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April 5, 2009

Welsh University announces intelligent robot conducting biology experiments

Welsh University announces intelligent robot conducting biology experiments

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Adam is a robot developed by Welsh Aberystwyth University researchers which combines artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation to independently conduct and analyse biological laboratory research.

“What’s new and exciting about Adam is [it is] the first time we’ve managed to show that a computer can not only think up new scientific ideas, but experimentally test them and decide whether they’re true,” said Ross King, a computer science professor and lead researcher at Aberystwyth University, “Adam makes up its own mind what to do. It decides what experiments to do, what to test.” He says that for other lab experiments the hardware is already in place, the only step needed is to change the software.

The artificial intelligence alone spans three computers which holds the databases and analytical software to enable Adam to think. For the yeast experiment, Adam was loaded with databases which hold known information relating to yeasts and organisms. Adam compared all fields in the database to find the areas of missing information from which he devised 20 hypotheses.

Adam’s AI is connected to robotic arms, sensors, incubators and cameras which enable Adam to start over 1,000 individual experiments every day and follow their progress over a week.

A part of the process is that Adam’s AI can cycle and analyze the results of the experiments as well doing routine repetitious lab work. Following Adam’s testing, King’s team manually tested three of Adam’s hypotheses and found that the robot’s conclusions were correct, and each was a breakthrough to the scientific community.

Adam has spawned discussion amongst researchers. William Melek, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Ontario’s University of Waterloo, has noted that to set up the AI needed for subsequent experiments involving new biological variables and criteria, the human expertise would be time consuming to customize it. The usefulness would be limited therefore to the allotment of human input needed to set up Adam.

David Waltz of Columbia University and Bruce Buchanan of the University of Pittsburgh say that “For the foreseeable future, the prospect of using automated systems as assistants holds vast promise as these assistants are becoming not only faster but much broader in their capabilities — more knowledgeable, more creative, and more self-reflective,” They note the potential of such lab assistants which may more efficiently process the research data.

It was reported that Adam cost about $1million in production costs and this was weighed against the costs of hiring lab techs. King said, We made many mistakes and learned from Adam. Eve is a much cleaner design.”

Eve is the second AI computer under development by Professor King’s research team. Eve’s artificial intelligence will be enhanced to analyze compounds needed for medicinal drugs which may treat killer diseases such as malaria.



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North Korea launches rocket

Filed under: North Korea,Space — admin @ 5:00 am

North Korea launches rocket – Wikinews, the free news source

North Korea launches rocket

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

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Despite international appeals, North Korea has gone ahead with a long publicised rocket launch. Authorities from the United States, Japan, and South Korea confirm that the rocket lifted off at 11.32 local time (02.32 GMT) on Sunday April 5, 2009.

“A short time ago a flying object appeared to have been launched from North Korea,” read a statement by the Japanese government. The rocket seems to have passed over the Japanese capital of Tokyo and headed over the Pacific Ocean. Two parts of the rocket, the first and second stages, fell either side of the Japanese home islands, falling into the Sea of Japan and the Pacific.

A statement by the North Korean official news agency said that the rocket had successfully launched a satellite which is now broadcasting “data” and North Korean propaganda songs. A South Korean source told the South Korean Yonhap news agency that the rocket did appear to be carrying a satellite. The North Korean statement calls the rocket Unha-2 (“Galaxy-2”) and the satellite Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 (“Lodestar 2”).

However, the US Northern Command stated that the launch of the rocket failed, and that the payload and second stage have fallen into the Pacific Ocean.

President Obama of the United States condemned the launch as “provocative” and stated that “North Korea has ignored its international obligations…and further isolated itself from the community of nations.” America, Japan and South Korea will discuss the launch at an emergency UN Security Council meeting at 15:00 EDT (1900 GMT).

Pyongyang’s one ally, China, has called for “restraint” on all sides. Both China and fellow veto power Russia oppose further sanctions on North Korea.

Resolution 1718 enacted in the wake of a stated 2006 nuclear weapons test bans North Korea from missile development. North Korea claims that the rocket is a launch vehicle to orbit a satellite, however its neighbours suggest that this is simply a cover for a long-range missile test, a missile that could potentially hit Alaska and the West Coast of the United States.



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Massive ice shelf expected to break away from Antarctica

Filed under: Antarctica — admin @ 5:00 am

Massive ice shelf expected to break away from Antarctica

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

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Illustrated map of the Wilkins Shelf in 2008
Image: National Snow and Ice Data Center/NASA.

The European Space Agency (ESA) reported on Friday that the Wilkins Shelf, an enormous Antarctic ice shelf half the size of Scotland, could break away from the continent very soon.

According to reports, only a thin strip of ice connects it to the Charcot Island, and cracks are expanding rapidly. This is the largest shelf of ice so far to have disintegrated in the Antarctic.

In February 2008, the shelf lost 425 square kilometres (164 square miles) of ice, followed by a loss of another 62 square miles in May 2008.

“During the last year the ice shelf has lost about 1800 square kilometers (694 square miles), or about 14 percent of its size,” said Angelika Humbert from the Institute of Geophysics at University of Münster in Germany. Scientists say that the shelf, if it detaches from the mainland, won’t cause an increase in sea levels, as it is already floating.

Most scientists believe that the incident is further evidence of global warming. Average temperatures in the Antarctic peninsula have increased by about 2.5 degrees Celsius (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past fifty years.



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Five children found dead in Graham, Washington

Filed under: Archived,Crime and law,United States,Washington — admin @ 5:00 am

Five children found dead in Graham, Washington

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Map highlighting location of Graham, Washington.
Image: Arkyan.

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At least five children have been found dead in a home in Graham, Washington in Pierce County located in the United States. The bodies were found on Saturday after officials in neighboring King County found the body of their father who committed suicide by way of a self inflicted gunshot wound.

According to the Pierce County sheriff’s office, the ages of the children, one boy and 4 girls, range from 7-years-old to 16-years-old and all were shot and killed. Police went to check on the children’s health after King County sheriffs contacted Pierce County regarding the father’s suicide, whose name has not been released.

Authorities believe the 35-year-old man killed all five children before he killed himself, but the motive is not yet known.



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