Trending March 2024 # Crypto Companies Are Making Jump Shots With Sports Deals, Here’s Why # Suggested April 2024 # Top 11 Popular

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On 18 December 2023, when we witnessed the showdown between Argentina and France, during the greatest World Cup of all time, emotions ran high and spectators deemed it the single most thrilling experience of their life.

The Argentinians were enamored with Lionel Messi, while the French were love-struck with Kylian Mbappe, and the day marked a fairy tale ending for the “messiah” of the football world. Ending my uncalled tribute here, I would like to draw your attention to the sidelines, the literal sidelines, of the world cup.

The crypto-sport affair

This is in no way different from the marketing strategies used by companies like Adidas or Coca-Cola.

The World Cup was not the first such deal for chúng tôi nor was it the first crypto company to venture into sports sponsorships.

According to data from Nielsen Sports, 84 new crypto-related deals were signed globally through the first three quarters of 2023. That’s up 664% from the 11 signed back in 2023 in the same time period.

The number of inked deals dramatically rose between 2023 and 2023. The sponsorship of sports facilities, teams, and leagues grew rapidly as crypto prices soared over 2023 and 2023.

Money goes dribble, dribble!

The biggest crypto-sports deal in 2023 was the purchase of the Los-Angeles’ Staples Centre by chúng tôi The stadium, which has witnessed the games of legendary players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, was bought by the crypto exchange for nearly $700 million. The stadium was renamed the chúng tôi Arena and many called it the end of an era.

Let’s not forget Coinbase, which is the official crypto partner of the NBA. In fact, this U.S. exchange in 2023 became the exclusive cryptocurrency partner of the NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball.

FTX, before its downfall, was super involved in sports sponsorships as well. FTX purchased the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena. The company also made Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry its brand ambassador.

Crypto exchange OKX became a primary partner for McLaren Formula 1 team in 2023. And the list of companies that got into sports sponsorships goes on. But the question remains, why are crypto companies so focused on big sports sponsorships?

Answering the WHY

Let me take you into some well-researched facts for this. According to Nielsen,

In the U.S. alone, sports programming accounted for 98% of the most-viewed programs across broadcast and 72% of the most-viewed programs on cable television between January and September, with Super Bowl LV accounting for 20.3 billion minutes viewed.

If this isn’t enough, let me give you another reason why companies are specifically choosing sports. An interesting fact from a Nielsen survey says 81% of global consumers either completely trust or somewhat trust brand sponsorships at sports events.

This is just behind recommendations from friends and family and branded websites.

By delving into the sports world, crypto companies are getting access to billions of people and the love they show toward their favorite clubs or team.

Factoring in these reasons, it shouldn’t be a surprise that by 2026 sports sponsorship from crypto firms is estimated to reach $5 billion.

The deal breaker

Though all seemed good in 2023, the crypto sector was not ready for the whirlwinds that 2023 brought. This led to a decline in sports sponsorships as well.

According to a Fitch report, cryptocurrency market volatility in 2023, including the bankruptcy filings of FTX and BlockFi, highlighted the viability risks of these firms as sponsorship partners for U.S. sports teams, leagues, and facilities.

Fitch further added,

— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) June 15, 2023

Some might argue that given the volatility of the space, crypto companies should not be spending extravagantly. But a fact to keep in mind is, this sector is just in its infancy. And it needs all the attention it can get.

Lastly, the crypto sector stands to gain more from these sports partnerships than traditional sectors like auto or retail. With the right strategy and right sponsorships, crypto companies can navigate these rough waters and come out on top.

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Why Bitcoin Prices Are Making Headlines

Goldman Sachs has come out to state that it is high time for people to consider Bitcoin as an asset to invest in. From the look of things, there is so much that Bitcoin has to offer and it would be ideal to give it a shot. Whereas, this is still a new concept to many people, studies by Goldman Sachs show that this is a great digital asset, which you can invest in. The major reason why many people are still skeptical is the fact that Bitcoin does not behave like ordinary assets. As a matter of fact, if the last few weeks are anything to go by, it would be logical to consider Bitcoin as a risk-on asset. However, the actual truth is that this is a new asset class with its own unique traits. You cannot afford to ignore this new wave of cryptocurrencies. However, even with the nod that Bitcoin has received from Goldman, it is safer to treat it as volatile stocks. There are drastic rises and drops in such stocks and this means that the investment could go either way for you. A simple analysis of the Bitcoin prices shows that they were as high as over $64,000 in mid-April. However, by the beginning of June, the prices seemed to have been on a downward trend getting to as low as $31,000. In the last few days, there has been some slight recovery in the value of the Bitcoin prices. One of the biggest concerns is the inconsistency of the prices and regulatory measures.  

Crypto Concerns from World Governments

Several governments around the world have been raising serious concerns about crypto trading. The Chinese government has in the last few days indicated that it would start crackdowns on crypto trading and Bitcoin mining. This is a move that is aimed at reducing the risk levels. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell has also assured the citizens that it is still carrying our operations on digital currencies. This affects different crypto coins, including Bitcoin.  He emphasized that the intention is to ensure that people have faith in different aspects of the economy.

Goldman Sachs has come out to state that it is high time for people to consider Bitcoin as an asset to invest in. From the look of things, there is so much that Bitcoin has to offer and it would be ideal to give it a shot. Whereas, this is still a new concept to many people, studies by Goldman Sachs show that this is a great digital asset, which you can invest in. The major reason why many people are still skeptical is the fact that Bitcoin does not behave like ordinary assets. As a matter of fact, if the last few weeks are anything to go by, it would be logical to consider Bitcoin as a risk-on asset. However, the actual truth is that this is a new asset class with its own unique traits. You cannot afford to ignore this new wave of cryptocurrencies. However, even with the nod that Bitcoin has received from Goldman, it is safer to treat it as volatile stocks. There are drastic rises and drops in such stocks and this means that the investment could go either way for you. A simple analysis of the Bitcoin prices shows that they were as high as over $64,000 in mid-April. However, by the beginning of June, the prices seemed to have been on a downward trend getting to as low as $31,000. In the last few days, there has been some slight recovery in the value of the Bitcoin prices. One of the biggest concerns is the inconsistency of the prices and regulatory measures.Several governments around the world have been raising serious concerns about crypto trading. The Chinese government has in the last few days indicated that it would start crackdowns on crypto trading and Bitcoin mining. This is a move that is aimed at reducing the risk levels. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell has also assured the citizens that it is still carrying our operations on digital currencies. This affects different crypto coins, including Bitcoin. He emphasized that the intention is to ensure that people have faith in different aspects of the economy. There are certain measures like operating through learn more here which are meant to make sure that the trade is safe and efficient. Mr. Powell says that the commitment of the Federal Reserve is to ensure that all people are able to embrace this new innovation and get the maximum benefits. Generally, most people agree that there needs to be a way to have the prices of cryptocurrencies regulated so as to control the financial markets. Failure to put regulatory actions may cause a crisis in the near future. However, even with the concerns about the regulation of crypto, there are many clients who are keen on investing in Bitcoin. As this is being added to their portfolios, it is creating great exposure to the crypto world and it is just a matter of time before it becomes a huge market. What this means is that there may be a very high demand for coins like Bitcoin and those who will have invested earlier may hit a jackpot. Learning more about this crypto world is imperative so that you can invest in full knowledge of the benefits as well as the possible risks involved. Cryptocurrency is no longer a foreign topic across the globe and it promises to change the way financial markets operate. There are so many learning curves associated with Bitcoin and you can expect to see the prices in the headlines for a while. All we can do is monitor the markets while trying to learn as much as possible about this new field.

Scientists Are Making Progress With Better Plastic

Molecular biologist Christopher Johnson was schmoozing at a party not long ago, talking with another guest about his research, as scientists often do. Johnson works on breaking down plastics, which tend to be highly resistant to such things.

The woman he was speak­ing with at this particular pre-­wedding soiree replied that she felt overwhelmed—­hopeless—about the whole situation: how we can’t seem to stop using plastics, how they crowd landfills, how their microparticles permeate the oceans.

Overwhelmed, Johnson thought. Hopeless.

“I’m a world away from that perspective,” Johnson says, ­recalling his reaction.

That’s because plastics aren’t just happening to Johnson. He’s happening to them. Johnson is a research scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and this past year, he and his colleagues created a biological enzyme that can chew efficiently through throwaway plastics like those that make water bottles and soap containers. The team is optimistic they can engineer a world where humans keep using this overabundant material—without winding up literally or figuratively overwhelmed by it. In that world, as part of a broader, robust recycling system, microorganisms will digest polymers into their chemical components so they can turn a profit as new and better products.

Currently, recycling doesn’t actually turn plastic into anything, chemically speaking: It just grinds the waste into smaller pieces, like shredding paper into strips. Manufacturers then reconstitute those pieces into lower-quality plastic. In bio-based recycling, as those in the field call it, plastic-eating organisms give you back the building blocks to make new materials and, eventually, goods.

Johnson’s group, in particular, captured the public’s imagination because its discovery was accidental and made for a great story. Skeptics feared the effort might backfire—that rogue GMO chompers might start gobbling the wrong polymers. Like the dashboard of your car. As you’re driving. It’s an extremely remote possibility but not completely misguided.

Scientists have new hope that nature might hold a solution for our most problematic polymers. Brian Klutch

All that plastic trash, after all, is itself an unintended consequence. The synthetic material began, in part, as a substitute for ivory to save ele­phants from slaughter. But that innovation also brought us to where we are today: overwhelmed and hopeless. The amount of plastic that humans produce every year—more than 300 million tons—weighs about five times that of all ­people put together.

We use most of our modern polymers just once: in water bottles, shampoo bottles, milk bottles, chip bags, grocery bags, coffee stirrers. Every year, nearly 9 million tons of the litter ends up offshore. You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: an area in the ocean’s northern half where swirling currents congregate all that refuse. But did you know that by 2050, the high seas could sport more plastic than fish?

Civilization isn’t doing a great job of cleaning up after itself, partly, Johnson and his team believe, because there’s never been a great economic incentive to. But if you can take those plastic building blocks and assemble them into something more valuable than the ­original—such as auto parts, wind turbines, or even surfboards—you can change recycling’s calculus. Companies can do well for themselves by doing good for the world.

———

They, along with colleagues in Florida, England, and Brazil, form a kind of dream team for this particular bio-based recycling research: Nicholas Rorrer creates polymers. Gregg Beckham tries to figure out how bacterial and fungal chemicals break down compounds such as cellulose, the main ingredient in plant-cell walls and many veggies. Bryon Donohoe studies how ­cells with polymer-eating enzymes work. Johnson engineers new kinds of cells that secrete those enzymes. Those areas of expertise are each key to exploring how bacteria indulge an appetite for plastic—and how to manipulate them into being better snackers.

On one of the screens behind them, an enzyme skates along a close-up of cellulose, chewing off individual strands and spitting them back out as blocks of sugar—the ultimate drive-through eating experience. This simulation, the scientists say, is the same way a polymer meets its match.

The crew first learned of the concept when the March 2024 issue of Science magazine brought news that researchers in Japan had discovered a strange species of bacteria in samples of soil near a bottle recycling plant in the city of Sakai. It could chomp through polyethylene tere­phtha­late, commonly known as PET, which manufacturers widely use to make plastic bottles and containers. A team led by Kenji Miyamoto, a bioscientist at Keio University, found that the organism squirted out an enzyme, which they dubbed PETase, that stripped the polymer into chemical pieces. They called this amazing organism Ideonella sakaiensis, after its home city. Still, not to diss Ideonella, but it didn’t work fast enough: Given six weeks and tropical temps, it could eat through a film of PET. Not exactly the stuff of efficient recycling plants. Plus, getting it to grow required some careful care and feeding.

Soon after the journal article appeared, Beckham found himself in England, having a beer with University of Portsmouth’s John McGeehan, a colleague in cellulose research and an expert at mapping the structures of tiny enzymes. They began to brainstorm how to combine forces to better understand how PETase digests PET. After all, their work already looked at how the natural degrades the natural—for example, how bacteria and fungi use enzymes to digest cellulose. Maybe that work could help them understand how the natural breaks down the synthetic.

After their brainstorming pint, the two recruited Johnson, Donohoe, and Rorrer, as well as another colleague in Florida, Lee Woodcock, whose sophisticated computer models simulate how cellular chemicals work. Then, they got started.

First, the team needed to understand how PETase breaks down its chosen plastic. The molecules in a polymer are like connected Lego bricks that can just pull apart. For PET, PETase is the puller. But to understand how PETase could grab onto and torque the plastic’s molecules, the team needed enough of the enzyme to be able to map it.

That’s where Johnson’s cellular expertise came in. Working with an outside ­company, they synthesized the gene that produces PETase so it could later be slipped into E. coli, a single-celled organism that is quick and easy to grow in a lab. He sent the genetic code across the pond to McGeehan’s lab. There, the mutant food-poisoner had some grub and began pumping out PETase.

McGeehan schlepped the PETase enzyme to a facility with a super-powerful X-ray microscope that uses light 10 billion times stronger than the sun to probe samples and create ­atomic-​scale pictures. Inside the exotic microscope, supercooled magnets guided the X-rays until the scientists could see PETase itself—and not just its goo-​­making effects.

The enzyme, to the untrained eye, resembles the love child of a sea sponge and a human brain. Or, if you are a very lucky biologist, it looks almost exactly like cutinase, the puller for cutin, a waxy polymer that coats many plants. Cutinase has a narrow U-shaped pit that notches into cutin just so. PETase has the same U, just wider, kind of like a cutinase in a fun-house mirror. The PETase U notches into PET, like the two sides of a BFF necklace.

This is a no-brainer, Beckham thought at the time: The enzyme, he reasoned, initially evolved to eat cutin, and clearly had adapted in the presence of so much trash to have a new favorite food.

The form, function, and evolutionary idea in hand, the team submitted their paper for publication in October 2023. But the origin story—their most beloved part—was problematic. “One of our reviewers said, ‘No, you have to show that,’” Beckham recalls.

Rise of the plastic eaters. Brian Klutch

This is going to be a crap activity, he imagined. It seemed so obvious that cutinase had Darwined its way into PETase. But to show how that had happened, they would have to wind back the evolutionary clock, shrinking the wide PETase U back to a wee cutinase U, and in the process, they thought, making it unable, or at least less able, to chew plastic. Then they would reverse course, turning the cutinase back into PETase, showing how one became the other.

Beckham would have to eat (and digest) those words.

———

The team began the first half of the experiment, turning PETase back into cutinase, in late 2023. First, they tweaked the DNA that makes the enzyme PETase. Specifically, they mutated two amino acids so their replacements pinched into a U, creating an enzyme that was closer to cutinase. For his part, ­Rorrer—the polymer guy—began to harvest bottles from colleagues, including staff favorites such as Diet Pepsi and Diet Dr Pepper. (Today, the refuse still lines the top of his cubicle.) He used a standard office hole puncher to snip out circles. He then placed those in close quarters with versions of the modified enzyme, expecting he’d come back to find it making minimal progress, if any.

But that’s not what happened. When Rorrer returned four days later, he found the hacked enzyme was not only working, but it was eating about 30 percent more than the PETase from the Sakai recycling plant. The team members began to doubt themselves. Maybe I mislabeled the samples, Rorrer thought. Donohoe, the cell-breakdown specialist, suspected they’d mixed up the samples. They repeated the experiment two more times but kept getting the same outcome: The new enzyme had a good appetite. Donohoe recalls, “I’m like, ‘I guess we have to believe it, even though I don’t know how to.’”

The result still left open whether PETase had morphed from cutinase in the “oh, of course” way the team had surmised. But the unexpected outcome is still good news: It means they can improve what evolution hath already wrought. “Nature hasn’t necessarily found the ultimate solution,” Beckham, the chemical engineer, says.

When they announced the discovery in April 2023, people latched on to its oopsiness. John McGeehan got a Goop award from Gwyneth Paltrow’s pseudoscience wellness brand. He tried to reject it, but there is no rejecting Gwyneth Paltrow. But for this group, being famous wasn’t enough. And improving PETase a little wasn’t either. “There’s probably room here to make it a heck of a lot better,” Beckham says.

———

Ideonella sakaiensis, turns out, is far from the only organism that can use plastic waste as fuel. “Bacteria probably do just evolve to eat things all around them,” says genetic engineer Johnson. Biologists have known for decades that existing enzymes, such as the so-​called esterases that microbes and fungi spit out, can break down PET and nylon.

Plastics floating in Lake Zurich carry four organisms primed to eat polyurethane. In the ocean, investigators in India have discovered bacterial species that can degrade polyvinyl alcohol, which water­proofs paper. Another group found a fungus whose cutinase also munches PET. None of these, though, can feast fast enough at scale to be useful to industry—yet. With more than 300 million tons of plastic produced every year, organisms would need to churn through around 906,000 tons on all days ending in “y” to get the job done. Taking four days to dissolve the surface of a Diet Dr Pepper bottle isn’t fast enough.

In its own search for better polymer eaters, the dream team recently recruited new players from Montana State University who study extremophiles boiling in the brightly colored pools of Yellowstone. ­Selfie-​­snapping tourists throw a lot of trash into those hot springs. At temperatures like these—­sometimes more than 400 ­degrees—​­plastic melts.

To a bacterium, munching overheated junk is like taking speed: Everything happens a lot faster. If the scientists can find an extremophile, or engineer one, that likes it hot and eats PET, then they’re one step closer to a process that works fast enough to be useful in the real world.

In that scenario, a future recycling plant would heat or dice up the plastic, then throw it in a big pot of hot water and sprinkle in some PETase (or other hungry enzyme). That would produce a soup of polysyllabic ingredients: terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, the stuff that companies can spin into stronger, higher-value polymers.

First, though, they need a better enzyme. “Life will find a way,” Beckham says, smiling as he paraphrases Jurassic Park. Still, nature could use an assist. So the team starts by exploiting evolution’s secret: random mutation. Sometimes new genetic code makes the organism better suited for its environment, and the microbe lives to pass that wonkiness to its offspring. In the lab, though, we can accelerate evolution by, say, feeding the would-be plastic-eaters only PET. If they don’t sit down to dinner, they starve.

The team is also trying to create new life by injecting the PETase gene into bacteria that is less picky than Ideonella. Beckham pulls up an unpublished paper and scrolls to before-and-after pictures. After four days in a test tube with a new mutant, a bit of hole-punched plastic is what he calls “a soupy mix of crap.” “Crap,” here, is ­chewed-​up plastic parts.

The effort, in other words, is working. As Beckham looks at his pictures, he laughs and recalls a link people sent him when the team’s first paper came out. It pointed to a 1971 book called Mutant 59: The Plastic-Eaters. In the tale, a ­polymer-​­dissolving virus takes over—killing spacecraft, crashing planes, sinking submarines, and generally causing uncontrollable chaos as it destroys seemingly all the plastic in the world.

Nonfictional researchers plan for their engineered organisms to stay in the lab, in tubes, and, eventually, in industrial processes. Such organisms might even already exist on the outside, having evolved the old-fashioned way. Remember, the world has bacteria that eat lots of other things we love: metal, bread, cheese, our own skin. And we’re all still here, nibbling bread and cheese, sitting on metal chairs. Given an eons-long head start, the microbes have not yet managed to take over. So, unless nature gets remarkably better remarkably fast (it took something like 50 years to make the inefficient version of PETase), or a rogue actor stages a coup, no bitsy beasts will be gutting your Walmart kayak anytime soon.

Beckham does give more credence to a concern that carbon, spit out during digestion, eventually becomes carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. But any addition would be dwarfed by gases from other industries. His group wants neither a bio-warmed world nor one without plastics.

Instead, they aim to create a real economic incentive for reclaiming most polymers. Right now, what comes out the recycling end is just PET with weaker bonds: It’s challenging to make another bottle out of it, and it’s worth about 75 percent of what the original plastic was. It goes into textiles or carpets. Those usually wind up in landfills.

Biologically breaking down plastic, though, produces components that can become the precursors to pricey materials like Kevlar, which sells for two or three times as much as recycled PET and goes into stress-​­resistant products like snowboards. These materials give companies a cash-​based reason to reclaim plastic. Innovators might even use them to build flightier aircraft, more-­efficient cars, and hardy, lightweight stuff we ­haven’t thought of yet. Stuff that maybe does its part to reduce ­greenhouse-​gas emissions.

This world won’t exist tomorrow, or next year. But it’s a foreseeable future, synthesized through the dream team’s microbes, or others’, and whatever nature brings to the polymer picnic table. If they succeed, we’ll be able coexist with plastics, not atop of a heap of them.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2023 Make It Last issue of Popular Science.

First Shots With Fujifilm’s X

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Fujifilm just announced the arrival of the X-T4, a camera with a 26.1 megapixel back-side illuminated CMOS sensor, a larger battery than its predecessors, a redesigned body, and an overhauled in-body image stabilization system. The mechanical shutter can shoot 15 fps, making it the fastest camera in the X series. I got a chance to check out and shoot with a pre-production version of this compact mirrorless powerhouse a few days before its release.

Design and feel

It’s now easier to switch between photo and video modes when shooting with the X-T4. Jeanette D. Moses

The X-T4 has a more robust feel than the X series cameras that have come before it. The hand grip is more substantial, the dials on the top have been slightly reorganized, and the dual memory card slots now sit side by side. The larger battery motivates most of these ergonomic changes since it demands more space inside the body.. Although it’s bigger than the X series that have come before it, it’s still compact and the design changes in the handgrip make for a very comfortable shooting experience. The dials on the top of the camera have a bit more space around them and the simple switch for photo and video modes under the shutter speed dial is very convenient.

Like the X series cameras that have come before it though it the controls on the top remain very tactile and are reminiscent of what you might find on an old film camera. If you’ve used previous Fujifilm cameras navigating the X-T4 will be a breeze.

Shooting experience

The X-T4 uses a new larger capacity battery. Jeanette D. Moses

The autofocus and the in-body image stabilization performed quite well during my brief time with this camera. Although I didn’t have a chance to test it out in any really dark settings where I’m usually shooting with an X-T2, the camera did an impressive job in the darker corners of Grand Central Station even at slower shutter speeds. I loved the new Eterna Bleach Bypass film simulation as it provided a cinematic and somewhat moody look—the perfect aesthetic for city shooting.

Although I didn’t have a chance to put the longer battery life to the test, during my time with the camera the percentage didn’t seem to drop at all—impressive considering how quickly the old style of Fujifilm battery seemed to lose power.

The 47-megapixel RAW files that the camera produces gave me plenty of leeway in post-processing, although the Fujifilm presets are pretty enough that there wasn’t really much to do.

Overall this is a very capable compact mirrorless that we think will be able to handle a wide variety of photo and video jobs. Scroll down to see more sample images from the X-T4.

Steaks under glass in Grand Central. Shot on the new X-T4 at 1/125 sec, f/1.8 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

Detail shot inside a New York City meat shop. Jeanette D. Moses

Sample image from the new Fujifilm X-T4 camera. Shot at 1/125 sec f/3.2 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

Flowers in midtown, shot on the X-T4 at 1/125 sec f/2.8 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

Sample image from the new Fujifilm X-T4 camera. Shot at 1/250 sec f/1.4 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

The in-body image stabilization makes this a great camera for street shooting. Jeanette D. Moses

Sample image from the new Fujifilm X-T4 camera. Shot at 1/125 sec f/2.8 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

A fleeting moment in Grand Central. Even at 1/30 sec the in-body image stabilization in the camera did a great job. Jeanette D. Moses

The X-T4 has five-axis in-body image stabilization that provides up to 6.5 stops of image stabilazion—making it a great option for shooting on the go. Jeanette D. Moses

Man waiting for a taxi in midtwon. Shot on the X-T4 at 1/125 sec, f/2.0 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

The camera did a great job grabbing onto this subject’s face despite the busy frame. Jeanette D. Moses

Man with piegons in midtown Manhattan. Jeanette D. Moses

Commuters in the food hall at Grand Central Station. Jeanette D. Moses

Waiting for the train at Grand Central Station. Jeanette D. Moses

The in-body image stabilization perfomes well in dark spaces even with slow shutter speeds. Jeanette D. Moses

Sample image from the new Fujifilm X-T4 camera. Shot at 1/125 sec f/2.2 and ISO 800. Jeanette D. Moses

Shot with the X-T4 at 1/30 sec, f/2.5 and ISO 1250. Jeanette D. Moses

The Oyster Bar inside Grand Central Station. Shot on the X-T4 at 1/30 sec, f/1.4 and ISO 1250. Jeanette D. Moses

This corner of Grand Central can be tricky to shoot in because of the low lighting. The Fujifilm X-T4 was up to the challenge. Jeanette D. Moses

The X-T4 is built around a X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4. Jeanette D. Moses

Sample image from the new Fujifilm X-T4 camera. Shot at 1/250 sec f/2.0 and ISO 640. Jeanette D. Moses

Mixing Volcanic Ash With Meteorites May Have Jump

What is life? It’s a fuzzy concept without a single answer. If you asked a philosopher, they might quote Plato and tell you it’s the ability to support yourself and reproduce, though that would make sterile donkeys non-living objects. Ask a biologist and they’ll likely hit you with a textbook definition of life as organized matter with genes—as diverse as a paramecium and an elephant.  

Oliver Trapp, a professor of chemistry at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany, offers a different description. He says life is a “self-sustainable reaction network,” in which organisms have the processes necessary to survive and adapt. This is in line with the definition NASA uses when looking for extraterrestrial life. Having a clear idea of what makes up life, and the conditions needed to sustain it, helps astronomers get a better picture of what to look for when searching for life on other planets. 

Specifically, they could look for the environments that have collected the essential ingredients. Prerequisites to making life, based on what happened during early Earth, are materials for organic chemical reactions. In a new study published today in Scientific Reports, Trapp and his colleagues simulated how our planet received the supplies for life-producing chemical reactions 4.4 billion years ago. They suggest that no special or lucky conditions were necessary. Instead, life on Earth was created from volcanic particles and iron-rich meteorites. These carried the building blocks essential to living things: amino acids, lipids, nucleosides, and sugars.

[Related: Here’s how life on Earth might have formed out of thin air and water]

“Understanding the origins of biology is one of the greatest unsolved scientific questions. It has important implications for understanding how common life may be beyond Earth and for understanding humanity’s place in the universe,” says Henderson (Jim) Cleaves, a chemistry professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology and president of the International Society for the Study of the Origins of Life, who was not involved in the study.

Previous theories suggested that Earth’s volcanoes were the starting points. Lava shaped the continents, and volcanic gases helped create oceans and atmosphere. Early Earth may have had another important boost, too, in the form of chemical-rich meteors falling from the sky. 

Trapp’s new study suggests it was the iron from fallen asteroids that helped convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into organic molecules such as hydrocarbons, aldehydes, and alcohol. “The meteorites entered the dense atmosphere, heated up and then you have this ablation of nanoparticles,” he explains. The natural minerals found on volcanoes would have helped support these chemical reactions.

To determine the interplay of space rocks and Earthly eruptions, the authors simulated the conditions of our young planet in the lab. They purchased chunks of two iron and stony meteorites and dissolved them in acid to create a solution, and soaked in crushed samples of volcanic ash and minerals assumed to have been present billions of years ago. The result was a model of meteorites crash landing on volcanic islands. The team also simulated atmospheric conditions on early Earth by combining carbon dioxide gas with hydrogen gas or water under a high-pressure and high-heat system. 

[Related: A new finding raises an old question: Where and when did life begin?]

Observing the reactions in this pressurized model, the team noticed an increase in the production of aldehydes, formaldehydes, alcohol, hydrocarbons, and acetaldehyde. These organic compounds would then be used in further chemical reactions to make amino acids, lipids, DNA, and RNA molecules. “Even at lower temperatures, the particles were highly reactive and quite robust,” Trapp says. The authors suggest that as Earth’s atmosphere cooled down and became more reactive, it was probably easier for iron to speed along the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen-containing organic compounds. 

“It is very interesting to see a demonstration of how micrometeorites could have contributed to prebiotic organic synthesis during their infall,” notes Cleaves. While he says the work provides ample evidence for this theory of how life first emerged, he warns this simulation is dependent on the composition of the early atmosphere. It’s unclear if those conditions existed exactly how the lab simulated them, he says.

Trapp says the findings are a start to uncover what makes up life. As long as the right materials are present, the conditions to sustain living things may not be unique to Earth. This could help space explorers decide if a planet is worth exploring. For example, inactive volcanoes have already been spotted in other places like Jupiter’s moon Io and Europa—a strong contender for extraterrestrial life since it holds a liquid water ocean underneath its icy surface.  

Alternatively, these simulations could rule out otherwise promising worlds. “If a planet is cooling down too quickly and no longer able to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds, this process would completely stop and essentially cause life to die.” Even if we do stumble on a planet with the optimal environment for life, whether we actually find aliens is another matter entirely.

Ai Trends: How Companies Are Using Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), which automates operations and procedures that used to require human intervention, is helping businesses increase efficiency and productivity. AI can understand data at a level that no human can. This ability has the potential for significant business benefits.

Here’s how AI companies use AI

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Why Do Companies Use AI? Improve User Experiences

Companies face a difficult task in balancing high conversion and sales rates. Artificial Intelligence can be used to improve user experience by developing UX-based functionality.

Better Personalization

Utilizing Potential Channels

Artificial intelligence can open new channels of marketing for businesses. AI can be used to expand digital marketing channels. AI-powered technologies are becoming more popular in helping businesses identify channels with the highest chance of success.

Valuable Data Insights

The big business world deals with large amounts of data about their customers and trade. Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that allows businesses to understand the full range of data sets.

Top Companies That Use AI Apple

Apple is a global technology company. It sells consumer goods such as iPhones and Apple Watches. However, it also offers computer software and internet services. Apple uses machine learning and artificial intelligence in devices like the iPhone.

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Baidu Alibaba

Alibaba is the largest e-commerce platform worldwide, with more sales than Amazon and eBay combined. Alibaba uses artificial intelligence (AI), to predict what customers will buy. Natural language processing is used by the firm to create product descriptions for the site.

Another example of artificial intelligence at work is Alibaba’s City Brain initiative. It aims to build smart cities. The initiative tracks every car in the city and uses AI algorithms to help alleviate congestion.

Alphabet Google

Waymo, Google’s self-driving tech business, was originally a Google initiative. Waymo now aims to bring self-driving technology around the world to transport people and reduce the risk of car accidents.

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Amazon

Amazon is more than a player in the AI AI game with Alexa. It is also an integral part of many other parts of the company.

Amazon uses artificial intelligence to deliver products to customers before they even consider buying them. They gather information about every person’s shopping habits and use that information to suggest goods to them.

Facebook

IBM

IBM has been at forefront of AI technology for many years. Since the first defeat of a human world champion in chess by IBM’s Deep Blue computer, it has been over 20 years. It won additional man-vs.-machine challenges using the Watson computer.

Also read: Top 10 IT Skills in Demand for 2023

Conclusion

AI-powered solutions are enhancing the company’s overall performance. Artificial intelligence is important in all aspects, including business marketing and data analytics.

Although powerful artificial intelligence can seem intimidating at first glance, it is very easy to integrate with existing systems.

Many marketers are benefiting from AI-enabled products in a range of industries. AI can reveal real-time data which allows for new strategies and capabilities that will improve overall corporate growth.

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