Science

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    How AI can identify people even in anonymized datasets

    How you interact with a crowd may help you stick out from it, at least to artificial intelligence. When fed information about a target individual’s mobile phone interactions, as well as their contacts’ interactions, AI can correctly pick the target out of more than 40,000 anonymous mobile phone service subscribers more than half the time, researchers report January 25 in Nature Communications. The findings suggest humans socialize in ways that could be used to pick them out of datasets that are supposedly anonymized. It’s no surprise that people tend to remain within established social circles and that these regular interactions form a stable pattern over time, says Jaideep Srivastava, a…

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    Silicon Valley’s New Obsession: Science Funding

    Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here. In April 2020, when the coronavirus first swept across the United States, many of America’s top scientists struggled to get funding to answer basic and urgent questions about the disease it caused. Patrick Collison, the chief executive of the payment-processing company Stripe, spied an opportunity in this market failure. He co-founded a program called Fast Grants, which raised more than $50 million that was quickly distributed to hundreds of projects. In its first 20 months, the program supported research on saliva-based tests and clinical trials for drugs, such as fluvoxamine, that could be repurposed to treat COVID-19. The success of Fast Grants raised an…

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    The 10 science policy stories to watch in 2022

    The Orion spacecraft is lifted above the Space Launch System rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in October. The uncrewed Artemis 1 mission is scheduled to launch no earlier than March. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a 14 January post on FYI, which reports on federal science policy. Both FYI and Physics Today are published by the American Institute of Physics. The year ahead could be a historic one for US science and technology policy. Congress is debating proposals such as the creation of a new NSF directorate and an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. Lawmakers are also pushing special multiyear funding measures that could send billions of dollars to science…

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    The CDC’s New Challenge? Grappling With Imperfect Science.

    National Guard members work at a COVID-19 testing site in a parking garage at Ohio State UniversityÕs Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 13, 2022. (Maddie McGarvey/The New York Times) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was long revered for its methodical and meticulous scientific approach. Agencies in other nations modeled themselves after the world’s most highly regarded public health authority, even adopting the name. At the outset of the pandemic, the CDC moved at its accustomed pace. But this time, with a novel virus moving so quickly, the country paid a price: Testing and surveillance lagged as the agency tried to implement dated approaches with creaky infrastructure.…

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    New NASA chief scientist Katherine Calvin interview on climate plans

    Katherine Calvin, Chief Scientist and Senior Climate Advisor at NASA Photo courtesy NASA The new top scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration wants the famed space agency to become a leading voice on climate change science, too. “When people hear NASA, I want them to think of climate science alongside planetary science,” said Katherine Calvin, who was appointed as NASA’s chief scientist on Monday. “All of the chief scientists of NASA have had specialty areas. Mine is climate,” Calvin told CNBC, speaking from NASA headquarters in Washington DC. The agency already does a lot of scientific work that ties into climate change. Calvin’s role will be to connect…

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    Are we witnessing the dawn of post-theory science? | Artificial intelligence (AI)

    Isaac Newton apocryphally discovered his second law – the one about gravity – after an apple fell on his head. Much experimentation and data analysis later, he realised there was a fundamental relationship between force, mass and acceleration. He formulated a theory to describe that relationship – one that could be expressed as an equation, F=ma – and used it to predict the behaviour of objects other than apples. His predictions turned out to be right (if not always precise enough for those who came later). Contrast how science is increasingly done today. Facebook’s machine learning tools predict your preferences better than any psychologist. AlphaFold, a program built by DeepMind,…

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    Don’t Look Up Illustrates 5 Myths That Fuel Rejection of Science

    The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. Every disaster movie seems to open with a scientist being ignored. “Don’t Look Up” is no exception—in fact, people ignoring or flat out denying scientific evidence is the point. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who make a literally Earth-shattering discovery and then try to persuade the president to take action to save humanity. It’s a satire that explores how individuals, scientists, the media and politicians respond when faced with scientific facts that are uncomfortable, threatening and inconvenient. The movie is an allegory for climate change, showing how those with the power to do something…

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