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Pope Francis Says He Would Baptize Martians

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Pope FrancisSince day one, everyone has taken notice that Pope Francis, the newest head of the Roman Catholic Church, does things a little bit differently than his predecessors. His latest pronouncement, however, might be the most outlandish of all the unusual things he’s said in his still-young tenure as pontiff. As strange as this may sound, the Pope recently stated that he’s open to the idea of baptizing aliens, should such an unlikely situation arise at any time in the future. Someone has probably already started writing a sci-fi novel where this happens.

During a daily mass on Monday, Pope Francis stated that everyone has the right to be baptized, should they desire it. And when he said anyone, he meant anyone. He said that they cannot “close the door” on any individual, even “green men, with a long nose and big ears, like children draw.”

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EU Top Court Rules That People Have The “Right To Be Forgotten” On Search Engines

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search enginesIn a ruling that surprised many yesterday, Europe’s top court ruled that search engines such as Google have to take down links to sensitive, private information if requested to do so. In the words of the European Court of Justice, people have the “right to be forgotten.”

The case started when a Spanish citizen requested that Google take down an old online article about him going into debt. Such information isn’t necessary or relevant to the public, and only served to embarrass and degrade the man’s reputation. The court agreed that Google has to take down the link, and that any search company has to do the same in a similar situation.

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Russia Bailing On The ISS

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ISSSix weeks after NASA announced that it would be cutting ties with Russia, except for their collaboration on the ISS, Russia has gone a step further, saying that it plans to stop participating in the ISS after 2020.

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that Russia will use its resources to focus on other projects. In the statement, he said, “We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States, which politicises everything.” He also mentioned “inappropriate” sanctions, including plans to deny the export of high-tech equipment to Russia. In turn, Russia says that while it is ready to deliver engines used to build widely-used Atlas V rockets, it will only do so on the “condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites.” Um…

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Chris Hadfield’s Space Oddity Cover Is About To Vanish From YouTube

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If you’re a regular reader of GFR, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a serious nerd crush on Canadian astronaut/former ISS commander Chris Hadfield, whose social media updates from the International Space Station were both fascinating and addictive, all culminating in his covering David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”…from space. If you somehow managed to miss that historic moment, you can watch it right now up top. Well, so long as “right now” for you is within the next few hours of when I’m writing this, anyway. Hadfield announced via Twitter that the “Space Oddity” video would be coming down later today.

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Lightning-Quick Robot Can Catch Major League Pitch

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At this point, we’re pretty used to reading articles and watching videos about robots who can perform a host of tasks more efficiently than humans. The number and range of such tasks continues to grow exponentially, leaving me wondering if we’re really only better at writing articles about the ways robots are superior. Just kidding — they could do that better too. Here’s another skill robots have mastered: the ability to react quickly enough to catch objects thrown at them, even if those objects are thrown at the speed of an MLB pitch.

If you’ve ever watched Asimo fall down the stairs, or watched how slowly the robots competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge complete their tasks, you know robots aren’t usually particularly nimble (but don’t worry—DARPA’s on it.) But researchers at Switzerland’s Learning Algorithms and System Laboratory (LASA) created a robotic arm that is as good at catching objects as this robot is at winning rock, paper, scissors.

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Help Fund Electricity-Generating Solar-Powered Roads

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SolarRoadsIf you have a time-traveling DeLorean, you may not need roads, but the rest of us still do. And after this winter especially, those roads may be cracked to pieces, making biking and driving particularly unpleasant. But if U.S. company Solar Roadways has its way, those — and a host of other problems related to conventional roadways — will be problems of the past.

Solar Roadways has developed electricity-generating solar-powered panels made of tempered glass that can withstand the weight of traffic. They can do all kinds of stuff, including melt snow and ice by using embedded heating elements. They can house cables and power lines, eliminating the need to run them above-ground where they’re subject to the elements. The five colors of LEDs that operate via two-way microprocessors can warn of road dangers and lead to smart parking lots and roads. These panels will also help pave the way for driverless vehicles, as well as electric vehicles, which these panels would help charge. Solar Roadways says that, if implemented on a wide scale, these roads could provide enough clean, renewable energy to power the country, thereby diminishing our reliance on fossil fuels and decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions.