The University of Virginia's Sandia National Labs has unveiled the preliminary design for a new offshore wind turbine with 650-foot turbine blades. That, as its announcement points out, is twice the size of an American football field. It's also roughly the size of Trump Tower in New York.
merbs writes: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it’s that too.
The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.
merbs writes: In Papua New Guinea, one well-financed, first-mover company is about to pioneer deep sea mining. And that will mean dispatching a fleet of giant remote-operated robotic miners 5,000 feet below the surface to harvest the riches scattered across ocean floor. These mammoth underwater vehicles look like they’ve been hauled off the set of a sci-fi film—think Avatar meets The Abyss. And they'll be dredging up copper, gold, and other valuable minerals, far beneath the gaze of human eyes.
merbs writes: A computer glitch that brought the Paris airport of Orly to a standstill Saturday has been traced back to the airport's "prehistoric" operating system. The computer failure had affected a system known as DECOR, which is used by air traffic controllers to communicate weather information to pilots. Pilots rely on the system when weather conditions are poor. DECOR, which is used in takeoff and landings, runs on Windows 3.1, an operating system that came onto the market in 1992.
Tim Libert, a privacy researcher, has published new peer-reviewed research that sought to quantify all the “privacy compromising mechanisms” on the one million most popular websites worldwide. His conclusion? “Findings indicate that nearly 9 in 10 websites leak user data to parties of which the user is likely unaware.”
merbs writes: If all goes according to plan, the world’s first private lunar mission will be launched just two years from now. SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit, has secured a launch contract with California-based Spaceflight Industries, and will aim to land a rover on the moon in the second half of 2017. It’s the first such launch contract to be verified by the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize competition.
merbs writes: Joe Haldeman wrote what is hailed by many as the best military science fiction novel ever written, 1974's 'The Forever War'. In this interview, Haldeman discusses what's changed since he wrote his book, what hasn't, and what the future of war will really look like.
merbs writes: Supporters of a basic income have finally organized a proper political movement. Basic Income Action is, according to co-founder Dan O’Sullivan, “the first national organization educating and organizing the public to support a basic income.”He tells me that “Our goal is to educate and organize people to take action to win a basic income here in the US.”
“Our idea was to raise awareness regarding the omnipresence of surveillance equipment, and the current state of technological advancement with artificial intelligence,” Ross Goodwin said. “We wanted to create an entity with its own sense of social awareness, its own eyes, and an ability to communicate with humans, albeit with some glitchiness that underscores the limitations of the current technology.”
merbs writes: Climate change wasn’t created equal. Rich, industrialized nations have contributed most of the pollution and gone way over their carbon budgets—while smaller, poorer, and more agrarian countries are little to blame. The subsequent warming will, naturally, impact everyone, often hitting the poorer countries harder. So should rich countries pay up? Researcher Damon Matthews has quantified how much historically polluting nations owe their global neighbors—and it's a lot.
merbs writes: Given that Labor Day is just about our least-understood national holiday—today, we know it better as one of our most reliable three-day-weekend enablers, a proto Black Friday retail sale stretch, or the subject of outdated jokes about the temporal limits of wearing white—its Wikipedia page is now the portal through which most of us learn anything at all about the supposed worker’s holiday. And over the last decade, the 'Labor Day' page has struggled to even mention the labor movement that it supposedly honors.