Around the country and the world, coronavirus lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are being lifted as the rate of new infections begins to slow. That shouldn't be interpreted as humans having suddenly beaten the virus; local outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 are going to be something we contend with until there's an effective vaccine or widespread immunity. For public health officials, having as much notice as possible about those outbreaks will be vital. And it's possible that sewage sludge might be able to provide that notice.
The idea is pretty simple. We know that infected humans shed SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in feces, so you can take samples of sewage sludge, look for the virus's genetic materials, and thereby get an idea of the viral load of the pooping population.
In fact, the idea of using our sewers for biosurveillance isn't a new one. I first heard the concept at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting in 2011, when biotechnology companies like PacBio and Oxford Nanopore proposed using their advanced new platforms to sequence the DNA in sewage for public health intelligence. But the idea was old hat even then—Israel has been monitoring sewage for signs of polio outbreaks since 1989, and it detected outbreaks in 1991, 2002, and 2013.
The US president is expected to sign an executive order following a row with Twitter.
Today's Dealmaster is something of a special edition of our usual tech deals roundup, as it's highlighted by exclusive discount codes we've secured for a bevy of Anker charging gear.
Our selection covers 15 different devices from the popular accessory maker, including USB-C wall chargers, Qi wireless chargers, USB-C hubs, portable batteries, fast Lightning charging cables, and power strips. The deals bring several items down to their all-time lowest prices and all of them well below their typical going rates. You can find the codes for each individual item below—just apply them at checkout to see the respective discount. Anker says they'll be valid until June 4.
Some highlights here include the Anker PowerPort PD 2 wall charger, which is down to a new low of $16 with the code "ARSTECH25". This is a 30W charger that includes both an 18W USB-C Power Delivery port for charging many newer smartphones at maximum speeds as well as a 12W USB-A port for powering up a second device simultaneously. The PowerCore Metro Slim 10000 PD, meanwhile, is a newer power bank with a similarly fast 18W USB-C PD port and a fairly thin (0.59 inches) fabric-coated design; it's about $15 off and down to a new low of $30 with the code "ARSTECH11".
This week, Apple released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, rounding out a series of system software updates that has rolled out to various Apple platforms (iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS) over the course of a week or so.
This version of macOS is primarily focused on a new battery management feature similar to one already introduced in iOS. It helps prolong the life of the device's physical battery by moderating charging based on users' habits.
With "Battery Health Management" in macOS 10.15.5, Apple aims to increase the life of the lithium-ion battery in each MacBook by limiting that laptop's maximum charge level when plugged in based on analysis of your charging patterns and the battery's temperature history. Charging to full unnecessarily can reduce the number of cycles before a lithium-ion battery becomes less reliable.
Hot off the launch of an interchangeable camera system earlier this month, Raspberry Pi is introducing a new configuration of the Pi4: a model with a whopping 8GB of RAM. The new, highest-end config for the Pi 4 will run you $75.
The 8GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4 has been long rumored, thanks to Raspberry Pi itself leaking the existence of an 8GB model. The blog post reveals that an 8GB model was always a possibility and says, "We were so enthusiastic about the idea that the non-existent product made its way into both the Beginner’s Guide and the compliance leaflet."
The Raspberry Pi 4 launched last year with a faster SoC, more RAM, dual micro-HDMI, USB 3.0 support, and a USB-C charging port. In addition to the usual server and hobbyist uses, Raspberry Pi promoted performance on par with an "entry-level x86 PC" and dual-monitor desktop uses.
Shortly after sunrise on the morning of February 1, 2003, Doug Hurley waited on the long runway at Kennedy Space Center for a vehicle that would never come.
Only recently graduated to becoming a full-fledged astronaut, one of Hurley's first tasks was serving as a "Cape Crusader" for the corps, meaning he watched out for the Astronaut Office's interests in Florida. On this morning, he was part of a small cadre of astronauts to greet seven returning crew members on board the space shuttle Columbia.
As he waited, Columbia broke into pieces as it passed over Texas and other southern US states along its ground track to Florida. Hurley's friends died as their spacecraft burned up and broke apart during their reentry to Earth's atmosphere. From the beginning of his career, then, Doug Hurley profoundly understood the risks of the profession he had just entered into.
A ground-penetrating radar survey in 2018 found a 20-meter Viking ship buried just beneath the surface of a farmer’s field in Østfold, Norway. At the time, archaeologists decided that the rare find was safest where it was. But recent analysis of a wood sample taken in 2019 reveals that although the ship looks remarkably well-preserved, it’s actually being eaten away by fungus. And that means it’s time for a rescue mission.A Viking burial
The intended excavation is being led by archaeologist Jan Bill, curator of the Viking Ship Collection at Norway’s Museum of Cultural History, and his colleagues at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU). When they start digging in June, they’ll be the first archaeologists in a century to excavate a Viking ship.
The site, called Gjellestad, is especially interesting—and especially complicated. It’s a ship from the period when Scandinavian seafarers were raiding and settling their way around the North Sea and Atlantic—but it’s also the tomb of a Norse ruler. “Ship graves of this size were built for persons from the uppermost echelons in society—we would tend to call them kings and queens today, possibly also jarls,” Bill told Ars.
The Trump administration is putting the final touches on a sweeping executive order designed to punish online platforms for perceived anti-conservative bias. Legal scholar Kate Klonick obtained a draft of the document and posted it online late Wednesday night.
"In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online," the draft executive order states. "This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power."
The document claims that online platforms have been "flagging content as inappropriate even though it does not violate any stated terms of service, making unannounced and unexplained changes to policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints, and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse."
Lamborghini chose last year's Frankfurt auto show to debut its Sián FKP 37 hypercar. Based on the Lamborghini Aventador, the Sián FKP 37 teaches that old dog a new trick through the addition of a supercapacitor hybrid system, adding an additional 34hp (25kW) to help out the 774hp (577kW) V12 engine. Only 63 Sian FKP 37s will be built, and even if you have the $3.7 million asking price, they're already sold out. But from June 1st, there's a cheaper way to get your own Sián FKP 37, as long as you don't mind it being 1:8 scale. That's when the Lego Technic version comes out—a 3,696-piece kit that will cost $379.99.
Highly detailed technical models of cars have been a thing for Lego's Technic line since the late 1970s. Building techniques have changed a lot in that time, as has the array of Technic parts, resulting in a remarkably accurate-looking scale model of the outrageous Lamborghini. But in keeping with more than four decades of Technic car models, this one still has functional suspension, steering, moving pistons inside its engine, and a working eight-speed paddle-shift gearbox.
The Sián FKP 37 is one of the latest in Lego's range of 18+ sets, although that age rating is for the difficulty of the build, not any NSFW content. Building it should occupy at least a weekend, if my experience of the Lego Technic LMP2 car is anything to go by (and no, I still haven't disassembled that one to fix a tiny error that I made early on). Lego and Lamborghini have also put together a series of 13 videos, accessible via QR codes in two included booklets, that it says "delve into the inspiration behind different stages of the design."
Millions in the UK will soon be asked to monitor who they have been near to combat coronavirus.
Despite extra testing of the Windows 10 May 2020 update, the rollout has already thrown up multiple driver problems.
One minister has compared the UK and France's outlier approaches to their nuclear deterrent effort.