The Download: A baby formula crisis, and the hunt to improve solar panels

Parents across the United States are struggling to find baby formula amid a national shortage. Non-parents may not realize that the shortage is so sudden. However, it has been steadily growing into a crisis over the past months. This was triggered by a recall at Abbott Nutrition, the main supplier of powdered infant formulation to the US market. It could take several months before supplies are adequate.

In the meantime, parents are turning to Instagram, TikTok, and TikTok to get tips on where to find formula. Despite repeated warnings by the FDA that homemade formula is not safe for babies’ delicate systems, YouTube videos showing dangerous homemade recipes are being shared online. Parents are also being swindled by price-gouging or outright scams when they search for formula to feed their children. Read more . –Tanya Basu

These materials were created to revolutionize solar industry. Why hasn’t this happened?

Solar panels are almost synonymous with silicon. The material is used in about 95% of the panels in today’s market. However, silicon solar cells have a limited amount of energy that they can harness from sunlight and are still quite expensive to make.

Many have long believed that compounds called perovskites could be cheaper, lighter and more efficient than other solar materials. Despite all the excitement and a flurry startups trying to commercialize the technology, experts warn that perovskite based solar cells could still take nearly a decade before they make a significant commercial impact. Read our story for more information.

–Casey Crownhart

An infuriating and expensive quest to buy an NFT

Our editor-in-chief Mat Honan attempted to buy an NFT of an Olive Garden restaurant for his friend Katie–partly as a gift, and partly to learn more about NFTs ahead of our print magazine issue all about money, and how it’s changing.

Unfortunately, it was far from straightforward, reflecting just how volatile the NFT market is these days, and reinforcing his belief that money is weird now. Read the entire story .

The must-reads

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

1 The risk of starvation is growing sharply in poorer countries
Much of the world is on the brink of an economic crisis, thanks to a combination of the pandemic’s aftermath plus the war in Ukraine, and rising inflation. (NYT $)

2 Elon Musk is hell bent on paying less for Twitter
And he’s happy to use spam bots as a convenient excuse. (Bloomberg $)

3 Data from period tracking apps is on sale
And could be used to identify specific users considering abortions. (Motherboard)
Abortion has been legal for the majority of America’s existence. (Wired $)
Overturning Roe v Wade will make navigating the unexpected extremely dangerous for women. (Slate $)

4 Apple’s mixed-reality headset program is in turmoil
Technical challenges and leadership clashes mean it’s unlikely to see the light of day before next year. (The Information $)

5 The internet’s hatred of Amber Heard is rooted in misogyny
Many Johnny Depp supporters are more invested in attacking her than defending him. (The Atlantic $)
Cruel TikToks and memes mocking her testimony are hard to avoid on social media. (Wired $)

6 Crypto’s celebrity champions have gone very quiet
Because pushing digital currencies in the middle of a market meltdown is bad business. (NYT $)
If you’ve bought crypto in the past year, you’ve probably lost money. (New Yorker $)
Comedian Seth Green’s NFTs were stolen in a common phishing scam. (Motherboard)

7 Chinese sellers are abandoning Amazon
Reaching wider audiences has come with a hefty price tag, and they’ve had enough. (Rest of World)

8 The deepfake industry still has a major pornography problem
Despite its efforts to distance itself from vile, non-consensual videos, they’re still easily accessible. (Motherboard)
Deepfake porn is ruining women’s lives. (TR)

9 China has leapfrogged the US in the race to supercomputer supremacy
But experts want more collaboration, rather than competition, between the two. (FT $)

10 VHS tapes are reaching new generations of viewers online
Amateur archivists are digitizing and streaming decades-old programs. (Input)

Quote of the day

“The message is clear: if you see something you need to report it.”

–Scott Bray, a US intelligence official, tells a Congress briefing on UFOs that pilots need to feel free to report strange sightings without stigma, according to Quartz.

We can still have nice things

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