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Earth

One US Oil Field a Key Culprit In Global Ethane Gas Increase 57

An anonymous reader writes: According to scientists, a single U.S. shale oil field is responsible for much of the past decade's increase in global atmospheric levels of ethane, a gas that can damage air quality and impact climate. The Bakken Formation, an oil and gas field in North Dakota and Montana is spewing nearly 2% of the globe's ethane. That translates to about 250,000 tons each year. "Two percent might not sound like a lot, but the emissions we observed in this single region are 10 to 100 times larger than reported in inventories. They directly impact air quality across North America. And they're sufficient to explain much of the global shift in ethane concentrations," said Eric Kort, U-M assistant professor of climate and space sciences and engineering.The Washington Post has more details (paywalled; alternatively you can read this Gizmodo report)
Politics

Bernie Sanders' Second Life Headquarters Besieged by Trump-Supporting Swastikas (vice.com) 226

Wagner James Au, writing for Motherboard (edited and condensed):As Donald Trump continues to ride roughshod over much of the United States, there are multiple reports that Trumps' virtual fans are riding roughshod on Bernie Sanders' unofficial headquarters in Second Life as well. Sanders' spot is in the sim (Second Life region) of Caspoli, with a Bernie 2016 banner that can be seen from satellite. It's a Roman-themed hangout space in a peaceful meadow, where Bernie supporters often gather to share news of their favorite candidate. But lately, the place has been besieged by pro-Trump griefers. [...] During a Bernie rally in Second Life, Sanders support group member Macaria Wind goes on, Trump-supporting demons flew around Bernie's rally, endlessly typing "TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!" into text chat.
Music

iTunes Turns 13 Today -- Continues To Be 'Awful' (qz.com) 253

An anonymous reader points us to a link on Quartz: On April 28, 2003, Apple started up a revolution. Enter the iTunes Music Store, unveiled with a proud flourish by a beaming Steve Jobs. It was a digital jukebox, a music distribution game-changer, a record store to end all record stores -- and it did, in fact, kill off a great number of those. [...] For 13 years -- 15 if you count the two years the program was just a file-storing service -- users have grumbled loudly about iTunes' unwieldy interface, its bloated features, its inability to simply get better. [...] Instead of trying to streamline the service over the years, Apple has opted to stuff an overwhelming number of new features -- movies, television shows, podcasts, mobile apps, and most recently, Apple Music -- into it.The report mentions the following issues with iTunes: space-sucking size, slowness, ugliness, bloatware, lack of online or social integration, a wonky back-end, music isn't even its priority. Marco Arment, who is best known for co-founding Tumblr, and creating Instapaper app, noted some development-end issues with iTunes in 2015. He wrote: [...] The iTunes Store back-end is a toxic hellstew of unreliability. Everything that touches the iTunes Store has a spotty record for me and almost every Mac owner I know. And the iTunes app itself is the toxic hellstew. iTunes has an impossible combination of tasks on its plate that cannot be done well. iTunes is the definition of cruft and technical debt. It was an early version of iTunes that demonstrated the first software bugs to Grace Hopper in 1946. Probably not coincidentally, some of iTunes' least reliable features are reliant on the iTunes Store back-end, including Genius from forever ago, iTunes Match more recently, and now, Apple Music.
Space

SpaceX Intends To Send a Red Dragon To Mars As Early As 2018 (blastingnews.com) 117

Reader MarkWhittington writes: SpaceX has announced that it intends to send a version of its Dragon spacecraft, called "Red Dragon," to Mars as early as 2018. The mission, to be launched on top of a Falcon Heavy rocket, would be the first to another planet conducted by a commercial enterprise. The flight of the Red Dragon would be the beginning of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's long-term dream of building a settlement on Mars.Ars Technica reports: According to the company, these initial test missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars. This series of missions, to be launched on the company's not-yet-completed Falcon Heavy rocket, will provide key data for SpaceX as the company develops an overall plan to send humans to the Red Planet to colonize Mars. One of the biggest challenges in landing on Mars is the fact that its atmosphere is so thin it provides little braking capacity. To land the 900kg Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA had to devise the complicated sky crane system that led to its "Seven Minutes of Terror." A Dragon would weigh much more, perhaps about 6,000kg. To solve this problem, SpaceX plans to use an upgraded spacecraft, a Dragon2 powered by eight SuperDraco engines, to land using propulsion.
Space

Stephen Hawking Suggests Black Holes Are Possible Portals To Another Universe (scienceworldreport.com) 230

An anonymous reader shares an article on Science World Report: Stephen Hawking, in a recent lecture held at the Harvard University, claimed that black holes could be portals to a parallel universe. The celebrated physicist spoke at length about black holes and suggested that they neither store materials absorbed by them nor physical information about the object that created them. Known as the information paradox, the theory goes against the scientific rule that information on a system belonging to a particular time can be used to understand its state at a different time. Over the years, it has been speculated that black holes do not retain information about the stars from which they are formed, except storing their electrical charge, angular momentum and mass. According to Hawking, as per that theory, it was believed that identical black holes might be formed by an infinite quantity of matter configurations. However, quantum mechanics has signaled the opposite by revealing that black holes could only be formed by particles with explicit wavelengths. If the characteristics of the bodies that create black holes are not deprived, then they include a lot of information that is not revealed to the outside world, according to the physicist. "For more than 200 years, we have believed in the science of determinism, that is that the laws of science determine the evolution of the universe" Stephen Hawking said. If information was lost in black holes, we wouldn't be able to predict the future because the black hole could emit any collection of particles."This is in contrast to some of Hawking's earlier views. In 2014, for instance, Hawking suggested that black holes don't exist, at least not like we think.
ISS

British Astronaut Competes in London Marathon from ISS (cnn.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes: "British astronaut Tim Peake became the first man to complete a marathon in space on Sunday, running the classic 26.2 mile distance while strapped to a treadmill aboard the International Space Station..." reports Reuters. "The 44-year-old spaceman saw London's roads under his feet in real time on an iPad as, 250 miles below him, more than 37,000 runners simultaneously pounded the streets." Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, two earth-bound runners ran the marathon wearing space suits.
CNN notes that Peake "ran the race for real in 1999," but this time competed with avatars that represented actual runners who were using the Run Social app. His zero-gravity run took longer -- more than three and a half hours -- while a Kenyan runner ultimately won the race, completing the whole 26.2-mile course in just two hours, three minutes and four seconds, the second-fastest time ever recorded.
Social Networks

Fired Reddit Exec Launches Competing Site (thenextweb.com) 273

An anonymous reader writes: "Dan McComas, the former second-in-command at Reddit -- and vocal critic of its more inflammatory groups -- wants to build a better Reddit, one that focuses on 'healthy, positive communities,'" reports TheNextWeb. Raising $3 million, Imzy.com quietly launched earlier this year with over 500 discussion forums, aspiring to become an advertising-free space where content creators can interact with their fans. Moderators and users of Imzy can be "tipped" with online payments from other users, while the site hopes to remain advertising-free by taking a cut from on-site transactions. But "at its core though, Imzy wants to provide a safe place to share and discuss without the fear of being harassed, a problem Reddit has struggled with for several years."
Space

ESA Offering Prizes For First Radio Reception From Satellite (livejournal.com) 9

An anonymous reader writes: The European Space Agency education office set up a contest to receive the radio signals from their new Cubesat satellites: AAUSAT4, E-st@r-II or OUFTI-1. Prizes will be rewarded to those who receive the first signal (audio or waterfall) from TLM, packet or ham radio transponders. Even if you're not the first, any valid submission will be rewarded with a nice QSL card from ESA, reports one space site.

Arianespace's Soyuz is scheduled for liftoff on April 24 with a multi-mission satellite payload. Designated Flight VS14 in Arianespace's launcher family numbering system, the medium-lift Soyuz carries a mixed payload of the Sentinel-1B C-band radar observation platform, a trio of "Fly Your Satellite!" technology demonstrator CubeSats, and the Microscope scientific satellite.

NASA

NASA Hackathon Expected to Draw Over 15,000 Coders (fastcompany.com) 46

Saturday NASA began live-streaming footage of their "Space Apps Challenge" hackathon, which they're describing as one of the largest hackathons on earth. "Together, citizens like you have developed thousands of open-source solutions," says the event's site, while Fast Company reports that last year 14,264 people gathered in 133 locations to create apps using NASA's trove of open data. Last year's largest local app hackathon was started by two women in Cairo, drawing 700 participants, and this year NASA is trying to increase participation by female coders. NASA's open innovation project manager tells FastCompany that women "are looking for signals that they will be in a safe space where they feel like they belong," noting that 80% of last year's participants were men.
China

Chinese Conglomerate LeEco Wants To Give Away Its 'Tesla Killer' Electric Supercar For Free (ndtv.com) 67

Rishi Alwani, reporting for Gadgets 360 (edited and condensed for clarity): At an event in Beijing this week, Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco showed off its LeSEE self-driving electric supercar. A slide noted that LeEco's car can reach 130mph which is a fair bit behind of the Tesla Model S' top speed range of 140 to 155 mph. Nonetheless, the company said the final product should beat Tesla in "all aspects of performance." The car sports a rounded design with a giant LED screen plastered on the front of the vehicle. If the car is being used for cab services, for instance, the screen can show if it's available for hire or not. There's an arched transparent roof and what seems to be generous cabin space. The interior sported a futuristic-looking steering wheel with a lit-up centre that quite possibly would replace the traditional dashboard and was complemented by a monitor next to it. It also had ridged backseats that may look uncomfortable but is actually memory foam - a polyurethane material used in mattresses that can mould to the shape of a passenger's body for maximum comfort.

Perhaps the most interesting component of its LeSEE concept has nothing to do with the technology, but rather the business models involved. For one, the company believes it has a huge role to play in LeShare - a time-sharing electric vehicle platform that's present in Beijing and Shanghai with plans to expand to five more cities in China. Electric vehicles and charging resources will be shared between LeShare and LeEco-backed Uber competitor Yidao. In addition to this, LeEco believes that the car will eventually be free, in line with the same business model it has for some of its other hardware, charging users for content, subscriptions or memberships.
For a refresh, LeEco (LeTV) was founded in 2004, and has since become a major name in many technology-centric markets. It offers live-streaming, e-commerce, cloud, smartphones, TV set-top boxes, and smart TVs among many other products and services. The company has a market capitalisation of at least $12 billion.
Space

Wikipedia May Get Delivered To The Moon (wikimedia.org) 52

A new Meta page on Wikimedia.org reports: "A group of science enthusiasts from Berlin, Germany, are planning to send their own custom-built rover to the Moon. And they want to take Wikipedia with them." Sort of. Wikimedia Deutschland has been offered space on a data disc to be carried by one of the five image-gathering rovers still competing to land on the Moon by 2017 for the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge. But there's only 20 gigabytes of space, so they're calling on the Wikipedia communities to agree on which content should be included by June 24. "Even if only a snapshot of Wikipedia can be brought to the Moon, its content will equal a genuine snapshot of the sum of all human knowledge..." the Meta page explains "This is an anniversary gift to all Wikipedia communities all over the world."
Space

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says It's 'Very Likely' The Universe Is A Simulation (extremetech.com) 819

mspohr quotes a report from ExtremeTech: At the most recent Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, [scientists gathered to address the question for the year: Is the universe a computer simulation? At the debate, host and celebrity astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argued that the probability is that we live in a computer simulation.] This is the crux of Tyson's point: if we take it as read that it is, in principle, possible to simulate a universe in some way, at some point in the future, then we have to assume that on an infinite timeline some species, somewhere, will simulate the universe. And if the universe will be perfectly, or near-perfectly, simulated at some point, then we have to examine the possibility that we live inside such a universe. And, on a truly infinite timeline, we might expect an almost infinite number of simulations to arise from an almost infinite number or civilizations -- and indeed, a sophisticated-enough simulation might be able to let its simulated denizens themselves run universal simulations, and at that point all bets are officially off."
United States

San Francisco Adopts Law Requiring Solar Panels On All New Buildings (theguardian.com) 298

San Francisco will soon become one of the first major cities in the U.S. to require solar power on new buildings. The rule, which received approval from San Francisco's Board of Supervisors this week, is set to go into effect in January 2017. According to the legislation, all new buildings with 10 stories or fewer -- both residential and commercial -- will have to use either solar panels for electricity or a solar system to heat water. The Guardian notes that smaller Californian cities such as Lancaster and Sebastopol already have similar laws in place, but San Francisco is the first large city to adopt the new standard. "In a dense, urban environment, we need to be smart and efficient about how we maximize the use of our space to achieve goals such as promoting renewable energy and improving our environment," Supervisor Scott Wiener said in a statement. Vox has more details.
NASA

NASA Gives Solar Ionic Propulsion A Monster Boost (networkworld.com) 52

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: NASA this week took a giant step toward using solar electric power for future space missions by awarding a $67 million contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop an advanced electric propulsion system. Network World writes, "Specifically, Aerojet Rocketdyne will develop and deliver an integrated electric propulsion system -- known as the Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) -- consisting of a thruster, power processing unit (PPU), low-pressure xenon flow controller, and electrical harness. Such a system would deploy large solar arrays that can be used to convert sunlight into electrical power that ionizes atoms of xenon which is the propellant for the spacecraftâ(TM)s thrusters. In addition, such a power plant could potentially increase spaceflight fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems, NASA said." NASA's plan is to use this propulsion system on its future Asteroid Redirect Mission, as well as on its mission to Mars.
China

China Plans To Reach Mars by 2020 and Eventually Build a Moon Base (techinsider.io) 105

Rebecca Harrington, writing for Tech Insider: China has plans to orbit the moon, land people on it, and eventually settle a moon colony. But that's just part of the nation's vision for space exploration: China intends to get a spacecraft to Mars by 2020. "Our long-term goal is to explore, land, and settle [on the moon]," Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's moon and Mars missions, told the BBC. "We want a manned lunar landing to stay for longer periods and establish a research base." Weiren didn't specify when the country plans to accomplish these goals, but he did say they will "check out" the far side of the moon before attempting to land astronauts there. This mission already has concrete plans. He also said China wants to reach Mars by 2020, and implied that the country has finally settled on a mission to send a rover to the Red Planet. "We will orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover -- all in one mission," Weiren told the BBC.

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