Tony Ho Tran

Tony Ho Tran

Forget Tesla and Electric Cars. E-Bikes Are the Future of Transportation.

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / ShutterstockThere was a time—an instant really—when it seemed like e-bike advocates had captured lightning in a bottle.The E-BIKE Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in 2021, was placed in the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed by the House of Representatives in 2022. It would have rewarded constituents with a 30 percent tax credit (up to $900) on the purchase of new electric bicycles that cost less than $4,000—a potent incentive for Americans to choose an environmentally friendly, low-cost alternative to driving cars.It was popular. It was good for the Earth. It would have helped low-income Americans. So, naturally, the Senate killed it. In the end, the E-BIKE Act was removed from the final version of the IRA after a surprise agreement between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)—an unfortunate victim of old-fashioned Washington backroom politics.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

Could This Space Tech Startup Launch an Asteroid Mining Revolution?

Photo Illustration by Erin O'Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty ImagesSpace is a treasure chest waiting to be plundered. Asteroids made of iron, nickel, cobalt, and even precious metals like gold and platinum constantly zoom around our solar system—often tantalizingly close to Earth. In fact, a 2021 study published in The Planetary Science Journal found that there could be as much as $11.65 trillion worth of metal-rich near-Earth asteroids. Beyond our backyard, in the growing expanse of the universe, there floats a seemingly infinite amount of money.If only it were easy to grab hold of. In the past, we’ve seen the rise and fall of asteroid mining startups like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. These companies were founded in the 2010s and were funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. They had sky-high ambitions to extract precious resources from space rocks for use on Earth, and also to fuel rockets for future interplanetary explorations. They were buoyed in 2015 when Congress passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which gave companies all rights to any materials they extracted from space rocks and helped fuel even more interest and investments in these companies.But, in the end, these dreams crashed down to terra firma once venture capitalists—anxious to turn a profit on their investments—stopped funding them. Planetary Resources failed to close a round of funding in 2018 and was eventually acquired by a blockchain company, which has yet to do anything with these space technology assets. Deep Space Industries was acquired by a separate aerospace venture dubbed Bradford Space that has likewise failed to do anything useful with the company’s intellectual property.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

Put Down the Beer: Alcohol Flush May Be a Deadly Sign

Scott Markewitz / GettyIf you’re East or Southeast Asian, you’re probably very familiar with the alcohol flushing response—otherwise known as the “Asian glow.” After one or two drinks, your face and body grows redder than a sun-dried tomato, and people start asking you if you somehow got sunburned at the bar or party that night.The flushing response is the result of a genetic quirk. More specifically, it’s an inherited deficiency with an enzyme dubbed aldehyde deydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). This genetic variant itself is called ALDH2*2 and affects roughly 8 percent of the world population.While the glow is often just an embarrassing thing that can happen during a night out, more and more researchers are discovering that it can actually have some life-threatening effects on the human body. Stanford scientists published a paper on Jan. 25 in the journal Science Translation Medicine that found that those with the flushing gene variant might have a higher risk of heart disease. The findings suggest that those with the variant might want to reconsider their drinking habits.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

The Doomsday Clock Is Now Set to 90 Seconds to Midnight

Anna MoneymakerThe Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced on Jan. 24 that the Doomsday Clock is now set to 90 seconds to midnight—the closest it’s ever been moved to, and a sign of how dangerously close scientists think we are to initiating our own apocalypse.The update was attributed largely to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which the Bulletin said creates compounding crises including the threat of nuclear destruction, a collapsing supply chain, and exacerbating climate disasters. The new time beats the previous record set in 2020 when the clock was moved to 100 seconds to midnight in the wake of the pandemic, and remained there until today..“Today, the members of the science and security board move the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely, but not exclusively, because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine,” Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin, said in the announcement. “We move the clock forward the closest it has ever been to midnight.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

Greener Cities Have Little to Fear from Atmospheric Rivers

Josh Edelson/AFP via GettyAfter weeks of endless rainfall and flooding, the atmospheric river that has lashed California has finally started to roll back. In its wake, the intense weather has caused potentially billions of dollars worth of property damage and the deaths of at least 20 people.Atmospheric rivers—narrow cloud bands carrying concentrated moisture—aren’t necessarily bad per se. Marty Ralph, a meteorologist and director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, told The Daily Beast that ARs are relatively common and even have a positive impact by providing water to drought-stricken regions like California. “The weaker ones tend to be largely beneficial,” Ralph said, adding that some of them could be “important to our water supply for the rest of the year.”However, this most recent AR has been notable for being much stronger and dangerous than ones in the past for a number of reasons. For one, California experienced several intense ARs one after another, according to Ralph. He also noted that climate change is a contributing factor to its intensity because “as climate change warms the atmosphere, the atmosphere is able to carry more water vapor” which essentially fuels the storm fronts.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

A Chatbot Could Never Write This Article. Here’s Why.

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/GettySo you’re probably freaking out about ChatGPT—which is understandable.Since its release last year from artificial intelligence lab OpenAI, it’s created a firestorm of discourse about how these large language models will be a kind of universal disruptor, capable of doing everything from writing essays for students, pumping out SEO articles for publications, and even dethroning Google as the world’s most popular search engine. It even threatens creatives, potentially replacing screenwriters, novelists, and musicians.We’ve already seen some of this play out already. ChatGPT has been cited as an author in at least one pre-print study, and even news articles (albeit, some tongue-in-cheek). A new preprint recently found that the bot can even create study abstracts that are so convincing it even fooled scientists. Many fear that in its wake, it’ll leave a bloodbath of journalist and marketing jobs, and a whole lot of headaches for teachers and professors trying to suss out whether or not their students actually wrote their assignments.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

NASA’s Telescope Spots a Sonic Boom Bigger Than the Milky Way

NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScIOne of the most stunning images taken so far by NASA’s powerful James Webb Space Telescope is of Stephan’s Quintet, a group of five galaxies roughly 290 million light-years away. While the first pristine snapshot released last year was jaw-dropping on its own, the Webb team is also teaming up with other telescopes to uncover new insights into the group—including a cataclysmically enormous shockwave caused by an intergalactic collision.Astronomers using observations from Webb along with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a sonic boom several times larger than the Milky Way, caused by colliding galaxies in Stephan’s Quintet. The findings, which were presented at an American Astronomical Society press conference on Jan. 9, revealed insights into gas clouds in Stephan’s Quintet along with the potential formation of a new galaxy.At the heart of the observation is a galaxy dubbed NGC 7318b—which is in a collision course with its sister galaxy NGC 7318a. However, NGC 7318b is also colliding with the rest of Stephan’s Quintet, creating massive disruptions to the surrounding hydrogen gas clouds.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

What Happens to the Future of Electric Cars If Tesla Dies?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/HandoutTesla had a rough 2022—to say the least.Everything from the economy, to inflation, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine dealt body blow after body blow to the electric carmaker—and the rest of the tech and auto industry at large. However, the recent actions of company CEO Elon Musk, following his unwilling purchase of Twitter, have only dragged the beleaguered Tesla further into the deep trenches of a financial crisis. In fact, Tesla has lost nearly 70 percent of its market cap year to date.It’s a whiplash shift from just a year ago when the company, valued at an eye-popping $1 trillion, seemed like it could do no wrong. Some are questioning Musk’s leadership, while others are going further—speculating that this might just be the beginning of the end of Tesla.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

Scientists Gave Pigs Bionic Boners with Artificial Tissue

GettyScientists have once again created a new tool in the stiff battle against erectile dysfunction—and this time, it doesn’t involve a pill.Researchers in China published a study in the journal Matter on Jan. 4 where they created an artificial tissue that restored erectile function in pigs. The material, dubbed artificial tunica albuginea (ATA), imitates the tunica albuginea tissue in penises that’s used to create and maintain erections. The team believes that it could one day help humans recover from their own injuries—not just for penises, but also critical organs like the heart.“We largely foresaw the problems and results of the ATA construction process, but we were still surprised by the results in the animal experiments, where the penis regained normal erection immediately after the use of ATA,” Xuetao Shi, a biomaterials researcher at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China and a co-author of the study, said in a statement.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

New York’s Right-to-Repair Bill Is ‘Functionally Useless,’ Critics Say

Guido Mieth via GettyWe’ve all been there: Maybe you dropped your phone one too many times and now the screen is cracked. Or maybe it was in your pocket when you accidentally ran into a turnstile trying to catch a train and it completely bent. (Editor’s note: I feel attacked.) Or maybe you did nothing wrong—but your phone won’t power despite being on the charger all day.No matter the situation, you need to get it fixed—but unfortunately, that’s a lot easier said than done. If you have something like an iPhone, you can’t often just do it yourself. Hell, sometimes you can’t even take it to any old tech repair person. You’ll need to take it to the Apple Store or an Apple certified repair shop to fix it for you. You have incredibly limited options—which also means that they can charge pretty much whatever they want to repair your busted phone.This is exactly the issue the right-to-repair movement seeks to change. While advocacy groups have tried to push regulation to give consumers the ability to fix their own tech products themselves for years, little has actually changed in terms of concrete legislation—until yesterday… kind of.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here