The week in science: 1–7 April 2016

AITopics Original Links

Fraud punished A Parkinson's disease researcher in Australia pleaded guilty to research fraud and was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence by a court in Brisbane on 31 March. Bruce Murdoch, formerly of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, was found to have falsified results published in the European Journal of Neurology in 2011; three of his papers have been retracted. In a statement to the blog Retraction Watch, University of Queensland vice-chancellor Peter Høj said that the university had reimbursed around Aus$175,000 (US$132,000) to funding bodies associated with Murdoch's work. Ice wall to stem Fukushima leak The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on 31 March began freezing the soil surrounding reactors 1 to 4 of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. A refrigeration system (pictured) is creating a 30-metre deep, 1.5-kilometre-long wall of frozen ground that aims to stop groundwater from flowing under the plant and carrying radioactive isotopes into the sea.

Town near Fukushima No. 1 raising funds to invite volunteer doctors to care for sole hospital's 100 patients

The Japan Times

The town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, whose only hospital is in crisis following the death last month of its only fulltime doctor, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to solicit donations from the public. Hideo Takano, an 81-year-old director of the hospital, died in a fire at his home on the hospital grounds on Dec. 30, leaving 100 inpatients in limbo. The private hospital has been the only one operating in the region of Futaba, which hosts Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, since the other five hospitals shut down in the wake of the March 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. The money will be used to pay for the transportation and accommodation costs of the otherwise unpaid volunteers. So far, more than 30 doctors from across the country have offered to lend their help.

Oil and gas sector to get boost from AI system


Oil and gas exploration can get a boost from the efficient deployment of the artificially intelligent computer system, IBM Watson, a renowned data scientist has said. "Petroleum geology can be accelerated by training IBM Watson on historic data. Nearly every process currently driven by human expertise can be accelerated by its cognitive computing technology," Romeo Kienzler told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview. When asked how the cognitive technology that can think like a human can be used effectively in oil exploration in Qatar and the wider region instead of the conventional methods, IBM Watson's chief data scientist explained the system "can have a look at such vast amounts of structured and unstructured data in seconds which a human brain cannot process in an entire life time." In Qatar to take part in a recent event by Hamad Bin Khalifa University's Qatar Computer Research Institute, Kienzler pointed out that "whenever human expertise is involved in a process, the addition of a cognitive system as an adviser most likely will accelerate the process because information loss is prevented."

Biological networks can boost artificial intelligence - Times of India


LONDON: Understanding the hierarchical structure of biological networks like human brain -- a network of neurons -- could be useful in creating more complex, intelligent computational brains in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, says a study. Like large businesses, many biological networks are hierarchically organised, such as gene, protein, neural, and metabolic networks. This means they have separate units that can each be repeatedly divided into smaller and smaller subunits. Apple to sell solar energy now Apple is now planning to sell excess solar energy produced at its solar farms in Cupertino and Nevada. To understand as to why biological networks evolve to be hierarchical, researchers from the University of Wyoming and the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) simulated the evolution of computational brain models, known as artificial neural networks, both with and without a cost for network connections.

When AI goes bananas: an app helps farmers grow healthy fruit


A team of researchers from Bioversity International in Africa has created a smartphone app to help banana farmers protect their crops against diseases and pests. The Tumaini App (meaning'hope' in Swahili) is based on artificial intelligence algorithms that have been trained to recognize five major diseases and one common pest affecting the world's favorite fruit, demonstrating accuracy of more than 90 per cent in most models. The software has been tested in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Benin, China, and Uganda. Tumaini can recommend the means of addressing a specific disease and automatically upload identification data into a global database to help coordinate international response. It is hoped that the app can stop disease outbreaks and protect the livelihood of small, independent farmers.