Stealth rubber coating could make submarines nearly invisible to sonar

Concerns over copyright and artists’ livelihoods have caused photography agencies to remove images created by artificial intelligence models from their databases.

The worries come from the fact that the AIs hoover up vast amounts of human-generated art to train themselves and use this database of knowledge to generate photorealistic images related to almost any text prompt. This has led to ethical debate and highlighted the legislative …

ONE evening in August, my partner and I set off after work for a weekend away to celebrate our friends’ wedding. We had expected the journey to take about 3 hours, but we got caught in a traffic jam that turned it into 6.

I sat in the passenger seat, getting increasingly frustrated as the cars and fields around me changed very little and the estimated arrival time on my phone crept later and later. We had expected to get there in daylight, but while the sun set, I looked out. As the glints of Saturn, Vega and Arcturus appeared, …

The following is an extract from our Lost in Space-Time newsletter. Each month, we hand over the keyboard to a physicist or two to tell you about fascinating ideas from their corner of the universe. You can sign up for Lost in Space-Time here.

Physics has something of a reputation for difficulty. It’s not the first university course you sign up for if you’re looking for an easy grade. But there is a paradox lurking behind this reputation. The reason that physics seems …

Science-fiction author Neal Stephenson predicted cryptocurrencies and virtual worlds – even coining the term metaverse – in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. Now, 30 years later, he is combining the two ideas by launching a blockchain-powered open metaverse. It is a move that sets him against big tech firms with their own metaverse plans, so why is he doing it and what even is an open metaverse?

Developers have pushed various versions of the metaverse for decades, but nothing has stuck. Its time may have come, though: last year Facebook rebranded as Meta with founder Mark Zuckerberg promising to spend billions of dollars to create a new virtual world in which everyone can interact, while Microsoft is also investing billions in its own version of the idea.

Stephenson, however, is proposing to build a metaverse linked to a blockchain – the technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin – so that it is entirely decentralised rather than being owned by someone. He has launched a company and blockchain called Lamina1 with the purpose of acting as a core for the open metaverse. It would handle interoperability between worlds, verify the identity of users and handle financial transactions.

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