Abstracts: Blood, Zika Vaccines, Wi-Fi, and More


• A “half-decent” team of hackers set out to test the Wi-Fi networks in locations frequented by President Trump, including his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The team found outmoded WEP-encrypted networks, Wi-Fi-enabled printers without passwords, and weak and outdated hotel networks, though it is not clear whether the president connects to these when traveling with his family. (ProPublica)

“Half-decent” hackers penetrated Wi-Fi networks at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere.

• The drug company Sanofi Pasteur, which has received millions of taxpayer dollars to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus, rejected a request from the U.S. Army to set a “fair” price for such a vaccine. The prospect of giving Sanofi an exclusive license on the vaccine has upset many advocacy groups and lawmakers, notably Senator Bernie Sanders. (STAT)

• Scientists have succeeded in tweaking the recipe to create primordial blood cells that regenerate themselves and the components of blood from fully mature cells. If the findings translate to the clinic, patients suffering from leukemia and other blood disorders who are not able to find a compatible donor might be able to receive a transplant of their own healthy cells. (Nature)

• The FDA and CDC warn that some blood tests may have drastically underestimated the amount of lead in children and pregnant women tested as far back as 2014.The warning applies only to tests in which blood samples are taken from a vein. (Washington Post)

• A preponderance of concentrated caffeine sources makes it easier than ever to overdose. (Popular Science)

• A new study in Scientific Advances examining the teeth of orangutans suggests that when fruit and other food sources become scarce, the primates breast-feed until they are 8 or 9 years old. (NPR)

• Henderson Island, a remote atoll in the Pacific known for its rare ecology, was found littered with plastic debris. The estimated 17 tons of garbage on the white beaches of the tiny island were brought by ocean currents. (New York Times)

• Growing evidence suggests that plants might be able to hear — and are motivated to grow by the sounds of running water. Pea seedlings in a recent study grew more quickly in soil placed over coils of tubing with flowing water, rather than just plain soil. Other experiments show that certain flowers are more likely to pollinate prolifically when exposed to frequencies similar to those of buzzing bees, and that a relative of cabbage produces more toxins when it “hears” the sound of caterpillars munching. (Scientific American)

• More than 600 researchers, residents, and medical professionals signed an open letter to Health Secretary Tom Price urging him to listen to scientific evidence after comments he made last week about using medication-assisted therapy to treat opioid addiction. (Tonic)

• And finally, the best way to transmit 17 years of satellite data destined for the cloud is by truck. (Wired)