Notre Dame: Medieval stonemasons built vaulted ceilings to protect against fires

Medieval stonemasons knew very well what they were doing when they built ceiling vaults such as those found in Notre Dame, says gothic vault expert. Image credit - CC0

Medieval stonemasons built soaring vaulted ceilings such as those of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France, using techniques that are still not completely understood today. The challenge of restoring Notre Dame after the fire in April presents an opportunity to unravel the techniques of the time, says Professor David Wendland, chair of construction … Read more

Can artificial intelligence help end fake news?

Artificial intelligence can be used to create deep fakes - audio, pictures and videos that make people say and do things they never did. Image credit - PxHere

by Tom Cassauwers Fake news has already fanned the flames of distrust towards media, politics and established institutions around the world. And while new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) might make things even worse, it can also be used to combat misinformation. Want to make yourself sound like Obama? In the past, that might have required physically … Read more

Astronomers reveal first-ever image of a black hole

Image credit - EHT Collaboration

by Jonathan O’Callaghan Scientists have revealed the first ever image of a black hole, a major milestone in astrophysics which not only backs up Einstein’s theory of general relativity but also opens up a new era of black hole observations. The image shows the event horizon – the gravitational point of no return beyond which nothing, … Read more

‘Trusting self-driving cars is going to be a big step for people’

When self-driving cars start to operate in a real-life context, it could be transformative for people's perception of autonomous driving, says Dr Bonnefon.

Self-driving cars are set to bring one of the biggest changes to our global transportation system in decades, but their potential to increase road safety should not be over-emphasised if we want to increase people’s trust in automated vehicles, says Dr Jean-François Bonnefon from the Toulouse School of Economics, France, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, … Read more

A ‘cookbook’ for vehicle manufacturers: Getting automated parts to talk to each other

Image credit - MAN Truck & Bus

Semi-autonomous cars are expected to hit the roads in Europe next year with truck convoys following a few years later. But before different brands can share the roads, vehicle manufacturers need to agree on standards for automated functions. Automation will increasingly allow vehicles to take over certain aspects of driving. However automated functions are still … Read more

Fleets of autonomous satellites to coordinate tasks among themselves

Image credit - Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Space missions have long benefited from some autonomous operations being carried out aboard spacecraft, but with a sharp increase expected in the number of satellites being launched in the next few years, researchers are using automation and artificial intelligence to make them smarter and more effective. Technology firms and researchers see scope for giving satellites … Read more