Archive

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Beagle 2 Mars lander’s remains may have been spotted on red planet.

By    12th January 2015.                Find Full Article Here:-

Artist's impression of Beagle 2 on the surface of Mars
An artist’s impression of the Beagle 2 probe on Mars – as it would have appeared if it had landed successfully.

A British Mars lander that was lost on its way to the red planet more than a decade ago may have been spotted by an orbiting spacecraft.

The Beagle 2 lander was supposed to touch down on Christmas day in 2003, but after it was released from its mothership, Mars Express, the dustbin-lid-sized craft was never heard from again.

But Beagle 2’s final resting place may finally have been discovered. Scientists operating the HiRise camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will take part in a press conference this Friday to announce “an update” on the ill-fated mission.

The HiRise camera is the only camera in Mars orbit that can image the surface in high enough detail to spot missing spacecraft. The HiRise team has already found the twin Viking landers which touched down on Mars in the 1970s and photographed Nasa’s Phoenix, Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. They have been actively hunting for Beagle 2 for several years.

An artist's impression of the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter.

An artist’s impression of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. 

“HiRise is the only camera at Mars that can see former spacecraft like Beagle 2. It’s definitely pretty close to its intended landing spot, no matter what. It entered the atmosphere at the right time and place,” said Shane Byrne, a scientist on the HiRise team at the University of Arizona. He said the team has been asked to keep more details of the announcement under wraps.

Built on a shoestring budget, Beagle 2 was meant to announce its arrival on Mars by playing a musical call sign written by the Britpop band Blur. But despite astronomers listening for the lander’s signature tune with some of the most sophisticated receivers on Earth, all they heard was silence.

Led by the late planetary scientist, Colin Pillinger at the Open University, Beagle 2 was designed to look for signs of life on Mars and carried a drilling instrument to poke beneath the surface. Its release from the European Space Agency’s orbiter, Mars Express, went smoothly, placing Beagle 2 on course for a landing site at Isidis Planitia, a huge plain near the Martian equator.

World’s largest container ship arrives at the UK Port of Felixstowe.

7th January 2015                              Find Article + Short Video Here:-

Chinese-owned CSCL Globe – longer than The Shard is tall – arrives in Felixstowe, Suffolk, after leaving Shanghai on maiden voyage.

The CSCL Globe arrives on her first visit to the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk

The CSCL Globe arrives on her first visit to the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk 
Photo: Rob Howarth/Albanpix.com

The world’s largest ship, with a massive cargo so big it could supply everyone in the country with something, has arrived in Britain.

The Chinese-owned CSCL Globe, which is longer than The Shard is tall, left Shanghai on its maiden voyage on December 8 carrying 19,100 containers.

Four thousand of the containers – with a total of 57,000 tons of cargo of food, drink, clothing, electrical goods and furniture – are being unloaded at Felixstowe in Suffolk.

The massive ship, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea, weighs 184,000 tons and is 1,312ft long, compared to The Shard’s 1,014ft height.

The carrier – the size of four football pitches – will be returned to Asia with goods from Britain.

The CSCL Globe is also calling at Rotterdam, Hamburg and Zeebrugge in Belgium before heading back to the Far East.

Guests from across the shipping industry and community were invited to a quayside lunch and VIP tour of the ship at Felixstowe.

The ship is carrying such a variety of goods, including millions of razors, it is likely everyone in the country would buy something from it.

Fully-laden, the ship can carry 156 million pairs of shoes or 300m tablet computers or 900m tins of beans.

Paul Davey, of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited who owns the port of Felixstowe, said: “The arrival of this ship represents a first for the UK.

“It is important economically, the direct call recognises the scale of the UK economy, and economies-of-scale provide the most efficient way to get UK exports to important Asian markets.”

Rosetta discovers water on comet 67p like nothing on Earth.

December 11, 2014 1 comment

Findings from Rosetta spacecraft’s Rosina instrument appear to suggest previously held theory is simplistic.

Comet 67p
The makeup of water on comet 67p has wrongfooted researchers. Photograph: AP

The Rosetta spacecraft has detected water coming off comet 67P, the rubber duck-shaped lump of ice and dust that it placed the Philae robotic lander on last month.

The presence of water is not a surprise, but what has wrong-footed researchers is the makeup of the water, which is nothing like that seen on Earth.

Measurements from Rosetta’s Rosina instrument found that water on comet 67P /Churyumov-Gerasimenko contains about three times more deuterium – a heavy form of hydrogen – than water on Earth.

The discovery seems to overturn the theory that Earth got its water, and so its ability to harbour life, from water-bearing comets that slammed into the planet during its early history.

Comet 67P is thought to have come from what is called the Kuiper belt, a broad band of frozen bodies that begins beyond the orbit of Neptune. The main asteroid belt contains more rocky objects that circle the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Kathrin Altwegg at the University of Bern said that rather than comets ferrying water to Earth, it may have arrived onboard asteroids instead. Details of the discovery are reported in the journal, Science.

“Today asteroids have very limited water, that’s clear. But that was probably not always the case, said Altwegg. In the earliest period of the solar system, 3.8bn years ago, asteroids are thought to have crashed into Earth regularly in what is called the late heavy bombardment. “At that time, asteroids could well have had much more water than they have today,” Altwegg said.

The Rosina instrument measured water coming off the comet as it flew around the body. Scientists plan to take more measurements as the comet nears the sun and its begins to spew more water vapour and dust out into space.

Measurements from other comets have found water with similar deuterium contents to that on Earth. But the strange composition of comet 67P’s water suggests that the picture of comets bringing water to Earth is too simplistic. “In the end, Earth’s oceans are probably a mix of many things,” Altwegg told New Scientist magazine.

Matt Taylor, Rosetta project scientist, said that teams at the European Space Agency were still looking for the Philae lander, which ran out of battery power soon after it bounced down onto the comet’s surface.

“Once we get the identification of where the lander is, it will give us a better fix on what we believe the illumination conditions are and a better idea of when we would expect the lander to have sufficient illumination to be able to start charging its batteries and come back online,” he said.

If the Philae lander can summon enough power from the feeble sunlight to come out of hibernation, a British instrument called Ptolemy could help to verify whether the water measurements from Rosetta are accurate. But another option is for Rosetta to fly through the jets of debris that will grow as the comet closes in on the sun.

“Part of our future plan is to do this,” said Taylor. “We’re focusing on what is known as an activity campaign to try and fly directly through a jet and we aim to do that hopefully around summertime next year.”

The coming nuclear crisis: All but one of Britain’s ageing reactors ‘will need to close in 15 years’.

By Steve Connor  1st December 2014.         Find Article Here:-

Nearly all the UK’s stations were built in the 70s and 80s.

All but one of Britain’s ageing fleet of nuclear reactors will have to be closed down within 15 years due to concerns over their economic viability or safety, a panel of experts has warned.

Only Sizewell B power station will still be operating beyond 2030, which would leave a shortfall of about 20 per cent in the UK’s power demands unless replacement nuclear reactors come on-stream in the 2020s, they said.

Britain’s existing nuclear reactors apart from Sizewell B are operating beyond their original lifetime specifications, but they are still working as safely as they were designed to be, said Professor Laurence Williams, a former chief inspector of nuclear installations.

“They have been designed safely to operate for a given period of time and the knowledge we’ve gained through the operation means we can extend that lifetime, so yes they are fit for purpose,” Professor Williams said at a press briefing in London.

However, Professor Williams warned that there will be a point when either it will be uneconomic to continue operating a given nuclear reactor, due to the additional maintenance work needed, or if it becomes too unsafe.

“With these types of reactors there comes a time when either it becomes too expensive to do the inspections to make the modifications necessary, or we come to the view that the utility can no longer make the safety case,” Professor Williams said.

“Are we as a country allowing reactors which are potentially unsafe to continue to operate because we need them and I would say categorically ‘no’,” he said.

“They are fit for purpose because they generate 18 per cent of the UK’s electricity and they are generating that safely and economically. Who knows when the decision will be taken that these reactors are no longer fit for purpose,” he added.

Almost all of Britain’s nuclear power stations were built in either the 1970s or 1980s and most had a design life of about 25 years. However, due to a Government moratorium on building new nuclear power stations, these ageing reactors have been kept running far longer than anticipated.

“Certainly the reactors are not getting any younger and you may expect as materials age, issues may arise,” said Professor Andrew Sherry, director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute at Manchester University.

“The reactors are ageing and just as you spend money keeping your car going there will come a point where it is just not cost efficient to keep a reactor operating,” Professor Sherry said.

“It’s a balance between ‘is it economic?’ and ‘can we make the safety case?’. For some of the reactors they will be working towards 50 years, which is the current best view,” he said.

One of the main concerns is the safety of the graphite moderators within the reactors, which absorb neutrons and prevent an uncontrolled chain reaction. Scientists are concerned that the graphite becomes brittle and cracked over time.

“A single crack is no big deal. It’s a question of how many, where they are and what’s going to happen in the future,” said Professor James Marrow of Oxford University.

“It’s thinking ahead to the long term of how this situation is going to change and at what point do I need to do something. The graphite is ageing as predicted,” he said.

Study: Cellphone Use ‘Triples Brain Tumor Rates’.

By Mike Barrett  12th November 2014.           Find Article Here:-

cell phone

Did you ever wonder how a cell phone might affect your brain? When you think about it, the use of cell phones is massively experimental, as we had no idea what kind of negative effects they might have on people when they were first introduced. Well now, decades after heavy use of cell phones, a study shows that brain tumor rates nearly triple after 25 years of cell phone use.

The Swedish study, published in the journal Pathophysiology, found that the longer someone talked on their phone — in terms of hours and years — the more likely they were to develop glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer.

The study found that, overall, people who used wireless phones for more than a year were at 70% greater risk of brain cancer as compared to those who used wireless phones for a year or less. Those who used wireless phones for more than 25 years were at a 300% greater risk of brain cancer than those who used wireless phones for a year or less.

Dr. Gabriel Zada, a neurosurgeon at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the study, said that the study provides more evidence that cell phones and brain cancer may be linked.

Indeed, the Swedish study came to similar conclusions as many other studies – that cell phone use increases brain cancer risk. Another study examining how cell phones might fuel brain cancer followed nearly 800,000 middle-aged women for seven years. In that time, there were 51,680 invasive cancers and 1,261 cancers of the central nervous system. But when analyzing the data and looking at the women who reported using cell phones for over ten years, a 10% increase in meningioma risk was discovered.

Here is the good news: even though the Swedish study mentioned above tripled the risk of developing glioma, the chances of someone being diagnosed with this type of brain tumor are extremely low. One study found that just more than 5 out of 100,000 Europeans (.005%) were diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor between 1995 and 2002. Tripling that rate puts the chances of developing glioma at .016%.

But even still, there are numerous ways cell phones could negatively affect your brain. So what can you do to prevent these potential negative effects? Whether you have the latest LTE technology or an old flip-phone, you can minimize your exposure to cell phone radiation by:

  • Seldom holding the phone up to your head. This can be accomplished by either using the speaker option or using headphones with a microphone attached.
  • Not sleeping with your phone next to you, and turning it off at night.
  • Shutting it off while not in use.
  • Look into, heavily research, and invest in radiation protection options for your phone.
  • Placing your phone in ‘airplane’ mode if you cannot turn it off entirely.
  • Informing everyone of the dangers of cellphone use.

Ad-Blocker Ghostery Actually Helps Advertisers, If You “Support” It.

Alan Henry  19th June 2013.          Find Article Here:-

If you’ve read our features on how to protect your privacy and stop everyone from tracking you on the web, you’ve heard us mention Ghostery. It’s a solid privacy tool, but Mashable reports that you should stay away from its opt-in “GhostRank” feature, which sells data on the ads you block to the ad companies themselves.

Ghostery is owned by Evidon, a company that collects and provides data to advertising companies. It has a feature called GhostRank that you can check to “support” them. The problem is, Ghostery blocks sites from gathering personal information on you—but Ghostrank will take note the ads you encounter and which ones you block, and sends that information back to advertisers so they can better formulate their ads to avoid being blocked. The data is anonymous, and Ghostery still does everything it promises to do to protect your privacy.

You could argue this is a good thing, and that it’ll help advertisers create better, less intrusive ads. The other argument is that GhostRank is a tool to build a better mousetrap, as it were—unblockable ads and better tracking cookies. That’s not lost on privacy advocates:

A major source of business for Evidon is selling data that helps ad companies ensure their compliance with AdChoices, a self-regulatory program supposed to help people opt out of targeted ads. Some experts say AdChoices is confusing to consumers, and it has been criticized by U.S. and EU policymakers. “Evidon has a financial incentive to encourage the program’s adoption and discourage alternatives like Do Not Track and cookie blocking as well as to maintain positive relationships with intrusive advertising companies,” says Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford grad student and privacy advocate active in efforts to develop a standard “Do Not Track” feature for web browsers.

Update: Adam DeMartino, of Ghostery, reached out to offer his side of the story. He says:

The data we collect in GhostRank doesn’t contain any information about the actual ads that were seen by panel members. Rather, we simply report on the technologies that are used to deliver those ads, the performance characteristics of the URLs those technologies were seen on, and if the user blocked that particular technology company. GhostRank can’t see the actual ads or anything about the criteria that were used to target them.

Fracking could be as damaging as thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser warns in new report.

By Lewis Smith  28th November 2014.             Find Article Here:-

 The report fears fracking could prove to be another innovation that takes society in the wrong direction.

Fracking has the potential to be as controversial and as damaging as thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, a report from the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser warns.

The technology has been developed to help oil companies extract gas trapped in shale rock but, the report fears, it could prove to be another innovation that takes society in the wrong direction.

Drawing a direct comparison with fracking technology chief scientist Mark Walport’s annual report said: “History presents plenty of examples of innovation trajectories that later proved to be problematic — for instance involving asbestos, benzene, thalidomide, dioxins, lead in petrol, tobacco, many pesticides, mercury, chlorine and endocrine-disrupting compounds, as well as CFCs, high-sulphur fuels and fossil fuels in general.

“In all these and many other cases, delayed recognition of adverse effects incurred not only serious environmental or health impacts, but massive expense and reductions in competitiveness for firms and economies persisting in the wrong path.”

Drilling equipment at the Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe (Getty Images)

Drilling equipment at the Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe.
The report, the Annual Report of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser 2014. Innovation: Managing Risk, Not Avoiding It. Evidence and Case Studies, said that while innovations and technological advances are to be welcomed, they need to be fully assessed.

“It is not only important that innovation be efficient and competitive in any particular direction. It is also crucial for economic and wider social wellbeing that the prioritized directions for innovation are as robustly deliberated, accountable and legitimate as possible,” it stated.

“An economy that fails to do this exposes itself to the risk that it will become committed to inferior innovation pathways that other more responsively-steered economies may avoid. In other words, innovation may ‘go forward’ quickly, but in the wrong directions.”

It added: “Whether deliberate or inadvertent, each direction for innovation is a social choice involving issues of uncertainty, legitimacy and accountability as well as competitiveness.

Fracking has been enthusiastically championed by the government (Getty Images)

Fracking has been enthusiastically championed by the government.
“It is important to acknowledge these complexities of choice, because innovation debates in particular areas often become quite simplistic and polarized.”

Fracking has been enthusiastically championed by the government but has come under intense criticism by environmental campaigners.

A joint Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report published in 2012 concluded that fracking can be “managed effectively” in the UK provided there is strong regulation.

Greenpeace UK’s energy campaigner, Louise Hutchins, described the report as a “naked emperor moment” for the government.

“Ministers are being warned by their own chief scientist that we don’t know anywhere near enough about the potential side effects of shale drilling to trust this industry,” she told The Guardian. “Ministers should listen to this appeal to reason and subject their shale push to a sobering reality check.”