Theia, Earth, and the Moon: Planetary smash-up reveals fainting in the neurons responsible for syncope, starfishing, and rock fragmentation
Experiments in mice have identified the neuronsresponsible for syncope — otherwise known as fainting. Plus, chunks of a different planet are stuck in Earth’s mantle and how a starfish would wear trousers.
There are two rocks in the earth’s mantle that could be from the moon’s planetary smash-up. The formations are thousands of kilometres long and slightly denser than their surroundings, sitting between the crust and the core. The simulations suggest that they are from a planet that was smashed into Earth 4.5 billion years ago. Some of Theia’s remnants were flung into orbit, where they coalesced into the Moon.
Can artificial intelligence systems be trained to make ethical choices? An experimental study of human bacterium-resistant antibiotics in the UK and the 21 Group
A new antibiotic might address a rise in a drug-resistant form of the bacterium. The disease is often symptomless, and can cause infertility if left untreated. The new drug that was tested with more than 900 people was as effective and safe as the two older drugs. The researchers warn that people should be careful if they use the antibiotic to avoid the bacterium developing resistance to it.
Academics at several UK universities have set up an initiative to fight harassment. The establishment of an independent advocate for people to turn to if their institutions handle complaints poorly is advocated for by the 21 Group. The researcher says perpetrators are almost always protected.
Can artificial intelligence (AI) systems be taught to make ethical choices? Human judgement is shaped by social interactions — and virtual ‘peer pressure’ for chatbots, in which ones trained with ethical standards interact with others to teach them how to behave, could mimic this process. The part of a system that is bad can be excised with a sort of brain surgery. How AI systems are supposed to deal with differing opinions is an open question. A cognitive scientist says they are looking at governance ideas. Ethical AI could even lead to insights about why humans make the moral choices they do, “to help humans be better at being human”, says computer scientist Oren Etzioni.
Nature Outlook: Robotics and artificial intelligence was produced with financial support from the FII Institute.
How starfish loses their legs in the early stages of war for a future quantum computer? Why does the International Atomic Energy Agency decide to let the world know?
A future quantum computer could potentially lose your data even though it has not been built, according to mathematicianDustin Moody. He’s one of the scientists working on ways to encrypt data that will resist quantum computers’ attempts at unravelling them. The task is urgent: spy agencies or cybercriminals could collect encrypted data now and simply wait for the technology to catch up. Of 69 potentially quantum-resistant algorithms that the US National Institute of Standards and Technology chose in late 2017, up to 30 have already been broken or suffered significant attack. Moody says the strongest will survive.
The International Atomic Energy Agency was created with the aim of promoting the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology while curtailing its military use. Harry Law and Lewis Ho write that the International Atomic Energy Agency secured support for measures to limit proliferation by providing a mechanism for sharing the benefits of nuclear technology. They contend that states on the frontier of artificial intelligence development could be inspired by the dual mandate. The benefits of artificial intelligence can be harnessed by other countries. This could incentivize buy-in to a system of global governance.”
If a starfish were getting ready for a day out, wouldn’t it cover each of its arms with its trousers? This animation shows how the silly question shows a puzzle with bilateral symmetry and how the starfish’s body plan evolved.
Pediatric-obesity researcher David Ludwig says that parents and others must fight back against the normalization of ultraprocessed foods to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. 29 minutes read by the New York Times.
Brains that aren’t: AI safety nets for neuroscience and a psychology-based advice for publishing research on race, ethnicity and culture
New AI-safety plans have been whipped up by the United States and by leaders at a UK-hosted summit Plus, a bold call for the ‘right to science’ and how our nostrils smell in stereo.
A summit in the United Kingdom produced a Declaration which pledges international collaboration to manage the risks posed by the most advanced systems.
The region of the brain that deals with smells knows when a nostril whiffs the scent. Researchers pumped smells into the nose of people who were awake for brain surgery and recorded their neural activity. When a scent was delivered to a single nostril, the side of the piriform cortex that was closest to that nostril reacted first. The scent on both sides seemed to synergize when odors was delivered to both nostrils. Helping the brain to double-check what it is smelling with dual signals would be a great idea.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has released its first recommendations for authors, reviewers and editors on how to address race, ethnicity and culture more equitably when publishing research. The guidelines are related to work done by the APA to make sense of racism in the US and the use of psychological research to support Eugenics.
How scientists can better protect themselves from climate change: Henry Neufeldt, UNEP and the High Commissioner for Human Rights (HEHEC) writes about how countries weave an AI safety net
Poor nations are receiving only a fraction of what they need to adapt to climate change — despite being promised the money by rich countries, which are most responsible for causing the problem. Henry Neufeldt, chief scientific editor of a new report from the UNEP, says that when it comes to coastal flood protection, studies show that you avoid 14 billion dollars in damages if you invest $1 billion. “We have floods, droughts and heatwaves all over the world and it’s just getting worse and worse. This newest data is a wake-up call.”
An array of spreadsheets, courses and online resources are available to support principal investigators leading their first research groups. “You’re used to being a scientist and now, all of a sudden, you’re a manager, you’re teaching classes and you have to physically build up your lab,” notes bioengineer Katharina Maisel. This feature is here to help, with tips to manage money better, sort out supplies, build lab culture, find a community and get leadership training.
The UN high commissioner for human rights says that human rights must be our guide if we want to navigate the era of global boiling. He argues that too many governments and industry leaders are shutting their eyes to science and using experts to undermine scientific facts. “Human rights are not simply laws or an ideology — they are the key to survival of our species.”
The future state of oceans, their wildlife, and the food systems that depend on them are all predicted by understanding marine microbes. “Presently, there is little confidence in, or even consensus on, predictions of how marine microbes will react to changes in the climate,” he writes. He outlines areas in which scientists from different areas can work together.
Redefiniting the genetics behind a banned orange petunia: An essay by Sara Abdou and Francco Rucci
Sara Abdou is analyzing the genetics behind petunias by collecting floral tissue samples from them. In 2015, a coworker found a orange petunia growing at a railway station. He discovered that the plant was coloured due to an unauthorized genetic modification, which led to it being banned in a number of countries. “I was eager to create orange petunias not by introducing a gene from another species, but by fixing the genetic pathway that stops petunias being naturally orange,” says Abdou. The Nature was read for three minutes by Francco Rucci and Francesco Marinelli.