Tech News

CDC no longer gently recommends COVID precautions most weren’t following anyway

Science - Posted On:2022-08-11 21:14:59 Source: arstechnica

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its pandemic guidance today, offering slightly looser recommendations that likely won't change much about how Americans handle the pandemic these days.

According to the updated guidance, people who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations—i.e., unvaccinated people or people who have not received the recommended number of boosters—no longer need to quarantine if they know they've been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Instead, if a not up-to-date person is exposed, the CDC now recommends they wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure and get tested for COVID-19 on day 5. Currently, roughly 68 percent of the US population is not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination.

This guidance update essentially ends all COVID-19-related quarantine recommendations since the CDC had previously said that those who are up to date on their vaccines do not need to quarantine but only wear a mask for 10 days and test.

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China Overtakes the US In Scientific Research Output

science - Posted On:2022-08-11 18:14:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: China has overtaken the US as the world leader in both scientific research output and "high impact" studies, according to a report published by Japan's science and technology ministry. The report, which was published by Japan's National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTP) on Tuesday, found that China now publishes the highest number of scientific research papers yearly, followed by the US and Germany. The figures were based on yearly averages between 2018 and 2020, and drawn from data compiled by the analytics firm Clarivate. The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2% of the world's top 1% most frequently cited papers. The number of citations a research paper receives is a commonly used metric in academia. The more times a study is cited in subsequent papers by other researchers, the greater its "citation impact." The US accounted for 24.9% of the top 1% most highly cited research studies, while UK research was third at 5.5%. China published a yearly average of 407,181 scientific papers, pulling ahead of the US's 293,434 journal articles and accounting for 23.4% of the world's research output, the report found. China accounted for a high proportion of research into materials science, chemistry, engineering and mathematics, while US researchers were more prolific in research into clinical medicine, basic life sciences and physics. "China is one of the top countries in the world in terms of both the quantity and quality of scientific papers," Shinichi Kuroki of the Japan Science and Technology Agency told Nikkei Asia. "In order to become the true global leader, it will need to continue producing internationally recognized research." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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CDC Drops Quarantine, Distancing Recommendations For COVID-19

science - Posted On:2022-08-11 17:59:59 Source: slashdot

The nation's top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. The Associated Press reports: The changes, which come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic, are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, agency officials said. "The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years," said the CDC's Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines. Perhaps the biggest education-related change is the end of the recommendation that schools do routine daily testing, although that practice can be reinstated in certain situations during a surge in infections, officials said. The CDC also dropped a "test-to-stay" recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could regularly test -- instead of quarantining at home -- to keep attending school. With no quarantine recommendation anymore, the testing option disappeared too. Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Sauropods had soft foot pads to help support their massive weight

Science - Posted On:2022-08-11 17:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Ask people to think of a dinosaur, and they'll likely name Tyrannosaurus Rex, the carnivorous antagonist prominently featured in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World film franchises. But an equally well-known dinosaur clade are the herbivorous sauropods, which include Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, Argentinosaurus, and Brontosaurus. Australian paleontologists have digitally reconstructed these plant-munching giants to glean insight into how their feet managed to support their enormous weight, according to a new paper published in the journal Science Advances.

"We've finally confirmed a long-suspected idea and we provide, for the first time, biomechanical evidence that a soft tissue pad—particularly in their back feet—would have played a crucial role in reducing locomotor pressures and bone stresses," said co-author Andreas Jannel, who worked on the project while completing doctoral studies at the University of Queensland. "It is mind-blowing to imagine that these giant creatures could have been able to support their own weight on land."

Sauropods (clade name: Sauropoda, or "lizard feet") had long-necked, long-tailed bodies that made them the lengthiest animals to have roamed the Earth. They had thick and powerful hind legs, club-like feet with five toes, and more slender forearms. It's rare to find complete Sauropod fossils, and even those that are mostly complete still lack the heads, tail tips, and limbs. Scientists have nonetheless managed to learn a great deal about them, and digital reconstruction is proving to be a valuable new tool in advancing our knowledge even further.

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Some Firefly Species Await a Night That Never Comes

science - Posted On:2022-08-11 17:29:59 Source: slashdot

A study found that while some fireflies shrugged off light pollution, members of other species failed to mate even when males and females could find each other. From a report: As dusk deepens the shadow at the forest's edge, a tiny beacon lights up the gloom. Soon, the twilight is full of drifting lights, each winking a message in peculiar semaphore: "Male seeks female for brief union." This courtship plays out on summer nights the world over among beetles of the Lampyridae family, commonly known as fireflies. The darkness in which fireflies have always pursued their liaisons, however, has been breached by the glare of artificial lights. Humans' love affair with illumination has led to much of the Earth's habitable surfaces suffering light pollution at night. In recent years, scientists who study fireflies have heard from people who are worried that the insects may be in decline, said Avalon Owens, an entomologist at Tufts University. "There's this sense of doom. They seem to not be in places where they used to be," she said. So little is known about how fireflies live that it is hard to assess whether they are in danger -- and if so, why, said Dr. Owens. But in a study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, she and Sara Lewis, a professor of biology at Tufts University, shone some light on how fireflies respond to artificial illumination. Experiments in forests and fields as well as the lab showed that while some North American fireflies would mate with wild abandon, regardless of illumination, others did not complete a single successful mating under the glare of the lights. Fireflies seem to rely primarily on flashes of light to find each other, which means light pollution could threaten their ability to see mates. In the four common species the study examines, the females hide on the ground and observe as males wander the skies. When a female responds to a male's flashing with her own, the two enter into a dialogue that can end in a meeting, and eventually mating. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Search For an AC That Doesn't Destroy the Planet

science - Posted On:2022-08-11 15:29:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: Technology to build cleaner, more efficient air conditioners does exist. Two major AC manufacturers, Daikin and Gree Electric Appliances, shared the top award at last year's Global Cooling Prize, an international competition focused on designing climate-friendly AC tech. Both companies created ACs with higher internal performance that used less environmentally damaging refrigerants; the new units could reduce their impact on the climate by five times. [...] Another strategy is to double down on heat pumps, which are air conditioners that also work in reverse, using vapor compression to absorb and move heat into a home, instead of releasing it outside. Heat pumps usually cost several thousand dollars, though the Inflation Reduction Act includes a proposal for a significant heat pump rebate, and President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up production. Experts have argued installing heat pumps is critical to another important climate goal: transitioning away from fossil fuel-powered furnaces, which are an even bigger source of emissions than cooling. The holy grail of HVAC would be a heat pump that could provide both heating and cooling but isn't dependent on vapor compression. [...] Another challenge, though, is that heat pumps are not the easiest appliance to install, especially for renters, who don't necessarily have the money or ability to invest in bulky HVAC systems. To address this problem, a company called Gradient has designed a heat pump that easily slides over a windowsill -- it doesn't block light -- and currently uses a refrigerant called R32, which is supposed to have a (comparatively) low global warming potential. Gradient recently won a contract to install its units in New York City public housing. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Did giant impacts start plate tectonics?

Science - Posted On:2022-08-11 14:15:00 Source: arstechnica

One of Earth's defining features is its plate tectonics, a phenomenon that shapes the planet's surface and creates some of its most catastrophic events, like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. While some features of plate tectonics have been spotted elsewhere in the Solar System, the Earth is the only planet we know of with the full suite of processes involved in this phenomenon. And all indications are that it started very early in our planet's history.

So what started it? Currently, two leading ideas are difficult to distinguish based on our limited evidence of the early Earth. A new study of a piece of Australia, however, argues strongly for one of them: the heavy impacts that also occurred early in the planet's history.

Shortly after the Earth formed, its crust would have been composed of a relatively even layer of solid rock that acted as a lid over the still-molten mantle below. Above that, there was likely a global ocean since plate tectonics wasn't building mountains yet. Somehow, this situation was transformed into what we see now: The large regions of moving, buoyant crust of the continental plates and the constantly spreading deep ocean crust formed from mantle materials, all driven by the heat-induced motion of material through the mantle.

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Backyard hens’ eggs contain 40 times more lead on average than shop eggs

Science - Posted On:2022-08-11 10:14:57 Source: arstechnica

There’s nothing like the fresh eggs from your own hens, the more than 400,000 Australians who keep backyard chooks will tell you. Unfortunately, it’s often not just freshness and flavor that set their eggs apart from those in the shops.

Our newly published research found backyard hens’ eggs contain, on average, more than 40 times the lead levels of commercially produced eggs. Almost one in two hens in our Sydney study had significant lead levels in their blood. Similarly, about half the eggs analyzed contained lead at levels that may pose a health concern for consumers.

Even low levels of lead exposure are considered harmful to human health, including among other effects cardiovascular disease and decreased IQ and kidney function. Indeed, the World Health Organization has stated there is no safe level of lead exposure.

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New tragic details of US child who died from tropical bacteria in room spray

Science - Posted On:2022-08-10 22:14:58 Source: arstechnica

The fourth person affected by a bacterial outbreak linked to imported aromatherapy room sprays sold at Walmart last year occurred in a previously healthy 5-year-old boy in Georgia, who died of the infection. That's according to new information presented Tuesday at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID), hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The tragic new details of the boy's cases—presented by epidemiologist Jessica Pavlick of the Georgia Department of Public Health—have newfound significance for the US. In the year since the boy's death, the tropical soil bacterium behind his deadly infection has been found in environmental samples in southern Mississippi. The bacterium—Burkholderia pseudomallei—is now considered endemic to the Gulf Coast region, creating an ever-present threat to people in the area.

For years, CDC researchers have suspected that B. pseudomallei could already be lurking in soil and water in the continental US, rather than being brought in via imported animals and products (like the room sprays), as well as travelers and migrants. In recent years, the US has averaged about 12 cases of B. pseudomallei infection, which causes a disease called melioidosis.

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Newly Identified Langya Virus Tracked After China Reports Dozens of Cases

science - Posted On:2022-08-10 14:14:59 Source: slashdot

Researchers have begun tracking a newly identified virus in China, with dozens of cases recorded so far. From a report: The novel Langya henipavirus (LayV) was first detected in the north-eastern provinces of Shandong and Henan in late 2018 but was only formally identified by scientists last week. The virus was likely transmitted from animals to humans, scientists said, and Taiwan's health authority is now monitoring the spread. The researchers tested wild animals and found LayV viral RNA in more than a quarter of 262 shrews, "a finding that suggests that the shrew may be a natural reservoir." The virus was also detected in 2% of domestic goats and 5% of dogs. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Putting together the Webb telescope’s mid-infrared eyes

Science - Posted On:2022-08-10 13:15:00 Source: arstechnica

There is more than one reason why the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on board the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is considered to be pioneering. Of the four instruments on JWST, it's the only one that observes in the mid-infrared range, from 5 to 28 microns; the other three are near-infrared devices with a wavelength range of 0.6 to 5 microns. To reach these wavelengths, MIRI had to be kept the coldest of any instrument on JWST, meaning it essentially set the requirements for the telescope’s cooling system.

The stunning images taken by MIRI are a testimony to the remarkable engineering feats that went into it, feats that were achieved by overcoming formidable challenges through meticulous transatlantic teamwork and coordination.

“I remember being told in the early days that the instrument will never be built. Some people at NASA looked at the block diagram of our management structure and said it will never work,” Professor George Rieke, who leads the science team of MIRI, recalled.

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SpaceX breathes fire in South Texas for the first time in 2022

Science - Posted On:2022-08-10 10:29:57 Source: arstechnica

SpaceX ignited engines on both the first and second stages of its Starship launch system on Wednesday, signaling that it is getting closer to a test flight of the massive rocket later this year.

On Monday evening at 5:20 pm local time in South Texas, engineers ignited a single Raptor engine on the Super Heavy booster that serves as the rocket's first stage. This is the first time the company has ever conducted a static fire test of the booster, which will ultimately be powered by 33 Raptor rocket engines.

About three hours later, on a separate mount at its "Starbase" facility in Texas, SpaceX ignited two engines on the Starship upper stage of the rocket. The company later shared a short video on Twitter of the evidently successful test.

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Major Test of First Possible Lyme Vaccine In 20 Years Begins

science - Posted On:2022-08-10 09:14:57 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Associated Press: Researchers are seeking thousands of volunteers in the U.S. and Europe to test the first potential vaccine against Lyme disease in 20 years -- in hopes of better fighting the tick-borne threat. Lyme is a growing problem, with cases rising and warming weather helping ticks expand their habitat. While a vaccine for dogs has long been available, the only Lyme vaccine for humans was pulled off the U.S. market in 2002 from lack of demand, leaving people to rely on bug spray and tick checks. Now Pfizer and French biotech Valneva are aiming to avoid previous pitfalls in developing a new vaccine to protect both adults and kids as young as 5 from the most common Lyme strains on two continents. Most vaccines against other diseases work after people are exposed to a germ. The Lyme vaccine offers a different strategy -- working a step earlier to block a tick bite from transmitting the infection, said Dr. Gary Wormser, a Lyme expert at New York Medical College who isn't involved with the new research. How? It targets an "outer surface protein" of the Lyme bacterium called OspA that's present in the tick's gut. It's estimated a tick must feed on someone for about 36 hours before the bacteria spreads to its victim. That delay gives time for antibodies the tick ingests from a vaccinated person's blood to attack the germs right at the source. In small, early-stage studies, Pfizer and Valneva reported no safety problems and a good immune response. The newest study will test if the vaccine, called VLA15, really protects and is safe. The companies aim to recruit at least 6,000 people in Lyme-prone areas including the Northeast U.S. plus Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. They'll receive three shots, either the vaccine or a placebo, between now and next spring's tick season. A year later, they'll get a single booster dose. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scientists Create a More Sustainable LED From Fish Scales

science - Posted On:2022-08-10 06:14:58 Source: slashdot

Scientists have discovered that by microwaving fish waste, they can quickly and efficiently create carbon nano-onions (CNOs) -- a unique nanoform of carbon that has applications in energy storage and medicine. This method could be used to make cheaper and more sustainable LEDs in the future. The researchers from Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan published their findings in Green Chemistry. Smithsonian Magazine reports: CNOs are nanostructures with spherical carbon shells in a concentric layered structure similar to an onion. They have "drawn extensive attention worldwide in terms of energy storage and conversion" because of their "exceptionally high electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as large external surface area," per the paper. They've been used in electronics and for biomedical applications, such as bio-imaging and sensing and drug delivery, write the authors in the study. Though CNOs were first reported in the 1980s, conventional methods of manufacturing them have required high temperatures, a vacuum and a lot of time and energy. Other techniques are expensive and call for complex catalysts or dangerous acidic or basic conditions. This "greatly limits the potential of CNOs," per a statement from Nagoya Institute of Technology. The newly discovered method requires only one step -- microwave pyrolysis of fish scales extracted from fish waste -- and can be done within ten seconds, per the authors. How exactly the fish scales are converted into CNOs is unclear, though the team thinks it has to do with how collagen in the fish scales can absorb enough microwave radiation to quickly increase in temperature. This leads to pyrolysis, or thermal decomposition, which causes the collagen to break down into gasses. These gasses then support the creation of CNOs. This method is a "straightforward way to convert fish waste into infinitely more useful materials," and the resulting CNOs have a high crystallinity, which gives them "exceptional optical properties," per the statement. They also have high functionalization, which means they're "bonded to other small molecules on their surface," writes Ellen Phiddian for Cosmos. This combination of attributes means the CNOs can glow bright blue. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Spiders Seem To Have REM-Like Sleep and May Even Dream

science - Posted On:2022-08-09 23:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Barred from her lab by pandemic restrictions, behavioral ecologist Daniela C. Robler caught local jumping spiders and kept them in clear plastic boxes on her windowsill, planning to test their reactions to 3-D-printed models of predatory spiders. When she came home from dinner one night, though, she noticed something strange. "They were all hanging from the lids of their boxes," says Robler, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Konstanz in Germany. She had never seen jumping spiders suspended motionless on silk lines like this before. "I had no idea what happened," Robler says. "I thought they were dead." It turns out the jumping spiders were simply asleep -- and that Robler had discovered an alternate sleeping habit of the species Evarcha arcuata, which had been known to build silk sleeping dens in curled-up dead leaves. But the real surprise came when she decided to spy on them all night. [...] Mostly the spider just hung there. But then her legs started to twitch, and her abdomen and even her silk-producing spinnerets did so as well. Sometimes her legs curled in toward her sternum. With every spider Robler recorded, these odd movements only appeared during distinct bouts that lasted a little more than a minute and occurred periodically throughout the night. "They were just uncontrollably twitching in a way that really looked a lot like when dogs or cats dream and have their little REM phases," she says. [...] Robler and her colleagues wondered if the twitching spiders could be experiencing something like an REM phase of sleep and possibly even having dreams. "We were like, 'Okay, that would be insane,'" she says. Then she thought, "Let's figure it out," and immediately changed her research plans for the spiders. [...] When Robler recorded 34 sleeping spiderlings, she found that their twitches were accompanied by unmistakable eye-tube movements that did not happen during other phases of sleep. [...] But it is too soon to say for sure that the spiders are experiencing something akin to REM sleep in humans. The researchers first need to confirm the spiders are actually asleep during this phase by showing that they are less responsive to their environment. Robler and her "dream team" of co-authors have already started those tests. And she points out that the leg curling is a particularly striking aspect of the spiders' REM-like phase because that pose is typically only seen in dead spiders. Spiders use hydraulic pressure maintained by muscles to keep their legs extended, and the curling could result from the muscle paralysis that typifies REM sleep. The team's initial findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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These researchers watched dead fish rot for 70 days—for science

Science - Posted On:2022-08-09 19:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Sometimes science can be a messy endeavor—not to mention "disgusting and smelly." That's how British researchers described their experiments monitoring dead sea bass carcasses as they rotted over the course of 70 days. In the process, they gained some fascinating insights into how (and why) the soft tissues of internal organs can be selectively preserved in the fossil record, according to a new paper published in the journal Palaeontology.

Most fossils are bone, shells, teeth, and other forms of "hard" tissue, but occasionally rare fossils are discovered that preserve soft tissues like skin, muscles, organs, or even the occasional eyeball. This can tell scientists much about aspects of the biology, ecology, and evolution of such ancient organisms that skeletons alone can't convey. For instance, earlier this year, researchers created a highly detailed 3D model of a 365-million-year-old ammonite fossil from the Jurassic period by combining advanced imaging techniques, revealing internal muscles that had never been previously observed.

"One of the best ways that soft tissue can turn into rock is when they are replaced by a mineral called calcium phosphate (sometimes called apatite)," said co-author Thomas Clements of the University of Birmingham. "Scientists have been studying calcium phosphate for decades trying to understand how this process happens—but one question we just don’t understand is why some internal organs seem more likely to be preserved than others."

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China’s secretive space plane flies higher and longer than before

Science - Posted On:2022-08-09 16:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Last week one of China's most reliable rockets, the Long March 2F vehicle, took off from a spaceport in the Gobi Desert carrying a secretive space plane.

In a short report on the launch by China's state-owned Xinhua news service, the government provided little detail about the "reusable test spacecraft" beyond saying it would remain in orbit for "a period of time" and providing technical verification of reusable and in-orbit services.

This is the second time China launched what is believed to be a small space plane, likely similar in size and scope to the US Space Force's experimental X-37B vehicle. This uncrewed X-37B resembles NASA's space shuttle, but at less than 10 meters in length, it is considerably smaller. The vehicle's cargo bay can hold something about the size of a standard refrigerator.

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Rainwater Everywhere on Earth Unsafe To Drink Due To 'Forever Chemicals,' Study Finds

science - Posted On:2022-08-09 13:00:00 Source: slashdot

Rainwater almost everywhere on Earth has unsafe levels of "forever chemicals," according to new research. saulgood shares a report: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large family of human-made chemicals that don't occur in nature. They are known as 'forever chemicals' because they don't break down in the environment. They have non-stick or stain repellent properties so can be found in household items like food packaging, electronics, cosmetics and cookware. But now researchers at the University of Stockholm have found them in rainwater in most locations on the planet -- including Antarctica. There is no safe space to escape them. Safe guideline levels for some of these forever chemicals have dropped dramatically over the last two decades due to new insights into their toxicity. "There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years," says Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and professor at the Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University. For one well-known substance, the "cancer-causing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)," water guideline values have declined by 37.5 million times in the US. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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India's Rocket Fails To Put Satellites In Right Orbit In Debut Launch

science - Posted On:2022-08-09 03:14:57 Source: slashdot

India's new rocket launched for the first time on Saturday night (Aug. 6) but failed to deliver its satellite payloads into their intended orbit due to a sensor issue. reports: The 112-foot-tall (34 meters) Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India's southeastern coast on Saturday at 11:48 p.m. EDT (0348 GMT and 9:18 a.m. India Standard Time on Sunday, Aug. 7) with two satellites onboard. The rocket's three solid-fueled stages performed well, but its fourth and final stage, a liquid-fueled "velocity trimming module" (VTM), hit a snag: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials reported a loss of data from the rocket and, just over five hours after liftoff, ISRO announced the mission had failed. "The entire vehicle performance was very good" at the start, but ultimately left the two satellites in the wrong orbit, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said in a video statement after the launch. "The satellites were placed in an elliptical orbit in place of a circular orbit." Instead of placing the satellites in a circular orbit 221 miles (356 kilometers) above Earth, the rocket left them in an orbit that ranged from 221 miles to as close as 47 miles (76 km). That orbit was not stable, and the satellites have "already come down, and they are not usable," Somanath said. ISRO officials said on Twitter that a sensor failure that was not detected in time to switch to a "salvage action" caused the orbit issue. An investigation into the failure is planned. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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VR Is As Good As Psychedelics At Helping People Reach Transcendence

science - Posted On:2022-08-08 21:44:59 Source: slashdot

David Glowacki, an artist and computational molecular physicist, has created a VR experience called Isness-D that aims to recapture a transcendence experience he had when he fell in the mountains fifteen years ago. "[O]n four key indicators used in studies of psychedelics, the program showed the same effect as a medium dose of LSD or psilocybin (the main psychoactive component of 'magic' mushrooms)," reports MIT Technology Review. From the report: Isness-D is designed for groups of four to five people based anywhere in the world. Each participant is represented as a diffuse cloud of smoke with a ball of light right about where a person's heart would be. Participants can partake in an experience called energetic coalescence: they gather in the same spot in the virtual-reality landscape to overlap their diffuse bodies, making it impossible to tell where each person begins and ends. The resulting sense of deep connectedness and ego attenuation mirrors feelings commonly brought about by a psychedelic experience. [...] To create it, Glowacki took aesthetic inspiration from quantum mechanics -- as he puts it, "where the definition of what's matter and what's energy starts to become blurred." For their paper, Glowacki and his collaborators measured the emotional response Isness-D elicited in 75 participants. They based their measurements on four metrics used in psychedelics research -- the MEQ30 (a mystical experience questionnaire), the ego dissolution inventory scale, the "communitas" scale, and the "inclusion of community in self" scale. Communitas is defined as an experience of intense shared humanity that transcends social structure. Participants' responses were then compared with those given in published, double-blind psychedelics studies. For all four metrics, Isness-D elicited responses indistinguishable from those associated with medium doses of psychedelics. On the mystical experience scale, Isness-D participants reported an experience as intense as that elicited by 20 milligrams of psilocybin or 200 micrograms of LSD, and stronger than that induced by microdoses of either substance. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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