2.22.2024

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Need To Know
 

In-Vitro Uncertainty

Health officials from the University of Alabama at Birmingham said yesterday they would pause all in-vitro fertilization treatments following a ruling by the state's supreme court to extend legal rights to frozen embryos used in the procedure. 

 

The process involves removing eggs and sperm from both parents and fertilizing the egg outside the body and is used to address a wide range of pregnancy challenges—fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, low sperm count, and more. Roughly 70% of mature eggs in each batch will successfully fertilize; some of the remainder may be put in cryogenic storage for future potential use. An estimated 1 million frozen embryos are believed to be held at clinics nationwide, and roughly 2% of births per year are estimated to be from IVF. 

 

The court ruled the embryos were extrauterine children and their expiration was not exempted from state laws covering wrongful deaths of minors (and therefore enjoy legal protection). Read the full ruling here

 

Nvidia Earnings

Nvidia Corp. reported highly anticipated fourth-quarter earnings yesterday that smashed records for both its quarterly and full-year results, boosted by strong demand for its semiconductors amid an artificial intelligence boom. The California chipmaker saw record fourth-quarter revenue of $22.1B, up 22% from the previous quarter and 265% from the previous year. The company's fourth-quarter net income was $12.3B, up 769% from $1.4B a year ago. Nvidia shares rose 9% in after-hours trading.

 

Nvidia, founded in 1993, is the fifth most valuable company in the S&P 500, with its market value increasing by more than $400B this year to $1.67T as it became a primary beneficiary of investor enthusiasm for the future of AI. Nvidia currently ranks under Microsoft ($2.99T), Apple ($2.82T), Alphabet ($1.78T), and Amazon ($1.75T); the company had briefly surpassed the latter two tech giants earlier this month. 

 

Nvidia's largest customers include Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Alphabet’s Google, which make up roughly 40% of the chipmaker's revenue. See how Nvidia makes money here.

 

Whale Song Science

The voice boxes of baleen whales evolved a unique set of structures to communicate sound underwater, according to a study published yesterday. The discovery solves a 50-year-old mystery that has puzzled researchers since the first baleen whale songs were recorded in 1967 (read the story).

 

All whales evolved from ancestral land mammals with voice boxes, or larynxes, roughly 50 million years ago (see explainer). Unlike their cousins, the toothed whales (orca, sperm), baleen whales—defined by their bristly plates of keratin used for filter-feeding—did not evolve nasal structures to emit sound. By piping air through three surgically removed larynxes from beached baleen whales, researchers observed a set of vocal folds vibrating against a fatty tissue to produce sound in an unparalleled way. 

 

Using digital models, the analysts also determined baleen whales can only produce sounds at a low frequency at relatively shallow depths, suggesting shipping noises may disrupt their communication. Listen to humpback whale sounds here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Beyoncé becomes first Black woman to top Billboard country music chart with single "Texas Hold 'Em" (More) | "Vultures 1" album from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and Ty Dolla $ign debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 album chart, marking Ye's 11th No. 1 album and Ty Dolla $ign's first (More)

> Jury selection begins in trial of "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed over the 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (More) | Ewen MacIntosh, known for playing Keith Bishop in original UK series of "The Office," dies at 50 (More)

> BuzzFeed sells Complex to e-commerce platform NTWRK in $108.6M all-cash deal, plans to lay off 16% of remaining workforce (More) | Apple releases new iPhone app for tracking sports scores from major teams and leagues (More)

From our partners: The best-kept secret for managing credit card debt. This card charges 0% interest on balance transfers until mid-2025. Aka, it gives you almost two years to pay off your balance, sans interest. Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back on purchases.

 

Science & Technology

> Intuitive Machines lander reaches lunar orbit, expected to attempt to make controlled descent this afternoon; would mark the first private sector effort to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Researchers develop ultralight implantable pacemaker that can be controlled by light; device is expected to reduce complications in many heart surgeries (More) | How pacemakers work (More)

> Food scientists create genetically modified potato that does not produce acrylamide, a carcinogen formed during the processing of cold-stored potato chips; technique may be extended to other processed starches (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq -0.3%); Federal Reserve meeting minutes from January indicate officials see risks in cutting rates too soon (More)

> Boeing replaces head of 737 Max program; announcement comes less than two months after a 737 Max 9 aircraft door plug blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight (More) | Rivian shares fall 15% in after-hours trading after company says it expects electric vehicle production to be flat this year, plans to lay off 10% of workforce (More)

> IRS to begin auditing corporate private jets, believes some owners overstate deductions when sometimes using the aircraft for personal use (More) | Jeff Bezos nets $8.5B after completing sale of 50 million Amazon shares (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Chinese police investigating unauthorized leak of documents from a private security contractor tied to the Chinese government, which appear to reveal hacking activity and tools used by authorities to surveil dissidents (More)

> A 22-year-old protester dies in India amid clashes between farmers and police as farmers continue their march to the capital of New Delhi after failing to reach an agreement with the federal government over guaranteed crop prices (More)

> Biden administration cancels $1.2B in federal student debt for roughly 153,000 people who borrowed less than $12K and have made payments for at least 10 years (More)  

 

In-Depth

> Man of the Moment

GQ | Daniel Riley. Split between the blockbuster success of his lead role in "Oppenheimer" and a more normal life along the Irish coast, actor Cillian Murphy is reluctantly embracing the spotlight. (Read)

 

> Eye in the Sky

NYT | Will Broad. The newest generation of satellites is powerful enough to resolve features of individual faces from Earth's orbit. While companies say they're taking steps to mitigate concerns, the technology has privacy experts on edge. What happens when the public square is perpetually under a watchful eye? (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Portuguese beach crowned the best in the world.

 

Do not dry your iPhone in a bag of rice, Apple warns

 

London’s futuristic BT Tower to be turned into a hotel.

 

Bird names that sound like insults

 

Are you worrying more than you should about saying "no"?

 

US labor strikes reached a 23-year high in 2023.

 

King Charles' portraits set to arrive on UK currency

 

Ranking US real-estate property taxes by state.

 

Clickbait: Feast your eyes upon KFC's new "Chizza."

 

Historybook: President George Washington born (1732); Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin born (1962); Drew Barrymore born (1975); "Miracle on Ice" as the US defeats the Soviet Union in hockey at Winter Olympics (1980); Artist Andy Warhol dies (1987).

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