PARENTS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.
Madison Bernard and her toddler, Charlotte, were found in a room with drug paraphernalia. Hours later, Charlotte struggled to breathe and subsequently died from a fentanyl overdose. The parents, charged with murder, are among a rising number of U.S. parents facing legal consequences due to the opioid crisis. About 20 states have “drug-induced homicide” laws, targeting drug suppliers. In California, prosecutors are using drunk driving laws to charge parents in child fentanyl overdose cases. Critics argue that these parents, driven by addiction, need help rather than punishment. The lethal nature of fentanyl, even in minute amounts, poses a unique challenge. Parents can also face charges for exposing children to other drugs, but fentanyl’s potency makes it particularly dangerous. Prosecutors aim to deter drug use around children. The National District Attorneys Association has noted an increase in such cases since the pandemic began. In California, the “Watson advisement” is being used to charge parents, likening the knowledge of fentanyl’s dangers to that of drunk driving. Several cases, including that of Bernard and her partner, Evan Frostick, are pending trial. The debate continues on how to address the opioid crisis and protect children effectively. (Associated Press)
SCIENTISTS CHATGPT TOO.
A paper published in the journal Physica Scripta was found to have been assisted by ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, after Guillaume Cabanac, a computer scientist, noticed the phrase “Regenerate response” in the manuscript. The paper’s authors confirmed using ChatGPT for drafting, leading to its retraction due to a breach of ethical policies. Cabanac has identified over a dozen papers with similar ChatGPT phrases, suggesting that many more might exist without disclosure. While publishers like Elsevier and Springer Nature permit the use of ChatGPT if declared, the issue lies in undeclared usage. The fluency of ChatGPT makes detection challenging unless obvious phrases are left in. The rise of such AI tools could empower paper mills, exacerbating the issue of fake manuscripts. The current “publish or perish” ecosystem in science means peer reviewers are stretched thin, often missing such red flags. One potential indicator of AI assistance is false references, which ChatGPT sometimes generates. The increasing sophistication of AI tools in generating content poses challenges for maintaining research integrity. (Nature)
OBESITY DRUG RACE.
Novo Nordisk recently launched its weight-loss drug, Wegovy, in the UK, despite supply constraints. Industry insiders believe this move may have been to get ahead of Eli Lilly’s similar drug, Mounjaro. Additionally, concerns from the UK government and patient advocacy groups about the off-label use of Novo’s diabetes drug, Ozempic, for weight loss might have influenced the decision. Ozempic contains the same active ingredient as Wegovy. Despite supply limitations, Wegovy has significantly contributed to Novo’s market value in Europe. It is already available in the US, Norway, Denmark, and Germany. Given the UK’s obesity statistics, millions could be eligible for Wegovy. However, the drug’s distribution through private providers and the NHS might prioritize those who can afford it. Novo has faced supply challenges in the US and Germany due to high demand. Lilly’s Mounjaro, which has shown more significant weight loss in studies than Wegovy, is expected to be available in the UK for type 2 diabetes treatment later this year. Novo is investing in increasing production capacity, and the launch timing might also be influenced by criticism over Ozempic’s off-label use for weight loss. UBS analysts predict that Mounjaro’s higher efficacy might challenge Novo’s dominance in the obesity market. (Reuters)
AI ART NOT COPYRIGHTABLE.
The US Copyright Office has determined that AI-generated art, specifically “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” by Matthew Allen, cannot be copyrighted. This artwork, which won first place at the Colorado State Fair, was produced using the AI program Midjourney. Despite Allen’s extensive efforts to modify the AI-generated image using software like Adobe Photoshop and Gigapixel AI, the Copyright Office ruled that only parts of the artwork that Allen personally altered could be copyrighted, not the entire piece. This decision aligns with past rulings that require human authorship for copyright eligibility, such as the 2018 case where a monkey-taken photo was deemed public domain. Allen plans to challenge this ruling in court. Similarly, AI researcher Stephen Thalus is appealing a case where his AI system was denied copyright protection. The ongoing debate raises questions about the extent of human intervention required to copyright AI-created art. (Wired)
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BLACK HOLE HUNGER.
Astronomers have discovered a black hole, Swift J0230, that consumes parts of a star similar to our sun. Located in a galaxy approximately 500 million light-years away, this black hole was detected using NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. Every 25 days, Swift J0230 shines brightly for 7 to 10 days before suddenly dimming. This behavior suggests it might be the ‘missing link’ between two known types of black hole outbursts. University of Leicester astrophysicist Kim Page believes there are more such objects yet to be found. The team’s study indicates that a sun-sized star orbits this black hole, losing material equivalent to three Earths during close encounters. This material heats up to 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit, emitting X-rays. Surprisingly, Swift J0230’s mass is estimated between 10,000 to 100,000 times that of our sun, much smaller than typical supermassive black holes. This discovery showcases the potential of the new transient detector on the Swift satellite. (Popular Science)
GOV’T FUNDS INDIGENOUS MEDICINE PUSH.
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has allocated $30 million over five years to establish its first research hub dedicated to Indigenous knowledge, named the Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS). Situated at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, the center aims to integrate Indigenous environmental knowledge with Western scientific methods, respecting local cultures and communities. Sonya Atalay, an archaeologist at UMass Amherst, emphasizes the importance of recognizing Indigenous science conveyed through stories. Jon Woodruff, another co-leader, believes that starting with local communities and then expanding to global perspectives offers a promising approach to address climate change. The center will collaborate with eight hubs in four countries. One project, led by Marco Hatch, will explore an ancient clam farming technique practiced by native communities along the Pacific coast. This method, using terraced gardens, proves to be more productive than conventional techniques. The center will also focus on returning knowledge to Indigenous communities, ensuring they have control over how information is used. Atalay stresses the importance of sharing findings with communities through various mediums, such as comic books and theatre, emphasizing that this approach is central to the scientific process. (Nature)
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.
WORDS: The Biology Guy.
IMAGE CREDIT: SHVETS production.