Pivot like the worms do – IMPRESSO #11

In this edition: worms performing mathematical calculations, humans closer to becoming a multi-planetary species and the prevention of toxic online conversations


Pivot like the worms do

Hebrew University research shows what we could learn from worms’ built in special ‘GPS’ system. The research team found that, in order to find food, worms perform mathematical calculations: one single neural cell pushes the worm in the direction of the food’s smell, a second neural cell acts as the recalculating system, constantly computing derivatives of the scent data. If it gets negative results, the worm adapts his route. Lesson to be learned from the worm: always check if you’re moving in the right direction and if not, pivot. Read more


Stay hydrated on the Red Planet

Assumptions that water can be found on Mars have been out there for a few years and NASA confirmed that likelihood in 2015. Now, there’s actual proof! Using the advanced radar instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, researchers found a lake filled with liquid water under the surface of the Red Planet’s south polar cap. This makes potential life there a real possibility and will also propel the earth’s plans to colonise Mars and become a multi-planetary species. Read more


The sensor for toxic conversations

Sure, our beloved world wide web provides huge potential for blossoming dialogues and the spread of innovative ideas. But the internet is also quite often a playground for the opposite of constructivism: Toxic conversations and personal attacks – out of the blue as it often seems. Researchers from Cornell University created a computer program that can determine when a conversation is about to turns sour. Their predictive algorithm may reduce and prevent personal attacks and derailing digital conversations, making the web a more welcoming space to share your innovative ideas in a productive and positive way. Read more