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Feb 18, 2020

Is It Too Soon to Consider Genome Sequencing for Newborns?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, health

Newborn screening covers more than 30 conditions. Yet, with genome sequencing, we could screen newborns for several thousand genetic conditions.

In the surveys’ open-ended responses about risks of genome sequencing, parents and clinicians both expressed concerns about psychological distress related to difficult or uncertain results. Clinicians were more likely to raise concerns about returning results for adult-onset conditions, unnecessary parental stress over health problems that might never actually occur, and the possibility of future discrimination against the child on the basis of their genomic information.

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Feb 18, 2020

Israeli researchers develop technology producing water from air

Posted by in category: futurism

Researchers at Haifa’s Technion–Israel Institute of Technology say they have developed a standalone system capable of producing water from air, including in desert regions.

Described as the “first technology of its kind in the world,” the energy-efficient system aims to assist small and isolated communities far from freshwater and saltwater sources.

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Feb 18, 2020

We cannot predict with any precision where technology will lead us

Posted by in categories: government, military, particle physics, privacy, robotics/AI, terrorism

Superb piece.

“But, I say we should pursue science and technology because, like Prometheus, the fires of invention burn bright, and although we may not always know where it leads us, a world darkened by the fear of treading upon the unknown, is unimaginable.”

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Feb 18, 2020

Binaural beats synchronize brain activity, don’t affect mood

Posted by in category: neuroscience

An auditory illusion thought to synchronize brain waves and alter mood is no more effective than other sounds, according to research in adults recently published in eNeuro. The effect reported in other studies might be a placebo but could still have helpful effects for some people.

Binaural beats are an auditory illusion caused by listening to two tones of slightly different frequency, one in each ear. The difference in frequencies creates the illusion of a third sound — a rhythmic beat. Neurons throughout the brain begin to send electrical messages at the same rate as the imaginary beat. Many unsupported claims surround binaural beats, including that listening to them decreases anxiety, increases focus, and improves mood.

Orozco Perez et al. played binaural and monoaural beats to healthy adults and measured their brain activity with electroencephalography. Monoaural beats don’t rely on the illusion to create the beats because they consist of edited audio tracks of the two different tones together. Both ears hear all three sounds. Brain activity synchronized with both types of beats, but the effect was stronger with monoaural beats. Neither type of beat affected mood. When the binaural beat played, far apart brain areas synchronized with each other at a different frequency than the beat. This may be how binaural beats improve memory and focus.

Feb 18, 2020

Blue Origin opens rocket engine factory

Posted by in category: space travel

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Blue Origin formally opened a factory Feb. 17 that the company plans to use to produce engines both for its vehicles and for United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the completion of a 350,000-square-foot factory here that will produce BE-4 and BE-3U engines. The factory, built in a little more than a year, will host more than 300 employees and produce up to 42 engines a year.

“You can see we can get some things done really quickly,” said Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, in remarks at the ceremony. “Twelve months to actually build this kind of facility is an amazing accomplishment for our team.”

Feb 18, 2020

Exclusive: FBI document reveals local and state police are collecting intelligence to expand terrorism watch list

Posted by in categories: finance, government, law enforcement, terrorism

Despite a federal judge’s ruling last September that the U.S. government’s terror watch list violates constitutional rights, an FBI report obtained by Yahoo News shows local and state law enforcement agencies are being used to gather intelligence on individuals to collect information about those already in the database.

Law enforcement “encounters of watchlisted individuals almost certainly yield increased opportunities for intelligence collection,” says the FBI document, dated more than a month after the federal court ruling. The FBI says such encounters could include traffic stops or domestic disputes, which gives law enforcement “the opportunity to acquire additional biographic identifiers, fraudulent identification documents, financial information and associates of watchlisted individuals,” which might assist in thwarting terrorist acts.

The Terrorism Screening Database, widely known as the watch list, was created in 2003 and consists of names of people suspected of being involved with terrorism. Over the years, the list has grown to include the names of 1.1 million people, raising concerns that many of those on the list have no involvement in terrorism but have little or no legal resources with which to challenge the designation.

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Feb 18, 2020

Quantum superposition of molecules beyond 25 kDa

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

Matter-wave interference experiments provide a direct confirmation of the quantum superposition principle, a hallmark of quantum theory, and thereby constrain possible modifications to quantum mechanics1. By increasing the mass of the interfering particles and the macroscopicity of the superposition2, more stringent bounds can be placed on modified quantum theories such as objective collapse models3. Here, we report interference of a molecular library of functionalized oligoporphyrins4 with masses beyond 25,000 Da and consisting of up to 2,000 atoms, by far the heaviest objects shown to exhibit matter-wave interference to date. We demonstrate quantum superposition of these massive particles by measuring interference fringes in a new 2-m-long Talbot–Lau interferometer that permits access to a wide range of particle masses with a large variety of internal states. The molecules in our study have de Broglie wavelengths down to 53 fm, five orders of magnitude smaller than the diameter of the molecules themselves. Our results show excellent agreement with quantum theory and cannot be explained classically. The interference fringes reach more than 90% of the expected visibility and the resulting macroscopicity value of 14.1 represents an order of magnitude increase over previous experiments2.

Feb 17, 2020

Pale Blue Dot – 30th Anniversary | National Geographic

Posted by in category: space

30 years ago, scientist Carl Sagan asked NASA’s Voyager 1 to capture an iconic portrait of our world. This humbling view of Earth from 6.4 billion km away is known as the “Pale Blue Dot.”
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Feb 17, 2020

Gilead’s Coronavirus Drug Trial Slowed by Lack of Eligible Recruits

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

BEIJING—Clinical trials being conducted in Wuhan to test Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug, a promising remedy for the new coronavirus, are going more slowly than hoped for as the drugmaker struggles to recruit qualified patients, underscoring the challenges in quickly developing drugs during outbreaks.

The trials, aimed at testing more than 700 patients infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 200 people after 10 days.

A total of 168 patients with severe symptoms, and 17 patients with mild and moderate symptoms, were recruited at 11 medical institutes across Wuhan, Zhang Xinmin, an official from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, said at a Saturday press conference.

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Feb 17, 2020

Radiation-Eating Fungus Found in Chernobyl

Posted by in categories: food, nuclear energy

A weird black fungus was discovered inside the Chernobyl nuclear reactor 🤔.

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