TLDR 2021-12-23

COVID Pill approved 💊, dinosaur embryo 🦕, DNA explained in programming terms 🧬

Big Tech & Startups

FDA authorizes first COVID-19 antiviral pill (2 minute read)

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first antiviral pill to treat Covid-19. Paxlovid curbs the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients by 89%, but it has to be started within a few days of symptoms showing up. The treatment involves 30 pills taken at home over five days. As the pill targets proteins that help the coronavirus make copies of itself, it will likely remain effective against variants.

Google Voice now lets you decide who goes to voicemail (1 minute read)

Google Voice can now be configured to forward calls to a linked phone number or voicemail. The feature can be turned on for groups of contacts and rules can be set to play custom greetings. Mobile app users are currently restricted to only being able to view existing rules and will need to use the website to set new rules. The update indicate that Google plans to continue the service.
Science & Futuristic Technology

James Webb telescope: how it could uncover some of the universe’s best-kept secrets (5 minute read)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is set to launch on December 25, if everything goes according to plan. It took more than a decade and $10 billion to build the telescope, which is now fueled and ready at Europe's spaceport in French Guiana. The JWST will be able to see much more than the Hubble Space Telescope, which has now operated for more than 30 years. Astronomers from around the world will be able to apply to use the JWST to support their research. One of the telescope's main tasks will be to study the atmospheres of exoplanets to see if they are suitable for life.

DeepMind’s New AI With a Memory Outperforms Algorithms 25 Times Its Size (3 minute read)

While larger language models perform better, they are expensive and harder to analyze than the average neural network, which are already known for being black boxes. DeepMind has built a language model called the Retrieval-Enhanced Transformer (RETRO), which has the ability to look up information on a database. RETRO was able to outperform language models multiple times its size. The model is still quite large, but the project demonstrates how scaling models may not be the best route to better performance.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Vitest (GitHub Repo)

Vitest is a unit test framework powered by Vite. It features Vite's config, transformers, resolvers, and plugins, Jest Snapshot, workers multi-threading, and much more. Vitest is still in development and not stable yet.

btrace (GitHub Repo)

btrace is an Android trace tool based on Systrace. It supports custom and native events, and it can be set to only capture trace events of the main thread. btrace is easy to use and stable and it has lower latency than Systrace.

DNA seen through the eyes of a coder (23 minute read)

DNA is like byte-compiled code for a virtual machine called 'the nucleus'. Each cell in a body carries a full set of DNA code, but only a small amount of genes are expressed. The processes that govern how DNA is read, written, and expressed are complex. This article explains how DNA works using code as an analogy. It discusses biological concepts such as RNA, mutations, and Homeobox genes and compares them with computing concepts like bootstrapping, bugs, and Makefiles.

Scientists find perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo preparing to hatch like a bird (3 minute read)

A fossilized dinosaur embryo preparing to hatch from its egg was discovered in southern China. It is one of the best-preserved dinosaur embryos ever found. The embryo's posture was similar to that of modern bird embryos. Bird chicks preparing to hatch tuck their heads under their right wing to stabilize the head while they crack the shell with their beak. This indicates that the behavior first evolved among dinosaurs. A picture of the fossil is available in the article.
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