New AI algorithm helps find 8 radio signals from space
A new artificial intelligence algorithm created by a Toronto student is helping researchers search the stars for signs of life.
Peter Xiangyuan Ma, a University of Toronto undergraduate student and researcher, said he started working on the algorithm while he was in Grade 12 during the pandemic.
“I was just looking for projects and I was interested in astronomy,” he told CTV News Toronto.
The idea was to help distinguish between technological radio signals created by human technologies and signals that were potentially coming from other forms of life in space.
“What we’re looking for is signs of technology that signifies if the sender is intelligent or not. And so unsurprised to us, we keep on finding ourselves,” Ma explained. “We don’t want to be looking at our own noisy signals.”
Using this algorithm, Ma said researchers were able to discover eight new radio signals being emitted from five different stars about 30 to 90 light years away from the Earth.
These signals, Ma said, would disappear when researchers looked away from it, which rules out, for the most part, interference from a signal originating from Earth. When they returned to the area, the signal was still there.
“We’re all very suspicious and scratching our heads,” he said. “We proved that we found things that we wanted to find … now, what do we do with all these? That’s another separate issue.”
Steve Croft, Project Scientist for Breakthrough Listen on the Green Bank Telescope, the institute whose open source data was the inspiration for Ma’s algorithm, said that finding radio signals in space is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
“You’ve got to recognize the haystack itself and make sure that you don’t throw the needle away as you’re looking at the individual pieces of hay,” Croft, who collaborated on Ma’s research, told CTV News Toronto.
Croft said algorithms being used to discover these signals have to account for multiple characteristics, including the position they are coming from in the sky and whether or not the transmission changes over time, which could indicate if it’s coming from a rotating planet or star.
“The algorithm that Peter developed has enabled us to do this more efficiently,” he said.
The challenge, Croft says, is recognizing that false positives may exist despite a signal meeting this criteria. What could be signs of extraterrestrial life may also just be a “weirdly shaped bit of a haystack,” he added.
“And so that’s why we have to go back and look again and see if the signal still there. And with these particular examples that Peter found with his algorithm, the signal was not there when we pointed the telescope back again. And so we sort of can’t say one way or another, is this genuine?”
Researchers have been searching the sky for technologically-generated signals since the 1960s, searching thousands of stars and galaxies for signs of intelligent life. The process is called “SETI,” or “the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.”
But interference from our own radio signals has always proven to be a challenge. Croft says most pieces of technology have some kind of Bluetooth or wireless wave element that creates static, resulting in larger amounts of data needed to be collected.
“That’s a challenge but also computing provides the solution,” he said.
“So the computing and particularly the machine-learning algorithms gives us the power to search through this big haystack, looking for the needle of an interesting signal.”
Ma said that while we may not have found a “technosignal” just yet, we shouldn’t give up. The next step would be to employ multiple kinds of search algorithms to find more and more signals to study.
While the “dream” is to find evidence of life, Ma says he is more focused on the scientific efforts of actively looking for it.
This sentiment is echoed by Croft, who said he is most fascinating in working towards answering the question of whether humans are alone in this universe.
“I don’t show up to work every day, thinking I’m going to find aliens, but I do show up for work. So you know, I’ve got sort of some optimism.”
Ice Age Squirrel Found in Canada! » Expat Guide Turkey – Expat Guide Turkey
The remains of an Ice Age squirrel that was mummified to death during hibernation some 30,000 years ago have been found in Canada.
The 30,000-year-old animal found in the Klondike goldfields in 2018 will soon be on display in Whitehorse, Northern Canada.
Yukon paleontologists this week unveiled another unusual find from the gold fields near Dawson City: an Arctic squirrel that curled up and mummified as if it died during hibernation during the Ice Age.
A Squirrel Mummy Found by Yukon Paleontologists at the Gold Field near Dawson City
The Ice Age squirrel was actually found a few years ago, but its announcement is now being made as the government is preparing the dead rodent for display at the Yukon in Whitehorse.
At first glance, this mummified animal looks like nothing more than a dried up pile of brown fur and skin.
Intact Bone Structure Detected Inside the Remains
Yukon government paleontologist Grant Zazula says, “It’s hardly recognizable until you see the tiny hands and claws, a little tail, and then the ears.” says.
“I’m always examining bones and these are very exciting. But when you see a perfectly preserved animal, especially if it’s 30,000 years old and you can see its face, its skin, its fur, it’s really special.”
Apr 1: Tyrannosaur lips, bald eagles dine on beef, saving the orbital environment and more… – CBC.ca
Quirks and Quarks54:02Tyrannosaur lips, bald eagles dine on beef, saving the orbital environment, how your fingerprints are built and how humans run on electricity
On this week’s episode of Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald:
Tyrannosaurus rex had lips covering its terrifying teeth
Quirks and Quarks8:33Tyrannosaurus rex had lips covering its terrifying teeth
Many depictions of the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex show the dinosaur’s huge teeth as constantly exposed in a crocodilian smile. But a new study published in the journal Science concludes that theropod dinosaurs like the T. rex likely had scaly, lizard-like lips that covered their teeth completely when the dinosaur’s mouth was closed. Canadian paleontologist Dr. Thomas Cullen, a professor at Auburn University, and his co-authors analyzed wear patterns on tooth enamel of the dinosaurs, as well as jaw sizes, and compared them to modern-day animals. He said the T. rex mouth would have likely been most similar to that of a Komodo dragon.
Eagles are eating cows instead of salmon – and farmers are happy
Quirks and Quarks7:59Eagles are eating cows instead of salmon – and farmers are happy
In the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., bald eagles, which have historically fed on the carcasses of spawning chum salmon, have run short of their traditional food due to climate change and other factors. But a new study in the journal Ecosphere by Ethan Duvall, a PhD student in ecology at Cornell University, indicates the eagles have moved inland and are now scavenging cattle who have died on dairy farms. Farmers, it turns out, are happy with this, as it solves a troubling disposal problem, and because the eagles also displace rodents and other birds that do harm to the farms.
Inspired by the High Seas treaty, scientists are calling for the protection of space
Quirks and Quarks7:47Inspired by the High Seas treaty, scientists are calling for the protection of space
In early March, nearly 200 United Nations member countries agreed to the first-ever treaty to protect the world’s oceans. Imogen Napper, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth in England, and a group of colleagues are calling for a similar legally binding treaty to protect the Earth’s orbit from exploitation by the ever-growing global space industry. Their concerns were put forward in a letter in the journal Science.
Arches, loops and whorls — how your unique fingerprints are made
Quirks and Quarks7:40Arches, loops and whorls — how your unique fingerprints are made
There are eight billion people in the world, each with a unique pattern of ridges on our fingertips. Now, scientists have discovered that the process by which these intricate and complex patterns arise is similar to how animals get their spots or stripes. Duelling genetic and chemical signals during fetal development give rise to changes in the ridges and spaces between them that cover our fingertips. Denis Headon, a geneticist from the University of Edinburgh, traced how this interplay results in the complex whorls, loops and arches that make up our fingerprints. His research was published in the journal Cell.
Humans are fueled by food — but we run on electricity
Quirks and Quarks19:31Humans are fueled by food — but we run on electricity
Every living cell works as a battery, with the ability to respond to and send out electrical signals. Science and technology journalist, Sally Adee, became fascinated with this realization after participating in an experiment in which a gentle electrical current, delivered to her brain, gave her the abilities of an expert sharpshooter. Bob McDonald speaks with her about her new book, We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body’s Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds. In it, she explores how much our biology — from our bodies’ ability to heal to the higher order processes of human thought — works through electricity.
Meet the Canadian astronauts up for a seat on the Artemis II mission to the moon
This Sunday, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will announce the four astronauts that will be blasting off to fly around the moon for the Artemis II mission, one of whom will be a Canadian astronaut.
The Artemis II mission will be the first crewed mission to orbit the moon in half a century, and the inclusion of a Canadian astronaut on the mission will make Canada the second country to have an astronaut fly around the moon.
In November 2024, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will launch the four astronauts into space for the Artemis II mission. They will pilot the Orion spacecraft around the Earth and then around the moon before returning home.
It’s the second step of a project that started last year with the unmanned Artemis I mission. The Artemis missions help to test the launch system and the spacecraft itself. The end goal is for scientists to construct a Lunar Gateway at the moon — a space station that could serve as a jumping off point for further deep space exploration.
A trailer for the crew announcement was posted by NASA on Wednesday.
There are currently four active Canadian astronauts, but we won’t know until Sunday who will be the first Canadian astronaut to fly around the moon.
Kutryk was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and grew up on a cattle farm in eastern Alberta. He is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and has been deployed in Libya and Afghanistan in the past.
He worked as an experimental test pilot and fighter pilot in Cold Lake, Alberta before he was recruited by the CSA. He worked on numerous test flight projects as well as on improving the safety of fighter jets such as the CF-18.
Kutryk made it to the top 16 candidates for the CSA in 2009, but wasn’t selected until CSA’s 2017 recruitment campaign.
He obtained the official title of astronaut in January 2020.
Sidey-Gibbons comes from Calgary, Alberta, and first worked with the CSA while studying mechanical engineering at McGill University, where she conducted research on flame propagation in microgravity in collaboration with the agency.
Before joining CSA, she lived and worked in the U.K. as an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Her research there focused on how to develop low-emission combusted for gas turbine engines.
She was selected by the CSA in 2017 as a recruit along with Kutryk, and obtained the official title of astronaut in January 2020.
Hansen was born in London, Ontario and spent his childhood first on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario, and then Ingersoll, Ontario. He is married with three children.
By age 17, he had already obtained glider and private pilot licences through the Air Cadet Program. He is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and served as a CF-18 fighter pilot before becoming an astronaut.
Hansen graduated as an astronaut in 2011, after being selected as one of two recruits for the CSA in 2009. He currently represents the CSA at NASA and works at the Mission Control Center, serving as the point of connection between the ground and the International Space Station (ISS). He also helps to train astronauts at NASA, the first Canadian to do so.
Saint-Jacques grew up in Saint-Lambert, Quebec, near Montreal, and is married with three children.
Before joining the CSA, he worked as a medical doctor in Puvirnituq, Nunavik, an Inuit community in northern Quebec. He also works as an adjunct professor of family medicine at McGill University. As a biomedical engineer, he has worked in France and Hungary, and helped to develop optics systems for telescopes and arrays used at observatories in Japan, Hawaii and the Canary Islands.
He was selected as a recruit in 2009 by the CSA and graduated in 2011 from the NASA astronaut program. He has since worked with the Robotics Branch of the NASA Astronaut Office, as a support astronaut for various ISS missions and as the mission control radio operator for a number of resupply missions for the ISS.
In December 2018, Saint-Jacques flew to the ISS to complete a 204-day mission, which is the longest mission any Canadian astronaut has carried out in space to date. During this time, he became the fourth CSA astronaut to conduct a spacewalk and the first CSA astronaut to catch a visiting spacecraft using the Canadarm2.
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