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Which war to fight first

  • vi vs emacs
  • tabs vs spaces
  • static vs dynamic typing
  • gui vs text
  • functional vs OOP
  • Light vs Dark theme
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:128 | Votes:215

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 18, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Pew!-Pew!-Pew! dept.

FedEx Asks Permission to Install Anti-Missile Lasers on Its Cargo Jet:

FedEx has asked the US Federal Aviation Administration if it could install anti-missile lasers on cargo jets, according to a request filed earlier this month. The FAA request is set to be published on the public register next week.

Heat-seeking missiles detect and target heat from cargo jet engines, and because these planes are less maneuverable that a fighter jet, they're hard to shake off. Gizmodo reports that anti-missile lasers act like a distraction, shining an infrared laser directly at the missile to disrupt its ability to track a heat signature.

Although it may seem out of left field, supply chain issues have been causing food and product shortages since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Last year, hackers even deployed ransomware attacks on a major agricultural services provider. With those cyberpunk logistics challenges in mind, FedEx's application makes a little more sense.

"In recent years, in several incidents abroad, civilian aircraft were fired upon by man-portable air defense systems," the application letter reads.

[...] When FedEx first tested similar equipment back in 2008, CBS reported the lasers were eye-safe. In addition, Gizmodo reports that the current application includes new features, reporting and important safety information for airline crew. The lasers really shouldn't pose a problem to civilians on the ground, then, and it makes us wonder — should all passenger planes have this tech?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 18, @09:16PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the why-do-we-need-artificial-intellegence-anyway dept.

Israeli researchers train fish to drive robotic car:

A goldfish has successfully driven a robotic car, claims new research from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, discovered as part of an experiment to explore animal behavior.

The researchers wanted to know whether animals' innate navigational abilities are universal or are restricted to their home environments. Taking the premise to the extreme, they designed a set of wheels under a goldfish tank with a camera system to record and translate the fish's movements into forward and back and side-to-side directions to the wheels. By doing so, they discovered that a goldfish's navigational ability supersedes its watery environs.

Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioural Brain Research. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166432821005994?via%3Dihub

The researchers tested whether the fish was really navigating by placing a clearly visible target on the wall opposite the tank. After a few days of training, the fish navigated to the target. Moreover, they were able to do so even if they were interrupted in the middle by hitting a wall, and they were not fooled by false targets placed by the researchers.

Link includes a video that is pretty convincing. The fish does at least as good of a job as the early qualifying attempts I saw for the first Grand Challenge Darpa competition.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 18, @06:34PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

A huge, kilometer-wide asteroid will pass by Earth today:

It will pass within 1.2 million miles of our planet, moving at 47,344 miles per hour, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks potentially hazardous comets and asteroids that could collide with our planet.

The approaching asteroid is known as 7482 (1994 PC1), and it was discovered in 1994, according to NASA.

Nobody expects 7482 (1994 PC1) to hit Earth, but it's the closest the asteroid will come for the next two centuries, according to NASA projections. The asteroid is expected to be at its nearest to our planet at 4.51 p.m. ET.

[...] It won't be the largest asteroid ever to sweep past Earth. That honor belongs to the asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3), which flew by and missed colliding with Earth on September 1, 2017. That asteroid is estimated to be between 2.5 miles and 5.5miles wide, and it will make another pass on September 2, 2057.

[...] While the asteroid is unlikely to be visible today with the naked eye, amateur astronomers with a small telescope should be able to spot it, according to the website EarthSky.com.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 18, @03:50PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-back-on-again...Oh...wait. dept.

World's first MRAM-based in-memory computing:

Samsung Electronics today announced its demonstration of the world's first in-memory computing based on MRAM (Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory).

[...] In the standard computer architecture, data is stored in memory chips and data computing is executed in separate processor chips.

In contrast, in-memory computing is a new computing paradigm that seeks to perform both data storage and data computing in a memory network. Since this scheme can process a large amount of data stored within the memory network itself without having to move the data, and also because the data processing in the memory network is executed in a highly parallel manner, power consumption is substantially reduced. In-memory computing has thus emerged as one of the promising technologies to realize next-generation low-power AI semiconductor chips.

For this reason, research on in-memory computing has been intensely pursued worldwide. [...] By contrast, it has so far been difficult to use MRAM—another type of non-volatile memory—for in-memory computing despite MRAM's merits such as operation speed, endurance and large-scale production. This difficulty stems from the low resistance of MRAM, due to which MRAM cannot enjoy the power reduction advantage when used in the standard in-memory computing architecture.

The Samsung Electronics researchers have [...] succeeded in developing an MRAM array chip that demonstrates in-memory computing, by replacing the standard, 'current-sum' in-memory computing architecture with a new, 'resistance sum' in-memory computing architecture, which addresses the problem of small resistances of individual MRAM devices.

Samsung's research team subsequently tested the performance of this MRAM in-memory computing chip by running it to perform AI computing. The chip achieved an accuracy of 98% in classification of hand-written digits and a 93% accuracy in detecting faces from scenes.

[...] "In-memory computing draws similarity to the brain in the sense that in the brain, computing also occurs within the network of biological memories, or synapses, the points where neurons touch one another," said Dr. Seungchul Jung, the first author of the paper. "In fact, while the computing performed by our MRAM network for now has a different purpose from the computing performed by the brain, such solid-state memory network may in the future be used as a platform to mimic the brain by modeling the brain's synapse connectivity."

Journal Reference:
Seungchul Jung, Hyungwoo Lee, Sungmeen Myung, et al. A crossbar array of magnetoresistive memory devices for in-memory computing, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04196-6)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 18, @01:06PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Ψ dept.

Astronomers may have found a second Neptune-size exomoon hidden in the retired Kepler space telescope's data

Despite an explosion of exoplanet discoveries since the 1990s, astronomers have not confirmed the discovery of a single exomoon. In fact, only around a dozen exomoon candidates have been put forward up to now.

In 2018, David Kipping (Columbia University) and Alex Teachey (now at Academia Sinica, Taiwan) were the first, tentatively reporting a possible Neptune-radius moon about 7,800 light-years from Earth: Kepler-1625 b-i. Now, the astronomers and other colleagues have announced the discovery of another exomoon, published January 14th in Nature Astronomy. However, just as before, they urge both caution and the need for further observations.

The putative exomoon, designated Kepler-1708 b-i, was found 5,700 light-years away, orbiting a Jupiter-size planet around a star similar to the Sun. The planet is on a Mars-like orbit, at about 1.6 astronomical units (a.u.). Its moon orbits about 12 planetary radii away, similar to Europa's distance from Jupiter. Unlike Europa, though, Kepler-1708 b-i is huge, about 2.5 times Earth's size. This means the moon would be unlike any satellite in our solar system.

Journal Reference:
David Kipping, Steve Bryson, Chris Burke, et al. An exomoon survey of 70 cool giant exoplanets and the new candidate Kepler-1708 b-i [open], Nature Astronomy (DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01539-1)

Yet another observation to add onto JWST's schedule.

Also at Scientific American.

Previously: First Exo-Moon Discovered?
First Known Exomoon May Have Been Detected: Kepler 1625b i
New Evidence Supports Existence of Neptune-Sized Exomoon Orbiting Kepler-1625b
Exomoon Confirmation Remains Elusive


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 18, @10:21AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The UK Government is reportedly preparing a PR blitz against end-to-end encryption:

Meta recently said that it would implement end-to-end encryption in Facebook Messenger and Instagram by 2023, despite strong opposition from governments in the UK and elsewhere. However, the UK Home Office is reportedly planning an ad campaign to mobilize public opinion against end-to-end encryption using what critics called "scaremongering" tactics, according to a report from Rolling Stone.

The UK government plans to team up with charities and law enforcement agencies on a public relations blitz created by M&C Saatchi advertising agency, the report states. The aim of the campaign is to relay a message that end-to-end encryption could hamper efforts to curb child exploitation online. 

"We have engaged M&C Saatchi to bring together the many organizations who share our concerns about the impact end-to-end encryption would have on our ability to keep children safe," a Home Office spokesperson told Rolling Stone in a statement. The government has allocated £534,000 ($730,500) for the blitz, according to a letter sent from the Home Office in response to a freedom of information request. 


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 18, @07:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the common-sense dept.

CTA announces availability of Ripple:

Officials at the Consumer Technology Association have announced the development and availability of Ripple, an open radar API standard. The API is being presented as an industry standard for the interoperability of hardware and software systems that make use of small radar devices or chips.

CTA is the organization that puts on the Consumer Electronics Show each year—it did not develop the API, Google did. They, along with Ford Motor Company, Blumio, Texas Instruments, Infineon and NXP are pushing the new API to standardize the way that devices that use radar communicate and work with one another.

[...] The general idea behind tiny radar systems is that they are able to detect the presence or absence of people, objects and movement. These devices could be used to determine if someone is watching a movie on their TV, for example, or whether someone's chest is rising and falling as they sleep. It could also be used to help a smart car determine if a driver is falling asleep or if they are paying attention to the road rather than their phone.

The point of a standardized API for small radar systems is seamless cross-platform interoperability. These features could become important if device makers begin installing radar devices in IoT devices. As an example, appropriately functioning devices from different makers that note when a person enters a room and turns on a light and those that detect intruders could mean the difference between the police arriving unnecessarily or a good night's sleep.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 18, @04:53AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

martyb and aristarchus both made submissions about:

An Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculation Machine Reveals New Secrets:

In modern terms, all the moving astronomical bodies have orbits close to the plane of Earth's motion around the sun—the so-called ecliptic—meaning that they all follow much the same path through the stars. Predicting the positions of the planets along the ecliptic was very difficult for early astronomers. This task, it turns out, was one of the primary functions of the Antikythera mechanism. Another function was to track the positions of the sun and moon, which also have variable motions against the stars.

[...] The second key figure in the history of Antikythera research was British physicist turned historian of science Derek J. de Solla Price. In 1974, after 20 years of research, he published an important paper, "Gears from the Greeks." It referred to remarkable quotations by Roman lawyer, orator and politician Cicero (106–43 B.C.E.). One of these described a machine made by mathematician and inventor Archimedes (circa 287–212 B.C.E.) "on which were delineated the motions of the sun and moon and of those five stars which are called wanderers ... (the five planets) ... Archimedes ... had thought out a way to represent accurately by a single device for turning the globe those various and divergent movements with their different rates of speed." This machine sounds just like the Antikythera mechanism. The passage suggests that Archimedes, although he lived before we believe the device was built, might have founded the tradition that led to the Antikythera mechanism. It may well be that the Antikythera mechanism was based on a design by Archimedes.

[...] It seems that the device could be used to predict the positions of the sun, moon and planets on any specific day in the past or future. The maker of the machine would have had to calibrate it with the known positions of these bodies. A user could then simply turn a crank to the desired time frame to see astronomical predictions. The mechanism displayed positions, for instance, on a "zodiac dial" on the front of the mechanism, where the ecliptic was divided into a dozen 30-degree sections representing the constellations of the zodiac. Based on the x-ray data, Price developed a complete model of all the gearing on the device.

[...] A third key figure in the history of Antikythera research is Michael Wright, a former curator of mechanical engineering at London's Science Museum. In collaboration with Australian professor of computer science Alan G. Bromley, Wright carried out a second x-ray study of the mechanism in 1990 using an early 3-D x-ray technique called linear tomography. Bromley died before this work bore fruit, but Wright was persistent, making important advances, for example, in identifying the crucial tooth counts of the gears and in understanding the upper dial on the back of the device.

[...] We proposed that any method the Antikythera creators used would have required three criteria: accuracy, factorizability and economy. The method must be accurate to match the known period relations for Venus and Saturn, and it must be factorizable so the planets could be calculated with gears small enough to fit into the mechanism. To make the system economical, different planets could share gears if their period relations shared prime factors, reducing the number of gears needed. Such economy is a key feature of the surviving gear trains. Based on these criteria, our team derived the periods 462 and 442 using the idea from Parmenides and employed the same methods to discover the missing periods for the other planets where the inscriptions were lost or damaged.

[...] We now understood how the front display matched the description in the back-cover user's manual, with the sun and planets shown by marker beads on concentric rings. The front cover also displayed the moon's phase, position and age (the number of days from a new moon), and the dragon hand that showed eclipse years and seasons.

With the concentric rings for the planets, we realized that we could now make sense of the front-cover inscription as well. This writing is a formulaic list of the synodic events of each planet (such as its conjunctions with the sun and its stationary points) and the intervals in days between them. On the back plate, the eclipse inscriptions are indexed to markings on the saros dial. On the front plate, inscriptions about the risings and settings of stars are indexed to the zodiac dial. Our insight was that the inscriptions on the front could refer to index letters on the planetary rings: if the sun pointer is at one of these letters, then the corresponding inscription entry describes the number of days to the next synodic event. Because the left-hand side of the inscription, where we would expect these index letters to be, is missing, we cannot prove the hypothesis—but it is a compelling explanation.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 18, @01:08AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the just-wait-(some-more) dept.

SLS: Nasa fixes glitchy megarocket equipment ahead of key test:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been preparing the giant Space Launch System (SLS) for its maiden flight, set for March.

Last month, it identified a glitch with an onboard engine controller. But the component has now been replaced and all four engine controllers performed well in tests last week. They act as the "brains" for each of the powerful RS-25 engines, which help propel the SLS into orbit, communicating with the rocket to provide precision control of the engine and diagnose any problems.

But last week, all the controllers were powered up and performed as expected while engineers put them through their paces in further testing.

The SLS is housed in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. When the Orion spacecraft is stacked on top, the full system stands 98m (322ft) high - taller than the Statue of Liberty. This version of the SLS will generate a whopping 8,800,000lb (39.1meganewtons) of thrust.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday January 17, @08:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

It's time to ditch the CV: Why tech recruiters are changing how they hire:

More than half of recruiters are open to the idea of eliminating CVs from the hiring process in favour of an increase in skills-based assessments.

That's according to a survey conducted by developer hiring platform CodinGame and technical interview platform CoderPad, which found that recruiters are increasingly wary of the limitations of resumes and other traditional hiring techniques when trying to identify skilled candidates.

The survey argued that removing CVs from the hiring process would help open up the talent pool and make recruitment more diverse. Two-thirds (66%) of technology recruiters said bias is an issue in hiring, with resumes regarded as "a major contributory factor".

[...] Amanda Richardson, CEO of CoderPad, believes the hiring system is broken. "Part of what we're seeing is there are still companies that not only demand a computer science degree, they demand a computer science degree from one of five schools, or someone who's worked at one of five companies," Richardson tells ZDNet.

"No matter how you cut it...there just aren't that many bodies coming into the workforce. The opportunity to be smart about how you're recruiting, looking for skills and walking away from some of those traditional steps, is really a huge culture shift."

The argument for skills-based assessment tools centres on the idea that they remove bias in hiring by allowing employers to determine a candidate's suitability based on their performance alone, as opposed to any information contained within the candidate's CV that could influence a hiring manager's employment decisions.

Thanks to growing interest in coding and the proliferation of coding bootcamps, a computer science degree is no longer a prerequisite for a career in software development. That said, having a formal qualification certainly helps, and a number of major technology firms still insist on their employees having a fundamental grasp of programming theory.

"Both Stanford and MIT teach a class called 'How to Pass the Technical Interview' for credit," says Richardson.

"There's something broken in the world when you're taking a class on how to get the job at arguably the most highly qualified specialized schools in the country."

The good news is that, with technology jobs becoming increasingly platform-based, more companies are willing to hire candidates who can show aptitude in software tools, programming languages and frameworks used by the business.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 17, @03:15PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bada-BOOM! dept.

Military flights sent to assess damage from Pacific volcano:

New Zealand and Australia were able to send military surveillance flights to Tonga on Monday to assess the damage a huge undersea volcanic eruption left in the Pacific island nation.

A towering ash cloud since Saturday's eruption had prevented earlier flights. New Zealand hopes to send essential supplies, including much-needed drinking water, on a military transport plane later Monday.

Communications with Tonga remained extremely limited. The company that owns the single underwater communications cable that connects the island nation to the rest of the world said it likely was severed in the eruption and repairs could take weeks.

The loss of the cable leaves most Tongans unable to use the internet or make phone calls abroad. Those that have managed to get messages out described their country as looking like a moonscape as they began cleaning up from the tsunami waves and volcanic ash fall.

Tsunami waves of about 80 centimeters (2.7 feet) crashed into Tonga's shoreline, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described damage to boats and coastal shops.

No casualties have been reported on Tonga, although there were still concerns about people on some of the smaller islands near the volcano. The tsunami waves crossed the Pacific, drowning two people in Peru and causing minor damage from New Zealand to Santa Cruz, California.

Scientists said they didn't think the eruption would have a significant impact on the Earth's climate.

Huge volcanic eruptions can sometimes cause temporary global cooling as sulfur dioxide is pumped into the stratosphere. But in the case of the Tonga eruption, initial satellite measurements indicated the amount of sulfur dioxide released would only have a tiny effect of perhaps 0.01 Celsius (0.02 Fahrenheit) global average cooling, said Alan Robock, a professor at Rutgers University.

Satellite images showed the spectacular undersea eruption Saturday evening, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a giant mushroom above the South Pacific waters.

A sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska and sent pressure shockwaves around the planet twice, altering atmospheric pressure that may have briefly helped clear out the fog in Seattle, according to the National Weather Service. Large waves were detected as far as the Caribbean due to pressure changes generated by the eruption.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 17, @10:32AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the get-packing dept.

The secret to DNA packing to one-millionth its size:

Threads or earphone cables placed in tight spaces get easily tangled. On the contrary, our body's long and loose DNA packs into rod-shaped chromosomes one-millionth its size when the cell divides. If cell division occurs with DNA that is almost two meters in length, there is the risk of damage or loss in genetic information. Therefore, the condensation of chromosomes is essential to accurately transmitting genetic information.

A research team led by Professor Changyong Song and Dr. Daeho Sung, and Professor Jae-Hyung Jeon and Ph.D. candidate Chan Im in the Department of Physics at POSTECH, along with Professor Do Young Noh (Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, GIST) used the X-ray from the third-generation synchrotron facility to analyze human chromosomes in their clustered state. These findings observed at the nanometer-scale resolution were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The packing mechanism that condenses the chromosomes into one-millionth its size without any tangling and the 3D structure that enables this have puzzled researchers for over a half a century. However, it has been difficult to observe the chromosomes in their native condition. The researchers had to resort to detecting only some components of the chromosomes or infer their condensed state from looking at their uncoiled state.

[...] Through the study, the research team confirmed that the chromosomes were formed in a fractal structure rather than the hierarchical structure stated in previous studies. In addition, a physical model showing the packing process of chromosomes was presented.

Journal Reference:
Daeho Sung, Chan Lim, Masatoshi Takagi, et al. Stochastic chromatin packing of 3D mitotic chromosomes revealed by coherent X-rays [$], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2109921118)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 17, @05:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Major Record Labels Sue Youtube-dl's Hosting Provider:

"We don't think the suit is justified," says Uberspace chief Jonas Pasche in comments to TorrentFreak.

"YouTube has measures to prevent users from downloading specific content, which they make use of for YouTube Movies and Music: DRM. They don't use that technology here, enabling a download rather trivially. One may view youtube-dl as just a specialized browser, and you wouldn't ban Firefox just because you can use it to access music videos on YouTube."

According to an Uberspace lawyer, the aim of the lawsuit is to achieve some kind of precedent or "fundamental judgment". Success could mean that other companies could be obliged to take action in similarly controversial legal situations.

And the alleged illegality of youtube-dl is indeed controversial. While YouTube's terms of service generally disallow downloading, in Germany there is the right to make a private copy, with local rights group GEMA collecting fees to compensate for just that. Equally, when users upload content to YouTube under a Creative Commons license, for example, they agree to others in the community making use of that content.

[...] "Not only does YouTube pay license fees for music, we all pay fees for the right to private copying in the form of the device fee, which is levied with every purchase of smartphones or storage media," says Reda.

"Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our right to private copying by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive."

The question of whether YouTube's "rolling cipher" is (or is not) a technical protection measure is currently the hot and recurring topic in a lawsuit filed by YouTube-ripping site Yout.com against the RIAA in the United States. After more than a year, the warring factions are no closer to an agreement.

This comes just as (2021-12-17) the main developer changed his status to, "inactive."[1]

Gee, I wonder why?

In my opinion, "the powers that be" won't be satisfied until they get the youtube-dl program completely chased into the underground. Is the successor yt-dlp) next?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday January 17, @12:57AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the hoping-for-no-dips-in-chips dept.

TSMC invests in new capacity despite forecasts chip demand will ease:

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company plans to raise its capital expenditure by almost a third this year as the world's largest contract chipmaker defies analyst warnings of softening demand for technology gadgets.

TSMC expects capital expenditure to reach $44 billion this year, a 32 percent increase from the $30 billion spent in 2021 and triple the amount in 2019, the company said on Thursday.

The push underscores the outsized role semiconductors are coming to play in goods far beyond classical electronics products, from cars to factory equipment. It also reflects TSMC's dominance of global chip manufacturing.

The scale of TSMC's spending will also "put a ceiling" on ambitious plans from Samsung, TSMC's closest rival in contract chipmaking, and Intel, which has also entered the foundry business, to challenge the Taiwanese company's leadership, said Dylan Patel of Semianalysis.

[...] TSMC has built a massive fabrication plant, or fab, in southern Taiwan for advanced 3 nanometer chips, a technology level at which production is scheduled to begin later this year. It is also building a new fab for production at 5 nanometers, the most advanced technology level currently in production, in the US.

The company said the expansion was needed because demand for its chips would continue to increase by double-digit margins for years to come, even though some analysts have predicted a slowdown after a growth spurt in the past two years.

"We observe end-market demand may slow down in terms of units, but silicon content is increasing," said CC Wei, TSMC's chief executive. "So even if there's a slowdown, we believe it could be less volatile for TSMC. So we expect our capacity to remain very tight throughout 2022."

See also Tom's Hardware and a video at Bloomberg.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday January 16, @08:02PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the one-day-we-will-have-a-cure-for-it... dept.

A very common virus may be the trigger for multiple sclerosis:

Evidence is mounting that a garden-variety virus that sometimes causes mono in teens is the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis, a rare neurological disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord, stripping away protective insulation around nerve cells, called myelin.

It's still unclear how exactly the virus—the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)—may trigger MS and why MS develops in a tiny fraction of people. About 95 percent of adults have been infected with EBV, which often strikes in childhood. MS, meanwhile, often develops between the ages of 20 and 40 and is estimated to affect around one million people in the US. Yet, years of evidence have consistently pointed to links between the childhood virus and the chronic demyelinating disease later in life.

With a study published today in Science, the link is stronger than ever, and outside experts say the new findings offer further "compelling" evidence that EBV isn't just connected to MS; it's an essential trigger for the disease. The study found, among other things, that people had a 32-fold increase in risk of developing MS following an EBV infection in early adulthood.

"It's a great paper," Dr. Ruth Dobson, a preventive neurology professor and MS expert at Queen Mary University of London, told Ars in an interview. "The evidence just adds up and adds up and adds up... Whilst we don't understand biologically how EBV drives MS and we think about causation theories, really we have the rest of the building blocks in place," said Dobson, who was not involved in the new Science study. "It's another piece of evidence that really solidifies this theory" that EBV triggers MS.

[...] For the study, researchers led by Harvard neuroepidemiologist Dr. Kjetil Bjornevik mined an exceptionally rich repository of blood serum samples taken from a cohort of more than 10 million active-duty military personnel between 1993 and 2013.

[...] In the cohort, there were 801 members who developed MS and had banked up to three serum samples prior to their diagnosis. This gave the researchers the unique opportunity to go back in time and examine serum samples from MS patients years before they developed the disease. The researchers could also compare samples from the 801 MS patients to samples from 1,566 cohort members who did not develop MS and could serve as controls.

Of the 801 people who developed MS, all but one had antibodies indicating an EBV infection by the time of their MS diagnosis. And most of those EBV infections occurred earlier in their lives. At the start of the 20-year period, only 35 of the 801 MS patients started out as negative for EBV. By the end of the period, 34 of those 35 developed anti-EBV antibodies—aka seroconverted—prior to their diagnosis.

Journal Reference:
Kjetil Bjornevik, Marianna Cortese, Brian C. Healy, et al. Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis, Science (DOI: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abj8222)


Original Submission