The short story “Reading the Clouds” by Tendai Huchu was published for the first time in 2016.

George programmed the simulation of a universe that includes a civilization of sentient beings. It’s a very complex project and running it is even more difficult because of his disagreements with his son Jesse, who has ideas different from his father’s about the development of the simulated civilization. Interfering with a simulated world can have consequences on the real one but what’s real?

Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X (Image courtesy Intel)

Intel has communicated the availability of the first product of the new generation of SSDs based on its 3D XPoint technology announced about two years ago and developed with Micron. The Optane SSD DC P4800X has a capacity of 375 GB and promises much higher performances than SSDs based on NAND flash technology, so much that it can even be used as RAM. All this at a very high price because the product has been announced for sale at $1,520.

Upriver, Downriver by Aaron Ward

The novel “Upriver, Downriver” by Aaron Ward was published for the first time in 2016.

In a secluded valley a community survives thanks off hunting, fishing and farming. The main threat to the inhabitants is a drought that has been ongoing for some years so everyone is hoping to have some rain at last. It’s one of the changes that occurred in a number of years following the birth of children with strange mutations.

The community’s inhabitants are strictly forbidden from goin gout of the boundaries defined generations before. When two distinct groups of foreigners arrive in the valley, the inhabitants’ reactions range from curiosity to suspicion. They bring advanced technology but some people are suspicious of the reasons behind their arrival.

Ramathallus lobatus tomography (Image courtesy Stefan Bengtson et al.)

An article published in the journal “PLOS Biology” describes the study of two types of fossil plants discovered in India dating back 1.6 billion years. A team of the Swedish Museum of Natural History led by Stefan Bengtson studied these two different species that look like red algae calling them Rafatazmia chitrakootensis and Ramathallus lobatus. The oldest red algae known so far date back to 1.2 billion years ago and the new discovery indicates that complex life evolved earlier than expected.

The Aroeira cranium (Photo courtesy Javier Trueba)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ describes the study of the oldest fossil cranium discovered in Portugal, in the Aroeira cave. A team led by archaeologist João Zilhão which includes anthropologist Rolf Quam of Binghamton University found that incomplete cranium which has an age estimated at about 400,000 years along with animal remains and various artifacts including stone tools among which several handaxes.