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Mar 21, 2020

Valve president Gabe Newell: ‘We’re way closer to The Matrix than people realize’

Posted by in categories: computing, neuroscience, virtual reality

Think we’re far off from The Matrix? Gabe Newell says you should think again.

In a rare interview with IGN ahead of next week’s release of Half-Life: Alyx, Newell reasoned that more advanced forms of VR might not be too far out. “We’re way closer to The Matrix than people realize,” he stated. “It’s not going to be ‘The Matrix’, The Matrix is a movie and it misses all the interesting technical subtleties and just how weird the post-brain-computer interface world is going to be. But it’s going to have a huge impact on the kinds of experiences that we can create for people.”

Mar 21, 2020

Estimating clinical severity of COVID-19 from the transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

As of 29 February 2020 there were 79,394 confirmed cases and 2,838 deaths from COVID-19 in mainland China. Of these, 48,557 cases and 2,169 deaths occurred in the epicenter, Wuhan. A key public health priority during the emergence of a novel pathogen is estimating clinical severity, which requires properly adjusting for the case ascertainment rate and the delay between symptoms onset and death. Using public and published information, we estimate that the overall symptomatic case fatality risk (the probability of dying after developing symptoms) of COVID-19 in Wuhan was 1.4% (0.9–2.1%), which is substantially lower than both the corresponding crude or naïve confirmed case fatality risk (2,169/48,557 = 4.5%) and the approximator1 of deaths/deaths + recoveries (2,169/2,169 + 17,572 = 11%) as of 29 February 2020. Compared to those aged 30–59 years, those aged below 30 and above 59 years were 0.6 (0.3–1.1) and 5.1 (4.2–6.1) times more likely to die after developing symptoms. The risk of symptomatic infection increased with age (for example, at ~4% per year among adults aged 30–60 years).

Mar 21, 2020

Join our free Digital Conference on ‘The Future of Business’ March 26 6pm CET

Posted by in categories: business, events, futurism
Futurists Anton Musgrave, Gerd Leonhard, Liselotte Lygnso, KD Adamson

Greetings everyone! The Futures Agency (my company) recently launched the new digital conference series which is generating huge interest from around the globe; the last one had 650 signups and 330 people attending. Not only are these events utterly needed and appreciated as we are all fighting the lock-downs, loss of income and many other consequences of covid19, I think that online conferencing will be a huge business, going forward . We are currently using the amazing platform for our events, but are investigating many other ones as well, such as Vimeo Live, Crowdcast and Lifestorm. I think we won’t ever give up meeting each other in real-life but online meetings and conferences will certainly become the new normal.
So join me for our next event, details below (Zoom direct sign-up is here)
We must keep meeting, learning and collaborating - if we fail to adapt we will fail to exist:)

Greetings from Zürich and stay well!!

Gerd Leonhard

Futurist & Humanist, Keynote Speaker Author of “Technology vs. Humanity”

Continue reading “Join our free Digital Conference on 'The Future of Business' March 26 6pm CET” »

Mar 21, 2020

Universities urge U.S. leaders to boost science budgets

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, science

Four organizations representing the nation’s major research institutions and medical schools today wrote to congressional leaders, urging them to increase research spending at federal science agencies by some 15%, or $13 billion, in order to prevent students and researchers in all scientific disciplines from going broke, to help closed laboratories restart once the pandemic eases, and to cover other unanticipated costs to the academic research enterprise.

Academic scientists plead for help to both conquer COVID-19 and limit its damage.

Mar 21, 2020

Copper kills coronavirus. Why aren’t our surfaces covered in it?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Recently, we’ve encountered the following claim: “#Copper has antimicrobial effect that can help destroy #viruses (including #coronavirus) and #bacteria.” — If you think the message above is fishy, you’re not alone! At first, we’re suspicious as well. However, after a little digging, we found that there may be some truth in it. The following are some references supporting the claim: [Relevant Articles] (Wikipedia: #Antimicrobial properties of #copper) (Fast Company) (Vice) [Scientific Papers — PDF] The biocidal effect of metals such as #copper is called “oligodynamic effect” (or to be more precise, such biocidal effect is carried out by the ions of these metals), and it can happen even when the ions are in low concentration. The effect may involve multiple mechanisms. For instance, #copper can inappropriately bind to some #proteins and accordingly cause these proteins to lose their functions, or #copper can decrease the integrity of the microbes’ membrane and cause important substances such as #potassium and #glutamate to leak out from the cell, etc. Note that this certainly does NOT mean that simply wearing ornaments made of copper can stop #COVID19 and other #pathogens from infecting your body, but it does help you to choose the material of the things you use (e.g., you may want to use copper fork or spoon while dining more often recently)!

Civilizations have recognized copper’s antimicrobial properties for centuries. It’s time to bring the material back.

[Source Images: ekimckim/Blendswap (toilet), blenderjunky/Blendswap (bathroom)].

Continue reading “Copper kills coronavirus. Why aren’t our surfaces covered in it?” »

Mar 20, 2020

French study finds anti-malarial and antibiotic combo could reduce COVID-19 duration

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

A new study whose results were published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents has found early evidence that the combination of hydroxychloroquine, a popular anti-malaria drug known under the trade name Plaqenuil, and antibiotic azithromycin (aka Zithromax or Azithrocin) could be especially effective in treating the COVID-19 coronavirus and reducing the duration of the virus in patients.

The researchers performed a study on 30 confirmed COVID-19 patients, treating each with either hydroxychloroquine on its own, a combination of the medicine with the antibiotic, as well as a control group that received neither. The study was conducted after reports from treatment of Chinese patients indicated that this particular combo had efficacy in shortening the duration of infection in patients.

The patient mix included in the study included six who showed no symptoms whatsoever, as well as 22 who had symptoms in their upper respiratory tract (things like sneezing, headaches and sore throats, and eight who showed lower respiratory tract symptoms (mostly coughing). 20 of the 30 participants in the study received treatment, and the results showed that while hydroxycholoroquine was effective on its own as a treatment, when combined with azithromycin it was even more effective, and by a significant margin.

Mar 20, 2020

Real-Life X-Men: How CRISPR Could Give You Superpowers in the Future

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, futurism

Circa 2018

Could CRISPR technology lead to the development of real-life superheroes like the X-Men? We think yes – and you may be shocked to learn that people with superhuman abilities already walk among us. Learn about how CRISPR could turn the next generation into superhumans who choose their abilities from a catalog.

Mar 20, 2020

This Galaxy Cluster May Have Just Dealt a Major Blow to String Theory

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics, space

In the heart of a galaxy cluster 200 million light-years away, astronomers have failed to detect hypothetical particles called axions.

This places new constraints on how we believe these particles work — but it also has pretty major implications for string theory, and the development of a Theory of Everything that describes how the physical Universe works.

“Until recently I had no idea just how much X-ray astronomers bring to the table when it comes to string theory, but we could play a major role,” said astrophysicist Christopher Reynolds of the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Mar 20, 2020

[UPDATED] Progress On COVID-19 Treatment? Looks Like It

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

It appears that there are some effective treatments for COVID-19 rising up. These could dramatically improve/weaken the effects of the virus.

There’s also some hope that things are better than they seem anyway. There’s growing evidence that a lot of people have COVID-19 but have such mild symptoms that they aren’t being tested and counted as confirmed cases — which means the death rate and statistics about severe cases are much better than they seem. Additionally, it’s possible a larger share of the population is immune to the virus than initially thought:

Continue reading “[UPDATED] Progress On COVID-19 Treatment? Looks Like It” »

Mar 20, 2020

Redeploying plant defences

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The complicated secondary metabolism of plants has been the source of countless medicinal compounds and leads for drug discovery. It is little surprise then that plant products and their analogues have been employed as an early line of defence against COVID-19. On 17 February, the Chinese State Council announced that chloroquine phosphate — a structural analogue of quinine, originally extracted from the bark of cinchona trees — can be used for treating COVID-19 patients. This anti-malarial also has broad-spectrum antiviral activity and regulatory effects on the immune system. Clinical evaluation of chloroquine phosphate in more than ten hospitals across several provinces in China has shown that it alleviates the symptoms for most patients and expedites virus seroconversion.

Epidemic diseases are not a new phenomenon, but easy access to transport in the modern world has accelerated their spread. Perhaps some botanical understanding can help slow them down.