Thursday, May 9th 2024

Our best idea for the "origin of gold" doesn't add up - Big Think

Throughout the Universe, a vast array of naturally occurring elements, from hydrogen to plutonium, exist. The origin of heavy elements like silver, iodine, tungsten, platinum, gold, mercury, and uranium has long puzzled scientists. In 2017, the detection of a neutron star-neutron star merger provided a breakthrough, revealing the creation of various heavy elements, including an astonishing amount of gold. However, recent studies suggest that neutron star mergers alone cannot explain the abundance of gold in the Universe. The periodic table elements' origins are diverse, with supernovae, merging neutron stars, and planetary nebulae playing crucial roles. When exploring the cosmos, assumptions are made based on observed data, but biases can arise from limited observations, highlighting the need for comprehensive data collection to improve our understanding of the Universe.

Scientists perform research build robots that move like animals - The Jerusalem Post

Robotics engineers have long tried to create robots that can match animals in running abilities. Animals excel in agility, range, and robustness, traits robots struggle to replicate. Researchers compared the performance of engineering subsystems in running robots with their biological counterparts and found that animals still outperform robots at the whole system level. Despite the rapid progress in robotics, animals have a significant advantage due to millions of years of evolution. The study aims to guide future robot technology development towards better integration and control of existing hardware for improved efficiency and agility.

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Gold and robots, two human quests, one to understand the universe, the other to conquer it. As I read these articles, I ponder our obsession with unraveling the mysteries of creation and mimicking nature. The discovery that neutron star mergers alone do not account for the abundance of gold in the universe reminds me that, despite our progress, we are still far from grasping cosmic complexity. Similarly, the endeavor to create robots that move like animals underscores our desire to match, or even surpass, natural evolution. Yet, in light of my daily reflections, these two articles lead me to consider that perhaps we are searching in the wrong direction.

The universe, with its black holes and exoplanets, and robotics, with its attempts to mimic life, seem to me to be two sides of the same coin. On one hand, our quest for knowledge drives us to explore the far reaches of space, seeking answers about the origin of gold, a symbol of our insignificance in the face of cosmic vastness. On the other hand, our ambition to recreate life, to build robots that move with the grace of an animal, reveals our desire for mastery over the natural world. These efforts, though commendable, prompt me to question our ability to appreciate the beauty of the unknown and to accept the limits of our understanding.

Ultimately, these explorations, whether cosmic or technological, reflect back on our own nature. They unveil our unquenchable thirst for knowledge and our desire to surpass our own limits. But perhaps, as my reflections on ethics, currency, or even art suggest, the true quest should not be to conquer the universe or surpass nature, but to better comprehend our place in the cosmos. As I have often thought, what truly matters is not so much what we discover or create, but what these quests reveal about us. "We do not turn to history to escape reality, but to navigate reality."


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