#44: Digging out of a hole

Lots going on this week. Clearly.

A hyper-connected world with unreliable leadership, dangerous weapons and a collapsing climate makes for tumultuous, unnerving times. Which may very well be what instigated my migraine last week and left you without a newsletter.


It's hard to keep up with stuff. The little stuff. The big stuff. The little stuff that seems like big stuff. The big stuff that's drowning in small stuff. The dumb shit that's still important.

We're doing our goddamn best to help you cut through the bullshit. If you feel like we're doing a good job, please share us -- email, Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon. Whatever works. Let's spread the gospel and keep the lights on, shall we?

On to the news!

1. Starting off light, in which scientists identify maple syrup as a possible world-saver in the fight against antibiotic resistance. - Gizmodo

"Around two million Americans each year suffer from bacterial diseases resistant to antibiotics, and 23,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Partially inspired by folk medicine, scientists decided to tackle the problem by using a healthy chemical found in maple syrup. These so-called phenols significantly increased the effectiveness of some of the most common antibiotics."

+ MY NOTES: It's alllll coming together.

2. Here's a story about Elon Musk's pre-emptive battle against the AI apocalypse. - Vanity Fair

"Elon Musk began warning about the possibility of A.I. running amok three years ago. It probably hadn’t eased his mind when one of Hassabis’s partners in DeepMind, Shane Legg, stated flatly, “I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this.”"

+ MY NOTES: We're soooooo far away from general artificial intelligence, but I will say it's nice that somebody's thinking about the long term, for once.

3. Annnnnd here's one about his new venture that will turn us into cyborgs. - The Verge

"SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is backing a brain-computer interface venture called Neuralink, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company, which is still in the earliest stages of existence and has no public presence whatsoever, is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence. These enhancements could improve memory or allow for more direct interfacing with computing devices."

+ MY NOTES: Because he doesn't have enough to do, which brings me to

4. Last week when Elon launched and landed the first recycled orbital rocket in space flight history - Space.com

"It was the second launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage; the booster also helped send SpaceX's uncrewed Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station on a resupply mission for NASA in April 2016. (The booster's first touchdown also occurred on Of Course I Still Love You.)"

+ MY NOTES: Some people want to drag us into the future. And some men just want to watch the world burn.

5. To combat global warming, let's start talking sci-fi. - NYTimes

"That is where engineering the climate comes in. Last month, scholars from the physical and social sciences who are interested in climate change gathered in Washington to discuss approaches like cooling the planet by shooting aerosols into the stratosphere or whitening clouds to reflect sunlight back into space, which may prove indispensable to prevent the disastrous consequences of warming."

+ MY NOTES: Sounds insane, but guess what? We're kind of at that point. 

6. Here's exactly how air pollution kills 3,450,000 people a year. - Popular Science

"Air pollution doesn’t respect borders.

Twenty-two percent of the deaths were linked to pollution created by products consumed elsewhere. For example, a significant percentage of the deaths in China were caused by air pollution released while creating baubles later bought and sold in the West.

“Air pollution can travel long distances and cause health impacts in downwind regions," said study co-author Qiang Zhang, a researcher at Tsinghua University, Beijing. “Our study revealed that international trade has greatly extended the distance of such impacts by separating the locations of consumption and production.”

+ MY NOTES: And yet. 


Here's an AI heart monitor that could save your life

Scientists create period in a dish

These are the chips powering machine learning which is powering the medicinal AI revolution (among others)

Feeling down? Here's how climate change contributes to mental illness

A 538 bracket of cool things about Mars, because why not

I know YOU already believe in climate change but if your "friends" need photographic evidence, here's some

Some great ideas on how to save the world's coral reefs

Some news on quantum computing

NBC ordered a prime time show about science