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        / /_
   URI # Climate Change Made This Summer's Drought 20 Times More Likely, Study Finds
       Rising global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels made this
       summer's brutal droughts across the Northern Hemisphere -- which dried up
       rivers, sparked unprecedented wildfires and led to widespread crop failure --
       20 times more likely, according to a new study. Yahoo News reports: Climate
       change is rewriting normal weather patterns in real time, said the study by
       World Weather Attribution, a consortium of international scientists who examine
       he link between rising average global temperatures and extreme weather. The
       droughts that affected North America, Europe and Asia this summer were so
       extreme that they would normally be considered a 1-in-400-year event, the study
       found, but due to climate change, the planet can now expect a repeat of those
       conditions every 20 years. Individual daily temperature records in Europe were
       repeatedly broken over the summer of 2022, and the extreme heat was blamed for
       24,000 deaths on the continent. Higher average temperatures also dramatically
       increase evaporation rates, drying out soils and vegetation and leading to a
       heightened wildfire risk, all of which negatively impact farming.
       "In Europe, drought conditions led to reduced harvests. This was particularly
       worrying, as it followed a climate-change-fueled heat wave in South Asia that
       also destroyed crops, and happened at a time when global food prices were
       already extremely high due to the war in Ukraine," Friederike Otto, professor
       of climate science at Grantham Institute in the U.K. and one of the authors
       of the study, said in a statement. But as the summer of 2022 showed, climate
       change amplifies seemingly contradictory effects, worsening drought while also
       dramatically increasing the risks of extreme precipitation events. In addition
       o drying out soil, increased evaporation rates due to higher temperatures
       result in higher levels of atmospheric moisture. "Our analysis shows that last
       summer's severe drought conditions across large parts of the Northern Hemisphere
       were fueled by human-induced climate change. The result also gives us an insight
       on what is looming ahead. With further global warming we can expect stronger and
       more frequent droughts in the future," Dominik Schumacher, researcher at ETH
       Zurich and one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.
   URI # Google Shows Off Wireless Charging Dock That Turns the Pixel Tablet Into a Smart Display
       Alongside today's launch of the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and Pixel Watch, Google
       revealed more details about its upcoming Pixel Tablet that was first announced
       earlier this year at Google I/O. The biggest new feature is it's ability to
       ransform into a smart display when paired with a magnetic wireless charging
       speaker dock. "When docked, it looks like a Nest Hub Max, responds to Google
       Assistant queries, and lets you control your smart home from the redesigned Home
       app," adds The Verge.
       Other features include the Google Tensor G2 processor, which is powering the new
       Pixel 7 smartphones, a user interface that's based on the Material You design
       language, and a nano-ceramic coating on top of the 100 percent recycled aluminum
       body. Unfortunately, there's still no concrete release date as the company would
       only say the tablet is coming in 2023.
   URI # China Upgrades Great Firewall To Defeat Censor-Beating TLS Tools
       Great Firewall Report (GFW), an organization that monitors and reports on
       China's censorship efforts, has this week posted a pair of assessments
       indicating a crackdown on TLS encryption-based tools used to evade the
       Firewall. The Register reports: The group's latest post opens with the
       observation that starting on October 3, "more than 100 users reported that
       at least one of their TLS-based censorship circumvention servers had been
       blocked. The TLS-based circumvention protocols that are reportedly blocked
       include trojan, Xray, V2Ray TLS+Websocket, VLESS, and gRPC." Trojan is a tool
       hat promises it can leap over the Great Firewall using TLS encryption. Xray,
       V2ray and VLESS are VPN-like internet tunneling and privacy tools. It's unclear
       what the reference to gRPC describes -- but it is probably a reference to
       using the gRPC Remote Procedure Call (RPC) framework to authenticate client
       connections to VPN servers.
       GFW's analysis of this incident is that "blocking is done by blocking the
       specific port that the circumvention services listen on. When the user changes
       he blocked port to a non-blocked port and keep using the circumvention tools,
       he entire IP addresses may get blocked." Interestingly, domain names used with
       hese tools are not added to the Great Firewall's DNS or SNI blacklists, and
       blocking seems to be automatic and dynamic. "Based on the information collected
       above, we suspect, without empirical measurement yet, that the blocking is
       possibly related to the TLS fingerprints of those circumvention tools," the
       organization asserts. An alternative circumvention tool, naiveproxy, appears not
       o be impacted by these changes. "It's not hard to guess why China might have
       chosen this moment to upgrade the Great Firewall: the 20th National Congress
       of the Chinese Communist Party kicks off next week," notes the Register. "The
       event is a five-yearly set piece at which Xi Jinping is set to be granted an
       unprecedented third five-year term as president of China."
   URI # Court Blocks 13,445 'Pirate' Sites Proactively To Protect One Movie
       An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: A court in India has
       granted what appears to be the most aggressive site-blocking injunction in the
       history of copyright law. In advance of the movie 'Vikram Vedha' premiering in
       cinemas last Friday, a judge handed down an injunction that ordered 40 internet
       service providers to proactively and immediately block an unprecedented 13,445
       sites. [...] India began blocking pirate sites in 2011 but the public had no
       idea it was coming. In an early case, movie company Reliance Entertainment
       went to court to protect the movie 'Singham' and came away with an order that
       compelled ISPs to temporarily block sites including Megaupload, Megavideo,
       Rapidshare, Putlocker, Hotfile and Fileserve. Having obtained one injunction, to
       he surprise of no one Reliance Entertainment immediately sought and obtained
       another. From there, the site-blocking train gathered steam and hasn't looked
       back. [...]
       After obtaining certification for its new movie 'Vikram Vedha' last Monday,
       Reliance Entertainment filed an injunction application the next day. The
       goal was to protect the movie from online piracy following its premiere last
       Friday. Given that courts in other countries can take months over a decision,
       he Madras High Court needed to act quickly. On September 30, the day of the
       movie's release, the Court published its orders, noting that substantial sums
       had been invested in 'Vikram Vedha' and the movie was expected to screen in
       3,000 cinemas worldwide. With words such as "imminent" and "threat" featured
       early on, it was already clear which way the judge was leaning. How far he was
       prepared to go still came as a surprise. After reading through the Reliance
       application, the judge declared that Reliance had made its case and that an
       injunction was appropriate. The judge said that if an interim injunction wasn't
       immediately granted, it would "result in alleged piracy being completed in all
       and every aspect of the matter." That would in turn lead to an "irreversible
       situation" and "irreparable legal injury incapable of compensation."
       Due to the urgency, the respondents in the case – including 40 internet
       service providers -- weren't notified of the legal action. Nevertheless,
       he injunction was handed down via two separate orders, which together
       prohibit anyone from copying, recording, camcording, making available,
       uploading, downloading, exhibiting or playing the movie without a license. After
       specifically prohibiting copying to CD, DVD, pen drives, hard drives or tapes,
       he orders move on to the issue of ISP blocking. It appears that Reliance asked
       for a lot and the judge gave them everything. According to one of the orders,
       he websites put forward for blocking are all "non-compliant" operations,
       in that they have no reporting and take down mechanisms in place, at least
       according to Reliance. Interestingly, Reliance also informed the court that all
       of the websites were infringing its copyrights in respect of the movie 'Vikram
       Vedha', even though it was yet to be released and when the application was
       filed, no copies were available online. This means that Reliance couldn't have
       provided any infringing URLs even if it wanted to. Nevertheless, the judge did
       consider more limited blocking.
       Ultimately, the judge granted an interim injunction and ordered all of the
       ISPs (list below) to immediately and proactively block a grand total of 13,445
       websites. While the names of the websites were made available to the court,
       he court did not make the schedule available on the docket. As a result we
       have no way of confirming which domains are on the list. The ISPs weren't
       informed about the injunction application either, so presumably they're also
       in the dark. The idea that the judge tested all 13,445 domains seems wishful
       hinking at best. That leaves Reliance Entertainment as the sole entity with
       any knowledge of the submitted domains, all of which have been labeled in court
       as infringing the movie's copyright, even though no copy was available when the
       application was made.
   URI # Blizzard Axes Controversial Overwatch 2 Phone Number Requirement
       Overwatch 2 will no longer require existing Overwatch players to cough
       up a phone number, as Blizzard rolls back the controversial anti-cheat
       system. TechRadar reports: All Overwatch 2 players were originally required
       o link an active phone number to their Battle.net account to play the hero
       shooter. Blizzard hoped the SMS Protect authentication system would help users
       verify their accounts, and prevent disruptive and abusive players from returning
       o the game after being banned. [...] Overwatch's phone number authentication
       system has proven controversial among the game's community. Several types of
       phone numbers, including those linked to pre-paid SIM cards and VOIP phones,
       can't be used for authentication, locking many would-be players out of the
       sequel. Even those who'd purchased the original Overwatch -- which was replaced
       by the free-to-play sequel and is no longer accessible -- originally found
       hemselves unable to play Overwatch 2 if they didn't have a phone number of the
       right type. Similarly, many who'd bought the game's Watchpoint Pack ahead of its
       launch found they couldn't access the game to enjoy the $39.99 starter bundle.
       "We have made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority
       of existing Overwatch players," Blizzard said in a forum post announcing the
       end of the system. "Any Overwatch player with a connected Battle.net account,
       which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have
       o provide a phone number to play. We are working to make this change and
       expect it to go live on Friday, October 7." But the policy change won't benefit
       everyone. Blizzard says: "Accounts that were not connected to Battle.net, as
       well as new accounts, will still have to meet SMS Protect requirements."
   URI # Showtime May Be Merged Into Paramount+
       "Paramount Global executive David Nevins, who has run the premium network
       Showtime since 2016, is leaving the company at the end of year," reports
       CNBC. According to the report, it may help give the media conglomerate
       "more flexibility to potentially merge Showtime into Paramount+." From the
       report: Along with his departure, Paramount Global is restructuring Showtime
       in ways that could give the company flexibility to effectively end Showtime as
       it's existed for decades -- as an independent premium cable network churning
       out prestige hits such as "Dexter," "Weeds," "Billions," "Homeland" and
       "Yellowjackets." Paramount Global announced Thursday that it's moving Showtime's
       network business under the leadership of Chris McCarthy, who runs other linear
       cable networks such as MTV and Comedy Central, and the streaming service under
       Tom Ryan, who runs Paramount Streaming.
       The moves come as the company is considering the idea of merging Showtime
       into Paramount+ and using the network's hit programming to fuel Paramount+
       subscriptions, according to people familiar with the matter. The company's goal
       is to have Paramount+ be one of the five largest global streaming services,
       along with Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO Max, Amazon's Prime Video, Netflix and
       Disney+, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are
       private. No decisions about Showtime's future have been made, and no changes are
       imminent, the people said.
       One obstacle to pushing Showtime together with Paramount+ is existing pay
       TV distributor agreements. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that
       Paramount has discussed simply shuttering the standalone Showtime network with
       at least one pay-TV partner. Another idea under consideration by Paramount
       Global executives is to move Paramount+ originals and movies to Showtime,
       effectively making Showtime a mirror to Paramount+'s content that doesn't
       appear on other TV networks, two of the people said. That could assuage pay-TV
       providers, who could adjust pricing against the merged streaming product. [...]
       Eliminating Showtime as an independent entity would also come with cost savings
       from head count reductions, such as Nevins' departure, and technology and
       marketing duplications.
   URI # The Pixel Watch Is Official: $349, Good Looks, and a Four-Year-Old SoC
       An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google is clawing its
       way back into wearable relevance. Today the company took the wraps off what is
       officially its first self-branded smartwatch: the Pixel Watch. Google started
       revamping its wearable platform, Wear OS, in partnership with Samsung. While
       Wear OS 3, the new version of Google's wearable platform, technically launched
       with the Galaxy Watch 4 last year, this is the first time we'll be seeing an
       unskinned version on a real device. First up: prices. Google is asking a lot
       here, with the Wi-Fi model going for $349 and the LTE version clocking in at
       $399. The Galaxy Watch 4, which has a better SoC, and the Apple Watch SE, which
       has a way, way better SoC, both start at $250. Google is creating an uphill
       battle for itself with this pricing.
       Google and Samsung's partnership means the Pixel Watch is running a Samsung
       Exynos 9110 SoC, with a cheap Cortex M33 co-processor tacked on for low-power
       watch face updates and 24/7 stat tracking. This SoC is a 10 nm chip with two
       Cortex A53 cores and an Arm Mali T720 MP1 GPU. If you can't tell from those
       specs, this is a chip from 2018 that was first used in the original Samsung
       Galaxy Watch. For whatever reason, Google couldn't get Samsung's new chip from
       he Galaxy Watch 4, an Exynos W920 (a big upgrade at 5 nm, dual Cortex A55s, and
       a Mali-G68 MP2 GPU). It's hard to understand why this is so expensive.
       The display is a fully circular 1.6-inch OLED with a density of 320 ppi
       (that should mean around 360 pixels across). The only size available is
       41 mm, the cover is Gorilla Glass 5, and the body is stainless steel in
       silver, black, or gold. It has 2GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, NFC, GPS,
       only 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11n support (Wi-Fi 4), and a 294 mAh battery. For
       sensors, you get SPO2 blood oxygen, heart rate, and an ECG sensor. It's
       water-resistant to 5 ATM, which means you're good for submersion, hand washing,
       and most normal water exposure. Usually 10 ATM is preferred for serious sports
       swimming, but the Apple Watch is 5 ATM, and Apple does all sorts of swimming
       promos. Google's black UI background does a good job of hiding exactly how
       large the display is in relation to the body, but a few screenshots reveal
       just how big the bezels are around this thing. They are big. Real big. Like,
       hard-to-imagine-we're-still-doing-this-in-2022 big. Other things to note:
       he watch bands are proprietary, it'll be able to charge to 50 percent in 30
       minutes, will work with any Android phone running version 8.0 and newer, and
       features Fitbit integration.
       "Unlike the Pixel 7, which is expanding to 17 markets, the Pixel Watch is only
       for sale in eight countries: the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia,
       Japan, and Taiwan," adds Ars. "The watch is up for preorder today and ships
       October 13."
       Further reading: Google Unveils Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Smartphones
   URI # Boston Dynamics Pledges Not To Weaponize Its Robots
       Several robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics, are pledging not to
       support the weaponization of their products and are calling for others in the
       industry to do the same, according to a letter shared first with Axios. From
       he report: The open letter highlights the erosion of consumer trust in robots
       as among the reasons not to allow them to be used as weapons. "We believe that
       adding weapons to robots that are remotely or autonomously operated, widely
       available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible
       locations where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious
       ethical issues," the companies said in the letter. The companies pledged not
       o add weapons technology themselves or to support others doing so. And "when
       possible" they said they will review customers' plans in hopes of avoiding those
       who would turn the robots into weapons, in addition to exploring technical
       features that could prevent such use. In addition to Boston Dynamics, five
       other firms signed on to the commitment: Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath
       Robotics, Open Robotics and Unitree Robotics.
   URI # Biden Pardons All Federal Simple Marijuana Possession Offenses
       President Biden on Thursday announced that he is pardoning all prior federal
       offenses of simple marijuana possession and encouraged state governors to do
       he same for state offenses. He also directed federal officials to review
       how marijuana is classified under the Controlled Substances Act. From a
       report: "There are thousands of people who have prior federal convictions for
       marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational
       opportunities as a result," Biden said in a statement. "My action will help
       relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions." The blazing
       announcement means that all prior charges, convictions, and not-yet-prosecuted
       offenses will be pardoned. The Justice Department will set up an administrative
       process for those affected to obtain a certificate of pardon. Senior
       administration officials estimated that over 6,500 people will get federal
       pardons and thousands more with convictions under code in the District of
       Columbia will be impacted. However, the officials noted that there are
       currently no people in federal prisons solely on simple marijuana possession
       convictions. The vast majority of simple marijuana possession convictions are
       state convictions, which will not be affected by the federal pardons. That's why
       Biden has called upon governors to extend the pardons to those charges.
   URI # Amazon's Glow Goes the Way of the Fire Phone and Dodo
       Amazon's Glow is no more. The tech giant has discontinued the children's device,
       which included an 8-inch display and a projector that could display games on a
       mat, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. ArsTechnica: You can't buy the Glow on Amazon's
       website anymore. According to Bloomberg, the device was on sale for $150 (down
       from $300) on Tuesday before it became listed as unavailable later that day. The
       publication cited slow sales as a reason for the product's demise. It also noted
       he device's focus on remote connectivity as pandemic-related restrictions
       eased. Amazon announced Glow on September 28, 2021, before launching invite-only
       availability, followed by general availability in March. "We... continually
       evaluate the progress and potential of our products to deliver customer value,
       and we regularly make adjustments based on those assessments," Kristy Schmidt,
       an Amazon spokesperson, told Bloomberg. "We will be sharing updates and guidance
       with Glow customers soon." The Glow allowed children to video chat, draw,
       and play games with family members remotely via the 8-inch display. It also
       projected onto a 19-inch mat that children could interact with. One obvious
       downside was the requirement of an Amazon Kids+ subscription for playing
       games and accessing other content, like books and art. The service is $5 per
       month. Glow came from Amazon's Grand Challenge lab, which makes experimental
   URI # Celsius' Top 3 Execs Cashed Out $42M in Crypto Before Bankruptcy
       Crypto lender Celsius' top three executives withdrew $42.13 million in
       cryptocurrency between May and June 2022, right before the company suspended
       withdrawals and filed for bankruptcy, new court records show. From a
       report: According to a Statement of Financial Affairs filed late Wednesday,
       former CEO Alex Mashinsky, former CSO Daniel Leon and CTO Nuke Goldstein
       withdrew the funds largely from custody accounts in the form of bitcoin (BTC),
       ether (ETH), USDC (USDC) and CEL tokens (CEL). Over a dozen other executives,
       including the company's Chief Compliance Officer, Oren Blonstein, Chief
       Risk Officer Rodney Sunada-Wong and new CEO Chris Ferraro did not make any
       significant withdrawals during that time period, according to the document,
       one of several filed to the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New
       York. Mashinsky withdrew about $10 million in cryptocurrency in May 2022. Leon
       withdrew about $7 million (and an additional $4 million worth of CEL denoted as
       "collateral") between May 27 and May 31. Goldstein withdrew around $13 million
       (and an additional $7.8 million worth of CEL also denoted "collateral").
   URI # 'Princeton Isn't Free - But It Could Be'
       An anonymous reader shares a report: Princeton University is so rich it has
       become a perpetual motion machine -- an institution that can operate with no
       outside financial support whatsoever. That's the claim made by Malcolm Gladwell,
       in a recent newsletter, and opposed by Harvard economics professor John
       Campbell, in a letter to The Browser. Gladwell is broadly correct. Campbell's
       quibbles might change the exact numbers, but Princeton really does seem to have
       reached the point at which it's capable of funding itself in perpetuity, even
       without research grants or tuition income.
       A handful of ultra-rich universities increasingly resemble hedge funds with a
       nonprofit educational arm attached. Critics like Gladwell say that endowments
       have become so huge that Princeton and its ilk no longer need to beg for money
       from alumni; that such donations would almost certainly be better spent at
       almost any other nonprofit; and that even charging tuition seems unnecessary at
       his point. Princeton's endowment hit $37.7 billion in 2021, or $4.5 million
       per student. The school's entire annual operating expense that year was $1.86
       billion, which is less than 5% of the value of the endowment.
       The endowment will probably decline in value in 2022; such are the markets. But
       over the long term, it's reasonable to expect the endowment to continue to grow
       more quickly than the university's expenses. Princeton's historical investment
       returns alone have been significantly higher than the rate of inflation in
       uition and other education costs -- that explains why proceeds from the
       endowment account for an ever-greater share of spending every year. On top of
       hat, Princeton continues to be very good at persuading its alumni to continue
       o donate generously to the fund.
   URI # Big Tech, Banks, Government Departments Shred Millions of Storage Devices They Could Reuse
       Companies such as Amazon and Microsoft, as well as banks, police services and
       government departments, shred millions of data-storing devices each year, the
       Financial Times has learnt through interviews with more than 30 people who
       work in and around the decommissioning industry and via dozens of freedom of
       information requests. From the report: This is despite a growing chorus of
       industry insiders who say there is another, better option to safely dispose of
       data: using computer software to securely wipe the devices before selling them
       on the secondary market. "From a data security perspective, you do not need to
       shred," says Felice Alfieri, a European Commission official who co-authored a
       report about how to make data centres more sustainable and is promoting "data
       deletion" over device destruction. Underpinning the reluctance to move away from
       shredding is the fear that data could leak, triggering fury from customers and
       huge fines from regulators.
       Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission fined Morgan Stanley
       $35mn for an "astonishing" failure to protect customer data, after the bank's
       decommissioned servers and hard drives were sold on without being properly wiped
       by an inexperienced company it had contracted. This was on top of a $60mn fine
       in 2020 and a $60mn class action settlement reached earlier this year. Some of
       he hardware containing bank data ended up being auctioned online. While the
       incident stemmed from a failure to wipe the devices before selling them on, the
       bank now mandates that every one of its data-storing devices is destroyed --
       he vast majority on site. This approach is widespread. One employee at Amazon
       Web Services, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the company
       shreds every single data-storing device once it is deemed obsolete, usually
       after three to five years of use: "If we let one [piece of data] slip through,
       we lose the trust of our customers." A person with knowledge of Microsoft's data
       disposal operations says the company shreds everything at its 200-plus Azure
       data centres.
   URI # Popular Censorship Circumvention Tools Face Fresh Blockade By China
       Tools helping China's netizens to bypass the Great Firewall appear to be facing
       a fresh round of crackdowns in the run-up to the country's quinquennial party
       congress that will see a top leadership reshuffle. From a report: Greater
       censorship is not at all uncommon during countries' politically sensitive
       periods, but the stress facing censorship circumvention tools in China appears
       o be on a whole new level. "Starting from October 3, 2022 (Beijing Time),
       more than 100 users reported that at least one of their TLS-based censorship
       circumvention servers had been blocked," writes GFW Report, a censorship
       monitoring platform focused on China, in a GitHub post.
       TLS, or transport layer security, is a ubiquitous internet security protocol
       used for encrypting data sent across the internet. Because data shared over
       a TLS connection is encrypted and cannot be easily read, many censorship
       circumvention apps and services use TLS to keep people's conversations
       private. A TLS-based virtual private network, or VPN, directs internet traffic
       hrough a TLS connection instead of pushing that traffic to one's internet
       provider. But Chinese censors seem to have found a way of compromising this
       strategy. "The blocking is done by blocking the specific port that the
       circumvention services listen on. When the user changes the blocked port to a
       non-blocked port and keeps using the circumvention tools, the entire IP address
       may get blocked," GFW Report says in the post.
   URI # Toxic Air Pollution Particles Found in Lungs, Livers and Brains of Unborn Babies
       Toxic air pollution particles have been found in the lungs, livers and brains
       of unborn babies, long before they have taken their first breath. Researchers
       said their "groundbreaking" discovery was "very worrying," as the gestation
       period of foetuses is the most vulnerable stage of human development. From a
       report: Thousands of black carbon particles were found in each cubic millimetre
       of tissue, which were breathed in by the mother during pregnancy and then passed
       hrough the bloodstream and placenta to the foetus. Dirty air was already known
       o strongly correlate with increased miscarriages, premature births, low birth
       weights and disturbed brain development. But the new study provides direct
       evidence of how that harm may be caused. The scientists said the pollution could
       cause lifelong health effects.
       The particles are made of soot from the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles,
       homes and factories and cause inflammation in the body, as well as carrying
       oxic chemicals. The study was conducted with non-smoking mothers in Scotland
       and Belgium, in places with relatively low air pollution. "We have shown for
       he first time that black carbon nanoparticles not only get into the first and
       second trimester placenta, but then also find their way into the organs of the
       developing foetus," said Prof Paul Fowler, at the University of Aberdeen in
       Scotland. "What is even more worrying is that these particles also get into the
       developing human brain," he said. "This means that it is possible for these
       nanoparticles to directly interact with control systems within human foetal
       organs and cells."