Thursday, October 11, 2018

Miracle Escape For U.S. - Russian Astronauts As Rocket Fails Mid-Launch -- News Roundup

Daily Mail: Miracle escape for Space Station astronauts as rocket fails mid-launch: American and Russian hurtle back to Earth in harrowing 7G 'ballistic re-entry' and survive

* The secondary booster rockets on the Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft failed just after it launched Thursday
* American Nick Hague and Russian Aleksey Ovchinin were forced to carry out a 'ballistic re-entry' to get back
* The two-strong crew landed safely at a site in Kazakhstan hundreds of miles away from the initial launch site
* Video footage from the launch shows the pair being shaken around as the engine malfunctioned in mid-flight
* After the incident Russia announced Soyuz flights to the International Space Station would be suspended

Two astronauts are alive after dramatically aborting their voyage to the International Space Station when their Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned while it carried them into orbit at 4,970mph.

American Nick Hague and Russian Aleksey Ovchinin were forced to abort their mission on the cusp of space, at an altitude of approximately 50km (164,000ft).

They landed safely in Kazakhstan after a ‘ballistic re-entry’, during which they experienced forces of up to 7G.

Video footage from the launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome shows a large plume of smoke coming from the rocket at the moment it failed and footage from inside the capsule shows the two astronauts being violently shaken about.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These astronauts have every reason to be relieved with what happened today .... First footage of ISS crew after emergency landing (PHOTOS, VIDEO) (RT).

Miracle Escape For U.S. - Russian Astronauts As Rocket Fails Mid-Launch -- News Roundup

ISS crew made emergency landing in Kazakhstan, both alive -- RT
Russian space rocket fails in mid-air, two-man U.S.-Russian crew lands safely -- Reuters
US, Russian astronauts safe after emergency landing -- AP
Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket -- BBC
Crew of Soyuz rocket survive emergency landing after engine problem -- AFP
Almost like Columbia: Two crew members dodge death by an inch in botched Russian space launch -- RT
Soyuz MS-10 Lands in Kazakhstan, Crew Feels Well - Roscosmos Head -- Sputnik
Soyuz spacecraft crew lands, cosmonauts alive — Roscosmos chief -- TASS
Putin to receive report on aborted Soyuz space launch to ISS -- TASS
Rocket Fails, and American and Russian Astronauts Make Emergency Return -- The New York Times
Space crew abort flight after post-launch rocket failure -- The Guardian
NASA: ISS crew make emergency landing after booster failure -- DW
Astronauts make emergency landing after rocket malfunction -- ABC News Online
A Soyuz crew makes an emergency landing after rocket fails -- Ars Technica
Russian-US ISS crew makes emergency landing: Who are Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague? -- RT
'Thank God they're well': Cosmonaut's wife tells of horror, relief in wake of emergency landing -- RT
RT EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Villagers film smoke in sky close to capsule landing site in Kazakhstan -- RT

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Google Drops Bid For $10 Billion Military Cloud Computing Contract Amid Employee Objections

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann/File Photo

Fortune: Google Passes on a $10 Billion Pentagon Cloud Contract, Citing Its New AI Principles

Google is pulling its bid for a $10 billion Pentagon contract.

The company was among several bidding to house government data under a project called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI. But on Monday the company said it would not submit a proposal, citing displeasure with the terms (Google and other bidders wanted the Pentagon to split the contract among multiple bidders rather than award the whole thing to one) and uncertainty that the contract would align with Google’s A.I. Principles.

Read more ....

More News On Google Dropping Its Bid For $10 Billion Military Cloud Computing Contract Amid Employee Objections

Google drops out of Pentagon’s US$10 billion cloud competition -- SCMP/Bloomberg
Google drops $10bn battle for Pentagon data contract -- BBC
Google drops out of bidding for controversial $10bn Pentagon cloud contract claiming it would be 'inconsistent with its principles' -- Daily Mail
Google drops $10 billion bid for Pentagon contract -- CNN
Google drops out of Pentagon cloud computing competition -- The Hill
Google pulls out of race for billion dollar Pentagon defense contract -- FOX News
Google Drops Bid for Massive Military Cloud Computing Contract Amid Employee Pressure -- Gizmodo
Google drops out of $10-billion DoD contract competition -- We Are The Mighty

Google Unveils New Products

Google's new range: The firm unveiled the Home Hub, Pixel Slate and Pixel 3 at a New York event. It boasted AI technology is the core of each device, and hopes to gain ground in the hardware market on rivals like Apple, Samsung, Amazon and others

Daily Mail: Google reveals the Pixel 3: Firm unveils new $799 'superselfie' handset that uses AI to answer calls itself alongside $599 Pixel Slate tablet and $149 Home Hub smart speaker

* The firm released new Pixel phones, a smart display, a new tablet and more
* Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL to include big upgrades from the Pixel 2, including super-size displays, improved cameras and wireless charging, among other things
* New 'superselfie' group selfie cam adds a second camera on the front that captures 184% more of the scene than the iPhone XS
* Call Screen feature will answer incoming calls for you to weed out robocalls
* Smart display is equipped with Google Assistant, a small screen - but no camera

Google has unveiled a slew of new hardware including its $799 (£739) Pixel 3 phones, a new $599 (£549) tablet called Pixel Slate and a $149 (£139) smart speaker with a screen called Home Hub.

The firm has pledged to build AI into its entire range at a New York event where Google's Rick Osterloh unveiled the new products, designed to take aim at Apple, Samsung and Amazon.

Its new Pixel 3 handset includes AI features that allow it to answer calls itself, weeding out robocalls and transcribing messages if a user is busy, alongside a wide angle 'superselfie' lens.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It does not have the Apple price.

Are You Ready For YouTube's Mini-Player?

YouTube's new mini-player allows viewers to browse while their current video plays in a smaller concern screen. PopSci

Popular Science: Is your brain ready for YouTube's new mini-player?

On multi-tasking and the possible death of tabs.

This week, viewers may have noticed a new tool in the bar beneath each YouTube video. The button, a small white box nested inside a larger box, is the much-awaited mini-player. Instead of giving your attention to one video at a time, users can now watch videos in a small pop-out player in the corner of their screen, freeing them up to search for new videos on the rest of the YouTube site. While literally miniature, experts say the feature could have huge consequences for our brains—and the future of streaming.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I find it to be a distraction.

What Is Google Really Up To?

Sky News

Popular Mechanics: What Is Google Really Up To?

The search giant's crusade against "annoying" ads isn't altruism.

Google's been busy this week. First came the new push to make email interactive. Then the flashy "Google Stories"—a Snapchat-esque package that can live in Google's search results. Most importantly, we're about to get Google's newest version of Chrome, which will block "annoying" ads by default.

At first glance these projects might not seem unrelated. If anything, they look like a public good. Google is flexing its muscle to make the core experiences of the open web—email, searching, and reading web pages—a cleaner, better, more user-friendly affair.

That may be true, but make no mistake about the other side of this coin. These projects are different facets of a push that will tighten Google's stranglehold on the web.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: We know that they do not want to be involved in this .... Google Drops Out of Pentagon's $10 Billion Cloud Competition (Bloomberg).

Monday, October 8, 2018

Book Review: This Is How The Mona Lisa Was Saved During World War Two

A new book reveals how Jacques Jaujard worked out a modus vivendi with the Nazis of civil co-existence which helped him to oversee the evacuation of Louvre’s treasures including the Mona Lisa (pictured being returned to Louvre in 1945) during World War II. He was able to protect thousands of cultural masterpieces from destruction

Daily Mail: Quiet man who saved the Mona Lisa from the Nazis’ clutches: Fascinating account of the thousands of French masterpieces saved during World War II

* A new book reveals how the Louvre’s treasures were protected in World War II
* Jacques Jaujard ensured items were kept safe from bombs, damp and the Nazis
* He had items including the Mona Lisa evacuated out of Paris during 1939
* Dukes in the South and West of France sheltered the cultural items in chateaux
* However the Nazi's destroyed some 500 masterpieces including work by Picaso

Reading Hamlet at school, I was taught that the delaying habit is a bad one. This new book, about how the Louvre’s priceless treasures were protected during the German occupation of France in World War II, utterly contradicts that theory.

It was through the delaying tactics of a self-effacing civil servant called Jacques Jaujard that the precious objects we most associate with the Louvre — the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the French crown jewels, as well as thousands of other items — were saved from destruction through bombing or damp.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: A truly fascinating story.

Hubble Space Telescope Has Been Hit By A Mechanical Failure

Hubble has been been operational for 28 years

BBC: Hubble telescope hit by mechanical failure

The Hubble Space Telescope is operating with only essential functions after it lost one of the gyroscopes needed to point the spacecraft.

The observatory, described as one of the most important scientific instruments ever created, was placed in "safe mode" over the weekend, while scientists try to fix the problem.

Hubble had been operating with four of its six gyroscopes when one of them failed on Friday.

The telescope was launched in 1990.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is bad. It looks like this may be the end of the Hubble Telescope.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

How Do Some People Have The Ability To Quickly Learn And Speak Multiple Languages?

Judith Thurman, New Yorker: People Who Speak Dozens of Languages

What can hyperpolyglots teach the rest of us?

Last May, Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, flew to Malta for a week to learn Maltese. He had a hefty grammar book in his backpack, but he didn’t plan to open it unless he had to. “We’ll do this as I would in the Amazon,” he told me, referring to his fieldwork as a linguist. Our plan was for me to observe how he went about learning a new language, starting with “hello” and “thank you.”

Read more ....

CSN editor: I envy these people. I speak and read Russian, English, Ukrainian, and French .... and I am the first to admit that it has not been easy learning these languages. But 10 languages and more?!?!?!


Close-Up Shark Pictures Close-up shark portraits

I’m not sure how underwater photographer Todd Bretl manages to take such close-up snaps of sharks — diving cage? underwater telephoto? some sort of robotic camera? — but the results are pretty great. I think I’ve seen these exact facial expressions on characters’ faces in The Sopranos and The Godfather.

Read more

CSN Editor: The link to the shark photo-gallery is here .... Todd Bretl.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

This Is How You Flip a Water Bottle

Smithsonian: Hey Fellow Kids, This Is How You Flip a Water Bottle

New paper by undergrads illuminates the physics behind the Water Bottle Challenge

In 2016, the youth of America were obsessed with this one cool trick: the water-bottle challenge. The concept is simple, but it’s easier said than done. Just flip a full or half-empty plastic water bottle so it lands upright. Kids around the country chronicled their successes and failures on YouTube while the crinkling of tossed water bottles drove their parents crazy. The craze may have faded, but the physics still remains. That’s why, reports Mindy Weisberger at LiveScience, a group of young researchers recently published an article demonstrating how to land a water bottle every single time.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: A lot of physics in play.

Library Of Congress Digitizing Historic Archives

CSN Editor: This is a cool video.

From YouTube .... Reporting for Sunday TODAY, NBC’s Harry Smith takes a tour of the largest library in the world: the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He gets a first-hand look at some of the 164 million items in the archives, including historic documents that shaped this country.

Friday, October 5, 2018

2018 Nobel Peace Prize -- News Roundup

Daily Mail: Nobel Peace Prize is jointly awarded to a Yazidi former ISIS sex slave turned human rights activist and a Congolese doctor treating rape victims

* The winners are Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old from Iraq and Denis Mukwege, 63, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
* They won for their 'efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war'
* Murad campaigns for the ISIS murders of Yazidis to be recognised as genocide
* She is the second youngest winner after Malala Yousafzai who won in 2014 at 17
* Mukwege has treated thousands of survivors of sexual violence in armed conflict
* He has called on the world to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war
* The prize, worth $1 million will be presented in Oslo, Norway on December 10

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a gynecologist treating victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State.

The prize, worth nine million Swedish crowns ($1 million), will be presented to Nadia Murad, 25, and Denis Mukwege, 63, in Oslo on December 10.

On the reason for their choice, the Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in Oslo that the pair one the prestigious award for their 'efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.'

Read more ....

2018 Nobel Peace Prize -- News Roundup

The Latest: Peace winners praised by US envoy, not Trump -- AP
Nobel peace prize 2018 won by Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad - as it happened -- The Guardian
Congolese doctor, Yazidi activist, champions in fight against rape in war, win Nobel Peace Prize -- Reuters
Nobel Peace Prize for anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege -- BBC
2018 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Yazidi Activist and Congolese Doctor -- The New York Times
Nobel peace prize 2018 winners: who are Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad? – video profile -- The Guardian
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad -- DW
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for efforts to end sexual violence in war -- ABC News Online
Nobel Peace Prize honours champions of fight against sexual violence -- AFP
Nobel Peace laureates demand end to sexual violence in war -- AP
Nadia Murad: from jihadist slave to Nobel laureate -- AFP
Nadia Murad, from ISIS sex slave to global human rights campaigner -- CNN
Congolese doctor dedicates Nobel Peace Prize to victims of sexual violence -- Reuters
Nobel's Mukwege hears news in surgery as wild cheers erupt -- AFP
'Dr. Miracle' Is The Co-Recipient Of The Nobel Peace Prize -- NPR
Who is Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege? -- DW
DR Congo hails Nobel win but says Mukwege 'politicises' his work -- AFP
DR Congo hails Mukwege Nobel win but says he's 'not infallible' -- AFP
Yazidis celebrate Murad's Nobel prize as they mark top ritual -- AFP
UN chief says Nobel Peace Prize winners 'defended our values' -- AFP
Sexual violence, a savage feature of conflict over centuries -- AP

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Is The Pentagon Developing An Agricultural Bioweapon?

Research programme with potential for dual use: scientists fear that the Insect Ally programme by the US could encourage other states to increase their own research activities in the field of biological warfare (MPG/D.Duneka)

Wired: The US military is hacking insects with virus DNA, raising fears of dangerous new bio-weapons

Darpa, the research arm of the US military, is embarking on a radical new trial, but researchers warn that the technology could be turned into a biological weapon

Making crops taller, tastier, and more resistant to disease is a tedious process. For thousands of years, the only option farmers had was to pick two plants that showed particularly desirable characteristics and breed them together, hopefully creating offspring that shared those promising traits and avoided undesirable ones.

Modern gene-mutating techniques sped up this process. First, researchers worked out that by bombarding embryonic cells with radiation, they could force mutations in plant genomes, causing desirable traits to occur at random. They could then pull out these mutated cells and use them to generate entirely new plant lines.

Read more ....

More News On Concerns That The Pentagon Developing An Agricultural Bioweapon

The Pentagon is studying an insect army to defend crops. Critics fear a bioweapon. -- Washington Post
Viruses Spread by Insects to Crops Sound Scary. The Military Calls It Food Security. -- The New York Times
Scientists: US military program could be seen as bioweapon -- FOX News/AP
U.S. military project could be seen as a bioweapon, scientists warn -- NBC
US plan to genetically alter crops via insects feared to be biological war plan -- The Guardian
US military plan to spread viruses using insects could create ‘new class of biological weapon’, scientists warn -- The Independent
DARPA is Making Insects That Can Deliver Bioweapons, Scientists Claim -- Newsweek
The Pentagon is studying an insect army to defend crops. Critics fear a bioweapon -- Stuff
Scathing Report Accuses the Pentagon of Developing an Agricultural Bioweapon -- Gizmodo
Questions Raised About DARPA-Funded Crop Program -- The Scientist

Should The Nobel Prize Consider Diversity, Geography, And Gender When Awarding The Prize?

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet. This year's announcements have further highlighted questions about why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences. (Fernando Vergara/Associated Press)

CBC: Nobel Prizes still struggle with wide gender disparity

Just 48 of 892 winners have been women, and 30 of those have won literature or peace prize

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet but the aura of this year's announcements has been dulled by questions over why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences.

The march of Nobel announcements began Monday with the physiology/medicine prize.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: The answer is no. The Nobel Prize should not consider diversity, geography, and gender. The focus should be on the merit of the science, or in the case of literature, the work and the impact that the author has been able to accomplish.

Apple’s Best Product Is Now Privacy

Fast Company: Forget the new iPhones: Apple’s best product is now privacy

Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple saw just how critical an issue user privacy would become. Now it’s at least as important a feature as shiny industrial design or a nice camera.

When my friends come to me asking which smartphone or laptop they should buy, I almost always recommend an Apple product–the latest iPhone or MacBook. I recommend these products not just because they are Apple’s best, but because as someone who covers technology for a living, I believe that for most people, Apple offers better products and solutions than its competitors.

Yes, Apple’s products are more expensive than many, “but you get what you pay for,” I frequently explain. In the case of iPhones, they generally have the fastest smartphone processors on the market, sport arguably the best industrial design, and have the most refined and stable operating system. I attribute similar qualities to Apple’s MacBooks, although my recommendation for those also include the line, “you’ll pay a little more up front, but they’ll last you twice as long as a PC laptop.”

Read more ....

CSN Editor: Maybe no more .... Chinese Spies Infiltrated 30 American Companies Including Apple And Amazon By Embedding Chips On Their Server Boards.

The Story Behind SpaceX

The Falcon 1 rocket ascends toward space on its fourth flight. SpaceX

Ars Techica: Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin

The company's meteoric rise can be traced to a critical launch from a Pacific isle.

They bunked in a double-wide trailer, cramming inside on cots and sleeping bags, as many as a dozen at a time. In the mornings, they feasted on steaming plates of scrambled eggs. At night, beneath some of the darkest skies on Earth, they grilled steaks and wondered if the heavens above were beyond their reach. Kids, most of them, existed alone on a tiny speck of an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was the middle of nowhere, really.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is amazing how feeling desperate and under pressure can bring about innovations and new discoveries.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Top 10 Most Expensive Books Ever Sold

Luxatic: The Top 10 Most Expensive Books Ever Sold

Used since hundreds of years ago, books are probably the most important step in mankind’s evolution. From the papyrus scrolls used in the Ancient Egypt and the manuscripts in the monasteries of The Middle Ages, books evolved into what we know today and even appeared more and more in digital form.

While before Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1439, books had to be written and copied by hand making them expensive and rare, today the process is so automatized and so much more easier for their digital form that books have become quite cheap and accessible.

Read more ....

CSN Editor: In my opinion these books are priceless.

The $100 U.S. Bill Is The Most Popular Bill In The World

Quartz: There are now more $100 bills than $1 bills in the world

A funny thing happened on the way to a world of cryptocurrencies and mobile payments. Cash became more popular than ever. The main reason? The one hundred dollar bill.

In 2017, for the first time ever, the one hundred dollar bill became the most popular US bill in circulation, beating out the one dollar bill. It is quite the turn of events for Benjamin Franklin-faced banknote. Just 10 years ago, it was less common than both the $20 and the $1.

The share of US dollars in circulation as a share of GDP rose from about 6% in 2010 to 9% in 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. Increased use of $100 bills has been the primary driver.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A one dollar bill does not buy much in today's world.

Astronomers Have Found A Moon The Size Of Neptune In A Distant Star System

An artist's concept of the star system where researchers think they've observed the first exomoon. Dan Durda

Popular Science: Astronomers think they’ve found a moon the size of Neptune in a distant star system

It could be the largest moon we’ve ever seen

Nearly eight thousand light-years away from Earth, there’s a star about the same size as our sun. Like our own solar system, that distant star is orbited by a planet about the same size as Jupiter. But that’s where the similarities end. Around that planet circles a Neptune-sized gas giant, which may be the first moon discovered outside the solar system, and the largest moon ever observed.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: That must be one hell of a big moon.

The Ultimate Guide To Cutting and Splitting Firewood

Popular Mechanics: The Ultimate Guide To Cutting and Splitting Firewood

From felled tree to kindling, how to safely turn fresh wood into wood heat.

Heating with wood is a study in stubborn self-sufficiency. It’s hard work, but as with growing vegetables, it’s rewarding. It’s also a study in efficiency or inefficiency. Looked at as industrial engineering, the goal is to turn a standing tree into heat as efficiently as possible. You shouldn’t take the easy way out and convince yourself that cutting and burning firewood is just a lifestyle choice that’s all frost-covered mornings and flannel shirts. Efficiency should elbow its way into that cozy scene.

Read more ....

Editor: The season to do this is now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How Viagra Became A $3-Billion-Dollar-a-Year Industry

The very first Viagra print ad. It appeared in Esquire in August 1998. Esquire

Esquire: How Viagra Went from a Medical Mistake to a $3-Billion-Dollar-a-Year Industry

Two unlikely dudes took on Wall Street, pharma nerds, and God—and got America hooked on a little blue pill.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2017 was the Year of the Cock. 2018 is the Year of the Dog. And, in Dog years, this is also the Year of the Cock Pill: Viagra.

The revolutionary erectile-dysfunction drug is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its Brobdingnagian launch in a most auspicious way: by finally going generic.

The ramifications for generic sildenafil (the scientific name) are huge for your pocketbook and your health. Viagra’s high demand and cost (about seventy dollars a pill) have made it among the most bootlegged meds in the world, and one of the top sellers for Internet pharmacies. A study presented at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine found that 77 percent of Viagra sold online was fake. Counterfeit Viagra and similar impostors have been linked to liver damage, strokes, and death. Just a few years back, former Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom ended up face-planted in a Nevada brothel from coke and phony herbal fucklements. “He was taking herbal Viagra,” brothel owner Dennis Hof said at the time, “and a lot of it.” The availability of generic sildenafil cuts the price of the pills in half and promises greater assurance that the pill you pop won’t be your last.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The need for the blue pill was (and still is) there.

Russian Space Chief Believes That The ISS Space Station Hole Was Made Deliberately

Sabotage: Russian astronaut Sergei Prokopyev showed the original 'drilled hole' during a video released by the space agency Roscosmos. NASA

Daily Mail: It was sabotage! Russia finds International Space Station hole was made DELIBERATELY, says agency chief

* The ISS experienced a drop in pressure due to an air leak overnight on August 30
* Various theories were floated, including damage caused by a micrometeorite
* However, an initial investigation has ruled-out accidental damage as an option
* A second probe aims to reveal further details, including persons responsible

Russian investigators looking into the origin of a hole that caused an oxygen leak on the International Space Station say it was caused deliberately.

Speaking on Monday, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roskosmos, said that an official investigative report had confirmed their theory.

'It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth,' he said.

Read more ....

Update: Russia finds ISS hole made deliberately: space chief (

Bookyards Editor: The Russian Space Agency are saying that it was not a manufacturing defect. That this hole was made deliberately in space. A lot of speculation is happening right now, but unfortunately there is no proof.

Here Are Your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Ars Technica: Here are your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize winners

The 2018 awards honor research on cursing while driving and cannibalistic calories.

Ever wondered why so many people don't read instruction manuals, or how many calories are in the human body? Or whether stabbing a voodoo doll representing your horrible boss with pins could help reduce workplace tension? The winners of this year's Ig Nobel Prizes have got you covered. These and other unusual research topics were honored tonight in a ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theater.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Never a dull moment at this event.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Lost Civilisations Tens Of Thousands Of Years Old Discovered In India's Western State Of Maharashtra?

BBC: Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilisation

The discovery of rock carvings believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India's western state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation, BBC Marathi's Mayuresh Konnur reports.

The rock carvings - known as petroglyphs - have been discovered in their thousands atop hillocks in the Konkan region of western Maharashtra.

Mostly discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas, a majority of the images etched on the rocky, flat hilltops remained unnoticed for thousands of years.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This discovery is  raising more questions than answers.

Is This What We Call Progress?

Here Is A Great Resource On Ancient Libraries

Editor: For those who are interested in the history of ancient libraries, here is a great website (link here).

Sunday, September 30, 2018

This Is Why 95.8% Of Female Newscasters Have The "Same Hair"

Courtesy of Esther Katro.

In Style: Why 95.8% of Female Newscasters Have the Same Hair

Esther Katro was 22 when she landed her first job as a reporter at a local TV station in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The recent graduate loved the thrill of breaking news and being on air. But when she was out chasing stories in the college town, people kept mistaking her for a student. She went to her news director for advice, and his response had nothing to do with developing her fledgling reporting skills. “He was like, ‘You have to cut your hair to look older,’” she recalled.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Never noticed it before .... but it is true .... all the female newscasters on the TV stations that I watch have short hair.

300 New Words Have Been Added To The Scrabble Dictionary

The Guardian: Yowza! 300 new words added to Scrabble dictionary

Scrabble players will have to rethink their game after new words, including OK and ew, added to approved list

Three hundred new words have been added to the official US Scrabble dictionary, including sriracha, aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bibimbap, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and yowza.

Merriam-Webster released the sixth edition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary on Monday, four years after the last version.

Read more ....

Editor: The Scrabble dictionary checker is here.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Who Caused That Mysterious Leak At The International Space Station?

A 2-millimeter hole was found last week in a Russian Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft (left) that is docked to the International Space Station. NASA

NPR: Who Caused The Mysterious Leak At The International Space Station?

Russian officials are saying that a tiny leak at the International Space Station was likely caused by a human hand. Now, they're trying to figure out who did it, why they did it and whether it happened in space or on the ground.

The crew identified the source of the leak as a 2-millimeter hole in the upper section of a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which is docked in the Russian section of the space station.

"We don't reject any theories," said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's state space agency Roscosmos, according to state news agency TASS. He added that they're aiming "to find out whether it was an accidental defect or a deliberate spoilage and where it was done ... we will find out, without fail."

Read more ....

CSN Editor: I find it hard to believe that someone did it deliberately. What is more believable is an accident/error in the plant where the space station was built.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The 25 Best Movie Stunts of All Time

Bookyards editor: This is cool .... The 25 Best Movie Stunts of All Time (Popular Mechanics).

These Covert Geologists Helped The Allies Win The Second World War

Troops and equipment land on the shores of Sicily during the first day of the Allied invasion on July 10, 1943. Imperial War Museums

Robin Andrews, Forbes: Meet The Covert Geologists That Helped The Allies Win The Second World War

Scientists are often recruited during times of conflict to serve the national cause. Generally, when we think of those stolen academics, we think of physicists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians – the type that can either build better weapons or crack the enemies’ codes. That’s fair enough: they certainly made up a disproportionate number of researchers recruited by the military in the 20th Century.

What you may not know, however, is that geologists have played a role in warfare too: the US, UK, Germany and the Soviet Union had their very own secret geological intelligence units that played key roles in the bloodiest conflict in human history. For this particular article, we’ll focus on the role that American geologists played during the Second World War, and in the Cold War, but believe you me – the story of geology and conflict is richer and more bizarre than you could possibly imagine.

Read more ....

CSN Editor:  Considering how important this work was, I am surprised that they only had a few hundred geologists on staff.

Why Swirling Your Wine Is A Good Thing

Ars Technica: Swirling your wine is not pretentious; it’s just good physics

Swirling a glass of wine produces a rotating wave; swirling beer foam reverses rotation.

Wine aficionados are known for gently swirling their wine in the glass before tasting, and it isn't as pretentious as it seems. (Well, maybe a little.) They claim the rotation mixes in oxygen and enhances the flavor. Physics backs them up, specifically a mini-subfield dubbed "oenodynamics." The swirling action—technically called "orbital shaking"—creates a rotating gravity wave in the direction of the swirling force being applied, churning up the liquid in the process.

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CSN Editor: I do it all the time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Russian Space Agency Says Hole In International Space Station Was Drilled Deliberately

A Russian official has said the International Space Station leak (pictured) could have been caused by deliberate sabotage. A leading theory from an unnamed source at Russia's Energia space manufacturing company has said that the hole was made on the ground Russia says space station leak could be deliberate sabotage

Russia launched checks Tuesday after its space chief said an air leak on the International Space Station last week could have been deliberate sabotage.

Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin said the hole detected Thursday in a Russian space craft docked at the orbiting station was caused by a drill and could have been done deliberately, either back on Earth or by astronauts in space.

Astronauts used tape to seal the leak after it caused a small loss of pressure that was not life-threatening.

"There were several attempts at drilling," Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments.

He added that the drill appeared to have been held by a "wavering hand."

"What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?" he asked.

"We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."

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More News On Reports That The Hole In The International Space Station May Have Been Drilled Deliberately

Russia suggests International Space Station 'leak' was DELIBERATE sabotage: Officials claim hull may have been damaged before lift-off by someone using a drill with a 'wavering hand' -- Daily Mail
Hole in International Space Station was drilled deliberately, says Russian space agency -- Telegraph
Russia says space station leak may be sabotage -- AFP
Russia Claims Hole In ISS Was ‘Deliberately Drilled,’ Says It's 'Matter of Honor' to Find Culprit -- Newsweek
Mystery surrounds space station leak after reports hole in outside could have been made by a person -- The Independent
That hole in the International Space Station was caused by a drill, not a meteorite, and the search is on for the culprit -- BGR
So no meteorite? Reports say Russian Soyuz spacecraft depressurization caused by drilled hole -- RT

A Look At How Birkenstocks Are Made

Cathy Horyn, The CUT: The Dwarf, the Prince, and the Diamond in the Mountain

An unlikely fable, in which Birkenstocks become cool and double sales overnight.

The city of Görlitz in eastern Germany is three hours from Berlin and two minutes from Poland. Miraculously, Görlitz was not bombed during the Second World War, and even more miraculously, its architectural treasures — Gothic, Baroque, rococo — were merely allowed to rot during the Communist era. Nothing was torn down. As a result, whole streets resemble a movie set, ideal for a colorful Saxon fairy tale (like Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was shot here) or a bleak Cold War thriller.

In June, I traveled to this corner of Germany with the photographer Juergen Teller to cover a company whose long history has been similarly marked by accident and fortune. For Görlitz is where a high percentage of Birkenstock’s cork-and-leather sandals are made; the company is headquartered near Bonn, and the family that has owned the business since 1774 lives mostly outside Germany.

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CSN Editor: I had a pair about 25 years ago. It is good to see that they are still in business.

What Is It Like To Be An Astronaut Before You Launch Into Space?

Forbes: What Is It Like To Be An Astronaut The Night Before You Launch Into Space?

How do astronauts sleep the night before they have to go to space?

Most of us lie down on a bed, put our head on a pillow, close our eyes and go to sleep! But I’m guessing that is not what your question seeks. I’m thinking you want to know whether we sleep well the night before launch, i.e., do we get a good night’s sleep before our big day. Am I right?

Assuming I now understand your query, I can only give you my personal experience. My first pre-launch sleep attempt was June 7th, 2007 when I lay down on my bed in the very hotel-like astronaut crew quarters facility at the Kennedy Space Center. It was there that I tried desperately to “catch a few zzz’s” before our June 8 late afternoon liftoff.

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CSN Editor: I would not be able to sleep.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

China's Tiangong-1 Space Station Is Expected To Come Crashing To Earth Within Weeks

The Tiangong-1 space station, which is expected to come crashing to earth within weeks.

The Guardian: China's Tiangong-1 space station will crash to Earth within weeks

Experts say it is impossible to plot where module will re-enter the atmosphere, but the chance is higher in parts of Europe, US, Australia and New Zealand.

China’s first space station is expected to come crashing down to Earth within weeks, but scientists have not been able to predict where the 8.5-tonne module will hit.

The US-funded Aerospace Corporation estimates Tiangong-1 will re-enter the atmosphere during the first week of April, give or take a week. The European Space Agency says the module will come down between 24 March and 19 April.

In 2016 China admitted it had lost control of Tiangong-1 and would be unable to perform a controlled re-entry.

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CSN Editor:  It's going to create an impressive streak across the sky when it enters the atmosphere.

Google Employees Are Outraged That The Company Is Working With The Pentagon To Equip Military Drones With AI

Daily Mail: Google is working with the Pentagon to equip military drones with people-tracking AI in secretive 'Project Maven' deal, report claims

* Google is working with the Department of Defense on secretive 'Project Maven'
* Project Maven is tasked with equipping drones with artificial intelligence.
* This would allow unmanned vehicles to detect and identify objects in war zones
* Some Google employees are 'outraged' that the firm is working with the military to develop surveillance technologies, others say it raises ethical questions

The Pentagon may have gained a new, high-profile partner for its sophisticated AI system used to hunt for militants in Iraq and Syria.

Silicon Valley giant Google is working with the Department of Defense to develop advanced artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage, Gizmodo reported, citing sources close to the situation.

The partnership centers around Project Maven, which is the codename for a system that analyzes aerial surveillance video to look for patterns that can military intelligence analysts.

And it seems some Google employees aren't happy with the move.

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More News On Working With The Pentagon To Equip Military Drones With AI

Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones -- Gizmodo
Google helps Pentagon analyze military drone footage—employees “outraged” -- Ars Technica
The Defense Department is taking on ISIS with Google's open-source AI software -- MIT Technology Review
Pentagon Drone Program Is Using Google AI -- Bloomberg
Google Is Quietly Providing AI Technology for Drone Strike Targeting Project -- The Intercept
Google is using its AI skills to help the Pentagon learn to analyze drone footage -- The Verge

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tweets For Today

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The TESS Space Telescope Will Soon Begin The Search For More Exoplanets

Next Big Future: TESS space telescope will find many Earth and Super-Earth like Exoplanets starting this year

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. No ground-based survey can achieve this feat.

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CSN Editor: The TESS telescope will be monitoring 200,000 stars. I will not be surprised if it finds a planet or two .... or maybe thousands.

How Europeans Colonised The World

Daily Mail: How Europeans colonised the world: Visualisation shows migration and marriage of millions of people over 500 years (and reveals when they stopped marrying their cousins)

* Scientists trawled 86 million profiles from a genealogy website, Geni
* They pieced together migrations, marriages and how long people lived for
* Culture change rather than improvements in transport stopped inbreeding
* Study found that women have migrated more than men over the last 300 years
* Scientists found good genes extend someone's life by an average of five years
* Team created a time-lapse showing these movements into just 30 seconds

The largest ever 'family tree' spanning 11 generations has revealed how Westerners colonised the world over the past 500 years.

Scientists trawled 86 million profiles from a genealogy website to uncover a 'family' of 13 million people predominantly from Europe and North America.

By looking at their genetic data, they were able to create a visualisation of their migrations and lifespans - and reveal exactly when they stopped marrying their cousins.

It was long thought that people in the west stopped marrying close relatives in the 19th century when better transportation allowed them to travel larger distances.

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CSN Editor:  Another example that illustrates how migration is part of the human condition.

Super Wood


Scientific American: Stronger Than Steel, Able to Stop a Speeding Bullet—It’s Super Wood!

Simple processes can make wood tough, impact-resistant—or even transparent.

Some varieties of wood, such as oak and maple, are renowned for their strength. But scientists say a simple and inexpensive new process can transform any type of wood into a material stronger than steel, and even some high-tech titanium alloys. Besides taking a star turn in buildings and vehicles, the substance could even be used to make bullet-resistant armor plates.

Wood is abundant and relatively low-cost—it literally grows on trees. And although it has been used for millennia to build everything from furniture to homes and larger structures, untreated wood is rarely as strong as metals used in construction. Researchers have long tried to enhance its strength, especially by compressing and “densifying” it, says Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. But densified wood tends to weaken and spring back toward its original size and shape, especially in humid conditions.

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WNU Editor: Impressive. The applications are too numerous to list.

Chinese Police Are Now Using Facial-Recognition Eyewear To Screen Faces

Quartz: Chinese police are wearing sunglasses that can recognize faces

In the Matrix series, Keanu Reeves wears futuristic sunglasses to look cool when fighting against machines. But in China, police are now wearing sunglasses equipped with facial-recognition technology to catch criminal suspects.

Railway police in Zhengzhou, a central Chinese city, are the first in the country to use facial-recognition eyewear to screen passengers during the Lunar New Year travel rush, Chinese state media reported (link in Chinese) this week. The devices have already helped nab seven fugitives related to major criminal cases such as human trafficking and hit-and-runs, and 26 others who were traveling with fake identities.

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CSN Editor: I can see the day when this is not only being used by police forces around the world .... but also by the military in war zones or within their bases..

Amazon Has No Idea On How to Stop Someone Who Is Sending Sex Toys To Strangers

Ben Collins, Daily Beast: Someone Is Sending Amazon Sex Toys to Strangers. Amazon Has No Idea How to Stop It.

Getting unsolicited packages from unknown strangers is creepy. Being unable to stop it only makes them creepier.

The first time Nikki unexpectedly received a sex toy in an Amazon box, she thought there must have been a mix-up at the factory. She’d bought some mascara that hadn’t arrived yet.

“At first I believed it to be a mistake,” she said.

But then the other packages came, one by one. A cord to a Bluetooth device was next. No gift receipt, no footprints and, as she’d discover over the next week, no help. The last package had headphones.

“The weird part about it is if this were a prank or a hacker sending things to women on the internet, it’d be expensive. I looked [the sex toy] up, and it’s $25, which is sort of substantial,” she said.

“It seems so personal.”

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CSN Editor: The weird thing is that they cannot stop it.

Do You Want A Beehive In Your Home?

Bored Panda: Genius Company Installs Beehives In Your Living Room, And Here’s How It Works

As you probably know already, the bee population is in a consistent decline and has been for some time, with modern industrial farming methods and loss of habitat being identified causes.

This is bad news for all of us, as bees do the crucial job of pollinating so many of the plants that we rely on for food. In order to counter this, we have to come up with innovative solutions, as we all know how difficult it is to make huge, moneymaking corporations change their damaging practices.

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WNU Editor: This is not for me. :)

The U.S. Government Can Now Unlock Your iPhone

Apple Inc.

Forbes: The Feds Can Now (Probably) Unlock Every iPhone Model In Existence -- UPDATED

In what appears to be a major breakthrough for law enforcement, and a possible privacy problem for Apple customers, a major U.S. government contractor claims to have found a way to unlock pretty much every iPhone on the market.

Cellebrite, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based vendor that's become the U.S. government's company of choice when it comes to unlocking mobile devices, is this month telling customers its engineers currently have the ability to get around the security of devices running iOS 11 (right up to 11.2.6). That includes the iPhone X, a model that Forbes has learned was successfully raided for data by the Department for Homeland Security back in November 2017, most likely with Cellebrite technology.

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CSN Editor: We all knew that it was just a matter of time.

This Human-Controlled Robot Is 13 Feet Tall

CNBC: This 13-foot robot cost over $100 million to develop and looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie

Giant human-controlled robots aren't just for Hollywood anymore.

CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin tried out the Method-2, a 1.6-ton, 13-foot tall robot made by Hankook Mirae Technology in South Korea. It's the same robot that made an impression on Jeff Bezos at Amazon's MARS conference last year.

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CSN Editor: This is one hell of a big robot (and expensive).

Websites Designed by Artificial Intelligence

From YouTube: Henri Bergius, VP engineering at The Grid, an AI that builds your website based on its content, hacker and occasional adventurer, is the creator of Create.js and NoFlo.

In this second talk of the session Artificial Intelligence, Technology without Alternative? at Lift16, Henri Bergius reveals for the first time how he and his team are automating design processes and how the use of such an AI could radically change the way websites such as the amazon catalog or no-budget blogs look like.

How do you teach a machine to understand beauty, color matching, smart use of blank space? Enter the world of AI-designed websites with Henri Bergius!

CSN Editor: They still have a lot of work ahead of them.

World's 5 Largest Gold Nuggets

The world’s second largest nugget in existence, the Great Triangle, was excavated in 1842 in the Miass area of the Russian Urals. The triangular-shaped nugget, owned by the Russian state, weighs of 36.2 kg, including a fine gold content of 32.94 kg, or 1,059 troy ounces. The Great Triangle is on display in the Russia’s ‘Diamond Fund’ collection in the Moscow Kremlin. © Yu. Levyant / Reuters

RT: World's 5 largest gold nuggets that haven't been melted down

Gold has been an attractive asset throughout much of human history. Today's investors use it as a safe haven against market volatility. But where did gold mining start and what does the precious metal look like on extraction?

Humanity learned to extract gold centuries ago. The oldest known gold artifacts were reportedly found in the Varna Necropolis on the territory of modern Bulgaria. The graves allegedly date back to 4200 BC, which shows that gold mining might be at least 7,000 years old.

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CSN Editor: The bigger story is mankind's fascination with gold since the beginning of time.

3000 Years Of Art In Just 3 Minutes

Kotte: 3000 years of art in just three minutes

This short film from 1968, set to Classical Gas, shows 3000 years of fine art in just three minutes. As the final frame of the film says:

You have just had all of the Great Art of the World indelibly etched in your brain. You are now cultured.

As mesmerizing as the film is, especially for 1968, the backstory is perhaps even more interesting. Mason Williams, who wrote and recorded Classical Gas, saw this film by UCLA film student Dan McLaughlin and arranged, with McLaughlin’s permission, to have the original soundtrack replaced with his song and to have it aired on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS, then the number one show on TV in America.

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CSN Editor: Love the music. What is amazing is that this video/movie was done in 1968.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

25 Hurricanes Hit The USA In The 1880s

Next Big Future: Was there global warming in the 1880s? Because 25 hurricanes hit the USA in that decade

A total of 293 Atlantic tropical cyclones have produced hurricane-force winds in every state along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, as well as Pennsylvania. Florida more than any other hurricane.

CNN and Jeffrey Sachs are blaming the three hurricanes that hit the USA this year on climate change. The 1880s were the most active hurricane decade for the United States, with a total of 25 hurricanes affecting the nation. Does this mean that 1880s had the most climate change hurricanes?

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CSN Editor: Another example on why more research on understanding climate change needs to be done.

Amazon's List Of HQ2 Contenders Is Now Down To 20 Finalists

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
The top 20 finalists. (Madison McVeigh/CityLab)

City Lab: Amazon Whittles Down List of HQ2 Contenders to 20 Finalists

The list skews toward larger cities and metropolitan areas along the Eastern corridor, stretching as far north as Toronto and as far south as Miami. And it looks like some of the economic incentives might be paying off.

We’re one step closer to finding out where Amazon’s coveted HQ2 will call home. The company has whittled down the list of 238 cities to 20, it announced Thursday morning. The list of finalists skews toward larger cities and metropolitan areas along the Eastern corridor, stretching as far north as Toronto and as far south as Miami.

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CSN News: My money is on Dallas/Austin or Atlanta.