What you might have missed


AI conquering poker, the oldest modern human in Europe and a caving mission before Mars - here are some highlights from a week in science. 


A sea of dandelion parachutes, and a study in aerodynamics. READ THE FULL STORY HERE

CAIAIMAGE/ANDY ROBERTS, VIA GETTY IMAGES

Our science stories this week included everything from lead concentrations in Arctic ice, to modified tobacco, the oldest known modern human and genetic differences in a single tree.

Here's a snapshot of a few stories we particularly enjoyed. Click on the links to read them in full. You can also see all the week's yarns here.


The oldest known modern human in Europe

Two skulls chiselled from a slab of Greek rock have deepened our understanding of early humans living on the European continent.

The specimens were found in the Apidima Cave – a site etched into a seaside cliff – in Southern Greece in 1978. Their significance is only now being revealed, in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Read the full story here.


Going caving before going to Mars

Scientists looking for ways to search for life on Mars – or to explore safe abodes for long-term bases on the Moon – are using a NASA robot to explore underground tunnels in the high desert of northeastern California.

Read the full story here.


Arctic ice reveals 1500 years of progress and pollution

Lead concentrations trapped in Arctic ice cores parallel periods of growth and technological progress across centuries and give insights into the pollution produced by industrial activities.

The ice cores show that lead pollution escalated 250- to 300-fold from the Early Middle Ages to the 1970s, when it started dropping after the US Clean Air Act and other environmental initiatives were enacted.

Read the full story here.


Scientists modify tobacco to create enzymes

US researchers have genetically engineered tobacco plants that can produce medical and industrial proteins in the field.

This successful move outdoors from a laboratory setting could provide the opportunity to grow in bulk, thus making the whole concept economically feasible.

Read the full story here.


AI conquers multi-player no-limit poker

A new artificial intelligence (AI) system dubbed Pluribus looks set to simultaneously delight computer scientists and terrify professional gamblers around the world.

Revealed in a paper published in the journal Science, Pluribus is a self-learning system that can tackle six-player no-limit Texas hold’em poker and beat all-comers – even professional players.

Read the full story here.


Pointing originates from touch

Researchers have discovered that the uniquely human act of pointing, which appears in the first nine to 14 months of age, originates from touch.

This finding sheds more light on the established phenomenon that pointing lays the groundwork for learning language; children who are delayed in pointing are also slower to develop language skills.

Read the full story here.


And here's our image of the week:

All in a summer’s work. Giant Sitka spruce trees on Vancouver Island.

TJ Watt

Researchers from Canada’s University of British Columbia spent last northern summer scaling these giant Sitka spruce trees (Picea sitchensis) in Vancouver Island's Carmanah Valley, collecting bark and needles.

Read the full story here.

To view all this week's featured images, click here.

  1. https://cosmosmagazine.com/latest
  2. https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/the-oldest-known-modern-human-in-europe
  3. https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/going-caving-before-going-to-mars
  4. https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth-sciences/arctic-ice-reveals-1500-years-of-progress-and-pollution
  5. https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/scientists-modify-tobacco-to-create-enzymes
  6. https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/ai-conquers-multi-player-no-limit-poker
  7. https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/pointing-originates-from-touch
  8. https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth-sciences/tall-and-diverse-timber
  9. https://cosmosmagazine.com/sections/image-of-the-day
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