Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

The novel “Authority” by Jeff VanderMeer was published for the first time in 2014. It’s the second book of the Southern Reach trilogy and follows “Annihilation”.

John Rodriguez was appointed director of the Southern Reach agency with the task of bringing some clarity in its activities and what’s happening in Area X. Being called Control is the simplest thing for him because the staff seems unwilling to cooperate with him and his deputy is openly hostile.

For Control the difficulty in conducting his work comes not only from the staff but also from the state of the archives of the expedition into Area X and in the situation left by the previous director. The survivors of the last expedition must be questioned and Control focuses on the biologist, who now wants to be called Ghost Bird.

Machine learning used to create new polymers

An article published in the journal “npj Computational Materials” reports the results of the use of a machine learning algorithm in the search for new materials. A team of researchers used an algorithm specialized in molecular design trained to recognize candidates with certain properties. In this way they designed polymers with high thermal conductivity, very useful to use for example in mobile technologies connected to 5G.

Neanderthal skull from Forbes' Quarry

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” reports a genetic analysis of the remains of two Neanderthals discovered in Gibraltar in 1848 and 1926. A team of researchers coordinated by the National Museum of History in London and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig carried out the extraction of DNA from the remains of those two individuals, succeeding in establishing that the skull discovered in 1848 in the Forbes’ Quarry site belonged to a female while the one discovered in 1926 and nicknamed Devil’s Tower Child was a male. The female was more closely related to the Neanderthals who lived in Europe between 60,000 and 120,000 years ago than to those who lived in Spain 49,000 years ago.

Neuralink's chip (Image courtesy Neuralink)

In a presentation held yesterday, Elon Musk explained the progress made by Neuralink in the creation of an interface between the human brain and computer. When he started talking about projects of this type he called it “neural lace”, an idea taken from science fiction. Now, however, the first implant prototypes have been built and the company seems ready to start tests on human beings since it’s taking the necessary steps to obtain the approval required to perform them.

The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley (Italian edition)

The novel “The Stars Are Legion” by Kameron Hurley was published for the first time in 2017.

Zan wakes up without any memory and has to trust what she’s told by the women of the Katazyrna family, who claim to be her sisters. One of them in particular, Jayd, explains what’s supposed to be her destiny, how she faced the Mokshi, unique among the various worlds of the Legion. Her journey will be long and full of dangers but to accomplish it she must first of all avoid getting recycled.

Jayd wants to help Zan but gets involved in power struggles within the Katazyrna family and in clashes with their rivals, the Bhavaja family. An arranged marriage for strategic reasons makes her switch one danger for another, especially when personal relationships intertwine in twisted ways with loyalties with her family of origin.