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California Offers Digital Record of Coronavirus Vaccination

California on Friday started offering residents a digital record of their coronavirus vaccinations that they can use to access businesses or events that require proof they got the shots. From a report: The state's public health and technology departments said the new tool allows Californians access to their COVID-19 vaccination records from the state's immunization registry and includes the same information as the paper cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To access the information, Californians will enter into a state website their name, date of birth and email or phone associated with their vaccine records and they will be asked to create a four-digit PIN. The record will include a QR code that users can save to their mobile phones. With nearly 20 million people fully vaccinated in California and proof of vaccination already required in some circumstances such as travel, state health officials felt there would be demand for the tool, though it remains optional, said Dr. Erica Pan, the state's epidemiologist.

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EPA Releases List of Top Cities With Energy Star-certified Buildings

EPA is out with its latest tally of buildings certified through the Energy Star efficiency program it runs with the Energy Department. From a report: Commercial and multifamily buildings are a big source of energy demand and carbon emissions. The chart shows the ranking of large cities, and this page has more about those, and smaller cities, too.

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Scientists Are Teaching Drones To Hunt Down Human Screams

If someone created a flying machine capable of tracking you down by listening for your voice, you might be creeped out. But what if you were pinned under a pile of rubble after a natural disaster and first responders couldn't locate you? Maybe then a human-seeking drone wouldn't be such a terrible idea. From a report: That concept is the focus for engineers at Germany's Fraunhofer FKIE institute, who've built a drone prototype designed to find people by detecting human screams and listening for other signs of distress. One of the lead engineers, Macarena Varela, showcased their progress last week at an annual conference hosted by the Acoustic Society of America. While it's easy to imagine human-seeking drones in a sci-fi horror movie, Varela says the gadget would be ideal for post-disaster scenarios, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires. They could hover over an area that rescue crews have difficulty getting to and pinpoint where people may be trapped. "[Drones] can cover a larger area in a shorter period of time than rescuers or trained dogs on the ground," Varela said. "If there's a collapsed building, it can alert and assist rescuers. It can go places they can't fly to or get to themselves." Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones are commonly used for search-and-rescue missions when disasters strike. Most often, they take aerial images of structural damage. Some have thermal imaging capabilities to scan for body heat, while larger drones can deliver medical supplies and other goods to people in isolated areas. But researchers are finding more novel uses for an extra set of eyes in the sky -- and noses. The University of Washington imagines drones that use smell to locate disaster survivors. The Aerospace Corporation is working on drones that can visually identify dogs and share their location with rescue teams. The University of Zurich developed a drone to change shape midflight to fit into oddly shaped crevices. Locating people using aerial acoustics presents its share of challenges. An auditory system would need to decipher between human cries and sounds that often happen in nature, such as animal calls and wind. It might also need to recognize patterns associated with kicking, clapping or other ways people try to get the attention of rescue teams.

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Earth is Trapping 'Unprecedented' Amount of Heat, NASA Says

The Earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005, according to new research, described as an "unprecedented" increase amid the climate crisis. From a report: Scientists from NASA, the US space agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), reported in a new study that Earth's "energy imbalance approximately doubled" from 2005 to 2019. The increase was described as "alarming." "Energy imbalance" refers to the difference between how much of the Sun's "radiative energy" is absorbed by Earth's atmosphere and surface, compared to how much "thermal infrared radiationâ bounces back into space. "A positive energy imbalance means the Earth system is gaining energy, causing the planet to heat up," NASA said in a statement about this study. Scientists determined there was an energy imbalance by comparing data from satellite sensors -- which track how much energy enters and exits Earth's system -- and data from ocean floats. This system of data-gathering floats, which stretches across the globe, allows for "an accurate estimate of the rate at which the world's oceans are heating up." Because about 90% of excess energy from an imbalance winds up in the ocean, the satellite sensors' data should correspond with temperature changes in oceans.

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Google's Adtech Business Set To Face Formal EU Probe By Year-End

Alphabet unit Google could face its biggest regulatory threat, with EU antitrust regulators set to open a formal investigation into its lucrative digital advertising business before the end of the year, said people familiar with the matter. From a report: It would mark a new front by the EU competition enforcer against Google. It has in the last decade fined the company more than 8 billion euros ($9.8 billion) for blocking rivals in online shopping, Android smartphones and online advertising. An EU probe would focus on Google's position vis-a-vis advertisers, publishers, intermediaries and rivals, one of the people said, indicating deeper scrutiny than the French antitrust agency's case concluded last week. Google made $147 billion in revenue from online ads last year, more than any other company in the world. Ads on its properties, including search, YouTube and Gmail, accounted for the bulk of sales and profits. About 16% of revenue came from its display or network business, in which other media companies use Google technology to sell ads on their website and apps.

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