Lobsters are terrifying immortal beings, sort of

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Lobsters are immortal. Kind of. 

Along with tasting delicious when dipped in butter and garlic, lobsters have another great trait: They constantly produce telomerase. Instead of dying of old age, the crustaceans just get bigger and bigger, thanks to their molecular hack. 

Or as @JUNIUS_64 explained in her viral Twitter thread, they made “a deal with the devil for conditional immortality and it backfired on them.”

If the environmental conditions are welcoming enough, a lobster will just keep growing. The biggest lobster ever caught clocked in at about 44 pounds and was an estimated 140 years old. That lobster would have lived through the Civil War, a few industrial revolutions around the world, the Great Depression, both World Wars, and the first Woodstock. 

The secret to lobsters’ longevity, as @JUNIUS_64 explains, is something called a telomere. Telomeres are basically the aglets of chromosomes — they keep them from unraveling. Every time a human cell divides, our chromosomes lose some part of their telomeres. If telomeres reach a critical length, cells stop dividing. Since telomeres can’t be replicated, there’s a finite amount of times human cells can divide. When cells stop dividing, it’s basically time to die.

Humans gradually make less telomerase as we age. As @JUNIUS_64 beautifully put it, “our biology encodes death as an inevitability.”

But even lobsters, with their endless supply of telomerase, can’t avoid death forever. 

“Entropy always comes for its due, and that’s what even lobsters must accept,” @JUNIUS_64 explained.

How does death finally catch up? Molting. 

Lobsters — even though they don’t age — get bigger. And getting bigger involves growing out of their exoskeletons, which ends up being an extremely taxing, energy sapping activity. When they molt when they’re tiny, they’re especially vulnerable, but when they molt when they’re huge it can be dangerous.

“An ancient lobster colossus may not have as many predator concerns during a molt,” @JUNIUS_64 said, “but the energy costs are what kills.” 

At a certain point, moving out of their shells is just too much effort. (Honestly, same.) Their shells accumulate parasites and bacteria, and mega-lobsters essentially end up trapped in their own skeletons.

Twitter users were both fascinated and terrified by @JUNIUS_64’s thread.

So if you’ve heard of the giant lobster theory and were worried about massive crustaceans lurking at the bottom of the ocean, they’re not coming to get you. It’s probably just too much effort. 

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This Clip Of Surfers Getting Circled By Sharks For Minutes Is Proof That Sometimes Ignorance Is Bliss

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Let me start out by saying that the chances of getting attacked by a shark are extremely slim. On average, there are only about 16 shark attacks per year in the USA (330 million+ citizens) and there’s typically only one fatality every two years. But just because a shark attack is rare it doesn’t mean your mind won’t freak you out every time you go swimming in the dark water.

When I was a kid growing up in Florida I never saw sharks at the beach when my mom would wake me up before sunrise to go snorkeling. I wouldn’t see them out fishing on the boat. It wasn’t until I was 11 or 12 and went parasailing in Sanibel Island when I realized just how fucking many sharks there are in the water at any given time. While hovering over the water behind the parasailing boat I saw a school of about 1,000 black tip reef sharks and we went over multiple sharks bigger than 7-feet. Then as I got older and started paying attention more I realized how many bull sharks and hammerheads showed up this time of year for tarpon fishing season.

My healthy respect and fear of sharks haven’t changed from when I was a kid to now, but if I could go back to not knowing how many sharks are out there I probably would. Like I said in the headline, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

That clip above was filmed just south of Durban, Mommsen in Australia and it shows several minutes of sharks circling the surfers and the surfers either not caring or not realizing they’re there at all. (h/t adventure sports network)

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The Commute To New York City Is So Abominable That One Man Paddle Boards Across The Hudson River

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The commute from New Jersey into New York City is a hellish peregrination full of obnoxious strangers who do not respect your personal space and do not believe in deodorant. Besides having to survive the living nightmare of being cramped in a small area for far too long, the costs for commuting from New Jersey to New York City can be pricey. One man found a way to travel from Jersey to NYC in a much more freeing and refreshing mode of transportation — a paddle board.

Scott Holt, a 32-year-old comedian who lives in Jersey City, had a meeting in the big city to find a manager. He didn’t have time for the ferry or the PATH train so he simply paddle-boarded across the Hudson River. Holt was dressed in a suit, fancy dress shoes, and had a briefcase, yet it didn’t slow him down.

“I didn’t really know where I was going. I was just aiming in that direction,” Holt said of Manhattan. “I was trying to get towards a spot I could get on and off quickly, and then the current started to pick up and I was like, ‘Oh f—k, I gotta get out of here quick.’ Any port in the storm, you know?”

Holt paddled to a closed-down water taxi dock and some police officers were there to greet him. “They said they could have arrested me but the cop was gracious enough to just tell me to (move) on,” he said. “They were surprised by my dress shoes and were nice enough to ask what time my meeting was. Don’t worry. I made it on time.” But an employee from New York Waterways wasn’t as chill. “He was like, ‘Are you trying to f—king die today?’”

Instagram Photo

His journey went swimmingly and made it across the river in 30 minutes. BONUS: the trip was free. However, in retrospect, Holt realized paddle boarding in the Hudson River might not be the smartest idea. “I stupidly didn’t bring a leash or a lifejacket, so if a [wave] took the board, then I just would’ve been stuck out there drowning in a suit,” Holt explained. “That’s the worst way to drown — dressed up. I didn’t think about ferry propellers chopping my head up till after,” the comic explained. “Ignorance is bliss.”

Sadly, not everything worked out with his meeting. “I was trying to meet a manager to represent me to be a comedian, but that meeting didn’t go as well as the commute,” Holt said. “So I’m still on the market for a manager.” Perhaps it was the dress shoes with dirty brown water leaking out of them that put a kibosh on the new manager?

[NYP]

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DNA synthesis breakthrough could lead to faster medical discoveries

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Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

For all of the advancements in genetic research, DNA synthesis hasn’t changed much in over four decades. That could make it a serious obstacle to scientists who are otherwise racing to develop a new drug or understand the human body. It might finally catch up to modern technology, however. A group at the Berkeley-based BioEnergy Institute have devised a synthesis technique that promises to be faster, more accurate and affordable. If all goes smoothly, it could significantly accelerate the pace of medical and biochemical discoveries.

The conventional technique attaches the chemical bases of DNA one at a time, and doesn’t work for more than 200 chemical bases (a tiny amount in the world of genetics) without having to risk reactions or join these gene sequences together in tenuous, occasionally unpredictable ways. It can take weeks to get something that might not even be what you intended. And when it can cost roughly $300 per gene, even perfect synthesis could prove expensive.

The Institute’s approach shakes things up by relying on an enzyme from the immune system, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase, that writes fresh DNA instead of copying it. If you tie a nucleotide (the unit that forms the polymers in DNA) to each enzyme with a cleavable linker, you can have the enzyme produce DNA sequences very quickly at about 200 bases per minute. You’ll also know what you should get, so there should be fewer costly errors.

This is far from ready for prime time. It has a lower yield of useful material than conventional techniques (98 percent versus 99.5 percent), and it has yet to produce large-scale genes. It could dramatically alter genetic research if the scientists make further progress, though. If you could synthesize even a complex gene within hours, you could quickly develop medicines, biofuels (the lab team’s focus) or agriculture. It could lower the costs, too, by reducing mistakes and speeding up the time to market. And of course, it could improve the overall rate of discovery, helping scientists spend less time waiting for synthesis and more time taking advantage of what they’ve created.

from Engadget https://engt.co/2MBJcfE
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A Handmade (by Robots) Bike

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Taking a lesson from the automotive industry on automation, Mokumono partnered up with 3D Hubs to robotically build the bada$$ bike you see here. Unlike other bikes that are usually manufactured with hundreds of parts and days of manual work before being shipped across the world, this new production method simplifies things. It makes it possible for the build to occur anywhere facilities permit and cuts back on labor costs while saving on the fossil fuels burned to transport units overseas.

Unlike traditional bike’s steel or aluminum tubing that takes hours of hand-welding and meticulous oversight, the Mokumono uses two sheets of 7000-grade aluminum pressed into form and laser welded together. Using just two formed halves joined around a head tube, seat tube/bottom bracket and drop-outs, the welding is simplified and streamlined for automated production. The result is faster and requires less work. Better yet, the number of components is reduced so it’s stronger and there’s less to break! While it might not have the bespoke feel of other handmade cycles, the fact that it’s robot-built does give one a sense of relief you can’t find elsewhere.

Designers: Bob Schiller & Tom Schiller of Mokumono

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The Frame

Unlike anything else. The aluminum frame is stiff in the areas where it matters. To allow for a comfortable ride, we designed the frame with floating rear stays and added a carbon fiber front fork. Making sure that our strong and lightweight frame offers a smooth ride.

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Carbon Belt Drive

The Gates CDX Carbon Belt Drive System is designed to be a stronger, quieter alternative to the traditional bike chain. The durable carbon-fiber belt is grease-free and requires little to no maintenance. It won’t leave any marks on your pants and you’ll never have to pull over to fix a dropped chain.

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Cambium C15 Saddle

The Brooks Cambium C15 saddle is made from vulcanized natural rubber and an organic cotton top that offers extraordinary comfort and exceptional freedom of movement. The hard-wearing top, die-cast aluminum structure, and tubular steel rails allow the Cambium to stand up to many years of hard use. Furthermore, a distinct dampening effect is delivered by the classic Brooks “hammock” construction, reducing road vibrations and keeping the rider comfortably in the saddle.

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Here’s an easy way to sharpen upscaled photos in Photoshop CC

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Here’s an easy way to sharpen upscaled photos in Photoshop CC

We have seen a couple of algorithms capable of upscaling low-res images. But you can also increase the resolution of your photos in Photoshop and still keep them sharp and usable. In this video from Blue Lightning TV Photoshop, you’ll learn an easy way of upscaling and sharpening images in Photoshop CC so you don’t lose details in your images.

In the video, you can also learn how to upscale low-res black and white graphics, which you might also find useful. But the photo part starts at 5:25, and it uses what’s called Artificial Intelligence Assisted Upscaling. Keep in mind that it’s only available in Photoshop CC and later, and this is how to use it to increase the size of the photo and keep it sharp:

Open the image you’d like to upscale or sharpen and go to Edit > Preferences > Technology Previews. Check Enable Preserve Details 2.0 Upscale. Now go back to the image and click Image > Image Size. Open the Resample list and click Preserve Details 2.0. Choose Percent as parameters and type the percentage of the size increase you want. In the video, the photo is increased three times, or 300 percent. You can also reduce the noise, but don’t overdo it because you’ll lose details.

To make the photo even sharper, you can apply the High Pass filter. Make a copy of the photo (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and go to Filter > Other > High Pass. Adjust the amount of pixels based on the size and resolution of your photo, and change the blend mode to Overlay. And that’s pretty much it.

I believe this technique can be useful, for example, if you crop an image and want to upscale it without losing detail. Also, the High Pass filter works on those slightly out-of-focus photos you really want to save. If you use Photoshop CC, try this out and let us know if it works for you.

[Photoshop: Convert Low-Resolution to High-Resolution! Up-Scaling & Up-Rezzing. via FStoppers]

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A Fitness Tracker for Athletes

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The use of technology to motivate and encourage people to increase their fitness levels through tracking, personal goals and real-time feedback is extremely popular now, and its presence has increased massively in recent years. But, what about technology that’s tailored towards more advanced athletes who require detailed feedback in specific disciplines?

Well Playr could be just the device for them; composing of three components, a smart pod, a high-performance vest and an app, it accurately tracks the athlete during training or a game. The pebble-shaped smart pod, that features a bold light strip down the centre, attaches neatly to the vest which is designed to be worn either over, or under a top and sits on top the user’s back. The compact pod then communicates with the mobile application which provides the athlete with detailed, personal feedback so they can reflect on their performance!

Designer: Benjamin Hubert of Layer Design for Catapult

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PLAYR comprises a smart pod, a high performance vest, and an app. The pod is inserted into the garment, which is worn underneath or over a football jersey, and sits at the top of the athlete’s back. The pod communicates with GPS networks and the PLAYR app to track the athlete during training or a game, including distance covered, sprint distance, Pitch heat map, and player load.

PLAYR has been designed to seamlessly integrate into both training and match situations, to offer statistics to the players and teams in order to improve their game. The PLAYR pod has smart activation, and activates with magnets located inside the vest when inserted in the pocket. LEDs on the PLAYR pod communicate the GPS signal strength, battery life, and charging. When illuminated, these LEDs reveal a pattern in the reverse of the top surface of the pod to communicate the technological high performance nature of the system. The PLAYR pod is designed to be wirelessly recharged between uses on the induction charging pad.

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The PLAYR garment is a high performance vest, created using advanced high performance textiles. The integrated pocket for the pod is located at the base of the neck – a position chosen due to minimum impact in competitive team sports. The pocket is padded to prevent any impact injury, and the pod is inserted into this pocket from outside the garment for ease of access to the pod.

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The PLAYR app allows an athlete to track their performance, and offers a smart coach to improve the user’s game. It also allows the user to compete against friends and peers, and benchmark themselves against professional players. Providing unique performance insight, the SmartCoach system is a world first. PLAYR has handpicked the best professional football coaches and sports scientists to provide individually tailored advice on preparation, performance and recovery; the pillars for success at professional clubs. With SmartCoach insight, consumers for the first time can benchmark their match and training data against the greatest players in the world, as well as their football peers and community.

The app has been designed for ease of use, with simple, intuitive UI. The high contrast design is ideal for use outside where the app will be predominantly used on the sidelines of a pitch.

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Amazon launches a last-mile delivery program powered by entrepreneurs

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Amazon has gotten flack in the past for some of the challenges its crowdsourced “last-mile” delivery drivers face, but now it’s offering those with entrepreneurial ambitions the option to do more. Instead of showing up for gig work, drivers can opt for a new program where Amazon helps them establish their own delivery business.

The program will include access to Amazon’s delivery technology, hands-on training and discounts on a suite of assets and services, including the vehicle leasing and insurance, the retailer says.

That means drivers won’t have to use their own cars, as in the crowdsourced delivery program known as Amazon Flex. This gives them more space for organizing packages, the ability to use parking spots for delivery vehicles and the ability to haul extra equipment, like straps and dollies.

Amazon says the earning potential for successful owners is as much as $300,000 in annual profit operating a fleet of 40 vehicles. The company expects that, over time, hundreds of small business owners will hire tens of thousands of delivery drivers across the U.S., it says.

In other words, Amazon just launched its own UPS competitor of sorts, by offering leased vans, training and resources to those who want to drive for Amazon instead of Uber.

The retailer says people can start up their Amazon delivery businesses with as little as $10,000. Military vets can get that 10K reimbursed, as Amazon is investing a million into a program that funds their startup costs.

The business owners — who don’t need logistics experience, Amazon notes — will be offered discounts on the customized delivery vans, branded uniforms, fuel, comprehensive insurance coverage and more — deals the retailer pre-negotiated on their behalf.

This also addresses some of the problems the gig work Flex drivers faced — gas prices would often cut far too much into profits; the lack of insurance; and the general challenges associated with trying to deliver packages from an unbranded, small car.

“We have great partners in our traditional carriers and it’s exciting to continue to see the logistics industry grow,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a statement about the launch. “Customer demand is higher than ever and we have a need to build more capacity. As we evaluated how to support our growth, we went back to our roots to share the opportunity with small-and-medium-sized businesses. We are going to empower new, small businesses to form in order to take advantage of the growing opportunity in e-commerce package delivery.”

The changes come at a time when there’s been debate about Amazon’s financial impact on the U.S. Postal Service. But with this new program, Amazon could reduce its reliance on outside partners as the program scales.

However, Amazon will continue to work with existing partners, including UPS and FedEx, in addition to the USPS and smaller last-mile delivery partners, for some time. As Amazon’s business continues to grow, it will need these partners’ help to get packages to customers for the foreseeable future — a fleet of leased Prime vans can’t do it all.

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Lies, damn lies and crypto analytics

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For the past 12 years I’ve followed the rise of the startup — defined as a small business with global ambitions — from my perch at TechCrunch. During that period I watched business reporting change from a sleepy backwater on the back of the Sports section into a juggernaut, a force that controls the global conversation. Why? Because business reporting became war reporting, and the battles fought were between VCs, businesses and ideas that changed the world.

In that period, VCs rose from glorified bank tellers to rock stars. Incubators popped up to socialize nervous founders and turn them into capital F Founders and the path for startups became a codified journey from failure to success.

Now we’re seeing the same thing happen in ICOs. But something is wrong. The startups coming out of the ICO craze aren’t being judged on the character of their founders, on their technologies or their probability for success. They are being judged, quite simply, on quantitative metrics that interrogate a token with one question: “When Lambo?”

This is the wrong approach. Token-based startups must receive the same level of socialization and scrutiny as the old VC-based startup vetting process. But something is different, and it’s an important difference.

In the old VC model a group of men — and it was mostly men for a long time — would stand in judgement over an idea. If any number of arbitrary points of risk appeared they would smile and say “No” to the founder, sending them down the road for another “No.” Unless you were plugged in professionally, went to https://tcrn.ch/2lHIbXO or had your own cash, seed to even late-stage investment wasn’t available and the resulting https://twitter.com/kteare/status/391689067370278912 of undercapitalization sunk countless startups.

Now, however, something new is afoot. While it’s always nice to look at tokens in comparison with other tokens, this sort of quantitative masturbation can easily hide a multitude of sins. Due diligence on token-based companies must be done, but it must be done through the wisdom of crowds. Instead of trying to impress one dude in a fleece vest and chinos on Sand Hill Road a founder must impress the world. They must tell a true, human story of actual value and explain their product without mumbling and hand waving. And they have to do it again and again.

Cryptocurrencies were supposed to bring us an egalitarian age of decentralized decision-making and a mathematical certainty. But the founders forgot one thing: humans offer no mathematical certainty. Instead of looking at numbers, these startups must be assessed on the basis of their value to humanity, on their technical ability to solve a real problem and on their understanding of human-to-human interaction. The future isn’t a number. Instead, the future is a many-to-one investigation of a startup and the decision — by the decentralized crowd — whether or not to continue funding.

Again, if your primary driver is greed, then by all means check out a chart that compares TRON to TRON. It’s your right. But if your goal is to make startups that will drive us deep into the future, then the old ways are best. A lot of things are about to change.

A few years ago I spoke to Deepak Chopra about his vision for a global voting system. In short, he was working on a way to take the global temperature. If a politician wanted to spend money on a road or, god forbid, go to war, they could put the question to the crowd via their cellphones. One vote per person, defined by biometric controls. This pie-in-the-sky idea is slowly coming to fruition and I think it’s going to be very exciting. And it will find its perfect home in the future of startup funding.

The age of centralized decision-making, in which analytics were used to help make seat-of-the-pants decisions, is over. Now we enter a new world and the folks used to the old ways should probably watch out. After all, when the crowd speaks, even VCs listen.

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How NASA saved the world

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NASA literally saved us from a planet-wide apocalypse in the 1980’s. If they hadn’t noticed a huge problem in our atmosphere, life on Earth would have collapsed by the year 2065. Following is a transcript of the video.

The early ‘80s were a very different time. Crazy hair, crazy clothes, we didn’t know we were heading towards a planet-wide disaster. And if nothing had been done about it, this is what the world would have become in 2065: Crops fail, livestock farming fails, aquaculture fails, and cancer rates are through the roof. Step outdoors in Washington DC, you’ll get a severe sunburn in 5 minutes.

But lucky for us, NASA had our backs in the ‘80s. 

NASA might be famous for exploring space, but that’s not its only job. The agency studies Earth, too. Which helps it track how our environment works and catch when something goes wrong. And in 1985, things had indeed gone terribly wrong.

Teams of scientists from NASA and the British Antarctic Survey discovered a severely damaged section of Earth’s ozone layer over Antarctica.

Here’s why that’s a problem: The ozone layer is a region in the stratosphere that absorbs harmful UV light from the sun. It’s basically our planet’s natural sunscreen. And it had grown extremely thin over Antarctica. So the ozone hole, as it became known, was absorbing less UV light than normal.

In fact, from Sept. through Nov. of that year, the ozone levels in the hole dropped by up to 67%. That’s like if you used only a third of the sunscreen you were supposed to before going to the beach. Thankfully, NASA had a pretty good idea of what was happening. For years prior, scientists had been sounding the alarm on chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs for short.

They were common in products like aerosol sprays and refrigerators and were chosen specifically because they were non-toxic to humans. But scientists soon discovered that didn’t matter because these molecules were extremely toxic to the ozone layer!

Turns out, when UV light hits a CFC molecule, it releases a chlorine atom which basically goes on a killing spree to celebrate. Turning ozone molecules into oxygen which are worthless when it comes to protecting your planet from UV radiation. One chlorine atom, for instance, can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules before it binds with another molecule and becomes inert. And the worst part? Chlorine atoms are especially destructive to the ozone in cold temperatures. Making Antarctica especially vulnerable.

But if CFC’s continued to go on unchecked, cold regions wouldn’t be the only casualty. By 2020: 17% would be gone worldwide and a similar ozone hole forms over the Arctic. By 2040 70% would be gone. By 2050 After the poles, the tropics lose their ozone layer completely. And in 2065 We’re doomed!

UV radiation levels on Earth’s surface double, which sparks all sorts of problems.

Susan Strahan: “If that UV were coming all the way to the surface, we would get skin cancer, we would have cataracts on our eyes, animals would get cataracts, our crops would die! So life on Earth —life on Earth for humans — really wouldn’t be possible. It sounds like some kind of horrible Hollywood disaster movie.I think we would have been in for a —well, it sounds pretty extreme —apocalyptic consequences. But really, we might have been.”

Fortunately, none of that happened. That’s because scientists across the world banded together. The Montreal Protocol was signed into effect in 1987, lowering production of harmful CFCs.

Susan Strahan: “The policymakers listened to science, they were informed by science, and they made a great decision….And it worked!”

By 1996, CFCs were banned completely in developed countries. And today, Now satellite data indicates that the Ozone hole is on the mend. And if we keep it up, it could be completely healed by the end of this century.

So it looks like the world won’t crumble by 2065 anymore. Well, at least not from a depleted ozone layer.

Join the conversation about this story »

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