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The stench of eugenics at the White House – WSWS

In remarks reminiscent of the darkest days of the eugenics movement, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Friday that the fact that COVID-19 predominantly kills people who are unwell to begin with is encouraging news.

As the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a record high, the CDC director was asked in an interview on ABCs Good Morning America about those encouraging headlines that were talking about this morning.

Walensky replied:

The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities, so really these are people who are unwell to begin with, and yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.

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As a factual matter, the claim that COVID-19 in general, and the Omicron variant in particular, is only affecting the elderly and ill is false. The spread of the new variant has driven a record surge in hospitalizations of young people, and in particular children and infants. The long-term consequences for those who survive and suffer the consequences of Long COVID is still little understood.

However, the suggestion that the overwhelming number of deaths occur among the elderly and those with preexisting conditions (comorbidities) is encouraging news is shocking in its implications.

Walenskys comments were broadly condemned by doctors, scientists and advocates for the disabled as an embrace of eugenics by the Biden administration.

This is eugenicist, lawyer and disability activist Matthew Cortland, who is chronically ill, wrote on Twitter. The problem is that the people running @CDCgov, including @CDCDirector, **fundamentally believe** its encouraging if disabled and chronically ill people die. And all of their decisions are informed by, and enact, that belief.

None of this is hyperbole. Walenskys comments express the turn on the part of the White House and dominant sections of the US political establishment toward an open embrace of the view that the lives of the chronically ill, the disabled, and the elderly are fundamentally valueless.

The leading advocate of this policy is Ezekiel Emanuel, the former Obama administration official and current Biden COVID task force adviser, who is now being promoted in a full court press in the US print and broadcast media.

On Wednesday, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a set of articles by Emanuel and other former Biden health advisors arguing for making COVID-19 the new normal and calling on states to retire the reporting of COVID-19 deaths. These articles were treated as gospel in the US media, with fawning front-page write-ups in the New York Times and Washington Post.

But this campaign went into overdrive on Sunday, with Emanuel serving as the unstated surrogate for the White House on NBCs Meet the Press. Emanuels call for a new normal was simultaneously hailed by the lead editorial in the Washington Post, which called it a sensible strategy for living with covid, presented by experts.

In reality, the call by Emanuel and his co-authors is nothing more than a recapitulation of the pseudo-scientific Great Barrington Declaration, stripped of the myth that herd immunity would lead to the end of the pandemic. It is a plan for COVID-19 in perpetuity, with wave after wave, variant after variant, taking countless lives each year.

Neither Meet the Press nor the Washington Post editorial mentioned that Emanuel is a leading advocate of reducing life expectancy and slashing the provision of medical care for the elderly and chronically ill.

Emanuel, in the words of University of South Carolina philosophy professor Jennifer A. Frey, thinks of disabled and elderly people as useless and ineffectual; when we run the cost/benefit analysis they cost more than they are worth. Emanuel believes that life after 75 [is] not worth living and old people a drain on our resources, she concluded.

Emanuel has expressed his eugenicist ideas time and time again, noted journalist and disability researcher Laura Dorwart.

Emanuels basic precept is that the fundamental determinant of medical care must not be the individuals rights to decency and dignity, but rather a cost-benefit analysis driven by the costs to society of extending the lives of the ill and the elderly.

Emanuel claimsrightlythat the medical profession is averse to such cost-benefit analysis. But this is because the application of such an analysis to medicine and public health is informed by the legacy of eugenics and the German Nazi Partys murder of tens of thousands of people with chronic illnesses whom the Nazis branded unfit to live.

In the bioethics textbook From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, professors Allen Buchman, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler note the legacy of cost-benefit analysis in the American eugenics movement.

They cite the Eugenics Catechism of the American Eugenics Society of 1926, which argues, It has been estimated that the State of New York, up to 1916, spent over $2,000,000 on the descendants of one familythe Jukesclaimed to be genetically deficient. How much would it have cost to sterilize the original Jukes pair? asked the society: Less than $150.

The book continues, Similar examples abounded in the arithmetic books of German schoolchildren in the 1930s, extending to the cost of keeping institutionalized, handicapped people alive; not long afterward, tens of thousands lost their lives.

In the autumn of 1939, Adolf Hitler secretly authorized a medically administered program of mercy death code-named Operation T4, writes the US Holocaust Museum. The killings secretly continued until the wars end, resulting in the murder of an estimated 275,000 people with disabilities.

Today, hundreds of thousands of elderly and chronically ill people are dying, not in gas chambers, but gasping for air in Americas hospitals. Seventy-five percent of those who have died from COVID-19 have been above the retirement age of 65, and 93 percent have been over the age of 50. In 2020, a year in which 373,000 Americans died from COVID-19, US life expectancy at birth fell by 1.8 years, from 78.8 years to 77.0, according to federal mortality data released last month.

But this reality is not, as Walensky says, encouraging, but a horrifying source of guilt and shame, a condemnation of an utterly inhuman society driven by the needs of enriching the few at the expense of the many.

Scientists and doctors have responded to Walenskys remarks with the demand that she resign. Their anger is justified. But the fact is that Walensky was speaking not only for herself, not only for the Biden administration, but for the entire capitalist class.

For years, American think tanks and military strategists have systematically advocated reducing the life expectancy of American workers. The pandemic has created the means by which this policy could be implemented through seeming inaction and incompetence.

It is, in fact, a deliberate policy, driven by the diseased reliance of all aspects of American capitalism on the perpetual rise in the markets, fueled by the ever-greater immiseration and impoverishment of the working class. Having bled much of the working class dry, the capitalist oligarchy looks to the elderly and the disabled as a source of untapped value.

If they have their way, the cutting of outlays on Social Security and Medicare is to be accomplished not by politicians touching the third rail of American politics, but by allowing the pandemic to continue in perpetuity.

This filthy policy is accompanied by an equally filthy lie: That COVID-19 cannot be stopped. China has successfully executed a Zero COVID policy, with just 5,000 deaths in a country of 1.4 billion. If a similar policy had been carried out in the United States at the start of the pandemic, over 850,000 people would still be alive.

This homicidal new normal demanded by the capitalist oligarchy is being challenged by a growing movement of the working class to resist mass infection and mass death. Teachers in Chicago voted last week to oppose the resumption of in-person instruction, and teachers in Chicago, New York and San Francisco have launched sickouts. They will be joined this week with a wave of walkouts by students in opposition to the Biden administrations homicidal drive to keep schools open no matter the costs in human lives.

The open turn to eugenics by the ruling class expresses a fundamental reality that is dawning on millions of people: Capitalism is incompatible with the social rights of the great mass of humanity. Securing those rights requires the struggle to end this social order and replace it with socialism.

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The stench of eugenics at the White House - WSWS

Raymond J. de Souza: The tragedy of eugenics and the babies not born – National Post

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A New York Times investigation found some non-invasive prenatal tests to be wrong up to 85 per cent of the time

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The New Years baby story is a news standard, an endearing report about the couple who planned a quiet New Years Eve at home but instead delivered a baby at 12:05 a.m. on January 1st. In smaller cities and towns, local merchants often provide gifts to the New Years baby.

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So it was a bit jarring to see The New York Times Jan. 1 feature about non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). It was about babies who had never been born. An NYT investigation found the non-invasive tests to be wildly inaccurate wrong up to 85 per cent of the time which often leads to abortions. Its a tale of two doleful phenomena: the widespread return of eugenics and the financial corruption of medicine.

Eugenics was a respectable, even fashionable, cause in progressive circles in the 1920s and 1930s. When I studied economics at Cambridge, I came to learn that the giants of the departments history John Maynard Keynes most prominent among them advocated for eugenics.

Closer to home, Tommy Douglas voted the greatest Canadian of all time in 2004 wrote his masters thesis on The Problems of the Subnormal Family in 1933. He advocated medical licences prior to marriage to prevent those with intellectual disabilities from being permitted to breed.

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Eugenics was a respectable cause in the 1920s and 1930s

The Nazi medical horrors put eugenics in a bad odour for a few generations. As premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, Douglas declined to implement the policies that he had advocated years earlier.

In recent decades, eugenics has made a comeback in polite society due to two changes, one legal and one technological. Easy access to abortion and pre-natal testing for genetic abnormalities have made it possible for eugenics to be applied in utero .

Children with Down syndrome were the primary target, as the chromosomal anomaly is relatively easy to detect. Screening for Down syndrome has been very successful. In 2017, Iceland declared itself to be free of Down syndrome children, as nearly 100 per cent of them are now aborted after testing.

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In many countries, a majority of Down syndrome pregnancies are aborted. In the United States the abortion rate for Down syndrome is 67 per cent (1995-2011); in France its 77 per cent (2015); and Denmark, 98 per cent (2015).

In Canada , public health does not keep figures, but reports that despite the trend in delayed childbearing and advanced maternal age at delivery in the last several decades, rates of Down syndrome in Canada have not increased proportionately. This is due to increased use of prenatal diagnostic procedures followed by terminations of Down syndrome pregnancies.

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The NYT story looked at non-invasive prenatal testing for five other abnormalities and found startlingly high false positive rates, with 81 to 93 per cent of the tests giving wrong results.

Why would doctors prescribe tests for very rare conditions with sky-high false positive rates, when the likely consequence is catastrophic?

There is a financial incentive.

Its a little like running mammograms on kids, Mary Norton, an obstetrician and geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the NYT. The chance of breast cancer is so low, so why are you doing it? I think its purely a marketing thing.

Successful marketing at that.

Why would doctors prescribe these tests?

The NYT reported that one large test maker, Natera, performed more than 400,000 screenings for just one abnormality in 2020 the equivalent of testing roughly 10 per cent of pregnant women in America.

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Americas medical-industrial complex provides built-in incentives for excessive use of unreliable tests. In other countries financial incentives might be lesser, but the phenomenon remains. Where the medical system does not encourage NIPT, individual parents can seek the tests on their own. The eugenic purpose remains the same even if pursued and paid for differently.

The simplest prenatal test is for gender. Being male or female is not a disorder, but even that can be put to eugenic purposes. Its been more than 30 years since Amartya Sens landmark article on the 100 million missing women, missing largely due to sex-selected abortion and infanticide. Testing technology has only grown more widespread since.

Abortion for gender reasons is widely denounced, but is rarely done by mistake. Eugenic abortion for disabilities is not denounced. But when done by mistake the horror is all the more grave.

National Post

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Raymond J. de Souza: The tragedy of eugenics and the babies not born - National Post

Toppling the Monument to Silence: Racism and the Founding Fathers of Environmental Organizations – Non Profit News – Nonprofit Quarterly

The environmental field is no less steeped in white supremacy than any other field currently being held up for inspectionindeed, the very foundation of environmentalism is rooted in white supremacy, and the rampant racism and discrimination in the writing and actions of early environmental leaders are well documented.1 Yet, acknowledgment of the troubled racial history of environmental organizations is slow coming. Most environmental organizations prefer to ignore inconvenient aspects of their history, disregard disturbing revelations, and respond with deafening silence.

But the summer of 2020 was a watershed moment. It changed how some major environmental nonprofits deal with racism and their past. Amid the Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of George Floyd and other Black men and women, the presidents and chief executive officers of some prominent environmental organizations sheepishly acknowledged the troubling racist past of their institutions.2

Over summer and early fall of 2020, there was a sudden flurry of apologies from environmental organizations forced by internal battlesenergized by the overall societal eruptionto step up and acknowledge their full history, and exercise transparency vis--vis their current practices.

On June 19 (Juneteenth), 2020, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Bronx Zoo apologized for and acknowledged their bigoted actions and attitudes in the early 1900s toward non-whitesespecially African Americans, Native Americans and immigrants, including such reprehensible treatment as displaying a young Central African man, Mbye Otabenga, in a Bronx Zoo exhibit in 1904.3 WCS also apologized for their ties to eugenicists Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn, both of whom espoused eugenics-based, pseudoscientific racism.4 Cristin Samper, president and CEO of the Society, wrote in a letter to staff, We deeply regret that many people and generations have been hurt by these actions.5

The Sierra Club followed suit, posting Pulling Down Our Monuments on its website on July 22.6 In the article, Michael Brunethe organizations executive directorwrote, As defenders of Black life pull down Confederate monuments across the country, we must also take this moment to reexamine our past and our substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy. Its time to take down some of our own monuments, starting with some truth-telling about the Sierra Clubs early history.7

Brune acknowledged that The most monumental figure in the Sierra Clubs past is John Muir. And Muir was not immune to the racism peddled by many in the early conservation movement. He made derogatory comments about Black people and Indigenous peoples that drew on deeply harmful racist stereotypes.8 He noted that Muirs words and actions carry an especially heavy weight. They continue to hurt and alienate Indigenous people and people of color who come into contact with the Sierra Club.9 Brune also named other early members and leaders of the Sierra ClubJoseph LeConte and David Starr Jordan, for example, who were vocal advocates for white supremacy and its pseudo-scientific arm, eugenics.10 He discussed exclusionary practices that protected and maintained whiteness in the club: Membership could only be granted through sponsorship from existing members, some of whom screened out any applicants of color.11 And he admitted that, currently, some of the clubs members want the organization to stay in our lane and stop talking about issues of race, equity, and privilege.12

Later, A. Tianna Scozzaro, director of the Sierra Clubs Gender Equity and Environment Program, also wrote an article. In it, she argued that the history of eugenics has a deeply troubling relationship with the environmental movement. Race, population eugenics, and natural order were highly problematic features and values of the movementsand the Sierra Clubsbeginning.13

On July 31, Audubon Magazine published The Myth of John James Audubon, as part of an effort to chart a course toward racial equity.14 The author, Gregory Nobles, identified Audubon, from whom the National Audubon Society took its name, as a slaveholder.15 He noted that many people are unaware of this fact but that those who are aware tend to ignore and excuse the icon.16 Apologists claim that Audubon was a man of his timebut, as Nobles points out, not everyone owned slaves or favored slavery during Audubons lifetime; some opposed slavery vigorously.17 In a letter penned to his wife in 1834, a dismayed and frustrated Audubon complained that Britain had acted imprudently and precipitously in granting emancipation to West Indian slaves.18

On September 15, Save the Redwoods League (SRL), an organization with well-known eugenicists among its founders, also acknowledged its racist origins,19 with Sam Hodder, the organizations president and chief outdoors enthusiast, publishing Reckoning with the League Founders Eugenics Past.20 Hodder noted, As we elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion at the League, we must acknowledge our full history.21 He also stated, Our founders were leaders in the discriminatory and oppressive pseudoscience of eugenics in the early 20th centuryaround the very same time they dedicated themselves to protecting the redwood forest.22 Hodder also discussed the white supremacist and eugenicist ideas of Madison Grant, one of the Leagues cofounders.23

(Other SRL founders, Charles Goethe, for one, were also prominent eugenicists. Goethe wrote prolifically about Blacks, Mexican-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and Jews in degrading terms.)24

Some organizations remain mum on the eugenics, white supremacy, racism, and discrimination in their history. The Boone and Crockett Club remains firmly tethered to its past, featuring, without acknowledgment or commentary, Theodore Roosevelt, Madison Grant, and Gifford Pinchotinfluential political figures, white supremacists, and eugenicistson its website.25(Other well-known eugenicists, such as Henry Fairfield Osborn, were also members of the Boone and Crockett Club.)26 And the American Bison Society, which numbered eugenicists and white supremacists like Madison Grant and Theodore Roosevelt among its founders and members, has also remained silent.27

The ethos of these founding clubs, leagues, and societies spilled over into early nineteenth century outdoor recreation and environmental organizations. As a result of the fields root culture, environmental advocates founded and organized institutions on exclusionary principles that resulted in cloistered, gendered, and racially homogenous organizations for the better part of two centuries.

Early on, only wealthy white males could join or participate in these institutions. At the end of the nineteenth century, rich white women pried open the doors to join the membership and leadership of environmental nonprofits. However, the participation of elite white women in environmental nonprofits did little or nothing to stem the flow of sexist, classist, racist, and eugenicist ideas that shaped the founding of some of the early environmental organizations.28

The white working class, who often worked as servants, guides, and porters, were barred from membership. By the early twentieth century, working-class whites objected to their lack of input into environmental affairs and the inequitable policies . . . [and] created their own outdoor organizations.29 These outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists owned slaves and hired free people of color . . . [as] servants, guides, porters, cooks, and launderers.30 Though men and women of color began joining segregated outdoor clubs in the early 1900s, they were not allowed to participate fully in many environmental organizations until the latter part of the twentieth century.31

In 1981, historian Stephen Fox noted, Few questioned the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the environmental sector until the 1960s, when academics and activists pointed to the overwhelming whiteness of the environmental movement and its workforce.32 In the face of this criticism, environmental leaders argued that increasing the racial diversity of their staff, boards, and/or membership was incompatible with their environmental mission.

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The idea of enhancing racial diversity also caused conflict within some organizations. For example, although David Brower, the Sierra Clubs first executive director, declared in 1959 that membership was open to people of the four recognized colors, the matter was far from settled for some time after.33 Some Sierra Club members viewed Black members with skepticism, describing them as trying to push themselves into the club and not having any interest in the conservation goals of the club, and even that Blacks were trying to infiltrate.34 The question of their participation in the organization resulted in many complaints, screaming matches, reports of intimidation, and a proposal for a loyalty oath to the American Way of Life.35

The result? Japanese American George Shinno and his son Jon were admitted to the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club in the 1950s.36 And, although members who feared Blacks strategized to keep them out of the chapter in 1958, a Black schoolteacher, Elizabeth Porter, was admitted to the Angeles Chapter in 1959; the Angeles Chapter later admitted two other Black members, Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey, in 1959 or 1960.37

The debate over Black participation in the Sierra Club lasted into the 1970s.38 An attorney and former director of the club, Bestor Robinson, summed up the struggle by saying this is not an integration club; this is a conservation club.39Many club members shared Robinsons perspective that conservation was separate from social justice issues, that racial inclusion was a social justice or civil rights issue, and that it did not belong in the Sierra Club. Because club members did not see any connections between social justice and the environment, they did not believe that increasing racial diversity in the organization was an initiative the institution should undertake. Club members voted against resolutions to admit people of color into the organizations membership.40 In 1971, as it struggled to make connections between race and environment, the Sierra Club polled its members and asked if the club should concern itself with the conservation problems of such special groups as the urban poor and ethnic minorities. Forty percent of the members were opposed to the organization getting involved in such issues; only 15 percent were supportive of engaging in matters concerning people of color and economically disadvantaged people.41

Instead of building racially diverse organizations, environmental leaders, thinkers, and social critics searched for explanations to help justify the lack of diversity in environmental nonprofits. For example, Fox wrote in 1981 that Blacks scorned conservation as an elitist diversion from the more pressing tasks at hand.42 The idea that Blacks are averse to conservation and the environment is a popular and enduring misconception as well as a convenient excuse that is used to justify exclusion.

Given the above, it should come as no surprise that environmental nonprofits have had difficulty embracing and instituting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their mission and practices in the twenty-first century.

Retention of people of color in senior and executive positions is proving to be a challenge in a number of environmental organizations. Attention to the racist roots and practices of environmentalism over the past few years, however, is finally shining a spotlight on organizational leadership.

In June 2019, women employed at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) alleged that sexual harassment and wage discrimination were commonplace at the nonprofit, prompting the resignation of TNCs CEO Mark Tercek.43

Other diversity, equity, and inclusion issues were also a factor.44 (Employees of Conservation International had filed similar complaints back in 2018, as had a staff member of the National Wildlife Federation [NWF], who sued her former supervisor and NWF in 2010.)45

In May 2019, women birders, members, and staff at the National Audubon Society had also reported sexual harassment while birding or on the job.46 And, in November 2020, National Audubon Society staff claimed that organization leaders discriminated against employees and tried to intimidate them.47

In fall 2020, David Yarnold, then-CEO of the National Audubon Society, had published Revealing the Past to Create the Future in Audubon Magazine, in which he wrote, Over the last few months, weve committed

to making Audubon an antiracist institution.48 Yarnold noted, Audubons founding stories center on the groups of women who came together to end the slaughter of birds for their feathers (mostly for fancy hats), but we have glossed over the actions of the American icon whose name we bear, as well as the racist aspects of our organizations history.49

Yarnolds statement was written shortly after the departure of a top diversity and inclusion staff member, six months after the departure of the organizations diversity and inclusion vice president, due to a toxic environment of intimidation and coercion.50

Yarnold resigned, suddenly, in April 2021, amid widespread staff dissatisfaction regarding the organizations efforts to address diversity-related complaints.51Both Tercek and Yarnold had praised and vowed to support the Green 2.0 diversity and transparency campaign.52

***

These are clarion bells sounding the demise of white supremacy in environmentalism. We have entered a new era that goes beyond diversity, equity, and inclusion to justice and transformation. It is time to act to institute meaningful, deep-rooted change. Reckoning of the past and transparency moving forward is how we will identify and root out the systemic problems causing and perpetuating injustice.

Funding for this research was obtained from The JPB Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and The Nathan Cummings Foundation.

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Toppling the Monument to Silence: Racism and the Founding Fathers of Environmental Organizations - Non Profit News - Nonprofit Quarterly

Gal Gadot officially regrets the cursed Imagine video – i-D

When the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns first took over the world nearly two years ago it birthed a multitude of oddities, from awkward enforced weekly Zoom quizzes to gifting health workers non-refundable clapping from our front doorsteps. But while the majority of us became sourdough bread specialists, the most deranged reactions came from celebrities, who took to social media to accidentally advocate for eugenics (Vanessa Hudgens) or cry about a delay to their album release (Dua Lipa). But the prize for the most cringe post of the early pandemic era belongs to, of course, the Gal Gadot-led Imagine video.

Spearheaded by the Wonder Woman actress and Bridesmaids Kristen Wiig and featuring a smorgasbord of stars Jamie Dornan, Natalie Portman, Ashley Benson, Kaia Gerber, Cara Delevingne, Zo Kravitz those benevolent millionaires each hoped to cheer the world with an awkwardly-sung line of the John Lennon song from the comfort of their Selling Sunset-style homes. Naturally, the video was slammed across social media; now, almost 2 years later, Gal has finally admitted that the video might have been a mistake.

Speaking to InStyle, after recently parodying the video during her acceptance speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards, Gal said: I was calling Kristen [Wiig] and I was like, "Listen, I want to do this thing." The pandemic was in Europe and Israel before it came [to the US] in the same way. I was seeing where everything was headed. But [the video] was premature. It wasn't the right timing, and it wasn't the right thing. It was in poor taste. All pure intentions, but sometimes you don't hit the bull's-eye, right?

In truth, looking back since Gal posted it on Instagram in March 2020, the cursed video has only aged worse to the extent that, in a way, its almost swung back round to camp. In a little intro Gal sighs as if she hasnt seen another human soul in months, when in fact shes in day six of quarantine. She then says the past less-than-a-week-of-isolation has got her feeling philosophical. The deep mind-blowing philosophical realisation? The virus affects everyone. Between Sia over-singing the hell out of her two lines to Mark Ruffalos struggle to figure out his selfie camera angles, the video is essentially the equivalent of those 1 like = 1 prayer posts your aunt still shares on Facebook.

Though the intention behind the video may have been sincere, watching the ridiculously rich act like the pandemic had put us all in the exact same situation and that the only things they had to contribute were vibes and positive energy felt in pretty poor taste. Especially when other celebs, like our queen Britney, were offering struggling fans money. As i-D editor Risn Lanigan wrote at the time: Rather than rushing to push content into the world which doesnt actually help anyone, it might first be best to take some time and consider how your platform, and your millions of dollars of income, could be put to better use.

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Gal Gadot officially regrets the cursed Imagine video - i-D

What’s it like to ride Dunedin’s driverless shuttle? Futuristic and fun. – Tampa Bay Times

DUNEDIN You ever stop, scrunch your nose, and think: We live in the future?

We arent teleporting in bad face paint like the original Star Trek, but things arent that far off. We walk around with pocket computers and connect across the world. Dont get me started on cryptocurrency. I will say, Look, a fire, then run away to avoid explaining it.

Today, though, lets focus on driverless cars. Specifically, the AVA Shuttle, visiting Dunedin for three months. I hopped on Sunday, en route to see the Tampa Bay Rays play (dominate) the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was a short walk to TD Ballpark from downtown. But it was shorter to step onto this peach jelly bean and pretend to be Marty McFly. Also, it was free. Also, it was air-conditioned. Also, it was neato?

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is partnering with Beep, a private company from Orlando, to bring us AVA, or Autonomous Vehicle Advantage. Did you get that? Beep-boop-beep, the future! Driverless shuttle programs launched in Tampa and St. Petersburg last fall. The goal is to assess how the shuttles might become part of Tampa Bays transportation landscape.

My husband and I sidled up next to Kelly OConnell, who had gone to church on her golf cart and decided to see what the robot car was about. She also told us about a meatball sandwich deal at the VFW. Thanks, Kelly!

The cutest Miami Vice pod pulled up to the lot across from Casa Tina on Main Street. OConnell asked to take it round trip, just for fun. Of course, said our friendly copilot, Chris Rivera. We boarded with two additional baseball fans. That made five, the limit during COVID times. Normally, it can hold up to 15 sitting and standing.

The shuttle is fully electric and can ride for nine hours on a charge from a power plant. Its disability compliant. It uses sensors and GPS to spot and move around obstacles. How? Look, a fire!

Rivera made sure everyone was masked, smoothing the edges of the ride with a joystick as AVA learned the area.

A-ha. You, eagle-eyed reader, ask: Whats the difference between a copilot and, you know, a driver?

Well, people being what they are, a vehicle like this could never be unattended. Wed be writing an investigative series about autonomous shuttles surfacing in ponds.

Moreover, robotics are elaborate, and driverless tech has been rife with cost and complications. The New York Times reported Monday that the industry has taken longer than predicted to get up to speed. Self-driving cars from Uber and Tesla have had fatal accidents, and some companies have sold their autonomous units to firms with more money and time for research.

Having a human on board a driverless shuttle is a good thing. But the AVA does work. We witnessed it.

As we approached at a slow clip, a crush of people hung out close to Douglas Avenue, selling parking and scalping tickets. Then, a guy wandered into the street hawking beads, oblivious to the adorable coral pod bearing down on him.

The thing stopped! It saw something with its robot eyes and did not flatten the man! It was like Captain Kirk coolly threatening to destroy the USS Enterprise, knowing it would never happen.

This was a moment for Rivera to point out the tech, and for everyone on board to nod aggressively. Surely there are kinks, but its exciting to see programs like this. It could alleviate traffic in busy areas, and provide access where buses and trolleys dont reach. Exploring innovative options is better than packing more gas-guzzlers onto fatter highways.

We hopped off the salmon spore to go to the game, and it left. OConnell waved at us from the back window, boldly going where no pod has... you get it.

AVA will stop along Main Street, Broadway Avenue, Scotland Street, Douglas Avenue, Wood Street and Highland Avenue in Dunedin through August, 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Masks required, capacity limited. Find a map at psta.net/programs/ava.

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What's it like to ride Dunedin's driverless shuttle? Futuristic and fun. - Tampa Bay Times

Futuristic Autonomous Buses Will Soon Roam the Streets of Cambridge, UK – The Drive

Self-driving cars may still be a ways off, if they get here at all. Less often discussed are larger vehicles, like self-driving buses. The potential improvements this technology could bring to public transport is significantround the clock services would no longer require drivers to stay up all night, for example, and many more vehicles could be deployed without requiring an equal growth in staff numbers. The town of Cambridge in the United Kingdom is charging towards that future, implementing a futuristic self-driving fleet to ferry its citizens around, reports the BBC.

The town will be fielding three Aurrigo Auto-Shuttles, each capable of carrying ten passengers at a time. The small buses feature a 22kW electric motor paired with a 47kWh battery, providing a range of around 100 miles between charges. The vehicles travel at 20 mph, and will operate on a roughly 2 mile loop between the West Cambridge University campus, the nearby Institute of Astronomy, and a local park-and-ride bus station. The vehicles were developed in collaboration between Aurrigo and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, a group consisting of local councils and the University of Cambridge working to deliver projects in the area. The self-driving bus market won't be theirs alone howeverplayers like Mercedes and Proterra have been working away for years now.

"These shuttles can be used on demand all day and night, every day of the year," stated Claire Ruskin, GCP boardmember, "which is unaffordable with our existing public transport." While the autonomous vehicles are intended to operate without human intervention, a safety operator will be on board while the vehicles are in use during the trial. This precludes the benefits of driver-free round-the-clock operation, however if the vehicles prove successful, such measures may be rescinded down the track.

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Futuristic Autonomous Buses Will Soon Roam the Streets of Cambridge, UK - The Drive

Breathe In the Lucid Air’s Futuristic, Big-Screen Infotainment System – Motor Trend

Lucid is poised to take on Teslahead-on in a way few other EV automakers have. The company's first car, the upcoming Lucid Air, promises blistering performance, impressive range figures, and now, it looks like the in-car UX is up to par, too. Thanks to a recent release from Lucid (accompanied by a video that looks like it's straight out of another Silicon Valley tech company's studio, included below), we finally have a close-up look at just how Lucid plans to match the wow factor of Tesla's massive center touchscreen.

The company is calling the infotainment system Lucid UX, and it's made up of two displays. You can watch all of the functionality described in the video above, but here's our rundown:

The primary screen is a curved 34-inch display in front of the driver that's divided up into three distinct sections. The leftmost third of the main display is on at all times and contains essential functions like central locking, locking the charge door, and controls for the exterior lighting.

Speed, range, the odometer, and other key information about the car itself are displayed in the middle portion of the screen. To the right rests a sort of home screenit contains the Air's infotainment setup and consists of a main menu that leads the driver to the home screen, navigation, media information, and plenty of other functions.

Moving down, there rests a tablet-like display that Lucid calls the "Pilot Panel" lower on the dashboard. The display houses other functions like the HVAC controls, the car's drive modes, and seat positioningas well as the rest of the car's key functions. The panel is also motorized and can slip up and into the dash, revealing a storage area in the center console.

All in all, the content looks clean, easy to navigate, and totally unique to Lucid. They're also backed up by physical controls on the steering wheel Amazon Alexa integration, which we can't wait to try for ourselves. But, as excited as we are by the slick dash and sweet-looking UX, what we really want to know is what the Air is like to drive, and if it can really go 500 miles on a single chargeit came close during a ride-along we attended with Lucid last year. Stay tuned, people.

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Breathe In the Lucid Air's Futuristic, Big-Screen Infotainment System - Motor Trend

GEs designs controls for offshore wind turbines to ride the waves – The Verge

GE shared some new details today of a concept that might advance the development of futuristic floating wind farms. Floating turbines are engineering marvels or nightmares, depending on how you see it that could make massive swathes of deep ocean available to offshore wind development.

While they hold a lot of potential, the floating behemoths have so far been too costly to deploy at commercial scale. And because theyre floating, they also face a barrage of technical challenges that turbines fixed to the seabed dont have to weather. GE hopes to solve some of those problems through advanced turbine controls that its developing alongside consulting firm Glosten. Theyre pairing this with their largest turbine model, which is nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument combined.

GE received a $3 million award from the US Department of Energy to support the two-year project, which started last year. If the company can prove, through modeling and simulations, that its design will work, then it might move forward with its partners on the project to build a prototype. Today, theyre revealing some details of their design during an Energy Innovation Summit hosted by the DOE.

Designing a turbine that can float gracefully on the water is like putting a bus on a tall pole, making it float and then stabilizing it while it interacts with wind and waves, according to Rogier Blom, GEs principal investigator for the project.

The turbines themselves are essentially the same as other turbines fixed to the seafloor. The big differences are the design of the platform holding it up and the controls used to maneuver them on rough open ocean. GE is working to couple the design of an existing 12MW turbine and platform with automated controls so that they can work together in a more streamlined way. The controls, built-in sensors and computers, improve how the turbine responds to wind and waves.

If these controls are successful, the floating turbine could automatically adjust itself to catch strong gales without tipping over. That would ultimately maximize their power output, making them more profitable. Floating turbines without more advanced controls need to be bulkier so that they can stand up to surf. But with a smarter design, GE aims to reduce the platforms mass by more than a third compared to other designs for floating turbines which would ultimately cut down on costs.

GE is using a so-called tension-leg platform thats anchored to the seabed with adjustable tendons. Its new technology would be able to sense gusts of wind and swells in the ocean and, in real time, adjust the length of the tendons accordingly so that the platform can smoothly ride the waves. Blom describes the process as see, think, do. The control systems sensors, for example, detect a change in wind speed, determine how that change affects the turbine, and then make adjustments to respond.

Tension-leg platforms are innovative and one of the most stable platform designs, according to Walt Musial, a principal engineer who leads offshore wind research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). But its also very difficult to install, and a prototype hasnt even been demonstrated yet with a full-scale offshore wind turbine on top (although similar technology has been used for offshore oil production), according to Musial. Then again, everything about floating wind farms is still pretty novel. There are only a handful of floating wind turbines operating in the world and no commercial-scale wind farms.

That could soon change. Musial forecasts the first commercial-scale project to come online, probably in Asia, in just a few years. Developing advanced controls, as GE is attempting, plays a big role in making that happen, he says.

We are excited about this project because this could be a common enabling technology to tap into [a majority] of offshore wind resources, says Blom. Offshore wind designs are currently limited to waters shallower than 60 meters deep. That puts 60 percent of US offshore wind resources out of reach of fixed offshore turbines. But those resources could be developed with floating farms, according to NREL.

There are other advantages to floating wind farms. They can move far away enough from shore to potentially satisfy coastal residents concerned about how turbines might affect fishing, birds, or seaside views. They also dont disturb the seabed except for anchors used to moor the platform. That solves yet another problem thats stymied offshore wind development: a shortage of specialized ships needed to install turbine foundations.

Theres been skepticism in the past about whether floating turbines can develop fast enough and bring costs down to a point where they can really take off. Theyre also competing with their seafloor-fixed counterparts that are quickly advancing into deeper and deeper waters.

We shouldnt underestimate the creativity of the fixed offshore wind industry, because they are also pushing the boundary, says Po Wen Cheng, head of wind energy at the University of Stuttgarts Institute of Aircraft Design. When he started in offshore wind research some 20 years ago, people didnt think traditional turbines could be installed in waters deeper than 20 meters. Theyve since smashed that limit. But in a race to develop enough renewable energy to stave off the climate crisis, there may be enough room yet for both floating and fixed designs to take to the seas.

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GEs designs controls for offshore wind turbines to ride the waves - The Verge

BlueRock and Senti Collaborate to Build Smarter, Disease-Fighting Cell Therapies – BioSpace

Determined to take its next-generation engineered cell therapies to the next level, BlueRock Therapeuticsis teaming up withSenti Biosciences with futuristic medicines in mind.

BlueRockhas proved its merit with a therapy for Parkinsons disease with preclinical data demonstrating the ability to restore motor function and increase dopamine release over time. APhase I trial.for the drug started in Canada last month.

Using BlueRocks cell+gene platform to create universal pluripotent stem cells, Senti will step in to design, build and test Smart Sensors and Regulator Dials in BlueRocks regenerative medicine candidates. The addition of Sentis gene circuits will precisely control cell differentiation and therapeutic payload expression.

There is a tremendous opportunity at the intersection of cell, gene and systems biology. With control of all three axes, we believe we can further engineer the cells inherent potential to integrate multiple physiologic inputs to produce powerful therapeutic benefit in vivo, said Emile Nuwaysir, CEO of BlueRock.

Sentifounder Tim Lu compared the companys gene circuit tech to that of a Roomba vacuum in aTedMed talk. While the Roomba can constantly calculate where its been, where it needs to go next, and where the mess is to clean your home effectively, Senti is building cells that can compute information to do the same. Therapies of the future would enter the body inactive, go to the area of the body where needed and switch on to affect only the cells required to treat the disease.

Lus company has demonstrated how this can work in cancer cells. Through an "and" logic gate, the cancer therapy is designed to only attack when it senses two cancer signatures, over just one, ensuring it kills cancer cells and not healthy cells. The program then kills the cancer cell directly and recruits the rest of the immune system into the battle to reduce the ability of tumor cells to escape.

This latest team up with BlueRock would not only program cells that would only activate in the presence of a particular set of indicators but also come with fine tuning. After the therapy has already entered the body, doctors could introduce an alreadyFDA-approved small molecule drug to increase or decrease the delivered therapeutic payload. Most current cell and gene therapies cannot be adjusted once a patient has received them.

While the companies chose not to disclose the target of their programs at what is a very early stage of the collaboration, the main areas of focus, according to BlueRock, are neurology, immunology and cardiology.

Lu commented, We are engineering gene circuits to reprogram cells with biological logic to sense inputs, compute decisions and respond to their cellular environments. By combining BlueRocks iPSC platform with our sophisticated gene circuits, we believe that we have the potential to create the next generation of programmable regenerative medicines together.

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BlueRock and Senti Collaborate to Build Smarter, Disease-Fighting Cell Therapies - BioSpace

13 bold and futuristic developments which will change Edinburgh’s skyline – if planning permission is granted – Edinburgh News

Despite the inevitable delays caused by the pandemic, building projects and developments have continued to change Edinburgh over the last year.

Meanwhile other green-lit projects have been earmarked for completion over the coming months and years, from a 1,000-seated concert hall in the Old Town to hundreds of new homes being created in Fountainbridge.

But what are the buildings that will be making the news in the longer term?

The website http://www.skyscrapercity.com lists many developments yet to receive full planning approval here are 13 of the most eye-popping.

Currently in pre-planning, this huge 1.3billion plan would transform 120 acres of Granton, adding 3,312 homes, a primary school, a healthcare facility, 9,065m of commercial and retail space, and a coastal park. If all goes well it will be completed in 2037.

Photo: Collective Architecture, Studio for New Realities, ADP Architecture, Cooper Cromar

Elements Edinburgh is a developent that will build 2,500 homes on 65 acres of land in Ingliston, along with 95,000m of office space, three hotels with a total of 891 rooms, a 131 room aparthotel, 8,200m of retail and leisure space, and a new Edinburgh Airport access road. It's currently in the planning phase.

Photo: Corstorphine + Wright

Currently in the pre-planning phase, the 80 million Edinburgh Innovation Park, in Mullselburgh, would develop a 50 acre area to create a National Food & Drink Enterprise Centre,and Innovation Centre for food and drink sector SMEs, a hotel, offices and shops.

Photo: 10 Design

Currently on hold, the Quaich Project would see a 25million multi-function performance pavilion built in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, including indoor and outdoor performance and events venues, and a garden reception building with visitor centre, viewing gallery and cafe.

Photo: wHY, GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects

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13 bold and futuristic developments which will change Edinburgh's skyline - if planning permission is granted - Edinburgh News

Reading Thelin’s ‘A History of American Higher Education’ as an Amateur Futurist | Learning Innovation – Inside Higher Ed

A History of American Higher Education by John R. Thelin

Published in April 2019 (third edition)

Why is most thinking about higher education's future mostly mediocre?

Lots of reasons. Uncritical acceptance of applying (mostly discredited) business theories to academia. (Hello, disruptive innovation.) An inability to see beyond one's privileges. Anchoring on the belief that nothing ever changes in higher education. An unshakable faith that the market is either the answer to all of higher education's challenges or the root of all its problems.

However, the most profound cause of middling thinking about the future (or futures) of higher education is too little knowledge about higher education's past. Knowing the contours and causes of prior changes in academia is likely necessary, if not sufficient, for saying smart things about what will come next.

This brings us to Thelin's A History of American Higher Education. The third edition came out in 2019, bringing the story more or less up to the present. (Before COVID maybe changed everything).

Thelin should probably be required reading for anyone who wants to offer any utterance, no matter how small, about where higher ed might be going. Would it be unrealistic to ask Educause, UPCEA, OLI, ASU+GSV, WCET, ACE, AAC&U, FETC, ELI, AAU, CHEA, NAICU, AAUP and all the rest to send copies of A History American Higher Education to all their members?

Reading the Thelin book (as it always seems to be called), I was struck by a couple of things. First, it is interesting to me (as someone who works at a center for teaching and learning) how little a role teaching and learning plays in this history of higher education. Zimmerman's The Amateur Hour is an essential companion to Thelin.

Online education's growth gets some space in Thelin's history, but not all that much. There is some stuff on the role that for-profits played in the online learning story, and nonprofit distance learning and MOOCs make an appearance in the newest chapter on the 2010-2018 period. But Thelin covers very little about the impact of the development of CTLs, or the role that nonfaculty educators play in the instructional enterprise.

Nor does the history of educational technologies -- academic or administrative -- figure much into A History of American Higher Education. A historical and holistic account of the introduction and impact of technologies into the university has not been written yet (to my knowledge), a volume that may also make an attractive companion (and perhaps balance) to Thelin.

Despite what I see as shortcomings (not enough about teaching and learning, not enough about online education and nonfaculty educators, not enough about technology), it is undeniable that A History of American Higher Education represents a singular contribution. Thelin has given us a deeply researched and highly readable single-volume account of U.S. higher education, from 1636 (the year of Harvard's founding) to (almost) today.

The collective time spent on almost any higher ed conference, gathering or convening about the future of higher education would probably be better spent by everyone reading Thelin. However, the reality is that the communities of those who study higher ed's past and those who talk about higher ed's future seldom seem to converge. Why is this?

Part of the reason may be a mismatch between academic disciplines and professional organizations. Academics tend not to go to higher ed professional meetings, and higher ed professionals (nonfaculty) don't usually attend academic conferences on the history of higher education. Perhaps we should swap conferences?

There is so much to learn, so much to know, about the history of higher education. The task is daunting. A History of American Higher Education is the best place to start.

What are you reading?

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IBM Algorithm Can Tell Who’s Going to Get Alzheimer’s by Reading Their Writing – Futurism

Image by Natasha Connell via Unsplash / Futurism

A new artificial intelligence algorithm built by IBM may be able to help doctors diagnose or predict the onset of Alzheimers disease years before symptoms emerge.

And all it takes, The New York Times reports, is for subjects to tell that algorithm a story. By comparing writing samples from study participants over the years, the algorithm was able to predict the onset of Alzheimers disease years in advance with 75 percent accuracy potentially giving doctors a new tool for spotting Alzheimers and other serious neurodegenerative conditions before they would have otherwise.

The algorithm looks at data from a neurological study with 270 participants who were asked to, among other things, vividly describe what was happening in a simple image several times over the course of years, according to research published in the journal The Lancet. Based just on those samples, the algorithm learned to identify patterns like increasingly-repetitive language, typos, or missing words as signs of neurodegenerative disease.

This is the first report I have seen that took people who are completely normal and predicted with some accuracy who would have problems years later, Dr. Michael Weiner, an Alzheimers disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco who didnt work on the study, told the NYT.

Now that its been tested on Alzheimers, the IBM team plans to move on and test the algorithm against other neurological conditions, according to the NYT.

What is going on here is very clever, University of Pennsylvania Alzheimers research Dr. Jason Karlawish, who also didnt work on the study, told the NYT. Given a large volume of spoken or written speech, can you tease out a signal?

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IBM Algorithm Can Tell Who's Going to Get Alzheimer's by Reading Their Writing - Futurism

This Apple Car showcases a futuristic automotive revolution that makes the Tesla Cybertruck look old-school! – Yanko Design

Apple car has been the hot topic for motorheads and tech enthusiasts alike for quite some time now. Now the ideation finally seems to be heading towards fruition as Apple has officially announced plans to collaborate with Hyundai-Kia to manufacture Apple electric vehicles. The deal is almost final as Apple plans to manufacture the car at the Kia assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. Presumably, the self-driving EV will be called Apple Car and slated for a 2024 production initiation. After years of speculation and pop-up rumors, this is some substantial news for Apple fanatics who want the ecosystem of Apple products to extend to the automotive realms.

The direct competitor for the Apple Car is obviously going to be Tesla whos got a strong foothold in the self-driving electric car market. According to some sources, the Apple Car will not have any drivers seat or even driving controls which could be a bummer for motorheads who love the feel of controlling their machine. What the Apple Car will look like is anybodys guess but to give a close idea of what it may be like, Ali Cams Apple Car 2076 is a good reference point to take home some inspiration. Adopting Apples sharp design aesthetics, the car looks like a mouse shaped like a car at first glance, but then you realize its actually a minimal car concept. Loaded with advanced driving systems Ali envisions the blueprint far in the distant future the year 2076 to be precise. The choice of year apparently is the 100the anniversary of Apple ever since it was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne.

On the inside, the Apple Car is more like a luxury lounge with infotainment displays all around (even on the doors), gesture controlled-entertainment systems, and the holographic display traverses the riders into a completely different reality. You would not expect the car to have a driver seat in the year 2076 which coincides with the vision for the Apple Car just announced. So, the Cupertino giant can take some healthy inspiration from Alis design. Access to the cabin is via touch ID sensors and presumably, Apple ID is going to be used here. The gull-winged doors give the car a very futuristic appeal, ready to take its passengers for a smooth ride actuated by the magnetic levitation technology. Yes, the one you see on maglev trains.

Although the final Apple Car will be electric powered and the maglev dream is a bit far-fetched for now, this concept by Ali Cam that could rival the edgy Tesla Cybertruck design refreshes things up in anticipation of the Apple Car thats slated to come sometime in 2024 or 2025. And of course, the real one is going to have wheels, so you can muster up the design with wheels on this one. Things are seeming exciting already, arent they?

Designer: Ali Cam

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This Apple Car showcases a futuristic automotive revolution that makes the Tesla Cybertruck look old-school! - Yanko Design

The Universe May Have a Fifth Dimension, According to New Research – Futurism

A fifth dimension could finally explain the mysteries of dark matter.5D Everything

A team of German and Spanish scientists says theyve found a natural explanation for dark matter and other unresolved scientific mysteries but their work depends on the existence of a new theoretical subatomic particle and an entire fifth dimension of the universe.

The new particle, a yet-undiscovered type of fermion, would be able to traverse this new dimension and bind dark matter to the luminous matter that makes up everything in the universe we can see or touch, Motherboard reports, in a way that doesnt contradict any of the other models we have on how dark matter behaves. Its seems a bit far-fetched physicists creating new rules for the universe in order to explain their own theory but if it pans out, it could vastly improve our understanding of the cosmos.

The scientists explained to Motherboard that this new particle would likely be similar to and interact with the Higgs Boson, but that it would be too heavy to detect with the current generation of particle accelerators and colliders.

But assuming the particle and the fifth dimension it navigates both exist, it represents a unique window into dark matter, according to the teams paper, published in The European Physical Journal C last month.

If this heavy particle exists, it would necessarily connect the visible matter that we know and that we have studied in detail with the constituents of the dark matter, assuming that dark matter is composed out of fundamental fermions, which live in the extra dimension, a member of the team told Motherboard.

In lieu of a tangible way to prove that this mysterious particle or the fifth dimension exists, the researchers told Motherboard they hope that other scientists keep their model in mind as they continue to study particle physics and cosmology.

This could also eventually lead to an interesting cosmological history of the universe and might lead to the production of gravitational waves, the team told Motherboard. This is an interesting line of research, which we plan to follow in the months ahead.

READ MORE: Scientists Have Proposed a New Particle That Is a Portal to a 5th Dimension [Motherboard]

More on dark matter: Astronomers Find Over 1,200 Dark Matter Hot Spots

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The Universe May Have a Fifth Dimension, According to New Research - Futurism

Theater to Stream: Shakespeare Villains and Hot-Tub Dreams – The New York Times

Dinner with Gertrude and Lillian

Caryl Churchills Top Girls engineered a meeting between female historical figures. Little Wars, Steven Carl McCaslands new play, also sticks with literary heroines. When a dinner party includes Lillian Hellman (Juliet Stevenson) and Gertrude Stein (Linda Bassett, wondrous in Escaped Alone at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), the conversation could get interesting. Through Feb. 14; broadwayondemand.com

L.A. Theater Works specializes in audio theater with startlingly good casts, and its impressive catalog keeps growing. The latest offering is Hannie Raysons eco-minded Extinction, with a cast that includes Sarah Drew and Joanne Whalley. Hankering for the days of before? Check out the last two productions Theater Works recorded in front of a live audience, early last year: a commissioned adaptation of Frankenstein by Kate McAll, starring Stacy Keach as the creature; and Qui Nguyens semi-autobiographical Vietgone, inspired by his Vietnamese refugee parents, and directed by Tim Dang. latw.org

Theater or something companies are calling theater by mail is alive and well. Ars Novas P.S. project has been going on since November; the second season of the Artistic Stamp companys epistolary project is underway, with a third beginning soon; and next month, Arena Stage is starting Ken Ludwigs Dear Jack, Dear Louise: Love Letter Experience.

The most ambitious initiative yet may well be Post Theatrical, which encompasses 13 mail-based theatrical experiences from companies in the United States, Lebanon and Hong Kong. Through June 30; posttheatrical.org

Remember Yorick, the jester whose skull plays a big part in Hamlet? He takes center stage in Francisco Reyess solo with puppets Yorick, la Historia de Hamlet/Yorick, the Story of Hamlet, presented by the Los Angeles contempory-arts center Redcat. American audiences may know Reyes from his role as Orlando in the Chilean movie A Fantastic Woman. In English with Spanish subtitles. Feb. 12-14; redcat.org

If youre wondering about the back story to the French song in that Allstate commercial, its Non, je ne regrette rien, made famous by Edith Piaf. And if you missed the biopic La Vie en Rose, head over to Raquel Brittons docu-concert Piaf Her Story Her Songs, brought to us by Broadways Best Shows and the Actors Fund. Feb. 15-18; actorsfund.org

For tunes in English, turn to Theater Forward, an organization that supports regional theater, which will offer performances by Jason Robert Brown, Kate Baldwin, George Salazar, Anika Noni Rose, Shaina Taub, Branden Noel Thomas, Taylor Iman Jones and the Bengsons for its annual benefit. Feb. 8; theatreforward.org

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Theater to Stream: Shakespeare Villains and Hot-Tub Dreams - The New York Times

It’s Official: Biden Admin Fully Supports the Artemis Moon Program – Futurism

"Certainly, we support this effort and endeavor."To the Moon

Senate Democrats and the White House have reiterated their support for NASAs Artemis program, which has the goal of returning the first human astronauts to the surface of the Moon as soon as 2024.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said during a conference today that the government will work with industry leaders to send another man and a woman to the Moon, which is very exciting. Psakis also called the Moon a waypoint to Mars.

Certainly, we support this effort and endeavor, she added.

In a Wednesday letter signed by 11 Democratic senators, lawmakers urged the Biden administration to fully fund the human landing system initiative.

Developing the next generation crewed lunar lander is an essential step in returning astronauts to the Moon for the first time in half a century, including the historic milestone of landing the first woman on the Moon, reads the letter.

The senators also urged NASA to proceed with the planned selection and to include all necessary funding for [the Human Landing System] in your FY 2022 budget request.

Overall, significant budget constraints have put a squeeze on the space agencys efforts to develop a human landing system capable of lowering astronauts to the Moons surface, as Ars Technica reports.

That tracks with what the new head of NASA, Steve Jurczyk, told Futurism earlier this week: that without full funding for the human landing system, a 2024 Moon landing will be logistically challenging.

READ MORE: Senate Democrats send a strong signal of support for Artemis Moon program [Ars Technica]

More on Artemis: NASA Boss: We Have Every Indication That Artemis Is Safe Under Biden

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It's Official: Biden Admin Fully Supports the Artemis Moon Program - Futurism

NASA Boss: We Have "Every Indication" That Artemis Is Safe Under Biden – Futurism

"Every indication we have so far, in week two of the new administration, is that Artemis will not be abandoned."Forging Ahead

Even though its under new leadership and commanded by a new presidential administration, NASA is still pushing ahead to launch and complete the Artemis missions to the Moon.

The series of missions, which include plans to send the next man and the first woman to the surface of the Moon and to establish a base of operations on the lunar surface, were set forth under the Trump administration, alongside extremely ambitious deadlines. But in an interview with Futurism, acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that NASA is still pushing ahead despite the change in leadership, and he doesnt expect to be told otherwise.

Every indication we have so far, in week two of the new administration, is that Artemis will not be abandoned, Jurczyk told Futurism.

But no matter how much NASA wants to meet the timelines, financial reality may get in the way. Jurczyk told Futurism that NASA was only granted $850 million for the human landing system in its 2021 budget about a quarter of the $3.2 billionthe agency asked for which might force it to push later Artemis missions back.

Mostly driven by budget and not necessarily by policy, Jurczyk said, were looking at the timeline for the Artemis III mission and that might affect the Artemis IV mission.

That said, Jurczyk said he still plans to launch Artemis I an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System in November of this year.

But even if individual missions within the Artemis program get pushed back, Jurczyk maintains that the program will still be invaluable as a testing ground and development environment for bigger and better things specifically reaching Mars.

And because of that, he feels that the Artemis missions and other human space travel initiatives will be safe and valued during the current and future presidential administrations.

I think using the International Space Station, using missions around and on the surface of the Moon, with the ultimate goal being Mars, is still the strategic direction for human exploration, Jurczyk said.

Read the rest of the Q&A: We Interviewed the New Head of NASA About SpaceX, China, and Aliens

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NASA Boss: We Have "Every Indication" That Artemis Is Safe Under Biden - Futurism

Avi Loeb and the Great Unknown – Futurism

It was an otherwise non-notable day in October 2017 when Canadian astronomer Robert Weryk made an astonishing discovery.

Thanks to data from the University of Hawaiis Pan-STARRS1 telescope at the Kaleakala Observatory in Hawaii, Weryk spotted an unusual object, oblong and approximately the size of a football field, screaming through the solar system at 196,000 miles per hour. Strangest of all was that it seemed to be accelerating slightly, pushed by an invisible force that has yet to be fully explained.

Its highly unusual trajectory caused it to slingshot past our Sun, leading scientists to believe that the space object later dubbed Oumuamua, or scout in Hawaiian was the first ever visitor from outside our solar system to be observed directly.

Over the last three years, countless attempts have been made to explain Oumuamuas unprecedented characteristics. Some speculated that it was hydrogen iceberg, while others suggested it was a traveling space rock covered in a layer of organic sunscreen.

To Avi Loeb, astrophysicist and professor of science at Harvard University, the answer could be a tantalizing one. His controversial argument is that Oumuamua may have been a probe sent by an extraterrestrial civilization an explanation thats garnered enormous attention in the media and, unsurprisingly, proved divisive among experts.

In his new book, titled Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Loeb explores his provocative hypothesis, using the story of Oumuamua to lay the groundwork of a much greater conversation: the struggle to be taken seriously within a scientific community that has historically held the search for extraterrestrial intelligence at arms length.

During an interview with Futurism, Loeb argued that scientists explanations fell short of explaining Oumuamuas many quirks and eccentricities. The scientific community advocated for something that we have never seen before, he said.

One example of this was what Loeb referred to as the dust bunny hypothesis, which theorized that Oumuamuas odd trajectory could be explained by a very low density.

The problem with that is I dont think something of the size of a football field that is a dust bunny would survive a journey of millions of years through interstellar space, Loeb said, vacuuming up that hypothesis. I mean, I just dont think that it can hold itself together.

To Loeb, scientific explanations that attempted to squeeze Oumuamua into an existing scientific framework just didnt make sense.

The point is, you cant on the one hand say its natural, Loeb argued, and then whenever you try to actually explain it with natural processes, you come up with something that we have never seen before.

And thats how he ended up at aliens.

At the root of Loebs alien theory is that Oumuamua may have been a solar sail sent to us from another star system.

In the simplest terms, a solar or light sail is a form of spacecraft propulsion that turns the low pressure of solar radiation into movement. Earthling scientists have already experimented with the concept; in 2019, the non-profit Planetary Societylaunched a craft called LightSail-2,which uses 340 square feet of an extremely thin layer of reflective polyester film to gradually propel itself.

To Loeb, a solar sail being pushed by starlight could explain Oumuamuas unexpected acceleration. If its solid and isnt a dust bunny, the astrophysicist concluded that the interstellar visitor must also be shockingly thin perhaps, according to his calculations, less than a millimeter thick.

To the astronomer, the solar sail conclusion was following footsteps, just like detective Sherlock Holmes. When you rule out all other possibilities, whatever youre left with must be the truth.

That conclusion is a stretch to many astronomers in the field, who have repeatedly challenged Loebs conclusion.

In a 2019 study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, an international team of researchers argued that they found no compelling evidence to favor an alien explanation for Oumuamua.

Oumuamuas properties are consistent with a natural origin, University of Maryland astronomer Matthew Knight, co-author of the study, toldReuters at the time, and an alien explanation is unwarranted.

Their argument was that Oumuamua is a planetesimal, or a small fragment of a planetary building block that just happened to drift through our star system.

Weryk,who discovered the object in the first place, had no kind words for Loebs hypothesis. Honestly, thats a bit of wild speculation, he told the CBC in 2018.

I think its a remnant from another solar system, Weryk added. Its just something that happened to run into us, and we were very lucky to have been operating the telescope that night and looking in that direction.

These rebuttals appear to have only emboldened Loebs investigations into the alien origins of Oumuamua as well as leading him to make a passionate plea to the scientific community, as outlined in his book, to take SETI research seriously.

To Loeb, its all about reading the stars with an open mind.

My guiding principle is modesty, he told Futurism. If we are not arrogant, if we are modest, we would say that life, the way we have it, must be common.

We now know from the Kepler satellite data that about half of the Sun-like stars have a planet like the Earth, roughly at the same distance, so that it can have liquid water and the chemistry of life as we know it, Loeb said, referring to the habitable zone of a star system within which life can theoretically could be supported.

So we know that the dice was rolled billions of times in the galaxy, he said. And if you arrange for similar circumstances like we have on Earth, you would get a similar outcome.

To Loeb, this simple calculation is conservative, not speculative, and that it should be the mainstream view. But proposing that we are not alone in the universe is seen as a fringe view and the mainstream claims there should be a taboo.

The scientific community can address a topic even if other people address it in a way that is not scientific and doesnt make much sense, Loeb argued.

So my point is the existence of the literature on science fiction or the existence of unsubstantiated UFO reports should not eliminate this subject from being part of the mainstream discussion, he added.

In fact, Loeb contended that it is less speculative than other areas of study, from the study of dark matter to multiverse and string theories.

All of these hypothetical concept for which we have no basis, he said. And you have communities of hundreds of scientists working on giving each other awards and honors and so forth, he added in a slightly derisive tone.

To him, the refusal to believe we are not alone in the universe is a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies.

When you put blinders on, youre not searching for anyone else, you might think that youre special, he said.

The only way to break that taboo, to break that state of mind, is to find evidence for others, Loeb argued. But, if you dont search, you will never find it, closing the cycle.

Worst of all, a lack of funding for SETI research only ends up deterring young people from entering this field, Loeb said.

So the search for life beyond the Earth must go on and Loeb has plenty of ideas on how to do so.

Arguably the most ambitious plan hes involved with, a project called Breakthrough Starshot, is a proof-of-concept interstellar probe project by Breakthrough Initiativesthat involves sending an army of small light sails called Starchips as far as Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own at just over four light years away.

TheCentauri system contains a promising planetary candidate called Proxima b, a tantalizingly Earth-like planet.

Four light year may not sound like much on paper, but the distances that the sails would have to cover are immense. Rather than harnessing the solar radiation from the Sun, the project is investigating if we can shoot an extremely powerful laser at these spacecraft from here on Earth to provide enough acceleration.

Its an endeavor that involves near-insurmountable hurdles. In fact, Loeb isnt sure if the Starshot project will materialize in his lifetime and Breakthrough Initiatives estimates that it could take 20 years for the mission to reach Alpha Centauri after launch.

But I think we have to do it as a civilization, Loeb told Futurism. We have to go in that direction and consider how to visit other stars, because currently all our eggs are in one basket here on Earth and we cant ignore the risk from a catastrophe.

Originally posted here:

Avi Loeb and the Great Unknown - Futurism

Surgeons Give Man New Face and Hands – Futurism

Image by Victor Tangermann

Joe DiMeo, a 22-year-old from New Jersey, recently underwent an extremely rare face and hands transplant, the Associated Press reports a testament to the advancements of modern medicine.

After being badly burned in a car crash in 2018, DiMeo spent months in a medically induced coma and had to have 20 reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts. But the most recent operation carried out at the NYU Langone Health hospital could end up being lifechanging.

I knew it would be baby steps all the way, DiMeo told the AP. Youve got to have a lot of motivation, a lot of patience. And youve got to stay strong through everything.

Despite the surgery, DiMeo will have to make some adjustments. For one, he still has to learn how to control the muscles in his new face and hands. He will also have to stay on medications for the rest of his life to avoid his body rejecting the transplants.

The fact they could pull it off is phenomenal, Bohdan Pomahac, a surgeon at Bostons Brigham and Womens Hospital, who had previously carried out a double hand transplant, told the AP. I know firsthand its incredibly complicated. Its a tremendous success.

The anonymous,deceased donor of DiMeos new hands and face was fitted with replica parts that were constructed using 3D photography and printing, the New York Post reports.

Despite the fact that theyre now declared deceased we still respect the dignity of the donor, Eduardo Rodriguez, lead surgeon, told the New York Post. Its important for us to continue to care for the donor because that patient is still our patient.

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Surgeons Give Man New Face and Hands - Futurism

HALs futuristic, deadly CATS to be battle-ready by 2024-25 – The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

BENGALURU:Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is looking at a 2024-25 deadline to develop its unique Combat Air Teaming System (CATS), a deep penetration attack system that enables a fighter pilot to remain safely within the countrys borders, while being able to deploy missiles or swarms of drones deep into enemy territory to destroy targets.

The project, with an initial investment of Rs 400 crore, comprises three components that can be separately or simultaneously deployed CATS Hunter, CATS Warrior and Alpha-S -- all of which are unmanned systems, but which can be controlled from the mothership, the fighter aircraft from which it is launched by its pilot from a safe distance. This unique concept will ensure maximum firepower against enemy targets, while keeping the pilot and fighter aircraft out of enemy fire.

The CATS Hunter is being conceived as an air-launched cruise missile that has the capability of deep penetration strikes which can be released by a fighter aircraft like LCA Tejas, Jaguar or Sukhoi-30 MKI. CATS Warrior can take off on its own from the ground and target enemy locations carrying heavy explosives. It can go up to 700km and hit a target, or fly 350km, release attack drones and return to base, said Arup Chatterjee, Director (Engineering, Research & Development), HAL.

The Warrior can also carry and release the Alpha-S, a swarm of up to 24 drones each carrying about 5-8kg of explosives, and can target multiple enemy locations simultaneously on being released. Alternatively, the Alpha-S can be released directly by a fighter aircraft using a glider that can carry the drone swarms deep into enemy territory, controlled by the pilot from the mothership. The drones in the swarm of Alpha-S are networked via electronic data links, and equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors. This enables each drone to select separate targets.

The CATS Warrior and Hunter can be powered by a modified PTE-7 engine of the HAL, which was the power plant of the Lakshya unmanned aircraft. He said it will take around 15 months for the mothership to be made compatible with CATS.

We should be able to develop the CATS by 2024-25, he said. We are investing our own funds and going ahead with the project, and subsequently the Indian Air Force will come in. HAL had quietly initiated the CATS project in 2017, and also tested the project in Pokhran for the IAF, and its capability had left senior officers impressed.

Rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (RUAVs) are being developed and tested to deliver rations and supplies to soldiers posted at high altitude border posts, Chatterjee said. With extremely difficult conditions making helicopter flights almost impossible to carry rations to forward posts, HAL has come up with RUAVs to do the job instead.

SHOOTER SATELLITE UAVHAL is planning to develop an unmanned flying system that can fly at about 70,000ft continuously for 2-3 months, to maintain surveillance on the ground below. Arup Chatterjee, Director (Engineering, Research & Development), HAL, described it as the first in the world. This is a futuristic concept which no other country has yet developed. It will be a solar energised system. We are developing this jointly with a startup,he said.

IAF proposal for basic trainer HTT40HAL has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) and quotation from the IAF for its basic trainers requirement, at Aero India 2021 on Thursday. The documents were handed over to HAL CMD R Madhavan, by Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, and Director General (Acquisition), Ministry of Defence, VL Kantha Rao. The RFP is for 70 HTT40 aircraft, with an additional clause for 38 more. Production will take place at HALs two manufacturing units in Bengaluru and Nashik. The RFP has come within six years of HALs first flight, which is claimed to be the shortest timeline in the aircraft industry. The trainer will have more than 60% indigenous content.

MoUs with MIDHANI, GE Aviation signedHAL on Thursday signed an MoU with MIDHANI (Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited) at the ongoing Aero India 2021 for development and production of composite raw materials. Composites raw materials, mainly in the form of Prepregs used in platforms like LCA, ALH, LCH and LUH are currently imported. HAL also signed a contract with GE Aviation for development and supply of ring forgings for GE Aviation military and commercial engine programmes. The 5-year contract valued over `100 crore involves supplying both steel and nickel alloy forgings for shrouds, cases, rings and seals. The forgings will be manufactured at HALs new facility at its Foundry and Forge Division in Bengaluru.

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HALs futuristic, deadly CATS to be battle-ready by 2024-25 - The New Indian Express



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