2022-07-02 10:17:28 ..
2022-09-19 19:08:07 UTC
2022-09-26 12:53:59 UTC --fnord666
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Researchers in Scotland have devised a way to "neutralize" creepy crawlies in the coolest way possible: by shooting them with a laser. Ildar Rakhmatulin, a research associate at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, recently partnered with a group of engineers, biologists, and machine learning specialists to create a cockroach-compromising, AI-powered laser device. Rakhmatulin had previously created Raspberry Pi and laser combinations to kill mosquitos, but after recognizing the effect roach infestations could have on the restaurant industry and general public health, he wanted to go bigger.
The system begins with a single-board Jetson Nano, a small computer capable of running deep learning algorithms. Using 1,000 images of cockroaches in different lighting, Rakhmatulin and his team trained the Nano to recognize its target and track the insect's movement. Once the two cameras attached to the device have located a roach, the Nano calculates its target's distance within 3D space. It then sends this information to a galvanometer, which uses mirrors to adjust the laser's direction. The laser can then be shot at the target.
The laser's effect varies depending on its power level. Lower power appears to trigger the insects' flight response, which the team thinks might teach roaches not to return to a particular area. Stronger power levels "neutralized" (AKA killed) the roaches. Better yet, the team is already testing it on a wider range of pests, like hornets.
Ildar Rakhmatulin, Mathieu Lihoreau, Jose Pueyo. Selective neutralisation and deterring of cockroaches with laser automated by machine vision [open], Oriental Insects (DOI: 10.1080/00305316.2022.2121777)
Together, the studies provide a "nice, rigorous association" between fungi and cancer, said Ami Bhatt, an associate professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford University who did not work on either paper. "It provides pretty compelling evidence there may be rare fungi within tumors," she said. But the work raises far more questions than it answers. "Are they alive or not? And assuming they really are there, then why are they there? And how did they get there?"
[...] But once the fungi are there, if indeed they are alive and doing stuff, then what exactly are they doing? The experiments done thus far don't probe whether fungi in cancer are merely opportunistic bystanders or if they might be accomplices in cancer. "We don't have the experiments to present a causal link between tumor initiation or progression and fungi," she said. "But this really encourages future research to think about designing experiments with microbiome and mycobiome investigations in mind."
[...] Or, since the fungi rarely exist in the body without bacterial neighbors, perhaps there are interactions between fungi, bacteria, and the human body that drive cancer outcomes. "Fungi can be food for bacteria and vice versa," Livyatan said. "They can even live within bacteria or bacteria can live within fungi. They can do a lot of biochemistry. Any of those avenues might have an effect."
The research arm of US intelligence has begun investigating methods for spotting low doses of ionizing radiation to better protect American service personnel and provide evidence of nuclear technology use.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) announced the start of Targeted Evaluation of Ionizing Radiation Exposure (TEI-REX) on Friday, which will look for non-invasive methods of determining radiation exposure in low doses through samples including hair, skin, sweat, and saliva.
In its technical explanation [PDF] of the program, IARPA said current methods of collecting biodosimetry data, which looks at the effects of radiation on human or animal tissue, have a number of issues: it can require invasive samples, such as blood; multiple collections are often required; there's a time limit for getting an accurate reading; the markers used to calculate doses are transient; and there's a wide standard deviation of dose calculations for low-dose exposure.
[...] Other uses include better radiation exposure measurements for military personnel, who often aren't carrying dosimetry badges; detecting and tracking down radiation sources and nuclear contamination out in the field; and testing in remote locations – such as space – where astronauts are exposed to much more radioactivity than those of us on Earth.
On September 5, 2021, light from a very energetic gamma-ray burst (GRB) – an immensely energetic explosion that occurred in a distant galaxy – reached our planet. It had travelled for over 12.8 billion years to reach Earth. The glow started its travels when the Universe (thought to be 13.7 billion years old) was just 880 million years old.
In the months that followed this discovery, an international team of astronomers continued to observe the afterglow of the explosion to learn more about the event that triggered it. The team was led by Dr Andrea Rossi, researcher at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF). Also involved was Professor Carole Mundell from the University of Bath.
The researchers concluded that the GRB responsible for the glow was one of the most distant and energetic ever detected. Not only, but its afterglow was one of the most luminous on record.
[...] Professor Mundell, Hiroko Sherwin Chair in Extragalactic Astronomy and head of Astrophysics at Bath, was also involved in the research. She says: "As one of the most powerful and distant cosmic explosions yet found, this rare Gamma-Ray Burst joins a tiny club of such bursts discovered from early in the history of the Universe – and this one is from the brightest host galaxy ever detected.
"This discovery gives us new understanding and confirmation that massive stars – which live fast and die hard – are forming and evolving early in the universe."
The GRB observed in this study was the 'long' kind, meaning it came from a black hole that would have arisen from the catastrophic collapse of a massive star. 'Short' GRBs are usually linked to the collision of compact objects such as neutron stars.
A. Rossi, D. D. Frederiks, D. A. Kann, et al., A blast from the infant Universe: The very high-z GRB 210905A⋆ [open], A&A, 665, 2022. DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202243225
A delivery drone operated by Alphabet subsidiary Wing crashed into power lines in the Australian town of Browns Plains yesterday, knocking out power for more than 2,000 customers.
The drone, which was carrying an unknown payload, made what Wing described to Australian media as a "precautionary controlled landing" that led it to "[come] to rest on an overhead power line."
The crew who responded to the incident, Energex spokesman Danny Donald told The Age, they didn't even have to get the drone down off the lines. "It landed on top of 11,000 volts and whilst it didn't take out power, there was voltage tracking across the drone and the drone caught fire and fell to the ground," Donald said. "So we didn't actually have to get the drone off, as such."
Energex, the electricity company responsible for power in the region, said that there was no permanent damage to the network, and so Wing wouldn't be responsible for any repairs.
While 2,000 locals lost power for around 45 minutes, an additional 300 were left in the dark for three hours so Energex workers could be sure there was no damage to the lines, Donald said.
[...] While Wing's drones don't appear to have ever caused another power outage, hobby drones have been responsible for similar occurrences – like in 2017 when a quadcopter took out power in Google's home town of Mountain View, California, for close to three hours after crashing into a power line and burning to a crisp.
In that instance a lot more damage occurred, with city officials saying the crash necessitated tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
It's those sorts of incidents that Energex seems more concerned about, as Donald said he'd never seen a commercial drone accident like the Browns Plains one. What he has seen, he said, were a lot of power line-related accidents over the years involving toys.
When it comes to showing affection towards people, many dogs are naturals. Now comes word reported in the journal Ecology and Evolution on September 20th that the remarkable ability to show attachment behaviour toward human caregivers also exists in wolves.
The findings were made when researchers at Stockholm University, Sweden, tested 10 wolves and 12 dogs in a behavioural test specifically designed to quantify attachment behaviours in canids. During this test 23-week-old wolves spontaneously discriminated between a familiar person and a stranger just as well as dogs did, and showed more proximity seeking and affiliative behaviours towards the familiar person. Additionally, the presence of the familiar person acted as a social stress buffer for the wolves calming them in a stressful situation. These discoveries build on a slowly accumulating body of evidence contradicting the hypothesis that the abilities necessary to form attachment with humans, arose in dogs only after humans domesticated them at least 15,000 years ago.
[...] "That was exactly what we saw," says Dr. Hansen Wheat. "It was very clear that the wolves, as the dogs, preferred the familiar person over the stranger. But what was perhaps even more interesting was that while the dogs were not particularly affected by the test situation, the wolves were. They were pacing the test room. However, the remarkable thing was that when the familiar person, a hand-raiser that had been with the wolves all their lives, re-entered the test room the pacing behaviour stopped, indicating that the familiar person acted as a social stress buffer for the wolves. I do not believe that this has ever been shown to be the case for wolves before and this also complements the existence of a strong bond between the animals and the familiar person."
[...] "Wolves showing human-directed attachment could have had a selective advantage in early stages of dog domestication," she says.
Christina Hansen Wheat, Linn Larsson, Patricia Berner, Hans Temrin, Human-directed attachment behavior in wolves suggests standing ancestral variation for human–dog attachment bonds [open], Ecology and Evolution, 2022. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.9299
Lyra V2 is summed up by Google as being "a better, faster, and more versatile speech codec...a new architecture that enjoys a wider platform support, provides scalable bitrate capabilities, has better performance, and generates higher quality audio."
Lyra V2 makes use of the SoundStream end-to-end neural audio codec, continues showing much better performance than the Opus audio codec, improved audio quality, and more. The Lyra V2 open-source code is available today.
Lyra 1.2.0 on GitHub. New features:
- Speed is significantly faster (~5x improvement seen on Android devices).
- The SoundStream-based model produces significantly higher quality speech (when comparing 3kbps V1 to 3.2 kbps V2).
- Selectable bitrate (3200, 6000, 9200 bits per second).
- Codec latency reduced from 100 ms to 20 ms.
- Mac and Windows support (in addition to continuing support for Linux and Android). Note: we have verified that these build, and run correctly, but have numerous compilation and linker warnings (Windows in particular due to MSVC/gcc mismatch). These issues and support for other platforms like iOS can be addressed by modifying the .bazelrc file. We welcome community contributions for this.
- More portable code: The TensorFlow Lite model in the .tflite files can be used in other platforms. The TFLite runtime is optimized for individual platforms, replacing the need to write platform specific assembly.
Firefly Aerospace's Alpha launch vehicle reached orbit on its second launch Oct. 1, more than a year after the vehicle's first launch failed.
The Alpha rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Space Force Base at 3:01 a.m. Eastern. The rocket's upper stage achieved orbit nearly eight minutes later. After a circularization burn, the upper stage deployed its payloads, and Firefly declared "100% Mission success" about one hour and 45 minutes after liftoff.
[...] The "To The Black" test flight carried several satellites to be deployed into a 300-kilometer orbit inclined at 137 degrees. The Teachers in Space – Serenity 3U cubesat is designed to collect basic flight data for use by educators. NASA's TechEdSat-15 3U cubesat includes several technology demonstration payloads, such as an "exo-brake" intended to provide a targeted reentry of the cubesat. A PicoBus deployer carried six PocketQube satellites for AMSAT Spain, Fossa and Libra Space Foundation.
The U.S. Space Systems Command announced Sept. 30 it selected Firefly Space Transport Services and Millennium Space Systems to conduct a demonstration of a rapid-response space mission to low Earth orbit in 2023.
The companies will perform a Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) mission as part of a broader effort by the U.S. Space Force to accelerate the timeline for deploying payloads to orbit.
Previously: Rocket 'Terminated' in Fiery Explosion Over Pacific Ocean (2021)
Northrop Grumman Picks Firefly to Replace Russian Engines on Antares Rocket
Watch Firefly Aerospace Try to Reach Orbit for 1st Time Sunday
Google will shut down its Stadia cloud game service on January 18, 2023. All Stadia hardware and software purchases made through Google will be refunded:
Stadia's technology will live on as a Google Cloud product called "Immersive Stream for Games." Google has made some headway pitching the feature as a way to run games on underpowered devices, like Peloton fitness equipment.
Google Stadia never lived up to its initial promise. The service, which ran a game in the cloud and sent each individual frame of video down to your computer or phone, was pitched as a gaming platform that would benefit from Google's worldwide scale and streaming expertise. While it was a trailblazing service, competitors quickly popped up with better scale, better hardware, better relationships with developers, and better games. The service didn't take off immediately and reportedly undershot Google's estimates by "hundreds of thousands" of users. Google then quickly defunded the division, involving the high-profile closure of its in-house development studio before it could make a single game.
Competitors include Nvidia's GeForce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Amazon Luna.
See also: Stadia controllers could become e-waste unless Google issues Bluetooth update
Stadia's technology will go on to do greater things, but no one really cares anymore
Stadia died because no one trusts Google
From a box of Cracker Jack to The Da Vinci Code, everybody enjoys deciphering secret messages. But biomedical engineers at Duke University have taken the decoder ring to place it's never been before — the patterns created by bacterial colonies.
Depending on the initial conditions used, such as nutrient levels and space constraints, bacteria tend to grow in specific ways. The researchers created a virtual bacterial colony and then controlled growth conditions and the numbers and sizes of simulated bacterial dots to create an entire alphabet based on how the colonies would look after they fill a virtual Petri dish. They call this encoding scheme emorfi.
The encoding is not one-to-one, as the final simulated pattern corresponding to each letter is not exactly the same every time. However, the researchers discovered that a machine learning program could learn to distinguish between them to recognize the letter intended.
"A friend may see many images of me over the course of time, but none of them will be exactly the same," explained Lingchong You, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke. "But if the images are all consistently reinforcing what I generally look like, the friend will be able to recognize me even if they're shown a picture of me they've never seen before."
[...] Give the cypher a try yourself. You can type in anything from your name to the Gettysburg Address, or even the Christmas classic, "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."
Jia Lu, Ryan Tsoi, Nan Luo, et al. New encryption method uses simulated bacterial growth based on specific initial conditions to form patterns corresponding to letters [open], Patterns, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.patter.2022.100590
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
In 1918, the steam-powered SS Mesaba sank in the Irish Sea after being hit by a torpedo from a German submarine during World War I. The ship might have been forgotten, except that it had ties to the infamous Titanic disaster of 1912. On Tuesday, Bangor University announced that the shipwreck of the Mesaba has been located.
Mesaba was a merchant vessel traveling in the same waters as the Titanic. According to the Encyclopedia Titanica, a repository of Titanic research, the Mesaba sent the large passenger ship a radio message cautioning of heavy pack ice and a great number of large icebergs. The message, however, was never relayed to the Titanic's bridge. The Titanic struck an iceberg and sank later that evening, in a disaster that claimed more than 1,500 lives.
The research team found the Mesaba among 273 shipwrecks scattered across 7,500 square miles (19,400 square kilometers) of the sea. The researchers used an advanced seafloor mapping technology called multibeam sonar and combined the results with historical records and maritime archives to identify the merchant ship's final resting place. A dramatic sonar image shows the Mesaba split into two main parts.
Air travel must often be approached with the same attitude you'd bring to a game show: wary yet eager as you throw caution to the wind and embrace the unknown in the name of a new adventure. Maybe you'll have a good experience, with straightforward ticket prices and working in-flight Wi-Fi; maybe you'll lose everything at the last minute, having been hit with a canceled flight just moments after unexpectedly having to pony up for a checked bag. A lack of airline accountability can make for a whirlpool of exasperating (and financially painful) circumstances. Soon, this could change, as yesterday the White House proposed a slew of regulations that would protect air travelers from shady airline practices.
First up on the docket would be disclosing flight-related fees upfront. As of now, you often don't see extraneous fees until you go to pay for a flight. Other times, it's not clear what fees might be charged to change your flight, or you could get to the gate without ever having learned the cost of sitting with your child. The White House's new rule would require that airlines and travel search websites "disclose upfront—the first time an airfare is displayed—any fees charged to sit with your child, for changing or canceling your flight, and for checked or carry-on baggage."
A second proposed rule would require airlines to refund travelers for in-flight Wi-Fi that they purchased but couldn't use. (Yes, you read that right: airlines can currently charge you for internet connectivity, fail to provide it, and then refuse to give you a refund.) Though only Wi-Fi was named in the US Department of Transportation's press release, the rule would also protect other services purchased yet never fulfilled.
What sort of fees have you unexpectedly been hit with on a flight?
Bruce Willis has sold the "digital twin" rights to his likeness for commercial video production use, according to a report by The Telegraph. This move allows the Hollywood actor to digitally appear in future commercials and possibly even films, and he has already appeared in a Russian commercial using the technology.
Willis, who has been diagnosed with a language disorder called aphasia, announced that he would be "stepping away" from acting earlier this year. Instead, he will license his digital rights through a company called Deepcake. The company is based in Tbilisi, Georgia, and is doing business in America while being registered as a corporation in Delaware.
Deepcake obtained Willis' likeness by training a deep learning neural network model on his appearances in blockbuster action films from the 1990s. With his facial appearance known, the model can then apply Willis's head to another actor with a similar build in a process commonly called a deepfake. Deepfakes have become popular in recent years on TikTok, with unauthorized deepfakes of Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves gathering large followings.
The event marked the first time that Hubble and Webb simultaneously observed the same object.
NASA's first attempt at nudging an asteroid from its usual orbital path was captured by the DART spacecraft itself, its companion spacecraft, LICIACube, and various ground-based observatories on Earth. And as promised, the celestial smash up was also observed by the Hubble and Webb space telescopes, the first images from which were released today.
The recently commissioned Webb Space Telescope captured one image of the Didymos-Dimorphos system before the collision and several in the hours after the event. In total, Webb performed five hours of observations, capturing 10 images. Astronomer Heidi Hammel from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy led the viewing session.
[...] The newly released Hubble image shows plenty of surface material emanating from Dimorphos, with rays extending out from its body. Some of the rays have a slight curve to them, which astronomers will need to study and explain. Fascinatingly, the brightness of the Didymos-Dimorphos system increased three-fold after the impact, and this brightness held steady for eight hours. Again, this is something astronomers will need to explain.
Hubble will perform 10 more observations of the system over the next three weeks. "These regular, relatively long-term observations as the ejecta cloud expands and fades over time will paint a more complete picture of the cloud's expansion from the ejection to its disappearance," the ESA release stated.
Saudi Arabia's government-funded gaming conglomerate The Savvy Gaming Group will invest $37.8 billion in gaming as part of a controversial effort to expand the kingdom's role in the sector.
Savvy has earmarked more than $13 billion "for the acquisition and development of a leading game publisher to become a strategic development partner," according to the kingdom's press agency.
From Reuters we read:
Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group, owned by sovereign wealth fund PIF, will invest 142 billion riyals ($37.8 billion) in initiatives aimed at making the kingdom a global hub for gaming, state news agency SPA said on Thursday.
The investments will include 70 billion riyals to take several minority stakes in companies that support Savvy's game development agenda and 50 billion riyals to acquire "a leading game publisher to become a strategic development partner".
Another 20 billion riyals will be invested in mature industry partners who bring expertise to Savvy's portfolio and 2 billion riyals will target industry disruptors "to grow early-stage games and esports companies."
Not seeing how making video games passes my 7th grade "this is what your government does" chapter.