On July 3, the planet experienced the unofficial hottest day on record, according to scientists at the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer project. This claim is pending validation from authorities like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Although experts are cautious about attributing significance to a single day’s data, the occurrence is seen as indicative of climate change reaching unprecedented levels. The record was based on data from 1979 onwards, while NOAA’s records go back to 1880. These extreme temperatures are driven by greenhouse gas emissions and a “robust” El Nino, a temporary natural warming of the Pacific Ocean. The average global temperature on July 3 was 17.01 degrees Celsius, marking the first time this dataset exceeded the 17-degree mark. Such heat poses severe health risks, particularly to the young and elderly, who are more vulnerable to high temperatures. (Associated Press)
Researchers have found that injecting an ageing primate with the protein klotho, which naturally decreases in our bodies with age, can improve its cognitive abilities. This first-of-its-kind study could lead to new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. In tests involving old rhesus macaques, the subjects performed significantly better in spatial memory tasks after a single injection of klotho. The impact lasted for at least two weeks and required relatively low doses. However, the exact mechanism of how klotho enhances cognition is still unclear, as the protein cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Experts suggest this breakthrough might spur human clinical trials and can potentially lead to understanding klotho’s mode of action, crucial for realizing its clinical potential. (Nature)
AI Dungeon, a text-based fantasy game powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3, raises significant questions regarding authorship, ownership, and copyright in the gaming industry. The game allows users to generate narratives with the assistance of a chatbot, blurring lines of ownership. Its EULA vaguely suggests users can use their creations however they want. AI Dungeon, like many similar tools, uses models that have gathered data from human creativity to generate content, which complicates things further, especially when paid features like Stable Diffusion, a text-to-image generator, are used. As these generative AI systems evolve, potential copyright issues may rise. Platforms like Roblox, which use generative AI tools, are cautious and use training data only from assets allowed for reuse by their community. Roblox is also considering an opt-in system for user data to train AI. As AI integration grows in game development, industry stakeholders anticipate a reckoning on copyright and ownership issues. (Wired)
The Vancouver Island marmots, Canada’s most endangered mammals, are making strides towards recovery due to an effective captive breeding program involving facilities in three provinces. The Wilder Institute at the Calgary Zoo announced the birth of 14 marmot pups, while the Toronto Zoo reported three litters amounting to 11 pups. These pups will stay in their respective facilities until autumn when some will join the breeding program while others will be transported to Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington. Here, the non-profit Marmot Recovery Foundation operates a facility where young marmots hibernate under supervision before spring release. This year, the foundation will release 52 marmots into the wild. The Wilder Institute’s new breeding facility includes soundproofed walls for undisturbed sleep, a mound for socializing, and an outdoor area for burrowing. Since 2003, 587 captive-bred marmots have been released into the wild. Despite some predation, these releases and breeding efforts have boosted the wild marmot population to about 200. (The Globe and Mail)
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.
WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)
IMAGE CREDIT: NASA.