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Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase | Wired Science |

Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase | Wired Science | | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |

If you could escape the human time scale for a moment, and regard evolution from the perspective of deep time, in which the last 10,000 years are a short chapter in a long story, you’d say: Things are pretty wild right now.

In the most massive study of genetic variation yet, researchers estimated the age of more than one million variants, or changes to our DNA code, found across human populations. The vast majority proved to be quite young. The chronologies tell a story of evolutionary dynamics in recent human history, a period characterized by both narrow reproductive bottlenecks and sudden, enormous population growth.

The evolutionary dynamics of these features resulted in a flood of new genetic variation, accumulating so fast that natural selection hasn’t caught up yet. As a species, we are freshly bursting with the raw material of evolution.

“Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so. There hasn’t been much time for random change or deterministic change through natural selection,” said geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, co-author of the Nov. 28 Nature study. “We have a repository of all this new variation for humanity to use as a substrate. In a way, we’re more evolvable now than at any time in our history.”

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Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein

Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
When Stevens Institute of Technology hired me a decade ago, it installed me for several months in the department of physics, which had a spare office. Down the hall from me, Albert Einstein's electric-haired visage beamed from a poster for the "World Year of Physics 2005." The poster celebrated the centennial of the "miraculous year" when a young patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland, revolutionized physics with four papers on relativity, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics. "Help make 2005 another Miraculous Year!" the poster exclaimed.

As 2005 wound down with no miracles in sight, the poster took on an increasingly poignant cast. Passing the office of a physics professor who made the mistake of leaving his door open, I stopped and asked the question implicitly posed by the "Year of Physics" poster: Will there ever be another Einstein? The physicist scrunched up his face and replied, "I'm not sure what that question means."

Let me try to explain. Einstein is the most famous and beloved scientist of all time. We revere him not only as a scientific genius but also as a moral and even spiritual sage. Abraham Pais, Einstein's friend and biographer, called him "the divine man of the 20th century." To New York Times physics reporter Dennis Overbye, Einstein was an “icon" of "humanity in the face of the unknown." So to rephrase my question: Will science ever produce another figure who evokes such hyperbolic reverence?

I doubt it. The problem isn’t that modern physicists can’t match Einstein's intellectual firepower. In Genius, his 1992 biography of physicist Richard Feynman, James Gleick pondered why physics hadn't produced more giants like Einstein. The paradoxical answer, Gleick suggested, is that there are so many brilliant physicists alive today that it has become harder for any individual to stand apart from the pack. In other words, our perception of Einstein as a towering figure is, well, relative.

Gleick's explanation makes sense. (In fact, physicist Edward Witten has been described as the most mathematically gifted physicist since Newton.) However, I would add a corollary: Einstein seems bigger than modern physicists because--to paraphrase Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard--physics got small.
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Facebook Launches M, Its Bold Answer to Siri and Cortana

Facebook Launches M, Its Bold Answer to Siri and Cortana | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Today, a few hundred Bay Area Facebook users will open their Messenger apps to discover M, a new virtual assistant. Facebook will prompt them to test it with examples of what M can do: Make restaurant reservations. Find a birthday gift for your spouse. Suggest—and then book—weekend getaways.

It won’t take long for Messenger’s users to realize M can accomplish much more than your standard digital helper, suspects David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook. “It can perform tasks that none of the others can,” Marcus says. That’s because, in addition to using artificial intelligence to complete its tasks, M is powered by actual people.
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MIT unveils world's first 'crash proof' computer (Wired UK)

MIT unveils world's first 'crash proof' computer (Wired UK) | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The first computer 'mathematically guaranteed' not to lose any data has been unveiled by researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

The research proves the viability of an entirely new type of file-system which is logically unable to forget information accidentally. The work is founded on a processes known as formal verification, which involves describing the limits of operation for a computer program, and then proving the program can't break those boundaries.

The computer system is not necessarily unable to crash, but the data contained within it cannot be lost.

"What many people worry about is building these file systems to be reliable, both when they're operating normally but also in the case of crashes, power failure, software bugs, hardware errors, what have you," Nickolai Zeldovich, a CSAIL principal investigator who co-authored the new paper, said in a press statement.
"Making sure that the file system can recover from a crash at any point is tricky because there are so many different places that you could crash. You literally have to consider every instruction or every disk operation and think, 'Well, what if I crash now? What now? What now?' And so empirically, people have found lots of bugs in file systems that have to do with crash recovery, and they keep finding them."
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go read this>Love in the Age of Big Data

go read this>Love in the Age of Big Data | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Once upon a time, in the Pony Expresso cafe in Seattle, a man and a woman began to experience the long-mysterious but increasingly scientifically investigated thing we call love. The first stage is called "limerence." This is the spine-tingling, heart-twisting, can't-stop-staring feeling, when it seems as though the world stops whirling and time itself bows down and pauses before the force of your longing. The man, a then-44-year-old University of Washington research psychologist named John Gottman, was drawn to the woman's wild mane of black curly hair and her creativity: She was an amateur musician and painter as well as a psychologist like himself. The woman, a then-35-year-old named Julie Schwartz, who'd placed a personal ad in the Seattle Weekly that John had answered, was turned on by John's humble little car—voted the ugliest vehicle in the University of Washington faculty parking lot—and his expansive curiosity. He read physics and math and history and kept a little spiral-bound notebook in his pocket that he used to jot down things his companions said that captivated him.
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The Imperative of Technological Progress: Stagnation Will Lead to Disaster

The Imperative of Technological Progress: Stagnation Will Lead to Disaster | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
It is both practically desirable and morally imperative for individuals and institutions in the so-called “developed” world to strive for a major acceleration of technological progress within the proximate future. Such technological progress can produce radical abundance and unparalleled improvements in both length and quality of life – whose possibilities Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler outlined in their 2012 book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. Moreover, major technological progress is the only way to overcome a devastating step backward in human civilization, which will occur if the protectionist tendencies and pressures of existing elites are allowed to freeze the status quo in place.

“He who moves not forward, goes backward.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If the approximate technological and economic status quo persists, massive societal disintegration looms on the horizon. A Greece-style crisis of national-government expenditures may occur as some have predicted, but would only be a symptom of a greater problem. The fundamental driver of crisis since at least September 11, 2001, and more acutely since the Great Recession and the national-government bailouts of legacy financial and manufacturing institutions, is an increasing disconnect between the powerful and everybody else. The powerful – i.e., the politically connected, including the special interests of the “private sector” – seek to protect their positions through political barriers, at the expense of individual rights, upward social mobility, and economic/technological progress. Individuals from a relatively tiny politically connected elite caused the 2008 financial crisis, lobbied for and received unprecedented bailouts and lifelines for the firms whose misbehavior exacerbated the crisis, and then have attempted to rig the political “rules of the game” to prevent themselves from being unseated from positions of wealth and influence by the dynamics of market competition. The system created by these elites has been characterized by various observers as crony capitalism, corporatism, corporate fascism, neo-mercantilism, and a neo-Medieval guild system.
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Why you’re smarter than a chicken | KurzweilAI

Why you’re smarter than a chicken | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A single molecular event in a protein called PTBP1 in our cells could hold the key to how we evolved to become the smartest animal on the planet, University of Toronto researchers have discovered.

The conundrum: Humans and frogs, for example, have been evolving separately for 350 million years and use a remarkably similar repertoire of genes to build organs in the body. So what accounts for the vast range of organ size and complexity?

Benjamin Blencowe, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre and Banbury Chair in Medical Research, and his team believe they now have the key: alternative splicing (AS).

With alternative splicing, the same gene can generate three different types of protein molecules in this example (credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s how alternative splicing works: specific sections of a gene called exons may be included or excluded from the final messenger RNA (mRNA) that expresses the gene (creates proteins). And that changes the arrangement of amino acid sequences.

There are two forms of PTBP1: one that is common in all vertebrates, and another in mammals. The researchers showed that in mammalian cells, the presence of the mammalian version of PTBP1 unleashes a cascade of alternative splicing events that lead to a cell becoming a neuron instead of a skin cell, for example.

To prove that, they engineered chicken cells to make mammalian-like PTBP1, and this triggered alternative splicing events that are found in mammals, creating a smart chicken (no relation to the eponymous brand). Also, in turns out that alternative splicing prevalence increases with vertebrate complexity.

The end result: all those small accidental changes across specific genes have fueled the evolution of mammalian brains.

The study is published in the August 20 issue of Science.
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This Gender Mystery Starts Nine Months Before Birth - Issue 27: Dark Matter - Nautilus

This Gender Mystery Starts Nine Months Before Birth - Issue 27: Dark Matter - Nautilus | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Is it a boy or a girl? That’s what everyone wants to know from the expecting parents. The ratio of newborn boys to girls (called the secondary sex ratio) is a matter of social importance and, occasionally, even national policy. But there is another ratio that, despite being more obscure, is just as important: The ratio of boys to girls at conception, when the egg is fertilized and development begins, called the primary sex ratio.

While the secondary sex ratio is consistently about 106 boys for every 100 girls (or, just 106 for shorthand), the primary sex ratio has been a subject of persistent speculation over the centuries. Naïvely one might expect it to be 100—balanced, equal numbers of boys and girls. To see why it has attracted such attention, suppose it were 125 instead. Since the cells from which sperm are generated start with one X and one Y chromosome, that would mean that one-fifth of the X chromosomes either never make it into functioning sperm, or are prevented from fertilizing an ovum somewhere along the way. This is a huge bias, requiring a powerful but as yet undiscovered biological mechanism.
Or, if sperm are being sex-selected after they are created, that process would likely extend over time. Changes in the timing of intercourse could then have substantial influence on the likelihood of the resulting child being a girl. (Such effects have frequently been claimed, though inconsistent about the direction of the effect, and never conclusively demonstrated.)
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Octopus Genome Reveals Secrets to Complex Intelligence

Octopus Genome Reveals Secrets to Complex Intelligence | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The elusive octopus genome has finally been untangled, which should allow scientists to discover answers to long-mysterious questions about the animal's alienlike physiology: How does it camouflage itself so expertly? How does it control—and regenerate—those eight flexible arms and thousands of suckers? And, most vexing: How did a relative of the snail get to be so incredibly smart—able to learn quickly, solve puzzles and even use tools?

The findings, published today in Nature, reveal a vast, unexplored landscape full of novel genes, unlikely rearrangements—and some evolutionary solutions that look remarkably similar to those found in humans. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

With the largest-known genome in the invertebrate world—similar in size to that of a house cat (2.7 billion base pairs) and with more genes (33,000) than humans (20,000 to 25,000)—the octopus sequence has long been known to be large and confusing. Even without a genetic map, these animals and their cephalopod cousins (squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses) have been common subjects for neurobiology and pharmacology research. But a sequence for this group of mollusks has been "sorely needed," says Annie Lindgren, a cephalopod researcher at Portland State University who was not involved in the new research. "Think about trying to assemble a puzzle, picture side down," she says of octopus research to date. "A genome gives us a picture to work with."
increaseforeach's comment, August 21, 2:29 AM
Computers - to most of us - are a relatively simple machines to purchase, operate, and (for the most part) understand.
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Putting a price tag on brainpower

Putting a price tag on brainpower | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
If you offer someone "a penny for their thoughts," how good a deal might you be getting? A study conducted at the University of Leicester has sought to shed some light on the value of our brainpower, finding a single penny to be worth to precisely three hours, seven minutes and 30 seconds worth of thinking.

Osarenkhoe Uwuigbe, a Natural Sciences student at the University of Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, used a number of assumptions about the brain and the economics of thinking to arrive at this final figure. Based on the fact that the average human body produces around 100 watts of power, Uwuigbe calculated that the power required by a human brain to generate thoughts to be around 20 percent of this, or 20 watts.

Uwuigbe used English pennies for the currency and when calculating the cost of power, he used the price per kilowatt hour (kWh) offered by UK energy providers as a reference point. He chose 16 pence per kWh because it lies within the range normally charged by these companies.

Now comes the maths. Assuming that all the power consumed by the brain is used on thinking, 20 W, or 1/50 kW is what it takes to keep our minds ticking. So if a penny buys 1/16th of a kWh and if you can speak as fast as you can think, this works out to (1/16) ÷ (1/50) = 3.12 hours, or 3 hours, 7 minutes, and 30 seconds.

This makes for a very long, but affordable monologue.
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Darwin's theory may be brilliant but it doesn't explain everything

Darwin's theory may be brilliant but it doesn't explain everything | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
As evolutionary scientists, we devote much of our working lives to exploring the behaviour of humans and other animals through an evolutionary lens. So it may come as a surprise that our show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe is named Alas, Poor Darwin …?, borrowing from one of the most searing critiques of evolutionary psychology ever written. We’ve added a question mark, but still – it’s no simple tale of how our minds evolved.

Evolutionary theory is a bit like a chocolate ice cream in the hands of a two-year old: it’s going to get applied everywhere, but will anything useful be achieved in the process? The central tenets of Darwinian theory – variability, heredity and selection – are as beautiful as they are compelling. They completely revolutionised biology.

But applying these principles to the study of human behaviour has caused far more controversy. The evolutionary explanations for human behaviour that grab the headlines can often be neat; really neat – like tightly-plotted narratives in which everything works out perfectly in the end, usually with a guy getting a girl, where everything happens for a reason.

Real life rarely makes for such a neat story. We’ve all seen enough action movies to notice that the more satisfying the ending, the more plot holes you have to ignore as you walk out of the cinema. Neatness makes a good story, but it’s not enough for good science.
Rick Frank's curator insight, August 18, 11:53 AM

Love this line: "Evolutionary theory is a bit like a chocolate ice cream in the hands of a two-year old: it’s going to get applied everywhere, but will anything useful be achieved in the process? "

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Humanity has consumed all of Earth's resources for 2015 (Wired UK)

Humanity has consumed all of Earth's resources for 2015 (Wired UK) | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Turn off everything, stop eating and stop building -- on August 13 humanity used up nature's biocapacity budget for the entire year. According to estimates, yesterday was Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity's consumption overtakes Earth's ability to generate resources for that year.

The day, which has been measured since the 1970s, has moved from early October in 2000 to 13 August this year, with our ecological overspend being driven by deforestation, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and -- more than anything -- global warming.

"Humanity’s carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, when the world went into ecological overshoot," said Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the system that calculates Earth's annual budget. "It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the ecological footprint and the planet’s biocapacity."
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Clicking With a Conscience-The Future of Morality, at Every Internet User's Fingertips

Clicking With a Conscience-The Future of Morality, at Every Internet User's Fingertips | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
For much of the modern, advertising-driven Internet, attention is money. Whether a publisher, search engine, or social platform, the business model is fundamentally the same: The attention of users is aggregated and then sold to advertisers who want to bring a message to that audience.

To that end, supplying attention itself can be an act of complicity in the unethical actions of a platform. The mere act of choosing to look at something online generates real value for a company, materially helping to support its staff, its content, and the social interactions that a platform plays host to. This is why a website like Do Not Link exists: It promises a way to share a link from a website without boosting that site’s standing in search rankings.

Like environmental, labor, or civil rights activists of an earlier decade, one response has been to boycott objectionable platforms. At first blush, this comparison seems very straightforward: refusal to click or link to a site denies revenue to ad-driven companies the same way that refusing to purchase goods denies revenue to retail-driven companies. Like earlier campaigns, these choices are in part about influencing the company to behave differently, but also in part a personal choice to avoid becoming part of the ethical wrongs being perpetuated by that company. It’s a way of voting with clicks instead of cash.

But while the motivations may be similar, the Internet distorts the traditional dynamics of the boycott in two important ways.
The choice not to link is a personal moral act.
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WalkCar electric vehicle is like a laptop that you ride

WalkCar electric vehicle is like a laptop that you ride | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
We've seen some highly-portable electric vehicles before, including diminutive scooters and skateboards. Cocoa Motors' new WalkCar, however, makes those gizmos look huge. It's used more or less like a Segway, but it's not much bigger than a laptop.

The WalkCar has four tiny wheels, an aluminum body, and is intended to be carried in an included bag when not in use.

Steering is achieved by shifting your weight, while acceleration and braking happen automatically when you step on or off. Its top speed is 10 km/h (6.2 mph) and its built-in battery takes three hours to charge via USB, providing a range of 12 km (7.5 miles).

Although it looks pretty puny, the WalkCar is reportedly powerful enough to push a person in a wheelchair up an incline, and it can handle payloads weighing up to 120 kg (265 lb).
magpiealps's comment, August 11, 1:55 AM
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Should Mars Be Independent, Or Just A Colony Of Earth?

Should Mars Be Independent, Or Just A Colony Of Earth? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
It’s a popular sci-fi plot: Earth sets up colonies on Mars; Mars colonies grow, developing their own technologies and culture; Mars colonies rebel against overbearing Earth government, demanding independence. It happens in Total Recall, in Babylon 5, in Red Mars.

But what if we gave Mars its independence right from the get-go? Rather than giving future colonies to governments or corporations, Jacob Haqq-Misra thinks we should let Martian colonists develop their own values, governments, and technologies, with minimal interference from Earth. Haqq-Misra is an astrobiologist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a non-profit organization that promotes international unity in space.

Not only would Haqq-Misra's strategy preclude any Martian wars for independence, but cultural independence could help Martians think differently enough to solve problems that Earth continues to struggle with—such as working together to fight global environmental problems, or making long-term plans for the future of humanity.
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What's Human? Google Goes Android!

What's Human? Google Goes Android! | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Sometimes I am shadowboxing with a powerful opponent that I can't see, feel or understand. It is a mindless and undeterable attitude that reacts to me automatically based on a set of data I don't know and that has no interest in my unique perspective. It is the robot-like rigidity that confronts me, and sometimes I witness it in myself confronting others. Are we any better than programmed machines? What makes us human? Is Alphabet, Google's new holding company going to spell it out?

Humanity is in a technological identity crisis and Google's Ray Kurzweil is intent on designing our future. We are lining up passively as technology seems more and more to rule. Much of education today is limited to memorizing short-lived data for specialized jobs, not learning how to think. Data in a sales training becomes an automatic arsenal of rebuttals to gain a sale. Data gets pounded into the brain-box for a professional exam with no subtlety, just right and wrong answers. Worse, the data can be a store of prejudices assimilated from childhood and empowered by positions of authority. Worse still, data can be an evil agenda stamped into the brain that takes no prisoners, suffers no debate and powers through no matter what. In all these cases the possibility of mutual understanding is killed. "Both/And" thinking that resolves differences, or "I'm ok/You're ok" attitudes are not even up for consideration. Or are they? Can we humans become more human? On the other hand, will subtle thinking, like sleep, be built into the immortal android race being prepared by Google's head of research, Mr. Kurzweil?

"Humans will continue to be creative," is Kurzweil's simple answer to the question what will humans do when the androids take over! That is nice...but what about the androids? And are we losing this race? Creativity may be our most human characteristic; and yet so often that capacity to think outside the box is stuck. A report in the NY Times is a vivid example of stuck thinking. The article was a very human shout out to women who might otherwise have been railroaded into mastectomy. For those who have taken this step, their courage and will to survive should be honored.
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Making hydrogen fuel from water and visible light at 100 times higher efficiency | KurzweilAI

Making hydrogen fuel from water and visible light at 100 times higher efficiency | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Researchers at Michigan Technological University have found a way to convert light to hydrogen fuel more efficiently — a big step closer to mimicking photosynthesis.

Current methods for creating hydrogen fuel are based on using electrodes made from titanium dioxide (TiO2), which acts as a catalyst to stimulate the light–>water–>hydrogen chemical reaction. This works great with ultraviolet (UV) light, but UV comprises only about 4% of the total solar energy, making the overall process highly inefficient.*

The ideal would be to use visible light, since it constitutes about 45 percent of solar energy. Now two Michigan Tech scientists — Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Carroll McArthur professor of Materials Science and Engineer, and his PhD student, Bing Han — have developed a way to do exactly that.

They report in Journal of Physical Chemistry that by absorbing the entire visible light spectrum, they have increased the yield and energy efficiency of creating hydrogen fuel by up to two magnitudes (100 times) greater than previously reported.**

As described in the paper, they used three new techniques to achieve that:

“Black titanium dioxide” (with 1 percent platinum) on a silicon dioxide substrate;
A “light-diffuse-reflected surface” to trap light;
An elevated reaction temperature (280 degrees Celsius).

In addition, the new setup is “convenient for scaling up commercially,” said Ho.
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Water, water, everywhere – where to drink in the solar system

Water, water, everywhere – where to drink in the solar system | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Science fiction movies about aliens threatening the Earth routinely ascribe them the motive of coming here to steal our resources, most often our water. This is ill thought-out, as water is actually extremely common. Any civilisation coming to our solar system in need of water (either to drink or to make rocket fuel) would be foolish to plunge all the way inwards to the Earth, from where they’d have to haul their booty back against the pull of the sun’s gravity.

Until recently, we believed that the Earth was the only body in the solar system that had water in liquid form. While it is true that the Earth is the only place where liquid water is stable at the surface, there’s ice almost everywhere. Many scientists also infer that liquid water may exist beneath the surfaces on several bodies.

But where in the solar system are we likely to find it and in what form? Could we ever get to it and, if so, would we be able to drink it?
Comets and the Kuiper belt

If you are interested in finding places were extraterrestrial microbial life might occur, then you should look for liquid water, or at least “warm” ice within a few degrees of melting. Those places are widespread, if you are prepared to look below the surface of cold bodies or around the edges of patches of permanent shade on hot bodies.

Frozen water can be found everywhere in the Solar System, from the Oort Cloud to Mercury (except on Venus). NASA / JPL-Caltech

Furthest from the sun is the Oort Cloud, a region where most comets spend most of their time some 10,000 times further from the Sun than the Earth is. They are mostly water-ice, with traces of various carbon and nitrogen compounds. Because of those you wouldn’t want to drink comet water neat, but there is probably about five Earth-masses of water out there. We can’t be sure, because only the comets that stray close to the sun can be directly studied.
demisophie's comment, August 24, 6:27 AM
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The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
On July 11, 2000, in one of the more unlikely moments in the history of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch handed the microphone to Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, to hear his thoughts on art in the age of digital reproduction. Ulrich’s primary concern was a new online service called Napster, which had debuted a little more than a year before. As Ulrich explained in his statement, the band began investigating Napster after unreleased versions of one of their songs began playing on radio stations around the country. They discovered that their entire catalog of music was available there for free.Ulrich’s trip to Washington coincided with a lawsuit that Metallica had just filed against Napster — a suit that would ultimately play a role in the company’s bankruptcy filing. But in retrospect, we can also see Ulrich’s appearance as an intellectual milestone of sorts, in that he articulated a critique of the Internet-­era creative economy that became increasingly commonplace over time. ‘‘We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians,’’ Ulrich told the Senate committee. ‘‘We rent time for months at recording studios, which are owned by small-­business men who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record companies’ employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. ... It’s clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs I just talked about will be lost, and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear.’’
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Eter9 social network learns your personality so it can post as you when you're dead

Eter9 social network learns your personality so it can post as you when you're dead | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
New site Eter9 promises digital immortality using a kind of artificial intelligence to scan your posts.

It will then continue posting online for you after death. Yes, it's the creepiest thing we've learned today too.

If your social activity consists of posts about Taylor Swift and complaints to train companies, it means you can post for eternity on these topics.

You can also "smile" at things, similar to likes, forever.

And there is both a main page which works like Facebook's newsfeed and a "cortex" which works like your Facebook profile.

There are also bots called Niners who you can adopt.

This means the social network can keep its engagement levels up via bots and counterparts interacting with no humans at all.

And you can meet your social media mirror image before you die too.

Users control the level of activity of their counterpart while alive, allowing it to post whilst they are offline.

Set up by Portuguese developer Henrique Jorge, it's still in beta testing mode but there are around 5,000 people signed up at the moment.

But Jorge tells Newsbeat that users are joining every day and he has plans in place to make the system more powerful.

"We are trying to create an AI system that learns faster from other networks like Facebook, as the ETER9 information at the moment is quite small."
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Humans are 'unique super-predator' - BBC News

Humans are 'unique super-predator' - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Humans' status as a unique super-predator is laid bare in a new study published in Science magazine.

The analysis of global data details the ruthlessness of our hunting practices and the impacts we have on prey.

It shows how humans typically take out adult fish populations at 14 times the rate that marine animals do themselves.

And on land, we kill top carnivores, such as bears, wolves and lions, at nine times their own self-predation rate.

But perhaps the most striking observation, say authors Chris Darimont and colleagues, is the way human beings focus so heavily on taking down adult prey.

This is quite different from the rest of the animal kingdom, for which the juveniles of a species tend to be the most exploited.

Part of this is explained by the tools that human hunters exclusively can deploy.

We can tackle adult prey at minimal cost, and so gain maximum, short-term reward, explained Prof Darimont from the University of Victoria (UoV), Canada.

"Advanced killing technology mostly excuses humans from the formerly dangerous act of predation," he told reporters.

"Hunters 'capture' mammals with bullets, and fishes with hooks and nets. They assume minimal risk compared with non-human predators, especially terrestrial carnivores, which are often injured while living what amounts to a dangerous lifestyle."
sammy meyer's curator insight, August 21, 11:38 AM

Dog goes fishing... whaaat

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The 'Drinkable Book' Can Literally Save Your Life - D-brief

The 'Drinkable Book' Can Literally Save Your Life - D-brief | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Sure, a good book can forever change your perspective on life, but one book can literally save your life.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.4 million people die each year due to health issues stemming from unsanitary water. To combat this alarming trend, scientists are working to produce and distribute “drinkable books” to people living in third-world countries. But this isn’t your ordinary book: Each page can be torn out and used to turn sewage into drinkable water.
Drink Up

The “drinkable book” in the brainchild of Theresa Dankovich, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who was researching a simple, inexpensive way to sanitize water. She developed “pAge drinking paper,” which is a sturdy sheet of paper loaded with silver and copper nanoparticles that kill dangerous microbes living in dirty water. The nano-paper eliminates 99 percent of bacteria living in the dirtiest water, and the resulting water contains metal levels well below U.S. guidelines for safe drinking water.

Dankovich tested her filter papers on 25 different water sources in five countries with success. She unveiled the results of her project at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting this week.
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Climate Fiction: Can Popular Books About Environmental Disaster Save the Planet?

Climate Fiction: Can Popular Books About Environmental Disaster Save the Planet? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

Although the above might read like a slightly dramatic spin on the Western U.S. drought crisis, this scenario—at least for now—is imaginary. It’s the teaser for Paolo Bacigalupi’s new novel The Water Knife, another recent addition to the rapidly growing canon of climate fiction. Often called “cli-fi,” the genre, in short, explores the potential, drastic consequences of climate change.
It’s not an entirely new concept—Jules Verne played with the idea in a few of his novels in the 1880s—but the theme of man-made change doesn’t appear in literature until well into the 20th century. The British author J.G. Ballard pioneered the environmental apocalypse narrative in books such as The Wind from Nowhere starting in the 1960s. But as public awareness of climate change increased, so did the popularity of these themes: Searching for the term “climate fiction” on Amazon today returns over 1,300 results.
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The Emotions That Make Us More Creative

The Emotions That Make Us More Creative | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Artists and scientists throughout history have remarked on the bliss that accompanies a sudden creative insight. Einstein described his realization of the general theory of relativity as the happiest moment of his life. More poetically, Virginia Woolf once observed, “Odd how the creative power brings the whole universe at once to order.”

But what about before such moments of creative insight? What emotions actually fuel creativity?

The long-standing view in psychology is that positive emotions are conducive to creativity because they broaden the mind, whereas negative emotions are detrimental to creativity because they narrow one’s focus. But this view is too simplistic for a number of reasons.

It’s true that attentional focus does have important effects on creative thinking: a broad scope of attention is associated with the free-floating colliding of ideas, and a narrow scope of attention is more conducive to linear, step-by-step goal attainment. However, emerging research suggests that the positive vs. negative emotions distinction may not be the most important contrast for understanding attentional focus. Over the past seven years, research conducted by psychologist Eddie Harmon-Jones and his colleagues suggests that the critical variable influencing one’s scope of attention is not emotional valence (positive vs. negative emotions) but motivational intensity, or how strongly you feel compelled to either approach or avoid something. For example, pleasant is a positive emotion, but it has low motivational intensity. In contrast, desire is a positive emotion with high motivational intensity.
Gabriel Grey Boyd's curator insight, August 16, 7:22 PM

    Two world collide. Science and art have long been distant cousins in the existence of the question of where the truth lies. This article brings them both together and explains emotions' effect on our behavior in the workplace or everyday life. To become overwhelmed with passion as a beggar would toward a feast actually blinds you from your tasks. It is best to maintain a "pleasant" mood in order to completely absorb the environment and it's full cast of beauty. One could use this too realize being on the job overly angry or overly happy may actually inhibit the progress of their work. 

Instituut voor Toegepaste Filosofie's curator insight, August 21, 4:09 AM

Emoties ondersteunen onze creativiteit.

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The origin of the robot species | KurzweilAI

The origin of the robot species | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that can build its own children, test which one does best, and automatically use the results to inform the design of the next generation — passing down preferential traits automatically.

Without any human intervention or computer simulation, beyond the initial command to build a robot capable of movement, the mother created children constructed of between one and five plastic cubes with a small motor inside.

In each of five separate experiments, the mother designed, built and tested generations of ten children, using the information gathered from one generation to inform the design of the next.

The results, reported in an open access paper in the journal PLOS One, found that the “fittest” individuals in the last generation performed a set task twice as quickly as the fittest individuals in the first generation.

Natural selection

Natural selection is ”essentially what this robot is doing — we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species,” said lead researcher Fumiya Iida of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who worked in collaboration with researchers at ETH Zurich.

For each robot child, there is a unique “genome” made up of a combination of between one and five different genes, which contains all of the information about the child’s shape, construction and motor commands.

As in nature, the evolution takes place through “mutation,” where components of one gene are modified or single genes are added or deleted, and “crossover,” where a new genome is formed by merging genes from two individuals.

To allow the mother to determine which children were the fittest, each child was tested on how far it traveled from its starting position in a given amount of time. The most successful individuals in each generation remained unchanged in the next generation to preserve their abilities, while mutation and crossover were introduced in the less successful children.
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The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning

The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
We’ve all heard the adage: practice makes perfect! In other words, acquiring skills takes time and effort. But how exactly does one go about learning a complex subject such as tennis, calculus, or even how to play the violin? An age-old answer is: practice one skill at a time. A beginning pianist might rehearse scales before chords. A young tennis player practices the forehand before the backhand. Learning researchers call this “blocking,” and because it is commonsensical and easy to schedule, blocking is dominant in schools, training programs, and other settings.However another strategy promises improved results. Enter “interleaving,” a largely unheard-of technique that is capturing the attention of cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. Whereas blocking involves practicing one skill at a time before the next (for example, “skill A” before “skill B” and so on, forming the pattern “AAABBBCCC”), in interleaving one mixes, or interleaves, practice on several related skills together (forming for example the pattern “ABCABCABC”). For instance, a pianist alternates practice between scales, chords, and arpeggios, while a tennis player alternates practice between forehands, backhands, and volleys.
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