- This tech is hotter than the Sun…
- The NFT trend is getting too big to ignore…
- Another day, another data leak…
Friday brought some good news as the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause was lifted. The vaccine is now approved for use without any restrictions.
Throughout the pandemic, the mainstream media and certain public health “experts” have made sweeping statements to imply that there is unanimity in opinions. We’ve all read statements like “All scientists agree”… or “We all agree that”…
That’s never the case. And whenever I hear comments like that, I immediately know that they’re not true.
The J&J vaccine was no different. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) committee that reviewed the latest information on the J&J vaccine voted 10 to 4 in favor of reinstating its use without restrictions.
There have been 15 cases of dangerous blood clotting associated with the J&J vaccine, 12 of which have been a form of blood clot in the brain. Three of these cases are confirmed to have resulted in death. And those are the ones that we know of.
The chance of these blood clots happening appears to be 1.9 times out of one million doses. Clearly, the risk is small, but it does exist.
Those who voted against the approval chose to do so because they felt the approval should have stipulated the higher risk associated with a certain demographic – specifically women under 50 years old.
The other 10 who voted for its approval didn’t feel that doing so was necessary.
And here’s what I find interesting.
Had it not been for the trouble that European countries have been experiencing with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine (a number of European countries suspended its use), I doubt there would have ever been a pause on the J&J vaccine.
Why? The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and the J&J vaccine both use the same approach – they modify an adenovirus as a way to deliver the vaccine payload.
And the European Medicines Agency has identified that blood clotting happens at a rate of one in 100,000 doses. And while each vaccine should be evaluated individually, there is still value in recognizing that there may be similar side effects in the same class of vaccines.
Thankfully, the associated organizations in Europe were open and transparent about the clotting issues, which I believe forced the pause on the J&J vaccine in the U.S.
I only wish that the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were more open about the reported side effects with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines as well.
While the side effects and deaths are very small as a percentage of doses administered, they are nowhere near zero.
And anyone contemplating taking a vaccine should be presented with this kind of information so that they can make an informed decision about their own health.
That said, the approval to release the J&J vaccine is great news.
As an effective, single-shot vaccine, this will put the U.S. back on track to have more than 50% of the entire U.S. adult population vaccinated within the next few weeks.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
The most exciting project on the planet…
One of my favorite nuclear fusion projects just made an incredible breakthrough.
TAE Technologies just demonstrated the ability to produce plasma reactions at more than 50 million degrees Celsius in its Norman compact reactor. For those counting, that’s nearly twice as hot as the Sun.
Regular readers will be familiar with TAE Technologies. We have talked about this company in these pages before. In fact, I published a special report on the great work TAE is doing. Readers who missed it can find the report here.
To bring new readers up to speed, TAE is an early stage company focused on nuclear fusion. This is not to be confused with nuclear fission – the kind of nuclear energy the world has used to produce baseload power up until now.
Nuclear fusion is technology that can meet the world’s energy requirements as a limitless source of clean energy. Equally as remarkable is that it can be achieved by a compact reactor capable of operating inside of a relatively small footprint.
Here’s what TAE’s nuclear fusion reactor looks like:
TAE’s “Norman” Fusion Reactor
Source: TAE Technologies
The fact that TAE could demonstrate plasma reactions at nearly twice the heat of the sun in this reactor is a major validation of its fusion reactor design. This was a critical step toward a fully functional nuclear reactor.
TAE’s design is also unique in that its fusion reaction is 100%. That means there are no emissions and no radioactive waste. That’s the endgame.
TAE leveraged this big milestone into a $280 million venture capital (VC) raise. Among the backers were Vulcan Capital, Venrock, and Google.
For readers who may not know, Vulcan Capital is the VC firm set up by the late Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. And Venrock is the VC arm of the Rockefeller family.
And I expect all readers are likely familiar with Google, which has a venture arm that tends to invest in moonshot opportunities. TAE would certainly fit that description.
And with this latest round, TAE has now raised more than $880 million since its founding. That makes it one of the most well-funded companies in the nuclear fusion space.
The funds will go toward building out a new reactor called Copernicus that can operate in excess of 100 million degrees Celsius.
At this temperature, the technology can simulate net energy production. That’s when more energy is produced than is consumed in the process.
Put another way, a nuclear fusion reactor becomes economical once it reaches net energy production. That’s the power of the Sun – a reaction that produces more units of energy than are required to maintain the reaction.
Limitless, carbon-free, clean energy.
Wall Street is minting NFT tokens…
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) just showcased a series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to commemorate the first trades of six popular listings.
The companies that were memorialized were Spotify, Snowflake, Unity, DoorDash, Roblox, and Coupang. These were some of the most popular listings to hit the NYSE of late.
The digital piece of art includes first trade data from each company’s debut. You can see for yourself in the graphic below.
First Trades NYSE NFT
We have been talking about NFTs quite a bit here at The Bleeding Edge lately. They have quickly become one of the hottest new asset classes on the planet.
As a reminder, NFTs are digital collectibles. They allow us to cryptographically secure and authenticate unique assets or data on a blockchain.
And while some of the prices we’re seeing for these digital artworks might not last, the underlying technology will. That is where this story gets interesting…
The NFTs minted by the NYSE were not sold. Instead, rumor has it they were gifted to the respective listing companies.
So why did the NYSE do this if it’s not getting paid? It claims this was just a “fun, new way” to honor these new companies’ entrance to the market.
But promoting NFTs just for fun seems a bit odd…
In fact, I suspect this indicates the NYSE is looking to expand its coverage to digital assets. And the project is likely already being worked on in-house.
That’s a clear sign that the opportunity is too great to ignore. And I suspect this is being driven by digital asset exchange Coinbase going public.
The NYSE is owned by a $68 billion company called InterContinental Exchange (ICE). This is the parent company that operates 12 traditional exchanges and six clearing houses across the globe.
And there’s no doubt that ICE was paying attention to the recent Coinbase listing. The cryptocurrency exchange is now valued around $60 billion, and its profit outlook is off the charts.
And think about this… Both ICE and Coinbase are now trading at similar valuations. Yet ICE requires almost 9,000 employees to operate, while Coinbase is incredibly profitable with just 1,249 employees. That’s why the lightbulb must be going off.
For ICE and the NYSE, NFTs represent more than just a way for the exchange to say thank you to new listings. They are the gateway into the digital asset space.
I’m confident this is just the beginning. In the coming months, we can look forward to learning more about how the NYSE plans to employ NFTs and digital assets.
Facebook users keep getting abused…
Facebook is at it again.
It just came out that an epic data set of 533 million Facebook users is widely available online. This data set includes users’ phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, relationship statuses, and more. It was being freely traded on hacker forums for anybody to access.
This is gross negligence on the part of Facebook. If the amount of people impacted were a country, it would be about twice as big as the United States and nearly as big as China or India. That’s how many users had their data exposed.
Even more mindboggling was Facebook’s response. It quickly downplayed the severity of the leak by saying the data was old. It was “only” from 2019.
And since Facebook already addressed the technical vulnerability, the company implied that this report was old news. It feels that the risk is over.
Two things stand out here.
First, people don’t change their emails, phone numbers, or physical addresses that often. Data like this from just two years ago can easily be used for identity theft or fraud, or potentially worse given that physical addresses were included in the leak.
This is a serious issue. In 2020, nearly 1.4 million Americans reported cases of identity theft. And losses from fraud exceeded $3.3 billion last year. This is no small sum.
Second, Facebook never informed its subscribers that their data was circulating in the wild. Not once.
We’re seeing a clear pattern here. This is just another incident in a growing list of events where Facebook has either exploited its users or neglected to adequately protect their data.
We might remember a few other examples:
In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined the company $5 billion for collecting user phone numbers under false pretenses. Facebook used the data to target users with additional advertising.
Also in 2019, Facebook’s security-oriented virtual private network (VPN) app was revealed to be a form of spyware that tracked users around the internet.
In early 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that the data of more than 80 million Facebook users had been exploited to make targeted political ads during the 2016 election.
What’s more, this latest malfeasance has received little coverage by the mainstream media. A data leak of this magnitude should be everywhere.
But most people aren’t even aware it occurred.
This suggests some form of collusion or censorship could be going on. Sadly, this is very consistent with what we have experienced over the last year or so.
This is just the latest reminder of why I encourage anyone concerned with protecting their data to avoid using Facebook. Not only does it collect and sell access to our data to advertisers, but it can’t even be trusted to keep our data secure.
So whenever I see events like this, it strengthens my appreciation for companies like Apple even more.
Apple continues to be a surprisingly good steward of our data. And that’s been a key strategic initiative for the company. Apple differentiates itself from companies like Facebook and Google by supporting privacy and protecting data.
This is something that will continue to pay off for Apple in the long run.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
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