This Weirdly Geometric Iceberg Is Freaking Us Out

Well here’s something you don’t see everyday: an iceberg so unbelievably geometric in shape you’d think it was deliberately carved with a gigantic chainsaw. Scientists have documented this sort of thing before, but this latest ‘berg, which recently split from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf, happens to be a rather extraordinary example.

What you’re looking at here is a tabular iceberg. Unlike the icebergs of non-tabular variety, such as the irregularly shaped berg that sunk the Titanic, these chunks of ice are distinguished by their flat tops, steep sides, and sometimes massive sizes. At their largest, tabular icebergs can extend for hundreds of miles in length, and reach hundreds of feet below the surface.

NASA scientists spotted this iceberg in Antarctica on October 16 as part of the Operation IceBridge program—an ongoing mission to monitor polar regions and track the planet’s global climate system.

Tabular icebergs are the remnants of calving events, where a large strip of ice breaks free from an ice shelf. In this case, an uncannily square-shaped iceberg broke away from Larsen C, the same ice shelf that produced the gigantic A-68 iceberg back in July 2017. Based on its relatively smooth edges and pristine condition, this berg likely only calved very recently, according to NASA.

Speaking to LiveScience, University of Maryland Earth scientist Kelly Brunt compared calving events to a long fingernail that eventually snaps off at the end; the process often results in seemingly perfect geometric edges. This berg hasn’t been measured yet, but Brunt says it’s about one mile across (1.6 kilometers), which isn’t not particularly large. By contrast, iceberg A68’s surface area measured some 2,240 square miles (5,800 kilometers) at the time of calving. Brunt added that only about 10 percent of the iceberg’s mass is visible, the rest being underwater. So what you’re seeing here is only the tip of the…uh…you know what.

Needless to say, this photograph isn’t telling us the whole story. It’s doubtful the entire iceberg is perfectly geometric throughout. But who cares—this photo is an instant classic.

[NASA via LiveScience]

via Gizmodo

October 22, 2018 at 04:15PM

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NHTSA shuts down ‘unlawful’ autonomous school bus transporting kids in Florida

A school in Florida has been using an autonomous electric “school bus” shuttle to transport kids to and from school. Its launch was announced at the beginning of the school year, but we’re learning of it now, because the

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

has just directed the company operating the shuttle to stop.

The shuttle in question is a fully

autonomous vehicle

made by Transdev North America, called the EZ10 Generation II. According to


, Transdev’s “use of the driverless shuttle to transport school children is unlawful and in violation of the company’s temporary importation authorization.”

This shuttle could hold a total of 12 passengers and was limited to 8 mph on its school path. Transdev said it was capable of 30 mph once the appropriate infrastructure was in place. There was reportedly a safety operator on board at all times, but that was not enough to make it legal in the eyes of the government.

“Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety,” said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator. “Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project.”

A strong response like this is expected from NHTSA, but we question why it took so long for them to notice. In March, NHTSA granted Transdev permission to temporarily test and demonstrate its technology, but not use it as an actual school bus. Fast forward to August 31, and Transdev actually put out a press release saying it was going to use the shuttle to transport students. There was

TV coverage


video promotion

, even online

news stories

about this vehicle being used in the school district. Yet, here we are more than a month and a half later, with the NHTSA just now stepping in to stop it.

So with that, operation of the world’s first autonomous school bus has come to a halt. Looks like the kids will have to go back to riding along in a seatbelt-less yellow tank of steel for the time being.

Related video:

via Autoblog

October 22, 2018 at 02:26PM

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Here’s why NASA is working on a concept crewed mission to Venus

Popular science fiction of the early 20th century depicted Venus as some kind of wonderland of pleasantly warm temperatures, forests, swamps, and even dinosaurs. In 1950, the Hayden Planetarium at the American Natural History Museum were soliciting reservations for the first space tourism mission, well before the modern era of Blue Origins, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic. All you had to do was supply your address and tick the box for your preferred destination, which included Venus.

Today, Venus is unlikely to be a dream destination for aspiring space tourists. As revealed by numerous missions in the last few decades, rather than being a paradise, the planet is a hellish world of infernal temperatures, a corrosive toxic atmosphere and crushing pressures at the surface. Despite this, NASA is currently working on a conceptual manned mission to Venus, named the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC).

But how is such a mission even possible? Temperatures on the planet’s surface (about 460°C) are in fact hotter than Mercury, even though Venus is roughly double the distance from the sun. This is higher than the melting point of many metals including bismuth and lead, which may even fall as “snow” onto the higher mountain peaks. The surface is a barren rocky landscape consisting of vast plains of basaltic rock dotted with volcanic features, and several continent-scale mountainous regions.

It is also geologically young, having undergone catastrophic resurfacing events. Such extreme events are caused by the build up of heat below the surface, eventually causing it to melt, release heat, and re-solidify. Certainly a scary prospect for any visitors.

Hovering in the atmosphere

Luckily, the idea behind NASA’s new mission is not to land people on the inhospitable surface, but to use the dense atmosphere as a base for exploration. No actual date for a HAVOC-type mission has been publicly announced yet. This mission is a long term plan and will rely on small test missions to be successful first. Such a mission is actually possible, right now, with current technology. The plan is to use airships which can stay aloft in the upper atmosphere for extended periods of time.

As surprising as it may seem, the upper atmosphere of Venus is the most Earth-like location in the solar system. Between altitudes of 50km and 60km, the pressure and temperature can be compared to regions of the Earth’s lower atmosphere. The atmospheric pressure in the Venusian atmosphere at 55km is about half that of the pressure at sea level on Earth. In fact, you would be fine without a pressure suit, as this is roughly equivalent to the air pressure you would encounter at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Nor would you need to insulate yourself as the temperature here ranges between 20°C and 30°C.

The atmosphere above this altitude is also dense enough to protect astronauts from ionizing radiation from space. The closer proximity of the sun provides an even greater abundance of available solar radiation than on Earth, which can be used to generate power (approximately 1.4 times greater).

The conceptual airship would float around the planet, being blown by the wind. It could, usefully, be filled with a breathable gas mixture such as oxygen and nitrogen, providing buoyancy. This is possible because breathable air is less dense than the Venusian atmosphere and, as a result, would be a lifting gas.

The Venusian atmosphere is comprised of 97 percent carbon dioxide, about 3 percent nitrogen and trace amounts of other gases. It famously contains a sprinkling of sulphuric acid which forms dense clouds and is a major contributor to its visible brightness when viewed from Earth. In fact the planet reflects some 75 percent of the light that falls onto it from the sun. This highly reflective cloud layer exists between 45 km and 65 km, with a haze of sulphuric acid droplets underneath down to about 30 km. As such, an airship design would need to be resistant to the corrosive effect of this acid.

Luckily, we already have the technology required to overcome the problem of acidity. Several commercially available materials, including teflon and a number of plastics, have a high acidic resistance and could be used for the outer envelope of the airship. Considering all these factors, conceivably you could go for a walk on a platform outside the airship, carrying only your air supply and wearing a chemical hazard suit.

Life on Venus?

The surface of Venus has been mapped from orbit by radar on the US Magellan mission. However, only a few locations on the surface have ever been visited, all by the series of Venera missions of Soviet probes in the late 1970s. These probes returned the first—and so far only—images of the Venusian surface. Certainly surface conditions seem utterly inhospitable to any kind of life.

The upper atmosphere is a different story however. Certain kinds of extremophile organisms already exist on Earth which could withstand the conditions in the atmosphere at the altitude at which HAVOC would fly. Species such as Acidianus infernus can be found in highly acidic volcanic lakes in Iceland and Italy. Airborne microbes have also been found to exist in Earth’s clouds. None of this proves that life exists in the Venusian atmosphere, but it is a possibility that could be investigated by a mission like HAVOC.

The current climatic conditions and composition of the atmosphere are the result of a runaway greenhouse effect, (an extreme greenhouse effect that cannot be reversed) which transformed the planet from a hospitable Earth-like “twin” world in its early history. While we do not currently expect Earth to undergo a similarly extreme scenario, it does demonstrate that dramatic changes to a planetary climate can happen when certain physical conditions arise.

By testing our current climate models using the extremes seen on Venus we can more accurately determine how various climate forcing effects can lead to dramatic changes. Venus therefore provides us with a means to test the extremes of our current climate modeling, with all the inherent implications for the ecological health of our own planet.

We still know relatively little about Venus, despite it being our nearest planetary neighbor. Ultimately, learning how two very similar planets can have such different pasts will help us understand the evolution of the solar system and perhaps even that of other star systems.

Gareth Dorrian is a Post Doctoral Research Associate in Space Science, and Ian Whittaker is a Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University. This article was originally featured on The Conversation.

via Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now

October 19, 2018 at 08:24AM

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Sharing your negative emotions with your kids is better than hiding them

From crying in the toilet to leaving the house in a rage, many parents and carers don’t want their children to see them getting emotional. But is this the right thing to do, or should you come clean about your fear of spiders or how angry you are with your boss? While the topic is complex, some clear answers are beginning to emerge from the research.

Many parents worry that showing negative emotions in front of their children will cause them to suffer. For instance, children may end up thinking it’s their fault or simply “catch” the emotion. Indeed, this latter worry has a sound basis—the phenomenon of “emotional contagion” is real, and one recent study found that parents can transfer their fear of going to the dentist, for example, to their children.

On the other hand, there is the intuitive idea that we should “be real” with our children, and that they will benefit from watching a parent who struggles and eventually copes with their negative emotions like any other human being. If your child sees you doing that, then shouldn’t this help them to learn to cope with their own emotions?

The danger of suppression

There are three concepts to consider when it comes to emotional display in front of children: suppression, “uncontained” expression, and talking about emotions. Suppression of emotion is when you hide the outward signs of an emotion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well—the act of suppressing your emotion actually increases your blood pressure and physiological arousal. Observers can pick up on your distress despite your efforts to hide it, making them feel stressed, too. Recent research has also found that when parents feel negative emotions (like anger or resentment) and withhold them from their children, they experience lower relationship quality and diminished responsiveness to their child’s needs.

In fact, even babies are very tuned in to the dynamics of their parent’s interaction with them. If you dampen down these natural dynamics, babies can find it upsetting. This is dramatically illustrated in the famous “still face” experiments, in which the parent holds a flat, unresponsive expression for a brief period of time. This is a reliable stress inducer, even for very young infants—they are clearly uncomfortable with an unexpressive parent and usually make attempts to get the parent to interact with them.

On the other hand, “uncontained” expression of anger and sadness by the parent is also not helpful for the child. Uncontained means high intensity emotion, with no attempts to regulate or take ownership of it. Shouting, smashing things, and blaming someone else “for making you angry” are all examples of this. In the case of a fear of the dentist, uncontained emotion would mean acting as though dental practices really are dangerous places, rather than saying “I know I have a fear and I am trying to cope with it”.

Middle ground

So, if at one extreme suppression is bad, and at the other uncontained expression is also bad, what is the middle ground? That would be talking about emotions, taking ownership of them and showing your child that you are trying to cope with them. Classic research found that six-year-olds had better emotional understanding and perspective taking skills if their mothers had talked to them about their emotions at the age of three. In fact, the more the mothers had talked, the better the outcome.

In another study, mothers kept a diary of the emotional expressions they had shown their preschoolers, including details about how they coped with and explained these. The children of mothers who expressed more sadness and tension had higher emotional knowledge, as assessed by their teachers. And in cases where mothers explained the reasons behind their sadness to their child, the child’s prosocial behavior was found to be higher. This is most likely also the case for fathers, it is just that research on parenting has historically been carried out on mothers.

But how can you actually achieve a balanced approach at home? Consider the following three options.

  1. You are very sad and you have to leave the room to cry. Your child senses something is wrong but doesn’t know what it is.
  2. You are so sad and you can’t stop crying in front of your child.
  3. You are very sad and have a little cry, and tell your child that you are very tired and have had a bad day—and that it’s got nothing to do with them. You explain that you are going to sit down and relax and talk to your friend on the phone, and soon you will feel better.

Only the third scenario affords an opportunity for the child to learn about emotions and how to cope with them. Researchers refer to this as the parent acting as an “emotional coach”. In this style of parenting, negative emotions are viewed as an opportunity for children to learn how to solve problems.

Clearly, parents shouldn’t hide emotions or completely unleash them without limits. Instead, they should openly talk about their emotions to their child, especially about the causes of their emotions and how they are trying to deal with them.

So the next time you feel sad, angry, or frustrated and your child is watching you expressing emotion, do explain what’s going on in terms they can understand. You could be doing them a favor. It could also be good for you—children are wonderfully compassionate and will often offer some advice that will most likely put a smile on your face.

John Lambie is a Reader in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University. This article was originally featured on The Conversation.

via Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now

October 22, 2018 at 07:17AM

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Use GSMArena’s Phone Finder to Pick Your Next Smartphone

For most, buying a new smartphone is easy—you just get the latest version of whatever it is you’ve been using. If you’re dissatisfied enough, or you don’t want the latest Galaxy, Pixel, or iPhone (to name a few), then it’s time to go shopping, and you’ll have a sea of smartphones to wade through in order to find the perfect one for you.

Given just how much there is to look at—thanks, Android—searching for a new smartphone can feel daunting. Thankfully, the fine folk over at GSMArena have a handy tool you can use to narrow the field. The site’s “Phone Finder” is an incredibly useful way to search for your next smartphone based on the specs that are the most important to you. And you can pick from a lot: price, size, thickness, display resolution, camera resolution, etc.

The Phone Finder won’t be the most useful if you’re looking for the best smartphone ever created—it doesn’t offer rankings, after all, just a list of phones that match the specs that matter most to you. However, if you don’t want to spend top dollar for the most feature-packed smartphone you can get, the Phone Finder is great way to start making those agonizing price/feature trade-offs. Or, at the very least, it can help you confirm if you can actually get a 6.3″ smartphone for $200. (You can!)

Once you’ve picked your specifications and clicked on the big red “Show” button, you’ll see the list of smartphones that meet your criteria. You can click on any of them to see the device’s comprehensive specs, but I find it more useful to use the site’s “Compare” tool—right beneath “Phone Finder Results.”

The “Differences” option is a great way to quickly see what each smartphone has compared to the others you’ve selected.
Screenshot: David Murphy

Click that, then click on up to three of the smartphones you’d like more information about (aim for the boxes, not the images of the smartphones themselves). Click “Compare” again once you’ve made your picks, and you’ll get a giant table that spells out what each smartphone can do.

If the massive amount of data feels overwhelming, click on the “Differences” option to see what the smartphones have in common (gray text) and where they differ (black text), which might help make your purchasing decision.

via Lifehacker

October 22, 2018 at 02:05PM

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PlayStation Downloads are One of the Biggest Internet Traffic Hogs

Posted by

Shane McGlaun |

Mon, Oct 22, 2018 – 9:00 AM

We all know that some services consume more of the global internet bandwidth than others. It’s not hard to assume that streaming giants like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video slurp lots of internet capacity globally. What might surprise you is just how much of that global traffic PlayStation downloads generate.

Netflix makes up 15% of overall global internet traffic with YouTube in second place at 11.4%. Prime Video accounts for 3.7% of internet traffic, and surprisingly PlayStation downloads make up 2.7% of global internet traffic reports Comicbook.

With millions of PS4 consoles sold, that might not be a surprise to some. Another interesting fact from the Statista report on internet traffic is that a full 34.9% is listed as “other” services. We have no idea what those other services are, but you can bet a large part of it is “private time” related.

PlayStation downloads is very near the amount of internet traffic generated by http web browsing. And not far off Prime Video and http download in traffic generated. Xbox traffic isn’t broken out in the report and would be part of that “others” category.

via Legit Reviews Hardware Articles

October 22, 2018 at 09:01AM

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Twitter Suspends Pro-Saudi Bots Spreading Propaganda About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Photo: AP

Anyone who tweeted about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the past two weeks saw major pushback on Twitter from accounts in Saudi Arabia. But that could slow down in the coming days. Twitter has now reportedly banned an unspecified number of alleged bots that were pushing pro-Saudi propaganda.

The revelation comes from an NBC News report about the “hundreds of accounts that tweeted and retweeted the same pro-Saudi government tweets at the same time.” But Twitter doesn’t get all the credit for spotting the bot network. The accounts were first spotted by IT specialist Josh Russell, whose work was shared with the social media giant via spreadsheet.

One giveaway that many of those pro-Saudi accounts were probably bots? Hundreds were posting identical content using the hashtag #We_all_trust_Mohammad_Bin_Salman, a reference to the Saudi crown prince. Commonly called MBS for short, it’s widely believed that the crown prince ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went into the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 but never came out. Khashoggi was reportedly tortured and murdered inside the consulate and then cut into pieces and smuggled out of the consulate in bags.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied having anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance, but top officials in the country have yet to come up with an explanation for why Khashoggi is seen on surveillance video entering the consulate but never leaving. The Saudis have warned that anyone spreading “fake news” about Khashoggi’s disappearance face up to five years in prison. The Turkish government claims to have audio of Khashoggi’s murder, including evidence that he was being cut into pieces before he died.

For his part, President Trump, an unindicted co-conspirator who broke federal election laws, has said that there will be consequences for Saudi Arabia “if” the royal family is behind the murder. Trump finally acknowledged yesterday that it “certainly looks like” the journalist is dead. But Trump has also compared the situation to that of his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, who was credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women.

“Here we go again with you know you’re guilty until proven innocent,” the president told the Associated Press earlier this week.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and permanent resident of the U.S., became an exile from Saudi Arabia not for his criticism of the Saudi royal family but because he criticized President Trump shortly after he was elected president in November of 2016. Khashoggi had questioned Trump’s close relationship to Russia and what that would mean for America’s alliances in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia banned Khashoggi from writing and making TV appearances in the country in deference to the American president.

President Trump speaks in the White House on October 17, 2018
Photo: Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week, but was hesitant to assign blame or even ask hard questions. During an exchange with reporters yesterday, Pompeo didn’t want to talk about Khashoggi.

From a State Department transcript:

QUESTION: Just the latest news, if you don’t mind, Secretary. The ABC is reporting that a Turkish official says he showed you a transcript of the tape, the purported tape, and that they played you the audio. Can you respond to that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we asked you to ask questions about Panama. Do you have a question about Panama?


[Discussion about Mexico, Panama, and China]

MS NAUERT: All right, we’ve got to wrap it up.

SECRETARY POMPEO: And I will take your Khashoggi question and only that one. I’ve seen no tape. I’ve seen no – or I’ve heard no tape. I’ve seen no transcript. And the network that reported that ought to pull down the headline that says I have.

MS NAUERT: Thanks, guys.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you for speaking with us.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Do you work for ABC?

QUESTION: No, but —

SECRETARY POMPEO: You should actually ask them. They’re peers of yours. You should tell them that the Secretary of State is on the record saying this, and that they shouldn’t – they shouldn’t do that. This is wrong to do to the fiancé of Khashoggi. We should be factual when we’re reporting things about this. This is a very serious matter that we’re working diligently on. And so to put out headlines that are factually false does no one any good. You should encourage all your colleagues to behave that way. It’s most constructive when the media tells the truth. It’s very useful.

QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been reportedly urging Trump to stand by MBS, allegedly saying that the crown prince “can survive the outrage just as he has weathered past criticism,” according to the New York Times. But this international controversy doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, especially as more and more companies distance themselves from the Saudis. Numerous business leaders, including top executives at Uber and Google have pulled out of a conference in Riyadh that starts October 23 called the Future Investment Initiative, also known as Davos in the Desert.

And even Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been forced to back out of the conference. Despite promises earlier in the week that he’d still be attending, Mnuchin was finally forced yesterday to say that he wouldn’t be traveling to Riyadh later this month. Curiously, Mnuchin didn’t specify why he wouldn’t be attending.

“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin tweeted.

What a profile in courage.

[NBC News]

via Gizmodo

October 19, 2018 at 06:09AM

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