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Peggy Whitson, who broke the US record for most time spent in space, received praise from president, who plans to cut Nasa’s budget and certain programs
Astronaut Peggy Whitson broke the US record for most time spent in space on Monday, and received a phone call from Donald Trump in which the president congratulated her and urged Nasa to reach Mars ahead of his own proposed schedule.
Whitson, 57, reached her 534th day in space early on Monday morning. The president called her from the Oval Office, where he sat flanked by his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, and Dr Kate Rubins, another Nasa astronaut.Continue reading...
Psychology research shows people mistrust those who make moral decisions by calculating costs and benefits – like computers do
Technologies built on artificial intelligence are revolutionising human life. As these machines become increasingly integrated in our daily lives, the decisions they face will go beyond the merely pragmatic, and extend into the ethical. When faced with an unavoidable accident, should a self-driving car protect its passengers or seek to minimise overall lives lost? Should a drone strike a group of terrorists planning an attack, even if civilian casualties will occur? As artificially intelligent machines become more autonomous, these questions are impossible to ignore.
There are good arguments for why some ethical decisions ought to be left to computers—unlike human beings, machines are not led astray by cognitive biases, do not experience fatigue, and do not feel hatred toward an enemy. An ethical AI could, in principle, be programmed to reflect the values and rules of an ideal moral agent. And free from human limitations, such machines could even be said to make better moral decisions than us. Yet the notion that a machine might be given free reign over moral decision-making seems distressing to many—so much so that, for some, their use poses a fundamental threat to human dignity. Why are we so reluctant to trust machines when it comes to making moral decisions? Psychology research provides a clue: we seem to have a fundamental mistrust of individuals who make moral decisions by calculating costs and benefits – like computers do.Continue reading...
Wax moth larvae are usually bred as fish bait, but a chance discovery has revealed their taste for plastic – which could be used to beat polluting plastic
For caterpillars that are bred as premium fish bait, it must rank as a better life. Rather than dangling on the end of a hook and wondering what comes next, the grubs are set to join the war on plastic waste.
The larvae of wax moths are sold as delicious snacks for chub, carp and catfish, but in the wild the worms live on beeswax, making them the scourge of beekeepers across Europe.
The solutions to today’s puzzles
Earlier today I set you the following riddles:
1. A retired professional wrestler boards a crowded train in Chicago when a young man stands up to offer his seat. The wrestler is not injured and is only 36 years old. All week, riders on the train offer to give up their seat so that the famous wrestler can sit down instead. Why do people keep offering their seat to this muscular former athlete?Continue reading...
Live grenades, graffiti, Australian toffees and a 1930s red sports car among finds at site being cleared for housing
A vast battlefield landscape of tunnels and trenches dug to train troops for the first world war has been discovered on army land being cleared for housing.
Archaeologists who worked on the site at Larkhill, in Wiltshire, said the century-old complex was a valuable discovery – although it posed hazards.Continue reading...
After events across the world on Saturday we asked readers working in or involved in science to tell us why they were taking action
Scientists from around the world took to the streets and organised online in events advocating evidence-based policy on 22 April.
An eight-year project at Teotihuacán, once the western hemisphere’s largest city, failed to locate its rulers’ tomb but findings offered tantalising clues to its origins
For decades, the hunt for a royal tomb at the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán has gripped archaeologists trying to unravel the secrets of the kingdom’s extraordinary political power.
It is a mystery investigators thought they were on the verge of solving in 2015, when large quantities of liquid mercury were found amid a treasure trove of precious artefacts in a secret tunnel.Continue reading...
Stargazers were treated to a spectacle when the Lyrid meteor shower lit up the night sky over the north-eastern province of Jilin at the weekend. The annual event usually occurs between 19 and 23 April when the Earth passes through the dusty tail of comet ThatcherContinue reading...
Over the past three and half years, I’ve had 70 wasp stings injected into my left arm. Voluntarily. This hasn’t been an exercise in masochism, but rather to ensure I can go outside without screaming from fear.
Every year in the UK, there are between two and nine deaths from anaphylaxis caused by bee and wasp venom. In 2015-16, there were 4,451 hospital admissions for anaphylactic shock. In an effort to avoid adding to these statistics again, I’ve completed an immunotherapy programme. Fingers crossed “the cure” is never put to the test.Continue reading...
Three riddles that will wrestle you to the ground
I have a different type of puzzle for you today: three riddles suggested by Adam Rubin, a magician, bestselling-writer and puzzle designer. Read the following stories and answer the questions.Continue reading...