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02-22-2018 Science&Technology
Why the White House wants to create a commercial space czar to oversee SpaceX and others

The National Space Council on Wednesday, headed by Vice President Pence, formally recommended that space commerce responsibilities be consolidated under the Commerce Department, while creating a sort of space czar — an undersecretary of space commerce to oversee “all commercial space regulatory functions.”

In a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, Pence also announced a plan to streamline licensing requirements for rockets that launch and then return, which the industry has been pushing for.

The Commerce Department would also work to cut back on regulations for remote sensing and the way spacecraft approach and interact with each other in space. The recommendations, which would need to be approved by the president, come as companies such as Planet are putting up constellations of satellites to beam back images of the Earth. And others, such as Space Systems Loral and Orbital ATK, are working to perform maintenance in space, which could extend the life of satellites on orbit.

The moves are designed to reduce regulations and help boost the commercial space industry as it begins to show momentum.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said during the meeting that American industry was competing “against 70 foreign governments, so they need all the support we can give them.” To do that, he said there would be a “new, one-stop shop for space commerce.”

“Asteroid mining, space tourism and space habitats are quickly becoming much more than science fiction,” he said. “And we need a future-oriented space commerce agenda.”

In a speech, Pence likened the emerging space industry to “the railroads that opened up the American West.” And he said that as “captains of industry turn their gaze to the infinite frontier,” they would “usher in a new era of American space leadership.” But he said companies are too often “stifled” by “outdated regulatory processes.”

Brian Weeden, a technical advisor for the Secure World Foundation, a space advocacy group, said it was a “big positive” to find a way for “the government to say ‘yes’ to all the new and innovative commercial activities, such as satellite servicing and asteroid mining, which currently don’t have a licensing process.” But he said that not all space activity can be put under the umbrella of the Commerce Department since the Federal Aviation Administration is required by law to license rocket launches, and the Federal Communications Commission licenses radio frequency spectrum use. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   The Washington Post

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02-22-2018 Science&Technology
What is Google Reply (and How It Works)

Google is developing a new AI-based messaging technology for Android dubbed Reply.

But instead of being a whole new app, Reply enhances messaging notifications, making it easier to respond to messages from a variety of apps, including WhatsApp, Twitter and Slack.

Reply streamlines messaging by giving users a series of options in the notifications for those messages. It's similar to the automatic email responses that Google introduced in Gmail Inbox and rolled into the official Gmail app.

While suggested replies can be yes or no responses if you're asked a simple question, the feature will also use its AI-based smarts for more complex queries. One example from Google shows Reply providing the estimated time it will take to drive home, when you've been asked "When can you be home?"

According to Android Police, Google's Area 120 group (which develops experimental projects) is managing Reply invitations, and promoted the app with this message:

You probably get a lot of chat messages. And you want to be there for people, but also for people in the real world. What if replying were literally one tap away?

Reply puts the Smart Reply you may know from Google right into notifications from the chat apps you use most often.

How to Install Reply

While users can sign up here to request access to the beta, the app itself has already leaked and is available to download from APK Mirror. You'll want to download that file onto your Android device, but before you can install it, you need to enable side-loading.

To do this, open Android's Settings app, tap Security and check the box next to Unknown Sources, which allows you to install apps from places other than the Google Play Store. Then, find the APK file you downloaded earlier, and open it to install.

Of course, we should note that you might want to disable side-loading after you install Reply, as keeping this feature always enabled leaves your device opened to the installation of malware.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tom's Guide

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02-22-2018 Science&Technology
AT&T has named the first US cities that will receive mobile 5G

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence Apps and Platforms Briefing subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider. To be the first to know, click here.

AT&T announced plans to roll out 5G mobile internet to consumers in a dozen US cities this year, including areas of Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, the company announced Wednesday.

The early mobile 5G deployments will be based on the newly accepted industry standard for 5G technology, which was affirmed in December by 3GPP, the international wireless standards body.

The 5G network will be powered by technologies including software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), which will enable the carrier to quickly develop, deploy, and protect the network. By 2020, AT&T plans to virtualize over 75% of its network, up from 55% in 2017, using the SDN framework.

To aid AT&T in its goal of becoming the first US company to launch a 5G cellular network, the company is launching a new 5G innovation center and test lab. The 5G lab is set to open in Austin, Texas, and will be used to conduct stress tests, simulating real-world customer experiences, before rolling out the technology to consumers. AT&T's first project at the lab, for instance, is the Advanced 5G NR Testbed System (ANTS), which will enable the carrier to trial novel and advanced features on a simulated 5G network for use on the company's 5G mobile network.

5G technology will pave the way for the adoption of new and advanced technologies.The ability of 5G to transmit data roughly 10 times as fast as 4G, the current standard, will revolutionize the connected world. The technology is expected to completely overhaul the tech industry thanks to its ability to connect and support a wide range of IoT-connected devices, enhance VR and AR experiences, and enable faster and more reliable mobile video.

Of course, AT&T isn't the only US carrier committed to being the first to deploy a 5G network in the US. AT&T is joining Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, all of which have already announced their 5G rollout plans. Verizon announced in December that it will offer wireless home broadband internet services in up to five US cities in 2018, starting with Sacramento, California. Meanwhile, Sprint and T-Mobile plan to launch 5G networks by the end of 2019.

Being a leader in 5G deployment is a major boon for AT&T considering high-speed internet is a must-have for wireless customers. Overall, 84% of consumers said that a high-speed mobile network is the most important offering to consider when selecting a wireless provider, according to BI Intelligence's exclusive Digital Telecom Consumer survey.

It hasn't been smooth sailing for telecoms in recent years. Native voice and messaging services, which once accounted for the vast majority of telecoms' subscriber revenue, are struggling to compete with over-the-top (OTT) apps, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber — and they're losing. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Business Insider

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02-22-2018 Cars
2019 Volvo V60 is your new lustworthy plug-in wagon

"Few car makers can match Volvo Cars' history and credibility in making well-designed, practical and versatile estate cars." That's a bold statement, direct from Volvo's press release. But let's face it, it's true. Look at the stunning V90, and then have a glance at this brand-new V60. You want an all-weather wagon that's drop-dead gorgeous? Nobody does it quite like Volvo.

Yes, the 60- and 90-series cars are all starting to look like Russian dolls -- the same basic formula in slightly different sizes -- but that's hardly reason for complaint. New Volvos are some of the best-looking cars on the road today, and the V60's design is yet another exercise in tasteful elegance. The "Thor's Hammer" LED lights proudly flank the grille, with large wheels at all four corners and L-shaped tail lamps that follow the shape of the D-pillar and then slice inward toward the center of the hatch. ...

The most obvious difference between the V60 and big-brother V90 is in length. The V60 is almost 7 inches shorter than the V90, though the wheelbase length has only been reduced by 3.9 inches. Elsewhere, the V60 is only an inch or two smaller in both width and height.

Good luck spotting any big differences inside the cabin. The V60's interior is visually identical to that of the XC60 crossover and 90-series cars, with a vertically oriented touchscreen in the center console, only a few buttons and knobs below it, a digital gauge cluster and the same lovely wood and aluminum inlays on the dash and doors. The Sensus infotainment system carries over unchanged, is fully compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and has a built-in 4G wifi hotspot.

Six powertrains will be offered worldwide: two T5 and T6 petrol engines, two D3 and D4 diesels (not for the US, of course -- especially with their six-speed manual transmissions), and two gasoline-electric plug-in hybrids. That's right, Volvo is expanding its plug-in offerings, and the V60 is the first model to use the smaller T6 Twin Engine setup, in addition to the larger T8.

The 2.0-liter turbo inline-four engine in the T6 produces 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and only comes with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Volvo says this combination allows the V60 to sprint to 62 miles per hour in a respectable 5.8 seconds. Base T5 engine specs aren't available just yet.

Both Twin Engine plug-in hybrids essentially use the same powertrain: A 2.0-liter gasoline inline-four paired with a 65-kilowatt electric motor, an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Cnet

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02-22-2018 Business
Broadcom trims Qualcomm offer to $117 billion after new NXP deal

(Reuters) - Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O) cut its bid for Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) on Wednesday by 4 percent to $117 billion, after the latter raised the stakes in the chipmaker takeover battle with a sweetened $44 billion agreement to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O).

The move came after Broadcom called the new NXP deal a transfer of value from Qualcomm to NXP shareholders. Broadcom criticized Qualcomm on Wednesday for not liaising with it before raising its NXP bid, as proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc had recommended.

With no new meeting scheduled yet between Qualcomm and Broadcom and tensions between the two rising, a showdown at Qualcomm’s shareholder meeting on March 6 looked increasingly likely. Broadcom has put forward six nominees for election to Qualcomm’s 11-member board as it seeks to force negotiations.

“Qualcomm’s board acted against the best interests of its stockholders by unilaterally transferring excessive value to NXP’s activist stockholders,” Broadcom said in its statement on Wednesday.

Qualcomm shares were trading down 1.2 percent at $63.24 in morning trading in New York on Wednesday, while Broadcom shares were flat at $249.72.

Qualcomm raised its offer for NXP from $110 to $127.50 per share in cash on Tuesday. In exchange, it received binding agreements from nine NXP stockholders that collectively own more than 28 percent of NXP’s outstanding shares to support the deal. These include hedge funds Elliott Advisors (UK) Ltd and Soroban Capital Partners LP, which had spearheaded opposition to the NXP deal and argued for a higher price.

Broadcom’s latest $82 per share cash-and-stock offer for Qualcomm was contingent on it buying NXP at its earlier offered price of $110 per share. Broadcom said on Wednesday that if the NXP deal goes ahead at $127.50, it will reduce the cash portion of its bid for Qualcomm by $3 per share.

Qualcomm is contractually obligated to complete the NXP deal, so that acquisition could only fall apart if not enough NXP shareholders support the tender offer or Chinas’ MOFCOM, the only regulator globally that has yet to approve the deal, blocks it.

Under the new terms agreed with NXP’s board, the deal with Qualcomm is contingent on 70 percent of NXP’s shares being tendered, instead of the 80 percent threshold required in the earlier agreement signed in October 2016. Once this threshold is reached, Qualcomm can take over the entire company through a “second-step” transaction mechanism.

NXP shares were trading at $125.90 on Wednesday, close to the new deal price, indicating that most investors think the acquisition will go through.

Broadcom said on Wednesday other conditions of the proposed merger agreement remained unchanged, including an $8 billion breakup fee to be paid to Qualcomm should regulators thwart the deal. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Reuters

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02-22-2018 Science&Technology
200,000 Tweets By Troll Accounts During 2016 Election Leaked

Since the unexpected election of Donald Trump as president, questions about Russia's role in the election have emerged. U.S. intelligence services say that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

Russia allegedly used social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to spread disinformation throughout the election to sway voters in favor of Donald Trump. Twitter responded to finding Russian-backed trolls on its website by purging more than 200,000 tweets.

Russian Propaganda

NBC News published more than 200,000 tweets that Twitter deleted from accounts tied to Russia. The tweets are from the time of the 2016 presidential election. These accounts are linked to the Russian-backed group, the Internet Research Association (IRA.)

IRA has been deemed by the U.S. Intelligence Community to be tied to Russia's attempts to influence the election. Twitter says that about 1.4 million users have received notifications from the service telling them that they may have followed or interacted with IRA-linked accounts.

To combat the Russian interference, Twitter gave Congress a list of 3,814 accounts connected to the IRA. Twitter suspended these accounts, removing all of their related tweets from the internet. This gets rid of the kinds of tweets that these accounts were sharing.

These accounts would use tragedies like terrorist attacks, shootings, and deaths to get reactions out of people. They would also use breaking news, terrorist attacks, and conspiracy theories to spread their influence among the online community.

The 200,000 tweets show how the IRA was able to impersonate Americans and influence the opinions of voting blocks to get Donald Trump elected. It created a spreadsheet with the tweets, since they have been removed by Twitter.

Continued Russian Meddling

While the 2016 presidential election may now be far from people's minds, Twitter continues to be used by Russia to influence American politics. In January, Democrats were trying to stop Rep. Devin Nunes from releasing a four-page memo that contained selective information about FBI surveillance on Trump adviser Carter Page.

Russian trolls were able to coordinate to promote the #releasethememo hashtag online. The hashtag rose in popularity in a few hours on Jan. 18. After fueling speculation about what the memo would be about, Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees wrote a letter to Twitter and Facebook to find out whether or not it was driven by Russian support. Many accounts ending with 8-digits tweeted in support of the memo. These accounts in the past have been found to be connected with Russian bot accounts.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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02-22-2018 Science&Technology
Steven Seagal Endorses Cryptocurrency Startup With Questionable Scheme

Nineties action movie star Steven Seagal is throwing his name behind a cryptocurrency startup called Bitcoiin 2Gen. The name of the cryptocurrency is not a typographical error.

Bitcoiin 2Gen does not have a value yet as it is still preparing to go through an initial coin offering (ICO) to determine its value. This early, however, it has a handful of issues if examined thoroughly.

Bitcoiin 2Gen

Information currently available on Bitcoiin is scarce. Its website fails to include who is behind the ICO or who is paying Steven Seagal.

On its whitepaper, there are many claims about the cryptocurrency. It is described as the first "self-sustaining" cryptocurrency without explaining what this claim means for the company.

Bitcoiin claims to have 2G technology based on the Ethereum blockchain. To further complicate matters, it lists its business location on the whitepaper as anonymous.

There are no details about who is behind Bitcoiin. The domain for the cryptocurrency was registered in 2015 in Panama, and it changed owners in the beginning of January according to Mashable.

Bitcoiin does not do itself any favor by showing a recruitment plan on the whitepaper, which essentially looks like a pyramid scheme. Using the actual shape, it depicts a four-level recruitment plan that is not detailed.

A press release by Bitcoiin announces Seagal as brand ambassador while touting his many accomplishments. Seagal is described as "Zen Master" by the company and is shown using an old Chinese saying.

SEC Warning on ICOs

The Securities and Exchange Commission previously issued a statement warning people about the dangers of celebrity-backed ICOs. In the statement, the SEC goes on to say that this involvement could possibly be illegal due to the lack of disclosure behind cryptocurrencies.

"Celebrities and others are using social media networks to encourage the public to purchase stocks and other investments," the SEC warns in a statement in November 2017. "These endorsements may be unlawful if they do not disclose the nature, source, and amount of any compensation paid, directly or indirectly, by the company in exchange for the endorsement."

The SEC urges caution when investing into cryptocurrencies that feature celebrity spokespersons, like what Bitcoiin is doing. It further advises that consumers should do a large amount of research on the subject before investing, and that relying on the word of celebrities may not the best investing advice.

SEC goes on to note that while the endorsement may seem like an unbiased recommendation, it could be a paid promotion. It warns that the people endorsing the cryptocurrency may not have a background or expertise on the subject to be able to provide a recommendation.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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02-22-2018 Games
Blade’s ambitious PC game streaming platform finally launches in the US today

French startup Blade announced today that its Shadow game streaming service is launching in California, marking the first time the company will be making its product available in the US. Blade has been operating in France since July 2016, where it opened its first data center operation. (The service only works at low latency if a user is physically near their dedicated machine.) After a launch in the UK last month and a round of live demos ahead of this year’s CES back in January, Blade is ready to bring its service Stateside, thanks to a partnership with San Jose’s Equinix Datacenter.

The Shadow service costs $34.95 a month with a one-year service commitment, $39.95 for a three-month one, or $49.95 a month with no commitment. For that subscription fee, users are given access to what Blade says is a $2,000 remote Windows 10 PC, with access to the device streamed over the internet. Blade says it plans on expanding US access beyond California later this year.

To access Shadow, users can rent a streaming box from the company that’s essentially a video decoder. Blade says it houses an AMD Falcon CPU and mostly handles complex changes in resolution and frame rates. The box also handles peripherals, so you can plug in a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and headset, and all of it works together as the desktop component. In addition to the Shadow Box, Blade has apps for Mac, Windows, and Android, with iOS coming soon.

This arrangement allows you to keep the box hooked up at home and use Blade’s Shadow app for playing on the go with your phone, tablet, or standard laptop, so long as your connection speed is at least 15 Mbps. The Shadow Box works only if it’s connected to the internet via Ethernet, and Blade says it costs an additional $10 per month to rent or $140 outright. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   The Verge

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02-21-2018 Science&Technology
Google Chrome Now Automatically Shortens And Cleans Up Messy URLs When You Share Them

The latest update to Google Chrome, version 64, now cleans up rather messy links for sharing, making them more seemly URLs rather than winding, verbose letter and number combos that don't make sense.

Now, when a user shares an item, they'll no longer see the longer URL, since Chrome will automatically convert the long tracking link into the primary link. This occurs via the Share menu or simply copying the link and pasting it somewhere else.

Google Chrome Now Shorten URLs For You

While it truncates the extra bits of the URL, it doesn't actually affect the actual link. The recipient of the shortened URL will still be able to access the exact page shared. There's still the option to share links in full by copying them directly from the address bar.

As Android Police points out, while this seems like a really handy feature for most people, it does have a few cons. For starters, if a URL contains anchor tags, that brings a user to a specific part of a page that features, say, a long article — not so with a shortened link. That means visiting a link automatically shortened by Chrome will only bring the user to the top of the page.

That of course could be troublesome for most people who just want to share a certain part of an article or want to continue reading on another device later and don't particularly fancy scrolling through blocks of text just to resume their reading. Purely from an aesthetics standpoint, however, it does make URLs look much, much cleaner and less chaotic. Users can always copy the full link if so they choose, anyway.

Other Improvements On Chrome

Automatic URL shortening isn't the only new thing on the latest version of Chrome, either. Google has been working to make its browser more secure, less annoying, and easier to use. In both desktop and mobile versions, ads — especially annoying and grating ones — are being pulled by the built-in filter, allowing for more pleasant browsing experiences while surfing.

By default, Chrome now blocks intrusive ads, ads that autoplay, ads that take up a significant part of the page, pop-ups, redirect ads, huge sticky ads, webpages that block content with a countdown timer, and much more. Blocking all these seems like a drastic move from Google, especially when advertising is one of its biggest money makers. But it's a necessary change to improve how its user experiences the web through its browser.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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02-21-2018 Science&Technology
Amazon uses cash back benefits to entice Prime members to Whole Foods

Amazon's latest grocery push focuses on enticing Prime members to shop at Whole Foods with cash back. Amazon announced that Prime members using the company's Rewards Visa card will now get 5 percent back on Whole Foods purchases. The new rewards are in addition to the card's existing rewards for eligible Prime members, which include 5 percent back on purchases; 2 percent back on restaurant, gas station, and drugstore purchases; and 1 percent back on everything else.

You don't have to be a Prime member to be approved for Amazon's Rewards Visa, but it pays if you are. Non-Prime members will get only 3 percent back on Whole Foods purchases under the new plan, which is the same as the 3 percent back those cardmembers get on purchases already.

This is the first time Amazon extended its 5 percent back perk to a retailer aside from Amazon. This could persuade Prime members who are also cardholders to shop at Whole Foods more. Since Amazon's purchase of the supermarket chain last year, it has been trying to encourage more people (especially Prime members) to shop at the grocer. Amazon slashed some Whole Foods' prices almost immediately after the acquisition, and recently the company expanded its Prime Now two-hour delivery to include Whole Foods items in a few markets.

Amazon is hoping discounts, cash back benefits, and speedy delivery times will encourage Prime members to make all of their grocery purchases at Whole Foods. Amazon may be an online retail giant, but the grocery market is difficult to break into and even more difficult to dominate. The acquisition of Whole Foods helps Amazon by providing more brick-and-mortar locations than the company had before, as many customers still prefer to purchase groceries at a local store. While Amazon has online shopping down to a science, it may have to offer just as many in-store perks as online perks to lure more customers to Whole Foods.

Read Original Article     ON:   Ars Technica

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02-21-2018 Science&Technology
Qualcomm's Higher NXP Bid Secures OK From Elliott Management's Paul Singer

Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM - Get Report) on Tuesday Feb. 20, revealed that it scored a big victory in its effort to close its acquisition of NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI - Get Report) after the chipmaker hiked its bid to $127.50 a share, or $44 billion, in a move that appeased the activist investor, Paul Singer's Elliott Management, that was at its gate.

Many observers consider that approval from Singer's fund represented the biggest hurdle remaining for Qualcomm in its effort to close its NXP acquisition. And the increased prospects for the deal's consummation also creates yet another complicating factor for chipmaker Broadcom Ltd. (AVGO - Get Report) , which is seeking to acquire Qualcomm and recently hiked its hostile bid for the chipmaker to $82 a share.

Qualcomm said in a statement that it was increasing its bid from a previous $110 for NXP and that it has secured binding agreements from more than 28% of NXP's shares for the higher offer. It also added that Elliott Management and Soroban Capital Partners LP, another sometimes activist fund, have both agreed to tender their shares at that price, a 16% increase from its previous offer. Elliott Management owns a 7.2% stake, the majority of it made up of common shares. In addition, Qualcomm said it lowered the minimum tender conditions for it to be able to close its acquisition from 80% of NXP shares to 70%.

"Elliott believes that this revised transaction is an attractive outcome for shareholders of both Qualcomm and NXP," the fund said in a statement.

The move is a big win for Qualcomm and allows it to move one step closer to the consummation of its acquisition. Qualcomm is still seeking approval from 42% of NXP shares it still needs to close the deal and it also still needs approval from the Ministry of Commerce in China, but it has already received the go-ahead from the other eight government regulators it needs for the deal.

However, it looks increasingly likely that Qualcomm will be able to close the transaction in the coming months, a move that could encourage Qualcomm shareholders to vote against Broadcom's hostile acquisition offer.

Broadcom has said it would agree to acquire Qualcomm whether or not the NXP deal is completed. However, on Saturday, Feb. 17, it received a major blow to its hostile acquisition effort after influential investor advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended that investors only back a minority of four out of six dissident director candidates it had nominated for Qualcomm's 11-person board. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   The Street

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02-21-2018 Science&Technology

A ferocious storm has battered Jupiter for at least 188 years. From Earth, it is observed as red swirling clouds racing counter-clockwise in what is known as the planet's "Great Red Spot." But after shrinking for centuries, it may now be on the brink of disappearing for good.

“In truth, the GRS [Great Red Spot] has been shrinking for a long time,” lead Juno mission team member and planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Glenn Orton told Business Insider in an email.

"The GRS will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle). Maybe sometime after that the GRM"—the Great Red Memory.

NASA’s Juno mission aims to better understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. The Juno spacecraft passed by the planet for the first time in April 2017. It has captured the closest ever images of the storm, revealing how much the spot has diminished.

In the 19th century, the storm was well over twice the width of Earth according to NASA. By 2017 it had shrunk to just 10,000 miles across—that’s just 1.3 times the diameter of Earth. The oval storm has diminished by one-third in width and one-eighth in height since NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 passed by Jupiter on their way to Saturn in 1979.

On Earth, even the longest storms last a matter of weeks, not years. But, on other planets they can last for incredibly long periods of time.

Orton explained: "Think of the GRS as a spinning wheel that keeps on spinning because it's caught between two conveyor belts that are moving in opposite directions. The GRS is stable and long-lived, because it's 'wedged' between two jet streams that are moving in opposite directions."

These powerful jet speeds can funnel great force onto storms spinning in the opposite direction to the planet’s rotation. This keeps "feeding momentum into the vortex," Orton said.

The many thousands of miles of atmosphere surrounding Jupiter allow these storms to persist for hundreds of years, unlike on Earth.

Earth’s jet streams are influenced by the closeness of the dynamic atmosphere to the planet's land and sea, as well as it's slower rotation compared to Jupiter. This leads to much less dramatic weather systems and much shorter storms. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   News Week

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02-16-2018 Environment
Monster Antarctic Iceberg Gets Its Big Break in First-of-Its-Kind Video

To capture the incredible video and stills, cameras carried by helicopters circled over and around the iceberg, called A-68, as it continued to move into the Weddell Sea, away from the Larsen C ice shelf. The massive iceberg weighs an estimated 1 trillion tons and spans more than 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers). It has been described as about the size of Delaware, twice the size of Luxembourg or roughly four times the size of London.

Whatever your frame of reference, the newly released video and images confirm that A-68 is an impressive sight. Seen from the sky as the helicopter flies alongside the iceberg, A-68 towers above the sea ice surrounding it. Though it is about 623 feet (190 meters) thick, only about 100 feet (30 m) of it is visible above the ocean surface, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) representatives said in a statement. [In Photos: Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf Through Time]

Larsen C, where A-68 originated, was one of Antarctica's largest ice shelves. These vast structures build up over thousands of years, forming when ice sheets and glaciers on land flow past the coastline and over the ocean. By contrast, sea ice forms on the ocean surface when seawater freezes and is typically just a few meters thick.

In 2010, a large crack formed on Larsen C's western peninsula. The crack grew for years; scientists monitored it for years with satellites as it gradually expanded. A second crack appeared in May 2017, further weakening the shelf.

By June 2017, only 8 miles (13 km) of ice tethered the iceberg-to-be to Larsen C, and when the big break happened between July 10 and July 12 of last year, giant iceberg A-68 was born. When it separated and drifted away from the ice shelf, Larsen C lost approximately 10 percent of its surface area; this is the smallest the shelf has measured since record keeping began in the 1960s, according to the BAS.

Researchers tracking A-68 reported in August 2017 that it had traveled about 3 miles (5 km) from Larsen C and that it was breaking apart even further, with smaller "bergy bits" calving from the larger iceberg. The biggest of these minibergs measured about 8 miles long, BAS representatives said in a statement released that month.

Over the past two decades, Antarctica's western peninsula has suffered substantial ice loss in three of its ice shelves, Live Science previously reported. Though there is no simple explanation for why Larsen C fractured, atmospheric warming trends and changes in the surrounding ocean due to climate change may have contributed to the shelf's collapse, BAS representatives reported in the statement.

However, such upheavals could also be part of the ice shelf's normal cycle, according to the BAS.

Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf lost about 10 percent of its area when iceberg A-68 broke away in July 2017. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Live Science

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02-16-2018 Cars
2019 Veloster N might be the best-sounding Hyundai ever

The fellas over at The Straight Pipe got a pre-production Veloster N and drove the pants off of it to see how it sounds.

We like to think that we're pretty well informed when it comes to the happenings in the automotive world, but to be honest, we were caught off-guard when Hyundai dropped the Veloster N on everybody at the Detroit Auto Show. The N has an incredible spec sheet, and from the moment we saw it, we had to know how it sounded. Thankfully, the wait to do so wasn't as long as we thought it would be.

Just to refresh your memory, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N makes 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It has independent rear suspension, a six-speed manual gearbox and an electronic limited-slip front differential. It's a serious contender for hot the hot hatch crown.

The crew over at the YouTube channel The Straight Pipes somehow pestered Hyundai into giving them access to a pre-production Veloster N which they then proceeded to thrash on the highways and byways of what we're guessing is Ontario, Canada. They set their chase car up with exterior mics, and these are the results without any crappy distracting music or nonsense. Get excited.

So yeah, the Veloster N sounds way meaner than even we thought it would. It's hard to say in a video, but it may even sound better than the Golf R and Civic Type R in stock form. We still have no idea where the Veloster N will fall in terms of pricing but, we're betting that it will present ample bang for one's buck considering the company that's building it. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Cnet

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02-15-2018 Science&Technology
Here’s what we just learned (and what we still don’t know) about Magic Leap

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz took the stage at the Code Media conference today with some new details about his company’s much-anticipated headset, Magic Leap One.

You can watch the full video of his interview right here:

But if you’re short on time, here’s a cheat sheet to some of the new tidbits he shared. Unfortunately, answers to some of the biggest questions — like when in 2018 the headset is coming out and how much it will cost, exactly — are still M.I.A.

It’s not augmented reality (or so they say). Some people call what Magic Leap is doing “augmented reality,” because the headset will display digital media on top of the real world. Some call it “mixed reality” because those digital things will be integrated into your environment — for example, you’ll be able to pin NBA highlights to your wall, effectively creating a TV screen where none exists. But because people now think of “augmented reality” as something you do with your phone, Abovitz has his own confusing term for what Magic Leap is doing: “Spatial computing.” After the video, Abovitz confirmed that the 7-foot-1-inch basketball-star-turned-commentator was wearing a “Magic Leap Large,” which, as The Verge’s Adi Robertson pointed out, seems to confirm that there will be multiple sizes of the headset ...

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02-15-2018 Science&Technology
Elon Musk Explains Why the Falcon Heavy Center Core Crashed

The first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket last week was a smashing success, but not everything went perfectly. While SpaceX was able to recover two of the three first stage boosters, the center core failed to land on the drone ship. CEO Elon Musk has provided a bit more insight on what went wrong with that part of the flight. It turns out to be a fairly simple fix.

The Falcon Heavy is composed of three Falcon 9 boosters. The side boosters used in the Falcon Heavy launch were previously flown and recovered. Several minutes after liftoff, they split off from the core and made their way back down to Cape Canaveral. In a truly stunning display of precision, the pair of rockets landed at LZ-1 and LZ-2 near launch complex 39-A at almost the same moment. Musk says these boosters won’t be flown again.

SpaceX ended its live broadcast on launch day without providing an update on the fate of the center core. That one disconnected from the second stage (complete with Tesla Roadster) a few minutes after the side boosters dropped off. The core was structurally reinforced to accommodate the side boosters, but it was otherwise a standard Falcon 9. The plan was for the core to execute three engine burns to fly down to the company’s drone ship for an ocean landing. SpaceX has successfully landed multiple Falcon 9 rockets on the ship in the past.

We learned several hours after the launch that the center core had indeed crashed, but only now do we have an explanation. According to Musk, the core didn’t have enough ignition fluid to light the two outer engines of the booster for its final approach to the ship. As a result, the rocket crashed into the sea about 328 feet from the ship going over 300 miles per hour.

Landing the center core was always going to be a greater challenge than the side boosters. It was going faster, and it reached a higher altitude before disconnecting from the second stage. In future launches, the center core just needs more ignition fluid to ensure it can relight its engines before landing.

SpaceX is confident it can keep recovering boosters from Falcon Heavy launches. It’s in the process of building a third drone ship, which will be its second on the east coast of the US. That will allow it to conduct dual ocean landings for the side boosters.

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