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Category Archives: Human Immortality

Unlocking the Secrets of Immortality: Tardigrade Proteins Slow Aging in Human Cells – SciTechDaily

Posted: April 2, 2024 at 4:07 am

Researchers have discovered that proteins from tardigrades, known for surviving extreme conditions, can slow molecular processes in human cells, offering promising applications in aging research and cell storage. This finding paves the way for developing new technologies to enhance human health and treat diseases.

Researchers at the University of Wyoming have advanced our understanding of how tardigrades survive extreme conditions and shown that proteins from the microscopic creatures expressed in human cells can slow down molecular processes.

This makes the tardigrade proteins potential candidates in technologies centered on slowing the aging process and in long-term storage of human cells.

The new study, published in the journal Protein Science, examines the mechanisms used by tardigrades to enter and exit from suspended animation when faced by environmental stress. Led by Senior Research Scientist Silvia Sanchez-Martinez in the lab of UW Department of Molecular Biology Assistant Professor Thomas Boothby, the research provides additional evidence that tardigrade proteins eventually could be used to make life-saving treatments available to people where refrigeration is not possible and enhance storage of cell-based therapies, such as stem cells.

Measuring less than half a millimeter long, tardigrades also known as water bears can survive being completely dried out; being frozen to just above absolute zero (about minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit, when all molecular motion stops); heated to more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit; irradiated several thousand times beyond what a human could withstand; and even survive the vacuum of outer space.

University of Wyoming Senior Research Scientist Silvia Sanchez-Martinez, left, and Department of Molecular Biology Assistant Professor Thomas Boothby led new research providing additional evidence that tardigrade proteins eventually could be used to make life-saving treatments available to people where refrigeration is not possible. Credit: Vindya Kumara

They survive by entering a state of suspended animation called biostasis, using proteins that form gels inside of cells and slow down life processes, according to the new UW-led research. Co-authors of the study are from institutions including the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of California-Merced, the University of Bologna in Italy, and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Sanchez-Martinez, who came from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to join Boothbys UW lab, was the lead author of the paper.

Amazingly, when we introduce these proteins into human cells, they gel and slow down metabolism, just like in tardigrades, Sanchez-Martinez says. Furthermore, just like tardigrades, when you put human cells that have these proteins into biostasis, they become more resistant to stresses, conferring some of the tardigrades abilities to the human cells.

Importantly, the research shows that the whole process is reversible: When the stress is relieved, the tardigrade gels dissolve, and the human cells return to their normal metabolism, Boothby says.

Our findings provide an avenue for pursuing technologies centered on the induction of biostasis in cells and even whole organisms to slow aging and enhance storage and stability, the researchers concluded.

Previous research by Boothbys team showed that natural and engineered versions of tardigrade proteins can be used to stabilize an important pharmaceutical used to treat people with hemophilia and other conditions without the need for refrigeration.

Tardigrades ability to survive being dried out has puzzled scientists, as the creatures do so in a manner that appears to differ from a number of other organisms with the ability to enter suspended animation.

Reference: Labile assembly of a tardigrade protein induces biostasis by S. Sanchez-Martinez, K. Nguyen, S. Biswas, V. Nicholson, A. V. Romanyuk, J. Ramirez, S. Kc, A. Akter, C. Childs, E. K. Meese, E. T. Usher, G. M. Ginell, F. Yu, E. Gollub, M. Malferrari, F. Francia, G. Venturoli, E. W. Martin, F. Caporaletti, G. Giubertoni, S. Woutersen, S. Sukenik, D. N. Woolfson, A. S. Holehouse and T. C. Boothby, 19 March 2024, Protein Science. DOI: 10.1002/pro.4941

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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Media Review: Rusty Lake The Etownian – Etownian

Posted: October 27, 2023 at 7:31 am

For this weeks media review, well be taking a look at an intriguing series of point-and-click puzzle games made by the Dutch development company Rusty Lake.

All of the Rusty Lake games are available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as on Steam for PC. The two most recent games are also available on Nintendo Switch. They range from free to about $5, depending on the platform.

The games are set in a world where souls can be corrupted and return for revenge; reincarnation is possible and an immortality serum was discovered (but mistakenly given to a friendly recurring dog). A secretive group led by Mr. Owl, a man reborn as a human-animal hybrid after being sacrificed by his family to appease the lake, aims to get revenge on the family that tricked him and coax others into coming to the lake by calling it a fishing retreat for people struggling with their mental health. The lake hungers for memories, which are captured from visitors in cubes.

The franchise features three intertwining storylines, which can be distinguished by the names of their corresponding games. The first story centers on a detective named Dale Vandermeer and his past, investigating the mysterious murder of a woman named Laura Vanderboom. Vandermeer is featured in the Cube Escape subseries, which includes 10 different games: Seasons, The Lake, Arles, Harveys Box, Case 23, The Mill, Birthday, Theatre, The Cave and Paradox, the first nine of which can be downloaded together as a collection.

The second storyline follows the rest of the Vanderboom family and carries the Rusty Lake name. There are only three games in this subseries, being Hotel, Roots and Paradise and the bulk of the worlds lore is found within them.

The last subseries has no distinguishing naming convention and includes the games Samsara Room, the companys first game, The Past Within, a collaborative two-player game and Underground Blossom, which is the newest game in the series having been released at the end of September. These games further reveal how Vanderboom fits into the rest of the story.

There is also a stand-alone game called The White Door, which features Robert, a side character from Vanderboom and Vandermeers storylines as the main character and his experiences with a treatment facility called White Door Mental Health and Fishing, as a juxtaposition to the alternative Rusty Lake Mental Health and Fishing. It uses a slightly different style from the other games, although still cartoony.

Each game takes place in a new location, with a variety of puzzles to explore. You use the items you get from each puzzle to uncover solutions and complete more puzzles, which reveal information and advance the story.

Although some puzzles, especially in the games released early on, can be a bit unintuitive, the puzzles are rarely too difficult, and the company posts walkthroughs of every game on their YouTube channel. There are also a host of achievements to collect in each game for an extra challenge, which are associated with secret codes between games or across their social media presence, such as an alternate reality game (ARG) they created over the summer or in their Steam announcements, for an extra layer of intractability.

Rusty Lake has been one of my favorite game series, and Ive been having a great time exploring the lore as new games are released. Try them for yourself and see how many secrets you can uncover!

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How to Read ‘The Vampire Chronicles’ In Order – Esquire

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The series begins with the confessions of a centuries-old vampire, told to a young reporter in New Orleans circa the 1970s. This is the ravishing story of Louis de Pointe du Lac, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner seduced into vampirism at the fangs of radiant but mercurial Lestat de Lioncourt. Sometimes friends and lovers, other times bitter enemies, Louis and Lestat salvage their strained immortal bond by turning orphaned young Claudia into their undead companion. But condemning the fast-maturing Claudia to eternal life in a childs body culminates in a shocking betrayalone whose consequences spin out across continents and decades. In this first volume of The Vampire Chronicles, Rice crafts a sensual fictive dream of sex and seduction, good and evil, death and immortality. She evokes all of it in voluptuous prose practically dripping with the bayou humidity of New Orleans, making for a true fantasia of the senses.

The beating heart of The Vampire Chronicles is Lestat de Lioncourt, Rice's beloved anti-hero. He takes center stage in The Vampire Lestat, which opens with an audacious frame device: after decades of slumber, Lestat awakens in the 1980s to the seductive sound of heavy metal. Determined to achieve international superstardom and reveal the secretive vampire race to the human world, Lestat commandeers a rock band (which hes modestly re-named The Vampire Lestat) and pens his autobiography. From here, the novel rolls back the clock to his youth as the son of a nobleman in pre-Revolution France, his transformation into a vampire at the hands of Magnus, his quest to understand the ancient origins of vampires, and even a rehash of Interview With the Vampire, told through his eyes. If Interview With the Vampire didnt make you fall in love with Lestat, then youll be powerless to resist his charms in this volume. Youll also leave with a new understanding of just how he came by the nickname of The Brat Prince.



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Whats a bored vampire to do but become a glam metal superstar? The frame device of The Vampire Lestat continues in The Queen of the Damned, but this third volume of the series marks a major leap forward: here, Rices detailed vampire mythos comes into view. When the 6,000-year-old mother of all vampires, Akasha, is awakened by Lestats dulcet tones, she mobilizes her plan to save mankind, unleash global carnage, and destroy Lestat. The novel reaches deep into ancient Egypt, with Rice unspooling a spellbinding origin story for Akasha and all of vampire-kind. She also introduces the Talamasca, a secret society of psychic detectives who watch over the worlds paranormal creatures, as well as their leader, David Talbot. For some readers, the journey can end here, as its widely acknowledged that the first three volumes are the series best. But for those who are motivated to continue, the lore only gets deeper and richer from here.

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If your interest in The Vampire Chronicles extends only so far as the Anne Rice Cinematic Universe, then its time for you to exit through the gift shop. But if youve been thoroughly bewitched by now, press on with this crime caper wrapped in a vampiric existential crisis. Plagued by despair and loneliness, a tormented Lestat makes a deal with a body-swapper in a bid to regain his humanity, just for one daybut little does Lestat know, this con man has no intention of swapping back. So begins Lestats globe-trotting scheme to restore himself to his body, but along the way, he stumbles into some downright comedic misadventures. After centuries of superpowered life, Lestats re-entry to human frailty is hilariously bumpy: he nearly dies of pneumonia, he falls madly in love with the nun nursing him, and he struggles to use indoor plumbing (cut the guy some slackhe hasnt defecated since the 1700s). In a series packed with darker fare, the light touch of The Tale of the Body Thief is a welcome respite.

It was only a matter of time before word of Lestats exploits traveled. In the fifth volume of the series, the Devil himself comes knocking to offer Lestat a job. Whisking our favorite bloodsucker away on a whirlwind tour of heaven and hell, he narrates a theological history that falls into lockstep with the vampiric lore laid out in The Queen of the Damned. Lestat returns from his cosmological journey with the Veil of Veronica, ignites a global religious movement, and promptly falls into a long vampiric coma. Some say that Rice jumped the shark with this, her most controversial installment of The Vampire Chronicles. Notably, Memnoch the Devil sees Lestat sink his fangs into Christ on the cross; it also includes a lurid scene wherein Lestat consumes a womans menstrual blood. Well let you decide which scene is more unforgettable.



Armand, a debonair vampire frequently seen in Louis and Lestats orbit, finally takes flight in Book Six. Here, Armand unspools his peripatetic backstory, from a boyhood in Kiev Rus to captivity in Constantinople to a new life in Renaissance-era Venice, where hes sold into the famed painter Marius harem of boys. After Marius gives Armand the Dark Gift, the novel moves through centuries of sumptuous dramatic history, from fin de sicle Paris to present-day New Orleans. Armand makes for an emotive and romantic storyteller in this memorable tale of sex, art, and salvation.

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Youve got to hand it to Anne Rice: she was serving up crossover events long before they were cool. The Vampire Chronicles converges with The Lives of the Mayfair Witches in Merrick, which sees Louis head home to New Orleans to confront the series original sin: the vampiric transformation of Claudia. Haunted by Claudias spirit years after her destruction, Louis turns to the powerful witch Merrick Mayfair to commune with Claudias vengeful ghost, but the sance has near-fatal results. Narrated by fan favorite David Talbot, Merrick brings dark beauty to its heady blend of magic, witchcraft, and life after death.

In Anne Rice-landia, everyone gets a backstoryand every storyteller gets an amanuensis. Volume Eight finds Armands maker Marius telling tales to Thorne, an ancient Nordic vampire newly awakened after spending centuries frozen in a block of ice. Marius details what it was like to live through the rise and fall of many empires, from Rome to Byzantium to Italys Renaissance years of blood and gold. Throughout it all, he collides with major players like Akasha and Lestat, adding ever more richness to the series' lore. For readers who admire Rices miraculous gift for sculpting history with texture and liveliness, Blood and Gold is a true treasure.

The crossover that began with Merrick continues in Blackwood Farm, as Rice blends the ghostly delights of the Mayfair Witches saga with the familiar Vampire Chronicles formula. Here, she takes us to a macabre new setting: Blackwood Manor, located deep in the haunted Sugar Devil Swamp, where novice vampire Quinn Blackwood enjoys erotic encounters with the ghosts in his family home and suffers the attacks of a doppelgnger spirit. Only one man can help Quinn shake his spectral problem. You guessed it: Lestat (with an assist from Merrick Mayfair). Rich in historical flair, Blackwood Farm includes vivid flashbacks to gory vampiric encounters in ancient Athens, Pompeii, and 19th century Naples. After a few volumes of globe-trotting, this installment marks Rices welcome return to the swampy, steamy, witchy bayou she knows best.

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In Blood Canticle, Lestat narrates for the first time since the much-maligned Memnoch the Devil, opening the book with an indignant metafictional salvo: What the hell happened when I gave you Memnoch the Devil? he exclaims, peevish as ever. You complained! Like Memnoch before it, Blood Canticle suffered a rocky landing. After hundreds of Amazon reviewers panned the book, Rice fired back: Your stupid, arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander, she wrote. You have used the site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehoods and lies. Well let you be the judge of the novels success. Its classic Vampire Chronicles melodrama, with Lestat once again seeking redemptionbut this time, he bestows the Dark Gift on a dying woman, falls in love with a Mayfair witch, and aspires to become a holy saint. Just another day in the vampiric life, right?

Eleven years after she vowed to end the series with Blood Canticle, Rice just couldnt quit her fanged favorites, so she came roaring back with Prince Lestat. The authors son and literary executor, the novelist Christopher Rice, has called this volume a true sequel to The Queen of the Damned. Many of the characters introduced in The Queen of the Damned return here, including David Talbot and Akashas ancient Egyptian enemies, Maharet and Mekare. Obsessed with his iPod and playing Bon Jovi on repeat (yes, seriously), Lestat is disturbed from his rock star reverie by desperate pleas to save the vampiric community from civil war. Prince Lestat proves that despite Rices intentions to hang up her quill, the series still had some venom leftits a satisfying battle royale for a sprawling cast of familiar favorites.



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Described by Rice as one of her greatest personal adventures, the penultimate volume of the series sends Lestat into even stranger territory than heaven or hell: this time, he descends into the lost realm of Atlantis, courtesy of the ancient spirit taking up residence in his body. And just when you thought the lore couldnt get any more outrageous, Rice adds aliens to the mix. Yes, you heard that right. The lost city of Atlantis, it turns out, was inhabited by extraterrestrial creatures called replimoidsand their secrets may unlock enduring mysteries about the origin of vampires. Dismayed by Rices efforts to retcon aliens into her vampiric lore, many readers dismissed this volume as a trainwreck. If youre a purist about Rices lore, feel free to skip itbut if you can reframe it as a kooky diversion, theres plenty of excitement and gore to be had here.

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The series ends with the ultimate showdown for vampire-kind, featuring the welcome return of beloved characters like Louis, Armand, and Marius. In this final volume, we find Lestat a changed man: no longer the arrogant Brat Prince or the rebellious rock star, he now presides over his community of vampires (the Blood Communion) with an ethos of love, hope, and pacifism. But when ancient foes mount a formidable threat, Lestat and his followers must defend their way of life to preserve the future of the vampire race. This volume is shorter and talkier than Rices standard fareand as such, lacking in the lavish flights of description for which the author is so belovedbut still, its rich in passion and violence, love and hate, damnation and salvation. Leave it to Rice to bring the series home with a blood-soaked conclusion that bites back.

Books and Fiction Editor

Adrienne Westenfeld is the Books and Fiction Editor at Esquire, where she oversees books coverage, edits fiction, and curates the Esquire Book Club.

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10 Best Horror Movies Based On Latin American Folklore – Screen Rant

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For many years, Latin American horror cinema has made significant contributions to the genre by drawing from the diverse folklore and urban legends across the region. In recent decades, it has emerged as a large presence, resonating on a global scale thanks to the age of streaming. With its diverse cultures and rich traditions, Latin America's cinematic offerings have created intricate narratives. Naturally, each country has its own urban legends and myths, and not all of them apply to all of them. That said, some of the best directors in the genre have been directly or indirectly inspired by Latin American folklore and cinematic language.

Latin American stories, legends, and folklore are often known for magical realism, infusing the supernatural into the everyday. This cultural art form seamlessly lends itself to the horror genre. The mix of the ordinary and the supernatural creates an immersive and unsettling atmosphere that usually leads to great horror movies. The result is a rich cinematic experience, where ancient myths and contemporary fears coexist, both in movies from Latino filmmakers and productions from other regions.

Issa Lopez's 2017 film, also known as Vuelven, effectively uses Latin American folklore, with a primary focus on the Huay Chivo legend, as a metaphor and allegorical narrative. The story creatively mixes horror, fantasy, and magical realism, while shedding light on the pressing issue of street violence's impact on children across Latin America. Huay Chivo is a malevolent and shape-shifting being who dwells in mountains and forests, preying on unsuspecting victims. It possesses the ability to take on the forms of different humans in order to deceive. Much like the cautionary nature of the Huay Chivo legend, the film echoes the warning to exercise caution in the face of the unknown.

La Llorona draws inspiration from the well-known character of Mexican folklore, La Llorona, or The Crying Woman. The legend tells the story of a woman who is seen and heard looking for her children, crying in pain, and seeking revenge. The 2019 Guatemalan film explores the legend but with a twist. A dictator, responsible for the brutal genocide of native Mayans, is also haunted by a weeping woman, the embodiment of all those who were killed by his orders. The Legend of La Llororna has inspired many other films, including The Conjuring Universe's The Curse of La Llorona, and the 2006 Mexican film Kilmetro 31.

While this film doesn't explicitly mention a particular folklore figure or legend, The Old Ways draws inspiration from the broader belief systems and supernatural practices found in Mexican and other Latin American cultures, specifically brujera (witchcraft) and shamanism. The film explores themes of possession, exorcism, and the practice of brujera to fix what is deemed wrong. The film tells the story of Cristina, a Mexican journalist seeking to explore the world of brujera. Her trip takes a terrifying turn when she's abducted by locals who perceive her as evil. For those who enjoy this genre of horror, The Old Ways offers an interesting look from the Latin perspective.

Intertwining horror, Panamanian culture, and local legends, Diablo Rojo PTY is a chilling film that pays homage to the legend of La Tulivieja. Panama's first foray into horror cinema, Diablo Rojo PTY successfully blends folklore and urban legends into a spine-tingling narrative. This Panamanian film follows a group of travelers on a journey through the jungle of Chiriqui, Panama, as they become the target of a malevolent witch. Their only sanctuary is the bus they're traveling in, known as a "Diablo Rojo." Inspired by the rich tapestry of Panamanian folklore, specifically the legend of La Tulivieja, the film takes audiences into the core of this vengeful spirit's wrath.

La Casa Lobo, or The Wolf House is a story inspired not by creepy folklore, but the real-life story of Colonia Dignidad, a secretive, cult-like commune in Chile led by a German ex-Nazi, Paul Schfer. The film follows Maria, a young woman who escapes from a cult and takes refuge in a mysterious house in the woods. Inside the house, she begins to experience disturbing events, which serve as an allegorical exploration of the trauma and horror associated with Colonia Dignidad. La Casa Lobo uses stop-motion animation to create a nightmarish atmosphere and seamlessly weaves historical elements into its narrative.

While vampires are not specific to Latin American folklore, seeing vampires through this lens makes this film worthwhile. Pura Sangre, or Pure Blood, is a Colombian film that offers a distinctive take on vampires. Directed by Luis Ospina, the film centers on a wealthy man afflicted with an unusual ailment that requires regular blood transfusions from children and teenagers. This story is based on unsolved murders that took place in Colombia. There is a myth that the person presumed responsible was a wealthy man who suffered from leukemia. In order to survive, the alleged man survived on the blood of his victims, lending to the vampire inspiration for this film.

Related: 25 Best Vampires (That Aren't Dracula)

Madres explores the concept of El Cuco, a figure deeply rooted in Hispanic and Latin American folklore. El Cuco, or The Boogeyman in English, is a monster or spirit used to frighten children into good behavior. In the film, the story revolves around a Mexican-American mother who is tormented by the belief that El Cuco is targeting her son. The film gives insight into the psychological aspects of motherhood, incorporating elements of folklore with the modern immigrant experience in the United States. While Madres primarily focuses on the psychological and supernatural aspects of motherhood, it does incorporate elements of folklore to create a chilling and culturally relevant horror film.

Another film that focuses on the legend of El Cuco, or The Boogeyman and Brujeria is Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, the fifth installment in the franchise. The movie takes a different approach in the Paranormal Activity timeline by shifting the focus from the original suburban setting to exploring a predominantly Hispanic community in Southern California. While it's primarily a found footage-style horror film, it still is able to seamlessly incorporate elements of Latin American folklore related to witchcraft and possession. It explores themes of black magic, curses, and supernatural entities, making it a unique entry in the series.

Cronos is a 1993 Mexican horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro, and it is his feature film debut. The movie is known for its unique take on the vampire genre and its exploration of myths related to immortality and alchemy, which are relevant in many cultures worldwide, including Latin America. The story revolves around an ancient device called the Cronos device that gives its user immortality. Cronos draws on elements of alchemical folklore, weaving it into a story of immortality, obsession, and transformation. The film delivers horror with a deep exploration of the human desire for eternal life and the consequences that come with it.

Director AJ Jones brings Colombian folklore to life in The Curse of La Patasola, a film that offers a fresh take on a well-known South American monster. As two American couples venture into a deserted forest, issues of infidelity, trust, and loyalty arise, but they soon become prey to La Patasola, a vengeful female creature who lures unfaithful men to their doom. The Curse of La Patasola offers a thrilling option for creature feature enthusiasts, blending American filmmaking with Latin American folklore.

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10 Wolverine Villains The MCU Can Finally Introduce – Screen Rant

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Wolverine is finally coming to the MCU, and the famed X-Men member has no shortage of villains he could face off against. Almost 25 years after Hugh Jackman first brought him to life in Fox's X-Men film series and over 15 years after the start of the MCU with the release of the first Iron Man movie, the beast-like hero will become MCU canon, starring with Wade Wilson in Deadpool 3. Ever since Disney acquired Fox, and with it, the rights to the X-Men, there has been much speculation about the direction Marvel would take in order to consolidate all of its characters into one franchise.

With regard to Wolverine, there is a lot of potential for Marvel to put him up against some really powerful, captivating villains. With Wolverine's adamantium skeleton and regenerative healing factor granting him near invulnerability, the MCU's take on his story could lead to some incredible fight scenes and battles with the villains they end up choosing. While many villains have already been brought to life in the original X-Men film series, there are many others that are still only in the comics that would make great additions to the MCU. Here are ten of these villains and the roles they could play in the MCU's future.

Due to an ancient curse, if any person consumes human flesh in the Canadian wilderness, they are forced to become a furry, humanoid beast called the Wendigo. In the comics, the curse afflicts a man named Paul Cartier, whom the Canadian government sends Wolverine to subdue. Wolverine arrives to see Paul fighting the Hulk. This crossover between a major Avenger and X-Man likely explains why this villain never appeared before on-screen. Now that Disney owns the rights to both sets of Marvel superheroes, and has surviving versions of Hulk and Wolverine in the MCU, it could introduce the Wendigo as a way for them to meet each other.

Related: Every X-Men Movie, Ranked Worst To Best

Ogun in the comics is a ninja and master of the mystic arts that starts off as Wolverine's mentor, teaching him how to control his animal urges. Ogun soon discovers a technique to cheat death through the possession of other people's bodies, and he tries to possess Wolverine, causing them to become adversaries. Ogun is similar to Professor X as a telepath and father figure to Wolverine, so it makes sense that he has not been introduced. But as the MCU further explores alternate timelines, it could explore Wolverine and Ogun's dynamic in the comics, diving into Wolverines relationship with his powers and how he copes with Oguns betrayal.

Daken is Wolverine's long-lost son who, after the death of his mother Itsu, was raised by a wealthy couple in Japan. After his adoptive family dies, Daken, a mutant with similar abilities to his father, spends much of his life as a cold-blooded villain who is manipulated into seeking revenge on Wolverine. Itsu was never introduced as a cinematic love interest for Wolverine, so Daken hasn't appeared on-screen. The MCU could chart his journey from villain to morally gray antihero, similar to how it did with Loki.

The Gorgon in Marvel comics is a god-hating, exceptionally intelligent mutant who forms his own death cult. He kills his own family to prove his worthiness and loyalty to the ancient ninja organization the Hand, which he joins and eventually leads. In the comics, the Hand lures Wolverine into a trap, and Gorgon brainwashes Wolverine into becoming an agent of Hyrda, with whom Gorgon has an alliance. Introducing the Gorgon would give Marvel the opportunity to expand more on the history of two, powerful villainous organizations that are already MCU canon, Hydra and the Hand, and how they transformed as they were forced to take their operations underground.

Before becoming the villain known as Cyber, in the comics, Silas Burr was a murderer with a notable talent for pushing men beyond their emotional limits. He was recruited to become commander of a Canadian Army unit by the mysterious Romulus. There he meets and brutally tortures Wolverine into becoming an animalistic killing machine, even going as far as to kill Wolverine's love interest Janet to scare Wolverine into not caring for anyone. Cyber beats Wolverine so severely that he becomes one of the only villains Wolverine truly fears, which would be a compelling emotional arc for the MCU to explore for such a stoic character.

Related: 7 Failed X-Men Movie Villains The MCU Can Finally Get Right

Romulus in the comics is an ancient member of the Lupines, a tribe of feral humans once believed to have been descendant from canines. Not only does he take Wolverine's son Daken and raise him to be a ruthless killer, he also secretly manipulates Wolverine his entire life. Romulus's ultimate goal is for Wolverine to fight Daken to the death so that one of them could take his place at the top of the food chain. Wolverine in the X-Men movies struggled with humans trying to control him and make him into an animal, so the MCU could explore how Wolverine handles someone with a very similar background to him doing the same thing.

Lazaer was introduced in Marvel Comics as the Angel of Death, responsible for sending souls to the afterlife and killing those who don't follow death's rules, be it cheating death or inflicting someone's death before their time. He became a recurrent foe for Wolverine after Wolverine suffered a near-death experience but was able to fight Azrael off. Every time Wolverine has a near-death experience, he must face off against Azrael to keep his life. Previous films like Logan have explored how Wolverine's healing factor, and subsequent near-immortality, can be corrupted, so the MCU could introduce a version of Wolverine with a weakened healing factor that struggles to fight off Lazaer.

17th-century surgeon Zachariah Ravenscraft was close to death when a spell was put on him, transforming him into a vampire-like creature who is trapped between life and death. Dagoo, the person who made Zachariah that way, tells him that the blood of an immortal is the only way the spell can be undone. Becoming Bloodscream, Zachariah eventually comes across Wolverine during World War II and is convinced that Wolverine is immortal and starts hunting him, but Wolverine is able to get away. Because vampires are now MCU canon, the franchise has ample opportunity to have Wolverine face off against Bloodscream while working with fan favorites like Blade.

Old Man Logan, an aged, weathered version of Wolverine in the comics, has fought Maestro, a villainous version of the Hulk from an alternate future, multiple times. Old Man Logan has a compromised healing factor, leading to him not being able to recover as quickly from Maestro's beatdowns. Once Logan is adequately healed, he confronts Maestro again, ultimately beheading him. The battle almost proved to be deadly for Wolverine, who nearly didn't heal from Maestro's injuries. The MCU already toyed with the idea of dark versions of heroes in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so it could expand on this idea with Maestro.

Once a vicious serial killer, mutant Arkady Rossovich was recruited to be used for the Russian super soldier program, transforming him into Omega Red. He's given carbonadium implants that start to poison him from the inside out, leading him to use them to drain people's life energy for survival and hunt Wolverine and his crew for stealing the Carbonadium Synthesizer devices that Omega Red needs. While the MCU has depicted some ruthless villains, none come close to how diabolical Omega Red is. As the MCU incorporates storylines with darker themes like much of Wolverine's, this is one villain who could be a perfect fit.

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Iterations of Immortality – Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Posted: June 30, 2023 at 4:57 pm

by David Berlinski

Editors note: We are delighted to welcome Science After Babel, the latest book from mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski. This article is adapted from Chapter 7. 

The calculus and the rich body of mathematical analysis to which it gave rise made modern science possible, but it was the algorithm that made possible the modern world. They are utterly different, these ideas. The calculus serves the imperial vision of mathematical physics. It is a vision in which the real elements of the world are revealed to be its elementary constituents: particles, forces, fields, or even a strange fused combination of space and time. Written in the language of mathematics, a single set of fearfully compressed laws describes their secret nature. The universe that emerges from this description is alien, indifferent to human desires.

The great era of mathematical physics is now over. The three-hundred-year effort to represent the material world in mathematical terms has exhausted itself. The understanding that it was to provide is infinitely closer than it was when Isaac Newton wrote in the late 17th century, but it is still infinitely far away. 

One man ages as another is born, and if time drives one idea from the field, it does so by welcoming another. The algorithm has come to occupy a central place in our imagination. It is the second great scientific idea of the West. There is no third.

An algorithm is an effective procedure  a recipe, a computer program a way of getting something done in a finite number of discrete steps. Classical mathematics contains algorithms for virtually every elementary operation. Over the course of centuries, the complex (and counterintuitive) operations of addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division have been subordinated to fixed routines. Arithmetic algorithms now exist in mechanical form; what was once an intellectual artifice has become an instrumental artifact.

The world the algorithm makes possible is retrograde in its nature to the world of mathematical physics. Its fundamental theoretical objects are symbols, and not muons, gluons, quarks, or space and time fused into a pliant knot. Algorithms are human artifacts. They belong to the world of memory and meaning, desire and design. The idea of an algorithm is as old as the dry humped hills, but it is also cunning, disguising itself in a thousand protean forms. It was only in this century that the concept of an algorithm was coaxed completely into consciousness. The work was undertaken more than sixty years ago by a quartet of brilliant mathematical logicians: Kurt Gdel, Alonzo Church, Emil Post, and A. M. Turing, whose lost eyes seem to roam anxiously over the second half of the 20th century.

If it is beauty that governs the mathematicians soul, it is truth and certainty that remind him of his duty. At the end of the 19th century, mathematicians anxious about the foundations of their subject asked themselves why mathematics was true and whether it was certain, and to their alarm discovered that they could not say and did not know. Caught between mathematical crises and their various correctives, logicians were forced to organize a new world to rival the abstract, cunning, and continuous world of the physical sciences, their work transforming the familiar and intuitive but hopelessly unclear concept of the algorithm into one both formal and precise.

Unlike Andrew Wiles, who spent years searching for a proof of Fermats last theorem, the logicians did not set out to find the concept that they found. They were simply sensitive enough to see what they spotted. We still do not know why mathematics is true and whether it is certain. But we know what we do not know in an immeasurably richer way than we did. And learning this has been a remarkable achievement, among the greatest and least known of the modern era. 

Dawn kisses the continents one after the other, and as it does a series of coded communications hustles itself along the surface of the earth, relayed from point to point by fiber-optic cables, or bouncing in a triangle from the earth to synchronous satellites, serene in the cloudless sky, and back to earth again, the great global network of computers moving chunks of data at the speed of light: stock-market indices, currency prices, gold and silver futures, news of cotton crops, rumors of war, strange tales of sexual scandal, images of men in starched white shirts stabbing at keyboards with stubby fingers or looking upward at luminescent monitors, beads of perspiration on their tensed lips. E-mail flashes from server to server, the circle of affection or adultery closing in an electronic braid; there is good news in Lisbon and bad news in Saigon. There is data everywhere and information on every conceivable topic: the way raisins are made in the Sudan, the history of the late Sung dynasty, telephone numbers of dominatrices in Los Angeles, and pictures too. A man may be whipped, scourged, and scoured without ever leaving cyberspace; he may satisfy his curiosity or his appetites, read widely in French literature, decline verbs in Sanskrit, or scan an interlinear translation of the Iliad, discovering the Greek for greave or grieve; he may search out remedies for obscure diseases, make contact with covens in South Carolina, or exchange messages with people in chat groups who believe that Princess Diana was murdered on instructions tendered by the House of Windsor, the dark demented devious old Queen herself sending the order that sealed her fate.

All of this is very interesting and very new indeed, interesting because new but however much we may feel that our senses are brimming with the debris of data, the causal nexus that has made the modern world extends in a simple line from the idea of an algorithm, as logicians conceived it in the 1930s, directly to the ever-present always-moving now; and not since the framers of the American Constitution took seriously the idea that all men are created equal has an idea so transformed the material conditions of life, the expectations of the race. 

It is the algorithm that rules the world itself, insinuating itself into every device and every discussion or diagnosis, offering advice and making decisions, maintaining its presence in every transaction, carrying out dizzying computations, arming and then aiming cruise missiles, bringing the dinosaurs back to life on film, and, like blind Tiresias, foretelling the extinction of the universe either in a cosmic crunch or in one of those flaccid affairs in which after a long time things just peter out.

The algorithm has made the fantastic and artificial world that many of us now inhabit. It also seems to have made much of the natural world, at least that part of it that is alive. The fundamental act of biological creation, the most meaningful of moist mysteries among the great manifold of moist mysteries, is the construction of an organism from a single cell. Look at it backward so that things appear in reverse (I am giving you my own perspective): Viagra discarded, hair returned, skin tightened, that unfortunate marriage zipping backward, teeth uncapped, memories of a radiant young woman running through a field of lilacs, a bicycle with fat tires, skinned knees, Kool-Aid, and New Hampshire afternoons. But where memory fades in a glimpse of the noonday sun seen from a crib in winter, the biological drama only begins, for the rosy fat and cooing creature loitering at the beginning of the journey, whose existence Im now inferring, the one improbably responding to kitchy kitchy coo, has come into the world as the result of a spectacular nine-month adventure, one beginning with a spot no larger than a pinhead and passing by means of repeated but controlled cellular divisions into an organism of rarified and intricately coordinated structures, these held together in systems, the systems in turn animated and controlled by a rich biochemical apparatus, the process of biological creation like no other seen anywhere in the universe, strange but disarmingly familiar, for when the details are stripped away, the revealed miracle seems cognate to miracles of a more familiar kind, as when something is read and understood.

Much of the schedule by which this spectacular nine-month construction is orchestrated lies resident in DNA and schedule is the appropriate word, for while the outcome of the drama is a surprise, the offspring proving to resemble his maternal uncle and his great-aunt (red hair, prominent ears), the process itself proceeds inexorably from one state to the next, and processes of this sort, which are combinatorial (cells divide), finite (it comes to an end in the noble and lovely creature answering to my name), and discrete (cells are cells), would seem to be essentially algorithmic in nature, the algorithm now making and marking its advent within the very bowels of life itself.

DNA is a double helix this everyone now knows, the image as familiar as Marilyn Monroe two separate strands linked to one another by a succession of steps so that the molecule itself looks like an ordinary ladder seen under water, the strands themselves curved and waving. Information is stored on each strand by means of four bases A, T, G, and C; these are by nature chemicals, but they function as symbols, the instruments by which a genetic message is conveyed.

A library is in place, one that stores information, and far away, where the organism itself carries on, one sees the purposes to which the information is put, an inaccessible algorithm ostensibly orchestrating the entire affair. Meaning is inscribed in molecules, and so there is something that reads and something that is read; but they are, those strings, richer by far than the richest of novels, for while Tolstoys Anna Karenina can only suggest the woman, her black hair swept into a chignon, the same message carrying the same meaning, when read by the right biochemical agencies, can bring the woman to vibrant and complaining life, reading now restored to its rightful place as a supreme act of creation.

The mechanism is simple, lucid, compelling, extraordinary. In transcription, the molecule faces outward to control the proteins. In replication, it is the internal structure of DNA that conveys secrets, not from one molecule to another but from the past into the future. At some point in the life of a cell, double-stranded DNA is cleaved, so that instead of a single ladder, two separate strands may be found waving gently, like seaweed, the bond between base pairs broken. As in the ancient stories in which human beings originally were hermaphroditic, each strand finds itself longingly incomplete, its bases unsatisfied because unbound. In time, bases attract chemical complements from the ambient broth in which they are floating, so that if a single strand of DNA contains first A and then C, chemical activity prompts a vagrant T to migrate to A, and ditto for G, which moves to C, so that ultimately the single strand acquires its full complementary base pairs. Where there was only one strand of DNA, there are now two. Naked but alive, the molecule carries on the work of humping and slithering its way into the future.

A general biological property, intelligence is exhibited in varying degrees by everything that lives, and it is intelligence that immerses living creatures in time, allowing the cat and the cockroach alike to peep into the future and remember the past. The lowly paramecium is intelligent, learning gradually to respond to electrical shocks, this quite without a brain let alone a nervous system. But like so many other psychological properties, intelligence remains elusive without an objective correlative, some public set of circumstances to which one can point with the intention of saying, There, that is what intelligence is or what intelligence is like.

The stony soil between mental and mathematical concepts is not usually thought efflorescent, but in the idea of an algorithm modern mathematics does offer an obliging witness to the very idea of intelligence. Like almost everything in mathematics, algorithms arise from an old wrinkled class of human artifacts, things so familiar in collective memory as to pass unnoticed. By now, the ideas elaborated by Gdel, Church, Turing, and Post have passed entirely into the body of mathematics, where themes and dreams and definitions are all immured, but the essential idea of an algorithm blazes forth from any digital computer, the unfolding of genius having passed inexorably from Gdels incompleteness theorem to Space Invaders VII rattling on an arcade Atari, a progression suggesting something both melancholy and exuberant about our culture.

The computer is a machine, and so belongs to the class of things in nature that do something; but the computer is also a device dividing itself into aspects, symbols set into software to the left, the hardware needed to read, store, and manipulate the software to the right. This division of labor is unique among man-made artifacts: it suggests the mind immersed within the brain, the soul within the body, the presence anywhere of spirit in matter. An algorithm is thus an ambidextrous artifact, residing at the heart of both artificial and human intelligence. Computer science and the computational theory of mind appeal to precisely the same garden of branching forks to explain what computers do or what men can do or what in the tide of time they have done.

Molecular biology has revealed that whatever else it may be, a living creature is also a combinatorial system, its organization controlled by a strange, hidden, and obscure text, one written in a biochemical code. It is an algorithm that lies at the humming heart of life, ferrying information from one set of symbols (the nucleic acids) to another (the proteins).

The complexity of human artifacts, the things that human beings make, finds its explanation in human intelligence. The intelligence responsible for the construction of complex artifacts watches, computers, military campaigns, federal budgets, this very essay finds its explanation in biology. Yet however invigorating it is to see the algorithmic pattern appear and reappear, especially on the molecular biological level, it is important to remember, if only because it is so often forgotten, that in very large measure we have no idea how the pattern is amplified. Yet the explanation of complexity that biology affords is largely ceremonial. At the very heart of molecular biology, a great mystery is vividly in evidence, as those symbolic forms bring an organism into existence, control its morphology and development, and slip a copy of themselves into the future.

The transaction hides a process never seen among purely physical objects, one that is characteristic of the world where computers hum and human beings attend to one another. In that world intelligence is always relative to intelligence itself, systems of symbols gaining their point from having their point gained. This is not a paradox. It is simply the way things are. Two hundred years ago the French biologist Charles Bonnet asked for an account of the mechanics which will preside over the formation of a brain, a heart, a lung, and so many other organs. No account in terms of mechanics is yet available. Information passes from the genome to the organism. Something is given and something read; something ordered and something done. But just who is doing the reading and who is executing the orders, this remains unclear.

Cross-posted at Evolution News

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Hell’s Paradise: Who Are the Tensen & Why Are They so Powerful? – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Posted: at 4:56 pm

The following contains spoilers for Hell's Paradise, now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Hell's Paradise's initial pitch is pitting a bunch of criminals on a mysterious island in search of the mythical Elixir of Life. It is supposed to be a battle royale with the successful criminal's liberty hanging as the prize. Granted, the criminals did go against each other at first. They effectively dwindled their original number to just around half, allowing the narrative to focus more on the remaining characters. But as the story progresses, both the characters and the viewers learn the sinister truth the true enemy isn't the other criminals but the mysterious creatures of the island. And these creatures wield a terrifying amount of power.

The island where the ten death row inmates were thrown is called the Shinsenkyo, and it's not the first time a group of people has been sent there. However, the previous expeditions only result in casualties. Almost nobody returns alive, and when they do, they can barely be called living. They've been infested by mystical plants, turning them into a plant-human hybrid. This time, however, the criminals finally manage to unravel one mystery after another. They discover that what truly makes Shinsenkyo terrifying is the creatures that reside on it. There are a number of deadly bugs, gigantic monsters, and fiendish humanoids. And standing on the top of its food chain is the Tensen.

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The Tensen, which are often referred to as Lord Tensen by their subordinates, isn't just one individual. In fact, the Tensen are seven mighty beings who have attained mastery over the five Immortality Training Methods. They are the ones who lead the entire Shinsenkyo, and all the island's denizens recognize them as their supreme ruler. That being said, they take turns patrolling the vicinity and taking out any unwanted visitors. In exchange, they hold absolute authority over the entire island, as well as the monopoly on the innermost part of Shinsenkyo the Horai. They are basically the revered deities of Shinsenkyo, which even the denizens of Shinsenkyo literally worship. Even though they technically have equal standing, they still follow one leader: the Tensen Rien.

Calling the Tensen deities isn't a mere exaggeration. While they possess human forms, only their appearances are human. They are terrifying creatures who possess supernatural abilities, including the capacity to change sexes at will. All of them have male and female forms, which they liberally use to commit carnal activities in the name of circulating their Tao. Their true form, however, is far from what a human being looks like. Their true forms almost have no semblance to their human forms, and it is in this form they can actually unleash the full extent of their powers. As the rulers of the mysterious Shinshenkyo, they can't be easy targets for foreign invaders.

RELATED:10 Things Shonen's Big Three Does Better Than The Dark Trio

What makes the Tensen supreme beings is the fact that they've already mastered the use of Tao. This does not only allow them to become immortals, but it also grants them superior fighting abilities. The fact that no invader has successfully seen Horai and survived is hard proof of that. And they achieve this through their masterful use of Tao.

Tao in the world of Hell's Paradise refers to the energy that flows in every living being. Though it is referred to as such in Shinsenkyo, it is also known in various forms across the verse. For instance, the shinobi refer to it as Qi, which allows them to execute their techniques. Similarly, Yamada Asaemon Shion refers to it as waves. Since their understanding of Tao differs from that of the Tensen, the others' use and mastery of it aren't at par with the Tensen.

The Tensen incorporate the use of Tao in their fighting style. They manipulate their Tao and use it as a projectile, allowing them to launch attacks invisible to the human eye. They can also visualize other people's Tao, allowing them to sense their opponent's next move. The Tensen also utilize Tao to enhance their physical abilities and, in Mei's case, manifest a barrier. However, the complexity of Tao is yet to be fully discussed in the show. The only explanation the viewers receive is Mei's ambiguous description of it: Strong, weak. Weak, strong.

RELATED:Hell's Paradise Sagiri Stares Into the Depths of Fans' Souls in Intense Cosplay

Through their mastery of Tao, the Tensen are also granted hyper-regeneration. They can almost instantly recover from what would be considered mortal wounds. Even decapitation and burning couldn't kill them, while injuries recover just as fast as they were inflicted. The only possible way of killing the Tensen is by attacking their navel, where their Tao is concentrated.

While the usage of Tao grants the Tensen an incredible amount of power, it is not without a setback. They have to use their fighting ability in moderation, or they will have to face the consequences. And the consequence seems to be rapid aging, especially when the Tensen manifests their true forms. Viewers have already witnessed this during Gabimaru's fight against Zhu Jin. When the rogue ninja pushed the Tensen to their limit, Zhu Jin was forced to show Gabimaru their true form. They shed their human husk and transformed into a plant-like monster. This transformation boosted their fighting abilities, and Zhu Jin almost managed to eliminate Gabimaru. But after that, Zhu Jin's youth vanished, and they became old and decrepit.

However, old age isn't a death sentence to the Tensen. They naturally have the means to counter it Tan. Tan is the Elixir of Life that the criminals have arduously been searching for. The Tensen consume Tan in order to maintain their youth and immortality. In order to create Tan, they require humans as ingredients. The stronger the human, the better. It's through the combination of these forces that Hell's Paradise main antagonists become frighteningly powerful.

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Digital immortality, #DeathTok and the future of death – WGSN

Posted: at 4:56 pm

Is talking about death still taboo today? WGSN opens a conversation to explore the shifting mindsets about death and dying.

As the world grapples with the pandemic and ageing populations, the topic of death has come to the fore. People are feeling more comfortable discussing death; some even embrace it, as seen from those making funeral arrangements to the rise of #DeathTok.

In this episode, WGSNs CEO Carla Buzasi speaks to Allyson Rees, Senior Strategist on WGSN Insight, to explore the key issues impacting consumer attitudes and how theyre responding, from a death curriculum in China to a US festival that helps people plan for their death and beyond.

Allyson also co-authored our report on The Future of Death, which examines the key issues that will shape the ideas, rituals and economy of death in 2023 and beyond. Request a demo with WGSN to discover how your brand can support the conversation on death via new grief rituals, achieving digital immortality and more.

In Japan seizens is the act of staging your own death while you are alive. This practice helps older people take ownership of their death celebration and remove that burden from the family. Everything gets planned then, including the financial aspect of things. This is allowing people to plan for the death and the funeral that they want.

Theres been a movement towards alternatives to cremation. We talk about terramation, which is also known as human composting. This uses a fraction of the energy that is required for cremation. It takes about eight to 12 weeks and it turns a corpse into rich soil, which is something that we need.

There is a growing awareness about what happens to our digital life after we die. The Oxford Internet Institute estimates that theres going to be more Facebook accounts belonging to the deceased than living people by the year 2100. And theyre estimating about 3.6 billion profiles. Allyson Rees, Senior Strategist, WGSN Insight

Head to Apple or Spotify to hear the full discussion on our Lives of Tomorrow podcast episode, The Future of Death.

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Hilarious Giannis Antetokounmpo Jumps $174 Billion Brand to … – The Sportsrush

Posted: at 4:56 pm

Giannis Antetokounmpo is known as the Greek Freak because of his dominance on the court. But off the hardwood floor, Giannis is a hilarious human being. Known for his goofy antics on social media, the 2021 NBA Champion recently leaked some classified information on Instagram. Sharing a video of a practice session, Giannis jumped Nike a $174 billion brand, and revealed his new sneakers. All while commenting on how great they are as he awkwardly sniffed them.

Instagram has long been Giannis favored social media platform. And, when he does post, the content is always one of two things. Either its him working hard in training or a video of him that leaves his fans in stitches. Well, it just so happens that his most recent post encompassed both, but at Nikes expense.

Sneakerheads usually wait months in anticipation of sneaker drops. This is especially true when these shoes belong to some of the best players in the world. So, more often than not companies like to keep things under lock and key, and hopefully capitalize on the hype surrounding them.

However, there are times when things dont go as planned. Like when details of a shoe get leaked or, in some cases, when the player himself gives fans a sneak peek. This is exactly what happened with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Greek Freak recently shared a video on Instagram that got a lot of chuckles. After just finishing up a training session, Giannis was seen sniffing his shoes on the bench. As he explained to his 15.2 million followers, you can tell if a shoe is good based on its smell. It was only mid-sniff that he realized he had his new Immortality 3s in hand.

This is my favorite shoe. It even smells good. You know how a shoe becomes your favorite shoe? Obviously I dont know if we can showcase this right now butwe dont care! Instead of other people leaking our shoeyou know how a shoe is good? When you smell that s*itwhen you sniff it and it smells the right way. Thats how you know! Immortality 3. Its coming. On the way!

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The execs at Nike probably arent going to be happy about it, but what can they do? After all, this is one of their bonafide superstars leaking a shoe that he loves to smell and just so happens to be very affordable.

Well, the secret is out, Giannis Antetokounmpos new shoes, the Nike Immortality 3s not only smell good but they look good as well. Whats more, the shoe is also extremely affordable. Retailing at just $85, the Immortality 3s are one of Nikes most affordable shoes and its all thanks to the Greek Freak.

Giannis didnt exactly have it easy growing up. He was poor and had to work hard to get to where he is today. So, he decided to make a shoe that everyone who follows and supports him could buy.

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He truly is a man of the people. And while he does do some hilarious things that could get him in trouble with Nike, his fans will be forever grateful for it.

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What Foods Contain Aspartame? What You Need to Know – Green Matters

Posted: at 4:56 pm

The artificial sweetener aspartame is the subject of a cancer research study by the World Health Organization. What foods contain aspartame?

For most food products, especially soda products, every brand has a "zero sugar" or artificial sweetener option. However, those who thought Diet Coke was a healthier alternative to the full-sugar Coca-Cola might want to rethink their stance.

On June 29, 2023, Reuters reported that the World Health Organization (WHO)'s cancer research agency may declare aspartame, an artificial sweetener typically found in Diet Coke, a possible carcinogen in July 2023.

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What foods contain aspartame? Are there any diet sodas that do not contain aspartame? Can you safely consume small amounts of aspartame? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the sugar substitute, including exclusive insight from a board-certified cardiologist.

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In late June 2023, Reuters published a report on aspartame. According to Reuters, two sources claim that in July 2023, aspartame will be declared "possibly carcinogenic to humans" for the first time by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the WHO's cancer research arm.

"Aspartame has been suspected as a potential carcinogen, meaning a substance that often dose dependent might induce mutagenesis, the development of certain cancers," Dr. Ernst von Schwarz, author of The Secrets of Immortality, explains to Green Matters via email.

Dr. von Schwarz is also a triple board-certified internist and cardiologist, holding positions at at Cedars-Sinai, UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, and the Southern California Hospital Heart Institute.

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That said, Dr. von Schwarz notes that the new findings are only in relation to animal experiments, and that not much human data on the topic is available.

Overall, the WHO's new guidelines don't "mean that everyone who consumes aspartame as an artificial sweetener will develop cancer, but its risk in high and repeated doses might be comparable to the risk of a smoker developing cancer," according to Dr. von Schwarz.

Aspartame was previously approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for product use and declared "safe for the general population."

According to CBS News, there are nearly 6,000 products currently for sale in the U.S. that contain aspartame. The artificial sweetener first surfaced in 1981 under names such as Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin.

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The most common foods that contain aspartame include:

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Unfortunately, Reuters says that the IARC ruling on aspartame does not consider how much of the product humans can safely consume. Advice on safe amounts of aspartame would come from a different committee known as JECFA (the Joint WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization's Expert Committee on Food Additives). Luckily, JECFA is compiling their own research on aspartame, and will release their report on July 14, 2023.

That said, Reuters reports that since 1981, IARC said aspartame is safe to consume daily within reason. For example, an adult weighing 132 pounds would have to drink between 12-32 cans of diet soda to be considered at risk.

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Similarly, the FDA's acceptable daily limit on artificial sweeteners says that adults weighing 150 pounds would have to drink more than 18 cans of sodas with aspartame daily to experience the negative effects.

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There are a few diet sodas without aspartame; most notably, Diet Pepsi announced it would no longer use aspartame in 2020. Other diet sodas without aspartame include:

Dr. von Schwarz notes that Dr. Deidre Tobias, a nutritionist at Harvard University, told The Daily Mail that there may not be enough evidence that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are not necessarily worse than regular sugar, since sugar has been linked to so many serious conditions, like obesity, heart disease, and strokes.

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Additionally, "sugar is highly addictive, and not only a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, but likely also for several chronic inflammatory conditions," Dr. von Schwarz tells Green Matters.

Overall, Dr. von Schwarz's advice regarding how to sweeten things up is to "avoid artificial sweeteners, and reduce sugar consumption in general, in combination with daily physical activities."

This article, originally published on June 30, 2023, at 10:38 a.m. ET, has been updated to include commentary from Dr. Ernst von Schwarz.

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