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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 7

Mar 3, 2019

Bacteria in frog skin may help fight fungal infections in humans

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, existential risks

In the past few decades, a lethal disease has decimated populations of frogs and other amphibians worldwide, even driving some species to extinction. Yet other amphibians resisted the epidemic. Based on previous research, scientists at the INDICASAT AIP, Smithsonian and collaborating institutions knew that skin bacteria could be protecting the animals by producing fungi-fighting compounds. However, this time they decided to explore these as potential novel antifungal sources for the benefit of humans and amphibians.

“Amphibians inhabit humid places favoring the growth of , coexisting with these and other microorganisms in their environment, some of which can be pathogenic,” said Smithsonian scientist Roberto Ibáñez, one of the authors of the study published in Scientific Reports. “As a result of evolution, amphibians are expected to possess that can inhibit the growth of pathogenic and fungi.”

The team first travelled to the Chiriquí highlands in Panama, where the , responsible for the disease chytridiomycosis, has severely affected populations. They collected samples from seven to find out what kind of skin bacteria they harbored.

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Mar 3, 2019

Doomsday Clock Is Staying at Two Minutes to Midnight This Year

Posted by in categories: climatology, existential risks, military, sustainability

According to the Bulletin, we’ve done nothing in the past year to make the situation any less precarious — humanity still faces not one, but two “existential threats” in the form of nuclear weapons and climate change.

While the clock remains set at 11:58, the potential of either threat to destroy humanity has increased over the past 12 months, according to the Bulletin’s 2019 statement. We must do something to alter our path.

“Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world,” the scientists wrote. “The current international security situation — what we call the ‘new abnormal’ — has extended over two years now… Th e longer world leaders and citizens carelessly inhabit this new and abnormal reality, the more likely the world is to experience catastrophe of historic proportions.”

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Feb 22, 2019

Hawaii’s False Missile Alert Shows Americans Have No Idea What to Do in Nuclear Attack

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military

Many people in Hawaii faced that very question on Jan. 13, 2018. That morning, at 8:07 a.m. local time, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent out an alert advising residents to seek shelter from an incoming ballistic missile.

Unbeknownst to just about everyone at the time, however, the alert was a false alarm. Even the operator who sent out the alarm, issued over text messages and on TV and radio stations, thought it was real. But it was accidentally sent out during a shift change, and the incoming operator didn’t realize that the alert was part of a preparedness drill.


An erroneous alert about a nuclear attack was sent to Hawaii residents. The ensuing confusion and hysteria revealed that Americans are not prepared.

Continue reading “Hawaii’s False Missile Alert Shows Americans Have No Idea What to Do in Nuclear Attack” »

Feb 20, 2019

Could Magnonics Spark the Extinction of Electronics?

Posted by in categories: electronics, existential risks

Watch Could Magnonics Spark the Extinction of Electronics?, a Tech video from Seeker.

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Feb 19, 2019

Without Bugs, We Might All Be Dead

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, economics, existential risks, food, genetics

There are 1.4 billion insects for each one of us. Though you often need a microscope to see them, insects are “the lever pullers of the world,” says David MacNeal, author of Bugged. They do everything from feeding us to cleaning up waste to generating $57 billion for the U.S. economy alone.

Today, many species are faced with extinction. When National Geographic caught up with MacNeal in Los Angeles, he explained why this would be catastrophic for life on Earth and why a genetically engineered bee could save hives—and our food supply—worldwide.

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Feb 18, 2019

Diversity on land is not higher today than in the past, study shows

Posted by in categories: computing, existential risks

The rich levels of biodiversity on land seen across the globe today are not a recent phenomenon: diversity on land has been similar for at least the last 60 million years, since soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham and involving an international team of collaborators, the number of species within ecological communities on land has increased only sporadically through geological time, with rapid increases in being followed by plateaus lasting tens of millions of years.

Previously, many scientists have argued that diversity increased steadily through , which would mean that biodiversity today is much greater than it was tens of millions of years ago. But building an accurate picture of how land diversity was assembled is challenging because the fossil record generally becomes less complete further back in time. By using modern computing techniques, capable of analysing hundreds of thousands of fossils, patterns are starting to emerge that challenge this view.

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Feb 18, 2019

Asteroid the size of Big Ben is hurtling towards Earth, NASA warns

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Uh oh…

(Via Mirror Tech)


The space rock, dubbed 2013 MD8 will make a ‘close approach’ to our planet tomorrow afternoon.

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Feb 14, 2019

Tardigrade: The micro-animal scientists can’t kill

Posted by in categories: existential risks, life extension

They’re little battlers, the greatest survivors on the planet and you may have them in your garden, writes Lana Hart.

They’ve been boiled, frozen, put in vacuums, starved, and exposed to unbearable pressures and radiation — but scientists can’t kill this creature.

They are the only animal to have survived all five of earth’s mass extinctions. This incredible feat is due to their development of unique survival mechanisms not seen in other parts of the animal kingdom.

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Feb 12, 2019

The real purpose of Russia’s 100-megaton underwater nuclear doomsday device

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military

  • Russia is said to have built a new 100-megaton underwater nuclear doomsday device, and it has threatened the US with it.
  • The device goes beyond traditional ideas of nuclear warfighting and poses a direct threat to the future of humanity or life on Earth.
  • Nobody has ever built a weapon like this before, because there’s almost no military utility in so badly destroying the world.
  • But an expert on nuclear strategy told Business Insider the weapon might have a larger role in helping Russian President Vladimir Putin break down NATO with the threat of nuclear destruction.

Since 2015, when images of a Russian nuclear torpedo first leaked on state television, the world has asked itself why Moscow would build a weapon that could end all life on Earth.

While all nuclear weapons can kill thousands in the blink of an eye and leave radiation poisoning the environment for years to come, Russia’s new doomsday device, called “Poseidon,” takes steps to maximize this effect.

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Feb 12, 2019

Insects are dying off at record rates — an ominous sign we’re in the middle of a 6th mass extinction

Posted by in category: existential risks

Forty-one percent of the world’s insects are in decline as part of the sixth mass extinction. If the decline continues, Earth could be devoid of insects in 100 years.

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