A new study found that more than one million US deaths per year—including many young and working-age adults—could be avoided if the US had mortality rates similar to its peer nations:
In 2021, 1.1 million deaths would have been averted in the United States if the US had mortality rates similar to other wealthy nations, according to a new study led by a School of Public Health researcher.
Published in the journal PNAS Nexus, the study refers to these excess deaths as "Missing Americans," because these deaths reflect people who would still be alive if the US mortality rates were equal to its peer countries.
Comparing age-specific death rates in the U.S. and 21 other wealthy nations from 1933 through 2021, the authors find that current death rates in the US are much higher than other wealthy nations, and the number of excess U.S. deaths has never been larger.
"The number of Missing Americans in recent years is unprecedented in modern times," says study lead and corresponding author Jacob Bor, associate professor of global health and epidemiology.
Nearly 50 percent of all Missing Americans died before age 65 in 2020 and 2021. According to Bor, the level of excess mortality among working age adults is particularly stark. "Think of people you know who have passed away before reaching age 65. Statistically, half of them would still be alive if the US had the mortality rates of our peers. The US is experiencing a crisis of early death that is unique among wealthy nations."
The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a sharp spike in mortality in the US—more so than in other countries—but the new findings show that the number of excess US deaths has been accelerating over the last four decades. Bor and colleagues analyzed trends in US deaths from 1933 to 2021, including the impact of COVID-19, and then compared these trends with age-specific mortality rates in Canada, Japan, Australia, and 18 European nations.
The US had lower mortality rates than peer countries during World War II and its aftermath. During the 1960's and 1970's, the US had mortality rates similar to other wealthy nations, but the number of Missing Americans began to increase year by year starting in the 1980's, reaching 622,534 annual excess U.S. deaths by 2019. Deaths then spiked to 1,009,467 in 2020 and 1,090,103 in 2021 during the pandemic. From 1980 to 2021, there were a total of 13.1 million Missing Americans.
[...] "We waste hundreds of billions each year on health insurers' profits and paperwork, while tens of millions can't afford medical care, healthy food, or a decent place to live," says study senior author Steffie Woolhandler, Distinguished Professor at the School of Urban Public Health at Hunter College, City University of New York. "Americans die younger than their counterparts elsewhere because when corporate profits conflict with health, our politicians side with the corporations."
[...] "The US was already experiencing more than 600,000 Missing Americans annually before the pandemic began, and that number was increasing each year. There have been no significant policy changes since then to change this trajectory," he says.
"While COVID-19 brought new attention to public health, the backlash unleashed during the pandemic has undermined trust in government and support for expansive policies to improve population health," said Bor. "This could be the most harmful long-term impact of the pandemic, because expansion of public policy to support health is exactly how our peer countries have attained higher life expectancy and better health outcomes."
Jacob Bor, Andrew C Stokes, Julia Raifman, et al., Missing Americans: Early death in the United States—1933–2021, PNAS Nexus, Volume 2, Issue 6, June 2023, pgad173, https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad173
Screenings are being set up this week for streamers Amazon Prime Video, Apple and Netflix to check out and potentially acquire Warner Bros' axed Looney Tunes movieCoyote vs. Acmeafter the studio's phone ran off the hook the entire weekend from angry filmmakers and talent reps over their third feature film kill after Batgirland Scoob Holiday Haunt!
The more egregious Hollywood sin with Coyote vs. Acme is that it's a finished film was intended for a theatrical release, while the other two movies were still in the works.
[...] Amazon also is a great landing pad for Coyote vs. Acme as the studio has three upcoming movies with its star John Cena: Heads of State, Ricky Stanicky and Grand Death Lotto.
Also, during a very noisy weekend for the movie on social media with Coyote vs. Acme and Gravity Oscar winning composer calling Warner Bros. "bizarre anti-art studio financial shenanigans I will never understand," some have told me that the killing of Coyote vs. Acme didn't come from WBD CEO David Zaslav himself. Rather, the blame should be set at the feet of Warner Bros. Motion Picture bosses Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy and Warner Bros. new Animation Head Bill Damaschke, who are being made the scapegoats. The motives here were to protect the Looney Tunes IP and also scrub the studio of product developed by the previous administration.
The only thing wrong with that narrative is that De Luca and Abdy never have had any previous offends of killing a previous administration's films or finished movies. Not until landing at Warner Bros. As my mother use to say, "There's no such thing as a coincidence."
[...] While Warner Bros Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said that the media's coverage of Batgirl's cancellation was "blown out of proportion" back in September 2022, I guess he wasn't seeing or hearing the harsh criticism from the Hollywood creative community and the film's creatives and talent, both on social and by phone.
Also, what does the Coyote vs. Acme move by Warner Bros Discovery say to DC bosses Peter Safran and James Gunn? Can their movies or projects be killed at a last-minute's notice? Along with Chris DeFaria, Gunn is a producer on Coyote vs. Acme. The Guardians of the Galaxy architect was a co-scribe on the movie. We understand that the filmmaker-friendly Gunn and Safran's greenlights moving forward are bonafide and not in danger of any tax tricks.
The Looney Tunes brand isn't Harry Potter, and it's certainly not The Marvels. The brand has been turned upside down, reinvented and reset several times during the course of its 90-year-plus history at Warner Bros. Certainly a family movie that grosses between $160M-$200M worldwide wouldn't do damage to the studio, but rather play directly to the audience it's suppose to play to.
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Intel's oft-delayed Aurora remains a work in progress.
The Top500 organization released its semi-annual list of the fastest supercomputers in the world, with the AMD-powered Frontier supercomputer retaining its spot at the top of the list with 1.194 Exaflop/s (EFlop/s) of performance, fending off a half-scale 585.34 Petaflop/s (PFlop/s) submission from the Argonne National Laboratory's Intel-powered Aurora supercomputer. Argonne's submission, which only employs half of the Aurora system, lands at the second spot on the Top500, unseating Japan's Fugaku as the second-fastest supercomputer in the world. Intel also made inroads with 20 new supercomputers based on its Sapphire Rapids CPUs entering the list, but AMD's EPYC continues to take over the Top500 as it now powers 140 systems on the list — a 39% year-over-year increase.
Intel and Argonne are currently still working to bring Arora fully online for users in 2024. As such, the Aurora submission represented 10,624 Intel CPUs and 31,874 Intel GPUs working in concert to deliver 585.34 PFlop/s at a total of 24.69 megawatts (MW) of energy. In contrast, AMD's Frontier holds the performance title at 1.194 EFlop/s, which is more than twice the performance of Aurora, while consuming a comparably miserly 22.70 MW of energy (yes, that's less power for the full Frontier supercomputer than half of the Aurora system). Aurora did not land on the Green500, a list of the most power-efficient supercomputers, with this submission, but Frontier continues to hold eighth place on that list.
However, Aurora is expected to eventually reach up to 2 EFlop/s of performance when it comes fully online. When complete, Auroroa will have 21,248 Xeon Max CPUs and 63,744 Max Series 'Ponte Vecchio' GPUs spread across 166 racks and 10,624 compute blades, making it the largest known single deployment of GPUs in the world. The system leverages HPE Cray EX – Intel Exascale Compute Blades and uses HPE's Slingshot-11 networking interconnect.
AMD is in the process of deploying El Capitan, which is projected to be faster than Aurora with 2 EFlop/s+ of performance, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As such, Intel's incessantly delayed Aurora may never take the number one position on the Top500 list — the race is certainly on for the next round of Top500 submissions in June 2024.
[...] Meanwhile, Microsoft's new Eagle supercomputer, deployed in the Azure Cloud, has now taken the number three spot on the list, pushing Japan's Fugaku into fourth place on the leaderboard. Eagle is the first cloud system to break the top ten. The LUMI system in Kajaani, Finland, rounded out the top five with 379.70 PFlop/s of performance.
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Google gives Apple a 36 percent cut of all search ad revenue that comes from Safari, according to University of Chicago professor Kevin Murphy. Google had fought to keep the number confidential, but Bloomberg reports that Murphy shared the figure while testifying in Google’s defense today at the Google antitrust trial.
Google has long paid to be the default search engine in Safari and other browsers like Firefox, spending $26.3 billion in 2021 alone for the privilege. $18 billion of that went to Apple, but the specifics of where the number came from remained secret until now. Google has been trying to keep such details under wraps as the trial goes on, but bits and pieces have seeped out anyway. According to Bloomberg, Google lawyer John Schmidtlein “visibly cringed when Murphy said the number.” Google declined to comment in an email to The Verge; Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple’s Eddy Cue defended the deal in September, saying Apple actually wanted a bigger cut of the money Google makes from Safari traffic, but the companies settled on the lower number Murphy revealed today. While specific numbers were discussed that day, they were only talked about in closed sessions, away from the ears of press.
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The ongoing Google vs. Epic trial has brought out another interesting piece of information. As per testimony presented by Epic Games (via Bloomberg), Google paid Samsung $8 billion over a period of four years to keep Search, Assistant, and Play Store as default services on Samsung phones.
When questioned by Epic’s lawyers on Monday, James Kolotouros, Vice President for Partnerships at Google, said that Google struck deals with Android phone makers to ensure their devices were pre-loaded with the Google Play Store. Kolotouros testimony further revealed that Samsung’s phones and other devices account for half or more of the entire Google Play Store revenue.
In 2019, Google reportedly ran an initiative called “Project Banyan.” Under it, the company invested funds so the Google Play Store could remain on Samsung devices alongside the Galaxy Store. The company even offered to pay $200 million over four years to Samsung to make the Galaxy Store available within the Play Store, complete with its billing system. However, those plans were later scrapped, and Google reportedly signed three deals worth $8 billion with Samsung.
[...] Epic is trying to show that Google discouraged third-party app stores on Android devices by paying device makers to pre-install and make the Google Play Store the default app downloading destination. Google has been striking such deals for a long time, and they are also under scrutiny in a separate anti-trust suit brought on by the Department of Justice.
One of the most enduring mysteries within archaeology revolves around the identity of Punt, an otherworldly "land of plenty" revered by the ancient Egyptians. Punt had it all—fragrant myrrh and frankincense, precious electrum (a mixed alloy of gold and silver) and malachite, and coveted leopard skins, among other exotic luxury goods.
Despite being a trading partner for over a millennium, the ancient Egyptians never disclosed Punt's exact whereabouts except for vague descriptions of voyages along what's now the Red Sea. That could mean anywhere from southern Sudan to Somalia and even Yemen.
Now, according to a recent paper published in the journal eLife, Punt may have been the same as another legendary port city in modern-day Eritrea, known as Adulis by the Romans. The conclusion comes from a genetic analysis of a baboon that was mummified during ancient Egypt's Late Period (around 800 and 500 BCE). The genetics indicate the animal originated close to where Adulis would be known to come into existence centuries later.
[...] In 2020, a team of researchers led by Nathaniel Dominy, an anthropologist at Dartmouth College, examined radioactive isotopes of strontium and oxygen in the mummified remains of baboons dating back to the New Kingdom (1550 to 1069 BCE) and the Ptolemaic period (305 to 330 BCE). Mapping the isotopic signatures to their approximate geographies, Dominy and his colleagues discovered some of the animals weren't native to Egypt, likely hailing from somewhere in the area of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia.
"The strontium values, for example, like in your molar teeth, reflect where you were when you were five, six, or seven years old. You move around as an adult and you live in different places but you retain that sort of fingerprint of your early childhood in a particular region," said Dominy. "This was a cool project because we were able to show that some of those baboons spent their entire lives in Egypt, but others we could tell came from some distant place."
Since we know Egyptians obtained baboons from Punt, this helped narrow the location slightly. And it provided some leads for Gisela Kopp, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Konstanz in Germany. In the new paper, her team, which included Dominy, analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of a mummified baboon first excavated in 1905 in Egypt's Valley of the Monkeys located at Luxor's western bank of the Nile River.
[...] But the question remains: Where was Punt? Dominy and Kopp are forced to speculate a bit. They note that the specimen's origin was close to where the port city of Adulis eventually came into being, which was part of the Aksumite Empire (it's in modern-day Eritrea). They suggest the same port may have been Punt in the past.
"The beauty of this project is that the mummies we studied are older than the first account of Adulis. So what we think we can say is that Adulis must have existed a couple hundred years before the first existence that we have of its historical record," said Dominy. "That fills in the gap because Punt is no longer used by the Egyptians, and Adulis comes into play. These baboons kind of connect Punt and Adulis in time to connect those dots."
[...] "I think saying Adulis equals Punt is going too far from an archaeological standpoint," said Wegner. "I think it would lend credence to the idea that where Adulis developed in later times equates to the region the Egyptians talk about as the land of Punt. It could well be that there was something there going back that far, a coastal settlement or perhaps a substantial town. That's a possibility for archaeologists to investigate further."
Dominy and Kopp acknowledge it's a bold statement equating Punt with Adulis. But they hope their boldness guides current and future archaeological research at Adulis and anywhere else within the region, encouraging insights into how commerce catalyzed ancient Egyptian maritime technology or how human trade influenced wildlife diversity.
Maybe the most important question is yet to be answered: Why did the ancient Egyptians revere baboons? They weren't native to Egypt, and in the environments the animals shared with humans, they were considered more of a nuisance than the avatar of a sacred deity.
Franziska Grathwol, Christian Roos, Dietmar Zinner, et al. (2023) Adulis and the transshipment of baboons during classical antiquity eLife 12:e87513. doi: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.87513
The vast majority of dog and cat owners will say their pets enrich their lives in countless ways and bring immeasurable levels of extra happiness, but researchers from Michigan State University suggest that most pet owners may just be telling themselves what they want to hear. Their new study found that despite owners claiming pets improve their lives, researchers did not see a reliable association between pet ownership and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The pandemic was a stressful time for everyone, to put it lightly. Even the most laid-back among us found themselves overwhelmed by the lockdowns and social distancing guidelines that dominated 2020. So, the research team at MSU theorized that the pandemic represented an ideal time to study just how much comfort and happiness pets really provide to their families.
In all, the study authors assessed a total of 767 people on three separate occasions in May 2020. The research team opted to adopt a mixed-method approach that allowed them to simultaneously assess several indicators of well-being, all while also asking participants to reflect on the role of pets from their point of view in an open-ended manner. Generally, pet owners predictably reported their pets made them happy. More specifically, they said their pets helped them feel more positive emotions and provided affection and companionship.
On the other hand, the participants also articulated the dark side of pet ownership, such as worries related to their pet's well-being or having their pets interfere with working remotely.
[...] "People say that pets make them happy, but when we actually measure happiness, that doesn't appear to be the case," says William Chopik, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Psychology and co-author of the study, in a university release. "People see friends as lonely or wanting companionship, and they recommend getting a pet. But it's unlikely that it'll be as transformative as people think."
As a lifetime pet owner who's had at least a dozen dogs over the years, I take umbrage with the study's findings. My dogs are always thrilled to see me when I arrive home from a long, tiring day of work, and taking them for a walk or just being in their presence immediately lifts my spirits. And I remember the calming effect petting a cat had for my ex-wife when she was pregnant and having a bad day.
Chopik, W. J., Oh, J., Weidmann, R., et al. (2023). The Perks of Pet Ownership? The Effects of Pet Ownership on Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672231203417
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Nintendo snagged the most nominations of any publisher with 15, followed by Sony (13), Microsoft (10, including Bethesda and Activision Blizzard's nods) and Epic Games (nine). There are 31 awards in total, including Best Adaptation. The nominees in that category this year are Castlevania: Nocturne, Gran Turismo, The Last of Us, The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Twisted Metal.
A bunch of deserving indies picked up nominations as well, including Cocoon, Dave the Diver, Dredge, Tchia, Viewfinder, Pizza Tower and Hello Kitty Island Adventure. Meanwhile, continuing a redemption arc after its disastrous debut three years ago, Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 and its Phantom Liberty expansion racked up four nominations in total.
Highly invasive malware targeting software developers is once again circulating in Trojanized code libraries, with the latest ones downloaded thousands of times in the last eight months, researchers said Wednesday.
Since January, eight separate developer tools have contained hidden payloads with various nefarious capabilities, security firm Checkmarx reported. The most recent one was released last month under the name "pyobfgood." Like the seven packages that preceded it, pyobfgood posed as a legitimate obfuscation tool that developers could use to deter reverse engineering and tampering with their code. Once executed, it installed a payload, giving the attacker almost complete control of the developer's machine. [...]
All eight tools used the string "pyobf" as the first five characters in an attempt to mimic genuine obfuscator tools such as pyobf2 and pyobfuscator. The other seven packages were:
While Checkmarx focused primarily on pyobfgood, the company provided a release timeline for all eight of them.
Pyobfgood installed bot functionality that worked with a Discord server identified with the string:
There was no indication of anything amiss on the infected computer. Behind the scenes, however, the malicious payload was not only intruding into some of the developer's most private moments, but silently mocking the developer in source code comments at the same time. Checkmarx explained:
The Discord bot includes a specific command to control the computer's camera. It achieves this by discreetly downloading a zip file from a remote server, extracting its contents, and running an application called WebCamImageSave.exe. This allows the bot to secretly capture a photo using the webcam. The resulting image is then sent back to the Discord channel, without leaving any evidence of its presence after deleting the downloaded files.
Among these malicious functions, the bot's malicious humor emerges through messages that ridicule the imminent destruction of the compromised machine. "Your computer is going to start burning, good luck. :)" and "Your computer is going to die now, good luck getting it back :)"
But hey, at least there is a smiley at the end of these messages.
These messages not only highlight the malicious intent but also the audacity of the attackers.
The Verge reports that Google will remove Gmail's Basic HTML view effective January 2024.
Though the vast majority of people use the Standard view on their PCs without question, the HTML version of Gmail has its perks. The stripped-down Gmail experience loads quickly, and users can access it even on older machines or with much slower connections.
The change appears to have been announced around September 19th in a Google support article, and users of the Basic HTML view were shown warnings that it will be discontinued, after which time they will be switched to the current standard view.
The removal of Gmail's basic HTML view is the latest in a long line of products, features, services, and more to be admitted to the Google graveyard. The company has also recently buried its Pixel Pass phone upgrade program, Google Currents, and Nest Secure.
Amazon has been working on an in-house replacement for its Android-based Fire OS, codenamed "Vega" and built for easier app development, according to reporting from Janko Roettgers at Lowpass.
While an Android base provides a relatively familiar entry for developers that already have Android apps, rebuilding the AOSP project—meant to support a wealth of different devices and carrying years of technical debt—seemingly became frustrating enough for Amazon to push toward an in-house solution.
For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that a large portion of cryptographic keys used to protect data in computer-to-server SSH traffic are vulnerable to complete compromise when naturally occurring computational errors occur while the connection is being established.
Underscoring the importance of their discovery, the researchers used their findings to calculate the private portion of almost 200 unique SSH keys they observed in public Internet scans taken over the past seven years. The researchers suspect keys used in IPsec connections could suffer the same fate. SSH is the cryptographic protocol used in secure shell connections that allows computers to remotely access servers, usually in security-sensitive enterprise environments. IPsec is a protocol used by virtual private networks that route traffic through an encrypted tunnel.
The vulnerability occurs when there are errors during the signature generation that takes place when a client and server are establishing a connection. It affects only keys using the RSA cryptographic algorithm, which the researchers found in roughly a third of the SSH signatures they examined. That translates to roughly 1 billion signatures out of the 3.2 billion signatures examined. Of the roughly 1 billion RSA signatures, about one in a million exposed the private key of the host.
While the percentage is infinitesimally small, the finding is nonetheless surprising for several reasons—most notably because most SSH software in use—including OpenSSH—has deployed a countermeasure for decades that checks for signature faults before sending a signature over the Internet. Another reason for the surprise is that until now, researchers believed that signature faults exposed only RSA keys used in the TLS—or Transport Layer Security—protocol encrypting Web and email connections. They believed SSH traffic was immune from such attacks because passive attackers—meaning adversaries simply observing traffic as it goes by—couldn't see some of the necessary information when the errors happened.
[...] As noted earlier, researchers had no evidence that passive attacks exploiting signature errors were feasible when traffic was transmitted through non-TLS protocols such as SSH or IPsec. The reason is that the cryptographic hash of the signature from the latter protocols includes a shared secret generated by the Diffie-Hellman key exchange. The security provided by the exchange meant that passively observing the faulty signature didn't expose enough key material to recover the private key using a GCD attack.
The attack described in the paper published this month clears the hurdle of missing key material exposed in faulty SSH signatures by harnessing an advanced cryptanalytic technique involving the same mathematics found in lattice-based cryptography. The technique was first described in 2009, but the paper demonstrated only that it was theoretically possible to recover a key using incomplete information in a faulty signature. This month's paper implements the technique in a real-world attack that uses a naturally occurring corrupted SSH signature to recover the underlying RSA key that generated it.
[...] The researchers traced the keys they compromised to devices that used custom, closed-source SSH implementations that didn't implement the countermeasures found in OpenSSH and other widely used open source code libraries. The devices came from four manufacturers: Cisco, Zyxel, Hillstone Networks, and Mocana. Both Cisco and Zyxel responded to the researchers' notification of the test results before the completion of the study.
[...] The important thing is that a single flip of a bit—in which a 0 residing in a memory chip register turns to 1 or vice versa—is all that's required to trigger an error that exposes a secret RSA key. Consequently, it's crucial that the countermeasures that detect and suppress such errors work with near-100 percent accuracy. Ryan also said that secret keys in post-quantum algorithms may be similarly vulnerable to exposure caused by computational errors.
"Our research reiterates the importance of defense in depth in cryptographic implementations and illustrates the need for protocol designs that are more robust against computational errors, like is exhibited by TLS 1.3 or certain configurations of IPSec," Ryan wrote. It "illustrates the importance of protecting against computational faults for any cryptographic implementation going forward, even in usage scenarios where an attacker is unlikely to have physical access."
An international team of linguists and geneticists led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig has achieved a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the origins of Indo-European, a family of languages spoken by nearly half of the world's population.
For over two hundred years, the origin of the Indo-European languages has been disputed. Two main theories have recently dominated this debate: the 'Steppe' hypothesis, which proposes an origin in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe around 6000 years ago, and the 'Anatolian' or 'farming' hypothesis, suggesting an older origin tied to early agriculture around 9000 years ago. Previous phylogenetic analyses of Indo-European languages have come to conflicting conclusions about the age of the family, due to the combined effects of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the datasets they used and limitations in the way that phylogenetic methods analyzed ancient languages.
[...] The team used recently developed ancestry-enabled Bayesian phylogenetic analysis to test whether ancient written languages, such as Classical Latin and Vedic Sanskrit, were the direct ancestors of modern Romance and Indic languages, respectively. Russell Gray, Head of the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution and senior author of the study, emphasized the care they had taken to ensure that their inferences were robust. "Our chronology is robust across a wide range of alternative phylogenetic models and sensitivity analyses", he stated. These analyses estimate the Indo-European family to be approximately 8100 years old, with five main branches already split off by around 7000 years ago.
These results are not entirely consistent with either the Steppe or the farming hypotheses. The first author of the study, Paul Heggarty, observed that "Recent ancient DNA data suggest that the Anatolian branch of Indo-European did not emerge from the Steppe, but from further south, in or near the northern arc of the Fertile Crescent — as the earliest source of the Indo-European family. Our language family tree topology, and our lineage split dates, point to other early branches that may also have spread directly from there, not through the Steppe."
The authors of the study therefore proposed a new hybrid hypothesis for the origin of the Indo-European languages, with an ultimate homeland south of the Caucasus and a subsequent branch northwards onto the Steppe, as a secondary homeland for some branches of Indo-European entering Europe with the later Yamnaya and Corded Ware-associated expansions. "Ancient DNA and language phylogenetics thus combine to suggest that the resolution to the 200-year-old Indo-European enigma lies in a hybrid of the farming and Steppe hypotheses", remarked Gray.
Wolfgang Haak, a Group Leader in the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, summarizes the implications of the new study by stating, "Aside from a refined time estimate for the overall language tree, the tree topology and branching order are most critical for the alignment with key archaeological events and shifting ancestry patterns seen in the ancient human genome data. This is a huge step forward from the mutually exclusive, previous scenarios, towards a more plausible model that integrates archaeological, anthropological and genetic findings."
Paul Heggarty, Cormac Anderson, Matthew Scarborough, et al., Language trees with sampled ancestors support a hybrid model for the origin of Indo-European languages, Science, 28 July 2023 DOI: 10.1126/science.abg0818
Meeting Announcement: The next meeting of the SoylentNews governance committee is scheduled for Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 21:00 UTC (4pm Eastern) in #governance on SoylentNews IRC. Logs of the meeting will be available afterwards for review, and minutes will be published when complete.
The agenda for the upcoming meeting will also be published when available. Minutes and agenda, and other governance committee information are to be found on the SoylentNews Wiki at: https://wiki.staging.soylentnews.org/wiki/Governance
Highlights expected in tomorrow's meeting are discussion of Draft 8 of the bylaws, and a statement from janrinok.
The community is welcome to observe and participate, and is invited to the meeting.
This week doctors announced they had completed the first successful transplant of a partial face and an entire eye. In May at NYU Langone Health in New York City, the surgery was performed on a 46-year-old man who had suffered severe electrical burns to his face, left eye and left arm. He does not yet have vision in the transplanted eye and may never regain it there, but early evidence suggests the eye itself is healthy and may be capable of transmitting neurological signals to the brain.
The feat opens up the possibility of restoring the appearance—and maybe even sight—of people who have been disfigured or blinded by injuries. Researchers caution there are many technical hurdles before such a procedure can effectively treat vision loss, however.
"I think it's an important proof of principle," says Jeffrey Goldberg, a professor and chair of ophthalmology at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford University, who was not involved in the surgery but has been part of a team working toward whole-eye transplants in humans. "I think it points to the opportunity and importance that we really stand on the verge of being able to [achieve] eye transplants and vision restoration for blind patients more broadly. "But he cautions that the main obstacle is achieving regeneration of the optic nerve, which carries visual signals from the retina to the brain; this step has not yet been successfully demonstrated in humans.
Face and cornea transplants have been performed before, yet to the NYU Langone team's knowledge, this is the first time a whole eye has been transplanted successfully (with or without a face). The first partial face transplant was performed in 2005 in France. As of 2021, nearly 50 face transplants had been conducted worldwide. In 1969 Texas physician Conard Moore claimed to have attempted the first whole-eye transplant in a human, but it was not successful. Amid criticism, Moore later retracted his claim, saying he had only transplanted the eye's outer portion—the sclera and cornea. Although a subsequent analysis suggested he may, in fact, have transplanted the whole eye, it did not develop a blood supply.
The recent transplant was performed by Eduardo Rodriguez, director of the face transplant program and chair of the department of plastic surgery at NYU Langone Health, and his colleagues. The recipient was Arkansas-based military veteran Aaron James, whose face touched a live wire while he was working as an electrical lineman in Oklahoma in June 2021. The accident left him with severe burns to the left side of his face, including his left eye, nose and lips, and extensive damage to his left arm, his dominant limb. James was transferred to a hospital in Texas, where he received multiple reconstructive surgeries. His left eye was removed because it was causing pain, and his left arm was amputated above the elbow and fitted with a prosthetic hook. He was in a medical coma for six weeks and he says he doesn't remember anything from the accident and afterward until he woke up at the hospital.
Two months after the accident, Rodriguez and his colleagues at NYU Langone Health became aware of James's case. Over the next year they discussed the possibility of a face transplant with Aaron James and his wife, Meagan. The decision was made to transplant the donor's eye as well, because even if James never regained sight, the organ would help restore his face's appearance. Like any transplant, there was a chance his immune system would reject the eye—but he would already need to take immunosuppressant medication for the face transplant.
[...] James has since made a good recovery. He is able to talk, and although he does not have much ability to move his lips and facial muscles yet, Rodriguez says he will recover a lot of that ability with time. He can eat food on his own again now, and his wife Meagan says he has a big appetite. James was even able to attend his daughter's high school graduation, and he says keeping his sense of humor has been critical to his recovery.
Rodriguez and the rest of the surgical team are very pleased with James's recovery. "Everything that we're seeing so far, no one expected," he says. "Even if we don't get sight, I will tell you at this point in time, everything seems incredibly exciting."
The "Man in the Moon" is older than we thought.
Scientists have proposed resetting the lunar clock after reassessing impact craters on the surface of the moon. This means that some features of the moon, like the formation that makes up the face of the "Man in the Moon" formation could be 200 million years older than previously theorized.
The new dating system could help to better tell the story of the evolution of the lunar surface and has important implications for our understanding of the violent and turbulent early history of the solar system during which bodies like Earth and the moon were subject to intense bombardment by space rocks.
The new evaluation involved reexamining two separate ways of dating the lunar surface: Counting the number of craters caused by the impact of space rocks; and the assessment of moon rocks collected by the Apollo missions. These two dating methods have traditionally given different results, especially for the ages of the heavily cratered and mountainous highlands of the moon.
[...] "Looking at the signs of these impacts on the moon shows what Earth would be like without the geological churning of plate tectonics which took place here on Earth," Werner said. "What we have done is to show that large portions of the lunar crust are around 200 million years older than had been thought."
The team behind the findings explains that the new dating system doesn't change estimates of the moon's age as a whole, which remains around 4.53 billion years. Instead, it changes the age of all areas of the moon's surface but not in a uniform way; the new dating system suggests older areas are subject to the greatest shift in age due to the new system.
[...] "Such a heavy bombardment period must have affected the origin and early evolution of life on Earth and potentially other planets such as Mars," Bouvier said in a statement. "Bringing back rock samples from Jezero Crater on Mars will be the next giant leap forward to search for signs of ancient life on another planet in the solar system, and when."
The team's research was presented at the Goldschmidt Conference held in Lyon, France, between July 9 and July 14. It has been accepted for publication in the Planetary Science Journal.