Category Archives: Entertainment

Once In A Liferime Solar Eclipse 

By: Ashley Strickland of CNN 

The first glimpses of the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast in 99 years began in Oregon, with totality just after 1 p.m. ET. What started as a tiny crescent of the moon’s shadow turned into a perfectly beautiful eclipse in city after city. It ended in South Carolina about 3 p.m. ET.

A partial solar eclipse was visible until just after 4 p.m. in the Southeast. The next solar eclipse over the United States will occur in April 2024.

During totality in many cities, it looked like nighttime, with stars appearing in the sky and the temperature dropping. Crickets could be heard chirping in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Little crescents were visible on the ground and reflecting off car windshields and skyscraper windows. Particularly popular on social media were crescents showing up in the shade of trees. The spaces between the leaves acted as pinholes. The light that came through the many pinholes showed up as individual crescents.

The view from 35,000 feet — for those with the appropriate glasses — was stunning.

NASA was all about the eclipse and having a bit of fun with it, tweeting a joke about the moon blocking the sun — on social media.

“HA HA HA I’ve blocked the Sun! Make way for the Moon,” said the official NASA Moon account, which blocked the NASA Sun’s account.

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A 1%er For The People

Compliments of Change.org, Nick Hanauer petition 

My name is Nick Hanauer and I’m filthy rich. I’m not a 1%’er. I’m a 0.001%’er. If you read the business section of the paper, you’ve probably seen my name: I was one of the first investors in Amazon.com. I’ve sold other companies for billions of dollars, and now my friends and I own a bank. I’m a proud and unapologetic capitalist.
So you might be surprised to learn that I’m starting a petition to say that it would be criminally stupid for Congress to give rich guys like me another tax cut. 
In fact, I believe that not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations. Everyone knows that the biggest lie in economics is that tax cuts for the rich create growth and jobs. When Republicans talk about tax reform, they’re really talking about trickle down nonsense. The truth is, taxes on the rich don’t need to be “reformed”—they need to be raised, because it’s investments in the middle class that make our economy grow.  
Our democracy and our economy are being ripped apart by growing inequality. Tax cuts for the rich masquerading as reform will only make it worse. I need you to help me fight for a tax code that puts working families back at the center of the economy. Another round of tax breaks for people like me will undermine our commitment to what really makes our country stronger—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, investments in infrastructure and R&D, and more—and make it impossible for the middle class to fulfill their function as the true job creators. 
Join me and pledge to oppose any effort to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected. Not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations.

Link To Petition 

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Bees May Just Not Be Going Extinct 

By: Alan Bjerga of Bloomberg 

The number of U.S. honeybees, a critical component to agricultural production, rose in 2017 from a year earlier, and deaths of the insects attributed to a mysterious malady that’s affected hives in North America and Europe declined, according a U.S. Department of Agriculture honeybee health survey released Tuesday. 

The number of commercial U.S. honeybee colonies rose 3 percent to 2.89 million as of April 1, 2017 compared with a year earlier, the Agriculture Department reported. The number of hives lost to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon of disappearing bees that has raised concerns among farmers and scientists for a decade, was 84,430 in this year’s first quarter, down 27 percent from a year earlier. Year-over-year losses declined by the same percentage in April through June, the most recent data in the survey.

Still, more than two-fifths of beekeepers said mites were harming their hives, and with pesticides and other factors still stressing bees, the overall increase is largely the result of constant replenishment of losses, the study showed.

“You create new hives by breaking up your stronger hives, which just makes them weaker,” said Tim May, a beekeeper in Harvard, Illinois and the vice-president of the American Beekeeping Federation based in Atlanta. “We check for mites, we keep our bees well-fed, we communicate with farmers so they don’t spray pesticides when our hives are vulnerable. I don’t know what else we can do.”

Environmental groups have expressed alarm over the 90 percent decline during the past two decades in the population of pollinators, from wild bees to Monarch butterflies. Some point to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids as a possible cause, a link rejected by Bayer AG and other manufacturers.

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Do You Talk To Yourself ? You Are Less Crazy Than You Think

By: The University Paper of Unipaper

Silently talking to yourself in the third person during times of stress could help to control your emotions without any additional mental effort compared to first-person self-talk, a study has found.

In their study Third-person self-talk facilitates emotion regulation without engaging cognitive control: Converging evidence from ERP and fMRI., researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan performed experiments on participants while monitoring their brain activity with an electroecephalograph.

Jason Moser, MSU associate professor of psychology, said: ‘Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain.

‘That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.’

In one of the experiments, participants were shown neutral and disturbing images and reacted to them in the first person, and the third person, while their brain activity was monitored with an EEG. When they were shown disturbing photos, like a man holding a gun to his head, the team found that participants’ emotional brain activity decreased within one second when they referred to themselves in the third person.

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British Chief Strategist Resigns 

By: Tim Ross of Bloomberg 

Theresa May’s director of strategy has become the latest member of her senior team to quit, leaving the premier without the authors of her Brexit vision at a critical time in negotiations with the European Union. 

Chris Wilkins will leave his post inside May’s office in 10 Downing Street at the end of this week, he said by telephone on Wednesday. Since the election, May’s been hit by a string of resignations in policy, strategy and communications. As well as leaving the prime minister short of advisers that she knows and trusts at a vital moment, the departures suggest that staff see little future in the job.

“It’s not quite rats deserting a sinking ship, but it does indicate that people feel things can’t go on as they have been going,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London. “There needs to be some kind of reinvigoration, but this does indicate that some people feel that can’t be done.”

The departure means that May has lost both her top strategists in the wake of last month’s general election. Nick Timothy, her co-chief of staff, quit the day after May’s Conservatives were stripped of their parliamentary majority in the poll. He and Wilkins wrote the Brexit speech in January in which she set out her plan to take the U.K. out of the single market and customs union.

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9/11 Survivors Push Harder To Force Theresa May’s Hand In Releasing Supressed Saudi Arabia Terrorism Report 

By: Andrew Buncombe, Ashley Cowburn of The Independent 

Britain’s Labour Party has thrown its weight behind demands from US 9/11 survivors for Prime Minister Theresa May to release a suppressed report into the extent of Saudi Arabia’s financing of Islamic extremism within the UK.

The report was commissioned by David Cameron as part of a political deal to obtain political support for a parliamentary vote on UK airstrikes on Syria.

After Ms May’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said last week the report would not be released “for national security reasons”, a group of survivors and relatives of those who died in the attacks on New York and Washington, wrote to Ms May urging her to change her mind and release the report.

“The UK now has the unique historic opportunity to stop the killing spree of Wahhabism-inspired terrorists by releasing the UK government’s report on terrorism financing in the UK which, according to media reports, places Saudi Arabia at its centre of culpability,” says the letter, signed by 15 people.

“The longer Saudi Arabia’s complicity is hidden from sunlight, the longer terrorism will continue. They must be stopped; but who will stop them? We submit that you are uniquely situated to shine the cleansing light of public consciousness.”

Sharon Premoli, one of the authors of the letter, was on the 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre when the first Al-Qaeda plane struck, also sent the letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott. 
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Chile Extends National Parks By Over 10 Million Acres

By: Trevor Nace of Forbes

Chile set aside 11 million acres of land for national parks aided by the largest private land donation from a private entity to a country. The conservation effort of the Tompkins Foundation helped pave the way for Chile to greatly expand its conservation of the pristine Patagonia wilderness.

The Tompkins foundation was established by Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the previous CEO of Patagonia, and the late Doug Tompkins, the co-founder of North Face and Esprit. The couple, known for purchasing large chunks of land in Patagonia for conservation, have always had the ambition to protect and conserve the Patagonian wilderness for generations to come.

However, their efforts weren’t always well received by the Chilean government and citizens. The Tompkins were accused of attempting to split Chile in two to form a new state or as CIA spies intending to infiltrate the Chilean government. It took decades to build the trust of Chile that their intentions were well founded and this move to donate 1 million acres of land to the Chilean government solidifies their relationship with Chile. Tragically, Doug Tompkins wasn’t able to witness the culmination of decades of his work as he passed away in 2015 due to severe hypothermia during a kayaking accident.

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Teleportation?

By: Emerging Technology from the arXiv

Last year, a Long March 2D rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert carrying a satellite called Micius, named after an ancient Chinese philosopher who died in 391 B.C. The rocket placed Micius in a Sun-synchronous orbit so that it passes over the same point on Earth at the same time each day.

Micius is a highly sensitive photon receiver that can detect the quantum states of single photons fired from the ground. That’s important because it should allow scientists to test the technological building blocks for various quantum feats such as entanglement, cryptography, and teleportation.

Today, the Micius team announced the results of its first experiments. The team created the first satellite-to-ground quantum network, in the process smashing the record for the longest distance over which entanglement has been measured. And they’ve used this quantum network to teleport the first object from the ground to orbit.

Teleportation has become a standard operation in quantum optics labs around the world. The technique relies on the strange phenomenon of entanglement. This occurs when two quantum objects, such as photons, form at the same instant and point in space and so share the same existence. In technical terms, they are described by the same wave function.

The curious thing about entanglement is that this shared existence continues even when the photons are separated by vast distances. So a measurement on one immediately influences the state of the other, regardless of the distance between them.

Back in the 1990s, scientists realized they could use this link to transmit quantum information from one point in the universe to another. The idea is to “download” all the information associated with one photon in one place and transmit it over an entangled link to another photon in another place.
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France To Ban The Sale Of Fossil Fuels By 2022

By: Megan Geuss of Ars Technica

In an address on Thursday, France’s environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, said that the country would aim to phase out electricity from coal-fired plants by 2022 and end the sale of gas and diesel internal combustion cars by 2040.

This first goal should be relatively easy to attain. France relies heavily on nuclear energy—more than 70 percent of the country’s energy mix is nuclear—and coal-fired plants only contribute to around four percent of France’s electric production. Hulot also said that he hoped to reduce the amount of nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix down to 50 percent by 2025, although, according to Le Monde, the environment minister admitted he does “not have all the answers.”

In addition, Hulot noted a law would be proposed later this year to potentially end any new operating licenses for oil, gas, and coal mining.

The automotive goal is more of a stretch. Although details on how the French government would do this are scarce, Le Monde reports that part of the plan will involve offering money to qualifying households to replace their pre-1997 gasoline or pre-2001 diesel cars.

Hulot called the end of the sale of gas and diesel cars “a public health agenda” and mentioned Volvo’s recent commitment to only sell electric or hybrid vehicles by 2019. Engadget notes that the French government owns a considerable stake in PSA, owner of Peugeot and Citroen, as well as Renault. Regulators could potentially affect auto manufacturer operations through internal pressure. Hulot didn’t say whether plug-in hybrid electric vehicles would be factored into the ban or not. The minister admitted that achieving the goal would likely burden automakers.

Recent numbers from Germany reflect how daunting moving a country’s transportation sector away from fossil fuels can be. And an International Energy Agency report from June noted that, without government incentives, getting people to buy electric vehicles is especially challenging.

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Musk’s Tweet Puts A Spin On Over Polulation 

By: David Gernon of CNBC

Elon Musk usually tweets about mundane topics, from LA traffic to Tesla projects. On Thursday he was more dire.

“The world’s population is accelerating towards collapse, but few seem to notice or care,” Tesla’s CEO tweeted to his nearly 10 million followers. He pointed to a November article in New Scientist magazine titled, “The world in 2076: The population bomb has imploded.”

The piece, written by Fred Pearce points to Japan as a case study for what could go wrong in the relatively near future.

Rather than a meltdown where the Earth’s population outstrips the planet’s ability to feed everyone, we could be headed toward a more subtle but equally disastrous outcome where our population simply does not replace itself fast enough.

“The world has hit peak child,” the late Hans Rosling, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said in the article.

Indeed, Japan’s fertility rate is 1.4 children per woman, well below what is required to sustain population growth.

While Japan is perhaps the most well-known example of a country’s population aging, the article in the London-based magazine also points to Germany and Italy, both of which “could see their populations halve within the next 60 years.”

The article spells out some of the problems an older population might bring, including less innovation, cultural shifts and worse and more recession-prone economies.

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