An Amphibian Plague Recovery Could Spell Good News for Animal Disease

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A decade ago, a deadly fungus ravaged amphibian populations around the world, pushing several species the extinction of several species.

It’s a sadly familiar story on a planet with no shortage of bad news for animals.

But recently researchers have discovered a croak of hope — some species may be able to adapt to this fungus and bounce back from its destruction.

Researchers working in Panama found that nine of 12 species that had been devastated by chytrid fungus had recovered, and that local frogs were less susceptible to the fungus than lab-raised animals. Because the fungus itself didn’t seem to be any different, the researchers suspected the amphibians had developed resistance to the disease, just as if they had been given a vaccine.

Ideally, amphibians everywhere would be able to adapt to the fungus — and do so sooner rather than later, since amphibian populations are rapidly declining and face unique threats from climate change.

Yet the discovery could also be a good sign in the larger scope of animal disease. Fungal diseases have become more prevalent and more deadly in wildlife in around the globe, for reasons that scientists still don’t fully understand. Unsurprisingly, humans — our affinity for global travel, insistence on trading exotic pets from continent to continent, and tendency to destroy habitats — are the number one suspect.

If multiple species were able to adapt to chytrid fungus, maybe they could develop resistance to other potent fungal diseases, such as the white nose fungus that has already wiped out up to 97 percent of some North American bat populations. In fact, this might be happening — there are early signs that some surviving bats are beginning to reproduce again, potentially passing along the genes that make them resistant.

Earth is rapidly becoming less biodiverse; some experts estimate that it’s already below “safe” levels for the planet, and extinction cascades are imminent. Animals have always found ways to adapt to disease and other population threats, but that’s become harder lately, thanks to humans. Indications that species may be able to survive to these new threats are rare, glimmering signs of hope.

The post An Amphibian Plague Recovery Could Spell Good News for Animal Disease appeared first on Futurism.


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South Korea’s Solution to the Plague of “Overtime Culture”: Shut it Down

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In South Korea, it’s not abnormal for workers to slave away for 12 hours a day. Workers burn themselves out to show they are diligent and dedicated. The country’s crazy work culture fueled South Korea’s economic boom, but it’s now taking a toll on its people — birth rates have plummeted (Korea stands at the bottom of the OECD countries for fertility rate), while suicide rates have risen.

The government has decided that things need to change. It’s already reduced the maximum working hours per week from 68 to 52. And now, the government has launched a mandatory shutdown of all employees’ computers at the end of each week the ultimate target is for all computers to be shut off by 7 PM every Friday,  the BBC reports.

The report doesn’t mention how, exactly, offices are supposed to implement the plan, nor penalties for employers and employees that don’t comply. But the measure, which will be rolled out over the next three months, doesn’t exactly seem draconian. So, what’s all the fuss about?

For comparison, let’s glance at some stats about workers in countries like Germany, Denmark or Norway. There, workers spend between 1363 and 1424 per year at the office. For workers in South Korea, however, that time at work looks more like 2069 hours. So for them, starting the weekend at 7 in the evening is a big shift.

Yes, South Korea’s situation is somewhat extreme. But it’s not the only nation that could do with a hard look at its work culture. Employees in the U.S., for example, spend an average 1783 hours at work every year. That’s more than the 1713 hours of the average worker in Japan, which is often labeled a “workaholic” society.

In the U.S., Amazon is free to impose “mandatory overtime” and push its employees to work up to 60 hours a week, according to numerous Glassdoor reviews (the policy came under scrutiny in countries such as the U.K.). The U.S. is also the only country in the developed world that doesn’t grant paid leave to new mothers, who face discrimination or financial hardship if they decide to take time off after giving birth.

Keeping people at the office for so many hours doesn’t mean they’ll actually get more done. After your productivity peaks, research shows, you get tired, are more likely to make mistakes, and may even get sick. But if the message isn’t sinking in, it’s mostly for cultural reasons.

In many countries, working longer hours is an indication of a better worker. The fact that you may just be spending half of your day on Facebook (or other social media site of your preference) doesn’t seem to make a world of difference to the average manager.

The post South Korea’s Solution to the Plague of “Overtime Culture”: Shut it Down appeared first on Futurism.


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The Mutation 15 Update for ‘Plague Inc.’ is Now Available, Spread that Mad Cow Disease!

Plague Inc. [$ 0.99], which I’ve been saying for years now is one of the best dollars you can spend in the App Store, just continues to get better and better. Last month we detailed the new Mutation 15 update which would bring three new scenarios to the game which included the return of the infamous Mad Cow disease; a scenario where the majority of the world’s population has mysteriously vanished making your efforts to spread disease quite complicated; and a near-future scenario where airports are plentiful even in the farthest reaches of the globe which adds a wrinkle to your disease-spreading strategies. Today the Mutation 15 update for Plague Inc. is now available.

Prior to this Mutation 15 update Plague Inc. received the Scenario Creator update back in April which, when combined with the separate Plague Inc: Scenario Creator [$ 2.99] app allowed you to create your very own scenarios and deploy them to the world for the nearly 100 million other Plague Inc. players to enjoy. Even before all this user-created content was available, Plague Inc. proper offered a staggering amount of gameplay for the price, and it’s remained on my iPhone for the more than 5 years it’s been available. It’s just one of the best games in the App Store in my opinion, and I’m more than happy to continue seeing new content coming for it even years after its initial release.


TrueDepth Camera Production Issues Plague iPhone X Supply

You might just have to be extremely lucky to get your hands on an iPhone X this year — at least, if several new reports are any indication.

Taipei-based analyst Jeff Pu of Yuanta Investment Consulting has revised his iPhone X production forecast — and it’s not looking good for many prospective buyers. Specifically, Pu cut his forecast from a predicted 40 million units shipped this year down to 36 million in a new investment note distributed to clients on Thursday.

Back in September, renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities made a similar prediction. While he estimated that Apple would ship 40 million iPhone X units in 2017, he added that supply won’t be able to fully meet the high demand until 2018. So while it won’t be impossible to purchase an iPhone X this year, it’s going to be a lot harder than previous years.

To those who have been following the iPhone X for some time, that’s not exactly news. We’ve heard for months about a “multitude of production issues” and severe supply shortages plaguing the device’s launch. But as for why, Apple’s new TrueDepth Camera might be to blame.

Reportedly, Apple suppliers are still struggling to perfect the manufacturing process of the company’s new high-tech camera module, a tech executive familiar with the iPhone X’s production told Nikkei Asian Review on Thursday. Particularly, suppliers are running into trouble with the TrueDepth’s dot projector system and 3D sensors. Those production woes were first highlighted by Kuo a few weeks ago.

Kuo said that it’s taking more time to assemble the TrueDepth’s infrared dot projector (codenamed “Romeo”) than the infrared camera that analyzes the dot pattern (which is, fittingly, codenamed “Juliet”). Together, these two modules allow Face ID to create and analyze a precise depth map of a face — allowing it heightened security over Touch ID and other facial recognition systems.

The technology behind the TrueDepth system is undeniably cutting-edge. Previously, Kuo said that the tech that makes the facial recognition platform work is “years ahead” of Apple’s competition. He added that Android makers would need two and a half years to develop similar technology to make such a platform feasible.

The iPhone X is likely the most highly anticipated smartphone slated to launch this year. And it represents the largest leap forward for Apple’s flagship device in years. It’s expected to spur an “upgrade super-cycle” for Apple, that is, once supply can meet demand.

Despite supply issues, Pu said that the iPhone X will enter mass production in mid-October. It will begin shipping out from China to launch countries in the next week. The iPhone X will become available for pre-order on Oct. 27, just about two weeks from today, and the device will officially launch the following Friday: Nov. 3.

iDrop News

The WWDC Plague Strikes Again – The TouchArcade Show #310

We’re back from WWDC and … I’m super sick! The WWDC plague this year is extra strong, but after packing my body with cold medication we were ready to rock. The show starts off with answering a couple emails and then we hop right into talking about a ton of the new things announced during the keynote. iOS 11, ARKit, and more are among the thingd we discuss. We chat a bit about Monument Valley 2 [$ 4.99], but WWDC is definitely the star of the show!

Don’t forget to shoot us emails with any questions, feedback, or anything else relevant or irrelevant to We read ’em all, and love decoding messages written entirely in emoji. As always, you can listen to us with the links below… And if you like what you hear, please subscribe and/or drop us a review in iTunes. Much appreciated!

Patreon backers get access to a ultra-rad video version of the podcast, which you can view by clicking here. It includes us playing the games we’re talking about as we’re talking about them, and other fun surprises.

iTunes Link: The TouchArcade Show
Stitcher: The TouchArcade Show via Stitcher Radio for Podcasts [Free]
RSS Feed: The TouchArcade Show
Direct Link: TouchArcadeShow-310.mp3, 60MB


Zombie mayhem in Dead Plague, newly released on Android and iOS

You know that feeling when you’re sunbathing on a beach with a Mojito in one hand and a Rum Punch in the other, when a horde of the undead come bounding out of the palm trees towards you? Well Chinese developer GameSpire has basically given us that with its new mobile action game Dead Plague.

You play a guy in khaki trousers and a cowboy hat, dropped off in the tropics by BIOCORP to investigate an epidemic. But this isn’t an island-wide case of the sniffles. This is an outbreak of zombie flu! Luckily you’re accompanied by a trusty submachine gun to deal with the hungry locals.

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