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Aug 7, 2018

The History of Artificial Intelligence

Posted by in categories: business, robotics/AI

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Artificial intelligence has been a topic of growing prominence in the media and mainstream culture since 2015, as well as in the investment world, with start-ups that even mention the word in their business model, gaining massive amounts of funding.

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Aug 7, 2018

Engineers teach a drone to herd birds away from airports autonomously

Posted by in categories: drones, engineering, information science, robotics/AI

Engineers at Caltech have developed a new control algorithm that enables a single drone to herd an entire flock of birds away from the airspace of an airport. The algorithm is presented in a study in IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

The project was inspired by the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson,” when US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff and pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles were forced to land in the Hudson River off Manhattan.

“The passengers on Flight 1549 were only saved because the pilots were so skilled,” says Soon-Jo Chung, an associate professor of aerospace and Bren Scholar in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science as well as a JPL research scientist, and the principal investigator on the drone herding project. “It made me think that next time might not have such a happy ending. So I started looking into ways to protect from birds by leveraging my research areas in autonomy and robotics.”

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Aug 7, 2018

Jupiter’s moons create invisible ‘killer’ waves that could destroy spacecraft

Posted by in categories: particle physics, robotics/AI, space travel

Here on Earth, electromagnetic waves around the planet are typically pretty calm. When the Sun fires a burst of charged particles at the Earth we are treated to an aurora (often called Northern Lights), but rarely are they a cause for concern. If you were to head to Jupiter, however, things would change dramatically.

In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers describe the incredible electromagnetic field structure around two of Jupiter’s moons: Europa and Ganymede. The invisible magnetic fields around these bodies is being powered by Jupiter’s own magnetic field, and the result is an ultra-powerful particle accelerator of sorts, which might be capable of seriously damaging or even destroying a spacecraft.

“Chorus waves” are low-frequency electromagnetic waves that occur naturally around planets, including Earth. Near our planet they’re mostly harmless, but they do have the capability to produce extremely fast-moving “killer” particles that could cause damage to manmade technology if we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Aug 7, 2018

SpaceX Falcon 9 Lifts Off In Florida, Places Indonesian Satellite In Orbit

Posted by in category: satellites

The launch marks the first reuse of an improved Falcon 9 “Block 5,” which includes several upgrades designed to allow SpaceX to quickly refurbish and re-launch the rocket.

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Aug 7, 2018

Two slits and one hell of a quantum conundrum

Posted by in category: quantum physics

Philip Ball lauds a study of a famous experiment and the insights it offers into a thoroughly maddening theory.

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Aug 7, 2018

Physicists find surprising distortions in high-temperature superconductors

Posted by in categories: materials, physics

There’s a literal disturbance in the force that alters what physicists have long thought of as a characteristic of superconductivity, according to Rice University scientists.

Rice physicists Pengcheng Dai and Andriy Nevidomskyy and their colleagues used simulations and neutron scattering experiments that show the atomic structure of materials to reveal tiny distortions of the crystal lattice in a so-called iron pnictide compound of sodium, iron, nickel and arsenic.

These local distortions were observed among the otherwise symmetrical atomic order in the material at ultracold temperatures near the point of optimal . They indicate researchers may have some wiggle room as they work to increase the temperature at which iron pnictides become superconductors.

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Aug 7, 2018

Research reveals molecular details of sperm-egg fusion

Posted by in category: futurism

The fusion of a sperm cell with an egg cell is the very first step in the process that leads to new individuals in sexually reproducing species. Fundamental as this process may be, scientists are only now beginning to understand the complexities of how it works.

In a paper published in PLOS Biology, researchers have described the detailed of proteins that enable sperm-egg fusion in two different species: a flowering plant and a protozoan. The researchers hope that revealing the process in these species and their relatives might bring scientists a step closer to understanding it across sexual species, including humans and other vertebrates.

“It’s surprising to me that we still don’t know how a human sperm fuses with a human egg,” said Mark Johnson, an associate professor of biology at Brown University and a study co-author. “One of the things we hope this paper will do is establish a structural signature for the proteins that make gamete fusion work in these species so that we might be able to look for it in species where those protein mechanisms are still unknown.”

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Aug 7, 2018

Chinese Scientists Used CRISPR to Make a New Species With ‘One Giant Chromosome’

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

For the last 20 million years, the species of yeast used to brew beer has had 16 chromosomes. Now scientists have created a new species with just one.

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Aug 7, 2018

Farmers are drawing groundwater from the giant Ogallala Aquifer faster than nature replaces it

Posted by in categories: food, sustainability

This is not sustainable!

Every summer the U.S. Central Plains go dry, leading farmers to tap into groundwater to irrigate sorghum, soy, cotton, wheat and corn and maintain large herds of cattle and hogs. As the heat rises, anxious irrigators gather to discuss whether and how they should adopt more stringent conservation measures.

They know that if they do not conserve, the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of their prosperity, will go dry. The Ogallala, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is one of the largest underground freshwater sources in the world. It underlies an estimated 174,000 square miles of the Central Plains and holds as much water as Lake Huron. It irrigates portions of eight states, from Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska in the north to Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas in the south.

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Aug 7, 2018

Let slow-growth forests recover before logging once more

Posted by in category: futurism

Loggers need to control their appetite for slow-growing trees to spare the Amazon rainforest from deforestation.

A new study by Ph.D. student J. Aaron Hogan points to changes in tree composition in a long-term study site in French Guiana to sound the alarm.

“We’re approaching a threshold where we’re forced to make some difficult decisions,” Hogan said. “Do we feed into demand for these tropical hardwoods? Or do we stick to our guns and say you can’t log any more until this stand is regenerated.”

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