research

Microsoft opens up Minecraft AI research tool to the public

Microsoft opens up Minecraft AI research tool to the public

What started out as a rather simple, open-ended sandbox and survival game has turned into something more than what creater Markus "Notch" Persson probably imagined. Although Minecraft remains a virtual world where people can let their creativity run wild, it has also become a tool that can be used for the common good. In addition to using Minecraft for educational purposes, Microsoft has also turned it into a research tool. Project Malmo, formerly called Project AIX, uses Minecraft's open world for artificial intelligence research and is now available as open source for everyone to use.

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U.S. Navy funds bomb-sniffing bugs research

U.S. Navy funds bomb-sniffing bugs research

The human sense of smell isn't that great, and so humans have largely relegated the task of sniffing out items -- non-pungent drugs, hidden bombs, missing people -- to dogs. Dogs are great at what they do, but they pose some issues, as well. For one thing, training bomb-sniffing dogs is expensive. In addition, a dog can alert to something but it can't break down what it smells or give us any details. Bugs though? They may be the solution.

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Data from lost Hitomi satellite suggests black holes may be galactic regulators

Data from lost Hitomi satellite suggests black holes may be galactic regulators

Earlier this year, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched its Hitomi satellite into space. The x-ray satellite was intended to study, among other things, the Perseus cluster, a massive cluster of galaxies more than 200 million light years from Earth. Hitomi was the most advanced x-ray satellite to launch successfully into space and had the potential to lead to a number of excellent discoveries, but unfortunately, it was only a month before the satellite started to spin out of control and break apart, with JAXA announcing it had failed in its attempts to reconnect with the satellite not long after.

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‘Superbug’ bacteria found in Rio’s water raises Olympics concerns

‘Superbug’ bacteria found in Rio’s water raises Olympics concerns

As if there aren’t already enough concerns about the Rio Olympics, a team of scientists from Brazil have announced that a drug-resistant ‘superbug’ bacteria has been found at popular beach destinations in the region. The news is troublesome for many reasons, not the least of which is the 2016 Olympic Games planned for the city this summer which will bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors, potentially exposing them to the drug-resistant bacteria.

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As self-driving car safety debate rages, Google teaches cyclist manners

As self-driving car safety debate rages, Google teaches cyclist manners

Self-driving car tech safety - or otherwise - may be making headlines, but Google's autonomous fleet has been focusing on smaller potential incidents, the company has explained in its latest monthly report. Every month, as part of its obligations in return for being allowed to test out its fleet of autonomous prototypes on public roads, Google details any crashes or damage sustained, and sure enough this month there've been a couple of scrapes.

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World’s largest radio telescope completed in China

World’s largest radio telescope completed in China

For the last half decade, researchers in China have been at work on a gigantic radio telescope hailed as the world's largest single dish radio telescope. That monster telescope completed construction on July 3, 2016 with the installation of the last of its 4,450 reflecting panels. The telescope is equivalent in size to 30 soccer fields and is called the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope or FAST.

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Study: marijuana reduces plaque, inflammation related to Alzheimer’s

Study: marijuana reduces plaque, inflammation related to Alzheimer’s

The THC and some other compounds found in marijuana have been found effective in treating many ailments, and past studies have found signs that it may be helpful in preventing Alzheimer's disease, as well. Research has indicated that marijuana reduces inflammation in the brain which may contribute to dementia and Alzheimer's, and a recent study found that it also helps strip away the plaque found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients.

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Rosetta will end its mission by crashing into comet on September 30

Rosetta will end its mission by crashing into comet on September 30

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which involves a probe orbiting Comet 67P (also known as Churyumov-Gerasimenko), will finally be coming to an end after 12 years of study. The space agency has scheduled September 30th as the spacecraft's last, where it will make a controlled crash into the surface of its partnering space rock. Think of it like a viking funeral, but only for a space probe.

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Antarctic ozone layer hole shrinks by 4 million kilometers

Antarctic ozone layer hole shrinks by 4 million kilometers

Scientists at MIT and other locations have been eyeing the hole in the ozone layer since it came to the forefront in the '80s. The fear when the hole in the ozone layer was first discovered was that it might lead to harm for humans around the world since we need the ozone layer to protect us from all sorts of deadly things that come from space. The good news is that scientists have announced that the ozone layer hole has shrunk significantly since 2000.

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Ancient tombs may have served as telescopes for rituals

Ancient tombs may have served as telescopes for rituals

Ancient stone tombs in Portugal may have served as a sort of telescope to enhance one’s ability to see stars for ritualistic purposes. The tombs are 6,000 years old and made of stone, and they feature a peculiarly lengthy but low-height entrance. As well, researchers believe they may have found the particular star these ‘telescopes’ were aimed at: Aldebaran, a bright red star located in the Taurus constellation.

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Ancient pay stub reveals worker was paid with beer

Ancient pay stub reveals worker was paid with beer

A 5,000-year-old clay tablet is the oldest known pay stub in the world, and it has revealed an interesting relationship between one ancient worker and his boss: the worker was paid with beer. The pay stub was discovered in what is now modern day Iraq, and it is written in cuneiform, appearing to be a gibberish of lines and chicken scratch to most of us. A trained eye, though, will see a person with his head leaned toward a bowl and another container with a shape that indicates beer, as well as marks that show how much beer the worker got for his labor.

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Flames and fanfare as NASA’s Mars mission rocket aces testing

Flames and fanfare as NASA’s Mars mission rocket aces testing

As ways to disturb the peace and quiet of the desert go, firing up the most powerful rocket in the world has to be near the top of the list. That was the fun & games had by NASA and Orbital ATK today, testing out the new Space Launch System (SLS) booster that will one day take first uncrewed probes and then astronauts to Mars.

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