Science

Infinite in All Directions – June 6, 2016

Infinite in All Directions is The Wire‘s weekly science newsletter. Subscribe here for your weekly science news and analysis roundup every Monday morning.

Sir Roger Penrose. Credit: privet/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Sir Roger Penrose. Credit: privet/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Spotlight: Scott Aaronson and Roger Penrose had a courteous debate about whether computers could become conscious. Penrose’s arguments were mostly derived from his books. Against that, Aaronson held: “The Church-Turing Thesis … is so versatile that the only genuine escape from it is to propose entirely new laws of physics.” The implication is that if we can get a computer powerful enough to simulate the interactions of billions of atoms, and the precise initial conditions, then that computer can be made to simulate the brain. Read more

Harambe’s death was tragic; many of us were moved to tears. But there’s also an important aftermath: his dying has left his “troop” of females at the Cincinnati Zoo in a complicated situation. Read more

Theoretical physicists have posited the existence of a Particle X to explain why the universe doesn’t have as much lithium-7 as our theories predict. Some think the hypothesis is just an easy way out. Read more

The current startup incubation ecosystem in India is biased toward IT companies while academic startups in other fields, rearing to go, could use some help getting off the ground. Read more

Why don’t science journals use the blockchain paradigm of recording transactions to authenticate publishers and track downloads? Read more

Let’s not mince words: it’s a horrible time to be a tiger. And the discovery of 40 dead tiger cubs at a ‘temple’ in Thailand highlights the magnitude of reform necessary to make Earth safe for these cats again. Read more

Optical metamaterials can already do freaky things – like enable specially engineered prisms to bend light the other way. It’s time for acoustic metamaterials to enter the fray. Read more

Since we’re becoming more aware of the human impact on climate change, it’s time we paid attention to how our actions might have influenced history through climatic forces. Read more

A visit to a secluded and well-protected centre reveals how the approach to the rescue and rehabilitation of leopards has evolved considerably since efforts first began around 2000. Read more

The people of the European Union will have free access to all science papers from 2020. The landmark decision was made by the union’s ministers of science, innovation, trade and industry. Read more

Both India and China have access to millennia-old medical philosophies rooted firmly in their traditions. Yet, their modern approach to public health couldn’t be more divergent. Read more

A minimum-wage worker in Poland will have to work eight years to afford a 12-week course of a new hepatitis C treatment. Of what use is modern medicine if it’s going to be this unaffordable? Read more

In order to see if neuroscience was evolving in the right direction, two scientists deployed its tools to try to understand a simple microchip. They failed miserably. Read more

It’s worth paying attention to a study assessing the risk of getting cancer from cellphone radiation. Why? Because before you dismiss the thesis as outlandish, a proper study has to have been conducted. Read more

In the pursuit of elaborate finishes, we often forego a string of low profile match-winners. Mindful of this wisdom, Nigerians have started to dominate world Scrabble championships. Read more

It’s almost common knowledge now that rising temperatures around the world will spark more frequent conflicts. If so, wouldn’t rising temperatures take a knife to our productivity as well? Read more

That’s it for this week. Sign up here to receive this newsletter every Monday morning in your inbox. Please send your comments and tips to mukunth@thewire.in. Have a great day!