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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Amazon has sold more than 100 million Alexa devices – CNET

Holiday sales of the Echo Dot also exceeded Amazon’s expectations.
Source: CNET

Apple support phishing scams are getting really good – CNET

Be warned.
Source: CNET

Mazda's future styling will differ more from model to model, says Euro design boss – Roadshow

The small Japanese automaker says it wants to get away from so-called “Russian doll” styling, instead making each vehicle its own unique design statement.
Source: CNET

Netflix thriller Bird Box flutters into nonsense – CNET

Review: Not even Sandra Bullock can save this bizarre post-apocalyptic monster movie.
Source: CNET

Another day, another reversal in the stock market

Signs that the Federal Reserve could hold off on further interest rate hikes coupled with a booming jobs report sent stocks on Wall Street surging to close a volatile first trading week for the New Year.

After yesterday’s Apple-induced slide, and in the face of economic indicators that signaled a potential slowdown in global and domestic growth, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said that the central bank would be “patient” when it comes to raising interest rates.

That news, coupled with a strong jobs report, sent stocks rocketing up. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 746.9 points, or roughly 3.3 percent, while the Nasdaq shot up 4.3 percent, or 275.4 points.

It wasn’t just the Fed chairman’s observations about the potential for rate hikes in 2019 that had investors buying, but assurances about Powell’s job security in the face of increasing pressure from President Trump.

Speaking at a panel discussion of the American Economic Association alongside former Federal Reserve chairs Janet L. Yellen and Ben Bernanke, Powell said that he would not resign if asked by the president.

Immediately after Powell’s comments stocks began surging.

“With the muted inflation readings that we’ve seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves,” Powell was quoted as saying in The Washington Post. “We’re always prepared to shift the stance of policy and to shift it significantly if necessary.”


Source: TechCrunch

Disney+ streaming service: Release date, price, shows and movies to expect – CNET

Disney’s getting ready to give Netflix a run for its money. But will it be worth it?
Source: CNET

New York’s L Train Shutdown Is Canceled. Now What?

Organizers and transit companies wonder how the averted shutdown will affect its silver lining: the city’s plans to rethink its transportation system.
Source: Wired

Swarms of tiny satellites could act like one giant space telescope

It won’t be long before the James Webb Space Telescope is launched, an enormous and complex feat of engineering — but all one piece. That’s a good thing for now, but new research suggests that in the near future giant telescopes like the Webb might be replaced (or at least augmented) by swarms of tiny spacecraft working in concert.

One advance, from Ben-Gurion University in Israel, is a leap in the capabilities of what are called synthetic aperture systems. It’s a technique where a single small camera moves across a space, capturing images as it goes, and by very careful analysis of the data it collects, it can produce imagery like that created by a much larger camera — essentially synthesizing a bigger aperture.

As documented in a paper published today in Optica, the team leapfrogs existing methods in an interesting way. Two satellites move in synchrony around the edge of a circle, collecting data as they go and beaming it to a third stationary one; this circle describes the synthetic aperture the two cameras are creating.

“We found that you only need a small part of a telescope lens to obtain quality images,” explained BGU grad student Angika Bulbul, who led the research, in a news release. “Even by using the perimeter aperture of a lens, as low as 0.43 percent, we managed to obtain similar image resolution compared to the full aperture area of mirror/lens-based imaging systems.”

In other words, they were basically able to get the results of a camera 50 times the size. That would be impressive anywhere, but up in space it’s especially important. Putting something as huge and complex as the Webb into orbit is an incredibly complicated and drawn out endeavor. And it’s putting a lot of eggs in one (very carefully checked and rechecked) basket.

But if you could instead use a handful of satellites working together, and just replace one if it fails, that really opens up the field. “We can slash the huge cost, time and material needed for gigantic traditional optical space telescopes with large curved mirrors,” Bulbul said.

One of the challenges of space telescopes, however, is that they need to take measurements with extreme precision. And keeping a satellite perfectly still is hard enough, to say nothing of having it move perfectly to within fractions of a millimeter.

To keep on track, right now many satellites use reliable fixed sources of light, like bright stars, as reference points when calculating various things relating to their operations. Some astronomers have even used lasers to excite a point high in the atmosphere to provide a sort of artificial star for these systems to use.

These methods both have their strengths and weaknesses, but MIT researchers think they’ve found a more permanent, high-precision solution: a “guide star” satellite that would sit thousands of miles out and train a strong laser on the Earth and its orbital region.

This light source would be reliable, steady and highly visible; satellites could use it to calculate their position and the minute changes to their imaging apparatus caused by heat and radiation, perhaps to a degree not possible with actual stars or atmospheric dots.

Both these intriguing technologies are still very much in the lab, but theory is where all big advances start, and it could be that in a few years, swarms of satellites will be sent into space not to provide terrestrial communications, but to create a massive synthetic telescope looking out on the universe.


Source: TechCrunch

Up to $818 million deal between J&J and Locus Biosciences points to a new path for CRISPR therapies

The up to $818 million deal between Locus Biosciences and Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a division of Johnson & Johnson) that was announced yesterday points toward a new path for CRISPR gene editing technologies and (potentially) the whole field of microbiome-targeted therapies.

Based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Locus is commercializing research initially developed by scientists at North Carolina State University that focused on Cas3 proteins, which devour DNA Pac-Man-style, rather than edit it like the more well-known Cas9-based CRISPR technologies being used by companies like Caribou Biosciences, Editas Medicine, Synthego, Intellia Therapeutics, CRISPR Therapeutics and Beam Therapeutics.

While the Cas9 CRISPR technologies can edit targeted DNA — either deleting specific genetic material or replacing it with different genetic code — Cas3 simply removes DNA strains. “Its purpose is the destruction of invading DNA,” says Locus chief executive, Paul Garofolo.

The exclusive deal between Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Locus gives Janssen the exclusive license to develop, manufacture and commercialize CRISPR-Cas3-enhanced products targeting bacterial pathogens for the potential treatment of respiratory and other organ infections.

Under the terms of the deal, Locus is getting $20 million in upfront payments and could receive up to $798 million in potential future development and commercial milestone payments and any royalties on potential product sales.

A former executive at Valiant Pharmaceuticals and Paytheon, Garofolo was first introduced to the technology that would form the core of Locus as an executive in residence at North Carolina State University. It was there that he met Dr. Chase Beisel and Rodolphe Barrangou, whose research into Cas3 proteins would eventually be productized by Locus.

The company spun out of NC State in 2015 and raised its first cash from the North Carolina Biotech Center a year later.

Locus is already commercializing a version of its technology with bacteriophages designed to target e coli bacteria to treat urinary tract infections. The company is on target to begin its first clinical trials in the third quarter of the year.

The focus on bacterial infection and removing harmful bacteria while ensuring that the rest of a patient’s microbiome is intact is a huge step forward for treating diseases that scientists believe could be linked to bacterial health in a body, according to Garofolo.

“Most microbiome companies are about adding probiotics to your body,” says Garofolo, representing a thesis that introducing “good” bacteria to the body can offset any harmful pathogens that have infected it.

“Things you’re exposed to are creating the groundwork for an infection or disease, or exacerbating an existing disease,” says Garofolo. And while he believes that the microbiome is the next big field for scientific discovery, the approach of adding probiotics to a system seems less targeted and effective to him.

Already, Garofolo has managed to convince investors of his approach. In addition to the initial outside investment from the North Carolina Biotech Center, Locus has attracted $25 million in financing from investors, including Artis Ventures and the venture capital arm of the Chinese internet giant, Tencent.

Meanwhile, investors have spent millions backing alternative approaches to improving human health through the manipulation of the microbiome.

Companies like Second Genome, Viome and Ubiome are all using approaches that identify bacteria in the human body and try to regulate the production of that bacteria through diet and probiotic pills. It’s an approach that allows these companies to skirt the more stringent requirements the Food and Drug Administration has put in place for drugs.

That doesn’t mean that extensive amounts of research haven’t gone into the development of these probiotics. Seed, a Los Angeles-based startup that launched last year, has recruited as its chief scientist George Reid, the leading scientist on microbial health and the microbiome.

Founded by Raja Dhir, a graduate from the University of Southern California and a leading researcher on microbiotics in his own right, and Ara Katz, the former chief marketing officer of BeachMint and an MIT Media Lab fellow, Seed focuses on developing probiotic treatments using well-established research.

“Foundational to our approach is that it’s not which microbes are present in your gut… It’s based on looking at what specific microbes can do to a healthy individual to improve that status of health independent of what is already present,” Dhir said in an interview around the company’s launch last June. “It’s a little bit less exciting from a tech perspective, but it’s hardcore grounded in basic science… The question is, does this have changes and effects in validated bio-makers in a controlled and placebo setting?”

Dhir said that a basic understanding of how different bacteria can influence health is necessary before getting into the benefits of personalization.

These things can dance between drugs and nutrition,” Dhir said. “Probacteria are an additional lever that people should pull… like diet and exercise and cessation of smoking… In every correspondence we always have been and need to be clear that this should never be seen as a replacement of therapies.”

By contrast, the tools that Locus is developing are very much therapies with potentially far-reaching implications for illnesses, from irritable bowel syndrome to gastrointestinal cancers and even neurological disorders.

“The science [around the microbiome] is early, but it is very well-known that a potentially deadly pathogen should be removed from your body,” Garofolo said.


Source: TechCrunch

What Is the Dark Side of the Moon?

Yes, China recently landed there, but you’re kind of asking the wrong question.
Source: Wired

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