There Are No Wrong Questions

from The New York Times

Do We Believe in U.F.O.s? That’s the Wrong Question

Reporting on the Pentagon program that’s investigating unidentified flying objects is not about belief. It’s about a vigilant search for facts.

By Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean

The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Program has been using unclassified slides like this to brief government officials on threats from Advanced Aerospace Vehicles — “including off-world” — and materials retrieved from crashes of unidentified phenomena.
The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Program has been using unclassified slides like this to brief government officials on threats from Advanced Aerospace Vehicles — “including off-world” — and materials retrieved from crashes of unidentified phenomena. Credit… Leslie Kean

We were part of The New York Times’s team (with the Washington correspondent Helene Cooper) that broke the story of the Pentagon’s long-secret unit investigating unidentified flying objects, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, in December 2017.

Since then, we have reported on Navy pilots’ close encounters with U.F.O.s, and last week, on the current revamped program, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force and its official briefings — ongoing for more than a decade — for intelligence officials, aerospace executives and Congressional staff on reported U.F.O. crashes and retrieved materials.

We’re often asked by well-meaning associates and readers, “Do you believe in U.F.O.s?” The question sets us aback as being inappropriately personal. Times reporters are particularly averse to revealing opinions that could imply possible reporting bias.

But in this case we have no problem responding, “No, we don’tbelieve in U.F.O.s.”

As we see it, their existence, or nonexistence, is not a matter of belief.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Squid Teeth

from Army Times

Are squid teeth the secret to building ‘self-healing’ robots? The Army thinks so

by Todd South

Researchers have teamed with Army initiatives to look at how a protein in squid “ring teeth” might be used to create self-healing materials for clothing, gear and robot parts. Melik Demirel, professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State, is pictured here with a squid from early testing. (Army Research Office)

Scientists working with the Army are employing a natural self-healing process using squid teeth in ways that could allow future engineers to manufacture self-fixing parts in soldier clothing, prosthetic legs, personal protective equipment and even robot parts.

The polymer they’ve been able to reproduce is based on a natural protein in the ring teeth of a squid that repairs itself when damaged.

Stephanie McElhinny, program manager at the Army Research Office, told Army Times that while applications for soldiers are still a few years away, what they’ve been able to do is already showing real promise.

[ click to continue reading at Army Times ]

Welcome

from USA Today

In 2020, anything’s possible. New government intelligence might prove alien life is, too.

And let’s face it, if they’re coming, 2020 is the perfect year for them to arrive, since it has piled one unlikely event on top of another.

by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

“I’m not saying that it’s aliens. But it’s aliens.”

That’s the tagline of a famous internet meme based on Giorgio Tsoukalos’ History channel show, “Ancient Aliens.” But now it seems to be the official United States government line, too.

Just this past week came the latest slow-roll disclosure about UFOs and aliens in The New York Times, which, in the words of tech blog Gizmodo, “casually drops another story about how aliens are probably real.”

There are even reports that the Pentagon has obtained vehicles or parts of vehicles “not made on this Earth,” though former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was either misquoted confirming the story or walked back his comments to that effect later.

I’m old enough to remember when speculation about UFOs was limited to the fringe and when respectable figures and publications wouldn’t touch it. But a few months ago, the Navy released UFO videos, and since then more stories keep appearing, suggesting at the very least that the U.S. government is taking the possibility of aliens visiting Earth a lot more seriously than has been the case in the past.

[ click to continue reading at USAT ]

Sunshine Of The Eternal Bob Ross

from The Atlantic

Why Is Bob Ross Still So Popular?

Twenty-five years after his death, the painter who gave us “happy little trees” is more ubiquitous than ever.

Story by  Michael J. Mooney

“Every day’s a good day when you paint.” —Bob Ross (1942–1995)

Staring at the empty canvas on the easel in front of me, I couldn’t understand how this—nothing—might somehow transform into even a rough approximation of the Bob Ross painting we were using as a model. That painting was classic Bob Ross: a snowy landscape bursting with color, a world of glimmering trees and vibrant shrubs around a slick, icy pond. Gazing at it evoked that feeling you get sitting by a fire on a crisp, cold night. No way I could make anything like that.

I was in a room on the side of a big-box craft store in the suburbs north of Dallas, about to start a class taught by John Fowler, a Bob Ross–certified instructor—which means that he spent three weeks in Florida learning the wet-on-wet painting technique Ross employed on television. A tall, bespectacled man in his 60s, with a light beard and a deep voice and soothing cadence reminiscent of Ross himself, John explained that he has a few things in common with the puffy-haired painter. They both spent many years in the Air Force, for example, and both retired with the rank of master sergeant. I’d learn he also uses some Bob Ross vernacular, sprinkling instructions with expressions such as “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.”

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

The Truth Down Here

from The Science Times

Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit to Disclose Some of Its Findings to the Public

by Mark B.

Couzinet's Flying Saucer
(Photo : Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A 3/5 scale model of a proposed VTOL ‘flying saucer’ aircraft, the Couzinet Aerodyne RC-360, on display at a workshop on the Ile de la Jatte in Levallois-Perret, Paris, 1955.

Although the Pentagon has previously announced that they disbanded programs concerning unidentified flying objects (UFO), reports show that it is not the case. UFO programs apparently reside within the  Office of Naval Intelligence.

Senate committee report last month presents the country’s intelligence expenditures for this upcoming year. In the report, an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force was mentioned. It is tasked “to standardize collection and reporting” regarding unexplained aerial vehicles. This task is about gathering intelligence that might be related to “adversarial foreign governments.” The UAPTF will assess “the threat they pose to U.S. military assets and installations.”

The Select Committee on Intelligence recognizes the sensitivity of some information obtained by the UAPTF. However, it still requires the task force to submit a report every six months. The Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, and other relevant agency heads will be overseeing the report. 

The New York Times also noted retired officials involved in the task force. Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid hopes that the program could gather proof of “vehicles from other worlds.” Although, its main focus remains on keeping an eye on any other nation that gets its hands on new aircraft that could pose a threat to US interests.

This month, Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) expressed interest in having naval intelligence prepare a public report. In an interview with CBS4, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s acting chairman emphasized that “we have things flying over our military bases and places where we’re conducting military exercises.” Sen. Rubio added that we don’t know what these things are and that they’re not projects of the United States, making them genuine security concerns.

[ click to continue reading at The Science Times ]

Wells and Shaw and The Fabians

from The New York Times

H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw Fight Over Socialism

In his latest installment of The Literati, Edward Sorel illustrates the epic battle for control of the Fabian Society, an elite group of socialists, at the turn of the last century.

By Edward Sorel

Credit… Edward Sorel

In his 1901 book, “Anticipations,” H.G. Wells offered his predictions for the future and his belief that only an elite group of enlightened scientists and technicians could save humanity. The book caught the attention of London’s Fabian Society, a small group of accomplished men and women whose aim was to bring about socialism peacefully through the “permeation” of socialist ideas into universities and government. Some members thought that having Wells in their midst would make Fabianism interesting again, and in 1903 the red-bearded George Bernard Shaw, chair of their executive committee, led a group who put up the mustachioed Wells for membership.

Wells, like the younger members who had joined to save the world, was disappointed to find a cliquey institution controlled by Shaw and a few others. Wells served passively for two years, then suggested an inquiry into the society’s effectiveness. He was allowed to deliver his critique, “The Faults of the Fabian,” at a members-only meeting, and began by berating those assembled as inactive, silent on the Boer War and not concerned enough with reforming education. He scoffed at their requirement that applicants obtain letters of recommendation from existing members, as if they were a swanky social club. But his main concern was that while labor organizations were turning manual workers into socialists, not enough was being done to recruit doctors, teachers and other professionals.

“Make socialists and you will achieve socialism,” he exhorted.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Nukes On Luna

from US News & World Report

US Eyes Building Nuclear Power Plants for Moon and Mars

The U.S. wants to build nuclear power plants that will work on the moon and Mars.

By Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. wants to build nuclear power plants that will work on the moon and Mars, and on Friday put out a request for ideas from the private sector on how to do that.

The U.S. Department of Energy put out the formal request to build what it calls a fission surface power system that could allow humans to live for long periods in harsh space environments.

The Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility in eastern Idaho, the Energy Department and NASA will evaluate the ideas for developing the reactor.

The lab has been leading the way in the U.S. on advanced reactors, some of them micro reactors and others that can operate without water for cooling. Water-cooled nuclear reactors are the vast majority of reactors on Earth.

“Small nuclear reactors can provide the power capability necessary for space exploration missions of interest to the Federal government,” the Energy Department wrote in the notice published Friday.

[ click to continue reading at US News & World Report ]

The Immune Among Us

from BBC

The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19

By Zaria Gorvett

There's growing evidence that some people might have a hidden reservoir of protection from Covid-19 (Credit: Getty Images)
There’s growing evidence that some people might have a hidden reservoir of protection from Covid-19 (Credit: Getty Images)

While the latest research suggests that antibodies against Covid-19 could be lost in just three months, a new hope has appeared on the horizon: the enigmatic T cell.T

The clues have been mounting for a while. First, scientists discovered patients who had recovered from infection with Covid-19, but mysteriously didn’t have any antibodies against it. Next it emerged that this might be the case for a significant number of people. Then came the finding that many of those who do develop antibodies seem to lose them again after just a few months.

In short, though antibodies have proved invaluable for tracking the spread of the pandemic, they might not have the leading role in immunity that we once thought. If we are going to acquire long-term protection, it looks increasingly like it might have to come from somewhere else.  

But while the world has been preoccupied with antibodies, researchers have started to realise that there might be another form of immunity – one which, in some cases, has been lurking undetected in the body for years. An enigmatic type of white blood cell is gaining prominence. And though it hasn’t previously featured heavily in the public consciousness, it may well prove to be crucial in our fight against Covid-19. This could be the T cell’s big moment.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

A Wrinkle In Picasso

from The Sun

Secret Picasso painting found HIDDEN beneath famous artwork – after strange ‘wrinkle’ was spotted

by Harry Pettit

A sketch of a pitcher, mug and what appears to be a newspaper propped up against a table or chair has been found hidden under Pablo Picasso’s painting, Still Life

DRAWINGS by legendary artist Pablo Picasso have been discovered hidden beneath one of his most famous paintings.

The sketches of a mug and what could be a newspaper were scribbled on a canvas eventually used by the Spanish genius for his 1922 work “Still Life”.

Picasso, who is thought to have made roughly 50,000 artworks during his lifetime, was known to reuse canvases by painting over previous drawings.

The new find by researchers at the Art Institute of Chicago is unusual in that he appears to have blocked the drawing from view using a “thick white layer” of paint before crafting the abstract piece, Live Science reports.

[ click to continue reading in The Sun ]

Plus ça change…

from The Charlotte Observer

What did people say about wearing masks in the 1918 pandemic? It sounds familiar

BY CHARLES DUNCAN

A different pandemic swept across the world a century ago, killing about 60 million people. 

Schools and businesses closed, and many cities required people to wear face masks to slow the spread of the devastating influenza outbreak of 1918. And back then, just like today, some people balked at the idea of the government telling them what to do.

Some protested and openly defied local orders as World War I raged in Europe, J. Alexander Navarro, assistant director at the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine, wrote this month for The Conversation.

About 2,000 members of the so-called Anti-Mask League gathered in San Francisco in 1919 “for a rally denouncing the mask ordinance and proposing ways to defeat it,” Navarro wrote. 

Sound familiar?

[ click to continue reading at The Charlotte Observer ]

Stone on SCARFACE

from MovieMaker

When Scarface Was In Trouble: Oliver Stone Looks Back in An Exclusive Excerpt From Chasing the Light

By Oliver Stone

Before Scarface launched a boatload of T-shirts, posters, memes, and dubious imitations of Al Pacino’s cocainized Tony Montana, the film, written by Oliver Stone, was just a movie in trouble. 

In this excerpt from his new memoir Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, and The Movie Game, Oliver Stone recalls how he found himself caught between Pacino, Scarface director Brian De Palma, and Scarface producer Marty Bregman after a rough-cut screening of the movie that would soon become beloved as a classic of ’80s excess. Everything would work out, of course—in just a few years, Oliver Stone won the Academy Award for Best Director for Platoon, which also won Best Picture. Pacino and Bregman continued their long professional collaboration with Sea of Love and another De Palma film, Carlito’s Way

De Palma’s next film after Scarface was Body Double, another very ’80s, freakishly watchable film that wasn’t an immediate success but has earned a ravenous cult following. And soon after he made another Al Capone-indebted gangster epic (one that got more initial respect than Scarface), The Untouchables. Stone eventually reunited with Pacino, this time as a director, in the adrenalized but surprisingly affectionate Any Given Sunday, another Miami-set tale of machismo, greed, and desperation. 

Here’s Oliver Stone, recalling that fateful screening.

[ click to continue reading at MovieMaker ]

Back To The Horror

from The Atlantic

Why Low-Budget Horror Is Thriving This Summer

These dirt-cheap productions are making money, finding eager audiences, and garnering critical praise during a largely dead box-office season.

by DAVID SIMS

The gory thrills of Becky make the film solid drive-in theater viewing. QUIVER

Only during a global pandemic would the biggest film in the U.S. be not a superhero blockbuster or a Fast and the Furious sequel, but a low-budget horror movie about a teenage boy in the suburbs doing battle with a witch living next door. Thanks to the coronavirus disrupting the usual summer release schedule, The Wretched now belongs to a tiny group of films that have topped the U.S. box office for five weekends in a row, including Titanic and Avatar. Yes, those massive movies made a little more money (The Wretched pulled in a healthy $1.7 million at drive-in theaters) and faced slightly tougher competition. But it’s still surreal to acknowledge that, for the entire month of May, cinemagoers were most drawn to a weird little film with a naked woman wearing a deer skull on its poster.

And yet, most of the other films that have conquered the box office this summer are also dirt-cheap horror efforts: Becky, which features the comedy star Kevin James as a murderous neo-Nazi; Followed, a haunted-house thriller that plays out entirely on a computer screen; and, most recently, Relic, an Australian horror drama that was well received at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Under normal circumstances, these films would’ve followed a similar release pattern—a limited U.S. theatrical run combined with instant availability to rent online. Now they’re practically the only new films available for viewing at the country’s outdoor screens, with regular theaters shut down by the pandemic. It turns out that inexpensive horror flicks, which have been part of the Hollywood ecosystem as long as cinema has existed, are thriving as a result of a sparse film landscape and a largely quarantined moviegoing populace.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

The Real Burning Bed

from The New Yorker

“The Burning Bed” Recalls the Case That Changed How Law Enforcement Treats Domestic Violence

By Anna Boots

For thirteen years, Francine Hughes’s husband, James (Mickey) Hughes, beat her routinely. Something as small as the inflection of a word would set him off: he’d pin her down in a chair and pummel her. They divorced in 1971, but, later that same year, he moved back in. “She did try to get away,” her son, James Hughes, remembers in “The Burning Bed,” a new short documentary from Retro Report. “But he would also tell her, ‘There is nowhere you can go, bitch, that I won’t find you.’ ”

One night, in 1977, Mickey subjected Hughes to a particularly humiliating beating. “Smashing food in the kitchen, dumping out the garbage, rubbing it into my hair, hitting me,” Hughes recalled in a television interview, years later. “I thought, I’m never coming back, never, and then I thought, Because there won’t be anything to come back to. That’s when I decided I would burn everything.” When Mickey fell asleep, drunk, that night, Hughes doused his bed in gasoline, lit it on fire, packed her four children into her car, and drove away as flames engulfed the house. Hughes was then charged with the murder of her ex-husband.

Hughes’s story has been told before—the new “Burning Bed” documentary borrows its title from the journalist Faith McNulty’s 1980 book about the Hugheses and from the 1984 TV-movie adaptation, starring Farrah Fawcett. The documentary emphasizes how groundbreaking Hughes’s case was. Lee Atkinson, who was an assistant prosecutor in her case, says that, at the time, police officers would not arrest someone for a misdemeanor unless they saw the crime committed. For Hughes, this policy meant that the police came to her house repeatedly and did not arrest Mickey. “Does she have bruises? Yes. Does she look like she’s been abused? Yes. The police will take a report, but they wouldn’t make an arrest,” he says. At a time when the criminal-justice system failed to deal with domestic violence because—as an “Evening News” broadcast put it—“traditionally, wife-beating has been considered a family affair,” Hughes’s case initiated a sea change, forcing a long-suppressed conversation about domestic violence in America.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Alexandrian Glass

from Real Clear Science

Where Did Rome’s Famous ‘Alexandrian’ Glass Come From

By Ross Pomeroy

Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire was cranking out glassware unsurpassed in intricacy, beauty, or design, with skill and efficiency that wouldn’t be topped until the advent of modern industry in the 18th century. Large production operations scattered across the empire combined sand and nitrate in kilns reaching 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, creating giant gobs of glass that were then cooled and distributed in huge hunks far and wide. Glassworkers would then purchase this solid glass, re-melt it, and craft it into vessels and other wares.

Various types of glass were manufactured, but the most prized may have been Alexandrian glass, described by one ancient writer as “colourless or transparent, as closely as possible resembling rock crystal.” Glassmakers achieved this feat by oxidizing the sand’s iron from blue Fe2+ to pale Fe3+ by adding antimony oxide. The glass offered a blank slate for decoration and was sought after for serving vessels. The glass’ name hints that it hailed from Egypt when it was a Roman province (the capital was Alexandria), but its precise origin has remained elusive to historians.

[ click to continue reading at RCS ]

The Silver Swan

from Vanity Fair

Homicide at Rough Point

BY PETER LANCE

A view through the mansion’s smashed gates by news photographer Ed Quigley. At far right: detective Fred Newton, who had a surprising theory about how Tirella died. BY ED QUIGLEY/COURTESY OF JOHN QUIGLEY.

In the fall of 1966, billionaire Doris Duke killed a close confidant in tony Newport, Rhode Island. Local police ruled the incident “an unfortunate accident.” Half a century later, compelling evidence suggests that the mercurial, vindictive tobacco heiress got away with murder.

On the last full day of his life—October 6, 1966—Eduardo Tirella flew into Newport, Rhode Island, the storied summer colony of the country’s old money families. He was met at the airport by Doris Duke, the richest woman in America, and they drove to Rough Point, her 10-acre estate on Bellevue Avenue—Newport’s Millionaire’s Row. Eddie, as friends knew Tirella, had just told intimates that after a decade as the artistic curator and designer of Duke’s estates in New Jersey, Bel Air, Honolulu, and Newport, he was planning to sever his professional ties with her, for good. Now, it was time to let his patron and constant companion know, face-to-face.

The handsome Tirella, a war hero and Renaissance man, had just finished advising on a new Tony Curtis film, Don’t Make Waves, and was amping up his Hollywood career. Anxious to move to the West Coast full-time, he intended to load his effects into a rented Dodge station wagon, drop them at his family’s home in New Jersey, and then fly back to California. But nobody left Doris Duke without consequences. Notoriously jealous and known for her violent temper, she’d once stabbed her common-law husband with a butcher knife when he’d angered her. And Tirella, who was gay, had been warned by his lover and friends that Duke might overreact to his pending departure.

Late the next afternoon, Tirella and Duke had a heated argument, overheard by the estate’s staff. Moments later, the pair got into the station wagon with Tirella behind the wheel and headed off for an appointment. Approaching the property’s immense iron gates, Eduardo stopped the car and got out to unlock the chain that held them closed.

Suddenly, Duke slid into the driver’s seat, released the parking brake, shifted into drive, and hit the accelerator. The two-ton wagon sped toward Tirella, burst through the gates, smashed a fence across the street, and crashed into a tree. As Duke sat stunned behind the wheel, Tirella’s body lay crushed under the rear axle.

With massive injuries to his lungs, spinal cord, and brain, he died instantly. Ninety-six hours later, with no inquest—and basing their account of the crash entirely on the word of Duke—Newport police chief Joseph A. Radice declared the death accidental. Case closed.

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Campfires On The Sun

from Yahoo! News

Closest pictures of sun ever taken reveal mysterious ‘campfires’

by Connor Parker

One of the closest images ever taken of the sun. (BEIS via PA)

The closest-ever images taken of the sun have revealed mini solar flares called “campfires” dotted across its surface.

The images were captured last month by the Solar Orbiter, a European Space Agency (ESA) probe designed and built in the UK. Scientists say the pictures could shed light on the mysterious process that means the outer layer of the star is so much hotter than the layers below.

The spacecraft came within 47 million miles of the sun’s surface and passed between the orbits of Venus and Mercury.

David Berghmans from the Royal Observatory of Belgium said: “When the first images came the first thought was this is not possible, they cannot be that good, it was really much better than what we dared to hope for.”

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

How The Plague Begat The Essay

from The New York Times

Montaigne Fled the Plague, and Found Himself

As disease and war ravaged the nation, he left town and invented the essay.

By Robert Zaretsky

In the summer of 1585, the mayor of Bordeaux learned, from the comfort of his nearby chateau, that the bubonic plague had burst upon his city. Those who could were fleeing, he was told, while those who could not were “dying like flies.” What to do? His term in office, on the one hand, was nearly over and his last official duty was to attend the transition ceremony. On the other hand, perhaps his duty was with those still inside the city walls.

Both hands on the reins of his horse, the mayor rode to the city’s edge and wrote to the municipal council to ask whether his life was worth a transition ceremony. He did not seem to receive a reply and returned to his chateau. By the time the plague subsided, more than 14,000 people — about a third of the city’s population — had died horrible deaths. As for the former mayor, he returned to a far more pressing task: the writing of essays.

The mayor was Michel de Montaigne. Known today as the author of the “Essays,” the classic of self-reflection and self-knowing, Montaigne was better perhaps known in his own lifetime as a man of politics. Yet his efforts — quite literally, his essais — at politics and his essais at portraying himself are not unrelated. In both cases, Montaigne probed the limits of what he could do in the world and what he could know about himself.

Bordeaux was a hot spot for both bacteriological and theological plagues in the late 1500s. The wars of religion, a series of eight distinct conflicts between Catholics and Protestants — replete with massacres on both sides — had ravaged France between 1562 and 1598. As both mayor and diplomat, Montaigne tried several times to broker accords between the two sides. He was known (and despised) by both sides as a politique: someone who, for the sake of all, tried to find common ground in a land savaged by zealotry.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

LKJ Wins PEN Pinter Prize

from Brixton Blog

Top literature prize for Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson has been awarded this year’s PEN Pinter Prize.

Judges praised his work, saying: “Few post-war figures have been as unwaveringly committed to political expression in their work.”

The local poet and reggae artist will receive the award in a digital ceremony co-hosted by the British Library on 12 October.

The prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of the Nobel Laureate playwright Harold Pinter.

[ click to continue reading at Brixton Blog ]

Camping Goes Viral

from The Guardian

‘Everyone wants to get outside’: boom in camping as Americans escape after months at home

by Miranda Bryant in NEW YORK

A campground at Joshua Tree national park in southern California. The National Park Service said 330 of its 419 sites are open, although some services are limited. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

The pandemic has put many people off hotels and planes – but socially distanced outdoors holidays are enjoying a surge

The coronavirus has sparked a surge in RV or motorhome purchasing and rental, and enthusiastic camping and “glamping” bookings as Americans attempt to escape months of quarantine for a summer break while avoiding flights and keeping their distance.

The pandemic, which continues to rage across the US, has made many traditional holiday activities either impossible or unappealing, putting millions off flying abroad, going to crowded resort hotels, group holidays or cruises. But experts say the apparent lower risk of transmission in the open is making outdoor holidays in demand – and attracting new fans.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Editing Mitochondria

from STAT

Gene-editing discovery could point the way toward a ‘holy grail’: cures for mitochondrial diseases

By SHARON BEGLEY

Cells with mitochondria, in red / COURTESY TSLIL AST MOOTHA LABORATORY

Biologist David Liu was in the middle of his morning commute to the Broad Institute two summers ago when he opened the email. We just discovered a new toxin made by bacteria, explained the note from a researcher Liu had never spoken to, and it “might be useful for something you guys do.”

Intrigued, Liu phoned the sender, biologist Joseph Mougous of the University of Washington, and it quickly became clear that the bacterial toxin had a talent that was indeed useful for what Liu does: invent ways to edit genes. On Wednesday, they and their colleagues reported in Nature that they had turned the toxin into the world’s first editor of genes in cell organelles called mitochondria.

If all goes well, the discovery could provide a way to study and, one day, cure a long list of rare but devastating inherited diseases resulting from genetic mutations in the cell’s power plant.

[ click to continue reading at STAT ]