The Download: cancer-detecting blood tests, and crypto’s big Merge

This is today’s version of DownloadAnd the Our daily newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the world of technology.

US begins trial of blood tests that promise to detect cancers early

news: The United States is launching a national trial to evaluate the effectiveness of tests designed to detect signs of multiple types of cancer in blood taken from a patient’s arm. The goal is to help determine how blood test results for cancer are interpreted, and should provide a standard approach to launching cancer screening studies as companies flood the field with new tests.

why does it matter: Most cancers can’t be reliably screened for before symptoms start — instruments like mammograms and Pap smears are the exceptions, not the rule. Most of these early detection tests for multiple cancers work by looking for remnants of cancer cells that burst after the immune system attacks them. Debris from dead tumors appears in the bloodstream, where they can be detected to warn of cancer before a person feels ill. If imaging confirms the result, a biopsy is followed.

What’s Next: The trial, run by the National Cancer Institute, will begin enrolling participants in 2024 and testing how effective various blood tests are in detecting cancer in 24,000 healthy patients over four years. If the results look promising, a 10-fold larger clinical trial will be launched. Read the full story.

– Hana Kyros

Why is Ethereum turning to Proof of Stake and how it will work

Later this week, one of the world’s largest blockchains must move to a new way of approving transactions, moving away from a power-intensive “Proof of Work” system.

If successful, the process, known as consolidation, should reduce Ethereum’s power consumption by about 99.95%, possibly helping to reach 100,000 transactions per second. If the merge continues at current rateThe process must be completed by Thursday. Read our explanation on how will you work.

must read

I’ve combed the internet to find the most interesting/important/scary/cool stories about technology today.

1 The Russian government was hit with its first climate change lawsuit
A group of activists hopes to force the country’s authorities to abide by the Paris climate agreement. (Watchman)
+ The forest biome of Russia is under severe threat due to climate change. (F $)
+ Europe’s growing demand for coal is undermining its climatic potential. (Reuters)

2 New cancer drug appears to be more effective than chemotherapy
However, there is no evidence that it reduced the total number of deaths. (The Wall Street Journal $)

3 A Twitter informant appears in front of the US Senate
Peter Zatko’s testimony next week may change the course of Elon Musk’s legal battle with the platform. (CNN)
+ Here are some questions Zatko might have. (Watchman)
+ Why do Chinese authorities buy ads on Twitter even though they are banned? (Reuters)

4 The Blue Origin missile failed to boost during launch
However, there were no humans on board. (WP $)
+ Perhaps we need to broaden our search for “smart life”. (Atlantic Ocean $)

5 Why it’s so important to understand why some people don’t get the virus
And why so many people think they are immune when they are not. (wired $)
+ Long-Covid brain fog disproportionately affects women. (Atlantic Ocean $)
+ There is a battle raging over the long-running outbreak of the disease in children. (MIT Technology Review)

6 CRISPR Technology Needs Its Smartphone Moment
The push toward mainstream adoption could change how we treat genetic mutations. (Atlantic Ocean $)
+ Protein factories can help us shed light on the origins of life. (new world $)
+ Editing a cholesterol gene could stop the biggest killer on Earth. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Why the Internet Archive’s lawsuit could change digital history
It can lose a good portion of it in the process, too. (slate $)

8 Antarctica is in danger
We’re still learning how weak the East Antarctic ice sheet is. (cnet)

9 How Beauty’s AI Reassembled Physiognomy For Selfie Lovers
Science does not support his claims to read personality traits from facial features. (the information $)
+ The fight for the “Instagram face” (MIT Technology Review)

10 WhatsApp groups trick us into a false sense of intimacy
But letting it go is easier said than done. (Watchman)

Quote from today

Our main demand is not to be killed.”

Camila, a student in Mexico City, tells us Rest of the world How her classmates track each other’s whereabouts using WhatsApp amid a spike in violence against women in Mexico.

The big story

The 50-year-old problem that eludes theoretical computer science

October 2021

In July 2021, evidence appeared online in the esteemed journal ACM Transactions on Computational Theory. The result was purported to solve the problem of all problems – the holy grail of theoretical computer science, worth a million dollars and fame rivaling Aristotle.

This cherished problem – known as “P vs. NP” – is at once considered the most important in theoretical computer science and mathematics and is completely out of reach. It addresses central questions in the promise, limitations, and ambitions of computation, and asks: Why are some problems more difficult than others? What problems can computers realistically solve? How long will it take?

The Million Dollar Question Asked by P vs. NP is: Are these two classes of problems one and the same? That is, can the seemingly very difficult problems actually be solved using an algorithm in a reasonable amount of time, if the correct and very fast algorithm can be found? Because if all difficult problems could be transformed using algorithmic sleight of hand, the consequences for society – for humanity and our planet – would be enormous. Read the full story.

– Siobhan Roberts

We can still have pretty things

A place to rest, have fun and distraction in these strange times. (Do you have any ideas?Message me on lineorTweet me.)

+ The new Netflix thriller glass onionKnives Out, the sequel, sounds a lot of fun.
+ This Twitter account is for The cat is shaking to the music He is the best (thanks Melissa!)
+ Whether you’re comfortable in the water or not, we can all agree on that waves She is beautiful looking majestic.
+ Teen TV shows are surprisingly good at dealing with death. Here’s why.
+ TikTok throws its weight behind The Amazing Farm Workers of California.

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