Confirmation Bias?

brain


Help Fund My Robot Army!

robot-army

An anthology of science fiction/fantasy stories told in the form of fictional kickstarter crowdfunding pitches, using the components (and restrictions) of the format to tell the story. (There is a link to a preview on the Humble page).

I got this bundle recently. This book is original and inspiring (if you have an imaginative mind). Interesting to see how these imaginary kickstarter pitches, with a description, goals and comments, suggest a story. Some titles: The Spirit of Mars: Fund a Sacred Journey to the Red PlanetCatassassins!, A Practical Mechanism for Overcoming the Directionality of Temporal FlowLife-Sized Arena TetrisPrima Nocta Detective Agency Needs You, and many more. Read the rest of this entry »


Apollo 11 Astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong Returned Safely from the Moon, 46 Years Ago Today

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As Dave in Texas notes, it was a mere 66 years from Kitty Hawk to the moon.


[PHOTO] NASA: Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center Celebrates the Safe Return of Apollo 11, July 24, 1969

Apollo


‘The Wonderland of Science’

wonderland-science


NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth: NASA Press Release

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While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun.”

— John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment.”

— Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center

“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”

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“We’ve been able to fully automate our process of identifying planet candidates, which means we can finally assess every transit signal in the entire Kepler dataset quickly and uniformly.”

Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky.

“This gives astronomers a statistically sound population of planet candidates to accurately determine the number of small, possibly rocky planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy.”

— Jeff Coughlin, Kepler scientist at the SETI Institute

While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

“It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

— Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center

To help confirm the finding and better determine the properties of the Kepler-452 system, the team conducted ground-based observations at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, and the W. M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. These measurements were key for the researchers to confirm the planetary nature of Kepler-452b, to refine the size and brightness of its host star and to better pin down the size of the planet and its orbit.

The Kepler-452 system is located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

In addition to confirming Kepler-452b, the Kepler team has increased the number of new exoplanet candidates by 521 from their analysis of observations conducted from May 2009 to May 2013, raising the number of planet candidates detected by the Kepler mission to 4,696. Candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA Just Discovered an Earth-like Planet

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In addition to the discovery of Kepler-452b, the scientists announced 11 more newly-found Earth-sized planets.

 reports: Some scientists believe we’re most likely to find life outside of Earth if we look beyond our solar system. Life, they think, could be present on some Earth-like planet orbiting a different sun thousands of light years away.

These earth-like planets do exist. Called exoplanets, they were discovered 20 years ago. But scientists haven’t found a planet that’s similar in size to Earth, orbiting a star similar to our sun, and traveling in a habitable zone (which means the planet is at the right temperature to harbor liquid water).

That is, until now.

Kepler 452b will forever be remembered as the first, second Earth or what NASA refers to as “Earth 2.0” ever discovered:

Here’s what we know so far about Earth 2.0:

  • It’s 60 percent larger than Earth.
  • It’s most likely rocket, meaning it has a solid surface as opposed to a gaseous one, like Jupiter.
  • It’s about 1,400 light years from Earth.
  • The star it’s orbiting is about 6 billion years old — 1.5 billion years older than our sun.
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NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt

Using NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope, called Kepler, a team announced today that Kepler 452b is the most Earth-like planet every discovered in history.

“This is about the closest, so far,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, during the announcement. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] New #ISSCrew member @Astro_Kjell waves during ascent to space. R2D2 doll hangs inside #Soyuz

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Intl. Space Station via Twitter


[VIDEO] ‘Bitcoin is the Real Disruptor’

Bitcoint-punk-not-jazz

“Bitcoin is punk rock and you can’t turn it into smooth jazz just to satisfy the sensibilities of a timid boardroom.”

Presenting as part of the session “Beyond Bitcoin, Unleashing the Blockchain“, Andreas M Antonopoulos opens with a contrarian perspective. It’s not about “beyond bitcoin”, and you can’t put this technology on a leash to make it more palatable.

Bitcoin is the real thing, the revolutionary and disruptive technology that can’t be tamed.

Wired Money 2015  YouTube

Punk Image source: Punk Rock Cyborg by Trinivee


Robot Rights, or Robot Privilege?

Robot-Rights

Read more…

Daily Mail Online


Pundit Planet Bureau of Extremely Old News: Digital Imaging Reveals Oldest Biblical Text Since Dead Sea Scrolls

ancient-scroll-archaelology

Using micro-CT scanners, specialists at the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrollslaboratory in Jerusalem discerned the text written on the charred scroll: verses from the second chapter of the Book of Leviticus. 

Thanks to a high-tech solution, a charred parchment scroll discovered by the shores of the Dead Sea bearing verses from the Book of Leviticus was deciphered for the first time, archaeologists announced Monday.

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The document, found during the excavation of the synagogue in Ein Gedi 45 years ago, was burned 1,500 years ago while stored inside the ark in the ancient house of worship. Since then, however, the text has been unreadable.

Sacrifice-of-old-covenant-Book of Leviticus

Using micro-CT scanners, specialists at the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls laboratory in Jerusalem discerned the text written on the charred scroll: verses from the second chapter of the Book of Leviticus. Read the rest of this entry »


Pundit Planet Command Center

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Source: 


A Robot Just Passed the Self-Awareness Test

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Roboticists at the Ransselaer Polytechnic Institute have built a trio of robots that were put through the classic ‘wise men puzzle’ test of self-awareness – and one of them passed.

Duncan Geere reports: In the puzzle, a fictional king is choosing a new advisor and gathers the three wisest people in the land. He promises the contest will be fair, then puts either a blue or white hat on each of their heads and tells them all that the first person to stand up and correctly deduce the colour of their own hat will become his new advisor.

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Selmer Bringsjord set up a similar situation for the three robots – two were prevented from talking, then all three were asked which one was still able to speak. All attempt to say “I don’t know”, but only one succeeds – and when it hears its own voice, it understands that it was not silenced, saying “Sorry, I know now!”

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However, as we can assume that all three robots were coded the same, technically, all three have passed this self-awareness test. Read the rest of this entry »


#PlutoFlyby: Latest Updates

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  1.  Historic results from the New Horizons mission are due to be revealed in a briefing at 20:00 BST
  2.  They will include close-up photos of Pluto and its biggest moon Charon
  3.  Nasa’s spacecraft soared past Pluto on Tuesday and first “phoned home” at 01:52 BST Wednesday
  4.  The image taken just before the flyby already shows the dwarf planet in unprecedented detail

#PlutoFlyby: Latest updates

[BBC News]


Japan Hotel Features Robot Receptionists

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Interestingly, the robots have been made to look like dinosaurs

 writes: Step aside, receptionists. Robots are coming to get you. At least, that’s what’s happening at a hotel in Japan. Called Weird Hotel, the place of business uses robots in order to cut costs, according to the Associated Press.

“I wanted to highlight innovation. I also wanted to do something about hotel prices going up.”

— Hotel owner Hideo Sawada

The owner of the hotel, Hideo Sawada, says robots are used to boost efficiency, too, and not as a gimmick to attract tourists. Interestingly, the robots have been made to look like dinosaurs. “If you want to check in, push one,” it says in English. The visitor then needs to enter their information into a touch screen. Read the rest of this entry »


Behold: Free Wi-Fi at Peak of Mount Fuji

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3,776 meter high WiFi: Now you can check your email and post a selfie on Instagram from top of Mount Fuji, for free

Alexander Martin writes: Free Wi-Fi has reached a peak in Japan, the nation’s highest peak in fact.

Overseas tourists conquering the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain at 3,776 meters, can now use mobile devices to share their experience via social networking websites or, if so inclined, check their work emails.

Mobile carriers NTT Docomo Inc. and KDDI Corp. have both set up free Wi-Fi hotspots for foreign visitors at the highest spot in Japan. The services, launched last week, will be available until September when the climbing season ends.

Docomo’s service “is aimed at attracting more overseas visitors to Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, home to Mount Fuji,” the company said in a statement.

Instructions for using the Docomo service are available on fliers at the mountain’s main climbing routes. The KDDI service requires the downloading of an app in advance. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Pluto Is Larger Than Thought, Has Ice Cap, NASA Probe Reveals

LAUREL, Md. — Nola Taylor Redd reports: With less than 24 hours to go before NASA’s New Horizons probe makes its close flyby of Pluto, scientists are already learning more about the dwarf planet than ever before, including the fact that it is bigger than previously thought.

New Horizons’ latest views of Pluto have shown the dwarf planet to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) across, making it the largest body in the icy Kuiper Belt at the edge of the solar system. The observations also confirmed the presence of a polar ice cap on Pluto, and measured three of the dwarf planet’s moons.

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“Pluto is not disappointing,” said principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, during a NASA briefing here today (July 13).

[See a video of Alan Stern discussing Pluto’s size]

As New Horizons closes in, the spacecraft made the most precise measurements to date of Pluto’s size using methods similar to those employed by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. The new diameter of the dwarf planet makes it larger than fellow Kuiper Belt denizen Eris, which is 1,445 miles (2,326 km) in diameter.

Previous estimates for the size of Pluto had put its radius at 1,430 miles (2,301 km). But Pluto now stands as the undisputed king of the Kuiper Belt.

“This settles the debate about the largest object in the Kuiper Belt,” Stern said. Read the rest of this entry »


Martin Rees: The Post-Human Era is Dawning

TRANSHUMAN

Artificial minds will not be confined to the planet on which we have evolved

Martin Rees writes: So vast are the expanses of space and time that fall within an astronomer’s gaze that people in my profession are mindful not only of our moment in history, but also of our place in the wider cosmos. We wonder whether there is intelligent life elsewhere; some of us even search for it. People will not be the culmination of evolution. We are near the dawn of a post-human future that could be just as prolonged as the billions of years of Darwinian selection that preceded humanity’s emergence.

AI robot Ava in the film Ex Machina. Photograph: Allstar/FILM4/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

AI robot Ava in the film Ex Machina. Photograph: Allstar/FILM4/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

“Our era of organic intelligence is a triumph of complexity over entropy, but a transient one, which will be followed by a vastly longer period of inorganic intelligences less constrained by their environment.”

The far future will bear traces of humanity, just as our own age retains influences of ancient civilisations. Humans and all they have thought might be a transient precursor to the deeper cogitations of another culture — one dominated by machines, extending deep into the future and spreading far beyond earth.

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“Or they may be out there already, orbiting distant stars. Either way, it will be the actions of autonomous machines that will most drastically change the world, and perhaps what lies beyond.”

Not everyone considers this an uplifting scenario. There are those who fear that artificial intelligence will supplant us, taking our jobs and living beyond the writ of human laws. Others regard such scenarios as too futuristic to be worth fretting over. But the disagreements are about the rate of travel, not the direction. Few doubt that machines will one day surpass more of our distinctively human capabilities. It may take centuries but, compared to the aeons of evolution that led to humanity’s emergence, even that is a mere bat of the eye. This is not a fatalistic projection. It is cause for optimism. The civilisation that supplants us could accomplish unimaginable advances — feats, perhaps, that we cannot even understand.

[Read the full text here, at FT.com]

Human brains, which have changed little since our ancestors roamed the African savannah, have allowed us to penetrate the secrets of the quantum and the cosmos. But there is no reason to think that our comprehension is matched to an understanding of all the important features of reality. Some day we may hit the buffers. There are chemical and metabolic limits to the size and power of “wet” organic brains. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Pluto By Moonlight

Image converted using ifftoany

It’s Antarctic winter on Pluto. The sun has not been visible for twenty years in this frigid south polar region; it will not shine again for another 80 years. The only source of natural light is starlight and moonlight from Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.

“The only way for New Horizons to observe Pluto’s elusive night region is to see it in ‘Charonshine. It’s almost time for the big reveal, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

— Cathy Olkin, New Horizons deputy project scientist

On July 14, New Horizons mission scientists will soon obtain the first images of the night region of Pluto, using only the light from Charon, itself softly illuminated by a Sun 1,000 times dimmer than it is at Earth. The images will provide New Horizons’ only view of Pluto’s lesser-known south polar region, currently in the midst of a numbingly-long winter. The pictures will be made with the LORRI and Ralph instruments, shortly after New Horizons passes its point of closest approach to Pluto.

If you stood on the night region of Pluto at that moment of closest approach by New Horizons – looking up at a distinctly gray Charon – it would appear seven times larger in the sky than Earth’s moon. Charon, although three billion miles from the sun, is so close to Pluto and so ice-covered that it would be only five times dimmer than the full moon seen from Earth. At your feet, the icy surface – resembling a sooty snow bank – would be bathed in Charon’s faint glow. The area around you would be dim, but not so dark that you would bump into things.

On your moonlight stroll on Pluto you’d notice that your shadow, cast by Charon, is much less defined than your shadow from moonlight on Earth. A wisp of cloud might even pass in front of Charon as you look up. Read the rest of this entry »


Finally: Networked Monkey Brains

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Neurobiologists have shown that brain signals from multiple animals can be combined to perform certain tasks better than a single brain

Mike Orcutt reports: New research proves that two heads are indeed better than one, at least at performing certain simple computational tasks.

The work demonstrates for the first time that multiple animal brains can be networked and harnessed to perform a specific behavior, says Miguel Nicolelis, a professor of neurobiology and biomedical engineering at Duke University and an expert in brain-machine interfaces.

wired-monkey-brains

“Even though the monkeys didn’t know they were collaborating, their brains became synchronized very quickly, and over time they got better and better at moving the arm.”

He says this type of “shared brain-machine interface” could potentially be useful for patients with brain damage, in addition to shedding light on how animal brains work together to perform collective behaviors.

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Networked Monkey Brains Could Help Disabled Humans

Nicolelis and his colleagues published two separate studies today, one involving rats and the other involving monkeys, that describe experiments on networks of brains and illustrate how such “brainets” could be used to combine electrical outputs from the neurons of multiple animals to perform tasks. The rat brain networks often performed better than a BRAINS-BLENDsingle brain can, they report, and in the monkey experiment the brains of three individuals “collaborated” to complete a virtual reality-based task too complicated for a single one to perform.

“In the monkey experiment, the researchers combined two or three brains to perform a virtual motor task in three dimensions. After implanting electrodes, they used rewards to train individual monkeys to move a virtual arm to a target on a screen.”

To build a brain network, the researchers first implant microwire electrode arrays that can record signals as well as deliver pulses of electrical stimulation to neurons in the same region in multiple rat brains.

“An individual monkey brain does not have the capacity to move the arm in three dimensions, says Nicolelis, so each monkey learned to manipulate the arm within a certain ‘subspace’ of the virtual 3-D space.”

In the case of the rat experiment, they then physically linked pairs of rat brains via a “brain-to-brain interface” (see “Rats Communicate Through Brain Chips”). Once groups of three or four rats were interconnected, the researchers delivered prescribed electrical pulses to individual rats, portions of the group, or the whole group, and recorded the outputs.

[Read the full text here, at MIT Technology Review]

The researchers tested the ability of rat brain networks to perform basic computing tasks. For example, by delivering electrical pulse patterns derived from a digital image, they recorded the electrical outputs and measured how well the network of neurons processed that image. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA Picks Four Astronauts to Fly First Commercial Space Missions

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“These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars.”

— NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has selected four veteran astronauts to lead the way back into orbit from U.S. soil.

On Thursday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the four who will fly on capsules built by private companies — SpaceX and Boeing. Each astronaut has test pilot experience and has flown twice in space.

The commercial crew astronauts are: Air Force Col. Robert Behnken, until recently head of the astronaut office; Air Force Col. Eric Boe, part of shuttle Discovery’s last crew; retired Marine Col. Douglas Hurley, pilot of the final shuttle crew; and Navy Capt. Sunita Williams, a two-time resident of the International Space Station.

“These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars,” Bolden said on his blog.

SpaceX and Boeing are aiming for test flights to the space station by 2017. It will be the first launch of astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida, since the space shuttles retired in 2011.

In the meantime, NASA has been paying Russia tens of millions of dollars per ride on Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts; the latest tab is $76 million.

Bolden noted that the average cost on an American-owned spacecraft will be $58 million per astronaut, and each mission will carry a crew of four versus three, in addition to science experiments.

The four — who will work closely with the companies to develop their spacecraft — range in age from 44 to 50, and have been astronauts for at least 15 years. Each attended test pilot school; Williams specializes in helicopters. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Mercury Atlas Launch Vehicle

Mercury Atlas

Mercury Atlas launch vehicle

by Ian E. Abbott


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