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The Download: Sensory cities and carbon trapping-crops



This is as we speak’s version of The Download, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a every day dose of what’s happening on this planet of expertise.

Why sounds and smells are as important to cities because the sights

When David Howes thinks of his house metropolis of Montreal, he thinks of the harmonious tones of carillon bells and the scent of bagels being cooked over wooden fires. But when he stopped in at his native tourism workplace to ask the place they suggest that guests go to scent, style, and hearken to the town, he simply obtained clean stares.

“They solely learn about issues to see, not in regards to the metropolis’s different sensory points of interest, its soundmarks and smellmarks,” says Howes, director of Concordia University’s Center for Sensory Studies, a hub for the rising discipline sometimes called “sensory urbanism.”

Around the world, researchers like Howes are investigating how nonvisual info defines the character of a metropolis and impacts its livability. Using strategies starting from low-tech sound walks and scent maps to knowledge scraping, wearables, and digital actuality, they’re combating what they see as a limiting visible bias in city planning. Read the full story.

—Jennifer Hattam

These scientists need to seize extra carbon with CRISPR crops

The information: Plants are the unique carbon seize factories—and a brand new analysis program goals to make them simpler by utilizing gene enhancing. The Innovative Genomics Institute, a analysis group based by CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna, has introduced a brand new program to make use of the revolutionary gene-editing instrument on agricultural crops to spice up their aptitude for carbon storage. 

How it’d work: One of the first targets might be to tweak photosynthesis so crops can develop extra rapidly. By altering the enzymes concerned, researchers might lower out energy-sapping facet reactions, together with some that launch carbon dioxide. The researchers additionally hope they will discover methods to retailer extra carbon within the soil, for instance by encouraging bigger, deeper root methods. 

Bigger image: It’ll be a big problem to make these methods work, however the analysis is a part of a rising effort by scientists to search out methods to hoover up the carbon dioxide already within the ambiance as a way to sluggish local weather change. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you as we speak’s most enjoyable/vital/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 The crypto market is in freefall 
With colossal quantities of cash at stake, crypto’s volatility now seems to be much less thrilling and extra worrying. (New York Mag)
+ The worth of Bitcoin has plunged to its lowest in 18 months. (Bloomberg $)
+ Even essentially the most bullish traders are freaking out. (Motherboard)
+ Crypto firms are making main layoffs, too. (The Verge)
+ El Salvador has misplaced round half its Bitcoin funding. (Mashable)
It’s okay to decide out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Big Tech has agreed to reveal extra about disinformation
On a country-by-country foundation, one thing tech firms have beforehand resisted. (FT $)
+ The EU is threatening to effective them for failing to cope with deepfakes. (Reuters)

3 What learning strokes teaches us about dependancy
A selected neural community within the mind might maintain the important thing to quitting smoking. (NYT $)

4 The lengthy struggle to get unlawful, nonconsensual movies taken offline  
Survivors have struggled to get footage faraway from Pornhub. (New Yorker $)
+ Deepfake porn is ruining girls’s lives. (MIT Technology Review)

5 SpaceX has gained approval to launch its Starship rocket from Texas 🚀


But it has to satisfy stringent measures to guard the atmosphere. (WP $)
+ This new child star has a sibling. (Phys)
+ Our maps of the Milky Way have simply obtained a serious improve. (Nature)

6 India’s officers are massive followers of facial recognition
Privacy advocates disagree with police claims it’s solely getting used to surveil criminals. (Motherboard)
+ Here’s cease AI from recognizing your face in selfies. (MIT Technology Review)

7 We want to alter how we warn beachgoers about lethal currents 
Static warning indicators aren’t working. Systems that warn of adjusting situations would possibly. (Hakai Magazine)
+ There’s a world motion devoted to elevating consciousness of rip currents. (The Guardian)

8 People are more and more frightened of being canceled
Psychiatrists surprise if it’s a brand new manifestation of OCD centered round worry of social spoil. (Slate)

9 Electric automobile designs are getting extra inventive
While some have gotten extra luxurious, others seat solely two passengers. (The Guardian)
+ This startup desires to pack extra vitality into electrical automobile batteries. (MIT Technology Review)

10 What’s the purpose of ingesting alcohol within the metaverse? 🥃
Drinks manufacturers are constructing digital bars—however there’s not a drop to drink. (WSJ $)

Quote of the day

“Older folks go on the web for a few issues. For the youthful era the web is ‘the issues.’”

— Payton Iheme, head of public coverage for relationship app Bumble, explains to the New York Times how totally different generations use expertise, and what which means for potential dangers.

The massive story

Lunik: Inside the CIA’s audacious plot to steal a Soviet satellite tv for pc

January 2021

In late October 1959, a Mexican spy named Eduardo Diaz Silveti slipped into the US Embassy in Mexico City. Tall and well-spoken with slicked-back hair, Silveti, 30, had realized spycraft in Mexico’s secret police. During the Cold War, the capital had grow to be so overrun by Communist spies that the CIA had enlisted the assistance of the Mexican secret companies of their struggle in opposition to the Soviet Union.

Winston Scott, 49, was the primary secretary of the US Embassy. That was his cowl; he was additionally the CIA’s most revered spymaster in Latin America. Secrets had been a stock-in-trade for the silver-haired Alabaman: he had arrived in Mexico City in 1956 and turned the CIA station into one of the profitable counterespionage operations on this planet.

He had known as Silveti to his workplace, based on the Mexican, to supply him a top-secret mission that was “tremendously crucial for the United States.” If they bought issues unsuitable, Scott warned that “World War III might start.” They had been going to hatch a plot to steal a Soviet satellite tv for pc for just a few hours so American consultants might research it. Read the full story.

—Jeff Maysh

We can nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre occasions. (Got any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)



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