Right here’s how DOE’s first crop of dangerous power tech has achieved

Two seated men in suits have a discussion on a stage.

Enlarge / Former Power Secretary Ernst Moniz speaks at an ARPA-E occasion in 2016. (credit score: DOE / Flickr)

In 2009, the US Division of Power began funding power analysis by means of the Superior Analysis Initiatives Company–Power (or ARPA-E) program. The aim was take extra dangers than conventional federal efforts and assist new renewable power applied sciences get off the bottom. Personal funding had been flagging as a result of sluggish returns, however the large societal advantages of unpolluted power was deemed to justify authorities help. The hope was that the funding may speed up the timeline for brand new know-how to mature to the purpose that non-public buyers would discover the know-how extra enticing.

A minimum of, that was the thought. A crew led by College of Massachusetts Amherst’s Anna Goldstein figured that ARPA-E’s first-class is now sufficiently old to examine in on. She and her colleagues checked out a restricted pattern of 25 startups and located some fascinating methods through which these firms appear to have crushed out the competitors—and a few through which they haven’t.

Greatest at school

The 25 startups chosen in ARPA-E’s first spherical had been in comparison with a number of different teams of firms that had been born across the identical time. The primary group consists of the 39 firms that utilized for ARPA-E funding and didn’t get it however nonetheless obtained an “inspired” runner-up score. Within the subsequent group are the 70 firms that obtained funding from the Workplace of Power Effectivity and Renewable Power (EERE) with associated authorities stimulus spending. And at last, there are virtually 1,200 different clear power startups that discovered their funding elsewhere.

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CDC dramatically restores COVID-19 testing recommendation marred by political meddling

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Enlarge / The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (credit score: Getty | Bloomberg)

In a dramatic transfer, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention on Friday restored its advice to check individuals who have been uncovered to the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, however don’t have signs—erasing politically motivated modifications made by members of the Trump administration with out the help or enter of CDC scientists.

The CDC had—till August 24—at all times really helpful testing for all individuals who have had shut contact (inside 6 ft for 15 minutes or extra) with somebody contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, no matter signs. The CDC acknowledged clearly that that is “necessary” and ought to be carried out rapidly “due to the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission,” which is essentially thought to drive the pandemic.

However the steerage was abruptly and quietly modified August 24 to say that uncovered individuals who wouldn’t have signs “don’t essentially want a take a look at.”

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Listed here are the winners of the 2020 Ig Nobel Prizes to make you chortle, then suppose

The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony: introducing 10 new Ig Nobel Prize winners, every of whom has accomplished one thing that makes folks chortle, then suppose.

Ah, science, tirelessly striving to reply such burning questions as what alligators sound like once they breathe in helium-enriched air and whether or not knives customary out of frozen feces represent a viable chopping device. These and different uncommon analysis matters have been honored tonight in a digital ceremony—due to the continuing pandemic—to announce the 2020 recipients of the annual Ig Nobel Prizes. You possibly can watch the livestream of the awards ceremony above.

Established in 1991, the Ig Nobels are a good-natured parody of the Nobel Prizes that honors “achievements that first make folks chortle, after which make them suppose.” The unapologetically campy award ceremony normally options mini-operas, scientific demos, and the 24/7 lectures whereby specialists should clarify their work twice: as soon as in 24 seconds, and the second in simply seven phrases. Acceptance speeches are restricted to 60 seconds. And because the motto implies, the analysis being honored may appear ridiculous at first look, however that does not imply it’s devoid of scientific benefit. Historically, the winners additionally give public talks in Boston the day after the awards ceremony; this yr, the talks might be given as webcasts just a few weeks from now.

The winners obtain everlasting Ig Nobel fame and a 10-trillion greenback invoice from Zimbabwe. It is a long-running Ig Nobel gag. Zimbabwe stopped utilizing its native forex in 2009 due to skyrocketing inflation and hyperinflation; at its nadir, the 100-trillion greenback invoice was roughly the equal of 40 cents US. (Final yr, the Reserve Financial institution of Zimbabwe launched the “zollar” as a possible substitute.) The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Arithmetic was awarded to the then-head of the RBZ, Gideon Gono, “for giving folks a easy, on a regular basis method to deal with a variety of numbers—from very small to very massive—by having his financial institution print financial institution notes with denominations starting from one cent ($.01) to 1 hundred trillion {dollars} ($100,000,000,000,000).”

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Hoverboarding dentist will get 12 years in jail for fraud, illegal dental acts

Close-up photograph of feet on hoverboard on institutional floor.

Enlarge / A person assessments out a Hovertrax hoverboard produced by Razor on the Worldwide Toy Honest 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany, on January 1, 2017. (credit score: Getty | image alliance)

The notorious hoverboarding dentist of Alaska has been discovered responsible of fraud and illegal dental acts and was sentenced to 12 years in jail this week, based on the Anchorage Day by day Information.

Dentist Seth Lookhart was charged with 42 counts in 2017. Many of the expenses associated to a scheme to unnecessarily sedate sufferers or hold them sedated for prolonged durations of time in order that Lookhart may inflate Medicaid billing. Prosecutors discovered that Lookhart extensively detailed the scheme himself in textual content messages and raked in practically $2 million from the unjustified sedation.

However, regardless of his profitable sedations, Lookhart is probably going finest recognized for being the dentist who, in 2016, pulled a tooth from a sedated affected person whereas wobbling on a wheeled “hoverboard” scooter. The proof for this transgression once more got here from Lookhart himself, who had the hoverboard process captured on video. Lookhart then shared the video with a number of individuals.

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After ranting about armed rebellion, high Well being Dept. spokesperson takes go away

A man in a suit walks through an out-of-focus office building.

Enlarge / Former Trump marketing campaign official Michael Caputo arrives on the Hart Senate Workplace constructing to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on Might 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit score: Getty | Mark Wilson)

Michael Caputo—the controversial spokesperson for the US Division of Well being and Human Companies, most just lately identified for watering down federal stories on COVID-19, railing in opposition to social distancing measures, and warning of left-wing “hit-squads” planning a post-election rebel—has taken a 60-day go away of absence from the division.

Caputo “determined to take a go away of absence to give attention to his well being and the well-being of his household,” the HHS mentioned Wednesday in a press release despatched to Ars.

The assertion additionally famous that Caputo’s scientific advisor, Paul Alexander—identified just lately for attempting to muzzle high infectious illness knowledgeable Anthony Fauci—can be on his method out.

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Bonkers federal podcast downplays COVID-19, blasts well being restrictions

Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Former Trump marketing campaign official Michael Caputo arrives on the Hart Senate Workplace constructing to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on Might 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit score: Getty | Mark Wilson)

In a surprising podcast launched by the Division of Well being and Human Companies, two high officers on the division repeatedly downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, railed towards mitigation efforts, referred to as closures of in-person education “nonsense,” and mentioned US journalists don’t “[give] a rattling about public well being data.”

The podcast, launched on the HHS web site September 11, is a part of a sequence hosted by Michael Caputo, who presently holds the title of HHS assistant secretary of public affairs. Although Caputo has no background in well being care, the White Home put in him within the division in April—a transfer reportedly made to claim extra White Home management over HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Caputo is a longtime Trump loyalist and former marketing campaign official. He obtained his begin as a protégé of Roger Stone and later labored as a Moscow-based advisor to Boris Yeltsin and did public relations work for Vladimir Putin.

Studying curve

Caputo has most just lately made headlines for working to intervene with and alter scientific experiences on COVID-19 ready by researchers on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. The meddling was supposed to make experiences extra consistent with messaging from Trump, who has admitted to downplaying the pandemic. Caputo additionally raised eyebrows with a Fb dwell video, reported by The New York Instances Monday, wherein, with out proof, he accused authorities scientists of partaking in “sedition” and claimed that the CDC is harboring a “resistance unit.” He additionally spoke of lengthy “shadows” in his DC condo and mentioned left-wing “hit-squads” had been making ready for armed revolt after the election.

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Chemical that shouldn’t be there noticed in Venus’ environment

Image of a pale circle with irregular lines in front of it.

Enlarge / The spectral signature of phosphine superimposed on a picture of Venus. (credit score: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Greaves et al. & JCMT)

As we speak, researchers are saying that they’ve noticed a chemical within the environment of Venus that has no proper to be there. The chemical, phosphine (a phosphorus atom hooked as much as three hydrogens), can be unstable within the circumstances present in Venus’ environment, and there is not any apparent method for the planet’s chemistry to create a lot of it.

That is resulting in loads of hypothesis in regards to the equally unlikely prospect of life in some way surviving in Venus’ higher environment. However quite a bit about this work requires enter from individuals not concerned within the preliminary examine, which right now’s publication is more likely to immediate. Whereas there are positively causes to assume phosphine is current on Venus, its detection required some fairly concerned laptop evaluation. And there are positively some artistic chemists who’re going to need to rethink the doable chemistry of our closest neighbor.

What’s phosphine?

Phosphorus is one row beneath nitrogen on the periodic desk. And simply as nitrogen can mix with three hydrogen atoms to type the acquainted ammonia, phosphorus can bind with three hydrogens to type phosphine. Below Earth-like circumstances, phosphine is a gasoline, however not a nice one: it is extraordinarily poisonous and tends to spontaneously combust within the presence of oxygen. And that later function is why we do not see a lot of it right now; it is merely unstable within the presence of any oxygen.

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How the Warsaw Ghetto beat again typhus throughout World Struggle II

Painting by Israel Bernbaum depicting Jewish children in Warsaw Ghetto and in the death camps (1981).

Enlarge / Portray by Israel Bernbaum depicting Jewish kids in Warsaw Ghetto and within the demise camps (1981). (credit score: Monclair State College assortment)

Through the Nazi occupation of Poland throughout World Struggle II, Jewish residents in Warsaw had been forcibly confined to a district often known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The crowded, unsanitary situations and meager meals rations predictably led to a lethal outbreak of typhus fever in 1941. However the outbreak mysteriously halted earlier than winter arrived, fairly than turning into extra virulent with the colder climate. In line with a latest paper within the journal Science Advances, it was measures put into place by the ghetto docs and Jewish council members that curbed the unfold of typhus: particularly, social distancing, self-isolation, public lectures, and the institution of an underground college to coach medical college students.

Typhus (aka “jail fever” or “gaol fever”) has been round for hundreds of years. Lately, outbreaks are comparatively uncommon, restricted to areas with dangerous sanitary situations and densely packed populations—prisons and ghettos, as an illustration—because the epidemic selection is unfold by physique lice. (Technically, typhus is a bunch of associated infectious illnesses.) However they do happen: there was an outbreak among the many Los Angeles homeless inhabitants in 2018-2019.

Those that contract typhus expertise a sudden fever and accompanying flu-like signs, adopted 5 to 9 days later by a rash that step by step spreads over the physique. If left untreated with antibiotics, the affected person begins to indicate indicators of meningoencephalitis (an infection of the mind)—sensitivity to gentle, seizures, and delirium, as an illustration—earlier than slipping right into a coma and, typically, dying. There isn’t any vaccine towards typhus, even at present. It is often prevented by limiting human publicity to the illness vectors (lice) by bettering the situations by which outbreaks can flourish.

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Political appointees demand capacity to rewrite CDC case stories

Image of a man holding his hand to his ear in order to hear better.

Enlarge / Robert Redfield, director of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), listens throughout a Home Choose Subcommittee on the Coronavirus. Redfield could also be discovering himself trapped between scientists and political appointees. (credit score: Getty Photographs)

Political appointees within the Division of Well being and Human providers are objecting to stories on the COVID-19 pandemic from the Facilities for Illness Management, and try to train editorial management of future stories. That is the underside line of an in depth report from Politico that was based mostly on each inside emails and interviews with folks within the group. The issues apparently stem from the fact-based stories from the CDC working counter to the Trump administration’s most well-liked narrative in regards to the unfold of the pandemic and the suitable public well being responses.

The CDC paperwork at concern are termed Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which give fast summaries of the state of our information about public well being points. Usually, they’re the product of a CDC-backed investigation right into a identified concern; up to now, they’ve centered on issues like outbreaks of food-borne diseases. Whereas they do not have the load of peer-reviewed literature, they’re extensively thought-about to be scientifically dependable, and their fast publication makes them a beneficial useful resource for public well being officers.

It is simple to see how the stories’ correct info could possibly be seen as counter to the popular message of the Trump administration. Trump has made reopening colleges a centerpiece of his pandemic coverage, however CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly stories have described how SARS-CoV-2 can unfold quickly in a school-aged inhabitants, how younger kids can deliver the illness dwelling and move it on to adults, and the way kids can undergo extreme problems from the illness.

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Rush Limbaugh downplaying hurricane Irma could have decreased evacuations

Hurricane Irma as it strikes Florida.

Enlarge / Hurricane Irma because it strikes Florida. (credit score: NASA EO)

Earlier than Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017, radio entertainer (and Florida resident) Rush Limbaugh falsely ranted that landfalling hurricanes are “by no means as robust as they’re reported,” claiming that life-saving forecasts are exaggerated “to advance this local weather change agenda.” Past his radio viewers, the feedback generated a good quantity of stories protection. But Limbaugh evacuated his beachfront mansion a number of days later.

Given the cultural polarization about sure scientific details, it’s honest to marvel if these irresponsible falsehoods had a discernible influence on evacuations. UCLA’s Elisa Lengthy, Keith Chen, and Ryne Rohla used a phone-location dataset to search out out. They in contrast evacuations for Irma to these in Texas for Hurricane Harvey and to Florida’s 2016 Hurricane Matthew.

The dataset contains anonymized places from tens of millions of telephones, so it requires some simplified processing. Every telephone’s residence location is outlined by its most typical location within the week earlier to the primary hurricane alert. Then, for a window of time across the hurricane, evacuations are decided by a change in location that lasts a minimum of 24 hours.

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