Scientists recently transplanted one snail's memory into another snail's brain, making the second snail think it remembered something that never happened to it.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that they could extract a part of a snail's genetic code and inject it into a second snail, changing the way the second animal acted, in an eNeuro study that sounds straight out of Black Mirror: Snail Edition.
Sea snails apparently have great long-term memories, so UCLA researchers were able to quickly train them to react negatively after giving them a small electric shock. The unfortunate snails who were shocked retracted their siphons for much longer than the snails who were new to the lab. The snails that developed the reflex in response to the zaps had essentially formed a memory of the experience in their nervous systems.
That memory was transferred via RNA molecules to the new snails, who hadn't yet learned to retract their siphons in anticipation of more shocks. After researchers moved the genetic material from a trained snail to a naive snail, the unsuspecting snail neurons immediately reacted to the zaps like seasoned pros, as if they remembered dealing with them before. The study doesn't mean we're anywhere close to being able to pass memories around at will, but researchers told BBC it was a huge step towards understanding more about memory development. Summer Meza
Do you ever put off laundry day by just buying more socks and underwear? If you do, Fruit of the Loom has a new delivery program right up your alley. You just have to plan ahead a bit.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that the 166-year-old undergarment company has a new subscription service called Fruit to Your Door that allows shoppers to buy packs of Fruit of the Loom products and create a schedule for repeated auto-deliveries at discounted rates. Fruit of the Loom is hardly alone with its underwear subscription service. Several startups — from Me Undies to Bootay Bag to Panty Drop — offer subscription services for men and women’s underwear. And it's not hard to see why Fruit of the Loom wants in on this growing part of the market. Warren Buffett bought Fruit of the Loom out of bankruptcy in 2002, but profits at the traditional company continue to lag.
For its part, Fruit of the Loom seems to understand the target delivery demographic pretty well — a spokesman for the company told Bloomberg, "You might see a lot of moms doing this for their kids in college." Kelly O'Meara Morales
Over the weekend, with Florida authorities ordering the evacuation of large swaths of the state, Tesla sent out software updates increasing the battery life, and thus the driving range, of some Model S sedans and Model X SUVs in evacuation zones. It is a temporary gift, expiring Sept. 16, but probably welcomed at the time by those drivers who needed to get out of dodge, or Miami Beach.
It raised a lot of questions, though, like: Tesla can do that?
The answer is yes. When you buy a Tesla, you have the option to pay more to unlock certain features, like full use of its 75-kilowatt-hour battery, The Washington Post explains. All Teslas are sold with the same battery. What Elon Musk and Co. did over the weekend was a free, temporary power boost for those drivers who didn't choose to pay for the upgrade. The fact that Tesla can do this, remotely, without warning or asking permission, is something new in car ownership. It would be like if Apple updated your iPhone without you doing anything, except much bigger, the Post's Brian Fung says:
This is a paradigm shift. When you buy any other car, you get its full capabilities. In many cases, though less so now than in decades past, you can open up the hood and tinker with everything yourself. This has historically been the way we've thought about buying a car. When you roll it off the lot, you get the whole thing, and you can basically do with it whatever you want. In Tesla's case, it's not quite the same. [The Washington Post]
If Tesla drivers don't mind the new model, it may be the future for car ownership. Peter Weber
A 3D-printing company called Apis Cor — tagline: "We print buildings" — demonstrated its large-scale 3D printer with the complete printing of a 400-square-foot tiny house in just 24 hours. The house was built in Russia for a total cost of $10,134, including electrical wiring, plumbing, and fixtures like windows and doors.
The studio-style home has a living space, kitchen, bathroom, and hallway, and Apis Cor says it will be functional for nearly 200 years. The company claims to be the first to develop a mobile printer that can construct entire buildings on-site; previously, printed buildings have been printed in pieces in a factory and assembled at a new location. Watch a clip of the printer in action below. Bonnie Kristian
Facebook is rolling out software Wednesday that scans users' posts to identify language indicating suicidal or harmful thoughts, BuzzFeed News reports. In cases where indicative language is found, the software alerts Facebook's community team for review and can send a message with suicide-prevention resources to the flagged user, including options such as contacting a helpline or a friend.
The decision to implement the software follows a number of suicides that have been broadcast on Facebook Live over the past several months. Facebook says its program is actually even better at recognizing the warning signs of suicide and self-harm than real people are. "The AI is actually more accurate than the reports that we get from people that are flagged as suicide and self-injury," product manager Vanessa Callison-Burchold told BuzzFeed News. "The people who have posted that content [that AI reports] are more likely to be sent resources of support versus people reporting to us."
Facebook is only alerted by its AI in situations that are "very likely to be urgent," Callison-Burchold added. Facebook has also made "suicide or self-injury" a more prominent option for users when reporting a post or video. "In suicide prevention, sometimes timing is everything," explained Dr. John Draper, a project director for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which has partnered with Facebook.
"There is this opportunity here for people to reach out and provide support for that person they're seeing, and for that person who is using [Facebook Live] to receive this support from their family and friends who may be watching," Facebook researcher Jennifer Guadagno told BuzzFeed News. "In this way, Live becomes a lifeline." Jeva Lange
This week, Dubai said that by July it plans to have a new airport shuttle system up and running that combines driverless taxis, quadcopter drones, and the flying cars that have been a staple of science fiction since the mid-20th century. The Ehang 184 passenger drones, made in China, will be able to transport one passenger and a small suitcase over Dubai's congested streets with the push of a button, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority promises. And the drones have already been tested around Dubai, authority director general Mattar Al Tayer tells The New York Times. This "is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies," he said. You can see the drones in action in this slick video from the transport authority:
Dubai is making a big push to adopt driverless technology, with its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, committing the emirate to a quarter of all journeys conducted by driverless vehicles by 2030. The eight-copter Ehang drones can travel up to 100 miles per hour, but Dubai said they will normally travel no more than 62 miles an hour, the Times reports, and if something goes wrong, they'll land as soon as is safe. Peter Weber
To everyone who feels cheated that we don't have flying cars yet, take heart: Uber Elevate could be coming soon.
To get there, Uber has hired former NASA aircraft engineer Mark Moore as its "director of engineering for aviation," Bloomberg Technology reported Monday. "I can't think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for this new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL market real," Moore said, using the acronym for "vertical takeoff and landing."
Bloomberg lays out the goal:
The company envisions people taking conventional Ubers from their homes to nearby "vertiports" that dot residential neighborhoods. Then they would zoom up into the air and across town to the vertiport closest to their offices. ("We don't need stinking bridges!" says Moore.) These air taxis will only need ranges of between 50 to 100 miles, and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft. [Bloomberg]
Nevertheless, Uber's work on physically constructing a flying car is still a thing of the future of the time being. Obstacles like price, noise pollution, and battery life all need to be addressed in the intervening years. They might be short years, though: Moore "predicts we'll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next one to three years and that there will be human pilots, at least managing the onboard computers, for the foreseeable future," Bloomberg reports. Jeva Lange
Welcome to 2017, everyone:
Beijing's subway ads offer a glorious glimpse of our dystopian future. pic.twitter.com/amM5NZx8fU
— David Ramli (@Davidramli) January 2, 2017
Beijing-based Bloomberg News technology journalist David Ramli tweeted the terrifying subway ad early Monday morning, as well as a link confirming the portable anti-haze air purifier is no parody.
Nothing about air pollution in China is a joke, in fact; smog could cause one in three deaths in certain parts of the nation, where it has a comparable impact on health as smoking cigarettes.
— Greenpeace East Asia (@GreenpeaceEAsia) December 20, 2016
The portable air purifiers come in orange, red, two shades of blue, as well as gray and classic black. You might want to pick yours out now — in 2016, the American Lung Association found that more than half of Americans live in places where air pollution is dangerously high. Jeva Lange