Feel younger than you are?

Yuichiro Miura, 80, before ascending Mt. Everest for the third time

..It is actually common to feel younger than we are. A 2018 study with 33,751 respondents showed that once people pass the pivotal age of 25, they typically rate their subjective age as younger than their chronological age. And this discrepancy grows as we get older – for every decade that passes, people tend to feel that have only gained five or six years. This is the equivalent to living Martian years as opposed to Earth years. 

It turns out that this phenomenon may have rather important implications. A recent surge in research in this area has revealed that the extent to which people feel younger than they are is strongly associated with a whole range of health outcomes. People with a younger subjective age are less likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, depression, cognitive impairment and dementia. These people also tend to report better sleep, better memory function and more fulfilling sex lives.

People with a younger subjective age also view their future selves in a more positive light and are more likely to walk faster. One group of researchers even found that people with a lower subjective age have a younger looking brain. Brain scans showed that they had more grey matter overall, with particular resilience in areas called the prefrontal cortex (involved in planning and complex cognitive behaviour) and superior temporal gyrus (responsible for processing sounds and emotions).

Something I’ve experienced, recognized for most of my adult life. Turns out this doesn’t surprise scientists studying folks’ aging…after all.

The first evidence of “cosmological coupling”

Researchers have uncovered the first evidence of “cosmological coupling” — a newly predicted phenomenon in Einstein’s theory of gravity, possible only when black holes are placed inside an evolving universe.

The researchers studied supermassive black holes at the heart of ancient and dormant galaxies to develop a description of them that agrees with observations from the past decade.

Their findings are published in two articles, one in The Astrophysical Journal and the other in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The first study found that these black holes gain mass over billions of years in a way that can’t easily be explained by standard galaxy and black hole processes, such as mergers or accretion of gas.

According to the second paper, the growth in mass of these black holes matches predictions for black holes that not only cosmologically couple, but also enclose vacuum energy—material that results from squeezing matter as much as possible without breaking Einstein’s equations, thus avoiding a singularity.

With singularities removed, the paper then shows that the combined vacuum energy of black holes produced in the deaths of the universe’s first stars agrees with the measured quantity of dark energy in our universe.

Wish I had sufficient lifespan available to start all over again. Studies, acquiring knowledge enough to join the scientific circles key to this sort of research. Fascinating stuff!

American Knowledge of Everyday Uses of Artificial Intelligence

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that many Americans are aware of common ways they might encounter artificial intelligence (AI) in daily life, such as customer service chatbots and product recommendations based on previous purchases. At the same time, only three-in-ten U.S. adults are able to correctly identify all six uses of AI asked about in the survey, underscoring the developing nature of public understanding…

Awareness of common uses of artificial intelligence is a first step toward broader public engagement with debates about the appropriate role – and boundaries – for AI. Experts have raised a host of moral, ethical and legal questions about the expanding capabilities of AI. And the ethical and responsible use of AI is a growing focus of research within the field.

The Pew Research Center survey…finds that 27% of Americans say they interact with AI at least several times a day, while another 28% think they interact with it about once a day or several times a week. On this self-reported measure, 44% think they do not regularly interact with AI…

Partisan affiliation is not a major factor when it comes to awareness of AI: There are no meaningful differences between Republicans and Democrats on the AI awareness scale.

Everything else in the article points out differences between one or another citizenship quality! 🙂

U.S. military’s newest weapon: Hot air

The Pentagon is working on a new plan to rise above competition from China and Russia: balloons…The high-altitude inflatables, flying at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, would be added to the Pentagon’s extensive surveillance network and could eventually be used to track hypersonic weapons.

The idea may sound like science fiction, but Pentagon budget documents signal the technology is moving from DoD’s scientific community to the military services…

For years, DoD has conducted tests using high-altitude balloons and solar-powered drones to collect data, provide ground forces with communication and mitigate satellite problems. The Pentagon is quietly transitioning the balloon projects to the military services to collect data and transmit information to aircraft…

Of course, you have to chuckle over what’s released to the public at large and whatever our Pentagon heroes decide to keep secret on their own. Public rights and reasons mean nothing to brass hats.

Potential ‘Technosignatures’ Hidden in Radio Signals From Space

Searching the skies for UFOs or homesick aliens is practically an American pastime, and no one does it better than the SETI Institute (SETI meaning Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

Established in 1984, SETI has made it their mission to scan the skies for radio signals comprised of non-Earth based “technosignatures” that may belong to alien tech. Such signals—which may indicate communications technology in use, and thus intelligence—are sought after by scientists looking for signs of alien life. So far, this decades-long search has yet to turn up any convincing leads, but a new paper published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy is hoping to change that by using machine learning to tackle the problem…

Peter Ma is first author on the paper and an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. He told Motherboard in an email that while AI has been applied to SETI’s radio data in the past, this new approach takes the search completely out of human hands.

“Previously people have inserted ML [machine learning] components into various pipelines to help with the search,” Ma said. “This work relies entirely on just the neural network without any traditional algorithms supporting it and produced results that traditional algorithms did not pick up.”

Our knowledge grows. Methods improve. Understanding information gathered is the next task.