Guizhou, China To Hunt ET’s With World’s Largest Radio Telescope

When it comes to the international race to find alien life, it appears China is leading the charge. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the country has just completed what will be the biggest radio telescope in the world. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will be used to explore space and assist in the hunt for extraterrestrial life.

At the size of 30 football fields, the telescope, located in the southwestern province of Guizhou, is almost five times largest than the second-largest telescope. Now that construction is complete, Chinese scientists are beginning to debug the telescope and perform trials.

“The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life,” Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says.

The $135 million radio telescope is expected to be a global leader for the next two decades. The wider the telescope, the more radio waves it will collect. This telescope will be used to detect even the weakest signals.

FAST was built in the Dawodang depression in Guizhou Province, where the natural landscape provides the perfect size for the construction of the telescope and the ground provides enough support. Removed from society, the depression is also isolated from magnetic disruptions.

Over the past few years, advancing China’s space program has become a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

There’s a new Robo-Sheriff In Town! And He’s Out Of Control [VIDEO]

Knightscope KS was employed as a security robot at GMMB, a communications agency in Washington DC. The robots are equipped with cameras designed to provide a more physical presence than a regular security camera. Another highlighted feature is the fact that the robot is designed to move autonomously—a talent that has now backfired twice.

In 2016, a robot security guard at the Stanford Shopping Center in Silicon Valley knocked down a toddler while on duty. The bot reportedly hit 16-month-old Harwin Cheng, knocking him to the floor. It then just kept right on driving. Fortunately, Cheng was not seriously hurt by the incident, but it did raise serious questions about what a life full of robots means for us.

The robot’s creators describe the K5 as having a “commanding physical presence” and “advanced technology.” Other key features include “forensic capabilities” and a “gun detection” feature.

Though the robot didn’t knock anyone over in the case of GMMB, it did take a suicidal plunge into the company’s fountain. Several posts on Twitter documented the final moments of the robot.

What do you think? Is the world simply not ready for robot security guards?


Russian Launches “Artificial Star” | Why Astronomers Are On Edge

A Russian Soyuz rocket has just successfully launched a controversial satellite expected to become one of the brightest stars—a fact that could hamper our own astronomical observations. Once in orbit, 600 kilometers high, the satellite will unfurl a giant pyramid-shaped solar reflector made of Mylar. Scientists have predicted Mayak, the satellite, will shine with a magnitude of about -3.6, making it the brightest object in the sky after the Sun, the Moon, and Venus.

Mayak is a cubesat—a small satellite about the size of a loaf of bread. was developed by Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University (MAMU) and crowdfunding from the Russian website Boomstarter. Americans first learned about the project at the beginning of last year. Just last week, Mayak launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, along with 72 other satellites.

The satellite is expected to unfurl in a few days. MAMU says the goal of the mission is to “inspire people to look up to space.” It also holds a more defined scientific purpose with measurable goals, like testing technology to deorbit satellites. The satellite will remain in orbit for at least a month.

If it lives up to its potential, Mayak will cause some serious problems. The satellite will not only hamper astronomers, but it could pose a bigger problem for all-sky surveys, which monitor the entire sky.

“Despite what appears to be significant public and social media backlash against this by the astronomical community, they have proceeded to launch,” Nick Howes, an astronomer, told IFLScience. “One can only hope the mission fails and the plan to blight our pristine dark skies never takes shape.”


NASA Says Now “We Can’t Afford To Go To Mars!”

For years, NASA has had a vision of getting humans to Mars. To this day, the agency continues to release exciting updated plans for accomplishing this goal. There is just one thing holding it back–money.

“I can’t put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is—the other piece is—at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don’t have the surface systems available for Mars,” NASA’s chief of human spaceflight, William H. Gerstenmaier, said during a propulsion meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics on Wednesday.

“And that entry, descent, and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars,” Gerstenmaier continued.

After developing the SLS rocket and Orion, NASA has not been able to begin the process of designing vehicles to land on Mars. The agency’s next moves will depend primarily on funding. Fortunately, our future on Mars does not rely solely on NASA.

More and more, we’re seeing agencies like NASA partnering with private, commercial space companies like SpaceX to accomplish their goals. Elon Musk hopes to provide an update about the SpaceX Mars mission in September in Australia. Musk also hopes to have his first manned mission by 2025.

Private companies Boeing and Blue Origin also have plans to put humans on Mars.

Do you think we will make it to Mars by 2025? What role will NASA play?

Source: Science Alert, Engadget

Germany Fires Up ‘World’s Largest Artificial Sun’

Scientists in Germany have flipped the switched on what’s being described as “the world’s largest artificial sun” and which they hope will help shed light on new ways of making climate-friendly fuel – hydrogen. The giant honeycomb-like setup of 149 spotlights — officially known as “Synlight” — which consists of a huge array of xenon short-arc lamps on a single 20-by-20 centimetre (8×8 inch) spots. As filmmakers know xenon short-arc lamps normally found in cinemas to simulate sunlight.  Synlight is located in Juelich, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Cologne, where natural sunlight that’s often in short supply in Germany at this time of year. Scientists from the German Aerospace Centre, or DLR, will be able to produce the equivalent of 10,000 times the amount of solar radiation that would normally shine on the same sized surface. The spectrum of UV radiation is similar to that of the Sun.

The huge machine towers 45 feet high and 52 feet across, and produces temperatures of up to 3,000°C (5,400°F) and has been subject to tests lasting just 15 to 20 minutes. “We’ve been testing it for the last two months, and this is the first public event,” Dmitrij Laaber, a research engineer involved on the project. Bernhard Hoffschmidt, Head of the Institute for Solar Research, conceded that hydrogen is not without its problems – for one thing, it is incredibly volatile – but hydrogen is an incredibly useful element, being a source of fuel with no carbon emissions. But it does not occur naturally, and so must be created synthetically with machines like this. Synlight is a proof of concept for now, with the lamps using as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would do in a year. The heat they generate is enough to incinerate a person if you were standing in the same room. Many consider hydrogen to be the fuel of the future because it produces no carbon emissions when burned, meaning it does not add to global warming. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, but free, uncombined hydrogen gas is relatively rare on earth. One way to manufacture hydrogen is to split water into its two components – the other being oxygen – using electricity in a process called electrolysis. But the goal in the future is to replicate this process using sunlight, possibly scaling up the operation to produce usable amounts of hydrogen.

Hoffschmidt said the dazzling display is designed to take experiments done in smaller labs to the next level, adding that once researchers have mastered hydrogen-making techniques with Synlight’s 350-kilowatt array, the process could be scaled up ten-fold on the way to reaching a level fit for industry. Experts say this could take about a decade, if there is sufficient industry support. Researchers hope to bypass the electricity stage by tapping into the enormous amount of energy that reaches Earth in the form of light from the sun.

The goal is to eventually use actual sunlight rather than the artificial light produced at the Juelich experiment, which is expensive and actually costs $3.8 million to build and requires as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would use in a year. “The next step would be to get this reactor to a real solar plant, where it can be tested under real conditions,” Laaber said. “Our facility is mainly for testing of the components.”

The Biggest Thing To Happen On The Internet In Years!

In mid-January of 2012, we witnessed the largest online protest in the history of the internet. Websites “went dark” in protest of proposed legislation before the US House and Senate that could transform the internet. The two bills, Sopa and Pipa, aimed to stop the piracy of copyrighted material over the internet on websites based outside of the country. Critics of the measure argued that the laws would stifle innovation and investment—hallmarks of the open internet.

“These bills propose new powers for the government and for private actors to create, effectively, blacklists of sites…then force service providers to block access to those sites,” Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told reporters. “That’s why we call these the censorship bills.”

Today, the fight for a free and open Internet—otherwise known as Net Neutrality—continues. It’s currently under threat by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by the Trump administration, wants to scrap open Internet protections brought in by the Obama administration in 2015.

If that happens, it would allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to slow down access to certain parts of the web. Accessing streaming services like Netflix could end up costing you lots of money. And nobody wants that.

Pai wants to overturn laws introduced by the Obama administration in 2015, strictly regulating ISPs. In mid-May, the FCC said it would support a new proposal to repeal that order. A 90-day comment period was also opened, asking the public for their opinions on the matter.

In contrast to 2012, various websites have decided to take a different kind of stand. Social media sites are full of information giving people a sneak peek of what the Internet without Net Neutrality would look like. Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb all have messages up on their pages urging people to contact their Congressmen.

Have you taken action yet?

Source: IFLScience, The Guardian