Dr. Mary Fowkes, 66, Dies; Helped Science Understand the Pandemic

Dr. Mary Fowkes, a neuropathologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan whose autopsies of Covid-19 victims early in the pandemic discovered serious damage in multiple organs — a finding that led to the successful use of higher doses of blood thinners to treat patients — died on Nov. 15 at her home in Katonah, N.Y., in Westchester County. She was 66.

Her daughter, Jackie Treatman, said the cause was a heart attack.

When Dr. Fowkes (rhymes with “pokes”) and her team began their autopsies, little was known about the novel coronavirus, which was believed to be largely a respiratory disease. The first few dozen autopsies revealed that Covid-19 affected the lungs and other vital organs, and that the virus probably traveled through the body in the endothelial cells, which line the interior of blood vessels.

“We saw very small and very microscopic blood clots in the lungs, the heart, the

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It’s Time For Tech To Help Us Understand What’s In The Food We Eat

Just trying to understand food and our food system. Co-Founder of TeakOrigin.

It’s never been easier to find information. Technological advancements have allowed us to quickly dig deep into just about everything we’re interested in, and advances in artificial intelligence and machine language have made information even faster. Yet with all this information available to us, we still can’t answer the most fundamental question of what is actually inside of the food we eat.

Informed Decisions

Data is available for virtually anything we tune our senses to. Apps tell us the names of the songs we can’t get out of our heads, show us the names of the constellations overhead and recognize millions of products just by barcode. Consumers have multitudes of information to help them make the best, most personal choice.

The supply chain has also become smarter with informational tools. Projects like the Organic Cotton Traceability Pilot

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AI helps scientists understand brain activity behind thoughts — ScienceDaily

A team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University has developed artificial intelligence (AI) models that help them better understand the brain computations that underlie thoughts. This is new, because until now there has been no method to measure thoughts. The researchers first developed a new model that can estimate thoughts by evaluating behavior, and then tested their model on a trained artificial brain where they found neural activity associated with those estimates of thoughts. The theoretical study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“For centuries, neuroscientists have studied how the brain works by relating brain activity to inputs and outputs. For instance, when studying the neuroscience of movement, scientists measure muscle movements as well as neuronal activity, and then relate those two measurements,” said corresponding author Dr. Xaq Pitkow, assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor and of electrical and computer engineering

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Breaking Down All Apple’s Tech Speak to Understand the M1

Illustration for article titled Breaking Down All of Apples Tech Speak to Understand the New M1 Chip

Screenshot: Apple

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally revealed the specs of its in-house custom ARM processor that will power future Macs—well, at least most of the important ones, like core count and number of transistors. Unfortunately, those specs don’t paint a complete picture of how the M1’s performance will actually compare to other laptop processors currently on the market today, especially without hard clock speed numbers. But there are a few things we can gleam from Apple’s event today, and the M1 is shaping up to be an interesting chip that could hold its own against Intel and AMD.

The M1 is a system-on-chip (SoC) processor, which means the CPU, GPU, and RAM are all contained on a single chip, just like Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake mobile processors and Apple’s A14 in its iPhone 12. This allows each component to communicate more efficiently for faster

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To Understand Gravity, Toss a Hard Drive into a Black Hole

We probably think we know gravity pretty well. After all, we have more conscious experience with this fundamental force than with any of the others (electromagnetism and the weak and strong nuclear forces). But even though physicists have been studying gravity for hundreds of years, it remains a source of mystery.

In our video Why Is Gravity Different? We explore why this force is so perplexing and why it remains difficult to understand how Einstein’s general theory of relativity (which covers gravity) fits together with quantum mechanics.

Gravity is extraordinarily weak and nearly impossible to study directly at the quantum level. We cannot scrutinize it using particle accelerators like we can with the other forces, so we need other ways to get at quantum gravity.

Enter black holes. In a paper in the early 1970s the late physicist Jacob Bekenstein investigated the question of what happens to entropy—a measure of

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A new mathematical front to understand species coexistence

A new mathematical front to understand species coexistence
How pairs make the whole. Credit: Erida Gjini

How biodiversity is generated and maintained are central questions in science, which are becoming increasingly important for our quality of life. How do similar species coexist in a system? Which ones will dominate or be excluded? Will the system succumb to invasion by outsiders? Can we predict these interactive dynamics in systems with many different species? Simulations and statistical approaches are typically adopted to answer these questions, but the limited predictions they offer prompted Erida Gjini, principal investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, in collaboration with Sten Madec, from the University of Tours, in France, to explore a deeper mathematical route and uncover the general rules that describe such systems.


The two researchers used the system of microbial transmission between hosts as the basis of their theoretical study. In this type of system, each species colonizing the host can alter the local

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Soylent Founder’s Unhinged Politics Rant Shows Tech Execs Don’t Understand the World

“I am so sick of politics. Politics are suddenly everywhere. I cannot avoid them.” Another 5,300 words follow these declarations, written by Soylent co-founder, former CEO, and current chairman Rob Rhinehart in a blog to explain why he is voting for Kanye West in the 2020 general election. 

The blog, which starts somewhat normal and becomes increasingly bizarre, is rife with conspiracy theories. At one point, he seemingly invents a conspiracy theory about former Vice President Joe Biden, who he professes at one point to have “never heard of until very recently.” 

“Did you know Biden threw innocent Guatemalans in jail because they did not give a government contract to his company Hunter Medical Devices?” he asks, with no hyperlinks or evidence. A Google search for “Hunter Medical Devices” turns up just three pages of results with no relevant hits aside from Rhinehart’s own blog. 

In the blog, Rhinehart describes

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New fault zone measurements could help us to understand subduction earthquakes — ScienceDaily

A research team from the University of Tsukuba has conducted detailed structural analyses of a fault zone located in central Japan, with the aim to help identify the specific conditions that lead to earthquake faulting, a hazard that can cause enormous social damage. Subduction is a geological process that takes place in areas where two tectonic plates meet, such as the Japan Trench, in which one plate moves under another and is forced to sink.

Regions in which this process occurs are known as subduction zones and the seismic activity that they produce causes devastating damage through ground shaking and tsunamis. However, understanding these seismic processes can be difficult because of the problems associated with taking measurements from their deepest sections, where much of the activity occurs.

“To overcome this problem, we examined fault rocks exhumed from source depths of subduction earthquakes, which are now exposed at the land surface

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This new ocean-mapping satellite will help us all understand the impacts of climate change

Examining coastal sea rise, tracking underwater ocean waves and adding to long-term data about climate change will be the main scientific return of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite mission, officials said in a press conference.



An artist's depiction of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in orbit around Earth.


© Provided by Space
An artist’s depiction of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in orbit around Earth.

The satellite is expected to launch Nov. 10 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. For now, spacecraft personnel expect SpaceX will be able to resolve a rocket gas generator issue that stopped a GPS satellite launch for the U.S. Air Force aboard another Falcon 9 on Oct. 2, Tim Dunn, launch director of NASA’s launch services program, said in a virtual press conference broadcast Oct. 16 on NASA Television.

“As of today we have a path forward that allows us to do any necessary rework that would be required

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Thirty books to help us understand the world in 2020 | Books

Michael E Mann on the environment

A distinguished climatologist and geophysicist, Michael Mann is director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications tagias well as four books, including 2012’s The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars and his forthcoming The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet, due out in January 2021 (Public Affairs Books).

For Small Creaturse Such As We by Sasha Sagan


For Small Creatures Such as We
Sasha Sagan (Murdoch Books, 2019)

Carl Sagan was arguably the greatest science communicator of our time. He inspired many – including me – to enter the world of science. He is sadly no longer with us. But his daughter, Sasha Sagan, honours his legacy in her wonderful new book. Drawing its title from a line taken from Carl’s novel Contact ( adapted into the 1997 feature film of the same

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