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Earth

Norway Plans to Build the World's First Ship Tunnel (newatlas.com) 138

Norway is planning to build the world's first ship tunnel through the country's Stad peninsula, which is home to harsh weather conditions that often delay shipments and cause dangerous conditions for ship crews. The proposed tunnel would enable ships to travel through the peninsula in safety. New Atlas recently interviewed Stad Ship Tunnel Project Manager Terje Andreassen about the project: NA: We'd usually expect a canal to be built for this kind of purpose, so why a tunnel? Because in this case we are crossing a hill which is more than 300 meters (984 ft) high. The only alternative is a tunnel. From a maritime point of view this is still a canal, but with a "roof." NA: How would you go about making such a large tunnel -- would you use a boring machine, for example, or explosives? First we will drill horizontally and use explosives to take out the roof part of the tunnel. Then all bolts and anchors to secure the roof rock before applying shotcrete. The rest of the tunnel will be done in the same way as in open mining. Vertical drilling and blasting with explosives down to the level of 12 m (42 ft) below the sea level. NA: How much rock will be removed, and how will you go about removing it? There will be 3 billion cubic meters (over 105 billion cubic ft) of solid rock removed. All transportation from the tunnel area will be done by large barges. NA: What, if any, are the unique challenges to building a ship tunnel when compared with a road tunnel? The challenge is the height of this tunnel. There is 50 m (164 ft) from bottom to the roof, so all secure works and shotcrete must be done in several levels. The tunnel will be made dry down to the bottom. We solve this by leaving some rock unblasted in each end of the tunnel to prevent water flowing in.

Assuming it does indeed go ahead -- and with the Norwegian government having already set aside the money, this seems relatively likely -- the Stad Ship Tunnel will reach a length of 1.7 km (1.05 miles), and measure 37 m (121 ft) tall and 26.5 m (87 ft) wide. It's expected to cost NOK 2.3 billion (over US$272 million) to build and won't actually speed up travel times, but instead focuses on making the journey safer. Top-tier architecture and design firm Snohetta has designed the entrances, and the company's early plans include sculpted tunnel openings and adding LED lighting on the tunnel ceiling.

Science

Arctic Ice Loss Driven By Natural Swings, Not Just Mankind, Says Study (reuters.com) 279

Alister Doyle, reporting for Reuters: Natural swings in the Arctic climate have caused up to half the precipitous losses of sea ice around the North Pole in recent decades, with the rest driven by man-made global warming, scientists said on Monday. The study indicates that an ice-free Arctic Ocean, often feared to be just years away, in one of the starkest signs of man-made global warming, could be delayed if nature swings back to a cooler mode. Natural variations in the Arctic climate "may be responsible for about 30-50 percent of the overall decline in September sea ice since 1979," the U.S.-based team of scientists wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change. Sea ice has shrunk steadily and hit a record low in September 2012 -- late summer in the Arctic -- in satellite records dating back to 1979. The ice is now around the smallest for mid-March, rivaling winter lows set in 2016 and 2015. The study, separating man-made from natural influences in the Arctic atmospheric circulation, said that a decades-long natural warming of the Arctic climate might be tied to shifts as far away as the tropical Pacific Ocean.
Robotics

Skin deep? Robots To Wear Real Human Tissue (thememo.com) 77

Scientists are already growing muscles, bones, and mini-organs in the lab. But these tissues are generally small and simple. That's why two scientists from Oxford University are proposing that we use humanoid robots to grow engineered tissues instead. From a report: Robots dressed in human flesh would benefit people who need tissue transplants, Oxford University researchers have said this week. At present human cells are grown in stationary environments, but moving humanoids could help them develop in a far more healthier way. Robots could "wear" tissue grafts before transplantation, researchers Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr propose in the latest issue of Science Robotics. Today sheets of cells are grown in stagnant tanks, but these "fail to mimic the real mechanical environment for cells," say the scientists. The resulting tissues aren't used to moving, stretching and straining, which make them problematic for use by patients.
Facebook

Facebook To Autoplay Videos With Sound On By Default (androidandme.com) 116

Currently, Facebook videos autoplay on your News Feed as you scroll up and down. While they eat data and various resources, the saving grace is that they are silent -- that is, until now. Facebook has announced several new changes to its video platform today, including a setting that will autoplay videos with sound turned on by default. Android and Me reports: The audio of videos will fade in and out as you're scrolling through your feed. Fortunately, Facebook will at least make it so that audio won't autoplay if your phone is set to silent. If you're not a fan of this change, there will be a setting to turn audio autoplay off. The change is that it will now be on by default for everyone. Other feature introductions are larger previews for vertical videos, a picture-in-picture mode for videos so you can watch and continue scrolling (and even exit the app without interrupting the video on Android), and a Facebook Video app coming to smart TVs.
Hardware

Samsung's Upcoming Galaxy S8 Flagship Smartphone Won't Have a Headphone Jack: Report (sammobile.com) 360

Samsung is planning to ditch headphone jack in its next flagship smartphone, called the Samsung Galaxy S8, reports SamMobile, a Samsung-focused blog that has a pretty good track record with these things. From the report: Removing the 3.5mm headphone jack enables Samsung to make the Galaxy S8 thinner while also freeing up more space inside for a bigger battery. Samsung may also integrate stereo speakers which some believe will be made in collaboration with Harman, a company that Samsung is acquiring for $8 billion.
Science

Four New Elements Finally Get Their Official Names, Added To Periodic Table (universityherald.com) 102

Scientists have updated the periodic table to add four new elements, namely: Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine and Oganesson. The super-heavy elements discovered by scientists from Japan, Russia, and America, complete the seventh row of the table. Their inclusion also marks the first additions since 2011. From an article on University Herald: Now that the new elements have their names, the seventh row of the periodic table is now complete. The approval was done by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The elements were confirmed back in January. They were assigned temporary names and symbols: ununtrium (Uut), ununpentium (Uup), ununseptium (Uus), and ununoctium (Uuo). It was noted that the teams of Russian, American and Japanese researchers behind the discoveries were given the task of naming the elements that they uncovered. They submitted their proposals in June.
China

Chinese Consumer Group Has Asked Apple To Investigate 'a Considerable Number' of iPhone Shutdowns (businessinsider.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes:The China Consumers Association (CCA) has asked Apple to investigate "a considerable number" of reports by users of iPhone 6 and 6s phones that the devices have been shutting off and cannot be turned back on again, it said on Tuesday. The reported problems specifically involve users seeing their iPhones automatically shut off despite 50-60 percent battery levels, and the involuntary shutting off in room temperature or colder environments, as well as the inability to turn the cellphone back on despite continuous battery charging, the statement said. "In view that Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s series cellphones in China have a considerable number of users, and the number of people who've reported this problem is rather many, China Consumer Association has already made a query with Apple," the association said in a statement on its website.

Comment alternative approach (Score 3, Insightful) 1081

The Electoral College is due to the fact we live in a republic- the number of electoral votes is equal to the sum of the house and senate.

A better approach would be to divide the Electoral College votes proportionally to the vote cast in the sate. This would then still give candidates incentive to campaign in smaller or less populated states.

If we where to go to a straight out popular vote only then people will complain that it is always the big states like California and New York that decide every election and as such Presidential candidates will likely only stop in those larger cities along the costs and be damned to fly over country as they call it.

Desktops (Apple)

It Looks Like Apple is Killing the Physical Esc and Power Keys On New MacBook Pro 524

Curious minds on the internet have uncovered an image file on their Mac, which was added by Apple in the latest macOS update. The image reveals a new laptop that fully fits the description of rumored MacBook Pro, which Apple is expected to launch on October 27. The laptop in the picture has what seems like a "contextual" OLED display (some are calling it Magic Toolbar display) on the top. What's interesting from that picture is that there's no physical Escape key or Power key to be found anywhere.

Editor's note: We usually tend to avoid covering leaks and rumors, but several readers pitched the story to us, and media outlets are also covering it now, which adds some credibility to the matter.
Advertising

Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists (thestack.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors -- including drone-based cameras -- which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalized ads at them as they pass on foot or in cars. The scheme, which was submitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in webpages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which "bloom" around them betray much about their private lives. Yahoo provides an example via its patent application: "According to one example, a digital billboard adjacent a busy freeway might be instrumented with or located near traffic sensors that detect information about the context of the vehicles approaching the billboard, e.g., the number and average speed of the vehicles. Such information might be used in conjunction with information about the time of day and/or the day of the week (e.g., Monday morning rush hour) to select advertisements for display that would appeal to an expected demographic and to display the advertisements for durations that are commensurate with the level of traffic congestion." The patent application also mentions how it will gather required information from individuals: "Various types of data (e.g., cell tower data, mobile app location data, image data, etc.) can be used to identify specific individuals in an audience in position to view advertising content. Similarly, vehicle navigation/tracking data from vehicles equipped with such systems could be used to identify specific vehicles and/or vehicle owners. Demographic data (e.g., as obtained from a marketing or user database) for the audience can thus be determined for the purpose of, for example, determining whether and/or the degree to which the demographic profile of the audience corresponds to a target demographic."
IT

Tech Billionaires Are Asking Scientists For Help To Break Humans Out of Computer Simulation (businessinsider.com) 1042

Many believe that we live in a computer simulation. But it takes a billionaire and his money to ask scientists to help break us out of the simulation. The New Yorker recently did a profile about Y Combinator's Sam Altman. In the story, Altman discusses his theories about being controlled by technology and delves into the simulation theory. From an article on The New Yorker: Many people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with the simulation hypothesis, the argument that what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer; two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation. Business Insider adds: The piece doesn't give any clue as to who those two billionaires are -- although it's easy to hazard a few guesses at who they might be, like Musk himself or Altman's friend Peter Thiel -- but it's fascinating to see how seriously people are taking this theory. According to Musk, it's the most popular topic of conversation right now.Earlier this year, at Code Conference, Elon Musk said there's "one in billions" chance we're not living in a computer simulation.
Businesses

Cable TV Companies Could Lose Nearly $1 Billion in the Next Year From People Ditching Their Subscriptions (businessinsider.com) 250

Nathan McAlone, writing for BusinessInsider: Cable TV companies could lose nearly $1 billion to people cutting the cord over the next year, according to a new study by management consulting firm cg42. The firm estimates that 800,000 cable customers will ditch their subscriptions in the next 12 months. Cg42 expects each customer to be an average loss of $1,248 annually, and losses to approach $1 billion over the year. Cg42 also found that the average cord-cutter saves $104 per month by canceling. Some in the industry have argued that cutting the cord doesn't actually save you money if you subscribe to a bunch of streaming services like Netflix, HBO, and so on. But that point of view neglects the reality that many cable subscribers pay for those streaming services already.
Space

SpaceX Shows Off Its Interplanetary Transport System in New Video (techcrunch.com) 202

Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to send humans to Mars with a ship called the Interplanetary Transport System, the company announced today in a video, revealing how the ITS will actually work. The ITS will be capable of carrying up to 100 tons of cargo -- people and supplies -- and it will utilize a slew of different power sources en route to Mars. From a report on TechCrunch: SpaceX has released a new video showing a CG concept of its Interplanetary Transport System, the rocket and spacecraft combo it plans to use to colonize Mars. The video depicts a reusable rocket that can get the interplanetary spacecraft beyond Earth's orbit, and a craft that uses solar sails to coast on its way to a Mars entry. The booster returns to Earth after separating from the shuttlecraft to pick up a booster tank full of fuel, which it then returns to orbit to fuel up the waiting spaceship. The booster craft then also returns to Earth under its own power, presumably also for re-use. The solar arrays that the spacecraft employs provide 200 kW of power, according to captions in the video.The Verge is live blogging SpaceX's conference, and has details on specs.

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