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Space

Theory of Information Could Resolve One of the Great Paradoxes of Cosmology 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the bits-of-energy dept.
KentuckyFC writes: When physicists attempt to calculate the energy density of the universe from first principles, the number they come up using quantum mechanics is 10^94 g/cm^3 . And yet the observed energy density is about 10^-27 g/cm^3. In other words, our best theory of reality misses the mark by 120 orders of magnitude. Now one researcher says the paradox can be resolved by considering the information content of the universe. Specifying the location of the 10^25 stars in the visible universe to an accuracy of 10 cubic kilometers requires some 10^93 bits. And using Landauer's principle to calculate the energy associated with all these bits gives an energy density of about 10^-30 g/cm^3. That's not a bad first principles result. But if the location has to be specified to the Planck length, then the energy density is about 117 orders of magnitude larger. In other words, the nature of information should lie at the heart of our best theory of reality, not quantum mechanics.
Data Storage

Storing Data In Synthetic Fossils 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the worked-for-the-dinosaurs dept.
Bismillah tips news of research from ETH Zurich which brings the possibility of extremely long-term data storage. The scientists encoded data in DNA, a young but established technique that has a major problem: accuracy. "[E]ven a short period of time presents a problem in terms of the margin of error, as mistakes occur in the writing and reading of the DNA. Over the longer term, DNA can change significantly as it reacts chemically with the environment, thus presenting an obstacle to long-term storage." To get around this issue, they encapsulated the DNA within tiny silica spheres, a process roughly comparable to the fossilization of bones (abstract). The researchers say data can be preserved this way for over a million years.
AI

Breakthrough In Face Recognition Software 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the anonymity-takes-another-hit dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Face recognition software underwent a revolution in 2001 with the creation of the Viola-Jones algorithm. Now, the field looks set to dramatically improve once again: computer scientists from Stanford and Yahoo Labs have published a new, simple approach that can find faces turned at an angle and those that are partially blocked by something else. The researchers "capitalize on the advances made in recent years on a type of machine learning known as a deep convolutional neural network. The idea is to train a many-layered neural network using a vast database of annotated examples, in this case pictures of faces from many angles. To that end, Farfade and co created a database of 200,000 images that included faces at various angles and orientations and a further 20 million images without faces. They then trained their neural net in batches of 128 images over 50,000 iterations. ... What's more, their algorithm is significantly better at spotting faces when upside down, something other approaches haven't perfected."
Space

Another Star Passed Through Our Oort Cloud 70,000 Years Ago 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-not-hitting-us dept.
New submitter mrthoughtful writes: According to researchers at the University of Rochester, a recently discovered dim star (Scholz's star) passed through our Oort cloud 70,000 years ago. At its closest, it was about 52,000 AU distant from Sol, or about 0.8 light-years. This is still quite a distance — Voyager 1 is about 125 AU away right now — but it's far closer than Proxima Centauri's current 266,000 AU. Still, maybe the best way to engage in interstellar travel is just to wait until the time is right.
Math

Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Stephen Wolfram's accomplishments and contributions to science and computing are numerous. He earned a PhD in particle physics from Caltech at 20, and has been cited by over 30,000 research publications. Wolfram is the the author of A New Kind of Science, creator of Mathematica, the creator of Wolfram Alpha, and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. He developed Wolfram Language, a general multi-paradigm programming language, in 2014. Stephen has graciously agreed to answer any questions you may have for him. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Science

Game Theory Calls Cooperation Into Question 249

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Quanta Magazine: The physicist Freeman Dyson and the computer scientist William Press, both highly accomplished in their fields, have found a new solution to a famous, decades-old game theory scenario called the prisoner's dilemma, in which players must decide whether to cheat or cooperate with a partner. The prisoner's dilemma has long been used to help explain how cooperation might endure in nature. After all, natural selection is ruled by the survival of the fittest, so one might expect that selfish strategies benefiting the individual would be most likely to persist. But careful study of the prisoner's dilemma revealed that organisms could act entirely in their own self-interest and still create a cooperative community.

Press and Dyson's new solution to the problem, however, threw that rosy perspective into question (abstract). It suggested the best strategies were selfish ones that led to extortion, not cooperation.

[Theoretical biologist Joshua] Plotkin found the duo's math remarkable in its elegance. But the outcome troubled him. Nature includes numerous examples of cooperative behavior. For example, vampire bats donate some of their blood meal to community members that fail to find prey. Some species of birds and social insects routinely help raise another's brood. Even bacteria can cooperate, sticking to each other so that some may survive poison. If extortion reigns, what drives these and other acts of selflessness?"
Mars

Mysterious Martian Plumes Discovered By Amateur Astronomers 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the mars-needs-bbq dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amateur astronomers have spotted two clouds coming from the surface of Mars that are a mystery to the professionals. From Discovery: "The plumes extended over 500- to 1,000 kilometers (311- to 621 miles) in both north-south and east-west directions and changed in appearance daily. They were detected as the sun breached Mars' horizon in the morning, but not when it set in the evening. 'Remarkably ... the features changed rapidly, their shapes going from double blob protrusions to pillars or finger-plume-like morphologies,' scientists investigating the sightings wrote in a paper published in this week's Nature."
Stats

New Map Shows USA's Quietest Places 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-little-peace-and-quiet dept.
sciencehabit writes Based on 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring from places as remote as Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and as urban as New York City, scientists have created a map of noise levels across the country on an average summer day. After feeding acoustic data into a computer algorithm, the researchers modeled sound levels across the country including variables such as air and street traffic. Deep blue regions, such as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, have background noise levels lower than 20 decibels — a silence likely as deep as before European colonization, researchers say. That's orders of magnitude quieter than most cities, where noise levels average 50-60 decibels. The National Park Service is using the map to identify places where human-made noise is affecting wildlife.
Medicine

Two New Male Birth Control Chemicals In Advanced Stages 369

Posted by samzenpus
from the man-pills dept.
BarbaraHudson writes Researchers at the University of Kansas and Harvard are working to give men more choices for avoiding unwanted pregnancies. From the article: "H2-gamendazole keeps sperm from maturing. The unfinished sperm fragments are then reabsorbed into the testis, never ending up in the semen. 'If there's no sperm, the egg's not going to get fertilized,' says Joseph Tash, a reproductive biologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Almost two years ago, the FDA reviewed the compound, and now the agency wants Tash to investigate if the compound remains in the semen and whether that would harm a woman if it ends up in the vagina. Jay Bradner, working with other anti-cancer researchers at Harvard, discovered that the JQ1 molecule blocked a bromodomain in cancer cells, causing them to forget how to be cancer. One side effect is that JQ1 also obstructed a testicle-specific bromodomain called BRDT, making the sex cells that would otherwise produce sperm non-functional — mice treated with JQ1 can hump with abandon yet generate zero mouselings. Researchers are looking for a version of the molecule that works on the testicle protein only, to avoid any weird side effects."
Medicine

Inside the Mind of a Schizophrenic Through Virtual Reality 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-their-shoes dept.
blottsie writes Viscira produces videos and technology simulations for the healthcare industry, and the project I tested called "Mindscape" was created for a pharmaceutical company that wanted to give potential clients insight into what some schizophrenic patients might feel like in a real-life scenario. Unlike audio tests or videos that show you a first-person perspective of schizophrenic experiences, Viscira's demonstration uses the Oculus Rift headset and is entirely immersive. You can look around at each individual's face, and up and down the hallway. Walk through the elevator, and hear voices that appear to be coming from both strangers and your own head.
Mars

Mars One: Final 100 Candidates Selected 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-step-closer-to-the-end dept.
hypnosec writes "The Mars One project has picked the final 100 candidates for the next round of the selection process. Initially, 202,586 people applied and ultimately around 40 will undertake a one-way trip to Mars. “The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”
Earth

Oxford University Researchers List 12 Global Risks To Human Civilization 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the birds-and-snakes-an-airplane-and-lenny-bruce-is-not-afraid dept.
An anonymous reader writes The 12 greatest threats to civilization have been established by Oxford University scientists, with nuclear war and extreme climate change topping the list. Published by the Global Challenges Foundation, the report explores the 12 most likely ways civilization could end. "[This research] is about how a better understanding of the magnitude of the challenges can help the world to address the risks it faces, and can help to create a path towards more sustainable development," the study's authors said. "It is a scientific assessment about the possibility of oblivion, certainly, but even more it is a call for action based on the assumption that humanity is able to rise to challenges and turn them into opportunities."
Science

Drones and Satellites Spot Lost Civilizations In Unlikely Places 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
sciencehabit writes What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS, two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight."
Medicine

Researcher Developing Tattoo Removal Cream 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the wipe-it-off dept.
BarbaraHudson writes During tattooing, ink is injected into the skin, initiating an immune response, and cells called "macrophages" move into the area and "eat up" the ink. The macrophages carry some of the ink to the body's lymph nodes, but some that are filled with ink stay put, embedded in the skin. That's what makes the tattoo visible under the skin. Dalhousie Uiversity's Alec Falkenham is developing a topical cream that works by targeting the macrophages that have remained at the site of the tattoo. New macrophages move in to consume the previously pigment-filled macrophages and then migrate to the lymph nodes, eventually taking all the dye with them. "When comparing it to laser-based tattoo removal, in which you see the burns, the scarring, the blisters, in this case, we've designed a drug that doesn't really have much off-target effect," he said. "We're not targeting any of the normal skin cells, so you won't see a lot of inflammation. In fact, based on the process that we're actually using, we don't think there will be any inflammation at all and it would actually be anti-inflammatory."
Medicine

US Military Working On 3D Printing Exact Replicas of Bones & Limbs 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-you dept.
ErnieKey writes The U.S. military is working with technology that will allow them to create exact virtual replicas of their soldiers. In case of an injury, these replicas could be used to 3D print exact medical models for rebuilding the injured patient's body and even exact replica implants. Could we all one day soon have virtual backups of ourselves that we can access and have new body parts 3D printed on demand?
Science

Scientists To Hunt For Supersymmetric Particle In LHC 89

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-to-science dept.
An anonymous reader notes this article about the upcoming restart of the LHC. "A senior researcher at the Large Hadron Collider says a new particle could be detected this year that is even more exciting than the Higgs boson. The accelerator is due to come back online in March after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy. This could force the first so-called supersymmetric particle to appear in the machine, with the most likely candidate being the gluino. Its detection would give scientists direct pointers to "dark matter". And that would be a big opening into some of the remaining mysteries of the universe. 'It could be as early as this year. Summer may be a bit hard but late summer maybe, if we're really lucky,' said Prof Beate Heinemann, who is a spokeswoman for the Atlas experiment, one of the big particle detectors at the LHC. 'We hope that we're just now at this threshold that we're finding another world, like antimatter for instance. We found antimatter in the beginning of the last century. Maybe we'll find now supersymmetric matter.'"
Mars

Elon Musk To Write a Book About Earth Sustainability and Mars Colonization 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-your-words dept.
MarkWhittington writes Elon Musk has taken on quite a number of projects with a goal of changing the world while making lots of money doing so. He proposes to revolutionize space travel through his commercial launch company, SpaceX. His more earthly endeavors have included electric cars, home solar power, a transportation system called the Hyperloop, a space based Internet and, most recently, a battery that can power a house. Now, according to a story in Business Insider, Musk will open his mind on his views on "sustainability" was well as Mars colonization in book form.
Space

Time-Lapse of Pluto and Charon Produced By New Horizons 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the drifting-ever-closer dept.
schwit1 writes: Cool images! Using New Horizons' long range camera, scientists have compiled a movie showing Charon and Pluto orbiting each other during the last week of January 2015. "Pluto and Charon were observed for an entire rotation of each body; a "day" on Pluto and Charon is 6.4 Earth days. The first of the images was taken when New Horizons was about 3 billion miles from Earth, but just 126 million miles (203 million kilometers) from Pluto — about 30% farther than Earth's distance from the Sun. The last frame came 6.5 days later, with New Horizons more than 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) closer." The wobble easily visible in Pluto's motion is due to the gravity of Charon, about one-eighth as massive as Pluto and about the size of Texas. Our view of Pluto and Charon is only going to get better as New Horizons zooms towards its July fly-by.
The Military

West Point and Marines Launch Open Cyber Conflict Journal 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the military-strategy-by-committee dept.
rumint writes: The Army Cyber Institute at West Point and the Marine Corps Cyberspace Command just launched an open journal studying cyber conflict — Cyber Defense Review. It focuses on strategy, operations, tactics, history, ethics, law and policy in the cyber domain. The Cyber Defense Review is positioning itself as the leading online and print journal for issues related to cyber conflict for military, industry, professional and academic scholars, practitioners and operators interested providing timely and important research to advance the body of knowledge in an inherently multi-disciplinary field.
Networking

Li-Fi-like System Pushes 100Gbps Within a Small Room 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oxford University is [building] a system that takes light from the fiber, amplifies it, and beams it across a room to deliver data at more than 100 gigabits per second. ... The trick, of course, is getting the light beam exactly where it needs to go. An optical fiber makes for a target that's only 8 or 9 micrometers in diameter, after all. The team, which also included researchers from University College, London, accomplished this using so-called holographic beam steering at both the transmitter and receiver ends. These use an array of liquid crystals to create a programmable diffraction grating that reflects the light in the desired direction. ... With a 60-degree field of view, the team was able to transmit six different wavelengths, each at 37.4 Gb/s, for an aggregate bandwidth of 224 Gb/s (abstract). With a 36-degree field of view, they managed only three channels, for 112 Gb/s.