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Google's Artificial Intelligence Masters Classic Atari Video Games

Think you’re good at classic arcade games such as Space Invaders, Breakout and Pong? Think again. In a groundbreaking paper published yesterday in Nature, a team of researchers led by DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis reported developing a deep neural network that was able to learn to play such games at an expert level.

Pluto a Planet Again? It May Happen This Year

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, and NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will arrive there on March 6.

Eye Tracking Is Coming Soon to a Computer Near You

  Eye tracking devices sound a lot more like expensive pieces of scientific research equipment than joysticks – yet if the latest announcements about the latest Assassin’s Creed game are anything to go by, eye tracking will become a commonplace feature of how we interact with computers, and particularly games.

Mars One Finalist: "I Could Sow the Seeds of a New Civilization"

This article was originally published on The Conversation. I have always been in awe of the night sky, trying to comprehend the vastness of space and the countless wonders it contains.

Infinity Is a Beautiful Concept – And It's Ruining Physics

I was seduced by infinity at an early age. Georg Cantor’s diagonality proof that some infinities are bigger than others mesmerized me, and his infinite hierarchy of infinities blew my mind.

Gold Jewelry's Dirty Environmental Secret

Gold is a modern expression of love, and every Valentine’s Day thousands of shoppers browse boutique windows full of the stuff.

In the Brain, Romantic Love Is Basically an Addiction

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it,” Albert Einstein reportedly said. I’d like to broaden the definition of addiction—and also retire the scientific idea that all addictions are pathological and harmful.

Baby Sign Language: Does It Work?

This article was originally published on The Conversation. What if babies could tell us what they want, before they start crying for it?

It's Time to Expand Our Definition of "Human Being"

It’s difficult to deny that humans began as Homo sapiens, an evolutionary offshoot of the primates. Nevertheless, for most of what is properly called “human history” (that is, the history starting with the invention of writing), most of Homo sapiens have not qualified as “human”—and not simply because they were too young or too disabled.

The Demise of a Discovery: BICEP2 and Gravitational Waves

Last week, BICEP2 scientists — who in March announced evidence of cosmic inflation, a potentially Nobel-worthy find — threw handfuls of dust on the grave of their own results.

BICEP2 Was Wrong, But Publicly Sharing the Results Was Right

The claim made headlines worldwide, hailing one of the biggest scientific discoveries in decades. After 35 years of research, astronomers said in March, they had found evidence that the universe underwent a brief but ultra-fast expansion when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old.

Virtual Bodyswapping Can Reduce Racial Bias

This article was originally published on The Conversation. In 1959, John Howard Griffin, a white American writer, underwent medical treatments to change his skin appearance and present himself as a black man.

What Does Space Sound Like?

“Space, the final frontier,” announces James T. Kirk at the start of the first Star Trek episode. As the spaceship Enterprise flies past the screen, the voice sounds as though it was recorded in a very reverberant cathedral.

The Bloodthirsty Truth of the Beautiful Orchid Mantis

This article was originally published on The Conversation. In his 1879 account of wanderings in the Orient, the travel writer James Hingston describes how, in West Java, he was treated to a bizarre experience: I am taken by my kind host around his garden, and shown, among other things, a flower, a red orchid, that catches and feeds upon live flies.

Where Will We Live After Earth?

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Some climatologists argue it may be too late to reverse climate change, and it’s just a matter of time before the Earth becomes uninhabitable – if hundreds of years from now.

Ebola's Possible Future as an Endemic Disease

Last fall as the Ebola epidemic continued unabated, experts started discussing something that had never before been bandied about: the idea of Ebola becoming endemic in parts of West Africa.

Thorium Power Is the Safer Future of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power has long been a contentious topic. It generates huge amounts of electricity with zero carbon emissions, and thus is held up as a solution to global energy woes.

When Women Are Rare, Men Are Less Promiscuous

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Popular wisdom and established evolutionary science hold that the sexes seek fundamentally different relationships: men want short-term, no-strings-attached relationships whereas women value longer-term, loyal partnerships.

The "Pillars of Creation" Have Been, Are Being, and Will Be Destroyed

The “Pillars of Creation,” a photograph of part of the Eagle Nebula, is one of the most iconic images ever taken by the Hubble telescope.

Why Most Calorie Counts Are Wrong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Food labels seem to provide all the information a thoughtful consumer needs, so counting calories should be simple.


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