Google’s sister company to release 20 million mosquitoes in an attempt to control disease

Google’s sister company to release 20 million mosquitoes in an attempt to control disease

Google changed the face of the Internet beyond all recognition. Now, its sister company has plans to extend its reach into the real world as well.

In an attempt to cut the rate of disease transmission, Verily is getting ready to release 20 million bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in central California.

Verily is a sister company of the tech giant Google and will be carrying out the release. It’s part of the life sciences division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. It’s looking into how to decrease the overall population of mosquitoes most likely to carry dangerous diseases within California.

They’ve focused their attention on the Aedes aegypti species, which is known to be a carrier for yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.

At the moment, these diseases aren’t a threat to people living in California. However, it’s anticipated that as the climate shifts, mosquitoes will spread and carry more diseases with them as they do.

The release of 20 million mosquitoes is referred to as Debug Fresno, in reference to taking place in Fresno, California. Already 1 million of the mosquitoes have been set free and 1 million more will be released each week for the next 19 weeks.

See the video above for an overview

The mosquitoes in the trial haven’t been genetically modified. They have, however, been infected with a naturally occurring bacteria that makes some instects, such as the A. aegypti mosquito, sterile.

The trial is a form of biological control. Past tests have had mixed results, though it’s hoped that this test will infect up to 76 percent of mosquitoes in the region.

By releasing sterile males into the wild, it’s expected that there won’t be as many fertile males mating.

A psychologist thinks it won’t be creepy to have sex with robots by 2070

A psychologist thinks it won’t be creepy to have sex with robots by 2070

Humans are sealed bags of bone, blood and flesh that are animated. If you think about it.

Humanoids are sealed silicon bags filled with steel, circuit boards, wires and sensors that are animated.

And soon, what we know to be different on the inside, won’t be so obvious on the outside.

A perfect match, don’t you think?

Thanks to the convergence in the advancement of various technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality humans won’t need to rely on each other for sex anymore. We will have human-like sexbots and virtual reality to satisfy our every need whenever we want it.

According to a Pew Research report that looks at how continuing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics will impact society, robotic sex partners will become commonplace by 2025.

Yes, in less than 10 years, you might be kissing a robot.

Psychologist Dr Helen Driscoll thinks it will be normal for humans to have sex with robots by 2070. In fact, she goes so far as to say that by that time physical relationships will seem primitive.

Will that change in human behavior at last stop population explosion, I wonder.

Dr Driscoll, a leading authority on the psychology of sex and relationships at the University of Sunderland in the UK made these remarks in an interview with The Mirror.

Having sex with a humanoid seems strange, because we associate sex with intimacy and to a large extend but not always, with love. That’s because we think about this issue in terms of current norms, says Driscoll. She points out that if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically.

Virtual reality technology has made huge strides in the last couple of years, becoming more immersive and more realistic with advances in haptics – tactile feedback that lets us experience the digital and virtual as physical and tangible.

“As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner, it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being. People may also begin to fall in love with their virtual reality partners.”

It is when robots are intelligent and indistinguishable from humans that there will not be much of a difference between sex with a human and sex with a robot.

This reality is closer than you think.

Abyss Creations, the maker of the hyper-realistic silicone sex toy, the RealDoll, has a new prototype, called Harmony, a robotic version of RealDoll. And she is a clever girl.

What makes Harmony much more than a silicone likeness of a woman, is artificial intelligence that allows her to talk, learn and interact sensibly. She’s programed to learn what her owner likes and wants. The idea is that the more she learns about you, the better partner she’ll become.

Now, she must just learn to walk as well, then she can accompany you everywhere.

Homeopathy and astrology are “bogus” and “harmful”, says this Nobel Laureate

Homeopathy and astrology are “bogus” and “harmful”, says this Nobel Laureate

Homeopathy is bogus. This is the expressed opinion of Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009.

I must admit, those tiny bottles with drops and little sugary pills don’t look convincing. But if what they contain is totally ineffective, why has the use of homeopathic medicine increased 15% in the US in the past five years?

Ramakrishnana who was making the comments in Chandigarh, India recently, echoes the opinion held by a large portion of the general public and the medical establishment that homeopaths are quacks and their medicine at best harmless but certainly ineffective. Mainstream medicine has always looked down on homeopathy criticizing the practice for not being scientific.

There are logical reasons for this. Homeopathic medicines are made by diluting substances to a very high degree.  The resulting dilution makes it practically impossible to trace a single molecule of the active ingredient in the dilution. Homeopaths claim that the substance leaves a trace or memory in the water or other materials used to make the drops and pills.

Intuitively one questions the efficacy of these dilutions, and it indeed poses a real challenge to scientific evaluation of their efficacy because it’s very difficult to evaluate a medicine that hardly contains any or no active ingredients.

In August 2005, the renowned peer-reviewed journal The Lancet published a systematic review and meta-analysis, reported by a research group from the University of Berne, Switzerland. The study compared 110 similar trials on homeopathy and conventional medicine, and reached the conclusion that homeopathy is no better than placebo. The group later corrected their findings by including previously omitted smaller trials which changed the results of the study, but the damage to homeopathy was done.

It’s the reference to the placebo effect, as if it’s something unacceptable and applicable only to homeopathy that’s interesting.  After all, the placebo effect is applicable to allopathic medication as well. Doctors know that some patients react positively and others negatively to the same medication. Maybe the patient whose symptoms improve, expected them to improve, just like a patient who believes he is getting a morphine injection, experiences relief from pain although only a saline solution was administered.

And just like the person who takes homeopathic medicine and gets better.

Harvard medicine professor Ted Kaptchuk doesn’t think it is belief that makes patients better.

He told Brian Resnick of Vox that medicine has ignored the placebo effect for too long. He says the usual definition of a placebo as “the effect of an inert pill,” is an oxymoron because an inert pill can’t have an effect.

Kaptchuk sees the placebo effect as a surrogate marker for everything that surrounds a pill, like the rituals of medicine, the symbols of medicine, and a warm, empathic doctor.  Taking medication activates neurotransmitters in the brain, activates specific quantifiable and relevant brain regions that release neurotransmitters which modulate symptoms. People taking a placebo feel better, or experience less pain because the whole engagement, not only the medication, everything surrounding it, make changes to the brain.

It’s not a case of mind over matter.

Science Proves Stress Seriously Affects Your Brain. Here’s How To Curb It

Science Proves Stress Seriously Affects Your Brain. Here’s How To Curb It

Struggling to focus? Having sleepless nights? Not able to form new ideas and create new concepts? You’re stressed-out and as science has now found that it’s altering the size of your brain.

As a result, you are becoming incapable of performing at your best. Experiencing stress is a common thing, and it’s not at all bad. In fact, stress pushes you towards the finish line.

However, stress starts taking a toll on you when you do nothing to de-stress or relax. High-stress level aggravates cortisol level, which leads to the development of problems, like –

  1. High blood cholesterol
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Weak immune system
  4. Incapability of hippocampus of creating new brain cells
  5. Chronic depression because of excessive cortisol level in your blood

So, here’s how you can fight stress and rejuvenate your mind.

Practice meditation.

Meditation is an ancient discipline of yoga. It is one of the best ways to curb stress. It an exercise for your brain. Start by focusing on deep breathing. Regular meditation will help in open up your brain and channelize an increased flow of blood – which will further boost your memory, concentration level and creativity power.

Do regular exercise.

Exercises are important for your body, mind and soul. Workout regimes like biking, running, walking and weight training will help in pumping up blood sugar in a natural manner and lower your stress level. With regular exercise, you will make your body capable of sustaining daily life activities in an effective and sound way.

Analyze stress and start altering the pattern.

It is crucial to evaluate your stress and its origin. Once you are done analyzing it, start changing the course slowly. If you’re feeling stressed at home, determine how to get rid of the chaos. Being overwhelmed will only throw you over the fence. The key is to sit down, relax and work on a plan to kill the buzz, before it destroys your mental and physical health.

These 5 Common Myths About Space Will Make You Question Everything You’ve Been Taught In School

These 5 Common Myths About Space Will Make You Question Everything You’ve Been Taught In School

While most of you have probably dreamed about being in outer space and being awed by different planets and suns, the truth is that most of what we know about space has come from Hollywood movies and science fiction shows. There’s a lot more to know, and science is only scratching the surface to find what lies out there.

Watch this video to see 5 common myths about space.

Stephen Hawking Has A Beautiful Message For Anyone Who Suffers From Depression

Stephen Hawking Has A Beautiful Message For Anyone Who Suffers From Depression

This is incredibly inspiring from Stephen Hawking.

Even though he usually speaks about physics and the forces that govern the Universe, he decided to turn his intelligence to help those in need.

At a packed lecture theater, he had these words to say to those who are suffering with depression:

“The message of this lecture is that black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.

“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out…

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

“It matters that you don’t just give up.”

As a man who has overcome such incredible obstacles and lived such a brave and amazing life, this advice couldn’t come from a better place.

Originally published on The Power of Ideas.