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Will we ever be able to trust health advice from an AI?

IF A PATIENT KNEW their doctor was going to give them bad information during an upcoming appointment, they’d cancel immediately. Generative artificial intelligence models such as ChatGPT, however, frequently “hallucinate”—tech industry lingo for making stuff up. So why would anyone want to use an AI for medical purposes? Here’s the optimistic scenario: AI tools get trained on vetted medical literature, as some models in development already do, but they also scan patient records and smartwatch data. Then, like other generative…

Science

How the world’s biggest particle accelerator is racing to cook up plasma from after the big bang

NORMALLY, creating a universe isn’t the job of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Most of the back-breaking science—singling out and tracking Higgs bosons, for example—from the world’s largest particle accelerator happens when it launches humble protons at nearly the speed of light. But for around a month near the end of each year, LHC switches its ammunition from protons to bullets that are about 208 times heavier: lead ions. When the LHC crashes those ions into each other, scientists can—if…

Technology

Mussels Might Help Prevent Arthritis — But Not By Eating Them

POHANG, South Korea — Studies have shown that maintaining strong muscles into old age could be the key to a longer life. Now, scientists are showing that in the sea could help keep our joints healthy enough for lifting weights well into old age. Running out to your favorite seafood restaurant and ordering the tasty shellfish won’t do the trick, however. Instead, it’s a special coating inspired by mussels that researchers are raving about. Sedentary lifestyles and sports-related strains have…

Technology

Your Smartphone Isn’t Draining Your Brain After All

SINGAPORE — That shiny new smartphone in your pocket has become an integral part of modern life. We use our phones for everything from navigation to finance to entertainment. With the COVID-19 pandemic, they even became important contact tracing tools. However, some studies have suggested that the constant presence of smartphones in daily activities could actually impair our ability to think clearly. The concern was that even if left idle, smartphones may drain mental resources needed for challenging cognitive tasks.…

Science

Bronze Age village was ‘pretty cozy’—until Britain’s Pompeii

It was once a small and seemingly cozy late Bronze Age village. A settlement of five circular dwellings was built on stilts about 6.5 feet above a rambling river in eastern England. The homes were full of domestic knick knacks that paint a picture of daily life about 3,000 years ago. By all available evidence, Must Farm was a peaceful settlement constructed by skilled builders. That is, until a catastrophic fire engulfed  “Britain’s Pompeii” and its buildings and materials plunged…

Science

Rivian’s updated R2 electric SUV gets a retro-inspired crossover sibling

Rivian is having a big moment. Last week, the company launched its new R2 SUV with a starting price of around $45,000 and about 300 miles of range with the larger battery pack. That’s roughly 40 percent cheaper than the brand’s larger three-row R1S, which debuted for model year 2022. In a surprise move, Rivian unveiled its even-smaller R3 compact hatchback SUV and performance-oriented R3X. Chief design officer Jeff Hammoud told The Drive that the R3’s sloped backside was inspired…

AITechnology

Flexible, resilient origami-inspired bridges could help navigate disaster zones

Origami traditionally involves the creation of extremely delicate paper structures, but the art form’s underlying principles could soon be adapted to help navigate tough construction situations. That’s the theory behind a new series of collapsible components designed by a team of University of Michigan engineering professors. When unfolded and assembled using hinges and locks, the researchers’ pieces combine to become extremely sturdy modular structures. Given their design’s impressive durability and spatial economy, the new origami-inspired constructions could be deployed across…

Science

Life after death never looked so beautiful

WHEN YOU LIVE in a big city, sometimes nature comes at you secondhand—a photo from the apple farm upstate, eggs in the grocery store. But for Miami-born and Brooklyn-based Divya Anantharaman, the founder of Gotham Taxidermy, nature is hardly that binary. “Nature is the pigeon that’s on the sidewalk under the Gowanus Bridge,” they say. “It’s the squirrels you see at the park. It doesn’t exist in this pristine box separate from humanity.” In their work, nothing is quite binary.…

AITechnology

‘Parkour’ robot dog can leap, jump, and crawl its way through complex obstacle courses

Four-legged, dog-inspired quadruped robots have already proven capable of a variety of tasks, from remotely monitoring sports stadiums and guiding blind persons to inspecting potentially hazardous research areas. These robots are generally more agile than their hulking bipedal counterparts, but they have mostly failed to match the fluid grace and athleticism of their furry canine inspirations. Now, a new wall-scaling robot is pushing the boundary of what these quadrupeds are capable of, and it’s doing so with a bit of…

Science

Voyager, Chandrayaan, Curiosity: How do spacecraft get their names?

Somehow, when you talk about space exploration, it seems like all the human-made projects have these incredible, inspiring names: Perseverance, Voyager, Challenger, Curiosity. That, however, isn’t a coincidence. NASA has been thoughtfully discussing and implementing policies for how they bestow official names on their spacecraft since the organization’s very beginnings in the 1960s.  The milestone of naming a mission or spacecraft is still met with fanfare today, as it marks a sort of officialization of the project—it makes it seem…

Science

Museums are filled with fake dinosaur fossils. See what it takes to make those replicas.

THERE ARE BONES EVERYWHERE. Black- and purple-painted models of the horn-faced carnivore Ceratosaurus nasicornis lie arranged by anatomical element in boxes. The cranium of a crocodile-like creature called a phytosaur rests on a worktable. Skeletons of dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, and other wonders are stacked floor to ceiling in a storeroom. Past it, a Utahraptor ostrommaysi stands midkick, and the massive skull of the three-horned dinosaur Torosaurus waits to be fitted on a body. An artist grinds away at the head…

Science

Sorry, Darwin: Most male mammals aren’t bigger than females

The idea that most biologically male members of a species are physically larger than the females goes back to Charles Darwin’s 1871 book The Descent of Man. While this is typically true for some species including gorillas, buffalo, and elephants, it is not necessarily a one size fits all fact.  A study published March 12 in the journal Nature Communications found that the males in most mammalian species are not bigger than the females. Monomorphism–or both sexes being roughly the…