Cali-Based Company Shows Genes Aren’t Always Destiny

New DNA discoveries show longevity might not be written in our genes.

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DNA may not influence longevity.

Google-backed biotech and research company Calico— which is short for California Life Company— has discovered that a person’s DNA has far less influence on lifespan than previously thought. The results were published last week in the journal Genetics. The Silicon Valley-based company analyzed the data of around 400 million people who lived and died in Europe and America going back to 1800 from the genealogy firm Ancestry.

“The true heritability of human longevity for that cohort is likely no more than seven percent,” said a Calico scientist. Previous estimates for how much genes explain variations in lifespan have ranged from around 15 to 30 percent. Read more here.

Self-Driving Cars Ready To Hit The Roads In California

Waymo, the robotic car company created by Google, gets the go-ahead in California.

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A Waymo car on the streets of Silicon Valley.

There was a huge leap forward for Google’s driverless cars last week when  California’s Department of Motor Vehicles cleared the tech giant’s robotic cars to cruise through the state at speeds of up to 65 mph without a human on hand to take control in emergencies.

To start, the fully autonomous cars will give rides only to employees of Waymo, the Google unit that is dedicated to driverless vehicles. The self-driving cars will only travel on routes in Google’s hometown of Mountain View and four neighboring Silicon Valley cities: Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto. Until now, a backup driver was obliged to be behind the wheel. Read more here.

As California Fires Rage On, Infrared Technology Is Helping Firefighters On The Front Lines

The tech allows drones to see through the smoke to the heart of the fires.

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This summer’s Thomas Fire was one of the biggest in California history.

This has been a devastating year for wildfires in California. In August, three of the biggest fires in California history were all blazing at the same time charring 820,000 acres across the state.

But even as the fire cycle seems to be getting worse, new technology is helping firefighters beat down the blazes more efficiently. The California Air National Guard is using drones equipped with infrared technology to fly above fires and see through the smoke. In one instance, the drone was able to see that firefighters who thought they were battling one spot fire were actually in a ring of seven fires that were closing in.

Read more about how this technology is changing the way we fight fires in California here.

Thirsty California Takes A Deep Breath

This animated GIF seems to show the state breathing as water moves in and out of aquifers.

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Credit: Bryan Riel and Mark Simons

Water is California’s most precious resource and as global warming continues to take a toll, managing that resource is going to become increasingly important.

To help water managers better understand the underground aquifers that store the state’s water, geophysicists at Caltech used satellite photos that tracked the deformation of the earth over 18 years as Southern California aquifers were filled and emptied. The result is this GIF which seems to show the state breathing. Learn more about the study and its implications here.

 

Technology Is Helping To Save Lives In The Northern California Fires

Text alerts, Twitter, Nextdoor — California local governments are using any means necessary to alert people early about coming fires.

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A truck burned by the recent fires in Northern California.

The fires in Northern California have already burned thousands of acres and forced residents from their homes, but thankfully, the death toll has been relatively low. That’s because the counties around San Francisco have gotten savvier about using technology to alert people to leave their homes before the danger gets too close.

According to one article, the number of people who signed up to receive alerts in Sonoma County has jumped from 20,000 to 275,000. Governments are taking advantage of everything from Twitter to artificial intelligence to better reach people who need to evacuate. You can read more about the state’s efforts in this article on Xconomy.

Rideshare Companies Don’t Need TrustLine in Order to Protect Consumers

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Author: Mike Montgomery

There’s no question that when it comes to ridesharing, especially when children are in the car, safety is paramount. Customers need to trust that their drivers are committed to keeping them safe and that the drivers are thoroughly and properly investigated before they’re allowed behind the wheel. There can be no compromise on public safety.

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Truth About Our Crumbling Infrastructure is the Tweets

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Author: Kish Rajan

Sometimes, it takes a tweet to speak the truth: Bay Area residents must recognize our crumbling infrastructure.

Last week, commuters complaining about delays were surprised when Taylor Huckaby, a social media manager for @SFBart, did the politically unthinkable. When faced with hundreds of tweets, he was frank and honest about the financial and structural challenges facing the public transit agency, and the Bay Area’s infrastructure at large.

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AT&T Wants to Decommission Landlines in California

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Author: Samantha Young

Seeking to capitalize upon Californians’ growing use of Internet-based phone service, telephone giant AT&T is asking state lawmakers to allow it to decommission its costly landlines.

The telco says wireless and Internet-based voice services are giving Californians enhanced phone services at a better price than traditional copper wire landlines, and it’s time for the state to move into the 21st century.

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