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Anomaly Six, a secretive government contractor, claims to monitor the movements of billions of phones around the world and unmask spies with the press of a button. 

To fully impress upon its audience the immense power of this software, Anomaly Six did what few in the world can claim to do: spied on American spies. “I like making fun of our own people,” Clark began. Pulling up a Google Maps-like satellite view, the sales rep showed the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. With virtual boundary boxes drawn around both, a technique known as geofencing, A6’s software revealed an incredible intelligence bounty: 183 dots representing phones that had visited both agencies potentially belonging to American intelligence personnel, with hundreds of lines streaking outward revealing their movements, ready to track throughout the world. “So, if I’m a foreign intel officer, that’s 183 start points for me now,” Clark noted.

https://theintercept.com/2022/04/22/anomaly-six-phone-tracking-zignal-surveillance-cia-nsa/

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Over the course of this article I’ll explain the workings of the mechanism seen in the demonstration below. You can drag the device around to change your viewing angle, and you can use the slider to peek at what’s going on inside:

Mechanical Watch (Bartosz Ciechanowski)

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One of my favorite “proofs” of evolution is the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN)—the nerve that innervates the larynx from the brain, helping us speak and swallow.  It takes a very circuitous course, looping from the brainstem down around the aorta and then back up to the larynx.  Here’s its course in humans:

http://whyevolutionistrue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/good-recurrent-laryngeal-nerve.jpg

It’s a prime example of “bad design”, that is, of the ham-handedness of any creator that was responsible for designing organisms. Of course, we aren’t designed, but evolved from very different ancestors.  That’s why our bodies are full of glitches and kludges, and this nerve is one of them.  It’s much longer than it need be, taking a tortuous route several feet longer than the direct path from brain to neck.

I’ve talked about the evolutionary reasons for this many times; you can see the full explanation in WEIT or read about it here.  This diagram shows how it worked: the nerve used to line up with a blood vessel, both servicing the gills of our fishy ancestors.  When the vessel moved backwards during evoution, the RLN was constrained to remain behind it, still retaining its connection to the larynx, which evolved from a gill arch.  The nerve could not “break” to attain the shortest route, for that would not be possible by natural selection: it would interrupt the nerve transmission and be maladaptive.  Click to enlarge:

http://whyevolutionistrue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/laryngeal-nerve.jpg?w=500

As I also point out in WEIT, this poor design reaches ludicrous heights, so to speak, in giraffes, whose long neck makes the RLN take a 15-foot detour:

http://whyevolutionistrue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/450px-giraffarecurren-svg.png

Do remember that this nerve consists of a bundle of nerve cells, each of which travels the entire length of the nerve.  Thus the giraffe must have nerve cells (including the axons) about fifteen feet long. That is a very long cell!

But there are even longer.  In a new paper now in press at Acta Palaeontologica Polnoica (free at the link, reference below), anatomist Mathew J. Wedel simply thought a bit more about the nerve: what would it look like in animals with even longer necks?  Those, of course, would include the sauropod dinosaurs.  And in some of them, like the gynormous Supersaurus, the recurrent laryngeal nerve, and its included cells, could have been longer than 28 meters (92 feet).  Here’s a diagram from Wedel’s paper, which is very clear and well written (he also explains it in a post at his website, Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week😞

http://whyevolutionistrue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/picture-13.png?w=500

There’s little doubt, by the way, that dinosaurs did have recurrent laryngeal nerves.  All living tetrapods do, whether they be amphibians, reptiles, or mammals.  This suggests very strongly that the RLN is an ancestral condition in tetrapods, resulting from their mutual evolution from fishy ancestors.

But wait, there’s more! (Does this sound like an ad for Ginsu knives?)  Even longer cells can be found in living organisms, in particular the blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus.  Wedel speculates, reasonably (I doubt that dissections have been done), that nerves running from the whale’s brain to the flukes of its tail might be 30 meters or more (98 feet) in length.

But there’s still more!  The sauropod dinosaur Amphicoelias fragillimus was, arguably, as long as 49-58 meters (161-190 feet) from snout to tail.   The nerves innervating the tail could have been only a meter or so shorter than that.  Now we’re not sure about the neck length of A. fragillimus: its RLN could have been 38 meters long (124 feet) or more; remember that the nerve has to run the length of the 19-meter neck twice.

So what was the longest cell in the history of life? Our best guess is 40-50 meters (130-160 feet!) for nerves innervating the tail in the longest sauropods:

http://whyevolutionistrue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/picture-23.png?w=500Wedel points out that cells this long pose some obvious problems to the physiologist:

  • Pain signals traveling along the RLN in sauropods could have moved extremely slowly.  Wedel notes that “unmyelinated vagal afferent fibers have conduction velocities as low as 0.5 m/s, and some unmyelinated fibers are present even in the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe.  Unless selected for faster response, similar unmyelinated fibers would have taken almost a full minute to relay ‘slow pain’ signals to the brain of Supersaurus!” Wedel notes, though, that an injury to the dinosaur’s throat could have been detected more quickly from damage to nerves in the skin of the throat, whose path to the brain was only a meter long.
  • A bigger problem: nerve cells must transport material from the cell body itself to the tips of the axons.  It’s done through a process called “axoplasmic streaming”, which carries different molecules at different rates.  Neurotransmitters and enzymes, for example, travel 200-400 mm (8-16 inches) per day, but the transport of some proteins is slower: 0.1 -1.0 mm per day! As Wedel notes, “Even at 1 mm/day, slow axoplasmic streaming would take more than four decades to move proteins from the nerve cell body to the axon terminals in the longest neurons of large whales.  This, of course, is not feasible, and Wedel suggests that either axoplasmic streaming must be much faster in whales (and in dinosaurs), or there is some other way they transport proteins through nerve cells.  Here’s a fertile field for cell biologists!
 

 

Edited by trying to be less rude
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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61434295

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Scientists have grown plants in lunar soil for the first time, an important step towards making long-term stays on the moon possible.

Researchers used small samples of dust collected during the 1969-1972 Apollo missions to grow a type of cress. Much to their surprise, the seeds sprouted after two days.

 

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Pro advice on taking your shot

Whether you’re a composer, producer, or performer, getting your start in the music industry can be a daunting challenge. Learn more about the biz—and explore stories behind legendary successes like The Beatles and David Bowie—in these books from Taylor & Francis! Add Understanding the Music Business, The Digital Musician, How to Make Great Music Mashups, and more to your reading list, and support Every Child a Reader with your purchase!

Break Into the Music Business Book Bundle (Humble Bundle)

Some interesting titles in there, 30 books for less than 20 EUR/USD, proceeds going (mostly) to charity.

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FTqBbM7aAAAkSIB?format=jpg&name=medium
 

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A long-buried corpse, preserved by one of Earth's driest climates, Chile's Atacama Desert, where it has retained centuries-old skin, hair and clothing. Dated around 5020 BC. 

They are oldest examples of artificially mummified human remains, having been buried up to two thousand years before Egyptian mummies. Earliest mummy that has been found in Egypt dated around 3000 BC, oldest anthropogenically modified Chinchorro mummy dates from around 5050 BC.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-58639748

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"Scientists at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution announced today that ribonucleic acid (RNA), an analog of DNA that was likely the first genetic material for life, spontaneously forms on basalt lava glass."

there's that

https://phys.org/news/2022-06-scientists-breakthrough-life-earthand-mars.amp

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Introducing Basic Pitch, Spotify’s free open source tool for converting audio into MIDI. Basic Pitch uses machine learning to transcribe the musical notes in a recording. Drop a recording of almost any instrument, including your voice, then get back a MIDI version, just like that. Unlike similar ML models, Basic Pitch is not only versatile and accurate, but also fast and computationally lightweight. It was built for artists and producers who want an easy way to turn their recorded ideas into MIDI, a standard for representing notes used in digital music production.

Meet Basic Pitch: Spotify’s Open Source Audio-to-MIDI Converter (Spotify Engineering)

 

 

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You just know they're training AIs to replace all those unthankful musicians they pay so well.

Edited by Silent Member
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FWBCzFBXEAI8gmX?format=jpg&name=large

Anonychia congenita is a condition that affects the fingernails and toenails. Individuals with this condition are typically missing all of their fingernails and toenails (anonychia). This absence of nails is noticeable from birth (congenital). In some cases, only part of the nail is missing (hyponychia) or not all fingers and toes are affected. All of the other tissues at the tips of the fingers and toes, including structures that usually support the nail and its growth (such as the nail bed), are normal.

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3 hours ago, Nebraska said:

FWBCzFBXEAI8gmX?format=jpg&name=large

Anonychia congenita is a condition that affects the fingernails and toenails. Individuals with this condition are typically missing all of their fingernails and toenails (anonychia). This absence of nails is noticeable from birth (congenital). In some cases, only part of the nail is missing (hyponychia) or not all fingers and toes are affected. All of the other tissues at the tips of the fingers and toes, including structures that usually support the nail and its growth (such as the nail bed), are normal.

I'm missing a big toenail. I got it removed because it kept coming in in-grown, caused lots of problems. Whenever I stump it on anything it hurts like a mother... There's a reason we have these things I guess.

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