‘Mini-Pompeii’ Found in Norway [via Discovery News]
Norwegian archaeologists announced last week that they have uncovered a well-preserved Neolithic campsite in Hamresanden in southern Norway. Unlike the Italian city buried under ash in 79 CE, the Norwegian site, dating back approximately 5,500 years, was buried under three feet of sand. Researchers said the site, located a few hundred feet from the North Sea, appeared to have been seasonally occupied; the pottery appears to have been left with the intention of returning. The archaeologists theorized a sudden flood covered the settlement in sand, preserving the artifacts.
Google cars drive themselves, in traffic [via The New York Times]
The interwebs were abuzz yesterday with the Times’ front-page story on Google’s small fleet of auto-piloted automobiles. The cars “artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.” The Google cars have so far driven thousands of miles without human intervention (although there is a live operator behind the wheel just in case), and has so far had only one accident—being rear-ended by another car. While developers are years away from a mass-produced self-driving auto, they hope that the increased safety brought by computers driving will prevent possibly tens of thousands of deaths per year.
Philippa Foot, Renowned Philosopher, Dies at 90 [via The New York Times]
Oxford philosopher Philppa Foot died Oct. 3 on her 90th birthday. Foot was renowned for her work in morality and rationality and was best known for a thought experiment known as the Trolly Problem, “the ethical dilemma faced by the driver of a runaway trolley hurtling toward five track workers. By diverting the trolley to a spur where just one worker is on the track, the driver can save five lives. Clearly, the driver should divert the trolley and kill one worker rather than five. But what about a surgeon who could also save five lives — by killing a patient and distributing the patient’s organs to five other patients who would otherwise die? The math is the same, but here, instead of having to choose between two negative duties — the imperative not to inflict harm — as the driver does, the doctor weighs a negative duty against the positive duty of rendering aid.”