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Sun, 04 Jun 2023
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Elon Musk's Neuralink 'brain chips' cleared for 1st in-human trials

Brain implants developed by Elon Musk's company Neuralink have been approved for human testing. The safety of the devices previously came under scrutiny following reports of "botched surgeries" in animal test subjects.

Neuralink Human Trials
© NurPhoto / Contributor via Getty Images
Neuralink has been cleared to begin the first in-human trials of its brain implants and the surgical robot used to install them.
Elon Musk's brain-implant company Neuralink has been given clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry out its first trials in humans, according to news reports.

Neuralink aims to use its brain-computer interface (BCI) technology to restore movement in people with quadriplegia, meaning complete or partial paralysis of the arms, legs and trunk. Musk has also said that the brain implants could be used to restore sight in blind people.

Neurons, or nerve cells, communicate via electrical signals to coordinate our thoughts, feelings and behavior. Neuralink's implants, which have only been tested in animals, would theoretically work by interpreting these electrical signals and transmitting the decoded information to a computer via Bluetooth. In the case of helping to restore movement, for example, the computer would then analyze the incoming information and respond by sending signals back to the body, stimulating nerves and muscles to control movement.

The implant is inserted into a small hole in the skull created by a surgery-performing robot and the implant's electrodes are then embedded just a few millimeters into the cortex, the brain's outer layer. The procedure can be done in 30 minutes, without general anesthesia, Musk has claimed — although again, this has never been attempted in humans.


New 'quasi-moon' asteroid 2023 FW13 discovered near Earth, has been travelling alongside our planet since 100 BC

© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
An illustration of an asteroid orbiting the sun alongside Earth, much like the newly classified quasi-moon. Astronomers recently identified asteroid 2023 FW13 as a quasi-moon, a space rock orbiting the sun nearly in tandem with Earth.
Scientists recently discovered an asteroid that tags along with Earth during its yearly journey around the sun.

Dubbed 2023 FW13, the space rock is considered a "quasi-moon" or "quasi-satellite," meaning it orbits the sun in a similar time frame as Earth does, but is only slightly influenced by our planet's gravitational pull. It is estimated to be 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter — roughly equivalent to three large SUVs parked bumper to bumper. During its orbit of the sun, 2023 FW13 also circles Earth, coming within 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) of our planet. For comparison, the moon has a diameter of 2,159 miles (3,474 km) and comes within 226,000 miles (364,000 km) of Earth at the closest point of its orbit, according to NASA.

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Snowflake Cold

New study destroys 'doomsday glacier' narrative: Today's ice 8 times THICKER than last 8000 years

Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica

Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica
Scientists have determined there is no measured data to "indicate thicker than present ice after 4ka" at a West Antarctic study site near the Thwaites "Doomsday" Glacier. Any ice melt observed today is thus "reversible"... and natural.

The Thwaites, Pine Island, and Pope Glaciers in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica are all situated on a hotbed of active geothermal heat flux, which has led to anomalously high regional melt rates. Indeed, "there is a conspicuously large amount of heat from Earth's interior beneath the ice" in the very locations where the ice melt is most pronounced.

While the Earth's crust has an average thickness of about 40 km, in the Thwaites-Pine Island-Pope Glacier region the anomalously thinner crust (10 to 18 km) more readily exposes the base of the ice to 580°C tectonic trenches. The "elevated geothermal heat flow band is interpreted as caused by an anomalously thin crust underlain by a hot mantle," which is exerting a "profound influence on the flow dynamics of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet" (Dziadek et al., 2021).



Betelgeuse is being weird again. What gives?

Red giant star Betelgeuse.
© ALMA - ESO/NAOJ/NRAO, E/O'Gorman/P.Kervella
Red giant star Betelgeuse.
Since what has come to be known as the Great Dimming that took place in the latter half of 2019 and early 2020, the red giant star Betelgeuse just will not stop with the wackiness.

The dying star's regular cycles of brightness fluctuation have changed, and now Betelgeuse has grown uncharacteristically bright. At the time of writing, it was sitting at 142 percent of its normal brightness.

It's been fluctuating back and forth on a small scale but on a steady upward trend for months and hit a recent peak of 156 percent in April.

Currently, Betelgeuse is the 7th brightest star in the sky - up from its normal position as the 10th brightest, triggering speculation that Betelgeuse is about to blow in a spectacular supernova.

Sadly, it probably isn't. Although Betelgeuse is on the brink of death in cosmic timescales, on human timescales, its supernova could be 100,000 years away.

According to scientists, its current behavior is more likely a bit of ongoing wobbliness following the 2019 dimming, and the star will return to normal within a decade.

Betelgeuse, located around 700 light-years from Earth, is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. It hangs above us, glowing like a bloodshot eye, a star in the red giant stage that marks the end of its life.

But Betelgeuse is an uncommon type of star, even for a red giant. Once upon a time, it was an absolute monster: a blue-white O-type star, the most massive stellar weight class.


Information warfare in New York

Board of numbers
© Unknown
'By the Numbers' What looks random is not!
Last April, I discovered an algorithm hidden in New York's voter rolls. The algorithm linked county voter identification (CID) and State Board of Elections identification (SBOEID) numbers in such a way that it could be used as a third ID number. This could be used to clandestinely tag and track records of interest, such as phantom voters.

Since that day in April, I have done little else for seven days a week as I studied the original algorithm and three others discovered subsequently. Last week, the peer-reviewed Journal of Information Warfare published my article about New York's voter roll algorithms. The article was written several months ago. It represents my understanding of the algorithm at that time. Since then, my understanding of how it works and what it does has deepened. Current updates on voter roll algorithm research can be read on my substack, the Zark Files.

I have identified four algorithms in New York's voter rolls to date. I have named them "Spiral," "Metronome," "Tartan," and "Shingle" based on their characteristics.

The Spiral algorithm has been solved in the sense that it can be completely reversed and its effects predicted.
The Metronome is unsolved but appears to be based on a random seed for the purpose of randomizing numbers.
The Tartan accomplishes a similar purpose as the Metronome but in a different way.
The Shingle algorithm is closely associated with suspicious records.

The algorithms are well-hidden via the use of multiple obfuscation techniques. The first method partitions the number space in a way that cannot be reproduced using any of the fields normally available from within the database. The partitions segregate SBOEID and CID numbers based on which algorithm was used to generate the numbers. Without knowledge of the algorithms or partitions, the numbers would be mixed so that they cannot be differentiated.

Microscope 2

Quebec police solve nearly 50-year-old cold case murder of teenager using DNA advancements

Sharron Prior Frankie Romine
© Longueuil Police
Canadian police said they used advancements in DNA technology to identify the man who killed 16-year-old Sharron Prior 48 years ago, as Franklin Romine, who was buried in West Virginia in 1982.
The man police identified as Sharron Prior's killer, Franklin Romine, died in 1982 and was buried in West Virginia.

Police in Canada said Tuesday they have solved one of the highest-profile cold cases in Quebec history.

Police in Longueuil, Quebec made the announcement during a press conference, saying they had identified the person responsible for the murder of Sharron Prior.

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Better Earth

More than 5,000 new species discovered in Pacific deep-sea mining hotspot

deep sea creatures
© Smartex Project/NERC
A ‘gummy squirrel’, the nickname given to Psychropotes longicauda, one of the thousands of newly discovered creatures in the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists have discovered more than 5,000 new species living on the seabed in an untouched area of the Pacific Ocean that has been identified as a future hotspot for deep-sea mining, according to a review of the environmental surveys done in the area.

It is the first time the previously unknown biodiversity of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a mineral-rich area of the ocean floor that spans 1.7m sq miles between Hawaii and Mexico in the Pacific, has been comprehensively documented. The research will be critical to assessing the risk of extinction of the species, given contracts for deep-sea mining in the near-pristine area appear imminent.

Comment: See also:

Alarm Clock

NASA can give 30 minute warning before a killer solar storm hits Earth

solar flare
Image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory of a solar flare captured in 2014.
We've touched on the hazards of solar storms plenty of times in the past. We've also recently started reporting even more stories involving some sort of AI, especially in the last few months since it has come back to the forefront of many discussions around technologies. So it should come as no surprise that a team at NASA has been busily applying AI models to solar storm data to develop an early warning system that they think could give the planet about 30 minutes notice before a potentially devastating solar storm hits a particular area.

That lead time is thanks to the fact that light (i.e., what radio signals are made out of) can travel faster than the solar material ejected out of the Sun in the event of these solar storms. In some events, such as one that impacted Quebec around 35 years ago, they can shut off power for hours. More extreme events, such as the Carrington event that happened more than 150 years ago, can cause massive destruction of electrical and communication infrastructure if they were to happen today.

Comment: A solar storm on March 1st had the following unexpected effects: Powerful Solar storm has unusually strong impact on Earth, delays SpaceX rocket launch, stalls oil rigs in Canada

Comment: If the warning were to be issued today, it wouldn't make much sense to the average person who is very poorly informed as to the implications of such an event. An event which recent studies are revealing is more common than once believed, and there's data showing what would normally be considered relatively minor solar storms are having a much greater effect due to Earth's weakening magnetic field: Also check out SOTT radio's:

Snakes in Suits

Corporate psychopaths: Unmasking the silent threat to financial stability

corporate psychopath graphic financial crisis
© Neuroscience News
The term corporate psychopath refers to well-performing psychopaths who work in corporate settings
A new study highlights the need for corporations to identify and manage "corporate psychopaths" to prevent financial crises.

A new academic study examining the actions of Bernie Madoff, the New York banker behind the world's biggest Ponzi fraud, suggests companies do more to root out "corporate psychopaths" within their organizations to prevent financial ruin.

The study, published in the International Journal of Market Research, looked at Madoff's behavior throughout his life including during his business dealings, his trial, and his time in prison.

It warns that while people with some psychopathic personality traits tend to get ahead in corporate finance, their recklessness and greed can bring down organizations and even entire economies.

Author of the research Dr Clive R. Boddy, Associate Professor at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), is a pioneer in the field of corporate psychopathy.


New supernova in the pinwheel galaxy

Astronomers are scrambling to photograph a new supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101). "This is best supernova in a decade," says Eliot Herman of Tucson, Arizona. "It has tripled in brightness in only 24 hours."
© Eliot Herman of Tucson, Arizona
At this rate, it will soon rival or outshine the spiral galaxy's core.

Astronomer Yvette Cendes of Harvard's Center for Astrophysics says the supernova should continue to brighten for another day or so. "We think it will peak around magnitude +10, although it is hard to be certain."