Category: Science

5 corrupt reasons why people deny the climate crisis


The fossil fuel industry, political lobbyists, media moguls, and individuals have spent the past 30 years sowing doubt about the reality of climate change – where none exists. The latest estimate is that the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy. Their hold on the public seems to be waning. Two recent polls suggested over 75 percent of Americans think humans are causing climate change. School climate strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests, national governments declaring a climate emergency, improved media coverage of climate change…

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How the ‘bigger is better’ mentality is damaging AI research


Something you’ll hear a lot is that the increasing availability of computing resources has paved the way for important advances in artificial intelligence. With access to powerful cloud computing platforms, AI researchers have been able to train larger neural networks in shorter timespans. This has enabled AI to make inroads in many fields such as computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing. But what you’ll hear less is the darker implications of the current direction of AI research. Currently, advances in AI are mostly tied to scaling deep learning models and creating neural networks with more layers and parameters. According to artificial intelligence…

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Dopamine fasting: an expert reviews the latest craze in Silicon Valley


It’s the latest fad in Silicon Valley. By reducing the brain’s feel-good chemical known as dopamine – cutting back on things like food, sex, alcohol, social media, and technology – followers believe that they can “reset” the brain to be more effective and appreciate simple things more easily. Some even go so far as avoiding all social activities and even eye contact. The exercise, dubbed “dopamine fasting” by San Francisco psychologist Dr. Cameron Sepah, is now getting increasing international attention. But what exactly is it? And does it work? As someone who studies the brain’s reward system, I’d like to…

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These new technologies will soon answer our biggest questions about the universe


In 1900, so the story goes, prominent physicist Lord Kelvin addressed the British Association for the Advancement of Science with these words: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.” How wrong he was. The following century completely turned physics on its head. A huge number of theoretical and experimental discoveries have transformed our understanding of the universe, and our place within it. Don’t expect the next century to be any different. The universe has many mysteries that still remain to be uncovered – and new technologies will help us to solve them over the next 50 years.…

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Scientists are underestimating the threat of invisible pollutants to wildlife


Sometimes, pollution is blatantly obvious: the iridescent slick of an oil spill, goopy algae washing up on a beach or black smoke belching from a smokestack. But, more often than not, pollution is more inconspicuous. Our air, water, land, and wildlife are tainted with thousands of chemicals that we cannot see, smell or touch. It may not come as a surprise then, that this unnoticed pollution isn’t considered an important threat to wildlife that it should be. The planet has entered the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals, according to scientists, and Canada is not immune. More than half…

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Scientists lured fish back to The Great Barrier Reef by making it sound alive


The Earth’s coral reefs are dying and they need our help. We either have to come up with some magical way to trick fish into returning and spawning or convince the planet’s politicians and business leaders to take the climate crisis seriously. And since science can’t do the impossible, a team of international researchers has taken on the problem of convincing fish to make the beast with two dorsal fins in the hollowed out bones of a coral graveyard. The team posited that dead coral reefs don’t sound or smell the same as lively ones. In order to test this…

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How babies can teach AI to understand classical and quantum physics


A team of researchers from MIT recently tapped the amazing potential of the human brain to develop an AI model that understands physics as good as some humans. And by some, we mean three-month-old babies. It might not sound like much, but at three months old an infant has a basic grasp of how physical things work. They understand advanced concepts such as solidity and permanence – objects typically don’t pass through one another or disappear – and they can predict motion. To study this, researchers show infants videos of objects acting the way they should, such as passing behind…

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Scientists were wrong, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not dying


In the last 10 years, but in the last five months in particular, the press has reported dire warnings that the Great Red Spot of Jupiter is dying. However, some astronomers believe, to paraphrase Mark Twain, that the reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, or at least premature. Robert Hooke, an early British physicist who discovered cells, first described the Great Red Spot in 1665. In 1979, when two Voyager spacecraft flew close by Jupiter, images showed that the spot was a red cloud that rotated as part of a huge vortex several times larger than the Earth. Concerns…

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Amazon fires are melting glaciers in the Andes even faster


If you have turned on a TV or read the news during the past few months, you have probably heard of the widespread fires that wrought havoc on the Amazon rainforest this year. Fires occur in the rainforest every year, but the past 11 months saw the number of fires increase by more than 70 percent when compared with 2018, indicating a major acceleration in land-clearing by the country’s logging and farming industries. The smoke from the fires rose high into the atmosphere and could be seen from space. Some regions of Brazil became covered in thick smoke that closed…

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MIT engineers made a cheaper and more efficient device to trap carbon dioxide


Capturing carbon dioxide from smokestacks, and even removing it directly from air, might be the only way to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Engineers at MIT have now created a device to trap carbon dioxide that is much less energy-intensive and costly than today’s technologies. The device, reported in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, works a lot like a battery. It absorbs carbon dioxide from air passing over its electrodes. It could be made as small and large as needed, making it easy to use at different carbon dioxide emission sources. And unlike today’s carbon-capture techniques, it works…

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