Today’s stories range from What ‘Happy the Elephant’s’ Legal Case Tells Us About the Future of Animal Rights to A Gull Flaps Its Wings and a Deadly Virus Explodes to Cryptocurrency and the “Greater Fool” Theory to Elon Musk on Alien Life, and much more.
Why the US navy is listening to shrimp –Clicks, grunts and whirrs could unveil undersea threats, reports David Hambling for BBC Future. “Military sonar can have a serious effect on some ocean animals. Could natural noises be used to locate undersea threats?”
A ‘Very Exciting’ Anomaly Detected in Major Experiment Could Be Huge News For Physics–A strange gap between theoretical predictions and experimental results in a major neutrino research project could be a sign of the elusive ‘sterile’ neutrino – a particle so quiet, it can only be detected by the silence it leaves in its wake, reports Science Alert.
What Is Life? Without a good definition of life, how do we look for it on alien planets? Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist, and Sheref Mansy, a chemist, to learn more on this Quanta podcast.
How Many Languages Could a Child Speak? asks The New York Times. In theory, a young person could master a broad array of tongues. But there are some inherent limits.
What Happy the Elephant’s Legal Case Tells Us About the Future of Animal Rights, reports Slate. “Happy the elephant made history on Tuesday. By arguing for her release from the Bronx Zoo, she became the first animal to have a case for animal rights decided by a court of last resort in North America. New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, unequivocally recognized that “elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion” and noted that under existing law “they are not the equivalent of ‘things’ or ‘objects.’”
Did Margaret Mead Think a Healed Femur Was the Earliest Sign of Civilization? asks Sapiens. An anthropologist digs into the origins of a popular story attributed to Margaret Mead about the original sign of civilization.
A Gull Flaps Its Wings and a Deadly Virus Explodes, reports Jim Robbins for The New York Times. This year’s outbreak of the H5N1 virus has resulted in the deaths of nearly 400,000 wild birds worldwide. Scientists are studying the pathways of contagion among species.
A race is afoot to make billions from the Moon’s resources. Here’s the story so far, reports BBC Science Focus. “A new space race has begun. Over the coming years, an armada of rockets will head to the Moon to hunt down precious resources, satisfy the urges of billionaire tourists and maybe do some intriguing science along the way.”
Google has not created sentient AI — yet, reports Dr. Louis B. Rosenberg is a computer scientist and current CEO of Unanimous AI for Big Think. “AI systems like Google’s LaMDA are based on large language models (LLMs), which are massive data sets of human conversations. These can make AI seem sentient, but the AI has no understanding of what it is saying. Humans are easily fooled, and conversational AI can be used for both constructive and nefarious purposes.”
In Its Greatest Biology Feat Yet, AI Unlocks the Complex Proteins Guarding Our DNA, reports Singularity Hub. “In a mind-bending feat, a new algorithm deciphered the structure at the heart of inheritance—a massive complex of roughly 1,000 proteins that helps channel DNA instructions to the rest of the cell.”
Cryptocurrency and the “greater fool” theory of economics –An analogy explains the greater fool theory: You don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away; you just have to run faster than the other guy, reports Big Think. It’s still too early to say if cryptocurrencies are of no use and inherently overvalued.
Congo peat: The ‘lungs of humanity’ which are under threat, reports The BBC.”A giant slab of carbon-rich peat, discovered in central Africa, is under threat from uncontrolled development – posing a significant risk for future climate change, writes BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding.”
How long does evolution take? It happens on two different timescales –To make sense of the fact that adaptation can happen quickly and yet true evolutionary change seems to take forever, biologists suggest that evolution runs on two very different clocks, reports New Scientist.
Why we shouldn’t fear the search for alien life, reports Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute for NBC Think. “But rather than hope that the extraterrestrials have launched signals our way, let’s knock on their door — and get their attention.
In call with Twitter staff, Elon Musk muses on space aliens, company’s future, reports Reuters. “Musk appeared via video call 10 minutes late to what turned out to be a freewheeling question and answer session moderated by a Twitter executive, in which Musk mused about the existence of aliens and other space civilizations and his view that Twitter should help “civilization and consciousness.”
Mystery Dent in Earth’s Magnetic Field Set To Vanish in 300 Years, reports Newsweek. “Discovered in 1958, the South Atlantic Anomaly is located in the South Atlantic off the coast of South America. This area is far weaker than at comparable latitudes. Scientists know this due to its impact on satellites—more radiation gets through at an area where the Earth’s magnetic field is weaker. This in turn can cause technical issues for spacecraft. Scientists suspect the overall shield has gotten weaker by 10 percent over the last 180 years.
ASU chosen to help solve geologic mystery on the moon. “ASU lunar exploration instrument to reveal new details about moon’s Gruithuisen Domes. On the surface of the moon stand two large geological domes of unique composition — each similar in size to Mount St. Helens — but how they formed on the lunar terrain remains a mystery.
The James Webb Space Telescope is finally ready to do science – and it’s seeing the universe more clearly than even its own engineers hoped for, reports The Conversation. “Marcia Rieke, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and the scientist in charge of one of Webb’s four cameras, explains what she and her colleagues have been doing to get this telescope up and running.”
Polar bear population discovered that can survive without sea ice–The group has adapted to hunting without sea ice, which suggests some members of the species might survive as the Arctic heats up, reports Nature.
NASA’s Perseverance rover captured images of its own litter, and it shows how Mars is becoming a junkyard, reports Business Insider.
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