Science & Technology


Humans could download brains on to a computer and live forever

© Photo: (c) alengo
Once computer engineers have worked out how to make a circuit board as complex as the human mind we will be able to download ourselves onto computers.
Humans could download their brain on to a computer and live forever inside a machine, a Cambridge neuroscientist has claimed.

Dr Hannah Critchlow said that if a computer could be built to recreate the 100 trillion connections in the brain their it would be possible to exist inside a programme.

Dr Critchlow, who spoke at the Hay Festival on 'busting brain myths' said that although the brain was enormously complex, it worked like a large circuit board and scientists were beginning to understand the function of each part.

Asked if it would be possible one day to download consciousness onto a machine, she said: "If you had a computer that could make those 100 trillion circuit connections then that circuit is what makes us us, and so, yes, it would be possible.

"People could probably live inside a machine. Potentially, I think it is definitely a possibility.

Dr Critchlow also said it was a myth that humans only used 10 per cent of their brains, and said that the fallacy had been fostered by Alibert Einstein who said he had discovered the Theory of Relativity because his brain was working at a higher level than most people's.

The case of American railroad foreman Phineas Gage also helped perpetuate the myth after a blasting accident left a metal pole embedded deeply in his skull.


Humans 'will become God-like cyborgs within 200 years'

© Photo: PA

Within 200 years the wealthiest humans will become cyborgs, part man part machine.
Wealthy humans are likely become cyborgs within 200 years as they gradually merge with technology like computers and smart phones, a historian has claimed.

Yuval Noah Harari, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the amalgamation of man and machine will be the 'biggest evolution in biology' since the emergence of life four billion years ago.

Prof Harari, who has written a landmark book charting the history of humanity, said mankind would evolve to become like gods with the power over death, and be as different from humans of today as we are from chimpanzees.

He argued that humans as a race were driven by dissatisfaction and that we would not be able to resist the temptation to 'upgrade' ourselves, whether by genetic engineering or technology.

"We are programmed to be dissatisfied, " said Prof Harari. "Even when humans gain pleasure and achievements it is not enough. They want more and more.

"I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering or by the creation of cyborgs, part organic part non-organic.

"It will be the greatest evolution in biology since the appearance of life. Nothing really has changed in four billion years biologically speaking. But we will be as different from today's humans as chimps are now from us."


Investigation underway: Russian rocket launch costs increase after recent failure

© RT
According to the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, recent loss of the Proton-M rocket will push up launch costs and affect the overall number of contracts.

Comment: Russian Proton-M rocket launches are on hold since the latest failure of this booster that was destroyed on May 16 over East Siberia. (source)

"No doubt, the latest failure will affect the number of orders that we expected to sign in the near future because insurance costs will grow. Naturally, this will affect the overall price of a launch," Andrei Kalinovsky told the Rossiya-24 TV.

The latest of seven Proton carrier rocket failures over the past five years occurred on May 16. A Proton-M with a payload of cargo for the International Space Station lost its telemetry contact with the Earth after reaching space and began spinning out of control. A few days later, it fell from an uncontrollable orbit and burned up in the atmosphere.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigative commission to uncover the exact causes of the Proton-M accident. The commission will present recommendations on personal and financial responsibility as well as ways to repair what went wrong.

It was revealed in mid-May that Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center sustained losses nearing $180 million last year due to employee embezzlement and fraud. An investigation into the Moscow-based spacecraft and space-launch systems producer's losses is ongoing.

Comment: Has the Russian space agency been infiltrated by saboteurs? Learn more: What's going on? Russian Proton rocket feared lost after another botched launch


Editor-in-chief of The Lancet: Half of published research is unreliable, if not completely false

In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet - considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.
"The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness." (source)
This is quite disturbing, given the fact that all of these studies (which are industry sponsored) are used to develop drugs/vaccines to supposedly help people, train medical staff, educate medical students and more.

Comment: Fraud and corruption in science is so widespread that it poses a serious threat to the "trustworthiness, utility, and value of science and medicine", according to one of the country's leading medical ethicists. As examples: the FDA colludes with industry by burying the evidence of misconduct in research, scientists report that falsifying or fabricating data, concealing serious violations and plagiarism are common. And corporations routinely put out fraudulent scientific studies with an agenda to establish a fake scientific basis of safety for their products.


Dogs may have been man's best friend for 40,000 years


The DNA evidence, published in Current Biology, also showed that modern-day Siberian Huskies (stock image) and Greenland sled dogs share an unusually large number of genes with the ancient Taimyr wolf
It was thought humans first tamed the ancestors of domestic dogs in the Ice Age, between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

But a new study has found our canine sidekicks have been our best friend for much longer.

A team of Swedish scientists discovered a divergence in the species may have occurred up to 40,000 years ago based on the genetic analysis of an ancient wolf bone.

To early humans, the first domesticated wolves were hunting companions, fighting animals and beasts of burden.

As they bred the animals, selecting those that best met their needs, the domestic and wild breeds diverged, and the animals' genetic code became less and less similar.


Computerized military suit with suspended armor makes debut

"Toto, we ain't in Kansas anymore." Prototype achieved, revealed at McDill Air Force Base.
A computer-run military suit of the future, with suspended armor, makes its debut at a military convention held at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. Geared to special ops forces, the suit has built-in night vision, computers, a communications system and a suspended metal skeleton that wraps 60% of a soldier's body in armor. It is so heavy, it has a motorized metal skeleton that carries the weight. It is designed to feel zero load on the top of the head via a suspended helmet. This project is being pursued by SOCOM.

Comment: "I am a mechanical man in a mechanical suit with a mechanical mission in a mechanical world..."


Remote galaxy discovered shining with infrared light equal to more than 300 trillion suns

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Dusty 'Sunrise' at Core of Galaxy (Artist's Concept).
A remote galaxy shining brightly with infrared light equal to more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The galaxy, which belongs to a new class of objects recently discovered by WISE -- nicknamed extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs -- is the most luminous galaxy found to date.

"We are looking at a very intense phase of galaxy evolution," said Chao-Wei Tsai of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, lead author of a new report appearing in the 22 May issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "This dazzling light may be from the main growth spurt in the size of the galaxy's black hole"

Professor Andrew Blain, from the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been involved with WISE since its inception in 2001, and has been responsible for examining and validating the data from the WISE telescope. He is a co-author of the new report into this discovery.

The galaxy, known as WISE J224607.57-052635.0, may have a behemoth black hole at its belly, gorging itself on gas.


Ocean's hidden world of plankton revealed in 'enormous database'

© Christian Sardet / Tara Oceans
Planktonic organisms such as these single-celled creatures are found throughout the oceans
The hidden world of the ocean's tiniest organisms has been revealed in a series of papers published in the journal Science.

An international team has been studying samples of plankton collected during a three-year global expedition.

They have so far found 35,000 species of bacteria, 5,000 new viruses and 150,000 single-celled plants and creatures.

They believe that the majority of these are new to science.

Dr Chris Bowler, from the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), in Paris, told BBC News: "We have the most complete description yet of planktonic organisms to date: what's there in terms of viruses, bacteria and protozoa - we finally have a catalogue of what is present globally."

© Noan Le Bescot / Tara Oceans
This tiny crustacean was found in a sample taken in the South Pacific
Planktonic organisms are minute, but together they make up 90% of the mass of all of the marine life in the oceans.

They include viruses, bacteria, single-celled plants and creatures (protozoa).

They form the very base of the food chain, and produce - through photosynthesis - half of the oxygen we breathe.

However, until now, little has been known about this unseen ocean ecosystem.

The Tara expedition, primarily funded by the French fashion designer Agnes B, set out to change that.

© M Ormestad / Kahikai / Tara Oceans
Many of the organisms are new to science
© C Guiguand / Tara Oceans
So far the team has analysed 579 of the 35,000 samples that were collected
An international team of scientists took part in expeditions onboard the Tara schooner between 2009 and 2013.

It sailed 30,000km across the world's oceans, with researchers collecting 35,000 samples, taking them from the very top layers of the ocean down to 1,000m below the waves.

The project has cost about 10m euros.


Majority of European men descended from just 3 ancestors, study finds

© Reuters/Paul Hackett
Two-thirds of modern-day European males trace their genetic roots to just three Bronze Age forbears, who almost literally launched the "population explosion" many centuries ago, a new DNA study suggests.

Before coming to this conclusion, a research team from the University of Leicester analyzed the DNA sequences of 334 modern European men from 17 different European and Middle Eastern populations, focusing on the large portions of the Y-chromosome passed exclusively from fathers to sons.

Their findings were published in the Nature Communications.

After that they compared the DNA from each population in order to trace the key mutations in the genomes and find out when they might have occurred. Such an approach allowed the scientists to trace paternal lines down through a long period of history.

One mutation they found originated around 4,750 to 7,340 years ago and is prevalent in Norwegian and Orcadian populations. The second occurred between 3,700 and 6,500 years ago and has spread throughout Spain, Italy, France, England and Ireland. The third dated from about 3,470 to 5,070 years ago is prominent in the Sami in Lapland, Norwegians, Danes and Friesian populations in the Netherlands, as well as being found in France, Hungary, Serbia and Bavaria, the study reports.

According to the researchers, these three paternal lines account for about 63 percent of modern European men. That means that from 371.25 million males currently living in Europe around 233 million are descendants of just three men, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Those branches of the European genetic tree are fairly young, which suggests most modern populations settled in Europe only after the spread of farming during the Neolithic era, rather than during the period of hunter-gatherers moving across the continent in the Paleolithic era, as previously thought.


Andromeda and the Milky Way might collide sooner than expected

Andromeda’s halo is gargantuan. Extending for at least 2 million light years, if we could see in our night sky it would be 100 times the diameter of the Moon or 50 degrees across!
The merger of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy won't happen for another 4 billion years, but the recent discovery of a massive halo of hot gas around Andromeda may mean our galaxies are already touching. University of Notre Dame astrophysicist Nicholas Lehner led a team of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope to identify an enormous halo of hot, ionized gas at least 2 million light years in diameter surrounding the galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest member of a ragtag collection of some 54 galaxies, including the Milky Way, called the Local Group. With a trillion stars — twice as many as the Milky Way — it shines 25% brighter and can easily be seen with the naked eye from suburban and rural skies.