SETI: Scientists Develop ‘Alien Contact Protocol’

Humanity might not “speak extraterrestrial.” The SETI Post-Detection Hub wants to coordinate how we respond to alien life.


What happens when humanity’s biggest sci-fi dream comes true and intelligent extraterrestrial life makes contact with Earth? A group of scientists is formally working on answering that complicated question. Recently, the University of St. Andrews in the UK announced a new research hub that will bring together an international team of experts to help prepare humanity for alien contact. The SETI Post-Detection Hub will develop a framework for “impact assessments, protocols, procedures and treaties designed to allow humanity to respond responsibly” should we detect intelligent life from beyond our planet. SETI is short for “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.” 


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Just like humans, rats move their bodies to the beat of music

Accurately moving to a musical beat was thought to be a skill innately unique to humans. However, new research now shows that rats also have this ability. The optimal tempo for nodding along was found to depend on the time constant in the brain (the speed at which our brains can respond to something), which is similar across all species. This means that the ability of our auditory and motor systems to interact and move to music may be more widespread among species than previously thought. This new discovery offers not only further insight into the animal mind, but also into the origins of our own music and dance.


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Two Worlds One Sun

How different does sunset appear from Mars than from Earth?


For comparison, two images of our common star were taken at sunset, one from Earth and one from Mars. These images were scaled to have same angular width and featured here side-by-side. A quick inspection will reveal that the Sun appears slightly smaller from Mars than from Earth. This makes sense since Mars is 50% further from the Sun than Earth. More striking, perhaps, is that the Martian sunset is noticeably bluer near the Sun than the typically orange colors near the setting Sun from Earth. The reason for the blue hues from Mars is not fully understood, but thought to be related to forward scattering properties of Martian dust.


The terrestrial sunset was taken in March 2012 from MarseilleFrance, while the Martian sunset was captured in 2015 by NASA‘s Curiosity rover from Gale crater on Mars

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Metaverse: Most business projects will be dead by 2025 

Most Metaverse business projects will be dead by 2025

McKinsey forecasts market value of $5 trillion by 2030, Citi says up to $13 trillion, but Canalys doesn’t agree

CANALYS CHANNELS FORUM The metaverse is a solution looking for a B2B problem – that problem being how to help Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg drum up billions of dollars in revenues – and it’s going to fail in the not-too-distant future.

That is if you believe the good folk at Canalys, who are seemingly already buffing a gravestone for Zuck’s version of the internet that we recently pointed out nobody really wants.

“Is the metaverse the next digital frontier or an overhyped money pit?” asked Matthew Ball, chief analyst at Canalys, at the company’s Channels Forum in Barcelona.

“Tens of billions of dollars have already been invested, costs and delays to Meta’s own progress is a barometer.


Learn more / En savoir plus / Mehr erfahren:


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Nature Plants: Concerted expansion and contraction of immune receptor gene repertoires in plant genomes (2022)

Recent reports suggest that cell-surface and intracellular immune receptors function synergistically to activate a robust defense against pathogens, but whether they co-evolve is unclear. Plant geneticists now determined the numbers of cell-surface and intracellular immune receptors in 350 species. Surprisingly, the number of receptor genes that are predicted to encode cell-surface and intracellular immune receptors is strongly correlated. The scientists suggest this is consistent with mutual potentiation of immunity initiated by cell-surface and intracellular receptors being reflected in the concerted co-evolution of the size of their repertoires across plant species. Comparative genomic analysis of 350 plant species reveals that cell-surface and intracellular immune receptor gene families co-expand or co-contract. This suggests an evolutionary relationship between the two branches of the plant immune system.



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DreamFusion: Text-to-3D using 2D Diffusion

Recent breakthroughs in text-to-image synthesis have been driven by diffusion models trained on billions of image-text pairs. Adapting this approach to 3D synthesis would require large-scale datasets of labeled 3D assets and efficient architectures for denoising 3D data, neither of which currently exist. These limitations can be avoided by using a pretrained 2D text-to-image diffusion model to perform text-to-3D synthesis.


Dreamfusion introduces a loss based on probability density distillation that enables the use of a 2D diffusion model as a prior for optimization of a parametric image generator. Using this loss in a DeepDream-like procedure, allows to optimize a randomly-initialized 3D model (a Neural Radiance Field, or NeRF) via gradient descent such that its 2D renderings from random angles achieve a low loss. The resulting 3D model of the given text can be viewed from any angle, relit by arbitrary illumination, or composited into any 3D environment. This approach requires no 3D training data and no modifications to the image diffusion model, demonstrating the effectiveness of pretrained image diffusion models as priors.

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Plastic-like material that behaves and conducts like metal

Scientists with the University of Chicago have discovered a way to create a material that can be made like a plastic, but conducts electricity more like a metal.


The research, published Oct. 26th 2022 in Nature, shows how to make a kind of material in which the molecular fragments are jumbled and disordered, but can still conduct electricity extremely well. This goes against all of the rules we know about for conductivity — to a scientist, it’s kind of seeing a car driving on water and still going 70 mph. But the finding could also be extraordinarily useful; if you want to invent something revolutionary, the process often first starts with discovering a completely new material.


“In principle, this opens up the design of a whole new class of materials that conduct electricity, are easy to shape, and are very robust in everyday conditions,” said John Anderson, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago and the senior author on the study. “Essentially, it suggests new possibilities for an extremely important technological group of materials,” said Jiaze Xie (PhD’22, now at Princeton), the first author on the paper.

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