Artificial Intelligence has come a long way to explore the possibilities hidden in the world of robots. AI has enabled robots to walk, swim, and communicate. Now, they are even able to replicate themselves. New research shows that living robots can biologically replicate themselves in a unique way. The discovery was made by the scientists, who came up with the first living robots — called Xenobots — from frog cells in 2020. These tiny computer-designed robots can swim to find and gather new single cells around them. Then, these parent Xenobots assemble the baby robots inside their mouths. The new robots soon grow up to look and move like their parent robots. The replicating process continues over generations of Xenobots.
The results of the new research were published on November 29, 2021, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the University of Vermont, the embryonic cells used in Xenobots would develop into the skin in the Xenopus laevis frog. “But we’re putting them into a novel context, ” said Michael Levin, a professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University and co-leader of the new research. He added, “We’re giving them a chance to reimagine their multicellularity.”
Co-author Douglas Blackiston, the senior scientist at Tufts University, said, “People have thought for quite a long time that we’ve worked out all the ways that life can reproduce or replicate. But this is something that’s never been observed before.”
Scientists had the full, unaltered frog genome but they had no idea that these could work together to make self-replicating copies of themselves. “These are frog cells replicating in a way that is very different from how frogs do it. No animal or plant known to science replicates in this way,” said Sam Kriegman, the lead author on the new study.
Xenobots are spherical robots made of about 3,000 frog cells. For these robots to replicate in a self-sustaining manner, they had to be built in shapes that were most efficient. An artificial intelligence program working on the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at UVM’s Vermont Advanced Computing Core found a way to facilitate motion-based “kinematic” replication. That’s when the robots were provided with a PacMan-like mouth.
Scientists believe that this new discovery about self-replicating robots will further our understanding of regenerative medicine. It’ll also help speed up solutions based on AI.
"Mirror World" Behind One Of Space’s Mysteries: Study
A mirror world is a common trope in fantasy and fiction, but it may also be the answer to one of Space’s biggest mysteries today. A group of scientists behind a new research paper suggest that a “mirror world” of particles that remains unseen from us may be the answer to the Hubble Constant problem. The Hubble constant problem refers to the discrepancy in the theoretical value of the rate of expansion in the universe and the actual rate of expansion as observed by measurements. The issue remains to reconcile the two without upending the entire cosmological model as it stands today. As doing so would ruin the agreements with the current scientific models and the observed phenomenon in Space like the cosmic microwave background.
“Basically, we point out that a lot of the observations we do in cosmology have an inherent symmetry under rescaling the universe as a whole. This might provide a way to understand why there appears to be a discrepancy between different measurements of the Universe’s expansion rate,” said lead researchers Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine from the University of New Mexico, and Fei Ge and Lloyd Knox at the University of California.
Their observations were published in the paper titled Symmetry of Cosmological Observables, a Mirror World Dark Sector, and the Hubble Constant, which was released recently in Physical Review Letters.
“The mirror world idea first arose in the 1990s but has not previously been recognised as a potential solution to the Hubble constant problem. This might seem crazy at face value, but such mirror worlds have a large physics literature in a completely different context since they can help solve an important problem in particle physics,” said Cyr-Racine. “Our work allows us to link, for the first time, this large literature to an important problem in cosmology.”
Apart from the mirror world idea, scientists have also considered the possibility of measurement errors to be behind the discrepancy. But as measurement tools have gotten better, the deviation between the theoretical and observed value has only increased, leading many to believe that measurement errors are not the reason behind the discrepancy.
NASA Satellite Captures Unique View of Total Lunar Eclipse That Occurred on May 15
A NASA satellite, named Lucy which was launched in October 2021, managed to capture a unique perspective on the total lunar eclipse, which occurred on May 15-16. The satellite was launched for a 12-year journey to probe eight different asteroids, including one asteroid from the main asteroid belt in the solar system. The other seven asteroids that the satellite will probe are from Jupiter’s trojans asteroid cluster.
The satellite was already at a distance of 64 million miles (100 million km) from the Earth, roughly 70 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, when it observed the total lunar eclipse.
“While total lunar eclipses aren’t that rare – they happen every year or so – it isn’t that often that you get a chance to observe them from an entirely new angle,” said planetary scientist Hal Levison of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), who is the principal researcher of the mission in a statement.
“When the team realized Lucy had a chance to observe this lunar eclipse as a part of the instrument calibration process, everyone was incredibly excited,” Levison added.
“Capturing these images really was an amazing team effort. The instrument, guidance, navigation and science operations teams all had to work together to collect these data, getting the Earth and the Moon in the same frame,” said Acting Deputy Principal Investigator Dr. John Spencer, also from SwRI.
The satellite took 86 one-millisecond exposure shots in order to make a 2-second timelapse of the first half of the eclipse. The video was published by NASA on its website. People can see a cross-sectional view of the eclipse in the short but mesmerising video.
The video can be found on the following link.
This Battery-Like Device Can Absorb Carbon Dioxide While Charging
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have designed a battery-like device that can take us a step further to solve the carbon dioxide emission problems in the present world. This supercapacitor device can selectively absorb CO2 during its charging process. When the battery-like device discharges, it will release the carbon dioxide in a controlled manner in such a way that can be collected to reuse or dispose of it later.
According to an article by EurekAlert, almost 35 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere every year. Hence, the world is in need of urgent solutions to eliminate these emissions to solve the climate change problems.
There have been efforts in this direction, to control, capture, reuse and eliminate carbon emissions from the atmosphere. But the most advanced technologies, in this field, use a lot of energy and are highly expensive. The supercapacitor at the University of Cambridge is designed to capture and store carbon using low-cost technology.
The supercapacitor is as small as a coin. It is partly made using sustainable materials like coconut shells and seawater. Grace Mapstone, the co-author of the study, said, “The best part is that the materials used to make supercapacitors are cheap and abundant. The electrodes are made of carbon, which comes from waste coconut shells.”
Dr Alexander Forse from Cambridge’s Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry led the research. He said, “We found that by slowly alternating the current between the plates we can capture double the amount of CO2 than before.” He added, “The charging-discharging process of our supercapacitor potentially uses less energy than the amine heating process used in industry now. Our next questions will involve investigating the precise mechanisms of CO2 capture and improving them. Then it will be a question of scaling up.”
The research, which has been published in the journal Nanoscale, describes the supercapacitor. It uses two electrodes of positive and negative charge. Unlike a rechargeable battery, it does not use chemical reactions to store energy. Instead, it stores energy by the movement of electrons between the electrode plates. This gives it a longer lifespan.
Grace Mapstone said, “We want to use materials that are inert, that don’t harm environments, and that we need to dispose of less frequently. For example, the CO2 dissolves into a water-based electrolyte which is basically seawater.”
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