• U.S.
    Bloomberg

    A Google Plan to Wipe Out Mosquitoes Appears to Be Working

    (Bloomberg) -- An experimental program led by Google parent Alphabet Inc. to wipe out disease-causing mosquitoes succeeded in nearly eliminating them from three test sites in California’s Central Valley.Stamping out illness caused by mosquitoes is one of Alphabet unit Verily’s most ambitious public-health projects. The effort appears to be paying off, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology on Monday. Verily is also running coronavirus triage and testing in parts of California. Bradley White, the lead scientist on the Debug initiative, said mosquito-suppression is even more important during the pandemic, so that outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever don’t further overwhelm hospitals.Since 2017, the company has released millions of lab-bred Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into several Fresno County neighborhoods during mosquito season. The insects are bred in Verily labs to be infected with a common bacterium called Wolbachia. When these male mosquitoes mate with females in the wild, the offspring never hatch.In results of the trial published on Monday, Verily revealed that throughout the peak of the 2018 mosquito season, from July to October, Wolbachia-infected males successfully suppressed more than 93% of the female mosquito population at field test sites. Only female mosquitoes bite.Working with the local mosquito abatement district and MosquitoMate, which developed the mosquitoes originally, Verily released as many as 80,000 mosquitoes each day in three neighborhoods from April 2018 through October 2018. In most collections, per night Verily found one or zero female mosquitoes in each trap designed to monitor the population. At other sites without the lab-bred bugs, there were as many as 16 females per trap.“We had a vision of what this should look like and we managed to do that pretty perfectly,” said Jacob Crawford, a senior scientist on the Debug project.In the arid climate of the Central Valley, disease is an unlikely result of a mosquito bite. But in the hot, humid regions of the tropics and subtropics, diseases caused by the Aedes aegypti, such as dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya, kill tens of thousands of people every year. Releasing masses of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into the wild might wipe out entire populations of deadly mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.Verily is not the only organization pursuing an end to mosquito-borne disease. Microsoft Corp. co-Founder Bill Gates has pledged more than $1 billion to help wipe out malaria, including controversial efforts to genetically modify mosquitoes. Infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachia, which occurs naturally in some mosquito species, is a popular approach rooted in an old insect control strategy called sterile insect technique. What Verily’s efforts offer is not just evidence that Wolbachia can help wipe out disease-causing mosquitoes but potential ways to make such efforts work on a massive scale. Last year, Verily released about 14.4 million mosquitoes in Fresno County.Initial small-scale Fresno trials in 2016, run by an upstart called MosquitoMate, were the first time male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the bacteria were ever released in the U.S. The following year, Verily stepped in, bringing more advanced technology to the breeding and release process that could make it possible to expand such efforts to entire cities or regions.The new paper details many of those technologies, such as an automated process for separating male and female mosquitoes in the lab, and software that helps to determine exactly where to release altered male mosquitoes for maximum effectiveness.“Once you try to start rearing hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes a week, you run into all sorts of problems,” said White. “Mosquitoes may be everywhere, but they are really finicky and difficult to grow.”Verily has expanded its partnerships to include Singapore’s National Environment Agency. Trials there have entered a fourth phase to cover 121 urban residential blocks and about 45,000 residents. Verily is eyeing partnerships in South America and is in talks to launch in the Caribbean.Within a few years, said Crawford, Verily hopes the program will cover entire regions. Without intervention, he said, the public health toll of mosquito-born illness will only grow.“This is something that’s not going away on its own,” he said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Business
    Refinery29

    How Tall Is Barron Trump? A Very Serious Investigation

    The journalistic tradition of determining the height of a public figure is a long and storied one. While we can’t be certain that fledgling New York Times reporters hunted down clues in 1860 about the comparative heights of presidential candidates Abraham Lincoln (6’4”) and Stephen A. Douglas (5’4”), there’s no doubt that the men’s relative stature was of great interest to the electorate at large. (After all, Douglas’s nickname was “Little Giant” and, some 160 years later, Lincoln remains famous for his height — among, you know, other things.)In more recent years, similar investigations have been launched to determine the heights of everyone from Tom Cruise (5’7”) to Jake Gyllenhaal (5’11”) to Adam Driver (6’3” aka So Big). There’s even a website, the estimable CelebHeights, devoted to the topic. (Which, by the way, the only better place on the entire internet is FamousBirthdays, which affords a really generous interpretation of the word “famous.”)But, it isn’t only celebrities whose heights are of interest today, politicians’ heights are still a topic of conversation; the myth that the taller of any two presidential candidates is the one who always wins is still pervasive, if demonstrably false. However, while some people might be interested in the respective heights of Bernie Sanders (6’0”) and Joe Biden (also 6’0”), or are perhaps invested in the height of President Donald Trump (either 6’ ½”, down from 6’2” at his peak, or 6’3”), we are only interested in the height of one of the other current residents of the White House: Barron Trump. At 14 years old, Barron is the president’s youngest child, but he’s also, possibly, his tallest. As a recent photo of Barron revealed, the teenager is now towering over his parents, with whom he is currently sheltering in place, despite being not “as happy as he could be.” We can only hope that Barron’s Oedipus complex one day brings this national nightmare to an end. pic.twitter.com/jbO6BcULuF — Daniel Denvir () April 6, 2020But, “towering over his parents” is not a height. So, how tall is Barron Trump?Interestingly, the internet has no definitive answers. A quick Google of “how tall is Barron Trump” simply confirms the fact that Barron is, indeed, tall, and then offers up the information that Donald Trump is 6’3” — though that is almost certainly not true, as the President has, in the past, said his height was 6’2” and, as is the case with many septuagenarians, is presumed to have shrunk a bit in stature. Still, though, Barron is taller than his father, so is 6’1” — at least.  Barron is also taller than his mother, Melania, whose height is said to be 5’11”; Melania is most frequently photographed wearing heels, which would make her appear to be closer to 6’1” or 6’2,” making Barron even taller than that.As is the case with pretty much all 14-year-olds, Barron wasn’t always as tall as he is now. (Obviously!) But because Barron has been not infrequently photographed during the precise years when most people experience significant growth spurts, his suddenly looming stature has become a point of interest. Where once it was possible to just say about Barron, “wow, he’s tall,” as compared to his notably tall parents, now there are calls for NBA scouts to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, because, wow, he’s tall.Barron and his parents are not the only tall people in the Trump family. Don Jr. (6’1”), Eric (6’4”), and Ivanka (5’11”) are also objectively tall. Tiffany is not particularly tall (5’8”), but that’s not really so surprising, is it? Another prominent member of the Trump clan, Jared Kushner, is also tall (6’3”), and is one of those people whose height can be measured beyond mere inches, and verges into emotional measurement territory. (Kushner has been described as being “Slenderman-tall,” by me, to a friend. Slenderman is a cool 8’.)Unfortunately, there are virtually no recent photos of Barron with any of his siblings or sibling-in-laws that we could use to determine if Barron is definitively taller than either Eric (6’4”) or Kushner (6’3” or 8’, depending). But, that’s fine anyway, since the one thing of which we can be certain is that no matter how tall Barron is now, he’ll be taller soon, since most boys don’t finish growing until they’re 16, which is almost a full two years from now for Barron. And, according to one internet height predictor tool, by then, Barron might be 6’7″. To which we say, good for you, Barron. Good for you. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Was This Barron Trump Joke Okay?Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish, & Ali Wong Team UpTrailer For Beware The Slenderman Is Terrifying

  • Style
    GQ

    Jared Kushner Brings an End to the Era of the Skinny Suit

    What was once an emblem of stylish populism is now the uniform of Kushner and his would-be government disruptors.

  • Business
    Good Morning America

    This woman sewed face masks for 12 hours straight for hospital, grocery store employees on front lines

    Hilary Cohen has always been at home at her sewing machine. Monroy, who learned about Cohen’s sew-a-thon after she received her inquiry online, said she was stunned by the idea that a stranger would be willing to donate to the hospital.