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Free DNA Test Claims to Warn Whether COVID Is Likely to Kill You – Futurism

You know that file you got from Ancestry or 23andMe that contains a digital copy of your entire genetic code? Imagine that you upload it to a site, and five minutes later it spits out a report. Bad news it says your risk from the coronavirus is a glaring red HIGHER, meaning that according to a potpourri of genetic markers, youre more likely to have a severe, potentially deadly case of COVID-19.

Thats the idea behind a free genetic analysis offered by Sequencing.com, a genetic testing company thats offering personalized, DNA-based coronavirus warnings.

A person who looks to be low risk on a non-genetic level or seems like they could be pretty okay if they get COVID-19, we know that their genes are putting them on the path to a more severe disease, Sequencing CEO and clinical geneticist Brandon Colby told Futurism.

One of the major challenges of the coronavirus pandemic has been identifying whos at a greater risk for a disease that remains difficult to treat. At first, the outbreak seemed to be most dangerous for the elderly or people with underlying health conditions. But over time, more reports emerged of younger, healthier people coming down with severe and sometimes fatal cases.

Colbys goal is to personalize coronavirus testing by providing reports catered specifically to a individuals genetic code. With that, the screenings could bring to light warnings signs that might have previously flown under the radar for patients who otherwise seem healthy.

Colby told Futurism that he hopes the reports will convince people with high genetic risk factors to exercise greater caution. And if they do start to feel sick, he says, the report could spur them to seek treatment immediately.

That person may have genes that put them at high risk, and thats really the power of this report, Colby told Futurism. Without this report, that would have been a major question.

While clinical trials about how to best treat COVID-19 are only beginning to emerge, geneticists have already learned much about the structure, genetic code, and biological mechanisms of the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2. Colby and his team used that research to develop their predictive reports.

Because SARS-CoV-2 is so genetically similar to SARS-CoV-1, the coronavirus that causes SARS, the Sequencing team also pulled from the far more expansive body of research on that virus as well, since the same genes seem to be linked to a greater risk of infection and more severe symptoms of both diseases.

This research is still preliminary and this analysis is based on preliminary genetic associations, Colby said. If the pandemic was not such a crisis, then this would be something that we would want more research to come out upon. We would probably put this up there in a beta format, and that would be very clear.

But due to the crisis, the urgency, we are utilizing these preliminary studies and making sure that people understand that these are preliminary, he added. Were utilizing what information we currently have available to make it useful at a time when its needed.

Supplementing their research with existing studies on the SARS virus may make for a more robust tool, but genetic experts werent entirely convinced by the idea of an online genetic test for COVID risk.

I think the key here is that there are both genetic and environmental factors that contribute to an individuals personal susceptibility, Boston University geneticist Shoumita Dasgupta, whos unaffiliated with Sequencing, told Futurism. We know this from other pathogens as well. Neither one alone will be enough to be completely protective, but the combination of public health measures and biomedical research on genetic risk factors can together help us navigate our way out of this situation.

Genetics rarely gives you a 100 percent foolproof predictive ability, Dasgupta added.

Certainly, comparative genomics can give insight from how genes work in other systems, but since viruses evolve quickly, its possible that those components may work together slightly differently in the novel coronavirus, Dasgupta added.

Because genes cant possibly tell the whole story, Sequencings report also weighs non-genetic risk factors, like age, smoking habits, and existing medical conditions, which Dasgupta described as a good start. Colby told Futurism that even more environmental factors, like stress, will be included in a major update to the reports expected to go live on Friday.

Colby said that his team will add new findings as they encounter them, making the reports more accurate and robust. Anyone who got a genetic profile from Sequencing might get a notification in the future that their report has changed as new research comes in, especially after that new update.

Even with the knowledge that these reports are based on preliminary findings and could change just as the pandemic continues to change and surprise us, Colby hopes that the personalized reports and warnings will inspire people to better protect themselves.

If you dont know that youre at very high risk, you think, Hey Im 30 years old, I dont have any health problems, I dont smoke, Im gonna go shopping today. Im gonna go outside and potentially expose myself, that decision may be altered once you go and see these reports, Colby said.

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Free DNA Test Claims to Warn Whether COVID Is Likely to Kill You - Futurism

New Zealand Claims to Have Eliminated COVID-19 – Futurism

On Monday, the Prime Minister of New Zealand declared that the country had successfully eliminated the coronavirus among its residents.

If the claim holds up, that would be a remarkable success story though, in reality, there are several technicalities about what it means to have eliminated the countrys outbreak.

Chief among them is that there are still new cases of COVID-19 being identified and reported in New Zealand, health officials said at a press conference attended by CNN. But because those new cases remain in the single digits, the countrys leaders are still calling it a job well done.

Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealands Director General of Health, said at the conference that the small number of new infections does give us confidence that weve achieved our goal of elimination, which that never meant zero but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from.

Our goal is elimination, Bloomfield added. And again, that doesnt mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.

Of course, that could change, as experts suggest that countries that previously got a handle on their coronavirus outbreaks could expect a second wave in the future.

So as we have said elimination means we may well reach zero but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again, that doesnt mean we have failed, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the conference. It just means that we are in the position to have that zero-tolerance approach to have a very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low and fading out again.

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New Zealand Claims to Have Eliminated COVID-19 - Futurism

The Laws of Physics May Break Down at the Edge of the Universe – Futurism

Bending Rules

A controversial new study suggests that it may be possible to bend the laws of the universe but just a little bit.

Scientists at the University of New South Wales found what seem to be discrepancies in whats called the fine structure constant, a number thats thought to remain perfectly unchanging and describes how subatomic particles interact with each other. Its a bold claim, but if it holds up it would fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.

The fine structure constant describes the force that influences subatomic particles with electrical charge, like how protons and electrons within an atom are drawn to one another. The study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, found that the number seemed to change when they analyzed extremely distant quasars but only when they looked in certain directions, meaning that the laws of physics may break down at the edges of the universe.

And it seems to be supporting this idea that there could be a directionality in the universe, University of New South Wales physicist John Webb said in a press release, which is very weird indeed.

As it stands right now, our models for the universe assume that it expands outward in all directions like an ever-growing blob of galaxies and other starstuff. If this new study is correct, however, it instead presents a universe with a dipole structure, not unlike the North and South poles of a magnet.

Because its such a bold finding, even Webb himself isnt convinced by his own work but argues that its definitely worth exploring with more and better measurements.

READ MORE: New findings suggest laws of nature downright weird, not as constant as previously thought [University of New South Wales]

More on physics: New Theory Could Solve Universes Biggest Paradox

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The Laws of Physics May Break Down at the Edge of the Universe - Futurism

Astronomers Warn That Our Sun Is Having a "Midlife Crisis" – Futurism

Coping Mechanism

The Sun is behaving oddly compared to its cosmic peers, making astronomers think that it may be in the middle of some sort of transition period.

In a survey of the Sun and 369 other stars that share its properties, Max Planck Institute astronomers found that the Sun is far less active than the others, Inverse reports. And the leading explanation is that the Sun may be in the middle of a sort of midlife crisis.

Over the last four years, the brightness of the other stars fluctuated wildly, whereas the Sun stayed relatively constant, according to research published Friday in the journal Science. In fact, the difference between the Suns brightest and dimmest moments is a fifth the size of other stars.

We wanted to see if the Sun is somehow different, Max Planck Institute researcher Timo Reinhold told Inverse. People have claimed that its more quiet than other stars, while others have claimed that its similarly active so we wanted to really boil it down to this very solar-like sample that is very similar to the Sun.

Its possible that the Sun is merely at a different stage of some sort of cyclic pattern than the other stars. But because its also halfway through its expected nine billion-year lifespan, its possible that our Sun is in the middle of a particularly tranquil mid-way point of its life.

Another explanation is the Sun is in its midlife crisis, Reinhold told Inverse.

READ MORE: THE SUNS MIDLIFE CRISIS COULD BE MAKING IT STAND OUT IN THE UNIVERSE [Inverse]

More on the Sun: Scientists Mystified: Suns Magnetic Field Appears to be Flipping

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Astronomers Warn That Our Sun Is Having a "Midlife Crisis" - Futurism

The White House Is Trying to Shut Down NASA’s Last Mars Rover – Futurism

Pack It Up

U.S. President Trumps proposed 2021 budget could spell doom for the countrys Mars exploration missions, including its last Mars rover.

Its an unusual move for a President who has repeatedly urged NASA to send a crewed mission to Mars and even offered the space agency unlimited funding to do so.

But the proposed budget cuts would debilitate several ongoing missions, Scientific American reports, and would even mean shutting down the iconic rover Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars since 2012.

Many scientists responded to the budget with dismay. NASA Planetary Science Division director Lori Glaze,however, took a pragmatic view.

Last year required many difficult decisions: invest in the future, continue what weve been doing or find some balance in between, Glaze told SciAm. All strong organizations do this. Mars exploration is no different.

But other experts are more cynical. George Washington University space historian and policy researcher John Logsdon told SciAm that the budget cuts were meant to punish NASA for going over budget on its Perseverence mission, which will attempt to land a new rover on Mars in 2021 and eventually return soil samples to Earth.

It would be really shortsighted if that penalty undercut the growing momentum toward finally moving forward on a Mars Sample Return effort, Logsdon told SciAm. There has to be a better way of enforcing cost control on NASAs science efforts without jeopardizing their reason for existence.

READ MORE: Mars Needs Money: White House Budget Could Prompt Retreat from Red Planet [Scientific American]

More on Trump and Mars: Trump Offered NASA an Unlimited Budget it it Sent Humans to Mars

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The White House Is Trying to Shut Down NASA's Last Mars Rover - Futurism

This COVID-19 Vaccine Could Be Ready by September – Futurism

As various teams race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, one group at Oxford University says that if everything goes perfectly theirs could be available as soon as September.

The vaccine was demonstrated to be effective in macaques, primates often used in biomedical research because theyre similar to humans, but has yet to be tested in people, The New York Times reports. But with scheduled clinical trials involving 6,000 participants, it will soon become clear whether the vaccine is actually as promising as it currently seems.

The scientists at Oxfords Jenner Institute for vaccine research had a bit of a head start, the NYT reports. Theyre working on an accelerated timeline because they had previously shown that a vaccine similar to the one theyre now developing that inoculated against a different coronavirus was safe for use in humans.

Thats the first crucial benchmark for regulatory approval, but not by any means a guarantee that the new vaccine will work.

It is a very, very fast clinical program, Emilio Emini, a vaccine program director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told the NYT.

Even on top of accelerated testing, the group would need to get an emergency approval from the U.K. government if it wants to hit that September target.

But if everything goes to exactly as planned, the NYT reports that the group would be able to send out millions of vaccines by then allowing the start of inoculation programs several months ahead of current timelines.

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This COVID-19 Vaccine Could Be Ready by September - Futurism

We Are The New World: Global Conversation With Optimistic Futurists – Thrive Global

Im thrilled to be taking part in a very important conversation about a better way to return to normal. I have registered for We Are The New World: Join The Conversation With Optimistic Futurists, which is precisely the kind of conversation the whole world should be engaged in right now. Even if we dont change anything right away, just the fact that we are having conversations like this positively impacts nature.

Rather than the standard one-way format of listening to experts, there will be a Q&A with the featured speakers, followed by a genuine conversation in breakout rooms moderated by one of the panelists.

We may never again see such an opportunity to overthrow the old ways of being and to be the architects of a new paradigm and we are ready and willing to voluntarily serve in this capacity. It is our deep concern that many people are privately discussing these ideas but have not yet organized or considered how to reach a tipping point where our voices (of which we believe we may be the silent majority) are heard and unified into action. Our featured panelists serve to help us guide a tangible, action-oriented movement.

WE ARE THE NEW WORLD

The way were returning to normal is not so joyful since we havent done anything to counterbalance natures move. So at least now, let us think about what can be done to reduce the harm to nature, because we are not prepared for that. Before the coronavirus outbreak, we were already doing everything opposite to what you would expect from humans, creatures with the highest emotional intelligence.

We shouldnt disregard nature as we did in the past, and as were apparently returning to do now. Its good that were getting out of lockdown, but not the way were going back, because we havent learned our lesson.

You would think the developed part of man would comprehend that its impossible to return to the life we had before. How can we return to that place where we totally give in to our cravings and allow them to dictate our lives? The previous momentum we were caught up in was stopped by the virus, so why not take advantage of this opportunity? Where are we running back to? There is nowhere to escape the Earth and it is also the only planet we have. Wouldnt it be good for us to try to be friendlier to it? After all, it serves us more than we serve it. We didnt even use it properly during this ceasefire we were given by nature. It seems that we havent learned our lesson at all.

So where should we expect the reaction to come from? From mans ego. Blows and suffering are the only way to move us. And it appears that this blow was not enough, and that we are bringing upon ourselves additional troubles. We have such a rigid system of commerce in place that even the blows dont push us to make changes . Even the promise of a better world is no longer enough for us to want to change. So we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.

We must begin a new path of conversations about a more desirable path, or a different format for existing here. But mainly to begin initiatives like this conversation before we receive more blows. Public opinion must force new limitations on politicians. After all, they are not those taking initiative but simply acting according to the demands of the people. The government is supposed to be a reflection of the people. Yet until we go back to that correct format we must generate demand for a better life from below.

We must begin creating new momentum for generating changes in public opinion with anyone who is concerned for the public good.

We are returning to a divided society without any common denominator, but rather more camps than before. There is no advancement in the understanding that were all connected, and that we have the ability to influence one another in a positive manner. We prefer to go backwards rather than advance forward.

Therefore nothing will change without changing public opinion. We must understand that we belong to a system with one very simple rule a good life for every individual and the entire world, without any exceptions whatsoever.

We have realized the need to begin assembling more and more like-minded citizens in an effort to create a unifying message and platform from which we can work in unison to take advantage of this window in time for massive change. We know that a return to normal after the threat of the virus subsides would be devastating to the citizens of this country and around the globe. WE ARE THE NEW WORLD

Date Time: May 1, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Featured Panelists:

RAJ SISODIA

DR. NEHA SANGWAN

BOB CHAPMAN

COSMINA POPA

PAUL YOUNG

JESS EWART

CHANGA BELL

JAYNE GOTTLIEB

SKIPPY MESIROW

GINA MURDOCK

STEPHEN MCGHEE

GRETCHEN BLEILER

STACY BARE

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We Are The New World: Global Conversation With Optimistic Futurists - Thrive Global

Automated Education This Grad Student Used a Neural Network to Write His Papers – Futurism

Back when artificial intelligence development company OpenAI created the text-writing algorithm GPT-2, it initially said it was too dangerous to release into the world.

Of course, it eventually did did release a full version of the neural network. By and large, it turned out that people were more interested in using GPT-2 as an AI dungeon master than churning out the endless torrent of fake news and propaganda that OpenAI had worried about.

But one evil genius slipped through the cracks: Tiago, a student whos getting his masters degree in business, told Futurism that hebeen using GPT-2 to write essays for his coursework.

He was willing to share his story and copies of his AI-generated essays on the condition that Futurism didnt share identifying information beyond his first name.

I dont know if it qualifies as plagiarism, Tiago told Futurism. I figure no, maybe, but thats not a gamble Id like to take right now.

Below is Futurisms conversation with Tiago, which has been lightly edited for clarity.

So, you used the AI algorithm GPT-2 to write one of your homework assignments. I have to say, thats an incredible move to pull off.

Tiago: Well, not that amazing. I would say, all my friends that work in tech and the STEM fields dont understand how poor the business school curriculum is in general. Its not as much a feat for GPT-2, Id say, as proof of the poorness of business schools curriculum.

You couldnt write an essay on science that could be anywhere near as convincing using the methods that I used. Many of the courses that I take in business school wouldnt make it possible as well. However, some particular courses are less information-dense, and so if you can manage to write a few pages with some kind of structure and some kind of argument, you can get through. Its not that great of an achievement, I would say, for GPT-2.

What was the actual assignment?

We did a presentation on some kind of business case, and then we had to do a follow-up essay. Three to five pages on that business case, and what it meant. Its weird to explain.

I would have to say also Im more pessimistic than the average business school student those courses that revolve around the business cases are not as fact-based as courses you might be used to. Because business cases are not like a theorem, theyre more like a parable.

It could be how innovation is important or something like that. You can take any conclusion that you want, and if it makes sense and if it fits in the more general narrative, you are assured a passing grade. Its very far from publishing an academic essay Id like to stress that point.

What gave you the idea to use GPT-2 for this assignment in particular?

I read an article about a student contest for essays on climate change. One of the entries was not a student, but a journalist at The Economist who used GPT-2 to write an entry. It was a very close experiment to my essay.

At that point, I started looking up how I could use GPT-2 to write essays in some of my classes. However, I do not have a technical background at all, so it was too much for me.

One thing that was made available between that time and the essay that I wrote was a tool, Talktotransformer.com, which makes GPT-2 accessible to everyone through a web browser. I dont know the details, but thats what made it possible for someone with a non-technical background like me to use GPT-2 to write my essay.

How did you actually write the essay? Did you have a game plan going in, or did you basically put some writing into TalkToTransformer and hope for the best?

Basically, I wrote the outline of my essay, with a few sentences or a paragraph per section, each with a point. And then I fed the first sentence of each paragraph that I wrote, fed it to GPT-2, and I got a full paragraph.

I had to iterate a few times to get something that was close to what I was looking for, and then I put it back in my word document and went to my next paragraph.

So you provided one sentence per paragraph, sort of like a topic sentence, and let the algorithm fill it out?

I wrote the structure and one sentence per paragraph. All the information that was in that final essay was in that structure, but the sentences were added by GPT-2. It added false quotes sometimes, or false information about the companies I was talking about. I found adding words like innovation, synergy,and stuff like that made the essay sound more suited for the course.

I did it for two essays in two different courses. What I figured as I was doing it was that if I write my first sentence in a certain way, it increases the probability that the paragraph will look how I want it to. So, if I use the words that are in a lot of business review articles, then the probability of similar words and similar points being made in the generated paragraph was increased.

What did you think of the output? Did it seem believable to you? Did you have to fix any errors?

I would write the first sentence of the paragraph, lets say the point of the paragraph is Starbucks has innovated by raising the quality of its coffee. I would write a sentence that encompasses the whole point, and then I would feed it to GPT-2, and then I would get a paragraph. I would generate again until I get something that I found more or less believable.

Some sentences would generate paragraphs indifferent tones. So, for instance, if I used some keywords, it would write a quote from the Starbucks CEO like what he would say in a shareholders meeting. But if I wrote it slightly differently, it might produce something about how to make coffee.

So you didnt change the paragraph at all once it looked about right?

There was light editing. Removing a sentence from a paragraph or adding it elsewhere. Sometimes GPT-2 would start a quote without ending it, so I would have to remove it.

Or it would make some bold claims that I was not comfortable with because they were factually false. Those I would remove.

And how was it received? Did the paper get a passing grade?

Both times I passed. But there was not much feedback on one of them, just a grade. And the second one, there was a grade on relationship to the subject, whether it got the point across.

It did get an okay grade. I dont have the grades for other students, but I think 80 percent of the class passed. Its hard to tell. I passed and some students didnt, but I was far from the best. I was clearly one of the worst ones that did pass.

It was okay for me because Im at the end of my masters and this was one of my last classes. For me, it was just pass or fail.

Were you nervous at all when you were submitting the work? Were you concerned that youd be found out?

I was confident enough to turn it in. However, I then was looking online and found out theres a really easy way to find out if an essay was written by GPT-2. Its to feed it to GPT-2 and if its able to predict the next words, then it was written by the AI. Its easier to find out than normal plagiarism.

I knew that the business school had software that they were using to look out for plagiarism in all the essays that are turned in to their online platform, which is how I turned in my essays. So I was slightly worried that the company that sold them the anti-plagiarism software would have made an update.

I dont think the professors even considered the possibility of GPT-2 writing the essays, but I was slightly worried that the company making the software added a module. But not that much.

Were you surprised when you passed?

Not really. I think its hard to get across to people who didnt study in business school how poor the standards are for essays that are turned in. I think the professors are too proud to think of the possibility of AI writing an essay. But it was really easy to do.

I think it will become an issue for business schools in the future, and unfortunately for students, its easily solved through anti-plagiarism software.

I know youre basically done with school. But if you had more ahead of you, would you do this again? Or was it more of a fun experiment for you?

Yeah, this is something Id do again. You just cant expect a good grade. The final essay is pretty poor, its just not poor enough for the professor to fail you.

More on GPT-2: Now You Can Experiment With OpenAIs Dangerous Fake News AI

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Automated Education This Grad Student Used a Neural Network to Write His Papers - Futurism

Night of the Comet NASA: Something Is Off About This Interstellar Comet – Futurism

In 2019, astronomers made an incredible discovery: a comet from a different star system making a close approach to the Sun at an extremely unusual trajectory, which was later named 2I/Borisov after the amateur astronomer who discovered it.

Observations suggest that its home star system could resemble our own. NASA scientists have even suggested that the object may hold water.

Now, a new study by an international team of researchers led by NASA has revealed something highly unusual: gas emanating from the comet contained unusually high amounts of carbon monoxide up to 26 times higher than that of the average comet.

This is the first time weve ever looked inside a comet from outside our solar system and it is dramatically different from most other comets weve seen before, Martin Cordiner, astrochemist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Astronomy said in a statement.

The fact that they found any carbon monoxide isnt in itself unusual. Its one of the most commonly found molecules in space. But the extremely high concentration puzzled the researchers.

The comet must have formed from material very rich in CO ice, which is only present at the lowest temperatures found in space, below -420 degrees Fahrenheit (-250 degrees Celsius), Stefanie Milam, planetary scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and co-author of the study, said in the statement.

They believe the abundance of the gas could tell us about the comets home.

If the gases we observed reflect the composition of 2I/Borisovs birthplace, then it shows that it may have formed in a different way than our own solar system comets, in an extremely cold, outer region of a distant planetary system, said Cordiner.

Scientists suggest that 2l/Borisov couldve spent billions of years traveling through the extreme colds of interstellar space after being yeeted out of its host system as it came near a passing star.

But we still cant pinpoint what its home system looks like just yet.

2I/Borisov gave us the first glimpse into the chemistry that shaped another planetary system, said Milam. But only when we can compare the object to other interstellar comets, will we learn whether 2I/Borisov is a special case, or if every interstellar object has unusually high levels of CO.

READ MORE: Strange ingredient in interstellar Comet Borisov offers a clue to its origins [Space.com]

More on Borisov: NASA SCIENTISTS SAY INTERSTELLAR OBJECT MAY HOLD ALIEN WATER

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Night of the Comet NASA: Something Is Off About This Interstellar Comet - Futurism

Elon Musk Says the Starlink Network Will Go Live in Six Months – Futurism

Test Run

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday that the companys Starlink satellite network will come online for a public beta in about six months.

The network will still be incomplete Business Insider reports that SpaceX hopes to launch thousands more satellites in the coming years. But the beta will be the first attempt to test out whether Starlink can reliably beam internet service down from space. If it works, it could help improve access to broadband and close the digital divide thats only become more of a problem since people started isolating at home.

Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2020

Starlink has remained controversial among scientists who are worried that launching tens of thousands of satellites could prevent astronomers from conducting research or even become a minefield for spacecraft trying to leave the planet.

But SpaceX has made efforts to assuage those concerns by changing the altitude at which the satellites orbit and apply coatings that make them appear dimmer from the ground.

SpaceX has currently launched just 420 get it? of its Starlink satellites into orbit, but plans to have 12,000 up within the decade, Business Insider reports.

Because of that limited scale, the beta tests will only deliver broadband access to some parts of the world, according to Musks tweet. But no matter how well the test goes, it will still be a far cry from how the full network is expected to perform down the road.

READ MORE: Elon Musk announces that early access to the Starlink satellite-internet project will launch this year [Business Insider]

More on Starlink: Ominous Video Shows SpaceX Satellites Cutting Across Sky

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Elon Musk Says the Starlink Network Will Go Live in Six Months - Futurism

The Coronavirus May Be Doing Something Strange to Your Toes – Futurism

Health practitioners are noticing a strange new sign that patients could be carrying the coronavirus without symptoms such as a dry cough or fever.

The media and even some health experts are now referring to the condition as COVID toes mysterious blue or red discoloration in toes and sometimes fingers. It seems to only affect young people.

We dont know for sure if its related to COVID-19, but when its so common right now during a pandemic and is occurring in otherwise asymptomatic or mildly affected patients, it seems too much of a coincidence not to be a manifestation of the virus for patients in their teens and 20s, Amy Paller, the chair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Luckily, the toes seem to turn back to normal quickly.

I think its much more rampant than we even realize, Paller added in the statement. The good news is it resolves spontaneously.

Sometime itchy, often times painful, Paller told Chicagos WGN9 News, these are individuals who are often without any other sign of viral infection. We are seeing this in unprecedented numbers.

Theyre typically painful to touch and could have a hot burning sensation, Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvanias School of Medicine, told USA Today. Sometimes this might be your first clue that they have COVID when they dont have any other symptoms.

The news comes after doctors found that a loss of smell and taste could be a first symptom of COVID-19.

Luckily, COVID toes are seemingly not a sign of impending doom.

None of these teens or young adults have gone on to have any serious issues, Paller told WGN9.

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The Coronavirus May Be Doing Something Strange to Your Toes - Futurism

This is What Air Travel Could Look Like After the Pandemic – Futurism

Peaky Blinders

Italian design company Avio Interiors has dreamed up with two airplane seat design concepts that could keep travelers safe or at least safer in a post-pandemic world.

The concepts, spotted by The Drive, could be one possible solution to the uncomfortable reality of somebody sneezing or coughing next to you on your next flight that is, if well ever experience air travel again.

The companys first Glassafe concept is a a kit-level solution that can be installed on existing seats to make close proximity safer among passengers sharing the same seat, according to the companys website. In other words, transparent blinders on either side of the seat.

The unusual transparent materials still allow passengers to avoid or minimize contacts and interactions via air, [] so as to reduce the probability of contamination by viruses or other.

The Janus Seat is a two-faced seat that could allow three passengers to be separated with a shield made of transparent material that isolates them from each other, creating a protective barrier for everyone, according to the website.

Unlike the Glassafe concept, the three-seat configuration would require a complete retooling as it isnt a simple add-on kit for existing airplane seats.

The concept comes after businessman Rick Pescovitz wore a personal, transparent tent in the window seat of a commercial airliner back in early February to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

READ MORE:Heres How Plane Seating Could Look After Coronavirus

More on air travel: MAN WEARS PERSONAL PLASTIC TENT ON FLIGHT TO AVOID DEADLY VIRUS

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This is What Air Travel Could Look Like After the Pandemic - Futurism

Terrifying Simulation Shows How Viruses Spread When You Cough – Futurism

A new 3D-rendered simulation by Finnish researchers shows how aerosol particles coughed out by a person in an indoor environment can spread terrifyingly far.

The research aims to determine how the coronavirus can spread through the air, and found that aerosol particles carrying the virus can remain in the air longer than was originally thought, so it is important to avoid busy public indoor spaces, according to a statement.

The 3D environment is trying to provide an analogue for the average grocery store with run-of-the-mill ventilation.

In the 3D model, a person coughs in a corridor bounded by shelves under representative indoor ventilation air flow conditions, reads the video. As a result of coughing, an aerosol cloud travels in the air to the corridor. It takes up several minutes for the cloud to spread and disperse.

Someone infected by the coronavirus, can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus, explained Aalto University assistant professor Ville Vuorinen in the statement. These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity.

Aerosol particles from a dry cough a common symptom of COVID-19 are so small (less than 15 micrometers) that they float through the air rather than sinking to the floor. Air currents can help them spread. According to the researchers, previous studies have shown that influenza A viruses can be found in even smaller particles less than five micrometers.

The model underlines that avoiding crowded places or nodal points could be an effective way to curb the spread of the virus.

Masks have also proven to be an extremely effective way to curb the spread through aerosol particles and droplets that is, if a recent study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature is to be believed.

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Terrifying Simulation Shows How Viruses Spread When You Cough - Futurism

The Earth is Standing Still During the Pandemic. Literally. – Futurism

Standing Still

Flights are grounded. Fewer trains are running. Rush hour is gone. The world particularly in cities is looking drastically different during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to seismologists, that drastic reduction in human hustle and bustle is causing the Earth to move substantially less. Both literally and figuratively, the planet is standing still.

Thomas Lecocq, a geologist and seismologist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, noticed that the countrys capital Brussels is experiencing a 30 to 50 percent reduction in ambient seismic noise since the lockdowns began, as CNN reports.

That means data collected by seismologists is becoming more accurate, capable of detecting even the smallest tremors despite the fact that many of the scientific instruments in use today are near city centers.

Youll get a signal with less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information out of those events, Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology in Washington DC told Nature.

Researchers in Los Angeles and in West London, UK noticed a similar trend.

But seismologists collecting data from remote stations far away from human civilization might not see a change at all, according to Nature.

Regardless, a significant drop in seismic noise also shows that were at least doing one thing right during the current pandemic: staying in the safety of our own homes as we wait for the virus to run its course.

READ MORE: The coronavirus pandemic is making Earth shake less [CNN]

More on the pandemic: New App Attempts to Detect Signs of COVID-19 Using Voice Analysis

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The Earth is Standing Still During the Pandemic. Literally. - Futurism

The World’s First Cyborgs: Humanity’s Next Evolutionary Phase Is Here – Futurism

In a small dark experiment room, Bill, a wheel-chair bound tetraplegic, stares intently at a simulated arm on a computer screen. Two tentacle-like cables protrude from his skull and hook into a nearby computer, which sends messages to electrodes implanted in his arm and hand. If the experiment is successful, Bill will move his limbs again.

This early scene from Futurisms newly released documentary I AM HUMAN sets the stage for jaw-dropping revelations to come. With this technology, Bill may someday be able to move other things with his brain signals. You know, telekinesis. Welcome to the future.

Though Bill doesnt resemble the cyborgs were used to seeing in movies, the image is just as compelling, and representative of a much larger real-world phenomenon. In fact, Bill is one of many first wave pioneers ushering in a biotechnological revolutionpresently, more than 200,000 people in the world have digital chip technology implanted in their brains.

Most of these people are Parkinsons patients, who undergo deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery with the hope of ameliorating tremor and other symptoms. DBS has been a course of treatment for decades now, and opened the door for further trials into brain implants for a host of other ailments, including obesity, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression.

In the film, we see firsthand the dramatic impact of this technology on Anne, an artist struggling with Parkinsons. We also meet Stephen, a blind retiree who undergoes a retinal prosthesis surgery (in sci-fi fashion, the implant is known as the Argus II.) As one of several hundred blind patients with bionic vision, the technology currently only offers the ability to see outlines and edges of objects. Progress however, is unbounded and accelerating. Within a few years, greater definition and infrared, heat-mapping vision will be just a software upgrade away.

For Bill, Anne, and Stephen three ordinary people robbed of basic function risking their brains is a brave effort to preserve their humanity but their decisions mark thrilling implications for us all. What happens when anyone can upgrade their bodies? What aspects of our humanity will we change? Who will decide who goes forth into our species next evolutionary phase, and who gets left behind?

You can imagine scientists, investors, and ethicists have quite a debate on their hands. While I AM HUMAN acknowledges concerns about playing God, it challenges fear-driven narratives surrounding human-machine evolution with unflinching optimism, grounded in the real-life stories of people whose lives may directly benefit from such scientific breakthroughs.

Watch I AM HUMAN now on your favorite streaming platform.

Disclaimer: I AM HUMAN was produced by Futurism Studios. Futurism has a financial interest in the film.

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Here’s What It Would Be Like to Drive on Different Planets – Futurism

April 6th 20__Jon Christian__Filed Under: Advanced Transport

YouTube science channel The Action Lab had a fun idea: use the physics-heavy driving simulator BeamNG.drive to show what it would be like to drive on various heavenly bodies.

Heres the Earth, for a baseline:

And heres the simulation with gravity set to that of the Moon, making it difficult to even get traction:

Then the YouTubers went hard by flipping on Jupiters gravity, which immediately crushed their simulated truck into the ground:

Things go completely off the rails when they set the gravity to that of the Sun, instantly crushing the test vehicle:

They also try a bunch of other parameters, including lifting the truck up and then dropping it with various gravity settings. The whole thing is worth a watch!

More on gravity: We May Finally Understand the Speed of Gravity

<<< Self-Driving Car Company Lays Off All Its Human Safety Drivers__Previously

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Here's What It Would Be Like to Drive on Different Planets - Futurism

The Pandemic Stranded Them in the Worst Place: Antarctica – Futurism

Homeward Bound

As the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult and ill-advised to travel, one group found itself trapped in a particularly inhospitable environment: Antarctica.

The members of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff were working at research stations when the pandemic hit. And while plans have been made to bring just about everyone stationed there home, BBC News reports, it was a harrowing endeavor to arrange travel in the midst of a global crisis.

Thecurrent plan is to get BAS workers on a ferry to the Falkland Islands, off the coast of South America, and then fly them home to the U.K. But the BAS is also commissioning a cruise ship, BBC News reports, to accommodate everyone until the ferry arrives and to help keep everyone separated.

The situation has been changing every day, BAS director Jane Francis told BBC News. You think youve got something in place to bring everyone home and then something happens.

Once everyone is home, the next problem is figuring out how to keep Antarctica coronavirus-free when scientists inevitably head back to continue their work.

Were working very hard to do that, Francis told BBC News. Were trying to make sure that anybody that goes to Antarctica is virus-free. So, theyve either not been anywhere where theres been the virus or theyve been in isolation. But that will be our challenge for the forthcoming season, I think.

READ MORE: Coronavirus complicates journeys home from Antarctica [BBC News]

More on COVID-19: Researchers Announce Promising Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate

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Trump Threatens to Pull Funding for the World Health Organization – Futurism

U.S. President Donald Trump is now trying to place the blame for the coronavirus pandemic on the World Health Organization (WHO).

Trump directed his ire at the WHO during Tuesdays coronavirus task force briefing, during which he threatened to place a very powerful hold on the funds that the U.S. contributes to the international organization, The Guardian reports.

Trump, arguably searching for a scapegoat for his own administrations myriad failures, accused the WHO of bungling the global coronavirus response and withholding crucial information from the world, according to The Guardian. However, the WHO actually sounded the alarm and declared the coronavirus outbreak a global crisis more than a month before Trump declared a state of national emergency.

They called it wrong, they called it wrong, Trump said of the WHO. They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known and they should have known and they probably did know. So well be looking into that very carefully and were going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.

That puts the WHO among the ranks of the Obama administration, his own government agencies, Democrats, the media, and China, all of which Trump has previously blamed for the ongoing global crisis.

A few minutes after he first threatened to withhold his funding, a reporter challenged Trumps decision to defund the WHO during a global pandemic. In response, The Guardian reports that Trump denied that he had done so and immediately backtracked his comments.

Im not saying Im going to do it but were going to look at [it], Trump then said about pulling financial support.

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‘Tales from the Loop,’ Amazon’s sci-fi anthology, makes sense for our current alternative universe – theday.com

The eight-episode Amazon Studios series Tales from the Loop is a gentle slow-burner ideal for our alternative pandemic universe. Its a moving, determinedly solemn adaptation of Swedish author/artist Simon Stalenhags lavishly illustrated book, published in 2014 after his retro-futurist visions of a 1980s Sweden became an online sensation.

Comparisons have been made to grabbier shows that do all the work for you, such as Stranger Things, but theyll only mislead. The pilot introduces us to Russ Willard, portrayed by Jonathan Pryce. Watching his face in extended close-up, with those devilish eyebrows suggesting a visionary who knows more than hes about to tell us, we hear a little about the Mercer Center for Experimental Physics, Willards underground facility on the outskirts of Mercer, Ohio. (The Swedish setting of the source material peeks through in sly ways; at one point, a movie marquee announces a revival of Ingmar Bergmans Summer with Monika.)

So its Ohio, but in Tales from the Loop (series creator Nathaniel Halpern wrote all eight episodes), Ohio means black holes coexist with giant robots and hovercraft-style tractors, with surprising restraint. At heart, the show delves into childhood grief and resentment, all-too-ordinary fears of death, and unrequited adult love. The loneliness and the spaces between the characters set the tone and rhythm here.

The underground lab, a brutalist hunk of architecture, employs seemingly the entire town. The forlorn security guard Gaddis (Ato Essandoh) bids the occasional hello to passing workers. Halls character, Loretta, is married to George (Paul Schneider), outfitted with a impressive bionic arm. They live in quiet, split-level surroundings with their sons Jakob (Daniel Zolghadri) and, crucial in episode four, Cole, played by a terrific young actor named Duncan Joiner.

That fourth installment, Echo Sphere, scores with a simple, profound notion. Russ takes grandson Cole to explore a big, round, hollow metal structure. If you shout into it, the number of echoes you hear tell you how long you have to live. The rest of the episode charts Russs final chapter, and how it affects everyone in a life preoccupied by work. Jane Alexander adds one grace note after another as Klara, his wife, and you wont see a truer, more subtle performance anywhere right now.

The title Tales from the Loop refers to the beating black heart of a wondrous black orb known as The Eclipse,the innermost secret of the clandestine underground physics project. The three directors of the three previewed episodes treat these secrets in contrasting ways. Mark Romeneks pilot recalls the steady chill and precision of his earlier work, particularly Never Let Me Go. The theme of doubles and mirror images threads all three stories together. In the pilot, which gets a mite pokey, Halls dramatic instincts pull us through.

Andrew Stanton, co-writer and director of the miracle that wasWall-E, makes Echo Sphere a spare beauty with a light touch. The sixth installment in this anthology, Parallel, comes from director Charlie McDowell. The security guard weve met, briefly, takes center stage with the most Twilight Zone-y of the episodes, in which lonely Gaddis slips into an alt-universe version of his closeted gay life. There he meets a replica of himself, complete with long-term relationship with a hunky woodworker of uncertain fidelity.

Theres humor in these Tales, but its sparing and usually sidelined by the serious emotions. At times the storytelling just sort of floats, like the snow that magically falls upward in one segment. Those who need more, and coarser, can stream Hunters, I guess. This is the kind of show where silence matters. In minute 42 of the first episode, theres a startling close-up of Rebecca Halls character responding non-verbally to a harsh comment made by a young, motherless girl played by Abby Ryder Fortson. It lasts three or four seconds. And its a thunderbolt.

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'Tales from the Loop,' Amazon's sci-fi anthology, makes sense for our current alternative universe - theday.com

Coronavirus Conspiracy Theorists Are Setting 5G Towers on Fire – Futurism

5G Virus

At least three 5G wireless communication towers have been set on fire in three British cities, according to the BBC as discredited conspiracy theories spread on social media claiming theres a link between the technology and the coronavirus outbreak.

UK cabinet office minister Michael Gove calledthe conspiracy theories nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well during a government briefing, as quoted by the BBC.

According to videos uploaded to social media, workers putting up 5G infrastructure were even getting harassed by conspiracy nuts on the streets. In Birmingham, a tower not even capable of providing 5G services was still set on fire, The Verge reports.

This is now a matter of national security, Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery wrote in a statement. Police and counter terrorism authorities are investigating.

Misleading information and conspiracy theories have abounded online during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many claiming that home remedies and illegal drugs could magically give them immunity.

One theory even claimed that cocaine protects you against the coronavirus a fact that had to be refuted by the French ministry of health on Twitter last month.

READ MORE: British 5G towers are being set on fire because of coronavirus conspiracy theories [The Verge]

More on conspiracy theories: French Government: No, Cocaine Doesnt Cure Coronavirus

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