AI enhances video calls 📹, loneliness and hunger linked 🍲 and 10 million file for unemployment 📉!

Technology


Google uses AI to enhance video call audio

Google is hoping to end low quality video calls by deploying artificial intelligence to “fill in” audio gaps caused by bad connections. WaveNetEQ works by using a library of speech data to realistically continue short segments of conversations. The AI is trained to produce mostly syllable sounds, and can fill gaps of up to 120 milliseconds. The AI has been trained using the voices of 100 individuals in 48 languages to enable it to learn the general characteristics of a human voice, regardless of dialect.

NASA successfully deploys the James Webb Telescope’s enormous mirror

The huge mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, successor to Hubble has been successfully tested for the first time, putting it one step closer to its launch date in 2021. The test procedure involved replicating Webb’s final configuration in a space-like environment. Like Hubble, the James Webb will investigate celestial bodies from our solar system and beyond. Its launch was initially scheduled for 2018, but the intricacy of construction, number of parts needed and the fact that it’s the most complex telescope built to date meant its launch date has seen a series of delays.

Science


The Loneliness of the “Social Distancer” Triggers Brain Cravings Akin to Hunger

After a baseline brain scan, 40 adult participants underwent a 10-hour session depriving them of food and another 10-hour session denying them social contact. A software classifier trained to recognize neural patterns during fasting proved able to recognize similar neural patterns from the social-isolation condition even though it had never “seen” them. Tomova is already working with researchers at the University of Cambridge, to see if social media use during the pandemic might be remediating feelings of loneliness. The findings point to one conclusion: our need to connect is apparently as fundamental as our need to eat.

Study reveals the “true magnitude” of how exercise influences metabolism

The team recruited 52 healthy soldiers newly enlisted to the Australian army. The group averaged 1.3 hours of physical activity per day. Participants experienced positive changes in metabolites involved in blood clotting, the opening of blood vessels, the breakdown of protein, and stress reduction. Post-exercise, participants used far more fuel like fat and ketone bodies, as shown by a reduction of plasma fatty acid and ketone body intermediates in the blood. These changes can lead to positive health gains like less stress, inflammation and fat accumulation in the body.

Business


Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze. The past two weeks have erased nearly all the jobs created in the past five years, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotels, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation.

Six in 10 UK firms have no more than three months of cash left

Business leaders have warned that British companies are running out of time to stay afloat amid the coronavirus outbreak. After a survey of 600 BCC members, 62% warned they had no more than three months of cash left to cover running costs.. Companies across the country are suffering from a sharp and significant fall in domestic and overseas sales as lockdown measures brought many firms close to collapse, threatening widespread job losses. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has pledged unprecedented aid however businesses and MPs have raised concerns that there are gaps in the schemes.

Miscellaneous


Endangered sea turtles hatch on Brazil’s deserted beaches

Nearly 100 critically endangered sea turtles have hatched on a deserted beach in Brazil, their first steps going almost unnoticed because of coronavirus restrictions that prohibit people from gathering on the region’s sands. According to Brazil’s Tamar conservation project, which protects sea turtles, hawksbills lay their eggs along the country’s north-eastern coast and are considered a critically endangered species.

Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats and dogs

Shenzhen, in southeastern China, has become the first city in the country to ban the consumption of cats and dogs. Under new rules which will come into effect May 1, the government said it will be illegal to eat animals raised as pets. The coronavirus outbreak is thought to have started at a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and authorities have acknowledged they need to bring the lucrative wildlife industry under control if it is to prevent another outbreak.

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