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» Glavni naslovi






All the secrets of the human brain and the machine

Exploring the brain - its 100 billion or so neurons, each of which has about 1,000 more connections with other nerve cells - has been compared to space exploration. Uncovering the biological basis of the brain's ability to learn, remember, perceive, and shape the behaviour and consciousness of a human individual, as well as to perform various sensory, motor and cognitive tasks, Nobel laureate Erik Kandel called it an "epic challenge" for the biological sciences.
The universe that makes up the nervous system with the brain in the centre is dealt with by several (neuro)sciences, from (neuro)physiology, (neuro)anatomy and cellular and molecular biology, through (neuro)physics, (neuro)chemistry and mathematics, to statistics and computer sciences. Modern, multidisciplinary neuroscience has been developing very dynamically in the last half-century, but it is expected that it will realize its great potential only in the coming decades, primarily in medicine and improving the diverse possibilities of human society. Thanks to numerous technological improvements in the previous 20 years, there is no doubt that the application of artificial intelligence, which is the result of its knowledge, but which at the same time provides it with plenty of new research opportunities, will give it a special impetus.



Magnetic sled for deep space

Do you remember the unusual oblong-shaped space rock with the even more unusual name Oumuamu? In 2017, it whistled through the solar system at breakneck speed and went on its way. It didn't leave a trail as one would expect from a comet, but it raised a lot of dust among astronomers and fueled the hopes of many alien seekers. It was moving at too high a speed, on a very eccentric path, and it was clear that the gravity of our sun was not going to stop it. No object from the solar system could naturally reach such a high speed, no matter what kind of gravitational slingshot it used. Speed and trajectory decided: it is an object that does not belong to our solar system, it flew in from far away and continued through the vastness of space. A messenger from the distant past, as his name translates from the Hawaiian language (discovered by the Hawaiian Observatory). It was the first time an interstellar object was detected.
Some scientists did not stop at this assessment but went one step further. The most vocal among them, at that time the head of the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, and now the director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at this university, Professor Avi Loeb (Abraham Loeb), put forward the assumption that it is more than just a space rock, that Omuamua a product (or wreckage) of alien technology. That thesis was not approved by the scientific public, but the media quickly took up this idea and ignited the imagination of many lovers of the mysteries hidden in the dark distances of the starry sky. Professor Lobb wrote a book about his theory in which he tried to convince the general public of his views and - it became a bestseller.




The riches of the Red Planet

After the return of humans to the Moon and the establishment of a permanent human presence, in the decades ahead, the next destination for sending a human crew and subsequent settlement is Mars. In the context of sustainable development, energy transition and environmentally friendly industrial production, a lot is written and studied about the exploitation of resources outside the Earth, that is, about space mining. At the same time, the most attention is paid to the Moon. It is the Earth's satellite and the only celestial body on which, apart from the Earth, a human foot has ever set foot, as well as asteroids because they are the richest in the resources we need. Also, the Moon and asteroids, especially those close to Earth, are the only ones whose exploitation, while returning resources to Earth, is currently theoretically feasible and profitable.
Exploitation of Martian resources, in the context of replacing Earth's resources, is not so meaningful, given the distance between the two planets, even when they are in positions of the smallest relative distance. On the other hand, the exploitation of Martian resources will play the most important role in establishing the first human settlements on the Red Planet. When it reaches a certain level, it will potentially enable the complete independence of Martian settlements.




First jobs in Europe

Full of ambitious ideas, after the first professional experiences gained in the Central Telegraph Institute of the Hungarian government, and then in the first Telephone Exchange in Budumpešta, Nikola Tesla moved to Paris and started working in Edison's continental company. The job would then take him to Strasbourg, where he would construct his first AC induction motor, based on his ingenious discovery of a rotating magnetic field.
Nikola Tesla entered his twenty-fourth year of life when he arrived in Prague in January 1880. He was late to enrol for the summer semester at Charles University, but even earlier arrival would not have allowed him to enrol as a full-time student because he did not meet the basic requirements - he did not know Czech, and he did not pass the exam in Greek. However, Tesla was admitted to studies as a part-time student, who listened to lectures in analytical geometry and experimental physics. Unfortunately, Tesla ran out of money to continue his studies and in January 1881 he left Prague for Budapest.




Air conditioner of our planet

The functioning of today's civilization is unthinkable without the consumption of huge amounts of different types of energy. Until recently, the main type of energy production was based on the use of non-renewable, fossil sources (coal, oil and natural gas). Due to their limited quantity and the consequences for the Earth's ecosystem that their use leads to, there is an effort to apply some other, alternative forms of energy. Today, virtually no political gathering goes by without mentioning the word "decarbonization," which is commonly understood as the reduction or complete cessation of fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions. However, this is only one of the many factors that lead to global warming.
Practically, all forms of energy available to the Earth come directly or indirectly from the energy of the Sun's radiation. All non-renewable sources on Earth were created by the action of the Sun, in the distant past, during the Permian period of abundance (250-300 million years ago), in the process of photosynthesis. During the eruption of the supervolcano in the Siberian region, which lasted 200,000 years and caused the Permian-Triassic catastrophe, when almost 95% of the plant and animal life disappeared, a large part of the plant mass was covered with ash deposits. This led to increased pressure and temperature and, depending on their value, to the formation of coal, natural gas and oil.




Dolphins instead of fishermen

Examples of cooperation between humans and animals are not rare in the history of our planet. However, this cooperation is becoming rarer and soon, it seems, it could disappear completely. Dogs are man's best friends, but our four-legged pets are not the entire social circle of the human species. Humans have cooperated with wild animals throughout history and have formed mutually beneficial relationships, which in biology are called the principle of reciprocity. Recently, on the front pages of Brazilian newspapers, you could read the news about a "fishy" collaboration that was of great interest to the public. Namely, fishermen fill their nets with a local species of dolphin (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus). This agreement has been going on for a whole century! It was probably "assembled" when fishermen noticed an effect on the behaviour of fish near dolphins, explained Mauricio Cantor, a behavioural ecologist at Oregon State University's Mammal and Marine Life Institute. He states that dolphins are very good at detecting fish and practically "direct" them towards the shore. Then it is easy for fishermen to catch them in their nets. When the catch is safe, the dolphins get their share.
In research published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Kantor and his colleagues used data showing that dolphins and fishermen respond to each other's movements and know exactly when to do what. Partnership is an essential part of the identity of both fishermen and dolphins. However, it is noticeable that this cooperation is increasingly rare, and that some forms have completely disappeared.




Where did the birds go?

If the question is asked: who is behind the disappearance of hundreds of species of birds in the last 50 thousand years, it is not necessary to search for an answer for a long time. The culprit is man. Namely, the latest research by experts from the Weizmann University in Israel indicates that, in the period from 20 to 50 thousand years ago, a large number of birds faced extinction, for which the culprit in most cases is the human species. In other words, man has caused the disappearance of ten to twenty per cent of bird species. Scientists published a report according to which the vast majority of extinct species had several common characteristics: they were all large, lived on islands, and many of them were not flightless birds. This research was conducted by Professor Shay Meiri, from the School of Zoology at the "George S. Weitz" Faculty of Natural Sciences, and Amir From from the "Weitzman" Scientific Institute, and was published in the Journal of Biogeography.



It is not the movement of the ground kills

More than half a year has passed since the earthquake at the beginning of February this year, which hit Turkey (around 60,000 dead) and Syria (around 6,000 dead), and since the one in Morocco (around 3,000 dead), only two months, and a new one, again devastated, it took its toll. This time it was Afghanistan that suffered. In the earthquake that, in just one week, in the first half of October, hit this poor Asian country three times - more than 2,000 people died. Why does this happen, where do these devastating earthquakes come from?
The outer layer of our planet consists of several large segments, tectonic plates. They do not stand still, but move: towards each other, from each other and next to each other. When the plates, during this movement, collide or get stuck, pressure is created which is released in the form of an earthquake. Earthquakes, apart from where the tectonic plates touch, occasionally occur within the tectonic plates themselves.
It is ironic that if there were no earthquakes, the Earth would be dead, and uninhabitable. Namely, the movement of tectonic plates causes the Earth's core to heat up. If this core were not there (if it cooled), the Earth would not have a magnetic field that protects the atmosphere from radiation from space. It turns out that earthquakes are the price humanity pays to nature, which in turn gives it the conditions for the existence of life on Earth.






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