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Category Archives: Futurism

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

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 10:23 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: at 10:23 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Othersare calling for more time before popping the champagne corks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: at 10:23 am

Balloon Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: at 10:23 am

Space Nukes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: at 10:23 am

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

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

Posted: at 10:23 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘Optimism tinged with anxiety’: What to expect from the next 100 days of COVID-19, according to experts – Mayerthorpe Freelancer

Posted: at 10:23 am

Whats keeping you awake at night? Thats the question we put to doctors, scientists, philosophers, psychologists, futurists, microbiologists and bioethicists, 100 days after theWorld Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. We asked the experts what theyre anticipating for the next 100 days, what we should do differently, what worries them most. Things have changed at such manic speed in the past three months, its difficult to predict what the next 100 days will yield, said McGill Universitys Samuel Veissire. Below, Veissire and others reflect on the challenges ahead. Their responses have been edited for clarity and length.

On compliance fatigue, social isolation and the politics of a pandemic:

Im worried about future waves being imminent, maybe not even waves, but just this steady, persistent (viral activity).How do we sustain what were doing? Its so important for mental health to have livelihoods. To continue to function. I dont know what the answer is. That kind of keeps me awake. Dr. Samira Mubareka, virologist and infectious diseases doctor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto

As summer arrives, lockdown-weary people will increasingly flock to parks, beaches. Protest rallies and, south of the border, political rallies will bring people together in large numbers. This could prolong the current wave of infection or even spur a second wave. Paradoxically, efforts to combat one social problem (protest rallies to combat racism) could exacerbate another social problem (the spread of COVID-19). Unlike the 1918 flu pandemic, in which the sight of coffins was an everyday occurrence, COVID-19 is largely a hidden pandemic, where the sick and dying are sequestered in hospitals, and coffins are nowhere to be seen. This can lead people to underestimate the seriousness of the current pandemic. Dr. Steven Taylor, professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia

Politics and social polarization is what worries me the most. Before the pandemic some of us had predicted that 2020 would be the year of reason and reconciliation in the culture wars. We couldnt have been more wrong. For a few weeks, as the world ground to a halt, trying to make sense of the new threat posed by the virus, people everywhere appeared to be uniting in ways never seen before. This sadly didnt last. As everything from epidemiology, mathematical modelling, mask wearing, treatment options and whether or not to lock down became politicized, the already-polarized left-right divide took a sharper turn toward irreconcilable divisions. The recent wave of protests condemning racism and police brutality gave millions of young people worldwide a much-needed sense of purpose and justice after months of terrifying isolation, but it also reinforced the tribalization of politics that had been underway since the Trump election. Samuel Veissire, co-director, Culture, Mind and Brain Program at McGill University

On bringing patients back:

I worry about all the triaging of non-COVID activity that weve done, shutting down all sorts of cardiac and cancer and transplant care in order to potentially look after COVID patients, and the adverse effects patients have suffered because of that. I worry about this balance of trying to ramp up and catch up with all the non-emergency activity that we shut down, with the ongoing burden of COVID disease in our ICU. Dr. Niall Ferguson, head of critical care at Torontos University Health Network

On a dreaded second wave:

I worry about big, rebounding second waves if all these physical distancing things are taken less seriously, orwhen kids go back to daycare or school. Nobody knows how important a vector they might be. Ferguson

I look at the next 100 days with optimism tinged with anxiety. What keeps me up at night is that, as the memory of the catastrophic events in Spain, Italy and N.Y.C. fades, people will take this disease lightly. We are seeing resurgences of the virus in places like Beijing and some U.S. states, and Canada is not immune from that. But until we have a vaccine we have to be vigilant as a population. Dr. Wael Haddara, chair/chief of critical care medicine at London Health Sciences Centre

On long-term care homes:

Im looking ahead to how institutional custodial care will change for the better. But that wont happen in the next 100 days. What is happening is reintroducing family visits in Ontarios LTCs after 100 days of isolation. This hard lockdown on already isolated people has had a devastating impact even in homes where basic care needs were still provided adequately. Many residents have declined significantly. New family visits will require face masks and keeping a two-metre distance. Many elderly residents cannot see their family at two metres away, cannot hear what they are saying through a mask, and often have dementia, making the strange meetings very distressing. There is evidence of successful closer encounters with screening and testing in place coming from the Netherlands. I hope our government will explore kinder options. Our elderly have been through a lot and deserve the comfort of family. Maya Goldenberg, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph

On the anxiety of the unknown:

I can tell you exactly what keeps me up at night: Neurology resident Dr. Chris Freehan and I have been talking and writing about pre-traumatic stress disorder, the stress of waiting for the next surge in the pandemic, preparing for the unknown, anticipating the morally challenging decisions that will accompany a resurgence, where it will be, why, how do we keep frontline healthcare workers mentally healthy when they are already fragile how do we keep growing individual and societal anxiety under control, while tensions and frustrations about the continued need to distance ourselves from loved ones and others continue. Judy Illes, professor of neurology and Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics at UBC

What we will or should do differently is start waking up to the fact that we are all connected to the point that our individual and collective fate ... is inseparable

On the likelihood of reverse zoonosis:

The other thing that keeps me awake now is, humans are the most abundant species on the planet. This virus is circulating broadly amongst us. The likelihood of a reverse zoonosis, or spill over back into wildlife is a concern. (In June, Dutch mink farms began a government-ordered cull over concerns minks infected with coronavirus could transmit it to humans.) If the virus establishes itself in a wildlife reservoir, it can change enough that if it spills back over into humans, we can have resurgent disease. Were not really doing much in the way of surveillance of wildlife or protection of wildlife to make sure that doesnt happen. Mubareka

On the hunt for a vaccine:

My biggest concern relates to our collective ability in the coming months to a year to determine what is the most effective vaccine, how will we be able to produce sufficient quantities for Canada and across the world, and how we can push corporate and government interests aside for collaboration and cooperation for testing and production. As the numbers of cases decrease around most of the high income countries, we will need to turn for support to the lower income countries to test these vaccines in a safe and ethical manner for efficacy, and ensure that the vaccine will then be distributed across the globe. We cannot give up this time like we have with SARS and MERS in the past. This virus will be with us for a long time. Eric Arts, professor of microbiology and immunology at Western University in London

There is a growing anti-vaccination sentiment in Canada and the U.S. Our most recent research indicates 20 per cent of Canadians, and 25 per cent of Americans would not get vaccinated. If those numbers continue to grow, that will seriously undermine the effects of vaccination for battling the coronavirus. Taylor

On what we need to do now:

Im not a public health doctor, but Im certainly supportive of everyone wearing a mask when theyre out in public, especially in a closed indoor environment. Universal masking would be very helpful. Ventilators and drugs and PPE, and lack therefore, are other things that keep me up at night. Hopefully well have all those things somewhat better sorted out if things get worse again in the coming months. The burn rate through (PPE) is constant. Ferguson

The next 100 days will bring us up to the start of the school year. While (Ontario Education Minister Stephen) Lecce has signalled that Ontario kids will be back in the classroom in September, school boards have not been given direction on how to prepare, teachers have not been consulted. Lecce has promised for a late June update, but this is not giving school boards enough time to plan for challenges. Goldenberg

What we will or should do differently is start waking up to the fact that we are all connected to the point that our individual and collective fate pandemics, global warming, nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence is inseparable from that of those living on the other end of the world. And this is where we can find an opportunity to start developing what the Dalai Lama calls a sense of oneness. Because the major 21st century problems cannot be solved within borders with the traditional me vs. you, or us vs. them mindset, but require a unified global approach that can come only after we stop seeing ourselves as different. futurist Nikola Danaylov

Its difficult to predict what the next 100 days will yield. While we need to remain cautious and take cues from our public health authorities, we have reason to believe that the worst days of the pandemic are over in Canada, and that a brighter summer than previously anticipated lies ahead. At the same time, social, economic and psychological sequela from the lockdowns are also likely to endure for a while. The biggest challenge for the next 100 days will be to take conversations offline, depoliticize everyday life and rediscover the shared humanity and solidarity that seemed to have been awoken in the pandemic early days. Veissire

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Bree Runway: Without sounding cocky, Freddie Mercury reminds me of me – The Guardian

Posted: at 10:23 am

Pop-rap superstar of the future Bree Runway is trying to unpick the reasons why her Apeshit video an eccentric update of millennium-era R&B futurism went viral. Sometimes people are scared of standing out too much, she says while Zooming from her east London bedroom. I dont feel like that, though.

Runways outre instincts, which recall the cartoonish personae of Busta Rhymes and Caught Out There-era Kelis, seemingly cant be tamed, and she has proved just as creative in quarantine. You have to push the Runway show on, she notes. For Aprils Damn Daniel video she set up a green screen and body-popped to the songs synth-funk beat, wearing a leopard body suit in homage to Shania Twains iconic 90s look.

Today, Runway, born Brenda Mensah, is surrounded by a kaleidoscope of vintage fashions, including a Ginger Spice union jack dress (3 from a charity shop). Her obsession with looking on-point goes back to when she was a kid in Hackney doing the hair of friends on her estate. We were all on the babyhair shit, she notes. But it was quite dangerous. I saw so many crazy things growing up. Ive seen friends go to jail and come out, and now theyre thriving. So its made me really resilient.

She had her own battles, too. After getting racist playground taunts about her skin tone, Runway started using skin-bleaching creams at just nine years old, leaving her with severe chemical burns. Ive really fought to get here to love myself, she says. I always want black girls to feel confident in who they are, and in their skin. That message inspired the cover of 2019s Be Runway EP, where she is photographed wearing both light and dark makeup. There is a blown-up image from the shoot on her bedroom wall. Its more than just a beautiful picture, she says, looking up at it with a smile. Its like: Wow, you can really turn your face to a camera now. You couldnt do that before. Never.

Runway learned to rap through freestyling with her brother over YouTube instrumentals that spanned drill beats and Latin styles. When she was 14, Michelle Obama visited her school and praised her performance of a gospel song. Runways versatility gives a rare artistic malleability to her new music, due next month: shes as at home on American-leaning trap, glossy pop, even nu-metal.

Refreshingly, though, for Runway, it all comes back to putting on a show. She shares an up-from-the-bootstraps flamboyance that has powered the work of heroes such as Grace Jones and Freddie Mercury. Without sounding cocky, Freddie Mercury does remind me of me, she says, sounding cocky indeed. [My heroes] made me feel confident, because they ruled the world by being themselves. So I feel OK to step out into the world and just be myself, too.

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

Posted: at 10:23 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Researcher: Second COVID Wave May Be Psychologically Devastating – Futurism

Posted: at 10:23 am

As U.S. states ease up their coronavirus lockdown, theyre seeing a resurgencein new COVID-19 cases.

Overall, it seems as though a resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak is looming in the future and that has experts worried that a massive psychological toll may come with it, according to the Washington Examiner.

I think a second wave would be devastating for a lot of people, University of Connecticut psychologist Crystal Park told the Examiner. There is a sense that we have been through a really terrible, traumatic time, and we are now in a phase of reopening and recovery.

For what its worth, the phrase second wave is a bit of a misnomer: while coronavirus infections dropped in some states, the U.S. never really beat its first outbreak, compared to other countries which stamped it out decisively. Its all part of one, long, unconquered pandemic.

That said, living in lockdown has led to an increase of reported anxiety and depression, and Park told the Examinerthat going back into lockdown for round two could be even more emotionally taxing than the first time.

Park explained that a resurgence might provoke a whole new and perhaps deeper sense of fear and uncertainty.

We would be feeling like we are retraumatized and likely more distressed and hopeless than the first time around, Park told the site.

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