One-Year Astronaut Scott Kelly Retires from NASA (Video)

Space.com - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:20am
Scott Kelly, who just wrapped up an unprecedented yearlong mission aboard the International Space Station and has spent more total time in space than any other American, has officially stepped down from NASA.
Categories: Science

Writing Sci-Fi Could Make Architects Better at Their Jobs

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:00am
Architects aren't usually in the business of writing science fiction—but maybe they should be. The post Writing Sci-Fi Could Make Architects Better at Their Jobs appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

The Invisible Security of Canada’s Seemingly Chill Border

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:00am
The 5,500-mile border between the US and Canada might look like an idyllic wonderland. But Big Brother's always watching. The post The Invisible Security of Canada's Seemingly Chill Border appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

What’s Inside Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Probably Something Spicy

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:00am
Creating a tongue-scorching taste sensation like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is an art. The post What's Inside Flamin' Hot Cheetos? Probably Something Spicy appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Google’s Alphabet Transition Has Been Tougher Than A-B-C

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:00am
Six months ago, Google's grand experiment in corporate restructuring became official. But making big bets pay isn't always easy. The post Google's Alphabet Transition Has Been Tougher Than A-B-C appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

He Drew the Sun for 40 Years, But Now His Telescope Is Dying

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:00am
A lone researcher at Mount Wilson Observatory has drawn a picture of the sun every day for 40 years. The post He Drew the Sun for 40 Years, But Now His Telescope Is Dying appeared first on WIRED.









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March Madness: Apollo 11 Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Pulling Hard for Villanova

Space.com - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 11:00am
Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin will win his NCAA basketball tournament bracket challenge against ESPN's Dick Vitale if Villanova beats Oklahoma in the Final Four this weekend.
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Review: Breville PolyScience Control Freak

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 9:55am
This is a badass (and expensive!) induction burner that will change the way you approach hot food preparation. Seriously, it's excellent. The post Review: Breville PolyScience Control Freak appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

15 Products That Defined Apple’s First 40 Years

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 9:55am
WIRED celebrates Apple's 40th birthday with a look back at the 15 products that define its legacy in our culture. The post 15 Products That Defined Apple's First 40 Years appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Opportunity Rover on Mars Takes on Its Steepest Slope Yet

Space.com - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 9:26am
On March 10, Opportunity — which has been exploring the Red Planet since January 2004 — drove on a 32-degree slope, the steepest ever tackled on Mars. But the rover didn't end up reaching its goal.
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Tesla Receives 115,000 Model 3 Preorders Worth $115 Million In 24 Hours

Slashdot - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 9:00am
An anonymous reader writes: Over 115,000 reservations at $1,000 each were placed for the Model 3 in the first 24 hours. This gives Tesla a little extra operating cash. If each tech-savvy enthusiast who preordered the Model 3 in the first 24 hours follows through with their $35,000 purchase, Tesla would make $4 billion in sales. Right now, they're sitting pretty with $115 million from the down payment required for preordering. It looks like Tesla may have a big hit on their hands.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How to use laser cloaking to hide Earth from remote detection by aliens

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 8:58am

A 22W laser used for adaptive optics on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. A suite of similar lasers could be used to cloak our planet’s transit around the Sun. (credit: ESO/G. Hüdepohl)

We could use lasers to conceal the Earth from observation by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization by shining massive  laser beams aimed at a specific star where aliens might be located — thus masking our planet during its transit of the Sun, suggest two astronomers at Columbia University in an open-access paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The idea comes from the NASA Kepler mission’s search method for exoplanets (planets around other stars), which looks for transits (a planet crossing in front a star) — identified by a tiny decrease in the star’s brightness.*

To detect exoplanets, NASA’s Kepler measures the light from a star. When a planet crosses in front of a star, the event is called a transit. The planet is usually too small to see, but it can produce a small change in a star’s brightness of about 1/10,000 (100 parts per million), lasting for 2 to 16 hours. (credit: NASA Ames)

Kepler has confirmed the existence of more than 1,000 planets using this technique, with tens of these worlds similar in size to the Earth. Kipping and Teachey speculate that alien scientists could use this approach to locate Earth, since it’s in the “habitable zone” of our Sun (a distance where the temperature is right for liquid water, so it may be a promising place for life), and may be of interest to aliens.*

How to cloak our Earth from aliens

Columbia Professor David Kipping and graduate student Alex Teachey suggest that transits could be masked by controlled laser emission, with the beam directed at the star where the suspected aliens might be located. When the planet’s transit takes place, the laser would be switched on to compensate for the dip in light.**

Illustration (not to scale) of the transit cloaking device. To cloak the Earth, a laser beam (orange) is fired from the night side of the Earth (blue circle) toward a target star (“receiver”) during the transit. (credit: David M. Kipping and Alex Teachey/MNRAS)

According to the authors, emitting a continuous 30 MW laser for about 10 hours, once a year, would be enough to eliminate the transit signal, at least in the visible-light range. The energy needed is comparable to that collected by the International Space Station solar array in a year. A chromatic (multi-wavelength) cloak, effective at all solar wavelengths, is more challenging, and would need a large array of tuneable lasers with a total power of 250 MW.***

“Alternatively, we could cloak only the atmospheric signatures associated with biological activity, such as oxygen, which is achievable with a peak laser power of just 160 kW per transit. To another civilization, this should make the Earth appear as if life never took hold on our world”, said Teachey.


Cool Worlds Lab/Columbia University | A Cloaking Device for Planets

Broadcasting our existence: the METI (message SETI) approach

The lasers could also be used to broadcast our existence by modifying the light from the Sun during a transit to make it obviously artificial, such as modifying the normal “U” transit light curve (the intensity vs. time pattern during transit). The authors suggest that we could even transmit information by modulating the laser beams at the same time, providing a way to send messages to aliens.

However, several prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have cautioned against humanity broadcasting our presence to intelligent life on other planets. Hawking and others are concerned that extraterrestrials might wish to take advantage of the Earth’s resources, and that their visit, rather than being benign, could be as devastating as when Europeans first traveled to the Americas. (See Are you ready for contact with extraterrestrial intelligence? and METI: should we be shouting at the cosmos?)

Perhaps aliens have had the same thought. The two astronomers propose that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which currently looks mailing for alien radio signals, could be broadened to search for artificial star transits. Such signatures could also be readily searched in the NASA archival data of Kepler transit surveys.

* Once detected, the planet’s orbital size can be calculated from the period (how long it takes the planet to orbit once around the star) and the mass of the star using Kepler’s Third Law of planetary motion. The size of the planet is found from the depth of the transit (how much the brightness of the star drops) and the size of the star. From the orbital size and the temperature of the star, the planet’s characteristic temperature can be calculated. From this, the question of whether or not the planet is habitable (not necessarily inhabited) can be answered. — Kepler and K2, NASA Mission Overview

** It’s not clear what indicators might lead to such a suspicion, aside from a confirmed SETI transmission detection. It would be interesting to calculate the required number and locations of lasers, their operational schedule, and their power requirements for a worst-case scenario — assuming potential threats from certain types of stars, or all stars — considering laser beam divergence angle, beam flux gradients, and maximum star distance within about one degree of a planet’s ecliptic plane can see it transit in the ecliptic plane, based on assumed maximum alien telescope resolving power.

[UPDATE 1/3/2016: Kipping correction: "within about one degree" and added "based on assumed maximum alien telescope resolving power"]

[UPDATE 1/3/2016: from Kipping regarding beam divergence angle, flux gradients, and primary focus of the paper]: “Beam shaping, through the use of multiple beams, can produce effectively isotropic radiation within the beam width. Unless the target is very close, the beam width typically encompasses the entire alien solar system by the time it reaches, due to beam divergence. So we don’t even really need to know the position of the target planet that well (although we likely do anyway thanks to our detection methods). A common misunderstanding of our paper is to erroneously assume that we are advocating that humanity should build this for the Earth, but actually we are pointing out that if even our current technology can pull off a pretty effective cloak then other more advanced civilizations may be able to hide from us perfectly.”]

*** For example, a chromatic cloak for the NIRSpec instrument planned for James Webb Space Telescope covering from 0.6 to 5 µm would require approximately 6000 monochromatic lasers in the array.

Abstract of A Cloaking Device for Transiting Planets

The transit method is presently the most successful planet discovery and characterization tool at our disposal. Other advanced civilizations would surely be aware of this technique and appreciate that their home planet’s existence and habitability is essentially broadcast to all stars lying along their ecliptic plane. We suggest that advanced civilizations could cloak their presence, or deliberately broadcast it, through controlled laser emission. Such emission could distort the apparent shape of their transit light curves with relatively little energy, due to the collimated beam and relatively infrequent nature of transits. We estimate that humanity could cloak the Earth from Kepler-like broadband surveys using an optical monochromatic laser array emitting a peak power of ∼30 MW for ∼10 hours per year. A chromatic cloak, effective at all wavelengths, is more challenging requiring a large array of tunable lasers with a total power of ∼250 MW. Alternatively, a civilization could cloak only the atmospheric signatures associated with biological activity on their world, such as oxygen, which is achievable with a peak laser power of just ∼160 kW per transit. Finally, we suggest that the time of transit for optical SETI is analogous to the water-hole in radio SETI, providing a clear window in which observers may expect to communicate. Accordingly, we propose that a civilization may deliberately broadcast their technological capabilities by distorting their transit to an artificial shape, which serves as both a SETI beacon and a medium for data transmission. Such signatures could be readily searched in the archival data of transit surveys.

Categories: Science

Quantum Break Blends an OK Game With an Intriguing TV Show

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 7:01am
"Quantum Break," a new Xbox One and Windows game to be released April 5, may end up best known for helping to put live video back into videogames. The post Quantum Break Blends an OK Game With an Intriguing TV Show appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Tribble Cam, and Other April Fools' Day Space Pranks

Space.com - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 6:20am
It's April Fools' Day and the internet is having a wonderful time celebrating. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is breeding tribbles, astronaut Tim Peake saw a UFO, and a moon-landing hoax insider decided to speak out.
Categories: Science

Best Night Sky Events of April 2016 (Stargazing Maps)

Space.com - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 5:30am
See what's up in the night sky for April 2016, including stargazing events and the moon's phases, in this Space.com gallery courtesy of Starry Night Software.
Categories: Science

Elon Musk Announces $35,000 Tesla Model 3 Electric Car

Slashdot - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 4:49am
Elon Musk has officially unveiled the Tesla Model 3 electric car at the company's facility in Hawthorne, California. The Model 3 is being dubbed as a "mass market affordable car." The base-model Model 3 will be able to travel 0-60MPH in less than 6 seconds, with "versions of the Model 3 that go much faster." In terms of range, it features an EPA range of at least 215 miles per charge. All Model 3's will come standard with autopilot hardware and autopilot safety features. The Model 3 will also fit five adults comfortably, thanks largely in part to the large, rear piece of glass on the roof area. You'll find front and rear trunks, offering more cargo capacity than any cargo gas car with the same external dimensions. Safety is a big concern for Tesla so they've manufactured the Model 3 with a 5 star safety rating in every category. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 with a release date scheduled for 2017. Tesla will take your preorder now for a $1,000 down payment.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Meet Tesla’s Model 3, Its Long-Awaited Car for the Masses

Wired News - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 3:57am
The Model 3—the most important car in the brief, volatile history of Tesla Motors—has arrived. The post Meet Tesla's Model 3, Its Long-Awaited Car for the Masses appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

More People On Earth Now Obese Than Underweight, Says Study

Slashdot - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 3:03am
An anonymous reader writes: According to a new study published in the Lancet, obese people now outnumber the underweight population for perhaps the first time in global history. Majid Ezzati, an environmental health researcher at Imperial College London who led the study, analyzed data from 1975 to 2014 across 19.2 million adults from 186 countries. They found that over the 40-year-span, the proportion of obese men worldwide more than tripled, to roughly 11 percent, and the proportion of obese woman more than doubled, to about 15 percent. Researchers estimate 18 percent of men and 21 percent of women worldwide will be obese by 2025. What some may consider more surprising is that more than 25 percent of the world's severely obese men and almost 20 percent of the world's severely obese women are American. However, the rapid rise of obesity in developing nations is most concerning as it's more difficult for obese people to modify their diet and have access to medication.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

PHP, Python and Google Go Fail To Detect Revoked TLS Certificates

Slashdot - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 1:59am
An anonymous reader writes: Four years after the release of a groundbreaking study on the state of SSL/TLS certificates in non-browser applications (APIs [to be exact]), some programming languages fail to provide developers with the appropriate tools to validate certificates. Using three simple test scripts connected to a list of known vulnerable HTTPS servers, researchers logged their results to see which programming languages detected any problems. According to the results, all tested programming languages (PHP, Python, Go), in various configurations, failed to detect HTTPS connections that used revoked SSL/TLS certificates. This is a problem for HTTPS-protected APIs since users aren't visually warned, like in browsers, that they're on an insecure connection. "PHP, Python, and Google Go perform no revocation checks by default, neither does the cURL library. If the certificate was compromised and revoked by the owner, you will never know about it," noted Sucuri's Peter Kankowski.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Microsoft Denies Edge Is Getting A Native Ad Blocker

Slashdot - Fri, 01/04/2016 - 1:14am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: On top of the slew of news coming out of Microsoft's Build 2016 developer conference, a story broke yesterday that Microsoft was building an ad blocker into its Microsoft Edge browser. While this would be a big deal, it apparently isn't true. "We have no plans to build a native ad blocker into Microsoft Edge," a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. Microsoft was originally referencing the extension support it is building into Edge, which would allow ad blocking to work exactly like any other desktop browser. For those hoping for an Edge browser with built-in ad blocking, well, you're stuck with 'niche browsers' like Brave from Mozilla cofounder Brendan Eich and Adblock Browser.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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