Thursday, February 29

Science

A robot dog has learned to open doors with its leg
Science

A robot dog has learned to open doors with its leg

A machine-learning model worked out how to keep this robot stable on three legs while it uses one leg to open doorsPhilip Arm, Mayank Mittal, Hendrik Kolvenbach, and Marco Hutter/Robotic Systems Lab A robot dog can use a leg to open doors, press buttons and pick up rucksacks while balancing on its other three legs. Four-legged robots like Spot, the star of Boston Dynamics’ viral videos, normally need an arm attached to their body to open doors or pick up objects, but this can add significant weight and make it harder for the robot to squeeze through narrow spaces. Philip Arm at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and his colleagues used a machine-learning model to teach an off-the-shelf robotic dog to use one of its legs to perform tasks while standing still or moving with...
Students Raise Their Voices for a Just Energy Transition – State of the Planet
Science

Students Raise Their Voices for a Just Energy Transition – State of the Planet

Last summer, Ariane Desrosiers and Vincent (Wing Shun) Tang, students in Columbia University’s M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy Program (MPA-ESP) at the School of International and Public Affairs, participated in the 2023 Youth Voice Competition for Just Energy Transition. The event, co-sponsored by the International Society for Energy Transition Studies (ISETS) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), aims to bring young problem-solvers from around the world together to form innovative solutions for climate change. Ariane Desrosiers and Vincent (Wing Shun) Tang with Nobuo Tanaka, the former executive director of the International Energy Agency. Under the name “Team Power Parity Pioneers,” Desrosiers and Tang’s proposal wo...
Bitcoin halving: When is it and what does it actually mean?
Science

Bitcoin halving: When is it and what does it actually mean?

The price of bitcoin appears to be getting less volatilePedrosek/Shutterstock What is the bitcoin halving? Bitcoin is a digital currency that operates free from central control: rather than an authority like a bank or a government keeping track of who owns what, bitcoin relies on cryptography. So-called miners collect information about transactions and log them in a ledger called a blockchain. These miners use computers to perform vast numbers of calculations with the aim of completing a cryptographic problem, consuming about 0.7 per cent of electricity globally in the process. The first miner to solve this problem adds their collection of transaction data – a block – to the blockchain. They are also rewarded with a set amount of newly created bitcoin, a figure t...
The existence of a new kind of magnetism has been confirmed
Science

The existence of a new kind of magnetism has been confirmed

Altermagnetism works differently from standard magnetismLibor Šmejkal and Anna Birk Hellenes A new kind of magnetism has been measured for the first time. Altermagnets, which contain a blend of properties from different classes of existing magnets, could be used to make high capacity and fast memory devices or new kinds of magnetic computers. Until the 20th century, there was thought to be only one kind of permanent magnet, a ferromagnet, the effects of which can be seen in objects with relatively strong external magnetic fields like fridge magnets or compass needles. These fields are caused by the magnetic spins of the magnets’ electrons lining up in one direction. But, in the 1930s, French physicist Louis Néel discovered another kind of magnetism, called antife...
Tree-Ring Researcher Rose Oelkers – State of the Planet
Science

Tree-Ring Researcher Rose Oelkers – State of the Planet

Rose Oelkers, a Ph.D. candidate at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, has spent the last several years studying tropical tree species in Bolivia and Peru to understand how they grow and respond to changes in the environment. She credits her interest in tree-ring science to one dedicated professor, Nicole Davi, who introduced her to the discipline when she was an undergraduate initially pursuing ecology. In the Q&A below, Oelkers reflects on the female researchers who encouraged her to pursue her career, and on the need for increased visibility of women scientists and their research. What got you interested in science, and tree rings, specifically? My interest in dendrochronology stems from my undergraduate studies. I was always passionate abou...