A U.S. satellite company's call for help in finding a missing Malaysia Airlines jet brought a strong response on the Internet, as some people hoping to pitch in are finding a website struggling to handle all the web traffic.
The company, DigitalGlobe, says it's working to fix the problem and aid the search for the airliner, which has now been missing for four days. The search area for signs of the jet was widened Tuesday.
DigitalGlobe issued a call for volunteers to sift through satellite images of waters in the Gulf of Thailand and elsewhere that were taken after flight MH370 went missing this weekend. The company is continuing to put images on its Tomnod site, which it calls a "platform for crowdsourcing satellite imagery."
The company issued this update Tuesday:
"We are working to best handle an unprecedented level of web traffic and interest in supporting the search. Please check back soon. We have new imagery collections planned for today and hope to make those images available online for the crowd as soon as possible."
Hours after the company's request for help went out Monday afternoon, the response brought "unprecedented load on our servers," the company said in an update on Twitter.
The heavy server load is understandable. The images in question are high-resolution satellite photos, and by design, multiple volunteers are given access to the same area, to ensure that the data they enter is verified. The company's call for volunteers was echoed loudly by the Reddit community, increasing interest in the project.
As of Tuesday afternoon, DigitalGlobe said it was adding new photos to widen the area that people can search. The company says it has had "an amazing response" to the crowdsource project.
The Malaysian jetliner mystery isn't the first time the satellite company has turned to the Internet for help. From Canada's CTV:
"DigitalGlobe says the Tomnod crowdsourcing platform has also been activated during natural disasters, including last November's Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The company says thousands of volunteers tagged more than 60,000 'objects of interest' spotted in satellite images after the typhoon barreled through the region."
A satellite imagery expert notes that detailed images of the Earth's surface are hard to come by. John Amos of SkyTruth tells The Washington Post, "Despite the impression that people get when they use Bing and Google Earth and Google Maps, those high-resolution images are still few and far between."
As the Two-Way reported today, the mystery of the airliner's fate has prompted other questions, as well — such as "how planes are tracked and if there are better ways to do it."
Thanks to NPR's Carol Ritchie for flagging this story for us.
That beautiful spring-like day those of you in the Midwest and Northeast have been experiencing today after a brutal winter?
It's not going to last. As Weather.com reports, temperatures will plunge and then cities from Detroit to Cleveland to Buffalo and Burlington will receive yet another heavy round of snow.
The Detroit Free Press says Wednesday is shaping up to be pretty messy for commuters, as the storm dumps 8 to 10 inches in metro Detroit.
The storm the paper reports could put this season near record territory:
"[The predicted snow] would bring the season tally within a few inches of the snowiest winter in Detroit's recorded history. Metro Detroit has seen 84.1 inches of snow this season. The record is 93.6 inches, set in 1880-81.
"It's late in the season (first day of spring is March 20), but [National Weather Service meteorologist Joseph] Clark said that were he to guess, he'd say the record will get broken.
"'We could definitely get another one,' he said, adding that Detroit's biggest snowstorm was April 6, 1886, when 24.5 inches fell."
The Buffalo News reports that the area is expecting 14 to 18 inches of snow and winds of 25 to 35 mph.
Capital Weather Gang reports that in Washington, D.C., the temperature will be volatile. It'll be about 70 degrees tomorrow and then drop to below freezing overnight.
And that's too bad, because the trees were thinking it was spring. The Weather Gang quotes Susan Kosisky of the U.S. Army Centralized Allergen Extract Lab saying the "trees are awakening," sending tree pollen to moderate levels.
The Entire Playlist
- Rufus Du Sol, "Desert Night" (Sweat It Out!)
- Flight Facilities, "Stand Still (Mario Basanov Remix)" (Glassnote / Future Classic)
- Coldplay VS Booka Shade, "Essential Midnight" (Promo)
- Booka Shade, "Crossing Borders (Kolombo Remix)" (Blaufield Music)
- SBTRKT, "Kyoto" (XL Recordings)
- Little Dragon, "Klapp Klapp (Girl Unit Remix)" (Loma Vista/Republic)
- Chromeo, "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" (Big Beat / Atlantic)
- Uone, "Sao Paulo Groove"
- Haim, "If I Could Change (MK Regrets Dub)" (Columbia)
- Jonas Rathsman, "Hope I'm Wrong" (French Express)
- Booka Shade, "Crossing Borders (Mihalis Safras Remix)" (Blaufield Music)
- Sleight Of Hands, "Sometimes" (Smoke N'Mirrors)
- Derrick May, "Strings Of Life (Tom Middleton Remix)" (R&Amp;S Records)
- Phantogram, "Nothing But Trouble" (Barsuk / Republic)
- The Seshen, "Oblivian" (Tru Thoughts)
- Tensnake, "No Colour" (Astralwerks)
- Chris Malinchak, "If U Got It" (Ultra)
- Shur-I-Kan, "Blue Giraffe" (Lazy Days Recordings)
- Shur-I-Kan, "Away" (Lazy Days Recordings)
- Corbu Sound, "We Are Sound (Charles Webster Deep Dub)" (Promo)
- Eno / Hyde, "The Satellites" (Warp Records)
- Underworld, "Dark & Long (Dark Train)" (V2)
- Duke Dumont, "I Got U (Ft. Jax Jones) (High Contrast Mix)" (Blase Boys Club)
- Tom Middleton, "Gliding (D&B Mix)" (Urban Torque)
Another 940,000 people signed up for health insurance in February under the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total to 4.2 million since the troubled HealthCare.gov website was launched, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. The number is still well short of the administration's goal for March 31, when open enrollment ends.
To reach 6 million sign ups under the ACA, as the White House had hoped for, another 1.8 million people would need to enroll by the end of the month.
As The Associated Press reports:
"That's way above the daily averages for January and February, which have ranged between 33,000 and 34,000. The math seems to be going against the administration.
"Officials expect the pace to pick up. The big question is whether it will be enough to make up for the technical troubles that paralyzed HealthCare.gov much of last fall and the continuing challenges for several state-sponsored websites."
"The new data reveals a significant fall-off from January, when about 1.1 million people enrolled during the month.
"Another highlight—or lowlight—of Tuesday's enrollment report was the disclosure that the percentage of young adults signing up for Obamacare had remained at 27 percent of total sign-ups in the past two months. That's well below the 40 percent level some health-care experts have said would ensure that premiums paid to insurance companies would more than offset benefits paid out to older, sicker enrollees."
But CNBC quotes Timothy Jost, a law professor and health-care reform expert at Washington and Lee University, as saying that the 6 million goal is still possible.
"There's every reason to believe that they're right, that sign-ups are going to shoot up in March, and that they'll get to 6 million," Jost said.
However, 6 million is less than the original target of 7 million enrollments by the end of March.
The number of enrollees is just part of the overall equation - the mix is just as important. The administration wants to get enough young, relatively healthy people to enroll to offset the costs of the older, less healthy ones.
According to the report on Tuesday, cumulatively 30 percent of those who have signed up are between 55-64 years of age — the single largest group.
For more than a decade scientists have been saying that a genomic revolution will transform medicine, making it possible to scan all of a person's DNA to predict risk and customize medical care.
Well, we've got the machines. Where's the revolution?
Getting closer, say researchers at Stanford University, who tested the technology on 12 people. But not quite ready for every doctor's office.
""We were witness to the birth of this idea, and now we feel like we have an unruly teenager on our hands," says Dr. Euan Ashley, an associate professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford, and an author of the study. "It's going to take some tough love."
The study was published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.
Whole-genome scanning uses machines to plow through all of a person's DNA looking for variations that could be associated with disease. Though until now it's been used rarely for diagnosing patients, it's becoming increasingly fast and affordable. Machines are now able to run a whole-genome scan in a day or two, at a cost of just a few thousand dollars.
Quick and affordable, maybe, but not necessarily accurate.
When the Stanford researchers compared whole-genome scans done on two different machines, they found that the results matched up just one-third of the time for genetic variants that could signal a risk of inherited disease.
"That's not good enough; we need to do better than that," Ashley told Shots. But he thinks that's a "solvable problem," especially with a technology that's improving so quickly.
But even if the genome scanners become more accurate, doctors will still have to grapple with what all that data means.
When a mutation is found, geneticists have to comb back through published studies on genes and disease in people and animals, looking for a match. If it's for a disease caused by a single mutation, like cystic fibrosis, that's a cinch. But if it's for something like heart disease, which involves many, many mutations that vary from one person to the next, it's devilishly hard.
And many of the databases used to look for meaning have errors themselves, the researchers say.
One of the 12 people in this study did have a previously-unknown mutation that predisposed her to breast and ovarian cancer. For her, having her genome scanned could be life saving. But for the other 11, there were no revelations.
"You find a lot of stuff that's much harder to determine what do to with," says Dr. W. Gregory Feero, a geneticist and faculty member for the Maine-Dartmouth family medicine program. He wrote an editorial accompanying the Stanford study, titled "Proceed With Care."
With the Stanford volunteers, it took a lot of human effort to try to figure that out. Each had 90 to 127 genetic variants, and it took an average of an hour of expert time to try to figure out what they meant.
Scanning and interpretation cost about $15,000 per person, the Stanford group said.
Still, Ashley says people shouldn't dismiss genomic medicine as mere hype. "The worst thing would be if the hype overcame this, and people said we weren't delivering. There's opportunity here to transform medicine."