You Don't Need Single-Use Plastic Bags. You Need a Mask

You Don't Need Single-Use Plastic Bags. You Need a Mask

Its economics are supposedly simple: A company has to make more money on the resulting recycled material than what it costs to gather plastic waste and process it.So it’s more tempting than ever to just pump out more virgin plastic and let the recycling industry languish.

Covid-19 Is Accelerating Human Transformation—Let’s Not Waste It

Covid-19 Is Accelerating Human Transformation—Let’s Not Waste It

This devastating pandemic, with all its worldwide chaos and horror, has at the same time created a perfect alignment of technology, science, need, and opportunity.

In Lockdown, Mathematicians Crack a Stubborn Geometry Riddle

In Lockdown, Mathematicians Crack a Stubborn Geometry Riddle

The problem Greene and Lobb worked on predicts, basically, that every such path contains sets of four points that form the vertices of rectangles of any desired proportion.But again, the problem Greene and Lobb solved involves curves that are smooth, and therefore continuous.

Astronomers Track a Fast Radio Burst to Its Source—a Magnetar

Astronomers Track a Fast Radio Burst to Its Source—a Magnetar

Unlike CHIME, which looks at small chunks of the sky at any given time, Caltech’s Survey for Transient Astronomical Radio Emission 2 (STARE2) telescope observes the entire sky at once, which allowed the Caltech team to quickly confirm that the burst was extremely powerful.

Georgia’s Failure Shows How Not to Run an Election in the Pandemic

Georgia’s Failure Shows How Not to Run an Election in the Pandemic

Here’s how in-person voting should look during the coronavirus pandemic: lots of polling places, fully staffed with well-protected election workers, each serving small numbers of voters who are able to quickly get in and out without having to congregate at length in close quarters.

The Ocean-Sized Problem That Nobody Is Talking About

The Ocean-Sized Problem That Nobody Is Talking About

It might surprise you to know that in the United States there are several hundred cities that intentionally discharge untreated, raw sewage into their coastal waters whenever their sewer systems are overwhelmed with stormwater.

Zoom's End-to-End Encryption Will Be for Paying Customers Only

Zoom's End-to-End Encryption Will Be for Paying Customers Only

"Free users for sure we don’t want to give that," Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said in a company earnings call on Tuesday referring to end-to-end encryption, "because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.".

Twitter Finally Fact-Checked Trump. It’s a Bit of a Mess

Twitter Finally Fact-Checked Trump. It’s a Bit of a Mess

Take one of the three bullet points in the top “What you need to know” section: “Though Trump targeted California, mail-in ballots are already used in some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska.” This statement is itself misleading.

Let's Rebuild the Broken Meat Industry—Without Animals

Let's Rebuild the Broken Meat Industry—Without Animals

In a full page ad in The New York Times, the CEO of Tyson Foods warned that the “food supply chain is breaking.” In response, the government has rushed in to save the industry, with President Donald Trump enacting the Defense Production Act to keep slaughterhouses running, deeming them critical infrastructure.

This Pandemic Is Lonely. But Don't Call Loneliness an ‘Epidemic’

This Pandemic Is Lonely. But Don't Call Loneliness an ‘Epidemic’

“When the language of loneliness emerged around about 1800, before then people did use the word lonely, but they meant being alone,” Alberti says.

Africa's Huge Locust Swarms Are Growing at the Worst Time

Africa's Huge Locust Swarms Are Growing at the Worst Time

Back in January, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicted the worst was still to come, and that by June, the size of the swarms could grow by a factor of 500.And now, at the worst time, a second wave of locusts 20 times bigger than the first has descended on the region, thanks to heavy rains late last month, according to the FAO.

A New, Plastic-Busting Enzyme Can Break Down Water Bottles

A New, Plastic-Busting Enzyme Can Break Down Water Bottles

For natural materials, breaking down isn't an issue, as microbes have evolved ways of digesting them to obtain energy or useful chemicals.The microbes that currently digest PET break down that ring as well, making them unsuitable for recycling.

How We Will All Solve the Climate Crisis

How We Will All Solve the Climate Crisis

Children who are now in booster seats, all around the world, are going to be inventing solutions to the crisis, and they'll need support, investment, and, yes, well-designed capitalism to get them off the ground.

A Wearable for Opioid Patients Gets Retooled for Covid-19

A Wearable for Opioid Patients Gets Retooled for Covid-19

Sick patients need their vitals recorded and their symptoms monitored, and staff needs to get updates if someone’s condition starts to worsen (from fever and cough to shortness of breath as blood oxygen levels fall).

Is it Ethical to Order Delivery During a Pandemic?

Is it Ethical to Order Delivery During a Pandemic?

When it comes to deliveries, services in the US are offering protections for customers like “contactless” drop-offs, where workers leave items for people to pick up.

Bald Eagles and the Unfortunate Power of Forgetting

Bald Eagles and the Unfortunate Power of Forgetting

Photo © David Hua /TNC Photo Contest 2019 Despite being named the national bird early in United States history, bald eagles were widely reviled and persecuted.I reply to questions about hope with a look at conservation history, with stories like the recovery of the bald eagle.

A Computer Science Proof Holds Answers for Math and Physics

A Computer Science Proof Holds Answers for Math and Physics

The computer scientists Henry Yuen, Thomas Vidick, Zhengfeng Ji, Anand Natarajan and John Wright co-authored a proof about verifying answers to computational problems and ended up solving major problems in math and quantum physics.

A Tiny Piece of Tape Tricked Teslas Into Speeding Up 50 MPH

A Tiny Piece of Tape Tricked Teslas Into Speeding Up 50 MPH

The worse news is that said data has since been discovered in an online hacking forum, as first reported by ZDNet. The haul includes names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and dates of birth, and celebrities, politicians, and journalists are among those affected.

The Iowa Caucus Meltdown, a Coronavirus Mask Shortage, and More News

The Iowa Caucus Meltdown, a Coronavirus Mask Shortage, and More News

As millions of Chinese remain in lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a new global problem has arisen: a shortage of surgical masks.And that isn't just a problem for China: The US gets 95 percent of its surgical masks from overseas, and China is the world's largest supplier.

The DOJ Is Finally Suing US Telecom Providers for Robocalls

The DOJ Is Finally Suing US Telecom Providers for Robocalls

The US Department of Justice has filed lawsuits (PDF and PDF) against two small telecommunications providers that have allegedly connected hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls from Indian call centers to US residents.

At Last, Physicists Confirm the Fastest Way to Board a Plane

At Last, Physicists Confirm the Fastest Way to Board a Plane

It's counter-intuitive, but it turns out that letting slower passengers board first actually results in a more efficient process and less time before takeoff, according to a new paper in Physical Review E.

Artificial Intelligence Makes Bad Medicine Even Worse

Artificial Intelligence Makes Bad Medicine Even Worse

Google researchers made headlines early this month for a study that claimed their artificial intelligence system could outperform human experts at finding breast cancers on mammograms.Machine-enabled healthcare may bring us many benefits in the years to come, but those will be contingent on the ways in which it’s used.

Water Scarcity Around the World: It’s about You and Me

Water Scarcity Around the World: It’s about You and Me

Long before climate change became recognized as one of the world’s major problems, water scarcity was widely recognized as a challenge for humanity.Unfortunately, the rise of awareness about the challenges of climate change had a perverse result when it came to the world working collectively to reduce global water scarcity.

Mathematician Terence Tao Cracks a ‘Dangerous’ Problem

Mathematician Terence Tao Cracks a ‘Dangerous’ Problem

Earlier this year one of the top mathematicians in the world dared to confront the problem—and came away with one of the most significant results on the Collatz conjecture in decades.On September 8, Terence Tao posted a proof showing that—at the very least—the Collatz conjecture is “almost” true for “almost” all numbers.

We're All 'P-Hacking' Now

We're All 'P-Hacking' Now

The p refers to the p-value, a ridiculously complicated statistical entity that’s essentially a measure of how surprising the results of a study would be if the effect you’re looking for wasn’t there.

146 New Vulnerabilities All Come Preinstalled on Android Phones

146 New Vulnerabilities All Come Preinstalled on Android Phones

“We wanted to understand how easy it is for someone to be able to penetrate the device without the user downloading an application,” says Kryptowire CEO Angelos Stavrou.

146 New Android Bugs, an Audio Porn Streaming Site, and More News

146 New Android Bugs, an Audio Porn Streaming Site, and More News

Android users are groaning and websites are moaning, but first: a cartoon about what to do with a broken laptop .Here's the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.146 new vulnerabilities all come preinstalled on Android phones.

How the Climate Crisis Is Killing Us, in 9 Alarming Charts

How the Climate Crisis Is Killing Us, in 9 Alarming Charts

“We have no idea what that looks like from a public health perspective, but we know it is catastrophic,” said Nick Watts, executive director of Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, during a press conference announcing the findings.

The Future of Banking Is … You're Broke

The Future of Banking Is … You're Broke

These neo-banks have been trying to make money in the usual ways: By taking a cut of credit or debit card transactions, collecting interest on consumer deposits, and making loans.

IBM Says Google’s Quantum Leap Was a Quantum Flop

IBM Says Google’s Quantum Leap Was a Quantum Flop

In 2017, after the company said it was closing in on the milestone, IBM researchers published results that appeared to move the goalposts.Soon, researchers from Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba, which has its own quantum computing program, released analysis claiming that the device could not do what Google said.