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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @10:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the breathe-deep-the-gathering-gloom dept.

Hammerhead sharks found to hold their breath on deep water hunts to stay warm:

Scalloped hammerhead sharks hold their breath to keep their bodies warm during deep dives into cold water where they hunt prey such as deep sea squids. This discovery, published in Science by University of Hawai'i at Mānoa researchers, provides important new insights into the physiology and ecology of a species that serves as an important link between the deep and shallow water habitats.

"This was a complete surprise," said Mark Royer, lead author and researcher with the Shark Research Group at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. "It was unexpected for sharks to hold their breath to hunt like a diving marine mammal. It is an extraordinary behavior from an incredible animal."

Shark gills are natural radiators that would rapidly cool the blood, muscles, and organs if scalloped hammerhead sharks did not close their gill slits during deep dives into cold water. These sharks are warm water animals but feed at depths where seawater temperatures are similar to those found in Kodiak Alaska (around 5ºC/ 40ºF), yet they need to keep their bodies warm in order to hunt effectively.

"Although it is obvious that air-breathing marine mammals hold their breath while diving, we did not expect to see sharks exhibiting similar behavior," said Royer. "This previously unobserved behavior reveals that scalloped hammerhead sharks have feeding strategies that are broadly similar to those of some marine mammals, like pilot whales. Both have evolved to exploit deep dwelling prey and do so by holding their breath to access these physically challenging environments for short periods."

[...] "This discovery fundamentally advances our understanding of how scalloped hammerhead sharks are able to dive to great depths and withstand frigid temperatures in order to capture prey," said Royer. "It also demonstrates the delicate physiological balance that scalloped hammerhead sharks must strike in order to forage successfully."

[...] "This extraordinary physiological feat that allows scalloped hammerhead sharks to expand their ecological niche into the deep sea could very well make them vulnerable to additional human impacts."

Journal Reference:
Mark Royer et al., "Breath holding" as a thermoregulation strategy in the scalloped hammerhead, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.add4445.


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @07:48PM   Printer-friendly

Sponges are more closely related to us than some animals with a nervous system:

A recent study challenges the idea that evolution always leads to increased complexity in animals. By analyzing gene arrangements on chromosomes, researchers sought to understand the evolutionary relationships between species.

The study found that sponges, which lack muscles and a nervous system, are more closely related to humans than comb jellies, which possess both traits. This contradicts the assumption that complexity determines evolutionary proximity. The research suggests two potential explanations: either sponges and other simple animals lost nerves and muscles over time, simplifying their body plans, or nerves and muscles evolved independently in different lineages.

Further investigation, such as studying the nerve and muscle cells of comb jellies in a lab, is needed to differentiate between these possibilities. The study underscores the complexity of animal evolution and challenges existing notions of evolutionary relationships based on traits and complexity.

Journal Reference:
Schultz, Darrin T., Haddock, Steven H. D., Bredeson, Jessen V., et al. Ancient gene linkages support ctenophores as sister to other animals [open], Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-05936-6)

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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @05:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the won't-somebody-think-of-the-children? dept.

EU Commission Asks EU Council Lawyers If Compelled Client-Side Scanning Is Legal, Gets Told It Isn't:

Lots of ideas have been floated by legislators and others in hopes of limiting the distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Very few of these ideas have been good. Most have assumed that the problem is so horrendous any efforts are justified. The problem here is that governments need to actually justify mandated mass privacy invasions, which is something that they almost always can't do.

It's even a fraught issue in the private sector. Apple briefly proposed engaging in client-side scanning of users' devices to detect CSAM and prevent its distribution. This effort was put on hold when pretty much everyone objected to Apple's proposal, stating the obvious problems it would create — a list that included undermining the security and privacy protections Apple has long used as evidence of its superiority over competing products and their manufacturers.

Not that legislators appear to care. The EU Commission continues to move forward with "for the children" client-side scanning mandate, despite the multitude of problems this mandate would create. Last year, the proposal was ripped to shreds by the EU Data Protection Board and its supervisor in a report that explained the mandate would result in plenty of privacy invasion and data privacy law violations that simply could not be excused by the Commission's desire to limit the spread of CSAM.

[...] So, the proposal continues to move forward, ignoring pretty much every rational person's objections and the German government's flat-out refusal to enforce this mandate should it actually become law.

The Commission has ignored pretty much everyone while pushing this massive privacy/security threat past the legislative goal line. But it may not be able to ignore the latest objections to its proposal, given that they're being raised by the EU government's own lawyers.

[...] The legal opinion [PDF] makes it clear there's very little that's actually legal about compelled client-side scanning. The entire thing is damning, but here's just one of several issues the legal Council says the EU Commission is wrong about:

[...] A shotgun approach to CSAM detection is civil rights disaster waiting to happen, especially in cases where the government decides all users of a service are guilty just because some users are using the service to distribute illegal content.

The proposed legislation requires the general screening of the data processed by a specific service provider without any further distinction in terms of persons using that specific service. The fact that the detection orders would be directed at specific services where there is evidence of a significant risk of the service being used for the purpose of online child sexual abuse would be based on a connection between that service and the crimes of child sexual abuse, and not, even indirectly, on the connection between serious criminal acts and the persons whose data are scanned. The data of all the persons using that specific service would be scanned without those persons being, even indirectly, in a situation liable to give rise to criminal prosecutions, the use of that specific service being the only relevant factor in this respect.

And this would set off a chain of events that could easily result in permanent surveillance of millions of people's communications across multiple internet-based services. Not so much mission creep as mission sprint.

Furthermore, since issuing a detection order with regard to a specific provider of interpersonal communication services would entail the risk of encouraging the use of other services for child sexual abuse purposes, there is a clear risk that, in order to be effective, detection orders would have to be extended to other providers and lead de facto to a permanent surveillance of all interpersonal communications.

[...] The Council sums up its report by saying that if this proposal hopes to survive even the most cursory of legal challenges, it needs to vastly decrease its scope and greatly increase the specificity of its targeting. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of illegal surveillance masquerading as a child protection program. The Commission may be able to ignore security professionals and the occasional member state, but it seems unlikely it can just blow off its own lawyers.


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @02:17PM   Printer-friendly

China's phone giant Oppo disbands chip design unit as shipment slumps:

Chinese smartphone giant Oppo is disbanding its young chip design unit Zeku as weak global demand forces major handset manufacturers to cut costs and restrategize.

The decision comes as a surprise to those who believe the phone maker is bolstering its in-house chip development as rising geopolitical tensions with the U.S. threatens to cut Chinese firms off key suppliers. In the foreseeable future, Oppo will have to revert back to relying on third-party chip partners.

[...] Oppo explained its decision to cut its once-promising chip team in a statement issued today: "Due to the uncertainties in the global economy and the smartphone industry, we have to make difficult adjustments for long-term development. Therefore, the company has decided to cease the operation of Zeku."

In December 2021, Zeku revealed its first self-developed chipset, MariSilicon X, a neural processing unit designed to boost photo and video performance through machine learning, following Apple's path to bring chip design in-house. Zeku also set up a research base in Palo Alto.

[...] Oppo's retreat from chips signals another struggle from Chinese phone companies to strengthen their control over the semiconductor supply chain. Huawei lost access to advanced chips from the U.S. due to Trump-era sanctions, and its attempt to design its own high-end chips through HiSilicon floundered after the U.S. cut it off major foundries. The company resorted to spinning out its budget handset brand Honor, a move seen as a way to help the subsidiary circumvent the sanctions that have decimated Huawei's consumer business.


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @11:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the sanitized-for-your-protection dept.

https://www.blog.google/technology/safety-security/updating-our-inactive-account-policies/

Google to start deleting inactive personal email accounts. If your personal email account with Google have been inactive for two years it will, or may, be deleted.

To reduce this risk, we are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across our products. Starting later this year, if a Google Account has not been used or signed into for at least 2 years, we may delete the account and its contents ...

Notice that they MAY delete the account and all the content. Weird that they say may instead of will. Will some of them be kept around anyway? Are they saving the content but deleting the account? Is it so the Google AI can have one long good snoop before it goes into dev/null?

I might have missed it but to delete accounts for security reasons, that seems to be the reason given, is by itself sort of a security issue. After all what stops someone from re-registering the names afterwards. Hope that whatever mail they had keeps on sending to the address. Or it can be used to recover account credentials with other services. Deleting in that regard seems bad if they do not also block re-registration of said emails for a very very long time. Most of them will be duds but if you automate the process you'll hit digital credentials gold eventually.

If nothing else for spamming and scamming. After all johnny5753@gmail.com is your personal friend so whatever he mailed you must be real ...


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @08:41AM   Printer-friendly

"Powerful magnetic pulses applied to the scalp to stimulate the brain can bring fast relief to many severely depressed patients for whom standard treatments have failed. Yet it's been a mystery exactly how transcranial magnetic stimulation, as the treatment is known, changes the brain to dissipate depression. Now, research led by Stanford Medicine scientists has found that the treatment works by reversing the direction of abnormal brain signals."

"When they analyzed fMRI data across the whole brain, one connection stood out. In the normal brain, the anterior insula, a region that integrates bodily sensations, sends signals to a region that governs emotions, the anterior cingulate cortex.

"You could think of it as the anterior cingulate cortex receiving this information about the body—like heart rate or temperature—and then deciding how to feel on the basis of all these signals," Mitra said.

In three-quarters of the participants with depression, however, the typical flow of activity was reversed: The anterior cingulate cortex sent signals to the anterior insula. The more severe the depression, the higher the proportion of signals that traveled the wrong way."

"When depressed patients were treated with SNT, the flow of neural activity shifted to the normal direction within a week, coinciding with a lifting of their depression."

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-05-depression-reversing-brain-wrong.html


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @05:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the clamping-down-on-liabilities dept.

Once a digital media darling, Vice Media Group on Monday filed for bankruptcy protection after years of financial troubles:

A consortium of Vice's lenders which includes Fortress Investment, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital is looking to acquire the company following the filing.

The digital media trailblazer, once valued at $5.7 billion and known for sites including Vice and Motherboard, had been restructuring and cutting jobs across its global news business over recent months.

[...] Launched in Canada in 1994 as a fringe magazine, Vice expanded around the world with youth-focused content and a prominent social media presence. It endured several years of financial troubles, however, as tech giants such as Google and Meta vacuumed up global ad spend.

To facilitate its sale, Vice filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. If the application is approved, other parties will be able to bid for the company. Credit bids enable creditors to swap secured debt for company assets rather than pay cash.

Also at NPR, CNN and CBC News.

Previously: Vice Media Will Reorganize and Lay Off 10% of Staff


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @03:07AM   Printer-friendly
from the clone-wars dept.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2023/05/googles-top-ai-model-palm-2-hopes-to-upstage-gpt-4-in-generative-mastery/

On Wednesday, Google introduced PaLM 2, a family of foundational language models comparable to OpenAI's GPT-4. At its Google I/O event in Mountain View, California, Google revealed that it already uses PaLM 2 to power 25 products, including its Bard conversational AI assistant.

As a family of large language models (LLMs), PaLM 2 has been trained on an enormous volume of data and does next-word prediction, which outputs the most likely text after a prompt input by humans. PaLM stands for "Pathways Language Model," and "Pathways" is a machine-learning technique created at Google. PaLM 2 follows up on the original PaLM, which Google announced in April 2022.

Related:
Google Bard stories on soylentnews 12+ stories


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posted by hubie on Thursday May 18 2023, @12:25AM   Printer-friendly

Scientists from Switzerland have identified 19 novel strains of cold-adapted specialist bacteria and fungi from the Alps and the Arctic region that can digest biodegradable plastics:

Finding, cultivating, and bioengineering organisms that can digest plastic not only aids in the removal of pollution, but is now also big business. Several microorganisms that can do this have already been found, but when their enzymes that make this possible are applied at an industrial scale, they typically only work at temperatures above 30°C. The heating required means that industrial applications remain costly to date, and aren't carbon-neutral. But there is a possible solution to this problem: finding specialist cold-adapted microbes whose enzymes work at lower temperatures.

[...] "Here we show that novel microbial taxa obtained from the 'plastisphere' of alpine and arctic soils were able to break down biodegradable plastics at 15°C," said first author Dr Joel Rüthi, currently a guest scientist at WSL. "These organisms could help to reduce the costs and environmental burden of an enzymatic recycling process for plastic."

[...] None of the strains were able to digest PE [non-biodegradable polyethylene], even after 126 days of incubation on these plastics. But 19 (56%) of strains, including 11 fungi and eight bacteria, were able to digest PUR [biodegradable polyester-polyurethane] at 15°C, while 14 fungi and three bacteria were able to digest the plastic mixtures of PBAT [biodegradable polybutylene adipate terephthalate] and PLA [biodegradable polylactic acid]. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and a fluorescence-based assay confirmed that these strains were able to chop up the PBAT and PLA polymers into smaller molecules.

"It was very surprising to us that we found that a large fraction of the tested strains was able to degrade at least one of the tested plastics," said Rüthi.

The best performers were two uncharacterized fungal species in the genera Neodevriesia and Lachnellula: these were able to digest all of the tested plastics except PE. The results also showed that the ability to digest plastic depended on the culture medium for most strains, with each strain reacting differently to each of four media tested.


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posted by hubie on Wednesday May 17 2023, @09:40PM   Printer-friendly

If you think a password prevents scanning in the cloud, think again:

Microsoft cloud services are scanning for malware by peeking inside users' zip files, even when they're protected by a password, several users reported on Mastodon on Monday.

Compressing file contents into archived zip files has long been a tactic threat actors use to conceal malware spreading through email or downloads. Eventually, some threat actors adapted by protecting their malicious zip files with a password the end user must type when converting the file back to its original form. Microsoft is one-upping this move by attempting to bypass password protection in zip files and, when successful, scanning them for malicious code.

While analysis of password-protected files in Microsoft cloud environments is well-known to some people, it came as a surprise to Andrew Brandt. The security researcher has long archived malware inside password-protected zip files before exchanging them with other researchers through SharePoint. On Monday, he took to Mastodon to report that the Microsoft collaboration tool had recently flagged a zip file, which had been protected with the password "infected."

[...] Fellow researcher Kevin Beaumont joined the discussion to say that Microsoft has multiple methods for scanning the contents of password-protected zip files and uses them not just on files stored in SharePoint but all its 365 cloud services. One way is to extract any possible passwords from the bodies of an email or the name of the file itself. Another is by testing the file to see if it's protected with one of the passwords contained in a list.

"If you mail yourself something and type something like 'ZIP password is Soph0s', ZIP up EICAR and ZIP password it with Soph0s, it'll find (the) password, extract and find (and feed MS detection)," he wrote.

[...] The practice illustrates the fine line online services often walk when attempting to protect end users from common threats while also respecting privacy. As Brandt notes, actively cracking a password-protected zip file feels invasive. At the same time, this practice almost surely has prevented large numbers of users from falling prey to social engineering attacks attempting to infect their computers.

One other thing readers should remember: password-protected zip files provide minimal assurance that content inside the archives can't be read. As Beaumont noted, ZipCrypto, the default means for encrypting zip files in Windows, is trivial to override. A more dependable way is to use an AES-256 encryptor built into many archive programs when creating 7z files.


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posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 17 2023, @06:54PM   Printer-friendly

Rectangular chamber was probably the tomb of a wealthy individual or family:

The ruins of the ancient necropolis of Neapolis lie some 10 meters (about 33 feet) below modern-day Naples, Italy. But the site is in a densely populated urban district, making it challenging to undertake careful archaeological excavations of those ruins. So a team of scientists turned to cosmic rays for help—specifically an imaging technique called muography, or muon tomography—and discovered a previously hidden underground burial chamber, according to a recent paper published in the Scientific Reports journal.

[...] In 2016, scientists using muon imaging picked up signals indicating a hidden corridor behind the famous chevron blocks on the north face of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The following year, the same team detected a mysterious void in another area of the pyramid, believing it could be a hidden chamber, which was subsequently mapped out using two different muon imaging methods.

There are many variations of muon imaging, but they all typically involve gas-filled chambers. As muons zip through the gas, they collide with the gas particles and emit a telltale flash of light, which is recorded by the detector, allowing scientists to calculate the particle's energy and trajectory. It's similar to X-ray imaging or ground-penetrating radar, except with naturally occurring high-energy muons rather than X-rays or radio waves. That higher energy makes it possible to image thick, dense substances like the stones used to build pyramids. The denser the imaged object, the more muons are blocked, casting a telltale shadow. Hidden chambers would appear in the final image because they blocked fewer particles.

Neapolis was a Hellenistic city in a hilly area rich in volcanic tuff rock. That made it soft enough to sculpt out tombs, worship spaces, or caves for housing. The necropolis in what is now the Sanita district of Naples was one such creation, used for burials from the late fourth century BCE to early first century CE. The site was buried in sediment over time by a series of natural disasters, most notably flooding by the lava dei vergini ("lava of the virgins"). Unlike the volcanic lava that famously engulfed Pompeii, this "lava" was made up of mud and rocks that came loose from the hills during heavy rains.

Journal Reference:
Tioukov, V., Morishima, K., Leggieri, C. et al. Hidden chamber discovery in the underground Hellenistic necropolis of Neapolis by muography. Sci Rep 13, 5438 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-32626-0


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posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 17 2023, @04:06PM   Printer-friendly

New Findings Indicate Gene-Edited Rice Might Survive in Martian Soil:

As outlined in the team's abstract, Rice Can Grow and Survive in Martian Regolith with Challenges That Could be Overcome Through Control of Stress-Related Genes, one of the biggest challenges to growing food on Mars is the presence of perchlorate salts, which have been detected in the planet's soil and are generally considered to be toxic for plants.

The team was able to simulate Martian soil using basaltic rich soil mined from the Mojave Desert, called the Mojave Mars Simulant, or MMS, which was developed by scientists from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The teams then grew three varieties of rice, including one wild-type and two gene-edited lines with genetic mutations that better enable them to respond to stress, such as drought, sugar starvation or salinity. These varieties were grown in the MMS, as well as a regular potted mix and a hybrid of the two. While plants were able to grow in the Martian simulant, they were not as developed as those grown in the potting soil and hybrid mix. Replacing just a quarter of the Martian simulant with potting soil resulted in improved development.

The team also experimented with the amount of perchlorate in the soil, finding that 3 grams per kilogram was the threshold beyond which nothing would grow, while mutant strains could still root in 1 gram per kilogram.

Their findings suggest that there might be a way forward for genetically modified rice to find purchase in Martian soil.


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posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 17 2023, @01:22PM   Printer-friendly

The newly emerging fungal pathogen is often misidentified in common lab tests:

A dermatologist in New York City has reported the country's first known cases of highly contagious ringworm infections that are resistant to common anti-fungal treatments—and caused by a newly emerging fungus that is rapidly outstripping other infectious fungi around the world.

In February, the dermatologist reported two cases to health officials in the state, which are described in a brief case study published Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

[...] Ringworm—aka tineas, dermatophytosis, jock itch, and athlete's foot—is a superficial fungal infection of the skin that causes red, itchy, sometimes scaly circular rashes. There are more than 40 different species of fungi that can cause the infection, which spreads from infected people and animals and also lurks in environments and on common household items, like towels. Ringworm is extremely common and can strike anyone. Usually, it's treatable with over-the-counter creams.

[...] While alarming, the identification of cases in the US is not surprising. The fungus behind the infections is Trichophyton indotineae (previously described as Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VIII), which is a newly emerging fungus globally. Though genetic studies date isolates back to at least 2008 in Australia, a multidrug-resistant lineage seemed to erupt in India between 2017 and 2018. Since then, it has reached epidemic proportions in the subcontinent, replacing other common causes of ringworm, and the pathogen has rapidly emerged in many countries throughout Asia and Europe, and Canada.

[...] The rise of T. indotineae is linked to the abuse of topical treatments that contain egregiously large combinations of steroids and antifungal/antibacterial agents, spurring the development of resistance. This is particularly a problem in India.


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posted by mrpg on Wednesday May 17 2023, @10:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the your-lips-move-but-I-can't-hear-what-you're-saying dept.

Lead Vocal Tracks in Popular Music Go Quiet:

A general rule of music production involves mixing various soundtracks so the lead singer's voice is in the foreground. But it is unclear how such track mixing – and closely related lyric intelligibility – has changed over the years.

Scientists from the University of Oldenburg in Germany carried out an analysis of hundreds of popular song recordings from 1946 to 2020 to determine the lead vocal to accompaniment ratio, or LAR. Their results appear in JASA Express Letters, published on behalf of the Acoustical Society of America by AIP Publishing, and show that, contrary to expectations, the LAR for popular music decreased over the decades in question. This means that, relative to their bands, lead singers are getting quieter.

An earlier study suggested that lead vocals were mixed at a higher level than other instruments, but it looked at songs that were not fully representative of popular Western music. The current study rectified this by considering the four highest-ranked songs from the Billboard Hot 100 chart for each year from 1946 to 2020.

[...] "Our analysis showed a significant downward trend in the LAR from about 5 decibels in 1946 to approximately 1 decibel in 1975, after which time the LAR remained constant," Gerdes said.

The investigators wished to determine whether LAR values changed over time to improve the intelligibility of lyrics or if changes in music technology were involved. Electrical amplification of instruments might, for example, be a factor, as could multitrack and stereophonic recording technology. They found that changes in music technology appear to be behind the observed decrease in LAR until 1975.

"Another possibility involves the stylistic evolution within popular music," author Kai Siedenburg said.

Journal Reference:
Karsten Gerdes; Kai Siedenburg; Lead-vocal level in recordings of popular music 1946–2020 [open], JASA Express Lett 3, 043201 (2023) https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0017773


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If you felt that you couldn't understand indie/grunge 90s rock vocals, that apparently was by design:

Beck spoke with NPR to give his own insight on the volume knob turning down over the years.

"I came up more in the indie rock genre, alternative music. And the ethos of that time was to really bury the vocal ... You didn't want people to hear what you were saying."

The track and the rhythm has to be at the forefront if you want to move people. As soon as you put the vocal up at the forefront, the track loses its energy and its immediacy and it becomes something else, which is why I think it suits jazz or folk.

But the minute you do that on a pop song, you kind of lose people in that connection to feel the energy of a track ... It loses a kind of visceral immediacy that people are conditioned to, and it will make the song kind of feel a little dull.

So now we're in this kind of arms race of audio and sound and volume to get these tracks louder and louder. So, yeah, now I think we're at a point where, for the most part, it's the beat, a little bit of vocal, and maybe one little element of music in there. You know, this is a long way from the world of [The Beatles'] Sgt. Peppers, where there are orchestras and sitars and a million other sonic colors happening.

posted by hubie on Wednesday May 17 2023, @07:54AM   Printer-friendly

CEO Elon Musk said the plant will protect against a future "choke point" on battery-grade lithium availability:

In a first among United States automakers, Tesla will begin refining its own lithium, a critical material for electric vehicle batteries.

The company broke ground on a $375 million lithium refining plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, this week, which CEO Elon Musk said will process enough lithium for 1 million vehicles annually.

"We thought it was important to address ... a fundamental choke point in the advancement of electric vehicles, [which] is the availability of battery-grade lithium," Musk said at the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday.

[...] Over the last year, the Biden administration has directed billions of dollars to automakers, materials processors, and start-up companies to help address this gap in domestic battery manufacturing. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law last August, also adjusted the Clean Vehicle Tax Credit so that eligible vehicles must meet certain battery sourcing requirements, with materials largely coming from the U.S. or free-trade-agreement partners.

Tesla processing its own lithium will help ensure the company's vehicles qualify for those credits and will protect it from supply chain fluctuations and geopolitical disruptions. While it is the only U.S. automaker with a plan to refine its own lithium so far, General Motors announced in January that it would invest $650 million in the Thacker Pass lithium mining project in Nevada.

Tesla claims its refining process is more environmentally friendly and will consume 20 percent less energy than conventional methods. It will also produce less-toxic byproducts that could be repurposed in construction materials, the company said. "We end up as a net environmentally very neutral site," said Turner Caldwell, senior manager of battery minerals and metals at Tesla. The company estimates construction on the Texas plant will conclude in 2025.

[...] Caldwell said that while the Texas facility's lithium will originally come from hardrock mines, the process is designed to be "feed flexible," meaning it could in the future refine lithium from recycled sources, such as manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries.


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