At this moment of time, we want to welcome November, and we say “Goodbye! October 2020” not without turning around one last time and giving a glance at the most outstanding news around technology and science in the past month.
WATER ON THE MOON
We would like to start with one of the most important discoveries published recently regarding our knowledge about space and our nearest celestial body: water on the Moon.
Last October 20th the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, confirmed for the very first time in human history, the existence of water on the surface of the Moon.
Although there were already tracks of Hydrogen molecules present in the Moon, it was not until now that scientists could tell that these were part of actual water (H2O) and not it’s close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH).
Water is a very important resource and fundamental for human exploratory missions.
Just as NASA’s chief exploration scientist, Jacob Bleacher stated, "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."
Now, whether the water found by SOFIA on the Moon's surface is usable by humans, that is still a challenge to be discovered in the near future.
THE COMPLETE ASTRONAUTS DATABASE
Following up with Space and Astronauts, we’d like to give an honorable mention to Supercluster's compilation of The Astronaut Database, launched on October 23rd.
This is the most complete database of living creatures and robots that at some point have left our planet up to today.
The astronaut database is a very interesting interactive platform that allows you to search through a fascinating collection of facts, sort and filter by names, life forms, nation, mission and aircraft.
Have fun and learn more about the human species and it’s long tracked history of space escapades.
TRAIN AI WITH DOG TRICKS!
Now let’s talk about how a robot named Spot has been learning through a classic technique we all used to teach our dogs at home to sit, or stay. That’s right! It is the positive reinforcement that computer scientists are using to program a robot to self-teach itself new tricks, such as stacking blocks.
“Good Robot!” is the name of the paper recently published explaining how these computer scientists apply the typical cognitive process into an elaborated learning algorithm.
Of course, this is an analogy of a gamification model where the robot earns points (instead of cookies as trained dogs would do) whenever a good decision was made on a systematic trial and error kind of problem, reinforcing this way its capacity to learn the right decisions.
And of course, the robot is programmed to like and aim to earn more “treats”. This process has accelerated the learning curve of a process that would usually take months, into just a couple of days.
WORLD FASTEST PRODUCTION CAR
One of the most constant challenging matters for the human race across history has always been overcoming its speed limits.
On October 10, 2020, SSC North America claimed its Tuatara with 534 km/h set the new record for the world's fastest production car, leaving behind the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport reach of 431 km/h on July 4th 2010.
Even though the record's legitimacy was called into question when the video was broken down and there were inconsistencies found within the digitally overlaid display speed, it is clear that the Tuatara is capable of running at a very high speed.
Now, the claimed “world's fastest car” will go back and re-run the world record speed run after the video's legitimacy was questioned by thousands of viewers.
Whatever the outcome would be in the next run, thanks to all technology evolution and efficiency improvements over the car mechanics, as we can see with Tuatara’s 1,750-horsepower, it feels like we are close to beating once again our own speed record on production cars.