immigrants, and people exercising their First Amendment rights.” “Ignoring these urgent concerns while deploying powerful technologies to government and law enforcement agencies is dangerous and irresponsible,” the person wrote. “That’s why we were disappointed when Teresa Carlson, vice president of the worldwide public sector of Amazon Web Services, recently said that Amazon ‘unwaveringly supports’ law enforcement, defense, and intelligence customers, even if we don’t ‘know everything they’re actually utilizing the tool for.’” The op-ed comes after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos defended technology companies working with the federal government on matters of defense during Wired’s ongoing summit in San Francisco. Bezos said that if a technology is misused, societies ultimately solve the issue before things go too far. Amazon workers said in their letter that this type of attitude could hurt people down the line. “On stage, he acknowledged that big tech’s products might be misused, even exploited, by autocrats,” the worker wrote. “But rather than meaningfully explain how Amazon will act to prevent the bad uses of its own technology, Mr. Bezos suggested we wait for society’s 'immune response.'” A group of over 400 employees signed a letter in June urging Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software to law enforcement and working with Palantir, which provides digital services to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Other companies, including Salesforce and Microsoft, have faced similar backlash from their workers over contracts with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.

What Is the Real Cost of Mass Incarceration? – (Yes – October 24, 2018)
Milwaukee 53206 is an hour long film demonstrating how the human cost of mass incarceration plays out in one devastated ZIP code in Wisconsin’s largest city. As the documentary reveals, 62% of men who live in the ZIP code spend time in prison by age 34. And the state, it points out, has the highest concentration of incarcerated Black men in the country. The film illustrates the toll on children, spouses, and entire communities by telling the Walker family story; of Baron Walker’s effort to remain connected to them while still in prison, helping the children with their homework, researching employment leads and medical problems for family members, while they marked life’s important milestones without him, serving time right along with him. When documentary producers first approached Beverly Walker about featuring her family in a film, the Milwaukee mother and grandmother knew what that meant: cameras trailing them, her cherished privacy breached. But her husband, Baron Walker, by then having served nearly two decades of a 60-year sentence, saw an opportunity. “I thought it could be quite helpful, though at the moment I didn’t know to what extent,” says Baron, who had been sentenced in 1996 for being party to a pair of bank robberies. “In prison you have no voice…. This movie, I realized, could be that voice…” Baron Walker couldn’t have known then that it would eventually lead to his release.

Cyber Tests Showed 'Nearly All' New Pentagon Weapons Vulnerable To Attack, GAO Says – (NPR – October 9, 2018)
Passwords that took seconds to guess, or were never changed from their factory settings. Cyber vulnerabilities that were known, but never fixed. Those are two common problems plaguing some of the Department of Defense's newest weapons systems, according to the Government Accountability Office. The flaws are highlighted in a new GAO report, which found the Pentagon is "just beginning to grapple" with the scale of vulnerabilities in its weapons systems. Drawing data from cybersecurity tests conducted on Department of Defense weapons systems from 2012 to 2017, the report says that by using "relatively simple tools and techniques, testers were able to take control of systems and largely operate undetected" because of basic security vulnerabilities. The GAO says the problems were widespread: "DOD testers routinely found mission critical cyber vulnerabilities in nearly all weapon systems that were under development." When weapons program officials were asked about the weaknesses, the GAO says, they "believed their systems were secure and discounted some test results as unrealistic." At this point, the report states, "DOD does not know the full scale of its weapon system vulnerabilities." Part of the reason for the ongoing uncertainty, the GAO says, is that the Defense Department's hacking and cyber tests have been "limited in scope and sophistication." One issue facing the Pentagon, the GAO says, is the loss of key personnel who are lured by lucrative offers to work in the private sector after they've gained cybersecurity experience. The most capable workers – experts who can find vulnerabilities and detect advanced threats – can earn "above $200,000 to $250,000 a year" in the private sector, the GAO reports, citing a Rand study from 2014. That kind of salary, the agency adds, "greatly exceeds DOD's pay scale."




TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

US Voter Records from 19 States Sold on Hacking Forum – (ZD Net – October 15, 2018)
The voter information for approximately 35 million US citizens is being peddled on a popular hacking forum, two threat intelligence firms have discovered. "To our knowledge this represents the first reference on the criminal underground of actors selling or distributing lists of 2018 voter registration data," said researchers from Anomali Labs and Intel471, the two companies who spotted the forum ad. The two companies said they've reviewed a sample of the database records and determined the data to be valid with a "high degree of confidence." Researchers say the data contains details such as full name, phone numbers, physical addresses, voting history, and other voting-related information. It is worth noting that some states consider this data public and offer it for download for free, but not all states have this policy. The seller revealed the voter records count for only three of the databases --Louisiana (3 million), Wisconsin (6 million), and Texas (14 million)-- totaling 23 million records. He is asking for $42,200 for all 19 databases. Users commenting on the forum suggested this might be the data that was leaked in the Robocent incident in June, but the person who's selling the voter data claimed that "data is refreshed each Monday of every week," suggesting that he either still has access to the compromised servers or a way to receive these updates through other means. "Certain states require the seller to personally travel to locations in-state to receive the updated voter information. This suggests the breach is not necessarily a technical compromise but rather an extensive operation involving cooperation within the election organizations," the Anomali Labs team pointed out.

Accounting Board Okays Deceptive Budget Practices – (Federation of American Scientists – October 9, 2018)
Government agencies may remove or omit budget information from their public financial statements and may present expenditures that are associated with one budget line item as if they were associated with another line item in order to protect classified information, the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASB) recently concluded. Under the newly approved standard, government agencies may “modify information required by other [financial] standards” in their public financial statements, omit otherwise required information, and misrepresent the actual spending amounts associated with specific line items so that classified information will not be disclosed. (Accurate and complete accounts are to be maintained separately so that they may be audited in a classified environment.) See Classified Activities, Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS) 56, Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, October 2018. The new policy was favored by national security agencies as a prudent security measure, but it was opposed by some government overseers and accountants. Properly classified information should be redacted, not misrepresented, said the accounting firm Kearney & Company. The new policy, which extends deceptive budgeting practices that have long been employed in intelligence budgets, means that public budget documents must be viewed critically and with a new degree of skepticism. A classified signals intelligence program dubbed “Vesper Lillet” that recently became the subject of a fraud indictment was ostensibly sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, but in reality it involved a joint effort of the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Biohackers Are Implanting Everything from Magnets to Sex Toys - (Bloomberg – October 19, 2018)
Patrick Kramer, the chief executive officer of Digiwell, a Hamburg startup in what aficionados call body hacking—digital technology inserted into people. Kramer says he’s implanted about 2,000 such chips in the past 18 months, and he has three in his own hands: to open his office door, store medical data, and share his contact information. Digiwell is one of a handful of companies offering similar services, and biohacking advocates estimate there are about 100,000 cyborgs worldwide. “The question isn’t ‘Do you have a microchip?’  ” Kramer says. “It’s more like, ‘How many?’ We’ve entered the mainstream.” Research house Gartner Inc. identified do-it-yourself biohacking as one of five technology trends—others include artificial intelligence and blockchain—with the potential to disrupt businesses. The human augmentation market, which includes implants as well as bionic limbs and fledgling computer-brain connections, will grow more than tenfold, to $2.3 billion, by 2025, as industries as diverse as health care, defense, sports, and manufacturing adopt such technologies, researcher OG Analysis predicts. A Spanish dancer named Moon Ribas has a chip in her arm connected to seismic sensors, which is triggered when there are tremors anywhere on the planet. She uses it in a performance art piece called Waiting for Earthquakes. Neil Harbisson, a colorblind artist from Northern Ireland, has an antennalike sensor in his head that lets him “hear” colors. And Rich Lee, from St. George, Utah, has spent about $15,000 developing a cyborg sex toy he calls the Lovetr on 9000, a vibrating device to be implanted in the pelvis. Lee hasn’t sold (or used) the Lovetron yet, but he’s got magnetic implants in his fingertips to pick up metal objects, two microchips in his hands that can send messages to phones, and a biothermal sensor in his forearm to measure temperature. Biohacking raises a host of ethical issues, particularly about data protection and cybersecurity as virtually every tech gadget risks being hacked or manipulated. And implants can even become cyberweapons, with the potential to send malicious links to others. “You can switch off and put away an infected smartphone, but you can’t do that with an implant,” says Friedemann Ebelt, an activist with Digitalcourage, a German data privacy and internet rights group. Those concerns haven’t stopped some businesses from embracing biohacks. Tesla Inc. founder Elon Musk, who says people must become cyborgs to stay relevant, has raised at least $27 million for Neuralink Corp., a startup developing brain-computer interfaces.

The Rich White Civil War – (New York Times – October 15, 2018)
Every few years one research group or another produces a typology of the electorate. The researchers conduct thousands of interviews and identify the different clusters American voters fall into. More in Common has just completed a large such typology. It’s one of the best I’ve seen because it understands that American politics is no longer about what health care plan you support. It’s about identity, psychology, moral foundations and the dynamics of tribal resentment. The report, “Hidden Tribes,” breaks Americans into seven groups, from left to right, with names like Traditional Liberals, Moderates, Politically Disengaged and so on. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most active groups are on the extremes — Progressive Activists on the left (8% of Americans) and Devoted Conservatives on the right (6%). These two groups are the richest of all the groups. They are the whitest of the groups. Their members have among the highest education levels, and they report high levels of personal security. We sometimes think of this as a populist moment. But that’s not true. My first big takeaway from “Hidden Tribes” is that our political conflict is primarily a rich, white civil war. It’s between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives. My second big takeaway from the report is that ideas really do drive history. Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives organize around coherent philosophical narratives. This philosophical dispute is not new. There have always been some people who thought we need hierarchical structures to keep us safe and others who thought we need to be emancipated from oppressive structures so we can be free. What is new is how cultish this dispute has become. The good news is that once you get outside these two elite groups you find a lot more independent thinking and flexibility. This is not a 50-50 nation. It only appears that way when disenchanted voters are forced to choose between the two extreme cults. Roughly two-thirds of Americans, across four political types, fall into what the authors call “the exhausted majority.” Sixty-one percent say people they agree with need to listen and compromise more. Eighty percent say political correctness is a problem, and 82% say the same about hate speech.

Republicans and Democrats Don’t Just Disagree about Politics. They Have Different Sexual Fantasies. – (Politico – October 27, 2018)
In this political environment, it’s easy to look at Republicans and Democrats as having next to nothing in common. Regardless of the issue at hand, we see them as wanting completely different things—especially when it comes to issues of sex and sexuality. From differences in the way they have approached the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to their views on abortion and same-sex marriage, Democrats and Republicans appear worlds apart. It’s not just their public policy positions that seem to differ wildly, though. According to the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies ever conducted in the United States, it would appear that there are also political differences in our private sexual fantasies. The author of this article surveyed 4,175 adult Americans from all 50 states about what turns them on and published the findings in a book entitled Tell Me What You Want. As part of this survey, participants were given a list of hundreds of different people, places and things that might be a turn-on. For each one, they reported on how frequently they fantasized about it. One of the more intriguing things the research uncovered was the political divide in our fantasy worlds.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Anomalously Huge Planets Have Been Detected Orbiting a Bafflingly Young Star – (Science Alert – October 16, 2018)
A wee baby star at the tender age of just 2 million years has revealed itself to be quite the precocious little cosmic object. Astronomers have discovered it has not one, but four planets in the protoplanetary disc of dust and gas that surrounds it - and they are all gargantuan, with the biggest coming in at 11 times the mass of Jupiter, and the smallest about the mass of Saturn. Moreover, their orbits are incredibly distant. The outermost is more than 1,000 times the distance from the star than the innermost. That's the most extreme range of orbits ever observed in a planetary system; Pluto, for context, is only around 102 times the distance from the Sun as Mercury. The star is named CI Tau, located around 500 light-years away in a star-forming region of the constellation of Taurus, and it's been a bit of a brain teaser since 2016. That's when the first of its planets - the largest of the four, the super-Jupiter named CI Tau b - was discovered, orbiting really close to the star, completing a full orbit every 9 days. Because it's so close, it's what is known as a "hot Jupiter," which is a type of planet that shouldn't exist according to current models of planetary formation. That's because gas giants can't form that close to their host star - gravity, radiation and stellar winds prevent the gas from coalescing. Yet exist they do, seen orbiting about 1% of stars. One explanation for their existence is that hot Jupiters start to form much farther out, then migrate inwards - but the estimated timescale for this is hundreds of millions of years, not two. If astronomers could find a similar system, it could help explain what's going on - whether, for example, the outer planets played a role in driving the two Jupiter-mass planets closer towards the star. (It's worth noting that our Solar System is a bit of an odd duck with the placement of its gas giants.) As for the two outer planets, they're also unlike anything we've seen.

Meet Hyperion: Largest Structure Ever Found in the Early Universe Is One Million, Billion Times More Massive Than the Sun – (Daily Mail – October 17, 2018)
Astronomers have discovered an enormous structure in the distant universe thought to be one million, billion times more massive than the sun. The huge object, dubbed Hyperion, is a proto-supercluster of galaxies that formed just 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was still young. Hyperion sits in the constellation Sextans, and is said to have a complex structure that differentiates it from nearby superclusters of similar size. It is home to at least 7 high-density regions connected by filaments of galaxies, according to the researchers. Experts say the find is surprising given Hyperion’s staggering mass and size at such an early point in the universe’s history. ‘Superclusters closer to Earth tend to a much more concentrated distribution of mass with clear structural features,’ says Brian Lemaux, an astronomer from University of California, Davis and LAM. ‘But in Hyperion, the mass is distributed much more uniformly in a series of connected blobs, populated by loose associations of galaxies.’



STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

Student-Loan Debt Is Bringing on Millennial Class War – (Vice – October 24, 2018)
(Note: The title of this article greatly overstates the content, but it still provides some useful data points.) To what degree does student debt affect millennials' ability to obtain and grow wealth? MagnifyMoney, an independent service that compares financial products and is affiliated with the loan marketplace LendingTree, recently analyzed 2016 data from the Federal Reserve and estimated the average millennial with student debt had 75 percent less net worth than their debt-free peers. Though many of the stats they calculated might have been skewed by extremes—think people with debt loads of $200,000 and trust-fund kids worth seven figures—they were able to reach some pretty startling conclusions. For instance, the median net bank account balance (checking and savings) of all grads under 35 who had loans, they found, was $5,500, while it was some $10,180 for those who didn't. Brian Karimzad, is MagnifyMoney's co-founder and head of research. So what's the most meaningful difference between those with loans and without? Karimzad notes, the one that's really most costly is when you look at the retirement savings. On that side, the average grad under 35 with debt has around $21,000 in retirement savings. Someone who doesn't have student loans has an average of almost $40,000. People with student loans actually have about the same home-ownership rate as people without them. At least so far the data is showing, people are not particularly delaying home ownership because of student loans. So 34% of people with the loans are homeowners, and 36% without them are homeowners. The difference is in the size and value of the house they buy. The median for people with loans is $157,000 and for those without them it's $165,000. So about 5% less, which is interesting. It also basically comes down to people with student loans are putting less money down. See also: These Americans fled the country to escape their giant student debt.

Spain Will Have the World's Longest Life Expectancy in the Next 20 Years — and the US Will Fall behind China in the Rankings – (Business Insider – October 19, 2018)
Japan will soon lose its long-standing title as the country with the longest life expectancy. According to a study published in the journal Lancet, Spain is on track to overtake Japan by 2040. Its 85.8-year life expectancy will just surpass the 85.7-year life expectancy in Japan and the 85.4-year average in Singapore. The remainder of the top 10 will feature Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Israel, France, Luxembourg, and Australia, according to the study. Globally, the average rise in life expectancy between 2016 and 2040 is estimated to be 4.4 years, though the US will be far below. Americans' average life expectancy will go up only 1.1 years to 79.8, and the US will drop from 43rd to 64th place in world rankings. China, which had a life expectancy of 76.3 years in 2016, is predicted to hit an average of 81.9 years by 2040. The increase would put China in 39th place.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

This Thermometer Tells Your Temperature, Then Tells Firms Where to Advertise – (New York Times – October 23, 2018)
Most of what we do — the websites we visit, the places we go, the TV shows we watch, the products we buy — has become fair game for advertisers. Now, thanks to internet-connected devices in the home like smart thermometers, ads we see may be determined by something even more personal: our health. This flu season, Clorox paid to license information from Kinsa, a tech start-up that sells internet-connected thermometers that are a far cry from the kind once made with mercury and glass. The thermometers sync up with a smartphone app that allows consumers to track their fevers and symptoms, making it especially attractive to parents of young children. The data showed Clorox which ZIP codes around the country had increases in fevers. The company then directed more ads to those areas, assuming that households there may be in the market for products like its disinfecting wipes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends disinfecting surfaces to help prevent the flu or its spread. Kinsa, a San Francisco company that has raised about $29 million from venture capitalists like Kleiner Perkins since it was founded in 2012, says its thermometers are in more than 500,000 American households. It has promoted the usefulness of its “illness data,” which it says is aggregated and contains no identifying personal information before being passed along to other companies.

AI Will Impact 100% of Jobs, Professions, and Industries, Says IBM's Ginni Rometty – (ZD Net – October 16, 2018)
Businesses have entered the most rapid period of technological change in history, and artificial intelligence (AI) is on the cusp of revolutionizing the entire workforce, said Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and CEO of IBM. "The pace is unabated," Rometty said. "You have to change the way you work, because this isn't going to stop." "This is not a technology issue, this is a change management issue," she added. "This is about changing how people do their work." IBM has particularly learned this through Watson's work in healthcare she added. Doctors see patients for only a short period of the day. Giving them more technology won't be useful, she said--instead, you have to change their workflow. Another major AI implementation issue to grapple with is trust, Rometty said. Companies must use AI in a way that is explainable and free from bias. Rometty laid out the following three principles that guide IBM's work with AI: The purpose of these new technologies is to augment man; Data belongs to its owner and creator; and new technologies need to be explainable.

Why Gene Therapy Will Create So Many Jobs – (BBC News – October 15,2018)
A 44-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, who has lived with a rare, life-threatening genetic condition known as Hunter’s Syndrome since birth, last November became the first person in the world to undergo a new type of treatment that edits genes inside his body. Minute “molecular scissors” were added to his bloodstream to snip the DNA in his liver cells and insert a gene to repair the defective one he has carried all his life. "We are at the start of a new frontier of genomic medicine," says Sandy Macrae, chief executive of Sangamo Therapeutics, the biotechnology firm developing the treatment. While it is still too soon to determine how successful the editing of this patient’s genome has been, it marks a milestone in a new field of science that is widely predicted to revolutionize medicine. As more treatments that rely on gene editing move from research laboratories into hospitals around the world, the demand for the skilled genetic engineers who make it possible is expected to soar. The UK government predicts there could be more than 18,000 new jobs created by gene and cell therapy in Britain alone by 2030, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates it will see a 7% increase in jobs for biomedical engineers and a 13% increase in medical scientists, together accounting for around 17,500 jobs. But there will also be a need for people away from the laboratory bench, including those who can help make sense of the huge amounts of data that will be generated as medical treatment becomes increasingly personalized to patients’ individual genomes. According to some projections, the global genome editing market is expected to double in size over the five years from 2017 to reach a value of $6.28bn. Earlier this year, the UK government announced it was investing $76m into a new cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre to help speed up the development of new treatments. In the US, the National Human Genome Research Institute predicts there will be a “considerable” increase in demand for employees in tandem with this growth.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Quantum Mechanics Has a Lesson for Our Polarized Society: Two Contradictory Things Can Still Be True. – (LA Times – October 21, 2018)
I could hardly believe what I was hearing: Trevor Noah was teaching his “Daily Show” audience quantum mechanics. “People struggle to understand that two things can be contradictory and true at the same time.” Noah’s context was the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings and Bill Cosby’s sentencing for sexual assault. He was talking about “good people” accused of doing bad things, making the point that it’s entirely possible to be a sexual abuser and an otherwise great guy. Opposites coexist. This is hard to wrap our minds around; psychologists say these kinds of discomforting contradictions give rise “cognitive dissonance”— an icky feeling we try to dispel, usually by deciding that one or the other is true. Physics has a different answer: This is how nature works. As the father of quantum mechanics, Danish Nobelist Niels Bohr, put it: “The opposite of a shallow truth is false; but the opposite of a deep truth is also true.” Relativity — with quantum mechanics, the other pillar of fundamental physics — comes to a similar, and just as paradoxical, conclusion: The same situation can look very different from a different frame of reference, so different that it may be hard to believe that it can also be true. However, neither is the full story. The takeaway here is enormously powerful in today’s polarized world. We’re all too complicated to be pushed into corners, described as any one thing. Polarization turns opposite perspectives into heresy, never useful insights. Unquestioning faith in technology made us blind to the destructive side of social media. Unquestioning faith in faith got us the Inquisition and, now, the single-issue, antiabortion voters who, we’re told, are the reason Kavanaugh had to win a high court seat. This devotion to “our side” is making us stupid. It’s also allowing “good people” to get away with doing very bad things. And yes, that means all of us — because we’re all quite adept at casting ourselves as the “good guy.” Nature accepts opposites with grace. It’s time we followed her lead. As Bohr said: “The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all the evil that is in the world.”



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

The Bad Behavior of the Richest: What I Learned from Wealth Managers – (Guardian – October 19, 2018)
If nearly a decade interviewing the wealth managers for the 1% taught me anything, it is that the ultra-rich and the ultra-poor have a lot more in common than stereotypes might lead you to believe. (That statement is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but here goes.) In conversation, wealth managers kept coming back to the flamboyant vices of their clients. Indeed, an underappreciated irony of accelerating economic inequality has been the way it has exposed behaviors among the ultra-rich that mirror the supposed “pathologies” of the ultra-poor. In fact, one of the London-based wealth managers I interviewed said that a willingness to accept with equanimity behavior that would be considered outrageous in others was an informal job requirement. Clients, he said, specifically chose wealth managers not just on technical competence, but on their ability to remain unscandalized by the private lives of the ultra-rich: “They [the clients] have to pick someone they want to know everything about them: about Mother’s lesbian affairs, Brother’s drug addiction, the spurned lovers bursting into the room.” Many of these clients are not employed and live off family largesse, but no one calls them lazy. Many of the 1% even present themselves as homeless – for tax purposes – despite owning multiple residences. For the ultra-rich, having no fixed residence provides major legal and financial advantages; this is exemplified by the case of the wealthy businessman who acquired eight different nationalities in order to avoid taxes on his fortune, and by the UK native I interviewed in his Dubai apartment building: “I am not tax resident anywhere. The tax man says ‘show me a utility bill’, and the only utility bill I can present is for the house I own in Thailand, and it’s in a language that the European authorities aren’t familiar with. With all the mobility going on in the world, international marriages, governments can’t keep up with people.” Meanwhile, the poor can end up being “resident nowhere” because no one will allow them to stay in one place for very long; as the sociologist Cristobal Young has shown, the majority of migrants are poor people. In addition, the poor are routinely evicted from housing on the slightest pretext, frequently driving them into homeless shelters – which are in turn forced to move when local homeowners engage in nimby (not in my back yard) protests. Even the design of public spaces is increasingly organized to deny the poor a place to alight, however temporarily.



JUST FOR FUN

Michael Moschen Performs "The Triangle" – (YouTube – Novermber 26, 2007)
If your recall of plane geometry is a bit rusty, here’s a charming brushup on the properties of an equilateral triangle.



A FINAL QUOTE

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy. – Albert Einstein



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.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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Edited by John L. Petersen
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