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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Dense Inner-Cities Give Self-Driving Cars a Reality Check

Experts say it could be decades before autonomous cars are ready for cities. 

What's the Latest?


Google has abandoned the idea of giving humans partial control over autonomous vehicles, removing the steering wheel and brake pedal from current designs. This leave practically no room for machine error, meaning Google has given itself a very difficult task. (The company reasoned that humans couldn't be trusted to keep their attention on road conditions, especially since self-driving cars encourage drivers to take their attention away from driving in the first place). And while Google impressed many engineers with the progress made on its autonomous car, driving conditions in the city pose daunting challenges not present on the open roads where Google's cars are currently tested.

What's the Big Idea?

Lone highways in the southwest US do not change very often (where Google's cars have been tested). Driving them is predictable, but city streets are not. Chris Urmson, director of Google's project, said: "Obviously, the world doesn’t stay the same. You need to be able to deal with things like temporary construction, and so we’ve been putting a lot of effort into understanding the semantic meaning of the world." While humans use social context to differentiate between similar physical events--is the person waving their arm in the street a traffic cop or a trouble maker?--computers have a harder time at it. Experts say it could be decades before autonomous cars are ready for cities. 

Read more at Technology Review

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the number of white blood cells in the body, making it easier to fight infection and illness.

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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