IBM’s Watson AI will give health advice based on your DNA

IBM’s Watson AI will give health advice based on your DNA

Personal health has become the latest battleground for technology giants, from apps that track your eating habits to wearable gadgets that help you exercise, companies such as Apple and Google are touting the benefits of their health-centric technology. All of that seems gimmicky to IBM, however, as the company wants to use its artificially intelligent supercomputer to analyze your DNA and interpret the results, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The New York-based technology giant is joining forced with a startup called Pathway Genomics in order to create an advanced app that tracks your fitness and diet using DNA sequencing and Watson, IBM’s artificially intelligent machine, to give users custom health recommendations. While it certainly won’t be a replacement for a human doctor, the app will act as a tool for being healthy on a day-to-day basis, according to Market Watch.

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Chinese hackers breached the federal weather network

Chinese hackers breached the federal weather network

When a few weather satellites owned by the National Weather Service went offline last month, many suspected that it was simply another technical glitch. They were wrong. Mashable reports that the outage was actually due to an “an Internet-sourced attack,” according to Scott Smullen, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“NOAA staff detected the attacks and incident response began immediately. Unscheduled maintenance was performed by NOAA to mitigate the attacks,” the agency said, as quoted by CNBC. “The unscheduled maintenance impacts were temporary and all services have been fully restored. These effects did not prevent us from delivering forecasts to the public.”

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Earth’s magnetic field could completely reverse within a single lifetime

Earth’s magnetic field could completely reverse within a single lifetime

Earth’s magnetic field is constantly shifting around, and every 200,000 to 300,000 years, it flips north and south completely. Currently, we’re long overdue for a reversal, and scientists suggest that it could very well happen within the next century, potentially altering life in ways that aren’t possible to predict.

For the longest time, the scientific community believed that these reversals took as many as 7,000 years to completely switch, according to a 2004 study funded by the National Science Foundation. Over the last few years, however, many scientists have suggested that the shifts in the magnetic field have occurred at previously unimagined speeds.

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Microsoft’s Project Spark enables anyone to create their own video game

Microsoft’s Project Spark enables anyone to create their own video game

Microsoft’s sandbox video game creator Project Spark has finally left beta and been officially released for Windows 8.1 and the Xbox One. Users of these two platforms can now download the game’s free-to-play client, or can purchase the Project Spark Starter Pack when it launches on the Xbox One in disc form later this week.

The physical edition of the game will cost $29.99, but Microsoft claims that it will include around $59.99 worth of content. Included in this edition will be the Champions Quest: Void Storm adventure pack, First Contact sci-fi theme pack, Sir Haakon the Knight playable champion, Arctic Glaciers winter landscape, Massive World Builders Pack expansion, Yeti’s Rage content pack, and a one month Spark Premium membership.

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Ancient art reveals the extinct animals of Egypt

Ancient art reveals the extinct animals of Egypt

Scientists have been able to use detailed depictions of animals on ancient Egyptian artifacts to assemble a detailed record of the large mammals that lived in the Nile Valley over the past 6,000 years. A new analysis of this record shows that the ecosystem in the region has become progressively less stable due to the extinction of certain species, most likely due to the drying climate and the growth of human settlements.

The study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that many extinctions of local mammal species have led to a steady decline in the stability of the animal communities in the Nile Valley. Back when there were many species in the community, the loss of a single species had little impact on how the ecosystem functioned, whereas now it is much more sensitive to such alterations.

This is according to Justin Yeakel, who worked on the study as a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. Around six thousand years ago, there were 37 species of large-bodied mammals in Egypt, but that number has declined to a mere eight in modern times. Among the species recorded in the ancient artifacts were lions, wild dogs, elephants, oryx, hartebeest, and giraffe.

“What was once a rich and diverse mammalian community is very different now,” Yeakel said. “As the number of species declined, one of the primary things that was lost was the ecological redundancy of the system. There were multiple species of gazelles and other small herbivores, which are important because so many different predators prey on them. When there are fewer of those small herbivores, the loss of any one species has a much greater effect on the stability of the system and can lead to additional extinctions.”

Read more about the story at International Business Times.

Boeing is going to be offering spaceflights for paying tourists

Boeing is going to be offering spaceflights for paying tourists

When NASA first announced its new partnership with Boeing and SpaceX, many people thought that space travel for the average citizen is one step closer to reality, and apparently they were right. The “space taxi” that the two companies are developing won’t just be for astronauts, it will also contain a seat for paying tourists.

That’s right, as part of Boeing’s proposal with NASA, the CST-100 vehicle will have a seat that is reserved for a regular citizen who is willing to pay to go up into space and float around in the International Space Station with trained professionals.

“Part of our proposal into NASA would be flying a Space Adventures spaceflight participant up to the ISS,” John Mulholland, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program Manager, tells Reuters. Space Adventures is a Virginia-based space tourism company founded in 1998. Since 2010, they have been offering a number of spaceflight-related experiences, including spacewalks, suborbital spaceflights and launch tours.

Mr. Mulholland added that the price of the seat would be high enough to be competitive with what the Russian space agency is charging space tourists, which is a hell of a lot. According to Tom Shelley, president of Space Adventures, British singer Sarah Brightman is currently training for a 10-day stay at the station. In January, she’ll become the eighth paying passenger to visit the ISS, hitching a ride on the Russian Soyuz rocket, and it looks like the trip is going to cost her roughly $52 million.

Read more about the story at Reuters.

Researchers have found the world’s first semi-aquatic dinosaur

Researchers have found the world’s first semi-aquatic dinosaur

An international team of researchers has discovered the fossils of the largest know predator to ever walk the earth. The most interesting part about this discovery, however, is the fact that the dinosaur is believed to have been semi-aquatic, meaning that it spent a significant portion of its time swimming around in water, overturning the common view that dinosaurs were purely terrestrial creatures.

“We’ve resurrected a giant from deep time… a lost world buried for more than 95 million years,” said Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. “It is arguably the most enigmatic dinosaur yet described.”

The skeleton of the creature, known as Spinosaurus, was discovered in Morocco’s desolate Kem Kem beds, a treasure trove of 95 million year old dinosaur fossils that rest beneath the Sahara desert. Back when these dinosaurs were still alive, around the mid-Cretaceous period, the Sahara contained a lush river system and was teeming with life.

“I call this ‘river of giants’ the most dangerous place on Earth, a true predator’s paradise. You virtually never see such a high ratio of meat-eaters to plant-eaters,” says Ibrahim. “Paleontology is like detective work. It’s amazing to piece together clues and re-create a hundred-million-year-old landscape where gigantic predators flourished and enormous evolutionary changes unfolded.”

Read more about the story at the Smithsonian.

 

Archaeologists have revealed some of Stonehenge’s hidden secrets

Archaeologists have revealed some of Stonehenge’s hidden secrets

Using ground-penetrating radar, high-resolution magnetometers, and various other techniques, a group of archaeologists has been able to look deep into the soil that lies beneath the famous Stonehenge, and what they found was astonishing.

According to Birmingham University, the team of archaeologists from both Birmingham and Bradford University, as well as the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna were able to generate a detailed map of seventeen previously unknown ritual monuments, as well as a massive timber building which they believe was used for burial ceremonies.

“New monuments have been revealed, as well as new types of monument that have previously never been seen by archaeologists,” said Professor Vincent Gaffney of Birmingham University, the leader of the project. “Up till now, we had absolutely no idea that the stones were there.”

“You’ve got Stonehenge which is clearly a very large ritual structure which is attracting people from large parts of the country. But around it people are creating their own shrines and temples. We can see the whole landscape is being used in very complex ways,” Gaffney was reported as saying at the British Science Festival.

“New monuments have been revealed, as well as new types of monument that have previously never been seen by archaeologists. All of this information has been placed within a single digital map, which will guide how Stonehenge and its landscape are studied in the future,” Gaffney said. “Stonehenge may never be the same again.”

Read more about the story at BBC.

 

Researchers have successfully demonstrated telepathy

Researchers have successfully demonstrated telepathy

A group of neuroscientists have successfully tested the world’s first brain-to-brain interface which allows to humans, connected through the internet, to consciously communicate with each other using their minds with no additional sensory cues.

One researcher, who was attached to a brain-computer interface (BCI) in India, successfully sent words to the brain of a fellow researcher in France, who was wearing a computer-to-brain interface (CBI). Essentially, these researchers have developed devices that enable telepathy.

Coauthor of the study and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Alvaro Pascual-Leone explains that the researchers “were able to directly and noninvasively transmit a thought from one person to another, without them having to speak or write. This in itself is a remarkable step in human communication, but being able to do so across a distance of thousands of miles is a critically important proof-of-principle for the development of brain-to-brain communications. We believe these experiments represent an important first step in exploring the feasibility of complementing or bypassing traditional language-based or motor-based communication.”

While this may seem like a small feat, it is an incredibly significant step towards achieving telepathy through the use of technology, the ability to exchange thoughts directly with another person. The uses for this kind of technology in the future are innumerable.

Read more about the story at IFL Science.

New deep-sea creature doesn’t fit into any current classification

New deep-sea creature doesn’t fit into any current classification

The deep sea is home to some of nature’s strangest and most outlandish creatures, from razor-toothed fish that lure their prey with tiny lights, to giant isopods that look like basketball-sized rolly polly. The latest creature to join that strange, alien world is a mushroom-like sea creature that doesn’t actually fit into a modern classification.

Scientists have been unable to classify the deep sea mushrooms using current taxonomies and believe that the creatures could be related to groups that were thought to have been extinct for around five-hundred million years. The creatures represent an enitely new genus, which has been dubbed Dendrogramma by its Danish discoverers.

“Current evidence suggests that they represent an early branch on the tree of life,” Jørgen Olesen, an expert in biosystematics at the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the paper, said in a release. “Finding something like this is extremely rare, it’s maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years. We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where.”

Read more about the story at National Geographic.