Posts tagged with "Futurism"

Down the hatch: We’re ingesting a staggering amount of plastic per week

April 4, 2022

The more experts learn about microplastics and their impact on human bodies, the less good news we get. Just this week researchers at the Medical University of Vienna published a new study in the journal, Exposure and Health, that summarizes all the current knowledge about micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs), and how they end up in our guts.

Spoiler alert : It’s almost 100,000 particles per year, if you drink from plastic bottles, reports Futurism.

MNPs are small, but they aren’t all the same. According to a press blurb about the study published on the school’s website, microplastics are 0.001 to 5 millimeters in size and can sometimes be invisible to the naked eye, while nanoplastics are defined as being less than 0.001 millimeters in size.

Thus, people who drink the recommended daily 50 ounces of water from plastic bottles ingest almost 90,000 plastic particles every year. Depending on where they live, people who drink tap water could reduce that by as much as 50,000 fewer particles—or about half.

Professor and study co-author Lukas Kenner told the university’s press office that there’s no shortage of ill effects from consuming microplastics, but that it’s even worse for people who already struggle with chronic disease.

“A healthy gut is more likely to ward off the health risk,” Kenner said in the blurb. “But local changes in the gastrointestinal tract, such as those present in chronic disease or even negative stress, could make them susceptible to the harmful effects of MNPs.”

The team believes that addressing global plastic consumption is necessary, but complicated. The health care industry uses plastic so much because it’s safer and more sterile in surgical and hospital environments. Protheses, examination gloves, sterile syringes, adhesive bandage strips, blood bags and tubes, and heart valves are all made with plastic.

Exactly where the most prevalent types of MNPs come from, how much plastic is excreted later by the body, how doctors can track them in bodies, and whether there are natural processes that could digest plastic are all top concerns for the authors.

Research contact: @futurism

If there’s any light in your room when you sleep, this research might worry you

March 23, 2022

Like to snooze with a nightlight? Or maybe you leave the television on while you’re asleep? Well, you might want to reconsider—because a new study suggests that leaving the light on while you sleep is actually very detrimental to your body, reports Futurism.

Scientists at Northwestern Medicine have discovered that even a small amount of light can impact your cardiovascular function while you sleep and increase insulin resistance when you wake up, according to a press release from the school.

That puts you at risk for higher blood pressure and even diabetes all because of light. 

“The results from this study demonstrate that just a single night of exposure to moderate room lighting during sleep can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation, which are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of Sleep Medicine at the Northwestern University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, which is published in  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s important for people to avoid or minimize the amount of light exposure during sleep,” Zee added.

Heart rate typically drops at night while we sleep and rises in the morning when we get exposed to sunlight and our sympathetic nervous system is activated, according to the release. However, the same effect can occur when we’re exposed to light during sleep.

“Even though you are asleep, your autonomic nervous system is activated. That’s bad,” Dr. Daniela Grimaldi, research assistant professor of Neurology at Northwestern and co-author of the study, said in the release. “Usually, your heart rate together with other cardiovascular parameters are lower at night and higher during the day.”

The study also found that folks who are exposed to light while they sleep can show signs of insulin resistance when they wake up. This can result in your body not being able to use glucose in your bloodstream for energy—causing the pancreas to send more insulin to the body to compensate, which can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes .

So, the next time you go to sleep at night, be sure to turn off all the lights and switch off the television. Better yet, invest in a sleep mask. Your body will thank you for it.

Research contact: @futurism

‘Catellite’ dishes: Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet dishes are attracting cats

January 4, 2022

Looks like SpaceX’s StarlinkElon Musk’s bid to establish his space company as a heavyweight Internet service provider using constellations of satellites—is attracting four-legged fans on planet Earth, reports Futurism.

Indeed, the platform’s receiver dishes are attracting local cats on cold days. In a recent Starlink customer’s tweet, we counted at least five cats cuddled up on one of the dishes—apparently to stay warm and take advantage of the heat it produces.

“Starlink works great until the cats find out that the dish gives off a little heat on cold days,” Twitter user Aaron Taylor tweeted on New Year’s Eve.

Starlink is SpaceX’s internet service that uses orbital satellites, some of which recently kicked off an international incident after the Chinese space station had to swerve out of their way — but there may be no avoiding the cute, terrestrial feline infestation as long as the dishes aren’t in use.

One Reddit user said that, in the working position, Starlink dishes aren’t flat, or parallel to the ground, so they shouldn’t make good cat beds. However, when it’s not running, the angle allows small animals to fit snugly on top.

It’s possible the dishes also attract other small critters at its various angles, and one Reddit user even went so far as to use thermal imaging to determine why animals may congregate around their dish.

“I was checking my dish with a thermal sight and it actually looks like the whole dish, even the back side is warm,” he reported. “So you might [see] animals under or around it in general if it’s ground mounted.”

Other users expressed concerns that birds perched on the rim of the dish might drop messes, potentially presenting performance issues. It’s unclear if the intruders cause service interruptions, in part because the non-working position is apparently what allows them to, ahem, fit and sit.

In the past, however, publications, including The Verge, have poorly reviewed the Internet provider, so even if reports of animals sitting on dishes abound, it would take thorough investigation to figure out whether they’re the actual cause of any problem.

Research contact: @futurism

Party hearty: Non-alcoholic ‘euphoric beverages’ claim to let you socially lubricate without booze

October 19, 2021

If you’re tired of turning to alcohol to loosen up while socializing, there is a new alternative: Euphoric beverages, like those from Kin Euphorics—co-founded by supermodel and activist Bella Hadid and Jen Batchelor—claim to be non-alcoholic drinks that can enhance your mood without getting you drunk.

Perhaps more importantly, they allow you to socially lubricate without giving you a hangover the next morning, reports Futurism.

Along with Kin Spritz, High Rhode, and Dream Light, the Kin Euphorics line of beverages now also includes  Kin Lightwave. The flavor of Kin Lightwave combines lavender-vanilla, birch, and smoked sea salts into what the company calls “a refreshing and tasty rainbow.”

Bu, the founders recently told Futurism , the flavor is far from the only reason to enjoy Lightwave. Its euphoric properties come from its active ingredients of Reishi Mushroom, Saffron, L-Tryptophan. While responses to Kin euphorics differ, some of the most commonly reported sensations include a sense of calm, clearer thinking, and better social connections.

The main ingredients all come down to adaptogens, nootropics, and botanics.

Reishi Mushroom and Passionflower are adaptogens that boost your adrenal system and give your body more balanced and healthy stress responses.

Lightwave’s nootropics are L-Theanine, L-Serine, L-Tryptophan, and Magnesium Glycinate— which come together to give your brain a much needed boost, the company claims.

Then, there are botanics like Lavender Extract, Cinnamon, Saffron, and Gentian Root, which, Kin Euphorics notes, give the beverage flavor and aroma as well as a feeling of calm and relaxation, plus a handy boost to your body’s immune system.

Inside each can of Kin Lightwave you’re likely to find a sense of calm, a boost to your brainpower, and better, clearer social interactions. That, plus its one-of-a-kind flavor, means you’ll probably want to enjoy one or two more. But Kin recommends you hold yourself to four cans of Lightwave at most in a 24-hour period.

If you’re interested in non-alcoholic Kin Lightwave, you can order a pack of eight cans for $30, or save a little by purchasing a 16-pack for $56. And you can save even more and have it shipped for free by going for a monthly subscription.

Research contact: @kineuphorics

Fire? Flood? Tornado? An all-in-one survival kit is designed to protect a family of four for 72 hours

October 8, 2021

Last year, if there was one thing most of us thought about a lot more than normal, it was survival. The pandemic turned out to be a wake-up call—demonstrating that everything can go south in a matter of days, if not hours, reports Futurism.

As a result, panic buying and hoarding—and photos of empty store shelves—began to appear in the news. And now that things have calmed down (relatively speaking), more people than ever have learned that, when it comes to disaster preparedness, you can’t wait until a disaster strikes.

But, now a New York city-based private company called Judy Kits, founded in 2019 by CEO Simon Huck, is marketing a variety of survival kits and products, such as portable power stations and survival go-bags, depending on your needs and circumstances.

Judy works by providing four levels of kits in addition to content—The Starter ($60), The Mover ($150), The Mover Max ($180), and The Safe ($250)—which are filled with items one may need in an emergency, including First Aid, Warmth, Safety, Food, Water and Tools. Once a Judy kit is registered, a customer receives safety-tips and advice through text communication. Customers can also text real-time emergency questions to Judy for real-time guidance, Forbes reports.

If you want to be prepared for nearly any disaster, the company suggests that The Mover Max could be just what you need. The Mover Max is described on the Judy Kit website as “a versatile, all-in-one kit that is ready to support up to four people for 72 hours.”

The company has packed a whopping 53 survival essentials into a waterproof, easy-to-transport backpack—among them:

  • Tools and first aid: The first section of the backpack includes a variety of essential tools, such as a 3-in-1 radio, charger, and flashlight, duct tape, multitool, biohazard bag, pocket tissues, and hand sanitizers.
  • Food and water: The second section contains 7 food bars and 14 water bottles—each of them boasting a five-year shelf life.
  • Safety and warmth: The backpack also contains a poncho, dust masks, gloves, a couple of emergency whistles, and more.

All of the tools are orange, so that they can be easily located in difficult environments.

“We aim to create a safety movement that empowers people with the tools, resources, and community to be prepared for the unexpected,” Huck said.

Among expert reviewers contacted by Business Insider, Thomas Coyne, a former Helitack firefighter and the founder of Coyne Survival Schools, said, “Getting a starter kit is better than nothing, but I still recommend building your own.”

Personalized kits would include medications, paperwork, and other individual and family necessities. It’s also worth mentioning that he suggested having at least 30 days’ worth of supplies.

Research contact: @futurism

Who let the dogs out? A smart GPS dog collar could prevent your pooch from becoming a statistic

March 9, 2021

Has your dog hightailed it? If you haven’t seen Fido in a dog’s age—and you are beginning to worry that he (or she) has gotten out of the house, or wandered off, there’s now an easy way to locate your pooch.

It’s called the Fi Smart Dog Collar—and, combined with a dedicated app and base stations, it tracks your pet’s exact location using GPS; as well as the number of steps that he or she takes in a day, reports Futurism.

Indeed, the American Humane Association estimates that 1 out of 3 household pets becomes lost at some point, and nearly 10 million pets are lost or stolen in the United States every single year. Thus, it may be worth $149, the price of the new smart collar, to save the tears, time, and money involved in locating your pet.

The Fi Smart Dog Collar uses the AT&T network to locate your dog when he or she is out of the house alone—or has gone to a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-based safe zone, which, according to Trail and Kale, would typically include:

  • Your home, where your dog’s Fi Collar base station should be plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi;
  • In proximity to you—or more specifically, within Bluetooth range of your phone; or
  • As needed, additional base locations (such as your office, or dog sitter/parents’ home), and the phones of other trusted people, such as your dog walker, friend, spouse, or child.

If your dog is near one of your designated owners/walkers when out of the house, you can get notified via app notification and/or text message when Fido leaves the safe (home) zone for a walk with that person, Futurism notes.

However, if you receive a message that “Fido just left home” and you know your dog should not be out on a walk; then this may be the trigger you need to set off the Lost Dog Mode and start tracking your pooch immediately. (Note: you need to have a Fi subscription so that your Fi Smart Dog Collar acts as its own cell phone, to enable the Fi collar to be tracked using phone signal for GPS, when your dog is not with an owner. The subscription costs $99/year, or $8.25/month.)

Lost Dog Mode also activates a red pulsing light on your dog’s Fi collar to help make them easier to spot in the dark, and sends a location notification to you every minute so you can track them down. When in Lost Dog Mode, the battery life of the Fi collar is up to two days, as it’s using GPS signals to refresh the location status every minute, which consumes a lot more battery juice than regular use.

According to the manufacturer, the collar is “chew-proof, waterproof (even the ocean), and generally dog-proof.” To date, there is no Fi collar for cats. The current collars are too big to fit a cat’s neck.

Research contact: @futurism

Fashionistas mock SpaceX’s ‘half-finished Power Ranger’ space suit

June 2, 2020

On Saturday afternoon, May 30, in a first for U.S. private industry, SpaceX, launched a pair of NASA astronauts into the thermosphere—about 200 to 240 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The Elon Musk-led space company put on a big show. Clad in futuristic space suits courtesy of SpaceX, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley got the red carpet treatment as they made their way to a NASA logo-adorned Tesla Model X that drove them to the historic launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

However, Futurism reports, while the technology was flawless—and the flight docked without a hitch with the International Space Station on Sunday— the astronauts weren’t properly dressed for the occasion, according to fashion mavens.

“A boxy white top with minor detailing, paired with boxy white pants with minor detailing?” GQ Contributing Writer Tyler Watamanuk wrote in a recent article for the men’s lifestyle magazine—condemning SpaceX’s design choices.

This is the International Space Station, not Everlane!” Watamanuk added, pointing out that “in some ways, the design feels deliberately trend-adverse, paying no mind to contemporary style or even the larger world of design.”

“It looks like car upholstery,” Gizmodo staff reporter Whitney Kimball wrote in a post that Futurism picked up. “It looks like Tron. It looks like a half-finished Power Ranger. It looks like a Tesla-sponsored NASCAR tracksuit.”

Other fashionistas were kinder to the design.

“Actually, what the SpaceX suits evoke most of all is James Bond’s tuxedo if it were redesigned by Tony Stark as an upgrade for [‘Star Trek’ captain] James T. Kirk’s next big adventure,” Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic for The New York Times, wrote in a Thursday commentary piece.

“They do not have the dangling hoses, knobs, and wires of the traditional suits,” she added.

According to Futurism, the suit’s designer is Jose Fernandez, a Hollywood costume veteran who worked on movies including “The Avengers” and “Batman v Superman.” The flashy design was reverse-engineered to meet space travel requirements—not the other way around.

But speaking of dangling hoses and knobs, NASA’s own take for its upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon looks strikingly different. The agency’s Orion Crew Survival System suit features a traffic pylon-orange design with NASA-blue trim.

The boots look like a pair of futuristic Adidas. The helmet evokes the Apollo missions. And the gloves could basically be worn snowboarding, from a purely aesthetic point of view, Futurism notes. It’s liquid cooled, custom-fitted to each astronaut, and features a survival kit including a life preserver, rescue knife, flashlight, whistle, and light sticks.

In short, the Orion design is  a freakin’ space suit that’s ready for anything. Function takes precedence over form; it was designed to look like a space suit—not a tuxedo.

Research contact: @futurism

From fantastical to familiar: Elon Musk portends new products—and Metaculus takes heed

January 15, 2019

Elon Musk is visionary and a pioneer. He is known for making bold predictions—and then, for going on to invent, design, and produce exactly what he has portended. In doing so, since 2002, he has become either the founder or co-founder of a slew of futuristic companies, from Neuralink to SpaceX to Tesla.

Hence, when Musk anticipates or forecasts a new development, most of us sit up and take notice—and if we are even smarter, we take notes.

For example, back in April 2017, Musk said that, by 2021, his brain-computer interface company Neuralink would release a viable product for treating brain injuries. Two years before that, he predicted that the electronic vehicle manufacturer Tesla would eventually grow as big as Apple—a company that was then worth $700 billion.

Now, to help us all keep track of one of one of his biggest claims, a website called Metaculus—built by a community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events by aggregating the collective wisdom, insight, and intelligence of its participants—has created an interactive timeline that tracks all of Musk’s predictions for the future.

According to the website Futurism, among the predictions already filed away by the Metaculus team: Musk’s hunch that we all live in a simulation; his conjecture that there’s a 70% likelihood that he’ll move to Mars; and his prophesy that SpaceX will shuttle a million colonists to Mars by 2120.

In the site’s new Musk timeline, Metaculus also includes predictions that are relevant to Musk’s companies. For instance, only 17% of Metaculus voters agree that we live in a simulation. And unfortunately for Musk, the community that thinks there’s only a 7% chance that Tesla will become the world’s largest car manufacturer by 2035.

So far, Futurism reports, the Metaculus community has been correct nine times and incorrect three times about predictions related to Musk; and the validity of another 13 predictions has yet to be determined.

The community voted that there was only a 3% chance that Musk would be sanctioned for tweeting about taking Tesla private, while his tweet actually prompted two federal investigations. The Metaculus community also incorrectly guessed that SpaceX would land a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge by March 2016 and that Tesla would not be profitable in Q3 of 2018.

However, the community was right on the nose when it found a 9% probability that Elon Musk’s boy-sized submarines would prove useful in that whole cave rescue debacle.

Overall, Musk is more optimistic about the future of technology than the Metaculus community. For instance, Musk thinks there will one million Martian colonists by 2120. Metaculus voters say there’s just a 43% chance that humans will sustain any sort of “off-world presence” by 2100.

But you have got to dream it, before you do it, right? And with his boundless imagination and worldwide following, we would bet on Musk to help us live the dream.

Research contact: @DanRobitzski

Reach for the sky: Help scientists craft a message to aliens

October 31, 2018

Who’s out there? Humans aren’t just searching for extraterrestrials using radiotelescopes and exoplanet research. We also are actively attempting to help aliens find us. And, according to an October 30 report by Futurism, we all can be part of that effort.

About 44 years ago, Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory—a  facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by the University of Central Florida—sent a message to a star cluster roughly 21,000 light years away.

The so-called Arecibo Message—transmitted via radio signal—marked humanity’s first deliberate attempt to draw the attention of extraterrestrials, and now the observatory is asking the world to help it write an updated message to aliens.

American astronomer Frank Drake wrote the first Arecibo Message with the help of colleague Carl Sagan and others, and there’s no word yet on how the observatory thinks we might be able to improve upon a message crafted by some of the most brilliant minds in science.

The original message comprised 1,679 binary digits that conveyed a wealth of information about life on Earth—including the elements that comprise DNA, the location of our planet within the solar system, and the basic dimensions of the average human. When converted into graphics, the message looks something like the world’s weirdest game of Tetris, Futurism said.

Now, the observatory has sent out a press release to kick off a weeklong celebration —from October 28 through November 3—of its 55th year in operation; and, at some point during the week, it will reveal more details on what it’s calling “the #NewAreciboMessage global challenge.”

If you have ever wanted to communicate with aliens, this is your chance. But there is one major caveat, according to the Futurism story: Should we even be reaching out at all?  There’s no telling who our message might reach, and the reaction to our epistle  could be less-than-friendly. With that in mind, optimists only should apply.

Research contact:

A sunscreen ban in Hawaii could protect coral reefs

May 10, 2018

Hawaii, America’s “state of bliss,” has had more than its share of natural disasters recently. Floods on Kauai, spouting lava and lethal gas on the Big Island, and a series of earthquakes there, too, all have hit the headlines within the past month. And now comes news that the coral reefs are dying due to an excess of sunscreen dissolving in the open sea, just beyond those pristine beaches.

It turns out that the chemicals we use to keep our skin safe are noxious to the coral reefs—and the amount of sunscreen entering into and contaminating the oceans is far from negligible. According to one 2015 estimate, some 14,000 tons of sunscreen assault the world’s coral reefs every year.

The good news, Futurism reports, is that Hawaii’s lawmakers are stepping in to help.

On May 1, the Hawaii State Legislature passed a bill that would ban the sale of sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Research has shown that these chemicals are toxic to coral, and can promote viral infections that cause coral bleaching—even in small doses.

The bill now goes to the desk of Hawaii Governor David Ige (D), who has 45 days to sign it. He has not yet indicated whether he will. But if he does, this bill would be the first of its kind in the world. It would take effect on January 1, 2021.

While a sunscreen ban indeed doesn’t do much to combat the serious impacts of polluted, warming, and acidifying oceans on reefs, it absolutely could make a difference, Futurism reports. Reefs are more sensitive to the impacts of these larger changes when they’re stressed, and the research evidence so far suggests that chemicals in sunscreen can at least act as a serious stressor.

It is no surprise that sunscreen manufacturers are opposed to the bill. . In August, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group,  released a statement claiming that other factors, such as climate change, were a more significant factor than sunscreen for reef decline.

Finally the new ban would not eliminate sunscreens altogether; there are lots of brands that don’t use oxybenzone and octinoxate but still provide good protection from the summer sun.

Research contact: @cm_geib