DARPA Will Scan Puppies’ Brains to Find Smartest ‘War Dogs’
“War dogs” have been used for hundreds of years in combat to aid armies in scouting, tracking and standing guard. And while they’ve varied in sizes and breeds, one trait has remained consistent: intelligence.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), in an attempt to find the brightest and best-fit dogs for warfare, announced it will fund a research project to scan potential war puppies’ brains with MRI machines.
The project, called “Functional Imaging to Develop Outstanding Service-Dogs” (FIDOS for short), is proposing that whichever dogs show the most brain activity in their MRI scans will be the smartest and, in turn, easiest to train.
The idea for the project was influenced in part from a 2012 Emory University study that examined dogs’ brain activity in relation to food (unsurprisingly, the dogs showed more activity when they were offered treats.)
DARPA said that the project, in addition to uncovering the brightest pups, could also identify which dogs are the most social — an ideal companion trait to help soldiers dealing with PTSD.
Bad Lip Reading
84% Of Fish Contaminated By Mercury, Study Finds
Another study confirms rising levels of mercury emissions worldwide, much of it from gold mining.
By John Platt
Mon, Jan 14 2013
Even as delegates from more than 130 countries negotiated what could become the world’s first legally binding international treaty on mercury emissions, two new reports show how bad the problem has become.
First, a study by Biodiversity Research Institute and the International POPs (The “POPs” in PEN’s name refers to “persistent organic pollutants.”)
The report by the organizations found that fish samples from around the world “regularly demonstrate mercury concentrations exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) human health advisory guidelines.” According to the report, many fish in nine countries, including the U.S., contained so much mercury that eating fish more than once a month would exceed safe consumption levels.
The report linked mercury in the environment to manmade pollutants, including “chlor-alkali facilities, contaminated sites, coal-fired power plants, artisanal small-scale gold mining, mixed-use chemical industry sites, and other sources.”
The second report came from the United National Environment Programme (UNEP), which found that mercury emissions are rising worldwide, especially in developing countries. “Mercury, which exists in various forms, remains a major global, regional and national challenge in terms of threats to human health and the environment,” United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a press release. “Mercury has been known as a toxin and a hazard for centuries — but today we have many of the alternative technologies and processes needed to reduce the risks for tens of millions of people, including pregnant mothers and their babies.”
UNEP blamed rising mercury levels in parts of Africa, Asia and South America on coal-generated electric plants and an increase in small-scale gold mining. Asia, according to UNEP, produces nearly half of the world’s mercury emissions, a situation driving by the region’s rapid industrialization.
The UNEP report cites rising gold prices for an increase in mining activity, which has increased mercury emissions from that activity since the last global mercury assessment report in 2008. According to UNEP, gold mining is responsible for 35% of all global mercury emissions, which directly endangers the 10 to 15 million people employed in the small-scale mining, including 3 million women and children.
Burning coal for electricity and heat was the second-highest source of mercury emissions, representing 24% of the global total, according to the report. Other sources cited by UNEP include consumer electronics, dentistry and plastic production.
UNEP has also improved its reporting procedures since 2008. This year’s report, for the first time, includes data on global mercury levels into rivers and lakes. UNEP found that 260 metric tonnes of mercury are being released into rivers and lakes every year.
Negotiations on the global mercury treaty are scheduled to continue through January 18.
DARPA Wants You to Design an Amphibious Tank
If you have ever dreamed of designing a tank, now’s your chance. The Pentagon’s futuristic arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), wants your help to develop a next-generation amphibious armored vehicle.
DARPA has released open-source software to allow anybody to become a tank designer. What’s more, there’s an enticing $1 million prize on the line. All the participants will go against each other in a contest called the FANG (Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle) challenge. Other than the considerable money prize, you’ll have a chance to see your design eventually become reality — DARPA will build the chosen one.
The goal is to build “new infrastructure for systems design development from a set of requirements — an idea on a cocktail napkin — all the way to a final fielded product,” Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, the DARPA program manager who heads the project, told Wired.
The first part of the contest, the Mobility/Drivetrain Challenge, kicked off today at noon EST. That’s when DARPA released the open-source software, called Meta on a dedicated website set up for the challenge. DARPA is also going to allow contestants to use its virtual workshop software called VehicleFORGE to share ideas and work together.
After the first phase, DARPA will select the top 20 tank conceptions and their creators will go on to the next phase, to design more parts of the vehicle. The registration to the challenge is already open.
On THIS day, January 8, 1835…
This is the only time in History that The United States national debt stood at ZERO.
Following the tragedy of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that left 26 people dead, including 20 children, there has been a lot of talk about increased gun control.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has reintroduced an expired “assault” weapons ban in the Senate, British CNN host Piers Morgan has made it his full-time job educating Americans on the dangers of firearms, and left-leaning filmmaker Michael Moore has pleaded with “frightened,” gun-loving Americans to resolve their “race” problems.
But here’s the thing: There are many facts and figures regarding violent crime in U.S. that have been left out of the debate on gun control. In fact, the data you’re not hearing about could make all the difference.
The following video from from Amidst The Noise entitled “Choose Your Own Crime Stats” tackles this exact issue.
“Does it not play into their fear agenda?” the narrator asks. “That, you know, you’re going to walk out your front door and get shot?”
He also notes that you can pinpoint where most of the crime is taking place, but when you try and bring that up nobody wants to listen. The implication? Instead of a national policy against guns, why aren’t we focusing on the problem areas?
For instance, did you know that:
Between 1992 and 2011, the violent crime rate in the U.S. has fallen by almost 50 percent (from 757.7 per 100,000 to 386.3 per 100,000).
The murder rate in 2011 rate was 4.7 per 100,000, down from 1992’s 9.3 per 100,000. That’s a 54 percent decrease.
In metropolitan areas where the population is greater than 250,000, the violent crime rate is double that of the national average.
In metropolitan areas where the population is greater than 250,000, the murder rate is double that of the national average.
These are just a few of the facts you’ll hear in Amidst The Noise’s video that’s starting to make the rounds
Yamada: Samurai of Ayutthaya