#46: Give Me A Milk. Chocolate.

We've got some (good!) crazy-ass sci-fi news this week, so let's take a quick look at climate change and then get right to it.

Also: this is a good moment to recommend (again) Sapiens and the follow-up, Homo Deus, as primers for how our little rocky planet is (already) undergoing massive change. In a very, very short period of time, our existence is going to look incredibly different. If we make it! Haha. But seriously. #raceagainsttime

On to the news!

1. Here's exactly* what climate change is going to do to your hometown - NOAA/Business Insider

"The updated NOAA system lets you zip across the 48 contiguous states (and Washington DC), and see for yourself how the local climate in any given neighborhood is likely to change between 2010 and 2100. The Climate Explorer also includes data on how the climate has behaved between 1950 and 2010; scroll forward in time, and you're seeing data pulled from international climate models.

NOAA's site plots out changes according to two possible futures — one in which global emissions peak in 2040 and then begin to decrease, and another in which emissions keep increasing apace.

The first thing you notice when tooling around in the Climate Explorer is how dramatically different the first scenario looks from the second."

+ MY NOTES: Remember back a few issues ago when we had that fun chart where most Americans think climate change won't affect them personally? Yeah. Send them this way.

2. Crazy-ass drops in solar and wind energy turn energy industry upside down, make certain presidents look like total dipshits - ThinkProgress

"In just one year, the cost of solar generation worldwide dropped on average 17 percent, the report found. The average costs for onshore wind dropped 18 percent last year, while those for offshore wind fell a whopping 28 percent.

The result is “more bang for the buck,” as the U.N. and BNEF put it. Last year saw 138.5 gigawatts of new renewable capacity. That not only beat the 2015 record of 127.5 GW, but it was built with a total investment that was 23 percent lower than in 2015."

+ MY NOTES: Chile is going all-solar for 2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour. For context, the average U.S. residential price for electricity is 12 cents per kWh. Yeah. That's right. You're paying SIX TIMES what Chile's paying, for mostly dirty energy. 

3. Everybody's all worked up about being/marrying/being killed by a cyborg, how close are we, really? - Scientific American

"A careful look at some of the current brain-computer interface (BCI) demonstrations reveals we still have a way to go: When BCIs produce movements, they are much slower, less precise and less complex than what able-bodied people do easily every day with their limbs. Bionic eyes offer very low-resolution vision; cochlear implants can electronically carry limited speech information, but distort the experience of music. And to make all these technologies work, electrodes have to be surgically implanted – a prospect most people today wouldn’t consider."

+ MY NOTES: Implant me now, thanks.

4. Scientists unveil CRISPR-based diagnostic platform - MIT

"In a study published today in Science, Broad Institute members Feng Zhang, Jim Collins, Deb Hung, Aviv Regev, and Pardis Sabeti describe how this RNA-targeting CRISPR enzyme was harnessed as a highly sensitive detector — able to indicate the presence of as little as a single molecule of a target RNA or DNA. Co-first authors Omar Abudayyeh and Jonathan Gootenberg, graduate students at MIT and Harvard, respectively, dubbed the new tool SHERLOCK (Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing); this technology could one day be used to respond to viral and bacterial outbreaks, monitor antibiotic resistance, and detect cancer."

+ MY NOTES: This is some crazy shit. And it's paper-based, which requires no refrigeration, which would be a massive coup in the fight against developing-nation infectious disease outbreaks. More here. Speaking of epidemics...

5. Editable CRISPR could replace antibiotics, if you don't believe we're in the future, you're sorely mistaken - MIT Technology Review

"As resistance to antibiotics grows in the U.S., researchers are looking for new ways to fight germs like Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause fatal infections in hospitals and nursing homes.

One way to do that: a “CRISPR pill” that instructs harmful bacteria to self-destruct."

+ MY NOTES: Come the fuck on. This is still a long-ways off, but seriously -- incredible.

6. Here's some links on Google/Verily's new study to find disease predictors.

"Verily today published a website that marks the launch of its founding idea, the Baseline Project, a multi-year study expected to cost more than $100 million that it says will search for clues to predicting heart disease and cancer.

Volunteers are being asked to submit to an unprecedented regimen of tests and physical monitoring. They’ll be asked to wear a heart-tracking watch that follows their pulse and movements in real time and will undergo a detailed workup of x-rays and heart scans, in addition to having their genomes deciphered and their blood tested in so-called liquid biopsies, which might be able to catch cancer early.

Each volunteer will be monitored for four years."

    a. Want to volunteer? Be among the first 10,000!
    b. Less "moonshot", more "ground-breaking study that could still be extremely telling"
    c. And yet, who will benefit?

"So, you still want to get on board? Of course you do. Because you aren’t just the target for study. You’re also the audience. If you are the kind of person who wants to put on the watch, sleep on the coil, and transmit the data, you’re also the kind of person whose health status Baseline can eventually improve. You’re the subject and the object—customer and product, all at once."

+ MY NOTES: There's trade-offs for everything. Considering it. Let's change the world.


Personalized cancer vaccines making great strides

Turns out we bleed 500,000 horseshoe crabs a year for health tests, going for $14k a quart, which is insane

NASA "4D" prints flexible metal space fabric, has a boatload of super-helpful uses

Video: how to best make sure "smarter than human intelligence" has a "positive outcome" (no Skynet)

On the other hand, Google's pitting neural nets against each other for "unrestricted, unsupervised" learning so, yeah

An interesting op-ed on who selectively rejects science

The dark history of intelligence as domination

And finally we could be completely fucking remiss if we didn't link to this again.