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In the dark waters of the benthic zone, the deepest layer of the ocean mostly populated by invertebres like sea urchins, worms, and crabs, mysterious whales hold their breath. Beaked whales as a group of species have long been elusive to humans, but new research is shedding light on the habits of these creatures, with the discovery of two new subpopulations in the Atlantic.
“I can remember when I ran the analysis, I almost started crying,” says Kerri Smith, a research fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who studies beaked whales. “I was so excited, because it was totally new. For like an hour, I knew something that nobody ever in the entire world knew.”
Smith’s recent research looked at the remains of Sowerby’s beaked whales that were stored in museums and research centers or stranded or bycatch from fisheries. By analyzing certain chemicals within the whales’ skin, muscle, and bone tissue, researchers were able to figure out that there are two subpopulations of Sowerby’s beaked whales in the east and west Atlantic. The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science and will likely provide the foundation for a more detailed understanding of these species, as well as shape future conservation efforts.
Very little is known about the lives of beaked whales despite the fact that they make up more than 25 percent of extant cetaceans (the group that includes dolphins, porpoises, and whales). Unlike other animals that swim near the shore or the surface of the sea, beaked whales prefer deep, offshore waters, making them difficult to find and track. Their dark grey or black coloring and small dorsal fin make them even harder to distinguish from the ocean around them.
There are currently 23 recognized species of beaked whales, although some have never been seen alive and are only known from stranded carcasses. But this number could easily grow or even shrink. If, say, one individual thought to just be a weird-looking version of a known species turns out to be an entirely different species through DNA analysis, as happened recently in Japan.
Beaked whales generally spend much of their time in the deep depths of the open ocean—and we’re not really sure what they’re doing down there. We do know their bodies have evolved to spend long periods of time at these depths. The Cuvier’s beaked whale holds the mammalian records for both the deepest dive (almost two miles beneath the surface) and longest length of time holding breath (137.5 minutes).
“They’re such large animals compared to us and we still know so little about them,” says Chris Stinson, a curatorial assistant at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver where he presides over the skulls and skeletons of several beaked whale species. “They’re out in the open ocean, living in a totally different world where they come up to the surface for a breath, and then spend 80 percent of their time underwater, hunting for things, using senses that we can’t even comprehend.”
Some beaked whales feast primarily on fish from the water column, while others are thought to be specialists of the squid in the deep seas, and still more love the benthic depths where they nibble on fish off the seafloor. While cetaceans as a whole are known for being social animals that live in groups, little is known about the day-to-day habits of the beaked whales.
“Because they’re so challenging to study when they’re actually alive, almost everything we know about beaked whales comes from dead bodies,” says Smith. “It’s really hard to infer what they were doing when they were alive in terms of their social bonds or play or things like that from dead bodies.”
But there’s a lot of information that can be gained from dead bodies, as Smith’s recent research showed.
The team looked at carbon and nitrogen in the whales’ bodies, which revealed information about where the cetaceans lived and their position in the food chain. The type of analysis they used, called stable isotope analysis, has the benefits of being fast and relatively inexpensive. This makes it an ideal application for the elusive beaked whales, as tracking and locating them can be so difficult and costly.
By studying other elements in the future, like oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur, the technique could give more insight into the secretive whales’ habits and environment. Smith hopes to conduct genetic analysis in the future to further understand the two subpopulations of Sowerby’s beaked whales.
Right now there are no conservation or management plans for beaked whales because we know so little about them. They are considered “data deficient” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning there is not enough information available to evaluate extinction risk based on distribution and/or population status.
But research like Smith’s can teach us more about these elusive species’ homes and patterns of movement, which could shape future conservation strategies.
“We literally cannot conserve what we do not know,” Smith says. “We don’t know where these animals are, we don’t really know what habitats they are using— [there’s] sort of that catch-all deep offshore shelf waters but what does that mean? Where are they? What shelfs are they using? Are there ones that need more protection than others? Until we have some answers to those questions, we can’t enact really concrete, meaningful, actionable plans.”
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What are the best smartphone brands in India?
Redmi Note 8 Pro — The Redmi Note series gets better with every iteration and that remains the case with the Note 8 Pro. Featuring a new design language and all-glass build, improved quad-camera setup on the back, a larger battery, and a more powerful processor, it’s no surprise that this is one of the best phones you can get on a budget. The Redmi Note 8 Pro starts at just 13,999 rupees (~$190).
POCO X2 — POCO may be its own brand, but there’s no denying that the X2 is identical to the Redmi K30 that was launched in China. That doesn’t change the fact though that the POCO X2 is an excellent mid-range smartphone. It comes with a beautiful design, a 120Hz display, dual front-facing cameras, and a whole lot more. Offering all the bang for your buck, the POCO X2 can be yours for 15,999 rupees (~$215).
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra — The Galaxy S20 Ultra definitely earns its moniker. This phone is likely overkill for many, but it offers every possible feature anyone would want from a smartphone. Excellent performance, gorgeous display, and fantastic cameras continue to be the cornerstones of Samsung’s flagships. Of course, with a starting price of 92,999 rupees (~$1255), this phone isn’t for everybody. With minimal compromise, you can save a decent chunk of money with the Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy S20 though.
Samsung Galaxy A51 — The Galaxy A50 was one of Samsung’s best mid-rangers in 2023, and its sequel is hoping to continue that success. The A51 features a lot of subtle upgrades across the board, but the biggest jump comes with the cameras. You now get a quad-camera setup on the back, headlined by a 48MP shooter, while the selfie camera gets an upgrade as well. The Galaxy A51 is priced at 23,999 rupees (~$325).
realme X50 Pro 5G — It’s realme’s super quick turnaround time that has resulted in the X2 Pro not even being the best device the company has to offer anymore, with the X50 Pro 5G taking its place. With specs and features like the Snapdragon 865, a 90Hz screen, incredibly fast charging, and more, it’s crazy that the X50 Pro 5G is almost half the price of a similarly-specced Galaxy S20, starting at 37,999 rupees (~$515).
realme 6 Pro — It has only been six months between iterations, but the 6 Pro is a decent upgrade over its predecessor. A faster processor, more RAM, and a larger battery are great, but the key upgrade here is with the cameras. You now get two cameras up-front and the primary shooter of the quad-camera setup on the back is a 64MP unit. The realme 6 Pro can be yours for 16,999 rupees (~$230).
OnePlus 7T Pro — The OnePlus 7T Pro is an iterative update over its non-T namesake, but if you’re choosing between the two, the former is obviously the better choice. The 7T Pro has a lot going for it. Its most impressive feature, however, is the gorgeous all-screen front with no notches and punch holes anywhere. It may be the most expensive OnePlus smartphone yet, but it is still cheaper than a lot of the competition with a price point of 53,999 rupees (~$725).
OnePlus 7T — The OnePlus 7T took a lot of people by surprise and has been called the best OnePlus phone the company has made in a while. It brings all the best features of the Pro edition to a more affordable package. As long as you’re okay with a notched display though. The price difference between it and the Pro edition is quite significant too, with the OnePlus 7T setting you back 34,999 rupees (~$470).
Last summer, the Juno spacecraft flew within about 2,600 miles of Jupiter—the closest any human-made object had ever come to the largest planet in our solar system.
Scientists are still analyzing all the juicy data Juno collected during that first flyby, as well as later orbits, but the first results have just been published. Two new studies in Science and 44 papers in Geophysical Research Letters document a number of odd and amazing findings. Here are the highlights of what we’ve learned so far about Jupiter.Its north pole is a chaotic mess of storms…
Juno gets 10 times closer to Jupiter’s north pole than any other spacecraft in history. Images from its first close pass show the tumultuous region is dotted with oval-shaped cyclones, which span as much as 870 miles across. That’s wider than the distance between Chicago and New York.…And it’s very different from Saturn’s north pole.
Saturn’s north pole is encircled by an enormous hexagon-shaped storm, with a high-speed vortex spinning at its center. Jupiter’s north pole is not nearly so organized, showing that the atmospheres of these two gas giants are fundamentally different.Jupiter may not have a distinct core.
“We used to think there was like a little ball of heavy elements, small and quite distinct at its center,” says NASA astrophysicist Jack Connerney. “Now we’re thinking that mass may be much more spread out.” High heat and pressure at Jupiter’s center may be dissolving the planet’s original rock-ice core in a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen, eroding it until it’s no longer sharply differentiated from the rest of the gas giant.Its atmosphere circulates like Earth’s…
Peering into the thermal structure of Jupiter’s atmosphere, Juno found signs that ammonia wells up from the deep atmosphere, feeding clouds that form giant weather systems around its equator. These “striking and unexpected” features resemble Earth’s Hadley cells, wherein winds blowing toward the equator rise, produce thunderstorms, and then flow back toward the poles. But Jupiter’s cells are much bigger, and instead of water, they rain out ammonia crystals that quickly evaporate.…But its auroras are not like ours.
Juno found that the electrons in Jupiter’s auroras mostly stream upwards, away from the poles and toward space. If Jupiter’s auroras were like Earth’s, Juno would have seen more electrons flowing down as well. “We’ve had the electrons going in the wrong direction this whole time,” says Connerney. “And that’s kind of the theme, here—we’re finding out that a lot of our simple interpretations about Jupiter don’t really hold.”Its magnetic field is twice as strong as we expected…
Juno found that, close up, Jupiter’s magnetic field is roughly 10 times stronger than Earth’s.…And its dynamo might be showing.
For hundreds of years, scientists have wondered how planets and stars generate magnetic fields. On Earth, we can’t see the dynamo that’s generating our magnetic field because it’s buried deep in a rocky, iron-laden crust. But that’s not a problem with a gas giant. Jupiter’s magnetic field is turning out to be a lot more complicated than expected, with lots of small-scale structures embedded. According to Connerney, these variations may mean Juno is getting close to the dynamo, and that Jupiter’s dynamo is very close to the surface. By piecing together data from one orbit at a time, Juno may provide the first clear map of what a dynamo looks like.What’s most exciting?
Connerney thinks the magnetic field findings are the most exciting so far. “After 500 years of wondering,” he says, “we might actually see what a dynamo looks like by the end of the mission.” But he admits that as a magnetic field scientist, he’s biased. The other teams of researchers are equally excited about their own findings, he says. “It’s like six blind guys telling you what an elephant looks like. It just depends on which part you’re grabbing at that point.”
Juno still has another year or two before it retires, with no doubt its biggest discoveries yet to come. By the end of it, we should have a much more complete picture of the elephant in the solar system.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
An artist’s image of a proposed Hyperloop transport system under development by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.
The Hyperloop tube is kept at a partial vacuum, reducing air resistance, and each pod sits on a cushion of air similar to the way a puck sits on an air hockey table. The pods are propelled and slowed by linear induction motors placed at regular intervals along the tube, and a large fan at the front of the pod forces air in front of the pod to behind it, avoiding a pressure build-up that would otherwise slow the craft.
Musk reckons a Hyperloop trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles would take about 35 minutes — faster than flying and a huge improvement over the 6-hour car journey.
But it’s still a dream. Engineers at Musk’s companies worked on designs for Hyperloop for a year, but it remains just a concept. To help push it forward, a 57-page white paper detailing the work was published online in August 2013 and Musk asked people to build and improve upon it.
Some are already doing that.
Hyperloop Technologies in Los Angeles envisages the system will be used to transport freight, not people, and one of the routes it’s looking at would connect Las Vegas and California. Another would ferry goods up and down the U.S. Pacific coast, and there is even talk of one connecting the manufacturing hubs of Asia with North America.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
An artist’s image of a proposed Hyperloop test track being designed by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
Perhaps the most concrete Hyperloop plan is one funded by Musk himself. While he hasn’t committed to building a commercial Hyperloop, Musk does plan to build a test track that will be open to companies and students to test projects based on the technology. Musk hasn’t revealed the location, but said in a Tweet that it will most likely be in Texas.
California has been talking about a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles since the mid-nineties, but a single mile of track still hasn’t been laid.
California High Speed Rail
An artist’s conceptual rendering of California’s High Speed Rail system
And then there’s mother Earth herself. California is one of the most earthquake prone regions in the U.S. and gets many small, localized quakes and occasionally quite large ones. Seismic durability is a hot topic for the proposed high-speed rail link, and the Hyperloop is envisaged to be traveling much faster, so designers will have to come up with a system that can safely bring a pod to a halt in the event of a large earthquake.Driverless Cars
While the Hyperloop represents Silicon Valley’s greatest blue-sky thinking, driverless cars are much closer to reality.
The seeds were sown in 2004 when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) set a challenge: complete a 150-mile course in central California without a driver.
Stanford University’s Stanley self-driving car, which won the DARPA Challenge in 2005
Production cars started getting early autonomous features at about the same time. They included the ability to stay in lane or reverse into a parking space, and technology has been progressing since then.
The next big step is expected later this year when Tesla adds an “autopilot” mode to its Model S sedan car. It will initially work on highways, not local streets, and tests appear to be going well.
Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang interviews Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference 2023.
“We’re now almost able to travel all the way from San Francisco to Seattle without the driver touching any controls at all,” Musk said when he announced the technology in March.
As with the Tesla system, GM’s technology will initially be limited to highways. That’s because there are many fewer variables at play on a long, straight, fast-moving highway than on residential streets.
“Highway cruise is easy, low speed is easy; it’s medium that’s hard,” Musk said. “Being able to recognize what you’re seeing and make the right decision in that suburban environment in that 10 mph to 50 mph zone is the challenging portion.”
The holy grail of fully autonomous driving is still many years away.
A Google self-driving navigates streets near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, on June 29, 2023.
For an impressive demonstration of state-of-the-art technology, look to Shelley, a converted Audi TTS Coupe developed by students at Stanford University. It can race around a track at up to 120 miles per hour without a person inside. Shelley is packed with sensors, computers and radios that calculate the forces on the car and where exactly it sits on the road, so it can drive as fast as possible without having an accident.
Stanford’s Shelley prototype self-driving car seen at the university in May 2012.
And for a tantalizing look at the future of car travel, check out the Mercedes Benz F015, a concept driverless vehicle that was unveiled at this year’s Detroit Motor Show.
The interior of the Mercedes Benz F015 concept car has seats that face each other because the car will do all the driving, seen here at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 13, 2023.
In fact, autonomous technology might come first to the much less sexy world of freight haulage.
Fatigue is a leading cause of trucking accidents, and truck makers see autonomous driving as a way to cut down on accidents and deaths.
Volvo has been studying the idea of road trains as part of a European Union project. The idea is simple: a procession of cars or trucks each automatically follows the one in front as they travel down the highway. The only driver who needs to be paying attention is the one at the head of the procession, as the others will speed up and slow down in time with the lead car.
In the U.S., Daimler recently demonstrated a truck called the Freightliner Inspiration that includes an autopilot mode. For use on highways, it will keep the truck in its lane and a safe distance and speed from other cars, but it’s only permitted in Nevada. Regulations of such matters are handled on a state-by-state basis in the U.S.
A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group found 55 percent of 1,510 U.S. consumers questioned thought themselves likely or very likely to at least consider purchasing a partially autonomous car over the next 10 years. But that drops to 44 percent when asked about a fully autonomous car.
One of the most requested features is the ability to take over in heavy traffic. There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than sitting behind the wheel in a traffic jam, inching forward slowly while you wait out the queue.Alternative Fuels
These are cousins of electric cars in that they have the same drive train but the electricity to power the car’s motor comes from a fuel cell rather than a battery. The fuel cell takes hydrogen from a tank and strips off electrons to produce a flow of electricity. The only byproduct is water, so it’s being pushed by automakers as a very clean alternative to gasoline, and because the hydrogen tank can be refilled in just a few minutes, it’s much more convenient than electric cars, which might require several hours of charging.
Unfortunately, it’s still quite energy-intensive to produce hydrogen in a form suitable for cars, so the entire energy chain isn’t as green as it could be.
Car makers have been testing fuel cells for years and Toyota and Honda are now on the verge of commercializing the technology. Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell car, the Mirai, will go on sale this year in California and can travel about 300 miles on a single charge of hydrogen. Refilling the tank takes about five minutes — much faster than a comparable charge for an electric vehicle.
Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle on show at CES 2023 in Las Vegas on January 5, 2023.
The final step in future transportation concerns how we get around towns and cities after we’ve journeyed there by car or train.
Perhaps the most famous idea was the Segway, which launched in 2001 as the future of urban transportation but has found niche applications at best.
A model demonstrates the Toyota Winglet robotic transporter at a Tokyo news conference on August 1, 2008.
The Toyota Winglet prototype is a two-wheeler that the rider stands on, much like the Segway. But it’s much smaller and lighter. It has been tested in an airport in Japan, but as yet there are no plans to commercialize it.
Riders try out Honda’s Uni-Cub during an event at the company’s Silicon Valley R&D Center in Mountain View on July 23, 2023.
Honda’s Uni-Cub is a single wheeler with an integrated seat. An ingenious two-wheels-in-one arrangement means it can move forwards and sideways on its wheel. Like the Winglet, there are no plans to commercialize it.
Holland’s Oxboard has come up with an even more compact way to get around town. You have to stand and be pretty steady, but it’s easy to get used to and moves surprisingly fast.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that a team of researchers in China were treating terminally ill cancer patients with the gene-editing technique known colloquially as CRISPR. According to the Journal‘s report, the Chinese researchers are attempting to halt disease progression in patients with esophageal cancer by tweaking a piece of DNA in some of their white blood cells. This adjustment changes the way their immune system fights the cancer.
But how did China edge out the United States to become the first to use CRISPR in humans? American researchers were, after all, the ones who discovered the techniques’ ability to tweak and alter DNA. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, America is right up on China’s heels. Carl June, a pioneer in immunotherapy cancer treatment at the University of Pennsylvania is awaiting clearance to begin similar trials of his own—using the techniques of CRISPR on immunotherapy (harnessing the immune system to fight cancer)-based treatments for certain malignancies. He might get clearance from the FDA as early as next month.
According to Nature, the American trials will be similar to the newly-approved immunotherapy treatment called Kymriah. The treatment involves removing a person’s blood and isolating their T-cells. Using another form of gene-editing, a disabled HIV virus attaches a receptor to the T-cells (a type of white blood cell). The re-engineered T-cells then grow and proliferate in the lab. When ready, doctors infuse the newly engineered T-cells back into the cancer patient’s body where they go to work finding cancer cells and killing them. While this treatment can be highly effective (often in people who have exhausted every other medical option available), the process itself is extremely time consuming, and it often doesn’t work for everyone. The goal of this new immunotherapy trial involving CRISPR is two-fold: To see if using CRISPR-based therapies is indeed safe for humans and if CRISPR would help make therapies like Kymriah more efficient and effective.
If approved, the new phase one human trial would use CRISPR to tweak the DNA in a person’s T-cells in three ways: The first would do the same as the HIV virus in the Kymriah approach, attaching a receptor that finds cancer. The second would remove a protein that has the potential to mess with the receptor. A third tweak would prevent a cancer cell from finding the T-cell by removing a protein that acts as a tracking device, so to speak, for the malignant cell. If successful, these changes could make immunotherapy far more effective. And, because CRISPR is relatively easy to use in a laboratory setting, it could make treatments that use the process far more efficient, potentially increasing availability and decreasing the time (and money) spent to make the drug.
But China is already so far along, and in some instances, their efforts are showing positive results. If American researchers led the CRISPR discovery and early race, what handicap is allowing China to gain the lead? It’s a little something called the FDA. And it’s worth the lost race. To gain approval for their trial, Chinese researchers had to present their plan to the hospital’s ethics committee. According to the Wall Street Journal, this committee is made up of a handful of the hospital’s doctors, a lawyer, and a former cancer patient. The group discussed the issues for a few hours before they greenlit the human trial.
The FDA’s caution is high for anything that uses gene editing or CRISPR. But other drugs go through an extremely rigorous process, as well. This is all for good reason: Before the FDA existed, manufacturers could market and sell any drug without needing to say what’s in it and without needing to show that it could actually treat the thing that you were buying it to treat. While it’s hard to sit with the idea of potentially losing a medical breakthrough race, it’s important to remember how and why the United States created the FDA in the first place.
Today, we take prescription drugs knowing exactly what the side effects could be and what the general probability of them occurring is. But imagine taking a new drug without knowing these vital pieces of information. Would you still swallow it? We don’t often think about the arduous and long process drugs now go through before they reach our bodies. But these processes are there for an extremely good reason. Consider the fecal transplant. The treatment, which involves collecting stool from a volunteer and administering it to a person with a severe gut infection caused by a bacteria called clostridium difficile, shows immense success, but it is not yet approved by the FDA.
Part of the reason is that the treatment is, like CRISPR studies, entering uncharted territory. There’s so much scientists still don’t understand about the human gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria that live in our intestines) and its effects on our health. Transplanting one person’s gut microbiome into another person’s could indeed cure them of their infection, but it could also cause unwanted consequences. The microbiome has an effect on both our digestion and our immune systems. Theoretically, the recipient of a fecal transplant could be at a higher risk of developing immune system disorders because of the gut microbes they now have. At the same time, just like those cancer patients in the CRISPR immunotherapy trials, C. diff patients are often in a life-threatening situation and the fecal transplant is a last ditch effort to clear up the infection. Researchers admit that it’s hard to know for sure how safe you have to be when these people who could potentially benefit from this treatment are in a life-threatening situation. In the immunotherapy studies, most patients have exhausted all other available treatments.
For a drug to reach your medicine cabinet, it needs to have gone through three phases of clinical trials. Phase one is simply to show that a drug or therapy isn’t toxic. If a drug makes it past that point, it moves on to phase two which it must again maintain that it is non toxic, but also prove that its effective, doing to the job that it’s meant to do. In phase three, researchers must test the drug against the currently available treatment for the condition (if there is one) the new drug is attempting to treat. If a drug doesn’t work any better than one currently on the market and there’s no other redeeming qualities like it being cheaper, or its side effects are less intense, then its much harder for drug companies to gain FDA approval to start selling the drug.
Each step of this process is long and arduous but the hurdles are there for two main and super important reasons: To determine what the drug’s toxicity (in other words, what are its chances of killing you or causing other forms of short and long term damage to your body?) and, does it actually do what it says its supposed to do? If a drug is supposed to reduce the symptoms of heartburn, does it actually do that? This all seems obvious that this kind of testing should exist. But the only reason it does, is because there was a time when it didn’t.
Back in 1906, the United States Congress passed the original Food and Drug Act (the precursor to today’s Food and Drug Administration). At that point, the law’s main purpose was to prevent the buying and selling of food, drinks, and drugs from having any form of mislabeling or tainting. Simply, the product had to contain what it said it contained on the label.
The current regulations governing the FDA’s testing process are a product of our own mistakes. In 1937, as soon as a drug called Elixir Sulfanilamide reached the market, it quickly caused the deaths of 107 people, many of whom were children. The active ingredient in the drug, sulfanilamide, was used at the time as a type of antibiotic used to treat anything from gonorrhea to strep throat. The drug originally came in the form of a pill. But one pharmaceutical company, the S.E. Massengill Company, decided that the therapy would be even more popular if it came in the form of a flavored liquid. So they had a chemist mix sulfanilamide, with diethylene glycol, and water—plus a little bit of raspberry flavoring. Once ready, they labeled it accordingly, and distributed gallons of it across the country—and pharmacies readily purchased it.
Diethylene glycol is highly miscible, that is, it’s great at mixing together any particle into a well-formed liquid. As such, the new formulation was deemed a great success. Until people started actually taking it. Turns out that in addition to its high miscibility, diethylene glycol is also extremely poisonous to humans, and causes immediate acute kidney failure. Death reports soon started coming in of people who had taken the liquid medicine. It was swiftly taken off the market. The thing is, the drug went immediately from the laboratory to the medicine cabinet. No testing beforehand whatsoever. So, the following year, in 1938, the United States passed the The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which required that new drugs had to show that they were safe before they started selling them—essentially what phase one in the clinical trial approval process is today. This began an entirely new wave of regulations, each year bringing us one step closer to the highly arduous process we have today. Regrettably, sulfanilamide wasn’t the only infamous incident that tweaked this regulatory process. Other tragedies over the past century have shaped it as well.
In the now infamous case of thalidomide of the 1960s, the drug (thalidomide) was a sleeping pill that quickly became widely popular in Germany. Soon after Australian doctors discovered that it could also alleviate the nausea caused by morning sickness in pregnancy. So doctors started to prescribe the drug, off-label (a practice still very much in use today) to pregnant women. But while there had been some testing done beforehand to determine the drug was safe for humans to take, no one had done any studying of the drugs effects on a developing fetus. As the world soon found, it can cause severe birth defects; specifically causing the shortening or complete absence of limbs. This, in part, led the U.S. to create much more stringent laws around drug dispensing, requiring drug makers to prove their drug works before it can gain FDA approval.
We have birth control to thank for laws mandating that drugs come with patient packet inserts listing every side effect available and the chances of each one occurring. Initially birth control was almost taken off the market due to its dangerous side effects. But rightfully, women pressed that they wanted to be given a choice first, whether they would agree to taking a drug with the risk of whatever side effects. Today, that’s typically how drugs are presented by physicians to their patients—weighing the benefits versus the risks, which are clearly and accurately made available, and allowing the patient to choose.
Learning from our past, it is wise that we remain cautious and go through the regulatory procedures that have been a century in the making.
Let’s have a look at these 7 signs to know whether you are a potential data scientist or notIntroduction
Data Science has not just become the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century” but one of the most exciting job roles. You get to make an impact at the company-wide level with the latest technology and algorithms.
How does a person know that he needs to pursue Data Science? What are the qualities of a Data Scientist that one must look for? He may be interested in coding, building new tech, is patient at debugging. For example, a mathematics aspirant knows he wants to become a mathematician due to his interest in mathematical concepts and a knack for solving problems. So what are the signs that define a data scientist and one must look within themselves to know if they are a potential data scientist or not?
The role of a data scientist is really crucial to the whole organization and the economy as a whole. But the problem is – there is a shortage of “Skilled” data scientists globally. The AI and ML Blackbelt+ program aims to make you an industry-ready certified data science professional with 14+ courses, 39+ real-life projects, and 1:1 mentorship sessions so that you are never off-track.
If you are new to the world of data science, I suggest you go through the data science roadmap –
Table of Contents
Love Number Crunching
You are always up for solving Puzzles
Enjoy solving unstructured problems
You are curious – always asking “Why?”
You have a knack for problem-solving
Enjoy deep research
Love telling Stories – Great at presenting1. Love Number Crunching and Solving Puzzles
If you love crunching numbers and solving logical problems based on probability, statistics, puzzles then chances are that you have a natural tendency of becoming a data scientist or a business analyst. By “love”, I don’t mean calculating the bill split among your friends accurately, but a craze that reaches to next level.
For example, guessing the number of boys in India that are under 15 years. This is known as guess estimate and Data science interviewers love asking these questions. I have found the perfect article for you to understand problem-solving as data scientists –2. Enjoy solving unstructured problems
Unstructured problems are everywhere around us. In an Edtech company, the management may be asking – how do we increase the revenue on our courses? Whereas in a social networking company, the question maybe – How do we increase the user retention on our app. Do you notice something wrong with these questions? Well, these are unstructured problems.
An important aspect of being a data scientist is the ability to form well-defined goals. A structured approach to the above question can be – To retain 20% more customers through the slide-down feature in the next 3 months. The goal should represent What? Why? How?
Next time, if you find yourself in the middle of a problem and you find yourself breaking down the problem into smaller goals, this might be a good starting sign of becoming a data scientist.3. You are curious – always asking “Why?”
Do you find yourself questioning other people’s assumptions? Are you not able to end your day without asking “Why this? Why that? Why this over that?” You may be a natural fit to become a data scientist.
For example, in the above example, you may want to question the management and ask – Why do we want to retain customers? Can we retain only the paying customers? why focus on retention rather than user acquisition?
Some of the best data scientists would stop anyone and ask for a rationale if they are not clear – Why did you ask this question? What was your thought process? Why do you assume so? are just a few examples of these questions!
Do you find yourself in the middle of these signs? You love problem-solving but don’t love mathematics by heart? A lot of these qualities can be gained with practice. The AI and ML Blackbelt+ certified Data Science program aims to take you from zero-to-hero with its 14+ courses, 39+ real-life projects, and 1:1 mentorship sessions with experts!4. You have a knack for problem-solving
The easiest sign that tells you are a potential data scientist is the addiction to solving problems. The fridge is not working? You try to identify the root cause of the problem. The sales of your company have decreased the quarter, you try to understand the root cause of the problem.
Data Scientist’s role is not just to apply machine learning algorithms to build an accurate model, it is to formulate a problem statement, form a hypothesis, data analysis, data model, and then finding the best results and communicating to the management. Each of these steps requires a knack for solving problems.5. Enjoy Deep Research
A Data scientist needs to sit on a single problem statement for a long duration of time, going back and forth to the stakeholders to understand their requirements, trying out different hypotheses, mining data, different modeling techniques until the results have been achieved.
Are you someone who finds themselves not giving up until the problem has been solved? Studying and Googling and researching on a single problem. When was the last time you spent hours and hours immersed in solving a problem? Can you do that again and again?6. Love telling Stories – Great at presenting
There is always a person in the room who tells amazing stories. No one can resist listening to him and he impresses everyone with his storytelling skills. Are you that person?
A Data scientist needs to be great at storytelling. What is the use of all the hard work, if he is not able to influence his stakeholders? Communicating with data and presenting stories backed by data is one of the most important elements in the life of a data scientist.7. Love Experimentations
Do you find yourself experimenting at any time in the day? I don’t mean science experiments. A part of being a data scientist is to be curious.
What is the best mode of transportation to the office? If I find traffic at the X traffic signal, what is my estimated time of arrival? What if I travel halfway through the bus and then take the metro at the signal where I find traffic 90% of the time? These problems seem trivial but a large part of your life is going to be filled with experimentations.
If you love to experiment and play with curiosity in your daily life then being a data scientist is going to be a fun job for you!End Notes
Being a data scientist is one of the most exciting roles and I love being part of this awesome community.
Were you able to relate to the points mentioned above? You are probably going to enjoy being a data scientist and do some amazing work in this field. The AI and ML Blackbelt+ program aims to nurture your talent as a data scientist and make you an industry-ready professional. You can check out the program here.
Which point were you able to relate to the most?
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