Robots That Have Feelings; Why Babies Can Be Such Babies

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Discovered: An artificial skin that could make robots feel, babies are not as rational as we thought, good news for nerds: smart people finish first, and a molecule for weight loss. 

  • This artificial skin could make robots feel things. Not, like, full on Bicentennial Man emotional things, but, sensory things, which still sounds pretty futuristic to us. Based on findings that a certain type of gel reacted to CPR, researchers think the substance could serve as a sort of pressure sensor. "Think of it like human skin, which can provide signals to the brain that something on the body is deformed or hurt," explains researcher Anna Balazs. "This gel has numerous far-reaching applications, such as artificial skin that could be sensory -- a holy grail in robotics." We're not quite there yet, but this is a first step. [University of Pittsburgh]
  • Babies are less rational than previously thought. Babies had a genius moment, after a study thought it proved early signed of rational thinking based on the way 14-month-old children imitated adults. But a new study has now revoked that status. The original study found that when given the chose, infants would rather imitate something normal, like wrapping a blanket around ones body, than something abnormal, like hitting a head against a lamp, which proved the little-ones understood the rationality of these actions. But, science has thrown a wrench in that theory. "The eye-catching sight of the person wrapped in a blanket may have distracted infants from the action they were observing," explains researcher Miriam Beisert, which makes it sound like babiers are just about as smart as we thought. [Max-Planck-Gesellschaft]
  • Smart people finish first. Here's something encouraging for nerds: IQ matters more than socioeconomic background. Intelligence acts as a better predictor of economic success, when compared to socio-economic background. Just because someone comes from a wealthy background, and knows the right people, it does not mean they will become the president of the United States, or anything. "Your family can help you launch your career and you do get an advantage, but it doesn't help you progress. And once you start working, you can go wherever your abilities take you," explains researcher Yoav Ganzach. Dream big, nerds.  [Intelligence]
  • A molecule for weight loss. It's a bit of a stretch, but science has put together a compound that alters circadian rhythms and somehow that might lead to lower body fat. "The idea behind this research is that our circadian rhythms are coupled with metabolic processes and that you can modulate them pharmacologically," explains researcher Thomas Burris. Like we said, a stretch. But so far it's working. "As it turns out, the effect of that modulation is surprisingly positive -- everything has been beneficial so far," he explains. Hey, we'll try anything twice. [Scripps Research Institute]

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