Apple pours millions into ad buy featuring band best known for tweaking Spotify

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Variety reports today that Apple selected Vulfpeck, a band “best-known in industry circles for gaming Spotify to raise money for a tour,” to provide the music for a recent Apple Pay commercial — a feat that gave its song $ 22.5 million in paid TV exposure. The selection is said to be part of an Apple shift back towards licensing mu…Read More
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By Tweaking a Single Gene, Scientists Trick Plants Into Being More Water-Efficient

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Scientists have discovered a way to make plants more water-efficient, thereby enabling them to grow faster and produce more crops. The research, published to the journal Nature Communications, is part of an international project known as Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, or RIPE.

Katarzyna Glowacka, a postdoctoral researcher at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led the project. Together, she and the research team modified the expression of a single gene to increase the levels of a photosynthetic protein known as PsbS in tobacco plants.

Increasing PsbS essentially tricks the plant into partially closing its stomata — tiny pores on the leaves that allow carbon dioxide to enter for photosynthesis, but simultaneously let water escape. With the stomata only partially open, the tobacco plant doesn’t lose as much water.

The amount of carbon dioxide the plant has, surrounding humidity, as well as the quality and quantity of light can impact whether the stomata are open or closed. The PsbS proteins signal to the plant how much light is nearby, so an artificially increased level of PsbS indicating that there isn’t enough light for photosynthesis, prompting the stomata to close.

Ultimately, tweaking the amount of PsbS increased the tobacco plant’s water-efficiency, or the ratio of how much carbon dioxide enters the plant to how much water is lost, by 25 percent without sacrificing the plant’s yield.

“These plants had more water than they needed, but that won’t always be the case,” Glowacka explained in a press release. “When water is limited, these modified plants will grow faster and yield more — they will pay less of a penalty than their non-modified counterparts.”

PsbS is found in all plants, meaning the experiment done with tobacco could work for other plants too. To prove this, the team will now attempt to improve the water-efficiency of food crops, and test the crops’ efficiency when water is limited.

RIPE isn’t the first project that has tried to try to improve crop efficiency. Last year, researchers from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York used CRISPR gene-editing to increase the yield of tomatoes; in 2015, the DuPont company used CRISPR to modify corn and wheat. RIPE’s work is yet another example of genetically modifying plants technically speaking, yet it only changes the plant’s behavior, rather than its shape or size.

Another postdoctoral researcher at the IGB, Johannes Kromdijk, said in the same press release: “Making crop plants more water-use efficient is arguably the greatest challenge for current and future plant scientists.” Undoubtedly, despite the continuous public debate surrounding whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe sources of food, these modifications will continue to improve crop quality and resiliency.

The post By Tweaking a Single Gene, Scientists Trick Plants Into Being More Water-Efficient appeared first on Futurism.

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Facebook tweaking News Feed to show you more posts from friends and family

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Heads up, Facebook users, because the giant social network has announced that it’s tweaking its News Feed once again.

Facebook has announced that it’s updating the News Feed to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” To achieve this, Facebook will try to predict which posts you’ll want to interact with your friends on and then show those higher in your News Feed. 

Facebook will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content.

These changes mean that Facebook will show you less public content, such as posts from publishers and businesses. If there are specific Pages that you’d like to make sure that you see posts from, you can check “See First in News Feed Preferences”.

As for why this change is being made, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook has gotten feed back that posts from businesses, brands, and media are “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” Zuckerberg goes on to say that Facebook has looked at academic research and done research of its own and determined that it can be good for a person’s well-being to connect with people they care about on social media.

These News Feed changes will be rolling out over the next few months.

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