Rise of the thinking liquids and other Skynet-esque moments in our history

Scientists really ought to know when to quit. But clearly they don’t watch the same movies as the rest of us, because they keep doing silly and dangerous things.

Latest case in point is a team from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where they’ve decided to create a swarm of 20 ping-pong ball-sized robots. These form a swarm and this swarm has intelligence. The team reckons that this intelligent technology could perhaps contain oil spills or even self-assemble into space-based hardware.

The obvious next step is that the thinking balls assemble as an anti-humanity ray gun. Do these people learn nothing from Star Trek? Seriously. Or Transformers.

Back in meatspace, new research detailed in the journal Hormones and Behaviour concludes that men find women more attractive near ovulation. This, according to previous work, was down to attractiveness being enhanced due to hormonal shifts.

In the new study, reported Livescience.com, researchers took photographs of 202 women’s faces and made recordings of their speaking voices at two points in their menstrual cycles. They also took saliva samples to measure hormone levels during both sampling sessions.

More than 500 men rated the attractiveness of the women’s faces and voices from one of the two sessions. The ratings from the first session were averaged for each woman and then compared with ratings for her second session. Men rated faces and voices as more attractive when women’s progesterone levels were low and estradiol (oestrogen) levels were high. Fairly obvious, you’d have thought, but hey – science must prove everything to be worthy of the name. Next stop: proving that beer gets people drunk.

Or, indeed, proving whether anything is real at all. Seems some scientists do watch sci-fi from time to time; Martin Savage of the University of Washington is testing whether we, actually, are living in a computer simulation. Don’t ask us to try and explain the technical side of this one, it’s insanely complex and to do with dividing space into four dimensions then looking for physical signatures in cosmic rays or something.

We just wish that someone would programme our brains a little bit better so we can keep track of this stuff.

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