Gräberfeld X, FishmiRNA, Cape Town University Fire, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, January 29, 2022


University of Tübingen and machine-translated translated from German: Database records Nazi victims in the Tübingen anatomy. “1078 people were handed over to the anatomy department of the University of Tübingen after their death during the Nazi era – without having given their consent during their lifetime. The names and biographical data are now recorded in a research database, the first of its kind at a German university. The research project Gräberfeld X, an initiative of the University of Tübingen and the university town of Tübingen, brought together biographical data and all available anatomical information.”

University of Oregon: UO prof part of team developing microRNA database for fish. “An international team of researchers including UO biologist John Postlethwait has developed a new database that offers a wealth of information on the microRNA of ray-finned fishes. FishmiRNA fills a gap in resources for scientists studying a range of biological processes in fish species. The self-explanatory database contains detailed, manually curated microRNA annotations and expression data.” When I read this article my first question was “Are microRNA and mRNA the same thing?” The short answer is no; a much longer explanatory answer may be found at the Jackson Laboratory.


GroundUp (South Africa): Parliament’s botched digitisation may mean millions of precious documents were lost in the fire . “A project about five years ago was supposed to create a digital store of Parliament’s archive. But quality-control samples suggest that nearly half the pages were not scanned properly, and there are troubling questions about how the project was managed, especially by Parliament itself.”

Ars Technica: Google relents: Legacy G Suite users will be able to migrate to free accounts. “There is hope for users of Google’s ‘legacy’ free G Suite accounts. Last week, Google announced a brutal policy change—it would shut down the Google Apps accounts of users who signed up during the first several years when the service was available for free. Users who had a free G Suite account were given two options: start paying the per-user monthly fee by July 2022 or lose your account. Naturally, this move led to a huge outcry outside (and apparently inside) Google, and now, the company seems to be backing down from most of the harsher terms of the initial announcement.”

The Verge: Google is adding an Offers tab to Google Play to help you find deals on games and apps. “Google is adding an ‘Offers’ tab to the Google Play app that’s intended to help you find deals on games and apps, the company announced Thursday. Google says the Offers tab will include things like sales on games and in-game items, rewards and bundled offers, discounts on movies and books, and apps offering free trials.”


Digital Photography Review: Edit.Photo is a fast, free web app for editing your photographs. “Edit.Photo is built on pintura, a Javascript Image Editor SDK also developed by PQINA. The web app works on both desktop and mobile browsers and is incredibly fast and intuitive. It offers all of the basic editing tools you might need to process a photo, including a crop/rotate tool, filters and a robust array of fine-tuning features, including brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure, color temperature, clarity, vignette and more.” I tried it. It’s so good I’m giving it my highest honor — a permanent pinned tab in my browser.


New York Times: The Rise of the Crypto Mayors. “The ballooning popularity of Bitcoin and other digital currencies has given rise to a strange new political breed: the crypto mayor. Eric Adams, New York’s new mayor, accepted his first paycheck in Bitcoin and another cryptocurrency, Ether. Francis Suarez, Miami’s mayor, headlines crypto conferences. Now even mayors of smaller towns are trying to incorporate crypto into municipal government, courting start-ups and experimenting with buzzy new technologies like nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, to raise money for public projects.”

BBC: Twitch: Concerns over streamers’ mental health. “Playing video games for a living is a dream job for millions of people. Streaming on platforms like Twitch has made that a reality for many – with the buzz of interacting live with fans from around the world as you play. However, for some streamers like Sam, the punishing schedule required to make a living from the site has taken a toll: ‘I don’t like opening my door to anyone anymore, I don’t go out, I don’t talk to anyone,’ she explains.”

New York Times: Buy GameStop, Fight Injustice. Just Don’t Sell.. “The beliefs underpinning last year’s meme stock phenomenon are stronger than ever. For a large number of individual investors, the stock market has become the battleground on which they join forces to right perceived wrongs and fight the powerful. So much so that when the stock market seesawed this past week, many small investors were undeterred. Falling prices were another opportunity to buy more shares of their favorite companies.”


CNN: The IRS website will soon require facial recognition to log in to your account. “The next time you try to log in to the Internal Revenue Service’s website you’ll be urged to use facial-recognition software to verify you are who you say you are. The verification process includes taking a picture of a photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport, and then taking a video selfie with a smartphone or computer so software can compare the two. It’s part of a partnership the IRS has with, a fast-growing company that uses facial recognition software as part of its identity-verification process.”


Brookings Institution: Gender-based online violence spikes after prominent media attacks. “In order to analyze the relationship between attacks by prominent media figures and the quality of online discussion, we—NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics and the International Women’s Media Foundation—collected data on three case studies: [Tucker] Carlson’s targeting of Taylor Lorenz above, the journalist Glenn Greenwald’s targeting of Lorenz on Twitter, and Carlson’s targeting of Virginia Heffernan in a separate segment on Fox News. Our analysis used large-scale quantitative data to assess how the public conversation surrounding these journalists changed in the aftermath of being targeted by prominent media personalities. The research findings showed sharp increases in harmful speech after the journalists were targeted by Carlson and Greenwald.”

TU Wien: Studying the Big Bang with Artificial Intelligence. “It could hardly be more complicated: tiny particles whir around wildly with extremely high energy, countless interactions occur in the tangled mess of quantum particles, and this results in a state of matter known as ‘quark-gluon plasma’. Immediately after the Big Bang, the entire universe was in this state; today it is produced by high-energy atomic nucleus collisions, for example at CERN. Such processes can only be studied using high-performance computers and highly complex computer simulations whose results are difficult to evaluate. Therefore, using artificial intelligence or machine learning for this purpose seems like an obvious idea. Ordinary machine-learning algorithms, however, are not suitable for this task. The mathematical properties of particle physics require a very special structure of neural networks. At TU Wien (Vienna), it has now been shown how neural networks can be successfully used for these challenging tasks in particle physics.” Good morning, Internet…

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