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Wikinews interviews William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation

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Wikinews interviews William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation
Regardless of who wins the prize, people all around the world will be able to experience the mission through high-def video-streams.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Andreas Hornig, Wikinews contributor and team member of Synergy Moon, competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, managed to interview Senior Director of Space Prizes William Pomerantz of the X PRIZE Foundation about the competitions, goals, and impacts via e-mail for HDTVTotal.com and Wikinews.

By Wikinews,

the free news source

Other stories: Science and technology
  • 12 October 2018: Manned Soyuz space mission aborts during launch
  • 10 October 2018: UN Report on Global Warming calls for rapid ‘unprecedented’ changes globally to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degree C
  • 26 September 2018: Study suggests Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years
  • 20 September 2018: NASA’s TESS spacecraft reports its first exoplanet
  • 25 August 2018: Fossil genome shows hybrid of two extinct species of human

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Previous coverage
  • “Japanese probe snatches first asteroid sample” — Wikinews, November 26, 2005
  • “$20 million prize offered in lunar rover contest” — Wikinews, September 13, 2007

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.


This article is part of a page redesign trial on Wikinews. Please leave comments or bug reports on this redesign.This interview originally appeared on HDTVTotal.com, released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Credit for this interview goes to HDTVTotal.com and Andreas -horn- Hornig.

Dell joins Microsoft-Nortel VoIP Team

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Dell joins Microsoft-Nortel VoIP Team

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dell Inc. announced on Tuesday that it will partner up with the Microsoft-Nortel Innovative communications alliance (ICA) team to sell Unified Communications and VoIP products.

The announcement on Tuesday the 16th of October 2007 includes Dell selling VoIP, data and wireless networking products from Nortel and the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and other unified communications products.

The partnership with both manufacturers should allow Dell to provide a pre-integrated solution.

In March 2007, competitors IBM and Cisco announced they would join in the competition for developing unified communications applications and the development of open technologies around the unified communications and collaboration (UC2) client platform an application programming interfaces (APIs) offered by IBM as a subset of Lotus Sametime.

“We want to make it simple for our customers to deploy unified communications so their end users can get access to all their messages in one place – whether its e-mail, phone or mobile device. This will pave the way for more business-ready productivity tools,” said vice president of solutions, Dell Product Group, Rick Becker.

  • Customers have four options:
    • Core Office Communication Server 2007 – provides instant messaging and on-premise Microsoft Live Meeting.
    • Office Communication Server: Telephony – enables call routing tracking and management, VoIP gateway and public branch exchange (PBX) integration.
    • Audio and Video Conferencing – allows point-to-point conference, video conference and VoIP audio conference.
    • Exchange Unified Messaging – provides voicemail, e-mail and fax in Microsoft Outlook, and anywhere access of Microsoft Outlook Inbox and Calendar.

Kennedy Center names 2007 honors recipients

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Kennedy Center names 2007 honors recipients

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Kennedy Center announced that its 30th presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors would go to pianist Leon Fleisher, comedian Steve Martin, singer Diana Ross, director Martin Scorsese and musician Brian Wilson. The Center was opened to the public in 1971 and was envisioned as part of the National Cultural Center Act, which mandated that the independent, privately-funded institution would present a wide variety of both classical and contemporary performances, commission the creation of new artistic works, and undertake a variety of educational missions to increase awareness of the arts.

In a statement, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said that “with their extraordinary talent, creativity and perseverance, the five 2007 honorees have transformed the way we, as Americans, see, hear and feel the performing arts.”

Fleisher, 79, a member of the Peabody Institute‘s music faculty, is a pianist who lost use of his right hand in 1965 due to a neurological condition. He became an accomplished musician and conductor through the use of his left hand. At 67, he regained the use of his right hand. With the advent of Botox therapy, he was once more able to undertake two-hand performances in 2004, his first in four decades. “I’m very gratified by the fact that it’s an apolitical honor,” Fleisher said. “It is given by colleagues and professional people who are aware of what [an artist] has done, so it really is apolitical — and that much more of an honor.”

Martin, 62, a comedian who has written books and essays in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career, rose to fame during his work on the American television program Saturday Night Live in the 1970’s. Schwarzman praised his work as that of a “renaissance comic whose talents wipe out the boundaries between artistic disciplines.” Martin responded to the honor saying, “I am grateful to the Kennedy Center for finally alleviating in me years of covetousness and trophy envy.”

Ross, 63, was a product of Detroit‘s Brewster-Douglass Projects when as a teeager she and friends Mary Wilson and Florence Ballardis formed The Supremes, a ground-breaking Motown act. She portrayed singer Billie Holiday in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues, which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award. “Diana Ross’ singular, instantly recognizable voice has spread romance and joy throughout the world,” said Schwarzman. Ross said she was “taken aback. It is a huge, huge honor and I am excited to be in this class of people.”

Scorsese, 64, is one of the most accomplished directors the United States ever produced, whose work includes Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Cape Fear, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Departed, for which he won a 2006 Academy Award for Best Director after being nominated eight times. Scorsese said, “I’m very honored to be receiving this recognition from the Kennedy Center and proud to be joining the company of the very distinguished individuals who have received this honor in years past.”

Wilson, 65, along with his brothers Dennis and Carl, formed the Beach Boys in 1961. They had a series of hits that included “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Their 1966 album Pet Sounds is considered one of the most influential recordings in American music. “This is something so unexpected and I feel extremely fortunate to be in the company of such great artists,” said Wilson, who is currently on tour.

The Kennedy Center’s board of trustees is responsible for selecting honorees for “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.” Previous honorees, including Elton John and Steven Spielberg, also submitted recommendations. A wide variety of people were under consideration, including Emanuel Ax, Evgeny Kissin, Renee Fleming, Laurence Fishburne, Francis Ford Coppola, Melissa Etheridge and Kenny Chesney.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will attend the center’s presentation at its opera house on December 2, 2007, which will broadcast on December 26 on CBS.

Stanford physicists print smallest-ever letters ‘SU’ at subatomic level of 1.5 nanometres tall

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Stanford physicists print smallest-ever letters ‘SU’ at subatomic level of 1.5 nanometres tall

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A new historic physics record has been set by scientists for exceedingly small writing, opening a new door to computing‘s future. Stanford University physicists have claimed to have written the letters “SU” at sub-atomic size.

Graduate students Christopher Moon, Laila Mattos, Brian Foster and Gabriel Zeltzer, under the direction of assistant professor of physics Hari Manoharan, have produced the world’s smallest lettering, which is approximately 1.5 nanometres tall, using a molecular projector, called Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) to push individual carbon monoxide molecules on a copper or silver sheet surface, based on interference of electron energy states.

A nanometre (Greek: ?????, nanos, dwarf; ?????, metr?, count) is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre (i.e., 10-9 m or one millionth of a millimetre), and also equals ten Ångström, an internationally recognized non-SI unit of length. It is often associated with the field of nanotechnology.

“We miniaturised their size so drastically that we ended up with the smallest writing in history,” said Manoharan. “S” and “U,” the two letters in honor of their employer have been reduced so tiny in nanoimprint that if used to print out 32 volumes of an Encyclopedia, 2,000 times, the contents would easily fit on a pinhead.

In the world of downsizing, nanoscribes Manoharan and Moon have proven that information, if reduced in size smaller than an atom, can be stored in more compact form than previously thought. In computing jargon, small sizing results to greater speed and better computer data storage.

“Writing really small has a long history. We wondered: What are the limits? How far can you go? Because materials are made of atoms, it was always believed that if you continue scaling down, you’d end up at that fundamental limit. You’d hit a wall,” said Manoharan.

In writing the letters, the Stanford team utilized an electron‘s unique feature of “pinball table for electrons” — its ability to bounce between different quantum states. In the vibration-proof basement lab of Stanford’s Varian Physics Building, the physicists used a Scanning tunneling microscope in encoding the “S” and “U” within the patterns formed by the electron’s activity, called wave function, arranging carbon monoxide molecules in a very specific pattern on a copper or silver sheet surface.

“Imagine [the copper as] a very shallow pool of water into which we put some rocks [the carbon monoxide molecules]. The water waves scatter and interfere off the rocks, making well defined standing wave patterns,” Manoharan noted. If the “rocks” are placed just right, then the shapes of the waves will form any letters in the alphabet, the researchers said. They used the quantum properties of electrons, rather than photons, as their source of illumination.

According to the study, the atoms were ordered in a circular fashion, with a hole in the middle. A flow of electrons was thereafter fired at the copper support, which resulted into a ripple effect in between the existing atoms. These were pushed aside, and a holographic projection of the letters “SU” became visible in the space between them. “What we did is show that the atom is not the limit — that you can go below that,” Manoharan said.

“It’s difficult to properly express the size of their stacked S and U, but the equivalent would be 0.3 nanometres. This is sufficiently small that you could copy out the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the head of a pin not just once, but thousands of times over,” Manoharan and his nanohologram collaborator Christopher Moon explained.

The team has also shown the salient features of the holographic principle, a property of quantum gravity theories which resolves the black hole information paradox within string theory. They stacked “S” and the “U” – two layers, or pages, of information — within the hologram.

The team stressed their discovery was concentrating electrons in space, in essence, a wire, hoping such a structure could be used to wire together a super-fast quantum computer in the future. In essence, “these electron patterns can act as holograms, that pack information into subatomic spaces, which could one day lead to unlimited information storage,” the study states.

The “Conclusion” of the Stanford article goes as follows:

According to theory, a quantum state can encode any amount of information (at zero temperature), requiring only sufficiently high bandwidth and time in which to read it out. In practice, only recently has progress been made towards encoding several bits into the shapes of bosonic single-photon wave functions, which has applications in quantum key distribution. We have experimentally demonstrated that 35 bits can be permanently encoded into a time-independent fermionic state, and that two such states can be simultaneously prepared in the same area of space. We have simulated hundreds of stacked pairs of random 7 times 5-pixel arrays as well as various ideas for pathological bit patterns, and in every case the information was theoretically encodable. In all experimental attempts, extending down to the subatomic regime, the encoding was successful and the data were retrieved at 100% fidelity. We believe the limitations on bit size are approxlambda/4, but surprisingly the information density can be significantly boosted by using higher-energy electrons and stacking multiple pages holographically. Determining the full theoretical and practical limits of this technique—the trade-offs between information content (the number of pages and bits per page), contrast (the number of measurements required per bit to overcome noise), and the number of atoms in the hologram—will involve further work.Quantum holographic encoding in a two-dimensional electron gas, Christopher R. Moon, Laila S. Mattos, Brian K. Foster, Gabriel Zeltzer & Hari C. Manoharan

The team is not the first to design or print small letters, as attempts have been made since as early as 1960. In December 1959, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, who delivered his now-legendary lecture entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” promised new opportunities for those who “thought small.”

Feynman was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model).

Feynman offered two challenges at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society, held that year in Caltech, offering a $1000 prize to the first person to solve each of them. Both challenges involved nanotechnology, and the first prize was won by William McLellan, who solved the first. The first problem required someone to build a working electric motor that would fit inside a cube 1/64 inches on each side. McLellan achieved this feat by November 1960 with his 250-microgram 2000-rpm motor consisting of 13 separate parts.

In 1985, the prize for the second challenge was claimed by Stanford Tom Newman, who, working with electrical engineering professor Fabian Pease, used electron lithography. He wrote or engraved the first page of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, at the required scale, on the head of a pin, with a beam of electrons. The main problem he had before he could claim the prize was finding the text after he had written it; the head of the pin was a huge empty space compared with the text inscribed on it. Such small print could only be read with an electron microscope.

In 1989, however, Stanford lost its record, when Donald Eigler and Erhard Schweizer, scientists at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose were the first to position or manipulate 35 individual atoms of xenon one at a time to form the letters I, B and M using a STM. The atoms were pushed on the surface of the nickel to create letters 5nm tall.

In 1991, Japanese researchers managed to chisel 1.5 nm-tall characters onto a molybdenum disulphide crystal, using the same STM method. Hitachi, at that time, set the record for the smallest microscopic calligraphy ever designed. The Stanford effort failed to surpass the feat, but it, however, introduced a novel technique. Having equaled Hitachi’s record, the Stanford team went a step further. They used a holographic variation on the IBM technique, for instead of fixing the letters onto a support, the new method created them holographically.

In the scientific breakthrough, the Stanford team has now claimed they have written the smallest letters ever – assembled from subatomic-sized bits as small as 0.3 nanometers, or roughly one third of a billionth of a meter. The new super-mini letters created are 40 times smaller than the original effort and more than four times smaller than the IBM initials, states the paper Quantum holographic encoding in a two-dimensional electron gas, published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The new sub-atomic size letters are around a third of the size of the atomic ones created by Eigler and Schweizer at IBM.

A subatomic particle is an elementary or composite particle smaller than an atom. Particle physics and nuclear physics are concerned with the study of these particles, their interactions, and non-atomic matter. Subatomic particles include the atomic constituents electrons, protons, and neutrons. Protons and neutrons are composite particles, consisting of quarks.

“Everyone can look around and see the growing amount of information we deal with on a daily basis. All that knowledge is out there. For society to move forward, we need a better way to process it, and store it more densely,” Manoharan said. “Although these projections are stable — they’ll last as long as none of the carbon dioxide molecules move — this technique is unlikely to revolutionize storage, as it’s currently a bit too challenging to determine and create the appropriate pattern of molecules to create a desired hologram,” the authors cautioned. Nevertheless, they suggest that “the practical limits of both the technique and the data density it enables merit further research.”

In 2000, it was Hari Manoharan, Christopher Lutz and Donald Eigler who first experimentally observed quantum mirage at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. In physics, a quantum mirage is a peculiar result in quantum chaos. Their study in a paper published in Nature, states they demonstrated that the Kondo resonance signature of a magnetic adatom located at one focus of an elliptically shaped quantum corral could be projected to, and made large at the other focus of the corral.

Egyptian treasures found in ancient tomb

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Egyptian treasures found in ancient tomb

Friday, March 13, 2009

A team of archaeologists excavating an Ancient Egyptian tomb have discovered golden jewelry in a recently-discovered lower chamber at the Valley of the Kings burial site in Luxor, Egypt.

Two golden rings and five golden earrings were found in the tomb of Djehuty, an 18th-dynasty official of Queen Hatshepsut, and were probably the property of Djehuty or his family.

The discovery was announced by Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s current Minister of Culture.

Djehuty was overseer of the treasury and overseer of works for the Queen. Hatshepsut reigned approximately 1479–1458 BCE. Djehuty was responsible for managing the huge amounts of precious goods brought in from Egypt’s military expedition to Punt in the Horn of Africa and the vast building projects of Hatshepsut which have made the female pharaoh one of the most-remembered of any from ancient Egypt.

Djehuty died after Hatshepsut did, sometime during the reign of Thutmosis III. Both Hatshepsut’s and Thutmosis’s names are recorded on the tomb. In a fashion typical of ancient Egyptian rivalries, Hatshepsut’s name was partly obscured on the monument over the tomb sometime after the queen’s death.

The team, led by José Manuel Galán of the National Research Center (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC), in Madrid, Spain, had been excavating the tomb, designated TT11 and located in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga’, since 2002. While much of Djehuty’s funerary equipment was lost to fire in antiquity, the lower chamber of his tomb was concealed at the end of a three-meter shaft and discovered at the end of 2008.

A superficial description of the tomb itself was recorded almost two hundred years ago by 19th-century French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, rubble blocking the entrance hindered excavation until the 21st century. In that time, emphasis in Egyptology has changed from the cataloging of treasures to the investigation of ancient culture, life and religion.

Since excavation began, Djehuty’s tomb has yielded a number of surprises. It was discovered that the tomb was re-used repeatedly up to and during the Greco-Roman period. There is an unusual face-on depiction of pharaoh Thutmosis III hunting ducks, and the mummy of a young, bejewelled, as-yet unidentified woman.

In 2007, 44 preserved bunches of flowers thought to be from Djehuty’s funeral were found in the site. In their 8th season of excavation, which ended on February 22, 2009, the team also found considerable evidence that below Djehuty’s tomb is a network of burial sites from the 11th dynasty, four thousand years old.

The lower chamber also displays passages from the Egyptian funerary text the Book of the Dead on its walls and a colorful mural of the goddess Nut, an embodiment of the heavens, on the ceiling. The names of Djehuty and his parents were also intact in the second chamber; the names were defaced in the previously-known first chamber of the tomb, which had also been looted.

According to a press release from Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Djehuty’s tomb is only the fifth known decorated burial chamber of the 18th dynasty. An additional unusual feature of the tomb is that its upper chamber is decorated in relief, rather than simply paint. When the excavation is completed, Dr Galán’s team plans to open the site to the public as the carved stoneworks will not be destroyed by tourists’ activities as paint would.

The identification of Djehuty is a complicated one, as a number of officials of the 18th dynasty bore the name, including a general and several governors. The name itself is an alternate transliteration of the name of the Egyptian god usually written in English as Thoth.

Parents prosecuted after homeopathic treatment leads to daughter’s death

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Parents prosecuted after homeopathic treatment leads to daughter’s death

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thomas Sam, 42, and his wife Manju Sam, 36, from Sydney, Australia, are undergoing trial for manslaughter by gross negligence for the death of their nine-month-old child, Gloria. She died from infection caused by severe eczema after they shunned effective conventional medical treatments for homeopathy, a form of alternative medicine that has been described as pseudoscience. Articles in peer-reviewed academic journals including Social Science & Medicine have characterized homeopathy as a form of quackery.

Gloria developed severe eczema at the age of four months and the parents were advised to send the child to a skin specialist. Thomas Sam, a practising homeopath, instead decided to treat his daughter himself. His daughter’s condition deteriorated, to the point that the baby spent all her energy battling the infections caused by the constant breaking of the skin, leading to severe malnutrition and, eventually, her death. By the end, Gloria’s eczema was so severe that her skin broke every time her parents changed her clothes or nappy, and in the words of the Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, “Gloria spent a lot of the last five months of her life crying, irritable, scratching and the only thing that gave her solace was to suck on her mother’s breast.” Gloria also became unable to move her legs.

Mr. Tedeschi also told the court that, over the last five months of her life, “Gloria’s eczema played a devastating role in her overall health and it is asserted by the Crown that both her parents knew this and discussed it with each other.” However, despite their child’s severe illness, and her lack of improvement, the Sams continued to shun conventional medical treatment, instead seeking help from other homeopaths and naturopaths. Gloria temporarily improved during the rare times they used conventional treatments, but they soon dropped them in favour of homeopathy, and she consistently worsened.

Allegedly, Thomas’ sister pleaded with him to send Gloria to a conventional medical doctor, but he replied “I am not able to do that”. The parents are also accused of putting their social life ahead of their child, taking her on a trip to India and leaving her to servants while embarking on a busy social schedule, and giving her homeopathic drops instead of using the prescription creams they had been given.

Gloria was finally taken to the emergency department shortly before her death. By this time, “her skin was weeping, her body malnourished and her corneas melting”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Speaking in the parents’ defense, Tom Molomby, SC, said that, as the parents came from India, where homeopathy is in common use, they should be declared not guilty due to cultural differences.

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine which treats patients with massively diluted forms of substances that, if given to a healthy person undiluted, would cause symptoms similar to the disease. Typical treatments take the dilutions, with ritualised shaking between each step of the dilution, past the level where any molecules of the original substance are likely to remain; for homeopathic treatments to work, basic well-understood concepts in chemistry and physics would have to be wrong. There is no evidence that homeopathy is more effective than placebo for any condition.

CanadaVOTES: NDP candidate Don Davies running in Vancouver Kingsway

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CanadaVOTES: NDP candidate Don Davies running in Vancouver Kingsway
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Friday, September 26, 2008

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. New Democratic Party candidate Don Davies is standing for election in the riding of Vancouver Kingsway.

A lawyer, he has spent the last 25 years fighting for human rights. A two-time student government representative, Davies was involved in the anti-apartheid, third world and peace movements. Admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1989, Davies and family moved to Vancouver in 1991, where he became the Director of Legal Resources for Teamsters Canada (Local 31), the next year. He is a long-time volunteer for children’s charity Variety, is Chair of the Parent Advisory Council at Mount Pleasant school, and a Director of the Meridian Cultural Society, among other things.

Wikinews contacted Don Davies, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

The riding is vacant, after Conservative Minister of International Trade David Emerson’s resignation. Emerson was elected in 2004 as a Liberal, serving as the Minister of Industry. Two weeks after re-election in 2006, he crossed the floor to join then-new Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had won a minority government. Emerson was the first MP in Canadian history to cross the floor before a new government was sworn in. He has stepped down, after pressure from other parties.

Besides Davies, major party candidates include Liberal Wendy Yuan, Conservative Salomon Rayek, and Green Doug Warkentin. Also putting their hat in the ring are Matt Kadioglu (Libertarian), Kimball Cariou (Communist), and Donna Peterson (Marxist-Leninist).

For more information, visit the campaign’s official website, listed below.

This Saturday at 11 am, Davies will host NDP leader Jack Layton in the Commodore Ballroom at “rally4change”.

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NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars

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NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Monday, May 7, 2018

On Saturday, United Launch Alliance launched a Atlas V 401 rocket carrying NASA’s InSight Mars lander and two Mars Cube One (MarCO) miniature spacecraft known as cubesats. The pre-dawn launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3E in Lompoc, California was declared a success. This was the very first deep space launch from the west coast of the United States, and aimed to send a lander to the surface of the planet Mars to study its interior.

Launched alongside InSight were two MarCO cubesats, the first to be sent beyond Earth, nicknamed ‘WALL-E’ and ‘Eve’ after the protagonists of the 2008 animated science fiction film WALL-E. They were designed as a dual telecommunications relay for InSight during the spacecraft’s descent through the Martian atmosphere.

Traditionally, NASA launched interplanetary spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on the United States’ east coast. There, rockets were sent eastward over the Atlantic Ocean, borrowing the Earth’s rotational velocity to shoot their payloads out into the solar system. Due to congestion on the launch calendar at Canaveral, NASA chose to launch the spacecraft from from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the country’s west coast instead. A launch eastward from Vandenberg would have been dangerous due to densely populated areas being located downrange. Instead, rockets launched from Vandenberg were sent in a south-southeast trajectory. For Insight and MarCO, the spacecraft was placed in a temporary polar orbit after the launch, with the pair being shot towards Mars during a escape burn performed over the North Pole.

Despite a heavy fog settling in at the rocket’s launch pad in Lompoc, the United Launch Alliance declared a “100% chance of favorable weather for liftoff”. Spectators in Lompoc were treated to a mostly obscured view of the launch, though they were witness nonetheless to the sound and shock waves of the Atlas V’s Common Core first stage as it lifted the spacecraft off the ground on-schedule at 4:05 PDT (1105 UTC). People along the coast of southern California and northern Baja California, however, were in clear view of the Atlas V’s main engine burn and the first burn of the rocket’s Centaur upper stage. People in Orange County, California were treated to the sight of InSight and the Centaur almost eclipsing the planet Jupiter in the night sky.

The recently-inaugurated Administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, congratulated the InSight team in an address televised live on NASA TV after the launch, along with the United Launch Alliance on what was their 128th successful launch in a row. The InSight mission part of NASA’s Discovery program, a class of low-cost solar system exploration missions. It was selected to launch in the program after beating the Comet Hopper and Titan Mare Explorer proposals amongst responses to a 2010 request.

Both InSight and the MarCO cubesats are en route to Mars. InSight carries eight scientific instruments, including a seismometer known as Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS). The SEIS instrument will be recording the very first seismic measurements of Mars, which scientists hope will shed light on the structure of Mars beneath its surface. The lander was equipped with two cameras, based on the architecture of the Mars Exploration Rover’s navigation camera and hazard avoidance camera, to allow mission scientists to monitor the activity of the instruments. NASA scheduled a November 26 landing for InSight on a broad plain in the planet’s northern hemisphere, known as Elysium Planitia.

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Criticism over Qingzang Railway as opening nears

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Criticism over Qingzang Railway as opening nears
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Friday, April 28, 2006

            Claimed by Tibetan exile groups.
Tibetan areas designated by PRC.
Tibet Autonomous Region (actual control).
Claimed by India as part of Aksai Chin.
Claimed by the PRC as part of TAR.
Other historically culturally-Tibetan areas.

The Qingzang Railway is a project by the Chinese Government to build a unique railway linking Tibet with Mainland China. The railway will include sections at high altitude, crossing 5000 metre high mountains, long tunnels and lots of track laid on permafrost. The railway is being hailed in China as “an engineering miracle”, but has attracted criticism from across the world over fears that the railway, the first to link it to outside the region, will increase Chinese control over the Tibetan autonomous region and will erode Tibetan culture and traditions.

Currently, Tibet can only be reached by air and by road. Departing from lower-altitude airports to fly into Tibet carries the risk of experiencing high altitude sickness, and the landing at Lhasa can be ‘hair-raising’. Travelling by road means several days on a bus or hitchhiking on trucks over windy mountain roads. When the Quingzang Railway opens, it is expected that direct trains will run from Beijing and other cities.

China has long received criticism over its treatment of Tibet. The Tibet Autonomous Region excludes many areas claimed to be part of ‘historic Tibet’, and the former government of Tibet, headed by the Dalai Lama, now live in exile in India. China claims that the railway will bring greater freedoms and economic opportunities to the people of Tibet. For an area that has long been in relative isolation though, the railway is bound to have a profound effect. Locals may worry about what would happen to their trade if they were suddenly forced to compete with businesses from Mainland China. Much of Tibet is also ancient, with old buildings and traditional practices, which may be under threat from the new physical link with China.

There are also concerns from environmentalists. The passage between Tibet and China contains some unique flora and endangered animal species, such as Tibetan antelope, which may be threatened by the railroad. Construction of the railway will generate 7,000 tons of rubbish from 20,000 builders. Some of this rubbish will have been buried on the spot whilst some forms of non-degradable rubbish which may pollute water is said to have been transported to Golmud or Lhasa for treatment. A bridge is also said to have been built at Wudaoliang Basin to enable animals to cross. Once open the railway will generate more waste, and whilst the carriages are said to be enclosed, preventing passengers from throwing out rubbish, it remains to be seen what additional impact the running of the railway will create.

As well as passengers, the railway will also have a strong use in transporting freight, currently carried on trucks. This will mean that more coal and petroleum-based products will be brought into Tibet. Whilst China claims that this will enable Tibetans to stop logging pine trees for fuel, aiding the local ecology, the railway will accelerate Tibet’s use of climate-damaging fossil fuels.

Some Canadian student groups had called for a boycott of the Bombardier Transportation group, who has a contract with China to provide some of the carriages.

Most of the line is now complete, ahead of schedule. Signaling equipment is currently being installed, with trials said to begin in July. The railway is scheduled to open fully in 2007. Luxury carriages will carry tourists, with sleeping compartments and oxygen tanks to enable breathing within the high-altitude areas.

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‘Piano Man’ speaks and is identified, returns home to Germany

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‘Piano Man’ speaks and is identified, returns home to Germany
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The man known as just the ‘Piano Man‘ has left the hospital where he was staying and has returned home to his native Germany. He has finally spoken after four months of silence.

It turns out, according to British tabloid The Daily Mirror, that the man, aged 20, was from Germany but after losing his job in Paris, traveled to the UK through the Channel Tunnel. He was going to commit suicide when he was found by police on a Kent beach.

He refused to talk to authorities due to his distressed state. It appears that he had formerly worked with mental patients and copied what he saw from them to fool the doctors. Also according to the Mirror, the man was only able to tap the same piano key repeatedly, but hospital officials refute this. However, all of this information came from a single, unidentified source.

The man was found soaking wet on a beach in Kent in an expensive-looking suit from which all the labels had been removed.

Some people believed he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or that he was an autistic savant. Some also believed he was a Canadian eccentric, a French busker, a student from Norway, or Czech concert pianist Tomáš Strnad.

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