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Dec 3, 2018

What If Time Is an Illusion?

Posted by in category: futurism

What if the past, present and future all exist at once?

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Dec 3, 2018

FAI Considers Lowering Boundary of Space

Posted by in category: space travel

Well, there’s some great news for Virgin Galactic as it prepares for an attempt to send SpaceShipTwo to space. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which maintains records for aviation and spaceflight, is considering lowering the boundary of space from 100 to 80 km (62.1 to 47.7 miles).

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo probably can’t reach the 100 km boundary, which is also known as the Karman line.

FAI issued the following statement last week:

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Dec 3, 2018

Henri Becquerel and the Serendipitous Discovery of Radioactivity

Posted by in categories: education, engineering, particle physics, transportation

Antoine Henri Becquerel (born December 15, 1852 in Paris, France), known as Henri Becquerel, was a French physicist who discovered radioactivity, a process in which an atomic nucleus emits particles because it is unstable. He won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with Pierre and Marie Curie, the latter of whom was Becquerel’s graduate student. The SI unit for radioactivity called the becquerel (or Bq), which measures the amount of ionizing radiation that is released when an atom experiences radioactive decay, is also named after Becquerel.

Becquerel was born December 15, 1852 in Paris, France, to Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel and Aurelie Quenard. At an early age, Becquerel attended the preparatory school Lycée Louis-le-Grand, located in Paris. In 1872, Becquerel began attending the École Polytechnique and in 1874 the École des Ponts et Chaussées (Bridges and Highways School), where he studied civil engineering.

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Dec 3, 2018

CRISPR has many promising applications—but the gene-edited twins represent something more troubling

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Last week Chinese researchers rocked the world with reports that twin babies whose genes the scientists’ edited prior to birth had been born, the product of secret experiments that are being widely decried as unethical. Even as that story plays out, it is true that CRISPR gene editing is already being used in humans, in ways that illustrate just how unethical this recent use was.

“Patients’ parents have been emailing me a lot,” says Hye Young Lee, a researcher at the University of Texas San Antonio whose work looks at alternative delivery methods for CRISPR. Lee says she normally gets a few emails a month from the parents of the patients she works with, but that the number of emails went up recently—in relation, she suspects, to the news of the CRISPR babies, which is creating the illusion that CRISPR and other gene editing techniques are ready for extensive use in humans.

The scientific community’s current consensus is that they’re far from being at that stage—and it’s impossible to know now when or if they will be. But gene editing is being used in adult humans, to early trials to treat genetic diseases. In terms of gene editing for adults, “I know that there are things going on,” Lee says, but it’s nothing like this week’s news. Although her own work is at least a few years away from being ready for human testing, there are some cautiously progressing trials at drug companies using CRISPR in adult humans who have diseases that are the result on mutations in a single gene.

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Dec 3, 2018

Research explores the ethical implications of creating sentient and self-aware sexbots

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, sex

So far, robots have primarily been developed to fulfill utilitarian purposes, assisting humans or serving as tools to facilitate the completion of particular tasks. As robots become more human-like, however, this could pose significant challenges, particularly for robots built to engage with humans socially.

Humans have used sex dolls as inanimate objects for sexual pleasure throughout history. Animated sex robots, social robots created to meet humans’ needs for sex and affection, offer more. Due to recent developments in robotics and AI, sex robots are now becoming more advanced and human-like. Purchasers can have them customised both in appearance and in how they speak and behave to simulate intimacy, warmth and emotion.

Currently, sex robots are inanimate things, able to simulate but not engage in mutual intimacies. In the future, however, technological advances might allow researchers to manufacture sentient, self-aware sex robots with feelings, or sexbots. The implications of the availability of sexbots as customisable perfect partners for with humans are potentially vast.

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Dec 3, 2018

The Neurons That Tell Time

Posted by in category: neuroscience

The discovery of brain structures that apparently mark time has raised a larger question: What is time, anyway?

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Dec 3, 2018

Thousands of Unstudied Plants May Be at Risk of Extinction

Posted by in categories: existential risks, robotics/AI

Plants often get short shrift in conservation circles, but machine learning could help botanists save tens of thousands of species.

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Dec 3, 2018

Asteroid Sample-Return Mission Arrives to Collect Primordial Rocks of the Solar System

Posted by in category: space travel

As the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrives at its target asteroid Bennu, scientists on the ground prepare for a new bounty of planetary samples.

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Dec 3, 2018

Nvidia has created the first video game demo using AI-generated graphics

Posted by in categories: entertainment, robotics/AI

A first for video games.

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Dec 3, 2018

Scientists Just Made a Major Discovery

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

This discovery could help us answer some of the largest conundrums in physics today. Scientists know that matter and antimatter were created in about equal proportions after the Big Bang, as the universe cooled and expanded, but they can’t explain the asymmetry of matter and antimatter, or why antimatter, which annihilates anything it comes into contact with, didn’t just wipe out all matter.

“[W]e have yet to answer a central question of why didn’t matter and antimatter, which it is believed were created in equal amounts when the Big Bang started the Universe, mutually self-annihilate?” co-author Professor Mike Charlton said to Sci-News. “We also have yet to address why there is any matter left in the Universe at all. This conundrum is one of the central open questions in fundamental science, and one way to search for the answer is to bring the power of precision atomic physics to bear upon antimatter.”

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