The immune system and COVID: It’s still confusing

Patrick
Enlarge / SOUTH TANGERANG, INDONESIA – JANUARY 7, 2021: A patient recovered from COVID-19 donates plasma at Indonesia Red Cross Transfusion Center.

Vaccine trials have made clear that the immune system can mount a robust response to SARS-CoV-2. Beyond that, though, there are a lot of question marks. People exposed to the virus don’t always produce much in the way of antibodies to it, and there have been a number of cases of reinfection. We’re not sure how long immunity lasts or whether it correlates with antibody levels or something else–there hasn’t even been great

This is how hominins adapted to a changing world 2 million years ago

Patrick

The versatility that helped humans take over the world emerged very early in our evolutionary history, according to sediments and stone tools from Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.

Olduvai has provided some of the oldest known tools and fossils from our genus, Homo. A recent study lines that evidence up with environmental clues buried in the sediment. The results suggest that our early relatives were equipped to adapt to new environments by around 2 million years ago.

That seems to have been a key ability that allowed our relatives to go global. By 1.7 million years ago, an early human

The world’s cryptocurrency is now worth more than $1 trillion

Patrick

The world’s cryptocurrency is now worth more than $1 trillion, with bitcoin accounting for a large majority of the value. The price of the oldest virtual currency has risen to almost $40,000, pushing the value of all bitcoins in circulation up to more than $700 billion.

Ether, the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network, is now worth more than $140 billion. Then there’s a long list of less valuable cryptocurrencies, including Tether at $22 million, Litecoin at $11 million, and Bitcoin Cash at $8 billion.

Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto is believed to own around 1 million bitcoins. Most of these were 

Upcoming Apple privacy update has developers desperately seeking dodges

Patrick
Enlarge / Social media applications are seen on an iPhone in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland, on December 17, 2020. Facebook has disabled several features on its Messenger app to comply with new data usage rules currently being put in place in the EU as part of the ePrivacy Directive. (Photo illustration by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Getty Images

App developers are exploring surreptitious new forms of user tracking to evade Apple’s new privacy rules, which threaten to upend the mobile advertising industry in the coming months.

Early in 2021, an iPhone update will prevent apps from using

Researchers make their own enzyme pathway to get CO₂ out of the air

Patrick

Olivier Le Moal | Getty Images

Before this century is over, we’re almost certainly going to need to pull massive amounts of carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere. While we already know how to do carbon capture and storage, it takes a fair amount of energy and equipment, and someone has to pay for all that. It would be far more economical to pull CO2 out of the air if we could convert it to a useful product, like jet fuel. But processes like that also take a lot of energy, plus raw materials like hydrogen that

Google employees kick off union membership drive for 120,000 workers

Patrick
Enlarge / Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters of Google and parent company Alphabet, May 2018.

More than 225 workers at Google have formally launched a company-wide union membership drive, following an increasing drive toward organization inside the company over the past several years.

All 120,000 people who work for Google parent company Alphabet, including temporary, contract, and part-time workers, will be eligible for membership in the Alphabet Workers Union, according to a joint statement from the union and the Communications Workers of America, of which it is a part.

“Our company’s motto used to be, ‘don’t

My green home: $90,000 in clean tech upgrades, $20,000 in tax breaks

Patrick

Aurich Lawson / Getty Images

A few years ago I started writing regularly about electric cars and the batteries that power them—technologies that are helping humanity transition away from reliance on fossil fuels. And as bad news continued to pile up about the harms caused by climate change, I started to think harder about my own carbon footprint.

So last year, my wife and I got solar panels for our roof. Then we replaced our air conditioner, getting a model with a heat pump capability. Shortly after that, our boiler sprang a leak and we got a new

You can’t unsee Tedlexa, the Internet of Things/AI bear of your nightmares

Patrick
Enlarge / Alexa, how do I create something that combines AI with a creepy 1980s toy?

Update, 1/2/21: It’s New Year’s weekend, and Ars staff is still enjoying some necessary downtime to prepare for a new year (and a slew of CES emails, we’re sure). While that happens, we’re resurfacing some vintage Ars stories like this 2017 project from Ars Editor Emeritus Sean Gallagher, who created generations of nightmare fuel with only a nostalgic toy and some IoT gear. Tedlexa was first born (err, documented in writing) on January 4, 2017, and its story appears unchanged below.

It’s been

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