ReHacked vol. 212: Methane may not warm the Earth quite as much as previously thought, Micro-and Nanoplastics Breach the Blood-Brain Barrier, First images captured by balloon-borne telescope, and more

ReHacked vol. 212: Methane may not warm the Earth quite as much as previously thought, Micro-and Nanoplastics Breach the Blood-Brain Barrier, First images captured by balloon-borne telescope, and more
The SuperBIT telescope in New Zealand prior to the launch (photo courtesy of Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility)

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First space images captured by balloon-borne telescope #space

Astronomers have successfully launched a balloon-borne telescope that has begun capturing images of the universe on its first flight above the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Super Pressure Balloon-Borne Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) was flown to the edge of space by a helium-filled NASA scientific balloon the size of a football stadium. There, it will help researchers investigate the mystery of dark matter.

SuperBIT has already taken its first images on this flight, showing the “Tarantula Nebula” – a bright cluster of gas and dust in a galaxy neighbourhood near our Milky Way – and the collision between the two galaxies NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, known as “the Antennae.”

Ban all gambling adverts, say more than half of Britons | Gambling | The Guardian #society #health #ads

More than half the public would like to see a ban on gambling advertising, according to a new poll taken as ministers prepare to unveil an overhaul of the industry. In the survey, carried out for the charity Gambling with Lives, 52% of respondents said they supported a ban on all gambling advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and nearly two-thirds wanted new limits on online stakes.

Nanomaterials | Free Full-Text | Micro- and Nanoplastics Breach the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB): Biomolecular Corona’s Role Revealed #health #nature #ecology

Humans are continuously exposed to polymeric materials such as in textiles, car tires and packaging. Unfortunately, their break down products pollute our environment, leading to widespread contamination with micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs). The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is an important biological barrier that protects the brain from harmful substances. In our study we performed short term uptake studies in mice with orally administered polystyrene micro-/nanoparticles (9.55 µm, 1.14 µm, 0.293 µm). We show that nanometer sized particles—but not bigger particles—reach the brain within only 2 h after gavage. To understand the transport mechanism, we performed coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations on the interaction of DOPC bilayers with a polystyrene nanoparticle in the presence and absence of various coronae. We found that the composition of the biomolecular corona surrounding the plastic particles was critical for passage through the BBB. Cholesterol molecules enhanced the uptake of these contaminants into the membrane of the BBB, whereas the protein model inhibited it. These opposing effects could explain the passive transport of the particles into the brain.

How Did the Chess Pieces Get Their Names? - Atlas Obscura #interesting #chess #history

A game of chess is like a Chinese newspaper: a set of symbols that can be understood by people who speak different languages. In the Chinese example, Mandarin and Cantonese speakers can read and understand the same text, even though they use different words for the same concepts.

Chess, too, is perfectly intelligible by participants who share no other communication skills. But scratch the surface and the standardized game reveals a multitude of linguistic particularities. One player’s pawn is another’s farmer. What you may call a bishop, somebody else knows as an elephant. Or a fool.

Methane may not warm the Earth quite as much as previously thought #nature

Methane is a greenhouse gas with dual personalities. It heats Earth’s atmosphere 28 times as potently as carbon dioxide, gram for gram. But its absorption of the sun’s radiation high in the atmosphere also alters cloud patterns — casting a bit of shadow on its warming effect.

So rather than adding even more thermal energy to the atmosphere, as previously thought, methane’s solar absorption sets off a cascade of events that reduces its overall warming effect by about 30 percent, researchers report March 16 in Nature Geoscience.

ChatGPT is taking ghostwriters’ jobs in Kenya - Rest of World #economy #ai #society

For the past nine years, Collins, a 27-year-old freelance writer, has been making money by writing assignments for students in the U.S. — over 8,500 miles away from Nanyuki in central Kenya, where he lives. He is part of the “contract cheating” industry, known locally as simply “academic writing.” Collins writes college essays on topics including psychology, sociology, and economics. Occasionally, he is even granted direct access to college portals, allowing him to submit tests and assignments, participate in group discussions, and talk to professors using students’ identities. In 2022, he made between $900 and $1,200 a month from this work.

Lately, however, his earnings have dropped to $500–$800 a month. Collins links this to the meteoric rise of ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence tools.

Elon Musk, Tech Bosses Are Letting Dictators Censor What Americans See #internet #censorship #dystopian

Last week, investigative journalist Saurav Das shared the fact that—in response to legal demands—Twitter blocked access to two tweets he had posted about India’s Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah. Censorship demands originating from the Indian government are nothing new, and Twitter boss Elon Musk has thus far agreed to grant them, blocking the material from view within India.

This is in line with Musk’s faulty understanding of “free speech” as a simple reflection of an individual country’s laws, no matter how oppressive.

Space Elevator #fun

Lithuania: Students stop university from using only proprietary authentication - FSFE #privacy #security

Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU), a public university in Lithuania, recently attempted to make 2FA methods mandatory for access to its platforms. The problem came when some students noticed that the available methods would make the platforms inaccessible to those who did not wish to use proprietary tools. Students using phones run by Free Software would lose access to their university tools, such as email. So they demanded open standards and Free Software. After weeks of student complaints, and with no official explanation, the measure was reversed. In a symbolic act, one student even hacked the university’s GitLab instance and reported it to the IT department.

How ChatGPT is Disrupting Japan | Tokyo Weekender #ai #politics

When a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party, Kazuma Nakatani, recently asked Prime Minister Fumio Kishida questions generated by ChatGPT during a Diet session, it ignited a discussion that’s been mostly absent from Japan over the past several months.

Nakatani asked the chatbot, “If you were a lower house Diet member, what kind of questions would you ask the prime minister?”

ChatGPT posed, in relation to a recent bill amendment, “Are the opinions of local government and healthcare professionals being sufficiently reflected? And could you please tell me about the reactions of those involved in regard to the revised bill?”

The responses, generated by both Kishida and the AI, form my favorite part of the discussion:

Kishida: “This bill has been amended to sufficiently respond to the opinions and requests (of involved parties).”

ChatGPT: “(The proposed amendment bill) is working to sufficiently reflect the opinions of local government and healthcare professionals.”

Building telescopes on the Moon could transform astronomy – and it's becoming an achievable goal #astronomy #space

Several types of astronomy would benefit. The most obvious is radio astronomy, which can be conducted from the side of the Moon that always faces away from Earth – the far side.

The lunar far side is permanently shielded from the radio signals generated by humans on Earth. During the lunar night, it is also protected from the Sun. These characteristics make it probably the most “radio-quiet” location in the whole solar system as no other planet or moon has a side that permanently faces away from the Earth. It is therefore ideally suited for radio astronomy.

Radio waves are a form of electromagnetic energy – as are, for example, infrared, ultraviolet and visible-light waves. They are defined by having different wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Qantas A380s back in service after years in California’s Mojave Desert #economy

This month, the last Qantas Airbus A380 embarked on its long voyage home after close to 1000 days in Victorville boneyard within California’s Mojave Desert. Qantas was Australia’s only long-haul carrier during the pandemic and although its planes may be close to back in action, the airline does not expect its international flying to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024.

This is partly because of the complexity of returning an aircraft of such magnitude to service. Reviving an A380 requires 4500 hours of manpower, where its 22 wheels, 16 brakes and internal furnishings are replaced. Tasks including replacing all oxygen cylinders, fire extinguishers and inflatable slides have derailed the process for some airlines by months, due to the ongoing global supply shortage of crucial parts.

In 1930, the 22-million-pound Indiana Bell building was rotated 90 degrees over a month at a rate of 15 inches per hour, while 600 employees worked inside. #engineering #history

Russian spies are using Tinder to ensnare German soldiers and politicians to get them to disclose Ukraine war secrets, counterintelligence warns #world #security

  • Russian spies are using Tinder to pursue intelligence about the Ukraine war, Germany warned.
  • Spies are targeting German soldiers and politicians, the country's counterintelligence service said.
  • Intelligence services like Russia's appear to be using the dating app to seek intel and recruits.

Russian spies are using Tinder to target German politicians and soldiers in order to get intelligence related to the war in Ukraine, according to German counterintelligence.

Phyllis Latour Doyle: The Forgotten Spy Whose Knitting Helped Pave the Way for D-Day | A Mighty Girl #history

She also explained how she concealed her codes: "I always carried knitting because my codes were on a piece of silk – I had about 2,000 I could use. When I used a code I would just pinprick it to indicate it had gone. I wrapped the piece of silk around a knitting needle and put it in a flat shoe lace which I used to tie my hair up." Coded messages took a half an hour to send, and the Germans could identify where a signal was sent from in an hour and a half, so Doyle moved constantly to avoid detection. At times, she stayed with Allied sympathizers, but often she had to sleep in forests and forage for food. During her months in Normandy, Doyle sent 135 secret messages conveying invaluable information on Nazi troop positions, which was used to help Allied forces prepare for the Normandy landings on D-Day and during the subsequent military campaign. Doyle continued her mission until France's liberation in August 1944.

Indian government empowers itself to “fact check,” delete social media posts - Rest of World #world #freespeech #censorship

The Indian government on April 6 announced a state-run fact-checking unit that will have sweeping powers to label any piece of information related to the government as “fake, false or misleading” and have it removed from social media. The country has tweaked its tech rules that now require platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to take down content flagged by the fact-checking body. Internet service providers are also expected to block URLs to such content. Failure to comply could result in the platforms losing safe harbor protection that safeguards them from legal action against any content posted by their users, said India’s minister of information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

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