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MIT Technology Review

What you need to know about the CDC’s new mask guidelines

On Tuesday, July 27, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor spaces in communities where covid cases are spiking. Along with the new policy, the CDC recommends that children in grades K–12 attend school in person while continuing to wear masks inside.  Why is the CDC making this switch?   The announcement comes on the heels of rising infections…

Posted on 28 July 2021 | 12:01 am

The pandemic slashed the West Coast’s emissions. Wildfires already reversed it.

Wildfires raging across the US West Coast have filled the air with enough carbon dioxide to wipe out more than half of the region’s pandemic-driven emissions reductions last year. And that was just in July. The numbers illustrate a troubling feedback loop. Climate change creates hotter, drier conditions that fuel increasingly frequent and devastating fires—which,…

Posted on 27 July 2021 | 10:00 am

Meet the people who warn the world about new covid variants

In March, when covid cases began spiking around India, Bani Jolly went hunting for answers in the virus’s genetic code.  Researchers in the UK had just set the scientific world ablaze with news that a covid variant called B.1.1.7—soon to be referred to as alpha—was to blame for skyrocketing case counts there. Jolly, a third-year…

Posted on 26 July 2021 | 10:00 am

“We never created a supervirus.” Ralph Baric explains gain-of-function research.

In May, the longtime coronavirus researcher Ralph Baric found himself at the center of the swirling debate over gain-of-function research, in which scientists engineer new properties into existing viruses. And during a congressional hearing, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky implied that the National Institutes of Health had been funding such research at both the Wuhan…

Posted on 26 July 2021 | 9:00 am

We just got our best-ever look at the inside of Mars

NASA’s InSight robotic lander has just given us our first look deep inside a planet other than Earth.  More than two years after its launch, seismic data that InSight collected has given researchers hints into how Mars was formed, how it has evolved over 4.6 billion years, and how it differs from Earth. A set of three new studies, published in Science this week, suggests that Mars has a…

Posted on 23 July 2021 | 8:00 pm

Is the UK’s pingdemic good or bad? Yes.

Oscar Maung-Haley, 24, was working a part-time job in a bar in Manchester, England, when his phone pinged. It was the UK’s NHS Test and Trace app letting him know he’d potentially been exposed to covid-19 and needed to self-isolate. The news immediately caused problems. “It was a mad dash around the venue to show…

Posted on 23 July 2021 | 8:00 am

DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science

Back in December 2020, DeepMind took the world of biology by surprise when it solved a 50-year grand challenge with AlphaFold, an AI tool that predicts the structure of proteins. Last week the London-based company published full details of that tool and released its source code. Now the firm has announced that it has used its…

Posted on 22 July 2021 | 3:00 pm

An albino opossum proves CRISPR works for marsupials, too

Mice: check. Lizards: check. Squid: check. Marsupials … check. CRISPR has been used to modify the genes of tomatoes, humans, and just about everything in between. Because of their unique reproductive biology and their relative rarity in laboratory settings, though, marsupials had eluded the CRISPR rush—until now. A team of researchers at Japan’s RIKEN Institute,…

Posted on 21 July 2021 | 3:00 pm

Disability rights advocates are worried about discrimination in AI hiring tools

Your ability to land your next job could depend on how well you play one of the AI-powered games that companies like AstraZeneca and Postmates are increasingly using in the hiring process. Some companies that create these games, like Pymetrics and Arctic Shores, claim that they limit bias in hiring. But AI hiring games can…

Posted on 21 July 2021 | 11:00 am

Review: Why Facebook can never fix itself

The Facebook engineer was itching to know why his date hadn’t responded to his messages. Perhaps there was a simple explanation—maybe she was sick or on vacation. So at 10 p.m. one night in the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, he brought up her Facebook profile on the company’s internal systems and began looking at her…

Posted on 21 July 2021 | 9:00 am