Tech

Offshore wind farms will change life in the sea

Fresh from the wind farm IN THE North Sea, wind power is booming. At the moment the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, with a capacity of 630MW, sits in the Thames Estuary. But the London Array, as this farm is known, will not hold the record for long. Another farm, over twice the size, is under construction off the coast ...

Read More »

One of the world’s oldest products faces the digital future

AFTER 4,000 years of development, you might assume that just about everything there is to be known about glassmaking has already been found out. Not so. Though the basic recipe of sand, soda and lime remains the industry’s core, first alchemists and then chemists have tinkered with the ingredients over the centuries to produce specialised products. For clarity and sparkle ...

Read More »

What eyes and odours reveal about sexual attraction

The eyes have it DO MEN, in essence, marry their mothers, and women their fathers? And do they also choose mates by smell in a way that is likely to result in healthy offspring? These are both old hypotheses and both have been tested by studies published this week. Only one of them, however, seems to hold up. Janek Lobmaier ...

Read More »

Traces of old hurricanes show how hard climate science is

Incoming! THAT hurricanes are likely to become more powerful as the climate warms is not a matter much debated among researchers. A warmer climate will increase sea-surface temperatures relative to those of the adjacent atmosphere in some regions, leading to more evaporation, more clouds and stronger storms. You might expect this to be reflected in the geological record. But a ...

Read More »

A better way to search through scientific papers

ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) is not just for playing games. It also has important practical uses. One such is in Semantic Scholar, a system developed by researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in Seattle, for the purpose of ferreting out the scientific papers most relevant to a particular problem. This week Marie Hagman, the project’s leader, and her colleagues ...

Read More »

The latest AI can work things out without being taught

IN 2016 Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best players of Go, lost a match in Seoul to a computer program called AlphaGo by four games to one. It was a big event, both in the history of Go and in the history of artificial intelligence (AI). Go occupies roughly the same place in the culture of China, Korea and ...

Read More »

Gravitational-wave astronomy starts in earnest

THE timing was impeccable, to the point where one might wonder if it had been stage-managed. Less than two weeks after Sweden’s Royal Academy of Science announced that it was awarding this year’s Nobel physics prize “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”, that detector has come up with its most interesting finding yet. ...

Read More »

Ophelia’s strange path

IRELAND is not renowned for its great weather. It takes a lot of rain to create those forty shades of green. But it is not the kind of place you would expect to be affected by a hurricane. That, though, is what is happening today, as former Hurricane Ophelia batters the island, causing all schools to close and, so far, ...

Read More »