' ); } }) .catch(function(err) { (console.error || console.log)(err); }); }());

A.I. is ready to advise us on how to best protect Earth from deadly asteroids

When people talk about using artificial intelligence to solve humanity’s biggest problems, there are few problems bigger than our planet’s survival. That is something a new algorithm called “Deflector Selector” is designed to aid with — by weighing up different possible solutions to deal with the possibility of a deadly asteroid heading in Earth’s direction.

“Our goal was to build a tool that would help us make funding and research decisions for asteroid deflection technologies,” Erika Nesvold, formerly at Carnegie Institution for Science at Washington, D.C, told Digital Trends. “A lot of different technologies have been suggested for deflecting an asteroid on a collision course with the Earth, including the three we describe in our paper: Nuclear explosives, kinetic impactors, and gravity tractors. But none of these technologies has been fully developed and tested in space, and some of them will work better than others.”

Nesvold and team started out by simulating attempted deflections of an asteroid on a collision course with the Earth and calculating the likely success of each method of deflection. As you would expect, this involved some heavy-duty math and computer processing power — since it meant simulating the potential distance of detection for more than 6 million hypothetical objects and the velocity change that would be necessary to change their course. To speed up the process, the team used machine-learning techniques.

“We used this data to train a machine-learning algorithm that could make this determination much faster than our simulations,” Nesvold explained. “So now we can feed in the characteristics of a population of impactors, and the algorithm can tell us which technology or technologies would work best.”

The results? That nuclear weapons can help dispatch around half of the potential objects, while kinetic impactors and gravity tractors score lower. Granted, a 50 percent chance of survival for humanity isn’t great — but the idea is that tools such as this can help decide which technologies we should be focusing our finite research budgets on.

“We’re hoping that the next steps will be to work with other experts in the asteroid deflection field to improve the Deflector Selector model to get more accurate results,” Nesvold said.

You can read a paper on the Deflector Selector project here.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Mobile

LG G7 owners experiencing dreaded bootloop will have to wait a few days for fix

If you’ve picked up LG’s flagship and it’s not behaving itself, then you might find a solution here. We’ve rounded up the most common LG G7 ThinQ problems and tracked down workarounds and possible fixes.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Photography

Photography News: Startup redesigns tripod heads ‘inside out’ for more flexibility

Well, this doesn't look like the ball heads that we've seen before. Instead of designing a tripod ball head with a small cutout, the Colorado Tripod Company created one with most of the ball exposed, allowing for more possible angles.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.