Category Archives: History

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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South Korean President Vows To Prevent War At All Costs 

By: Peter Pae of Bloomberg 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that any military action against Kim Jong Un’s regime requires his nation’s approval, and vowed to prevent war at all costs.

“There will be no war repeated on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in a speech on Tuesday marking the anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation in the 1940s. Military action against North Korea should be decided by “ourselves and not by anyone else,” he said.

While Moon said that South Korea would work with the U.S. to counter security threats, he emphasized the need to focus on diplomatic efforts. Sanctions were designed to bring North Korea to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile weapons programs, he said.

The comments from a key U.S. ally contrast with the threats of war coming from President Donald Trump, who vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if Kim persists with advancements in his arsenal, particularly intercontinental ballistic missiles. Trump’s rhetoric has raised concerns that a miscalculation — or unilateral action by the U.S. — could spark a military conflict that risks devastating North Korea’s neighbors.

The diminishing prospects of war have helped equities to rally. Stock indexes from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Sydney climbed on Tuesday after the S&P 500 Index surged 1 percent, while havens such as gold, Treasuries and the yen retreated.

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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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U.S Skinny Repeal Bill Denied 

By: Compliments of BBC 

At least three Republicans – John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – voted against the bill, which needed a simple majority to pass.

President Donald Trump said the three had “let the American people down”.

The so-called “skinny” repeal, which would have scaled back some of the more controversial provisions, is the third failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.

It would have resulted in 16 million people losing their health insurance by 2026, with insurance premiums increasing by 20%, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

What happened in the Senate?

The vote was delayed after Senate Republicans kept a procedural vote open before the actual Obamacare vote while they attempted to persuade their members to vote for the repeal.

Vice President Mike Pence was seen talking to Mr McCain for more than 20 minutes. But Mr McCain then approached a group of Democrats, who appeared happy to see him.

The bill was eventually voted down by 51 votes to 49 in the Republican-dominated Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, described the result as a “disappointing moment”.

Democrat Chuck Schumer said his party was relieved that millions of people would retain their healthcare.

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Solar Powered Coaches On Indian Train To Significantly Reduce Carbon Footprint 

By: Devjyot Ghoshal of Quartz

India’s massive diesel-guzzling railway network is getting serious about its experiments with solar.

On July 14, Indian Railways rolled out its first train with rooftop solar panels that power the lights, fans, and information display systems inside passenger coaches. Although the train will still be pulled by a diesel-powered locomotive, a set of 16 solar panels atop each coach will replace the diesel generators that typically power these appliances. The railways estimate that a train with six solar-powered coaches could save around 21,000 litres of diesel every year, worth around Rs12 lakh.

In 2014, Indian Railways consumed 2.6 billion litres of diesel, accounting for around 70% to the network’s total fuel bill of Rs28,592 crore.

The first of these trains will be pressed into service on the suburban railway network of New Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, before two dozen more coaches are fitted with similar rooftop solar systems. Retrofitting each coach with these system, including an inverter to optimise power generation and battery for storing surplus power, costs around Rs9 lakh.

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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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Space X Latest Re-Used Space Craft Lands Back On Earth 

By: Darrell Etherington of Tech Crunch 

SpaceX has another historic achievement under its belt — being first to re-fly a commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station and back. The Dragon capsule it used on its most recent ISS resupply mission was used during a previous trip to ferry supplies and materials for scientific experiments to the orbital facility.

This Dragon capsule originally launched in September 2014, before being refurbished and used again on June 3. After docking with the ISS around 36 hours after launch, the spacecraft spent about a month at the station, where astronauts unloaded its payload.

Early Monday AM EDT, the Dragon capsule decoupled from the ISS and made three departure burns to begin its de-orbit. Then a few hours later, it completed its de-orbit burn, re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and deployed its chutes, splashing down as planned in the Pacific Ocean at around 8:14 AM EDT.

The good splashdown is another big win for SpaceX’s vision of reusable spacecraft, which will help decrease the costs of commercial space operations dramatically.

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Boaty McBoatface Strikes Again!

By: Telegraph Video and Press Association 

yellow submarine dubbed Boaty McBoatface has obtained “unprecedented data” from its first voyage exploring one of the deepest and coldest ocean regions on Earth, say scientists.

The robotic submersible was given the name originally chosen last year for a new polar research ship by irreverent contestants in a public competition.

Embarrassed officials decided to ignore the popular vote and instead named the vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough in honour of the veteran broadcaster.

A storm of protest on Twitter led to a compromise that allowed the Boaty McBoatface name to live on.

Boaty dived to depths of up to 4,000 metres to obtain information about temperature, water flow speed and turbulence from Orkney Passage, a region of the Southern Ocean some 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

The data will help scientists to understand the complex way mixing ocean waters affect climate change.

Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato, from the University of Southampton, said: “The Orkney Passage is a key chokepoint to the flow of abyssal waters in which we expect the mechanism linking changing winds to abyssal water warming to operate.

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Stephen Hawkings: Space Colonization Will Unite and Elevate Humanity 

By: Pallab Gosh 

They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years’ time and send people to Mars by 2025.

Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.

He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway.

“Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity,” he said.

“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all.

“A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology”.

He addressed the concerns of those arguing that it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet along with a pointed criticism of US President Donald Trump.

“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen,” he said.

Prof Hawking explained that human space travel is essential for the future of humanity precisely because the Earth was under threat from climate change as well as diminishing natural resources.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth,” the Cambridge University theoretical physicist explained.

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