The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming – Issue 83: Intelligence – Nautilus

Dennis Carroll doesn’t mean to sound callous when he says the coronavirus outbreak was predictable. And he doesn’t. He sounds sympathetic to people frightened by the outbreak. He has been an eyewitness to people around the world suffering from similar viruses. Most of all, Carroll sounds authoritative. For decades, Carroll has been a leading voice [...]

Why we like a good robot story | OUPblog

We have been telling stories about machines with minds for almost three thousand years. In the Iliad, written around 800 BCE, Homer describes the oldest known AI: “golden handmaidens” created by Hephaestus, the disabled god of metalworking. They “seemed like living maidens” with “intelligence… voice and vigour”, and “bustled about supporting their master.” In the Odyssey, Homer [...]

Seven books on the fascinating human brain [reading list] | OUPblog

The human brain is often described as the most complex object in the known universe – we know so much, and yet so little, about the way it works. It’s no wonder then that the study of brain today encompasses an enormous range of topics, from abstract understanding of consciousness to microscopic exploration of billions of neurons. [...]

Excitement, baby steps and reams of rejections – how scientific knowledge builds on itself | Aeon Videos

Getting a paper published in a respected scientific journal can be an exhilarating opportunity for researchers to contribute to their fields, but it’s often a patience-testing exercise in rejection, rewriting and waiting. In this short by the French filmmaker Charlotte Arene, the physicists Frédéric Restagno and Julien Bobroff, both of the University of Paris-Saclay, offer [...]

Heavy metal may rain from the skies of planet WASP 76b | Science News

On one distant world, “heavy metal” could be a weather forecast. Telescope observations indicate that an exoplanet nearly 400 light-years away has iron rain. The planet, dubbed WASP 76b, is an extreme kind of exoplanet known as an ultrahot gas giant (SN: 7/30/19). These worlds “are complete oddballs,” says astronomer David Ehrenreich of the University [...]

How Your Body Knows What Time It Is – Issue 83: Intelligence – Nautilus

The human mind and body have a built-in circadian system, a coordinated assembly motivated to perform certain tasks, what we might call the macrobiological clock. At the molecular level there is a circadian oscillator, specific cell groups that work together, like the mechanism of a clock, to cause a larger system of mind and body [...]

Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit Was Made by a Bra Manufacturer | History | Smithsonian Magazine

For the suit’s creator, the International Latex Corporation in Dover, Delaware, the toughest challenge was to contain the pressure necessary to support life (about 3.75 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen), while maintaining enough flexibility to afford freedom of motion. A division of the company that manufactured Playtex bras and girdles, ILC had engineers [...]

We’re Better Equipped to Find Extraterrestrial Life Now Than Ever Before | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

... however small the probability of seeing a signal from E.T. is, those chances are soon going to be a lot better than they have been in the past. Sure, after decades of listening, there is still no message. But with more data to sift through, and new technologies with superior search capabilities, odds of [...]