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Apr 8, 2019

Astronomers Have Detected Structures on The Sun That Lead to Weird ‘Plasma Rain’

Posted by in category: space

It’s one of the most enduring mysteries of the Sun: why the superheated surface of this great ball of glowing plasma is actually cooler than its outer atmosphere, called the corona.

Scientists now have a new explanation for this hotly debated topic, and the answer was hidden in a strange solar phenomenon that’s never been observed quite like this before: a deluge of plasma rain falling within newly discovered magnetic structures called Raining Null Point Topologies.

On Earth, when it gets hot, water evaporates, turning into steam that lifts into the atmosphere, before cooling effectively reverses the process: water molecules condense inside clouds, which later drop rainfall over the land, oceans, and rivers below.

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Apr 8, 2019

Deadly “Super Fungus” Could Be the Beginning of a Global Epidemic

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Bacteria’s ability to develop antibiotic resistance is well known — but it turns out fungi are also evolving to withstand modern medicine.

Now one such fungus is cropping up in hospitals all across the globe and killing half the people who contract it within 90 days, according to an alarming story by The New York Times — raising concerns about a new global epidemic.

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Apr 8, 2019

AI systems should be accountable, explainable, and unbiased, says EU

Posted by in categories: governance, information science, robotics/AI, sustainability

Human agency and oversight — AI should not trample on human autonomy. People should not be manipulated or coerced by AI systems, and humans should be able to intervene or oversee every decision that the software makes. — Technical robustness and safety — AI should be secure and accurate. It shouldn’t be easily compromised by external attacks (such as adversarial examples), and it should be reasonably reliable. — Privacy and data governance — Personal data collected by AI systems should be secure and private. It shouldn’t be accessible to just anyone, and it shouldn’t be easily stolen. — Transparency — Data and algorithms used to create an AI system should be accessible, and the decisions made by the software should be “understood and traced by human beings.” In other words, operators should be able to explain the decisions their AI systems make. — Diversity, non-discrimination, and fairness — Services provided by AI should be available to all, regardless of age, gender, race, or other characteristics. Similarly, systems should not be biased along these lines. — Environmental and societal well-being — AI systems should be sustainable (i.e., they should be ecologically responsible) and “enhance positive social change” — Accountability — AI systems should be auditable and covered by existing protections for corporate whistleblowers. Negative impacts of systems should be acknowledged and reported in advance.

AI technologies should be accountable, explainable, and unbiased, says EU.

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Apr 8, 2019

Dutchman ends ‘world’s longest electric car trip’ in Australia

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

A Dutchman completed an epic 95,000 kilometre (59,000 mile) journey by electric car in Sydney Sunday in a bid to prove the viability of such vehicles in tackling climate change.

Wiebe Wakker drove his retrofitted station wagon nicknamed “The Blue Bandit” across 33 countries in what he said was the world’s longest-ever by electric car.

The trip from the Netherlands to Australia took just over three years and was funded by public donations from around the world, including electricity to charge the Bandit, food and a place to sleep.

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Apr 8, 2019

Poisons flow in toxic levels through the veins of great white sharks, new study shows

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Great white sharks—one of the ocean’s most fearsome apex predators—thrive with toxic levels of poisons flowing in their veins, according to a new study by OCEARCH.

Researchers recently came to that conclusion after taking from 40 off South Africa, according to an April 3 report on

The samples revealed “alarmingly high levels of poisonous heavy metals, like arsenic and mercury, in sharks’ blood,” says the report.

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Apr 8, 2019

Digging ancient signals out of modern human genomes

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

With new genome analysis tools, scientists have made significant advances in our understanding of modern humans’ origins and ancient migrations.

But trying to find ancient DNA, let alone prove that the ancient DNA is ancestral to a population living today is extremely challenging.

A new study in Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE) adds to this understanding by reconstructing artificial genomes with the analyses of the of 565 contemporary South Asian individuals to extract ancient signals that recapitulate the long history of human migration and admixture in the region.

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Apr 8, 2019

Testing ion thrusters for space exploration

Posted by in category: space travel

Engineers are testing ion propulsion systems for the next generation of aircraft now, writes Paul Willis.

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Apr 8, 2019

This Neural Implant Accesses Your Brain Through the Jugular Vein

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, neuroscience, security

A permanent neural implant that reads brain activity and churns out text could prove to be a valuable medical tool, but it also could provide doctors with an unprecedented 24/7 stream of neural data.

Oxley recognizes that an endless feed of brain activity could be invaluable to medical researchers, but he doesn’t have plans to tap into that yet.

“[The Stentrode is] going to show us information that we hadn’t had before. Whether that helps us understand other things is not what we’re trying to do here,” he said, clarifying that Synchron’s primary goal is to get the new brain-computer interface working so that it can help paralyzed patients. “This is a novel data set, but this raises questions around privacy and security. That’s the patient’s data, and we can’t be mining that.”

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Apr 8, 2019

Time-reversal violation may explain abundance of matter over antimatter, physicist says

Posted by in category: particle physics

Why does the observable universe contain virtually no antimatter? Particles of antimatter have the same mass but opposite electrical charge of their matter counterparts. Very small amounts of antimatter can be created in the laboratory. However, hardly any antimatter is observed elsewhere in the universe.

Physicists believe that there were equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early history of the universe – so how did the antimatter vanish? A Michigan State University researcher is part of a team of researchers that examines these questions in an article recently published in Reviews of Modern Physics.

Jaideep Taggart Singh, MSU assistant professor of physics at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, studies atoms and molecules embedded in solids using lasers. Singh has a joint appointment in the MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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Apr 8, 2019

Spin lasers facilitate rapid data transfer

Posted by in categories: energy, internet

Engineers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have developed a novel concept for rapid data transfer via optical fibre cables. In current systems, a laser transmits through the cables and information is coded in the modulation of light intensity. The new system, a semiconductor spin laser, is based on a modulation of light polarisation instead. Published on 3 April 2019 in the journal Nature, the study demonstrates that spin lasers have the capacity of working at least five times as fast as the best traditional systems, while consuming only a fraction of energy. Unlike other spin-based semiconductor systems, the technology potentially works at room temperature and doesn’t require any external magnetic fields. The Bochum team at the Chair of Photonics and Terahertz Technology implemented the system in collaboration with colleagues from Ulm University and the University at Buffalo.

Rapid data transfer is currently an energy guzzler

Due to physical limitations, data transfer that is based on a modulation of light intensity without utilizing complex modulation formats can only reach frequencies of around 40 to 50 gigahertz. In order to achieve this speed, high electrical currents are necessary. “It’s a bit like a Porsche where fuel consumption dramatically increases if the car is driven fast,” compares Professor Martin Hofmann, one of the engineers from Bochum. “Unless we upgrade the technology soon, data transfer and the Internet are going to consume more energy than we are currently producing on Earth.” Together with Dr. Nils Gerhardt and Ph.D. student Markus Lindemann, Martin Hofmann is therefore researching into alternative technologies.

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