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Volume 24, Number 4 – 2/15/21

 

 


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Volume 24, Number 4 – 2/15/21

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FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT–

  • A Kenyan startup is using plastic waste to manufacture bricks that are 5 times stronger than concrete.
  • Marine animals can only see across tens of meters at most, and can smell across hundreds of meters, but they can hear across entire ocean basins.
  • A monkey has been wired up to play video games with its mind.
  • An additive has been developed that will permit plastic to biodegrade harmlessly in just under a year.



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GETTING READY:
The Practical Process of Preparation for the Coming Changes

You’ve noticed, of course, that everything is coming unglued. Almost all of the institutions, relationships and supports that we have all developed to sustain ourselves emotionally – to say nothing of economically and socially – are moving and being called into question. We’ve entered a time of rapidly increasing fluidity where it’s becoming harder and harder to know what is really REAL, and what the future might hold. The world is becoming “surreal-er and surreal-er.”

Futurist John Petersen returns to TransitionTalks on the 17th of April to specifically address what he has discovered from extracting the characteristics and options available to us all at this leading edge of change. John will present an integrated approach to surfing the great shift that offers the best ideas from conventional assessors of change management coupled with big-picture understandings of this evolutionary jump, where it may be going and . . . how we can all begin to change how we live to be able to ride this wave rather than be battered on the rocks of personal chaos that will confront many around us.

This will be an unusual – and special – opportunity to begin to both understand what is headed this way and to learn of specific, practical ways in which prepare for and navigate the turbulent times ahead.

LIVESTREAM or IN PERSON


April 17, 2021


Coolfont Resort, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia


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CLICK ABOVE TO READ TRANSITION TALKS MAGAZINE


THINK LINKS



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Criminals Are Selling Fake Covid Test Results as They Look to Profit from Travel Restrictions – (CNBC – February 1, 2021)
The EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, has reported an increase in cases of fraudulent Covid-19 test certificates being sold to travelers. It comes as an increasing number of countries in the European Union and beyond oblige travelers to present a negative coronavirus test in order to be allowed entry, when travelling from a high-risk area. In its latest Early Warning Notification, which Europol issues to alert EU member states of new or increasingly prevalent forms of criminal activity, the agency said the latest case of this crime had been detected in Luton Airport in the U.K., where a man was arrested trying to sell false coronavirus test results. Elsewhere in the U.K., fraudsters were caught selling bogus Covid-19 test documents for £100 ($137). A forgery ring at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, for example, was “dismantled” after being found selling forged negative test results to passengers, Europol said. The amount charged for the fake test documents ranged between 150-300 Euros ($181-$363). Another fraudster was apprehended in Spain for selling false negative test certificates on the internet for 40 Euros, and in the Netherlands, scammers were discovered selling fake negative test results for 50-60 Euros through messaging apps.


Just Say No – (Armstrong Economics – February 9, 2021)
My cousin was a front-line nurse. She caught COVID and got over it. The hospital made her get the vaccine. After the first dose, she had a stroke. Fortunately, she has recovered. She has now refused the second dose. Another friend whose son-in-law works in a hospital was ordered to take the vaccine. He was in his 30s. He ended up violently ill for about one week. This entire drive to mandate vaccinations is political. The death toll is less than 0.02% compared to nearly 4% for the 1918 Spanish Flu. Dr. Fauci is a very dangerous man is saying that 75% of Americans need to be vaccinated before we can return to normal. Nearly 40% of the people in France and 23% in Germany say they definitely or probably will not get vaccinated against Covid-19, as reported by the Guardian. In Italy, it was 12% and in the UK it was 14%. Over in the Netherlands, it was at 17%. Meanwhile, 57% of people from minority ethnic backgrounds say they will get the vaccine. We also have Fauci now appearing with the World Economic Forum promo for the Great Reset now saying “inequality” has to be fixed. Where is this in his portfolio of expertise? Fauci made it clear at the outset that a mask will not prevent you from getting the disease. Indeed, when I went to the doctor and said I did not even know anyone with COVID, they said I could have gotten it from pumping my own gas. These people have deliberately destroyed the economy for climate purposes – not for a virus.


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Billionaire Capitalists Are Designing Humanity’s Future. Don’t Let Them – (Guardian – February 5, 2021)
Last year a group of cryptocurrency investors purchased a decommissioned cruise liner, the Pacific Dawn, and renamed it the MS Satoshi, after the alleged creator of Bitcoin. The investors were members of the “seasteading” community, an experimental movement that wants to create autonomous, floating city-states in international waters. The MS Satoshi project was a failure. In a major blow to the seasteading movement, the ship was sold for parts in December, after the ship’s owners were unable to get insurance for their voyage into international waters. (They hold out hope, however, of creating a luxury development of science-fiction-esque pod apartments off the coast of New Jersey.) The saga highlights one of the most troubling aspects of what could be called the futurism movement: a majority of the compelling and visible ideas about tomorrow are being conceived and developed by a tiny minority of ultra-wealthy individuals and private-sector companies. Unlike many of the forward-thinking proposals of the past – produced by a “public” of academics, artists and government agencies – today’s “future” is almost completely invented by private companies owned by tech billionaires. What is at stake when we buy in? What does it mean when the future is privatized? This kind of speculation is ultimately about dictating policy and ownership. If companies control the image of the future, then they control the future itself, and can control the infrastructure. Ultimately, they will define how society functions. Platforms like Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Robinhood have become massive infrastructures that control large parts of our economy and the public sphere. (Editor’s note: This article doesn’t answer any of the questions it raises; its value is simply in raising them.)


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Substance Found in Antarctic Ice May Solve a Martian Mystery – (Science – January 26, 2021)
Researchers have discovered a common Martian mineral deep within an ice core from Antarctica. The find suggests the mineral—a brittle, yellow-brown substance known as jarosite—was forged the same way on both Earth and Mars: from dust trapped within ancient ice deposits. It also reveals how important these glaciers were on the Red Planet: Not only did they carve valleys, the researchers say, but they also helped create the very stuff Mars is made of. Jarosite was first spotted on Mars in 2004, when the NASA Opportunity rover rolled over fine-grained layers of it. The discovery made headlines because jarosite needs water to form, along with iron, sulfate, potassium, and acidic conditions. These requirements aren’t easily satisfied on Mars, and scientists began to theorize how the mineral could have become so abundant. Giovanni Baccolo, a geologist at the University of Milan-Bicocca and lead author on the new study, suggests that the jarosite was born within massive ice deposits that might have blanketed the planet billions of years ago. As ice sheets grew over time, dust would have accumulated within the ice—and may have been transformed into jarosite within slushy pockets between ice crystals. But the process had never been observed anywhere in the Solar System. On Earth, jarosite can be found in piles of mining waste that have been exposed to air and rain, but it’s not common. No one expected to find it in Antarctica. Megan Elwood Madden, a geochemist at the University of Oklahoma who was not involved with the research, wonders whether the process can explain the huge abundance of jarosite on Mars. “On Mars, this is not just some thin film,” she says. “These are meters-thick deposits.”


More Evidence That Neanderthals Were ‘Absorbed’ by Humans, Not Wiped Out – (Gizmodo – February 1, 2021)
Prehistoric teeth found over 100 years ago are some of the best evidence yet for hybridized communities of Neanderthals and modern humans. We know that Neanderthals and early modern humans interbred—our DNA tells us so—but fossil evidence in this regard is surprisingly lacking. Hence the importance of the new research paper, published in the Journal of Human Evolution. The evidence consists of prehistoric teeth recovered from the La Cotte de St. Brelade cave site in Jersey, an island located in the English Channel, in 1910 and 1911. The teeth, belonging to two individuals, exhibit characteristics consistent with interbreeding, pointing to the presence of hybridized populations. The tooth roots look very Neanderthal, whereas the neck and crowns of the teeth look much more like those of modern humans. There is now “considerable DNA evidence that interbreeding happened, both from fossils and modern genomes,” said Chris Stringer, a co-author of the new study and an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum in London. That said, archaeologists “still don’t know the exact circumstances, nor how much this was a blending absorption of the Neanderthals into expanding modern human populations,” added Stringer. That communities of mixed ancestry existed during the Middle Paleolithic, some 48,000 years ago, is potential evidence that “extinction” is probably not the best word to describe the fate of Neanderthals. Instead, these hominins, and their DNA, were absorbed by the increasingly dominant newcomers to Europe: modern humans (Homo sapiens).


‘Minibrains’ with a Neanderthal Gene Offer Hints about Human Evolution – (NPR – February 12, 2021)
Fossils offer a detailed record of early human skulls, but not the brains inside them. So researchers have been using genetic material taken from those fossils to search for clues about how the human brain has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. And now they have succeeded in growing human brain organoids, or “minibrains,” that contain the Neanderthal variant of a gene called NOVA1. “The archaic version of the gene changes the shape of these organoids,” says Alysson Muotri, a professor at the University of California, San Diego and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Instead of growing into a sphere with a smooth surface, he says, the Neanderthal organoids have an outermost layer that is uneven. Organoids with the ancient NOVA1 gene also appear to mature more quickly and remain smaller than their modern counterparts, Muotri says. “The neurons start to get more active at very early stages,” he says. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that modern humans evolved big brains that continue to develop long after birth in order to navigate complex social systems. A brain that matures quickly is more capable at birth. But it’s less likely to continue developing during childhood — the period when modern humans acquire important social skills.


Weddell Seals Can Produce Ultrasonic Vocalizations – (SciNews – December 28, 2020)
Marine biologists from the University of Oregon and the University of New Brunswick have recorded common, previously unknown, ultrasonic vocalizations produced by Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), the world’s southernmost-ranging mammal. They’ve identified nine recurrent call types in more than one year (2017-2018) of broadband acoustic data obtained by a continuously recording underwater observatory in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Weddell seals have a circumpolar distribution around Antarctica, including the highest-latitude coastal regions. In contrast to the other Antarctic seals, they prefer expanses of heavy pack ice or thick shore-fast sea ice, using their teeth to maintain access holes in the ice. They dive to at least 600 m (2,000 feet) and for up to 82 minutes on one breath in search of fish and invertebrate prey year round. Scientists had first identified 34 seal call types at sonic frequencies in 1982, tying the sounds to social interactions. “The Weddell seals’ calls create an almost unbelievable, otherworldly soundscape under the ice,” said lead author Professor Paul Cziko, a researcher in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon. “It really sounds like you’re in the middle of a space battle in ‘Star Wars,’ laser beams and all.” Professor Cziko and colleagues began recording the seals’ sonic-ranged vocalizations in 2017 after completing the installation of the McMurdo Oceanographic Observatory. Over the next two years, the observatory’s broadband digital hydrophone picked up the higher-frequency vocalizations during passive monitoring of the seals. “We kept coming across these ultrasonic call types in the data,” said co-author Dr. Lisa Munger, also from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon. “Finally, it dawned on us that the seals were actually using them quite regularly.” The nine new call types identified by the team were composed of single or multiple vocal elements having ultrasonic fundamental frequencies. This fascinating 4 minute video clip shows underwater footage of the seals taken by the McMurdo Oceanographic Observatory and includes some of their sounds that are in the human audible range.


Devious Sperm Poison Their Rivals, Forcing Them to Swim in Circles until They Die – (Live Science – February 12, 2021)
Some sperm cells are ruthless manipulators that will literally poison their competition in the race to fertilize an egg, new research shows. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) in Berlin studied mouse sperm cells under the microscope to better understand the effects of a particular DNA sequence known as the t-haplotype. The team knew from previous research that sperm cells carrying this sequence tend to swim straighter (rather than in circles of death) and faster on average than competing sperm without it. Now, they’ve found that those highly-effective sperms’ tactics are a little less than sportsmanly. “Sperm with the t-haplotype manage to disable sperm without it,” study co-author Bernhard Herrmann, director at the MPIMG, said in a statement. “The trick is that the t haplotype ‘poisons’ all sperm, but at the same time produces an antidote, which acts only in t-sperm [those with the t-haplotype] and protects them.” The result, Herrmann said, is sort of like a marathon “in which all the participants get poisoned drinking water,” but only some of the runners have access to the antidote. “Our data highlight the fact that sperm cells are ruthless competitors,” Herrmann added. “Genetic differences can give individual sperm an advantage in the race for life, thus promoting the transmission of particular gene variants to the next generation.”


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Israeli Scientists Say They’ve Found ‘Achilles’ Heel’ of Cancer Cells – (Jerusalem Post – January 28, 2021)
Dr. Uri Ben-David of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, who led the research, said that scientists have known for well over a century that malignant cells have an abnormal number of chromosomes. Humans have 46 chromosomes (two sets of 23) but in cancer this number changes because, during cell division, chromosome segregation takes place that can lead to a phenomenon called aneuploidy. Aneuploidy, the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell, not only causes common genetic disorders but is also a hallmark of cancer cells. Not all cancers exhibit aneuploidy, but roughly 90% of solid tumors and 75% of blood cancers do, to a certain degree. According to Ben-David, the findings open up an entirely new avenue for medical research. Scientists found that aneuploid cancer cells were highly sensitive to the perturbation of the mitotic checkpoint — a so-called cellular mechanism which ensures proper separation of chromosomes during cell division. “That enabled us to identify unique vulnerabilities of the aneuploid cells that we went on and characterized in depth at the molecular and cellular level,” Ben-David said. “We found that if you inhibit the proteins of these pathways, the aneuploid cells are more sensitive to this interference than normal cells … therefore, they make for attractive targets for drug discovery and drug development.” At the moment, several drugs that inhibit or delay the separation of chromosomes are in clinical trials but researchers have been unable to identify which patients would respond to them or not. Ben-David’s study suggests that aneuploidy could help scientists determine an individual’s response to these drugs. Furthermore, honing in on these chromosomal abnormalities also could lead to the development of more effective cancer treatments in the future, since doctors could test for aneuploidy and craft a treatment accordingly.


A Growing Share of Lung Cancer Cases Is Turning Up in an Unexpected Population – (Stat News – January 26, 2021)
Cigarette smoking is still the single greatest cause of lung cancer, but 12% of U.S. lung cancer patients are never-smokers. “Since the early 2000s, we have seen what I think is truly an epidemiological shift in lung cancer,” said surgeon Andrew Kaufman of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, whose program for never-smokers has treated some 3,800 patients in 10 years. “If lung cancer in never-smokers were a separate entity, it would be in the top 10 cancers in the U.S.” for both incidence and mortality. A 2017 study of 12,103 lung cancer patients in three representative U.S. hospitals found that never-smokers were 8% of the total from 1990 to 1995 but 14.9% from 2011 to 2013. The authors ruled out statistical anomalies and concluded that “the actual incidence of lung cancer in never smokers is increasing.” Another study that same year, of 2,170 patients in the U.K., found an even larger increase: The proportion of lung cancer patients who were never-smokers rose from 13% in 2008 to 28% in 2014. To a great extent, this is a function of straightforward math: because there are fewer smokers in the population, out of every 100 lung cancer patients, fewer will therefore be smokers. And that means more of them will be never-smokers. But there are also hints that the absolute incidence of lung cancer in never-smokers has been rising. Some data say it has, but other data say no. A low-dose CT could catch lung cancer in a significant number of never-smokers. Worldwide, 15% of male lung cancer patients are never-smokers. But fully half of female lung cancer patients never smoked. And women never-smokers are twice as likely to develop lung cancer as men who never put a cigarette to their lips. But, with the possible exception of genetics and indoor pollution (cooking fires in some low-income countries), no risk factors affect women more than men. So what’s going on? This article suggests some answers.


How Ecstasy and Psilocybin Are Shaking up Psychiatry – (Nature – January 27, 2021)
A spate of clinical trials has been launched over the past few years using illicit psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as molly or ecstasy) to treat mental-health disorders, generally with the close guidance of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. The idea has been around for decades — or centuries in some cultures — but the momentum has picked up drastically over the past few years as investors and scientists have begun to champion the approach again. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy could provide needed options for debilitating mental-health disorders including PTSD, major depressive disorder, alcohol-use disorder, anorexia nervosa and more that kill thousands every year in the United States, and cost billions worldwide in lost productivity. But the strategies represent a new frontier for regulators. “This is unexplored ground as far as a formally evaluated intervention for a psychiatric disorder,” says Walter Dunn, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who sometimes advises the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on psychiatric drugs. Most drugs that treat depression and anxiety can be picked up at a neighborhood pharmacy. These new approaches, by contrast, use a powerful substance in a therapeutic setting under the close watch of a trained psychotherapist, and regulators and treatment providers will need to grapple with how to implement that safely. A treatment might show benefits in a trial because the experience is carefully coordinated, and everyone is well trained. A source working on one of the trials says that discussions are under way with the FDA over whether therapists who administer the drugs ought to be trained, what that training might involve and whether therapist certification should be required. Placebo controls pose another challenge because the drugs have such powerful effects. And there are risks. In extremely rare instances, psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD can evoke a lasting psychotic reaction, more often in people with a family history of psychosis. Those with schizophrenia, for example, are excluded from trials involving psychedelics as a result.


Alzheimer’s Prediction May Be Found in Writing Tests – (New York Times – February 1, 2021)
People with a wide variety of neurological illnesses have distinctive language patterns that, investigators suspect, may serve as early warning signs of their diseases. IBM researchers and others say that Alzheimer’s is just the beginning. For the Alzheimer’s study, the researchers looked at a group of 80 men and women in their 80s — half had Alzheimer’s and the others did not. But, seven and a half years earlier, all had been cognitively normal. The men and women were participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running federal research effort that requires regular physical and cognitive tests. As part of it, they took a writing test before any of them had developed Alzheimer’s. The researchers examined the subjects’ word usage with an artificial intelligence program that looked for subtle differences in language. It identified one group of subjects who were more repetitive in their word usage at that earlier time when all of them were cognitively normal. These subjects also made errors, such as spelling words wrong or inappropriately capitalizing them, and they used telegraphic language, meaning language that has a simple grammatical structure and is missing subjects and words like “the,” “is” and “are.” The members of that group turned out to be the people who developed Alzheimer’s disease. The A.I. program predicted, with 75% accuracy, who would get Alzheimer’s disease, according to results published recently in The Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine.


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China Bans Single-use Plastic Straws and Shopping Bags – (Nation of Change – January 29, 2021)
China is one of the world’s biggest users of single-use plastic and in 2010, produced 60 million tonnes (66 million tons) of plastic waste with the U.S. close behind at 38 million tonnes (42 million tons), according to the University of Oxford. China bid farewell to single-use plastic straws and shopping bags at the start of 2021 becoming one of 10 nations to outright ban plastic straws. The ban was part of the Party’s new Five-Year Plan to reduce plastic pollution. Phase one of the new Five-Year Plan is a ban plastic straws and plastic bags in major cities. While paper straws or polylactic acid straws have already replaced plastic ones in supermarkets, food stalls and coffee shops across China, several supermarkets have withdrawn plastic bags from cashier stalls and now offer customers the option to use recyclable bags at a premium. Single-use plastic bags will be banned in all cities and towns by 2022. While the cost of manufacturing degradable plastic products is much higher than single-use plastic, the demand for it continues to rise throughout China. Li Erqiao, general manager of a plastic products company in Yiwu, said that orders for degradable straws are sky rocketing in their factories. See also: Mexico City enacts ban on single-use plastics and straws.


Cacophony of Human Noise Is Hurting All Marine Life, Scientists Warn – (Guardian – February 4, 2021)
Marine animals can hear over much greater distances than they can see or smell, making sound crucial to many aspects of life. From whales to shellfish, sealife uses sound to catch prey, navigate, defend territory and attract mates, as well as find homes and warn of attack. Baleen whales produce calls to help group cohesion and reproduction that can travel across ocean basins, and humpback whales sing complex mating songs that have regional dialects. Sperm whales and various dolphins and porpoises use sonar to echolocate prey. Other animals use sound to feed: some shrimps produce a “snap” sound to stun prey. Noise pollution increases the risk of death and in extreme cases, such as explosions, kills directly. A natural ocean soundscape is fundamental to healthy marine life but is being drowned out by an increasingly loud cacophony of noise from human activities, according to the first comprehensive assessment of the issue. “Marine animals can only see across tens of meters at most, and can smell across hundreds of meters, but they can hear across entire ocean basins,” said Prof Carlos Duarte at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, who led the review. Duarte said major assessments of the health of the ocean were ignoring noise: “Yet the scientific literature, when read carefully, provides compelling evidence of human-caused noise being a major source of disruption to the marine ecosystem.” However, over the past 50 years, increased shipping has raised low-frequency noise on major routes by 32 times, the review said. Fishing vessels use sonar to find shoals of fish and bottom trawlers create rumbling noise. The construction and operation of oil rigs and offshore windfarms also cause noise pollution, as does the detonation of second world war bombs in the North Sea. The damage caused by noise is as harmful as overfishing, pollution and the climate crisis, the scientists said, but is being dangerously overlooked. The good news is that noise can be stopped instantly and does not have lingering effects, as the other problems do and there are solutions. A retrofit of five large container ships by shipping giant Maersk in 2015 showed that new propeller designs reduce noise and also increase fuel efficiency. Quieter propellers are the top priority, said Duarte; half of shipping noise comes from just 15% of vessels.


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Elon Musk Says His Start-up Neuralink Has Wired up a Monkey to Play Video Games Using Its Mind – (CNBC – February 2, 2021)
Tesla boss Elon Musk said in an interview that a monkey has been wired up to play video games with its mind by a startup he founded called Neuralink. Neuralink put a computer chip into the monkey’s skull and used “tiny wires” to connect it to its brain, Musk said. “It’s not an unhappy monkey,” he said during a talk on Clubhouse, a new social media app gaining popularity that allows people to have informal voice chats while others listen in. “You can’t even see where the neural implant was put in, except that he’s got a slight like dark mohawk.” The billionaire said Neuralink is trying to figure out if it can use its chips to get monkeys to play “mind Pong” with each other. Neuralink’s team of around 100 people is trying to develop an implementable computer-brain interface. Musk describes it as a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires that go into your brain. He said the aim of Neuralink is to increase the rate at which information can flow from the human brain to a machine. AI is only going to get smarter and Neuralink’s technology could one day allow humans to “go along for the ride,” according to Musk. To illustrate the pace of progress in AI, Musk — who believes that machine intelligence will eventually surpasses human intelligence — pointed to breakthroughs made at research labs like OpenAI, which he co-founded, and DeepMind, a London AI lab that was acquired by Google in 2014. DeepMind has “run out of games to win at basically,” said Musk, who was an early investor in the company. People are in effect already “cyborgs” because they have a tertiary “digital layer” thanks to phones, computers and applications, according to Musk. “With a direct neural interface, we can improve the bandwidth between your cortex and your digital tertiary layer by many orders of magnitude,” he said. “I’d say probably at least 1,000, or maybe 10,000, or more.” See also: Elon Musk could start implanting computer chips in humans’ brains this year.


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First Commercial 3D Printed House in the US Now On Sale for $300,000 – (3D Printing Media – January 26, 2021)
SQ4D has listed for sale the first 3D printed home in the United States. This residential property, located at 34 Millbrook Lane in Riverhead, NY, printed on-site using SQ4D’s Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS), is the first commercial 3D printed house slated to receive a certificate of occupancy and is listed on MLS for sale as new construction for $299,999. The 3D printed home will feature over 1,400 square feet of living space, plus a 750 square foot 2 ½ car garage on a ¼ acre. This home includes 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, and features an open floor plan. Built with concrete, this home will deliver strength and durability that conventional wood-frame construction cannot match. SQ4D will be including a 50-year limited warranty on their 3D printed structures. Stephen King of Realty Connect, the Zillow Premier agent who has the listing, said, “At $299,999, this home is priced 50% below the cost of comparable newly-constructed homes in Riverhead, NY and represents a major step towards addressing the affordable housing crisis plaguing long island.” (Editor’s note: We believe that the house has not yet been constructed, although it has been permitted.)


Kenyan Woman’s Startup Recycles Plastic Waste into Bricks That Are 5x Stronger Than Concrete – (Good News Network – February 6, 2021)
Nzambi Matee says she was “tired of being on the sidelines” while civil servants struggled against plastic waste in the capital city of Nairobi, so the materials engineer created a product that is 5 to 7 times stronger than concrete. Founder of Gjenge Makers, which transforms plastic waste into durable building materials, Matee also designed the machines that manufacture the bricks in her factory. Getting dumps of low and high-density polyethylene and polypropylene from local packaging plants for free, Gjenge Makers produces a variety of different paving stones after the plastic polymer is heated and mixed with sand. “There is waste they cannot process anymore; they cannot recycle. That is what we get,” Matee said. The result is a line of versatile building materials pressed via hydraulic machine into different thicknesses, that sell in a variety of colors that cost an average of $7.70 per square meter. So far, she has employed more than 110 people, helping to churn out about 1,500 bricks every day. She told Reuters that they have recycled about 20 metric tons of plastic waste since the company was founded in 2018.


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New Study: A Zero-emissions US Is Now Pretty Cheap – (Ars Technica – January 31, 2021)
In many areas of the United States, installing a wind or solar farm is now cheaper than simply buying fuel for an existing fossil fuel-based generator. And that’s dramatically changing the electricity market in the US and requiring a lot of people to update prior predictions. That has motivated a group of researchers to take a new look at the costs and challenges of getting the entire US to carbon neutrality. By building a model of the energy market for the entire US, the researchers explored what it will take to get the country to the point where its energy use has no net emissions in 2050—and they even looked at a scenario where emissions are negative. They found that, as you’d expect, the costs drop dramatically—to less than 1% of the GDP, even before counting the costs avoided by preventing the worst impacts of climate change. And, as an added bonus, we would pay less for our power. But the modeling also suggests that this end result will have some rather unusual features; we’ll need carbon capture, but it won’t be attached to power plants, for one example. The researchers set up a series of eight scenarios. The most expensive scenarios raise the cost to about 1% of the 2050 GDP. Notably, going to net negative emissions is not the most expensive; instead, limiting land use cuts down on the amount of renewable energy that could be deployed, raising costs. Part of the reason it is so cheap is because reaching the goal doesn’t require replacing viable hardware. All of the things that need to be taken out of service, from coal-fired generators to gas hot-water heaters, have finite lifetimes. The researchers calculate that simply replacing everything with renewables or high-efficiency electric versions will manage the transition in sufficient time. See also: Carbon capture technology has been around for decades — here’s why it hasn’t taken off.


Nuclear Education: Electricity is Free and Gravity Doesn’t Exist – (Veterans Today – November 10, 2020)
Mehran T. Keshe is an Oxford-trained physicist, one-time researcher (nuclear weapons researcher our investigations indicate) for the British MOD (Ministry of Defense) who now heads the equivalent of a worldwide cult. Keshe claims his physics, using different laws than are taught today, make free energy and even space travel, real space travel, a possibility. We sent scientists to meet him; one said he was insane. The problem is this, his devices actually work, even when tested by detractors and skeptics. What if that secret, yes Tesla’s and now Keshe’s, can run your hairdryer or charge your electric car? A dozen governments are looking at his tech to power their next-century development plans while, and quite contrary to Keshe’s strong anti-war message, a dozen armies look at Keshe tech as a way of powering the superweapons of the next generation and beyond. Well, the plans are free; they are online, and thousands around the world are doing just that – building their own Magrav units. All of which implies that the physics, as taught in our schools, is a lie. Toward that end, VT Science Editor and nuclear physicist Jeff Smith, archivist, and researcher for the US Department of Energy, now has to talk his way out of a corner, using his skills, humor, and the world’s largest scientific library. This is a good read but first, see what Ian Greenhalgh has to say: If I understand things right, then my suspicions are correct – that the aether was mainstream in physics until the Clark-Maxwell equations, that electricity, gravity, and magnetism are the same thing and powerful people don’t want this to be known. At some point at the end of the 19th century, as the exploitation of petroleum for profit was getting underway, those who stood to profit acted to suppress the knowledge that electrical potential was everywhere around us and if we could only learn to harness it…


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Cowboy E-bikes Now Navigate You Around Air Pollution – (The Verge – February 9, 2021)
Belgian e-bike maker Cowboy has delivered on its promise to help riders avoid pollution on their commutes with a new air quality navigation feature in the company’s latest iOS and Android apps. Owners now have the option to pick the quickest or healthiest routes to their destination. The feature is enabled by the integration of air quality data from a company called Breezometer, with a claimed data resolution of 5-meters (about 16 feet). That’s specific enough to help riders navigate around polluted routes in densely constructed cities like Amsterdam, as demonstrated in the video above. Breezometer’s ability to measure air quality with such granularity involves some guesswork since it doesn’t have physical sensors distributed at 5-meter intervals around the globe. Encouragingly, Breezometer’s claims are backed by chief scientist, Dr. Gabriela Katz, who was previously at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Breezometer’s model starts with measured data from more than 47,000 sensors worldwide. It then weaves in additional data like live traffic, satellite imagery, smoke, wind, and weather using custom algorithms and machine learning techniques. Notably, Breezometer says that it measures air pollution emitted by “10 million traffic jam sections around the world” every 12 minutes for over 30,000 cities worldwide. The company then subjects its air quality measurements to a quality assurance process before reporting to ensure accuracy. It makes sense for Cowboy to incorporate an air pollution model that leans heavily on car traffic. After all, if you’ve ever bicycled alongside a traffic jam then your lungs and eyeballs are acutely aware of the hyperlocal pollution created by a hoard of idling combustion engines.


Terrafugia’s Transition Receives FAA Certification – (TransportUP – February 5, 2021)
Terrafugia’s Transition prototype has received light sport category (S-LSA) certification from the FAA, marking a major step towards entry to service. The Transition is a 2-seater flyer car which can be operated as a street legal vehicle that transitions to flight. The prototype features a Rotax 912iS 100HP 4 cylinder engine with hybrid-electric platform for drive mode. In flight, Transition can reach speeds up to 100 mph and a total range of 400 miles. As of this writing, Terrafugia has prioritized certification of a flight-only model, with certification for road operations coming later this year or next. Transition’s flight only model is capable of folding its wings and can fit in the space of a single-car garage. The vehicle also offers advanced safety features including a parachute and a rigid carbon fiber safety cage. Short video clip, embedded in article, shows plane in flight and folding its wings to taxi off runway.


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Lye-poisoning Attack in Florida Shows Cybersecurity Gaps in Water Systems – (CNBC – February 9, 2021)
Oldsmar, Florida, experienced one of the biggest fears in cybersecurity — hackers looking to poison its water supply. And while the hack was quickly addressed, it offers what experts say is a prime example of why the cybersecurity of the U.S. water supply remains one of the greatest risks to the nation’s infrastructure. There are approximately 54,000 drinking systems in the U.S., which are run independently, either by local governments or small corporations. That means thousands of different security setups, often run by generalists who are responsible for the technology of their particular water system. “I’ve been to numerous water treatment facilities where there is one IT person or two IT people,” said Lesley Carhart, a principal threat analyst at the cybersecurity company Dragos. “And they have to handle everything from provisioning computers and devices that keep the infrastructure running to trying to do security.” In the case of the Oldsmar attack, all the hackers needed to gain access was to log in to a TeamViewer account, which lets remote users take full control of a computer, which was associated with the plant. That let them open and toy with a computer with a program that sets the chemical content for the underground water reservoir that provides the drinking water for nearly 15,000 people. While the facility does have backup alarms in place to measure unsafe chemical levels, the hacker was at least briefly able to order the plant to poison the water. Bryson Bort, a cybersecurity consultant who helped start ICS Village, a nonprofit that raises awareness of cybersecurity for industrial systems, said that such a practice — setting up a computer program to allow users to take control of those sensitive industrial systems — is extremely common for industrial systems that don’t have the means to employ a staff of experts to be on call at all hours. “If you think about it, you have a challenge both technically and resourcewise with being able to manage things,” he said in a phone interview. “So the ability to get an alert light at 3 a.m. and get that one expert has value. It’s the convenience of these resource constraints. You don’t have a choice.”


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The Macabre ‘Normalcy’ of Joe Biden – (The Libertarian Institute – February 3, 2021)
The laughable campaign sales pitch the American people were suffocated with over the past year and before was that Joe Biden, apartheid “Israel’s man in Washington” as well as the de facto author of the Patriot Act, was going save us from President Donald Trump’s fascism and restore “normalcy.” We were endlessly told that the Trump era’s racism and authoritarianism were an unfortunate, ugly aberration, a hiccup, in the long, progressive arc of history. An arc we are all encouraged to simply love and adore. Of course, all of this is ludicrous. In his new book covering the sordid history of U.S. interventions and wars in the Middle East, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, Scott Horton tells the story of Biden’s role rolling America into the invasion of Iraq: Biden served as Bush and Cheney’s Senate gatekeeper and whip, guaranteeing a majority vote for the war in the upper chamber while controlled by the opposition party. If Biden had any moral courage at all, he would have stopped that war. All he would have had to do was bring in real experts like former UN weapons inspection chief Scott Ritter and former CENTCOM commander General Anthony Zinni to debunk the case that Iraq was stockpiling banned weapons of mass destruction or had programs that necessitated that war. His red baiting, ‘National Security Democrat’ Vice President Kamala Harris (formerly California’s top cop) has manically cackled while discussing how she imprisoned poor people for non-violent offenses. She also told us that “very smart people” say the controversy around American cops killing black people, and popular support for Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests, really “wasn’t a thing” and was artificially boosted by “Russian bots.”


Proof That the US November Election Was Stolen Exists in Abundance – (PaulCraigRoberts.org – February 8, 2021)
The official narrative that there was no election theft is likely the largest lie ever perpetrated on the world. The lie is so vast and so fragile that everyone who disagrees with the official narrative is suppressed, deplatformed, kicked off social media, ostracized, and fired from their job in order to protect the lie from examination and exposure. In Michigan the state attorney general is attempting to debar attorneys who represented cases of electoral theft. Massive effort was made—including an orchestrated “storming of the Capitol”—to insure that the evidence would not be presented and that the majority of the population would never encounter the evidence. The presstitutes from the first instance declared continuously with one voice “there was no vote fraud,” “baseless claims of vote fraud,” and the old standby “conspiracy theory.” Even without hard evidence of a stolen election, it is obvious that Trump did not lose to Biden who inspired no enthusiasm and whose campaign events had to be halted due to non-attendance. How did Trump lose the election when on December 29, after two months of his heightened demonization following the November 2020 election, he won the annual Gallup survey as America’s most admired person, ending Obama’s 12-year run. No sane person believes that such an uninspiring candidate as Biden garnered 81.2 million votes—15.3 million more popular votes than Obama in 2012 and Hillary in 2016. In other words, no voting machine or other material evidence is needed to see that the 2020 election was stolen. Nevertheless, there is massive evidence. “MyPillow” CEO Mike Lindell has collected some of the experts who investigated the electoral fraud and has put together a two-hour video that provides some of the massive evidence, certainly enough to liberate you from the media indoctrination “there is no evidence.”


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The Long Arm of the Authoritarian State – (Washington Post – February 3, 2021)
Transnational repression is not a new phenomenon — think of Leon Trotsky’s murder by a suspected agent of Joseph Stalin in Mexico in 1940 — but its reach is growing significantly. Assassinations and renditions are the cases that grab headlines. But behind these high-profile events is a deeper trend amplified by technology, hostility to migration in democracies and a weakening commitment to stopping attacks. The first factor is technology. Digital telecommunications have enlarged regimes’ perceptions of the threat that exiles pose. Ruhollah Zam operated a popular Telegram channel for Iranians called Amadnews — even though he lived in France, he was able to participate in his country’s civic life from afar, almost in real time. Like other vocal Chechen exiles, Mamikhan Umarov broadcast on a YouTube channel, where he would excoriate the brutal leadership of Kadyrov. As exiles’ audiences have grown, so has regimes’ capacity to silence their voices. The very digital technologies that enable activists to reach millions back home also present opportunities to states to disrupt and surveil exiles’ networks from thousands of miles away. The decreasing costs of these tools, and their availability both as software and as services sold in a largely unregulated international marketplace, means that any government willing to pay can acquire them. The NSO Group’s Pegasus software — which Saudi Arabia has used to hack exiles’ phones, including those of friends of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — is the most well-known, but it is not unique. In its research, Freedom House found that 17 countries that conduct physical campaigns also use spyware against their nationals abroad, including obvious ones such as China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, but also Ethiopia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Egypt. China has unique capabilities in this regard through the WeChat platform, a one-stop app that combines social media, messaging, bill-paying, shopping, travel, food delivery and more. Even on other social media platforms, digital intimidation and smear campaigns against exiles are relatively simple. Particularly when combined with threats or actual violence against family members still in the origin country, these tools can force exiles to lower their profiles, sever their networks or withdraw from activism altogether. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov put it succinctly in remarks on state television that he directed at the Chechen diaspora in 2016: “This modern age and technology allow us to know everything, and we can find any of you.”


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The Joy of Watching Other People Clean – (New York Times – January 29, 2021)
Tune into Jessica Tull’s YouTube channel, with its half a million subscribers, and you can watch her clean her house. Really. On time-lapse videos, some attracting more than three million views, she washes floors, scours sinks, dusts fixtures and folds laundry. Occasionally, one of her three young children passes through the shot. But mostly, she’s alone, scrubbing drain holes with a toothbrush or unloading the dishwasher as she offers tips and endorses cleaning products in a soothing voice-over. Ms. Tull, 31, inhabits a corner of the internet where people watch other people clean their homes in videos called “Clean with Me” or “Extreme Cleaning.” These aren’t aspirational home-organizing tutorials where influencers showcase impeccable walk-in closets. No, these are process videos grinding through some of the most mundane tasks we all do every week. Cleaning a house is tedious, hard work that is often derided. These influencers validate and elevate the work that housekeepers do, reframing it as skilled physical labor that deserves respect. Many people “feel like they’re the only one that can’t keep the kitchen clean, when 98% of us can’t,” said Lindsay Graham, 28, who runs Organizing Love, a Facebook group for people looking for advice and support. She said the “Clean with Me” genre appeals to many of her roughly 50,000 members: “To see that somebody that looks really great and has this great YouTube following can’t also keep their kitchen clean is so validating.” How profitable is this corner of YouTube? One influencer in the house cleaning genre said she makes a six-figure salary, working more than 40 hours a week running the creative side of her business, including filming and editing the videos. She has a manager who handles the business end of running a YouTube channel. See also: Deep-Cleaning Videos Are Getting Grosser.


Virtual Reality Tourism Ready for Takeoff as Travelers Remain Grounded – (Guardian – February 6, 2021)
Escapism from the sofa through a growing range of VR travel experiences is whetting appetites for post-pandemic holidays and could be a watershed moment for the technology in tourism, say analysts. Oculus launched its Quest 2 headset in October and the most popular experiences include National Geographic VR, which takes users to places such as Antarctica – where they can navigate icebergs in a kayak, climb an ice shelf and survive a raging snowstorm as they search for a lost emperor penguin colony. Another app, Wander, can teleport VR travelers from the pyramids of Egypt to the gardens of the Taj Mahal, while Alcove offers immersive experiences from hot air balloon rides to city tours. When We Stayed Home takes travelers to the heart of Paris, Venice, Jerusalem and Tokyo as they largely are today. Through the eyes of a local, you can witness the calm, the beauty and the emptiness of places on pause during April 2020. One prominent adopter of pandemic VR is Germany’s national tourist board, which has unveiled a number of immersive projects. The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation is using VR to showcase experiences such as beach yoga and snorkeling. Ralph Hollister, a tourism analyst at Global Data and the author of a recent report on VR in tourism said VR was still seen as a gimmick. “It remains to be seen if increased usage will last beyond when meaningful travel resumes.” But he believes it could. “I think the increase will be sustained, especially with the Gen Z and millennials in coming years, as they move into higher-paid jobs, and marketers take them more seriously as a consumer group. They will not feel alienated by the technology,” he said. Currently, VR is used in the pre-trip “dreamer” stage in tourism, with people looking at where they might want to go. As the world seeks more sustainable tourism, Hollister said VR offers a solution. As historic sites are damaged through mass tourism, recreating them in VR could help conserve them.


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Let’s Reel in This Talk of a ‘Fifth Dimension’ for a Second – (BRG – February 10, 2021)
While the idea of dark matter may answer some questions, it poses other problems as well. If there’s so much dark matter in the universe, we should be able to at least see it, but we can’t. In searching for an explanation, researchers have begun to form truly incredible theories, including the possibility that a fifth dimension exists, and that our inability to interact with that dimension is the reason that we haven’t spotted dark matter yet. Now, a team of scientists has published a paper that hypothesizes the existence of a particle that could serve as a gateway to that unseen dimension. Unfortunately, the paper has resulted in some pretty wild headlines across the internet. Some outlets have gone so far as to suggest that scientists actually “found” a portal to the fifth dimension when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. The work itself, however, is still extremely interesting. In the paper, which was published in The European Physical Journal C, the researchers wanted to solve some problems related to the abundance of dark matter and particles known as fermions. Fermions are very small — smaller than an atom — and protons and electrons are part of this group. In an attempt to answer the questions they were studying, the scientists came up with a new theory of physics that features not just the four dimensions we know about (three dimensions of space and one dimension of time), but a fifth dimension that a certain type of particle could pass through it. While it might not be “far-fetched” to the scientists, they’re also making some assumptions here, such as the very existence of the fifth dimension. They’re also relying on the existing theory of dark matter — that it makes up 85% of our universe and exerts a force on objects in our dimension, but we just can’t see it — and the existence of this new theoretical particle that, again, nobody has ever seen. Put simply, there are a whole bunch of questions that need to be answered before we can even begin to determine the existence of a fifth dimension, and if any one of those theoretical building blocks isn’t real, the whole building falls down. Again, the work is interesting, but no, we didn’t find a fifth dimension and no, there isn’t a “portal” to it that we actually know about.


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Additive That Makes Plastic Harmless Has Potential to Be Biodegrading Game-Changer – (Good News Network – December 1, 2020)
Polymateria, a new materials company, is manufacturing plastics that break down into harmless component elements in less than a year. A special ingredient is added to the manufacturing stage of plastic to create completely normal forms of plastic that can be used to make both rigid or flexible products, allowing no great overhaul of production lines or schedules. Large companies are not waiting for extensive testing to begin adding Polymateria’s special biodegrading plastic to their operations, even though the UK firm has done tests that confirm their claims that after around 226 days, a harmless wax, edible by microbes, is the only thing that will remain of something like an ice-cream wrapper if left on the side of the road. Polymateria Ltd was developed at Imperial College London and is chaired by former Marks & Spencer CEO Mark Bolland. The firm aims to tackle the plastic problem head on, with a plan to launch their products as soon as possible in Asia, and to target the two most common types of polluting plastic polymers, polyurethane and polypropylene. The sportswear brand Puma will be the first to incorporate Polymateria’s plastic, adding it to a whopping 160 million plastic bags according to The Sunday Times. Other brands haven’t been revealed but reports say that Polymateria is on shelves in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and Kenya. Niall Dunne, the company CEO, said that they “are testing in India, and due to launch soon, and we are talking to manufacturers in China and the USA.” Frederic de Mevius, dynasty part-owner of the Anheuser-Busch InBev global brewing conglomerate, is a director and investor in Polymateria. He said that “Within two to five years we will be supplying 20 to 50 of the largest brands that are responsible for plastic pollution.”


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South Korea Leads World in Innovation as U.S. Exits Top Ten – (Bloomberg – February 2, 2021)
South Korea returned to first place in the latest Bloomberg Innovation Index, while the U.S. dropped out of a top 10 that features a cluster of European countries. Korea regained the crown from Germany, which dropped to fourth place. The Asian nation has now topped the index for seven of the nine years that it’s been published. Singapore and Switzerland each moved up one spot to rank second and third. There’s near-total agreement in South Korea that “R&D is essential to have a future,” said Lee Kyung-mook, a professor of business management at Seoul National University . “It’s sandwiched between more developed nations, which still outperform them in technology, and China that is catching up fast relying on lower labor costs.” Second-placed Singapore, which has been allocating budget funds to help workers and companies transition to a digital economy, also scores high for manufacturing –- and its globally competitive universities put it top of the tertiary education gauge. Switzerland, a leader in financial and biological technology, ranks near the top in both of the index’s research categories. Germany’s loss of the crown follows a warning two years ago by Juergen Michels, chief economist of Bayerische Landesbank, who said the country lacked skilled workers and a proper strategy for next-generation technology. As the two biggest economies, the U.S. and China account for much of the world’s innovation, and they’re also locked in a battle over key areas of policy like intellectual property rights. The gap between them has steadily declined over the liftetime of the index. This year, both saw their rankings decline. The Bloomberg index analyzes dozens of criteria using seven equally weighted metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies. The 2021 rankings reflect a world where the fight against Covid-19 has brought innovation to the fore –- from government efforts to contain the pandemic, to the digital infrastructure that’s allowed economies to work through it, and the race to develop vaccines that can end it. American names like Zoom Video Communications Inc. or vaccine-maker Pfizer Inc. are among the past year’s emblems of innovation, reflecting the U.S.’s top ranking for density of high-tech firms. The pandemic has also spotlighted a different kind of breakthrough, one that has more to do with policy and organization than technology or research, according to Nobel prizewinning economist Paul Romer. “We should recognize that the available metrics miss important dimensions of innovation,” said Romer, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Officials in Wuhan showed for the first time that in a couple of weeks, it is feasible to test 10 million residents of a city for coronavirus. This was a very important public health innovation.”


The Future of Work: Coming Sooner Than You Think – (CIO – February 8, 2021)
COVID-19 pressed the fast-forward button, and we learned about the immediate, practical future of work in a hurry. The most obvious lesson – you don’t need to be at the office to get stuff done – was already understood in tech, just never proven at scale. We’re only starting to grasp the implications of that real-world confirmation. Today’s work-from-home world has given us a glimpse of the future, as these five articles from CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World illustrate. The article above offers a brief synopsis of the five articles – all fairly tech-heavy – and a link to each.





WANT TO KNOW

FUTUREdition would like to draw your attention to WantToKonw.info, an online news aggregator. From the website’s Home Page: This website provides a concise, reliable introduction to vital information of which few are aware. We specialize in providing fact-filled news articles and concise summaries of major cover-ups and corruption which impact our lives and world. All information is taken from the most reliable sources available and can be verified using the links provided. Sources are always noted, with links direct to the information source provided. WantToKnow.info presents this information as an opportunity for you to educate yourself and others, and to inspire us to join in working together for the good of all. We shine light into the unconscious shadows of ourselves and our world with the intention of inviting us both individually and collectively to make more conscious choices which allow us to step ever more fully into our magnificence and to build a brighter future for us all. You can subscribe here for free, although they would appreciate a contribution. The website’s dashboard organizes news articles by general topic, visible in a left margin block. To give you a sense of the breadth of coverage, here is a selection of the news headlines, taken from the section “Top News Stories”, (with links to each article): US suffers sharpest rise in poverty rate in more than 50 years; Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month; A growing number of Americans are going hungry; Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health; COVID Lockdowns May Have No Clear Benefit vs Other Voluntary Measures, International Study Shows; Canadian expert’s research finds lockdown harms are 10 times greater than benefits; Early numbers suggest domestic violence homicides may be on the rise around the country; Massive 1-Year Rise In Homicide Rates Collided With The Pandemic In 2020; This breakthrough electric vehicle never needs to be plugged in; Toyota set to roll out its revolutionary solid-state battery in 2021; and Before his coma he spoke English; after waking up he’s fluent in Spanish.


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Watch a Billion Years of Shifting Tectonic Plates in 40 Mesmerizing Seconds – (Science Alert – February 2, 2021)
The tectonic plates that cover Earth like a jigsaw puzzle move about as fast as our fingernails grow, but over the course of a billion years that’s enough to travel across the entire planet – as a fascinating new video shows. In one of the most complete models of tectonic plate movements ever put together, scientists have condensed a billion years of movement into a 40-second video clip, so we can see how these giant slabs of rock have interacted over time. As they move, the plates affect climate, tidal patterns, animal movements and their evolution, volcanic activity, the production of metals and more: they’re more than just a covering for the planet, they’re a life support system that affects everything that lives on the surface. “For the first time a complete model of tectonics has been built, including all the boundaries,” said geoscientist Michael Tetley, who completed his PhD at the University of Sydney. “On a human timescale, things move in centimeters per year, but as we can see from the animation, the continents have been everywhere in time.”


20,000 Honey Bees Took Over a Tech Company’s Empty Office During Lockdown – (Quartz – January 29, 2021)
In Santa Barbara, California, four blocks from the Pacific Ocean, sits the three-story headquarters of Invoca, an artificial-intelligence software company. Like many offices, the building has been empty since March, when Invoca sent employees home to shelter from Covid-19. Well, not quite empty. For amidst the building’s abandoned desks and silent phones, 20,000 honey bees were hard at work, building a hive filled with 10 gallons of honey, beeswax, and pollen, as Invoca’s leadership learned in January, much to their surprise. Looking back, though, there were clues. Invoca’s workplace experience manager had noticed a few dead bees in the entrance hall when she first stopped by the office in April to get the mail. The next month, the office manager saw a few more dead bees. And then more and more. Finally, Invoca decided it was time to investigate, calling in Santa Barbara’s local Super Bee Rescue & Removal squad, which, true to its name, specializes in safely re-homing honey bees that have chosen impractical places to set up shop. “We consider ourselves bee-vangilists,” says owner Nick Wigle, who doubles as a beekeeper. Using a thermal imaging camera, Super Bee’s technician located the bee colony nested between the building’s second and third floors. “So they cut a hole in the ceiling and she had to shimmy up between the floors,” says Dee Anna McPherson, Invoca’s chief marketing officer. It took the better part of a day for Super Bee to attract the bees into a box, using the scent of a queen bee to lure them in. A crucial part of the rescue process, Wigle notes, is spotting and capturing the queen bee, upon whom the survival of the other bees depends. Super Bee tries to preserve the honeycomb, so that the bees can rebuild their hive when they’re relocated to a natural habitat.


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This Elaborately Armored Samurai Was Folded from a Single Sheet of Paper – (Collossal – January 16, 2021)
Juho Könkkölä spent upwards of 50 hours scoring and folding just one sheet of Wenzhou rice paper to create this painstakingly detailed samurai complete with plated armor, traditional helmet, and sword. Beginning with a 95 x 95-centimeter page, the 23-year-old Finnish artist used a combination of wet and dry origami techniques to shape the 28-centimeter-tall warrior of his own design. “There are several hundreds of steps to fold it from the square and there are probably thousands of individual folds,” he said, noting that crafting the geometric patterns for the armor was the most difficult. “The asymmetry in the design allowed me to include (a) sword on only one arm while being able to make the character look symmetric.” Könkkölä documented his folding process in an embedded video.


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If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
― President Lyndon B. Johnson


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A special thanks to: Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Bobbie Rohn, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.

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