Shazam, the app that listens and recognizes what song is playing, has been a cutting-edge product since the company’s inception in 1999. The company’s widely useful and universally in-demand audio recognition technology has put them at the forefront of the space for years, and made Shazam one of the most popular apps in the world. To “Shazam” is now widely recognized and utilized as a verb in conversation.According to a report from TechCrunch, the British company is in the process of finalizing a deal to sell Shazam to U.S. tech giant Apple for sums estimated to be north of $400M. The move will allow Apple to further improve their music delivery capabilities and make for a more immersive listening experience for their customers.In recent years, the company has extended the technology beyond helping you remember “who sings that song that’s playing right now” It also integrates with other apps like Snapchat and Apple’s Siri, and it currently sends lots of traffic to other music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, which pay Shazam when those clicks convert to purchases. The Shazam app is now used as an interactive tool for advertisers, bars and restaurants, music venues and more. Shazam’s augmented reality brand marketing service lets you discover content based on pictures that you snap with the app. “You came for music, stay to experience McDonald’s Karaoke, MTN Dew VR Racing and much more,” is the company’s pitch on this feature.It’s not clear which of these operations will carry on post-acquisition, and which of these might be something that Apple would integrate into its own business (and how), but it’s notable that much of what Shazam does is very synergistic with what Apple apple already has in place and in the works. It’s likely that the technology will be used to attract more users to the Apple Music platform.This is not the first large-scale acquisition Apple has made in the music space in recent memory. In 2014, Apple acquired Beats for more than $3B, and absorbed Beats’ executive team–including Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, and Trent Reznor–into the Apple family to continue pushing the limits of the product/service they created with the help of the tech monolith. Beats became the basis for Apple Music, which has roughly 30 million users as of this Fall (Spotify has 60 million paying customers, and 140 million overall).We are excited to see what the inventive minds at Apple will be able to think up to improve the music listening experience using Shazam’s unique technology.[via TechChrunch]
Individual cancer-causing mutations have a minute effect on tumor growth, increasing the rate of cell division by just 0.4 percent on average, according to new mathematical modeling by scientists at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and other institutions.The research, appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reinforces that cancer is the culmination of many accumulated mutations. It also highlights the fundamental heterogeneity and randomness of many cancers, consistent with the observations of epidemiologists and clinicians.“This work suggests that significant tumor growth probably requires the slow and steady accumulation of multiple mutations in a cell over a number of years,” says lead author Ivana Božić, a doctoral student in Harvard’s Department of Mathematics and Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. “It also helps explain why so many cancer-driving mutations are needed to form an advanced malignancy within the lifetime of an individual.”All cells undergo regular division and death, processes that ordinarily balance out each other. In cancer this balance is broken, leading to invasive tumors that crowd out healthy cells and spread.“While emerging data from the sequencing of cancer genomes are illuminating, their reconciliation with epidemiological and clinical observations poses a major challenge,” she says. “Our novel mathematical model begins to address this disconnect.”Božić’s work adds to scientists’ recent efforts to differentiate between “driver” and “passenger” mutations in tumors. Researchers have found that most solid tumors contain 40 to 100 mutations in coding genes, but that on average only 5 to 15 of these actually drive tumor growth. The others are simply along for the ride: associated with driver mutations, but not benefiting the tumor.Tumors begin growing with the first mutation that provides an advantage over other cells, allowing them to grow ever-so-slightly faster than their neighbors. But as these driver mutations slowly accumulate in a given cell, the effect is akin to the accelerating growth of savings through compound interest: Increasingly rapid cell division feeds the ever-faster addition of more driver mutations.Božić’s work hints that the time elapsed between driver mutations in a nascent tumor may be key to ultimate outcomes.“For instance, we find that an individual who goes 20 years without experiencing a second driver mutation in the same cell might never see the tumor grow to more than a few thousandths of a gram,” she says. “But a second driver mutation within five years may develop within 25 years into a tumor weighing hundreds of grams.”These predictions are consistent with clinical observations that it generally takes 30 or more years for human cancers to develop from initiated cells. Božić and colleagues also verified the accuracy of their model by testing against clinical data from two well-studied tumors, glioblastoma multiforme and pancreatic adenocarcinoma.In addition to clarifying the advantage bestowed by each driver mutation, Božić and colleagues provide a formula for estimating the number of these in a given tumor.“Needless to say, figuring out which mutations, and how many mutations, are drivers of cancer is very important in developing effective therapies,” she says. “We hope our work will help drive new lines of research into future treatments.”Božić’s co-authors on the current PNAS paper are Tibor Antal and Martin A. Nowak of Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics; Hannah Carter, Dewey Kim, Rachel Karchin, Kenneth W. Kinzler, and Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University; Hisashi Ohtsuki of the Tokyo Institute of Technology; and Sining Chen of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Their work was sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and J. Epstein.
“You don’t need masks. There is a cure,” Dr. Stella Immanuel promised in a video that promoted hydroxychloroquine. “You don’t need people to be locked down.” Public health officials changed their tune when it became apparent that the virus could spread among people showing no symptoms. Judy Mikovits, the discredited doctor behind “Plandemic,” had been set to appear on the show “America This Week” on the Sinclair Broadcast Group. But the company, which operates TV stations in 81 U.S. markets, canned the segment, saying it was “not appropriate” to air. Yet trusted medical authorities are often being dismissed by those who say requiring people to wear masks is a step toward authoritarianism. He said the fear is that “people are putting themselves in harm’s way because they don’t believe the virus is something they have to deal with.” Early in the pandemic, medical authorities themselves were the source of much confusion regarding masks. In February, officials like the U.S. surgeon general urged Americans not to stockpile masks because they were needed by medical personnel and might not be effective in everyday situations. Still, mask skeptics are a vocal minority and have come together to create social media pages where many false claims about mask safety are shared. Facebook has removed some of the pages—such as the group Unmasking America!, which had nearly 10,000 members—but others remain. A video of a woman attacking a mask display at an Arizona Target received almost 84,000 likes on Twitter. Rather than fade away in the face of new evidence, the claims have flourished, fed by mixed messages from officials, transmitted by social media, amplified by some leaders and mutating when confronted with contradictory facts. That’s not surprising, according to University of Central Florida psychology professor Chrysalis Wright, who studies misinformation. She said conspiracy theory believers often engage in mental gymnastics to make their beliefs conform with reality. Other baseless theories and hoaxes have alleged that the virus isn’t real or that it’s a bioweapon created by the U.S. or its adversaries. One hoax from the outbreak’s early months claimed new 5G towers were spreading the virus through microwaves. Another popular story held that Microsoft founder Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in all 7 billion humans on the planet. ___ He is in the minority. A recent AP/NORC poll found that 3 in 4 Americans—Democrats and Republicans alike—support a national mask mandate. Many of the claims around masks allege harmful effects, such as blocked oxygen flow or even a greater chance of infection. The claims have been widely debunked by doctors. “While face masks don’t lower your oxygen levels. COVID definitely does,” he warned. New York City resident Carlos Lopez said he wears a mask when required to do so but doesn’t believe it is necessary. Experts worry the torrent of bad information is dangerously undermining efforts to slow the virus, whose death toll in the U.S. hit 150,000 Wednesday, by far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Over a half-million people have died in the rest of the world. This week, U.S. government officials speaking on condition of anonymity cited what they said was a clear link between Russian intelligence and websites with stories designed to spread disinformation on the coronavirus in the West. Russian officials rejected the accusations. Twitter and Facebook began removing the video on Monday for violating policies on COVID-19 misinformation, but it had already been seen more than 20 million times. The president only recently began wearing a mask in public.The mixed signals hurt, Fauci acknowledged on an interview with NPR this month. Social media has amplified the claims and helped believers find each other. The flood of misinformation has posed a challenge for Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, which have found themselves accused of censorship for taking down virus misinformation. “It is a real challenge in terms of trying to get the message to the public about what they can really do to protect themselves and what the facts are behind the problem., said Michael Osterholm, head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Many of the claims in Immanuel’s video are widely disputed by medical experts. She has made even more bizarre pronouncements in the past, saying that cysts, fibroids and some other conditions can be caused by having sex with demons, that McDonald’s and Pokemon promote witchcraft, that alien DNA is used in medical treatments, and that half-human “reptilians” work in the government. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman) Then there are the political theories—that doctors, journalists and federal officials are conspiring to lie about the threat of the virus to hurt Trump politically. Of all the bizarre and myriad claims about the virus, those regarding masks are proving to be among the most stubborn. As the world races to find a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19, there is seemingly no antidote in sight for the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus conspiracy theories, hoaxes, anti-mask myths and sham cures. Associated Press writers Beatrice Dupuy in New York, Eric Tucker in Washington, and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.AP Hard-hit Florida reported 216 deaths, breaking the single-day record it set a day earlier. And South Carolina’s death toll passed 1,500 this week, more than doubling over the past month. “People only want to hear what they already think they know,” she said. A professionally made 26-minute video that alleges the government’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, manufactured the virus and shipped it to China was watched more than 8 million times before the platforms took action. The video, titled “Plandemic,” also warned that masks could make you sick—the false claim Facebook cited when it removed the video down from its site. The phenomenon, unfolding largely on social media, escalated this week when President Donald Trump retweeted a false video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure for the virus and it was revealed that Russian intelligence is spreading disinformation about the crisis through English-language websites. O Tuathail witnessed just how unshakable COVID-19 misinformation can be when, after broadcasting his video, he received emails from people who said he cheated, or didn’t wear the mask long enough to feel the negative effects. Dr. Maitiu O Tuathail of Ireland grew so concerned about mask misinformation he posted an online video of himself comfortably wearing a mask while measuring his oxygen levels. The video has been viewed more than 20 million times. “They’re politicizing it as a tool,” he said. “I think it’s more to try to get Trump to lose. It’s more a scare tactic.” The truth: Federal regulators last month revoked their authorization of the drug as an emergency treatment amid growing evidence it doesn’t work and can have deadly side effects. Even if it were effective, it wouldn’t negate the need for masks and other measures to contain the outbreak. “The message early on became confusing,” he said.