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Feb 28, 2024

Conflicting theories of consciousness may fit together after all

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Professor Emeritus Johan Frederik Storm has led research forming the basis of a article that aims to uncover an alternative approach to the understanding of how human consciousness functions. It is currently available on the PsyArXiv preprint server and in prepress in the journal Neuron.

“We suggest how different theories that appear to be conflicting can perhaps be combined after all and complement each other within the framework of a more comprehensive theory of ,” explains Storm.

There are many differing schools of thought about consciousness in the field of brain research and Storm puts forward the factors that have probably led to a lot of apparent disagreement.

Feb 28, 2024

SpaceX Improves Falcon 9 Performance and Flies a Record 24 Starlink v2 Mini Satellites

Posted by in categories: internet, satellites

It turns out an old dog can learn new tricks. After over 300 flights and 13 years in service, Falcon 9 continues to improve as SpaceX tweaks the design for higher performance.

SpaceX hit a new record on Sunday, flying 24 Starlink v.2 minis aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, surpassing its previous high water mark of 23 satellites. “This mission is carrying one additional Starlink satellite from previous east coast missions thanks in part to performance increases on Falcon 9,” SpaceX wrote on X.

The company did not detail how it was able to squeeze more performance out of Falcon 9. The Starlink v.2 mini debuted at the start of last year, boasting around 4x more capacity than its predecessors. The company has previously been launching 21–23 Starlink satellites per flight.

Feb 28, 2024

Central Texas aerospace company expands to prepare for new space age

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space travel

BRIGGS, Texas (KXAN) — More rockets will soon be built in the Austin area. Firefly Aerospace, an end-to-end space transportation company, think space truckers, is unveiling its newest Rocket Ranch facility Wednesday.

The expanded facility will allow the company to produce and assemble new rockets, as well as test engines with 230,000 pounds of thrust. A new 100-foot test stand is part of the facility.

In addition, the facility will give the company access to a new automated fiber placement machine, allowing them to build rocket components at a faster pace as well as a new robotic powermill. This device will allow the company to rotate rockets with an 18-foot diameter.

Feb 28, 2024

Double trouble at chromosome ends: New study alters our understanding of telomere biology

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

Half a century ago, scientists Jim Watson and Alexey Olovnikov independently realized that there was a problem with how our DNA gets copied. A quirk of linear DNA replication dictated that telomeres that protect the ends of chromosomes should have been growing shorter with each round of replication, a phenomenon known as the end-replication problem.

But a solution was forthcoming: Liz Blackburn and Carol Greider discovered telomerase, an enzyme that adds the telomeric repeats to the ends of chromosomes. “Case closed, everybody thought,” says Rockefeller’s Titia de Lange.

Now, research published in Nature suggests that there are two end-replication problems, not one. Further, telomerase is only part of the solution—cells also use the CST–Polα-primase complex, which has been extensively studied in de Lange’s laboratory.

Feb 28, 2024

Amazon to spend $1 billion on startups that combine AI with robots

Posted by in categories: employment, robotics/AI, transportation

The industrial innovation fund is seeking to invest in start-ups that can support the ecommerce group’s aims of becoming “more efficient, safer for our associates, and increase the speed of delivery to our customers.” Bossart said.

She said the Amazon fund would expand its focus this year, including by seeking to invest in companies involved in the “last mile” of deliveries, when packages arrive with customers, as well as geographically and in later-stage companies. However, Bossart would not be drawn on how much the fund has deployed so far, declining to comment on a report it has invested $110 million as of June.

The focus on the automation of warehouses and logistics was not about cutting people out of them altogether, but would result in a “shift in jobs” as more robots and automated vehicles took on repetitive or dangerous tasks, she said. “We’re also a long way off from replacing all humans,” she added.

Feb 28, 2024

Swiss Researchers Develop Revolutionary Quadruped Robot for Advanced Manipulation Tasks

Posted by in categories: policy, robotics/AI, space

In a groundbreaking study published on the arXiv server, a team of Swiss researchers introduces Pedipulate, an innovative controller enabling quadruped robots to perform complex manipulation tasks using their legs. This development marks a significant leap forward in robotics, showcasing the potential for legged robots in maintenance, home support, and exploration activities beyond traditional inspection roles.

The study, titled “Pedipulate: Quadruped Robot Manipulation Using Legs,” challenges the conventional design of legged robots that often rely on additional robotic arms for manipulation, leading to increased power consumption and mechanical complexity. By observing quadrupedal animals, the researchers hypothesized that employing the robot’s legs for locomotion and manipulation could significantly simplify and reduce the cost of robotic systems, particularly in applications where size and efficiency are crucial, such as in space exploration.

Pedipulate is trained through deep reinforcement learning, employing a neural network policy that tracks foot position targets. This policy minimizes the distance between the robot’s foot and the target point while penalizing undesirable movements such as jerky motions or collisions. The controller was tested on the ANYmal D robot, which features 12 torque-controlled joints and force-torque sensors on each foot, proving the feasibility of leg-based manipulation in real-world scenarios.

Feb 28, 2024

Tesla next-gen Roadster will be a collaboration with SpaceX: Elon Musk

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, space travel, sustainability

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently shared a number of notable updates for the next-generation Roadster. Apart from stating that Tesla is aiming to unveil the upcoming all-electric supercar later this year, Musk also provided some interesting tidbits about the vehicle. Among these is the fact that the new Roadster would be the product of Musk’s two largest companies — Tesla and SpaceX.

The new Roadster has been pushed far back in the company’s list of projects for years. Initially unveiled in late 2017 during the Tesla Semi’s unveiling, the Roadster was announced with a target availability date of 2020. The year came and went, of course, and the next-generation Roadster has mostly been forgotten, especially with Tesla getting busy with the Cybertruck.

But with the Cybertruck now being produced and the company now working on its next-generation platform, it would appear that Tesla is finally ready to work on releasing the new Roadster. Over the years, Musk’s comments about the vehicle have become wilder, with the CEO noting that the supercar should be able to fly for short “hops” due to a dedicated SpaceX package that would incorporate rocket tech in the car.

Feb 28, 2024

Scientists closer to finding quantum gravity theory after measuring gravity on microscopic level

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

Scientists are a step closer to unraveling the mysterious forces of the universe after working out how to measure gravity on a microscopic level.

Experts have never fully understood how the force that was discovered by Isaac Newton works in the tiny quantum world. Even Einstein was baffled by quantum gravity and, in his , said there is no realistic experiment that could show a quantum version of gravity.

But now physicists at the University of Southampton, working with scientists in Europe, have successfully detected a weak gravitational pull on a tiny particle using a new technique.

Feb 28, 2024

Researchers produce 3D model of the ribosome and visualize how it is made

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Human cells contain ribosomes, a complex machine that produces proteins for the rest of the body. Now the researchers have come closer to understanding how the ribosome works.

“It is amazing that we can visualize the atomic details of the ribosome. Because they are tiny—around 20–30 nanometers,” says Associate Professor Eva Kummer from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, who is responsible for the new study published in Nature Communications.

The ribosome is a part of the human cell consisting of ribosomal RNA and ribosomal proteins. It is like a factory that builds proteins by following a set of instructions inherent in the genes.

Feb 28, 2024

The quantum world: Dreams and delusions | Roger Penrose, Sabine Hossenfelder, Michio Kaku, and more!

Posted by in categories: computing, genetics, quantum physics

Watch some of the biggest names in physics debate the mysteries of the quantum and its future, including Roger Penrose, Sabine Hossenfelder, Avshalom Elitzur, Michio Kaku, Suchitra Sebastian, Priya Natarajan, Joscha Bach, Erik Verlinde, Hilary Lawson and Bjørn Ekeberg.

From string theory to quantum gravity and quantum computers, the quantum discourse is all the buzz in physics and beyond. But what is possible and what mere fantasy? Can we bring together relativity and quantum mechanics? Will we ever find a unified theory to explain our universe?

Continue reading “The quantum world: Dreams and delusions | Roger Penrose, Sabine Hossenfelder, Michio Kaku, and more!” »

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