🐤 Electric evolution

Scientists may have just found a new source of electricity, and it's been here all along.

Saturday | March 11th, 2023
Early Chirp
Together With Noom Weight Program

Welcome to the weekend, chirpers! I know life can beat you down, sometimes to the point that you feel completely defeated. That’s when it’s especially important to have people in your life who will go to bat for you.

Whether it’s your family or trusted friends, these folks can provide the motivation you need to keep going even when things appear to be at their worst.

It might just take one seemingly small act to get things back on the right track — as Lloyd Devereux Richards learned when his daughter’s viral TikTok post turned his unknown novel into a bestseller virtually overnight.

-Chris Agee

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*Market data for this issue is from March 10th, 2023 at 2:46pm EST

🏦 Markets: The stock market sustained huge losses to finish the week, due in large part to the biggest bank collapse since the 2008 financial crisis.

Silicon Valley Bank saw more than half of its stock value evaporate after announcing on Thursday that it would sell off about $1.75 billion in shares to help balance the books. The move elicited comparisons to the collapse of 15 years ago. Some insiders advise that the Federal Reserve will need to reverse its strategy of increasing interest rates to bring down inflation in order to stave off a continued run on the banking industry.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

🌬️ Winter weather: California and much of the western United States have been struggling through a prolonged drought in recent years, but a pattern of heavy precipitation over the past several weeks seems to be putting a dent in the problem. Of course, the short-term impact can be devastating — and California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently issued an emergency declaration ahead of the latest forecast that rains this weekend will result in widespread flooding. The National Weather Service confirmed that even places “that normally do not experience flash flooding will flood” due to a so-called atmospheric river that sparked heavy rains across the state on Thursday. The term refers to a phenomenon through which water evaporates and is moved along in air currents by the wind, which can result in heavy rains and snow, particularly in elevated regions. Parts of Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon are also expected to experience some severe weather as a result.

👃 Mist opportunity: Pfizer is prepared to release an innovative new nasal spray intended to treat migraine headaches. The Food and Drug Administration issued its approval of Zavzpret, which is the first such treatment to be offered in this form. Studies show that it can provide relief in as little as 15 minutes and last up to two days. Not only does the nasal spray aid in the drug’s rapid action, but since many migraine sufferers also experience nausea, it can be easier to administer a mist than it is to take a pill. Furthermore, neurologist Kate Mullin noted that migraines can also cause gastroparesis, which makes it difficult to absorb oral medication, but noted: “A nasal spray helps bypass the gut altogether to optimize absorption.”

🎶 Record breaker: While it might have been Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who grew up listening to vinyl records, it’s the younger generations who seem to be keeping the retro tech in business. In fact, sales of music in this format have been on an upward swing for years. Last year marked the first time since 1987 that records outsold CDs. Vinyl brought in $1.2 billion in revenue, marking a 17% increase over the previous year. Its recent domination over CDs isn’t due entirely to that growth though. The small discs that dominated the music industry prior to the MP3 era saw sales drop by a huge 18% last year. Throughout 2022, there were about 8 million more records sold than CDs.

🇨🇳 Third term: Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been confirmed for a third five-year term in office, helping cement his apparent plan to become the nation’s leader for life. Prior to his ascension, China had a tradition by which its leader would change at least once every 10 years. A two-term limit has been removed from the communist nation’s constitution and Xi has been successful in filling the government with loyalists, which played into his hand with a unanimous vote to give him another term in office. The news comes as U.S.-China relations remain at a pivotal point amid disagreements about the Russia-Ukraine war, America’s decision to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon last month, and other important international issues.

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Could This ‘Natural Battery’ Be The Answer To Humanity’s Energy Crisis?

The research is still in its infancy, but it's an intriguing concept.

Could This ‘Natural Battery’ Be The Answer To Humanity’s Energy Crisis? YouTube: 10 News First

Despite the impact on the environment and the fact that such resources are rapidly being depleted, most of the world relies on fossil fuels to generate the electricity that makes our modern society operate.

There are other options on the table, such as wind and solar energy, but they don’t yet come close to meeting the demand.

A new study recently posted in the “Nature” journal, however, suggests that there might be an intriguing new solution.

It’s in the soil

According to researchers at Monash University, a specific enzyme found in soil bacteria seems to act like a “natural bacteria” by converting hydrogen in the air directly into electricity.

The enzyme in question — called Huc — is apparently pretty common and, if the process is as efficient as early evidence suggests, could provide a truly renewable energy resource.

Rhys Grinter, one of the study’s lead researchers, explained: “We’ve shown that when we isolate [Huc] in the lab, we can put that into an electrical circuit and it produces electricity.”

Don’t get too excited

Huc isn’t going to replace coal-fired power plants anytime soon.

For starters, the recent study reflects just the tip of the research iceberg and experts will need to devote a lot more time and resources before this clever enzyme is powering consumer devices.

Additionally, even if the process is perfected, there’s not nearly enough hydrogen in our atmosphere to produce enough power for anything other than small electronics. Even Grinter acknowledged that you’d need an external hydrogen source to keep anything larger going.

Hydrogen power expert Robert Willows was even more cautious, calling the concept of getting electricity from the air “a big reach.”

It might be useful in narrow applications, though — like a smart monitor that helps you keep track of how fresh your food is.

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Consider The Possibility Of Getting Closer To Your Friends IRL

A little effort now could keep paying off for years to come.

Consider The Possibility Of Getting Closer To Your Friends IRL Giphy

Social media has made it easy (if not inevitable) to stay in contact with your circle of friends and family, humanity is becoming more isolated in the real world.

Studies show that adults have a diminishing number of friends they see on a regular basis, and the pandemic only made things worse.

That’s why some people are rethinking where and how they live in an effort to be closer to those they actually want to spend time with.

Getting back to basics

In a recent piece published in The Atlantic, writer Adrienne Matei explored her own journey through COVID-19 and explained that she saw it as a wake-up call to prioritize the things that mean most in life — particularly the relationships she has developed with her friends.

As Matei gave the subject more thought, she realized that nothing is preventing her (or any of us) from relocating closer to our friends.

“Doing so would likely involve a lot of effort on the front end, but the resulting community could pay emotional dividends for years,” she wrote.

From dropping by for dinner to hanging out on the spur of the moment, Matei determined that close proximity has a lot of built-in benefits.

Reimagining family

In recent generations, America and societies across much of the Western world have prioritized the so-called “nuclear family,” where parents and kids live together under one roof. While there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with such an arrangement, it’s not the only option out there.

Many cultures still prioritize multiple generations living together, while the thought of friends going in together to rent — or even purchase — a residence is gaining traction even beyond the young adult years.

The bottom line is that if you want to be closer to your friends, then do something about it!

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‘Takedown’: Chris Hansen Is Back With A New Show Targeting Predators

It's his familiar confrontations mixed with some new twists and turns.

‘Takedown’: Chris Hansen Is Back With A New Show Targeting Predators Giphy

If you’re old enough to remember the pre-streaming era of television, chances are you can recall the popularity surrounding the NBC show “To Catch a Predator.”

Whether you loved or hated journalist Chris Hansen’s approach, the show nevertheless produced some indelible cultural moments during the first decade of the century.

He’s at it again

Hansen is nearly 20 years older than he was when that show first aired, but he clearly hasn’t lost his knack for producing some compelling sting footage. His new show, “Takedown with Chris Hansen,” isn’t on a major network like his last one was (it comes on the true crime network TruBlu), but you’ll instantly recognize many of the same trademarks of his earlier work.

There are also a few unexpected twists and turns, including a deep dive into a story that Hansen said “shows the dangers of what many parents and people think are safe social media platforms.”

As for his motivation to keep doing the work that made him a household name, he said: “If you can understand the mind of a predator, you can better protect yourself from being victimized by one.”

You can check out some of the new series by clicking here.

A complex legacy

Hansen’s prior show has been at least peripherally involved in about 500 arrests and helped shed important light on the issue of child sexual abuse — particularly on the internet. Find out what happened to some of those men in this video.

At the same time, some critics say the show helped fuel an increase in vigilante justice as people sought to replicate Hansen’s style of confronting suspected predators.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Adam Scott Wandt advised: “private citizens taking law enforcement into their own hands is a problem for our society.”

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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