Motherboard is an online magazine and video channel dedicated to the intersection of technology, science and humans. It raises its eyebrows at the people and things that are making our weird and wonderful present and future, with news, commentary, in-depth reporting, photos, and original video documentaries.
Motherboard by Kate Fane, Chris Bilton, Natasha Gr.. - 6h ago
The World Solar Challenge has been held every two years since 1987, and for many engineering students, competing has become as much a right of passage as spring break in Daytona Beach or a road trip to Bonnaroo.
To claim victory in this grueling, Mad Max-style marathon across the Australian outback, teams must create innovative vehicles that push solar technology to new heights. Beyond just speed records, judges are increasingly looking for cars that are practical and marketable. When winning Dutch university team Eindhoven crossed the finish line in 2017, its car included an app to recommend sunny parking spaces, an upholstered interior with room for five, and even the ability to install a rear-facing child seat.
Team Eindhoven’s work builds upon a grand tradition of student-made solar cars, which have been steadily progressing solar technology since the mid 1980s. In the American Solar Challenge, happening this month, competitors are increasingly building cars that people might actually want to buy. These kinds of hands-on solar projects can act as an incubator for future tech talent—Google co-founder Larry Page is a former student solar car competitor—even if they don’t participate in international competitions. Children as young as 10 are building cars with just pizza boxes and pieces of aluminum foil, while an all-female team from India and a duo from Palestine have recently made headlines for their resourcefulness in building effective cars under adverse conditions.
So if solar-powered vehicles have become such a common sight in classrooms around the world, why aren't we seeing them on our city streets?
Despite student successes on the race circuit, many analysts, car manufacturers, and industry titans have written off solar technology as impractical for consumer vehicles. Panels are expensive to produce, vehicles can require heavy batteries to store excess power, and the systems simply aren’t as efficient as those of other renewable energy sources.
There’s also the issue of access to sunlight: Vehicles that can speed across the Australian outback would screech to a halt in the Pacific Northwest. Even in the sunniest of climates, vehicles are often shaded by high buildings, and we tend to park in covered areas—limiting the cars’ effectiveness.
As engineer Tom Lombardo calculated in his famous takedown “Your Next Car Will NOT Be Solar Powered,” a conventional solar-roofed car operating under perfect weather conditions and 100 percent motor efficiency still could only expect to generate 6.4 horsepower. “For comparison, my riding lawnmower has an 18 hp engine,” writes Lombardo. “I've never measured it, but I'd guess that its top speed is about 10 mph.”
Solar’s drawbacks have led commercial car companies to focus their efforts on other sustainable sources, such as electricity or biofuels. Toyota’s Prius Prime is one of the few available consumer vehicles that draws upon solar power, but the car is only available for purchase in Japan, and it isn’t fully solar-powered—its rooftop panel is intended to be supplemental to the vehicle’s electric battery.
The dream of a solar-powered car isn’t all lost. Significant student-led breakthroughs are also driving solar panel design. In April 2018, University of Michigan student Xiaozhou Che discovered a new method of solar panel design that increased panel efficiency to 15 percent—up from 11-12 percent. Discoveries like Che’s could pave the way for a completely solar-powered car. But just like solar power itself, it’ll likely be a slow and steady race to the finish line.
A molten “lava bomb” injured 23 people when it crashed onto a Big Island tourist boat on Monday.
Four people were transported to the Hilo Medical Center by ambulance—a 20-year-old woman suffered a broken leg—and others were treated for minor soft tissue burns, says Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The volcanic debris, which was the size of a basketball, crashed clear through the boat’s metal roof. Photos published by HawaiiNewsNow show the boat’s roof, deck, and seats were covered in cinder.
The incident happened when an explosion from the two-months-old ongoing Kilauea eruption sent molten detritus flying. At the time, around 6 a.m., the Lava Ocean Tours vessel christened “Hot Spot” was observing the eruption offshore as it flowed into Kapoho Bay.
Photo of the Lava Ocean Tours boat. Image: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
The state and the the US Coast Guard have since opened an investigation, and won’t comment on the matter while it’s ongoing.
We don’t know whether Lava Ocean Tours was breaking the rules when it was hit. According to the Coast Guard, boats must remain 300 yards from active lava flows, though experienced operators are allowed as close as 50 meters, reports Reuters.
A video of an explosion that morning (it’s unclear whether this was the explosion that hit the boat) was filmed by Big Island resident Ikaika Marzo.
Lava viewing cruises are appealing to tourists visiting the Big Island, Hawaii’s only eruptive island. On its website, Lava Ocean Tours promises customers “a first class front row seat to see lava enter the sea.”
The company claims that its Armstrong Marine boats, made from aluminum, are custom-built for “challenging ocean conditions.” Lava Ocean Tours requires all passengers to sign a liability waiver. During past eruptions, the National Park Service has warned people that toxic plumes can occur when lava mixes with ocean water, creating health risks as well as risks to boats and aircraft.
The Kilauea eruption has destroyed upwards of 700 homes on the southeast side of the Big Island. Residents mourned the obliteration of local spots, such as Kapoho’s beautiful tidepools, that were consumed by lava. The cost of state disaster relief and aid has exceeded $15 million, and many displaced Big Islanders remain in limbo—some camping out in tents—with nowhere else to go.
According to the US Geological Survey, nearly 700 acres of new land have been created. There’s even a mini island just offshore.
“Clearly everyone is interested to learn what happened this morning,” Suzanne Case, chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said in a statement. “In the meantime, all of those injured today are very much in our thoughts for speedy and full recoveries.”
Motherboard by Michael Gaynor, Emanuel Maiberg - 6h ago
This past Friday, July 13, Brandan Lee woke up to some troubling news. Lee is the lead designer behind the ambitious Fallout: New California, a mod of 2010’s Fallout: New Vegas that he has been working on for the past six years. It’s an intense labor of love for him, an epic commitment and attempt to contribute to his beloved game franchise. And now, he said, it’s in danger of all falling apart.
That Friday, Fantasy Flight Games announced an expansion to their newly released Fallout board game, titled—you guessed it— New California. Lee fears legal action from the publisher that owns the Fallout license, Bethesda. In a Facebook post last week, he explained how he was going to put the rest of his life aside and work on the mod nonstop to get it out before Bethesda sent him a cease and desist letter.
“Getting somebody naming something New California is quite a threat,” Lee told me over the phone. “They have every legal right to it.”
However, Bethesda today told Motherboard that Lee has nothing to fear. Bethesda senior vice president of global marketing and communications Pete Hines, when asked if they planned to issue any cease-and-desists against Lee and his passion project, wrote in an email: “People can do mods about whatever they want, whether we’re doing a boardgame or not. This is little ado about nothing. Best of luck to them on their mod.”
“Pete Hines is a cool dude, I’m glad that he said that,” Lee told me in response. “It puts me much more at ease.”
The news about the board game’s name sent Lee, his fellow designer Rick Hukkanen, and a devoted collection of community contributors, scrambling. That means coding sprints, wrapping up voice acting, and switching from a closed beta test to an open one in order to get as many eyes as possible on the project for fine-tuning. A release date is still planned for October, which Lee—a Fallout lore aficionado—says was chosen for story reasons.
“I HAD planned on all this being spread out between now and October, but I'm going to slam it all into the next couple weeks,” Lee wrote in a Facebook post last week. “Holy shit, this is going to be a rough month.”
Why put all this work into something that could have never seen the light of day? “There’s been a lot of people who’ve over the years told me I’m crazy,” said Lee. “Finishing this mod is basically like my video game thesis, and the difficulty and not quitting is part of that learning process.”
His creation has been a long time coming. He first dabbled in Fallout mods back in 2010, after getting laid off from visual-effects work in Los Angeles. He moved back to Tucson and dove into the worlds of Fallout 3 and its successor, New Vegas. “I loved it. I absolutely loved exploring that world. And I had a dream,” he said.
His dream was to make his own world, preferably set against the California backdrop he’d recently left.
The project started in earnest in 2012, again amidst a series of life crises that he referred to as a “party wipe on my personal side.”
“[Hukkanen and I] wanted to do something on our own, something on no budget that would be impactful enough to give us a name,” said Lee. “We went ahead and went back to our mod. The mod meant a lot to him, to me.”
In the years since, a community of volunteers and fans has sprung up around the game, keeping Lee and Hukkanen invested. “I get emails from people inspired by our work, and I’m inspired by them as well,” said Lee. “It’s going to mean a lot to different people. That’s why I don’t give up.”
In our conversation, Lee reiterated again and again how much he loves Bethesda— Fallout’s publisher—and the games it releases. But he wasn’t sure if it purposefully chose an identical name for their board-game spinoff, or if it just never noticed that his mod was out there.
“We have a Wikipedia page, we have the first 19 pages on Google search results, the top results are about us, there are news interviews and lets plays and single videos WITH MORE VIEWS THAN THEIR ENTIRE COMPANY YOUTUBE CHANNEL -- and they still named their board game Fallout: New California,” Lee wrote on Facebook.
For now, it doesn't seem like Bethesda has any plans to take legal action against Lee, but if he does get a cease-and-desist letter, Lee said, “then I fight tooth-and nail-like nothing else you’ve ever seen...I would not quit. I don’t quit for shit.
“Finishing New California has been my life goal for so long that it has defined my existence,” he said.
These climate change-induced effects have taken a particularly devastating toll on the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia. At 1,400 miles long, the Great Barrier Reef is by far the largest in the world, but half of its coral has died in the past two years after unprecedented back-to-back bleaching events.
“This is the first time a decline in recovery rate of this magnitude has been identified in coral reefs.”
This is bad enough, but a new study published today in Science Advances claims that the Great Barrier Reef is also losing its ability to recover from bleaching events and infections, which has precipitated its destruction.
A group of Australian scientists analyzed data from 1992 to 2010 and found that the average rate of recovery across the Great Barrier Reef showed a six-fold decline during that time period. Juan Ortiz, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland, said that “this is the first time a decline in recovery rate of this magnitude has been identified in coral reefs.”
The researchers attributed the failing recovery mechanisms of the reef to a combination of bleaching events, increasingly powerful cyclones, and poor water quality.
A floundering reef due to poor water quality. Image: Peter Mumby/Science Advances
Although reefs only cover about 1 percent of the seafloor, they support about a quarter of all ocean life and act as a tidal barrier for coastlines. The complete collapse of our world’s reefs would be devastating for ocean ecosystems and human coastal populations.
Things look bleak for the Great Barrier Reef right now, but University of Queensland marine biologist Peter Mumby said that the effective management of reef ecosystems can help to nurse them back to health. In particular, Mumby noted that coral recovery greatly depends on the quality of the water in its local environment, so conservation efforts that focus on improving the quality of water in a given region could hasten reef recovery.
Ortiz said that ultimately the long-term protection of coral reefs depends on our ability to dress climate change on a global scale, concluding that “the future of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened without further local management to reduce chronic disturbances and support recovery, and strong global action to limit the effect of climate change."
Motherboard by Tracey Lindeman, Natasha Grzincic, .. - 6h ago
If you’ve ever been to a city council meeting, you know that people love to complain about a lack of parking. People want to be able to store their cars as close as humanly possible to the front door of whatever place they’re trying to visit. Such complaints create an artificial impression that parking is in short supply.
But according to a new report by the Research Institute for Housing America, an arm of the Mortgage Bankers Association, cities actually have an overabundance of parking space. They’re also very bad at estimating their real needs for parking spots. What’s worse, all the land being dedicated to cars is contributing to skyrocketing housing values that price lower-income renters and homebuyers out of the market.
The study, “Quantified Parking: Comprehensive Parking Inventories for Five U.S. Cities,” counted the parking spaces in five cities: New York City, Seattle, Philadelphia, the Iowan capital of Des Moines, and Jackson in Wyoming. The count is the first of its kind; according to the report, “comprehensive parking inventories have never existed for US cities.”
The study found that parking in the US represents billions of dollars worth of public and private investments. In New York City alone, parking is worth $20.6 billion and is controlled by a handful of companies.
The town of Jackson, Wyoming (pop. 10,000ish) has a 27:1 ratio of parking spaces to households, according to the report, and yet a decade ago spent $17 million on a parking structure that provides exclusively free parking.
“When a preconception of too little parking infects policymakers, more parking tends to get built and provided to everyone for free,” wrote Eric Scharnhorst, a principal data scientist at the startup Parkingmill and the study’s author.
But scooping up valuable land for the purposes of car storage has the effect of driving up the cost of land designated for housing, according to experts around the world: it’s more lucrative to operate a parking structure than a housing unit. This is great for landowners who are looking to make a big return on their investments, but it makes real estate markets inhospitable to new home buyers and renters.
As the report noted (and as real estate sites confirm), the median home sale price in Jackson hovers around $1 million. According to a local real estate company, 2017 marked the town’s lowest real estate inventory in 30 years.
This dynamic played out in most of the cities studied in the report. Seattle’s got more than twice as much parking than it really needs, while Philly’s got nearly four parking spots for every home. Des Moines has 83,141 households, 217,000 people, and 1.6 million parking spots—that’s 19 spots per household.
Of all the cities profiled in the report, only New York City—the most densely populated city in the US—had a reasonable ratio of parking spots to households. “There are an average of 16.2 households per acre and 10.1 parking spaces per acre in New York,” Scharnhorst wrote.
In jam-packed cities with climbing rents, cities are going to be increasingly faced with a dilemma: parking or housing? Just this week in Silicon Valley, the city of Palo Alto—which, as the home to Google, Tesla, and many other tech companies, has one of the greatest concentrations of wealth in the world—voted to allow people living in RVs to park on city property. Meanwhile, a bill in San Francisco that would allow its transit operator to build housing on station properties is currently before the California legislature. (Don’t get too excited. California also recently shot down a bill that would have allowed for more residential construction near public transit.)
These are just stopgap measures, though. As suggested by the report, cities should do regular parking audits to diagnose current car-storage supplies and prescribe a more common-sense solution to a looming housing crisis.
What a lot of cities really need is to become more affordable—and that’s accomplished in part by maximizing land zoned for housing, as well as promoting public transit.
On Tuesday, representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube testified to lawmakers about their platforms’ content moderation strategies. In the hearing, as New York Times reporter Sheera Frenkel pointed out, Facebook repeatedly referenced what it described as a “threshold” that must be reached before the platform decides to ban a particular page for violating the site’s policies.
“No one has ever defined what the threshold is or who sets it,” Frenkel tweeted. Other news outlets also mentioned this threshold: “Facebook can’t decide when a page should be banned,” Engadget wrote. But Facebook has decided when pages should be banned—it just hasn’t discussed its guidelines publicly.
Motherboard has obtained internal Facebook documents laying out what this threshold is for multiple types of different content, including some instances of hate speech. The news provides more granularity to understanding how exactly Facebook decides to ban certain pages or groups, and comes as the platform faces renewed criticism over its decision to not ban particular controversial pages, such as conspiracy site InfoWars.
One Facebook moderator training document for hate speech says that for Pages—Facebook’s feature for sections dedicated to, say, a band, organization, public figure, or business—the Page admin has to receive 5 “strikes” within 90 days for the Page itself to be deleted.
Alternatively, Facebook moderators are told to remove a Page if at least 30 percent of the content posted by other people within 90 days violates Facebook’s community standards. A similar 30 percent-or-over policy exists for Facebook Groups, according to the document.
In a similar vein, another hate speech document says that a profile should be taken down if there are 5 or more pieces of content from the user which indicate hate propaganda, photos of the user present with another identifiable leader, or other related violations. Although the documents obtained by Motherboard were created recently, Facebook’s policies change regularly, so whether these exact parameters remain in force is unclear. By comparison, YouTube has a three “strike” policy (although it may not necessarily be fair to compare two different platforms and features like-for-like.)
Of course this still depends on moderators identifying and labeling posts as violating to reach that threshold; there has been a fierce online debate about what qualifies as “hate speech” and “fake news” and whether InfoWars should be allowed on Facebook. Facebook said last week that it, “see[s] Pages on both the left and the right pumping out what they consider opinion or analysis—but others call fake news,” the company tweeted. “We believe banning these Pages would be contrary to the basic principles of free speech.”
Got a tip? You can contact this reporter securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, OTR chat on firstname.lastname@example.org, or email email@example.com.
Another document focused on sexual content says moderators should unpublish Pages and Groups under the basis of sexual solicitation if there are over 2 “elements”, such as the Page description, title, photo, or pinned post, that include either explicit solicitation of nude imagery, or, if the page is more subtle, includes either a method of contact or a location. This slide again reiterates the over 30 percent and 5 admin posts rules found in the hate speech document.
However, that threshold is going to vary depending on the type of content being shared. Facebook told Motherboard in an email that someone who shared child exploitation material, for example, is going to be banned immediately.
“The consequences for violating our Community Standards vary depending on the severity of the violation and a person's history on the platform,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement. “For instance, we may warn someone for a first violation, but if they continue to violate our policies, we may restrict their ability to post on Facebook or disable their profile. We also may notify law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or a direct threat to public safety.”
During her testimony on Tuesday, Facebook’s Head for Global Policy Management, Monika Bickert, said, when discussing InfoWars’ Page, “if they posted sufficient content that violated our threshold, that page would come down. That threshold varies, depending on the severity of different types of violations.”
There are lots of conversations about the lack of diversity in science and tech these days. Along with them, people constantly ask, "So what? Why does it matter?" There are many ways to answer that question, but perhaps the easiest is this: because a homogenous team produces homogenous products for a very heterogeneous world.
This is Design Bias, a Motherboard column in which writer Rose Eveleth explores the products, research programs, and conclusions made not because any designer or scientist or engineer sets out to discriminate, but because the "normal" user always looks exactly the same. The result is a world that's biased by design. -the Editor
In 2014, Linda Gauthier decided it was time for a low-dose x-ray to check for breast cancer. But when Gauthier, a disability activist in Montreal, called a public clinic hoping to schedule a screening, she says she was informed that the mammogram machine couldn’t accommodate her. Gauthier, 61, uses a wheelchair, and says she was told the clinic’s machine was too old and couldn’t be lowered to an appropriate height. Instead, she was advised to bring someone with her, to hold her up to the machine.
Gauthier then tried other clinics—and says she was given the same answer. In response, she requested a meeting with Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, whose secretary apologized to Gauthier and told her that Barrette wouldn’t be able to meet “until next year.”
“Okay, no problem,” Gauthier replied. “But you’ll be all over the newspaper tomorrow.” She got a meeting two days later.
Barrette has since vowed to craft provisions related to disability accessibility at such clinics, and suggested revoking permits for those that refuse service to disabled folks. Canada doesn’t have a true equivalent to the US’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so its accessibility rules are pieced together through updates like this one. “There will be in the very near future provisions because this is absolutely unacceptable,” Barrette told the CBC in 2014.
Barrette’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“I am afraid you may have to call around to find this.”
But despite Barrette’s advocacy, Gauthier doesn’t think much has changed.
Last year, Gauthier, who currently serves as treasurer of the disability advocacy group RAPLIQ, called a clinic—one she hadn’t previously contacted—to request a mammogram, and said that, once again, the receptionist she spoke with was audibly uncomfortable, unsure if the machine in use could even accommodate her. Her wheelchair armrests could be removed and the machine lowered, Gauthier explained to the receptionist, who cautiously booked an appointment but couldn’t guarantee Gauthier would actually get a mammogram when she arrived.
This kind of exclusion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Experts still debate exactly at what age, and how often, women should get mammograms, but the general consensus is that for women between the ages of 50 and 75 the potential benefits of screening for breast cancer outweigh the risk. According to a 2011 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, women with disabilities were less likely to get regular mammograms than women without.
“You feel so excluded,” Gauthier recently told me over the phone. “You feel like you’re from another planet, that you don’t deserve help, that you don’t have any access to the health system.”
No matter who you are, the compression can cause slight discomfort or tenderness in the breast as it’s happening, but each step of the process can be trickier for people with disabilities. Removing a shirt or bra, something many people take for granted, can be a challenge unto itself. Not everyone can then walk up to the mammogram machine and stand upright for the duration of the mammogram (which can last between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on how many pictures need to be taken and from what angles). Those who can’t position their own arms might need a tech to help them move their body a certain way.
A mammography tech assists patient preparing for a mammogram. Image: US Navy
These days, many mammogram machines indeed can be lowered enough to accommodate someone in a wheelchair. But a receptionist might not necessarily know this, and assume the machine can’t service someone who needs that kind of accommodation. Even if some machines can technically accommodate people in wheelchairs, that doesn’t mean getting a mammogram is always possible.
Gauthier's story is not uncommon. As someone who works for a disability rights group, she says that she regularly hears stories about people in her community being denied access to mammograms. For those who use wheelchairs, the issue also comes up every so often on internet forums and online communities. “Can anyone point me in the right direction to finding a mammogram machine that is made for women who can not stand for the procedure?” asked a user on the forum Care Cure Community. “I am afraid you may have to call around to find this,” another user going by “SCI-Nurse” answered, summing up most of the responses you see to the mammogram question. “Of course under the ADA this is required, but sadly does not exist most places.”
(Technically, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. But anybody who’s disabled can tell you that mandate doesn’t fully translate to universal access.)
In some cases, when a mammogram machine isn’t accessible, doctors will try another method to screen for breast cancer. Lene Andersen, a woman with rheumatoid arthritis who uses a wheelchair, wrote on her blog that she’s never had a mammogram due to the inaccessibility of clinics, and that even screening alternatives like ultrasounds, which aren’t as effective as mammograms and likewise prone to their own design bias, have left her feeling excluded.
“Several years ago, I had an ultrasound instead,” Andersen wrote. “The gel that was used was scented—I assume in an attempt to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Instead, it triggered an asthma attack that lasted for days. The next year, I asked if they had fragrance-free ultrasound gel. After an exhaustive search in the entire hospital, the answer was no. So I did not have an ultrasound.”
A 2013 study found that people with more “complex” disabilities were less likely to get screened for breast and cervical cancers than those with less complex disabilities. And without screening, disabled individuals might be more likely to miss earlier warning signs. Previously, a 1999 study had found that people with cerebral palsy were three times more likely to die of breast cancer than the general population; a 2004 study found the same thing across all kinds of disabled women. These higher death rates can’t solely be pinned on lack of screening access, to be sure. Exactly how much of this is because of the failure to detect cancer early via mammograms, we simply don’t know.
Which is to say, it’s not just the mammogram machine that can cause problems. After all, disabled people in the United States are more likely to be unemployed, without health insurance, and living in poverty.
An encouraging 2017 CDC study that looked at the differences in screening rates between disabled and non-disabled women did find the gap had largely closed. “Once we controlled for sociodemographic factors, there was not a statistically significant difference in odds,” JoAnn Thierry, a CDC scientist who was not directly involved in the study but has studied barriers to screening in the past, told me in an email.
The biggest predictor of whether a woman gets a mammogram or not, according to Thierry, is whether their healthcare provider suggests one.
Women with and without disabilities were equally likely to receive mammogram recommendations, according to the 2017 CDC study on differences in screening rates, although earlier research found that women with disabilities were less likely to receive such a recommendation. That 2017 CDC study did, however, find a key disparity between women with disabilities and those without: When asked why they didn’t get a mammogram or pap smear, the second most common answer from folks with disabilities—notably, the answer that was least common among women without a disability—was that they had no way to get to the clinic.
In other words, say the mammogram machine itself is accessible. That doesn’t mean much if you can't get to the clinic that houses it.
“Concerns about inaccessible ramps, doors, rest rooms, dressing rooms, examination rooms and equipment are frequently reported barriers,” said Thierry, who was not involved with the project. (I was unable to reach Komen, UMontana, and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine’s Center on Development and Disability, another institution involved with the accessibility project, for comment.) “In addition,” Thierry said, “difficulty with how a woman is positioned during a mammogram and lack of personal assistance, such as filling out forms, dressing, balancing or standing, may also impact screening behaviors.”
Physical structures and access are only one piece of the problem, Gauthier adds—it’s also a matter of overall treatment and stigma around disability. When she interacts with healthcare providers, she says employees often are some combination of flustered, worried, and annoyed. “They don’t want to talk to you because they think they’re going to catch something,” Gauthier told me. “They don’t like the way we act, they don’t like to see us, they think we’re disgusting.”
Why would anybody want to go through the trouble of accessing a screening when they suspect they might be treated badly? Gauthier wonders.
For those who do want to try and get screened for breast cancer, Thierry points to the CDC’s guide to mammograms. The guide lists the kinds of questions one might want to ask their healthcare provider before showing up for an appointment: “How long is the appointment and can I have more time if I need it?” for example, and, “How do I prepare if I use a wheelchair or a scooter?” Thierry notes that having to do all this additional preparation in the first place is probably a big reason more people with disabilities don’t get mammograms. Some people “spend so much time addressing their disability-related health issues that they don’t have the time or energy to address preventive care,” she said.
Breast cancer, for its part, doesn’t discriminate. Studies show that disabled people are just as likely as non-disabled people to get cancer. But women with disabilities are more likely to die from breast cancer, and are less likely to undergo standard therapy when diagnosed.
Gauthier, meanwhile, says she’ll continue pushing to make clinics more accessible in Canada. She admits that it can get exhausting.
“It’s so very, very hard,” she said. “We’re always upset, from the morning to the minute we go to bed. I’ve been doing that for 10 years now, and of course I’ll do it until the end. But sometimes I’m fed up and tired.”
Motherboard by Becky Ferreira, Emanuel Maiberg - 11h ago
In a nightmare scenario, a California woman was attacked by a swarm of up to 80,000 bees on Monday. After sustaining over 200 bee stings, the middle-aged woman—identified only by her first name Maria—is now in critical condition at Saddleback Hospital in nearby Laguna Hills, but she is expected to survive.
The gruesome attack took place on the residential 23000 block of Buckland Lane in Lake Forest, California, where Maria was working as a house cleaner. While walking out to her car to retrieve supplies, she passed a bush concealing a huge hive of invasive Africanized bees, which are nicknamed “killer bees” due to their deadly aggression.
Tens of thousands of bees engulfed Maria, to the horror of bystanders, who called 911. Paramedics and firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) responded to the call, and sprayed Maria with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher to partially remove the swarm. She was barely conscious by the time she was rescued.
"[The bees] were almost in clusters [...] all over her," Ryan Wilson, an OCFA paramedic at the scene, told NBC4. "She had them on her face, around her mouth, around her ears, her neck and her hair."
Wilson was one of many witnesses attacked by the bees during the rescue. At least two first responders and one bystander were briefly hospitalized. The bees were also not fully removed from Maria until well after she arrived at the hospital, according to OCFA caption Tony Bommarito.
“Bees were in the ambulance en route to the hospital,” Bommarito told PEOPLE. “Bees went into the emergency room with her.”
Over the past two days, exterminators have removed the hive of Africanized bees. These deadly insects were first introduced to the Americas in 1956; they were imported to Brazil to boost honey production.
Their feral descendants are hybrids of Western and African honey bees, and they have crept ever northward over the decades. Africanized bees now occupy an enormous swath of the American southwest. Hundreds of people have been killed by these invasive bees, including an Arizona landscaper who died last year after a swarm of 100,000 bees attacked him.
Motherboard by Daniel Oberhaus, Jordan Pearson - 11h ago
The earliest memory that I’m nearly certain is genuine is from when I was about four years old. I’m in the living room of my childhood friend who lived across the street from me, watching movers carry furniture and boxes from my family’s house into a large moving truck. I don’t remember where my friend was at the time or how I was feeling. It’s a simple memory, but it’s still remarkably vivid over twenty years later.
But I have a few memories that are from when I was even younger that I’m not certain are actually my own. Upon reflection, I’m pretty sure most of them were “implanted” later from home movies, photographs, or family tell stories, and I internalized those experiences as my own. I’m not alone: according to new research published in Psychological Science, around 40 percent of first memories are likely fictional.
These results were derived from a survey of 6,641 people in the UK, which found that nearly 2,560 respondents (38.6 percent) claimed to have memories from when they were two years old or younger, and almost 900 of those memories were from when the respondents were one or younger. The respondents were told they should be certain of the memory was genuine and not based on a photograph or anything other than direct experience.
"Crucially, the person remembering them doesn't know this is fictional,” Martin Conway, the director of the Center for Memory and Law at the University of London said in a statement. “This partly due to the fact that the systems that allow us to remember things are very complex, and it's not until we're five or six that we form adult-like memories due to the way that the brain develops and due to our maturing understanding of the world."
Analysis of the survey respondents’ language and descriptive details shed some light on why so many people seem to have fictional first memories. According to the researchers, these fictional memories are probably cobbled together from scraps of early experience—such as a particular feeling toward a family member, a favorite toy, and so on—and are combined with knowledge about their childhood that is learned later.
One particular type of fictional memory that was reported by many respondents had to do with their baby stroller or pram.
“For this person, this type of memory could have resulted from someone saying something like 'mother had a large green pram',” said Conway. “The person then imagines what it would have looked like. Over time these fragments become a memory and often the person will start to add things in such as a string of toys along the top.” Over time, these mental fragments are called to mind as an adult and experienced as “memories,” Conway explained.
Try thinking back as far as your memory allows. If you have a memory that occurred before you were three and includes a lot of details, there’s a pretty good chance it’s just a story you’ve told yourself as you’ve gotten older.
Motherboard by Daniel Oberhaus, Emanuel Maiberg - 11h ago
While SpaceX has been stealing headlines for the past year for launching a car into space and landing multiple rocket boosters at the same time, Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin has been quietly working to prepare its own rockets for human passengers.
Earlier this month, Blue Origin announced it would begin sending passengers to space as early as next year for around $200,000 apiece. Before that happens, however, it needs to make sure all of the safety mechanisms on its suborbital New Shepard rocket meet NASA’s standards for human spaceflight.
Today, the company will perform a high-altitude escape motor test to ensure that the crew capsule motor can safely function in the vacuum of space. It is the first time that the motor system has been tested in space. Although no crew members will be inside the capsule for the test, the rocket will carry a number of small commercial payloads on its flight.