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AI

Dartmouth Contests Showcase Computer-Generated Creativity 5 5

An anonymous reader writes: A series of contests at Dartmouth College will pit humans versus machines. Both will produce literature, poetry and music which will then be judged by humans who will try and determine which selections were computer made. "Historically, often when we have advances in artificial intelligence, people will always say, 'Well, a computer couldn't paint a sunset,' or 'a computer couldn't write a beautiful love sonnet,' but could they? That's the question," said Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth.
Technology

Wired Looks Back At 'Mondo 2000' 15 15

destinyland writes: On a day when America looks back on those who came before, Wired is remembering a pioneering technology magazine named Mondo 2000 — and sharing video of its editors' legendary appearance on a mid-90s PBS series, "The Internet Cafe". When its host questioned them about cyberpunk, they turned the interview into an ironic media stunt by providing a live, sneering cyberpunk model named Malice (wearing a fake neural implant on his head), as the words "real cyberpunk" jokingly flashed on the bottom of the screen. "At a time when few people outside academia had access to the internet, Mondo 2000 was many a wannabe hacker's introduction to the online world," Wired remembers fondly, even acknowledging that they'd "borrowed" their own magazine's design motif from Mondo 2000, in those early years before ISPs started popularizing consumer internet access.

+ - Dartmouth Contests Showcase Computer-Generated Creativity

An anonymous reader writes: A series of contests at Dartmouth College will pit humans versus machines. Both will produce literature, poetry and music which will then be judged by humans who will try and determine which selections were computer made. "Historically, often when we have advances in artificial intelligence, people will always say, 'Well, a computer couldn't paint a sunset,' or 'a computer couldn't write a beautiful love sonnet,' but could they? That's the question," said Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth.
Biotech

Checking Mammoth DNA Against Elephants Hints At How They Got Hairy 12 12

An anonymous reader writes: A new study on mammoth DNA comparing the hairy animals to their cousins, the Asian and African elephants, has isolated what genes separate it from its warm-weather cousins. The study found that genes controlling skin and hair development, fat metabolism, insulin signaling, and skull shape, differed from today's contemporary elephant species. "They have this weird hump on their back, which is thought to be something like a camel hump — sort of a fat deposit that stored water and energy for the cold, dark winters," says Vincent Lynch, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago.
Technology

Seahorse Tails Could Inspire New Generation of Robots 13 13

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Clemson University have studied the makeup of seahorse tails and rendered its mechanics using 3D-printing in an effort to provide flexibility to stiff robots. Unlike most creatures, seahorse's tail is made of square prisms. Michael Porter, assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Clemson University said, "Almost all animal tails have circular or oval cross-sections—but not the seahorse's. We wondered why. We found that the squared-shaped tails are better when both grasping and armor functions are needed."

Comment: Re:Memory problem perhaps? (Score 3, Funny) 73 73

Since this is slashdot, how about pseudocode?

function handle_fault_on_approach()
{
    if (NOTHING_PARTICULARLY_SPECIAL_GOING_ON)
    {
        tell_nasa about_error();
        go_into_safe_mode();
        wait_for_instructions_from_nasa();
    }
    else if (FLYING_BY_PLUTO_RIGHT_NOW)
    {
          tell_nasa about_error();
          wait_to_hear_back_from_nasa = FALSE;
          handle_error_in_a_reasonable_manner_on_your_own();
          get_back_to_gathering_before_you_miss_the_flyby_goddammit();
    }
    else if (FLYING_BY_EARTH)
    {
        dammit_steve();
    }
}

The Military

Army Exoskeleton Prototype Helps Soldiers Learn To Shoot 62 62

An anonymous reader writes: Infantrymen live by their shooting skills, but becoming an expert marksman can take a long time. U.S. Army researchers are working on a way to improve these skills with the help of the MAXFAS, an arm exoskeleton that uses arm braces to correct involuntary arm shakes. Designed At the U.S. Army Research Laboratory by Dan Baechle, the MAXFAS has been shown to improve aim even after users have taken it off. "Soldiers need to be able to aim and shoot accurately and quickly in the chaos of the battlefield," Baechle said. "Training with MAXFAS could improve Soldiers' accuracy, and reduce current time and ammunition requirements in basic training."

Comment: Re: Wrong (Score 1) 73 73

A letter that opens with:

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly this afternoon that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

Also, it's a poorly worded letter - they wrote "the team is now working to return New Horizons to its original flight plan", which of course is going to make people think it's going to drift off course or something. Obviously, physics does not work that way. Even if New Horizons exploded today, it's remains would drift right past where it was targeted to be - there's no more burns to make this late in the game. Better wording would have been original science plan. And the science plan doesn't call for any particularly critical science in the next few days.

These sorts of faults happen in spacecraft (often due to cosmic rays), and they're designed to handle them. New Horizons seems to have handled it perfectly, taking every action that it was supposed to.

Comment: Re:From Unmannedspaceflight.com (Score 3, Interesting) 73 73

Oh and for the record: Stern calls Pluto a planet, and makes some very good arguments.

And I'll add more that he doesn't make (though his are best!): it's ridiculous to call something a "dwarf X" and then say that that doesn't count as an "X". In any other field of science, if you had an "adjective-noun", it would also be classified as a "noun". If you have a dwarf shrew, it's also a shrew. If you have a dwarf fern, it's also a fern. Heck, even in the same field, astronomy, the same rule applies - a dwarf star is also a star.

Under the IAU definition, extrasolar planets aren't planets either. They don't even have a name - they're not anything at all. Not like we'd be able to classify them under the definition without dispatching a spacecraft all the way to each different star system even if they weren't excluded. The IAU definition also claims that they will create a system to establish more dwarf planets - something that clearly has not been done. There hasn't been a new dwarf planet accepted in nearly a decade, despite the fact that we know the sizes of many of them better than already-accepted candidates were known at the time. Quaoar is much bigger than Ceres, and we know it's size down to a mere 5 kilometers margin of error, yet it's not a dwarf planet. The IAU not only made up their ridiculous definition, but they're not even upholding it.

As with pretty much every categorization of object in pretty much every field of science, you need heirarchies and multiple groupings to describe the world. Among planets, we already know of significant diversity, and should only expect it to grow - hence we have terrestrial planets, gas giants, ice giants, hot jupiters, super earths, etc, and yes, dwarf planets - which should be just another category among the significant diversity already out there. Everyone knows a planet when they see it - you don't have to scan its orbit to see if it's "cleared" it, with some still-not-yet-agreed-upon definition of "cleared". If it's large enough to relax into a hydrostatic equilibrium, that's both meaningful, intuitive, and what people expect when they hear the word "planet". By any reasonable definition, our solar system has at least dozens, potentially hundreds of planets. And that should be seen as something to celebrate, not to be appalled about.

Comment: From Unmannedspaceflight.com (Score 5, Informative) 73 73

Link

Steve5304: Rumors that Contact with new horizons has been lost again or was never regained. Unconfirmed

Alan Stern: Such rumors are untrue. The bird is communicating nominally.

Alan Stern is the director of the New Horizons mission. So no worries. :) You can see that two way communication is in progress here at the Canberra dish.

This was a really minor glitch and will have no impact on the mission as a whole. There weren't even any significant observations planned for today.

(As a side note, the closer we get to Pluto and the more we see of it (dark band at the bottom is around the equator), the more it's starting to remind me of an airless Titan :) )

NASA

Glitch Halts New Horizons Operations As It Nears Pluto 73 73

An anonymous reader writes: NASA says their New Horizons probe suffered a temporary communication breakdown on Saturday, 10 days before it's supposed to fly past Pluto. The mission team is working to restore normal communications. "Full recovery is expected to take from one to several days," NASA wrote in a status report on Saturday. "New Horizons will be temporarily unable to collect science data during that time."
ISS

Russian Progress Cargo Ship Docks With Space Station 34 34

An anonymous reader writes: An unmanned Russian cargo ship has successfully docked with the International Space Station. The successful launch, rendezvous and docking came after two resupply failures. A Progress launched in April spun out of control and a week ago, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated, destroying a supply ship loaded with supplies and equipment. "Crew reports, 'feels like Christmas in July,'" the International Space Station tweeted.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers

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