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Jun 7, 2023

Oceans warmer last month than any May on record

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

Global oceans were warmer last month than any other May in records stretching back to the 19th century, the European Union’s climate monitoring unit reported Wednesday.

Sea temperatures at a depth of about 10 meters were a quarter of a degree Celsius higher than ice-free oceans in May averaged across 1991 to 2020, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

Year-round, long-term trends have added 0.6C to the ’s surface waters in 40 years, said C3S deputy director Samantha Burgess, noting that April had also seen a new record for heat.

Jun 7, 2023

ChatGPT designs its first robot

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI

Poems, essays and even books—is there anything the open AI platform ChatGPT can’t handle? These new AI developments have inspired researchers at TU Delft and the Swiss technical university EPFL to dig a little deeper: For instance, can ChatGPT also design a robot? And is this a good thing for the design process, or are there risks? The researchers published their findings in Nature Machine Intelligence.

What are the greatest future challenges for humanity? This was the first question that Cosimo Della Santina, assistant professor, and Ph.D. student Francesco Stella, both from TU Delft, and Josie Hughes from EPFL, asked ChatGPT.

“We wanted ChatGPT to design not just a , but one that is actually useful,” says Della Santina. In the end, they chose as their challenge, and as they chatted with ChatGPT, they came up with the idea of creating a tomato-harvesting robot.

Jun 7, 2023

Google DeepMind’s game-playing AI just found another way to make code faster

Posted by in categories: information science, robotics/AI

“It’s an interesting new approach,” says Peter Sanders, who studies the design and implementation of efficient algorithms at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and who was not involved in the work. “Sorting is still one of the most widely used subroutines in computing,” he says.

DeepMind published its results in Nature today. But the techniques that AlphaDev discovered are already being used by millions of software developers. In January 2022, DeepMind submitted its new sorting algorithms to the organization that manages C++, one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and after two months of rigorous independent vetting, AlphaDev’s algorithms were added to the language. This was the first change to C++’s sorting algorithms in more than a decade and the first update ever to involve an algorithm discovered using AI.

Jun 7, 2023

HsCRP: What’s Optimal, Which Factors May Reduce It?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

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Jun 7, 2023

Humans to achieve immortality in 8 YEARS, says former Google engineer

Posted by in categories: life extension, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI

Ray Kurzweil is known for making predictions in technology that have come true — and now he is sure humans will reach immortality in our lifetime. He also explains how robots will make it happen.

Jun 7, 2023

Interstellar Cyclers

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space travel

A new kind of starship.

The huge distances between Earth and the nearest star make it necessary for us to conceive of extremely high-velocity starships if interstellar travel is to be possible with durations less than a human lifetime. In practise this means accelerating the starship to some percent of lightspeed. The problem with doing this, of course, is that truly phenomenal amounts of power are required to boost a ship to such velocities.[1]

Various propulsion schemes have been proposed, from nuclear fusion to antimatter to laser sails. Until recently, laser sailing seemed like the most economical and easiest way, even though it still requires that we build lasers that draw more power than all of human civilization is now capable of producing. [Author’s note: since I first wrote this a method has been proposed that could amplify a laser launcher’s power by factors of tens of thousands. So I guess laser launch is back on the table.].

Jun 7, 2023

NASA awoke Voyager 1 from 14.6 billion miles away, and the spacecraft responded

Posted by in category: space

Launched in 1977, NASA’s Voyager probes continue their exploration, pushing the boundaries of human understanding. Earlier this year, NASA faced an unsettling situation when Voyager 1, second of the pair to be launched, began sending back distorted communications. This sparked worries about a significant system failure in the spacecraft, now 45 years into its journey. However, NASA recently reported that it had successfully rectified the problem, which in turn has uncovered another mystery to investigate.

Voyager 1’s journey began with a “Grand Tour” of the outer planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — enabled by a unique planetary alignment. After its journey past Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 outran its twin, Voyager 2, eventually becoming the first man-made object to leave the solar system in 2012.

The trouble began when NASA detected issues with the craft’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS), responsible for ensuring the probe’s antenna stays pointed towards Earth. Failure of this system could result in a permanent loss of communication with the aging explorer. While this system returned scrambled updates, the probe was still transmitting valuable data, signaling that something was amiss.

Jun 7, 2023

Gemini North back on sky with dazzling image of supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

The Gemini North telescope, one half of the International Gemini Observatory operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, has returned from a seven-month hiatus literally with a bang, as it has captured the spectacular aftermath of a supernova, a massive star that exploded in the large, face-on, spiral Pinwheel Galaxy (Messier 101). The supernova, named SN 2023ixf (lower left), was discovered on May 19 by amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki.

Since its discovery, observers around the globe have pointed their telescopes toward Messier 101 to get a look at the burst of light. Over the coming months, Gemini North will allow astronomers to study how the light from the fades and how its spectrum evolves over time, helping astronomers better understand the physics of such explosions.

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Jun 7, 2023

June 5, 1995: First Bose Einstein Condensate

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, space

The BEC phenomenon was first predicted by Satyendra Bose and Albert Einstein: when a given number of identical Bose particles approach each other sufficiently closely, and move sufficiently slowly, they will collectively convert to the lowest energy state: a BEC. This occurs when atoms are chilled to very low temperatures. The wavelike nature of atoms allows them to spread out and even overlap. If the density is high enough, and the temperature low enough (mere billionths of degrees above absolute zero), the atoms will behave like the photons in a laser: they will be in a coherent state and constitute a single “super atom.”

JILA’s Carl Wieman (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Eric Cornell (NIST) first started searching for a BEC around 1990 with a combination laser and magnetic cooling apparatus. Wieman pioneered the use of $200 diode lasers (the same type used in CD players) instead of the $150,000 lasers other groups were using. His approach was initially met with skepticism by his colleagues, but when he began to report real progress, several other groups joined the race to achieve the first BEC. Beginning with rubidium gas atoms at room temperature, the JILA team first slowed the rubidium and captured it in a trap created by laser light. This cooled the atoms to about 10 millionths of a degree above absolute zero—still far too hot to produce a BEC.

Once trapped, the lasers are turned off and the atoms are held in place by a magnetic field. The atoms are further cooled in the magnetic trap by selecting the hottest atoms and kicking them out of the trap. Then came the tricky part: trapping a sufficiently high density of atoms at temperatures that were cold enough to produce a BEC. To do this, Wieman and his colleagues had to devise a time-averaged orbiting potential trap (an improvement to the standard magnetic trap).

Jun 7, 2023

Physicists discover an exotic material made of bosons

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

Take a lattice—a flat section of a grid of uniform cells, like a window screen or a honeycomb—and lay another, similar lattice above it. But instead of trying to line up the edges or the cells of both lattices, give the top grid a twist so that you can see portions of the lower one through it. This new, third pattern is a moiré, and it’s between this type of overlapping arrangement of lattices of tungsten diselenide and tungsten disulfide where UC Santa Barbara physicists found some interesting material behaviors.

“We discovered a new state of matter—a bosonic correlated insulator,” said Richen Xiong, a graduate student researcher in the group of UCSB condensed matter physicist Chenhao Jin, and the lead author of a paper that appears in the journal Science.

According to Xiong, Jin and collaborators from UCSB, Arizona State University and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, this is the first time such a material—a highly ordered crystal of bosonic particles called excitons—has been created in a “real” (as opposed to synthetic) matter system.

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