Jamie Ducharme

1 year ago

How monkeypox spreads (and doesn't spread)

More on Science

Will Lockett

Will Lockett

1 year ago

The Unlocking Of The Ultimate Clean Energy

Terrestrial space-solar terminals could look like radio telescopes — Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

The company seeking 24/7 ultra-powerful solar electricity.

We're rushing to adopt low-carbon energy to prevent a self-made doomsday. We're using solar, wind, and wave energy. These low-carbon sources aren't perfect. They consume large areas of land, causing habitat loss. They don't produce power reliably, necessitating large grid-level batteries, an environmental nightmare. We can and must do better than fossil fuels. Longi, one of the world's top solar panel producers, is creating a low-carbon energy source. Solar-powered spacecraft. But how does it work? Why is it so environmentally harmonious? And how can Longi unlock it?

Space-based solar makes sense. Satellites above Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) enjoy 24/7 daylight. Outer space has no atmosphere or ozone layer to block the Sun's high-energy UV radiation. Solar panels can create more energy in space than on Earth due to these two factors. Solar panels in orbit can create 40 times more power than those on Earth, according to estimates.

How can we utilize this immense power? Launch a geostationary satellite with solar panels, then beam power to Earth. Such a technology could be our most eco-friendly energy source. (Better than fusion power!) How?

Solar panels create more energy in space, as I've said. Solar panel manufacture and grid batteries emit the most carbon. This indicates that a space-solar farm's carbon footprint (which doesn't need a battery because it's a constant power source) might be over 40 times smaller than a terrestrial one. Combine that with carbon-neutral launch vehicles like Starship, and you have a low-carbon power source. Solar power has one of the lowest emissions per kWh at 6g/kWh, so space-based solar could approach net-zero emissions.

Space solar is versatile because it doesn't require enormous infrastructure. A space-solar farm could power New York and Dallas with the same efficiency, without cables. The satellite will transmit power to a nearby terminal. This allows an energy system to evolve and adapt as the society it powers changes. Building and maintaining infrastructure can be carbon-intensive, thus less infrastructure means less emissions.

Space-based solar doesn't destroy habitats, either. Solar and wind power can be engineered to reduce habitat loss, but they still harm ecosystems, which must be restored. Space solar requires almost no land, therefore it's easier on Mother Nature.

Space solar power could be the ultimate energy source. So why haven’t we done it yet?

Well, for two reasons: the cost of launch and the efficiency of wireless energy transmission.

Advances in rocket construction and reusable rocket technology have lowered orbital launch costs. In the early 2000s, the Space Shuttle cost $60,000 per kg launched into LEO, but a SpaceX Falcon 9 costs only $3,205. 95% drop! Even at these low prices, launching a space-based solar farm is commercially questionable.

Energy transmission efficiency is half of its commercial viability. Space-based solar farms must be in geostationary orbit to get 24/7 daylight, 22,300 miles above Earth's surface. It's a long way to wirelessly transmit energy. Most laser and microwave systems are below 20% efficient.

Space-based solar power is uneconomical due to low efficiency and high deployment costs.

Longi wants to create this ultimate power. But how?

They'll send solar panels into space to develop space-based solar power that can be beamed to Earth. This mission will help them design solar panels tough enough for space while remaining efficient.

Longi is a Chinese company, and China's space program and universities are developing space-based solar power and seeking commercial partners. Xidian University has built a 98%-efficient microwave-based wireless energy transmission system for space-based solar power. The Long March 5B is China's super-cheap (but not carbon-offset) launch vehicle.

Longi fills the gap. They have the commercial know-how and ability to build solar satellites and terrestrial terminals at scale. Universities and the Chinese government have transmission technology and low-cost launch vehicles to launch this technology.

It may take a decade to develop and refine this energy solution. This could spark a clean energy revolution. Once operational, Longi and the Chinese government could offer the world a flexible, environmentally friendly, rapidly deployable energy source.

Should the world adopt this technology and let China control its energy? I'm not very political, so you decide. This seems to be the beginning of tapping into this planet-saving energy source. Forget fusion reactors. Carbon-neutral energy is coming soon.

Katrina Paulson

Katrina Paulson

1 year ago

Dehumanization Against Anthropomorphization

We've fought for humanity's sake. We need equilibrium.

Photo by Bekah Russom on Unsplash

We live in a world of opposites (black/white, up/down, love/hate), thus life is a game of achieving equilibrium. We have a universe of paradoxes within ourselves, not just in physics.

Individually, you balance your intellect and heart, but as a species, we're full of polarities. They might be gentle and compassionate, then ruthless and unsympathetic.

We desire for connection so much that we personify non-human beings and objects while turning to violence and hatred toward others. These contrasts baffle me. Will we find balance?


Assigning human-like features or bonding with objects is common throughout childhood. Cartoons often give non-humans human traits. Adults still anthropomorphize this trait. Researchers agree we start doing it as infants and continue throughout life.

Humans of all ages are good at humanizing stuff. We build emotional attachments to weather events, inanimate objects, animals, plants, and locales. Gods, goddesses, and fictitious figures are anthropomorphized.

Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, features anthropization. Hanks is left on an island, where he builds an emotional bond with a volleyball he calls Wilson.

We became emotionally invested in Wilson, including myself.

Why do we do it, though?

Our instincts and traits helped us survive and thrive. Our brain is alert to other people's thoughts, feelings, and intentions to assist us to determine who is safe or hazardous. We can think about others and our own mental states, or about thinking. This is the Theory of Mind.

Neurologically, specialists believe the Theory of Mind has to do with our mirror neurons, which exhibit the same activity while executing or witnessing an action.

Mirror neurons may contribute to anthropization, but they're not the only ones. In 2021, Harvard Medical School researchers at MGH and MIT colleagues published a study on the brain's notion of mind.

“Our study provides evidence to support theory of mind by individual neurons. Until now, it wasn’t clear whether or how neurons were able to perform these social cognitive computations.”

Neurons have particular functions, researchers found. Others encode information that differentiates one person's beliefs from another's. Some neurons reflect tale pieces, whereas others aren't directly involved in social reasoning but may multitask contributing factors.

Combining neuronal data gives a precise portrait of another's beliefs and comprehension. The theory of mind describes how we judge and understand each other in our species, and it likely led to anthropomorphism. Neuroscience indicates identical brain regions react to human or non-human behavior, like mirror neurons.

Some academics believe we're wired for connection, which explains why we anthropomorphize. When we're alone, we may anthropomorphize non-humans.

Humanizing non-human entities may make them deserving of moral care, according to another theory. Animamorphizing something makes it responsible for its actions and deserves punishments or rewards. This mental shift is typically apparent in our connections with pets and leads to deanthropomorphization.


Dehumanizing involves denying someone or anything ethical regard, the opposite of anthropomorphizing.

Dehumanization occurs throughout history. We do it to everything in nature, including ourselves. We experiment on and torture animals. We enslave, hate, and harm other groups of people.

Race, immigrant status, dress choices, sexual orientation, social class, religion, gender, politics, need I go on? Our degrading behavior is promoting fascism and division everywhere.

Dehumanizing someone or anything reduces their agency and value. Many assume they're immune to this feature, but tests disagree.

It's inevitable. Humans are wired to have knee-jerk reactions to differences. We are programmed to dehumanize others, and it's easier than we'd like to admit.

Why do we do it, though?

Dehumanizing others is simpler than humanizing things for several reasons. First, we consider everything unusual as harmful, which has helped our species survive for hundreds of millions of years. Our propensity to be distrustful of others, like our fear of the unknown, promotes an us-vs.-them mentality.

Since WWII, various studies have been done to explain how or why the holocaust happened. How did so many individuals become radicalized to commit such awful actions and feel morally justified? Researchers quickly showed how easily the mind can turn gloomy.

Stanley Milgram's 1960s electroshock experiment highlighted how quickly people bow to authority to injure others. Philip Zimbardo's 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment revealed how power may be abused.

The us-versus-them attitude is natural and even young toddlers act on it. Without a relationship, empathy is more difficult.

It's terrifying how quickly dehumanizing behavior becomes commonplace. The current pandemic is an example. Most countries no longer count deaths. Long Covid is a major issue, with predictions of a handicapped tsunami in the future years. Mostly, we shrug.

In 2020, we panicked. Remember everyone's caution? Now Long Covid is ruining more lives, threatening to disable an insane amount of our population for months or their entire lives.

There's little research. Experts can't even classify or cure it. The people should be outraged, but most have ceased caring. They're over covid.

We're encouraged to find a method to live with a terrible pandemic that will cause years of damage. People aren't worried about infection anymore. They shrug and say, "We'll all get it eventually," then hope they're not one of the 30% who develops Long Covid.

We can correct course before further damage. Because we can recognize our urges and biases, we're not captives to them. We can think critically about our thoughts and behaviors, then attempt to improve. We can recognize our deficiencies and work to attain balance.

Changing perspectives

We're currently attempting to find equilibrium between opposites. It's superficial to defend extremes by stating we're only human or wired this way because both imply we have no control.

Being human involves having self-awareness, and by being careful of our thoughts and acts, we can find balance and recognize opposites' purpose.

Extreme anthropomorphizing and dehumanizing isolate and imperil us. We anthropomorphize because we desire connection and dehumanize because we're terrified, frequently of the connection we crave. Will we find balance?

Katrina Paulson ponders humanity, unanswered questions, and discoveries. Please check out her newsletters, Curious Adventure and Curious Life.

Katherine Kornei

Katherine Kornei

1 year ago

The InSight lander from NASA has recorded the greatest tremor ever felt on Mars.

The magnitude 5 earthquake was responsible for the discharge of energy that was 10 times greater than the previous record holder.

Any Martians who happen to be reading this should quickly learn how to duck and cover.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported that on May 4, the planet Mars was shaken by an earthquake of around magnitude 5, making it the greatest Marsquake ever detected to this point. The shaking persisted for more than six hours and unleashed more than ten times as much energy as the earthquake that had previously held the record for strongest.

The event was captured on record by the InSight lander, which is operated by the United States Space Agency and has been researching the innards of Mars ever since it touched down on the planet in 2018 (SN: 11/26/18). The epicenter of the earthquake was probably located in the vicinity of Cerberus Fossae, which is located more than 1,000 kilometers away from the lander.

The surface of Cerberus Fossae is notorious for being broken up and experiencing periodic rockfalls. According to geophysicist Philippe Lognonné, who is the lead investigator of the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the seismometer that is onboard the InSight lander, it is reasonable to assume that the ground is moving in that area. "This is an old crater from a volcanic eruption."

Marsquakes, which are similar to earthquakes in that they give information about the interior structure of our planet, can be utilized to investigate what lies beneath the surface of Mars (SN: 7/22/21). And according to Lognonné, who works at the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, there is a great deal that can be gleaned from analyzing this massive earthquake. Because the quality of the signal is so high, we will be able to focus on the specifics.

You might also like

Aaron Dinin, PhD

Aaron Dinin, PhD

1 year ago

There Are Two Types of Entrepreneurs in the World Make sure you are aware of your type!

Know why it's important.

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

The entrepreneur I was meeting with said, "I should be doing crypto, or maybe AI? Aren't those the hot spots? I should look there for a startup idea.”

I shook my head. Yes, they're exciting, but that doesn't mean they're best for you and your business.

“There are different types of entrepreneurs?” he asked.

I said "obviously." Two types, actually. Knowing what type of entrepreneur you are helps you build the right startup.

The two types of businesspeople

The best way for me to describe the two types of entrepreneurs is to start by telling you exactly the kinds of entrepreneurial opportunities I never get excited about: future opportunities.

In the early 1990s, my older brother showed me the World Wide Web and urged me to use it. Unimpressed, I returned to my Super Nintendo.

My roommate tried to get me to join Facebook as a senior in college. I remember thinking, This is dumb. Who'll use it?

In 2011, my best friend tried to convince me to buy bitcoin and I laughed.

Heck, a couple of years ago I had to buy a new car, and I never even considered buying something that didn’t require fossilized dinosaur bones.

I'm no visionary. I don't anticipate the future. I focus on the present.

This tendency makes me a problem-solving entrepreneur. I identify entrepreneurial opportunities by spotting flaws and/or inefficiencies in the world and devising solutions.

There are other ways to find business opportunities. Visionary entrepreneurs also exist. I don't mean visionary in the hyperbolic sense that implies world-changing impact. I mean visionary as an entrepreneur who identifies future technological shifts that will change how people work and live and create new markets.

Problem-solving and visionary entrepreneurs are equally good. But the two approaches to building companies are very different. Knowing the type of entrepreneur you are will help you build a startup that fits your worldview.

What is the distinction?

Let's use some simple hypotheticals to compare problem-solving and visionary entrepreneurship.

Imagine a city office building without nearby restaurants. Those office workers love to eat. Sometimes they'd rather eat out than pack a lunch. As an entrepreneur, you can solve the lack of nearby restaurants. You'd open a restaurant near that office, say a pizza parlor, and get customers because you solved the lack of nearby restaurants. Problem-solving entrepreneurship.

Imagine a new office building in a developing area with no residents or workers. In this scenario, a large office building is coming. The workers will need to eat then. As a visionary entrepreneur, you're excited about the new market and decide to open a pizzeria near the construction to meet demand.

Both possibilities involve the same product. You opened a pizzeria. How you launched that pizza restaurant and what will affect its success are different.

Why is the distinction important?

Let's say you opened a pizzeria near an office. You'll probably get customers. Because people are nearby and demand isn't being met, someone from a nearby building will stop in within the first few days of your pizzeria's grand opening. This makes solving the problem relatively risk-free. You'll get customers unless you're a fool.

The market you're targeting existed before you entered it, so you're not guaranteed success. This means people in that market solved the lack of nearby restaurants. Those office workers are used to bringing their own lunches. Why should your restaurant change their habits? Even when they eat out, they're used to traveling far. They've likely developed pizza preferences.

To be successful with your problem-solving startup, you must convince consumers to change their behavior, which is difficult.

Unlike opening a pizza restaurant near a construction site. Once the building opens, workers won't have many preferences or standardized food-getting practices. Your pizza restaurant can become the incumbent quickly. You'll be the first restaurant in the area, so you'll gain a devoted following that makes your food a routine.

Great, right? It's easier than changing people's behavior. The benefit comes with a risk. Opening a pizza restaurant near a construction site increases future risk. What if builders run out of money? No one moves in? What if the building's occupants are the National Association of Pizza Haters? Then you've opened a pizza restaurant next to pizza haters.

Which kind of businessperson are you?

This isn't to say one type of entrepreneur is better than another. Each type of entrepreneurship requires different skills.

As my simple examples show, a problem-solving entrepreneur must operate in markets with established behaviors and habits. To be successful, you must be able to teach a market a new way of doing things.

Conversely, the challenge of being a visionary entrepreneur is that you have to be good at predicting the future and getting in front of that future before other people.

Both are difficult in different ways. So, smart entrepreneurs don't just chase opportunities. Smart entrepreneurs pursue opportunities that match their skill sets.

Faisal Khan

Faisal Khan

1 year ago

4 typical methods of crypto market manipulation

Credit: Getty Images/Cemile Bingol

Market fraud

Due to its decentralized and fragmented character, the crypto market has integrity difficulties.

Cryptocurrencies are an immature sector, therefore market manipulation becomes a bigger issue. Many research have attempted to uncover these abuses. CryptoCompare's newest one highlights some of the industry's most typical scams.

Why are these concerns so common in the crypto market? First, even the largest centralized exchanges remain unregulated due to industry immaturity. A low-liquidity market segment makes an attack more harmful. Finally, market surveillance solutions not implemented reduce transparency.

In CryptoCompare's latest exchange benchmark, 62.4% of assessed exchanges had a market surveillance system, although only 18.1% utilised an external solution. To address market integrity, this measure must improve dramatically. Before discussing the report's malpractices, note that this is not a full list of attacks and hacks.

Clean Trading

An investor buys and sells concurrently to increase the asset's price. Centralized and decentralized exchanges show this misconduct. 23 exchanges have a volume-volatility correlation < 0.1 during the previous 100 days, according to CryptoCompares. In August 2022, Exchange A reported $2.5 trillion in artificial and/or erroneous volume, up from $33.8 billion the month before.


Criminals create and cancel fake orders before they can be filled. Since manipulators can hide in larger trading volumes, larger exchanges have more spoofing. A trader placed a 20.8 BTC ask order at $19,036 when BTC was trading at $19,043. BTC declined 0.13% to $19,018 in a minute. At 18:48, the trader canceled the ask order without filling it.


Most cryptocurrency front-running involves inside trading. Traditional stock markets forbid this. Since most digital asset information is public, this is harder. Retailers could utilize bots to front-run.

CryptoCompare found digital wallets of people who traded like insiders on exchange listings. The figure below shows excess cumulative anomalous returns (CAR) before a coin listing on an exchange.

Finally, LAYERING is a sequence of spoofs in which successive orders are put along a ladder of greater (layering offers) or lower (layering bids) values. The paper concludes with recommendations to mitigate market manipulation. Exchange data transparency, market surveillance, and regulatory oversight could reduce manipulative tactics.

Thomas Smith

1 year ago

ChatGPT Is Experiencing a Lightbulb Moment

Why breakthrough technologies must be accessible

ChatGPT has exploded. Over 1 million people have used the app, and coding sites like Stack Overflow have banned its answers. It's huge.

I wouldn't have called that as an AI researcher. ChatGPT uses the same GPT-3 technology that's been around for over two years.

More than impressive technology, ChatGPT 3 shows how access makes breakthroughs usable. OpenAI has finally made people realize the power of AI by packaging GPT-3 for normal users.

We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb, not because he invented it, but because he popularized it.

Going forward, AI companies that make using AI easy will thrive.

Use-case importance

Most modern AI systems use massive language models. These language models are trained on 6,000+ years of human text.

GPT-3 ate 8 billion pages, almost every book, and Wikipedia. It created an AI that can write sea shanties and solve coding problems.

Nothing new. I began beta testing GPT-3 in 2020, but the system's basics date back further.

Tools like GPT-3 are hidden in many apps. Many of the AI writing assistants on this platform are just wrappers around GPT-3.

Lots of online utilitarian text, like restaurant menu summaries or city guides, is written by AI systems like GPT-3. You've probably read GPT-3 without knowing it.


Why is ChatGPT so popular if the technology is old?

ChatGPT makes the technology accessible. Free to use, people can sign up and text with the chatbot daily. ChatGPT isn't revolutionary. It does it in a way normal people can access and be amazed by.

Accessibility isn't easy. OpenAI's Sam Altman tweeted that opening ChatGPT to the public increased computing costs.

Each chat costs "low-digit cents" to process. OpenAI probably spends several hundred thousand dollars a day to keep ChatGPT running, with no immediate business case.

Academic researchers and others who developed GPT-3 couldn't afford it. Without resources to make technology accessible, it can't be used.


This dynamic is old. In the history of science, a researcher with a breakthrough idea was often overshadowed by an entrepreneur or visionary who made it accessible to the public.

We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb. But really, Vasilij Petrov, Thomas Wright, and Joseph Swan invented the lightbulb. Edison made technology visible and accessible by electrifying public buildings, building power plants, and wiring.

Edison probably lost a ton of money on stunts like building a power plant to light JP Morgan's home, the NYSE, and several newspaper headquarters.

People wanted electric lights once they saw their benefits. By making the technology accessible and visible, Edison unlocked a hugely profitable market.

Similar things are happening in AI. ChatGPT shows that developing breakthrough technology in the lab or on B2B servers won't change the culture.

AI must engage people's imaginations to become mainstream. Before the tech impacts the world, people must play with it and see its revolutionary power.

As the field evolves, companies that make the technology widely available, even at great cost, will succeed.

OpenAI's compute fees are eye-watering. Revolutions are costly.