June 2021

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

The novel “Ubik” by Philip K. Dick was published for the first time in 1969.

Glen Runciter is the owner of an agency that offers the services of inertials, people who can neutralize psi powers and thus prevent them from gaining access to business secrets. His wife Ella helps him even though she’s been dead for a long time because she’s kept in half-life in a so-called moratorium. Unfortunately, her conscience was attacked by the one from a boy in half-life whose mental signals are very strong.

Joe Chip, a technician employed by Glen Runciter, meets Pat Conley, who has the power to change the past. The agency receives an request for inertials from a company based on the Moon and Runciter decides to include Pat as well in the intervention team. The job on the Moon turns out to be a trap but it’s only the beginning of a series of strange events.

A schematic of how the system called genomatnn recognizes adaptive introgression

An article published in the journal “eLife” reports the development of an approach based on convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to identify genes inherited from other species such as Neanderthals that brought positive effects. A team of researchers led by Graham Gower of the Danish University of Copenhagen developed this deep learning technique to examine genomes of modern humans for examples of what is technically called introgression, which means genes that a hybrid between two species brought into one of his parents’ species. Various possible examples have been found, for example, genes inherited from Denisovans have been found in Melanesians that affect various metabolic and disease-related traits.

Microbiota and the Masses: A Love Story" by S.B. Divya

The short story “Microbiota and the Masses: A Love Story” by S.B. Divya was published for the first time in 2017.

Moena Sivaram lives in an airtight house where she created an isolated domestic biome that allows her to live without having to fear for her health. The price is the considerable difficulty for her in getting out of that house so as not to risk getting sick from some of the pollutants that infest Bangalore.

One day, a malfunction in the windows forces Moena to call a technician to fix the computer system that controls them. Rahul answers the call and, when she discovers that he’s a volunteer with an ecological group, Moena is strongly attracted to him but she knows very well that starting a relationship would mean exposing herself to serious dangers for her health.

Terran Tomorrow by Nancy Kress

The novel “Terran Tomorrow” by Nancy Kress was published for the first time in 2018. It’s the third book in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy and follows “If Tomorrow Comes”.

The spaceship Return brings the Earthlings back to their planet along with some inhabitants of World. However, due to the time dilation that happens during the trips, at their arrival, twenty-eight years have passed since their departure. During those years, things on Earth have changed more than the travelers could have imagined.

A bacteriological war waged by ecological extremists caused the death of 96% of human beings. The survivors are still at war and Dr. Marianne Jenner discovers that her grandson Jason Jenner is a colonel in command of one of the rare military bases in what used to be the USA. The arrival of the spaceship could affect an already unstable situation.

Artist's reconstruction of Australotitan cooperensis (Image courtesy Vladislav Konstantinov / Scott Hocknull)

An article published in the journal “Peer J” reports the identification of the largest dinosaur species that lived in today’s Australia. A team of researchers named Australotitan cooperensis this dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous period, between 92 and 96 million years ago, and included it in the group of titanosaurs, the giant long-necked herbivores that include the largest animals that lived on land. The identification represents the culmination of a long task on the scattered bones of various specimens.