The Register Columnists

Katyanna Quach

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed

Top video game dev nerve-center Unity can now be used to train AI

Unity, the most popular cross-platform game engine favored by video game developers, on Tuesday opened up its platform for machine learning researchers to test their algorithms. Reinforcement learning is a strand of machine learning that teaches agents to perform a specific task in a given environment. It’s been useful for …
Katyanna Quach, 20 Sep 2017
Artist's view of a binary black hole. Pic credit: NASA, ESA and G Bacon (STScI)

Boffins discover tightest black hole binary system – and it's supermassive

Scientists have discovered the closest-ever supermassive black hole binary system. It's in the spiral galaxy NGC 7674, and the pair of voids are separated by a distance of less than one light year. Supermassive black hole binaries are rare. Until now, astronomers have only spotted one so far, about 24 light years apart. …
Katyanna Quach, 20 Sep 2017

Mad scientist zaps himself to determine the power of electric eel shocks

One man has calculated the power of electric shocks emitted from electric eels on the human arm - his in fact - all in the name of science. Kenneth Catania, a neurologist and biologist at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, repeatedly shoved his arm into a tank containing a small electric eel (Electrophorus electricus …
Katyanna Quach, 15 Sep 2017

Farewell Cassini! NASA's Saturnian spacecraft waves goodbye for its Grand Finale

Cassini, one of NASA’s flagship spacecraft, is poised to meet its fiery end today as it plunges down into Saturn’s atmosphere at a speed of 123,000kph (77,000mph) per hour, where it will soon vaporise. The shuttle was to point its antennas in the direction of Earth as it sent its final message at 03:32 PDT (10:32 UTC), …
Katyanna Quach, 15 Sep 2017

Hubble catches a glimpse WASP-12b, an almost pitch-black exoplanet

Scientists studying WASP-12b, an exoplanet 871 light years from Earth, have determined that it reflects almost no light, making it one of the darkest planets in space. The team has published their results in a paper in The Astrophysical Journal on Thursday. The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space …
Katyanna Quach, 14 Sep 2017
Scott on the surface of the Moon during Apollo 15. Pic: NASA

Scientists produce a map marking water hotspots on the Moon

Scientists have created the first map that traces the water content on the surface of the Moon, in the hopes that it may come in handy for astronauts searching for drinking water or fuel. A paper published in Science Advances on Thursday shows how scientists used data taken from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) – an imaging …
Katyanna Quach, 14 Sep 2017

Signs of ground ice found on ancient protoplanet asteroid Vesta

Scientists have found evidence that there may be ground ice on Vesta, the brightest asteroid visible from Earth. It’s not the first time that ice has been detected on space rocks, and it adds credibility to the idea that asteroids may have brought water to Earth’s oceans. As asteroids crashed into Earth, the impact would have …
Katyanna Quach, 13 Sep 2017

Weird white dwarf pulsar baffles boffins as its pulsating pattern changes over decades

Scientists trying to crack the mystery behind the fastest-pulsating white dwarf have found that its brightness levels change over a timescale of decades. AR Scorpii is a distant, peculiar binary star system located 380 light years away. It’s made of a collapsed white dwarf star circling its larger red dwarf companion. It was …
Katyanna Quach, 13 Sep 2017
Black hole

Boffins find a new way to catch the 'tails' of quasars in massive galaxies

Physicists have managed to analyze the hidden "tails" swirling around quasars in supermassive black holes by using a combination of radio telescopes and the Gaia space observatory. A quasar is an active black hole, identified by plumes of matter shooting out from its center, and a shroud of gas and dust known as an accretion …
Katyanna Quach, 13 Sep 2017

Pains of giving birth to stars gives heft to elliptical galaxies

The rate of star formation might play a bigger role in affecting a galaxy's shape than previously thought, according to a recent study. Galaxies, a smattering of dust, gas and stars glued together by gravitational attraction, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Edwin Hubble's classic "tuning fork" diagram describes four …
Katyanna Quach, 11 Sep 2017

Boffins: 68 exoplanets in prime locations to SPY on humanity on Earth

Scientists on Earth have found thousands of exoplanets – but which of those potential alien civilizations are in the best position to discover us? It’s a question that a team of physicists from Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany have been grappling with …
Katyanna Quach, 08 Sep 2017

How alien civilizations deal with climate is a measure of how smart they are. Just sayin'...

A team of scientists has proposed a new classification system that grades how advanced alien civilizations are by examining how an exoplanet uses energy. No concrete evidence of advanced life has been found beyond Earth, but that doesn't stop scientists entertaining the idea of extraterrestrial societies. The new system is a …
Katyanna Quach, 08 Sep 2017

House Reps grease the wheels for hundreds of thousands of robo-cars on America's streets

A draft US law that will let self-driving cars potentially swerve mandatory vehicle safety requirements has raced through the House of Reps. Under the proposed legislation, American automakers will be able to ask the US Department of Transport for exemptions to safety standards, allowing them to get autonomous vehicles onto …
Katyanna Quach, 08 Sep 2017
A person rioting in protest

Dear rioters: Hiding your face with scarves, hats can't fool this AI system

Software can take a decent stab at identifying looters, rioters and anyone else who hides their faces with scarves, hats, and glasses, a study has shown. A paper by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, the National Institute of Technology in Warangal, India, and the Indian Institute of Science, describes …
Katyanna Quach, 06 Sep 2017

Unable to give up on life on Mars, bio-boffins now thrilled to find boron

Boron, a relatively rare chemical element, has been detected on Mars for the first time. It's a sign there may have been life on the Red Planet. A paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters on Tuesday links the presence of boron to the possible presence of ribonucleic acid on the unforgiving dust world at one time or …
Katyanna Quach, 06 Sep 2017
Frustrated accountant puts head in hands. Photo by Shutterstock

That virtually impossible classic compsci P vs NP problem is virtually impossible, say boffins

A trio of computer scientists from the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, has published results showing that a classic chess puzzle dating back 150 years is so computationally taxing that it could take thousands of years to solve. It’s a crushing blow for those trying to win the $1m prize offered for cracking the …
Katyanna Quach, 01 Sep 2017
Artist's impression of the TRAPPIST-1 system seen from one of the planets. Pic: ESO / M. Kornmesser

Hubble Space Telescope spies possibility of liquid water in TRAPPIST-1

The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted possible signs of water on the outer planets of TRAPPIST-1, the system with the most exoplanets in a star’s habitable zone. The TRAPPIST-1 system – named after the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope in Chile – was discovered last year. It has been described as a mini …
Katyanna Quach, 01 Sep 2017

Boffins want machine learning to predict earthquakes

Earthquakes are, by their nature, unpredictable. Although geologists understand why and how the tremors occur, forecasting them more than a few minutes ahead is very difficult. A team of scientists believes that machine learning could help solve this problem one day. A paper published Wednesday in the Geophysical Research …
Katyanna Quach, 01 Sep 2017

Boffins turn to AI to zip through piles of gravitational lenses

A group of physicists has trained an artificial neural network to analyze gravitational lensing images ten million times faster than normal computational methods. Gravitational lensing is "the formation of multiple images of distant sources due to the deflection of their light by the gravity of intervening structures," …
Katyanna Quach, 30 Aug 2017

Living in space basically shoves a warp drive into your blood stream

A new study analyzing the blood samples of 18 Russian cosmonauts reveals that space sends the body’s defensive immune system into overdrive. Space is bad for your health. The lack of gravity and the constant bombardment of radiation particles makes the environment treacherous. Numerous studies have shown astronauts …
Katyanna Quach, 29 Aug 2017

Boffins prove oil and water CAN mix – if you do it in a gas giant

Oil and water do mix, a group of scientists have discovered. The two substances normally repel one another, but under extreme conditions oil molecules can dissolve in water. A group of physicists from the University of Edinburgh in the UK filled tiny capsules with water and methane gas and subjected them to intense pressures. …
Katyanna Quach, 29 Aug 2017

Scientists measure magnetic field around most distant galaxy yet

Scientists have measured the magnetic field of a galaxy five billion light years from Earth, the most distant coherent magnetic field that has ever been observed. An international team of physicists used the Karl G Jansky Very Large Array, a large radio wave observatory in central New Mexico, to study how magnetism manifests …
Katyanna Quach, 28 Aug 2017

James Webb Telescope will be infatuated with Europa and Enceladus

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be focused on Europa and Enceladus, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, in efforts to uncover the secrets of how life began in the Solar System. Europa and Enceladus have captivated scientists with rising plumes of water cracking beneath their icy surfaces. The moons have been described as “ …
Katyanna Quach, 26 Aug 2017

How to build your own DIY makeshift levitation machine at home

Engineers at the University of Bristol in the UK have published a rough guide to building a simple levitation chamber that uses sound waves to suspend objects. Performing levitation experiments requires careful laboratory equipment and conditions. But a paper published in the Review of Scientific Instruments this month shows …
Katyanna Quach, 16 Aug 2017
Waymo self-driving minivan

Waymo fleshes out self-driving car tech with hardware that goes soft at first sign of trouble

Waymo has been granted a patent to deck out its self-driving cars in a material that becomes less rigid when its sensors detect a high chance of collision. Autonomous cars have unresolved safety issues. Although these machines might not suffer from the dangers of fatigue or road rage, they still aren’t completely safe. …
Katyanna Quach, 15 Aug 2017

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017