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Peter J. Denning, Editor in ChiefThe digitally connected world has become a large, swirling sea of information stripped of context. We help our readers make sense of it, find meaning in it, learn what to trust, and speculate on our future.

Peter J. Denning,
Editor-in-Chief

 

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LATEST ARTICLES

Interview

How Does a COVID mRNA vaccine really work?: an interview with Dr. Evelyn Tichy

Interviewed by Walter Tichy

The most potent weapon against COVID-19 is a vaccine based on messenger RNA (mRNA). The first of these vaccines authorized for use was developed by the German company BioNTech in cooperation with Pfizer, closely followed by the (U.S.-produced) Moderna vaccine. These vaccines send a piece of mRNA into cells of a host. The mRNA instructs the cells to produce masses of the same spike protein that also occurs on the shell of the real coronavirus. The immune system responds by learning to destroy anything showing that protein: if the real virus arrives, the immune system will attack it immediately. This much has been reported widely by the media. But important questions remain. How is mRNA actually synthesized as a transcription of the spike-producing segment of the virus' RNA? How is the selection and replication done? How does mRNA enter a host cell, and how long will it stay there? Will it produce the spike protein forever? Is it perhaps dangerous? And the biggest question of all: How does the immune system record the structure of the foreign protein, how does it recognize the invader, and how is the immune response cranked up? To answer these questions, we bring you a conversation between Ubiquity editor Walter Tichy and his daughter Dr. Evelyn Tichy, an infectious disease expert.

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article-commentary

Say it well, say it often

by Philip Yaffe

Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

Two people can give a speech on exactly the same subject, using almost exactly the same information, yet one speech will be a brilliant success and the other a dismal failure. How does this happen? Many factors contribute to success or failure, but only one factor virtually guarantees that your speech will stand out like a shining light or be clothed in darkness like a burned-out bulb.

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research-article

Will machines ever think like humans?

June 2021
by Jeff Riley

What is "human intelligence?" What is thinking? What does it mean to "think like a human?" Is it possible for machines to display human intelligence, to think like humans? This article explores these questions, and gives a brief overview of some important features of the human brain, and how computer scientists are trying to simulate those features and their ability to "think." The article answers some questions, but asks more---finishing with questions for readers to consider.

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Interview

A conversation with Kashyap Tumkur: the promise and challenges of precision medicine

May 2021
Interviewed by Bushra Anjum

Ubiquity's senior editor Dr. Bushra Anjum chats with Kashyap Tumkur, a software engineer at Verily Life Sciences, the healthcare and life sciences arm of Alphabet. They discuss how the notion of "precision medicine" has gained popularity in recent times. Next, the focus turns to Tumkur's work, where he, along with his team, is working on collecting and integrating continuous time-series data to create a map of human health.

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