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Apr 21, 2018

Amazon’s Running a Big Sale On 23andMe’s New and Improved DNA Testing Kits

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

If you aren’t freaked out by privacy concerns of DNA testing kits (basically, they may sell anonymized genetic data, but not personally identifiable data), the tests are getting better, and 23andMe’s are on sale today.

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Apr 21, 2018

Radar Mapping of Mercury: Full-Disk Images and Polar Anomalies

Posted by in categories: mapping, space

A random-code technique has been used at Arecibo to obtain delay-Doppler radar images of the full disk of Mercury. Anomalously bright features were found at the north and south poles. The north polar feature is oblong (4° by 8°) and offset from the pole. The smaller south polar feature is mostly confined to the floor of the crater Chao Meng-Fu. The polar locations and radar properties of these features indicate that they may be produced by volume scattering in ice. The images also reveal a variety of more subdued reflectivity features ranging in size from hundreds to thousands of kilometers; some of these appear to have an impact origin.

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Apr 21, 2018

Neurosurgeon Eric Leuthardt: ‘An interface between mind and machine will happen’

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

I guess any procedure involving the brain feels like a different category of risk to most people. You must face that anxiety every day. I think there are two types of surgical practice that really strike at the core of people’s anxiety. One is brain surgery, where you are operating on something that people see as themselves, their sense of identity, their mind. The other one is, I think, paediatric surgery, where the operation is on the thing most precious to you – your children. I think both create a dynamic where you need to work harder to create trust with your patients.

When it comes to innovation that might link a person’s mind directly with a machine, it seems as much an ethical as a medical question. Is that how you see it? Ethicists are critical in what we do. A working interface would be a real turning point in human evolution. I don’t say that with bombast or hyperbole. And just like with artificial intelligence, we need to take the greatest care in how we think about it. Whether it happens in five years or 50 years, it will happen. I wrote these two science-fiction novels to try to walk people through some of the things that could happen; for example, if others got unauthorised access to these implants, or when corporations got involved. We need to be thinking about these things now, rather than after the fact.

Was one of the motivations in writing your books to work out these things for yourself? Did you feel the same at the beginning of the process as at the end? I had certain ideas in mind when I started the books, but there was an evolution. I came to think less about that individual interface and more about the effect this technology might have on society. We need to think hard about how advances [might] not increase social division.

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Apr 21, 2018

‘Interplanetary Shock Wave’ Spawns Electric-Blue Auroras

Posted by in categories: particle physics, space

A moderate geomagnetic storm kicked up in Earth’s skies Friday morning (April 20), bringing green and rare electric-blue auroras that stretched as far south as Indiana.

The space-weather news site reported that an “interplanetary shock wave” hit Earth’s magnetic field at about 3:50 a.m. EDT (2350 on April 19 GMT), quadrupling the intensity of the flow of particles streaming from the sun toward Earth, called the solar wind. The incoming wave of material resulted in a G2-level, or moderate, geomagnetic storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). These types of storms can cause power grid fluctuations and have some impact on radio communications. [See Spectacular Photos of Auroras from Space]

And they also cause enhanced auroras. This storm led to auroras possibly reaching through Canada and as far south as New York, Wisconsin and Washington state in the U.S., the SWPC said.

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Apr 21, 2018

Collision between galaxies (artist’s impression)

Posted by in category: space

The new results obtained with GIRAFFE on the VLT seem to show that collisions and merging are important in the formation and evolution of galaxies. Here, such a collision is shown in this artist’s impression.

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Apr 21, 2018

Your next pilot could be drone software

Posted by in categories: drones, robotics/AI

Artificial intelligence

Your next pilot could be drone software

Airplanes could be safer with technology at the helm. A key sticking point is human opinion.

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Apr 21, 2018

See The First-Ever 3D Virtual Reality Film Shot In Space, Courtesy Of National Geographic [Video]

Posted by in categories: entertainment, space, virtual reality

Tour the ISS to catch up with the astronauts and hear their testimonials about what it feels like to watch Earth from space every day.

The National Geographic Channel has one major treat coming up for its viewers, reports

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Apr 21, 2018

360° view of La Silla Observatory

Posted by in category: futurism

This full 360° view of La Silla Observatory showcases the mountaintop telescopes in all their glory. The telescopes are silhouetted against a starry background, with the Milky Way visible close to the horizon, the column and band of the zodiacal light across the sky, and the Magellanic Clouds rising higher in the sky.

La Silla was built in 1969 as ESO’s very first observatory, at which point it became the largest astronomical observatory of its time, leading Europe to the frontline of astronomical research. Since then, it has led to an enormous number of scientific discoveries, including several “firsts”.

This deep sky view was achieved using the Vixen Polarie mount.

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Apr 21, 2018

The Geological Record, A Possible Solution For Fermi’s Paradox And The Future Of Humankind

Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks

Speculating about the geological record of a technologically advanced civilization may help in the search for alien societies and poses an important question about our own future on earth.

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Apr 21, 2018

Researchers illuminate the path to a new era of microelectronics

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, nanotechnology

A new microchip technology capable of optically transferring data could solve a severe bottleneck in current devices by speeding data transfer and reducing energy consumption by orders of magnitude, according to an article published in the April 19, 2018 issue of Nature.

Researchers from Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkeley and University of Colorado Boulder have developed a method to fabricate silicon chips that can communicate with light and are no more expensive than current technology. The result is the culmination of a several-year-long project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency that was a close collaboration between teams led by Associate Professor Vladimir Stojanovic of UC Berkeley, Professor Rajeev Ram of MIT, and Assistant Professor Milos Popovic from Boston University and previously CU Boulder. They collaborated with a semiconductor research team at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the State University of New York at Albany.

The electrical signaling bottleneck between current microelectronic chips has left light communication as one of the only options left for further technological progress. The traditional method of data transfer-electrical wires-has a limit on how fast and how far it can transfer data. It also uses a lot of power and generates heat. With the relentless demand for higher performance and lower power in electronics, these limits have been reached. But with this new development, that bottleneck can be solved.

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