Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US on 18 May. Photo: ReutersSeeking to build on early momentum in his 2020 presidential bid, former US vice president Joe Biden on Saturday condemned “anger” within his own Democratic Party and pledged to work to unify the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency.At a rally in downtown Philadelphia, Biden, as he has done throughout the beginning stages of his campaign, made Trump his central target, blasting him as “the divider-in-chief.”But he also chided other Democratic presidential candidates in the field, suggesting that anger toward Trump within his party was not enough to win next year’s presidential election.His message, Biden said, was expressly aimed at Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike.”Some of the really smart folks say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity,” he said. “They say Democrats are so angry, and that the angrier your campaign will be, the better chance you have to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it.”About 6,000 people attended the rally, which had, by design, the feel of a general-election event. With his poll numbers currently swamping the rest of the Democratic field, Biden has often acted as if his current opponent is Trump and not the other 23 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination.”If the American people want a president to add to our division, to lead with a clenched fist, closed hand, a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred – they don’t need me, they’ve got President Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd, which was bookended by large video monitors.Democratic nominating contests begin next February, giving the dynamics of the race plenty of time to shift. But Biden, 76, has opened up a more than 20-point lead over his nearest rival, US senator Bernie Sanders, in several public opinion polls.Biden, a US senator for 30 years and a two-term vice president under Barack Obama, has argued he is best positioned to take on Trump next year.Attendees at the event said they agreed.”He’s going to be the one who takes Trump out of office,” said Daril Murard, 27, of Langhorne, Pennsylvania. “That’s why I’m here.”Tim Reihm, 48, drove to the event from his hometown of York, Pennsylvania.”I think there’s been a tendency in the party to drift a little too far left and I think that’s going to disenfranchise a large section of the country,” Reihm said. “Joe represents a sort of a more middle ground where we can bring people together instead of becoming more and more fractious.”Biden also answered critics who have mocked his pledge to work with Republicans as unrealistic should he win the White House.”I’m going to say something outrageous,” he said. “I know how to make government work.”Biden’s remarks drew a swift response from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group that backs another candidate, US senator Elizabeth Warren.A fundraising memo sent to members after the rally accused Biden of trying to splinter the party.”Joe Biden is dividing Americans when, after the historic 2018 election, he tells voters they are wrong to be angry – and wrong if they don’t want ‘unity’ with corrupt Republican politicians,” the memo said.”We don’t need a Democratic nominee who rejects the fact that people are righteously angry in the Trump era,” it said.Biden has established his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, illustrating the importance of Pennsylvania to Democratic hopes next year. Trump narrowly won the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016.Trump will hold an event of his own on Monday in northeast Pennsylvania.Prior to Biden’s speech, the Republican National Committee in a release pointed to statistics showing how Pennsylvania’s economy has improved during Trump’s presidency.Biden will not have the luxury of shrugging off the rest of the Democratic field much longer.In recent weeks, he has been criticized by Senator Kamala Harris for his past support for the 1994 crime bill that critics say led to mass incarceration of African-Americans, by Sanders for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and by Warren for his ties to the credit-card industry.With Biden the clear front-runner, those attacks are likely to intensify. But Biden on Saturday said he would keep his focus on Trump and not his rivals for the nomination.”You will not hear me speak ill of another Democrat,” Biden said.Following the Philadelphia event, Biden is expected to spend the next several weeks focusing on policy announcements and raising money.
Sanbao cave (red star) is on the northern slope of Mt. Shennongjia, Hubei, central China Credit: Hai Cheng © 2016 Phys.org The annual monsoon season in Asia is a major event, bringing rains that are used to grow crops for an enormous number of people. Because of its importance, scientists would like to know more about it, such as what might happen as the planet heats up. To learn more, the researchers looked for a way to look back at what has happened in the past, and to do that, they ventured to the mountains in central China and descended into Sanbao Cave—there stalagmites have been growing up from the cave floor for hundreds of thousands of years, carrying with them, a history of the factors that led to their growth.The stalagmites grow at different rates depending on how much rain falls and leaks through the mountain above and down into the cave—during heavy rains, such as occur during monsoon seasons, layers of calcium carbonate build up, holding information about the air and rainwater at a particular point in time, which scientists can analyze to gain a good measurement of climate conditions. They can also look for dissolved uranium, which can be used to date the layers of stalagmite buildup. Together, the two sources of information can be used to create a climate timetable for past monsoon seasons, going back as far as 640,000 years—the most detailed and accurate monsoon record to date. In so doing, the researchers were also able to show that changes in solar radiation over the Northern Hemisphere were due to the planet’s precession cycle (a shift that occurs periodically in the planet’s axis of rotation)—which wound up bringing an end to the past seven ice ages. Speleothems inside of Sanbao cave (about 1500 meters from cave entrance). Credit: Hai Cheng Journal information: Nature Explore further (Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members from China, the U.S., Austria and Singapore has used their analysis of stalagmites in a cave deep in central China to map over 640,000 years of monsoons in Asia. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes their analysis of the cave formations, what they found and how they were able to use what they learned to better understand other world events over the same time period. Nele Meckler with University of Bergen in Norway provides a more in-depth description of the work done by the team in a News & Views article in the same journal issue. Menacing monsoons More information: Hai Cheng et al. The Asian monsoon over the past 640,000 years and ice age terminations, Nature (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nature18591AbstractOxygen isotope records from Chinese caves characterize changes in both the Asian monsoon and global climate. Here, using our new speleothem data, we extend the Chinese record to cover the full uranium/thorium dating range, that is, the past 640,000 years. The record’s length and temporal precision allow us to test the idea that insolation changes caused by the Earth’s precession drove the terminations of each of the last seven ice ages as well as the millennia-long intervals of reduced monsoon rainfall associated with each of the terminations. On the basis of our record’s timing, the terminations are separated by four or five precession cycles, supporting the idea that the ‘100,000-year’ ice age cycle is an average of discrete numbers of precession cycles. Furthermore, the suborbital component of monsoon rainfall variability exhibits power in both the precession and obliquity bands, and is nearly in anti-phase with summer boreal insolation. These observations indicate that insolation, in part, sets the pace of the occurrence of millennial-scale events, including those associated with terminations and ‘unfinished terminations’. Citation: Study of stalagmites in caves in China reveals 640,000 years of Asian monsoon history (2016, June 30) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-06-stalagmites-caves-china-reveals-years.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
8 min read Whenever I feel uncomfortable writing about a topic, that’s when I know I should write about it. So here goes. This article is about how a new way of designing apps changed my life. But to explain the power of this trend, I need to tell you about poop. That’s the uncomfortable part.For the past five years or so, I’ve struggled with intestinal discomfort. (I’ll spare you the gory details.) I spent countless hours crawling the web searching for a possible diagnosis and tried dozens of different remedies and diets. Nothing seemed to help.Finally, I saw a gastroenterologist. He listened for all of five minutes while I described my symptoms and quickly jotted down a prescription for antibiotics. They worked for a while but soon the symptoms returned. I went back to the doc. A few tests were done and more antibiotics were dolled out. But the problems came back. Then again. And again.After a few cycles, I could see he was running me through a gambit of various gut bug killers until my symptoms stopped or he was out of drugs. I decided I’d rather live with the problem (whatever it was) and hope for the best.Recently however, a chance encounter with a total stranger led me to start using a new kind of app that does things my physician and the specialist never could.Related: People Don’t Want Something Truly New, They Want the Familiar Done Differently.This app helped me get to the bottom of my problem. I’ll explain how later but what makes the design of this app important has implications in all sorts of industries, including outside health care. At its core, the app facilitates a conversation to solve a complex problem with greater ease than ever before.Over the next few years, smart entrepreneurs and savvy designers will use similar techniques to dramatically improve the way they connect and serve their customers.Going NativeApp makers are returning to the roots of what our phones are for. They are after all communications devices. So called “invisible apps” engaging in “conversational commerce” are popping-up in all sorts of unrelated industries.For example, a few weeks ago, my friend Stephen and I chatted at the park while we watched our kids play. As Silicon Valley tech geeks do, we got to talking apps. “Have you started using any good apps lately?” he asked. “Actually, yes.” I said. “Have you heard of Native?” I don’t usually recommend apps, but Native is special.What is Native? It’s a virtual travel agent. If you’re not impressed, neither was I the first time I heard the idea. But when I started using the service, I realized they were onto something.Here’s how Native works: every time I need to do anything related to travel, I just ask Tim to handle it. Tim lives inside Native and while he appears to be a human, I’m not 100% sure he is. For all I know he may be a bot, artificial intelligence, or any number of people working behind the scenes under the persona of the fresh-faced Tim. To be honest, I don’t much care. Every time I need him he’s there, ready to assist me.For example, I recently had to book a gnarly itinerary in and out of two countries using various airline loyalty points. Normally, booking this sort of trip would have taken me hours of comparing prices, flight times, connection difficulty, and frequent flyer point requirements. Instead, I just opened the app and told Tim what I needed in plain English — like sending a text message. Then, I went about my day and an hour later I received a notification from Tim telling me he found the best two options. Would I like itinerary A or itinerary B? I picked one and he booked the flight. Done!I didn’t have to use any dropdown menus, sift through hundreds of options, or spend half an hour attempting to pay for my ticket only to learn that the price I wanted was suddenly not available. Nope! I left it up to Tim to handle everything. Native charges $25 per month. Considering that Tim can complete any and all travel-related requests — from booking me on another flight if I miss a connector to calling the airline to request a seat change — it is well worth the money. Of course, whether Native can actually make money with this business model is an open question.As I described Native to my friend Stephen, a woman pushing her child on the swing next to us interjected. “Excuse me,” she asked, “What app are you talking about?” I showed her Native on my phone. “Funny,” she said “my company does the exact same thing but for health.”Related: 4 Ways to Use Psychology to Win Your Competition’s CustomersThe woman, I would come to learn, was Stephanie Tilenius, CEO of Vida Health. As she explained her app, Stephanie told me “Vida is great for irritable bowel syndrome if you happen to know anyone with that.”Did I ever!I told her I’d be interested in giving her app a try. “We’ll connect you with a coach to help you figure out what’s going on,” she said, and by the time I left the park I had received an invitation to use the service.Meeting MindyDiagnosing a digestive problem is fiendishly difficult. It requires looking back through a detailed log to find what might be causing symptoms that don’t manifest until the food has time to work it’s way through the body a day or so later. Finding a solution involves not only understanding what I ate that might be causing the symptoms, but also what I did not eat that I should have. I had done this sort of detailed record keeping before on my own but it was incredibly time consuming and I always gave up after a few days.I started using Vida. Over the next several weeks, I shared what I ate and how I was feeling with my coach Mindy who, like Tim from Native, was a helpful face on the other side of the app. Like Native, there was no complicated interface to learn. The app felt more like messaging with a friend than diagnosing a health problem.Along with helpful suggestions, Mindy sent me regular reminders to send her snapshots of what I was eating. She also requested I text a number from 1 to 10 to quantify my symptoms — my “poo score,” we called it.Soon, something interesting happened. Mindy started analyzing my diet in ways neither my doctor nor I ever could. She looked at the nutritional content of what I was eating and searched for correlations with how I felt. Like a detective, she was on the hunt for the intestinal who-done-it. She started eliminating suspects from the food line-up and narrowing in on what might be triggering my symptoms by looking for clues in my diet. She told me what I should eat instead and after changing my diet, I’m feeling better.Just the BeginningMindy’s ability to diagnose the source of my problem was something my physician just didn’t have the time or ability to address. Without a way to carefully monitor and analyze what was going in and coming out of my body, how could he? Conversational apps like Vida however are designed to always be accessible; allowing users to send the kind of information a professional can use to provide more insights in less time.Similarly, Native’s highly trained travel agent on the other side of the conversation allows the app to provide just the right itinerary, eliminating all the hours spent sorting and culling travel options I previously had to do myself.This trend is bigger than travel and diet apps. The fact that these two very different services both use what I call an “assistant-as-app” to help users accomplish complex tasks, makes me think there’s more to this trend.How About You?Do you use any assistant-as-app services? Do you have any favorites? Can you think of other products or services that should use the conversational interface but don’t yet? Where would you like to see an assistant-as-app service?Related: 5 Questions to Ask Before Developing a Mobile App Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals This story originally appeared on NirAndFar.com Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. July 9, 2015 Register Now »