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Astronomers Discover Massive Galaxy Surrounded by an Unexpected Halo of Tranquil Gas – SciTechDaily

An artists impression of CSIROs ASKAP radio telescope detecting a fast radio burst (FRB). Scientists dont know what causes FRBs but it must involve incredible energyequivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years. Credit: OzGrav, Swinburne University of Technology.

Astronomers studying the outskirts of a distant galaxy have discovered the galaxy sits in a serene ocean of gas.

The massive galaxy, which is about four billion light-years from Earth, is surrounded by a halo of gas that is much less dense and less magnetized than expected.

The finding was published on September 26, 2019, in the journal Science.

Co-author Associate Professor Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said gas on the outskirts of galaxies has traditionally been hard to study.

The halo of gas can actually extend out 10 times further than the stars in a galaxy, and can contain a substantial amount of the matter thats in a galaxy, he said.

But its very difficult to see the gas directly with a telescope.

Associate Professor Macquart said this discovery was made using a new technique involving fast radio burstspowerful flashes of energy from deep space.

Fast radio bursts come from all over the sky and last for just milliseconds, he said.

They involve incredible energyequivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years.

Were not sure what causes them, and have only recently been able to pinpoint the galaxies they come from.

Associate Professor Macquart said the research team looked at how a single fast radio burst distorted as it traveled five billion light-years through the Universe.

Along the way, the burst shot through a galaxys halo of gas, like a lighthouses beam cutting through the fog.

Associate Professor Macquart said the researchers expected the signal from the fast radio burst to be distorted by the galaxy.

If you go out on a hot summers day, you see the air shimmering and the trees in the background look distorted because of the temperature and density fluctuations in the air, he said.

Thats what we thought would happen, that the signal from the fast radio burst would be completely distorted after passing through the hot atmosphere of the galaxy.

But instead of the stormy galactic weather we were expecting, the pulse we observed had traveled through a calm sea of unperturbed gas.

The finding suggests that galaxy halos are much more serene than previously thought, with gas that is less turbulent, less dense and less magnetized than expected.

One reason astronomers are so interested in galaxy halos is because they can help us understand why material is ejected from galaxies, causing them to stop growing.

An artists impression of Fast Radio Burst 181112 traveling through the halo of a galaxy 4 billion light-years from Earth. J. Josephides, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology.

University of California Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics J. Xavier Prochaska, who led the research, said halo gas provides a fossil record of these ejection processes.

So our observations can inform theories about how matter is ejected and how magnetic fields are transported from the galaxy, he said.

Professor Prochaska said the team now plans to test other galaxies.

Our research appears to reveal something entirely new about galactic halos, he said.

Unless of course, this galaxy happens to be just some weird exceptionand with only one object you cant be sure about that.

A fast radio burst leaves a distant galaxy, traveling to Earth over billions of years and occasionally passing through clouds of gas in its path. Each time a cloud of gas is encountered, the different wavelengths that make up a burst are slowed by different amounts. Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths at a radio telescope tells us how much material the burst has traveled through on its way to Earth and allows astronomers to detect missing matter located in the space between galaxies. Credit: CSIRO/ICRAR/OzGrav/Swinburne University of Technology.

The research used a fast radio burst that was detected in November by CSIROs Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), in outback Western Australia.

The telescope is a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be the worlds largest radio telescope when its built in the next decade.

The study was led by Professor Xavier Prochaska from the University of California and involved 19 researchers from around the world.

We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamaji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) site and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Read Galaxys Tranquil Halo Illuminated by Enigmatic Radio Burst for more coverage of this topic.

Reference: The low density and magnetization of a massive galaxy halo exposed by a fast radio burst (PDF) by J. Xavier Prochaska, Jean-Pierre Macquart, Matthew McQuinn, Sunil Simha, Ryan M. Shannon, Cherie K. Day, Lachlan Marnoch, Stuart Ryder, Adam Deller, Keith W. Bannister, Shivani Bhandari, Rongmon Bordoloi, John Bunton, Hyerin Cho, Chris Flynn, Elizabeth K. Mahony, Chris Phillips, Hao Qiu and Nicolas Tejos, 26 September 2019, Science.DOI: 10.1126/science.aay0073

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Astronomers Discover Massive Galaxy Surrounded by an Unexpected Halo of Tranquil Gas - SciTechDaily

"Abodes of Advanced Life?" –Oldest Objects in the Universe Orbiting the Milky Way – The Daily Galaxy –Great Discoveries Channel

Globular clusters, of which seem to have formed together with the Milky Way, among the oldest objects in the universe, provide astronomers with natural laboratories for the study of stellar evolution processes and, perhaps, some speculate, may harbor advanced extraterrestrial life. An international group of astronomers using the CanadaFranceHawaii Telescope (CFHT) and Keck Observatory, has zoomed in on a satellite globular cluster, Laevens 3, one of 160 known to orbit the Milky Way in its galactic outer halo.

Globular clusters are among the oldest objects that formed about 11.5 billion years ago, 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang and shortly before the rate of cosmic star formation reached its peak, 10 billion years ago. This period is known as cosmic high noon. The clusters are very bright and can be seen at very large distances, which means that they can give us clues as to how the galaxies were assembled during this period of maximum star formation, says astrophysicist Rosa Amelia Gonzlez-Lpezlira, researcher at the Institute of Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico who was not involved in the new study.

Possible Abodes of Advanced Civilizations

In January of 2016 we quoted Rosanne DiStefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) who said that a globular cluster might be the first place in which intelligent life is identified in our galaxy. Globular star clusters are extraordinary in almost every way. Theyre densely packed, holding a million stars in a ball only about 100 light-years across on average, dating back almost to the birth of the Milky Way. And according to DiStefanos research, they also could be extraordinarily good places to look for space-faring civilizations.

Globular Clusters Orbiting the Milky Way Might Be the First Place Intelligent Life is Identified (CfA)

Located some 470,00 light-years away from the Earth, Laevens 3 (or Lae 3 for short) discovered in 2015 using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope is a faint cluster, about eight billion years old, with a half-light radius of around 23 light-years and low metallicity. To put its distance in perspective, the Milky Ways disk is only 100,000 light years across, or about an amazing sixth of the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy.

Observation of Laevens 3 Globular Cluster

Observations of such faint and distant satellite systems, reports Tomasz Nowakowski at Phys.org, could shed more light on the formation and evolution of our home galaxy, which inspired a new study by a team of astronomers led by Nicolas Longeard of the Observatory of Strasbourg in France.

We present a photometric and spectroscopic study of the Milky Way satellite Laevens 3. Using MegaCam/CFHT g and i photometry and Keck II/DEIMOS multi-object spectroscopy, we refine the structural and stellar properties of the system, the astronomers wrote in the paper.

Globular Cluster Opportunity Harbors Milky Ways Oldest Known Planet

The study found that Laevens 3 is larger and older than previously thought. The color-magnitude diagram shows that it is about 13 billion years old.

According to the paper, all the results suggest that the cluster exhibits the main characteristics of Milky Way outer halo globular clusters. Moreover, the study found that Laevens 3 showcases signs of mass segregation, which confirms the globular cluster nature of this system.

Overall, Laevens 3 shares the typical properties of the Milky Ways outer halo globular clusters. Furthermore, we find that this system shows signs of mass segregation, which strengthens our conclusion that Laevens 3 is a globular cluster, the researchers concluded with an outer halo orbit with a pericenter of about 133,000 light-years and an apocenter of approximately 279,000 light-years..The Daily Galaxy via Phys.org and New Scientist

The Hubble image at the top of the page, Messier 54, could be just another globular cluster, but this dense and faint group of stars was in fact the first globular cluster found that is outside our galaxy.

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"Abodes of Advanced Life?" --Oldest Objects in the Universe Orbiting the Milky Way - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries Channel

Faith And The Environment: Why Climate Change Is An Everything Issue – KJZZ

Katharine Hayhoe never meant to become a climate scientist. In fact, in college she started out studying astrophysics, but she needed one more class to finish her degree, and she found one in the geography department on climate science.

She said taking that class completely changed her perspective. It showed her that climate change isnt an environmental issue its an everything issue.

Since then, Hayoe has dedicated her life to the cause.

Shes now the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, and she was just named a U.N. Champion of the Earth, the United Nations highest environmental honor.

Shes also an evangelical Christian who wrote a book with her husband whos also a pastor called "Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions."

She was in Phoenix for the Geological Society of Americas annual meeting last week. The Show spoke with her about her work and why she calls climate change a threat multiplier.

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Faith And The Environment: Why Climate Change Is An Everything Issue - KJZZ

Galactic gas: A bump in the radio road – Particle

Galactic gas: A bump in the radio road

When you think about the shape of a galaxy, most of us can imagine the Milky Way and its spinning disc of stars.

But where a galaxy ends, theres still a lot of material surrounding it an area referred to as the galactic halo.

Astronomers have been studying these haloes over the years with the hope of learning more about the life cycle of galaxies.

A group of physicists have discovered something unusual about the galactic halo, and it could be a piece in the puzzle of why galaxies stop growing.

Image|J. Josephides, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology.

An artists impression of Fast Radio Burst 181112 travelling through the halo of a galaxy 4 billion light-years from Earth.

To explain what was found by this multinational team of astrophysicists, we first need to talk about fast radio bursts (FRBs).

FRBs are powerful flashes of energy from deep space that appear for mere milliseconds in our night sky.

Depending on what these bursts pass through as you can see in the video below the light can arrive distorted in a variety of ways.

In November 2018, an FRB was detected that had passed through a galaxy 4 billion light years away.

This burst was picked up by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope in outback Western Australia.

When this burst passed through the galaxy, researchers expected the wild and stormy gases in its galactic halo would distort the signal.

What they found instead was a tranquil sea of gas surrounding the galaxy.

Video|CSIRO/ICRAR/OzGrav/Swinburne University of Technology.

A fast radio burst leaves a distant galaxy, travelling to Earth over billions of years and occasionally passing through clouds of gas in its path

Galactic haloes have always been difficult to study, according to astrophysicist Associate Professor Jean-Pierre Macquart.

The halo of gas can actually extend out 10 times further than the stars in a galaxy and can contain a substantial amount of the matter thats in a galaxy, he says.

But its very difficult to see the gas directly with a telescope.

Jean-Pierre is from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), which manages ASKAP, and is a co-author of the study.

The study brought together astronomers from around the world with researchers from Australia, Japan, Korea, America and Chile.

He says the research team looked at how a single FRB distorted as it travelled 5 billion light years through the universe.

They believed the signal would be distorted by the galactic halo, much in the same way heat can cause air to shimmer.

Thats what we thought would happen that the signal from the fast radio burst would be completely distorted after passing through the hot atmosphere of the galaxy, says Jean-Pierre.

But instead of the stormy galactic weather we were expecting, the pulse we observed had travelled through a calm sea of unperturbed gas.

It means these gas haloes could be a lot less turbulent than astronomers thought, with less density and magnetisation.

Image|OzGrav, Swinburne University of Technology.

An artists impression of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

University of California Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics J. Xavier Prochaska led the research and says halo gas has a similar use to fossil records only on a galactic scale.

Our observations can inform theories about how matter is ejected and how magnetic fields are transported from the galaxy, he says.

Our research appears to reveal something entirely new about galactic haloes.

Unless of course, this galaxy happens to be just some weird exception and with only one object, you cant be sure about that.

Finding another FRB which has travelled through a galaxys halo is the next big test.

And if we find the same results, it could help us figure out why galaxies suddenly stop growing.

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Galactic gas: A bump in the radio road - Particle

‘Ad Astra’ is enjoyable, but fails to deliver on many expectations – The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

'Ad Astra' is an unique popcorn flick packed with adventure, excitement and drama.

By Jeffrey Epro, Collegian CorrespondentOctober 1, 2019

Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, has been hailed as this years Interstellar. I walked into the theater expecting to be blown away with lots of science, character development and philosophical-thought-fostering questions. But out of all three, Ad Astra only delivers on one, maybe two and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The opening scene is of Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) giving a meaningful monologue about his mission. Cosmic rays have been blasting the Earth from an unknown origin outside of Saturn. As McBride is en route to repair external damage of the satellite, he is hit yet again by another cosmic blast. It seems he is doomed, but he stays calm in the face of adversity. He becomes focused, analyzing the situation he is in and does everything in his power to stay conscious during his descent to Earth. After recovering from his fall, he is enlisted by the space agency yet again this time to travel to Mars and send a message to Neptune in hopes of establishing contact with his long-lost father, played by Tommy Lee Jones.

It is unfair to walk into Ad Astra with hopes of feeling scientifically satisfied. Even though the film is branded as a science fiction movie, director James Gray only puts emphasis on the fiction aspect of this genre. The science of Ad Astra, whether it be astrophysics or space travel, could have been written by a middle-schooler in a creative writing class, to the point where it is almost insulting. It feels like the writers made a conscious decision to involve as little science as possible. In one scene, while Clifford McBride is gathering himself in the safety of a spaceship traveling to another planet, his fellow astronauts are seen in the background amusing themselves by playing with food in zero gravity. Their whole purpose of this scene is to see the astronauts play with their food and laugh about it. Other examples include impossible zero gravity leaps from spacecraft to spacecraft, characters not being ripped apart by space shrapnel and space monkeys. Science and the accuracy of space travel wasnt just set on the back burner in this film, it never made it on the grill.

Despite failing to live up the science that is expected with a space movie, Ad Astra uses the genre of science fiction as a medium to convey a story. What makes science fiction unique is that it allows storytellers to explore ideas otherwise unavailable in other genres, such as infinite, extraterrestrial life and time dissonance. One might claim that the genre of fantasy or fiction can accomplish the same goal in expressing abstract ideas, but science fiction is different in the way that it involves modernity. The presence of political turmoil and social commentary enrich the world-building of Ad Astra.

Theres plenty of common genre tropes that are present in the movie. The only reason that there is even a resemblance of meaningful character development is because of the monologues delivered in the form of video transmissions and journal entries. Without these, the intentions and thoughts of the main character McBride would be completely unknown and viewers would be devoid of any sympathy for the characters in this film. At some points in the film I had to wonder if McBride was actually a superhero because of his robust showcase of strength and intelligence. His ability to make all the right decisions is astonishing, but he is emotionally unavailable due to trauma hes experienced as a young child. This internal struggle aims to be the heart of the film.

McBride is a textbook astronaut hero. It almost seems like propaganda at some points with how well Brad Pitt personifies a perfect American astronaut. Despite this, it is still entertaining to watch. McBride has never had his heartbeat break 80 BPM while hes in the field on a mission. He has a wife, but remains detached so his emotions do not impede his decision-making. He has dedicated his life to space. He lives by the Latin quote Per aspera ad astra through hardship to the stars.

Gray perfectly captures the essence of space with beautiful cinematic shots expressing the magnitude of the position that these astronauts are in. This is a beautiful constant throughout the movie and reinforces the idea that the astronauts are in a foreign yet shockingly stunning environment. Ad Astra is rife with gorgeous cinematography and production design.

All in all, Ad Astra is a beautiful mess. I didnt get the Interstellar that I was prodded to expect from the trailers, but it had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. If you can look past some of the questionable decisions that the writers made and some glaring plot holes, it is an action-packed and exciting movie to enjoy.

Jeffrey Epro can be reached at [emailprotected]

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'Ad Astra' is enjoyable, but fails to deliver on many expectations - The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

Facebooks is changing how it ranks

There’s an entire spectrum of lies on social media. On one side, there’s the generally inane: Pokémon was designed for Satanists or FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to date a porn star.

And then there are lies that have the potential to literally kill.

Falling into this latter category are the spammy “miracle cures” for everything from cancer to autism that spread like wildfire on sites like Facebook. These “treatments” are ineffective at best and deadly at worst. Now, Facebook is finally trying to do something about them.

On Tuesday, Facebook published a blog post regarding the bogus health content that is now pervasive on the site.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness, and health issues,” Facebook Product Manager Travis Yeh wrote in the post. “But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

To that end, the company updated its ranking algorithms to place two kinds of content lower in people’s News Feeds:

– Sensationalist health posts that make misleading claims or tout “miracle cures,” and

– Posts that use health-related claims to promote products or services, such as weight-loss pills.

As far as sensationalist health posts go, ones hawking bogus weight-loss pills fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum. But Facebook’s also rife with posts encouraging people to forgo proven cancer treatments in favor of worthless home remedies. Incredibly dangerous “autism cures” advising parents to force their children to drink chlorine dioxide, which is essentially industrial bleach, are also popular with Facebook’s users.

[Yeah, you read that correctly: Drinking bleach.]

And do we really need to mention the countless anti-vaccine posts and groups that are contributing to outbreaks of diseases like measles worldwide?

Given the far-reaching implications of this shady health content, Facebook is now under increasing pressure to do something about it — meaning if its newly announced ranking changes can’t effectively stem the medical misinformation tide, it’s going to need to find something else (or someone else) that can.

READ MORE: Facebook, YouTube Overrun With Bogus Cancer-Treatment Claims [The Wall Street Journal]

More on Facebook: Congress Is Deciding Whether to Break up Facebook, Google

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Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Research scientist Janelle Shane trained a naming AI to conjure up new monikers for self-aware spaceships like those in author Iain M. Banks' Culture books.

Ship Shape

Scottish author Iain M. Banks populated his sci-fi Culture book series with humanoid robots, alien races, and artificially intelligent spaceships that chose their own names.

So: Research scientist Janelle Shane thought it would be fun to use those ship names to train a real neural network to — what else? — conjure up new names for self-aware spaceships. The results? Hilarious. Puzzling. Generally? Great.

Name Game

Shane is the same scientist responsible for creating the neural network that bestowed awesome names like “Peanutbutterjiggles” and “Bones of the Master” upon shelter kittens.

This new naming AI is a variation on that one, but instead of training the base neural network, OpenAI’s GPT-2, on cat names, she used a list of 236 spaceship names from Banks’ Culture series.

Ass Federation

Shane lists dozens of the names churned out by the AI on her website, so you’ll have to head there to check them all out, but some of our favorites:

– Friendly Head Crusher
– Mini Cactus Cake Fight
– Happy to Groom Any Animals You Want

But if we’re naming a self-aware spaceship, it’d be hard to pass up the opportunity to go with the complete head-scratcher that is Someone Did Save Your Best Cookie By Post-Apocalyptic Means.

READ MORE: This AI is so goddamn smart, it can name other AIs [The Next Web]

More on naming AI: This Neural Network Gives Kittens A+ Names Like “Mr Sinister”

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This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Here’s How You Can Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

California's Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the total solar eclipse over parts of South America.

Heads up: For approximately four minutes this afternoon, the Moon will block out the Sun over parts of South America — but you don’t need to be in Chile or Argentina to see the stunning spectacle.

California’s Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the eclipse via the video linked below. The coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET, with the eclipse expected to take place between 4:38 p.m. and 4:44 p.m. ET.

If you happen to live within the eclipse’s path, make sure you fight the urge to look directly at the Sun during it as doing so could permanently damage your eyes. Which, yes, happens to people. Quite a bit.

Instead, you’ll want to use your lunch break today to procure a pair of special eclipse glasses. But if that’s not possible, a sheet of paper with a pinhole poked through it is, of course, an acceptable DIY alternative.

READ MORE: Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse Right Here [Gizmodo]

More on eclipses: Watch: What Happened to Solar Power in the US During the Eclipse

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Here’s How You Can Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms

Researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that's so scaled down, it can capture detailed images of individual atoms.

MRI for Ants Atoms

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are great for creating detailed images of a person’s internal organs and tissues.

Using magnets and radio waves, the machines temporarily change how the billions of protons in the person’s body spin. Then they measure and image energy released by these protons once they return to their normal state.

Now, researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that’s so scaled down, it images individual atoms — and the device could help usher in the era of quantum computing.

Honey, I Shrunk the MRI

For their study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Physics, researchers from the United States and South Korea attached magnetized iron atoms to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, a device used to image and probe individual atoms.

They then swept the microscope’s tip over iron and titanium atoms they’d placed on a magnesium oxide surface. This subjected the atoms to a magnetic field that disrupted their electrons. The team then hit the atoms with a radio wave pulse, and the system imaged the energy the electrons subsequently released.

Unprecedented View

The researchers believe this new nanoscale imaging technique could lead to the development of new materials and drugs, as well as the creation of better quantum computing systems.

“We can now see something that we couldn’t see before,” researcher Christopher Lutz told The New York Times. “So our imagination can go to a whole bunch of new ideas that we can test out with this technology.”

READ MORE: World’s smallest MRI performed on single atoms [Institute for Basic Science]

More on quantum computing: Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time

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World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms

NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule Aced Its Abort System Test

NASA tested its Orion spacecraft's Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems the astronaut escape plan worked exactly as hoped.

Orion Exit Strategy

Before NASA can attempt to send astronauts back to the Moon, it needs to know they have a way to GTFO of harm’s way if something goes wrong during the trip.

To that end, the space agency tested its Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems NASA’s astronaut escape plan works exactly as hoped.

Mission Aborted

To start the three-minute-long Ascent Abort-2 test, NASA launched an Orion crew module on a modified Peacekeeper missile built by Northrop Grumman.

Once the pair reached an altitude of about 9.6 kilometers (6 miles), the abort sequence triggered. This sent the crew module blasting away from the rocket and on its journey to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Moving Forward

NASA’s now rounding up the 12 data recorders the crew capsule ejected during its descent so it can analyze the data to confirm that everything went as planned.

At first glance, however, it appears we’re now one step closer to returning humans to the Moon.

“It was a very smooth liftoff,” Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich said in a press release. “By all first accounts, it was magnificent.”

READ MORE: NASA performs successful test of Orion spacecraft launch abort crew escape system [TechCrunch]

More on Orion: Congress Denies NASA Request for More Moon Mission Money

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NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule Aced Its Abort System Test

This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

Researchers built a device small room-sized device that spins willing participants on a giant platform to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity in space.

Weight Gain

You’ve probably seen one featured in a science fiction movie, including “2001: A Space Odyssey” — massive centrifuge-like space stations that spin around a center point to create the sensation of artificial gravity for off-world travelers.

While we have yet to build such a large system in open space, researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder have decided to miniaturize the effect instead, with a device small enough to fit inside a room that spins participants to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity.

Spin Zone

Creating the illusion of gravity could be of great benefit to astronauts struggling with the not-yet-fully-understood effects of microgravity for months at a time.

“The point of our work is to try to get more people to think that maybe artificial gravity isn’t so crazy,” Kathrine Bretl, a graduate student involved in the project said according to a statement. “Maybe it has a place outside of science fiction.”

Vomit Comet

Unfortunately, motion sickness is still as much of a thing here on Earth as it is in space — one of the reasons why scientists have shied away from the idea in the past. The team decided to put that to the test and invite volunteers to spin on their centrifuge for 10 vomit-inducing sessions.

The results were promising: at 17 revolutions per minute, the effect became tolerable over time.

“As far as we can tell, essentially anyone can adapt to this stimulus,” aerospace engineer Torin Clark, who led the team said.

READ MORE: Artificial gravity breaks free from science fiction [University of Colorado at Boulder]

More on the effects of microgravity: Zero Gravity Causes Worrisome Changes In Astronauts’ Brains

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This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed

Astronomers have detected over ten radio bursts from distant galaxies in the last week. The sudden frequency could help us figure out what's causing them.

Spam Calls

Last week, astronomers managed to trace a mysterious, fleeting radio signal back to a distant galaxy. Since then, teams from around the world have tracked down ten more.

The latest was spotted by a team at CalTech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory on Tuesday, according to CNET. Astronomers aren’t positive what’s causing these so-called “Fast Radio Bursts” — there are several plausible non-extraterrestrial-life-related explanations. But these recent signals are a sign that intergalactic radio broadcasts are far more common than scientists previously thought.

Roaming Charges

The radio burst detected at CalTech originated from a galaxy 8 billion light-years away from our own according to research published in the journal Nature — that’s twice the distance that the first radio burst detected last week traveled.

That means that whatever gave off the signal, whether it was activity within a neutron star or potentially some sort of alien life, did so billions of years before our planet even formed. But because these signals are popping up more frequently than ever, astronomers believe they could finally find the culprit.

“Astronomers have been chasing FRBs for a decade now, and we’re finally drawing a bead on them,” CalTech astronomer Vikram Ravi told CNET. “Now we have a chance of figuring out just what these exotic objects might be.”

READ MORE: Another mysterious deep space signal traced to the other side of the universe [CNET]

More on galactic signals: Astronomers Traced a Mysterious Radio Burst to a Distant Galaxy

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Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed

The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay?

The Pentagon wants its own dedicated space station in orbit around the Earth for both scientific research and military operations.

Reaching Out

The U.S. military is in the early stages of sending a self-supporting, autonomous space station into orbit around the Earth.

In its earliest stages, the space station will be small and (literally) inhospitable — the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) wants a dedicated orbital platform from which to conduct scientific experiments, reports Breaking Defense. But in the long run, the DIU has tentative plans to upgrade the station so it can support life, which would give the government the unsettling ability to keep militarized crews operating in space.

Building Blocks

According to the DIU’s call for contractors to design the space station, the orbital outpost needs to be entirely self-sufficient, and employ artificial intelligence to operate and steer itself in space.

But the solicitation also calls for a minimum internal volume of one cubic meter and the capability to endure zero to one atmospheres of pressure — not exactly the specs of the Death Star.

Prototype

The director of DIU’s Space Portfolio, Col. Steve Butow, told Breaking Defense that the organization is more interested in laying out the basic groundwork of a dedicated orbital platform for the Pentagon — upgrades for specific military applications can always come later.

“In short, we are casting a wide net for commercial solutions that can meet the basic needs described in the first part of the solicitation (autonomous/robotic, etc),” Butow emailed to Breaking Defense. Here’s hoping whichever contractor gets the job remembers to cover up those pesky exhaust ports.

READ MORE: Pentagon Eyes Military Space Station [Breaking Defense]

More on space warfare: India Just Announced That It’s Developing Space Weapons

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The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay?

Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables

A Russian sub caught fire on Monday, killing 14 sailors — and Russia won't say what kind of sub it was or what it was doing near the ocean floor.

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

Spy Mission

Russian media outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta have both cited anonymous sources who claim the submarine was a Losharik, and while the sub has been in operation since 2003, Russia has never come out and declared its official purpose.

That hasn’t stopped the U.S. and other Western officials from conjecturing about it, though.

For years, they’ve warned that Russia has been surveying undersea cables, and experts have called out the Losharik by name as possibly playing a role in future missions to disrupt those cables.

Radiation Situation

Of course, there’s another possible reason for Russia’s lack of openness about Monday’s incident: if the Russian sub was a Losharik, that means a nuclear-powered craft just caught fire.

On Tuesday, Norwegian authorities reported that they hadn’t detected any abnormal radiation in the area of the fire. But the fact that Russia itself hasn’t released a similar statement is cause for serious concern, according to Russian news site The Bell.

“Nearly a day without information about the accident in a nuclear facility and the need to look out for Norwegian statements about the level of radiation should have given a shudder to those who remember the Chernobyl nuclear power station,” the site wrote about the fire, according to Reuters.

READ MORE: Russia accused of cover-up over lethal submarine fire [Reuters]

More on undersea cables: Google’s Next Subsea Internet Cable to Connect Africa and Europe

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What Do a Toy Store and a Tech Accelerator Have in Common? Cloud-Based Tech.

Your Clouds Can (YCC) 2019 was an immersive experience unlike any conference. Its purpose? To understand how seemingly traditional businesses can utilize data and cloud based technology to reimagine themselves and grow.

On June 5th, Futurism and IBM took attendees on a journey – but, unlike traditional conferences, they brought the audience members directly to the speakers’ headquarters. They immersed the attendees into the culture, attitudes, and atmospheres of these innovative companies to give them a deeper understanding of these tools, and how they can be applied to attendees’ businesses.

Attendees and hosts alike enjoyed conversations, not presentations, and dialogues, not monologues. On-site and hands-on, attendees went behind the curtain at each stop on this innovation tour to fully investigate and discover exactly how each of these companies are leveraging data and technology for growth.

YCC attendees were guided through experiences and discussions at four NYC companies actively innovating and changing the landscape of their industries. The first stop and breakfast was at CAMP, a brand new retail venture at the cross section of toy stores and playgrounds. CAMP uses technology and data to improve the speed and accuracy of merchandising decisions, allowing them to transform their retail environment three to four times a year based on the interests of their customers and cultural trends.

Next, guests toured BuzzFeed and learned how they leverage data-driven insights generated from their millions of readers to develop brand new products and campaigns for clients. Jake Bronstein, VP of Innovation at BuzzFeed, spoke about their unique sprint process with their editorial and data teams: “We have a big preference for test and learn, there’s no one model,” Bronstein said. “What does our audience need? How do we make that happen?”

Afterwards guests visited LivePerson, and learned how their AI-powered conversational platform is transforming customer engagement into a source of competitive advantage. As pioneers in live chat, LivePerson gave an inside look at how companies like GEICO and The Cosmopolitan are communicating with their customers using AI to create meaningful differentiated experiences.  

Finally, the day concluded at Betaworks, a tenacious tech company running accelerators and designing communities at their new membership club in NYC’s Meatpacking District.  Here a panel of start-up veterans and leaders discussed how to scale innovative ideas faster through cloud and other technologies. To close the day, Krissi Xenakis, Design Lead for the IBM Garage, explained how IBM teaches companies to iterate, experiment, build, and develop, using a design thinking approach that fosters the type of innovation seen at CAMP, BuzzFeed and LivePerson.  “What’s the smallest thing we can build that tests the greatest risk of our innovation? We need to test that the assumptions about our user are accurate and meaningful.” she said.

Through out the day, attendees were able to have breakout sessions in transit between locations to collectively digest and discuss what they had learned.. Make no mistake, this was not awkward attempts at networking. This was natural conversation, fun and insightful, made casual through the immersive, traveling nature of the conference itself.

The vibe of learning and discussion is palpably different when caravaning from location to location, company to company. Vlad Shenderovich, Director of Operations, LOLI Beauty agreed, saying, “it breaks the traditional format. I like that it’s interactive, focuses on the audience and not just the panelists so you’re able to see, interact, engage and ask questions.” 

That is what makes YCC unique and rewarding. Not everyone gets to enjoy lunch on BuzzFeed’s terrace or tour Betaworks Studios’ private membership club. It’s more than just access, it’s an insider’s peek into the technology, ideas and culture that drive the business innovation and success. 

Visit YourCloudsCan.com to see videos of what you missed and sign up to be the first to know about future events. Will you join us for the ride at the next YCC?

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with IBM, who sponsored this post. They help us keep the lights on. This post does not reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

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White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars

Eleven companies have teamed up to create

As nice as it’d be to have the option of catching up on some reading — or sleep — while an autonomous vehicle drives you to work, the real draw of self-driving cars is the idea that they’ll be safer drivers than whoever just cut you off in the exit lane with inches to spare. After all, if the vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, taking humans out of the equation should save lives, right?

In theory, sure. But in practice? Only if we can build autonomous vehicles safer than, well, the average driver. And right now, the entire auto industry is approaching that same goal from countless directions, and no one even knows what the measure of success is — or should — be.

To bring some orderliness to this currently chaotic situation, a group of 11 companies, including Intel, Audi, and Volkswagen, teamed up to publish a white paper titled “Safety First for Automated Driving,” an exhaustive guide to developing safe autonomous vehicles.

The 146-page-long document’s centerpiece are twelve guiding principles detailing the various capabilities a self-driving car must have before it can be considered “safe.” Here’s a quick primer on each of them.

Safe Operation: An autonomous vehicle must be able to cope with the loss of any of its critical components.

Safety Layer: The self-driving car must know its own limits and understand when it’s safe to return control to the human driver.

Operational Design Domain (ODD): The autonomous vehicle must be prepared to assess the risks of typical driving situations.

Behavior in Traffic: The car’s behavior needs to be predictable to other drivers on the road, and it needs to act according to traffic rules.

User Responsibility: The vehicle needs to be able to recognize a driver’s state of alertness and communicate to them any tasks for which they are responsible.

Vehicle-Initiated Handover: Autonomous vehicles must be able to let drivers know when they need to takeover and make it easy for them to do so. If a takeover request is ignored, the vehicle also needs to have a way to cope with the situation while minimizing risk.

Driver-Initiated Handover: The driver needs to have a way to explicitly ask to take over operation of the self-driving car.

Effects of Automation: An autonomous vehicle must consider how automation could affect the driver even directly after the period of automated driving is over.

Safety Assessment: There needs to be a consistent way to verify and validate the autonomous vehicle’s ability to meet safety goals.

Data Recording: If the self-driving car recognizes an event or incident, it needs to be able to record relevant data in a way that doesn’t violate applicable data privacy laws.

Security: Safe autonomous vehicles will need to have some protection against security threats.

Passive Safety: The self-driving car needs to be prepared for any crash scenarios that might be unique to vehicle automation.

This all sounds well and good. Accomplishing all — let alone most, or even a majority — of these goals is going to be another matter.

Notably, a few major companies and tech players are missing from the list of people who assembled this list (i.e., Tesla, Waymo, et al). Hard not to wonder why: Maybe these companies, all of whom are seemingly behind in the race for self-driving vehicles, are looking to assemble some common ground to edge their behemoth competition out of (or maybe they simply have other ideas about safety).

Whatever the case may be, the autonomous road race won’t be won by anybody who doesn’t adhere to these concepts if they become law — in other words, consider this just another in a long series of shots in the war to earn pole position.

READ MORE: 11 companies propose guiding principles for self-driving vehicles [VentureBeat]

More on autonomous vehicles: This Guide Could Dictate How Cops Handle Autonomous Car Crashes

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White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars

The Era of Sex for Reproduction Is Coming to an End, Says Author

Once the cost of testing an embryo for genetic conditions drops, most parents will forgo traditional reproduction, according to author Henry T. Greely.

The Sex Talk

Henry T. Greely is the director of Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, as well as its Program in Neuroscience and Society. Clearly, the guy knows a thing or two about technology and the role it plays in people’s lives — and he’s now predicting that technological advances will one day make sex for reproduction a thing of the past.

“My strongest prediction is in the future people will still have sex – but not as often for the purpose of making babies,” Greely, who published a book titled “The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction,” told the BBC. “In 20 to 40 years, most people all over the world with good health coverage will choose to conceive in a lab.”

Test Tube Babies

In the four decades since the birth of the first “test tube baby,” more than 8 million people have been born via in vitro fertilization.

Today, parents producing some of those children are choosing to have their fertilized embryos undergo preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) prior to transfer into a uterus. This involves doctors removing cells from the embryos to see if a child would inherit any problematic genes from the parents.

Healthy Offspring

PGD gives parents the option of using only problem-free embryos for IVF, and according to Greely, once it’s more affordable and available, many parents will choose PGD over reproducing the old fashioned way.

“Like most things, there will be a fair amount of visceral negative reaction initially,” he told the BBC, before adding that public acceptance will come once parents realize that PGD children aren’t born with “two heads and a tail.”

READ MORE: Are we set for a new sexual revolution? [BBC]

More on the future of sex: Sex Researchers: For Many, Virtual Lovers Will Replace Humans

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The Era of Sex for Reproduction Is Coming to an End, Says Author

A Physicist and His Son Are 3D-Printing a Full-Scale Lamborghini

Physicist Sterling Backus is 3D printing a full-scale Lamborghini Aventador-inspired supercar in his own backyard with the help of his son.

Lambo 3D

Fifteen years ago, the Motion Picture Association of America released an anti-piracy public service announcement — that has since turned into a meme — aimed at those who illegally downloaded media online.

“You wouldn’t steal a car,” a message read during the opening credits of most commercial DVDs at the time.

Now, 3D printing could make the silly message a reality. Physicist Sterling Backus is 3D printing a full-scale Lamborghini Aventador-inspired supercar in his own backyard, as 3D Printing Media Network reports. He and his son have been working on the project for almost a year and a half. Sterling has already put about $20,000 into the project.

Print “Car”

The duo printed the body panels, taillights, headlights, and even air vents from a variety of plastics. To ensure the car was safe to drive, Backus wrapped some of the printed parts in carbon fiber.

The car is technically not made up of 3D printed parts in its entirety, though: the engine, chassis and other structural pieces were gathered separately.

“Our objective became showing the car off at the local schools as a STEAM project, to get kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math,” Backus told 3D Printing Media Network.

Backyard Supercar

And no, it’s not piracy, according to Sterling.

“The parts’ design is based on the Lamborghini Aventador, but we have changed each panel significantly, to add our design flair,” Backus added. “In addition, no molds are made, and none are for sale. This is a one only project, and not for sale.”

READ MORE: You too could now 3D print a Lamborghini Aventador at home [3D Printing Media Network]

More on 3D printing: These Scientists Are 3D-Printing New Body Parts for Athletes

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A Physicist and His Son Are 3D-Printing a Full-Scale Lamborghini

AI Poised to Ruin Internet Using “Massive Tsunami” of Fake News

AI tools like GROVER are very good at flooding the internet with fake news and spam. The solution may come in the form of smarter Google filters.

Spam City

New tools can recreate a human’s face and or writer’s voice to frightening levels of accuracy.

Among the most concerning of these is the deceivingly-adorably-named GROVER a fake news-writing bot that people have used the tool to make blogs and even entire subreddits illustrate the problems AI-written news can pose to the world. Do not let the adorable blue namesake puppet on the first page of the white paper fool you — this thing is freaky.

And it could just be the beginning. Tools like GROVER could create “a massive tsunami of computer-generated content across every niche imaginable,” Kristin Tynski of the marketing agency Fractl told The Verge.

Cat, Meet Mouse

When Futurism first spotted “This Marketing Blog Doesn’t Exist,” a Fractl-owned website that used GROVER to churn out fake articles about things like search engine optimization and Instagram marketing, we urged readers to pay closer attention to the information they read online.

While GROVER isn’t perfect by any means, it’s definitely good enough to convince the casual reader who isn’t scrutinizing every word they read.

BattleBots

Google and other AI developers have their work cut out for them when faced with AI-written spam that’s likely to flood the internet as people chase down that sweet, sweet advertising revenue cash.

“Because [AI systems] enable content creation at essentially unlimited scale, and content that humans and search engines alike will have difficulty discerning… we feel it is an incredibly important topic with far too little discussion currently,” Tynski told The Verge.

READ MORE: Endless AI-generated spam risks clogging up Google’s search results [The Verge]

More on GROVER: New AI Generates Infinite Horrible Marketing Sites

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AI Poised to Ruin Internet Using “Massive Tsunami” of Fake News

CRISPR Helps Scientists Cure HIV In Living Animals For First Time

Using a combination of CRISPR and antiretroviral therapy, researcher eliminated the HIV virus from the genomes of mice engineered to produce human T cells.

One-Two Combo

For the first time, researchers have eliminated HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from the genomes of living animals — a major accomplishment along the path to freeing the world of this deadly disease.

For the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center started by engineering mice to produce human T cells susceptible to HIV infection.

After they infected the mice, they used a therapeutic strategy known as long-acting slow-effective release antiretroviral therapy (LASER ART) to suppress HIV replication within the animals.

Finally, the researchers used CRISPR to remove HIV DNA from the infected cells.

From Mice to Humans

When the researchers later analyzed the mice, they found that about one-third of the animals showed no signs of HIV.

They are now eager to test their combination LASER ART/CRISPR therapy in non-human primates — and if those trials go well, human trials could kick off within the year, researcher Kamel Khalili said in a press release.

However, while the team is optimistic, it’s also aware that it has a lot of ground to cover between mice and humans.

“Things that work in mice, may not work in men,” researcher Howard Gendelman told CNBC. “The limitations of any mouse work have to do with the species, how the drug is administered, the distribution, which is a lot easier than a man or a woman.”

READ MORE: Researchers say they’re closer to finding cure for HIV after using CRISPR technology to eliminate disease in live mice for the first time [CNBC]

More on HIV: First-of-Its-Kind HIV Therapy Draws out the Virus, Then Kills It

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CRISPR Helps Scientists Cure HIV In Living Animals For First Time


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