Friday, April 3, 2009

Humans and Robots on the Moon by 2020

Reported by AP News, Tokyo - Japan announced on April 3, 2009 that it has some plans for a joint-mission with humans and their two-legged walking robots to the moon by the year 2020.

Size of the budget and technology specific plans for this endeavour are still being worked on and will be finalized in two years according the Japan's Strategic Headquarters for Space Development. This is a Cabinet-level working group that is charged with a broad strategy for space development and exploration.

The group also proposed more research into military satellites like early warning systems for detecting ballistic missile launches and systems to analyze radio waves sent in space.  Other recommendations include using space research as a tool to develop diplomacy with other countries and developing advanced satellites to predict and monitor natural disasters.

The Strategic Headquarters was set up last year by law to advance Japan's space technology and exploration.  It allows the country - with its peaceful constitution, to use space for military defense.

In added Robot news dated April 2, 2009, the Financial Times reported by Clive Cookson (Science Editor); that a robot named Adam has the honor of being the first machine in history to make a new scientific discovery independently of its human creators.

Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of baker's yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without human intervention at Aberystwyth University.  The result, according to the article, ..was a series of "simple but useful" discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes.  The research is published in the journal Science. 

Creator of Robot Adam, Professor Ross King, says that Adam will not supplant human researchers but make their work more productive and interesting.  "Ultimately we hope to have teams of human and robot scientists working together in laboratories," he said.

Adam is the result of a five-year collaboration between computer scientists and biologists at Aberystwyth and Cambridge universities.  

Adam has access to a huge database of yeast biology, automated hardware to carry out experiments.  Plus supplies of yeast cells and lab chemicals, and on top of all that, powerful artificial intelligence software.

Although they did not intervene directly in Adam's experiments, they did stand by to fix technical glitches, add chemicals and remove waste.

Professor King added, "Adam is a prototype.  Eve is better designed and more elegant."  

In future experiments, Robot Adam and Robot Eve will work together to devise and carry out tests on thousand of chemical compounds.  Working towards discovering new antimalarial drugs.  

Ref>  National Space Society Blog ( 
Drudge Report/Google News April 3, 2009: (
Financial Times ( )

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