FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- Scientists have finally found traces of the axion, an elusive particle that rarely interacts with normal matter.
- Scientists are looking for 10,000 pet dogs for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. (All dogs will live at their homes throughout the study.)
- NASA study finds long-haul danger for astronauts: blood flow in reverse.
- Every 15 minutes, someone in the US dies because of an infection that antibiotics can no longer treat effectively.
by John L. Petersen
Full Access to Robert David Steele Transition Talk
Robert Steele held forth to a capacity crowd in Berkeley Springs last month, entertaining a clearly engaged audience in a 90 minute survey of the most life-changing books he had read. Robert’s Talk was long on lists of books and many asked that we make the video of the presentation available so that they could capture all of the detail. So they —- and you —- are in luck!
Although in the future we will be charging for access to the TransitionTalks videos, Robert and I wanted to get this one out to as many people as possible, so here is a link where you can see the great talk:
One favor for Robert: if you like this talk, please link to it and Tweet the video with your comments to both your friends and these addresses: #UNRIG #MAGA #Triggered @GOP @POTUS
The Biggest Change in Human History Coming in Next Seven Years: John Petersen Presentation on 7 December in Berkeley Springs
Watch this short video to learn more:
I have spent the last year bringing together pieces from many different sources to weave a tapestry picture of the coming change for this planet and our species. Bottom line: We’re about to enter a period of more change and upheaval than any time in human history – a crucible that will provide the distinct opportunity for those who have prepared themselves for this global shift to rise to the occasion as never before. The choices are stark. Each of us has the clear choice – and capacity – to initiate the process of becoming the new human that will populate the emergent new world . . . or to continue with the current version of the world that is rapidly imploding.
The trick is how to be knowledgeable about what is going on – so that what in fact transpires, does not produce disabling surprise and fear from an having an emotional attachment to the surrounding, imploding world – while, at the same time, beginning to focus on and internalize the core characteristics of the emergent new human . . . and the new world that will dominate the next evolutionary era of our species.
John L. Petersen
This is big stuff — really big stuff. I’ll spend three hours walking you systematically through what appears to be going on, what new world might emerge (out of three distinct possibilities), and how we might all prepare for this momentous transition. I promise this will be very provocative and I’ll do my best to give you a comprehensive picture of the coming seven years unlike any other that you have experienced.
Do come. We’ll have a very substantive and engaging afternoon!!
You can find complete information at TransitionTalks.org.
Free Book Offer
Our friends at The Fetzer Memorial Trust would like to give you a free hard-cover copy of the book “John E. Fetzer and the Quest for The New Age” by Brian Wilson, Ph. D.
John E. Fetzer, was a pioneer in the broadcast industry, owner of the World Series Detroit Tigers, advisor to two presidents and one of America’s 400 most wealthy individuals. Driven by a deep spiritual quest and interest in scientific exploration he is a true inspiration.
I found this biography of John Fetzer most interesting. Here was a titan of industry who had another life that was involved in helping to fund and enable a great deal of research in the metaphysical area and who set up a major foundation that continues to explore the leading edge of our reality.
The Fetzer Institute has always had a very impressive, big outlook on this world and what was possible and I’m pleased that they are making this hardcover book available at no cost to FUTUREdition subscribers.
I certainly would encourage you to take advantage of this offer. — JLP
To Receive Your Gift click here
(Limited to the first 500 requests)
Your book will be mailed to you free of charge. This is truly a free gift from The Fetzer Memorial Trust. The only mail you will receive from them, will be this book. You will not be added to a mailing list.
|Our e-Magazine has complete information on our TransitionTalks series with articles from past speakers|
Gregg Braden, Joe Dispenza & Bruce Lipton:
Scientists May Have Discovered Fifth Force of Nature – (Independent – November 20, 2019)
It has long been recognized that there are four “fundamental forces” which govern nature. The substance of our universe is pulled together, or pushed apart by these forces which are determined by the fact they do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions between particles. They include the gravitational and electromagnetic forces, which produce significant long-range interactions whose effects can be seen directly in everyday life. And they also include forces known as the strong interactions and weak interactions, which produce forces at tiny, subatomic distances and govern nuclear physics. Over the years, there have been many unsubstantiated claims of the existence of a fifth fundamental force, and as the long hunt for dark matter continues to prove fruitless, efforts to find new forces at play to help fill-in the gaps the standard model of particle physics can’t explain have increased. But now, scientists in Hungary’s Atomki Nuclear Research Institute, believe they may have found more solid evidence of a previously unknown fifth fundamental force of nature.
Physicists Have Finally Seen Traces of a Long-Sought Particle. – (Live Science – November 22, 2019)
Scientists have finally found traces of the axion, an elusive particle that rarely interacts with normal matter. The axion was first predicted over 40 years ago but has never been seen until now. Scientists have suggested that dark matter, the invisible matter that permeates our universe, may be made of axions. But rather than finding a dark matter axion deep in outer space, researchers have discovered mathematical signatures of an axion in an exotic material here on Earth. The newly discovered axion isn’t quite a particle as we normally think of it: It acts as a wave of electrons in a supercooled material known as a semimetal. But the discovery could be the first step in addressing one of the major unsolved problems in particle physics.
There’s Growing Evidence That the Universe Is Connected by Giant Structures – (Motherboard – November 11, 2019)
The Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies strewn across the universe. Their variety is stunning: spirals, ring galaxies shaped like star-studded loops, and ancient galaxies that outshine virtually everything else in the universe. But despite their differences, and the mind-boggling distances between them, scientists have noticed that some galaxies move together in odd and often unexplained patterns, as if they are connected by a vast unseen force. Galaxies within a few million light years of each other can gravitationally affect each other in predictable ways, but some galaxies show dynamic links across distances too great to be explained by their individual gravitational fields. A study published in The Astrophysical Journal in October found that hundreds of galaxies were rotating in sync with the motions of galaxies that were tens of millions of light years away. Research suggests that the synchronized galaxies may be embedded along the same large-scale structure, which is very slowly rotating in a counter-clockwise direction.
GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY
Old Dogs, New Tricks: 10,000 Pets Needed for Science – (NBC News – November 14, 2019)
Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. They hope to shed light on human longevity too. The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process. “What we learn will potentially be good for dogs and has great potential to translate to human health,” said project co-director Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington School of Medicine. For instance, if scientists find a genetic marker for a type of cancer in dogs, that could be explored in humans. For the study, the dogs will live at home and follow their usual routine. All ages and sizes, purebreds and mutts are welcome. Owners will complete periodic online surveys and take their dogs to the vet once a year, with the possibility of extra visits for certain tests. Their welfare will be monitored by a bioethicist and a panel of animal welfare advisers. To nominate a pet, owners can visit the Dog Aging Project’s website. The National Institute on Aging is paying for the five-year, $23 million project because dogs and humans share the same environment, get the same diseases and dogs’ shorter lifespans allow quicker research results, said deputy director, Dr. Marie Bernard. The data collected will be available to all scientists.
Behind the Scenes of a Radical New Cancer Cure – (Scientific American – November 9, 2019)
CAR-T is a radical new therapy to treat cancer. It involves removing a patient’s own blood, filtering for immune cells called T-cells, and genetically engineering those cells to recognize and attack their cancer. CAR-T made history in 2017 as the first FDA-approved gene therapy to treat any disease. After three to six months of follow-up, the trials that led to approval showed response rates of 80 percent and above in aggressive leukemias and lymphomas that had resisted chemotherapy. Patients on the brink of death were coming back to life. CAR-T is not a drug; it’s a one-time infusion giving a person a better version of her own immune system.
Scientists Discover Body’s Protection Shield – (PhysOrg – November 18, 2019)
When a tissue is damaged, (either accidentally or through surgery), the body quickly recruits immune cells to the injury site where they fight infection by engulfing and killing invading pathogens, through the release of toxic factors (such as unstable molecules containing oxygen known as “reactive oxygen species” e.g. peroxides). However, these bactericidal products are also highly toxic to the host tissue and can disrupt the repair process. To counteract these harmful effects the repairing tissue activates powerful protective machinery to “shield” itself from the damage. Now, researchers from Bristol’s School of Biochemistry studying tissue repair have mapped the exact identities of these protective pathways and identified how to stimulate this process in naïve tissues. The findings have clear clinical relevance to patients because therapeutic activation of these cytoprotective pathways in the clinic could also offer an exciting approach to ‘precondition’ patient tissues prior to elective surgery.
Scientists Are Just Beginning to Understand Mysterious DNA Circles Common in Cancer Cells – (New York Times – November 20, 2019)
There’s no image in biology more iconic than our chromosomes — all 23 pairs of DNA bundles arrayed in a genetic lineup. But in a surprising number of cases, this picture leaves out something very important. In some cells, extra circles of DNA float alongside the regular chromosomes. Scientists first noticed this so-called extrachromosomal DNA five decades ago. But for years they weren’t exactly sure what to make of it. New research is now focusing on those mysterious loops. They are surprisingly common in cancer cells and play a bigger role in many types of cancers than was previously recognized. Healthy cells can carry smaller circles of their own. These DNA circles also may affect how our bodies work, and may even be linked to aging or diseases other than cancer. Those clumps went by many names over the years, such as double minutes and extrachromosomal DNA. Most scientists considered them rare and unimportant, largely because they lacked the tools to detect them. Since then, researchers have invented techniques to examine the DNA in those circles. Other scientists have figured out how to highlight the circles with glowing proteins, and even how to prepare them for a close-up portrait under high-powered microscopes. “They look like SpaghettiOs,” said Paul Mischel, a cancer biologist at the University of California at San Diego. There seem to be stark differences between the DNA circles in healthy and diseased cells. In cancer cells, the circles may contain a million base pairs of DNA or more. In contrast, the DNA circles in healthy cells are typically much smaller, containing under 25,000 base pairs, and usually just a few hundred. (The entire human genome contains about three billion base pairs.)
Transferring the Laboratory to the Wild: An Emerging Era of Environmental Genetic Engineering – (Third World Network – November, 2019)
New genetic engineering techniques such as genome editing and new delivery techniques have facilitated an emerging trend to genetically engineer organisms in the wild, moving the engineering process to agroecosystems and beyond, essentially converting the environment into the laboratory. Previous techniques originally developed as research tools in contained-use settings, or for gene therapy in clinical settings, may be released into the environment to genetically engineer agricultural and wild organisms unchecked. Such ‘environmental genetic engineering’ raises heightened concerns with regard to controllability, the risk of spread and exposure, and unintended adverse effects that cannot be eliminated inside a laboratory prior to release. Genetic engineering in the wild also raises unprecedented regulatory challenges, removing our ability to risk-assess these engineered organisms and products before they are introduced into the environment. This biosafety briefing presents examples of research and applications in the field of environmental genetic engineering, including the development of gene drive organisms (GDOs), horizontal environmental genetic alteration agents (HEGAAs) that deliver viruses carrying genome editing machinery directly to crop fields, the delivery of genome editing machinery to crops via pollen-mediated transfer, the application of RNA interference products directly to crops and farmed animals, and developments in ‘penetration’ techniques to deliver genetic engineering tools to organisms.
Air Pollution Nanoparticles Linked to Brain Cancer for First Time – (Guardian – November 13, 2019)
The ultra-fine particles (UFPs) are produced by fuel burning, particularly in diesel vehicles, and higher exposures significantly increase people’s chances of getting the deadly cancer. Previous work has shown that nanoparticles can get into the brain and that they can carry carcinogenic chemicals. Brain cancers are rare, and the scientists have calculated that an increase in pollution exposure roughly equivalent to moving from a quiet city street to a busy one leads to one extra case of brain cancer for every 100,000 people exposed. “Environmental risks like air pollution are not large in magnitude – their importance comes because everyone in the population is exposed,” said Scott Weichenthal, at McGill University in Canada, who led the study. “So when you multiply these small risks by lots of people, all of sudden there can be lots of cases. In a large city, it could be a meaningful number, particularly given the fact that these tumors are often fatal.” The research analyzed the medical records and pollution exposure of 1.9 million adult Canadians from 1991 to 2016. Such large studies provide strong evidence, though not a causal link. Weichenthal said the correlation seen between brain cancer and nanoparticles was “surprisingly consistent”, but as this is the first study, it is important that other researchers replicate it. The discovery of abundant toxic nanoparticles from air pollution in human brains was made in 2016. A comprehensive global review earlier in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. The pollution levels in the cities studied – Toronto and Montreal – ranged from 6,000/cm3 to 97,000/cm3. Weichenthal said people living with pollution of 50,000/cm3 have a 50% higher risk of brain cancer than those living with 15,000/cm3. Weichenthal said he avoided heavily polluted streets when walking and cycling. “At an individual level, it is always a good idea to reduce your exposure to pollutants. But the more important actions are at a regulatory level, where you can take action that reduces everyone’s exposure – that is where the real benefits come in.”
Climate Change – There Has Been No Warming for the Past 18 years – (Armstrong Economics – November 2, 2019)
This 13-minute video clip is of a lecture given by Lord Christopher Monckton, a mathematician, offering a cost/ benefit analysis of a proposed major wind farm of the coast of England. The only text accompanying the embedded clip reads, “We do not endorse the veracity of this clip. It is offered to show what is out there.”
China’s Internet Is Flowering. And It Might Be Our Future. – (New York Times – November 13, 2019)
In early 2017, WeChat announced a new feature called miniprograms. Such apps are part of WeChat and don’t need to be downloaded, allowing anyone to set up a digital storefront within WeChat. A business could create a regular mobile app, but the integration with WeChat Pay, the platform’s mobile payment service, makes billing easy, and most important, customers are already there. A miniprogram is opened by scanning a QR code and, for example, lets customers place takeout food orders without having to stand in line. WeChat was developed by Tencent, a social media giant. WeChat got its start as a chat app before evolving into a superapp. Today it has more than a billion monthly active users and — according to a 2018 report by WalktheChat, a WeChat marketing company — hosts roughly 34% of all Chinese data traffic. All rolled into one, it is a social network, a payments system, a communication medium and, perhaps most ambitious, the infrastructure for over a million small businesses. In the two years since then, businesses have created more than a million miniprograms, equal to half the number of iOS apps available in Apple’s App Store. They come from global conglomerates like McDonald’s and Tesla and from local businesses like restaurants, hair salons and gyms. All of them are drawn in by the gravitational pull of WeChat’s enormous number of users and its standardized software infrastructure. It resembles the European Union in the way it has evolved into a market ecosystem: Miniprogram developers benefit from a common currency (WeChat’s mobile payment system), an identification system (WeChat’s login and password) and greatly lowered barriers to trade and movement (easy integration with any number of other services on WeChat). Because miniprograms run inside WeChat, businesses’ customers don’t have to sign up, log in or add their credit card numbers. With miniprograms, some of the biggest beneficiaries are local businesses that depend on foot traffic. Their success in China provides a fascinating look into an alternative vision of the mobile internet, one that is integrated across multiple dimensions and that is in essence a single large market. What sorts of innovations does that engender? What sorts of tensions does that create? Is it a better architecture than our Western one, in which each business has its own mobile app, existing in isolation, downloaded but idle for large chunks of the day?
Project Silica Stores Warner Bros. ‘Superman’ Movie on Quartz Glass – (Microsoft – November 9th, 2019)
Warner Bros., which approached Microsoft after learning of the research, is always on the hunt for new technologies to safeguard its vast asset library. This was the first proof of concept test for Project Silica, a Microsoft Research project that uses recent discoveries in ultrafast laser optics and artificial intelligence to store data in quartz glass. A laser encodes data in glass by creating layers of three-dimensional nanoscale gratings and deformations at various depths and angles. Machine learning algorithms read the data back by decoding images and patterns that are created as polarized light shines through the glass. The hard silica glass can withstand being boiled in hot water, baked in an oven, microwaved, flooded, scoured, demagnetized and other environmental threats that can destroy priceless historic archives or cultural treasures if things go wrong.
Want the Greenest Device? You May Already Own It – (New York Times – November 20, 2019)
One way to help the planet is not to buy new tech, especially stuff the planet never needed, says Kendra Pierre-Louis, a NYT reporter on the environment. Tech has a tremendous footprint. One estimate by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab said it took 70 billion kilowatt-hours in 2014, or nearly 2 percent of the total electricity generation in the United States that year, just to run the internet. And then, of course, there are the materials used to create tech. The lithium-ion batteries that are in so many things, like my smartwatch, my cellphone and your earbuds, typically contain cobalt, which was potentially mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo using forced child labor and in conditions that hurt both people’s health and the environment. Many companies will say their phones are recyclable, but even when they are recycled (and that process can be incredibly environmentally polluting as well), the metal is generally too low a grade to go into a new phone. All of which, yes, points to a need for tech that lasts. I tend to hold on to electronics for years — I once had a laptop that lasted nine years. Toward the end, people teased me about it because it was, physically speaking, a brick. I got my workout carrying that thing around. Part of the reason it lasted so long was that I bought a machine that was faster, had a larger hard drive and could expand its memory more than I needed. So as software and the internet evolved to require more memory and higher processor speeds, the computer could handle it. The secret is buying tech that really fits your uses, looking at reviews like the ones on iFixit about how easy it is to repair and taking care of things once you have them. I think the greenest things I do are the things that I don’t buy, honestly. The products that are the least sustainable are the ones that don’t, objectively, need to exist. See also: Choosing to Skip the Upgrade and Care for the Gadget You’ve Got.
MIT Deepfake Shows Nixon Sadly Saying the Moon Astronauts Died – (Futurism – November 22, 2019)
In the event that Apollo 11 — the NASA mission that sent Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon — failed, President Nixon had a speech written and ready to go. Now MIT engineers have used deepfake technology to create a news broadcast in which a digitally-reconstructed Nixon delivers the bad news. The deepfake, which will be presented at a film festival Friday, illustrates just how easy it is to make virtual puppets deliver convincing speeches, even if they’re totally removed from history. Article includes embedded clip of the Nixon’s speech. (Remember the time before teleprompters? Nixon reads the speech from pages in his hands.)
Smart Contacts: The Future of the Wearable You Won’t Even See – (New Atlas – November 20, 2019)
In the age of wearable computers, scientists in the laboratories of DARPA, Google, and universities around the world see contact lenses not just as tools to improve our vision, but as opportunities to augment the human experience. As a soft, transparent disc of plastic and silicone that you wear on your eyeball, a contact lens may seem like a very bad place to put electronics. But if you look beneath the surface, the idea of a smart contact lens has real merit, and that begins with its potential to improve our well-being. For example, the fluid that flows through our tear ducts and other glands to keep them moist also contains valuable biomarkers that can be used to track well-being, with blood-sugar levels a leading example. This promise of a non-invasive way to monitor blood-sugar levels through the eye has drawn huge interest from research groups and private companies alike. Currently there is a great potential in these kinds of contact lenses coming to offer personalized treatments for different kinds of eye diseases, if equipped with the right kinds of sensors. Research has started to unravel the different kinds of ailments that could be revealed via biomarkers in tear fluid, with dry eye syndrome, allergies and degenerative conditions like keratoconus all a part of the mix.
WAF Photo Awards Bring Beautiful Buildings into Focus – (New Atlas – November 7, 2019)
The World Architecture Festival (WAF) has announced the 2019 Architectural Photography Awards shortlist. This year’s selection consists of 24 stunning and varied architecture-themed images, including a New York City viewing point, a Shenzhen skyscraper, and a Danish museum that does the twist. The WAF Architectural Photography Awards shortlist is split into six categories: Exterior, Interior, Sense of Place, Buildings in Use, Mobile, and Portfolio, each containing four photos. This year’s awards attracted 2,000 entries from 42 countries, with the highest proportion of photographers hailing from the UK. The photographs are beautiful; most, but not all, of the buildings are new and fascinating. Article includes 24 images (click in the upper right corner of the first image.)
Secretive Energy Startup Backed by Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough – (CNN – November 19, 2019)
Heliogen, a clean energy startup backed by Bill Gates, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven — one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you’d find on the surface of the sun. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution. “We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s founder and CEO, told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail.” Heliogen, which is also backed by billionaire Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, believes the patented technology will be able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Cement, for example, accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.
Why the Tesla Cybertruck Looks So Weird – (Wired – November 23, 2019)
Raphael Zammit heads the MFA Transportation Design program at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and has been involved in automotive design for a quarter century. And to him, the Cybertruck is “extreme.” “It literally breaks every rule we tell to our students,” Zammit says. “It’s what we tell them not to do.” No, this is not a truck built for truck designers. Yep, this is a vehicle design without compromises. That might be why the initial reaction to the truck, seemingly built to haul carcasses in a postapocalyptic videogame, was a collective “wut.” It doesn’t look like it has all of the necessary elements to make it road-ready. The model shown onstage on Thursday night didn’t have side mirrors, which are required in the US (though the federal government is considering changing the rule). Its headlights, a strip of illumination, wouldn’t be street legal. Automotive engineering experts say they’re also worried about the lack of a visible “crumple zone,” built to collapse and absorb the brunt of the force in a forward collision. Tesla did not respond to questions about whether the truck’s design would change before it goes into production in 2021. So the Cybertruck feels more like a concept car – and “a really interesting one,” says Lee Walton, a vehicle designer who teaches at Finland’s Lahti University of Applied Sciences. Other carmakers produce “concepts all the time, but then they don’t list them on their website with a ‘buy now’ button.”
Down the Street from Starbucks, Atomo Is Trying to Reverse-engineer the Coffee Bean – (CNBC – November 11, 2019)
The idea of coffee without the bean —well that’s something new. It’s called “molecular coffee” ad Atomo, a Seattle-based start-up is looking to create it. The company’s founders, Andy Kleitsch and Jarret Stopforth, want to make sure the experience consumers have with their product recreates that of actual coffee. The goal was to create a consistently perfect cup of coffee that is better for the environment, Stopforth said. Atomo has gone through hundreds of iterations trying to nail what Stopforth calls the “five core components of coffee — the body, the mouth feel, the aroma and flavor.” The coffee — yes, they call it coffee — is made with “upcycled agricultural products” that include sunflower seed husks, watermelon seeds, acacia gum and yerba mate caffeine. All are waste stream products that are typically discarded by farmers, Kleitsch said. Other ingredients and production process are kept close to the vest for intellectual property reasons. Atomo plans to ship its first batch of cold brew to its Kickstarter contributors in early 2020 and hopes to be in retail by mid-year as it continues to work on its coffee grounds to give consumers a hot brewing option that tastes, and most importantly, smells like the real deal. Atomo has garnered attention outside of Kickstarter as well. Horizons Ventures, backer of Impossible Foods, invested $2.6 million in the start-up. Bryan Crowley, CEO of Soylent, is also an advisor, after meeting Stopforth at the plant-based meal replacement company. “I love that they were thinking of coffee as an experience, not just a product,” Crowley said. “The idea of delivering the coffee experience without the bean and without the impact to the environment got me really excited.”
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Ransomware, Data Breaches at Hospitals tied to Uptick in Fatal Heart Attacks – (Krebson Security – November 7, 2019)
Researchers at Vanderbilt University‘s Owen Graduate School of Management took the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) list of healthcare data breaches and used it to drill down on data about patient mortality rates at more than 3,000 Medicare-certified hospitals, about 10% of which had experienced a data breach. After data breaches as many as 36 additional deaths per 10,000 heart attacks occurred annually at the hundreds of hospitals examined. The researchers found that for care centers that experienced a breach, it took an additional 2.7 minutes for suspected heart attack patients to receive an electrocardiogram. “Breach remediation efforts were associated with deterioration in timeliness of care and patient outcomes,” the authors found. Leo Scanlon, former deputy chief information security officer at the HHS, said the findings in this report practically beg for a similar study to be done in the United Kingdom, whose healthcare system was particularly disrupted by the Wannacry virus, a global contagion in May 2017 that spread through a Microsoft Windows vulnerability prevalent in older healthcare systems. A post-mortem on the impact of WannaCry found the outbreak cost U.K. hospitals almost $100 million pounds and caused significant disruption to patient care, such as the cancellation of some 19,000 appointments — including operations — and the disruption of IT systems for at least a third of all U.K. National Health Service (NHS) hospitals and eight percent of general practitioners. In several cases, hospitals in the U.K. were forced to divert emergency room visitors to other hospitals. But what isn’t yet known is how Wannacry affected mortality rates among heart attack and stroke patients whose ambulances were diverted to other hospitals because of IT system outages related to the malware. Or how many hospitals and practices experienced delays in getting test results back needed to make critical healthcare decisions.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Empathy Is Tearing Us Apart – (Wired – November 9, 2019)
There are people who believe that the political polarization now afflicting the United States might finally start to subside if Americans of both parties could somehow become more empathetic. If you’re one of these people, the American Political Science Review has sobering news for you. Recently APSR—one of the alpha journals in political science—published a study which found that “empathic concern does not reduce partisan animosity in the electorate and in some respects even exacerbates it.” The study had two parts. In the first part, Americans who scored high on an empathy scale showed higher levels of “affective polarization”—defined as the difference between the favorability rating they gave their political party and the rating they gave the opposing party. In the second part, undergraduates were shown a news story about a controversial speaker from the opposing party visiting a college campus. Students who had scored higher on the empathy scale were more likely to applaud efforts to deny the speaker a platform. As the authors note, their findings are in many ways consistent with conclusions reached by other scholars in recent years. But the view of empathy that’s emerging from this growing body of work hasn’t much trickled down to the public. And public understanding of it may be critical to shifting America’s political polarization into reverse somewhere between here and the abyss. As the authors of the study—Elizabeth Simas and Scott Clifford of the University of Houston and Justin Kirkland of the University of Virginia—note, “Polarization is not a consequence of a lack of empathy among the public, but a product of the biased ways in which we experience empathy.” (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for the ways in which it explores the links between empathy and enmity.)
Reckoning with the Costs of War: It’s Time to Take Responsibility – (The Hill – November 13, 2019)
Around 6,200 U.S. military personnel, contractors, humanitarian workers and journalists have died in Afghanistan since the U.S. government invaded just over 18 years ago. An estimated 9,000 others have died in Iraq, Syria and at least 19 other countries where U.S. troops have fought since Oct. 7, 2001. But as horrible as the wars’ impacts are in this country, a new report released today by Brown University’s Costs of War project shows that the magnitude of death, injury and trauma in the countries where the United States has fought its wars is far worse. According to the report’s authors, Neta Crawford and Catherine Lutz, an estimated 755,000 to 786,000 civilians and combatants, on all sides, have died in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen since U.S. forces began fighting in those countries. That figure is around 50 times larger than the number of U.S. dead. ut this is only the direct death toll from combat. Indirect deaths, caused by war’s destruction of health, sanitation and other local infrastructures, are generally estimated to be four times higher. This means that total deaths during the post-2001 U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen is likely to reach 3.1 million or more — around 200 times the number of U.S. dead. Meanwhile, entire neighborhoods, cities, societies have been shattered by war. The total number of injured and traumatized extends into the tens of millions. In Afghanistan, in 2002, 42% of the population showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 70% showed signs of major depression. Our tax dollars and implied consent have made these wars possible. While the United States is obviously not the only actor responsible for the damage done in the post-2001 wars, U.S. leaders bear the bulk of responsibility for launching catastrophic wars that were never inevitable, that were wars of choice. U.S. taxpayers will ultimately spend more than $6.4 trillion to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq alone, according to a Costs of War estimate. Consider how we could have otherwise spent that incomprehensible sum…
Loop Hole for Elite Criminals? London Ballroom Hosts Showcase Event for ‘Golden Passports’ – (Sarah Westall – November 18, 2019)
Three prime ministers took to a stage in the ballroom of a five-star London hotel recently offering the world’s wealthiest people “golden passports” and citizenship of their countries in return for hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment or flat “contributions”. Allen Chastanet, the prime minister of the Caribbean island of St Lucia, told about 300 members of the super-rich elite and their advisers gathered at the Rosewood hotel for “global citizenship conference” that his country’s economic mission was “going after high net-worth individuals and giving them a comfortable place to live”. He promised that in return for a $100,000 (£78,000) “contribution to the national economic fund” applicants would be granted St Lucian citizenship within three months. With it comes a so-called “golden passport” giving visa-free travel to 145 countries, including the UK, the European Union’s Schengen Area, Hong Kong and Singapore. Chastanet, who has served as prime minister of the former British colony since 2016, claimed many of the country’s new citizens were from the US. “When they’re traveling abroad, they don’t want to have a US passport,” he said. Also selling citizenships at the conference were the prime ministers of Albania and Montenegro, a Maltese minister, an ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, and representatives from Cyprus. The conference featured a keynote address by the former CIA director David Petraeus, and was compered (emceed) by Nils Blythe, a former BBC business correspondent and ex-head of communications at the Bank of England. The three-day event, which cost £1,500 a ticket, was organized by Henley & Partners, a London-based firm that acts as matchmaker between the super-rich and countries selling their citizenships. Henley has made tens of millions of dollars in commission from selling citizenship. The trade is legal, and Henley is not accused of any sort of wrongdoing.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Consumer DNA Testing May Be the Biggest Health Scam of the Decade – (GizModo – November 20, 2019)
The genetic testing industry has existed since the late 1990s. And in 2007, the new kid on the block, 23andMe, became the first company to offer a particular kind of at-home DNA test that was cheap, easy to use, and promised to track back your origins further back than ever before. 23andMe’s tests—and eventually those of its competitors—search for and analyze the most common genetic variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in our autosomal DNA, the 22 of 23 pairs of chromosomes not used to determine sex. For as little as $99 and a spit sample, these SNP-based tests are advertised to determine a person’s ancestry or genetic health risks. Following the FDA’s ban in 2013, 23andMe spent the next two years devising genetic health tests that wouldn’t overpromise. In 2015, it was allowed to sell tests that told people if they carried a recessive mutation for genetic conditions like Bloom syndrome and sickle-cell disease. Two years later, it became the first company with FDA-approved tests that were allowed to tell people about their risk of developing one of 10 diseases or conditions, such as late-onset Alzheimer’s or celiac disease. But much of this realm of consumer DNA testing, as a report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed, can uncharitably be described as complete fabrication. Even relying on these DNA tests to figure out your ancestry is a dicey proposition. Results can vary widely depending on which company does the testing, thanks to the different algorithms they use. And the farther away your lineage is from Europe, the less accurate these tests will be for you, due to the fact that the algorithms—as well as the research linking genes to our health—are largely based on the DNA of white Americans and Europeans. Health and ancestry aside, sharing your DNA with the outside world can have unintended consequences. At a certain point though, it won’t even matter whether you’ve decided to share your DNA. A study last October estimated that once enough people’s DNA is in a database—a scant 2% to 3% of any given population—anyone could conceivably track the identity of every person in that population using the same techniques genetic detectives are using now. And researchers have already demonstrated how less scrupulous forces, including hackers, could actively manipulate these databases. But given how popular at-home DNA testing has become, there’s really no sealing the genie back in the bottle. So if you want to get your genetic horoscope read, go ahead. But it’s a big decision; you should sleep on it. Once your DNA is out there, there’s no going back.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
New NASA Study Finds Long-haul Danger for Astronauts: Blood Flow in Reverse – (NBC News – November 13, 2019)
NASA has known for decades that spaceflight is rough on the body, and that spending lengthy periods of time in orbit, unburdened by gravity, can cause astronauts’ muscles to lose mass and their bones to become more brittle. Now, in the unexpected discovery, researchers have found that spending time in space can affect how blood flows through a major blood vessel in the upper body, causing it to halt or even flow backwards — a health risk that was unknown until now. researchers examined 11 healthy astronauts who had stayed aboard the International Space Station for an average of six months. During routine ultrasound assessments, by the 50th day of their missions, seven crew members were found to have stagnant or reverse blood flow in their left internal jugular vein, a major blood vessel that runs down the side of the neck and is responsible for draining blood from the brain, face and neck. One astronaut was also found to have developed a clot in the internal jugular vein during spaceflight, and a partial clot was discovered in another crew member after returning to Earth, according to the study. The findings have major implications for long-duration space missions, including flights to Mars, which would require an interplanetary journey that lasts up to eight months. The research began several years ago, as NASA attempted to investigate why nearly two-thirds of astronauts reported blurry vision and impaired eyesight after spending months at the space station. In some cases, those vision problems persisted even after the astronauts had returned to Earth. Michael Stenger, manager of the Cardiovascular and Vision Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and his colleagues were tasked with understanding how the weightless environment affects the circulation of fluids in the upper body. They found that without the ever-present tug of gravity on Earth, some astronauts’ bodies struggled to drain fluids normally.
Star Ejected from Milky Way’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ Reaches Mind-Blowing Speed – (Live Science – November 14, 2019)
As humankind’s ancestors were learning to walk upright, a star was launched out of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy at a staggering 3.7 million mph. Five million years after this dramatic ejection, a group of researchers, led by Sergey Koposov of Carnegie Mellon University’s McWilliams Center for Cosmology, has spotted the star, known as S5-HVS1, in the Crane-shaped constellation Grus. The star was spotted traveling relatively close to Earth (29,000 light-years away) at unprecedented, searing speeds — about 10 times faster than most stars in our galaxy. “The velocity of the discovered star is so high that it will inevitably leave the galaxy and never return,” Douglas Boubert, a researcher at the University of Oxford and a co-author on the study, said. “We have long suspected that black holes can eject stars with very high velocities. However, we never had an unambiguous association of such a fast star with the galactic center,” Koposov said. Now that the star has been spotted, researchers could track the star back to Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. It also serves as an incredible example of the Hills Mechanism, proposed by astronomer Jack Hills 30 years ago, in which stars are ejected from the centers of galaxies at high speeds after an interaction between a binary-star system and the black hole at the center of the galaxy.
Big Bang – Time to Wipe the Chalkboard Clean – (Space News/You Tube – November 22, 2019)
Scientists generally use the term “crisis in cosmology” to describe the numerous and growing evidences that contradict or undermine the Big Bang theory. For decades, numerous scientific papers have been published on the discordancy between the so-called expansion rate in the “early universe,” and the expansion rate in the “later Universe.” In fact, recently the Keck Observatory issued a press release on the reported most reliable verification to date that the discordancy is real. The cosmological crisis runs much deeper and includes “surprising” discoveries at all scales throughout the cosmos. In part one of this two-part presentation, physicist Wal Thornhill discusses some of the foundational problems with the standard cosmological model, and the real alternatives that the Electric Universe offers.
The Post-antibiotic Era Is Here – (Vox – November 14, 2019)
Every 15 minutes, one person in the US dies because of an infection that antibiotics can no longer treat effectively. That’s 35,000 deaths a year. This striking estimate comes from a major new report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on the urgent problem of antibiotic resistance. Although the report focuses on the US, this is a global crisis: 700,000 people around the world die of drug-resistant diseases each year. And if we don’t make a radical change now, that could rise to 10 million by 2050. And it’s not just diseases like tuberculosis. Common problems like STDs and urinary tract infections are also becoming more resistant to treatment. Routine hospital procedures like C-sections and joint replacements could become more dangerous, too, as the risk associated with infection increases. Doctors prescribe antibiotics for conditions that don’t require them and don’t even benefit from them, like colds and flus. And animal farmers use them copiously on livestock and poultry, sometimes to compensate for poor industrial farming conditions. The problem of drug resistance could be addressed really cheaply. If each person in high- and middle-income countries invested $2 a year in this cause, we could research new drugs and implement effective measures to reduce the threat of resistance, according to an important UN report released in May. “For the US, the total cost to fix the broken antibiotics model is $1.5-2 billion per year,” according to Kevin Outterson, a Boston University professor who specializes in antibiotic resistance. “It’s the equivalent of what we spend on toilet paper every few months.”
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Researchers Find More Than 1 Million Alternatives to DNA – (Extreme Tech – November 13, 2019)
Life on Earth uses DNA and RNA to store and utilize genetic information, but what if there’s another way? A new analysis from researchers at Emory University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology suggests a plethora of molecules could serve the same basic task of organizing and storing genetic information. They estimate more than a million possible stand-ins for DNA, some of which could help us fight disease or help us know what to expect as we search for alien life. We already know there are many alternatives to the five bases at work in DNA and RNA on Earth, but the new study looks at how the scaffolding of nucleic acid could vary. The analysis points to more than 1,160,000 potential nucleic acid molecules. That number exceeded even the most extreme estimates beforehand, but researchers can now start looking at these molecules in a laboratory setting to see if they can work as a DNA alternative. The team says this shows evolution on Earth may have experimented with several different molecular designs for storing genetic information before DNA ultimately won out. Researchers around the world are working on therapeutic drugs that resemble nucleic acid, some of which could help combat viruses and cancer. A better understanding of these DNA alternatives could make those treatments more effective. And then there’s the importance to exobiology research. If we’re looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life, it might help to remember they could have genetic material using one of the other million possible molecules.
The Great American Tax Haven: Why the Super-rich Love South Dakota – (Guardian – November 19, 2019)
Sioux Falls, SD is a pleasant city of 180,000 people, situated where the Big Sioux River tumbles off a red granite cliff. It’s a town that few Americans have been to. But the money of the world’s mega-wealthy is heading there in ever-larger volumes. In the past decade, hundreds of billions of dollars have poured out of traditional offshore jurisdictions such as Switzerland and Jersey, and into a small number of American states: Delaware, Nevada, Wyoming – and, above all, South Dakota. Super-rich people choose between jurisdictions in the same way that middle-class people choose between ISAs: they want the best security, the best income and the lowest costs. That is why so many super-rich people are choosing South Dakota, which has created the most potent force-field money can buy – a South Dakotan trust. A decade ago, South Dakotan trust companies held $57.3bn in assets. By the end of 2020, that total will have risen to $355.2bn. At the heart of South Dakota’s business success is a crucial but overlooked fact: globalization is incomplete. In our modern financial system, money travels where its owners like, but laws are still made at a local level. So money inevitably flows to the places where governments offer the lowest taxes and the highest security. Anyone who can afford the legal fees to profit from this mismatch is able to keep wealth that the rest of us would lose, which helps to explain why – all over the world – the rich have become so much richer and the rest of us have not. South Dakota now gives its clients tricks to protect their wealth that would have been impossible 30 years ago. In most jurisdictions, trusts have to benefit someone other than the benefactor – your children, say, or your favorite charity – but in South Dakota, clients can create a trust for the benefit of themselves. Once two years have passed, the trust is immune from any creditor claiming a share of the assets it contains, no matter the nature of their claim. A South Dakotan trust is secret, too. Court documents relating to it are kept private forever, to prevent knowledge of its existence from leaking out. It also has the useful side effect of making it all but impossible for journalists to find out who is using South Dakotan trusts, or what legal challenges to them have been filed. (Editor’s note: If you have time for only one article in this issue, read this one. It’s long; so keep reading. Among other things, it explains exactly how and why credit card interest rates went from being regulated with a sensible maximum interest rate to totally unregulated and it lays out the implications of perpetual trusts. You may not be wealthy enough to use this information, but it’s worth understanding.)
Millennials, Gen Xers to Baby Boomers: Can You Retire So I Can Get a Job Promotion? – (USA Today – November 7, 2019)
As more baby boomers put off retirement, millennials and Gen Xers are finding it harder to move up into middle- and higher-level jobs, according to a USA TODAY/LinkedIn survey and interviews with recruiters. Partly as a result, many younger workers are job-hopping as they seek bigger titles and higher pay. That’s making it tougher for companies to hold onto promising employees and hurting their businesses in some cases, the survey shows. “This is the first time ever that five different generations are in America’s workforce at the same time, from Gen Zers up to baby boomers,” says LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele. “It’s no surprise that there are some growing pains.” To be sure, boomers (age 54-74) bring knowledge and experience to the workplace, and many companies are trying to coax them into staying on as they struggle to find workers amid unemployment that’s at a 50-year low. Yet their prevalence in the labor force is tamping down the economy’s overall productivity, according to a study by Moody’s Analytics. That’s likely because of their reluctance to adopt new technology, the study says. Forty-one percent of millennials – and 30% of all adults – said they’ve found it difficult to move up in their fields because boomers are waiting longer to retire, according to a survey of 1,019 working professionals. On the other hand, some experts are skeptical that boomers are blocking the ascent of millennials. A Stanford University study found that increasing the number of older workers doesn’t hurt the employment or wages of younger people. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of Glassdoor, says younger workers may be stymied by boomers at their offices but can find opportunities at other firms. And Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School, says only about a third of openings are filled internally anyway, down from about 90% in the 1970s.
A Will to Survive Might Take AI to the Next Level – (Science News – November 10, 2019)
Fiction is full of robots with feelings. But in real life robots have no more feelings than a rock submerged in novocaine. There might be a way, though, to give robots feelings, say neuroscientists Kingson Man and Antonio Damasio. Simply build the robot with the ability to sense peril to its own existence. It would then have to develop feelings to guide the behaviors needed to ensure its own survival. “Today’s robots lack feelings,” Man and Damasio write in a new paper (subscription required) in Nature Machine Intelligence. “They are not designed to represent the internal state of their operations in a way that would permit them to experience that state in a mental space.” So Man and Damasio propose a strategy for imbuing machines (such as robots or humanlike androids) with the “artificial equivalent of feeling.” intelligence in one arena isn’t the same as the more general humanlike intelligence that can be deployed to cope with all sorts of situations, even those never before encountered. Researchers have long sought the secret recipe for making robots smart in a more general way. In Man and Damasio’s view, feelings are the missing ingredient. Feelings motivate living things to seek optimum states for survival, helping to ensure that behaviors maintain the necessary homeostatic balance. An intelligent machine with a sense of its own vulnerability should similarly act in a way that would minimize threats to its existence. To perceive such threats, though, a robot must be designed to understand its own internal state.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
The Flat-Earth Conspiracy Is Spreading around the Globe. – (CNN – November 17, 2019)
Third annual Flat Earth International Conference was held at an Embassy Suites hotel in suburban Dallas, Texas. Organizers said there were about 600 attenders. Previous conferences have taken place in Raleigh and Denver — while Brazil, Britain and Italy have also held flat-Earth conventions in recent years. The event’s schedule resembled any corporate conference, with some fairly noticeable twists. Speakers gave presentations including “Space is Fake” and “Testing The Moon: A Globe Lie Perspective.” Awards for the year’s best flat Earth-related videos were handed out. And believers reveled in an opportunity to meet several of the movement’s most influential minds. On a clear day, the curvature of the Earth can be seen from an airplane window. But remarkably, the hundreds of flat Earthers at the Dallas gathering were just a small portion of the movement. People in every pocket of this spherical planet are rejecting science and spreading the word that the Earth is flat. There’s no clear study indicating how many people have been convinced — and flat Earthers like Weiss will tell you without evidence there are millions more in the closet anyway, including Hollywood A-listers and commercial airline pilots — but online communities have hundreds of thousands of followers and YouTube is inundated with flat-Earth content creators, whose productions reach millions. A YouGov survey of more than 8,000 American adults suggested last year that as many as one in six Americans are not entirely certain the world is round, while a 2019 Datafolha Institute survey of more than 2,000 Brazilian adults indicated that 7% of people in that country reject that concept, according to local media. The idea is that the flat Earth, sun, moon and stars are contained in a “Truman Show”-like dome. From there, pitfalls can be easily dismissed — like photos of the Earth from space, which flat Earthers believe are photoshopped. “This all goes away if they put a 24/7 camera feed on the moon,” as one person noted. By the way, even if the earth is flat, no, you won’t fall off the edge. While flat Earthers’ views of the world vary, most believe the planet is a circular disk with Antarctica acting as an ice wall barrier around the edge.
Cryptoqueen: How This Woman Scammed the World, Then Vanished – (BBC News – November 24, 2019)
Ruja Ignatova called herself the Cryptoqueen. She told people she had invented a cryptocurrency to rival Bitcoin, and persuaded them to invest billions. Then, two years ago, she disappeared. By mid-2016 Bitcoin had given rise to a frenzy of excitement among investors. Cryptocurrency as an idea was just entering the mainstream. Lots of people were looking to get involved in this strange new opportunity. Dr Ruja’s genius was to take all of this and sell the idea to the masses. OneCoin, Dr Ruja told the Wembley audience, was the “Bitcoin Killer”. “In two years, nobody will speak about Bitcoin any more!” she shouted. All over the world, people were already investing their savings into OneCoin, hoping to be part of this new revolution. Documents leaked to the BBC show that British people spent almost €30m on OneCoin in the first six months of 2016, €2m of it in a single week – and the rate of investment could have increased after the Wembley extravaganza. Between August 2014 and March 2017 more than €4bn was invested in dozens of countries. From Pakistan to Brazil, from Hong Kong to Norway, from Canada to Yemen… even Palestine. But there was something wrong. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article for its ability to make transparent the ways in which a new technology can be welded to an old bag of tricks – but now the whole thing can operate globally and on steroids.)
JUST FOR FUN
Artist Paints Spherical Canvases with Photorealistic Scenes of Japanese Suburbia – (My Modern Met – November 20, 2019)
Inspired by his suburban surroundings, Japanese artist Daisuke Samejima has created a series of acrylic paintings called Flatball. The remarkable artworks envision his ordinary surroundings in an extraordinary way. Rather than opting for the generic, flat canvas, Samejima offers a warped view across a sometimes-suspended, sometimes-seated ball. The artworks beg the viewer to interact with it, appreciate it from different viewpoints, and thereby take a walk through his neighborhood with him. It’s like a spherical version of Google Street View that you can hold and rotate in your hands. No matter what “side” you view one of his pieces from, it appears as though you’re looking through a fisheye lens or perhaps peering through a peephole. (Editor’s note: Article contains numerous photographs of his work, but to get a sense of how these painted balls “work”, the article includes some video clips of someone holding the balls and rotating them 360° both horizontally and vertically.)
A FINAL QUOTE
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. – Thomas Merton
A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen