Medicine

Price-gouging Maker of EpiPen Literally Said That Critics Can Go Fuck Themselves (gizmodo.com) 459

Back in August of 2016, the pharmaceutical company Mylan came under fire for jacking up prices of the EpiPen from $57 in 2007 to roughly $600 in 2016. The public backlash has been significant. Gizmodo adds: But the chairman of Mylan has a message for any critics: Go fuck yourself. Well, at least that's what we think he said. The New York Times has a new article about the fact that prices for the live-saving allergy medication haven't actually come down since last year. And the article has a rather strange way of describing the attitude of Mylan chairman Robert Coury. This is how the New York Times describes Coury's reaction to critics of Mylan's price gouging: "Mr. Coury replied that he was untroubled. He raised both his middle fingers and explained, using colorful language, that anyone criticizing Mylan, including its employees, ought to go copulate with themselves. Critics in Congress and on Wall Street, he said, should do the same. And regulators at the Food and Drug Administration? They, too, deserved a round of anatomically challenging self-fulfillment."
Space

Astronomers Discover Alien World Hotter Than Most Stars (vanderbilt.edu) 59

Science_afficionado writes: An international team of astronomers has discovered a planet like Jupiter zipping around its host star every day and a half, boiling at temperatures hotter than most stars and sporting a giant, glowing gas tail like a comet. From a report via Vanderbilt University: "With a day-side temperature peaking at 4,600 Kelvin (more than 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit), the newly discovered exoplanet, designated KELT-9b, is hotter than most stars and only 1,200 Kelvin (about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than our own sun. In fact, the ultraviolet radiation from the star it orbits is so brutal that the planet may be literally evaporating away under the intense glare, producing a glowing gas tail. The super-heated planet has other unusual features as well. For instance, it's a gas giant 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter but only half as dense, because the extreme radiation from its host star has caused its atmosphere to puff up like a balloon. Because it is tidally locked to its star -- as the moon is to Earth -- the day side of the planet is perpetually bombarded by stellar radiation and, as a result, it is so hot that molecules such as water, carbon dioxide and methane can't form there." The findings have been published in the journal Nature.
Medicine

Dozens of Recent Clinical Trials May Contain Wrong or Falsified Data, Claims Study (theguardian.com) 66

John Carlisle, a consultant anesthetist at Torbay Hospital, used statistical tools to conduct a review of thousands of papers published in leading medical journals. While a vast majority of the clinical trials he reviewed were accurate, 90 of the 5,067 published trials had underlying patterns that were unlikely to appear by chance in a credible dataset. The Guardian reports: The tool works by comparing the baseline data, such as the height, sex, weight and blood pressure of trial participants, to known distributions of these variables in a random sample of the populations. If the baseline data differs significantly from expectation, this could be a sign of errors or data tampering on the part of the researcher, since if datasets have been fabricated they are unlikely to have the right pattern of random variation. In the case of Japanese scientist, Yoshitaka Fuji, the detection of such anomalies triggered an investigation that concluded more than 100 of his papers had been entirely fabricated. The latest study identified 90 trials that had skewed baseline statistics, 43 of which with measurements that had about a one in a quadrillion probability of occurring by chance. The review includes a full list of the trials in question, allowing Carlisle's methods to be checked but also potentially exposing the authors to criticism. Previous large scale studies of erroneous results have avoided singling out authors. Relevant journal editors were informed last month, and the editors of the six anesthesiology journals named in the study said they plan to approach the authors of the trials in question, and raised the prospect of triggering in-depth investigations in cases that could not be explained.
Businesses

Silicon Valley Is Too Focused On Taking the Easy Path in Health Care (cnbc.com) 135

Silicon Valley investors are increasingly looking at health space, but they are mostly eyeing for opportunities on the fringes of the traditional health care system to avoid long and complicated regulatory cycles, an analysis on CNBC shows. As a result of this, these start-ups will not help low-income and chronically ill patients who need innovation most. From the article: Founders often talk about about how challenging it can be to break into the multi-trillion dollar medical sector. Health care startups face regulatory hurdles, long sales cycles and a high burden of proof -- and that means it can take more than a decade to make a return. As a result, many venture-backed entrepreneurs are looking instead at opportunities on the fringes of the health care system, such as cash-only health services that don't require insurance or tests and apps that aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For tech investors, these opportunities hold the chance of an outsized return in five years or less. That often valuations on par with consumer Internet start-ups. [...] Many entrepreneurs acknowledge this, but justify their approach by promising to focus on more at-risk groups once they've nailed the product.
Mars

A Lake On Mars May Once Have Teemed With Life (theverge.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes The Verge: Once upon a time on Mars, there was a crater that had a massive lake that may have hosted life. Now researchers are saying that a whole variety of organisms could have flourished there. Sure, that life was probably just microbial, but this is another exciting step toward understanding just how habitable Mars may have been around 3.5 billion years ago. Petrified mud that was once at the bottom of the lake suggests that, at the time, the lake had different chemical environments that could have hosted different types of microbes.

The rocks also show that the Red Planet's climate may have been more dynamic than we thought, going from cold and dry to warm and wet, before eventually drying out. We still don't know whether life once existed on Mars when the planet was warmer and had liquid water. But today's findings, published in Science, give a much more nuanced and detailed picture of what this area of Mars could have looked like through time... "The lake had all the right stuff for microbial life to live in," says study co-author Joel Hurowitz, a geochemist and planetary scientist at Stony Brook University.

NASA's Curiosity rover spent three and a half years collecting data from the crater, and that data now suggests that a habitable environment existed there for at least tens of thousands of years -- and possibly as long as "tens of millions of years."
NASA

NASA Will Create Fake Red And Green Clouds Near Virginia (cnn.com) 83

"We have scrubbed today, June 4, due to clouds," NASA tweeted hours before sunrise on Sunday, adding later that "The next launch attempt for the Terrier-Improved Malemute is no earlier than June 11 pending range availability." So they're still waiting for the right weather to launch a very unique experiment. An anonymous reader quotes CNET: The early morning hours on the U.S. East Coast might be unusually colorful as NASA plans to produce artificial blue-green and red clouds that may be visible from New York to North Carolina... It's a test of a new system that helps scientists study the auroras and ionosphere. A NASA sounding rocket (a small, sub-orbital rocket often used in research) will launch from Wallops Flight Facility off the coast of Virginia and release several soda-sized canisters of vapor tracers in the upper atmosphere that may appear as colorful clouds. The tracers use vapors made up of lithium, barium and tri-methyl aluminum that react with other elements in the atmosphere to glow, letting researchers visually track the flows of ionized and neutral particles. It's a bit like being able to dye the wind or ocean currents to be able to get a visual picture.
When NASA does perform its launch, CNN adds that "If you're near the eastern U.S. coast, look toward the eastern horizon. The farther you are from the launch location, the lower the clouds will appear on the horizon." Basically, try to adjust your gaze towards Virginia's eastern shore -- and if you're not on the east coast, NASA will be livestreaming the launch and posting updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Updated to reflect new mission status.
Transportation

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Unveils World's Biggest Plane (seattletimes.com) 147

Frosty Piss quotes a report from The Seattle Times: The huge Stratolaunch finally rolled out of its hangar in Mojave, Calif., Wednesday for the first time. Built by Paul Allen's Scaled Composites, the twin hulled monster will go through months of ground tests before a first flight. Jean Floyd, chief executive at Stratolaunch Systems, said in a statement that the empty airplane, powered by six used 747 engines, weighs approximately 500,000 pounds. The jet will have a three-person crew: pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer in the flight deck of the starboard fuselage, while the port fuselage cockpit is empty and unpressurized. Stratolaunch is intended to carry a rocket slung beneath the central part of the wing, between the two fuselages, and release it at 35,000 feet. The concept is that the rocket will then launch into space and deliver satellites into orbit.
Science

Scientists Decipher the Neural Code For Faces (scientificamerican.com) 35

New submitter akakaak writes: In a new paper published in Cell, researchers Le Chang and Doris Tsao claim to have uncovered "The Code for Facial Identity in the Primate Brain." They develop a model representing each face as a vector in a 50-dimensional "face-space," and show that the firing rate for each face-sensitive neuron represents the location along a single axis through this space. This allows them to accurately predict the appearance of a viewed face from the collective recorded activity of the neurons. This work is a major advance in the decoding of complex neural representations, and refutes exemplar-based models of face recognition. Further reading: Scientific American
Power

'Instantly Rechargeable' Battery Could Change the Future of Electric Cars (sciencedaily.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: A technology developed by Purdue researchers could provide an "instantly rechargeable" method that is safe, affordable and environmentally friendly for recharging electric and hybrid vehicle batteries through a quick and easy process similar to refueling a car at a gas station. John Cushman, Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary science and a professor of mathematics, presented the research findings "Redox reactions in immiscible-fluids in porous media -- membraneless battery applications" at the recent International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Cushman co-founded Ifbattery LLC (IF-battery) to further develop and commercialize the technology. "Designing and building enough of these recharging stations requires massive infrastructure development, which means the energy distribution and storage system is being rebuilt at tremendous cost to accommodate the need for continual local battery recharge," said Eric Nauman, co-founder of Ifbattery and a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, basic medical sciences and biomedical engineering. "Ifbattery is developing an energy storage system that would enable drivers to fill up their electric or hybrid vehicles with fluid electrolytes to re-energize spent battery fluids much like refueling their gas tanks." Mike Mueterthies, Purdue doctoral teaching and research assistant in physics and the third co-founder of Ifbattery, said the flow battery system makes the Ifbattery system unique. "Other flow batteries exist, but we are the first to remove membranes which reduces costs and extends battery life," Mueterthies said. Ifbattery's membrane-free battery demonstrates other benefits as well. "Membrane fouling can limit the number of recharge cycles and is a known contributor to many battery fires," Cushman said. "Ifbattery's components are safe enough to be stored in a family home, are stable enough to meet major production and distribution requirements and are cost effective." For the visual learners, Purdue Research Park has uploaded a video about Ifbattery's "instantly rechargeable" method.
Government

Trump Misunderstood MIT Climate Research, University Officials Say (reuters.com) 361

MIT officials said U.S. President Donald Trump badly misunderstood their research when he cited it on Thursday to justify withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. From a report: Trump announced during a speech at the White House Rose Garden that he had decided to pull out of the landmark climate deal, in part because it would not reduce global temperatures fast enough to have a significant impact. "Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100," Trump said. "Tiny, tiny amount." That claim was attributed to research conducted by MIT, according to White House documents seen by Reuters. The Cambridge, Massaschusetts-based research university published a study in April 2016 titled "How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?" showing that if countries abided by their pledges in the deal, global warming would slow by between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. "We certainly do not support the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement," said Erwan Monier, a lead researcher at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and one of the study's authors. "If we don't do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic," said John Reilly, the co-director of the program, adding that MIT's scientists had had no contact with the White House and were not offered a chance to explain their work.
Medicine

Anti-Aging Start-Up Is Charging Thousands of Dollars for Teen Blood (vanityfair.com) 243

An anonymous reader writes: A startup called Ambrosia is charging about $8,000 a pop for blood transfusions from people under 25, Jesse Karmazin said at Code Conference. Ambrosia, which buys its blood from blood banks, now has about 100 paying customers. Some are Silicon Valley technologists, like Thiel, though Karmazin stressed that tech types aren't Ambrosia's only clients, and that anyone over 35 is eligible for its transfusions. Karmazin was inspired to found Ambrosia after seeing studies researchers had done involving sewing mice together with their veins conjoined. Some aspects of aging, one 2013 study found, could be reversed when older mice get blood from younger ones, but other researchers haven't been able to replicate these results, and the benefits of parabiosis in humans remains unclear. "I think the animal and retrospective data is compelling, and I want this treatment to be available to people," Karmazin told the MIT Technology Review.
Space

Take-Two Acquires Kerbal Space Program 85

Eloking quotes a report from Polygon: Take-Two Interactive has purchased physics-based space simulation Kerbal Space Program, according to announcements from publisher Take-Two and developer Squad. "We have been impressed with Kerbal Space Program since its launch, and we are committed to grow this unique experience while continuing to support its passionate community," said Michael Worosz, senior vice president, head of corporate development and independent publishing at Take-Two, in a release. "We view Kerbal Space Program as a new, long-term franchise that adds a well-respected and beloved IP to Take-Two's portfolio as we continue to explore opportunities across the independent development landscape." Kerbal Space Program officially launched on PC in 2015. The game had been available through Steam's Early Access program since 2013. It has since gone on to sell more than 2 million copies on console and PC. Developer Squad said in a statement that the acquisition won't alter its plan for continued development of Kerbal Space Program. The developer is currently working on the Making History Expansion for the game.
Space

Third Gravitational Wave Detected From Black-Hole Merger 3 Billion Light Years Away (bbc.com) 83

sycodon quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: may be paywalled; alternate source): Astronomers said Thursday that they had felt space-time vibrations known as gravitational waves from the merger of a pair of mammoth black holes resulting in a pit of infinitely deep darkness weighing as much as 49 suns, some 3 billion light-years from here. This is the third black-hole smashup that astronomers have detected since they started keeping watch on the cosmos back in September 2015, with LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. All of them are more massive than the black holes that astronomers had previously identified as the remnants of dead stars. The latest detection was made at 10:11 GMT on January 4, and is described in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters. "The analysis suggests the two black holes that coalesced had starting masses that were just over 31 times and 19 times that of our Sun," reports BBC. "And when they finally came together, they produced a single object of a little under 49 solar masses. It means the unison radiated a simply colossal quantity of pure energy."
AI

IBM Says Watson Health's AI Is Getting Really Good at Diagnosing Cancer (fastcompany.com) 51

An anonymous reader shares a report: In deciding on cancer treatment, doctors often get together in a "tumor board" to go over the options. IBM's Watson now sits in on those meetings in a few hospitals, such as in South Korea and India -- and it generally makes the same calls that a human expert would. So says IBM in a series of studies it's presenting this weekend at the ASCO cancer treatment conference in Chicago. "It's not making a diagnosis. That's not what we set out to do," says Andrew Norden of IBM's Watson Health division. "They will run Watson Oncology in a tumor board and sort of get another external opinion." Watson's "concordance rate" -- the degree to which it agrees with human doctors -- ranged from 73% to 96%, depending on the type of cancer (such as colon cancer) and the particular hospital where the study was done (in India, South Korea, and Thailand).
NASA

A NASA Spacecraft Will Head Straight For the Sun -- Farther Than Any Probe Before It (abc.net.au) 78

A US spacecraft will swoop inside the Sun's corona, its superheated outer atmosphere, on a pathfinding mission to learn more about how stars work. Nasa's $1.5bn Parker Solar Probe, which will be protected by a shield that can withstand temperatures of 1,400C, will journey within 6m km of the Sun's surface, seven times closer than any previous spacecraft. From a report: Set to kick off next July, the plan is to plunge the Parker Solar Probe into the Sun's corona -- the hazy bit you can see around the edges of the Sun during a total solar eclipse -- to study this phenomenon. The car-sized spacecraft will get closer to the Sun than any other mission ever has. Travelling at the dizzying speed of more than 720,000 kilometres per hour, the probe will eventually come within less than 6.4 million kilometres of the Sun's surface. We've been studying the Sun for thousands of years, and even though we now have remote sensing observatories and spacecraft that examine it in spectacular detail, many questions still remain. The two big ones are: 1. Why is the corona on the outside of the Sun at least 300 times hotter than the surface? 2. Why does the solar wind speed up?
United States

Trump Announces US Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord (reuters.com) 1109

It's official. President Donald Trump announced today that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, following through on a pledge he made during the presidential campaign. Trump said the Paris agreement "front loads costs on American people. In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States," the president said. "We are getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great." Trump said that the United States will immediately "cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord" and what he said were "draconian financial" and other burdens imposed on the country by the accord.

This means that Elon Musk will leave Trump's Business Advisory Council. On Wednesday, Musk said he did "all he could to advise directly to Trump." (Update: Elon Musk is staying true to his words. Following the announcement, Musk tweeted, "Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.)

Twenty-five companies, including Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce, Morgan Stanley, Intel signed on to a letter which was published on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal today arguing in favor of climate pact.

Update: Former president Barack Obama said the U.S. "joins a small handful of nations that reject the future."

Also, the New York Times points out that despite Trump's public statements, the U.S. can't officially leave the Paris climate agreement until 2020.
United States

The US Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History (nytimes.com) 465

Justin Gillis, and Nadja Popovich, writing for The New York Times: The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet. "In cumulative terms, we certainly own this problem more than anybody else does," said David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California, San Diego. Many argue that this obligates the United States to take ambitious action to slow global warming. Against that backdrop, factions in the Trump administration are engaged in a heated debate over whether to remain a party to the 195-nation agreement on climate change reached in Paris in 2015. President Trump promised on Wednesday to announce his decision at 3 p.m Thursday in the White House Rose Garden. A decision to walk away from the accord would be a momentous setback, in practical and political terms, for the effort to address climate change. Several news outlets, citing people in the administration, reported on Wednesday that the US is likely to pull out of the agreement.
Space

SpaceX To Refly a Dragon Cargo Spacecraft (arstechnica.com) 41

Thelasko writes: Tomorrow's scheduled resupply mission to the International Space Station will mark the second time its Dragon capsule has visited the station. Ars Technica reports: "This particular Dragon spacecraft was sent to the International Space Station in September 2014, and it delivered nearly 2.5 tons of cargo to the orbiting laboratory. The Dragon returned to Earth about a month later, splashing down into the ocean. It is not clear how much processing SpaceX has had to undertake to ready the spacecraft for its second flight to the station, nor has the company released a cost estimate. It also had to manufacture a new 'trunk,' the unpressurized rear section of the vehicle, and solar panels."
The Courts

Oregon Man Fined For Writing 'I Am An Engineer' Temporarily Wins Right To Call Himself An 'Engineer' (vice.com) 369

Mats Jarlstrom, an electrical engineer fined by the Oregon engineering board for calling himself an "engineer" and talking about traffic lights, has been granted the temporary right by a judge to both publicly call himself an "engineer" and talk about traffic lights. Jason Koebler reports via Motherboard: Last month, Jarlstrom sued the engineering board for violating his First Amendment rights, and Tuesday a federal judge gave Jarlstrom the temporary right to call himself an engineer, pending the results of his case. "Plaintiff Jarlstrom may study, communicate publicly about, and communicate privately his theories relating to traffic lights throughout the pendency of this litigation as long as [his] communications occur outside the context of a paid employment or contractual relationship," Anna Brown, a federal district court judge for the district of Oregon, ordered. He "may describe himself publicly and privately using the word 'engineer' throughout the pendency of this litigation." Jarlstrom's attorneys say this is a promising sign and a "critical first step in protecting Oregonians' First Amendment rights."
Government

Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal (bloomberg.com) 304

Billionaire Elon Musk said on Wednesday he would leave President Trump's Business Advisory Council if the White House withdraws from an international agreement aimed at curbing climate change. From a report: The appeals from chief executives such as Tesla's Musk, Tim Cook of Apple and Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris come as Trump's advisers also present him with closing arguments on the potential risks and rewards of remaining a party to the global pact. Trump also got an earful from foreign leaders and Pope Francis urging him to stay in the agreement during his first international trip as president. Cook placed a call to the White House on Tuesday to urge the president to keep the U.S. in the agreement, according to a person familiar with the move. Liveris was the driving force behind a letter from 30 major company executives backing the deal. And Musk tweeted Wednesday that he has "done all I can to advise directly to" Trump. If the U.S. leaves Paris, Musk said he would drop participation in White House advisory councils. [...] Twenty-five companies, including Intel, Microsoft and PG&E, have signed on to a letter set to run as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday arguing in favor of climate pact.

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