Thursday, January 12, 2017

Two Microsoft Employees Are Claiming That Microsoft Gave Them PTSD



FOX News: Two employees are suing Microsoft, alleging their jobs gave them PTSD

Two Microsoft employees claim the company made them look at photos and videos "designed to entertain some of the most twisted and sick minded people in the world." Now they're suing.

Courthouse News reports Henry Soto and Greg Blauert were part of Microsoft's online safety team whose job was to figure out what online content should be taken down and when it should be reported to police.

In that position, Soto and Blauert say they had to look at images of child pornography, murder, bestiality, and "indescribable sexual assault." They filed a lawsuit against Microsoft last month, accusing the company of negligence, disability discrimination, and violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: They are claiming that Microsoft didn't warn them about what to expect in the job and didn't provide psychological support. I find this hard to believe. Unless they have lived in a bubble for most of their life .... everyone knows that the internet has a lot of garbage that is not for the faint of heart.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Riemann Hypothesis


Jørgen Veisdal, Medium: The Riemann Hypothesis, explained

In loving memory of John Forbes Nash Jr.

You remember prime numbers, right? Those numbers you can’t divide into other numbers, except when you divide them by themselves or 1? Right. Here is a 3000 year old question:

2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, p. What is p? 31. What is the next p? It’s 37. The p after that?41. And then? 43. How, but… …how do you know what comes next?

Present an argument or formula which (even barely) predicts what the next prime number will be (in any given sequence of numbers), and your name will be forever linked to one of the greatest achievements of the human mind, akin to Newton, Einstein and Gödel. Figure out why the primes act as they do, and you will never have to do anything else, ever again.

Read more ....

This Professor Is Teaching The NSA's Best Hackers


Cyber Scoop: Meet the man responsible for teaching some of the NSA’s best young hackers

The National Security Agency is an enormous organization by nearly any corporate standard, with more than 35,000 employees. Former Deputy Director Chris Inglis once joked that the spy agency is “the biggest employer of introverts.” More frequently though, the NSA refers to itself as the largest employer of mathematicians. In recent years, while the U.S. has continuously confronted new threats in cyberspace, the agency has increasingly become a training ground for young, talented, highly educated computer security professionals.

Underlining the NSA’s race to hire the best and brightest is a list of 213 universities that the spy agency has designated as “National Centers of Academic Excellence.”

These schools offer a myriad of computer security training programs, each providing a stepping stone into the secretive agency. In this context, Carnegie Mellon University is to the NSA what the University of Alabama is to the NFL. And Professor David Brumley is CMU’s Nick Saban.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: His Twitter page is interesting (the link is here).

A Human-Powered Paper Centrifuge

Americans Love Their Internet And Smartphones

The Pew Research Center survey found 77 percent of American adults owning a smartphone in late 2016, more than double the level of 2011, when 35 percent said they used such devices

Phys.org: Smartphone, internet use at record high in US: survey

More than three-fourths of American adults now use a smartphone, helping to boost internet adoption to a record level, a survey showed Thursday.

The Pew Research Center survey found 77 percent owning a smartphone in late 2016, more than double the level of 2011, when 35 percent said they used such devices.

The rise was fueled by a "sharp uptick" in smartphone use by those with low incomes and those 50 and older, Pew said.

"Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous among younger adults," said Pew researcher Aaron Smith, noting that 92 percent of adults under 29 own one.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I am surprised that only 77% own a smartphone .... I thought it was closer to 90%.

The European Parliament Wants To Give Robots Legal Status By Calling Them 'Electronic Persons'

The report proposes a kill switch on robots. © Francois Lenoir / Reuters

RT: Robot kill switches & legal status: MEPs endorse AI proposal

A European Parliament committee has voted in favor of a draft report that proposes granting legal status to robots, categorizing them as “electronic persons”.

The draft report, approved by 17 votes to two and two abstentions by the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, proposes that “The most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations, including that of making good any damage they may cause.”

Authored by Luxembourg MEP Mady Delvaux, the report proposes definitions and outlines rules to govern how robots interact with humans “now that humankind stands on the threshold of an era” that it claims will see artificial intelligence (AI) “unleash a new industrial revolution.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I will not be surprised if this is past by the EU parliament.

A U.S. Bee Species Has Been Placed On The Endangered Species List.



AFP: Bee placed on endangered list after US habitat loss

Miami (AFP) - US officials for the first time have placed a bee found in the continental United States on the endangered species list.

Authorities said Wednesday the move was taken after a precipitous decline in the rusty patched bumblebee population, due to pesticides, disease and climate change.

These once common bumblebees are now "balancing precariously on the brink of extinction," said a statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Abundance of the rusty patched bumble bee has plummeted by 87 percent, leaving small, scattered populations in 13 states and one province," down from 28 states in the 1990s.

The final rule listing the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered appeared in the January 11 edition of the Federal Register and takes effect on February 10.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I expect other bee species to be placed on this list.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

An AI Robot To Combat Loneliness

Elli.Q reminds lonely elderly people to take medication, talk to family and stay active

The Telegraph: AI robot 'friend' launched to chat and play games with lonely elderly

A talking robot which chats to elderly people, reminding them to take their medication and stay active, has been launched in London.

Elli.Q, which is one of the most advanced social companion robots in the world, has been designed to convey emotion through different speech tones, lights and body language to be as engaging as possible.

The little robot suggests activities such as reading, going for a walk, playing games to keep mentally active or phoning friends and family.

And she is programmed to learn what her owner enjoys, gradually tailoring her programming to fit.

Elli.Q has been developed by Intuition Robotics to prevent older people feeling socially isolated, and keep them connected to family and friends.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I can see this being valuable for seniors who live alone.

World Economic Forum Warns That Artificial Intelligence Needs Strong Governance


Computer Weekly: World Economic Forum warns of AI business risk

Ahead of its annual meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum warns that artificial intelligence needs strong governance

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2017 has highlighted risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI).

Based on a survey of 750 experts, the report warned that AI, biotech and robotics have among the highest benefits to society, but they also require the most legislation.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: No one is ready for the large scale unemployment that the adoption of AI would create.

The World Economic Forum Releases Its Top Global Risks For 2017



CNBC: Top five global risks for 2017: WEF

The World Economic Forum's (WEF) flagship annual report surveyed 750 experts to identify the most significant global concerns. Here are the top five:

Read more ....

Update: Zero Hedge has a good summary .... These Are The Top Global Risks For 2017 According To The World Economic Forum (Zero Hedge).

CSN Editor: The World Economic Forum's report is here.

More News And Details On The iPhone 8 Are Becoming Known

The latest rumor to hit the web comes from an ‘upstream supply chain’ that says the Cupertino company is ditching the aluminium back cover. Instead, it will be designed with a stainless steel forging process .Pictured is an iPhone 8 concept render

Daily Mail: iPhone 8 to have stainless steel frame, all glass front and back and 'invisible' speakers and cameras

* Latest iPhone 8 rumor suggests Apple is ditching the aluminium back cover
* Instead will be designed with new stainless steel forging process
* Will bring together two reinforced glass panels supported by a metal frame
* Apple also received patent to hide components under the screen

It may still be months away, but speculations about Apple’s iPhone 8 are sweeping the internet.

The latest rumor came from an ‘upstream supply chain’ that suggests the Cupertino company is ditching the aluminium back cover.

Instead, it will be designed with a stainless steel forging process that brings together two reinforced glass panels supported by a metal frame.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: It looks sharp.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Inside Story Of The First iPhone



BBC: 'Sweating bullets' - The inside story of the first iPhone

"Steve had expressly told me it was totally top secret. He said he was going to fire anyone who tells the world.

"I was sweating bullets."

Tony Fadell was pondering just how he was going to explain to Steve Jobs that he'd lost the prototype of what would become the most successful technology product of all time, the Apple iPhone which launched 10 years ago on Monday.

He'd just got off a plane, felt his pockets, and... nothing.

"I was walking through every scenario thinking about what could happen," he told me. None of them ended well.

After two hours, relief - thanks to the efforts of a search party that didn’t know what it was trying to find.

"It fell out of my pocket and it was lodged in between the seats!"

Read more ....

CSN Editor: The above video is Steve Jobs announcing the first iPhone in 2007

A Robot-Powered Burger Restaurant Is Coming To San Francisco

This is the only known image of a burger manufactured by Momentum Machines technology. Momentum Machines / The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania

Business Insider/Tech Insider: This robot-powered restaurant could put fast food workers out of a job

A robot-powered burger joint is coming to San Francisco.

In 2012, secretive robotics startup Momentum Machines debuted a machine that could crank out 400 made-to-order hamburgers in an hour. It's fully autonomous, meaning the robot can slice toppings, grill a patty, and assemble and bag the burger without any help from humans. The internet flipped out.

Years of relative silence ensued, but in January, Hoodline's Brittany Hopkins learned that the San Francisco-based startup had applied for a building permit to convert a ground-floor retail space in the SoMa neighborhood into a restaurant.

Now it looks like the restaurant is actually happening. A job posting on Craigslist from early June gives us our first glimpse into how the company's future flagship, presumably opening soon, might work.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I suspect that this restaurant will also be more cleaner.

Experts Say AIs Will Soon Understand Human Emotions



Daily Mail: The rise of the robot interrogator: Experts say AIs will soon understand our emotions - and could do everything from give therapy to quiz terrorists

* Artificial intelligence (AI) has become increasingly good at reading emotion
* AI can now recognise faces, speech and even turn sketches into photos
* AI may be able to match humans in recognising emotions in a few decades
* An emotionally intelligent AI has potential benefits, be it to give someone a companion or to help us performing certain tasks – ranging from criminal interrogation to talking therapy

How would you feel about getting therapy from a robot?

Emotionally intelligent machines may not be as far away as it seems.

Over the last few decades, artificial intelligence (AI) have got increasingly good at reading emotional reactions in humans.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: Humans have trouble understanding the emotions of others .... it is going to be interesting to see how AIs will perform.

Are We Facing A Global Cooling Trend?

Extreme cold and snow pound the northern hemisphere as some scientists warn of the potential for ice age conditions. Photo of Greenland by NASA (public domain)

Climate Depot: Pravda: ‘Scientists Now Warn Of A New Ice Age’ As Temperature Plummets to – 80°F In Russia

Some impressive winter events have been taking place all across the northern hemisphere lately. Especially eastern and southeastern Europe have been pounded by massive snowfalls and tremendously cold temperatures. Turkey has been buried by heavy snows and extreme temperatures have gripped the entire USA and vast areas of Russia.

The global warming climate appears to have been hacked by natural factors.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I know that the source is from Pravda .... but where I live (Montreal, Canada) .... it has been an unusually cold winter.

Purple Rocks Found On Mars

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
This new image from the Mars Curiosity rover captures purple-colored rocks on the surface of lower Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Space: NASA's Curiosity Rover Spots Purple Rocks on Mars

Mars may appear red when viewed from Earth, but NASA's Curiosity rover has captured an up-close photo of the planet's mountainous landscape, with purple-colored rocks littered across the foreground.

This remarkable new photo was captured near the base of Mars' Mount Sharp. The image's three frames were taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam)on Nov. 10.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: Purple rocks?!?!

European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope In Chile Will Be Modified To Search For Planets

This artist's impression shows the planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth in this image released on October 17, 2012. REUTERS/ESO/L. Calcada/N. Risinger

Reuters: Giant telescope in Chile to seek habitable planets in Alpha Centauri

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile will be modified in order to allow it to search more effectively for potentially habitable planets in Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to Earth.

The ESO said it has signed a deal with Breakthrough Starshot, a venture that aims to deploy thousands of tiny spacecraft to travel to the system and send back pictures.

Starshot, which is backed by internet billionaire Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking, will provide funding to allow equipment on the Very Large Telescope that studies in the mid-infrared to be adapted to better detect faint planets, the ESO said in a statement on Monday.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: The search for life beyond out solar system has just gotten a bit more interesting.

This Is Why You Feel Hungry After A Night On The Town

Cosmos: Why you crave hot chips after a night on the town

Don't feel too guilty when you drunkenly bite into a hot dog at 3 am – you can't argue with biology.

A pie or hot dog scoffed at 3 am is, quite simply, delicious. But why do we crave fatty and carb-rich food after drinking alcohol, which itself laden with kilojoules? It turns out the brain cells that make you hungry are also activated by alcohol.

Researchers in the UK put mice on the equivalent of a human weekend bender and found their subjects ate more food than teetotal counterparts. Examining the mouse brains, the team found a specific set of brain cells that drive hunger were activated in the presence of alcohol.

The work was published in Nature Communications.

Alcohol consumption and overeating are linked. Drinking an aperitif before a meal stimulates the appetite. Why, though, is a puzzle.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: This is the reason why .... the brain cells that make you hungry are also activated by alcohol.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Giant Asteroid Was Spotted Only 24 Hours Before It Passed Earth

Slooh's broadcast said 2017 AG3 was 'roughly the same size as the asteroid that struck Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013,' meaning had it hit, the effects would have been similar.

Business Insider: An asteroid just flew by Earth about 50% closer than the moon, and we barely saw it coming

Early Monday morning, while the US East Coast was making coffee, dropping kids off at school, and cursing in traffic, a space rock as big as a 10-story building slipped past Earth.

The asteroid, dubbed 2017 AG13, was discovered only Saturday by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, according to an email from Slooh, a company that broadcasts live views of space.

It's between 50 and 111 feet (15 to 34 meters) long, and when it swung by Earth, 2017 AG3 was moving at 9.9 miles per second (16 kilometers per second). The near-Earth object, or NEO, came within about half the distance that the moon is from Earth, according to Slooh.

Read more ....

Update #1: Phew! Giant asteroid passed just 120,000 miles from Earth last night - and was only spotted 24 hours earlier (Daily Mail)
Update #2: Another near miss: Is Earth ready for an incoming asteroid? (Charlie Wood, CSM)

CSN Editor: There has been closer calls.

Retroviruses Are Almost Half A Billion Years Old


Seeker: Retroviruses, Including HIV, Are Almost Half a Billion Years Old

According to scientists, retroviruses probably developed in marine vertebrates, not placental mammals.

Tracing the ancient origin of retroviruses — the family of viruses that includes HIV — is a big undertaking, partly because of the absence of fossils. But a new study conducted by researchers at Oxford University suggests that retroviruses are nearly half a billion years old, significantly older than previously thought.

Until now, scientists thought that retroviruses traced back roughly 100 million years, about as old as terrestrial placental mammals. But at half a billion years old, retroviruses probably developed in marine vertebrates.

According to the study, retroviruses made the transition from the sea to land along with the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates. "Their widespread distribution is a result of ancient origins, not simply the tendency of retroviruses to cross species boundaries," Aris Katzourakis, associate professor at Oxford University's Department of Zoology and author of the study, told Seeker.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like retroviruses have been around since the beginning of time.

Apple's iPhone Turns 10 On January 9

It was on January 9 2007 that late Apple founder, Steve Jobs, went on stage at the company´s Macworld event to announce it was about to reveal 'an iPod, a phone and an internet communicator'. Pictured is the original iPhone

Daily Mail: Apple's iPhone turns 10 today: Here's how the iconic handset has changed over the years

* Steve Jobs described it as 'an iPod, a phone and an internet communicator'
* Since its unveiled, Apple has sold more than a billion iPhones around the world
* Last year saw sales of the iPhone drop for the first time in the device´s history
* Last week, a never-before-seen alternate version of the iPhone design was discovered that looked similar to an iPod design

The iPhone, the device that redefined the mobile phone and has helped make Apple the most valuable company in the world, is 10 years old today.

It was on January 9 2007 that late Apple founder, Steve Jobs, went on stage at the company´s Macworld event to announce it was about to reveal 'an iPod, a phone and an internet communicator'.

But rather than three separate products being revealed, one of the first truly smart phones was unveiled.

Read more ....

Update: Apple proved a phone can change the world in just 10 years (AP)

CSN Editor: Only 10 years?!?!?! Wow .... if feels like it has been around forever.

The Earth's Core Is Made Up Of Iron, Nickel, And Silicon

This study suggests silicon exists in the Earth's inner core with iron and nickel

BBC: New candidate for 'missing element' in Earth's core

Japanese scientists believe they have established the identity of a "missing element" within the Earth's core.

They have been searching for the element for decades, believing it makes up a significant proportion of our planet's centre, after iron and nickel.

Now by recreating the high temperatures and pressures found in the deep interior, experiments suggest the most likely candidate is silicon.

The discovery could help us to better understand how our world formed.

Lead researcher Eiji Ohtani from Tohoku University told BBC News: "We believe that silicon is a major element - about 5% [of the Earth's inner core] by weight could be silicon dissolved into the iron-nickel alloys."

Read more ....

CSN Editor: key points of this post .... The innermost part of Earth is thought to be a solid ball with a radius of about 1,200km (745 miles).

Also ....

It is mainly composed of iron, which makes up an estimated 85% of its weight, and nickel, which accounts for about 10% of the core.

The Pentagon Will Continue To Tap Some Of Science And Technology's Greatest Minds To Help Innovate U.S. Military Capabilities And Culture,

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson interacts with Pepper, a social humanoid robot, during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, Sept. 28, 2015.

VOA: Top Scientists, Tech Experts to Innovate Military Under Trump Administration

THE PENTAGON — The Pentagon has tapped some of science and technology's greatest minds to help innovate U.S. military capabilities and culture, and members of the panel say they will continue serving in the Trump administration if asked.

Eric Schmidt, the chairman of the board and chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, said he expects everyone to stay on to serve under retired General James Mattis, if the board is invited to continue its work.

"No one has told me they are leaving," Schmidt told reporters Monday at the Pentagon after the first board meeting since the presidential election.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: No surprises here. America's top minds have always worked with the military to give them a heads up on emerging technologies (Einstein and the atomic bomb) to today's leaders from Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

Iran's 'Porn Blockers' Are Impacting Access To These Sites In Other Countries

A visitor takes pictures of an adult film actress during the Eros Show in the Bulgarian capital Sofia April 2, 2008. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

The Independent: Porn blocks in Iran break the internet across the world

The country’s strange technique was meant to stop people watching adult videos, but had a much broader effect than intended

Iran introduced blocks on pornography so aggressive that they broke the internet around the world.

The country's censorship laws on adult websites are infamously stringent, and require access pornographic websites to be cut off. But last week the state internet provider did so not only for those in Iran but for people across the world – as far away as Russia and Hong Kong.

The strange ban was the result of the way that the internet provider cut off access to those sites. It did so using some of the basic mechanisms of the web – not just stopping people in Iran accessing the websites, but changing the directions that power the internet so that nobody could.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I am sure that this is "pissing-off" some people.

Quantum Computing Could Make Supercomputer Obsolete In 5 Years

Multilayer microwave integrated quantum circuit (left) uses silicon wafers with features etched using MEMS techniques to create enclosures that serve as high-Q resonators as well as providing shielding. Superconducting metalization (blue) covers the walls of these enclosures to provide low-loss wafer-to-wafer bonding. A cross-section of the rectangular cavity resonator (upper right) shows interlayer aperture coupling between the cavity and transmission lines above. 3D superconducting transmission lines (lower right) could be constructed using membranes (green) in the MEMS structure where qubits and act as a compact low-loss quantum bus.
(Source: Yale)

Next Big Future: Universal Quantum computers could replace supercomputers within 5 years

Some researchers are predicting that the market for "universal" quantum computers that do everything a supercomputer can do plus everything a supercomputer can not do — in a chip that fits in the palm of your hand — are on the verge of emerging. The rise of quantum computing may be as important a shift as John von Neumann's stored program-and-data concept.

Here are some of the scientists and breakthroughs that will enable this shift.

Robert Schoelkopf (Yale, Quantum Circuits inc) claims a number of "world's firsts," the latest of which is the longest "coherence time" for a quantum superposition.

Read more ....

Update: Quantum Computing on Cusp - Researchers say supercomputer obsolete in 5 years -- EETimes

CSN editor: To me the 5 years is too optimistic .... but the trend lines are that Quantum computers will replace supercomputers in the near future.

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg Talks About AI And Its Future In The World (Video)

Astronomers Predicty A Supernova Will Appear In The Sky In 2022

Our night sky could be set to include a new star in 2022, if the predictions of a group of astronomers turn out to be correct, because of a supernova explosion. Supernovas are intense explosions caused when two stars merge together. Pictured is an artist's impression

Daily Mail: Mark your calendars! A dazzling supernova will appear in the sky in 2022, predict astronomers

* Scientists have studied a binary star system for years and claim it will explode
* The supernova explosion is 'boldly' predicted for 2022, give or take a year
* If they are correct, it will be the first time anyone has predicted a supernova
* Will be one of brightest star in the night sky when it appears, astronomers say

Our night sky could be set to include a new star in 2022, if the predictions of a group of astronomers turn out to be correct.

A professor who has been studying a binary star system, two stars orbiting each other, claims they will soon start to merge together to create what he has dubbed 'Boom star'.

The stars will end their lives in an explosion, known as a supernova, he says.

This will be will make them ten thousand times brighter than they already are - producing one of the brightest stars visible in our sky.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: If it is bright enough .... for everyone this will be a once in a lifetime experience.

Would You Take A Blood Test That Predicts How Long You Will Live?

REUTERS/Luis Galdamez

Daily Mail: Would YOU take it? Scientists discover breakthrough blood test that could 'predict how long people will live'

* Experts at Boston University claim to have discovered the game-changing test
* They believe biomarker patterns in the blood will help predict a person's probability of developing cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
* The discovery means patients will be able to identify realistic health risks early - and, crucially, modify behaviour to change the outcome

It may sound like the premise of a science fiction film.

But, believe it or not, scientists at Boston University claim to have discovered a game-changing blood test that could help predict lifespans.

The study, published in the journal Aging Cell on Friday, used biomarker data collected from 5,000 blood samples and analysed it against the donors' health developments over the subsequent eight years.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I wold definitely take it .... and avoid (or minimise) the risk factors that such a test would discover.

15 Sci-Fi Films We Want To See In 2017



Popular Mechanics: 15 Sci-Fi Films We Want To See in 2017 (and 4 We Don't)

The blockbusters, the hopeful sleepers, and the bottom feeders.

2017 holds plenty of uncertainty, but great sci-fi movies look like a sure thing. We'll see the return of Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049 and finally get some Luke Skywalker in the eighth installment of the Star Wars saga. But 2017 is full of exciting releases, crossing huge franchises, wonderful one-offs, and some more artsy types as well. These are the films that have us excited for 2017 (and few that we'll likely be skipping.)

Read more ....

CSN Editor: Blade Runner is on the top of my list.

How To Defeat Facial Recognition Software

An image of a Hyperface pattern, specifically created to contain thousands of facial recognition hits. Photograph: Adam Harvey

The Guardian: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles that computers interpret as a face, in fightback against intrusive technology

The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: It's good to know that the surveillance state can still be defeated.

Virtual Reality Was A Disappointment At This Year's CES

The words of the day at CES were "incremental improvement."
Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

CNET: Virtually boring: VR really disappoints at CES this year

Virtual reality promises to be a mega-trend that upends how we use computers and just plain get along. So why's it such a snooze at the world's biggest tech expo?

Call it a virtual disappointment. Or virtually unsurprising. I'll just say I was virtually underwhelmed.

Whatever pun you choose, the virtual reality industry has some explaining to do after this year's Consumer Electronics Show, during which the biggest product announcements can largely be categorized as "more of the same."

Consider computer maker Lenovo, which showed off a VR headset whose primary selling point is that it's cheaper than competitors like the $599 Oculus Rift from Facebook or the $799 HTC Vive -- though Lenovo isn't discussing prices yet and the prototype on display doesn't actually work.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: When you consider all the hype for the past year in regards to VR .... satisfying everyone's expectations was a tall order.

Latest X-Ray Images Are Giving Astronomers A Revealing Look At The History Of Black Holes

The image is from the Chandra Deep Field-South. The full field covers an approximately circular region on the sky with an area about two-thirds that of the full moon. However, the outer regions of the image, where the sensitivity to X-ray emission is lower, are not shown here. The colors in this image represent different levels of X-ray energy detected by Chandra. Here the lowest-energy X-rays are red, the medium band is green, and the highest-energy X-rays observed by Chandra are blue. The central region of this image contains the highest concentration of supermassive black holes ever seen, equivalent to about 5,000 objects that would fit into the area of the full moon and about a billion over the entire sky. Image courtesy X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/B. Luo et al. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Space Daily: Deepest X-ray image ever reveals black hole treasure trove

An unparalleled image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is giving an international team of astronomers the best look yet at the growth of black holes over billions of years beginning soon after the Big Bang. This is the deepest X-ray image ever obtained, collected with about 7 million seconds, or 11 and a half weeks, of Chandra observing time.

The image comes from what is known as the Chandra Deep Field-South. The central region of the image contains the highest concentration of supermassive black holes ever seen, equivalent to about 5,000 objects that would fit into the area of the full Moon and about a billion over the entire sky.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: It is hard to fathom how massive these objects really are .... ranging in mass from about 100,000 to 10 billion times the mass of the Sun.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

NASA Can Now Better Predict A Total Solar Eclipse's Path

Using of a number of NASA datasets, notably the global elevation maps from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the shape and location of the shadow is depicted with unprecedented accuracy.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/SVS/Ernie Wright

Science Daily: NASA moon data provides more accurate 2017 eclipse path

On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, millions in the U.S. will have their eyes to the sky as they witness a total solar eclipse. The moon's shadow will race across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina. The path of this shadow, also known as the path of totality, is where observers will see the moon completely cover the sun. And thanks to elevation data of the moon from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, coupled with detailed NASA topography data of Earth, we have the most accurate maps of the path of totality for any eclipse to date.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: This will be a rare opportunity for many who live in the U.S..

This Robot Can Play Chess With A Chessboard

A robot developed by Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute plays chess at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 8, 2017 ©Rob Lever (AFP)

AFP: For 'intelligent' robot, chess is just a hobby

A robot developed by engineers in Taiwan can pour coffee and move chess pieces on a board against an opponent, but he's looking for a real job.

The robot developed by Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, which spent the week playing games against opponents at the Consumer Electronics Show, was displaying what developers call an "intelligent vision system" which can see its environment and act with greater precision than its peers.

With this enhanced vision, the robot can perform variety of tasks for service and manufacturing, and can also learn on the job with artificial intelligence.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: Playing chess with a robot has just got interesting.

Huge Iceberg Is About To Break Off From Antarctica

An iceberg one-fourth the size of Wales is about to break off of Antarctica.
Credit: Copyright MIDAS Project, A. Luckman, Swansea University

Live Science: Delaware-Size Iceberg Is About to Break Off from Antarctica

An icy thread measuring a mere 12 miles (20 kilometers) long is all that's anchoring a massive iceberg the size of Delaware to its home in West Antarctica, climate scientists report.

If the iceberg breaks away — an event known as calving — the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica will lose more than 10 percent of its area, which amounts to about 2,000 square miles (5,000 square km), according to Project MIDAS, an Antarctic research project based in the United Kingdom.

MIDAS researchers noticed the rift in 2014, and have used satellite and other data to monitor it ever since. The rift made headlines late last year when NASA's IceBridge mission snapped a photo showing the eerily immense crack, which measured 70 miles (112 km) long, more than 300 feet (91 meters) wide and about one-third of a mile (0.5 km) deep as of Nov. 10, 2016.

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CSN Editor: At its current rate, this will split within 2 years .... unless the region experiences a greater cooling trend.

The Art And Science of Designing Noise Alarms



Atlas Obscura: An Alarm Designer on How to Annoy People in the Most Effective Ways

There's an art and science to making one sound seem more urgent than another.

When the cockpit recorder transcript from Air France Flight 447 was leaked to the public in 2011, many startling details emerged. The plane, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people on board, had been under the control of pilots who were communicating poorly and not realizing one another’s mistakes. The plane’s speed slowed to dangerous levels, activating the stall alarm—the one, in the words of Popular Mechanics, “designed to be impossible to ignore.” It blared the word “Stall!” 75 times.

Everyone present ignored it. Within four minutes, the plane had hit the water.

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CSN Editor: Like building a better mouse trap .... there is a need to build a better alarm.

The Race To Build Quantum Computers Is Heating Up



Next Big Future: Google, Microsoft, labs and start-ups will create universal quantum computers in 2017 and achieve quantum supremacy over classical computers

Google started working on a form of quantum computing that harnesses superconductivity in 2014. In 2017 or 2018 Google hopes to perform a computation that is beyond even the most powerful ‘classical’ supercomputers — an elusive milestone known as quantum supremacy. Its rival, Microsoft, is betting on an intriguing but unproven concept, topological quantum computing, and hopes to perform a first demonstration of the technology.

The quantum-computing start-up scene is also heating up. Christopher Monroe, co-founded the start-up IonQ in 2015, plans to begin hiring in earnest this year.

Physicist Robert Schoelkopf at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who co-founded the start-up Quantum Circuits, and former IBM applied physicist Chad Rigetti, who set up Rigetti in Berkeley, California, say they expect to reach crucial technical milestones soon.

The largest trapped ion quantum computer with 20 qubits is being tested in an academic lab led by Rainer Blatt at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

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CSN Editor: Both Microsoft and Google are investing heavily in this tech frontier.

Will Global Warming Result In Europe Cooling Down?

CONVEYOR BELT Rising temperatures could shut down the Atlantic Ocean current (depicted here) that helps warm northwestern Europe, a new simulation shows.

Science News: Warming could disrupt Atlantic Ocean current

New simulations revise freshwater impact on circulation’s stability.

Spewing too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere could shut down the major ocean current that ferries warm water to the North Atlantic, new climate simulations suggest. While not as extreme as the doomsday scenario portrayed in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, such a shutdown could cause wintertime temperatures to plummet by an estimated 7 degrees Celsius or more in northwestern Europe and shift rainfall patterns across the globe.

Many previous climate simulations predicted that the Atlantic circulation would remain largely stable under future climate change. But those simulations failed to accurately portray how relatively freshwater flows between the Atlantic and Southern oceans, an important mechanism as the climate warms. After fixing that inaccuracy, Yale University climate scientist Wei Liu and colleagues set up an extreme climate scenario to test the current’s robustness. Doubling CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere shuttered the Atlantic current in 300 years, the researchers’ simulation showed.

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CSN Editor: So the argument now is .... global warming will cause catastrophic cooling in Europe.

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A Historical Analysis On Climate Change

Screenshot of MWP Mapping Project (Source: Luening http://t1p.de/mwp downloaded 27-Dec-2016)

Watts Up With That?: Documenting the Global Extent of the Medieval Warm Period

In this article I pose the following questions:

Was the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) a global event?
Where the MWP temperatures higher than recent times?
The reasons for asking these questions are that climate establishment have tried to sideline the MWP as a purely local North Atlantic event. They also frequently state that current temperatures are the highest ever.

I attempt to answer these questions below.

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CSN Editor: A good historical analysis on climate change.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Communist Zil Limousine Is No More

ByvalByvalich

Popular Mechanics: The Ultimate Communist Automaker Is Dead

Who'll make Putin a new American-style copycat limo now?

What the hell is ZiL to begin with? Well, it's the acronym of 'Zavod imeni Likhachova', or 'Plant named for Likhachov', an automobile, truck, military vehicle and heavy equipment manufacturer based in Moscow, Russia. Its trucks, you've seen plenty of in cold war movies and in developing countries around the world. Its cars, not so much. That's because they were never meant to be driven by the common people.

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CSN Editor: This model is so out of date that .... in a way .... gives it a certain style.

Who Invented The Microwave Oven?

Microwaves cook and heat food, boil water and pop popcorn and aren't harder on food than the stove. Credit: GE

Live Science: Who Invented the Microwave Oven?

A microwave oven is a kitchen appliance that is in nearly every U.S. home — 90 percent of households have one, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the touch of a couple of buttons, this ubiquitous device can boil water, reheat leftovers, pop popcorn or defrost frozen meats in mere minutes.

The microwave oven was invented at the end of World War II. Yet it took awhile for them to catch on. At first they were too big and expensive, and people didn't trust them because of the radiation they use. Eventually, technology improved and fears faded. By the 2000s, Americans named the microwave oven as the No. 1 technology that made their lives easier, according to J. Carlton Gallawa, author of the Complete Microwave Oven Service Handbook.

And it was all due to a happy accident with some melted chocolate.

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CSN Editor: I am old enough to remember the microwave was an oddity that no one could afford to have. Today .... I own 2 of them ... one in my home and one at my chalet .... and all for around $100 per.

This 'Anti-Robot' Can Carry A Human And Run Over 20mph



Daily Mail: Meet 'Prosthesis', the terrifying 14ft-tall 'anti-robot' that can carry a human and run over 20mph almost SILENTLY

* Prosthesis is an 'exo-bionic racing robot' that is controlled by a human pilot sitting inside it
* The human sits at the center of the machine, and moves their arms to control it
* According to the creators, it can hit speeds of more than 30 km per hour

A 14-foot-tall exo-bionic racing robot could soon be tearing across the Nevada desert.

Exhibitors revealed the massive Prosthesis bot at CES 2017 in Las Vegas today, and they say it can hit a top speed of roughly 20 miles per hour – and despite its imposing size, it’s nearly silent when it moves.

The 7,700lb ‘anti-robot’ is controlled by a human pilot who stands at the center of the mechanical exoskeleton, using arm movements to drive it forward at terrifying speeds.

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CSN Editor: This is one big robot.

Look At All The World’s Global Trade In One Interactive Map



Foreign Policy: Watch: All the World’s Global Trade in One Interactive Map

It’s hard to understand the jargon-laden and math-saturated world of international trade. But a new interactive map helps visualize global imports and exports, showing just how massive global trade really is.

Each dot, color-coded by type of trade like agriculture, minerals, plastics, and transportation, represents $1 billion. As the graphic shows, there are a lot of dots — 15,600, in fact, to represent the $15.6 trillion of international trade in 2015 (the latest year from which U.N. data is available) according to the U.N. Comtrade database that tracks the world’s economic statistics.

Take a gander at the interactive version here. Or simply watch the above video:

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CSN Editor: China, Europe, and the U.S. is where all the action is.

China Invests Big In 'Green Technologies'

China is shifting away from dirty coal power and towards cleaner fuels. (Reuters: Jason Lee)

ABC News Online: China to spend $493 billion on green power by 2020

China will plough 2.5 trillion yuan ($493 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country's energy agency says, as the world's largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation's energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power would contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

The agency did not disclose more details on where the funds — which equate to about $98 billion each year — would be spent.

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CSN Editor: No breakdown on where the money is going to be spent .... but I am willing to bet that most of it will be on nuclear power.

Japanese Company Replaces Office Workers With Artificial Intelligence

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% Photograph: Toru Hanai/REUTERS

The Guardian: Japanese company replaces office workers with artificial intelligence

Insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is making 34 employees redundant and replacing them with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI

A future in which human workers are replaced by machines is about to become a reality at an insurance firm in Japan, where more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders.

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years. The firm said it would save about 140m yen (£1m) a year after the 200m yen (£1.4m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen (£100k) a year.

The move is unlikely to be welcomed, however, by 34 employees who will be made redundant by the end of March.

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CSN Editor: So it begins.

Faraday Future Unveils Super Fast Electric Car



BBC: CES 2017: Faraday Future unveils super fast electric car

Start-up Faraday Future has unveiled a self-driving electric car that it says can accelerate from zero to 60mph (97km/h) in 2.39 seconds.

Faraday says the FF91 accelerates faster than Tesla's Model S or any other electric car in production.

It was shown off at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

But Faraday Future has faced financial difficulties and one analyst said it had to challenge "scepticism" following last year's CES presentation.

The FF91 was introduced via a live demo, in which it drove itself around a car park and backed into an empty space.

Pre-recorded footage also showed the car accelerating from standstill to 60mph in 2.39 seconds.

Tesla's fastest model did it in 2.5 seconds on the same track.

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CSN Editor: I wish them luck .... but Tesla has a big head start over them.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Here Are 25 Things That Are Turning 25 In 2017



Mental Floss: 25 Things Turning 25 in 2017

If you were born in 1992, you're in good company! Here's our annual list celebrating 25 things (people, companies, movies, books, etc.) turning 25 this year.

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CSN Editor: Wow .... the Cold War ended 25 years ago (see above video).

Former World Chess Champion Kasparov On The Future Of Artificial Intelligence



Chess News: Kasparov on the future of Artificial Intelligence

"You will go down in history as the first person to be beaten by a machine in an intellectual pursuit where you were the most advanced member of our species," says American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist in this extraordinary podcast interview with Garry Kasparov. After discussing the current world political situation they go on to the subject of machine intelligence. Kasparov also announced a book called Deep Thinking that is due for release in May.

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CSN Editor: The interesting part of this entire story is that today's chess programs can easily defeat Deep Blue when it Defeated World Champion Garry Kasparov 20 years ago.

5 Brilliant Scientific Accidents (Video)

A Look At How The Pencils are Made



NPR: Trace The Remarkable History Of The Humble Pencil

A class of fifth-graders from Green Acres Elementary in Lebanon, Ore., asked us to find out how pencil lead is made. That quest took us all the way back to the dawn of the universe and then all the way up to a factory in Jersey City, N.J.

In the process, we learned that pencil lead (actually not lead at all but a mineral called graphite) has a storied past.

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CSN Editor: That is one cool video.

Artificial Intelligence (A Bloomberg Quick-take)

Bloomberg: Artificial Intelligence

It’s the stuff of sci-fi movies and dystopian, end-of-humanity nightmares — and now, of mind-numbingly dull white-collar work. After decades of premature promises, artificial intelligence is finding its way into all sorts of businesses. Its arrival has been low-key. That’s primarily because the line between ordinary software and AI software has blurred as artificial intelligence has been adapted to narrow, unsexy tasks. But there is a difference. AI programs can look at a confusing situation, make an informed guess about what’s going on and act on it — and learn from what happens. The result has been progress so fast that people are now asking themselves two very different questions: What can we do with this to make money, and how do we stop it from going awry? AI could usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity or unprecedented inequality. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, among others, have a deeper fear: That we may be, in Musk’s words, “summoning the demon.”

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CSN Editor: A good brief summary.

How Long Can A Person Hold Their Breath?



Smithsonian: Ask Smithsonian: What’s the Longest You Can Hold Your Breath?

A dive into the science shows it is possible to override the system

Whhile some studies say most people can hold their breath for 30 seconds to maybe a few minutes at most, Aleix Segura Vendrell of Spain, the most recent Guinness World Record holder, held his for an astonishing 24 minutes and 3 seconds while floating in a pool in Barcelona.

Don’t feel ashamed if you can’t even approach Segura Vendrell’s pulmonary prowess. The ability to hold your breath is hardwired.

Segura Vendrell achieved the record with the help of what is known as an oxygen-assist. He breathed pure oxygen for a certain period of time before he began his extended float—essentially hyperventilating, filling his lungs to capacity with oxygen.

Lung function—and breath holding—varies widely from individual to individual, says Clayton Cowl, chair of preventive occupational and aerospace medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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CSN Editor: 24 minutes and 3 seconds is the world record.

This Man Has The Fastest Home Internet Connection In The United States


Motherboard: This Guy Has the Fastest Home Internet in the United States

What does the guy with the fastest internet in the United States use his jealousy-inducing bandwidth for? Analyzing X-rays… and gaining an advantage in Call of Duty, of course.

Startup and community-run internet service providers have grabbed headlines over the last two years as they’ve begun rolling out the first 10 gigabit-per-second residential internet connections in the United States. As far as I can tell, though, only one person in the entire country has actually bought one of these connections, which are still incredibly expensive because the technology is so cutting edge.

I met with James Busch—a radiologist and the proud owner of what I am almost certain is the first 10 Gbps residential connection in the United States—at a coffee shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I told him about my trials and tribulations with Time Warner Cable in New York City, and he tried to drum up some empathy from a distant past in which he used to send medical imaging studies on a T1 line in Boston. I reminded him that most of us were still on dialup at the time. And then I raised the point that his family alone is living in our blazing fast future.

“When you think about it like that, it’s pretty cool,” Busch told me. “You get spoiled with it.”

For reference, the Federal Communications Commission officially classifies “broadband” as 25 Mbps. His connection is 400 times faster than that.

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WNU Editor: I am super jealous.

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The Case For Why We All Need A Vacation


Financial Times: The case for rest

Is there an optimum amount of vacation and idea-incubating time?

At four in the morning, snug in a cottage nestled on a hillside deep in tiger country, I nudge my partner: “You’re snoring really loudly!” I say. “That’s not me,” he says equally sleepily, and I doze off before jerking wide-awake when I realise what he’s said.

Behind our cottage, high up on the crest of the hill, a leopard saws into the night. It’s New Year’s Day. I listen to the big cat for a while, alert but deeply content. When I go back to sleep, my dreams are filled with forests, trails and all the large and small creatures that belong to the jungle.

We come back home not just refreshed but rebooted by our short holiday in Gwehri, above an Indian national park. My mind feels on fire; all of last year’s tiredness is blown away like clouds driven by the high mountain winds.

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CSN Editor: Sighhh .... I need a vacation.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Growing Role Of China In Developing Artificial Intelligence

Wu Haishan, a senior Baidu data scientist, at the Baidu Technology Park in Beijing, China. Baidu is widely seen as being at the forefront of AI in Asia. Photo: Bloomberg

South China Morning Post: The Machines are Coming: China's role in the future of artificial intelligence

After a year of breakthroughs, experts believe they are on the brink of revolutionising our daily lives through artificial intelligence – and Asia can play a leading role in this brave new world

Try typing “the machines” into Google and chances are that one of the top results the artificial intelligence-powered search engine will return is the phrase: “The Machines are Coming”.

After a 2016 filled with high-profile advances in artificial intelligence (AI), leading technologists say this could be a breakout year in the development of intelligent machines that emulate humans.

Asia, until now lagging Silicon Valley in AI, will play a bigger role as the field cements itself at the pinnacle of the technology world in 2017, the experts say.

AI – technically, a computing field that involves the analysis of large troves of data to predict outcomes and patterns – is as old as modern computers but its esoteric nature means it has long endured caricatures of its actual potential – think for example, the 1960s space age cartoon The Jetsons, which featured a sentient robot maid and automated flying cars (both of which we are still waiting for, even 50 years on).

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CNS  Editor: Silicon Valley has always lead the way in developing AI platforms .... but it looks Asia wants to catch-up.

SpaceX Completes Rocket Explosion Investigation. Will Resume Rocket Launches Starting January 8



Space.com: SpaceX Completes Rocket Explosion Investigation, Aims for Jan. 8 Launch

WASHINGTON — SpaceX plans to resume Falcon 9 launches on Jan. 8 after completing the investigation into the pad explosion that destroyed another Falcon 9 four months ago.

In a statement posted on the SpaceX website Jan. 2, the company said the explosion was caused by the failure of one of three helium tanks, known as composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs), inside the liquid oxygen tank in the rocket’s second stage. The company had previously indicated that a COPV failure was a leading cause of the accident.

Each COPV is made of an aluminum liner surrounded by a carbon composite overwrap. Other COPVs recovered from the Falcon 9 showed buckling of their liners, although what caused the buckling isn't stated.

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More News On SpaceX Completing Its Rocket Explosion Investigation And Announcing That It Will Resume Rocket Launches Starting January 8

SpaceX finds failure cause, announces January 8 as target for flight resumption -- Phys.org
SpaceX eyes Jan. 8 return to satellite launches after finishing explosion investigation -- L.A. Times
SpaceX Launches Set to Resume in January -- WSJ
SpaceX announces cause of launchpad failure, plans for January 8 return to flight -- Extreme Tech
SpaceX Announces Cause of Falcon 9 Explosion, Sets New Launch Date -- Popular Mechanics

Instead Of Humans Will Robots Be The Ones Who Hire And Fire You In The Future?

US-based Bridgewater Associates is reportedly developing artificial intelligence

Daily Mail: Robots that hire and fire staff could soon be employed by the world's largest hedge fund in bid to improve efficiency

* US-based Bridgewater Associates is reportedly developing artificial intelligence
* The firm wants to use robots to hire and fire so emotions don't get in the way
* Billionaire founder Ray Dalio appointed Systemised Intelligence Lab for the job

Robots could soon be hiring and firing staff at the world’s largest hedge fund under secret plans drawn up to improve efficiency.

A team of engineers at US-based Bridgewater Associates is reportedly developing artificial intelligence which can run the firm without emotions getting in the way.

Billionaire founder Ray Dalio is seeking to create a new business model where most employees are programmers and decisions are made by a computer.

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WNU Editor: So much for hiring someone based on a "gut feeling".