Introducing Australopithecus Deyiremeda, Your Ancient and Distant Cousin
The discovery of a new hominid species, a contemporary of the famous "Lucy," expands our understanding of human origins and the middle Pliocene period.
If "Australopithecus deyiremeda" had popped up during this week's Scripps National Spelling Bee, who knows if Vanya and Gokul would have walked out of that room with a first place share. Luckily for them, it didn't, probably because 1) Scripps has no love for Linnaean taxonomy, and 2) hardly anyone had heard of it prior to a major announcement this week.
Australopithecus deyiremeda is a new human ancestor species, although actually it's not new at all. It's old. Way old: 3.3 to 3.5 million years old. The only thing new about it is our knowledge that it ever existed. Credit for the discovery goes to a curator at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History:
"An international team of scientists, led by Curator of Physical Anthropology Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, has discovered a 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old new human ancestor species. Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia have been assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. This hominin lived alongside the famous “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis. The species will be described in the May 28, 2015 issue of the international scientific journal Nature."
Dr. Haile-Selassie explains that there are two reasons why this discovery is so important. First, it's proof that "Lucy" did not walk alone. There was at least one other contemporary species at the same time in the same place. Second, it reveals that there was diversity among early hominid species. Third, that certain traits we associate with later hominids actually developed earlier in the evolutionary cycle.
While there's likely a lot more to learn about this "new" species, the evidence uncovered by Dr. Haile-Selassie's team is enough to shake up our known understanding of human origins. I've included some additional resources below if you'd like to learn more. And for all you spellers out there, remember that the "y" comes before the "i" in Australopithecus deyiremeda.
Preview the article in Nature.
Read more at CMNH.
Photo: Fossilized teeth, credit: Dr. Haile-Selassie
Below, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson describes "Lucy," the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton he discovered in 1974:
Why self-control makes your life better, and how to get more of it.
(Photo by Geem Drake/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
- Research demonstrates that people with higher levels of self-control are happier over both the short and long run.
- Higher levels of self-control are correlated with educational, occupational, and social success.
- It was found that the people with the greatest levels of self-control avoid temptation rather than resist it at every turn.
Ready your Schrödinger's Cat Jokes.
- For a time, quantum computing was more theory than fact.
- That's starting to change.
- New quantum computer designs look like they might be scalable.
Quantum computing has existed in theory since the 1980's. It's slowly making its way into fact, the latest of which can be seen in a paper published in Nature called, "Deterministic teleportation of a quantum gate between two logical qubits."
To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'
A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.
A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.
That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.
The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'
That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.
Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.
The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.
They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."
In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.
These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.
- A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
- This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
- Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
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