SuitSat Might Be The Creepiest Satellite Ever

by Amy Shira Teitel, Popular Science

WHY A WORN OUT SPACE SUIT GOT AN ORBITAL BURIAL

On February 3, 2006, commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev stepped outside the ISS for a spacewalk. Cameras gave audiences watching the live feed on NASA TV a view of the men working, half obscured by solar panels. Then the cameras showed a body floating off into space. Tokarev nonchalantly bid adieu to his untethered colleague with an unceremonious “Goodbye, Mr. Smith.” The figure might have looked like a man, but it wasn’t. It was Suitsat, which is perhaps the creepiest satellite of all time.

The story of Suitsat can’t be told without the story of the Orlan spacesuit. Continue reading SuitSat Might Be The Creepiest Satellite Ever

Study reveals substantial evidence of holographic universe

by Niayesh Afshordi, PHYS.ORG

A sketch of the timeline of the holographic Universe. Time runs from left to right. The far left denotes the holographic phase and the image is blurry because space and time are not yet well defined. At the end of this phase (denoted by the black fluctuating ellipse) the Universe enters a geometric phase, which can now be described by Einstein’s equations. The cosmic microwave background was emitted about 375,000 years later. Patterns imprinted in it carry information about the very early Universe and seed the development of structures of stars and galaxies in the late time Universe (far right). Credit: Paul McFadden

A UK, Canadian and Italian study has provided what researchers believe is the first observational evidence that our universe could be a vast and complex hologram. Continue reading Study reveals substantial evidence of holographic universe

D-Wave’s quantum computers take a quantum leap forward, now offer 2,000 qubits

by Joel Hruska, ExtremeTech

Over the past few years, quantum computer manufacturer D-Wave has been rolling out hardware capable of increasingly complex tasks and solving more advanced types of problems. This week, it unveiled a new system capable of entangling up to 2,000 qubits.

The D-Wave 2000Q has 2,048 qubits; a substantial increase over the 1,000-qubit D-Wave 2X. Equally important, the $15 million-dollar computer has a first customer — Temporal Defense Systems, which will use the machine “to solve some of the most critical and complex cyber security problems impacting governments and commercial enterprises.” The terms of the deal also give TDS an upgrade path to future “QPUs” (quantum processing units, natch). Continue reading D-Wave’s quantum computers take a quantum leap forward, now offer 2,000 qubits

Fooling The Machine

by Dave Gershgorn, Popular Science

The Byzantine Science of Deceiving Artificial Intelligence

In the early 1900s, Wilhelm von Osten, a German horse trainer and mathematician, told the world that his horse could do math. For years, Von Osten traveled Germany giving demonstrations of this phenomenon. He would ask his horse, Clever Hans, to compute simple equations. In response, Hans would tap his hoof for the correct answer. Two plus two? Four taps. Continue reading Fooling The Machine

These artificial cells are not alive – but they just passed the Turing test

by Bec Crew, Science Alert

They’re communicating with bacteria

Scientists have built artificial cells that are so life-like, they’ve tricked natural cells into thinking they’re communicating with one of their own.

This twist on the classic Turing test means that not only can our robots fool humans into thinking they’re one of us – scientists can now make artificial cells that act so real, living organisms can’t tell the difference. Continue reading These artificial cells are not alive – but they just passed the Turing test

Superfast Lasers Create a Hologram You can Touch

by Dave Gershgorn, Popular Science

At quadrillionth-second bursts

The halls of science fiction are well-decorated with dreams of holograms—Jules Verne introduced holography to literature in 1893 with The Castle of the Carpathians, and how else would we know that Obi-Wan was Leia’s only hope?

Now, researchers at the Digital Nature Group(DNG) have found a way to use lasers, mirrors and cameras to create three-dimensional, interactive holograms comprised of tiny points of light called voxels. Continue reading Superfast Lasers Create a Hologram You can Touch

The Delusion of Alternative Facts

by Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik, Scientific American

How science can guide the search for “actual” truth in our post-truth era

This past weekend marked the swearing-in of Donald Trump as US president, and the moment in which the phrase ‘alternative facts’ joined ‘post-truth’ (the Oxford Dictionary’s most recent word of the year) and ‘fake news’ in our growing lexicon of Orwellian doublespeak. The occasion was the first clash of President Trump with the press, which had a bizarrely petty focus: the size of the crowds at his inauguration on Friday.  Continue reading The Delusion of Alternative Facts

We might finally know what triggered living cells to evolve for the first time

by Dom Galeon, Science Alert

Breaking out from the primordial soup

Modern science has advanced significantly over the last couple of decades. We’ve managed to answer several of the world’s most long-standing questions, but some answers have continued to elude today’s scientists, including how life first emerged from Earth’s primordial soup.

However, a collaboration of physicists and biologists in Germany may have just found an explanation to how living cells first evolved. Continue reading We might finally know what triggered living cells to evolve for the first time

Earth’s magnetic poles are set to swap places – and we’re totally unprepared

by Phil Livermore & Jon Mound, Science Alert

When north becomes south

Earth’s magnetic field surrounds our planet like an invisible force field – protecting life from harmful solar radiation by deflecting charged particles away. Far from being constant, this field is continuously changing.

Indeed, our planet’s history includes at least several hundred global magnetic reversals, where north and south magnetic poles swap places. So when’s the next one happening and how will it affect life on Earth? Continue reading Earth’s magnetic poles are set to swap places – and we’re totally unprepared