Walmart, one of the biggest retail corporations in the U.S., has filed a patent for an autonomous robot bee, eliciting comparisons to the British futuristic show Black Mirror, which addresses the possibilities and perils of technology.
Robot bees are more formally known as pollination drones, and they are being designed to carry pollen between plants just like regular bees. However, the drones would rely upon technology like sensors and cameras, instead of sensitive antennae, legs and wings.
One of the buzzwords in the American psyche since the election of Donald Trump has been “fake news.” Pretty much any report that contains facts that paint Trump and his administration in an unflattering light is later tweeted out by POTUS as “fake,” a convenient way to discredit journalists and take media scrutiny off himself.
But what exactly is fake news? According to a group of scientists who published their thoughts in response to a new study in the journal Science, it is “fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent.” They add that fake news outlets often lack editorial processes that safeguard accuracy and credibility.
Empathy—that ability to imagine how another person feels and share an emotional experience along with them—is praised as an ideal of human behavior. After all, one of the alleged hallmarks of a true psychopath is that they can’t feel empathy or don’t come by it naturally. Without empathy, how can we understand what the marginalized and the suffering go through? Social scientists believe that empathy originates, evolutionarily, as a series of “prosocial” behaviors, essential glue that helps humans stick together for increased survival.
Yet, more recently, psychologists and neuroscientists alike have begun to take a radically different stance on the empathy-is-good line of thinking. In fact, over-empathizing might be making us emotionally burned out and unwell, leading to such states as “compassion fatigue,” or “secondary trauma,” which affects first responders and caregivers at higher rates. In these states, a person can begin to feel numb, depressed, anxious, or even inexplicably angry.
Cigarettes can be one of the most difficult addictions to quit, as addictive as heroin. So the rise of vaping—inhaling vaporized nicotine through electronic “e-cigarettes”—has been touted as the perfect solution to help smokers quit, or to offer a less toxic alternative to smoking.
However, recent research has begun to look more closely at these allegedly reduced risks of vaping to health and finding them not as benign as they had initially thought.
Scientists Believe Blood From the Young Can Regenerate the Brains of the Old, and They're About to Test It on Humans
Building on previous research into aging brains, new research conducted at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), published in the journal Cell, has discovered that the blood of the young can regenerate the brains of the old. One day, this might enable the creation of therapies to treat age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. However, before you go looking for a teenager to harvest blood from, keep in mind that the research has only been tested in mice. However, there is a clinical trial underway by a Monterey, California-based startup known as Ambrosia, where you can attempt to young-down your brain with youthful blood transfusions for a cool $8000.
The UCSF researchers, led by neurobiologist Saul Villeda, drew upon the effects of a recently discovered cellular enzyme known as Tet2 (ten eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase 2), an epigenetic regulator, which makes chemical annotations to parts of DNA that change the activity of many different genes, including some that help prevent cognitive decline in the aging brain. Many of the genes it marks are indicated in increased risks of common age-related health conditions (which also are common killers), such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
What's Left Behind By the Melting Permafrost Could Be More Dangerous Than Rising Tides, Droughts or Floods
As bad as this year’s flu epidemic has been, at least in the United States, most of us rest easy knowing that deadlier and nastier mass-murdering pathogens such as bubonic plague and smallpox live mostly in our collective memory. Or do they? As climate change melts longstanding permafrost, some scientists fear that “zombie pathogens,” which have been slumbering for centuries, might be waking up, threatening to overtake humanity again.
Permafrost refers to a layer of permanently frozen earth—it has to be frozen for a minimum of two years to qualify—found primarily in most continually frosty parts of the world such as the Arctic Circle, Greenland, Alaska and Siberia. According to National Geographic, there are some 22.8 million square miles of permafrost in the world. Research has shown that Earth's permafrost heated up by 6 degrees Celsius during the 20th century and scientists predict even more dramatic melting by 2100. Not only will this raise ocean levels and exacerbate erosion, it may also mean a release of pathogens better left frozen.
Inspired by the Flint Water Crisis, This 11 Year-Old Invented a Device to Detect Lead in Drinking Water
While Flint’s water crisis has fallen out of the public news cycle, its residents are still living with the aftermath of an estimated 40 percent of homes that drank and bathed in dangerously lead-polluted water. It took several years, in which residents—including children—were turning up with mysterious rashes and other illnesses—before national attention to the crisis forced the city to admit it had a problem.
The city of Flint disconnected from Detroit’s water line as a cost-cutting measure and began to draw water from the Flint River in April 2014. Soon after, shockingly high levels of lead were found in the city's water supply.