Dumb Stupid Idiots

An artificial intelligence competition—in which computers try to trick a judge into thinking they’re human—has failed to produce a winner, yet again. The $100,000 Loebner Prize gold medal will eventually go to a computer programmer who can design a machine that can talk like a real person in a five-minute conversation, but no silicon savant has been deemed worthy of the top prize in the competition’s 11-year history. The bronze medal was awarded, though, to a machine named ALICE, who produced this scintillating prose: “Leo said I be capable of learning therefore he classified I as an neural system.”

Light (up a) bud

Genetic engineers in Italy have created the first club kid bouquet: a daisy that glows green under ultraviolet light.

Scientists from the Experimental Institute of Floriculture tricked the demure daisy into producing green fluorescent protein (GFP), which is naturally found in some kinds of jellyfish. When stimulated with light in the UV frequencies, GFP molecules spit out green light, giving the flower its power. Scientists were quick to point out that GFP has more practical uses—it can be introduced into cancer cells to track them as they migrate through the body.

Cow Confusion

Scientists in the UK studying mad cow disease (BSE) suddenly pulled a study from publication because evidence had surfaced that they were looking at samples from the wrong animal. Scottish researchers were almost sure that BSE can take root in sheep as well as cows, meaning that humans could contract the disease from more than just one food animal. But just prior to the study being published, it was discovered that the sheep brain samples that were analysed might have actually come from cattle. The Veterinary Laboratory Agency, which was hired to check that the brain matter being studied was not contaminated by cow brain, admitted that their original analyses were faulty.

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