Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: NASA is returning to Mars in 2018, a laser that can boost fusion efficiency, a new treatment could reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms, Virgin Galactic to return to the skies, and tech giants meet to discuss AI ethics.
NASA’s InSight Lander Approved for 2018 Launch Date
Top NASA managers have formally approved the launch of the agency’s InSight Lander to the Red Planet in the spring of 2018 following a postponement from this spring due to the discovery of a vacuum leak in a prime science instrument supplied by France.
The InSight missions goal is to accomplish an unprecedented study of the deep interior of the most Earth-like planet in our solar system.
OMEGA Laser Produces 5 Times Higher Nuclear Fusion Yield
Scientists at the University of Rochester have taken a significant step forward in laser fusion research. Experiments using the OMEGA laser at the University’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE) have created the conditions capable of producing a fusion yield that’s five times higher than the current record laser-fusion energy yield, as long as the relative conditions produced at LLE are reproduced and scaled up at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
The findings are the result of multiple experiments conducted by LLE scientists Sean Regan, Valeri Goncharov, and collaborators, whose paper was published in Physical Review Letters. Arijit Bose, a doctoral student in physics at Rochester working with Riccardo Betti, a professor of engineering and physics, interpreted those findings in a paper published as Rapid Communications in the journal Physical Review E (R).
New Alzheimer’s Treatment Could Reverse Memory Loss
Alzheimer’s disease routinely appears at or near the top of diseases most feared by Americans. It’s terrifying to contemplate and devastating when it happens. The memory loss that is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s begins with loss of function at the synaptic connections between neurons and progresses to the destruction of the neurons themselves. Research carried out by a team at University College London and recently reported in the journal Current Biology details how molecular changes at the synapse damage memory and suggests ways that the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s may be prevented and possibly reversed.
Virgin Galactic Returns to the Skies Two Years After Crash
Virgin Galactic has announced that it has successfully test-flown its new (edge of) space plane. It’s the first time in two years that Galactic craft has taken to the skies as the program was put on hold after the fatal crash in 2014. This flight, which lasted nearly four hours over the Mojave desert, involved the SpaceShipTwo-class launch vehicle, VMS Eve, carry the passenger cruiser, VSS Unity, at heights of over 50,000 feet.
Tech Giants Meet to Discuss the Future of AI
Contrary to fictional portrayals of humans being herded like animals by Artificially Intelligent (AI) machines, realistic concerns about artificial intelligence are far more benign. Still, they are very important, and conversations have to begin in order to look at perhaps setting some ground rules.
Insiders have revealed to the New York Times that the biggest players in AI are meeting to discuss pressing issues on the development of AI. The goal is to organize in hopes of self-policing before governmental regulatory bodies have to be deployed.
Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!