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Earth

SpaceX Successfully Lands A Falcon 9 Rocket At Sea For The Third Time (theverge.com) 100

An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for the third time in a row. The Verge reports: "It was the third time in a row the company has landed a rocket booster at sea, and the fourth time overall. The landing occurred a few minutes before the second stage of the Falcon 9 delivered the THAICOM-8 satellite to space, where it will make its way to geostationary geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). GTO is a high-elliptical orbit that is popular for satellites, sitting more than 20,000 miles above the Earth. The 3,100-kilogram satellite will spend 15 years improving television and data signals across Southeast Asia." The company landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship for the second time earlier this month. UPDATE 5/27/15: Frank249 writes in a comment: "Elon Musk just tweeted: 'Rocket landing speed was close to design max and used up contingency crush core, hence back and forth motion. Prob ok, but some risk of tipping.'" He went on to tweet: "Crush core is aluminum honeycomb for energy absorption in the telescoping actuator. Easy to replace (if Falcon makes it back to port)."
Facebook

Someone In North Korea Is Hosting a Facebook Clone (vice.com) 55

Reporter Jason Koebler shares: Someone in North Korea appears to have created a Facebook clone, according to an internet analytics company that traced the site's DNS to the notoriously isolated country. The social network is an off-the-shelf Facebook clone called dolphinPHP.
Dyn Analytics researcher Doug Madory said that "very few websites resolve to the North Korean address space, and this one does."
From the screenshots in the article, the user interface, and other elements do look similar to that of Facebook.
China

China Unveils 'Straddling Bus' Design To Beat Traffic Jams (theguardian.com) 155

An anonymous reader writes: A Beijing company has unveiled spectacularly futuristic designs for a pollution-busting, elevated bus capable of gliding over the nightmarish mega-jams for which urban China has become notorious. The "straddling bus," which owes more to Blade Runner than China's car-clogged highways, is supported by two legs that run along rails laid along the roadside. Those legs allow the Transit Explore Bus, or TEB's giant frame to glide high above the gridlock at speeds of up to 60km per hour. Equally, vehicles that are less than two metres high will be able to drive freely underneath the bus, even when it is stationary. "The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space," Song Youzhou, the project's chief engineer, told Xinhua, China's official news agency. Song claimed his buses, capable of transporting up to 1,400 commuters, could be produced for 20% of the price of an underground train and rolled out far more quickly since the supporting infrastructure was relatively simple. One TEB could replace 40 conventional buses, he said.You can watch the concept video here. Interestingly a very similar -- if not the exact same -- concept has come out of China before. Not sure what kind of developments have been made in the six years since then.
Earth

Mars Is Coming Out Of An Ice Age (reuters.com) 164

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Reuters: An analysis of radar images that peered inside the polar ice caps of Mars shows that Earth's neighbor is coming out of an ice age that is part of an ongoing cycle of climate change, scientists said on Thursday. Using images taken by satellites orbiting Mars, the researchers determined that about 20,872 cubic miles (87,000 cubic km) of ice has accumulated at its poles since the end of the ice age, mostly in the northern polar cap. Scientists are keenly interested in piecing together the climate history of Mars, which contains strong evidence that oceans and lakes once pooled on its surface, bolstering the prospects for life. From the perspective of an Earthling, every day on Mars may feel like an ice age. According to NASA, temperatures on Mars may hit a high at noon at the equator in the summer of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), or a low of about minus-225 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-153 degrees Celsius) at the poles. The Martian ice began its retreat about 370,000 years ago, marking the end of the last ice age, according to the research published in the journal Science
Math

Billionaire Technologist Accuses NASA Asteroid Mission of Bad Statistics (sciencemag.org) 205

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Science Magazine: Nathan Myhrvold, ex-CTO of Microsoft, is accusing NASA of providing bad statistics on asteroid size. Mr. Myhrvold alleged that scientists using a prominent NASA space telescope have made fundamental mistakes in their assessment of the size of more than 157,000 asteroids they have observed. In a paper posted to the arXiv.org e-print repository on 22 May, Myhrvold takes aim at the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a space telescope launched in 2009, and a follow-on mission, NEOWISE, which together are responsible for the discovery of more asteroids than any other observatory. Yet Myhrvold says that the WISE and NEOWISE teams' papers are riddled with statistical missteps. "None of their results can be replicated," he tells ScienceInsider. "I found one irregularity after another" Myhrvold says the NASA teams have made mistakes, such as ignoring the margin of error introduced when extrapolating from a small sample size to an entire population. They also neglected to include Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation in their thermal models of the asteroids. Based on his own models, Myhrvold says that errors in the asteroid diameters based on WISE data should be 30%. In some cases, the size errors rise to as large as 300%. "Asteroids are more variable than we thought they were," he says. He has submitted the paper to the journal Icarus for review. However, the WISE and NEOWISE teams are standing by their results, and say that Myhrvold's criticism should be dismissed. "For every mistake I found in his paper, if I got a bounty, I would be rich," says Ned Wright, the principal investigator for WISE at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wright says that WISE's data match very well with two other infrared telescopes, AKARI and IRAS. To find out how accurately those infrared data determine the size of an asteroid, scientists have to calibrate them with radar observations, other observations made when asteroids pass in front of distant stars, and observations made by spacecraft up close. When they do that, Wright says, WISE's size errors end up at roughly 15%. Wright says his team doesn't have Myhrvold's computer codes, "so we don't know why he's screwing up." But Wright archly noted that Myhrvold once worked at Microsoft, so "is responsible in part for a lot of bad software."
Space

Space Updates From Three Countries (indiatimes.com) 62

The Indian Space Research Organisation continues developing a reusable launch vehicle, which could cut the costs of satellite launches by 90%. William Robinson quotes the Business Times: India will use a mini-rocket with a booster to fly a winged reusable launch vehicle into lower earth orbit on May 23... If everything goes well, it will reach about 70 kilometers from earth, and will plunge into the Bay of Bengal...to demonstrate hypersonic and aero-thermodynamics of the winged re-entry vehicle with autonomous mission management
Meanwhile, Thelasko shares this reminder from BlastingNews that the U.S. Air Force's mysterious X-37B celebrated the one-year anniversary of its launch: Today, the maneuverable craft operates in a 220-mile orbit, a higher altitude it briefly held last fall and roughly the same perch occupied twice by the previous X-37B mission, according to satellite-tracking hobbyist Ted Molczan. This X-37B carries at least two payloads, revealed by the military before the ship took off â" an experimental electric propulsion thruster to be tested in orbit and a pallet to expose sample materials to the space environment.
And MarkWhittington writes that "The latest Chinese space station, the Tiangong 2, is slated to be launched later in 2016 and will be visited by Chinese astronauts in a Shenzhou spacecraft. But, according to Spaceflight Insider, the Chinese are already looking ahead to their permanent low Earth orbit space facility, the Tiangong 3, slated to begin construction in 2018."
Earth

Japanese Startup Wants To Rain Down Man-Made Meteor For Tokyo Olympics (sciencealert.com) 106

A startup called Star-ALE wants to create a man-made meteor shower over the city of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics opening ceremonies. The pyrotechnics show, Star-ALE says, will be visible from an area 200km across Japan, and the pyrotechnics will actually shower from space. Starting next year, Star-ALE will begin sending a fleet of microsatellites carrying 500 to 1000 specially-developed pellets that ignite and intensely glow as they re-enter the earth's atmosphere. ScienceAlert reports: But wonderment comes at a cost, and in this case, that cost isn't cheap. Each combustible pellet comes in at about $8,100 to produce, and that's not including the costs involved in actually launching the Sky Canvas satellite. The company has tested its source particles in the lab, using a vacuum chamber and hot gases to simulate the conditions the pellets would encounter upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere. In its testing, the particles burn with an apparent magnitude of -1, which should ensure they're clearly visible in the night sky, even in the polluted skyline of a metropolis like Tokyo.
Programming

'Eat, Sleep, Code, Repeat' Approach Is Such Bullshit (signalvnoise.com) 192

At its I/O developer conference, Google had the message "Eat. Sleep. Code. Repeat." spread everywhere -- walls, t-shirts you name it. Dan Kim, a programmer at Basecamp, has shared an interesting view on the same. He says while he gets the "coding is awesome and we want to do it all the time!" enthusiasm from the company, but he doubts if that's the approach a programmer should take, adding that the company is wittingly or not promoting an "unhealthy perspective that programming is an all or nothing endeavor -- that to excel at it, you have to go all in." He writes: Whether it's racing cars, loving art, reading, hiking, spending time in nature, playing with their dog, running, gardening, or just hanging out with their family, these top-notch programmers love life outside of code. That's because they know that a truly balanced lifestyle -- one that gives your brain and your soul some space to breath non-programming airâS -- actually makes you a better programmer. Life outside of code helps nurture important qualities: inspiration, creative thinking, patience, flexibility, empathy, and many more. All of these skills make you a better programmer, and you can't fully realize them by just coding.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Opens First 'Next Generation' Retail Store (usatoday.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has opened its new flagship store on Thursday in San Fransisco, throwing the curtain back on a design that puts a premium on hanging out over shopping. About 20 percent of the new store's space features an open Forum area where visitors can learn about Apple's various products. The new design is rolling out to stores in Brussels, Memphis and Guilderland, N.Y. "This is the next generation of Apple retail," Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online operations, told media. "Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we're thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco," she said. "We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs." The new stores were designed by Ahrendts and Apple's design chief, Jony Ive. "Among the other big changes in evidence is morphing Apple's Genius Bar to Genius Grove; the addition of a new Boardroom area dedicated to small business customers; and the advent of a new staff position, Apple Creative Pro, tasked with helping consumers with specific questions on music, photography, videos and the like," writes USA Today. "In addition, some of Apple's most significant store locations, include the [Apple Union Square in San Fransisco], will feature a public Plaza that will be open 24/7 and feature free Wi-Fi as well as occasional concerts and other performances." Oh, and you can't forget about the new 6K video wall, which display broadcasts various Apple products.
Mars

There Were Mega-Tsunamis On Mars (popularmechanics.com) 41

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: Today, a team of scientists has announced the first discovery of extraterrestrial tsunamis. A team of astronomers and geologists led by J. Alexis Rodriguez at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona has uncovered evidence of massive tsunamis on Mars billions of years ago. As Rodriguez reports, two separate mega-tsunamis tore across the red planet around 3.4 billion years ago, a time when Mars was a mere 1.1 billion years old and nearby Earth was just cradling its first microbial lifeforms. The two tsunamis created 150-foot-high shore-break waves on average, and some absolutely monster waves up to 400 feet tall. Rodriguez and his colleagues outline their tsunami findings today in the journal Scientific Reports. From the report: "Rodriquez and his colleagues stumbled across evidence of these tsunamis while scouring over images of Mars' relatively flat northern planes. Two regions called Chryse Planitia and Arabia Terra. Using detailed infrared maps rendered by the thermal camera on the 15-year-old Mars Odyssey orbiter, the scientists identified the high water marks of the tsunamis -- features that look a lot like ancient ocean coastlines." Within the last year alone, scientists have spotted the signs of flowing water on Mars, recently discovering how water flows on the red planet. NASA has detected atomic oxygen in the atmosphere of the planet, too.
Australia

Superjet Technology Nears Reality After Successful Australia Test (cnet.com) 132

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: A two-hour flight from Sydney to London is a step closer to reality after the latest successful test Wednesday of hypersonic technology in the Australian desert. A joint US-Australian military research team is running a series of 10 trials at the world's largest land testing range, Woomera in South Australia, and at Norway's Andoya Rocket Range. Hypersonic flight involves traveling at more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). Scientists involved in the program -- called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) -- are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7, Michael Smart of the University of Queensland told AFP. He added that the scramjet was a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, making it lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets. The experimental rocket in the trial on Wednesday reached an altitude of 278 kilometers and a target speed of Mach 7.5, Australia's defense department said. The first test of the rocket was conducted in 2009. The next test is scheduled for 2017 with the project expected to be completed in 2018. It's only a matter of time before such high-speed transportation technology is implemented into our infrastructure. Last week, Hyperloop One conducted a successful test of its high speed transportation technology in the desert outside Las Vegas.
Space

Europa's Ocean Chemistry Could Be Earth-Like (discovery.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes: Alien life in the universe could be close to home, swimming around Europa's ocean. The idea has been floating around scientific minds for more than a decade: beneath the icy surface of the Jovian moon could slosh a deep, wide ocean with the perfect environment for life to develop. In new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, NASA scientists studied how the chemical composition of the Europan ocean may have evolved and what chemicals it possibly contains, assuming similar geochemical processes as on Earth are at play. Europa is thought to possess a rocky core fractured with deep cracks that have filled with water. Since the formation of the moon, the core has continued to cool, creating more cracks and exposing more rocks to chemical processes with this water."We're studying an alien ocean using methods developed to understand the movement of energy and nutrients in Earth's own systems," said planetary scientist Steve Vance, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The cycling of oxygen and hydrogen in Europa's ocean will be a major driver for Europa's ocean chemistry and any life there, just it is on Earth."
Displays

Transparent Displays Are Here, But They're Pretty Useless 170

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung has debuted the first commercial installation of its 55-inch 'mirror' displays at a salon in South Korea with a transparent OLED screen overlaid over a mirrored surface to allow interaction. The Samsung product rivals an equivalent TOLED from Planar, with both intended for high-end use in the retail display and exhibition space. However both manufacturers are struggling to find practical applications for the much-awaited technology. Transparent displays have been a staple of sci-fi films such as Minority Report for decades, but only, it seems, because they helped to open up scenes which would otherwise have been difficult to film. With the pending advent of AR-based visualization, the innovation of the clear monitor seems not only to have come too late, but also offer limited practical use, even if its current breathtaking prices were to descend to the consumer space.
Earth

ISS Completes 100,000th Orbit of Earth (phys.org) 103

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: The International Space Station, the space laboratory that showcases cooperation between Russia and the United States, on Monday orbited Earth for the 100,000th time, Russian mission control said. Traveling at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) and a speed of about 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometers) per hour, the space station circles the Earth once every 90 minutes. The ISS has now traveled 2.6 billion miles "or about the distance of 10 round trips to Mars," NASA said on the station's official Twitter feed. From two modules, it has grown to 15 modules, occupying a space the size of a football pitch and represents around $100 billion in investment. "Such a long lifespan of the ISS proves that mankind has the necessary technologies for constant presence in orbit, that we have the potential for further space exploration," said Matyushin.
Google

Google Releases Spaces Group-Sharing App On Android, iOS, and Desktop (blogspot.com) 33

Google on Monday released Spaces, an app that is designed to make it easier to share links, videos and other things from the Web in group conversations. The app, which has been in private beta for a few months, is available for Android, iOS, desktop and mobile web. Google explains: With Spaces, it's simple to find and share articles, videos and images without leaving the app, since Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome come built in. When someone shares something new to a space, the conversational view lets you see what the group is talking about without missing a beat. And if you ever want to find something that was shared earlier -- articles, videos, comments or even images -- a quick search lets you pull it up in a snap.

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