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Jan 5, 2019

Getting serious about plant intelligence

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Plant cognitive ecologist Monica Gagliano talks about the challenges facing serious scientific research into plant intelligence.

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Jan 5, 2019

Military-industrial complex finds a growth market in hypersonic weaponry

Posted by in categories: business, military

Analysts say there are just four companies with sufficient resources and know-how to produce hypersonic weapons: Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Defense Department officials say they want to start fielding advanced hypersonic weapons systems “in the thousands.” Defense contractors see a business opportunity.

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Jan 4, 2019

Becoming the First Transhuman: A Call For The Right Stuff

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, genetics, life extension, neuroscience, space, transhumanism

Many scientists research the practical and immediate applications of bio molecular technology but it seems most fail to study our most important, and largest organ, our skin.

Who will officially be the first transhuman? Will it be you? Why wait decades? This article explains one approach to speeding up the process and also the challenge involved.

Defining the Object of the Goal:

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Jan 4, 2019

MIT Envisions ‘Guide Star’ Satellites to Stabilize Giant Telescopes

Posted by in categories: innovation, satellites

Missions like the Kepler Space Telescope and the newer Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have revealed thousands of exoplanets out there among the stars, but we know surprisingly little about them. To get up close and personal, we’re going to need extremely precise space telescopes. MIT scientists have proposed an innovative way to make sure those instruments remain calibrated and capable of peering at distant exoplanets. They suggest designers incorporate a smaller secondary satellite that can act as a “guide star” for the telescope.

Space researchers are anxious to get new super-sized telescopes in space because the equipment we have right now is only adept at finding planets and relaying basic information. Most exoplanets in the database were discovered via the transit method, which watches for dips in brightness as planets pass in front of their home stars. From this, we can often discern a planet’s size, orbit, and approximate temperature. To get detailed data about its atmosphere and composition, we need telescopes like the upcoming (and chronically delayed) James Webb Space Telescope.

Webb will offer much greater imaging prowess than Hubble because its primary mirror is larger, composed of 18 hexagonal segments with a total diameter of 6.5 meters. In the coming decades, space telescopes could reach 15 meters with as many as 100 mirror segments. Such telescopes would have a coronagraph, an instrument capable of separating the intense light of a star from the faint light of an exoplanet. If this measurement isn’t perfect, the telescope would be unable to resolve the details on a planet.

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Jan 4, 2019

With my seismometer safely at rest on #Mars, I was able to release my hold on it

Posted by in category: space

With my seismometer safely at rest on #Mars, I was able to release my hold on it. There’s still some more instrument prep to do, but it’s looking good.

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Jan 4, 2019

Clever AI Hid Data From Its Creators to Cheat at Tasks They Gave It

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, satellites

Recent research from Stanford and Google has made the worst nightmare of some concerned with artificial intelligence (AI) all the more real. A machine learning agent was caught cheating by hiding information in “a nearly imperceptible, high-frequency signal.”

Clever, but also creepy.

The agent was instructed to turn aerial images into street maps and back again as part of research to improve Google’s process of turning satellite images into the widely used and relied upon Google Maps. The process involves CycleGAN, “a neural network that learns to transform images of type X and Y into one another, as efficiently yet accurately as possible.” Though the agent was performing this task quite well, it quickly became apparent that it was performing the task too well.

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Jan 4, 2019

How 20th-century synthetics altered the very fabric of us all

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Science has rightly focused on present-day concerns, trying to learn what fluorocarbon exposures mean to communities that have borne the highest exposures for the longest time. But scientists have also turned to the next generation, looking at the implications for children who are exposed in utero and again while nursing, both critical windows of development where human bodies can be uniquely vulnerable to the effects of chemical interference. Scientists know that children’s bodies bear higher PFAS levels than adults, and have since learned that PFAS exposures can interfere with whether childhood vaccines take. In young men, higher levels of exposures are associated with shortened penis length and reduced sperm counts, suggesting that PFASs might play a role in the growing global epidemic of male infertility. Research is now looking into even more fundamental questions about how PFASs participate in a host of biological processes, including liver and thyroid function, metabolism, and in reproductive and developmental outcomes.

Time-bombing the future.

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Jan 4, 2019

Cyberconflict: Why the Worst Is Yet to Come | NYT News

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, military

Cyberconflicts are, right now, at this very moment, like the first military aeroplanes of 1909. Within decades, planes destroyed entire cities. So when we talk about cyber weapons, we’re still basically in 1909.

Despite the devastation cyberweapons have caused around the world over the last decade, they are still in their infancy. David E. Sanger, a New York Times national security correspondent, explains why the threat is growing.

Continue reading “Cyberconflict: Why the Worst Is Yet to Come | NYT News” »

Jan 4, 2019

Bottom-up biology

Posted by in category: biological

Researchers are tearing up the biology rule books by trying to construct cells from scratch. A special issue explores the lessons being learnt about life. Researchers are tearing up the biology rule books by trying to construct cells from scratch. A special issue explores the lessons being learnt about life.

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Jan 4, 2019

There Are Plants and Animals on the Moon Now (Because of China)

Posted by in categories: food, space

China’s Chang’e-4 lander contains a living experiment that could lay the groundwork for agriculture at its future lunar base.

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