Weekly Science Scanner

Posted June 11th, 2014 at 6:20 pm (UTC+0)
2 comments

 

Man vs machine (Heather Bailey via Wikimedia Commons)

Man vs machine (Heather Bailey via Wikimedia Commons)

Score one for the machine. In an historic test of man versus machine, a cyber-teen named Eugene Goostman took a step toward toward reaching technological singularity, the so-called moment in time when artificial intelligence reaches a point where it shows greater intelligence than man.

Eugene, actually a computer program pretending to be a 13-year-old boy, passed the Turing Test, which assesses a machine’s capability to display intelligent behavior equal or equivalent to a human being.

The Eugene Goostman computer program was created Vladimir Veselov and Eugene Demchenko who live in Russia.

 

A gathering of chimpanzees (Photo: Klaus Post via Flickr/Creative Commons)

A gathering of chimpanzees (Photo: Klaus Post via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Chimps might also be catching up with humans. Working with chimps from the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute, California researchers found that man’s evolutionary relatives can outsmart and outperform humans strategically in a simple game that resembled the children’s favorite “Hide and Seek”.

The Caltech researchers said that perhaps the exceptional performance by the participating chimpanzees could be due to the animals’ excellent good short-term memory.

 

Skull reconstructions comparing chimpanzees with four hominins (University of Utah/Skulls Unlimited)

Skull reconstructions comparing chimpanzees with four hominins. (University of Utah/Skulls Unlimited)

Did our faces evolve as a result of our need to fight? University of Utah researchers recently found that the faces of some of our early human ancestors evolved to minimize the amount of facial damage the could be caused by fist-fights with competitors or adversaries.

Previous studies show that human hands evolved to help improve fighting abilities.

The Utah scientists said their new research augments their previous studies that demonstrate the strong role violence has played in human evolution.

 

Earthrise on the Moon (NASA)

Earthrise on the Moon (NASA)

Earth and the moon are about 60 million years older than we thought, according to evidence found by a pair of geochemists from France’s University of Loraine.

The researchers were able to make their findings after studying and analyzing the isotopes of xenon gas trapped inside some South African and Australian quartz, which had been previously dated to between 2.7 and 3.4 billion years old.

The researchers presented their findings at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference being held in Sacramento, California. They said that while it’s impossible to give an exact date of the Earth’s formation, their work does indicate that it is tens of millions of years older than scientists have long thought.

 

Lip of a patient with a herpes simplex lesion on the lower lip. (CDC)

Lip of a patient with a herpes simplex lesion on the lower lip. (CDC)

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), a common, incurable viral disease, has been around since long before humans first walked the Earth, according to new studies by scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

There are two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus. HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes which can result in cold sores or fever blisters around the lips and mouth area and is caused by skin-to-skin contact with someone infected with the virus. HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes and is passed via sexual contact. Its symptoms include painful blisters.

The California researchers found that the HSV-1 virus first infected hominids shortly after the evolutionary split from chimpanzees, about 6 million years ago. The HSV-2 strain jumped species from the chimp to early human ancestors about 1.6 million year ago.

 

 NASA has been trying to test its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) "flying saucer" vehicle. Shown here being prepared to shipment to the test facility in Hawaii. (NASA)


NASA has been trying to test its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) “flying saucer” vehicle. Shown here being prepared to shipment to the test facility in Hawaii. (NASA)

Mother Nature is playing the role of spoiler as NASA attempts to test its “flying-saucer” Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) vehicle. The U.S. space agency hopes the vehicle will be a viable way of safely landing bigger payloads on the surface of Mars.

The LDSD was first scheduled for test launch from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii on June 3, but was scrubbed due to adverse weather conditions.

It was rescheduled three more times due to weather reasons, the latest cancellation coming just today.

Maybe the sixth time will be the charm when NASA tries once again to test fly the LDSD on Saturday, June 14. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for optimal weather conditions!

2 Responses to “Weekly Science Scanner”

  1. […] by skin-to-skin contact with someone infected with the virus. HSV-2 usually … Read more on Voice of America (blog) […]

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