BBC Horizon: Swallowed by a Black Hole
Terrestrial microbes on the moon?
There has been a long-lived bit of Apollo moon landing folklore that now appears to be a dead-end affair: microbes on the moon.
The lunar mystery swirls around the Apollo 12 moon landing and the return to Earth by moonwalkers of a camera that was part of an early NASA robotic lander – the Surveyor 3 probe.
On Nov. 19, 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean made a precision landing on the lunar surface in Oceanus Procellarum, Latin for the Ocean of Storms. Their touchdown point was a mere 535 feet (163 meters) from the Surveyor 3 lander — and an easy stroll to the hardware that had soft-landed on the lunar terrain years before, on April 20, 1967.
ELIZA: a real example of a Turing test
As part of our marking the centenary of Alan Turing, mathematician, cryptanalyst, andprogenitor of computer science, we wanted to provide you with a demonstration of one of the areas in which his work has had an influence on the English language.
The Turing test, ‘a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both’, is commonly regarded as the barrier which a computer program must break to be considered an artificial intelligence. Though he didn’t use the word himself to describe it, the test was set out by Turing in his 1950 paper Computing machinery and intelligence, published in the journal Mind.
Perhaps fortunately for us, no computer has yet passed a Turing test. Turing himself predicted that by the end of the 20th century computers with about 120MB of memory – a modest specification for the time as it turned out – would be able to pass the test in front of 30% of humans, but more recent predictions have that event happening a few decades hence. This has not, however, stopped researchers in the field of artificial intelligence from creating software that attempts to simulate intelligence, and we are presenting an early example of such an attempt here.
Hormones Impact Stress, Memories, Understanding Social Cues
Research demonstrates unexpected roles that sex hormones may play in the cognitive function of females, including memory and interpreting social cues. Additionally, a chemical identified in pregnant mice may provide insight into developmental disorders, such as schizophrenia. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
- Maternal stress can reduce levels of a chemical in the placenta that influences many other functions, such as development in mice. Additionally, the chemical could serve as a biomarker for maternal stress, a known risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and schizophrenia
- Estrogen replacement therapy in post-menopausal women may help prevent stress-related memory loss
- Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer, may protect against cognitive loss in post-menopausal women
- Estrogens, commonly thought of as a female reproductive hormone, are produced in the brains of males and females. In songbirds, estrogen may help process auditory social cues in both sexes and visual cues in males
Birth and death of stars captured by Very Large Telescope
A new image has captured the birth and death of stars in one of our closest galactic neighbours - the Large Magellanic Cloud.
It also shows the remnants a supernova explosion caused by the death of a massive star that has run out of fuel.
Located about 163,000 light-years away, the LMC is visible with the naked eye from the Southern Hemisphere.
The detailed image was taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Its nebulae - the thick clouds of gas around young and old stars - house active star-forming regions.
BBC Horizon: Playing 'God'
This documentary discusses synthetic biology and the potential of science to break down nature into spare parts and then rebuilding it back up as we wish.
Fluorescent light illuminates an embryo’s inner workings in “Baby Mouse.” The unborn mouse’s vascular system, usually red with blood, is rendered here in green. The blue coloring reveals its DNA.
Image courtesy Celeste Nelson and Joe Tien, Princeton Art of Science