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Jan 14, 2022

Lightyears 101: Are We Watching the Stars In Real Time?

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

In our solar system, Saturn is the farthest planet from Earth that can be seen with the naked eye. And if it is destroyed by an asteroid while you are watching it (with or without a telescope), the ringed planet would still be visible to you for around 80 minutes, on average, even after it’s in bits and pieces. This happens because the average distance between Saturn and Earth is 0.00015 light-years, which means that the light from Saturn takes approximately 80 minutes to rea… See more.


A lightyear is a unit that denotes the distance of objects from Earth in space. But how did it come to be and how does it help us in space travels?

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Jan 11, 2022

The Robots Are Not Coming

Posted by in categories: economics, existential risks, robotics/AI

In 1987, at the beginning of the IT-driven technological revolution, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist Robert famously quipped that “you can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

More than 30 years later, another technological revolution seems imminent. In what is called “the Fourth Industrial revolution,” attention is devoted to automation and robots. Many have argued that robots may significantly transform corporations, leading to massive worker displacement and a significant increase in firms’ capital intensity. Yet, despite these omnipresent predictions, it is hard to find robots not only in aggregate productivity statistics but also anywhere else.

While investment in robots has increased significantly in recent years, it remains a small share of total investment. The use of robots is almost zero in industries other than manufacturing, and even within manufacturing, robotization is very low for all but a few poster-child industries, such as automotive. For example, in the manufacturing sector, robots account for around 2.1% of total capital expenditures. For the economy as a whole, robots account for about 0.3% of total investment in equipment. Moreover, recent increases in sales of robotics are driven mostly by China and other developing nations as they play catch up in manufacturing, rather than by increasing robotization in developed countries. These low levels of robotization cast doubt on doomsday projections in which robots will cut demand for human employees.

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Jan 7, 2022

Hypersonic missiles: The new arms race?

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military

North Korea has said it’s successfully launched another hypersonic missile. But what are hypersonic missiles, and should we be worried?

Project Force presenter @AlexGatopoulos breaks it down.

Jan 6, 2022

Japan set to develop railguns to counter hypersonic missiles

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military

Defense Ministry expects to have a bolstered intercept system by late 2020s.


TOKYO — The Japanese Defense Ministry will develop a means to intercept hostile missiles using magnetically powered projectiles, sources told Nikkei Asia, as the nation scurries to respond to the hypersonic weapons being developed by China, North Korea and Russia.

Jan 5, 2022

Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics, military, nuclear weapons, treaties

The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.

We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.

We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments. We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

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Jan 5, 2022

A Giant Asteroid Bigger Than The Empire State Building Is About to Zip Past Earth

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

A large, rocky asteroid is going to fly by Earth next week.

At 1 kilometer (3,280 feet) long, it’s roughly two and a half times the height of the Empire State Building, and it’s been classed a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid” due to its size and its regular close visits to our planet.

But don’t worry, this month’s visit is going to have a very safe clearance, with the asteroid zipping by at a distance of 1.93 million kilometers (~1.2 million miles) away from Earth – that’s roughly 5.15 times more distant than the Moon.

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Jan 4, 2022

China, US, UK, France and Russia pledge to avoid nuclear war

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military, nuclear energy

😀


Five of the world’s largest nuclear powers pledged on Monday to work together toward “a world without nuclear weapons” in a rare statement of unity amid rising East-West tensions.

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” said the joint statement, which was issued simultaneously by the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France. “As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.”

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Jan 4, 2022

Snails Wearing World’s Tiniest Computer Solve Extinction Mystery

Posted by in categories: computing, existential risks

😃


Using the world’s smallest computer, University of Michigan (UM) researchers were able to figure out why one species of snail was able to survive a situation that pushed more than 50 others into extinction.

“We were able to get data that nobody had been able to obtain,” researcher David Blaauw said in a press release. “And that’s because we had a tiny computing system that was small enough to stick on a snail.”

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Jan 3, 2022

NASA raises warning of 5 asteroids heading towards Earth in January, 2022

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

An asteroid as large as Big Ben will be approaching Earth in January, 2022. However, it is not the only asteroid heading towards Earth.


The year 2022 has just started and here we are with dire NASA warnings of potentially hazardous asteroids heading for Earth. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has reported that as many as five asteroids are coming towards the Earth in the first month of the year. An asteroid around the size if a bus will approach the Earth in the first week of January itself.

Asteroids, comets, and meteoroids are large rocks in space that orbit the Sun and occasionally vary their orbits due to the gravitational attraction of planets. When these space rocks do collide with any planet, it’s usually a disaster. That’s why, even when an asteroid with a diameter of more than 150 metres approaches Earth, NASA classifies it as a potentially hazardous asteroid and monitors it closely.

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Dec 31, 2021

Scientists Are Working to Bring Back Dinosaur-Like Traits with Chicken

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, existential risks

We thought that all the dinosaurs went extinct when an asteroid hit the earth some 65 million years ago until recently. Now we know that some of the dinosaur species, mostly avians, survived and become birds. Scientists are trying to tweak chicken DNA to produce atavistic, dinosaur-like, traits that are embedded in the genes of birds for years.

A research team led by Yale paleontologist and developmental biologist Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar and Harvard developmental biologist Arhat Abzhanov conducted the first successful reversion of a bird’s skull features back in 2015. The team replicated ancestral molecular development to transform chicken embryos in a laboratory to turn its beak into a snout and palate configuration similar to that of small dinosaurs such as Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx.

“I wanted to know what the beak was skeletally, functionally and when this major transformation occurred from a normal vertebrate snout to the very unique structures used in birds,” Bhullar said.

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