logo RSS Rabbit quadric
News that matters, fast.
Good luck, have news.
Happy scrolling!

Categories



Date/Time of Last Update: Mon Nov 28 06:00:32 2022 UTC




********** ASIA **********
return to top



The State of the Transistor in 3 Charts
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 16:00:01 +0000


The most obvious change in transistor technology in the last 75 years has been just how many we can make. Reducing the size of the device has been a titanic effort and a fantastically successful one, as these charts show. But size isn’t the only feature engineers have been improving.


In 1947, there was only one transistor. According to TechInsight’s forecast, the semiconductor industry is on track to produce almost 2 billion trillion (1021) devices this year. That’s more transistors than were cumulatively made in all the years prior to 2017. Behind that barely conceivable number is the continued reduction in the price of a transistor, as engineers have learned to integrate more and more of them into the same area of silicon.


Scaling down transistors in the 2D space of the plane of the silicon has been a smashing success: Transistor density in logic circuits has increased more than 600,000-fold since 1971. Reducing transistor size requires using shorter wavelengths of light, such as extreme ultraviolet, and other lithography tricks to shrink the space between transistor gates and between metal interconnects. Going forward, it’s the third dimension, where transistors will be built atop one another, that counts. This trend is more than a decade old in flash memory, but it’s still in the future for logic (see “Taking Moore’s Law to New Heights.”)


Perhaps the crowning achievement of all this effort is the ability to integrate millions, even billions, of transistors into some of the most complex systems on the planet: CPUs. Here’s a look at some of the high points along the way.

What Transistors Have Become


Besides making them tiny and numerous, engineers have devoted their efforts to enhancing the device’s other qualities. Here is a small sampling of what transistors have become in the last 75 years:


Icon of a series of circles.

Ephemeral:

Researchers in Illinois developed circuits that dissolve in the body using a combination of ultrathin silicon membranes, magnesium conductors, and magnesium oxide insulators. Five minutes in water was enough to turn the first generation to mush. But recently researchers used a more durable version to make temporary cardiac pacemakers that release an anti-inflammatory drug as they disappear.


An icon of lightning bolt over a circle.

Fast:

The first transistor was made for radio frequencies, but there are now devices that operate at about a billion times those frequencies. Engineers in South Korea and Japan reported the invention of an indium gallium arsenide high-electron mobility transistor, or HEMT, that reached a maximum frequency of 738 gigahertz. Seeking raw speed, engineers at Northrop Grumman made a HEMT that passed 1 terahertz.



An icon of an iron with a line underneath.

Flat:

Today’s (and yesterday’s) transistors depend on the semiconducting properties of bulk (3D) materials. Tomorrow’s devices might rely on 2D semiconductors, such as molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide. These transistors might be built in the interconnect layers above a processor’s silicon, researchers say. So 2D semiconductors could help lead to 3D processors.


An icon of a circle with a series of lines on it

Flexible:

The world is not flat, and neither are the places transistors need to operate. Using indium gallium arsenide, engineers in South Korea recently made high-performance logic transistors on plastic that hardly suffered when bent around a radius of just 4 millimeters. And engineers in Illinois and England have made microcontrollers that are both affordable and bendable.



Icon of a eye with a question mark in the center.

Invisible:

When you need to hide your computing in plain sight, turn to transparent transistors. Researchers in Fuzhou, China, recently made a see-through analogue of flash memory using organic semiconductor thin-film transistors. And researchers in Japan and Malaysia produced transparent diamond devices capable of handling more than 1,000 volts.


Icon of a brain made out of square icons

Mnemonic:

NAND flash memory cells can store multiple bits in a single device. Those on the market today store either 3 or 4 bits each. Researchers at Kioxia Corp. built a modified NAND flash cell and dunked it in 77-kelvin liquid nitrogen. A single superchilled transistor could store up to 7 bits of data, or 128 different values.



Icon of a circle with a star inside.

Talented:

In 2018, engineers in Canada used an algorithm to generate all the possible unique and functional elementary circuits that can be made using just two metal-oxide field-effect transistors. The number of circuits totaled an astounding 582. Increasing the scope to three transistors netted 56,280 circuits, including several amplifiers previously unknown to engineering.


Icon of a shield

Tough:

Some transistors can take otherworldly punishment. NASA Glenn Research Center built 200-transistor silicon carbide ICs and operated them for 60 days in a chamber that simulates the environment on the surface of Venus—460 °C heat, a planetary-probe-crushing 9.3 megapascals of pressure, and the hellish planet’s corrosive atmosphere.

This article appears in the December 2022 print issue as “The State of the Transistor.”


Match ID: 0 Score: 130.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 1 day
qualifiers: 40.00 japan, 40.00 china, 30.00 south korea, 20.00 malaysia

The U.S.-China Chip Ban, Explained
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 17:28:29 +0000


It has now been over a month since the U.S. Commerce Department issued new rules that clamped down on the export of certain advanced chips—which have military or AI applications—to Chinese customers.

China has yet to respond—but Beijing has multiple options in its arsenal. It’s unlikely, experts say, that the U.S. actions will be the last fighting word in an industry that is becoming more geopolitically sensitive by the day.

This is not the first time that the U.S. government has constrained the flow of chips to its perceived adversaries. Previously, the United States has blocked chip sales to individual Chinese customers. In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the United States (along with several other countries, including South Korea and Taiwan) placed Russia under a chip embargo.


But none of these prior U.S. chip bans were as broad as the new rules, issued on 7 October. “This announcement is perhaps the most expansive export control in decades,” says Sujai Shivakumar, an analyst at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, in Washington.

The rules prohibit the sale, to Chinese customers, of advanced chips with both high performance (at least 300 trillion operations per second, or 300 teraops) and fast interconnect speed (generally, at least 600 gigabytes per second). Nvidia’s A100, for comparison, is capable of over 600 teraops and matches the 600 Gb/s interconnect speed. Nvidia’s more-impressive H100 can reach nearly 4,000 trillion operations and 900 Gb/s. Both chips, intended for data centers and AI trainers, cannot be sold to Chinese customers under the new rules.

Additionally, the rules restrict the sale of fabrication equipment if it will knowingly be used to make certain classes of advanced logic or memory chips. This includes logic chips produced at nodes of 16 nanometers or less (which the likes of Intel, Samsung, and TSMC have done since the early 2010s); NAND long-term memory integrated circuits with at least 128 layers (the state of the art today); or DRAM short-term memory integrated circuits produced at 18 nanometers or less (which Samsung began making in 2016).

Chinese chipmakers have barely scratched the surface of those numbers. SMIC switched on 14-nm mass production this year, despite facing existing U.S. sanctions. YMTC started shipping 128-layer NAND chips last year.

The rules restrict not just U.S. companies, but citizens and permanent residents as well. U.S. employees at Chinese semiconductor firms have had to pack up. ASML, a Dutch maker of fabrication equipment, has told U.S. employees to stop servicing Chinese customers.

Speaking of Chinese customers, most—including offices, gamers, designers of smaller chips—probably won’t feel the controls. “Most chip trade and chip production in China is unimpacted,” says Christopher Miller, a historian who studies the semiconductor trade at Tufts University.

The controlled sorts of chips instead go into supercomputers and large data centers, and they’re desirable for training and running large machine-learning models. Most of all, the United States hopes to stop Beijing from using chips to enhance its military—and potentially preempt an invasion of Taiwan, where the vast majority of the world’s semiconductors and microprocessors are produced.

In order to seal off one potential bypass, the controls also apply to non-U.S. firms that rely on U.S.-made equipment or software. For instance, Taiwanese or South Korean chipmakers can’t sell Chinese customers advanced chips that are fabricated with U.S.-made technology.

It’s possible to apply to the U.S. government for an exemption from at least some of the restrictions. Taiwanese fab juggernaut TSMC and South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix, for instance, have already acquired temporary exemptions—for a year. “What happens after that is difficult to say,” says Patrick Schröder, a researcher at Chatham House in London. And the Commerce Department has already stated that such licenses will be the exception, not the rule (although Commerce Department undersecretary Alan Estevez suggested that around two-thirds of licenses get approved).

More export controls may be en route. Estevez indicated that the government is considering placing restrictions on technologies in other sensitive fields—specifically mentioning quantum information science and biotechnology, both of which have seen China-based researchers forge major progress in the past decade.

The Chinese government has so far retorted with harsh words and little action. “We don’t know whether their response will be an immediate reaction or whether they have a longer-term approach to dealing with this,” says Shivakumar. “It’s speculation at this point.”

Beijing could work with foreign companies whose revenue in the lucrative Chinese market is now under threat. “I’m really not aware of a particular company that thinks it’s coming out a winner in this,” says Shivakumar. This week, in the eastern city of Hefei, the Chinese government hosted a chipmakers’ conference whose attendees included U.S. firms AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm.

Nvidia has already responded by introducing a China-specific chip, the A800, which appears to be a modified A100 cut down to meet the requirements. Analysts say that Nvidia’s approach could be a model for other companies to keep up Chinese sales.

There may be other tools the Chinese government can exploit. While China may be dependent on foreign semiconductors, foreign electronics manufacturers are in turn dependent on China for rare-earth metals—and China supplies the supermajority of the world’s rare earths.

There is precedent for China curtailing its rare-earth supply for geopolitical leverage. In 2010, a Chinese fishing boat collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels, triggering an international incident when Japanese authorities arrested the boat’s captain. In response, the Chinese government cut off rare-earth exports to Japan for several months.

Certainly, much of the conversation has focused on the U.S. action and the Chinese reaction. But for third parties, the entire dispute delivers constant reminders of just how tense and volatile the chip supply can be. In the European Union, home to less than 10 percent of the world’s microchips market, the debate has bolstered interest in the prospective European Chips Act, a plan to heavily invest in fabrication in Europe. “For Europe in particular, it’s important not to get caught up in this U.S.-China trade issue,” Schröder says.

“The way in which the semiconductor industry has evolved over the past few decades has predicated on a relatively stable geopolitical order,” says Shivakumar. “Obviously, the ground realities have shifted.”


Match ID: 1 Score: 77.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 21.43 china trade, 17.14 japan, 17.14 china, 12.86 south korea, 8.57 taiwan

How many migrant workers have died in Qatar? What we know about the human cost of the 2022 World Cup
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 17:12:07 GMT

This year’s tournament has been dominated by off-field matters. We look at the issues around the labor used to build the tournament’s infrastructure

The deaths of migrant workers in Qatar in the build-up to this year’s World Cup have drawn criticism across the world. While the tournament’s organizers put the official count at 40, estimates by the Guardian put the figure in the thousands. Here we explore the key questions around an issue that has tarnished the World Cup for many fans.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 2 Score: 45.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 india, 10.00 bangladesh

The papers: China rocked by protests and Hancock out of jungle
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 05:37:36 GMT
Monday's papers lead with the protests in Chinese cities over Beijing's strict zero-Covid policies.
Match ID: 3 Score: 40.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Futures Movers: U.S. stock futures fall as Chinese protests rattle markets, oil hits 2022 low
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 04:39:00 GMT
U.S. stock-index futures sank Sunday night, as Asian markets fell following widespread public demonstrations in China and as oil hit a 2022 low.
Match ID: 4 Score: 40.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

China prepares to send new 3-person crew to space station
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 23:06:29 EST
Final preparations are being made to send a new three-person crew to China’s space station as it nears completion amid intensifying competition with the United States
Match ID: 5 Score: 40.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Rare protests against China’s ‘zero covid’ policy erupt across country
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 22:40:05 EST
Demonstrations were sparked by accusations that pandemic restrictions had hampered rescuers trying to reach a deadly fire in Xinjiang.
Match ID: 6 Score: 40.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Twitter grapples with Chinese spam obscuring news of protests | For hours, links to adult content overwhelmed other posts from cities where dramatic rallies escalated
2022-11-28T03:19:01+00:00
Twitter grapples with Chinese spam obscuring news of protests | For hours, links to adult content overwhelmed other posts from cities where dramatic rallies escalated submitted by /u/MortWellian
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 7 Score: 40.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Partner of detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei hopeful of ‘compassionate and speedy resolution’
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 01:32:35 GMT

Nick Coyle said it was positive that prime minister Anthony Albanese and foreign minister Penny Wong had raised her case with their Chinese counterparts

The Australian journalist detained in China, Cheng Lei, is trying to remain positive despite her “very difficult situation” and is grateful for messages of encouragement from supporters, her partner has said.

Cheng’s partner, Nick Coyle, said it was positive that the Australian prime minister, the foreign minister and the deputy prime minister had all raised her case in recent talks with their Chinese counterparts.

Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Continue reading...
Match ID: 8 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

BBC says Chinese police assaulted and detained its reporter at Shanghai protest
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:10:02 GMT

Journalist Ed Lawrence was beaten after being arrested at a protest against China’s strict Covid restrictions, broadcaster says

Chinese police assaulted and detained a BBC journalist covering a protest in Shanghai on Sunday, releasing him after several hours, the broadcaster has said.

“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” a spokesperson for the British public service broadcaster said.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 9 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Clashes in Shanghai as protests over zero-Covid policy grip China
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:08:27 GMT

Beijing, Chengdu and Wuhan see demonstrations as anger over Xi Jinping’s strict Covid policies builds, in a test for the Communist party

Hundreds of demonstrators and police have clashed in Shanghai as protests over China’s stringent Covid restrictions flared for a third day and spread to several cities, in the biggest test for president Xi Jinping since he secured a historic third term in power.

The wave of civil disobedience is unprecedented in mainland China in the past decade, as frustration mounts over Xi’s signature zero-Covid policy nearly three years into the pandemic.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 10 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Germany grit, Morocco magic and Croatia crush Canada – Football Daily
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 23:28:50 GMT

Max Rushden is joined by Nicky Bandini, Ed Aarons and Archie Rhind-Tutt as the second round of fixtures in Group E & F are played

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Today: Germany and Spain play out a lively 1-1 draw, with goals from Álvaro Morata and Niclas Füllkrug ensuring Group E remains firmly in the balance after Japan faltered against Costa Rica.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 11 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 japan

Anti-lockdown protests spread in China as anger rises over zero-Covid strategy
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 23:20:52 GMT

Beijing students shout ‘freedom will prevail’, as Urumqi fire prompts levels of disobedience unprecedented in Xi era

People opposed to China’s stringent Covid restrictions have protested in cities across the country in the biggest wave of civil disobedience on the mainland since Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.

Protests triggered by a deadly apartment fire in the far west of the country last week took place on Sunday in cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou, according to footage shared on social media, in defiance of a series of heavy-handed arrests of demonstrators on Saturday night.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 12 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Rishi Sunak to set out pragmatic approach to Russia and China
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 22:35:24 GMT

Prime minister to make first major foreign policy speech, favouring a long-term, pragmatic attitude to Moscow and Beijing

Rishi Sunak will pledge an “evolutionary approach” to British foreign policy, arguing that states like Russia and China plan for the long term and the UK needs to follow suit as he attempts to set out his vision for the country’s place on the global stage.

In his first major foreign policy speech since becoming prime minister, he will draw on his years running the Treasury to say that the UK’s strength abroad must be underpinned by a strong economy at home as it stands up to competitors with “robust pragmatism”.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 13 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Germany cling to World Cup hopes after Niclas Füllkrug forces Spain draw
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 21:18:50 GMT

It turned out Germany did have a No 9, after all. His name is Niclas Füllkrug, he plays for Werder Bremen, he is 29 years old, 11 days into his international career, and when it mattered most he was there for them: coming on to give his country hope of staying in the World Cup. With just seven minutes to go in just his third game, he thumped a rising shot beyond Unai Simón to level the score, and offer them a lifeline, immediately running to the touchline and into the arms of Hansi Flick, relief all round.

If some of the jeopardy had been taken from this occasion six hours earlier, Costa Rica’s surprise victory over Japan meaning that Germany took a slight, uneasy step back from the edge of the abyss, this was still a dramatic moment and one that changes everything. Füllkrug’s goal gives the Mannschaft a footing at this tournament. They will have to defeat Costa Rica and even then their fate remains in Japan’s hands – and in Spain’s – but there is hope now. It could have been so much worse. It is not yet done for Spain yet either, although Luis Enrique noted that they still lead the group of death.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 14 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 japan

The Guardian view on bearing witness: when the mourners too are gone | Editorial
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 18:07:05 GMT

The death of a leader of Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo raises the question of how we can continue to remember

“We conquer death, dear children,” proclaimed Hebe de Bonafini, leader of Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. She devoted decades to ensuring that her sons, “disappeared” by the military junta in the late 1970s, were kept alive, if only in memory. The Mothers at first demanded the return of their children and then the punishment of those responsible for seizing and killing them. The risks they took were immense: the group’s founders were abducted and thrown into the ocean from “death flights”. But as politicians, the church and almost all of the media remained silent, these working-class housewives stood strong and confronted a brutal regime.

Now Mrs Bonafini too is gone. With her death, at 93, the group has dwindled further, though old companions marched in homage under the blistering sun last Thursday as her ashes were scattered on the plaza. Each day, inevitably, more of those who bore witness to the crimes of the past are lost. In Israel, more than 15,500 Holocaust survivors died last year. More than a third of China’s Tiananmen Mothers – who demand justice for children killed in the bloody crackdown on 1989’s pro-reform protests – have died. This month saw the death of Bao Tong, the most senior official jailed for his sympathy for the demonstrators. At 90, he remained under constant watch by authorities, and was one of the few who dared to break the taboo around the massacre, saying that China could not move forward until it “completely repudiated” the killings.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 15 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Xi unlikely to tolerate dissent as momentous protests shake China
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 17:55:55 GMT

Chinese leader will see widespread demonstrations against zero-Covid policy as threat to CCP’s authority

Just five weeks after being elected to a historic third term, President Xi Jinping suddenly faces cracks in the facade of unchallenged authority that he so successfully presented to the world at the 20th national congress of the Chinese Communist party.

For groups of protesters, apparently without central coordination, to take to the streets across China and to social media, and for some then explicitly to call for Xi and the Communist party to stand aside, is a seismic shock.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 16 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

World Cup 2022: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica - Keysher Fuller earns shock win
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 12:29:10 GMT
Japan fail to take another step towards the World Cup knockout rounds as Keysher Fuller's late goal earns Costa Rica a smash-and-grab Group E victory.
Match ID: 17 Score: 40.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 japan

China Covid: Shocking protests are huge challenge for China's leaders
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 10:31:14 GMT
China's rulers appear to have drastically underestimated growing discontent at Xi Jinping's zero-Covid policy.
Match ID: 18 Score: 40.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Depressed, powerless, angry: why frustration at China’s zero-Covid is spilling over
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 10:19:59 GMT

Public protests are the most visible signs of anger and scepticism over latest series of draconian lockdowns

Victoria Li* has experienced several lockdowns since Covid emerged in China almost three years ago. Being a prisoner in her own home in Beijing made her feel depressed, powerless and angry.

“Being stuck at home with my door sealed, I felt unmotivated to do anything,” she said. “I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to study. Sometimes, I crept into my bed and cried,” said the lawyer, who is in her 20s.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 19 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

‘Extinction is on the table’: Jaron Lanier warns of tech’s existential threat to humanity
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 09:00:04 GMT

The American computer scientist, who coined the term ‘virtual reality,’ cautions against online ‘psychological operatives’

Jaron Lanier, the eminent American computer scientist, composer and artist, is no stranger to skepticism around social media, but his current interpretations of its effects are becoming darker and his warnings more trenchant.

Lanier, a dreadlocked free-thinker credited with coining the term “virtual reality”, has long sounded dire sirens about the dangers of a world over-reliant on the internet and at the increasing mercy of tech lords, their social media platforms and those who work for them.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 20 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Deadly Xinjiang fire stokes discontent over China’s covid restrictions
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 13:14:01 EST
Videos show firetrucks parked at a distance from the blaze in Urumqi, leading to questions about whether China's coronavirus restrictions worsened the tragedy.
Match ID: 21 Score: 40.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Gordon Brown says China must pay into climate fund for poor countries
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 16:41:27 GMT

Former prime minister says US and Europe will pay biggest share of loss and damage fund, but China must too

China must pay into a new fund for poor countries stricken by climate-driven disaster on the basis of its high greenhouse gas emissions and large economy, the former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

“America and Europe will have to provide most, but China will have to contribute more too,” he told the Guardian.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 22 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 40.00 china

‘It made me think of decorations on a Christmas tree’: Arianna Genghini’s best phone picture
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 10:00:24 GMT

The Italian photographer was in San Francisco’s Chinatown when she came across this grand ivory building

Arianna Genghini’s first stop on her family road trip through four US states was San Francisco. While they went on to travel through Utah, Nevada and Arizona in a rented minivan, it was the California city’s expansive Chinatown that captured the Italian photographer’s eye most powerfully.

“I was exploring with my sister Sofia, and we spotted the Dragon Gate at the entrance to the district. It’s one of the largest Chinese communities outside China, just like a little city inside a bigger one. Stepping inside, I fell in love,” she says.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 23 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 17:13:24 +0000


Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

Happy Thanksgiving, for those who celebrate it. Now spend 10 minutes watching a telepresence robot assemble a turkey sandwich.

[ Sanctuary ]

Ayato Kanada, an assistant professor at Kyushu University in Japan, wrote in to share "the world's simplest omnidirectional mobile robot."

We propose a palm-sized omnidirectional mobile robot with two torus wheels. A single torus wheel is made of an elastic elongated coil spring in which the two ends of the coil connected each other and is driven by a piezoelectric actuator (stator) that can generate 2-degrees-of-freedom (axial and angular) motions. The stator converts its thrust force and torque into longitudinal and meridian motions of the torus wheel, respectively, making the torus work as an omnidirectional wheel on a plane.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Ayato!

This work entitled "Virtually turning robotic manipulators into worn devices: opening new horizons for wearable assistive robotics" proposes a novel hybrid system using a virtually worn robotic arm in augmented-reality, and a real robotic manipulator servoed on such virtual representation. We basically aim at bringing an illusion of wearing a robotic system while its weight is fully deported. We believe that this approach could offers a solution to the critical challenge of wight and discomfort cause by robotic sensorimotor extensions (such as supernumerary robotics limbs (SRL), prostheses or handheld tools), and open new horizons for the development of wearable robotics.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Nathanaël!

Engineers at Georgia Tech are the first to study the mechanics of springtails, which leap in the water to avoid predators. The researchers learned how the tiny hexapods control their jump, self-right in midair, and land on their feet in the blink of an eye. The team used the findings to build penny-sized jumping robots.

[ Georgia Tech ]

Thanks, Jason!

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) have asked European space industries and research institutions to develop innovative technologies for the exploration of resources on the Moon in the framework of the ESA-ESRIC Space Resources Challenge. As part of the challenge, teams of engineers have developed vehicles capable of prospecting for resources in a test-bed simulating the Moon's shaded polar regions. From 5 to 9 September 2022, the final of the ESA-ESRIC Space Resource Challenge took place at the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette. On this occasion, lunar rover prototypes competed on a 1,800 m² 'lunar' terrain. The winning team will have the opportunity to have their technology implemented on the Moon.

[ ESA ]

Thanks, Arne!

If only cobots were as easy to use as this video from Kuka makes it seem.

The Kuka website doesn't say how much this thing costs, which means it's almost certainly not something that you impulse buy.

[ Kuka ]

We present the tensegrity aerial vehicle, a design of collision-resilient rotor robots with icosahedron tensegrity structures. With collision resilience and re-orientation ability, the tensegrity aerial vehicles can operate in cluttered environments without complex collision-avoidance strategies. These capabilities are validated by a test of an experimental tensegrity aerial vehicle operating with only onboard inertial sensors in a previously-unknown forest.

[ HiPeR Lab ]

The robotics research group Brubotics and polymer science and physical chemistry group FYSC of the university of Brussels have developed together self-healing materials that can be scratched, punctured or completely cut through and heal themselves back together, with the required heat, or even at room temperature.

[ Brubotics ]

Apparently, the World Cup needs more drone footage, because this is kinda neat.

[ DJI ]

Researchers at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms have made significant progress toward creating robots that could build nearly anything, including things much larger than themselves, from vehicles to buildings to larger robots.

[ MIT ]

The researchers from North Carolina State University have recently developed a fast and efficient soft robotic swimmer that swims resembling human's butterfly-stroke style. It can achieve a high average swimming speed of 3.74 body length per second, close to five times faster than the fastest similar soft swimmers, and also a high-power efficiency with low cost of energy.

[ NC State ]

To facilitate sensing and physical interaction in remote and/or constrained environments, high-extension, lightweight robot manipulators are easier to transport and reach substantially further than traditional serial chain manipulators. We propose a novel planar 3-degree-of-freedom manipulator that achieves low weight and high extension through the use of a pair of spooling bistable tapes, commonly used in self-retracting tape measures, which are pinched together to form a reconfigurable revolute joint.

[ Charm Lab ]

SLURP!

[ River Lab ]

This video may encourage you to buy a drone. Or a snowmobile.

[ Skydio ]

Moxie is getting an update for the holidays!

[ Embodied ]

Robotics professor Henny Admoni answers the internet's burning questions about robots! How do you program a personality? Can robots pick up a single M&M? Why do we keep making humanoid robots? What is Elon Musk's goal for the Tesla Optimus robot? Will robots take over my job writing video descriptions...I mean, um, all our jobs? Henny answers all these questions and much more.

[ CMU ]

This GRASP on Robotics talk is from Julie Adams at Oregon State University, on “Towards Adaptive Human-Robot Teams: Workload Estimation.”

The ability for robots, be it a single robot, multiple robots or a robot swarm, to adapt to the humans with which they are teamed requires algorithms that allow robots to detect human performance in real time. The multi-dimensional workload algorithm incorporates physiological metrics to estimate overall workload and its components (i.e., cognitive, speech, auditory, visual and physical). The algorithm is sensitive to changes in a human’s individual workload components and overall workload across domains, human-robot teaming relationships (i.e., supervisory, peer-based), and individual differences. The algorithm has also been demonstrated to detect shifts in workload in real-time in order to adapt the robot’s interaction with the human and autonomously change task responsibilities when the human’s workload is over- or underloaded. Recently, the algorithm was used to post-hoc analyze the resulting workload for a single human deploying a heterogeneous robot swarm in an urban environment. Current efforts are focusing on predicting the human’s future workload, recognizing the human’s current tasks, and estimating workload for previously unseen tasks.

[ UPenn ]


Match ID: 24 Score: 40.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 2 days
qualifiers: 40.00 japan

U.S. stocks open mixed on short trading day
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 14:37:19 GMT

U.S. stock indexes opened mixed on Friday as investors assessed Fed rate policy outlook and weighed China's key bank-reserve's rate cut as COVID-19 cases rose. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 57 points, or 0.2%, to 34,251. The S&P 500 lost 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.6%. The latest meeting minutes from the Federal Reserve showed most policy makers expect a slower pace of interest rate increases ahead. In addition, China's central bank on Friday cut the ratio of deposits banks have to hold in reserve by 0.25 percentage point to an average 7.8%, saying the move would release roughly $70 billion of funds into an economy struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak. Markets will close at 1 p.m. ET on Friday.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 25 Score: 40.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

Canadian pop star Kris Wu sentenced to 13 years in jail for rape in China
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 11:23:10 GMT

Beijing court finds Chinese-born singer raped three women in November and December 2020

A Beijing court has sentenced the Chinese-born Canadian pop star Kris Wu to 13 years in jail after finding him guilty of crimes including rape, just over a year after his arrest in China, where he was born and built a lucrative career.

The court in Chaoyang district said investigations showed that from November to December 2020, Wu, also known as Wu Yifan, raped three women.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 26 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 40.00 china

'Miya' Museum: The controversy around Assam's 'Muslim' museum
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:23:28 GMT
Authorities in India's Assam state sealed a museum dedicated to Muslims - and many are asking why.
Match ID: 27 Score: 35.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 india

The Guardian view on Modi’s India: the danger of exporting Hindu chauvinism | Editorial
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 18:08:03 GMT

New Delhi’s foreign policy won’t be insulated from its domestic politics, which demonise India’s 200 million Muslims

When the US state department recently told a court that the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, should have immunity in a lawsuit over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it portrayed its argument as a legal and not moral position. By way of evidence, it pointed to a rogues’ gallery of foreign leaders previously afforded similar protection. Nestling between Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who, it was claimed, assassinated political rivals, and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, whose security detail was accused of assaulting protesters in Washington, was India’s Narendra Modi.

Dropping Mr Modi into such a list was no accident. It is a reminder that while New Delhi basks in its diplomatic success at recent G20 and Cop27 summits, it might find the international environment less accommodating if Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) continue to stir up hatred to win elections. Washington’s gesture suggests that its strategic partnership with India cannot be completely insulated from domestic political issues. Mr Modi’s failure, as chief minister of Gujarat, to prevent anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that left hundreds dead saw him denied a US visa, until he became Indian prime minister. The message from Foggy Bottom was that the ban had not been withdrawn, but suspended, because Mr Modi ran a country that Washington wanted to do business with.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 28 Score: 35.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 india

Jyoti Bhatt: The photographer who preserved rural Indian life
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 01:09:00 GMT
Jyoti Bhatt documented the nuances of rural Indian culture that are on the cusp of disappearing.
Match ID: 29 Score: 35.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 1 day
qualifiers: 35.00 india

A Criminal Ratted Out His Friend to the FBI. Now He's Trying to Make Amends.
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 12:00:23 +0000

The FBI paid a convicted sex offender $90,000 to set up his friend and his friend’s mentally ill buddy in a terrorism sting.

The post A Criminal Ratted Out His Friend to the FBI. Now He’s Trying to Make Amends. appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 30 Score: 35.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 35.00 india

Noora and Adhila: Kerala lesbian 'brides' in 'wedding' photoshoot
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 00:24:42 GMT
Gay marriage is not legal in India but congratulations poured in as the couple posed for wedding photos.
Match ID: 31 Score: 35.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 2 days
qualifiers: 35.00 india

Using artificial intelligence to spot breast cancer
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 00:13:52 GMT
An Indian company has developed a cheap, non-invasive test for breast cancer that uses thermal imaging and AI.
Match ID: 32 Score: 35.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 2 days
qualifiers: 35.00 india

Tickle Pill Bug Toes With These Haptic Microfingers
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 14:00:00 +0000


All things considered, we humans are kind of big, which is very limiting to how we can comfortably interact with the world. The practical effect of this is that we tend to prioritize things that we can see and touch and otherwise directly experience, even if those things are only a small part of the world in which we live. A recent study conservatively estimates that there are 2.5 million ants for every one human on Earth. And that’s just ants. There are probably something like 7 million different species of terrestrial insects, and humans have only even noticed like 10 percent of them. The result of this disconnect is that when (for example) insect populations around the world start to crater, it takes us much longer to first notice, care, and act.

To give the small scale the attention that it deserves, we need a way of interacting with it. In a paper recently published in Scientific Reports, roboticists from Ritsumeikan University in Japan demonstrate a haptic teleoperation system that connects a human hand on one end with microfingers on the other, letting the user feel what it’s like to give a pill bug a tummy rub.


Three images showing a top view of the microfinger, which is clear with with liquid metal channels running through it, and side views of the microfinger straight and bent. At top, a microfinger showing the pneumatic balloon actuator (PBA) and liquid metal strain gauge. At bottom left, when the PBA is deflated, the microfinger is straight. At bottom right, inflating the PBA causes the finger to bend downwards.

These microfingers are just 12 millimeters long, 3 mm wide, and 490 microns (μm) thick. Inside of each microfinger is a pneumatic balloon actuator, which is just a hollow channel that can be pressurized with air. Since the channel is on the top of the microfinger, when the channel is inflated, it bulges upward, causing the microfinger to bend down. When pressure is reduced, the microfinger returns to its original position. Separate channels in the microfinger are filled with liquid metal, and as the microfinger bends, the channels elongate, thinning out the metal. By measuring the resistance of the metal, you can tell how much the finger is being bent. This combination of actuation and force sensing means that a human-size haptic system can be used as a force feedback interface: As you move your fingers, the microfingers will move, and forces can be transmitted back to you, allowing you to feel what the microfingers feel.

Two images showing a concept drawing of the microfingers interacting with a pill bug, and a human hand enclosed in sensors and actuators. The microfingers (left) can be connected to a haptic feedback and control system for use by a human.

Fans of the golden age of science fiction will recognize this system as a version of Waldo F. Jones' Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph, although the concept has even deeper roots in sci-fi:

The thought suddenly struck me: I can make micro hands for my little hands. I can make the same gloves for them as I did for my living hands, use the same system to connect them to the handles ten times smaller than my micro arms, and then ... I will have real micro arms, they will chop my movements two hundred times. With these hands I will burst into such a smallness of life that they have only seen, but where no one else has disposed of their own hands. And I got to work.

With their very real and not science fiction system, the researchers were able to successfully determine that pill bugs can exert about 10 micro-Newtons of force through their legs, which is about the same as what has been estimated using other techniques. This is just a proof of concept study, but I’m excited about the potential here, because there is still so much of the world that humans haven’t yet been able to really touch. And besides just insect-scale tickling, there’s a broader practical context here around the development of insect-scale robots. Insects have had insect-scale sensing and mobility and whatnot pretty well figured out for a long time now, and if we’re going to make robots that can do insect-like things, we’re going to do it by learning as much as we can directly from insects themselves.

“With our strain-sensing microfinger, we were able to directly measure the pushing motion and force of the legs and torso of a pill bug—something that has been impossible to achieve previously. We anticipate that our results will lead to further technological development for microfinger-insect interactions, leading to human-environment interactions at much smaller scales.”
—Satoshi Konishi, Ritsumeikan University

I should also be clear that despite the headline, I don’t know if it’s actually possible to tickle a bug. A Google search for “are insects ticklish” turns up one single result, from someone asking this question on the "StonerThoughts" subreddit. There is some suggestion that tickling, or more specifically the kind of tickling that is surprising and can lead to laughter called gargalesis, has evolved in social mammals to promote bonding. The other kind of tickling is called knismesis, which is more of an unpleasant sensation that causes irritation or distress. You know, like the feeling of a bug crawling on you. It seems plausible (to me, anyway) that bugs may experience some kind of knismesis—but I think that someone needs to get in there and do some science, especially now that we have the tools to make it happen.
Match ID: 33 Score: 34.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 3 days
qualifiers: 34.29 japan

South Korea clings to North’s denuclearization, despite dwindling chances
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 01:00:16 EST
There's little optimism that negotiations over the issue will resume — and much concern that North Korea may soon carry out its first nuclear test since 2017.
Match ID: 34 Score: 30.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 30.00 south korea

Oxford scientists crack case of why ketchup splatters from near-empty bottle
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 18:00:11 +0000
Squeezing more slowly and doubling diameter of the nozzle can help prevent splatter
Match ID: 35 Score: 30.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 30.00 india

Apple iPhone factory workers clash with police in China
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 18:34:41 +0000
Violence erupts at Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou as COVID cases rise across country.
Match ID: 36 Score: 28.57 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 28.57 china

The world’s first Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phone is the Vivo X90 Pro Plus
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 17:55:10 +0000
Qualcomm's new chip will power most Android phones in 2023, but China's early.
Match ID: 37 Score: 28.57 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 28.57 china

The long, tangled journey of a European rover to Mars takes another twist
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 16:59:09 +0000
"I am very glad to say that we have found a positive way forward."
Match ID: 38 Score: 28.57 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 28.57 china

Spread on 2- and 10-year Treasury yields shrinks to almost minus 80 basis points, remains at most inverted level in 41 years
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 14:46:45 GMT

One of the bond market's most widely followed recession gauges dipped further below zero on Wednesday, signaling deepening concerns about the U.S. economic outlook. The spread on 2- and 10-year Treasury yields shrank to as little as minus 79.5 basis points, remaining at its most inverted level in 41 years. The inversion was being driven by a continued drop in the 10-year Treasury rate, to 3.72%, as investors fret about China's ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 39 Score: 28.57 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 28.57 china

IEEE SIGHT Founder Amarnath Raja Dies at 65
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 19:00:01 +0000


Amarnath Raja

Founder of IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology

Senior member, 65; died 5 September

Raja founded the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) in 2011. The global network partners with underserved communities and local organizations to leverage technology for sustainable development.


He began his career in 1980 as a management trainee at the National Dairy Development Board, in Anand, India. A year later he joined Milma, a state government marketing cooperative for the dairy industry, in Thiruvananthapuram, as a manager of planning and systems. After 15 years with Milma, he joined IBM in Tokyo as a manager of technology services.

In 2000 he helped found InApp, a company in Palo Alto, Calif., that provides software development services. He served as its CEO and executive chairman until he died.

Raja was the 2011–2012 chair of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee. He wanted to find a way to mobilize engineers to apply their expertise to develop sustainable solutions that help their local community. To achieve the goal, in 2011 he founded IEEE SIGHT. Today there are more than 150 SIGHT groups in 50 countries that are working on projects such as sustainable irrigation and photovoltaic systems.

For his efforts, he received the 2015 Larry K. Wilson Transnational Award from IEEE Member and Geographic Activities. The award honors effective efforts to fulfill one or more of the MGA goals and strategic objectives related to transnational activities.

For the past two years, Rajah chaired the IEEE Admission and Advancement Review Panel, which approves applications for new members and elevations to higher membership grades.

He was a member of the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software’s advisory board. The organization was established by the government of Kerala, India, to facilitate the development and distribution of free, open-source software. Raja also served on the board of directors at Bedroc, an IT staffing and support firm in Nashville.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1979 from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

Donn S. Terry

Software engineer

Life member, 74; died 14 September

Terry was a computer engineer at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins, Colo., for 18 years.

He joined HP in 1978 as a software developer, and he chaired the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) working group. POSIX is a family of standards specified by the IEEE Computer Society for maintaining compatibility among operating systems. While there, he also developed software for the Motorola 68000 microprocessor.

Terry left HP in 1997 to join Softway Solutions, also in Fort Collins, where he developed tools for Interix, a Unix subsystem of the Windows NT operating system. After Microsoft acquired Softway in 1999, he stayed on as a senior software development engineer at its Seattle location. There he worked on static analysis, a method of computer-program debugging that is done by examining the code without executing the program. He also helped to create SAL, a Microsoft source-code annotation language, which was developed to make code design easier to understand and analyze.

Terry retired in 2014. He loved science fiction, boating, cooking, and spending time with his family, according to his daughter, Kristin.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1970 and a Ph.D. in computer science in 1978, both from the University of Washington in Seattle.

William Sandham

Signal processing engineer

Life senior member, 70; died 25 August

Sandham applied his signal processing expertise to a wide variety of disciplines including medical imaging, biomedical data analysis, and geophysics.

He began his career in 1974 as a physicist at the University of Glasgow. While working there, he pursued a Ph.D. in geophysics. He earned his degree in 1981 at the University of Birmingham in England. He then joined the British National Oil Corp. (now Britoil) as a geophysicist.

In 1986 he left to join the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, as a lecturer in the signal processing department. During his time at the university, he published more than 200 journal papers and five books that addressed blood glucose measurement, electrocardiography data analysis and compression, medical ultrasound, MRI segmentation, prosthetic limb fitting, and sleep apnea detection.

Sandham left the university in 2003 and founded Scotsig, a signal processing consulting and research business, also in Glasgow.

He served on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Analog and Digital Signal Processing and the EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing.

He was a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a member of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Sandham earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1974 from the University of Glasgow.

Stephen M. Brustoski

Loss-prevention engineer

Life member, 69; died 6 January

For 40 years, Brustoski worked as a loss-prevention engineer for insurance company FM Global. He retired from the company, which was headquartered in Johnston, R.I., in 2014.

He was an elder at his church, CrossPoint Alliance, in Akron, Ohio, where he oversaw administrative work and led Bible studies and prayer meetings. He was an assistant scoutmaster for 12 years, and he enjoyed hiking and traveling the world with his family, according to his wife, Sharon.

Brustoski earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1973 from the University of Akron.

Harry Letaw

President and CEO of Essex Corp.

Life senior member, 96; died 7 May 2020

As president and CEO of Essex Corp., in Columbia, Md., Letaw handled the development and commercialization of optoelectronic and signal processing solutions for defense, intelligence, and commercial customers. He retired in 1995.

He had served in World War II as an aviation engineer for the U.S. Army. After he was discharged, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, then a master’s degree and Ph.D., all from the University of Florida in Gainesville, in 1949, 1951, and 1952.

After he graduated, he became a postdoctoral assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He left to become a researcher at Raytheon Technologies, an aerospace and defense manufacturer, in Wayland, Mass.

Letaw was a member of the American Physical Society and the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies.


Match ID: 40 Score: 25.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 25.00 india

Monkeys in central Thailand city mark their day with feast
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 07:28:30 EST
A city in central Thailand has served a meal fit for monkeys
Match ID: 41 Score: 20.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 thailand

Autonomous Vehicles Join the List of US National Security Threats
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 20:51:57 +0000
Lawmakers are growing concerned about a flood of data-hungry cars from China taking over American streets.
Match ID: 42 Score: 17.14 source: www.wired.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 17.14 china

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/21/2022
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 16:00:30 +0000
Payloads: Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Media Take Part 2: Using a JAXA camcorder, the crew participated in a live interview and recorded a session to discuss several subjects. The JAXA Public Relations Activity (JAXA EPO) includes conducting cultural activities such as writing reports about and filming video of activities aboard the ISS. These tools …
Match ID: 43 Score: 17.14 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 17.14 japan

Empresa com ex-presidente da Petrobras lucra quase meio bilhão com os campos que ele mesmo ajudou a vender
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 09:13:22 +0000

Após deixar estatal, Castello Branco assumiu conselho da 3R, companhia que faturou R$ 469 milhões apenas no terceiro trimestre deste ano.

The post Empresa com ex-presidente da Petrobras lucra quase meio bilhão com os campos que ele mesmo ajudou a vender appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 44 Score: 17.14 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 17.14 china

VinFast ships first round of electric vehicles to the U.S. market
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 13:30:52 GMT

VinFast said Friday it has shipped its first batch of 999 VF 8 electric vehicles to the U.S. market. The cars are expected to arrive by ship in California about 20 days after sailing from MPC Port in Haiphong, Vietnam. The first U.S. customers are expected to receive their cars by the end of December. The international export marks the start of filling VinFast's 65,000 global orders for its VF 8 and VF 9 cars. The company will ship cars to Canada and Europe for delivery in early 2023.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 45 Score: 15.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 15.00 vietnam

‘We couldn’t fail them’: how Pakistan’s floods spurred fight at Cop for loss and damage fund
Sun, 20 Nov 2022 16:24:54 GMT

With the deadly devastation fresh in the world’s mind, Pakistan pushed for damage funds with other frontline countries

In early September, after unprecedented rainfall had left a third of Pakistan under water, its climate change minister set out the country’s stall for Cop27. “We are on the frontline and intend to keep loss and damage and adapting to climate catastrophes at the core of our arguments and negotiations. There will be no moving away from that,” Sherry Rehman said.

Pakistan brought that resolve to the negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh and, as president of the G77 plus China negotiating bloc, succeeded in keeping developing countries united on loss and damage – despite efforts by some rich countries to divide them. Its chief negotiator, Nabeel Munir, a career diplomat, was backed by a team of savvy veteran negotiators who had witnessed the devastation and suffering from the floods, which caused $30bn (£25bn) of damage and economic losses. Every day, Munir repeated the same message: “Loss and damage is not charity, it’s about climate justice.”

Continue reading...
Match ID: 46 Score: 11.43 source: www.theguardian.com age: 7 days
qualifiers: 11.43 china

Top500: Frontier Still No. 1. Where’s China?
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 21:23:54 +0000


The latest list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers reveals that Frontier, at Oak Ridge National Lab, in Tennessee, has stayed on top. The newly released Top500 list could arguably be seen as a temporary object lesson in stasis, while still pointing toward future aspirants and aspiring countries who could one day challenge Frontier’s crown.

With a performance of 1.1 exaflops, or 1.1 quintillion floating-point operations per second, Frontier was the first machine to break the exascale barrier, a threshold of a billion billion calculations per second. It is still the only exascale supercomputer announced to date, according to this week’s ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Frontier, which is based on the latest HPE Cray EX235a architecture and boasts more than 8.7 million AMD cores, remains powerful enough to perform more than twice as well as the No. 2 machine, Fugaku, at the Riken Center for Computational Science, in Japan. Fugaku had led the Top500 list for two years until Frontier ousted it in June. Running more than 7.6 million Fujitsu cores, Fugaku’s performance, at 442 petaflops, joins Frontier in posting an unchanged compute speed since June’s Top500 list.

“Frontier is a first-of-a-kind supercomputer comprised of a hybrid architecture to run calculations at an unprecedented speed,” says Justin Whitt, program director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Our experienced team of technical staff and vendor partners worked tirelessly for Frontier to achieve the world’s first exascale performance on the Linpack benchmark as reported in May 2022.” Whitt cited three projects that have used Frontier since its unveiling to earn finalist status for the Gordon Bell prize, to be awarded at the Supercomputing 2022 conference in Dallas this week.

At third place on the Top500 list is the Lumi system in Finland, which uses an HPE Cray EX235a architecture and harnesses some 2.2 million AMD cores. LUMI has doubled in power since June—with a performance of 309 petaflops—and remains the most powerful supercomputer in Europe.

Judging by the Top500 list alone, China’s fastest entry, Sunway TaihuLight, trails far behind Frontier, clocking in at just 93 petaflops across its more than 10 million cores. (That’s just 8 percent of Frontier’s speed.) However, China’s HPC ambitions appear to be less than fully expressed on the otherwise gold-standard Top500 list.

Unentered as a Top500 contender (though still vying for the Gordon Bell prize) is China’s OceanLight system, which by all available measures at least seems to aspire to exaflop-sized performance—albeit one that remains inscrutable to international standards, typically measured by placement on the Top500 list. In March, the tech website The Next Platform used a paper published by coauthors from institutions such as the Alibaba Group and Tsinghua University to conclude that OceanLight is at least theoretically capable of attaining peak speeds of 2.3 exaflops.

However, that is only an estimate and remains merely a tantalizing glimpse, at best, into supercomputing’s competitive exascale future. That is also a future the U.S. Commerce Department is hoping to have a hand in curtailing. On 7 October, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security promulgated an export control restriction that seeks to ratchet down all HPC chips sold to the People’s Republic. Nvidia, for one, has already released a chip for possible use in Chinese supercomputers that meets the U.S.’s scaled-back restrictions, intended to quell China’s highest supercomputing and AI ambitions.

“Our actions will protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests while also sending a clear message that U.S. technological leadership is about values as well as innovation,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea D. Rozman Kendler, in a prepared statement at the time of the export control ban.

Meanwhile, back on the Top500 list, the only newcomer in the top 10 is Leonardo, at the Italian supercomputing consortium Cineca. Leonardo is based on the Atos BullSequana XH2000 architecture and has more than 1.4 million Intel Xeon cores. With a performance of 174.6 petaflops, Leonardo is the fourth-fastest supercomputer in the world, knocking the bottom seven entries in the previous top 10 list down a peg.

Frontier was ranked first on the last Green500 list, which measures supercomputing energy efficiency. However, it now ranks second to Henri at the Flatiron Institute, in New York. Whereas Frontier achieves 62.68 gigaflops per watt, Henri reaches about 65 gigaflops per watt. However, Henri is a far more modest machine, with only 5,920 Intel Xeon cores.

The world’s most powerful supercomputers continue to get faster. The entry point for the top 100 increased to about 10 petaflops, up from 5.39 petaflops as of June. The last system on the newest Top500 list sat at position 460 five months ago.

Intel continues to provide the processors for the largest share of Top500 computers—75.8 percent of systems, down from 81.6 percent a year ago. In contrast, AMD is making gains, underlying 20.2 percent of the systems on the current list, up from 14.6 percent a year ago.


Match ID: 47 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 12 days
qualifiers: 5.71 japan, 5.71 china

India’s First Private Space Rocket Blasts Off
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 17:51:56 +0000


A rocket built by Indian startup Skyroot has become the country’s first privately developed launch vehicle to reach space, following a successful maiden flight earlier today. The suborbital mission is a major milestone for India’s private space industry, say experts, though more needs to be done to nurture the fledgling sector.

The Vikram-S rocket, named after the founder of the Indian space program, Vikram Sarabhai, lifted off from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on India’s east coast, at 11:30 a.m. local time (1 a.m. eastern time). It reached a peak altitude of 89.5 kilometers (55.6 miles), crossing the 80-km line that NASA counts as the boundary of space, but falling just short of the 100 km recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

In the longer run, India’s space industry has ambitions of capturing a significant chunk of the global launch market.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, cofounder of the Hyderabad-based startup, says the success of the launch is a major victory for India’s nascent space industry, but the buildup to the mission was nerve-racking. “We were pretty confident on the vehicle, but, as you know, rockets are very notorious for failure,” he says. “Especially in the last 10 seconds of countdown, the heartbeat was racing up. But once the vehicle had crossed the launcher and then went into the stable trajectory, I think that was the moment of celebration.”

At just 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighing only around 550 kilograms (0.6 tonnes), the Vikram-S is not designed for commercial use. Today’s mission, called Prarambh, which means “the beginning” in Sanskrit, was designed to test key technologies that will be used to build the startup’s first orbital rocket, the Vikram I. The rocket will reportedly be capable of lofting as much as 480 kg up to an 500-km altitude and is slated for a maiden launch next October.

man standing in front of a rocket behind him Skyroot cofounder Pawan Kumar Chandana standing in front of the Vikram-S rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India.Skyroot

In particular, the mission has validated Skyroot’s decision to go with a novel all-carbon fiber structure to cut down on weight, says Chandana. It also allowed the company to test 3D-printed thrusters, which were used for spin stabilization in Vikram-S but will power the upper stages of its later rockets. Perhaps the most valuable lesson, though, says Chandana, was the complexity of interfacing Skyroot's vehicle with ISRO’s launch infrastructure. “You can manufacture the rocket, but launching it is a different ball game,” he says. “That was a great learning experience for us and will really help us accelerate our orbital vehicle.”

Skyroot is one of several Indian space startups looking to capitalize on recent efforts by the Indian government to liberalize its highly regulated space sector. Due to the dual-use nature of space technology, ISRO has historically had a government-sanctioned monopoly on most space activities, says Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation think tank, in New Delhi. While major Indian engineering players like Larsen & Toubro and Godrej Aerospace have long supplied ISRO with components and even entire space systems, the relationship has been one of a supplier and vendor, she says.

But in 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a series of reforms to allow private players to build satellites and launch vehicles, carry out launches, and provide space-based services. The government also created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (InSpace), a new agency designed to act as a link between ISRO and the private sector, and affirmed that private companies would be able to take advantage of ISRO’s facilities.

The first launch of a private rocket from an ISRO spaceport is a major milestone for the Indian space industry, says Rajagopalan. “This step itself is pretty crucial, and it’s encouraging to other companies who are looking at this with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,” she says. But more needs to be done to realize the government’s promised reforms, she adds. The Space Activities Bill that is designed to enshrine the country’s space policy in legislation has been languishing in draft form for years, and without regulatory clarity, it’s hard for the private sector to justify significant investments. “These are big, bold statements, but these need to be translated into actual policy and regulatory mechanisms,” says Rajagopalan.

Skyroot’s launch undoubtedly signals the growing maturity of India’s space industry, says Saurabh Kapil, associate director in PwC’s space practice. “It’s a critical message to the Indian space ecosystem, that we can do it, we have the necessary skill set, we have those engineering capabilities, we have those manufacturing or industrialization capabilities,” he says.

rocket launching into the sky with fire tail The Vikram-S rocket blasting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India.Skyroot

However, crossing this technical milestone is only part of the challenge, he says. The industry also needs to demonstrate a clear market for the kind of launch vehicles that companies like Skyroot are building. While private players are showing interest in launching small satellites for applications like agriculture and infrastructure monitoring, he says, these companies will be able to build sustainable businesses only if they are allowed to compete for more lucrative government and defense-sector contacts.

In the longer run, though, India’s space industry has ambitions of capturing a significant chunk of the global launch market, says Kapil. ISRO has already developed a reputation for both reliability and low cost—its 2014 mission to Mars cost just US $74 million, one-ninth the cost of a NASA Mars mission launched the same week. That is likely to translate to India’s private space industry, too, thanks to a considerably lower cost of skilled labor, land, and materials compared with those of other spacefaring nations, says Kapil. “The optimism is definitely there that because we are low on cost and high on reliability, whoever wants to build and launch small satellites is largely going to come to India,” he says.


Match ID: 48 Score: 10.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 5.71 china, 5.00 india

The EV Transition Explained: Battery Challenges
Sat, 19 Nov 2022 19:30:00 +0000


“Energy and information are two basic currencies of organic and social systems,” the economics Nobelist Herb Simon once observed. A new technology that alters the terms on which one or the other of these is available to a system can work on it the most profound changes.”

Electric vehicles at scale alter the terms of both basic currencies concurrently. Reliable, secure supplies of minerals and software are core elements for EVs, which represent a “shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system,” according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). For example, the mineral requirements for an EV’s batteries and electric motors are six times that of an internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicle, which can increase the average weight of an EV by 340 kilograms (750 pounds). For something like the Ford Lightning, the weight can be more than twice that amount.

EVs also create a shift from an electromechanical-intensive to an information-intensive vehicle. EVs offer a virtual clean slate from which to accelerate the design of safe, software-defined vehicles, with computing and supporting electronics being the prime enabler of a vehicle’s features, functions, and value. Software also allows for the decoupling of the internal mechanical connections needed in an ICE vehicle, permitting an EV to be controlled remotely or autonomously. An added benefit is that the loss of the ICE power train not only reduces the components a vehicle requires but also frees up space for increased passenger comfort and storage.

The effects of Simon’s profound changes are readily apparent, forcing a 120-year-old industry to fundamentally reinvent itself. EVs require automakers to design new manufacturing processes and build plants to make both EVs and their batteries. Ramping up the battery supply chain is the automakers’ current “most challenging topic,” according to VW chief financial officer Arno Antlitz.

It can take five or more years to get a lithium mine up and going, but operations can start only after it has secured the required permits, a process that itself can take years.

These plants are also very expensive. Ford and its Korean battery supplier SK Innovation are spending US $5.6 billion to produce F-Series EVs and batteries in Stanton, Tenn., for example, while GM is spending $2 billion to produce its new Cadillac Lyriq EVs in Spring Hill, Tenn. As automakers expand their lines of EVs, tens of billions more will need to be invested in both manufacturing and battery plants. It is little wonder that Tesla CEO Elon Musk calls EV factories “gigantic money furnaces.”

Furthermore, Kristin Dziczek a policy analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago adds, there are scores of new global EV competitors actively seeking to replace the legacy automakers. The “simplicity” of EVs in comparison with ICE vehicles allows these disruptors to compete virtually from scratch with legacy automakers, not only in the car market itself but for the material and labor inputs as well.

Batteries and the supply-chain challenge

Another critical question is whether all the planned battery-plant output will support expected EV production demands. For instance, the United States will require 8 million EV batteries annually by 2030 if its target to make EVs half of all new-vehicle sales is met, with that number rising each year after. As IEA executive director Fatih Birol observes, “Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realizing those ambitions.”

This mismatch worries automakers. GM, Ford, Tesla, and others have moved to secure batteries through 2025, but it could be tricky after that. Rivian Automotive chief executive RJ Scaringe was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that “90 to 95 percent of the (battery) supply chain does not exist,” and that the current semiconductor chip shortage is “a small appetizer to what we are about to feel on battery cells over the next two decades.”

The competition for securing raw materials, along with the increased consumer demand, has caused EV prices to spike. Ford has raised the price of the Lightning $6,000 to $8,500, and CEO Jim Farley bluntly states that in regard to material shortages in the foreseeable future, “I don’t think we should be confident in any other outcomes than an increase in prices.”

Stiff Competition for Engineering Talent


One critical area of resource competition is over the limited supply of software and systems engineers with the mechatronics and robotics expertise needed for EVs. Major automakers have moved aggressively to bring more software and systems-engineering expertise on board, rather than have it reside at their suppliers, as they have traditionally done. Automakers feel that if they're not in control of the software, they're not in control of their product.

Volvo’s CEO Jim Rowan stated earlier this year that increasing the computing power in EVs will be harder and more altering of the automotive industry than switching from ICE vehicles to EVs. This means that EV winners and losers will in great part be separated by their “relative strength in their cyberphysical systems engineering,” states Clemson’s Paredis.

Even for the large auto suppliers, the transition to EVs will not be an easy road. For instance, automakers are demanding these suppliers absorb more cost cuts because automakers are finding EVs so expensive to build. Not only do automakers want to bring cutting-edge software expertise in-house, they want greater inside expertise in critical EV supply-chain components, especially batteries.

Automakers, including Tesla, are all scrambling for battery talent, with bidding wars reportedly breaking out to acquire top candidates. With automakers planning to spend more than $13 billion to build at least 13 new EV battery plants in North America within the next five to seven years, experienced management and production-line talent will likely be in extremely short supply. Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory needs some 10,000 workers alone, for example. With at least 60 new battery plants planned to be in operation globally by 2030, and scores needed soon afterward, major battery makers are already highlighting their expected skill shortages.


The underlying reason for the worry: Supplying sufficient raw materials to existing and planned battery plants as well as to the manufacturers of other renewable energy sources and military systems—who are competing for the same materials—has several complications to overcome. Among them is the need for more mines to provide the metals required, which have spiked in price as demand has increased. For example, while demand for lithium is growing rapidly, investment in mines has significantly lagged the investment that has been aimed toward EVs and battery plants. It can take five or more years to get a lithium mine up and going, but operations can start only after it has secured the required permits, a process that itself can take years.

Mining the raw materials, of course, assumes that there is sufficient refining capability to process them, which, outside of China, is limited. This is especially true in the United States, which, according to a Biden Administration special supply-chain investigative report, has “limited raw material production capacity and virtually no processing capacity.” Consequently, the report states, the United States “exports the limited raw materials produced today to foreign markets.” For example, output from the only nickel mine in the United States, the Eagle mine in Minnesota, is sent to Canada for smelting.

“Energy and information are two basic currencies of organic and social systems. A new technology that alters the terms on which one or the other of these is available to a system can work on it the most profound changes.” —Herb Simon

One possible solution is to move away from lithium-ion batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries to other battery chemistries such as lithium-iron phosphate, lithium-ion phosphate, lithium-sulfur, lithium-metal, and sodium-ion, among many others, not to mention solid-state batteries, as a way to alleviate some of the material supply and cost problems. Tesla is moving toward the use of lithium-iron phosphate batteries, as is Ford for some of its vehicles. These batteries are cobalt free, which alleviates several sourcing issues.

Another solution may be recycling both EV batteries as well as the waste and rejects from battery manufacturing, which can run between 5 to 10 percent of production. Effective recycling of EV batteries “has the potential to reduce primary demand compared to total demand in 2040, by approximately 25 percent for lithium, 35 percent for cobalt and nickel, and 55 percent for copper,” according to a report by the University of Sidney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.



While investments into creating EV battery recycling facilities have started, there is a looming question of whether there will be enough battery factory scrap and other lithium-ion battery waste for them to remain operational while they wait for sufficient numbers of batteries to make them profitable. Lithium-ion battery-pack recycling is very time-consuming and expensive, making mining lithium often cheaper than recycling it, for example. Recycling low or no-cobalt lithium batteries, which is the direction many automakers are taking, may also make it unprofitable to recycle them.

An additional concern is that EV batteries, once no longer useful for propelling the EV, have years of life left in them. They can be refurbished, rebuilt, and reused in EVs, or repurposed into storage devices for homes, businesses, or the grid. Whether it will make economic sense to do either at scale versus recycling them remains to be seen.

Howard Nusbaum, the administrator of the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP), succinctly puts it, “There is no recycling, and no EV-recycling industry, if there is no economic basis for one.”

In the next article in the series, we will look at whether the grid can handle tens of millions of EVs.


Match ID: 49 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 5.71 china

Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?
Sat, 19 Nov 2022 16:00:01 +0000


Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

The fundamental technology that these companies rely on is not new: Electroencephalography (EEG) has been around for about a century, and it’s commonly used today in both medicine and neuroscience research. For those applications, the subject may have up to 256 electrodes attached to their scalp with conductive gel to record electrical signals from neurons in different parts of the brain. More electrodes, or “channels,” mean that doctors and scientists can get better spatial resolution in their readouts—they can better tell which neurons are associated with which electrical signals.

What is new is that EEG has recently broken out of clinics and labs and has entered the consumer marketplace. This move has been driven by a new class of “dry” electrodes that can operate without conductive gel, a substantial reduction in the number of electrodes necessary to collect useful data, and advances in artificial intelligence that make it far easier to interpret the data. Some EEG headsets are even available directly to consumers for a few hundred dollars.

While the public may not have gotten the memo, experts say the neurotechnology is mature and ready for commercial applications. “This is not sci-fi,” says James Giordano, chief of neuroethics studies at Georgetown University Medical Center. “This is quite real.”

How InnerEye’s TSA-boosting technology works

InnerEye Security Screening Demo youtu.be

In an office in Herzliya, Israel, Sergey Vaisman sits in front of a computer. He’s relaxed but focused, silent and unmoving, and not at all distracted by the seven-channel EEG headset he’s wearing. On the computer screen, images rapidly appear and disappear, one after another. At a rate of three images per second, it’s just possible to tell that they come from an airport X-ray scanner. It’s essentially impossible to see anything beyond fleeting impressions of ghostly bags and their contents.

“Our brain is an amazing machine,” Vaisman tells us as the stream of images ends. The screen now shows an album of selected X-ray images that were just flagged by Vaisman’s brain, most of which are now revealed to have hidden firearms. No one can knowingly identify and flag firearms among the jumbled contents of bags when three images are flitting by every second, but Vaisman’s brain has no problem doing so behind the scenes, with no action required on his part. The brain processes visual imagery very quickly. According to Vaisman, the decision-making process to determine whether there’s a gun in complex images like these takes just 300 milliseconds.

Brain data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier.

What takes much more time are the cognitive and motor processes that occur after the decision making—planning a response (such as saying something or pushing a button) and then executing that response. If you can skip these planning and execution phases and instead use EEG to directly access the output of the brain’s visual processing and decision-making systems, you can perform image-recognition tasks far faster. The user no longer has to actively think: For an expert, just that fleeting first impression is enough for their brain to make an accurate determination of what’s in the image.

An illustration of a person in front of screens with suitcases above it.  InnerEye’s image-classification system operates at high speed by providing a shortcut to the brain of an expert human. As an expert focuses on a continuous stream of images (from three to 10 images per second, depending on complexity), a commercial EEG system combined with InnerEye’s software can distinguish the characteristic response the expert’s brain produces when it recognizes a target. In this example, the target is a weapon in an X-ray image of a suitcase, representing an airport-security application.Chris Philpot

Vaisman is the vice president of R&D of InnerEye, an Israel-based startup that recently came out of stealth mode. InnerEye uses deep learning to classify EEG signals into responses that indicate “targets” and “nontargets.” Targets can be anything that a trained human brain can recognize. In addition to developing security screening, InnerEye has worked with doctors to detect tumors in medical images, with farmers to identify diseased plants, and with manufacturing experts to spot product defects. For simple cases, InnerEye has found that our brains can handle image recognition at rates of up to 10 images per second. And, Vaisman says, the company’s system produces results just as accurate as a human would when recognizing and tagging images manually—InnerEye is merely using EEG as a shortcut to that person’s brain to drastically speed up the process.

While using the InnerEye technology doesn’t require active decision making, it does require training and focus. Users must be experts at the task, well trained in identifying a given type of target, whether that’s firearms or tumors. They must also pay close attention to what they’re seeing—they can’t just zone out and let images flash past. InnerEye’s system measures focus very accurately, and if the user blinks or stops concentrating momentarily, the system detects it and shows the missed images again.

Can you spot the manufacturing defects?

Examine the sample images below, and then try to spot the target among the nontargets.

Ten images are displayed every second for five seconds on loop. There are three targets.

A pair of black and white images.  The left is labelled "non target" and the right is "target." there is a red circle around a black line on the right image.

A gif of a black and white static image

Can you spot the weapon?

Three images are displayed every second for five seconds on loop. There is one weapon.

A gif of x-rayed pieces of luggage. InnerEye

Having a human brain in the loop is especially important for classifying data that may be open to interpretation. For example, a well-trained image classifier may be able to determine with reasonable accuracy whether an X-ray image of a suitcase shows a gun, but if you want to determine whether that X-ray image shows something else that’s vaguely suspicious, you need human experience. People are capable of detecting something unusual even if they don’t know quite what it is.

“We can see that uncertainty in the brain waves,” says InnerEye founder and chief technology officer Amir Geva. “We know when they aren’t sure.” Humans have a unique ability to recognize and contextualize novelty, a substantial advantage that InnerEye’s system has over AI image classifiers. InnerEye then feeds that nuance back into its AI models. “When a human isn’t sure, we can teach AI systems to be not sure, which is better training than teaching the AI system just one or zero,” says Geva. “There is a need to combine human expertise with AI.” InnerEye’s system enables this combination, as every image can be classified by both computer vision and a human brain.

Using InnerEye’s system is a positive experience for its users, the company claims. “When we start working with new users, the first experience is a bit overwhelming,” Vaisman says. “But in one or two sessions, people get used to it, and they start to like it.” Geva says some users do find it challenging to maintain constant focus throughout a session, which lasts up to 20 minutes, but once they get used to working at three images per second, even two images per second feels “too slow.”

In a security-screening application, three images per second is approximately an order of magnitude faster than an expert can manually achieve. InnerEye says their system allows far fewer humans to handle far more data, with just two human experts redundantly overseeing 15 security scanners at once, supported by an AI image-recognition system that is being trained at the same time, using the output from the humans’ brains.

InnerEye is currently partnering with a handful of airports around the world on pilot projects. And it’s not the only company working to bring neurotech into the workplace.

How Emotiv’s brain-tracking technology works

Workers wearing earbuds sit in an office in front of computers. Emotiv’s MN8 earbuds collect two channels of EEG brain data. The earbuds can also be used for phone calls and music. Emotiv

When it comes to neural monitoring for productivity and well-being in the workplace, the San Francisco–based company Emotiv is leading the charge. Since its founding 11 years ago, Emotiv has released three models of lightweight brain-scanning headsets. Until now the company had mainly sold its hardware to neuroscientists, with a sideline business aimed at developers of brain-controlled apps or games. Emotiv started advertising its technology as an enterprise solution only this year, when it released its fourth model, the MN8 system, which tucks brain-scanning sensors into a pair of discreet Bluetooth earbuds.

Tan Le, Emotiv’s CEO and cofounder, sees neurotech as the next trend in wearables, a way for people to get objective “brain metrics” of mental states, enabling them to track and understand their cognitive and mental well-being. “I think it’s reasonable to imagine that five years from now this [brain tracking] will be quite ubiquitous,” she says. When a company uses the MN8 system, workers get insight into their individual levels of focus and stress, and managers get aggregated and anonymous data about their teams.

The Emotiv Experience

Illustration of head with an earpiece in.  With columns of data on either side. The Emotiv Experience Chris Philpot

Emotiv’s MN8 system uses earbuds to capture two channels of EEG data, from which the company’s proprietary algorithms derive performance metrics for attention and cognitive stress. It’s very difficult to draw conclusions from raw EEG signals [top], especially with only two channels of data. The MN8 system relies on machine-learning models that Emotiv developed using a decade’s worth of data from its earlier headsets, which have more electrodes.

To determine a worker’s level of attention and cognitive stress, the MN8 system uses a variety of analyses. One shown here [middle, bar graphs] reveals increased activity in the low-frequency ranges (theta and alpha) when a worker’s attention is high and cognitive stress is low; when the worker has low attention and high stress, there’s more activity in the higher-frequency ranges (beta and gamma). This analysis and many others feed into the models that present simplified metrics of attention and cognitive stress [bottom] to the worker.

Emotiv launched its enterprise technology into a world that is fiercely debating the future of the workplace. Workers are feuding with their employers about return-to-office plans following the pandemic, and companies are increasingly using “ bossware” to keep tabs on employees—whether staffers or gig workers, working in the office or remotely. Le says Emotiv is aware of these trends and is carefully considering which companies to work with as it debuts its new gear. “The dystopian potential of this technology is not lost on us,” she says. “So we are very cognizant of choosing partners that want to introduce this technology in a responsible way—they have to have a genuine desire to help and empower employees,” she says.

Lee Daniels, a consultant who works for the global real estate services company JLL, has spoken with a lot of C-suite executives lately. “They’re worried,” says Daniels. “There aren’t as many people coming back to the office as originally anticipated—the hybrid model is here to stay, and it’s highly complex.” Executives come to Daniels asking how to manage a hybrid workforce. “This is where the neuroscience comes in,” he says.

Emotiv has partnered with JLL, which has begun to use the MN8 earbuds to help its clients collect “true scientific data,” Daniels says, about workers’ attention, distraction, and stress, and how those factors influence both productivity and well-being. Daniels says JLL is currently helping its clients run short-term experiments using the MN8 system to track workers’ responses to new collaboration tools and various work settings; for example, employers could compare the productivity of in-office and remote workers.

“The dystopian potential of this technology is not lost on us.” —Tan Le, Emotiv CEO

Emotiv CTO Geoff Mackellar believes the new MN8 system will succeed because of its convenient and comfortable form factor: The multipurpose earbuds also let the user listen to music and answer phone calls. The downside of earbuds is that they provide only two channels of brain data. When the company first considered this project, Mackellar says, his engineering team looked at the rich data set they’d collected from Emotiv’s other headsets over the past decade. The company boasts that academics have conducted more than 4,000 studies using Emotiv tech. From that trove of data—from headsets with 5, 14, or 32 channels—Emotiv isolated the data from the two channels the earbuds could pick up. “Obviously, there’s less information in the two sensors, but we were able to extract quite a lot of things that were very relevant,” Mackellar says.

Once the Emotiv engineers had a hardware prototype, they had volunteers wear the earbuds and a 14-channel headset at the same time. By recording data from the two systems in unison, the engineers trained a machine-learning algorithm to identify the signatures of attention and cognitive stress from the relatively sparse MN8 data. The brain signals associated with attention and stress have been well studied, Mackellar says, and are relatively easy to track. Although everyday activities such as talking and moving around also register on EEG, the Emotiv software filters out those artifacts.

The app that’s paired with the MN8 earbuds doesn’t display raw EEG data. Instead, it processes that data and shows workers two simple metrics relating to their individual performance. One squiggly line shows the rise and fall of workers’ attention to their tasks—the degree of focus and the dips that come when they switch tasks or get distracted—while another line represents their cognitive stress. Although short periods of stress can be motivating, too much for too long can erode productivity and well-being. The MN8 system will therefore sometimes suggest that the worker take a break. Workers can run their own experiments to see what kind of break activity best restores their mood and focus—maybe taking a walk, or getting a cup of coffee, or chatting with a colleague.

What neuroethicists think about neurotech in the workplace

While MN8 users can easily access data from their own brains, employers don’t see individual workers’ brain data. Instead, they receive aggregated data to get a sense of a team or department’s attention and stress levels. With that data, companies can see, for example, on which days and at which times of day their workers are most productive, or how a big announcement affects the overall level of worker stress.

Emotiv emphasizes the importance of anonymizing the data to protect individual privacy and prevent people from being promoted or fired based on their brain metrics. “The data belongs to you,” says Emotiv’s Le. “You have to explicitly allow a copy of it to be shared anonymously with your employer.” If a group is too small for real anonymity, Le says, the system will not share that data with employers. She also predicts that the device will be used only if workers opt in, perhaps as part of an employee wellness program that offers discounts on medical insurance in return for using the MN8 system regularly.

However, workers may still be worried that employers will somehow use the data against them. Karen Rommelfanger, founder of the Institute of Neuroethics, shares that concern. “I think there is significant interest from employers” in using such technologies, she says. “I don’t know if there’s significant interest from employees.”

Both she and Georgetown’s Giordano doubt that such tools will become commonplace anytime soon. “I think there will be pushback” from employees on issues such as privacy and worker rights, says Giordano. Even if the technology providers and the companies that deploy the technology take a responsible approach, he expects questions to be raised about who owns the brain data and how it’s used. “Perceived threats must be addressed early and explicitly,” he says.

Giordano says he expects workers in the United States and other western countries to object to routine brain scanning. In China, he says, workers have reportedly been more receptive to experiments with such technologies. He also believes that brain-monitoring devices will really take off first in industrial settings, where a momentary lack of attention can lead to accidents that injure workers and hurt a company’s bottom line. “It will probably work very well under some rubric of occupational safety,” Giordano says. It’s easy to imagine such devices being used by companies involved in trucking, construction, warehouse operations, and the like. Indeed, at least one such product, an EEG headband that measures fatigue, is already on the market for truck drivers and miners.

Giordano says that using brain-tracking devices for safety and wellness programs could be a slippery slope in any workplace setting. Even if a company focuses initially on workers’ well-being, it may soon find other uses for the metrics of productivity and performance that devices like the MN8 provide. “Metrics are meaningless unless those metrics are standardized, and then they very quickly become comparative,” he says.

Rommelfanger adds that no one can foresee how workplace neurotech will play out. “I think most companies creating neurotechnology aren’t prepared for the society that they’re creating,” she says. “They don’t know the possibilities yet.”

This article appears in the December 2022 print issue.


Match ID: 50 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 5.71 china

China’s Moon Missions Shadow NASA Artemis’s Pace
Wed, 07 Sep 2022 16:56:57 +0000


This past weekend, NASA scrubbed the Artemis I uncrewed mission to the moon and back. Reportedly, the space agency will try again to launch the inaugural moon mission featuring the gargantuan Space Launch System (SLS) at the end of this month or sometime in October. Meanwhile, half a world away, China is progressing on its own step-by-step program to put both robotic and, eventually, crewed spacecraft on the lunar surface and keep pace with NASA-led achievements.

Asia’s rapidly growing space power has already made a number of impressive lunar leaps but will need to build on these in the coming years. Ambitious sample-return missions, landings at the lunar south pole, testing the ability to 3D print using materials from regolith, and finally sending astronauts on a short-term visit to our celestial neighbor are in the cards before the end of the decade.

The next step, expected around 2024, is Chang’e-6: an unprecedented attempt to collect rock samples from the far side of the moon.

The mission will build on two recent major space achievements. In 2019, China became the first country to safely land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, a hemisphere which cannot be seen from Earth—as the moon is tidally locked. The mission was made possible by a relay satellite out beyond the moon at Earth-moon Lagrange point 2, where it can bounce signals between Chang’e-4 and ground stations in China.

Chang’e-5 in 2020 performed the first sampling of lunar material in over four decades. The complex, four-spacecraft mission used an orbiter, lander, ascent vehicle, and return capsule to successfully deliver 1.731 grams of lunar rocks to Earth. The automated rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit of the orbiter and ascent spacecraft was also seen as a test of the technology for getting astronauts off the moon and back to Earth.

Chang’e-6 will again attempt to collect new samples, this time from the South pole-Aitken basin, a massive and ancient impact crater on the far side of the moon. The science return of such a mission could likewise be huge as its rocks have the potential to answer some significant questions about the moon’s geological past, says planetary scientist Katherine Joy of the University of Manchester, in England.

“We think that the basin-formation event was so large that the moon’s mantle could have been excavated from tens of kilometers deep,” says Joy. Fragments of this mantle material originating from deep in the moon would help us to understand how the Moon differentiated early in its history, the nature of its interior, and how volcanism on the far side of the moon is different or similar to that on the nearside.

Chang’e-7, also scheduled for 2024, will look at a different set of questions geared toward lunar resources. It will target the lunar south pole, a region where NASA’s Artemis 3 crewed mission is also looking to land.

The mission will involve a flotilla of spacecraft, including a new relay satellite, an orbiter, lander, rover and a small “hopping” spacecraft designed to inspect permanently shadowed craters which are thought to contain water ice which could be used in the future to provide breathable oxygen, rocket fuel, or drinking water to lunar explorers.

Following this Chang’e-8 is expected to launch around 2027 to test in situ resource utilization and conduct other experiments and technology tests such as oxygen extraction and 3D printing related to building a permanent lunar base—for both robots and crew—in the 2030s, named the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

The upcoming Chang’e-6, 7 and 8 missions are expected to launch on China’s largest current rocket, the Long March 5. But, as with NASA and Artemis, China will need its own megarockets to make human lunar exploration and ultimately, perhaps, crewed lunar bases a reality.

In part in reaction to the achievements of SpaceX, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s main space contractor, is developing a new rocket specifically for launching astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.

The “new generation crew launch vehicle” will essentially bundle three Long March 5 core stages together (which will be no mean feat of engineering) while also improving the performance of its kerosene engines. The result will be a roughly 90-meter-tall rocket resembling a Long March version of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, capable of sending 27 tonnes of payload into translunar injection.

Two launches of the rocket will by 2030, according to leading Chinese space officials, be able to put a pair of astronauts on the moon for a 6-hour stay. Such a mission also requires developing a lunar lander and a new spacecraft capable of keeping astronauts safe in deep space.

For building infrastructure on the moon, China is looking to the future Long March 9, an SLS-class rocket capable of sending 50 tonnes into translunar injection. The project will require CASC to make breakthroughs in a number of areas, including manufacturing new, wider rocket bodies of up to 10 meters in diameter, mastering massive, higher-thrust rocket engines, and building a new launch complex at Wenchang, Hainan island, to handle the monster.

Once again NASA is leading humanity’s journey to the moon, but China’s steady accumulation of capabilities and long-term ambitions means it will likely not be far behind.


Match ID: 51 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 81 days
qualifiers: 5.71 china

NASA’s Artemis I Revives the Moonshot
Sun, 28 Aug 2022 13:00:00 +0000



Update 5 Sept.: For now, NASA’s giant Artemis I remains on the ground after two launch attempts scrubbed by a hydrogen leak and a balky engine sensor. Mission managers say Artemis will fly when everything's ready—but haven't yet specified whether that might be in late September or in mid-October.

“When you look at the rocket, it looks almost retro,” said Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA. “Looks like we’re looking back toward the Saturn V. But it’s a totally different, new, highly sophisticated—more sophisticated—rocket, and spacecraft.”

Artemis, powered by the Space Launch System rocket, is America’s first attempt to send astronauts to the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972, and technology has taken giant leaps since then. On Artemis I, the first test flight, mission managers say they are taking the SLS, with its uncrewed Orion spacecraft up top, and “stressing it beyond what it is designed for”—the better to ensure safe flights when astronauts make their first landings, currently targeted to begin with Artemis III in 2025.

But Nelson is right: The rocket is retro in many ways, borrowing heavily from the space shuttles America flew for 30 years, and from the Apollo-Saturn V.

Much of Artemis’s hardware is refurbished: Its four main engines, and parts of its two strap-on boosters, all flew before on shuttle missions. The rocket’s apricot color comes from spray-on insulation much like the foam on the shuttle’s external tank. And the large maneuvering engine in Orion’s service module is actually 40 years old—used on 19 space shuttle flights between 1984 and 1992.

“I have a name for missions that use too much new technology—failures.”
—John Casani, NASA

Perhaps more important, the project inherits basic engineering from half a century of spaceflight. Just look at Orion’s crew capsule—a truncated cone, somewhat larger than the Apollo Command Module but conceptually very similar.

Old, of course, does not mean bad. NASA says there is no need to reinvent things engineers got right the first time.

“There are certain fundamental aspects of deep-space exploration that are really independent of money,” says Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle-integration manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The laws of physics haven’t changed since the 1960s. And capsule shapes happen to be really good for coming back into the atmosphere at Mach 32.”

Roger Launius, who served as NASA’s chief historian from 1990 to 2002 and as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution from then until 2017, tells of a conversation he had with John Casani, a veteran NASA engineer who managed the Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini probes to the outer planets.

“I have a name for missions that use too much new technology,” he recalls Casani saying. “Failures.”

The Artemis I flight is slated for about six weeks. (Apollo 11 lasted eight days.) The ship roughly follows Apollo’s path to the moon’s vicinity, but then puts itself in what NASA calls a distant retrograde orbit. It swoops within 110 kilometers of the lunar surface for a gravity assist, then heads 64,000 km out—taking more than a month but using less fuel than it would in closer orbits. Finally, it comes home, reentering the Earth’s atmosphere at 11 km per second, slowing itself with a heatshield and parachutes, and splashing down in the Pacific not far from San Diego.

If all four, quadruply redundant flight computer modules fail, there is a fifth, entirely separate computer onboard, running different code to get the spacecraft home.

“That extra time in space,” says Geffre, “allows us to operate the systems, give more time in deep space, and all those things that stress it, like radiation and micrometeoroids, thermal environments.”

There are, of course, newer technologies on board. Orion is controlled by two vehicle-management computers, each composed of two flight computer modules (FCMs) to handle guidance, navigation, propulsion, communications, and other systems. The flight control system, Geffre points out, is quad-redundant; if at any point one of the four FCMs disagrees with the others, it will take itself offline and, in a 22-second process, reset itself to make sure its outputs are consistent with the others’. If all four FCMs fail, there is a fifth, entirely separate computer running different code to get the spacecraft home.

Guidance and navigation, too, have advanced since the sextant used on Apollo. Orion uses a star tracker to determine its attitude, imaging stars and comparing them to an onboard database. And an optical navigation camera shoots Earth and the moon so that guidance software can determine their distance and position and keep the spacecraft on course. NASA says it’s there as backup, able to get Orion to a safe splashdown even if all communication with Earth has been lost.

But even those systems aren’t entirely new. Geffre points out that the guidance system’s architecture is derived from the Boeing 787. Computing power in deep space is limited by cosmic radiation, which can corrupt the output of microprocessors beyond the protection of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field.

Beyond that is the inevitable issue of cost. Artemis is a giant project, years behind schedule, started long before NASA began to buy other launches from companies like SpaceX and Rocket Lab. NASA’s inspector general, Paul Martin, testified to Congress in March that the first four Artemis missions would cost US $4.1 billion each—“a price tag that strikes us as unsustainable.”

Launius, for one, rejects the argument that government is inherently wasteful. “Yes, NASA’s had problems in managing programs in the past. Who hasn’t?” he says. He points out that Blue Origin and SpaceX have had plenty of setbacks of their own—they’re just not obliged to be public about them. “I could go on and on. It’s not a government thing per se and it’s not a NASA thing per se.”

So why return to the moon with—please forgive the pun—such a retro rocket? Partly, say those who watch Artemis closely, because it’s become too big to fail, with so much American money and brainpower invested in it. Partly because it turns NASA’s astronauts outward again, exploring instead of maintaining a space station. Partly because new perspectives could come of it. And partly because China and Russia have ambitions in space that threaten America’s.

“Apollo was a demonstration of technological verisimilitude—to the whole world,” says Launius. “And the whole world knew then, as they know today, that the future belongs to the civilization that can master science and technology.”

Update 7 Sept.: Artemis I has been on launchpad 39B, not 39A as previously reported, at Kennedy Space Center.


Match ID: 52 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 91 days
qualifiers: 5.71 china

As China’s Quantum-Encrypting Satellites Shrink, Their Networking Abilities Grow
Thu, 25 Aug 2022 18:37:07 +0000


The orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab has transmitted quantum-encryption keys to four ground stations, researchers reported on 18 August. The same network of ground stations is also able to receive quantum keys from the orbiting Micius satellite, which is in a much higher orbit, using the space station as a repeater. It comes just after the late July launch of Jinan 1, China’s second quantum-encrypting satellite, by the University of Science and Technology of China. USTC told the Xinhua News Agency that the new satellite is one-sixth the mass of its 2016 predecessor.

“The launch is significant,” says physicist Paul Kwiat of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, because it means the team are starting to build, not just plan, a quantum network. USTC researchers did not reply to IEEE Spectrum’s request for comments.

In quantum-key distribution (QKD), the quantum states of a single photon, such as polarization, encode and distribute random information that can be used to encrypt a classical message. Because it is impossible to copy the quantum state without changing it, senders and recipients can verify that their transmission got through without tampering or reading by third parties. In some scenarios it involves sending just one well-described photon at a time, but single photons are difficult to produce, and in this case, researchers used an attenuated laser to send small pulses that might also come out a couple of photons at a time, or not at all.

The USTC research team, led by Jian-Wei Pan, had already established quantum-key distribution from Micius to a single ground station in 2017, not long after the 2016 launch of the satellite. The work that Pan and colleagues reported this month, but which took place in 2018 and 2019, is a necessary step for building a constellation of quantum-encryption-compatible satellites across a range of orbits, to ensure more secure long-distance communications.

Several other research groups have transmitted quantum keys, and others are now building microsatellites for the same purpose. However, the U.S. National Security Agency’s site about QKD lists several technical limitations, such as requiring an initial verification of the counterparty’s identity, the need for special equipment, the cost, and the risk of hardware-based security vulnerabilities. In the absence of fixes, the NSA does not anticipate approving QKD for national security communications.

However, attenuated laser pulses are just one way of implementing QKD. Another is to use quantum entanglement, by which a pair of photons will behave the same way, even at a distance, when someone measures one of their quantum properties. In earlier experiments, Pan and colleagues also reported using quantum entanglement for QKD and mixing satellite and fiber-optic links to establish a mixed-modality QKD network spanning almost 5,000 kilometers.

“A quantum network with entangled nodes is the thing that would be really interesting, enabling distributed quantum computing and sensing, but that’s a hard thing to make. Being able to do QKD is a necessary but not sufficient first step,” Kwiat says. The USTC experiments are a chance to establish many technical abilities, such as the precise control of the pulse duration and direction of the lasers involved, or the ability to accurately transfer and measure the quantum signals to the standard necessary for a more complex quantum network.

That is a step ahead of the many other QKD efforts made so far on laboratory benchtops, over ground-to-ground cables, or aboard balloons or aircraft. “You have to do things very differently if you’re not allowed to fiddle with something once it’s launched into space,” Kwiat says.

The U.S. CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, signed on 9 August, allocated more than US $153 million a year for quantum computing and networks. While that’s unlikely to drive more American work toward an end goal of QKD, Kwiat says, “maybe we do it on the way to these more interesting applications.”


Match ID: 53 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 94 days
qualifiers: 5.71 china

U.N. Kills Any Plans to Use Mercury as a Rocket Propellant
Tue, 19 Apr 2022 18:00:01 +0000


A recent United Nations provision has banned the use of mercury in spacecraft propellant. Although no private company has actually used mercury propellant in a launched spacecraft, the possibility was alarming enough—and the dangers extreme enough—that the ban was enacted just a few years after one U.S.-based startup began toying with the idea. Had the company gone through with its intention to sell mercury propellant thrusters to some of the companies building massive satellite constellations over the coming decade, it would have resulted in Earth’s upper atmosphere being laced with mercury.

Mercury is a neurotoxin. It’s also bio-accumulative, which means it’s absorbed by the body at a faster rate than the body can remove it. The most common way to get mercury poisoning is through eating contaminated seafood. “It’s pretty nasty,” says Michael Bender, the international coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG). “Which is why this is one of the very few instances where the governments of the world came together pretty much unanimously and ratified a treaty.”

Bender is referring to the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury, a U.N. treaty named for a city in Japan whose residents suffered from mercury poisoning from a nearby chemical factory for decades. Because mercury pollutants easily find their way into the oceans and the atmosphere, it’s virtually impossible for one country to prevent mercury poisoning within its borders. “Mercury—it’s an intercontinental pollutant,” Bender says. “So it required a global treaty.”

Today, the only remaining permitted uses for mercury are in fluorescent lighting and dental amalgams, and even those are being phased out. Mercury is otherwise found as a by-product of other processes, such as the burning of coal. But then a company hit on the idea to use it as a spacecraft propellant.

In 2018, an employee at Apollo Fusion approached the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit that investigates environmental misconduct in the United States. The employee—who has remained anonymous—alleged that the Mountain View, Calif.–based space startup was planning to build and sell thrusters that used mercury propellant to multiple companies building low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations.

Four industry insiders ultimately confirmed that Apollo Fusion was building thrusters that utilized mercury propellant. Apollo Fusion, which was acquired by rocket manufacturing startup Astra in June 2021, insisted that the composition of its propellant mixture should be considered confidential information. The company withdrew its plans for a mercury propellant in April 2021. Astra declined to respond to a request for comment for this story.

Apollo Fusion wasn’t the first to consider using mercury as a propellant. NASA originally tested it in the 1960s and 1970s with two Space Electric Propulsion Tests (SERT), one of which was sent into orbit in 1970. Although the tests demonstrated mercury’s effectiveness as a propellant, the same concerns over the element’s toxicity that have seen it banned in many other industries halted its use by the space agency as well.

“I think it just sort of fell off a lot of folks’ radars,” says Kevin Bell, the staff counsel for PEER. “And then somebody just resurrected the research on it and said, ‘Hey, other than the environmental impact, this was a pretty good idea.’ It would give you a competitive advantage in what I imagine is a pretty tight, competitive market.”

That’s presumably why Apollo Fusion was keen on using it in their thrusters. Apollo Fusion as a startup emerged more or less simultaneously with the rise of massive LEO constellations that use hundreds or thousands of satellites in orbits below 2,000 kilometers to provide continual low-latency coverage. Finding a slightly cheaper, more efficient propellant for one large geostationary satellite doesn’t move the needle much. But doing the same for thousands of satellites that need to be replaced every several years? That’s a much more noticeable discount.

Were it not for mercury’s extreme toxicity, it would actually make an extremely attractive propellant. Apollo Fusion wanted to use a type of ion thruster called a Hall-effect thruster. Ion thrusters strip electrons from the atoms that make up a liquid or gaseous propellant, and then an electric field pushes the resultant ions away from the spacecraft, generating a modest thrust in the opposite direction. The physics of rocket engines means that the performance of these engines increases with the mass of the ion that you can accelerate.

Mercury is heavier than either xenon or krypton, the most commonly used propellants, meaning more thrust per expelled ion. It’s also liquid at room temperature, making it efficient to store and use. And it’s cheap—there’s not a lot of competition with anyone looking to buy mercury.

Bender says that ZMWG, alongside PEER, caught wind of Apollo Fusion marketing its mercury-based thrusters to at least three companies deploying LEO constellations—One Web, Planet Labs, and SpaceX. Planet Labs, an Earth-imaging company, has at least 200 CubeSats in low Earth orbit. One Web and SpaceX, both wireless-communication providers, have many more. One Web plans to have nearly 650 satellites in orbit by the end of 2022. SpaceX already has nearly 1,500 active satellites aloft in its Starlink constellation, with an eye toward deploying as many as 30,000 satellites before its constellation is complete. Other constellations, like Amazon’s Kuiper constellation, are also planning to deploy thousands of satellites.

In 2019, a group of researchers in Italy and the United States estimated how much of the mercury used in spacecraft propellant might find its way back into Earth’s atmosphere. They figured that a hypothetical LEO constellation of 2,000 satellites, each carrying 100 kilograms of propellant, would emit 20 tonnes of mercury every year over the course of a 10-year life span. Three quarters of that mercury, the researchers suggested, would eventually wind up in the oceans.

That amounts to 1 percent of global mercury emissions from a constellation only a fraction of the size of the one planned by SpaceX alone. And if multiple constellations adopted the technology, they would represent a significant percentage of global mercury emissions—especially, the researchers warned, as other uses of mercury are phased out as planned in the years ahead.

Fortunately, it’s unlikely that any mercury propellant thrusters will even get off the ground. Prior to the fourth meeting of the Minamata Convention, Canada, the European Union, and Norway highlighted the dangers of mercury propellant, alongside ZMWG. The provision to ban mercury usage in satellites was passed on 26 March 2022.

The question now is enforcement. “Obviously, there aren’t any U.N. peacekeepers going into space to shoot down” mercury-based satellites, says Bell. But the 137 countries, including the United States, who are party to the convention have pledged to adhere to its provisions—including the propellant ban.

The United States is notable in that list because as Bender explains, it did not ratify the Minamata Convention via the U.S. Senate but instead deposited with the U.N. an instrument of acceptance. In a 7 November 2013 statement (about one month after the original Minamata Convention was adopted), the U.S. State Department said the country would be able to fulfill its obligations “under existing legislative and regulatory authority.”

Bender says the difference is “weedy” but that this appears to mean that the U.S. government has agreed to adhere to the Minamata Convention’s provisions because it already has similar laws on the books. Except there is still no existing U.S. law or regulation banning mercury propellant. For Bender, that creates some uncertainty around compliance when the provision goes into force in 2025.

Still, with a U.S. company being the first startup to toy with mercury propellant, it might be ideal to have a stronger U.S. ratification of the Minamata Convention before another company hits on the same idea. “There will always be market incentives to cut corners and do something more dangerously,” Bell says.

Update 19 April 2022: In an email, a spokesperson for Astra stated that the company's propulsion system, the Astra Spacecraft Engine, does not use mercury. The spokesperson also stated that Astra has no plans to use mercury propellant and that the company does not have anything in orbit that uses mercury.

Updated 20 April 2022 to clarify that Apollo Fusion was building thrusters that used mercury, not that they had actually used them.


Match ID: 54 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 222 days
qualifiers: 5.71 japan

Meet the Lunar Gateway’s Robot Caretakers
Thu, 07 Apr 2022 18:40:09 +0000


An integral part of NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon this decade is the Lunar Gateway, a space station that will be humanity’s first permanent outpost outside of low Earth orbit. Gateway, a partnership between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is intended to support operations on the lunar surface while also serving as a staging point for exploration to Mars.

Gateway will be significantly smaller than the International Space Station (ISS), initially consisting of just two modules with additional modules to be added over time. The first pieces of the station to reach lunar orbit will be the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) attached to the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), scheduled to launch together on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in November 2024. The relatively small size of Gateway is possible because the station won’t be crewed most of the time—astronauts may pass through for a few weeks, but the expectation is that Gateway will spend about 11 months out of the year without anyone on board.


This presents some unique challenges for Gateway. On the ISS, astronauts spend a substantial amount of time on station upkeep, but Gateway will have to keep itself functional for extended periods without any direct human assistance.

“The things that the crew does on the International Space Station will need to be handled by Gateway on its own,” explains Julia Badger, Gateway autonomy system manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “There’s also a big difference in the operational paradigm. Right now, ISS has a mission control that’s full time. With Gateway, we’re eventually expecting to have just 8 hours a week of ground operations.” The hundreds of commands that the ISS receives every day to keep it running will still be necessary on Gateway—they’ll just have to come from Gateway itself, rather than from humans back on Earth.

“It’s a new way of thinking compared to ISS. If something breaks on Gateway, we either have to be able to live with it for a certain amount of time, or we’ve got to have the ability to remotely or autonomously fix it.” —Julia Badger, NASA JSC

To make this happen, NASA is developing a vehicle system manager, or VSM, that will act like the omnipresent computer system found on virtually every science-fiction starship. The VSM will autonomously manage all of Gateway’s functionality, taking care of any problems that come up, to the extent that they can be managed with clever software and occasional input from a distant human. “It’s a new way of thinking compared to ISS,” explains Badger. “If something breaks on Gateway, we either have to be able to live with it for a certain amount of time, or we’ve got to have the ability to remotely or autonomously fix it.”

While Gateway itself can be thought of as a robot of sorts, there’s a limited amount that can be reasonably and efficiently done through dedicated automated systems, and NASA had to find a compromise between redundancy and both complexity and mass. For example, there was some discussion about whether Gateway’s hatches should open and close on their own, and NASA ultimately decided to leave the hatches manually operated. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Gateway won’t be able to open its hatches without human assistance; it just means that there will be a need for robotic hands rather than human ones.

“I hope eventually we have robots up there that can open the hatches,” Badger tells us. She explains that Gateway is being designed with potential intravehicular robots (IVRs) in mind, including things like adding visual markers to important locations, placing convenient charging ports around the station interior, and designing the hatches such that the force required to open them is compatible with the capabilities of robotic limbs. Parts of Gateway’s systems may be modular as well, able to be removed and replaced by robots if necessary. “What we’re trying to do,” Badger says, “is make smart choices about Gateway’s design that don’t add a lot of mass but that will make it easier for a robot to work within the station.”

A human-sized white humanoid robot with a golden helmet and visor, in front of a task board on the International Space Station Robonaut at its test station in front of a manipulation task board on the ISS.JSC/NASA

NASA already has a substantial amount of experience with IVR. Robonaut 2, a full-size humanoid robot, spent several years on the International Space Station starting in 2011, learning how to perform tasks that would otherwise have to be done by human astronauts. More recently, a trio of cubical, toaster-size, free-flying robots called Astrobees have taken up residence on the ISS, where they’ve been experimenting with autonomous sensing and navigation. A NASA project called ISAAC (Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking) is currently exploring how robots like Astrobee could be used for a variety of tasks on Gateway, from monitoring station health to autonomously transferring cargo, although at least in the near term, in Badger’s opinion, “maintenance of Gateway, like using robots that can switch out broken components, is going to be more important than logistics types of tasks.”

Badger believes that a combination of a generalized mobile manipulator like Robonaut 2 and a free flyer like Astrobee make for a good team, and this combination is currently the general concept for Gateway IVR. This is not to say that the intravehicular robots that end up on Gateway will look like the robots that have been working on the ISS, but they’ll be inspired by them, and will leverage all of the experience that NASA has gained with its robots on ISS so far. It might also be useful to have a limited number of specialized robots, Badger says. “For example, if there was a reason to get behind a rack, you may want a snake-type of robot for that.”

A casually dressed astronaut holds a toaster-sized cubical robot on the International Space Station An Astrobee robot (this one is named Bumble) on the ISS.JSC/NASA

While NASA is actively preparing for intravehicular robots on Gateway, such robots do not yet exist, and the agency may not be building these robots itself, instead relying on industry partners to deliver designs that meet NASA’s requirements. At launch, and likely for the first several years at least, Gateway will have to take care of itself without internal robotic assistants. However, one of the goals of Gateway is to operate itself completely autonomously for up to three weeks without any contact with Earth at all, mimicking the three-week solar conjunction between Earth and Mars where the sun blocks any communications between the two planets. “I think that we will get IVR on board,” Badger says. “If we really want Gateway to be able to take care of itself for 21 days, IVR is going to be a very important part of that. And having a robot is absolutely something that I think is going to be necessary as we move on to Mars.”

“Having a robot is absolutely something that I think is going to be necessary as we move on to Mars.” —Julia Badger, NASA JSC

Intravehicular robots are just half of the robotic team that will be necessary to keep Gateway running autonomously long-term. Space stations rely on complex external infrastructure for power, propulsion, thermal control, and much more. Since 2001, the ISS has been home to Canadarm2, a 17.6-meter robotic arm, which is able to move around the station to grasp and manipulate objects while under human control from either inside the station or from the ground.

The Canadian Space Agency, in partnership with space technology company MDA, is developing a new robotic-arm system for Gateway, called Canadarm3, scheduled to launch in 2027. Canadarm3 will include an 8.5-meter-long arm for grappling spacecraft and moving large objects, as well as a smaller, more dexterous robotic arm that can be used for delicate tasks. The smaller arm can even repair the larger arm if necessary. But what really sets Canadarm3 apart from its predecessors is how it’s controlled, according to Daniel Rey, Gateway chief engineer and systems manager at CSA. “One of the very novel things about Canadarm3 is its ability to operate autonomously, without any crew required,” Rey says. This capability relies on a new generation of software and hardware that gives the arm a sense of touch as well as the ability to react to its environment without direct human supervision.

“With Canadarm3, we realize that if we want to get ready for Mars, more autonomy will be required.” —Daniel Rey, CSA

Even though Gateway will be a thousand times farther away from Earth than the ISS, Rey explains that the added distance (about 400,000 kilometers) isn’t what really necessitates Canadarm3’s added autonomy. “Surprisingly, the location of Gateway in its orbit around the moon has a time delay to Earth that is not all that different from the time delay in low Earth orbit when you factor in various ground stations that signals have to pass through,” says Rey. “With Canadarm3, we realize that if we want to get ready for Mars, where that will no longer be the case, more autonomy will be required.”

Canadarm3’s autonomous tasks on Gateway will include external inspection, unloading logistics vehicles, deploying science payloads, and repairing Gateway by swapping damaged components with spares. Rey tells us that there will also be a science logistics airlock, with a moving table that can be used to pass equipment in and out of Gateway. “It’ll be possible to deploy external science, or to bring external systems inside for repair, and for future internal robotic systems to cooperate with Canadarm3. I think that’ll be a really exciting thing to see.”

Even though it’s going to take a couple of extra years for Gateway’s robotic residents to arrive, the station will be operating mostly autonomously (by necessity) as soon as the Power and Propulsion Element and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost begin their journey to lunar orbit in November o2024. Several science payloads will be along for the ride, including heliophysics and space weather experiments.

Gateway itself, though, is arguably the most important experiment of all. Its autonomous systems, whether embodied in internal and external robots or not, will be undergoing continual testing, and Gateway will need to prove itself before we’re ready to trust its technology to take us into deep space. In addition to being able to operate for 21 days without communications, one of Gateway’s eventual requirements is to be able to function for up to three years without any crew visits. This is the level of autonomy and reliability that we’ll need to be prepared for our exploration of Mars, and beyond.


Match ID: 55 Score: 5.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 234 days
qualifiers: 5.71 japan

US blogger’s killers escape on motorbikes from Bangladeshi court
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 12:33:45 GMT

Men on death row for murder of secular writer snatched by bikers who sprayed police with chemical

Two Islamist militants who were on death row in Bangladesh for the killing of a US blogger critical of fundamentalist Islam have made a dramatic escape on motorbikes while being escorted to a court hearing in the capital, Dhaka.

The two men were among those convicted of the murder of Avijit Roy, an American-Bangladeshi writer and blogger who was hacked to death with machetes in the streets of Dhaka in 2015.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 56 Score: 4.29 source: www.theguardian.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 4.29 bangladesh

Filter efficiency 92.597 (57 matches/770 results)


********** SPACE **********
return to top



Woman dying of lung disease ‘caused by mould’ urges action on rogue landlords
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 05:00:15 GMT

Tenant, who is suing landlord in test case, calls on UK government to back renters in claiming damages

A woman with potentially terminal lung disease who claims it was due to being exposed to mould in her rented home has demanded the government empowers victims to take rogue landlords to court and “hit them in the wallet”.

The woman, who is in her 50s, said she may have as little as 18 months to live. A medical expert she engaged in a legal action against her landlord believes her illness was likely triggered by moulds within her home caused by disrepair. She now requires constant oxygen via mask or nasal catheter and is on the waiting list for a lung transplant.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 0 Score: 65.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa

Moon Microscope, Solar Arrays Launch on NASA’s SpaceX Cargo Ship
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 14:15 EST
SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission for NASA is on its way to the International Space Station.
Match ID: 1 Score: 65.00 source: www.nasa.gov age: 1 day
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa

The State of the Transistor in 3 Charts
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 16:00:01 +0000


The most obvious change in transistor technology in the last 75 years has been just how many we can make. Reducing the size of the device has been a titanic effort and a fantastically successful one, as these charts show. But size isn’t the only feature engineers have been improving.


In 1947, there was only one transistor. According to TechInsight’s forecast, the semiconductor industry is on track to produce almost 2 billion trillion (1021) devices this year. That’s more transistors than were cumulatively made in all the years prior to 2017. Behind that barely conceivable number is the continued reduction in the price of a transistor, as engineers have learned to integrate more and more of them into the same area of silicon.


Scaling down transistors in the 2D space of the plane of the silicon has been a smashing success: Transistor density in logic circuits has increased more than 600,000-fold since 1971. Reducing transistor size requires using shorter wavelengths of light, such as extreme ultraviolet, and other lithography tricks to shrink the space between transistor gates and between metal interconnects. Going forward, it’s the third dimension, where transistors will be built atop one another, that counts. This trend is more than a decade old in flash memory, but it’s still in the future for logic (see “Taking Moore’s Law to New Heights.”)


Perhaps the crowning achievement of all this effort is the ability to integrate millions, even billions, of transistors into some of the most complex systems on the planet: CPUs. Here’s a look at some of the high points along the way.

What Transistors Have Become


Besides making them tiny and numerous, engineers have devoted their efforts to enhancing the device’s other qualities. Here is a small sampling of what transistors have become in the last 75 years:


Icon of a series of circles.

Ephemeral:

Researchers in Illinois developed circuits that dissolve in the body using a combination of ultrathin silicon membranes, magnesium conductors, and magnesium oxide insulators. Five minutes in water was enough to turn the first generation to mush. But recently researchers used a more durable version to make temporary cardiac pacemakers that release an anti-inflammatory drug as they disappear.


An icon of lightning bolt over a circle.

Fast:

The first transistor was made for radio frequencies, but there are now devices that operate at about a billion times those frequencies. Engineers in South Korea and Japan reported the invention of an indium gallium arsenide high-electron mobility transistor, or HEMT, that reached a maximum frequency of 738 gigahertz. Seeking raw speed, engineers at Northrop Grumman made a HEMT that passed 1 terahertz.



An icon of an iron with a line underneath.

Flat:

Today’s (and yesterday’s) transistors depend on the semiconducting properties of bulk (3D) materials. Tomorrow’s devices might rely on 2D semiconductors, such as molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide. These transistors might be built in the interconnect layers above a processor’s silicon, researchers say. So 2D semiconductors could help lead to 3D processors.


An icon of a circle with a series of lines on it

Flexible:

The world is not flat, and neither are the places transistors need to operate. Using indium gallium arsenide, engineers in South Korea recently made high-performance logic transistors on plastic that hardly suffered when bent around a radius of just 4 millimeters. And engineers in Illinois and England have made microcontrollers that are both affordable and bendable.



Icon of a eye with a question mark in the center.

Invisible:

When you need to hide your computing in plain sight, turn to transparent transistors. Researchers in Fuzhou, China, recently made a see-through analogue of flash memory using organic semiconductor thin-film transistors. And researchers in Japan and Malaysia produced transparent diamond devices capable of handling more than 1,000 volts.


Icon of a brain made out of square icons

Mnemonic:

NAND flash memory cells can store multiple bits in a single device. Those on the market today store either 3 or 4 bits each. Researchers at Kioxia Corp. built a modified NAND flash cell and dunked it in 77-kelvin liquid nitrogen. A single superchilled transistor could store up to 7 bits of data, or 128 different values.



Icon of a circle with a star inside.

Talented:

In 2018, engineers in Canada used an algorithm to generate all the possible unique and functional elementary circuits that can be made using just two metal-oxide field-effect transistors. The number of circuits totaled an astounding 582. Increasing the scope to three transistors netted 56,280 circuits, including several amplifiers previously unknown to engineering.


Icon of a shield

Tough:

Some transistors can take otherworldly punishment. NASA Glenn Research Center built 200-transistor silicon carbide ICs and operated them for 60 days in a chamber that simulates the environment on the surface of Venus—460 °C heat, a planetary-probe-crushing 9.3 megapascals of pressure, and the hellish planet’s corrosive atmosphere.

This article appears in the December 2022 print issue as “The State of the Transistor.”


Match ID: 2 Score: 65.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 1 day
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa

NASA to Share Artemis I Update with Orion at Farthest Point from Earth
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 17:08 EST
NASA will host a news conference at 5 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 28, from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss the status of the uncrewed Artemis I flight test as the Orion spacecraft reaches the mid-point of its Moon mission and its farthest distance from Earth at nearly 270,000 miles away.
Match ID: 3 Score: 65.00 source: www.nasa.gov age: 2 days
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa

No sign of the expected lake bed where Perseverance rover landed
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 19:54:30 +0000
Minerals that normally get altered in watery environments are still present.
Match ID: 4 Score: 64.29 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa, 17.86 mit

We now know why black hole jets make high-energy radiation
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 18:12:16 +0000
New data decisively favors shockwave-generated radiation in the jets.
Match ID: 5 Score: 64.29 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa, 17.86 mit

The long, tangled journey of a European rover to Mars takes another twist
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 16:59:09 +0000
"I am very glad to say that we have found a positive way forward."
Match ID: 6 Score: 46.43 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa

NASA Awards Launch Services Task Order for TROPICS CubeSats Mission
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 08:35 EST
NASA has selected Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California, to provide the launch service for the agency’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission, as part of the agency's Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract.
Match ID: 7 Score: 46.43 source: www.nasa.gov age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa

NASA Updates Coverage for Next SpaceX Resupply Launch to Space Station
Tue, 22 Nov 2022 17:24 EST
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 2:20 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 26, to launch the company’s 26th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.
Match ID: 8 Score: 37.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 5 days
qualifiers: 37.14 nasa

NASA Invites Public Comment on Plans for Mars Sample Return Campaign
Tue, 22 Nov 2022 11:31 EST
NASA is seeking public comments on a draft environmental impact statement for the agency’s Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign. Comments are due by Monday, Dec. 19.
Match ID: 9 Score: 37.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 5 days
qualifiers: 37.14 nasa

NASA Awards Contract for NASA Financial Support Services
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 15:33 EST
NASA has awarded the NASA Financial Support Services (NFSS) contract to MM Technologies LLC (MMT) of Huntsville, Alabama, to provide financial support and related services...
Match ID: 10 Score: 27.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

CAPSTONE Forges New Path for NASA’s Future Artemis Moon Missions
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 12:39 EST
NASA's CAPSTONE spacecraft has completed final maneuvers to place it in its target orbit around the Moon, refining its path in the orbit it arrived to last week.
Match ID: 11 Score: 27.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/21/2022
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 16:00:30 +0000
Payloads: Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Media Take Part 2: Using a JAXA camcorder, the crew participated in a live interview and recorded a session to discuss several subjects. The JAXA Public Relations Activity (JAXA EPO) includes conducting cultural activities such as writing reports about and filming video of activities aboard the ISS. These tools …
Match ID: 12 Score: 27.86 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

NASA to Share Orion Update Today After Spacecraft Flies by Moon
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 09:49 EST
NASA will host a news conference at 5 p.m. EST today, Monday, Nov. 21, from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss Orion’s lunar flyby as part of the Artemis I mission.
Match ID: 13 Score: 27.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

Nasa's Artemis spacecraft arrives at the Moon
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 12:48:08 GMT
Nasa's Orion capsule sweeps past the Moon before entering into a larger orbit.
Match ID: 14 Score: 27.86 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

FCC bans import, sale of certain Chinese tech over ‘unacceptable risk to national security’
2022-11-28T05:33:00+00:00
FCC bans import, sale of certain Chinese tech over ‘unacceptable risk to national security’ submitted by /u/TurretLauncher
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 15 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Defence training pushed recruits beyond their limits with fatal outcomes, ex-soldier tells inquiry
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 05:29:24 GMT

‘Every year there was a suicide,’ James Geercke says on first day of royal commission hearings in Wagga Wagga

A former soldier says he and fellow Australian Defence Force Academy recruits were so traumatised by their extreme training regime they began hallucinating and some became suicidal.

James Geercke joined the academy in 2008 as an 18-year-old. On Monday, he told the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide that recruits were routinely pushed to their limits.

Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for support. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

Continue reading...
Match ID: 16 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Cartoon Caption Contest
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 05:05:00 +0000
Submit your caption.
Match ID: 17 Score: 25.00 source: www.newyorker.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Carolyn Hax: Telling mother-in-law her scented products make me sick
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:00:00 EST
Pregnancy made her "vomitty" around her mother-in-law's scented products. How can she tell her?
Match ID: 18 Score: 25.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Mark Cuban-backed streaming app Fireside acquires Stremium to bring live, interactive shows to your TV
2022-11-28T04:40:37+00:00
Mark Cuban-backed streaming app Fireside acquires Stremium to bring live, interactive shows to your TV submitted by /u/A-Dog22
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 19 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

#MyTechFrenemy : Bootcamp MyTechBestFriend faces allegations of hostility, bullying, and harassment of its students
2022-11-28T03:57:47+00:00
#MyTechFrenemy : Bootcamp MyTechBestFriend faces allegations of hostility, bullying, and harassment of its students submitted by /u/CaptainWumbology
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 20 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Bob Dylan apologises for using a machine to autograph ‘hand-signed’ books
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 03:26:48 GMT

Musician admits he used an autopen to sign books and artworks due to his vertigo, after fans compared signatures and discovered they were identical

Bob Dylan has issued a rare public statement to apologise for his “error in judgment”, amid controversy over his use of a machine to autograph special copies of his new book that had been advertised as “hand-signed”.

The book, The Philosophy of Modern Song, features the legendary singer-songwriter’s commentary on tracks by other artists and was released in early November, with a limited run of 900 “hand-signed” editions sold for US$599 each. All copies came with a letter of authenticity from publisher Simon & Schuster.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 21 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Twitter grapples with Chinese spam obscuring news of protests | For hours, links to adult content overwhelmed other posts from cities where dramatic rallies escalated
2022-11-28T03:19:01+00:00
Twitter grapples with Chinese spam obscuring news of protests | For hours, links to adult content overwhelmed other posts from cities where dramatic rallies escalated submitted by /u/MortWellian
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 22 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Google pushes emergency Chrome update to fix 8th zero-day in 2022
2022-11-28T02:16:28+00:00
Google pushes emergency Chrome update to fix 8th zero-day in 2022 submitted by /u/GroundbreakingGur930
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 23 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Google currently thinks all plants are algae
2022-11-28T02:14:12+00:00
Google currently thinks all plants are algae submitted by /u/ayellowsky
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 24 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

How a CoinDesk scoop led to the fall of Sam Bankman-Fried and implosion of FTX
2022-11-28T01:37:18+00:00
How a CoinDesk scoop led to the fall of Sam Bankman-Fried and implosion of FTX submitted by /u/redhatGizmo
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 25 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Scottish football to ban heading the day before and after matches
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:06:31 GMT
Professional clubs told to limit training exercises with repetitive heading to one session per week.
Match ID: 26 Score: 25.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Lack of support denting prospects for UK computer chip sector, say MPs
Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:01:09 GMT

Call for semiconductor industry plan to be published urgently to help keep Britain in global supply chain

The UK is missing out on a wave of investment and falling behind other countries in the fast-growing semiconductor industry because of a lack of support from the government, MPs have warned.

The government should urgently publish a long-delayed semiconductor strategy, and also look to create partnerships with allies to try to ensure the UK remains part of the semiconductor supply chain, according to a report published on Monday by MPs on parliament’s business committee.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 27 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Wales need ‘performance of our lives’ to save World Cup hopes, admits Joe Allen
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 22:57:02 GMT
  • Wales must beat England to have any chance of progress
  • Allen backs ‘big-game players’ Bale and Ramsey after criticism

Joe Allen has said Wales require the “performance of our lives” to beat England for the first time since 1984 and keep alive their hopes of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup. The midfielder admitted the Wales squad are hurting after poor displays against the USA and Iran left them with one point from two games.

Wales must beat England and hope Iran and the USA draw, or beat England by a four-goal margin, to qualify for the knockout stages. “Everyone is hurting because of the situation we find ourselves in,” Allen said. “Our focus now moves on to getting on the training pitch, putting in the work and preparing for the performance of our lives against England.”

Continue reading...
Match ID: 28 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Infinite Conversation: live endless AI bot chat between simulations of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek and German director Werner Herzog with realistic voices
2022-11-27T22:31:16+00:00
Infinite Conversation: live endless AI bot chat between simulations of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek and German director Werner Herzog with realistic voices submitted by /u/sataky
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 29 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Foxconn offers staff US$1,400 to leave after iPhone city violence
2022-11-27T22:29:41+00:00
submitted by /u/Der_Missionar
[link] [comments]
Match ID: 30 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

MIT Engineers Design Self-Building Robots That Can Grow Into Bigger Machines
2022-11-27T22:26:18+00:00
MIT Engineers Design Self-Building Robots That Can Grow Into Bigger Machines submitted by /u/Test19s
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 31 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Miami nightclub owners are struggling with slumping sales after losing top-spending crypto clientele in wake of FTX implosion and crypto downfall, report says
2022-11-27T20:44:20+00:00
submitted by /u/XXmynameisNeganXX
[link] [comments]
Match ID: 32 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Smartphone addiction linked with lower cognitive abilities, less self-control, and worse psychological well-being
2022-11-27T19:52:52+00:00
Smartphone addiction linked with lower cognitive abilities, less self-control, and worse psychological well-being submitted by /u/SetMau92
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 33 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

5.4 million Twitter users' stolen data leaked online — more shared privately
2022-11-27T19:39:38+00:00
5.4 million Twitter users' stolen data leaked online — more shared privately submitted by /u/MortWellian
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 34 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The DOJ is reportedly investigating rent-setting software company RealPage
2022-11-27T19:01:54+00:00
The DOJ is reportedly investigating rent-setting software company RealPage submitted by /u/nacorom
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 35 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Republican says Trump ‘empowering’ extremists by having dinner with white supremacist
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 18:32:36 GMT

‘It’s very troubling,’ says Arkansas governor who condemned Trump’s meeting with anti-semite Nick Fuentes

The Republican governor of Arkansas on Sunday joined a chorus of criticism of Donald Trump for having dinner with American white supremacist and anti-semite Nick Fuentes, accusing the former US president of effectively “empowering” such extremists.

“It’s very troubling and it should not happen,” Asa Hutchinson told CNN’s State of the Union show on Sunday morning, becoming the most senior Republican politician to condemn the meeting.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 36 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The Guardian view on Modi’s India: the danger of exporting Hindu chauvinism | Editorial
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 18:08:03 GMT

New Delhi’s foreign policy won’t be insulated from its domestic politics, which demonise India’s 200 million Muslims

When the US state department recently told a court that the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, should have immunity in a lawsuit over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it portrayed its argument as a legal and not moral position. By way of evidence, it pointed to a rogues’ gallery of foreign leaders previously afforded similar protection. Nestling between Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who, it was claimed, assassinated political rivals, and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, whose security detail was accused of assaulting protesters in Washington, was India’s Narendra Modi.

Dropping Mr Modi into such a list was no accident. It is a reminder that while New Delhi basks in its diplomatic success at recent G20 and Cop27 summits, it might find the international environment less accommodating if Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) continue to stir up hatred to win elections. Washington’s gesture suggests that its strategic partnership with India cannot be completely insulated from domestic political issues. Mr Modi’s failure, as chief minister of Gujarat, to prevent anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that left hundreds dead saw him denied a US visa, until he became Indian prime minister. The message from Foggy Bottom was that the ban had not been withdrawn, but suspended, because Mr Modi ran a country that Washington wanted to do business with.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 37 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The Guardian view on bearing witness: when the mourners too are gone | Editorial
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 18:07:05 GMT

The death of a leader of Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo raises the question of how we can continue to remember

“We conquer death, dear children,” proclaimed Hebe de Bonafini, leader of Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. She devoted decades to ensuring that her sons, “disappeared” by the military junta in the late 1970s, were kept alive, if only in memory. The Mothers at first demanded the return of their children and then the punishment of those responsible for seizing and killing them. The risks they took were immense: the group’s founders were abducted and thrown into the ocean from “death flights”. But as politicians, the church and almost all of the media remained silent, these working-class housewives stood strong and confronted a brutal regime.

Now Mrs Bonafini too is gone. With her death, at 93, the group has dwindled further, though old companions marched in homage under the blistering sun last Thursday as her ashes were scattered on the plaza. Each day, inevitably, more of those who bore witness to the crimes of the past are lost. In Israel, more than 15,500 Holocaust survivors died last year. More than a third of China’s Tiananmen Mothers – who demand justice for children killed in the bloody crackdown on 1989’s pro-reform protests – have died. This month saw the death of Bao Tong, the most senior official jailed for his sympathy for the demonstrators. At 90, he remained under constant watch by authorities, and was one of the few who dared to break the taboo around the massacre, saying that China could not move forward until it “completely repudiated” the killings.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 38 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Israeli Elbit Systems Reveals New Drone to Be Used in Occupied West Bank
2022-11-27T18:03:13+00:00
Israeli Elbit Systems Reveals New Drone to Be Used in Occupied West Bank submitted by /u/aa-coding
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 39 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Deep-learning system identifies difficult-to-detect brain metastases
2022-11-27T17:42:28+00:00
Deep-learning system identifies difficult-to-detect brain metastases submitted by /u/WexfordHo
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 40 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Safety Tests Reveal That Tesla Full Self-Driving Software Will Repeatedly Hit A Child Mannequin In A Stroller
2022-11-27T17:36:33+00:00
Safety Tests Reveal That Tesla Full Self-Driving Software Will Repeatedly Hit A Child Mannequin In A Stroller submitted by /u/nastratin
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 41 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Cheap, sensor-based agriculture could slash water use by up to 70%/We could definitely use something like this with all the droughts around
2022-11-27T17:09:44+00:00
Cheap, sensor-based agriculture could slash water use by up to 70%/We could definitely use something like this with all the droughts around submitted by /u/Sorin61
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 42 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

UK households have cut energy consumption by 10%, say suppliers
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 15:30:08 GMT

E.ON reports up to 15% drop as Grant Shapps writes to firms saying customers cutting back on energy use should not face direct debit rise

Britons have cut their gas and electricity use by more than 10% since October in the first evidence of the impact of the energy crisis on household habits, according to two of Britain’s biggest suppliers.

E.ON, Britain’s second-largest supplier, and the owner of Utility Warehouse have reported “double-digit” declines in recent weeks.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 43 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

A Special Prosecutor Found Kevin Johnson’s Case Was Tainted by Racism. Missouri Is About to Kill Him Anyway.
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 15:15:12 +0000

Kevin Johnson is facing execution for killing a cop when he was 19. A special prosecutor says his sentence should be vacated.

The post A Special Prosecutor Found Kevin Johnson’s Case Was Tainted by Racism. Missouri Is About to Kill Him Anyway. appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 44 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The Museum of London: a fundamental clash as the City of London dreams on
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 15:00:07 GMT

As the museum prepares to leave its 70s home, plans to raze the site and build an office-led new complex have sparked a battle with those who want to repurpose what’s already there

Next Sunday, the Museum of London, which as the official text puts it “tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000BC to the present day”, closes the doors of the building it has occupied for the past 46 years. This is on the edge of the Barbican, the brutalist estate of apartment blocks built in the 1960s and 70s in the City of London, with an adjoining arts centre completed in 1982. The renamed London Museum is due to reopen in 2026 in larger, more impressive and more accessible premises formed out of buildings that once served the meat market at nearby Smithfield. The current facility is closing with a bit of a bang, with a music weekend, cinema festival and 24-hour opening scheduled for its final days.

The move raises the contentious question of what to do with the buildings on the site, by the elegant postwar modernists Powell and Moya, which include the old museum and a 17-storey office tower called Bastion House. The City of London – the local authority-cum-business enterprise that owns the site – wants to replace them with 780,000 square feet of offices and other uses. Residents of the Barbican and other objectors say this would be a wasteful and environmentally damaging overdevelopment of the site, contrary to the City’s own policies and proclamations about climate.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 45 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

How Emily Wilson turned her teenage X Factor humiliation into comedy gold
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 15:00:08 GMT

A brutal take-down on the TV talent show led Emily Wilson into therapy. A decade later, she has turned her grim experience into award-winning standup

It’s not that Emily Wilson used to be secretive about the fact that, as a teenager, she’d appeared on the American incarnation of the X Factor. Rather, it hadn’t exactly gone well for her – awfully, actually – and by the time she was a 20-something comedian carving out a career in New York City, it was a period of her past she was desperate to forget.

To say she’d totally buried the memories, Wilson reckons, might be overly dramatic. “It’s more that I knew it was shitty, and that it impacted me,” the 26-year-old explains over Zoom from her Upper West Side apartment. At 15, she’d appeared on the TV talent show, was treated brutally, had her dreams crushed yet was dragged further into the competition’s gruelling rounds. It’s fair to say a path to pop stardom wasn’t forthcoming. “It was total humiliation,” she says, “so I tried to put it in a box and never go back to it.” If the topic came up in conversation, Wilson would shut it down – “Yeah, it was crazy;” “I know, right?” – giving stock answers to end it. “It was to the point that only eight months into therapy did I first mention it,” says Wilson. Unsurprisingly, her therapist believed it warranted a chat.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 46 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

59 Best Cyber Monday Deals Under $50 (2022): Electric Toothbrushes, Games, and More
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 14:43:00 +0000
Limited budget? These affordable gizmos are WIRED favorites, and now they're even cheaper.
Match ID: 47 Score: 25.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Sleeping in the office is making a comeback? Elon Musk would approve – but what about having a life? | Emma Beddington
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 14:30:07 GMT

I love my job so much that I’d do it even if I won the lottery. But you have to draw the line somewhere

It feels like we talk about work more than ever, but also that we’re ever more unsure what to think about it. I suppose the two go together: if we had reached a serene consensus about the space it should occupy in our lives and souls, we would just get on with it. Instead, bewilderingly contradictory takes on the philosophy of work are everywhere, flowering and fading as fast as TikTok microtrends.

For instance: the Washington Post declared this week that, like high heels, sleeping in the office is “making a comeback”. This in response to Elon Musk’s blowhard demand that staff sign up to work like dogs or ship out (followed, of course, by the inevitable backtrack when many reportedly chose the far-more-attractive ship out option).

Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 48 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Bereavement often ruptures our sense of self – but we can find our feet again | Gill Straker and Jacqui Winship
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 14:00:08 GMT

We may be for ever altered by the death of a loved one, but we will eventually be able to reintegrate into life

The experience of grief following bereavement is ubiquitous and falls within the normal range of human experience. We therefore need to be careful not to pathologise it, although the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has recently – and for some controversially – added a diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder. Nevertheless, just because the grief associated with death and dying is generally normal, this does not diminish how acutely distressing it can be, and sometimes the experience of grief can exacerbate other, more long-standing psychological issues.

Grief is painful partly because it involves an unavoidable reckoning with reality and the limits to our control. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an eminent researcher of reactions to loss, proposed a five-stage model of grief. While the idea of stages has been challenged by the idiosyncratic, cultural and non-linear nature of the experience of loss, her work highlights the common employment of defences such as denial and bargaining.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 49 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Bacteria that break down nicotine found in the guts of mice
2022-11-27T12:59:48+00:00
Bacteria that break down nicotine found in the guts of mice submitted by /u/Sorin61
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 50 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Competence, what competence? Tory chancellors like Jeremy Hunt always spell disaster | Naomi Smith
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 12:05:12 GMT

Look at the record, from Lawson to Osborne – they have consistently overseen rises in poverty and falls in the pound

By placing a photo of Nigel Lawson behind his desk, artfully positioned to be caught by the official photographer, Jeremy Hunt shows himself to be a keen student of previous Tory chancellors. But if he is guided too much by them, that can only be a problem: for him, for his party and for all of us.

Tory chancellors have held the purse strings for 30 of the past 43 years, and from Geoffrey Howe through Norman Lamont to Rishi Sunak, they have nearly all left the UK economy in a worse state than they found it. Of the 11 previous Conservative chancellors since 1979, most left office with poverty rates higher or unchanged from when they started. Although these figures are not yet available for Rishi Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi or Kwasi Kwarteng, the extremely high use of foodbanks during their stints is surely a bad sign, and no Conservative chancellor has managed to reduce inequality anywhere close to pre-1979 levels.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 51 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Renault's heavy electric trucks are now available to order
2022-11-27T11:41:38+00:00
Renault's heavy electric trucks are now available to order submitted by /u/Sorin61
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 52 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Covering a cylinder with a magnetic coil triples its energy output in nuclear fusion test
2022-11-27T10:27:42+00:00
Covering a cylinder with a magnetic coil triples its energy output in nuclear fusion test submitted by /u/Sorin61
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 53 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

‘We need a breakthrough deal on biodiversity’: can Montreal summit deliver for nature?
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 10:00:05 GMT

In 201o, politicians pledged to halt devastation of Earth’s wildlife. Since then, no progress has been made. And despite glimmers of hope, prospects look grim for next month’s top-level meeting in Canada

In 2010, politicians and scientists made a pledge to halt the devastating reductions in wildlife numbers that had been denuding the planet of its animals and sea creatures for the previous century. At that time, wild animal populations were declining by about 2.5% a year on average as habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease ravaged habitats and lives. Such losses must end within a decade, it was agreed.

Next month, conservationists and politicians will meet in Montreal for this year’s biodiversity summit where they will judge what progress has been made over the past 12 years. “It will be an easy assessment to make,” said Andrew Terry, the director of conservation at ZSL, the Zoological Society of London. “Absolutely no progress has been made. Populations have continued to decline at a rate of around 2.5% a year. We haven’t slowed the destruction in the slightest. Our planet’s biodiversity is now in desperate peril as a result.”

Continue reading...
Match ID: 54 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Melting point: could ‘cloud brightening’ slow the thawing of the Arctic?
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 10:00:03 GMT

The climate emergency is prompting some scientists to suggest extreme measures. But whether you call it geoengineering or biomimicry, others feel interfering with nature will have too high a cost

Like the apocryphal frog that doesn’t notice the rising water temperature until it’s boiled alive, we as a global society are still struggling to recognise that anthropic global warming is hastening us towards irreversible environmental and ecological catastrophe. While there is consensus among climate scientists about the urgency of the situation, and widespread political acknowledgment that the use of carbon fuels must be reduced, targets have not been met and as the UK’s Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, said, the lack of progress at this month’s Cop27 demonstrates the 1.5C limit is on “life support” and there is growing evidence that we are further along the road to a tipping point than previously thought.

So advanced is this process that some scientists are beginning to argue that merely cutting carbon is not enough and an emergency measure involving what is known as geoengineering is called for. There have been a number of plans suggested, some more outlandish than others. They range from building giant mirrors in space to reflect away sunlight to painting the roofs of buildings white to help counteract heatwaves in cities.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 55 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

‘Being heard is better than being seen’: supermodel Paulina Porizkova on living ‘unfiltered’
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 08:00:15 GMT
Paulina Porizkova, one of the great supermodels of the 80s, has refound fame – as ‘the lady who cries on Instagram’. It began with the death of and betrayal by her husband of 30 years

Moving through a room as a teenage supermodel when she first came to New York, mouths would drop, drinks would appear, eyes would spring out of sockets as if from a cartoon cat. In one chatshow appearance I watched on YouTube, from 1994, the radio personality Howard Stern spontaneously undressed in front of her. Trousers, shirt, everything.

But at 57, the experience is quite different for Paulina Porizkova. One night earlier this year, she was at a party in Manhattan. Pushing her way through the crowd, she felt out of place, and invisible, and old. Then a young woman sitting at the bar grabbed her arm. “Aren’t you…?” the woman yelled over the music. “Yes,” said Porizkova quickly.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 56 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Stress, exhaustion and 1,000 patients a day: the life of an English GP
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 07:00:15 GMT

Behind the outcry about waiting times lies the anxiety that our cherished GP system will, in the words of one Gloucester doctor, ‘soon reach a threshold where there is a collapse’. We witness life on the frontline

Last week, I went to Gloucester to see a doctor. I was armed with headlines that placed the city and its surrounding county at the sharpest end of the current crisis in general practice. More than 30,000 patients in Gloucestershire had to wait more than a month for a GP appointment in September, a figure that had doubled in a year. Meanwhile, since the pandemic, doctors and nurses and reception staff have been leaving jobs and partnerships in unprecedented numbers. (There is a current shortfall of at least 4,200 GPs across England, with notable gaps in the south-west.)

Dr Bob Hodges, a veteran of the frontline of primary care, had invited me to his Gloucester practice to witness the more complicated reality behind those headlines. Hodges is a big, gentle man with an easy smile, one of nine partners at the Aspen medical practice near the centre of the city, and vice-chair of the local medical committee that represents the county’s GPs. He wears hospital scrubs because he doubles as a subspecialist in dermatology doing minor operations. He gets in early. “Either it’s paperwork before patients or vice versa,” he says, “and we have a late clinic until 8pm so usually I’m too knackered to do the admin after the last patient.”

Continue reading...
Match ID: 57 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

There's a woman haunting the internet. She was created by AI. Now she won't leave
2022-11-27T03:33:48+00:00
There's a woman haunting the internet. She was created by AI. Now she won't leave submitted by /u/aacool
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 58 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

‘Abhorrent trolls’ who encourage self-harm online face criminal prosecution, says minister — U.K. Culture secretary Michelle Donelan to amend bill that, after Molly Russell case, will place duty of care on social media firms
2022-11-27T01:31:38+00:00
‘Abhorrent trolls’ who encourage self-harm online face criminal prosecution, says minister — U.K. Culture secretary Michelle Donelan to amend bill that, after Molly Russell case, will place duty of care on social media firms submitted by /u/marketrent
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 59 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Ukrainians remember suffering inflicted by Stalin, Putin 90 years apart
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 18:15:19 EST
European leaders met with Ukrainians at summit on food insecurity, remembering victims of 1930s starvation.
Match ID: 60 Score: 25.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

U.S. grants Chevron license to pump oil in Venezuela
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 17:34:11 EST
Under a new Treasury Department license, it will be able to resume pumping oil. The limited license stipulates that any oil produced can only be exported to the United States. No profits from its sale can go to the Venezuelan company but must be used to pay off Venezuelan creditors in the United States.
Match ID: 61 Score: 25.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Barbados plans to make Tory MP pay reparations for family’s slave past
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 17:16:51 GMT

Richard Drax reported to have visited Caribbean island for meeting on next steps, including plans for former sugar plantation

The government of Barbados is considering plans to make a wealthy Conservative MP the first individual to pay reparations for his ancestor’s pivotal role in slavery.

The Observer understands that Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, recently travelled to the Caribbean island for a private meeting with the country’s prime minister, Mia Mottley. A report is now before Mottley’s cabinet laying out the next steps, which include legal action in the event that no agreement is reached with Drax.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 62 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Egypt's Climate Summit Was a "Rehearsal" for COP28 in Dubai
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 16:00:12 +0000

Even in a police state, climate justice and human rights advocates found ways to come together and make their voices heard, but some worry about what comes next.

The post Egypt’s Climate Summit Was a “Rehearsal” for COP28 in Dubai appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 63 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

A Criminal Ratted Out His Friend to the FBI. Now He's Trying to Make Amends.
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 12:00:23 +0000

The FBI paid a convicted sex offender $90,000 to set up his friend and his friend’s mentally ill buddy in a terrorism sting.

The post A Criminal Ratted Out His Friend to the FBI. Now He’s Trying to Make Amends. appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 64 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Temos que deixar de olhar como piada e enxergar como terrorismo
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 09:03:29 +0000

Atos golpistas nas estradas e em frente aos quartéis avançam na escalada de violência e sobem o tom para desafiar o Judiciário.

The post Temos que deixar de olhar como piada e enxergar como terrorismo appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 65 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

From liberation in Ukraine to festive food: original Observer photography
Sat, 26 Nov 2022 00:00:11 GMT

Here are the best original photographs from the Observer commissioned in November 2022

Continue reading...
Match ID: 66 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 17:13:24 +0000


Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

Happy Thanksgiving, for those who celebrate it. Now spend 10 minutes watching a telepresence robot assemble a turkey sandwich.

[ Sanctuary ]

Ayato Kanada, an assistant professor at Kyushu University in Japan, wrote in to share "the world's simplest omnidirectional mobile robot."

We propose a palm-sized omnidirectional mobile robot with two torus wheels. A single torus wheel is made of an elastic elongated coil spring in which the two ends of the coil connected each other and is driven by a piezoelectric actuator (stator) that can generate 2-degrees-of-freedom (axial and angular) motions. The stator converts its thrust force and torque into longitudinal and meridian motions of the torus wheel, respectively, making the torus work as an omnidirectional wheel on a plane.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Ayato!

This work entitled "Virtually turning robotic manipulators into worn devices: opening new horizons for wearable assistive robotics" proposes a novel hybrid system using a virtually worn robotic arm in augmented-reality, and a real robotic manipulator servoed on such virtual representation. We basically aim at bringing an illusion of wearing a robotic system while its weight is fully deported. We believe that this approach could offers a solution to the critical challenge of wight and discomfort cause by robotic sensorimotor extensions (such as supernumerary robotics limbs (SRL), prostheses or handheld tools), and open new horizons for the development of wearable robotics.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Nathanaël!

Engineers at Georgia Tech are the first to study the mechanics of springtails, which leap in the water to avoid predators. The researchers learned how the tiny hexapods control their jump, self-right in midair, and land on their feet in the blink of an eye. The team used the findings to build penny-sized jumping robots.

[ Georgia Tech ]

Thanks, Jason!

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) have asked European space industries and research institutions to develop innovative technologies for the exploration of resources on the Moon in the framework of the ESA-ESRIC Space Resources Challenge. As part of the challenge, teams of engineers have developed vehicles capable of prospecting for resources in a test-bed simulating the Moon's shaded polar regions. From 5 to 9 September 2022, the final of the ESA-ESRIC Space Resource Challenge took place at the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette. On this occasion, lunar rover prototypes competed on a 1,800 m² 'lunar' terrain. The winning team will have the opportunity to have their technology implemented on the Moon.

[ ESA ]

Thanks, Arne!

If only cobots were as easy to use as this video from Kuka makes it seem.

The Kuka website doesn't say how much this thing costs, which means it's almost certainly not something that you impulse buy.

[ Kuka ]

We present the tensegrity aerial vehicle, a design of collision-resilient rotor robots with icosahedron tensegrity structures. With collision resilience and re-orientation ability, the tensegrity aerial vehicles can operate in cluttered environments without complex collision-avoidance strategies. These capabilities are validated by a test of an experimental tensegrity aerial vehicle operating with only onboard inertial sensors in a previously-unknown forest.

[ HiPeR Lab ]

The robotics research group Brubotics and polymer science and physical chemistry group FYSC of the university of Brussels have developed together self-healing materials that can be scratched, punctured or completely cut through and heal themselves back together, with the required heat, or even at room temperature.

[ Brubotics ]

Apparently, the World Cup needs more drone footage, because this is kinda neat.

[ DJI ]

Researchers at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms have made significant progress toward creating robots that could build nearly anything, including things much larger than themselves, from vehicles to buildings to larger robots.

[ MIT ]

The researchers from North Carolina State University have recently developed a fast and efficient soft robotic swimmer that swims resembling human's butterfly-stroke style. It can achieve a high average swimming speed of 3.74 body length per second, close to five times faster than the fastest similar soft swimmers, and also a high-power efficiency with low cost of energy.

[ NC State ]

To facilitate sensing and physical interaction in remote and/or constrained environments, high-extension, lightweight robot manipulators are easier to transport and reach substantially further than traditional serial chain manipulators. We propose a novel planar 3-degree-of-freedom manipulator that achieves low weight and high extension through the use of a pair of spooling bistable tapes, commonly used in self-retracting tape measures, which are pinched together to form a reconfigurable revolute joint.

[ Charm Lab ]

SLURP!

[ River Lab ]

This video may encourage you to buy a drone. Or a snowmobile.

[ Skydio ]

Moxie is getting an update for the holidays!

[ Embodied ]

Robotics professor Henny Admoni answers the internet's burning questions about robots! How do you program a personality? Can robots pick up a single M&M? Why do we keep making humanoid robots? What is Elon Musk's goal for the Tesla Optimus robot? Will robots take over my job writing video descriptions...I mean, um, all our jobs? Henny answers all these questions and much more.

[ CMU ]

This GRASP on Robotics talk is from Julie Adams at Oregon State University, on “Towards Adaptive Human-Robot Teams: Workload Estimation.”

The ability for robots, be it a single robot, multiple robots or a robot swarm, to adapt to the humans with which they are teamed requires algorithms that allow robots to detect human performance in real time. The multi-dimensional workload algorithm incorporates physiological metrics to estimate overall workload and its components (i.e., cognitive, speech, auditory, visual and physical). The algorithm is sensitive to changes in a human’s individual workload components and overall workload across domains, human-robot teaming relationships (i.e., supervisory, peer-based), and individual differences. The algorithm has also been demonstrated to detect shifts in workload in real-time in order to adapt the robot’s interaction with the human and autonomously change task responsibilities when the human’s workload is over- or underloaded. Recently, the algorithm was used to post-hoc analyze the resulting workload for a single human deploying a heterogeneous robot swarm in an urban environment. Current efforts are focusing on predicting the human’s future workload, recognizing the human’s current tasks, and estimating workload for previously unseen tasks.

[ UPenn ]


Match ID: 67 Score: 25.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Mexico's president says Biden plans to visit the country in January: report
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:21:28 GMT

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday said President Joe Biden will visit Mexico in early January as part of a North American leaders summit previously planned for December, according to a Reuters report. Lopez Obrador announced the visit at a news conference and suggested it would happen on Jan. 9-10, but he also mentioned earlier dates, the report said.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 68 Score: 25.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Putin’s grip on regional allies loosens again after Armenia snub
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 14:08:46 GMT

Damaging optics of ‘family’ photo at CSTO summit highlights fragility of Russia’s influence in wake of war in Ukraine

Armenia has asked the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to chair peace talks with Azerbaijan in a fresh challenge to Vladimir Putin’s increasingly loose grip on Russia’s regional allies in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The snub from a traditional ally to Putin, who had hosted an inconsequential meeting of the warring countries’ leaders last month, comes immediately on the back of his disastrous summit with six former Soviet states.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 69 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Can America’s Aging Leadership Deliver the Future?
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 11:00:00 +0000
The Political Scene’s Washington roundtable discusses whether the United States is a gerontocracy, and what that means for the country’s politics.
Match ID: 70 Score: 25.00 source: www.newyorker.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

"Tantura" Exposes the Lie at the Heart of Israel's Founding Myth
Fri, 25 Nov 2022 11:00:32 +0000

A new documentary challenges Israel’s narrative about 1948 and the forced displacement of Palestinians.

The post “Tantura” Exposes the Lie at the Heart of Israel’s Founding Myth appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 71 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Oxford scientists crack case of why ketchup splatters from near-empty bottle
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 18:00:11 +0000
Squeezing more slowly and doubling diameter of the nozzle can help prevent splatter
Match ID: 72 Score: 21.43 source: arstechnica.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

Como plataformas de inteligência artificial podem discriminar mulheres, idosos e faculdades populares em processos seletivos
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 14:53:19 +0000

Profissionais de RH suspeitam que sistemas automatizados reprovam indevidamente candidatos, reproduzindo os preconceitos do mercado.

The post Como plataformas de inteligência artificial podem discriminar mulheres, idosos e faculdades populares em processos seletivos appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 73 Score: 21.43 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

Tickle Pill Bug Toes With These Haptic Microfingers
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 14:00:00 +0000


All things considered, we humans are kind of big, which is very limiting to how we can comfortably interact with the world. The practical effect of this is that we tend to prioritize things that we can see and touch and otherwise directly experience, even if those things are only a small part of the world in which we live. A recent study conservatively estimates that there are 2.5 million ants for every one human on Earth. And that’s just ants. There are probably something like 7 million different species of terrestrial insects, and humans have only even noticed like 10 percent of them. The result of this disconnect is that when (for example) insect populations around the world start to crater, it takes us much longer to first notice, care, and act.

To give the small scale the attention that it deserves, we need a way of interacting with it. In a paper recently published in Scientific Reports, roboticists from Ritsumeikan University in Japan demonstrate a haptic teleoperation system that connects a human hand on one end with microfingers on the other, letting the user feel what it’s like to give a pill bug a tummy rub.


Three images showing a top view of the microfinger, which is clear with with liquid metal channels running through it, and side views of the microfinger straight and bent. At top, a microfinger showing the pneumatic balloon actuator (PBA) and liquid metal strain gauge. At bottom left, when the PBA is deflated, the microfinger is straight. At bottom right, inflating the PBA causes the finger to bend downwards.

These microfingers are just 12 millimeters long, 3 mm wide, and 490 microns (μm) thick. Inside of each microfinger is a pneumatic balloon actuator, which is just a hollow channel that can be pressurized with air. Since the channel is on the top of the microfinger, when the channel is inflated, it bulges upward, causing the microfinger to bend down. When pressure is reduced, the microfinger returns to its original position. Separate channels in the microfinger are filled with liquid metal, and as the microfinger bends, the channels elongate, thinning out the metal. By measuring the resistance of the metal, you can tell how much the finger is being bent. This combination of actuation and force sensing means that a human-size haptic system can be used as a force feedback interface: As you move your fingers, the microfingers will move, and forces can be transmitted back to you, allowing you to feel what the microfingers feel.

Two images showing a concept drawing of the microfingers interacting with a pill bug, and a human hand enclosed in sensors and actuators. The microfingers (left) can be connected to a haptic feedback and control system for use by a human.

Fans of the golden age of science fiction will recognize this system as a version of Waldo F. Jones' Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph, although the concept has even deeper roots in sci-fi:

The thought suddenly struck me: I can make micro hands for my little hands. I can make the same gloves for them as I did for my living hands, use the same system to connect them to the handles ten times smaller than my micro arms, and then ... I will have real micro arms, they will chop my movements two hundred times. With these hands I will burst into such a smallness of life that they have only seen, but where no one else has disposed of their own hands. And I got to work.

With their very real and not science fiction system, the researchers were able to successfully determine that pill bugs can exert about 10 micro-Newtons of force through their legs, which is about the same as what has been estimated using other techniques. This is just a proof of concept study, but I’m excited about the potential here, because there is still so much of the world that humans haven’t yet been able to really touch. And besides just insect-scale tickling, there’s a broader practical context here around the development of insect-scale robots. Insects have had insect-scale sensing and mobility and whatnot pretty well figured out for a long time now, and if we’re going to make robots that can do insect-like things, we’re going to do it by learning as much as we can directly from insects themselves.

“With our strain-sensing microfinger, we were able to directly measure the pushing motion and force of the legs and torso of a pill bug—something that has been impossible to achieve previously. We anticipate that our results will lead to further technological development for microfinger-insect interactions, leading to human-environment interactions at much smaller scales.”
—Satoshi Konishi, Ritsumeikan University

I should also be clear that despite the headline, I don’t know if it’s actually possible to tickle a bug. A Google search for “are insects ticklish” turns up one single result, from someone asking this question on the "StonerThoughts" subreddit. There is some suggestion that tickling, or more specifically the kind of tickling that is surprising and can lead to laughter called gargalesis, has evolved in social mammals to promote bonding. The other kind of tickling is called knismesis, which is more of an unpleasant sensation that causes irritation or distress. You know, like the feeling of a bug crawling on you. It seems plausible (to me, anyway) that bugs may experience some kind of knismesis—but I think that someone needs to get in there and do some science, especially now that we have the tools to make it happen.
Match ID: 74 Score: 21.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

65daysofstatic's 'Wreckage Systems' Pushes Algorithmic Music
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 12:00:00 +0000
After pioneering procedurally-generated music with the soundtrack to No Man's Sky, the band took things a step further and created an endless audio loop.
Match ID: 75 Score: 21.43 source: www.wired.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

Once a Year, We Gather and Blame Those Most Deserving
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 11:00:00 +0000
Wait, what am I talking about? Not once a year—every day!
Match ID: 76 Score: 21.43 source: www.newyorker.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

The Data Guy Who Got the Midterms Right
Thu, 24 Nov 2022 03:43:32 +0000

Tom Bonier of TargetSmart on how Republican polls were able to skew media predictions.

The post The Data Guy Who Got the Midterms Right appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 77 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Jan. 6 panel staffers angry at Cheney for focusing so much of report on Trump
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 16:40:49 EST
Fifteen former and current staffers expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.
Match ID: 78 Score: 17.86 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

IEEE SIGHT Founder Amarnath Raja Dies at 65
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 19:00:01 +0000


Amarnath Raja

Founder of IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology

Senior member, 65; died 5 September

Raja founded the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) in 2011. The global network partners with underserved communities and local organizations to leverage technology for sustainable development.


He began his career in 1980 as a management trainee at the National Dairy Development Board, in Anand, India. A year later he joined Milma, a state government marketing cooperative for the dairy industry, in Thiruvananthapuram, as a manager of planning and systems. After 15 years with Milma, he joined IBM in Tokyo as a manager of technology services.

In 2000 he helped found InApp, a company in Palo Alto, Calif., that provides software development services. He served as its CEO and executive chairman until he died.

Raja was the 2011–2012 chair of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee. He wanted to find a way to mobilize engineers to apply their expertise to develop sustainable solutions that help their local community. To achieve the goal, in 2011 he founded IEEE SIGHT. Today there are more than 150 SIGHT groups in 50 countries that are working on projects such as sustainable irrigation and photovoltaic systems.

For his efforts, he received the 2015 Larry K. Wilson Transnational Award from IEEE Member and Geographic Activities. The award honors effective efforts to fulfill one or more of the MGA goals and strategic objectives related to transnational activities.

For the past two years, Rajah chaired the IEEE Admission and Advancement Review Panel, which approves applications for new members and elevations to higher membership grades.

He was a member of the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software’s advisory board. The organization was established by the government of Kerala, India, to facilitate the development and distribution of free, open-source software. Raja also served on the board of directors at Bedroc, an IT staffing and support firm in Nashville.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1979 from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

Donn S. Terry

Software engineer

Life member, 74; died 14 September

Terry was a computer engineer at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins, Colo., for 18 years.

He joined HP in 1978 as a software developer, and he chaired the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) working group. POSIX is a family of standards specified by the IEEE Computer Society for maintaining compatibility among operating systems. While there, he also developed software for the Motorola 68000 microprocessor.

Terry left HP in 1997 to join Softway Solutions, also in Fort Collins, where he developed tools for Interix, a Unix subsystem of the Windows NT operating system. After Microsoft acquired Softway in 1999, he stayed on as a senior software development engineer at its Seattle location. There he worked on static analysis, a method of computer-program debugging that is done by examining the code without executing the program. He also helped to create SAL, a Microsoft source-code annotation language, which was developed to make code design easier to understand and analyze.

Terry retired in 2014. He loved science fiction, boating, cooking, and spending time with his family, according to his daughter, Kristin.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1970 and a Ph.D. in computer science in 1978, both from the University of Washington in Seattle.

William Sandham

Signal processing engineer

Life senior member, 70; died 25 August

Sandham applied his signal processing expertise to a wide variety of disciplines including medical imaging, biomedical data analysis, and geophysics.

He began his career in 1974 as a physicist at the University of Glasgow. While working there, he pursued a Ph.D. in geophysics. He earned his degree in 1981 at the University of Birmingham in England. He then joined the British National Oil Corp. (now Britoil) as a geophysicist.

In 1986 he left to join the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, as a lecturer in the signal processing department. During his time at the university, he published more than 200 journal papers and five books that addressed blood glucose measurement, electrocardiography data analysis and compression, medical ultrasound, MRI segmentation, prosthetic limb fitting, and sleep apnea detection.

Sandham left the university in 2003 and founded Scotsig, a signal processing consulting and research business, also in Glasgow.

He served on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Analog and Digital Signal Processing and the EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing.

He was a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a member of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Sandham earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1974 from the University of Glasgow.

Stephen M. Brustoski

Loss-prevention engineer

Life member, 69; died 6 January

For 40 years, Brustoski worked as a loss-prevention engineer for insurance company FM Global. He retired from the company, which was headquartered in Johnston, R.I., in 2014.

He was an elder at his church, CrossPoint Alliance, in Akron, Ohio, where he oversaw administrative work and led Bible studies and prayer meetings. He was an assistant scoutmaster for 12 years, and he enjoyed hiking and traveling the world with his family, according to his wife, Sharon.

Brustoski earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1973 from the University of Akron.

Harry Letaw

President and CEO of Essex Corp.

Life senior member, 96; died 7 May 2020

As president and CEO of Essex Corp., in Columbia, Md., Letaw handled the development and commercialization of optoelectronic and signal processing solutions for defense, intelligence, and commercial customers. He retired in 1995.

He had served in World War II as an aviation engineer for the U.S. Army. After he was discharged, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, then a master’s degree and Ph.D., all from the University of Florida in Gainesville, in 1949, 1951, and 1952.

After he graduated, he became a postdoctoral assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He left to become a researcher at Raytheon Technologies, an aerospace and defense manufacturer, in Wayland, Mass.

Letaw was a member of the American Physical Society and the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies.


Match ID: 79 Score: 17.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Founder ran FTX as “personal fiefdom”; many assets stolen or missing, court hears
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 17:36:09 +0000
FTX "was run as a personal fiefdom of Sam Bankman-Fried," company lawyer says.
Match ID: 80 Score: 17.86 source: arstechnica.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

I Experienced Jack Smith's Zeal Firsthand. Will Trump Get the Same Treatment?
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 16:15:01 +0000

His handling of the ex-president will show whether Smith really is an aggressive prosecutor — or just aggressive against the powerless.

The post I Experienced Jack Smith’s Zeal Firsthand. Will Trump Get the Same Treatment? appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 81 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

10 Things for Americans to Be Grateful for at Thanksgiving 2022
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 11:00:34 +0000

Elon Musk, functioning elections, “Andor,” and death — Americans can genuinely give thanks for all these things and more this holiday.

The post 10 Things for Americans to Be Grateful for at Thanksgiving 2022 appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 82 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Rondônia concentra o maior número de clubes de tiro criados sob Bolsonaro na Amazônia – e também o de mortes no campo
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 10:15:46 +0000

Marcado pela atuação da Liga dos Camponeses Pobres, movimento considerado ‘terrorista’ por bolsonaristas, estado também é um dos epicentros dos bloqueios golpistas.

The post Rondônia concentra o maior número de clubes de tiro criados sob Bolsonaro na Amazônia – e também o de mortes no campo appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 83 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

NASA’s DART Mission Aims to Save the World
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:52:53 +0000


Armageddon ruined everything. Armageddon—the 1998 movie, not the mythical battlefield—told the story of an asteroid headed straight for Earth, and a bunch of swaggering roughnecks sent in space shuttles to blow it up with a nuclear weapon.

Armageddon is big and noisy and stupid and shameless, and it’s going to be huge at the box office,” wrote Jay Carr of the Boston Globe.

Carr was right—the film was the year’s second biggest hit (after Titanic)—and ever since, scientists have had to explain, patiently, that cluttering space with radioactive debris may not be the best way to protect ourselves. NASA is now trying a slightly less dramatic approach with a robotic mission called DART—short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. On Monday at 7:14 p.m. EDT, if all goes well, the little spacecraft will crash into an asteroid called Dimorphos, about 11 million kilometers from Earth. Dimorphos is about 160 meters across, and orbits a 780-meter asteroid, 65803 Didymos. NASA TV plans to cover it live.

DART’s end will be violent, but not blockbuster-movie-violent. Music won’t swell and girlfriends back on Earth won’t swoon. Mission managers hope the spacecraft, with a mass of about 600 kilograms, hitting at 22,000 km/h, will nudge the asteroid slightly in its orbit, just enough to prove that it’s technologically possible in case a future asteroid has Earth in its crosshairs.

“Maybe once a century or so, there’ll be an asteroid sizeable enough that we’d like to certainly know, ahead of time, if it was going to impact,” says Lindley Johnson, who has the title of planetary defense officer at NASA.

“If you just take a hair off the orbital velocity, you’ve changed the orbit of the asteroid so that what would have been impact three or four years down the road is now a complete miss.”

So take that, Hollywood! If DART succeeds, it will show there are better fuels to protect Earth than testosterone.

The risk of a comet or asteroid that wipes out civilization is really very small, but large enough that policymakers take it seriously. NASA, ordered by the U.S. Congress in 2005 to scan the inner solar system for hazards, has found nearly 900 so-called NEOs—near-Earth objects—at least a kilometer across, more than 95 percent of all in that size range that probably exist. It has plotted their orbits far into the future, and none of them stand more than a fraction of a percent chance of hitting Earth in this millennium.

An infographic showing the orientation of Didymos,  Dimorphos, DART, and LICIACube. The DART spacecraft should crash into the asteroid Dimorphos and slow it in its orbit around the larger asteroid Didymos. The LICIACube cubesat will fly in formation to take images of the impact.Johns Hopkins APL/NASA

But there are smaller NEOs, perhaps 140 meters or more in diameter, too small to end civilization but large enough to cause mass destruction if they hit a populated area. There may be 25,000 that come within 50 million km of Earth’s orbit, and NASA estimates telescopes have only found about 40 percent of them. That’s why scientists want to expand the search for them and have good ways to deal with them if necessary. DART is the first test.

NASA takes pains to say this is a low-risk mission. Didymos and Dimorphos never cross Earth’s orbit, and computer simulations show that no matter where or how hard DART hits, it cannot possibly divert either one enough to put Earth in danger. Scientists want to see if DART can alter Dimorphos’s speed by perhaps a few centimeters per second.

The DART spacecraft, a 1-meter cube with two long solar panels, is elegantly simple, equipped with a telescope called DRACO, hydrazine maneuvering thrusters, a xenon-fueled ion engine and a navigation system called SMART Nav. It was launched by a SpaceX rocket in November. About 4 hours and 90,000 km before the hoped-for impact, SMART Nav will take over control of the spacecraft, using optical images from the telescope. Didymos, the larger object, should be a point of light by then; Dimorphos, the intended target, will probably not appear as more than one pixel until about 50 minutes before impact. DART will send one image per second back to Earth, but the spacecraft is autonomous; signals from the ground, 38 light-seconds away, would be useless for steering as the ship races in.

A golden cubesat with a bright light and lines The DART spacecraft separated from its SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, 55 minutes after liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base, in California, 24 November 2021. In this image from the rocket, the spacecraft had not yet unfurled its solar panels.NASA

What’s more, nobody knows the shape or consistency of little Dimorphos. Is it a solid boulder or a loose cluster of rubble? Is it smooth or craggy, round or elongated? “We’re trying to hit the center,” says Evan Smith, the deputy mission systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which is running DART. “We don’t want to overcorrect for some mountain or crater on one side that’s throwing an odd shadow or something.”

So on final approach, DART will cover 800 km without any steering. Thruster firings could blur the last images of Dimorphos’s surface, which scientists want to study. Impact should be imaged from about 50 km away by an Italian-made minisatellite, called LICIACube, which DART released two weeks ago.

“In the minutes following impact, I know everybody is going be high fiving on the engineering side,” said Tom Statler, DART’s program scientist at NASA, “but I’m going be imagining all the cool stuff that is actually going on on the asteroid, with a crater being dug and ejecta being blasted off.”

There is, of course, a possibility that DART will miss, in which case there should be enough fuel on board to allow engineers to go after a backup target. But an advantage of the Didymos-Dimorphos pair is that it should help in calculating how much effect the impact had. Telescopes on Earth (plus the Hubble and Webb space telescopes) may struggle to measure infinitesimal changes in the orbit of Dimorphos around the sun; it should be easier to see how much its orbit around Didymos is affected. The simplest measurement may be of the changing brightness of the double asteroid, as Dimorphos moves in front of or behind its partner, perhaps more quickly or slowly than it did before impact.

“We are moving an asteroid,” said Statler. “We are changing the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Humanity’s never done that before.”


Match ID: 84 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 65 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

NASA’s Artemis I Revives the Moonshot
Sun, 28 Aug 2022 13:00:00 +0000



Update 5 Sept.: For now, NASA’s giant Artemis I remains on the ground after two launch attempts scrubbed by a hydrogen leak and a balky engine sensor. Mission managers say Artemis will fly when everything's ready—but haven't yet specified whether that might be in late September or in mid-October.

“When you look at the rocket, it looks almost retro,” said Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA. “Looks like we’re looking back toward the Saturn V. But it’s a totally different, new, highly sophisticated—more sophisticated—rocket, and spacecraft.”

Artemis, powered by the Space Launch System rocket, is America’s first attempt to send astronauts to the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972, and technology has taken giant leaps since then. On Artemis I, the first test flight, mission managers say they are taking the SLS, with its uncrewed Orion spacecraft up top, and “stressing it beyond what it is designed for”—the better to ensure safe flights when astronauts make their first landings, currently targeted to begin with Artemis III in 2025.

But Nelson is right: The rocket is retro in many ways, borrowing heavily from the space shuttles America flew for 30 years, and from the Apollo-Saturn V.

Much of Artemis’s hardware is refurbished: Its four main engines, and parts of its two strap-on boosters, all flew before on shuttle missions. The rocket’s apricot color comes from spray-on insulation much like the foam on the shuttle’s external tank. And the large maneuvering engine in Orion’s service module is actually 40 years old—used on 19 space shuttle flights between 1984 and 1992.

“I have a name for missions that use too much new technology—failures.”
—John Casani, NASA

Perhaps more important, the project inherits basic engineering from half a century of spaceflight. Just look at Orion’s crew capsule—a truncated cone, somewhat larger than the Apollo Command Module but conceptually very similar.

Old, of course, does not mean bad. NASA says there is no need to reinvent things engineers got right the first time.

“There are certain fundamental aspects of deep-space exploration that are really independent of money,” says Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle-integration manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The laws of physics haven’t changed since the 1960s. And capsule shapes happen to be really good for coming back into the atmosphere at Mach 32.”

Roger Launius, who served as NASA’s chief historian from 1990 to 2002 and as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution from then until 2017, tells of a conversation he had with John Casani, a veteran NASA engineer who managed the Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini probes to the outer planets.

“I have a name for missions that use too much new technology,” he recalls Casani saying. “Failures.”

The Artemis I flight is slated for about six weeks. (Apollo 11 lasted eight days.) The ship roughly follows Apollo’s path to the moon’s vicinity, but then puts itself in what NASA calls a distant retrograde orbit. It swoops within 110 kilometers of the lunar surface for a gravity assist, then heads 64,000 km out—taking more than a month but using less fuel than it would in closer orbits. Finally, it comes home, reentering the Earth’s atmosphere at 11 km per second, slowing itself with a heatshield and parachutes, and splashing down in the Pacific not far from San Diego.

If all four, quadruply redundant flight computer modules fail, there is a fifth, entirely separate computer onboard, running different code to get the spacecraft home.

“That extra time in space,” says Geffre, “allows us to operate the systems, give more time in deep space, and all those things that stress it, like radiation and micrometeoroids, thermal environments.”

There are, of course, newer technologies on board. Orion is controlled by two vehicle-management computers, each composed of two flight computer modules (FCMs) to handle guidance, navigation, propulsion, communications, and other systems. The flight control system, Geffre points out, is quad-redundant; if at any point one of the four FCMs disagrees with the others, it will take itself offline and, in a 22-second process, reset itself to make sure its outputs are consistent with the others’. If all four FCMs fail, there is a fifth, entirely separate computer running different code to get the spacecraft home.

Guidance and navigation, too, have advanced since the sextant used on Apollo. Orion uses a star tracker to determine its attitude, imaging stars and comparing them to an onboard database. And an optical navigation camera shoots Earth and the moon so that guidance software can determine their distance and position and keep the spacecraft on course. NASA says it’s there as backup, able to get Orion to a safe splashdown even if all communication with Earth has been lost.

But even those systems aren’t entirely new. Geffre points out that the guidance system’s architecture is derived from the Boeing 787. Computing power in deep space is limited by cosmic radiation, which can corrupt the output of microprocessors beyond the protection of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field.

Beyond that is the inevitable issue of cost. Artemis is a giant project, years behind schedule, started long before NASA began to buy other launches from companies like SpaceX and Rocket Lab. NASA’s inspector general, Paul Martin, testified to Congress in March that the first four Artemis missions would cost US $4.1 billion each—“a price tag that strikes us as unsustainable.”

Launius, for one, rejects the argument that government is inherently wasteful. “Yes, NASA’s had problems in managing programs in the past. Who hasn’t?” he says. He points out that Blue Origin and SpaceX have had plenty of setbacks of their own—they’re just not obliged to be public about them. “I could go on and on. It’s not a government thing per se and it’s not a NASA thing per se.”

So why return to the moon with—please forgive the pun—such a retro rocket? Partly, say those who watch Artemis closely, because it’s become too big to fail, with so much American money and brainpower invested in it. Partly because it turns NASA’s astronauts outward again, exploring instead of maintaining a space station. Partly because new perspectives could come of it. And partly because China and Russia have ambitions in space that threaten America’s.

“Apollo was a demonstration of technological verisimilitude—to the whole world,” says Launius. “And the whole world knew then, as they know today, that the future belongs to the civilization that can master science and technology.”

Update 7 Sept.: Artemis I has been on launchpad 39B, not 39A as previously reported, at Kennedy Space Center.


Match ID: 85 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 91 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

Inside the Universe Machine: The Webb Space Telescope’s Staggering Vision
Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:00:00 +0000


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

“Build something that will absolutely, positively work.” This was the mandate from NASA for designing and building the James Webb Space Telescope—at 6.5 meters wide the largest space telescope in history. Last December, JWST launched famously and successfully to its observing station out beyond the moon. And now according to NASA, as soon as next week, the JWST will at long last begin releasing scientific images and data.

Mark Kahan, on JWST’s product integrity team, recalls NASA’s engineering challenge as a call to arms for a worldwide team of thousands that set out to create one of the most ambitious scientific instruments in human history. Kahan—chief electro-optical systems engineer at Mountain View, Calif.–based Synopsys—and many others in JWST’s “pit crew” (as he calls the team) drew hard lessons from three decades ago, having helped repair another world-class space telescope with a debilitating case of flawed optics. Of course the Hubble Space Telescope is in low Earth orbit, and so a special space-shuttle mission to install corrective optics ( as happened in 1993) was entirely possible.

Not so with the JWST.

The meticulous care NASA demanded of JWST’s designers is all the more a necessity because Webb is well out of reach of repair crews. Its mission is to study the infrared universe, and that requires shielding the telescope and its sensors from both the heat of sunlight and the infrared glow of Earth. A good place to do that without getting too far from Earth is an empty patch of interplanetary space 1.5 million kilometers away (well beyond the moon’s orbit) near a spot physicists call the second Lagrange point, or L2.

The pit crew’s job was “down at the detail level, error checking every critical aspect of the optical design,” says Kahan. Having learned the hard way from Hubble, the crew insisted that every measurement on Webb’s optics be made in at least two different ways that could be checked and cross-checked. Diagnostics were built into the process, Kahan says, so that “you could look at them to see what to kick” to resolve any discrepancies. Their work had to be done on the ground, but their tests had to assess how the telescope would work in deep space at cryogenic temperatures.

Three New Technologies for the Main Mirror

Superficially, Webb follows the design of all large reflecting telescopes. A big mirror collects light from stars, galaxies, nebulae, planets, comets, and other astronomical objects—and then focuses those photons onto a smaller secondary mirror that sends it to a third mirror that then ultimately directs the light to instruments that record images and spectra.

Webb’s 6.5-meter primary mirror is the first segmented mirror to be launched into space. All the optics had to be made on the ground at room temperature but were deployed in space and operated at 30 to 55 degrees above absolute zero. “We had to develop three new technologies” to make it work, says Lee D. Feinberg of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the optical telescope element manager for Webb for the past 20 years.

The longest wavelengths that Hubble has to contend with were 2.5 micrometers, whereas Webb is built to observe infrared light that stretches to 28 μm in wavelength. Compared with Hubble, whose primary mirror is a circle of an area 4.5 square meters, “[Webb’s primary mirror] had to be 25 square meters,” says Feinberg. Webb also “needed segmented mirrors that were lightweight, and its mass was a huge consideration,” he adds. No single-component mirror that could provide the required resolution would have fit on the Ariane 5 rocket that launched JWST. That meant the mirror would have to be made in pieces, assembled, folded, secured to withstand the stress of launch, then unfolded and deployed in space to create a surface that was within tens of nanometers of the shape specified by the designers.

Images of the James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope to scale, compared to a human figure, who is dwarfed by their size The James Webb Space Telescope [left] and the Hubble Space Telescope side by side—with Hubble’s 2.4-meter-diameter mirror versus Webb’s array of hexagonal mirrors making a 6.5-meter-diameter light-collecting area. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA and the U.S. Air Force, which has its own interests in large lightweight space mirrors for surveillance and focusing laser energy, teamed up to develop the technology. The two agencies narrowed eight submitted proposals down to two approaches for building JWST’s mirrors: one based on low-expansion glass made of a mixture of silicon and titanium dioxides similar to that used in Hubble and the other the light but highly toxic metal beryllium. The most crucial issue came down to how well the materials could withstand temperature changes from room temperature on the ground to around 50 K in space. Beryllium won because it could fully release stress after cooling without changing its shape, and it’s not vulnerable to the cracking that can occur in glass. The final beryllium mirror was a 6.5-meter array of 18 hexagonal beryllium mirrors, each weighing about 20 kilograms. The weight per unit area of JWST’s mirror was only 10 percent of that in Hubble. A 100-nanometer layer of pure gold makes the surface reflect 98 percent of incident light from JWST’s main observing band of 0.6 to 28.5 μm. “Pure silver has slightly higher reflectivity than pure gold, but gold is more robust,” says Feinberg. A thin layer of amorphous silica protects the metal film from surface damage.

In addition, a wavefront-sensing control system keeps mirror segment surfaces aligned to within tens of nanometers. Built on the ground, the system is expected to keep mirror alignment stabilized throughout the telescope’s operational life. A backplane kept at a temperature of 35 K holds all 2.4 tonnes of the telescope and instruments rock-steady to within 32 nm while maintaining them at cryogenic temperatures during observations.

Metal superstructure of cages and supports stands on a giant platform in a warehouse-sized clean-room. A man in a cleanroom suit watches the operations. The JWST backplane, the “spine” that supports the entire hexagonal mirror structure and carries more than 2,400 kg of hardware, is readied for assembly to the rest of the telescope. NASA/Chris Gunn

Hubble’s amazing, long-exposure images of distant galaxies are possible through the use of gyroscopes and reaction wheels. The gyroscopes are used to sense unwanted rotations, and reaction wheels are used to counteract them.

But the gyroscopes used on Hubble have had a bad track record and have had to be replaced repeatedly. Only three of Hubble’s six gyros remain operational today, and NASA has devised plans for operating with one or two gyros at reduced capability. Hubble also includes reaction wheels and magnetic torquers, used to maintain its orientation when needed or to point at different parts of the sky.

Webb uses reaction wheels similarly to turn across the sky, but instead of using mechanical gyros to sense direction, it uses hemispherical resonator gyroscopes, which have no moving parts. Webb also has a small fine-steering mirror in the optical path, which can tilt over an angle of just 5 arc seconds. Those very fine adjustments of the light path into the instruments keep the telescope on target. “It’s a really wonderful way to go,” says Feinberg, adding that it compensates for small amounts of jitter without having to move the whole 6-tonne observatory.

Instruments

Other optics distribute light from the fine-steering mirror among four instruments, two of which can observe simultaneously. Three instruments have sensors that observe wavelengths of 0.6 to 5 μm, which astronomers call the near-infrared. The fourth, called the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), observes what astronomers call the mid-infrared spectrum, from 5 to 28.5 μm. Different instruments are needed because sensors and optics have limited wavelength ranges. (Optical engineers may blanch slightly at astronomers’ definitions of what constitutes the near- and mid-infrared wavelength ranges. These two groups simply have differing conventions for labeling the various regimes of the infrared spectrum.)

Mid-infrared wavelengths are crucial for observing young stars and planetary systems and the earliest galaxies, but they also pose some of the biggest engineering challenges. Namely, everything on Earth and planets out to Jupiter glow in the mid-infrared. So for JWST to observe distant astronomical objects, it must avoid recording extraneous mid-infrared noise from all the various sources inside the solar system. “I have spent my whole career building instruments for wavelengths of 5 μm and longer,” says MIRI instrument scientist Alistair Glasse of the Royal Observatory, in Edinburgh. “We’re always struggling against thermal background.”

Mountaintop telescopes can see the near-infrared, but observing the mid-infrared sky requires telescopes in space. However, the thermal radiation from Earth and its atmosphere can cloud their view, and so can the telescopes themselves unless they are cooled far below room temperature. An ample supply of liquid helium and an orbit far from Earth allowed the Spitzer Space Telescope’s primary observing mission to last for five years, but once the last of the cryogenic fluid evaporated in 2009, its observations were limited to wavelengths shorter than 5 μm.

Webb has an elaborate solar shield to block sunlight, and an orbit 1.5 million km from Earth that can keep the telescope to below 55 K, but that’s not good enough for low-noise observations at wavelengths longer than 5 μm. The near-infrared instruments operate at 40 K to minimize thermal noise. But for observations out to 28.5 μm, MIRI uses a specially developed closed-cycle, helium cryocooler to keep MIRI cooled below 7 K. “We want to have sensitivity limited by the shot noise of astronomical sources,” says Glasse. (Shot noise occurs when optical or electrical signals are so feeble that each photon or electron constitutes a detectable peak.) That will make MIRI 1,000 times as sensitive in the mid-infrared as Spitzer.

Another challenge is the limited transparency of optical materials in the mid-infrared. “We use reflective optics wherever possible,” says Glasse, but they also pose problems, he adds. “Thermal contraction is a big deal,” he says, because the instrument was made at room temperature but is used at 7 K. To keep thermal changes uniform throughout MIRI, they made the whole structure of gold-coated aluminum lest other metals cause warping.

Detectors are another problem. Webb’s near-infrared sensors use mercury cadmium telluride photodetectors with a resolution of 2,048 x 2,048 pixels. This resolution is widely used at wavelengths below 5 μm, but sensing at MIRI’s longer wavelengths required exotic detectors that are limited to offering only 1,024 x 1,024 pixels.

Glasse says commissioning “has gone incredibly well.” Although some stray light has been detected, he says, “we are fully expecting to meet all our science goals.”

NIRCam Aligns the Whole Telescope

The near-infrared detectors and optical materials used for observing at wavelengths shorter than 5 μm are much more mature than those for the mid-infrared, so the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) does double duty by both recording images and aligning all the optics in the whole telescope. That alignment was the trickiest part of building the instrument, says NIRCam principal investigator Marcia Rieke of the University of Arizona.

Alignment means getting all the light collected by the primary mirror to get to the right place in the final image. That’s crucial for Webb, because it has 18 separate segments that have to overlay their images perfectly in the final image, and because all those segments were built on the ground at room temperature but operate at cryogenic temperatures in space at zero gravity. When NASA recorded a test image of a single star after Webb first opened its primary mirror, it showed 18 separate bright spots, one from each segment. When alignment was completed on 11 March, the image from NIRcam showed a single star with six spikes caused by diffraction.

Image of a star with six-pointed spikes caused by diffraction Even when performing instrumental calibration tasks, JWST couldn’t help but showcase its stunning sensitivity to the infrared sky. The central star is what telescope technicians used to align JWST’s mirrors. But notice the distant galaxies and stars that photobombed the image too!NASA/STScI

Building a separate alignment system would have added to both the weight and cost of Webb, Rieke realized, and in the original 1995 plan for the telescope she proposed designing NIRCam so it could align the telescope optics once it was up in space as well as record images. “The only real compromise was that it required NIRCam to have exquisite image quality,” says Rieke, wryly. From a scientific point, she adds, using the instrument to align the telescope optics “is great because you know you’re going to have good image quality and it’s going to be aligned with you.” Alignment might be just a tiny bit off for other instruments. In the end, it took a team at Lockheed Martin to develop the computational tools to account for all the elements of thermal expansion.

Escalating costs and delays had troubled Webb for years. But for Feinberg, “commissioning has been a magical five months.” It began with the sight of sunlight hitting the mirrors. The segmented mirror deployed smoothly, and after the near-infrared cameras cooled, the mirrors focused one star into 18 spots, then aligned them to put the spots on top of each other. “Everything had to work to get it to [focus] that well,” he says. It’s been an intense time, but for Feinberg, a veteran of the Hubble repair mission, commissioning Webb was “a piece of cake.”

NASA announced that between May 23rd and 25th, one segment of the primary mirror had been dinged by a micrometeorite bigger than the agency had expected when it analyzed the potential results of such impacts. “Things do degrade over time,” Feinberg said. But he added that Webb had been engineered to minimize damage, and NASA said the event had not affected Webb’s operation schedule.

Corrections 26-28 July 2022: The story was updated a) to reflect the fact that the Lagrange point L2 where Webb now orbits is not that of the "Earth-moon system" (as the story had originally reported) but rather the Earth-sun system
and b) to correct misstatements in the original posting about Webb's hardware for controlling its orientation.

Corrections 12 Aug. 2022: Alistair Glasse's name was incorrectly spelled in a previous version of this story, as was NIRCam (which we'd spelled as NIRcam); Webb's tertiary mirror (we'd originally reported only its primary and secondary mirrors) was also called out in this version.

This article appears in the September 2022 print issue as “Inside the Universe Machine.”


Match ID: 86 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 144 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

U.N. Kills Any Plans to Use Mercury as a Rocket Propellant
Tue, 19 Apr 2022 18:00:01 +0000


A recent United Nations provision has banned the use of mercury in spacecraft propellant. Although no private company has actually used mercury propellant in a launched spacecraft, the possibility was alarming enough—and the dangers extreme enough—that the ban was enacted just a few years after one U.S.-based startup began toying with the idea. Had the company gone through with its intention to sell mercury propellant thrusters to some of the companies building massive satellite constellations over the coming decade, it would have resulted in Earth’s upper atmosphere being laced with mercury.

Mercury is a neurotoxin. It’s also bio-accumulative, which means it’s absorbed by the body at a faster rate than the body can remove it. The most common way to get mercury poisoning is through eating contaminated seafood. “It’s pretty nasty,” says Michael Bender, the international coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG). “Which is why this is one of the very few instances where the governments of the world came together pretty much unanimously and ratified a treaty.”

Bender is referring to the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury, a U.N. treaty named for a city in Japan whose residents suffered from mercury poisoning from a nearby chemical factory for decades. Because mercury pollutants easily find their way into the oceans and the atmosphere, it’s virtually impossible for one country to prevent mercury poisoning within its borders. “Mercury—it’s an intercontinental pollutant,” Bender says. “So it required a global treaty.”

Today, the only remaining permitted uses for mercury are in fluorescent lighting and dental amalgams, and even those are being phased out. Mercury is otherwise found as a by-product of other processes, such as the burning of coal. But then a company hit on the idea to use it as a spacecraft propellant.

In 2018, an employee at Apollo Fusion approached the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit that investigates environmental misconduct in the United States. The employee—who has remained anonymous—alleged that the Mountain View, Calif.–based space startup was planning to build and sell thrusters that used mercury propellant to multiple companies building low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations.

Four industry insiders ultimately confirmed that Apollo Fusion was building thrusters that utilized mercury propellant. Apollo Fusion, which was acquired by rocket manufacturing startup Astra in June 2021, insisted that the composition of its propellant mixture should be considered confidential information. The company withdrew its plans for a mercury propellant in April 2021. Astra declined to respond to a request for comment for this story.

Apollo Fusion wasn’t the first to consider using mercury as a propellant. NASA originally tested it in the 1960s and 1970s with two Space Electric Propulsion Tests (SERT), one of which was sent into orbit in 1970. Although the tests demonstrated mercury’s effectiveness as a propellant, the same concerns over the element’s toxicity that have seen it banned in many other industries halted its use by the space agency as well.

“I think it just sort of fell off a lot of folks’ radars,” says Kevin Bell, the staff counsel for PEER. “And then somebody just resurrected the research on it and said, ‘Hey, other than the environmental impact, this was a pretty good idea.’ It would give you a competitive advantage in what I imagine is a pretty tight, competitive market.”

That’s presumably why Apollo Fusion was keen on using it in their thrusters. Apollo Fusion as a startup emerged more or less simultaneously with the rise of massive LEO constellations that use hundreds or thousands of satellites in orbits below 2,000 kilometers to provide continual low-latency coverage. Finding a slightly cheaper, more efficient propellant for one large geostationary satellite doesn’t move the needle much. But doing the same for thousands of satellites that need to be replaced every several years? That’s a much more noticeable discount.

Were it not for mercury’s extreme toxicity, it would actually make an extremely attractive propellant. Apollo Fusion wanted to use a type of ion thruster called a Hall-effect thruster. Ion thrusters strip electrons from the atoms that make up a liquid or gaseous propellant, and then an electric field pushes the resultant ions away from the spacecraft, generating a modest thrust in the opposite direction. The physics of rocket engines means that the performance of these engines increases with the mass of the ion that you can accelerate.

Mercury is heavier than either xenon or krypton, the most commonly used propellants, meaning more thrust per expelled ion. It’s also liquid at room temperature, making it efficient to store and use. And it’s cheap—there’s not a lot of competition with anyone looking to buy mercury.

Bender says that ZMWG, alongside PEER, caught wind of Apollo Fusion marketing its mercury-based thrusters to at least three companies deploying LEO constellations—One Web, Planet Labs, and SpaceX. Planet Labs, an Earth-imaging company, has at least 200 CubeSats in low Earth orbit. One Web and SpaceX, both wireless-communication providers, have many more. One Web plans to have nearly 650 satellites in orbit by the end of 2022. SpaceX already has nearly 1,500 active satellites aloft in its Starlink constellation, with an eye toward deploying as many as 30,000 satellites before its constellation is complete. Other constellations, like Amazon’s Kuiper constellation, are also planning to deploy thousands of satellites.

In 2019, a group of researchers in Italy and the United States estimated how much of the mercury used in spacecraft propellant might find its way back into Earth’s atmosphere. They figured that a hypothetical LEO constellation of 2,000 satellites, each carrying 100 kilograms of propellant, would emit 20 tonnes of mercury every year over the course of a 10-year life span. Three quarters of that mercury, the researchers suggested, would eventually wind up in the oceans.

That amounts to 1 percent of global mercury emissions from a constellation only a fraction of the size of the one planned by SpaceX alone. And if multiple constellations adopted the technology, they would represent a significant percentage of global mercury emissions—especially, the researchers warned, as other uses of mercury are phased out as planned in the years ahead.

Fortunately, it’s unlikely that any mercury propellant thrusters will even get off the ground. Prior to the fourth meeting of the Minamata Convention, Canada, the European Union, and Norway highlighted the dangers of mercury propellant, alongside ZMWG. The provision to ban mercury usage in satellites was passed on 26 March 2022.

The question now is enforcement. “Obviously, there aren’t any U.N. peacekeepers going into space to shoot down” mercury-based satellites, says Bell. But the 137 countries, including the United States, who are party to the convention have pledged to adhere to its provisions—including the propellant ban.

The United States is notable in that list because as Bender explains, it did not ratify the Minamata Convention via the U.S. Senate but instead deposited with the U.N. an instrument of acceptance. In a 7 November 2013 statement (about one month after the original Minamata Convention was adopted), the U.S. State Department said the country would be able to fulfill its obligations “under existing legislative and regulatory authority.”

Bender says the difference is “weedy” but that this appears to mean that the U.S. government has agreed to adhere to the Minamata Convention’s provisions because it already has similar laws on the books. Except there is still no existing U.S. law or regulation banning mercury propellant. For Bender, that creates some uncertainty around compliance when the provision goes into force in 2025.

Still, with a U.S. company being the first startup to toy with mercury propellant, it might be ideal to have a stronger U.S. ratification of the Minamata Convention before another company hits on the same idea. “There will always be market incentives to cut corners and do something more dangerously,” Bell says.

Update 19 April 2022: In an email, a spokesperson for Astra stated that the company's propulsion system, the Astra Spacecraft Engine, does not use mercury. The spokesperson also stated that Astra has no plans to use mercury propellant and that the company does not have anything in orbit that uses mercury.

Updated 20 April 2022 to clarify that Apollo Fusion was building thrusters that used mercury, not that they had actually used them.


Match ID: 87 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 222 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

Meet the Lunar Gateway’s Robot Caretakers
Thu, 07 Apr 2022 18:40:09 +0000


An integral part of NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon this decade is the Lunar Gateway, a space station that will be humanity’s first permanent outpost outside of low Earth orbit. Gateway, a partnership between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is intended to support operations on the lunar surface while also serving as a staging point for exploration to Mars.

Gateway will be significantly smaller than the International Space Station (ISS), initially consisting of just two modules with additional modules to be added over time. The first pieces of the station to reach lunar orbit will be the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) attached to the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), scheduled to launch together on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in November 2024. The relatively small size of Gateway is possible because the station won’t be crewed most of the time—astronauts may pass through for a few weeks, but the expectation is that Gateway will spend about 11 months out of the year without anyone on board.


This presents some unique challenges for Gateway. On the ISS, astronauts spend a substantial amount of time on station upkeep, but Gateway will have to keep itself functional for extended periods without any direct human assistance.

“The things that the crew does on the International Space Station will need to be handled by Gateway on its own,” explains Julia Badger, Gateway autonomy system manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “There’s also a big difference in the operational paradigm. Right now, ISS has a mission control that’s full time. With Gateway, we’re eventually expecting to have just 8 hours a week of ground operations.” The hundreds of commands that the ISS receives every day to keep it running will still be necessary on Gateway—they’ll just have to come from Gateway itself, rather than from humans back on Earth.

“It’s a new way of thinking compared to ISS. If something breaks on Gateway, we either have to be able to live with it for a certain amount of time, or we’ve got to have the ability to remotely or autonomously fix it.” —Julia Badger, NASA JSC

To make this happen, NASA is developing a vehicle system manager, or VSM, that will act like the omnipresent computer system found on virtually every science-fiction starship. The VSM will autonomously manage all of Gateway’s functionality, taking care of any problems that come up, to the extent that they can be managed with clever software and occasional input from a distant human. “It’s a new way of thinking compared to ISS,” explains Badger. “If something breaks on Gateway, we either have to be able to live with it for a certain amount of time, or we’ve got to have the ability to remotely or autonomously fix it.”

While Gateway itself can be thought of as a robot of sorts, there’s a limited amount that can be reasonably and efficiently done through dedicated automated systems, and NASA had to find a compromise between redundancy and both complexity and mass. For example, there was some discussion about whether Gateway’s hatches should open and close on their own, and NASA ultimately decided to leave the hatches manually operated. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Gateway won’t be able to open its hatches without human assistance; it just means that there will be a need for robotic hands rather than human ones.

“I hope eventually we have robots up there that can open the hatches,” Badger tells us. She explains that Gateway is being designed with potential intravehicular robots (IVRs) in mind, including things like adding visual markers to important locations, placing convenient charging ports around the station interior, and designing the hatches such that the force required to open them is compatible with the capabilities of robotic limbs. Parts of Gateway’s systems may be modular as well, able to be removed and replaced by robots if necessary. “What we’re trying to do,” Badger says, “is make smart choices about Gateway’s design that don’t add a lot of mass but that will make it easier for a robot to work within the station.”

A human-sized white humanoid robot with a golden helmet and visor, in front of a task board on the International Space Station Robonaut at its test station in front of a manipulation task board on the ISS.JSC/NASA

NASA already has a substantial amount of experience with IVR. Robonaut 2, a full-size humanoid robot, spent several years on the International Space Station starting in 2011, learning how to perform tasks that would otherwise have to be done by human astronauts. More recently, a trio of cubical, toaster-size, free-flying robots called Astrobees have taken up residence on the ISS, where they’ve been experimenting with autonomous sensing and navigation. A NASA project called ISAAC (Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking) is currently exploring how robots like Astrobee could be used for a variety of tasks on Gateway, from monitoring station health to autonomously transferring cargo, although at least in the near term, in Badger’s opinion, “maintenance of Gateway, like using robots that can switch out broken components, is going to be more important than logistics types of tasks.”

Badger believes that a combination of a generalized mobile manipulator like Robonaut 2 and a free flyer like Astrobee make for a good team, and this combination is currently the general concept for Gateway IVR. This is not to say that the intravehicular robots that end up on Gateway will look like the robots that have been working on the ISS, but they’ll be inspired by them, and will leverage all of the experience that NASA has gained with its robots on ISS so far. It might also be useful to have a limited number of specialized robots, Badger says. “For example, if there was a reason to get behind a rack, you may want a snake-type of robot for that.”

A casually dressed astronaut holds a toaster-sized cubical robot on the International Space Station An Astrobee robot (this one is named Bumble) on the ISS.JSC/NASA

While NASA is actively preparing for intravehicular robots on Gateway, such robots do not yet exist, and the agency may not be building these robots itself, instead relying on industry partners to deliver designs that meet NASA’s requirements. At launch, and likely for the first several years at least, Gateway will have to take care of itself without internal robotic assistants. However, one of the goals of Gateway is to operate itself completely autonomously for up to three weeks without any contact with Earth at all, mimicking the three-week solar conjunction between Earth and Mars where the sun blocks any communications between the two planets. “I think that we will get IVR on board,” Badger says. “If we really want Gateway to be able to take care of itself for 21 days, IVR is going to be a very important part of that. And having a robot is absolutely something that I think is going to be necessary as we move on to Mars.”

“Having a robot is absolutely something that I think is going to be necessary as we move on to Mars.” —Julia Badger, NASA JSC

Intravehicular robots are just half of the robotic team that will be necessary to keep Gateway running autonomously long-term. Space stations rely on complex external infrastructure for power, propulsion, thermal control, and much more. Since 2001, the ISS has been home to Canadarm2, a 17.6-meter robotic arm, which is able to move around the station to grasp and manipulate objects while under human control from either inside the station or from the ground.

The Canadian Space Agency, in partnership with space technology company MDA, is developing a new robotic-arm system for Gateway, called Canadarm3, scheduled to launch in 2027. Canadarm3 will include an 8.5-meter-long arm for grappling spacecraft and moving large objects, as well as a smaller, more dexterous robotic arm that can be used for delicate tasks. The smaller arm can even repair the larger arm if necessary. But what really sets Canadarm3 apart from its predecessors is how it’s controlled, according to Daniel Rey, Gateway chief engineer and systems manager at CSA. “One of the very novel things about Canadarm3 is its ability to operate autonomously, without any crew required,” Rey says. This capability relies on a new generation of software and hardware that gives the arm a sense of touch as well as the ability to react to its environment without direct human supervision.

“With Canadarm3, we realize that if we want to get ready for Mars, more autonomy will be required.” —Daniel Rey, CSA

Even though Gateway will be a thousand times farther away from Earth than the ISS, Rey explains that the added distance (about 400,000 kilometers) isn’t what really necessitates Canadarm3’s added autonomy. “Surprisingly, the location of Gateway in its orbit around the moon has a time delay to Earth that is not all that different from the time delay in low Earth orbit when you factor in various ground stations that signals have to pass through,” says Rey. “With Canadarm3, we realize that if we want to get ready for Mars, where that will no longer be the case, more autonomy will be required.”

Canadarm3’s autonomous tasks on Gateway will include external inspection, unloading logistics vehicles, deploying science payloads, and repairing Gateway by swapping damaged components with spares. Rey tells us that there will also be a science logistics airlock, with a moving table that can be used to pass equipment in and out of Gateway. “It’ll be possible to deploy external science, or to bring external systems inside for repair, and for future internal robotic systems to cooperate with Canadarm3. I think that’ll be a really exciting thing to see.”

Even though it’s going to take a couple of extra years for Gateway’s robotic residents to arrive, the station will be operating mostly autonomously (by necessity) as soon as the Power and Propulsion Element and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost begin their journey to lunar orbit in November o2024. Several science payloads will be along for the ride, including heliophysics and space weather experiments.

Gateway itself, though, is arguably the most important experiment of all. Its autonomous systems, whether embodied in internal and external robots or not, will be undergoing continual testing, and Gateway will need to prove itself before we’re ready to trust its technology to take us into deep space. In addition to being able to operate for 21 days without communications, one of Gateway’s eventual requirements is to be able to function for up to three years without any crew visits. This is the level of autonomy and reliability that we’ll need to be prepared for our exploration of Mars, and beyond.


Match ID: 88 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 234 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

The big picture: Bruno Barbey captures life on the road in 1960s Palermo
Sun, 27 Nov 2022 07:00:14 GMT

The Magnum photographer’s image of a family in Sicily recalls Fellini and Visconti in its romantic depiction of everyday Italian life

Bruno Barbey chanced upon this family defying gravity on their dad’s scooter in Palermo in 1963. The French-Moroccan photographer had been travelling in Italy for a couple of years by then, restless for exactly this kind of image, with its seductive mix of humour and authenticity. Has there ever been a better articulation of contrasting roles in the patriarchal family? Father sitting comfortably in his jacket and cap and smiling for the camera, while behind him his possibly pregnant wife sees trouble ahead, as she and their three kids and their big checked bag compete for precarious discomfort.

Barbey, then 22, had gone to Italy to try to find pictures that captured “a national spirit” as the country sought to rediscover the dolce vita in cities still recovering from war. He travelled in an old VW van and in Palermo in particular he located scenes that might have been choreographed for the working-class heroes of the Italian neorealist films, the self-absorbed dreamers of Fellini and Visconti (The Leopard, the latter’s Hollywood epic set in Sicily was released in the same year). Barbey’s camera with its wide angle lens picked up the detail of vigorous crowd scenes among street children and barflies and religious processions. His book, The Italians, now republished, is a time capsule of that already disappearing black-and-white world of priests and mafiosi and nightclub girls and nuns.

Les Italiens (French edition) by Bruno Barbey is republished by delpire & co

Continue reading...
Match ID: 89 Score: 15.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 aliens

Twitter Allows Russian Officials to Share Antisemitic Cartoon of Zelenskyy
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 03:34:28 +0000

Elon Musk’s Twitter permitted a Russian Embassy account to post a cartoon that echoed Nazi propaganda in its depiction of Ukraine’s Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The post Twitter Allows Russian Officials to Share Antisemitic Cartoon of Zelenskyy appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 90 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

Georgia Voting Numbers Do Indeed Show Youth Surge
Tue, 22 Nov 2022 19:17:36 +0000

The number of young voters in Georgia more than doubled since 2014, counter to the narrative provided by David Shor.

The post Georgia Voting Numbers Do Indeed Show Youth Surge appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 91 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

Video Friday: Little Robot, Big Stairs
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 16:43:36 +0000


Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a robotic system that enables a low-cost and relatively small legged robot to climb and descend stairs nearly its height; traverse rocky, slippery, uneven, steep and varied terrain; walk across gaps; scale rocks and curbs, and even operate in the dark.

[ CMU ]

This robot is designed as a preliminary platform for humanoid robot research. The platform will be further extended with soles as well as upper limbs. In this video, the current lower limb version of the platform shows its capability in traversing uneven terrains without an active or passive ankle joint. The underactuation nature of the robot system has been well addressed with our locomotion-control framework, which also provides a new perspective on the leg design of bipedal robots.

[ CLEAR Lab ]

Thanks, Zejun!

Inbiodroid is a startup “dedicated to the development of fully immersive telepresence technologies that create a deeper connection between people and their environment.” Hot off the ANA Avatar XPrize competition, they’re doing a Kickstarter to fund the next generation of telepresence robots.

[ Kickstarter ] via [ Inbiodroid ]

Thanks, Alejandro!

A robot that can feel what a therapist feels when treating a patient, that can adjust the intensity of rehabilitation exercises at any time according to the patient's abilities and needs, and that can thus go on for hours without getting tired: It seems like fiction, and yet researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Imec have now finished a prototype that unites all these skills in one robot.

[ VUB ]

Thanks, Bram!

Self-driving bikes present some special challenges, as this excellent video graphically demonstrates.

[ Paper ]

Pickle robots unload trucks. This is a short overview of the Pickle Robot Unload System in action at the end of October 2022—autonomously picking floor-loaded freight to unload a trailer. As a robotic system built on AI and advanced sensors, the system gets better and faster all the time.

[ Pickle ]

Learning agile skills can be challenging with reward shaping. Imitation learning provides an alternative solution by assuming access to decent expert references. However, such experts are not always available. We propose Wasserstein Adversarial Skill Imitation (WASABI), which acquires agile behaviors from partial and potentially physically incompatible demonstrations. In our work, Solo, a quadruped robot, learns highly dynamic skills (for example, backflips) from only handheld human demonstrations.

WASABI!

[ WASABI ]

NASA and the European Space Agency are developing plans for one of the most ambitious campaigns ever attempted in space: bringing the first samples of Mars material safely back to Earth for detailed study. The diverse set of scientifically curated samples now being collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover could help scientists answer the question of whether ancient life ever arose on the Red Planet.

I thought I was promised some helicopters?

[ NASA ]

A Sanctuary general-purpose robot picks up and sorts medicine pills.

Remotely controlled, if that wasn’t clear.

[ Sanctuary ]

I don’t know what’s going on here, but it scares me.

[ KIMLAB ]

The Canadian Space Agency plans to send a rover to the moon as early as 2026 to explore a polar region. The mission will demonstrate key technologies and accomplish meaningful science. Its objectives are to gather imagery, measurements, and data on the surface of the moon, as well as to have the rover survive an entire night on the moon. Lunar nights, which last about 14 Earth days, are extremely cold and dark, posing a significant technological challenge.

[ CSA ]

Covariant Robotic Induction automates previously manual induction processes. This video shows the Covariant Robotic Induction solution picking a wide range of item types from totes, scanning bar codes, and inducting items onto a unit sorter. Note the robot’s ability to effectively handle items that are traditionally difficult to pick, such as transparent polybagged apparel and small, oddly shaped health and beauty items, and place them precisely onto individual trays.

[ Covariant ]

The solution will integrate Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot; the ExynPak, powered by ExynAI; and the Trimble X7 total station. It will enable fully autonomous missions inside complex and dynamic construction environments, which can result in consistent and precise reality capture for production and quality-control workflows.

[ Exyn ]

Our most advanced programmable robot yet is back and better than ever. Sphero RVR+ includes an advanced gearbox to improve torque and payload capacity; enhanced sensors, including an improved color sensor; and an improved rechargeable and swappable battery.

$279.

[ Sphero ]

I’m glad Starship is taking this seriously, although it’s hard to know from this video how well the robots behave when conditions are less favorable.

[ Starship ]

Complexity, cost, and power requirements for the actuation of individual robots can play a large factor in limiting the size of robotic swarms. Here we present PCBot, a minimalist robot that can precisely move on an orbital shake table using a bi-stable solenoid actuator built directly into its PCB. This allows the actuator to be built as part of the automated PCB manufacturing process, greatly reducing the impact it has on manual assembly.

[ Paper ]

Drone-racing world champion Thomas Bitmatta designed an indoor drone-racing track for ETH Zurich’s autonomous high-speed racing drones, and in something like half an hour, the autonomous drones were able to master the track at superhuman speeds (with the aid of a motion-capture system).

[ ETH RSL ] via [ BMS Racing ]

Thanks, Paul!

Moravec’s paradox is the observation that many things that are difficult for robots to do come easily to humans, and vice versa. Stanford University professor Chelsea Finn has been tasked to explain this concept to 5 different people: a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert.

[ Wired ]

Roberto Calandra from Meta AI gives a talk about “Perceiving, Understanding, and Interacting Through Touch.”

[ UPenn ]

AI advancements have been motivated and inspired by human intelligence for decades. How can we use AI to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world and ourselves? How can we leverage AI to enrich our lives? In his Tanner Lecture, Eric Horvitz, chief science officer at Microsoft, will explore these questions and more, tracing the arc of intelligence from its origins and evolution in humans to its manifestations and prospects in the tools we create and use.

[ UMich ]


Match ID: 92 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/17/2022
Thu, 17 Nov 2022 16:00:52 +0000
RS Extravehicular Activity (EVA) #55: During today’s EVA, FE-4 Sergey Prokopyev (EV1) and FE-5 Dmitry Petelin (EV2) performed a multitude of tasks including preparation of a radiator and an airlock for installation on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM). The MRM2 hatch opened at 8:41 AM CT. The following tasks were completed: Installation of STRELA adapter …
Match ID: 93 Score: 12.86 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 10 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

New Ethernet Cyberattack Crunches Critical Systems
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 16:00:01 +0000


Ethernet, like all communication networks, continues to get faster with the passing years. In recent years, a subset of ethernet networks, called Time-Triggered Ethernet (TTE), has emerged. TTE networks are built around precise signal timing, using redundant pathways and careful switching to ensure that information arrives precisely when it needs to. Since its introduction, TTE has found a home in flight-critical aircraft systems, NASA spacecraft, and power-generating wind turbines, to name a few applications.

The consequences for such systems of a TTE network falling out of sync would be understandably catastrophic. Now, researchers have described a first-of-its-kind attack, called PCspooF, that can do just that. The group will be presenting their work at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy conference in May 2023.


IEEE Spectrum spoke with Andrew Loveless and Baris Kasikci, two of the researchers who discovered the attack, about how PCspooF works, what it means for timing-sensitive networks, and some general ways in which the attack can be blocked. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Loveless and Kasikci on:

To start from the beginning: Time-Triggered Ethernet has been around for a few years at this point. So where did it come from and what is it used for?

A smiling man in a burgundy hoodie. Andrew Loveless

Andrew Loveless: The commercial TTE technology used in practice today evolved from the academic TT-Ethernet project conducted at TU Wien in the early 2000s. The goal of the project was to take the concept of “time-triggered” communication used in earlier bus-based protocols like TTP/C and apply them to switched Ethernet. That way users got the benefits of both worlds—the determinism of time-triggered communication and the high data rates and widespread availability of Ethernet.

To our knowledge, the protocol was first commercialized by TTTech and Honeywell around 2008. GE Fanuc also started developing TTE products for the aviation domain around that time.

It’s hard to identify the first use of TTE for a mission-critical system. One of the earliest seems to be by Sikorsky, which started working with TTE technology in 2008 and used it in the S-97 Raider helicopter, which first flew in 2015. As of 2009, there were also articles published reporting that NASA and Lockheed Martin were using TTE for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, which was originally part of the Constellation Program and is now being used for Artemis. Vestas seemingly started working with TTE for wind turbine control applications around 2010 and has since used TTE in deployed turbines.

Today, TTE is used in a range of mission-critical and safety-critical systems and vehicles.

Back to top

How do these TTE networks differ from the kinds of “best effort” networks that people are likely more familiar with?

Loveless: For context, there is a push in industry right now for large embedded and cyberphysical systems to adopt mixed-criticality networks. This means that instead of using separate networks and buses for noncritical devices and critical devices, there is a push to have one network that both critical and noncritical devices can share. This approach has a lot of benefits, including lower size, weight, and power—in general, there are fewer cables and switches—and lower development time and costs, because engineers can focus on using just one technology.

Time-Triggered Ethernet (TTE) is one networking technology that is a part of this trend. Some others include Time Sensitive Networking, SpaceWire and SpaceFibre, RapidIO, AFDX, and more. TTE has multiple different traffic classes that are used over the same network. The traffic class with the highest criticality and priority is time-triggered, which means that the traffic is exactly prescheduled ahead of time to have specific timing properties—for example, to avoid contention in the switch and guarantee a certain worst-case latency and jitter—and is sent simultaneously over redundant network paths. That way the designer can be sure their messages are guaranteed to arrive at the destination successfully and on time. So the TTE technology has this time-triggered traffic class, which is also commonly referred to as TTE.

In addition, TTE technology supports a best-effort traffic class, which just means that the traffic follows the rules of standard Ethernet. So here the traffic is not redundant, and is not scheduled in time to have certain timing properties. The traffic is referred to as best effort because the TTE network does not provide any guarantees for it—it simply forwards best-effort traffic when possible between the critical TTE messages. Best-effort traffic is primarily used for allowing noncritical COTS devices to share the TTE network with the critical systems.

You mentioned the industry push for mixed-criticality networks and the benefits they bring (in cost, development time, energy consumption, and so on). It seems that in an ideal world, TTE networks wouldn’t share infrastructure with best-effort traffic. Is it as simple as that’s just not practical to do in most cases?

Loveless: Lots of COTS devices do not have the ability to generate time-triggered traffic. So, if one wants to include COTS devices in their system, they generally need to support standard (best-effort) Ethernet. In that case, I think the ideal is to have one network that provides perfect isolation between TT and BE traffic flows and allows all TT traffic to meet their timing requirements. In other words, that single network provides the illusion that each TT traffic flow is being carried over a private point-to-point channel from the sender to the receivers. That way, one gets all the safety and security benefits of having completely isolated networks, while only having the cost of a single network.

What exactly is PCspooF, and how does it affect TTE networks?

Loveless: PCspooF is a new attack on TTE networks. It allows a single Ethernet device, such as a best-effort device, with a small amount of malicious circuitry to tear down synchronization of the TTE network for a small amount of time. While this happens, it prevents the critical TTE devices from being able to communicate. [As a result], messages that were sent get dropped. The duration of this effect after each successful attack is around one-half second to one full second.

Importantly, the attack allows the attacker to tear down synchronization on all redundant TTE network planes, even if the attacker is connected to only one of the planes. Also, the attack can be successfully repeated at a high rate (as often as every 10 to 15 seconds).

Back to top

You mentioned PCspooF is a new attack. Is it also accurate that it’s the first attack to exploit TTE networks?

Loveless: Yes. To our knowledge, PCspooF is the first attack to compromise any of TTE’s guarantees.

So how does PCspooF work? What vulnerability or flaw is it exploiting?

Loveless: There are two main vulnerabilities that PCspooF exploits. The first is a vulnerability in Ethernet itself, which is that if an Ethernet switch experiences a sudden reset while a frame is in the middle of being forwarded, the front of that frame can be cut off, and the remainder of the frame will still be sent. PCspooF uses electromagnetic interference to cause this to happen in TTE switches. The attacker stores a malicious message inside a benign frame, sends the frame, then conducts EMI into the switch. The switch then strips the header off the frame and reveals the malicious frame. This mechanism allows the attacker to send a malicious frame that they otherwise should not be allowed to send.

The second vulnerability PCspooF exploits is in the TTE synchronization protocol, which was standardized in SAE AS6802. In that protocol, there is an important step where a select number of switches, called compression masters, send a special synchronization message called a protocol control frame to the TTE end nodes, which they use to correct their clocks. If the contents of this messages are malicious, it will cause the TTE devices to lose sync. This is exactly what PCspooF does—it uses the above electromagnetic interference mechanism to spoof this specific protocol control frame (PCF) in order to cause devices to lose sync. Hence the name PCspooF.

How did you discover PCspooF? Was it through practical experimentation, theoretical work and verification, or some other method?

Loveless: From studying the SAE AS6802 standard, we determined that the right protocol control frame from a switch could temporarily disrupt sync. From there, the main challenge was to determine how to get that frame into the network—which we determined through practical experimentation and by building on top of related work on packet-in-packet attacks.

One example you give of how PCspooF can lead to a catastrophic outcome is through simulations you ran modeled after NASA’s (now-shelved) Asteroid Redirect Mission, which would have aimed to move an asteroid into lunar orbit so that astronauts could pay it a visit. How did PCspooF impact the simulations?

Baris Kasikci

Baris Kasikci: We tested our attack at NASA Johnson Space Center on a test-bed with several real TTE switches and end systems. That gave us good information about how difficult it is to actually perform the attack and what the impact is on the network itself. However, we also wanted to determine what the impact would be in a real system. For example, if someone executed this attack during a real spaceflight mission, what would the damage be?

For this purpose, we set up a NASA simulation in the test-bed, where a representative capsule was flying into space to dock with another spacecraft. We ran the mission multiple times successfully to get a feel for the expected behavior. Then we hooked up a small malicious device to one of the TTE switches to execute the attack while the mission was in progress. What happened is that as the mission progressed, the PCspooF attack repeatedly caused multiple message drops and late message arrivals, which caused the spacecraft to navigate off course. So rather than going up and docking with the other spacecraft, the capsule actually came in at the wrong angle and flew right past it. So we were able to show that the attack has a significant effect on a “real” system (as real as we could get) running real TTE hardware.

A room with large computer module and desk with a chair The ANVIL at the NASA Johnson Space Center.NASA

Back to top

In your paper, you list several possible strategies to thwart PCspooF attacks. Broadly speaking, how would those strategies help?

Kasikci: We identified several different mitigations that are effective against our attack. In general, they fit into two basic categories. The first category is to block a device from conducting electromagnetic interference into your TTE switch. So one way someone could do that would be using fiber Ethernet cables instead of copper, since fiber cannot conduct an electrical signal. Another option would be to use some sort of optical isolator on the cable between your untrusted device and the switch.

Another option is to make it so that, even if the attacker does inject electromagnetic interference into the switch and causes this malicious protocol control frame to go out, the system won’t be affected by it. You can do this by altering the topology of your network, so that the spoofed PCFs never follow the same path as legitimate PCFs. That way, devices can always tell that spoofed PCFs are not legitimate and drop them. Both of these are things designers can do today to protect themselves from this attack.

Back to top


Match ID: 94 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

NASA Leaders to Participate in Annual Global Climate Conference
Fri, 04 Nov 2022 14:52 EDT
NASA will participate in the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which begins Sunday, Nov. 6, and runs through Friday, Nov. 18. The COP27 summit brings together countries from around the world to increase ambition by implementing existing goals and strengthening commitments to solutions th
Match ID: 95 Score: 12.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 23 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Aligning the Eyes of the Universe Machine
Fri, 09 Sep 2022 17:39:58 +0000


The James Webb Space Telescope, in just a few months of operation, has begun to change our view of the universe. Its images—more detailed than what was possible before—show space aglow with galaxies, some of them formed very soon after the big bang.

None of this would be possible without the work of a team led by Scott Acton, the lead wavefront sensing and control scientist for the Webb at Ball Aerospace & Technologies in Colorado. He and his colleagues developed the systems that align the 18 separate segments of the Webb’s primary mirror with its smaller secondary mirror and science instruments. To produce clear images in the infrared wavelengths the telescope uses, the segments have to be within tens of nanometers of the shape specified in the spacecraft design.

Acton grew up in Wyoming and spent more than 20 years on the Webb team. IEEE Spectrum spoke with Acton after his team had finished aligning the telescope’s optics in space. This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Tell your story. What got you started?

Scott Acton: When I was seven-years-old, my dad brought home a new television. And he gave me the old television to take apart. I was just enthralled by what I saw inside this television. And from that moment on I was defined by electronics. You look inside an old television and there are mechanisms, there are smells and colors and sights and for a seven-year-old kid, it was just the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.

Fast-forward 25 years and I’m working in the field of adaptive optics. And eventually that led to wavefront sensing and controls, which led to the Webb telescope.

sky with bright stars and gaseous activity Called the Cosmic Cliffs, Webb’s seemingly three-dimensional picture looks like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening. In reality, it is the edge of the giant, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, and the tallest “peaks” in this image are about 7 light-years high. NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI

Talk about your work getting the telescope ready for flight. You worked on it for more than 20 years.

Acton: Well, we had to invent all of the wavefront sensing and controls. None of that technology really existed in 2001, so we started from the ground up with concepts and simple experiments. Then more complicated, very complicated experiments and eventually something known as TRL 6 technology—Technology Readiness Level 6—which demonstrated that we could do this in a flightlike environment. And then it was a question of taking this technology, algorithms, understanding it and implementing it into very robust procedures, documentation, and software, so that it could then be applied on the flight telescope.

What was it like finally to launch?

Acton: Well, I’ve got to say, there was a lot of nervousness, at least on my part. I was thinking we had a 70 percent chance of mission success, or something like that. It’s like sending your kid off to college—this instrument that we’d been looking at and thinking about.

The Ariane 5 vehicle is so reliable. I didn’t think there was going to be any problem with it, but deployment starts, basically, minutes after launch. So, for me, the place to be was at a computer console [at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore].

And then there were a lot of things that had to work.

Acton: Yes, right. But there are some things that that are interesting. They have these things called nonexplosive actuators [used to secure the spacecraft during launch]. There are about 130 of them. And you actually can’t test them. You build them and they get used, basically, once. If you do reuse one, well, it’s now a different actuator because you have to solder it back together. So you can’t qualify the part, but what you can do is qualify the process.

We could have still had a mission if some didn’t fire, but most of them were absolutely necessary for the success of the mission. So just ask yourself, let’s suppose you want to have a 95 percent chance of success. What number raised to the 130th power is equal to 0.95? That number is basically one. These things had to be perfect.

I remember walking home one night, talking on the phone to my wife, Heidi, and saying, “If I’m wrong about this I’ve just completely screwed up the telescope.” She said, “Scott, that’s why you’re there.” That was her way of telling me to cowboy up. The responsibility had to come down to somebody and in that moment, it was me.

I think the public perception was that the Webb was in very good shape and the in-flight setup all went very well. Would you say that’s accurate?

Acton: Early on in the mission there were hiccups, but other than that, I’d say things just went beyond our wildest expectations. Part of that comes down to the fact that my team and I had commissioned the telescope 100 times in simulations. And we always made it a little harder. I think that served us well because when we got to the real telescope, it was quite robust. It just worked.

Take us through the process of aligning the telescope.

Acton: The first image we got back from the telescope was 2 February, in the middle of the night. Most people had gone home, but I was there, and a lot of other people were too. We just pointed the telescope at the Large Magellanic Cloud, which has lots and lots of stars in it, and took images on the near-infrared cameras. People were really happy to see these images because they were looking basically to make sure that the science instruments worked.

But some of us were really concerned with that image, because you could see some very significant astigmatism—stronger than we were expecting to see from our simulations. Later we would learn that the telescope’s secondary mirror was off in translation—about 1.5 millimeters along the deployment axis and about a millimeter in the other axis. And the primary mirror segments were clocked a bit from the perfectly aligned state.

Lee Feinberg, the telescope lead at NASA Goddard, texted me and said, “Scott, why can’t you just simulate this to see if you can get some images that bad?” So that morning I ran a simulation and was able to reproduce almost exactly what we were seeing in these images. We realized that we were not going to have any major problems with the wavefront.

Describe the cadence of your work during commissioning. What would a day be like?

Acton: One of the rules we set up very early on was that in terms of wavefront sensing and control, we would always have two people sitting in front of the computers at any given time. Anytime anything significant happened, I always wanted to make sure that I was there, so I got an apartment [near the institute in Baltimore]. From my door to the door of the of the Mission Operations Center was a 7-minute walk.

sky with bright star in middle with gases In this mosaic image stretching 340 light-years across, Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) displays the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region in a new light, including tens of thousands of never-before-seen young stars that were previously shrouded in cosmic dust.NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/Webb ERO Production Team

There were certainly times during the process where it had a very large pucker factor, if you will. We couldn’t point the telescope reliably at the very beginning. And a lot of our software, for the early steps of commissioning, depended on the immutability of telescope pointing. We wanted to have the telescope repeatedly pointed to within a couple of arc-seconds and it was closer to 20 or 30. Because of that, some of the initial moves to align the telescope had to be calculated, if you will, by hand.

I remember walking home one night, talking on the phone to my wife, Heidi, and saying, “If I’m wrong about this I’ve just completely screwed up the telescope.” She said, “Scott, that’s why you’re there.” That was her way of telling me to cowboy up. The responsibility had to come down to somebody and in that moment, it was me.

But when the result came back, we could see the images. We pointed the telescope at a bright isolated star and then we could see, one at a time, 18 spots appearing in the middle of our main science detector. I remember a colleague saying, “I now believe we’re going to completely align the telescope.” He felt in his mind that if we could get past that step, that everything else was downhill.

You’re trying to piece together the universe. It’s hard to get it right, and very easy to make mistakes. But we did it.

Building the Webb was, of course, a big, complicated project. Do you think there are any particular lessons to be drawn from it that people in the future might find useful?

Acton: Here are a couple of really big ones that apply to wavefront sensing and control. One is that there are multiple institutions involved—Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace, the Goddard Space Flight Center, the Space Telescope Science Institute—and the complication of having all these institutional lines. It could have been very, very difficult to navigate. So very early on we decided not to have any lines. We were a completely badgeless team. Anybody could talk to anybody. If someone said, “No, I think this is wrong, you should do it this way,” even if they didn’t necessarily have contractual responsibility, everybody listened.

Another big lesson we learned was about the importance of the interplay between experimentation and simulation. We built a one-sixth scale model, a fully functional optical model of the telescope, and it’s still working. It allowed us, very early on, to know what was going to be difficult. Then we could address those issues in simulation. That understanding, the interplay between experimentation and modeling and simulations, was absolutely essential.

Recognizing of course, that it’s very early, do you yet have a favorite image?

Acton: My favorite image, so far, was one that was taken during the last real wavefront activity that we did as part of commissioning. It was called a thermal slew test. The telescope has a large sunshield, but the sunshield can be at different angles with respect to the sun. So to make sure it was stable, we aimed it at a bright star we used as a guide star, put it in one orientation, and stayed there for five or six days. And then we switched to a different orientation for five or six days. It turned out to be quite stable. But how do you know that the telescope wasn’t rolling about the guide star? To check this, we took a series of test images with the redundant fine-guidance sensor. As you can imagine, when you have a 6-1/2 meter telescope at L2 away from any competing light sources that is cooled to 50 kelvins, yes, it is sensitive. Even just one 20-minute exposure is going to just have unbelievable detail regarding the deep universe. Imagine what happens if you take 100 of those images and average them together. We came up with an image of just some random part of the sky.

james webb telescope image of bright lights against a dark background Scott Acton’s favorite Webb image: A test image of a random part of the sky, shot with the Webb’s fine-guidance sensor. The points with six-pointed diffraction patterns are stars; all other points are galaxies. NASA/CSA/FGS

I sent this image to James Larkin at UCLA, and he looked at it and estimated that that single image had 15,000 galaxies in it. Every one of those galaxies probably has between 100 [billion] and 200 billion stars.

I don’t talk about religion too much when it comes to this, but I must have had in my mind a Biblical reference to the stars singing. I pictured all of those galaxies as singing, as if this was a way for the universe to express joy that after all these years, we could finally see them. It was quite an emotional experience for me and for many people.

You realized that there was so much out there, and you weren’t even really looking for it yet? You were still phasing the telescope?

Acton: That’s right. I guess I I’m not sure what I expected. I figured you’d just see dark sky. Well, there is no dark sky. Dark sky is a myth. Galaxies are everywhere.

Finally, we got to our first diffraction-limited image [with the telescope calibrated for science observations for the first time]. And that’s the way the telescope is operating now.

Several days later, about 70 of us got together—astronomers, engineers, and other team members. A member of the team—his name is Anthony Galyer—and I had gone halves several years earlier and purchased a bottle of cognac from 1906, the year that James Webb was born. We toasted James Webb and the telescope that bears his name.


Match ID: 96 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 79 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

MOXIE Shows How to Make Oxygen on Mars
Thu, 08 Sep 2022 15:27:59 +0000


Planning for the return journey is an integral part of the preparations for a crewed Mars mission. Astronauts will require a total mass of about 50 tonnes of rocket propellent for the ascent vehicle that will lift them off the planet’s surface, including 31 tonnes of oxygen approximately. The less popular option is for crewed missions to carry the required oxygen themselves. But scientists are optimistic that it could instead be produced from the carbon dioxide–rich Martian atmosphere itself, using a system called MOXIE.

The Mars Oxygen ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) Experiment is an 18-kilogram unit housed within the Perseverance rover on Mars. The unit is “the size of a toaster,” adds Jeffrey Hoffman, professor of aerospace engineering at MIT. Its job is to electrochemically break down carbon dioxide collected from the Martian atmosphere into oxygen and carbon monoxide. It also tests the purity of the oxygen.

Between February 2021, when it arrived on Mars aboard the Perseverance, and the end of the year, MOXIE has had several successful test runs. According to a review of the system by Hoffman and colleagues, published in Science Advances, it has demonstrated its ability to produce oxygen during both night and day, when temperatures can vary by over 100 ºC. The generation and purity rates of oxygen also meet requirements to produce rocket propellent and for breathing. The authors assert that a scaled-up version of MOXIE could produce the required oxygen for lift-off as well as for the astronauts to breathe.

Next question: How to power any oxygen-producing factories that NASA can land on Mars? Perhaps via NASA’s Kilopower fission reactors?

MOXIE is a first step toward a much larger and more complex system to support the human exploration of Mars. The researchers estimate a required generation rate of 2 to 3 kilograms per hour, compared with the current MOXIE rate of 6 to 8 grams per hour, to produce enough oxygen for lift-off for a crew arriving 26 months later. “So we’re talking about a system that’s a couple of hundred times bigger than MOXIE,” Hoffman says.

They calculate this rate accounting for eight months to get to Mars, followed by some time to set up the system. “We figure you'd probably have maybe 14 months to make all the oxygen.” Further, he says, the produced oxygen would have to be liquefied to be used a rocket propellant, something the current version of MOXIE doesn’t do.

MOXIE also currently faces several design constraints because, says Hoffman, a former astronaut, “our only ride to Mars was inside the Perseverance rover.” This limited the amount of power available to operate the unit, the amount of heat they could produce, the volume and the mass.

“MOXIE does not work nearly as efficiently as a stand-alone system that was specifically designed would,” says Hoffman. Most of the time, it’s turned off. “Every time we want to make oxygen, we have to heat it up to 800 ºC, so most of the energy goes into heating it up and running the compressor, whereas in a well-designed stand-alone system, most of the energy will go into the actual electrolysis, into actually producing the oxygen.”

However, there are still many kinks to iron out for the scaling-up process. To begin with, any oxygen-producing system will need lots of power. Hoffman thinks nuclear power is the most likely option, maybe NASA’s Kilopower fission reactors. The setup and the cabling would certainly be challenging, he says. “You’re going to have to launch to all of these nuclear reactors, and of course, they’re not going to be in exactly the same place as the [other] units,” he says. "So, robotically, you’re going to have to connect to the electrical cables to bring power to the oxygen-producing unit.”

Then there is the solid oxide electrolysis units, which Hoffman points out are carefully machined systems. Fortunately, the company that makes them, OxEon, has already designed, built, and tested a full-scale unit, a hundred times bigger than the one on MOXIE. “Several of those units would be required to produce oxygen at the quantities that we need,” Hoffman says.

He also adds that at present, there is no redundancy built into MOXIE. If any part fails, the whole system dies. “If you’re counting on a system to produce oxygen for rocket propellant and for breathing, you need very high reliability, which means you’re going to need quite a few redundant units.”

Moreover, the system has to be pretty much autonomous, Hoffman says. “It has to be able to monitor itself, run itself.” For testing purposes, every time MOXIE is powered up, there is plenty of time to plan. A full-scale MOXIE system, though, would have to run continuously, and for that it has to be able to adjust automatically to changes in the Mars atmosphere, which can vary by a factor of two over a year, and between nighttime and daytime temperature differences.


Match ID: 97 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 80 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

China’s Moon Missions Shadow NASA Artemis’s Pace
Wed, 07 Sep 2022 16:56:57 +0000


This past weekend, NASA scrubbed the Artemis I uncrewed mission to the moon and back. Reportedly, the space agency will try again to launch the inaugural moon mission featuring the gargantuan Space Launch System (SLS) at the end of this month or sometime in October. Meanwhile, half a world away, China is progressing on its own step-by-step program to put both robotic and, eventually, crewed spacecraft on the lunar surface and keep pace with NASA-led achievements.

Asia’s rapidly growing space power has already made a number of impressive lunar leaps but will need to build on these in the coming years. Ambitious sample-return missions, landings at the lunar south pole, testing the ability to 3D print using materials from regolith, and finally sending astronauts on a short-term visit to our celestial neighbor are in the cards before the end of the decade.

The next step, expected around 2024, is Chang’e-6: an unprecedented attempt to collect rock samples from the far side of the moon.

The mission will build on two recent major space achievements. In 2019, China became the first country to safely land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, a hemisphere which cannot be seen from Earth—as the moon is tidally locked. The mission was made possible by a relay satellite out beyond the moon at Earth-moon Lagrange point 2, where it can bounce signals between Chang’e-4 and ground stations in China.

Chang’e-5 in 2020 performed the first sampling of lunar material in over four decades. The complex, four-spacecraft mission used an orbiter, lander, ascent vehicle, and return capsule to successfully deliver 1.731 grams of lunar rocks to Earth. The automated rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit of the orbiter and ascent spacecraft was also seen as a test of the technology for getting astronauts off the moon and back to Earth.

Chang’e-6 will again attempt to collect new samples, this time from the South pole-Aitken basin, a massive and ancient impact crater on the far side of the moon. The science return of such a mission could likewise be huge as its rocks have the potential to answer some significant questions about the moon’s geological past, says planetary scientist Katherine Joy of the University of Manchester, in England.

“We think that the basin-formation event was so large that the moon’s mantle could have been excavated from tens of kilometers deep,” says Joy. Fragments of this mantle material originating from deep in the moon would help us to understand how the Moon differentiated early in its history, the nature of its interior, and how volcanism on the far side of the moon is different or similar to that on the nearside.

Chang’e-7, also scheduled for 2024, will look at a different set of questions geared toward lunar resources. It will target the lunar south pole, a region where NASA’s Artemis 3 crewed mission is also looking to land.

The mission will involve a flotilla of spacecraft, including a new relay satellite, an orbiter, lander, rover and a small “hopping” spacecraft designed to inspect permanently shadowed craters which are thought to contain water ice which could be used in the future to provide breathable oxygen, rocket fuel, or drinking water to lunar explorers.

Following this Chang’e-8 is expected to launch around 2027 to test in situ resource utilization and conduct other experiments and technology tests such as oxygen extraction and 3D printing related to building a permanent lunar base—for both robots and crew—in the 2030s, named the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

The upcoming Chang’e-6, 7 and 8 missions are expected to launch on China’s largest current rocket, the Long March 5. But, as with NASA and Artemis, China will need its own megarockets to make human lunar exploration and ultimately, perhaps, crewed lunar bases a reality.

In part in reaction to the achievements of SpaceX, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s main space contractor, is developing a new rocket specifically for launching astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.

The “new generation crew launch vehicle” will essentially bundle three Long March 5 core stages together (which will be no mean feat of engineering) while also improving the performance of its kerosene engines. The result will be a roughly 90-meter-tall rocket resembling a Long March version of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, capable of sending 27 tonnes of payload into translunar injection.

Two launches of the rocket will by 2030, according to leading Chinese space officials, be able to put a pair of astronauts on the moon for a 6-hour stay. Such a mission also requires developing a lunar lander and a new spacecraft capable of keeping astronauts safe in deep space.

For building infrastructure on the moon, China is looking to the future Long March 9, an SLS-class rocket capable of sending 50 tonnes into translunar injection. The project will require CASC to make breakthroughs in a number of areas, including manufacturing new, wider rocket bodies of up to 10 meters in diameter, mastering massive, higher-thrust rocket engines, and building a new launch complex at Wenchang, Hainan island, to handle the monster.

Once again NASA is leading humanity’s journey to the moon, but China’s steady accumulation of capabilities and long-term ambitions means it will likely not be far behind.


Match ID: 98 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 81 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

X-Rays Could Carry Quantum Signals Across the Stars
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 15:07:14 +0000


Quantum signals may possess a number of advantages over regular forms of communication, leading scientists to wonder if humanity was not alone in discovering such benefits. Now a new study suggests that, for hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations, quantum transmissions using X-rays may be possible across interstellar distances.

Quantum communication relies on a quantum phenomenon known as entanglement. Essentially, two or more particles such as photons that get “linked” via entanglement can, in theory, influence each other instantly no matter how far apart they are.

Entanglement is essential to quantum teleportation, in which data can essentially disappear one place and reappear someplace else. Since this information does not travel across the intervening space, there is no chance the information will be lost.

To accomplish quantum teleportation, one would first entangle two photons. Then, one of the photons—the one to be teleported—is kept at one location while the other is beamed to whatever destination is desired.

Next, the photon at the destination's quantum state—which defines its key characteristics—is analyzed, an act that also destroys its quantum state. Entanglement will lead the destination photon to prove identical to its partner. For all intents and purposes, the photon at the origin point “teleported” to the destination point—no physical matter moved, but the two photons are physically indistinguishable.

And to be clear, quantum teleportation cannot send information faster than the speed of light, because the destination photon must still be transmitted via conventional means.

One weakness of quantum communication is that entanglement is fragile. Still, researchers have successfully transmitted entangled photons that remained stable or “coherent” enough for quantum teleportation across distances as great as 1,400 kilometers.

Such findings led theoretical physicist Arjun Berera at the University of Edinburgh to wonder just how far quantum signals might stay coherent. First, he discovered quantum coherence might survive interstellar distances within our galaxy, and then he and his colleagues found quantum coherence might survive intergalactic distances.

“If photons in Earth’s atmosphere don’t decohere to 100 km, then in interstellar space where the medium is much less dense then our atmosphere, photons won’t decohere up to even the size of the galaxy,” Berera says.

In the new study, the researchers investigated whether and how well quantum communication might survive interstellar distances. Quantum signals might face disruption from a number of factors, such as the gravitational pull of interstellar bodies, they note.

The scientists discovered the best quantum communication channels for interstellar messages are X-rays. Such frequencies are easier to focus and detect across interstellar distances. (NASA has tested deep-space X-ray communication with its XCOM experiment.) The researchers also found that the optical and microwave bands could enable communication across large distances as well, albeit less effectively than X-rays.

Although coherence might survive interstellar distances, Berera does note quantum signals might lose fidelity. “This means the quantum state is sustained, but it can have a phase shift, so although the quantum information is preserved in these states, it has been altered by the effect of gravity.” Therefore, it may “take some work at the receiving end to account for these phase shifts and be able to assess the information contained in the original state.”

Why might an interstellar civilization transmit quantum signals as opposed to regular ones? The researchers note that quantum communication may allow greater data compression and, in some cases, exponentially faster speeds than classical channels. Such a boost in efficiency might prove very useful for civilizations separated by interstellar distances.

“It could be that quantum communication is the main communication mode in an extraterrestrial's world, so they just apply what is at hand to send signals into the cosmos,” Berera says.

The scientists detailed their findings online 28 June in the journal Physical Review D.


Match ID: 99 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 132 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

The Webb Space Telescope’s Profound Data Challenges
Fri, 08 Jul 2022 18:03:45 +0000


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.


As previous articles in this series have noted, JWST is parked at Lagrange point L2. It’s a point of gravitational equilibrium located about 1.5 million kilometers beyond Earth on a straight line between the planet and the sun. It’s an ideal location for JWST to observe the universe without obstruction and with minimal orbital adjustments.

Being so far away from Earth, however, means that data has farther to travel to make it back in one piece. It also means the communications subsystem needs to be reliable, because the prospect of a repair mission being sent to address a problem is, for the near term at least, highly unlikely. Given the cost and time involved, says Michael Menzel, the mission systems engineer for JWST, “I would not encourage a rendezvous and servicing mission unless something went wildly wrong.”

According to Menzel, who has worked on JWST in some capacity for over 20 years, the plan has always been to use well-understood K a-band frequencies for the bulky transmissions of scientific data. Specifically, JWST is transmitting data back to Earth on a 25.9-gigahertz channel at up to 28 megabits per second. The Ka-band is a portion of the broader K-band (another portion, the Ku-band, was also considered).

An illustration depicting different Lagrange points and where the Webb Telescope is. The Lagrange points are equilibrium locations where competing gravitational tugs on an object net out to zero. JWST is one of three craft currently occupying L2 (Shown here at an exaggerated distance from Earth). IEEE Spectrum

Both the data-collection and transmission rates of JWST dwarf those of the older Hubble Space Telescope. Compared to Hubble, which is still active and generates 1 to 2 gigabytes of data daily, JWST can produce up to 57 GB each day (although that amount is dependent on what observations are scheduled).

Menzel says he first saw the frequency selection proposals for JWST around 2000, when he was working at Northrop Grumman. He became the mission systems engineer in 2004. “I knew where the risks were in this mission. And I wanted to make sure that we didn’t get any new risks,” he says.

IEEE Spectrum

Besides, K a-band frequencies can transmit more data than X-band (7 to 11.2 GHz) or S-band (2 to 4 GHz), common choices for craft in deep space. A high data rate is a necessity for the scientific work JWST will be undertaking. In addition, according to Carl Hansen, a flight systems engineer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (the science operations center for JWST), a comparable X-band antenna would be so large that the spacecraft would have trouble remaining steady for imaging.

Although the 25.9-GHz K a-band frequency is the telescope’s workhorse communication channel, it also employs two channels in the S-band. One is the 2.09-GHz uplink that ferries future transmission and scientific observation schedules to the telescope at 16 kilobits per second. The other is the 2.27-GHz, 40-kb/s downlink over which the telescope transmits engineering data—including its operational status, systems health, and other information concerning the telescope’s day-to-day activities.

Any scientific data the JWST collects during its lifetime will need to be stored on board, because the spacecraft doesn’t maintain round-the-clock contact with Earth. Data gathered from its scientific instruments, once collected, is stored within the spacecraft’s 68-GB solid-state drive (3 percent is reserved for engineering and telemetry data). Alex Hunter, also a flight systems engineer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, says that by the end of JWST’s 10-year mission life, they expect to be down to about 60 GB because of deep-space radiation and wear and tear.

The onboard storage is enough to collect data for about 24 hours before it runs out of room. Well before that becomes an issue, JWST will have scheduled opportunities to beam that invaluable data to Earth.

JWST will stay connected via the Deep Space Network (DSN)—a resource it shares with the Parker Solar Probe, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, the Voyager probes, and the entire ensemble of Mars rovers and orbiters, to name just a few of the other heavyweights. The DSN consists of three antenna complexes: Canberra, Australia; Madrid, Spain; and Barstow, Calif. JWST needs to share finite antenna time with plenty of other deep-space missions, each with unique communications needs and schedules.

IEEE Spectrum

Sandy Kwan, a DSN systems engineer, says that contact windows with spacecraft are scheduled 12 to 20 weeks in advance. JWST had a greater number of scheduled contact windows during its commissioning phase, as instruments were brought on line, checked, and calibrated. Most of that process required real-time communication with Earth.

All of the communications channels use the Reed-Solomon error-correction protocol—the same error-correction standard as used in DVDs and Blu-ray discs as well as QR codes. The lower data-rate S-band channels use binary phase-shift key modulation—involving phase shifting of a signal’s carrier wave. The K-band channel, however, uses a quadrature phase-shift key modulation. Quadrature phase-shift keying can double a channel’s data rate, at the cost of more complicated transmitters and receivers.

JWST’s communications with Earth incorporate an acknowledgement protocol—only after the JWST gets confirmation that a file has been successfully received will it go ahead and delete its copy of the data to clear up space.

The communications subsystem was assembled along with the rest of the spacecraft bus by Northrop Grumman, using off-the-shelf components sourced from multiple manufacturers.

JWST has had a long and often-delayed development, but its communications system has always been a bedrock for the rest of the project. Keeping at least one system dependable means it’s one less thing to worry about. Menzel can remember, for instance, ideas for laser-based optical systems that were invariably rejected. “I can count at least two times where I had been approached by people who wanted to experiment with optical communications,” says Menzel. “Each time they came to me, I sent them away with the old ‘Thank you, but I don’t need it. And I don’t want it.’”


Match ID: 100 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 142 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Companies Vie to Build NASA’s Next Communications Network
Fri, 13 May 2022 15:28:16 +0000


It was a great idea for its time—a network of NASA communications satellites high in geostationary orbit, providing nearly continuous radio contact between controllers on the ground and some of the agency’s highest-profile missions: the space shuttles, the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, and dozens of others.

The satellites were called TDRS—short for Tracking and Data Relay Satellite—and the first was launched in 1983 on the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Challenger. Twelve more would follow, quietly providing a backbone for NASA’s orbital operations. But they’ve gotten old, they’re expensive, and in the 40 years since they began, they’ve been outpaced by commercial satellite networks.

So what comes next? That’s the 278-million-dollar question—but, importantly, it’s not a multibillion-dollar question.

“Now it’ll be just plug and play. They can concentrate on the mission, and they don’t have to worry about comms, because we provide that for them.”
—Craig Miller, Viasat

NASA, following its mantra to get out of the business of routine space operations, has now awarded US $278.5 million in contracts to six companies: Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Inmarsat Government, SES Government Solutions, SpaceX, Telesat, and Viasat. The agency is asking them to offer services that are reliable, adaptable for all sorts of missions, easy for NASA to use, and—ideally—orders of magnitude less expensive than TDRS.

“It’s an ambitious wish list,” says Eli Naffah, communications services project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, in Cleveland. “We’re looking to have industry tell us, based on their capabilities and their business interests, what they would like to provide to us as a service that they would provide to others broadly.”

A satellite  and Earth. Inmarsat now operates a number of geostationary satellites in their GX fleet. The projected GX7 satellite [left] is expected to launch in 2023.Inmarsat Government

Satellite communication is one area that has taken off as a business proposition, independent of NASA’s space efforts. Internet and television transmission, GPS, phone service—all of these have become giant enterprises, ubiquitous in people’s lives. Economy of scale and competition have brought prices down dramatically. (That’s very different from, say, space tourism, which attracts a lot of attention but for now is still something that only the very wealthy can afford.)

NASA benefits, in the case of communications, from being a relatively small player, especially if it can get out from under the costs of running something like the TDRS system. The commercial satellite companies take over those costs—which, they say, is fine, since they were spending the money anyway.

“We love having customers like NASA,” says Craig Miller, president for government systems at Viasat. “They’re a joy to work with, their mission is in alignment with a lot of our core values, but we make billions of dollars a year selling Internet to other sources.”

Each of the six companies under the new NASA contract takes a different approach. Inmarsat, SES, and Viasat, for instance, would use large relay satellites, like TDRS, each seeming to hover over a fixed spot on Earth’s equator because, at an altitude of 35,786 kilometers, one orbit takes precisely 24 hours. Amazon and SpaceX, by contrast, would use swarms of smaller satellites in low Earth orbit, only 3,700 km in altitude. (SpaceX, at last count, had launched more than 2,200 of its Starlink satellites.) SES and Telesat would offer two-for-one packages, with service both from high and lower orbits. As for radio frequencies, the companies might use C band, Ka band, L band, optical—whatever their existing clients have needed. And so on.

Two rows of stacked objects seen over the background of Earth. Sixty SpaceX Starlink satellites wait for deployment from their launch rocket in low Earth orbit, in this photograph from 2019.SpaceX

It may sound like an alphabet soup of ways to solve one basic need—being in contact with its satellites—but engineers say that’s a minor trade-off for NASA if it can piggyback on others’ communications networks. “This allows NASA and our other government users to achieve their missions without the upfront capital expenditure and the full life-cycle cost” of running the TDRS system, said Britt Lewis, a senior vice president of Inmarsat Government, in an email to IEEE Spectrum.

One major advantage to the space agency would be the sheer volume of service available to it. In years past, the TDRS system could handle only so many transmissions at a time; if a particular mission needed to send a large volume of data, it had to book time in advance.

“Now it’ll be just plug and play,” says Miller at Viasat. “They can concentrate on the mission, and they don’t have to worry about comms, because we provide that for them.”

NASA says it expects each company will complete technology development and in-space demonstrations by 2025, with the most successful starting to take over operations for the agency by 2030. There will probably be no single winner: “We’re not really looking to have any one particular company be able to provide all the services on our list,” says NASA’s Naffah.

picture of a satellite in earth orbit NASA's TDRS-M communications satellite launched in 2017. NASA

The TDRS satellites have proved durable; TDRS-3, launched by the space shuttle Discovery in 1988, is still usable as a spare if newer satellites break down. NASA says it will probably continue to use the system into the 2030s, but it planned no more launches after the last (of TDRS-13 a.k.a. TDRS-M) in 2017.

If everything works out, says Amazon in an email, “This model would allow organizations like NASA to rely on commercial operators for near-Earth communications while shifting their focus to more ambitious operations, like solving technical challenges for deep space exploration and science missions.”

At which point the sky's the limit. NASA focuses on the moon, Mars, and other exploration, while it buys routine services from the private sector.

“We can provide the same kind of broadband capabilities that you’re used to having on Earth,” says Viasat’s Miller. He smiles at this thought. “We can provide Netflix to the ISS.”


Match ID: 101 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 198 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Declaración del administrador de la NASA sobre la solicitud de presupuesto del presidente para el año fiscal 2023
Mon, 28 Mar 2022 13:53 EDT
El presupuesto del presidente para el año fiscal 2023 permitiría a la NASA mantener el liderazgo en innovación global de Estados Unidos y mantener a la NASA a la vanguardia de la exploración y el descubrimiento al regresar a la Luna con el programa Artemis, entre otros esfuerzos.
Match ID: 102 Score: 12.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 244 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Inside the Universe Machine: The Webb Space Telescope’s Chilly Sun Shield
Thu, 07 Jul 2022 13:48:57 +0000


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When Apollo astronauts sent back the first pictures of Earth as a disk in space, the poet Archibald MacLeish wrote of it as “that bright loveliness in the eternal cold.” He was not far off. Deep space has a temperature of 2.7 kelvins—just 2.7 degrees above absolute zero.

If the James Webb Space Telescope is to work—looking so far out and therefore so far back in time that it can see the first galaxies forming after the big bang—it will have to image objects so faint that they barely stand out from the cold around them. The world will begin finding out how well the observatory works as soon as next week, when JWST is expected to release its first trove of scientific images and spectroscopic data.

So, for argument’s sake, let’s assume all indications so far do in fact point to a successful kickoff of the (hopefully long and storied) scientific data-gathering phase of Webb’s mission. How then did the engineers and designers of this massive telescope ever make it possible to cool the telescope down enough—all at a remove of nearly four times the distance from Earth to the moon—to possibly do its job?

After more than 25 years’ work and technological hurdles beyond counting, the Webb team has launched and stationed its mammoth observatory in solar orbit—and brought its instruments below 40 kelvins (-233 °C), cold enough to see the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago. Remarkably, most of the cooling has been done passively, by shielding the telescope from the sun and letting physics take care of the rest.

“Webb is not just the product of a group of people. It’s not the product of some smart astronomers—Webb is truly the product of our entire world’s capability,” says Keith Parrish, a leader on the Webb team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. “Taken as a whole, Webb is truly the result of our entire know-how of how to build complex machines.”

Parrish joined the project in 1997, ultimately becoming its commissioning manager through the years of design, assembly, testing, delay and, finally, launch on 25 December 2021. He says almost everything about it—its shape and location, the materials from which it’s made—was dictated by the need to have an observatory that would survive for years at supercold temperatures.

Photo of clean room with five giant foil-like sheets stacked atop one another, with three scientists in the distance, inspecting the sunshield In this photo, the five-layered JWST sunshield is being unfurled and inspected in a clean room. The layers of coated Kapton E never touch, minimizing the transmission of heat from one layer to the next. Alex Evers/Northrop Grumman

The Webb is an infrared observatory for many reasons, not the least of which is that as the universe expands, the wavelength of light from distant objects is lengthened, causing dramatic redshift. Infrared is also good for seeing through cosmic dust and gas, and for imaging cold things such as comets, Kuiper Belt objects, and perhaps planets orbiting other stars.

But infrared radiation is often best measured as heat, which is why it’s important for the Webb to be so cold. If, like the Hubble Telescope, it were in low Earth orbit, and it had no shielding from the sun, most of its targets would be drowned out by the sun and ground, and by heat in the telescope itself.

“If my signal is heat—and infrared is heat—then what I can’t have is other heat sources that are noise in the system,” says Jim Flynn, the sunshield manager at Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor for the Webb.

So the Webb has been sent to circle a spot in space called L2, 1.5 million kilometers away, opposite the sun, one of the locations known as Lagrange points. These "L" points are where the gravity of Earth and the sun exactly conspire to keep it in a stable and relatively "fixed" orbit with respect to the Earth as it makes its way around its 365.256-day course circling the sun. It’s a good compromise: Earth is distant enough that it doesn’t interfere with observations, but close enough that communication with the spacecraft can be relatively fast. And since the ship isn’t flying from day to night and back on every orbit, its temperature is relatively stable. All it needs is a really, really good sunshade.

“Four [layers of sunshield] would have probably done the job. Five gave us a little bit of an insurance policy. I’d like to say it was way more sophisticated than that, but that’s really not what it was at all.”
—Keith Parrish, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

“The engineering was pushed above and beyond to meet the scientific goals,” says Alexandra Lockwood, a project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Webb. “It is specifically designed the way that it is because they wanted to do intensive infrared science.”

It makes for an ungainly-looking ship in many renderings, with the telescope assembly, intentionally open to space to prevent heat buildup, attached to its silvery sunshield, about 14 meters wide and 21 meters long, with five layers of insulating film to keep the telescope in almost total darkness.

From its sunlit side the sunshield roughly resembles a kite. The elongated shape, engineers found, would be the most efficient way to keep the Webb’s optics out of the sun. They considered a square or octagon, but the final version covers more area without much more mass.

“It’s no larger than it needs to be to meet the science field-of-view requirements, and that unique kite shape is the result,” says Parrish. “Any larger than it is now, it just makes everything more complex.”

The shield’s five layers are made of Kapton E, a plastic film first developed by DuPont in the 1960s and used for spacecraft insulation and printed circuits. The layers are coated in aluminum and silicon. Each is thinner than a human hair. But engineers say they are, together, very effective in blocking the sun’s heat. The first layer reduces its strength by about an order of magnitude (or 90 percent), the second layer removes another order of magnitude, and so on. The layers never touch, and they’re slightly flared as one gets away from the center of the shield, so that heat will escape out the sides.

The result: Temperatures on the sunny side of the shield approach 360 K (87 °C), but on the dark side they’re below that all-important 40 K (-233 °C). Or, put another way: More than 200 kilowatts of solar energy fall on the first layer, but only 23 milliwatts make it all the way through the fifth.

The Two Sides of the Webb Telescope


illustration depicting features of JWST's sunshield

Why five layers? There was a lot of computer modeling, but it was hard to simulate the shield’s thermal behavior before flight. “Four would have probably done the job. Five gave us a little bit of an insurance policy,” says Parrish. “I’d like to say it was way more sophisticated than that, but that’s really not what it was at all.”

The ability to cool the telescope naturally, first calculated in the 1980s to be possible, was a major advance. It meant the Webb would not have to rely on a heavy, complex cryogenic apparatus, with refrigerants that could leak and shorten the mission. Of its four main scientific instruments, only one, a midinfrared detector called MIRI, needs to be cooled to 6.7 K. It’s chilled by a multistage cryocooler, which pumps cold helium gas through pulse tubes to draw heat away from the instrument’s sensor. It uses the Joule-Thomson effect, reducing the temperature of the helium by making it expand after it’s forced through a 1-millimeter valve. Pressure comes from two pistons—the cryocooler system’s only moving parts—facing opposite directions so their movements will cancel each other out and not disturb observations.

Building the telescope proved immensely complicated; it fell years behind while its budget ballooned toward US $10 billion. The sunshield needed lengthy redesign after testing, when Kapton tore and fasteners came loose.

“We just bit off way more than we could chew,” Parrish says now. “That’s exactly what NASA should be doing. It should be pushing the envelope. The problem is that eventually Webb got too big to fail.”

But it’s finally deployed, sending data, and surprising engineers who expected at least some failures as it began to operate. Keith Parrish, his work done, is moving on to other projects at Goddard.

“I think Webb,” he says, “is just a great product of what it means to be an advanced civilization.”


Update: 26 July 2022: The story was updated to clarify that the gravity at Lagrange point L2 does not "cancel" (as the story had previously stated) but in fact adds to keep an object at L2 orbiting at the precise same orbital period as, in this case, the Earth—i.e. at 365.256 days.


Match ID: 103 Score: 12.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 143 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets

New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler's Total Count
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 20:36 EST
Scientists recently added a whopping 301 newly confirmed exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally.
Match ID: 104 Score: 12.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 370 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets

About Half of Sun-Like Stars Could Host Rocky, Potentially Habitable Planets
Thu, 29 Oct 2020 07:00 EDT
According to new research using data from NASA’s retired planet-hunting mission, the Kepler space telescope, about half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.
Match ID: 105 Score: 12.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 759 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets

Gravity Assist: Puffy Planets, Powerful Telescopes, with Knicole Colon
Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:01 EDT
NASA astrophysicist Knicole Colon describes her work on the Kepler, Hubble, TESS and Webb missions, and takes us on a tour of some of her favorite planets.
Match ID: 106 Score: 12.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 898 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets

House Members Push for U.N. Oversight of Yemen Atrocities
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 20:00:12 +0000

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Joaquin Castro are leading the call to renew international oversight of atrocities committed in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The post House Members Push for U.N. Oversight of Yemen Atrocities appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 107 Score: 10.71 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

The Women Behind ENIAC
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 19:00:01 +0000


If you looked at the pictures of those working on the first programmable, general-purpose all-electronic computer, you would assume that J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were the only ones who had a hand in its development. Invented in 1945, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built to improve the accuracy of U.S. artillery during World War II. The two men and their team built the hardware. But hidden behind the scenes were six women—Jean Bartik, Kathleen Antonelli, Marlyn Meltzer, Betty Holberton, Frances Spence, and Ruth Teitelbaum—who programmed the computer to calculate artillery trajectories in seconds.

The U.S. Army recruited the women in 1942 to work as so-called human computersmathematicians who did calculations using a mechanical desktop calculator.

For decades, the six women were largely unknown. But thanks to Kathy Kleiman, cofounder of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the world is getting to know the ENIAC programmers’ contributions to computer science. This year Kleiman’s book Proving Ground: The Untold Story of the Six Women Who Programmed the World’s First Modern Computer was published. It delves into the women’s lives and the pioneering work they did. The book follows an award-winning documentary, The Computers: The Remarkable Story of the ENIAC Programmers, which Kleiman helped produce. It premiered at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival and won Best Documentary Short at the 2016 U.N. Association Film Festival.

Kleiman plans to give a presentation next year about the programmers as part of the IEEE Industry Hub Initiative’s Impact Speaker series. The initiative aims to introduce industry professionals and academics to IEEE and its offerings.

Planning for the event, which is scheduled to be held in Silicon Valley, is underway. Details are to be announced before the end of the year.

The Institute spoke with Kleiman, who teaches Internet technology and governance for lawyers at American University, in Washington, D.C., about her mission to publicize the programmers’ contributions. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Image of Kathy Kleiman and her book cover to the right. Kathy Kleiman delves into the ENIAC programmers’ lives and the pioneering work they did in her book Proving Ground: The Untold Story of the Six Women Who Programmed the World’s First Modern Computer.Kathy Kleiman

The Institute: What inspired you to film the documentary?

Kathy Kleiman: The ENIAC was a secret project of the U.S. Army during World War II. It was the first general-purpose, programmable, all-electronic computer—the key to the development of our smartphones, laptops, and tablets today. The ENIAC was a highly experimental computer, with 18,000 vacuums, and some of the leading technologists at the time didn’t think it would work, but it did.

Six months after the war ended, the Army decided to reveal the existence of ENIAC and heavily publicize it. To do so, in February 1946 the Army took a lot of beautiful, formal photos of the computer and the team of engineers that developed it. I found these pictures while researching women in computer science as an undergraduate at Harvard. At the time, I knew of only two women in computer science: Ada Lovelace and then U.S. Navy Capt. Grace Hopper. [Lovelace was the first computer programmer; Hopper co-developed COBOL, one of the earliest standardized computer languages.] But I was sure there were more women programmers throughout history, so I went looking for them and found the images taken of the ENIAC.

The pictures fascinated me because they had both men and women in them. Some of the photos had just women in front of the computer, but they weren’t named in any of the photos’ captions. I tracked them down after I found their identities, and four of six original ENIAC programmers responded. They were in their late 70s at the time, and over the course of many years they told me about their work during World War II and how they were recruited by the U.S. Army to be “human computers.”

Eckert and Mauchly promised the U.S. Army that the ENIAC could calculate artillery trajectories in seconds rather than the hours it took to do the calculations by hand. But after they built the 2.5-meter-tall by 24-meter-long computer, they couldn’t get it to work. Out of approximately 100 human computers working for the U.S. Army during World War II, six women were chosen to write a program for the computer to run differential calculus equations. It was hard because the program was complex, memory was very limited, and the direct programming interface that connected the programmers to the ENIAC was hard to use. But the women succeeded. The trajectory program was a great success. But Bartik, McNulty, Meltzer, Snyder, Spence, and Teitelbaum’s contributions to the technology were never recognized. Leading technologists and the public never knew of their work.

I was inspired by their story and wanted to share it. I raised funds, researched and recorded 20 hours of broadcast-quality oral histories with the ENIAC programmers—which eventually became the documentary. It allows others to see the women telling their story.

“If we open the doors to history, I think it would make it a lot easier to recruit the wonderful people we are trying to urge to enter engineering, computer science, and related fields.”

Why was the accomplishment of the six women important?

Kleiman: The ENIAC is considered by many to have launched the information age.

We generally think of women leaving the factory and farm jobs they held during World War II and giving them back to the men, but after ENIAC was completed, the six women continued to work for the U.S. Army. They helped world-class mathematicians program the ENIAC to complete “hundred-year problems” [problems that would take 100 years to solve by hand]. They also helped teach the next generation of ENIAC programmers, and some went on to create the foundations of modern programming.

What influenced you to continue telling the ENIAC programmers’ story in your book?

Kleiman: After my documentary premiered at the film festival, young women from tech companies who were in the audience came up to me to share why they were excited to learn the programmers’ story. They were excited to learn that women were an integral part of the history of early computing programming, and were inspired by their stories. Young men also came up to me and shared stories of their grandmothers and great-aunts who programmed computers in the 1960s and ’70s and inspired them to explore careers in computer science.

I met more women and men like the ones in Seattle all over the world, so it seemed like a good idea to tell the full story along with its historical context and background information about the lives of the ENIAC programmers, specifically what happened to them after the computer was completed.

What did you find most rewarding about sharing their story?

Kleiman: It was wonderful and rewarding to get to know the ENIAC programmers. They were incredible, wonderful, warm, brilliant, and exceptional people. Talking to the people who created the programming was inspiring and helped me to see that I could work at the cutting edge too. I entered Internet law as one of the first attorneys in the field because of them.

What I enjoy most is that the women’s experiences inspire young people today just as they inspired me when I was an undergraduate.

collage of vintage photographs of six women. Clockwise from top left: Jean Bartik, Kathleen Antonelli, Betty Holberton, Ruth Teitelbaum, Marlyn Meltzer, Frances Spence.Clockwise from top left: The Bartik Family; Bill Mauchly, Priscilla Holberton, Teitelbaum Family, Meltzer Family, Spence Family

Is it important to highlight the contributions made throughout history by women in STEM?

Kleiman: [Actor] Geena Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which works collaboratively with the entertainment industry to dramatically increase the presence of female characters in media. It’s based on the philosophy of “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

That philosophy is both right and wrong. I think you can be what you can’t see, and certainly every pioneer who has ever broken a racial, ethnic, religion, or gender barrier has done so. However, it’s certainly much easier to enter a field if there are role models who look like you. To that end, many computer scientists today are trying to diversify the field. Yet I know from my work in Internet policy and my recent travels across the country for my book tour that many students still feel locked out because of old stereotypes in computing and engineering. By sharing strong stories of pioneers in the fields who are women and people of color, I hope we can open the doors to computing and engineering. I hope history and herstory that is shared make it much easier to recruit young people to join engineering, computer science, and related fields.

Are you planning on writing more books or producing another documentary?

Kleiman: I would like to continue the story of the ENIAC programmers and write about what happened to them after the war ended. I hope that my next book will delve into the 1950s and uncover more about the history of the Universal Automatic Computer, the first modern commercial computer series, and the diverse group of people who built and programmed it.


Match ID: 108 Score: 10.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 16:00:01 +0000


The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.


What will transistors be like in 2047?

Expect transistors to be even more varied than they are now, says one expert. Just as processors have evolved from CPUs to include GPUs, network processors, AI accelerators, and other specialized computing chips, transistors will evolve to fit a variety of purposes. “Device technology will become application domain–specific in the same way that computing architecture has become application domain–specific,” says H.-S. Philip Wong, an IEEE Fellow, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, and former vice president of corporate research at TSMC.

Despite the variety, the fundamental operating principle—the field effect that switches transistors on and off—will likely remain the same, suggests Suman Datta, an IEEE Fellow, professor of electrical and computer at Georgia Tech, and director of the multi-university nanotech research center ASCENT. This device will likely have minimum critical dimensions of 1 nanometer or less, enabling device densities of 10 trillion per square centimeter, says Tsu-Jae King Liu, an IEEE Fellow, dean of the college of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of Intel’s board of directors.

"It is safe to assume that the transistor or switch architectures of 2047 have already been demonstrated on a lab scale"—Sri Samavedam

Experts seem to agree that the transistor of 2047 will need new materials and probably a stacked or 3D architecture, expanding on the planned complementary field-effect transistor (CFET, or 3D-stacked CMOS). [For more on the CFET, see “Taking Moore’s Law to New Heights.”] And the transistor channel, which now runs parallel to the plane of the silicon, may need to become vertical in order to continue to increase in density, says Datta.

AMD senior fellow Richard Schultz, suggests that the main aim in developing these new devices will be power. “The focus will be on reducing power and the need for advanced cooling solutions,” he says. “Significant focus on devices that work at lower voltages is required.”

Will transistors still be the heart of most computing in 25 years?

It’s hard to imagine a world where computing is not done with transistors, but, of course, vacuum tubes were once the digital switch of choice. Startup funding for quantum computing, which does not directly rely on transistors, reached US $1.4 billion in 2021, according to McKinsey & Co.

But advances in quantum computing won’t happen fast enough to challenge the transistor by 2047, experts in electron devices say. “Transistors will remain the most important computing element,” says Sayeef Salahuddin, an IEEE Fellow and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. “Currently, even with an ideal quantum computer, the potential areas of application seem to be rather limited compared to classical computers.”

Sri Samavedam, senior vice president of CMOS technologies at the European chip R&D center Imec, agrees. “Transistors will still be very important computing elements for a majority of the general-purpose compute applications,” says Samavedam. “One cannot ignore the efficiencies realized from decades of continuous optimization of transistors.”

Has the transistor of 2047 already been invented?

Twenty-five years is a long time, but in the world of semiconductor R&D, it’s not that long. “In this industry, it usually takes about 20 years from [demonstrating a concept] to introduction into manufacturing,” says Samavedam. “It is safe to assume that the transistor or switch architectures of 2047 have already been demonstrated on a lab scale” even if the materials involved won’t be exactly the same. King Liu, who demonstrated the modern FinFET about 25 years ago with colleagues at Berkeley, agrees.

But the idea that the transistor of 2047 is already sitting in a lab somewhere isn’t universally shared. Salahuddin, for one, doesn’t think it’s been invented yet. “But just like the FinFET in the 1990s, it is possible to make a reasonable prediction for the geometric structure” of future transistors, he says.

AMD’s Schultz says you can glimpse this structure in proposed 3D-stacked devices made of 2D semiconductors or carbon-based semiconductors. “Device materials that have not yet been invented could also be in scope in this time frame,” he adds.

Will silicon still be the active part of most transistors in 2047?

Experts say that the heart of most devices, the transistor channel region, will still be silicon, or possibly silicon-germanium—which is already making inroads—or germanium. But in 2047 many chips may use semiconductors that are considered exotic today. These could include oxide semiconductors like indium gallium zinc oxide; 2D semiconductors, such as the metal dichalcogenide tungsten disulfide; and one-dimensional semiconductors, such as carbon nanotubes. Or even “others yet to be invented,” says Imec’s Samavedam.

"Transistors will remain the most important computing element"—Sayeef Salahuddin

Silicon-based chips may be integrated in the same package with chips that rely on newer materials, just as processor makers are today integrating chips using different silicon manufacturing technologies into the same package, notes IEEE Fellow Gabriel Loh, a senior fellow at AMD.

Which semiconductor material is at the heart of the device may not even be the central issue in 2047. “The choice of channel material will essentially be dictated by which material is the most compatible with many other materials that form other parts of the device,” says Salahuddin. And we know a lot about integrating materials with silicon.

In 2047, where will transistors be common where they are not found today?

Everywhere. No, seriously. Experts really do expect some amount of intelligence and sensing to creep into every aspect of our lives. That means devices will be attached to our bodies and implanted inside them; embedded in all kinds of infrastructure, including roads, walls, and houses; woven into our clothing; stuck to our food; swaying in the breeze in grain fields; watching just about every step in every supply chain; and doing many other things in places nobody has thought of yet.

Transistors will be “everywhere that needs computation, command and control, communications, data collection, storage and analysis, intelligence, sensing and actuation, interaction with humans, or an entrance portal to the virtual and mixed reality world,” sums up Stanford’s Wong.

This article appears in the December 2022 print issue as “The Transistor of 2047.”


Match ID: 109 Score: 10.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

Empresa com ex-presidente da Petrobras lucra quase meio bilhão com os campos que ele mesmo ajudou a vender
Mon, 21 Nov 2022 09:13:22 +0000

Após deixar estatal, Castello Branco assumiu conselho da 3R, companhia que faturou R$ 469 milhões apenas no terceiro trimestre deste ano.

The post Empresa com ex-presidente da Petrobras lucra quase meio bilhão com os campos que ele mesmo ajudou a vender appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 110 Score: 10.71 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

NASA Awards Contract for Liquid Helium Acquisition at Kennedy
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 14:38 EST
NASA has selected Air Products and Chemicals, Inc of Allentown, Pennsylvania, to supply 33 million liters of liquid helium to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Match ID: 111 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Awards Extension for Space, Earth Science Data Analysis Contract
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 14:30 EST
NASA has awarded a six-month extension to ADNET Systems Inc. of Bethesda, Maryland, for the Space and Earth Science Data Analysis (SESDA IV) contract.
Match ID: 112 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

India’s First Private Space Rocket Blasts Off
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 17:51:56 +0000


A rocket built by Indian startup Skyroot has become the country’s first privately developed launch vehicle to reach space, following a successful maiden flight earlier today. The suborbital mission is a major milestone for India’s private space industry, say experts, though more needs to be done to nurture the fledgling sector.

The Vikram-S rocket, named after the founder of the Indian space program, Vikram Sarabhai, lifted off from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on India’s east coast, at 11:30 a.m. local time (1 a.m. eastern time). It reached a peak altitude of 89.5 kilometers (55.6 miles), crossing the 80-km line that NASA counts as the boundary of space, but falling just short of the 100 km recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

In the longer run, India’s space industry has ambitions of capturing a significant chunk of the global launch market.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, cofounder of the Hyderabad-based startup, says the success of the launch is a major victory for India’s nascent space industry, but the buildup to the mission was nerve-racking. “We were pretty confident on the vehicle, but, as you know, rockets are very notorious for failure,” he says. “Especially in the last 10 seconds of countdown, the heartbeat was racing up. But once the vehicle had crossed the launcher and then went into the stable trajectory, I think that was the moment of celebration.”

At just 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighing only around 550 kilograms (0.6 tonnes), the Vikram-S is not designed for commercial use. Today’s mission, called Prarambh, which means “the beginning” in Sanskrit, was designed to test key technologies that will be used to build the startup’s first orbital rocket, the Vikram I. The rocket will reportedly be capable of lofting as much as 480 kg up to an 500-km altitude and is slated for a maiden launch next October.

man standing in front of a rocket behind him Skyroot cofounder Pawan Kumar Chandana standing in front of the Vikram-S rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India.Skyroot

In particular, the mission has validated Skyroot’s decision to go with a novel all-carbon fiber structure to cut down on weight, says Chandana. It also allowed the company to test 3D-printed thrusters, which were used for spin stabilization in Vikram-S but will power the upper stages of its later rockets. Perhaps the most valuable lesson, though, says Chandana, was the complexity of interfacing Skyroot's vehicle with ISRO’s launch infrastructure. “You can manufacture the rocket, but launching it is a different ball game,” he says. “That was a great learning experience for us and will really help us accelerate our orbital vehicle.”

Skyroot is one of several Indian space startups looking to capitalize on recent efforts by the Indian government to liberalize its highly regulated space sector. Due to the dual-use nature of space technology, ISRO has historically had a government-sanctioned monopoly on most space activities, says Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation think tank, in New Delhi. While major Indian engineering players like Larsen & Toubro and Godrej Aerospace have long supplied ISRO with components and even entire space systems, the relationship has been one of a supplier and vendor, she says.

But in 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a series of reforms to allow private players to build satellites and launch vehicles, carry out launches, and provide space-based services. The government also created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (InSpace), a new agency designed to act as a link between ISRO and the private sector, and affirmed that private companies would be able to take advantage of ISRO’s facilities.

The first launch of a private rocket from an ISRO spaceport is a major milestone for the Indian space industry, says Rajagopalan. “This step itself is pretty crucial, and it’s encouraging to other companies who are looking at this with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,” she says. But more needs to be done to realize the government’s promised reforms, she adds. The Space Activities Bill that is designed to enshrine the country’s space policy in legislation has been languishing in draft form for years, and without regulatory clarity, it’s hard for the private sector to justify significant investments. “These are big, bold statements, but these need to be translated into actual policy and regulatory mechanisms,” says Rajagopalan.

Skyroot’s launch undoubtedly signals the growing maturity of India’s space industry, says Saurabh Kapil, associate director in PwC’s space practice. “It’s a critical message to the Indian space ecosystem, that we can do it, we have the necessary skill set, we have those engineering capabilities, we have those manufacturing or industrialization capabilities,” he says.

rocket launching into the sky with fire tail The Vikram-S rocket blasting off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India.Skyroot

However, crossing this technical milestone is only part of the challenge, he says. The industry also needs to demonstrate a clear market for the kind of launch vehicles that companies like Skyroot are building. While private players are showing interest in launching small satellites for applications like agriculture and infrastructure monitoring, he says, these companies will be able to build sustainable businesses only if they are allowed to compete for more lucrative government and defense-sector contacts.

In the longer run, though, India’s space industry has ambitions of capturing a significant chunk of the global launch market, says Kapil. ISRO has already developed a reputation for both reliability and low cost—its 2014 mission to Mars cost just US $74 million, one-ninth the cost of a NASA Mars mission launched the same week. That is likely to translate to India’s private space industry, too, thanks to a considerably lower cost of skilled labor, land, and materials compared with those of other spacefaring nations, says Kapil. “The optimism is definitely there that because we are low on cost and high on reliability, whoever wants to build and launch small satellites is largely going to come to India,” he says.


Match ID: 113 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/18/2022
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 16:00:37 +0000
Payloads: Nanoracks Module-9: Several photos were taken of the Nanoracks Module-9 hardware while in the Cupola area. NanoRacks Module-9 consists of multiple student experiments in individual Mixture Tubes all housed within a NanoRacks Module container.  Some experiments require crew interaction to remove clamps in order to mix materials to activate and/or deactivate the experiments. The …
Match ID: 114 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Successful Hack of Time-Triggered Ethernet
2022-11-18T15:04:41Z

Time-triggered Ethernet (TTE) is used in spacecraft, basically to use the same hardware to process traffic with different timing and criticality. Researchers have defeated it:

On Tuesday, researchers published findings that, for the first time, break TTE’s isolation guarantees. The result is PCspooF, an attack that allows a single non-critical device connected to a single plane to disrupt synchronization and communication between TTE devices on all planes. The attack works by exploiting a vulnerability in the TTE protocol. The work was completed by researchers at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center...


Match ID: 115 Score: 9.29 source: www.schneier.com age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Bringing Mars rock samples back to Earth
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 11:07:00 +0100
Video: 00:01:46

Short animation featuring key moments of the Mars Sample Return campaign: from landing on Mars and securing the sample tubes to launching them off the surface and ferrying them back to Earth.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are developing plans for one of the most ambitious campaigns ever attempted in space: bringing the first samples of Mars material safely back to Earth for detailed study. European scientists are part of an international team giving advice on what samples to choose for return and the best analysis methods to use once they land on Earth.

The diverse set of scientifically curated samples being collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover could help scientists answer the question of whether ancient life ever arose on the Red Planet. 

Bringing samples of Mars to Earth for future study would happen in several steps with multiple spacecraft, and in close collaboration between ESA and NASA.

The first step of the campaign began with the arrival of the Perseverance rover at Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021.

ESA will give robotic assistance with the Sample Transfer Arm. The 2.5 m robotic arm will pick up the tubes filled with precious material from Mars and transfer them to a rocket for a launch into martian orbit.

The European Earth Return Orbiter will then be the first interplanetary spacecraft to capture samples in orbit and make a return trip between Earth and Mars.

This strategic partnership with NASA will be the first to return samples from another planet. The samples to be returned are thought to be the best opportunity to reveal the early evolution of Mars, including the potential for life. 


Match ID: 116 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Here’s All the Science Hitching a Ride on Artemis I
Wed, 16 Nov 2022 16:28:52 +0000


NASA’s Artemis I mission launched early in the predawn hours this morning, at 1:04 a.m. eastern time, carrying with it the hopes of a space program aiming now to land American astronauts back on the moon. The Orion spacecraft now on its way to the moon also carries with it a lot of CubeSat-size science. (As of press time, some satellites have even begun to tweet.)

And while the objective of Artemis I is to show that the launch system and spacecraft can make a trip to the moon and return safely to Earth, the mission is also a unique opportunity to send a whole spacecraft-load of science into deep space. In addition to the interior of the Orion capsule itself, there are enough nooks and crannies to handle a fair number of CubeSats, and NASA has packed as many experiments as it can into the mission. From radiation phantoms to solar sails to algae to a lunar surface payload, Artemis I has a lot going on.


Most of the variety of the science on Artemis I comes in the form of CubeSats, little satellites that are each the size of a large shoebox. The CubeSats are tucked snugly into berths inside the Orion stage adapter, which is the bit that connects the interim cryogenic propulsion stage to the ESA service module and Orion. Once the propulsion stage lifts Orion out of Earth orbit and pushes it toward the moon, the stage and adapter will separate from Orion, and the CubeSats will launch themselves.

A metal cylinder five meters across rests in a clean room with scaffolding around it, with ten small boxes mounted on platforms inside Ten CubeSats rest inside the Orion stage adapter at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.NASA KSC

While the CubeSats look identical when packed up, each one is totally unique in both hardware and software, with different destinations and mission objectives. There are 10 in total (three weren’t ready in time for launch, which is why there are a couple of empty slots in the image above).

Here is what each one is and does:

While the CubeSats head off to do their own thing, inside the Orion capsule itself will be the temporary home of a trio of mannequins. The first, a male-bodied version provided by NASA, is named Commander Moonikin Campos, after NASA electrical engineer Arturo Campos, who was the guy who wrote the procedures that allowed the Apollo 13 command module to steal power from the lunar module’s batteries, one of many actions that saved the Apollo 13 crew.

A mannequin in an orange flight suit lies on its back in a testing room Moonikin Campos prepares for placement in the Orion capsule.NASA

Moonikin Campos will spend the mission in the Orion commander’s seat, wearing an Orion crew survival system suit. Essentially itself a spacecraft, the suit is able to sustain its occupant for up to six days if necessary. Moonikin Campos’s job will be to pretend to be an astronaut, and sensors inside him will measure radiation, acceleration, and vibration to help NASA prepare to launch human astronauts in the next Artemis mission.

Two blue female mannequins, one wearing a bulky black vest, strapped into the interior of a space capsule Hel­ga and Zo­har in place on the flight deck of the Ori­on space­craft.NASA/DLR

Accompanying Moonikin Campos are two female-bodied mannequins, named Helga and Zohar, developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) along with the Israel Space Agency. These are more accurately called “anthropomorphic phantoms,” and their job is to provide a detailed recording of the radiation environment inside the capsule over the course of the mission. The phantoms are female because women have more radiation-sensitive tissue than men. Both Helga and Zohar have over 6,000 tiny radiation detectors placed throughout their artificial bodies, but Zohar will be wearing an AstroRad radiation protection vest to measure how effective it is.

A dozen researchers in masks stand in front of two blue bags in a NASA laboratory NASA’s Biology Experiment-1 is transferred to the Orion team.NASA/KSC

The final science experiment to fly onboard Orion is NASA’s Biology Experiment-1. The experiment is really just seeing what time in deep space does to some specific kinds of biology, so all that has to happen is for Orion to successfully haul some packages of sample tubes around the moon and back. Samples include:

  • Plant seeds to characterize how spaceflight affects nutrient stores
  • Photosynthetic algae to identify genes that contribute to its survival in deep space
  • Aspergillus fungus to investigate radioprotective effects of melanin and DNA damage response
  • Yeast used as a model organism to identify genes that enable adaptations to conditions in both low Earth orbit and deep space

There is some concern that because of the extensive delays with the Artemis launch, the CubeSats have been sitting so long that their batteries may have run down. Some of the CubeSats could be recharged, but for others, recharging was judged to be so risky that they were left alone. Even for CubeSats that don’t start right up, though, it’s possible that after deployment, their solar panels will be able to get them going. But at this point, there’s still a lot of uncertainty, and the CubeSats’ earthbound science teams are now pinning their hopes on everything going well after launch.

For the rest of the science payloads, success mostly means Orion returning to Earth safe and sound, which will also be a success for the Artemis I mission as a whole. And assuming it does so, there will be a lot more science to come.


Match ID: 117 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/16/2022
Wed, 16 Nov 2022 16:00:38 +0000
Payloads: Snowcone Cloud Edge Compute Demonstration (Snowcone): To meet yearly certification requirements and prepare for later science operations, the Snowcone science hardware was powered on, appropriate files were loaded, and the system checked out.  Snowcone demonstrates technology to screen astronaut images and identify those that may contain sensitive information not for public release.  The technology …
Match ID: 118 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 11 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Artemis I launch
Wed, 16 Nov 2022 08:00:00 +0100
Video: 00:02:53

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard lifted off at 07:47 CET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA on 16 November 2022.

The most powerful rocket ever built sent NASA’s Orion spacecraft and ESA’s European Service Module (ESM) to a journey beyond the Moon and back. No crew will be on board Orion this time, and the spacecraft will be controlled by teams on Earth.

ESM provides for all astronauts’ basic needs, such as water, oxygen, nitrogen, temperature control, power and propulsion.

Much like a train engine pulls passenger carriages and supplies power, the European Service Module will take the Orion capsule to its destination and back.


Match ID: 119 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 11 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Experts Available to Discuss NASA Webb Telescope Science Results
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 16:41 EST
Experts from NASA and other institutions will be available by teleconference at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 17, to answer media questions about early science results from the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope.
Match ID: 120 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/15/2022
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 16:00:06 +0000
USOS Extravehicular Activity (EVA) #81 (1B IROSA Prep): Today, Josh Cassada (EV1) and Frank Rubio (EV2) performed the 1B ISS Roll Out Solar Array (IROSA) Prep EVA. Hatch opening occurred at 8:13 AM CT. The main goal of this EVA was to route cables on both the 3A and 1B Mod kits and install the …
Match ID: 121 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

GO for Artemis I
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 16:28:00 +0100
Image:

‘Twas the day before launch and all across the globe, people await liftoff for Artemis I with hope.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft with its European Service Module, is seen here on Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, on 12 November.

After much anticipation, NASA launch authorities have given the GO for the first opportunity for launch: tomorrow, 16 November with a two-hour launch window starting at 07:04 CET (06:04 GMT, 1:04 local time).

Artemis I is the first mission in a large programme to send astronauts around and on the Moon sustainably. This uncrewed first launch will see the Orion spacecraft travel to the Moon, enter an elongated orbit around our satellite and then return to Earth, powered by the European-built service module that supplies electricity, propulsion, fuel, water and air as well as keeping the spacecraft operating at the right temperature. 

The European Service Modules are made from components supplied by over 20 companies in ten ESA Member States and USA. As the first European Service Module sits atop the SLS rocket on the launchpad, the second is only 8 km away being integrated with the Orion crew capsule for the first crewed mission – Artemis II. The third and fourth European Service Modules – that will power astronauts to a Moon landing – are in production in Bremen, Germany. 

With a 16 November launch, the three-week Artemis I mission would end on 11 December with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The European Service Module detaches from the Orion Crew Module before splashdown and burns up harmlessly in the atmosphere, its job complete after taking Orion to the Moon and back safely. 

Backup Artemis I launch dates include 19 November. Check ESA’s Orion blog for updates and more details. Watch the launch live on ESA Web TV from 15 Nov, 20:30 GMT (21:30 CET) when the rocket fuelling starts, and from 16 November 00:00 GMT/01:00 CET for the launch coverage. 


Match ID: 122 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Awards Commercial Small Satellite Data Acquisition Agreement
Mon, 14 Nov 2022 15:15 EST
NASA has selected GeoOptics Inc. of Pasadena, California, to provide commercial small constellation satellite data products that may augment NASA-collected data in the future.
Match ID: 123 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 13 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/14/2022
Mon, 14 Nov 2022 16:00:44 +0000
Payloads: Cellbox-3: Two Cellbox-3 Spheroid Aggregation and Viability in Space (SHAPE) experiment containers (ECs) were removed from the Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems-1 (STaARS-1) experiment facility and placed into Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) +4° C cold stowage. Cellbox-3 contains two experiments that investigate cell behavior in microgravity, forming 3D structures that …
Match ID: 124 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 13 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA, ULA Successfully Launch Weather Satellite, Re-entry Tech Demo
Thu, 10 Nov 2022 19:28 EST
NASA successfully launched the third in a series of polar-orbiting weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 1:49 a.m. PST Thursday, as well as an agency technology demonstration on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Match ID: 125 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 17 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Brief Media on First Earth Water-Monitoring Satellite Mission
Thu, 10 Nov 2022 14:22 EST
NASA will host a virtual media briefing at 10:30 a.m. EST (7:30 a.m. PST) Nov. 14, at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite.
Match ID: 126 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 17 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/10/2022
Thu, 10 Nov 2022 16:00:21 +0000
Payloads: Antioxidant Protection: Experiment Containers were installed into Kubik-5. The PROtection MEdiated by antioxidant nanoTEchnOlogy against neuronal damage in space (PROMETEO) (Antioxidant Protection) investigation proposes the use of biocompatible and biodegradable polydopamine-based nanoparticles to provide antioxidant protection to neurons undergoing exposure to altered gravity and cosmic radiation. Cellbox-3: Cellbox-3 Experiment Containers were installed into the …
Match ID: 127 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 17 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/09/2022
Wed, 09 Nov 2022 16:00:26 +0000
Cygnus NG-18 Arrival: At 4:21 AM CT this morning, the crew successfully captured Cygnus NG-18 using the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS). Cygnus was installed at the Node 1 Nadir port, and bolt loading was completed at 7:55 AM CT. An external survey of the vehicle was performed by the ground prior to berth …
Match ID: 128 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 18 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

What is ESA’s Moonlight initiative?
Wed, 09 Nov 2022 16:00:00 +0100
Video: 00:03:21

Going to the Moon was the first step. Staying there is the next ambition.

ESA is a key partner in NASA’s Artemis programme, which aims to return people to the Moon by the end of the decade. Dozens of other international public and private missions are setting their sights on the lunar surface in the coming years.  

But to achieve a permanent and sustainable presence on the Moon, reliable and autonomous lunar communications and navigation services are required.

This is why ESA is working with its industrial partners on the Moonlight initiative, to become the first off-planet commercial telecoms and satellite navigation provider.

Following their launch, three or four satellites will be carried into lunar orbit by a space tug and deployed one by one, to form a constellation of lunar satellites. The number and specification of these satellites are currently being defined.

The constellation's orbits are optimised to give coverage to the lunar south pole, whose sustained sunlight and polar ice make it the focus of upcoming missions.

Moonlight will provide data capacities sufficient to serve these planned and future missions, with a navigation service that enables accurate real-time positioning for all lunar missions.


Match ID: 129 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 18 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/08/2022
Tue, 08 Nov 2022 16:00:34 +0000
Cygnus NG-18 Status: Yesterday, solar array wing #2 on NG-18 did not deploy. Troubleshooting attempts to deploy the array have been unsuccessful; however, teams have determined the configuration is acceptable for loads and concurred to proceed towards nominal rendezvous with the ISS tomorrow morning at 4:05 AM CT. Ground teams are assessing potential updates to …
Match ID: 130 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 19 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Updates Coverage of JPSS-2 Weather Satellite, LOFTID Tech Demo
Mon, 07 Nov 2022 17:23 EST
NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) technology demonstration.
Match ID: 131 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 20 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Full-Scale Drop Test of Urban Air Passenger Vehicle Model
Mon, 07 Nov 2022 11:24 EST
Full-Scale Drop Test of Urban Air Passenger Vehicle Model
Match ID: 132 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 20 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/07/2022
Mon, 07 Nov 2022 16:00:46 +0000
Cygnus NG-18 Launch: At 4:32 AM CT today, Cygnus NG-18 launched from the Wallops Flight Facility on an Antares 230+ rocket. NG-18 is scheduled to be captured by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) at 4:05 AM CT on Wednesday, November 9th. NG-18 is transporting important science experiments, equipment, and crew provisions to the …
Match ID: 133 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 20 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA, USAID Partnership Strengthens Global Development
Fri, 04 Nov 2022 16:08 EDT
NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement Friday strengthening the collaboration between the two agencies, including efforts that advance the federal response to climate change.
Match ID: 134 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 23 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Coverage Set for NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-2 Launch
Fri, 21 Oct 2022 17:31 EDT
NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission. JPSS-2 is the third satellite in the polar satellite series and is expected to capture data to improve weather forecasts, helping scientists predict and prepare
Match ID: 135 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 37 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Who Will Fix Hubble and Chandra?
Thu, 20 Oct 2022 18:06:36 +0000


Elon Musk, step aside. You may be the richest rich man in the space business, but you’re not first. Musk’s SpaceX corporation is a powerful force, with its weekly launches and visions of colonizing Mars. But if you want a broader view of how wealthy entrepreneurs have shaped space exploration, you might want to look at George Ellery Hale, James Lick, William McDonald or—remember this name—John D. Hooker.

All this comes up now because SpaceX, joining forces with the billionaire Jared Isaacman, has made what sounds at first like a novel proposal to NASA: It would like to see if one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft can be sent to service the fabled, invaluable (and aging) Hubble Space Telescope, last repaired in 2009.

Private companies going to the rescue of one of NASA’s crown jewels? NASA’s mantra in recent years has been to let private enterprise handle the day-to-day of space operations—communications satellites, getting astronauts to the space station, and so forth—while pure science, the stuff that makes history but not necessarily money, remains the province of government. Might that model change?

“We’re working on crazy ideas all the time,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s space science chief. "Frankly, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

It’s only a six-month feasibility study for now; no money will change hands between business and NASA. But Isaacman, who made his fortune in payment-management software before turning to space, suggested that if a Hubble mission happens, it may lead to other things. “Alongside NASA, exploration is one of many objectives for the commercial space industry,” he said on a media teleconference. “And probably one of the greatest exploration assets of all time is the Hubble Space Telescope.”

So it’s possible that at some point in the future, there may be a SpaceX Dragon, perhaps with Isaacman as a crew member, setting out to grapple the Hubble, boost it into a higher orbit, maybe even replace some worn-out components to lengthen its life.

Aerospace companies say privately mounted repair sounds like a good idea. So good that they’ve proposed it already.

The Chandra X-ray telescope, photographed by space shuttle astronauts after they deployed it in July 1999. The Chandra X-ray telescope, as photographed by space-shuttle astronauts after they deployed it in July 1999. It is attached to a booster that moved it into an orbit 10,000 by 100,000 kilometers from Earth.NASA

Northrop Grumman, one of the United States’ largest aerospace contractors, has quietly suggested to NASA that it might service one of the Hubble’s sister telescopes, the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra was launched into Earth orbit by the space shuttle Columbia in 1999 (Hubble was launched from the shuttle Discovery in 1990), and the two often complement each other, observing the same celestial phenomena at different wavelengths.

As in the case of the SpaceX/Hubble proposal, Northrop Grumman’s Chandra study is at an early stage. But there are a few major differences. For one, Chandra was assembled by TRW, a company that has since been bought by Northrop Grumman. And another company subsidiary, SpaceLogistics, has been sending what it calls Mission Extension Vehicles (MEVs) to service aging Intelsat communications satellites since 2020. Two of these robotic craft have launched so far. The MEVs act like space tugs, docking with their target satellites to provide them with attitude control and propulsion if their own systems are failing or running out of fuel. SpaceLogistics says it is developing a next-generation rescue craft, which it calls a Mission Robotic Vehicle, equipped with an articulated arm to add, relocate, or possibly repair components on orbit.

“We want to see if we can apply this to space-science missions,” says Jon Arenberg, Northrop Grumman’s chief mission architect for science and robotic exploration, who worked on Chandra and, later, the James Webb Space Telescope. He says a major issue for servicing is the exacting specifications needed for NASA’s major observatories; Chandra, for example, records the extremely short wavelengths of X-ray radiation (0.01–10 nanometers).

“We need to preserve the scientific integrity of the spacecraft,” he says. “That’s an absolute.”

But so far, the company says, a mission seems possible. NASA managers have listened receptively. And Northrop Grumman says a servicing mission could be flown for a fraction of the cost of a new telescope.

New telescopes need not be government projects. In fact, NASA’s chief economist, Alexander MacDonald, argues that almost all of America’s greatest observatories were privately funded until Cold War politics made government the major player in space exploration. That’s why this story began with names from the 19th and 20th centuries—Hale, Lick, and McDonald—to which we should add Charles Yerkes and, more recently, William Keck. These were arguably the Elon Musks of their times—entrepreneurs who made millions in oil, iron, or real estate before funding the United States’ largest telescopes. (Hale’s father manufactured elevators—highly profitable in the rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.) The most ambitious observatories, MacDonald calculated for his book The Long Space Age, were about as expensive back then as some of NASA’s modern planetary probes. None of them had very much to do with government.

To be sure, government will remain a major player in space for a long time. “NASA pays the cost, predominantly, of the development of new commercial crew vehicles, SpaceX’s Dragon being one,” MacDonald says. “And now that those capabilities exist, private individuals can also pay to utilize those capabilities.” Isaacman doesn’t have to build a spacecraft; he can hire one that SpaceX originally built for NASA.

“I think that creates a much more diverse and potentially interesting space-exploration future than we have been considering for some time,” MacDonald says.

So put these pieces together: Private enterprise has been a driver of space science since the 1800s. Private companies are already conducting on-orbit satellite rescues. NASA hasn’t said no to the idea of private missions to service its orbiting observatories.

And why does John D. Hooker’s name matter? In 1906, he agreed to put up US $45,000 (about $1.4 million today) to make the mirror for a 100-inch reflecting telescope at Mount Wilson, Calif. One astronomer made the Hooker Telescope famous by using it to determine that the universe, full of galaxies, was expanding.

The astronomer’s name was Edwin Hubble. We’ve come full circle.


Match ID: 136 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 38 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to Launch of Water-Monitoring Satellite
Thu, 13 Oct 2022 17:19 EDT
Media accreditation is now open for the upcoming launch of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, a pathfinder mission about Earth’s water that will use new technology to address climate change and its impact on our environment.
Match ID: 137 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 45 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

El impacto de DART cambió el movimiento de un asteroide en el espacio
Tue, 11 Oct 2022 13:28 EDT
El análisis de los datos obtenidos en las últimas dos semanas por el equipo de investigación de la Prueba de redireccionamiento del asteroide doble (DART, por sus siglas en inglés) de la NASA muestra que el impacto cinético de la nave espacial contra su asteroide objetivo, Dimorphos, alteró con éxito la órbita del asteroide. Esto marca la primera v
Match ID: 138 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 47 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Confirms DART Mission Impact Changed Asteroid’s Motion in Space
Tue, 11 Oct 2022 13:12 EDT
Analysis of data obtained over the past two weeks by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) investigation team shows the spacecraft's kinetic impact with its target asteroid, Dimorphos, successfully altered the asteroid’s orbit. This marks humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale dem
Match ID: 139 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 47 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Provide Update on DART, World’s First Planetary Defense Test
Fri, 07 Oct 2022 15:34 EDT
NASA will host a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Oct. 11, to discuss the agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission and its intentional collision with its target asteroid, Dimorphos.
Match ID: 140 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 51 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

How a Dual Curing Adhesive Works
Tue, 04 Oct 2022 17:50:36 +0000


This sponsored article is brought to you by Master Bond.

Master Bond UV22DC80-1 is a nanosilica filled, dual cure epoxy based system. Nanosilica filled epoxy formulations are designed to further improve performance and processing properties.

The specific filler will play a crucial role in determining key parameters such as viscosity, flow, aging characteristics, strength, shrinkage, hardness, and exotherm. As a dual curing system, UV22DC80-1 cures readily upon exposure to UV light, and will cross link in shadowed out areas when heat is added.


See Master Bond's UV22DC80-1 in Action


Dual cure systems are effective for rapidly fixturing parts with the UV portion of the cure, and then concluding the process by adding heat. Watch this video to see a dual cured epoxy in action.


This compound features exceptionally low shrinkage upon cure, outstanding dimensional stability, and resists abrasion. It is not oxygen inhibited. It withstands chemicals such as acids, bases, fuels and solvents. It is electrically insulative with a volume resistivity greater than 1014 ohm-cm. It is optically clear, with a refractive index of 1.52.

The low viscosity ranges from 500 cps to 3500 cps. The temperature serviceability extends from -100°F to 300°F. UV22DC80-1 bonds well to metals, ceramics, glass, rubber, and many plastics. It passes NASA low outgassing certification and is used in high tech applications including aerospace, optical and opto-electronics.

Contact Master Bond to request a technical data sheet or discuss your application.


Match ID: 141 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 54 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA’s DART Mission Hits Asteroid in First-Ever Planetary Defense Test
Mon, 26 Sep 2022 20:09 EDT
After 10 months flying in space, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – the world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration – successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday, the agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space.
Match ID: 142 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 62 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Celebrate 'International Observe the Moon Night' with NASA
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 10:00 EDT
The public is invited to participate in NASA’s celebration of "International Observe the Moon Night" on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Match ID: 143 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 65 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Host Briefing on Perseverance Mars Rover Mission Operations
Mon, 12 Sep 2022 09:49 EDT
NASA will host a briefing at 11:30 a.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. PDT) on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California to provide highlights from the first year and a half of the Perseverance rover’s exploration of Mars.
Match ID: 144 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 76 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

La NASA invita a la prensa a la primera prueba de defensa planetaria
Tue, 23 Aug 2022 11:47 EDT
La misión Prueba de redireccionamiento del asteroide doble (DART, por sus siglas en inglés) de la NASA, la primera en el mundo que pone a prueba una tecnología para defender a la Tierra de posibles peligros de asteroides o cometas, impactará con su objetivo, un asteroide que no supone ninguna amenaza para la Tierra, a las 7:14 pm EDT del lunes 26 d
Match ID: 145 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 96 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to Witness World’s First Planetary Defense Test
Tue, 23 Aug 2022 11:38 EDT
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, will impact its target asteroid—which poses no threat to Earth—at 7:14 p.m. EDT on Monday, Sept. 26.
Match ID: 146 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 96 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Identifies Candidate Regions for Landing Next Americans on Moon
Fri, 19 Aug 2022 11:07 EDT
As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis, the agency has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole.
Match ID: 147 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 100 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Administrator Statement on Agency Authorization Bill
Thu, 28 Jul 2022 15:22 EDT
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released this statement Thursday following approval by the U.S. Congress for the NASA Authorization Act of 2022, which is part of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022.
Match ID: 148 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 122 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Administrator, Deputy to Attend Farnborough Airshow
Fri, 15 Jul 2022 16:13 EDT
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy will attend the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom on Monday, July 18.
Match ID: 149 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 135 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Industry: Let’s Develop Flight Tech to Reduce Carbon Emissions
Wed, 29 Jun 2022 14:25 EDT
NASA announced Wednesday the agency is seeking partners to develop technologies needed to shape a new generation of lower-emission, single-aisle airliners that passengers could see in airports in the 2030s.
Match ID: 150 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 151 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Pentagon Aims to Demo a Nuclear Spacecraft Within 5 Years
Thu, 09 Jun 2022 16:44:41 +0000


In the latest push for nuclear power in space, the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) awarded a contract in May to Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear to advance its nuclear power and propulsion concepts. The company is making a soccer ball–size radioisotope battery it calls EmberCore. The DIU’s goal is to launch the technology into space for demonstration in 2027.

Ultra Safe Nuclear’s system is intended to be lightweight, scalable, and usable as both a propulsion source and a power source. It will be specifically designed to give small-to-medium-size military spacecraft the ability to maneuver nimbly in the space between Earth orbit and the moon. The DIU effort is part of the U.S. military’s recently announced plans to develop a surveillance network in cislunar space.

Besides speedy space maneuvers, the DIU wants to power sensors and communication systems without having to worry about solar panels pointing in the right direction or batteries having enough charge to work at night, says Adam Schilffarth, director of strategy at Ultra Safe Nuclear. “Right now, if you are trying to take radar imagery in Ukraine through cloudy skies,” he says, “current platforms can only take a very short image because they draw so much power.”

Radioisotope power sources are well suited for small, uncrewed spacecraft, adds Christopher Morrison, who is leading EmberCore’s development. Such sources rely on the radioactive decay of an element that produces energy, as opposed to nuclear fission, which involves splitting atomic nuclei in a controlled chain reaction to release energy. Heat produced by radioactive decay is converted into electricity using thermoelectric devices.

Radioisotopes have provided heat and electricity for spacecraft since 1961. The Curiosity and Perseverance rovers on Mars, and deep-space missions including Cassini, New Horizons, and Voyager all use radioisotope batteries that rely on the decay of plutonium-238, which is nonfissile—unlike plutonium-239, which is used in weapons and power reactors.

For EmberCore, Ultra Safe Nuclear has instead turned to medical isotopes such as cobalt-60 that are easier and cheaper to produce. The materials start out inert, and have to be charged with neutrons to become radioactive. The company encapsulates the material in a proprietary ceramic for safety.

Cobalt-60 has a half-life of five years (compared to plutonium-238’s 90 years), which is enough for the cislunar missions that the DOD and NASA are looking at, Morrison says. He says that EmberCore should be able to provide 10 times as much power as a plutonium-238 system, providing over 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy using just a few pounds of fuel. “This is a technology that is in many ways commercially viable and potentially more scalable than plutonium-238,” he says.

One downside of the medical isotopes is that they can produce high-energy X-rays in addition to heat. So Ultra Safe Nuclear wraps the fuel with a radiation-absorbing metal shield. But in the future, the EmberCore system could be designed for scientists to use the X-rays for experiments. “They buy this heater and get an X-ray source for free,” says Schilffarth. “We’ve talked with scientists who right now have to haul pieces of lunar or Martian regolith up to their sensor because the X-ray source is so weak. Now we’re talking about a spotlight that could shine down to do science from a distance.”

Ultra Safe Nuclear’s contract is one of two awarded by the DIU—which aims to speed up the deployment of commercial technology through military use—to develop nuclear power and propulsion for spacecraft. The other contract was awarded to Avalanche Energy, which is making a lunchbox-size fusion device it calls an Orbitron. The device will use electrostatic fields to trap high-speed ions in slowly changing orbits around a negatively charged cathode. Collisions between the ions can result in fusion reactions that produce energetic particles.

Both companies will use nuclear energy to power high-efficiency electric propulsion systems. Electric propulsion technologies such as ion thrusters, which use electromagnetic fields to accelerate ions and generate thrust, are more efficient than chemical rockets, which burn fuel. Solar panels typically power the ion thrusters that satellites use today to change their position and orientation. Schilffarth says that the higher power from EmberCore should give a greater velocity change of 10 kilometers per second in orbit than today’s electric propulsion systems.

Ultra Safe Nuclear is also one of three companies developing nuclear fission thermal propulsion systems for NASA and the Department of Energy. Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking companies to develop a fission-based nuclear thermal rocket engine, with demonstrations expected in 2026.

This article appears in the August 2022 print issue as “Spacecraft to Run on Radioactive Decay.”


Match ID: 151 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 171 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Supports Small Business Research to Power Future Exploration
Thu, 26 May 2022 14:01 EDT
NASA has selected hundreds of small businesses and dozens of research institutions to develop technology to help drive the future of space exploration, ranging from novel sensors and electronics to new types of software and cutting-edge materials.
Match ID: 152 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 185 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

A Helicopter Will Try to Catch a Rocket Booster in Midair
Mon, 18 Apr 2022 18:28:03 +0000


The longest journey begins with a single step, and that step gets expensive when you’re in the space business. Take, for example, the Electron booster made by Rocket Lab, a company with two launch pads on the New Zealand coast and another awaiting use in Virginia. Earth’s gravity is so stubborn that, by necessity, two-thirds of the rocket is its first stage—and it has historically ended up as trash on the ocean floor after less than 3 minutes of flight.

Making those boosters reusable—saving them from a saltwater grave, and therefore saving a lot of money—has been a goal of aerospace engineers since the early space age. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has famously been landing its Falcon 9 boosters on drone ships off the Florida coast—mind-bending to watch but very hard to pull off.

Rocket Lab says it has another way. Iits next flight will carry 34 commercial satellites—and instead of being dropped in the Pacific, the spent first stage will be snared in midair by a helicopter as it descends by parachute. It will then be brought back to base, seared by the heat of reentry but inwardly intact, for possible refurbishment and reuse. The team, in its determination to minimize its odds of dropping the ball, so to speak, has pushed back the launch several times in order to wait out inclement weather. They reason that because this isn’t a game of horseshoes, close is not good enough.

“It’s a very complex thing to do,” says Morgan Bailey of Rocket Lab. “You have to position the helicopter in exactly the right spot, you have to know exactly where the stage is going to be coming down, you have to be able to slow it enough,” she says. “We’ve practiced and practiced all of the individual puzzle pieces, and now it’s putting them together. It’s not a foregone conclusion that the first capture attempt will be a success.”

Still, people in the space business will be watching, since Rocket Lab has established a niche for itself as a viable space company. This will be its 26th Electron launch. The company says it has launched 112 satellites so far, many of them so-called smallsats that are relatively inexpensive to fly. “Right now, there are two companies taking payloads to orbit: SpaceX and Rocket Lab,” says Chad Anderson, CEO of Space Capital, a firm that funds space startups.

Here's the flight profile. The Electron is 18 meters tall; the bottom 12 meters are the first stage. For this mission it will lift off from New Zealand on its way to a sun-synchronous orbit 520 kilometers high. The first stage burns out after the first 70 km. Two minutes and 32 seconds into the flight, it drops off, following a long arc that in the past would have sent it crashing into the ocean, about 280 km downrange.

But Rocket Lab has now equipped its booster with heat shielding, protecting it as it falls tail-first at up to 8,300 kilometers per hour. Temperatures should reach 2,400 °C as the booster is slowed by the air around it.

At an altitude of 13 km, a small drogue parachute is deployed from the top end of the rocket stage, followed by a main chute at about 6 km, less than a minute later. The parachute slows the rocket substantially, so that it is soon descending at only about 36 km/h.

Rendering of helicopter after catching the spent Electron rocket first stage in midair. An artist’s conception shows the helicopter after catching the spent Electron rocket’s first stage in midair.Rocket Lab

But even that would make for a hard splashdown—which is why a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter hovers over the landing zone, trailing a grappling hook on a long cable. The plan is for the helicopter to fly over the descending rocket and snag the parachute cables. The rocket never gets wet; the chopper secures it and either lowers it onto a ship or carries it back to land. Meanwhile—let’s not lose sight of the prime mission—the second stage of the rocket should reach orbit about 10 minutes after launch.

“You have to keep the booster out of the water,” says Anderson. “If they can do that, it’s a big deal.” Many space people will recall NASA’s solid rocket boosters, which helped launch the space shuttles and then parachuted into the Atlantic; towing them back to port and cleaning them up for reuse was slow and expensive. NASA’s giant SLS rocket uses the same boosters, but there are no plans to recover them.

So midair recovery is far better, though it’s not new. As long ago as 1960, the U.S. Air Force snagged a returning capsule from a mission called Discoverer 14. But that had nothing to do with economy; the Discoverers were actually Corona reconnaissance satellites, and they were sending back film of the Soviet Union—priceless for Cold War intelligence.

Rocket Lab tries to sound more playful about its missions: It gives them names like “A Data With Destiny” or “Without Mission a Beat.” This newest flight, with its booster-recovery attempt, is called “There and Back Again.”

A teenager tweeted to CEO Peter Beck: “It would have been cool if the mission was called ‘Catch Me If You Can.’”

“Oh…that’s good!” Beck replied. “Congratulations, you have just named the very next recovery mission.”

Update 22 April 2022: In a tweet, Rocket Lab announced that due to weather, the planned launch and recovery would be rescheduled for 27 April at the earliest.

This article appears in the July 2022 print issue as “Rocket Lab Catches Rocket Booster in Midair.”


Match ID: 153 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 223 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Awards Contracts for Aerospace Testing and Facilities Operations
Mon, 11 Apr 2022 17:44 EDT
NASA has awarded a contract to Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tennessee, to provide the agency’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California with support services for ground-based aerospace test facilities at the center.
Match ID: 154 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 230 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

University Teams Fly High in Airport Designs of the Future
Thu, 07 Apr 2022 12:50 EDT
Concepts from eight teams participating in the 2022 Gateways to Blue Skies: Airports of Tomorrow (Blue Skies) Competition have been selected to present their design concepts to a panel of industry experts
Match ID: 155 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 234 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Administrator Statement on President’s FY 2023 Budget Request
Mon, 28 Mar 2022 11:51 EDT
The President’s fiscal year 2023 budget would allow NASA to sustain America’s global innovation leadership and keep NASA at the forefront of exploration and discovery by returning to the Moon with the Artemis program, among other efforts.
Match ID: 156 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 244 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Host Virtual Future of Aviation Showcase
Wed, 23 Feb 2022 12:11 EST
Members of the media and public are invited to participate in NASA’s imaginAviation, a three-day virtual event that will focus on the future transformation of aviation that begins Tuesday, March 1.
Match ID: 157 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 277 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA’s TESS Tunes into an All-sky ‘Symphony’ of Red Giant Stars
Wed, 04 Aug 2021 17:00 EDT
Using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, astronomers have identified a vast collection of pulsating red giant stars that will help us explore our galactic neighborhood.
Match ID: 158 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 480 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Planetary Sleuthing Finds Triple-Star World
Mon, 11 Jan 2021 13:40 EST
Years after its detection, astronomers have confirmed a planet called KOI-5Ab orbiting in a triple-star system with a skewed configuration.
Match ID: 159 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 685 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Awards SETI Institute Contract for Planetary Protection Support
Fri, 10 Jul 2020 12:04 EDT
NASA has awarded the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, a contract to support all phases of current and future planetary protection missions to ensure compliance with planetary protection standards.
Match ID: 160 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 870 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Imagining Another Earth
Thu, 28 May 2020 10:27 EDT
This artist's concept shows exoplanet Kepler-1649c orbiting around its host red dwarf star.
Match ID: 161 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 913 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA’s TESS Enables Breakthrough Study of Perplexing Stellar Pulsations
Wed, 13 May 2020 11:00 EDT
Astronomers have detected elusive pulsation patterns in dozens of young, rapidly rotating stars thanks to data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
Match ID: 162 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 928 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

AAS Names 29 NASA-Affiliated Legacy Fellows
Thu, 30 Apr 2020 09:00 EDT
Twenty-nine scientists working at or affiliated with NASA have been named Fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America.
Match ID: 163 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 941 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Kepler-1649c: Earth-Size, Habitable Zone Planet Hides in Plain Sight
Thu, 16 Apr 2020 02:13 EDT
This artist's illustration shows what Kepler-1649c could look like from its surface.
Match ID: 164 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 955 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

How the Graphical User Interface Was Invented
Sun, 20 Nov 2022 20:00:00 +0000


Mice, windows, icons, and menus: these are the ingredients of computer interfaces designed to be easy to grasp, simplicity itself to use, and straightforward to describe. The mouse is a pointer. Windows divide up the screen. Icons symbolize application programs and data. Menus list choices of action.

But the development of today’s graphical user interface was anything but simple. It took some 30 years of effort by engineers and computer scientists in universities, government laboratories, and corporate research groups, piggybacking on each other’s work, trying new ideas, repeating each other’s mistakes.


This article was first published as “Of Mice and menus: designing the user-friendly interface.” It appeared in the September 1989 issue of IEEE Spectrum. A PDF version is available on IEEE Xplore. The photographs and diagrams appeared in the original print version.


Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, many of the early concepts for windows, menus, icons, and mice were arduously researched at Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Palo Alto, Calif. In 1973, PARC developed the prototype Alto, the first of two computers that would prove seminal in this area. More than 1200 Altos were built and tested. From the Alto’s concepts, starting in 1975, Xerox’s System Development Department then developed the Star and introduced it in 1981—the first such user-friendly machine sold to the public.

In 1984, the low-cost Macintosh from Apple Computer Inc., Cupertino, Calif., brought the friendly interface to thousands of personal computer users. During the next five years, the price of RAM chips fell enough to accommodate the huge memory demands of bit-mapped graphics, and the Mac was followed by dozens of similar interfaces for PCs and workstations of all kinds. By now, application programmers are becoming familiar with the idea of manipulating graphic objects.

The Mac’s success during the 1980s spurred Apple Computer to pursue legal action over ownership of many features of the graphical user interface. Suits now being litigated could assign those innovations not to the designers and their companies, but to those who first filed for legal protection on them.

The GUI started with Sketchpad


The grandfather of the graphical user interface was Sketchpad [see photograph]. Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Ivan E. Sutherland built it in 1962 as a Ph.D. thesis at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass. Sketchpad users could not only draw points, line segments, and circular arcs on a cathode ray tube (CRT) with a light pen—they could also assign constraints to, and relationships among, whatever they drew.

Arcs could have a specified diameter, lines could be horizontal or vertical, and figures could be built up from combinations of elements and shapes. Figures could be moved, copied, shrunk, expanded, and rotated, with their constraints (shown as onscreen icons) dynamically preserved. At a time when a CRT monitor was a novelty in itself, the idea that users could interactively create objects by drawing on a computer was revolutionary.


Man sitting in front of a round cathode ray display with a white square and triangle on a black background

Moreover, to zoom in on objects, Sutherland wrote the first window-drawing program, which required him to come up with the first clipping algorithm. Clipping is a software routine that calculates which part of a graphic object is to be displayed and displays only that part on the screen. The program must calculate where a line is to be drawn, compare that position to the coordinates of the window in use, and prevent the display of any line segment whose coordinates fall outside the window.

Though films of Sketchpad in operation were widely shown in the computer research community, Sutherland says today that there was little immediate fallout from the project. Running on MIT’s TX-2 mainframe, it demanded too much computing power to be practical for individual use. Many other engineers, however, see Sketchpad’s design and algorithms as a primary influence on an entire generation of research into user interfaces.

The origin of the computer mouse


The light pens used to select areas of the screen by interactive computer systems of the 1950s and 1960s—including Sketchpad—had drawbacks. To do the pointing, the user’s arm had to be lifted up from the table, and after a while that got tiring. Picking up the pen required fumbling around on the table or, if it had a holder, taking the time after making a selection to put it back.

Sensing an object with a light pen was straightforward: the computer displayed spots of light on the screen and interrogated the pen as to whether it sensed a spot, so the program always knew just what was being displayed. Locating the position of the pen on the screen required more sophisticated techniques—like displaying a cross pattern of nine points on the screen, then moving the cross until it centered on the light pen.

In 1964, Douglas Engelbart, a research project leader at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., tested all the commercially available pointing devices, from the still-popular light pen to a joystick and a Graphicon (a curve-tracing device that used a pen mounted on the arm of a potentiometer). But he felt the selection failed to cover the full spectrum of possible pointing devices, and somehow he should fill in the blanks.

Then he remembered a 1940s college class he had taken that covered the use of a planimeter to calculate area. (A planimeter has two arms, with a wheel on each. The wheels can roll only along their axes; when one of them rolls, the other must slide.)

If a potentiometer were attached to each wheel to monitor its rotation, he thought, a planimeter could be used as a pointing device. Engelbart explained his roughly sketched idea to engineer William English, who with the help of the SRI machine shop built what they quickly dubbed “the mouse.”



This first mouse was big because it used single-turn potentiometers: one rotation of the wheels had to be scaled to move a cursor from one side of the screen to the other. But it was simple to interface with the computer: the processor just read frequent samples of the potentiometer positioning signals through analog-to-digital converters.

The cursor moved by the mouse was easy to locate, since readings from the potentiometer determined the position of the cursor on the screen-unlike the light pen. But programmers for later windowing systems found that the software necessary to determine which object the mouse had selected was more complex than that for the light pen: they had to compare the mouse’s position with that of all the objects displayed onscreen.

The computer mouse gets redesigned—and redesigned again

Engelbart’s group at SRI ran controlled experiments with mice and other pointing devices, and the mouse won hands down. People adapted to it quickly, it was easy to grab, and it stayed where they put it. Still, Engelbart wanted to tinker with it. After experimenting, his group had concluded that the proper ratio of cursor movement to mouse movement was about 2:1, but he wanted to try varying that ratio—decreasing it at slow speeds and raising it at fast speeds—to improve user control of fine movements and speed up larger movements. Some modern mouse-control software incorporates this idea, including that of the Macintosh.

The mouse, still experimental at this stage, did not change until 1971. Several members of Engelbart’s group had moved to the newly established PARC, where many other researchers had seen the SRI mouse and the test report. They decided there was no need to repeat the tests; any experimental systems they designed would use mice.

Said English, “This was my second chance to build a mouse; it was obvious that it should be a lot smaller, and that it should be digital.” Chuck Thacker, then a member of the research staff, advised PARC to hire inventor Jack Hawley to build it.

Hawley decided the mouse should use shaft encoders, which measure position by a series of pulses, instead of potentiometers (both were covered in Engelbart’s 1970 patent), to eliminate the expensive analog-to-digital converters. The basic principle, of one wheel rolling while the other slid, was licensed from SRI.

The ball mouse was the “easiest patent I ever got. It took me five minutes to think of, half an hour to describe to the attorney, and I was done.”
—Ron Rider

In 1972, the mouse changed again. Ron Rider, now vice president of systems architecture at PARC but then a new arrival, said he was using the wheel mouse while an engineer made excuses for its asymmetric operation (one wheel dragging while one turned). “I suggested that they turn a trackball upside down, make it small, and use it as a mouse instead,” Rider told IEEE Spectrum. This device came to be known as the ball mouse. “Easiest patent I ever got,” Rider said. “It took me five minutes to think of, half an hour to describe to the attorney, and I was done.”

Defining terms


Bit map

The pixel pattern that makes up the graphic display on a computer screen.

Clicking

The motion of pressing a mouse button to Initiate an action by software; some actions require double-clicking.

Graphical user interface (GUI)

The combination of windowing displays, menus, icons, and a mouse that is increasingly used on personal computers and workstations.

Icon

An onscreen drawing that represents programs or data.

Menu

A list of command options currently available to the computer user; some stay onscreen, while pop-up or pull-down menus are requested by the user.

Mouse

A device whose motion across a desktop or other surface causes an on-screen cursor to move commensurately; today’s mice move on a ball and have one, two, or three buttons.

Raster display

A cathode ray tube on which Images are displayed as patterns of dots, scanned onto the screen sequentially in a predetermined pattern of lines.

Vector display

A cathode ray tube whose gun scans lines, or vectors, onto the screen phosphor.

Window

An area of a computer display, usually one of several, in which a particular program is executing.


In the PARC ball mouse design, the weight of the mouse is transferred to the ball by a swivel device and on one or two casters at the end of the mouse farthest from the wire “tail.” A prototype was built by Xerox’s Electronics Division in El Segundo, Calif., then redesigned by Hawley. The rolling ball turned two perpendicular shafts, with a drum on the end of each that was coated with alternating stripes of conductive and nonconductive material. As the drum turned, the stripes transmitted electrical impulses through metal wipers.

When Apple Computer decided in 1979 to design a mouse for its Lisa computer, the design mutated yet again. Instead of a metal ball held against the substrate by a swivel, Apple used a rubber ball whose traction depended on the friction of the rubber and the weight of the ball itself. Simple pads on the bottom of the case carried the weight, and optical scanners detected the motion of the internal wheels. The device had loose tolerances and few moving parts, so that it cost perhaps a quarter as much to build as previous ball mice.

How the computer mouse gained and lost buttons

The first, wooden, SRI mouse had only one button, to test the concept. The plastic batch of SRI mice bad three side-by-side buttons—all there was room for, Engelbart said. The first PARC mouse bad a column of three buttons-again, because that best fit the mechanical design. Today, the Apple mouse has one button, while the rest have two or three. The issue is no longer 1950—a standard 6-by-10-cm mouse could now have dozens of buttons—but human factors, and the experts have strong opinions.

Said English, now director of internationalization at Sun Microsystems Inc., Mountain View, Calif.: “Two or three buttons, that’s the debate. Apple made a bad choice when they used only one.” He sees two buttons as the minimum because two functions are basic to selecting an object: pointing to its start, then extending the motion to the end of the object.

William Verplank, a human factors specialist in the group that tested the graphical interface at Xerox from 1978 into the early 1980s, concurred. He told Spectrum that with three buttons, Alto users forgot which button did what. The group’s tests showed that one button was also confusing, because it required actions such as double-clicking to select and then open a file.

“We have agonizing videos of naive users struggling” with these problems, Verplank said. They concluded that for most users, two buttons (as used on the Star) are optimal, if a button means the same thing in every application. English experimented with one-button mice at PARC before concluding they were a bad idea.


“Two or three buttons, that’s the debate. Apple made a bad choice when they used only one.”
—William English


A computer monitor with a chunky white keyboard sitting on a desk

But many interface designers dislike multiple buttons, saying that double-clicking a single button to select an item is easier than remembering which button points and which extends. Larry Tesler, formerly a computer scientist at PARC, brought the one-button mouse to Apple, where he is now vice president of advanced technology. The company’s rationale is that to attract novices to its computers one button was as simple as it could get.

More than two million one-button Apple mice are now in use. The Xerox and Microsoft two-button mice are less common than either Apple’s ubiquitous one-button model or the three-button mice found on technical workstations. Dozens of companies manufacture mice today; most are slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes, with minor variations in shape.

How windows first came to the computer screen


In 1962, Sketchpad could split its screen horizontally into two independent sections. One section could, for example, give a close-up view of the object in the other section. Researchers call Sketchpad the first example of tiled windows, which are laid out side by side. They differ from overlapping windows, which can be stacked on top of each other, or overlaid, obscuring all or part of the lower layers.

Windows were an obvious means of adding functionality to a small screen. In 1969, Engelbart equipped NLS (as the On-Line System he invented at SRI during the 1960s was known, to distinguish it from the Off-Line System known as FLS) with windows. They split the screen into multiple parts horizontally or vertically, and introduced cross-window editing with a mouse.

By 1972, led by researcher Alan Kay, the Smalltalk programming language group at Xerox PARC had implemented their version of windows. They were working with far different technology from Sutherland or Engelbart: by deciding that their images had to be displayed as dots on the screen, they led a move from vector to raster displays, to make it simple to map the assigned memory location of each of those spots. This was the bit map invented at PARC, and made viable during the 1980s by continual performance improvements in processor logic and memory speed.

Experimenting with bit-map manipulation, Smalltalk researcher Dan Ingalls developed the bit-block transfer procedure, known as BitBlt. The BitBlt software enabled application programs to mix and manipulate rectangular arrays of pixel values in on-screen or off-screen memory, or between the two, combining the pixel values and storing the result in the appropriate bit-map location.

BitBlt made it much easier to write programs to scroll a window (move an image through it), resize (enlarge or contract) it, and drag windows (move them from one location to another on screen). It led Kay to create overlapping windows. They were soon implemented by the Smalltalk group, but made clipping harder.

Some researchers question whether overlapping windows offer more benefits than tiled on the grounds that screens with overlapping windows become so messy the user gets lost.

In a tiling system, explained researcher Peter Deutsch, who worked with the Smalltalk group, the clipping borders are simply horizontal or vertical lines from one screen border to another, and software just tracks the location of those lines. But overlapping windows may appear anywhere on the screen, randomly obscuring bits and pieces of other windows, so that quite irregular regions must be clipped. Thus application software must constantly track which portions of their windows remain visible.

Some researchers still question whether overlapping windows offer more benefits than tiled, at least above a certain screen size, on the grounds that screens with overlapping windows become so messy the user gets lost. Others argue that overlapping windows more closely match users’ work patterns, since no one arranges the papers on their physical desktop in neat horizontal and vertical rows. Among software engineers, however, overlapping windows seem to have won for the user interface world.

So has the cut-and-paste editing model that Larry Tesler developed, first for the Gypsy text editor he wrote at PARC and later for Apple. Charles Irby—who worked on Xerox’s windows and is now vice president of development at Metaphor Computer Systems Inc., Mountain View, Calif.—noted, however, that cut-and-paste worked better for pure text-editing than for moving graphic objects from one application to another.

The origin of the computer menu bar


Menus—functions continuously listed onscreen that could be called into action with key combinations—were commonly used in defense computing by the 1960s. But it was only with the advent of BitBlt and windows that menus could be made to appear as needed and to disappear after use. Combined with a pointing device to indicate a user’s selection, they are now an integral part of the user-friendly interface: users no longer need to refer to manuals or memorize available options.

Instead, the choices can be called up at a moment’s notice whenever needed. And menu design has evolved. Some new systems use nested hierarchies of menus; others offer different menu versions—one with the most commonly used commands for novices, another with all available commands for the experienced user.

Among the first to test menus on demand was PARC researcher William Newman, in a program called Markup. Hard on his heels, the Smalltalk group built in pop-up menus that appeared on screen at the cursor site when the user pressed one of the mouse buttons.

Implementation was on the whole straightforward, recalled Deutsch. The one exception was determining whether the menu or the application should keep track of the information temporarily obscured by the menu. In the Smalltalk 76 version, the popup menu saved and restored the screen bits it overwrote. But in today’s multitasking systems, that would not work, because an application may change those bits without the menu’s knowledge. Such systems add another layer to the operating system: a display manager that tracks what is written where.

The production Xerox Star, in 1981, featured a further advance: a menu bar, essentially a row of words indicating available menus that could be popped up for each window. Human factors engineer Verplank recalled that the bar was at first located at the bottom of its window. But the Star team found users were more likely to associate a bar with the window below it, so it was moved to the top of its window.

Apple simplified things in its Lisa and Macintosh with a single bar placed at the top of the screen. This menu bar relates only to the window in use: the menus could be ‘‘pulled down” from the bar, to appear below it. Designer William D. Atkinson received a patent (assigned to Apple Computer) in August 1984 for this innovation.

One new addition that most user interface pioneers consider an advantage is the tear-off menu, which the user can move to a convenient spot on the screen and “pin” there, always visible for ready access.

Many windowing interfaces now offer command-key or keyboard alternatives for many commands as well. This return to the earliest of user interfaces—key combinations—neatly supplements menus, providing both ease of use for novices and for the less experienced, and speed for those who can type faster than they can point to a menu and click on a selection.

How the computer “icon” got its name


Sketchpad had on-screen graphic objects that represented constraints (for example, a rule that lines be the same length), and the Flex machine built in 1967 at the University of Utah by students Alan Kay and Ed Cheadle had squares that represented programs and data (like today’s computer “folders”). Early work on icons was also done by Bell Northern Research, Ottawa, Canada, stemming from efforts to replace the recently legislated bilingual signs with graphic symbols.

But the concept of the computer “icon” was not formalized until 1975. David Canfield Smith, a computer science graduate student at Stanford University in California, began work on his Ph.D. thesis in 1973. His advisor was PARC’s Kay, who suggested that he look at using the graphics power of the experimental Alto not just to display text, but rather to help people program.

David Canfield Smith took the term icon from the Russian Orthodox church, where an icon is more than an image, because it embodies properties of what it represents.

Smith took the term icon from the Russian Orthodox church, where an icon is more than an image, because it embodies properties of what it represents: a Russian icon of a saint is holy and is to be venerated. Smith’s computer icons contained all the properties of the programs and data represented, and therefore could be linked or acted on as if they were the real thing.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1975, Smith joined Xerox in 1976 to work on Star development. The first thing he did, he said, was to recast his concept of icons in office terms. “I looked around my office and saw papers, folders, file cabinets, a telephone, and bookshelves, and it was an easy translation to icons,” he said.

Xerox researchers developed, tested, and revised icons for the Star interface for three years before the first version was complete. At first they attempted to make the icons look like a detailed photographic rendering of the object, recalled Irby, who worked on testing and refining the Xerox windows. Trading off label space, legibility, and the number of icons that fit on the screen, they decided to constrain icons to a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) square of 64 by 64 pixels, or 512 eight-bit bytes.

Then, Verplank recalls, they discovered that because of a background pattern based on two-pixel dots, the right-hand side of the icons appeared jagged. So they increased the width of the icons to 65 pixels, despite an outcry from programmers who liked the neat 16-bit breakdown. But the increase stuck, Verplank said, because they had already decided to store 72 bits per side to allow for white space around each icon.

After settling on a size for the icons, the Star developers tested four sets developed by two graphic designers and two software engineers. They discovered that, for example, resizing may cause problems. They shrunk the icon for a person—a head and shoulders—in order to use several of them to represent a group, only to hear one test subject say the screen resolution made the reduced icon look like a cross above a tombstone. Computer graphics artist Norm Cox, now of Cox & Hall, Dallas, Texas, was finally hired to redesign the icons.

Icon designers today still wrestle with the need to make icons adaptable to the many different system configurations offered by computer makers. Artist Karen Elliott, who has designed icons for Microsoft, Apple, Hewlett-Packard Co., and others, noted that on different systems an icon may be displayed in different colors, several resolutions, and a variety of gray shades, and it may also be inverted (light and dark areas reversed).

In the past few years, another concern has been added to icon designers’ tasks: internationalization. Icons designed in the United States often lack space for translations into languages other than English. Elliott therefore tries to leave space for both the longer words and the vertical orientation of some languages.


A square white macintosh computer with a white keyboard, in a separate image below, computer icons and the text address book, address, addresses

The main rule is to make icons simple, clean, and easily recognizable. Discarded objects are placed in a trash can on the Macintosh. On the NeXT Computer System, from NeXT Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.—the company formed by Apple cofounder Steven Jobs after he left Apple—they are dumped into a Black Hole. Elliott sees NeXT’s black hole as one of the best icons ever designed: ”It is distinct; its roundness stands out from the other, square icons, and this is important on a crowded display. It fits my image of information being sucked away, and it makes it clear that dumping something is serious.

English disagrees vehemently. The black hole “is fundamentally wrong,” he said. “You can dig paper out of a wastebasket, but you can’t dig it out of a black hole.” Another critic called the black hole familiar only to “computer nerds who read mostly science fiction and comics,” not to general users.

With the introduction of the Xerox Star in June 1981, the graphical user interface, as it is known today, arrived on the market. Though not a commercial triumph, the Star generated great interest among computer users, as the Alto before it had within the universe of computer designers.

Even before the Star was introduced, Jobs, then still at Apple, had visited Xerox PARC in November 1979 and asked the Smalltalk researchers dozens of questions about the Alto’s internal design. He later recruited Larry Tesler from Xerox to design the user interface of the Apple Lisa.

With the Lisa and then the Macintosh, introduced in January 1983 and January 1984 respectively, the graphical user interface reached the low-cost, high-volume computer market.

At almost $10,000, buyers deemed the Lisa too expensive for the office market. But aided by prizewinning advertising and its lower price, the Macintosh took the world by storm. Early Macs had only 128K bytes of RAM, which made them slow to respond because it was too little memory for heavy graphic manipulation. Also, the time needed for programmers to learn its Toolbox of graphics routines delayed application packages until well into 1985. But the Mac’s ease of use was indisputable, and it generated interest that spilled over into the MS-DOS world of IBM PCs and clones, as well as Unix-based workstations.

Who owns the graphical user interface?


The widespread acceptance of such interfaces, however, has led to bitter lawsuits to establish exactly who owns what. So far, none of several litigious companies has definitively established that it owns the software that implements windows, icons, or early versions of menus. But the suits continue.

Virtually all the companies that make and sell either wheel or ball mice paid license fees to SRI or to Xerox for their patents. Engelbart recalled that SRI patent attorneys inspected all the early work on the interface, but understood only hardware. After looking at developments like the implementation of windows, they told him that none of it was patentable.

At Xerox, the Star development team proposed 12 patents having to do with the user interface. The company’s patent committee rejected all but two on hardware—one on BitBlt, the other on the Star architecture. At the time, Charles Irby said, it was a good decision. Patenting required full disclosure, and no precedents then existed for winning software patent suits.


A computer screen in blue and white with multiple open windows


Three computer windows with greyscale images on a dark grey background


Computer windows tinted blue on a black background partially obscuring a planet and starfield


The most recent and most publicized suit was filed in March 1988, by Apple, against both Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif. Apple alleges that HP’s New Wave interface, requiring version 2.03 of Microsoft’s Windows program, embodies the copyrighted “audio visual computer display” of the Macintosh without permission; that the displays of Windows 2.03 are illegal copies of the Mac’s audiovisual works; and that Windows 2.03 also exceeds the rights granted in a November 198S agreement in which Microsoft acknowledged that the displays in Windows 1.0 were derivatives of those in Apple’s Lisa and Mac.

In March 1989, U.S. District Judge William W. Schwarzer ruled Microsoft had exceeded the bounds of its license in creating Windows 2.03. Then in July 1989 Schwarzer ruled that all but 11 of the 260 items that Apple cited in its suit were, in fact, acceptable under the 1985 agreement. The larger issue—whether Apple’s copyrights are valid, and whether Microsoft and HP infringed on them—will not now be examined until 1990.

Among those 11 are overlapping windows and movable icons. According to Pamela Samuelson, a noted software intellectual property expert and visiting professor at Emory University Law School, Atlanta, Ga., many experts would regard both as functional features of an interface that cannot be copyrighted, rather than “expressions” of an idea protectable by copyright.

But lawyers for Apple—and for other companies that have filed lawsuits to protect the “look and feel’’ of their screen displays—maintain that if such protection is not granted, companies will lose the economic incentive to market technological innovations. How is Apple to protect its investment in developing the Lisa and Macintosh, they argue, if it cannot license its innovations to companies that want to take advantage of them?

If the Apple-Microsoft case does go to trial on the copyright issues, Samuelson said, the court may have to consider whether Apple can assert copyright protection for overlapping windows-an interface feature on which patents have also been granted. In April 1989, for example, Quarterdeck Office Systems Inc., Santa Monica, Calif., received a patent for a multiple windowing system in its Desq system software, introduced in 1984.

Adding fuel to the legal fire, Xerox said in May 1989 it would ask for license fees from companies that use the graphical user interface. But it is unclear whether Xerox has an adequate claim to either copyright or patent protection for the early graphical interface work done at PARC. Xerox did obtain design patents on later icons, noted human factors engineer Verplank. Meanwhile, both Metaphor and Sun Microsystems have negotiated licenses with Xerox for their own interfaces.

To Probe Further

The September 1989 IEEE Computer contains an article, “The Xerox ‘Star’: A Retrospective,” by Jeff Johnson et al., covering development of the Star. “Designing the Star User Interface,’’ [PDF] by David C. Smith et al., appeared in the April 1982 issue of Byte.

The Sept. 12, 1989, PC Magazine contains six articles on graphical user interfaces for personal computers and workstations. The July 1989 Byte includes ‘‘A Guide to [Graphical User Interfaces),” by Frank Hayes and Nick Baran, which describes 12 current interfaces for workstations and personal computers. “The Interface of Tomorrow, Today,’’ by Howard Reingold, in the July 10, 1989, InfoWorld does the same. “The interface that launched a thousand imitations,” by Richard Rawles, in the March 21, 1989, MacWeek covers the Macintosh interface.

The human factors of user interface design are discussed in The Psychology of Everyday Things, by Donald A. Norman (Basic Books Inc., New York, 1988). The January 1989 IEEE Software contains several articles on methods, techniques, and tools for designing and implementing graphical interfaces. The Way Things Work, by David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1988), contains a detailed drawing of a ball mouse.

The October 1985 IEEE Spectrum covered Xerox PARC’s history in “Research at Xerox PARC: a founder’s assessment,” by George Pake (pp. 54-61) and “Inside the PARC: the ‘information architects,’“ by Tekla Perry and Paul Wallich (pp. 62-75).

William Atkinson received patent no. 4,464,652 for the pulldown menu system on Aug. 8, 1984, and assigned it to Apple. Gary Pope received patent no. 4,823,108, for an improved system for displaying images in “windows” on a computer screen, on April 18, 1989, and assigned it to Quarterdeck Office Systems.

The wheel mouse patent, no. 3,541,541, “X-Y position indicator for a display system,” was issued to Douglas Engelbart on Nov. 17, 1970, and assigned to SRI International. The ball mouse patent, no. 3,835,464, was issued to Ronald Rider on Sept. 10, 1974, and assigned to Xerox.

The first selection device tests to include a mouse are covered in “Display-Selection Techniques for Text Manipulation,” by William English, Douglas Engelbart, and Melvyn Berman, in IEEE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics, March 1967.

Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System, by Ivan E. Sutherland (Garland Publishing Inc., New York City and London, 1980), reprints his 1963 Ph.D. thesis.










Match ID: 165 Score: 7.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 7 days
qualifiers: 7.14 mit

How the First Transistor Worked
Sun, 20 Nov 2022 16:00:00 +0000


The vacuum-tube triode wasn’t quite 20 years old when physicists began trying to create its successor, and the stakes were huge. Not only had the triode made long-distance telephony and movie sound possible, it was driving the entire enterprise of commercial radio, an industry worth more than a billion dollars in 1929. But vacuum tubes were power-hungry and fragile. If a more rugged, reliable, and efficient alternative to the triode could be found, the rewards would be immense.

The goal was a three-terminal device made out of semiconductors that would accept a low-current signal into an input terminal and use it to control the flow of a larger current flowing between two other terminals, thereby amplifying the original signal. The underlying principle of such a device would be something called the field effect—the ability of electric fields to modulate the electrical conductivity of semiconductor materials. The field effect was already well known in those days, thanks to diodes and related research on semiconductors.


A photo of a cutaway of a point-contact of a transistor.  In the cutaway photo of a point-contact, two thin conductors are visible; these connect to the points that make contact with a tiny slab of germanium. One of these points is the emitter and the other is the collector. A third contact, the base, is attached to the reverse side of the germanium.AT&T ARCHIVES AND HISTORY CENTER

But building such a device had proved an insurmountable challenge to some of the world’s top physicists for more than two decades. Patents for transistor-like devices had been filed starting in 1925, but the first recorded instance of a working transistor was the legendary point-contact device built at AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories in the fall of 1947.

Though the point-contact transistor was the most important invention of the 20th century, there exists, surprisingly, no clear, complete, and authoritative account of how the thing actually worked. Modern, more robust junction and planar transistors rely on the physics in the bulk of a semiconductor, rather than the surface effects exploited in the first transistor. And relatively little attention has been paid to this gap in scholarship.

It was an ungainly looking assemblage of germanium, plastic, and gold foil, all topped by a squiggly spring. Its inventors were a soft-spoken Midwestern theoretician, John Bardeen, and a voluble and “ somewhat volatile” experimentalist, Walter Brattain. Both were working under William Shockley, a relationship that would later prove contentious. In November 1947, Bardeen and Brattain were stymied by a simple problem. In the germanium semiconductor they were using, a surface layer of electrons seemed to be blocking an applied electric field, preventing it from penetrating the semiconductor and modulating the flow of current. No modulation, no signal amplification.


Sometime late in 1947 they hit on a solution. It featured two pieces of barely separated gold foil gently pushed by that squiggly spring into the surface of a small slab of germanium.

Textbooks and popular accounts alike tend to ignore the mechanism of the point-contact transistor in favor of explaining how its more recent descendants operate. Indeed, the current edition of that bible of undergraduate EEs, The Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill, makes no mention of the point-contact transistor at all, glossing over its existence by erroneously stating that the junction transistor was a “Nobel Prize-winning invention in 1947.” But the transistor that was invented in 1947 was the point-contact; the junction transistor was invented by Shockley in 1948.

So it seems appropriate somehow that the most comprehensive explanation of the point-contact transistor is contained within John Bardeen’s lecture for that Nobel Prize, in 1956. Even so, reading it gives you the sense that a few fine details probably eluded even the inventors themselves. “A lot of people were confused by the point-contact transistor,” says Thomas Misa, former director of the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Science and Technology, at the University of Minnesota.

Textbooks and popular accounts alike tend to ignore the mechanism of the point-contact transistor in favor of explaining how its more recent descendants operate.

A year after Bardeen’s lecture, R. D. Middlebrook, a professor of electrical engineering at Caltech who would go on to do pioneering work in power electronics, wrote: “Because of the three-dimensional nature of the device, theoretical analysis is difficult and the internal operation is, in fact, not yet completely understood.”

Nevertheless, and with the benefit of 75 years of semiconductor theory, here we go. The point-contact transistor was built around a thumb-size slab of n-type germanium, which has an excess of negatively charged electrons. This slab was treated to produce a very thin surface layer that was p-type, meaning it had an excess of positive charges. These positive charges are known as holes. They are actually localized deficiencies of electrons that move among the atoms of the semiconductor very much as a real particle would. An electrically grounded electrode was attached to the bottom of this slab, creating the base of the transistor. The two strips of gold foil touching the surface formed two more electrodes, known as the emitter and the collector.

That’s the setup. In operation, a small positive voltage—just a fraction of a volt—is applied to the emitter, while a much larger negative voltage—4 to 40 volts—is applied to the collector, all with reference to the grounded base. The interface between the p-type layer and the n-type slab created a junction just like the one found in a diode: Essentially, the junction is a barrier that allows current to flow easily in only one direction, toward lower voltage. So current could flow from the positive emitter across the barrier, while no current could flow across that barrier into the collector.

A photo of rows of people sitting in front of microscopes and stacks of transistors. The Western Electric Type-2 point-contact transistor was the first transistor to be manufactured in large quantities, in 1951, at Western Electric’s plant in Allentown, Pa. By 1960, when this photo was taken, the plant had switched to producing junction transistors.AT&T ARCHIVES AND HISTORY CENTER

Now, let’s look at what happens down among the atoms. First, we’ll disconnect the collector and see what happens around the emitter without it. The emitter injects positive charges—holes—into the p-type layer, and they begin moving toward the base. But they don’t make a beeline toward it. The thin layer forces them to spread out laterally for some distance before passing through the barrier into the n-type slab. Think about slowly pouring a small amount of fine powder onto the surface of water. The powder eventually sinks, but first it spreads out in a rough circle.

Now we connect the collector. Even though it can’t draw current by itself through the barrier of the p-n junction, its large negative voltage and pointed shape do result in a concentrated electric field that penetrates the germanium. Because the collector is so close to the emitter, and is also negatively charged, it begins sucking up many of the holes that are spreading out from the emitter. This charge flow results in a concentration of holes near the p-n barrier underneath the collector. This concentration effectively lowers the “height” of the barrier that would otherwise prevent current from flowing between the collector and the base. With the barrier lowered, current starts flowing from the base into the collector—much more current than what the emitter is putting into the transistor.

The amount of current depends on the height of the barrier. Small decreases or increases in the emitter’s voltage cause the barrier to fluctuate up and down, respectively. Thus very small changes in the the emitter current control very large changes at the collector, so voilà! Amplification. (EEs will notice that the functions of base and emitter are reversed compared with those in later transistors, where the base, not the emitter, controls the response of the transistor.)

Ungainly and fragile though it was, it was a semiconductor amplifier, and its progeny would change the world. And its inventors knew it. The fateful day was 16 December 1947, when Brattain hit on the idea of using a plastic triangle belted by a strip of gold foil, with that tiny slit separating the emitter and collector contacts. This configuration gave reliable power gain, and the duo knew then that they had succeeded. In his carpool home that night, Brattain told his companions he’d just done “the most important experiment that I’d ever do in my life” and swore them to secrecy. The taciturn Bardeen, too, couldn’t resist sharing the news. As his wife, Jane, prepared dinner that night, he reportedly said, simply, “We discovered something today.” With their children scampering around the kitchen, she responded, “That’s nice, dear.

It was a transistor, at last, but it was pretty rickety. The inventors later hit on the idea of electrically forming the collector by passing large currents through it during the transistor’s manufacturing. This technique enabled them to get somewhat larger current flows that weren’t so tightly confined within the surface layer. The electrical forming was a bit hit-or-miss, though. “They would just throw out the ones that didn’t work,” Misa notes.

Nevertheless, point-contact transistors went into production at many companies, under license to AT&T, and, in 1951, at AT&T’s own manufacturing arm, Western Electric. They were used in hearing aids, oscillators, telephone-routing gear, in an experimental TV receiver built at RCA, and in the Tradic, the first airborne digital computer, among other systems. In fact, point-contact transistors remained in production until 1966, in part due to their superior speed compared with the alternatives.

The fateful day was 16 December 1947, when Brattain hit on the idea of using a plastic triangle belted by a strip of gold foil…

The Bell Labs group wasn’t alone in its successful pursuit of a transistor. In Aulnay-sous-Bois, a suburb northeast of Paris, two German physicists, Herbert Mataré and Heinrich Welker, were also trying to build a three-terminal semiconductor amplifier. Working for a French subsidiary of Westinghouse, they were following up on very intriguing observations Mataré had made while developing germanium and silicon rectifiers for the German military in 1944. The two succeeded in creating a reliable point-contact transistor in June 1948.

They were astounded, a week or so later, when Bell Labs finally revealed the news of its own transistor, at a press conference on 30 June 1948. Though they were developed completely independently, and in secret, the two devices were more or less identical.

Here the story of the transistor takes a weird turn, breathtaking in its brilliance and also disturbing in its details. Bardeen’s and Brattain’s boss, William Shockley, was furious that his name was not included with Bardeen’s and Brattain’s on the original patent application for the transistor. He was convinced that Bardeen and Brattain had merely spun his theories about using fields in semiconductors into their working device, and had failed to give him sufficient credit. Yet in 1945, Shockley had built a transistor based on those very theories, and it hadn’t worked.

A photo of a man in a jacket placing a transistor in a device. In 1953, RCA engineer Gerald Herzog led a team that designed and built the first "all-transistor" television (although, yes, it had a cathode-ray tube). The team used point-contact transistors produced by RCA under a license from Bell Labs. TRANSISTOR MUSEUM JERRY HERZOG ORAL HISTORY

At the end of December, barely two weeks after the initial success of the point-contact transistor, Shockley traveled to Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Physical Society. On New Year’s Eve, holed up in his hotel room and fueled by a potent mix of jealousy and indignation, he began designing a transistor of his own. In three days he scribbled some 30 pages of notes. By the end of the month, he had the basic design for what would become known as the bipolar junction transistor, or BJT, which would eventually supersede the point-contact transistor and reign as the dominant transistor until the late 1970s.

A photo of a group of transistors With insights gleaned from the Bell Labs work, RCA began developing its own point-contact transistors in 1948. The group included the seven shown here—four of which were used in RCA's experimental, 22-transistor television set built in 1953. These four were the TA153 [top row, second from left], the TA165 [top, far right], the TA156 [bottom row, middle] and the TA172 [bottom, right].TRANSISTOR MUSEUM JONATHAN HOPPE COLLECTION

The BJT was based on Shockley’s conviction that charges could, and should, flow through the bulk semiconductors rather than through a thin layer on their surface. The device consisted of three semiconductor layers, like a sandwich: an emitter, a base in the middle, and a collector. They were alternately doped, so there were two versions: n-type/p-type/n-type, called “NPN,” and p-type/n-type/p-type, called “PNP.”

The BJT relies on essentially the same principles as the point-contact, but it uses two p-n junctions instead of one. When used as an amplifier, a positive voltage applied to the base allows a small current to flow between it and the emitter, which in turn controls a large current between the collector and emitter.

Consider an NPN device. The base is p-type, so it has excess holes. But it is very thin and lightly doped, so there are relatively few holes. A tiny fraction of the electrons flowing in combines with these holes and are removed from circulation, while the vast majority (more than 97 percent) of electrons keep flowing through the thin base and into the collector, setting up a strong current flow.

But those few electrons that do combine with holes must be drained from the base in order to maintain the p-type nature of the base and the strong flow of current through it. That removal of the “trapped” electrons is accomplished by a relatively small flow of current through the base. That trickle of current enables the much stronger flow of current into the collector, and then out of the collector and into the collector circuit. So, in effect, the small base current is controlling the larger collector circuit.

Electric fields come into play, but they do not modulate the current flow, which the early theoreticians thought would have to happen for such a device to function. Here’s the gist: Both of the p-n junctions in a BJT are straddled by depletion regions, in which electrons and holes combine and there are relatively few mobile charge carriers. Voltage applied across the junctions sets up electric fields at each, which push charges across those regions. These fields enable electrons to flow all the way from the emitter, across the base, and into the collector.

In the BJT, “the applied electric fields affect the carrier density, but because that effect is exponential, it only takes a little bit to create a lot of diffusion current,” explains Ioannis “John” Kymissis, chair of the department of electrical engineering at Columbia University.

An illustration of a point-contact transistor. The very first transistors were a type known as point contact, because they relied on metal contacts touching the surface of a semiconductor. They ramped up output current—labeled “Collector current” in the top diagram—by using an applied voltage to overcome a barrier to charge flow. Small changes to the input, or “emitter,” current modulate this barrier, thus controlling the output current.

An illustration of a Bipolar Junction Transistor The bipolar junction transistor accomplishes amplification using much the same principles but with two semiconductor interfaces, or junctions, rather than one. As with the point-contact transistor, an applied voltage overcomes a barrier and enables current flow that is modulated by a smaller input current. In particular, the semiconductor junctions are straddled by depletion regions, across which the charge carriers diffuse under the influence of an electric field.Chris Philpot

The BJT was more rugged and reliable than the point-contact transistor, and those features primed it for greatness. But it took a while for that to become obvious. The BJT was the technology used to make integrated circuits, from the first ones in the early 1960s all the way until the late 1970s, when metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) took over. In fact, it was these field-effect transistors, first the junction field-effect transistor and then MOSFETs, that finally realized the decades-old dream of a three-terminal semiconductor device whose operation was based on the field effect—Shockley’s original ambition.

Such a glorious future could scarcely be imagined in the early 1950s, when AT&T and others were struggling to come up with practical and efficient ways to manufacture the new BJTs. Shockley himself went on to literally put the silicon into Silicon Valley. He moved to Palo Alto and in 1956 founded a company that led the switch from germanium to silicon as the electronic semiconductor of choice. Employees from his company would go on to found Fairchild Semiconductor, and then Intel.

Later in his life, after losing his company because of his terrible management, he became a professor at Stanford and began promulgating ungrounded and unhinged theories about race, genetics, and intelligence. In 1951 Bardeen left Bell Labs to become a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he won a second Nobel Prize for physics, for a theory of superconductivity. (He is the only person to have won two Nobel Prizes in physics.) Brattain stayed at Bell Labs until 1967, when he joined the faculty at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Wash.

Shockley died a largely friendless pariah in 1989. But his transistor would change the world, though it was still not clear as late as 1953 that the BJT would be the future. In an interview that year, Donald G. Fink, who would go on to help establish the IEEE a decade later, mused, “Is it a pimpled adolescent, now awkward, but promising future vigor? Or has it arrived at maturity, full of languor, surrounded by disappointments?”

It was the former, and all of our lives are so much the better because of it.

This article appears in the December 2022 print issue as “The First Transistor and How it Worked .”


Match ID: 166 Score: 7.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 7 days
qualifiers: 7.14 mit

The Evacuation of the CIA’s Afghan Proxies Has Opened One of the War’s Blackest Boxes
Sun, 20 Nov 2022 11:00:42 +0000

Former Zero Unit members are facing a reversal of fortune that is humiliating, infuriating, and utterly intractable.

The post The Evacuation of the CIA’s Afghan Proxies Has Opened One of the War’s Blackest Boxes appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 167 Score: 7.14 source: theintercept.com age: 7 days
qualifiers: 7.14 mit

The EV Transition Explained: Battery Challenges
Sat, 19 Nov 2022 19:30:00 +0000


“Energy and information are two basic currencies of organic and social systems,” the economics Nobelist Herb Simon once observed. A new technology that alters the terms on which one or the other of these is available to a system can work on it the most profound changes.”

Electric vehicles at scale alter the terms of both basic currencies concurrently. Reliable, secure supplies of minerals and software are core elements for EVs, which represent a “shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system,” according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). For example, the mineral requirements for an EV’s batteries and electric motors are six times that of an internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicle, which can increase the average weight of an EV by 340 kilograms (750 pounds). For something like the Ford Lightning, the weight can be more than twice that amount.

EVs also create a shift from an electromechanical-intensive to an information-intensive vehicle. EVs offer a virtual clean slate from which to accelerate the design of safe, software-defined vehicles, with computing and supporting electronics being the prime enabler of a vehicle’s features, functions, and value. Software also allows for the decoupling of the internal mechanical connections needed in an ICE vehicle, permitting an EV to be controlled remotely or autonomously. An added benefit is that the loss of the ICE power train not only reduces the components a vehicle requires but also frees up space for increased passenger comfort and storage.

The effects of Simon’s profound changes are readily apparent, forcing a 120-year-old industry to fundamentally reinvent itself. EVs require automakers to design new manufacturing processes and build plants to make both EVs and their batteries. Ramping up the battery supply chain is the automakers’ current “most challenging topic,” according to VW chief financial officer Arno Antlitz.

It can take five or more years to get a lithium mine up and going, but operations can start only after it has secured the required permits, a process that itself can take years.

These plants are also very expensive. Ford and its Korean battery supplier SK Innovation are spending US $5.6 billion to produce F-Series EVs and batteries in Stanton, Tenn., for example, while GM is spending $2 billion to produce its new Cadillac Lyriq EVs in Spring Hill, Tenn. As automakers expand their lines of EVs, tens of billions more will need to be invested in both manufacturing and battery plants. It is little wonder that Tesla CEO Elon Musk calls EV factories “gigantic money furnaces.”

Furthermore, Kristin Dziczek a policy analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago adds, there are scores of new global EV competitors actively seeking to replace the legacy automakers. The “simplicity” of EVs in comparison with ICE vehicles allows these disruptors to compete virtually from scratch with legacy automakers, not only in the car market itself but for the material and labor inputs as well.

Batteries and the supply-chain challenge

Another critical question is whether all the planned battery-plant output will support expected EV production demands. For instance, the United States will require 8 million EV batteries annually by 2030 if its target to make EVs half of all new-vehicle sales is met, with that number rising each year after. As IEA executive director Fatih Birol observes, “Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realizing those ambitions.”

This mismatch worries automakers. GM, Ford, Tesla, and others have moved to secure batteries through 2025, but it could be tricky after that. Rivian Automotive chief executive RJ Scaringe was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that “90 to 95 percent of the (battery) supply chain does not exist,” and that the current semiconductor chip shortage is “a small appetizer to what we are about to feel on battery cells over the next two decades.”

The competition for securing raw materials, along with the increased consumer demand, has caused EV prices to spike. Ford has raised the price of the Lightning $6,000 to $8,500, and CEO Jim Farley bluntly states that in regard to material shortages in the foreseeable future, “I don’t think we should be confident in any other outcomes than an increase in prices.”

Stiff Competition for Engineering Talent


One critical area of resource competition is over the limited supply of software and systems engineers with the mechatronics and robotics expertise needed for EVs. Major automakers have moved aggressively to bring more software and systems-engineering expertise on board, rather than have it reside at their suppliers, as they have traditionally done. Automakers feel that if they're not in control of the software, they're not in control of their product.

Volvo’s CEO Jim Rowan stated earlier this year that increasing the computing power in EVs will be harder and more altering of the automotive industry than switching from ICE vehicles to EVs. This means that EV winners and losers will in great part be separated by their “relative strength in their cyberphysical systems engineering,” states Clemson’s Paredis.

Even for the large auto suppliers, the transition to EVs will not be an easy road. For instance, automakers are demanding these suppliers absorb more cost cuts because automakers are finding EVs so expensive to build. Not only do automakers want to bring cutting-edge software expertise in-house, they want greater inside expertise in critical EV supply-chain components, especially batteries.

Automakers, including Tesla, are all scrambling for battery talent, with bidding wars reportedly breaking out to acquire top candidates. With automakers planning to spend more than $13 billion to build at least 13 new EV battery plants in North America within the next five to seven years, experienced management and production-line talent will likely be in extremely short supply. Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory needs some 10,000 workers alone, for example. With at least 60 new battery plants planned to be in operation globally by 2030, and scores needed soon afterward, major battery makers are already highlighting their expected skill shortages.


The underlying reason for the worry: Supplying sufficient raw materials to existing and planned battery plants as well as to the manufacturers of other renewable energy sources and military systems—who are competing for the same materials—has several complications to overcome. Among them is the need for more mines to provide the metals required, which have spiked in price as demand has increased. For example, while demand for lithium is growing rapidly, investment in mines has significantly lagged the investment that has been aimed toward EVs and battery plants. It can take five or more years to get a lithium mine up and going, but operations can start only after it has secured the required permits, a process that itself can take years.

Mining the raw materials, of course, assumes that there is sufficient refining capability to process them, which, outside of China, is limited. This is especially true in the United States, which, according to a Biden Administration special supply-chain investigative report, has “limited raw material production capacity and virtually no processing capacity.” Consequently, the report states, the United States “exports the limited raw materials produced today to foreign markets.” For example, output from the only nickel mine in the United States, the Eagle mine in Minnesota, is sent to Canada for smelting.

“Energy and information are two basic currencies of organic and social systems. A new technology that alters the terms on which one or the other of these is available to a system can work on it the most profound changes.” —Herb Simon

One possible solution is to move away from lithium-ion batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries to other battery chemistries such as lithium-iron phosphate, lithium-ion phosphate, lithium-sulfur, lithium-metal, and sodium-ion, among many others, not to mention solid-state batteries, as a way to alleviate some of the material supply and cost problems. Tesla is moving toward the use of lithium-iron phosphate batteries, as is Ford for some of its vehicles. These batteries are cobalt free, which alleviates several sourcing issues.

Another solution may be recycling both EV batteries as well as the waste and rejects from battery manufacturing, which can run between 5 to 10 percent of production. Effective recycling of EV batteries “has the potential to reduce primary demand compared to total demand in 2040, by approximately 25 percent for lithium, 35 percent for cobalt and nickel, and 55 percent for copper,” according to a report by the University of Sidney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.



While investments into creating EV battery recycling facilities have started, there is a looming question of whether there will be enough battery factory scrap and other lithium-ion battery waste for them to remain operational while they wait for sufficient numbers of batteries to make them profitable. Lithium-ion battery-pack recycling is very time-consuming and expensive, making mining lithium often cheaper than recycling it, for example. Recycling low or no-cobalt lithium batteries, which is the direction many automakers are taking, may also make it unprofitable to recycle them.

An additional concern is that EV batteries, once no longer useful for propelling the EV, have years of life left in them. They can be refurbished, rebuilt, and reused in EVs, or repurposed into storage devices for homes, businesses, or the grid. Whether it will make economic sense to do either at scale versus recycling them remains to be seen.

Howard Nusbaum, the administrator of the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP), succinctly puts it, “There is no recycling, and no EV-recycling industry, if there is no economic basis for one.”

In the next article in the series, we will look at whether the grid can handle tens of millions of EVs.


Match ID: 168 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?
Sat, 19 Nov 2022 16:00:01 +0000


Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

The fundamental technology that these companies rely on is not new: Electroencephalography (EEG) has been around for about a century, and it’s commonly used today in both medicine and neuroscience research. For those applications, the subject may have up to 256 electrodes attached to their scalp with conductive gel to record electrical signals from neurons in different parts of the brain. More electrodes, or “channels,” mean that doctors and scientists can get better spatial resolution in their readouts—they can better tell which neurons are associated with which electrical signals.

What is new is that EEG has recently broken out of clinics and labs and has entered the consumer marketplace. This move has been driven by a new class of “dry” electrodes that can operate without conductive gel, a substantial reduction in the number of electrodes necessary to collect useful data, and advances in artificial intelligence that make it far easier to interpret the data. Some EEG headsets are even available directly to consumers for a few hundred dollars.

While the public may not have gotten the memo, experts say the neurotechnology is mature and ready for commercial applications. “This is not sci-fi,” says James Giordano, chief of neuroethics studies at Georgetown University Medical Center. “This is quite real.”

How InnerEye’s TSA-boosting technology works

InnerEye Security Screening Demo youtu.be

In an office in Herzliya, Israel, Sergey Vaisman sits in front of a computer. He’s relaxed but focused, silent and unmoving, and not at all distracted by the seven-channel EEG headset he’s wearing. On the computer screen, images rapidly appear and disappear, one after another. At a rate of three images per second, it’s just possible to tell that they come from an airport X-ray scanner. It’s essentially impossible to see anything beyond fleeting impressions of ghostly bags and their contents.

“Our brain is an amazing machine,” Vaisman tells us as the stream of images ends. The screen now shows an album of selected X-ray images that were just flagged by Vaisman’s brain, most of which are now revealed to have hidden firearms. No one can knowingly identify and flag firearms among the jumbled contents of bags when three images are flitting by every second, but Vaisman’s brain has no problem doing so behind the scenes, with no action required on his part. The brain processes visual imagery very quickly. According to Vaisman, the decision-making process to determine whether there’s a gun in complex images like these takes just 300 milliseconds.

Brain data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier.

What takes much more time are the cognitive and motor processes that occur after the decision making—planning a response (such as saying something or pushing a button) and then executing that response. If you can skip these planning and execution phases and instead use EEG to directly access the output of the brain’s visual processing and decision-making systems, you can perform image-recognition tasks far faster. The user no longer has to actively think: For an expert, just that fleeting first impression is enough for their brain to make an accurate determination of what’s in the image.

An illustration of a person in front of screens with suitcases above it.  InnerEye’s image-classification system operates at high speed by providing a shortcut to the brain of an expert human. As an expert focuses on a continuous stream of images (from three to 10 images per second, depending on complexity), a commercial EEG system combined with InnerEye’s software can distinguish the characteristic response the expert’s brain produces when it recognizes a target. In this example, the target is a weapon in an X-ray image of a suitcase, representing an airport-security application.Chris Philpot

Vaisman is the vice president of R&D of InnerEye, an Israel-based startup that recently came out of stealth mode. InnerEye uses deep learning to classify EEG signals into responses that indicate “targets” and “nontargets.” Targets can be anything that a trained human brain can recognize. In addition to developing security screening, InnerEye has worked with doctors to detect tumors in medical images, with farmers to identify diseased plants, and with manufacturing experts to spot product defects. For simple cases, InnerEye has found that our brains can handle image recognition at rates of up to 10 images per second. And, Vaisman says, the company’s system produces results just as accurate as a human would when recognizing and tagging images manually—InnerEye is merely using EEG as a shortcut to that person’s brain to drastically speed up the process.

While using the InnerEye technology doesn’t require active decision making, it does require training and focus. Users must be experts at the task, well trained in identifying a given type of target, whether that’s firearms or tumors. They must also pay close attention to what they’re seeing—they can’t just zone out and let images flash past. InnerEye’s system measures focus very accurately, and if the user blinks or stops concentrating momentarily, the system detects it and shows the missed images again.

Can you spot the manufacturing defects?

Examine the sample images below, and then try to spot the target among the nontargets.

Ten images are displayed every second for five seconds on loop. There are three targets.

A pair of black and white images.  The left is labelled "non target" and the right is "target." there is a red circle around a black line on the right image.

A gif of a black and white static image

Can you spot the weapon?

Three images are displayed every second for five seconds on loop. There is one weapon.

A gif of x-rayed pieces of luggage. InnerEye

Having a human brain in the loop is especially important for classifying data that may be open to interpretation. For example, a well-trained image classifier may be able to determine with reasonable accuracy whether an X-ray image of a suitcase shows a gun, but if you want to determine whether that X-ray image shows something else that’s vaguely suspicious, you need human experience. People are capable of detecting something unusual even if they don’t know quite what it is.

“We can see that uncertainty in the brain waves,” says InnerEye founder and chief technology officer Amir Geva. “We know when they aren’t sure.” Humans have a unique ability to recognize and contextualize novelty, a substantial advantage that InnerEye’s system has over AI image classifiers. InnerEye then feeds that nuance back into its AI models. “When a human isn’t sure, we can teach AI systems to be not sure, which is better training than teaching the AI system just one or zero,” says Geva. “There is a need to combine human expertise with AI.” InnerEye’s system enables this combination, as every image can be classified by both computer vision and a human brain.

Using InnerEye’s system is a positive experience for its users, the company claims. “When we start working with new users, the first experience is a bit overwhelming,” Vaisman says. “But in one or two sessions, people get used to it, and they start to like it.” Geva says some users do find it challenging to maintain constant focus throughout a session, which lasts up to 20 minutes, but once they get used to working at three images per second, even two images per second feels “too slow.”

In a security-screening application, three images per second is approximately an order of magnitude faster than an expert can manually achieve. InnerEye says their system allows far fewer humans to handle far more data, with just two human experts redundantly overseeing 15 security scanners at once, supported by an AI image-recognition system that is being trained at the same time, using the output from the humans’ brains.

InnerEye is currently partnering with a handful of airports around the world on pilot projects. And it’s not the only company working to bring neurotech into the workplace.

How Emotiv’s brain-tracking technology works

Workers wearing earbuds sit in an office in front of computers. Emotiv’s MN8 earbuds collect two channels of EEG brain data. The earbuds can also be used for phone calls and music. Emotiv

When it comes to neural monitoring for productivity and well-being in the workplace, the San Francisco–based company Emotiv is leading the charge. Since its founding 11 years ago, Emotiv has released three models of lightweight brain-scanning headsets. Until now the company had mainly sold its hardware to neuroscientists, with a sideline business aimed at developers of brain-controlled apps or games. Emotiv started advertising its technology as an enterprise solution only this year, when it released its fourth model, the MN8 system, which tucks brain-scanning sensors into a pair of discreet Bluetooth earbuds.

Tan Le, Emotiv’s CEO and cofounder, sees neurotech as the next trend in wearables, a way for people to get objective “brain metrics” of mental states, enabling them to track and understand their cognitive and mental well-being. “I think it’s reasonable to imagine that five years from now this [brain tracking] will be quite ubiquitous,” she says. When a company uses the MN8 system, workers get insight into their individual levels of focus and stress, and managers get aggregated and anonymous data about their teams.

The Emotiv Experience

Illustration of head with an earpiece in.  With columns of data on either side. The Emotiv Experience Chris Philpot

Emotiv’s MN8 system uses earbuds to capture two channels of EEG data, from which the company’s proprietary algorithms derive performance metrics for attention and cognitive stress. It’s very difficult to draw conclusions from raw EEG signals [top], especially with only two channels of data. The MN8 system relies on machine-learning models that Emotiv developed using a decade’s worth of data from its earlier headsets, which have more electrodes.

To determine a worker’s level of attention and cognitive stress, the MN8 system uses a variety of analyses. One shown here [middle, bar graphs] reveals increased activity in the low-frequency ranges (theta and alpha) when a worker’s attention is high and cognitive stress is low; when the worker has low attention and high stress, there’s more activity in the higher-frequency ranges (beta and gamma). This analysis and many others feed into the models that present simplified metrics of attention and cognitive stress [bottom] to the worker.

Emotiv launched its enterprise technology into a world that is fiercely debating the future of the workplace. Workers are feuding with their employers about return-to-office plans following the pandemic, and companies are increasingly using “ bossware” to keep tabs on employees—whether staffers or gig workers, working in the office or remotely. Le says Emotiv is aware of these trends and is carefully considering which companies to work with as it debuts its new gear. “The dystopian potential of this technology is not lost on us,” she says. “So we are very cognizant of choosing partners that want to introduce this technology in a responsible way—they have to have a genuine desire to help and empower employees,” she says.

Lee Daniels, a consultant who works for the global real estate services company JLL, has spoken with a lot of C-suite executives lately. “They’re worried,” says Daniels. “There aren’t as many people coming back to the office as originally anticipated—the hybrid model is here to stay, and it’s highly complex.” Executives come to Daniels asking how to manage a hybrid workforce. “This is where the neuroscience comes in,” he says.

Emotiv has partnered with JLL, which has begun to use the MN8 earbuds to help its clients collect “true scientific data,” Daniels says, about workers’ attention, distraction, and stress, and how those factors influence both productivity and well-being. Daniels says JLL is currently helping its clients run short-term experiments using the MN8 system to track workers’ responses to new collaboration tools and various work settings; for example, employers could compare the productivity of in-office and remote workers.

“The dystopian potential of this technology is not lost on us.” —Tan Le, Emotiv CEO

Emotiv CTO Geoff Mackellar believes the new MN8 system will succeed because of its convenient and comfortable form factor: The multipurpose earbuds also let the user listen to music and answer phone calls. The downside of earbuds is that they provide only two channels of brain data. When the company first considered this project, Mackellar says, his engineering team looked at the rich data set they’d collected from Emotiv’s other headsets over the past decade. The company boasts that academics have conducted more than 4,000 studies using Emotiv tech. From that trove of data—from headsets with 5, 14, or 32 channels—Emotiv isolated the data from the two channels the earbuds could pick up. “Obviously, there’s less information in the two sensors, but we were able to extract quite a lot of things that were very relevant,” Mackellar says.

Once the Emotiv engineers had a hardware prototype, they had volunteers wear the earbuds and a 14-channel headset at the same time. By recording data from the two systems in unison, the engineers trained a machine-learning algorithm to identify the signatures of attention and cognitive stress from the relatively sparse MN8 data. The brain signals associated with attention and stress have been well studied, Mackellar says, and are relatively easy to track. Although everyday activities such as talking and moving around also register on EEG, the Emotiv software filters out those artifacts.

The app that’s paired with the MN8 earbuds doesn’t display raw EEG data. Instead, it processes that data and shows workers two simple metrics relating to their individual performance. One squiggly line shows the rise and fall of workers’ attention to their tasks—the degree of focus and the dips that come when they switch tasks or get distracted—while another line represents their cognitive stress. Although short periods of stress can be motivating, too much for too long can erode productivity and well-being. The MN8 system will therefore sometimes suggest that the worker take a break. Workers can run their own experiments to see what kind of break activity best restores their mood and focus—maybe taking a walk, or getting a cup of coffee, or chatting with a colleague.

What neuroethicists think about neurotech in the workplace

While MN8 users can easily access data from their own brains, employers don’t see individual workers’ brain data. Instead, they receive aggregated data to get a sense of a team or department’s attention and stress levels. With that data, companies can see, for example, on which days and at which times of day their workers are most productive, or how a big announcement affects the overall level of worker stress.

Emotiv emphasizes the importance of anonymizing the data to protect individual privacy and prevent people from being promoted or fired based on their brain metrics. “The data belongs to you,” says Emotiv’s Le. “You have to explicitly allow a copy of it to be shared anonymously with your employer.” If a group is too small for real anonymity, Le says, the system will not share that data with employers. She also predicts that the device will be used only if workers opt in, perhaps as part of an employee wellness program that offers discounts on medical insurance in return for using the MN8 system regularly.

However, workers may still be worried that employers will somehow use the data against them. Karen Rommelfanger, founder of the Institute of Neuroethics, shares that concern. “I think there is significant interest from employers” in using such technologies, she says. “I don’t know if there’s significant interest from employees.”

Both she and Georgetown’s Giordano doubt that such tools will become commonplace anytime soon. “I think there will be pushback” from employees on issues such as privacy and worker rights, says Giordano. Even if the technology providers and the companies that deploy the technology take a responsible approach, he expects questions to be raised about who owns the brain data and how it’s used. “Perceived threats must be addressed early and explicitly,” he says.

Giordano says he expects workers in the United States and other western countries to object to routine brain scanning. In China, he says, workers have reportedly been more receptive to experiments with such technologies. He also believes that brain-monitoring devices will really take off first in industrial settings, where a momentary lack of attention can lead to accidents that injure workers and hurt a company’s bottom line. “It will probably work very well under some rubric of occupational safety,” Giordano says. It’s easy to imagine such devices being used by companies involved in trucking, construction, warehouse operations, and the like. Indeed, at least one such product, an EEG headband that measures fatigue, is already on the market for truck drivers and miners.

Giordano says that using brain-tracking devices for safety and wellness programs could be a slippery slope in any workplace setting. Even if a company focuses initially on workers’ well-being, it may soon find other uses for the metrics of productivity and performance that devices like the MN8 provide. “Metrics are meaningless unless those metrics are standardized, and then they very quickly become comparative,” he says.

Rommelfanger adds that no one can foresee how workplace neurotech will play out. “I think most companies creating neurotechnology aren’t prepared for the society that they’re creating,” she says. “They don’t know the possibilities yet.”

This article appears in the December 2022 print issue.


Match ID: 169 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

The Dangers of Democrats Boosting MAGA Republicans
Sat, 19 Nov 2022 12:00:35 +0000

The midterm strategy to fund Republican extremists in the primaries worked. Some fear it will strengthen the far right in the long term.

The post The Dangers of Democrats Boosting MAGA Republicans appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 170 Score: 3.57 source: theintercept.com age: 8 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Was the Killing of a Migrant by a Former ICE Warden a Hate Crime or a Terrible Accident?
Sat, 19 Nov 2022 11:00:49 +0000

At Fivemile Tank, a watering hole in the bleak desert of West Texas, two men pulled up in a truck. One aimed a gun into the brush.

The post Was the Killing of a Migrant by a Former ICE Warden a Hate Crime or a Terrible Accident? appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 171 Score: 3.57 source: theintercept.com age: 8 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Why Your Organization Should Join the IEEE Standards Association
Fri, 18 Nov 2022 19:00:01 +0000


The global business landscape is constantly evolving. Digital transformation— compounded by the challenges of globalization, supply-chain stability, demographic shifts, and climate change—is pressuring companies and government agencies to innovate and safely deploy sustainable technologies.

As digital transformation continues, the pervasive growth of technology increasingly intersects with industry, government, and societal interests. Companies and organizations need access to technologies that can enhance efficiencies, productivity, and competitive advantage.


Governments seek influence over emerging technologies to preserve economic interests, advance global trade, and protect their citizens. Consumers are demanding more transparency regarding organizational motives, practices, and processes.

For those and other reasons, new types of stakeholders are seeking a voice in the technology standardization process.

How organizations benefit from developing standards

The need is evidenced in the membership gains at the IEEE Standards Association. IEEE SA membership for organizations, also known as entity membership, has increased by more than 150 percent in the past six years. Academic institutions, government agencies, and other types of organizations now account for more than 30 percent of the member base.

Entity membership offers the ability to help shape technology development and ensure your organization’s interests are represented in the standards development process. Other benefits include balloting privileges, leadership eligibility, and networking opportunities.

IEEE SA welcomes different types of organizations because they bring varied perspectives and they voice concerns that need to be addressed during the standards development process. Engaging diverse viewpoints from companies of all sizes and types also helps to identify and address changing market needs.

From a geographic standpoint, IEEE SA welcomes participation from all regions of the world. Diverse perspectives and contributions to the development cycle enable innovation to be shared and realized by all stakeholders.

Programs on blockchain, IoT, and other emerging technology

IEEE SA has introduced new industry-engagement programs such as open-source and industry-alliance offerings designed to speed innovation and adoption. In addition, industry participants have access to the full IEEE SA ecosystem of programs and services including technology incubation, pre-standardization work, standards development, and conformity assessment activities. Training and marketing tools support working groups at every stage of the process.

An increasing number of new standards projects from emerging technology areas have created a more robust and diversified portfolio of work. The technologies include artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, quantum computing, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, smart cities, smart factories and online gaming. There is also more participation from the health care, automotive, and financial services sectors.

IEEE SA has grown and evolved its programs to address market needs, but its purpose has not changed. The organization is focused on empowering innovators to raise the world’s standards for the benefit of humanity.

Those innovators might be individuals or organizations looking to make a difference in the world, but it can be accomplished only when we all work together.

Learn more about IEEE SA membership for organizations and how your organization can play a key role in advancing future technologies.


Match ID: 172 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

New Records for the Biggest and Smallest AI Computers
Thu, 17 Nov 2022 16:28:08 +0000


The machine-learning consortium MLCommons released the latest set of benchmark results last week, offering a glimpse at the capabilities of new chips and old as they tackled executing lightweight AI on the tiniest systems and training neural networks at both server and supercomputer scales. The benchmark tests saw the debut of new chips from Intel and Nvidia as well as speed boosts from software improvements and predictions that new software will play a role in speeding the new chips in the years after their debut.


Training Servers

Training AI has been a problem that’s driven billions of dollars in investment, and it seems to be paying off. “A few years ago we were talking about training these networks in days or weeks, now we’re talking about minutes,” says Dave Salvator, director of product marketing at Nvidia.

There are eight benchmarks in the MLPerf training suite, but here I’m showing results from just two—image classification and natural-language processing—because although they don’t give a complete picture, they’re illustrative of what’s happening. Not every company puts up benchmark results every time; in the past, systems from Baidu, Google, Graphcore, and Qualcomm have made marks, but none of these were on the most recent list. And there are companies whose goal is to train the very biggest neural networks, such as Cerebras and SambaNova, that have never participated.

Another note about the results I’m showing—they are incomplete. To keep the eye glazing to a minimum, I’ve listed only the fastest system of each configuration. There were already four categories in the main “closed” contest: cloud (self-evident), on premises (systems you could buy and install in-house right now), preview (systems you can buy soon but not now), and R&D (interesting but odd, so I excluded them). I then listed the fastest training result for each category for each configuration—the number of accelerators in a computer. If you want to see the complete list, it’s at the MLCommons website.

A casual glance shows that machine-learning training is still very much Nvidia’s house. It can bring a supercomputer-scale number of GPUs to the party to smash through training problems in mere seconds. Its A100 GPUs have dominated the MLPerf list for several iterations now, and it powers Microsoft’s Azure cloud AI offerings as well as systems large and small from partners including Dell, HPE, and Fujitsu. But even among the A100 gang there’s real competition, particularly between Dell and HPE.

But perhaps more important was Azure’s standing. On image classification, the cloud systems were essentially a match for the best A100 on-premises computers. The results strengthen Microsoft’s case that renting resources in the cloud is as good as buying your own. And that case might might be even stronger soon. This week Nvidia and Microsoft announced a multiyear collaboration that would see the inclusion of Nvidia’s upcoming GPU, the H100, in the Azure cloud.

This was the first peek at training abilities for the H100. And Nivida’s Dave Salvator emphasized how much progress happens—largely due to software improvements—in the years after a new chip comes out. On a per-chip basis, the A100 delivers 2.5 times the average performance today versus its first run at the MLPerf benchmarks in 2020. Compared to A100’s debut scores, H100 delivered 6.7 times the speed. But compared to A100 with today’s software, the gain is only 2.6-fold.

In a way, H100 seems a bit overpowered for the MLPerf benchmarks, tearing through most of them in minutes using a fraction of the A100 hardware needed to match it. And in truth, it is meant for bigger things. “H100 is our solution for the most advanced models where we get into the millions, even billions of hyperparameters,” says Salvator.

Salvator says a lot of the gain is from the H100’s “transformer engine.” Essentially, it’s the intelligent use of low-precision—efficient but less accurate—computations whenever possible. The scheme is particularly designed for neural networks called transformers, of which the natural language processing benchmark BERT is an example. Transformers are in the works for many other machine learning tasks. “Transformer-based networks have been literally transformative to AI,” says Salvator. “It’s a horrible pun.“

Memory is a bottleneck for all sorts of AI, but it’s particularly limiting in BERT and other transformer models. Such neural networks rely on a quality called “attention.” You can think of it as how many words a language processor is aware of at once. It doesn’t scale up well, largely because it leads to a huge increase in writing to system memory. Earlier this year Hazy Research (the name for Chris Re’s lab at Stanford) deployed an algorithm to an Azure cloud system that shaved 10 percent of the training time off Microsoft’s best effort. For this round, Azure and Hazy Research worked together to demonstrate the algorithm—called Flash Attention.

Both the image-classification and natural-language-processing tables show Intel’s competitive position. The company showed results for the Habana Gaudi2, its second generation AI accelerator, and the Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU, which will be commercially available in the coming months. For the latter, the company was out to prove that you can do a lot of machine-learning training without a GPU.

A setup with 32 CPUs landed well behind a Microsoft Azure cloud-based system with only four GPUs on object recognition, but it still finished in less than an hour and a half, and for natural-language processing, it nearly matched that Azure system. In fact, none of the training took longer than 90 minutes, even on much more modest CPU-only computers.

“This is for customers for whom training is part of the workload, but it’s not the workload,” says Jordan Plawner, an Intel senior director and AI product manager. Intel is reasoning that if a customer is retraining only once a week, whether the work takes 30 minutes or 5 minutes is of too little importance for them to spend on a GPU accelerator they don’t need for the rest of the week.

Habana Gaudi2 is a different story. As the company’s dedicated machine-learning accelerator, the 7-nanometer chip goes up against Nvidia’s A100 (another 7-nm chip) and soon will face the 5-nm H100. In that light, it performed well on certain tests. On image classification, an eight-chip system landed only a couple of minutes behind an eight-chip H100. But the gap was much wider with the H100 at the natural-language-processing task, though it still narrowly bested an equal-size and Hazy-Research-enhanced A100 system.

“We’re not done with Gaudi 2,” says Habana’s Eitan Medina. Like others, Habana is hoping to speed learning by strategically using low-precision computations on certain layers of neural networks. The chip has 8-bit floating-point capabilities, but so far the smallest precision the company has engaged on the chip for MLPerf training purposes is bfloat 16.


Training Supercomputers

MLCommons released results for training high-performance computers—supercomputers and other big systems—at the same time as those for training servers. The HPC benchmarks are not as established and have fewer participants, but they still give a snapshot of how machine learning is done in the supercomputing space and what the goals are. There are three benchmarks: CosmoFlow estimates physical quantities from cosmological image data; DeepCAM spots hurricanes and atmospheric rivers in climate simulation data; and OpenCatalyst predicts the energy levels of molecular configurations.

There are two ways to measure systems on these benchmarks. One is to run a number of instances of the same neural network on the supercomputer, and the other is to just throw a bunch of resources at a single instance of the problem and see how long it takes. The table below is the latter and just for CosmoFlow, because it’s much simpler to read. (Again, feel free to view the whole schemozzle at MLCommons.)

The CosmoFlow results show four supercomputers powered by as many different types of CPU architectures and two types of GPU. Three of the four were accelerated by Nvidia GPUs, but Fugaku, the second most powerful computer in the world, used only its own custom-built processor, the Fujitsu A64FX.

The MLPerf HPC benchmarks came out only the week before Supercomputing 2022, in Dallas, one of the two conferences at which new Top500 rankings of supercomputers are announced.

A separate benchmark for supercomputing AI has also been developed. Instead of training particular neural networks, it solves “a system of linear equations using novel, mixed-precision algorithms that exploit modern hardware.” Although results from the two benchmarks don’t line up, there is overlap between the HPL-MxP list and the CosmoFlow results including: Nvidia’s Selene, Riken’s Fugaku, and Germany’s JUWELS.


Tiny ML systems

The latest addition to the MLPerf effort is a suite of benchmarks designed to test the speed and energy efficiency of microcontrollers and other small chips that execute neural networks that do things like spotting keywords and other low-power, always-on tasks. MLPerf Tiny, as it’s called, is too new for real trends to have emerged in the data. But the results released so far show a couple of standouts. The table here shows the fastest “visual wakewords” results for each type of processor, and shows that Syntiant and Greenwave Technologies have an edge over the competition.


Match ID: 173 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 10 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Failures in Twitter’s Two-Factor Authentication System
2022-11-17T10:53:50Z

Twitter is having intermittent problems with its two-factor authentication system:

Not all users are having problems receiving SMS authentication codes, and those who rely on an authenticator app or physical authentication token to secure their Twitter account may not have reason to test the mechanism. But users have been self-reporting issues on Twitter since the weekend, and WIRED confirmed that on at least some accounts, authentication texts are hours delayed or not coming at all. The meltdown comes less than two weeks after Twitter laid off about half of its workers...


Match ID: 174 Score: 3.57 source: www.schneier.com age: 10 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Another Event-Related Spyware App
2022-11-15T12:16:34Z

Last month, we were warned not to install Qatar’s World Cup app because it was spyware. This month, it’s Egypt’s COP27 Summit app:

The app is being promoted as a tool to help attendees navigate the event. But it risks giving the Egyptian government permission to read users’ emails and messages. Even messages shared via encrypted services like WhatsApp are vulnerable, according to POLITICO’s technical review of the application, and two of the outside experts.

The app also provides Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which created it, with other so-called backdoor privileges, or the ability to scan people’s devices...


Match ID: 175 Score: 3.57 source: www.schneier.com age: 12 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Top 10 AI Content Generator & Writer Tools in 2022
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 08:58:00 +0000


Are you looking for a way to create content that is both effective and efficient? If so, then you should consider using an AI content generator. AI content generators are a great way to create content that is both engaging and relevant to your audience. 

There are a number of different AI content generator tools available on the market, and it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. To help you make the best decision, we have compiled a list of the top 10 AI content generator tools that you should use in 2022.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!


1. Jasper Ai(Formerly known as Jarvis)

jasper content generator tool


Jasper is a content writing and content generation tool that uses artificial intelligence to identify the best words and sentences for your writing style and medium in the most efficient, quick, and accessible way.

Features

  •  It's trusted by 50,000+ marketers for creating engaging marketing campaigns, ad copy, blog posts, and articles within minutes which would traditionally take hours or days. Special Features:
  • Blog posts have been optimized for search engines and rank high on Google and other search engines. This is a huge plus for online businesses that want to generate traffic to their website through content marketing.
  • 99.9% Original Content and guarantees that all content it generates will be original, so businesses can focus on their online reputation rather than worrying about penalties from Google for duplicate content.
  • Long-Form Article Writing – Jasper.ai is also useful for long-form writing, allowing users to create articles of up to 10,000 words without any difficulty. This is ideal for businesses that want to produce in-depth content that will capture their audience’s attention.

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Generates a wide variety of content types
  • Guarantees 100% unique and free-plagiarism content
  • SEO friendly
  •  Create articles of up to 10k words

Cons

  • Not the cheapest AI writer on the market

Pricing

  • Jasper.ai offers a free trial
  • Starter Plan: $29/Month 

Features:

  • 50 AI copywriting skills 
  • Unlimited projects,  
  • Up to 5 user logins

  • The cheapest option covers up to 20,000 words generated each month.

Boss Mode:  $99/Month 

Features:

  • Up to 100k words are generated each month and can go up to over 300k.

Also Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deal is Running

Highlights of Jasper Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deal:

  • Free bonus 1: Get 300,000 extra words ($297 value)
  • gree bonus 2: Jasper Art for three teammates ($720 value)

  • Free bonus 3: Ticket to Jasper’s conference ($499 value)

  • Free bonus 4: The Jasper SEO Course ($499 value)
Grab The black Friday Deal

Note: Offer end in 1st December 2022 Mindight PST Time



2. Copy Ai

Copy ai, content generator


Copy.ai is a content writing tool that enables its users to create marketing copy, social media posts, Facebook Ads, and many more formats by using more than 90 templates such as Bullet Points to Blogs, General Ads, Hook Text, etc. 

The utility of this service can be used for short-term or format business purposes such as product descriptions, website copy, market copy, and sales reports.

Key Features:

  • Provides a large set of templates where you can input the data and the AI will generate Templates with around 10 or more options to make it easy for the user to choose.
  •  Smooth and efficient user experience with chrome extension where one can easily transfer information from Copy.ai to a content management forum, Google docs, etc without having to switch tabs.
  • Generates content  in 25 languages where your input and output language may differ if you are not a native English speaker.

Pros

  • The best option for short-length content generation such as market copy, sales reports, blogs, etc.
  • Facebook community and email support for users to understand the AI better and to interact with other users.
  • Beginner-friendly user experience with various templates to help the process of content generation.
  • Free plan and no credit card required.

Cons

  • The free plan from Copy AI is a welcome sight, however, it is just suitable for testing the software.

Pricing

Free Trial – 7 days with 24/7 email support and 100 runs per day.

Pro Plan:  $49 and yearly, it will cost you $420 i.e. $35 per month.

Wait! I've got a pretty sweet deal for you. Sign up through the link below, and you'll get (7,000 Free Words Plus 40% OFF) if you upgrade to the paid plan within four days.

Claim Your 7,000 Free Words With This Special Link - No Credit Card Required


3. Frase Ai

Frase, content generator


Just like Outranking, Frase is an AI that helps you research, create and optimize your content to make it high quality within seconds. Frase works on SEO optimization where the content is made to the liking of search engines by optimizing keywords and keywords.

Features:

  • Generate full-length, optimized content briefs in  seconds and review the main keywords, headers, and concepts in your SEO competitors’ content in one intuitive research panel.
  • Write high-converting, SEO-optimized copy and make writer’s block a thing of the past with automated outlines, blog introductions, product descriptions, FAQs, and more.
  • An intuitive text editor that uses a topic model to score your content Optimization against your competitors.
  • A dashboard that automatically identifies and categorizes your best content opportunities. Frase uses your Google Search Console data to serve up actionable insights about what you should work on next.

Pros

  • Unlike Outranking, the interface to Frase is very user-friendly and accessible.
  • Users who are content writers and have to research get a lot of time to write and ideate instead of juggling from one website to another as data can be easily accessed on Frase for research on a topic.
  • Optimizing content with keyword analysis and SEO optimization has been made easier with Frase's Content Optimization.
  • Reports on competitors' websites help in optimizing our own articles and websites.
  • Content briefs make research very easy and efficient.

Cons

  • The paid plans are a bit pricey because they include many tools for content optimization.

Pricing

Frase provides two plans for all users and a customizable plan for an enterprise or business.

Solo Plan: $14.99/Month and $12/Month if billed yearly with 4  Document Credits for 1 user seat.

Basic Plan: $44.99/month and $39.99/month if billed yearly with 30 Document Credits for 1 user seat.

Team Plan: $114.99/month and $99.99/month if billed yearly for unlimited document credits for 3 users.

*SEO Add-ons and other premium features for $35/month irrespective of the plan.


4. Article Forge — Popular Blog Writing Software for Efficiency and Affordability 

articleforge, content generator


Article Forge is another content generator that operates quite differently from the others on this list. Unlike Jasper.ai, which requires you to provide a brief and some information on what you want it to write this tool only asks for a keyword. From there, it’ll generate a complete article for you.

Features

  •  Article Forge integrates with several other software, including WordAi, RankerX, SEnuke TNG, and SEO Autopilot.
  • The software takes information from high-ranking websites and then creates more credible articles to rank well in search engines.
  •  If you want to generate content regularly, Article Forge can help. You can set it up to automatically generate articles based on your specific keyword or topic. Or, if you need a lot of content quickly, you can use the bulk content feature to get many articles in a short period.

Pros

  • Excellent for engaging with readers on multiple CMS platforms
  • No spinner content. Create multiple unique articles
  • Extremely quick and efficient
  • One of the cheapest options online

Cons

  • You need to pay attention to the content since it’s not always on point
  • Only ideal for decent-quality articles – if you’re lucky

Pricing

What’s excellent about Article Forge is they provide a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can choose between a monthly or yearly subscription. Unfortunately, they offer a free trial and no free plan:

Basic Plan:  $27/Month

Features:

 This plan allows users to produce up to 25k words each month. This is excellent for smaller blogs or those who are just starting.

Standard Plan: $57/month)

Features:

  •  This plan allows users to produce up to 250k words each month. This is excellent for smaller blogs or those who are just starting.

Unlimited Plan: $117/month

Features:

  • If you’re looking for an unlimited amount of content, this is the plan for you. You can create as many articles as you want, and there’s no word limit.

It’s important to note that Article Forge guarantees that all content generated through the platform passes Copyscape.


5. Rytr — Superb AI Content Writing Assistant

rytr.me, content generator


Rytr.me is a free AI content generator perfect for small businesses, bloggers, and students. The software is easy to use and can generate SEO-friendly blog posts, articles, and school papers in minutes.

Features

  • Rytr can be used for various purposes, from writing blog posts to creating school papers. You can also generate captions for social media, product descriptions, and meta descriptions.
  •  Rytr supports writing for over 30 languages, so you can easily create content in your native language.
  • The AI helps you write content in over 30 tones to find the perfect tone for your brand or project.
  • Rytr has a built-in plagiarism checker that ensures all your content is original and plagiarism free.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Creates unique content
  • It supports over 30 languages
  • Multi-tone writing capabilities

Cons

  • It can be slow at times
  • Grammar and flow could use improvement

Pricing

Rytr offers a free plan that comes with limited features. It covers up to 5,000 characters generated each month and has access to the built-in plagiarism checker. If you want to use all the features of the software, you can purchase one of the following plans:


Saver Plan: $9/month, $90/year 

Features:

  • Generate 100k  characters per month
  • Access 40+ use-cases
  • Write in 30+ languages
  • Access 20+ tones
  • Built-in plagiarism checker
  • Generate up to 20 images per month with AI
  • Access to premium community
  • Create your own custom use-case
  • Unlimited Plan: $29/month, $290/year

Features:

  • Generate UNLIMITED* characters per month
  • Access 40+ use-cases
  • Write in 30+ languages
  • Access 20+ tones

  • Built-in plagiarism checker
  • Generate up to 100 images per month with AI
  • Access to premium community
  • Create your own custom use-case
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Priority email & chat support


6. Writesonic — Best AI Article Writing Software with a Grammar and Plagiarism Checker

writessonic, content generator


Writesonic is a free, easy-to-use AI content generator. The software is designed to help you create copy for marketing content, websites, and blogs. It's also helpful for small businesses or solopreneurs who need to produce content on a budget.

Features

  • The tone checker, is a great feature that helps you ensure that your content is consistent with your brand’s voice. This is excellent for crafting cohesive and on-brand content.
  • The grammar checker is another valuable tool that helps you produce error-free content.
  • The plagiarism checker is a great way to ensure that your content is original.

Pricing

Writesonic is free with limited features. The free plan is more like a free trial, providing ten credits. After that, you’d need to upgrade to a paid plan. Here are your options:

Short-form: $15/month 

Features:

  • Access to all the short-form content templates like Facebook ads, product descriptions, paragraphs, and more.

Long-Form: $19/month

Features:

  • Awesome tools to help you write short and long-form content like blog posts, ebooks, and more.


7. CopySmith — Produces Quality Content in Seconds 

copysmith, content generator


CopySmith is an AI content generator that can be used to create personal and professional documents, blogs, and presentations. It offers a wide range of features including the ability to easily create documents and presentations.

 CopySmith also has several templates that you can use to get started quickly.

 Features

  • This software allows you to create product descriptions, landing pages, and more in minutes.
  •  Offers rewritten content that is both unique and plagiarism free.
  •  This feature helps you create product descriptions for your Shopify store that are SEO-friendly and attractive to customers.
  • This is an excellent tool for new content ideas.

Pros

  • Excellent for generating eCommerce-ready content
  • No credit card is required for the free trial
  • SEO-ready content

Cons

  • The blog content isn’t the best
  • Better suited for short copy

Pricing

CopySmith offers a free trial with no credit card required. After the free trial, the paid plans are as follows:

Starter Plan: $19/month

Features:

  • Get 50 credits monthly with up to 20 plagiarism checks.
  • Professional Plan: $59/month 

Features:

  • Upgrade to 400 credits per month with up to 100 plagiarism checks.  
Enterprise – Create a custom-tailored plan by contacting the sales team.


8. Hypotenuse.ai — Best AI Writing Software for E-Commerce and Product Descriptions

hypotenuseai, content generator


Hypotenuse.ai is a free online tool that can help you create AI content. It's great for beginners because it allows you to create videos, articles, and infographics with ease. The software has a simple and easy-to-use interface that makes it perfect for new people looking for AI content generation.

Special Features

  • You can create custom-tailored copy specific to your audience’s needs. This is impressive since most free AI content generators do not offer this feature.
  • Hypotenuse takes data from social media sites, websites, and more sources to provide accurate information for your content.
  • If you’re selling a product online, you can use Hypotenuse to create automated product descriptions that are of high quality and will help you sell more products.

Pros

  • Excellent research capabilities
  • Custom-tailored copy
  • Automated product descriptions

Cons

  • No free plan

Pricing

Hypotenuse doesn’t offer a free plan. Instead, it offers a free trial period where you can take the software for a run before deciding whether it’s the right choice for you or not. Other than that, here are its paid options:

Starter Plan: $29/month

Features:

  •  This plan comes with 100 credits/month with 25k Words with one user seat. It’s an excellent option for individuals or small businesses.

Growth Plan: $59/month

Features:

  •  This plan comes with 350 credits/month with 87.5k words and 1 user seat. It’s perfect for larger businesses or agencies.

Enterprise – pricing is custom, so don’t hesitate to contact the company for more information.


9. Kafkai — Leading AI Writing Tool for SEOs and Marketers

kafkai, content generator

Kafkai is an AI content generator and writing software that produces niche-specific content on a wide variety of topics. It offers a user-friendly interface, as well as a high degree of personalization.

 Features

  • Kafkai offers a host of features that make it SEO-ready, including the ability to add keywords and tags to your content.
  • Kafkai is designed explicitly for creating niche-specific content, which can be a significant advantage for businesses or bloggers looking to target a specific audience.
  •  Kafkai produces high-quality content, a significant advantage for businesses or bloggers looking to set themselves apart from the competition.
  • Kafkai offers a unique feature that allows you to seed content from other sources, which can be a significant time-saver when creating content.

Pros

  • Quick results with high efficiency
  • You can add seed content and phrases
  • It can be used to craft complete articles

Cons

  • Its long-form-content generator isn’t very high quality

Pricing

Kafkai comes with a free trial to help you understand whether it’s the right choice for you or not. Additionally, you can also take a look at its paid plans:

Writer Plan: $29/month Create 100 articles per month.  $0.29/article

Newsroom Plan $49/month – Generate 250 articles a month at $0.20 per article.

Printing Press Plan: $129 /month   Create up to 1000 articles a month at roughly $0.13/article.

Industrial Printer Plan: ($199 a month) – Generate 2500 articles each month for $0.08/article.


10. Peppertype.ai — Best AI Content Writing Software for Blogging

peppertypeai, content generator


Peppertype.ai is an online AI content generator that’s easy to use and best for small business owners looking for a powerful copy and content writing tool to help them craft and generate various content for many purposes.

Features

  • You can choose from various pre-trained templates to create your content. This can save you a lot of time since you don’t have to spend time designing your templates or starting entirely from scratch.
  • Peppertype offers various copywriting frameworks to help you write better content.
  • Peppertype is lightweight and easy to use. This makes it perfect for beginners who want to get started with AI content generation.
  • Peppertype’s autocorrect feature automatically corrects your grammar and spelling mistakes as you type. This ensures that your content is free of errors.
  • Peppertype tracks user engagement data to help you create content that resonates with your audience.

Pros

  • It doesn’t have a steep learning curve
  • It helps users to create entirely original content
  • The basic plan comes with access to all of their frameworks and templates
  • Built-in style editor

Cons

  • More hits than misses on content generated
  • Tons of typos and grammatical errors

Pricing

Unfortunately, Peppertype.ai isn’t free. However, it does have a free trial to try out the software before deciding whether it’s the right choice for you. Here are its paid plans:

personal Plan:$35/Month

Features:

  • 50,000 words included
  • 40+ content types
  • Notes and Text Editor
  • Access to templates
  • Unlimited projects
  • Active customer support

Team Plan: $199/month

Features:

  • Everything included in the Personal
  • Collaborate & share results
  • Access control
  • Export results
  • Request custom content types

Enterprise – pricing is custom, so please contact the company for more information.

Final thoughts:

It is no longer a secret that humans are getting overwhelmed with the daily task of creating content. Our lives are busy, and the process of writing blog posts, video scripts, or other types of content is not our day job. In comparison, AI writers are not only cheaper to hire, but also perform tasks at a high level of excellence. This article explores 10 writing tools that used AI to create better content choose the one which meets your requirements and budget but in my opinion Jasper ai is one of the best tools to use to make high-quality content. 

If you have any questions ask in the comments section

Note: Don't post links in your comments

Note: This article contains affiliate links which means we make a small commission if you buy any premium plan from our link.



Match ID: 176 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 12 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

COP27: Without Greta, activists make waves at climate summit
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 00:05:45 GMT
Young campaigners say they are calling out "greenwashing" at COP27 from the inside.
Match ID: 177 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 13 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

The EV Transition Explained
Sun, 13 Nov 2022 14:17:59 +0000


From the outside, there is little to tell a basic Ford XL ICE F-150 from the electric Ford PRO F-150 Lightning. Exterior changes could pass for a typical model-year refresh. While there are LED headlight and rear-light improvements along with a more streamlined profile, the Lightning’s cargo box is identical to that of an ICE F-150, complete with tailgate access steps and a jobsite ruler. The Lightning’s interior also has a familiar feel.

But when you pop the Lightning’s hood, you find that the internal combustion engine has gone missing. In its place is a front trunk (“frunk”), while concealed beneath is the new skateboard frame with its dual electric motors (one for each axle) and a big 98-kilowatt-hour standard (and 131-kWh extended-range) battery pack. The combination permits the Lightning to travel 230 miles (370 kilometers) without recharging and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, making it the fastest F-150 available despite its much heavier weight.

Invisible, too, are the Lightning’s sophisticated computing and software systems. The 2016 ICE F-150 reportedly had about 150 million lines of code. The Lightning’s software suite may even be larger than its ICE counterpart (Ford will not confirm this). The Lightning replaces the Ford F-150 ICE-related software in the electronic control units (ECUs) with new “intelligent” software and systems that control the main motors, manage the battery system, and provide charging information to the driver.

The EV Transition Explained


This is the first in a series of articles presenting just some of the technological and social challenges in moving from vehicles with internal-combustion engines to electric vehicles. These must be addressed at scale before EVs can happen. Each challenge entails a multitude of interacting systems, subsystems, sub-subsystems, and so on. In reviewing each article, readers should bear in mind Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman’s admonition: “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

Ford says the Lightning’s software will identify nearby public charging stations and tell drivers when to recharge. To increase the accuracy of the range calculation, the software will draw upon similar operational data communicated from other Lightning owners that Ford will dynamically capture, analyze, and feed back to the truck.

For executives, however, Lightning’s software is not only a big consumer draw but also among the biggest threats to its success. Ford CEO Jim Farley told the New York Times that software bugs worry him most. To mitigate the risk, Ford has incorporated an over-the-air (OTA) software-update capability for both bug fixes and feature upgrades. Yet with an incorrect setting in the Lightning’s tire pressure monitoring system requiring a software fix only a few weeks after its initial delivery, and with some new Ford Mustang Mach-Es recalled because of misconfigured software caused by a “service update or as an over-the-air update,” Farley’s worries probably won’t be soothed for some time.

Ford calls the Lightning a “Model T moment for the 21st century” and the company's US $50 billion investment in EVs is a bet-the-company proposition. Short-term success looks likely, as Ford closed Lightning preorders after reaching 200,000 and with sales expectations of 150,000 a year by 2024.

A construction crew working on a site with a Ford F-150's frunk open showing tools. The F-150 Lightning's front trunk (also known as a frunk) helps this light-duty electric pickup haul even more. Ford

However, long-term success is not guaranteed. “Ford is walking a tightrope, trying at the same time to convince everyone that EVs are the same as ICE vehicles yet different,” says University of Michigan professor emeritus John Leslie King, who has long studied the auto industry. Ford and other automakers will need to convince tens of millions of customers to switch to EVs to meet the Biden Administration’s decarbonization goals of 50 percent new auto sales being non-ICE vehicles by 2030.

King points out that neither Ford nor other automakers can forever act like EVs are merely interchangeable with—but more ecofriendly than—their ICE counterparts. As EVs proliferate at scale, they operate in a vastly different technological, political, and social ecosystem than ICE vehicles. The core technologies and requisite expertise, supply-chain dependencies, and political alliances are different. The expectations of and about EV owners, and their agreement to change their lifestyles, also differ significantly.

Indeed, the challenges posed by the transition from ICE vehicles to EVs at scale are significantly larger in scope and more complex than the policymakers setting the regulatory timeline appreciate. The systems-engineering task alone is enormous, with countless interdependencies that are outside policymakers' control, and resting on optimistic assumptions about promising technologies and wished-for changes in human behavior. The risk of getting it wrong, and the resulting negative environmental and economic consequences created, are high. In this series, we will break down the myriad infrastructure, policy, and social challenges involved learned from discussions with numerous industry insiders and industry watchers. Let's take a look at some of the elemental challenges blocking the road ahead for EVs.

The soft car

For Ford and the other automakers that have shaped the ICE vehicle ecosystem for more than a century, ultimate success is beyond the reach of the traditional political, financial, and technological levers they once controlled. Renault chief executive Luca de Meo, for example, is quoted in the Financial Times as saying that automakers must recognize that “the game has changed,” and they will “have to play by new rules” dictated by the likes of mining and energy companies.

One reason for the new rules, observes professor Deepak Divan, the director of the Center for Distributed Energy at Georgia Tech, is that the EV transition is “a subset of the energy transition” away from fossil fuels. On the other hand, futurist Peter Schwartz contends that the entire electric system is part of the EV supply chain. These alternative framings highlight the strong codependencies involved. Consequently, automakers will be competing against not only other EV manufacturers but also numerous players involved in the energy transition aiming to grab the same scarce resources and talent.

“Ford is walking a tightrope, trying at the same time to convince everyone that EVs are the same as ICE vehicles yet different.” —John Leslie King

EVs represent a new class of cyberphysical systems that unify the physical with information technology, allowing them to sense, process, act, and communicate in real time within a large transportation ecosystem, as I have noted in detail elsewhere. While computing in ICE vehicles typically optimizes a car’s performance at the time of sale, EV-based cyberphysical systems are designed to evolve as they are updated and upgraded, postponing their obsolescence.

“As an automotive company, we’ve been trained to put vehicles out when they’re perfect,” Ford’s Farley told the New York Times. “But with software, you can change it with over-the-air updates.” This allows new features to be introduced in existing models instead of waiting for next year’s model to appear. Farley sees Ford spending much less effort on changing vehicles’ physical properties and devoting more to upgrading their software capabilities in the future.

Systems engineering for holistic solutions

EV success at scale depends on as much, if not more, on political decisions as technical ones. Government decision-makers in the United States at both the state and federal level, for instance, have created EV market incentives and set increasingly aggressive dates to sunset ICE vehicle sales, regardless of whether the technological infrastructure needed to support EVs at scale actually exists. While passing public policy can set a direction, it does not guarantee that engineering results will be available when needed.

“A systems-engineering approach towards managing the varied and often conflicting interests of the many stakeholders involved will be necessary to find a workable solution.” —Chris Paredis

Having committed $1.2 trillion through 2030 so far toward decarbonizing the planet, automakers are understandably wary not only of the fast reconfiguration of the auto industry but of the concurrent changes required in the energy, telecom, mining, recycling, and transportation industries that must succeed for their investments to pay off.

The EV transition is part of an unprecedented, planetary-wide, cyberphysical systems-engineering project with massive potential benefits as well as costs. Considering the sheer magnitude, interconnectedness, and uncertainties presented by the concurrent technological, political, and social changes necessary, the EV transition will undoubtedly be messy.

This chart from the Global EV Outlook 2021, IEA, Paris shows 2020 EV sales in the first column; in the second column, projected sales under current climate-mitigation policies; in the third column, projected sales under accelerated climate-mitigation policies.

“There is a lot that has to go right. And it won’t all go right,” observes Kristin Dziczek, former vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research and now a policy analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “We will likely stumble forward in some fashion,” but, she stresses, “it’s not a reason not to move forward.”

How many stumbles and how long the transition will take depend on whether the multitude of challenges involved are fully recognized and realistically addressed.

“Everyone needs to stop thinking in silos. It is the adjacency interactions that are going to kill you.” —Deepak Divan

“A systems-engineering approach towards managing the varied and often conflicting interests of the many stakeholders involved will be necessary to find a workable solution,” says Chris Paredis, the BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration at Clemson University. The range of engineering-infrastructure improvements needed to support EVs, for instance, “will need to be coordinated at a national/international level beyond what can be achieved by individual companies,” he states.

If the nitty gritty but hard-to-solve issues are glossed over or ignored, or if EV expectations are hyped beyond the market’s capability to deliver, no one should be surprised by a backlash against EVs, making the transition more difficult.

Until Tesla proved otherwise, EVs—especially battery EVs (BEVs)—were not believed by legacy automakers to be a viable, scalable approach to transport decarbonization even a decade ago. Tesla’s success at producing more than 3 million vehicles to date has shown that EVs are both technologically and economically feasible, at least for the luxury EV niche.

What has not yet been proven, but is widely assumed, is that BEVs can rapidly replace the majority of the current 1.3 billion-plus light-duty ICE vehicles. The interrelated challenges involving EV engineering infrastructure, policy, and societal acceptance, however, will test how well this assumption holds true.

Therefore, the successful transition to EVs at scale demands a “holistic approach,” emphasizes Georgia Tech’s Deepak Divan. “Everyone needs to stop thinking in silos. It is the adjacency interactions that are going to kill you.”

These adjacency issues involve numerous social-infrastructure obstacles that need to be addressed comprehensively along with the engineering issues, including the interactions and contradictions among them. These issues include the value and impacts of government EV incentives, the EV transition impacts on employment, and the public’s willingness to change its lifestyle behavior when it realizes converting to EVs will not be enough to reach future decarbonization goals.

“We cannot foresee all the details needed to make the EV transition successful,” John Leslie King says. “While there’s a reason to believe we will get there, there’s less reason to believe we know the way. It is going to be hard.”

In the next article in the series, we will look at the complexities introduced by trading our dependence on oil for our dependence on batteries.


Match ID: 178 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 14 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

AMA:: We’re a group of researchers and library developers of homomorphic encryption, here to answer questions about homomorphic encryption and why it’s important for the future of data privacy!
2022-11-08T00:15:26+00:00
submitted by /u/lugh
[link] [comments]
Match ID: 179 Score: 3.57 source: www.reddit.com age: 20 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

How Centuries of Restrictions on Women Shed Light on Today's Abortion Debate
2022-11-08T00:00:00Z
Going back to pre-industrial times, efforts to limit women's sexuality have had a simple motive: to keep them faithful to their spouses. Research by Anke Becker looks at the deep roots of these restrictions and their economic implications.
Match ID: 180 Score: 3.57 source: hbswk.hbs.edu age: 20 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

What is COP27 and why is it important?
Mon, 07 Nov 2022 13:25:26 GMT
This year's climate summit comes amid spiralling energy costs and diplomatic tensions.
Match ID: 181 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 20 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Robotic Falcon Keeps Birds Away From Airports
Sun, 06 Nov 2022 14:00:00 +0000


Collisions with birds are a serious problem for commercial aircraft, costing the industry billions of dollars and killing thousands of animals every year. New research shows that a robotic imitation of a peregrine falcon could be an effective way to keep them out of flight paths.

Worldwide, so-called birdstrikes are estimated to cost the civil aviation industry almost US $1.4 billion annually. Nearby habitats are often deliberately made unattractive to birds, but airports also rely on a variety of deterrents designed to scare them away, such as loud pyrotechnics or speakers that play distress calls from common species.

However, the effectiveness of these approaches tends to decrease over time, as the birds get desensitized by repeated exposure, says Charlotte Hemelrijk, a professor on the faculty of science and engineering at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. Live hawks or blinding lasers are also sometimes used to disperse flocks, she says, but this is controversial as it can harm the animals, and keeping and training falcons is not cheap.

“The birds don’t distinguish [RobotFalcon] from a real falcon, it seems.”
—Charlotte Hemelrijk, University of Groningen

In an effort to find a more practical and lasting solution, Hemelrijk and colleagues designed a robotic peregrine falcon that can be used to chase flocks away from airports. The device is the same size and shape as a real hawk, and its fiberglass and carbon-fiber body has been painted to mimic the markings of its real-life counterpart.

Rather than flapping like a bird, the RobotFalcon relies on two small battery-powered propellers on its wings, which allows it to travel at around 30 miles per hour for up to 15 minutes at a time. A human operator controls the machine remotely from a hawk’s-eye perspective via a camera perched above the robot’s head.

To see how effective the RobotFalcon was at scaring away birds, the researchers tested it against a conventional quadcopter drone over three months of field testing, near the Dutch city of Workum. They also compared their results to 15 years of data collected by the Royal Netherlands Air Force that assessed the effectiveness of conventional deterrence methods such as pyrotechnics and distress calls.

Flock-herding Falcon Drone Patrols Airport Flight Paths youtu.be

In a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the team showed that the RobotFalcon cleared fields of birds faster and more effectively than the drone. It also kept birds away from fields longer than distress calls, the most effective of the conventional approaches.

There was no evidence of birds getting habituated to the RobotFalcon over three months of testing, says Hemelrijk, and the researchers also found that the birds exhibited behavior patterns associated with escaping from predators much more frequently with the robot than with the drone. “The way of reacting to the RobotFalcon is very similar to the real falcon,” says Hemelrijk. “The birds don’t distinguish it from a real falcon, it seems.”

Other attempts to use hawk-imitating robots to disperse birds have had less promising results, though. Morgan Drabik-Hamshare, a research wildlife biologist at the DoA, and her colleagues published a paper in Scientific Reports last year that described how they pitted a robotic peregrine falcon with flapping wings against a quadcopter and a fixed-wing remote-controlled aircraft.

They found the robotic falcon was the least effective of the three at scaring away turkey vultures, with the quadcopter scaring the most birds off and the remote-controlled plane eliciting the quickest response. “Despite the predator silhouette, the vultures did not perceive the predator UAS [unmanned aircraft system] as a threat,” Drabik-Hamshare wrote in an email.

Zihao Wang, an associate lecturer at the University of Sydney, in Australia, who develops UAS for bird deterrence, says the RobotFalcon does seem to be effective at dispersing flocks. But he points out that its wingspan is nearly twice the diagonal length of the quadcopter it was compared with, which means it creates a much larger silhouette when viewed from the birds’ perspective. This means the birds could be reacting more to its size than its shape, and he would like to see the RobotFalcon compared with a similar size drone in the future.

The unique design also means the robot requires an experienced and specially trained operator, Wang adds, which could make it difficult to roll out widely. A potential solution could be to make the system autonomous, he says, but it’s unclear how easy this would be.

Hemelrijk says automating the RobotFalcon is probably not feasible, both due to strict regulations around the use of autonomous drones near airports as well as the sheer technical complexity. Their current operator is a falconer with significant experience in how hawks target their prey, she says, and creating an autonomous system that could recognize and target bird flocks in a similar way would be highly challenging.

But while the need for skilled operators is a limitation, Hemelrijk points out that most airports already have full-time staff dedicated to bird deterrence, who could be trained. And given the apparent lack of habituation and the ability to chase birds in a specific direction—so that they head away from runways—she thinks the robotic falcon could be a useful addition to their arsenal.


Match ID: 182 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 21 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Cop27: the climate carnage we've faced this year – video
Thu, 03 Nov 2022 11:07:52 GMT

One by one, the grim scenarios climate scientists had outlined for the near future have been overtaken by events: extreme storms, droughts, floods and ice-sheet collapses whose sudden appearances have outstripped researchers’ worst predictions. Catastrophic climate change is happening more rapidly and with greater intensity than their grimmest warnings, it transpires.

With the 2022 global climate summit Cop 27 upon us, the Guardian looks back at how the climate crisis has affected communities around the world since the last meeting in Glasgow in 2021

Continue reading...
Match ID: 183 Score: 3.57 source: www.theguardian.com age: 24 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Apple Kicks Off the Cell-Calls-From-Space Race
Thu, 08 Sep 2022 14:18:38 +0000


The race to deliver cellular calls from space passes two milestones this month and saw one major announcement last month. First, Apple will offer emergency satellite messaging on two of its latest iPhone models, the company announced on Wednesday. Second, AST SpaceMobile plans a launch on Saturday, 10 September, of an experimental satellite to test full-fledged satellite 5G service. In addition, T-Mobile USA and SpaceX intend to offer their own messaging and limited data service via the second generation of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, as the two companies announced on 25 August.

Each contender is taking a different approach to space-based cellular service. The Apple offering uses the existing satellite bandwidth Globalstar once used for messaging offerings, but without the need for a satellite-specific handset. The AST project and another company, Lynk Global, would use a dedicated network of satellites with larger-than-normal antennas to produce a 4G, 5G, and someday 6G cellular signal compatible with any existing 4G-compatible phone (as detailed in other recent IEEE Spectrum coverage of space-based 5G offerings). Assuming regulatory approval is forthcoming, the technology would work first in equatorial regions and then across more of the planet as these providers expand their satellite constellations. T-Mobile and Starlink’s offering would work in the former PCS band in the United States. SpaceX, like AST and Lynk, would need to negotiate access to spectrum on a country-by-country basis.

Apple’s competitors are unlikely to see commercial operations before 2024.

“Regulators have not decided on the power limits from space, what concerns there are about interference, especially across national borders. There’s a whole bunch of regulatory issues that simply haven’t been thought about to date.”
—Tim Farrar, telecommunications consultant

The T-Mobile–Starlink announcement is “in some ways an endorsement” of AST and Lynk’s proposition, and “in other ways a great threat,” says telecommunications consultant Tim Farrar of Tim Farrar Associates in Menlo Park, Calif. AST and Lynk have so far told investors they expect their national mobile network operator partners to charge per use or per day, but T-Mobile announced that they plan to include satellite messaging in the 1,900-megahertz range in their existing services. Apple said their Emergency SOS via Satellite service would be free the first two years for U.S. and Canadian iPhone 14 buyers, but did not say what it would cost after that. For now, the Globalstar satellites it is using cannot offer the kind of broadband bandwidth AST has promised, but Globalstar has reported to investors orders for new satellites that might offer new capabilities, including new gateways.

Even under the best conditions—a clear view of the sky—users will need 15 seconds to send a message via Apple’s service. They will also have to follow onscreen guidance to keep the device pointed at the satellites they are using. Light foliage can cause the same message to take more than a minute to send. Ashley Williams, a satellite engineer at Apple who recorded the service’s announcement, also mentioned a data-compression algorithm and a series of rescue-related suggested auto-replies intended to minimize the amount of data that users would need to send during a rescue.

Meanwhile, AST SpaceMobile says it aims to launch an experimental satellite Saturday, 10 September, to test its cellular broadband offering.

Last month’s T-Mobile-SpaceX announcement “helped the world focus attention on the huge market opportunity for SpaceMobile, the only planned space-based cellular broadband network. BlueWalker 3, which has a 693 sq ft array, is scheduled for launch within weeks!” tweeted AST SpaceMobile CEO Abel Avellan on 25 August. The size of the array matters because AST SpaceMobile has so far indicated in its applications for experimental satellite licenses that it intends to use lower radio frequencies (700–900 MHz) with less propagation loss but that require antennas much larger than conventional satellites carry.

The size of the array will also make it more reflective, which has raised concerns among astronomers. The size of Starlink’s planned constellation has already provoked complaints among astronomers because it will interfere with their ability to observe space. Sky & Telescope magazine published on 1 September a call for both professional and amateur astronomers to observe the growing constellations of satellites to document the interference. Professional astronomy societies have lobbied U.S. government agencies and Congress on the issue and met with SpaceX officials in May to discuss a recent change that brightened satellites by 0.5 visual magnitudes.

So far government agencies have issued licenses for thousands of low-Earth-orbiting satellites, which have the biggest impact on astronomers. Even with the constellations starting to form, satellite-cellular telecommunications companies are still open to big regulatory risks. “Regulators have not decided on the power limits from space, what concerns there are about interference, especially across national borders. There’s a whole bunch of regulatory issues that simply haven’t been thought about to date,” Farrar says.

For a hiker with a twisted ankle, a messaging service that takes a while to connect and twinkles in and out of service as satellites fly by may be better than nothing, but early space-based cellular will not be a seamless way to connect to video calls from out at sea.

“User cooperation is in my view the single most critical aspect of whether this service will attract mass-market usage or people willing to pay a significant amount for this service,” Farrar says.


Match ID: 184 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 80 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

As China’s Quantum-Encrypting Satellites Shrink, Their Networking Abilities Grow
Thu, 25 Aug 2022 18:37:07 +0000


The orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab has transmitted quantum-encryption keys to four ground stations, researchers reported on 18 August. The same network of ground stations is also able to receive quantum keys from the orbiting Micius satellite, which is in a much higher orbit, using the space station as a repeater. It comes just after the late July launch of Jinan 1, China’s second quantum-encrypting satellite, by the University of Science and Technology of China. USTC told the Xinhua News Agency that the new satellite is one-sixth the mass of its 2016 predecessor.

“The launch is significant,” says physicist Paul Kwiat of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, because it means the team are starting to build, not just plan, a quantum network. USTC researchers did not reply to IEEE Spectrum’s request for comments.

In quantum-key distribution (QKD), the quantum states of a single photon, such as polarization, encode and distribute random information that can be used to encrypt a classical message. Because it is impossible to copy the quantum state without changing it, senders and recipients can verify that their transmission got through without tampering or reading by third parties. In some scenarios it involves sending just one well-described photon at a time, but single photons are difficult to produce, and in this case, researchers used an attenuated laser to send small pulses that might also come out a couple of photons at a time, or not at all.

The USTC research team, led by Jian-Wei Pan, had already established quantum-key distribution from Micius to a single ground station in 2017, not long after the 2016 launch of the satellite. The work that Pan and colleagues reported this month, but which took place in 2018 and 2019, is a necessary step for building a constellation of quantum-encryption-compatible satellites across a range of orbits, to ensure more secure long-distance communications.

Several other research groups have transmitted quantum keys, and others are now building microsatellites for the same purpose. However, the U.S. National Security Agency’s site about QKD lists several technical limitations, such as requiring an initial verification of the counterparty’s identity, the need for special equipment, the cost, and the risk of hardware-based security vulnerabilities. In the absence of fixes, the NSA does not anticipate approving QKD for national security communications.

However, attenuated laser pulses are just one way of implementing QKD. Another is to use quantum entanglement, by which a pair of photons will behave the same way, even at a distance, when someone measures one of their quantum properties. In earlier experiments, Pan and colleagues also reported using quantum entanglement for QKD and mixing satellite and fiber-optic links to establish a mixed-modality QKD network spanning almost 5,000 kilometers.

“A quantum network with entangled nodes is the thing that would be really interesting, enabling distributed quantum computing and sensing, but that’s a hard thing to make. Being able to do QKD is a necessary but not sufficient first step,” Kwiat says. The USTC experiments are a chance to establish many technical abilities, such as the precise control of the pulse duration and direction of the lasers involved, or the ability to accurately transfer and measure the quantum signals to the standard necessary for a more complex quantum network.

That is a step ahead of the many other QKD efforts made so far on laboratory benchtops, over ground-to-ground cables, or aboard balloons or aircraft. “You have to do things very differently if you’re not allowed to fiddle with something once it’s launched into space,” Kwiat says.

The U.S. CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, signed on 9 August, allocated more than US $153 million a year for quantum computing and networks. While that’s unlikely to drive more American work toward an end goal of QKD, Kwiat says, “maybe we do it on the way to these more interesting applications.”


Match ID: 185 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 94 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

TOP 11 AI MARKETING TOOLS YOU SHOULD USE (Updated 2022)
Wed, 13 Jul 2022 15:25:00 +0000

  

Top 10 AI marketing tools

 The marketing industry is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as a way to save time and execute smarter, more personalized campaigns. 61% of marketers say AI software is the most important aspect of their data strategy.

  If you’re late to the AI party, don’t worry. It’s easier than you think to start leveraging artificial intelligence tools in your marketing strategy. Here are 11 AI marketing tools every marketer should start using today.

1. Jasper Ai(Formerly known as Jarvis)


Jasper is a content writing and content generation tool that uses artificial intelligence to identify the best words and sentences for your writing style and medium in the most efficient, quick, and accessible way.

Key Features

  •  It's trusted by 50,000+ marketers for creating engaging marketing campaigns, ad copy, blog posts, and articles within minutes which would traditionally take hours or days. Special Features:
  • Blog posts have been optimized for search engines and rank high on Google and other search engines. This is a huge plus for online businesses that want to generate traffic to their website through content marketing.
  • 99.9% Original Content and guarantees that all content it generates will be original, so businesses can focus on their online reputation rather than worrying about penalties from Google for duplicate content.
  • Long-Form Article Writing – Jasper.ai is also useful for long-form writing, allowing users to create articles of up to 10,000 words without any difficulty. This is ideal for businesses that want to produce in-depth content that will capture their audience’s attention.
Wait! I've got a pretty sweet deal for you. Sign up through the link below, and you'll get (10k Free Credits)

Also Read: Top 10 AI Content Generator & Writer Tools in 2022

2. Personalize

 Personalize is an AI-powered technology that helps you identify and produce highly targeted sales and marketing campaigns by tracking the products and services your contacts are most interested in at any given time. The platform uses an algorithm to identify each contact’s top three interests, which are updated in real-time based on recent site activity.

Key Features

  • Identifies  top three interests based on metrics like time on page, recency, and frequency of each contact
  • Works with every ESP and CRM
  • Easy to get up and running in days
  • Enterprise-grade technology at a low cost for SMBs

3. Seventh Sense

  Seventh Sense provides behavioral analytics that helps you win attention in your customers’ overcrowded email inboxes. Choosing the best day and time to send an email is always a gamble. And while some days of the week generally get higher open rates than others, you’ll never be able to nail down a time that’s best for every customer. Seventh Sense eases your stress of having to figure out the perfect send-time and day for your email campaigns. The AI-based platform figures out the best timing and email frequency for each contact based on when they’re opening emails. The tool is primarily geared toward HubSpot and Marketo customers 

Key Features 

  • AI determines the best send-time and email frequency for each contact
  • Connects with HubSpot and Marketo

4. Phrasee

  Phrasee uses artificial intelligence to help you write more effective subject lines. With its AI-based Natural Language Generation system, Phrasee uses data-driven insights to generate millions of natural-sounding copy variants that match your brand voice. The model is end-to-end, meaning when you feed the results back to Phrasee, the prediction model rebuilds so it can continuously learn from your audience.

Key Features 

  • Instantly generates millions of human-sounding, brand-compliant copy variants
  • Creates tailored language models for every customer
  • Learns what your audience responds to and rebuilds the prediction model every time

5. Hubspot Seo

  HubSpot Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral tool for the Human Content team. It uses machine learning to determine how search engines understand and categorize your content. HubSpot SEO helps you improve your search engine rankings and outrank your competitors. Search engines reward websites that organize their content around core subjects, or topic clusters. HubSpot SEO helps you discover and rank for the topics that matter to your business and customers.

Key Features 

  • Helps you discover and rank topics that people are searching for
  • Provides suggestions for your topic clusters and related subjects
  • Integrates with all other HubSpot content tools to help you create a well-rounded content strategy
Also Read: Top 10 AI Content Generator & Writer Tools in 2022

 6. Evolve AI

  When you’re limited to testing two variables against each other at a time, it can take months to get the results you’re looking for. Evolv AI lets you test all your ideas at once. It uses advanced algorithms to identify the top-performing concepts, combine them with each other, and repeat the process to achieve the best site experience.

Key Features 

  • Figures out which content provides the best performance
  • Lets you test multiple ideas in a single experiment instead of having to perform many individual tests over a long period
  • Lets you try all your ideas across multiple pages for full-funnel optimization
  • Offers visual and code editors

7. Acrolinx

  Acrolinx is a content alignment platform that helps brands scale and improves the quality of their content. It’s geared toward enterprises – its major customers include big brands like Google, Adobe, and Amazon - to help them scale their writing efforts. Instead of spending time chasing down and fixing typos in multiple places throughout an article or blog post, you can use Acrolinx to do it all right there in one place. You start by setting your preferences for style, grammar, tone of voice, and company-specific word usage. Then, Acrolinx checks and scores your existing content to find what’s working and suggest areas for improvement. The platform provides real-time guidance and suggestions to make writing better and strengthen weak pages.

Key features

  • Reviews and scores existing content to ensure it meets your brand guidelines
  • Finds opportunities to improve your content and use automation to shorten your editorial process.
  • Integrates with more than 50 tools and platforms, including Google Docs, Microsoft Word, WordPress, and most web browsers.

8. MarketMuse 

MarketMuse uses an algorithm to help marketers build content strategies. The tool shows you where to target keywords to rank in specific topic categories, and recommends keywords you should go after if you want to own particular topics. It also identifies gaps and opportunities for new content and prioritizes them by their probable impact on your rankings. The algorithm compares your content with thousands of articles related to the same topic to uncover what’s missing from your site.

Key features:

  • The built-in editor shows how in-depth your topic is covered and what needs improvement
  • Finds gaps and opportunities for new content creation, prioritized by their probable impact and your chance of ranking

9. Copilot

Copilot is a suite of tools that help eCommerce businesses maintain real-time communication with customers around the clock at every stage of the funnel. Promote products, recover shopping carts and send updates or reminders directly through Messenger.

Key features: 

  • Integrate Facebook Messenger directly with your website, including chat history and recent interactions for a fluid customer service experience 
  • Run drip messenger campaigns to keep customers engaged with your brand
  • Send abandoned carts, out-of-stock, restock, preorder, order status, and shipment notifications to contacts 
  • Send branded images, promotional content, or coupon codes to those who opt in
  • Collect post-purchase feedback, reviews, and customer insight
  • Demonstrate social proof on your website with a widget, or push automatic Facebook posts sharing recent purchases
  • Display a promotional banner on your website to capture contacts instantly
Also Read: Top 10 AI Content Generator & Writer Tools in 2022

10. Yotpo

Yotpo’s deep learning technology evaluates your customers’ product reviews to help you make better business decisions. It identifies key topics that customers mention related to your products—and their feelings toward them. The AI engine extracts relevant reviews from past buyers and presents them in smart displays to convert new shoppers. Yotpo also saves you time moderating reviews. The AI-powered moderation tool automatically assigns a score to each review and flags reviews with negative sentiment so you can focus on quality control instead of manually reviewing every post.

Key features:

  • Makes it easy for shoppers to filter reviews and find the exact information they’re looking for
  • Analyzes customer feedback and sentiments to help you improve your products
  • Integrates with most leading eCommerce platforms, including BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify.

11. Albert AI

  Albert is a self-learning software that automates the creation of marketing campaigns for your brand. It analyzes vast amounts of data to run optimized campaigns autonomously, allowing you to feed in your own creative content and target markets, and then use data from its database to determine key characteristics of a serious buyer. Albert identifies potential customers that match those traits, and runs trial campaigns on a small group of customers—with results refined by Albert himself—before launching it on a larger scale.

  Albert plugs into your existing marketing technology stack, so you still have access to your accounts, ads, search, social media, and more. Albert maps tracking and attribution to your source of truth so you can determine which channels are driving your business.

Key features:

  • Breaks down large amounts of data to help you customize campaigns
  • Plugs into your marketing technology stack and can be used across diverse media outlets, including email, content, paid media, and mobile

Final Saying

There are many tools and companies out there that offer AI tools, but this is a small list of resources that we have found to be helpful. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below this article. As marketing evolves at such a rapid pace, new marketing strategies will be invented that we haven't even dreamed of yet. But for now, this list should give you a good starting point on your way to implementing AI into your marketing mix.

Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning we make a small commission if you buy any premium plan from our link.



Match ID: 186 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 137 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

DARPA Wants a Better, Badder Caspian Sea Monster
Thu, 19 May 2022 19:31:02 +0000


Arguably, the primary job of any military organization is moving enormous amounts of stuff from one place to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. Some of that stuff is weaponry, but the vast majority are things that support that weaponry—fuel, spare parts, personnel, and so on. At the moment, the U.S. military has two options when it comes to transporting large amounts of payload. Option one is boats (a sealift), which are efficient, but also slow and require ports. Option two is planes (an airlift), which are faster by a couple of orders of magnitude, but also expensive and require runways.

To solve this, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to combine traditional sealift and airlift with the Liberty Lifter program, which aims to “design, build, and flight test an affordable, innovative, and disruptive seaplane” that “enables efficient theater-range transport of large payloads at speeds far exceeding existing sea lift platforms.”

DARPA

DARPA is asking for a design like this to take advantage of ground effect, which occurs when an aircraft’s wing deflects air downward and proximity to the ground generates a cushioning effect due to the compression of air between the bottom of the wing and the ground. This boosts lift and lowers drag to yield a substantial overall improvement in efficiency. Ground effect works on both water and land, but you can take advantage of it for only so long on land before your aircraft runs into something. Which is why oceans are the ideal place for these aircraft—or ships, depending on your perspective.

During the late 1980s, the Soviets (and later the Russians) leveraged ground effect in the design of a handful of awesomely bizarre ships and aircraft. There’s the VVA-14, which was also an airplane, along with the vehicle shown in DARPA’s video above, the Lun-class ekranoplan, which operated until the late 1990s. The video clip really does not do this thing justice, so here’s a better picture, taken a couple of years ago:

Oblique overhead view of a huge grey seaplane on the water Instagram

The Lun (only one was ever made) had a wingspan of 44 meters and was powered by eight turbojet engines. It flew about 4 meters above the water at speeds of up to 550 kilometers per hour, and could transport almost 100,000 kilograms of cargo for 2,000 km. It was based on an earlier, even larger prototype (the largest aircraft in the world at the time) that the CIA spotted in satellite images in 1967 and which seems to have seriously freaked them out. It was nicknamed the Caspian Sea Monster, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the West understood what it was and how it worked.

In the mid 1990s, DARPA itself took a serious look at a stupendously large ground-effect vehicle of its own, the Aerocon Dash 1.6 wingship. The concept image below is of a 4.5-million-kg vehicle, 175 meters long with a 100-meter wingspan, powered by 20 (!) jet engines:

A black and white wireframe drawing of a huge streamlined aircraft Wikipedia

With a range of almost 20,000 km at over 700 km/h, the wingship could have carried 3,000 passengers or 1.4 million kg of cargo. By 1994, though, DARPA had decided that the potential billion-dollar project to build a wingship like this was too risky, and canceled the whole thing.

A concept image of a massive grey seaplane skimming over the ocean

Less than 10 years later, Boeing’s Phantom Works started exploring an enormous ground-effect aircraft, the Pelican Ultra Large Transport Aircraft. The Pelican would have been even larger than the Aerocon wingship, with a wingspan of 152 meters and a payload of 1.2 million kg—that’s about 178 shipping containers’ worth. Unlike the wingship, the Pelican would take advantage of ground effect to boost efficiency only in transit above water, but would otherwise use runways like a normal aircraft and be able to reach flight altitudes of 7,500 meters. Operating as a traditional aircraft and with an optimal payload, the Pelican would have a range of about 12,000 km. In ground effect, however, the range would have increased to 18,500 km, illustrating the appeal of designs like these. But Boeing dropped the project in 2005 to focus on lower cost, less risky options.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t at least briefly mention two other massive aircraft: the H-4 Hercules, the cargo seaplane built by Hughes Aircraft Co. in the 1940s, and the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft, which features a twin-fuselage configuration that DARPA seems to be favoring in its concept video for some reason.

From the sound of DARPA’s announcement, they’re looking for something a bit more like the Pelican than the Aerocon Dash or the Lun. DARPA wants the Liberty Lifter to be able to sustain flight out of ground effect if necessary, although it’s expected to spend most of its time over water for efficiency. It won’t use runways on land at all, though, and should be able to stay out on the water for 4 to 6 weeks at a time, operating even in rough seas—a significant challenge for ground-effect aircraft.

DARPA is looking for an operational range of 7,500 km, with a maximum payload of at least 90,000 kg, including the ability to launch and recover amphibious vehicles. The hardest thing DARPA is asking for could be that, unlike most other X-planes, the Liberty Lifter should incorporate a “low cost design and construction philosophy” inspired by the mass-produced Liberty ships of World War II.

With US $15 million to be awarded to up to two Liberty Lifter concepts, DARPA is hoping that at least one of those concepts will pass a system-level critical design review in 2025. If everything goes well after that, the first flight of a full-scale prototype vehicle could happen as early as 2027.

This article appears in the September 2022 print issue as “DARPA Reincarnates Soviet-Era Sea Monster.”


Match ID: 187 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 192 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Bi-Weekly /r/Technology Tech Support / General Discussion Thread. Have you a tech question or want to discuss tech?
2022-05-15T17:29:35+00:00

Greetings Fine Subscribers of /r/Technology,

This is the Bi-Weekly /r/Technology Tech Support / General Discussion Thread.

All questions must be submitted as top comments (direct replies to this post).

As always, we ask that you keep it civil, abide by the rules of reddit and mind your reddiquette. Please hit the report button on any activity that you feel may be in violation of any of the guidelines listed above.

Click here to review past entries of these support discussions.

/r/technology moderators.

submitted by /u/veritanuda
[link] [comments]
Match ID: 188 Score: 3.57 source: www.reddit.com age: 196 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Housing starts rise despite surging mortgage rates
Tue, 19 Apr 2022 08:35:38 -0500
U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of roughly 1.79 million in March, representing a 0.3% increase from the upwardly-revised figures for the previous month, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Compared with March 2021, housing starts were up nearly 4%. Meanwhile, permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of roughly 1.87 million, up 0.4% from February and 6.7% from a year ago. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to occur at a median pace of 1.73 million and building permits to come in at a median pace of 1.82 million.
Match ID: 189 Score: 3.57 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 222 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

What is Blockchain: Everything You Need to Know (2022)
Mon, 18 Apr 2022 05:49:00 +0000
What is Blockchain

If you want to pay online, you need to register an account and provide credit card information. If you don't have a credit card, you can pay with bank transfer. With the rise of cryptocurrencies, these methods may become old.

Imagine a world in which you can do transactions and many other things without having to give your personal information. A world in which you don’t need to rely on banks or governments anymore. Sounds amazing, right? That’s exactly what blockchain technology allows us to do.

It’s like your computer’s hard drive. blockchain is a technology that lets you store data in digital blocks, which are connected together like links in a chain. 

Blockchain technology was originally invented in 1991 by two mathematicians, Stuart Haber and W. Scot Stornetta. They first proposed the system to ensure that timestamps could not be tampered with.

A few years later, in 1998, software developer Nick Szabo proposed using a similar kind of technology to secure a digital payments system he called “Bit Gold.” However, this innovation was not adopted until Satoshi Nakamoto claimed to have invented the first Blockchain and Bitcoin.

So, What is Blockchain?

A blockchain is a distributed database shared between the nodes of a computer network. It saves information in digital format. Many people first heard of blockchain technology when they started to look up information about bitcoin.

Blockchain is used in cryptocurrency systems to ensure secure, decentralized records of transactions.

Blockchain allowed people to guarantee the fidelity and security of a record of data without the need for a third party to ensure accuracy.

To understand how a blockchain works, Consider these basic steps:

  • Blockchain collects information in “blocks”.
  • A block has a storage capacity, and once it's used up, it can be closed and linked to a previously served block.
  • Blocks form chains, which are called “Blockchains.”
  • More information will be added to the block with the most content until its capacity is full. The process repeats itself.
  • Each block in the chain has an exact timestamp and can't be changed.

Let’s get to know more about the blockchain.

How does blockchain work?

Blockchain records digital information and distributes it across the network without changing it. The information is distributed among many users and stored in an immutable, permanent ledger that can't be changed or destroyed. That's why blockchain is also called "Distributed Ledger Technology" or DLT.

Here’s how it works:

  • Someone or a computer will transacts
  • The transaction is transmitted throughout the network.
  • A network of computers can confirm the transaction.
  • When it is confirmed a transaction is added to a block
  • The blocks are linked together to create a history.

And that’s the beauty of it! The process may seem complicated, but it’s done in minutes with modern technology. And because technology is advancing rapidly, I expect things to move even more quickly than ever.

  • A new transaction is added to the system. It is then relayed to a network of computers located around the world. The computers then solve equations to ensure the authenticity of the transaction.
  • Once a transaction is confirmed, it is placed in a block after the confirmation. All of the blocks are chained together to create a permanent history of every transaction.

How are Blockchains used?

Even though blockchain is integral to cryptocurrency, it has other applications. For example, blockchain can be used for storing reliable data about transactions. Many people confuse blockchain with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

Blockchain already being adopted by some big-name companies, such as Walmart, AIG, Siemens, Pfizer, and Unilever. For example, IBM's Food Trust uses blockchain to track food's journey before reaching its final destination.

Although some of you may consider this practice excessive, food suppliers and manufacturers adhere to the policy of tracing their products because bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella have been found in packaged foods. In addition, there have been isolated cases where dangerous allergens such as peanuts have accidentally been introduced into certain products.

Tracing and identifying the sources of an outbreak is a challenging task that can take months or years. Thanks to the Blockchain, however, companies now know exactly where their food has been—so they can trace its location and prevent future outbreaks.

Blockchain technology allows systems to react much faster in the event of a hazard. It also has many other uses in the modern world.

What is Blockchain Decentralization?

Blockchain technology is safe, even if it’s public. People can access the technology using an internet connection.

Have you ever been in a situation where you had all your data stored at one place and that one secure place got compromised? Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to prevent your data from leaking out even when the security of your storage systems is compromised?

Blockchain technology provides a way of avoiding this situation by using multiple computers at different locations to store information about transactions. If one computer experiences problems with a transaction, it will not affect the other nodes.

Instead, other nodes will use the correct information to cross-reference your incorrect node. This is called “Decentralization,” meaning all the information is stored in multiple places.

Blockchain guarantees your data's authenticity—not just its accuracy, but also its irreversibility. It can also be used to store data that are difficult to register, like legal contracts, state identifications, or a company's product inventory.

Pros and Cons of Blockchain

Blockchain has many advantages and disadvantages. 

Pros

  • Accuracy is increased because there is no human involvement in the verification process.
  • One of the great things about decentralization is that it makes information harder to tamper with.
  • Safe, private, and easy transactions
  • Provides a banking alternative and safe storage of personal information

Cons

  • Data storage has limits.
  • The regulations are always changing, as they differ from place to place.
  • It has a risk of being used for illicit activities 

Frequently Asked Questions About Blockchain

I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about blockchain in this section.

Is Blockchain a cryptocurrency?

Blockchain is not a cryptocurrency but a technology that makes cryptocurrencies possible. It's a digital ledger that records every transaction seamlessly.

Is it possible for Blockchain to be hacked?

Yes, blockchain can be theoretically hacked, but it is a complicated task to be achieved. A network of users constantly reviews it, which makes hacking the blockchain difficult.

What is the most prominent blockchain company?

Coinbase Global is currently the biggest blockchain company in the world. The company runs a commendable infrastructure, services, and technology for the digital currency economy.

Who owns Blockchain?

Blockchain is a decentralized technology. It’s a chain of distributed ledgers connected with nodes. Each node can be any electronic device. Thus, one owns blockhain.

What is the difference between Bitcoin and Blockchain technology?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which is powered by Blockchain technology while Blockchain is a distributed ledger of cryptocurrency 

What is the difference between Blockchain and a Database?

Generally a database is a collection of data which can be stored and organized using a database management system. The people who have access to the database can view or edit the information stored there. The client-server network architecture is used to implement databases. whereas a blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, stored in a distributed system. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, timestamp and transaction information. Modification of data is not allowed due to the design of the blockchain. The technology allows decentralized control and eliminates risks of data modification by other parties.

Final Saying

Blockchain has a wide spectrum of applications and, over the next 5-10 years, we will likely see it being integrated into all sorts of industries. From finance to healthcare, blockchain could revolutionize the way we store and share data. Although there is some hesitation to adopt blockchain systems right now, that won't be the case in 2022-2023 (and even less so in 2026). Once people become more comfortable with the technology and understand how it can work for them, owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs alike will be quick to leverage blockchain technology for their own gain. Hope you like this article if you have any question let me know in the comments section

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER




Match ID: 190 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 224 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Puzzling Out the Drone War Over Ukraine
Fri, 25 Mar 2022 12:26:23 +0000


In 2014, Ukrainian soldiers fighting in Crimea knew that the sight of Russian drones would soon be followed by a heavy barrage of Russian artillery. During that war, the Russian military integrated drones into tactical missions, using them to hunt for Ukrainian forces, whom they then pounded with artillery and cannon fire. Russian drones weren’t as advanced as those of their Western counterparts, but the Russian military’s integration of drones into its battlefield tactics was second to none.

Eight years later, the Russians are again invading Ukraine. And since the earlier incursion, the Russian military has spent approximately US $9 billion to domestically produce an armada of some 500 drones (a.k.a. unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs). But, astonishingly, three weeks into this invasion, the Russians have not had anywhere near their previous level of success with their drones. There are even signs that in the drone war, the Ukrainians have an edge over the Russians.

How could the drone capabilities of these two militaries have experienced such differing fortunes over the same period? The answer lies in a combination of trade embargoes, tech development, and the rising importance of countermeasures.

Since 2014’s invasion of Crimea, Russia’s drone-development efforts have lagged—during a time of dynamic evolution and development across the UAV industry.

First, some background. Military drones come in a wide variety of sizes, purposes, and capabilities, but they can be grouped into a few categories. On one end of the spectrum are relatively tiny flying bombs, small enough to be carried in a rucksack. On the other end are high-altitude drones, with wingspans up to 25 meters and capable of staying aloft for 30 or 40 hours, of being operated from consoles thousands of kilometers from the battlefield, and of firing air-to-surface missiles with deadly precision. In between are a range of intermediate-size drones used primarily for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Russia’s fleet of drones includes models in each of these categories. However, sanctions imposed after the 2014 invasion of Crimea blocked the Russian military from procuring some key technologies necessary to stay on the cutting edge of drone development, particularly in optics, lightweight composites, and electronics. With relatively limited capabilities of its own in these areas, Russia’s drone development efforts became somewhat sluggish during a time of dynamic evolution and development elsewhere.

Current stalwarts in the Russian arsenal include the Zala Kyb, which is a “loitering munition” that can dive into a target and explode. The most common Russian drones are midsize ones used for surveillance and reconnaissance. These include the Eleron-3SV and the Orlan-10 drones, both of which have been used extensively in Syria and Ukraine. In fact, just last week, an Orlan-10 operator was awarded a military medal for locating a site from which Ukrainian soldiers were ambushing Russian tanks, and also a Ukrainian basing area outside Kyiv containing ten artillery pieces, which were subsequently destroyed. Russia’s only large, missile-firing drone is the Kronshtadt Orion, which is similar to the American MQ-1 Predator and can be used for precision strikes as well as reconnaissance. An Orion was credited with an air strike on a command center in Ukraine in early March 2022.

Meanwhile, since the 2014 Crimea war, when they had no drones at all, the Ukrainians have methodically assembled a modest but highly capable set of drones. The backbone of the fleet, with some 300 units fielded, are the A1-SM Fury and the Leleka-100 reconnaissance drones, both designed and manufactured in Ukraine. The A1-SM Fury entered service in April 2020, and the Leleka-100, in May, 2021.

On offense, the Ukrainian and Russian militaries are closely matched in the drone war. The difference is on defense.

The heavy hitter for Ukraine in this war, though, is the Bayraktar TB2 drone, a combat aerial flyer with a wingspan of 12 meters and an armament of four laser-guided bombs. As of the beginning of March, and after losing two TB2s to Russian-backed separatist forces in Lugansk, Ukraine had a complement of 30 of the drones, which were designed and developed in Turkey. These drones are specifically aimed at destroying tanks and as of 24 March had been credited with destroying 26 vehicles, 10 surface-to-air missile systems, and 3 command posts. Various reports have put the cost of a TB2 at anywhere from $1 million to $10 million. It’s much cheaper than the tens of millions fetched for better-known combat drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, the backbone of the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of combat drones.

The Ukrainian arsenal also includes the Tu-141 reconnaissance drones, which are large, high-altitude Soviet-era drones that have had little success in the war. At the small end of the Ukraine drone complement are 100 Switchblade drones, which were donated by the United States as part of the $800 million weapons package announced on 16 March. The Switchblades are loitering munitions similar in size and functionality to the Russian Zala Kyb.

The upshot is that on offense, the Ukrainian and Russian militaries are closely matched in the drone war. The difference is on defense: Ukraine has the advantage when it comes to counter-drone technology. A decade ago, counter-drone technology mostly meant using radar to detect drones and surface-to-air missiles to shoot them down. It quickly proved far too costly and ineffective. Drone technology advanced at a brisk pace over the past decade, so counter-drone technology had to move rapidly to keep up. In Russia, it didn’t. Here, again, the Russian military was hampered by technology embargoes and a domestic industrial base that has been somewhat stagnant and lacking in critical capabilities. For contrast, the combined industrial base of the countries supporting Ukraine in this war is massive and has invested heavily in counter-drone technology.

Russia has deployed electronic warfare systems to counter enemy drones and have likely been using the Borisoglebsk 2 MT-LB and R-330Zh Zhitel systems, which use a combination of jamming and spoofing. These systems fill the air with radio-frequency energy, increasing the noise threshold to such a level that the drone cannot distinguish control signals from the remote pilot. Another standard counterdrone technique is sending false signals to the drone, with the most common being fake (“spoofed”) GPS signals, which disorient the flyer. Jamming and spoofing systems are easy to target because they emit radio-frequency waves at fairly high intensities. In fact, open-source images show that Ukrainian forces have already destroyed three of these Russian counterdrone systems.

The exact systems that have been provided to the Ukrainians is not publicly known, but it’s possible to make an educated guess from among the many systems available.

Additionally, some of the newer drones being used by the Ukrainians include features to withstand such electronic attacks. For example, when one of these drones detects a jamming signal, it switches to frequencies that are not being jammed; if it is still unable to reestablish a connection, the drone operates autonomously with a series of preset maneuvers until a connection can be reestablished.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has access to the wide array of NATO counterdrone technologies. The exact systems that have been provided to the Ukrainians is not publicly known, but it’s possible to make an educated guess from among the many systems available. One of the more powerful ones, from Lockheed Martin, repurposes a solid-state, phased-array radar system developed to spot incoming munitions, to detect and identify a drone. The system then tracks the drone and uses high-energy lasers to shoot it down. Raytheon’s counterdrone portfolio includes similar capabilities along with drone-killing drones and systems capable of beaming high-power microwaves that disrupt the drone’s electronics.

While most major Western defense contractors have some sort of counterdrone system, there has also been significant innovation in the commercial sector, given the mass proliferation of commercial drones. While many of these technologies are aimed at smaller drones, some of the technologies, including acoustic sensing and radio-frequency localization, are effective against larger drones as well. Also, a dozen small companies have developed jamming and spoofing systems specifically aimed at countering modern drones.

Although we don’t know specifically which counterdrone systems are being deployed by the Ukrainians, the images of the destroyed drones tell a compelling story. In the drone war, many of the flyers on both sides have been captured or destroyed on the ground, but more than half were disabled while in flight. The destroyed Ukrainian drones often show tremendous damage, including burn marks and other signs that they were shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile. A logical conclusion is that the Russians’ electronic counterdrone systems were not effective. Meanwhile, the downed Russian drones are typically much more intact, showing relatively minor damage consistent with a precision strike from a laser or electromagnetic pulse. This is exactly what you would expect if the drones had been dispatched by one of the newer Western counterdrone systems.

In the first three weeks of this conflict, Russian drones have failed to achieve the level of success that they did in 2014. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, have logged multiple victories with drone and counterdrone forces assembled in just 8 years. The Russian drones, primarily domestically sourced, have been foiled repeatedly by NATO counterdrone technology. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian drones, such as the TB2s procured from NATO-member Turkey, have had multiple successes against the Russian counterdrone systems.
Match ID: 191 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 247 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly: Which Grammar Checker is Better in (2022) ?
Sun, 13 Mar 2022 15:04:00 +0000

Grammarly vs prowritingaid

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly:  When it comes to English grammar, there are two Big Players that everyone knows of: the Grammarly and ProWritingAid. but you are wondering which one to choose so here we write a detail article which will help you to choose the best one for you so Let's start

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is a tool that checks for grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation.it gives you comprehensive feedback on your writing. You can use this tool to proofread and edit articles, blog posts, emails, etc.

Grammarly also detects all types of mistakes, including sentence structure issues and misused words. It also gives you suggestions on style changes, punctuation, spelling, and grammar all are in real-time. The free version covers the basics like identifying grammar and spelling mistakes

whereas the Premium version offers a lot more functionality, it detects plagiarism in your content, suggests word choice, or adds fluency to it.


Features of Grammarly

  • Spelling and Word Suggestion: Grammarly detects basic to advance grammatical errors and also help you why this is an error and suggest to you how you can improve it
  • Create a Personal Dictionary: The Grammarly app allows you to add words to your personal dictionary so that the same mistake isn't highlighted every time you run Grammarly.
  • Different English Style: Check to spell for American, British, Canadian, and Australian English.
  • Plagiarism: This feature helps you detect if a text has been plagiarized by comparing it with over eight billion web pages.
  • Wordiness: This tool will help you check your writing for long and hard-to-read sentences. It also shows you how to shorten sentences so that they are more concise.
  • Passive Voice: The program also notifies users when passive voice is used too frequently in a document.
  • Punctuations: This feature flags all incorrect and missing punctuation.
  • Repetition: The tool provides recommendations for replacing the repeated word.
  • Proposition: Grammarly identifies misplaced and confused prepositions.

  • Plugins: It offers Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, and Google Chrome plugins.


What is ProWritingAid?

ProWritingAid is a style and grammar checker for content creators and writers. It helps to optimize word choice, punctuation errors, and common grammar mistakes, providing detailed reports to help you improve your writing. 

ProWritingAid can be used as an add-on to WordPress, Gmail, and Google Docs. The software also offers helpful articles, videos, quizzes, and explanations to help improve your writing.

Features of ProWriting Aid

Here are some key features of ProWriting Aid:

  • Grammar checker and spell checker: This tool helps you to find all grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Find repeated words:  The tool also allows you to search for repeated words and phrases in your content.
  • Context-sensitive style suggestions:  You can find the exact style of writing you intend and suggest if it flows well in your writing.
  • Check the readability of your content: Pro Writing Aid helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your article by pointing out difficult sentences and paragraphs.
  • Sentence Length: It also indicates the length of your sentences.
  • Check Grammatical error: It also checks your work for any grammatical errors or typos, as well.
  • Overused words: As a writer, you might find yourself using the same word repeatedly. ProWritingAid's overused words checker helps you avoid this lazy writing mistake.
  • Consistency: Check your work for inconsistent usage of open and closed quotation marks.
  • Echoes: Check your writing for uniformly repetitive words and phrases.

Difference between Grammarly and Pro-Writing Aid

Grammarly and ProWritingAid are well-known grammar-checking software. However, if you're like most people who can't decide which to use, here are some different points that may be helpful in your decision.

Grammarly vs ProWritingAid

  • Grammarly is a writing enhancement tool that offers suggestions for grammar, vocabulary, and syntax whereas ProWritingAid offers world-class grammar and style checking, as well as advanced reports to help you strengthen your writing.
  • Grammarly provides Android and IOS apps whereas ProWritingAid doesn't have a mobile or IOS app.
  • Grammarly offers important suggestions about mistakes you've made whereas ProWritingAid  shows more suggestions than Grammarly but all recommendations are not accurate
  • Grammarly has a more friendly UI/UX whereas the ProWritingAid interface is not friendly as Grammarly.
  • Grammarly is an accurate grammar checker for non-fiction writing whereas ProWritingAid is an accurate grammar checker for fiction writers.
  • Grammarly finds grammar and punctuation mistakes, whereas ProWritingAid identifies run-on sentences and fragments.
  • Grammarly provides 24/7 support via submitting a ticket and sending emails. ProWritingAid’s support team is available via email, though the response time is approximately 48 hours.
  • Grammarly offers many features in its free plan, whereas ProWritingAid offers some basic features in the free plan.
  • Grammarly does not offer much feedback on big picture writing; ProWritingAid offers complete feedback on big picture writing.
  • Grammarly is a better option for accuracy, whereas ProWritingAid is better for handling fragmented sentences and dialogue. It can be quite useful for fiction writers.

ProWritingAid VS Grammarly: Pricing Difference

  • ProWritingAid comes with three pricing structures. The full-year cost of ProWritingAid is $79, while its lifetime plans cost $339. You also can opt for a monthly plan of $20.
  • Grammarly offers a Premium subscription for $30/month for a monthly plan  $20/month for quarterly and $12/month for an annual subscription.
  • The Business plan costs $12.50 per month for each member of your company.

ProWritingAid vs Grammarly – Pros and Cons

Grammarly Pros

  • It allows you to fix common mistakes like grammar and spelling.
  • Offers most features in the free plan
  • Allows you to edit a document without affecting the formatting.
  • Active and passive voice checker
  • Personal dictionary 
  • Plagiarism checker (paid version)
  • Proofread your writing and correct all punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors.
  • Allows you to make changes to a document without altering its formatting.
  • Helps users improve vocabulary
  • User-friendly interface
  • Browser extensions and MS word add-ons
  • Available on all major devices and platforms
  • Grammarly will also offer suggestions to improve your style.
  • Enhance the readability of your sentence
  • Free mobile apps 
  • Offers  free version

Grammarly Cons

  • Supports only English 
  • Customer support only via email
  • Limits to 150,000 words
  • Subscription plans can be a bit pricey 
  • Plagiarism checker is only available in a premium plan
  • Doesn’t offer a free trial
  • No refund policy
  • The free version is ideal for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes, but it does not correct advanced writing issues.
  • Some features are not available for Mac.

ProwritingAid Pros

  • It offers more than 20 different reports to help you improve your writing.
  • Less expensive than other grammar checkers.
  • This tool helps you strengthen your writing style as it offers big-picture feedback.
  • ProWritingAid has a life plan with no further payments required.
  • Compatible with Google Docs!
  • Prowritingaid works on both Windows and Mac.
  • They offer more integrations than most tools.

ProWritingAid Cons

  • Editing can be a little more time-consuming when you add larger passages of text.
  • ProWritingAid currently offers no mobile app for Android or iOS devices.
  • Plagiarism checker is only available in premium plans.
  • All recommendations are not accurate

Summarizing the Ginger VS Grammarly: My Recommendation

As both writing assistants are great in their own way, you need to choose the one that suits you best.

  • For example, go for Grammarly  if you are a non-fiction writer
  • Go for ProWritingAid if you are a fiction writer.
  • ProWritingAid is better at catching errors found in long-form content. However, Grammarly is more suited to short blog posts and other similar tasks.
  • ProWritingAid helps you clean up your writing by checking for style, structure, and content while Grammarly focuses on grammar and punctuation.
  • Grammarly has a more friendly UI/UX whereas; ProWritingAid offers complete feedback on big picture writing.

Both ProWritingAid and Grammarly are awesome writing tools, without a doubt. but as per my experience, Grammarly is a winner here because Grammarly helps you to review and edit your content. Grammarly highlights all the mistakes in your writing within seconds of copying and pasting the content into Grammarly’s editor or using the software’s native feature in other text editors.

Not only does it identify tiny grammatical and spelling errors, it tells you when you overlook punctuations where they are needed. And, beyond its plagiarism-checking capabilities, Grammarly helps you proofread your content. Even better, the software offers a free plan that gives you access to some of its features.




Match ID: 192 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 259 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Sellfy Review 2022: How Good Is This Ecommerce Platform?
Sat, 12 Mar 2022 11:54:00 +0000

 

Sellfy

Are you searching for an ecomerce platform to help you build an online store and sell products?

In this Sellfy review, we'll talk about how this eCommerce platform can let you sell digital products while keeping full control of your marketing.

And the best part? Starting your business can be done in just five minutes.

Let us then talk about the Sellfy platform and all the benefits it can bring to your business.

What is Sellfy?

Sellfy is an eCommerce solution that allows digital content creators, including writers, illustrators, designers, musicians, and filmmakers, to sell their products online. Sellfy provides a customizable storefront where users can display their digital products and embed "Buy Now" buttons on their website or blog. Sellfy product pages enable users to showcase their products from different angles with multiple images and previews from Soundcloud, Vimeo, and YouTube. Files of up to 2GB can be uploaded to Sellfy, and the company offers unlimited bandwidth and secure file storage. Users can also embed their entire store or individual project widgets in their site, with the ability to preview how widgets will appear before they are displayed.

Features

Sellfy includes:

Online Store

Sellfy is a powerful e-commerce platform that helps you personalize your online storefront. You can add your logo, change colors, revise navigation, and edit the layout of your store. Sellfy also allows you to create a full shopping cart so customers can purchase multiple items. And Sellfy gives you the ability to set your language or let customers see a translated version of your store based on their location.

Sellfy gives you the option to host your store directly on its platform, add a custom domain to your store, and use it as an embedded storefront on your website. Sellfy also optimizes its store offerings for mobile devices, allowing for a seamless checkout experience.

Product hosting

Sellfy allows creators to host all their products and sell all of their digital products on one platform. Sellfy also does not place storage limits on your store but recommends that files be no larger than 5GB. Creators can sell both standard and subscription-based products in any file format that is supported by the online marketplace. Customers can purchase products instantly after making a purchase – there is no waiting period.

You can organize your store by creating your product categories, sorting by any characteristic you choose. Your title, description, and the image will be included on each product page. In this way, customers can immediately evaluate all of your products. You can offer different pricing options for all of your products, including "pay what you want," in which the price is entirely up to the customer. This option allows you to give customers control over the cost of individual items (without a minimum price) or to set pricing minimums—a good option if you're in a competitive market or when you have higher-end products. You can also offer set prices per product as well as free products to help build your store's popularity.

Sellfy is ideal for selling digital content, such as ebooks. But it does not allow you to copyrighted material (that you don't have rights to distribute).

Embed options

Sellfy offers several ways to share your store, enabling you to promote your business on different platforms. Sellfy lets you integrate it with your existing website using "buy now" buttons, embed your entire storefront, or embed certain products so you can reach more people. Sellfy also enables you to connect with your Facebook page and YouTube channel, maximizing your visibility.

Payments and security

Sellfy is a simple online platform that allows customers to buy your products directly through your store. Sellfy has two payment processing options: PayPal and Stripe. You will receive instant payments with both of these processors, and your customer data is protected by Sellfy's secure (PCI-compliant) payment security measures. In addition to payment security, Sellfy provides anti-fraud tools to help protect your products including PDF stamping, unique download links, and limited download attempts.


Marketing and analytics tools

The Sellfy platform includes marketing and analytics tools to help you manage your online store. You can send email product updates and collect newsletter subscribers through the platform. With Sellfy, you can also offer discount codes and product upsells, as well as create and track Facebook and Twitter ads for your store. The software's analytics dashboard will help you track your best-performing products, generated revenue, traffic channels, top locations, and overall store performance.

Integrations

To expand functionality and make your e-commerce store run more efficiently, Sellfy offers several integrations. Google Analytics and Webhooks, as well as integrations with Patreon and Facebook Live Chat, are just a few of the options available. Sellfy allows you to connect to Zapier, which gives you access to hundreds of third-party apps, including tools like Mailchimp, Trello, Salesforce, and more.

Pricing and Premium Plan Features

Get Sellfy 14 day free trail from here

Free Plan

  • Price: $0

The free plan comes with:

  • Up to 10 products
  • Print-on-demand products
  • Physical products

Starter Plan

  • Price: $19/month

Starter plan comes with:

  • Everything is Free, plus:
  • Unlimited products
  • Digital products
  • Subscription products
  • Connect your domain
  • 2,000 email credits

Business Plan

  • Price: $49/month

The business plan comes with:

  • Everything in Starter, plus:
  • Remove "Sellfy" branding
  • Store design migration
  • Cart abandonment
  • Product upselling
  • 10,000 email credits

Premium Plan

  • Price: $99/month

The premium plan comes with:

  • Everything in Business, plus:
  • Product migration
  • Priority support
  • 50,000 email credits

Sellfy Review: Pros and Cons

Sellfy has its benefits and downsides, but fortunately, the pros outweigh the cons.

Pros

  • It takes only a few minutes to set up an online store and begin selling products.
  • You can sell your products on a single storefront, even if you are selling multiple product types.
  • Sellfy supports selling a variety of product types, including physical items, digital goods, subscriptions, and print-on-demand products.

  • Sellfy offers a free plan for those who want to test out the features before committing to a paid plan.
  • You get paid the same day you make a sale. Sellfy doesn't delay your funds as some other payment processors do. 
  • Print-on-demand services are available directly from your store, so you can sell merchandise to fans without setting up an integration. 
  • You can conduct all store-related activities via the mobile app and all online stores have mobile responsive designs.
  • Everything you need to make your website is included, including a custom domain name hosting, security for your files, and the ability to customize your store
  • The file security features can help you protect your digital property by allowing you to put PDF stamps, set download limits, and SSL encryption.
  • Sellfy provides unlimited support.
  • Sellfy provides simple and intuitive tax and VAT configuration settings.
  • Marketing strategies include coupons, email marketing, upselling, tracking pixels, and cart abandonment.

Cons

  • Although the free plan is helpful, but it limits you to only 10 products.
  • Payment plans often require an upgrade if you exceed a certain sales amount per year.
  • The storefront designs are clean, but they're not unique templates for creating a completely different brand image.
  • Sellfy's branding is removed from your hosted product when you upgrade to the $49 per month Business plan.
  • The free plan does not allow for selling digital or subscription products.

Conclusion

In this article, we have taken a look at some of the biggest benefits associated with using sellfy for eCommerce. Once you compare these benefits to what you get with other platforms such as Shopify, you should find that it is worth your time to consider sellfy for your business. After reading this article all of your questions will be solved but if you have still some questions let me know in the comment section below, I will be happy to answer your questions.

Note: This article contains affiliate links which means we make a small commission if you buy sellfy premium plan from our link.



Match ID: 193 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 260 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Top 10 Best PLR(Private Label Rights) Websites | Which One You Should Join in 2022?
Sat, 26 Feb 2022 13:36:00 +0000
PLR


Content creation is one of the biggest struggles for many marketers and business owners. It often requires both time and financial resources, especially if you plan to hire a writer.
Today, we have a fantastic opportunity to use other people's products by purchasing Private Label Rights.

To find a good PLR website, first, determine the type of products you want to acquire. One way to do this is to choose among membership sites or PLR product stores. Following are 10 great sites that offer products in both categories.

What are PLR websites?

Private Label Rights (PLR) products are digital products that can be in the form of an ebook, software, online course videos, value-packed articles, etc. You can use these products with some adjustments to sell as your own under your own brand and keep all the money and profit yourself without wasting your time on product creation.
The truth is that locating the best website for PLR materials can be a time-consuming and expensive exercise. That’s why we have researched, analyzed, and ranked the best 10 websites:

1. PLR.me

 PLR.me is of the best places to get PLR content in 2021-2022. It offers a content marketing system that comes with courses, brandable tools, and more. It is the most trusted PLR website, among other PLR sites. The PLR.me platform features smart digital caching PLR tools for health and wellness professionals. The PLR.me platform, which was built on advanced caching technology, has been well-received by big brands such as Toronto Sun and Entrepreneur. The best thing about this website is its content marketing automation tools.

Pricing

  • Pay-as-you-go Plan – $22
  • 100 Monthly Plan – $99/month
  • 400 Annual Plan – $379/year
  • 800 Annual Plan – $579/year
  • 2500 Annual Plan – $990/year

Pros

  • Access over 15,940+ ready-to-use PLR coaching resources.
  • Content marketing and sliding tools are provided by the site.
  • You can create courses, products, webinars, emails, and nearly anything else you can dream of.
  • You can cancel your subscription anytime.

Cons

  • Compared to other top PLR sites, this one is a bit more expensive.

2. InDigitalWorks

InDigitalWorks is a leading private label rights membership website established in 2008. As of now, it has more than 100,000 members from around the globe have joined the platform. The site offers thousands of ready-to-be-sold digital products for online businesses in every single niche possible. InDigitalWorks features hundreds of electronic books, software applications, templates, graphics, videos that you can sell right away.

Pricing:

  • 3 Months Plan – $39
  • 1 Year Plan – $69
  • Lifetime Plan – $79

Pros

  • IndigitalWorks promotes new authors by providing them with 200 free products for download.
  • Largest and most reputable private label rights membership site.
  •  20000+ digital products
  • 137 training videos provided by experts to help beginners set up and grow their online presence for free.
  • 10 GB of web hosting will be available on a reliable server.

Cons

  • Fewer people are experiencing the frustration of not getting the help they need.

3. BuyQualityPLR

BuyQualityPLR’s website is a Top PLR of 2021-2022! It's a source for major Internet Marketing Products and Resources. Whether you’re an Affiliate Marketer, Product Creator, Course Seller,  BuyQualityPLR can assist you in the right direction. You will find several eBooks and digital products related to the Health and Fitness niche, along with a series of Security-based products. If you search for digital products, Resell Rights Products, Private Label Rights Products, or Internet Marketing Products, BuyQualityPLR is among the best websites for your needs.

Pricing

  • Free PLR articles packs, ebooks, and other digital products are available
  • Price ranges from 3.99$ to 99.9$

Pros

  • Everything on this site is written by professionals
  • The quick download features available
  • Doesn't provide membership.
  • Offers thousand of PLR content in many niches
  • Valuable courses available

Cons

  • You can't buy all content because it doesn't provide membership

4. IDPLR

The IDPLR website has helped thousands of internet marketers since 2008. This website follows a membership approach and allows you to gain access to thousands of PLR products in different niches. The best thing about this site is the quality of the products, which is extremely impressive.
This is the best PLR website of 2021-2022, offering over 200k+ high-quality articles. It also gives you graphics, templates, ebooks, and audio.

Pricing

  • 3 Months ACCESS: $39
  • 1 YEAR ACCESS: $69
  • LIFETIME ACCESS: $79

Pros

  • You will have access to over 12,590 PLR products.
  • You will get access to training tutorials and Courses in a Gold membership.
  • 10 GB of web hosting will be available on a reliable server.
  • You will receive 3D eCover Software
  • It offers an unlimited download limit
  • Most important, you will get a 30 day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • A few products are available for free membership.

5. PLRMines

PLRmines is a leading digital product library for private label rights products. The site provides useful information on products that you can use to grow your business, as well as licenses for reselling the content. You can either purchase a membership or get access through a free trial, and you can find unlimited high-quality resources via the site's paid or free membership. Overall, the site is an excellent resource for finding outstanding private label rights content.

Pricing

  • Lifetime membership:  $97

Pros

  • 4000+ ebooks from top categories
  • Members have access to more than 660 instructional videos covering all kinds of topics in a membership area.
  • You will receive outstanding graphics that are ready to use.
  • They also offer a variety of helpful resources and tools, such as PLR blogs, WordPress themes, and plugins

Cons

  • The free membership won't give you much value.

6. Super-Resell

Super-Resell is another remarkable provider of PLR material. The platform was established in 2009 and offers valuable PLR content to users. Currently, the platform offers standard lifetime memberships and monthly plans at an affordable price. Interested users can purchase up to 10,000 products with digital rights or rights of re-sale. Super-Resell offers a wide range of products such as readymade websites, article packs, videos, ebooks, software, templates, and graphics, etc.

Pricing

  • 6 Months Membership: $49.90
  • Lifetime membership: $129

Pros

  • It offers you products that come with sales pages and those without sales pages.
  •  You'll find thousands of digital products that will help your business grow.
  • Daily News update

Cons

  • The company has set up an automatic renewal system. This can result in costs for you even though you are not using the service.

7. Unstoppable PLR

UnStoppablePLR was launched in 2006 by Aurelius Tjin, an internet marketer. Over the last 15 years, UnStoppablePLR has provided massive value to users by offering high-quality PLR content. The site is one of the best PLR sites because of its affordability and flexibility.

Pricing

  • Regular Price: $29/Month

Pros

  • You’ll get 30 PLR articles in various niches for free.
  • 100% money-back guarantee.
  • Members get access to community
  • It gives you access to professionally designed graphics and much more.

Cons

  • People often complain that not enough PLR products are released each month. 

8. Resell Rights Weekly

Resell Rights Weekly, a private label rights (PLR) website, provides exceptional PLR content. It is among the top free PLR websites that provide free membership. You will get 728+ PLR products completely free and new products every single week. The Resell Rights Weekly gives you free instant access to all products and downloads the ones you require.

Pricing

  • Gold Membership: $19.95/Month

Pros

  • Lots of products available free of cost
  • Free access to the  members forum

Cons

  • The prices for the products at this PLR site are very low quality compared to other websites that sell the same items.

9. MasterResellRights

MasterResellRights was established in 2006, and it has helped many successful entrepreneurs. Once you join MasterResellRights, you will get access to more than 10,000 products and services from other members. It is one of the top PLR sites that provide high-quality PLR products to members across the globe. You will be able to access a lot of other membership privileges at no extra price. The website also provides PLR, MRR, and RR license products.

Pricing

One Month Membership: $19.97
Three Month Membership: $47.00

Pros

Access more than 10,000 high-quality,  PLR articles in different niches.
Get daily fresh new updates
Users get 8 GB of hosting space
You can pay using PayPal

Cons

Only members have access to the features of this site.

10. BigProductStore 

BigProductStore is a popular private label rights website that offers tens of thousands of digital products. These include software, videos, video courses, eBooks, and many others that you can resell, use as you want, or sell and keep 100% of the profit.
The PLR website updates its product list daily. It currently offers over 10,000 products.
The site offers original content for almost every niche and when you register as a member, you can access the exclusive products section where you can download a variety of high-quality, unique, and exclusive products.

Pricing

  • Monthly Plan: $19.90/Month 27% off
  • One-Time-Payment: $98.50  50% off
  • Monthly Ultimate: $29.90/Month 36% off
  • One-Time-Payment Ultimate: $198.50 50% off

Pros

  • You can use PLR products to generate profits, give them as bonuses for your affiliate promotion campaign, or rebrand them and create new unique products.
  • Lifetime memberships for PLR products can save you money if you’re looking for a long-term solution to bulk goods.
  • The website is updated regularly with fresh, quality content.

Cons

  • Product descriptions may not provide much detail, so it can be difficult to know just what you’re downloading.
  • Some product categories such as WP Themes and articles are outdated. 

Match ID: 194 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 274 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Canva Review 2022: Details, Pricing & Features
Sun, 20 Feb 2022 12:02:00 +0000


Are you looking for a new graphic design tool? Would you like to read a detailed review of Canva? As it's one of the tools I love using. I am also writing my first ebook using canva and publish it soon on my site you can download it is free.  Let's start the review.

Canva has a web version and also a mobile app

What is Canva?

Canva is a free graphic design web application that allows you to create invitations, business cards, flyers, lesson plans, banners, and more using professionally designed templates. You can upload your own photos from your computer or from Google Drive, and add them to Canva's templates using a simple drag-and-drop interface. It's like having a basic version of Photoshop that doesn't require Graphic designing knowledge to use. It’s best for nongraphic designers.

Who is Canva best suited for?

Canva is a great tool for small business owners, online entrepreneurs, and marketers who don’t have the time and want to edit quickly.

To create sophisticated graphics, a tool such as Photoshop can is ideal. To use it, you’ll need to learn its hundreds of features, get familiar with the software, and it’s best to have a good background in design, too.

Also running the latest version of Photoshop you need a high-end computer.

So here  Canva takes place, with Canva you can do all that with drag-and-drop feature. It’s also easier to use and free. Also an even-more-affordable paid version is available for $12.95 per month.

Free vs Pro vs Enterprise Pricing plan

The product is available in three plans: Free, Pro ($12.99/month per user or  $119.99/year for up to 5 people), and Enterprise ($30 per user per month, minimum 25 people).

Free plan Features

  • 250,000+ free templates
  • 100+ design types (social media posts, presentations, letters, and more)
  • Hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics
  • Invite members to your team
  • Collaborate and comment in real-time
  • 5GB of cloud storage
  • Try Canva Pro for free for 30 days

Pro Plan Features 

  • Everything Free, has plus:
  • 100+ million premium and  stock photos, videos, audio, and graphics
  • 610,000+ premium and free templates with new designs daily
  • Access to Background Remover and Magic Resize
  •  Create a library of your brand or campaign's colors, logos, and fonts with up to 100 Brand Kits
  • Remove image backgrounds instantly with background remover
  • Resize designs infinitely with Magic Resize
  • Save designs as templates for your team to use
  • 100GB of cloud storage
  • Schedule social media content to 8 platforms

Enterprise Plan Features

  • Everything Pro has plus:
  • Establish your brand's visual identity with logos, colors and fonts across multiple Brand Kits
  • Control your team's access to apps, graphics, logos, colors and fonts with brand controls
  • Built-in workflows to get approval on your designs
  • Set which elements your team can edit and stay on brand with template locking
  • Unlimited Storage
  • Log in with single-sign on (SSO) and have access to 24/7 Enterprise-level support.

How to Use Canva?

To get started on Canva, you will need to create an account by providing your email address, Google, Facebook or Apple credentials. You will then choose your account type between student, teacher, small business, large company, non-profit, or personal. Based on your choice of account type, templates will be recommended to you.

You can sign up for a free trial of Canva Pro, or you can start with the free version to get a sense of whether it’s the right graphic design tool for your needs.

Canva Sign Up

Designing with Canva

canva


When you sign up for an account, Canva will suggest different post types to choose from. Based on the type of account you set up  you'll be able to see templates categorized by the following categories: social media posts, documents, presentations, marketing, events, ads, launch your business, build your online brand, etc.

 Start by choosing a template for your post or searching for something more specific. Search by social network name to see a list of post types on each network.

Templates

canva templates


Next, you can choose a template. Choose from hundreds of templates that are ready to go, with customizable photos, text, and other elements.

You can start your design by choosing from a variety of ready-made templates, searching for a template matching your needs, or working with a blank template.


 Canva has a lot to choose from, so start with a specific search.if you want to create business card just search for it and you will see alot of templates to choose from

Elements

Inside the Canva designer, the Elements tab gives you access to lines and shapes, graphics, photos, videos, audio, charts, photo frames, and photo grids.The search box on the Elements tab lets you search everything on Canva.

canva elements

To begin with, Canva has a large library of elements to choose from. To find them, be specific in your search query. You may also want to search in the following tabs to see various elements separately:

Photos

The Photos tab lets you search for and choose from millions of professional stock photos for your templates.

You can replace the photos in our templates to create a new look. This can also make the template more suited to your industry.

You can find photos on other stock photography sites like pexel, pixabay and many more or simply upload your own photos.

canva photos

When you choose an image, Canva’s photo editing features let you adjust the photo’s settings (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.), crop, or animate it.

 When you subscribe to Canva Pro, you get access to a number of premium features, including the Background Remover. This feature allows you to remove the background from any stock photo in  library or any image you upload.

Text

The Text tab lets you add headings, normal text, and graphical text to your design.

When you click on  text, you'll see options to adjust the font, font size, color, format, spacing, and text effects (like shadows). 

Canva Pro subscribers can choose from a large library of fonts on the Brand Kit or the Styles tab. Enterprise-level controls ensure that visual content remains on-brand, no matter how many people are working on it.

Audio

Create an animated image or video by adding audio to capture user’s attention in social news feeds.

If you want to use audio from another stock site or your own audio tracks, you can upload them in the Uploads tab or from the more option.

Video

Want to create your own videos? Choose from thousands of stock video clips. You’ll find videos that range upto 2 minutes

You can upload your own videos as well as videos from other stock sites in the Uploads tab. 

Once you have chosen a video, you can use the editing features in Canva to trim the video, flip it, and adjust its transparency.

Backgrounds

On the Background tab, you’ll find free stock photos to serve as backgrounds on your designs. Change out the background on a template to give it a more personal touch.

Styles


The Styles tab lets you quickly change the look and feel of your template with just a click. And if you have a Canva Pro subscription, you can upload your brand’s custom colors and fonts to ensure designs stay on brand.

Logos

If you have a Canva Pro subscription, you’ll have a Logos tab. Here, you can upload variations of your brand logo to use throughout your designs.

With Canva, you can also create your own logos. Note that you cannot trademark a logo with stock content in it.

Publishing with Canva

With Canva, free users can download and share designs to multiple platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Slack and Tumblr.

Canva Pro subscribers can create multiple post formats from one design. For example, you can start by designing an Instagram post, and Canva's Magic Resizer can resize it for other networks, Stories, Reels, and other formats.

Canva Pro subscribers can also use Canva’s Content Planner to post content on eight different accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Slack, and Tumblr.

Canva Team

Canva Pro allows you to work with your team on visual content. Designs can be created inside Canva, and then sent to your team members for approval. Everyone can make comments, edits, revisions, and keep track via the version history.

Canva Print

When it comes to printing your designs, Canva has you covered. With an extensive selection of printing options, they can turn your designs into anything from banners and wall art to mugs and t-shirts. 

Canva Print is perfect for any business seeking to make a lasting impression. Create inspiring designs people will want to wear, keep, and share. Hand out custom business cards that leave a lasting impression on customers' minds.

Canva Apps

The Canva app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The Canva app has earned a 4.9 out of five star rating from over 946.3K Apple users and a 4.5 out of five star rating from over 6,996,708 Google users.

In addition to mobile apps, you can use Canva’s integration with other Internet services to add images and text from sources like Google Maps, Emojis, photos from Google Drive and Dropbox, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Bitmojis, and other popular visual content elements.

Canva Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • A user-friendly interface
  • Canva is a great tool for people who want to create professional graphics but don’t have graphic design skills.
  • Hundreds of templates, so you'll never have to start from scratch.
  • Wide variety of templates to fit multiple uses
  • Branding kits to keep your team consistent with the brand colors and fonts
  • Creating visual content on the go
  • You can find royalty free images, audio, and video without having to subscribe to another service.

Cons:

  • Some professional templates are available for Pro user only
  • Advanced photo editing features like blurring or erasing a specific area are missing.
  • Some elements that fall outside of a design are tricky to retrieve.
  • Features (like Canva presentations) could use some improvement.
  • If you are a regular user of Adobe products, you might find Canva's features limited.
  • Prefers to work with vectors. Especially logos.
  • Expensive enterprise pricing

Conclusion

In general, Canva is an excellent tool for those who need simple images for projects. If you are a graphic designer with experience, you will find Canva’s platform lacking in customization and advanced features – particularly vectors. But if you have little design experience, you will find Canva easier to use than advanced graphic design tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator for most projects. If you have any queries let me know in the comments section.






Match ID: 195 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 280 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Top 7 Best Wordpress Plugin Of All Time
Fri, 11 Feb 2022 09:00:00 +0000

 

If you are looking for the best wordpress plugins, then you are at the right place. Here is the list of best wordpress plugins that you should use in your blog to boost SEO, strong your security and know every aspects of your blog . Although creating a good content is one factor but there are many wordpress plugins that perform different actions and add on to your success. So let's  start

1.Yoast SEO

Those users who are serious about SEO, Yoast SEO will do the work for them to reach their goals. All they need to do is select a keyword, and the plugin will then optimize your page according to the specified keyword

Yoast offers many popular SEO WordPress plugin functions. It gives you real-time page analysis to optimize your content, images, meta descriptions, titles, and kewords. Yoast also checks the length of your sentences and paragraphs, whether you’re using enough transition words or subheadings, how often you use passive voice, and so on. Yoast tells Google whether or not to index a page or a set of pages too.

Let me summarize these points in bullets:

  • Enhance the readability of your article to reduce bounce rate
  • Optimize your articles with targetted keywords
  • Let Google know who you are and what your site is about
  • Improve your on-page SEO with advanced, real-time guidance and advice on keyword usage, linking, and external linking.
  • Keep your focus keywords consistent to help rank better on  Google.
  • Preview how your page would appear in the search engine results page (SERP)
  • Crawl your site daily to ensure Google indexes it as quickly as possible.
  • Rate your article informing you of any mistakes you might have made so that you can fix them before publishing.
  • Stay up-to-date with Google’s latest algorithm changes and adapt your on-page SEO as needed with smartsuggestionss from the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin is always up-to-date.
  • Free Version is available 

Pricing

  • Premium version=$89/year that comes with extra functions, allowing you to optimize your content up to five keywords, among other benefits.


2. WP Rocket

A website running WordPress can put a lot of strain on a server, which increases the chances that the website will crash and harm your business. To avoid such an unfortunate situation and ensure that all your pages load quickly, you need a caching plugin like WP Rocket.

WP Rocket plugin designed to increases your website speed. Instead of waiting for pages to be saved to cache, WP Rocket turns on desired caching settings, like page cache and gzip compression. The plugin also activates other features, such as CDN support and llazy image loadding, to enhance your site speed.

Features in bullets:

  • Browser Catching
  • Preloading the cache of pages
  • Reducing the number of HTTP requests allows websites to load more quickly.
  • Decreasing bandwidth usage with GZIP compression
  • Apply optimal browser caching headers (expires)
  • Minifying and combining JavaScript and CSS files
  • Remove Unused CSS
  • Deferred loading of images (LazyLoad)
  • WebP compatibility
  • Deferred loading of JavaScript files
  • Delay JavaScript Execution
  • Critical Path CSS generation and deferred loading of CSS files
  • Database optimization
  • WordPress Heartbeat API control
  • DNS prefetch
  • CDN integration
  • Cloudflare integration
  • Sucuri integration
  • Easy import/export of settings
  • Easy roll back to a previous version


Pricing

  • Single License =$49/year for one website
  • Plus License =$99/year for 3 websites
  • Infinite License =$249/year for unlimited websites


3.Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security is a WordPress firewall and security scanner that keeps your site safe from malicious hackers, spam, and other online threats. This Plugin comes with a web application firewall (WAF) called tthread Defence  Feed  that helps to prevents brute force attacks by ensuring you set stronger passwords and limiting login attempts. It searches for malware and compares code, theme, and plugin files with the records in the WordPress.org repository to verify their integrity and reports changes to you.

Wordfence security scanner provides you with actionable insights into your website's security status and will alert you to any potential threats, keeping it safe and secure. It also includes login security features that let you activate reCAPTCHA and two-factor authentication for your website.

Features in Bullets.

  • Scans your site for vulnerabilities.
  • Alerts you by email when new threats are detected.
  • Supports advanced login security measures.
  • IP addresses may be blocked automatically if suspicious activity is detected.

Pricing

  • Premium Plan= $99/Year that comes with extra security features like the real time IP backlist and country blocking option and also support from highly qualified experts.

4. Akismet

Akismet can help prevent spam from appearing on your site. Every day, it automatically checks every comment against a global database of spam to block malicious content. With Akismet, you also won’t have to worry about innocent comments being caught by the filter or false positives. You can simply tell Akismet about those and it will get better over time. It also checks your contact form submissions against its global spam database and weed out unnecessary fake information.

Features in Bullets:

  • The program automatically checks comments and filters out spam.
  • Hidden or misleading links are often revealed in the comment body. 
  • Akismet tracks the status of each comment, allowing you to see which ones were caught by Akismet and which ones were cleared by a moderator.
  • A spam-blocking feature that saves disk space and makes your site run faster.
  • Moderators can view a list of comments approved by each user.

Pricing

  • Free to use for personal blog 

5. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is a plug-in that allows you to create contact forms that make it easy for your users to send messages to your site. The plug-in was developed by Takayuki Miyoshi and lets you create multiple contact forms on the same site; it also integrates Akismet spam filtering and lets you customize the styling and fields that you want to use in the form. The plug-in provides CAPTCHA and Ajax submitting.

Features in bullets:

  • Create and manage multiple contact forms
  • Easily customize form fields
  • Use simple markup to alter mail content
  • Add Lots of third-party extensions for additional functionality
  • Shortcode offers a way to insert content into pages or posts.
  • Akismet spam filtering, Ajax-powered submitting, and CAPTCHA are all features of this plugin.

Pricing

  • Free to use

6. Monster Insights

When you’re looking for an easy way to manage your Google Analytics-related web tracking services, Monster Insights can help. You can add, customize, and integrate Google Analytics data with ease so you’ll be able to see how every webpage performs, which online campaigns bring in the most traffic, and which content readers engage with the most. It’s same as Google Analytics

It is a powerful tool to keep track of your traffic stats. With it, you can view stats for your active sessions, conversions, and bounce rates. You’ll also be able to see your total revenue, the products you sell, and how your site is performing when it comes to referrals.

MonsterInsights offers a free plan that includes basic Google Analytics integration, data insights, and user activity metrics.

Features in bullets:

  • Demographics and interest reports:
  • Anonymize the  IPs of visitor
  • See the results of how far visitors Scroll down
  • Show the insights of multiple links to the same page and show you which links get more clicks
  • See sessions of two related sites as a single session
  • Google AdSense tracking
  • Send you weekly analytics report of your blog you can download it as pdf

Pricing

  • Premium plan= $99.50/year that comes with extra features like page and post tracking, Adsense tracking,  custom tracking and reports.

7. Pretty Links

Pretty Links is a powerful WordPress plugin that enables you to easily cloak affiliate links on your websiteIt even allows you to easily redirect visitors based on a specific request, including permanent 301 and temporary 302/307 redirects.

Pretty links also helps you to automatically shorten your url for your post and pages.

You can also enable auto-linking feature to automatically add affiliate links for certain keywords

Features

  •  Create clean, easy-to-remember URLs on your website (301, 302, and 307 redirects only)
  • Random-generator or custom URL slugs
  • Track the number of clicks
  • Easy to understand reports
  • View click details including ip address, remote host, browser, operating system, and referring site
  • You can pass custom parameters to your scripts when using pretty permalinks, and still have full tracking capability.
  • Exclude IP Addresses from Stats
  • Cookie-based system to track your activity across clicks
  • Create nofollow/noindex links
  • Toggle tracking on / off on each link.
  • Pretty Link Bookmarklet
  •  Update redirected links easily to new URLs!

Pricing

  • Beginner Plan=$79/year that can be used on 1 site
  • Marketer Plan: $99/year – that can be used on upto 2 sites
  • Super Affiliate Plan: $149/year – that can be use on upto 5 sites


We hope you’ve found this article useful. We appreciate you reading and welcome your feedback if you have it.



Match ID: 196 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 289 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Ginger VS Grammarly: Which Grammar Checker is Better in (2022) ?
Thu, 10 Feb 2022 10:28:00 +0000
Grammarly vs Ginger


Ginger VS Grammarly: When it comes to grammar checkers, Ginger and Grammarly are two of the most popular choices on the market. This article aims to highlight the specifics of each one so that you can make a more informed decision about the one you'll use.

What is Grammarly?

If you are a writer, you must have heard of  Grammarly before. Grammarly has over 10M users across the globe, it's probably the most popular AI writing enhancement tool, without a doubt. That's why there's a high chance that you already know about Grammarly.

But today we are going to do a comparison between Ginger and Grammarly, So let's define Grammarly here. Like Ginger, Grammarly is an AI writing assistant that checks for grammatical errors, spellings, and punctuation. The free version covers the basics like identifying grammar and spelling mistakes

While the Premium version offers a lot more functionality, it detects plagiarism in your content, suggests word choice, or adds fluency to it.

Features of Grammarly

  • Grammarly detects basic to advance grammatical errors and also help you why this is an error and suggest to you how you can improve it
  • Create a personal dictionary 
  • Check to spell for American, British, Canadian, and Australian English.
  • Understand inconsistencies. 
  • Detect unclear structure. 
  • Detect Plagiarism.
  • Explore overuse of words and wordiness. 
  • Get to know about the improper tones. 
  • Discover the insensitive language aligns with your intent, audience, style, emotion, and more.


What is Ginger

 Ginger is a writing enhancement tool that not only catches typos and grammatical mistakes but also suggests content improvements. As you type, it picks up on errors then shows you what’s wrong, and suggests a fix. It also provides you with synonyms and definitions of words and allows you to translate your text into dozens of languages.


Ginger Software: Features & Benefits

  • Ginger's software helps you identify and correct common grammatical mistakes, such as consecutive nouns, or contextual spelling correction.
  • The sentence rephrasing feature can help you convey your meaning perfectly.
  • Ginger acts like a personal coach that helps you practice certain exercises based on your mistakes.
  • The dictionary feature helps users understand the meanings of words.

In addition, the program provides a text reader, so you can gauge your writing’s conversational tone.


Ginger vs Grammarly

Grammarly and Ginger are two popular grammar checker software brands that help you to become a better writer. But if you’re undecided about which software to use, consider these differences:

  • Grammarly only supports the English language while Ginger supports 40+ languages.
  • Grammarly offers a wordiness feature while Ginger lacks a Wordiness feature.
  • Grammarly shows an accuracy score while Ginger lacks an accuracy score feature.
  • Grammarly has a plagiarism checker while ginger doesn't have such a feature.
  • Grammarly can recognize an incorrect use of numbers while Ginger can’t recognize an incorrect use of numbers.
  • Grammarly and Ginger both have mobile apps.
  • Ginger and Grammarly offer monthly, quarterly, and annual plans.
  • Grammarly allows you to check uploaded documents. while Ginger doesn't check uploaded documents.
  • Grammarly Offers a tone suggestion feature while Ginger doesn't offer a tone suggestion feature.
  • Ginger helps to translate documents into 40+ languages while Grammarly doesn't have a translation feature.
  • Ginger Offers text to speech features while Grammarly doesn't have such features.


Grammarly Score: 7/10

Ginger:4/10

So Grammarly  wins here.

Ginger VS Grammarly: Pricing Difference

  • Ginger offers a Premium subscription for 13.99$/month. it comes at $11.19/month for quarterly and $7.49/month for an annual subscription with 40$ off.
  • On the other hand,  Grammarly offers a Premium subscription for $30/month for a monthly plan  $20/month for quarterly, and $12/month for an annual subscription.

For companies with three or more employees, the Business plan costs $12.50/month for each member of your team. 

Ginger Wins Here

Ginger vs Grammarly – Pros and Cons


Grammarly Pros

  • Offers  free version
  • All-in-one tool (grammar checker + spell checker + punctuation checker)
  • Allows you to edit a document without affecting the formatting.
  • Style checker (paid version)

  • Active and passive voice checker
  • Personal dictionary 
  • Plagiarism checker (paid version)
  • Available on all major devices and platforms
  • Free mobile apps 
  • User-friendly interface
  • Browser extensions and MS word add-ons
  • Can upload and download documents


Grammarly Cons

  • Supports only English 
  • Customer support only via email
  • Limits to 150,000 words
  • Subscription plans can be a bit pricey 
  • Doesn’t offer a free trial
  • No refund policy

Ginger Pros

  • Offers free version
  • All-in-one tool (grammar checker + spell checker + punctuation checker)
  • Affordable Subscription plans (Additionals discounts are available)
  • Active and passive voice changer
  • Translates documents in 40+ languages 
  • Personal dictionary
  • Browser extension available 
  •  Personal trainers help clients develop their knowledge of grammar.
  • Text-to-speech feature reads work out loud
  • Get a full refund within 7 days


Ginger Cons

  • Mobile apps aren't free
  • Limited monthly corrections for free users
  • No style checker
  • No plagiarism checker
  • Not as user-friendly as Grammarly
  • You are unable to upload or download documents; however, you may copy and paste files as needed.
  • Doesn't offer a free trial


Summarizing the Ginger VS Grammarly: My Recommendation

While both writing assistants are fantastic in their ways, you need to choose the one you want. 

For example, go for Grammarly if you want a plagiarism tool included. 

Choose Ginger if you want to write in languages other than English. I will to the differences for you in order to make the distinctions clearer.

  • Grammarly offers a plagiarism checking tool
  • Ginger provides text to speech tool
  • Grammarly helps you check uploaded documents
  • Ginger supports over 40 languages
  • Grammarly has a more friendly UI/UX
Both Ginger and Grammarly are awesome writing tools, without a doubt. Depending on your needs, you might want to use Ginger over Grammarly. As per my experience, I found Grammarly easier to use than Ginger.

Which one you like let me know in the comments section also give your opinions in the comments section below.


Match ID: 197 Score: 3.57 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 290 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

How AI Will Change Chip Design
Tue, 08 Feb 2022 14:00:01 +0000