The news: A new system for noise-canceling headphones lets users opt back in to certain sounds they’d like to hear, such as babies crying, birds tweeting, or alarms ringing. 

How it works: The system, which is still in prototype, connects off-the-shelf headphones to a smartphone app. The microphones embedded in these headphones, which are used to cancel out noise, also detect the sounds in the world around the wearer. These sounds are then played back to a neural network, which has been trained to recognize 20 everyday noises; then certain sounds are boosted or suppressed in real time, depending on the user’s preferences. 

Why it matters: Researchers have long tried to solve the “cocktail party problem”—that is, to get a computer to focus on a single voice in a crowded room, as humans are able to do. Experts say this new method is a significant step forward, and could pave the way for smarter hearing aids and earphones. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

I tried lab-grown chicken at a Michelin-starred restaurant

Last week, our climate reporter Casey Crownhart paid a visit to Bar Crenn, a Michelin-starred spot and one of two restaurants in the US currently serving up lab-grown meat. She was served a one-ounce sampling of cultivated chicken, made in the lab by startup Upside Foods, coated with a recado negro tempura crust, and topped with edible flowers and leaves. 

Cultivated meat, also called cultured or lab-grown meat, is meat made using animal cells—but not animals themselves. It’s a growing business. But does it really taste like chicken? Read Casey’s full review.

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