For Wired Science, Betsy Mason wires: The video above was taken by a satellite, from space. It has enough resolution to watch individual cars move down the road and identify specific planes at the Beijing airport.
“What’s exciting now is being able to put the video directly on a map,” said Mapbox CEO Eric Gunderson. “They’re an awesome data source, and we have an awesome API that can digest that data.”
– Mapbox CEO Eric Gunderson
The footage is from Skybox Imaging, a company that has just started offering customers 90-second video of any point on Earth from its SkySat-1 satellite, upping the ability to monitor what’s going on down here on Earth from space.
Benedict Cary writes: He heard about the drug trial from a friend in Switzerland and decided it was worth volunteering, even if it meant long, painful train journeys from his native Austria and the real possibility of a mental meltdown. He didn’t have much time, after all, and traditional medicine had done nothing to relieve his degenerative spine condition.
“The effort is both political and scientific…We want to break these substances out of the mold of the counterculture and bring them back to the lab as part of a psychedelic renaissance.”
“I’d never taken the drug before, so I was feeling — well, I think the proper word for it, in English, is dread,” said Peter, 50, an Austrian social worker, in a telephone interview; he asked that his last name be omitted to protect his identity. “There was this fear that it could all go wrong, that it could turn into a bad trip.”
On Tuesday, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease is posting online results from the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years. The study, conducted in the office of a Swiss psychiatrist near Bern, tested the effects of the drug as a complement to talk therapy for 12 people nearing the end of life, including Peter. Read the rest of this entry »
Scientists in Japan are trying to create a computer program smart enough to pass the University of Tokyo‘s entrance exam, it appears.
The project, led by Noriko Arai at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, is trying to see how fast artificial intelligence might replace the human brain so that people can start training in completely new areas. “If society as a whole can see a possible change coming in the future, we can get prepared now,” she tells the Kyodo news agency.
But there’s also another purpose behind the Can A Robot Get Into The University of Tokyo? project, which began in 2011. If machines cannot replace human beings, then “we need to clarify what is missing and move to develop the technology,” says Noriko Arai.
Ed Rogers writes …some very interesting analysis from Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. The YPCCC, which “conducts research on public climate knowledge” has grouped Americans’ sentiments about global warming into six categories, ranging from “The Alarmed” to “The Dismissives.” Even though I am properly suspicious of anything Yale has to say about global warming, I think Mr. Leiserowitz makes some interesting points. His analysis puts into vivid relief that one group is missing from the spectrum of debate on climate change. There should be an additional category called something like “The Prudent Rationals.” There should be, but there is not — and it is the liberals’ fault.
The Democrats’ global-warming “solutions” fit a little too nicely into their tiresome political agenda of class warfare, anti-business regulations and the big government controls they want to force on us.
“The Prudent Rationals” would be comprised of those whose attitudes comport with something like the following: They are generally respectful of the scientific community and are eager to listen to mainstream scientists and researchers. They want to hear from legitimate experts who acknowledge the variables, the uncertainties and, importantly, the mistakes and errors of climate science so far. This group could support a prudent plan to produce measurable benefits, but only if the plan were truly global in scope and the cost seemed to be proportional to the outcome. The “Prudent Rationals” believe it is reasonable to accept that there are consequences for continually pumping gases into the atmosphere. And it seems right that one generation should leave the planet better than they found it for the next generation. But we need to be realistic about technical science and political science. If we can’t act globally to limit these gases, we should be focusing on local pollution, not on plans that unilaterally wreck our economy and impoverish millions – if not billions – for nothing.
One gun lover at reddit decided to 3D-print his own homage to Mother Jones: a homemade lower receiver for an AR-15-style rifle, complete with serial number. And just for kicks, he made sure the serial number matched the phone number for the main office at Mother Jones. The redditor even printed the Mother Jones logo on the receiver.
More and more academic papers that are essentially gobbledegook are being written by computer programs – and accepted at conferences
Ian Sample writes: Like all the best hoaxes, there was a serious point to be made. Three MIT graduate students wanted to expose how dodgy scientific conferences pestered researchers for papers, and accepted any old rubbish sent in, knowing that academics would stump up the hefty, till-ringing registration fees.
It took only a handful of days. The students wrote a simple computer program that churned out gobbledegook and presented it as an academic paper. They put their names on one of the papers, sent it to a conference, and promptly had it accepted. The sting, in 2005, revealed a farce that lay at the heart of science.
But this is the hoax that keeps on giving. The creators of the automatic nonsense generator, Jeremy Stribling, Dan Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn, have made theSCIgen program free to download. And scientists have been using it in their droves. This week, Nature reported, French researcher Cyril Labbé revealed that 16 gobbledegook papers created by SCIgen had been used by German academic publisher Springer. More than 100 more fake SCIgen papers were published by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Both organisations have now taken steps to remove the papers.
“Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable.”
Giuseppe Macri reports: Leading avionics technology developer and manufacturer Boeing is breaking into the smartphone market with “Black” – a Mission Impossible-worthy device that self-destructs if an attempt is made to breach its security.
“Boeing’s Black phone will be sold primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security,” Legal counsel for Boeing Bruce Olcott wrote in the company’s detailed letter to the FCC earlier this month, asking the agency to keep the phone’s specs secret. “The device will be marketed and sold in a manner such that low-level technical and operational information about the product will not be provided to the general public.”
…as Atlantis and Hubble slowly drifted apart in 2009
This might seem strange because Sagan was an early promoter of the theory that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are going to fry the globe. But it’s not so strange when you consider the larger message that made Sagan famous.
As with many people my age, Sagan’s 1980 series “Cosmos,” which aired on public television when I was eleven years old, was my introduction to science, and it changed my life. “Cosmos” shared the latest developments in the sciences of evolution, astronomy, and astrophysics, but its real heart was Sagan’s overview of the history of science and the distinctive ethos behind the scientific method. Sagan returned again and again to one central theme: that the first rule of science is to follow the evidence wherever it leads, regardless of one’s wishes or preconceptions. He spoke eloquently about the Ancient Greek Pythagoreans and their attempt to suppress the facts about “irrational numbers” that didn’t fit their theory. And he spoke admiringly about the 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler, who started out pursuing a theory in which the planets move in circular orbits reflecting the ratios of the perfect Pythagorean solids—and ended up being driven by the evidence to reject this theory and discover completely new laws of planetary motion.
I didn’t end up becoming a scientist, but I absorbed Sagan’s basic lesson and have tried my best to adhere to it in my own field: follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Show-Off Asteroid’s Celestial Smack-Down: Record-Breaking Meteorite Crash on Moon Sparks Brightest Lunar Explosion EverPosted: February 26, 2014
“At that moment I realized that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event”
Video footage of the record-breaking meteorite strike on the moon, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2013 and was unveiled today (Feb. 24), shows a long flash that was almost as bright as the North Star Polaris. That means the boulder-sized meteorite’s lunar crash could have been visible to anyone on Earth who happened to be staring up at the moon at 8:07 p.m. GMT, weather permitting.
“At that moment I realized that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event,” Jose Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, said in a statement. Madiedo witnessed the collision using two moon-watching telescopes in the south of Spain that are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, or MIDAS observatory.
The Singularity is Coming and it’s Going To Be Awesome: ‘Robots Will Be Smarter Than Us All by 2029′Posted: February 23, 2014
Adam Withnall writes: By 2029, computers will be able to understand our language, learn from experience and outsmart even the most intelligent humans, according to Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.
“Today, I’m pretty much at the median of what AI experts think and the public is kind of with them…”
One of the world’s leading futurologists and artificial intelligence (AI) developers, 66-year-old Kurzweil has previous form in making accurate predictions about the way technology is heading.
[Ray Kurzweil's pioneering book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology is available at Amazon]
When the internet was still a tiny network used by a small collection of academics, Kurzweil anticipated it would soon make it possible to link up the whole world.