Introducing the Deep Space Food Challenge.
The way to an astronaut's heart<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU5Mjg4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTkwODAwOH0.5z68HGX5Zup_y_PZfTfTnlibo3B2jKha-gjAT6jF9-w/img.jpg?width=980" id="7a63a" width="520" height="402" data-rm-shortcode-id="c307e99d94fcbcfed262d9892f5b47ba" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
An image showing the different challenges a viable space-food system solution must overcome.
One tough space nut to crack<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c41aade9130810defde368911110aa46"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pVDnGdlIMmA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>To meet these challenges, NASA is crowdsourcing solutions through its <a href="https://www.deepspacefoodchallenge.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Deep Space Food Challenge</a>. In collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA is offering a $500,000 prize purse for solutions that add some flavor to extended spaceflight.</p><p>"NASA has knowledge and capabilities in this area, but we know that technologies and ideas exist outside of the agency," Douglas told <a href="https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2021/02/01/NASA-will-pay-500000-for-good-ideas-on-food-production-in-space/8681611859130/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">UPI in an interview</a>. "Raising awareness will help us reach people in a variety of disciplines that may hold the key to developing these new technologies."</p><p>The agency hopes the winning technologies will also bolster food production on Earth. If a system can offer tasty meals with minimal resources in space, the reasoning goes, then it may be modified for deployment to disaster areas and food-insecure regions, as well. The challenge is open to all U.S. citizens and closes on July 30, 2021. Information on the Canadian Space Agency's challenge is <a href="https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/sciences/food-production/deep-space-food-challenge.asp" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">available on its website</a>.</p><p>If food isn't your forte but you've got engineering chops, you can still help NASA solve the many other engineering and logistical problems facing the future of space exploration. Through the <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/solve/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NASA Solve</a> initiative, the agency is seeking ideas for breaking lunar ice, shrinking payload sizes, and developing new means of energy distribution. </p><p>And even if engineering isn't for you, you can still <a href="https://www.planetary.org/advocacy/call-congress" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">call your Congressional representative</a> to request they support NASA and <a href="https://www.planetary.org/advocacy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restore funding from budget cuts</a>. We can all play a small, yet important, role in the future of space exploration and the advancing of scientific knowledge.</p>
A recent study showed that monkeys can make logical choices when given an A or B scenario.
- For centuries, humans have wondered which cognitive abilities animals share with people.
- In a new study, researchers presented baboons with a "hidden-item" task designed to test their understanding of disjunctive syllogisms.
- The results showed that the baboons were not only successful in the task, but also displayed signs of confidence in their decision making.
Credit: Ferrigno et al.<p>The task was set up like this: A researcher and a baboon were separated by a cage. In front of the researcher was a wooden board, on top of which were four cylinders. The wooden board could be moved into the baboon's side of the cage, where the baboon could make a decision by pointing to a cylinder.</p><p>The researcher started by lifting all cylinders to reveal they're empty. She showed the monkey a grape. To prevent the baboon from seeing where the grape went, she'd place an occluder in front of two of the four cylinders, and then placed the grape in one of the two cylinders. The researcher then slid the occluder over to the remaining set of two cylinders and repeated this process.</p><p>So, one grape went into one of the two cylinders in the first set, another grape went into one of the two cylinders in the second set. For example: either cylinder 1 or 2 has a grape; either 3 or 4 has a grape.</p><p>The baboon was then presented with the board to make a decision. The baboon indicated its choice by pointing to one of the four cylinders. If the baboon guessed correctly, it got the treat. If it guessed incorrectly, the researcher revealed that the cylinder was empty. No matter the outcome, the researcher pulled away the wooden board for a few seconds, and then presented it again so the baboon could make a second choice.</p><p>Why set up the experiment like this? The baboons already seemed to have a solid grasp of the two-cup hidden-item task (given A or B, if not A, then B). But the four-cup task put their understanding of it to the test: If the baboons were indeed reasoning through a disjunctive syllogism, they would understand that there's a dependent relationship between each set of two cups.</p>
Ferrigno et al.<p>In other words, they would understand that if cup 3 was empty, they should stay within that same set and point to cup 4, <em>not </em>switch their focus to the next set by pointing to cup 1 or 2.</p><p>The baboons seemed to understand this logic, according to the study results.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Specifically, when subjects chose an empty location first, they were more likely to stay in the same baiting set and choose the other cylinder in the set (59% of trials, 271/463) than switch to the other set (41% of trials, 192/463)," the researchers wrote. "Conversely, when subjects chose a cylinder containing a grape for their first choice, they were more likely to switch to the other baiting set and choose either one of the two cylinders (66% of trials, 267/403) than stay in the same set (34% of trials, 136/403)."</p>
Ferrigno et al.<p>What's more, the baboons often displayed confidence in their decisions: When they discovered that a cylinder within a set was empty, some of them began pointing at the remaining cylinder before the wooden board was even presented to them. The baboons "prepointed" correctly 79 percent of the time.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Overall, our results show that nonhuman primates have the capacity to represent the abstract, combinatorial, or logical thought required to reason through a nonverbal disjunctive syllogism," the researchers wrote. "To date, this has been shown only in children of at least 3 years old and in a single African gray parrot."</p><p>But while the researchers said their results indicate that monkeys have a "higher level nonverbal cognition," further research is needed to determine exactly what that cognitive mechanism is.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It is unknown how widespread this ability is at the population level, a question that should be addressed in future research. Furthermore, the precise mechanism by which animals reason through a nonverbal disjunctive syllogism requires detailed study."</p>
Most of us carry a mother's voice in the neural patterns of our brain.
Coronavirus has given us the opportunity to reframe and rethink society from its foundation.
- There have been many lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis. According to Acumen founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz, one of the primary lessons has been that humans are interdependent creatures in an interconnected world.
- "The coronavirus has laid bare the gaping wounds of our society that had grown too individualistic over the last 30-50 years and reinforced our interdependence in the most profound ways," Novogratz says, adding that the current situation has given us a chance to rethink and rebuild society from a new moral framework.
- Placing humanity and community at the center, focusing more on helping the poor and vulnerable, and engaging more in collaboration instead of competition is how our post-COVID-19 society will succeed.
The lessons we've learned here on Earth will affect how we govern a new world.
- The colonization of Mars is a real possibility for the not-too-distant future. A big question that author Michael Shermer and others are considering is how what we know about government on Earth will shape the politics of a new planet.
- Favored by Elon Musk, Shermer shoots down the suggestion of a direct democracy because he says that historically it does not work. Direct democracy can lead to a "mob mentality" where hysterics overtake logic, leading to witch hunts and other bad consequences.
- Shermer explains why he thinks the government on Mars will, in many ways, mirror what we know as a representative democracy. There will be constitutional republic and a Bill of Rights that determines what people can and can't do.