Booster Shots Create a 23X Increase in Protective Antibody Levels, Study Suggests

The Los Angeles Times summarizes the results of a new medical study conducted by Northwestern University researchers on antibody levels protecting against Covid-19 in 974 people. “Those who were immunized against COVID-19 with two doses of an mRNA vaccine and received a booster shot about eight months later saw their levels of neutralizing antibodies skyrocket.

“Among this group of 33 fully vaccinated and boosted people, the median level of these antibodies was 23 times higher one week after the booster shot than it had been just before the tune-up dose.”

What’s more, their median post-booster antibody level was three times higher than was typical for another group of people whose antibodies were measured a few weeks after getting their second dose of vaccine, when they’re close to their peak.

And it was 53 times higher than that of a group of 76 unvaccinated people who had recovered from COVID-19 just two to six weeks earlier. Even compared to a group of 73 people who had weathered a bout with COVID-19 and went on to get two doses of an mRNA vaccine, the boosted group’s median antibody level was 68% higher.

Study leader Alexis Demonbreun, a cell biologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said the data demonstrate that no matter how well protected a vaccinated person may think she is, getting a booster shot is likely to increase her neutralizing antibodies — and with it, her immunity — considerably. And because scientists expect large antibody responses to create more durable immunity, the protection afforded by the booster should last longer than the initial two-shot regimen did…

Among their other findings: After receiving two doses of vaccine, people who’d already had an asymptomatic infection were typically no better protected than vaccinated people who had never been infected.

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Getting a Crypto Refund Can Be Very Expensive

Long-time Slashdot reader smooth wombat writes:

Recently, Slashdot posted a story about a group trying to purchase one of the few copies of the U.S. Constitution in the public domain. The idea was to use pool donations by people via Ethereum to get the winning bid. Alas, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin outbid the group and took possession of the copy.

Now the group, ConsitutionDAO, is in the process of refunding the donations, the BBC reports, and the people getting their money back are finding it can be quite expensive…

The BBC writes:
That is because the Ethereum network records its transactions on the blockchain, the same basic technology idea that powers other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. And like Bitcoin mining, it requires computational power to run.
“Gas” is the fee paid to those who run the computer systems to facilitate transactions. And it changes price based on supply and demand. That means that at times, it can be much more expensive to make any kind of transaction, depending on how busy the Ethereum network is. And the network has recently seen high usage — and high gas prices.

On its official Discord — the chat app which allows anyone to create rooms and discussion channels for enthusiasts on almost any topic — the group said it had 17,437 donors with a median donation of $206.26. High gas fees mean that “small” donations could be severely hit by the transaction charge.

One user on the Discord said that in order to get $400 refunded, they would have to pay $168 in gas. Others complained of the fees being higher than the relatively small amount of their refund.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Crypto Miners in Kazakhstan Face Bitter Winter of Power Cuts

Illegal miners and mass relocations after a ban on crypto mining in China have overloaded energy grid. From a report: Matthew Heard, a software engineer from San Jose, is worried about his 33 bitcoin mining machines in Kazakhstan. In the past week, they kept getting shut off in an attempt by the national grid to limit the power being used by crypto miners. “It has been days since my machines have been online,” he said. “During the last week, even if my machines do come on, they barely stay on.” Kazakhstan has been struggling to cope with the huge popularity of crypto mining, driven this year partly by the steep rise in value of cryptocurrencies and partly by a mass migration of miners to its borders after China made mining illegal in May.

After three major power plants in the north of the country went into emergency shutdown last month the state grid operator, Kegoc, warned that it would start rationing power to the 50 crypto miners that are registered with the government, and said they would be “isconnected first” if the grid suffers problems. Heard set up in Kazakhstan in August and his machines are managed by Enegix, a company that rents out space to run crypto mining machines. He said his income has dropped from an average of $1,200 worth of bitcoin per day to $800 in October, and in the past week his machines have only been on for 55 per cent of the time. Machine owners are not notified when shutdowns are going to happen or when they will go back online, he said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Galaxy Note is Dead; Samsung Reportedly Ending Production on Note 20, No Plans for 2022 Model

An anonymous reader shares a report: 2021 marked a big year for the Galaxy Note series, but not in a good way. Rather, it was the beginning of the end as Samsung prioritized its foldables over the Galaxy Note line. Now, the death of the Note seems set in stone, as Samsung reportedly has no plans for a 2022 Galaxy Note, and is also planning to end production of the Galaxy Note 20. ET News reports that Samsung has pretty much confirmed the end of the Galaxy Note series through two actions. Firstly, Samsung apparently has no plans for a Galaxy Note device in its 2022 roadmap. Likely that means the only flagship-tier Galaxy smartphones coming next year will be the Galaxy S22 series and new foldables.

On top of that, Samsung will also apparently end production on its Galaxy Note 20 series entirely by the end of 2021. Until now, production on the Galaxy Note 20 has continued as the device has still been selling. In 2021, the series reportedly sold around 3.2 million devices, around a third the number of Note devices sold in 2020. Of course, we know well at this point that the Galaxy S22 Ultra will act as a spiritual successor to the Galaxy Note series, with the device adopting a design closer to the Note 20 series as well as using the same built-in stylus. The Galaxy Fold series also inherits the S Pen, but still lacks a good place to store it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China’s New Space Reactor ‘Will Be 100 Times More Powerful Than a Similar Device NASA Plans To Put on the Surface of the Moon by 2030’

Hmmmmmm writes: China is developing a powerful nuclear reactor for its moon and Mars missions, according to researchers involved in the project. The reactor can generate one megawatt of electric power, 100 times more powerful than a similar device Nasa plans to put on the surface of the moon by 2030. The project was launched with funding from the central government in 2019. Although technical details and the launch date were not revealed, the engineering design of a prototype machine was completed recently and some critical components have been built, two scientists who took part in the project confirmed to the South China Morning Post this week.

To China, this is an ambitious project with unprecedented challenges. The only publicly known nuclear device it has sent into space is a tiny radioactive battery on Yutu 2, the first rover to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. That device could only generate a few watts of heat to help the rover during long lunar nights. Chemical fuel and solar panels will no longer be enough to meet the demands of human space exploration, which is expected to expand significantly with human settlements on the moon or Mars on the agenda, according to the Chinese researchers. “Nuclear power is the most hopeful solution. Other nations have launched some ambitious plans. China cannot afford the cost of losing this race,” said one researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences who asked not to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.