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The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be tested in a new trial after questions over its data

The news: The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine will be tested in a new global trial, AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot has told Bloomberg. Previously it had been expected to just add an arm to its existing US trial. The news comes amid criticism of the way it has collected and presented its data so far. The specifics: An announcement on Monday that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could...


THURSDAY 26. NOVEMBER 2020


The apps keeping Rio’s residents safe from stray bullets

Julia Borges was at her cousin’s 12th birthday party when she was shot. The 17-year-old had been standing on a third-floor balcony when a stray bullet hit her in the back, lodging in the muscle between her lungs and aorta. That was November 8. Luckily, Borges was taken to hospital and has since recovered. Many are not so fortunate. At least 106 people have been killed by stray bullets in Rio...


WEDNESDAY 25. NOVEMBER 2020


Spaceflight does some weird things to astronauts’ bodies

Astronaut Scott Kelly famously lived and worked on the International Space Station for 340 days—the longest time an American has spent in space. His mission gave scientists some vital insight into what happens to the human body during long-duration stays in orbit. That’s because Kelly has an identical twin, Mark (also an astronaut, and now soon to be a US senator). The Kelly twins offered...

How to make the next election even more secure

In the last few days, a cascade of election results from battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan have been certified—delivering key defeats to President Trump and his continued failed attempts to block the result. Certifications will continue in the coming days before the Electoral College, and later Congress, make the results official. This process is what is supposed to...


TUESDAY 24. NOVEMBER 2020


The Zoom-fatigued person’s guide to connecting virtually on Thanksgiving

Lisa Long is immunosuppressed and suffers from chronic pain. That means that since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the US in March, she and her family, which includes her two daughters, 11 and 14, have been isolating at home outside St. Louis, save for the occasional doctor’s visit. Visiting family is out of the question for Thanksgiving. But Long will get to be with her nieces and...

Building resilient supply chains

Turbulent times can expose weaknesses in distribution chains, putting stress on chokepoints and reducing access to critical components, suppliers, and capital. The ability to respond to changes rapidly and effectively depends on a variety of assets and business capabilities: replacing or augmenting supply sources in response to partner inventory issues or trade war-induced tariffs or restrictions,...


MONDAY 23. NOVEMBER 2020


Biden names John Kerry climate czar, in a recommitment to global cooperation

President-elect Joe Biden named John Kerry to the newly created role of climate czar, a move that underscores the incoming administration’s commitment to an international-focused approach to the issue and recognition of its strategic importance. Kerry, the former secretary of state, is a diplomatic heavyweight who helped piece together the landmark Paris climate agreement during the Obama...

China launches its first mission to bring moon rocks back to Earth

China launched its Chang’e 5 mission to the moon early Tuesday morning local time from the country’s launch site on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. The country is seeking to bring soil and rock samples from the lunar surface back to Earth for the first time in its history, for scientific study.  What’s going to happen: Chang’e 5 should make it to the moon on November 27. The...

Some prominent exposure apps are slowly rolling back freedoms

Many countries launched contact tracing and exposure notification apps early in the pandemic to help slow the spread of covid-19. Now some of the most prominent are beginning to change their approach to privacy and transparency, according to MIT Technology Review’s covid tracing tracker. The tracker, which launched in May, looks at the policies and safeguards around contact tracing apps...

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is up to 90% effective, according to interim data

The news: Oxford University and AstraZeneca have reported that their covid-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective, according to interim data from the Phase III trial. The trial found that the vaccine was 70% effective when the data of two different dosing regimes was combined, one of which was 90% and the other 62%. The 90% effective dosing regime used a halved first dose and a full second dose,...


SATURDAY 21. NOVEMBER 2020


After Trump fires CISA’s director, the agency is poised to become even more powerful

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump fired Chris Krebs, who was one of the government’s most senior cybersecurity officials. Trump fired him—by tweet—because Krebs had thoroughly debunked election disinformation, much of which came from the White House itself. Trump had appointed Krebs director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in 2017. CISA is charged...


FRIDAY 20. NOVEMBER 2020


How role-playing a dragon can teach an AI to manipulate and persuade

An AI that completes quests in a text-based adventure game by talking to the characters has learned not only how to do things, but how to get others to do things. The system is a step toward machines that can use language as a way to achieve their goals. Pointless prose: Language models like GPT-3 are brilliant at mimicking human-written sentences, churning out stories, fake blogs, and Reddit...

Pfizer wants authorization to start distributing its vaccine by Christmas

Pfizer will apply for emergency permission to distribute its covid-19 vaccine in the US and is ready to start shipping the shots within “hours” of getting a government green light, the firm said today. It is the first such application from any of the makers of covid-19 vaccines that are currently in development. If it is approved, the first people to get the shot are likely to be doctors,...

Rocket Lab has successfully recovered a booster for the first time ever

New Zealand company Rocket Lab has hit a key milestone with the successful launch and recovery of its flagship Electron rocket. The mission, the firm’s 16th so far, included a soft parachute landing of the first stage booster into the ocean for the first time. The mission: Electron was launched around 1:46 a.m. local time this morning from the company’s launch site on the southern tip...

Do digital contact tracing apps work? Here’s what you need to know.

In the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, several competing projects launched around a deceptively simple concept: your phone could alert you if you’d crossed paths with someone who later tested positive. One system for these exposure notifications quickly caught on. It was designed, in an improbable act of cooperation, by Apple and Google, which released the first version in May.  How...


THURSDAY 19. NOVEMBER 2020


The promise of the fourth industrial revolution

New technologies can optimize the way people work. When implemented thoughtfully, such innovations can improve overall business processes. Those changes are accepted as part of progress. But when a technology changes how and where people live and their relationships to one another and upends economies, it merits the term “revolution.” Because it changes everything. The...

US emissions plummeted this year – for all the wrong reasons

The good news: US greenhouse gas emissions are on track to fall 9% this year, marking the lowest levels of climate pollution in at least three decades, according to the research group BloombergNEF. The bad news: The dramatic decline is almost entirely attributable to the pandemic-driven economic downturn, not any fundamental and lasting shifts in our policies, behaviors and practices. BNEF...

The second-largest radio telescope in the world is shutting down

The US National Science Foundation has just announced it is going to begin decommissioning the famous Arecibo Observatory, the 1,000-meter-long, 900-ton radio telescope located in Puerto Rico. It’s a huge blow to the astronomy community, which used Arecibo for 57 years to conduct an enormous amount of space and atmospheric research.  What happened: Arecibo has withstood decades of wear and...

Why we should be funding more Solyndras

President-elect Joe Biden won the US election in part by running on an ambitious climate platform promising to invest heavily to avert climate catastrophe while creating millions of well-paying jobs. But the question of how Biden’s proposed nearly $2 trillion in green investment will get spent, and what other measures the government will take to…

Asia’s biggest climate migration

On May 20, Super Cyclone Amphan was expected to make landfall in the Indian state of West Bengal. That morning, as the wind picked up, Mitali Mondol and her husband, Animesh, fled their house, leaving behind everything they owned. The Mondols live in Gosaba, an island in the Sundarbans, an archipelago that is home to the world’s largest mangrove forest. They knew of only one flood shelter. It...


WEDNESDAY 18. NOVEMBER 2020


What is AI? We made this to help.

Defining what is, or isn’t artificial intelligence can be tricky (or tough). So much so, even the experts get it wrong sometimes. That’s why MIT Technology Review’s Senior AI Reporter Karen Hao created a flowchart to explain it all. In this bonus content our Host Jennifer Strong and her team reimagine Hao’s reporting, gamifying it…