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Fri, 23 Jun 2017
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HAL9000

Facebook designed chatbots developed their own non-human language

© MGM Studios
HAL 9000, the fictional sentient computer from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
When Facebook designed chatbots to negotiate with one another, the bots made up their own way of communicating.

A buried line in a new Facebook report about chatbots' conversations with one another offers a remarkable glimpse at the future of language.

In the report, researchers at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab describe using machine learning to train their "dialog agents" to negotiate. (And it turns out bots are actually quite good at dealmaking.) At one point, the researchers write, they had to tweak one of their models because otherwise the bot-to-bot conversation "led to divergence from human language as the agents developed their own language for negotiating." They had to use what's called a fixed supervised model instead.

Post-It Note

Michelin's concept airless tire comes wrapped in 'rechargeable' 3D-printed treads

© Jimmy Hamelin
The Vision concept tire and wheel combination envisioned by Michelin.
Aside from trotting out a new tread pattern every year or so, you might think there's not a lot manufacturers could do to improve the humble car tire. But advances in materials, sensors and manufacturing techniques are opening up new possibilities. Michelin is exploring this potential with its Vision concept tire that is airless, 3D printed, equipped with sensors, biodegradable, and not just a tire, but a tire and wheel in one.

Unveiled at a global symposium on urban mobility challenges it hosted this week in Montreal, Canada, Michelin's Vision tire is constructed using 3D printing technology. This enables an airless interior architecture that mimics alveolar structures (such as the air sacs of the lungs) that is solid in the center and more flexible on the outside, resulting in a tire that is immune to blowouts or going flat.

Laptop

Latest hacking tool: Experts warn altered E-cigs can allow hackers to attack computers when charged by USB port


Electronic cigarettes devices can be modified in a fashion that allows hackers to attack computers when it is plugged into the USB port. Hackers can just add a hardware chip into the area of the battery to turn it into a malicious tool.
Researchers have found more controversy with electronic cigarettes - but this time, it doesn't affect your health.

The vaping devices can be modified in a fashion that allows hackers to attack computers when it is plugged into the USB port.

By adding a hardware chip with a pre-written script, cyberthieves can meddle with traffic or trick the computer into thinking it is a keyboard to carry out commands.

E-cigs are currently caught in the middle of a health debate, as numerous studies have argued that they are either better or worse than traditional tobacco cigarettes - but experts have yet to come to a conclusion.

However, a recent discovery has made one risk of these devices very clear.


Eye 1

Cherry Blossom: How the CIA can hack into your internet router

© Pixabay
Wi-Fi routers typically sit in dusty corners of homes and offices, quietly transmitting internet accessibility to computers, tablets and phones in its immediate vicinity. However, these unpretentious devices are a goldmine for hackers - and were specifically targeted by the US Central Intelligence Agency, the latest Wikileaks release has revealed.

The release is the latest instalment of Wikileaks' "Vault7" series, which the group has been drip-feeding to the public since March. Previous trickles have revealed CIA attempts to hack office computers, televisions and phones, among many other shock exposures.

This time, the documents contain detailed information on the CIA's router hacking "toolkit" — and how the Agency sought to leverage common vulnerabilities in routers sold by companies such as D-Link and Linksys. The techniques range from hacking network passwords to rewriting device firmware to remotely monitor traffic flowing across a target's network.


Jupiter

Electric Jupiter and its many surprises

© YouTube/Thunderbolts Project (screen capture)
The EU2017 Conference: Future Science -- Aug 17 - 20, Phoenix: https://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2017...

Scientists working on NASA's historic Juno mission to the gas giant Jupiter have recently presented their early findings for the first time. Like so many other recent space missions, what they have discovered is not what they expected. As reported by Newscientist.com, "... the findings are already challenging assumptions about everything from the planet's atmosphere to its interior." In part one of this two-part presentation, physicist and chief science advisor to the Thunderbolts Project begins his in-depth analysis of the Juno data, including the many victories that already seem evident for the Electric Universe theory.


Comment: NASA's Jupiter mission reveals 'brand-new and unexpected' discoveries


Attention

Nemesis - The Sun's long-lost twin

© Bill Saxton, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NRAO/AUI/NSF
A radio image of a triple-star system forming within a dusty disk in the Perseus molecular cloud obtained by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
Nemesis is apparently real, even if its bad reputation is undeserved.

For decades, some scientists have speculated that the sun has a companion whose gravitational tug periodically jostles comets out of their normal orbits, sending them careening toward Earth. The resulting impacts have caused mass extinctions, the thinking goes, which explains the putative star's nickname: Nemesis.

Now, a new study reports that almost all sun-like stars are likely born with companions, bolstering the case for the existence of Nemesis.
"We are saying, yes, there probably was a Nemesis, a long time ago," study co-author Steven Stahler, a research astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.

But the new results don't paint Nemesis as a murderer: The sibling star probably broke free of the sun and melted into the Milky Way galaxy's stellar population billions of years ago, study team members said.

Satellite

China launches first X-ray space telescope to study black holes

© AFP
The Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), being lifted onto a Long March-4B rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China June 15, 2017.
China has launched its first X-ray space telescope, aimed at studying black holes, pulsars, and gamma ray bursts, state media reported. The launch is expected to bring "new breakthroughs in physics," according to the project's lead scientist. The 2.5-tonne Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), named 'Insight,' was launched on Thursday morning from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi desert, Xinhua reported. It was delivered into orbit, 550km (341 miles) above the Earth, by the Long March-4B rocket. Chinese scientists say Insight will allow them to observe magnetic fields and the interiors of pulsars and better understand the evolution of black holes, AFP reported.


Specifically, Insight will seek out new black hole activity by searching the Milky Way for celestial bodies that emit X-rays.Although black holes are usually undetectable, scientists are able to study the X-rays emitted when matter falls into a black hole and is accelerated and heated, lead scientist Zhang Shuangnan said, as quoted by Xinhua. According to Zhang, Insight is more capable of finding black holes and neutron stars that emit bright X-rays than other countries' space telescopes, because it has a larger detection area and a broader energy range which makes it easier to scan the galaxy.

Comment: In 2018 the ambitious Chang'e-4 mission may become the first in the world to land on the far side of the moon.
See also:


Solar Flares

Study: Our sun probably has an evil twin called Nemesis

© NASA, ESA and J. Muzerolle, STScI
This infrared image from the Hubble Space Telescope contains a bright, fan-shaped object (lower right quadrant) thought to be a binary star that emits light pulses as the two stars interact. The primitive binary system is located in the IC 348 region of the Perseus molecular cloud and was included in the study by the Berkeley/Harvard team.
Did our sun have a twin when it was born 4.5 billion years ago?

Almost certainly yes—though not an identical twin. And so did every other sunlike star in the universe, according to a new analysis by a theoretical physicist from UC Berkeley and a radio astronomer from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Harvard University.

Many stars have companions, including our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, a triplet system. Astronomers have long sought an explanation. Are binary and triplet star systems born that way? Did one star capture another? Do binary stars sometimes split up and become single stars?

Astronomers have even searched for a companion to our sun, a star dubbed Nemesis because it was supposed to have kicked an asteroid into Earth's orbit that collided with our planet and exterminated the dinosaurs. It has never been found.

The new assertion is based on a radio survey of a giant molecular cloud filled with recently formed stars in the constellation Perseus, and a mathematical model that can explain the Perseus observations only if all sunlike stars are born with a companion.

"We are saying, yes, there probably was a Nemesis, a long time ago," said co-author Steven Stahler, a UC Berkeley research astronomer.

"We ran a series of statistical models to see if we could account for the relative populations of young single stars and binaries of all separations in the Perseus molecular cloud, and the only model that could reproduce the data was one in which all stars form initially as wide binaries. These systems then either shrink or break apart within a million years."

In this study, "wide" means that the two stars are separated by more than 500 astronomical units, or AU, where one astronomical unit is the average distance between the sun and Earth (93 million miles). A wide binary companion to our sun would have been 17 times farther from the sun than its most distant planet today, Neptune.

Based on this model, the sun's sibling most likely escaped and mixed with all the other stars in our region of the Milky Way galaxy, never to be seen again.

Comment: For more on Nemesis - Sol's dark companion - see Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.

Perhaps 'something wicked this way comes?'




Fireball 4

Mystery solved: Wow! signal from 1977 was generated by a comet

© The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American Astrophysical Observatory (NAAPO)
A team of researchers with the Center of Planetary Science (CPS) has finally solved the mystery of the "Wow!" signal from 1977. It was a comet, they report, one that that was unknown at the time of the signal discovery. Lead researcher Antonio Paris describes their theory and how the team proved it in a paper published in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences.

Back in August of 1977, a team of astronomers studying radio transmissions from an observatory at Ohio State called the "Big Ear" recorded an unusual 72-second signal—it was so strong that team member Jerry Ehman scrawled "Wow!" next to the readout. Since that time, numerous scientists have searched for an explanation of the signal, but until now, no one could offer a valid argument. Possible sources such as asteroids, exo-planets, stars and even signals from Earth have all been ruled out. Some outside the science community even suggested that it was proof of aliens. It was noted that the frequency was transmitted at 1,420 MHz, though, which happens to be the same frequency as hydrogen.

Binoculars

Winging it: Ladybugs make complex origami-like folds to stash their wings

© Kazuya Saito 2017
WINGING IT Ladybugs fold up their wings when they land. To view that process, scientists replaced part of a ladybug’s red-and-black wing case with a transparent resin.
Those who struggle to fit a vacation wardrobe into a carry-on might learn from ladybugs. The flying beetles neatly fold up their wings when they land, stashing the delicate appendages underneath their protective red and black forewings.

To learn how one species of ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata) achieves such efficient packing, scientists needed to see under the bug's spotted exterior. So a team from Japan replaced part of a ladybug's forewing with a transparent bit of resin, to get a first-of-its-kind glimpse of the folding.