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Sep 8, 2019

NASA Television to Air Launch, Capture of Cargo Ship to Space Station

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space, transportation

A Japanese cargo spacecraft loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware is scheduled to launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan to the International Space Station at 5:33 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 10 (6:33 a.m. Sept. 11 in Japan). Live coverage of the launch and capture will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) will launch on a Japanese H-IIB rocket on the tenth anniversary of the first HTV cargo spacecraft launch. Live coverage will begin at 5 p.m.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station Saturday, Sept. 14. Live coverage of the spacecraft rendezvous and capture will begin at 5:30 a.m. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Sep 8, 2019

Warning Issued After Malware Is Found To Have Hijacked Bitcoin Blockchain

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cybercrime/malcode

Bitcoin’s blockchain has been hijacked by a new strain of the Glupteba malware that uses the network to resist attacks, cyber security researchers have warned.

The malware uses the bitcoin blockchain to update, meaning it can continue running even if a device’s antivirus software blocks its connection to servers run by the hackers, security intelligence blog Trend Micro reported this week.

The Glupteba malware, first discovered in December 2018, is distributed through advertising designed to spread viruses through script and can steal an infected devices’ browsing history, website cookies, and account names and passwords with this particular variant found to be targeting file-sharing websites.

Sep 8, 2019

It might be possible to reverse a person’s biological age

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

In a small trial, drugs seemed to rejuvenate the body’s ‘epigenetic clock’, which tracks a person’s biological age.

Sep 8, 2019

Exotic Physics Phenomenon Involving Time Reversal Observed for First Time

Posted by in categories: computing, mathematics, particle physics, quantum physics

An exotic physical phenomenon, involving optical waves, synthetic magnetic fields, and time reversal, has been directly observed for the first time, following decades of attempts. The new finding could lead to realizations of what are known as topological phases, and eventually to advances toward fault-tolerant quantum computers, the researchers say.

The new finding involves the non-Abelian Aharonov-Bohm Effect and is published in the journal Science by MIT graduate student Yi Yang, MIT visiting scholar Chao Peng (a professor at Peking University), MIT graduate student Di Zhu, Professor Hrvoje Buljan at University of Zagreb in Croatia, Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics John Joannopoulos at MIT, Professor Bo Zhen at the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT professor of physics Marin Soljačić.

The finding relates to gauge fields, which describe transformations that particles undergo. Gauge fields fall into two classes, known as Abelian and non-Abelian. The Aharonov-Bohm Effect, named after the theorists who predicted it in 1959, confirmed that gauge fields — beyond being a pure mathematical aid — have physical consequences.

Sep 8, 2019

Probing General Relativity with Neutron Stars

Posted by in categories: alien life, physics

Another of those ‘new eras’ I talked about in yesterday’s post is involved in the latest news on gravitational waves. Let’s not forget that it was 50 years ago — on November 28, 1967 — that Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish observed the first pulsar, now known to be a neutron star. It made the news at the time because the pulses, separated by 1.33 seconds, raised a SETI possibility, leading to the playful designation LGM-1 (‘little green men’) for the discovery.

We’ve learned a lot about pulsars emitting beams at various wavelengths since then and the SETI connection is gone, but before I leave the past, it’s also worth recognizing that our old friend Fritz Zwicky, working with Walter Baade, first proposed the existence of neutron stars in 1934. The scientists believed that a dense star made of neutrons could result from a supernova explosion, and here we might think of the Crab pulsar at the center of the Crab Nebula, an object whose description fits the pioneering work of Zwicky and Baade, and also tracks the work of Franco Pacini, who posited that a rotating neutron star in a magnetic field would emit radiation. Likewise a pioneer, Pacini suggested this before pulsars had been discovered.

Writing about all this takes me back to reading Larry Niven’s story ‘Neutron Star,’ available in the collection by the same name, when it first ran in a 1966 issue of IF. Those were interesting days for IF, but I better cut that further digression off at the source — more about the magazine in a future post. ‘Neutron Star’ is the story where Beowulf Shaeffer, a familiar character in Larry’s Known Space stories, first appears. If you want to see a neutron star up close and learn what its tidal forces can do, you can’t beat Niven’s tale.

Sep 8, 2019

Synthetic antiferromagnets host room-temperature skyrmions

Posted by in categories: particle physics, transportation

Researchers have succeeded in stabilizing antiferromagnetic skyrmions in an ordinary material system at room temperature for the first time. The new result will be important for future real-world applications that make use of these tiny magnetic particle objects.

Magnetic skyrmions are quasiparticle magnetic spin configurations with a swirling vortex-like structure. They can be thought of as 2D knots (or “spin textures”) in which the magnetic moments rotate about 360° within a plane. They were first discovered about ten years ago in non-centrosymmetric manganese-silicon and cobalt-iron-silicon crystals, but they are now known to occur in a wide range of materials, including ultra-thin magnetic multilayers, which are much more compatible with potential future applications.

Magnetic skyrmions could be used as storage bits in next-generation memories that have a much higher density than today’s disk drives thanks to their small size and the fact that they can be efficiently controlled with spin currents. They are also robust to external perturbations.

Sep 8, 2019

As computers play a bigger role in warfare, the dangers to humans rise

Posted by in categories: military, robotics/AI

T HE CONTEST between China and America, the world’s two superpowers, has many dimensions, from skirmishes over steel quotas to squabbles over student visas. One of the most alarming and least understood is the race towards artificial-intelligence-enabled warfare. Both countries are investing large sums in militarised artificial intelligence (AI), from autonomous robots to software that gives generals rapid tactical advice in the heat of battle. China frets that America has an edge thanks to the breakthroughs of Western companies, such as their successes in sophisticated strategy games. America fears that China’s autocrats have free access to copious data and can enlist local tech firms on national service. Neither side wants to fall behind.

Sep 8, 2019

Sensory overload: Some people genetically wired to detest bright lights, big sounds

Posted by in categories: entertainment, genetics

The average North American life – which values gregarious personalities, extroverted social styles, clamorous entertainment, bright lights and big sound – is simply too much for many sensitive people.

“This world is not built for sensitive people. In fact, our world is designed perfectly for those who are detached,” wrote Nicole Hollingshead, a Canadian empowerment blogger, in response to a Quora question about the highly sensitive person (HSP) trait. Her statement illustrates the way that most HSPs feel when comparing themselves to their seemingly unfazed non-HSP peers.

The term highly sensitive person was coined in the 1990s by husband and wife psychologist team Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron. The HSP trait is synonymous with the term sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) and is thought to be genetically determined and present at birth. SPS exists in 15–20 percent of the human population, and has been observed in over 100 nonhuman species.

Sep 8, 2019

How to Build Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

The problem is not that today’s A.I. needs to get better at what it does. The problem is that today’s A.I. needs to try to do something completely different.


Computer systems need to understand time, space and causality. Right now they don’t.

Sep 7, 2019

Dave Bacon: Google Quantum Computing Beyond Swag

Posted by in categories: computing, encryption, quantum physics

A talk by Dave Bacon during the Industry session of the 14th Conference on the Theory of Quantum Computation, Communication and Cryptography (TQC 2019), Day 3. TQC 2019 was hosted June 3–5, 2019 by the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the University of Maryland (QuICS). More information about TQC can be found at https://www.tqcconference.org.