Dead Humpback Whale Found in Amazon Jungle Baffles Scientists

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Scientists are baffled by the discovery of a 26-foot-long humpback whale in the middle of the Amazon jungle, on Marajó Island in northern Brazil. The 10-ton male calf was found some 50 feet from the ocean shore, lying in the middle of a tropical mangrove where it will decompose as experts have no way of reaching it with heavy machinery.

The juvenile whale was estimated to be about a year old and is believed to have been separated from its mother during a migration, before washing up on shore in a storm. But how it landed in the middle of the thick jungle growth that far inland is still a bit of a mystery.

Scientists’ only guess is that a storm may have somehow flung the creature into the forest, though the details don’t quite add up. The animal’s carcass is relatively unscathed, and researchers are unable to reach it with bulldozers. So, how did a storm toss this behemoth of an animal that far, or push it into the jungle without leaving a clear path of destruction?

Renata Emin, project leader at the Bicho D’agua Institute, told Brazilian news publication O Liberal, “We’re still not sure how it landed here, but we’re guessing that the creature was floating close to the shore and the tide, which has been pretty considerable over the past few days, picked it up and threw it inland, into the mangrove.”

Adding to the mystery is the fact that humpback whales are almost never seen in this particular region at this time of year. According to Emin, it’s common to see them on the country’s southern coast from August through November, but rarely do they travel the hundreds of miles north to the mouth of the Amazon in February. Something strange certainly caused the not-so-little guy to get lost.

Scientists were alerted to the animal’s presence when they noticed flocking birds of prey scavenging on its carcass. And because of the animal’s peculiar and confined location they will allow it to decompose before eventually removing the bones to be displayed at a local museum.

In the past there have been bizarre meteorological phenomena that cause fish and other animals to rain from the sky during intense storms or tornadic waterspouts, though animals as large as whales have never been reported.

And while it’s more likely that a storm led to the animal being violently pushed inland, fans of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, might instantly harken back to the scene when a sperm whale is suddenly called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet, questioning the point of its existence – and body parts – as it plummets to the ground.

Maybe scientists on the ground in Brazil should also be on the lookout for a shattered bowl of petunias.

 

For more on the mystery of animals raining from the sky watch Out of the Blue from Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World:



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Company Builds AI Text Generator Too Dangerous for Public Release

As the age of automation draws increasingly nearer, the gatekeepers of this exciting, yet frightening, technology are being forced to make ethical decisions on whether or not their A.I. will better humanity or cause its downfall. And just recently the creators of the machine learning research group OpenAI, backed by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and Reid Hoffman, decided one of their creations was too dangerous to release in full as they realized their AI was too good at generating “deepfakes for text.”

The nonprofit research firm’s GPT2 text generator was fed over 10 million news articles from Reddit – about 40 GBs worth of text – to generate an intuitive program that completes any input sentence into a full-length news article — a fake news article.

A demonstration of the technology can be seen in the below video posted by the Guardian, which shows what happened when the first sentence of an article was input to the bot. Within seconds, the tool generates a fabricated paragraph that reads in a journalistic tone, and sounds like it could actually be reporting legitimate news.

Entering the opening lines of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and George Orwell’s 1984, had the same effect – without hesitation, the bot filled in the next paragraphs with sentences that read fluently and made perfect sense, albeit they weren’t the sentences from the book.

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