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Mar 5, 2017

New path suggested for nuclear fusion

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics, quantum physics

Controlled nuclear fusion has been a holy grail for physicists who seek an endless supply of clean energy. Scientists at Rice University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chile offered a glimpse into a possible new path toward that goal.

Their report on quantum-controlled fusion puts forth the notion that rather than heating atoms to temperatures found inside the sun or smashing them in a collider, it might be possible to nudge them close enough to fuse by using shaped laser pulses: ultrashort, tuned bursts of coherent light.

Authors Peter Wolynes of Rice, Martin Gruebele of Illinois and Illinois alumnus Eduardo Berrios of Chile simulated reactions in two dimensions that, if extrapolated to three, might just produce energy efficiently from deuterium and tritium or other elements.

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Mar 5, 2017

This New Opioid Treats Pain in Rats Without the Side Effects

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Scientists have developed a new painkiller that works like oxycontin but won’t get you addicted and won’t get you high. It’ll just treat pain.

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Mar 5, 2017

Bitcoin ETF Buzz Offers Short Term Opportunity

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance, Mark Zuckerberg, policy

If you follow Bitcoin at all, then you know that its value is spiking. It has already surpassed a massive spike on Thanksgiving night 2013, and it has just surpassed the cost of an ounce of gold. [continue below image]

Like any commodity, the exchange value of Bitcoin is driven by supply and demand. But, unlike most commodities, including the US Dollar, the Euro or even gold, the eventual supply is capped. It is a mathematical certainty. Yet, demand is affected by many factors: Adoption as a payment instrument, early signs that it is being considered as a reserve currency, fascination by Geeks and early adopters and its use as a preferred tool by some criminals.

But chief among reasons for acquiring Bitcoin is speculation. Whether it is buy-and-hold or day trading, speculators still outnumber those who use Bitcoin to settle debts or to buy and sell other products and services. (Earlier this week, I argued that speculation is responsible for 85% of demand and of transactions—but that’s another story).

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Mar 5, 2017

Google is using its deep learning tech to diagnose disease

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

This computer does just as well, if not better, than an ophthalmologist.

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Mar 5, 2017

Dear President Trump: Here’s How to Make Space Great Again

Posted by in categories: military, space

(Credit: NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts)

By Brent Ziarnick, Peter Garretson, Everett Dolman, and Coyote Smith

President-elect Donald Trump often says that Americans no longer dream and must do so again. Nowhere can dreams be more inspiring and profitable than in space. But today, expanding space enterprise is not foremost on the minds of Americans or military strategists. As a recent CNN special showed, defense thinkers feel embattled in space, focused on protecting our existing investments rather than developing new ones that seize strategic advantage.

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Mar 5, 2017

NASA Studying Manned Trip Around the Moon After Prod From Trump

Posted by in category: space

The U.S. is studying a possible manned mission around the moon as early as next year, marking the first such trip since the Apollo era ended in the early 1970s.

Following requests from the White House, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has formed a team to examine accelerating earlier plans to launch a crew by 2021, William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said Friday. Preliminary results of the review should be ready in about a month.

“We have a good, crisp list of all the things we would physically have to change” on the launch vehicle under development, Gerstenmaier said on a conference call with reporters. “We asked the team to take a look at potentially what additional tests would be needed to add crew, what the additional risk would be.”

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Mar 5, 2017

Earth’s Orbiting Junkyard Threatens the Space Economy

Posted by in categories: economics, satellites

Rocket and satellite litter is endangering private space commerce. Enter the cosmic debris tracking industry.

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Mar 5, 2017

Boston Dynamic’s Newest Robot Is Like A Horse On Roller Skates

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

This robot has the moves.

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Mar 5, 2017

Oldest fossil ever found on Earth shows organisms thrived 4.2bn years ago – and provides strongest evidence yet for similar life on Mars

Posted by in category: alien life

It’s life, but not as we know it. The oldest fossil ever discovered on Earth shows that organisms were thriving 4.2 billion years ago, hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought.

The microscopic bacteria, which were smaller than the width of a human hair, were found in rock formations in Quebec, Canada, but would have lived in hot vents in the 140F (60C) oceans which covered the early planet.

The discovery is the strongest evidence yet that similar organisms could also have evolved on Mars, which at the time still had oceans and an atmosphere, and was being bombarded by comets which probably brought the building blocks of life to Earth.

Continue reading “Oldest fossil ever found on Earth shows organisms thrived 4.2bn years ago – and provides strongest evidence yet for similar life on Mars” »

Mar 5, 2017

‘Who’s in control?’ Scientists gather to discuss AI doomsday scenarios

Posted by in categories: existential risks, robotics/AI

Artificial intelligence has the capability to transform the world — but not necessarily for the better. A group of scientists gathered to discuss doomsday scenarios, addressing the possibility that AI could become a serious threat.

The event, ‘Great Debate: The Future of Artificial Intelligence — Who’s in Control?’, took place at Arizona State University (ASU) over the weekend.

“Like any new technology, artificial intelligence holds great promise to help humans shape their future, and it also holds great danger in that it could eventually lead to the rise of machines over humanity, according to some futurists. So which course will it be for AI and what can be done now to help shape its trajectory?” ASU wrote in a press release.

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