January 26, 2021

Salim Abdool Karim was at a cricket match on December 26, Boxing Day, when he made the mistake of looking at his email. He had received a new report and the news wasn’t good. A heavily mutated coronavirus spotted in South Africa appeared to allow the virus to bind more tightly, and more easily, to human cells.

Karim, an epidemiologist and lead covid-19 adviser to the South African government, knew what the report meant. It could explain a drastic change in covid-19 in his country, where rising case numbers were turning every province red.

“It simply went up, up, up, and up, into the equivalent of an Everest,” Karim says.

The rise in cases in South Africa has been linked to a new, highly mutated form of the covid-19 virus. And it’s just part of a wider pattern being seen around the world. Over the last month, weary researchers racing … Read the rest

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Lina Khan at her New York home in 2017. | An Rong Xu for the Washington Post

Outgoing FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra has been advocating for Khan’s nomination.

Lina Khan, an antitrust expert, Columbia law professor and thorn in the side of Big Tech, is gaining traction as a candidate to fill one of the commissioner roles at the Federal Trade Commission under President Joe Biden, three sources familiar with the discussions told Recode this week.

Khan would likely fill the commissioner seat currently held by Rohit Chopra, a Democrat who Biden has tapped to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Chopra has been advocating for the nomination of Khan, the sources said, with one person familiar with deliberations calling her a current “frontrunner.” Khan served as a legal fellow at the FTC in Chopra’s office in 2018 and at the CFPB as a summer associate while Chopra worked … Read the rest

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The history of electronics is a story of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and of three key components—the vacuum tube , the transistor, and the integrated circuit In 1883, Thomas Alva Edison discovered that electrons flow from one metal conductor to another through a vacuum. Dropped calls” is a phrase that has popped up in force since cellular phones made the scene. This phrase is often heard in relation to cell phone service but is rarely associated with a home phone. Reliability is one factor that just can’t be argued when it comes to the advantage of landlines over mobile phones. Landlines receive much less interference than do cell phones. Even in a storm, when cell phone reception is patchy, landlines are usually going strong. The modern era of electronics originated in the early twentieth century with the invention of the electron tube. An electron tube is a … Read the rest

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UK researchers have discovered how skin conditions like chronic eczema develop (Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

UK scientists have discovered how chronic conditions such as psoriasis and eczema develop in skin cells which, they believe, could open doors for potential new treatments.

Researchers have found that cells from skin with eczema and psoriasis share some of the same cellular mechanisms as developing healthy skin cells.

The team said the findings, published in the journal Science, could help in the development of new drugs targeting inflammatory skin disease.

Psoriasis, which affects around 2% of people in the UK, is caused by an increased production of skin cells.

Although the process is not fully understood, the condition is thought to be related to a problem with the immune system.

Eczema, which causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked, is more common in children but can improve as … Read the rest

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Getting connected on your device

A little known feature introduced in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 is the ability to use a private Wi-Fi address. But, why would you want to use a private Wi-Fi address? It’s simple, really. The device you are using on any wireless network is trackable by its MAC (media access control) address. Apple is making it easy for your iPhone or iPad using iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 to use a private address. This makes your device and its activity less trackable, meaning more peace of mind for you.

Why is a private Wi-Fi address important?

To illustrate why it’s important to use a private Wi-Fi address, let’s consider our daily routine. We may stop for some caffeine at our favorite coffee shop, grab lunch at our favorite burger joint, and then pick up a few items at the grocery store. If you’re not using

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  • The LG Rollable phone that was teased at CES 2021 and then confirmed to launch this year might turn out to be vaporware.
  • LG is looking to sell its mobile division, according to several reports, including a story that says a Vietnam-based group wants LG’s mobile business in the US.
  • It’s unclear what will happen to the LG Rollable project should LG sell its mobile division.

LG stunned the world a few weeks ago with the most exciting phone it ever developed. We learned of LG’s plans to launch a Rollable phone last year, around the time the company was getting ready to launch one of the worst ideas in mobile tech in recent years, the LG Wing phone with a swiveling screen. We all thought the LG Rollable phone that LG showed at CES could be easily filled into the category of “vaporware” tech that’s often showcased at … Read the rest

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A virtual robot arm has learned to solve a wide range of different puzzles—stacking blocks, setting the table, arranging chess pieces—without having to be retrained for each task. It did this by playing against a second robot arm that was trained to give it harder and harder challenges.

Self play: Developed by researchers at OpenAI, the identical robot arms—Alice and Bob—learn by playing a game against each other in a simulation, without human input. The robots use reinforcement learning, a technique in which AIs are trained by trial and error what actions to take in different situations to achieve certain goals. The game involves moving objects around on a virtual tabletop. By arranging objects in specific ways, Alice tries to set puzzles that are hard for Bob to solve. Bob tries to solve Alice’s puzzles. As they learn, Alice sets more complex puzzles and Bob gets better at … Read the rest

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Donald Trump was banned from posting on Facebook in the final weeks of his presidency. | Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Facebook asked its independent oversight board to decide if it made the right call when it indefinitely suspended Trump.

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There’s a chance — even if it’s just a slim one — that Donald Trump could get his Facebook back.

On Thursday, Facebook said that it asked an independent group called the Facebook oversight board to review the company’s decision earlier this month to indefinitely suspend the now-former US president. The oversight board, a group of academics, journalists, and policy experts from around the world, was created to review Facebook’s content moderation decisions. It got started late last year and has enough power that it can overrule even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who controversially resisted calls to moderate Trump’s posts for almost his entire presidency.

The board quickly accepted the Trump suspension … Read the rest

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Netflix is the market leader when it comes to streaming services (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Netflix has just hit a major milestone as it confirmed it now has over 200 million subscribers to its service around the world.

And, to celebrate, it seems to be finally making the ‘Shuffle Play’ option official.

The option of just launching a random Netflix show or movie has been talked about for a while but now it appears some users have access to the feature.

It appears either as an option in the side bar or underneath the profile pictures on the account when you choose who’s watching.

‘Our members can basically indicate to us that they just want to skip browsing entirely, click one button, and we’ll pick a title for them just to instantly play,’ explained Netflix COO and chief product officer Greg Peters, during a call … Read the rest

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Whether you’re still in high school or the middle of college, a laptop is an essential piece of equipment for every student. Apple makes some of the best laptops in the world with its MacBook lineup. Whether it’s the powerful MacBook Pro or hyper-portable MacBook Air, Apple’s laptops will power you through any task you’ll meet. For most students, the MacBook Air (M1,2020) is the best choice. It has enough power to face almost any academic challenge you come up against. There are other MacBooks to consider, depending on your situation, as you can see below.

Best Overall: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

In mid-2020, Cupertino announced Apple silicon. Six months later, the first non-Intel-based MacBooks in over a decade arrived, starting with the MacBook Air (M1, 2020). The best MacBook for students this year, the latest MacBook Air packs a punch for anyone on a smaller budget, starting with

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