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Cosmos Finale Brings In 3.52 Million Viewers, Will We Get A Season 2?

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TysonLast night Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth MacFarlane’s Cosmos resurrection unspooled its final episode, having brought a sense of wonder back to the TV landscape — and to the Fox lineup, no less! For 13 episodes beginning this past March, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey invited viewers to ponder bigger questions than who would win American Idol this season, and perhaps even more importantly, to embrace the idea that not having all the answers is okay, so long as we keep searching. Honestly, it’s still hard to believe that we even got one new season of Cosmos in our current society, where science is all too often given false equivalency with misinformation, urban legends, and outright superstition. Dare we hope that we might have more Cosmos in our future?

Last night’s season finale pulled in 3.52 million viewers, which put it behind both NBC’s Believe and a repeat of CBS’ The Good Wife in terms of total viewers. That sounds a bit depressing, but the good news is that it beat those shows in the coveted 18-49 demographic. It has consistently pulled in over 3 million viewers during its Sunday-night airings, and even though those numbers aren’t huge — the first episode of Fox’s 24: Live Another Day back at the beginning of May, for instance, pulled in around 8 million viewers total — it’s worth noting that Sunday nights have had no shortage of competition, most notably HBO’s mega-hit Game of Thrones and the NHL playoffs.

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Computer Program Passes The Turing Test For The First Time

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eugene goostmanIt was only a matter of time. We say this about a lot of developments here at GFR, but this is one I’ve been expecting to see for a long time: a computer has finally passed the Turing test.

The Turing test, named after computer scientist and WWII codebreaker (and pioneering homosexual) Alan Turing, was initially designed to gauge a computer’s ability to “think.” It involves fooling a human into thinking he’s messaging another human, when actually he’s messaging a machine. Those of us who have corresponded with Cleverbot or other chatbots know this effect, but at most we only pretended to be corresponding with a thinking entity. The Turing test has been so elusive because, even though some machines can fake human correspondence pretty well (LOLs, typos, and swearing help), no machine had yet met the standard set by Turing: fooling 30% of human judges during a five-minute text conversation. Until now.

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First Vine From Space Shows Endless Sun

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We’ve got plenty of images and video from space, but now we’ve got the first Vine of the cosmos, courtesy of astronaut Reid Wiseman, who landed on the International Space Station just a couple weeks ago.

It’s a great condensed view of one ISS revolution around the Earth, which takes roughly 92 minutes. That means astronauts on the ISS are treated to 15 or 16 sunrises in a 24-hour period — like at the end of Chris Hadfield’s explanation about how to puke in space. But on Wiseman’s Vine, you’ll notice that the sun never sets. Because space is magical. And because the space station’s orbit aligned with the line between light and dark on Earth, otherwise known as the day/night terminator line.

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A Giant Asteroid Named The Beast Will Buzz Earth Tonight

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Armageddon-WalkIf you have a nickname like “the Beast,” there are one of two things in play. It could be an ironic moniker, and you are in no way beastly at all—like when I make fun of my 14-pound dog after she tries to take down a pair really confused Great Danes on a walk around the neighborhood. Or, it’s entirely possible that you bear some of the features people normally associate with beastliness, like you’re huge, angry, and parents cross the street, clutching their children close to them, when they see you on the sidewalk. The asteroid set to buzz past Earth today, June 8, falls into this second category, and has definitely earned the nickname beast.

The Beast, also known by the much less lyrical name 2014 HQ124, is roughly the size of city block, and has been dubbed a potentially hazardous asteroid because of how close to our planet it will come. Before you sprint out the door to round up Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck in order to save the day, there isn’t really much to worry about. Though the asteroid will come close to our planet, close is a relative term. The flying space rock will still be more than 770,000 miles from us, which, if you’re doing the math, is more than triple the distance between the Earth and the moon. We should be just fine, but on the off chance that we all wake up dead tomorrow, know that someone, somewhere made a miscalculation.

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A Galactic Particle Collider And An Image Of 10,000 Galaxies

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I just got back from a local art fair, so it occurs to me that the Hubble is kind of like its own ready-made exhibit. I get lost in those images more than any paintings or sculptures, and space never fails to generate paradoxes and mind-boggling patterns. Today’s space news involves two such offerings: a particle collider and the best picture of the Milky Way, along with thousands of other galaxies.

While we have painstakingly created our own impressive particle colliders, the cosmos can do us one better. Five billion light years away, there’s a collision of galaxy clusters that are forming an accelerator estimated to be a million times stronger than the Large Hadron Collider. Clusters of this sort are the largest structures in the universe, and can consist of thousands of galaxies that continue piling up over billions of years as a result of collisions between smaller groupings.

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Museum Regrows Van Gogh’s Ear

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EarsLookingAtYouMost people have heard the story about Vincent van Gogh severing his ear. The tale has grown into a sort of morbid legend — some versions have him sending it to an unrequited love. According to other stories, he had a psychotic episode, or perhaps Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder. A few years ago, a couple of German historians said fellow artist and friend Paul Gauguin cut off van Gogh’s ear with a sword during a fight. Then, apparently, he brought the ear to a prostitute, who was understandably not thrilled — she didn’t accept severed ears as payment. The new theory is that van Gogh took the blame because he didn’t want to get his “friend” in trouble because he was obsessed with him, and that the two took a pact of silence, even though Gauguin skipped town the next day. Regardless of which version of events one believes, it’s hard to deny that van Gogh’s ear lives on in infamy. And now, thanks to science, I mean that literally.