Lots to cover today after the holiday. Hope everyone enjoyed some nice time with their family while Trump dismantled everything you've ever cared about.
On to the news!
HERO OF THE WEEK
Florida boy, 10, part of climate change lawsuit filed by kids against federal government
"At age 10, Levi Draheim hates math and loves reading Harry Potter books. He plays the violin but dislikes practicing. What he really enjoys is paddling a kayak or going swimming. It helps that he lives just a five-minute walk from the beach in the town of Indialantic on Florida’s east coast.
"I’m the kind of kid who likes to be outside," he said.
He’s also one of 21 children across America who are suing the federal government for its failure to combat climate change.
Levi, an only child who is homeschooled by his mom, is the youngest plaintiff involved in the case known as Juliana vs. the United States. He’s also the only one from Florida, the state scientists say is most vulnerable to rising sea levels."
+ We've discussed this lawsuit before. Good on you, Levi. Keep kicking ass.
FUCKWIT OF THE WEEK
I can't even start with this shit. fucckkkkkkjasdjoasdoasdoasdnasdoijasdij
"Rolling coal is the practice of modifying a diesel engine to increase the amount of fuel entering the engine in order to emit large amounts of black or grey sooty exhaust fumes into the air. It also may include the intentional removal of the particulate filter. Practitioners often additionally modify their vehicles by installing smoke switches and smoke stacks. Modifications to a vehicle to enable rolling coal may cost from $200 to $5,000.
Rolling coal is a form of conspicuous air pollution, for entertainment or for protest. Some drivers intentionally trigger coal rolling in the presence of hybrid vehicles (when it is nicknamed "Priusrepellent") to taunt their drivers, who are perceived as being environmentally motivated in their vehicle choice. Coal rolling may also be directed at foreign cars, bicyclists, protesters, and pedestrians. Practitioners cite "American freedom" and "a stand against rampant environmentalism" as reasons for coal rolling.
Health risks associated with rolling coal include respiratory issues. The American Cancer Society has linked exposure to diesel exhaust to lung cancer. A more actionable concern is road traffic safety violations, as the black smoke can intentionally impair visibility, risking motor vehicle crashes."
Genetically Engineering Yourself Sounds Like a Horrible Idea—But This Guy Is Doing It Anyway
"A computer nerd turned NASA scientist turned establishment-science cynic, Josiah Zayner is something like the self-appointed leader of a small but burgeoning biohacking movement. He presides over a loose coterie of professional and self-taught scientists who believe that ground-breaking science does not require either a fancy lab or degree.
Zayner was about to talk about his attempts to genetically modify his own body, an endeavor likely to raise at least a couple eyebrows, including the federal government’s.
But first, he was going to talk about his soul and the sanctity of science. The audience listened with rapt attention."
More on CRISPR:
Researchers use CRISPR to create the world’s tiniest tape recorder
Watch CRISPR Edit DNA in Real Time
More about my insides, just for you:
Custom Bacteria Make New Molecules On Demand
Here's a New Reason You Should Worry About Antibiotics
Enhanced understanding of the microbiome is helping medicine
Genetic kill switches keep engineered microbes from going AWOL
Medical microrobots have potential in surgery, therapy, imaging, and diagnostics
Picture this, but us: How the Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants’ Bodies to Control Their Minds
The Secret to Long Life? It May Lurk in the DNA of the Oldest Among Us
What if You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming for You?
And finally, the most mind-blowingly (amazing, thank god) read of the week:
Inseparable: Ten Years Joined At The Head
"Tatiana and Krista Hogan are extraordinary little girls. Conjoined twins are a rarity, but those joined at the head, craniopagus twins, are the rarest of all - one in 2.5 million. But it is the structure of their brains that makes them unique in the world. They have the astonishing ability to see through each others’ eyes, feel what the other experiences, perhaps even know what the other is thinking."
FUCK CANCER VOLUME XXXXXIIIVVIIX
Tumor Cells Get Hooked on Cancer Drugs, Meet Their Demise
"Cancerous tumor cells get addicted to the very drugs meant to eradicate them.
It’s an ironic twist in the field of cancer treatment. A small percentage of tumor cells can possess a resistance to cancer-fighting drugs, rendering treatments ineffective. These few cells usually possess a mutation that renders them immune, but the protection comes at a cost. To withstand the drug regimen, the cells must alter their metabolisms to adapt to the new environment. This effectively makes them reliant on the cancer drugs for survival, and when the treatment is cut off, they will die."
Tiny robot designed to fight cancer could be inserted into human body
"Scientists have developed tiny, remote-controlled “microrobots” with the ability to release cancer-targeting drugs, which they hope will one day be used to diagnose disease and administer drugs inside the human body.
Known as “biohybrids”, they are biological cells with useful engineered features added on, namely magnetic particles that allow them to be guided around the body.
But despite their highly technical capability, the robots are made from spirulina algae, a product more recognisable as a health food product than a construction material.
“Rather than fabricate a functional microrobot from scratch using intricate laboratory techniques and processes, we set out to directly engineer smart materials in nature,” said Professor Li Zhang, an engineer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who contributed to the Science Robotics study.
As a result they were able to make use of the algae’s intrinsic properties.
“For instance, because these biohybrid bots have a naturally fluorescent biological interior and magnetic iron-oxide exterior, we can track and actuate a swarm of those agents inside the body quite easily using fluorescence imaging and magnetic resonance imaging,” said Professor Zhang."
More on cancer:
Growing tiny tumours in the lab could help treat cancer
Seattle Children’s launches $1 billion campaign to build new immunotherapy research center
THEY (INTENTIONALLY) LOOK LIKE US, ACT LIKE US, AND COULD REPLACE US (AND NOT JUST IN THE WORKPLACE)
McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030
"In a new study that is optimistic about automation yet stark in its appraisal of the challenge ahead, McKinsey says massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people—including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany—will be made jobless by 2030, the study says."
+ Yeah, so, for the fiftieth time, this is #vital, because (sigh) massive unemployment generally = massive unrest = populist dictators = nukes. Bye bye.
+ So weird if only there was some potential solution that could offset all of this.
+ Here's an incredibly compelling visual of America post-tax bill, the destruction of health care and the safety net, and monumental job losses.
THE ROBOTS/AI THAT WILL SAVE US...
Do machines actually beat doctors? A survival guide: How to read the medical AI reports with a critical eye, and see the truth through the hype.
"There are three major ways these articles get it wrong. They either don’t understand medicine, they don’t understand AI, or they don’t actually compare doctors and machines."
+ An (opinionated, but legit) warning shot to keep watch for clickbait as we slobber all over our future overlords. Note: we do our best to cite only the most reputable sources, but hey -- sometimes we get excited too.
AND THE ONES THAT WON'T.
How Intelligent Drones Are Shaping the Future of Warfare
"...Perdix drones, on the other hand, communicate autonomously with each other and use collective decision making to coordinate movements, finding the best way to get to a target, even flying in formation and healing themselves – all without a human telling them how. While a single person gives them a task – for example, "go to the local hospital" or "encircle the blue pickup truck" – the drones decide autonomously what the best way to carry it out is, without human direction."
+ Posted this one back in March, but as more info comes around, it's good to re-evaluate: we're gonna die.
Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems
+ TLDR: Still terrifying!
IT'S OUT THERE. SOMEWHERE.
You make the call: good ideas or horrendous ideas?
Should we seed life through the cosmos using laser-driven ships?
"Our galaxy may contain billions of habitable worlds that don’t host any life. Should we attempt to change that?
Claudius Gros at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, thinks we should. He believes in directed panspermia: deliberately seeding life throughout the cosmos. And to do that, he proposes we use a laser propulsion system that may not be technically out of reach."
+ Kind of like PROMETHEUS. Which I loved. Come at me, haters.
Was It a Good Idea to Beam Our Best Techno to an Alien World?
"In the year 2030, a powerful radio transmission originating from Earth will arrive at a potentially habitable exoplanet located approximately 12.4 light years away. Should any alien intelligence be there to receive it, they’re in for quite a treat: This binary stream of data contains short musical clips from some of the world’s best electronic musicians. It’s part art, part science—but considering we know virtually nothing about extraterrestrials, should we really be calling attention to ourselves?"
More on space:
NASA announces next rover
Traces of life on nearest exoplanets may be hidden in equatorial trap
Will Mars colonists snooze their way to the Red Planet?
How NASA will defend the Earth against plagues from outer space
The new hobby of the super-rich: Hunting aliens
"For a while, the federal government, via NASA, was funding efforts to listen for potential signals from extraterrestrials. Yet in 1993, Nevada Senator Richard Bryan slipped an amendment into a NASA appropriations bill that stripped NASA's SETI efforts of any funding, despite their minuscule costs compared to NASA’s budget overall. The most extensive search for extraterrestrial intelligence efforts moved to a privately funded, donation-based model; thus, the nonprofit SETI Institute was born."
Fine. FINE. LET'S TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.
Green finance for dirty ships
"Shipping may seem like a clean form of transport. Carrying more than 90% of the world’s trade, ocean-going vessels produce just 3% of its greenhouse-gas emissions. But the industry is dirtier than that makes it sound. By burning heavy fuel oil, just 15 of the biggest ships emit more of the noxious oxides of nitrogen and sulphur than all the world’s cars put together."
To Africans, America’s pledge is about more than pollution
"Climate finance, which the rich world has acknowledged it owes to the poor for causing climate change, isn’t simply a justice issue. It’s also preventative.
By the end of this century, if all Africans have the carbon footprint of South Africans (who currently have the highest emissions on the continent) it would add 1C to the global temperature. How Africa’s cities grow will make a huge difference to all of us.
Yet under Donald Trump, the US has said it will renege on $2bn it has promised to the Green Climate Fund – the UN’s major conduit for climate funding. That money is the glue that holds the Paris deal together, yet it features little in the fine words offered by the US dissenters in Bonn. The mayors and governors are preoccupied with how much they can do to cut their own emissions without federal help."
(Lots) more on climate change:
Will Washington State Pass the Nation’s First Carbon Tax?
"Trump Should Fire the E.P.A.’s Scott Pruitt", by Thomas H. Kean, the Republican governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990, and the vice chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund
Lake Chad: The World’s Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster
(I can't believe we have to write fucking articles like this) How to persuade people that climate change is real
Using Forests to Fight Climate Change
Norway's $1 trillion wealth fund proposes to drop oil, gas stocks from index
Danone focuses climate efforts on regenerative agriculture
Kernza! Next To A Georgia Highway, This Plant Is Helping Fight Climate Change
Report: Impact of climate change on humans "potentially irreversible"
Scientists aim to fight climate change with super plants
The Sea Level Threat To Cities Depends On Where The Ice Melts — Not Just How Fast
What Bali’s Volcanic Eruptions Could Mean for the Climate
And maybe my favorite headline of the past two weeks:
Democrats Are Shockingly Unprepared to Fight Climate Change
+ Goddammit, you idIOTS. YOU HEARD EMINEM. HE SAID WE'VE GOT ONE SHOT. ONE. PULL IT TOGETHER. OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE. SOMETHING COMPELLING. SOMETHING WORLD-CHANGING. WORLD-SAVING. SOMETHING MILLENNIALS CAN GET BEHIND. HELL, LET THEM WRITE IT. I RECOGNIZE IT'S "NOT THAT EASY". WELL NEITHER IS LIVING ON ANOTHER PLANET BECAUSE WE RUINED THIS ONE, YOU ASS-HATS. WHAT IF AFTER ULTRON (THE MONSTER OF OUR OWN CREATION BTW) TOOK OVER AND THREATENED TO DESTROY HUMANITY EVERYONE LOOKED TO CAPTAIN AMERICA FOR A PLAN AND HE SAID "THERE'S JUST NOTHING WE CAN ALL AGREE ON, IT'S COMPLICATED, WHY DON'T WE SILENTLY DEFER TO THE STATES AND ANCIENT CORPORATE BILLIONAIRES"? THAT WOULD BE ONE SHITTY AVENGERS MOVIE, WOULDN'T IT?
The Trump administration is making it harder to find government information about climate change on the web
Why Lost Ice Means Lost Hope for an Inuit Village
Trump races to pick judges who oversee environment cases
and obviously the elephant in the room
When will the Earth try to kill us again?
AND FINALLY...YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Inside Trump's Cruel Campaign Against the U.S.D.A.'s Scientists
This article is so #vital to the actual health of our populace that I don't really know what to quote. There's so many options.
"If you had asked Ali, before he went to New Orleans, what he thought of people who didn’t help themselves, he would have said, “My parents had to start all over again. What’s the big deal? Just suck it up.” The sight of little kids post-Katrina jolted him. “It kind of blew my mind: if you are in kindergarten you should at least get a fair shot. It was just eye-opening: to see how much your geography could determine the opportunities available to you.”
Now he sensed that poverty came in many flavors. He’d been lucky to have his particular parents and his particular community. He was reminded of the first time he’d run on a track with spikes. “You just fly on the track.” The poor kids he saw in New Orleans were trying to run the same race in life that he was. But he was wearing spikes and they weren’t. “There’s a real idealism that you have to indulge to think that people in New Orleans were now going to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. There were no bootstraps.”"
"In his job at U.S.D.A., Kevin Concannon had overseen for eight years the nation’s school-lunch program; the program that ensures that pregnant women, new mothers, and young children receive proper nutrition; and a dozen or so smaller programs designed to alleviate hunger. Together these accounted for approximately 70 percent of the U.S.D.A.’s budget—he’d spent the better part of a trillion dollars feeding people with taxpayer money while somehow remaining virtually anonymous.
...What’s striking about Kevin Concannon is what he decided, for whatever reason, he didn’t need. He could have named his price with the drug- and food-company lobbies, and yet he’d never taken a job in the private sector. He claims never to have felt the slightest interest in that kind of work. “I’ve done all right,” he says when I ask him, more or less, why he’s not rich. “I’ve always had enough. I’ve never felt the need to go over to the other side and make three times the amount of money. If you like what you do, you just keep doing it.”
On my way out the door he stops me. “You didn’t ask me what else I was worried about (besides food stamps and school nutrition). But if you asked me,” he said, “I’d say Science.”"
Time between world-changing volcanic super-eruptions less than previously thought
Facebook trains artificial intelligence to spot suicidal signs
The 10 Greatest Living Scientists in the World Today
That ‘harmless’ radioactive cloud over Europe probably did come from Russia after all
New Zealand’s War on Rats Could Change the World: The nation wants to eradicate all invasive mammal predators by 2050. Gene-editing technology could help—or it could trigger an ecological disaster of global proportions.
Lots to cover today after the holiday. Hope everyone enjoyed some nice time with their family while Trump dismantled everything you've ever cared about.