Shutdown confusion in California and Los Angeles. Again

Here we go again.

The tightened pandemic restrictions that we knew were coming hit this week — the third lockdown this year and, if we are lucky to have widespread vaccine availability, distribution and acceptance next year, the final one of this pandemic — as state and local officials introduced new strategies to curb an unprecedented surge of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths before hospitals are overwhelmed.

There has been no shortage of griping. Are the restrictions too strict, or not strict enough? The formula used by the state and all the exemptions in the order by the county and city of Los Angeles are confusing and capricious. Where are the data that indicate it’s safe to keep schools open — but not playgrounds? Why can we mix with strangers in the grocery store but not have dinner with a friend on the patio?

Some of the criticism is absolutely

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Despite development slowdown, the state’s life science industry keeps on building

From the industry’s traditional hub in Cambridge’s Kendall Square to emerging hot spots in Fort Point and the Fenway to vast campuses in more distant locations such as the former Fort Devens, life science companies are launching a wide array of projects, fueled by investors attracted to a fast-growing industry.

“There’s just tremendous interest in investing in these sort of projects,” said John Bonnano, chief investment officer at IQHQ, a real estate firm that’s launching two major life science developments here, and earlier this month closed on a $1.7 billion fund to finance more in Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego. “There’s an awful lot of capital out there right now.”

It’s chasing a market that has only become stronger relative to other real estate sectors. Traditional office tenants now occupy about 3 million fewer square feet of space across Greater Boston than they did at the start of the

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The Uncertain Impact of Accelerating Science

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the biggest mobilization of scientific effort in a generation. Scientists from fields as diverse as immunology and computer science quickly pivoted to studying drivers of the epidemic and potential countermeasures. More than 54,000 articles relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been published in academic journals in the biomedical and life sciences to date.

This scientific surge is astounding and inspiring, but it has produced some ethical dilemmas. The urgency of the crisis has led to a proliferation of studies, some of which short-circuit the most rigorous scientific standards. Results often get disseminated to the public before they’ve been reviewed by experts, which can lead to a situation in which doctors, politicians and others advocate unproven cures.

BALANCING SPEED AND RIGOR

The gold standard for scientific learning is the randomized, controlled trial (RCT), in which a group of participants is randomly assigned to receive either the

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Flaws in the reparations bill

The bill has been a useful placeholder for three decades. Now is an opportune time to ensure that it can become an effective vehicle for true reparations.

Unfortunately, the bill, as last revised in 2017, gives the proposed commission complete discretion over the content of the reparations proposal it reports to Congress. This increases the possibility that it will fail to deliver justice. More than 30 years after this bill was introduced, we have learned a great deal about how best to structure a plan for Black reparations. If a Congressional commission on reparations is established, it should be directed to produce a plan that meets what we now know are essential requirements.

The “40” in the bill’s title is a nod to the 40-acre land grant each emancipated household was promised at the end of the Civil War. That promise was unfulfilled. In contrast, from 1862 to 1938 over

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6 Ways the Coronavirus Pandemic Changed Science

This article appeared in Discover’s annual state of science issue as “The Virus That Changed Science.” Support our science journalism by becoming a subscriber.


In March, labs around the world went dark. Experiments stopped, specimens were frozen and research timelines shifted into the unknown. By the time labs began reopening, a new mode of science had emerged. It only took a microscopic virus to bring macro-level changes — some good, some bad and many with no signs of turning back.

1. Faster

The technology of the 21st century has allowed science to move forward virtually — and rapidly. The latest COVID-19 findings are shared online at warp speed, and media reports are delivered straight to smartphones in the palm of our hands. While this barrage of research fosters speedy discoveries, some scientists are concerned about the consequences of too much haste. In May, Jonathan Kimmelman, a bioethicist at McGill

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‘Minor Premise’ Review: A Minor Entry in the Sci-Fi Genre

Science fiction films that explore big what-ifs always come with a catch. In Eric Schultz’s debut feature, “Minor Premise,” that catch is addressed five minutes in. A neuroscientist named Ethan (Sathya Sridharan) attempts to emerge from the shadow of his late father — also a neuroscientist — with his own breakthrough in the study of consciousness, by altering the subject’s memory to create a more ideal self. “Isn’t that, like, unethical?” one of his students asks. It is, if not unethical, at least a dense concept, one the film is constantly defeated by.

Ethan retreats to his basement and turns to himself as a test subject. Predictably, things go very wrong: His consciousness splits into ten different personalities, some more aggressive and uncooperative than others, appearing for six minutes an hour. Those cycles fill out this lean thriller but make it repetitive and tedious. Ethan’s colleague and estranged girlfriend Alli

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WH Press Sec McEnany Says Trump ‘Followed the Science,’ Works Hard on COVID Response ‘Behind the Scenes’

When asked on Wednesday about President Donald Trump’s recent lack of public comments on the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Trump has been working “behind the scenes” and that his previous actions demonstrate that he has “followed the science” on the virus.

“He’s hard at work at this with the task force behind the scenes,” McEnany said, touted Trump’s advocation of reopening schools as proof that Trump has “followed the science”, especially as more medical experts have supported reopening schools as well.

“The President’s followed the science,” McEnany said. “He’s also kept in mind we have a constitution, and he will be unashamed and always advocating for the science in the best interest of the children of this country.”

 Kayleigh McEnany Donald Trump science behind COVID-19
In a Wednesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that President Donald Trump has always followed the science on COVID-19 and is
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Why I invert the camera controls in video games: Empathy

Science is finally studying the beautiful minds of inverted gamers. Dr. Jennifer Corbett is the co-head of Brunel University’s Visual Perception and Attention Lab in London, and she’s planning to study people who invert the Y or X axis when controlling a camera in a video game, according to a report from The Guardian. Her team wants to understand why some people want the camera to look up when they press down on a joystick.

But I already know why I do this — it’s about how I empathize with the characters and world in a game.

OK — it’s not exactly true to say that Corbett and her researchers want to understand “why people invert their controls.” Instead, the study is more about determining how different people process visual information. And learning more about this topic can have far-reaching consequences.

“Understanding these sorts of individual differences can help us

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In the Ancient American Southwest, Turkeys Were Friends, Not Food | Smart News

A blanket made by early 13th-century Indigenous peoples in what is now the southwestern United States featured more than 11,000 turkey feathers woven into almost 200 yards of yucca fiber, new research shows. The findings—published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports—shed light on farming practices among the ancestral Puebloans, forebears of modern Hopi, Zuni and Rio Grande Pueblo nations, reports Jennifer Ouellette for Ars Technica.

The researchers say the region’s people began to switch from blankets made of rabbit skin strips to turkey-feather designs during the first two centuries A.D.

“As ancestral Pueblo farming populations flourished, many thousands of feather blankets would likely have been in circulation at any one time,” says co-author Shannon Tushingham, an anthropologist at Washington State University (WSU), in a statement. “It is likely that every member of an ancestral Pueblo community, from infants to adults, possessed one.”

Though the region’s early inhabitants

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Elephants found to have the highest volume of daily water loss ever recorded in a land animal

African elephant
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from Duke University, the University of the Witwatersrand and Hunter College has found that elephants have the highest volume of daily water loss ever recorded in a land animal. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes experiments they conducted with captive elephants to measure how much water they lose.


Many animals, such as humans, keep cool in hot weather by perspiring—as sweat evaporates, the skin is cooled down. Other animals, such as dogs, keep cool by panting—and still others, such as elephants, have large organs that work as a cooling system—their ears keep them cool when it is hot. Elephants have sweat glands, as well, but they are small and located in their feet, near their cuticles. Elephants are also known to drink an enormous amount of water—hundreds of liters every day. Such huge

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