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Volume 23, Number 6 – 3/15/20

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FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT–

  • A team of researchers has found evidence of a protein inside of a meteorite.
  • A recent study showed that more than 90% of tap water in the U.S. contains nanoscale plastics.
  • Check out the 10 weirdest pieces of tech the US military is testing right now.
  • The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or “doubled up” in apartments with family or friends has swelled by 70% over the past decade.

PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

“It’s an Op!” An overview of the coronavirus crisis: What it is about and where it is going

Many people have been asking me about my thoughts on the Covid-19. Looked at closely, it’s a complex subject that necessarily weaves together many strands: the virus itself and its origin, its place in the greater context of the national and international statistics on mortality, and its relation to the suppression of the human immune being caused by the roll out of the 5G communications network. And that’s just for starters. So, gathering all the information I’ve been able to find, I’ve put together a video clip on the coronavirus. Check it out.


Upcoming TransitionTalks Postponed

Sadly, our next two TransitionTalks with Regina Meredith and Gabriel Felley in April and then KRYON in early May have been affected (infected?), by the coronavirus. We will be scheduling Regina and Gabriel for a later date, and Lee Carroll and KRYON have reconfigured the event to be a livestream with all of the same participants – so you’ll be able to get updated KRYON channelings, hear Lee’s teachings and experience Amber Wolf in real time!

More is coming, I’m sure. Stay tuned!


PostScript Interview with Dr. Harold Puthoff

Here’s our interview with Hal Puthoff before his talk to a capacity crowd here in Berkeley Springs.


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:


THINK LINKS


CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Sacha Stone: Virus is Deep State Detox – (PhiBetaIota – March 17, 2020)
Sasha Stone is and activist, filmmaker and speaker. He is also the founder of the Humanitad Foundation, the New Earth Project, and the International Tribunal for Natural Justice. In this interview he shares his views on the coronavirus as a pandemonium which has been engineered by “white hats” for the purpose of forcing humanity into a slow-down at every level so that paramilitary and swat teams can cherrypick perhaps as many as half a million bad actors who need to be removed from their positions, whether it’s in the banking arena or the diplomatic-political domain, academia, the entertainment complex, etc. It’s time for a deep state clean up of society polluted by information, disinformation, and double disinformation promoted by a highly weaponized segment of academia and the media where the pornography of trivia prevails and which takes precedence over human trafficking and ritual satanic abuse which underpin our civilization – not to mention the 5G threat as the gravest stealth attack against humanity. “The corona thing, to me, is a good thing…. What I think we’re seeing now is a controlled demolition of the Deep State, and I think we’re going to see a very different world emerge in 30-45 days.”

The Best #CΟRΟNΑVΙrus News You’ve Heard All Month! – (You Tube – February 23, 2020)
This video clip discusses the connections between the coronavirus and the fact that Wuhan was the pilot city in China where a 5G (fifth generation) telecom network was first deployed. In 2015, over 200 scientists from 41 countries communicated their alarm over the safety of the technology to the United Nations. By 2019, scientists were calling for a moratorium to the roll out of the technology. The video goes on to discuss how the radiation effects of the 60 GHz bandwidth are perfectly mimicked by the symptoms of the Covid-19.

All Roads Lead to Oxygen – (Paul Stramer – February 23, 2020)
There is a cause of every disease and illness, and perhaps even death. The superficial cause is toxemia — the buildup of toxins in our blood. The actual cause, however, is lack of oxygen and things that screw up our ability to use oxygen at a cellular level. The resulting toxemia kills us, but it is the lack of oxygen that allows and promotes the toxemia. Don’t be afraid of the corona virus. We know how to beat the virus. Be afraid of the vaccine. The South Koreans have already beaten the corona virus with simple oxygen therapy — and that, too, is part and parcel of the story. The more we are exposed to high intensity electromagnetic (EM) frequencies, the more severely our blood and its oxygen-carrying capacity are impacted. There is the real danger of 5G and the reason it kills whether it is overtly weaponized or not. This is why chronic diseases are the great scourges of industrialized societies worldwide — cancer, diabetes, and coronary disease — were virtually unknown a hundred years ago — and only became common in tandem with the expansion of the electrical grid. There’s your cause and your effect. The fact that South Korea has been able to cure corona virus via the use of simple oxygen therapy simply adds the icing to the cake of conclusions we’ve drawn here. This also explains why Keshe water (GANS) kills the corona virus and “resets” the EM balance. Go to YouTube and watch Keshe’s “One Cup, One Life”, Part I and Part II.

The Coronavirus Panic & the Dollar Panic – (Armstrong Economics – March 17, 2020)
Following Monday’s (03/16) near 3k point drop in the DOW, Tuesday’s attention is brought back to the Repo market and the demand for US Dollars is off the charts! In the FX (foreign exchange) market, there has been significant demand for dollars with aggressive bids seen against the Euro -9, GBP -7 and CHF -10 for T/N (Tomorrow Next). The banning of short selling in the Euro government bond market only increases the fear of the unknown. If you can’t sell the bonds, you sell what you can and that this morning it has been the currency in Europe. The Fed offering at least $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks did not save the day. The market still plunged showing the Fed is now powerless as is the case with all central banks. We are facing the collapse of Keynesian Economics where manipulating interest rates no longer works to stimulate the economy. The government’s economic stimulus is set to quickly balloon into a trillion-dollar bailout in the coming days, which will be the largest rescue in modern American history. Instead of banks, this time we are dealing with major industries as they are screaming loudly to the Trump administration and Capitol Hill for aid. Vast portions of the economy have been undermined by this coronavirus scare which the press has turned into a financial pandemic when the number of deaths are under 8,000 compared to 1 million annually between smoking and the flu. The press has unleashed an unprecedented economic crisis and they really should be hauled in to account for what they have done.

CoronaVirus-Not What It Is Purported to Be – (Sarah Westhall – March, 2020)
In 1996, Nexus Magazine published a paper from the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology &Sound Health reporting the outcomes of a project they conducted substantiating that frequency-based antidotes could combat resistant pathogens. If the process worked, it was speculated, SUPER BUGS could not remain a threat. The article concluded: A variety of disease-causing pathogens and health problems can be identified and cancelled-out by the input of complementary frequencies and harmonics. In that article, titled Decloaking Resistant Pathogens, it was described that dark field microscopy of the blood was used to show that sound frequencies could break-away the “cloak” that pathogens use to actually “go stealth” within the body. The low frequency sounds that were presented to the blood specimen did not kill the pathogens but rather removed the self-created, protein barriers that had been created by the invading pathogen. This allowed the body’s own “killer cells” to respond to the assault. Over the years, Sound Health used the same protocols to provide countervailing frequencies to the public for flu related issues. Listings of frequency-based antidotes for many flu varieties, fevers, anti-biotic resistant pneumonias, Epstein Barr, additional invading threats… were provided for public use. This article goes on to discuss nutrients mathematically associated with the corona virus and suggests nutritional approaches to mitigating the effects of the Coronavirus. The Frequency Equivalents*™for the Coronavirus overwhelmingly correspond to the body’s use of many aspects and variabilities of Glutathione, second only to Quercitin. Both show strong relationships within the immune system. The information below is for information purposes but shows definitive negative outcomes if Glutathione and Quercetin is not available to the body.

Goldman Issues Shocking Warning On Systemic Threat From Supply-Chain Collapse – (Zero Hedge – February 24, 2020)
Suddenly the market has become obsessing with what a complete paralysis of China could mean for the world, not just in terms of millions in small and business companies shuttering and the financial sector collapsing under the weight of trillions in bad loans, but specifically how global supply chain linkages could cripple commerce across the world as corporations suddenly find themselves unable to find economic alternatives if China indeed goes dark. Relentless central bank intervention has made the global system far more brittle, or as Nassim Taleb (of “black swan” fame) would call it, extremely not anti-fragile. Thus a small shock or an unpredictable event could set in train a chain of events that could push the globalised economy over a tipping point, and into a process of negative feedback and collapse. That small shock was not a black swan, but rather a black bat in Wuhan, which has now triggered the biggest economic shock in decades, with some estimating the coronavirus will cost more than $1 trillion in lost global economic output. Goldman Sachs, in a recent report looking at the “role of supply-chain effects” in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, lays out the bigger picture: “the substantial share of US intermediate inputs sourced from China, the academic literature, and the large spillovers from the 2011 Japan earthquake to US auto production suggest that China supply chain disruptions may weigh significantly on US activity. Risks, in this case, are clearly skewed to the downside, with an increasing amount of companies suggesting potential production cuts should supply chain disruptions persist into Q2 or later. The supply chain effect is likely nonlinear with the length of the outbreak, as production is likely to remain largely unaffected until inventories run out, after which production may fall sharply.” The previous sentence is the closest anyone in authority will come to admitting that the current globalized system is so complex, so intertwined and so reflexively reliant on every component functioning properly, that nobody has any idea what will happen if a major cog – and there is no bigger cog in global supply chains than China which is responsible for a third of global economic growth in recent years – were to break.

Evidence Shows Director General of World Health Organization Severely Overstated the Fatality Rate of the Coronavirus Leading to the Greatest Global Panic in History – (Gateway Pundit – March 17, 2020)
The controversial Ethiopian politician and Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, claimed in a press conference in early March that the fatality rate for the coronavirus was many multiples that of the fatality rate of the common flu. “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.” This statement led to the greatest panic in world history as the media all over the world shared and repeated that the coronavirus was many, many times more deadly than the common flu. The problem is his statement is false. The WHO estimates the mortality rate of the coronavirus to be around 3.4%. The same rate for this year’s seasonal flu is 10% if you use known cases and known deaths (but the media tells you it’s .1%). According to CDC numbers, in the US in the 2019-2020 flu season, there were 222,552 confirmed cases of the flu from testing and an estimated 36 million flu cases in the United States. There were 22,000 estimated deaths from the flu (via the CDC). The rate of the number of individuals who died from the flu to the number of individuals who were estimated to have had the flu is .1% (22,552 / 36 million). This is an estimate and the amount used above by the Director General of the WHO. However, the rate of individuals who died from the flu relative to the number of individuals who were confirmed to have had the flu is around 10% (22,000/ 222,552). This is based on actual data similar to the rate for the coronavirus above.

Dr. Thomas Cowan, M.D. hypothesizes that Coronavirus may be history repeating itself and caused by 5G – (5G EMF – March 12, 2020)
This 10 minute video clip of Dr. Cowan focuses on a Rudolph Steiner approach to the coronavirus. Steiner saw viruses as the excretions of a toxic cell – which occur when the cell is poisoned. They are not the cause of anything, but rather a symptom. What is it a symptom of? – The significant increase in the electromagnetic radiation being caused by the 5G rollout.


INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

AI Could Help with the Next Pandemic – But Not with This One – (Technology Review – March 12, 2020)
It was an AI that first saw it coming, or so the story goes. On December 30, an artificial-intelligence company called BlueDot, which uses machine learning to monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world, alerted clients—including various governments, hospitals, and businesses—to an unusual bump in pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. It would be another nine days before the World Health Organization officially flagged what we’ve all come to know as Covid-19. BlueDot wasn’t alone. An automated service called HealthMap at Boston Children’s Hospital also caught those first signs. As did a model run by Metabiota, based in San Francisco. That AI could spot an outbreak on the other side of the world is pretty amazing, and early warnings save lives. But how much has AI really helped in tackling the current outbreak? That’s a hard question to answer. So here’s a reality check: AI will not save us from the coronavirus—certainly not this time. But there’s every chance it will play a bigger role in future epidemics—if we make some big changes. Most won’t be easy. Some we won’t like. There are three main areas where AI could help: prediction, diagnosis, and treatment. But AI needs much more data from reliable sources to be useful in this area, strategies for getting it can be controversial. There is an uncomfortable trade-off: to get better predictions from machine learning, we need to share more of our personal data with companies and governments. Darren Schulte, an MD and CEO of Apixio, which has built an AI to extract information from patients’ records, thinks that medical records from across the US should be opened up for data analysis. Just one of the problems with that is that these records are split across multiple databases and managed by different health services, which makes them harder to analyze. “I’d like to drop my AI into this big ocean of data,” he says. “But our data sits in small lakes, not a big ocean.”

Google Tracked His Bike Ride Past a Burglarized Home. That Made Him a Suspect. – (NMBC – March 7, 2020)
Mail arrived from Google’s legal investigations support team, writing to let Zachary McCoy know that local police had demanded information related to his Google account. The company said it would release the data unless he went to court and tried to block it. He had just seven days. “I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew the police wanted to get something from me,” McCoy said in a recent interview. “I was afraid I was going to get charged with something, I don’t know what.” There was one clue. In the notice from Google was a case number. McCoy searched for it on the Gainesville Police Department’s website, and found a one-page investigation report on the burglary of an elderly woman’s home 10 months earlier. The crime had occurred less than a mile from the home that McCoy, who had recently earned an associate degree in computer programming, shared with two others. Tthe notice had been prompted by a “geofence warrant,” a police surveillance tool that casts a virtual dragnet over crime scenes, sweeping up Google location data — drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections — from everyone nearby. The warrants, which have increased dramatically in the past two years, can help police find potential suspects when they have no leads. They also scoop up data from people who have nothing to do with the crime, often without their knowing ─ which Google itself has described as “a significant incursion on privacy.” Still confused ─ and very worried ─ McCoy examined his phone. An avid biker, he used an exercise-tracking app, RunKeeper, to record his rides. The app relied on his phone’s location services, which fed his movements to Google. He looked up his route on the day of the March 29, 2019, burglary and saw that he had passed the victim’s house three times within an hour, part of his frequent loops through his neighborhood, he said. “It was a nightmare scenario,” McCoy recalled. “I was using an app to see how many miles I rode my bike and now it was putting me at the scene of the crime. And I was the lead suspect.” There have been very few court challenges to Google geofence warrants, mainly because the warrants are done in secret and defense lawyers may not realize the tool was used to identify their clients.


NEW DISCOVERIES

1.5 Billion-year-old Earth Had Water Everywhere, But Not One Continent, Study Suggests – (Space – March 3, 2020)
New evidence suggests that 3.5 billion years ago the planet was covered by a vast ocean and had no continents at all. Continents appeared later, as plate tectonics thrust enormous, rocky land masses upward to breach the sea surfaces, scientists recently reported. They found clues about this ancient waterworld preserved in a chunk of ancient seafloor, now located in the outback of northwestern Australia. Around 4.5 billion years ago, high-speed collisions between dust and space rocks formed the beginnings of our planet: a bubbling, molten sphere of magma that was thousands of miles deep. Earth cooled as it spun; eventually, after 1,000 to 1 million years, the cooling magma formed the first mineral crystals in Earth’s crust. Meanwhile, Earth’s first water may have been carried here by ice-rich comets from outside our solar system, or it may have arrived in dust from the cloud of particles that birthed the sun and its orbiting planets, around the time of Earth’s formation. When Earth was a hot magma ocean, water vapor and gasses escaped into the atmosphere. “It then rained out from the atmosphere as conditions got cool enough,” said lead study author Benjamin Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at Iowa State University. “We can’t really say what the source of the water is from our work, but we do suggest that whatever the source, it was present when the magma ocean was still around,” Johnson said. (Editor’s note: A number of ancient indigenous creation stories speak of a time when the earth was all water and had no land mass; we’re just now learning that they are accurate.)

Protein Discovered Inside a Meteorite – (PhysOrg – March 3, 2020)
A team of researchers from Plex Corporation, Bruker Scientific LLC and Harvard University has found evidence of a protein inside of a meteorite. In prior research, scientists have found organic materials, sugars and some other molecules considered to be precursors to amino acids in both meteorites and comets—and fully formed amino acids have been found in comets and meteorites, as well. But until now, no proteins had been found inside of an extraterrestrial object. In this new effort, the researchers have discovered a protein called hemolithin inside of a meteorite that was found in Algeria back in 1990. The hemolithin protein found by the researchers was a small one, and was made up mostly of glycine, and amino acids. It also had oxygen, lithium and iron atoms at its ends—an arrangement never seen before. The team’s paper has not yet been peer reviewed, but once the findings are confirmed, their discovery will add another piece to the puzzle that surrounds the development of life on Earth. Proteins are considered to be essential building blocks for the development of living things, and finding one on a meteorite bolsters theories that suggest either life, or something very close to it, came to Earth from elsewhere in space.

Astronomers Use Slime Mold Model to Reveal Dark Threads of the Cosmic Web – (PhysOrg – March 10, 2020)
A computational approach inspired by the growth patterns of a bright yellow slime mold has enabled a team of astronomers and computer scientists at UC Santa Cruz to trace the filaments of the cosmic web that connects galaxies throughout the universe. Their results provide the first conclusive association between the diffuse gas in the space between galaxies and the large-scale structure of the cosmic web predicted by cosmological theory. According to the prevailing theory, as the universe evolved after the big bang, matter became distributed in a web-like network of interconnected filaments separated by huge voids. Luminous galaxies full of stars and planets formed at the intersections and densest regions of the filaments where matter is most concentrated. The filaments of diffuse hydrogen gas extending between the galaxies are largely invisible, although astronomers have managed to glimpse parts of them. None of which seems to have anything to do with a slime mold called Physarum polycephalum, typically found growing on decaying logs and leaf litter on the forest floor and sometimes forming spongy yellow masses on lawns. But Physarum has a long history of surprising scientists with its ability to create optimal distribution networks and solve computationally difficult spatial organization problems. In one famous experiment, a slime mold replicated the layout of Japan’s rail system by connecting food sources arranged to represent the cities around Tokyo. However, Physarum was the inspiration for a new algorithm they called the Monte Carlo Physarum Machine. When the new algorithm was applied to a dataset of 37,000 galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the result was a pretty convincing representation of the cosmic web.

Scientists Uncover Link between Low Tide and Earthquakes – (Science News – February 15, 2020)
For decades, scientists have failed to understand exactly why there is an uptick in earthquake tremors during low tide. A new study has finally figured out the mysterious link between the two. Christopher Scholz, seismologist at Columbia’s Earth Observatory, explained, “Because according to conventional theory, those earthquakes should occur at high tides.” However, Scholz and his team found that the answer to the mystery comes down to the magma lurking beneath the mid-ocean ridges. Scholz elaborated: the magma chambers “breathe, expand and contract” along with the tides. This is what made the faults move during low tide. He further explained that they found the correlation with low tide surprising because of the way mid-ocean faults move. Scholz described the mid-ocean faults as two pieces of the Earth. During movement, one block, the upper block, slides downward, causing friction and triggering an earthquake. Because of this, scientists believed that tremors should occur during high tide, when there is more water sitting on top of the fault. Theoretically, this would have pushed one block down and caused earthquakes. However, the decades’ worth of evidence have shown that that’s not what happens and instead, the lower block is pulled upward during low tide because of forces that are trying to push it up. With the help of the instruments, Scholz and his team inspected a component that other scientists had not considered before: the magma chambers, which are soft, pressurized pockets sitting underneath the ridge. With the help of the instruments, Scholz and his team observed that when the tide was low, there would be less water sitting on top of the chamber, giving it a lot more freedom to expand. As it puffed up, the magma chamber caused the rocks around it an incredible amount of strain, which forced the lower block on the fault to slide upward, creating an earthquake in the process.


GENETICS / HEALTH TECHNOLOGY / BIOTECHNOLOGY

Doctors Use CRISPR Gene Editing Inside a Person’s Body for First Time – (NBC – March 4, 2020)
Scientists say they have used the gene editing tool CRISPR inside someone’s body for the first time, a new frontier for efforts to operate on DNA, the chemical code of life, to treat diseases. A patient recently had it done at the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland for an inherited form of blindness. The doctors would not give details on the patient or when the surgery occurred. It may take up to a month to see if it worked to restore vision. If the first few attempts seem safe, doctors plan to test it on 18 children and adults. The people in this study have Leber congenital amaurosis, caused by a gene mutation that keeps the body from making a protein needed to convert light into signals to the brain, which enables sight. They’re often born with little vision and can lose even that within a few years. Scientists can’t treat it with standard gene therapy — supplying a replacement gene — because the one needed is too big to fit inside the disabled viruses that are used to ferry it into cells. So they’re aiming to edit, or delete the mutation by making two cuts on either side of it. The hope is that the ends of DNA will reconnect and allow the gene to work as it should. It’s done in an hour-long surgery under general anesthesia. Through a tube the width of a hair, doctors drip three drops of fluid containing the gene editing machinery just beneath the retina, the lining at the back of the eye that contains the light-sensing cells. “Once the cell is edited, it’s permanent and that cell will persist hopefully for the life of the patient,” because these cells don’t divide, said one study leader not involved in this first case, Dr. Eric Pierce at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Doctors think they need to fix one tenth to one third of the cells to restore vision. In animal tests, scientists were able to correct half of the cells with the treatment, Albright said.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Google Parent Alphabet Invents Fish Recognition System – (Financial Times – March 1, 2020)
In an attempt to boost the use of fish farms, and reduce the world’s consumption of wild fish and meat, Alphabet’s X Development has invented a system that will eventually recognize and monitor every individual fish in farms that hold hundreds of thousands. The three-year-old project, dubbed Tidal, is working with farms in Europe and Asia. It pairs underwater cameras with AI techniques such as computer vision to track species including salmon and yellowtail. The hope, according to Astro Teller, the director of X, is to reduce the world’s dependence on land-based proteins, such as beef, and to free the oceans from damaging fishing practices. The team of around a dozen X staff had to build a fresh data set of fish to train its algorithms, initially by filming in a paddling pool at its Silicon Valley headquarters. Its stereo camera rig, which is lowered into a farming enclosure, is able to track fish through their development, using their particular shapes and movements. “Some of these signals are happening in milliseconds,” said Neil Davé, who leads the Tidal project. “You’d be unable to see it with the human eye.” Data and insights collected from Tidal’s system are sent to farmers to help them optimize feeding, reduce waste and maintain healthy fish, in the hopes of easing some environmentalists’ concerns about overuse of antibiotics. “Really what we are hoping to do is provide these tools to farmers so that they can move their operations towards more sustainability,” said Mr Davé. “There may be an opportunity there to relieve some pressure on wild fishing if we made aquaculture very compelling from an operational and environmental perspective.” The sensors Tidal develops for fishing could also be used for more general ocean monitoring, where researchers often struggle to keep track of endangered species such as whales and penguins in the wild.

Pesticides Damage the Brains of Baby Bees, New Research Finds – (CNN – March 3, 2020)
In a new study, scientists examined exactly how bumblebees are affected by pesticides by scanning bumble bee brains and testing their learning abilities. They found that baby bees can feel the effects of the food contaminated by pesticides brought back by worker bees into the colony, making them poorer at performing tasks later in life. Dr. Richard Gill, a senior lecturer in the Imperial College London’s the Department of Life Sciences and an author of the study, compared it to how a fetus might be damaged by a harmful substance in the womb. “Bee colonies act as superorganisms, so when any toxins enter the colony, these have the potential to cause problems with the development of the baby bees within it,” he said. “When young bees are fed on pesticide-contaminated food, this caused parts of the brain to grow less, leading to older adult bees possessing smaller and functionally impaired brains; an effect that appeared to be permanent and irreversible.” In their experiment, the researchers spiked nectar with a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids at a similar concentration that’s been found in wild flowers. Then they introduced it into a lab-based bee colony. Once the baby bees emerged as adults, their learning ability was tested after three days, and again after 12 days. The results were compared with young bees from colonies that were fed no pesticides and those that were fed pesticides only as adults. They found that bees that were fed pesticides when they were developing as larvae showed significantly impaired learning ability compared to those that were not. To determine this, the researchers tested if bees could learn to associate a smell with a food reward, scoring how many times out of 10 each successfully performed the task. The researchers also scanned the brains of close to 100 bees involved in their study using new micro-CT scanning technology and found that those who had been exposed to pesticides had a smaller volume of an important part of the insect brain, known as the mushroom body. The mushroom body is known to be involved in learning ability in insects, and poor performance on the learning task correlated with smaller mushroom body volume, supporting the suggestion that pesticide exposure is the cause of the bees’ poor performance, the study said.

Invisible Plastics in Water – (PhysOrg – March 13, 2020))
A Washington State University research team has found that nanoscale particles of the most commonly used plastics tend to move through the water supply, especially in fresh water, or settle out in wastewater treatment plants, where they end up as sludge, in landfills, and often as fertilizer. “We are drinking lots of plastics,” said Indranil Chowdhury, an assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who led the research. “We are drinking almost a few grams of plastics every month or so. That is concerning because you don’t know what will happen after 20 years.” A recent study showed that more than 90% of tap water in the U.S. contains nanoscale plastics that are invisible to the human eye, Chowdury said. In their study, the researchers studied the fate of nanoparticles of polyethylene and polystyrene, which are used in a huge number of products, including plastic bags, personal care products, kitchen appliances, disposable drinking cups and packaging material. They examined how the tiny plastic particles behaved under various chemistries, ranging from salty seawater to water containing organic material. It’s estimated that every day about eight trillion pieces of microplastics go through wastewater treatment plants and end up in the aquatic environment.


COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

The Pentagon Is Sitting on a Chunk of Valuable Airwaves. Why? – (Politico – February 22, 2020)
The airwaves are one of the least understood resources in America — invisible and all around us, they power everything from military radar to home Wi-Fi to old-fashioned AM radio. They’re also subject of a top-level tug-of-war in Washington. Theoretically owned by the public, they’re regulated by two separate agencies, neither answerable to the other. The fast new consumer and business network known as 5G, already being touted in Super Bowl ads, will require large new swaths of the airwaves. And for the companies building it out, the most coveted piece of that invisible real estate is the “mid-band,” a set of frequencies that can carry far more data than current cellphone signals. Since the 1960s, rights over much of the mid-band have been claimed by government agencies, most notably the U.S. Department of Defense, which says it needs to use mid-band waves for research and military communications. Critics say the military is barely using those airwaves, and by squatting on the rights it is blocking American firms from developing better 5G networks. Now, as 5G moves quickly from a sales pitch to a business reality, a significant battle is erupting between wireless carriers, which want the government to free up the Pentagon’s share of the mid-band airwaves for commercial use, and Pentagon generals, who warn of national-security risks if they lose control. As they bicker, Chinese companies aren’t waiting: Huawei and others are moving quickly to build and sell equipment that exploits exactly those frequencies. As other nations stock up on infrastructure built by Huawei and other Chinese firms, gear from China is becoming the standard in much of the world — and U.S. producers fear that they’re being shut out of a quickly developing new technology by their own government. The Pentagon, too, is likely to face security concerns in its overseas operations as its mid-band channels get crowded by Chinese-built devices.

Here’s the File Clearview AI Has Been Keeping on Me, and Probably on You Too – (Motherboard – February 28, 2020)
After a recent, extensive, and rather withering bout of bad press, the facial recognition company Clearview AI has changed its homepage. Clearview’s system, the company says, is “an after-the-fact research tool. Clearview is not a surveillance system and is not built like one. For example, analysts upload images from crime scenes and compare them to publicly available images.” In doing so, it says, it has the power to help its clients—which include police departments, ICE, Macy’s, Walmart, and the FBI, according to a recent Buzzfeed report—stop criminals. What goes unsaid here is that Clearview claims to do these things by building an extremely large database of photos of ordinary U.S. citizens, who are not accused of any wrongdoing, and making that database searchable for the thousands of clients to whom it has already sold the technology. I (the author of this article) am in that database, and you probably are too. The author used the California Consumer Privacy Act to see what information the controversial facial recognition company has collected on her and presents the results in the article. What is further clear in the article is that this information is available to far more people than Clearview likes to acknowledge, and that they have future, as-yet-unannounced plans for their photos of your face. Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), wrote in an email: “EFF is disturbed that Clearview AI has made faceprints of people without their consent, and is selling personal information based on these faceprints to police departments and others. This is why we need privacy laws like the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires consent before collection of biometrics, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which empowers consumers to access the personal information a business has collected about them.”


SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

Classroom Designed to Harvest Water in Thailand – (Dezeen – February 25, 2020)
ICON and Mobile Loaves & Fishes just unveiled the first 3D-printed dwellings at Community First!, a 51-acre development that will aim to house 40% of Austin’s homeless population. The 400-square-foot houses were designed by Logan Architecture, and each one has a bedroom, a bathroom, a full kitchen, a living room, and a large porch. The homes were printed three at a time from proprietary concrete using custom machinery that’s faster and more efficient than traditional construction. The technology was critical to the development of the community—and it holds great promise for addressing both homelessness and broader affordable housing issues. ICON’s 3D-printing construction process, which makes use of robotics, automated material handling, advanced software, and a proprietary concrete, Lavacrete, offers a new way to quickly build homes that are both resilient and beautiful in a price range significantly below comparable conventional approaches.

Rich People Are Buying ‘Survival Condos’ in Abandoned Nuclear Missile Silos – (VICE – March 2020)
Imagine you are a millionaire or billionaire anxious about a deadly virus spreading around the globe ravaging populations and upending trade relations and financial markets. What would you do? Where would you go to hide from spiraling calamity? Enter Survival Condo, a 15-story deep Cold War-era missile silo that has been repurposed as a luxury condo complex. The weapons that once occupied this space were called Atlas missiles, the first missiles capable of crossing continents to deliver an Armageddon-level nuclear warhead. But by 1965 the Atlas had become obsolete and the 72 missile sites were decommissioned. Larry Hall, the developer and owner of Survival Condos, looked at these abandoned silos and saw a business opportunity. These were enormous underground cylindrical bunkers with hardened concrete walls up to nine feet thick and built to withstand a direct nuclear strike. After acquiring one such silo in 2010, Hall started the arduous task of pumping out 1.3 million gallons of accumulated rainwater and gutting the silo of rusting launch structures and debris. With the silo emptied, Hall constructed a state-of-the-art underground luxury condo building with redundant power systems, military-grade air filters and a five-year supply of food and water. Survival Condo units cost $1.5 million for 900 square feet, or $4.5 million for 3,600 square feet. And prices can go higher if you customize the space. For example, one Saudi customer opted to add an underground mosque as well as a concealed subterranean James Bond-style helicopter hanger linked by a tunnel to their unit. In the past, sales have been relatively slow. But in the era of COVID-19, that is changing. A new owner in early March went from seeing a unit online to purchasing it four days later, sight unseen, Hall said. Sales have been so strong that Hall has almost sold out his second Survival Condo facility located at another undisclosed Atlas silo site in Kansas. At 150,000 square feet, this project will be even larger and can house more people. To see photos, se the Survival Condo website.


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

This Superyacht Produces Hydrogen from Seawater As It Sails – (Disclose.tv – February 26, 2020)
The world’s first self-sufficient sea vessel, Energy Observer, is due to leave her home port of Saint-Malo in Brittany, France, shortly on the first leg of a global voyage to test and promote renewable energy technologies. The vessel uses nothing but renewable energy sources to run. Specifically, it produces hydrogen from seawater with zero CO2 emissions and zero fine particles. This vessel started out as the Formula TAG, a maxi-multihull which was designed by Nigel Irens. Its most notable achievement was to be the first sailing boat to break 500 miles in 24 hours in 1984. Since then though, she has been heavily modified to harness green electricity from solar and hydroelectric sources. Since her launch in 2017, Energy Observer has already covered 18,000 nautical miles, including a visit to the Arctic. Now, the vessel is set to go on an even larger voyage spanning the whole globe. The 4-year expedition will include three ocean crossings amounting to a total distance of over 20,000 nautical miles. Article includes photos and a video clip.

This Teenager Invented a Device That Generates Clean Energy and Purifies Water – (Natural Blaze – February 21, 2020)
Google Science Fairs are known around the world for providing a platform for innovation that change lives and affect things that matter. In 2015, 17-year-old Cynthia Sin Nga Lam was one of the top 15 finalists for her H2Pro prototype. It was a portable device that could purify water and at the same time generate electricity. The device consists of a water distillation system powered by a solar panel model. While the solar panel is generating electricity, heat from the panel is used to evaporate the water in the distillation system. The evaporated water, free from all contamination is allowed to condense and gather in a separate container. In 2019, her concept device was taken up and furthered by a group of scientists from King Abdullah University, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Details of their work can be found in This Solar-powered Device Produces Energy and Cleans Water at the Same Time. Peng Wang, an engineer at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia said that in lab experiments under a lamp whose illumination mimics the sun, a prototype device converted about 11% of incoming light into electricity. That’s comparable to commercial solar cells, which usually transform some 10 to 20% of the sunlight they soak up into usable energy. The researchers tested how well their prototype purified water by feeding saltwater and dirty water laced with heavy metals into the distiller. Based on those experiments, a device about a meter across is estimated to pump out about 1.7 kilograms of clean water per hour.


FASHION

10 New Innovative Vegan Alternatives to Leather – (Plant Based News – February 14, 2019)
Article showcases10 materials that are now being used to create materials used in the fashion industry to produce products that are more commonly made either of leather or plastic. For example: coffee, apples, wine, yeast and more. Wild? Just slightly – and stylish. See also a YouTube clip featuring a Mexican company that is making “leather” from prickly pear cactus leaves.


SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Lie Detectors Have Always Been Suspect. AI Has Made the Problem Worse. – (Technology Review – March 13, 2020)
The belief that deception can be detected by analyzing the human body has become entrenched in modern life. Despite numerous studies questioning the validity of the polygraph, more than 2.5 million screenings are conducted with the device each year, and polygraph tests are a $2 billion industry. US federal government agencies including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the CIA all use the device when screening potential employees. According to 2007 figures from the Department of Justice, more than three-quarters of all urban police and sheriff’s departments also used lie detectors to screen hires. But polygraph machines are still too slow and cumbersome to use at border crossings, in airports, or on large groups of people. As a result, a new generation of lie detectors based on artificial intelligence have emerged in the past decade. Their proponents claim they are both faster and more accurate than polygraphs. In reality, the psychological work that undergirds these new AI systems is even flimsier than the research underlying the polygraph. There is scant evidence that the results they produce can be trusted. Nonetheless, the veneer of modernity that AI gives them is bringing these systems into settings the polygraph has not been able to penetrate: border crossings, private job interviews, loan screenings, and insurance fraud claims. Corporations and governments are beginning to rely on them to make decisions about the trustworthiness of customers, employees, citizens, immigrants, and international visitors. But what if lying is just too complex for any machine to reliably identify, no matter how advanced its algorithm is?

The 10 Weirdest Pieces of Tech the Military Is Testing Right Now – (Inverse – February 20, 2020)
The US Army considers the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE) a cornerstone of its future-facing experimentation. It’s an open call for private industries to bring their latest tech for testing. AEWE is where the road meets the rubber. Here are a few AEWE technologies of 2020. For example, DAPRA’s self-guided bullet. This .50 caliber ammunition can change direction in mid-flight. Obviously useful in hitting moving targets, DARPA was testing this in 2015, but there’s been no word on it since.


TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

A Murderous System Is Being Created before Our Very Eyes – (Republik – January 31, 2020)
A made-up rape allegation and fabricated evidence in Sweden, pressure from the UK not to drop the case, a biased judge, detention in a maximum security prison, psychological torture – and soon extradition to the U.S., where he could face up to 175 years in prison for exposing war crimes. For the first time, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, speaks in detail about the explosive findings of his investigation into the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. “In December 2018, I was asked by his lawyers to intervene. I initially declined. I was overloaded with other petitions and wasn’t really familiar with the case. My impression, largely influenced by the media, was also colored by the prejudice that Julian Assange was somehow guilty and that he wanted to manipulate me. In March 2019, his lawyers approached me for a second time because indications were mounting that Assange would soon be expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy. They sent me a few key documents and a summary of the case and I figured that my professional integrity demanded that I at least take a look at the material. It quickly became clear to me that something was wrong. That there was a contradiction that made no sense to me with my extensive legal experience: Why would a person be subject to nine years of a preliminary investigation for rape without charges ever having been filed?” (Editor’s note: This case has had enormous media exposure. We recommend reading the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture whose investigation uncovers a very different picture of the situation.)

How Washington Is Ramming REAL ID Down Our Throats – (American Conservative – January 24, 2020)
The REAL ID Act has been intensely controversial since its 2005 enactment in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and fiercely opposed by both conservatives and liberals. Twenty-five states passed resolutions objecting to the law or signaling that they would not comply. The Electronic Frontier Foundation declared in 2007, “A federal law that aims to conscript the states into creating a national ID system… is precisely the kind of scheme that the framers expected that federalism would guard against.” But the Department of Homeland Security has compelled submission by announcing that the Transportation Security Agency will prohibit Americans from flying unless they have either a REAL ID Act-approved driver’s license or a passport. The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the “‘constitutional right to travel from one State to another’ is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence.” But REAL ID Act policies have routinely scorned both the Bill of Rights and Supreme Court rulings. The REAL ID Act specifies a “mandatory facial image capture” for every applicant for a driver’s license which must be “retained in electronic storage in a transferable format.” As Techdirt recently reported, “Federal investigators have turned state Department of Motor Vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure.” The FBI is regularly tapping into databases with more than 600 million facial photos. But citizens have nothing to fear because, as the FBI’s Kimberly Del Greco recently testified to Congress, facial recognition technology is critical ‘‘to preserve our nation’s freedoms, ensure our liberties are protected, and preserve our security.’’ Ms. Del Greco did not invoke China’s example to appease apprehensions on potential abuses of facial recognition regimes.


INTERNATIONAL TRENDS

Americans Are Told Every Day That Russians Are Interfering in Our Politics. We’ve Been Interfering in Russia’s for a Century. (Boston Globe – March 10, 2020)
The American and Russian governments have adopted startlingly similar views of each other. Each believes that the other is systematically and malignantly intervening in its internal politics. This feeds a spiral of mistrust and anger. We have not yet returned to the extreme of 1919, when the United States sent combat troops to Russia in an attempt to preserve Western influence there. Yet Russians have reason to suspect that the United States is still trying to guide the course of their history. For example, in 1996 President Boris Yeltsin, who had presided over an epic collapse of living standards in Russia, seemed headed for electoral defeat. That threatened America’s influence over Russia. President Bill Clinton told his advisers, “I want this guy to win so bad it hurts.” A team of American political consultants flew to Russia, took over Yeltsin’s campaign and, using media techniques not previously seen there, steered him to an improbable victory. This direct intervention in Russian politics was hardly clandestine. Time magazine published a gleeful account soon afterward, with a drawing of Yeltsin on the cover waving an American flag over the headline “Yanks to the Rescue.” In the years since Putin’s emergence, the United States has returned to its default view of Russia as a bloodthirsty enemy. We have imposed a maze of sanctions on Russian individuals and corporations. Our military surrounds Russia just as Russians would surround us if they had bases across Canada and Mexico. We have renounced treaties that once restrained our rivalry. Depending on one’s point of view, these steps are either aggressive provocations or simply measured responses to Russian threats and misdeeds. Either way, Russians may be forgiven for believing that the United States wishes their country neither prosperity nor stability.


LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

The Research on Why Men Kill Their Families – (The Conversation – February 24, 2020)
In Australia, on average, one woman is killed each week by her partner. Familicides – family murders in which a perpetrator murders their partner and children – are much rarer, but research tells us that how we think, talk and write about these cases matters. To call an act of violence gender-based is not merely to suggest it is male violence against women, although it often is. It is violence that is driven in a central way by the social and structural dimensions of gender. This means gender plays an important role in who perpetrates the violence, who is targeted, how and why. In the case of familicides, research shows they are almost exclusively committed by men in heterosexual family relationships. A history of domestic violence is a key risk factor. Individual familicide studies show varying rates, but a recent review of existing studies found a history of domestic violence was identified in 39% to 92% of cases. Another key risk factor is the adult victim leaving or communicating their intention to leave the relationship. However, a desire for and sense of entitlement to control – especially over finances and the family “unit” – is a more common denominator. Familicide often occurs in the face of a spiraling loss of control over these areas, especially by a male “head of the household”. That loss of control over “masculine” domains is at the heart of familicides, even where there is no clear history of domestic abuse. Many of these factors were present in recent familicide cases in Australia – financial struggles, imminent separation or custody disputes, and careful planning of the murders. News reporting on recent familicide cases has often focused on the personal circumstances of perpetrators, their financial troubles and the “pain” and “heartache” they must have felt. Too often, when fathers kill their children, the tendency is to frame it as a case of mental illness rather than gender-driven violence. Even Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a tweet on the recent Clarke family murders (former spouse and three children), took care to include mental health support numbers but did not provide contact details for those experiencing domestic or family violence. Calling violence gendered has fuelled a culture war in recent years – but if we want to address familicide, we need to put this aside and use the knowledge available to tackle underlying causes.

114,000 Students in N.Y.C. Are Homeless. These Two Let Us into Their Lives. – (New York Times – November 19, 2019)
The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or “doubled up” in apartments with family or friends has swelled by 70% over the past decade — a crisis without precedent in the city’s history. By day, New York’s 114,085 homeless students live in plain sight: They study on the subway and sprint through playgrounds. At night, these children sometimes sleep in squalid, unsafe rooms, often for just a few months until they move again. School is the only stable place they know. This article follows two homeless students throughout one day. Sandy is one of over 73,000 homeless students who lived “doubled up” last year. In one place Sandy’s family used to live, a roommate tried to kill a neighbor. In another apartment, the family was barred from using the kitchen by their housemates and had to eat in the bedroom. Two at a time, the children brush their teeth. Staggering is essential — currently her family shares of six the bathroom and the kitchen of the two-bedroom apartment with another family of four. Over 70% of the city’s homeless students failed state English exams last year, and less than 60% of homeless children graduated from the city’s public high schools. See also: Underground Lives: The Sunless World of Immigrants in Queens, where owners of one- and two-family homes have carved up their basements into makeshift dorms, illicitly constructed with narrow hallways, windowless bedrooms, shaky walls and electrical wiring strung together like knotted shoelaces. There is no accurate count of how many exist, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. (Editor’s note: We recommend both of these excellent photo essays.)


CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Scientists Are Starting to Take Warp Drives Seriously, Especially This One Concept – (Science Alert – March 1, 2020)
In recent years, the scientific community has become understandably excited and skeptical about claims that a particular concept – the Alcubierre Warp Drive – might actually be feasible. This was the subject of a presentation made at this year’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Propulsion and Energy Forum. As part of a session titled “The Future of Nuclear and Breakthrough Propulsion”, Joseph Agnew, an undergraduate engineer and research assistant from the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Propulsion Research Center, shared the results of a study he conducted titled “An Examination of Warp Theory and Technology to Determine the State of the Art and Feasibility”. Originally proposed by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994, this concept for an FTL (Faster Than Light) system is viewed as a highly theoretical (but possibly valid) solution to the Einstein field equations, which describe how space, time and energy in our Universe interact. In layman’s terms, the Alcubierre Drive achieves FTL travel by stretching the fabric of space-time in a wave, causing the space ahead of it to contract while the space behind it expands. In short, the Alcubierre Metric allows for FTL travel without violating the laws of relativity in the conventional sense.

Something Strange Is Going On with the North Star – (Live Science – March 11, 2020)
People have watched the North Star for centuries. The problem with Polaris is that no one can agree on how big or distant it is. Astrophysicists have a few ways to calculate the mass, age and distance of a star like Polaris. One method is a stellar evolution model, said new study co-author Hilding R. Neilson, an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto. Researchers can study the brightness, color and rate of pulsation of the star and use that data to figure out how big and bright it is and what stage of life it’s in. Once those details are worked out, Neilson told Live Science, it’s not hard to figure out how far away the star is; it’s fairly simple math once you know how bright the star really is and how dim it looks from Earth. These models are especially precise for cepheids, because their rate of pulsing is directly related to their luminosity, or brightness. That makes it easy to calculate the distance to any of these stars. Astronomers are so sure they understand that relationship that cepheids have become critical tools for measuring distances all across the universe. But there are other ways to study Polaris, and those methods don’t agree with the stellar evolution models. Those measurements say it’s about 3.45 times the mass of the sun, give or take 0.75 solar masses. That’s way less than the mass you get from stellar evolution models, which suggest a value of about seven times the mass of the sun. Hilding R. Neilson, an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto, together with Haley Blinn, an undergraduate student and researcher there, generated a huge set of models of Polaris to see whether those models could reconcile all the data known about the system. They couldn’t.


STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

8 Million Americans Have Been Forced to Start Crowdfunding Campaigns to Cover Medical Costs, Survey Shows – (Common Dreams – February 19, 2020)
An estimated eight million people in the U.S. have started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for their own or a member of their household’s healthcare costs, according to a survey. The poll, which was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, also found that in addition to the millions who have launched crowdfunding efforts for themselves or a member of their household, at least 12 million more Americans have started crowdfunding efforts for someone else. Fifty million Americans have donated to such fundraising efforts, the survey showed. The survey found that 60% of Americans believe the government—not charities, family members, or friends—has a “great deal or a lot of responsibility” to provide “help when medical care is unaffordable.” “I have to presume that most crowdfunding campaigns fail,” tweeted single-payer advocate Tim Faust. “So here’s the future of American healthcare: costs keep going up; they keep being pushed onto patients by insurers; whether you drown in medical debt is a function of luck, popularity, and how much sympathy you can garner.”


NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Scientists Draw Inspiration from Shark Skin for New Smart Material – (Ars Technica – March 13, 2020)
So-called “acoustic metamaterials” are specifically designed to control and manipulate sound waves, usually for the purpose of dampening or transmitting sound. But such an acoustic device can only perform the function for which it was created, such as dampening outgoing sound in a submarine, for example. That same device could not be repurposed to communicate with another passing vessel should the situation aboard the submarine require it; a different acoustic device must be used, one developed expressly for that purpose. Now a team of scientists from the University of Southern California have developed an acoustic metamaterial that can switch between different uses by applying carefully tailored magnetic fields, according to a new paper in the journal Research. The magnetic fields can be used to mimic the function of switches, logic gates, or diodes, raising the possibility of a sound “computer.” “With traditional acoustic metamaterials, you create one structure and you achieve one property. With this new smart material, we can achieve multiple properties with just one structure,” co-author Qiming Wang said.They molded the pillars out of liquid silicone rubber (to ensure flexibility) combined with iron nanoparticles, curing the mixture for about five hours before removing them from the molds. The secret to blocking or transmitting sound lies in the structure: in this case, the space between an array of pillars. Put the pillars close together, and they will trap sound waves rather than letting them pass through. Place them farther apart, and the sound can propagate through the material. The iron nanoparticles make the material bend in response to external magnetic fields. “We use the external magnetic field to bend the pillar and unbend the pillar to achieve this sort of state switching,” co-author Kyung Hoon Lee said. That allows the material to switch back and forth between damping and transmitting sound waves. Wang et al. were able to get the material to mimic a switch, for instance, such as those found in noise-cancelling headphones. They also found their new material could mimic a diode, in which sound waves can only travel one way. Unlike conventional acoustic metamaterials, this new class can switch between one-way and two-way transmission of sound just by tuning the magnetic field—useful for sonic camouflage (e.g., a sonic “invisibility cloak” for submarines), for instance.


ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Silicon Valley Abandons the Culture That Made It the Envy of the World – (Atlantic – January 15, 2020)
Once upon a time, in the notorious start-up cradle, small was beautiful. The key words were decentralized and fluid. Innovation itself required small firms with new visions. That’s how disruption happened, no? Then the post-dot-com generation of companies became the most ubiquitous and valuable corporations in the world, and Silicon Valley’s rhetoric began to change. Over time, the leaders of Facebook and Google, specifically, began to argue a new line: The most innovative, competitive companies are not small and nimble, but big and rich with user data. The real game isn’t among American internet companies; it’s global, and pits American giants against Chinese corporations, governments, and values. This is a full reversal of the language that tech promoters used to sell Silicon Valley–style innovation and competitiveness for decades. This sort of talk prompts one obvious, knee-jerk response: It’s simply hypocrisy. But there’s a more troubling possibility. Maybe something has changed about the nature of innovation, at least in software.


PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

The Secret to Enjoying Nature Is … Your Phone – (Wired – February 26, 2020)
Nature is the opposite of smartphones—it is as good for us as smartphones are bad. When I recently checked my iPhone Screen Time data, it reported an average of 4.5 hours per day. Should I be embarrassed? I wondered. What number was respectable? It was my social media-less friend Kristen who first mentioned iNaturalist to me. She was looking for a collaborative way to learn more about the native plants in Los Angeles, where she had recently relocated. iNaturalist describes itself as “an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature.” The open-data project allows users to log their observations into a map, as well as contribute to others’ observations. iNaturalist has a partner app called Seek for people like me, who don’t even know the names of the house plants they own. Seek assists citizen scientists in the making by using image recognition technology to identify a species when you hold your camera up to it. Sure, solving my phone use issue with an app might seem counterintuitive, but iNaturalist sounded so beautifully earnest. After downloading the app, I clicked on the “Explore” tab and the map of my current location appeared, dotted with recently identified living species, including photos and descriptions. Right outside my apartment door, a tree with red berries known as the common yew (Taxus baccata) was identified. That’s funny, I thought. I’ve never noticed a red-berried tree before. I opened my front door, ready to discredit the entire app and project, but there it was, a tree with red berries, less than 10 feet away. I’d walked past that tree at least twice a day for six months and had never seen it. Learning the shapes and names of plants reminded me of what it felt like to learn to read—once I had the power to decode writing, suddenly I saw words everywhere I looked. Once I recognized the plants in my neighborhood, the barren winter landscape was transformed.


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

Why Do So Many Cats Have White ‘Socks’ on Their Paws? – (Live Science – February 29, 2020)
This story started about 10,000 years ago, when humans and cats decided life was better together. “As humans became farmers and started staying in one place, they had grain stores and refuse piles” that attracted rodents, said Leslie Lyons, professor emerita and head of the Feline Genetics Laboratory at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement: the humans had fewer rodents to deal with and the cats got an easy meal. The wild, undomesticated progenitor species of house cats, Felis silvestris, lives in Africa and Eurasia. These felines are tasty snacks as kittens and stealthy predators as adults, so individuals born with a coat that offers camouflage have tended to survive and reproduce. But not every F. silvestris is born with a coat that blends into its habitat. “Genetic mutations are occurring all the time,” Lyons said. In its native mixed forest or scrub desert environment, a cat with stark white paws would have stood out to predators and prey. When humans started taking an interest in cats, these white paws would have stood out to them, too. These distinctive fur colors and markings emerge while a cat embryo is developing. The cells that give cat fur its color first appear as neural crest cells, which are located along what will become the back, Lyons said. Then, those cells slowly migrate down and around the body. If those waves of cells move far enough to meet each other on the cat’s front side, the embryo will be born a solid-colored kitten, such as an all-black or all-orange cat. Felines develop white feet, faces, chests and bellies when these cells don’t quite make it all the way. Humans probably also selected for cats who were calm and comfortable around humans, Lyons said. Behavioral traits seem unrelated to coat color, but for reasons that scientists don’t fully understand, white spots tend to appear when the tamest individuals are selected and bred. It’s true of horses, pigs, mice, cows and rats.

Last Meals on Death Row, a Peculiarly American Fascination – (New York Times – March 10, 2020)
While more than 50 nations have the death penalty and continue to use it, only the United States appears to have acquired a highly developed literature on its culinary aspect, both popular and scholarly: There are countless accounts of orders for fried chicken and burgers, for tubs of ice cream and chocolate-chip cookies; for the food of a great childhood day out, ordered by men — and it is mostly men — about to be executed by the state. The average meal came in at 2,756 calories, but four requests, from Texas and Oklahoma, were estimated to have gone beyond 7,000. The choices headed deep into diner territory — 70% of the prisoners asked for fried food. Many requested specific brands: 16% ordered Coca-Cola, and three inmates wanted Diet Coke. The fascination in the United States stems in part from a well-established true-crime culture, said Ty Treadwell, an author of the book “Last Suppers: Final Meals From Death Row,” first published in 2001 and still in print. “The line between news and entertainment in the U.S. has become somewhat blurred,” he said in a phone interview. “And people are interested in lives very different from their own, be they the Kardashians or death-row inmates.” Robert Dunham is executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit group that provides analysis and information about capital punishment but does not take a position. He described the interest in death-row meals as “voyeuristic sensationalism. It has nothing to do with the merits or flaws of capital punishment.” It seems that, because we’re no longer able to huddle around the steps of the gallows to watch executions up close, we make do with a litany of familiar dishes reported from afar. From that, we attempt to understand a little more about the person behind the terrible crime they may have committed and, in turn, try to imagine the terrible punishment that follows. It’s a curious obsession, given that these death-row dinner requests probably tell us very little about either. They also happen to be a very long way from our idle fantasies of the one meal that we hope might define us, when we ourselves are a very long way from death – or so we hope.


JUST FOR FUN

24 Cakes That Are Too Sweet to Eat – (Earth Porm – no date)
Baking isn’t only a culinary talent – it’s a visual art as well. With the right ingredients bakers can create something breathtakingly beautiful as well as delicious. Cake artists often use fondant to create toppings that resemble anything but food, although bakers have many other tricks up their aprons as well. The creative cakes on this list are a feast for your eyes and your tummy… although it might be a bit painful to cut into any one of these delicious masterpieces.


A FINAL QUOTE

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – R. Buckminster Fuller


A special thanks to: Jim Bovard, 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.
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Edited by John L. Petersen
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Volume 23, Number 5 – 3/1/20

PostScript – It's an Op – by John L. Petersen