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Galaxy

Quantum leaps: Physicists reveal sensational findings which could allow science fiction dreams to become reality

© Getty Images
The team of researchers claim that there are multiple, interacting universes – some very different from our own
There are multiple timelines playing out in parallel universes, according to a team of researchers.

The sensational claim was made by a team of physicists, who believe that the parallel universes can all affect one another.

Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr Michael Hall, from Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics, claim that the idea of parallel universes is more than just science fiction.

Fellow researcher Dr Dirk-Andre Deckert, from the University of California, helped further the researchers' theory, which goes against almost all conventional understanding of space and time.

If there really are multiple, interacting universes, then it would be possible for time travelers to visit Earth, and every imaginable scenario would be played out in a parallel universe at some point.

Comment: See also: Researchers claim that humans have souls which can live on after death and Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection.


UFO 2

Secretive Chinese space program gives NASA a run for its money

© Li Jin/VCG via Getty Images
Astronauts Chen Dong and Jing Haipeng at a ceremony prior to the launche of the Shenzhou 11.
The launch of the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft in western China last month marked another great leap forward for the nation's space program and its ambition to send manned missions to the moon and, eventually, Mars. Yet more than national prestige is at stake: China is counting on its space program to pay huge economic dividends.

China is NASA's biggest rival in space exploration with plans to land "taikonauts" on the moon by 2036 and Mars thereafter. Along the way, President Xi Jinping hopes the space missions will spawn a wave of Chinese innovation in robotics, aviation and artificial intelligence, among other leading 21st-century technologies.

China's space program is generally shrouded in secrecy, yet Xi's government is now reviewing a proposal by top researchers to triple investments into scientific missions, according to Wu Ji, director-general of the National Space Science Center. The hope is that advancements made while building new telescopes, monitoring Earth's water cycles and improving satellite navigation will revive state-owned enterprises and inspire the startup of private ones.

"China has been relying on the knowledge discovered by others," said Wu, who's spearheading the effort to lobby for more space missions with possible economic spinoffs. "If China wants to rejuvenate the economy, it needs to put more resources into developing groundbreaking technologies."

Cloud Grey

Cloud hosting services compromised by 'lurking malice'

© Xiaojing Liao, Georgia Tech
Bad repositories map: This map shows locations where the impacts of bad repositories (Bars) occur.
A study of 20 major cloud hosting services has found that as many as 10 percent of the repositories hosted by them had been compromised -- with several hundred of the "buckets" actively providing malware. Such bad content could be challenging to find, however, because it can be rapidly assembled from stored components that individually may not appear to be malicious.

To identify the bad content, researchers created a scanning tool that looks for features unique to the bad repositories, known as "Bars." The features included certain types of redirection schemes and "gatekeeper" elements designed to protect the malware from scanners. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University Bloomington and the University of California Santa Barbara conducted the study.

Believed to be the first systematic study of cloud-based malicious activity, the research will be presented October 24 at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Vienna, Austria. The work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

"Bad actors have migrated to the cloud along with everybody else," said Raheem Beyah, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "The bad guys are using the cloud to deliver malware and other nefarious things while remaining undetected. The resources they use are compromised in a variety of ways, from traditional exploits to simply taking advantage of poor configurations."

Beyah and graduate student Xiaojing Liao found that the bad actors could hide their activities by keeping components of their malware in separate repositories that by themselves didn't trigger traditional scanners. Only when they were needed to launch an attack were the different parts of this malware assembled.

Ice Cube

Why is the surface of ice wet?

© Murata K. et al., PNAS
Figures illustrating the process in which a QLL, a thin layer of water on ice, transforms to a state of partial wetting. At the start (0.00 seconds), the surface of the ice is completely covered by the QLL. After six seconds, the layer has turned into droplets (Scale bar: 10 ?m).
A team of Hokkaido University scientists has unraveled a 150-year-old mystery surrounding the surface melting of ice crystals in subzero environments by using an advanced optical microscope. "Ice is wet on its surface": Since this phenomenon, called surface melting, was mentioned by British scientist Michael Faraday more than 150 years ago, the question of why water on the surface of ice does not freeze in a subzero environment remained unanswered.

In their search for the underlying mechanism behind surface melting, the team used a special optical microscope jointly developed with Olympus Corp. to observe how thin water layers, or quasi-liquid layers (QLLs), are born and disappear at various temperatures and vapor pressure levels. According to the researchers' findings, thin water layers do not homogeneously and completely wet the surface of ice -- a discovery that runs contrary to conventional wisdom. QLLs, therefore, are not able to stably exist at equilibrium, and thus vaporize.

Furthermore, the team discovered that QLLs form only when the surface of ice is growing or sublimating, under supersaturated or unsaturated vapor conditions. This finding strongly suggests that QLLs are a metastable transient state formed through vapor growth and sublimation of ice, but are absent at equilibrium.

Magnify

Researchers take a closer look at the chromosome periphery of DNA

© ESB professionals
While it's true that every chromosome contains some of 25,000 genes, it now turns out to be the case that this is only a little more than half the story. Computer modeling has revealed that up to 47% of each chromosome is an enigmatic sheath-like substance called the "chromosome periphery," something about which little is known. That's because it's almost impossible to get a good look at in actual chromosomes.

Chromosomes were discovered in 1882 and still remain puzzling, largely because they're not visible within a cell's nucleus unless we happen to be watching as a cell is dividing, through mitosis or meiosis. During cell division, chromosomes become "supercoiled" and can be seen under a microscope.

Observing chromosomes in this one very specific state has shown that they're comprised of DNA along with histone proteins, or chromatin. While scientists have caught glimpses of the chromosome periphery in the past, they haven't been able to deduce much about it. After all, they've never gotten a good look at chromosomes when they're not dividing, which is to say much of the time.

Comment: See also:


Control Panel

'Gecko legged' micro robots in development for repair of spacecraft

© NASA
International Space Station
Miniature robots, which would be capable of crawling on the outer surface of spacecraft thanks to gecko-like adhesive legs, are being developed in Russia.

At the moment, the microbot platform hardly looks impressive or futuristic. It is basically a rectangular fragment of a regular silicon wafer covered with polyimide film, with eight 'legs' cut out in it. But the people behind it say it may become the go-to technology for inspecting hard-to-reach places in extreme environments, like that of low Earth orbit.

The microbot's legs move depending on the material's temperature. When it gets cold, the leg bends at a 'joint' point, but once electric current is applied and heats the joint up, the leg stretches.

Bug

Groundbreaking study discovers a world of previously unknown viruses

© University of Sydney
Schematic invertebrate illustration.
A groundbreaking study of the virosphere of the most populous animals -- those without backbones such as insects, spiders and worms and that live around our houses -- has uncovered 1445 viruses, revealing people have only scratched the surface of the world of viruses -- but it is likely that only a few cause disease.

The meta-genomics research, a collaboration between the University of Sydney and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, was made possible by new technology that also provides a powerful new way to determine what pathogens cause human diseases.

Professor Edward Holmes, from the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases & Biosecurity and the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, who led the Sydney component of the project said although the research revealed humans are surrounded by viruses in our daily lives, these did not transfer easily to humans.

"This groundbreaking study re-writes the virology text book by showing that invertebrates carry an extraordinary number of viruses -- far more than we ever thought," Professor Holmes said.

Network

Has Google's AI translation tool created its own secret language and means of understanding?

© Steemit
All right, don't panic, but computers have created their own secret language and are probably talking about us right now. Well, that's kind of an oversimplification, and the last part is just plain untrue. But there is a fascinating and existentially challenging development that Google's AI researchers recently happened across.

You may remember that back in September, Google announced that its Neural Machine Translation system had gone live. It uses deep learning to produce better, more natural translations between languages. Cool!

Following on this success, GNMT's creators were curious about something. If you teach the translation system to translate English to Korean and vice versa, and also English to Japanese and vice versa... could it translate Korean to Japanese, without resorting to English as a bridge between them? They made this helpful gif to illustrate the idea of what they call "zero-shot translation" (it's the orange one):

Slide bars to see whole diagram.


As it turns out — yes! It produces "reasonable" translations between two languages that it has not explicitly linked in any way. Remember, no English allowed. But this raised a second question. If the computer is able to make connections between concepts and words that have not been formally linked... does that mean that the computer has formed a concept of shared meaning for those words, meaning at a deeper level than simply that one word or phrase is the equivalent of another?

In other words, has the computer developed its own internal language to represent the concepts it uses to translate between other languages? Based on how various sentences are related to one another in the memory space of the neural network, Google's language and AI boffins think that it has.

© Google Research Blog
Part (a) from the figure above shows an overall geometry of these translations. The points in this view are colored by the meaning; a sentence translated from English to Korean with the same meaning as a sentence translated from Japanese to English share the same color. From this view we can see distinct groupings of points, each with their own color. Part (b) zooms in to one of the groups, and part (c) colors by the source language. Within a single group, we see a sentence with the same meaning but from three different languages. This means the network must be encoding something about the semantics of the sentence rather than simply memorizing phrase-to-phrase translations. We interpret this as a sign of existence of an interlingua in the network.

Comment: Interesting (amazing? disturbing?) developments in the mechanics of this self-thinking-linking 'neural' translator, a possible precursor to a self-evolving machine. Given Google's recent political bias and governmental cooperation...where might 'this' go from here? (In science fiction, 'this' never seems to turn out well! Then again, Star Trek had its handy dandy universal translator gizmo, without which the series would have lasted one season.)


Laptop

Swedish developers offer a way to delete yourself off the internet

The internet can be a beautiful and horrible place at the same time, and it isn't weird to sometimes feel like you want to leave — there's wasn't an easy way out, until now.

Swedish developers Wille Dahlbo and Linus Unnebäck created Deseat.me, which offers a way to wipe your entire existence off the internet in a few clicks.

When logging into the website with a Google account it scans for apps and services you've created an account for, and creates a list of them with easy delete links.

Bad Guys

The Pentagon plans to sink billions of dollars into undersea drone network

Despite ongoing evidence of colossal economic waste and manifest ineptitude by the Pentagon's network of defense contractors, it isn't stopping their commitment to spending many more billions of taxpayer money. Moreover, their plans are becoming even more long-range, saddling future generations with even more debt to service.

Their latest brainchild, according to a report in the Washington Post is an undersea network of drones and drone launch "pods" that will cover the 7 seas with patrol and defense capabilities.

Some of this was put on display during the recent military exercise among many of the allied nations known as "Unmanned Warrior 2016" that took place off the Scottish coast. A wide range of autonomous systems were tested, as well as a test of an overall web of communication between land, air, and sea vehicles.