M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Japanese convenience store to implement VR robot service

July 6, 2020
MThomas

“Rather than turn Family Mart branches into essentially giant vending machines, where products are automatically replaced after a customer selects one for purchase, the plan is to use remote-control robots, operated by human beings using VR terminals at a separate location.”

Hmm. The real avatar?

Remote-control VR robots to start working in Japanese convenience stores this summer

SpooQy-1 action at a distance!

June 30, 2020
MThomas

“In the future, our system could be part of a global quantum network transmitting quantum signals to receivers on Earth or on other spacecraft,” says Aitor Villar, lead author of the study. “These signals could be used to implement any type of quantum communications application, from quantum key distribution for extremely secure data transmission to quantum teleportation, where information is transferred by replicating the state of a quantum system from a distance.”

OK, OK, so it’s not the first time quantum entanglement has been demonstrated. But it sure is the smallest. Only 20 cm by 10 cm!

Now we only need a few thousand of these things and a way of somehow making tangled photons actually carry encrypted messages…

(Sorry, thinking of the SF novel I should have published by now…still figuring out the last two chapters!)

See more at New Atlas (note: I seriously doubt the CubeSat actually looks like that picture when it’s doing its thing).

Mars GLOWS green — but brighter at day than at night

June 19, 2020
MThomas

mars-green-glow-exlarge-169

By studying Mars’ green glow, the researchers can understand the structure of this layer in the planet’s atmosphere, better understand its altitude range and even observe any changes in reaction to the sun.

First time to see a “green glow” around another planet. In the case of Earth, it’s mostly caused by oxygen, but Mars’ glow is primarily CO2.

So there really ARE “Green Martians.” Just don’t turn and run!

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/16/world/mars-green-glow-esa-scn-trnd/index.html

How should we treat sentient robots—if they existed?

June 14, 2020
MThomas

Asimo

One day, maybe sooner than we think, a consideration of the ethics of the treatment of rational, sentient machines might turn out to be more than an abstract academic exercise.

From last June, but still a worthy topic for debate, particularly as the use of robots increases for retirement homes, nursery school programs, hotel reception lobbies… (also the topic of a short story I wrote in 2000 but still haven’t published outside of a grad student journal…)

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2019/6/18/ethics-of-ai-how-should-we-treat-rational-sentient-robots-if-they-existed

Five reasons why NASA is sending a Dragonfly to Titan

February 29, 2020
MThomas

1184_120_PIA06227_1600

  1. It’s the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere.
  2. This atmosphere is more similar to Earth’s (especially ancient Earth’s) than any other atmosphere in the solar system.
  3. Chemistry, baby. Microbes, maybe.
  4. Labs take too long. Experiments on Titan would be short.
  5. The terrain is pretty wild.

Check out the link below for more detailed explanations and a neat video.

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/1184/why-is-nasa-sending-dragonfly-to-titan-here-are-five-reasons/

The Eagle has landed. Um. Again. Sort of.

February 18, 2020
MThomas

Apollo11-reflection

‘As far as audio recordings, we previously had only 48 minutes of off-air audio of the BBC coverage from another source. Now thanks to you we have over eight hours!’

It’s been 50 years since The Eagle landed. There are plenty of existing video and audio recordings from US media sources (like this one on YouTube, clocking in at over 3 hours).

It’s been considerably less time since news recordings of Apollo 11 from *outside* the US were discovered. Just over half a year. Audio only. Bummer. But at least you get a different perspective (always a good thing when it comes to news).

Check it out (and download it, if you like), thanks to Steve Hurley at explainingscience.org/2020/02/17/british-coverage-of-apollo-11/

Super Bowl 2020: All the space-themed commercials

February 2, 2020
MThomas

“Being able to get humans on Mars and actually collecting one of these samples would be such an incredible moment, I would kind of hope it would almost bring us back to the moon days of everyone being glued to the TV.”

Um. Well. OK. TV is dead so we’ll all be watching it streamed on our smartphones, but the point is taken.

And how much did they pay for this? 💰 👽 📺

— Read on http://www.livescience.com/amp/super-bowl-space-commercials.html

Artificial intelligence-created medicine to be used on humans for first time

January 31, 2020
MThomas

“This year was the first to have an AI-designed drug, but by the end of the decade all new drugs could potentially be designed by AI.”

Philip K Dick would have had a field day with this. Imagine what will happen once we start ingesting nanobots…

I, for one, welcome our AI drug overlords.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51315462

Have some Proxima Centauri with ESPRESSO

January 20, 2020
MThomas

“Proxima is our closest neighbor in an immense universe. How could we not be charmed by it?

Well, the planet may or may not exist (the confirmation data won’t be publicly available for another couple years).

And it is most likely not inhabitable — despite being dubbed a “Super-Earth” (which really only refers to size and not whether it’s “Earth-like” or not).

Still, regardless of these facts, the most important part of this article in Scientific American is the science:

“We tried different tools to prove ourselves wrong, but we failed. However, we have to keep the doors open to all possible doubt and skepticism.

Yes, the astronomers tried to prove their own discovery was a mistake. That’s how it works, folks. Challenge your assumptions, not jump to conclusions. Continue Reading

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