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How physically taxing jobs can affect the brain

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Physically taxing jobs can hinder one's cognitive health, potentially causing a person's brain to age faster and leave them with a poorer memory as they grow older, a new study suggests. In a study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in July, researchers surveyed nearly 100 cognitively healthy older adults between ages 60 and 80 years old in order to better understand how stress plays a role in how the human brain ages. Their analysis indicated that adults who reported having higher levels of physical stress in their most recent job were also people who had a smaller hippocampal volume and poorer memory performance. The hippocampus is commonly associated with memory.


AI can speed up the search for new treatments – here's how

#artificialintelligence

The drug, baricitinib, is currently marketed by Eli Lilly to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Now, thanks to AI, it is being tested against COVID-19 in a major randomised-controlled trial in collaboration with the U.S. National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in combination with remdesivir, an antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences that recently won emergency-use approval for COVID-19. Eli Lilly has now commenced its own independent trial of baricitinib as a therapy for COVID-19 in South America, Europe and Asia.


Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry - An Overview of Innovations

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Ayn serves as AI Analyst at Emerj - covering artificial intelligence use-cases and trends across industries. She previously held various roles at Accenture. Several factors have contributed to the advancement of AI in the pharmaceutical industry. These factors include the increase in the size of and the greater variety of types of biomedical datasets, as a result of the increased usage of electronic health records. This article intends to provide business leaders in the pharmacy space with an idea of what they can currently expect from Ai in their industry.


R squared Does Not Measure Predictive Capacity or Statistical Adequacy - KDnuggets

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The R-squared Goodness-of-Fit measure is one of the most widely available statistics accompanying the output of regression analysis in statistical software. Perhaps partially due to its widespread availability, it is also one of the most often misunderstood ones. In a regression with a single independent variable R2 is calculated as the ratio between the variation explained by the model and the total observed variation. It is often called the coefficient of determination and can be interpreted as the proportion of variation explained by the posed predictor. In such a case, it is equivalent to the square of the correlation coefficient of the observed and fitted values of the variable.


History of the self-driving car: from sci-fi to reality [INFOGRAPHIC] - Netimperative

#artificialintelligence

From The Love Bug through to Westworld, movies and TV shows have evolved self-driving vehicles to create unforgettable moments. But consumers remain wary of their real-life counterparts as they start to roll out onto roads around the world. Vanarama has visualised the 20 most iconic on-screen autonomous vehicles from 1960s to present day in an infographic timeline. We're getting closer to traveling from A to B in autonomous cars by the day, with a projected market of $615bn by 2026 (up from $27bn in 2017) including auto manufacturers such as BMW, Audi, Toyota to more disruptive tech-led businesses like Tesla, Google, Uber. A recent study by trend analysts ResearchAndMarkets has predicted that the global autonomous market is likely to reach a value of $615bn by 2026.


Lizard man

Science

For Jonathan Losos, tiny Caribbean islands and their reptile inhabitants are test tubes of evolution. The morning of 17 October 1996 started as usual for Jonathan Losos. The evolutionary biologist donned a broad hat and slathered on sunscreen, then headed by boat to several unnamed islets off Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas. Three years earlier, he and ecologist David Spiller had introduced local lizard species there to learn how they would compete in a once lizardless place. The pair spent the day snaring lizards, noting their exact locations, and taking stock of the insects, spiders, and vegetation. They were worried about reports of an impending hurricane, but the locals seemed confident it would veer off and spare the islands, as usual. Not this time, however. The next day, Losos and Spiller helped their hotel owner board up the windows of their beachfront cottage on Great Exuma as Hurricane Lili bore down on the island. As the wind picked up and the first squalls dumped rain, they scurried to a cinder block building up a hill. That night, the wind blew off parts of the roof and felled palm trees. A 4-meter storm surge flooded the streets, and 2 days later they found their rented motorboat stuck in a tree. The lizards had it even worse. When Losos and Spiller finally made it back out to their most exposed study sites, the islands were stripped nearly bare of brush and all the lizards were gone. But the setback for Losos's project was the start of a new chapter in his research on how the animals adapt to the varied, changeable environments on islands in and around the Caribbean. Since Lili, a half-dozen other hurricanes have inundated islets and swept away animals relocated there by Losos, who is based at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), and his team. But he and his colleagues have persevered, collecting data on how the animals adapt to predators, storm damage, and other challenges—natural and those contrived by the researchers. A lifelong reptile enthusiast, Losos is driven in part by his passion for a group of lizards called anoles, which thrive in South and Central America and throughout the Caribbean. He also views them as an opportunity. Almost half of the 400 anole species live on islands, and their diverse lifestyles, habitats, and histories have proved to be a vehicle for exploring some of evolution's biggest questions. “Jonathan's islands are like giant test tubes, and he is the ultimate tinkerer,” says Martha Muñoz, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University. Losos's research on anoles has shown that evolution can happen faster than most scientists had assumed, and that—contrary to what some leading thinkers have proposed—it is often predictable. Faced with similar challenges, separate populations often evolve similar solutions. Along the way, Losos has mentored dozens of young scientists, and some are now carrying his work in new directions. “Beyond his many contributions to the field, Jonathan has also changed the course of science simply by being who he is,” Muñoz, a former student, says. “He is proof that success is richer and more rewarding when accompanied by kindness and humility.” ODDLY ENOUGH, THE 1950S TV show Leave it to Beaver started Losos down this path. When 7-year-old Beaver brought home a pet alligator, young Losos asked his parents whether he, too, could get one. His mom was against it, but his father said he would ask a family friend, the deputy director of the St. Louis Zoo, for advice. A successful businessman, the senior Losos also loved animals, taking his family on nature vacations, joining the zoo's board, and even financing the zoo's acquisition of a baby elephant from Thailand, which he named Carolyn in honor of his wife. To everyone's surprise, the director heartily approved, saying that having an alligator as a childhood pet was how he got his start in herpetology. So the junior Losos acquired several baby caimans, which lived in a baby pool in the basement in winter and in a horse trough in the yard the rest of the year. Only a few times did the animals escape and terrorize the neighbors. Losos worked summers at the zoo until partway through college, eventually donating his caimans to a zookeeper. “Jonathan started off as a little kid loving nature, endlessly pestering staff at his local zoo, catching lizards on family vacations, and he's never lost that spark,” says Harry Greene, herpetologist emeritus at Cornell University and Losos's graduate school adviser. As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Losos fell under the tutelage of herpetologist Ernest Williams. Sometimes referred to as the father of anole biology, Williams had recognized that anoles on different Caribbean islands evolved independently. Yet on each island he'd found a similar set of body types or “ecomorphs”—one specialized for living in the brush, another for gripping twigs, and still others for life high in the trees. These parallels suggested that where circumstances were similar, evolution would converge on the same set of traits and form communities with similar sets of species. Williams's lab had already produced several leading evolutionary biologists, and Losos figured the field of anole research was getting too crowded. But no other species both captured his interest and was easy to study. “I went through a dozen failed Ph.D. projects,” he recalls. At a low point, he seriously considered law school, but his dad convinced him that the world needed herpetologists more than lawyers. Losos eventually realized that anoles were perfect for applying new tools in evolutionary biology. Researchers were just beginning to build family trees and trace evolution based on protein variations among species. For his Ph.D., Losos compared proteins in Caribbean anoles and verified that Williams's ecomorphs had indeed evolved independently to form similar communities on different islands ( Science , 27 March 1998, p. [2115][1]). That insight alone—support for an idea called convergent evolution—“was a really important breakthrough,” says Frank Burbrink, a herpetologist at the American Museum of Natural History. Meanwhile, other researchers were calling for more rigor in evolution studies by requiring evidence that supposedly adaptive traits really give an organism an advantage. So Losos began to study different anole ecomorphs, with legs and toepads of varying sizes (see graphic, p. 499). In the lab, he ran them down miniature racetracks and assessed how well they clung to smooth, vertical surfaces. He found that lizards living near the ground, close to predators, had longer legs that made them fast, whereas those living higher in brush and trees had bigger toepads to stick to leaves and smooth bark. By combining these data with his family tree studies, he got a clearer sense of the lizards' evolutionary history. He “was really one of the first people to move the field into doing evolution by integrating ecology and morphology and getting the bigger picture,” Burbrink says. Inspired by experiments in which researchers monitored evolutionary changes in guppies in Trinidad after relocating them to different streams ( Science , 24 August 2012, p. [904][2]), Losos began to wonder whether similar studies could be done in Caribbean anoles. And he realized that Thomas Schoener, one of Williams's protégés, had already laid the groundwork. In the 1980s, Thomas and Amy Schoener (they were once married) introduced local lizards to tiny lizardless islands in the Bahamas to investigate how different vegetation affected the reptiles' ability to thrive. A decade later, Losos teamed up with Thomas Schoener, by then a renowned ecologist at the University of California (UC), Davis, to revisit those sites. Consistent with Williams's and Losos's earlier findings, lizards living in scrubby vegetation had shorter legs and larger toepads than their ancestors, which had lived in tall, broad trees. These adaptations enabled them to cling to tiny twigs as they chased down insects to eat, and the changes had taken just a few generations. “Evolution can happen very quickly when natural selection is very strong,” Losos says. The idea is now well-accepted, but at the time it went against the entrenched belief that evolution was a slow process. “This is one of the few things that [Charles] Darwin got wrong,” Losos says. He decided to make anoles his life's work. HE SOON HAD TO RECKON with hurricanes. Losos and Spiller, now retired from UC Davis, had chosen the islets off Great Exuma to study the effects of competition. On some, they introduced two local species, the green and brown anoles, and on others, just a single species. In the first 3 years, they noticed that on islands with both kinds, the brown lizards were driving the green anoles higher into the bushes, where they were struggling. That's when Lili hit, ruining the experiment before they could see whether the green anoles would go extinct. “It would have been so easy, I'm sure, to pack it all in and give up,” says Luke Harmon, one of Losos's former students and now an evolutionary biologist at the University of Idaho. Instead, Losos and Spiller used the disaster to their advantage. They documented Lili's great, but also patchy, impact. Islands southwest of Great Exuma felt the brunt of the storm surge and were devoid of lizards and vegetation. Life there would have to start over. On islands to the north, the wind and rain snapped twigs and ripped off leaves but a few lizards remained, they reported in the first of several papers about hurricanes ( Science , 31 July 1998, p. [695][3]). The work challenged a widespread assumption that extreme events such as hurricanes do not drive evolution because they are rare and have random, unpredictable impacts on plants and animals. The Losos group discovered instead that storms can be agents of natural selection. For example, in 2017 Losos's postdoc Colin Donihue; functional morphologist Anthony Herrel, now with the French national research agency CNRS at the National Museum of Natural History; and colleagues visited two cays in the Turks and Caicos to measure the body proportions of the anoles living there. Four days after they left, two almost back-to-back hurricanes hit the area with winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour. When the team returned a few weeks later and remeasured the lizards, they found that the survivors tended to have bigger toepads, longer forelimbs, and shorter hindlimbs. Back in the lab, the researchers tested how these traits affect the lizards' ability to hold onto a perch. In a strong wind, anoles hang on with their forelimbs, but they lose their grip with the hind legs. Cranking up an air-blower, the researchers found that those with longer hind legs (and more surface area for the wind to catch) got blown off their perches onto a padded surface more readily. Conversely, animals with shorter hind limbs and bigger toepads hung on. The hurricanes had apparently selected for those traits, the team reported in 2018. The following year, they found that offspring of the survivors also had big toepads, suggesting the adaptation was genetic and not just a reaction to holding on tight. The team has since measured toepad size in 188 lizard species across the Caribbean. The more hurricanes an island has experienced, the bigger the toepads of the lizards living there, they reported on 27 April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Hurricanes seem to have had a long-term evolutionary effect. LOSOS HAD BEEN A PROFESSOR at WashU for 13 years when Harvard came calling in 2005, seeking to recruit him to its evolutionary biology department. A St. Louis native and a hardcore St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, he hesitated. He even did a yearlong sabbatical at Harvard before finally accepting, in large part because the position included a curatorship at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. “That was the one thing St. Louis didn't have,” he recalls. There, he continued to build on a reputation for being a kind, enthusiastic mentor. “I have seen him give high school students the same attention and respect that he gives his closest colleagues,” says Melissa Kemp, a former postdoc now at the University of Texas, Austin. “He seems to always be focused on his work, but he also has a whimsical sense of fun at the same time,” says Michele Johnson, a former student and an evolutionary biologist at Trinity University. Losos sports a watch with an anole he photographed as its face and is not above lecturing undergraduates while dressed as a platypus—one of his favorite animals since childhood. Those traits and a firm belief that “there is no one-size-fits-all in terms of how to interact with and mentor students” have helped Losos launch the careers of 59 graduate students and postdocs. They include at least eight Black, Latino, and Native American scholars, in a field that lacks diversity. (Although 3% of U.S. biologists are African American or Black, for example, only 0.3% of evolutionary biologists are.) Ambika Kamath, now a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, says Losos backed her completely when her studies challenged the long-held idea that male lizards hold territories to corral their mates. She argued instead that females move around and play a role in mate choice. “It would have been much harder for me to do that work without his excitement,” she recalls. Losos worked hard with her to get the paper just right and was eager to be a co-author. “Otherwise it would have just been the work of this young brown woman who could have easily been dismissed as an angry feminist.” Kamath and other students praise Losos for pushing them intellectually without undermining their confidence. Harmon jokes that Losos would never dismiss an idea from his students, no matter how wacky. Instead, he would just pause and say “interesting.” “Eventually I figured out that maybe I should think things through a bit more, if Jonathan thought they were ‘interesting,’” Harmon says. LOSOS AND HIS TEAM keep testing their ideas about ecology and evolution on Caribbean islands. In one recent project, Robert Pringle, now at Princeton University, and Losos tested a key principle in ecology—that introducing a top predator tends to increase biodiversity. The researchers added a predatory ground-dwelling lizard to islands with brown and green anoles. To escape this new threat, the brown anoles began to hang out higher in the foliage, displacing the green anoles that normally lived there and driving them toward extinction. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the predator appeared to be pushing the islands toward lower biodiversity, they reported on 5 June in Nature . Another recent study, led by one of Losos's former postdocs, examined the impacts of an invasive anole species on Dominica. Until 20 years ago, the island was home to a single anole species. Then a lumber shipment introduced a second species that is gradually spreading. To study how the native and invader species interact, behavioral ecologist Claire Dufour, now at the University of Montpellier, used robotic lizards as stand-ins for the invader. The robots did pushups and extended a flap of fake skin under the chin, mimicking the aggressive displays of real lizards. In response, native lizards familiar with the invaders postured more aggressively, suggesting the invaders are forcing the natives to expend more energy defending their territory, the group reported on 27 March in the Journal of Animal Ecology . “Our biggest conclusion is that the species do compete and have negative consequences on each other,” Losos says. ![Figure][4] Evolution's stamp on island-dwelling lizards On islands in and around the Caribbean, 173 species of anole lizards face an array of different environments, predators, and competitors, along with periodic storms. The result is a laboratory of evolution, where scientists have been able to track the speed and course of adaptation. GRAPHIC: V. ALTOUNIAN/ SCIENCE Even as his group continues to churn out papers, Losos is assessing what he has learned so far. In his book Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution , published in 2017, he challenged a major contention of one of the field's great thinkers, Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard paleontologist who argued that chance plays such a big role in determining nature's course that evolution would never take the same path twice. Anoles offer evidence to the contrary, Losos wrote: In similar habitats, they have repeatedly evolved similar body shapes, sizes, and behavior. The book was written for the general public, but it made an impression even on his peers. “I've been studying evolution for 30-plus years, and this book made me rethink some things I thought I knew about biology and evolution,” says Christopher Austin, an evolutionary biologist and herpetology curator at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science. Losos left Harvard in 2018, lured by a new job at WashU and the prospect of returning to his hometown, his cats, and his wife, who has a successful real estate career and did not follow him to Massachusetts. He now heads the Living Earth Collaborative, a biodiversity research initiative that unites experts at the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Zoo, and WashU. He is working on a book about evolution in the house cat, another of his favorite species. And he is still dodging hurricanes. Losos and colleagues have been trying to assess the long-term evolutionary impacts of predatory lizards they've introduced to some islands in the Bahamas. “I don't know if we will ever get there,” he says. Every few years a hurricane comes through and blows the evolving lizards away. [1]: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/279/5359/2115 [2]: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6097/904 [3]: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/281/5377/695 [4]: pending:yes


News at a glance

Science

SCI COMMUN### Conservation A company seeking to build a controversial gold and copper mine in Alaska won a major victory on 24 July when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an environmental analysis saying the mine wouldn't endanger the world's most productive sockeye salmon fishery. The decision clears the way for the Corps to issue permits needed by promoters of the Pebble Mine, located at the headwaters of two major watersheds that form part of the Bristol Bay salmon runs, just north of the Aleutian Islands. Environmental and Native Alaskan groups and some salmon scientists blasted the new study, saying it understated risks by focusing on the mine's small, initial footprint over 20 years of mining rather than its potential impacts if it expands to become one of the world's largest gold and copper mines, as its promoters hope. Mine backers have said such an expansion would get a closer environmental review later if they pursue it. Scientists have raised concerns that even the smaller mine could have wide impacts, because the resilience of the salmon runs hinges on access to a wide variety of spawning habitats. Environmental groups have vowed to file lawsuits to block the project. 90% —Accuracy of a new artificial intelligence system trained to identify individual weaver birds, which human birders generally cannot tell apart unless they are tagged ( Methods in Ecology and Evolution ). ### Planetary science China's first independent mission to Mars blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on 23 July. To arrive in February 2021, Tianwen-1, a “quest for heavenly truth,” comprises an orbiter, lander, and rover. Only the United States and the Soviet Union have successfully landed on Mars. Instruments on the three Tianwen-1 craft will study the planet's magnetic field and atmosphere, map its surface, and characterize its geology. Tianwen-1 is the second in a trio of fresh martian missions: The United Arab Emirates launched its Hope orbiter on 19 July, and NASA planned to launch its Perseverance rover as early as 30 July, after Science went to press. ### Funding A bill in France would increase research spending over the next 10 years and add tenure-track faculty positions, a novelty in France. But critics say the plan's increases would be too small and slow. By 2030, the annual public research budget would rise by about one-third, to €20 billion, toward a goal of lifting overall R&D spending from 2.2% of gross domestic product to 3%. The National Research Agency, which funds researchers through competitive calls, would get €1 billion more over 7 years, reaching about €1.7 billion in 2027, to help raise its grant success rates from 16% to a target of 30%. The new, nonpermanent tenure-track positions would complement the permanent entry-level research positions traditionally offered by the French system, but critics fear the growth may lead to a decline in the permanent ones. Parliament is expected to approve the bill. ### Drug trials A monoclonal antibody given to babies has strongly protected them from severe disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a leading cause of infant death. As reported this week in The New England Journal of Medicine , a placebo-controlled study of nearly 1500 babies born preterm—who are at higher risk of severe symptoms of RSV—in 23 countries found that a single injection of the antibody before RSV season starts in the fall led to 78.4% fewer hospitalizations for lower respiratory infections associated with the disease. The antibody, being developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi Pasteur, could replace one now on the market that is rarely used. (It is recommended only for infants at highest risk, requires five shots, and is very expensive.) The companies plan to seek regulatory approval of the new prophylaxis if larger studies now underway in preterm and full-term infants confirm that it is safe and effective. ### Graduate studies The American Astronomical Society last week launched the Astronomy Genealogy Project, which maps 5000 astronomers to their academic “descendants”—the 28,000 doctorate recipients they supervised. The discipline's family tree, at astrogen.aas.org, stretches back to 1766, but half of the listed doctorates were awarded since 2002. Organizers hope the data will help historians and sociologists of science analyze patterns across countries, universities, and subfields. U.S. universities awarded slightly more than half of the doctorates listed, and about two-thirds of the theses are online. ### Climate Environmental groups last week denounced as weak a plan announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. The new standard would match an existing one adopted in 2016 by a U.N. body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), that required emissions cuts by 2028. But recently manufactured planes already meet the standard, and EPA conceded its new rule would not reduce overall airplane emissions. Manufacturers have supported such a U.S. regulation to help them meet ICAO certification requirements. IACO has predicted that even under its standard, airplane emissions will grow by at least 3% a year globally. U.S. aviation accounts for 3% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. ### Extreme life Bacteria from seafloor sediments buried 101 million years ago have been grown in the lab, raising the possibility they are as old as their muddy home. They had somehow survived in an area of the Pacific Ocean almost devoid of organic matter or other nutrients most bacteria need, although the sediments recovered do contain oxygen, the researchers report in Nature Communications . The finding pushes back the documented age of bacteria living in marine sediment from 15 million years and provides new insights on the limits of life under extreme conditions. A team led by researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology harvested the microbes from core samples drilled up to 5700 meters below sea level and took precautions against contaminating them with modern bacteria. The group argues the microbes likely didn't have enough food to keep replicating, and instead may have survived for eons without dividing by repairing age-related cellular damage. The microbes identified are known members of more than eight bacterial groups, many of which are commonly found elsewhere on Earth. ### Biotechnology Scientists announced last week that they used CRISPR gene editing to modify a cow embryo so that the resulting calf, named Cosmo, should produce more offspring bearing male traits. Bulls are 15% more efficient than cows at converting feed into weight gain, so the new method may allow cattle farmers to raise fewer cattle, benefiting the environment, say the researchers at the University of California, Davis. The researchers inserted a gene called SRY , which initiates male development and is normally found on the male sex chromosome, into an embryo's chromosome 17. Next, the researchers plan to determine whether Cosmo's offspring that inherit the SRY gene look and grow like males. Fifty percent of the calf's progeny will naturally be male; another 25% will be genetically female but will carry the SRY gene. ### Conservation Florida's governor this month signed a bill to establish a 162,000-hectare marine sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico and protect one of the state's last remaining stretches of seagrass. Florida's coast boasts the most continuous expanse of seagrass beds in the United States, but these diverse habitats, home to blue crabs and manatees, have been damaged by nutrient-driven algal blooms and boat propellers. Authorities plan to create a management plan for the new Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve to balance protection with ecotourism, boating, and fishing. ### A magic ride for science In 1984, artist Bruce Degen met writer Joanna Cole at a publisher's office in New York City to discuss creating a children's book about science. They went on to collaborate and publish 13 colorful, zany books in The Magic School Bus series, featuring the ebullient, intrepid teacher Ms. Frizzle (above, right), who takes her students on fantastic adventures into the ocean, across the Solar System, and through the human body, for example. Cole died on 12 July at age 75. But the series continues to teach young readers and their parents about the natural world. > Q: Did you expect to create such a legacy? > A: I was in art school doing very serious art, and I realized that, in my heart of hearts, I wanted to do children's books. In the beginning, it was darn hard work. Some book sketch dummies have five layers of rewrites and reillustrations. The first book was a one-book contract to see if this would work. [The reception] was like the world was waiting for somebody to make this happen. People say, “[As a child,] I [used to] read these books, now I read them to my kids!” I could never have imagined it. > Q: Does scientific accuracy get in the way of storytelling? > A: Frequently. You have to tell kids what is true, but you can't give them all the truth—it's too much. For example, the evolution book goes from now [back] to the beginning of the Earth. I [initially] tried to show every era, year, and life form. It was too complicated. So it ended up as a nice, open spiral with a few representations of each era. > Q: Why use the format of adventures? > A: By following the story, it gave kids a mental filing system—they could retrieve and remember information because it was given to them in a memorable trip. ### Dispatches from the pandemic Read additional Science coverage of the pandemic at [sciencemag.org/tags/coronavirus][1]. #### U.S. vaccine efficacy trials begin The first large-scale efficacy trials of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States began last week. On 27 July, the National Institutes of Health, working with Moderna, announced the start of one that aims to recruit 30,000 people. Later that day, a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech announced separately it was launching a similarly sized study at sites in the United States and elsewhere. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines contain messenger RNA that prompts cells to make a protein that studs the surface of the COVID-19 virus. If the vaccines work, this viral protein will safely teach the immune system how to battle the virus if a person later is exposed to it. Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's push to accelerate development of a COVID-19 vaccine, has committed nearly $3 billion to these two R&D projects, about half its total investment. Other efficacy trials of various COVID-19 vaccines have begun in Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Results are expected in late fall at the earliest. #### CDC slammed over school rules Guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week for safely reopening schools downplays risks that teachers, other staff members, and students will spread or contract COVID-19, many public health specialists say. Provoking claims that CDC's advice had been politicized, the agency revised an earlier draft that President Donald Trump had panned as “very tough and expensive.” The nonbinding recommendations, released 23 July, emphasize the social and developmental benefits of in-person schooling and highlight that young children are at low risk for contracting the disease and transmitting the virus that causes it. The document also recommends against screening students for symptoms. Nevertheless, the Trump administration did advise communities with high infection rates to consider not beginning in-person classes. Large school districts, such as those in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego, have already announced that they will begin the 2020–21 school year with online instruction only. #### Anti-Fauci TV segment canceled Following heavy criticism from scientists and others, Sinclair Broadcast Corp. this week canceled plans for its chain of local TV stations to air a segment featuring widely challenged accusations that Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, intentionally created the virus responsible for COVID-19 and sent it to China. Fauci has helped lead the U.S. effort to control the pandemic despite tangling with President Donald Trump. The allegation came from Judy Mikovits, a virologist and antivaccine activist who appears in a documentary about the coronavirus that was also widely debunked as false and misleading (). The Sinclair segment, a new interview with Mikovits, was available online until the company pulled it for review on 25 July, after Media Matters reported its existence. Sinclair announced on 27 July that it would not air the segment on the nearly 200 TV stations it owns or operates in 89 U.S. markets—but not before one in Charleston, West Virginia, had broadcast it. [1]: http://sciencemag.org/tags/coronavirus


Can Artificial Intelligence Lead to Personalized Macular Edema Treatment?

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Using automated spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, researchers found the presence of subretinal fluid (SRF) in individuals with diabetic macular edema (DME) is associated with lower baseline best-corrected visual acuity. The findings of this retrospective study suggest automated quantification of intraretinal fluid and SRF may be an objective approach to assess DME treatment. Using automated spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT), researchers found the presence of subretinal fluid (SRF) in individuals with diabetic macular edema (DME) is associated with lower baseline best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA). However, the results, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, also show SRF is associated with good response to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy. The findings of the retrospective study suggest automated quantification of intraretinal fluid (IRF) and SRF may be an objective approach to assess DME treatment.


Arm your Cybersecurity systems with Artificial Intelligence - SOC Defense

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Cybersecurity threats and cases are increasing manifold. A study by the University of Maryland showed that a hacker attacks every 39 seconds. Imagine the number of attacks you might face in a year. The reason why these threats are increasing at an alarming rate is the inability of the traditional systems to handle large volumes of data. We have created vast volumes of data, but we do not have proper systems to keep it safe.


NIST study finds that masks defeat most facial recognition algorithms

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In a report published today by the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST), a physical sciences laboratory and non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, researchers attempted to evaluate the performance of facial recognition algorithms on faces partially covered by protective masks. They report that the 89 commercial facial recognition algorithms from Panasonic, Canon, Tencent, and others they tested had error rates between 5% and 50% in matching digitally applied masks with photos of the same person without a mask. "With the arrival of the pandemic, we need to understand how face recognition technology deals with masked faces," Mei Ngan, a NIST computer scientist and a coauthor of the report, said in a statement. "We have begun by focusing on how an algorithm developed before the pandemic might be affected by subjects wearing face masks. Later this summer, we plan to test the accuracy of algorithms that were intentionally developed with masked faces in mind."