#93: I'll always be your dirty computer

Primaries are kicking into gear, kids. Too many new names out there? The Union of Concerned Scientists has your back:

Text "Vote4Science" to 662266 and they'll not only provide you with opportunities to inject science into your local elections, but also send you important reminders on how to register, when to vote, and help you find your closest polling station. Bang.


This week's guest was Jason Friesen, and we discussed upgrading emergency response services in the age of climate change. He's already saved six lives today. Brian? Listen in!

Subscribe now to get Tuesday's episode with the only and only "Bad Astronomer", Phil Plait! We talked building a new science movement in America in 2018, as well as space, Oregon Trail, and Indiana Jones.


On to the news!

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

As D.I.Y. Gene Editing Gains Popularity, ‘Someone Is Going to Get Hurt’

"In a recent interview, Mr. Gandall, now 18 and a research fellow at Stanford, said he only wants to ensure open access to gene-editing technology, believing future biotech discoveries may come from the least expected minds.

But he is quick to acknowledge that the do-it-yourself genetics revolution one day may go catastrophically wrong.

“Even I would tell you, the level of DNA synthesis regulation, it simply isn’t good enough,” Mr. Gandall said. “These regulations aren’t going to work when everything is decentralized — when everybody has a DNA synthesizer on their smartphone.”

The most pressing worry is that someone somewhere will use the spreading technology to create a bioweapon.

Already a research team at the University of Alberta has recreated from scratch an extinct relative of smallpox, horsepox, by stitching together fragments of mail-order DNA in just six months for about $100,000 — without a glance from law enforcement officials."

+ I mean WHAT

+ More bio:

      - Vaccines Are Pushing Pathogens to Evolve (great perfect)

      - WHO prioritizes diagnostic tests for global health threats



Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

In the Arctic, the Old Ice Is Disappearing

"In the Arctic Ocean, some ice stays frozen year-round, lasting for many years before melting. But this winter, the region hit a record low for ice older than five years.

This, along with a near-record low for sea ice over all, supports predictions that by midcentury there will be no more ice in the Arctic Ocean in summer.

As darker, heat-absorbing water replaces reflective ice, it hastens warming in the region. Older ice is generally thicker than newer ice and thus more resilient to heat. But as the old ice disappears, the newer ice left behind is more vulnerable to rising temperatures."

+ Cue up those sea level rise predictions again.



These Badass Moms Are Raising Kids to Save the Planet

"Earther spoke with some moms behind the 21 youth plaintiffs who have launched a lawsuit against the U.S. government in 2015. Here are just a few of the women raising the climate warriors taking our government to court."

Here's just one quote:

"(My son) grew up in a community and family where concern for the world was just a part of everything we do.”

+ Nature vs. nurture (pun completely intentional) amiright???

+ More on climate change:

      - @DrVox David Roberts on why California's new mandate on solar panels isn't necessarily a good thing.

      - A detailed assessment of exactly how fucked Southern California isregarding, you know, drinking water

      - Much of the world doesn't have A/C. But they want it. That's bad.

      - First map of global freshwater trends shows "human fingerprint"(how's YOUR city fare?)




The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

NASA hasn't funded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence for 25 years. That's about to change.

"In the last few years, several astronomical discoveries have permeated major news cycles and garnered considerable attention. There was Tabby’s Star, a distant star with a jumble of objects floating around it (that astronomers later determined was probably just dust.) There was TRAPPIST-1, a system of seven planets, with several orbiting in their star’s habitable zone. And there was ‘Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object that Milner instructed astronomers to check for signs of artificial technology. They didn’t detect any, but for a time, the thought of getting a positive result, however unlikely, was exhilarating.

Since its inception, SETI has suffered from a giggle factor. Today, after 25 years of discoveries and breakthroughs and progress, the suggestion that we might someday—and perhaps someday soon—stumble upon an alien civilization, even the remains of one, doesn’t seem quite so silly anymore."


Fuck Cancer, Volume XCIII 🖕

A frustrating setback for immunotherapy

"The companies say they aren't dropping the potential drugs, designed to unleash the immune system on cancer cells by blocking an enzyme called indoleamine (2,3)-dioxygenase. But the retrenching suggests that the frenzy to combine novel drugs with the wildly successful immune checkpoint inhibitors is outpacing the science."


The Highlight Reel