Latest AFP Stories

2011-02-15 10:48:05

Despite displaying a few quirks, an IBM computer played to a draw on the opening day of a man vs. machine showdown with two human champions of the popular US television game show Jeopardy!. The computer, represented on stage by a large computer monitor, was frequently quicker to the buzzer than the human player, correctly answering questions in its artificial voice, reports the AFP news agency. The supercomputer "Watson," named after the founder of IBM Thomas Watson, and human contestant Brad...

2011-02-14 11:55:00

President Barack Obama restricted NASA expenses on Monday as he sent his 2012 budget blueprint to Congress calling for a five-year freeze on new spending at the U.S. space agency. The president's budget will restrict NASA's budget to last year's level, $18.7 billion annually through fiscal 2016.  The figure represents a 1.6-percent decrease from the spending total the agency had sought for fiscal 2011, which ends in September. "This budget reflects the overall fiscal reality of the US...

2011-02-07 07:27:34

Puzzled scientists are debating if the shrinking brains of humans is a sign we are growing dumber or that evolution is making the key motor leaner and more efficient. The average size of modern human brains has decreased about 10 percent during the last 30,000 years -- from 1,500 to 1,359 cubic centimeters, the size of a tennis ball, reports the AFP news agency. The brains of females, which are on average smaller than those of men, have also experienced an equivalent drop in size. These...

2011-01-06 12:59:09

Scientists who use animals for research on human diseases fear that the U.S. government is restricting the massive National Institute of Health (NIH) in a way that could slash their funding. Animal researchers say that they are being overlooked in the rush to create a new institute devoted to something they already do. The AFP news agency reports that some are concerned that as the NIH forges ahead with a plan to speed up the way scientific discoveries are transformed into treatments and...

2011-01-03 08:05:00

Ancient Norse mythology tells the tale of a pair of giant wolves that roam the skies chasing the Sun and Moon and becoming the bringers of an eclipse if they do indeed catch their prey. As northern Europe braces for the first solar eclipse of 2011, the ancient Viking legend recounts that a giant wolf named Skoll chases the Moon, and its brother Hati pursues the Sun. According to the legend, if either sinks their teeth into one and holds it back, it will cause an eclipse. But in reality,...

2010-12-29 10:35:00

Many people consider Wikileaks to be the 2010 version of Napster, saying it is a moment in the "evolution of how technology changes," according to a recent report by the AFP news agency. Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of technology and politics blog techPresident.com, told AFP that he sees Wikileaks as a "Napster moment in the evolution of how technology changes the relationship between people and their governments." Wikileaks has released hundreds of thousands of secure U.S. documents about the...

2010-12-24 06:20:00

Environmental groups accused the Obama administration on Thursday of failing to ensure the survival of polar bears, after the administration declined to list the Arctic animals as endangered. "The Obama administration delivered a lump of coal to the polar bear for Christmas," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement. The administration has "sacrificed sound science for political expediency," the AFP news agency quoted her as saying. The Center for Biological...

2010-11-28 08:45:00

Despite record-setting, sweltering heat waves and hundreds of brutal forest fires last summer, Russians remain skeptical about man-made climate change, the AFP news agency reported on Saturday.Although President Dmitry Medvedev has acknowledged that the planet is warming, Russians remain cynical and suspicious about the idea, and experts see no significant movement in the nation's position ahead of the latest U.N. climate conference in Cancun.During the U.N.'s the last major climate...

2010-11-18 12:45:00

Computer scientists argue that racial profiling to rule out potential terrorists is less effective than random searches, but simple math could be an even better solution. "When you have any profiling at all, it quickly becomes less effective than random sampling," University of Texas professor William Press told the AFP news agency. A paper on this subject appeared in Wednesday's issue of the journal Significance. Profiling does not work because "you end up screening the same innocent...

2010-11-11 09:35:00

Archaeologists have discovered six mummified dogs that they believe were used in 15th Century religious ceremonies, French news agency AFP reported on Wednesday. The discovery came at a major pre-Columbian site located south of Lima, Peru, and according to the report, along with the dogs, whose breeds have yet to be identified, the Peruvian researchers discovered the mummified remains of four children. According to what Jesus Holguin, an archaeologist with the Pachacamac Site Museum, told...

Word of the Day
  • Boughs or branches.
  • Warbling of birds in trees.