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New Turbulence Models Could Predict Galaxy Formation

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 10:15 AM PDT

A new set of equations can make sense of the physics behind turbulence, letting scientists better understand weather and the ways galaxies form.

Rippling Out

Scientists found a way to make sense of particularly chaotic events in nature.

Thanks to a new set of equations for modeling turbulence, scientists can now better predict things like how galaxies form in distant space, complex weather patterns here on Earth, and nuclear fusion. According to the research, published this Spring in the journal Physical Review Letters, turbulence may start out chaotic but then falls into a more uniform pattern that scientists can readily model and understand.

Simple Equations

The University of Rochester scientists behind the study created massive simulations of turbulence using the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s supercomputer before they eventually arrived at a simple set of equations that could describe the patterns of turbulence.

The key was realizing that turbulence tends to behave similarly as it moves outwards regardless of what caused it in the first place.

“This loss of memory makes those structures at the small scales behave in a universal fashion,” said Rochester mechanical engineer Hussein Aluie in a press release.

Applied Systems

Equipped with the equations, meteorologists could make better sense of weather patterns on Earth and improve their predictions. In addition, astronomers may be able to make better sense of how stars and galaxies come together.

“You can use it theoretically, you can use it with numerical simulations, and apply it on observations from experiments or even from satellites,” Aluie said. “It is very versatile.”

READ MORE: Proposed set of conservation laws find order in the chaos of turbulence [University of Rochester via Phys.org]

More on chaos: New Equation Explains Quantum Chaos

The post New Turbulence Models Could Predict Galaxy Formation appeared first on Futurism.

Amazon’s Re:Mars AI Conference Was Like a “Cloud Computing Cult”

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 09:34 AM PDT

Amazon's re:MARS conference for emerging artificial intelligence technology was more of a thinly-veiled advertisement for Amazon's own goals.

Targeted Ads

Earlier this month, Amazon hosted its re:MARS artificial intelligence conference that showcased emerging tech like tiny autonomous vehicles and robotic prosthetic limbs.

But the event, celebrated as a glimpse into the future of technology, may have actually been a thinly-veiled advertisement for the future of Amazon, according to The Verge. After walking the floor and attending the events, The Verge‘s James Vincent wrote that nearly every problem facing tech developers today had the same suggested solution: use Amazon’s services.

Digital Infrastructure

No matter how sophisticated the showcased technology may have been, the glimmer of technological progress was largely overshadowed by – as ZDNet described – Amazon’s attempt to position itself as an AI leader and a necessary business partner for anyone else developing AI.

No matter what big, lofty goals techno-optimists have for the future — whether its cleaning the oceans, improving crop yields, or settling the cosmos — an attendee would walk away thinking that Amazon Web Services, the company’s web developer and cloud computing package, is the best way to get there.

“The answer to all of these questions was invariably the same: use AWS,” wrote Vincent in The Verge. “This mantra was so consistent that it felt like we were being indoctrinated in a cloud computing cult.”

To Infinity

Throughout the event, Bezos spoke at length about his goal to push humanity out into space, even joking about an Amazon warehouse on the Moon. As The Verge reports, the technology demonstrated through re:MARS was impressive, but all of it seemed singularly orchestrated to further Amazon’s own technological conquest.

READ MORE: I WELCOMED OUR NEW ROBOT OVERLORDS AT AMAZON'S FIRST AI CONFERENCE [The Verge]

More on re:MARS: Amazon AI Conference is Meant to Inspire — And Boost its Reputation

The post Amazon’s Re:Mars AI Conference Was Like a “Cloud Computing Cult” appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk Compares Rocket Rides to Disney Roller Coaster

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 09:18 AM PDT

Elon Musk took to Twitter to compare an Earth-to-Earth trip aboard SpaceX's powerful Starship rocket to a ride on Disney's Space Mountain roller coaster.

Very High Roller

On Wednesday, Elon Musk took to Twitter to answer users’ questions about Starship, the massive rocket SpaceX plans to use to deliver humans to Mars.

When asked about the company’s other intention for the spacecraft formerly known as the Big Falcon Rocket — transporting people from one part of Earth to another in under an hour — he responded with an unexpected analogy, comparing a trip aboard the powerful rocket to a ride on Disney’s Space Mountain roller coaster.

Better Hold It

Musk’s series of tweets reveals that SpaceX plans to fit about 1,000 passengers on Starship for Earth-to-Earth trips — that number will drop to 100 for Mars-bound excursions. Everyone will have “coach” seat, and they better use the restroom and grab a snack before boarding because the rocket won’t have toilets or a food galley.

“Most flights would only be 15 to 20 mins,” Musk wrote. “It's basically an ICBM traveling at Mach 25 that lands,” a reference to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Mr. Musk’s Wild Ride

The Disney shout-out came after a Twitter user asked Musk if Starship passengers would be allowed to walk around while in flight.

“That would be unwise,” Musk replied. “Probably needs a restraint mechanism like Disney's Space Mountain roller coaster. Would feel similar to Space Mountain in a lot of ways, but you'd exit on another continent.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk says flying passengers round the world in his Big Falcon Rocket would feel a lot like Disney’s Space Mountain [Business Insider]

More on Starship: Elon Musk Has a Plan to Get You Anywhere on Earth in An Hour

The post Elon Musk Compares Rocket Rides to Disney Roller Coaster appeared first on Futurism.

Robot Arm Uses Bacteria in Its Fingers to “Taste” Its Environment

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 08:46 AM PDT

By embedding engineered bacteria into the fingers of a robot arm, researchers have created a biohybrid bot that can "taste" for certain chemicals.

Bacterial Taste Buds

By embedding engineered bacteria into the fingers of a robot arm, researchers have created a biohybrid bot that can “taste” — and they think it could lead to a future in which robots are better equipped to respond to the world around them.

For their study, which was published in the journal Science Robotics on Wednesday, a team from the University of California, Davis, and Carnegie Mellon University engineered E. coli bacteria to produce a fluorescent protein when it encountered the chemical IPTG.

They then placed the engineered bacteria into wells built into a robot arm’s flexible grippers. Finally, they covered the wells with a porous membrane that would keep the bacteria in place while letting liquids reach the cells.

Glowing Review

To test the system, the researchers had the arm reach into a water bath that sometimes contained IPTG.

If the chemical was present, the bacteria would glow, and this light would trigger electronic circuits to send a signal to the gripper's control unit, letting it know not to place an item in the bath. But if the system didn’t detect the chemical, it knew it was safe to drop the item in the liquid.

“By combining our work in flexible electronics and robotic skin with synthetic biology,” researcher Carmel Majidi said a press release, “we are closer to future breakthroughs like soft biohybrid robots that can adapt their abilities to sense, feel, and move in response to changes in their environmental conditions.”

READ MORE: Robot Arm Tastes With Engineered Bacteria [UC Davis]

More on robot arms: New Mind-Controlled Robot Arm First to Work Without Brain Implant

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New Laser Can Identify People From a Distance By Their Heartbeat

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 08:33 AM PDT

The U.S. Special Forces are developing a device that can detect a person's unique cardiac signature using an IR laser from a distance.

Jetson Laser

The U.S. Special Forces are developing a device that can detect a person’s unique cardiac signature using an IR laser from a distance. The Pentagon’s special project nicknamed “Jetson” can work from a 200 meter distance — improved versions could enable even longer distances.

Steward Remaly, of the Pentagon's Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office who worked on the project, claims that the device is accurate over 95 percent of the time according to MIT Technology Review — that is, if the conditions are right.

Infrared — like the heart rate sensor on an Apple Watch — can pick up on the changes in how much light is reflected in a blood stream and can infer a person’s pulse from that. Jetson, however, analyzes tiny vibrations on the surface of the skin to detect a heartbeat — and that works just as well through a layer of clothing.

Better Biometric

That means it’s useful in situations when a biometric facial recognition system fails to get a good view of a target’s face. “Compared with face, cardiac biometrics are more stable and can reach more than 98% accuracy, Remaly told MIT Technology Review.

While the technology is impressive, the device takes about 30 seconds to get a good read. That means a target needs to be either sitting or standing still.

The U.S. armed forces would also need to start creating a cardiac signature database from scratch for the device to be of any use.

READ MORE: The Pentagon has a laser that can identify people from a distance—by their heartbeat [MIT Technology Review]

More on lasers: The World’s Strongest Laser is About to Simulate a Supernova

The post New Laser Can Identify People From a Distance By Their Heartbeat appeared first on Futurism.

Naturally-Occurring “Mystical” Psychedelic Found in Mammal Brains

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 08:30 AM PDT

Researchers from the University of Michigan found widespread traces of naturally-occurring dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in the mammalian brain.

Natural Ayahuasca

Researchers from the University of Michigan found widespread traces of naturally-occurring dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in lab rat brains.

It’s same substance that’s found in Ayahuasca, a concoction used by indigenous peoples from the Amazon basin as part of their hallucinogenic religious ceremonies.

Jimo Borjigin, PhD at the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, who co-authored the paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, got the idea to look for the substance from a mid-1990s documentary that explored the effect of DMT IV injections on the brain.

And the results surprised them. Using a special DNA localization technique, “we found brain neurons with the two enzymes required to make DMT,” Borjigin said in a statement.

“They are also found in other parts of the brain, including the neocortex and hippocampus that are important for higher-order brain functions including learning and memory,” she added.

Insane in the Membrane

And that’s not all. Borjigin and her team also found that levels of DMT increased in some rats that were about to die from a heart attack, suggesting that the substance could possibly simulate near death experiences.

“We don’t know what it’s doing in the brain,” said Borjigin. All we’re saying is we discovered the neurons that make this chemical in the brain, and they do so at levels similar to other monoamine neurotransmitters.”

READ MORE: ‘Mystical’ psychedelic compound found in normal brains [University of Michigan]

More on hallucinogenics: Magic Mushrooms Could Replace Antidepressants

The post Naturally-Occurring “Mystical” Psychedelic Found in Mammal Brains appeared first on Futurism.

Dangerous Debris From India’s Exploded Satellite Still Orbiting Earth

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 07:36 AM PDT

Six weeks after Indian authorities promised all of the debris created by their missile test was burned up in the atmosphere, 41 out of 400 pieces remain.

Controversial Missile Test

When Indian authorities shot down a satellite with a missile on March 27, they estimated that the remains of the satellite would decay within 45 days. But that’s not quite what happened.

Six weeks later — past that promised date — astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics are still tracking some 41 debris objects left out of 400 originally identified in Earth’s orbit. And for it all to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, it would take at least another “year or so,” as the Independent reports.

Making matters worse, some 24 pieces of debris ascended to an altitude above the International Space Station's 250 miles-high location, posing an "unacceptable" threat to the astronauts on board.

“The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs wrote on its website. "Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks."

A “Terrible Thing”

The controversial missile test was hailed as a big success by India’s Prime Minister. "India is now a major space power," said Narendra Modi at the time, according to local news. "India has achieved a big feat today."

But NASA was not impressed to say the least. “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a town hall in April.

“That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.”

READ MORE: Debris from satellite blown up by India still flying around Earth, six weeks after Delhi claimed it should have decayed [The Independent]

More on the satellite test: India Blew up a Satellite. Now A "Space Fence" Is Tracking Its Debris

The post Dangerous Debris From India’s Exploded Satellite Still Orbiting Earth appeared first on Futurism.

“Climate Apartheid” Is Imminent. Only the Rich Will Survive.

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 06:58 AM PDT

If our climate crisis continues unchecked, the global poor will face the greatest burden while the rich pay to escape the problem altogether.

“Climate Apartheid”

If our global climate change catastrophe continues unchecked, vast swaths of the world will likely become harsher and far less hospitable for humanity.

When that happens, an even greater rift will appear between the global haves and have-nots, as many people will be left without the means to escape the worst effects of the climate crisis, according to a new report published Tuesday by the U.N.’s Human Rights Council that describes an impending “climate apartheid.”

While the rich hire private firefighters or move to more expensive habitable areas, the report predicts that 120 million people will be pushed into poverty by 2030 by climate change. Many more will die.

Unequal Distribution

The report describes how the poorest 3.5 billion people in the world are responsible for ten percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the richest ten percent of the global population is responsible for half.

“Perversely, the richest, who have the greatest capacity to adapt and are responsible for and have benefitted from the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, will be the best placed to cope with climate change,” U.N. poverty and human rights official Philip Alston wrote in the report, “while the poorest, who have contributed the least to emissions and have the least capacity to react, will be the most harmed.”

Pay To Win

In the report, Alston writes how the wealthy’s access to lifesaving resources has caused humanity to adapt to the climate crisis in the wrong direction — instead of acting to prevent or reverse the worst of climate change, the rich can afford to personally avoid the problem.

“An over-reliance on the private sector could lead to a climate apartheid scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer,” writes Alston.

READ MORE: ‘Climate apartheid’ to push 120 million into poverty by 2030, UN says [CNN]

More on climate change: Doomsday Report Author: Earth’s Leaders Have Failed

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You Won’t Be Able to Tell This House Is Made From Plastic Bottles

Posted: 27 Jun 2019 06:28 AM PDT

JD Composites used more than 600,000 recycled plastic bottles to construct this beachfront home in Meteghan River, Nova Scotia.

Bottles, Baby

At first glance, the newly constructed beachfront home in Meteghan River, Nova Scotia, looks like any other. It has a kitchen, three bedrooms, a pair of bathrooms, a roof…

But while the house’s appearance is unremarkable, the structure is wholly unique — because JD Composites built it from more than 600,000 recycled plastic bottles.

“There are four major companies building this material in the world,” company co-owner David Saulnier told CBC News, “and they've told me that we're the only people, on planet Earth, that have done this so far.”

Little Plastic Castle

The material is called PET (polyethylene terephthalate) foam, and the first step to creating it is heating shredded plastic to form tiny plastic pellets.

“All of these pellets go into big vats, and it goes into a building the size of Walmart,” JD Composites co-owner Joel German told The Hants Journal. “Four guys operate this plant and they dump it into a hopper. It gets mixed with gases. It melts it down and makes it come out in a foam, like shaving cream it expands on the way out."

Once cool, the foam is incredibly durable, so it made the perfect building material for the green home, which the team plans to list on Airbnb if it doesn’t sell.

“The house is rot resistant, mildew resistant, termite resistant in warmer climates,” Saulnier told Hants. “It's just an efficient, structurally insulated panel made with green material.”

READ MORE: This house was built using 600,000 recycled plastic bottles [CBC News]

More on plastic bottles: You're Probably Drinking Microplastics With Your Bottled Water

The post You Won't Be Able to Tell This House Is Made From Plastic Bottles appeared first on Futurism.

These Nootropics Are at the Cutting Edge of Boosting Human Brainpower

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:47 PM PDT

The nootropics supplement that works.

Nootropics have been getting a lot of press recently, but not always for the right reasons. A lot of companies have been putting so-called "smart drugs" in all sorts of supplements and making pretty wild claims about what they can do, prompting both the FDA and the FTC to warn consumers about potential marketing scams and advertising fraud. That said, while you certainly shouldn't believe everything you read on the Internet, you also shouldn't let the frauds scare you away, because the science behind nootropics is real. While these substances won't make you a genius or cure Alzheimer's, studies show a nootropics supplement can boost cognitive performance, particularly executive functions like focus, memory, willpower, and creativity. You just need to find a company you can trust. And one such company is the California-based Neurohacker Collective, whose Qualia Focus and Qualia Mind are quite possibly the best nootropics supplements available anywhere in the world.

To put it simply, nootropics are amino acids, nutrients, minerals, and other compounds that the brain uses as fuel for cognition. Most of the time we get nootropics through our diet. However, the modern Western diet has steered away from most of these obscure plants, roots, seeds, and minerals with some of the most commonly reported brain boosting powers: plants like rhodiola, bacopa, celastrus seed extract, and many more.

But a nootropic formulator can't just take a "kitchen sink" approach. Formulating effective nootropic formulations is an art. Most companies just throw a bunch of these ingredients together and call it a miracle drug, when in reality, it's a deep understanding of the precise relationship between the dosage of each ingredient that creates a balanced, positive effect.

Neurohacker Collective, which boasts a heavily credentialed lineup of established science and medical personnel on their team, pride themselves in pioneering whole systems science formulations. The field of whole system science studies the interrelation between all body systems, rather than spiking activity of one capacity (focus for example) at the expense of another, such as empathy.

Neurohacker Collective has used thousands of hours of research and development with pioneering whole systems and complex systems modeling, neurobiology, and organic chemistry to create nootropics supplements specifically designed to fuel neurotransmission, build neurons and synapses, and repair cell walls. Their Qualia supplements comes in two different strengths, but both will help you feel focused, clear-headed, and ready to take on any task.

Qualia Focus Nootropics Supplement

Qualia Focus is a nootropics supplement from the Neurohacker Collective.
Neurohacker.com

Qualia Focus is what you might call Neurohacker Collective's introductory nootropic supplement. It's a fast-acting blend of five nootropic compounds, seven neuro-vitamins, six adaptogen extracts, five amino acids, and one choline donor. These ingredients promote neuron and synapse development, neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, energy, healthy cell structure, and cerebral blood flow. And unlike some supplements, Qualia Focus won't leave you prone to jitters or sudden crashes.

Qualia Mind

Qualia Focus is a nootropics supplement that works to improve your brain power.
Neurohacker.com

Qualia Mind is based on the same principles and is very similar to Qualia Focus. However, Qualia Mind has a few extra ingredients, increased dosages, and additional nutrient synergies not found in Qualia Focus. It features six nootropic compounds, seven neuro-vitamins, two antioxidants, six adaptogen extracts, five amino acids, and two choline donors. The key additions are PQQ, Phosphatidylserine, DHA, and CDP-Choline, which improve responsiveness to neurotransmitters and the formation of synaptic connections in the neurons used for memory. Thus, Qualia Mind nootropics supplement provides more robust support for attention and focus in stressful or demanding situations.

So which supplement should you take? Ultimately it depends on your specific needs. Qualia Focus is lower impact but more affordable. Qualia Mind is a more comprehensive supplement but also more expensive.

Whichever way you decide to go, the best thing about Neurohacker Collective is their commitment to quality and transparency. Want a full breakdown of every single ingredient and what it does? Click here. Want to figure out exactly how well Qualia is working for you? Your first purchase comes with free before-and-after cognitive assessments from Cambridge Brain Sciences, whose assessments have been cited in over 300 academic publications. If you are not completely satisfied with your results, Neurohacker Collective offers a 100-day money back guarantee.

But the chances you will need to use that money back guarantee are very slim. According to initial results from a pilot study conducted by Cambridge Brain Sciences, most Qualia Mind users experienced an 85.4 percent increase in their ability to concentrate and avoid distractions, a 37.7 percent increase in planning skills, a 16.9 percent increase in verbal reasoning, and a 13.3 percent increase in short-term memory.

So if you're looking for a nootropics supplement that works, Click here to read more about Qualia Focus and Qualia Mind.

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with an affiliate partner. We may collect a small commission on items purchased through this page. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.




The post These Nootropics Are at the Cutting Edge of Boosting Human Brainpower appeared first on Futurism.

Scientists: Entangled Radiation May Help Build “Quantum Internet”

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:46 PM PDT

For the first time, scientists generated entangled radiation using a mechanical object. They're describing it as the first step toward a quantum internet.

Quantum Switch

To work, quantum computers have to be freezing cold, which makes connecting them to one another a challenge.

Now, for the first time, a team of researchers has found a way to create entangled radiation using a physical object — a move that could help connect future quantum computer systems to the outside world.

“What we have built is a prototype for a quantum link,” Shabir Barzanjeh, the engineer who led the project, said in a press release. “The oscillator that we have built has brought us one step closer to a quantum internet.”

Interconnectivity

According to the research, which was published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the Institute of Science and Technology Austria scientists produced entangled radiation using a 30-micrometer-long piece of silicon.

That’s small for practical purposes — an average hair is 50 micrometers long — but huge compared to the scale of quantum experiments.

Eventually, this radiation could be used to send information between future quantum computers and external data centers, similarly to how classical computer networks use light radiation to send information along fiber optic cables, according to the press release.

READ MORE: Building a bridge to the quantum world [IST Austria]

More on quantum computers: The World's First Practical Quantum Computer May Be Just Five Years Away

The post Scientists: Entangled Radiation May Help Build “Quantum Internet” appeared first on Futurism.

“Aggression Detectors” Monitoring Students Don’t Really Work

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:38 PM PDT

To prevent shootings, schools and public places are installing "aggression detectors" for monitoring students for angry behavior before it becomes violence.

Listen Carefully

At what point does a shout indicate anger, does a scream indicate fear of danger? And can the fine line between them be pinpointed by a microphone on the ceiling?

ProPublica published a report that sought to answer these questions — and discovered that the current “aggression detectors” on the market are not very effective at determining anger in voices.

Developed by Sound Intelligence, the monitors are fixed in public spaces like hallways and cafeterias, listening for shouts or tension — and for an extra added price, they’ll listen for gunshots, car alarms, and even recognize if “students are vaping in the school bathroom.”

As mass shootings continue to target schools, churches, hospitals, and other public places worldwide, surveillance tech companies are developing AI-packed microphones that can listen in on us and point out an angry student or snubbed employee before the worst occurs.

Hall Monitor

ProPublica visited the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens and enlisted students’ help with testing the monitoring system’s effectiveness and the results were… not encouraging.

One student let out a glass-shattering scream in a silent library, which didn’t set off the detector, but a sick student coughing through a chest cold did. During another test, when the students cheered on a pizza delivery or were playing a calm game of Pictionary, the detector went haywire with warnings.

The machine learning algorithm within the device picks up on high-pitched, strained noises but doesn’t analyze the words or meaning of what the person is saying. When it detects aggression, a message will pop up declaring “StressedVoice detected.”

A spokesman for California-based Louroe Electronics, which develops surveillance microphones, told ProPublica that the devices wouldn’t be intruding on student privacy since it only focuses on “sound patterns deemed aggressive,” and yet, the microphones on the monitors record everything, allowing school administrators to “replay those snippets of conversation indefinitely.”

 

All Ears for Aggression

The detection software is meant to enable security officers to "engage antagonistic individuals immediately, resolving the conflict before it turns into physical violence." But if the monitor misfires and picks up a student in distress, or a hospital crying out in pain, the officers will be overloaded with false positives.

According to ProPublica, there is a massive market for surveillance products in schools, with one projection showing a $2.7 billion market for “education security products” — and last year, U.S. congress approved more than $25 million to go toward school security improvements.

Wendy Shirey, principal of Pinecrest Academy Horizon — a charter school in Henderson, Nevada, spoke with ProPublica about the two detectors installed in her school (upgraded with the gunshot-detection add on). Shirley also wears a panic button around her neck that can call the police from one click. “It's always after an event that something happens before we talk about solutions,” Shirey said. “But why not get in front of it? We have to adapt to the world as it is.”

READ MORE: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students [ProPublica]

Read more on surveillance in schools: State Attempts to Nix Public School's Facial Recognition Plans

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A Neural Net Used a Viral Meme to Learn to Navigate

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:34 PM PDT

Google scientists trained a neural net to better navigate spaces with an archive of thousands of "Mannequin Challenge" videos.

Hold Still

Robots are learning how to navigate rooms better than ever before, thanks to thousands of videos of people doing the viral “Mannequin Challenge” meme, in which they hold a pose as still as possible while a camera moves around the room.

Google AI developers taught a neural net to predict the depth of objects in videos after feeding it thousands of Mannequin Challenge videos, reports MIT Technology Review. It’s a bizarre example of how something that began as a whimsical, viral challenge is now furthering advanced scientific research.

Open Source

To train the neural net, which is described in research first shared to the preprint server ArXiv in April, the scientists took the Mannequin Challenge videos and converted them to still images with labels for the distances among people and objects.

Then the scientists released their dataset to other researchers, MIT Tech Review reports. That means that the mediocre Mannequin Challenge video your office uploaded to YouTube could actually help robots learn to make their way through the world.

READ MORE: If you did the Mannequin Challenge, you are now advancing robotics research [MIT Technology Review]

More on navigation: Amazon is Unleashing Its Own Army of Delivery Robots

The post A Neural Net Used a Viral Meme to Learn to Navigate appeared first on Futurism.

Who the Hell Is Using the World’s 5,000 Crypto ATMs?

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:33 PM PDT

The number of crypto ATMs worldwide passed the 5,000 mark this month, which begs the question, who the hell is actually using these things?

Multiplying Machines

The world’s first cryptocurrency ATM opened for business in a Canadian coffee shop on October 29, 2013, and by the end of the day, 81 people had visited the novel machine to trade their cash for bitcoin or vice versa.

This month, the number of crypto ATMs worldwide passed the 5,000 mark, according to data from CoinATMRadar, which begs the question: Who the hell is actually using these things?

Crypto ATMs

Based on CoinATMRadar’s data, the most basic answer to that question is “Americans.”

Roughly 80 nations now boast at least one crypto ATM, but with 3,177 machines, the U.S. is home to the vast majority. In fact, it has nearly three times as many crypto ATMs as the next three countries — Canada (680), Austria (263), and the United Kingdom (245) — combined.

The reason people visit these ATMs varies by nation, and that also yields insights into their user demographics

“In the U.S., our clients predominantly use our machines to buy bitcoin,” Matias Goldenhörn, director of Latin America operations for ATM operator Athena Bitcoin, told CoinDesk in January. "In Colombia for example, it's the other way around, people use the ATM to withdraw cash.”

Scam Stations

So, based on all that, it appears the people most likely to use crypto ATMs are Americans with at least enough money to invest some of it in crypto.

But the machines have also drawn another user demographic: scam victims.

In November, Kath Anderson, assistant commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), warned Australians that scammers had been using “aggressive tactics” to convince people they owed a tax debt. Their favorite means of receiving payment? Crypto ATMs.

And that’s just one of the ways scammers are using the machines. As pointed out in an Athena Bitcoin blog post, bad actors are also impersonating the Social Security Administration and various utilities companies and then demanding debt payment via crypto ATM.

“Scammers using Bitcoin will often ‘helpfully’ point out nearby ATMs from which you can send them money,” Athena wrote, noting that these scammers “like Bitcoin because transactions cannot be cancelled, reversed, or otherwise refunded once broadcast.”

READ MORE: There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around the World [CoinTelegraph]

More on crypto scams: Researchers Inadvertently Discover Crypto Scam Involving 15,000 Twitter Bots

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This Minuscule Robotic Bee Only Uses Solar Energy to Fly

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:30 PM PDT

Harvard's RoboBee X-Wing takes the RoboBee to the next level by sporting solar cells and an extra pair of wings for more stable flight.

RoboBee X-Wing

Researchers at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab have come up with the latest version of their astonishing RoboBee. Introducing: the RoboBee X-Wing — that’s the robot’s nickname.

The RoboBee is a minuscule robot that’s inspired by, you guessed it, the biology of a bee. It used to have just two wings and weigh less than one-tenth of a gram. But so far, it had to rely on a tether for power, enabling it to fly.

The RoboBee X-Wing takes it to the next level by sporting solar cells and an extra pair of wings for more stable and mostly autonomous flight.

A Short Flight

But there is one big caveat: it can only sustain flight for a measly half a second — with special lights shining down on it from above — since it can’t really lug a battery around as that would make it heavier many times over.

"Moving from two wings to four wings was really a factor of, how do we increase our lift without also increasing our power consumption," Harvard engineer E. Farrell Helbling, who worked on the robot and coauthored the study published by Nature today, told Wired.

The news comes after a team of engineers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles built a four-winged flying robot called Bee+ earlier this year, which weighs considerably more (95 grams), but sports a footprint smaller than a penny.

READ MORE: What Could Possibly Be Cooler Than RoboBee? RoboBee X-Wing [Wired]

The post This Minuscule Robotic Bee Only Uses Solar Energy to Fly appeared first on Futurism.

Has a Space War Between US, China, Russia Already Started?

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:23 PM PDT

America, Russia, and China already frequently commit acts of "gray-area aggression" against each other in outer space as they toe the line of warfare.

Star War

America, Russia, China, and now India, all have the capability to fight a war in outer space, and may have already started to do so.

While there’s been no declaration of World War III or anything of the like, major spacefaring nations have all been increasingly aggressive with military and surveillance operations in space, according to MIT Technology Review. These strategic moves toe the line of what could be considered aggression or an act of war.

“Low-Level”

MIT Tech Review describes accounts of U.S. satellites spying on other nations, Russian hackers interfering with satellite communications, and China engaging in what looked like drills for anti-satellite strikes — all occurrences that are becoming normal in an increasingly-militarized and crowded space.

“It’s happening all the time at this low level, Todd Harrison, the head of aerospace security at the think tank CSIS, told MIT Tech Review. “It’s more gray-zone aggression. Countries are pushing the limits of accepted behavior and challenging norms. They’re staying below the threshold of conflict.”

Space Force

As other countries ramp up their space military capabilities, America has actually fallen behind — a fact that could change if Trump gets his desired Space Force.

“Today, we are not adequately prepared for such a conflict, and our lack of preparation undermines deterrence and makes conflict in space more likely,” Harrison told MIT Tech Review.

READ MORE: How to fight a war in space (and get away with it) [MIT Technology Review]

More on space conflict: NATO Plans to Launch Its Strategy for Militarizing Space This Week

The post Has a Space War Between US, China, Russia Already Started? appeared first on Futurism.

This NASA AR Space Mug Lets You View Earth From on Board the ISS

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:49 AM PDT

The NASA AR Space Mug & Notebook Bundle are out of this world fun.

Space: Many of us are fascinated by it, but few of us will likely ever get to visit for ourselves. The budding space tourism industry notwithstanding, those of us who’ve been bitten by the space bug but don’t quite have the constitution for astronaut training are fairly limited in our options. But for a limited time, you can get a NASA AR Space Mug & Notebook Bundle from Astro Reality that lets you explore our solar system through augmented reality

NASA AR Space Mug & Notebook Bundle

The NASA AR Space Mug is a must have for space lovers.
Stack Social

First up, there’s the Astro Reality NASA AR Notebook. On the outside, its classic “worm”-style NASA logo and nifty white plastic covering makes it look like something astronauts would use to jot down private thoughts while in the cold, unforgiving vacuum of space. This notebook can and should be used in the traditional pen-to-paper manner, but it’s also loaded with augmented reality features that can be accessed through Astro Reality’s own AR app – you just scan the cover of the notebook and you’re ready for blast-off. Using your smartphone, you’ll be able to discover an interactive, three-dimensional replica of the solar system we call home, as well as an interactive guide to NASA’s illustrious 50-year history. It’s an immersive, educational AR experience that’s perfect for anyone with an interest in space.

The NASA AR Notebook delivers the goods in the paper department as well, with high-quality acid-free pages and practical, premium binding that allows the notebook to spread out to a full 180 degrees on a flat surface. This is a notebook that was designed to be used, not just sit on a shelf. And it’s built to last — it’s spaceproof (or at least waterproof), and should be able to handle whatever hazards it’s likely to encounter here on Earth.

The second piece of the bundle is the NASA AR Space Mug. It comes in a spacey plastic canister, but once opened, the unusually shaped mug reveals itself. That unusual shape serves a purpose, since this mug is also AR-enhanced. When you direct the AR app to the top of the mug, you’ll see it transformed into an almost supernatural portal to the Earth as it looks from on board the International Space Station. Bored with the view? That’s no problem, because the AR experience is completely interactive and customizable, allowing you to see the Earth from almost any orbital position you can think of. It isn’t easy to describe in a way that does it justice, so just watch the video below to get an idea of how the cup works:

Pretty cool, right? And you can even drink out of it!

The bundle comes in its own special protective case, and deliveries to the contiguous United States are slated to begin in early July. So order your NASA AR Space Mug & Notebook today, and get an astronauts view of the planet and beyond.

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with an affiliate partner. We may collect a small commission on items purchased through this page. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

The post This NASA AR Space Mug Lets You View Earth From on Board the ISS appeared first on Futurism.

SpaceIL Kills Second Moon Landing Attempt, Teases New “Objective”

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:33 AM PDT

Israel-based startup SpaceIL has decided that April's failed Moon mission was actually a success — and that it's time to move on to the next challenge.

New Perspective

SpaceIL didn’t seem too discouraged after its first attempt to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon ended in disaster, announcing just two days later that it would make a second attempt.

But now that the Israel-based startup has had some time to think, it’s decided that April’s Moon mission was actually a success — and that it’s time to move on to the next challenge.

Changing Course

The company shared its plan to change direction via Twitter on Tuesday.

“This time, we will not go to the moon,” SpaceIL tweeted. “Beresheet’s journey to the Moon was already received as a successful, record-breaking journey. Instead we will seek out another, significant objective for Beresheet 2.0. More details to follow…”

So Close

Had the Beresheet mission gone as planned, SpaceIL would’ve become the first private company to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. At the same time, it would’ve earned Israel a spot in the history books as just the fourth nation to do so, after the U.S., Russia, and China.

Seems we should know soon whether SpaceIL’s new mission is equally meaningful.

READ MORE: Israeli team will no longer send a second spacecraft to the Moon [The Verge]

More on SpaceIL: After Failed Moon Landing, Israel Vows to Try Again

The post SpaceIL Kills Second Moon Landing Attempt, Teases New “Objective” appeared first on Futurism.

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