Artificial intelligence discovers dozens of mysterious cosmic signals

One of astronomy’s controversial mysteries is now being investigated by artificial intelligence.

A team of researchers at Breakthrough Listen, a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project spearheaded by the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a machine learning algorithm to sift through cosmic data and identify fast radio bursts, strange and energetic pulses thought to emanate from far-off galaxies. No one knows for sure what causes these radio emissions but theories abound — from highly magnetized neutron stars battling black holes to signs of alien life.

In a recent study, the SETI researchers used a customized A.I. system to discover dozens of previously unidentified fast radio bursts from a source some 3 billion light-years away. The fast radio bursts were picked out from a data set that had already been analyzed by astronomers.

“Artificial Intelligence has seen very rapid development in recent years and its application in medicine, security, finance, and everyday object recognition have already reached certain level of maturity,” Gerry Zhang, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student who helped develop the new machine-learning algorithm, told Digital Trends. “Astronomy represents a relatively unexplored area for A.I. The very large volume of data that astronomers collect present a challenging playground for state-of-the-art A.I. Radio astronomical data themselves presents challenges of large scale and high noise. Learning to apply A.I. to such new data is challenging and fruitful.”

To make the discovery, Zhang and his team used a convolutional neural network, a type of algorithm modeled off the human brain, which has been used to find craters on the moon and help detect earthquakes.

In their recent study, the researchers trained their algorithm on simulated signals, teaching it to recognize signs of fast radio bursts, and then “let the trained network loose on the data containing the real signals,” Zhang said. The result was the discovery of 72 signals that astronomers had previously missed.

The new findings help chip away at the current cosmic mystery of where the fast radio bursts come from. Is it aliens? Probably not. But it could be. Either way, it’s a mystery worth getting to the bottom of. What astronomers need now is more data and better systems to analyze the information.

“Fast radio bursts are one of the most recently discovered unknown signals in astronomy,” Zhang said. “With new instruments being designed for them coming online, [they are] well-poised to be one of the unknowns that will be solved within the next five to 10 years.”

A paper on the research was recently accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Computing

Crypto hangover could take blame for Nvidia’s potential GeForce RTX 2060 delay

Nvidia's delay in announcing a ship date for its GeForce RTX 2060 GPU could be due to a burst in the cryptocurrency mining bubble. Executives blamed the crypto hangover for an oversupply of inventory on existing GTX 1060 cards,
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Mobile

Google rolls out Night Sight to Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera app

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX makes rocketry look easy, sticks yet another Falcon 9 landing

SpaceX is due to perform its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing on November 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Here's how you can watch the proceedings live.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.
Photography

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.