MI weekly selection #565

Newfound ancient reptile suggests complex ecosystems

Paleontologists have uncovered a previously unknown species of small land reptiles, Parvosuchus aurelioi, that lived about 237 million years ago, walked on four legs and used bladelike teeth to tear flesh. “The presence of this small predator among fossils of much larger predators suggests that these ecosystems, where Brazil is located today, were more complex than previously imagined,” says author Rodrigo Muller, who writes in Scientific Reports that the 2-meter creature belongs to a group of reptiles called pseudosuchians, which are similar to crocodiles.

Full Story: ABC News

Policing AI with AI highlights hallucinations

ChatGPT, Google Gemini and other large language models are trained to produce plausible strings of words, regardless of whether those word strings are true, says computer scientist Sebastian Farquhar, co-author of a study in the journal Nature that found generative AI confabulations can be caught by using a second LLM to measure “semantic entropy,” or randomness. The method is relatively easy to use with existing AI models, although it does require more computation and delays responses, Farquhar says.

Full Story: Science

Cobalt-tungsten catalyst could boost “green” hydrogen

Researchers have created a layered water-splitting material that could generate highly stable “green” hydrogen in industrial conditions, describing a cobalt-tungsten catalyst that could replace scarce, expensive metals. The researchers write that the material, which they compare to a lasagna-like layered structure, can survive acidic conditions that foster efficient water-splitting, but destroy most catalysts, aside from costly iridium.

Full Story: Chemistry World

Frequencies that activate neurons in genitals found

Low-frequency vibrations, between 40 and 80 hertz, activate specific nerve cells just beneath the skin of the clitoris and penis, according to a study on mice that could help restore sexual function in people with paralysis or treat conditions like erectile dysfunction. Molecular techniques have advanced in the past two decades to allow activation and tracking of the neuron balls, or Krause corpuscles, which were discovered 150 years ago.

Full Story: Nature

Kidneys could suffer on spaceflights to Mars

A trip to Mars could damage human kidneys enough to require dialysis on the way back to Earth. The experts say long spaceflight seems to turn off two kidney proteins that regulate calcium processing and alter the kidneys’ distal convoluted tubule, which controls sodium and blood pressure.

Full Story: Popular Science

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