2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-02-19 18:55:26 UTC
2019-02-21 03:17:22 UTC
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As you might recall, in an earlier story we noted that SoylentNews' Editor-in-Chief, janrinok, was scheduled for a medical procedure.
I have just received word that there were some (not totally unanticipated, but thought to be a very unlikely) complications and the expected 3 day hospital stay has now lasted over a week. In his own words:
No idea what will happen next is anybody's guess. My first objective is to be well enough to get home again but that looks like being the end of the week at the earliest.
He seemed to be in good spirits. In his inimitable style of humor, he noted the internet connection available to him in Hospital would lie in the bottom-most tier of our current poll!
I am torn in revealing personal details that were shared with me, and wish to not sound overly alarmist. I'll just leave here that I am reminded of a saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
JR has tirelessly (and tiredly, too) gone over and above in support of this site -- please keep him in your thoughts and, if you are of a mind to, your prayers. --martyb
The Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) is NASA's next planned flagship telescope following the James Webb Space Telescope, and a direct successor to Hubble covering the 0.1 μm (far ultraviolet) to 5 μm (mid-infrared) wavelengths. It may launch with either an 8-meter mirror or a larger 15-meter mirror. The latter would have required the Space Launch System (SLS) Block 2's large payload fairing, but now SpaceX's Big "Falcon" Rocket (BFR) is in contention:
Conceptualized to follow in the footsteps of NASA's current space telescope expertise and (hopefully) to learn from the many various mistakes made by their contractors, the LUVOIR (shorthand for Large UV/Optical/IR Surveyor) concept is currently grouped into two different categories, A and B. A is a full-scale, uncompromised telescope with an unfathomably vast 15-meter primary mirror and a sunshade with an area anywhere from 5000 to 20000 square meters (1-4 acres). B is a comparatively watered-down take on the broadband surveyor telescope, with a much smaller 8-meter primary mirror, likely accompanied by a similarly reduced sunshade (and price tag, presumably).
[...] The reason LUVOIR's conceptual design was split into two sizes is specifically tied to the question of launch, with LUVOIR B's 8m size cap dictated by the ~5 meter-diameter payload fairings prevalent and readily available in today's launch industry.
LUVOIR A's 15-meter mirror, however, would require an equally massive payload fairing. At least at the start, LUVOIR A was conceptualized with NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) Block 2 as the launch vehicle, a similarly conceptual vehicle baselined with a truly massive 8.4 or 10-meter diameter payload fairing, much larger than anything flown to this day. However, the utterly unimpressive schedule performance of the SLS Block 1 development – let alone Block 1B or 2 – has undoubtedly sown more than a little doubt over the expectation of its availability for launching LUVOIR and other huge spacecraft. As a result, NASA has reportedly funded the exploration of alternative launch vehicles for the A version of LUVOIR – SpaceX's Cargo BFR variant, in this case.
While only a maximum of 9 meters in diameter, the baselined cargo spaceship's (BFS Cargo) payload bay has been estimated to have a usable volume of approximately 1500 cubic meters, comparing favorably to SLS' 8.4 and 10-meter fairings with ~1000 to ~1700 cubic meters.
Submitted via IRC for BoyceMagooglyMonkey
MoviePass is rolling out peak pricing, its own version of surge pricing that will charge customers more to see popular movies during what the company considers "high demand" times.
The company is looking to raise another $1.2 billion by selling stock and debt. But if MoviePass wants to survive, it also needs to start losing less money on its subscribers, and fast.
That's where peak pricing comes in. MoviePass was vague on the details when it teased peak pricing in late June, and it hardly cleared things up in an email to users today (July 5).
"Peak Pricing goes into effect when there's high demand for a movie or showtime," MoviePass wrote in its email. "You may be asked to pay a small additional fee depending on the level of demand." Movies currently experiencing peak pricing will be marked with a red circle containing a white lightening bolt; movies growing in demand that "could enter Peak Pricing soon" will get a gray version of the icon.
The Center for American Progress reports
Patagonia will continue its record of encouraging its workers and customers to be politically engaged by closing its doors on Election Day 2018, the Washington Post reports.
Citing low voter participation and its own history of advancing environmental causes, the outdoor retailer decided giving its workers a chance to vote was the right thing to do. Company spokeswoman Corley Kenna told the Post, "What's the most impactful thing we can do in an election? That's to get people to vote."
This isn't the first time the outdoor retailer has made Election Day a holiday for its workers. The company also closed its doors on Election Day 2016 as part of its "Vote Our Planet" campaign. Patagonia again cited low voter turnout across the country as the basis for its decision and said that "America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change."
[...] During the 2016 election, it hosted political events in its own stores, inviting customers to talk environmentalism and the role of politics in keeping the planet healthy.
Patagonia also used the opportunity to help customers register to vote. Its "Vote Our Planet" campaign was aimed at turning out environmentally conscious voters in races at every level of government.
Rhino embryos created in a lab are raising hopes that high-tech assisted reproduction may help save the northern white rhino, the most endangered mammal in the world. [...] The last male, a rhino named Sudan, died in March. But before the males died off, wildlife experts collected and froze sperm. Now, in the journal Nature Communications, scientists say they successfully have used this stored sperm [open, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04959-2] [DX] to fertilize eggs taken from a closely related subspecies, the southern white rhinoceros.
The resulting hybrid embryos started to develop in a lab dish. Two were frozen for later implantation into a surrogate rhino, although the researchers note in their paper that "the embryo transfer procedure has yet to be developed and validated in rhinoceroses." Still, the researchers are hopeful that once they get this working with hybrid embryos, they can use the same techniques to produce pure northern white rhino embryos.
To make those, they'll need eggs from the two remaining northern white rhinos. Jan Stejskal, of the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic — where rhinos Najin and Fatu were born — says the team has requested permission to obtain the eggs, "but it's not granted yet." Still, he hopes the research team can go to Kenya to collect them by the end of the year.
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666
If Lowell Observatory's Gerard van Belle gets his way, you'll soon be watching an exoplanet cross the face of its star, hundreds of light-years from the Earth. He can't show you that right now, but he should be able to when the new mirrors are installed at the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer in northern Arizona. They're arriving now and should soon start collecting starlight—and making it the highest-resolution optical telescope in the world.
Van Belle recently showed Ars around the gigantic instrument, which bears almost no resemblance to what a non-astronomer pictures when they hear the word "telescope." There are a couple of more traditional telescopes in dome-topped silos on site, including one built in 1920s in Ohio, where it spent the first few decades of its life.
The best way to improve imagery on these traditional scopes is to increase the diameter of the mirror catching light. But this has its limits—perfect mirrors can only be built so large.
[...] A bigger mirror provides two advantages: it catches more light (making fainter objects visible) and it produces a higher-resolution image. If you give up on the first advantage, you can go all in on the second by laying out a handful of small mirrors over a considerable distance. The total mirror area (and therefore light collection) won't be that great, but the tremendous diameter of the array cranks the resolution up to 11. That's the principle behind the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer, a Y-shaped installation with a functional diameter of up to 430 meters.
Related: Very Large Telescope Interferometer Captures Best Ever Image of Another Star (Antares)
Very Large Telescope's MUSE Instrument Studies the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field
Very Large Telescope's ESPRESSO Combines Light From All Four Unit Telescopes for the First Time
High-Resolution View Into The Infrared Universe
Very Large Telescope Captures First Direct Image of a Planet Being Formed
Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer Will Have Resolution of a 347-Meter Telescope for $200m
The Swarm Telescope Concept
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666
Drivers in England and Wales now have a direct line to police for ratting on their fellow motorists, thanks to a new national dash cam database.
Drivers can choose their region of England or Wales and send footage of accidents or illegal behaviour on the road directly to local police, as well as sending a witness statement that can then be used in court.
President Trump announced his selection of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be his second Supreme Court justice Monday night. Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the president said that what mattered to him was "not a judge's political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require."
"I am pleased to say that I have found, without a doubt, such a person," he said in announcing Kavanaugh's nomination. "There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," the president also said. The D.C. Circuit Appeals Court judge "has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and aproven commitment to equal justice under the law," the president continued. He's "a judge's judge, a true thought leader among his peers. He's a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style, universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time."
Kavanaugh thanked the president for the nomination, and in anticipating his coming meetings with senators on Capitol hill tomorrow, said, "I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic." He promised, "If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law."
Within a few days of Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement that he would retire from the court this summer, Mr. Trump had narrowed the field to four: Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge -- all young and all viewed as conservative. Ultimately, the president settled on Kavanaugh, the establishment favorite.
On the issue everyone wants to know about:
Kavanaugh has stated that he considers Roe v. Wade binding under the principle of stare decisis and would seek to uphold it, but has also ruled in favor of some restrictions for abortion.
In May 2006, Kavanaugh stated he "would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully" and that the issue of the legality of abortion has already "been decided by the Supreme Court". During the hearing, he stated that a right to an abortion has been found "many times", citing Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In October 2017, Kavanaugh joined an unsigned divided panel opinion which found that the Office of Refugee Resettlement could prevent an unaccompanied minor in its custody from obtaining an abortion. Days later, the en banc D.C. Circuit reversed that judgment, with Kavanaugh now dissenting. The D.C. Circuit's opinion was then itself vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Garza v. Hargan (2018).
Previously: SCOTUS's Justice Anthony Kennedy to Retire
A Russian Progress resupply and refueling craft launched Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, riding a Soyuz booster into orbit on a perfectly-timed departure that set the stage for an on-target docking with the International Space Station less than four hours later.
[...] A series of thruster firings by the Progress spaceship began in the first hour of the mission, with a major rocket burn around 44 minutes after liftoff to begin adjusting its orbit to match the path of the space station. The freighter completed an automated radar-guided link-up with the station's Pirs docking compartment at 0131 GMT Tuesday (9:31 p.m. EDT Monday), less than four hours after blastoff from Kazakhstan, and around eight minutes ahead of schedule.
[...] The two-orbit rendezvous was made possible by timing the Soyuz rocket's launch to an instant just before the space station sailed over the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
At the time of liftoff, the space station was orbiting over a point around 370 miles (595 kilometers) southwest of Baikonur. By the time the Progress supply ship reached orbit, the station was orbiting around 1,004 miles (1,615 kilometers) ahead of the cargo craft. All missions to the space station lift off as Earth's rotation brings the launch pad under the orbiting lab's ground track, but the outpost is usually located over a different part of the planet, forcing the visiting cargo or crew capsule to close a greater distance before docking.
Also at NASASpaceFlight.
Submitted via IRC for BoyceMagooglyMonkey_ and SoyGuest52256
Sony Pictures Entertainment endeavored to post a trailer for its limited-release film Khali the Killer on YouTube to encourage viewers to watch the movie on Blu-ray, on streaming platforms, and in select theaters. Instead, the company uploaded the film in its entirety—apparently by accident.
[...] Clocking in at a feature-length one hour and 30 minutes, the video has since been removed, but it stayed up for several hours. That was long enough to earn a heavily upvoted Reddit thread making fun of the error. "Another trailer that spoils the whole film," lamented Redditor GeraltForOverwatch in a comment with more than 15,000 upvotes. Other Reddit users shared the theory that it's actually a viral marketing effort for a film that isn't likely to attract much buzz otherwise. That's possible but unlikely given that Sony is still recovering from some embarrassing or damaging problems on the digital front—like the 2014 Sony Pictures hack that exposed thousands of employee social security numbers, emails, and more. Stunts like this would usually require sign-off from executive stakeholders at companies like this, and they probably wouldn't want to support any narrative about the company struggling digitally.
Also at BBC.
Honda is looking to set a new speed record. Their upgraded platform sports a 190-hp, 999cc engine and... can mow a lawn! Introducing the Mean Mower v2:
It sports a lightweight frame and the 1.0-liter I4 from a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP, which puts out about 190 horsepower. It also uses the Fireblade's clutch, ECU, six-speed transmission and LCD display.
But it doesn't look like a sport bike, it looks like a mower. To achieve that, Honda used the body panels, front end and grass box from a HF 2622 riding mower and fitted it over the chassis. The wildest part is that it can still cut grass, thanks to a cutter deck with carbon fiber blades, powered by electric motors and two batteries. Most of the rest of the Mean Mower was made from scratch, since this isn't exactly a common thing.
[...] Honda is targeting a max velocity of 150 mph this time around, a far cry from last record's 116.575-mph top speed.
[...] Sliding behind the wheel for the record attempt is Jess Hawkins, a kart and car racer who currently stunt-drives for the Fast & Furious Live touring show.
No word yet on when Honda plans to make its record attempt.
The GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook project has the goal of producing a PowerPC-based notebook which is as FOSS-friendly as possible and plans to eventually get the hardware declared to be "Open Source Hardware" as certified by the Open Source Hardware Association. The project has now reached phase One donation campaign Goal Reached!. The motherboard has now been designed and specced out by a professional electronic engineer.
After reaching the amount of 12600€, the electrical schematics will be delivered to us in a month by ACube Systems. The final design resulting from this phase will be made public as soon as possible.
After that, the next step will be to deliver the electrical schematics for the printed Circuit Board (PCB) in Gerber format. Then there will be production and delivery of five working prototypes, followed by hardware testing using software provided by the producer (ACube), and then finally pre- CE certification.
On June 20th, board members of the „Zwiebelfreunde" association in multiple German cities had their homes searched under the dubious pretence that they were „witnesses" while their computers and storage media were confiscated. The Augsburger CCC offshoot „OpenLab" also had to contend with a search of their premises.
[...] Just to recap: The mere presence of an e-mail address at a large free provider on a website has caused law enforcement authorities to deduce that a German association that helps raise funds for this provider must be connected to this website somehow. Although Zwiebelfreunde clearly has nothing to do with the operation of this provider, they were suspected anyway. That these searches and seizures were ordered by the Bavarian police shows either forensic incompetence at a very advanced stage, malicious intent or both.
Zwiebelfreunde provides "Managed Tor hosting solutions. Exit node sponsorship, private Tor bridges, hidden services hosting."
Jealous of America's ability to assign a single unique identifier to every single person, Australia is planning on creating single identity named myGovID to be used when interacting with government agencies. The first agency to use this new one ID for everything will be the Australian Tax Office which is currently in the throes of converting to Agile and escaping the clutches of Accenture.
The plan is to create a Trusted Digital Identity Framework which will keep individuals' data secure. No, really. For a start, the form used to register with the system will need to be taken to an Australia Post office so physical identity documents can be identified. There is no word on whether or not Australia Post will take the information for its own MyPost system for which the government has thrown millions at with no benefit seen to date other than to create yet another online store of data to be cracked by thieves. This is yet another uncosted project being delivered by the same government who brought their country a fibre network build with copper.
Fortunately for Australians this project is in the hands on the inept Digital Transformation Agency which has a reputation for non-delivery and had a recent name change to remove itself from projects undertaken in the name of the DTO which suffered from a lack of focus and neglect. Pundits are claiming that this will be the next iteration of the loudly lambasted Australia Card. The DTA expect that the government will move almost all services online in the next seven years, which should say everything that needs to be said about the DTO, err DTA or whatever they name it to next time.
NY Times (primary source), Vox, Gizdomo and some others report over a resolution to encourage breast-feeding, which was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.
[...] American officials surprised international delegates at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in May when they opposed a widely popular resolution to promote breastfeeding, according to a Sunday report by Andrew Jacobs for the New York Times. Specifically, they pushed to remove language asking governments to "protect, promote, and support breast-feeding." They also took issue with a passage that called for policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that may harm children.
It appears that the administration of President Donald Trump sided with corporate interests — the $70 billion infant formula industry — over the health and well-being of kids around the globe. The baby food industry is primarily based in the US and Europe.
The Americans were so ardent in their opposition that they made serious threats to Ecuadorian delegates, who were going to introduce the resolution. According to the Times, the Americans said if Ecuador didn't drop the proposal, "Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid."
The resolution ultimately made its way through, as a result of Russian intervention. "We feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world," a Russian delegate told the Times. The US did not make the same threats to Russia as it had to Ecuador, and the resolution was passed mostly in its original form.