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Submission + - Star Wars: Episode VIII now has a title — The Last Jedi (ew.com)

An anonymous reader writes: When cameras started rolling last year on the eighth film in the Skywalker family story, writer-director Rian Johnson used the tongue-in-cheek working title “Space Bear,” and numerous rumors (most of them false) about the possible real title have circulated ever since.

The title was announced Monday without any further explanation from Lucasfilm. There’s not much to analyze except that the second film in the trilogies (remember, casual fans, Rogue One is a stand-alone) usually tilts the balance of power toward the villains.

The Empire Strikes Back left the Rebellion and our heroes in tatters, and Attack of the Clones similarly brutalized the Jedi and the crumbling Republic. The Last Jedi is bracketed by the traditional Star Wars emblem, which is outlined in what can only be described as “Sith red.”

The new title also answers one question while raising others: Just who is The Last Jedi?

Submission + - What's killing these galaxies? (earthsky.org)

schwit1 writes: New research published January 17, 2017 by a global team of researchers focused on 11,000 relatively nearby galaxies and asked why their gas — their lifeblood for the formation of new stars — is being violently stripped away on a widespread scale. The answer, according to these scientists, relates to the great halos of dark matter thought to surround galaxies and paints a picture of these galaxies falling through these larger halos, having their star-forming gas removed in a fast-acting process called ram-pressure stripping.

The study – published in the peer-reviewed journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society – was based at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Australia. It shows that the phenomenon is more prevalent than previously thought and that it drives gas from galaxies, sending them to an early death by depriving them of the material to make new stars. Toby Brown, a PhD candidate at ICRAR and Swinburne University of Technology, led the study.

Submission + - Planes flying at high latitudes may travel through high cosmic radition clouds (spaceweather.com)

schwit1 writes: Researchers have found evidence that suggests that planes flying at higher latitudes can sometimes fly through concentrated pockets of high cosmic radiation.

“We have flown radiation sensors onboard 264 research flights at altitudes as high as 17.3km (56,700ft) from 2013 to 2017,” says Kent Tobiska, lead author of the paper and PI of the NASA-supported program Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS). “On at least six occasions, our sensors have recorded surges in ionizing radiation that we interpret as analogous to localized clouds.”

Conventional wisdom says that dose rates should vary smoothly with latitude and longitude and the height of the aircraft. Any changes as a plane navigates airspace should be gradual. Tobiska and colleagues have found something quite different, however: Sometimes dose rates skyrocket for no apparent reason. “We were quite surprised to see this,” says Tobiska.

All of the surges they observed occurred at relatively high latitudes, well above 50 degrees in both hemispheres. One example offered in their paper is typical: On Oct 3, 2015, an NSF/NCAR research aircraft took off from southern Chile and flew south to measure the thickness of the Antarctic ice shelf. Onboard, the ARMAS flight module recorded a 2x increase in ionizing radiation for about 30 minutes while the plane flew 11 km (36,000 feet) over the Antarctic Peninsula. No solar storm was in progress. The plane did not abruptly change direction or altitude. Nevertheless, the ambient radiation environment changed sharply. Similar episodes have occurred off the coast of Washington state.


Submission + - Eating foods such as steak,cheese and butter can make you healthier and slimmer (msn.com)

schwit1 writes: Eating fatty foods such as red meat, cheese and butter could actually be good for your health, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Ireland found that overweight middle-aged men who switched to a diet high in natural saturated fats and low in carbohydrates grew slimmer and healthier.

The diet also led to a reduction in blood pressure and glucose levels, which are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Professor Sherif Sultan, a heart specialist, said: “We urgently need to overturn current dietary guidelines.

“People should not be eating high carbohydrate diets as they have been told over the past decade.

“Instead our diets should be largely based on good quality high-fat foods. This will prevent the rising epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and reverse the growing numbers of people suffering weight-related heart problems.

Submission + - Trump may pick David Gelernter as science advisor (washingtonpost.com)

Applehu Akbar writes: After a weekend of pomp and politics, at last there is major news for nerds. The new administration has met with computer scientist David Gelernter as a possible pick for science advisor. This Yale University professor, who pioneered the field of parallel computation, is known for his controversial vies and in 1993 was targeted for assassination by the Unabomber.

Submission + - Humans, not climate change, wiped out Australian megafauna (phys.org)

schwit1 writes: New evidence involving the ancient poop of some of the huge and astonishing creatures that once roamed Australia indicates the primary cause of their extinction around 45,000 years ago was likely a result of humans, not climate change.

Led by Monash University in Victoria, Australia and the University of Colorado Boulder, the team used information from a sediment core drilled in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southwest Australia to help reconstruct past climate and ecosystems on the continent. The core contains chronological layers of material blown and washed into the ocean, including dust, pollen, ash and spores from a fungus called Sporormiella that thrived on the dung of plant-eating mammals, said CU Boulder Professor Gifford Miller.

Miller, who participated in the study led by Sander van der Kaars of Monash University, said the sediment core allowed scientists to look back in time, in this case more than 150,000 years, spanning Earth's last full glacial cycle. Fungal spores from plant-eating mammal dung were abundant in the sediment core layers from 150,000 years ago to about 45,000 years ago, when they went into a nosedive, said Miller, a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences.

"The abundance of these spores is good evidence for a lot of large mammals on the southwestern Australian landscape up until about 45,000 years ago," he said. "Then, in a window of time lasting just a few thousand years, the megafauna population collapsed."

Submission + - Atomic clocks on 9 of 72 European GPS satellites have failed (yahoo.com)

schwit1 writes: The atomic clocks on 9 of the 72 European Galileo GPS satellites, designed to compete with the American, Russian, and Chinese GPS satellites, have failed.

No satellite has been declared “out” as a result of the glitch. “However, we are not blind If this failure has some systematic reason we have to be careful” not to place more flawed clocks in space, [ESA director general Jan Woerner] said.

Each Galileo satellite has four ultra-accurate atomic timekeepers — two that use rubidium and two hydrogen maser. Three rubidium and six hydrogen maser clocks are not working, with one satellite sporting two failed timekeepers. Each orbiter needs just one working clock for the satnav to work — the rest are spares.

The question now, Woerner said, is “should we postpone the next launch until we find the root cause?”

That they are even considering further launches with so many failures of the same units seems absurd. They have a systemic problem, and should fix it before risking further launches.

Submission + - Google Uses Its Search Engine to Hawk Its Products (wsj.com)

schwit1 writes: A Wall Street Journal analysis found that ads for products sold by Google and its sister companies appeared in the most prominent spot in 91% of 25,000 recent searches related to such items; and 43% of the time, the top two ads both were for Google-related products.

The analysis, run by search-ad-data firm SEMrush, examined 1,000 searches each on 25 terms, from "laptops" to "speakers" to "carbon monoxide detectors." SEMrush ran the searches Dec. 1 on a desktop computer, blocking past web-surfing history that could influence results.

The results show how Google uses its dominant search engine to boost other parts of its business and give it an edge over competitors, which include some of its biggest advertising customers.

A Google spokesman said the company has "consciously and carefully designed" its marketing programs not to affect other advertisers.

The Journal's analysis highlights a rarely discussed apparent conflict of interest in the $187 billion digital-advertising industry: The leading sellers of online ad space, including Google, Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., also compete with their customers for that space.

Google searches for "phones" virtually always began with three consecutive ads for Google's Pixel phones. All 1,000 searches for "laptops" started with a Chromebook ad. "Watches" began with an Android smartwatch ad 98% of the time. And "smoke detector" led with back-to-back ads for internet-connected alarms made by Nest, a company owned by Google parent Alphabet. In all instances, the stores these ads pointed to were also owned by Alphabet.

Submission + - CIA publishes its history, nearly 13 million pages of documents online (cnn.com)

schwit1 writes: “Access to this historically significant collection is no longer limited by geography,” said Joseph Lambert, the CIA’s information management director in a press release.

The agency hoped in October 2016 to have the archive publicly available online by the end of 2017, according to a source with knowledge of the agency’s effort. The work was labor intensive, but the agency was able to complete this ahead of schedule as a result of significant advancements in technology and data management.

The archive touches on the CIA extensive history as an organization, from its inception up through the 1990s.

“None of this is cherry-picked,” said CIA spokesperson Heather Fritz Horniak. “It’s the full history. It’s good and bads.”

https://www.cia.gov/library/re...

Submission + - Trump Operative Roger Stone Survives Assassination Attempt (infowars.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Doctors told him he had been poisoned with polonium and CDC tests found the substance in his blood

Polonium-210 is a radioactive substance that releases extremely harmful alpha particles throughout the body producing cancer-causing free radicals. It has been used in numerous high profile assassinations, including that of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, and was suspected in the death of former PLO leader Yassar Arafat.

Submission + - World's 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, led the list with a net worth of $75 billion. He is scheduled to speak at the forum in Davos this year.
Amancio Ortega Gaona, the Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, best known for its oldest and biggest brand, Zara, has a net worth of $67 billion.
Warren E. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion.
Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, $45.2 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, $44.6 billion.
Lawrence J. Ellison, the founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion.
Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and founder of the media and financial-data giant Bloomberg L.L.P., $40 billion.

Submission + - New York driver groups push for a ban on autonomous cars (autoblog.com)

schwit1 writes: It's no secret that ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft dream of a day when they can depend solely on self-driving cars, and that's making driver organizations more than a little nervous. New York's Upstate Transportation Association and Independent Drivers Guild are both pressing for bans on autonomous vehicles in the state out of concern that they'll ultimately cost thousands of transportation jobs. The IDG believes that it only needs to preserve existing laws to guarantee a ban, but the UTA is considerably more aggressive — it wants a 50-year ban on self-driving cars. Yes, there's a real chance you wouldn't even be alive to see the day when driverless rides hit New York roads.

Submission + - Air Force Dogfighting Russian Aircraft over Area 51 (dailymail.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: The US Air Force conducted a mock dogfight using a Russian fighter jet above Area 51 in Nevada. The 'enemy' jet was a single-seat Sukhoi SU-27P, which is used by the Russian and Chinese air forces. The Sukhoi was intercepted by an F-16 fighter operating out of the nearby Nellis Air Force Base. The two jets fought each other for 25 minutes at altitudes ranging between 20,000 and 30,000 feet.

This Flanker was in the classic 1990's two-tone blue colour scheme, with white nose and white fin tips. A very different aeroplane. There had been rumours that the US had obtained two single seat Flankers from Belarus in 1996 or 1997.

Submission + - Gambler Phil Ivey Sued For Being Too Good (thefederalist.com) 2

schwit1 writes: “The Borgata alleged that Ivey’s actions, which the casino agreed to in advance, constitute cheating. In fact, they merely constitute a gambler getting a legitimate advantage over the casino. In this age of cozy cooperation between the state and the gaming industry, that’s something that’s just not allowed.”

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