The Download: Ancient DNA and Offshore Wind
This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
DNA frozen for two million years has been sequenced
What happened: After eight years of effort to recover DNA from the frozen interior of Greenland, researchers say they have successfully sequenced gene fragments from ancient fish, plants and even a behemoth that lived 2 million years ago. ‘years. It’s the oldest DNA ever recovered.
How they did: Researchers looked at genetic material left behind by dozens of species and washed into layers of sediment long ago. DNA has been preserved by freezing temperatures and bonded to clay and quartz, which also slows down the degradation process.
Why is this important: The genetic findings, which paint a picture of a time when Greenland was covered in flowering plants and cedar trees, could provide clues to how ecosystems adapted to warmer climates in the past. Read the full story.
The wild new tech coming to offshore wind
Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy in the world, and soon its reach could expand even further. This week, California is auctioning sites off its coast that could house the first floating wind turbines in the United States.
There are already a few demonstration projects around the world for floating offshore wind turbines, but the technology is entering a new phase, with more governments setting targets for installations and larger projects entering the planning and permitting stages. . California could be a major testing ground for the technology. But what would it take for it to actually happen, and what will California’s wind power auction mean to the world? Read the full story.
Casey’s story is from The Spark, his weekly energy and climate change newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox.
I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s funniest/important/scariest/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Sam Bankman-Fried Reportedly Being Investigated By U.S. Prosecutors
The investigation wants to determine if he manipulated the market for two cryptocurrencies. (NYT$)
+ The FTX founder has made his fair share of haters lately. (voice)
+ Facebook is asking lawmakers to take it easy on crypto, please. (Motherboard)
+ An underground community in Lebanon is mining crypto in neglected dams. (Rest of the world)
2 Apple finally encrypts most of iCloud
It will protect data from hackers and law enforcement. (WSJ$)
+ Company dropped plans to scan iCloud photos for possible child abuse. (Wired $)
+ Government agencies are unlikely to welcome advanced data protection. (WP$)
3 Ukraine is revolutionizing maritime warfare with naval drones
Unmanned boats target enemy ships. (Economist $)
+ Russian disinformation demonizes Ukrainian refugees. (WP$)
4 China accepted US inspections of its tech companies
In order to avoid being placed on a commercial blacklist. (FT$)
5 How France’s privacy darling became a cyber snooper
Eric Leandri was a strong advocate for digital privacy. Today, he runs a cyber surveillance company. (Policy)
6 Scammers get scammed
And a surprising number of them are complaining about it online. (Wired $)
+ SpaceX’s 1,000 Chinese engineers who never existed. (MIT Technology Review)
7 Calculating the Internet’s Carbon Footprint is Surprisingly Difficult
We consume more energy, but it is difficult to compare certain activities. (The conversation)
8 The problem of being “chronically online”
It’s mostly a lot of people getting upset over nothing. (voice)
+ Even the fanciest influencers are feeling the pinch in the cost of living. (Wired $)
9 The simple magic of Christmas shopping in real life
Online may be more convenient, but algorithms are unlikely to delight you with an unexpected discovery. (Atlantic $)
10 How to prepare for a giant asteroid strike
The Asteroid Launcher Simulator offers a fascinating glimpse into what could happen, but hopefully it doesn’t. (Motherboard)
+ How to stay safe from a solar flare. (Initiate $)
+ Watch the moment NASA’s DART spacecraft crashed into an asteroid. (MIT Technology Review)
quote of the day
“It’s not pretty. It’s yet another unspoken sign of disrespect. There’s no arguing. Just like, the beds appeared.
—A disgruntled Twitter employee tells Forbes that beds mysteriously appeared in the company’s offices without any warning, presumably to allow staff to spend some crazy hours.
The big story
Is your brain a computer?
It’s an analogy that goes back to the dawn of the computer age: ever since we discovered that machines could solve problems by manipulating symbols, we wondered if the brain could work the same way.
Alan Turing, for example, asked what it would take for a machine to “think” in 1950, wondering that if machines could think like human brains, it was natural to wonder if brains could function like human brains. machines.
Today, the experts are divided. We asked them to tell us why they think we should – or shouldn’t – consider the brain to be “like a computer”. Although everyone agrees that our biological brains create our conscious minds, they are divided on what role, if any, information processing plays – the crucial similarity that brains and computers are supposed to share. Read the full story.
We can still have beautiful things
A place of comfort, pleasure and distraction in these strange times. (Have ideas? Send me a message ortweet them to me.)
+ How “goblin mode” became the word of the year.
+2022 was a year, but at least the memes were good.
+ Yeardley Smith, aka the voice of Lisa Simpson, has been on quite the journey.
+ Netflix has a ton of secret codes to bump your recommendations. What are you waiting for?
+ Here’s why what we think we know about the brain at 25 probably isn’t true at all.