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Jun 3, 2021

How Aerofarms’ vertical farms grow produce

Posted by in categories: business, sustainability

In our series, Real Food, we take a look at the growing trend of vertical farming. Companies like Aerofarms are rethinking how we grow vegetables by going up to provided fresh and affordable produce. Michelle Miller reports.

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Jun 3, 2021

The most detailed 3D map of the Universe ever made

Posted by in category: space

Cosmologists have unveiled a trove of fresh data, but the measurements do not settle earlier questions about the Universe’s unexpected smoothness.

Jun 3, 2021

Researchers rewire the genetics of E. coli, make it virus-proof

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, genetics

Many of the fundamental features of life don’t necessarily have to be the way they are. Chance plays a major role in evolution, and there are always alternate paths that were never explored, simply because whatever evolved previously happened to be good enough. One instance of this idea is the genetic code, which converts the information carried by our DNA into the specific sequence of amino acids that form proteins. There are scores of potential amino acids, many of which can form spontaneously, but most life uses a genetic code that relies on just 20 of them.

Over the past couple of decades, scientists have shown that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you supply bacteria with the right enzyme and an alternative amino acid, they can use it. But bacteria won’t use the enzyme and amino acid very efficiently, as all the existing genetic code slots are already in use.

In a new work, researchers have managed to edit bacteria’s genetic code to free up a few new slots. They then filled those slots with unnatural amino acids, allowing the bacteria to produce proteins that would never be found in nature. One side effect of the reprogramming? No viruses could replicate in the modified bacteria.

Jun 3, 2021

Radiopharmaceuticals Emerging as New Cancer Therapy

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Radiation therapy was first used to treat cancer more than 100 years ago. About half of all cancer patients still receive it at some point during their treatment. And until recently, most radiation therapy was given much as it was 100 years ago, by delivering beams of radiation from outside the body to kill tumors inside the body.

Though effective, external radiation can also cause collateral damage. Even with modern radiation therapy equipment, “you have to [hit] normal tissue to get to a tumor,” said Charles Kunos, M.D., Ph.D., of NCI’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP). The resulting side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body treated but can include loss of taste, skin changes, hair loss, diarrhea, and sexual problems.

Now, researchers are developing a new class of drugs called radiopharmaceuticals, which deliver radiation therapy directly and specifically to cancer cells. The last several years have seen an explosion of research and clinical trials testing new

Jun 3, 2021

Scientists reprogrammed bacteria to be immune to viruses

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Scientists created a synthetic genome for a bacterium by stringing together building blocks of DNA — and the new genome made the microbe immune to viral infection.

Even when exposed to a cocktail of bacteriophages — viruses that infect bacteria — the designer Escherichia coli remained unscathed, while an unmodified version of the bacterium quickly succumbed to the viral attack and died, the research team reported in their new study, published Thursday (June 3) in the journal Science. That’s because viruses usually hijack a cell’s internal machinery to make new copies of themselves, but in the designer E. coli, that machinery no longer existed.

Jun 3, 2021

DARPA Calling for AI Proposals to Measure How Authoritarian Regimes Control Information

Posted by in categories: internet, robotics/AI


Tech developed under the program could help the Defense Department react to repressive actions in cyberspace.

Jun 3, 2021

China’s gigantic multi-modal AI is no one-trick pony

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, supercomputing

When Open AI’s GPT-3 model made its debut in May of 2020, its performance was widely considered to be the literal state of the art. Capable of generating text indiscernible from human-crafted prose, GPT-3 set a new standard in deep learning. But oh what a difference a year makes. Researchers from the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence announced on Tuesday the release of their own generative deep learning model, Wu Dao, a mammoth AI seemingly capable of doing everything GPT-3 can do, and more.

First off, Wu Dao is flat out enormous. It’s been trained on 1.75 trillion parameters (essentially, the model’s self-selected coefficients) which is a full ten times larger than the 175 billion GPT-3 was trained on and 150 billion parameters larger than Google’s Switch Transformers.

In order to train a model on this many parameters and do so quickly — Wu Dao 2.0 arrived just three months after version 1.0’s release in March — the BAAI researchers first developed an open-source learning system akin to Google’s Mixture of Experts, dubbed FastMoE. This system, which is operable on PyTorch, enabled the model to be trained both on clusters of supercomputers and conventional GPUs. This gave FastMoE more flexibility than Google’s system since FastMoE doesn’t require proprietary hardware like Google’s TPUs and can therefore run on off-the-shelf hardware — supercomputing clusters notwithstanding.

Jun 3, 2021

[Video] Inside Asia’s first underground seed vault

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

But the above-ground structure of the Baekdu-daegan Seed Vault belies the true size of this sprawling underground structure.

The idea of building a Seed Vault in South Korea initially began with the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in 2010. Officially launched in 2016 and designated a national security facility since 2019, the Baekdu-daegan Seed Vault’s main purpose is to secure biodiversity from threats such as natural disasters, climate change and war, to support sustainable life for human beings.

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Jun 3, 2021

85-Year-Old Marathoner Is So Fast That Even Scientists Marvel

Posted by in category: life extension

Ed Whitlock remains at the forefront among older athletes who have led scientists to reassess the possibilities of aging and performance.

Jun 3, 2021

Exchange Servers Targeted by ‘Epsilon Red’ Malware

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, encryption

REvil threat actors may be behind a set of PowerShell scripts developed for encryption and weaponized to exploit vulnerabilities in corporate networks, the ransom note suggests.

Threat actors have deployed new ransomware on the back of a set of PowerShell scripts developed for making encryption, exploiting flaws in unpatched Exchange Servers to attack the corporate network, according to recent research.

Researchers from security firm Sophos detected the new ransomware, called Epsilon Red, in an investigation of an attack on a U.S.-based company in the hospitality sector, Sophos Principal Researcher Andrew Brandt wrote in a report published online.