Field Notes of a Cosmic Anthropologist

"The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." - J. B. S. Haldane

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The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is planning to launch a space system for countering asteroids, comets and space junk by 2025, according to the draft of the 2016-2025 federal space program sent by the agency to the government for approval.

The document proposes to create “means of ensuring the delivery and interference with objects dangerously approaching the Earth, with the aim to change their orbits to prevent collision with the planet.”

The system should also include space ‘cleaners’ designed to remove from orbit large “space junk” such as spacecraft debris and old satellites.

The orbital segment will be an addition to the ground component of a system that will control and test anti-asteroid and anti-space junk technologies, it said.

Roscosmos has asked for nearly 23 billion rubles for the construction of the orbital and ground components of the system.

The project will build upon the experience gained under other programs as part of efforts to boost safe functioning of spacecraft and ground space infrastructure. The anti-asteroid project will be developed around the automatic space emergency prevention system in the near-earth outer space, operating at the Mission Control Center (in Korolyov, Moscow region).

permalink "comet #67P/ #Churyumov-Gerasimenko on the ground" from @quark1972 on twitter via io9

"comet #67P/ #Churyumov-Gerasimenko on the ground" from @quark1972 on twitter via io9

(Source: io9.com)

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And everywhere we look we imagine solid objects, but science finds only a web of dancing energy.
— Robert Anton Wilson (via nathanielstuart)

(via magicmeetsmachines)

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Substitute any disturbance for El Niño, including those linked to human activity, and we have a way to think about other hybrids, like the coywolves or grolar bears or, in fact, ourselves. Some argue that Homo sapiens left Africa when its northern deserts were passable — that is, at a moment when the climate changed. We bumped into long-lost relatives in Eurasia, the equivalent of today’s polar bears in the grolar bears’ story, and mated.

We may, in turn, have adapted to Eurasian conditions by borrowing genes from these “locals.” Everyone except sub-Saharan Africans carry a small quantity of Neanderthal DNA that includes traits possibly important for survival in Eurasian environments — immune-system and skin-pigmentation genes, among others. And our current genome warehouses DNA from archaic humans that have otherwise disappeared. A recent study estimated that, in the same way that coywolves can be said to store wolf DNA that might have otherwise vanished from the Northeast, one-fifth of the Neanderthal genome endures, dispersed throughout humanity.

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A human author simply decides an interesting emotional path for the story, and the computer does the rest.

Margaret Sarlej, PhD candidate at University of New South Wales, to Phys.org. Computer writes its own fables.

We’ve written before about robots writing the news, now they’re writing fables.

Sarlej has written an application that takes 22 identified emotions used in fables, mixes and matches them with a plot, and pops out a written story.

Easier said than done. 

Via The Guardian:

Breaking stories down for a computer “involves not only encoding story elements like characters, events, and plot, but also the ‘common sense’ people take for granted”, said Sarlej. Telling a story is simple enough for a child to do, but stories are actually “incredibly complex”.

"For example, if Bob gives Alice an apple, Alice will have the apple, and Bob will not. To a person, that’s obvious, and doesn’t require explanation. If Bob punches Carl, people would generally assume Carl will be unhappy about it, but a computer doesn’t have the ‘common sense’ to make such an inference. In a computer programme, details like this must be explicitly spelled out," she said.

Current results are fairly rudimentary but, according to Scarlej’s supervisor, computers “will be making interesting and meaningful contributions to literature within the next decade.”

(via futurejournalismproject)

the future of story writing since Death Watch (1980), and earlier elsewhere I’m sure.

(via magicmeetsmachines)

permalink brucesterling:

*Throw in some Polaroid color film and this is basically Tumblr at work

brucesterling:

*Throw in some Polaroid color film and this is basically Tumblr at work