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Athletics: Though it may not rank as high in viewership as World Cup Soccer (Football to the rest of the world), the 53rd Super Bowl® is tonight and historically sports (heh!) the largest viewership in the US of any other television broadcast. The game is being held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and features the 2-point favorite American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots vying with the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Los Angeles Rams to be crowned the champions of the National Football League (NFL) for the 2018 season.

Advertisements: Over the years, it has grown to be a spectacle where the game play is occasionally overshadowed by the advertisements.

An advertisement during this year’s game sets a new record of over $5 Million for a 30-second spot. Some of the most memorable ads of all time premiered during the Super Bowl®. Who can forget the Macintosh 1984 ad or Michael Jordan and Larry Bird’s game of "horse" where "nothing but net" became a meme?

An Experiment: In light of this opportunity, we are going to try something new for SoylentNews. We have set up a channel on our IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server especially for this game. The Patriots are favored to win over the Rams by two points, so the game may prove to be close… discussion about the game IS welcome. We are also offering a venue for people to discuss the ads that are broadcast, in real time. See an ad you thought was lame, say so! Laughed your butt off? Say that, too! The intent is to provide a shared space for the community to watch the game together.

Ground Rules: This is intended to be an enjoyable experience. In the sole discretion of the channel operators, ad hominem attacks, uncivil behavior, trolling, spamming, and politics are all grounds for getting kicked off the channel. Repeated violations will result in a ban from the channel and whatever other steps are deemed necessary to make it an enjoyable place for people to hang out and discuss the game and ads. In short, we are inviting you to our "living room" — have fun, but don’t crap on our carpet. Let’s put our differences aside and gather together for a shared community experience!

Researchers previously believed contrast sensitivity function — the minimum level of black and white that a person needs to detect a pattern — was mainly dictated by the optics of the eye and processing in the brain. Now, in a study published in the journal eLife, researchers, including Michele Rucci at the University of Rochester, explain that there is another factor at play: contrast sensitivity also depends on small eye movements that a person is not even aware of making.

When we fix our eyes on a single point, the world may appear stable, but at the microscopic level, our eyes are constantly jittering. These small eye movements, once thought to be inconsequential, are critical to the visual system in helping us reconstruct a scene, Rucci says. "Some scientists believed that because they are so small, the eye movements might not have much impact, but compared to the size of the photoreceptors on the retina, they are huge, and they are changing the input on the retina." [Continues…]

Think of a scene or object like a computer image made up of different pixels, or points. Each point is a different color, intensity, luminance, and so on. Our eyes take in signals from each of the points and project the signals onto photoreceptors on the retina: the arrangement of these points makes a spatial pattern that we perceive as a scene or object. But, if a spatial pattern is projected as a stationary image, it will fade from view once the retina’s photoreceptors become desensitized to the signal — like a student who becomes bored in class if the teacher repeats the same information over and over again.

Researchers have long known that the tiny eye movements — always jittering and taking in different points — continually change the signal to the retina and refresh the image so it does not fade. The new research suggests, however, that these movements do more than prevent fading; they are one of the very mechanisms by which the visual system functions, Rucci says. "The way the visual system encodes information is based on these temporal changes. Eye movements transform a spatial pattern into temporal changes on the retina."

[…] Knowing that eye movements do affect contrast sensitivity, researchers are able to input this factor into models of human vision, providing more accuracy in understanding exactly how the visual system processes information — and what can go wrong when the visual system fails. The research also highlights that movement and motor behavior may be more fundamental to vision than previously thought, Rucci says. "Vision isn’t just taking an image and processing it via neurons. The visual system uses an active scheme to extract and encode information. We see because our eyes are always moving, even if we don’t know it."

The photos were interesting, but Musk had additional comments about the engine that revealed much about how the company is proceeding with overall design of the vehicle it will power. SpaceX’s approach seems focused on keeping costs down and moving as quickly as possible towards a launch of the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket in the early 2020s.

This comment is notable for a couple of reasons. First of all, the company appears to have decided to streamline the Raptor engine to a single design that will power both the rocket at liftoff, and the spaceship in the upper atmosphere and outer space. It will take less time to develop, test, and qualify a single engine. It will also cost less money.

There is an added benefit to this approach: for the next two decades, NASA appears likely to be highly interested in developing infrastructure near and on the Moon. By flying Starship on early test flights to the same destination, SpaceX has a far greater chance to win government contracts for the delivery of cargo, and potentially astronauts, to the Moon. Heretofore, neither NASA nor the US military has shown much if any interest in SpaceX’s ambitious rocket and spacecraft.

The fact-checking platform said it hasn’t ruled out working with Facebook in the future, and hopes to continue to discuss ways to combat misinformation. Snopes also said it hopes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with fact checkers following his 2019 resolution to "host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society."

Facebook has faced scrutiny for not taking more action against fake news and misinformation, including interference by Russian trolls during the 2016 US presidential election. Last year, the social network landed in hot water after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy linked to the Trump presidential campaign, improperly accessed data from as many as 87 million Facebook users.

"We value the work that Snopes has done, and respect their decision as an independent business," a Facebook spokesperson said. "Fighting misinformation takes a multi-pronged approach from across the industry. We are committed to fighting this through many tactics, and the work that third-party fact-checkers do is a valued and important piece of this effort."

A meta-analysis finds that despite less evidence in the over 75s than in younger patients, statins reduce the risk of vascular events in older people. The research found no adverse effects of statin therapy on non-vascular mortality or cancer. Statin therapy reduces major vascular events, and a new meta-analysis shows this is the case even in patients over 75 years of age. The research, published in The Lancet, summarises evidence from 28 randomised controlled trials, including 186,854 patients, 14,483 of whom were aged over 75.

Irrespective of age, statins reduced risks of major vascular events by about a fifth per 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol. For major coronary events the overall reduction was about a quarter per 1 mmol/L reduction overall, but ranged from about 30% in those aged 75. The relative risk reductions for stroke and for coronary revascularisation (coronary stenting or bypass surgery) were similar in all age groups.

Dr Jordan Fulcher of the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, who is based at the University of Sydney NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Australia, says: "Statins are a useful and affordable drug that reduce heart attacks and strokes in older patients. Until now there has been an evidence gap and we wanted to look at their efficacy and safety in older people. Our analysis indicates that major cardiovascular events were reduced by about a fifth, per mmol/L lower LDL cholesterol, by statin therapy across all age groups. Despite previous concerns we found no adverse effect on cancer or non-vascular mortality in any age group."