Friday, February 23, 2007

NEWS 2 USE: The No Clever Subtitle Available Edition

Dirty, Dirty Bacteria!

Laboratory experiments point to bacteria as a defense against earthquake damage. Loose soil under buildings can be injected with Bascillus pastuerii. The bacteria cause the formation of calcite deposits that cement loose sand grains and keep buildings from shifting and collapsing during an earthquake. "Starting from a sand pile, you turn it back into sandstone," according to project researchers.

Of course, couldn't you also conceivably use this technique to make natural foundations for housing? Squirt the bug and poof, you've got your building slab! Or, if you were terraforming a planet and needed solid ground, squirt the bug, poof.

Of course, couldn't you also squirt the bug into arable farm land? Poof indeed.

Should We Be Teaching Robots Fear?

Robotics experts now consider that emotional, not cognitive, pathways may be effective in creating a robot that learns. The theory is that if a robot experiences happiness in completing a task -- whether it's cleaning a floor or nursing an elderly patient -- the robot will seek out more dirt or more ways to help in order to increase its happiness. Conversely, researchers are teaching robots to avoid certain tasks by instilling a fear response.

Does this creep anyone else out? Are we competent enough to create an artificial system that experiences emotion in a human way? I mean, last I checked, if you scare some living creatures, they don't run away. They become aggressive. So do we really want to be teaching robots fear?

Mark Your Calendars, and send Bruce Willis a Thank You Gift

Scientists are already planning for the 45,000 to one chance that asteroid Apophis, named after the Egyptian god of destruction, may slam into Earth (with 80,000 times more force than the Hiroshima bomb) on April 13, 2036. Gravity tractor spaceships are the current best idea.

Nobody at NASA wants to hear any of the dialog from Armageddon for real. See, I KNEW that Bruce Willis was INSTRUMENTAL, I say, INSTRUMENTAL, in the survival of humanity. Yeah, Bruce!

(I don't know what happened to the link for that one. You'll just have to google, lazybones!)

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