Category Archives: Science

US Only Country at G20 Not to Back Paris Climate Accord

President Donald Trump was the only person at the G20 summit in Argentina not to sign an agreement to uphold the Paris Climate Accord, but he and 19 other countries did sign an agreement committing to reform global trade.

It is well known that the president does not believe in climate change as shown by numerous tweets, but this is a firm committment to his campaign promise that said he would leave the agreement, which he did just last year.

However, in a huge win for the president, he was able to get an agreement on trade that more or less stated a need for reform. This agreement called for the reforming of the World Trade Organization. A topic of Trump’s campaign was that the United States has been treated unfairly by multiple countries in trade agreements.

The White House is treating the G20 as a victory for the president as he was able to achieve a better deal for the United States.

President Trump had to cut his visit short due to the death of former president George H.W. Bush on Friday.  He and the First Lady are planning on going to the funeral, which is to be held next week.

Trump has made it clear to the entire world that the United States will not be a part of the climate accord and the question now is: Will the Paris Climate Accord succeed without the United States?

Continue reading US Only Country at G20 Not to Back Paris Climate Accord

Trump Administration Releases Report on Climate Change

A new report on climate change released by the U.S. Government shows not only that climate change is very real but it is also going to have dire effects on our economy.

The report, which was released on Friday, was due in December but was released early as Americans were distracted by family, friends, shopping, and good food.

The report states that if the United States was unable to change its course, the economy could lose over 10% of its GDP in a worst-case scenario.

This report only comes days after a tweet from the President asking what happened to global warming after most Americans across the nation experienced record-breaking cold weather.

However, as explained in most reports, a “record-breaking weather event” like the one on Thanksgiving is nothing compared to the yearly average, which shows humans are dealing with warming conditions.

As of right now, the top countries in the world, better known as the G20, are not reaching climate targets, according to research done by Climate Transparency.

Without any serious prevention or attempts to reduce our greenhouse emissions, the average global temperatures will rise over 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century.

We know that rising temperatures can have negative effects on our farming production and our health. We will be unable to work some days due to temperatures being too high, which will result in deaths to the lack of food and water.

We have been taught this many times in science class, and it is up to us to make sure that our children have a planet to live on by 2100.

Progress of Programs: The Rise of Small Productions

In the distant past of 1995, the first fully computer-generated animation film fell with style in to the laps of a generation; that movie was Toy Story.

This particular film was created in what Pixar referred to as their processor farm, because the machines would literally make animal noises when one finished a frame.

Just as with the rest of technology, we have progress very far in the 23 years since Toy Story.

What was once a process consuming hundreds of thousands of dollars and taking more man hours than fixing a city street, we can now do on tablets no bigger than a standard notebook.  

Two little words make this concept of computer animation for the every man possible: Open Source.

These programs, available online and often completely free, give creators the chance to stand among titans of production industry, like Disney and Pixar.

Truly this is the age of “where there’s a will there’s a way” for those with the will to create their own animation.

One program, however, is leading the charge for this movement: Blender, from the Blender Foundation, a dutch public-benefit corporation.  

You may be asking yourself, why Blender specifically? Surely there are other programs? But Blender has a couple of examples that really set it in the forefront of this movement.

The smaller of the two is a short film directed by Daniel M. Lara, and it is the 6th short film funded by the Blender Cloud. The beauty of this film is it shows off how even if your wanting to make 2D animation you can with this program.

Traditionally, most animation does need to be created nearly frame by frame. Often we allow for reusable resources like backgrounds or make minimal changes while leaving most of the frame static.

The main reason is consistency in as many aspects as we can, barring an artistic form of design or direction. Using a 3D animation setup, certain things like character orientation or spatial recognition within environments.  

While using Blender for 2D animation is very doable and has its advantages, the program was designed for 3D animation primarily.

The second film that shows us the tangible power of Blender on a few different levels is the film Next Gen created by a few studios hailing from China, Canada, and the U.S.A, but helmed by Netflix.

The reason this film is so important right now is that ninety-five percent of the animation used was Blender.

From a business standpoint that is super smart as getting Adobe Animate for a studio of around ten computers/tablets for animating would run you $2039.40 before tax.

Also that’s just the one program if you need others like Photoshop the costs begin to pile up quickly given the number of animators, foley artists, directors, musicians, and the numerous other employees you still need to pay.  

Next Gen is something to look towards as animators for seeing just how far you can get with this free program. Given some mid-grade hardware individuals can produce excellent quality films.

Though studios under Netflix do have an advantage over indie productions given that their animators get paid and have more time to devote strictly to production.

However, like I said at the beginning, where there is a will, there is a way. Remember, passion is the life blood of creation, and for those passionate enough the tools are before you. What will you create? 

 

On Toy Story: 

https://medium.com/the-mission/the-story-behind-the-toy-story-e660368bd0db 

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-toy-story-anniversary-20150930-story.html 

https://www.theverge.com/2015/3/17/8229891/sxsw-2015-toy-story-pixar-making-of-20th-anniversary 

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/production-begins-on-toy-story 

 

On Blender: 

https://www.blender.org/about/ 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKmSdY56VtY     Hero – made with blender’s grease pencil 

 

 

 

A Setback to Keystone XL Pipeline in Court

A judge has ruled that the Trump Administration has not presented a “reasoned explanation” for continuing the Keystone pipeline project. The administration also “simply discarded” evidence that said the pipeline could have a negative effect on the climate. As a result, the Keystone XL pipeline project has been halted for the time being.

Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court in Montana blocked the construction of the 1,179 mile pipeline that would push oil from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast. For the past decade, the project has been halted and fought in the courts.

This decision will lead to a legal battle over climate change and global warming, which the president has described as “fake news.”

President Trump, as he was leaving the White House to travel to France for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, said to reporters, “I think it’s a disgrace,” when asked about the decision regarding the pipeline.

While experts have said that the pipeline would not have an effect on jobs or climate change, people have fought against the pipeline since George W. Bush was in office back in 2008.

Mark Squillace, an expert on environmental law at the University of Colorado Law School, said to the New York Times that the Trump Administration has not done a good job dealing with the findings of the previous administration (Obama). Squillace noted that political stances can change, but one thing that won’t is how you get from “point A to point B.”

While there are plenty of options to appeal, oppressors of the project are celebrating the win, after a decade-long battle against the pipeline, which is mostly completed.

This could be only the beginning of a very long court battle that most likely may reach the Supreme Court.

Mission Abort: ISS in Danger of Being Abandoned

On Thursday, a Soyuz rocket carrying an American and a Russian had to abort its mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station after the rocket suffered a failure that resulted in an emergency landing.

Astronauts Alexei Ovchinin and Nick Hague were the men who made the emergency landing. According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, both men were very calm in the moment.  Bridenstine did have one communication issue with the astronauts as Hague was speaking in Russian to Bridenstine.

The International Space Station

The rocket, which was meant to go to the International Space Station, failed only two minutes after launch. The capsule fell at an altitude of 31 miles, which caused the men to experience gravitational forces 6-7 times the amount felt on Earth.

The failed attempt was the first manned mission for Russia in nearly three decades, although Russia has had to deal with failed missions involving unmanned missions.

Investigators are looking into why the spacecraft failed. Bridenstine has stated another mission, which involves taking a crew to the ISS in December, may be delayed.

The current crew at ISS which includes an American, a Russian, and a German, is scheduled to leave the space station in December. They could stay at the ISS until next year if needed, according to a Russian official.

If a crew cannot be brought to the ISS by the time the current crew leaves, the ISS may be abandoned for the time period.  That would be the first time since its launch in 1998. The ISS is expected to be fully operational until 2028.

Michael May Be Over But Devastation Lies Throughout US

Just days after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida, residents are returning to what is left of their homes. Here are the latest updates on the storm that damaged the East Coast.

Hurricane Michael was originally going to be a strong category 3 hurricane. By the time it hit Florida, Michael was one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States, with a pressure of 919 mbar and winds of 155 mph. This hurricane was only 2 mph away from a category 5, which is the most powerful hurricane, according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

As of Saturday, 19 people were killed directly because of the hurricane and tropical storm. That number includes 6 that were killed in Virginia. The most notable death was Lt. Brad Clark of  Hanover County Fire Department and EMS. Lt. Clark, 43, and three other firefighters who survived were responding to an accident on I295 when a vehicle, driven by Lester Labarge of California, Maryland, crashed into the firetruck, killing Lt. Clark and injuring two others. Labarge, 49, has been charged with reckless driving and cited with defective brakes according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

As for the currently low death rate, the areas that were hit in Florida have a low population compared to Katrina, which made landfall in New Orleans in 2005.

As for Florida, the recovery process has just begun for the Sunshine State. People have started to pick up the pieces of their lives as they fight to get food and water. The Florida National Guard and numerous volunteer groups have been trying to provide as much water and food as possible, while the rebuild has not started yet. Florida Governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott calls the area hit hardest by Michael “a war zone.”

The hardest hit areas in Florida are Bay County and Mexico Beach. According to the head of FEMA, Brock Long, those areas are not safe to return to as of now and won’t be safe to return to for a while.

If you want to help with the Michael recovery efforts in Florida, the American Red Cross, World Hope International, and many other organizations have set up web pages so you can donate.

 

Another one! Hurricane Michael takes aim to US

Oh boy. We have another hurricane that has taken aim to the United States with the possibility of the storm hitting Radford University.

Hurricane Michael as of Monday 8:00pm is a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph and it is currently moving 12 mph north, heading towards Cuba. Hurricane winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center while tropical storm-force winds can extend outward up to 175 miles. These numbers are according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of right now as well, Michael is expected not to move much as it gathers strength in the Gulf of Mexico

As of right now, Florida and Alabama have declared state of emergencies while numerous other states are montoring the path the hurricane might take. As with the last major hurricane, Florence, no one is able to take an exact prediction on where the hurricane is going to hit.

As for us here in Radford, really the only thing we can do as of right now is to montior the storm and its path, and to hope for the best for those in path of the storm.

In Florida, multiple schools and universities have closed for the rest of the week while businesses will stay open until the evacuation orders are made by the governor.

Hurricane Michael according to NHC has the potential to reach category 3 levels which would be devastating to areas in a flood plain or poorer areas of Florida and Cuba.

Keep up with your local TV stations and/or The Weather Channel for up to date information on Michael’s track towards the United States as it gets closer to impact.

 

 

What If We Only Used Wind Energy?

It has become common knowledge of the lack of sustainability in humanity’s current answers to meeting energy needs. Eventually, we as a species will run out of those resources upon which we rely. For this reason, scientists have been looking for renewable resources that work, and would provide the world with a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Among these ideas, wind power has done very well for us in certain areas. However, on its own, even a resource as plentiful as wind may not help us.

A study done by Harvard University applied physicists, Lee Miller and David Keith, found that if the United States was able to produce 0.46 terawatts of electric power (the amount currently used) using just wind turbines, that area would be much warmer than normal.

Miller and Keith were able to do this study using a parallel world between the years of 2012-2014. They made the central United States as location of the 0.46 terawatt wind farm.  They found that the center of where the huge wind farm would be, the temperatures would rise as much as 1 degree Celsius or about 2 or 3  degrees Fahrenheit give or take. The temperature in the United States would rise 0.24 degrees which is would about a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase. The 0.24 figure is figure of our current rise temperatures. By 2030, the United States’ average temperature would have risen 0.24 degree Celsius.

Wind turbines peek above the low clouds, providing clean, renewable energy and a path forward… but even they can’t be the only way to a sustainable tomorrow.

To put into perspective how wind turbines could affect something as drastic as the weather, turbines alter the climate by increasing the atmospheric mixing that is within the boundary layer–the layer of our atmosphere just above the Earth’s surface. Numerous turbines would pull the warmer air from the boundary layer’s upper part down towards the cooler air.

The turbines would also redistribute moisture and heat. According to another recent study featured in Science News, it was found that a wind farm with the amount of terawatts required by the United States could result in more precipitation and vegetation in the Sahara Desert itself.

In the end, the temperature rise with the wind farm would be spontaneous, but it would still take a century to even see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to even counteract the rise in heat from the turbines.

While this study scenario is very unlikely, getting rid of fossil fuels altogether would need a mixture of wind, solar, and geothermal energy sources (and maybe even nuclear), and as we all know, a reduction in fossil fuels would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

While having a single massive wind farm may answer the call for better renewable energy sources, it is ofttimes worth taking a step back to see if something new could be even more disastrous than the status quo. While wind energy may not be a singular savior, it nonetheless will continue to help in humanity’s way towards a greener tomorrow.

Australia is on Pace to Eliminate Cervical Cancer

Most people may have heard about certain vaccines that have come close to eradicating diseases, such as Smallpox. Cancer, however, has long been a different story. While cancer is technically considered a disease, it is more accurately described as runaway cellular reproduction with no known cure as now. One country, however, may have found a way to eliminate a certain type of cancer through vaccines.

In a new study released by the Lancet Public Health, it was found that by 2028, only 4 in every 100,000 women could be diagnosed with cervical cancer annually in Australia, which would eliminate the disease as a public health issue, and by 2066, researchers say that less than one woman per year could receive the bad news.

The reason for results like these is because of a government program encouraging parents to get a vaccine for the cancer-causing human Papillomavirus (HPV) for their children.

Karen Canfell, the Director of Cancer Research at Cancer Council NSW, the organization which has produced the findings, said to the New York Times, “I think this shows the way forward for other countries.”

Australia started the vaccination program in 2007 as a three-dose course for teenage girls that was cost-free to families. In 2013, the program was expanded to school-age boys. Though relatively unaffected, boys can be carriers and transmit the disease to others. Boys can also develop other forms of cancer if they have HPV.

This has led to a 77% reduction in the types of HPV that are most responsible for cervical cancer.

While the success of the vaccine has resulted in reduction of cases involving cervical cancer, it is still the fourth most common form of cancer in women in the world today and an additional 570,000 cases are expected in just this year.

In the United States, the rate of teens that are vaccinated is only 49%, while countries like Japan are far, far fewer thanks to fear campaigns like those that say that autism comes from vaccines, which has been proven wrong quite a few times now.

The best way to think of this is that if you are young enough to get a vaccination, you should. It will reduce the risk of getting certain types of cancer and improve your life span.

The search for Planet X leads to an amazing discovery

Ever since the discovery of Pluto by Clyde W. Tombaugh in 1930, scientists have been on the search for anything beyond what seemed to be our solar system’s outermost member. Apart from a few moons, and then a 2006 decision that reclassified Pluto as a dwarf-planet, there has not been much information on finding “Planet X.” Well, not until this past week.

An artist's concept of what "the Goblin" might look like in space. Photo from earthsky.org
An artist’s concept of what “the Goblin” might look like in space. Photo from earthsky.org

In new research led by the Carnegie Institution for Science found a extremely distant object that is billions of miles away from Pluto. The object has a orbit that leaves hints of maybe more objects like “Planet X” or a planet that is Earth like.

The object, which is now has the nickname “The Goblin” is only 200 miles wide. The scientific name of the object is the very boring, 2015 TG387. Names like those are usually given to asteroids. The object is almost 8 billion miles away from the Sun. In comparsion, Pluto is two and a half times closer to the Sun.

David Tholen of the University of Hawaii and a member of the Carnegie Institution’s research team said to USA Today, “We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the solar system’s fringes, but their distance makes finding them very difficult.”

Telescopes from the United States and even as far as Chile were used to determine the location of “the Goblin” and 12 additional moons of Jupiter that were previous unknown.

Research like this could lead to the discovery of either another inhabitable planet or a “Super Earth” that could support life in our Solar System.

 

The Fight Against Alzheimer’s to Get Much Harder

By 2060, expect the number of cases of Alzheimer’s to have tripled unless some unlikely events happen, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here's some signs to see if someone you know might have Alzheimer's. By the way, do you notice a misspelled word. Photo from share.upmc.com
Here’s some signs to see if someone you know might have Alzheimer’s. By the way, do you notice a misspelled word. Photo from share.upmc.com

As of 2018, over 5 million people are currently battling the common form of dementia  in the United States alone. That means that out of 100 people you know, one of them will most likely have contracted Alzheimer’s in their lifetime. With those chances it is still difficult to determine who is going to develop the disease, and as life expectancy increases, so too do cases of Alzheimer’s.

In a statement to NBC news, the CDC said that “CDC researchers predict that Hispanic Americans will have the largest projected increase due to population growth over the projection period.”

The CDC also stated that the people aged 65 years or older in the United States are expected to have doubled by the year of 2060. Their report was published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The population with the highest current percentage of Alzheimer’s are African Americans, with 13.8 percent of people older than 65 affected by the disease. Hispanic Americans are a close second with 12 percent, and whites have over 10 percent affected.

As of now, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, which has become the fifth most common cause of death for Americans over the age of 65. Indeed, the neurologically-degenerating disease does not even have treatment methods to slow its progress. However, the slow and long process to even begin treatment is going on in labs across the nation.

Time will only tell if there’s any progress on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Notable News in Science From This Summer

While everyone was enjoying their vacation, including the staff here at Whim, science didn’t take a break for anybody. Here are some of the biggest stories in science that happened during the summer.

A wildfire that occured in 2016 in California; photo from nbclosangeles.com
A wildfire that occurred in 2016 in California; photo from nbclosangeles.com

 

Does Mars have water? Scientists say yes: One of the most important findings in the pursuit of life on other planets, scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission announced back in July that they had found a 12 mile-wide underground liquid pool, not just the normal damp spots that have been seen in the past. The water was detected in Mars’s south pole using radar.  As of now, there’s plenty of more plans to research the area for possible life and if it’s ever possible, to drill at the area. But that won’t happen until Earth gets humans on the Red Planet.

Another bad year for wildfires: While science does tell you that it is good for the ecosystem to have some wildfires, it does get to a point where too much is way too much. Wildfires have spread across the western United States, from California to Montana. Because of the wildfires, the northwestern part of the country has experienced the worst air pollution in 30 years according to a July 16 report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is even worse when considering that when we have wildfires, the fires release chemicals like sulfate and black carbon which do not hurt the environment in the long run but are harmful in the current time period.

Spiders do have a “spider-sense”: Research done by Erica Morley and Daniel Robert of the University of Bristol in Britain found that electrical charges in the air give spiders a cue on when to fly. This signal will most likely explain why the timing of a spider’s takeoff is so unpredictable. In order to fly, spiders use their web and they have to wait for gentle wind conditions in order to take off.  For more about this, Morley and Robert’s research appeared in July’s issue of Current Biology.

Uranus Smells like Rotten Eggs

 

It’s bad enough that Uranus is the “butt” of all jokes, but now, kids all over the world can now say that Uranus smells like a “butt.”

Uranus’ upper clouds are made of hydrogen sulfide, the same molecule that gives rotten eggs that awful smell. This was discovered Leigh Fletcher and his colleagues detected the chemical fingerprint of hydrogen sulfide at the top of the planet’s clouds. The team issued their reports in the April 23 issue of Nature Astronomy.

This discovery wasn’t a complete surprise, though—observations from the 1990’s showed hints of the chemical lurking deep in the atmosphere of Uranus, but the gas wasn’t conclusively detected.

As it turns out, the clouds are not just the smell of farts, but they may have helped in discovering some details of the early solar system. It is likely that frozen hydrogen sulfide ice crystals would have been abundant in further reaches of the early solar system, suggesting that Uranus and Neptune were born farther from the sun than Jupiter and Saturn.

Fletcher says that “this tells you the gas giants and the ice giants were formed in a sightly different way.”

Fletcher and his team now are planning to send a spacecraft to the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune, the first since the Voyager spacecraft, which visited in the 1980’s.

So while all of the crude humor surrounding this planet may have grown stale, none can now deny the irony of its atmosphere, nor the wonders that such distant bodies still dangle before our scientists today.

Looks like Uranus was in on the joke this whole time.

 

Photo from Nasa.gov

A Space Hotel in Real Life? It’s Sooner Than You Think

Forget about staying at a five-star hotel when you can stay at a hotel that’s actually “sitting on” five stars (AKA space).

Orion Span, a start-up company based out of California, is planning on building and launching a space hotel called the Aurora Station in late 2021. They plan to accept guests the following year.

The hotel will be 43.5 feet long by 14.1 feet wide and will have a pressured volume of 5,650 cubic feet. It will be orbiting at an altitude of 200 miles or around 1,164,000 feet.

Founder and CEO of Orion Span, Frank Bunger, described the Aurora Station as “the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel” at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California.

However, to a normal person, “affordable” might as well be a metaphor. The price for a stay at the Aurora Station is roughly $800,000 a night, and you will be paying more than $9.5 million for the required 12-day stay.  Previously, it would cost over $20 million to travel to the International Space Station under the Virginia-based company, Space Adventures. Only 7 people took this trip between 2001 and 2009.

Bunger’s goal for his company is “to create that innovation to make simplicity possible and by making simplicity possible, we can drive a tremendous amount of cost out of it.”

Aurora Station will be able to hold four guests and two permanent crewmembers which would likely be astronauts, and as long as the demand is there, Orion Span will continue to expand their station.

While Orion Span is currently not the only company planning on sending a hotel into space, they are the only ones to have laid out a plan for the future that has a good chance of succeeding.

 

Featured Image from Krone

Giant Solar “Tornadoes” (They Aren’t Actually Tornadoes)

The sun can be a very scary place to be (if it was possible to begin with), with temperatures in the upwards of 5,778 K (9,941 F) and tornadoes that are even bigger than those on Earth. However, scientists have found that those solar tornadoes are not similar to tornadoes on Earth.

Using the Doppler effect to add a 3-D dimension to their data, they were able to measure the speed of the moving plasma of the tornado along with the direction, temperature, and density. Now, after many years of studies, they have come to the conclusion that solar tornadoes don’t rotate.

In a presentation in Liverpool, England, Nicolas Labrosse, the lead scientist, explained that despite the similarities between tornadoes and solar prominences in pictures, the magnetic field is not vertical and the plasma mostly moves horizontally along magnetic fields.

Another scientist involved in the research, Brigitte Schmieder, noted that we shouldn’t be too worried about these tornadoes. However, when we start to see too many of them, that’s when we should start to worry, since space weather can potentially damage power grids, satellites, and communication networks.

Solar tornadoes can last up to a day and ones that are stable may last for several months. Their lengths can also loop hundreds of thousands of miles into space.

We think we know everything about our sun but this research about solar tornadoes shows that we as humans still don’t know all the answers.

Did Self-Driving Cars Hit a “Pothole?”

While a lot of us want to see the revolution of self-driving vehicles, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially after what happened a couple weeks ago.

This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com
This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com

A woman in Arizona was killed when a self-driving car from Uber hit her while she was crossing the street at night. She “could have” been to blame for suddenly walking off a median or jaywalking in front of the car in the night. However, the street was well-lit and the woman was making an attempt to get across the street before the car hit her.  This shows that there is work to be done by Uber and state governments.

Self-driving cars would save many lives in the future but as of now, at least 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the U.S. die in auto accidents (human-driven cars).

The provider of Uber’s laser technology, Velodyne, said that their technology was “more than capable” of identifying her before the collision which would have stopped the car.  Police in Arizona stated that the car didn’t slow down until after she was hit.

Velodyne is blaming Uber and its test driver for the incident and they have a point. Uber’s driver, who is supposed to take the car over if the autonomous system fails, didn’t even have their hands on the steering wheel. Uber’s cars have had a hard time lasting 13 miles before a driver has to take over. In comparison, Waymo’s cars (Google) can last over 5,600 miles.

Uber has also cut down its Lidar system from seven units to only one. The remaining one does have a blind spot according to employees who have worked on the car. So in other words, Uber is cutting corners to lay claim as the first company to sell a self-driving car.

States across the U.S. have taken action and have made regulations for the self-driving cars which is why Uber is in Arizona (they don’t have many regulations for the self-driving car business). Arizona could have a problem on their hands if this becomes a common theme.

While self-driving cars are touted as the future of driving and they would cut down on many deaths, there is more work to be done before they become a common feature in someone’s driveway. States have to be tough on regulation so we get the best product, and don’t end up with a product that has been cutting corners like Uber has.

 

 

Is Facebook in Trouble with the U.S. Government?

Mark Zuckerburg has seen better days (well, most of his adulthood has been fine until now), and while he may still be very rich, he does have a huge problem on his hands with Facebook.

Does Facebook have trouble with the U.S. Federal Governement after an whistle-blower reveal information about Cambridge Analytica; photo from betanews.com
Does Facebook have trouble with the U.S. Federal Governement after an whistle-blower reveal information about Cambridge Analytica; photo from betanews.com

Christopher Wylie, co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, blew the whistle on Facebook and his company on Tuesday, telling a United Kingdom parliamentary committee that the “Brexit” (look it up) referendum could have ended differently if there had been no “cheating” from proponents wanting to leave the European Union.

This comes after stories broke about how Cambridge Analytica allegedly used illegally obtained data from 50 million users on Facebook.  This was used in an attempt to influence political outcomes.

Cambridge Analytica was able to use the 50 million user accounts to create 30 million “psychographic” profiles that were used to design targeted political ads.

The Federal Trade Commission announced on Monday that they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices and a couple days before that, UK authorities had raided Cambridge Analytica’s offices.

In a statement from the embattled company, they had stated that their data had no influence in “Brexit” or the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump, the current president of the U.S.

Facebook is also facing problems with the scandal as numerous people have deleted the app and also started a hashtag called #deleteFacebook. It was because of this, Facebook’s share drive took a nosedive as the social media grant lost over $60 billion in value at one point.

Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook has taken out full-page adverts in newspapers across the U.S. and UK, apologizing for what happened. Zuckerburg has also accepted an invitation to testify in front of the U.S. Congress; however, he has not extended the same offer to UK lawmakers.

As each day passes, the scandal gets more and more interest as this could affect the President and the planned “Brexit” over in the UK. Only time will tell if anything comes out of this.

Yes, A Satellite Is Falling But You Shouldn’t Worry Too Much

Don’t start to scream yet; it’s not the end of the world if a big satellite from China is crashing down into an ocean.

Tiangong 1, a defunct satellite from China was projected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Saturday. Now, according to the European Space Agency, which has released new information on the satellite, it is re-entering the atmosphere on Easter Sunday.

The spacecraft poses very little danger to people on the ground since most of the 8.5 ton vehicle is likely going to burn up on re-entry. The question is: What damage can the carcass of the satellite do to the planet?

As of now, the space object is projected to land in the Pacific Ocean which would be the best case situation for everyone. There was a possibility that the spacecraft would land on a strip of land in southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. That possibility prompted the governor of Michigan to activate the state’s Emergency Operations Center to keep an eye on the situation.

Tiangong 1 was launched by the Chinese in 2011 and it was China’s first space station (China has nothing to do with the International Space Station since they were barred by the U.S. legislation). The last crew of Tiangong 1 left in 2013 since the station was merely an experimental project for Tiangong 2, which will be in full service by 2022. Tiangong, which translates to “Heavenly Palace,” lost contact with China in 2016 and since then, the station has been monitored for re-entry.

People here in the U.S. shouldn’t worry about any space objects hitting a person. There is only one documented case of someone getting hit by space debris and that person was not injured. You’re more likely to die in space, be killed by a shark or hit by lighting before even getting hit with a piece of space junk.

So don’t worry, you’ll be fine for now.

 

Cover: An artist’s illustration of Tiangong 1; photo from theverge.com