By combining cutting-edge machine learning with 19th-century mathematics, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) mathematician worked to make NASA spacecraft lighter and more damage tolerant by developing methods to detect imperfections in carbon nanomaterials used to make composite rocket fuel tanks and other spacecraft structures.
Using machine learning, neural networks, and an old mathematical equation, Randy Paffenroth has developed an algorithm that will significantly enhance the resolution of density scanning systems that are used to detect flaws in carbon nanotube materials.
The algorithm was “trained” on thousands of sets of nanomaterial images and to make it more effective at making a high-resolution image out of a low-resolution image, he combined it with the Fourier Transform, a mathematical tool devised in the early 1800s that can be used to break down an image into its individual components.
“The Fourier Transform makes creating a high-resolution image a much easier problem by breaking down the data that makes up the image. Think of the Fourier Transform as a set of eyeglasses for the neural network. It makes blurry things clear to the algorithm. We’re taking computer vision and virtually putting glasses on it”, said Paffenroth. (1)
Joshua trees facing extinction: They outlived mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. But without dramatic action to reduce climate change, new research shows Joshua trees won’t survive much past this century. (1)
What does it matter?
Trees are eternal.
Worms live forever.
The universe is Ephemeral.
The world doesn’t care for existence.
It is existence that cannot be without the cosmos!
People with social anxiety avoid situations in which they are exposed to judgment by others. Those affected also lead a withdrawn life. Researchers have now found evidence for a gene that is believed to be linked to the illness. It encodes a serotonin transporter in the brain. Interestingly, this messenger suppresses feelings of anxiety and depressiveness. (1)
We love people participating.
We like people similar to us.
We despise people who are “withdrawn”.
Society hates anyone who ignores it.
And tries to find ways to ‘cure’ them.
Initially we were afraid of the forest.
But now we like it.
We did not know why we were thrown in it.
And now we cannot live outside of it.
But it is away from the forest that we feel less anxious.
It is away from society that we feel less depressed.
Plants are intelligent. Plants deserve rights. Plants are like the Internet – or more accurately the Internet is like plants. To most of us these statements may sound, at best, insupportable or, at worst, crazy. But a new book, Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, by plant neurobiologist (yes, plant neurobiologist), Stefano Mancuso and journalist, Alessandra Viola, makes a compelling and fascinating case not only for plant sentience and smarts, but also plant rights.
Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to break from the crowd and recognize that plants move and respond to sensation – i.e., are sentient. Moreover, Darwin – who studied plants meticulously for most of his life, observed that the radicle – the root tip – “acts like the brain of one of the lower animals”.
Plants face many of the same problems as animals, though they differ significantly in their approach. Plants have to find energy, reproduce and stave off predators. To do these things, Mancuso argues, plants have developed smarts and sentience.
Plants are able to grow through shady areas to locate light and many even turn their leaves during the day to capture the best light. Other plants are preying on animals.
Plants harness animals in order to reproduce. Many plant use complex trickery or provide snacks and advertisements (colours) to lure in pollinators, communicating either through direct deception or rewards. New research finds that some plants even distinguish between different pollinators and only germinate their pollen for the best.
Plants have evolved an incredible variety of toxic compounds to ward off predators. When attacked by an insect, many plants release a specific chemical compound. But they don’t just throw out compounds, but often release the precious chemical only in the leaf that’s under attack.
Plants are also complex communicators. Today, scientists know that plants communicate in a wide variety of ways. The most well known of these is chemical volatiles.
Plants’ roots do not flounder randomly but search for the best position to take in water, avoid competition and garner chemicals. In some cases, roots will alter course before they hit an obstacle, showing that plants are capable of “seeing” an obstacle through their many senses. (Humans have five basic senses. But scientists have discovered that plants have at least 20 different sensesused to monitor complex conditions in their environment, such as measure humidity, detect gravity and sense electromagnetic fields) Mancuso and colleagues recorded the same signals given off from this part of the plant as those from neurons in the animal brain. One root apex may not be able to do much. But instead of having just one root, most plants have millions of individual roots, each with a single radicle.
Instead of a single powerful brain, Mancuso argues that plants have a million tiny computing structures that work together in a complex network, which he compares to the Internet. The strength of this evolutionary choice is that it allows a plant to survive even after losing 90% or more of its biomass. Having a single brain – just like having a single heart or a pair of lungs – would make plants much easier to kill. (1)
In another story, Plants, scientists say, transmit information about light intensity and quality from leaf to leaf in a very similar way to our own nervous systems. These “electro-chemical signals” are carried by cells that act as “nerves” of the plants. In their experiment, the scientists showed that light shone on to one leaf caused the whole plant to respond. And the response, which took the form of light-induced chemical reactions in the leaves, continued in the dark. This showed, they said, that the plant “remembered” the information encoded in light. (2)
Growing a forest with edible trees in Seattle, Washington. (1, 2)
Edible trees. Free for everyone. Nice idea. “Innovative”.
But wait a minute…
This is what already happens in countries like Thailand. This is what already happens in “primitive” countries in Africa. Going out of the forest, building cities, growing forests back. Wise. Stupid. Wise. In their order of reference.