Archive for the ‘asteroid/comet impacts’ category: Page 2

Oct 6, 2022

The End of Programming

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks, information science, robotics/AI

The end of classical Computer Science is coming, and most of us are dinosaurs waiting for the meteor to hit.

I came of age in the 1980s, programming personal computers like the Commodore VIC-20 and Apple ][e at home. Going on to study Computer Science in college and ultimately getting a PhD at Berkeley, the bulk of my professional training was rooted in what I will call “classical” CS: programming, algorithms, data structures, systems, programming languages. In Classical Computer Science, the ultimate goal is to reduce an idea to a program written by a human — source code in a language like Java or C++ or Python. Every idea in Classical CS — no matter how complex or sophisticated — from a database join algorithm to the mind-bogglingly obtuse Paxos consensus protocol — can be expressed as a human-readable, human-comprehendible program.

When I was in college in the early ’90s, we were still in the depth of the AI Winter, and AI as a field was likewise dominated by classical algorithms. My first research job at Cornell was working with Dan Huttenlocher, a leader in the field of computer vision (and now Dean of the MIT School of Computing). In Dan’s PhD-level computer vision course in 1995 or so, we never once discussed anything resembling deep learning or neural networks—it was all classical algorithms like Canny edge detection, optical flow, and Hausdorff distances. Deep learning was in its infancy, not yet considered mainstream AI, let alone mainstream CS.

Oct 6, 2022

Tailless comets could threaten Earth

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

But they also offer an explanation of the solar system’s earliest days | Science & technology.

Sep 27, 2022

DART asteroid impact impresses in ESA’s view from the ground

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Last night at 23:14 UTC, NASA’s DART spacecraft successfully struck asteroid Dimorphos, the 160-metre moonlet orbiting around the larger Didymos asteroid. About 38 seconds later, the time it took for the light to arrive at Earth, people all over the world saw the abrupt end of the live stream from the spacecraft, signalling that the impact had happened successfully – DART was no more.

Astronomers on a small slice of our planet’s surface, extending from southern and eastern Africa to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Peninsula, could actually watch it live with their telescopes. Among those were a half dozen stations joined together for a dedicated observing campaign organised by ESA’s Planetary Defence Office and coordinated by the team of observers of the Agency’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre (NEOCC). As usual, when such a timely astronomical event happens, not all stations were successful in their observations: clouds, technical problems and other issues always affect real-life observations.

Continue reading “DART asteroid impact impresses in ESA’s view from the ground” »

Sep 24, 2022

NASA gears up to deflect asteroid, in key test of planetary defense

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Bet the dinosaurs wish they’d thought of this.

NASA on Monday will attempt a feat humanity has never before accomplished: deliberately smacking a spacecraft into an asteroid to slightly deflect its orbit, in a key test of our ability to stop cosmic objects from devastating life on Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spaceship launched from California last November and is fast approaching its target, which it will strike at roughly 14,000 miles per hour (23,000 kph).

Sep 24, 2022

JWST observes Earendel — the most distant star known — 12.8 billion ly away | Night Sky News Sep ‘22

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, chemistry, existential risks, information science, physics

For Physics & Chemistry experiments for kids delivered to your door head to and use promo code DRBECKY50 for 50% off the first month of any subscription (valid until 22nd October 2022).

To find out whether you can see the partial solar eclipse on 25th October 2022 put in your location here:

Continue reading “JWST observes Earendel — the most distant star known — 12.8 billion ly away | Night Sky News Sep ‘22” »

Sep 22, 2022

Countdown to DART Impact

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

In a first-of-its-kind test for planetary defense, NASA’s DART spacecraft is scheduled next week to crash into an asteroid and alter the celestial body’s course.

If all goes according to plan, on September 26th at 7:14 pm Eastern Daylight Time, NASA’s DART spacecraft will meet a fiery end. DART, whose name stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is poised to intentionally crash into an asteroid that, at the time of impact, will be 11 million km from Earth. The goal of the mission is to alter the speed and trajectory of the impacted space boulder. The technology developed for the mission could one day aid in shifting the orbit of an asteroid that—unlike this one—is on a collision course with Earth.

“Our DART spacecraft is going to impact an asteroid in humanity’s first attempt to change the motion of a natural celestial body,” said Tom Statler, a scientist in NASA’s planetary defense team, in a recent press conference about the mission. “It will be a truly historic moment for the entire world.”

Sep 13, 2022

Can we reverse engineer the brain like a computer?

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, computing, existential risks, neuroscience

Circa 2019 face_with_colon_three

By Tyler Benster.

Neuroscientists have a dizzying array of methods to listen in on hundreds or even thousands of neurons in the brain and have even developed tools to manipulate the activity of individual cells. Will this unprecedented access to the brain allow us to finally crack the mystery of how it works? In 2017, Jonas and Kording published a controversial research article, “Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?” that argues maybe not. To make their point, the authors turn to their “model organism” of choice: a MOS 6502 processor as popularized by the Apple I, Commodore 64, and Atari Video Game System. Jonas and Kording argue that for an electrical engineer, a satisfying description of the processor would break it into modules, like an adder or subtractor, and submodules, like the transistor, to form a hierarchy of information processing. They suggest that, while popular methods from neuroscience might reveal interesting structure in the activity of the brain, researchers often use techniques that would fail to reveal a hierarchy of information processing if applied to the (presumably much simpler) computer processor.

Continue reading “Can we reverse engineer the brain like a computer?” »

Sep 4, 2022

Scientists use crime-scene techniques to identify asteroid collision sites

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

The findings could revolutionize how we study potential collisions.

Asteroids pass by our planet all the time and even sometimes land here, causing much devastation. Understanding how often these kinds of impacts happened in the past and how they influenced the environment both then and today is crucial to protecting Earth.

Now, new research published by the Estonian Research Council on Friday has shown that analyzing bodies of organisms killed by an impact of asteroids can teach us how much damage occurs at the spot of such a cosmic collision.

Continue reading “Scientists use crime-scene techniques to identify asteroid collision sites” »

Aug 20, 2022

A 600 foot-wide ‘Potentially Hazardous’ Asteroid Is Approaching Earth At 30,000 Mph

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

According to NASA’s database, a space rock will approach Earth in the following days at a speed of about 30,000 miles per hour.

Jul 31, 2022


Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Can we deflect an asteroid if it were to hit Earth? Scientists launched a mission to test it out:

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