Jul 15, 2016

This beer was designed by artificial intelligence

posted by Larra Morris

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IntelligentX is a beer you don’t necessarily need to love on the first go. That’s because it evolves with every batch based on customer feedback, as Smithsonian reports. Billed as the “world’s first beer brewed by artificial intelligence," it uses a Facebook messenger bot to incorporate customer preferences into new batches of beer, tweaking its recipe along the way to learn how to make better brews.
via Mental Floss

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Image: 10X



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Jul 15, 2016

SwagBot to herd cattle on Australian ranches

posted by Larra Morris

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Australia, we hear, is a big place. All that space is nice to have if you’re raising cattle, except for the fact that you’ve got to keep track of them all somehow. For ranchers, this is a lot of work, and for cattle, it means that they don’t get checked on very regularly. This would be a good opportunity for robots to step in and offer some assistance, but the problem is most robots would be crazy to try getting themselves around the kind of terrain that Australia is made of.

In order to tackle the hills, dales, fields, cliffs, rivers, swamps, crocodiles, platypuses, echidnas, koalas, quolls, emus, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and dingoes (to name just a few common obstacles in Australia), researchers from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney led by Dr. Salah Sukkarieh have designed and tested an all-terrain robot called SwagBot that’s designed to be able to drive over almost anything while helping humans manage their ranchland.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: Australian Centre for Field Robotics


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Jul 14, 2016

Aerial snack drones could help save the black-footed ferret

posted by Larra Morris

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Today’s dispatch from the Annals of Wacky Conservation Schemes is a doozy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to use drones to scatter hundreds of thousands of peanut butter treats across the Montana prairie in order to save an adorable endangered ferret.

Similar to previous plans involving poisonous toad sausages and Styrofoam-stuffed dead turtles, this plan only seems silly until you learn the backstory. The tale in Montana is a relatively simple one. Once upon a time, black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) ate prairie dogs (genus Cynomys), and everyone prospered. Then along came the prairie dog plague (Yersinia pestis—yes, the very bacteria responsible for the Black Death), which massacred the prairie dogs and left the ferrets with nothing to eat. Their numbers dwindled, and dwindled, and dwindled. They would have died out altogether, had it not been for USFWS wildlife managers, who rescued enough ferrets to start a healthy captive population, then introduced them back into the wild.
via Mental Floss

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Image: KIMBERLY FRASER/USFWS VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS // CC BY 2.0

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Jul 14, 2016

3D-printing pen turns bottles and bags into statues and spaceships

posted by Larra Morris

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3D-printing pens change plastic filaments into a gel that hardens when it hits the air, allowing users to create sculptures freehand. A new company thinks that using all that plastic is expensive and wasteful, and is aiming to create a new kind of 3D pen that does its thing using old plastic bottles, bags and even folders. It's called the Renegade and it's seeking backers on Kickstarter now.
via Gizmag

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Jul 13, 2016

You are surprisingly likely to have a living doppelganger

posted by Laura Domela

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It’s on your passport. It’s how criminals are identified in a line-up. It’s how you’re recognised by old friends on the street, even after years apart. Your face: it’s so tangled up with your identity, soon it may be all you need to unlock your smartphone, access your office or buy a house.

Underpinning it all is the assurance that your looks are unique. And then, one day your illusions are smashed.

“I was the last one on the plane and there was someone in my seat, so I asked the guy to move. He turned around and he had my face,” says Neil Douglas, who was on his way to a wedding in Ireland when it happened.

“The whole plane looked at us and laughed. And that’s when I took the selfie.” The uncanny events continued when Douglas arrived at his hotel, only to find the same double at the check-in desk. Later their paths crossed again at a bar and they accepted that the universe wanted them to have a drink.
via BBC

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Jul 13, 2016

Hawaiian telescope spots a new dwarf planet beyond Neptune

posted by Larra Morris

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Just beyond Neptune lies a ring of small, icy worlds that offer insight into the formation of our Solar System, and scientists using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii, just discovered a new dwarf planet in this region that rivals Pluto and Eris in visibility. It's called RR245 and in this case, size matters -- many of the worlds in the farthest reaches of the Solar System are too small and dull for Earthbound scientists to study. Basically, when it comes to post-Neptune dwarf planets, the bigger and brighter, the better.
via Engadget

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Image: Alex Parker OSSOS team / CFH

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Jul 13, 2016

In time warping study, people unconsciously controlled blood sugar levels

posted by Larra Morris

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If a person is simply convinced that a pill or treatment is going to yield real results, it can—even if that pill or treatment is completely bogus. Those results can be pretty substantial, too. Mental maneuvering, or placebo effect, can improve pilots’ vision, help people lose weight, and even up their IQ by a few points. And, according to a new study, it may also be able to help patients manage a chronic illness.

In an experiment in which researchers duped participants about how much time had passed, the researchers found that participants’ blood sugar levels tracked with perceived time rather than actual time. That is, blood sugar dropped faster when the participants thought more time had passed. The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, support the idea that mindsets and psychological processes, like the abstract internal representation of time, can have profound influence over what our bodies do, the authors conclude.
via Ars Technica

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Image: Dennis van Zuijlekom

 

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