How do you listen?

 

“How do you listen? Do you listen with your projections, through your projection, through your ambitions, desires, fears, anxieties, through hearing only what you want to hear, only what will be satisfactory, what will gratify, what will give comfort, what will for the moment alleviate your suffering?

If you listen through the screen of your desires, then you obviously listen to your own voice; you are listening to your own desires. And is there any other form of listening?

Is it not important to find out how to listen not only to what is being said but to everything – to the noise in the streets, to the chatter of birds, to the noise of the tramcar, to the restless sea, to the voice of your husband, to your wife, to your friends, to the cry of a baby?

Listening has importance only when on is not projecting one’s own desires through which one listens. Can one put aside all these screens through which we listen, and really listen?”

Inhaled Poison

 

A strange vaping-related respiratory illness is sweeping the United States, afflicting more than 800 patients and killing at least 16. Officials still aren’t sure what’s causing “vape lung,” but theories range from the oils in vaping cartridges to fumes from the vaping devices themselves.

In an attempt to solve the mystery, a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed samples of lung tissue taken from 17 vape lung sufferers, publishing the results of their analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What they saw when they looked at those samples is downright disturbing: injuries that looked like the ones suffered by people exposed to mustard gas and other poisons.

“All 17 of our cases show a pattern of injury in the lung that looks like a toxic chemical exposure, a toxic chemical fume exposure, or a chemical burn injury,” surgical pathologist Brandon T. Larsen told The New York Times.

“To be honest,” he continued, “they look like the kind of change you would expect to see in an unfortunate worker in an industrial accident where a big barrel of toxic chemicals spills, and that person is exposed to toxic fumes and there is a chemical burn in the airways.”

Larsen told the NYT that the researchers didn’t notice any oil buildup in the samples, meaning suspicions that vaping oils themselves cause vape lung might be unfounded.

Two of the patients whose lung samples the Mayo team analyzed have already died as a result of their lung damage. But according to Larsen, even patients who don’t succumb to the respiratory illness may face a lifetime of issues because of it.

“Based on the severity of injury we see, at least in some of these cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if we wind up with people down the road having chronic respiratory problems from this,” he told the NYT. “Some seem to recover. I don’t think we know what the long-term consequences will be.”

White House Cybersecurity Director

 

See Ya

The White House’s cybersecurity team is in a state of turmoil.

In an internal memo obtained by Axios, senior White House cybersecurity director Dimitrios Vastakis detailed his frustration with how the Trump administration has managed a mission established to protect the White House from digital security threats — and then submitted his resignation.

Real Subtle

The Obama administration established the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO) in 2014 after it discovered evidence that Russia had breached White House computers. In July, the Trump administration folded OCISO into the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Since then, leadership has attempted to remove the remaining OCISO staff by “reducing the scope of duties, reducing access to programs, revoking access to buildings, and revoking positions with strategic and tactical decision making authorities,” Vastakis wrote in his memo.

Chaos Reigns

To date, at least a dozen OCISO officials have either resigned from or been pushed out, and all that chaos has Vastakis concerned about the future security of White House data.

“Unfortunately, given all of the changes I’ve seen in the past three months,” he wrote, “I foresee the White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again.”

And Vastakis isn’t going to be around to watch it happen.

READ MORE: Scoop: Cyber memo warns of new risks to White House network [Axios]
More on cybersecurity: Congressman: The 2020 Election Is Not Safe From Hackers

Black Holes Dark Energy

 

Well Actually

Some of the black holes floating around our universe might actually be something else entirely.

It’s possible that some may be blobs of dark energy, the mysterious theoretical force thought to be pushing the universe’s outward expansion, according to Live Science. A pair of University of Hawaii scientists arrived at the unexpected conclusion when they were trying to make sense of that expansion — and if their work holds up it could rewrite our understanding of the cosmos.

Space Blobs

Conventional physics holds that a black hole’s singularity is an infinitely dense point that exerts a gravitational pull so strong that it absorbs anything that ventures too close. But some black holes may actually be dense masses of dark energy that grow larger as the universe expands, whether or not they feed on anything nearby, according to research published in The Astrophysical Journal in August.

In a second study posted on the preprint server ArXiv last month, the team found that the interactions of these theoretical objects could have caused some of the more bizarre and difficult to explain gravitational waves that were detected a few years back, Live Science reports.

Measure Twice

In essence, replacing black holes with these so-called Generic Objects of Dark Energy would help explain several mysteries of the cosmos. But theoretical calculations aside, their work hasn’t yet been confirmed.

And other experts are far from convinced. Vitor Cardoso, a physicist at Portugal’s Instituto Superior Técnico told Live Science that the new models are “counterintuitive and hard to digest.”

READ MORE: Black Holes As We Know Them May Not Exist [Live Science]
More on black holes: New “Chameleon Theory” Could Explain Dark Energy, How Galaxies Formed

Considering an Interstellar Mission

 

Going Interstellar

A group of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory are eager to send a probe into interstellar space, Wired reports. Pending NASA’s approval, they claim the project could launch as soon as 2030.

It could represent “humanity’s first explicit step into interstellar space,” as team member at the Applied Physics Laboratory Pontus Brandt told Wired, years after Voyager 1 became the first-ever human-built spacecraft to reach interstellar space.

Rocket Plan

The basic outline of their proposal, which arose out of a NASA supported interstellar probe study last year, is to launch a spacecraft that weighs less than 1,700 pounds on NASA’s upcoming — but much delayed and over budget — Space Launch System rocket.

It would then use gravity assist to sling it to speeds over 100,000 miles per hour — fast enough to leave the Solar System. The goal is to travel 92 billion miles from Earth in less than 15 years. In comparison, it took almost 40 years for Voyager 1 and 2 to get to just 13 billion miles.

Leaving the Heliosphere

While Voyager 1 and 2 were only outfitted with basic instruments, the proposed spacecraft will be have a host of sensors that could gain a better understanding of interstellar space — which remains largely mysterious to today’s scientists.

And leaving the heliosphere, the bubble-like region of space around the Sun, could provide additional opportunities.

“We’re sitting inside a bubble trying to figure out what shape it is, which is extremely hard,” Brandt told Wired. “The uniqueness of an interstellar probe is that we can go out and take a picture of our habitable little bubble in space.”

READ MORE: NASA Is Getting Serious About an Interstellar Mission [Wired]
More on interstellar space: After the Moon and Mars, NASA Wants to Head to Alpha Centauri in 2069