Category Archives: Science

Experts call for a Pause on AI Development

Technology pioneers, including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have signed an open letter urging a “pause” on artificial intelligence (AI) development, citing concerns over the potential dangers it could pose.

The letter, released by the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a research organization aimed at mitigating existential risks facing humanity, highlights the risks presented by integrating AI into various industries, including warfare, cybersecurity, and transportation.

The letter states that the risks associated with AI are enormous and that there is a pressing need for the scientific community and policymakers to come together to discuss the implications of AI.

Leading AI developers have also signed the open letter, including Demis Hassabis of Google’s DeepMind, Stuart Russell of UC Berkeley, and Yoshua Bengio of the University of Montreal.

The FLI statement calls for more research into how AI can be designed to ensure it remains safe and offers benefits to society.

The letter acknowledges that AI has the potential to bring many benefits to humanity, including improving healthcare, education, and environmental sustainability. Still, the researchers argue that we need to take a more measured approach that ensures that the technology is developed in a way that avoids unintended consequences.

While AI has developed rapidly in recent years, experts warn that we have yet to realize its full potential, it is still subject to many unknowns.

One of the primary concerns is the possibility of AI systems acting unpredictably or developing biases. If left unchecked, these problems could have catastrophic consequences if AI is used in critical systems like medical equipment, transportation, or navigation systems.

The letter also notes the potential for hackers or malicious actors to exploit AI systems for their own gain, as some have already demonstrated with DeepFakes and other AI technologies.

The risks posed by AI could also extend to areas like autonomous vehicles, where the software controls the car’s actions. In the event of an accident, who would be held accountable? It is vital that we have clear regulations in place to ensure that developers are held responsible for any negative outcomes.

The researchers argue that we need to take a different approach to AI development, with a focus on ensuring that it remains transparent and explainable. This means that we must be able to understand how AI systems work and why they make specific decisions.

The letter concludes by calling upon researchers and policymakers alike to take a more measured approach to AI development, focusing on the risks as well as the benefits of the technology.

The FLI has been working on promoting the safe development of AI, with a focus on ensuring that the technology is designed in a way that protects human values and dignity.

The organization has been working with researchers in the field of AI, as well as policymakers, to promote safer practices for developing AI technologies.

In June 2021, the European Commission released its proposed regulations on AI aimed at setting legal guidelines for the development and use of AI in Europe.

The legislation focuses on creating a trustworthy and transparent framework that ensures that AI is used responsibly and in a manner that respects human rights and dignity.

The regulations would require companies to comply with safety, transparency, and accountability standards to ensure that AI is developed in the right way.

While there is a growing consensus that we need to take a more measured approach to AI development, there is no denying that the technology has the potential to bring many benefits to humanity.

Ultimately, the key to safe and effective AI development is to create a transparent and accountable framework that ensures that the technology is being used in a responsible and ethical manner.

It is crucial for policymakers and researchers to work together to overcome the risks associated with AI development and help bring about a more secure and positive future for humanity.

Dark Energy Could Cause Universe To Multiply Like Gremlins

New research suggests that the mysterious force known as dark energy could lead to the creation of multiple “Big Bangs” and the birth of new universes, much like the creature in the movie Gremlins who multiplied when splashed with water.

According to the study, dark energy – the force that is believed to be causing the accelerating expansion of the universe – could eventually cause the universe to tear apart into smaller “bubbles.” Each of these bubbles would then create a new universe with its own unique set of physical laws and constants.

The idea of multiple universes, or a “multiverse,” has been a topic of debate and speculation in the scientific community for years, but this new research provides a potential explanation for how these other universes could come to exist.

While the idea of multiple universes may seem far-fetched, it is based on the principles of established scientific theories like quantum mechanics and general relativity. The researchers behind the study hope that their work will help to further our understanding of the universe and the nature of dark energy.

Of course, the concept of a multiverse is still just a theory, and there is currently no way to test or confirm its existence. Nonetheless, the idea of a universe that is constantly expanding and creating new possibilities is a fascinating one that is sure to continue capturing the imaginations of scientists and non-scientists alike.

NASA’s Webb Telescope Discovers Massive Galaxies from Early Universe

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has made a significant discovery by spotting some of the most massive galaxies in the universe, which existed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

According to the latest findings, these galaxies are estimated to be 10 to 100 times larger than our Milky Way and are located at a distance of more than 13 billion light-years away.

These massive galaxies are believed to have formed during the early stages of the universe, when the cosmic microwave background radiation was still cooling. The radiation cooled enough for gravity to take hold, causing gas clouds to collapse and form the first galaxies.

The discovery is significant because it helps astronomers to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early universe, and sheds light on how the universe grew and evolved into what it is today.

The Webb telescope, which is set to launch in October 2021, will continue to explore the cosmos and capture breathtaking images of the universe. The telescope is expected to provide unprecedented views of the earliest stages of the universe, and help scientists to better understand the history of the universe, including the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets.

Overall, the discovery of these massive galaxies is a remarkable achievement, and is a testament to the power and capabilities of NASA’s Webb telescope. With this discovery, we can expect even more exciting discoveries in the coming years as the telescope continues to explore the vast expanse of the universe.

Best Way To Solve Global Warming? Methane-Eating Bacteria

At a whopping 30 million metric tonnes annually, methanotrophic bacteria consume the most harmful and problematic greenhouse gas known as methane, and now researchers at Northwestern University believe it could be the key to reversing global warming.

Methanotrophic bacteria not only eat the harmful gas, but excrete fuel known as methanol, through the use of an enzyme in its cell wall known as particulate methane monooxygenase, or pMMO. Previous researchers had a difficult time studying the process due to the damage to the bacteria through the process of extracting the enzyme, but Amy Rosenzweig, senior author of the new Northwestern paper who holds appointments in both chemistry and molecular biosciences at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, explains how a new process has been developed that preserves the bacteria enough to determine more useful information about how the methanol is created.

“Methane has a very strong bond, so it’s pretty remarkable there’s an enzyme that can do this. If we don’t understand exactly how the enzyme performs this difficult chemistry, we’re not going to be able to engineer and optimize it for biotechnological applications.”

The researchers used something called cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a technique well-suited to membrane proteins due to the fact that the lipid membrane environment is undisturbed throughout the experiment. This allowed them to visualize the atomic structure of the active enzyme at high resolution for the first time.

Read more about the study at Science journal online.

Space Station Escaped The Threat of Debris From An Old Rocket

Can you imagine all of that floating space junk someday becoming a threat decades after it ends up in space?

Just earlier today (Dec. 3) at around 3 a.m. EST (0800 GMT), The International Space Station dodged a decades-old rocket body from a fragment of a Pegasus rocket. According to a statement from America’s NASA program, this debris was created in 1996 from the object 39915, which was the upper stage of a Pegasus rocket that had launched two years prior to it breaking up.

NASA had been notified to delay a spacewalk and forced to schedule for later due to the concerns of the floating fragments on Tuesday (Nov. 30).

That debris came from a Russian anti-satellite test conducted on one of its own defunct satellites; fragments from the incident might threaten astronauts on the station for years to come.

All seven astronauts currently living and working on the space station faced a still more serious space junk scare just a few weeks ago. On Nov. 15, the crew was forced to shelter in the two passenger spacecraft currently docked to the space station during two close passes with orbital debris.

How To Cautiously Use Vitamin D To Protect Yourself From COVID-19

Yes, vitamin D will help, but watch your levels.

Exploring the link between Vitamin D and COVID-19 has been excruciatingly complex. At first you think, “If I take more vitamin D, I’ll be protected,” and then you read, “If you take too much vitamin D, you’ll die.”

It was regrettable to see CNN talk about Vitamin D being “an internet sensation” instead of focusing on the benefits of the vitamin on the immune system from a scientific perspective. So I decided to give it a fair chance and see for myself just how beneficial and detrimental the supplement would be for me against COVID-19.

It’s not a difficult concept to digest: vitamin D increases immune system function, COVID-19 decreases immune system function, so… the D you get, the happier your body is… (That’s what she said…)

Vitamin D is produced by the body through a process in the skin induced by UVB light, primarily coming from the Sun. What makes things complicated is the fact that this vitamin D production is directly dependent upon the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin, which inherently causes skin pigmentation, tends to lower the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, which has led to some studies showing that older adults with darker skin may be more at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.

But the scientific voices are clashing on this assertion.

CNN says,

According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies’ Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended daily dose of vitamin D for anyone over age 4 is 600 IU/day in the US. For anyone over 70 years of age in the US, the dose goes up to 800 IU/day. In the UK, the recommended daily amount is 400 IU/day.

And this isn’t wrong, per say. If you had a sufficient level of vitamin D in your body, you wouldn’t need more than a few IU to assume you were slightly and safely more than “sufficient” in your daily vitamin D intake. The problem is that not everyone is the same.

So we need to test ourselves. We need to know our own vitamin D levels and immune system functionality. There are surprisingly a lot of home vitamin D tests available online and they range in price starting from around $50. While this may seem a bit expensive for just one test, as a monthly expense it may be affordable for most middle class people.

Fox News Contributor Steven Milloy Promotes Junk Climate Science On Twitter

Frequent contributor to Fox News Steven Milloy retweeted a Politico story about climate change to suggest that CO2 won’t kill Earth because Venus is made of CO2 — the only trouble is humans don’t live on Venus, as far as we know.

Milloy is no stranger to ignoring accurate and verified scientific truths. A lawyer and frequent commentator for Fox News, he refers to himself as a libertarian thinker and runs a twitter account called @JunkScience through which he ironically, but not facetiously, often peddles what mosts scientists would refer to as junk science. His close financial and organizational ties to tobacco and oil companies have been the subject of criticism from a number of sources going back to the early 2000s, as Milloy has consistently disputed the scientific consensus on climate change and the health risks of second-hand smoke. Having close ties to tobacco and oil, it’s not difficult to understand why.

Among the topics Milloy has addressed are what he believes to be false claims regarding DDT, global warming, Alar, breast implants, second-hand smoke, ozone depletion, and mad cow disease. This time, however, he attempts to equate planet Earth with planet Venus, saying that CO2 won’t destroy the Earth because Venus is largely made up of CO2.

The obvious problem to scientists (and most people with a high school science education) is that humans don’t live on Venus, and couldn’t since it is so darn hot, hailing an average temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s obvious that Milloy is being paid to promote bad science in an effort to persuade Fox News watchers into believing that climate change is a hoax. The trick he uses here is to make it seem like people who believe in man-induced global warming through greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide think the Earth will cease to exist with too much CO2. That isn’t what climate change scientists and activists think at all.

On the contrary, climate change scientists and activists are concerned about human and animal life will cease to exist — the way it doesn’t exist on Venus.

The danger in having to explain this to people is that it’s easier to look at things Milloy’s way. Despite it being wrong, lazy thinkers will read what he tweets and hear what he says on Fox News without doing anymore research or thinking on the matter. When people say convincing things with authority, it usually doesn’t matter if what they’re saying is true or not.

Elon Musk: Free Rides Under LA Coming Soon, Then DC To NYC

The tech entrepreneur recently tweeted that tunnels under Los Angeles were almost completed and that free rides under the city would be offered soon.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Elon Musk made a number of bold claims. First, he said the tunnel under Los Angeles is nearly done and the public would be invited to go for free rides under the city soon. Second, he said work on a tunnel linking New York City and Washington, DC, has already begun. Third, he claimed a Hyperloop connection between Los Angeles and San Francisco would begin next year.

Read more at Clean Technica

Legendary Theoretical Physicist Stephen Hawking Dead at 76

Easily the most famous scientist in the world, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76 peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

The physicist died on Pi Day, March 14, the day each year when scientists and mathematicians celebrate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Today is also famed theory of relativity scientist Albert Einstein’s birthday.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.

Considered by many to be the world’s greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark “A Brief History of Time,” which has sold more than 10 million copies.

With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking also discovered that black holes were not completely black but emit radiation and would likely eventually evaporate and disappear.

Hawking suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which is usually fatal within a few years. He was diagnosed in 1963, when he was 21, and doctors initially only gave him a few years to live.

China bans 553 car models in fight against smog

Beijing — China makes a massive move towards a smogless society with its ban of over 500 car models that have been proven to contribute to urban air pollution.

Responding to anti-pollution measures established recently, the Chinese government has halted sales of over 500 models of vehicles that don’t meet fuel-consumption standards.

The halt in production of some 553 models will begin in early January and will include models from Audi, Beijing Benz and Chevrolet, said the China Vehicle Technology Service Center in a statement to the press Thursday.

China’s anti-pollution plan has taken effect in the form of regulating output from steel production, coal usage restrictions, and a never before seen measure to eventually phase out vehicles powered by fossil fuels within the next few years. This ban is the first of its kind, according to Wang Liusheng, a Shanghai-based analyst at China Merchants Securities.

Wang said in an email to Bloomberg,

“To emphasize a cut back on energy consumption, such documents will surface frequently in the future. It’s an essential move to ensure the healthy development of the industry in the long run.”

The move sounds and looks sweeping, however Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, said that the models make up a “very small percentage” of polluting vehicles. Meanwhile, Beijing is set to record its most impressive improvements to its air quality in nine years, with an almost 20 percent drop in pollution over the past year alone.