Blockchain gin 🍸 Sleep bacteria 🦠 Ethical sourcing 🧴!

Technology News

Austrian Gin Makers to Safeguard Liquor Rarity With Blockchain

The Stin – a gin distiller in Austria – plans to use ICON (CX), the largest public blockchain project in South Korea, to enhance supply chain transparency. The Austrian blockchain firm called block42 will combine near-field communication (NFC) technology with the ICON blockchain to optimize its tracking system security. block42 plans to outfit 999 bottles of the distiller’s limited-edition gin with advanced, crypto-enabled NFC chips. These will allow consumers to scan purchased bottles to verify authenticity – and even track how many of the limited edition series of gin bottles are still in the market.

Microsoft exclusively licenses OpenAI’s groundbreaking GPT-3 text generation model

Microsoft’s ongoing partnership OpenAI now includes a new exclusive license on the AI firm’s groundbreaking GPT-3 language model, an auto-generating text program that’s emerged as the most sophisticated of its kind in the industry. Microsoft’s exclusive license gives it unique access to the underlying code of GPT-3, which contains technical advancements it hopes to integrate into its products and services. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale.”

Science News

Study Finds Gut Microbiome Plays Important Role in Sleep Regulation

Researchers have discovered how obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) related sleep disturbances affect the gut microbiome in mice and how transplanting those gut bacteria into other mice can cause changes to sleep patterns in the recipient mice. The mice who received transplants slept longer and slept more often during their normal period of wakefulness, suggesting increased sleepiness. “If we combine continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) with customized probiotics that change the patient’s gut microbiome, we might be able to eliminate some of the tiredness and fatigue and reduce the likelihood of the comorbidities associated with OSA.”

Scientists find a troubling link between binge drinking and brain dysfunction

In a recent study in mice, researchers discovered the underlying mechanism driving post-binging anxiety specifically. They found that 10 days of binge drinking — the equivalent of five drinks daily for the average adult — alcohol triggered microglia to engulf and destroy connective synapses between neurons in the prefrontal cortex. This synaptic dysfunction resulted in increased anxiety-like behavior. This synaptic dysregulation is “ultimately driven by increased secretion of TNF by microglia, as we show that reducing its production either pharmacologically or genetically can prevent synapse loss and anxiety.”

Business News

The Body Shop will buy 600 tons of waste plastic next year, and wants competitors to follow

The Community Fair Trade program at The Body Shop is an ethical sourcing initiative that now makes up around 25% of the company’s ingredients budget. The company procures ingredients like shea butter from Ghana and items such as paper gift boxes from Nepal. Waste-pickers in some developing countries make a living by trading trash in an informal industry that can be dangerous and dirty. The Body Shop is working with sourcing company Plastics For Change to help it procure plastic, while providing better conditions for workers. In 2020, it will buy 500 tonnes (551 tons) via Plastics For Change and by 2021, that figure will reach 600 tonnes.

JPMorgan to move $230 billion of assets to Germany ahead of Brexit

JPMorgan is moving $234 billion of assets from the United Kingdom to Germany as a result of Britain’s exit from the European Union. The shift sees JPMorgan follow similar moves by other big banks in Britain, as regulators in continental financial hubs such as Frankfurt and Dublin urge banks to book their assets locally. The shift in assets represents part of banks’ routine planning for life after Britain leaves the European Union, when they will likely no longer be able to book their entire trading operations for the continent out of London. Clients of those banks in Europe will now trade with the lenders’ local banking entities rather than the UK-based subsidiary.

Miscellaneous News

Melting Antarctic ice will raise sea level by 2.5 metres – even if Paris climate goals are met, study finds

The melting is likely to take place over a long period, beyond the end of this century, but is almost certain to be irreversible, because of the way in which the ice cap is likely to melt, the new model reveals. Even if temperatures were to fall again after rising by 2C (3.6F), the temperature limit set out in the Paris agreement, the ice would not regrow to its initial state, because of self-reinforcing mechanisms that destabilise the ice. The Antarctic ice sheet has existed in roughly its current form for about 34m years, but its future form will be decided in our lifetimes.

Kenya harnesses fly larvae’s appetite to process food waste

Insectipro is a Kenyan farm rearing black soldier fly larvae for animal feed. In the 10 days it takes for them to grow, the larvae need to be fed too – and fruit waste from factories and food markets in the capital Nairobi is just the thing. Every day, the farm processes around 20 to 30 tonnes per day of fruit waste and produces 2 and 2.5 tonnes of larvae, which are then dried and turned into animal feed. Any remaining waste is used as manure, some of it on the farm, and the rest is sold to farmers in neighbouring farms.

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