Oct 28, 2017


A robot that once said it would 'destroy humans' just became the first robot citizen

An empty-eyed humanoid named Sophia has become the first robot to be granted citizenship in the world.

Saudi Arabia bestowed citizenship on Sophia ahead of the Future Investment Initiative, held in the kingdom's capital city of Riyadh on Wednesday.

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[Moderator and journalist Andrew Ross] Sorkin told Sophia that "we all want to prevent a bad future," prompting Sophia to rib Sorkin for his fatalism.

"You've been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies," Sophia told Sorkin. "Don't worry, if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input output system."

My sudden synaesthesia: How I went blind and started hearing colours

Synaesthesia is a biological condition that causes some people’s senses to cross over, so one kind of sensory response is produced by stimulation of another sense. The name derives from the Ancient Greek words for “together” and “feeling”. This sensory intermixing can occur in a multitude of different ways, involving various senses, but most synaesthetes are born with it.

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The condition was first reported over 200 years ago by an Austrian doctor named Georg Sachs, describing his own experience. In 1812, he documented in great detail what colours he associated with certain numbers and letters. During the 19th century it came to be accepted that some people experienced these colour associations, but there was debate over whether this was a condition of the brain or eye.

We now know it is entirely neurological – of the brain – as even the thought of, say, a number can elicit its associated colour for a synaesthete. It’s not uncommon for a synaesthete struggling to recall a phone number to ‘see’ their associated colours before they recall the number itself. 

Flowers Have Secret Blue Halos That Bumblebees Can See

Only a few flowers, like cornflowers and Himalayan blue poppies, have achieved true blue, and all by using special chemical tricks like adding metals to their pigments, or making their petals more alkaline. “All of this is chemically quite difficult and not many species have evolved the enzymes to do it,” says Beverley Glover from the University of Cambridge. “Even with genetic modification, people have managed to make purple, bluish roses, but true blue isn’t happening.”

So imagine her surprise when she found that many flowers have secret blue halos in their flowers.

The halos are rings at the bases of the flowers’ petals. Sometimes, they’re visible to us, especially if the petals are dark. But in most cases, they’re so faint that we can’t see them. Glover only detected them with the aid of laboratory equipment. And yet, they’re there—and they’re visible to bees, whose eyes are more sensitive to blue wavelengths of light than ours are.

Lost continent of Zealandia: Scientists return from expedition to sunken land

"Zealandia, a sunken continent long lost beneath the oceans, is giving up its 60 million-year-old secrets through scientific ocean drilling," said Jamie Allan, program director in the U.S. National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences, which supports IODP.

"This expedition offered insights into Earth's history, ranging from mountain-building in New Zealand to the shifting movements of Earth's tectonic plates to changes in ocean circulation and global climate," Allan said.

Earlier this year, Zealandia was confirmed as Earth's seventh continent, but little is known about it because it's submerged more than a kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) under the sea. Until now, the region has been sparsely surveyed and sampled.

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The new discoveries show that the formation 40 to 50 million years ago of the "Pacific Ring of Fire," an active seafloor zone along the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean, caused dramatic changes in ocean depth and volcanic activity and buckled the seabed of Zealandia, according to Dickens.

Crops evolved 10 millennia earlier than thought

Ancient hunter-gatherers began to systemically affect the evolution of crops up to thirty thousand years ago – around ten millennia before experts previously thought – according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Professor Robin Allaby, in Warwick's School of Life Sciences, has discovered that human crop gathering was so extensive, as long ago as the last Ice Age, that it started to have an effect on the evolution of rice, wheat and barley - triggering the process which turned these plants from wild to domesticated.

In Tell Qaramel, an area of modern day northern Syria, the research demonstrates evidence of einkorn being affected up to thirty thousand years ago, and rice has been shown to be affected more than thirteen thousand years ago in South, East and South-East Asia.

Furthermore, emmer wheat is proved to have been affected twenty-five thousand years ago in the Southern Levant – and barley in the same geographical region over twenty-one thousand years ago.

New Genetic Analysis Of Skin Color Will Challenge Everything You Thought You Knew About Race

When you think about race, you probably think about skin color. Although the shade of your skin might seem to be the most variable trait in regards to race, we know surprisingly little about it. That's especially true when it comes to Africa and the wide variety of skin tones found there.

Now, a landmark new study has seen scientists investigate the genetics of skin color among people in Africa. Their study, published in the journal Science, gathered genetic information from over 1,500 people and data on skin color from over 2,000 people from some of the most diverse regions of the African continent, making it the largest study of its kind to date.

According to the researchers, their findings challenge the idea of a biological concept of race.

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Their analysis found eight genetic variants within the human genome that are associated with skin pigmentation. They discovered that most variants associated with light skin (now most common in Europeans) and dark skin appear to have both originated in Africa. Furthermore, the oldest version of these variants in most cases was associated with lighter skin, suggesting that moderately pigmented skin evolved before darkly pigmented skin.

Two stars crash into each other, wobbling the universe and flinging out huge amounts of gold

Scientists have observed two stars slamming into each other deep in space, sending out huge amounts of gold in an alchemical explosion.

The super-dense stars crashed together 130 million light years away, spewing out precious metals and other heavy elements like platinum and uranium – and experts say the event has kickstarted a "new chapter in astrophysics" and confirmed theories about the origin of the mysterious neutron stars.

The huge explosion rocked the fabric of the universe, distorting spacetime. That is a major discovery in itself, marking only the fifth time that gravitational waves have been spotted on Earth.

Scientists didn't just "hear" the violent blast by seeing the ripples in spacetime. They were also able to use telescopes on satellites and the ground to see the light and radiation that was being flung out of the explosion, which is known as a "kilonova".

Disgraced evangelist Jim Bakker warns critics they will face God’s wrath for making fun of him

In video captured by Right Wing Watch, disgraced evangelist Jim Bakker raged at his critics saying, they will face the wrath of God for mocking his End Time warnings and making fun of him throughout his checkered career.

Not mentioning his time in the wilderness, after he spent time in prison after bilking his followers out of $158 million, Bakker boasted that he has made many predictions — including 9/11 — that have come true, and that he is not being treated like the prophet he is.

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Bakker then threatened damnation on those who have ridiculed him over the years.

“If you don’t want to hear it, just shut me off,” Bakker said. “Especially you folks that monitor me every day to try to destroy me. Just go away. You don’t have to be there, you don’t have to hear it. But one day, you’re going to shake your fist in God’s face and you’re going to say, ‘God, why didn’t you warn me?’ And He’s going say, ‘You sat there and you made fun of Jim Bakker all those years. I warned you but you didn’t listen.’”

Protests to mark opening of new Scientology base in Ireland

Protesters against the Church of Scientology will demonstrate outside its new base in south Dublin on Saturday.

The church has purchased the former Victory Outreach Centre in Firhouse Road for a reported €6 million as a place for its members to study and hold meetings. Such venues are known in scientology as “ Ideal Orgs ”.

The protesters, many of whom are ex-members of the church, will gather for what they anticipate will be the opening of the centre by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

The Victory Outreach Centre was formerly used as a Christian church. It accommodates 1,200 people, but the Church of Scientology has just 87 members in Ireland according to the 2016 census.

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