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North Korea dispatches an additional 600 balloons filled with garbage to South Korea





North Korea initiated a subsequent barrage of balloons filled with garbage towards South Korea following a comparable operation that occurred only a few days prior. The North’s intention to provoke their neighboring rivals may appear evident, but the significance of the balloons in Korea is rooted in a rich historical context.

According to the Associated Press, approximately 600 balloons launched from North Korea were discovered in different locations across South Korea during the previous weekend. The balloons contained only non-hazardous materials such as cigarette butts, cloth scraps, paper waste, plastic, and other common household garbage.

The news arrives within a week following the dispatch of 260 balloons containing manure and other waste materials from North Korea to South Korea on Tuesday night.

North Korea has acknowledged its responsibility for the balloon launches, asserting that it is a retaliatory measure against South Korea’s persistent practice of sending balloons filled with anti-Pyongyang propaganda across the border.

“Large quantities of refuse and dirt will soon be dispersed throughout the border regions and the interior of South Korea.” “It will directly perceive the extent of the exertion needed to eliminate them,” stated Kim Kang Il, a deputy defense minister of North Korea, as reported by the New York Times on Saturday.

North Korea has announced its cessation of the practice of launching balloons filled with garbage across the border into South Korea. However, it has issued a warning that it may resume these activities if South Korea dares to engage in similar actions.

Balloon propaganda campaigns have been employed in Korea since the Korean War of 1950–1953, which was a civil conflict that turned into a proxy war and resulted in the division of the nation. For many years, South Koreans have been sending various materials that provide information about the outside world and the true nature of North Korea’s authoritarian regime. These materials include Bibles, dollar bills, and USB drives containing South Korean TV shows. Meanwhile, the North would retaliate by disseminating anti-South Korean propaganda, including satirical illustrations depicting their leaders forming close alliances with Americans.

In 2020, the South Korean government implemented a ban on the transmission of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets to North Korea. This action was taken as part of a broader effort to promote inter-Korean engagement, following a long period of hostility between the two nations. Nevertheless, in recent years, certain prominent courts in Seoul have resisted the law, asserting that it violates freedom of speech.

Inter-Korean relations have reached their lowest point in recent years, possibly even since the Korean War. The recent release of balloons from North Korea is exacerbating the situation. The South Korean National Security Council has decided to completely suspend the 2018 inter-Korean reduction pact in response to the recent influx of balloons. This suspension will remain in effect until mutual trust is restored between the two Koreas.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Medicine and Health

There are signs of the COVID virus in the body years after the first infection





COVID-19 used to mean coughing for two weeks and not being able to smell your new candle. Then we learned about Long COVID, which is a vague grouping of more than 200 symptoms that can be very bad months or even years after the main illness seems to have gone away.

We’re still not sure what’s causing the long-lasting condition four years after the pandemic began, but a new study that tracked 24 Covid patients for up to 900 days found a possible cause that hadn’t been seen before: your T cells.

This isn’t the first study to find a link between COVID-19 and these immune cells. Just last month, a study from Imperial College London suggested that targeted T cell therapies might be able to help fight the disease. But it has been going on for a long time—it was started in 2020, long before most people thought COVID-19 might stay in the body.

But that’s not the only thing that makes it unique. The people who worked on the study got ideas from studying HIV, a disease that is basically defined by its ability to kill T cells. Since they couldn’t keep an eye on antibodies so early in the pandemic, they used PET scans to look at how T cells behaved inside the body after infection.

A professor of immunology at Imperial College London and co-author of the Penguin Handbook of Long Covid and lead investigator of the NIHR WILCO LONG COVID Study, Danny Altmann, said, “It’s a new approach that lets them map activated T cells in the body.” Altmann was not involved in the study.

He said, “They find patterns of long-term T cell activation that may help to explain patterns of long-term Covid symptoms.” “For instance, people with breathing problems had activated T cells that stayed in the lungs for a long time.”

Activated T cells were seen flocking to the gut wall in other scans, which led the team to look at gut biopsies. As before, they found COVID-19 RNA, which Altmann called a “long-term virus reservoir.”

Six control samples were used to make the result even more clear. These were scans from before the pandemic, “before anyone on the planet could’ve possibly had this virus,” Michael Peluso, lead author of the paper and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Stat. In these scans, T cells were activated, and they were mostly found in places that are known to help get rid of inflammation, like the liver and kidneys. People with Long Covid had them all over.

It’s very interesting, Peluso said. “This is happening in someone’s spinal cord, GI tract, heart wall, or lungs, my goodness!”

Unfortunately, the study isn’t a sure thing—the researchers aren’t sure what the T cells are reacting to and whether the scans are showing old infections or live virus particles—but it’s still interesting. “A lot of inferential data supports the idea that one of the main reasons for long-term Covid may be that some people don’t get rid of the virus properly and have SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs in their tissues,” Altmann said. “But it’s been hard to prove.”

“This study should be seen as a big step toward better understanding how this disease works,” he said. “This brings us closer to treatments that could give hope to the tens of millions of patients.”

It is very important to have new clinical trials right now, and studies like this help show the way.

The study is written up in the Science Translational Medicine journal.

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Medicine and Health

Not many people know what a QR code stands for yet





During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes made a surprising comeback as a “touchless” way to send information. Some restaurants and bars still ask customers to scan a QR code to see the menu, which makes people unhappy. This is a holdover from lockdowns. But surprisingly, few people know the long and interesting history of QR codes. In fact, not many people even know what the initials stand for.

“Quick Response” is what QR stands for. Masahiro Hara and his team at DENSO, a Japanese company that worked on the development of barcode technology, came up with the code system in 1994.

Automobile factories called the company and said that barcodes were no longer working because each one could only hold about 20 characters of information. As car companies’ inventory grew, their boxes needed more and more barcodes, which was very inefficient for their workers.

Hara, who is now the chief engineer at DENSO, had an “aha!” moment when he looked at the board of the strategic game Go and realized how much data it could store.

“We knew what we were doing because we had been making barcode readers for ten years.” Hara told The Guardian in 2020, “I was looking at the board and thought that the way the stones were lined up along the grids… could be a good way to get a lot of information across at once.”


























QR codes were a huge hit in Japanese auto factories, but Hara was surprised at how many other uses people found for them, like making payments and keeping track of infections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fact that it was used to make people safer makes me very happy. In 1994, we were interested in how it could be used in the economy. “We had no idea it would be used for this,” Hara said.

A normal QR code can hold up to 7,089 numbers, 4,296 letters and numbers, 2,953 bytes of data, or 1,817 kanji characters. This is a lot more data than a simple barcode can hold. Scanners can still read the code, even if it is messed up or hard to see. This is very useful in the real world, where things can change quickly.

Hara wants to make his masterpiece even better, though. During Ahmedabad Design Week 4.0 in January 2023, he gave a hint that he was working on the QR Code 2.0.

“I am coming up with a new QR code right now.” But it will take some time. “The new code system will have colors and may be rectangular instead of square like the current one,” the inverter was said to have said at the event.

“The new QR (quick response) code will be made so that it can hold more data than the current design,” he said.

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A new study shows that the Atlantic Gulf Stream was surprisingly strong during the last ice age





The world was stuck in a big ice age 20,000 years ago. Ice sheets that were two miles thick covered a large portion of North America, Scandinavia, and the British Isles.

Greenhouse gas levels were much lower, it was 6 °C colder, and the sea level was at least 120 meters lower because of all the water trapped in ice sheets. This made the land that is now underwater visible. From France to London, you could have walked through Doggerland. From Russia to Alaska, you could have walked through Beringia.

But our study, which is now out in Nature, has found at least one surprising thing about the climate during the ice age: the Gulf Stream, which moves warm water north through the Atlantic, was stronger and deeper than it is now.

As paleoceanographers (scientists who study the past of the oceans), we wanted to find out how the oceans behaved during the last ice age to get a sense of how climate change might change things in the future.

Water that is warm, from Mexico to Norway
As part of the Gulf Stream, warm, salty water from the Gulf of Mexico flows north today. It keeps the weather in western Europe very mild because a part of it flows through Europe and gives off a lot of heat.

Then, when the surface water goes north of Iceland, it loses enough heat to make it denser, which makes it sink and form deepwater. At depths greater than a mile below the surface, this process starts the global deepwater conveyor belt, which links all of the world’s oceans and moves heat slowly around the planet.

Scientists used to think that the Gulf Stream and other deep and surface ocean currents in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation were weaker during very cold times, like the last ice age. More sea ice in the Arctic should have cut down on the amount of water sinking from the surface to the deep ocean, which would have slowed down the global deepwater conveyor belt.

Our new study, on the other hand, shows that the Gulf Stream was much stronger and deeper during the last ice age. Even though it is cold because of glaciers and there are huge ice sheets around the northern parts of the Atlantic, this is still the case.

According to our research, the climate during the glaciers may have made the Gulf Stream stronger. During the ice age, winds were much stronger in some parts of the North Atlantic. This would have made the Gulf Stream stronger. So, even though less water was sinking from the surface to the deep ocean, the Gulf Stream was stronger and still carried a lot of heat north, though not as far as it does now.

Putting together how the oceans moved in the past
So we could not use data from weather buoys or satellites to figure out how the ocean would have moved during the last ice age. Instead, we used marine sediment cores, which are long tubes of mud from the ocean floor, as a substitute.

The cores we used were made of mud that had been building up on the seafloor for 25,000 years. They were collected from different spots along the east coast of the US by research vessels from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, where some of our team is based.

We looked at the size of the sediment grains in the mud to figure out how strong the Gulf Stream was during the ice age. Bigger grains meant faster flow, and smaller grains meant slower flow.

We also looked at the shell chemistry of foraminifera, which are tiny organisms with only one cell. We found the line between foraminifera that used to live in warm subtropical waters and those that used to live in colder subpolar waters by comparing data from a range of depths at different sites in the Northwest Atlantic. We were able to figure out how deep the Gulf Stream was when those organisms were alive.

This makes climate predictions less certain
According to our study, changes in wind speed and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet have an impact on the Gulf Stream and the larger network of Atlantic currents. This is a big deal for climate change in the future.

Climate models say that the Gulf Stream will get weaker in the 21st century, partly because there will be less wind. This would make the sea level rise even more along the east coast of the US and make Europe warmer than the rest of the world. If climate change changes the way winds blow in the future, the Gulf Stream will also change. This makes it harder to predict what the weather will be like in the future.

Also, our results show that we shouldn’t say simple things about Atlantic currents and how the climate will change in the future. There are many currents in the Atlantic, and each one has its own behavior and way of reacting to climate change. So, when we talk about how human-caused climate change affects the climate system, we need to be very clear about which part we’re talking about and what that means for different countries.Talking About It
David Thornalley is a professor of ocean and climate science at UCL, and Mark Maslin is a professor of natural sciences there. Jack Wharton is a postdoctoral research fellow in paleoceanography.

This article was taken from The Conversation and shared with a Creative Commons license. Read the first article.


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