How Scientists Are Using AI to Listen to Dolphins

Machine learning is becoming more and more advanced every year thanks to more refined algorithms and better sensor technology, machine learning is already seeing a lot of use in areas where large amounts of data need to be processed. Just recently scientists have made use of an unsupervised algorithm in a research that has been monitoring the underwater chatter of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

This project involved collecting data through autonomous sensors that were setup all across the Gulf, after two years they had collected about 52 million echolocation click noises made by dolphins in the region. Now this is the part where artificial intelligence comes in and makes things a whole lot easier for scientists instead of having a team of people go through these 52 million sound samples and categorize them based on certain factors, scientists made use of an algorithm that did the sorting for them.

What makes this algorithm intelligent is the fact that the scientists did not “teach” it to identify already known patterns the algorithm went through all the data and learnt how and what to identify as it did its job. Being unsupervised, the algorithm did a fine job at identifying original patterns and click types that allowed researchers to identify the various dolphin species in the wild. The algorithm that was used to do the categorizing is quite similar to what social media websites and music apps use to make suggestions and recommendation to users.

Researchers believe that carrying out studies related to wildlife in this manner will allow them to gather crucial data about even the most reclusive species without causing too much disturbance in their lives. Thanks to innovations in sensor technology and a constant rise in computing capability, researchers are confident that they will be able to make use of similar data collection and analysis techniques in the future to make ground breaking discoveries about dolphin activity.

Another interesting application of such a method can be to monitor the impact of climate change and oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico’s dolphin population allowing researchers to devise ways to safeguard the wildlife of the Gulf and ensure that dolphins in that area can thrive.

High-Temperature Superconductors That Do Not Act Up As Much

There are some copper based compounds that superconductor (or transmit electricity) without resistance without having to be cooled to ridiculously low temperatures. So far, the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory of superconductivity has not been able to explain their outliers but newer findings are suggesting that this theory does in fact apply to these materials as well.

For a superconductor to work it needs to be chilled to temperatures that come close to sub-zero levels (-273.15 degrees Celsius), however there are copper based superconductors that work just fine at temperatures greater than liquid nitrogen’s boiling point which is around -196 degrees Celsius. If scientists can find a superconductor that operates at even greater temperatures then there could potentially be a huge amount of power saving along with the need for developing new technologies going down. In order to find such a superconductor, scientists need to develop a deeper understanding of how these materials work.

Many superconductors produce swirling electric current vortices when placed in a magnetic field, which is something that has already been defined in the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory. When a copper based superconductor is placed in a magnetic field, it does not produce these vortices, this has led scientists to believe that the way in which these materials conduct differs from normal superconductors. Fortunately, this mystery about copper based superconductors (also called cuprates) is beginning to unravel thanks to physicists in the University of Geneva who have recently studied the formation of such vortices in cuprates consisting of barium, yttrium, oxygen, and copper.

These vortices can be scanned with tunneling microscopes to collect data about the vortex, when physicists probed the vortices produced by cuprates they noted that the probe was measuring two contributions in the current being produced. One came from the superconducting electrons present and the other came from the non-superconducting electrons which was spread across the material’s surface, this contribution masked the signatures that were being produced by the vortices.

The non-superconducting contribution had kept the vortices from showing, making it seem like that high-temperature cuprates did not conform to the standard superconductivity theory. These results have helped scientists develop a far better understanding of cuprates, but there is still a lot about these materials that needs to be figured out before scientists can make further groundbreaking advancements in this field.

The Secrets of The Earth’s Humming

You would be forgiven for thinking that the planet that we live on is a solid and immovable object, but the truth is that the Earth is constantly moving and stretching, vibrating and shaking under our feet as it hurtles through the endlessness of space. Earthquakes are one example of just how active our planet is, one of the most mysterious things about the Earth is the fact that our planet has a sound, an endless hum that cannot be heard by human ears, the simplest way to describe what this hum sounds like is to slow down the sound of TV static by 10,000 times.

We are not clear about the cause behind this humming, all we know is that it is present all around the globe, researchers have recorded this ultralow frequency sound in various parts of the world and there are various theories out there that try to explain this sound. Some say it is caused by movements and vibrations in the atmosphere while others say that it is the sound of ocean waves colliding and echoing.

The fact that our planet is constantly ringing like a bell is quite fascinating, and researchers believe that if they can listen to this sound more clearly then they might be able to develop a better understanding of it as well. If the secrets behind this sound can be unravelled then we might be able to learn more about what goes on inside of our planet and we might even be able to use this sound to map alien planets.

Another peculiar thing about this humming is the fact that its frequency is not consistent, it changes along with the Earth’s vibration levels, for example when the 2011 earthquake shook Japan, the Earth rang like crazy for an entire month. Researchers reported that people all across the globe went up and down by an entire centimetre, but since it happened so slowly they hardly felt a thing. The Earth’s vibrations seems to have a direct impact on this humming, but that does not mean that they are caused by these vibrations, the humming is always there even when seismic activity is quite low.

Recent research suggests that the most likely culprit for these waves are ocean waves that are always clashing with the earth’s surface, sending vibrations deep into the planet’s crust. Vibrations and disruptions at various levels and frequencies all over the world come together to create a harmony of ultralow frequencies that resonate all across the globe with astonishing matching. Researchers are confident that this first step towards identifying this hum will be crucial in looking at this sound as more of an understandable signal rather than a mysterious sound.

Understanding this humming can be a monumental step towards developing a reliable way of mapping our planet’s bowels, scientists already make use of earthquake waves to study the planet’s interior, however, earthquakes are far too random to base an entire study on them.