2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-01-18 10:14:09 UTC
2019-01-21 12:14:27 UTC
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away from the the fictional world of blockbusting movies, robotic exoskeletons offer more prosaic and useful help for humans.
The military has been in on the act for years, using them to help soldiers carry more weight for longer periods of time. Meanwhile manufacturers have been busy creating robotic suits to give mobility to people with disabilities.
But now exoskeletons are becoming an important part of the scene in more conventional workplaces, mainly because of their unique offering.
"Exoskeletons act as a bridge between fully-manual labour and robotic systems. You get the brains of people in the body of a robot," says Dan Kara, research director at ABI Research.
"But there's more to it than that. You can tie the use of exoskeletons to business benefits that are very easy to quantify. The main one is a reduction in work-related injuries, and we know that outside the common cold, back injury is the main reason people are off work."
Can exoskeletons defeat union rules?
Rocket Lab's Electron rocket is designed to carry small satellites to orbit, targeting a market niche microsatellite owners say is currently under-served by larger, more expensive boosters. Using nine first stage engines and a single upper stage powerplant, the rocket can deliver up to 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of payload to at 310-mile-high (500-kilometer) sun-synchronous polar orbit.
The upcoming launch will be the second by an Electron rocket. The Electron's inaugural test flight May 25 reached space after a successful first stage burn and second stage ignition, but a data reception error with ground tracking equipment prompted an early termination of the mission for safety reasons.
[...] Backed by U.S. and New Zealand venture capital funds, and investment from the New Zealand government and U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Rocket Lab says it will sell future Electron rocket missions for $4.9 million per flight. The Electron is sized to provide a dedicated ride for small satellites that today must ride piggyback on bigger launchers.
According to SpaceFlightNow's Launch Schedule: "Launch window: 0130-0530 GMT on 8th (8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST on 7th/8th)
Previously: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine
Moon Express and Rocket Lab Team Up for 2017 Lunar Mission
New Companies Begin to Target the Micro-Satellite Market
"Planet" Purchases 3 Launches from "Rocket Lab"
Rocket Lab Makes Suborbital Launch From New Zealand
Google says its AlphaGo Zero artificial intelligence program has triumphed at chess against world-leading specialist software within hours of teaching itself the game from scratch. The firm's DeepMind division says that it played 100 games against Stockfish 8, and won or drew all of them.
The research has yet to be peer reviewed. But experts already suggest the achievement will strengthen the firm's position in a competitive sector. "From a scientific point of view, it's the latest in a series of dazzling results that DeepMind has produced," the University of Oxford's Prof Michael Wooldridge told the BBC. "The general trajectory in DeepMind seems to be to solve a problem and then demonstrate it can really ramp up performance, and that's very impressive."
"A Volkswagen compliance executive who pleaded guilty in the US for his role in the company's $US30 billion ($40 billion) emissions cheating scandal has been sentenced to seven years in prison."
Ars Technica reports:
On Wednesday, a US District judge in Detroit sentenced Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen executive, to seven years in prison for his role in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal of 2015. Schmidt was also ordered to pay a criminal penalty of $400,000, according to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. The prison term and the fine together represent the maximum sentence that Schmidt could have received under the plea deal he signed in August.
Schmidt, a German citizen who lived in Detroit as an emissions compliance executive for VW, was arrested in Miami on vacation last January. In August, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to making a false statement under the Clean Air Act. Schmidt’s plea deal stated that the former executive could face up to seven years in prison and between $40,000 and $400,000 in fines.
Last week, Schmidt’s attorneys made a last-minute bid requesting a lighter sentence for Schmidt: 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine. Schmidt also wrote a letter to the judge, which surfaced over the weekend, in which the executive said he felt “misused” by his own company and claimed that higher-ranked VW executives coached him on a script to help him lie to a California Air Resources Board (CARB) official.
Also at NYT.
Astronomers have discovered the most distant "supermassive" black hole known to science.
The matter-munching sinkhole is a whopping 13 billion light-years away, so far that we see it as it was a mere 690 million years after the Big Bang. But at about 800 million times the mass of our Sun, it managed to grow to a surprisingly large size such a short time after the origin of the Universe. The find is described in the journal Nature [DOI: 10.1038/nature25180] [DX].
This relic from the early Universe is busily devouring material at the centre of a galaxy - marking it out as a so-called quasar.
Also at Sky & Telescope.
StartCom customers received word that the company would close down as a certification authority due to the protective action browser manufacturers took against it, over a year ago. The news of the company closing down had been published November 16th on their website, but went unnoticed until now.
StartCom has played a critical role as a Certification Authority in data security and electronic commerce by providing an independent "trusted third party" guarantee all these years.
Around a year ago the majority of the browser makers decided to distrust StartCom, remove the StartCom root certificates from their root stores and not accept newly end entity certificates issued by StartCom.
Despite the efforts made during this time by StartCom, up to now, there has not been any clear indication from the browsers that StartCom would be able to regain the trust. Therefore, the owners of StartCom have decided to terminate StartCom as a Certification Authority (CA).
From January 1st, 2018, StartCom will not issue any new end entity certificate and will only provide validation services through its OCSP and CRL services for two years from January 1st, 2018. Starting 2020, all remaining valid certificates will be revoked.
StartCom wants to thank all of our customers and partners during these years for their support.
Disclaimer: Early on, SoylentNews used StartCom certs.
Politico reports on a data theft from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) by former employees who now work for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC):
Staffers for Senate Republicans’ campaign arm seized information on more than 200,000 donors from the House GOP campaign committee over several months this year by breaking into its computer system, three sources with knowledge of the breach told POLITICO.
[...] Multiple NRSC staffers, who previously worked for the NRCC, used old database login information to gain access to House Republicans’ donor lists this year.
The donor list that was breached is among the NRCC’s most valuable assets, containing not only basic contact information like email addresses and phone numbers but personal information that could be used to entice donors to fork over cash — information on top issues and key states of interest to different people, the names of family members, and summaries of past donation history. The list has helped the NRCC raise over $77 million this year to defend the House in 2018.
Ads are just a fact of life in mobile apps. You can't completely avoid them, but there are some ad implementations that are so annoying that Google has explicitly disallowed them from the Play Store. Remember Airpush? The current advertising scourge is ad-infused lock screens, which have shown up in previously safe apps like ES File Explorer, Peel, and Hotspot Shield VPN. Google has finally listened to our pleading, and lock screen ads are no longer allowed in the Play Store.
Technically, the new policy is a bit more nuanced than "no ads on the lock screen." Here's the new section on Google's developer monetization page.
Unless the exclusive purpose of the app is that of a lockscreen, apps may not introduce ads or features that monetize the locked display of a device.
So, an app that bills itself as a photo editor, VPN, or file explorer cannot also cram a new lock screen on your device that's infested with ads. However, an app that is actually a lock screen can still monetize with ads. Presumably, you know what you're getting when you install a lock screen app.
The Snapdragon 845 is a large step in terms of SoC architectures as it's the first to employ ARM's DynamiQ CPU cluster organization. Quickly explained, DynamIQ enables the various different CPU cores within an SoC to be hosted within the same cluster and cache hierarchy, as opposed to having separate discrete clusters with no shared cache between them (with coherency instead happening over an interconnect such as ARM's CCI). This major transition is probably the largest to date that we've seen in modern mobile smartphone ARM consumer SoCs.
[...] The Kryo 385 gold/performance cluster runs at up to 2.8GHz, which is a 14% frequency increase over the 2.45GHz of the Snapdragon 835's CPU core. But we also have to remember that given that the new CPU cores are likely based on A75's we should be expecting IPC gains of up to 22-34% based on use-cases, bringing the overall expected performance improvement to 25-39%. Qualcomm promises a 25-30% increase so we're not far off from ARM's projections.
The silver/efficiency cluster is running at 1.8GHz, this is clocked slightly slower than the A53's on the Snapdragon 835 however the maximum clocks of the efficiency cluster is mainly determined by where the efficiency curve of the performance cluster intersects. Nevertheless the efficiency cores promise 15% boost in performance compared to its predecessor.
The Adreno 630 GPU should provide up to 30% better performance than the Snapdragon 835's Adreno 540 at the same level of power consumption. Snapdragon 845 devices can record (encode) 2160p60 10-bit H.265 video, compared to 2160p30 for Snapdragon 835.
A government watchdog is warning that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the long-awaited successor to the Hubble that's been beset by schedule snafus and cost overruns, might face further delays. NASA announced in September it had pushed back the launch date of the JWST from late 2018 to some time in the spring of 2019 due to testing delays partly blamed on Hurricane Harvey's impact on Texas' Gulf Coast in August.
On Wednesday, lawmakers on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee were told it could take even longer to launch the world's most powerful telescope. "More delays are possible given the risks associated with the work ahead and the level of schedule reserves that are now (below) what's recommended," said Cristina Chaplain, director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management for the Government Accountability Office.
[...] Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science missions, told lawmakers he expects the space agency will be able to meet the spring 2019 schedule. "I believe it's achievable," he said.
About 17 million babies worldwide live in areas where outdoor air pollution is six times the recommended limit, and their brain development is at risk, the U.N. children's agency (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.
The majority of these babies – more than 12 million – are in South Asia, it said, in a study of children under one-year-old, using satellite imagery to identify worst-affected regions.
"Not only do pollutants harm babies' developing lungs – they can permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures," said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.
The links between air pollution and dain bramage are not yet conclusive, according to the report's author.
Related: Air Quality Unsafe for 90% of People In Urban Centres
80 Percent of World's City Dwellers Breathing Bad Air: UN
Study Links Pregnant Women's Exposure to Air Pollution to Shorter Telomeres in Babies
Lancet Report Says Pollution Caused 9 Million Premature Deaths in 2015
Air Pollution Linked to Osteoporosis and Bone Fractures
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro looked to the world of digital currency to circumvent U.S.-led financial sanctions, announcing on Sunday the launch of the "petro" backed by oil reserves to shore up a collapsed economy. The leftist leader offered few specifics about the currency launch or how the struggling OPEC member would pull off such a feat, but he declared to cheers that "the 21st century has arrived!"
"Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency," backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves, Maduro said in his regular Sunday televised broadcast, a five-hour showcase of Christmas songs and dancing. The petro, he said, would help Venezuela "advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade."
Opposition leaders derided the announcement, which they said needed congressional approval, and some cast doubt on whether the digital currency would ever see the light of day in the midst of turmoil. The real currency, the bolivar, is in freefall, and the country is sorely lacking in basic needs like food and medicine.
The Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet- and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO) has begun operations at the Very Large Telescope in Chile:
A new exoplanet-hunting instrument, attached to one of the world's largest telescopes, has seen its first glimpse of the sky, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced today. The Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO) detects exoplanets by measuring shifts in the spectrum of light from stars caused by the gravity of planets tugging on them. For this technique, the signal of the stellar wobble is bigger for more massive planets in closer orbits. ESPRESSO, with improved spectral resolution, a wider wavelength range, and fixed to ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in Chile, hopes to discern the fainter tugs of planets with Earth-like masses and orbits.
"It's the most mature facility in the world of this kind," says astronomer Didier Queloz of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, co-discoverer of the first exoplanet around a normal star in 1995. [...] The previous generation of spectrographs could reach stellar wobbles of around 1 meter per second—a slow walking pace. Jupiter, for example, shifts the sun by 13 meters per second, but Earth's much weaker tug only achieves a velocity of 9 centimeters per second. ESPRESSO, at the forefront of the new generation, aims to put Earth-like planets within reach, with a sensitivity of 10 centimeters per second or even slower. "We're the first to be mad enough to try to achieve that," says lead scientist Francesco Pepe of the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
An exact twin of Earth is probably out of reach, but ESPRESSO should be able to detect super-Earths three or four times heavier than Earth that orbit sun-like stars. It may also detect Earth-sized planets around smaller stars, where a weaker tug achieves more movement.
ESPRESSO is roughly three times more sensitive than HARPS. The CODEX spectrograph attached to the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) should be about five times more sensitive than ESPRESSO. The ELT's first light is scheduled for 2024.
Also at Space.com.
A rare public spat in the technology industry escalated on Tuesday when Google said it would block its video streaming application YouTube from two Amazon.com Inc devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware.
[...] In a statement, Google said, "Amazon doesn't carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn't make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest's latest products. "Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV," Google said. "We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon."
[...] Amazon said in a statement, "Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website." It said it hoped to resolve the issue with Google as soon as possible but customers could access YouTube through the internet - not an app - on the devices in the meantime.
Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video has come to the Apple TV.
Recently published in Journal of Social and Political Psychology by Thomas F. Pettigrew seeks to understand the psychological profile of Trump supporters:
The Trump movement is not singular within the United States (the Know Nothing movement in the 1850s, the Wallace movement in the 1960s, and the more recent Tea Party Movement). Moreover, other democracies have seen similar movements (e.g., Austria's Freedom Party, Belgium's Vlaams Blok, France's National Front, Germany's Alternative for Germany Party (AfD), and Britain's U.K. Independence Party (UKIP).
In virtually all these cases, the tinder especially involved male nativists and populists who were less educated than the general population. But this core was joined by other types of voters as well. Five highly interrelated characteristics stand out that are central to a social psychological analysis – authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, outgroup prejudice, the absence of intergroup contact and relative deprivation.No one factor describes Trump's supporters. But an array of factors – many of them reflecting five major social psychological phenomena can help to account for this extraordinary political event: authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, prejudice, relative deprivation, and intergroup contact.