Wax Worm To Help Humanity Get Rid Of The Packaging Plastics?

wax worm

Thanks to a chance discovery, science now knows that the wax worm is capable of digesting plastic.

Research scientist, Federica Bertocchini, accidentally discovered that wax worms have the ability to digest plastic. This new discovery could be the fix for the worldwide concern over plastic pollution.

How the Wax Worm May Offer a Plastic Pollution Solution

The problem of global pollution from plastic, a material that takes between 100 and 400 years to degrade, is quite overwhelming. More than 5 trillion plastic materials currently pollute the oceans. This impacts entire ecosystems and the human health by extension. Biologist Bertocchini’s surprise finding about the wax worm happened as she noticed this species had infested her beehives.

When Bertocchini found the infestation, she collected the wax worms into plastic bags. Not more than an hour had passed when she came back to the bags. In doing so, she found that the worms had chewed through the plastic and escaped. It was the beginning of a project that would assess the wax worm’s effectiveness in digesting packaging plastics.

How can a wax worm possibly digest plastic? It turns out the wax worm has a unique metabolism that can break down matter that is typically thought of as non-edible. Wax happens to contain a chemical bond that is also found in packaging plastic. Bertocchini notes that this may play a significant role in their ability to digest plastic.

In Bertocchini’s study, 100 worms were able to consume 92 milligrams of plastic. Research also found that a wax worm chrysalis had a similar impact on degrading packaging plastics. Experts now speculate on whether it is the worm’s own digestive enzyme product or bacteria that live in its stomach.

This new finding may guide the scientists’ attention to other organisms capable of digesting similar polluting materials. The mealworm, for instance, is another worm that may have the ability to metabolize plastic. Similar studies in Japan have examined the ability of certain microbes to digest such a mass.

While the findings are not yet solidified, scientists are working hard to isolate the particular enzyme or bacteria that enables wax worms to degrade plastic. Thanks to Bertocchini’s chance observation, there may be a promising remedy for plastic pollution on the horizon.

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To-Do, Wunderlist’s Successor, Is Available For Public Preview

wunderlist public preview

April 19th saw the release of the public preview of the Microsoft To-Do.

April 19th saw the release of the public preview of the Microsoft To-Do. Introduced as a sort of ‘successor’ to Wunderlist, it was nonetheless presented as a smarter, more simple and intuitive task management application.

Microsoft offered details on its new app through a release on its official blog as well as via a video demo. This was released by Ori Artman, the Microsoft To-Do general manager. He stated that this new app should offer an easy method of organizing and planning your day.

To-Do was developed by the same team that created Wunderlist. However, this new app should offer a smarter, more ‘intuitive’ and ‘personal’ way of organizing the everyday schedule. To-Do will be powered and integrate the Office 365 Suite coupled with an intelligent algorithm.

Starting With April 19th, To-Do Is Available For Public Preview

Microsoft made its latest app available for public preview earlier this week. This means that interested users will be able to test the app’s powers as this will come with a web, Android phone, Windows 10 devices, and iPhone versions.

To-Do will come with the staple features for a list. Users will be able to keep track of deadlines by setting reminders, notes, or due dates. They can also personalize their lists as the app will come with a themes collection.

One of To-Do’s more interesting options will come via the “Intelligent Suggestions”. In its blog, Microsoft presented this as an easy way to manage lists, as these can be ‘just as hard to follows as they were to complete’.

As such, the app will come with two options. Each morning, the My Day list will start out clean. From there, users can either chose what they fill it with or turn to the Intelligent Suggestions. As they tap on its symbol, the lightbulb button, they will receive ideas as to how to organize their day. They will see due or upcoming lists, or recently passed ones, and either can be added to day’s list.

Artman also stated that “We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what you think would make To-Do even better. You can talk to us via our in-app contact form, on UserVoice, Twitter or Facebook.”

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M Is Facebook Messenger’s AI Digital Assistant

m phone in hand

Facebook Messenger announced that its AI digital assistant, M, will become available in the US.

Earlier this week, Facebook Messenger announced that it would be making its AI digital assistant, M, available to anyone living in the United States. The social media platform first announced this new feature over a year ago and has been testing it ever since. Now, the limited access assistant will be generally available.

The ‘M Suggestions’ larger scale release was announced through a blog post on the official Facebook Newsroom. In it, the platform offered details about its newest option. M is described as being a “helpful assistant” that should benefit Messenger users. The digital assistant is powered by artificial intelligence. As such, it should be able to learn and get better the more it is fed information.

M’s suggestions should work as follows. They will reportedly pop in an open conversation and offer relevant content ideas and proposals. Through them, it should also “enrich the way people communicate” or the way in which they get things done. M could also be quite useful as it may help reveal Messenger features that the user may not have known.

M Was Developed So As To Grow And Develop Based On Its Use

Initially, M’s suggestions will follow a standard set of actions. Then, these will expand and mule around the users’ preferences and conversation content. As such, M will start by offering sticker suggestions for daily interactions for example “Bye” or “Thank you!”.

The digital assistant will also propose sharing your location during the conversation or even getting a Ride. In group conversations, it will also offer the chance to start a poll. M should also be able to recognize payment discussions and offer a ‘pay/request’ money option.

For the moment, M is only available in the United States. However, Messenger is planning on rolling out the feature globally, “eventually”. It will be available on both iOS and Android.

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Black Insomnia Is The Name Of The Strongest Coffee In The World

black insomnia coffee beans

Black Insomnia or the ‘strongest coffee in the world’ will start being available on the U.S. market.

Black Insomnia Coffee announced last week that it struck a deal with Amazon. This will make its ultra-caffeinated product available on the U.S. market. The company produces what is currently considered as the “world’s strongest coffee” or the Black Insomnia.

These coffee beans first became available last year, in South Africa. Now, they will start being available on the U.S. market as well. However, Black Insomnia comes with its set of warnings. This coffee features an impressive caffeine content, one which could potentially cause health problems.

Black Insomnia Coffee stated that it put these special beans to the test. They were analyzed scientifically, in order to attest its status as the “world’s strongest coffee”. These tests showed that Black Insomnia contains 702 milligrams of caffeine in every 12-ounce cup. A usual such portion contains about 150 milligrams. As it is, Black Insomnia’s caffeine content is also higher than Death Wish’s.

This latter is also a very strong coffee. Nonetheless, it comes with ‘only’ 660 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce cup. The company also pointed out the following. There are, in fact, products with a higher caffeine content. However, these also reportedly contain additives, so the company does not consider them “pure coffee”.

Black Insomnia Comes With A #SLEEPINGISCHEATING Hashtag

The company stated that:

“Our beans may taste great, they may be smooth “with the flavours of nuts and caramel”, but if you can’t handle the kick, it may just not be for you.”

Due to its very high caffeine content, users should be careful before drinking this coffee, especially if they have health issues. As it, the company also stated that it is happy to offer its beverage to users that will not have problems after drinking it.

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Pornhub Added HTTPS Encryption to Protect Users

Pornhub

Corey Price, the VP of Pornhub, said that the website has switched to HTTPS for security purposes.

In the wake of the scandal focused on selling browser history, many website administrators have decided to up their encryption protocols. According to a statement issued by Corey Price, the VP of Pornhub, the website has started to switch to the more secure HTTPS protocol in the hope of protecting the user’s browsing history.

Pornhub is Doing What?

As you know, certain Internet Service Providers can sell your browsing history to shady deal of a truck full of money. Now, if you’re one of those people with a bland search history, you have nothing to fear. However, if you’re one of those who gets bored easily on a Saturday night and tunes into sites such as Pornhub or YouPorn just to spice up things a bit, then it would be awkward for other people to find out what you’ve search for in matters of adult videos.

Now, in the wake of this major scandal which enveloped the whole Internet, more and more website owners have decided to upgrade their security protocols by switching to HTTPS. It would appear that Pornhub is the first adult video hosting website to implement this change.

Enhanced Security, Better Experience

So, what’s up with HTTPS and how does it protect me? As you might now, HTTPS security protocols can encrypt the ongoing connection between your browser of choice and the server. Although this doesn’t mean that you’re fully invisible, it does prevent other Internet Service Providers from seeing and stealing your browsing history.

Apart from the increased security, there are other benefits to switching from HTTP to HTTPS. According to many online experts, HTTPS security protocols greatly increase page loading, and the extra layer or protection keeps most malware elements at bay.

Basically, if someone were, let’s say, take a closer look at what you’ve been searching for on adult website such as Pornhub, they will only see that you’ve just visited the website, but not what you searched for on it.

With this new extra layer of security in place, Corey Price, the VP of Pornhub, declared that users will now be able to browse the site’s more than generous 5-million video library without having to think about that somebody may be stealing his or her browsing history.

Well, it would appear that thanks to a couple of users who lost some their history to a couple of shady ISPs, the Internet has become a safer place again. What’s next?

Image source: Flickr

After Thumbs Down, Banks Are Considering Snap a Good Investment

snapchat app

Underwriters have finally recognized Snapchat as a good investment for Wall Street firms.

Wall Street was buzzing on Monday with the array of banks that gave their blessings to Snapchat. While they highly advised their clients against this initial public offering in the beginning, the vanishing messaging app has just received an impressive number of “buy” ratings. There were a few “hold” ratings among them. As a consequence, several small Wall Street companies considered Snapchat a good investment and hurried to buy some shares.

Snap Had its Shares Soar to $23.83 which Signaled a Good Investment

On Monday, the shares of Snap Inc. soared almost 5%. The event came soon after several IPO underwriters reevaluated the company and gave it a much needed “buy” classification. It did not pass an entire month since Snap went public.

While this was the boldest IPO move coming from the tech industry over the past three years, the trading was unstable. Many investors frowned upon the company losing massive waves of users. They were enticed by the upgraded copycats over other social media platforms that offered them more features than Snap.

In light of the lost momentum, analysts registered either neutral or negative ratings. Despite a powerful start, Snap turned out to be one of the most disapproved stocks on Wall Street. However, things changed for the better on Monday. At least eight banks related to IPO released positive ratings. Some of them were even Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. As a consequence, Snap had its shares soar 4.79% to $23.83.

Analysts Changed their Ratings Due to Large Snap Potential

The reason behind this sudden change in the evaluation was the potential of the company. Snap Inc. is currently dealing with an accelerated decrease in users number, strong rivals, and negative revenue because of massive expenses. However, analysts expect for all this to turn for the better.

Their explanation lies in the difference between complex business formats like Facebook and the startup Snap. While others tapped into a large list of monetization strategies, Snapchat is still at the beginning of converting its business into a profitable one.

Thus, Snap won the day by revealing its growth potential. Moreover, analysts consider that the remaining community that chose not to leave Snapchat is loyal to their favorite social media. Once the number of users grows steady, publishers will start asking for more ad spots on the ephemeral messaging chat.

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Citrix Considers New Sale Process Under Goldman Sachs Supervision

citrix systems headquarters

Citrix Systems is considering a new sale process at the advice of Goldman Sachs.

Citrix Systems Inc. has been specializing for 28 years in cloud computing technologies as well as server, networking, and SaaS. However, continuous financial evolution impelled the company to seek a new sale process. Goldman Sachs plays an important role here, by advising the tech organization on best suitors for their cloud services.

The tech company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is working with employees at Goldman Sachs  Group Inc. to organize an effective yet discreet sale process. The consulting firm is looking to propose the deal to potential buyers which can also include private equity firms. The sources of this thread have been contacted by publication Bloomberg. However, they refused to have their identities disclosed as this is a private matter.

Potential Suitors Have to Deal with High Valuation

Nonetheless, this is going to be a difficult task even for Goldman Sachs. The finalists of the sales process would most probably have to split the bid between them given the large market valuation of Citrix Systems. The buyout firms are usually unwilling to team up with others, which will lead to a complicated transaction. The same sources pointed out to an increased market value of the tech company over the years. This evolution might make it difficult for buyers to offer a premium deal for Citrix.

On Monday, the shares have already increased by 6.8% to $84.93. Thus, the total value of the company rose to $13.3 billion. Moreover, during the last 12 months, the stock was boosted by around 30%. This result comes in contradiction with the claims of the management, according to which they are more after a conservative prospect for the upcoming four quarters. Neither Goldman Sachs nor Citrix Systems wanted to comment the news.

Overview of Recent History Prior to the Sale Process

In 2015, Citrix Systems included Jesse Cohn, a partner of Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund company, to its board. At the same time, the tech organization named Robert Calderoni as the executive chairman. As a result of these changes, the company underwent a series of reviews as far as strategic and operational points are concerned.

It was only last July when Citrix Systems announced the evolution of its GoTo business thanks to a merger with LogMec Inc. The deal was worth $1.8 billion which led to a collaboration with its main rivals in online meeting organization.

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Science Discovered the Secrets behind Memory Athletes

brain switch illustration

Memory athletes have their brains not so different from normal people’s brains.

Training memory is not so different from training your body. While avid gym goers can reach a point where they can dead lift 500 pounds, so memory athletes can remember 500 digits in five minutes. At least this is what a new study suggests namely that anybody can train their minds to break unthinkable limits. This superpower is just a matter of learning.

Whenever most people hear that a champion managed to memorize 164 names of as many people in just 16 minutes, they would attribute this success to an innate ability. However, science begs to differ. According to a new study, anybody who practices memorizing exercises on a daily basis can recreate such an impressive performance (at least during their best days).

On Thursday, Neuron published a new research paper that proved that anybody could become memory athletes. In the process of turning into one, people can also experience brain changes at large scale. The first part of the study wanted to discover brain differences between memory athletes and normal people. They paired each champion with a participant of the same gender, age, and IQ. They performed anatomical scans and fMRIs both during rest and memory effort.

The conclusion was that both parties had similar brain regions. On the other hand, what differed was the brain connectivity during passive and active states, which where much stronger in champions. Thus, researchers concluded that there was no special hardware that made people champions. The second part of the study involved 51 participants. None of them participated in memory training before. They were divided into the main experimental group and two control groups.

The experimental group trained their memories for half an hour a day for six weeks. They learned how to link new information to familiar places. The active control group performed memory tasks for six weeks. However, these exercises do not affect long-term memory. The passive control group received no treatment.

The results showed that the two control groups experienced no improvements. However, the experimental group recorded remarkable performance. While the structure of their brains remained intact, scientists noticed more powerful connection patterns to the resemblance of memory athletes. This change was persistent both when subjects were passive and when they performed memory exercises. This experiment showed that learning is similar to training our bodies. Memory exercises order the brain to adapt to difficult tasks.

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Meteorologists Announce Severe Weather for Alabama on Wednesday

severe weather

Weather experts issued a warning for severe weather for Wednesday, March 1st. Hail will most likely mark the first day of spring for Alabama residents, forecasters predict.

Weather experts are growing ever more confident that Alabama residents will be forced to remain indoors on the first day of spring. However, the warnings don’t stop there. Meteorologists also announced the weather is going to take a turn for the worst on Monday and Tuesday, as well. Nevertheless, forecasters say March 1st has the highest probabilities of severe weather.

Severe Weather Setting In

On Wednesday, weather experts predict a cold front moving into the state with storms breaking out ahead and along of it. This got most forecasters worried, as they could reach severe limits. Experts with the National Weather Service say that all forms of severe weather are possible, including hail, as the main concern, damaging gusts of wind, and even small tornadoes. Hence, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center experts placed the state of Alabama under severe weather risk on Wednesday.

Most affected will be central and northern Alabama with numerous storms, high in intensity. At the same time, however, some central regions in the state will be spared the severe storms but will see, nonetheless, powerful gusts of wind and only minor storms scattered around. Ultimately, the rest of Alabama will see only low-intensity storms here and there.

Regions Affected

The weather is already taking a turn for the worst, say National Weather Service experts, as a few strong to severe storms are expected to hit Alabama on Monday, February 27th. Hence, forecasters are keeping a close eye on gusts of wind exceeding 60 mph and the potential for hail associated with strong storms that could make an appearance in the evening. Meteorologists say that if any strong storms should form, they will do so mainly west of a line from Mobile to Evergreen to Camden. The storms predicted for Wednesday, however, will hit along the U.S. Highway 84 and move north.

The weather services warn Alabama residents about severe storms and say that a brief tornado can also make an appearance this week. Birmingham’s National Weather Service experts say the window for severe weather on March 1st appears to be between noon and 10 p.m. Meteorologists added regions along and north of a line from Mount Chaha to Calera to Cuba will most likely be subjected to severe storms. After the weather settles, experts believe the rest of the week will be drier and more seasonable.

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CDC Researchers’ Work Halted Over Equipment Concern Regarding Air Hoses

air hoses

Multiple reports reveal CDC researchers have been struggling with the faulty air hoses for four years before officials considered replacing them.

Work at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest-security labs suddenly came to a halt because of growing concerns regarding the safety equipment researchers use when dealing with deadly viruses. More specifically, several issues have been reported about the air hoses that connect to the full-body suits that keep the scientists safe from exposure to life-threatening compounds.

Air Hoses Issue

Almost 100 scientists used the air hoses inside the agency’s BSL-4 (biosafety level) laboratories in Atlanta since they opened almost a decade ago, in 2008. However, they may have never been designed to be used for delivering breathable air, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials on Friday, February 17th.

The agency further said that investigators learned about the issue on Monday, as they were proceeding to order replacement units for the first time since the inauguration of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory building, worth $214 million. However, the agency’s associate director for laboratory science and safety, Steve Monroe, says the action was being taken out of an abundance of caution and there was no need to suspect the air hoses contained any traces of toxic materials. Nevertheless, researchers at CDC will inspect the air coming out of them to be sure it meets the federal standards for breathable air. Steve Monroe expects the results to fly in next week.

Researchers’ Past Experiences with the Faulty Air Hoses

According to a lab report of nearly four years ago, an air hose disconnected without warning from a researcher’s full-body suit as he was working with hazardous substances. More worrying is the fact that the scientist in question emphasized his experience by saying it happened more than once. The report was one of many that described the same issue with the air hoses.

Another scientist described how his air hose disconnected from his suit. Fortunately, his colleague rushed to his aid and held the air hose in place as best as he could. The same day, the agency issued a warning to 40 lab workers reminding them to make sure their protective full-body suits are in working order and to be most watchful of their air hoses’ connection to the suit.

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