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  • NASA captures best look yet at China’s lunar lander hanging out on the Moon

    NASA captures best look yet at China’s lunar lander hanging out on the MoonChina started the year off strong by landing a lunar probe on the Moon's surface and deploying a tiny rover to do a bit of exploring. The country's space agency is the first to land such machines on the far side of the Moon that we Earthlings never get to see with our own eyes.NASA recently published images captured from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the lander as a tiny pale dot against a sea of gray. It was a cool shot, but now we have an even better one, and it shows both the lander and rover doing their thing on the dusty surface of the Moon.This new image was captured back on February 1st as the LRO was passing over the landing site of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft. The photo was snapped when the spacecraft was around 51 miles from the Moon's surface, but its powerful lens still manages to make out both the larger lander and the small rover as separate objects.https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/full_width/public/thumbnails/image/01_m1303619844lr_close_crop_anot.jpg?itok=9dKP4vhPNASA explains:> Just after midnight (UTC) on February 1, 2019, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed nearly overhead the Chang'e 4 landing site. From an altitude of 82 kilometers the LROC Narrow Angle Camera pixel scale was 0.85 meters (33 inches), allowing a sharper view of the lander and Yutu-2 rover.The Chang'e 4 mission has already been declared a huge success by the Chinese space agency. Landing on the far side of the Moon is no easy task, and in the time since it touched down the spacecraft not only deployed its charming little rover but also grew plants on the Moon (in a self-contained module) for the first time ever.China's Chang'e program will eventually launch the Chang'e 5, which is something of a grand finale for this particular series of missions. Chang'e 5 will not only land on the Moon but also snag samples of the lunar surface and then return them to Earth where eager scientists will be waiting to study them.


  • Scientist who popularized term "global warming" dies at 87

    Scientist who popularized term "global warming" dies at 87NEW YORK (AP) — A scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularized the term "global warming" has died. Wallace Smith Broecker was 87.


  • Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity was inspired by Scottish philosopher

    Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity was inspired by Scottish philosopherAlbert Einstein was inspired to propose his Theory of Relativity after reading the works of a 18th century Scottish philosopher, it has emerged. A new letter, discovered at the University of Edinburgh shows that the German-born theoretical physicist had studied David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature just before proposing special relativity in 1905. The groundbreaking theory suggested that the speed of light remained the same even if the observer was speeding up or slowing down, suggesting that time and space therefore could not be constant. Yet it was Hume who had first questioned whether space and time were in fact fixed, and independent of each other, and had called for further scientific investigation to find out. In a Treatise of Human Nature, published in 1738, Hume wrote: “The chief objection against all abstract reasoning is derived from the ideas of Space and Time. Ideas in everyday life may appear clear and intelligible, but when they pass through the scrutiny of the profound Sciences...they seem full of absurdity and contradiction.” In Einstein’s letter, written to Moritz Schlick, Professor of Physics at Vienna, in December 1915 he admits that it was Hume’s work which inspired general relativity. “You have correctly seen that this line of thought was of great influence on my efforts and indeed Ernst Mach and still much more Hume, whose treatise on understanding I studied with eagerness and admiration shortly before finding relativity theory.” David Hume  Credit: Allan Ramsay  He goes on to write that “It is very possible that without these philosophical studies I can not say that the solution would have come.” The new letter was discovered by Professor David Purdie, if the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He said: “I was talking to the rector of Princeton University last year about how the Scottish scientists James Clerk Maxwell had been a huge inspiration for Einstein, and he said: “You know Hume was as well don’t you?” “I was absolutely thrown. I have read all the Einstein papers and there is no mention of Hume. So he sent me to dig out the old letters of Einstein and there he was, filed away and forgotten. I had no idea. “Einstein said that Hume more than anyone else had inspired him. It’s amazing to think that someone who lived 100 years before, in an entirely different place, could have had such an impact.” In his twenties, Einstein worked as a clerk in the Swiss federal Patent Office in Bern while developing his theories of relativity and was part of a group called The Olympic Academy which met weekly to discuss physics and philosophy. It was here that Einstein was introduced to David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature. The work is generally considered to be one of the most important philosophical studies ever published and the first to seriously question God, and man’s place in the world, ahead of Darwin.


  • Huawei Founder Says U.S. Can't Crush the Company, BBC Reports

    Huawei Founder Says U.S. Can't Crush the Company, BBC ReportsRen also said the arrest of his daughter and Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is politically motivated. Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December on a U.S. extradition request alleging fraud. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing.


  • Canada PM's chief secretary resigns amid SNC-Lavalin controversy

    Canada PM's chief secretary resigns amid SNC-Lavalin controversyGerald Butts, Trudeau's principal private secretary and a key architect of the Liberals' 2015 election victory, said in a statement he did not pressure then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould over SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau, who faces a re-election bid in October, has faced criticism since Wilson-Raybould quit his Cabinet following a Globe and Mail newspaper report this month that officials in Trudeau's office had urged her to let SNC-Lavalin escape with a fine rather than face trial on charges of bribing Libyan officials. SNC-Lavalin has said it had sought to avoid a corruption trial because the executives accused of wrongdoing had left the company and it had overhauled its ethics and compliance systems.


  • The real 'Jaws': Great white shark's genetic secrets revealed

    The real 'Jaws': Great white shark's genetic secrets revealedScientists on Monday said they have decoded the genome of Earth's largest predatory fish, detecting numerous genetic traits that help explain its remarkable evolutionary success, including molecular adaptations to enhance wound healing as well as genomic stability such as DNA repair and DNA damage tolerance. In theory, large genomes with a lot of repeated DNA, like this shark possesses, and its large body size should promote a high incidence of genome instability, with much more DNA and many more cells seemingly vulnerable as targets for damage through an accumulation of routine mutations. Just the opposite seems to be the case for this shark, thanks to adaptations in genes involved in preserving genome integrity.


  • As medical costs mount, Japan to weigh cost-effectiveness in setting drug prices

    As medical costs mount, Japan to weigh cost-effectiveness in setting drug pricesJapanese have easy access to new medicines, whose prices are decided by the government and subsidized by the country's public health insurance system. Japan, confronted with the ballooning cost of caring for an aging population, is introducing a cost-effectiveness test for drugs as a means of capping prices. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic council in December proposed considering cost in determining whether to approve treatments.


  • Major Chinese University Launches Blockchain Research Center

    Major Chinese University Launches Blockchain Research Center


  • Trump warns Venezuela military they are risking their lives and future

    Trump warns Venezuela military they are risking their lives and futureMIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela's military who are helping President Nicolas Maduro to stay in power that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country. Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, "you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.” He said he wanted a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela but that all options remained open. ...


  • China Unveils Plan to Tie Hong Kong, Macau Closer to Mainland

    China Unveils Plan to Tie Hong Kong, Macau Closer to MainlandThe plan, issued by Xinhua News Agency late Monday, said the government will seek to turn the area into a leading global innovation hub, boost infrastructure connectivity between cities, strengthen Hong Kong’s role as an international center of finance, shipping and trade as well as the center for the offshore yuan business. The Greater Bay Area is challenged by diverging social, legal and customs systems, which have impeded the free flow of resources, according to the outline plan text.


  • 'Wake up', Macron will tell Europe in major pre-Brexit speech: sources

    'Wake up', Macron will tell Europe in major pre-Brexit speech: sources"If we Europeans don't want to have other Brexits and become trapped in a naive defense of status quo, we have to wake up." Macron's speech coincides with rising tensions in the West, which has been shaken by U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" policies and Britain's departure from the EU. Macron's office said on Monday the speech will be at end of February or early March, although the exact date and location had not yet been fixed. The idea is to draw the lessons from Brexit," the source said.


  • Chinese Tech Giants Seek Further IPO Rule Changes in Hong Kong

    Chinese Tech Giants Seek Further IPO Rule Changes in Hong KongFrom allowing companies to hold super-voting rights to letting key shareholders buy stock in IPOs, tech companies are lobbying Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. for changes or waivers that would help their businesses, according to people familiar with the matter. With intense competition from exchanges in New York and elsewhere to win listings, and many multibillion-dollar Chinese companies poised to go public, pressure is building on Hong Kong to maintain its position as a financial center. In one instance, Maoyan Entertainment threatened to walk away from Hong Kong if it couldn’t get permission for investor Tencent Holdings Ltd. to buy more shares in its IPO, said the people familiar with the matter, who asked to not be identified as they weren’t authorized to speak on the matter.


  • First privately-funded spacecraft to journey to moon set for launch

    First privately-funded spacecraft to journey to moon set for launchAn Israeli space project backed by American billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is set to make history by launching the first ever private spacecraft to the moon this week. The private aircraft will be launched on Thursday from Florida, propelled by a Falcon rocket from Elon Musk's space company SpaceX. The eight-year space venture by SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries is also backed by Israeli entrepreneur Morris Kahn. The spacecraft, which weighs 180 kilograms, was contained in a temperature controlled shipping container, was shipped to the US last month. It is equipped with instruments to measure the moon's magnetic field and contains a copy of the Bible. If this project is successful, Israel will be the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon after the US, Russia and China.  In a press conference on Monday Ido Anteby, chief executive of SpaceIL, told journalists that the spacecraft will slingshot around the Earth at least six times to reach the moon and land on its surface on April 11. SpaceIL, which was founded in 2011 to compete in a now-defunct Google sponsored space competition,  is hoping to create a new "Apollo Effect" to inspire the next generation of children in Israel to think differently about science, engineering, technology and maths. Aerospace expects this project to open up "multiple opportunities" for Israel in science education for the next generation, advancing scientific research as well as demand for Israeli engineering.


  • The Best Space Heater Of 2019, According To Consumer Reports

    The Best Space Heater Of 2019, According To Consumer ReportsKeeping a house ― or even a room ― warm in the depth of winter has itschallenges


  • China plans to tap the Sun’s boundless energy with an orbiting solar farm

    China plans to tap the Sun’s boundless energy with an orbiting solar farmOur Sun is the most readily available source of energy we have available to us, but harnessing its incredible power is something humanity is still a challenge. Solar farms placed in sunny areas of the Earth do a good job of converting sunlight into usable energy, but major drawbacks remain.For one, solar panels placed on the planet can only collect sunlight for a portion of the day, and weather can dramatically hinder their ability to create electricity. Now, China thinks it has a solution to both of those problems, and it's going to test its idea within the next few years.In a new report from China's Science and Technology Daily, as spotted by the Sydney Morning Herald, the country's plans for a space-based solar farm are revealed. Rather than a power-gathering installation on Earth, China plans to launch an energy-gathering solar station into Earth orbit.Using a space solar station instead of one on the ground not only eliminates weather as a factor but also allows the station to remain in full sunlight 24 hours a day. According to the report, China envisions a system by which the spacecraft collect solar power and then send it down to receiving stations on the Earth as a laser or microwave beam. The power would then be fed into the power grid as electricity.According to the report, the country plans to test out the concept between 2021 and 2025 with small-scale orbital power stations and then take the next step to a megawatt-level solar station around 2030. Eventually, a gigawatt-capable spacecraft is planned, but that's a few decades down the road.It's a very interesting idea and, if China can get it working reliably it might be a viable and relatively green energy solution, but there's still lots of work to be done before such a judgement can be made.


  • Universal flu vaccine hope as scientists find immune cells which fight all strains

    Universal flu vaccine hope as scientists find immune cells which fight all strainsImmune cells which could fight all kinds of influenza virus have been discovered by scientists, raising hope for a universal vaccine which does not need to be update annually. Researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Monash University found that some killer T cells are able to fight off all forms of the virus. Most immune cells only target individual strains, but researchers discovered parts of the virus that were common across all types of flu and then looked for cells in humans which could latch on to those areas. The type of killer T cells exist in half of the world’s population, giving them a much better natural immunity, when the immune system is functioning fully. But researchers believe they may be able to use the cells to create a vaccine to boost the cell activity or retrain the immune system. “Influenza viruses continuously mutate to evade recognition by our immune system, and they are vastly diverse, making it nearly impossible to predict and vaccinate against the strain that will cause the next influenza pandemic,” said first author Dr Marios Koutsakos. “We have identified the parts of the virus that are shared across all flu strains, and sub-strains capable of infecting humans, and then investigated if we could find robust responses to those viral parts in healthy humans, and influenza-infected adults and children.” Cold and flu symptoms | What's the difference? University of Melbourne Professor Katherine Kedzierska, study leader and laboratory head at the Doherty Institute, said it was an exciting discovery that clearly showed killer T cells provide unprecedented immunity across all flu viruses, a key component of a potential universal vaccine. “Influenza B immunology particularly has remained largely understudied because it doesn’t have pandemic potential,” she said. “However, it is a serious virus that can lead to death and severe illness, mostly in children, and was one of the missing pieces of the universal flu protection puzzle,” Professor Kedzierska said. The research team also conducted tests on human lung tissue and in mice, injnecting peptides which activated the killer T cells. “Our immunisation studies with the peptide responsible for activating the killer T cells revealed remarkably reduced levels of flu virus and inflammation in the airways,” Mr Koutsakos said. The research was published in Nature Immunology.


  • 'Zombie' deer disease is in 24 states and thousands of infected deer are eaten each year, expert warns

    'Zombie' deer disease is in 24 states and thousands of infected deer are eaten each year, expert warns"We are in an unknown territory situation," infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm said of chronic wasting disease.


  • Artificial intelligence — and a few jokes — will help keep future Mars crews sane

    Artificial intelligence — and a few jokes — will help keep future Mars crews saneWASHINGTON, D.C. — When the first human explorers head for Mars, they're likely to have a non-human judging their performance and tweaking their interpersonal relationships when necessary. NASA and outside researchers are already working on artificial intelligence agents to monitor how future long-duration space crews interact, sort of like the holographic doctor on "Star Trek: Voyager." But there'll also be a need for the human touch — in the form of crew members who could serve the roles of social directors or easygoing jokesters. That's the upshot of research initiatives discussed over the weekend here at the annual meeting of the… Read More


  • These Researchers Want to Focus on Preventing Childhood Trauma Through Public Health

    These Researchers Want to Focus on Preventing Childhood Trauma Through Public HealthA study published in JAMA suggests childhood trauma should be addressed as a public health issue to better inform prevention and treatment.


  • 'Zombie' deer disease: How to prevent it and avoid eating infected meat

    'Zombie' deer disease: How to prevent it and avoid eating infected meatDon't touch road-kill, eat infected meat and more advise from the CDC on how to avoid getting chronic wasting disease.


  • 'Killer' cells raise hope of universal flu vaccine

    'Killer' cells raise hope of universal flu vaccineScientists said Monday they had discovered immune cells that can fight all known flu viruses in what was hailed as an "extraordinary breakthrough" that could lead to a universal, one-shot vaccine against the killer disease. 


  • Facebook's Chief A.I. Scientist Yann LeCun On the Future of Computer Chips, Lawnmowers, and Deep Learning

    Facebook's Chief A.I. Scientist Yann LeCun On the Future of Computer Chips, Lawnmowers, and Deep LearningFacebook's Chief A.I. Scientist Yann LeCun On the Future of Computer Chips, Lawnmowers, and Deep Learning


  • Iraq's Kurdish regional parliament elects interim speaker amid boycott

    Iraq's Kurdish regional parliament elects interim speaker amid boycottIraqi Kurdish lawmakers on Monday elected an interim speaker of parliament, an assembly key to regional stability, although the Kurds' second largest party boycotted the vote due to a rift between the main political forces in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Vala Fareed, nominated by the region's dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), was confirmed in the post by 68 votes.


  • Israel's first lunar mission to launch this week

    Israel's first lunar mission to launch this weekIsrael is to launch its first moon mission this week, sending an unmanned spacecraft to collect data to be shared with NASA, organisers said Monday. The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) Beresheet (Genesis) spacecraft is to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at around 0145 GMT on Friday. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and technology NGO SpaceIL announced the date at a press conference.


  • 'Zombie' deer disease could spread to humans, experts warn

    'Zombie' deer disease could spread to humans, experts warnPeople who eat deer meat could be at risk of contracting a deadly infectious disease that is spreading across the animals’ US populations, experts have warned. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) –dubbed “zombie” deer disease – has infected deer, elk and moose across 24 American states and two Canadian provinces. Up to 15,000 infected animals are eaten each year, a number that could rise by 20 per cent annually, according to Michael Osterholm, an expert in infectious disease from the University of Minnesota.


  • Philippines says 136 people have died in measles outbreak

    Philippines says 136 people have died in measles outbreakMANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine health secretary said Monday that 136 people, mostly children, have died of measles and 8,400 others have fallen ill in an outbreak blamed partly on vaccination fears.


  • Huawei Crackdown Exposes Europe as Laggard in Global 5G Race

    Huawei Crackdown Exposes Europe as Laggard in Global 5G RaceA year later, the U.K. is among European nations weighing restrictions on the Chinese tech giant that phone carriers say could delay the fifth-generation mobile networks needed to connect driverless cars and automated factories. “The risk is that it puts Europe further behind the curve,” said Neil Campling, an analyst at Mirabaud Securities in London. While Europe led the way with earlier mobile technologies, China, South Korea, Japan and -- to a lesser extent -- the U.S., are ahead on the next rollouts.


  • Merck Gets Priority Review for Keytruda Combo in Kidney Cancer

    Merck Gets Priority Review for Keytruda Combo in Kidney CancerMerck's (MRK) sBLA looking for approval of Keytruda plus Pfizer's Inlyta for the first-line treatment of the most common type of kidney cancer gets FDA's priority review.


  • Out of Nowhere, Jaguar Has a Hybridized, Turbocharged, and e-Supercharged Inline-Six

    Out of Nowhere, Jaguar Has a Hybridized, Turbocharged, and e-Supercharged Inline-SixThe newest member of the automaker's Ingenium engine family is a high-tech 3.0-liter straight-six.


  • Smokers less likely to survive a dangerous form of skin cancer

    Smokers less likely to survive a dangerous form of skin cancerNew UK research has found that patients with melanoma -- one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer -- may be less likely to survive if they also have a long history of smoking. The findings, published in the journal Cancer Research, showed that there was an association between smoking and a patient's chance of survival from melanoma.


  • U.S. pressing Gulf states to keep Syria isolated: sources

    U.S. pressing Gulf states to keep Syria isolated: sourcesThe opposing approaches are an early test of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can gain political and diplomatic credibility after a nearly eight-year civil war turned him into an international pariah. Many countries cut links with Syria at the start of the war. Several Gulf states shut or downgraded their embassies, Syria was suspended from the Arab League, flights stopped and border crossings were closed.


  • Flying 1,300 mph on airplanes would be great. But future aviation has other plans.

    Flying 1,300 mph on airplanes would be great. But future aviation has other plans.In the year 2044, our cities might be energized by fusion power plants, our sleek cars may all run on electricity, and our doctors might regularly employ gene-editing to cure blindness. But our airplanes will probably still fly at the same speeds they did half a century ago: between 550 and 600 mph. Supersonic flight -- which is to say speeds that exceed the speed of sound (768 mph) and can dramatically slash flight times -- died out for civilians in 2003 with the retirement of the narrowly-shaped Concorde planes, which for 27 years cruised at 1,300 mph between the U.S. and Europe. "It failed," Bob van der Linden, the Chairman of the Aeronautics Department of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, said in an interview. "It was a technological marvel, but it was too expensive to operate." Although a few ambitious supersonic startups like Boom Technology and Aerion Supersonic might successfully resurrect smaller business-style jets in the coming decades, commercial flying for the masses is unlikely to change much in the next quarter century, and beyond. Today's traditional aviation paradigm works, it's profitable, and it's safe. "Since the 1960s, the top speed of an airliner has not changed," said van der Linden -- and, he adds, he doesn't see any reason that it will. "In 20 to 25 years, air travel might not look a whole lot different from how it looks today," Dan Bubb, a former pilot and now aviation historian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, agreed over email."I don't think we expect to see any disruptive technologies," added Fotis Kopsaftopoulos, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in an interview. The final landing of an Air France Concorde in 2003Image: Jacek Bilski/imageBROKER/REX/ShutterstockThese future aircraft will likely look the same as they do now, too. "There's not too much room to change the shape -- we need wings and a round fuselage," Ryo Amano, a professor of mechanical engineering specializing in aerodynamics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said in an interview. But one thing will surely change."You'll see airliners becoming more efficient," said van der Linden. "Any breakthrough will be for efficiency's sake."This means burning less fuel, resulting in higher airline profits. It's already happening. Some new planes, like the Boeing 787 and the colossal Airbus 380, are built with lighter "composite materials" rather than heavier old-school metals, so they burn less fuel. An Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airlinerImage: Lex Rayton/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock"They are lightweight and very strong," said Kopsaftopoulos.New, more efficient engines are burning less fuel, too. "You don't really see many of the changes, but inside the engine system there is a tremendous amount of improvement," said Amano. Supersonic dreamsAviation experts are in wide agreement: Flying at supersonic speeds would slash flight times (imagine a 2.5-hour trip from New York to Los Angeles or London to NYC in under 3.5 hours), and as the Concorde proved, the blazing-fast engines and aerodynamic design technologies do exist. But there are a slew of formidable obstacles. Traditional airliners might be slower, but they're moneymakers. In contrast, flying faster burns significantly more fuel. That means pricier flights. "A conventional airliner gets better mileage than an SST [supersonic plane]," said van der Linden. "It's as simple as that."What's more, there was little demand to fly on the 1,300 mph Concorde planes. A seat was just too expensive. "The cost for one seat probably cost five times more than [a seat on] a 747," noted Amano.A NASA conception of a supersonic planeImage: nasa"Let's face it, the overwhelming majority of citizens are not millionaires," added van der Linden. "There's not enough traffic for high-priced stuff."But if a supersonic plane did ever take to the skies, it would likely be smaller plane intended for wealthier demographics."It would be wonderful to see the return of the Concorde, but if the aircraft returns, it will be a much slimmed-down, more fuel-efficient version," said Babb.A spokesperson for the supersonic startup Boom Technology said they're designing aircraft that "can operate profitably while charging the same fares as today's business class" over oceanic routes. For perspective, a round-trip business class ticket between JFK and London generally costs between $3,000 and $8,000.SEE ALSO: The future of flying is electric planesLike the auto industry, it's daunting for any startup, like Boom, to break into the aviation world. They don't just need billions of dollars, they have to prove to the vigilant Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that their supersonic planes are profoundly safe. "I wish them luck," said van der Linden. Beyond financial hurdles, supersonics also have to contend with environmental woes. A recent report produced by the International Council on Clean Transportation -- an organization that provides technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators -- estimated that a worldwide fleet of 2,000 supersonic planes by 2035 would emit prodigious amounts of carbon into the atmosphere."The environmental impact of building that many planes would be severe," said Dan Rutherford, the ICCT's program director for marine and aviation.Such supersonic fuel-guzzling creates uncertainty for airlines that might be considering them, as the United Nation's aviation organization will almost certainly tighten emission rules to meet greater society's climate and environmental targets. "Everyone is wondering what environmental regulations they will need to meet," noted Rutherford. And supersonic planes have one other mighty, unavoidable hurdle. The booms.  Supersonic boomsCongress outlawed flying supersonic airliners over land in 1970, and for good reason. Sonic booms are thunder-like noises created when planes displace air and create powerful shockwaves, some of which slam into the ground. It's much "like a boat creates a wake in the water," explains NASA. The booms jolt buildings, stir people awake, and can feel like a sharp earthquake. "If you're not expecting them, they can be startling," NASA aviation engineer David Richwine told Mashable last year.This limits supersonic planes to oceanic routes, further reducing their ability to be mainstream airliners. A supersonic plane displacing air in the skyImage: nasaFor this reason, the startup Aerion Supersonic plans to fly over land just under the speed of sound (known as Mach 0.95) "without a sonic boom," said a company spokesperson. But Aerion still has supersonic ambitions, and plans to develop planes that fly at around 920 mph (or 1.2 Mach), wherein the booms will dissipate before pummeling the ground.   Although overland travel is still illegal for the likes of Boom, Aerion, and others, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may open the door for new supersonic planes to once again fly over land. This won't happen anytime soon (the new supersonic planes don't even exist), but the FAA is considering rules about noise certifications and other rules for supersonic planes -- once the government settles on what boom levels are tolerable for us land dwellers."We have not published any rules as of yet -- that's still being worked out," FAA spokesperson Henry Price said over the phone. "The direction we're going is in the fact sheet," Price added, citing a webpage summarizing the proposed future rules for supersonic planes. Likely to the delight of supersonic startups, in 2018 NASA started work on a prototypical supersonic plane, dubbed the X-Plane. The $247.5 million project isn't slated to take off until 2021, but when it does, the 94-foot test craft will soar over American neighborhoods and urban areas. It's an experiment: Are the booms from the innovative design mild enough for citizens to bear? A conception of NASA's quiet boom supersonic plane, flying over NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in CaliforniaImage: nasaIt's certainly possible that NASA will be successful. There's a big group of aviation experts working on the project, and they have intriguing futuristic ideas, like plane exteriors that subtly morph in the air to tame sonic blasts. If all goes well, NASA's experimental plane will turn sonic booms into muted thumps."The work that NASA's doing might help that [sonic booms]," said van der Linden. "And a smaller plane might help that.""But you can't eliminate it," he added.Even if NASA is successful (it often is), aviation companies seeking to break the sound barrier will have to build planes similar to that low-boom design, airlines will have to order them, and the plane must pass rigid FAA standards."Is it going to be worth pursuing by the airlines?" asked Kopsaftopoulos. "I'm not sure what's going to happen." Beyond Speed While most passengers in a quarter-century will still be slogging through the atmosphere at 575 mph, that doesn't mean air travel won't make other futuristic leaps.Flying, battery-powered taxis -- small aircraft intended to make shorter urban jaunts -- could become a reality in the next decade."Central Park to Brooklyn or Jersey City using an air taxi -- that is very exciting," said Kopsaftopoulos.There's also considerable aviation industry interest in fully-electric commercial airplanes, noted Kopsaftopoulos."It is ideal -- we'll save huge amounts of fuel," added Amano, who said perhaps the technology could be tested in smaller commercial planes in a decade or so. What's more, there's a number of electric plane startups forging ahead, modifying existing planes, and planning for tests.  A Boeing 737 Max: A new airliner largely built with an old, trustworthy designImage: Elaine Thompson/AP/REX/ShutterstockBut in the end, whether an aircraft runs on a massive battery that sits in its belly or pricey fuels, it's likely these planes will be flying at the speeds they've been flying since the mid-20th century. Traveling at supersonic speeds is "astounding," said van der Linden, who had the opportunity to experience the Concorde flying at 1,300 mph. "You are flying faster than the Earth is spinning," he said, adding that it felt like traveling on a normal airliner.But money wins the race. Our trusty, long-lived, old-school airliners are only replaced after decades and decades of service -- by lighter, increasingly efficient planes with sleeker interiors, but never anything faster."Airliners do not break," said van der Linden. "They do fade away, but they don't die." WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?


  • Odey Says Regulator's Wirecard Short Ban Paves Way for Lawsuits

    Odey Says Regulator's Wirecard Short Ban Paves Way for LawsuitsIn an interview Monday, Odey said he’s now more excited about taking BaFin to court than his wagers on the Aschheim, Bavaria-based company. BaFin prohibited investors from taking new short positions in Wirecard or increasing existing ones through April 18 after the shares were whipsawed over the last month following a series of reports in the Financial Times alleging fraud at the payment company’s Singapore unit. “It’s a very dangerous thing that they have chosen to do over the weekend,” Odey said.


  • U.K. Lawmakers Recommend Harsher Penalties for Tech Firms

    U.K. Lawmakers Recommend Harsher Penalties for Tech FirmsDamian Collins, the policy maker who spearheaded the inquiry, called for Parliament to create new laws to help a proposed regulator oversee the industry, with fines for companies to be calculated based on their revenue. “Companies like Facebook exercise massive market power which enables them to make money by bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers,” Collins said in a statement Monday.


  • Morocco looks to French as language of economic success

    Morocco looks to French as language of economic successWith so many students dropping out of university because they don't speak French, the government has proposed reintroducing it as the language for teaching science, maths and technical subjects such as computer science in high schools. It also wants children to start learning French when they start school. Most people speak Moroccan Arabic – a mixture of Arabic and Amazigh infused with French and Spanish influences.


  • Indonesian presidential hopefuls vow energy self-sufficiency via palm

    Indonesian presidential hopefuls vow energy self-sufficiency via palmIndonesia's two presidential candidates pledged to achieve energy self-sufficiency by boosting the use of bioenergy, particularly fueled by palm oil, to cut costly oil imports by Southeast Asia's biggest economy. Indonesia, the world's biggest palm oil producer, has been pushing for all diesel fuel used in the country to contain biodiesel to boost palm consumption, slash fuel imports, and narrow a yawning current account gap. In a televised election debate, President Joko Widodo said if he won a second term the government planned to implement a B100 program, referring to fuel made entirely from palm oil, after last year making it mandatory to use biodiesel containing 20 percent bio-content (B20).


  • China Aiming to Establish a Power Station in Space by 2025

    China Aiming to Establish a Power Station in Space by 2025China Aiming to Establish a Power Station in Space by 2025


  • Chinese frozen food firm recalls products suspected of African swine fever contamination

    Chinese frozen food firm recalls products suspected of African swine fever contaminationMajor Chinese frozen food producer Sanquan Food Co Ltd said on Monday it has recalled products that may be contaminated with African swine fever, following media reports that some of its dumplings tested positive for the virus. African swine fever is incurable in pigs but does not harm people. An epidemic of the disease has spread rapidly across China since August 2018, reaching 25 provinces and regions.


  • Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum

    Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forumPromising that "America will be back" once Donald Trump leaves office, Biden won a standing ovation at the Munich Security Conference from delegates who find the president's brusque foreign policy stance hard to like. Biden's successor, Mike Pence, was met with silence at a reception in the palatial Bavarian parliament on Friday evening after he delivered his signature line: "I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump." His four-day trip to Europe succeeded only in deepening divisions with traditional allies over questions such as Iran and Venezuela and offered little hope in how to deal with threats ranging from nuclear arms to climate change, diplomats and officials said. Misgivings about Washington's role in the world are being felt by ordinary people as well as foreign policy specialists.


  • SoftBank Says Leverage Not a Problem. Rating Firms Not Convinced

    SoftBank Says Leverage Not a Problem. Rating Firms Not ConvincedWhile Son has won some converts among the analyst community, SoftBank’s debt-fueled growth strategy is preventing S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service from upgrading the company to investment grade, according to analysts at both rating companies. A downgrade to SoftBank’s ratings, now one level below investment grade, is more likely than an upgrade, both say. SoftBank listed its Japanese telecom unit last year as Son reshapes the company he founded almost four decades ago into one of the world’s biggest investors in technology startups, with the backing of Saudi Arabian cash.


  • China Wants to Build the First Power Station in Space

    China Wants to Build the First Power Station in SpaceFollowing its successful and world-beating trip to the far side of the moon, China is preparing to build a solar power station in space, as the world’s No. 2 economy strives to burnish its superpower credentials. With an $8 billion annual budget for its space program, second only to the U.S., China is seeking to compete with its rival for economic, military and technological dominance. Initially, they plan to develop a smaller power station in the stratosphere between 2021 and 2025, a 1 megawatt-level solar facility in space by 2030, and eventually larger generators, according to the state-backed Science and Technology Daily.


  • China Wants to Build the First Power Station in Space

    China Wants to Build the First Power Station in SpaceFollowing its successful and world-beating trip to the far side of the moon, China is preparing to build a solar power station in space, as the world’s No. 2 economy strives to burnish its superpower credentials. With an $8 billion annual budget for its space program, second only to the U.S., China is seeking to compete with its rival for economic, military and technological dominance. Initially, they plan to develop a smaller power station in the stratosphere between 2021 and 2025, a 1 megawatt-level solar facility in space by 2030, and eventually larger generators, according to the state-backed Science and Technology Daily.


  • Cybersecurity Powerhouse Israel Is Ripe for Election Meddling

    Cybersecurity Powerhouse Israel Is Ripe for Election MeddlingWhile Israeli engineers develop some of the world’s most sought-after online protection, the government has yet to come up with a coordinated defense to shield the April 9 vote against fake news and other malicious meddling. According to the Israel Democracy Institute research center, responsibility for protecting the vote is divided among at least nine entities. Non-governmental players are stepping into the breach, and volunteers say they’ve already uncovered hundreds of fake accounts with links to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia and domestic political parties.


  • China Freezes $1.5 Billion of P2P Assets in Intensified Probe

    China Freezes $1.5 Billion of P2P Assets in Intensified ProbeCodenamed ‘Fox Hunt,’ the operation spanned 16 countries and regions including Thailand and Cambodia and led to the arrests of 62 suspects implicated in Chinese P2P frauds since June, China’s Ministry of Public Security said in a statement on Sunday. While a lack of oversight contributed to a ballooning in P2P loans, the sector has come in for special scrutiny under President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on financial risk. Some P2P companies are attracting investors by promising high interest rates under the guise of “financial innovation,” while others fabricated investment projects and squandered the money, the police said.


  • 'Urgent steps' needed to save Australia's biggest river system

    'Urgent steps' needed to save Australia's biggest river systemThe viability of a key river that feeds into Australia's biggest water system is under threat if poor conditions that killed millions of fish are not improved within six months, scientists warned Monday. The management of the Murray-Darling River system, which stretches thousands of kilometres across several states and supplies Australia's food bowl, has been under close scrutiny following three mass fish deaths in December and January. Authorities said millions of fish died in the Darling River events, blamed on low water flow and oxygen levels in the river as well as possibly toxic algae.


  • TSMC's Not-New Management Presents New Challenges for Investors

    TSMC's Not-New Management Presents New Challenges for InvestorsTSMC was quite open about the issue in a statement late Friday. For the full-year, operating margin will be cut by 0.2 percentage points -- which I estimate to be around $70 million, based on its previous revenue guidance. Just five months prior, another supplier mishap brought some TSMC production lines to a halt when new equipment came replete with an installation of the WannaCry virus.


  • Istanbul vets make city's stray animals feel at home

    Istanbul vets make city's stray animals feel at homeConcerned for the health of a black cat roaming around the university campus where she works, Mevlude dropped off the feline at the veterinary clinic for street animals run by the Istanbul municipality. Visitors to the Turkish city, who admire its centuries-old mosques and Ottoman palaces, are often surprised to see cats and dogs making themselves at home on the streets, and watch them taking the best seats in cafes and restaurants without a care for the world. Like Mevlude, many Istanbul residents try to help these four-legged friends in their neighbourhood, putting out bowls of food and offering shelter by their doors or windows.


  • The War On Climate Change Won’t Be Won Quibbling Over The Green New Deal’s Costs

    The War On Climate Change Won’t Be Won Quibbling Over The Green New Deal’s CostsThe Green New Deal unveiled last week by Sen


  • Rare owls thrive in ghost town near Los Angeles airport

    Rare owls thrive in ghost town near Los Angeles airportLOS ANGELES (AP) — Researchers have discovered a group of rare owls thriving in a nature preserve near Los Angeles International Airport, according to a newspaper report Sunday.


  • Nigerian candidate says delayed presidential vote could be compromised

    Nigerian candidate says delayed presidential vote could be compromisedThe vote pits President Muhammadu Buhari, in power since 2015, against former vice president Atiku Abubakar. Previous elections in Africa's biggest democracy and top oil producer have been marred by vote rigging, voter intimidation and post-election violence. Kingsley Moghalu - one of the best-known candidates aside from Buhari and Atiku - and civil society groups said there was uncertainty over the extent to which ballot papers and result sheets may have been exposed.