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Google’s AI could probably beat you at Atari

What’s significant in this story is not that a computer can perform tasks more efficiently than a human, but that the computer in question is not deploying a pre-programmed strategy; it is instead teaching itself how to win. When IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, and the artificially intelligent Watson computer won the quiz show “Jeopardy!” in 2011, these were considered impressive technical feats, but…

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The dark future of American space exploration: NASA’s golden age is about to come to a thudding halt

I remember, as a kid, being thrilled by the images that came in from the Voyager flybys in the late 70s and 80s. I wrote a fan letter to NASA when I was about 11, and received a big stack of glossy publications on the Space Shuttle and commercial technologies spun off from NASA inventions. If NASAs New Horizons mission to Pluto is extended beyond 2017, the entire active human presence at…

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We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training.

A chemist celebrates the liberal arts. Our culture has drawn an artificial line between art and science, one that did not exist for innovators like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Leonardo’s curiosity and passion for painting, writing, engineering and biology helped him triumph in both art and science; his study of anatomy and dissections of corpses enabled his incredible drawings of the human figure. When introducing the iPad 2,…

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The Hubble spotted this smiley face in space

Reading each other’s facial expressions is so important to our survival as a species that our brains are hardwired to respond to expressions on faces that aren’t even there. This adorable image — in which the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 seems to be smiling at the camera — comes courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. It was spotted by Judy Schmidt, who submitted a version of the image to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures…

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NASA | A View From The Other Side

A number of people who’ve seen NASA’s annual lunar phase and libration videos have asked what the other side of the Moon looks like, the side that can’t be seen from the Earth. This video answers that question. The imagery was created using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data. A number of people who’ve seen NASA’s annual lunar phase and libration videos have asked what the other side of the Moon looks…

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The Challenger disaster, Jan. 28, 1986

On this day in 1986, the Challenger space shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into its flight and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. All seven of the Challenger astronauts, who had blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, perished. One of the crew members, Christa McAuliffe, had won a nationwide NASA competition to be the first schoolteacher to go to space. —POLITICO.

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Earth With Rings

Sure, Saturn’s rings are cool, but the Earth is pretty awesome too, what with the water, the oxygen, the life, the chocolate. So let’s imagine just how awesome Earth would be if it also had rings. Ron Miller’s illustrations show various views of the earth with what that lucky planet Saturn has. —Ron Miller/Black Cat Studios