The Download: This startup wants to kick-start a molecular electronics revival

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This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

This startup wants to kick-start a molecular electronics revival

In 2000, many hoped molecular electronics (using single molecules to create circuits and components) would leapfrog silicon-based circuitry to allow computer chips to keep getting denser and more powerful.

That vision was short-lived. Five years later, flash had cornered the memory market, silicon continued to dominate chip technology, and the well-funded molecular electronics field nearly collapsed. 

Now, the San Diego-based startup Roswell Biotechnologies hopes to give molecular electronics a second life. Instead of taking aim at computing circuitry, Roswell wants to integrate single molecules into electronic biosensor circuits, an approach it hopes will soon provide a cheap and convenient way to detect viruses, pick up on environmental toxins, and evaluate the effects of pharmaceuticals in real time. Read the full story.

—Karmela Padavic-Callaghan

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Facebook financed a secretive smear campaign against TikTok
This reveals just how rattled Meta really is. (WP $)
Facebook seems to be incapable of learning from its many mistakes. (Platformer $)
There’s no 911 in the metaverse. (The Information $)

2 Apple and Meta were tricked by hackers masquerading as law enforcement
One of the perpetrators is believed to be the teenage Lapsus$ mastermind. (Bloomberg $)
+ Nvidia is still refusing to cave to pro-crypto hackers holding it ransom. (Slate $)

3 Blaming tech for mental health problems misses the bigger picture
Humans get depressed even when we don’t have phones in our hands. (Wired $)
+ Please, help me stop doomscrolling. (Wired $)
People are swapping drinking for microdosing. (Vox)

4 More than half of Americans may have never had covid
Researchers are increasingly keen to study the ‘never covid’ cohort for immunity clues. (Bloomberg $)
+ Covid.gov has launched. Better late than never? (NPR)

5 El Salvador is courting crypto “whales” for new bitcoin-backed bonds
After most big international investors shunned them. (FT $)

6 Russia’s answer to Instagram is… not great
It may look like Instagram, but Instagram it ain’t. (The Guardian)
+ Russian influencers aren’t convinced they’ll be able to make money on it, either. (Insider $)
+ Meanwhile, Instagram is still pushing reluctant creators to make Reels. (Vox)
+ …And they’re mostly ripped off from TikTok anyway. (Vox)

7 A researcher who laid the foundations for supercomputers has won the Turing Award
Dr Jack Dongarra’s code paved the way for complex algorithms. (NYT $)

8 Why is everyone acting so weird right now?
Spoiler: it’s not just because of the pandemic. (The Atlantic $)

9 What’s it’s like going down the strangest Wikipedia rabbit holes
Why did the chicken cross Yunnan Provincial Road 214? It’s time to find out. (NYT $)
How a Wikipedia joke about the name of the Pringles mascot became fact. (The Guardian)

10 Worms are taking over 🪱
And they’re surprisingly destructive. (Nat Geo)
There are hundreds of mammal species yet to be discovered. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“I cannot shoot anything, but I can fight with a keyboard and mouse.” 

—Ukrainian hacker Danylo tells CNN why he’s been going after a Russian ransomware gang.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ The way these flocks of sheep move is oddly soothing.
+ When Megan Thee Stallion meets Metallica.
+ British comic The Beano’s explanation of NFTs is…pretty accurate.
+ I respect dumbphones, even if muggers don’t.
+ A rundown of Bruce Willis’ best performances—not all of them are cops.
+ Check out the new House of the Dragon images ahead of its August 21 pilot.
+ Inevitably, Elden Ring players are turning their characters into Shrek.

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