Futurology ~ Cassini’s rings, space mechanic, weight of humanity, binary brains, Caesarians and evolution, the future


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Cassini’s ring grazing orbits — A collage of images of Saturn’s stormy north pole was captured by Cassini on December 2nd, from a distance of approximately  640,000 kilometres( 400,000 miles), as the spacecraft was plunging toward the outer rim of the F-ring. The images above were taken with four different spectral filters, each of which reveals gases in different layers of Saturn’s atmosphere.
~ In that hexagonal storm on the right engulfing Saturn’s north, each wall is as wide as Earth.

NASA is building a space mechanic — You would never buy a hundred million-dollar computer without a repair plan, but that’s exactly what NASA does when it sends costly satellites into space. To ensure that its prized eyes-in-the-sky don’t become the solar system’s most expensive e-waste, the space agency is now building a robot capable of repairing and refueling satellites in orbit.
~ Grease, lube and solar panel change, please.

Weight of humanity — A study published in The Anthropocene Review has taken a stab at estimating the weight of Earth’s “technosphere”: all of the structures people have built, modified, or messed with in order to live here. As defined in the journal’s paper, the technosphere includes everything from factories to smartphones to the land we’ve farmed, and the planet-wide mountain of garbage we’ve created.
So far, they reckon it’s 30 trillion tons or roughly  50 kilos (110 pounds) of human-made crap per square meter.
~ Actually, if you think about it, we haven’t ‘added’ anything, as it’s all basically repurposed Earth stuff.

The brain’s basic computational algorithm is organised by power-of-two-based logic — So reports Sci-News, citing a neuroscientist at Augusta University’s Medical College. Researchers from the US and China have documented the algorithm at work in seven different brain regions involved with basics like food and fear in mice and hamsters.
~ Well, that’s a relief. Or not. 

Caesarians changing evolution — A new study from the University of Vienna, suggests that Cesarean sections are changing the trajectory of human evolution, altering physical characteristics in both mothers and babies. Trouble is, the researchers presented virtually no empirical evidence to support their extraordinary claim, and the credulous media simply took it at face-value.
~ Et tu. 

The future — It’s that time of year again, when people try and project and predict the future. To the future! It’s going to happen, but who really knows how? For one thing, in 2017 there will be a new iPhone, Kaby Lake CPUs will make it to the Mac, and Apple has been working on VR and Ai and AR so hopefully we’ll see something. Meanwhile, Wired has a podcast of more general predictions.
~ And Trump will make more stupid tweets and people of conscience will quail anew.

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