The world is still celebrating the historic landing of China’s Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon on January 3. Last month, China announced its plans to follow up with three more lunar missions, laying the groundwork for a lunar base. Colonizing the Moon, and beyond, has always being a human aspiration. Technological advancements, and the discovery of a considerable source of water close to the lunar poles, has made this idea even more appealing. Hard Fork? Hard Fork. HARD FORK But how close is China to actually achieving this goal? If we focus on the technology currently available, China could start building a base on the Moon today. The first lunar base The first lunar base would likely be an unmanned facility run by automated robotics – similar to Amazon warehouses – to ensure the necessary infrastructures and support systems are fully operational before people arrive. The lunar environment is susceptible to deep vacuum conditions, strong temperature … [Read more...] about How realistic are China’s plans to colonize the moon?
The humble honeybee can use symbols to perform basic maths including addition and subtraction, shows new research published today in the journal Science Advances. understanding the concept of zero. Do you like good gadgets? Those sweet cool gadgets? Oh, yeah Honeybees are a high value model for exploring questions about neuroscience. In our latest study we decided to test if they could learn to perform simple arithmetical operations such as addition and subtraction. Addition and subtraction operations As children, we learn that a plus symbol (+) means we have to add two or more quantities, while a minus symbol (-) means we have to subtract quantities from each other. To solve these problems, we need both long-term and short-term memory. We use working (short-term) memory to manage the numerical values while performing the operation, and we store the rules for adding or subtracting in long-term memory. Although the ability to perform arithmetic like adding and subtracting is not … [Read more...] about New research shows bees can do math
People are less happy on days when the air is more polluted, according to an analysis of 210 million posts on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo. Researchers have suspected air pollution takes a psychological toll generally, and dirty air due to industrialization, coal burning, and motor vehicles has become a drag on well-being for Chinese city dwellers. But these effects are difficult to measure. Do you like good gadgets? Those sweet cool gadgets? Oh, yeah That’s where Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, comes in. An international team of researchers analyzed posts made between March 1 and November 30, 2014 and geotagged in 144 different Chinese cities. They used specialized semantic analysis software to gauge the sentiment expressed in each Weibo post, then developed a daily happiness index on a scale of 1 to 100 for each city. The researchers reported their findings 21 January inNature Human Behavior. Weibo users expressed significantly more happiness in … [Read more...] about Using social media to measure air pollution’s psychological toll
I’d always wanted to go to India. So I was pretty outraged when, in 2011, my iPhone went without me. I think it’s only fair to place around 5 percent of the blame on my friend Blair. A group of us were in a London wine bar pretending to be grown-ups, searching for more sophisticated ways to say “second-least-expensive bottle” while tossing around wine terms we’d heard in a semi-ironic attempt to impress our waiter. “Oaky.” “Fruity.” “Hmm… chewy.” Hard Fork? Hard Fork. HARD FORK What actually did impress him, however, was Blair, a man so charming he wins people over basically just by being present. The waiter rewarded his charm by bringing us the leftover wine from other people’s tables after they’d left; a quarter bottle here, a half bottle here. Now this one is really nice… I was drunk, is what I’m saying. Was there a professional phone thief pilfering smartphones in that bar? Or did an … [Read more...] about How I became pen pals with the kid who stole my iPhone
In trying to keep up with the never-ending deluge of news about the forthcoming AI takeover of human society, a talk at a recent conference made me pause. For a moment, instead of having to consider whether the intelligent robots would liberate us or kill us (it’s only ever one of those two options, I find), I took a moment to worry about the machines themselves. The conference, a meeting of computer scientists and neuroscientists at New York University, was called “Canonical Computation in Brains and Machines.” Zachary Mainen, a neuroscientist at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, came on stage to talk about depression and hallucinations… in machines. Hard Fork? Hard Fork. HARD FORK He admitted right at the start of this talk that it all might seem “a bit odd” to consider. But he had a sound rationale. “I’m drawing on the field of computational psychiatry, which assumes we can learn about a patient … [Read more...] about Let’s not accidentally build depressed robots