Mars Is a Seismically Active World, First Results From NASA's InSight Lander Reveal

8 hours 32 minutes ago
The first results from NASA's quake-hunting InSight Mars lander just came out, and they reveal that Mars is a seismically active planet. Space.com reports: Martian seismicity falls between that of the moon and that of Earth, [says InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. "In fact, it's probably close to the kind of seismic activity you would expect to find away from the [tectonic] plate boundaries on Earth and away from highly deformed areas," he said. InSight's observations will help scientists better understand how rocky planets such as Mars, Earth and Venus form and evolve, mission team members have said. The mission's initial science returns, which were published today (Feb. 21) in six papers in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, show that InSight is on track to meet that long-term goal, Banerdt said. The new studies cover the first 10 months of InSight's tenure on Mars, during which the lander detected 174 seismic events. These quakes came in two flavors. One hundred and fifty of them were shallow, small-magnitude tremors whose vibrations propagated through the Martian crust. The other 24 were a bit stronger and deeper, with origins at various locales in the mantle, InSight team members said. (But even those bigger quakes weren't that powerful; they landed in the magnitude 3 to 4 range. Here on Earth, quakes generally must be at least magnitude 5.5 to damage buildings.) That was the tremor tally through September 2019. InSight has been busy since then as well; its total quake count now stands at about 450, Banerdt said. And all of this shaking does indeed originate from Mars itself, he added; as far as the team can tell, none of the vibrations were caused by meteorites hitting the Red Planet. So, there's a lot going on beneath the planet's surface. What's interesting to note is that unlike Earth, where most quakes are caused by tectonic plates sliding around, Mars' quakes are caused by the long-term cooling of the planet since its formation 4.5 billion years ago. "As the planet cools, it contracts, and then the brittle outer layers then have to fracture in order to sort of maintain themselves on the surface," Banerdt said. "That's kind of the long-term source of stresses." "A wealth of information can be gleaned from InSight's quake measurements," reports Space.com. "For example, analyses of how the seismic waves move through the Martian crust suggest there are small amounts of water mixed in with the rock, mission team members said." They can't say one way or the other whether there are large underground reservoirs of water at this point, but the research is convincing. The new papers also mention a variety of other discoveries as well. "For example, InSight is the first mission ever to tote a magnetometer to the Martian surface, and that instrument detected a local magnetic field about 10 times stronger than would be expected based on orbital measurements," the report says. "InSight is also taking a wealth of weather data, measuring pressure many times per second and temperature once every few seconds. This information helps the mission team better understand environmental noise that could complicate interpretations of the seismic observations, but it also has considerable stand-alone value."

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The Perfect Way To Cook Fried Rice, According To Science

12 hours 2 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Food & Wine Magazine: Fried rice is one of those dishes where the name practically tells you how to make it. But the key to cooking perfect fried rice is in the details: not just the ingredients but also the equipment and technique. Traditionally, the dish is made in a wok with chefs continually tossing the rice to avoid caramelization and burning. It led a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology to wonder, is there an optimal way to cook fried rice? Turns out, yes, and the pros have pretty much nailed it -- though the researchers do have a suggestion. Published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the study "The physics of tossing fried rice" delivers on what the title promises -- analyzing the technique of five professional chefs to better understand their cooking technique. [The] research confirmed that handling a wok is tough business. In the technique used by professionals, "The key is using the stove rim as the fulcrum of [a] see-saw motion," according to the paper, resulting in the rice being tossed at a rapid 2.7 times per second. "We show that the wok is always contacting the stove and getting support from it so that the chef wouldn't have to lift it," Hungtang Ko, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, who co-authored the study, stated. "Most importantly, we show that the wok motions adopted by the chefs are really some sort of optimal [motion] for the rice grains to jump the farthest." And yet, after developing a mathematical model that successfully described the wok tossing process, Ko and co-author David Hu, the professor who runs the lab, came up with some potential improvements. "Tossing is a combination of two independent motions, a side to side motion and a see-saw motion, allowing rice grains to slide around the wok as well as to jump off the surface," the conclusion of the paper states. "We identify two critical parameters that chefs can vary: the frequency of tossing and the phase lag between the two motions applied. By filming professional chefs, we found that, at the frequency chosen by chefs, the phase difference performed is optimal for mixing. We suggest that future chefs increase the frequency of motion, which may enable rice to jump further, and promote cooling and mixing." Ko and Hu point out that 64.5 percent of Chinese restaurant chefs complain of shoulder pain, likely in part to all that wok work. As a result, Ko believes his research might help "guide the design of robots that can mix granular materials efficiently and rapidly." He adds: "It also paves ways for designing assistive robotic devices that chefs can wear to reduce the burden from the arm muscles."

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How China Is Hunting Down Coronavirus Critics

13 hours 30 minutes ago
"As China ramps up efforts to control the narrative around the coronavirus outbreak, it is also expanding its efforts to leverage online platforms to track down people who dare to speak out," reports Vice. "From tracking down Twitter users using their mobile numbers to hacking WeChat accounts to find out someone's location, Beijing is eager to stop any negative news from being shared online -- and is will to use intimidation, arrests and threats of legal action." From the report: Joshua Left, a 28-year-old entrepreneur who runs a self-driving car startup in Wuhan, China, arrived in San Francisco in mid-January for a vacation, just as the first reports of a new "SARS-like" virus outbreak in China reached the U.S. He almost immediately began worrying about his family back in his hometown of Wuhan, where the disease appeared to originate, and where panic was starting to set in. Concerned that his family might not be getting information on the scale of the burgeoning epidemic, he posted messages on his WeChat account sharing information he was afraid were not available inside China. "But then things started to get weird," he told VICE News. Left, who asked not to be identified by his full Chinese name, said he first received a warning message from WeChat administrators. Then he began receiving strangely specific messages that appeared to come from four of his friends on WeChat, all asking him for his location, what hotel he was staying at in San Francisco, what his room number was, and what his U.S. phone number was. Then his cell phone received a warning message that someone in Shanghai was trying to log into his account. Finally, when he wouldn't tell them where he was staying, the same accounts all simultaneously began urging him to return to China as soon as possible. Left told VICE News the he believes his friends only sent the messages after they were coerced by agents from the Ministry of State Security in an attempt to get him to reveal his location, and part of a much wider effort by the Chinese government to crack down on any dissenting voices who are sharing content related to the coronavirus outbreak. The report also mentions a separate incident where agents from the Ministry of State Security detained and interrogated a Chinese resident for criticizing the Chinese government's delayed response to the coronavirus outbreak on Twitter. After the resident refused to meet with the Ministry over the phone, the agents showed up at his front door with a screenshot of his tweet that they say "attacks the Communist Party of China." The resident was forced to sign a "promise note" saying he would not repeat the "threat" he had made.

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Hydro-Quebec To Commercialize Glass Battery Co-Developed By John Goodenough

16 hours 52 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: A rapid-charging and non-flammable battery developed in part by 2019 Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough has been licensed for development by the Canadian electric utility Hydro-Quebec. The utility says it hopes to have the technology ready for one or more commercial partners in two years. Hydro-Quebec, according to Karim Zaghib, general director of the utility's Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, has been commercializing patents with Goodenough's parent institution, the University of Texas at Austin, for the past 25 years. As Spectrum reported in 2017, Goodenough and Maria Helena Braga, professor of engineering at the University of Porto in Portugal, developed a solid-state lithium rechargeable that used a glass doped with alkali metals as the battery's electrolyte. (The electrolyte is the material between cathode and anode and is often a liquid in today's batteries, which typically means it's also flammable and potentially vulnerable to battery fires.) Braga said her and Goodenough's battery is high capacity, charges in "minutes rather than hours," performs well in both hot and cold weather, and that its solid-state electrolyte is not flammable. Hydro-Quebec's Gen 3 battery "can be glass or ceramic, but it is not a [lithium] polymer," Zaghib said of the Goodenough/Braga battery's electrolyte. "So with Daimler (which is also working with Hydro-Quebec to develop a second-gen lithium solid-state battery), it's an organic compound, and with John Goodenough, it's an inorganic compound. The inorganic compound has higher ionic conductivity compared to the polymer." "That means the ions shuttle back and forth more readily between cathode and anode, which could potentially improve a battery's capacity, charging speed, or other performance metrics," adds IEEE Spectrum. We interviewed John B. Goodenough soon after his solid-state battery was announced. You can read his responses to your questions here.

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Coronavirus Outbreak Has 'Pandemic Potential' But It's Not There Yet, WHO Says

18 hours 10 minutes ago
The deadly outbreak of a novel coronavirus has the world on edge, but it has not yet developed into a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. From a report: Although WHO has declared the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern," the outbreak has not met the criteria needed to be described as a pandemic when it comes to its geographical spread and impact, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing with reporters on Monday. "Our decision about whether to use the word 'pandemic' to describe an epidemic is based on an ongoing assessment of the geographical spread of the virus, the severity of disease it causes and the impact it has on the whole society," Ghebreyesus said during the briefing. "For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or deaths," he said. "Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet from our assessment? Not yet. So how should we describe the current situation? What we see are epidemics in different parts of the world, affecting countries in different ways and requiring a tailored response."

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Labs in the US Will Start Looking For the New Coronavirus This Week

20 hours 10 minutes ago
Six public health labs in the US plan to start monitoring the general population for the new coronavirus this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the risk of the virus still remains low for the general population. But activating the disease surveillance network will allow the CDC and other public health officials to find any undetected virus circulating through the country. From a report: "It's important because right now, all the efforts are focused on people who have a direct link to China, or a direct link to lab-confirmed cases. There's no system in place to detect low-level transmission that might be under the radar," says Edward Belongia, the director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. The six labs -- in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City -- are already part of the nationwide influenza surveillance network, and they conduct regular monitoring of all types of viruses. At the labs, samples from sick people are tested for various pathogens, creating a big-picture look at how much various diseases are spreading through the community. Surveillance hasn't started yet, in part because of problems with the test for the novel coronavirus developed by the CDC. The test that will be used for surveillance that was designed to diagnose people who have symptoms of the illness caused by the virus called COVID-19. It was distributed to public health labs around the country last week, but the majority of the labs had trouble running it. The CDC says this often happens during the rollout of a new test, but it has not specified what the reasons for the errors are. Vote in our coronavirus poll.

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Katherine Johnson Dies at 101; Mathematician Broke Barriers at NASA

1 day ago
The New York Times: They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them. Wielding little more than a pencil, a slide rule and one of the finest mathematical minds in the country, Mrs. Johnson, whose death at 101 was announced on Monday by NASA, calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong's history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth. A single error, she well knew, could have dire consequences for craft and crew. Her impeccable calculations had already helped plot the successful flight of Alan B. Shepard Jr., who became the first American in space when his Mercury spacecraft went aloft in 1961. The next year, she likewise helped make it possible for John Glenn, in the Mercury vessel Friendship 7, to become the first American to orbit the Earth. Yet throughout Mrs. Johnson's 33 years in NASA's Flight Research Division -- the office from which the American space program sprang -- and for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name. Mrs. Johnson was one of several hundred rigorously educated, supremely capable yet largely unheralded women who, well before the modern feminist movement, worked as NASA mathematicians. But it was not only her sex that kept her long marginalized and long unsung: Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, a West Virginia native who began her scientific career in the age of Jim Crow, was also African-American. In old age, Mrs. Johnson became the most celebrated of the small cadre of black women -- perhaps three dozen -- who at midcentury served as mathematicians for the space agency and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Their story was told in the 2016 Hollywood film "Hidden Figures," based on Margot Lee Shetterly's nonfiction book of the same title, published that year. The movie starred Taraji P. Henson as Mrs. Johnson, the film's central figure. It also starred Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae as her real-life colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

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Katherine Johnson, NASA's Pioneering Mathematician and Physicist, Dead at 101

1 day ago
Katherine Johnson, one of the NASA mathematicians and physicists depicted in "Hidden Figures," died Monday, the administrator of NASA said. She was 101. From a report: Johnson "was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter. Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the Oscar nominated 2016 film "Hidden Figures" about trailblazing black women whose work at NASA was integral during the Space Race.

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Would Star Trek's Transporters Kill and Replace You?

1 day 19 hours ago
schwit1 quotes Syfy Wire: There is, admittedly, some ambiguity about precisely how Trek's transporters work. The events of some episodes subtly contradict events in others. The closest thing to an official word we have is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, which states that when a person enters a transporter, they are scanned by molecular imaging scanners that convert a person into a subatomically deconstructed matter stream. That's all a fancy-pants way of saying it takes you apart, atom by atom, and converts your matter into energy. That energy can then be beamed to its destination, where it's reconstructed. According to Trek lore, we're meant to believe this is a continuous process. Despite being deconstructed and rebuilt on the other end, you never stop being "you...." [Alternately] the fact that you are scanned, deconstructed, and rebuilt almost immediately thereafter only creates the illusion of continuity. In reality, you are killed and then something exactly like you is born, elsewhere. If the person constructed on the other end is identical to you, down to the atomic level, is there any measurable difference from it being actually you? Those are questions we can't begin to answer. What seems clear — whatever the technical manual says — is you die when you enter a transporter, however briefly. The article also cites estimates that it would take three gigajoules of energy (about one bolt of lightning) to disassemble somebody's atoms, and 10 to the 28th power kilobytes to then hold all that information -- and 2.6 tredecillion bits of data to transmit it. "The estimated time to transmit, using the standard 30 GHz microwave band used by communications satellites, would take 350,000 times longer than the age of the universe."

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EditorDavid

City Sues Drug Manufacturer Mallinckrodt Over 97,500% Price Increase

2 days 16 hours ago
McGruber quotes Atlanta TV station WSB: The city of Marietta, Georgia is suing drug manufacturer Mallinckrodt after Mallinckrodt increased the price of the drug Acthar by 97,500%. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, claims one city employee needs the drug Acthar, which is used to treat seizures in small children. "Acthar used to cost $40, but Mallinckrodt has raised the price of the drug to over $39,000 per vial," the city claims in the lawsuit. "This eye-popping 97,500% price increase is the result of unlawful and unfair conduct by Mallinckrondt. The city has expended over $2 million for just one patient covered by the city's self-funded health plan...." Atlanta pharmacist Ira Katz said Acthar is what's called a "biologic" and they can be classified as specialty drugs. "They put them into the specialty class, and the prices are outrageous, just outrageous," Katz said.

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EditorDavid

City Sues Drug Manufacture Mallinckrodt Over 97,500% Price Increase

2 days 16 hours ago
McGruber quotes Atlanta TV station WSB: The city of Marietta, Georgia is suing drug manufacturer Mallinckrodt after Mallinckrodt increased the price of the drug Acthar by 97,500%. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, claims one city employee needs the drug Acthar, which is used to treat seizures in small children. "Acthar used to cost $40, but Mallinckrodt has raised the price of the drug to over $39,000 per vial," the city claims in the lawsuit. "This eye-popping 97,500% price increase is the result of unlawful and unfair conduct by Mallinckrondt. The city has expended over $2 million for just one patient covered by the city's self-funded health plan...." Atlanta pharmacist Ira Katz said Acthar is what's called a "biologic" and they can be classified as specialty drugs. "They put them into the specialty class, and the prices are outrageous, just outrageous," Katz said.

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EditorDavid

'Hutter Prize' for Lossless Compression of Human Knowledge Increased to 500,000€

2 days 18 hours ago
Baldrson (Slashdot reader #78,598) writes: First announced on Slashdot in 2006, AI professor Marcus Hutter has gone big with his challenge to the artificial intelligence [and data compression] community. A 500,000€ purse now backs The Hutter Prize for Lossless Compression of Human Knowledge... Hutter's prize incrementally awards distillation of Wikipedia's storehouse of human knowledge to its essence. That essence is a 1-billion-character excerpt of Wikipedia called "enwik9" -- approximately the amount that a human can read in a lifetime. And 14 years ago, Baldrson wrote a Slashdot article explaining how this long-running contest has its roots in a theory which could dramatically advance the capabilities of AI: The basic theory, for which Hutter provides a proof, is that after any set of observations the optimal move by an AI is find the smallest program that predicts those observations and then assume its environment is controlled by that program. Think of it as Ockham's Razor on steroids. Writing today, Baldrson argues this could become a much more sophisticated Turing Test. Formally it is called Algorithmic Information Theory or AIT. AIT is, according to Hutter's "AIXI" theory, essential to Universal Intelligence. Hutter's judging criterion is superior to Turing tests in 3 ways: 1) It is objective2) It rewards incremental improvements3) It is founded on a mathematical theory of natural science. Detailed rules for the contest and answers to frequently asked questions are available.

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EditorDavid

How Artificial Shrimps Could Change the World

2 days 22 hours ago
Singaporean company Shiok Meats aims to grow artificial shrimp to combat the negative environmental effects associated with farmed shrimp. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from The Economist: For a long time, beef has been a target of environmentalists because of cattle farming's contribution to global warming. But what about humble shrimp and prawns? They may seem, well, shrimpy when compared with cows, but it turns out the tasty decapods are just as big an environmental problem. The issue is not so much their life cycle: shrimp (as UN statisticians refer to all commonly eaten species collectively) do not belch planet-cooking methane the way cows do. But shrimp farms tend to occupy coastal land that used to be covered in mangroves. Draining mangrove swamps to make way for aquaculture is even more harmful to the atmosphere than felling rainforest to provide pasture for cattle. A study conducted in 2017 by CIFOR, a research institute, found that in both these instances, by far the biggest contribution to the carbon footprint of the resulting beef or shrimp came from the clearing of the land. As a result, CIFOR concluded, a kilo of farmed shrimp was responsible for almost four times the greenhouse-gas emissions of a kilo of beef. Eating a surf-and-turf dinner of prawn cocktail and steak, the study warned, can be more polluting than driving across America in a petrol-fuelled car. All this has given one Singaporean company a brain wave. "Farmed shrimps are often bred in overcrowded conditions and literally swimming in sewage water. We want to disrupt that -- to empower farmers with technology that is cleaner and more efficient," says Sandhya Sriram, one of the founders of Shiok Meats. The firm aims to grow artificial shrimp, much as some Western firms are seeking to create beef without cows. The process involves propagating shrimp cells in a nutrient-rich solution. Ms Sriram likens it to a brewery, disdaining the phrase "lab-grown." Since prawn-meat has a simpler structure than beef, it should be easier to replicate in this way. Moreover, shrimp is eaten in lots of forms and textures: whole, minced, as a paste and so on. The firm is already making shrimp mince which it has tested in Chinese dumplings. It hopes the by-product of the meat-growing can be used as a flavoring for prawn crackers and instant noodles. Eventually it plans to grow curved "whole" shrimp -- without the head and shell, that is. While producing shrimp this way currently costs $5,000 a kilo, Shiok Meats thinks it can bring the price down dramatically by using less rarefied ingredients in its growing solution.

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Scientists Found Breathable Oxygen In Another Galaxy For the First Time

3 days 8 hours ago
Astronomers have spotted molecular oxygen in a galaxy far far away, marking the first time that this important element has ever been detected outside of the Milky Way. Motherboard reports: This momentous "first detection of extragalactic molecular oxygen," as it is described in a recent study in The Astrophysical Journal, has big implications for understanding the crucial role of oxygen in the evolution of planets, stars, galaxies, and life. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium, and is one of the key ingredients for life here on Earth. Molecular oxygen is the most common free form of the element and consists of two oxygen atoms with the designation O2. It is the version of the gas that we humans, among many other organisms, need to breathe in order to live. Now, a team led by Junzhi Wang, an astronomer at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, reports the discovery of molecular oxygen in a dazzling galaxy called Markarian 231, located 581 million light years from the Milky Way. The researchers were able to make this detection with ground-based radio observatories. "Deep observations" from the IRAM 30-meter telescope in Spain and the NOEMA interferometer in France revealed molecular oxygen emission "in an external galaxy for the first time," Wang and his co-authors wrote. Motherboard notes that you couldn't just inhale the molecular oxygen found in Markarian 231 like you would the oxygen on Earth. "This is because the oxygen is not mixed with the right abundances of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and all the other molecules that make Earth's air breathable to humans and other organisms." Still, the discovery "provides an ideal tool to study" molecular outflows from quasars and other AGNs, the team said in the study. [Markarian 231 has remained a curiosity to scientists for decades because it contains the closest known quasar, a type of hyper-energetic object. Quasars are active galactic nuclei (AGN), meaning that they inhabit the core regions of special galaxies, and they are among the most radiant and powerful objects in the universe.] "O2 may be a significant coolant for molecular gas in such regions affected by AGN-driven outflows," the researchers noted. "New astrochemical models are needed to explain the implied high molecular oxygen abundance in such regions several kiloparsecs away from the center of galaxies."

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JP Morgan Economists Warn of 'Catastrophic' Climate Change

3 days 12 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Human life "as we know it" could be threatened by climate change, economists at JP Morgan have warned. In a hard-hitting report to clients, the economists said that without action being taken there could be "catastrophic outcomes." The bank said the research came from a team that was "wholly independent from the company as a whole." Climate campaigners have previously criticized JP Morgan for its investments in fossil fuels. The firm's stark report was sent to clients and seen by BBC News. While JP Morgan economists have warned about unpredictability in climate change before, the language used in the new report was very forceful. "We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened," JP Morgan economists David Mackie and Jessica Murray said. Carbon emissions in the coming decades "will continue to affect the climate for centuries to come in a way that is likely to be irreversible," they said, adding that climate change action should be motivated "by the likelihood of extreme events." Climate change could affect economic growth, shares, health, and how long people live, they said. It could put stresses on water, cause famine, and cause people to be displaced or migrate. Climate change could also cause political stress, conflict, and it could hit biodiversity and species survival, the report warned. To mitigate climate change net carbon emissions need to be cut to zero by 2050. To do this, there needed to be a global tax on carbon, the report authors said. But they said that "this is not going to happen anytime soon."

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Radical Hydrogen-Boron Reactor Leapfrogs Current Nuclear Fusion Tech

3 days 13 hours ago
HB11 Energy, a spin-out company originating at the University of New South Wales, claims its hydrogen-boron fusion technology is already working a billion times better than expected. Along with this announcement, the company also announced a swag of patents through Japan, China and the USA protecting its unique approach to fusion energy generation. New Atlas reports: The results of decades of research by Emeritus Professor Heinrich Hora, HB11's approach to fusion does away with rare, radioactive and difficult fuels like tritium altogether -- as well as those incredibly high temperatures. Instead, it uses plentiful hydrogen and boron B-11, employing the precise application of some very special lasers to start the fusion reaction. Here's how HB11 describes its "deceptively simple" approach: the design is "a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the center, with apertures on different sides for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the 'avalanche' fusion chain reaction. The alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that can be channeled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator." HB11's Managing Director Dr. Warren McKenzie clarifies over the phone: "A lot of fusion experiments are using the lasers to heat things up to crazy temperatures -- we're not. We're using the laser to massively accelerate the hydrogen through the boron sample using non-linear forced. You could say we're using the hydrogen as a dart, and hoping to hit a boron , and if we hit one, we can start a fusion reaction. That's the essence of it. If you've got a scientific appreciation of temperature, it's essentially the speed of atoms moving around. Creating fusion using temperature is essentially randomly moving atoms around, and hoping they'll hit one another, our approach is much more precise." He continues: "The hydrogen/boron fusion creates a couple of helium atoms. They're naked heliums, they don't have electrons, so they have a positive charge. We just have to collect that charge. Essentially, the lack of electrons is a product of the reaction and it directly creates the current." The lasers themselves rely upon cutting-edge "Chirped Pulse Amplification" technology, the development of which won its inventors the 2018 Nobel prize in Physics. Much smaller and simpler than any of the high-temperature fusion generators, HB11 says its generators would be compact, clean and safe enough to build in urban environments. There's no nuclear waste involved, no superheated steam, and no chance of a meltdown. "This is brand new," Professor Hora tells us. "10-petawatt power laser pulses. It's been shown that you can create fusion conditions without hundreds of millions of degrees. This is completely new knowledge. I've been working on how to accomplish this for more than 40 years. It's a unique result. Now we have to convince the fusion people -- it works better than the present day hundred million degree thermal equilibrium generators. We have something new at hand to make a drastic change in the whole situation. A substitute for carbon as our energy source. A radical new situation and a new hope for energy and the climate."

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Scientists Condemn Conspiracy Theories About Origin of Coronavirus Outbreak

3 days 14 hours ago
hackingbear writes: A group of 27 prominent public health scientists from outside China, who have studied SARS-CoV-2 and "overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife" just like many other viruses that have recently emerged in humans, is pushing back against a steady stream of stories and even a scientific paper suggesting a laboratory in Wuhan, China, may be the origin of the outbreak of COVID-19. "The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumors and misinformation around its origins," the scientists, from nine countries, write in a statement published online by The Lancet . Many posts on social media have singled out the Wuhan Institute of Virology for intense scrutiny because it has a laboratory at the highest security level -- biosafety level 4 -- and its researchers study coronaviruses from bats; speculations have included the possibility that the virus was bioengineered in the lab or that a lab worker was infected while handling a bat. Researchers from the institute have insisted there is no link between the outbreak and their laboratory. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance and a cosignatory of the statement, has collaborated with researchers at the Wuhan institute who study bat coronaviruses. "We're in the midst of the social media misinformation age, and these rumors and conspiracy theories have real consequences, including threats of violence that have occurred to our colleagues in China."

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BeauHD

People Are Killing Puppy Clones That Don't Come Out 'Perfect'

4 days ago
An anonymous reader shares a months-old report, which is getting some attention this week: Many clones are born with defects and genetic disorders, and since those imperfections aren't what their buyer is spending tens of thousands of dollars on, they end up discarded. That's the price. Neonatal complications for cloned animals abound: Poor placenta and fetal development in the womb lead to high rates of early- and late-stage abortions. Once born, those first few weeks remain tenuous: Incidences of large offspring syndrome (which usually results in a cesarian section) are high as are pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome in cloned lambs and cows, which indicates poor adrenal gland and lung function. And if that cloned dog does make it through the gauntlet -- but is missing the spot over its eye that a deceased pet had, for instance -- it still faces a swift death via euthanasia, just another pile of genetic material to harvest. "There's too many mistakes, too many stillbirths, deformities, and mutations," warns Chris Cauble, a Glendale, California, veterinarian whose mobile service offers tissue collection for cloning pets. Despite being involved in the industry, Cauble wouldn't clone his own pets. "I'd hate to see one of my beloved dogs born with three eyes or without a leg. I'd feel like I created a monster. There are a lot of failures, and those are killed because they're not perfect. They keep trying until they get a good puppy. Consumers have to realize the procedure is not fully perfected."

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Powerful Antibiotic Discovered Using Machine Learning For First Time

4 days 8 hours ago
A powerful antibiotic that kills some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria in the world has been discovered using artificial intelligence. The Guardian reports: To find new antibiotics, the researchers first trained a "deep learning" algorithm to identify the sorts of molecules that kill bacteria. To do this, they fed the program information on the atomic and molecular features of nearly 2,500 drugs and natural compounds, and how well or not the substance blocked the growth of the bug E coli. Once the algorithm had learned what molecular features made for good antibiotics, the scientists set it working on a library of more than 6,000 compounds under investigation for treating various human diseases. Rather than looking for any potential antimicrobials, the algorithm focused on compounds that looked effective but unlike existing antibiotics. This boosted the chances that the drugs would work in radical new ways that bugs had yet to develop resistance to. Jonathan Stokes, the first author of the study, said it took a matter of hours for the algorithm to assess the compounds and come up with some promising antibiotics. One, which the researchers named "halicin" after Hal, the astronaut-bothering AI in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, looked particularly potent. Writing in the journal Cell, the researchers describe how they treated numerous drug-resistant infections with halicin, a compound that was originally developed to treat diabetes, but which fell by the wayside before it reached the clinic. Tests on bacteria collected from patients showed that halicin killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bug that causes TB, and strains of Enterobacteriaceae that are resistant to carbapenems, a group of antibiotics that are considered the last resort for such infections. Halicin also cleared C difficile and multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii infections in mice. Three days after being set loose on a database of about 1.5 billion compounds, the algorithm returned a shortlist of 23 potential antibiotics, of which two appear to be particularly potent. "[The senior researcher] now wants to use the algorithm to find antibiotics that are more selective in the bacteria they kill," adds The Guardian. "This would mean that taking the antibiotic kills only the bugs causing an infection, and not all the healthy bacteria that live in the gut. More ambitiously, the scientists aim to use the algorithm to design potent new antibiotics from scratch."

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BeauHD

ICANN To Hold First-Ever Remote Public Meeting Due To COVID-19 Outbreak

5 days 5 hours ago
penciling_in shares a report from CircleID: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has announced that its ICANN67 Public Meeting, which was to be held in Cancun, Mexico, will now be held via remote participation-only. This decision was made as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, considered a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization. The meeting, scheduled for March 7-12, 2020, marks the first time in ICANN's history that it will hold a Public Meeting solely with remote participation. "This is a decision that the ICANN Board has been considering since the outbreak was first announced and it is one that we haven't taken lightly," said Maarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair. "We know that changing this meeting to remote participation-only will have an impact on and cause disruption to our community; however, this decision is about people. Protecting the health and safety of the ICANN community is our top priority."

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BeauHD
8 minutes 28 seconds ago
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