It’s Official: NASA’s Peer-Reviewed EM Drive Paper Has Finally Been Published

Science Alert has published these interesting news: It’s Official: NASA’s Peer-Reviewed EM Drive Paper Has Finally Been Published.

In case you’ve missed the hype, the EM Drive, or Electromagnetic Drive, is a propulsion system first proposed by British inventor Roger Shawyer back in 1999.

Instead of using heavy, inefficient rocket fuel, it bounces microwaves back and forth inside a cone-shaped metal cavity to generate thrust.

According to Shawyer’s calculations, the EM Drive could be so efficient that it could power us to Mars in just 70 days.

But, there’s a not-small problem with the system. It defies Newton’s third law, which states that everything must have an equal and opposite reaction.

According to the law, for a system to produce thrust, it has to push something out the other way. The EM Drive doesn’t do this.

This is a good reminder that we are far from knowing everything and there are inventions to be made, laws of nature discovered, and knowledge acquired.  Exciting!

Trust in Automation

Trust in Automation is by far the best thing I’ve read on the subjects of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and their affects on human society.  There are plenty of links and quotes that make you think and want you to learn more … until you don’t.  It’s not depressing, but it is quite concerning.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article (some of them are quotes of other people), which I liked:

As the cost of labor goes up and the cost of machinery goes down, at some point, it’ll be cheaper to use machines than people. With the increase in productivity, the GDP goes up, but so does unemployment. What do you do? … The best way is to reduce the time a certain portion of the population spends living, and then find ways to keep them busy.

—Jingfang Hao, Folding Beijing (2014)

Also this one:

If you think discrimination is bad today, just wait until the machines take over. They will discriminate based on the the shade of your iris, the shape of your brow, the size of a tatoo, or any arbitrary collection of low-level traits whose presence triggers a subtle bias.

Largest digital survey of the sky mapped billions of stars

Engadget reports:

An international team of astronomers have released two petabytes of data from the Pan-STARRS project that’s also known as the “world’s largest digital sky survey.” Two petabytes of data, according to the team, is equivalent to any of the following: a billion selfies, one hundred Wikipedias or 40 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with single-spaced text. The scientists spent four years observing three-fourths of the night sky through their 1.8 meter telescope at Haleakala Observatories on Maui, Hawaii, scanning three billion objects in the Milky Way 12 times in five different filters. Those objects included stars, galaxies, asteroids and other celestial bodies.

Wow … this is mind blowing at the very least …

See the image above? That’s the result of half a million 45-second exposures taken over four years. They’re releasing even more detailed images and data in 2017 — for now, you can check out what the team released to the public on the official Pan-STARRS website.

 

How cancer was created by the evolution

BBC has a rather lengthy article on how cancer was created by the evolution.  The gist of it is not very cheerful:

But a more telling reason for the rise is that humans, on average, live a lot longer than they used to. “If you live long enough you will get cancer,” says Biankin.

“If we decide that we all want to live to more than 70, then we have to accept that sooner or later we will get some sort of cancer,” says Bardelli. It is inevitable because our cells have not evolved to maintain their DNA for as long as we now live, he says.

However, there is some really amazing photography of cancer cells and the like.

CP695J Cancer cell scientific 3d illustration
CP695J Cancer cell scientific 3d illustration

Self-driving cars’ unexpected side effect …

Slashdot links to a rather unexpected prediction for the time when we are all driven by the robot cars:

“At least one expert is anticipating that, as the so-called ‘smart’ cars get smarter, there will eventually be an increase in an unusual form of distracted driving: hanky-panky behind the wheel.”

Coldest, oldest, fastest : 10 extreme sea creatures

Coldest, oldest, fastest : 10 extreme sea creatures – these are amazing, both in looks and facts.  Here are my favorite two.

Angler Fish Photo: Edith Widder
Angler Fish
Photo: Edith Widder

Anglerfish inhabit the deep sea, and for a century they baffled marine biologists. At first only female anglerfish were known; where the males were and what they looked like was a complete mystery. Then a parasitologist began studying the worm-like parasites generally attached to anglerfish females. What he found, instead of parasites, were anglerfish males — each undergoing a radical transformation. When a male anglerfish is tiny, he finds and attaches to a female. First his jaws dissolve and his bloodstream fuses with the female’s. Then his brain disappears and his guts shrink. Eventually he is little more than a testis, fertilizing the eggs of one female, for the rest of his life.

Anemone purple anemonefish CC BY-SA 3.0 Photo: Nick Hobgood Purple anemone (Heteractis magnifica) and resident anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) (clownfish) in East Timor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocellaris_clownfish#mediaviewer/File:Anemone_purple_anemonefish.jpg
Anemone purple anemonefish
CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo: Nick Hobgood
Purple anemone (Heteractis magnifica) and resident anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) (clownfish) in East Timor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocellaris_clownfish#mediaviewer/File:Anemone_purple_anemonefish.jpg

Clownfish families were made famous in ‘Finding Nemo,’ but real ones have more peculiar lives than the movie lets on. In a sea anemone where the clownfish live, the biggest fish is always a female, laying all the eggs. The next biggest fish is a functional male, fertilizing them. And lots of smaller clownfish are immature males. When the female dies or is eaten by a predator, the biggest male switches sex to become female. At the same time the biggest immature male grows into a functional male that can fertilize the eggs. This conveyor belt system of parenting assures a constant supply of baby Nemos.