2022-01-01 06:02:19 ..
2022-06-30 14:20:41 UTC
2022-07-01 01:52:53 UTC --fnord666
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The International Space Station sometimes has to shift its path to stay in the right orbit or to avoid debris (like it did last week). Usually, the ISS crew calls on Russian equipment to provide the thrust for the adjustments, but NASA tried to use a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft in a "reboost" test on Monday. It didn't go as planned.
Cygnus-17 was supposed to fire its engine for a little over 5 minutes, but the firing aborted after just 5 seconds. In a statement on Monday, NASA said the "the cause for the abort is understood and under review," but didn't elaborate on what happened.
The ISS flies in a low Earth orbit, and the planet's atmosphere is constantly dragging on it. Regular reboosts help the station stay in orbit. "The reboost is designed to provide Cygnus with an enhanced capability for station operations as a standard service for NASA," the space agency said.
[...] SpaceX founder Elon Musk suggested in February that SpaceX's Dragon capsules could also handle reboost duties if needed.
Two bills attempting to reduce the power of Internet monopolies are currently being debated in Congress: S. 2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act; and S. 2710, the Open App Markets Act. Reducing the power to tech monopolies would do more to "fix" the Internet than any other single action, and I am generally in favor of them both. (The Center for American Progress wrote a good summary and evaluation of them. I have written in support of the bill that would force Google and Apple to give up their monopolies on their phone app stores.)
There is a significant problem, though. Both bills have provisions that could be used to break end-to-end encryption.
Let's start with S. 2992. Sec. 3(c)(7)(A)(iii) would allow a company to deny access to apps installed by users, where those app makers "have been identified [by the Federal Government] as national security, intelligence, or law enforcement risks." That language is far too broad. [...]
Sec. 3(c)(7)(A)(vi) states that there shall be no liability for a platform "solely" because it offers "end-to-end encryption." This language is too narrow. The word "solely" suggests that offering end-to-end encryption could be a factor in determining liability, provided that it is not the only reason. [...]
In Sec. 2(a)(2), the definition of business user excludes any person who "is a clear national security risk." This term is undefined, and as such far too broad. It can easily be interpreted to cover any company that offers an end-to-end encrypted alternative, or a service offered in a country whose privacy laws forbid disclosing data in response to US court-ordered surveillance. [...]
Finally, under Sec. 3(b)(2)(B), platforms have an affirmative defense for conduct that would otherwise violate the Act if they do so in order to "protect safety, user privacy, the security of nonpublic data, or the security of the covered platform." This language is too vague, and could be used to deny users the ability to use competing services that offer better security/privacy than the incumbent platform—particularly where the platform offers subpar security in the name of "public safety." [...]
S. 2710 has similar problems. Sec 7. (6)(B) contains language specifying that the bill does not "require a covered company to interoperate or share data with persons or business users that...have been identified by the Federal Government as national security, intelligence, or law enforcement risks." This would mean that Apple could ignore the prohibition against private APIs, and deny access to otherwise private APIs, for developers of encryption products that have been publicly identified by the FBI. That is, end-to-end encryption products.
I want those bills to pass, but I want those provisions cleared up so we don't lose strong end-to-end encryption in our attempt to reign in the tech monopolies.
If you are a US citizen, just in case you want to express your opinion, don't forget that Senators love to hear from their constituents.
Humans have known for thousands of years that their urine is an excellent fertilizer for crops. It contains phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium—many of the same ingredients as commercial fertilizers. But because of the squeamishness associated with using urine to grow crops, its use has been limited. [...]
The first step in the experiment involved renaming urine because its common name was considered offensive. They settled on Oga. Next, they separated the farmers into two groups; one ran their farms in the traditional way, the other fertilized their wheat using Oga. Over two growing seasons, crop yields were measured for both groups. The Oga for the second group of 27 farmers was provided by the farmers themselves, who were taught how to pasteurize, store and dilute their urine for use as fertilizer. They also added small amounts of animal manure.
The data collected from the farms showed that those that had been fertilized using Oga produced on average 30% more grain than the traditional farms. The researchers note that the differences were so great that other women in the region began emulating those in the experiment. Two years after the experiment, they found that more than a thousand women farmers were using Oga to fertilize their crops.
Moussa, Hannatou O., Nwankwo, Charles I., Aminou, Ali M., et al. Sanitized human urine (Oga) as a fertilizer auto-innovation from women farmers in Niger [open], Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2022. DOI: 10.1007/s13593-021-00675-2
Science reporting on climate change does lead Americans to adopt more accurate beliefs and support government action on the issue—but these gains are fragile, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that these accurate beliefs fade quickly and can erode when people are exposed to coverage skeptical of climate change.
"It is not the case that the American public does not respond to scientifically informed reporting when they are exposed to it," said Thomas Wood, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.
"But even factually accurate science reporting recedes from people's frame of reference very quickly."
"Not only did science reporting change people's factual understanding, it also moved their political preferences," he said. "It made them think that climate change was a pressing government concern that government should do more about."
[...] Overall, the results suggest that the media play a key role in Americans' beliefs and attitudes about scientific issues like climate change.
"It was striking to us how amenable the subjects in our study were to what they read about climate change in our study. But what they learned faded very quickly," Wood said. The results of the study conflict with the media imperative to only report on what is new.
More information: Time and skeptical opinion content erode the effects of science coverage on climate beliefs and attitudes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2122069119.
In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post about Google's search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product's "results have gone to shit." The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google's Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton's claims. "You said in the post that quotes don't give exact matches. They really do. Honest," Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets.
Brereton's most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit "Enter." The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. "Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust," Brereton argued, therefore "we resort to using Google, and appending the word 'reddit' to the end of our queries." Brereton cited Google Trends data that show that people are searching the word reddit on Google more than ever before.
[...] Google has built wildly successful mobile operating systems, mapped the world, changed how we email and store photos, and tried, with varying success, to build cars that drive themselves. [...] Most of the tech company's products—Maps, Gmail—are Trojan horses for a gargantuan personalized-advertising business, and Search is the one that started it all. It is the modern template for what the technology critic Shoshana Zuboff termed "surveillance capitalism."
The article goes on at length about ruthless commercialism via ever-intrusive ads, constant tweaks to the search algorithm, and how different generations use the ubiquitous search engine.
NASA encountered a couple of issues while conducting the Artemis 1 "wet dress rehearsal," but it still checked off a major milestone by the time the test had ended. The agency was able to fully fuel all the Space Launch System's propellant tanks for the first time and was able to proceed to terminal launch countdown. [...]
This attempt wasn't flawless either: NASA had to put fueling on hold a couple of times since the rehearsal started on Saturday. Fueling was first put on hold on early Monday morning due to an issue with the rocket's backup supply of gaseous nitrogen. The team was able to repair the valve for the gaseous nitrogen line, however, and fueling recommenced a couple of hours later. As CNN notes, though, a few issues popped up just as the team was finishing up the fueling process on Monday afternoon. They discovered a hydrogen leak and had to find options to seal it after their first solution didn't work. Plus, the flare stack, which burns excess liquid hydrogen from the rocket, caused a small fire in the grassy area around the launch site.
In the end, the launch controllers came up with a plan to mask data associated with the leak so as not trigger a hold by the launch computer. That wouldn't fly in a real launch scenario, but they wanted to get as far into the countdown as possible to gather the data they need. They were successfully able to resume the 10-minute final launch countdown after an extended hold and got to T-29 seconds before they had to end the test completely. [...]
Regardless, they successfully performed several critical operations needed for launch during the test, including handing over control from the ground launch sequencer to the automated launch sequencer controlled by the rocket's flight software.
[...] Google announced to some small businesses in January that they would no longer be able to use personalized email and other work app[lications].
Google said the free edition doesn't include customer support, but does offer users several ways to contact the company for help with their transition.
Google launched Gmail in 2004 and business applications such as Documents and spreadsheets two years later. The search giant was eager for start-ups and family shops to adopt its work software, so it offered the services for free and allowed companies to bring custom domains matching their business names to Gmail.
While still testing the apps, he even Told business owners that the products would remain free for life, although Google says that from the start, the terms of service for its enterprise software stated that the company could suspend or terminate the offer in the future. Google stopped new free signups in December 2012, but continued to support accounts for what became the old free edition of G Suite.
In 2020, G Suite was rebranded as Google Workspace. The overwhelming majority of people – the company says it has more than three billion users in total – use a free version of Workspace. More than seven million organizations or individuals pay for versions with additional tools and customer support, up from six million in 2020. The number of users still on the free legacy version from years ago counts in the thousands, said a person familiar with the count. who requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly release those numbers.
"We're here to help our customers through this transition, including significant discounts on Google Workspace subscriptions," Google spokeswoman Katie Wattie said in a statement. "Switching to a Google Workspace subscription can be done in a few clicks."
Since running aground on a sandbank on May 6, 1682, the wreck of the warship the Gloucester has lain half-buried on the seabed, its exact whereabouts unknown until brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, with their friend James Little, found it after a four-year search.
Due to the age and prestige of the ship, the condition of the wreck, the finds already rescued, and the accident's political context, the discovery is described by maritime history expert Prof Claire Jowitt, of the University of East Anglia (UEA), as the most important maritime discovery since the Mary Rose.
The Gloucester represents an important 'almost' moment in British political history: a royal shipwreck causing the very near-death of the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne - James Stuart, Duke of York and Albany - at a time of great political and religious tension.
[...] Prof Jowitt, a world-leading authority on maritime cultural history, is a co-curator of the exhibition. "Because of the circumstances of its sinking, this can be claimed as the single most significant historic maritime discovery since the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982," she said. "The discovery promises to fundamentally change understanding of 17th-century social, maritime and political history.
[...] The Gloucester was commissioned in 1652, built at Limehouse in London, and launched in 1654. In 1682 it was selected to carry James Stuart - who later became King of England and King of Ireland as James II, and King of Scotland as James VII - to Edinburgh to collect his heavily pregnant wife and their households. The aim was to bring them back to King Charles II's court in London in time, it was hoped, for the birth of a legitimate male heir.
The ship had set sail from Portsmouth with the Duke and his entourage joining it off Margate, having travelled by yacht from London. At 5.30am on May 6, the Gloucester ran aground some 45km off Great Yarmouth following a dispute about navigating the treacherous Norfolk sandbanks. The Duke, a former Lord High Admiral, had argued with the pilot for control over the ship's course.
[...] Together with their late father Michael, and two friends including James Little, a former Royal Navy submariner and diver, the Barnwell brothers found the wreck site in 2007, with the Gloucester split down the keel and remains of the hull submerged in sand.
The ship's bell, manufactured in 1681, was later recovered, and in 2012 it was used by the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence to decisively identify the vessel.
Due to the time taken to confirm the identity of the ship and the need to protect an 'at risk' site, which lies in international waters, it is only now that its discovery can be made public. As well as the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence, the wreck has been declared to Historic England.
Accompanying review article putting the ship in historical context: Claire Jowitt, The Last Voyage of the Gloucester (1682): The Politics of a Royal Shipwreck [open], The English Historical Review, 2022. DOI: 10.1093/ehr/ceac127
There are communities on every continent running short of water, according to the United Nations. Unfortunately, although our planet is swathed by oceans and seas, only a tiny fraction of Earth's water - about 2.5% - is fresh, and demand for drinking water is projected to exceed supply by trillions of cubic metres by 2030. Desalination plants, which remove the salt from seawater, could help supply the fresh water needed. However, these plants are considered among the most expensive ways of creating drinking water- as they pump large volumes across membranes at high pressure, which is an extremely energy intensive process. One radical solution could be using floating vessels equipped with desalination systems.
Powered by nuclear reactors, these vessels could travel to islands, or coastlines, struck by drought, bringing with them both clean drinking water and power. "You could have them moving around on an intermittent basis, filling up tanks," says Mikal Bøe, chief executive of Core Power, which has come up with design for this type of desalination plant.
It may sound far-fetched but the US Navy has provided desalination services during disasters in the past, with the help of its nuclear-powered ships, while Russia already has a floating nuclear power station designed to potentially power desalination facilities.
Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of heart health, but it's tough to frequently and reliably measure outside of a clinical setting. For decades, cuff-based devices that constrict around the arm to give a reading have been the gold standard. But now, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have developed an electronic tattoo that can be worn comfortably on the wrist for hours and deliver continuous blood pressure measurements at an accuracy level exceeding nearly all available options on the market today.
[...] Graphene is one of the strongest and thinnest materials in existence, and it is a key ingredient in the e-tattoo. It is similar to graphite found in pencils, but the atoms are precisely arranged into thin layers.
[...] The device takes its measurements by shooting an electrical current into the skin and then analyzing the body's response, which is known as bioimpedance. There is a correlation between bioimpedance and changes in blood pressure that has to do with blood volume changes. However, the correlation is not particularly obvious, so the team had to create a machine learning model to analyze the connection to get accurate blood pressure readings.
In medicine, cuff-less blood pressure monitoring is the "holy grail," Jafari said, but there isn't a viable solution on the market yet. It's part of a larger push in medicine to use technology to untether patients from machines while collecting more data wherever they are, allowing them to go from room to room, clinic to clinic and still get personalized care.
Kireev, Dmitry, Sel, Kaan, Ibrahim, Bassem, et al. Continuous cuffless monitoring of arterial blood pressure via graphene bioimpedance tattoos, Nature Nanotechnology (DOI: 10.1038/s41565-022-01145-w)
Microsoft bids farewell to Internet Explorer on Thursday, stirring a sense of panic among many businesses and government agencies in Japan that waited to update their websites until the last minute.
Since April, Tokyo-based software developer Computer Engineering & Consulting has been inundated with requests for help.
[...] "They have known [about the phaseout] for a long time, but they must have postponed taking actions," said a CEC official, who expects the chaos among the procrastinated customers to last for "a few months."
[...] They said the browser was used for employee attendance management, expenses settlement and other internal tools. In some cases, they have no choice but to use Internet Explorer because of clients' systems used to handle orders. Over 20% of these respondents did not know or had not figured out how to transition to other browsers after Internet Explorer's retirement.
Government agencies are particularly slow to respond. The portal site for information on government procurement and bidding will switch its recommended browsers to Microsoft's new Edge and Google Chrome on Thursday. But for Japan Pension Service, notices concerning online applications must be viewed in Edge's Internet Explorer mode. The website of a government-backed mutual aid corporation for private schools still listed Internet Explorer as its only recommended browser.
In a new study, published in Environmental Science: Atmospheres, scientists have used neutron reflection to examine pollutants taken from three different environments: urban, Antarctic, and wood burning materials. They were able to measure how these materials react with the hydroxyl radical OH—one of the most reactive molecules found in the atmosphere.
[...] Professor Martin King from Royal Holloway's Department of Earth Sciences, said: "Our work clearly demonstrates that to understand coating of atmospheric aerosols we must use real samples extracted from the atmosphere rather than only pure compounds from a chemist's shelf as simulants because their behavior is different and not representative."
[...] "This makes it easier to study them and possible to understand the detailed mechanisms at work, so remains an important approach to enhance our understanding of key atmospheric processes. However, this work should be complemented by studies of real samples collected from a diverse set of locations."
The process for collecting and testing "real" samples has been carefully designed by the researchers. The material is collected in situ on quartz filters which allows the particles to attach and form a film specific to distinct environments across the globe. This product is then rinsed into a solution, transported to a neutron facility, where the solution is evaporated to reveal the film.
Inside the neutron facility, neutrons are reflected from the film to follow its reaction with the OH radicals to ultimately establish how rapidly these films would break down on atmospheric particles.
Rosalie H. Shepherd, Martin D. King, Adrian R. Rennie, et al. Measurement of gas-phase OH radical oxidation and film thickness of organic films at the air–water interface using material extracted from urban, remote and wood smoke aerosol [open], Environmental Science: Atmospheres (DOI: 10.1039/D2EA00013J)
New models that show how the continents were assembled are providing fresh insights into the history of the Earth and will help provide a better understanding of natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes.
"We looked at the current knowledge of the configuration of plate boundary zones and the past construction of the continental crust," said Dr. Derrick Hasterok, Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide who led the team that produced the new models.
"The continents were assembled a few pieces at a time, a bit like a jigsaw, but each time the puzzle was finished it was cut up and reorganized to produce a new picture. Our study helps illuminate the various components so geologists can piece together the previous images.
"We found that plate boundary zones account for nearly 16 percent of the Earth's crust and an even higher proportion, 27 percent, of continents."
[...] "The biggest changes to the plate model have been in western North America, which often has the boundary with the Pacific Plate drawn as the San Andreas and Queen Charlotte Faults. But the newly delineated boundary is much wider, approximately 1500 km, than the previously drawn narrow zone.
Derrick Hasterok, Jacqueline A. Halpin et al, New Maps of Global Geological Provinces and Tectonic Plates, Earth-Science Reviews, Volume 231, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2022.104069
The new changes affect Provisions on the Management of Internet Post Comments Services, a regulation that first came into effect in 2017. Five years later, the Cyberspace Administration wants to bring it up to date.
"The proposed revisions primarily update the current version of the comment rules to bring them into line with the language and policies of more recent authority, such as new laws on the protection of personal information, data security, and general content regulations," says Jeremy Daum, a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center.
[...] But recently, there have been several awkward cases where comments under government Weibo accounts went rogue, pointing out government lies or rejecting the official narrative. That could be what has prompted the regulator's proposed update.
Chinese social platforms are currently on the front lines of censorship work, often actively removing posts before the government and other users can even see them. ByteDance famously employs thousands of content reviewers, who make up the largest number of employees at the company. Other companies outsource the task to "censorship-for-hire" firms, including one owned by China's party mouthpiece People's Daily. The platforms are frequently punished for letting things slip.
Beijing is constantly refining its social media control, mending loopholes and introducing new restrictions. But the vagueness of the latest revisions makes people worry that the government may ignore practical challenges. [...] The tricky question is, no one knows if the government intends to enforce this immediately.
Let's not forget ever-elusive delivery drones. The widespread assumption was that Amazon would be the first to have its packages take to the skies, but as it turned out, Walmart beat them to the punch, piloting drone delivery in North Carolina in 2020.
Now Amazon's catching up. The company announced this week that it's starting drone delivery service in Lockeford, California later this year. South-east of Sacramento in the state's hot, dry Central Valley area, the town had a population of just 3,521 as of the 2020 census. An Amazon press release says the town has "historic links" to the aviation industry thanks to a former resident who built and flew planes there in the early 1900s.
The company doesn't give additional details around why it chose Lockeford for the Prime Air pilot, though the town's rural location, the fact that most customers there have backyards for the drones to drop packages in, and the lack of numerous obstacles you'd find in a more urban or densely-populated area likely all factored in.
[...] On the safety front, among other measures, Amazon has built what it calls an "industry-leading sense-and-avoid system" to keep its drones from crashing into things—things like other aircraft, people, pets, or unexpected obstacles (like, say, a chimney or an antenna). When a drone's sensors detect objects within a certain radius of it, it automatically changes course, and as it descends to drop packages, it checks that the surrounding space is clear.