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What Could Keep Climate Change From Becoming Catastrophic?
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 11:00:00 +0000
WIRED’s editor in chief weighs the merits and detriments of carbon capture and storage, plus more thoughts on this month’s headlines.
Match ID: 0 Score: 30.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change, 15.00 carbon

Lawmakers in India pass energy conservation bill
Tue, 9 Aug 2022 21:39:33 EDT
The Indian government took another step toward its climate goals by passing a conservation bill through parliament’s lower house, which makes it easier to put a price on carbon emissions and encourages the use of non-fossil fuel sources to generate power across the country
Match ID: 1 Score: 15.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

Trillions of dollars at risk because central banks’ climate models not up to scratch
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 17:30:30 GMT

Climate research finds modelling used cannot predict localised extreme weather, leading to poor estimations of risk

Trillions of dollars may be misallocated to deal with the wrong climate threats around the world because the models used by central banks and regulators aren’t fit for purpose, a leading Australian climate researcher says.

Prof Andy Pitman, director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, said regulators were relying on models that are good at forecasting how average climates will change as the planet warms, but were less likely to be of use for predicting how extreme weather will imperil individual localities such as cities.

The concerns, detailed in a report in the journal Environmental Research: Climate, were underscored by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s release on Monday of its corporate plan 2022-23. Apra plans to “continue to ensure regulated institutions are well-prepared for the risks and opportunities presented by climate change”.

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Match ID: 2 Score: 15.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

Humanity's Biggest Problems Require a Whole New Media Mode
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 12:00:00 +0000
In this era of climate change and crisis, it's time for formats as varied, animal, and leafy as the world they seek to represent.
Match ID: 3 Score: 15.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

This Laser-Firing Truck Could Help Make Hot Cities More Livable
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 11:00:00 +0000
Scientists are driving around in a specialized observatory to better understand how urban heat varies not only block to block, but door to door.
Match ID: 4 Score: 15.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

The Democrats Finally Deliver
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 00:10:41 +0000
The Senate’s passage of a sweeping, if imperfect, climate-change-and-health-care bill is a landmark moment in U.S. policymaking.
Match ID: 5 Score: 15.00 source: www.newyorker.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

It’s possible no electric vehicles will qualify for the new tax credit
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 22:11:19 +0000
There is no grace period, so credits effectively end once the bill is signed.
Match ID: 6 Score: 15.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

US Senate passes sweeping climate, tax and healthcare package
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 22:02:37 GMT
The bill seeks to lower the cost of medicines, increase corporate taxes and reduce carbon emissions.
Match ID: 7 Score: 15.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

New EV Prototype Leaves Range Anxiety in the Dust
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 16:13:15 +0000


Not long ago, a 300-mile range seemed like a healthy target for electric cars. More recently, the 520-mile (837-kilometer) Lucid Air became the world’s longest-range EV. But that record may not stand for long.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, and its showroom-bound tech, looks to banish range anxiety for good: In April, the sleek prototype sedan completed a 621-mile (1,000-km) trek through the Alps from Mercedes’s Sindelfingen facility to the Côte d’Azur in Cassis, France, with battery juice to spare. It built on that feat in late May, when the prototype covered a world-beating, bladder-busting 747 miles (1,202 km) in a run from Germany to the Formula One circuit in Silverstone, England.

This wasn’t your usual long-distance, college-engineering project, a single-seat death trap made from Kleenex and balsa wood, with no amenities or hope of being certified for use on public roads. Despite modest power, a futuristic teardrop shape, and next-gen tech, the EQXX—developed in just 18 months—is otherwise a familiar, small Mercedes luxury sedan. That includes a dramatic sci-fi display and human-machine interface that spans the full dashboard. To underline real-world intent, Mercedes vows that the EQXX’s power train will reach showrooms by 2024. An initial showroom model, and surely more to come, will be built on the company’s new Mercedes Modular Architecture platform, designed for smaller “entry-luxury” models such as the A-Class and the CLA Coupe. While Mercedes was refining its one-off tech showpiece, it even used a current EQB model as a test mule for the power train.

“The car is an R&D project, but we’re feeding it into the development of our next compact car platform,” says Conrad Sagert, an engineer at Mercedes who is developing electric drive systems.

The engineering team included specialists with the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team, drawing from their well of electric racing experience. Developed in just 18 months, the rear-drive Vision EQXX is powered by a single radial-flux electric motor—developed entirely in-house—fed by a battery pack with just under 100 kilowatt-hours of usable energy. Inside, environmentally conscious materials include trim panels sourced from cacti, mushroom-based seat inserts and bamboo-fiber shag floor mats, all previewing potential use in showroom cars. One thing that won’t reach production by 2024 is the EQXX’s high-silicon battery anode, which Sagert says is closer to four years from showrooms. Such silicon-rich anodes, which can squeeze more range from batteries, are widely expected to be popularized over the next decade.

A 241-horsepower output delivers a reasonable 7-second trip from 0 to 60 miles per hour. But from a feathery (for an electric vehicle) 3,900-pound curb weight to wind-cheating aerodynamics, the carbon-fiber-bodied EQXX is designed for pure efficiency, not winning stoplight races. The Benz sipped electrons at 8.7 miles per kilowatt-hour on its Côte d'Azur run, nearly double the roughly 4.5 kWh of the Lucid (the current high for global EVs) and 7.5 miles per kilowatt-hour on the trip to the United Kingdom. If that electric math still seems esoteric, the England-bound Benz delivered the equivalent of 262 miles per gallon, nearly double the 141 mpg of the industry-leading Tesla Model 3 Standard Range.

A roof panel with 117 solar cells lessens the burden by powering a conventional 12-volt system to run accessories, including lighting, an audio system, and the display screens worthy of Minority Report. On the cloudy April trip to southern France, with plenty of tunnel passages, the panels saved 13 km of range. On the sunnier May drive to the U.K., the solar roof saved 43 km of range.

Roof of a car with solar panels with a beach in the background. The Vision EQXX’s roof panel has 117 solar cells.Mercedes-Benz

Aerodynamics naturally play an essential role, including a tiny frontal area and dramatic Kamm tail whose active rear diffuser extends nearly 8 inches at speeds above 23 mph. The sidewalls of specially designed Bridgestone tires sit flush with the body and 20-inch magnesium wheels, aiding a claimed drag coefficient of 0.17, which exceeds any current production car. Surprisingly for such a slippery design, the EQXX features traditional yet aerodynamic exterior mirrors: Mercedes says the camera-based “mirrors” used on many concept cars drew too much electricity to generate a tangible benefit.

Defying today’s EV norms, the battery and motor are entirely air cooled. Eliminating liquid-cooling circuits, pumps, and fluids set off a spiral of savings in weight and packaging. To cool the battery, a smoothly shaped underbody acts as a heat sink. The design reversed the usual engineering challenge in EVs and internal combustion engine cars alike: The problem was getting heat into the system to bring battery and motor to optimal operating temperature. Active front shutters can open to boost airflow when necessary.

“We don’t get enough waste heat, so we had to insulate the electric motor. It’s still about heat management, but the other way around,” Sagert says.

Add it up and the EQXX transfers a claimed 95 percent of electric energy into forward motion, up from 90 percent for Mercedes’s current models such as the EQS. If that doesn’t sound like much gain to nonengineers, Sagert puts it another way: The EQXX reduces typical EV energy losses by 50 percent.

“We’re always hoping for this magical thing, but it’s really the sum of the details,” Sagert says.

That obsession with tiny details paid off. Based on computer and dynamometer simulations, engineers saw a 1,000-km run as a challenging target, and plotted a Mediterranean road trip to Cassis, France. Instead, the car blew away those conservative projections. Pulling into Cassis, the EQXX had 140 km of remaining range.

“We thought about waving and just driving on, but we weren’t allowed,” Sagert says, not least because Mercedes board member and chief technology officer Markus Schäfer was waiting to greet them. Mercedes then set its sights higher, and chose Silverstone and its Formula One track, ideal for a team meetup.

“We started thinking, can we do a longer run?” Sagert says. “We always wished to visit our colleagues in Formula E, who did so much for the project. But again we thought, ‘This will be really tough.’ ”

To make the runs legit, Mercedes was determined to drive at real-world speeds and conditions, not “hypermile” their way to some illusory record. The car averaged 83 kilometers per hour on its U.K. run, and 87 km/h to Cassis. Test drivers even ran the air conditioning for 8 hours of the two-day, 14 hour-and-30-minute trip to Silverstone, and encountered an autobahn road closure and snarled traffic around London.

The sleek sedan capped off the record-breaking trek with an energy-guzzling flourish: Despite some misgivings, the team handed their precious prototype to a Formula E team driver, Nyck de Vries. The Type-A racer forgot all about efficiency and pushed the car to its limits on the Silverstone F1 circuit, watched by nervous engineers. Where long-distance drivers had relied almost exclusively on regenerative braking (with four adjustable levels) during their runs, de Vries got to test the car’s novel aluminum brake rotors. Those ultralight rotors are possible because the Benz so rarely needs to use its foot-operated mechanical brakes, as telemetry readings from the track showed.

“In three laps, de Vries burned more energy using the mechanical brakes than we did on two entire runs” through Europe, Sagert says. “But it was a good feeling, that this wasn’t some show car, and that you could give it to a race driver and not have it fall apart.”

Some of this prototype tech won’t be feasible on coming production models—a carbon-fiber body, for one, is the stuff of supercars, not small-and-affordable Mercedes. Still, the EQXX offers a tantalizing taste of what’s to come, including all-day range to savor.

“This range anxiety is not a problem anymore,” Sagert says. “If your range isn’t enough today, wait two years, and the step will be big.”


Match ID: 8 Score: 15.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

How Clean Is ‘Clean’ Hydrogen?
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 11:00:00 +0000
Batteries and renewable energy alone can’t decarbonize industries, and recent proposals for a “hydrogen economy” could bridge those gaps.
Match ID: 9 Score: 15.00 source: www.wired.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

Extreme Heat Is Becoming More Dangerous for Farmworkers
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 12:00:00 +0000
Sweltering temperatures and humidity threaten the health of outdoor laborers, and there are few standards to protect them from working when it’s too hot.
Match ID: 10 Score: 12.86 source: www.wired.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 12.86 climate change

Solar-to-Jet-Fuel System Readies for Takeoff
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 17:00:00 +0000


As climate change edges from crisis to emergency, the aviation sector looks set to miss its 2050 goal of net-zero emissions. In the five years preceding the pandemic, the top four U.S. airlines—American, Delta, Southwest, and United—saw a 15 percent increase in the use of jet fuel. Despite continual improvements in engine efficiencies, that number is projected to keep rising.

A glimmer of hope, however, comes from solar fuels. For the first time, scientists and engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have reported a successful demonstration of an integrated fuel-production plant for solar kerosene. Using concentrated solar energy, they were able to produce kerosene from water vapor and carbon dioxide directly from air. Fuel thus produced is a drop-in alternative to fossil-derived fuels and can be used with existing storage and distribution infrastructures, and engines.

Fuels derived from synthesis gas (or syngas)—an intermediate product that is a specific mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen—is a known alternative to conventional, fossil-derived fuels. Syngas is produced by Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis, in which chemical reactions convert carbon monoxide and water vapor into hydrocarbons. The team of researchers at ETH found that a solar-driven thermochemical method to split water and carbon dioxide using a metal oxide redox cycle can produce renewable syngas. They demonstrated the process in a rooftop solar refinery at the ETH Machine Laboratory in 2019.

Close-up of a spongy looking material Reticulated porous structure made of ceria used in the solar reactor to thermochemically split CO2 and H2O and produce syngas, a specific mixture of H2 and CO.ETH Zurich

The current pilot-scale solar tower plant was set up at the IMDEA Energy Institute in Spain. It scales up the solar reactor of the 2019 experiment by a factor of 10, says Aldo Steinfeld, an engineering professor at ETH who led the study. The fuel plant brings together three subsystems—the solar tower concentrating facility, solar reactor, and gas-to-liquid unit.

First, a heliostat field made of mirrors that rotate to follow the sun concentrates solar irradiation into a reactor mounted on top of the tower. The reactor is a cavity receiver lined with reticulated porous ceramic structures made of ceria (or cerium(IV) oxide). Within the reactor, the concentrated sunlight creates a high-temperature environment of about 1,500 °C which is hot enough to split captured carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere to produce syngas. Finally, the syngas is processed to kerosene in the gas-to-liquid unit. A centralized control room operates the whole system.

Fuel produced using this method closes the fuel carbon cycle as it only produces as much carbon dioxide as has gone into its manufacture. “The present pilot fuel plant is still a demonstration facility for research purposes,” says Steinfeld, “but it is a fully integrated plant and uses a solar-tower configuration at a scale that is relevant for industrial implementation.”

“The solar reactor produced syngas with selectivity, purity, and quality suitable for FT synthesis,” the authors noted in their paper. They also reported good material stability for multiple consecutive cycles. They observed a value of 4.1 percent solar-to-syngas energy efficiency, which Steinfeld says is a record value for thermochemical fuel production, even though better efficiencies are required to make the technology economically competitive.

Schematic of the solar tower fuel plant.  A heliostat field concentrates solar radiation onto a solar reactor mounted on top of the solar tower. The solar reactor cosplits water and carbon dioxide and produces a mixture of molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which in turn is processed to drop-in fuels such as kerosene.ETH Zurich

“The measured value of energy conversion efficiency was obtained without any implementation of heat recovery,” he says. The heat rejected during the redox cycle of the reactor accounted for more than 50 percent of the solar-energy input. “This fraction can be partially recovered via thermocline heat storage. Thermodynamic analyses indicate that sensible heat recovery could potentially boost the energy efficiency to values exceeding 20 percent.”

To do so, more work is needed to optimize the ceramic structures lining the reactor, something the ETH team is actively working on, by looking at 3D-printed structures for improved volumetric radiative absorption. “In addition, alternative material compositions, that is, perovskites or aluminates, may yield improved redox capacity, and consequently higher specific fuel output per mass of redox material,” Steinfeld adds.

The next challenge for the researchers, he says, is the scale-up of their technology for higher solar-radiative power inputs, possibly using an array of solar cavity-receiver modules on top of the solar tower.

To bring solar kerosene into the market, Steinfeld envisages a quota-based system. “Airlines and airports would be required to have a minimum share of sustainable aviation fuels in the total volume of jet fuel that they put in their aircraft,” he says. This is possible as solar kerosene can be mixed with fossil-based kerosene. This would start out small, as little as 1 or 2 percent, which would raise the total fuel costs at first, though minimally—adding “only a few euros to the cost of a typical flight,” as Steinfeld puts it

Meanwhile, rising quotas would lead to investment, and to falling costs, eventually replacing fossil-derived kerosene with solar kerosene. “By the time solar jet fuel reaches 10 to 15 percent of the total jet-fuel volume, we ought to see the costs for solar kerosene nearing those of fossil-derived kerosene,” he adds.

However, we may not have to wait too long for flights to operate solely on solar fuel. A commercial spin-off of Steinfeld’s laboratory, Synhelion, is working on commissioning the first industrial-scale solar fuel plant in 2023. The company has also collaborated with the airline SWISS to conduct a flight solely using its solar kerosene.


Match ID: 11 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 6.43 climate change, 6.43 carbon

Massive Quantities of PFAS Waste Go Unreported to EPA
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 11:00:21 +0000

US Ecology failed to report more than 11 million pounds of PFAS-contaminated waste at its facility in Beatty, Nevada.

The post Massive Quantities of PFAS Waste Go Unreported to EPA appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 12 Score: 10.71 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 10.71 toxic

Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Goal Is a Beacon for Other States
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 18:14:33 +0000


Early in July, Rhode Island’s governor signed legislation mandating that the state acquire 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2033. Among the state’s American peers, there’s no deadline more ambitious.

“Anything more ambitious, and I would start being a little skeptical that it would be attainable,” says Seaver Wang, a climate and energy researcher at the Breakthrough Institute.

It is true that Rhode Island is small. It is also true that the state’s conditions make it riper for such a timeframe than most of the country. But watching this tiny state go about its policy business, analysts say, might show other states how to light their own ways into a renewable future.

Rhode Island’s 2033 deadline comes in the form of a renewable-energy standard, setting a goal that electricity providers must meet by collecting a certain number of certificates. Electricity providers can earn those certificates by generating electricity from renewable sources themselves; alternatively, they can buy certificates from other providers. (Numerous other states have similar standards—Rhode Island’s current standard is actually an upgrade to an older standard—and policy wonks have mooted a national standard.)

Today, it might seem a bit optimistic to pin hopes for renewable energy on a state that still gets 89 percent of its electricity from natural gas. Much of the meager wind power that does exist comes either from other states or from the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm—the first offshore wind farm in the United States—which consists of just five turbines and only came online in 2016.

But Rhode Island plans to fill the gap with as much as 600 megawatts of new wind power. To aid this effort, it has partnered with Ørsted, which could bring a critical mass of turbine expertise from Europe, where the sector is far more advanced. “I think that adds greatly to the likelihood of [Rhode Island’s] success,” says Morgan Higman, a clean-energy researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, D.C.

The policies in the package are, indeed, quite specific to Rhode Island’s position. Not only is it one of the least populous states in the United States, it already has about the lowest per capita energy consumption in the country. Moreover, powering a service-oriented economy, Rhode Island’s grid doesn’t have to accommodate many energy-intensive manufacturing firms. That makes that 2033 goal all the more achievable.

“It’s better to have attainable goals and focus on a diverse portfolio of policies to promote clean energy advancement, rather than sort of rush to meet what is essentially…a bit of a PR goal,” says Wang.

That Rhode Island is going all-in on something this maritime state might have in abundance—offshore wind—offers another lesson. Higman says it’s a good example of using a state’s own potential resources. Moreover, the partnership with Ørsted might help the state harness helpful expertise.

In similar fashion, Texans could choose to double down on that state’s own wind-power portfolio. New Mexico could potentially shape a renewable-energy supply from its bountiful sunlight. Doing this sort of thing, Higman says, “is the fastest way that we see states accelerate renewable-energy deployment.”

Rhode Island’s policy does leave some room for improvement. Its focus on renewables looks past New England’s largest source of carbon-free energy: fission. Just two nuclear power plants (Millstone in Connecticut and Seabrook in New Hampshire) pump out more than a fifth of the region’s electricity. A more inclusive policy might take note and incentivize nuclear power, too.

Perhaps most important, any discussion of energy policy should note that Rhode Island’s grid doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s linked in with the grids of its surrounding states in New England, New York, and beyond. (Indeed, it has repeatedly partnered on setting goals and building new offshore wind power.)

If neighboring states implement similarly aggressive standards without actually building new energy capacity, then there’s a chance that when all the renewable energy certificates are bought out, some states won’t have any renewable energy left.

But analysts are optimistic that Rhode Island can do the job. “Rhode Island does deserve some kudos for this policy,” says Wang.

“It’s really tempting to applaud states for their goals. This is a useful example of where setting a goal is not very meaningful,” adds Higman. “Identifying the means and strategies and technologies to achieve that goal is the most important thing. And Rhode Island has done that.”


Match ID: 13 Score: 8.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 carbon

Satellite Imagery for Everyone
Sat, 19 Feb 2022 16:00:00 +0000


Every day, satellites circling overhead capture trillions of pixels of high-resolution imagery of the surface below. In the past, this kind of information was mostly reserved for specialists in government or the military. But these days, almost anyone can use it.

That’s because the cost of sending payloads, including imaging satellites, into orbit has dropped drastically. High-resolution satellite images, which used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, now can be had for the price of a cup of coffee.

What’s more, with the recent advances in artificial intelligence, companies can more easily extract the information they need from huge digital data sets, including ones composed of satellite images. Using such images to make business decisions on the fly might seem like science fiction, but it is already happening within some industries.


This image shows are variety of blue and green hues, interwoven in a geometrically intriguing way.

These underwater sand dunes adorn the seafloor between Andros Island and the Exuma islands in the Bahamas. The turquoise to the right reflects a shallow carbonate bank, while the dark blue to the left marks the edge of a local deep called Tongue of the Ocean. This image was captured in April 2020 using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory


Here’s a brief overview of how you, too, can access this kind of information and use it to your advantage. But before you’ll be able to do that effectively, you need to learn a little about how modern satellite imagery works.

The orbits of Earth-observation satellites generally fall into one of two categories: GEO and LEO. The former is shorthand for geosynchronous equatorial orbit. GEO satellites are positioned roughly 36,000 kilometers above the equator, where they circle in sync with Earth’s rotation. Viewed from the ground, these satellites appear to be stationary, in the sense that their bearing and elevation remain constant. That’s why GEO is said to be a geostationary orbit.

Such orbits are, of course, great for communications relays—it’s what allows people to mount satellite-TV dishes on their houses in a fixed orientation. But GEO satellites are also appropriate when you want to monitor some region of Earth by capturing images over time. Because the satellites are so high up, the resolution of that imagery is quite coarse, however. So these orbits are primarily used for observation satellites designed to track changing weather conditions over broad areas.

Being stationary with respect to Earth means that GEO satellites are always within range of a downlink station, so they can send data back to Earth in minutes. This allows them to alert people to changes in weather patterns almost in real time. Most of this kind of data is made available for free by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.


This black-and-white image shows a narrow waterway blocked by a large ship. The resolution of the image is sufficient to make out individual shipping containers on its deck, as well as the tugboats arrayed around it.

In March 2021, the container ship Ever Given ran aground, blocking the Suez Canal for six days. This satellite image of the scene, obtained using synthetic-aperture radar, shows the kind resolution that is possible with this technology.

Capella Space


The other option is LEO, which stands for low Earth orbit. Satellites placed in LEO are much closer to the ground, which allows them to obtain higher-resolution images. And the lower you can go, the better the resolution you can get. The company Planet, for example, increased the resolution of its recently completed satellite constellation, SkySat, from 72 centimeters per pixel to just 50 cm—an incredible feat—by lowering the orbits its satellites follow from 500 to 450 km and improving the image processing.

The best commercially available spatial resolution for optical imagery is 25 cm, which means that one pixel represents a 25-by-25-cm area on the ground—roughly the size of your laptop. A handful of companies capture data with 25-cm to 1-meter resolution, which is considered high to very high resolution in this industry. Some of these companies also offer data from 1- to 5-meter resolution, considered medium to high resolution. Finally, several government programs have made optical data available at 10-, 15-, 30-, and 250-meter resolutions for free with open data programs. These include NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat, NASA MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), and ESA Copernicus. This imagery is considered low resolution.

Because the satellites that provide the highest-resolution images are in the lowest orbits, they sense less area at once. To cover the entire planet, a satellite can be placed in a polar orbit, which takes it from pole to pole. As it travels, Earth rotates under it, so on its next pass, it will be above a different part of Earth.

Many of these satellites don’t pass directly over the poles, though. Instead, they are placed in a near-polar orbit that has been specially designed to take advantage of a subtle bit of physics. You see, the spinning Earth bulges outward slightly at the equator. That extra mass causes the orbits of satellites that are not in polar orbits to shift or (technically speaking) to precess. Satellite operators often take advantage of this phenomenon to put a satellite in what’s called a sun-synchronous orbit. Such orbits allow the repeated passes of the satellite over a given spot to take place at the same time of day. Not having the pattern of shadows shift between passes helps the people using these images to detect changes.




It usually takes 24 hours for a satellite in polar orbit to survey the entire surface of Earth. To image the whole world more frequently, satellite companies use multiple satellites, all equipped with the same sensor and following different orbits. In this way, these companies can provide more frequently updated images of a given location. For example, Maxar’s Worldview Legion constellation, launching later this year, includes six satellites.

After a satellite captures some number of images, all that data needs to be sent down to Earth and processed. The time required for that varies.

DigitalGlobe (which Maxar acquired in 2017) recently announced that it had managed to send data from a satellite down to a ground station and then store it in the cloud in less than a minute. That was possible because the image sent back was of the parking lot of the ground station, so the satellite didn’t have to travel between the collection point and where it had to be to do the data “dumping,” as this process is called.

In general, Earth-observation satellites in LEO don’t capture imagery all the time—they do that only when they are above an area of special interest. That’s because these satellites are limited to how much data they can send at one time. Typically, they can transmit data for only 10 minutes or so before they get out of range of a ground station. And they cannot record more data than they’ll have time to dump.

Currently, ground stations are located mostly near the poles, the most visited areas in polar orbits. But we can soon expect distances to the nearest ground station to shorten because both Amazon and Microsoft have announced intentions to build large networks of ground stations located all over the world. As it turns out, hosting the terabytes of satellite data that are collected daily is big business for these companies, which sell their cloud services (Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure) to satellite operators.

For now, if you are looking for imagery of an area far from a ground station, expect a significant delay—maybe hours—between capture and transmission of the data. The data will then have to be processed, which adds yet more time. The fastest providers currently make their data available within 48 hours of capture, but not all can manage that. While it is possible, under ideal weather conditions, for a commercial entity to request a new capture and get the data it needs delivered the same week, such quick turnaround times are still considered cutting edge.


The best commercially available spatial resolution is 25 centimeters for optical imagery, which means that one pixel represents something roughly the size of your laptop.


I’ve been using the word “imagery,” but it’s important to note that satellites do not capture images the same way ordinary cameras do. The optical sensors in satellites are calibrated to measure reflectance over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. This could mean they record how much red, green, and blue light is reflected from different parts of the ground. The satellite operator will then apply a variety of adjustments to correct colors, combine adjacent images, and account for parallax, forming what’s called a true-color composite image, which looks pretty much like what you would expect to get from a good camera floating high in the sky and pointed directly down.

Imaging satellites can also capture data outside of the visible-light spectrum. The near-infrared band is widely used in agriculture, for example, because these images help farmers gauge the health of their crops. This band can also be used to detect soil moisture and a variety of other ground features that would otherwise be hard to determine.

Longer-wavelength “thermal” IR does a good job of penetrating smoke and picking up heat sources, making it useful for wildfire monitoring. And synthetic-aperture radar satellites, which I discuss in greater detail below, are becoming more common because the images they produce aren’t affected by clouds and don’t require the sun for illumination.

You might wonder whether aerial imagery, say, from a drone, wouldn’t work at least as well as satellite data. Sometimes it can. But for many situations, using satellites is the better strategy. Satellites can capture imagery over areas that would be difficult to access otherwise because of their remoteness, for example. Or there could be other sorts of accessibility issues: The area of interest could be in a conflict zone, on private land, or in another place that planes or drones cannot overfly.

So with satellites, organizations can easily monitor the changes taking place at various far-flung locations. Satellite imagery allows pipeline operators, for instance, to quickly identify incursions into their right-of-way zones. The company can then take steps to prevent a disastrous incident, such as someone puncturing a gas pipeline while construction is taking place nearby.


\u200bThis satellite image shows a snow-covered area. A tongue of darker material is draped over the side of a slope, impinging on a nearby developed area with buildings.

This SkySat image shows the effect of a devastating landslide that took place on 30 December 2020. Debris from that landslide destroyed buildings and killed 10 people in the Norwegian village of Ask.

SkySat/Planet



The ability to compare archived imagery with recently acquired data has helped a variety of industries. For example, insurance companies sometimes use satellite data to detect fraudulent claims (“Looks like your house had a damaged roof when you bought it…”). And financial-investment firms use satellite imagery to evaluate such things as retailers’ future profits based on parking-lot fullness or to predict crop prices before farmers report their yields for the season.

Satellite imagery provides a particularly useful way to find or monitor the location of undisclosed features or activities. Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama, for example, uses satellite imagery to locate archaeological sites of interest. 52Impact, a consulting company in the Netherlands, identified undisclosed waste dump sites by training an algorithm to recognize their telltale spectral signature. Satellite imagery has also helped identify illegal fishing activities, fight human trafficking, monitor oil spills, get accurate reporting on COVID-19 deaths, and even investigate Uyghur internment camps in China—all situations where the primary actors couldn’t be trusted to accurately report what’s going on.

Despite these many successes, investigative reporters and nongovernmental organizations aren’t yet using satellite data regularly, perhaps because even the small cost of the imagery is a deterrent. Thankfully, some kinds of low-resolution satellite data can be had for free.

The first place to look for free satellite imagery is the Copernicus Open Access Hub and EarthExplorer. Both offer free access to a wide range of open data. The imagery is lower resolution than what you can purchase, but if the limited resolution meets your needs, why spend money?

If you require medium- or high-resolution data, you might be able to buy it directly from the relevant satellite operator. This field recently went through a period of mergers and acquisitions, leaving only a handful of providers, the big three in the West being Maxar and Planet in the United States and Airbus in Germany. There are also a few large Asian providers, such as SI Imaging Services in South Korea and Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology in Singapore. Most providers have a commercial branch, but they primarily target government buyers. And they often require large minimum purchases, which is unhelpful to companies looking to monitor hundreds of locations or fewer.

Expect the distance to the nearest ground station to shorten because both Amazon and Microsoft have announced intentions to build large networks of ground stations located all over the world.

Fortunately, approaching a satellite operator isn’t the only option. In the past five years, a cottage industry of consultants and local resellers with exclusive deals to service a certain market has sprung up. Aggregators and resellers spend years negotiating contracts with multiple providers so they can offer customers access to data sets at more attractive prices, sometimes for as little as a few dollars per image. Some companies providing geographic information systems—including Esri, L3Harris, and Safe Software—have also negotiated reselling agreements with satellite-image providers.

Traditional resellers are middlemen who will connect you with a salesperson to discuss your needs, obtain quotes from providers on your behalf, and negotiate pricing and priority schedules for image capture and sometimes also for the processing of the data. This is the case for Apollo Mapping, European Space Imaging, Geocento, LandInfo, Satellite Imaging Corp., and many more. The more innovative resellers will give you access to digital platforms where you can check whether an image you need is available from a certain archive and then order it. Examples include LandViewer from EOS and Image Hunter from Apollo Mapping.

More recently, a new crop of aggregators began offering customers the ability to programmatically access Earth-observation data sets. These companies work best for people looking to integrate such data into their own applications or workflows. These include the company I work for, SkyWatch, which provides such a service, called EarthCache. Other examples are UP42 from Airbus and Sentinel Hub from Sinergise.

While you will still need to talk with a sales rep to activate your account—most often to verify you will use the data in ways that fits the company’s terms of service and licensing agreements—once you’ve been granted access to their applications, you will be able to programmatically order archive data from one or multiple providers. SkyWatch is, however, the only aggregator allowing users to programmatically request future data to be collected (“tasking a satellite”).

While satellite imagery is fantastically abundant and easy to access today, two changes are afoot that will expand further what you can do with satellite data: faster revisits and greater use of synthetic-aperture radar (SAR).

This image shows a sprawling compound of dozens of large buildings located in a desert area.

This image shows a race-track shaped structure with a tall chimney in the middle, built in an area where the ground is a distinctly reddish hue. Satellite images have helped to reveal China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority. About a million Uyghurs (and other ethnic minorities) have been interned in prisons or camps like the one shown here [top], which lies to the east of the city of Ürümqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Another satellite image [bottom] shows the characteristic oval shape of a fixed-chimney Bull’s trench kiln, a type widely used for manufacturing bricks in southern Asia. This one is located in Pakistan’s Punjab province. This design poses environmental concerns because of the sooty air pollution it generates, and such kilns have also been associated with human-rights abuses.Top: CNES/Airbus/Google Earth; Bottom: Maxar Technologies/Google Earth

The first of these developments is not surprising. As more Earth-observation satellites are put into orbit, more images will be taken, more often. So how frequently a given area is imaged by a satellite will increase. Right now, that’s typically two or three times a week. Expect the revisit rate soon to become several times a day. This won’t entirely address the challenge of clouds obscuring what you want to view, but it will help.

The second development is more subtle. Data from the two satellites of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 SAR mission, available at no cost, has enabled companies to dabble in SAR over the last few years.

With SAR, the satellite beams radio waves down and measures the return signals bouncing off the surface. It does that continually, and clever processing is used to turn that data into images. The use of radio allows these satellites to see through clouds and to collect measurements day and night. Depending on the radar band that’s employed, SAR imagery can be used to judge material properties, moisture content, precise movements, and elevation.

As more companies get familiar with such data sets, there will no doubt be a growing demand for satellite SAR imagery, which has been widely used by the military since the 1970s. But it’s just now starting to appear in commercial products. You can expect those offerings to grow dramatically, though.

Indeed, a large portion of the money being invested in this industry is currently going to fund large SAR constellations, including those of Capella Space, Iceye, Synspective, XpressSAR, and others. The market is going to get crowded fast, which is great news for customers. It means they will be able to obtain high-resolution SAR images of the place they’re interested in, taken every hour (or less), day or night, cloudy or clear.

People will no doubt figure out wonderful new ways to employ this information, so the more folks who have access to it, the better. This is something my colleagues at SkyWatch and I deeply believe, and it’s why we’ve made it our mission to help democratize access to satellite imagery.

One day in the not-so-distant future, Earth-observation satellite data might become as ubiquitous as GPS, another satellite technology first used only by the military. Imagine, for example, being able to take out your phone and say something like, “Show me this morning’s soil-moisture map for Grover’s Corners High; I want to see whether the baseball fields are still soggy.”

This article appears in the March 2022 print issue as “A Boom with a View.”

Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Maxar's Worldview Legion constellation launched last year.


Match ID: 14 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 171 days
qualifiers: 5.71 air pollution, 2.14 carbon

Climate change: More studies needed on possibility of human extinction
Mon, 01 Aug 2022 19:09:08 GMT
New research says it could be "fatally foolish" not to think the unthinkable on climate change.
Match ID: 15 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 8 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

UK's 40C heatwave 'basically impossible' without climate change
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 03:51:01 GMT
Human-caused climate change made the high temperatures last week much more likely, say scientists.
Match ID: 16 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 11 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Climate change: UK sea level rise speeding up - Met Office
Thu, 28 Jul 2022 09:16:40 GMT
The Met Office's annual look at our climate says higher temperatures are the new normal.
Match ID: 17 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 12 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

The art of cutting carbon - how new technologies can help
Tue, 26 Jul 2022 23:09:05 GMT
With the 'de-printer' specially coated sheets of paper can be used 10 times over.
Match ID: 18 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 14 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Climate change: How to talk to a denier
Sat, 23 Jul 2022 23:14:38 GMT
Tips about how to engage with people who think climate change is a "hoax".
Match ID: 19 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 17 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

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 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 Alastair 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.


Correction 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.


Match ID: 20 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 34 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

City heat extremes
Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:30:00 +0200
Land-surface temperature in Milan on 18 June 2022

With air temperatures in excess of 10°C above the average for the time of year in parts of Europe, the United States and Asia, June 2022 has gone down as a record breaker. The fear is that these extreme early-season heatwaves are a taste of what could soon be the norm as climate change continues to take hold. For those in cities, the heat dissipates slower creating ‘urban heat islands’, which make everyday life even more of a struggle.

An instrument, carried on the International Space Station, has captured the recent land-surface temperature extremes for some European cities, including Milan, Paris and Prague.


Match ID: 21 Score: 2.14 source: www.esa.int age: 34 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

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: 22 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 41 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

NASA, FEMA Release Comprehensive Climate Action Guide
Wed, 08 Jun 2022 12:37 EDT
NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have released a guide which provides resources for adapting to and mitigating impacts of climate change.
Match ID: 23 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 62 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Why is climate 'doomism' going viral – and who's fighting it?
Sun, 22 May 2022 23:16:59 GMT
Climate "doomers" believe it’s far too late to do anything about climate change - but they're wrong.
Match ID: 24 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 79 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

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: 25 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 112 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

Ahrefs vs SEMrush: Which SEO Tool Should You Use?
Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:16:00 +0000
semrush vs ahrefs


SEMrush and Ahrefs are among the most popular tools in the SEO industry. Both companies have been in business for years and have thousands of customers per month.

If you're a professional SEO or trying to do digital marketing on your own, at some point you'll likely consider using a tool to help with your efforts. Ahrefs and SEMrush are two names that will likely appear on your shortlist.

In this guide, I'm going to help you learn more about these SEO tools and how to choose the one that's best for your purposes.

What is SEMrush?

semrush

SEMrush is a popular SEO tool with a wide range of features—it's the leading competitor research service for online marketers. SEMrush's SEO Keyword Magic tool offers over 20 billion Google-approved keywords, which are constantly updated and it's the largest keyword database.

The program was developed in 2007 as SeoQuake is a small Firefox extension

Features

  • Most accurate keyword data: Accurate keyword search volume data is crucial for SEO and PPC campaigns by allowing you to identify what keywords are most likely to bring in big sales from ad clicks. SEMrush constantly updates its databases and provides the most accurate data.
  • Largest Keyword database: SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool now features 20-billion keywords, providing marketers and SEO professionals the largest database of keywords.

  • All SEMrush users receive daily ranking data, mobile volume information, and the option to buy additional keywords by default with no additional payment or add-ons needed
  • Most accurate position tracking tool: This tool provides all subscribers with basic tracking capabilities, making it suitable for SEO professionals. Plus, the Position Tracking tool provides local-level data to everyone who uses the tool.
  • SEO Data Management: SEMrush makes managing your online data easy by allowing you to create visually appealing custom PDF reports, including Branded and White Label reports, report scheduling, and integration with GA, GMB, and GSC.
  • Toxic link monitoring and penalty recovery: With SEMrush, you can make a detailed analysis of toxic backlinks, toxic scores, toxic markers, and outreach to those sites.
  • Content Optimization and Creation Tools: SEMrush offers content optimization and creation tools that let you create SEO-friendly content. Some features include the SEO Writing Assistant, On-Page SEO Check, er/SEO Content Template, Content Audit, Post Tracking, Brand Monitoring.

Ahrefs

ahrefs


Ahrefs is a leading SEO platform that offers a set of tools to grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and monitor your niche. The company was founded in 2010, and it has become a popular choice among SEO tools. Ahrefs has a keyword index of over 10.3 billion keywords and offers accurate and extensive backlink data updated every 15-30 minutes and it is the world's most extensive backlink index database.

Features

  • Backlink alerts data and new keywords: Get an alert when your site is linked to or discussed in blogs, forums, comments, or when new keywords are added to a blog posting about you.
  • Intuitive interface: The intuitive design of the widget helps you see the overall health of your website and search engine ranking at a glance.
  • Site Explorer: The Site Explorer will give you an in-depth look at your site's search traffic.
  • Domain Comparison
  • Reports with charts and graphs
  • JavaScript rendering and a site audit can identify SEO issues.
  • A question explorer that provides well-crafted topic suggestions

Direct Comparisons: Ahrefs vs SEMrush

Now that you know a little more about each tool, let's take a look at how they compare. I'll analyze each tool to see how they differ in interfaces, keyword research resources, rank tracking, and competitor analysis.

User Interface

Ahrefs and SEMrush both offer comprehensive information and quick metrics regarding your website's SEO performance. However, Ahrefs takes a bit more of a hands-on approach to getting your account fully set up, whereas SEMrush's simpler dashboard can give you access to the data you need quickly.

In this section, we provide a brief overview of the elements found on each dashboard and highlight the ease with which you can complete tasks.

AHREFS

ahrefs interface


The Ahrefs dashboard is less cluttered than that of SEMrush, and its primary menu is at the very top of the page, with a search bar designed only for entering URLs.

Additional features of the Ahrefs platform include:

  • You can see analytics from the dashboard, including search engine rankings to domain ratings, referring domains, and backlink
  • Jumping from one tool to another is easy. You can use the Keyword Explorer to find a keyword to target and then directly track your ranking with one click.
  • The website offers a tooltip helper tool that allows you to hover your mouse over something that isn't clear and get an in-depth explanation.

SEMRUSH

semrush domain overview


When you log into the SEMrush Tool, you will find four main modules. These include information about your domains, organic keyword analysis, ad keyword, and site traffic.

You'll also find some other options like

  • A search bar allows you to enter a domain, keyword, or anything else you wish to explore.
  • A menu on the left side of the page provides quick links to relevant information, including marketing insights, projects, keyword analytics, and more.
  • The customer support resources located directly within the dashboard can be used to communicate with the support team or to learn about other resources such as webinars and blogs.
  • Detailed descriptions of every resource offered. This detail is beneficial for new marketers, who are just starting.

WHO WINS?

Both Ahrefs and SEMrush have user-friendly dashboards, but Ahrefs is less cluttered and easier to navigate. On the other hand, SEMrush offers dozens of extra tools, including access to customer support resources.

When deciding on which dashboard to use, consider what you value in the user interface, and test out both.

Rank Tracking

If you're looking to track your website's search engine ranking, rank tracking features can help. You can also use them to monitor your competitors.

Let's take a look at Ahrefs vs. SEMrush to see which tool does a better job.

Ahrefs

ahrefs rank tracking


The Ahrefs Rank Tracker is simpler to use. Just type in the domain name and keywords you want to analyze, and it spits out a report showing you the search engine results page (SERP) ranking for each keyword you enter.

Rank Tracker looks at the ranking performance of keywords and compares them with the top rankings for those keywords. Ahrefs also offers:

You'll see metrics that help you understand your visibility, traffic, average position, and keyword difficulty.

It gives you an idea of whether a keyword would be profitable to target or not.

SEMRUSH

semrush position tracking


SEMRush offers a tool called Position Tracking. This tool is a project tool—you must set it up as a new project. Below are a few of the most popular features of the SEMrush Position Tracking tool:

All subscribers are given regular data updates and mobile search rankings upon subscribing

The platform provides opportunities to track several SERP features, including Local tracking.

Intuitive reports allow you to track statistics for the pages on your website, as well as the keywords used in those pages.

Identify pages that may be competing with each other using the Cannibalization report.

WHO WINS?

Ahrefs is a more user-friendly option. It takes seconds to enter a domain name and keywords. From there, you can quickly decide whether to proceed with that keyword or figure out how to rank better for other keywords.

SEMrush allows you to check your mobile rankings and ranking updates daily, which is something Ahrefs does not offer. SEMrush also offers social media rankings, a tool you won't find within the Ahrefs platform. Both are good which one do you like let me know in the comment.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is closely related to rank tracking, but it's used for deciding which keywords you plan on using for future content rather than those you use now.

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is the most important thing to consider when comparing the two platforms.

AHREFS



The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer provides you with thousands of keyword ideas and filters search results based on the chosen search engine.

Ahrefs supports several features, including:

  • It can search multiple keywords in a single search and analyze them together. At SEMrush, you also have this feature in Keyword Overview.
  • Ahrefs has a variety of keywords for different search engines, including Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and other search engines.
  • When you click on a keyword, you can see its search volume and keyword difficulty, but also other keywords related to it, which you didn't use.

SEMRUSH



SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool has over 20 billion keywords for Google. You can type in any keyword you want, and a list of suggested keywords will appear.

The Keyword Magic Tool also lets you to:

  • Show performance metrics by keyword
  • Search results are based on both broad and exact keyword matches.
  • Show data like search volume, trends, keyword difficulty, and CPC.
  • Show the first 100 Google search results for any keyword.
  • Identify SERP Features and Questions related to each keyword
  • SEMrush has released a new Keyword Gap Tool that uncovers potentially useful keyword opportunities for you, including both paid and organic keywords.

WHO WINS?

Both of these tools offer keyword research features and allow users to break down complicated tasks into something that can be understood by beginners and advanced users alike.

If you're interested in keyword suggestions, SEMrush appears to have more keyword suggestions than Ahrefs does. It also continues to add new features, like the Keyword Gap tool and SERP Questions recommendations.

Competitor Analysis

Both platforms offer competitor analysis tools, eliminating the need to come up with keywords off the top of your head. Each tool is useful for finding keywords that will be useful for your competition so you know they will be valuable to you.

AHREFS



Ahrefs' domain comparison tool lets you compare up to five websites (your website and four competitors) side-by-side.it also shows you how your site is ranked against others with metrics such as backlinks, domain ratings, and more.

Use the Competing Domains section to see a list of your most direct competitors, and explore how many keywords matches your competitors have.

To find more information about your competitor, you can look at the Site Explorer and Content Explorer tools and type in their URL instead of yours.

SEMRUSH



SEMrush provides a variety of insights into your competitors' marketing tactics. The platform enables you to research your competitors effectively. It also offers several resources for competitor analysis including:

Traffic Analytics helps you identify where your audience comes from, how they engage with your site, what devices visitors use to view your site, and how your audiences overlap with other websites.

SEMrush's Organic Research examines your website's major competitors and shows their organic search rankings, keywords they are ranking for, and even if they are ranking for any (SERP) features and more.

The Market Explorer search field allows you to type in a domain and lists websites or articles similar to what you entered. Market Explorer also allows users to perform in-depth data analytics on These companies and markets.

WHO WINS?

SEMrush wins here because it has more tools dedicated to competitor analysis than Ahrefs. However, Ahrefs offers a lot of functionality in this area, too. It takes a combination of both tools to gain an advantage over your competition.

Pricing

Ahrefs

  • Lite Monthly: $99/month
  • Standard Monthly: $179/month
  • Annually Lite: $990/year
  • Annually Standard: $1790/year

SEMRUSH

  • Pro Plan: $119.95/month
  • Guru Plan:$229.95/month
  • Business Plan: $449.95/month

Which SEO tool should you choose for digital marketing?

When it comes to keyword data research, you will become confused about which one to choose.

Consider choosing Ahrefs if you

  • Like friendly and clean interface
  • Searching for simple keyword suggestions

  • Want to get more keywords for different search engines like Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, and more

 

Consider SEMrush if you:

  • Want more marketing and SEO features
  • Need competitor analysis tool
  • Need to keep your backlinks profile clean
  • Looking for more keyword suggestions for Google

Both tools are great. Choose the one which meets your requirements and if you have any experience using either Ahrefs or SEMrush let me know in the comment section which works well for you.

 

 


Match ID: 26 Score: 2.14 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 161 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

Eviation’s Maiden Flight Could Usher in Electric Aviation Era
Mon, 07 Feb 2022 19:01:19 +0000


The first commercial all-electric passenger plane is just weeks away from its maiden flight, according to its maker Israeli startup Eviation. If successful, the nine-seater Alice aircraft would be the most compelling demonstration yet of the potential for battery-powered flight. But experts say there’s still a long way to go before electric aircraft makes a significant dent in the aviation industry.

The Alice is currently undergoing high-speed taxi tests at Arlington Municipal Airport close to Seattle, says Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay. This involves subjecting all of the plane’s key systems and fail-safe mechanisms to a variety of different scenarios to ensure they are operating as expected before its first flight. The company is five or six good weather days away from completing those tests, says Bar-Yohay, after which the plane should be cleared for takeoff. Initial flights won’t push the aircraft to its limits, but the Alice should ultimately be capable of cruising speeds of 250 knots (463 kilometers per hour) and a maximum range of 440 nautical miles (815 kilometers).

Electric aviation has received considerable attention in recent years as the industry looks to reduce its carbon emissions. And while the Alice won’t be the first all-electric aircraft to take to the skies, Bar-Yohay says it will be the first designed with practical commercial applications in mind. Eviation plans to offer three configurations—a nine-seater commuter model, a six-seater executive model for private jet customers, and a cargo version with a capacity of 12.74 cubic meters. The company has already received advance orders from logistics giant DHL and Massachusetts-based regional airline Cape Air.

“It’s not some sort of proof-of-concept or demonstrator,” says Bar-Yohay. “It’s the first all-electric with a real-life mission, and I think that’s the big differentiator.”

Getting there has required a major engineering effort, says Bar-Yohay, because the requirements for an all-electric plane are very different from those of conventional aircraft. The biggest challenge is weight, thanks to the fact that batteries provide considerably less mileage to the pound compared to energy-dense jet fuels.

That makes slashing the weight of other components a priority and the plane features lightweight composite materials “where no composite has gone before,”’, says Bar-Yohay. The company has also done away with the bulky mechanical systems used to adjust control surfaces on the wings, and replaced them with a much lighter fly-by-wire system that uses electronic actuators controlled via electrical wires.

The company’s engineers have had to deal with a host of other complications too, from having to optimize the aerodynamics to the unique volume and weight requirements dictated by the batteries to integrating brakes designed for much heavier planes. “There is just so much optimization, so many specific things that had to be solved,” says Bar-Yohay. “In some cases, there are just no components out there that do what you need done, which weren’t built for a train, or something like that.”

Despite the huge amount of work that’s gone into it, Bar-Yohay says the Alice will be comparable in price to similar sized turboprop aircraft like the Beechcraft King Air and cheaper than small business jets like the Embraer Phenom 300. And crucially, he adds, the relative simplicity of electrical motors and actuators compared with mechanical control systems and turboprops or jets means maintenance costs will be markedly lower.

Aircraft in the sky with white clouds below it This is a conceptual rendering of Eviation's Alice, the first commercial all-electric passenger plane, in flight.Eviation

Combined with the lower cost of electricity compared to jet fuel, and even accounting for the need to replace batteries every 3,000 flight hours, Eviation expects Alice’s operating costs to be about half those of similar sized aircraft.

But there are question marks over whether the plane has an obvious market, says aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, managing director at AeroDynamic Advisory. It’s been decades since anyone has built a regional commuter with less than 70 seats, he says, and most business jets typically require more than the 440 nautical mile range the Alice offers. Scaling up to bigger aircraft or larger ranges is also largely out of the company’s hands as it will require substantial breakthroughs in battery technology. “You need to move on to a different battery chemistry,” he says. “There isn’t even a 10-year road map to get there.”

An aircraft like the Alice isn’t meant to be a straight swap for today’s short-haul aircraft though, says Lynette Dray, a research fellow at University College London who studies the decarbonization of aviation. More likely it would be used for short intercity hops or for creating entirely new route networks better suited to its capabilities.

This is exactly what Bar-Yohay envisages, with the Alice’s reduced operating costs opening up new short-haul routes that were previously impractical or uneconomical. It could even make it feasible to replace larger jets with several smaller ones, he says, allowing you to provide more granular regional travel by making use of the thousands of runways around the country currently used only for recreational aviation.

The economics are far from certain though, says Dray, and if the ultimate goal is to decarbonize the aviation sector, it’s important to remember that aircraft are long-lived assets. In that respect, sustainable aviation fuels that can be used by existing aircraft are probably a more promising avenue.

Even if the Alice’s maiden flight goes well, it still faces a long path to commercialization, says Kiruba Haran, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Aviation’s stringent safety requirements mean the company must show it can fly the aircraft for a long period, over and over again without incident, which has yet to be done with an all-electric plane at this scale.

Nonetheless, if the maiden flight goes according to plan it will be a major milestone for electric aviation, says Haran. “It’s exciting, right?” he says. “Anytime we do something more than, or further than, or better than, that’s always good for the industry.”

And while battery-powered electric aircraft may have little chance of disrupting the bulk of commercial aviation in the near-term, Haran says hybrid schemes that use a combination of batteries and conventional fuels (or even hydrogen) to power electric engines could have more immediate impact. The successful deployment of the Alice could go a long way to proving the capabilities of electric propulsion and building momentum behind the technology, says Haran.

“There are still a lot of skeptics out there,” he says. “This kind of flight demo will hopefully help bring those people along.”


Match ID: 27 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 183 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Spin Me Up, Scotty—Up Into Orbit
Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:34:49 +0000


At first, the dream of riding a rocket into space was laughed off the stage by critics who said you’d have to carry along fuel that weighed more than the rocket itself. But the advent of booster rockets and better fuels let the dreamers have the last laugh.

Hah, the critics said: To put a kilogram of payload into orbit we just need 98 kilograms of rocket plus rocket fuel.

What a ratio, what a cost. To transport a kilogram of cargo, commercial air freight services typically charge about US $10; spaceflight costs reach $10,000. Sure, you can save money by reusing the booster, as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are trying to do, but it would be so much better if you could dispense with the booster and shoot the payload straight into space.

The first people to think along these lines used cannon launchers, such as those in Project HARP (High Altitude Research Project), in the 1960s. Research support dried up after booster rockets showed their mettle. Another idea was to shoot payloads into orbit along a gigantic electrified ramp, called a railgun, but that technology still faces hurdles of a basic scientific nature, not least the need for massive banks of capacitors to provide the jolt of energy.

Imagine a satellite spinning in a vacuum chamber at many times the speed of sound. The gates of that chamber open up, and the satellite shoots out faster than the air outside can rush back in—creating a sonic boom when it hits the wall of air.

Now SpinLaunch, a company founded in 2015 in Long Beach, Calif., proposes a gentler way to heave satellites into orbit. Rather than shoot the satellite in a gun, SpinLaunch would sling it from the end of a carbon-fiber tether that spins around in a vacuum chamber for as long as an hour before reaching terminal speed. The tether lets go milliseconds before gates in the chamber open up to allow the satellite out.

“Because we’re slowly accelerating the system, we can keep the power demands relatively low,” David Wrenn, vice president for technology, tells IEEE Spectrum. “And as there’s a certain amount of energy stored in the tether itself, you can recapture that through regenerative braking.”

The company reports they've raised about $100 million. Among the backers are the investment arms of Airbus and Google and the Defense Innovation Unit, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

SpinLaunch began with a lab centrifuge that measures about 12 meters in diameter. In November, a 33-meter version at Space Port America test-launched a payload thousands of meters up. Such a system could loft a small rocket, which would finish the job of reaching orbit. A 100-meter version, now in the planning stage, should be able to handle a 200-kg payload.

Wrenn answers all the obvious questions. How can the tether withstand the g-force when spinning at hypersonic speed? “A carbon-fiber cable with a cross-sectional area of one square inch (6.5 square centimeters) can suspend a mass of 300,000 pounds (136,000 kg),” he says.

How much preparation do you need between shots? Not much, because the chamber doesn’t have to be superclean. If the customer wants to loft a lot of satellites—a likely desideratum, given the trend toward massive constellations of small satellites–the setup could include motors powerful enough to spin up in 30 minutes. “Upwards of 10 launches per day are possible,” Wrenn says.

How tight must the vacuum be? A “rough” vacuum suffices, he says. SpinLaunch maintains the vacuum with a system of airlocks operated by those millisecond-fast gates.

Most parts, including the steel for the vacuum chamber and carbon fiber, are off-the-shelf, but those gates are proprietary. All Wrenn will say is that they’re not made of steel.

So imagine a highly intricate communications satellite, housed in some structure, spinning at many times the speed of sound. The gates open up, the satellite shoots out far faster than the air outside can rush back in. Then the satellite hits the wall of air, creating a sonic boom.

No problem, says Wrenn. Electronic systems have been hurtling from vacuums into air ever since the cannon-launching days of HARP, some 60 years ago. SpinLaunch has done work already on engineering certain satellite components to withstand the ordeal—“deployable solar panels, for example,” he says.

After the online version of this article appeared, several readers objected to the SpinLaunch system, above all to the stress it would put on the liquid-fueled rocket at the end of that carbon-fiber tether.

“The system has to support up to 8,000 gs; most payloads at launch are rated at 6 or 10 gs,” said John Bucknell, a rocket scientist who heads the startup Virtus Solis Technologies, which aims to collect solar energy in space and beam it to earth.

Keith Lostrom, a chip engineer, went even further. “Drop a brick onto an egg—that is a tiny fraction of the damage that SpinLaunch’s centripedal acceleration would do to a liquid-fuel orbital launch rocket,” he wrote, in an emailed message.

Wrenn denies that the g-force is a dealbreaker. For one thing, he argues, the turbopumps in liquid-fuel rockets spin at over 30,000 rotations per minute, subjecting the liquid oxygen and fuel to “much more aggressive conditions than the uniform g-force that SpinLaunch has.”

Besides, he says, finite element analysis and high-g testing in the company’s 12-meter accelerator “has led to confidence it’s not a fundamental issue for us. We’ve already hot-fired our SpinLaunch-compatible upper-stage engine on the test stand.”

SpinLaunch says it will announce the site for its full-scale orbital launcher within the next five months. It will likely be built on a coastline, far from populated areas and regular airplane service. Construction costs would be held down if the machine can be built up the side of a hill. If all goes well, expect to see the first satellite slung into orbit sometime around 2025.

This article was updated on 24 Feb. 2022 to include additional perspectives on the technology.


Match ID: 28 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 200 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

12 Exciting Engineering Milestones to Look for in 2022
Thu, 30 Dec 2021 16:00:00 +0000


Psyche’s Deep-Space Lasers


An illustration of a satellite holding a ray gun in a cartoon style hand. MCKIBILLO

In August, NASA will launch the Psyche mission, sending a deep-space orbiter to a weird metal asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. While the probe’s main purpose is to study Psyche’s origins, it will also carry an experiment that could inform the future of deep-space communications. The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment will test whether lasers can transmit signals beyond lunar orbit. Optical signals, such as those used in undersea fiber-optic cables, can carry more data than radio signals can, but their use in space has been hampered by difficulties in aiming the beams accurately over long distances. DSOC will use a 4-watt infrared laser with a wavelength of 1,550 nanometers (the same used in many optical fibers) to send optical signals at multiple distances during Psyche’s outward journey to the asteroid.


The Great Electric Plane Race


An illustration of a battery with wings and a spinning propeller. MCKIBILLO

For the first time in almost a century, the U.S.-based National Aeronautic Association (NAA) will host a cross-country aircraft race. Unlike the national air races of the 1920s, however, the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race, scheduled for 19 May, will include only electric-propulsion aircraft. Both fixed-wing craft and helicopters are eligible. The competition will be limited to 25 contestants, and each aircraft must have an onboard pilot. The course will start in Omaha and end four days later in Manteo, N.C., near the site of the Wright brothers’ first flight. The NAA has stated that the goal of the cross-country, multiday race is to force competitors to confront logistical problems that still plague electric aircraft, like range, battery charging, reliability, and speed.

6-Gigahertz Wi-Fi Goes Mainstream

An illustration of the wifi signal and an arrow near the word \u201c6Ghz.\u201d MCKIBILLO

Wi-Fi is getting a boost with 1,200 megahertz of new spectrum in the 6-gigahertz band, adding a third spectrum band to the more familiar 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The new band is called Wi-Fi 6E because it extends Wi-Fi’s capabilities into the 6-GHz band. As a rule, higher radio frequencies have higher data capacity, but a shorter range. With its higher frequencies, 6-GHz Wi-Fi is expected to find use in heavy traffic environments like offices and public hotspots. The Wi-Fi Alliance introduced a Wi-Fi 6E certification program in January 2021, and the first trickle of 6E routers appeared by the end of the year. In 2022, expect to see a bonanza of Wi-Fi 6E–enabled smartphones.

3-Nanometer Chips Arrive

An illustration of a chip dancing and holding a hat with \u201c3nm\u201d at the center. MCKIBILLO

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) plans to begin producing 3-nanometer semiconductor chips in the second half of 2022. Right now, 5-nm chips are the standard. TSMC will make its 3-nm chips using a tried-and-true semiconductor structure called the FinFET (short for “fin field-effect transistor”). Meanwhile, Samsung and Intel are moving to a different technique for 3 nm called nanosheet. (TSMC is eventually planning to abandon FinFETs.) At one point, TSMC’s sole 3-nm chip customer for 2022 was Apple, for the latter’s iPhone 14, but supply-chain issues have made it less certain that TSMC will be able to produce enough chips—which promise more design flexibility—to fulfill even that order.

Seoul Joins the Metaverse

An illustration of a building MCKIBILLO

After Facebook (now Meta) announced it was hell-bent on making the metaverse real, a host of other tech companies followed suit. Definitions differ, but the basic idea of the metaverse involves merging virtual reality and augmented reality with actual reality. Also jumping on the metaverse bandwagon is the government of the South Korean capital, Seoul, which plans to develop a “metaverse platform” by the end of 2022. To build this first public metaverse, Seoul will invest 3.9 billion won (US $3.3 million). The platform will offer public services and cultural events, beginning with the Metaverse 120 Center, a virtual-reality portal for citizens to address concerns that previously required a trip to city hall. Other planned projects include virtual exhibition halls for school courses and a digital representation of Deoksu Palace. The city expects the project to be complete by 2026.

IBM’s Condors Take Flight

An illustration of a bird made up of squares. MCKIBILLO

In 2022, IBM will debut a new quantum processor—its biggest yet—as a stepping-stone to a 1,000-qubit processor by the end of 2023. This year’s iteration will contain 433 qubits, three times as much as the company’s 127-qubit Eagle processor, which was launched last year. Following the bird theme, the 433- and 1,000-qubit processors will be named Condor. There have been quantum computers with many more qubits; D-Wave Systems, for example, announced a 5,000-qubit computer in 2020. However, D-Wave’s computers are specialized machines for optimization problems. IBM’s Condors aim to be the largest general-purpose quantum processors.

New Dark-Matter Detector

An illustration of two dotted arrow headed lines and two circles with the letter \u201cp\u201d on them. MCKIBILLO

The Forward Search Experiment (FASER) at CERN is slated to switch on in July 2022. The exact date depends on when the Large Hadron Collider is set to renew proton-proton collisions after three years of upgrades and maintenance. FASER will begin a hunt for dark matter and other particles that interact extremely weakly with “normal” matter. CERN, the fundamental physics research center near Geneva, has four main detectors attached to its Large Hadron Collider, but they aren’t well-suited to detecting dark matter. FASER won’t attempt to detect the particles directly; instead, it will search for the more strongly interacting Standard Model particles created when dark matter interacts with something else. The new detector was constructed while the collider was shut down from 2018 to 2021. Located 480 meters “downstream” of the ATLAS detector, FASER will also hunt for neutrinos produced in huge quantities by particle collisions in the LHC loop. The other CERN detectors have so far failed to detect such neutrinos.

Pong Turns 50

An illustration of the pong game with the numbers \u201c6\u201d and \u201c9\u201d on top. MCKIBILLO

Atari changed the course of video games when it released its first game, Pong, in 1972. While not the first video game—or even the first to be presented in an upright, arcade-style cabinet—Pong was the first to be commercially successful. The game was developed by engineer Allan Alcorn and originally assigned to him as a test after he was hired, before he began working on actual projects. However, executives at Atari saw potential in Pong’s simple game play and decided to develop it into a real product. Unlike the countless video games that came after it, the original Pong did not use any code or microprocessors. Instead, it was built from a television and transistor-transistor logic.

The Green Hydrogen Boom

An illustration of a generator with large, circular blades. MCKIBILLO

Utility company Energias de Portugal (EDP), based in Lisbon, is on track to begin operating a 3-megawatt green hydrogen plant in Brazil by the end of the year. Green hydrogen is hydrogen produced in sustainable ways, using solar or wind-powered electrolyzers to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. According to the International Energy Agency, only 0.1 percent of hydrogen is produced this way. The plant will replace an existing coal-fired plant and generate hydrogen—which can be used in fuel cells—using solar photovoltaics. EDP’s roughly US $7.9 million pilot program is just the tip of the green hydrogen iceberg. Enegix Energy has announced plans for a $5.4 billion green hydrogen plant in the same Brazilian state, Ceará, where the EDP plant is being built. The green hydrogen market is predicted to generate a revenue of nearly $10 billion by 2028, according to a November 2021 report by Research Dive.

A Permanent Space Station for China

An illustration of a space station MCKIBILLO

China is scheduled to complete its Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”) space station in 2022. The station, China’s first long-term space habitat, was preceded by the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 stations, which orbited from 2011 to 2018 and 2016 to 2019, respectively. The new station’s core module, the Tianhe, was launched in April 2021. A further 10 missions by the end of 2022 will deliver other components and modules, with construction to be completed in orbit. The final station will have two laboratory modules in addition to the core module. Tiangong will orbit at roughly the same altitude as the International Space Station but will be only about one-fifth the mass of the ISS.

A Cool Form of Energy Storage

An illustration of a lightning bolt in an ice cube. MCKIBILLO

Cryogenic energy-storage company Highview Power will begin operations at its Carrington plant near Manchester, England, this year. Cryogenic energy storage is a long-term method of storing electricity by cooling air until it liquefies (about –196 °C). Crucially, the air is cooled when electricity is cheaper—at night, for example—and then stored until electricity demand peaks. The liquid air is then allowed to boil back into a gas, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. The 50-megawatt/250-megawatt-hour Carrington plant will be Highview Power’s first commercial plant using its cryogenic storage technology, dubbed CRYOBattery. Highview Power has said it plans to build a similar plant in Vermont, although it has not specified a timeline yet.

Carbon-Neutral Cryptocurrency?

An illustration of a coin with stars around it. MCKIBILLO

Seattle-based startup Nori is set to offer a cryptocurrency for carbon removal. Nori will mint 500 million tokens of its Ethereum-based currency (called NORI). Individuals and companies can purchase and trade NORI, and eventually exchange any NORI they own for an equal number of carbon credits. Each carbon credit represents a tonne of carbon dioxide that has already been removed from the atmosphere and stored in the ground. When exchanged in this way, a NORI is retired, making it impossible for owners to try to “double count” carbon credits and therefore seem like they’re offsetting more carbon than they actually have. The startup has acknowledged that Ethereum and other blockchain-based technologies consume an enormous amount of energy, so the carbon it sequesters could conceivably originate in cryptocurrency mining. However, 2022 will also see Ethereum scheduled to switch to a much more energy-efficient method of verifying its blockchain, called proof-of-stake, which Nori will take advantage of when it launches.


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Female footballers deserve equal pay, says German chancellor after Euro run
Wed, 10 Aug 2022 02:25:13 GMT

Germany’s women would have received €60,000 each if they had won European Championships, while the men would have received €400,000

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has made a push for equal pay for female international footballers after the team made it to the final of the recent European Championships.

“My position on this is clear,” Scholz said after a meeting on Tuesday with the German Football Association (DFB) to discuss the issue. “We talked about how we can continue to help more girls and women get excited about football. Of course, the wages at such tournaments play a major role in this,” he said.

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Match ID: 0 Score: 80.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 25.00 germany, 20.00 eu

New EV Prototype Leaves Range Anxiety in the Dust
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 16:13:15 +0000


Not long ago, a 300-mile range seemed like a healthy target for electric cars. More recently, the 520-mile (837-kilometer) Lucid Air became the world’s longest-range EV. But that record may not stand for long.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, and its showroom-bound tech, looks to banish range anxiety for good: In April, the sleek prototype sedan completed a 621-mile (1,000-km) trek through the Alps from Mercedes’s Sindelfingen facility to the Côte d’Azur in Cassis, France, with battery juice to spare. It built on that feat in late May, when the prototype covered a world-beating, bladder-busting 747 miles (1,202 km) in a run from Germany to the Formula One circuit in Silverstone, England.

This wasn’t your usual long-distance, college-engineering project, a single-seat death trap made from Kleenex and balsa wood, with no amenities or hope of being certified for use on public roads. Despite modest power, a futuristic teardrop shape, and next-gen tech, the EQXX—developed in just 18 months—is otherwise a familiar, small Mercedes luxury sedan. That includes a dramatic sci-fi display and human-machine interface that spans the full dashboard. To underline real-world intent, Mercedes vows that the EQXX’s power train will reach showrooms by 2024. An initial showroom model, and surely more to come, will be built on the company’s new Mercedes Modular Architecture platform, designed for smaller “entry-luxury” models such as the A-Class and the CLA Coupe. While Mercedes was refining its one-off tech showpiece, it even used a current EQB model as a test mule for the power train.

“The car is an R&D project, but we’re feeding it into the development of our next compact car platform,” says Conrad Sagert, an engineer at Mercedes who is developing electric drive systems.

The engineering team included specialists with the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team, drawing from their well of electric racing experience. Developed in just 18 months, the rear-drive Vision EQXX is powered by a single radial-flux electric motor—developed entirely in-house—fed by a battery pack with just under 100 kilowatt-hours of usable energy. Inside, environmentally conscious materials include trim panels sourced from cacti, mushroom-based seat inserts and bamboo-fiber shag floor mats, all previewing potential use in showroom cars. One thing that won’t reach production by 2024 is the EQXX’s high-silicon battery anode, which Sagert says is closer to four years from showrooms. Such silicon-rich anodes, which can squeeze more range from batteries, are widely expected to be popularized over the next decade.

A 241-horsepower output delivers a reasonable 7-second trip from 0 to 60 miles per hour. But from a feathery (for an electric vehicle) 3,900-pound curb weight to wind-cheating aerodynamics, the carbon-fiber-bodied EQXX is designed for pure efficiency, not winning stoplight races. The Benz sipped electrons at 8.7 miles per kilowatt-hour on its Côte d'Azur run, nearly double the roughly 4.5 kWh of the Lucid (the current high for global EVs) and 7.5 miles per kilowatt-hour on the trip to the United Kingdom. If that electric math still seems esoteric, the England-bound Benz delivered the equivalent of 262 miles per gallon, nearly double the 141 mpg of the industry-leading Tesla Model 3 Standard Range.

A roof panel with 117 solar cells lessens the burden by powering a conventional 12-volt system to run accessories, including lighting, an audio system, and the display screens worthy of Minority Report. On the cloudy April trip to southern France, with plenty of tunnel passages, the panels saved 13 km of range. On the sunnier May drive to the U.K., the solar roof saved 43 km of range.

Roof of a car with solar panels with a beach in the background. The Vision EQXX’s roof panel has 117 solar cells.Mercedes-Benz

Aerodynamics naturally play an essential role, including a tiny frontal area and dramatic Kamm tail whose active rear diffuser extends nearly 8 inches at speeds above 23 mph. The sidewalls of specially designed Bridgestone tires sit flush with the body and 20-inch magnesium wheels, aiding a claimed drag coefficient of 0.17, which exceeds any current production car. Surprisingly for such a slippery design, the EQXX features traditional yet aerodynamic exterior mirrors: Mercedes says the camera-based “mirrors” used on many concept cars drew too much electricity to generate a tangible benefit.

Defying today’s EV norms, the battery and motor are entirely air cooled. Eliminating liquid-cooling circuits, pumps, and fluids set off a spiral of savings in weight and packaging. To cool the battery, a smoothly shaped underbody acts as a heat sink. The design reversed the usual engineering challenge in EVs and internal combustion engine cars alike: The problem was getting heat into the system to bring battery and motor to optimal operating temperature. Active front shutters can open to boost airflow when necessary.

“We don’t get enough waste heat, so we had to insulate the electric motor. It’s still about heat management, but the other way around,” Sagert says.

Add it up and the EQXX transfers a claimed 95 percent of electric energy into forward motion, up from 90 percent for Mercedes’s current models such as the EQS. If that doesn’t sound like much gain to nonengineers, Sagert puts it another way: The EQXX reduces typical EV energy losses by 50 percent.

“We’re always hoping for this magical thing, but it’s really the sum of the details,” Sagert says.

That obsession with tiny details paid off. Based on computer and dynamometer simulations, engineers saw a 1,000-km run as a challenging target, and plotted a Mediterranean road trip to Cassis, France. Instead, the car blew away those conservative projections. Pulling into Cassis, the EQXX had 140 km of remaining range.

“We thought about waving and just driving on, but we weren’t allowed,” Sagert says, not least because Mercedes board member and chief technology officer Markus Schäfer was waiting to greet them. Mercedes then set its sights higher, and chose Silverstone and its Formula One track, ideal for a team meetup.

“We started thinking, can we do a longer run?” Sagert says. “We always wished to visit our colleagues in Formula E, who did so much for the project. But again we thought, ‘This will be really tough.’ ”

To make the runs legit, Mercedes was determined to drive at real-world speeds and conditions, not “hypermile” their way to some illusory record. The car averaged 83 kilometers per hour on its U.K. run, and 87 km/h to Cassis. Test drivers even ran the air conditioning for 8 hours of the two-day, 14 hour-and-30-minute trip to Silverstone, and encountered an autobahn road closure and snarled traffic around London.

The sleek sedan capped off the record-breaking trek with an energy-guzzling flourish: Despite some misgivings, the team handed their precious prototype to a Formula E team driver, Nyck de Vries. The Type-A racer forgot all about efficiency and pushed the car to its limits on the Silverstone F1 circuit, watched by nervous engineers. Where long-distance drivers had relied almost exclusively on regenerative braking (with four adjustable levels) during their runs, de Vries got to test the car’s novel aluminum brake rotors. Those ultralight rotors are possible because the Benz so rarely needs to use its foot-operated mechanical brakes, as telemetry readings from the track showed.

“In three laps, de Vries burned more energy using the mechanical brakes than we did on two entire runs” through Europe, Sagert says. “But it was a good feeling, that this wasn’t some show car, and that you could give it to a race driver and not have it fall apart.”

Some of this prototype tech won’t be feasible on coming production models—a carbon-fiber body, for one, is the stuff of supercars, not small-and-affordable Mercedes. Still, the EQXX offers a tantalizing taste of what’s to come, including all-day range to savor.

“This range anxiety is not a problem anymore,” Sagert says. “If your range isn’t enough today, wait two years, and the step will be big.”


Match ID: 1 Score: 80.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 1 day
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 25.00 germany, 20.00 eu

Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 168 of the invasion
Wed, 10 Aug 2022 00:39:29 GMT

Zelenskiy vows to ‘liberate’ Crimea as Kyiv denies responsibility for deadly attack on Russian airbase in the annexed peninsula

A Russian airbase deep behind the frontline in Crimea has been damaged by several large explosions, killing at least one person. It was not immediately clear whether it had been targeted by a long-range Ukrainian missile strike. In his nightly address, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, did not discuss who was behind the attacks but vowed to “liberate” Crimea, saying: “This Russian war against Ukraine and against the entire free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation.” An adviser to the president, Mikhail Podolyak, said Ukraine was not taking responsibility for the explosions, suggesting partisans might have been involved.

The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power firm warned of the “very high” risks from shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Russian-occupied south and said it was vital Kyiv regains control over the facility in time for winter. Energoatom’s chief, Petro Kotin, told Reuters in an interview that last week’s Russian shelling had damaged three lines that connect the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Ukrainian grid and that Russia wanted to connect the facility to its grid.

Russian forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are reorienting the plant’s electricity production to connect to Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, according to Ukrainian operator Energoatom. “To do this, you must first damage the power lines of the plant connected to the Ukrainian energy system. From August 7 to 9, the Russians have already damaged three power lines. At the moment, the plant is operating with only one production line, which is an extremely dangerous way of working,” Energoatom president Petro Kotin told Ukrainian television. The plant, located not far from the Crimean peninsula, has six of Ukraine’s 15 reactors, and is capable of supplying power for four million homes.

The leaders of Estonia and Finland want fellow European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to take holidays in Europe while the Russian government carries out a war in Ukraine. The Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, wrote on Tuesday on Twitter that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right” and that it was “time to end tourism from Russia now”, the Associated Press reported.

US president Joe Biden on Tuesday signed documents endorsing Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato, the most significant expansion of the military alliance since the 1990s as it responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports.

The US state department has approved $89m worth of assistance to help Ukraine equip and train 100 teams to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance for a year, Reuters reported.

The total number of grain-carrying ships to leave Ukrainian ports under a UN brokered deal to ease the global food crisis has now reached 12, with the two latest ships which left on Tuesday headed for Istanbul and Turkey.

Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad has been struggling with quotas imposed by the EU for sanctioned goods that it can import across Lithuania from mainland Russia or Belarus, the region’s governor admitted. Lithuania infuriated Moscow in June by banning the land transit of goods such as concrete and steel to Kaliningrad after EU sanctions on them came into force, Reuters reported.

Russia has launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan amid concerns it could be used for battlefield surveillance in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Iran has denied that the Khayyam satellite, which was delivered into orbit onboard a Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur cosmodrome, would ever be under Russian control. But the Washington Post previously reported that Moscow told Tehran it “plans to use the satellite for several months, or longer, to enhance its surveillance of military targets” in Ukraine, according to two US officials.

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Match ID: 2 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Russian airbase on western coast of Crimea damaged in explosions
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 23:36:54 GMT

One person killed in Novofedorivka, 110 miles from frontline, after ‘aviation munitions detonated’ in storage area

A Russian airbase deep behind the frontline in Crimea has been damaged by several large explosions, killing at least one person, although it was not immediately clear whether it had been targeted by a long-range Ukrainian missile strike.

Multiple social media videos showed explosions and clouds emerging from the Saky military base in Novofedorivka on the western coast of Crimea on Tuesday afternoon, prompting questions about how a location more than 100 miles (160km) from the frontline could have been attacked. Later a senior Ukrainian official appeared to claim responsibility, without giving details.

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Match ID: 3 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Ex-inmates reveal details of Russia prison torture scandal
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 23:20:37 GMT
Former prisoners expose how and why rape is being used as a weapon inside Russian jails.
Match ID: 4 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Robert Pope: Guinness-fuelled man runs width of Ireland in a day
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 23:08:46 GMT
Robert Pope ran the almost 130-mile route from Galway to Dublin in just 23 hours and 41 minutes.
Match ID: 5 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Ukraine war: Blasts rock Russian airbase in annexed Crimea
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 22:32:20 GMT
Black smoke is seen rising from the territory, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Match ID: 6 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

France whale: Rescue operation begins to save beluga stuck in Seine
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 22:14:39 GMT
Divers, vets and police are involved in moving the ailing beluga whale from the Seine to the sea.
Match ID: 7 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Malik Tillman caps rousing Rangers comeback against Union Saint-Gilloise
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 20:57:47 GMT
  • Rangers 3-0 Union Saint-Gilloise (Agg: 3-2)
  • Van Bronckhorst’s side overturn two-goal deficit

Rangers are one step away from the Champions League and what they will not unreasonably regard as the completion of a redemption story following their financial implosion of 2012. Union Saint-Gilloise entered this second leg two goals to the good. They left Ibrox dizzy. Rangers progressed to the playoff round with swagger. The prospect of both halves of the Old Firm playing Champions League group stage football for the first time since 2007-08 remains a live one. PSV Eindhoven lie between Rangers and their holy grail.

“The pressure was on us,” said the Rangers manager, Giovanni van Bronckhorst. “I am so proud of my players. They played with passion, fire and desire. It was an amazing night for all of us.”

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Match ID: 8 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Ukraine Live Briefing: Explosions rock Russian air base in Crimea
Tue, 9 Aug 2022 16:25:44 EDT
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of "nuclear blackmail" following attacks on Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
Match ID: 9 Score: 55.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Ukraine round-up: Blasts in Crimea and travel dispute
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 19:20:16 GMT
Explosions rock a Russian military airfield in Crimea and travel may get yet harder for Russians.
Match ID: 10 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Loire Valley: Intense European heatwave parches France's 'garden'
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 19:03:49 GMT
The Loire Valley is key to French farming, but it is being devastated by a fourth heatwave this year.
Match ID: 11 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

One person killed after Ukraine appears to hit major Russian airbase in Crimea – as it happened
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 18:00:04 GMT

Head of region announces death after attack on base deep inside the occupied Crimean peninsula in what is being seen as a significant strike

Here are some of the latest images to be distributed from Ukraine on the newswires.

Reuters reports that the Turkish defence ministry has said two further grain-carrying ships have sailed from Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port on Tuesday, as part of the deal to unblock Ukrainian sea exports.

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Match ID: 12 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Drought leaves boats stranded on dried-up river bed along French-Swiss border
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 17:51:31 GMT
Stretches of River Doubs on the French-Swiss border are parched after severe droughts hit western Europe.
Match ID: 13 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

‘A disturbing wave’: midges threaten tourist trade in Italian town
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 16:31:21 GMT

Takings in Orbetello, Tuscany, down 60% as thousands of midges torment locals and tourists

Authorities in a Tuscan town have urged residents to close their windows and refrain from hanging out washing as they tackle a plague of midges that has been tormenting locals and tourists for weeks.

Restaurants and bar owners in Orbetello, well known for its lagoon and long stretches of sandy beach overlooked by Monte Argentario, say business has been badly hit as customers avoid venturing out for dinner.

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Match ID: 14 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Italy’s most decorated second world war resistance fighter dies aged 103
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 15:52:10 GMT

Mario Fiorentini commanded a group of partisans who fought against Benito Mussolini and Italy’s Nazi occupiers

Mario Fiorentini, Italy’s most decorated resistance fighter against fascist and Nazi forces during the second world war, has died in a Rome hospital aged 103.

The Rome chapter of the National Association of Italian Partisans announced his death on Tuesday.

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Match ID: 15 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Flushing the loo to gardening: how to save water around the home
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 15:34:08 GMT

Tips on cutting back usage as parts of UK prepare for drought measures

Another heatwave is looming and many parts of the country are preparing for emergency water measures to combat drought.

Britons do use a lot of water – on average, more than citizens in most other European countries – so what can people do to cut their usage?

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Match ID: 16 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Kremlin sharply critical of Ukraine’s call for travel ban on Russians
Tue, 9 Aug 2022 11:05:32 EDT
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on other countries to ban all Russian travelers to help stop Moscow from annexing any more Ukrainian territory.
Match ID: 17 Score: 55.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Ukraine conflict: Ban Russian visitors, Zelensky urges West
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:44:02 GMT
Ukraine's call for a widespread ban has also been supported by Estonia, Latvia and Finland.
Match ID: 18 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

US officials concerned as Russia launches Iranian satellite
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:40:16 GMT
The US has warned Russia plans to maintain use of the satellite to spy on Ukrainian troop movements.
Match ID: 19 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Iranian satellite launched by Russia could be used for Ukraine surveillance
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:29:17 GMT

Tehran denies Khayyam satellite will be under Russian control, despite reported admission by Moscow

Russia has launched an Iranian satellite from Kazakhstan amid concerns it could be used for battlefield surveillance in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Iran has denied that the Khayyam satellite, which was delivered into orbit onboard a Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur cosmodrome, would ever be under Russian control.

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Match ID: 20 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Will Europe Force a Facebook Blackout?
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:45:11 +0000
Regulators are close to stopping Meta from sending EU data to the US, bringing a years-long privacy battle to a head.
Match ID: 21 Score: 55.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Switzerland’s melting glaciers reveal human remains and plane wreckage
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:01:59 GMT

Record high temperatures in the Alps this summer have led to the discovery of two bodies and an aircraft that crashed in 1968

Soaring temperatures are prompting Switzerland’s melting glaciers to reveal their secrets, with hikers this summer chancing upon two sets of unidentified human remains and a plane wreckage lost for more than half a century.

Two French alpinists found human bones last Wednesday while scaling the Chessjen glacier in the southern canton of Valais, a police spokesperson confirmed on Monday. The skeleton was airlifted from the glacier by helicopter on the same day.

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Match ID: 22 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Ralph Lauren stock jumps after earnings that topped expectations, upbeat growth outlook
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 12:16:19 GMT

Shares of Ralph Lauren Corp. rallied 2.8% toward a two-month high in premarket trading Tuesday, after the premium apparel, accessories and fragrances company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that beat expectations, amid strength in overseas same-store sales, and provided an upbeat current-quarter outlook. Net income for the quarter to July 2 fell to $123.4 million, or $1.73 a share, from $164.7 million, or $2.18 a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding nonrecurring items, adjusted earnings per share of $1.88 beat the FactSet consensus of $1.71. Revenue grew 8.3% to $1.49 billion, above the FactSet consensus of $1.40 billion. In retail, same-stores sales for North America were up 5%, for Europe increased 34% and for Asia rose 19%. Cost of goods sold grew more than sales, rising 19.8% to $489.2 million as gross margin contracted to 67.2% from 70.3%. Looking ahead, the company expects fiscal second-quarter revenue growth "centered around" 11%, while the current FactSet revenue consensus of $1.59 billion implies 5.4% growth. The stock has gained 6.6% over the past three months through Monday, while the S&P 500 has tacked on 3.7%.

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: 23 Score: 55.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

The Double Life of the Bloodsucking Sea Lamprey
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000
In the Great Lakes, sea lampreys are a scourge. In Europe, they’re an endangered cultural treasure. Can biologists suppress—and save—the species?
Match ID: 24 Score: 55.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Rejeição da elite a Lula tem origem na racialização do Nordeste
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 06:00:28 +0000

Homem e branco, o candidato tanto faz parte dos grupos de maior poder quanto herda o preconceito histórico contra as pessoas desta região.

The post Rejeição da elite a Lula tem origem na racialização do Nordeste appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 25 Score: 55.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Quinta-ssential Portugal: a campervan tour of farms, villages and flavours
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 06:00:19 GMT

A new website for campervanners puts Portugal’s superb country food and wine on your doorstep – and you only pay for the welcome basket

As we pull up at the gate of Lavoura da Bouça, a huge but friendly mastiff is there to meet us. Behind him waddle a gaggle of noisy geese, followed by a scattering of sheep. In the back of our brightly coloured rental van, my two sons and their school friend look doubtful. Have we come to the right place?

Admittedly, the stone farmhouse with its animals and apple orchard does not look like your usual edge-of-town campervan stopover joint. There are no other vans, no facilities (other than a very clean compost toilet), and no illumination other than the stars.

I assure them this rustic spot, an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Porto, is where the EasyCamp website has directed us and so, while it looks like someone’s private home, it must indeed be our destination. Then, as if on cue, Aurora and José, the farm’s cheerful owners, appear from behind a large fruit tree and usher us through the gate.

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Match ID: 26 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Russia suspends US inspections of its nuclear weapons arsenal
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 00:10:44 GMT

Moscow blames Ukraine war sanctions for preventing mutual inspection of its nuclear arms under New Start treaty

Russia has suspended an arrangement that allowed US and Russian inspectors to visit each other’s nuclear weapons sites under the 2010 New Start treaty, in a new blow to arms control.

Mutual inspections had been suspended as a health precaution since the start of the Covid pandemic, but a foreign ministry statement on Monday added another reason Russia is unwilling to restart them. It argued that US sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine stopped Russian inspectors travelling to the US.

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Match ID: 27 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

EU team submit ‘final text’ at talks to salvage 2015 Iran nuclear deal
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 18:25:31 GMT

Revival of agreement awaits ‘political decisions’ in Tehran and Washington after negotiators in Vienna agree text

The European Union has submitted a “final text” at talks to salvage the 2015 deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The revival of the agreement now awaits “political decisions” in Tehran and Washington after negotiators in Vienna agreed the text thrashed out between Iranian and European representatives over the past five days was the final text and could not be amended further.

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Match ID: 28 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

In pictures: Drought hits Europe's rivers and crops
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 14:21:56 GMT
Weeks of baking heat have caused big problems for Europe's food producers and river traffic.
Match ID: 29 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 1 day
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

The plans for giant seaweed farms in European waters
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 23:16:47 GMT
As worldwide sales of the algae soar, the European Union wants to establish giant seaweed farms.
Match ID: 30 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 2 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

Russia’s private military contractor Wagner comes out of the shadows in Ukraine war
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 15:41:55 GMT

Mercenary group does not officially exist but is playing a more public role and openly recruiting in Russia

Three billboards in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg shine a light on what was once one of Russia’s most shadowy organisations, the private military contractor Wagner.

“Motherland, Honour, Blood, Bravery. WAGNER”, one of the posters reads.

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Match ID: 31 Score: 55.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

France whale: Hopes fading for lost mammal stuck in River Seine
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 15:22:16 GMT
The visibly malnourished all-white beluga has been stuck 70km north of Paris since at least Tuesday.
Match ID: 32 Score: 55.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 2 days
qualifiers: 35.00 europe, 20.00 eu

EU Settlement Scheme: Bogus marriage couples not being prosecuted
Wed, 10 Aug 2022 02:24:29 GMT
BBC News finds almost 400 couples who tried to exploit a post-Brexit scheme have yet to be removed.
Match ID: 33 Score: 40.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu, 20.00 brexit

From energy bills to Brexit: a guide to the Tory leadership race U-turns
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:58:15 GMT

Analysis: Conservative contest has featured number of changes and clarifications by Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak

Party leadership races often involve candidates adjusting policies on the hoof, and so tend to have more than the usual share of U-turns. . Here are some highlights.

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Match ID: 34 Score: 40.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu, 20.00 brexit

Video Friday: Build a Chair
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 15:44:00 +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.

IEEE CASE 2022: 20–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!


This probably counts as hard mode for Ikea chair assembly.

[ Naver Lab ]

As anyone working with robotics knows, it’s mandatory to spend at least 10 percent of your time just mucking about with them because it’s fun, as GITAI illustrates with its new 10-meter robotic arm.

[ GITAI ]

Well, this is probably the weirdest example of domain randomization in simulation for quadrupeds that I’ve ever seen.

[ RSL ]

The RoboCup 2022 was held in Bangkok, Thailand. The final match was between B-Human from Bremen (jerseys in black) and HTWK Robots from Leipzig (jerseys in blue). The video starts with one of our defending robots starting a duel with the opponent. After a short time a pass is made to another robot, which tries to score a goal, but the opponent goalie is able to catch the ball. Afterwards another attacker robot is already waiting at the center circle, to take its chance to score a goal, through all four opponent robots.

[ Team B-Human ]

The mission to return Martian samples back to Earth will see a European 2.5-meter-long robotic arm pick up tubes filled with precious soil from Mars and transfer them to a rocket for a historic interplanetary delivery.

[ ESA ]

I still cannot believe that this is an approach to robotic fruit-picking that actually works.

[ Tevel Aerobotics ]

This video shows the basic performance of the humanoid robot Torobo, which is used as a research platform for JST’s Moonshot R&D program.

[ Tokyo Robotics ]

Volocopter illustrates why I always carry two violins with me everywhere. You know, just in case.

[ Volocopter ]

We address the problem of enabling quadrupedal robots to perform precise shooting skills in the real world using reinforcement learning. Developing algorithms to enable a legged robot to shoot a soccer ball to a given target is a challenging problem that combines robot motion control and planning into one task.

[ Hybrid Robotics ]

I will always love watching Cassie try very, very hard to not fall over, and then fall over. <3

[ Michigan Robotics ]

I don’t think this paper is about teaching bipeds to walk with attitude, but it should be.

[ DLG ]

Modboats are capable of collective swimming in arbitrary configurations! In this video you can see three different configurations of the Modboats swim across our test space and demonstrate their capabilities.

[ ModLab ]

How have we built our autonomous driving technology to navigate the world safely? It comes down to three easy steps: Sense, Solve, and Go. Using a combination of lidar, camera, radar, and compute, the Waymo Driver can visualize the world, calculate what others may do, and proceed smoothly and safely, day and night.

[ Waymo ]

Alan Alda discusses evolutionary robotics with Hod Lipson and Jordan Pollack on Scientific American Frontiers in 1999.

[ Creative Machines Lab ]

Brady Watkins gives us insight into how a big company like Softbank Robotics looks into the robotics market.

[ Robohub ]


Match ID: 35 Score: 39.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 25.00 europe, 14.29 eu

Who Actually Owns Tesla’s Data?
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 15:26:58 +0000


On 29 September 2020, a masked man entered a branch of the Wells Fargo bank in Washington, D.C., and handed the teller a note: “This is a robbery. Act calm give me all hundreds.” The teller complied. The man then fled the bank and jumped into a gray Tesla Model S. This was one of three bank robberies the man attempted the same day.

When FBI agents began investigating, they reviewed Washington, D.C.’s District Department of Transportation camera footage, and spotted a Tesla matching the getaway vehicle’s description. The license plate on that car showed that it was registered to Exelorate Enterprises LLC, the parent company of Steer EV—a D.C.-based monthly vehicle-subscription service.

Agents served a subpoena on Steer EV for the renter’s billing and contact details. Steer EV provided those—and also voluntarily supplied historical GPS data for the vehicle. The data showed the car driving between, and parking at, each bank at the time of the heists. The renter was arrested and, in September, sentenced to four years in prison.

“If an entity is collecting, retaining, [and] sharing historical location data on an individualized level, it’s extraordinarily difficult to de-identify that, verging on impossible.”
—John Verdi, Future of Privacy Forum

In this case, the GPS data likely came from a device Steer EV itself installed in the vehicle (neither Steer nor Tesla responded to interview requests). However, according to researchers, Tesla is potentially in a position to provide similar GPS tracks for many of its 3 million customers.

For Teslas built since mid-2017, “every time you drive, it records the whole track of where you drive, the GPS coordinates and certain other metrics for every mile driven,” says Green, a Tesla owner who has reverse engineered the company’s Autopilot data collection. “They say that they are anonymizing the trigger results,” but, he says, “you could probably match everything to a single person if you wanted to.”

Each of these trip logs, and other data “snapshots” captured by the Autopilot system that include images and video, is stripped of its identifying VIN and given a temporary, random ID number when it is uploaded to Tesla, says Green. However, he notes, that temporary ID can persist for days or weeks, connecting all the uploads made during that time.

Black and white photo of a man in a suit looking off into the distance Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla MotorsMark Mahaney/Redux

Given that some trip logs will also likely record journeys between a driver’s home, school, or place of work, guaranteeing complete anonymity is unrealistic, says John Verdi, senior vice president of policy at the Future of Privacy Forum: “If an entity is collecting, retaining, [and] sharing historical location data on an individualized level, it’s extraordinarily difficult to de-identify that, verging on impossible.”

Tesla, like all other automakers, has a policy that spells out what it can and cannot do with the data it gets from customers’ vehicles, including location information. This states that while the company does not sell customer and vehicle data, it can share that data with service providers, business partners, affiliates, some authorized third parties, and government entities according to the law.

Owners can buy a special kit for US $1,400 that allows them to access data on their own car's event data recorder, but this represents just a tiny subset of the data the company collects, and is related only to crashes. Owners living in California and Europe benefit from legislation that means Tesla will provide access to more data generated by their vehicles, although not the Autopilot snapshots and trip logs that are supposedly anonymized.

Once governments realize that a company possesses such a trove of information, it could be only a matter of time before they seek access to it. “If the data exists…and in particular exists in the domain of somebody who’s not the subject of those data, it’s much more likely that a government will eventually get access to them in some way,” says Bryant Walker Smith, an associate professor in the schools of law and engineering at the University of South Carolina.

“Individuals ought to think about their cars more like they think about their cellphones.”
—John Verdi, Future of Privacy Forum

This is not necessarily a terrible thing, Walker says, who suggests that such rich data could unlock valuable insights into which roads or intersections are dangerous. The wealth of data could also surface subtle problems in the vehicles themselves.

In many ways, the data genie is already out of the bottle, according to Verdi. “Individuals ought to think about their cars more like they think about their cellphones,” he says. “The auto industry has a lot to learn from the ways that mobile-phone operating systems handle data permissions…. Both iOS and Android have made great strides in recent years in empowering consumers when it comes to data collection, data disclosure, and data use.”

Tesla permits owners to control some data sharing, including Autopilot and road segment analytics. If they want to opt out of data collection completely, they can ask Tesla to disable the vehicle’s connectivity altogether. However, this would mean losing features such as remote services, Internet radio, voice commands, and Web browser functionality, and even safety-related over-the-air updates.

Green says he is not aware of anyone who has successfully undergone this nuclear option. The only real way to know you’ve prevented data sharing, he says, is to “go to a repair place and ask them to remove the modem out of the car.”

Tesla almost certainly has the biggest empire of customer and vehicle data among automakers. It also appears to be the most aggressive in using that data to develop its automated driving systems, and to protect its reputation in the courts of law and public opinion, even to the detriment of some of its customers.

But while the world’s most valuable automaker dominates the discussion around connected cars, others are not far behind. Elon Musk’s insight—to embrace the data-driven world that our other digital devices already inhabit—is rapidly becoming the industry standard. When our cars become as powerful and convenient as our phones, it is hardly surprising that they suffer the same challenges around surveillance, privacy, and accountability.


Match ID: 36 Score: 39.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 25.00 europe, 14.29 eu

Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Goal Is a Beacon for Other States
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 18:14:33 +0000


Early in July, Rhode Island’s governor signed legislation mandating that the state acquire 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2033. Among the state’s American peers, there’s no deadline more ambitious.

“Anything more ambitious, and I would start being a little skeptical that it would be attainable,” says Seaver Wang, a climate and energy researcher at the Breakthrough Institute.

It is true that Rhode Island is small. It is also true that the state’s conditions make it riper for such a timeframe than most of the country. But watching this tiny state go about its policy business, analysts say, might show other states how to light their own ways into a renewable future.

Rhode Island’s 2033 deadline comes in the form of a renewable-energy standard, setting a goal that electricity providers must meet by collecting a certain number of certificates. Electricity providers can earn those certificates by generating electricity from renewable sources themselves; alternatively, they can buy certificates from other providers. (Numerous other states have similar standards—Rhode Island’s current standard is actually an upgrade to an older standard—and policy wonks have mooted a national standard.)

Today, it might seem a bit optimistic to pin hopes for renewable energy on a state that still gets 89 percent of its electricity from natural gas. Much of the meager wind power that does exist comes either from other states or from the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm—the first offshore wind farm in the United States—which consists of just five turbines and only came online in 2016.

But Rhode Island plans to fill the gap with as much as 600 megawatts of new wind power. To aid this effort, it has partnered with Ørsted, which could bring a critical mass of turbine expertise from Europe, where the sector is far more advanced. “I think that adds greatly to the likelihood of [Rhode Island’s] success,” says Morgan Higman, a clean-energy researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, D.C.

The policies in the package are, indeed, quite specific to Rhode Island’s position. Not only is it one of the least populous states in the United States, it already has about the lowest per capita energy consumption in the country. Moreover, powering a service-oriented economy, Rhode Island’s grid doesn’t have to accommodate many energy-intensive manufacturing firms. That makes that 2033 goal all the more achievable.

“It’s better to have attainable goals and focus on a diverse portfolio of policies to promote clean energy advancement, rather than sort of rush to meet what is essentially…a bit of a PR goal,” says Wang.

That Rhode Island is going all-in on something this maritime state might have in abundance—offshore wind—offers another lesson. Higman says it’s a good example of using a state’s own potential resources. Moreover, the partnership with Ørsted might help the state harness helpful expertise.

In similar fashion, Texans could choose to double down on that state’s own wind-power portfolio. New Mexico could potentially shape a renewable-energy supply from its bountiful sunlight. Doing this sort of thing, Higman says, “is the fastest way that we see states accelerate renewable-energy deployment.”

Rhode Island’s policy does leave some room for improvement. Its focus on renewables looks past New England’s largest source of carbon-free energy: fission. Just two nuclear power plants (Millstone in Connecticut and Seabrook in New Hampshire) pump out more than a fifth of the region’s electricity. A more inclusive policy might take note and incentivize nuclear power, too.

Perhaps most important, any discussion of energy policy should note that Rhode Island’s grid doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s linked in with the grids of its surrounding states in New England, New York, and beyond. (Indeed, it has repeatedly partnered on setting goals and building new offshore wind power.)

If neighboring states implement similarly aggressive standards without actually building new energy capacity, then there’s a chance that when all the renewable energy certificates are bought out, some states won’t have any renewable energy left.

But analysts are optimistic that Rhode Island can do the job. “Rhode Island does deserve some kudos for this policy,” says Wang.

“It’s really tempting to applaud states for their goals. This is a useful example of where setting a goal is not very meaningful,” adds Higman. “Identifying the means and strategies and technologies to achieve that goal is the most important thing. And Rhode Island has done that.”


Match ID: 37 Score: 31.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 20.00 europe, 11.43 eu

Manchester City close to signing Sergio Gómez from Anderlecht
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 20:22:21 GMT
  • Fee of more than €10m agreed for Spain Under-21 left-back
  • City will decide whether to keep Gómez or loan him to Girona

Manchester City are closing in on a deal to sign the Spanish left-back Sergio Gómez from Anderlecht.

City will pay a fee in excess of €10m (£8.5m) for the 21-year-old, who will provide cover and competition for João Cancelo after Oleksandr Zinchenko was allowed to join Arsenal for £30m. The final details of the transfer are being discussed with the Belgian club with the deal set to be finalised soon.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 38 Score: 30.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 30.00 spain

Chelsea strikers continue to leave with Tuchel short of replacements | Jacob Steinberg
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 20:00:32 GMT

Timo Werner has returned to RB Leipzig and Tuchel has only Raheem Sterling as a guaranteed source of goals

One by one, the attacking disappointments are heading out of the exit door at Stamford Bridge. Romelu Lukaku has already gone, loaned back to Internazionale a year after joining Chelsea for a record £97.5m, and now Timo Werner has followed his fellow forward in choosing to bring a premature end to his underwhelming spell in England.

Like Lukaku, Werner has decided to head back to the place where he played his best football. The Germany striker is returning to RB Leipzig in a deal worth around £25m, a mere two years after leaving the Bundesliga club for £47.5m, and while it was impossible not to admire the 25-year-old’s effort in a Chelsea shirt it is difficult to argue with Thomas Tuchel’s decision to let him leave.

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Match ID: 39 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 germany

Nokia lawsuit forces Oppo and OnePlus out of the German market
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 17:41:07 +0000
Nokia and Oppo fight over patent renewal fees, just like in a TV carriage dispute.
Match ID: 40 Score: 25.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 germany

Solar-to-Jet-Fuel System Readies for Takeoff
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 17:00:00 +0000


As climate change edges from crisis to emergency, the aviation sector looks set to miss its 2050 goal of net-zero emissions. In the five years preceding the pandemic, the top four U.S. airlines—American, Delta, Southwest, and United—saw a 15 percent increase in the use of jet fuel. Despite continual improvements in engine efficiencies, that number is projected to keep rising.

A glimmer of hope, however, comes from solar fuels. For the first time, scientists and engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have reported a successful demonstration of an integrated fuel-production plant for solar kerosene. Using concentrated solar energy, they were able to produce kerosene from water vapor and carbon dioxide directly from air. Fuel thus produced is a drop-in alternative to fossil-derived fuels and can be used with existing storage and distribution infrastructures, and engines.

Fuels derived from synthesis gas (or syngas)—an intermediate product that is a specific mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen—is a known alternative to conventional, fossil-derived fuels. Syngas is produced by Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis, in which chemical reactions convert carbon monoxide and water vapor into hydrocarbons. The team of researchers at ETH found that a solar-driven thermochemical method to split water and carbon dioxide using a metal oxide redox cycle can produce renewable syngas. They demonstrated the process in a rooftop solar refinery at the ETH Machine Laboratory in 2019.

Close-up of a spongy looking material Reticulated porous structure made of ceria used in the solar reactor to thermochemically split CO2 and H2O and produce syngas, a specific mixture of H2 and CO.ETH Zurich

The current pilot-scale solar tower plant was set up at the IMDEA Energy Institute in Spain. It scales up the solar reactor of the 2019 experiment by a factor of 10, says Aldo Steinfeld, an engineering professor at ETH who led the study. The fuel plant brings together three subsystems—the solar tower concentrating facility, solar reactor, and gas-to-liquid unit.

First, a heliostat field made of mirrors that rotate to follow the sun concentrates solar irradiation into a reactor mounted on top of the tower. The reactor is a cavity receiver lined with reticulated porous ceramic structures made of ceria (or cerium(IV) oxide). Within the reactor, the concentrated sunlight creates a high-temperature environment of about 1,500 °C which is hot enough to split captured carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere to produce syngas. Finally, the syngas is processed to kerosene in the gas-to-liquid unit. A centralized control room operates the whole system.

Fuel produced using this method closes the fuel carbon cycle as it only produces as much carbon dioxide as has gone into its manufacture. “The present pilot fuel plant is still a demonstration facility for research purposes,” says Steinfeld, “but it is a fully integrated plant and uses a solar-tower configuration at a scale that is relevant for industrial implementation.”

“The solar reactor produced syngas with selectivity, purity, and quality suitable for FT synthesis,” the authors noted in their paper. They also reported good material stability for multiple consecutive cycles. They observed a value of 4.1 percent solar-to-syngas energy efficiency, which Steinfeld says is a record value for thermochemical fuel production, even though better efficiencies are required to make the technology economically competitive.

Schematic of the solar tower fuel plant.  A heliostat field concentrates solar radiation onto a solar reactor mounted on top of the solar tower. The solar reactor cosplits water and carbon dioxide and produces a mixture of molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which in turn is processed to drop-in fuels such as kerosene.ETH Zurich

“The measured value of energy conversion efficiency was obtained without any implementation of heat recovery,” he says. The heat rejected during the redox cycle of the reactor accounted for more than 50 percent of the solar-energy input. “This fraction can be partially recovered via thermocline heat storage. Thermodynamic analyses indicate that sensible heat recovery could potentially boost the energy efficiency to values exceeding 20 percent.”

To do so, more work is needed to optimize the ceramic structures lining the reactor, something the ETH team is actively working on, by looking at 3D-printed structures for improved volumetric radiative absorption. “In addition, alternative material compositions, that is, perovskites or aluminates, may yield improved redox capacity, and consequently higher specific fuel output per mass of redox material,” Steinfeld adds.

The next challenge for the researchers, he says, is the scale-up of their technology for higher solar-radiative power inputs, possibly using an array of solar cavity-receiver modules on top of the solar tower.

To bring solar kerosene into the market, Steinfeld envisages a quota-based system. “Airlines and airports would be required to have a minimum share of sustainable aviation fuels in the total volume of jet fuel that they put in their aircraft,” he says. This is possible as solar kerosene can be mixed with fossil-based kerosene. This would start out small, as little as 1 or 2 percent, which would raise the total fuel costs at first, though minimally—adding “only a few euros to the cost of a typical flight,” as Steinfeld puts it

Meanwhile, rising quotas would lead to investment, and to falling costs, eventually replacing fossil-derived kerosene with solar kerosene. “By the time solar jet fuel reaches 10 to 15 percent of the total jet-fuel volume, we ought to see the costs for solar kerosene nearing those of fossil-derived kerosene,” he adds.

However, we may not have to wait too long for flights to operate solely on solar fuel. A commercial spin-off of Steinfeld’s laboratory, Synhelion, is working on commissioning the first industrial-scale solar fuel plant in 2023. The company has also collaborated with the airline SWISS to conduct a flight solely using its solar kerosene.


Match ID: 41 Score: 21.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 12.86 spain, 8.57 eu

Eurovision 2023: UK host city will need to cancel other events to make way for contest
Wed, 10 Aug 2022 02:21:41 GMT
Council officials confirm Eurovision organisers need access to a venue six weeks ahead of the contest.
Match ID: 42 Score: 20.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler concedes in Washington state
Tue, 9 Aug 2022 21:12:32 EDT
She is one of three pro-impeachment Republicans likely to be defeated this cycle.
Match ID: 43 Score: 20.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Ex-Twitter employee found guilty of spying on Saudi dissidents
Wed, 10 Aug 2022 00:32:39 GMT

Ahmad Abouammo found to have given users’ personal information to Mohammed bin Salman’s aide

A former Twitter employee has been found guilty of spying on Saudi dissidents using the social media platform and passing their personal information to a close aide of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A jury in a federal court in California found Ahmad Abouammo, a dual US-Lebanese national, had acted as an unregistered agent of the Saudi government.

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Match ID: 44 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Could Trump Go Down Like Al Capone?
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 22:59:25 +0000

Eliot Ness got Al Capone on tax evasion. Merrick Garland may get Donald Trump in a leak investigation.

The post Could Trump Go Down Like Al Capone? appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 45 Score: 20.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Worst blaze in Cuba’s history finally under control at oil depot
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 22:38:21 GMT

Fire destroyed 40% of island’s main fuel storage facility over five days and caused blackouts

Firefighters have finally overcame what officials described as the worst blaze in Cuba’s history that over five days destroyed 40% of the Caribbean island’s main fuel storage facility and caused blackouts.

Raging flames that ravaged a four-tank segment of the Matanzas super tanker port had died down on Tuesday and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the area were diminished and now mostly gray.

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Match ID: 46 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Top House Republican McCarthy threatens to investigate search of Trump’s home – as it happened
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 21:15:21 GMT

Kevin McCarthy says he’ll consider creating special committee to investigate FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home

Barbara McQuade at USA Today explains quite why the FBI and justice department might be concerned about White House documents being left lying around a Trump residence like Mar-a-Lago. It isn’t just a matter of wanting to retain a complete record of Trump’s time in office for the sake of it. She writes:

Mishandling classified information is a serious crime because it puts at risk sources and methods of information relating to national security. If the content of the documents were to end up in the wrong hands, the identity of government sources could become known and their lives put at risk. Or our methods of collecting information, such as technological capabilities, could become known, undermining their utility. You can’t leave boxes lying around when they contain the kinds of government secrets that can get people killed, even if you’re the former president.

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Match ID: 47 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr to fight at London's O2 Arena in October
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 20:47:43 GMT
Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr will fight at London's O2 Arena on Saturday, 8 October, almost 30 years since their fathers shared one of the most iconic rivalries in British boxing history.
Match ID: 48 Score: 20.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

China’s secretive space plane flies higher and longer than before
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 20:06:51 +0000
So what is it doing up there? Secret, space-y stuff, of course.
Match ID: 49 Score: 20.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Occidental Petroleum stock surges after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway boosts stake by $390 million
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 19:06:31 GMT

Shares of Occidental Petroleum Corp. rallied 3.6% in afternoon trading Tuesday, enough to pace the S&P 500's energy sector gainers, after the oil and natural gas company disclosed that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. boosted its stake in Occidental to more than 20%. Occidental disclosed in a late-Monday filing that Berkshire Hathaway increased its investment in Occidental by 6.68 million shares, valued at $390.72 million, to 188.37 million shares, or 20.2% of the shares outstanding. At current prices, Berkshire Hathaway's common stock stake is valued at $11.72 billion. The shares were purchased in a series of transactions from Aug. 4 through Aug. 8, at a weighted average price of $58.4763, according to a MarketWatch analysis of filing data. That price is 6.0% below current levels. The purchase further distances Berkshire Hathaway as Occidental's largest shareholder, as the second-largest shareholder is Dodge & Cox at 10.75%, according to FactSet data. Occidental's stock has soared 114.6% year to date, while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF has climbed 34.3% and the S&P 500 has shed 13.5%.

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: 50 Score: 20.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

It’s official: US chipmakers will receive billions in grants and tax breaks
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 19:00:04 +0000
The CHIPS and Science Act authorizes subsidies up to $200 billion over 10 years.
Match ID: 51 Score: 20.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Republicans cry foul: FBI raid could re-tighten Trump’s grip on party
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 18:22:21 GMT

Trump’s influence seemed to be waning – but the sight of federal agents searching Mar-a-Lago has rallied Republicans

The FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago on Monday has galvanized the American right, raising the prospect that Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican party could strengthen at a time when the former president had been losing it.

After Trump announced in a statement that his resort and residence was “currently under siege, raided, and occupied”, angry supporters rushed there to protest as police with rifles looked on. “All the media are against Trump, and I’m fed up with it,” a supporter holding a sign saying “Fake news” told a Reuters reporter.

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Match ID: 52 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Meta’s new AI chatbot can’t stop bashing Facebook
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 18:14:09 GMT

Launched on Friday, the conversational AI fueled by material found online spews uncomfortable truths and blatant lies

If you’re worried that artificial intelligence is getting too smart, talking to Meta’s AI chatbot might make you feel better.

Launched on Friday, BlenderBot is a prototype of Meta’s conversational AI, which, according to Facebook’s parent company, can converse on nearly any topic. On the demo website, members of the public are invited to chat with the tool and share feedback with developers. The results thus far, writers at Buzzfeed and Vice have pointed out, have been rather interesting.

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Match ID: 53 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

UK postal workers to strike for four days in pay dispute
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 17:45:38 GMT

CWU says action will take place in August and September unless Royal Mail ‘gets real’ with ‘dignified’ rise

More than 115,000 UK postal workers are to stage a series of strikes in the coming weeks in a dispute over pay.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said it would be the biggest strike of the summer so far to demand a “dignified, proper pay rise”.

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Match ID: 54 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Government needs a big-bang solution or faces consequences of rising energy bills
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 17:29:15 GMT

New prime minister must drop small state rhetoric and come up with response to impending crisis

Hard though it is to remember, the UK’s energy price cap was originally marketed as a modest measure designed to protect households on expensive variable tariffs from being fleeced. Nobody in early 2019 had the slightest inkling that by the summer of 2022 it would be a key barometer of the UK’s economic health.

Yet here we are – one pandemic and one unfinished war later – on tenterhooks for the latest intelligence on what is likely to happen to household gas and electricity bills this winter.

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Match ID: 55 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Mark Cuban says buying virtual real estate is 'the dumbest s--- ever' as metaverse hype appears to be fading
2022-08-09T15:56:55+00:00
Mark Cuban says buying virtual real estate is 'the dumbest s--- ever' as metaverse hype appears to be fading submitted by /u/chrisdh79
[link] [comments]

Match ID: 56 Score: 20.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Strikes expected at Felixstowe port as pay talks end without agreement
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 15:42:35 GMT

Dock workers at vital Suffolk container port offered 7% pay rise and £500 lump sum

Talks between the Unite union and the company that runs Felixstowe port, which were aimed at stopping an eight-day strike by dock workers at Britain’s busiest container port, have ended without a deal.

Negotiations came to an end despite the company’s new offer of a £500 bonus for each of the 1,900 dock workers, who have already voted in favour of strike action between 21 and 29 August amid a pay dispute with the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company.

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Match ID: 57 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

iRobot CEO Colin Angle on Data Privacy and Robots in the Home
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 15:41:53 +0000


Editor’s note: Last week, Amazon announced that it was acquiring iRobot for $1.7 billion, prompting questions about how iRobot’s camera-equipped robot vacuums will protect the data that they collect about your home. In September of 2017, we spoke with iRobot CEO Colin Angle about iRobot’s approach to data privacy, directly addressing many similar concerns. “The views expressed in the Q&A from 2017 remain true,” iRobot told us. “Over the past several years, iRobot has continued to do more to strengthen, and clearly define, its stance on privacy and security. It’s important to note that iRobot takes product security and customer privacy very seriously. We know our customers invite us into their most personal spaces—their homes—because they trust that our products will help them do more. We take that trust seriously."

The article from 7 September 2017 follows:

About a month ago, iRobot CEO Colin Angle mentioned something about sharing Roomba mapping data in an interview with Reuters. It got turned into a data privacy kerfuffle in a way that iRobot did not intend and (probably) did not deserve, as evidenced by their immediate clarification that iRobot will not sell your data or share it without your consent.

Data privacy is important, of course, especially for devices that live in your home with you. But as robots get more capable, the amount of data that they collect will increase, and sharing that data in a useful, thoughtful, and considerate way could make smart homes way smarter. To understand how iRobot is going to make this happen, we spoke with Angle about keeping your data safe, integrating robots with the future smart home, and robots that can get you a beer.

Were you expecting such a strong reaction on data privacy when you spoke with Reuters?

Colin Angle: We were all a little surprised, but it gave us an opportunity to talk a little more explicitly about our plans on that front. In order for your house to work smarter, the house needs to understand itself. If you want to be able to say, “Turn on the lights in the kitchen,” then the home needs to be able to understand what the kitchen is, and what lights are in the kitchen. And if you want that to work with a third-party device, you need a trusted, customer-in-control mechanism to allow that to happen. So, it’s not about selling data, it’s about usefully linking together different devices to make your home actually smart. The interesting part is that the limiting factor in making your home intelligent isn’t AI, it’s context. And that’s what I was talking about to Reuters.

What kinds of data can my Roomba 980 collect about my home?

Angle: The robot uses its sensors [including its camera] to understand where it is and create visual landmarks, things that are visually distinctive that it can recognize again. As the robot explores the home as a vacuum, it knows where it is relative to where it started, and it creates a 2D map of the home. None of the images ever leave the robot; the only map information that leaves the robot would be if the customer says, “I would like to see where the robot went,” and then the map is processed into a prettier form and sent up to the cloud and to your phone. If you don’t want to see it, it stays on the robot and never leaves the robot.

Do you think that there’s a perception that these maps contain much more private information about our homes than they really do?

Angle: I think that if you look at [the map], you know exactly what it is. In the future, we’d like it to have more detail, so that you could give more sophisticated commands to the robot, from “Could you vacuum my kitchen?” in which case the robot needs to know where the kitchen is, to [in the future], “Go to the kitchen and get me a beer.” In that case, the robot needs to know where the kitchen is, where the refrigerator is, what a beer is, and how to grab it. We’re at a very benign point right now, and we’re trying to establish a foundation of trust with our customers about how they have control over their data. Over time, when we want our homes to be smarter, you’ll be able to allow your robot to better understand your home, so it can do things that you would like it to do, in a trusted fashion.

“Robots are viewed as creatures in the home. That’s both exciting and a little scary at the same time, because people anthropomorphize and attribute much more intelligence to them than they do to a smart speaker.”

Fundamentally, would the type of information that this sort of robot would be sharing with third parties be any more invasive than an Amazon Echo or Google Home?

Angle: Robots have this inherent explosive bit of interest, because they’re viewed as creatures in your home. That’s both exciting and a little scary at the same time, because people anthropomorphize and attribute much more intelligence to them than they do to a smart speaker. The amount of information that one of these robots collect is, in many ways, much less, but because it moves, it really captures people’s imagination.

Why do you think people seem to be more concerned about the idea of robots sharing their data?

Angle: I think it’s the idea that you’d have a “robot spy” in your home. Your home is your sanctuary, and people rightfully want their privacy. If we have something gathering data in their home, we’re beyond the point where a company can exploit their customers by stealthily gathering data and selling it to other people. The things you buy and place in your home are there to benefit you, not some third party. That was the fear that was unleashed by this idea of gathering and selling data unbeknownst to the customer. At iRobot, we’ve said, “Look, we’re not going to do this, we’re not going to sell your data.” We don’t even remember your map unless you tell us we can. Our very explicit strategy is building this trusted relationship with our customers, so that they feel good about the benefits that Roomba has.

How could robots like Roomba eventually come to understand more about our homes to enable more sophisticated functionality?

Angle: We’re in the land of R&D here, not Roomba products, but certainly there exists object-recognition technology that can determine what a refrigerator is, what a television is, what a table is. It would be pretty straightforward to say, if the room contains a refrigerator and an oven, it’s probably the kitchen. If a room has a bed, it’s probably a bedroom. You’ll never be 100 percent right, but rooms have purposes, and we’re certainly on a path where just by observing, a robot could identify a room.

What else do you think a robot like a Roomba could ultimately understand about your home?

Angle: We’re working on a number of things, some of which we’re happy to talk about and some of which less so at this point in time. But, why should your thermostat be on the wall? Why is one convenient place on the wall of one room the right place to measure temperature from, as opposed to where you like to sit? When you get into home control, your sensor location can be critically tied to the operation of your home. The opportunity to have the robot carry sensors with it around the home would allow the expansion from a point reading to a 2D or 3D map of those readings. As a result, the customer has a lot more control over [for example] how loud the stereo system is at a specific point, or what the temperature is at a specific point. You could also detect anomalies in the home if things are not working the way the customer would like them to work. Those are some simple examples of why moving a sensor around would matter.

“There’s a pretty sizeable market for webcams in the home. People are interested in security and intruder detection, and also in how their pets are doing. But invariably, what you want to see is not what your camera is pointing at. That’s something where a robot makes a lot more sense.”

Another good example would be, there’s actually a pretty sizeable market for webcams in the home. People are interested in security and intruder detection, and also in how their pets are doing. But invariably, what you want to see is not what your camera is currently pointing at. Some people fill up their homes with cameras, or you put a camera on a robot, and it moves to where you want to look. That’s something where a robot makes a lot more sense, and it’s interesting, if I want to have privacy in our home and yet still have a camera I can use, it’s actually a great idea to put one on a robot, because when the robot isn’t in the room with you, it can’t see you. So, the metaphor is a lot closer to if you had a butler in your home— when they’re not around, you can have your privacy back. This is a metaphor that I think works really well as we try to architect smart homes that are both aware of themselves, and yet afford privacy.

So a mobile robot equipped with sensors and mapping technology to be able to understand your home in this way could act like a smart home manager?

Angle: A spatial information organizer. There’s a hub with a chunk of software that controls everything, and that’s not necessarily the same thing as what the robot would do. What Apple and Amazon and various smart home companies are doing are trying to build hubs where everything connects to them, but in order for these hubs to be actually smart, they need what I call spatial content: They need to understand what’s a room, and what’s in a room for the entire home. Ultimately, the home itself is turning into a robot, and if the robot’s not aware of itself, it can’t do the right things.

“A robot needs to understand what’s a room, and what’s in a room, for the entire home. Ultimately, the home itself is turning into a robot, and if the robot’s not aware of itself, it can’t do the right things.”

So, if you wanted to walk into a room and have the lights turn on and the heat come up, and if you started watching television and then left the room and wanted the television to turn off in the room you’d left and turn on in the room you’d gone to, all of those types of experiences where the home is seamlessly reacting to you require an understanding of rooms and what’s in each room. You can brute force that with lots of cameras and custom programming for your home, but I don’t believe that installations like this can be successful or scale. The solution where you own a Roomba anyway, and it just gives you all this information enabling your home to be smart, that’s an exciting vision of how we’re actually going to get smart homes.

What’s your current feeling about mobile manipulators in the home?

Angle: We’re getting there. In order for manipulation in the home to make sense, you need to know where you are, right? What’s the point of being able to get something if you don’t know where it is. So this idea that we need these maps that have information embedded in them about where stuff is and the ability to actually segment objects—there’s a hierarchy of understanding. You need to know where a room is as a first step. You need to identify where objects are—that’s recognition of larger objects. Then you need to be able to open a door, say, and now you’re processing larger objects to find handles that you can reach out and grab. The ability to do all of these things exists in research labs, and to an increasing degree in manufacturing facilities. We’re past the land of invention of the proof of principle, and into the land of, could we reduce this to a consumer price point that would make sense to people in the home. We’re well on the way—we will definitely see this kind of robot in, I would say, five to 10 years, we’ll have robots that can go and get you a beer. I don’t think it’s going to be a lot shorter than that, because we have a few steps to go, but it’s less invention and more engineering.

We should note that we spoke with Angle just before Neato announced their new D7 robot vacuum, which adds persistent, actionable maps, arguably the first step towards a better understanding of the home. Since Roombas already have the ability to make a similar sort of map, based on the sorts of things that Angle spoke about in our interview we’re expecting to see iRobot add a substantial amount of intelligence and functionality to the Roomba in the very near future.


Match ID: 58 Score: 20.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Crypto and the US government are headed for a decisive showdown
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:52:46 +0000
Lawsuits may decide whether most digital assets are illegal securities offerings.
Match ID: 59 Score: 20.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

It’s a monster mash! How the V&A is facing a transatlantic battle over a 7ft Frankenstein figure
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:49:07 GMT

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is demanding the return of the 1930s movie prop – but its London rival is not giving up without a fight

Name: Frankenstein’s monster.

Age: 87.

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Match ID: 60 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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Small businesses count cost of Apple’s privacy changes
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 13:29:23 +0000
Online brands reliant on personalized ads ramp back marketing spending.
Match ID: 61 Score: 20.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Kenyans go to polls against backdrop of soaring cost of living
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 12:51:02 GMT

Tough economic realities have pushed campaigns beyond ethnic and personality-driven politics

Millions of Kenyans have been voting in an election that pits the longtime opposition politician Raila Odinga against the deputy president, William Ruto.

In Kayole, a poor neighbourhood in the capital, Nairobi, residents woke up to the sound of vuvuzelas and whistles from 4am – a rallying call to get out and vote.

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Match ID: 62 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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China used drills to prepare for invasion, Taiwan foreign minister says
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 12:26:53 GMT

Tensions high as Taiwan begins live-fire drills and China continues military exercises it started after US speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei last week

China used its military drills last week to prepare for an invasion of Taiwan, and its anger over US speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit was just an excuse, Taiwan’s foreign minister has said.

The minister, Joseph Wu, addressed the media on Tuesday morning, as China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continued with military exercises it began last week, and Taiwan started its own live-fire drills. Wu accused China of “gross violations of international law”.

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Match ID: 63 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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Spyware is huge threat to global human rights and democracy, expert warns
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 12:16:49 GMT

Cybersecurity expert Ron Deibert to testify to Canadian MPs about troubling spread of invasive surveillance tools

The mercenary spyware industry represents “one of the greatest contemporary threats to civil society, human rights and democracy”, a leading cybersecurity expert warns, as countries grapple with the unregulated spread of powerful and invasive surveillance tools.

Ron Deibert, a political science professor at the university of Toronto and head of Citizen Lab, will testify in front of a Canadian parliamentary committee on Tuesday afternoon about the growing threat he and others believe the technology poses to citizens and democracies.

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Yet more disgrace for Trump as the FBI raid Mar-a-Lago. Of course, he’s milking it | Marina Hyde
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 12:12:36 GMT

Law enforcement agents searched the 45th president’s mansion – and gave him another reason to run in 2024

Devastating news for the future Trump Presidential Library, already suffering acute supply problems after recent reports that the former US president frequently ripped up presidential papers and clogged toilets with them (home and abroad). Last night, the FBI carried out a raid on Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach mansion in which Trump currently resides, sharing only several of its communal areas with paying Floridians. The raid – or “assault”, as Trump would have it – is thought to be related to his already-proven removal of records from the White House at the end of his administration, but could reasonably be linked to a number of active lawsuits and investigations currently being faced by the 45th president.

Even so, it’s a development that has hit Trump and his family hard. Or opportunely, depending on how you look at it – and more on that later. “These are dark times for our Nation,” began an overnight statement by the former president, talking like a Star Wars opening crawl. Trump went on to say his property was “under siege”, which feels a little histrionic. Surely this was just a harmless law enforcement rally that mildly got out of hand, though not in a way that saw five people end up dead, a gibbet erected on the croquet lawn and small-state golfers barricading themselves into executive restrooms in genuine and rational fear of their lives?

Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist

What Just Happened?! by Marina Hyde is published by Guardian Faber (£20). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

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Match ID: 65 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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Brazilians fear return to dictatorship as ‘deranged’ Bolsonaro trails in polls
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 11:00:27 GMT

Hundreds of thousands sign pro-democracy manifesto amid fears the president will promote Trump-style insurrection against democracy

They were cruel, brutish years. Dissidents languished in torture chambers. Rebels were shot in cold blood. Artists fled abroad.

“It was a time of constant sorrow and fear,” the Brazilian lawyer and former justice minister José Carlos Dias said of the military dictatorship that hijacked his country in 1964 and would rule for more than two decades. “Violence wasn’t just something the torturers enjoyed. It was government policy.”

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Match ID: 66 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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United States returns looted Bronze Age treasures to Cambodia
Tue, 9 Aug 2022 06:46:46 EDT
The 30 looted Cambodian artifacts were sold by antiquities dealer Douglas Latchford and other illegal networks to U.S. museums.
Match ID: 67 Score: 20.00 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Bank of England will probably need to raise rates again, says deputy governor
Tue, 09 Aug 2022 08:39:45 GMT

Central bank must tackle inflation pressures that are gaining foothold in UK economy, says Dave Ramsden

The Bank of England will probably have to raise interest rates further from their current 14 year-high to tackle inflationary pressures that are gaining a foothold in Britain’s economy, its deputy governor, Dave Ramsden, has said.

The spread of inflation was showing up in rising British pay and companies’ pricing plans, having originally been triggered by the reopening of the world economy from Covid-19 lockdowns and then by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ramsden said.

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Match ID: 68 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Ambulance Rides Still Aren’t Protected From Surprise Billing — and Subscriptions Do Little to Help
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 16:20:43 +0000

As the Biden administration flounders on its pledge to remedy surprise ground ambulance bills, local EMS subscription programs offer shoddy safety nets.

The post Ambulance Rides Still Aren’t Protected From Surprise Billing — and Subscriptions Do Little to Help appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 69 Score: 20.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Sim, vocês podem: quem é o homem de Obama na equipe de Lula
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 14:41:45 +0000

Campanha presidencial de Lula vai adaptar estratégia digital usada por Barack Obama para mobilizar voluntários.

The post Sim, vocês podem: quem é o homem de Obama na equipe de Lula appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 70 Score: 20.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

The Best Theragun (and Other Great Massage Guns)
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 13:00:00 +0000
Therabody’s percussive therapy devices help soothe achy muscles. Here’s our guide to its lineup—and some cheaper alternatives.
Match ID: 71 Score: 20.00 source: www.wired.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

NIST’s Post-Quantum Cryptography Standards
2022-08-08T11:20:29Z

Quantum computing is a completely new paradigm for computers. A quantum computer uses quantum properties such as superposition, which allows a qubit (a quantum bit) to be neither 0 nor 1, but something much more complicated. In theory, such a computer can solve problems too complex for conventional computers.

Current quantum computers are still toy prototypes, and the engineering advances required to build a functionally useful quantum computer are somewhere between a few years away and impossible. Even so, we already know that that such a computer could potentially factor large numbers and compute discrete logs, and break the RSA and Diffie-Hellman public-key algorithms in all of the useful key sizes...


Match ID: 72 Score: 20.00 source: www.schneier.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Taiwan prepares for life underground amid China threat – in pictures
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 06:00:06 GMT

Taiwan is preparing air-raid shelters in underground spaces such as basement car parks, the subway system and subterranean shopping centres as fears of a Chinese attack increase. The capital, Taipei, has more than 4,600 such shelters that can accommodate 12 million people, more than four times its population. Reporting by Yimou Lee and Fabian Hamacher/Reuters

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Match ID: 73 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
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Kenya election: shifting alliances and economic woe to fore
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 04:00:02 GMT

Raila Odinga is leading William Ruto in the polls but the latter hopes his ‘hustler’ image will win him votes among the poor

Kenyans are heading to the ballot box on Tuesday after a campaign season marked by a shift in ethnic alliances and two big-ticket issues: the cost of living crisis and high unemployment.

The race pits presidential frontrunners Raila Odinga, the former prime minister, and deputy president William Ruto against each other in a hotly contested race. Polls place Odinga in the lead.

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Match ID: 74 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

London museum to return 72 Benin treasures to Nigeria
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 21:31:21 GMT

Horniman museum is first government-funded institution to hand back artefacts looted by British forces in 1897

A London museum is to return 72 treasured artefacts, including its collection of Benin bronzes, to Nigeria in what experts described as an “immensely significant” moment.

The Horniman museum said it would transfer the ownership of the historic objects to the Nigerian government after an unanimous vote by its board of trustees.

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Match ID: 75 Score: 20.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Horniman Museum to return 72 artefacts to Nigeria
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 15:18:20 GMT
The chair of the Horniman Museum said it was "moral" to return items taken by "force" years ago.
Match ID: 76 Score: 20.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 2 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Amazon’s One-Stop Shop for Identity Thieves
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 12:00:04 +0000

Public Amazon registries could reveal enough information to steal the identity of someone who hasn’t been born yet.

The post Amazon’s One-Stop Shop for Identity Thieves appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 77 Score: 20.00 source: theintercept.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

What to Ask Your Doctor If You’re Getting Medical Tech Implanted
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 11:00:00 +0000
From pacemakers to insulin pumps, more devices exist to help you lead a healthier life. Here's what to talk about before going cyborg.
Match ID: 78 Score: 20.00 source: www.wired.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 20.00 eu

Israel bombs Gaza Strip for second day in ‘pre-emptive operation’
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 16:41:10 GMT

Health authorities in Palestinian enclave report 24 dead in Israeli attacks targeting Islamic Jihad

Residents of the Gaza Strip were bracing for the possibility of a new round of war on Saturday after two days of “pre-emptive” Israeli airstrikes against a Palestinian militant group.

Israeli warplanes hit several sites in the blockaded territory on Friday, part of a surprise operation named “Breaking Dawn” that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said thwarted alleged planned rocket attacks by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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Match ID: 79 Score: 17.14 source: www.theguardian.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 17.14 eu

Revealed: UK ran cold war dirty tricks campaign to smear Kenya’s first vice-president
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 16:00:19 GMT

Special unit spread fake news about leftist politician, Oginga Odinga, seen as threat to British interests in 1960s

British cold war propagandists smeared Kenyan vice-president Oginga Odinga in the 1960s in “black” propaganda operations, newly declassified files reveal.

The Foreign Office’s propaganda arm, the Information Research Department (IRD), targeted the Kenyan nationalist in a three-year campaign run by its dirty tricks section, the Special Editorial Unit (SEU).

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Match ID: 80 Score: 17.14 source: www.theguardian.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 17.14 eu

Afghanistan: bomb in Kabul shopping street kills eight people
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 14:18:42 GMT

The explosion happened in a western district where the minority Shia Muslim community regularly meet

A bomb exploded in a busy shopping street in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Saturday killed eight people and injured at least 22, hospital officials and witnesses said.

The blast occurred in a western district of the city where members of the minority Shia Muslim community regularly meet.

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Match ID: 81 Score: 17.14 source: www.theguardian.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 17.14 eu

Should Doctors Break the Law?
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 11:00:49 +0000

As abortion bans compel them to endanger patients, some are considering civil disobedience.

The post Should Doctors Break the Law? appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 82 Score: 17.14 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 17.14 eu

Bolsonaro consegue a façanha de unir CUT e Fiesp em manifesto
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 06:00:02 +0000

Dois documentos pró-democracia reúnem entidades historicamente antagônicas. Mesmo sem ser citado, Bolsonaro vestiu o chapéu e partiu para o ataque.

The post Bolsonaro consegue a façanha de unir CUT e Fiesp em manifesto appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 83 Score: 17.14 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 17.14 eu

The Richer They Get, the More Meat They Eat
Thu, 28 Jul 2022 15:00:00 +0000


“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” the eminent geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote in 1973. That goes for the human diet.

We are omnivores, not herbivores. Natural selection has formed us to eat both plant and animal foods and to like doing so. Chimpanzees, the primates that are genetically the closest to us, deliberately hunt, kill, and eat small monkeys, wild pigs, and tortoises, annually consuming 4 to 12 kilograms of meat per capita for the entire population and up to 25 kg per adult male; that is more than in many preindustrial farming societies.


It is well to keep this biological fact in mind when considering outlandish claims about the imminent victory of veganism. We are told that “much of the world is trending towards plant-based eating,” and it is expected that the global demand for that diet will nearly quintuple between 2016 and 2026. Are we in fact seeing a revolutionary change in behavior?

Half a century is surely plenty of time to discern a trend, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has the relevant data. The world’s production of meat and poultry reached about 100 million tonnes in 1970, 233 million tonnes in 2000, and 325 million tonnes in 2020. That represents a tripling since 1970. Even after accounting for the intervening population growth, per capita meat consumption rose by 55 percent during the 50 years. This was as you would expect, because as people get richer they can buy more of the food they really want.

Since 1970, there has been a 55 percent increase in worldwide average per capita meat consumption.

There have been many variations, arising from differences in religion, incomes, and shifting tastes. Of all the populous nations, only Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, and Nigeria continue to eat very little meat. In 2020, average supply rates in India and Bangladesh were still below 5 kg of carcass weight per year, per capita—a bit less than in Ethiopia. But in most of the world’s populous countries per capita meat supply has increased spectacularly during the past 50 years: In Pakistan it has doubled (still only to 16 kg); in Turkey and the Philippines, the rate has more than doubled (in both countries to nearly 40 kg); it has tripled in Egypt (to about 30 kg); Brazil’s supply has more than tripled, to 100 kg; and in China it rose more than sevenfold, from only about 9 to just over 60 kg.

Not surprisingly, meat consumption has changed little in highly carnivorous countries, including Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom, and it has declined a bit in Denmark, France, and Germany. This small decline does constitute a trend, having to do with the avoidance of fatty red meat by many younger consumers, higher intakes of seafood, and the conversion of very small numbers of people to largely vegetarian (if not entirely vegan) diets. This moderation is indeed a welcome shift, because the nutritional benefits of meat are not predicated on consuming it in large amounts.

Yet even in those rich countries in which the consumption of meat has reached new heights, such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, it has led to no demonstrable ill effects on health. Spain is the best example: Since 1975, its average meat supply has more than doubled, peaking at 120 kg in 2002 before dropping back to today’s 100 kg. This rise in meat demand was accompanied by a decline in deaths from cardiovascular disease.

In 2019, before COVID could affect survival rates, Spain had a life expectancy at birth (for males and females combined) of 84 years. That number is the highest in the European Union—notwithstanding all that carne de cerdo asada, jamon, and chorizo…

This article appears in the August 2022 print issue as “Meat-Eating Is as Human as Apple Pie.”


Match ID: 84 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 12 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 4.29 spain, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Friday Squid Blogging: New Squid Species
2022-08-05T21:13:36Z

Seems like they are being discovered all the time:

In the past, the DEEPEND crew has discovered three new species of Bathyteuthids, a type of squid that lives in depths between 700 and 2,000 meters. The findings were validated and published in 2020. Another new squid species description is currently in review at the Bulletin of Marine Science.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.


Match ID: 85 Score: 14.29 source: www.schneier.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 14.29 eu

We Interviewed Meta’s New AI Chatbot About … Itself
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 18:43:00 +0000
BlenderBot 3 learns by chatting with you and tries to ignore the trolls. Like so many of us, it’s very much a work in progress.
Match ID: 86 Score: 14.29 source: www.wired.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 14.29 eu

Israel strikes Gaza amid tensions following arrest of Palestinian militant
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 17:33:04 GMT

Palestinian officials say at least 10 dead after Israel said it was preparing to ‘remove the threat from this region’

Israeli warplanes struck numerous sites in the Gaza Strip on Friday in what Israel said was a preemptive strike against Palestinian factions allegedly planning rocket strikes at targets in Israel.

Palestinian health officials reported that at least 10 people died and 55 were wounded in an initial barrage which killed the commander of Islamic Jihad, Tayseer Jabari, in the north of Gaza. Among the fatalities was an eight-year-old girl.

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Match ID: 87 Score: 14.29 source: www.theguardian.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 14.29 eu

FTX-Backed PACs Expand the Crypto Lobby in Congress
Fri, 05 Aug 2022 13:00:01 +0000

As the young industry flounders, crypto resorts to a method tested by its private-sector predecessors: funding the lawmakers who might regulate it.

The post FTX-Backed PACs Expand the Crypto Lobby in Congress appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 88 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 14.29 eu

Digging Into the New QD-OLED TVs
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 20:30:00 +0000


Televisions and computer monitors with QD-OLED displays are now on store shelves. The image quality is—as expected—impressive, with amazing black levels, wide viewing angles, a broad color gamut, and high brightness. The products include:

All these products use display panels manufactured by Samsung but have their own unique display assembly, operating system, and electronics.

I took apart a 55-inch Samsung S95B to learn just how these new displays are put together (destroying it in the process). I found an extremely thin OLED backplane that generates blue light with an equally thin QD color-converting structure that completes the optical stack. I used a UV light source, a microscope, and a spectrometer to learn a lot about how these displays work.


rows of green squares alternating with rows of red and blue squares against a black background

A few surprises:

  • The pixel layout is unique. Instead of being evenly arrayed, the green quantum dots form their own line, separate from the blue and red [see photo, above]. (The blue pixels draw their light directly from the OLED panel, the red and green pixels are lit by quantum dots.)
  • The bandwidth of the native QD emission is so narrow (resulting in a very wide color gamut, that is, the range of colors that can be produced, generally a good thing) that some content doesn’t know how to handle it. So the TV “compresses” the gamut in some cases by adding off-primary colors to bring its primary color points in line with more common gamuts. This is especially dramatic with green, where “pure” green actually contains a significant amount of added red and a small amount of added blue.
  • While taking this thing apart was no easy task, and deconstruction cracked the screen, I was surprised at how easily the QD frontplane and the OLED backplane could be separated. It was easier than splitting an Oreo in half. [See video, below.]



As for the name of this technology, Samsung has used the branding OLED, QD Display, and QD-OLED, while Sony is just using OLED. Alienware uses QD-OLED to describe the new tech (as do most in the display industry).

—Peter Palomaki


Story from January 2022 follows:

For more than a decade now, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays have set the bar for screen quality, albeit at a price. That’s because they produce deep blacks, offer wide viewing angles, and have a broad color range. Meanwhile, QD (quantum dot) technologies have done a lot to improve the color purity and brightness of the more wallet-friendly LCD TVs.

In 2022, these two rival technologies will merge. The name of the resulting hybrid is still evolving, but QD-OLED seems to make sense, so I’ll use it here, although Samsung has begun to call its version of the technology QD Display.

To understand why this combination is so appealing, you have to know the basic principles behind each of these approaches to displaying a moving image.

In an LCD TV, the LED backlight, or at least a big section of it, is on all at once. The picture is created by filtering this light at the many individual pixels. Unfortunately, that filtering process isn’t perfect, and in areas that should appear black some light gets through.

In OLED displays, the red, green, and blue diodes that comprise each pixel emit light and are turned on only when they are needed. So black pixels appear truly black, while bright pixels can be run at full power, allowing unsurpassed levels of contrast.

But there’s a drawback. The colored diodes in an OLED TV degrade over time, causing what’s called “burn-in.” And with these changes happening at different rates for the red, green, and blue diodes, the degradation affects the overall ability of a display to reproduce colors accurately as it ages and also causes “ghost” images to appear where static content is frequently displayed.

Adding QDs into the mix shifts this equation. Quantum dots—nanoparticles of semiconductor material—absorb photons and then use that energy to emit light of a different wavelength. In a QD-OLED display, all the diodes emit blue light. To get red and green, the appropriate diodes are covered with red or green QDs. The result is a paper-thin display with a broad range of colors that remain accurate over time. These screens also have excellent black levels, wide viewing angles, and improved power efficiency over both OLED and LCD displays.

Samsung is the driving force behind the technology, having sunk billions into retrofitting an LCD fab in Tangjeong, South Korea, for making QD-OLED displays While other companies have published articles and demonstrated similar approaches, only

Samsung has committed to manufacturing these displays, which makes sense because it holds all of the required technology in house. Having both the OLED fab and QD expertise under one roof gives Samsung a big leg up on other QD-display manufacturers.,

Samsung first announced QD-OLED plans in 2019, then pushed out the release date a few times. It now seems likely that we will see public demos in early 2022 followed by commercial products later in the year, once the company has geared up for high-volume production. At this point, Samsung can produce a maximum of 30,000 QD-OLED panels a month; these will be used in its own products. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not that much.

Unfortunately, as with any new display technology, there are challenges associated with development and commercialization.

For one, patterning the quantum-dot layers and protecting them is complicated. Unlike QD-enabled LCD displays (commonly referred to as QLED) where red and green QDs are dispersed uniformly in a polymer film, QD-OLED requires the QD layers to be patterned and aligned with the OLEDs behind them. And that’s tricky to do. Samsung is expected to employ inkjet printing, an approach that reduces the waste of QD material.

Another issue is the leakage of blue light through the red and green QD layers. Leakage of only a few percent would have a significant effect on the viewing experience, resulting in washed-out colors. If the red and green QD layers don’t do a good job absorbing all of the blue light impinging on them, an additional blue-blocking layer would be required on top, adding to the cost and complexity.

Another challenge is that blue OLEDs degrade faster than red or green ones do. With all three colors relying on blue OLEDs in a QD-OLED design, this degradation isn’t expected to cause as severe color shifts as with traditional OLED displays, but it does decrease brightness over the life of the display.

Today, OLED TVs are typically the most expensive option on retail shelves. And while the process for making QD-OLED simplifies the OLED layer somewhat (because you need only blue diodes), it does not make the display any less expensive. In fact, due to the large number of quantum dots used, the patterning steps, and the special filtering required, QD-OLED displays are likely to be more expensive than traditional OLED ones—and way more expensive than LCD TVs with quantum-dot color purification. Early adopters may pay about US $5,000 for the first QD-OLED displays when they begin selling later this year. Those buyers will no doubt complain about the prices—while enjoying a viewing experience far better than anything they’ve had before.


Match ID: 89 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 11.43 eu

Tesla’s Autopilot Depends on a Deluge of Data
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 20:28:53 +0000


In 2019, Elon Musk stood up at a Tesla day devoted to automated driving and said, “Essentially everyone’s training the network all the time, is what it amounts to. Whether Autopilot’s on or off, the network is being trained.”

Tesla’s suite of assistive and semi-autonomous technologies, collectively known as Autopilot, is among the most widely deployed—and undeniably the most controversial—driver-assistance systems on the road today. While many drivers love it, using it for a combined total of more than 5 billion kilometers, the technology has been involved in hundreds of crashes, some of them fatal, and is currently the subject of a comprehensive investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This second story—in IEEE Spectrum’s series of three on Tesla’s empire of data (story 1; story 3)—focuses on how Autopilot rests on a foundation of data harvested from the company’s own customers. Although the company’s approach has unparalleled scope and includes impressive technological innovations, it also faces particular challenges—not least of which is Musk’s decision to widely deploy the misleadingly named Full Self-Driving feature as a largely untested beta.

“Right now, automated vehicles are one to two magnitudes below human drivers in terms of safety performance.”
—Henry Liu, Mcity

Most companies working on automated driving rely on a small fleet of highly instrumented test vehicles, festooned with high-resolution cameras, radars, and laser-ranging lidar devices. Some of these have been estimated to generate 750 megabytes of sensor data every second, providing a rich seam of training data for neural networks and other machine-learning systems to improve their driving skills.

Such systems have now effectively solved the task of everyday driving, including for a multitude of road users, different weather conditions, and road types, says Henry Liu, director of Mcity, a public-private mobility research partnership at the University of Michigan.

“But right now, automated vehicles are one to two magnitudes below human drivers in terms of safety performance,” says Liu. “And that’s because current automated vehicles can’t handle the curse of rarity: low-frequency, long-tail, safety-critical events that they just don’t see enough to know how to handle.” Think of a deer suddenly springing into the road, or a slick of spilled fuel.

Tesla’s bold bet is that its own customers can provide the long tail of data needed to boost self-driving cars to superhuman levels of safety. Above and beyond their contractual obligations, many are happy to do so—seeing themselves as willing participants in the development of technology that they have been told will one day soon allow them to simply sit back and enjoy being driven by the car itself.

For a start, the routing information for every trip undertaken in a recent model Autopilot-equipped Tesla is shared with the company—see the the previous installment in this series. But Tesla’s data effort goes far beyond navigation.

In autonomy presentations over the past few years, Musk and Tesla’s then-head of AI, Andrej Karpathy, detailed the company’s approach, including its so-called Shadow Mode.

The back of a Tesla Model S seen in shadow Philipp Mandler/Unsplash

In Shadow Mode, operating on Tesla vehicles since 2016, if the car’s Autopilot computer is not controlling the car, it is simulating the driving process in parallel with the human driver. When its own predictions do not match the driver’s behavior, this might trigger the recording of a short “snapshot” of the car’s cameras, speed, acceleration, and other parameters for later uploading to Tesla. Snapshots are also triggered when a Tesla crashes.

After the snapshots are uploaded, a team may review them to identify human actions that the system should try to imitate, and input them as training data for its neural networks. Or they may notice that the system is failing, for instance, to properly identify road signs obscured by trees.

In that case, engineers can train a detector designed specifically for this scenario and download it to some or all Tesla vehicles. “We can beam it down to the fleet, and we can ask the fleet to please apply this detector on top of everything else you’re doing,” said Karpathy in 2020. If that detector thinks it spots such a road sign, it will capture images from the car’s cameras for later uploading,

His team would quickly receive thousands of images, which they would use to iterate the detector, and eventually roll it out to all production vehicles. “I’m not exactly sure how you build out a data set like this without the fleet,” said Karpathy. An amateur Tesla hacker who tweets using the pseudonym Green told Spectrum that he identified over 900 Autopilot test campaigns, before the company stopped numbering them in 2019.

For all the promise of Tesla’s fleet learning, Autopilot has yet to prove that it can drive as safely as a human, let alone be trusted to operate a vehicle without supervision.

Liu is bullish on Tesla’s approach to leveraging its ever-growing consumer base. “I don’t think a small…fleet will ever be able to handle these [rare] situations,” he says. “But even with these shadow drivers—and if you deploy millions of these fleet vehicles, that’s a very, very large data collection—I don’t know whether Tesla is fully utilizing them because there’s no public information really available.”

One obstacle is the sheer cost. Karpathy admitted that having a large team to assess and label images and video was expensive and said that Tesla was working on detectors that can train themselves on video clips captured in Autopilot snapshots. In June, the company duly laid off 195 people working on data annotation at a Bay Area office.

While the Autopilot does seem to have improved over the years, with Tesla allowing its operation on more roads and in more situations, serious and fatal accidents are still occurring. These may or may not have purely technical causes. Certainly, some drivers seem to be overestimating the system’s capabilities or are either accidentally or deliberately failing to supervise it sufficiently.

Other experts are worried that Tesla’s approach has more fundamental flaws. “The vast majority of the world generally believes that you’re never going to get the same level of safety with a camera-only system that you will based on a system that includes lidar,” says Dr. Matthew Weed, senior director of product management at Luminar, a company that manufacturers advanced lidar systems.

He points out that Tesla’s Shadow Mode only captures a small fraction of each car’s driving time. “When it comes to safety, the whole thing is about…your unknown unknowns,” he says. “What are the things that I don’t even know about that will cause my system to fail? Those are really difficult to ascertain in a bulk fleet” that is down-selecting data.

For all the promise of Tesla’s fleet learning and the enthusiastic support of many of its customers, Autopilot has yet to prove that it can drive as safely as a human, let alone be trusted to operate a vehicle without supervision. And there are other difficulties looming. Andrej Karpathy left Tesla in mid-July, while the company continues to face the damaging possibility of NHTSA issuing a recall for Autopilot in the United States. This would be a terrible PR (and possibly economic) blow for the company but would likely not halt its harvesting of customer data to improve the system, nor prevent its continued deployment overseas.

Tesla’s use of fleet vehicle data to develop Autopilot echoes the user-fueled rise of Internet giants like Google, YouTube, and Facebook. The more its customers drive, so Musk’s story goes, the better the system performs.

But just as tech companies have had to come to terms with their complicated relationships with data, so Tesla is beginning to see a backlash. Why does the company charge US $12,000 for a so-called “full self-driving” capability that is utterly reliant on its customers’ data? How much control do drivers have over data extracted from their daily journeys? And what happens when other entities, from companies to the government, seek access to it? These are the themes for our third story.


Match ID: 90 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 11.43 eu

Inventor of AT&T’s Datakit, the First Virtual Connection Switch, Dies at 85
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 18:00:00 +0000

Alexander “Sandy” Fraser

Developer of the first virtual circuit network switch

Fellow, 85; died 13 June

Fraser developed the Datakit, the first virtual circuit network switch, while working at AT&T Labs in Florham Park, N.J. The telecommunications technology is used by all major U.S. telephone companies.

He invented other pioneering technologies as well, including the file system for the Titan supercomputer (prototype of Atlas 2), cell-based networks (precursor to asynchronous transfer mode), and the Euphony processor, which was one of the first system-on-a-chip microprocessors.

He began his career at Ferranti, an electrical engineering and equipment company in Manchester, England. He left there in 1966 to join the University of Cambridge as an assistant director of research. After three years, he moved to the United States to work for AT&T Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J. While there, he helped develop the Moving Picture Experts Group Advanced Audio Coder, which compresses music signals. First used in Apple’s iTunes program, it now can be found in all smartphones.

Fraser held several leadership positions at the company during his 30 years there. He became director of the Computing Science Research Center in 1982 and five years later was promoted to executive director. In 1994 he became associate vice president for the company’s information science research department. In 1996 he helped establish AT&T Labs in Florham Park. It is the company’s research and development division, of which he was vice president for two years.

He decided to focus more on research and left his position as vice president. AT&T named him chief scientist, and in that position he worked on developing architecture and protocols for a large-scale Internet so that customers could connect to it from their homes.

In 2002 Fraser retired and founded Fraser Research, in Princeton, N.J., where he continued his networking work.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1958 from the University of Bristol, in England. He went on to receive a Ph.D. in computing science in 1969 from Cambridge.

Byung-Gook Park

Vice chair of IEEE Region 10

Fellow, 62; died 20 May

Park was an active IEEE volunteer and was serving as the 2021–2022 vice chair of IEEE Region 10 at the time of his death. He was the 2014–2015 chair of the IEEE Seoul Section.

He was a member of several committees at conferences including the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting, the International Conference on Solid State Devices and Materials, and the International Technical Conference on Circuits/ Systems, Computers, and Communications.

He served as editor of IEEE Electron Device Letters and editor in chief of the Journal of Semiconductor Technology and Science.

From 1990 to 1993, he worked at AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., before joining Texas Instruments in Dallas. After one year, he left the company and joined Seoul National University as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. He worked at the university at the time of his death.

His research interests included the design and fabrication of neuromorphic devices and circuits, flash memories, and silicon quantum devices.

Park authored or coauthored more than 1,200 research papers. He was granted 107 patents in Korea and 46 U.S. patents.

He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronics engineering from Seoul National University in 1982 and 1984, respectively, and a Ph.D. in EE in 1990 from Stanford.

David Ellis Hepburn

Past vice chair of IEEE Canada’s Teacher-in-Service Program

Life senior member, 91; died 25 March

Hepburn was a strong proponent of preuniversity education and enjoyed helping shape the next generation of engineers. He was involved with IEEE Canada’s Teacher-in-Service Program, an initiative that aims to improve elementary and secondary school technical education by offering teachers lesson plans and training workshops. He served as vice chair of the program’s committee. He was honored for his contributions with the 2017 IEEE Canada Presidents’ Make-a-Difference Award.

He was an active volunteer for TryEngineering, a website that provides teachers, parents, and students with engineering resources. These include hands-on classroom activities, lesson plans, and information about engineering careers and university programs. He wrote six lessons, which cover transformers, AC and DC motors, magnetism, binary basics, and solar power.

While a student at Staffordshire University, in England, he was an intern at electrical equipment manufacturer English Electric in Stafford. Five years after graduating in 1952, he joined utility company Hydro-Québec in Montreal as a systems design engineer. In 1965 he went to work for consulting firm Acres International in Montreal. His first assignment there was with the design and construction team for the Churchill Falls underground hydroelectric power station, in Labrador, Nfld.

In 1969 he was tasked with helping to build transmission lines in Bangladesh that connected the country’s eastern and western electrical grids. He and his family lived there for two years.

After that, Hepburn continued to work on international projects in countries including Indonesia, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Following his retirement in 1994, he worked as a consultant for organizations including the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency. He also volunteered for the Canadian Executive Service Organization, a nonprofit that provides underserved communities worldwide with mentorship, coaching, and training in sectors such as alternative energy, forestry, and manufacturing. He volunteered on projects in Guatemala and Honduras.

Markus Zahn

Professor emeritus at MIT

Life Fellow, 75; died 13 March

Zahn was a professor of electrical engineering for 50 years. He taught at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1970 and worked there for 10 years before joining MIT, where he spent the remainder of his career.

He researched how electromagnetic fields interact with materials, and he developed a method for magnetically separating oil and water, as well as a system that detects buried dielectric, magnetic, and conducting devices such as land mines.

He was director of MIT’s 6-A program, which provides undergraduate students with mentoring and internship opportunities.

Zahn, who was granted more than 20 U.S. patents, worked as a consultant for Dow, Ford, Texas Instruments, and other companies

He received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering from MIT.


Match ID: 91 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 11.43 eu

Baidu’s PaddlePaddle Spins AI up to Industrial Applications
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 14:31:39 +0000


TensorFlow, PyTorch, and Keras: Those three deep-learning frameworks have dominated AI for years even as newer entrants gain steam. But one framework you don’t hear much about in the West is China’s PaddlePaddle, the most popular Chinese framework in the world’s most populous country.

It is an easy-to-use, efficient, flexible, and scalable deep-learning platform, originally developed by Baidu, the Chinese AI giant, to apply deep learning to many of its own products. Today, it is being used by more than 4.77 million developers and 180,000 enterprises globally. While comparable numbers are hard to come by for other frameworks, suffice to say, that’s big.

Baidu recently announced new updates to PaddlePaddle, along with 10 large deep-learning models that span natural-language processing, vision, and computational biology. Among the models is a hundred-billion-parameter natural language processing (NLP) model called ERNIE 3.0 Zeus, a geography-and-language pretrained model called ERNIE-GeoL, and a pretrained model for compound representation learning called HELIX-GEM.

The company has also created three new industry-focused large models—one for the electric power industry, one for banking, and another one for aerospace—by fine-tuning the company’s ERNIE 3.0 Titan model with industry data and expert knowledge in unsupervised learning tasks.

Software frameworks are packages of associated support programs, compilers, code libraries, tool sets, and application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable development of a project or system. Deep-learning frameworks bring together everything needed to design, train, and validate deep neural networks through a high-level programming interface. Without these tools, implementing deep-learning algorithms would take a lot of time because otherwise reusable pieces of code would have to be written from scratch.

Baidu started to develop such tools as early as 2012 within months of Geoffrey Hinton’s deep-learning breakthrough at the ImageNet competition.

In 2013, a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, created a framework called Caffe, that supported convolutional neural networks used in computer-vision research. Baidu built on Caffe to develop PaddlePaddle, which supported recurrent neural networks in addition to convolutional neural networks, giving it an advantage in the field of NLP.

The name PaddlePaddle is derived from PArallel Distributed Deep Learning, a reference to the framework’s ability to train models on multiple GPUs.

Google’s open-sourced TensorFlow in 2015 and Baidu open-sourced PaddlePaddle the next year. When Eric Schmidt introduced TensorFlow to China in 2017, it turns out China was ahead of him.

While TensorFlow and Meta’s PyTorch, open-sourced in 2017, remain popular in China, PaddlePaddle is more oriented toward industrial users.

“We dedicated a lot of effort to reducing the barriers to entry for individuals and companies,” said Ma Yanjun, general manager of the AI Technology Ecosystem at Baidu.

PyTorch and TensorFlow require greater deep-learning expertise on the part of users compared to PaddlePaddle, whose toolkits are designed for nonexperts in production environments.

“In China, many of the developers are trying to use AI in their work, but they do not have much AI background,” explained Ma. “So, to increase the use of AI in different industry sectors, we’ve provided PaddlePaddle with a lot of low-threshold toolkits that are easier to use so it can be used by a wider community.”

AI engineers normally don’t know much about industry sectors and industry-sector experts don’t know much about AI. But PaddlePaddle’s easy-to-understand code comes with a wealth of learning materials and tools to help users. It scales easily and has a comprehensive set of APIs to address various needs.

3 people huddle around a robot in a desert environment with small trees and shrubbery These developers used PaddlePaddle for a desert robot to automate the process of tree planting.Baidu

It supports large-scale data training and can train hundreds of machines in parallel. It provides a neural-machine translation system, recommender systems, image classification, sentiment analysis, and semantic role labeling.

Toolkits and libraries are the strong side of PaddlePaddle, Ma said. For example, PaddleSeg can be used for segmentation of images. PaddleDetection can be used for object detection. “We cover the whole pipeline of AI development from data processing to training, to model compression, to the adaptation to different hardware,” said Ma, “and then how to deploy them in different systems, for example, in Windows or in the Linux operating system or on an Intel chip or on an Nvidia chip.”

The platform also hosts toolkits for cutting-edge research purposes, like Paddle Quantum for quantum-computing models and Paddle Graph Learning for graph-learning models.

“That’s why PaddlePaddle is quite popular in China right now,” he said. “Developers are using such toolkits and not just the tool itself.”

Since it was open-sourced, PaddlePaddle has evolved quickly to have better performance and user experience in different industry sectors outside Baidu as well as countries outside China thanks to extensive English-language documentation. Currently, PaddlePaddle offers over 500 algorithms and pretrained models to facilitate the rapid development of industrial applications. Baidu has worked to reduce model size so they can be deployed in real-world applications. Some of the models are very small and fast and can be deployed on a camera or cellphone.

Industrial Applications for PaddlePaddle


  • Transportation companies have been using PaddlePaddle to deploy AI models that monitor traffic lights and improve traffic efficiency.
  • Manufacturing companies are using PaddlePaddle to improve productivity and lower costs.
  • Recycling companies use PaddlePaddle to develop an object-detection models that can identify different types of garbage for a garbage-sorting robot.
  • Shouguang county in Shandong province is deploying AI to monitor the growth of different vegetables, advising farmers the best time to pick and pack them.
  • In Southeast Asia, PaddlePaddle has been used to control AI-powered forest drones for fire prevention.

PaddlePaddle has parameter server technology to train sparse models that can be used in real-time recommender systems and search. But it has also merged models into even larger systems that are used for scenarios that don’t require real-time results, like text generation or image generation.

Baidu sees large, dense models as another way of reducing the barrier to AI adoption because so-called foundation models can be adapted to specific scenarios. Without the foundation model, you need to develop everything from scratch.

Ma said research areas are converging with cross-model learning of different modalities, like speech and vision. He said Baidu is also using knowledge graphs in the deep-learning process. “Previously a deep-learning system dealt with raw texts or raw images without any knowledge input and the system used self-supervised learning to gather rules outside the data,” Ma said. “But now we are seeing knowledge graphs as an input.”


Match ID: 92 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 11.43 eu

Empresa que patrocinou o Flow Podcast dá calote estimado em R$ 100 milhões em clientes
Thu, 04 Aug 2022 09:07:11 +0000

A consultora financeira LTW cresceu exponencialmente enquanto bombava o Flow, mas hoje clientes que aplicaram dinheiro sequer têm como contatar a empresa.

The post Empresa que patrocinou o Flow Podcast dá calote estimado em R$ 100 milhões em clientes appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 93 Score: 11.43 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 11.43 eu

What V2G Tells Us About EVs and the Grid
Mon, 01 Aug 2022 18:57:18 +0000


As the number of electric vehicles on the world’s roads explodes, electric utilities are grappling with increasing demand while simultaneously having to stabilize their grids where more intermittent renewable-energy sources like wind and solar are coming online. For utilities looking for ways to store power for later use, all those shiny new EVs might look like rolling batteries that they can not only charge but also draw power from when demand exceeds supply. That’s the promise of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.


While China accounted for about half the 6.75 million EVs sold worldwide in 2021, according to Sweden-based analysts EV Volumes, Europe also showed strong growth. There, sales of EVs as part of the overall automobile market rose from 10 percent in 2020 to 17 percent in 2021, with 2.3 million sold. And it is in Europe where we find one of the largest V2G deployments. Longtime IEEE Spectrum contributor Michael Dumiak, who is based in Germany, ventured over to Utrecht in the Netherlands to report on the city’s ambitious V2G project.

To meet the Dutch government’s mandate for all new cars to be zero-emissions by 2030, municipalities like Utrecht as well as utilities and private-sector partners will have to work together to locate new bidirectional charging stations that won’t overload transformers. When discussing the scope of change in the proverbial pipeline, renewables plus EVs plus grids in need of upgrades to handle the millions of new EVs projected to hit Europe’s roads in the next few years, one Dutch researcher told Dumiak, “Our grid was not designed for this.”

Nor was grid-scale storage top of mind among the pioneers of V2G, at least not at the beginning. In the online-only feature story (coming soon), technology historian Matthew Eisler of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow points out that V2G technology was originally conceived as vehicle-to-home, not vehicle-to-grid.

Eisler’s piece charts the history of V2G and tells the story of the California company AC Propulsion. He documents how engineers Wally Rippel, Alan Cocconi, and Paul Carosa founded AC Propulsion in the early 1990s and produced a two-seater sports car called the Tzero, which featured bidirectional charging capability. As Eisler points out, this feature had been implemented to give drivers the ability, in an emergency, to charge another EV. Now that ability is being extended to the grid, raising a host of new questions.

“And how will batteries with chemistries designed for the EV duty cycle perform in stationary power applications? Will V2G degrade such batteries and reduce their value in transportation? Those questions are far from resolved and yet are key to the success of bidirectional vehicle power,” Eisler writes, adding that many carmakers don’t yet have sufficient incentive to equip their cars for bidirectional power. And even if the auto industry does eventually jump on the bidirectional bandwagon, Eisler says that “it is not yet clear whether batteries designed for the duty cycle of the electric vehicle will prove suitable” for grid storage.

The tensions that exist at the interface of these two massive sectors–power and transportation–threaten to hobble the EV market as Spectrum contributing editor and renowned risk analyst Robert N. Charette noted when I talked to him recently about a series of articles he’s working on that focuses on the risks inherent in mass vehicular electrification.

While engineers are acutely aware of the enormous impediments blocking the road to a cleaner EV future, Charette believes that politicians and government officials have become detached from the expensive realities involved in retooling the electric-power infrastructure to accommodate tens of millions of new EVs. We hope policymakers take heed of Charette’s warnings about the difficulties ahead, which will appear online starting next month.


Match ID: 94 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Securing Open-Source Software
2022-07-27T12:03:57Z

Good essay arguing that open-source software is a critical national-security asset and needs to be treated as such:

Open source is at least as important to the economy, public services, and national security as proprietary code, but it lacks the same standards and safeguards. It bears the qualities of a public good and is as indispensable as national highways. Given open source’s value as a public asset, an institutional structure must be built that sustains and secures it.

This is not a novel idea. Open-source code has been called the “roads and bridges”...


Match ID: 95 Score: 11.43 source: www.schneier.com age: 13 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Frame for Artemis IV
Thu, 02 Jun 2022 16:48:00 +0200
Image:

The fourth European Service Module structure to power astronauts on NASA's Orion spacecraft to the Moon is now complete. The structure is seen here at a Thales Alenia Space site in Turin, Italy.

The module is now on its way to Airbus’ clean rooms in Bremen, Germany where engineers will complete the integration and carry out final tests.

As the powerhouse for the Orion spacecraft, the European Service Module provides propulsion and the consumables astronauts need to stay alive.

Much like the load-bearing frame of a car, this structure forms the basis for all further assembly of the spacecraft, including 11 km of wiring, 33 engines, four tanks to hold over 8000 litres of fuel, water and air for astronauts and the seven-metre ‘x-wing’ solar arrays that provide enough electricity to power two households.

The fourth European Service Module is part of the Artemis IV mission that will begin delivering elements of the Gateway, the next human outpost located in lunar orbit.

This includes the International Habitat, or I-Hab, module, built by Thales Alenia on behalf of ESA. It is a pressurised module that will provide living quarters for astronauts visiting the Gateway and include multiple docking ports for berthing vehicles as well as well other modules.

What’s up with the first three European Service Modules?

The first European Service Module is connected with the Orion spacecraft and awaiting launch for Artemis I later this year. The second European Service Module has been formally transferred to NASA and is completing integration at the Operations and Checkout building at Kennedy Space Center. Meanwhile, the third European Service Module continues to be built up in Bremen.

With four European Service Modules already delivered and in production, ESA is ensuring NASA’s Artemis programme continues to develop a sustainable presence on and around the Moon in international partnership.

The countdown to the Moon starts in Europe with 16 companies in ten countries supplying the components that make up humankind’s next generation spacecraft for exploration. Follow the latest on Orion developments on the blog


Match ID: 96 Score: 11.43 source: www.esa.int age: 68 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

News Conference with ESA Astronaut Matthias Maurer (in German)
Wed, 11 May 2022 12:45:00 +0200
Video: 00:57:08

After almost six months of living and working on board the International Space Station, Matthias Maurer is back on Earth - and gives his first news conference in Europe.

Watch the replay of this live Q&A (mostly in German language) between Matthias and the press, taking place at the ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany.


Match ID: 97 Score: 11.43 source: www.esa.int age: 90 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Return highlights | Cosmic Kiss
Fri, 06 May 2022 16:52:00 +0200
Video: 00:01:41

The Crew Dragon capsule carrying ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron home from the International Space Station splashed down off the coast of Florida, USA, on Friday 6 May 2022 at 05:43 BST/06:43 CEST.

Its return marks the end of Crew-3’s almost six-month stay in orbit and the end of Matthias’s first mission, known as Cosmic Kiss.

Crew-3 undocked from the International Space Station in Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance at 06:20 BST/07:20 CEST Thursday 5 May. When a Crew capsule splashes down, it is met by nearby ships with experts ready to bring it on board, open the hatch, and welcome the astronauts home.

After initial medical checks, the crew is transported by helicopter to shore. Now that his mission has come to an end, Matthias will return to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, where he will participate in post-flight debriefings, provide samples for scientific evaluation and readapt to Earth’s gravity with the support of ESA experts.

More info on Cosmic Kiss here.

Access the related broadcast quality video material.


Match ID: 98 Score: 11.43 source: www.esa.int age: 95 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Crew-3 splashdown | Cosmic Kiss
Fri, 06 May 2022 10:01:00 +0200
Video: 00:02:28

The Crew Dragon capsule carrying ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron home from the International Space Station splashed down off the coast of Florida, USA, on Friday 6 May 2022 at 05:43 BST/06:43 CEST.

Its return marks the end of Crew-3’s almost six-month stay in orbit and the end of Matthias’s first mission, known as Cosmic Kiss.

Crew-3 undocked from the International Space Station in Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance at 06:20 BST/07:20 CEST Thursday 5 May.

When a Crew capsule splashes down, it is met by nearby ships with experts ready to bring it on board, open the hatch, and welcome the astronauts home. After initial medical checks, the crew is transported by helicopter to shore.

Now that his mission has come to an end, Matthias will return to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, where he will participate in post-flight debriefings, provide samples for scientific evaluation and readapt to Earth’s gravity with the support of ESA experts.

More info on Cosmic Kiss here.


Match ID: 99 Score: 11.43 source: www.esa.int age: 95 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Satellite Imagery for Everyone
Sat, 19 Feb 2022 16:00:00 +0000


Every day, satellites circling overhead capture trillions of pixels of high-resolution imagery of the surface below. In the past, this kind of information was mostly reserved for specialists in government or the military. But these days, almost anyone can use it.

That’s because the cost of sending payloads, including imaging satellites, into orbit has dropped drastically. High-resolution satellite images, which used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, now can be had for the price of a cup of coffee.

What’s more, with the recent advances in artificial intelligence, companies can more easily extract the information they need from huge digital data sets, including ones composed of satellite images. Using such images to make business decisions on the fly might seem like science fiction, but it is already happening within some industries.


This image shows are variety of blue and green hues, interwoven in a geometrically intriguing way.

These underwater sand dunes adorn the seafloor between Andros Island and the Exuma islands in the Bahamas. The turquoise to the right reflects a shallow carbonate bank, while the dark blue to the left marks the edge of a local deep called Tongue of the Ocean. This image was captured in April 2020 using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory


Here’s a brief overview of how you, too, can access this kind of information and use it to your advantage. But before you’ll be able to do that effectively, you need to learn a little about how modern satellite imagery works.

The orbits of Earth-observation satellites generally fall into one of two categories: GEO and LEO. The former is shorthand for geosynchronous equatorial orbit. GEO satellites are positioned roughly 36,000 kilometers above the equator, where they circle in sync with Earth’s rotation. Viewed from the ground, these satellites appear to be stationary, in the sense that their bearing and elevation remain constant. That’s why GEO is said to be a geostationary orbit.

Such orbits are, of course, great for communications relays—it’s what allows people to mount satellite-TV dishes on their houses in a fixed orientation. But GEO satellites are also appropriate when you want to monitor some region of Earth by capturing images over time. Because the satellites are so high up, the resolution of that imagery is quite coarse, however. So these orbits are primarily used for observation satellites designed to track changing weather conditions over broad areas.

Being stationary with respect to Earth means that GEO satellites are always within range of a downlink station, so they can send data back to Earth in minutes. This allows them to alert people to changes in weather patterns almost in real time. Most of this kind of data is made available for free by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.


This black-and-white image shows a narrow waterway blocked by a large ship. The resolution of the image is sufficient to make out individual shipping containers on its deck, as well as the tugboats arrayed around it.

In March 2021, the container ship Ever Given ran aground, blocking the Suez Canal for six days. This satellite image of the scene, obtained using synthetic-aperture radar, shows the kind resolution that is possible with this technology.

Capella Space


The other option is LEO, which stands for low Earth orbit. Satellites placed in LEO are much closer to the ground, which allows them to obtain higher-resolution images. And the lower you can go, the better the resolution you can get. The company Planet, for example, increased the resolution of its recently completed satellite constellation, SkySat, from 72 centimeters per pixel to just 50 cm—an incredible feat—by lowering the orbits its satellites follow from 500 to 450 km and improving the image processing.

The best commercially available spatial resolution for optical imagery is 25 cm, which means that one pixel represents a 25-by-25-cm area on the ground—roughly the size of your laptop. A handful of companies capture data with 25-cm to 1-meter resolution, which is considered high to very high resolution in this industry. Some of these companies also offer data from 1- to 5-meter resolution, considered medium to high resolution. Finally, several government programs have made optical data available at 10-, 15-, 30-, and 250-meter resolutions for free with open data programs. These include NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat, NASA MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), and ESA Copernicus. This imagery is considered low resolution.

Because the satellites that provide the highest-resolution images are in the lowest orbits, they sense less area at once. To cover the entire planet, a satellite can be placed in a polar orbit, which takes it from pole to pole. As it travels, Earth rotates under it, so on its next pass, it will be above a different part of Earth.

Many of these satellites don’t pass directly over the poles, though. Instead, they are placed in a near-polar orbit that has been specially designed to take advantage of a subtle bit of physics. You see, the spinning Earth bulges outward slightly at the equator. That extra mass causes the orbits of satellites that are not in polar orbits to shift or (technically speaking) to precess. Satellite operators often take advantage of this phenomenon to put a satellite in what’s called a sun-synchronous orbit. Such orbits allow the repeated passes of the satellite over a given spot to take place at the same time of day. Not having the pattern of shadows shift between passes helps the people using these images to detect changes.




It usually takes 24 hours for a satellite in polar orbit to survey the entire surface of Earth. To image the whole world more frequently, satellite companies use multiple satellites, all equipped with the same sensor and following different orbits. In this way, these companies can provide more frequently updated images of a given location. For example, Maxar’s Worldview Legion constellation, launching later this year, includes six satellites.

After a satellite captures some number of images, all that data needs to be sent down to Earth and processed. The time required for that varies.

DigitalGlobe (which Maxar acquired in 2017) recently announced that it had managed to send data from a satellite down to a ground station and then store it in the cloud in less than a minute. That was possible because the image sent back was of the parking lot of the ground station, so the satellite didn’t have to travel between the collection point and where it had to be to do the data “dumping,” as this process is called.

In general, Earth-observation satellites in LEO don’t capture imagery all the time—they do that only when they are above an area of special interest. That’s because these satellites are limited to how much data they can send at one time. Typically, they can transmit data for only 10 minutes or so before they get out of range of a ground station. And they cannot record more data than they’ll have time to dump.

Currently, ground stations are located mostly near the poles, the most visited areas in polar orbits. But we can soon expect distances to the nearest ground station to shorten because both Amazon and Microsoft have announced intentions to build large networks of ground stations located all over the world. As it turns out, hosting the terabytes of satellite data that are collected daily is big business for these companies, which sell their cloud services (Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure) to satellite operators.

For now, if you are looking for imagery of an area far from a ground station, expect a significant delay—maybe hours—between capture and transmission of the data. The data will then have to be processed, which adds yet more time. The fastest providers currently make their data available within 48 hours of capture, but not all can manage that. While it is possible, under ideal weather conditions, for a commercial entity to request a new capture and get the data it needs delivered the same week, such quick turnaround times are still considered cutting edge.


The best commercially available spatial resolution is 25 centimeters for optical imagery, which means that one pixel represents something roughly the size of your laptop.


I’ve been using the word “imagery,” but it’s important to note that satellites do not capture images the same way ordinary cameras do. The optical sensors in satellites are calibrated to measure reflectance over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. This could mean they record how much red, green, and blue light is reflected from different parts of the ground. The satellite operator will then apply a variety of adjustments to correct colors, combine adjacent images, and account for parallax, forming what’s called a true-color composite image, which looks pretty much like what you would expect to get from a good camera floating high in the sky and pointed directly down.

Imaging satellites can also capture data outside of the visible-light spectrum. The near-infrared band is widely used in agriculture, for example, because these images help farmers gauge the health of their crops. This band can also be used to detect soil moisture and a variety of other ground features that would otherwise be hard to determine.

Longer-wavelength “thermal” IR does a good job of penetrating smoke and picking up heat sources, making it useful for wildfire monitoring. And synthetic-aperture radar satellites, which I discuss in greater detail below, are becoming more common because the images they produce aren’t affected by clouds and don’t require the sun for illumination.

You might wonder whether aerial imagery, say, from a drone, wouldn’t work at least as well as satellite data. Sometimes it can. But for many situations, using satellites is the better strategy. Satellites can capture imagery over areas that would be difficult to access otherwise because of their remoteness, for example. Or there could be other sorts of accessibility issues: The area of interest could be in a conflict zone, on private land, or in another place that planes or drones cannot overfly.

So with satellites, organizations can easily monitor the changes taking place at various far-flung locations. Satellite imagery allows pipeline operators, for instance, to quickly identify incursions into their right-of-way zones. The company can then take steps to prevent a disastrous incident, such as someone puncturing a gas pipeline while construction is taking place nearby.


\u200bThis satellite image shows a snow-covered area. A tongue of darker material is draped over the side of a slope, impinging on a nearby developed area with buildings.

This SkySat image shows the effect of a devastating landslide that took place on 30 December 2020. Debris from that landslide destroyed buildings and killed 10 people in the Norwegian village of Ask.

SkySat/Planet



The ability to compare archived imagery with recently acquired data has helped a variety of industries. For example, insurance companies sometimes use satellite data to detect fraudulent claims (“Looks like your house had a damaged roof when you bought it…”). And financial-investment firms use satellite imagery to evaluate such things as retailers’ future profits based on parking-lot fullness or to predict crop prices before farmers report their yields for the season.

Satellite imagery provides a particularly useful way to find or monitor the location of undisclosed features or activities. Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama, for example, uses satellite imagery to locate archaeological sites of interest. 52Impact, a consulting company in the Netherlands, identified undisclosed waste dump sites by training an algorithm to recognize their telltale spectral signature. Satellite imagery has also helped identify illegal fishing activities, fight human trafficking, monitor oil spills, get accurate reporting on COVID-19 deaths, and even investigate Uyghur internment camps in China—all situations where the primary actors couldn’t be trusted to accurately report what’s going on.

Despite these many successes, investigative reporters and nongovernmental organizations aren’t yet using satellite data regularly, perhaps because even the small cost of the imagery is a deterrent. Thankfully, some kinds of low-resolution satellite data can be had for free.

The first place to look for free satellite imagery is the Copernicus Open Access Hub and EarthExplorer. Both offer free access to a wide range of open data. The imagery is lower resolution than what you can purchase, but if the limited resolution meets your needs, why spend money?

If you require medium- or high-resolution data, you might be able to buy it directly from the relevant satellite operator. This field recently went through a period of mergers and acquisitions, leaving only a handful of providers, the big three in the West being Maxar and Planet in the United States and Airbus in Germany. There are also a few large Asian providers, such as SI Imaging Services in South Korea and Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology in Singapore. Most providers have a commercial branch, but they primarily target government buyers. And they often require large minimum purchases, which is unhelpful to companies looking to monitor hundreds of locations or fewer.

Expect the distance to the nearest ground station to shorten because both Amazon and Microsoft have announced intentions to build large networks of ground stations located all over the world.

Fortunately, approaching a satellite operator isn’t the only option. In the past five years, a cottage industry of consultants and local resellers with exclusive deals to service a certain market has sprung up. Aggregators and resellers spend years negotiating contracts with multiple providers so they can offer customers access to data sets at more attractive prices, sometimes for as little as a few dollars per image. Some companies providing geographic information systems—including Esri, L3Harris, and Safe Software—have also negotiated reselling agreements with satellite-image providers.

Traditional resellers are middlemen who will connect you with a salesperson to discuss your needs, obtain quotes from providers on your behalf, and negotiate pricing and priority schedules for image capture and sometimes also for the processing of the data. This is the case for Apollo Mapping, European Space Imaging, Geocento, LandInfo, Satellite Imaging Corp., and many more. The more innovative resellers will give you access to digital platforms where you can check whether an image you need is available from a certain archive and then order it. Examples include LandViewer from EOS and Image Hunter from Apollo Mapping.

More recently, a new crop of aggregators began offering customers the ability to programmatically access Earth-observation data sets. These companies work best for people looking to integrate such data into their own applications or workflows. These include the company I work for, SkyWatch, which provides such a service, called EarthCache. Other examples are UP42 from Airbus and Sentinel Hub from Sinergise.

While you will still need to talk with a sales rep to activate your account—most often to verify you will use the data in ways that fits the company’s terms of service and licensing agreements—once you’ve been granted access to their applications, you will be able to programmatically order archive data from one or multiple providers. SkyWatch is, however, the only aggregator allowing users to programmatically request future data to be collected (“tasking a satellite”).

While satellite imagery is fantastically abundant and easy to access today, two changes are afoot that will expand further what you can do with satellite data: faster revisits and greater use of synthetic-aperture radar (SAR).

This image shows a sprawling compound of dozens of large buildings located in a desert area.

This image shows a race-track shaped structure with a tall chimney in the middle, built in an area where the ground is a distinctly reddish hue. Satellite images have helped to reveal China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority. About a million Uyghurs (and other ethnic minorities) have been interned in prisons or camps like the one shown here [top], which lies to the east of the city of Ürümqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Another satellite image [bottom] shows the characteristic oval shape of a fixed-chimney Bull’s trench kiln, a type widely used for manufacturing bricks in southern Asia. This one is located in Pakistan’s Punjab province. This design poses environmental concerns because of the sooty air pollution it generates, and such kilns have also been associated with human-rights abuses.Top: CNES/Airbus/Google Earth; Bottom: Maxar Technologies/Google Earth

The first of these developments is not surprising. As more Earth-observation satellites are put into orbit, more images will be taken, more often. So how frequently a given area is imaged by a satellite will increase. Right now, that’s typically two or three times a week. Expect the revisit rate soon to become several times a day. This won’t entirely address the challenge of clouds obscuring what you want to view, but it will help.

The second development is more subtle. Data from the two satellites of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 SAR mission, available at no cost, has enabled companies to dabble in SAR over the last few years.

With SAR, the satellite beams radio waves down and measures the return signals bouncing off the surface. It does that continually, and clever processing is used to turn that data into images. The use of radio allows these satellites to see through clouds and to collect measurements day and night. Depending on the radar band that’s employed, SAR imagery can be used to judge material properties, moisture content, precise movements, and elevation.

As more companies get familiar with such data sets, there will no doubt be a growing demand for satellite SAR imagery, which has been widely used by the military since the 1970s. But it’s just now starting to appear in commercial products. You can expect those offerings to grow dramatically, though.

Indeed, a large portion of the money being invested in this industry is currently going to fund large SAR constellations, including those of Capella Space, Iceye, Synspective, XpressSAR, and others. The market is going to get crowded fast, which is great news for customers. It means they will be able to obtain high-resolution SAR images of the place they’re interested in, taken every hour (or less), day or night, cloudy or clear.

People will no doubt figure out wonderful new ways to employ this information, so the more folks who have access to it, the better. This is something my colleagues at SkyWatch and I deeply believe, and it’s why we’ve made it our mission to help democratize access to satellite imagery.

One day in the not-so-distant future, Earth-observation satellite data might become as ubiquitous as GPS, another satellite technology first used only by the military. Imagine, for example, being able to take out your phone and say something like, “Show me this morning’s soil-moisture map for Grover’s Corners High; I want to see whether the baseball fields are still soggy.”

This article appears in the March 2022 print issue as “A Boom with a View.”

Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Maxar's Worldview Legion constellation launched last year.


Match ID: 100 Score: 11.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 171 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

Pfizer CEO Complains to Investors About Lower Drug Prices Under Inflation Reduction Act
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 23:07:31 +0000

Chief executive Albert Bourla said Manchin and Schumer were “wrong” to “single out” the pharmaceutical industry in seeking cost savings for the government.

The post Pfizer CEO Complains to Investors About Lower Drug Prices Under Inflation Reduction Act appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 101 Score: 8.57 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 8.57 eu

Lobbying Blitz Pushed Fertilizer Prices Higher, Fueling Food Inflation
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 22:59:20 +0000

Emails show fertilizer producer Mosaic lobbied heavily for tariffs under Trump, then used them to dominate the market.

The post Lobbying Blitz Pushed Fertilizer Prices Higher, Fueling Food Inflation appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 102 Score: 8.57 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 8.57 eu

The Radical Scope of Tesla’s Data Hoard
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 21:27:27 +0000


You won’t see a single Tesla cruising the glamorous beachfront in Beidaihe, China, this summer. Officials banned Elon Musk’s popular electric cars from the resort for two months while it hosts the Communist Party’s annual retreat, presumably fearing what their built-in cameras might capture and feed back to the United States.

Back in Florida, Tesla recently faced a negligence lawsuit after two young men died in a fiery car crash while driving a Model S belonging to a father of one of the accident victims. As part of its defense, the company submitted a historical speed analysis showing that the car had been driven with a daily top speed averaging over 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour) in the months before the crash. This information was quietly captured by the car and uploaded to Tesla’s servers. (A jury later found Tesla just 1 percent negligent in the case.)

Meanwhile, every recent-model Tesla reportedly records a breadcrumb GPS trail of every trip it makes—and shares it with the company. While this data is supposedly anonymized, experts are skeptical.

Alongside its advances in electric propulsion, Tesla’s innovations in data collection, analysis, and usage are transforming the automotive industry, and society itself, in ways that appear genuinely revolutionary.

“Gateway log” files—periodically uploaded to Tesla—include seatbelt, Autopilot, and cruise-control settings, and whether drivers had their hands on the steering wheel.

In a series of articles (story 2; story 3), IEEE Spectrum is examining exactly what data Tesla vehicles collect, how the company uses them to develop its automated driving systems, and whether owners or the company are in the driver’s seat when it comes to accessing and exploiting that data. There is no evidence that Tesla collects any data beyond what customers agree to in their terms of service—even though opting out of this completely appears to be very difficult.

Almost every new production vehicle has a battery of sensors, including cameras and radars, that capture data about their drivers, other road users, and their surroundings. There is now a worldwide connected car-data industry, trading in anonymized vehicle, driver, and location data aggregated from billions of journeys made in tens of millions of vehicles from all the major automotive equipment manufacturers. But none seem to store that information and send it back to the manufacturer as regularly, or in such volume, or have been doing so for as long, as those made by Tesla.

“As far as we know, Tesla vehicles collect the most amount of data,” says Francis Hoogendijk, a researcher at the Netherlands Forensic Institute who began investigating Tesla’s data systems after fatal crashes in the United States and the Netherlands in 2016.

Spectrum has used expert analyses, NTSB crash investigations, NHTSA reports, and Tesla’s own documents to build up as complete a picture as possible of the data Tesla vehicles collect and what the company does with them.

To start with, Teslas, like over 99 percent of new vehicles, have event data recorders (EDRs). These “black box” recorders are triggered by a crash and collect a scant 5 seconds of information, including speed, acceleration, brake use, steering input, and automatic brake and stability controls, to assist in crash investigations.

But Tesla also makes a permanent record of these data—and many more—on a 4-gigabyte SD or 8-GB microSD card located in the car’s Media Control Unit (MCU) Linux infotainment computer. These time-stamped “gateway log” files also include seatbelt, Autopilot, and cruise-control settings, and whether drivers had their hands on the steering wheel. They are normally recorded at a relatively low resolution, such as 5 hertz, allowing the cards to store months’ or years’ worth of data, even up to the lifetime of the vehicle.

Because the gateway logs use data from cars’ standard control area network (CAN) buses, they can include the unique vehicle identification number, or VIN. However, no evidence suggests these logs could include information from the car’s GPS module, or from its cameras or (for earlier models) radars.

A bar graph labelled Maximum Vehicle Speed by Date - 2018 showing high vehicle speeds over the course of 4 months. In a Florida court, Tesla presented detailed data about the top speeds of a Model S involved in a fatal crash.Car Engineering/Tesla/Southern District of Florida U.S. Courts

When an owner connects a Tesla to a Wi-Fi network—for instance, to download an over-the-air update that adds new features or fixes bugs—the gateway log data is periodically uploaded to Tesla. Judging by Tesla’s use of gateway log data in the Florida lawsuit, Tesla appears to link that data to its originating vehicle and store it permanently. (Tesla did not respond to requests for clarification on this and other issues).

Teslas also have a separate Autopilot Linux computer, which takes inputs from the cars’ cameras to handle driver-assistance functions like cruise control, lane-keeping, and collision warnings. If owners plug their own USB thumb drives into the car, they can make live dashcam recordings, and set up Sentry Mode to record the vehicle’s surroundings when parked. These recordings do not appear to be uploaded to Tesla.

However, there are many occasions in which Tesla vehicles do store images and (in 2016 models onward) videos from the cameras, and then share them with the company. These Autopilot “snapshots” can span several minutes and consist of up to several hundred megabytes of data, according to one engineer and Tesla owner who has studied Tesla’s data-collection process using salvaged vehicles and components, and who tweets using the pseudonym Green.

As well as visual data, the snapshots include high-resolution log data, similar to that captured in the gateway logs but at a much higher frequency—up to 50 Hz for wheel-speed information, notes Hoogendijk.

Snapshots are triggered when the vehicle crashes—as detected by the airbag system deploying—or when certain conditions are met. These can include anything that Tesla engineers want to learn about, such as particular driving behaviors, or specific objects or situations being detected by the Autopilot system. (These matters will be covered in the second installment in our series, to be posted tomorrow.)

GPS location data is always captured for crash events, says Green, and sometimes for other snapshots. Like gateway data, snapshots are uploaded to Tesla when the car connects to Wi-Fi, although those triggered by crashes will also attempt to upload over the car’s 4G cellular connection. Then, Green says, once a snapshot has been successfully uploaded, it is deleted from the Autopilot’s onboard 32-GB storage.

In addition to the snapshots, the Autopilot computer also records a complete trip log every time a mid-2017 or later Tesla is shifted from Park to Drive, says Green. Trip logs include a GPS breadcrumb trail until the car is shifted back into Park and include speeds, road types, and when or whether Autopilot was activated. Green says that trip logs are recorded whether or not Autopilot (or Full Self-Driving) is used. Like the snapshots, trip logs are deleted from the vehicle after being uploaded to Tesla.

But what happens to this treasure trove of data? Tesla has sold about three million vehicles worldwide, the majority of which are phoning home daily. They have provided the company with billions of miles of real-world driving data and GPS tracks, and many millions of photos and videos. What the world’s leading EV automaker is doing with all that data is the subject of our next installment.


Update 5 Aug. 2022: Elon Musk announced this week that Tesla has now sold about three million vehicles worldwide (not two as we had originally reported).


Match ID: 103 Score: 8.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 8.57 eu

Why Studying Bats Might Yield Insights into Human Life Extension
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 13:12:49 +0000


Few fields of endeavor have advanced as swiftly as bioinformatics over the past couple of decades. Just 25 years ago, the human genome was still largely a mystery. Then, in 2003, the first sequence was announced, of about 92 percent of a human genome. That sequence cost some US $300 million dollars. Over the years, as the technology became more advanced and pervasive, the cost of sequencing declined. Nowadays, it’s possible to get a sequence for well under $1,000. This price drop has triggered a revolution in the ability of doctors to identify a patient’s susceptibility to disease and also to prescribe effective treatments.

Once the genome was sequenced, the enormous task of identifying the function of the many genes began. Most estimates of the number of protein-coding genes in the human genome are now in the range of 19,000 to 21,000, although some are considerably higher. And as many as a quarter of these genes remain of largely uncertain function. The most powerful software-based tool for researchers trying to understand the function of these many genes is a system called BLAST, which stands for Basic Local Alignment Search Tool.


Here’s how it works. Let’s say a team of research biologists has come across a rhesus monkey gene that they can’t identify. They can enter into BLAST the nucleotides of the DNA or the amino-acid sequences of the protein associated with the gene. BLAST then searches enormous databases to find similar genes within the genomes of countless creatures, including humans. A match to a known gene often enables the researchers to infer the function of the unknown gene. It also lets them infer functional and evolutionary relationships that might exist between the sequences, and locate the unknown gene within one or more families of related genes.

First released in 1990, BLAST was created by a group at the U.S. National Institutes of Health that included Eugene Myers, Webb Miller, Stephen Altschul, Warren Gish, and David Lipman. Their 1990 paper describing BLAST has more than 75,000 citations, making it one of the most highly cited research papers of all time.

Earlier this year, Myers and Miller received the IEEE Francis E. Allen Medal, which honors “innovative work in computing leading to lasting impact on other aspects of engineering, science, technology, or society.” Shortly before the ceremony, IEEE Spectrum spoke with Myers, who had just retired as a director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics.

Eugene Myers on…

It’s the mid-to-late 1980s at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. What was in the air? What were some of the motivating factors that led you and your colleagues there to work on and, ultimately, complete, BLAST?

A smiling man with grey hair and glasses Eugene Myers

Eugene Myers: Well, there was already a tool like BLAST for searching the database, but it wasn’t very efficient and it took much too long. And David Lipman, who was running the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), that growing database, was looking for something faster. And I happened to be on sabbatical. And I was a smoker at the time, and I was downstairs and he brought me this article about this new hot chip that was being promoted by TRW. And I’m sitting there smoking my cigarettes saying, “Oh, David, I don’t believe in ASICs. I think if we just write the right code, we can do something.” And I had actually been working on a technique, a theoretical technique, for sublinear search. And I mean, basically, David and I and Webb got together and we had a very quick series of exchanges where we basically took the theoretical idea and distilled it down to its essence. And it was really fun, actually. I mean, Webb and I were passing back and forth versions of code, trying different implementations. And that was it. And I need to say, we got something that was fast as greased lightning at the time.

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Do you remember what the chip was?

Myers: I think it was called the FDF, and it was a systolic-array chip. It was designed for pattern matching primarily for the intelligence agencies. [Editor’s note: the Fast Data Finder (FDF) was an ASIC for recognizing strings of text. It was created at TRW in the mid-1980s.]

Ah, intrigue. So that leads us to the next question, which is, for those who aren’t biologists, what exactly does BLAST do? It’s been called a sort of a search engine for genes. So a biologist who is doing a sequence, say, of a genome has a piece of genetic material that’s presumably a gene and doesn’t know what this gene does.

Myers: Well, I mean, basically, BLAST takes a DNA sequence or protein sequence, which is just a code over some alphabet, and it goes off and it searches the database looking for something that looks like that sequence. In biology, sequences aren’t preserved exactly. So you’re not looking for exactly the same sequence. You’re looking for something that’s like it. A few of the symbols can be different, maybe one can be missing, there could be an extra one. So it’s called approximate match.

And when you say it goes off and finds them, it finds them from a catalog of the genomes and genetic material of all living creatures that have been recorded.

Myers: Yes. The database is oftentimes preprocessed to accelerate the search, although the initial BLAST, basically, just streamed the entire database.

So it will find a close-as-possible match for whatever the sequences you have, which may be a gene, and it will find it and it might be a totally different creature…

Myers: It could potentially find many of them. And one of the important things about BLAST, actually, which Altschul contributed, was it actually gave you the probability that you would see that match by chance. Because one of the big problems prior to that is that people were taking things that they thought kind of looked the same and saying, “Well, here’s an interesting match,” when in fact, according to probability theory, that was not an interesting match at all. So one of the very nice things about BLAST is it gave you a P-value that told you whether or not your match was actually interesting or not. But it would actually give you a whole list of matches and rank them according to their probability.

So one of the things that this illustrates is that all of us creatures on Earth, all of us, we’re made up of genes, and not only are we made up of genes, but you see throughout all of the living creatures very similar genes. So the blueprint, if you will, the elements of the blueprint that make up a human are different, but remarkably similar to the ones that, say, make up a parakeet or a lizard.

Myers: Now, there was a huge diaspora of life about 500 million years ago from bacteria into multicellular creatures where we basically ended up with fish and insects and all of the more complex orders of life. And they, basically, all used the same genes or proteins, but they used them in different ways. And mostly what was going on was the way that those genes were being turned on and the way those cassettes were being run. I mean, for example, a fruit fly has 14,000 genes and a human being has, I don’t know, maybe 28,000. And basically, every gene that’s in the fruit fly, there’s an analog that’s in a human being. Human beings have more copies of particular genes. They have one or two of something instead of just one of them. And human beings have a lot more genes that turn things on and off selectively. In other words, that regulate how the genes are being used. But the actual repertoire of genes is very similar. When we sequenced the human genome back at the turn of the century, 2000, we looked at the fruit fly and we looked at a human, and we said, “Hey, the fruit fly is like a little human.” I mean, potentially it gets cancer, metabolic disorders. It’s really quite fascinating.

There are some very large-scale projects around the world now aimed at sequencing the genomes of enormous classes of creatures, such as, vertebrates or plants or all living things native to the British Isles. These initiatives are sometimes collectively referred to as “sequencing the world.” Why are these efforts important?

Myers: Well, that’s a complex question. The basic answer is that we’re starting to do it now because we can finally do it at a quality where we feel like these libraries of sequences that we produce are going to, basically, stand the test of time—that they’re sufficiently correct and accurate. And the fascinating thing is, we’re going to learn more about how the various genes function. See, there’s still a lot of questions about what these genes are doing. And we’re going to learn more about how they function by looking at how they’re working across all of life than by looking at a particular species. I mean, right now, most medicine is just focused on human beings.

For example, we’re interested in how long a human being lives. We’d like to live longer. But absent disease, the variation and the longevity of human beings is about 10 percent. I mean, some of us expire at 85, some of us at 95, and some of us at 75. It’s not a very big range. But for example, there are bats that as a function of their body weight live 50 times longer than they’re supposed to. Fifty times. That’s like living to 5,000 for a human being. And there are other bats that are very closely related to that bat—only 5 million years of evolution between them—where the bat lives a normal life. So if you go out into nature, you’re going to see these extremes in physical characteristics of what we call phenotype. So what we are interested in is what’s the relationship between the genotype, which is the gene sequence, and all the genes that are in it, and the phenotype, which is the physical characterization or manifestation of the creature.

So in other words, one of the things you want to do is you want to know what the cluster of genes is that enables certain bats to live 50 times longer than other bats?

Myers: Yes. So we think that by sequencing lots of pairs of bats that are short- and long-lived and comparing their genomes, we’re going to get real clues about what it takes to have a creature live a long time. And presumably, because the genes in a human being are so similar to those in the bat, it will translate to human medicine.

There is a study of so-called supercentenarians among human beings, if I’m not mistaken. So this would presumably provide additional depth and information beyond just studying supercentenarians. Supercentenarians are people who live to be about 100 without substantial decline, either mentally or physically.

Myers: A lot of that is about lifestyle. I mean, they’ve done studies, the Blue Zones. And it’s about having good friends, it’s about eating a healthy diet, not eating too much, getting a little exercise, not too much stress. A lot of these things, I mean, turn out to be very significant factors. But again, there’s basically a kind of an expire-by date for every species of creature, and they have a longevity. Because the original purpose, really, of a creature is to create children. And once you’ve created the children, your job’s done. I mean, once you’ve created offspring, you’ve propagated the genome and you’re superfluous.

We’ve got this natural built-in expiry date. And the question is, how can we fundamentally change that?

So we’ve got this natural kind of built-in expiry date. And the question is, how can we fundamentally change that? Because I don’t want to live to be 100. I want to live to be 1,000, okay? I mean, it’s too late for me. But think about it. If I could live to be 1,000, I could have 10 careers. I mean, I’d love to do 100 years as an architect, 100 years as a physician. Right?

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So the idea is if you could identify the genes and the sequences that these long-lived creatures have in common, not only humans, but other creatures, you could, in theory, use a gene-editing technique, something that follows from CRISPR in the far future, to actually edit genes? This is probably decades from now.

Myers: Well, it could be just as simple as stopping certain reactions from happening. So it may not even be as much as a [genome] edit. I mean, it may just be like a drug where basically we just inhibit certain pathways. We build a small molecule that inhibits something to stop it from doing its thing, and that turns off the expiry clock. But we don’t know exactly how to do that yet. I mean, we know that reducing inflammation certainly leads to longer life. We know that not eating as much. So maybe there’s a drug that we can take that helps us metabolize better so that we don’t—so there are a lot of options like that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be gene editing. This is a kind of a futuristic thing. I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you that as long as we don’t blow ourselves up to kingdom come or ruin our planet and we have enough time, we will do it. We will do it.

One of the main motivations, perhaps the greatest motivation for all of this work, is to better understand how specific genetic variations lead to disease. It’s a lot of what keeps the money flowing and the whole enterprise going. And a very powerful tool for this purpose is the genome-wide association study. And this predates a lot of this technology. It’s an older tool, but it is one that is as dependent as ever on bioinformatics. And I would think because of the growing complexity, only getting more dependent.

Myers: A lot of what we’ve been trying to do for the last couple of decades is basically correlative. In other words, we’re not looking actually for causation. We’re just simply looking for correlation. This gene seems to have something to do with this disease and vice versa. And it doesn’t give us a mechanism, but it does tell us that this is associated with that. So we want to understand. A lot of what we’ve been doing is sequencing lots and lots of people. In other words, getting their genotype, their genome, and correlating that with their phenotype, with their physical characteristics. Do they get heart disease early? Do they get diabetes?

A classic one is breast cancer with the BRCA.

Myers: Right. And that was an example where we found basically the genes that are absolutely correlated with breast cancer. I mean, we know there’s a fairly small repertoire. But on the other hand, something like coronary health, heart health, is very, very complicated because really it’s a function of hundreds of genes. And so which combination and which battery? So basically, it’s not a single locus. I mean, early on, in the very early days, there were a lot of diseases that were caused by single mutation, but those are kind of the exception rather than the rule. I mean, those single mutations, they were incredibly serious diseases. And it’s nice that—well, I think we’re in a position to affect some of those.

It’s very interesting to have these single-locus diseases in hand to really improve the health of humanity as a whole. We’re going to need to have a kind of more refined understanding of the relationship between the genotype and the phenotype. And so these studies have been going on and people have been collecting data. In fact, the biggest problem, actually, isn’t getting everybody’s genome. The biggest problem is getting accurate phenotypic data. In other words, actually getting accurate measurements of people’s blood sugar. Like, when do you take the test, etc. I won’t go into all the complexities. But it’s actually building a database of all of the characteristics of people and basically digitizing all of the information we have about people. But this is going forward, and I think it will be very useful.

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One of the more sensational applications of bioinformatics is the challenge of reviving extinct species. So we read about the woolly mammoth, and there’s recent talk about the dodo and others. There’s the quagga, I think. There’s just a whole host of creatures that have, sadly, departed from the earth, but that in theory, we could revive in some form with the techniques and tools now available.

Myers: I think probably what’s more interesting is not actually bringing them back, but understanding what they were. For example, Svante Pääbo’s work reconstructing the Neanderthal sequence. Okay. I mean, it turns out that we’re all about, I think, 4 percent Neanderthal DNA. And it turns out, for example with COVID, it turns out that your propensity for outcomes in COVID actually is correlated with whether or not you had some of this Neanderthal DNA.

I think it’s quite fascinating that we’re kind of an admixture of these things. So knowing this ancient genome is quite interesting. I mean, also, the woolly mammoth versus the modern-day elephant basically gives us another clue. And I think what’s fascinating is the fact that we can do it at all. If we can get sufficient DNA material, then we can extract these things. Understanding that the evolutionary history of mankind is certainly of interest because we’re interested in ourselves, yes? For other creatures, well, it is the case that if we have a sequence, I do believe that we will eventually be able to kind of realize Jurassic Park and actually literally create the genomic sequence, transplant it into a nonfertilized embryo of a nearby species, and create the creature, an instance of the creature. And I think that will be pretty cool if we really want to understand dodo birds. But I think in general, we don’t want to lose all of that diversity. That connects back to what we were talking about before, which are these projects to go out and sequence the world. For example, I’ve sequenced some nearly extinct turtles. Now, that I have the sequence of those turtles, even if they go extinct, we can still do a Jurassic Park sometime in the future, but at least the genetic inheritance of those species is still present and we will still have it. So it’s, basically, a matter of conservation and a matter of understanding evolution and it’s pretty damn cool.

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Black and white photo of a striped doglike animal at a zoo The last thylacine died at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Australia, on 7 September 1936. Recently, biologists at the University of Melbourne launched a project aimed at bringing the creature back from extinction.Hum Historical/Alamy

And for full disclosure, we should point out that nobody could actually do Jurassic Park because dinosaur DNA is tens of millions of years old, so it no longer exists.

Myers: Yeah. I don’t mean Jurassic Park in the sense of bringing back dinosaurs. Jurassic Park in the sense of creating creatures that are no longer extant. Okay? I mean, that’s always the case with the best science fiction, is that it’s plausible. Jurassic Park is plausible, so is Gattaca. You know that one with Ethan Hawke where they, basically, sequenced everybody and they took the best? I mean, that is completely plausible.

What do you think are some of the most exciting challenges for young people, that they’ll be working on, say, in two years or four years? The big, difficult problems in bioinformatics.

Myers: Well, there are a lot of problems that still haven’t been solved. For example, how do you get a given shape and form from a genome? The genome actually encodes everything. It gives you five fingers. It gives you a nose, eyes. It encodes for everything. But we don’t understand the biophysical process for that. I mean, we have some idea that this gene controls that and this gene controls that, but that doesn’t tell us mechanistically what’s happening, and it doesn’t tell us how to intervene or what would happen if we intervene. So I still think that the fundamental question is to try to understand kind of what’s encoded in a genome and what mechanistically does it unfold. And I mean, computational biology is going to be at the core of it because, I mean, you’re talking about, okay, for a human being, 30,000 genes. Does 30,000 genes probably get transcribed into 150,000 different protein variants?

There are probably 10 billion of those proteins floating around an individual cell. And then your body—I mean, your brain alone has 10 billion neurons. So think about the scale of that thing. Okay? I mean, we’re not even close. So I think that high-performance computing. I think that advanced simulations.

A lot of what moves biology is technology, the ways to manipulate things. We’ve been able to manipulate creatures for a long time genetically. But now that we have this new mechanism, CRISPR-Cas, for which the Nobel was awarded a couple of years ago, I mean, we can now do that with precision and fidelity, which is a huge advance.


Match ID: 104 Score: 8.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 8.57 eu

St. Louis Voters Keep Cori Bush as Missouri Democrats Choose Anheuser-Busch Heir
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 04:02:25 +0000

Bush’s constituents didn’t show “buyer’s remorse,” but statewide voters rejected populist Lucas Kunce for Trudy Busch Valentine.

The post St. Louis Voters Keep Cori Bush as Missouri Democrats Choose Anheuser-Busch Heir appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 105 Score: 8.57 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 8.57 eu

AIPAC Defeats Andy Levin, the Most Progressive Jewish Representative
Wed, 03 Aug 2022 03:04:27 +0000

But the Israel lobby couldn't take out Rashida Tlaib.

The post AIPAC Defeats Andy Levin, the Most Progressive Jewish Representative appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 106 Score: 8.57 source: theintercept.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 8.57 eu

Covert Actions Heighten Ukraine’s Nuclear Peril
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 20:37:32 +0000


In March, when Russia seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant—Europe’s largest—the actions veered dangerously close to nuclear disaster. National Public Radio, in the U.S., analyzed video and photos from the attack and showed, among other too-close calls, that ordnance landed some 75 meters away from a reactor building. Since then, Zaporizhzhia’s grounds have been used to shelter troops, military equipment, and munitions. According to the Ukrainian government, Russia has also fired cruise missiles over two more nuclear power stations.

Yet, recent evidence suggests that a more opaque threat may also be stalking Ukraine’s four nuclear generating stations: a cloak-and-dagger struggle for control of state nuclear energy firm Energoatom, pitting activist nuclear professionals against alleged Russian agents.

It’s an unstable situation that—like Russia’s military actions—increases the risk of accidents that could spread radiation across Europe and threatens Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. Ukraine's 15 reactors generate over half of its electricity. Meanwhile, thanks to Ukraine’s rapid post-invasion synchronization with Europe’s power grid, increasing electricity exports are also helping the embattled nation to finance the war.

But already Ukraine faces the loss of Zaporizhzhia’s power generation, with Russia vowing to hold the surrounding territory indefinitely and rebuilding wrecked transmission lines to reroute the plant's power to occupied Crimea.

A smiling man at a desk in front of a Ukrainian flag Energoatom director of personnel Oleg Boyarintsev is pictured here, having returned to work after detention and questioning by Ukrainian counterintelligence agents. Energoatom

The murky internal battle for Ukraine’s nuclear power popped into sight briefly in late March when a few Ukrainian news outlets and IEEE Spectrum reported that Ukrainian counterintelligence officers had detained and questioned Energoatom director of personnel Oleg Boyarintsev. That cast a shadow over officials across Energoatom that Boyarintsev had appointed.

The conflict quickly slipped back behind the scenes. But Energoatom and its leadership are back in the spotlight. Battle lines have stabilized, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is leading a campaign to out Russian agents. This month Zelenskyy affirmed pervasive infiltration of Ukraine’s state security service, the SBU, which routinely places officials at Energoatom headquarters and its plants.

At the same time, moves by SBU counterintelligence agents, deputies in Ukraine’s parliament, and company officials have heightened concerns about the security and safety of Energoatom’s operations.

SBU spy hunters said they pierced an “extensive agent network” last month allegedly led by Boyarintsev’s longtime political patron and business partner Andriy Derkach, whom the SBU and U.S. intelligence agencies say is a Russian agent.

Then, early this month, Energoatom CEO Petro Kotin stunned a panel of deputies probing Energoatom personnel issues. Asked why Boyarintsev was not present as requested, Kotin told the energy committee he had the day off. Then Kotin gave contradictory answers when asked why he recently dismissed the director of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant, which lies just under 60 kilometers from Belarus and is the largest still under Ukraine’s control.

A man in sunglasses and a suit Under CEO Petro Kotin, Energoatom has faced repeated accusations of corruption and sliding back toward Russian influence. Ukrinform/Alamy

Kotin said Rivne’s director was suspected of hiding safety violations. At the same time Kotin insisted he was also needed to run the subsidiary racing to start up a recently completed facility to store spent nuclear fuel that was previously sent to Russia. Without the storage facility, Ukraine can’t refuel its reactors, prompting the panel’s chair to note that Kotin assigned an allegedly dodgy official a surprisingly critical mission.

Ukrainian news site Glavcom’s take from the hearing was that Ukraine’s nuclear plants were “in danger,” and that a “hunt for collaborators” was on. The panel’s deputy chairman concurred, posting that “Russian ears are sticking out now from all sides.”

Codename “Veteran”

Energoatom did not respond to IEEE Spectrum’s requests to reach Boyarintsev, Kotin and other officials. But back in March, the firm attacked its loudest critic, Olga Kosharna, a former advisor to Ukraine’s nuclear regulator. Energoatom said it was Kosharna who was under Russian influence and spreading Russian disinformation.

A defamation suit filed by Kosharna against Energoatom will be heard in October according to a Facebook post from her lawyer, who heads the energy-law committee for Ukraine’s bar association.

Kosharna maintains her March 2022 claim that officials planted by Boyarintsev facilitated the Zaporizhzhia plant’s seizure, including a new plant director appointed eight days before the 24 February invasion. In communications with IEEE Spectrum, she extended that allegation to include Alexander Prismitsky, an SBU officer serving as the plant’s deputy director for physical protection, who she said is the subject of an SBU investigation.

“Russia ... attract[ed] its agents into all the spheres! So, our task for today is to detect them all as soon as possible.”
—Margaryta Rayets, Women in Nuclear Ukraine

Boyarintsev did not act alone, according to Kosharna. Andriy Derkach, who the SBU says worked for Russian intelligence under the codename “Veteran,” is suspected of directing Boyarintsev's work at Energoatom. Derkach is a long-serving Ukrainian deputy, a pro-Russian media commentator, and a former Energoatom CEO. His whereabouts since the invasion are unknown.

Derkach gained global notoriety delivering alleged kompromat on U.S. President Joe Biden in 2019. In spite of that, he is widely credited with driving Boyarintsev’s inclusion when Zelenskyy appointed Kotin and a new leadership team in 2020. Why else, ask people like Kosharna and other nuclear professionals, could someone with unsavory associates in organized crime win a job so crucial to Ukraine’s security?

Since Kotin’s team arrived at Energoatom, journalists, activists, and government watchdogs have documented a series of suspicious activities including the dumping of electricity on the market, the illegal dismissal of Energoatom’s independent anti-corruption official, and embezzlement of funds for the long-delayed spent-fuel repository.

Meanwhile, a slide back toward Russian influence is now feared concerning Ukraine’s Russian-designed and mostly Russian-fuelled nuclear plants. Ukrainian security analyst Pavel Kost, who several years ago praised Energoatom as one of the “quiet heroes” of post-Yanukovich Ukraine, last year called out the growing influence of “pro-Russian circles” and “silent sabotage” of crucial projects such as the spent-fuel repository.

It’s no surprise, then, that over half of Ukraine’s parliamentarians called last year for new leadership to improve Energoatom’s operations and assure nuclear safety.

Jeff Merrifield, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission member and international nuclear consultant, likened the situation facing Ukraine’s nuclear plants to a “multilayer set of chess.” While he declined to address the specific accusations against Energoatom leaders, Merrifield said they “were not entirely surprising” based on some of the “unsavory” activity he’s observed in 20 years of work in both Ukraine and Russia.

Kosharna, meanwhile, is not the only Ukrainian professional asking tough questions. When asked if many nuclear staff in Ukraine are concerned about Russian agents, Women in Nuclear Ukraine founder Margaryta Rayets messaged IEEE Spectrum that, “Russia did its best in terms of lobbying its interests by attracting its agents into all the spheres! So, our task for today is to detect them all as soon as possible.”

Rivne on the edge

The loudest critical voice among engineers and scientists (at least in writing) is Georgiy Balakan, a former top Energoatom engineer who led collaborations with U.S. national labs, Westinghouse Electric, and European agencies to upgrade safety at Ukraine’s plants. Since April he has posted a series of risk assessments, warnings, and questions aimed at securing Ukraine’s nuclear plants against internal and external attack.

On 10 July, Balakan posted a pointed essay titled “How to avoid nuclear ‘Bucha’ at the nuclear power plants of Ukraine?”—a reference to Russian forces’ scorched-earth devastation of Bucha that shocked the world in April. In it he calls for terminating senior plant officials who are past or present SBU officers, a moratorium on dismissing plant directors, and more.

The panel’s deputy chairman concurred, posting that “Russian ears are sticking out now from all sides.”

An accompanying post emphasized the risks facing the Rivne station. Balakan warns that Russia could seize Rivne via an airborne assault, noting increased Russian activity nearby in Belarus and stepped-up airborne training.

Balakan also argued that the attacks on Rivne's director, Pavlo Pavlyshyn, weaken Rivne by demoralizing plant personnel. Energoatom officials scattered from its headquarters when Russian troops and missiles surged over the border in February and March. But Rivne’s embattled director stood his ground, meeting journalists to condemn Russia’s irresponsible attacks on nuclear energy installations and garnering international support.

“From the first days of the war, his steadfast patriotic position united everyone,” agreed the City Council of Varash, Rivne’s satellite city, in a recent appeal to Zelenskyy to stop the plant’s “destabilization.” The letter echoed Balakan’s concerns about a “high probability of an armed attack,” and disputed Kotin’s allegations against Pavlyshyn and the plant’s safety.

Ilona Zayets, a journalist and former Energoatom communications aide, told IEEE Spectrum this week that Kotin and his supporters “need to discredit” Pavlyshyn before he gets to Zelenskyy, because Pavlyshyn has the inside scoop on Energoatom’s troubled projects.

If she’s right, they may be too late. Pavlyshyn posted a video this week suggesting that he’s already working against Kotin: ”Dear curators of my resignation. Your involvement in unlawful actions not in the interests of the Ukrainian state will certainly be exposed.”

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on 29 July 2022 and subsequently unpublished for additional editorial review. Spectrum apologizes for any confusion this story’s publication history may have caused.


Match ID: 107 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

NASA Sending Two More Helicopters to Mars
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 14:12:17 +0000


NASA has announced a conceptual mission architecture for the Mars Sample Return (MSR) program, and it’s a pleasant surprise. The goal of the proposed program is to return the rock samples that the Perseverance rover is currently collecting on the Martian surface to Earth, which, as you can imagine, is not a simple process. It’ll involve sending a sample-return lander (SRL) to Mars, getting those samples back to the lander, launching a rocket back to Mars orbit from the lander, and finally capturing that rocket with an orbiter that’ll cart the samples back to Earth.

As you might expect, the initial idea was to send a dedicated rover to go grab the sample tubes from wherever Perseverance had cached them and bring them back to the lander with the rocket, because how else are you going to go get them, right? But NASA has decided that Plan A is for Perseverance to drive the samples to the SRL itself. Plan B, if Perseverance can’t make it, is to collect the samples with two helicopters instead.


NASA’s approach here is driven by two things: First, Curiosity has been on Mars for 10 years, and is still doing great. Perseverance is essentially an improved version of Curiosity, giving NASA confidence that the newer rover will still be happily roving by the time the SRL lands. And second, the Ingenuity helicopter is also still doing awesome, which is (let’s be honest) kind of a surprise, considering that it’s a tech demo that was never designed for the kind of performance that we’ve seen. NASA now seems to believe that helicopters are a viable tool for operating on the Martian surface, and therefore should be considered as an option for Mars operations.

In the new sample-return mission concept, Perseverance will continue collecting samples as it explores the river delta in Jezero crater. It’ll collect duplicates of each sample, and once it has 10 samples (20 tubes’ worth), it’ll cache the duplicates somewhere on the surface as a sort of backup plan. From there, Percy will keep exploring and collecting samples (but not duplicates) as it climbs out of the Jezero crater, where it’ll meet the sample-return lander in mid-2030. NASA says that the SRL will be designed with pinpoint landing capability, able to touch down within 50 meters of where NASA wants it to, meaning that a rendezvous with Perseverance should be a piece of cake—or as much of a piece of cake as landing on Mars can ever be. After Perseverance drives up to the SRL, a big arm on the SRL will pluck the sample tubes out of Perseverance and load them into a rocket, and then off they go to orbit and eventually back to Earth, probably by 2033.

The scenario described above is how everything is supposed to work, but it depends entirely on Perseverance doing what it’s supposed to do. If the rover is immobilized, the SRL will still be able to land nearby, but those sample tubes will have to get back to the SRL somehow, and NASA has decided that the backup plan will be helicopters.

The two “Ingenuity class” helicopters that the SRL will deliver to Mars will be basically the same size as Ingenuity, although a little bit heavier. There are two big differences: first, each helicopter gets a little arm for grabbing sample tubes (which weigh between 100 and 150 grams each) off of the Martian surface. And second, the helicopters get small wheels at the end of each of their legs. It sounds like these wheels will be powered, and while they’re not going to offer a lot of mobility, presumably it’ll be enough so that if the helicopter lands close to a sample, it can drive itself a short distance to get within grabbing distance. Here’s how Richard Cook, the Mars sample-return program manager at JPL, says the helicopters would work:

A concept illustration showing a small box-like helicopter to with two rotors, wheels, and a small arm

“In the scenario where the helicopters are used [for sample retrieval], each of the helicopters would be able to operate independently. They’d fly out to the [sample] depot location from where SRL landed, land in proximity to the sample tubes, roll over to them, pick one up, then fly back in proximity to the lander, roll up to the lander, and drop [the tube] onto the ground in a spot where the [European Space Agency] sample transfer arm could pick it up and put it into the [Mars Ascent Vehicle]. Each helicopter would be doing that separately, and over the course of four or five days per tube, would bring all the sample tubes back to the lander that way.”

This assumes that Perseverance didn’t explode or roll down a hill or something, and that it would be able to drop its sample tubes on the ground for the helicopters to pick up. Worst case, if Percy completely bites it, the SRL could land near the backup sample cache in the Jezero crater and the helicopters could grab those instead.

Weirdly, the primary mission of the helicopters is as a backup to Perseverance, meaning that if the rover is healthy and able to deliver the samples to the SRL itself, the helicopters won’t have much to do. NASA says they could “observe the area around the lander,” which seems underwhelming, or take pictures of the Mars Ascent Vehicle launch, which seems awesome but not really worth sending two helicopters to Mars for. I’m assuming that this’ll get explored a little more, because it seems like a potential wasted opportunity otherwise.

We’re hoping that this announcement won’t have any impact on JPL’s concept for a much larger, much more capable Mars Science Helicopter, but this sample-return mission (rather than a new science mission) is clearly the priority right now. The most optimistic way of looking at it is that this sample-return-mission architecture is a strong vote of confidence by NASA in helicopters on Mars in general, making a flagship helicopter mission that much more likely. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed.


Match ID: 108 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Russia to pull out of International Space Station
Tue, 26 Jul 2022 17:40:07 GMT
Moscow says it now wants to build its own station, ending more than 20 years of cooperation with the US.
Match ID: 109 Score: 7.86 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 14 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

First spacewalk for Samantha Cristoforetti
Wed, 20 Jul 2022 09:00:00 +0200
Cygnus Departure from Space Station

On 21 July 2022, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will head outside the International Space Station on a spacewalk alongside cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. It will be Samantha’s first spacewalk, and the first conducted by a European woman.


Match ID: 110 Score: 7.86 source: www.esa.int age: 20 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

A helping hand for Mars
Tue, 19 Jul 2022 11:05:00 +0200
A European robotic arm for Mars

The mission to return martian samples back to Earth will see a European 2.5 metre-long robotic arm pick up tubes filled with precious soil from Mars and transfer them to a rocket for an historic interplanetary delivery.


Match ID: 111 Score: 7.86 source: www.esa.int age: 21 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

La NASA revela las primeras imágenes del telescopio Webb de un universo nunca antes visto
Tue, 12 Jul 2022 11:02 EDT
El amanecer de una nueva era en la astronomía ha comenzado mientras el mundo ve por primera vez las capacidades completas del telescopio espacial James Webb de la NASA, en asociación con la Agencia Espacial Europea (ESA, por sus siglas en inglés) y la Agencia Espacial Canadiense (CSA, por sus siglas en inglés).
Match ID: 112 Score: 7.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 28 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

NASA Reveals Webb Telescope’s First Images of Unseen Universe
Tue, 12 Jul 2022 08:21 EDT
The dawn of a new era in astronomy has begun as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
Match ID: 113 Score: 7.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 28 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

NASA Updates Coverage for Webb Telescope’s First Images Reveal
Thu, 07 Jul 2022 14:55 EDT
NASA, in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), will release the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data during a live broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 12, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Match ID: 114 Score: 7.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 33 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

City heat extremes
Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:30:00 +0200
Land-surface temperature in Milan on 18 June 2022

With air temperatures in excess of 10°C above the average for the time of year in parts of Europe, the United States and Asia, June 2022 has gone down as a record breaker. The fear is that these extreme early-season heatwaves are a taste of what could soon be the norm as climate change continues to take hold. For those in cities, the heat dissipates slower creating ‘urban heat islands’, which make everyday life even more of a struggle.

An instrument, carried on the International Space Station, has captured the recent land-surface temperature extremes for some European cities, including Milan, Paris and Prague.


Match ID: 115 Score: 7.86 source: www.esa.int age: 34 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Terrae Novae: Earth orbit, Moon and Mars
Tue, 05 Jul 2022 10:00:00 +0200
Video: 00:02:18

Terrae Novae is ESA’s exploration programme.

Terrae Novae is not only literally about exploring new worlds, but by describing the limitless opportunities for discovery, economic growth and inspiration it also expresses our ambitions for Europe’s future innovators, scientists and explorers.

This video shows the many exploration activities ESA is conducting or has planned in our Solar System, from the International Space Station to the Moon with the European Service Module and lunar Gateway modules for Artemis, and on to Mars with the Mars Sample Return campaign.

For more on ESA’s human and robotic exploration strategy see: https://www.esa.int/terraenovae


Match ID: 116 Score: 7.86 source: www.esa.int age: 35 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

NASA, ESA Finalize Agreements on Climate, Artemis Cooperation
Wed, 15 Jun 2022 10:44 EDT
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher signed two agreements Wednesday at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, further advancing the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions.
Match ID: 117 Score: 7.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 55 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

NASA Invites Media, Public to View Webb Telescope’s First Images
Tue, 14 Jun 2022 11:05 EDT
NASA, in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), will release the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data during a televised broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 12, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Match ID: 118 Score: 7.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 56 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

NASA Leadership to Advocate for Agency Missions at ESA Council Meeting
Wed, 08 Jun 2022 13:33 EDT
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy will travel to Noordwijk, Netherlands, to participate in the ESA (European Space Agency) Council Meeting on Wednesday, June 15.
Match ID: 119 Score: 7.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 62 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Mission Minerva meets Cosmic Kiss | Two astronauts in orbit
Wed, 04 May 2022 14:30:00 +0200
Video: 00:04:42

For the first time since mid 2011, ESA has two astronauts living and working together aboard the International Space Station. Watch a conversation between Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer in this rare moment for Europe in space.

The astronauts’ meeting marks a brief crossover between the start of Samantha’s second space mission, Minerva, and Matthias’s final days in orbit for his first mission, Cosmic Kiss.

Samantha arrived with Crew-4 on 28 April in SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom, while Matthias will depart with Crew-3 in SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance in May after almost six months on the Station.

In this video Matthias is impressed by Samantha’s floating ability and says it’s like she never left. Samantha confirms weightless was the thing she missed the most on Earth and talks about the differences on Station since her Italian Space Agency ASI-sponsored Futura mission in 2014-15.

Matthias is pleased with what he’s achieved in his time on Station, including the science he’s supported and the spacewalk he performed. He wishes Samantha all the best for her mission as she wishes him a safe return to Earth.

For more about Matthias and his Cosmic Kiss mission, visit the ESA mission web page. You can also learn more about Samantha and her Minerva mission on the ESA site.   


Match ID: 120 Score: 7.86 source: www.esa.int age: 97 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Smiling Sam
Mon, 25 Apr 2022 10:03:00 +0200
Image:

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is all smiles after arriving at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, last week with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins.
Collectively known as Crew-4, the astronauts flew in from Houston, Texas, USA, and are spending the days ahead in quarantine before being launched this week to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom.

“This is getting real,” said Samantha. “It’s very emotional for me, that this final stretch to the launchpad has started with the landing here, on this runway.” Samantha recalled her childhood fascination watching the Space Shuttle launches in the 1980s and her reality now: “I am landing on the Space Shuttle landing facility!”

This is the second long-duration space mission for Samantha who first flew to the orbital outpost in 2014 for her Italian Space Agency ASI-sponsored mission Futura. This year’s ESA space mission, known as Minerva, will officially begin once she reaches the Station.
Samantha will be welcomed to the Space Station by fellow ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and enjoy a short handover in orbit before Matthias returns to Earth as part of Crew-3.
Throughout her mission, Samantha will hold the role of US Orbital Segment (USOS) lead, taking responsibility for all operations within the US, European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components of the Space Station. She will support around 35 European and many more international experiments in orbit.

Samantha has the honour of many ‘firsts’ in her spaceflight career. She was the first astronaut to brew a cup of coffee in space.

Her 2014 Futura mission held the record for the longest European space mission, at 199 days, until Thomas Pesquet’s mission Alpha in 2020.

Samantha was also the first astronaut to blog extensively during training and from space. Outpost 42: Earthlings’ guide to the galaxy is a treasure trove of 289 posts about living in space.

For mission Minerva, Samantha continues to trailblaze by being the first ever astronaut on social media platform TikTok, bringing space content and European research to a wider audience. Follow Samantha to go where no TikToker has gone before!

Stay #Cristofoready for launch updates on social media on twitter by following Samantha and ESA Spaceflight.


Match ID: 121 Score: 7.86 source: www.esa.int age: 106 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

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: 122 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 112 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

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: 123 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 124 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

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: 124 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 137 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

To Catch a Falling Satellite
Mon, 14 Mar 2022 16:55:14 +0000


It is the fate of many a dead satellite to spend its last years tumbling out of control. A fuel line may burst, or solar wind may surge, or there may be drag from the outer reaches of the atmosphere—and unless a spacecraft has been designed in some way that keeps it naturally stable, chances are good that it will begin to turn end over end.

That’s a problem, because Earth orbit is getting more and more crowded. Engineers would like to corral old pieces of space junk, but they can’t safely reach them, especially if they’re unstable. The European Space Agency says there are about 30,000 “debris objects” now being tracked in Earth orbit—derelict satellites, spent rocket stages, pieces sent flying from collisions in space. There may also be 900,000 smaller bits of orbital debris—everything from loose bolts to flecks of paint to shards of insulation. They may be less than 10 centimeters long, but they can still destroy a healthy satellite if they hit at orbital speeds.

“With more satellites being launched, we might encounter more situations where we have a defunct satellite that’s occupying a valuable orbit,” says Richard Linares, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. He’s part of an American-German project, called TumbleDock/ROAM, researching ways to corral and stabilize tumbling satellites so they can be deorbited or, in some cases, perhaps even refueled or repaired.

Engineers have put up with orbital debris for decades, but Linares says the picture is changing. For one thing, satellite technology is becoming more and more affordable—just look at SpaceX, which has been launching 40 satellites a week so far this year. For another, he says, the economic benefits those satellites offer—high-speed internet, GPS, climate and crop monitoring and other applications—will be threatened if the risk of impacts keeps growing.

“I think in the next few years we’ll have the technology to do something about space debris,” says Linares. “And there are economic drivers that will incentivize companies to do this.”

The TumbleDock/ROAM team has just finished a series of tests in the cabin of the International Space Station, using NASA robots called Astrobees to stand in for a tumbling satellite and a “chaser” spacecraft sent to catch it. The goal: to figure out algorithms so that a chaser can find its target, determine its tumble rates, and calculate the safest and most efficient approach to it.

Astrobee robot experiment aboard the ISS to reach a tumbling target in space. www.youtube.com

“There’s a massive amount of large debris out there,” says Keenan Albee, a Ph.D. student on the team at MIT. “Look at some of them, with large solar panels that are ready to whack you if you don’t do the approach correctly.”

The researchers decided early on that a chase vehicle needs enough autonomy to close in on a disabled satellite on its own. Even the largest satellites are too distant for ground-based tracking stations to track their attitude with any precision. A chaser, perhaps equipped with navigation cameras, lidar, and other sensors, will need to do the job in real time.

“The tumbling motion of a satellite can be quite complex,” says Roberto Lampariello, the principal investigator on the project at the German Aerospace Center, or DLR. “And if you want to be sure you are not going to collide with any appendages while approaching the mating point, having an autonomous method of guidance is, I think, very attractive.”

The Astrobee tests on the space station showed that it can be done, at least in principle. Each Astrobee robot is a cube, about 30 centimeters on a side, with navigation cameras, compressed-air thrusters, and Snapdragon processors much like what you would find in a smartphone. For the latest test, last month, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei set up two Astrobees a couple of meters apart. They then took their commands from Albee on the ground. He started the test runs, with one robot tumbling and the other trying to rendezvous with it. There have been glitches; the Astrobees needed help determining their precise location relative to the station walls. But the results of the tests were promising.

A next step, say the researchers, is to determine how best for a chase spacecraft to grapple its target, which is especially difficult if it’s a piece of debris with no docking mechanism. Other plans over the years have involved big nets or lasers; TumbleDock/ROAM team members say they’re intrigued by grippers that use van der Waals forces between atoms, the kinds that help a gecko cling to a sheer surface.

The larger question is how to turn experiments like these into actual solutions to a growing, if lofty, problem. Low Earth orbit has been crowded enough, for long enough, that satellite makers add shielding to their vehicles and space agencies continuously scan the skies to prevent close calls. No space travelers have been killed, and there have only been a few cases in which satellites were actually pulverized. But the problem has become increasingly expensive and, in some cases, dangerous. SpaceX has launched 2,000 Starlink Internet satellites so far, may launch 30,000 more, and has other companies (like Amazon) racing to keep up. They see profits up there.

MIT’s Linares says that, in fact, is why it’s worth figuring out the space-junk problem. “There’s a reason why those orbits are valuable,” he says. Companies may spend billions to launch new satellites—and don’t want them threatened by old satellites.

“If your company’s benefiting from an orbit band,” he says, “then you’d probably better get someone to clean it up for you.”


Match ID: 125 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 148 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Following the Money in the Air-Taxi Craze
Tue, 08 Feb 2022 15:04:00 +0000


When entrepreneur JoeBen Bevirt launched Joby Aviation 12 years ago, it was just one of a slew of offbeat tech projects at his Sproutwerx ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. Today, Joby has more than 1,000 employees and it’s backed by close to US $2 billion in investments, including $400 million from Toyota Motor Corporation along with big infusions from Uber and JetBlue.

Having raked in perhaps 30 percent of all the money invested in electrically-powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft so far, Joby is the colossus in an emerging class of startups working on these radical, battery-powered commercial flyers. All told, at least 250 companies worldwide are angling to revolutionize transportation in and around cities with a new category of aviation, called urban air mobility or advanced air mobility. With Joby at the apex, the category’s top seven companies together have hauled in more than $5 billion in funding—a figure that doesn’t include private firms, whose finances haven’t been disclosed.

But with some of these companies pledging to start commercial operations in 2024, there is no clear answer to a fundamental question: Are we on the verge of a stunning revolution in urban transportation, or are we witnessing, as aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia puts it, the “mother of all aerospace bubbles”?

Even by the standards of big-money tech investment, the vision is giddily audacious. During rush hour, the skies over a large city, such as Dubai or Madrid or Los Angeles, would swarm with hundreds, and eventually thousands, of eVTOL “air taxis.” Each would seat between one and perhaps half a dozen passengers, and would, eventually, be autonomous. Hailing a ride would be no more complicated than scheduling a trip on a ride-sharing app.

“We’re going to have to get the consumer used to thinking about flying in a small aircraft without a pilot on board. I have reservations about the general public’s willingness to accept that vision.”
—Laurie Garrow, Georgia Tech

And somehow, the cost would be no greater, either. In a discussion hosted by the Washington Post last July, Bevirt declared, “Our initial price point would be comparable to the cost of a taxi or an Uber, but our target is to move quickly down to the cost of what it costs you to drive your own car. And we believe that's the critical unlock to making this transformative to the world and for people’s daily lives.” Asked to put some dollar figures on his projection, Bevirt said, “Our goal is to launch this service [in 2024] at an average price of around $3 a mile and to move that down below $1 a mile over time.” The cost of an Uber varies by city and time of day, but it’s usually between $1 and $2 per mile, not including fees.

Industry analysts tend to have more restrained expectations. With the notable exception of China, they suggest, limited commercial flights will begin with eVTOL aircraft flown by human pilots, a phase that is expected to last six to eight years at least. Costs will be similar to those of helicopter trips, which tend to be in the range of $6 to $10 per mile or more. Of the 250+ startups in the field, only three—Kittyhawk, Wisk Aero (a joint venture of Kittyhawk and Boeing), and Ehang—plan to go straight to full autonomy without a preliminary phase involving pilots, says Chris Anderson, Chief Operating Officer at Kittyhawk.

To some, the autonomy issue is the heart of whether this entire enterprise can succeed economically. “When you figure in autonomy, you go from $3 a mile to 50 cents a mile,” says Anderson, citing studies done by his company. “You can’t do that with a pilot in the seat.”

Laurie A. Garrow, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, agrees. “For the large-scale vision, autonomy will be critical,” she says. “In order to get to the vision that people have, where this is a ubiquitous mode of transportation with a high market share, the only way to get that is by… eliminating the pilot.” Garrow, a civil engineer who co-directs the university’s Center for Urban and Regional Air Mobility, adds that autonomy presents challenges beyond technology: “We’re going to have to get the consumer used to thinking about flying in a small aircraft without a pilot on board. I have reservations about the general public’s willingness to accept that vision, especially early on.”

“The technical problems are, if not solved, then solvable. The main limiters are laws and regulations.”
—Chris Anderson, COO, Kittyhawk

Some analysts have much more fundamental doubts. Aboulafia, managing director at the consultancy AeroDynamic Advisory, says the figures simply don’t add up. eVTOL startups are counting on mass-manufacturing techniques to reduce the costs of these exotic aircraft, but such techniques have never been applied to producing aircraft on the scale specified in the projections. Even the anticipated lower operating costs, Aboulafia adds, won’t compensate. “If I started a car service here in Washington, D.C., using Rolls Royces, you’d think I was out of my mind, right?,” he asks. “But if I put batteries in those Rolls Royces, would you think I was any less crazy?”

What everyone agrees on is that achieving even a modest amount of success for eVTOLs will require surmounting entire categories of challenges, including regulations and certification, technology development, and the operational considerations of safely flying large numbers of aircraft in a small airspace.

To some, certification will be the highest hurdle. “The technical problems are, if not solved, then solvable,” says Anderson. “The main limiters are laws and regulations.”

There are dozens of aviation certification agencies in the world. But the three most important ones for these new aircraft are the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S., the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Of the three, the FAA is considered the most challenging, for several reasons. One is that, to deal with eVTOLs, the agency has chosen to adapt its existing certification rules. That gives some observers pause, because the FAA does not have a body of knowledge and experience for certifying aircraft that fly by means of battery systems and electric motors. The EASA, on the other hand, has created an entirely new set of regulations tailored for eVTOL aircraft and related technology, according to Erin Rivera, senior associate for regulatory affairs at Lilium.

To clear an aircraft for commercial flight, the FAA actually requires three certifications: one for the aircraft itself, one for its operations, and one for its manufacturing. For the aircraft, the agency designates different categories, or “parts,” for different kinds of fliers. For eVTOLs (other than multicopters), the applicable category seems to be Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 23, which covers “normal, utility, acrobatic, and commuter category airplanes.” The certification process itself is performance based, meaning that the FAA establishes performance criteria that an aircraft must meet, but does not specify how it must meet them.

Because eVTOLs are so novel, the FAA is expected to lean on industry-developed standards referred to as Means of Compliance (MOC). The proposed MOCs must be acceptable to the FAA. Through a certification scheme known as the “issue paper process,” the applicant begins by submitting what’s known as a G1 proposal, which specifies the applicable certification standards and special conditions that must be met to achieve certification. The FAA reviews and then either approves or rejects the proposal. If it’s rejected, the applicant revises the proposal to address the FAA’s concerns and tries again.

“If very high levels of automation are critical to scaling, that will be very difficult to certify. How do you certify all the algorithms?”
—Matt Metcalfe, Deloitte Consulting

Some participants are wary. When he was the chief executive of drone maker 3D Robotics, Anderson participated in an analogous experiment in which the FAA had pledged to work more closely with industry to expedite certification of drone aircraft such as multicopters. “That was five years ago, and none of the drones have been certified,” Anderson points out. “It was supposed to be agile and streamlined, and it has been anything but.”

Nobody knows how many eVTOL startups have started the certification process with the FAA, although a good guess seems to be one or two dozen. Joby is furthest along in the process, according to Mark Moore, CEO of Whisper Aero, a maker of advanced electric propulsor systems in Crossville, Tenn. The G1 certification proposals are not public, but when the FAA accepts one (presumably Joby’s), it will become available through the U.S. Federal Register for public comment. Observers expect that to happen any day now.

This certification phase of piloted aircraft is fraught with unknowns because of the novelty of the eVTOL craft themselves. But experts say a greater challenge lies ahead, when manufacturers seek to certify the vehicles for autonomous flight. “If very high levels of automation are critical to scaling, that will be very difficult to certify,” says Matt Metcalfe, a managing director in Deloitte Consulting's Future of Mobility and Aviation practice. “That’s a real challenge, because it’s so complicated. How do you certify all the algorithms?”

“It’s a matter of, how do you ensure that autonomous technology is going to be as safe as a pilot?,” says an executive at one of the startups. “How do you certify that it’s always going to be able to do what it says? With true autonomous technology, the system itself can make an undetermined number of decisions, within its programming. And the way the current certification regulations work, is that they want to be able to know the inputs and outcome of every decision that the aircraft system makes. With a fully autonomous system, you can’t do that.”

Perhaps surprisingly, most experts contacted for this story agreed with Kittyhawk's Anderson that the technical challenges of building the aircraft themselves are solvable. Even autonomy—certification challenges aside—is within reach, most say. The Chinese company EHang has already offered fully autonomous, trial flights of its EH216 multicopter to tourists in the northeastern port city of Yantai and is now building a flight hub in its home city of Guangzhou. Wisk, Kittyhawk, Joby, and other companies have collectively conducted thousands of flights that were at least partially autonomous, without a pilot on board.

Experts foresee eVTOLs largely replacing helicopters for niche applications. There’s less agreement on whether middle-class people will ever be routinely whisked around cities for pennies a mile.

A more imposing challenge, and one likely to determine whether the grand vision of urban air mobility comes to pass, is whether municipal and aviation authorities can solve the challenges of integrating large numbers of eVTOLs into the airspace over major cities. Some of these challenges are, like the aircraft themselves, totally new. For example, most viable scenarios require the construction of “vertiports” in and around cities. These would be like mini airports where the eVTOLs would take off and land, be recharged, and take on and discharge passengers. Right now, it’s not clear who would pay for these. “Manufacturers probably won’t have the money to do it,” says Metcalfe at Deloitte.

As Georgia Tech's Garrow sees it, “vertiports may be one of the greatest constraints on scalability of UAM.” Vertiports, she explains, will be the “pinch points,” because at urban facilities, space will likely be limited to accommodating several aircraft at most. And yet at such a facility, room will be needed during rush hours to accommodate dozens of aircraft needing to land, be charged, take on passengers, and take off. “So the scalability of operations at the vertiports, and the amount of land space required to do that, are going to be two major challenges.”

Despite all the challenges, Garrow, Metcalfe, and others are cautiously optimistic that air mobility will eventually become part of the urban fabric in many cities. They foresee an initial period in which the eVTOLs largely replace helicopters in a few niche applications, such as linking downtown transportation depots to airports for those who can afford it, taking tourists on sightseeing tours, and transporting organs and high-risk patients among hospitals. There’s less agreement on whether middle-class people will ever be routinely whisked around cities for pennies a mile. Even some advocates think that’s more than 10 years away, if it happens at all.

If it does happen, a few studies have predicted that travel times and greenhouse-gas and pollutant emissions could all be reduced. A 2020 study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences found a substantial reduction in overall energy use for transportation under “optimistic” scenarios for urban air mobility. And a 2021 study at the University of California, Berkeley, found that in the San Francisco Bay area, overall travel times could be reduced with as few as 10 vertiports. The benefits went up as the number of vertiports increased and as the transfer times at the vertiports went down. But the study also warned that “vertiport scheduling and capacity may become bottlenecks that limit the value of UAM.”

Metacalfe notes that ubiquitous modern conveniences like online shopping have already unleashed tech-based revolutions on a par with the grand vision for UAM. “We tend to look at this through the lens of today,” he says. “And that may be the wrong way to look at it. Ten years ago we never would have thought we’d be getting two or three packages a day. Similarly, the way we move people and goods in the future could be very, very different from the way we do it today.”

This article appears in the March 2022 print issue as “What’s Behind the Air-Taxi Craze.”


Match ID: 126 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 182 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Taking Cosmology to the Far Side of the Moon
Wed, 19 Jan 2022 16:08:15 +0000


A team of Chinese researchers are planning to use the moon as a shield to detect otherwise hard-to-observe low frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum and open up a new window on the universe. The Discovering the Sky at the Longest Wavelengths (DSL) mission aims to seek out faint, low-frequency signals from the early cosmos using an array of 10 satellites in lunar orbit. If it launches in 2025 as planned, it will offer one of the very first glimpses of the universe through a new lens.

Nine “sister” spacecraft will make observations of the sky while passing over the far side of the moon, using our 3,474-kilometer-diameter celestial neighbor to block out human-made and other electromagnetic interference. Data collected in this radio-pristine environment will, according to researchers, be gathered by a larger mother spacecraft and transmitted to Earth when the satellites are on the near side of the moon and in view of ground stations.

The mission aims to map the sky and catalog the major sources of long-wavelength signals—the last, largely undiscovered area of the electromagnetic spectrum—according to a paper on the DSL mission by Xuelei Chen and others at the National Astronomical Observatories and the National Space Science Center, two institutions under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“A mission like this being in lunar orbit could make a scientific impact, particularly on cosmic dawn and dark ages science,” says Marc Klein Wolt, managing director of the Radboud Radio Lab in the Netherlands and a member of the Netherlands-China Low Frequency Explorer (NCLE), aboard the Chinese Queqiao relay satellite.

“When you open up a new window on the universe, you’re going to make new discoveries, things that you don’t know about yet—the unknown unknowns.”
—Marc Klein Wolt, Radboud Radio Lab, Netherlands

Detecting the cosmic dark ages (the time before the first stars formed and began to shine) and the cosmic dawn (when the first stars and galaxies formed) requires making observations of frequencies between 10 and 50 megahertz. Signals emitted by hydrogen atoms during these early cosmic eras have been stretched out over cosmic timescales to much longer wavelengths across 13 billion years of travel time. Radio astronomy of this kind is extremely difficult on Earth as the ionosphere interferes with or completely blocks such ultralong wavelengths.

“To measure the 'cosmic dawn' signal, or even the 'dark ages' signal, which is even more difficult, you have to be in a really quiet environment,” Wolt notes.

The satellites could, over time, measure the primordial distributions of hydrogen at several different epochs in the early life of the universe, says Wolt. Learning how the distributions changed and evolved over time and grew into bigger clusters of matter to form stars and galaxies would be an important contribution to astronomy.

Heliophysics, space weather, exoplanets, the interstellar medium, and extragalactic radio sources are just some of the other areas in which DSL’s long-wavelength astronomy could make additional new contributions.

“When you open up a new window on the universe, you're going to make new discoveries, things that you don't know about yet,” says Wolt. “The unknown unknowns.”

Astronomers in the United States and elsewhere have proposed setting up telescopes on the far side of the moon to benefit from the radio quiet to make unprecedented observations. Over billions of years, the Earth’s gravity has slowed the rotation of the moon, making it “tidally locked,” meaning the lunar far side now never faces Earth and is shielded from any electromagnetic noise created by terrestrial sources.

The DSL mission will, however, avoid the much greater cost and complexity of needing to land and set up on the moon, nor will it be required to carry radioisotope heating systems to keep electronics warm during frigid two-week-long lunar nights. On the other hand, being in orbit limits the duration of the observations the satellites can make while shielded by the moon.

Yet there are other benefits, too.

“With the train of satellites, you're able to do interferometry observations, so you combine the measurements of the various instruments together. And as they orbit around the moon, they can cover most of the sky every month,” says Wolt.

The mission presents a number of challenges, such as maintaining the satellites orbiting in a precise configuration. It would also be an early example of using small satellites for space science in deep space.

China previously attempted to test interferometry in lunar orbit with two small satellites that launched along with the Queqiao relay satellite in 2018 to support China’s Chang’e-4 lunar far side landing mission, but one of the spacecraft was lost after the burn to take them from Earth into translunar orbit. This next attempt would be much more ambitious.

The DSL team has recently completed the intensive study into the mission and is now applying for entering the engineering phase, according to Chen, targeting a launch in 2025. While the “dark side of the moon” is a misnomer, the silence (and thus at least radio darkness) on the lunar far side could offer unprecedented insight into cosmic mysteries.

Correction 19 Jan. 2022: A previous version of this post stated the DSL mission was Chinese and European. There was a proposal for a similar Sino-European effort, but another team was ultimately selected. The present mission is a Chinese one.


Match ID: 127 Score: 7.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 202 days
qualifiers: 5.00 europe, 2.86 eu

Border Patrol Agents Are Trashing Sikh Asylum-Seekers’ Turbans
Tue, 02 Aug 2022 17:45:44 +0000

“The turban is sacred.” At least 64 Sikh men have had their headwear confiscated and discarded by Yuma’s Border Patrol.

The post Border Patrol Agents Are Trashing Sikh Asylum-Seekers’ Turbans appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 128 Score: 7.14 source: theintercept.com age: 7 days
qualifiers: 7.14 migrants

The Fall and Rise of Russian Electronic Warfare
Sat, 30 Jul 2022 15:00:01 +0000


A month into Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian troops stumbled upon a nondescript shipping container at an abandoned Russian command post outside Kyiv. They did not know it then, but the branch-covered box left by retreating Russian soldiers was possibly the biggest intelligence coup of the young war.

Inside were the guts of one of Russia’s most sophisticated electronic warfare (EW) systems, the Krasukha-4. First fielded in 2014, the Krasukha-4 is a centerpiece of Russia’s strategic EW complement. Designed primarily to jam airborne or satellite-based fire control radars in the X- and Ku-bands, the Krasukha-4 Is often used alongside the Krasukha-2, which targets lower-frequency S-band search radars. Such radars are used on stalwart U.S. reconnaissance platforms, such as the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, aircraft.

And now Ukraine, including by extension its intelligence partners in NATO, had a Krasukha-4 to dissect and analyze.

That Russian troops would ditch the heart of such a valuable EW system was surprising in March, when Moscow was still making gains across the country and threatening Kyiv. Five months into the war, it is now apparent that Russia’s initial advance was already faltering when the Krasukha-4 was left by the roadside. With highways around Kyiv clogged by armored columns, withdrawing units needed to lighten their load.

The abandoned Krasukha-4 was emblematic of the puzzling failure of Russian EW in the first few months of Russia’s invasion. After nearly a decade of owning the airwaves during a Moscow-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine, EW was not decisive when Russia went to war in February. The key questions now are, why was this so, what is next for Russian EW in this oddly anachronistic war, and how might it affect the outcome?

At least three of Russia’s five electronic warfare brigades are engaged in Ukraine. And with more exposure to NATO-supplied radios, experienced Russian EW operators who cut their teeth in Syria are beginning to detect and degrade Ukrainian communications.

Electronic warfare is a pivotal if invisible part of modern warfare. Military forces rely on radios, radars, and infrared detectors to coordinate operations and find the enemy. They use EW to control the spectrum, protecting their own sensing and communications while denying access to the electromagnetic spectrum by enemy troops.

U.S. military doctrine defines EW as comprising electronic attack (EA), electronic protection, and electronic support. The most familiar of these is EA, which includes jamming, where a transmitter overpowers or disrupts the waveform of a hostile radar or radio. For instance, the Russian R-330Zh Zhitel jammer can reportedly shut down—within a radius of tens of kilometers—GPS, satellite communications, and cellphone networks in the VHF and UHF bands. Deception is also part of EA, in which a system substitutes its own signal for an expected radar or radio transmission. For example, Russian forces sent propaganda and fake orders to troops and civilians during the 2014–2022 insurgency in eastern Ukraine by hijacking the local cellular network with the RB-341V Leer-3 system. Using soldier-portable Orlan-10 drones managed by a truck-mounted control system, the Leer-3 can extend its range and impact VHF and UHF communications over wider areas.

Three Russian soldiers climb on a wheeled vehicle supporting an antenna. The Zhitel jamming system can shut down, over tens of kilometers, GPS and satellite communications. This image shows the base of one of the four antennas in a typical setup.informnapalm.org

The converse of electronic attack is electronic support (ES), which is used to passively detect and analyze an opponent’s transmissions. ES is essential for understanding the potential vulnerabilities of an adversary’s radars or radios. Therefore, most Russian EA systems include ES capabilities that allow them to find and quickly characterize potential jamming targets. Using their ES capabilities, most EA systems can also geolocate enemy radio and cellphone transmissions and then pass that information on so that it can be used to direct artillery or rocket fire—with often devastating effects.

A few Russian systems conduct ES exclusively; one example is the Moskva-1, which is a precision HF/VHF receiver that can use the reflections of TV and radio signals to conduct passive coherent location or passive radar operations. Basically, the system picks up the radio waves of commercial TV and radio transmitters in an area, which will reflect off targets like ships or aircraft. By triangulating among multiple sets of received waves, the target can be pinpointed with sufficient accuracy to track it and, if needed, shoot at it.

Key Russian Electronic Warfare Systems Deployed in Ukraine

Electronic Warfare System

Purpose

First Fielded

Notes

1RL257 Krasukha-4 Targets X-band and K u-band radars, particularly on planes, drones, missiles, and low-orbit satellites 2014 Consists of two KamAZ-6350 trucks, one a command post and the other outfitted with sensors
1L269 Krasukha-2 Targets S-band radars, particularly on airborne platforms. Often used paired with the Krasukha-4 2011 Also based on two KamAZ-6350 trucks
RB-341V Leer-3 Disrupts VHF and UHF communications, including cellular communications and military radios, over hundreds of kilometers 2015 Consists of a truck-based command post that works with Orlan-10 drones to extend its range
RH-330Zh Zhitel Jammer; can shut down GPS and satellite communications over a radius of tens of kilometers 2011 Consists of a truck command post and four telescopic-mast phased-array antennas
Murmansk-BN Long-range detection and jamming of HF military radios 2020 Russian sources claim it can jam communications thousands of kilometers away
R-934B VHF/UHF jammer that targets wireless and wired communications 1996 Consists of either a truck or a tracked vehicle and a towed 16-kilowatt generator
SPN-2, 3, 4 X- or K u-band jammers that target airborne radars and air-to-surface guidance-control radars (not available) Consists of a combat-control vehicle and an antenna vehicle
Repellent-1 Antidrone system 2016 Weighs more than 20 tonnes
Moéskva-1 Precision HF/VHF receiver for passive coherent location of enemy ships and planes 2015 Published sources cite a range of up to 400 kilometers
Sources: Wikipedia; Military Factory; Global Defence Technology; U.S. Army; Air Power Australia; U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; Russian Electronic Warfare: The Role of Electronic Warfare in the Russian Armed Forces, Jonas Kjellén, Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), 2018; Defence24

Russia uses specialized electronic-warfare units to conduct its EA and ES operations. In its ground forces, dedicated EW brigades of several hundred soldiers are assigned to the five Russian military districts—West, South, North, Central, and East—to support regional EW operations that include disrupting enemy surveillance radars and satellite communication networks over hundreds of kilometers. EW brigades are equipped with the larger Krasukha-2 and -4, Leer-3, Moskva-1, and Murmansk-BN systems (the latter of which detects and jams HF radios). Each Russian army maneuver brigade also includes an EW company of about 100 personnel that is trained to support local actions within about 50 kilometers using smaller systems, like the R-330Zh Zhitel.

Militaries use electronic protection (EP), also known as electronic countermeasures, to defend against EA and ES. Long considered an afterthought by western forces after the Cold War, EP has risen again to be perhaps the most important aspect of EW as Russia and China field increasingly sophisticated jammers and sensors. EP includes tactics and technologies to shield radio transmissions from being detected or jammed. Typical techniques include using narrow beams or low-power transmissions, as well as advanced waveforms that are resistant to jamming.

Experts have long touted Russia as having some of the most experienced and best-equipped EW units in the world. So in the early days of the 24 February invasion, analysts expected Russian forces to quickly gain control of, and then dominate, the electromagnetic spectrum. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, EW has been a key part of Russian operations in the “gray zone,” the shadowy realm between peace and war, in the Donbas region. Using Leer-3 EW vehicles and Orlan-10 drones, Moscow-backed separatists and mercenaries would jam Ukrainian communications and send propaganda over local mobile-phone networks. When Russian forces were ready to strike, the ground and airborne systems would detect Ukrainian radios and target them with rocket attacks.

But after nearly a decade of rehearsals in eastern Ukraine, when the latest escalation and invasion began in February, Russian EW was a no-show. Ukrainian defenders did not experience the jamming they faced in the Donbas and were not being targeted by drones or ground-based electronic surveillance. Although Russian forces did blow up some broadcast radio and television towers, Ukraine’s leaders continued to reach the outside world unimpeded by Russian EW.

Using counter-drone systems provided by the United States before the invasion, Ukrainian troops have downed hundreds of Russian drones by jamming their GPS signals or possibly by damaging their electronics with high-powered microwave beams.

Russia is gaining the upper hand now, having consolidated control in Ukraine's east and south as the invaded country begins running out of soldiers, weapons, and time. With more defined front lines and better logistics support from their homeland, Russian troops are now using their EW systems to guide artillery and rocket strikes. But instead of being the leading edge of Russia’s offensive, EW is coming into play only after Moscow resorted to siege tactics that call to mind the origins of EW in World War I.

The RF spectrum was a lot less busy then. Commanders used their new radios to coordinate troop movements and direct fire and employed early passive direction-finding equipment to locate or listen to enemy radio transmissions. While communications jamming emerged at the same time, it was not widely employed. Radio operators realized that simply keying their systems could send out a blast of white noise to drown the transmissions of other radios operating at the same frequencies. But this tactic had limited operational value, because it also prevented forces doing the jamming from using the same radio frequencies to communicate. Moreover, warfare happened slowly enough that the victim could simply wait out the jammer.

Thus, World War I EW was exemplified by passive detection of radio transmissions and infrequent, rudimentary jamming. The shift to more sophisticated EW systems and tactics occurred with World War II, when technological advances made airborne radars and jammers practical, better tuners allowed jamming and communicating on separate frequencies, and the increased tempo of warfare gave combatants an incentive to not just jam enemy transmissions but to intercept and exploit them as well.

Consider the Battle of Britain, when the main challenge for German pilots was reaching the right spot to drop their bombs. Germany used a radio-beacon system it called Knickebein (“crooked leg” in English) to guide its bombers to British aircraft factories, which the British countered with fake beacons that they code-named Aspirin. To support British warplanes attacking Germany in 1942, the Royal Air Force (RAF) fielded the GEE hyperbolic radio navigation system that allowed its bomber crews to use transmissions from British ground stations to determine their in-flight positions. Germany countered with jammers that drowned out the GEE transmissions.

The World War II EW competition extended to sensing and communication networks. RAF and U.S. bombers dispensed clouds of metallic chaff called Window that confused German air-defense radars by creating thousands of false radar targets. And they used VHF communication jammers, which the British called Jostle, to interfere with German ground controllers attempting to vector fighters toward allied bombers.

The move-countermove cycle accelerated in response to Soviet military aggressions and advances in the 1950s. Active countermeasures such as jammers or decoys proliferated, thanks to technological advances that enabled EW systems with greater power, wider frequency ranges, and more complex waveforms, and which were small enough to fit aircraft as well as ships.

Later, as Soviet military sensors, surface-to-air missiles, and antiship cruise missiles grew in their sophistication and numbers, the U.S. Department of Defense sought to break out of the radar-versus-electronic-attack competition by leveraging emerging materials, computer simulation, and other technologies. In the years since, the U.S. military has developed multiple generations of stealth aircraft and ships with severely reduced radio-frequency, infrared, acoustic, and visual signatures. Russia followed with its own stealth platforms, albeit more slowly after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

But today, years of underfunded aviation training and maintenance and the rapid introduction by NATO of Stinger shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles have largely grounded Russian jets and helicopters during the Ukraine invasion. So when Russian troops crossed the border, they faced a situation not unlike the armies of World War I.

Without airpower, the Russian assault crawled at the speed of their trucks and tanks. And although they proved effective in the Donbas during the last decade, Russian drones are controlled by line-of-sight radios operating in the Ka- and Ku-bands, which prevented them from straying too far from their operators on the ground. With Russian columns moving along multiple axes into Ukraine and unable to send EW drones well over the horizon, any jamming of Ukrainian forces, some of which were interspersed between Russian formations, would have also taken out Russian radios.

Russian EW units did use Leer-3 units to find Ukrainian fighters via their radio and cellphone transmissions, as they had in the Donbas. But unlike Ukraine’s rural east, the areas around Kyiv are relatively densely populated. With civilian cellphone transmissions mixed in with military communications, Russian ES systems were unable to pinpoint military transmitters and use that information to target Ukrainian troops. Making matters worse for the Russians, Ukrainian forces also began using the NATO Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, or SINCGARS.

Ukrainian troops had trained for a decade with SINCGARS, but the portable VHF combat radios were scarce until the lead-up to the Russian invasion, when the flood of NATO support sent SINCGARS radios to nearly every Ukrainian ground unit. Unlike Ukraine’s previous radios, which were Russian-built and included backdoors for the convenience of Russian intelligence, SINCGARS have built-in encryption. To protect against jamming and interception, SINCGARS automatically hops among frequencies up to 100 times a second across its overall coverage of 30 to 88 megahertz. Because SINCGARS can control signals within 25-kilohertz bands, the user can select among more than 2,000 channels.

As in World War I, the lack of airpower also affected the speed of conflict. The widely circulated videos of Russian armored convoys stuck along the roads around Kyiv were a stark reminder that ground operations can only move as fast as their fuel supply. In World War II and the Cold War, bombing missions and other air operations happened so quickly that even if jamming impacted friendly forces, the effect would be temporary, as the positions of jammers, jamming targets, and bystanders would quickly change. But when Russian forces were trundling toward the urban areas of northern Ukraine, they were going so slowly that they were unable to exploit changing geometries to get their jammers into positions from which they could have substantial effects. At the same time, Russian troops were not sitting still, which prevented them from setting up a large system like the Krasukha-4 to blind NATO radars in the air and in space.

Russian EW is gaining an advantage only now because Moscow’s strategy of quickly taking Kyiv failed, and it shifted to a grinding war of attrition in Ukraine’s south.

So what’s next? The Kremlin’s fortunes have improved now that its soldiers are fighting from Russian-held territory in Ukraine’s east. No longer spread out along multiple lines in suburban areas, invading troops are now able to use EW to support a strategy of incrementally gaining territory by finding Ukrainian positions and overwhelming them with Russia’s roughly 10-to-1 advantage in artillery.

As of this writing, at least three of Russia’s five EW brigades are engaged in Ukraine. And with more exposure to NATO-supplied radios, experienced Russian EW operators who cut their teeth in the last decade of war in Syria are beginning to detect and degrade Ukrainian communications. EW brigades are using the Leer-3’s Orlan-10 drones to detect Ukrainian artillery positions based on their radio emissions, although the encryption and frequency hopping of SINCGARS radios makes them hard to intercept and exploit. Because the front lines are now better defined compared to the early war around Kyiv, Russian forces can assume the detections are from Ukrainian military units and direct artillery and rocket fire against those locations.

side profile of an orlan 10 drone and a LEER-3 Russian military vehicle Russian troops are using Orlan-10 drones [foreground] in conjunction with the Leer-3 electronic-warfare system (which includes the truck in the background) to identify and attack Ukrainian units. iStockphoto

The Krasukha-4, which was too powerful and unwieldy to be useful during the assault on Kyiv, is also making a reappearance. Exploiting Russia’s territorial control in the Donbas, EW brigades are using the Krasukha-4 to jam the radars on such Ukrainian drones as the Bayraktar TB2, and to interfere with their communication links, preventing Ukrainian forces from locating Russian artillery emplacements.

To gain flexibility and mobility leading up to the invasion, the Russian army broke its 2,000-soldier maneuver brigades into smaller battalion tactical groups (BTGs) of 300 to 800 personnel in such a way that each included a portion of the original maneuver brigade’s EW company. Today, BTGs operating in southern and eastern Ukraine are employing shorter-range VHF-UHF electronic attack systems like the R-330Zh Zhitel to disable Ukrainian drones ranging from Bayraktar TB2s to small DJI Mavics by jamming their GPS signals. BTGs are also attacking Ukrainian communications using R-934B VHF and SPR-2 VHF/UHF jammers, with some success. Although Ukrainian soldiers have SINCGARS radios, they still rely on vulnerable cellphones and radios without encryption or frequency hopping when SINCGARS is down or unavailable.

But Ukraine is fighting back against Russia’s spectrum assault. Using counter-drone systems provided by the United States before the invasion, Ukrainian troops have downed hundreds of Russian drones by jamming their GPS signals or possibly by damaging their electronics with high-powered microwave beams, a specific type of EA where electromagnetic energy is used to generate high voltages in sensitive microelectronics that damage transistors and integrated circuits.

Ukrainian forces are also leveraging U.S.-supplied EW systems and training to jam Russian communications. Unlike their Ukrainian counterparts, Russian troops do not have a system like SINCGARS and often rely on cellphones or unencrypted radios to coordinate operations, making them susceptible to Ukrainian geolocation and jamming. In this way, stabilization of the front lines also helps Ukraine’s EW efforts because it allows quick correlation of transmissions to locations. Ukraine’s defenders also exploited a weakness of the large and powerful Russian EW systems—they are easy to find. Using U.S.-supplied ES gear, Ukrainian troops have been able to detect transmissions from systems like the Leer-3 or Krasukha-4 and direct rocket, artillery, and drone counterattacks against the truck-borne Russian systems.

The Ukraine invasion shows EW can change the course of a war, but it’s also showing that the fundamentals still matter. Without airpower or satellite-guided drones, Russia’s army could not get jammers over the horizon to degrade Ukrainian communications and radars in advance of troops moving on Kyiv. Forced to use short-range unmanned aircraft and ground systems, Russian EW brigades operating with BTGs had to worry about interfering with friendly operations and could not distinguish Ukrainian troops from civilians. They also had to stay on the move, reducing the utility of their large multivehicle EW systems. Russian EW is gaining an advantage only now because Moscow’s strategy of quickly taking Kyiv failed, and it shifted to a grinding war of attrition in Ukraine’s south.

So for now, unable to reach over the horizon, Russian EW ground units can jam Ukrainian troops only when they are separated by clearly defined battle lines. They are relying on systems like the Leer-3 to find Ukrainian emissions so Russian artillery can then overwhelm the defenders with volleys of shells and rockets. Russian EW systems like the Krasukha-4 and R-330Zh Zhitel can disable GPS or radars on Ukrainian drones, but it’s not substantially different from shooting down aircraft with guns. And although ES systems like the Moskva-4 could hear signals over the horizon, Russia is running out of the long-range missiles that could exploit such detections.

Perhaps the biggest lesson from Ukraine for EW is that winning the airwaves does not equal winning the war. Russia is on top of the EW war now only because its lighting assault became a pulverizing slog. The situation could quickly flip if Kyiv’s troops, with western support, regain control of Ukraine’s skies, where they could electronically and physically disrupt the management and logistics that keep Russia’s rickety war machine trundling along.


Match ID: 129 Score: 6.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 10 days
qualifiers: 3.57 germany, 2.86 eu

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).

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: 130 Score: 4.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 32 days
qualifiers: 4.29 spain

A city break in modern Madrid: the new guide to Spain’s capital
Thu, 09 Jun 2022 11:49:54 GMT

With the country’s capital on the crest of a new wave, a Madrileño local picks out the best places to eat, drink, visit, shop and stay

Standing in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square, a brass plaque underfoot marks Spain’s geographical centre. This is the point from which distances to the rest of the country are measured – it is quite literally the heart of the nation. Stroll through here within the next year, however, and you’re likely to find this historic square undergoing a major redesign, with plans for glass pavilions, cycle lanes and new granite paving.

Aptly for the city’s literal core, Puerta del Sol’s transformation is being mirrored across Madrid – the city is taking on a new topography. Following Madrid Rio, the emblematic Plaza de España has recently received a makeover, while the Madrid Nuevo Norte urban regeneration project aims to breathe new life into the north of the city.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 131 Score: 4.29 source: www.theguardian.com age: 61 days
qualifiers: 4.29 spain

What Germany's Lack of Race Data Means During a Pandemic
Wed, 13 Jul 2022 12:00:00 +0000
Due to its history with the Holocaust, calling race by its name has often been contested. Black Germans say that this policy can ignore disparate impact.
Match ID: 132 Score: 3.57 source: www.wired.com age: 27 days
qualifiers: 3.57 germany

Could hydrogen ease Germany's reliance on Russian gas?
Tue, 24 May 2022 10:45:43 GMT
Why hydrogen might be one route for Germany to move away from dependence on Russian imports.
Match ID: 133 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 77 days
qualifiers: 3.57 germany

Gut instinct: how your diet shapes your mind
Mon, 01 Aug 2022 10:39:31 GMT

There’s a reason our gut is known as the ‘second brain’ – what you eat has an effect on your mind

The idea that many of our emotions and feelings are linked to the gut is an ancient one. More than 2,000 years ago, the Romans made reference to what we today describe as a “gut feeling”. Now, modern science indicates that the gut may indeed play a role in mood disorders and our mental health.

The gut is covered in nerve cells known as neurons – cells that transmit signals to other neurons, and which are also fundamental to our brains. Research suggests that this network, known as the enteric nervous system, contains more than 100m neurons. This complex network of cells in our gut is able to function independently of the brain and spinal cord, and is often referred to as the body’s “second brain”.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 134 Score: 2.86 source: www.theguardian.com age: 8 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

VR Still Stinks Because It Doesn’t Smell
Sun, 31 Jul 2022 11:00:00 +0000
Scent is the realest sense. For virtual reality to feel truly immersive, it needs to start stinking it up.
Match ID: 135 Score: 2.86 source: www.wired.com age: 9 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

You Pay More When Companies Get Hacked
Sat, 30 Jul 2022 13:00:00 +0000
Plus: Google delays the end of cookies (again), EU officials were targeted with Pegasus spyware, and more of the top security news.
Match ID: 136 Score: 2.86 source: www.wired.com age: 10 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Video Friday: Grip Anything
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 16:00:00 +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.

IEEE CASE 2022: 20–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!


A University of Washington team created a new tool that can design a 3D-printable passive gripper and calculate the best path to pick up an object. The team tested this system on a suite of 22 objects—including a 3D-printed bunny, a doorstop-shaped wedge, a tennis ball and a drill.

[ UW ]

Combining off-the-shelf components with 3D-printing, the Wheelbot is a symmetric reaction wheel unicycle that can jump onto its wheels from any initial position. With non-holonomic and under-actuated dynamics, as well as two coupled unstable degrees of freedom, the Wheelbot provides a challenging platform for nonlinear and data-driven control research.

[ Wheelbot ]

I think we posted a similar video to this before, but it’s so soothing and beautifully shot and this time it’s fully autonomous. Watch until the end for a very impressive catch!

[ Griffin ]

Quad-SDK is an open source, ROS-based full stack software framework for agile quadrupedal locomotion. The design of Quad-SDK is focused on the vertical integration of planning, control, estimation, communication, and development tools which enable agile quadrupedal locomotion in simulation and hardware with minimal user changes for multiple platforms.

[ Quad-SDK ]

Zenta makes some of the best legged robots out there, including MorpHex, which appears to be still going strong.

And now, a relaxing ride with MXPhoenix :

[ Zenta ]

We have developed a set of teleoperation strategies using human hand gestures and arm movements to fully teleoperate a legged manipulator through whole-body control. To validate the system, a pedal bin item disposal demo was conducted to show that the robot could exploit its kinematics redundancy to follow human commands while respecting certain motion constraints, such as keeping balance.

[ University of Leeds ]

Thanks Chengxu!

An introduction to HEBI’s Robotics line of modular mobile bases for confined spaces, dirty environments, and magnetic crawling.

[ HEBI Robotics ]

Thanks Kamal!

Loopy is a robotic swarm of 1- Degree of Freedom (DOF) agents (i.e., a closed-loop made of 36 Dynamixel servos). In this iteration of Loopy, agents use average consensus to determine the orientation of a received shape that requires the least amount of movement. In this video, Loopy is spelling out the Alphabet.

[ WVUIRL ]

The latest robotics from DLR, as shared by Bram Vanderborght.

[ DLR ]

Picking a specific object from clutter is an essential component of many manipulation tasks. Partial observations often require the robot to collect additional views of the scene before attempting a grasp. This paper proposes a closed-loop next-best-view planner that drives exploration based on occluded object parts.

[ Active Grasp ]

This novel flying system combines an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle with ground penetrating radar to detect buried objects such as landmines. The system stands out with sensor specific low altitude flight maneuvers and high accuracy position estimation. Experiments show radar detections of targets buried in sand.

[ FindMine ]

In this experiment, we demonstrate a combined exploration and inspection mission using the RMF-Owl collision tolerant aerial robot inside the Nutec RelyOn facilities in Trondheim, Norway. The robot is tasked to autonomously explore and inspect the surfaces of the environment—within a height boundary—with its onboard camera sensor given no prior knowledge of the map.

[ NTNU ]

Delivering donuts to our incredible Turtlebot 4 development team! Includes a full walkthrough of the mapping and navigation capabilities of the Turtlebot 4 mobile robot with Maddy Thomson, Robotics Demo Designer from Clearpath Robotics. Create a map of your environment using SLAM Toolbox and learn how to get your Turtlebot 4 to navigate that map autonomously to a destination with the ROS 2 navigation stack.

[ Clearpath ]


Match ID: 137 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Will a Baby Born Today Grow up to Live Like the Jetsons?
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:00:00 +0000


“The Jetsons” premiered on ABC on 23 September 1962. Set 100 years in the future, the animated comedy series followed the Jetson family—George and Jane and their kids, Judy and Elroy—as they went about their futurist yet surprisingly relatable lives in Orbit City, in a tech-laden house on adjustable columns, commuting by flying car and gliding along moving sidewalks, even in their own home. Although the series ran for just one season, the Jetsons and their wacky space-age world have remained pop-culture touchstones ever since, thanks to near-continuous syndication, two later seasons in the 1980s, and several TV specials and movies.

And, of course, merchandise. A year after the premiere of “The Jetsons,” Aladdin Industries manufactured the steel lunch box pictured above. Plain, dome-style lunch boxes had long been used by factory workers, but this one, adorned with the Jetson family, Astro the dog, and Rosey the robot maid, was intended for the grade-school set.


Food technology is a recurring theme on the show. In Episode 1, the Foodarackacycle, a push-button meal dispenser, badly malfunctions, leading to the hiring of Rosey, the robot maid with a Brooklyn accent and a heart of gold. In a later episode, Jane Jetson uses the (rotary) Dial-a-Meal to order up a complete breakfast, including burnt toast, in pill form—yet coffee remains a liquid served in a cup. And in the opening credits, Elroy zooms off to school in a space pod but toting a solidly 20th-century lunch box.

If the Jetsons’ food tech was a push button too far, many of the other gadgets that they used are commonplace today: video calls, e-readers and tablets, smart watches. I am still waiting for my jet pack and flying car. For a deep dive into the culture and technology of “The Jetsons,” check out Matt Novak’s Paleofuture blog. Back in 2012, for the show’s 50th anniversary, he dissected all 24 episodes of the original series. Not all of the episode breakdowns are still available, but his discourse on Episode 1 is worth a read.

“The Jetsons” was the first program broadcast in color on ABC. Unfortunately, only viewers in a few select markets—Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco—could actually see the show in color. Elsewhere, it aired in black and white. The network had been slow to jump on the color-TV bandwagon, not quite convinced the technology was here to stay. After all, RCA had just started turning a profit on color televisions the previous year, and only 3 percent of Americans owned color televisions at the time.

The series ran for just one season, and yet the Jetsons and their wacky space-age world have remained pop-culture touchstones ever since.

As a cultural historian who trained as an electrical engineer, I’m impressed by how pervasively “The Jetsons” has seeped into society. While researching this piece, I came across an academic article that used the show in a mock court case, another one that invoked George Jetson and the tragedy of the commons to analyze the problem of waste management, and countless news articles that name-checked the Jetsons in their headlines to draw attention to new inventions. In 2007 Forbes did a ranking of the top 25 fictional companies; Spacely Space Sprockets, where George Jetson worked, came in dead last, with estimated annual sales of US $1.3 billion. The lunch box pictured at top is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“The Jetsons” clearly has staying power. I peg much of its enduring popularity to the fact that it was in almost nonstop syndication for decades as part of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup. That’s where I first saw the show, over and over again, until a second season of 41 episodes was added in 1985. Ten more episodes came out in 1987, followed by a smattering of movies, TV specials, and direct-to-video or -DVD releases. So many kids grew up watching “The Jetsons” from the 1960s through the 1980s that the show has become a handy shortcut for talking about futuristic technology.

And in the Jetsons’ world, that futuristic technology might occasionally backfire, but it is never menacing or threatening. Automation has finally delivered on its labor-saving promise, and George works just 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. Everyone is living their best lives. What’s not to love?

Happy Birthday, George Jetson!

And now for the impetus for this month’s column: According to devoted “Jetsons” fans and Internet sleuths, George Jetson was born right about now—as in July or August 2022. It’s a little difficult to pinpoint the exact birth date of a fictional cartoon character of the future who was introduced almost 60 years ago yet won’t reach adulthood for a couple more decades. But here is what we know.

The cardboard cover of a board game called \u201cThe Jetsons Game\u201d shows a cartoon family of four plus two pets in a spacecraft. This board game came out in 1985, with the second season of “The Jetsons” and more than two decades after the original show aired.The Strong, Rochester, N.Y.

Speculations about George’s birthday saw an uptick last November, with various wikis and memes suggesting that it falls on either 31 July or 27 August 2022. Although George never celebrates his birthday in any episode, fans combed the Hanna-Barbera canon to arrive at the date, even if it meant doing some mathematical gymnastics to get there.

So many kids grew up watching “The Jetsons” that the show has become a handy shortcut for talking about futuristic technology.

According to various Internet sources, the original promotional materials for “The Jetsons” described its setting as exactly 100 years in the future—September 2062, in other words. From the opening credits, we learn that George is a happily married, middle-aged father of two. His son, Elroy, is in elementary school, while his daughter, Judy, attends Orbit High.

George’s age is revealed in the episode “Test Pilot,” in which George’s boss sends him to the doctor for an annual checkup. (George needs this physical for insurance coverage; even in the second half of the 21st century, people don’t have universal health care.) Due to a mix-up at the lab, George thinks his death is imminent, so he agrees to engage in high-risk behavior—namely, testing the survivability of the Spacely Lifejacket, a supposedly indestructible garment. George’s doctor eventually reveals the mix-up and tells George that he will live to 150. George, wearing the lifejacket and about to be fired upon by missiles, screams, “I got 110 good years ahead of me!” Do the math: He must be 40 years old. So happy birthday, Mr. Jetson.

That also means the high-tech world inhabited by the Jetsons is just 40 years away. Will food replicators cook our meals by then? Maybe. Will our flying cars fold up into briefcases? Maybe not.

Part of a continuing series looking at photographs of historical artifacts that embrace the boundless potential of technology.

An abridged version of this article appears in the August 2022 print issue as “Lunch Box of the Future.”


Match ID: 138 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

U.S. Passes Landmark Act to Fund Semiconductor Manufacturing
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 14:53:55 +0000


Legislation aimed at increasing semiconductor manufacturing in the United States has finally passed both houses of Congress, following a multiyear journey that saw many mutations and delays. The CHIPS and Science Act, provides about US $52 billion over 5 years to grow semiconductor manufacturing and authorizes a 25 percent tax credit for new or expanded facilities that make semiconductors or chipmaking equipment. It’s part of a $280 billion package aimed at improving the United States’ ability to compete in future technologies. And it comes amidst efforts by other nations and regions to boost chip manufacturing, an industry increasingly seen as a key to economic and military security.

“This is going to make a huge difference in how the U.S. does innovation,” says Russell T. Harrison, acting managing director of IEEE-USA, who has been involved in the legislation since its beginnings more than two years ago.

The bill’s $52 billion includes $39 billion in grants for new manufacturing, $11 billion for federal semiconductor research programs and workforce development, and $2 billion for Defense Department–related microelectronics activities.

“Twenty-five percent [tax credit] means we’re in it to win.”
—Ian Steff, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce

In addition, the bill directs $200 million over five years to the National Science Foundation to “promote growth of the semiconductor workforce.” The Commerce Department expects the United States will need 90,000 more workers in the semiconductor industry by 2025.

And there’s a further $500 million for “coordinating with foreign government partners to support international information and communications technology security and semiconductor supply-chain activities, including supporting the development and adoption of secure and trusted telecommunications technologies, semiconductors, and other emerging technologies.”

The 25 percent tax credit goes a long way toward making the building of new capacity in the United States comparable with building it offshore, according to Ian Steff, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and now a consultant advising Minnesota-based chip foundry Skywater Technology. “Twenty-five percent means we’re in it to win,” he says.

The legislation has been variously sold as an opportunity to create well-paid jobs, a chance to strengthen the semiconductor supply chain following the chip shortage of 2020, and as a national-defense imperative that would lessen the concern that China might strangle the supply of 90 percent of the most advanced logic by attacking Taiwan. It might be all of that.

Big chip manufacturers have been planning to add and expand fabs in anticipation of government incentives. GlobalFoundries is doing a $1 billion addition in Malta, N.Y. TSMC is already building a $12 billion facility in Arizona. And Samsung plans a $17 billion fab outside Austin, while dangling the possibility of nearly $200 billion in the future. Intel was probably the most explicit in its expectations. When it announced a plan for a $20 billion fab complex in Ohio, Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel senior vice president of manufacturing, supply chain, and operations made the strings explicit: “The scope and pace of Intel’s expansion in Ohio...will depend heavily on funding from the CHIPS Act,” he said at the time. The company said its investment could reach $100 billion over ten years with the proper government backing.

Getting this far has been “an effort that has transcended administrations and gotten bipartisan support since its early inception,” says Steff. Still, the legislation was stalled for a long time. The bill that passed in Congress largely appropriates funds for things that were already authorized in a the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, which passed in January of that year.

Within the U.S. semiconductor industry much of the debate fell into what Harrison calls the “normal legislative process.” Companies or industry sectors not covered under the legislation fight to gain inclusion, while those already on the inside fight to keep it exclusive, concerned that the pool of funds will become diluted. Some initial outsiders succeeded: Chip packaging, which has grown increasingly important as advanced processor makers find they cannot get enough computing from a single sliver of silicon, was swiftly added. Efforts to expand the bill beyond its manufacturing scope continued nearly up until the end. According to reports, chip designers whose processors are manufactured by others, including AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm, indicated their displeasure that they would not get in on the act.

Finding the balance of who’s in and who’s out meant making the terms broad enough to accomplish the goal of bringing chip manufacturing to the United States “without making it so broad that it becomes mush,” says Harrison. “They have now settled on something a little bigger than they had at first, but it’s focused on chips and their manufacture.”


Match ID: 139 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Turing Award Winner On His Pioneering Algorithms
Wed, 27 Jul 2022 18:00:00 +0000


Jack Dongarra’s dream job growing up was to teach science at a public high school in Chicago.

“I was pretty good in math and science, but I wasn’t a particularly good student,” Dongarra says, laughing.

After he graduated high school, there was only one university he wanted to attend: Chicago State. That’s because, he says, it was known for “churning out teachers.” Chicago State accepted his application, and he decided to major in mathematics.


His physics professor suggested that Dongarra apply for an internship at the Argonne National Laboratory, in Lemont, Ill., a nearby U.S. Department of Energy science and engineering research center. For 16 weeks he worked with a group of researchers designing and developing EISPACK, a package of Fortran routines that compute the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of matrices—calculations common in scientific computing.

Dongarra acknowledges he didn’t have a background in or knowledge of eigenvalues and eigenvectors—or of linear algebra—but he loved what he was doing. The experience at Argonne, he says, was transformative. He had found his passion.

“I thought it was a cool thing to do,” he says, “so I kept pursuing it.”

About Jack Dongarra


Employer: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Title: Professor emeritus, computer science

Member grade: Life Fellow

Alma mater: Chicago State University

The IEEE Life Fellow has since made pioneering contributions to numerical algorithms and libraries for linear algebra, which allowed software to make good use of high-performance hardware. His open-source software libraries are used in just about every computer, from laptops to the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The libraries include basic linear algebra subprograms (BLAS), the linear-algebra package LAPACK, parallel virtual machines (PVMs), automatically tuned linear algebra software (ATLAS), and the high-performance conjugate gradient (HPCG) benchmark.

For his work, he was honored this year with the 2021 A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. He received US $1 million as part of the award, which is known as the Nobel Prize of computing.

“When I think about previous Turing Award recipients, I’m humbled to think about what I’ve learned from their books and papers,” Dongarra says. “Their programming languages, theorems, techniques, and standards have helped me develop my algorithms.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be this year’s recipient. The award is a recognition by the computer-science community that the contributions we are making in high-performance computing are important and have an impact in the broader computer-science community and science in general.”

Dongarra didn’t end up teaching science to high school students. Instead, he became a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he taught for 33 years. The university recently named him professor emeritus.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

After graduating from Chicago State in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Dongarra went on to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at the Illinois Institute of Technology, also in Chicago. While there he worked one day a week for Argonne with the same team of researchers. After he got his degree in 1973, the lab hired him full time as a researcher.

With encouragement from his colleagues to pursue a Ph.D., he left the lab to study applied mathematics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He honed his knowledge of linear algebra there and began working out algorithms and writing software.

He returned to Argonne after getting his doctorate in 1980 and worked there as a senior scientist until 1989, when he got the opportunity to fulfill his dream of teaching.

He was offered a joint position teaching computer science at the University of Tennessee and conducting research at the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory which, like Argonne, is a Department of Energy facility.

“It was time for me to try out some new things,” he says. “I was ready to try my hand at academia.”

He says Oak Ridge operated in a similar way to Argonne, and the culture there was more or less the same.

“The challenge,” he says, “was becoming a university professor.”

"The Turing Award is a recognition by the computer science community that the contributions we are making in high-performance computing are important, and have an impact in the broader computer science community and science in general.”

University culture is very different from that at a government laboratory, he says, but he quickly fell into the rhythm of the academic setting.

Although he loved teaching, he says, he also was attracted to the opportunity the university gave its instructors to work on technology they are passionate about.

“You follow your own path and course of research,” he says. “I’ve prospered in that environment. I interact with smart people, I have the ability to travel around the world, and I have collaborations going on with people in many countries.

“Academia gives you this freedom to do things and not be constrained by a company’s drive or its motivation. Rather, I get to work on what motivates me. That’s why I’ve stayed in academia for so many years.”

Man with glasses and checkered shirt sitting in front of a Tektronix computer. In 1980, Dongarra worked as a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, in Lemont, Ill.Jack Dongarra

Dongarra founded the university’s Innovative Computing Laboratory, whose mission is to provide tools for high-performance computing to the scientific community. He also directs the school’s Center for Information Technology Research.

He is now a distinguished researcher at Oak Ridge, which he calls “a wonderful place, with its state-of-the-art equipment and the latest computers.”

Software for Supercomputers

It was working in creative environments that led Dongarra to come up with what many describe as world-changing software libraries, which have contributed to the growth of high-performance computing in many areas including artificial intelligence, data analytics, genomics, and health care.

“The libraries we designed have basic components that are needed in many areas of science so that users can draw on those components to help them solve their computational problems,” he says. “That software is portable and efficient. It has all the attributes that we want in terms of being understandable and providing reliable results.”

He’s currently working on creating a software library for the world’s fastest supercomputer, Frontier, which recently was installed at the Oak Ridge lab. It is the first computer that can process more than 1 quintillion operations per second.

Computer-Science Recognition

Dongarra has been an IEEE member for more than 30 years.

“I enjoy interacting with the community,” he says in explaining why he continues to belong. “Also I enjoy reading IEEE Spectrum and journals that are relevant to my specific field.”

He has served as an editor for several IEEE journals including Proceedings of the IEEE, IEEE Computer Architecture Letters, and IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems.

Dongarra says he’s a big promoter of IEEE meetings and workshops, especially the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis, sponsored by ACM and the IEEE Computer Society, of which he is a member. He’s been attending the event every year since 1988. He has won many awards at the conference for his papers.

“That conference is really a homecoming for the high-performance computing community,” he says, “and IEEE plays a major role.”

IEEE is proud of Dongarra’s contributions to computing and has honored him over the years. In 2008 he received the first IEEE Medal of Excellence in Scalable Computing. He also received the 2020 Computer Pioneer Award, the 2013 ACM/IEEE Ken Kennedy Award, the 2011 IEEE Charles Babbage Award and the 2003 Sidney Fernbach Award.

“I’m very happy and proud to be a member of IEEE,” he says. “I think it provides a valuable service to the community.”


Match ID: 140 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 13 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Necrobotics: Dead Spiders Reincarnated as Robot Grippers
Tue, 26 Jul 2022 21:34:29 +0000


Bugs have long taunted roboticists with how utterly incredible they are. Astonishingly mobile, amazingly efficient, super robust, and in some cases, literally dirt cheap. But making a robot that’s an insect equivalent is extremely hard—so hard that it’s frequently easier to just hijack living insects themselves and put them to work for us. You know what’s even easier than that, though?

Hijacking and repurposing dead bugs. Welcome to necrobotics.


Spiders are basically hydraulic (or pneumatic) grippers. Living spiders control their limbs by adjusting blood pressure on a limb-by-limb basis through an internal valve system. Higher pressure extends the limb, acting against an antagonistic flexor muscle that curls the limb when the blood pressure within is reduced. This, incidentally, is why spider legs all curl up when the spider shuffles off the mortal coil: There’s a lack of blood pressure to balance the force of the flexors.

This means that actuating all eight limbs of a spider that has joined the choir invisible is relatively straightforward. Simply stab it in the middle of that valve system, inject some air, and poof, all of the legs inflate and straighten.

Our strategy contrasts with bioinspired approaches in which researchers look to the spider’s physical morphology for design ideas that are subsequently implemented in complex engineered systems, and also differs from biohybrid systems in which live or active biological materials serve as the basis for a system, demanding careful and precise maintenance.

We repurposed the cadaver of a spider to create a pneumatically actuated gripper that is fully functional following only one simple assembly step, allowing us to circumvent the usual tedious and constraining fabrication steps required for fluidically driven actuators and grippers

This work, from researchers at the Preston Innovation Lab at Rice University, in Houston, is described in a paper just published in Advanced Science. In the paper, the team does a little bit of characterization of the performance of the deceased-spider gripper, and it’s impressive: It can lift 1.3 times its own weight, exert a peak gripping force of 0.35 millinewton, and can actuate at least 700 times before the limbs or the valve system start to degrade in any significant way. After 1,000 cycles, some cracks appear in the dead spider’s joins, likely because of dehydration. But the researchers think that by coating the spider in something like beeswax, they could likely forestall this breakdown a great deal. The demised-spider gripper is able to successfully pick up a variety of objects, likely because of a combination of the inherent compliance of the legs as well as hairlike microstructures on the legs that work kind of like a directional adhesive.

We are, unfortunately (although somewhat obviously), unable to say that no spiders were harmed over the course of this research. According to the paper, “the raw biotic material (i.e., the spider cadaver) was obtained by euthanizing a wolf spider through exposure to freezing temperature (approximately -4 °C) for a period of 5–7 days.” The researchers note that “there are currently no clear guidelines in the literature regarding ethical sourcing and humane euthanasia of spiders,” which is really something that should be figured out, considering how much we know about the cute-but-still-terrifying personalities some spiders have.

The wolf spider was a convenient choice because it exerts a gripping force approximately equal to its own weight, which raises the interesting question of what kind of performance could be expected from spiders of different sizes. Based on a scaling analysis, the researchers suggest that itty-bitty 10-milligram jumping spiders could exert a gripping force exceeding 200 percent of their body weight, while very much not itty-bitty 200-gram goliath spiders may only be able to grasp with a force that is 10 percent of their body weight. But that works out to 20 grams, which is still kind of terrifying. Goliath spiders are big.

For better or worse, insects seem likely to offer the most necrobotic potential, because fabricating pneumatics and joints and muscles at that scale can be very challenging, if not impossible. And spiders (as well as other spiderlike insects) in particular offer biodegradable, eco-friendly on-demand actuation with capabilities that the researchers hope to extend significantly. A capacitive proximity sensor could enable autonomy, for example, to “discreetly capture small biological creatures for sample collection in real-world scenarios.” Independent actuation of limbs could result in necrobotic locomotion. And the researchers are also planning to explore high-speed articulation with whip scorpions as well as true microscale manipulation with Patu digua spiders. I’ll let you google whip scorpion on your own because they kind of freak me out, but here’s a picture of a Patu digua, with a body measuring about a quarter of a millimeter:

A very close up picture of a tiny white spider on a green leaf

Squee!


Match ID: 141 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 14 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Satellite firms Eutelsat and OneWeb aim to combine operations
Tue, 26 Jul 2022 10:58:07 GMT
The French company is set to merge with the satellite firm pulled from bankruptcy by the UK government.
Match ID: 142 Score: 2.86 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 14 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Burgers with Bugs? What Happens When Restaurants Ignore Online Reviews
2022-07-26T00:00:00EDT
Negative Yelp reviews hold more sway with consumers than restaurateurs might think. A machine learning study by Chiara Farronato reveals how online platforms amplify the customer voice, and why business owners should listen.
Match ID: 143 Score: 2.86 source: hbswk.hbs.edu age: 15 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Neutron stars: New telescope detects dead suns colliding
Thu, 21 Jul 2022 15:42:22 GMT
Light from the crashes is only visible for a couple of nights.
Match ID: 144 Score: 2.86 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 19 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

AI Art Is Challenging the Boundaries of Curation
Sun, 17 Jul 2022 11:00:00 +0000
Artists working with programs like DALL-E do more than push a button—selecting outputs and engineering prompts are acts of aesthetic expression.
Match ID: 145 Score: 2.86 source: www.wired.com age: 23 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

TOP 10 AI MARKETING TOOLS YOU SHOULD USE
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 10 AI marketing tools every marketer should start using today.

1. 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 contacts
  • Works with every ESP and CRM
  • Easy to get up and running in days
  • Enterprise-grade technology at a low cost for SMBs

2. Seventh Sense

  Seventh Sense provides behavioral analytics that help 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

3. 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

4. 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 for 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

 5. 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 of time
  • Lets you try all your ideas across multiple pages for full-funnel optimization
  • Offers visual and code editors

6. Acrolinx

  Acrolinx is a content alignment platform that helps brands scale and improve 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 uses automation to shorten your editorial process.
  • Integrates with more than 50 tools and platforms, including Google Docs, Microsoft Word, WordPress and most web browsers.

7. 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

8. 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 cart, 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

9. 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.

10. 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, runs trial campaigns on a small group of customers—with results refined by Albert itself—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.



Match ID: 146 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 27 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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.

illustration depicting features of JWST's sunshield STScI/NASA

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: 147 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 33 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 148 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 61 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

NASA, FEMA Release Comprehensive Climate Action Guide
Wed, 08 Jun 2022 12:37 EDT
NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have released a guide which provides resources for adapting to and mitigating impacts of climate change.
Match ID: 149 Score: 2.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 62 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Affiliate Marketing
Wed, 01 Jun 2022 13:03:00 +0000

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Affiliate Marketing


There are lots of questions floating around about how affiliate marketing works, what to do and what not to do when it comes to setting up a business. With so much uncertainty surrounding both personal and business aspects of affiliate marketing. In this post, we will answer the most frequently asked question about affiliate marketing

1. What is affiliate marketing?

 Affiliate marketing is a way to make money by promoting the products and services of other people and companies. You don't need to create your product or service, just promote existing ones. That's why it's so easy to get started with affiliate marketing. You can even get started with no budget at all!


2. What is an affiliate program?

 An affiliate program is a package of information you create for your product, which is then made available to potential publishers. The program will typically include details about the product and its retail value, commission levels, and promotional materials. Many affiliate programs are managed via an affiliate network like ShareASale, which acts as a platform to connect publishers and advertisers, but it is also possible to offer your program directly.

3. What is an affiliate network and how do affiliate networks make money? 

 Affiliate networks connect publishers to advertisers.  Affiliate networks make money by charging fees to the merchants who advertise with them; these merchants are known as advertisers. The percentage of each sale that the advertiser pays is negotiated between the merchant and the affiliate network.

4. What's the difference between affiliate marketing and dropshipping?

 Dropshipping is a method of selling that allows you to run an online store without having to stock products. You advertise the products as if you owned them, but when someone makes an order, you create a duplicate order with the distributor at a reduced price. The distributor takes care of the post and packaging on your behalf. As affiliate marketing is based on referrals and this type of drop shipping requires no investment in inventory when a customer buys through the affiliate link, no money exchanges hands.

 5. Can affiliate marketing and performance marketing be considered the same thing?

 Performance marketing is a method of marketing that pays for performance, like when a sale is made or an ad is clicked This can include methods like PPC (pay-per-click) or display advertising. Affiliate marketing is one form of performance marketing where commissions are paid out to affiliates on a performance basis when they click on their affiliate link and make a purchase or action.

 6. Is it possible to promote affiliate offers on mobile devices?

 Smartphones are essentially miniature computers, so publishers can display the same websites and offers that are available on a PC. But mobiles also offer specific tools not available on computers, and these can be used to good effect for publishers. Publishers can optimize their ads for mobile users by making them easy to access by this audience. Publishers can also make good use of text and instant messaging to promote their offers. As the mobile market is predicted to make up 80% of traffic in the future, publishers who do not promote on mobile devices are missing out on a big opportunity.

7. Where do I find qualified publishers?

 The best way to find affiliate publishers is on reputable networks like ShareASale Cj(Commission Junction), Awin, and Impact radius. These networks have a strict application process and compliance checks, which means that all affiliates are trustworthy.

8. What is an affiliate disclosure statement?

 An affiliate disclosure statement discloses to the reader that there may be affiliate links on a website, for which a commission may be paid to the publisher if visitors follow these links and make purchases.

 9. Does social media activity play a significant role in affiliate marketing?

 Publishers promote their programs through a variety of means, including blogs, websites, email marketing, and pay-per-click ads. Social media has a huge interactive audience, making this platform a good source of potential traffic.

10. What is a super affiliate?

 A super affiliate is an affiliate partner who consistently drives a large majority of sales from any program they promote, compared to other affiliate partners involved in that program.  Affiliates make a lot of money from affiliate marketing Pat Flynn earned more than $50000 in 2013 from affiliate marketing.

11. How do we track publisher sales activity?

 Publishers can be identified by their publisher ID, which is used in tracking cookies to determine which publishers generate sales. The activity is then viewed within a network's dashboard.

 12. Could we set up an affiliate program in multiple countries?

 Because the Internet is so widespread, affiliate programs can be promoted in any country. Affiliate strategies that are set internationally need to be tailored to the language of the targeted country.

13. How can affiliate marketing help my business?

Affiliate marketing can help you grow your business in the following ways:

  •  It allows you to save time and money on marketing, which frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
  •  You get access to friendly marketers who are eager to help you succeed. 
  • It also helps you to promote your products by sharing links and banners with a new audience.
  •  It offers high ROI(Return on investment) and is cost-effective.

 14. How do I find quality publishers?

 One of the best ways to work with qualified affiliates is to hire an affiliate marketing agency that works with all the networks. Affiliates are carefully selected and go through a rigorous application process to be included in the network.

15. How Can we Promote Affiliate Links?

 Affiliate marketing is generally associated with websites, but there are other ways to promote your affiliate links, including:

  • A website or blog
  • Through email marketing and newsletter
  • Social media, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
  •  Leave a comment on blogs or forums.
  • Write an e-book or other digital product.
  • Youtube

 16. Do you have to pay to sign up for an affiliate program?

 To build your affiliate marketing business, you don't have to invest money in the beginning. You can sign up for free with any affiliate network and start promoting their brands right away.

17. What is a commission rate?

 Commission rates are typically based on a percentage of the total sale and in some cases can also be a flat fee for each transaction. The rates are set by the merchant.

Who manages your affiliate program?

 Some merchants run their affiliate programs internally, while others choose to contract out management to a network or an external agency.

18. What is a cookie?

 Cookies are small pieces of data that work with web browsers to store information such as user preferences, login or registration data, and shopping cart contents. When someone clicks on your affiliate link, a cookie is placed on the user's computer or mobile device. That cookie is used to remember the link or ad that the visitor clicked on. Even if the user leaves your site and comes back a week later to make a purchase, you will still get credit for the sale and receive a commission it depends on the site cookies duration

19. How long do cookies last?

 The merchant determines the duration of a cookie, also known as its “cookie life.” The most common length for an affiliate program is 30 days. If someone clicks on your affiliate link, you’ll be paid a commission if they purchase within 30 days of the click.

Final Saying

Most new affiliates are eager to begin their affiliate marketing business. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information out there that can lead inexperienced affiliates astray. Hopefully, the answer to your question will provide clarity on how affiliate marketing works and the pitfalls you can avoid. Most importantly, keep in mind that success in affiliate marketing takes some time. Don't be discouraged if you're not immediately making sales or earning money. It takes most new affiliates months to make a full-time income.



Match ID: 150 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 69 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

From wooden packaging to solar panels: how Charlie Bigham created a recipe for sustainability
Wed, 01 Jun 2022 10:05:52 GMT

Whether it’s supporting local communities or committing to greener practices, the king of home meals is on a mission to give back. Rosie Mullender finds out what drives him

For many of us, doing our bit for the planet involves buying reusable water bottles, avoiding plastic straws and recycling diligently. But for Charlie Bigham, founder of the ready-to-cook food empire that bears his name, the challenge is on an altogether different scale. He has been on a 25-year, hurdle-strewn journey that’s ultimately prevented millions of pieces of plastic from being sent to landfill.

“We started using wooden packaging 15 years ago,” says Bigham, as he shows me around the kitchen at his north-west London HQ. “We felt it was incongruous to be making this lovely food and selling it in plastic containers, and thought it would send a signal to shoppers that we’re a bit different.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 151 Score: 2.86 source: www.theguardian.com age: 69 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 152 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 113 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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

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Match ID: 153 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 113 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Starfall: Finding a Meteorite with Drones and AI
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 21:41:38 +0000


Go outside on a clear night, and if you’re very lucky you will see the sky falling. NASA estimates that 50,000 meteorites from space have been found on Earth.

The shooting stars or fireballs they form as they enter the atmosphere can be beautiful, but they’re hard to track. Of those 50,000, astronomers have been able to plot the past orbits of only about 40.

Which is why Seamus Anderson and his colleagues at Curtin University in Australia may have made an important first. They report they’ve recovered a meteorite in the remote Australian outback—one that once followed an ellipse between the orbits of Venus and Jupiter—and they picked it out of nowhere with two drones and machine learning.

“It was a semi-surprise,” says Anderson, an American who came to Curtin in 2018 to do his Ph.D. work on technology for meteorite searches. “We weren’t expecting to have that much success the first time.”

Curtin’s Space Science and Technology Center, in the city of Perth, runs the Desert Fireball Network, a system of 50 automated cameras that monitor Australia’s night skies for incoming meteors. One night last year, two of the cameras tracked a streak in the sky, and the system calculated that a small rock had probably crashed in the desert scrub of Western Australia, in a region known as the Nullarbor. The observations weren’t ideal—they estimated that the meteorite weighed between 150 and 700 grams and had come down in an area of 5 square kilometers—but Anderson and two colleagues decided to make a field trip. In December, they set out from Perth on a drive of more than 1,000 km looking for a needle in a haystack: one blackened piece of rock on the desert floor, 50 km from the nearest paved road.

In the past, the trip would have been all but pointless. Meteorite hunters usually search the ground on foot, walking back and forth in a grid pattern and hoping they hit pay dirt. Eighty percent of the time, they fail.

“It’s been shown that people are just terrible at these kinds of repetitive tasks,” says Anderson. “A major problem is humans just not paying attention.”

Through repetition, the machine and the researchers learned to deal with false positives: bottles, cans, desert plant roots, and occasional kangaroo bones.

That’s where technology came in. They used off-the-shelf hardware—a quadcopter drone with a 44-megapixel camera and a desktop computer with a good video card. The unusual part was the convolutional neural network they ran on it—machine-learning software not often carried by campers in the outback.

“The holy grail of meteorite hunting right now is a drone that can grid a geographic area, look at the ground, and find meteorites with AI,” says Mike Hankey of the American Meteor Society.

Overhead shot shows 3 people in the desert pointing at the ground. Seamus Anderson [right] poses with his two colleagues, both pointing at the meteorite they just found. The photo was taken with the drone they had used to locate the specimen.Seamus Anderson/Curtin University

A machine-learning system needs training—data about the world from which it can extrapolate—so the researchers fed it drone images of the Nullarbor terrain. Some of them included meteorite samples borrowed from a local museum and planted on the ground. Those images were given a score of 1—a definite meteorite, even if each appeared only as a black dot. Other images showing random terrain nearby were scored as 0—no meteorite here. Through repetition, the machine and the researchers learned to deal with false positives: bottles, cans, desert plant roots, and occasional kangaroo bones.

“It’s like training your kid to figure out what a dog looks like,” says Anderson now. “You could show lots of images of nothing but black Labs—and then, when it sees a picture of a German Shepard, it’s maybe going to freak out and not know exactly what it’s supposed to do. So you have to give it many opportunities to know what a meteorite can look like in that background.”

Top satellite image  has insets of a meteor falling and blue lines indicating search zones. Bottom shows an orbital map and a closer satellite of the desert with dots showing searched areas. Top: The incoming meteor and where it landed in Western Australia. Bottom left: The likely orbit of the meteoroid before it hit the Earth. Bottom: The section of desert scientists searched. Seamus Anderson/Curtin University

They began surveying: 43 drone flights over three days, going back and forth at an altitude of about 20 meters, recording 57,255 images. Back at camp, they began to process their images. From the first four flights alone, the algorithm gave 59,384 objects a score of at least 0.7 on that scale of 0 to 1—a lot of possible specimens. The researchers were quickly able to narrow them down to 259 and then 38, which they reinspected with a second, smaller drone. Soon they were down to four, and set out on foot, guided by GPS, to find them.

Before we reach the conclusion, it’s worth pausing to ask why meteorites are worth chasing. Space scientists will say that some date from the beginnings of the solar system. Some contain amino acids, those most basic building blocks of life. A few are large enough to do harm. Others, Anderson points out, contain rare elements, perhaps valuable for future technologies but hard to mine on Earth.

So there was a lot to think about in the desert heat—life, the universe, the reliability of their algorithm—as Anderson and his two comrades paced the ground looking for a blackened rock.

“Then one of my friends on the trip, John Fairweather, said one of the most annoying things you can hear at that moment—like, ‘Hey, is this the meteorite?’” Anderson says. He thought it was a joke. “And I thought, ‘That’s not funny right now, John.’ And I looked over and, literally, he’s got the rock.”

Closeup of the meteorite on the desert floor in Australia, with a pen to show its size. The meteorite, named DFN 09, is shown here with a pen for scale.Seamus Anderson/Curtin University

Anderson looked around to be sure the surroundings matched what the overhead drone image had shown. They did. The rock was a chondrite, a common type of iron-rich meteorite. It was 5 centimeters long, about the size of an egg, and weighed 70 grams. Most important to Anderson, the algorithm had given this particular patch of ground a score of 1.0—a perfect match.

“And I stood there, and I basically just screamed for a minute or two. Yes, it was awesome.”


Match ID: 154 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 138 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

How Flyback Rocket Boosters Got Off the Ground
Mon, 21 Mar 2022 20:27:59 +0000


In the popular conception of a technological breakthrough, a flash of genius is followed quickly by commercial or industrial success, public acclaim, and substantial wealth for a small group of inventors and backers. In the real world, it almost never works out that way.

Advances that seem to appear suddenly are often backed by decades of development. Consider steam engines. Starting in the second quarter of the 19th century they began powering trains, and they soon revolutionized the transportation of people and goods. But steam engines themselves had been invented at the beginning of the 18th century. For 125 years they had been used to pump water out of mines and then to power the mills of the Industrial Revolution.


Lately we’ve become accustomed to seeing rocket boosters return to Earth and then land vertically, on their tails, ready to be serviced and flown again. (Much the same majestic imagery thrilled sci-fi moviegoers in the 1950s.) Today, both SpaceX and Blue Origin are using these techniques, and a third startup, Relativity Space, is on the verge of joining them. Such reusable rocketry is already cutting the cost of access to space and, with other advances yet to come, will help make it possible for humanity to return to the moon and eventually to travel to Mars.

Vertical landings, too, have a long history, with the same ground being plowed many times by multiple research organizations. From 1993 to 1996 a booster named DCX, for Delta Clipper Experimental, took off and landed vertically eight times at White Sands Missile Range. It flew to a height of only 2,500 meters, but it successfully negotiated the very tricky dynamics of landing a vertical cylinder on its end.

The key innovations that made all this possible happened 50 or more years ago. And those in turn built upon the invention a century ago of liquid-fueled rockets that can be throttled up or down by pumping more or less fuel into a combustion chamber.

In August 1954 the Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig, also known as the “flying bedstead,” took off and landed vertically while carrying a pilot. The ungainly contraption had two downward-pointing Rolls-Royce jet engines with nozzles that allowed the pilot to vector the thrust and control the flight. By 1957 another company, Hawker Siddeley, started work on turning this idea into a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fighter jet. It first flew in 1967 and entered service in 1969 as the Harrier Jump Jet, with new Rolls-Royce engines specifically designed for thrust vectoring. Thrust vectoring is a critical component of control for all of today’s reusable rocket boosters.

During the 1960s another rig, also nicknamed the flying bedstead, was developed in the United States for training astronauts to land on the moon. There was a gimbaled rocket engine that always pointed directly downward, providing thrust equal to five-sixths of the vehicle and the pilot’s weight, simulating lunar gravity. The pilot then controlled the thrust and direction of another rocket engine to land the vehicle safely.

It was not all smooth flying. Neil Armstrong first flew the trainer in March 1967, but he was nearly killed in May 1968 when things went awry and he had to use the ejection seat to rocket to safety. The parachute deployed and he hit the ground just 4 seconds later. Rocket-powered vertical descent was harder than it looked.

Vertical rocket landings have a long history, with the same ground being plowed many times by multiple research organizations.

Nevertheless, between 1969 and 1972, Armstrong and then five other astronauts piloted lunar modules to vertical landings on the moon. There were no ejection seats, and these have been the only crewed rocket-powered landings on a spaceflight. All other humans lofted into space have used Earth’s atmosphere to slow down, combining heat shields with either wings or parachutes.

In the early days of Blue Origin, the company returned to the flying-bedstead approach, and its vehicle took off and landed successfully in March 2005. It was powered by four jet engines, once again from Rolls-Royce, bought secondhand from the South African Air Force. Ten years later, in November 2015, Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster reached an altitude of 100 kilometers and then landed vertically. A month later SpaceX had its first successful vertical landing of a Falcon-9 booster.

Today’s reusable, or flyback, boosters also use something called grid fins, those honeycombed panels sticking out perpendicularly from the top of a booster that guide the massive cylinder as it falls through the atmosphere unpowered. The fins have an even longer history, as they have been part of every crewed Soyuz launch since the 1960s. They guide the capsule back to Earth if there’s an abort during the climb to orbit. They were last used in October 2018 when a Soyuz failed at 50 km up. The cosmonaut and astronaut who were aboard landed safely and had a successful launch in another Soyuz five months later.

The next big accomplishment will be crewed vertical landings, 50 years after mankind's last one, on the moon. It will almost certainly happen before this decade is out.

I’m less confident that we’ll see general-purpose quantum computers and abundant electricity from nuclear fusion in that time frame. But I’m pretty sure we’ll eventually get there with both. The arc of technology development is often long. And sometimes, the longer it is, the more revolutionary it is in the end.

This article appears in the April 2022 print issue as “The Long Road to Overnight Success .”


Match ID: 155 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 141 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 156 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 149 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 157 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 150 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Programmable Blocks Tease Self-Assembling Space Structures
Fri, 11 Mar 2022 16:00:25 +0000


This article is part of our exclusive IEEE Journal Watch series in partnership with IEEE Xplore.

Self-assembling and self-reconfiguring robots depicted in films like Transformers are becoming closer to reality, thanks to a team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Scientists at CSAIL have created what they call ElectroVoxels, modular robotic cubes that use embedded electromagnets to move. The accompanying paper will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May.

“I originally wanted to call them Transformers because they’re essentially robots that can change their shape,” says Martin Nisser, a Ph.D. student in the human-computer interaction group at MIT CSAIL and lead author on the paper. Due to copyright reasons, however, the team decided against it and settled on combining the term “electromagnet” with “voxel,” a volumetric pixel that’s the 3D equivalent of a pixel. “You can think of ElectroVoxels as voxels with electromagnets embedded in them,” he says.

An ElectroVoxel cube indeed has an electromagnet—a ferrite core wrapped with copper wire—embedded into each of its 12 edges. “When you send a current through an electromagnet, the polarization depends on the direction in which you send the current,” Nisser says. “It’s like a permanent magnet, except you can change the polarity depending on the direction of the current.”

ElectroVoxel blocks move by either pivoting to a block it shares an edge with or traversing the face of one block to another. When a pair of electromagnets in a cube are polarized oppositely, they attract each other, creating a hinge. You can then use another pair of electromagnets polarized in the same direction to repel each other and perform a pivoting maneuver. Once that pivoting is complete, you can use two separate pairs of electromagnets to attract each other and hold the faces of the two cubes together.

ElectroVoxels are modular robotic cubes that use embedded electromagnets to move.MIT CSAIL/Martin Nisser

The blocks are also programmable. “When you have more than two or three ElectroVoxels, it becomes hard to address each electromagnet individually and predict what will happen,” says Nisser. “So we created a user interface that lets you specify which ElectroVoxel should pivot in what direction. Then all the underlying electromagnet assignments are computed for you, and we can put that directly onto the microcontroller.”

Unlike other self-assembling robots whose hardware consists of bulky motors or expensive actuators, ElectroVoxels promise scalability. They’re light, with each cube weighing 103 grams; cheaper, with each electromagnet costing around US $0.60; and easy to build, with each cube taking about 80 minutes to construct.

But ElectroVoxels are not without their limitations, and the team took advantage of a particular one as a perfect vehicle for space applications. “One of the drawbacks of ElectroVoxels is that their force is relatively weak compared to other actuators. Yet we also realized that they can be used effectively in space,” Nisser says. “In a microgravity environment, even very low forces can contribute to significant velocities, so a very small force like the ones we have in ElectroVoxels could contribute to moving large objects. We saw this opportunity to explore reconfigurable robots for space applications, where you want to try to change the inertial properties of spacecraft, or to help build temporary structures that can aid in various activities such as structure inspection by astronauts.”

To verify their theory and establish reconfiguration in space, the team conducted experiments in a microgravity environment. First, they used an air table, a flat table with holes in it and chutes around it to create pillows of air that simulate microgravity conditions. The ElectroVoxels successfully performed pivots and traversals on the air table. Then, the team flew the cubes aboard a parabolic flight to observe pivoting. They encountered some difficulties, but the ElectroVoxels were able to pivot in flight.

“On a typical flight, an aircraft flies these parabolas about 20 times, and each of the parabolas lasts for around 15 seconds. But the quality of the microgravity inside those parabolas tends to vary a bit,” says Nisser. “What ended up happening is that we only had about 4 seconds of microgravity, so the main challenge was fine-tuning everything to make sure we were as prepared as possible for it to work, because with just 4 seconds, there was no time or capability to update things.”

While the team has demonstrated the ability of ElectroVoxels for use in space, they hope to do the same in the future for Earth. “We’re looking at trying to optimize ElectroVoxels for torque-to-inertia ratios to be able to pivot against gravity,” Nisser says.

Another fit-for-Earth application for these reconfigurable robots is recyclable rapid prototyping. “3D printers are typically used to create one-off, low-fidelity prototypes, which aren’t necessarily functional,” says Nisser. “If you can create prototypes with a modular system, then you can create one structure and have it automatically pivot into a second structure, making rapid prototyping more sustainable. You wouldn’t have to discard the plastic after each print—you could just use the same modules to create new structures.”


Match ID: 158 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 151 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Ahrefs vs SEMrush: Which SEO Tool Should You Use?
Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:16:00 +0000
semrush vs ahrefs


SEMrush and Ahrefs are among the most popular tools in the SEO industry. Both companies have been in business for years and have thousands of customers per month.

If you're a professional SEO or trying to do digital marketing on your own, at some point you'll likely consider using a tool to help with your efforts. Ahrefs and SEMrush are two names that will likely appear on your shortlist.

In this guide, I'm going to help you learn more about these SEO tools and how to choose the one that's best for your purposes.

What is SEMrush?

semrush

SEMrush is a popular SEO tool with a wide range of features—it's the leading competitor research service for online marketers. SEMrush's SEO Keyword Magic tool offers over 20 billion Google-approved keywords, which are constantly updated and it's the largest keyword database.

The program was developed in 2007 as SeoQuake is a small Firefox extension

Features

  • Most accurate keyword data: Accurate keyword search volume data is crucial for SEO and PPC campaigns by allowing you to identify what keywords are most likely to bring in big sales from ad clicks. SEMrush constantly updates its databases and provides the most accurate data.
  • Largest Keyword database: SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool now features 20-billion keywords, providing marketers and SEO professionals the largest database of keywords.

  • All SEMrush users receive daily ranking data, mobile volume information, and the option to buy additional keywords by default with no additional payment or add-ons needed
  • Most accurate position tracking tool: This tool provides all subscribers with basic tracking capabilities, making it suitable for SEO professionals. Plus, the Position Tracking tool provides local-level data to everyone who uses the tool.
  • SEO Data Management: SEMrush makes managing your online data easy by allowing you to create visually appealing custom PDF reports, including Branded and White Label reports, report scheduling, and integration with GA, GMB, and GSC.
  • Toxic link monitoring and penalty recovery: With SEMrush, you can make a detailed analysis of toxic backlinks, toxic scores, toxic markers, and outreach to those sites.
  • Content Optimization and Creation Tools: SEMrush offers content optimization and creation tools that let you create SEO-friendly content. Some features include the SEO Writing Assistant, On-Page SEO Check, er/SEO Content Template, Content Audit, Post Tracking, Brand Monitoring.

Ahrefs

ahrefs


Ahrefs is a leading SEO platform that offers a set of tools to grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and monitor your niche. The company was founded in 2010, and it has become a popular choice among SEO tools. Ahrefs has a keyword index of over 10.3 billion keywords and offers accurate and extensive backlink data updated every 15-30 minutes and it is the world's most extensive backlink index database.

Features

  • Backlink alerts data and new keywords: Get an alert when your site is linked to or discussed in blogs, forums, comments, or when new keywords are added to a blog posting about you.
  • Intuitive interface: The intuitive design of the widget helps you see the overall health of your website and search engine ranking at a glance.
  • Site Explorer: The Site Explorer will give you an in-depth look at your site's search traffic.
  • Domain Comparison
  • Reports with charts and graphs
  • JavaScript rendering and a site audit can identify SEO issues.
  • A question explorer that provides well-crafted topic suggestions

Direct Comparisons: Ahrefs vs SEMrush

Now that you know a little more about each tool, let's take a look at how they compare. I'll analyze each tool to see how they differ in interfaces, keyword research resources, rank tracking, and competitor analysis.

User Interface

Ahrefs and SEMrush both offer comprehensive information and quick metrics regarding your website's SEO performance. However, Ahrefs takes a bit more of a hands-on approach to getting your account fully set up, whereas SEMrush's simpler dashboard can give you access to the data you need quickly.

In this section, we provide a brief overview of the elements found on each dashboard and highlight the ease with which you can complete tasks.

AHREFS

ahrefs interface


The Ahrefs dashboard is less cluttered than that of SEMrush, and its primary menu is at the very top of the page, with a search bar designed only for entering URLs.

Additional features of the Ahrefs platform include:

  • You can see analytics from the dashboard, including search engine rankings to domain ratings, referring domains, and backlink
  • Jumping from one tool to another is easy. You can use the Keyword Explorer to find a keyword to target and then directly track your ranking with one click.
  • The website offers a tooltip helper tool that allows you to hover your mouse over something that isn't clear and get an in-depth explanation.

SEMRUSH

semrush domain overview


When you log into the SEMrush Tool, you will find four main modules. These include information about your domains, organic keyword analysis, ad keyword, and site traffic.

You'll also find some other options like

  • A search bar allows you to enter a domain, keyword, or anything else you wish to explore.
  • A menu on the left side of the page provides quick links to relevant information, including marketing insights, projects, keyword analytics, and more.
  • The customer support resources located directly within the dashboard can be used to communicate with the support team or to learn about other resources such as webinars and blogs.
  • Detailed descriptions of every resource offered. This detail is beneficial for new marketers, who are just starting.

WHO WINS?

Both Ahrefs and SEMrush have user-friendly dashboards, but Ahrefs is less cluttered and easier to navigate. On the other hand, SEMrush offers dozens of extra tools, including access to customer support resources.

When deciding on which dashboard to use, consider what you value in the user interface, and test out both.

Rank Tracking

If you're looking to track your website's search engine ranking, rank tracking features can help. You can also use them to monitor your competitors.

Let's take a look at Ahrefs vs. SEMrush to see which tool does a better job.

Ahrefs

ahrefs rank tracking


The Ahrefs Rank Tracker is simpler to use. Just type in the domain name and keywords you want to analyze, and it spits out a report showing you the search engine results page (SERP) ranking for each keyword you enter.

Rank Tracker looks at the ranking performance of keywords and compares them with the top rankings for those keywords. Ahrefs also offers:

You'll see metrics that help you understand your visibility, traffic, average position, and keyword difficulty.

It gives you an idea of whether a keyword would be profitable to target or not.

SEMRUSH

semrush position tracking


SEMRush offers a tool called Position Tracking. This tool is a project tool—you must set it up as a new project. Below are a few of the most popular features of the SEMrush Position Tracking tool:

All subscribers are given regular data updates and mobile search rankings upon subscribing

The platform provides opportunities to track several SERP features, including Local tracking.

Intuitive reports allow you to track statistics for the pages on your website, as well as the keywords used in those pages.

Identify pages that may be competing with each other using the Cannibalization report.

WHO WINS?

Ahrefs is a more user-friendly option. It takes seconds to enter a domain name and keywords. From there, you can quickly decide whether to proceed with that keyword or figure out how to rank better for other keywords.

SEMrush allows you to check your mobile rankings and ranking updates daily, which is something Ahrefs does not offer. SEMrush also offers social media rankings, a tool you won't find within the Ahrefs platform. Both are good which one do you like let me know in the comment.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is closely related to rank tracking, but it's used for deciding which keywords you plan on using for future content rather than those you use now.

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is the most important thing to consider when comparing the two platforms.

AHREFS



The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer provides you with thousands of keyword ideas and filters search results based on the chosen search engine.

Ahrefs supports several features, including:

  • It can search multiple keywords in a single search and analyze them together. At SEMrush, you also have this feature in Keyword Overview.
  • Ahrefs has a variety of keywords for different search engines, including Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and other search engines.
  • When you click on a keyword, you can see its search volume and keyword difficulty, but also other keywords related to it, which you didn't use.

SEMRUSH



SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool has over 20 billion keywords for Google. You can type in any keyword you want, and a list of suggested keywords will appear.

The Keyword Magic Tool also lets you to:

  • Show performance metrics by keyword
  • Search results are based on both broad and exact keyword matches.
  • Show data like search volume, trends, keyword difficulty, and CPC.
  • Show the first 100 Google search results for any keyword.
  • Identify SERP Features and Questions related to each keyword
  • SEMrush has released a new Keyword Gap Tool that uncovers potentially useful keyword opportunities for you, including both paid and organic keywords.

WHO WINS?

Both of these tools offer keyword research features and allow users to break down complicated tasks into something that can be understood by beginners and advanced users alike.

If you're interested in keyword suggestions, SEMrush appears to have more keyword suggestions than Ahrefs does. It also continues to add new features, like the Keyword Gap tool and SERP Questions recommendations.

Competitor Analysis

Both platforms offer competitor analysis tools, eliminating the need to come up with keywords off the top of your head. Each tool is useful for finding keywords that will be useful for your competition so you know they will be valuable to you.

AHREFS



Ahrefs' domain comparison tool lets you compare up to five websites (your website and four competitors) side-by-side.it also shows you how your site is ranked against others with metrics such as backlinks, domain ratings, and more.

Use the Competing Domains section to see a list of your most direct competitors, and explore how many keywords matches your competitors have.

To find more information about your competitor, you can look at the Site Explorer and Content Explorer tools and type in their URL instead of yours.

SEMRUSH



SEMrush provides a variety of insights into your competitors' marketing tactics. The platform enables you to research your competitors effectively. It also offers several resources for competitor analysis including:

Traffic Analytics helps you identify where your audience comes from, how they engage with your site, what devices visitors use to view your site, and how your audiences overlap with other websites.

SEMrush's Organic Research examines your website's major competitors and shows their organic search rankings, keywords they are ranking for, and even if they are ranking for any (SERP) features and more.

The Market Explorer search field allows you to type in a domain and lists websites or articles similar to what you entered. Market Explorer also allows users to perform in-depth data analytics on These companies and markets.

WHO WINS?

SEMrush wins here because it has more tools dedicated to competitor analysis than Ahrefs. However, Ahrefs offers a lot of functionality in this area, too. It takes a combination of both tools to gain an advantage over your competition.

Pricing

Ahrefs

  • Lite Monthly: $99/month
  • Standard Monthly: $179/month
  • Annually Lite: $990/year
  • Annually Standard: $1790/year

SEMRUSH

  • Pro Plan: $119.95/month
  • Guru Plan:$229.95/month
  • Business Plan: $449.95/month

Which SEO tool should you choose for digital marketing?

When it comes to keyword data research, you will become confused about which one to choose.

Consider choosing Ahrefs if you

  • Like friendly and clean interface
  • Searching for simple keyword suggestions

  • Want to get more keywords for different search engines like Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, and more

 

Consider SEMrush if you:

  • Want more marketing and SEO features
  • Need competitor analysis tool
  • Need to keep your backlinks profile clean
  • Looking for more keyword suggestions for Google

Both tools are great. Choose the one which meets your requirements and if you have any experience using either Ahrefs or SEMrush let me know in the comment section which works well for you.

 

 


Match ID: 159 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 161 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 160 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 164 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

EVTOL Companies Are Worth Billions—Who Are the Key Players?
Tue, 22 Feb 2022 21:16:10 +0000


“Hardware is hard,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously declared at a tech investors’ event in 2013. Explaining the longstanding preference for software startups among VCs, Andreessen said, “There are so many more things that can go wrong in a hardware company. There are so many more ways a hardware company can blow up in a nonrecoverable way.”

Even as Andreessen was speaking, however, the seeds were being sown for one of the biggest and most sustained infusions of cash into a hardware-based movement in the last decade. Since then, the design and construction of electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft has been propelled by waves of funding from some of the biggest names in tech. And, surprisingly for such a large movement, the funding is mostly coming from sources outside of the traditional venture-capital community—rich investors and multinational corporations. The list includes Google cofounder Larry Page, autonomy pioneer Sebastian Thrun, entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, investor Adam Grosser, entrepreneur Marc Lore, and companies including Uber, Mercedes-Benz, Airbus, Boeing, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, JetBlue, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and many more.

Today, some 250 companies are working toward what they hope will be a revolution in urban transportation. Some, such as Wisk and Kittyhawk and Joby, are flying a small fleet of prototype aircraft; others have nothing more than a design concept. If the vision becomes reality, hundreds of eVTOLs will swarm over the skies of a big city during a typical rush hour, whisking small numbers of passengers at per-kilometer costs no greater than those of driving a car. This vision, which goes by the name urban air mobility or advanced air mobility, will require backers to overcome entire categories of obstacles, including certification, technology development, and the operational considerations of safely flying large numbers of aircraft in a small airspace.

Even tech development, considered the most straightforward of the challenges, has a way to go. Joby, one of the most advanced of the startups, provided a stark reminder of this fact when it was disclosed on 16 February that one of its unpiloted prototypes crashed during a test flight in a remote part of California. Few details were available, but reporting by FutureFlight suggested the aircraft was flying test routes at altitudes up to 1,200 feet and at speeds as high as 240 knots.

No one expects the urban air mobility market, if it does get off the ground, to ever be large enough to accommodate 250 manufacturers of eVTOLs, so a cottage industry has sprung up around handicapping the field. SMG Consulting (founded by Sergio Cecutta, a former executive at Honeywell and Danaher) has been ranking eVTOL startups in its Advanced Air Mobility Reality Index since December 2020. Its latest index—from which our chart below has been adapted, with SMG’s kind permission—suggests that the top 10 startups have pulled in more than US $6 billion in funding; the next couple of hundred startups have combined funding in the several hundred million at most.

Cecutta is quick to point out that funding, though important, is not everything when it comes to ranking the eVTOL companies. How they will navigate the largely uncharted territory of certifying and manufacturing the novel fliers will also be critical. “These companies are all forecasting production in the hundreds, if not thousands” of units per year, he says.

“The aerospace industry is not used to producing in those kinds of numbers….The challenge is to be able to build at that rate, to have a supply chain that can supply you with the components you need to build at that rate. Aerospace is a team sport. There is no company that does 100 percent in-house.” Hardware really is hard.

This article appears in the March 2022 print issue as “What’s Behind the Air-Taxi Craze”; on 24 Feb. 2022, the chart was updated with data kindly provided by Beta Technologies.


Match ID: 161 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 168 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 162 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 170 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 163 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 179 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

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: 164 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 180 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Andrew Ng: Unbiggen AI
Wed, 09 Feb 2022 15:31:12 +0000


Andrew Ng has serious street cred in artificial intelligence. He pioneered the use of graphics processing units (GPUs) to train deep learning models in the late 2000s with his students at Stanford University, cofounded Google Brain in 2011, and then served for three years as chief scientist for Baidu, where he helped build the Chinese tech giant’s AI group. So when he says he has identified the next big shift in artificial intelligence, people listen. And that’s what he told IEEE Spectrum in an exclusive Q&A.


Ng’s current efforts are focused on his company Landing AI, which built a platform called LandingLens to help manufacturers improve visual inspection with computer vision. He has also become something of an evangelist for what he calls the data-centric AI movement, which he says can yield “small data” solutions to big issues in AI, including model efficiency, accuracy, and bias.

Andrew Ng on...

The great advances in deep learning over the past decade or so have been powered by ever-bigger models crunching ever-bigger amounts of data. Some people argue that that’s an unsustainable trajectory. Do you agree that it can’t go on that way?

Andrew Ng: This is a big question. We’ve seen foundation models in NLP [natural language processing]. I’m excited about NLP models getting even bigger, and also about the potential of building foundation models in computer vision. I think there’s lots of signal to still be exploited in video: We have not been able to build foundation models yet for video because of compute bandwidth and the cost of processing video, as opposed to tokenized text. So I think that this engine of scaling up deep learning algorithms, which has been running for something like 15 years now, still has steam in it. Having said that, it only applies to certain problems, and there’s a set of other problems that need small data solutions.

When you say you want a foundation model for computer vision, what do you mean by that?

Ng: This is a term coined by Percy Liang and some of my friends at Stanford to refer to very large models, trained on very large data sets, that can be tuned for specific applications. For example, GPT-3 is an example of a foundation model [for NLP]. Foundation models offer a lot of promise as a new paradigm in developing machine learning applications, but also challenges in terms of making sure that they’re reasonably fair and free from bias, especially if many of us will be building on top of them.

What needs to happen for someone to build a foundation model for video?

Ng: I think there is a scalability problem. The compute power needed to process the large volume of images for video is significant, and I think that’s why foundation models have arisen first in NLP. Many researchers are working on this, and I think we’re seeing early signs of such models being developed in computer vision. But I’m confident that if a semiconductor maker gave us 10 times more processor power, we could easily find 10 times more video to build such models for vision.

Having said that, a lot of what’s happened over the past decade is that deep learning has happened in consumer-facing companies that have large user bases, sometimes billions of users, and therefore very large data sets. While that paradigm of machine learning has driven a lot of economic value in consumer software, I find that that recipe of scale doesn’t work for other industries.

Back to top

It’s funny to hear you say that, because your early work was at a consumer-facing company with millions of users.

Ng: Over a decade ago, when I proposed starting the Google Brain project to use Google’s compute infrastructure to build very large neural networks, it was a controversial step. One very senior person pulled me aside and warned me that starting Google Brain would be bad for my career. I think he felt that the action couldn’t just be in scaling up, and that I should instead focus on architecture innovation.

“In many industries where giant data sets simply don’t exist, I think the focus has to shift from big data to good data. Having 50 thoughtfully engineered examples can be sufficient to explain to the neural network what you want it to learn.”
—Andrew Ng, CEO & Founder, Landing AI

I remember when my students and I published the first NeurIPS workshop paper advocating using CUDA, a platform for processing on GPUs, for deep learning—a different senior person in AI sat me down and said, “CUDA is really complicated to program. As a programming paradigm, this seems like too much work.” I did manage to convince him; the other person I did not convince.

I expect they’re both convinced now.

Ng: I think so, yes.

Over the past year as I’ve been speaking to people about the data-centric AI movement, I’ve been getting flashbacks to when I was speaking to people about deep learning and scalability 10 or 15 years ago. In the past year, I’ve been getting the same mix of “there’s nothing new here” and “this seems like the wrong direction.”

Back to top

How do you define data-centric AI, and why do you consider it a movement?

Ng: Data-centric AI is the discipline of systematically engineering the data needed to successfully build an AI system. For an AI system, you have to implement some algorithm, say a neural network, in code and then train it on your data set. The dominant paradigm over the last decade was to download the data set while you focus on improving the code. Thanks to that paradigm, over the last decade deep learning networks have improved significantly, to the point where for a lot of applications the code—the neural network architecture—is basically a solved problem. So for many practical applications, it’s now more productive to hold the neural network architecture fixed, and instead find ways to improve the data.

When I started speaking about this, there were many practitioners who, completely appropriately, raised their hands and said, “Yes, we’ve been doing this for 20 years.” This is the time to take the things that some individuals have been doing intuitively and make it a systematic engineering discipline.

The data-centric AI movement is much bigger than one company or group of researchers. My collaborators and I organized a data-centric AI workshop at NeurIPS, and I was really delighted at the number of authors and presenters that showed up.

You often talk about companies or institutions that have only a small amount of data to work with. How can data-centric AI help them?

Ng: You hear a lot about vision systems built with millions of images—I once built a face recognition system using 350 million images. Architectures built for hundreds of millions of images don’t work with only 50 images. But it turns out, if you have 50 really good examples, you can build something valuable, like a defect-inspection system. In many industries where giant data sets simply don’t exist, I think the focus has to shift from big data to good data. Having 50 thoughtfully engineered examples can be sufficient to explain to the neural network what you want it to learn.

When you talk about training a model with just 50 images, does that really mean you’re taking an existing model that was trained on a very large data set and fine-tuning it? Or do you mean a brand new model that’s designed to learn only from that small data set?

Ng: Let me describe what Landing AI does. When doing visual inspection for manufacturers, we often use our own flavor of RetinaNet. It is a pretrained model. Having said that, the pretraining is a small piece of the puzzle. What’s a bigger piece of the puzzle is providing tools that enable the manufacturer to pick the right set of images [to use for fine-tuning] and label them in a consistent way. There’s a very practical problem we’ve seen spanning vision, NLP, and speech, where even human annotators don’t agree on the appropriate label. For big data applications, the common response has been: If the data is noisy, let’s just get a lot of data and the algorithm will average over it. But if you can develop tools that flag where the data’s inconsistent and give you a very targeted way to improve the consistency of the data, that turns out to be a more efficient way to get a high-performing system.

“Collecting more data often helps, but if you try to collect more data for everything, that can be a very expensive activity.”
—Andrew Ng

For example, if you have 10,000 images where 30 images are of one class, and those 30 images are labeled inconsistently, one of the things we do is build tools to draw your attention to the subset of data that’s inconsistent. So you can very quickly relabel those images to be more consistent, and this leads to improvement in performance.

Could this focus on high-quality data help with bias in data sets? If you’re able to curate the data more before training?

Ng: Very much so. Many researchers have pointed out that biased data is one factor among many leading to biased systems. There have been many thoughtful efforts to engineer the data. At the NeurIPS workshop, Olga Russakovsky gave a really nice talk on this. At the main NeurIPS conference, I also really enjoyed Mary Gray’s presentation, which touched on how data-centric AI is one piece of the solution, but not the entire solution. New tools like Datasheets for Datasets also seem like an important piece of the puzzle.

One of the powerful tools that data-centric AI gives us is the ability to engineer a subset of the data. Imagine training a machine-learning system and finding that its performance is okay for most of the data set, but its performance is biased for just a subset of the data. If you try to change the whole neural network architecture to improve the performance on just that subset, it’s quite difficult. But if you can engineer a subset of the data you can address the problem in a much more targeted way.

When you talk about engineering the data, what do you mean exactly?

Ng: In AI, data cleaning is important, but the way the data has been cleaned has often been in very manual ways. In computer vision, someone may visualize images through a Jupyter notebook and maybe spot the problem, and maybe fix it. But I’m excited about tools that allow you to have a very large data set, tools that draw your attention quickly and efficiently to the subset of data where, say, the labels are noisy. Or to quickly bring your attention to the one class among 100 classes where it would benefit you to collect more data. Collecting more data often helps, but if you try to collect more data for everything, that can be a very expensive activity.

For example, I once figured out that a speech-recognition system was performing poorly when there was car noise in the background. Knowing that allowed me to collect more data with car noise in the background, rather than trying to collect more data for everything, which would have been expensive and slow.

Back to top

What about using synthetic data, is that often a good solution?

Ng: I think synthetic data is an important tool in the tool chest of data-centric AI. At the NeurIPS workshop, Anima Anandkumar gave a great talk that touched on synthetic data. I think there are important uses of synthetic data that go beyond just being a preprocessing step for increasing the data set for a learning algorithm. I’d love to see more tools to let developers use synthetic data generation as part of the closed loop of iterative machine learning development.

Do you mean that synthetic data would allow you to try the model on more data sets?

Ng: Not really. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re trying to detect defects in a smartphone casing. There are many different types of defects on smartphones. It could be a scratch, a dent, pit marks, discoloration of the material, other types of blemishes. If you train the model and then find through error analysis that it’s doing well overall but it’s performing poorly on pit marks, then synthetic data generation allows you to address the problem in a more targeted way. You could generate more data just for the pit-mark category.

“In the consumer software Internet, we could train a handful of machine-learning models to serve a billion users. In manufacturing, you might have 10,000 manufacturers building 10,000 custom AI models.”
—Andrew Ng

Synthetic data generation is a very powerful tool, but there are many simpler tools that I will often try first. Such as data augmentation, improving labeling consistency, or just asking a factory to collect more data.

Back to top

To make these issues more concrete, can you walk me through an example? When a company approaches Landing AI and says it has a problem with visual inspection, how do you onboard them and work toward deployment?

Ng: When a customer approaches us we usually have a conversation about their inspection problem and look at a few images to verify that the problem is feasible with computer vision. Assuming it is, we ask them to upload the data to the LandingLens platform. We often advise them on the methodology of data-centric AI and help them label the data.

One of the foci of Landing AI is to empower manufacturing companies to do the machine learning work themselves. A lot of our work is making sure the software is fast and easy to use. Through the iterative process of machine learning development, we advise customers on things like how to train models on the platform, when and how to improve the labeling of data so the performance of the model improves. Our training and software supports them all the way through deploying the trained model to an edge device in the factory.

How do you deal with changing needs? If products change or lighting conditions change in the factory, can the model keep up?

Ng: It varies by manufacturer. There is data drift in many contexts. But there are some manufacturers that have been running the same manufacturing line for 20 years now with few changes, so they don’t expect changes in the next five years. Those stable environments make things easier. For other manufacturers, we provide tools to flag when there’s a significant data-drift issue. I find it really important to empower manufacturing customers to correct data, retrain, and update the model. Because if something changes and it’s 3 a.m. in the United States, I want them to be able to adapt their learning algorithm right away to maintain operations.

In the consumer software Internet, we could train a handful of machine-learning models to serve a billion users. In manufacturing, you might have 10,000 manufacturers building 10,000 custom AI models. The challenge is, how do you do that without Landing AI having to hire 10,000 machine learning specialists?

So you’re saying that to make it scale, you have to empower customers to do a lot of the training and other work.

Ng: Yes, exactly! This is an industry-wide problem in AI, not just in manufacturing. Look at health care. Every hospital has its own slightly different format for electronic health records. How can every hospital train its own custom AI model? Expecting every hospital’s IT personnel to invent new neural-network architectures is unrealistic. The only way out of this dilemma is to build tools that empower the customers to build their own models by giving them tools to engineer the data and express their domain knowledge. That’s what Landing AI is executing in computer vision, and the field of AI needs other teams to execute this in other domains.

Is there anything else you think it’s important for people to understand about the work you’re doing or the data-centric AI movement?

Ng: In the last decade, the biggest shift in AI was a shift to deep learning. I think it’s quite possible that in this decade the biggest shift will be to data-centric AI. With the maturity of today’s neural network architectures, I think for a lot of the practical applications the bottleneck will be whether we can efficiently get the data we need to develop systems that work well. The data-centric AI movement has tremendous energy and momentum across the whole community. I hope more researchers and developers will jump in and work on it.

Back to top

This article appears in the April 2022 print issue as “Andrew Ng, AI Minimalist.”


Match ID: 165 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 181 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Most Frequently Asked Questions About NFTs(Non-Fungible Tokens)
Sun, 06 Feb 2022 10:04:00 +0000

 

NFTs

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the most popular digital assets today, capturing the attention of cryptocurrency investors, whales and people from around the world. People find it amazing that some users spend thousands or millions of dollars on a single NFT-based image of a monkey or other token, but you can simply take a screenshot for free. So here we share some freuently asked question about NFTs.

1) What is an NFT?

NFT stands for non-fungible  token, which is a cryptographic token on a blockchain with unique identification codes that distinguish it from other tokens. NFTs are unique and not interchangeable, which means no two NFTs are the same. NFTs can be a unique artwork, GIF, Images, videos, Audio album. in-game items, collectibles etc.

2) What is Blockchain?

A blockchain is a distributed digital ledger that allows for the secure storage of data. By recording any kind of information—such as bank account transactions, the ownership of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), or Decentralized Finance (DeFi) smart contracts—in one place, and distributing it to many different computers, blockchains ensure that data can’t be manipulated without everyone in the system being aware.

3) What makes an NFT valuable?


The value of an NFT comes from its ability to be traded freely and securely on the blockchain, which is not possible with other current digital ownership solutionsThe NFT points to its location on the blockchain, but doesn’t necessarily contain the digital property. For example, if you replace one bitcoin with another, you will still have the same thing. If you buy a non-fungible item, such as a movie ticket, it is impossible to replace it with any other movie ticket because each ticket is unique to a specific time and place.

4) How do NFTs work?

One of the unique characteristics of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is that they can be tokenised to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought, sold and traded on the blockchain. 

As with crypto-currency, records of who owns what are stored on a ledger that is maintained by thousands of computers around the world. These records can’t be forged because the whole system operates on an open-source network. 

NFTs also contain smart contracts—small computer programs that run on the blockchain—that give the artist, for example, a cut of any future sale of the token.

5) What’s the connection between NFTs and cryptocurrency?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) aren't cryptocurrencies, but they do use blockchain technology. Many NFTs are based on Ethereum, where the blockchain serves as a ledger for all the transactions related to said NFT and the properties it represents.5) How to make an NFT?

Anyone can create an NFT. All you need is a digital wallet, some ethereum tokens and a connection to an NFT marketplace where you’ll be able to upload and sell your creations

6) How to validate the authencity of an NFT?

When you purchase a stock in NFT, that purchase is recorded on the blockchain—the bitcoin ledger of transactions—and that entry acts as your proof of ownership.

7) How is an NFT valued? What are the most expensive NFTs?

The value of an NFT varies a lot based on the digital asset up for grabs. People use NFTs to trade and sell digital art, so when creating an NFT, you should consider the popularity of your digital artwork along with historical statistics.

In the year 2021, a digital artist called Pak created an artwork called The Merge. It was sold on the Nifty Gateway NFT market for $91.8 million.

8) Can NFTs be used as an investment?

Non-fungible tokens can be used in investment opportunities. One can purchase an NFT and resell it at a profit. Certain NFT marketplaces let sellers of NFTs keep a percentage of the profits from sales of the assets they create.

9) Will NFTs be the future of art and collectibles?

Many people want to buy NFTs because it lets them support the arts and own something cool from their favorite musicians, brands, and celebrities. NFTs also give artists an opportunity to program in continual royalties if someone buys their work. Galleries see this as a way to reach new buyers interested in art.

10) How do we buy an NFTs?

There are many places to buy digital assets, like opensea and their policies vary. On top shot, for instance, you sign up for a waitlist that can be thousands of people long. When a digital asset goes on sale, you are occasionally chosen to purchase it.

11) Can i mint NFT for free?

To mint an NFT token, you must pay some amount of gas fee to process the transaction on the Etherum blockchain, but you can mint your NFT on a different blockchain called Polygon to avoid paying gas fees. This option is available on OpenSea and this simply denotes that your NFT will only be able to trade using Polygon's blockchain and not Etherum's blockchain. Mintable allows you to mint NFTs for free without paying any gas fees.

12) Do i own an NFT if i screenshot it?

The answer is no. Non-Fungible Tokens are minted on the blockchain using cryptocurrencies such as Etherum, Solana, Polygon, and so on. Once a Non-Fungible Token is minted, the transaction is recorded on the blockchain and the contract or license is awarded to whoever has that Non-Fungible Token in their wallet.

12) Why are people investing so much in NFT?


 Non-fungible tokens have gained the hearts of people around the world, and they have given digital creators the recognition they deserve. One of the remarkable things about non-fungible tokens is that you can take a screenshot of one, but you don’t own it. This is because when a non-fungible token is created, then the transaction is stored on the blockchain, and the license or contract to hold such a token is awarded to the person owning the token in their digital wallet.

You can sell your work and creations by attaching a license to it on the blockchain, where its ownership can be transferred. This lets you get exposure without losing full ownership of your work. Some of the most successful projects include Cryptopunks, Bored Ape Yatch Club NFTs, SandBox, World of Women and so on. These NFT projects have gained popularity globally and are owned by celebrities and other successful entrepreneurs. Owning one of these NFTs gives you an automatic ticket to exclusive business meetings and life-changing connections.

Final Saying

That’s a wrap. Hope you guys found this article enlightening. I just answer some question with my limited knowledge about NFTs. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below. Also I have a question for you, Is bitcoin an NFTs? let me know in The comment section below






Match ID: 166 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 184 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

10 Best Chrome Extensions That Are Perfect for Everyone
Mon, 31 Jan 2022 10:56:00 +0000

Are you a great Chrome user? That’s nice to hear. But first, consider whether or not there are any essential Chrome extensions you are currently missing from your browsing life, so here we're going to share with you10 Best Chrome Extensions That Are Perfect for Everyone

Are you a great Chrome user? That’s nice to hear. But first, consider whether or not there are any essential Chrome extensions you are currently missing from your browsing life, so here we're going to share with you 10 Best Chrome Extensions That Are Perfect for Everyone. So Let's Start.

1. LastPass

When you have too several passwords to remember, LastPass remembers them for you.

This chrome extension is an easy way to save you time and increase security. It’s a single password manager that will log you into all of your accounts. you simply ought to bear in mind one word: your LastPass password to log in to all or any your accounts.

Features

  • Save usernames and passwords and LastPasswill  log you  in  automatically.
  • Fill the forms quickly to save your addresses, credit card numbers and more.

2. MozBar

MozBar is an SEO toolbar extension that makes it easy for you to analyze your web pages' SEO while you surf. You can customize your search so that you see data for a particular region or for all regions. You get data such as website and domain authority and link profile. The status column tells you whether there are any no-followed links to the page.You can also compare link metrics. There is a pro version of MozBar, too.


3. Grammerly

Grammarly is a real-time grammar checking and spelling  tool for online writing. It checks spelling, grammar, and punctuation as you type, and has a dictionary feature that suggests related words. if you use mobile phones for writing than  Grammerly also have a mobile keyboard app.

4. VidlQ

VidIQ is a SaaS product and Chrome Extension that makes it easier to manage and optimize your YouTube channels. It keeps you informed about your channel's performance with real-time analytics and powerful insights.

Features

  • Learn more about insights and statistics beyond YouTube Analytics
  • Find great videos with the Trending tab.
  • You can check out any video’s YouTube rankings and see how your own video is doing on the charts.
  • Keep track  the  history of the keyword to determine when a keyword is rising or down  in popularity over time.
  • Quickly find out which videos are performing the best on YouTube right now.
  • Let this tool suggest keywords for you to use in your title, description and tags.

5. ColorZilla

ColorZilla is a browser extension that allows you to find out the exact color of any object in your web browser. This is especially useful when you want to match elements on your page to the color of an image.

Features 

  •  Advanced Color Picker (similar to Photoshop's)
  • Ultimate CSS Gradient Generator
  • The "Webpage Color Analyzer" site helps you determine the palette of colors used in a particular website.
  • Palette Viewer with 7 pre-installed palettes
  • Eyedropper - sample the color of any pixel on the page
  • Color History of recently picked colors
  • Displays some info about the element, including the tag name, class, id and size.
  • Auto copy picked colors to clipboard
  • Get colors of dynamic hover elements 
  • Pick colors from Flash objects
  • Pick colors at any zoom level



6. Honey

Honey is a chrome extension with which you  save each product from the website and notify it when it is available at  low price it's one among the highest extensions for Chrome that finds coupon codes whenever you look online.

Features

  • Best for finding exclusive prices on Amazon.
  • A free reward program called Honey Gold.
  • Searches and filters the simplest value fitting your demand.
  • Instant notifications.


7. GMass: Powerful Chrome Extension for Gmail Marketers

GMass (or Gmail Mass) permits users to compose and send mass emails using Gmail. it is a great tool as a result of you'll use it as a replacement for a third-party email sending platform. you will love GMass to spice up your emailing functionality on the platform.


8. Notion Web Clipper: Chrome Extension for Geeks

It's a Chrome extension for geeks that enables you to highlight and save what you see on the web.

It's been designed by Notion, that could be a Google space different that helps groups craft higher ideas and collaborate effectively.

Features

  • Save anything online with just one click  
  • Use it on any device
  • Organize your saved clips quickly
  • Tag, share and comment on the clips

If you are someone who works online, you need to surf the internet to get your business done. And often there is no time to read or analyze something. But it's important that you  do it. Notion Web Clipper will help you with that.

9. WhatFont: Chrome Extension for identifying Any Site Fonts

WhatFont is a Chrome extension that allows web designers to easily identify and compare different fonts on a page. The first time you use it on any page, WhatFont will copy the selected page.It  Uses this page to find out what fonts are present and generate an image that shows all those fonts in different sizes. Besides the apparent websites like Google or Amazon,  you'll conjointly use it on sites wherever embedded fonts ar used. 

10. SimilarWeb: Traffic Rank & Website Analysis Extension

Similar Web is an SEO add on for both Chrome and Firefox.It allows you  to check web site traffic and key metrics for any web site, as well as engagement rate, traffic ranking, keyword ranking, and traffic source. this is often a good tool if you are looking to seek out new and effective SEO ways similarly as analyze trends across the web.

Features

  • Discover keyword trends
  • Know fresh keywords
  • Get benefit from the real traffic insights
  • Analyze engagement metrics
  • Explore unique visitors data
  • Analyze your industry's category
  • Use month to date data


How to Install chrome Extension in Android

I know everyone knows how to install extension in pc but most of people don't know how to install it in android phone so i will show you how to install it in android

1. Download Kiwi browser from Play Store and then Open it.


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 2. Tap the three dots at the top right corner and select Extension. 




3. Click on (+From Store) to access chrome web store or simple search chrome web store and access it.


4. Once you found an extension click on add to chrome a message will pop-up  asking if you wish to confirm your choice. Hit OK to install the extension in the Kiwi browser.


5. To manage  extensions on the browser, tap the three dots in the upper right corner. Then select Extensions to access a catalog of installed extensions that you can disable, update or remove with just a few clicks.


Your Chrome extensions should install on Android, but there’s no guarantee all of them will work. Because Google Chrome Extensions are not optimized for Android devices.


Final Saying

We hope this list of 10 best chrome extensions that is perfect for everyone will help you in picking the right Chrome Extensions. We have selected the extensions after matching their features to the needs of different categories of people. Also which extension you like the most let me know in the comment section


Match ID: 167 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 190 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Email Marketing
Sat, 29 Jan 2022 12:45:00 +0000


1. Why is email marketing important?

Email is the marketing tool that helps you  create a seamless, connected, frictionless buyer journey. More importantly, email marketing allows you to build relationships with prospects, customers, and past customers. It's your chance to speak  to them right in their inbox, at a time that suits them. Along with the right message, email can become one of your most powerful marketing channels.

2. What is benefits of email marketing?

Email marketing is best way for creating long term relationship with your clients, and increasing sales in our company.

Benefits of email marketing for bussiness:
  • Better brand recognition
  • Statistics of what works best
  • More sales
  • Targeted audience
  • More traffic to your products/services/newsletter
  • Build credibility
Most  bussinesses are using email marketing and making tons of money with email marketing.

3. What is the simplest day and time to send my marketing emails?


Again, the answer to this question varies from company to company. And again, testing is the way to find out what works best. Typically, weekends and mornings seem to be  times when multiple emails are opened, but since your audience may have different habits, it's best to experiment and then use your  data to decide.

 4. Which metrics should I be looking at?


The two most important metrics for email marketing are  open rate and click-through rate. If your emails aren't opened, subscribers will never see your full marketing message, and if they open them but don't click through to your site, your emails won't convert.

5. How do I write a decent subject line?


The best subject lines are short and to the point, accurately describing  the content of the email, but also catchy and intriguing, so the reader wants to know more. Once Again, this is the perfect place for  A/B testing, to see what types of subject lines work best with your audience. Your call to action should be clear and  simple. It should be somewhere at the top of your email for those who haven't finished reading the entire email,  then repeated  at the end for those reading all the way through. It should state exactly what you want subscribers to do, for example "Click here to download the premium theme for free.




6. Is email marketing still effective?

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for a business to reach its customers directly. Think about it. You don't post something on your site  hoping people will visit it. You don't even post something on a social media page and hope fans  see it. You're sending something straight to each person's inbox, where they'll definitely  see it! Even if they don't open it, they'll still see your subject line and business name every time you send an email, so you're still communicating directly with your audience.



7. However do I grow my email subscribers list? Should i buy an email list or build it myself?

Buying an email list is  waste of time & money. These email accounts are unverified and not interested in your brand. The mailing list is useless if your subscribers do not open your emails. There are different ways to grow your mailing list. 

Give them a free ebook and host it on a landing page where they have to enter the email to download the file and also create a forum page on your website, asks your visitors what questions they might have about your business, and collects email addresses to follow up with them.


8. How do I prevent audience from unsubscribing?


If the  subject line of the email is irrelevant to  customers, they will ignore it multiple times. But, if it keeps repeating, they are intercepted and unsubscribed from your emails. So, send relevant emails for the benefit of the customer. Don't send emails that often only focus  on sales, offers and discounts. 
Submit information about your business and offers so you can connect with customers. You can also update them on recent trends in your industry. The basic role of an email is first and foremost to  connect with customers, get the most out of this tool.

9. What is the difference between a cold email and a spam email?


Cold emails are mostly sales emails that are sent with content align to the needs of the recipient. It is usually personalized and includes a business perspective. However, it is still an unsolicited email. And all unsolicited emails are marked as SPAM. 
Regularly receiving this type of unsolicited email in your users' inboxes, chances are  your emails will soon be diverted to  spam or junk folders. The most important thing to prevent this from happening is to respect your recipients' choice to opt-out of receiving emails from you. You can add the links to easily unsubscribe. You must be familiar with the CAN-SPAM Act and its regulations.

10. Where can I find email template?

Almost all email campaign tools provide you with ready-made templates. Whether you use MailChimp or Pardot, you'll get several email templates ready to use.
 However, if you want to create a template from scratch, you can do so.Most of email campaign tools have option to paste the HTML code of your own design. 


11. What email marketing trend will help marketers succeed in 2022?

Is it a trend to listen to  and get to know your customers? I think people realize how bad it feels for a brand or a company to obsess over themselves without knowing their customers personal needs. People who listen empathetically and then provide value based on what they learn will win.


Final Saying


 You can approach email marketing in different ways. We have compiled a list of most frequently asked questions to help you understand how to get started, what constraints you need to keep in mind, and what future development you will need, we don’t have 100% answers to every situation and there’s always a chance you will have something new and different to deal with as you market your own business. 



Match ID: 168 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 192 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

7 Free Websites Every Content Creator Needs to Know
Thu, 27 Jan 2022 15:19:00 +0000
Do you have the desire to become a content creator, but not have the money to start? Here are 7 free websites every content creator needs to know.

1.Exploding Topics (Trending Topics)

Exploding Topics
(Photo Credit:- Exploding Topics)

If you're a content creator, you might be wondering what better way to find new topic ideas than to see what people are searching for? This tool gives you this data without anyone else's explanation. It provides related hashtags and tips on how to use them effectively in your posts. It's a great tool for anyone who wants to keep up to date with what's most relevant in their niche. You can also see the most popular hashtags by country, making it easier to understand cross-border and demographic trends. This site makes your search for content easier than ever! There are countless ways to use explosive topics to your advantage as a content creator. 

Some examples can be:

  • Use the most popular hashtags and keywords to get inspiration for ideas.
  •  Find out what people are talking about in real-time.
  •  Find new audiences you may not have known were interested in your topic.

There’s no excuse not to try this website — it’s free and easy to use!

Visit Exploding Topics From Here

2. Headline Studio (Headline Grader)

Headline Studio
(Photo Credit:-Headline Studio)

Headline Studio allows you to create catchy headlines for your content. After writing a title there is data on how often people view articles with similar titles and why they are involved with them.

This is a valuable tool when creating new blog posts because it generates catchy headlines for your blog post to catch a reader’s attention.

Visit Headline Studio From Here

3. Answer the public

Answer The Public
(Photo Credit:- Answer The Public)

Answer The public is an excellent tool for content creators. It gives you insight into what people are asking on social media sites and communities and lets you guess about topics that matter to your audience. Answer the public allows you to enter a keyword or topic related to your niche and it will show results with popular questions and keywords related to your topic. It's an amazing way to get insights into what people are searching online and allows you to identify topics driven by new blog posts or social media content on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter as well as the types of questions they ask and  also want answers.

Visit Answer The Public From Here


4. Surfer Seo (SEO Ranking)

Surfer Seo
(Photo Credit:-Surfer Seo)


With this tool, content creators can quickly and easily check the ranking of their websites and those of other competitors. This tool allows you to see how your website compares to others in different categories, including: 

  • Rank Potential
  • Organic Search Ranking

Surfer Seo is free and the interface is very friendly. It's a great tool for anyone who wants to do quick competitor research or check their site's rankings at any time.

Visit SurferSeo From Here

5. Canva (Templates/Graphics)

Canva
(Photo Credit:- Canva)


Canva is a free graphic design platform that makes it easy to create invitations, business cards, mobile videos, Instagram posts, Instagram stories, flyers, and more with professionally designed templates. You can even upload your photos and drag and drop them into Canva templates. It's like having a basic version of Photoshop. You can also remove background from images with one click.

Canva offers thousands of free, professionally designed templates that can be customized with just a few clicks. Simply upload your photos to Canva, drag them into the template of your choice, and save the file to your computer.

It is free to use for basic use but if you want access to different fonts or more features, then you need to buy a premium plan.

Visit Canva From Here

6. Facebook Audience Insights (Audience Research)

Facebook Audience Insights
(Photo Credit:- Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights is a powerful tool for content creators when researching their target market. This can help you understand the demographics, interests, and behaviors of your target audience. This information helps determine the direction of your content so that it resonates with them. The most important tools to consider in Facebook Audience Insights are Demographics and Behavior. These two sections provide you with valuable information about your target market, such as their age and from where they belong, how much time they spend on social media per day, what devices they use to access it, etc.

There is another section of Facebook Audits that is very helpful. This will let you know the interests, hobbies, and activities that people in your target market are most interested in. You can use this information to create content for them about things they will be about as opposed to topics they may not be so keen on.

Visit Facebook Audience Insights From Here

7. Pexels (Images)

Pexel
(Photo Credit: Pixel

Pexels is a warehouse for any content creator with millions of free royalty images who wants to find high-quality images that can be used freely without having to worry about permissions or licensing so you are free to use the photos in your content and also there is no watermark on photos

The only cons are that some photos contain people, and Pexels doesn't allow you to remove people from photos. Search your keyword and download as many as you want!

Visit Pexel From Here


So there you have it. We hope that these specially curated websites will come in handy for content creators and small businesses alike. If you've got a site that should be on this list, let us know! And if you're looking for more content creator resources, then let us know in the comments section below




Match ID: 169 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 194 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Top 9 Free AI Tools That Make Your Life Easier
Mon, 24 Jan 2022 12:07:00 +0000


Photo:- Copy.ai


First one on the list is copy.ai. It is an AI based copy writer tool. Basically  what a copywriter tool does is, it gives you content that you can post on your blog or video  when you give it a few descriptions about the topic you want content on.So copy ai can help you write instagram captions gives you blog idea, product descriptions,  facebook content, startup ideas, viral ideas, a lot of things it can do, you just make an account  in this website, then select a tool and fill in the necessary description and the AI will generate  content on what you ask for.

For tutorials go to their official Youtube  channel .An awesome tool that is going to be really handy in the future.


Hotpot.ai offers a collection of  AI tools for designers, as well as for anyone, it has an “AI picture restorer” which removes  scratches ,and basically restores your old photo into amazing pictures and makes it look brand new. 

 Ai picture colorizer , turns your black and white photo into color. And there is a background  remover tool, picture enlarger and a lot more for designers, check it out,and explore all the tools.



Deep-nostalgia became  very popular on the internet when people started 

making reaction videos of their parents reacting  to animated pictures of their grandparents. So deep - nostalgia is a very cool app, that will  animate any photo of a person.

 So what makes it really cool is that fact that you can upload an  old photo of your family and see them animate and living. Which is pretty cool and creepy at  the same time if they are dead already.. Really amazing service from myheritage, I created a  lot of cool animations with my old photos as well as with the photos of my grandparents.

Having a nice  looking profile picture is really important if you want that professional feel in your socials.  Whether in linkedin or twitter having a 

distinct and catchy profile picture can make  all the difference. So that's where pfpmaker comes in. it a free online tool to create amazing professional profile pictures that fits you. It generates a lot of profile pictures  and you can also make small changes to already created profile pictures if you want to,as well.



Speaking of brands, getting a  good logo for your brand is the most frustrating 

thing ever, so brandmark.io makes it super easy.  It will create a logo for your brand within 2 clicks. So you goto this website. Type in your brand name and slogan if you have any, and give BRAND KEYWORDS that relate to your brand,  then pick a color style and done, the ai will 

generate amazing logos for you. 

You can also make  minor edits to the suggested logos to better fit your needs as well. But to get that png you need  to pay a hefty price, but if you are looking for some logo ideas, this is a great place to start.



Even in the previous websites, some  had picture enlarger tools. This deep-image.ai is a dedicated image enlarger, which supports upto 4x  enlargement for free. The UI is pretty good and the tool is pretty fast with amazing results.



Bigjpg does the same as  deep-image.ai , but this service offers a little bit more options like if your photo is an artwork  it scales image differently than normal photos and it supports upto 4x enlargement for free  and you can also set noise reduction options. Very good tool,


Lumen5 is an  online marketing video maker that makes it really easy to create branding or informational videos  within a couple of clicks. They have really great templates and various aspect ratios for various  social media platforms. 
You can also edit each element of the video if you don't like the preset,  and the best part is, they have a ton of , I mean a ton of free stock photos and videos.You can also  upload your own videos or any type of media. Definitely a good tool if you don't know how  to work with complex tools like after effects, but want to create a sick video for your brand.




If you are struggling to find  good names for your brand or youtube channel, give 

namelix a try. It's an ai based name generator  that will suggest good names for your brand depending on the keyword that you give..  Also logo for your brand. Pretty cool and an amazing piece of tool. So that's been it , those are my favourite free AI based tools that you can use right now,

Which one You like the most Let me know in the Comments below.  



Match ID: 170 Score: 2.86 source: www.crunchhype.com age: 197 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

Spin Me Up, Scotty—Up Into Orbit
Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:34:49 +0000


At first, the dream of riding a rocket into space was laughed off the stage by critics who said you’d have to carry along fuel that weighed more than the rocket itself. But the advent of booster rockets and better fuels let the dreamers have the last laugh.

Hah, the critics said: To put a kilogram of payload into orbit we just need 98 kilograms of rocket plus rocket fuel.

What a ratio, what a cost. To transport a kilogram of cargo, commercial air freight services typically charge about US $10; spaceflight costs reach $10,000. Sure, you can save money by reusing the booster, as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are trying to do, but it would be so much better if you could dispense with the booster and shoot the payload straight into space.

The first people to think along these lines used cannon launchers, such as those in Project HARP (High Altitude Research Project), in the 1960s. Research support dried up after booster rockets showed their mettle. Another idea was to shoot payloads into orbit along a gigantic electrified ramp, called a railgun, but that technology still faces hurdles of a basic scientific nature, not least the need for massive banks of capacitors to provide the jolt of energy.

Imagine a satellite spinning in a vacuum chamber at many times the speed of sound. The gates of that chamber open up, and the satellite shoots out faster than the air outside can rush back in—creating a sonic boom when it hits the wall of air.

Now SpinLaunch, a company founded in 2015 in Long Beach, Calif., proposes a gentler way to heave satellites into orbit. Rather than shoot the satellite in a gun, SpinLaunch would sling it from the end of a carbon-fiber tether that spins around in a vacuum chamber for as long as an hour before reaching terminal speed. The tether lets go milliseconds before gates in the chamber open up to allow the satellite out.

“Because we’re slowly accelerating the system, we can keep the power demands relatively low,” David Wrenn, vice president for technology, tells IEEE Spectrum. “And as there’s a certain amount of energy stored in the tether itself, you can recapture that through regenerative braking.”

The company reports they've raised about $100 million. Among the backers are the investment arms of Airbus and Google and the Defense Innovation Unit, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

SpinLaunch began with a lab centrifuge that measures about 12 meters in diameter. In November, a 33-meter version at Space Port America test-launched a payload thousands of meters up. Such a system could loft a small rocket, which would finish the job of reaching orbit. A 100-meter version, now in the planning stage, should be able to handle a 200-kg payload.

Wrenn answers all the obvious questions. How can the tether withstand the g-force when spinning at hypersonic speed? “A carbon-fiber cable with a cross-sectional area of one square inch (6.5 square centimeters) can suspend a mass of 300,000 pounds (136,000 kg),” he says.

How much preparation do you need between shots? Not much, because the chamber doesn’t have to be superclean. If the customer wants to loft a lot of satellites—a likely desideratum, given the trend toward massive constellations of small satellites–the setup could include motors powerful enough to spin up in 30 minutes. “Upwards of 10 launches per day are possible,” Wrenn says.

How tight must the vacuum be? A “rough” vacuum suffices, he says. SpinLaunch maintains the vacuum with a system of airlocks operated by those millisecond-fast gates.

Most parts, including the steel for the vacuum chamber and carbon fiber, are off-the-shelf, but those gates are proprietary. All Wrenn will say is that they’re not made of steel.

So imagine a highly intricate communications satellite, housed in some structure, spinning at many times the speed of sound. The gates open up, the satellite shoots out far faster than the air outside can rush back in. Then the satellite hits the wall of air, creating a sonic boom.

No problem, says Wrenn. Electronic systems have been hurtling from vacuums into air ever since the cannon-launching days of HARP, some 60 years ago. SpinLaunch has done work already on engineering certain satellite components to withstand the ordeal—“deployable solar panels, for example,” he says.

After the online version of this article appeared, several readers objected to the SpinLaunch system, above all to the stress it would put on the liquid-fueled rocket at the end of that carbon-fiber tether.

“The system has to support up to 8,000 gs; most payloads at launch are rated at 6 or 10 gs,” said John Bucknell, a rocket scientist who heads the startup Virtus Solis Technologies, which aims to collect solar energy in space and beam it to earth.

Keith Lostrom, a chip engineer, went even further. “Drop a brick onto an egg—that is a tiny fraction of the damage that SpinLaunch’s centripedal acceleration would do to a liquid-fuel orbital launch rocket,” he wrote, in an emailed message.

Wrenn denies that the g-force is a dealbreaker. For one thing, he argues, the turbopumps in liquid-fuel rockets spin at over 30,000 rotations per minute, subjecting the liquid oxygen and fuel to “much more aggressive conditions than the uniform g-force that SpinLaunch has.”

Besides, he says, finite element analysis and high-g testing in the company’s 12-meter accelerator “has led to confidence it’s not a fundamental issue for us. We’ve already hot-fired our SpinLaunch-compatible upper-stage engine on the test stand.”

SpinLaunch says it will announce the site for its full-scale orbital launcher within the next five months. It will likely be built on a coastline, far from populated areas and regular airplane service. Construction costs would be held down if the machine can be built up the side of a hill. If all goes well, expect to see the first satellite slung into orbit sometime around 2025.

This article was updated on 24 Feb. 2022 to include additional perspectives on the technology.


Match ID: 171 Score: 2.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 200 days
qualifiers: 2.86 eu

12 Exciting Engineering Milestones to Look for in 2022
Thu, 30 Dec 2021 16:00:00 +0000


Psyche’s Deep-Space Lasers


An illustration of a satellite holding a ray gun in a cartoon style hand. MCKIBILLO

In August, NASA will launch the Psyche mission, sending a deep-space orbiter to a weird metal asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. While the probe’s main purpose is to study Psyche’s origins, it will also carry an experiment that could inform the future of deep-space communications. The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment will test whether lasers can transmit signals beyond lunar orbit. Optical signals, such as those used in undersea fiber-optic cables, can carry more data than radio signals can, but their use in space has been hampered by difficulties in aiming the beams accurately over long distances. DSOC will use a 4-watt infrared laser with a wavelength of 1,550 nanometers (the same used in many optical fibers) to send optical signals at multiple distances during Psyche’s outward journey to the asteroid.


The Great Electric Plane Race


An illustration of a battery with wings and a spinning propeller. MCKIBILLO

For the first time in almost a century, the U.S.-based National Aeronautic Association (NAA) will host a cross-country aircraft race. Unlike the national air races of the 1920s, however, the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race, scheduled for 19 May, will include only electric-propulsion aircraft. Both fixed-wing craft and helicopters are eligible. The competition will be limited to 25 contestants, and each aircraft must have an onboard pilot. The course will start in Omaha and end four days later in Manteo, N.C., near the site of the Wright brothers’ first flight. The NAA has stated that the goal of the cross-country, multiday race is to force competitors to confront logistical problems that still plague electric aircraft, like range, battery charging, reliability, and speed.

6-Gigahertz Wi-Fi Goes Mainstream

An illustration of the wifi signal and an arrow near the word \u201c6Ghz.\u201d MCKIBILLO

Wi-Fi is getting a boost with 1,200 megahertz of new spectrum in the 6-gigahertz band, adding a third spectrum band to the more familiar 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The new band is called Wi-Fi 6E because it extends Wi-Fi’s capabilities into the 6-GHz band. As a rule, higher radio frequencies have higher data capacity, but a shorter range. With its higher frequencies, 6-GHz Wi-Fi is expected to find use in heavy traffic environments like offices and public hotspots. The Wi-Fi Alliance introduced a Wi-Fi 6E certification program in January 2021, and the first trickle of 6E routers appeared by the end of the year. In 2022, expect to see a bonanza of Wi-Fi 6E–enabled smartphones.

3-Nanometer Chips Arrive

An illustration of a chip dancing and holding a hat with \u201c3nm\u201d at the center. MCKIBILLO

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) plans to begin producing 3-nanometer semiconductor chips in the second half of 2022. Right now, 5-nm chips are the standard. TSMC will make its 3-nm chips using a tried-and-true semiconductor structure called the FinFET (short for “fin field-effect transistor”). Meanwhile, Samsung and Intel are moving to a different technique for 3 nm called nanosheet. (TSMC is eventually planning to abandon FinFETs.) At one point, TSMC’s sole 3-nm chip customer for 2022 was Apple, for the latter’s iPhone 14, but supply-chain issues have made it less certain that TSMC will be able to produce enough chips—which promise more design flexibility—to fulfill even that order.

Seoul Joins the Metaverse

An illustration of a building MCKIBILLO

After Facebook (now Meta) announced it was hell-bent on making the metaverse real, a host of other tech companies followed suit. Definitions differ, but the basic idea of the metaverse involves merging virtual reality and augmented reality with actual reality. Also jumping on the metaverse bandwagon is the government of the South Korean capital, Seoul, which plans to develop a “metaverse platform” by the end of 2022. To build this first public metaverse, Seoul will invest 3.9 billion won (US $3.3 million). The platform will offer public services and cultural events, beginning with the Metaverse 120 Center, a virtual-reality portal for citizens to address concerns that previously required a trip to city hall. Other planned projects include virtual exhibition halls for school courses and a digital representation of Deoksu Palace. The city expects the project to be complete by 2026.

IBM’s Condors Take Flight

An illustration of a bird made up of squares. MCKIBILLO

In 2022, IBM will debut a new quantum processor—its biggest yet—as a stepping-stone to a 1,000-qubit processor by the end of 2023. This year’s iteration will contain 433 qubits, three times as much as the company’s 127-qubit Eagle processor, which was launched last year. Following the bird theme, the 433- and 1,000-qubit processors will be named Condor. There have been quantum computers with many more qubits; D-Wave Systems, for example, announced a 5,000-qubit computer in 2020. However, D-Wave’s computers are specialized machines for optimization problems. IBM’s Condors aim to be the largest general-purpose quantum processors.

New Dark-Matter Detector

An illustration of two dotted arrow headed lines and two circles with the letter \u201cp\u201d on them. MCKIBILLO

The Forward Search Experiment (FASER) at CERN is slated to switch on in July 2022. The exact date depends on when the Large Hadron Collider is set to renew proton-proton collisions after three years of upgrades and maintenance. FASER will begin a hunt for dark matter and other particles that interact extremely weakly with “normal” matter. CERN, the fundamental physics research center near Geneva, has four main detectors attached to its Large Hadron Collider, but they aren’t well-suited to detecting dark matter. FASER won’t attempt to detect the particles directly; instead, it will search for the more strongly interacting Standard Model particles created when dark matter interacts with something else. The new detector was constructed while the collider was shut down from 2018 to 2021. Located 480 meters “downstream” of the ATLAS detector, FASER will also hunt for neutrinos produced in huge quantities by particle collisions in the LHC loop. The other CERN detectors have so far failed to detect such neutrinos.

Pong Turns 50

An illustration of the pong game with the numbers \u201c6\u201d and \u201c9\u201d on top. MCKIBILLO

Atari changed the course of video games when it released its first game, Pong, in 1972. While not the first video game—or even the first to be presented in an upright, arcade-style cabinet—Pong was the first to be commercially successful. The game was developed by engineer Allan Alcorn and originally assigned to him as a test after he was hired, before he began working on actual projects. However, executives at Atari saw potential in Pong’s simple game play and decided to develop it into a real product. Unlike the countless video games that came after it, the original Pong did not use any code or microprocessors. Instead, it was built from a television and transistor-transistor logic.

The Green Hydrogen Boom

An illustration of a generator with large, circular blades. MCKIBILLO

Utility company Energias de Portugal (EDP), based in Lisbon, is on track to begin operating a 3-megawatt green hydrogen plant in Brazil by the end of the year. Green hydrogen is hydrogen produced in sustainable ways, using solar or wind-powered electrolyzers to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. According to the International Energy Agency, only 0.1 percent of hydrogen is produced this way. The plant will replace an existing coal-fired plant and generate hydrogen—which can be used in fuel cells—using solar photovoltaics. EDP’s roughly US $7.9 million pilot program is just the tip of the green hydrogen iceberg. Enegix Energy has announced plans for a $5.4 billion green hydrogen plant in the same Brazilian state, Ceará, where the EDP plant is being built. The green hydrogen market is predicted to generate a revenue of nearly $10 billion by 2028, according to a November 2021 report by Research Dive.

A Permanent Space Station for China

An illustration of a space station MCKIBILLO

China is scheduled to complete its Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”) space station in 2022. The station, China’s first long-term space habitat, was preceded by the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 stations, which orbited from 2011 to 2018 and 2016 to 2019, respectively. The new station’s core module, the Tianhe, was launched in April 2021. A further 10 missions by the end of 2022 will deliver other components and modules, with construction to be completed in orbit. The final station will have two laboratory modules in addition to the core module. Tiangong will orbit at roughly the same altitude as the International Space Station but will be only about one-fifth the mass of the ISS.

A Cool Form of Energy Storage

An illustration of a lightning bolt in an ice cube. MCKIBILLO

Cryogenic energy-storage company Highview Power will begin operations at its Carrington plant near Manchester, England, this year. Cryogenic energy storage is a long-term method of storing electricity by cooling air until it liquefies (about –196 °C). Crucially, the air is cooled when electricity is cheaper—at night, for example—and then stored until electricity demand peaks. The liquid air is then allowed to boil back into a gas, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. The 50-megawatt/250-megawatt-hour Carrington plant will be Highview Power’s first commercial plant using its cryogenic storage technology, dubbed CRYOBattery. Highview Power has said it plans to build a similar plant in Vermont, although it has not specified a timeline yet.

Carbon-Neutral Cryptocurrency?