Only the World's Greatest News. From Science & Technology
event November 2018
First tunnel of The Boring Company is all dug up
On Friday night, Boring Company CEO Elon Musk tweeted images of his tunnel-boring machine appearing to emerge from the dirt into a cavernous hole, with bystanders at the hole's edge watching the spinning boring head. The more-than-two-mile-long tunnel began in January 2017 in the parking lot of SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The Hawthorne tunnel is just a test tunnel for The Boring Company, which also plans to complete a second, 3.6-mile, one-way tunnel from Los Angeles Metro to Dodger Stadium. Eventually, the company wants to dig a tunnel in Chicago between O'Hare International Airport and the city's downtown.
Scientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined.Currently, it is defined by the weight of a platinum-based ingot called "Le Grand K" which is locked away in a safe in Paris.Researchers at the General Conference on Weights and Measures voted to get rid of it in favour of defining a kilogram in terms of an electric current.
Companies Plan To Implant Microchips Into Their Employees
"Companies are planning to microchip some of their staff in order to boost security and stop them accessing sensitive areas," reports the Telegraph. "Biohax, a Swedish company that provides human chip implants, told the Telegraph it was in talks with a number of UK legal and financial firms to implant staff with the devices."
Large, Strangely Dim Galaxy Found Lurking On Far Side of Milky Way
Circling our galaxy is a stealthy giant. Antlia 2 eluded detection until now because it is 10,000 times fainter. The galaxy was discovered with data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, a space telescope measuring the motions and properties of more than 1 billion stars in and around the Milky Way.
Food taste 'not protected by copyright' rules EU court
The taste of a food cannot be protected by copyright, the EU's highest legal authority has ruled in a case involving a Dutch cheese.The European Court of Justice said the taste of food was too "subjective and variable" for it to meet the requirements for copyright protection.The court was asked to rule in the case of a spreadable cream cheese and herb dip, Heksenkaas, produced by Levola.
Scientists Find Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and the Appendix
Scientists have found further evidence that the gut, or more specifically the appendix, might play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. The international team of scientists reviewed two datasets, including a large registry from Sweden, and found that removal of the appendix was associated with a decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. They also found that the human appendix contains clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein in a form associated with the disease.
Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown
Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system’s impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses.
The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying the planet’s ability to feed the 10 billion people expected to be on the planet in a few decades. Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution.
Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a report that says global temperatures are heading towards 3 degrees C, and that the original goal of keeping the rise under 1.5 degrees C will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” While the window of opportunity is not yet closed, the prospect looks unlikely and hugely expensive.
Artificial sweeteners toxic to digestive gut bacteria
According to a study published in the journal Molecules, researchers found that six common artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration and 10 sport supplements that contained them were found to be toxic to the digestive gut microbes of mice. The toxicity of aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k were tested. When exposed to only 1 milligram per milliliter of the artificial sweeteners, the bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic.
To gain new insight into how highly specialized workers learn skills or react to stressful situations, researchers are leveraging advanced scanning technologies to look at what’s happening inside the brain. A team of researchers studied surgeons as they performed surgical simulations and found they could identify novice from experienced surgeons by analyzing brain scans taken as the physicians worked. The part of the brain involved in planning complex behaviors was more active in the novices. Skilled surgeons had more activity in the motor cortex, which is important for movement.
Humans Are Causing the Earth To Wobble More Than It Should, NASA Finds
The researchers used a wealth of data gathered over 100 years to build mathematical models to trace the causes of the wobble and found that three factors are at play, and mankind is responsible for one of them. Two of the three factors identified by the scientists are glacial rebound and mantle convection.
Glacial rebound happens when thick ice sheets physically push down on land masses, compressing them, but then release that pressure upon melting. The land then balloons back up over time, causing Earth’s spin to wobble as if slightly off-axis. The effects of the last ice age, which would have compressed a huge amount of land across many continents, is still being felt today in the form of glacial rebound. Mantle convection, the other uncontrollable factor in Earth’s wobble, relates to our planet’s inner workings. The plates on Earth’s surface are in constant flux due to the movement of liquid rock far beneath our feet. The researchers believe these currents also contribute to the planet’s imperfect spin. The third and final factor identified by the scientists is the massive loss of ice on Greenland and other areas, which is the direct result of global warming thanks to human activities. The researchers estimate that Greenland has lost roughly 7,500 gigatons, or 7,500,000,000,000 metric tons of ice due to global warming. All that ice loss has happened in the 20th century, and greenhouse gas production has been cited as the primary culprit. Losing all that mass has caused a significant shift on the planet and has contributed to the wobble as well.
Japan’s Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land On Asteroid Ryugu
Two tiny hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu — and they’ve even sent back some wild postcards from their new home. The tiny rovers are part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission. Engineers with the agency deployed the robots early Friday (Sept. 21), but JAXA waited until today (Sept. 22) to confirm the operation was successful and both rovers made the landing safely. In order to complete the deployment, the main spacecraft of the Hayabusa2 mission lowered itself carefully down toward the surface until it was just 180 feet (55 meters) up. After the rovers were on their way, the spacecraft raised itself back up to its typical altitude of about 12.5 miles above the asteroid’s surface (20 kilometers). The agency still has two more deployments yet to accomplish before it can rest easy: Hayabusa2 is scheduled to deploy a larger rover called MASCOT in October and another tiny hopper next year. And of course, the main spacecraft has a host of other tasks to accomplish during its stay at Ryugu — most notably, to collect a sample of the primitive world to bring home to Earth for laboratory analysis.
People Tend To Cluster Into Four Distinct Personality Types
A new study has sifted through some of the largest online data sets of personality quizzes and identified four distinct “types” therein. Average: These people score high in neuroticism and extraversion, but score low in openness. It is the most typical category, with women being more likely than men to fit into it.
Reserved: This type of person is stable emotionally without being especially open or neurotic. They tend to score lower on extraversion but tend to be somewhat agreeable and conscientious. Role Models: These people score high in every trait except neuroticism, and the likelihood that someone fits into this category increases dramatically as they age. “These are people who are dependable and open to new ideas,” says Amaral. “These are good people to be in charge of things.” Women are more likely than men to be role models.
Self-Centered: These people score very high in extraversion, but score low in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Most teenage boys would fall into this category, according to Revelle, before (hopefully) maturing out of it. The number of people who fall into this category decreases dramatically with age.
NASA Releases Thousands of Hours of Apollo 11 Mission Audio
NASA and the University of Texas have teamed up to digitize 19,000 hours of recordings from the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first two people on the moon. The audio was uploaded to the Internet Archive, a nonprofit website that hosts digitized versions of cultural artifacts
Scientists Discover Hidden Deep-Sea Coral Reef Off South Carolina Coast
A pair of dives in a submersible, part of an exploration project, confirmed the existence of the coral reef last week, and based on observations, researchers estimate the reef is at least 85 miles long.
Air Pollution Causing Huge Reduction in Intelligence
The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
Six To Eight Hours of Sleep Best For the Heart, Says Study
Research shows sleep deprivation or excessive hours in bed increase risk of coronary artery disease or stroke. From a report: Six to eight hours of sleep a night is most beneficial for the heart, while more or less than that could increase the risk of coronary artery disease or a stroke, researchers have suggested. Data from more than a million adults from 11 studies was analysed as part of the research.
After nearly 60 years of lighting homes halogens will be replaced with more energy efficient LEDs. Remaining stocks may still be sold, and capsules, linear and low voltage incandescents used in oven lights will be exempted. LEDs consume one-fifth of the energy of halogen bulbs and their phase-out will prevent more than 15m tonnes of carbon emissions a year
NASA, ULA Launch Parker Solar Probe on Historic Journey to Touch Sun
Roughly the size of a small car, the spacecraft lifted on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The mission’s findings will help researchers improve their forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites and harm astronauts on orbit, disrupt radio communications and, at their most severe, overwhelm power grids. The spacecraft will transmit its first science observations in December.
Scientists Claim To Have Solved the Mystery of the Bermuda Triangle
British oceanographers now believe that “rogue waves” are responsible for the disappearance of a number of ships in the region. They’re abnormally large and unexpected waves in open sea. Dr Simon Boxall, an Oceanographer from the University of Southampton who led the new study, explained on a Channel 5 documentary The Bermuda Triangle Enigma: “there are storms to the South and North, which come together… we’ve measured waves in excess of 30 meters”.
NEC’s system is built around an AI engine called NeoFace will provide a large-scale facial recognition system. The system will be used to identify over 300,000 people at the games, including athletes, volunteers, media, and other staff. NEC demonstrated the technology in Tokyo today, showing how athletes and other staff wouldn’t be able to enter venues if they were holding someone else’s IC card.
The new scale called Rio 2.0 allows scientists to rate interesting signals detected in searches for extraterrestrial intelligence from 0 to 10, where 0 is nothing to get excited about and 10 is equivalent to an alien space probe orbiting the Earth or an alien shaking your hand.
Russian Scientists Claim to Have Resurrected 40,000-Year-Old Worms Buried in Ice
The worms were found among more than 300 samples of frozen soil pulled from the Kolyma River Lowlands in Northeastern Siberia by the researchers. One sample from a buried squirrel burrow dating back 32,000 years and one from a glacier dating back 40,000 years. After isolating intact nematodes, the scientists kept the samples at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and left them surrounded by food in a petri dish, just to see what would happen. Over the next few weeks, they gradually spotted flickers of life as the worms ate the food and even cloned new family members. These cloned worms were then cultured separately, and they too thrived.
New wearable sensor detects stress hormone in sweat
Stanford researchers have figured out how much cortisol someone is producing in seconds, using sweat from the skin. A wearable membrane allows charged ions, like sodium and potassium, to pass through. Cortisol, which has no charge, can’t pass, and instead blocks the charged ions. Signals sent from an electrical sensor in the patch can be used to detect these and determine how much cortisol is in the sweat.
Scientists at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus have taken detailed pictures of the entire brain of an adult female fruit fly using transmission electron microscopy. The fruit fly brain, roughly the size of a poppy seed, contains about 100,000 neurons (humans have 100 billion). Each neuron branches into a starburst of fine wires that touch the wires of other neurons. Neurons talk to one another through these touchpoints, or synapses, forming a dense mesh of communication circuits.
Study finds cellphone use may affect teenagers’ memory
The investigation, led by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), in a study involving nearly 700 adolescents in Switzerland, has found that Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields may have adverse effects on the development of memory performance of specific brain regions exposed during mobile phone use.
NASA finds first evidence of a young star devouring a planet
Scientists may have observed, for the first time, the destruction of a young planet or planets around a nearby star. Observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicate that the parent star is now in the process of devouring the planetary debris.
Russian Shipwreck Allegedly Carrying $130 Billion In Gold Has Been Rediscovered
A South Korean salvage team has discovered the wreck of a Russian warship that was sunk in a naval battle 113 years ago and is believed to still contain a trove of gold bullion and coins worth 150 trillion won, or £100 billion.
MeerKAT radio telescope inaugurated in South Africa
MeerKAT revealed extraordinary detail in the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy. The centre of the galaxy is unique, visually striking and full of unexplained phenomena
India now has the ‘world’s strongest’ net neutrality rules
India has just adopted tough new rules guaranteeing an open and fair internet for nearly half a billion people. “Internet access services should be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content,” the new Indian regulations state. That includes “practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content.”
The latest findings come from a decade long study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine that included about a half-million people. People who drank two to three cups per day had about a 12 percent lower risk of death compared to non-coffee drinkers
Computer scientists at Stanford University and Google have created technology that can track time down to 100 billionths of a second. For an exchange like Nasdaq, such refinement is essential to accurately order the millions of stock trades that are placed on their computer systems every second.
Survey Finds 57% of Tech Workers Are Suffering From Job Burnout
A survey conducted among the tech workers, including many employees of Silicon Valley’s elite tech companies, has revealed that over 57% of respondents are suffering from job burnout. The survey was carried out by the makers of an app that allows employees to review workplaces and have anonymous conversations at work, behind their employers’ backs. Over 11K employees answered one question — if they suffer from job burnout, and 57.16% said “Yes.”
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 processor may be intended for PCs, but it’s still a half step — it’s really a higher-clocked version of the same processor you’d find in your phone. It would consume a laptop-like 12W of power across the entire system-on-a-chip. It would compete directly with Intel’s low-power Core processors. It’d have up to 16GB of RAM and two 128GB storage modules.
Mumbai Bans Plastic Bags, Bottles, and Single-Use Plastic Containers
Mumbai became the first city in India to have implemented plastic ban, prohibiting usage of all single-use plastic bags, Bottles, and Single-Use Plastic Containers besides also banning the manufacturing and sale of such items.
The World’s Smallest Computer Can Fit on the Tip of a Grain of Rice
Engineers at the University of Michigan have created the world’s smallest computer—again. these Nanodevices could have wide-ranging uses, especially in medicine where highly accurate sensors that are unobtrusive can help shed new light on disease
Algeria Shuts Off Entire Country’s Internet To Stop Students From Cheating
In an extreme measure to prevent students from leaking high school diploma exams online, Algeria has begun instituting mobile and landline internet service across the country for an hour at a time during the exam period.
Submarine cables could be repurposed as earthquake detectors
The principle involves seismic waves from earthquakes which will deform the submarine cables minutely. The resulting tiny phase changes in light (in the order of millionths of a metre for a cable several thousand kilometres long) can be detected. A good example of the way in which advances in one field of science can lead to new developments in other, apparently unrelated fields.
Antarctica Is Melting Three Times As Fast As a Decade Ago
The continent is now melting so fast, scientists say, that it will contribute six inches (15 centimeters) to sea-level rise by 2100. If all ice melted, it would be enough to raise the world’s sea levels by roughly 200 feet.
Giant African Baobab Trees Die Suddenly After Thousands of Years
Some of Africa’s oldest and biggest baobab trees have abruptly died, wholly or in part, in the past decade, according to researchers. The trees, aged between 1,100 and 2,500 years and in some cases as wide as a bus is long, may have fallen victim to climate change, the team speculated
NASA Makes Two Decades of Satellite Images of Earth Available To the Public
Multiple instruments aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively, have kept close watch on the virtually the entire planet for nearly 20 years. The longest continuous daily satellite observation record of Earth ever compiled is now available.
The US Department of Energy on Friday unveiled Summit, a supercomputer capable of performing 200 quadrillion calculations per second, or 200 petaflops. Summit, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was built for AI.
French School Students To Be Banned From Using Mobile Phones
The lower house of parliament in France has passed what it called a “detox” law for a younger generation increasingly addicted to screens. Banning phones in schools meant all children now had a legal “right to disconnect” from digital pressures during their school day.
The airline has just unveiled a new first class suite on board its latest aircraft that features “virtual windows” instead of real ones, which will make them lighter and faster. On the inside there will be “a full display of windows,” which will beam in the images from the outside.
GitHub is the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share and collaborate. Post acquisition, GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects — and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device.
New microscope captures detailed 3-d movies of cells deep within living systems
Our window into the cellular world just got a whole lot clearer. By combining two imaging technologies, scientists can now watch in unprecedented 3-D detail as cancer cells crawl, spinal nerve circuits wire up, and immune cells cruise
HHMI scientists have deconstructed the brain circuits that control parenting behavior in mice and identified discrete sets of cells that control actions, motivations, and hormonal changes involved in nurturing young animals.