6.11.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, June 11, and we're covering a missing military aircraft, the latest tech giant to enter the AI race, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million intellectually curious readers. Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Malawi Plane Missing

A military plane carrying the vice president of the East African nation of Malawi, along with nine other people, is reportedly missing after it went off the radar yesterday and failed to make a scheduled landing. The search for the aircraft and its passengers is underway as of this writing. 

 

The group of people, including Malawi's 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima, were headed to the funeral of the country's former attorney general in Mzuzu, a city roughly 220 miles north of the capital of Lilongwe, where the plane took off (see map). Mzuzu is Malawi's third-largest city and about a 45-minute plane ride from the capital. Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera canceled a separate flight to the Bahamas following the news. 

 

Chilima was arrested in 2022 over corruption charges alleging he received kickbacks in exchange for influencing the awarding of government contracts. He has denied any wrongdoing. The charges were dropped last month without explanation.

 

'Apple Intelligence' Debuts

Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday, announcing its generative artificial intelligence strategy, dubbed "Apple Intelligence." The latest AI features will be integrated into the newer versions of the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products, enhancing features such as Siri, photos, music, and messaging—including the ability to create custom AI-generated emojis.

 

The company will partner with OpenAI to power a ChatGPT-like chatbot, focusing on summarization capabilities. The AI features will utilize both on-device processing and cloud-based computing, which will allow users to control data access. Apple said the new AI capabilities will be optional and emphasized user privacy. Apple also announced updated operating software, enabling satellite messaging when cellular connectivity is unavailable, and a password manager app. See the biggest announcements here.

 

Apple is the third-largest publicly traded US company behind Nvidia and Microsoft and has taken a more cautious approach to integrating AI into its products compared to its competitors. 

 

Call Me By My Name

A study yesterday revealed wild elephants may address each other by name, becoming one of only a handful of animals known to use unique sounds to address one another. 

 

The study examined 469 low-rumble sounds recorded from female African savanna elephants and their offspring from 1988 to 2022. A machine-learning model (see overview) analyzing the sounds was able to identify the elephant being addressed 27.5% of the time, a much higher rate than when the model was fed random audio. Researchers playing the audio clips in the wild elicited responses from the elephants in question, including movement toward the speaker as well as ear flapping and trunk movements.

 

It’s not clear which parts of the audio are the "names" or how naming conventions might work. Bottlenose dolphins and orange-fronted parakeets mimic each other's signature noises (w/video) to get each other’s attention, while humans use naming conventions and dogs respond when called.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Florida Panthers top Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in Game Two of the NHL Stanley Cup Final to take 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series (More) | Three soccer fans sentenced to prison in Spain for hurling racial insults at Real Madrid's Vinícius Júnior (More)

> Rev. James Lawson, American civil rights leader instrumental in Nashville sit-ins and the Freedom Rides, dies at 95 (More

> UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley turns down six-year, $70M deal to coach Los Angeles Lakers (More) | NCAA men's College World Series eight-team field set; see bracket (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with EnergyX

> Engineers develop biodegradable 3D-printer floor panels strong enough to replace steel in some construction applications; composite is made from wood flour and corn residue (More

> Researchers detect frost on the peaks of Mars' tallest volcanoes, challenging current understanding of the planet's climate dynamics; thin layer is estimated to constitute about 150,000 tons of water (More)

> Scientists discover how zebrafish reverse scar tissue that forms on the heart muscles following heart attacks; may lead to treatments to undo permanent heart damage in humans (More

From our partners: The lithium boom. It takes 10,000 smartphone batteries to make one set of EV batteries. With over 350 million global EV sales projected by 2030, demand is soaring. Enter EnergyX. Their tech can extract up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods, earning them a $50M investment from GM, deals with top producers like POSCO, and a $5M DOE grant. EnergyX is accepting investors for a limited time. Become an EnergyX shareholder here.

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.3%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +0.4%) with S&P 500, Nasdaq notching fresh records; investors look to this week's consumer price index report and the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting (More)

> Nvidia shares begin trading around $120 after chipmaker executes planned 10-for-1 stock split; Nvidia shares traded near $1,200 before the split (More) | What is a stock split? (More)

> OpenAI hires former Nextdoor CEO as its first chief financial officer, appoints a chief product officer (More) | Activist hedge fund Elliott Investment Management amasses $1.9B stake in Southwest Airlines; firm also seeks to replace Southwest's CEO and chairman (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Delaware jury resumes deliberations today in Hunter Biden's federal trial over criminal gun violations; if found guilty, he would be the first son of a sitting president convicted in federal court (More

> UN Security Council adopts US-led resolution calling on Hamas to accept a cease-fire and hostage-release plan offered by Israel; resolution on ending Israel-Hamas war is first to be endorsed by the Security Council (More) | See plan details (More)

> Fatal tornado outbreaks across southern and central US last month caused $4.7B in damages, federal government estimates; over 165 tornadoes were recorded from May 6-9 (More) | View chart of billion-dollar weather disasters in the US (More

 

In-Depth

> The Ballad of Birkenstock

Bloomberg | Tim Loh. How a 250-year-old German orthopedic shoe company evolved from selling doctor-recommended inserts to an enduring and influential shoe brand that went public last year. (Read)

 

> Liberalism's Original Power Couple

Origin Story | Staff. (Podcast) Philosopher John Stuart Mill is known as the father of modern liberalism—the kind focused on free markets and individual liberty. His romantic and intellectual relationship with Harriet Taylor Mill is often neglected, but it played a key role in seminal texts like "On Liberty." (Listen)

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Etcetera
 

An illustrative analysis of the US economy.

 

Visualizing America's states by cost per prisoner

 

How are bridges and tunnels built underwater

 

A historic cricket machine is brought back to life

 

Ranking the best (and worst) states for staycations.

 

Butterfly or firefly: What's your friendship style?

 

Ikea wants 10 real people to work in its virtual store

 

California highway officers rescue 26-pound rabbit. (w/photos)

 

Clickbait: The return of Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel.

 

Historybook: Politician and suffragist Jeannette Rankin born (1880); President John F. Kennedy sends in Alabama National Guard to integrate University of Alabama (1963); Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington are first two women to become generals in the US Armed Forces (1970); Actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee dies (2014).

"The greatest gift is not being afraid to question."

- Ruby Dee

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