On Thursday, SpaceX took another step toward reusing rockets when it fired the nine engines on the first stage of a Falcon 9 booster it launched in May. The company released video of the full-duration engine firing, which mimicked the length of a first-stage burn toward orbit, conducted at its test site in MacGregor, Texas.
This particular booster, which launched a Japanese communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit on May 6, will not be re-flown. According to Spaceflight Now, the company designated it as a reference vehicle because it weathered extreme temperatures during its reentry into Earth's atmosphere. The rocket will undergo additional tests as engineers determine the readiness of flown boosters for additional flights into space.
Beijing is offering cash rewards as an incentive for chemical plants that leave the nation's capital. Eighty hazardous chemical plants should be out of the city by 2018, the local work safety watchdog said on Thursday.
The watchdog said it had asked plants to relocate voluntarily and offered a cash bonus, calculated on a set of criteria including the size of the facility, number of employees, tax contributions, safety record and production process. Early applicants will get extra rewards.
The watchdog aims to wave goodbye to 60 plants this year and 20 more between 2017 and 2018. It did not disclose the exact amount of rewards it would pay out.
-- submitted from IRC
The job cuts were revealed in paperwork filed on Thursday with US financial watchdog the SEC. The doomed staff will leave the business by the end of next June. They all work in Microsoft's sales teams and its Windows Phone hardware division. [...] We understand 900 people in the global sales unit have already learned of their fate.
As for the latest redundancies, here's the relevant sections of Microsoft's annual 10-K report to the SEC:
In addition to the elimination of 1,850 positions that were announced in May 2016, approximately 2,850 roles globally will be reduced during the year as an extension of the earlier plan, and these actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017.
As of June 30, 2016, we employed approximately 114,000 people on a full-time basis, 63,000 in the U.S. and 51,000 internationally. Of the total employed people, 38,000 were in operations, including manufacturing, distribution, product support, and consulting services; 37,000 in product research and development; 29,000 in sales and marketing; and 10,000 in general and administration.
While the layoffs affect just 2.5 per cent of Microsoft's workforce, they are very precise and telling cuts: Windows-powered mobiles managed to seize just three per cent of the global smartphone market, and now Redmond is dismantling that failed operation.
In a study published in Scientific Reports, scientists discovered impressive abundance and diversity among the creatures living on the seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ)—an area in the equatorial Pacific Ocean being targeted for deep-sea mining. The study, lead authored by Diva Amon, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), found that more than half of the species they collected were new to science, reiterating how little is known about life on the seafloor in this region.
"We found that this exploration claim area harbors one of the most diverse communities of megafauna [animals over 2 cm in size] to be recorded at abyssal depths in the deep sea," said Amon.
The deep sea is where the next frontier of mining will take place. A combination of biological, chemical and geological processes has led to the formation of high concentrations of polymetallic "manganese" nodules on the deep seafloor in the CCZ—an area nearly the size of the contiguous United States. These nodules are potentially valuable sources of copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, among other metals, which has led to an interest in mining this region. All of the potential polymetallic-nodule exploration contracts that have been granted in the Pacific are in this region, according to the International Seabed Authority.
[...] The preliminary data from these surveys showed that more animals live on the seafloor in areas with higher nodule abundance. Further, the majority of the megafaunal diversity also appears to be dependent on the polymetallic nodules themselves, and thus are likely to be negatively affected by mining impacts.
"The biggest surprises of this study were the high diversity, the large numbers of new species and the fact that more than half of the species seen rely on the nodules—the very part of the habitat that will be removed during the mining process," said Amon.
Exploitation plans are pushing ahead even though knowledge of the seafloor ecosystem in this region is still limited.
SovereignMan.com has an article regarding a woman's interaction with US Customs and Border Protection:
According to the published case files, she was frisked, and then ordered to squat so that a drug-sniffing dog could check out her nether regions.
Apparently the dog liked what he smelled, because Ms. Doe was then taken to yet another room, ordered to pull down her pants, and crouch.
At that point an agent from Customs and Border Protection "inspected her anus with a flashlight."
She was then ordered to lean backwards in a crouched position, after which another agent inserted a speculum into her vagina to search for drugs.
Another agent then "parted Ms. Doe's vulva with her hand, pressed her fingers into Ms. Doe's vagina, and visually examined her genitalia with a flashlight."
They then took her to a hospital for a further 6 hours of involuntary testing, which included forcing her to have a bowel movement as they all watched, plus X-rays, CT scans, and more.
[...] Ms. Doe was "brutally probed against her will" for hours and hours without judicial oversight, due process, or even reasonable suspicion. And they found nothing.
[...] They told her that if she signed a consent form, retroactively giving her permission to be abused and violated, that the government would pay for all the tests and various medical expenses.
But if she didn't sign the consent form, she'd have to pay for them all herself.
Ms. Doe refused to sign, and the United States government sent her a bill for more than $5,000, essentially demanding that she pay for her own sexual assault.
Emotionally shattered she went home feeling like a rape victim. She sued.
[...] Finally, as of a few days ago, the case has been settled. And the US government agreed to pay Ms. Doe $475,000.
A 64-year-old man in Orlando was handcuffed, arrested, strip searched, and spent hours in jail after officers mistook the glaze from his doughnut for crystal meth.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that, after pulling Daniel Rushing over for failure to stop and speeding, Cpl. Shelby Riggs-Hopkins noticed "a rock like substance" on the floorboard of the car. "I recognized through my eleven years of training and experience as a law enforcement officer the substance to be some sort of narcotic", she wrote in her report.
The officers asked if they could search Rushing's vehicle and he agreed. [...] [Rushing said] "They tried to say it was crack cocaine at first, then they said, 'No, it's meth, crystal meth'."
[...] The officers conducted two roadside drug tests on the particles and both came back positive for an illegal substance. A state crime lab made further tests weeks later and cleared him. Rushing says he was locked up for about 10 hours before his release on $2,500 bond.
A cop who can't identify doughnut residue? What is the world coming to?
Gmane is in danger of disappearing. It's an important gateway between mailing lists and usenet. The Gmane sysadmin is apparently getting too many threats, and it has made him ill. Here's his announcement and ensuing discussion.
Is there anyone that could help gmane stay alive?
Wikipedia summarizes Gmane as follows:
Gmane (pronounced "mane") is an e-mail to news gateway. It allows users to access electronic mailing lists as if they were Usenet newsgroups, and also through a variety of web interfaces. Gmane is an archive; it never expires messages (unless explicitly requested by users). Gmane also supports importing list postings made prior to a list's inclusion on the service.
Alexa reports Gmane has a global rank of 12,037 (up 280).
[At the time of accepting this story, I am getting a 523 error when attempting to reach http://gmane.org/ --Ed.]
"He's made 18,000 parachute jumps, helped train some of the world's most elite skydivers, done some of the stunts for Ironman 3. But the plunge Luke Aikins knows he'll be remembered for is the one he's making without a parachute. Or a wingsuit.
Or anything, really, other than the clothes he'll be wearing when he jumps out of an airplane at 25,000 feet [7600 m] this weekend, attempting to become the first person to land safely on the ground in a net."
[...] "To me, I'm proving that we can do stuff that we don't think we can do if we approach it the right way," he answers.
"I've got 18,000 jumps with a parachute, so why not wear one this time?" he muses almost to himself. "But I'm trying to show that it can be done."
Several French news organizations, including Le Monde, BFM-TV, La Croix, Europe 1, and France 24, are changing their policies relating to the broadcast and publishing of terrorist names and photographs. Le Monde's director argued that publishing the information amounted to "posthumous glorification":
Several French news organisations have said they will no longer publish photographs of people responsible for terrorist killings, to avoid bestowing "posthumous glorification".
Le Monde published an editorial after the latest attack, the murder of an elderly priest in a church near Rouen by two men claiming allegiance to Islamic State. Under the headline "Resisting the strategy of hate", Le Monde argued on Wednesday that all elements of society had to be involved in the struggle against terrorism, and that media organisations had a special role to play.
"The sites and newspapers that produce this information cannot excuse themselves from self-examination on several fronts. Since Isis terrorism first appeared, Le Monde has changed its practices several times," the newspaper said.
It first chose not to republish images from Isis propaganda documents. Then, after the attack in Nice on 14 July, when a truck drove through crowds enjoying the Bastille Day public holiday, Le Monde said it had decided to "no longer publish photographs of the perpetrators of killings, to avoid the potential effect of posthumous glorification".
France Télévisions [sic] resisted following suit, with the executive director of news saying, "we must resist this race towards self-censorship and grand declarations of intention."
There have been similar calls in the U.S. to pressure media organizations to self-censor the names and photographs of mass killers, culminating in the formation of a campaign called No Notoriety, founded by the parents of one of the victims of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.
Getty Images, one of the largest providers of commercial stock photos, is now facing a $1 Billion dollar (US) copyright infringement lawsuit after being caught selling a photographer's work without permission.
According to the story at art and culture web site Hyperallergic.com:
In December, documentary photographer Carol Highsmith received a letter from Getty Images accusing her of copyright infringement for featuring one of her own photographs on her own website. It demanded payment of $120. This was how Highsmith came to learn that stock photo agencies Getty and Alamy had been sending similar threat letters and charging fees to users of her images, which she had donated to the Library of Congress for use by the general public at no charge.
Highsmith has filed a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against both Alamy and Getty for "gross misuse" of 18,755 of her photographs.
Incidentally, while you're at Hyperallergic.com, be sure to check out From a Pineapple to a Six-Pack, 23 Buildings that Resemble the Things They Sell.
The legal complaint is available on Document Cloud.
Also covered at: Ars Technica .
Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?
Do any of you have any noteworthy experiences where knowledge of math helped you in an unusual way?
Two Soylentils wrote in with information about plans for a new nuclear reactor in the UK.
After years of delays, approval is likely imminent for what would become the UK's first new nuclear power plant in decades:
Energy giant EDF will make its long-awaited final investment decision on the planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, ending doubts over the £18bn project. The French firm's board meets in Paris on Thursday and is expected to give the go-ahead for the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK for a generation. UK unions have said they would warmly welcome such a decision, much-delayed, saying workers were "raring to go" – with 25,000 jobs set to be created.
Environmental groups including Greenpeace have criticised any go-ahead, calling for investment in homegrown renewable energy like offshore wind. Fresh criticism is also expected over the government's promise to pay EDF £92.50 for each megawatt hour of energy it generates.
Hinkley Point C (HPC) would provide 7% of the UK's electricity over its estimated lifetime of 60 years and is scheduled to begin generating power in 2025, several years later than planned.
Also at The Conversation.
The BBC reports that
Plans to build the first new UK nuclear plant in 20 years have suffered an unexpected delay after the government postponed a final decision until the early autumn.
French firm EDF, which is financing most of the £18bn Hinkley Point project in Somerset, approved the funding at a board meeting.
Contracts were to be signed on Friday.
But Business Secretary Greg Clark has said the government will "consider carefully" before backing it.
The proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset County in southwestern England. According to an Eagle Radio report,
The Government has said it will not make a final decision on whether to build a new nuclear power plant in Somerset until Autumn [...]
Novel observations by an international group of researchers with the CanariCam instrument on the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS provide new information about magnetic fields around the active nucleus of the galaxy Cygnus A. This is the first time that polarimetric observations in the middle infrared region of the spectrum have been made of the nucleus of an active galaxy.
Cygnus A is an elliptical galaxy around 600 million light years from the Earth, which has a supermassive black hole at its centre. It is one of the brightest sources of radio waves in the sky and was featured in Contact, the famous science fiction novel by Carl Sagan, which was made into a film. It has an active galactic nucleus, which means that the black hole is "swallowing" material from its surroundings. When this occurs, strong electromagnetic radiation is produced, as well as large jets of particles, which are emitted from the galactic nucleus at near the speed of light, traveling beyond the edge of the galaxy and reaching three hundred thousand light years into the intergalactic medium.
This is the first time that polarimetric observations in the middle infrared region of the spectrum have been made of the nucleus of an active galaxy. "The combination of the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) and CanariCam offers unique capabilities for the observation of active galaxies using polarimetric techniques in the middle infrared," explains Enrique López Rodríguez, a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin (EE UU) and the first author of this study, published in the Astrophysical Journal. "There is no other comparable instrument of this kind," he says. "And no such instruments are expected until the next decade, because the instruments that are being developed now cannot make polarimetric measurements."
Polarimetry is a technique to observe the intensity and the orientation of electromagnetic waves. "If the observed radiation is polarized in a given sense and with a given dependence on wavelength, we can obtain information about the physical mechanisms that produce the polarization. This technique helps us squeeze out the last drop of information from each photon picked up by the GTC," says López Rodríguez.
"Polarimetry," he adds, "lets us eliminate from the observations all the light that is not affected by the magnetic field in the active nucleus, so that we can filter out everything that comes from other sources, such as the galaxy itself, or background stars. This gives us a much higher contrast when we observe the jets and the dust in the galaxy, while studying the influence of the magnetic field on both of them."
The crime rate, especially drug crime, decreases significantly when more 16-44 year olds have access to affordable Vocational Education and Training, (VET) according to a new University of Melbourne report.
Drug crime rate decreased 13 per cent when more people had access to a publicly-funded place in VET. The research also recorded a five percent and 11 per cent decrease in personal and property crime respectively, including assault, theft and burglary.
Report author, Dr Cain Polidano from the Melbourne Institute found that the extra public funding of VET (TAFE and private colleges) reduced the costs of crime.
A new study finds that a commonly used insecticide kills much of the sperm created by male drone honey bees, one reason why the bees are dwindling.
The class of insecticide called neonicotinoids didn't kill the drones. But bees that ate treated pollen produced 39 percent less live sperm than those that didn't, according to a controlled experiment by Swiss researchers published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
It essentially acted as an accidental contraceptive on the drones, whose main job is to mate with the queen—but not one that prevented complete reproduction, just making it tougher, said Lars Straub, lead author of the study and a doctoral student and researcher at the University of Bern. Drones, which are the product of unfertilized eggs, don't gather nectar or pollen and don't sting; they die after mating.
Both the drones that ate insecticide-treated pollen and those not exposed to the chemicals produced about the same amount of sperm. The difference was clear when the researchers put the sperm under the microscope: The bee that didn't have pesticide in its pollen produced on average 1.98 million living sperm, the one with neonicotinoids in its food about 1.2 million.