Welcome to Sott.net
Tue, 21 Aug 2018
The World for People who Think

Science & Technology


Study shows that robots have the power to brainwash children and alter their behavior for the worse

Robots and Children
© Aly Song/Reuters
Robot pressure could soon replace peer pressure as a chief concern amongst parents with new research finding that children can be significantly influenced by machines, even when the droids are obviously wrong.

The study asked children aged between seven and nine to look at a screen showing four lines and identify which two match in length. When they carried out the simple task alone the kids got the answers right almost every time. However, when they did it alongside a robot their accuracy dropped by 12 percent and almost all of their wrong answers were found to match those of the robot.

Writing in Science Robotics, the University of Plymouth researchers behind the study said the findings raise concerns around the potential for robots to have a negative influence on vulnerable children.

Comment: More on the dangerous slippery slope of rapidly growing robotic technology:


Mathematics everywhere: Researchers solve age-old spaghetti mystery

spaghetti pasta
© Creative Commons
If you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment: Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make? If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again. Can you break the noodle in two? If not, you're in very good company.

The spaghetti challenge has flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman '39, who once spent a good portion of an evening breaking pasta and looking for a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refused to snap in two.

Feynman's kitchen experiment remained unresolved until 2005, when physicists from France pieced together a theory to describe the forces at work when spaghetti - and any long, thin rod - is bent. They found that when a stick is bent evenly from both ends, it will break near the center, where it is most curved. This initial break triggers a "snap-back" effect and a bending wave, or vibration, that further fractures the stick. Their theory, which won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, seemed to solve Feynman's puzzle. But a question remained: Could spaghetti ever be coerced to break in two?


Earth's oldest rocks likely to have been created by meteorite bombardment

oldest rock canada
© Pedroalexandrade/Wikimedia
An example of rock from the Acasta River region of the NWT.
Scientists have found that 4.02 billion year old silica-rich felsic rocks from the Acasta River, Canada-the oldest rock formation known on Earth-probably formed at high temperatures and at a surprisingly shallow depth of the planet's nascent crust. The high temperatures needed to melt the shallow crust were likely caused by a meteorite bombardment around half a billion years after the planet formed. This melted the iron-rich crust and formed the granites we see today. These results are presented for the first time at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston tomorrow (14 August), following publication in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience.

The felsic rocks (rocks rich in silica/quartz) found at the Acasta River in Canada, are the Earth's oldest rocks, although there are older mineral crystals. Scientists have long known that the Acasta rocks are different to the majority of felsic rocks we see today, such as the granites widely used as a building or decorative material. Now a group of scientists from Australia and China have modelled the formation of the oldest Acasta felsic rocks and found that they could only have been formed at low pressures and very high temperatures.


'Completely new systems, completely new capabilities': Russia rolls out upgraded supersonic strike bomber

Tu-22M3M rolled out in Kazan
© Maksim Bogodvid / Sputnik
Tu-22M3M rolled out in Kazan, Russia; August 16, 2018
The Tu-22M3M, a modification of the Russian supersonic strike bomber, is a new modern plane inside a classic shell, the manufacturer says. Having greater speed and range, it will reportedly be armed with hypersonic missiles.

"It's a principally new plane inside - with completely new systems, completely new capabilities, might and threat to potential adversaries," Yuri Slyusar, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation, told reporters on Thursday, as the new version of the bomber was rolled out from the plant in the southwestern city of Kazan.

The Tu-22M3M jet is designed to strike sea and ground targets at a distance of up to 2,200km (1,367 miles) using bombs and guided missiles. The modified plane has a more comfortable cockpit, can travel longer distances, and fly faster due to its more powerful engine. About 80 percent of its electronics was updated, the plane's manufacturers say.


Biomimetics comes to STEM education

science student
© Wyss Institute at Harvard University.
A student gains “hands-on” experience with DNA with an inexpensive BioBits kit
The Wyss Institute at Harvard is "Inspired by Nature," as they say in their mission statement:
At the Wyss Institute, we leverage recent insights into how Nature builds, controls and manufactures to develop new engineering innovations - a new field of research we call Biologically Inspired Engineering. By emulating biological principles of self-assembly, organization and regulation, we are developing disruptive technology solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing, which are translated into commercial products and therapies through formation of new startups and corporate alliances.
More focus on biological engineering, as distinct from Darwinian happenstance, can only be good. Whatever "Nature" is, it "builds, controls and manufactures" things in ways that inspire human imitation.

We've mentioned the Wyss Center several times, most recently here, where we saw some of its bio-inspired engineers trying to imitate the "robust mechanical properties" of grass. The center has propelled research to the point now where they need to grow a crop of students ready to enter the field. As you often hear lamented in the news, the U.S. is lagging behind in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) which are vital to the work of biomimetics institutes such as the Wyss Center. For its latest project, therefore, Wyss joined with Northwestern University to enter the education field, designing lessons to help students grasp the concepts they will need as future scientists.

Comment: Nature builds better machines than humans do. That begs the question: is nature intelligent? It must be. And what is the nature of that intelligence? What is the nature of nature? That's the question of questions, and materialist neo-Darwinists don't have the answer.


Forensic scientists develop technique of identifying pedophiles through their hands

Hands on jail cell bars.
© Reuters
A British forensic specialist has developed a way to identify pedophiles using only images of the perpetrator's hands and the novel new system has already helped put a child sex abuser behind bars.

In 2014, Greater Manchester Police enlisted the help of forensic anthropologist Dame Professor Sue Black in an effort to solve a child rape case. The crime in question involved sick footage found on a computer belonging to Manchester man, Jeremy Oketch.

The video showed a man with his face obscured sexually abusing a two-year-old girl. While police investigators were sure that when they first questioned Oketch in July 2014 he was the perpetrator, officers feared that without an admission of guilt he could walk free.


Tech expert proves police bodycams can be hacked and footage altered

police bodycam
© Al Seib / Reuters
Footage recorded by police body cameras are vulnerable to hacking and can be easily edited, manipulated or deleted, while the officer wearing it may be tracked and surveilled, a cybersecurity expert has revealed.

Bodycams came into being to aid transparency in policing operations and protect both officers, from defamation and false claims, and civilians, from excessive use of force, but the devices are not free of problems.

"These videos can be as powerful as something like DNA evidence, but if they're not properly protected there's the potential that the footage could be modified or replaced," Josh Mitchell, a tech expert with Nuix, told the DefCon conference at the weekend, according toMotherboard.


Russia to develop super-heavy carrier rocket as reusable spacecraft

heavy rocket
© Alexei Savelyev/TASS
Russia's super-heavy carrier rocket scheduled to blast off for the first time from the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East in 2028 will be a reusable spacecraft, State Space Corporation Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin told TASS on Thursday.

The multiple-use principle "will be formulated as a task during the work on the super-heavy rocket," Rogozin stressed.

According to designers' plans, the Russian super-heavy carrier rocket should be able to deliver over 70 tonnes of cargo into low near-Earth orbit at the first stage. It will be developed to provide for deep space flights, specifically, to the Moon and Mars.

The construction of the infrastructure for the new carrier rocket at the Vostochny cosmodrome is scheduled to begin in 2026 and its first launch will take place in 2028.

Comment: See also: Russia successfully tests clean pulse-detonation rocket engine: First in the world


Artificial placenta created in the laboratory

Denise Mandt
© Technische Universität Wien
Denise Mandt in the lab
The placenta has an essential and highly complex task: it must ensure the exchange of important substances between the mother and her unborn child, whilst simultaneously blocking other substances from passing through. Until now, it has not been fully understood what the permeability of the placenta depends on - after all, it is incredibly difficult to investigate its function in humans directly.

© Technische Universität Wien
The bio-chip: this is where the placenta can be studied and analysed.
For this reason, TU Wien (Vienna) has now produced an artificial placenta model that very closely resembles the natural organ. Using a specially developed femtosecond laser-based 3D printing process, it is possible to produce customized hydrogel membranes directly within microfluidic chips, which are then populated with placenta cells. This means it is now possible to provide clarity in some vital research issues, such as the exchange of glucose between mother and child.

Complex substance exchange between mother and child

"The transport of substances through biological membranes plays an important role in various areas of medicine", says Prof. Aleksandr Ovsianikov of the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at TU Wien. "These include the blood-brain barrier, ingestion of food in the stomach and intestine, and also the placenta."

There are, for example, numerous studies showing that diseases in the mother such as diabetes can have an impact on the unborn child. High blood pressure can also affect the transport of substances to the foetus. Until now, however, it has been almost impossible to investigate the way in which the many parameters involved interact in such cases.


Scientists find new properties of water

Big Wave
© iStock/Nuture
A team of scientists has uncovered new molecular properties of water—a discovery of a phenomenon that had previously gone unnoticed. Above, an ocean wave.
A team of scientists has uncovered new molecular properties of water-a discovery of a phenomenon that had previously gone unnoticed.

Liquid water is known to be an excellent transporter of its own autoionization products; that is, the charged species obtained when a water molecule (H2O) is split into protons (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH). This remarkable property of water makes it a critical component in emerging electrochemical energy production and storage technologies such as fuel cells; indeed, life itself would not be possible if water did not possess this characteristic.

Water is known to consist an intricate network of weak, directional interactions known as hydrogen bonds. For nearly a century, it was thought that the mechanisms by which water transports the H+ and OH ions were mirror images of each other - identical in all ways except for directions of the hydrogen bonds involved in the process.

Current state-of-the-art theoretical models and computer simulations, however, predicted a fundamental asymmetry in these mechanisms. If correct, this asymmetry is something that could be exploited in different applications by tailoring a system to favor one ion over the other.

Experimental proof of the theoretical prediction has remained elusive because of the difficulty in directly observing the two ionic species. Different experiments have only provided glimpses of the predicted asymmetry.