The Download: rapid DNA analysis for disasters, and supercharged AI assistants

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. This grim but revolutionary DNA technology is changing how we respond to mass disasters Last August, a wildfire tore through the Hawaiian island of Maui. The list of missing residents climbed into the…
The Download: rapid DNA analysis for disasters, and supercharged AI assistants

Last summer was the hottest in 2,000 years. Here’s how we know.

The summer of 2023 in the Northern Hemisphere was the hottest in over 2,000 years, according to a new study released this week.

There weren’t exactly thermometers around in the year 1, so scientists have to get creative when it comes to comparing our climate today with that of centuries, or even millennia, ago. 

Casey Crownhart, our climate reporter, has dug into how they figured it out. Read the full story.

This story is from The Spark, our weekly climate and energy newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

A wave of retractions is shaking physics

Recent highly publicized scandals have gotten the physics community worried about its reputation—and its future. Over the last five years, several claims of major breakthroughs in quantum computing and superconducting research, published in prestigious journals, have disintegrated as other researchers found they could not reproduce the blockbuster results. 

Last week, around 50 physicists, scientific journal editors, and emissaries from the National Science Foundation gathered at the University of Pittsburgh to discuss the best way forward. Read the full story to learn more about what they discussed.

—Sophia Chen