Jupiter’s Journey

Gas giants like the planet Jupiter are usually formed further away from the sun and then move closer to it’s orbit. It has now been researched by astronomers at the Lund University and revealed that over the last 700,000 years the planet has been moving ever inwards and has now migrated more than four times the distance that it was away from the sun.

The constant inward migration which was fueled by the gravitational pull of the sun, has been proved in theory in a complex computer simulation.
Simona Pirani, is a doctoral student in astronomy at Lund University as well as the lead author of the study which has used the evidence of the migration in the Trojan asteroids orbiting close to Jupiter to substantiate this theory in the science project.

The Trojan asteroids are two groups of thousands of asteroids  which were located at the same distance from the Sun as Jupiter. They have now positioned themselves around the planet and have the same migratory path. Gradually more than 50% of these asteroids have shifted in front of Jupiter and closer to the sun in the solar system. Leading the researchers to believe that the migration of the asteroids is similar to the journey made by the gas giant planet.

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Does Music Enhance Creativity?

The general consensus in popular lore is that when you play some music, you are likely to feel more creative. Research students at the Lancaster University decided to put this popular belief to test. The psychologists devised an experiment where three types of musical backgrounds were provided to the participants of the study who were involved in a problem solving exercise.

The first was background music with foreign (unfamiliar) lyrics. The second was instrumental music without any lyrics. The third was popular music with familiar lyrics. The participants of the scientific research experiment were given verbal tasks to perform as they listened to one of the three types of music playing in the background. If popular theory held true, the ones who were listening to music they identified with, should have been very creative and solved the problems quickly.

That did not seem to happen when the results of the study were collected. Dr Neil McLatchie of Lancaster University said that they found strong evidence of impaired performance when playing background music in comparison to quiet background conditions. The inference was that the music disrupted the verbal working memory and caused the participants to perform their assigned tasks poorly.

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Would You Let AI Pick Your Job?

Robots have become more intelligent and Artificial Intelligence or AI is the cause. The complicated algorithms that form the base of AI are used to solve many repetitive issues in decision making in the industrial sector. It’s a simple logic gate that is at work and ensures that production in an assembly line is as smooth as robotically possible!

Yes, the robots can be a huge help in saving man hours and utilizing resources to the best of their ability. However, would you trust AI to pick a job for a human being to do? Would you turn over your potential future to a robot to pick your next working assignment? That’s the question that researchers at Wiley tried to check with an online study comprising more than three hundred participants.

The study asked participants to make a personal strategic career choice. They were told that they were in the market for a new job, had applied to a number of positions and were accepted by many of these. Now they had to make a choice about the job they wanted to accept. They were told they could pick any job they liked by themselves, or use an algorithm to pick the most appropriate job for them. The scientific experiment in decision-delegation found that the less aware the participant was of the situation, the more likely they were to delegate the decision to AI.

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Protective Feelings for a Robot

Human beings are social by nature and tend to surround themselves with other people and animals whom they can share their lives with. Giving and receiving care and affection is a way to create stronger bonds for the human beings. Pets are also often considered part of the family.

However, would that affection and offer of protection extend to a robot? Especially when faced with the welfare of another human being? That’s the purpose of the research study being conducted at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

 Sari Nijssen said that the study set out to answer the following question: “Under what circumstances and to what extent would adults be willing to sacrifice robots to save human lives?” It was all about posing a moral dilemma for the participants. What would they choose to save given what they knew about the human and the robot.

The scientific study was seen to show that when the robot was humanoid and depicted as being compassionate and having perceptions of it’s own, people were much more likely to chose to save it. More so when they didn’t know the human beings and were familiar with the robot.

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Do Video Games Lead to Better Office Productivity?

Gaming has become a huge part of our lives. Everyone has at least a couple of video games that they have downloaded on to their smartphones. If you are on social media websites like Facebook, you are encouraged by games to compete against your friends. So when the researchers at the Brigham Young University decided to checkout how gaming affected office productivity, it was time for coworkers to play video games together.

Researchers got people to play a geocaching game. The study had 352 participants spread over 80 teams. No member of the team would have any connection to another member before this exercise. Before being sent out to geocache after the first time they were randomly asked to either play video games together, or have some quiet time, or have a goal training discussion to improve the geocaching results.

The results of the study that was published in AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, found that the team that played Video Games saw a 20% increase in productivity in the subsequent tasks that they were asked to carry out. Now that’s a call to action to take your colleagues out to a gaming arcade to bond better and perform better in office. It’s all there in the report of this science project!

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No More Phone Charging?

If charging phone batteries has been the number one draw back of using smart phones, the researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have just come up with the solution. What if your smart phone did not need a battery to function? What if it could be powered by a whole new smart technology?

Professor Tomas Palacios has been experimenting with his team to create a device called the rectenna. A discovery that accepts radio signals and converts them to electric power. Essentially wi-fi signals are captured by an integrated antenna and transformed into DC current suitable to power electric circuits.

The rectenna, as it has been named, will be able to potentially charge a smartphone, laptop, wearable devices as well as medical technology. The rectenna has generated about 40 microwatts of power from the regular 150microwatt based wi-fi signals that are usually available. The study based on the research was published in “Nature” journal.

The medical applications of this science project would prove game changing. Specially in medical implants or pills that are to work on some power once they enter the human system. The potential uses are mind boggling.

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Thoughts to Speech Via AI

People may lose their ability to speak due to a number of reasons. They could have been in an accident, or developed an illness. People suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or from a stroke may lose their power of speaking. Or it could happen due to any other reason, medical or trauma based.

Often when this happened it was no longer possible for them to communicate by talking out loud. Making a huge difference in their life and ability to function. Now a new technology based on Artificial Intelligence(AI) developed by researchers at the Columbia University may change things drastically for such people.

The AI based system monitors the brain activity of the person and helps to translate their thoughts directly into recognizable speech using speech synthesizers. It literally decodes the brain waves into thoughts that can be decoded and shared. Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Luckily the technology has now come into existence.

This is not the first science project attempting to communicate directly with the brain, however it lays the foundation to help mute people communicate in ways they did not imagine before. In the future losing your ability to speak may not equal losing your voice as well. It would make a considerable change in the way such people are viewed by society as well as their ability to integrate into society as contributing members.

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Who Will AI Replace

The advent of the factory machines sent a number of handicraft workers into oblivion. Similarly the advancement of the technologies powered by Artificial Intelligence are likely to have a significant impact on a number of commonly held human jobs. Brookings Institution has been studying the effect of AI on jobs in the US. They recently came out with a report that said almost 36 million Americans held jobs that were high exposure to automation.

That about 70% of their tasks could soon be performed by machines and robots. Here are some jobs that robots may be soon seen performing as they edge out the human competition. Cooks, waiters, short haul truck drivers and clerical office workers. Mark Muro, lead author of the report, said that humans are going to need to upskill and reskill if they need to change jobs quickly.

As per Muro the changes would occur from the next few years to the next couple of decades in the marketplace. The changes are likely to hit the smaller cities worst where there are no alternative jobs available. While economists say that automation will have an overall positive effect on the labour market, it is a fact that many people are soon going to lose their jobs to robots that are currently just science projects.

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The World Is Not Enough (WINE)

Exploring outer space is an adventure that still needs a lot of preparation by the human race. There are not many ways to power a spacecraft with humans that would be able to survive the harsh realities of space, but a NASA funded prototype craft that is steam powered may actually be able to explore these regions on it’s own forever.

The space craft called the WINE is being developed in partnership with NASA and a California based robotics firm called Honeybee Robotics. It can propel itself from asteroid to asteroid by extracting water to fuel it’s ongoing journey. Potentially making it able to explore outer space for unlimited years.

The first trials of the craft were conducted in December 2018 in the lab using simulated asteroid material. The WINE was able to mine the soil, make rocket propellant and launch itself on a jet stream extracted from the material. This can be game changing for how humankind explores the universe.

The science project is in it’s infancy and a number of changes can be made before it’s actually ready to handle outer space. However, the potential for this craft is truly amazing in scope. It could hop from the Moon to the asteroid belt, to Mars and onward using small hops all the way to Pluto.

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Ancient Ancestry Information Markers

Your DNA is the key to finding out more about your ancestry. At the University of Sheffield researchers were frustrated with the traditional methodology used to identify a skeleton and assign it to one of the ancient populations that once roamed the planet. The process was long drawn, and not always very accurate.

That’s when Eran Elhaik and his team decided to try something new. They identified a group of mutations that are sufficiently informative to identify and classify ancient populations. The Ancient Ancestry Informative Markers (aAIMs)  use the diversity that was much more prevalent in ancient times to identify which bones belonged to a certain civilization.

As per Elhaik, the people today are a lot more similar than the populations of ancient times. Finding a few relevant markers from an ancient population can make it much easier to identify them. However the problem they faced with this science project is that the ancient DNA is often degraded so much that it’s difficult to extract markers.

The team has managed to improve the system that was already in place. They just need a more comprehensive ancient DNA data base to compare the markers isolated against to improve accuracy even more.

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