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Feb 9, 2023

A testbed to assess the physical reasoning skills of AI agents

Posted by in categories: information science, robotics/AI

Humans are innately able to reason about the behaviors of different physical objects in their surroundings. These physical reasoning skills are incredibly valuable for solving everyday problems, as they can help us to choose more effective actions to achieve specific goals.

Some computer scientists have been trying to replicate these reasoning abilities in (AI) , to improve their performance on . So far, however, a reliable approach to train and assess the physical reasoning capabilities of AI algorithms has been lacking.

Cheng Xue, Vimukthini Pinto, Chathura Gamage, and colleagues, a team of researchers at the Australian National University, recently introduced Phy-Q, a new designed to fill this gap in the literature. Their testbed, introduced in a paper in Nature Machine Intelligence, includes a series of scenarios that specifically assess an AI agent’s physical reasoning capabilities.

Feb 9, 2023

Tracking ocean microplastics from space

Posted by in categories: climatology, satellites

New information about an emerging technique that could track microplastics from space has been uncovered by researchers at the University of Michigan. It turns out that satellites are best at spotting soapy or oily residue, and microplastics appear to tag along with that residue.

Microplastics—tiny flecks that can ride ocean currents hundreds or thousands of miles from their point of entry—can harm sea life and , and they’re extremely difficult to track and clean up. However, a 2021 discovery raised the hope that satellites could offer day-by-day timelines of where microplastics enter the water, how they move and where they tend to collect, for prevention and clean-up efforts.

Continue reading “Tracking ocean microplastics from space” »

Feb 9, 2023

New discovery dramatically reduces time it takes to build molecules

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, robotics/AI

With a big assist from artificial intelligence and a heavy dose of human touch, Tim Cernak’s lab at the University of Michigan has made a discovery that dramatically speeds up the time-consuming chemical process of building molecules that will be tomorrow’s medicines, agrichemicals or materials.

The discovery, published in the Feb. 3 issue of Science, is the culmination of years of chemical synthesis and data science research by the Cernak Lab in the College of Pharmacy and Department of Chemistry.

The goal of the research was to identify key reactions in the synthesis of a molecule, ultimately reducing the process to as few steps as possible. In the end, Cernak and his team achieved the synthesis of a complex alkaloid found in nature in just three steps. Previous syntheses had taken between seven and 26 steps.

Feb 9, 2023

If wormholes exist, they might magnify light by 100,000 times

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

A small team of astrophysicists affiliated with several institutions in China has found evidence that suggests if wormholes are real, they might magnify light by 100,000 times. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes the theories they have developed and possible uses for them.

Prior theoretical efforts have suggested that might exist in the , described as tunnels of a sort, connecting different parts of the universe. Some in the physics community have suggested that it may be possible to traverse such tunnels, allowing for faster-than-light travel across the universe. The researchers note that prior research has shown that black holes have such a strong gravitational pull that they are able to bend light, a phenomenon known as microlensing. They then wondered if wormholes, if they exist, also exhibit microlensing.

Proving that wormholes cause microlensing would, of course, involve first proving that wormholes exist. Still, the researchers suggest that and other theories could clarify whether the idea is even possible. In their work, they discovered that it was possible to calculate how an associated with a wormhole would warp the light passing by it. They also found theoretical evidence that wormhole would be similar to black hole lensing, which, they note, would make it difficult to tell the two apart.

Feb 9, 2023

Tiny NASA moon probe can’t reach lunar orbit as planned

Posted by in category: space

After launching with SpaceX in December, Lunar Flashlight ran into trouble in deep space. Now the mission is eyeing a high-Earth orbit that will allow moon flybys.

Feb 9, 2023

Turkey Halts Trading in Stock Market After $35 Billion Wipeout

Posted by in category: finance

Turkey’s stock exchange suspended trading for five days and canceled all trades executed on Wednesday, following a selloff that erased billions of dollars from the value of its main equities gauge after two devastating earthquakes.

Feb 9, 2023

‘Astonishing’ New Cognitive Research Shows Gaining Knowledge, Learning New Skills, and Achieving Mastery Comes Down to the Rule of 7

Posted by in category: neuroscience

While talent matters, the good news is we all learn at basically the same rate—and can “learn anything we want.”

Feb 9, 2023


Posted by in categories: media & arts, space

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Continue reading “Can we REALLY build on Mars? [SPACE ARCHITECTURE]” »

Feb 9, 2023

Is space continuous or discrete?

Posted by in categories: physics, space

We’re used to thinking of space as continuous.

A stone can be anywhere in space. It can be here. Or it can be an inch to the left. Or it can be half an inch further to the left. Or it can be an infinitesimal fraction of an inch even further to the left. Space is infinitely divisible.

Continue reading “Is space continuous or discrete?” »

Feb 9, 2023

We May Have Had an Interstellar Visitor for Eons and Scientists Are Stumped

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

“I think it’s going to be inconclusive, if not impossible to demonstrate conclusively,” one physicist said of the possible interstellar comet.

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