Tag: jeff cannata

  • Mutating Astronaut Blood, A Cautionary Tale

    Researchers at NASA have been holding on to astronaut blood for 20 years. But that's not the story. The story is that over that period, the blood has been mutating. Anthony and Jeff discuss this new wrinkle in the dangers of space travel - and space colonization - and how some very smart people are thinking about it. [more]

  • The Case for Digital Dementia

    A new study has found that storing important information in a digital device frees up the mind to remember other, less important details — which otherwise would be crowded out by the important stuff. It suggests that tech might be improving our memories, contrary to the popular notion that tech is giving us all “digital dementia.” Anthony and Jeff discuss whether this data changes their opinions about how devices are impacting human memory, and how new technology can make things even better. [more]

  • Tongue Vision

    Scientists are innovating in the field of Sensory Substitution, using one sense to compensate for an impairment in another. Jeff and Anthony discuss a new study that uses a device called BrainPort to convey visual information to the tongue, in conjunction with audio signals. Could it be an inexpensive alternative to retinal implants? [more]

  • In the Grip of Necrobotic Spiders

    Rice University mechanical engineers are showing how to repurpose deceased spiders as mechanical grippers that can blend into natural environments while picking up objects, like other insects, that outweigh them. Anthony and Jeff discuss the merits of using spider corpses as engineering materials. [more]

  • Habit Forming and Microwave Friend

    How much of our daily lives are lived out of habit? How can habits shape our behavior in positive ways? Anthony and Jeff take a look at new research that suggests habitual action has a much larger role to play in human life than previously thought. Then, how for would you go to talk to your imaginary friend? One Youtuber decided to use some pretty slick technology to do just that, but the results are surprising. Jeff and Anthony step through the story of AI gone frighteningly wrong. [more]

  • 700 Celebration and Face Mites

    It's the 700th episode of We Have Concerns and Anthony and Jeff have pulled out absolutely zero stops! Star-studded? Nah. Pomp and circumstance? Eh. Instead, the 700th episode of this award-winning science podcast focuses on new research into the tiny creatures that live on your face. That's right! We all have little monsters living in our face pores, and now we know they have anuses! For pooping! So it looks like the 700th episode is pretty special, after all. [more]

  • Hibernation Information and Measuring a Second

    Can humans reach new planets by hibernating during the trip? A new study on hibernation reveals how the benefits of torpor don't scale with size, and Jeff and Anthony debate the science of human hibernation. Then, what does it take to accurately measure a second? Anthony and Jeff take a look at the effort to redefine the unit of measure that relates to all others. [more]

  • Artificial Intelligence or Personhood?

    Blake Lemoine, an engineer for Google’s responsible AI organization, described the LaMDA system he has been working on since last fall as sentient, with a perception of, and ability to express thoughts and feelings that was equivalent to a human child. In an extended discussion, Anthony and Jeff step through this fascinating story. Is it possible that this chatbot has achieved personhood, or is it merely an illusion? [more]

  • Extreme Sitting and Worldwide Trolley Problems

    Robert “Robby” Silk, 49, has pioneered the sport of competitive chair-sitting, an endurance activity that involves sitting in extreme environments, from sun-up to sundown without any sort of time pieces or electronic devices. Jeff and Anthony discuss whether this trailblazing behavior makes him a badass. Then, is the infamous "Trolley Problem" considered differently by different cultures around the world? A group of researchers decided to find out, and Anthony and Jeff take a look at the results. [more]

  • Swallow the Slime and Wear the Fungus

    Researchers have developed a magnetic slime "robot" that can shift into different shapes to grab objects. It may be used to operate inside humans without the need for surgery. Anthony and Jeff discuss the notion of swallowing the magnetic slime, and the future of soft robots. Then, the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl has given birth to a new type of slime that thrives in radioactive environments. Scientists hope it may be a biological key to creating ways for humans to survive in deep space. Jeff and Anthony talk about how sometimes awful events can reveal useful information. [more]

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