Welcome back for the second super science Thursday! Well, this week has been a rollercoaster of emotions following the Philae landing on Comet 67P/C-G. First it landed, then it might not have, then it did again, and now it was going to get enough sun, but it might not now, and now they’re pretty sure it’s going to drain the battries due to a cliff, on a comet. But, before we get to all of that, let’s talk about the 9th planet.
That’s right folks. Just when you got used to Neptune being the doorman for the skyrise apartment building that is our solar system, you might have to relearn it all. But don’t worry, it’s not Pluto coming back. Science News reported last Friday that there may be another planet, some 2 to 15 times the size of Earth, orbiting some 250 AU (VERY far) away from the sun. This notion of a Planet X was something that was dismissed by ‘legitimate’ scientists after the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past Neptune, but a 2012 discovery of a 450 dwarf planet beyond Neptunes orbit has sparked a new interest.
Speaking of new things being discovered, the good folks over at CERN have discovered some new particles. Essentially, according to this article, again posted on Science News, these new particles reassure scientists that the way they were thinking about quarks interacting is correct. I don’t know exactly what that means, but generally, this is probably a good thing.
Next up, artificial intellegence. In this great day and age before the time where we are overrun by angry robots (This will be some years after robots develop the ability to feel emotions), we have the luxury of debating AI and it’s potential benifits or evils. In the future, we might just have to resort to shooting them with missiles, but that’s not the point. While the threat of AI to humanity is still something that people are arguing about, other people are creating tests to figure out just how intellegent AI really is. Most people know the Turing Test for AI, which was supposed to be able to differentiate between man and machine. This test was deemed inadequate, after some Ukranians beat it, and the Lovelace Test was developed. The Lovelace Test basically challenges a computer to come up with something all by itself, without being programmed to do so. Goergia Tech associate professor Mark Riedl is developing a new Lovelace Test, which challenges computers to be creative, and have an ‘imagination’. What this could mean is that the robot that is attacking you will sing you a song it wrote first, and at least you’ll die amazed.
And now, the thing you’ve all been waiting for; Philae. Last week we knew that it had landed, and bounced, and landed, and possibly even bounced and landed for a third time. The ensuing days were filled with ups and downs regarding the spacecraft’s mission. Like this one, and this one. And despite the fact that a spacecraft which took years to get to a comet had a few days of science gathering, and is now dead, until it passes closer to the sun in a year, maybe, we haven’t reached the most important bit of Philae news. Philae has found organic molecules. The ESA hasn’t released any data about what type of molecules they have found, or their composition, but they have said that they are organic. This could be an existentially thought provoking discovery; comets are one of the ways life is thought to have first reached Earth. So, we’ll see what comes of this, but it is an exciting (and maybe terrifying) bit of news.
Well, that’s the science news for this Thursday. Hope you learned something. See you next time.