News

Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away! 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Growing income inequality was one of the top four issues at the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ranking alongside European adoption of quantitative easing and geopolitical concerns. Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion, said there was a consensus that global inequality is getting worse, fueling overriding pessimism at the gathering. The result, he said, could be that the next big revolution will be in regulation rather than innovation. With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people's mind, the world's super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. "I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway," he said. Looking at studies like NASA's HANDY and by KPMG, the UK Government Office of Science, and others, Dr Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, warns that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a "perfect storm" within about fifteen years.
Space

"Once In a Lifetime" Asteroid Sighting Monday Night 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-the-show dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tonight, Asteroid 2004 BL86 will make a pass by the Earth at just 745,000 miles away. This should offer stargazers a great opportunity to see the half-kilometer space rock. CNN has some tips on the best method and time to look. From the article: "The best chance for viewing will be from 8 p.m. ET Monday to 1 a.m. ET Tuesday. Asteroid 2004 BL86 is large, and it will brighten, but nonetheless will not be observable with the naked eye. Some astronomy websites say a pair of binoculars could do the trick, but Sky & Telescope recommends at least a 3- or 4-inch diameter telescope. 'One good technique for fast-movers like 2004 BL86 is to identify and lock onto a star along its path,' Sky & Telescope senior editor Kelly Beatty says. 'Then just watch at the time that the asteroid is predicted to pass by that particular star.'"
Earth

Fish Found Living Half a Mile Under Antarctic Ice 77

Posted by timothy
from the we're-going-to-need-a-lot-more-line dept.
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes "Researchers were startled to find fish, crustaceans and jellyfish investigating a submersible camera after drilling through nearly 2,500 feet (740 meters) of Antarctic ice. The swimmers are in one of the world's most extreme ecosystems, hidden beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, roughly 530 miles (850 kilometers) from the open ocean. "This is the closest we can get to something like Europa," said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a chief scientist on the drilling project. More pictures here."
Mars

NASA Considers Autonomous Martian Helicopter To Augment Future Rovers 83

Posted by timothy
from the imperial-probe-droid dept.
SternisheFan (2529412) writes with this story at the Verge about an approach being considered by NASA to overcome some of the difficulties in moving a wheeled or multi-legged ground vehicle around the surface of Mars, which has proven to be a difficult task. Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could 'triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day,' according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route.
Earth

Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57 214

Posted by timothy
from the but-who's-counting dept.
An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.
PC Games (Games)

Sid Meier's New Game Is About Starships 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the klingons-off-the-starboard-bow dept.
jones_supa writes: The next game from the mind of veteran strategy and simulation game designer Sid Meier has been revealed. 2K and Firaxis Games have announced Sid Meier's Starships, a turn-based interstellar strategy game scheduled to arrive in early 2015 for Windows, OS X, and iOS (iPad). In the game, you control a fleet of starships as you journey through the galaxy to complete missions, protect planets and their inhabitants, and build a planetary federation. As you trek through the stars, you will be challenged to expand your federation's influence and reach. You shall also amass futuristic technology and take part in combat using a deep roster of customizable ships. When designing Starships, Meier was intrigued by the idea of exploring the next chapter in the story of Civilization: Beyond Earth. "What happens after we colonize our new home and eventually build starships to take to the stars? What has become of our long-lost brothers and sisters from the planet Earth," Meier asks. "My goal was to create an experience that focuses on starship design and combat within a universe filled with interstellar adventure, diplomacy, and exploration."
Biotech

Drug Company CEO Blames Drug Industry For Increased Drug Resistance 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
BarbaraHudson writes Times Live is reporting that while doctors have usually been blamed for bacterial resistance because of over-prescribing, Karl Rotthier, chief executive of the Dutch DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, claims lax procedures at drugs companies are the real cause. "Most antibiotics are now produced in China and India and I do not think it is unjust to say that the environmental conditions have been quite different in these regions. Poor controls mean that antibiotics are leaking out and getting into drinking water. They are in the fish and cattle that we eat, and global travel and exports mean bacteria are traveling. That is making a greater contribution to the growth of antibiotic resistance than over-prescribing", Rothier said. "We cannot have companies discharging untreated waste water into our environment, contributing to illness and, worse, antibacterial resistance. We cannot accept that rivers in India show higher concentrations of active antibiotic than the blood of someone undergoing treatment."
Mars

Elon Musk's Proposed Internet-by-Satellite System Could Link With Mars Colonies 105

Posted by timothy
from the in-case-you're-on-mars dept.
MojoKid writes You have to hand it to Elon Musk, who has occasionally been referred to as a real life "Tony Stark." The man helped to co-found PayPal and Tesla Motors. Musk also helms SpaceX, which just recently made its fifth successful trip the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies via the Dragon capsule. The secondary mission of the latest ISS launch resulted in the "successful failure" of the Falcon 9 rocket, which Musk described as a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (RUD) event. In addition to his Hyperloop transit side project, Musk is eyeing a space-based Internet network that would be comprised of hundred of micro satellites orbiting roughly 750 miles above Earth. The so-called "Space Internet" would provide faster data speeds than traditional communications satellites that have a geosynchronous orbit of roughly 22,000 miles. Musk hopes that the service will eventually grow to become "a giant global Internet service provider," reaching over three billion people who are currently either without Internet service or only have access to low-speed connections. And this wouldn't be a Musk venture without reaching for some overly ambitious goal. The satellite network would truly become a "Space Internet" platform, as it would form the basis for a direct communications link between Earth and Mars. It's the coming thing.
Earth

Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects 170

Posted by timothy
from the I'm-also-waiting-to-be-discovered dept.
BarbaraHudson writes NBC News reports that at least two planets larger than Earth likely lurk far beyond Pluto, just waiting to be discovered, a new analysis of the orbits of "extreme trans-Neptunian objects" (ETNOs) suggests. The potential undiscovered worlds would be more massive than Earth and would lie about 200 AU or more from the sun — so far away that they'd be very difficult, if not impossible, to spot with current instruments. "The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system," lead author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, of the Complutense University of Madrid, said. (Here's the longer version at Space.com.)
Earth

The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the either-that-or-the-day-we-invented-hot-pockets dept.
hypnosec writes: Scientists have proposed July 16, 1945 as the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. That was the day of the first nuclear detonation test. They say "the Great Acceleration" — the period when human activities started having a significant impact on Earth – are a good mark of the beginning of the new epoch. Since then, there has been a significant increase in population, environmental upheaval on land and oceans, and global connectivity. The group says in their article (abstract), "The beginning of the nuclear age ... marks the historic turning point when humans first accessed an enormous new energy source – and is also a time level that can be effectively tracked within geological strata, using a variety of geological clues."
AMD

AMD Catalyst Is the Broken Wheel For Linux Gaming 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the didn't-squeek-enough-to-get-the-grease dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Tests of the AMD Catalyst driver with the latest AAA Linux games/engines have shown what poor shape the proprietary Radeon driver currently is in for Linux gamers. Phoronix, which traditionally benchmarks with open-source OpenGL games and other long-standing tests, recently has taken specially interest in adapting some newer Steam-based titles for automated benchmarking. With last month's Linux release of Metro Last Light Redux and Metro 2033 Redux, NVIDIA's driver did great while AMD Catalyst was miserable. Catalyst 14.12 delivered extremely low performance and some major bottleneck with the Radeon R9 290 and other GPUs running slower than NVIDIA's midrange hardware. In Unreal Engine 4 Linux tests, the NVIDIA driver again was flawless but the same couldn't be said for AMD. Catalyst 14.12 wouldn't even run the Unreal Engine 4 demos on Linux with their latest generation hardware but only with the HD 6000 series. Tests last month also showed AMD's performance to be crippling for NVIDIA vs. AMD Civilization: Beyond Earth Linux benchmarks with the newest drivers.
Space

Virgin Galactic To Launch 2,400 Comm. Satellites To Offer Ubiquitous Broadband 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the space-web dept.
coondoggie writes Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson this week said he wants to launch as many as 2,400 small satellites in an effort to set up a constellation capable of bringing broadband communications through a company called OneWeb to millions of people who do not have it. He said he plans to initially launch a low-earth-orbit satellite constellation of 648 satellites to get the project rolling.
Space

Exoplanet Hunting NGTS Telescope Array Achieves First Light 19

Posted by timothy
from the well-lookit dept.
Zothecula writes The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) array, built by a UK, German and Swiss consortium, has achieved first light at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The installation is designed to search for exoplanets between two and eight times the size of Earth, studying them as they pass in front of their parent star.
Science

Carnivorous Pitcher Plant "Out-Thinks" Insects 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-leader dept.
schwit1 writes A carnivorous pitcher plant is changing its behavior in response to natural weather fluctuations, allowing it to give up its prey in order to capture more. The pitcher plant, which has liquid-filled leaves shaped like funnels, has the ability to allow some of its prey, such as ants, to escape by "switching off" its trap." The first ant reports back to the other ants that it found a large batch of sweet nectar, causing a large contingent of ants to descend upon it. If the trap captures the first ant, it won't be able to capture many more ants later.
ISS

The Strange Story of the First Quantum Art Exhibition In Space 69

Posted by timothy
from the emperor's-clothes-are-a-bit-looser-than-usual dept.
KentuckyFC writes When Samantha Cristoforetti blasted towards the International Space Station in November last year, she was carrying an unusual cargo in the form of a tiny telescope just 4 centimetres long and 1 centimetre in diameter attached to an unpowered CCD array from a smartphone camera. The telescope is part of an art project designed by the Dutch artist Diemut Strebe in which he intends to invoke quantum mechanics to generate all of the art ever made. Now MIT physicist Seth Lloyd has stepped forward to provide a scientific rationale for the project. He says the interaction of the CCD with the cosmic background radiation ought to generate energy fluctuations that are equivalent to the array containing all possible images in quantum superposition. Most of these will be entirely random but a tiny fraction will be equivalent to the great works of art. All of them! What's more, people on Earth can interact with these images via a second miniature telescope on Earth that can become correlated with the first. Lloyd says this is possible when correlated light enters both telescopes at the same time. Strebe plans to make his quantum space art exhibition available in several places before attaching the second telescope to the James Webb Space telescope and blasting that off into space too. Whatever your view on the art, it's hard not to admire Strebe's powers of persuasion in co-opting the European Space Agency, NASA and MIT into his project.
China

Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-do-you-say-"that's-no-moon"-in-mandarin dept.
mpicpp sends this report from Scientific American: A Chinese spacecraft service module has entered orbit around the moon, months after being used in the country's landmark test flight that sent a prototype sample-return capsule on a flight around the moon and returned it to Earth. The service module from China's circumlunar test flight arrived in orbit around the moon this week, according to Chinese state media reports. The spacecraft is currently flying in an eight-hour orbit that carries it within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar surface at its closest point, and out to a range of 3,293 miles (5,300 km) at its highest point. Earlier reports noted that a camera system is onboard the service module, designed to assist in identifying future landing spots for the Chang'e 5 mission that will return lunar samples back to Earth in the 2017 time frame. Reader schwit1 adds a detailed report on Russia's next-gen space station module, writing, "The Russians have always understood that a space station is nothing more than a prototype of an interplanetary spaceship. They are therefore simply carrying through with the same engineering research they did on their earlier Salyut and Mir stations, developing a vessel that can keep humans alive on long trips to other planets."
Space

SpaceX Rocket Launch Succeeds, But Landing Test Doesn't 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-luck-next-time dept.
New submitter 0x2A writes: A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo ship toward the International Space Station early Saturday— and then returned to Earth, apparently impacting its target ocean platform during a landing test in the Atlantic.

"Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho," Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the launch. He added that they didn't get good video of the landing attempt, so they'll be piecing it together using telemetry and debris. "Ship itself is fine. Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced."
Power

For the First Time In 3 Years, Investments In Renewable Energy Increased 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the renewed-interest-in-renewables dept.
Lucas123 writes: Driven largely by oil price weakness, 2015 could be the best year to date for investments in renewable energy technology, according to several new reports. According to Bloomberg Energy Finance, new funding for wind, solar, biofuels and other low-carbon energy technologies grew 16% to $310 billion last year. It was the first growth since 2011 (PDF), erasing the impact of lower solar-panel prices and falling subsides in the U.S. and Europe that hurt the industry in previous years. Demand for solar power grew 16% year-over-year in 2014, representing 44 gigawatts of capacity purchased during the year. Worldwide solar demand in 2015 is projected to be 51.4GW, compared with 39GW in 2014. Government policies will continue to improve for renewables — solar, in particular — given that anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese modules by the U.S. last year are expected to be removed this year, Deutsche Bank said.
Space

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission May Not Actually Redirect an Asteroid 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-because-it-is-easy-but-because-it-is-hard dept.
MarkWhittington writes: When President Obama first proposed visiting an asteroid in his 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Center, many assumed that the mission would be a deep space mission to an Earth-approaching asteroid in its "native orbit" in voyage taking weeks. Then, NASA dropped the idea in 2013 favor of the Asteroid Redirect Mission in which a tiny asteroid would be diverted to lunar orbit to be visited by astronauts. Now, according to a Thursday story in Space News, the ARM might take place without redirecting an asteroid.
NASA

NASA Update Will Deal With Opportunity Flash Memory "Amnesia" 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the patch-it-up dept.
BarbaraHudson writes Computerworld has some details on NASA's latest fix to allow the Opportunity Mars Rover to store data while in overnight "sleep mode." Opportunity has been suffering from a glitch that's causing what NASA scientists describe as memory and data loss — or robotic "amnesia" — caused by flash memory deterioration since early December. Currently any information gathered is stored temporarily in RAM and must be sent to Earth so it's not lost when Opportunity powers down.