Modular headphones 🎧, Alzheimer’s nasal vaccine 👃 and Netflix overtakes Disney 🎥!

Technology


Apple’s over-ear headphones reportedly have swappable ear pads and headbands

Bloomberg reports that Apple is developing new high-end headphones that include swappable ear pads and headbands that magnetically attach. The modular design, similar to some other high-end headphone brands, is reportedly designed for owners to switch out parts during exercise sessions. The headphones are also said to include Siri support for voice control, noise cancellation, and some built-in touch controls. If Apple’s competitor headphones are priced the same, then they’ll be around $350-400.

‘Hot’ qubits crack quantum computing temperature barrier

Many of the quantum computing technologies around the world operate at around 0.1 Kelvin (-273 degrees Celsius). To keep the technology that cold, scientists need to use special cryogenic refrigeration techniques. But now, two teams of physicists have developed quantum technology in silicon that operates up to 1.5 Kelvin. The change in temperature may seem insignificant, but that’s hot at the quantum scale and makes a huge difference. Not only could it significantly reduce the cost and size of a quantum computer, but it puts the technology on the path of being able to be integrated with existing technology and scaled up.

Science


Scientists Develop Potentially Vital Nasal Vaccine for Treating Alzheimer’s

The vaccine was successful in reducing atrophied brain matter in mice by blocking a protein that causes the disease. The vaccine also reduced changes and abnormal behaviour in the brain normally associated with Alzheimer’s. The research team incorporated a gene into a harmless virus to make it produce tau. The virus was then nasally administered to mice with genes that made them prone to developing dementia. The vaccine proceeded to stimulate the mice’s immune system, causing them to build antibodies that removed the tau proteins.

Long-term spaceflight can cause lasting changes to the brains and eyes of astronauts

Many astronauts report changes in their visual acuity following spaceflight known as spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, or SANS. By comparing and contrasting the preflight and post flight scans, the researchers found statistically significant changes in several key organs and structures. According to the researchers, the morphed shape of the pituitary glands may indicate an increase in the pressure of fluid within the brain. And that increased fluid pressure, they say, may be part of the root cause of SANS. When you’re in space long enough, your eyes may suffer as the brain grows larger.

Business


Netflix Stock Hits Record High, Is Now Worth More Than Disney

Netflix is now worth $194 billion, having increased its market value more than $50 billion this year. Disney, having been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, is valued below $184 billion, down from nearly $258 billion at the end of 2019. Disney and Netflix are two of the heaviest hitters in entertainment, but they have opposite approaches. While Netflix is entirely dependent on paid subscriptions for revenue, Disney is much more varied, as reliant on tourism and merchandise sales as it is on the content it puts out.

American factories just had their worst month since 1946

US factories just suffered their steepest one-month slowdown since 1946. Back then, wartime production was ramping down after the end of World War II. This time, factories have shut down or slowed production due to the coronavirus pandemic. US industrial production plunged 5.4% in March as factories that make autos, aircraft and many other goods were halted to protect workers from the outbreak of COVID-19. The weak March data showed how much the combination of Asian supply constraints, weaker demand and social distancing in the workplace hurt the sector.

Miscellaneous


China may be conducting secret nuclear tests, State Department warns

The State Department is concerned China may be conducting small nuclear tests in secret, possibly violating an international agreement banning such tests. A new State Department report on compliance with arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, found that China may be breaching international law by conducting the tests within the north-west region of the country, using low explosive power. The report didn’t prove any wrongdoing by the Chinese, but still raised red flags.

Africa’s Huge Locust Swarms Are Growing at the Worst Time

The voracious little beasts are particularly fond of carbohydrates like grains, a staple of subsistence farmers across the continent. A second wave of locusts 20 times bigger than the first has descended on the region, thanks to heavy rains late last month. The swarms have infiltrated Yemen and firmly established themselves across the Persian Gulf, having laid eggs along 560 miles of Iran’s coastline. New swarms are particularly severe in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization predicted that by June, the size of the swarms could grow by a factor of 500.

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