Elon Musk Teases Major Neuralink Reveal

Elon Musk has announced that the mysterious computer-brain interface startup Neuralink he co-founded is about to update us on its progress on August 28.

August 28

Elon Musk has announced that the mysterious computer-brain interface startup Neuralink, which he co-founded, will release an update on its progress on August 28.

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” Musk wrote, referring to his greater ambitions to make sure humanity can keep up with advanced AI. “Neuralink mission statement.”

Skull Lasers

Context suggests that this could be a major reveal.

During a July 2019 livestream event, Neuralink announced details about its efforts to connect the human brain to computers. The idea is to implant flexible threads of electrodes into the brain, where they can pick up signals from neurons. These signals are then wirelessly transmitted to a computer nearby.

To implant these electrodes, Neuralink is planning to shoot tiny holes in the skull with lasers.

In a chat with Joe Rogan back in May, Musk claimed that “we may be able to implant a neural link in less than a year in a person I think.”

Still, it’s unclear exactly what Neuralink has been working on. In February, Musk promised that the upcoming version of Neuralink’s brain-computer interface device will be “awesome.”

AI Symbiosis

Earlier versions, Musk has said, will likely be aimed at restoring brain functionality for those with serious neurological disorders.

Later versions, if Musk has anything to do with it, will likely have far greater ambitions, including the concept of enhancing human cognition and “symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk sets update on brain-computer interface company Neuralink for August 28 [TechCrunch]

More on Neuralink: Elon Musk: Neuralink Will Do Human Brain Implant in “Less Than a Year”

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Elon Musk Teases Major Neuralink Reveal

Astronomers Want to Figure Out What the Hell Planet Nine Is Once and For All

A team of astronomers from Harvard University and the Black Hole Initiative developed a new method to hunt for evidence of Planet Nine.

Is there a ninth planet lurking beyond the orbit of Neptune?

Astronomers have been observing strange gravitational patterns of a cluster of bodies known as “trans-Neptunian objects,” or TNOs, that could be explained by the presence of  massive ninth planet in our solar system. The hypothetical planet, dubbed “Planet Nine,” would orbit our star at hundreds of times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

It’s been a contentious topic, with some writing off the odd behavior of TNOs as being caused by a cluster of much smaller space rocks. Others predict that such a planet would be five times the mass of the Earth, orbiting our star at about 400 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun.

Finally, there’s the possibility that Planet Nine is actually a teeny-tiny black hole left over from the Big Bang. So tiny, in fact, that it’d only measure about five centimeters across — basically impossible to see with any kind of telescope.

“There has been a great deal of speculation concerning alternative explanations for the anomalous orbits observed in the outer solar system,” explained Amir Siraj, a Harvard undergraduate student, in a statement. “One of the ideas put forth was the possibility that Planet Nine could be a grapefruit-sized black hole with a mass of five to 10 times that of the Earth.”

So which is it then? In a new paper accepted into the The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Siraj, alongside a team of astronomers from Harvard University and the Black Hole Initiative outlined a newly developed method that could hopefully answer that question once and or all.

Their plan is to look for accretion flares given off as the tiny black hole gobbles up matter surrounding it. If they find some, it’d mean that Planet Nine is actually a black hole. “In the vicinity of a black hole, small bodies that approach it will melt as a result of heating from the background accretion of gas from the interstellar medium onto the black hole,” Siraj said.

“Because black holes are intrinsically dark, the radiation that matter emits on its way to the mouth of the black hole is our only way to illuminate this dark environment,” added Avi Loeb, professor of science at Harvard who was also involved in the research.

The team is placing their bets on the upcoming Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) mission taking place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. Astronomers involved in the mission are hoping to answer questions about the nature of dark energy and dark matter as well as the formation and properties of planets in our solar system.

“LSST has a wide field of view, covering the entire sky again and again, and searching for transient flares,” Loeb said. “Other telescopes are good at pointing at a known target, but we do not know exactly where to look for Planet Nine. We only know the broad region in which it may reside.”

According to Loeb, the LSST’s “unprecedented depth” will be able to spot even the smallest of flares.

It’s not the only attempt to uncover the mysteries behind Planet Nine. Most recently, a different team of astronomers announced it’s hoping to launch a fleet of thousands of “nanospacecraft” to search for the mysterious object.

Unfortunately, that vision is still a moonshot, with cost estimates breaking the $1 billion mark — that is, if it’s even feasible from a technological standpoint in the first place.

READ MORE: Scientists propose plan to determine if Planet Nine is a primordial black hole [Harvard]

More on Planet Nine: A Black Hole May Be Orbiting Our Sun. This Guy Wants to Find It.

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Dr. Fauci Says Trump Hasn’t Talked to Him in a Month

Dr. Fauci hasn't been able to brief President Trump on the coronavirus pandemic for two months. The two haven't even seen each other since early June.

It has been two months since Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief infectious disease expert at the White House, has been able to brief President Trump on the coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, Fauci says, the two haven’t even spoken to each other in a month.

Fauci told Financial Times in a dark, revealing interview that he last saw Trump on June 2. Lately, he’s had to merely pass messages along to the President. And while he’s “sure” the messages reach Trump’s desk, the President clearly isn’t heeding his warnings, as the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. continues to get worse.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we have a serious ongoing problem, right now, as we speak,” Fauci told Financial Times. “What worries me is the slope of the curve. It still looks like it’s exponential.”

Part of the reason things have gotten so bad, Fauci explained in the interview, is that states lifted restrictions or allowed businesses to open before the coronavirus had become manageable in the area.

“I think we have to realize that some states jumped ahead of themselves,” Fauci said. “Other states did it correctly.”

But while Trump has urged states to reopen, is currently pushing for schools to resume in-person classes in the Fall, and otherwise flouted Fauci’s repeated warnings to government leaders, Fauci deflected when asked if Trump was “wrong.”

Instead, Fauci just said that’s the “famous question.”

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This X-Ray Map of the Entire Sky Is a Psychedelic Dreamworld – Futurism

A telescope called eROSITA on board the Spektr-RG space observatory has captured breathtaking X-ray observations of the entire sky, Science Alert reports.

The X-ray instrument was built by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany (MPE), and was launched along with the Russian-German space observatory Spektr-RG in July 2019.

The instruments observations, 165 gigabytes collected over 182 days, have been compiled into a stunning map of the sky that contains more than one million shining X-ray objects.

This all-sky image completely changes the way we look at the energetic universe, Peter Predehl, the Principal Investigator of eROSITA at MPE, said in a statement. We see such a wealth of detail the beauty of the images is really stunning.

Most of the bright X-ray objects, around 77 percent, are active galactic nuclei, or supermassive black holes that are actively absorbing material at the center of galaxies. In between, there are clusters of galaxies that give off shining halos due to trapped gas caused by huge concentrations of dark matter.

We were all eagerly awaiting the first all-sky map from eROSITA, Mara Salvato, the scientist at MPE who was involved in the research, said in the statement.

Large sky areas have already been covered at many other wavelengths, and now we have the X-ray data to match, she added. We need these other surveys to identify the X-ray sources and understand their nature.

The team is already working hard on subsequent maps as well.

Overall, during the next 3.5 years, we plan to get 7 maps similar to the one seen in this beautiful image, Rashid Sunyaev, lead scientist of the Russian SRG team said in the statement. Their combined sensitivity will be a factor of 5 better and will be used by astrophysicists and cosmologists for decades.

With a million sources in just six months, eROSITA has already revolutionized X-ray astronomy, but this is just a taste of whats to come, Kirpal Nandra, head of the high-energy astrophysics group at MPE, said. This combination of sky area and depth is transformational.

Over the next few years, well be able to probe even further, out to where the first giant cosmic structures and supermassive black holes were forming, Nandra added.

READ MORE: This Is What The Entire Sky Looks Like Through X-Ray Eyes [Science Alert]

More on X-ray observatories: Astronomers Detect Biggest Explosion Since the Big Bang

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This X-Ray Map of the Entire Sky Is a Psychedelic Dreamworld - Futurism

Tips from the Top: Global futurist Rohit Talwar – Metro Newspaper UK

The strategic adviser, 58, predicts whats next with Covid, what could happen to the UK and what good yes, good can come of this

Theres a misconception that futurists just sit and make predictions with their crystal balls but we try to look at different factions that shape the future, like trends, weak signals about whats happening next, new ideas in labs. You pull them together and explore what happens next, think about how we might react and what the implications might be. At the moment, a lot of people are talking about AI that is going to be smarter than humans so my job is to inform governments, businesses and individuals, and help them prepare and see what opportunities you can create.

Not Covid-19 in particular but since the 1960s people have been talking about the risks of global pandemics and with the rise of air travel its much more likely these pandemics will spread globally and faster. You know everything that will happen with a virus pandemic and nothing that has happened in the UK is a shock. You know you need to do testing, tracking and tracing, and lockdown to contain a virus. Watch Hollywood movies even film-makers know what to do. Look at the places with good practices such as Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea, which were prepared and had mechanisms in place.

A combination of things funding cuts to physical resources, a level of confidence that it wouldnt happen to us, putting our attention on different things. Over the last ten years government has focused on austerity, not building up the capacity to deal with these things.

There are different scenarios and the most positive is we dont get an uptake in infections, infection rates and death rates keep falling, we gradually unlock the economy and although well have a shockingly bad year the best case is eight to ten per cent shrinkage. Then, if we dont get second waves and a big separate flu epidemic, by 2022 were back to normal. For me, I think its going to be more gradual. The worst-case scenario is that we have a second, third or fourth spike of infection, which will result in us going in and out of lockdowns, probably localised lockdowns. We could see negative interest rates, a prolonged recession and very slow recovery through 2022 and 2023. Both scenarios are possible.

Yes! We have a renewed focus on the health service and the need to provide it with better resources. Weve seen F1 teams and engine manufacturers collaborating to create ventilators, weve seen a mobilisation of the public with 750,000 people signing up as volunteers, an uplift in community spirits, home delivery has been boosted, some sectors have done very well and the environment has been a winner. Its raised digital literacy, many more are working from home, and not the same hours with long commutes, and bicycle ownership has gone up.

You have to blame Neil Armstrong because the moon landing blew my mind I remember thinking Wow, we can leave this planet. I thought that by the time I was an adult, Id be visiting the moon on a regular basis. I loved everything shiny and new, and I watched Tomorrows World. I studied electronics and computer science at the University of Keele, got an MBA from the London Business School and went into consulting.

Do some reading because there are loads of future thinkers and sites out there. You can do short online courses from just half a day long. The University of Houston does them, as well as the University of Manchester. Take an interest in future analysis so if youre studying economy, make sure you push lecturers to talk to you about the new models for the future and new thinking.

We had our entire order book wiped out in February and March for the whole year. It was a big shock. We regrouped, got sponsors for our webinars and decided we wouldnt be derailed. It wasnt easy you have to push hard when theres no revenue. But now the speaking enquiries are coming back and the book is selling well so it feels positive now.

We know 1,000 people in the futures and foresight field so we wrote individually to them, and put a callout on Facebook and Twitter, and asked everyone if theyd like to contribute to a book looking at what life would look like after the pandemic. We gave them a month to do it and ended up with 115 people submitting chapters.

I was in a rush leaving to pick a friend up at the station and accidentally bashed a tap and turned it on. It was a small sink that quickly overflowed so by the time we got back 20 minutes later the office had been flooded. Expensive to fix. The lesson? More haste, less speed.

Salary: A basic researcher role in a future foresight company would earn 20,000 to 30,000 and the very top futurist speakers are doing 200 gigs a year and earning upwards of a million

Regular hours? The more well-known you get, the more global your client base, the more willing you have to be to take a call at 7am or midnight

Short and sweet advice: Its better to try and fail than do nothing

Never stop learning. Its the perfect time to be learning new things and see if the things youre interested in could work as a business

Aftershocks And Opportunities Scenarios For A Post-Pandemic Future, co-written and edited by Rohit Talwar, is out now, visit fastfuture.com

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Tips from the Top: Global futurist Rohit Talwar - Metro Newspaper UK

Physicists Say They’ve Found Evidence of Elusive Axion Particle – Futurism

An international team of physicists claim they may have found evidence for a long-theorized type of subatomic particle called the axion.

Theaxion was first suggested in the 1970s to explain discrepancies in particlephysics. They have also become a popular way to explain the existence of dark matter, the nebulous stuff that makes up 85 percent of the mass of the universe. But scientists have never found direct evidence of them before until, perhaps, now.

As part of the XENON1T Dark Matter Experiment,detailed in a lengthyNew York Timesstory about the discovery, researchers set up two tons of ultra-pure liquefied xenon in a vat under an Italian mountain. Xenon is a noble gas that is extremely stable, an inertness that makes it a perfect candidate to detect the presence of any particles that pass through it.

The team announced that they found a surprising excess of events of particles interacting with the xenon particles events that the scientists couldnt account for using the standard model of physics.

The scientists suggest there are three explanations for this excess.One is contamination in the tank. It could also be caused by neutrinos, a well-established particle.

The third explanation is far more bold, and could have sweeping implications in the world of physics. The interactions could be as a result of axions potentially the first observation of the elusive particle.

While axions are not currently a proposed direct explanation for dark matter, they couldve set the stage for the creation of dark matter in the early stages of our universe.

Scientists are undeniably excited by this third possibility,though theyre also urging restraint due to the other potential explanations.

Im trying to be calm here, but its hard not to be hyperbolic, Neal Weiner, a particle theorist at New York University, who was not involved in the research, told The New York Times. If this is real, calling it a game changer would be an understatement.

If this bears out, and if is a big question, this is the biggest game changer in my corner of physics since the discovery of cosmic acceleration, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a physicist at the University of New Hampshire who also wasnt involved, told Live Science in an email.

Othersare calling for more time before popping the champagne corks.

Despite being excited about this excess, we should be very patient, Luca Grandi, a physicist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the yet-to-be-peer-reviewed paper, told Quanta Magazine.

A much larger experiment, with sensitivity levels dialed up, had to be delayed by the coronavirus lockdown in Italy. It may still take place later this year, according to the Times.

To put the statistics in perspective, Kai Martens, a physicist at the University of Tokyo who worked on the experiment, told Live Science that theres about a 2 in 10,000 chance that random background radiation was behind the excess events rather than axions themselves. That kind of probability falls well short of the threshold physicists typically try to achieve before considering a discovery to be well-established.

So far, the dominant explanation for the existence of dark matter has been the existence of so called weakly interacting massive particles, which have the amusing acronym WIMPs. WIMPs are hypothetical particles that are extremely high in mass and could account for most if not all of dark matter.

But over time, physicists have become increasingly interested in exploring the possibility of axions as well.

READ MORE: Seeking Dark Matter, They Detected Another Mystery [The New York Times]

More on axions: Scientists May Have Identified the Particles That Make Up Dark Matter

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Physicists Say They've Found Evidence of Elusive Axion Particle - Futurism

Startup Says It’ll Launch You Into the Stratosphere on a Balloon – Futurism

Balloon Vision

A startup wants to send you to the edge of space, lifted by a giant balloon.

The company, Space Perspective, is run by husband-and-wife team Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, who unveiled their grand vision today, GeekWire reports.

The pair already attempted to get a similar venture off the ground in 2013, but pivoted to smaller scientific balloons in 2015 instead. They even launched a chicken sandwich in a novelty collaboration with KFC in 2017 but the balloon sprang a leak, cutting the trip short.

Its an ambitious concept: a balloon will hoist a capsule called Spaceship Neptune to an altitude of 100,000 feet, roughly three times the cruising altitude of commercial airlines, or the edge of space according to the company. A ticket will go for $75,000.

But is it really the actual edge of space? 100,000 feet falls far short from what is considered outer space. The Krmn line lies at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) above sea level. 100,000 feet, or 30 kilometers, lies within the Earths stratosphere, a primary layer of the atmosphere. Weather balloons can fly at higher altitudes.

That doesnt mean the views wont be spectacular. From such an altitude, customers will be able to see the curvature of the Earth and above the troposphere, the bubble of air that allows life on Earth to exist.

Ascent and descent will each take two hours, and then Spaceship Neptune will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, where a ship will pick up passengers. Amenities on board the Neptune include a bar and airplane-style toilet.

It will have the best view of any loo in the world, Poynter told GeekWire.

Space Perspective has already signed a lease with spaceport authorities in Florida. Operations could begin at NASAs Kennedy Space Center, but first flights are still several years out.

READ MORE: Space Perspective reboots vision of flying passengers to stratosphere on a balloon

More on space balloons: This Startup Wants to Launch Satellites from Balloons

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Startup Says It'll Launch You Into the Stratosphere on a Balloon - Futurism

Scientists Gave Ketamine to Sheep and Were Baffled by the Result – Futurism

While studying the effects of ketamine on sheep, researchers say they found something truly strange: high doses of the drug appeared to turnthe sheeps brains off and back on again, like a light switch.

This wasnt just reduced brain activity, Jenny Morton, neurobiologist from the University of Cambridge, co-author of the study published in Scientific Reports earlier this month, said in a statement.

After the high dose of ketamine the brains of these sheep completely stopped, she added. Weve never seen that before.

Ketamine is usually used for anesthesia, sedation and pain relief.But in recent years, its also attracted interest as a treatment for depression and other mental health issues.

An interesting new clue about what the drug does: electroencephalography (EEG) readings of the sheeps brains showed a complete shut down of brain activity within two minutes of injection effects that were only temporary.

A few minutes later their brains were functioning normally again it was as though they had just been switched off and on, Morton said.

Similar effects could be seen in humans as well.

The timing of the unusual patterns of sheep brain activity corresponded to the time when human users report feeling their brain has disconnected from their body, Morton explained. Its likely that the brain oscillations caused by the drug may prevent information from the outside world being processed normally.

That kind of disconnect has often been referred to as the K-hole by recreational users of the drug.

Our purpose wasnt really to look at the effects of ketamine, but to use it as a tool to probe the brain activity in sheep with and without the Huntingtons disease gene, said Morton. But our surprising findings could help explain how ketamine works.

It could also help us to see how brain networks function, both in the healthy brain and in neurological diseases like Huntingtons disease and schizophrenia, according to Morton.

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Scientists Gave Ketamine to Sheep and Were Baffled by the Result - Futurism

The Pentagon Is Worried a Space Nuke Will Fry Its Satellites – Futurism

Space Nukes

The U.S. Department of Defense released a new space strategy report on Wednesday. In it, the military revealed that its concerned that nukes detonated in space could wipe out its fleet of satellites.

Its not a new concern,since space nukes were originally banned in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But all the same, Business Insider reports that the Pentagon is particularly concerned that China and Russia might strike a dire warning for the future of combat.

The report specifically identified China and Russia as immediate threats. Such an attack could potentially devastate military communication networks as well as the myriad other systems that depend on satellites.

The challenge of a nuclear detonation is that it creates an electromagnetic pulse and a signal that could then take out indiscriminately many satellites in space and essentially fry the electronics, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay said at a press conference on the report, according to BI.

That is a threat that we have to potentially be prepared for a nuclear detonation in space, he added.

If nothing else, the report is yet another sign that the idea of space remaining peaceful seems to be slipping away.

I wish I could say that space is a sea of tranquility, but the fact of the matter is that space is contested, Kitay said. Outer space has emerged as a key arena of potential conflict in an era of great power competition.

READ MORE: The Pentagon says it needs to be ready should an adversary try to fry satellites by detonating a nuke in space [Business Insider]

More on space nukes: The Military Is Unprepared for Nuclear Strikes on Satellites

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The Pentagon Is Worried a Space Nuke Will Fry Its Satellites - Futurism

1988: The New Vauxhall Cavalier Is the Car 1950s Futurists Predicted – Autoweek

During most of the 1980s, GM's Vauxhall sold J-Body Cavaliers based on the North American Chevrolet Cavalier, and sales in Britain went well. Starting in late 1988, the Cavalier moved over to a new platform, best-known in Europe as the basis of the Opel Vectra (the later Saab 900 and the 9-3 were close relatives). This U.K.-market television advertisement demonstrates that this new Cavalier was exactly what the wisest prognosticators predicted for the year 2000.

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1988: The New Vauxhall Cavalier Is the Car 1950s Futurists Predicted - Autoweek

Mini-Organ Research Reveals What COVID-19 Does to the Body – Futurism

In order to understand how COVID-19 spreads throughout the body, ravaging it in myriad ways, doctors are growing miniature balls or organ-like tissue called organoids, and infecting them again and again.

The results, Nature News reports, are particularly troubling: the miniature lungs, livers, kidneys, hearts, intestines all showed signs of damage. The series of studies reveals with shocking clarity that COVID-19 can cause far more than a lung infection.

Of course, thats not exactly news. This harrowing list of survivors and medical workers horror stories gathered by SFGate includes heart attacks, strokes, long-term lung damage, incontinence, skin damage, and other serious complications for supposed mild cases of the coronavirus:

Thats just one of the many, many stories they gathered about the ways a road to recovery from COVID-19 is neither linear nor something that shouldnt be feared.

That said, for all their benefits, organoids are still imperfect. Per Nature, theyre far more simplistic than a full-sized organ. And because theyre not all connected in the same body, doctors can only use them to study the impacts on a single organ in isolation.

We know the cells die but we dont know how, Weill Cornell Medicine stem cell biologist Shuibing Chen told Nature of her study on miniature lungs.

Even though questions remain, its clear those impacts are serious. Various studies found that the coronavirus caused serious damage in several organs, and may lead to indirect damage in others. It also became clear that the coronavirus can infect and spread through blood vessels, leading to a more serious, widespread case.

To figure that out, biologists will need to develop more sophisticated and realistic organoids and try their experiments again, Nature reports.

It is too early to say how relevant they are, Bart Haagmans, an Erasmus MC virologist who ran a study on gut organoids, told Nature.


Mini-Organ Research Reveals What COVID-19 Does to the Body - Futurism

Scientists: Mutated Version of Coronavirus May Have Hit NYC, Italy – Futurism

Scientists suspect that the reason some parts of the world were devastated by the coronavirus pandemic while others were able to contain their outbreaks is that different areas have been hit by different mutations of the virus itself.

A team from Scripps Research have singled out one particular mutation, dubbed D614G, as a particularly-infectious strain of the virus, Reuters reports and they say it could explain the massive death tolls in locations including New York City and Italy.

This mutation was previously identified as one of the dominant forms of the coronavirus and linked to greater rates of transmission, but now the team thinks they know why its so dangerous.

The surface of the coronavirus is covered in spike proteins that help it latch onto a host cell. It turns out that the D614G mutation gives the virus four to five times as many spikes. That makes it far more likely to glom onto and infect a cell, according to research shared online last week thats currently awaiting peer review. The study also found that added spikes help keep the virus intact as it floats inside its host.

Our data are very clear, the virus becomes much more stable with the mutation, Scripps virologist Hyeryun Choe said in a press release.

Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used, Choe added.

What remains unknown about D614G is whether it causes more severe infections or if its deadlier than other strains of the coronavirus. The Scripps researchers havent yet looked into it, Reuters reports, but plan to conduct more studies soon.

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The death of the open-plan office? Not quite, but a revolution is in the air – The Conversation AU

What will it take to encourage much more widespread reliance on working at home for at least part of each week? asked Frank Schiff, the chief economist of the US Committee for Economic Development, in The Washington Post in 1979.

Four decades on, we have the answer.

But COVID-19 doesnt spell the end of the centralised office predicted by futurists since at least the 1970s.

The organisational benefits of the propinquity effect the tendency to develop deeper relationships with those we see most regularly are well-established.

The open-plan office will have to evolve, though, finding its true purpose as a collaborative work space augmented by remote work.

If were smart about it, necessity might turn out to be the mother of reinvention, giving us the best of both centralised and decentralised, collaborative and private working worlds.

Organisational culture, not technology, has long been the key force keeping us in central offices.

That was the case in 1974 and is still the case today, observed the father of telecommuting Jack Nilles in 2015, three decades after he and his University of Southern California colleagues published their landmark report Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff: Options for Tomorrow. The adoption of telework is still well behind its potential.

Read more: 50 years of bold predictions about remote work: it isn't all about technology

Until now.

But it has taken a pandemic to change the status quo evidence enough of culture resistance.

In his 1979 article, Schiff outlined three key objections to working from home:

how to tell how well workers are doing, or if they are working at all

employees need for contact with coworkers and others

too many distractions.

To the first objection, Schiff responded that experts agreed performance is best judged by output and the organisations objectives. To the third, he noted: In many cases, the opposite is likely to be true.

The COVID-19 experiment so far supports him. Most workers and managers are happy with remote working, believe they are performing just as well, and want to continue with it.

But the second argument the need for personal contact to foster close teamwork is harder to dismiss.

There is evidence remote workers crave more feedback.

Read more: Informal feedback: we crave it more than ever, and don't care who it's from

As researchers Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber note in their Harvard Business Review article The Truth About Open Offices, published in November 2019, one of the most robust findings in sociology proposed long before we had the technology to prove it through data is that propinquity, or proximity, predicts social interaction.

Wabers research at the MIT Media Lab demonstrated the probability that any two workers will interact either in person or electronically is directly proportional to the distance between their desks. In his 2013 book People Analytics he includes the following results from a bank and information technology company.

Interest in fostering collaboration has sometimes led to disastrous workplace experiments. One was the building Frank Gehry designed for the Chiat/Day advertising agency in the late 1980s.

Agency boss Jay Chiat envisioned his headquarters as a futuristic step into flexible work but workers hated the lack of personal spaces.

Less dystopian was the Pixar Animation Studios headquarters opened in 2000. Steve Jobs, majority shareholder and chief executive, oversaw the project. He took a keen interest in things like the placement of bathrooms, accessed through the buildings central atrium. We wanted to find a way to force people to come together, he said, to create a lot of arbitrary collisions of people.

Yet Bernstein and Wabers research shows propinquity is also strong in campus buildings designed to promote serendipitous interaction. For increased interactions, they say, workers should be ideally on the same floor.

How to balance the organisational forces pulling us together with the health forces pushing social distancing?

We know COVID-19 spreads most easily between people in enclosed spaces for extended periods. In Britain, research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows workplaces are the most common transmission path for adults aged 20 to 50.

Read more: As coronavirus restrictions ease, here's how you can navigate public transport as safely as possible

We may have to get used to wearing masks along with plenty of hand sanitising and disinfecting of high-traffic areas and shared facilities, from keyboards to kitchens. Every door knob and lift button is an issue.

But space is the final frontier.

Its going to take more than vacating every second desk or imposing barriers like cubicle walls, which largely defeat the point of open-plan offices.

An alternative vision comes from real-estate services company Cushman & Wakefield. Its 6 feet office concept includes more space between desks and lots of visual cues to remind coworkers to maintain physical distances.

Read more: Vital Signs: rules are also signals, which is why easing social distancing is such a problem

Of course, to do anything like this in most offices will require a proportion of staff working at home on any given day. It will also mean then end of the individual desk for most.

This part may the hardest to handle. We like our personal spaces.

Well need to balance the sacrifice of sharing spaces against the advantages of working away from the office while still getting to see colleagues in person. Well need new arrangements for storing personal items beyond the old locker, and handover protocols for equipment and furniture.

Offices will also need to need more private spaces for greater use of video conferencing and the like. These sorts of collaborative tools dont work well if you cant insulate yourself from distractions.

But theres a huge potential upside with the new open office. A well-managed rotation of office days and seating arrangements could help us get to know more of those colleagues who, because they used to sit a few too many desks away, we rarely talked to.

Read more: Goodbye to the crowded office: how coronavirus will change the way we work together

It might just mean the open-plan office finally finds its mojo.

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The death of the open-plan office? Not quite, but a revolution is in the air - The Conversation AU

This Star Is So Huge that Saturn’s Orbit Would Fit Inside It – Futurism

An international team of researchers has found that the red supergiant star Antares is even more gigantic than initially thought, Space.com reports.

Previous research found that Antares, which is located about 550 light-years away in the Scorpius constellation, is about 700 times larger than the Sun but that number increases dramatically when mapped in a different spectrum.

The size of a star can vary dramatically depending on what wavelength of light it is observed with, Eamon OGorman, astronomer at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and lead author of a new study about the project published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics this week, said in a statement.

The longer wavelengths of the [Very Large Array] revealed the supergiants atmosphere out to nearly 12 times the stars radius, OGorman added.

The team used the latest readings from both the Very Large Array combined with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array to study Antares atmosphere and, in the process assembled the most detailed map in existence of any star besides our Sun.

Supergiant red stars are the largest stars found in the universe in terms of volume, but not mass. Theyre relatively cool and form from stars that start to collapse in on themselves. Once their time is up, they collapse into a supernova.

The region just above red supergiants surface, the chromosphere, is cooler than the Suns. Its chromosphere is also far more extensive, stretching to 2.5 times that of its radius, compared to the Suns chromosphere, which extends to only 0.5 percent of its radius.

We found that the chromosphere is lukewarm rather than hot, in stellar temperatures, OGorman explained. The difference can be explained because our radio measurements are a sensitive thermometer for most of the gas and plasma in the stars atmosphere, whereas past optical and ultraviolet observations were only sensitive to very hot gas and plasma.

By scrutinizing the stars chromosphere, they could even tell where winds on its surface start from.

Knowing the actual sizes and temperatures of the atmospheric zones gives us a clue of how these huge winds start to form and how much mass is being ejected, co-author Graham Harper of the University of Colorado said in the statement.

READ MORE: New map reveals just how enormous the supergiant star Antares really is [Space.com]

More on red giants: Giant Star Betelgeuse May Have Eaten a Smaller Companion

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This Star Is So Huge that Saturn's Orbit Would Fit Inside It - Futurism

A Space Probe Just Took the Closest Pictures of the Sun Ever – Futurism

The European Space Agencys Solar Orbiter probe just made its first close approach of the Sun, getting within 77 million kilometers (47.8 million miles) of the stars surface about half the distance between Earth and the Sun.

During its approach, it snapped the closest images of the Sun ever captured which will be released in mid-July, according to a statement.

We have never taken pictures of the Sun from a closer distance than this, ESAs Solar Orbiter Project Scientist Daniel Mller said in the statement.

While weve been able to zoom in further using solar telescopes from Earth such as the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii, this spacecraft was able to get a much clearer look from outer space, unobstructed by Earths atmosphere.

For the first time, we will be able to put together the images from all our telescopes and see how they take complementary data of the various parts of the Sun including the surface, the outer atmosphere, or corona, and the wider heliosphere around it, Mller added.

Scientists will also be able to get an unprecedented peek at the structure and composition of solar winds, according to the scientists.

For the in-situ instruments, this is not just a test, we are expecting new and exciting results, Yannis Zouganelis, ESAs Solar Orbiter Deputy Project Scientist, said in the statement.

The Solar Orbiter will get even near to the Sun later, getting as close as 42 million kilometers (26 million miles) closer than Mercury.

The record still belongs to NASAs Parker Solar Probe, which in November 2018 became the closest man-made object to the Sun ever sent into space, at just 24 million kilometers (15 million miles) from the surface.

The images taken by the Solar Orbiter will take a week to travel the 134 million kilometers (83 million miles) back to Earth. The images will then be processed and released to the public in mid-July.

READ MORE: Solar Orbiter makes first close approach to the Sun [ESA]

More on the Sun: The Highest Def Photo of the Sun Looks Like Popcorn

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A Space Probe Just Took the Closest Pictures of the Sun Ever - Futurism

COVID Could Be Making People So Lonely That They’re Getting Sick – Futurism

As we enter another week of pandemic lockdown, scientists are working to understand the toll extended isolation takes on our minds and bodies.

The medical effects of loneliness are difficult to measure especially because loneliness is a subjective experience that varies wildly from person to person. But semantics aside, a clear trend is emerging, CNET reports, and its not great.

Extended loneliness can have serious psychological impacts, like exacerbated depression, anxiety, and increased irritability, according to 2018 research posted in the journal The Lancet. But the impacts extend far beyond psychological health.

Its very distressing when we are not a part of a group, Brigham Young University psychologist and neuroscientist Julianne Holt-Lundstad told CNET. We have to deal with our environment entirely on our own, without the help of others, which puts our brain in a state of alert, but that also signals the rest of our body to be in a state of alert.

Loneliness has been linked to all sorts of medical problems, like cognitive decline in old age, cancer, and heart disease, CNET reports. Though the causal relationship between loneliness and disease is poorly understood, there seems to be a genetic mechanism, potentially triggered by prolonged loneliness, that increases the risk of those diseases.

The subjective experience has to be translated somehow in the brain into biology, and so thats [what] were looking at now, Turhan Canli, an integrative neuroscientist at Stony Brook University, told CNET.

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COVID Could Be Making People So Lonely That They're Getting Sick - Futurism

You May Be At Risk of Severe COVID If You Have This Blood Type – Futurism

According to a new study by European researchers, people with type A blood are at a much higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, suggesting there may be a way to explain which COVID-19 patients get far sicker than others, Reuters reports.

It could also help health practitioners determine who is more at risk of developing a serious illness as a result of the coronavirus. The research could even point researchers towards developing more effective drug treatment plans.

Out of 1,610 patients with respiratory failure from Italy and Spain alongside a control group of 2,250 the risk of developing severe COVID-19 was 45 percent higher for those with type A blood. For those with type O blood, the risk was 35 percent lower.

The studywas published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

The findings [] provide specific clues as to what disease processes may be going on in severe COVID-19, co-author Tom Karlsen, from Oslo University Hospital in Norway told Reuters in an email.

If confirmed, this wouldnt be the first time the severity of a disease was linked to blood types. For instance, people with blood type O only rarely develop severe malaria symptoms, as German broadcaster Deutsche Welle points out.

Its still far too early to draw any definitive conclusions, though. Scientists are racing at breakneck speeds to find treatment plans and a cure. No stone is being left unturned but even researchers can end up stumbling on early findings.


You May Be At Risk of Severe COVID If You Have This Blood Type - Futurism

Life in a post-coronavirus world: will it feel so very different? – The Guardian

Has there ever been an easier time to be a futurist? Im distrustful of the profession at the best of times, since it involves making pronouncements about a time that hasnt arrived and not being held to account for your errors when it does arrive, because then its no longer the future, and thus no concern of the futurists. But these days, as the world staggers uncertainly out of lockdown, its even easier. All you need to say is that in life in general, or in whatever field youre supposedly expert, everythings going to change. Education, the economy, travel, work, dating, sport, the advertising industry, the world of aluminium can manufacturing: recent stories have promised massive transformation in them all. Or as a great sage (on the groundbreaking satire The Day Today) put it a quarter of a century ago: If youve got a history book at home, take it out, throw it in the bin its worthless.

My objection isnt that any of this is necessarily false. (Although taken literally, it is, because history never unfolds in absolutes: for example, its always jarring to be reminded that most people spent the Great Depression in work, not unemployed.) Rather, its the implication that life, in years to come, is going to feel very different indeed. And one of the few things we can be pretty sure of is that it wont. For most of us, most of the time, itll feel normal.

Part of the reason is hedonic adaptation, our tendency to swiftly adapt emotionally to positive or negative changes in our circumstances, drifting back towards our baseline levels of curmudgeonliness or cheer. Another is the focusing illusion, whereby we overestimate the impact that any given change will have on our lives. The cumulative result is that any future change in your situation like never shaking hands again, wearing a mask in public, or even something huge, like losing your job is likely to make less of a difference than you think. After the attacks of September 11, we were told the world would never be the same again, and it wasnt. But for all except those most directly affected bereaved by war, imprisoned in Guantnamo it soon felt normal. And so it goes, through history: each time a huge event disrupts a civilisations ordinary way of life, the ordinary way of life its disrupting is what people formerly thought of as the terrible climate ushered in by the last huge event.

None of this means things will be fine. They may well be worse: a world with less human contact, or more joblessness, is surely objectively worse, however normal it feels. But it does mean that if you found life generally meaningful in the post-9/11 world, or the post-financial-crisis world, the chances are youll do so in the post-coronavirus world as well.

In any case, as the political scientist Mark Lilla pointed out in a recent essay, even to ask a question such as How different will the future be? is to assume an oddly passive stance towards it. The future doesnt exist so we should ask only what we want to happen, and how to make it happen, given the constraints of the moment. Were never really waiting to see how the future unfolds. Were creating it as we go.

Being certain about the future would drain your life of meaning, Susan Jeffers argues in her self-help book Embracing Uncertainty.

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Life in a post-coronavirus world: will it feel so very different? - The Guardian

Bad News: Another Deadly Virus Is Spreading in the US – Futurism

Theres another deadly virus brewing in the Northeastern United States.

Those words may be hard to hear, but theres some good news as well: youre extremely unlikely to catch it.

The eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus can cause a severe brain infection, and it can be transmitted through a mosquito bite, as OneZero reports.

As the virus name suggests, horses are particularly susceptible to infection. Theres a vaccine for horses but no specific treatment plan or approved human vaccine.

Luckily, transmission and infection are both extremely rare. Since it was first discovered in humans in 1938, there have been less than 100 cases in the US, according to OneZero.

In 2019, for instance, there were only 38 human cases recorded and 15 deaths in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 95 percent of those bitten by EEE-carrying mosquitoes never end up developing an infection.

Those numbers couldnt be more different from the current coronavirus pandemic. The United States alone crossed the two million cases threshold this week, with over 1,000 people dying from COVID-19 related deaths every 24 hours.

But once infected, the EEE virus is deadly. Mortality rate is about 33 percent, according to the National Environmental Health Association. Those who survive will have to battle with sometimes crippling neurological impairments.

Scientists are also worried that with rising temperatures caused by global warming, the number of outbreaks of the virus appear to be on the rise in large part due to growing mosquito populations during prolonged summer periods, according to OneZero.

At the end of the day, despite the risks, its important not to take the EEE virus too far out of context.

We try our best to make people aware of the risks without sensationalizing, Catherine Brown, state epidemiologist at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, told OneZero. But there are still people who are so fearful of EEE that they kind of forget that there are other things going on in the world.

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Bad News: Another Deadly Virus Is Spreading in the US - Futurism

This Flying Car Looks Like the DeLorean From "Back to the Future" – Futurism

June 12th 20__Jon Christian__Filed Under: Advanced Transport

Israel startup Urban Aeronautics announced this week that its partnering with hydrogen fuel cell maker HyPoint to devise a hydrogen-powered flying car.

And the sleek, retro design will look familiar to fans of the DeLorean Motor Company or anyone whos seen the 1985 time travel blockbuster Back to the Future, featuring one of the companys vehicles. Also, you know, it flies.

The view of the futuristic vehicle changes substantially depending on your angle.

From the side, the electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle looks like a smoothed-down version of a DMC DeLorean but from above or below, its clear that the cars front and rear are taken up by two enormous fans that provide lift. Another apparent DeLorean allusion: though its unclear whether this version will include it, a previous design even included that vehicles iconic gull-wing doors.

READ MORE: Urban Aeronautics moves to hydrogen for its CityHawk eVTOL air taxi [New Atlas]

More on early life: Watch This Flying Taxi Soar Over a German City

Up Next__Scientists Claim to Have Recreated Earths First Life >>>

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This Flying Car Looks Like the DeLorean From "Back to the Future" - Futurism