The Lede, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018
By David Royse
With 49 of 50 states now reporting widespread flu activity, (Hawaii is safe) researchers are rushing to develop a new universal flu vaccine.
And the bigger picture, from Nature as we enter the 100th anniversary year of the global flu Pandemic of 1918:
“Speak to scientists, and they all agree on what must be the number one research goal for effective mitigation of any future pandemic: a universal flu vaccine. At present, the seasonal flu vaccine usually has to be updated every year or so to match the circulating virus strains — which are continually evolving — and these vaccines provide no protection against an altogether new pandemic subtype.”
The other Lede:
TRUMP CHANGES ISOLATIONIST TUNE (AT LEAST PUBLICLY) IN DAVOS
President Donald Trump is at the gathering of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland today and gave the keynote address. While sounding his usual “America First” note, he conceded that the U.S. needs to be part of a global community.
“America first does not mean America alone,” Trump said. “When the United States grows, so does the world…. American prosperity has created countless jobs around the globe, and the drive for excellence, creativity and innovation in the United States has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and healthier lives…. I am here today to represent the interests of the American people, and to affirm America’s friendship and partnership in building a better world,”
ALSO AT DAVOS:
Also this week,
Brilliantly, the Chinese scientists who announced this week that they’ve cloned monkeys, released pictures of those monkeys. Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are pretty fun to look at.
The scientists used Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, the method use to create Dolly the sheep, to create two macacques that are genetically identical to the monkeys from whom the original cell nuclei used in the cloning were taken.
It is the first time SCNT cloning has been successful in producing live offspring in an experiment with primates, and with that, human cloning is theoretically possible. The study was published in the journal Cell.
SPEAKING OF RESEARCH ANIMALS …
Since I’ve already shamelessly used a cute monkey pic to get you to read about cloning, why not throw you another animal story bone?
ONE THING YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T SEEN
And The Lame Shall Walk
There are lots of exoskeletons out there that are letting paralyzed people who have been confined to wheelchairs stand up and walk. But there’s a hitch – many require crutches, which wear out the users’ arms and are hard to use.
This French company hopes that this year, people will get out of their wheelchairs and walk using a fully autonomous exoskeleton.
Want to think more creatively? Try doing it around mid-day. A new study finds that’s when students – and maybe you, too – are most creative.
“In an experiment, groups of students were found to generate twice as many ideas when they were quizzed around midday, compared with at the start or the end of the working day.”
I missed this earlier this month – but it’s kind of cool, so I’ll mention it now. Facebook and the University of Washington have partnered to set up a new Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Research lab in Seattle.
SOLVING HEALTH PROBLEMS
Musu, a community health worker in Liberia, lives in a village that is four hours from the nearest clinic. Only 25 percent of Liberian women make it through primary school, but Musu finished high school. But when she returned to her community, she found children were dying from diseases, including malaria and pneumonia. Musu became determined to help her community and so — with the help of Last Mile Health — she became a community health worker, armed with point of care diagnostic tests, a backpack full of medicines, a smartphone, and — importantly — a wage.
Now more people like Musu are going to get a boost. Raj Panjabi, the founder of Last Mile Health, has joined Chuck Slaughter, the founder of Living Goods, a nonprofit organization that has built a distribution platform for lifesaving products, for an announcement on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
In her app under development, called Timeless, Alzheimer’s patients can scroll through photos of friends and family, and the app will tell them who the person is and how they’re related to the patient using facial recognition tech. If a patient doesn’t recognize someone in the same room, they can take a picture and the tech will also try to automatically identify them.
HOW WE LIVE
THE OPIOID CRISIS
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
Other Interesting Technology News:
YOU WILL TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
Imagine that, just for a couple of hours, it’s like it was again in the 1990s. You are freed from the need to broadcast your whereabouts with photographic proof and clever remarks. You have no idea what time it is, or what all the scores of all the games are. You can’t text. You’re just there, doing what you’re doing, engrossed in one thing only. This is where musical artists want you when you go their concert. Listening to them, watching them. Not cutting into how much money they make by creating bootleg videos of their show.
There’s a start-up in San Francisco that is helping artists – and others – turn back the clock for their audience. At these shows it’s like being on an airplane – you can’t use your phone, because you can’t get at it.
“Its small fabric pouches, which close with a proprietary lock that can be opened only with a Yondr-supplied gadget, have been used at concerts featuring Alicia Keys, Childish Gambino, and Guns N’ Roses, and at shows by comedians like (Chris) Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Ali Wong who don’t want their material leaked on YouTube or their audiences distracted by Instagram. They’re used in hospitals and rehab centers to enforce compliance with health privacy laws, in call centers to protect sensitive customer information, in churches to focus attention on the Almighty, and in courtrooms to curb witness intimidation. They’re used in more than 600 public schools across the country to force children, finally, to look at the board and not their screens. The ingeniously unsophisticated scrap of fabric has only one job: to eliminate smartphone use in places where the people in charge don’t want it.”
APPLE GETTING BACK INTO BOOKS
Apple doesn’t want you putting down your iPhone to pick up your Kindle to read. Reportedly, it’s working on a new, revamped books app, hoping to better compete with Amazon for e-book readers. Read the story at CNet
What’s New In the Business World:
ANOTHER PRIVATE SPACE TRANSPORT FIRM
It’s increasingly evident that putting things up in space is now comfortably a private enterprise. The U.S. government’s move away from actually carrying stuff into space has proven to be no big deal, as the private sector has stepped right in. This past weekend, start-up Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket, and got it into orbit for the first time. The company aims primarily to ferry small satellites into orbit. The launch last weekend was still just a test, but actually carried three commercial satellites, one, called a Dove, for taking pictures of Earth (did you know there are new pictures taken from space of every part of Earth every single day???), and the other two, which will track ships and weather. With the successful test, Rocket Lab may soon start commercial launches. (Here’s an overview of the new private space race from late last year in The Conversation.)
China’s goal is to make its space program “an undeniable force to be reckoned with on the international stage,” Erica Pandey reports for Axios.
“China is working toward a basic infrastructure, but it’s also competing with the U.S.’s scientific and technological advances in space.
- To the moon: China is planning to go to the far side of the moon in 2018 — a mission that has never been done before — and bring back sample moon rocks. Beyond the implications for scientific research, the mission would enhance China’s international profile and show the world how far they’ve come, Notre Dame engineering professor Clive Neal says.
- Quantum communications: China is trying to become an international leader in using the behavior of particles of light to send information securely via quantum-enabled satellites in space, Axios’ Alison Snyder reports. The feasibility of establishing quantum communications networks remains to be seen, but there hasn’t been a commitment to develop the technology at this scale until now.
The Winter Olympics are coming up, starting Feb. 9.
Here’s today’s Winter Olympics build-up story from Bloomberg Business Week, on The Tech Guy Building Wearables for American Olympians
“Some of the most advanced sports technology on the planet isn’t being created at a shoe lab in Oregon or a moonshot factory inside Google. It’s coming out of a guy’s house.”
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