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Mar 14, 2018

Researchers demonstrate existence of new form of electronic matter

Posted by in categories: computing, physics

Researchers have produced a “human scale” demonstration of a new phase of matter called quadrupole topological insulators that was recently predicted using theoretical physics. These are the first experimental findings to validate this theory.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Nature.

The team’s work with QTIs was born out of the decade-old understanding of the properties of a class of materials called topological insulators. “TIs are electrical insulators on the inside and conductors along their boundaries, and may hold great potential for helping build low-power, robust computers and devices, all defined at the atomic scale,” said mechanical science and engineering professor and senior investigator Gaurav Bahl.

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Mar 14, 2018

VR is still a novelty, but Google’s light-field technology could make it serious art

Posted by in categories: habitats, space travel, virtual reality

I recently got a private tour of a NASA space shuttle’s cockpit, a quirky mosaic-covered LA home, and a peaceful chapel with light streaming through ornate stained-glass windows—all without leaving my chair.

That chair was in an office at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, and I was wearing an HTC Vive virtual-reality headset on my face. But because these places were filmed with a high-resolution prototype camera that reproduces some of the key cues we use to understand depth in the real world, it felt more like actually being there than anything I’ve experienced with any other live-action VR. Which is to say it was pretty damn cool.

I could peer around the seats in the space shuttle Discovery, revealing buttons and switches on the walls of the cockpit that were previously obscured. As I looked closely at mirrored bits of tile on the outside of the mosaic house, I glimpsed reflections of other tiles in the background and saw a dizzying display of shapes and patterns. In the chapel, I gazed at the floor, and the colorful sunbeams moved as I did.

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Mar 14, 2018

Silicon Valley billionaire pays $10k to be killed and have his brain preserved

Posted by in categories: computing, life extension, neuroscience

A SILICON Valley billionaire is paying the ultimate price for the chance of immortality: death.

Well that, and a spare ten grand.

Entrepreneur Sam Altman is one of 25 people who have splashed the cash to join a waiting list at Nectome – a startup that promises to upload your brain into a computer to grant eternal life to your consciousness.

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Mar 14, 2018

Air Force awards big launch contracts to SpaceX and ULA

Posted by in category: satellites

WASHINGTON — The Air Force on Wednesday awarded two major launch contracts to SpaceX and United Launch Alliance.

Under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, SpaceX received a $290 million firm-fixed-price contract for three GPS 3 missions. ULA was awarded a $351 million firm-fixed-price deal for Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-8 and AFSPC-12 satellites launches.

The contracts include launch vehicle production, mission integration, launch operations and spaceflight certification. The missions will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

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Mar 14, 2018

DARPA Is Funding Time Crystal Research

Posted by in categories: government, military, particle physics, quantum physics

You probably scratched your head last year if you read about time crystals, likely 2017’s most esoteric, widely covered popular science story. Even if you understood how they worked, you might not have known what use they could have. Time crystals, systems of atoms that maintain a periodic ticking behavior in the presence of an added electromagnetic pulse, have now piqued the interest of one well-funded government agency: the Department of Defense.

The DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced a new program to fund research on these systems. More generally, the new DRINQS program will study exactly what its acronym stands for: “Driven and Nonequilibrium Quantum Systems.” But why?

“The applications could be for atomic clocks, where you have an ensemble of atoms you’re vibrating to extract time information,” Ale Lukaszew, program manager in DARPA’s defense sciences offices, told Gizmodo. “There might be applications related to measuring things with exquisite sensitivity in time and magnetic field domains. Not a lot of these applications are open for discussion.” In other words, time crystal-based military technology is classified.

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Mar 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking’s TV show is now free to watch online

Posted by in categories: alien life, robotics/AI

Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, a three-part TV series that made its debut in January, has been made available to watch online for free in honor of Hawking’s life, according to tech and science video streaming site CuriosityStream. The renowned astrophysicist passed away today in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

The final episode, which had still not been released, was also published today for free.

In the show, Hawking takes trips in a digital spaceship called the S.S. Hawking to the sun and planets in our solar system and beyond. In the first episode, Hawking ponders how AI can impact a civilization over time, not on Earth, but on an alien planet where its inhabitants appear to have left or gone extinct.

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Mar 14, 2018

A new test could tell us whether an AI has common sense

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

Virtual assistants and chatbots don’t have a lot of common sense. It’s because these types of machine learning rely on specific situations they have encountered before, rather than using broader knowledge to answer a question. However, researchers at the Allen Institute for AI (Ai2) have devised a new test, the Arc Reasoning Challenge (ARC) that can test an artificial intelligence on its understanding of the way our world operates.

Humans use common sense to fill in the gaps of any question they are posed, delivering answers within an understood but non-explicit context. Peter Clark, the lead researcher on ARC, explained in a statement, “Machines do not have this common sense, and thus only see what is explicitly written, and miss the many implications and assumptions that underlie a piece of text.”

The test asks basic multiple-choice questions that draw from general knowledge. For example, one ARC question is: “Which item below is not made from a material grown in nature?” The possible answers are a cotton shirt, a wooden chair, a plastic spoon and a grass basket.

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Mar 14, 2018

Scientists discover 15 new planets, including ‘super-Earth’ that could harbor liquid water

Posted by in categories: climatology, space

Scientists have discovered 15 new planets, including a “super-Earth” that may have liquid water on its surface.

The planets are orbiting small, cool stars near our solar system that are known as “Red Dwarfs.”

One of the brightest Red Dwarfs, K2-155, has three “super-Earths,” one of which, K2-155d, could be within the star’s habitable zone. K2-155d, which has a radius 1.6 times that of Earth, may harbor liquid water, according to three-dimensional global climate simulations.

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Mar 14, 2018

A Year in Space Changed 7% of This Astronaut’s DNA

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, space travel

Spending an extended period of time in outer space takes a toll on the human body. And while NASA was aware of some physical changes that astronauts needed to be prepared for upon coming back to Earth, they were curious to learn further about how extended space time would affect a human body on a molecular level. After one astronaut spent a year in space, NASA was able to determine that the prolonged spaceflight actually altered his DNA.

Astronaut Scott Kelly and his twin brother Mark Kelly took part in NASA’s twin study, a means to compare the human body on Earth to its counterpart following a year in space. While Scott spent a year in space, Mark stayed behind, and upon Scott’s return, NASA was able to track and monitor the ways that spaceflight had altered Scott’s body.

via GIPHY

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Mar 14, 2018

Hospitals use protons to fight cancer

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The difference between traditional radiation and proton therapy is in how the radiation is delivered.

Traditional therapy irradiates tumors with X-ray waves, and all tissue along the beams’ path gets a similar dose of radiation.

Proton therapy instead uses beams of protons, charged subatomic particles that can be controlled with magnets. A small amount of radiation is deposited on the way into the body, most of it goes directly into the tumor, and none passes through the other side.

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