When you crack your knuckles, you’re creating bubbles

Cracking knuckles. Credit: wikihow

The next time you crack your knuckle, know that you’re actually creating little gas-filled bubbles in the fluid that lubricates your knuckle’s joints. The cavities appear because the bones at the joints separate rapidly, creating a low-pressure volume that’s filled by gas ‘pumped’ out of the higher-pressure fluid. This is what Greg Kawchuk, a professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, and his colleagues discovered, by observing a participant crack knuckles under the gaze of an MRI scanner. Their findings are reported in a paper in PLOS ONE, published April 15. He attributed… Read More

The Planetary Society says humans orbiting Mars is important before they land on it

Mars. Credit: NASA

A notional timeline for the 2033 mission was presented also, with crewed test-flights in cislunar orbits being planned for 2025 and 2027. The launch window provides a suitable focus year because NASA hopes to have tested the necessary spaceflight technologies and experience through its ARM in the 2020s.

From Orwell to Kafka, Markov to Doctorow: Understanding Big Data through metaphors

Big Data... right? Credit: DARPA

On March 20, I attended a short talk by Malavika Jayaram, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, titled ‘What we talk about when we talk about Big Data’ at the T.A.J. Residency in Bengaluru. It was something of an initiation into the social and political contexts of Big Data and its usage, and the important ethical conundrums assailing these contexts. Even if it was a little slow during the first 15 minutes, Jayaram’s talk progressed rapidly later on as she quickly piled criticism after criticism upon the concept’s foundation, which was quickly being revealed to be immature. Perhaps… Read More

A future for driverless cars, from a limbo between trolley problems and autopilots

One of Google's driverless cars. Credit: google.com

By Anuj  Srivas and Vasudevan Mukunth What’s the deal with everyone getting worried about artificial intelligence? It’s all the Silicon Valley elite seem willing to be apprehensive about, and Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom seems to be the patron saint along with his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014). Even if Big Data seems like it could catalyze things, they could be overestimating AI’s advent. But thanks to Google’s espied breed of driverless cars, conversations on regulation are already afoot. This is the sort of subject that could benefit from its tech being better… Read More

The Large Hadron Collider is back online, ready to shift from the “what” of reality to “why”

View of the LHC. Image: CERN

The world’s single largest science experiment will restart on March 23 after a two-year break. Scientists and administrators at the European Organization for Nuclear Research – known by its French acronym CERN – have announced the status of the agency’s upgrades on its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its readiness for a new phase of experiments running from now until 2018. Before the experiment was shut down in late 2013, the LHC became famous for helping discover the elusive Higgs boson, a fundamental (that is, indivisible) particle that gives other fundamental particles their mass through a complicated mechanism…. Read More