After the victory of IBM's Deep Blue against Garry Kasparov, the game of Go has replaced chess as a test bed for research in artificial intelligence (AI).
Go is one of the last board games where humans are still able to easily win against AI. Although there has been quite some research in the Go domain for 40 years, the progress in Computer Go has been slow.
However, researchers have discovered new performing algorithms and computers are catching up really fast. Since 2006, when a new algorithm called Monte-Carlo Tree Search was proposed, the level of Go programs has improved drastically. The application 'MoGo TITAN', developed by INRIA France and Maastricht University, runs on the Dutch national supercomputer Huygens, which is one of the PRACE prototypes.
Smoking is bad for you, but it can also help with allergies, according to a new study which says that cigarette smoke can prevent allergies by decreasing the reaction of immune cells to allergens.
Smoking can cause lung cancer, pulmonary disease, and can even affect how the body fights infections but along with many harmful effects, smoking cigarettes has a surprising benefit: cigarettes can protect smokers from certain types of allergies. The new study says that cigarette smoke decreases the allergic response by inhibiting the activity of mast cells, the major players in the immune system's response to allergens.
Avian influenza viruses do not thrive in humans because the temperature inside a person's nose is too low, according to research published today in PLoS Pathogens. The authors of the study, from Imperial College London and the University of North Carolina, say this may be one of the reasons why bird flu viruses do not cause pandemics in humans easily.
There are 16 subtypes of avian influenza and some can mutate into forms that can infect humans, by swapping proteins on their surface with proteins from human influenza viruses.
As if you need another reason for parental guilt, a new article in Bioscience Hypotheses speculates that our feelings could impact our reproduction and affect our children.
Dr Alberto Halabe Bucay of Research Center Halabe and Darwich, Mexico, suggests that a wide range of chemicals that our brain generates when we are in different moods could affect 'germ cells' (eggs and sperm), the cells that ultimately produce the next generation. Such natural chemicals could affect the way that specific genes are expressed in the germ cells, and hence how a child develops.
The dual launch of the far-infrared space telescope Herschel and cosmic background mapper Planck on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana is the beginning of two of the most ambitious missions ever attempted to unveil the secrets of the darkest, coldest and oldest parts of the Universe.
Herschel has the largest mirror ever launched into space and will examine a little known part of the electromagnetic spectrum to learn more about the birth of stars and galaxies as well as dust clouds and planet-forming discs around stars - and will look for water, a key component of life similar to ours.
Monkeys playing a game similar to "Let's Make A Deal" have revealed that their brains register missed opportunities and learn from their mistakes.
The researchers watched individual neurons in a region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) that monitors the consequences of actions and mediates resulting changes in behavior. The monkeys were making choices that resulted in different amounts of juice as a reward.
Their task was like the TV show "Let's Make a Deal" with the experimenters offering monkeys choices from an array of hidden rewards. During each trial, the monkeys chose from one of eight identical white squares arranged in a circle. A color beneath the white square was revealed and the monkey received the corresponding reward.