Top Futurology News - For the month of June 2020

07/02/2020 - 05:45

Kirk Nankivell

We hope you enjoy this month's update. Here are the top stories from the past month (in mostly chronological order):

1) Researchers discover a new type of matter inside neutron stars

A Finnish research group has found strong evidence for the presence of exotic quark matter inside the cores of the largest neutron stars in existence. They reached this conclusion by combining recent results from theoretical particle and nuclear physics to measurements of gravitational waves from neutron star collisions.


2) Four ‘Mysterious Signals From Outer Space’ Are Coming From Galaxies Like Ours, Say Scientists

Go outside on a hot day and feel the Sun on your skin. Now imagine how much energy our Sun emits in an entire human lifetime. Compress all that energy into a single burst lasting a mere millisecond and you’ll understand why fast radio bursts (FRBs) are one of the hottest topics in astronomy.


3) Air Force Pilots Are About to Do Battle With Autonomous Drones

The U.S. military is planning to put its combat drones to the ultimate test: a skirmish against human fighter pilots. Lieutenant General Jack Shanahan, who’s the head of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told BBC News that the military is interested in measuring the capabilities of AI-driven aircraft against its human pilots. While the plan isn’t to replace human crewmembers — yet — pitting the two against each other is a good way to gauge how far the AI has come.


4) Northrop Grumman snags $187 million to design NASA's lunar Gateway habitat for astronauts

NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman $187 million to design the habitat module for the space agency's lunar Gateway, a planned moon-orbiting space station for astronauts.


5) Ford will use this uncanny, human-like robot Digit to deliver packages — take a closer look at the bipedal machine

Someday, your packages might be delivered by a robot that stands, walks, and hands things over to you. Agility Robotics announced its newest model, Digit, in 2019. Digit has legs, a torso, and arms, designed to complete many of the same tasks human workers do in warehouses and factories. Agility says that it specifically envisions Digit being part of last-mile deliveries.

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6) Physicists entangle 15 trillion hot atoms

Physicists set a new record by linking together a hot soup of 15 trillion atoms in a bizarre phenomenon called quantum entanglement. The finding could be a major breakthrough for creating more accurate sensors to detect ripples in space-time called gravitational waves or even the elusive dark matter thought to pervade the universe.

7) Scientists 3D Printed Ears Inside Living Mice Using Light

Tissue engineering just got wilder and weirder. Using nothing but light and bioink, scientists were able to directly print a human ear-like structure under the skin of mice. The team used a healthy ear as a template and 3D printed a mirror image of that ear—tissue layer by tissue layer—directly onto the back of a mouse. All without a single surgical cut.


8) Quantum 'fifth state of matter' observed in space for first time

Scientists have observed the fifth state of matter in space for the first time, offering unprecedented insight that could help solve some of the quantum universe's most intractable conundrums, research showed Thursday. Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs)—the existence of which was predicted by Albert Einstein and Indian mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose almost a century ago—are formed when atoms of certain elements are cooled to near absolute zero (0 Kelvin, minus 273.15 Celsius).


9) Aqua-Fi could bring Wi-Fi-like tech to the underwater world

Radio waves travel poorly through the water, which makes it difficult for divers or submersibles to wirelessly transmit information to the surface. Scientists are trying to change that, though, by developing an underwater version of Wi-Fi. Back in 2018, we heard how researchers at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) had used lasers to transmit HD video through water. Their experimental new system, known as Aqua-Fi, builds on that technology.


10) Artificial synapses and living cells communicate using brain chemicals

Artificial synapses are an important step towards emulating the supercomputer that is the human brain. Now scientists have successfully bridged the gap between organic and artificial, with biohybrid synapses that let living cells communicate with electronic systems, not with electrical signals but with neurotransmitters like dopamine.


11) Is teleportation possible? Yes, in the quantum world

"Beam me up" is one of the most famous catchphrases from the Star Trek series. It is the command issued when a character wishes to teleport from a remote location back to the Starship Enterprise. While human teleportation exists only in science fiction, teleportation is possible in the subatomic world of quantum mechanics—albeit not in the way typically depicted on TV. In the quantum world, teleportation involves the transportation of information, rather than the transportation of matter.


12) CERN approves plans for a $23 billion, 62-mile long super-collider

CERN has approved plans to build a $23 billion super-collider 100 km in circumference (62 miles) that would make the current 27 km 16 teraelectron volt (TeV) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) look tiny in comparison. The so-called Future Circular Collider (FCC) would smash particles together with over 100 TeV of energy to create many more of the elusive Higgs bosons first detected by CERN in 2012. This “Higgs factory” would be key to helping physicists learn more about dark matter and other mysteries of the Standard Model of physics.