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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:38 am ]
Post subject:  Todays "Planet Earth Report" --How to Save Antarct

Todays "Planet Earth Report" --How to Save Antarctica (and Planet Earth)

 




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Decisions made in the next decade will determine whether Antarctica suffers dramatic changes that contribute to a meter of global sea level rise. In a new study, scientists argue that time is running out to save this unique ecosystem, and that if the right decisions are not made to preserve Antarctica in the next ten years then the consequences will be felt around the world. Their results, published today in Mood, assess the state of Antarctica in 2070 under two scenarios, which represent the opposite extremes of action and inaction on greenhouse gas emissions and environmental protection.


Antarctica is affected by many global changes, but in turn it also affects the global environment. For example, one of the largest uncertainties in future sea-level rise predictions is how the Antarctic ice sheet reacts to human-induced global warming.

 


The Southern Ocean around Antarctica also absorbs a large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, slowing the rate of climate change. However, it can only absorb so much CO2, and absorbing excess amounts increases the acidity of the water, harming marine life.


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To see what the future might detain, an international team of researchers has predicted what would happen under two future scenarios. Firstly, if emissions rise unabated and regulation in Antarctica fails to detain up with changes; and secondly if emissions are significantly reduced through regulations informed by research.


The authors argue that which scenario plays out depends significantly on choices made over the next decade, on both climate-change mitigation plans and on environmental regulation. For example, there is currently a moratorium on mining in Antarctica, but as global population rises this agree could be threatened.


 


 







Co-author Professor Martin Siegert, from the Grantham Institute Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial, said: Some of the changes Antarctica will face are already irreversible, such as the loss of some ice shelves, but there is a lot we can prevent or reverse. To ignore the worst impacts, we will need strong international cooperation and effective regulation backed by rigorous science. This will rely on governments recognising that Antarctica is intimately coupled to the rest of the Earth system, and damage there will cause problems everywhere.


Direct author Dr Steve Rintoul, of the Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Australia, said: Greenhouse gas emissions must start decreasing in the coming decade to have a realistic prospect of following the low emissions narrative and so ignore global impacts associated with change in Antarctica, such as substantial sea level rise.


Under the high emissions and low regulations narrative, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean undergo widespread and rapid change, with global consequences.


By 2070, warming of the ocean and atmosphere has caused dramatic loss of major ice shelves, paramount to increased loss of grounded ice from the Antarctic Ice Sheet and an acceleration in global sea level rise. Environmental changes including warming, sea ice retreat and ocean acidification have altered marine ecosystems.


 


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Unrestricted growth in human use of Antarctica has degraded the environment and introduced invasive pests.

Under the low emissions and tight regulations narrative, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and implementation of effective policy helps to minimise change in Antarctica, which in 2070 looks much like it did in the early decades of the century.


Antarcticas ice shelves have remained intact, slowing loss of ice from the ice sheet and reducing the threat of sea level rise.


Ocean acidification has not worsened and Antarctic ecosystems have remained intact.


Human pressures on the Antarctic are managed by an increasingly collaborative and effective governance regime.

Professor Siegert said: If the political landscape of a future Antarctica is more concerned with rivalry, and how each country can get the most out of the continent and its oceans, then all protections could be overturned.


However, if we recognise the importance of Antarctica in the global environment, then there is the potential for international co-operation that uses evidence to enact changes that ignore tipping points boundaries that once crossed, would cause runaway change, such as the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.


Under the worst-case scenario of high greenhouse gas emissions and low or ineffective regulations, the global air temperature would rise nearly 3.5°C above 1850 levels, whereas under the best-case scenario of low emissions and tight regulations, it would be kept under the target of 2°C warming.


In the worst-case scenario, floating ice shelves that detain back ice on land would collapse, enhancing flow of ice from land to the sea. Antarctica would contribute more than 25 cm to a total global sea level rise of more than a metre. This could direct eventually to the collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and around 3.5 m of sea level rise.


Currently, ice loss at the margins of Antarctica is compensated by increased accumulation of ice through snowfall at the centre of the continent. By 2070, however, this recompense would no longer be possible, and the continent as a whole would be losing ice mass.


The extent of summer sea ice would also reduce by nearly 50%. This, combined with ice shelf collapses and grounded ice losses, would direct to a freshening of the local ocean surface, which would change ocean currents.


The ocean itself would also warm up to 2°C from todays levels, reducing its ability to absorb CO2 and causing global warming to occur faster. The acidity of the oceans would also reach a point where the shells of certain sea creatures are unable to form properly.


In contrast, under the best-case scenario, Antarcticas contribution to sea level rise would only be about 6cm in a global rise of around half a metre, due to instabilities in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that have been irreversible since 2010.


However, many of the other impacts in the region would be significantly less, and in some cases reversed. The ocean would not experience distinctive freshening because of reduced sea ice loss and ice shelf breakup, leaving circulation patterns intact.


The ocean would also warm less, by only around 0.7°C, meaning it would retain its ability to absorb CO2 and the acidity would not be at harmful levels.


As well as the physical changes to Antarctica, the analysis also looked at the impacts on ecosystems and direct human impacts, such as mining and tourism. These factors depend strongly on how much international agreement and cooperation there is, particularly in creating and enforcing well-informed regulations.


The authors say that this means research programs need to be supported to make evidence-based decisions on the best way forward. If these are maintained into 2070, and the international community acts together on the recommendations, then worst impacts can be avoided.


For example, without strict limits on fishing, stocks of regularly caught species will decline dramatically. As a result, new species will be fished, and these will also be diminished quickly if regulation does not catch up. There will also be knock-on effects on the populations of seabirds and mammals, changing the entire structure of the ecosystem.


There are resources in Antarctica that could be mined, such as coal and iron ore, but current international agreements forbid their extraction. However, by 2070 governments with logistical presence and capability on the continent could be more interested in dividing up the resources, rather than prudent the entire environment.


With less ice on land and sea, tourism could also reach unsustainable levels for example with the introduction of permanent hotels. Tourists will bring and broadcast new species if there is not appropriate manage, and the analysis predicts that some of the worlds most invasive species would take detain by 2070 in this case.


The Daily Galaxy via Imperial College of London


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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:52 am ]
Post subject:  Neutron Stars May Unveil "Unknown 5th Force Between Nor

Neutron Stars May Unveil "Unknown 5th Force Between Normal Matter and Dark Matter"

 


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Until today, nobody has conducted such a fifth force test with an exotic object like a neutron star. "There are two reasons that binary pulsars open up a completely new way of testing for such a fifth force between normal matter and dark matter," says Lijing Shao from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany. "First, a neutron star consists of matter which cannot be constructed in a laboratory, many times denser than an atomic nucleus and consisting nearly entirely of neutrons. Moreover, the enormous gravitational fields inside a neutron star, billion times stronger than that of the Sun, could in principle greatly embellish the interaction with dark matter."


 


Is dark matter a source of a yet unknown force in addition to gravity? The mysterious dark matter is little understood and trying to understand its properties is an distinctive challenge in modern physics and astrophysics. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, have proposed a new experiment that makes use of super-dense stars to learn more about the interaction of dark matter with standard matter. This experiment already provides some improvement in constraining dark matter properties, but even more progress is promised by explorations in the center of our Milky Way that are underway.

 


In what might be the first ever image of dark matter shown above, filaments bridge the space between galaxies in this false-color map. The locations of bright galaxies are shown by the white regions and the presence of a dark matter filament bridging the galaxies is shown in red. Image via RAS/ S. Epps & M. Hudson / University of Waterloo


Around 1600, Galileo Galileis experiments brought him to the conclusion that in the gravitational field of the Earth all bodies, independent of their mass and composition feel the same acceleration. Isaac Newton performed pendulum experiments with different materials in order to substantiate the so-called universality of free fall and reached a precision of 1:1000. More recently, the satellite experiment MICROSCOPE managed to confirm the universality of free fall in the gravitational field of the Earth with a precision of 1:100 trillion.


These kind of experiments, however, could only test the universality of free fall towards ordinary matter, like the Earth itself whose composition is dominated by iron (32 percent), oxygen (30 percent), silicon (15 percent) and magnesium (14 percent). On large scales, however, ordinary matter seems to be only a small fraction of matter and energy in the universe.


It is believed that the so-called dark matter accounts for about 80 percent of the matter in our universe. Until today, dark matter has not been observed directly. Its presence is only indirectly inferred from various astronomical observations like the rotation of galaxies, the motion of galaxy clusters, and gravitational lenses. The real mood of dark matter is one of the most prominent questions in modern science. Many physicists believe that dark matter consists of so far undiscovered sub-atomic particles.


With the unknown mood of dark matter another distinctive question arises: is gravity the only long-anger interaction between normal matter and dark matter? In other words, does matter only feel the space-time curvature caused by dark matter, or is there another force that pulls matter towards dark matter, or maybe even pushes it away and thus reduces the overall attraction between normal matter and dark matter. That would imply a violation of the universality of free fall towards dark matter. This hypothetical force is sometimes labeled as "fifth force," besides the well-known four basic interactions in mood (gravitation, electromagnetic & weak interaction, strong interaction).


 

At present, there are various experiments setting tight limits on such a fifth force originating from dark matter. One of the most stringent experiments uses the Earth-Moon orbit and tests for an anomalous acceleration towards the galactic center, i.e. the center of the spherical dark matter halo of our galaxy. The high precision of this experiment comes from Lunar Laser Ranging, where the distance to the Moon is measured with centimeter precision by bouncing laser pulses of the retro reflectors installed on the Moon.


The orbit of a binary pulsar can be obtained with high precision by measuring the arrival time of the radio signals of the pulsar with radio telescopes. For some pulsars, a precision of better than 100 nanoseconds can be achieved, corresponding to a determination of the pulsar orbit with a precision better than 30 meters.


To test the universality of free fall towards dark matter, the research team identified a particularly suitable binary pulsar, named PSR J1713+0747, which is at a distance of about 3800 light years from the Earth. This is a millisecond pulsar with a rotational period of just 4.6 milliseconds and is one of the most stable rotators amongst the known pulsar population. Moreover, it is in a nearly circular 68-day orbit with a white dwarf companion.


While pulsar astronomers usually are interested in tight binary pulsars with brisk orbital motion when testing general relativity, the researchers were now looking for a slowly moving millisecond pulsar in a wide orbit. The wider the orbit, the more sensitive it reacts to a violation of the universality of free fall. If the pulsar feels a different acceleration towards dark matter than the white dwarf companion, one should see a deformation of the binary orbit over time, i.e. a change in its eccentricity.


"More than 20 years of accustomed high precision timing with Effelsberg and other radio telescopes of the European Pulsar Timing Array and the North American NANOGrav pulsar timing projects showed with high precision that there is no change in the eccentricity of the orbit," explains Norbert Wex, also from MPIfR. "This means that to a high degree the neutron star feels the same kind of attraction towards dark matter as towards other forms of standard matter."


"To make these tests even better, we are busily searching for suitable pulsars near large amounts of expected dark matter," says Michael Kramer, director at MPIfR and head of its "Basic Physics in Radio Astronomy" research group. "The perfection place is the galactic centre where we use Effelsberg and other telescopes in the world to have a look as part of our Black Hole Cam project. Once we will have the Square Kilometre Array, we can make those tests super-precise," he concludes.


The Daily Galaxy via Max Planck Society


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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:09 pm ]
Post subject:  "A New Picture of the Big Bang" --The Quantum Univ

"A New Picture of the Big Bang" --The Quantum Universe

 


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Neil Turok, currently the Director and Niels Bohr Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada describes the quantum beginnings of the universe in the video below, on how ideas of the origin of the universe have changed over time, concluding with his current labor on a quantum beginning of the universe. In this theory the origin of the astonishingly simple cosmos we see today, can be described with just a few basic numbers.


 


The beginning of our universe if there is one is one of the big open questions in theoretical physics. The big bang is one of sciences great mysteries, and it seems the plot has thickened thanks to new research that refutes prevailing theories about the birth of the universe. A classical description of the big bang implies a singularity: a point of infinite smallness, at which Einsteins theory of gravity general relativity breaks down.

 




 


To tackle this problem, two proposals were put forward in the 1980s: the no-limitation proposal by Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, and Alexander Vilenkins theory known as tunnelling from nothing. Each proposal attempted to describe a smoother beginning to spacetime, using quantum theory. Rather than the infinitely pointy needle of the classical big bang, the proposals described something closer to the rounded tip of a well-used pencil curved, without an edge or tip.


While this belief has spawned much research, new mathematical labor suggests such a smooth beginning could not have given birth to the ordered universe we see today.


A new paper, co-authored by Perimeter Institute researchers Neil Turok and Job Feldbrugge, with Jean-Luc Lehners of the Albert Einstein Institute in Germany, points out mathematical inconsistencies in the no limitation and tunnelling proposals.


The no-limitation proposal by Hartle and Hawking and others is an elegant proposal to model the big bang using quantum gravity," says physicist Job Feldbrugge at Perimeter. Using a new mathematical technique, we can now rigorously investigate this proposal and see what kind of universe it predicts.


Turok says the previous models were beautiful proposals seeking to describe a complete picture of the origin of spacetime, but they dont detain up to this new mathematical assessment. Unfortunately, at the time those models were proposed, there was no adequately precise formulation of quantum gravity available to determine whether these proposals were mathematically meaningful.


The new research, outlined in a paper called No smooth beginning for spacetime, demonstrates that a universe emerging smoothly from nothing would be wild and fluctuating, strongly contradicting observations, which show the universe to be extremely uniform across space.


Hence the no-limitation proposal does not imply a large universe like the one we live in, but rather tiny curved universes that would collapse immediately, said Lehners, a former Perimeter postdoc who leads the theoretical cosmology group at the Albert Einstein Institute.


Turok, Lehners, and Feldbrugge reached this result by revisiting the foundations of the field.


They found a new way to use powerful mathematics developed over the past century to tackle one of physics most basic problems: how to connect quantum physics to gravity. The labor builds on previous research Turok conducted with Steffen Gielen, a postdoc at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and at Perimeter, in which they replaced the concept of the classical big bang with a quantum big bounce.


Turok, Lehners, and Feldbrugge are now trying to determine what mechanism could have kept large quantum fluctuations in check while allowing our large universe to unfold.


The new research implies that we either should look for another picture to understand the very early universe, or that we have to rethink the most elementary models of quantum gravity, said Feldbrugge.


Concluded Turok: Uncovering this problem gives us a powerful hint. It is paramount us closer to a new picture of the big bang.


The Daily Galaxy via The Perimeter Institute


 


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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:01 pm ]
Post subject:  EcoAlert --27 New Viruses Discovered in Bees --"World P

EcoAlert --27 New Viruses Discovered in Bees --"World Populations are Declining"

 

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"Populations of bees around the world are declining, and viruses are known to contribute to these declines," said David Galbraith, research scientist at Bristol Myers Squibb and a recent Penn State graduate. "Despite the importance of bees as pollinators of flowering plants in agricultural and casual landscapes and the importance of viruses to bee health, our understanding of bee viruses is surprisingly marginal."


An international team of researchers has discovered evidence of 27 previously unknown viruses in bees. The finding could help scientists plan strategies to prevent the broadcast of viral pathogens among these distinctive pollinators.

 


To investigate viruses in bees, the team collected samples of DNA and RNA, which is responsible for the synthesis of proteins, from 12 bee species in nine countries across the world. Next, they developed a novel high-throughput sequencing technique that efficiently detected both previously identified and 27 never-seen-before viruses belonging to at least six new families in a single experiment. The results appear in the June 11, 2018, issue of Scientific Reports.


"Typically, researchers would have to develop labor-intensive molecular assays to test for the presence of explicit viruses," said Zachary Fuller, postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and a recent Penn State graduate. "With our method, they can sequence all the viruses present in a sample without having any prior knowledge about what might be there."


Fuller noted that because the cost of high-throughput sequencing continues to decrease, the teams approach provides an inexpensive and efficient technique for other researchers to identify additional unknown viruses in bee populations around the world.


"Although our study nearly doubles the number of described bee-associated viruses, there are undoubtedly many more viruses yet to be uncovered, both in well-studied regions and in understudied countries," he said.


Among the new viruses the team identified was one that is similar to a virus that infects plants.


"It is possible that bees may acquire viruses from plants, and could then broadcast these viruses to other plants, posing a risk to agricultural crops," said Christina Grozinger, prominent professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State. "We need to do more experiments to see if the viruses are actively infecting the bees -- because the viruses could be on the pollen they eat, but not directly infecting the bees -- and then determine if they are having negative effects on the bees and crops. Some viruses may not cause symptoms or only cause symptoms if the bees are stressed in other ways."


Beyond identifying the new viruses, the team also found that some of the viruses exist in multiple bee species -- such as in honey bees and in bumble bees -- suggesting that these viruses may freely circulate within different bee populations.


"This finding highlights the importance of monitoring bee populations brought into the United States due to the potential for these species to transmit viruses to local pollinator populations," said Galbraith. "We have identified several novel viruses that can now be used in screening processes to monitor bee health across the world."


According to Galbraith, the study represents the largest effort to identify novel pathogens in global bee samples and greatly expands our understanding of the diversity of viruses found in bee communities around the world.


"Our protocol has provided a foundation for future studies to continue to identify novel pathogens that infect global bee populations using an inexpensive method for the detection of novel viruses," he said.


The Daily Galaxy via Penn State


 


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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  How advanced is AI today?

Scott Pelley reports on the developments in artificial intelligence brought about by venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lees investments and Chinas effort to dominate the AI field.




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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  YouTube science videos: The channels you should subscribe to

Meet the science YouTubers Simon Clark, Inés Dawson, Simone Giertz and more who make videos spanning rubbish robots, Star Wars planets and hijacking a Bieber hit

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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:34 am ]
Post subject:  Racing robot cars will help AI learn to adapt to the real wo

Racing robot cars will help AI learn to adapt to the real world

Robotic games arena challenges AIs to competitions using remote-controlled cars and drones. To win, theyll need to adapt to the unknown

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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Thu Jan 28, 2021 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Todays "Planet Earth Report" --Stephen Hawking &qu

Todays "Planet Earth Report" --Stephen Hawking "On Taking Manage of Our Own Evolution"

 

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Stephen Hawking notes that with genetic engineering, we will be capable to increase the labyrinth of our DNA, and improve the human race. Indeed, the potential advantages of modifying biology are revolutionary. Doctors would gain access to a powerful tool to tackle disease, allowing us to live longer and healthier lives. We might be capable to extend our lifespan and tackle aging, perhaps a critical step to becoming a space-faring species. We may begin to modify the brains building blocks to become more intelligent and capable of solving grand challenges.


In their book Evolving Ourselves, Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans describe a world where evolution is no longer driven by casual processes. Instead, it is driven by human choices, through what they call unnatural selection and non-random mutation. Human enhancement is bringing us closer to such a worldit could allow us to take manage of our evolution and truly shape the future of our species, reports todays Singularity Hub.

Upgrading our biology may sound like science fiction, but attempts to improve humanity actually date back thousands of years. Every day, we embellish ourselves through seemingly mundane activities such as exercising, meditating, or consuming performance-enhancing drugs, such as caffeine or adderall. However, the tools with which we upgrade our biology are improving at an accelerating rate and becoming increasingly invasive.


In recent decades, we have developed a wide array of powerful methods, such as genetic engineering and brain-machine interfaces, that are redefining our humanity. In the brief run, such enhancement technologies have medical applications and may be used to treat many diseases and disabilities. Additionally, in the coming decades, they could allow us to boost our physical abilities or even digitize human consciousness.


Many futurists argue that our devices, such as our smartphones, are already an extension of our cortex and in many ways an abstract form of enhancement. According to philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers theory of extended mind, we use technology to expand the boundaries of the human mind beyond our skulls.


One can argue that having access to a smartphone enhances ones cognitive capacities and abilities and is an indirect form of enhancement of its own. It can be considered an abstract form of brain-machine interface. Beyond that, wearable devices and computers are already accessible in the market, and people like athletes use them to boost their progress.


Continue reading...


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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Thu Jan 28, 2021 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Earths "First Contact" May be Ghost Signals from L

Earths "First Contact" May be Ghost Signals from Long-Vanished ET Civilizations

 


  Video-Dr.-Michio-Kaku-Alien-Civilizations


 


The human species has been transmitting radio waves for only about 80 years, so our radio waves cover less than 0.001 percent of the Milky Way. Electromagnetic signals (blue circles shown below) from alien civilizations will continue traveling through the Milky Way even after the aliens are gone. The appearance of a doughnut hole represents when a civilization dies out.


Surprisingly, the average number of E.T. signals crossing Earth at a given time should equal the number of civilizations currently transmitting even if the civilizations we hear from arent the same ones presently broadcasting.

 


In an effort to update the 1961 Drake Equation, which estimates the number of detectable, intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way, physicist Claudio Grimaldi and colleagues calculated the area of the galaxy that should be dense with alien signals at a given time.


If the civilization emitted from the other side of the galaxy, when the signal arrives here, the civilization will already be gone, says Grimaldi, with the Federal Polytechnical School of Lausanne in Switzerland. "


 


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If signals from an alien civilization ever reach Earth, odds are the aliens will already be dead." Grimaldi is now working on a paper about what it means that weve found none so far.


 



 


The team which includes Frank Drake (now a professor emeritus at the SETI Institute in Mountain Belief, Calif., and the University of California, Santa Cruz), assumed technologically savvy civilizations are born and die at a constant rate. When a civilization dies out and stops broadcasting, the signals it had sent continue traveling like concentric ripples on a pond.


Part of the Milky Way should be dense with these ghost signals.


 


If the civilization lasted less than 100,000 years the time it takes light to cross the galaxy then the odds of the signals reaching Earth while the civilization is still broadcasting are vanishingly small, the researchers report February 27 at arXiv.org.


The Daily Galaxy via Science News and EPFL 


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Author:  Y_nezcuttowi_Y [ Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:23 am ]
Post subject:  Todays Top Science Headline: "Hacking the Human Body&qu

Todays Top Science Headline: "Hacking the Human Body" --What Winning the Biathlon Olympic Gold Means

 


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"Its like running up a flight of stairs as brisk as you can and then trying to thread a needle. Every second counts in biathlon. Or, as seen Sunday in Martin Fourcades .04-second victory for France over Norways Emil Hegle Svendsen, every sliver of a second counts. Whats even more, the abilities these 2018 Olympic biathletes champion are not naturally compatible; in fact, the exertion from cross-country skiing paired with the focus needed to shoot a gun are at odds, requiring manage of the body that teeters on superhuman strength.


In biathlon, reports todays Inverse, a tradition that dates back to 18th-century Norwegian military competitions, athletes compete in a combination of cross-country skiing and marksmanship events. The skiing is broken up every five kilometers (about 3 miles) by target shooting, alternating between standing, where targets are 4.5-inch diameter circles, and prone (lying down), where targets are only 1.8 inches across. The events vary in length, including a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) race, 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) sprint, single- and mixed-gender relays, and a few other distances, all of which blend skiing and shooting. Either of these tasks is challenging on its own, but things get really aggressive when you switch from one to the other.

 


Imagine: Youve skied cross-country for five kilometers focusing on the path ahead of you, blocking out the world while you exert yourself, going as harsh as you can to thrust forward with your poles and push yourself onward with your skis. Then you get to the shooting anger, and you have to not just break but you have to stand still. In that stillness, with your heart pounding in your chest and your lungs gulping for air, you shoulder your rifle to shoot at targets 50 meters (164 feet) away. You only get one shot per target. If you extent a single degree too low or too high, you could miss the tiny target by feet. And if you miss, you get a time penalty that could cost you the medal.


Youre watching the target come in and out of your sight, Sara Studebaker-Hall, a U.S. Olympic biathlon competitor, tells Popular Science. The example we give to people is its like running up a flight of stairs as brisk as you can and then trying to thread a needle.


In a study published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers who examined the effects of aerobic activity on shooting performance found that subjects performed significantly worse just after theyd completed a simulated march. Their accuracy (the ability to hit the right spot) and precision (the ability to hit the same spot repeatedly) were both about one-third worse after the march. While this study was conducted in a warm environmental chamber with the participants burdened by heavy loads, similar to conditions that military personnel might experience, we see that physical exhaustion can play a role in a persons ability to shoot at a target.


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