Daily Dose: African Science needs to address local needs, not Western ones

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A comment piece in Nature discusses the state of scientific research in Africa and the uneven relationship with Western counterparts. After setting out a series of suggestions, the author concludes, “Going forwards, the international community should focus on what African-led research offers: a distinct culture structured around knowledge gaps and desired impact, which Western science often struggles with. This mindset naturally leads to collaboration and high-quality science.” https://go.nature.com/35GOrnN

There’s more discouraging news on the climate change front. A new United Nations study reports, “The summary findings are bleak,” it says. “Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.” https://bbc.in/2pUBmrH

While the sun at the center of our solar system may be special to us, its composition is common across the universe. Those stars are known to sporadically generate stellar flares. This fact is causing scientists to wonder whether our sun is due. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, “This raises the prospect of superflares on the Sun, perhaps one every few centuries. Such events could have serious consequences for society. But other evidence for these events is strangely lacking. They should deposit much more radioactive material on Earth and the Moon than researchers have found thus far. Either our Sun is subtly different from these superflare stars, or a superflare is possible in the foreseeable future.” http://bit.ly/34nsTvX

We love Minecraft. So do scientists apparently. Artificial Intelligence researchers are using the game to encourage programmers to shift away from reinforcement learning (like what happens when you get Netflix recommendations) which requires high CPU and energy output and move toward imitation learning. A competition is being held called MineRL. As per Nature, “Competitors may take up to four days and use no more than eight million steps to train their AIs to find a diamond. That’s still a lot longer than it would take a child to learn, but much faster than typical AI models nowadays.” Did we mention that we love Minecraft? https://go.nature.com/33ounoH

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons 

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