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  • 'Hot Jupiter' with deadly stratosphere stuns scientists

    30.11.2017 | A NASA-led team of scientists has determined that WASP-18b, a "hot JupiterBSE -2.93 %" located 325 light-years from Earth, has a smothering stratosphere that is loaded with carbon monoxide, or CO, but has no signs of water. "The composition of WASP-18b defies all expectations," said Kyle Sheppard of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  "We don't know of any other extrasolar planet where carbon monoxide so completely dominates the upper atmosphere," Sheppard said. The findings, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet's atmosphere is attributed to "sunscreen"-like molecules, which absorb ultra violet (UV) and visible radiation coming from the star and then release that energy as heat. The new study suggests that the "hot Jupiter" WASP-18b, a massive planet that orbits very close to its host star, has an unusual composition, and the formation of this world might have been quite different from that of Jupiter as well as gas giants in other planetary systems. On Earth, ozone absorbs UV in the stratosphere, protecting our world from a lot of the Sun's harmful radiation. For the handful of exoplanets with stratospheres, the absorber is typically thought to be a molecule such as titanium oxide, a close relative of titanium dioxide, used on Earth as a paint pigment and sunscreen ingredient.    

  • Google Search adds donate button for US-based nonprofits

    29.11.2017 | To make it easier for people to give money to their favourite organisations this holiday season, Google Search has added a “Donate” button to its knowledge graph. The button allows users to contribute to the organisations directly when they search for US-based nonprofits. But for the button to appear, the nonprofits need to enroll with Google.“Starting today, when you search for a growing list of US-based nonprofits, you’ll see a new ‘Donate’ option. “Tap or click on Donate, and you’ll see an easy donation flow that lets you give to your favourite organisation as easily as you can look up its history, phone number, or website,” Google’s Product Manager Prem Ramaswami wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.“We’re starting with organisations in the US across causes and locales who have opted in through Google for Nonprofits, and we hope that more opt in moving forward,” Ramaswami said. Earlier in 2017, Google pledged $1 billion in Google.org grants over five years to nonprofits around the world.According to some estimates, Google said, nearly 30 percent of all giving happens during the holiday season. “This spirit shines in our search trends, too, with many people looking for ways to donate and support nonprofits. We hope this feature makes it easier for nonprofits to reach potential supporters, and for you to donate to important causes, this holiday season and beyond,” Ramaswami said.Unlike Facebook’s Charitable Givings feature that has gotten popular with users who “donate” their birthdays to fundraising, Google does not charge a fee when donations are made through its button,  

  • Microsoft Office Now Available on Chromebooks

    28.11.2017 | Microsoft Office has arrived for Google Chromebook users through the Google Play Store and it will be available free only to users with specific devices, while others will need to subscribe to Office 365. A report in Tech Crunch late on Monday said neither Google nor Microsoft has made a formal announcement about the arrival. This is the first time Office has been available to Chromebook users through Google Play as a general release, the report said.In 2016, Microsoft had said that it would make Android versions of Microsoft Office apps available to all compatible devices. Although the Office on Android platform for Chromebook is available, for starters, the ability to run apps on older models is still limited. In addition, users with devices whose screens are 10.1 inches or larger will need an Office 365 subscription to use the Android app, a report in ZDNet pointed out.

  • Facebook is rolling out AI tools to help prevent suicides

    28.11.2017 | In yet another attempt to prevent suicides, Facebook is starting to roll out Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based tools to help identify when someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide, including on Facebook Live.The initiative - that will use pattern recognition to detect posts or live videos where someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide to help authorities respond faster -- will eventually be available worldwide, except the European Union, Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday. "Facebook is a place where friends and family are already connected and we are able to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them. "It's part of our ongoing effort to help build a safe community on and off Facebook," wrote Guy Rosen, Vice President of Product Management at Facebook. In October, Facebook worked with first responders on over 100 wellness checks based on reports it received via its proactive detection efforts. "We use signals like the text used in the post and comments (for example, comments like "Are you ok?" and "Can I help?" can be strong indicators).

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  • 'Hot Jupiter' with deadly stratosphere stuns scientists
    'Hot Jupiter' with deadly stratosphere stuns scientists

    30.11.2017 |A NASA-led team of scientists has determined that WASP-18b, a "hot JupiterBSE -2.93 %" located 325 light-years from Earth, has a smothering stratosphere that is loaded with carbon monoxide, or CO, but has no signs of water. "The composition of WASP-18b defies all expectations," said Kyle Sheppard of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  "We don't know of any other extrasolar planet where carbon monoxide so completely dominates the upper atmosphere," Sheppard said. The findings, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet's atmosphere is attributed to "sunscreen"-like molecules, which absorb ultra violet (UV) and visible radiation coming from the star and then release that energy as heat. The new study suggests that the "hot Jupiter" WASP-18b, a massive planet that orbits very close to its host star, has an unusual composition, and the formation of this world might have been quite different from that of Jupiter as well as gas giants in other planetary systems. On Earth, ozone absorbs UV in the stratosphere, protecting our world from a lot of the Sun's harmful radiation. For the handful of exoplanets with stratospheres, the absorber is typically thought to be a molecule such as titanium oxide, a close relative of titanium dioxide, used on Earth as a paint pigment and sunscreen ingredient.    

  • Google Search adds donate button for US-based nonprofits
    Google Search adds donate button for US-based nonprofits

    29.11.2017 |To make it easier for people to give money to their favourite organisations this holiday season, Google Search has added a “Donate” button to its knowledge graph. The button allows users to contribute to the organisations directly when they search for US-based nonprofits. But for the button to appear, the nonprofits need to enroll with Google.“Starting today, when you search for a growing list of US-based nonprofits, you’ll see a new ‘Donate’ option. “Tap or click on Donate, and you’ll see an easy donation flow that lets you give to your favourite organisation as easily as you can look up its history, phone number, or website,” Google’s Product Manager Prem Ramaswami wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.“We’re starting with organisations in the US across causes and locales who have opted in through Google for Nonprofits, and we hope that more opt in moving forward,” Ramaswami said. Earlier in 2017, Google pledged $1 billion in Google.org grants over five years to nonprofits around the world.According to some estimates, Google said, nearly 30 percent of all giving happens during the holiday season. “This spirit shines in our search trends, too, with many people looking for ways to donate and support nonprofits. We hope this feature makes it easier for nonprofits to reach potential supporters, and for you to donate to important causes, this holiday season and beyond,” Ramaswami said.Unlike Facebook’s Charitable Givings feature that has gotten popular with users who “donate” their birthdays to fundraising, Google does not charge a fee when donations are made through its button,  

  • Microsoft Office Now Available on Chromebooks
    Microsoft Office Now Available on Chromebooks

    28.11.2017 |Microsoft Office has arrived for Google Chromebook users through the Google Play Store and it will be available free only to users with specific devices, while others will need to subscribe to Office 365. A report in Tech Crunch late on Monday said neither Google nor Microsoft has made a formal announcement about the arrival. This is the first time Office has been available to Chromebook users through Google Play as a general release, the report said.In 2016, Microsoft had said that it would make Android versions of Microsoft Office apps available to all compatible devices. Although the Office on Android platform for Chromebook is available, for starters, the ability to run apps on older models is still limited. In addition, users with devices whose screens are 10.1 inches or larger will need an Office 365 subscription to use the Android app, a report in ZDNet pointed out.

  • Facebook is rolling out AI tools to help prevent suicides
    Facebook is rolling out AI tools to help prevent suicides

    28.11.2017 |In yet another attempt to prevent suicides, Facebook is starting to roll out Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based tools to help identify when someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide, including on Facebook Live.The initiative - that will use pattern recognition to detect posts or live videos where someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide to help authorities respond faster -- will eventually be available worldwide, except the European Union, Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday. "Facebook is a place where friends and family are already connected and we are able to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them. "It's part of our ongoing effort to help build a safe community on and off Facebook," wrote Guy Rosen, Vice President of Product Management at Facebook. In October, Facebook worked with first responders on over 100 wellness checks based on reports it received via its proactive detection efforts. "We use signals like the text used in the post and comments (for example, comments like "Are you ok?" and "Can I help?" can be strong indicators).

  • Nasa to measure space debris around International Space Station
    Nasa to measure space debris around International Space Station

    27.11.2017 |Nasa is set to launch a sensor that will measure space debris around the International Space Station (ISS), which could help reduce the risk to human life. The one square meter Space Debris Sensor (SDS) will travel on a SpaceX cargo mission on 4 December and will be mounted on the exterior of the station. The sensor uses dual-layer thin films, an acoustic sensor system, a resistive grid sensor system and a sensored backstop to provide near-real-time impact detection and recording, the US space agency said. Research from this investigation could help lower the risk to human life and critical hardware by orbital debris. US-based aerospace company SpaceX will launch its Dragon spacecraft into orbit for its 13th commercial resupply mission. The spacecraft will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station. Another investigation will attempt to pull fibre optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fibre optic glass. When ZBLAN is solidified on Earth, its atomic structure tends to form into crystals. Research indicates that ZBLAN fibre pulled in microgravity may not crystalise as much, giving it better optical qualities than the silica used in most fibre optic wire. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fibre optic products both in space and on Earth. According to Nasa, one more research to be sent to the ISS is the Rodent Research-6 (RR-6) investigation. It will examine a drug compound and drug delivery system designed to combat muscular breakdown in space or other times of disuse. The implanted drug delivery chip will administer a compound meant to maintain muscle in a variety of disuse conditions, including microgravity. The results from the RR-6 investigations will help researchers to understand how to maintain a healthy body structure in the absence of gravity. It will also increase our understanding of muscle-related diseases, disorders and injuries. 

  • Google faces inquiry over location data collection
    Google faces inquiry over location data collection

    25.11.2017 |After Google reportedly confirmed the practice of gathering location data from Android devices even when the service was disabled by users, regulators in South Korea summoned representatives of the tech giant this week for questioning.Data protection officials in Britain are also looking into the matter,   The probe in South Korea follows a report by Quartz which found that Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby mobile towers-even when location services are disabled -and sending that data back to Google.This makes search engine giant and the unit of Alphabet behind Android to have access to huge amount of data that invades their privacy. Users cannot opt out of this even when their devices are factory reset, the report said.Google reportedly confirmed the move which was undertaken “to improve the speed and performance of message delivery”.The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) “is carrying out an inquiry into the claims that Google collected users’ Cell ID data without consent even when their smartphone’s location service was inactive,” Chun Ji—hyun, head of KCC’s privacy infringement division, Google said Android phones are no longer requesting Cell ID codes, and collection should be phased out this month. 

  • Huawei, Edinburgh University ink pact on artificial intelligence
    Huawei, Edinburgh University ink pact on artificial intelligence

    19.11.2017 |Chinese technology giant Huawei and the University of Edinburgh, UK, have signed a research cooperation agreement to investigate the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) robotics systems to operate over next generation 5G wireless networks. Researchers at Huawei's Wireless X Labs and University of Edinburgh's new Bayes Centre will investigate together how AI systems can inform and adapt wireless 5G networks to provide optimum wireless support to meet the needs of connected robotics and systems.The areas of initial focus include healthcare robotics and mobile video. "We are delighted to continue working with the world-leading team at the University of Edinburgh to help understand how improvements within mobile broadband can foster innovation within wireless robotics systems," Peter Zhou from Huawei said in a statement. "AI is a key feature of 5G networking, and we are excited to deepen our understanding of how the interaction between applications and networks can create new benefits and enhancements." The project will build on the University of Edinburgh's existing research into AI and autonomous systems to provide new insights into how these systems will use AI to collaborate with mobile broadband networks. This can enhance the performance of both networks and applications to enable greater levels of interaction between people and systems. "We are thrilled to have deepened our relationship with Huawei to researching 5G within AI applications," said Charlie Jeffery, Professor at the University. This new research project extends the existing relationship between Huawei and the University of Edinburgh following the announcement, in June, of a joint lab hosted at the University's School of Informatics. 

  • Facebook ‘Local’ to bring together restaurants, bars for users
    Facebook ‘Local’ to bring together restaurants, bars for users

    11.11.2017 |Facebook is reportedly relaunching its “Events” stand-alone app as “Local” for Android and iOS devices that will feature information about local businesses and reviews from Facebook users to help bring together businesses, restaurants, bars and more along with events. “Launching in the US on iOS and Android, Facebook “Local” combines events and permanent places to a single search engine powered by Facebook’s 70 million business pages plus reviews and friends’ checkins,” TechCrunch reported late on Friday. “The new app, helps you easily find what to do, where to go, where to eat, or what you need — all recommended by the people you know and trust,” Aditya Koolwal, Product Manager, “Local,” was quoted as saying. “Local” app will combine calendar and event listings and this aspect could turn the social media platform closer to apps like “Foursquare” and “Yelp” that search-and-discover and provide those results for its users locally.Facebook is also likely to start testing two features — “red envelope” that would enable users send money to others from the platform, and a “breaking news” tag that publishers can use to make people aware of the latest happenings around them.

  • Facebook Not to Roll Out 'Explore' Feed Test Globally
    Facebook Not to Roll Out 'Explore' Feed Test Globally

    24.10.2017 |A Facebook experiment in six countries to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content on its platform will not be rolled out globally, the social media platform has clarified. The test is being done in Facebook's "Explore" feed - which is secondary feed over the primary New Feed for its users - in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia. "Some have interpreted this test as a future product we plan to deliver globally. We currently have no plans to roll this test out further," Adam Mosseri, Head of wrote in a post late on Monday.The test in these six countries is different than the version of "Explore" that has been rolled out to most people. Outside of the above countries, "Explore" is a complementary feed of popular articles, videos and photos automatically customised for each person based on content that might be interesting to them. "We've heard from people that they want an easy way to discover relevant content from pages they haven't connected with yet. While 'Explore' includes content from relevant pages, posts from pages that people like or follow will continue to appear in News Feed," Mosseri explained.According to reports, the test has seen users' engagement with Facebook pages drop dramatically from 60 percent to even 80 percent. If replicated more broadly, such a change would destroy many smaller publishers, TechCrunch reported. According to Mosseri, the company is testing having one dedicated space for people to keep up with their friends and family, and another separate space called "Explore" with posts from pages. "The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it's an idea worth pursuing any further," he said.There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or "Explore". Facebook recently said it will introduce "Explore" feed for users on the desktop to help them discover stories beyond the friends and pages they already follow.

  • Ineffective IT governance makes NASA vulnerable to security breaches
    Ineffective IT governance makes NASA vulnerable to security breaches

    23.10.2017 | NASA's slow progress in improving its IT governance over the past four years could put the agency at risk of experiencing security breaches, warns an audit report. Information Technology (IT) plays an integral role in every facet of NASA's space, science and aeronautics operations. The agency spends approximately $1.4 billion annually on a portfolio of IT assets it uses to control spacecraft, collect and process scientific data, secure its IT infrastructure and enable the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) personnel to collaborate with colleagues around the world. In its 2013 report, the Office of Inspector General (IG) found that the decentralised nature of agency operations and longstanding culture of autonomy hindered NASA's ability to implement effective IT governance. "We made eight recommendations and NASA agreed to take action to address our concerns," the IG report said. In this latest audit, the Office of Inspector General evaluated NASA's progress in implementing changes to its IT governance structure. But in the four years since issuance of the IT governance report, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has made insufficient progress to improve NASA's IT governance, casting doubts on the office's ability to effectively oversee the agency's IT assets, according to the report issued this week. "Specifically, the NASA Chief Information Officer (CIO) continues to have limited visibility into IT investments across the agency," the report said.  Ineffective IT governance can result in security breaches, increased costs, missed deadlines, and provision of low quality IT products and services, the report pointed out. 

  • Google Offers $1000 to Find Bugs in Android Apps
    Google Offers $1000 to Find Bugs in Android Apps

    21.10.2017 |Google has launched a new bug bounty programme for security experts where the company will pay $1,000 for finding security flaws in Android apps and then reporting it to Google researchers."The Google Play Security Reward Programme recognises the contributions of security researchers who invest their time and effort in helping us make apps on Google Play more secure," the tech giant said on its website late on Thursday. All Google's apps are included and developers of popular Android apps are invited to opt-in to the programme being run in partnership with HackerOne."Through the programme, we will further improve app security which will benefit developers, Android users and the entire Google Play ecosystem," the company said. For now, the scope is limited to RCE (remote-code-execution) vulnerabilities and corresponding POCs (Proof of concepts) that work on Android 4.4 devices and higher. "This translates to an RCE vulnerability that allows an attacker to run code of their choosing on a user's device without user knowledge or permission," Google said. This is how it works. Researcher identifies vulnerability within an in-scope app and reports it directly to the app's developer via their current vulnerability disclosure or bug bounty process. App developer then works with the researcher to resolve the vulnerability. Once the vulnerability has been resolved, the researcher requests a bonus bounty from the Google Play Security. "The programme will evaluate each submission based on the vulnerability criteria. A reward of $1,000 will be rewarded for issues that meet this criterion," Google said. "We are unable to issue rewards to individuals who are on US sanctions lists or who are in countries (Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria)," it added.

  • Bigelow Aerospace plans to deploy lunar depot by 2022
    Bigelow Aerospace plans to deploy lunar depot by 2022

    21.10.2017 | Las Vegas-based space technology company Bigelow Aerospace plans to send an expandable habitat around the Moon to serve as a lunar depot by 2022.Bigelow Aerospace entered into an agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, to launch the expandable module B330 on ULA's Vulcan launch vehicle. "Our lunar depot plan is a strong complement to other plans intended to eventually put people on Mars," Robert Bigelow, President of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a statement this week. "This lunar depot could be deployed easily by 2022 to support the nation's re-energised plans for returning to the Moon," Bigelow said. NASA wants to return humans on the Moon and establish a presence on the lunar surface before sending astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s. "This commercial lunar depot would provide anchorage for significant lunar business development in addition to offering NASA and other governments the Moon as a new exciting location to conduct long-term exploration and astronaut training," he said. 

  • Microsoft builds treehouse offices
    Microsoft builds treehouse offices

    14.10.2017 |To help its employees gain creativity, focus and happiness, Microsoft has built treehouse workspaces with embedded tech at its Redmond campus that will serve as meeting spaces and a more casual work environment. Designed by renowned builder Pete Nelson, the treehouse is one of the three new branch-based meeting spaces and is part of a larger new system of technology-enabled outdoor districts connected to buildings around campus empowering employees to work in new ways. During its construction in the summer, the outdoor meeting spaces, which include two enclosed treehouses and one elevated roost called the ‘Crow’s Nest’, created a wave of curiosity. “While some companies have moved toward the trend of creating green indoor spaces that function as proxies for the outdoors, Microsoft has something unique that most companies located within large metropolitan areas don’t have: a 500-acre campus nestled in the woods, with greenspace and wildlife galore,” a company blog said.The outdoor meeting space emphasises Microsoft’s long-ago envisioned connection to the environment while increasing opportunities for workers to collaborate-all while maintaining the reliable connectivity of a traditional office. Twelve feet off the ground, the treehouse features charred-wood walls and a soaring ceiling with a round skylight with cinnamon-coloured shingles and a gingerbread-house feel. There is no AV system or calibrated climate control.An outdoor Wi-Fi network allows employees to range; every bench is weatherproof and contains a hatch that reveals electricity sources. The indoor cafeteria is extended outside, with a barbecue restaurant built into a shipping container. Tactile surfaces help people who are blind or have low vision navigate.The space has rust-proof rocking chairs, an outdoor gas fireplace that brings the warmth of a ski lodge and attracts an after-work crowd and a weatherproof awning that, when the sun shines, stencils the Microsoft logo onto the manicured lawn. Two of the three treehouses, which are accessible to all employees, are open. The third, a sheltered lounge space, will be ready later this year.

  • WhatsApp unveils iPhone-like emoji set in beta version
    WhatsApp unveils iPhone-like emoji set in beta version

    03.10.2017 |Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has released a beta version of a new emoji set for Android OS that appears quite similar to Apple's designs. Apart from Apple, Facebook and Twitter have their own custom emoji set within the app."At a glance these could be confused for Apple's own emojis. Side-by-side the differences are clear for some emojis, but others are very close to what Apple displays," a blog on post on Emojipedia said on Monday. WhatsApp was first to implement the middle finger emoji and briefly added an emoji for the Olympic Rings. The blog said that with this beta release, WhatsApp was ahead of iOS native emoji support. Since this is only a beta version, these emojis might change before public release or not even make a public release. In July, WhatsApp announced that it has a billion users who send messages on it daily. WhatsApp also said that users send 55 billion messages per day, 4.5 billion photos and 1 billion videos, has 1.3 billion monthly active users and 60 languages are supported on the platform. 

  • 61% Americans want govt to curb climate change: Survey
    61% Americans want govt to curb climate change: Survey

    03.10.2017 |Despite the US pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, a new survey has revealed that 61 per cent of Americans think climate change is a problem that the government needs to address. Seventy-two per cent of Americans believe climate change is happening, including 85 per cent of Democrats and 61 per cent of Republicans, revealed the survey from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.Seven in 10 Republicans and nearly all Democrats who believe climate change is happening think the government needs to take action, the findings showed. When asked about key climate policy decisions, the largest shares of Americans said they oppose the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. “These results put the polarised climate debate in sharp relief, but also point to the possibility of a path forward,” said Michael Greenstone, director of EPIC and Professor at the University of Chicago.While many Americans favour policies that would help the country lower emissions, questions on how much they would personally be willing to pay to confront climate change (in the form of a monthly fee on their electric bill) revealed great disparity. While half are unwilling to pay even one dollar, 18 per cent are willing to pay at least $100 per month.“Although half of households said they were unwilling to pay anything for a carbon policy in their monthly electricity bills, on average Americans would pay about $30 per month, as a meaningful share of households report that they are willing to pay a substantial amount,” Greenstone said.What is particularly striking is that it’s projected to cost less than $30 per person to pay for climate damages from the electricity sector. So, while the raw economics appears to be less and less of a problem, the open question is whether it is feasible to devise a robust climate policy that accommodates these very divergent viewpoints,” Greenstone added. Interviews for this survey were conducted between August 17 and 21, 2017, with adults age 18 and over representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Solar activity doubles radiation levels on Mars
    Solar activity doubles radiation levels on Mars

    01.10.2017 |A solar event has sparked a global aurora at the Martian surface and caused the radiation level to double than highest ever recorded, NASA scientists have found.  According to Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) Mission -- a space probe developed by NASA designed to study the Martian atmosphere while orbiting Mars -- a solar event on September 11 triggered the global aurora at Mars more than 25 times brighter than any previously seen by the MAVEN orbiter. The orbiter, which has been studying the Martian atmosphere's interaction with the solar wind since 2014, also recorded radiation levels on the surface more than double any previously measured by the Curiosity rover's Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, since that mission's landing in 2012.  The high readings lasted more than two days, NASA found. "The current solar cycle has been an odd one, with less activity than usual during the peak, and now we have this large event as we're approaching solar minimum," said Sonal Jain of the University of Colorado Boulder, who is a member of MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument team.  This event was big enough to be detected at Earth too, even though Earth was on the opposite side of the Sun from Mars. 

  • Scientists make 4th detection of gravitational waves
    Scientists make 4th detection of gravitational waves

    28.09.2017 |Scientists announced on Wednesday they have detected a fourth gravitational wave signal coming from the merger of two black holes.It's the first time this phenomenon has been measured simultaneously by both the US-based LIGO and Italy-based Virgo detectors.Originally predicted in the early 20th century by Albert Einstein, gravitational waves -- ripples in space and time -- were not detected until 2015, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) identified the first such signal from two merging black holes.LIGO's two detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, later detected two other similar events,The latest observation was made on August 14, 2017. It's the first gravitational wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector."Today, we are delighted to announce the first discovery made in partnership between the Virgo Gravitational-Wave Observatory and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the first time a gravitational-wave detection was observed by these observatories, located thousands of miles apart," said France Cordova, Director of the US National Science Foundation, which funded the LIGO project."This is an exciting milestone in the growing international scientific effort to unlock the extraordinary mysteries of our universe," Cordova added.The detected gravitational waves were emitted during the final moments of the merger of two black holes with masses about 31 and 25 times the mass of the Sun and located about 1.8 billion light-years away, researchers said.The newly produced spinning black hole has about 53 times the mass of our Sun, which means that about three solar masses were converted into gravitational-wave energy during the coalescence, they said.A paper about the event has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.The Virgo collaboration, which joined in the LIGO's observation on August 1, consists of more than 280 physicists and engineers belonging to 20 different European research groups. 

  • Instagram Doubles Monthly Active Advertisers to Over 2 Million
    Instagram Doubles Monthly Active Advertisers to Over 2 Million

    26.09.2017 |Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram on Tuesday announced it has doubled its advertiser base in the past six months to reach over two million monthly active advertisers. "Our business community has grown to two million advertisers, up from one million advertisers back in March. People are spending more time than ever producing and exploring content, especially mobile video", the company said in a statement. The time spent watching video on Instagram is up more than 80 per cent year-over-year (YoY) while the number of videos produced per day has increased by 4X from last year. With the introduction of mobile video formats like Instagram "Stories" and "Live", businesses are finding more opportunities to connect with their audiences. In the last month, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, received directions, called, emailed or direct-messaged to learn about a business. "Instagram has undergone more changes in the last year than during the previous five. We introduced Instagram "Stories" -- a new way for businesses to share everyday moments -- and the use of video exploded", the company wrote in a blog post. Currently, the app has eight million businesses using business profiles and the biggest adoption comes from the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and Britain. Instagram introduced face filters for live video broadcasts through the app last week. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and the photo-sharing platform has seen its user base grow to 700 million monthly active users (MAU) globally.

  • Thousands sign petition to save Uber in London
    Thousands sign petition to save Uber in London

    23.09.2017 |Over four lakh people have signed a petition calling on Londoners to save Uber, a day after the US-based ride-hailing app firm lost its licence to operate on the streets of the UK's capital.In a big blow to Uber, London's transport regulator announced yesterday that it will not renew the taxi company's licence, citing "public safety and security implications".More than 460,000 signatures have been added to Uber's petition on Change.org titled "Save Your Uber in London" as the company prepares to appeal against the decision."If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive millions of Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport. This decision is affecting the real lives of a huge number of honest and hard-working drivers in London," the petition reads."The 3.5 million Londoners who rely on Uber to get a safe, reliable and affordable ride around the best city in the world will be astounded by the decision to ban Uber from the capital," it said.Transport for London (TfL), chaired by London mayor Sadiq Khan, had announced that it will not to renew Uber's Operator Licence when it expires on September 30 as it was not a "fit and proper" operator."TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence. Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications," TfL said in a statement.TfL's concerns include Uber's approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences."I fully support TfL's decision it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security," Khan said.The petition will be delivered to him calling for a reversal of the ban once it hits 500,000 signatures.The company's current licence expires on September 30.Under the UK's Private Hire Vehicles Act of 1998, Uber now has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until that process expires.The California-based company, which was founded eight years ago, has been facing intense criticism in the UK over claims that it unfairly skews competition and that it has not done enough to crack down on incidents of violence involving its drivers.Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi stepped up Uber's response when he appealed on Twitter to Londoners to "work with us" to resolve the issue.Khosrowshahi, who took over recently to revive the company's image after a string of worldwide scandals, tweeted: "Dear London: we r far from perfect but we have 40k licensed drivers and 3.5mm Londoners depending on us. Pls work w/us to make things right".TfL has said Uber can operate until the entire appeals process ends, which could take months.London's traditional black cab drivers have attacked Uber, saying it has undercut safety rules and threatened their livelihoods.Uber has also been criticised by unions and MPs over workers' rights.The company has already been forced to leave several countries, including Denmark and Hungary, and has faced regulatory battles in multiple US states and countries around the world. 

  • Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays Come From Outside Our Galaxy
    Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays Come From Outside Our Galaxy

    23.09.2017 |Researchers have found that some ultra-high energy cosmic rays that occasionally hit Earth come from a distant source outside the Milky Way. Cosmic rays are atomic nuclei that travel through space at speeds close to that of light. Low-energy cosmic rays come from the Sun or from our own galaxy, but the origin of the highest-energy particles has been the subject of debate ever since they were first discovered fifty years ago. Do they come from our Galaxy or from distant extragalactic objects?   The study published in the journal Science demonstrated that those cosmic rays with energies a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider - the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator - come from much further away than from our own galaxy. They were detected from 2004 to 2016 at the largest cosmic ray observatory ever built, the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. "We are now considerably closer to solving the mystery of where and how these extraordinary particles are created -- a question of great interest to astrophysicists," said Karl-Heinz Kampert from University of Wuppertal in Germany. "Our observation provides compelling evidence that the sites of acceleration are outside the Milky Way," Kampert who is spokesperson for the Auger Collaboration, which involves more than 400 scientists from 18 countries, said. Cosmic rays are the nuclei of elements from hydrogen to iron. The highest-energy cosmic rays, those of interest in this study, only strike about once per square kilometre per year -- equivalent to hitting the area of a soccer field about once per century. Such rare particles are detectable because they create showers of secondary particles -- including electrons, photons and muons - as they interact with the nuclei in the atmosphere. These cosmic ray showers spread out, sweeping through the atmosphere at the speed of light in a disc-like structure, like a dinner plate but several kilometres in diameter. At the Auger Observatory, the shower particles are detected through the light they produce in several of 1,600 detectors, spread over 3,000 square kilometres of western Argentina and each containing 12 tons of water. Tracking these arrivals tells scientists the direction from which the cosmic rays came. After racking up detections of more than 30,000 cosmic particles, the scientists found one section of the sky was producing significantly more than its share. The probability of this happening by a random fluctuation is extremely small, the scientists said -- a chance of about two in ten million. "This result unequivocally establishes that ultra-high energy cosmic rays are not just random wanderers of our nearby universe," Paolo Privitera of University of Chicago who heads the US groups participating in the project, said.  

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