Proposal For United Nations To Study Climate-Cooling Technologies Rejected
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters:
A push to launch a high-level study of potentially risky technological fixes to curb climate change was abandoned on Thursday at a U.N. environmental conference in Nairobi, as countries including the United States raised objections. "Geoengineering" technologies, which are gaining prominence as international efforts to curb climate-changing emissions fall short, aim to pull carbon out of the atmosphere or block some of the sun's warmth to cool the Earth. They could help fend off some of the worst impacts of runaway climate change, including worsening storms and heatwaves, backers say. But opponents argue the emerging technologies pose huge potential risks to people and nature, and could undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not least because many are backed by fossil-fuel interests. Observers at the U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi said the Swiss-backed proposal was rejected in part because it called for a "precautionary principle" approach to geoengineering the climate. That principle says great care must be taken in starting activities that have unclear risks for human health or the environment. The United States, Saudi Arabia and Brazil were among the strongest opponents of the proposal, with Japan also expressing reservations.
Origami-inspired Robot Gripper Grasps Objects Up To 120 Times Its Weight
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Robotic hands have a tough time getting a grip on pliable objects, but it's not for lack of trying -- most make do with rigid pincers that aren't designed for precision grasping. Fortunately, if a newly published paper is any indication, more versatile systems are on the horizon. In it, researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard describe a novel gripper design that's capable of lifting items in a range of weights, shapes, and sizes.
The team's hollow, cone-shaped gripper comprises three parts -- a 3D-printed, 16-piece silicone rubber skeleton with a gripper-to-mount connector encased by an airtight skin -- that together collapse in on objects as opposed to clutching them. It was inspired by the "magic ball," an origami design that's folded from a rectangular piece of paper pre-creased with a repeating, offset pattern that reversibly changes between a spherical and cylindrical shape. The gripper is powered by a pneumatic vacuum and covered by either a 27-inch latex rubber balloon or a TPU-coated nylon fabric sheet, depending on the configuration. The researchers tested three: one with a self-folded fabric skin skeleton, a second with a rubber-molded skeleton, and a third with a tougher rubber skeleton.
[...] In one experiment where the team mounted the gripper on a robot to test its strength, it managed to lift and grasp objects -- 12 food items, 19 different bottles and cups, and 14 miscellaneous items, some weighing over four pounds -- that were 70 percent of its diameter and up to 120 times its weight without damaging them. It currently works best with cylindrical objects like bottles and cans, according to Shuguang Li, a joint postdoctoral student at MIT CSAIL and Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), which makes it a natural fit for factory production lines.
Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better
Ben Jervey from DeSmogBlog writes about how Toyota is "
using questionable logic" to claim hybrid vehicles are superior than electric vehicles, when in reality it's only saying that because it decided years ago to invest in gasoline-electric hybrids and fuel cells in the long term instead of battery production. This decision is now coming back to haunt them. From the report:
There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn't one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota's customer defections in North America -- as Prius drivers transition to all-electric -- the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification. Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids. For years, Toyota leadership has shunned investment in all-electric cars, laying out a more conservative strategy to "electrify" its fleet -- essentially doubling down on hybrids and plug-in hybrids -- as a bridge to a future generation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. As Tesla, Nissan, and GM have led the technological shift to fully battery electric vehicles, Toyota has publicly bashed the prospects of all-electric fleets. (See, for instance, the swipe the company took at plug-in vehicles in this recent Toyota Corolla Hybrid commercial.)
Last week, at the Geneva Auto Show, a Toyota executive provided a curious explanation for the company's refusal to launch a single battery electric vehicle. As Car and Driver reported, Toyota claims that it is limited by battery production capacity and that "Toyota is able to produce enough batteries for 28,000 electric vehicles each year -- or for 1.5 million hybrid cars." In other words, because Toyota has neglected to invest in battery production, it can only produce enough batteries for a trivial number of all-electric vehicles. Due to this self-inflicted capacity shortage, the company is forced to choose between manufacturing 1.5 million hybrids or 28,000 electric cars. Using what Car and Driver called "fuzzy math," the company tried to justify the strategy to forgo electric vehicles (EVs) on environmental grounds. As Toyota explained it, "selling 1.5 million hybrid cars reduces carbon emissions by a third more than selling 28,000 EVs." As for the "fuzzy math," Toyota's calculation "seems to assume that for every hybrid sold, a fully gasoline-powered car would be taken off the road," writes Jervey. "In reality, many Toyota hybrid buyers are replacing a Toyota hybrid. And, based on
Toyota's own revelation that they are losing Prius drivers to Tesla, it stands to reason that many Toyota hybrid drivers would jump at the opportunity to transition to an all-electric Toyota."
Kids Have 'Math Anxiety' Thanks To Parents and Teachers, Report Finds
A new report out of the University of Cambridge studied the experiences of a total of 2,700 primary and secondary students in the UK and Italy and found that primary and secondary school girls
had higher levels of both math anxiety and general anxiety than boys. "The study also focuses on how parents and teachers shape math performance and attitudes, perhaps without even realizing it," adds Motherboard. "In the same way that anxious parents
can shape their children's anxiety, math-anxious mentors can shape how kids view their own math anxiety." From the report:
The new study builds on previous research by highlighting the importance of teachers and parents' own math anxieties impacting students. Most students that the researchers talked to said that their anxiousness started when the math topics became more challenging, and they felt like they couldn't do them. Another reason the students' said they were struggling was because multiple teachers were teaching them math, and it became confusing across teaching styles. "Importantly -- and surprisingly -- this new research suggests that the majority of students experiencing maths anxiety have normal to high maths ability," Josh Hillman, Director of Education at the Nuffield Foundation, said in a press release.
Several of the excerpts of the interviews conducted by researchers with math-anxious kids are heartbreaking: Many described feelings that they knew the answers but panicked, or tried to battle through initial confusion. One child, around 9 or 10 years old, said: "Once, I think it was the first day and he picked on me, and I just kind of burst into tears because everybody was staring at me and I didn't know the answer. Well I probably knew it but I hadn't thought it through." Another described doing a fractions test: "It means like enormously [nervous], and enormously means like massively... I felt very unwell and I was really scared and because my table's in the corner, I kind of just like tried to not be in the lesson."
You Will Soon Be Able To Pay Your Subway Fare With Your Face in China
China has led the world in adoption of smartphone-based mobile payments to the point where the central bank had to remind merchants not to discriminate against cash. The
next phase of development may be to pay with your face.
South Morning China Post:
In Shenzhen, the local subway operator is testing various advanced technologies backed by the ultra-fast 5G network, including facial-recognition ticketing. At the Futian station, instead of presenting a ticket or scanning a QR bar code on their smartphones, commuters can scan their faces on a tablet-sized screen mounted on the entrance gate and have the fare automatically deducted from their linked accounts. Currently in a trial mode, the facial-recognition ticketing service could in future help improve the efficiency of handling the up to 5 million rides per day on the city's subway network. Shenzhen Metro did not elaborate when it will roll out the facial payment service. The introduction of facial recognition-and-payment services to the public transit system marks another step by China toward integrating facial recognition and other artificial intelligence-based technology into everyday life in the world's most populous nation. Consumers can already pay for fried chicken at KFC in China with its "Smile to Pay" facial recognition system, first introduced at an outlet in Hangzhou in January 2017.
Samsung Is Working On 'Perfect Full-Screen' Devices With Selfie Cameras Under the Display
a report from Yonhap News Agency, Samsung's vice president of its display R&D group, Yang Byung-duk, said the company is working on making the entire front of its phones a screen,
with no need for bezels or a camera cutout of any kind. He said that "though it wouldn't be possible to make (a full-screen smartphone) in the next 1-2 years, the technology can move forward to the point where the camera hole will be invisible, while not affecting the camera's function in any way." The Verge reports:
The comments come less than a month after Samsung announced its latest flagship, the Galaxy S10, which is the company's first phone to have a "hole-punch" cut out from its display for the selfie camera. Yang called the S10's Infinity-O display a "milestone" for the company, but suggested that Samsung eventually plans to place the selfie camera under the display itself, removing the need for any cut out or pop-up mechanism.
Musician Creates a Million-Hour Song Based On the Number Pi
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard:
"When users hit 'play' on the virtual tape deck, the algorithm actually 'performs' the piece," the report says. "This way, the 114-year song can fit in just one gigabyte of space, which is mostly comprised of the digits of Pi. The virtual tape deck was also a solution to a built-in quirk of browsers such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox -- users must click on a webpage to trigger a sound." From start to finish, the song lasts 999,999 hours, "a limitation imposed by only considering the first one billion digits of Pi."
NVIDIA Launches New $219 Turing-Powered GeForce GTX 1660
NVIDIA took the wraps off yet another lower cost Turing-based graphics card today, dubbed the GeForce GTX 1660. For a $219 MSRP, the card offers a cut-down NVIDIA TU116 GPU comprised of 1408 CUDA cores with a 1785MHz boost clock and 6GB of GDDR6 RAM with 192.1GB/s of bandwidth. Generally speaking, the new GeForce GTX 1660 is 15% to 30% faster than NVIDIA's previous generation GeForce GTX 1060 but doesn't support new ray tracing and DLSS features that the majority of NVIDIA's new Turing cards support. Performance-wise, GeForce GTX 1660 is generally faster than an AMD Radeon RX 590 overall. Boards from various OEM partners should be in the channel for purchase this week.
Microsoft Announces Xbox Live For Any iOS Or Android Game
bringing its Xbox Live network to iOS and Android devices. "The software giant is launching a new cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) for game developers to bring Xbox Live functionality to games that run on iOS and Android," reports The Verge. "Xbox Live features like achievements, Gamerscore, hero stats, friend lists, clubs, and even some family settings will all be available on iOS and Android." From the report:
It's all part of a bigger push from Microsoft to make its Xbox games and services available across multiple platforms. Game developers will be able to pick and choose parts of Xbox Live to integrate into their games, and it will all be enabled through a single sign-in to a Microsoft Account. Microsoft is using its identity network to support login, privacy, online safety, and child accounts. Microsoft wants game developers to take a similar Minecraft approach and bring Xbox Live to more mobile games. Some iOS and Android games already have Xbox Live Achievements, but they're only enabled in titles from Microsoft Studios at the moment and this new SDK will open up Xbox Live functionality to many more games.
If you were hoping to see Xbox Live on Nintendo Switch then you might have to wait a little longer. "Our goal is to really unite the 2 billion gamers of the world and we're big fans of our Xbox Live community, but we don't have any specific announcements as it relates to Switch today," reveals Choudhry. Xbox Live on PlayStation 4 also looks unlikely, but Microsoft is open to the idea if Sony is willing to allow it. "If you've watched us for the past few years, we've taken a very inclusive approach," says Choudhry. "Phil [Spencer] has been very proactive on issues like crossplay, cross-progression, and uniting gamer networks, and we're willing to partner with the industry as much as we possibly can."
Boeing 737 Max Crashes 'Linked' By Satellite Track Data, FAA Says
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on March 13, citing new data that showed a possible link between the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and the crash of a Lion Air flight off the coast of Indonesia last October. In an interview with NPR's David Greene this morning, acting FAA Director Dan Ewell said that "newly refined satellite data" from a flight telemetry system had led the agency to make the move. Both Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (ET302) and Lion Air Flight 610 (JT610) were recently acquired 737 MAX 8 aircraft, and both were lost with all aboard just minutes after take-off. According to the emergency order issued by the FAA, "new information from the wreckage concerning the aircraft's configuration just after takeoff that, taken together with newly refined data from satellite-based tracking of the aircraft's flight path, indicates some similarities between the ET302 JT610 accidents that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed."
The source of the data in question is a combination of telemetry feeds from the flights' Automatic Dependent Surveillance(ADS) system. Introduced in the US in 2001 and more widely worldwide in the wake of the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 in 2014, Europe has required most aircraft to carry the UHF-band ADS-Broadcast (ADS-B) system since 2017, and the FAA has mandated ADS-B for most aircraft by 2020. While ADS-B data was initially meant to be picked up by other aircraft and ground stations, it is also tracked by satellites. Other, less-granular telemetry data sent in the subscription-based ADS-addressed/Contract (ADS-A/ADS-C) format, the Future Air Navigation System(FANS), and the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) are also picked up by satellite.
The Hottest Chat App for Teens is Google Docs
An anonymous reader shares a report:
As more and more laptops find their way into middle and high schools, educators are using Google Docs to do collaborative exercises and help students follow along with the lesson plan. The students, however, are using it to organize running conversations behind teachers' backs. Teens told me they use Google Docs to chat just about any time they need to put their phone away but know their friends will be on computers. Sometimes they'll use the service's live chat function, which doesn't open by default, and which many teachers don't even know exists. Or, they'll take advantage of the fact that Google allows users to highlight certain phrases or words, then comment on them via a pop-up box on the right side: They'll clone a teacher's shared Google document, then chat in the comments, so it appears to the causal viewer that they're just making notes on the lesson plan. If a teacher approaches to take a closer look, they can click the "Resolve" button and the entire thread will disappear.
If the project isn't a collaborative one, kids will just create a shared document where they'll chat line by line in what looks like a paragraph of text. "People will just make a new page and talk in different fonts so you know who is who," Skyler said. "I had one really good friend and we were in different homerooms. So, we'd email each other a doc and would just chat about whatever was going on." At the end of class, they just delete a doc or resolve all the comments. Rarely does anyone save them the way previous generations may have stored away paper notes from friends.
A Worry For Some Pilots: Their Hands-On Flying Skills Are Lacking
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Pilots now spend more time learning automated systems than practicing hands-on flying, so newer pilots are less comfortable with taking manual control when the computer steers them wrong, according to interviews with a dozen pilots and pilot instructors at major airlines and aviation universities around the world. "The automation in the aircraft, whether it's a Boeing or an Airbus, has lulled us into a sense of security and safety," said Kevin Hiatt, a former Delta Air Lines pilot who later ran flight safety for JetBlue. Pilots now rely on autopilot so often, "they become a systems operator rather than a stick-and-rudder pilot."
As a result, he said, "they may not exactly know or recognize quickly enough what is happening to the aircraft, and by the time they figure it out, it may be too late." [...] While automation has contributed to the airline industry's stellar safety record in recent years, it has also been a factor in many of the crashes that have still occurred around the world. A 2011 study by a federal task force found that in about 60 percent of 46 recent accidents, pilots had trouble manually flying the plane or handling the automated controls. Complicated automation systems can also confuse pilots and potentially cause them to take action they shouldn't, pilots said.
DARPA Is Building a $10 Million, Open Source, Secure Voting System
For years security professionals and election integrity activists have been pushing voting machine vendors to build more secure and verifiable election systems, so voters and candidates can be assured election outcomes haven't been manipulated. Now they might finally get this thanks to a new $10 million contract the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched to design and build a secure voting system that it hopes will be impervious to hacking.
The first-of-its-kind system will be designed by an Oregon-based firm called Galois, a longtime government contractor with experience in designing secure and verifiable systems. The system will use fully open source voting software, instead of the closed, proprietary software currently used in the vast majority of voting machines, which no one outside of voting machine testing labs can examine. More importantly, it will be built on secure open source hardware, made from special secure designs and techniques developed over the last year as part of a special program at DARPA. The voting system will also be designed to create fully verifiable and transparent results so that voters don't have to blindly trust that the machines and election officials delivered correct results.
Mercury -- Not Venus -- is the Closest Planet To Earth on Average, New Research Finds
finding presented by a team of scientists who have published their results this week in an article in the magazine Physics Today. From a report:
They explain that our methods of calculating which planet is "the closest" oversimplifies the matter. But that's not all. "Further, Mercury is the closest neighbor, on average, to each of the other seven planets in the solar system," they write. Wait -- what?
Our misconceptions about how close the planets are to one another comes from the way we usually estimate the distances to other planets. Normally, we calculate the average distance from the planet to the Sun. The Earth's average distance is 1 astronomical unit (AU), while Venus' is around 0.72 AU. If you subtract one from the other, you calculate the average distance from Earth to Venus as 0.28 AU, the smallest distance for any pair of planets. But a trio of researchers realized that this isn't an accurate way to calculate the distances to planets. After all, Earth spends just as much time on the opposite side of its orbit from Venus, placing it 1.72 AU away.
One must instead average the distance between every point along one planet's orbit and every point along the other planet's orbit. The researchers ran a simulation based on two assumptions: that the planets' orbits were approximately circular, and that their orbits weren't at an angle relative to one another.
Facebook Apologizes for Outages, Says It Has Resolved 'Server Configuration' Error That Led To Access Problems
Facebook is sorry: The social media giant apologized for the technical errors that left many users globally
unable to access apps for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp starting Wednesday and stretching into Thursday, and
said it's fixed the glitch. From a report:
About 24 hours after users began reporting problems with Facebook, Instagram and other apps, Facebook announced Thursday -- on Twitter -- that it had resolved them and that its systems are "recovering." "Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services. We've now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering," the company said in a tweet. "We're very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone's patience."
Quantum Computer Not Ready To Break Public Key Encryption For At Least 10 Years, Some Experts Say
The Register has spoken to some experts to get a better understanding of the risk quantum computers present to the existing encryption systems we have today. Richard Evers, cryptographer for a Canadian security biz called Kryptera, argues that media coverage and corporate pronouncements about quantum computing have left people with the impression that current encryption algorithms will soon become obsolete. But they will not be ready for at least 10 years, he said. As an example, Evers points to remarks made by Arvind Krishna, director of IBM research, at The Churchill Club in San Francisco last May, that those interested in protecting data for at least ten years "should probably seriously consider whether they should start moving to alternate encryption techniques now." In a post Evers penned recently with his business partner Alastair Sweeny, he contends, "The hard truth is that widespread beliefs about security and encryption may prove to be based on fantasy rather than fact." And the reason for this, he suggests, is the desire for funding and fame.
Tumblr's Web Traffic Has Dropped From 520 Million Page Views in December 2018 To 370 Million Page Views in February This Year Following Adult Content Ban
Tumblr's ban on pornography and adult content has led to an estimated fifth of its users deserting the platform. From a report:
Tumblr's ban on pornography and adult content has led to a fifth of its users deserting the platform, figures reveal. The ban, which came into effect on 17 December, provoked a backlash from users who claimed it would penalise sex-positive, LGBT and NSFW art communities. Visits to the Tumblr website fell from 521 million in December to 437 million in January and 370 million in February, according to data from web analytics firm SimilarWeb. Tumblr's decision to update its content policy came after the discovery of child sexual abuse imagery on its blogs.
Dropbox Now Limits Free Users To 3 Devices
Dropbox has quietly removed unlimited device linking for free accounts, meaning that unless you upgrade to one of its paid plans, which start at $8.25 per month,
you will be restricted to three devices for a single account. From a report:
The change was rolled out earlier this month, though it's worth noting that those who had linked more than three devices prior to March 2019 won't be directly affected. However, anyone who already exceeds the new limit will be impacted at some point, as they won't be able to add any more devices to their account in the future, and if they upgrade to a new phone, tablet, or computer, the three device limit will catch up with them.
Google Smashes the World Record For Calculating Digits of Pi
Pi just got bigger. Google's Compute Engine has calculated the most digits of pi ever, setting a new world record. From a report:
Emma Haruka Iwao, who works in high performance computing and programming language communities at Google, used infrastructure powered by Google Cloud to calculate 31.4 trillion digits of pi. The previous world record was set by Peter Trueb in 2016, who calculated the digits of pi to 22.4 trillion digits. This is the first time that a publicly available cloud software has been used for a pi calculation of this magnitude.
Iwao became fascinated by pi when she learned about it in math class at school. At university, one of her professors, Daisuke Takahashi, was the record holder for the most-calculated digits of pi using a supercomputer. Now, y-cruncher is the software of choice for pi enthusiasts. Created in 2009, y-cruncher is designed to compute mathematical constants like pi to trillions of digits. "You need a pretty big computer to break the world record," says Iwao. "But you can't just do this with a computer from a hardware store, so people have previously built custom machines." In September of 2018, Iwao started to consider how the process of calculating even more digits of pi would work technically. Something which came up quickly was the amount of data that would be necessary to carry out the calculations, and store them -- 170 terabytes of data, which wouldn't be easily hosted by a piece of hardware. Rather than building a whole new machine Iwao used Google Cloud.
Iwao used 25 virtual machines to carry out those calculations. "But instead of clicking that virtual machine button 25 times, I automated it," she explains. "You can do it in a couple of minutes, but if you needed that many computers, it could take days just to get the next ones set up." Iwao ran y-cruncher on those 25 virtual machines, continuously, for 121 days.
Facebook's Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times:
Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world's largest technology companies (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant's business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks. A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users. The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world's dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users' friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years. "We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. "We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so."
Halo: Master Chief Collection Is Finally Confirmed For PC, Will Include Reach
DarkRookie2 shares a report from Ars Technica:
After a seemingly endless run of rumors, the news Halo fans have been waiting for is here: the series is finally coming back to PC, and in pretty big fashion. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will arrive on Windows PCs "later this year," according to the official Halo Waypoint site, and fans will be able to buy the collection either via Steam or the Windows Store. (Anybody who's dealt with Windows 10's UWP woes will appreciate this rare example of Microsoft launching one of its first-party games on Steam at the same time as Windows Store, as opposed to delaying a Steam version for a few months.)
The game's listing confirms that PC gamers can look forward to full mouse-and-keyboard control support, along with support for resolutions up to 4K and an HDR toggle. Whether this version will also include the kinds of tweaks that hardcore PC gamers crave -- including ultra-widescreen ratios, higher frame rates, and fully remappable controls -- remains to be seen. We highly doubt Microsoft will include official mod support beyond letting players use individual games' built-in "Forge" creation tools. Halo Reach will also join the MCC when it launches on PC. Unfortunately, there's no word on cross-platform play.
The Opportunity Rover's Final Photo of Mars
pgmrdlm shares a report from CNN:
Last May, Opportunity took a look around Perseverance Valley on the inner slope of Endurance Crater's western rim. The valley is about the length of two football fields and it's full of descending shallow troughs. Ironically, Perseverance Valley became Opportunity's final resting place when a planet-encircling dust storm took over Mars in June, blocking the sun from reaching the rover's solar panels. Engineers lost contact on June 10 and persistently sent more than a thousand signals and commands to the rover over eight months until they realized the mission was over on February 13. But before those dark days, Opportunity acted like a tourist, snapping 354 photos between May 13 and June 10 that would create one last beautiful panorama of the place it will forever call home. "This final panorama (embedded in the report) embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery," said Opportunity project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavour Crater rising in the distance. Just to the left of that, rover tracks begin their descent from over the horizon and weave their way down to geologic features that our scientists wanted to examine up close. And to the far right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavour crater, pristine and unexplored, waiting for visits from future explorers."
Physicists Reverse Time Using Quantum Computer
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Phys.Org:
Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology teamed up with colleagues from the U.S. and Switzerland and returned the state of a quantum computer a fraction of a second into the past. They also calculated the probability that an electron in empty interstellar space will spontaneously travel back into its recent past. The study is published in Scientific Reports.
Quantum physicists from MIPT decided to check if time could spontaneously reverse itself at least for an individual particle and for a tiny fraction of a second. That is, instead of colliding billiard balls, they examined a solitary electron in empty interstellar space. "Suppose the electron is localized when we begin observing it. This means that we're pretty sure about its position in space. The laws of quantum mechanics prevent us from knowing it with absolute precision, but we can outline a small region where the electron is localized," says study co-author Andrey Lebedev from MIPT and ETH Zurich. The physicist explains that the evolution of the electron state is governed by Schrodinger's equation. Although it makes no distinction between the future and the past, the region of space containing the electron will spread out very quickly. That is, the system tends to become more chaotic. The uncertainty of the electron's position is growing. This is analogous to the increasing disorder in a large-scale system -- such as a billiard table -- due to the second law of thermodynamics.
"However, Schrodinger's equation is reversible," adds Valerii Vinokur, a co-author of the paper, from the Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. "Mathematically, it means that under a certain transformation called complex conjugation, the equation will describe a 'smeared' electron localizing back into a small region of space over the same time period." Although this phenomenon is not observed in nature, it could theoretically happen due to a random fluctuation in the cosmic microwave background permeating the universe. The team set out to calculate the probability to observe an electron "smeared out" over a fraction of a second spontaneously localizing into its recent past. It turned out that even across the entire lifetime of the universe -- 13.7 billion years -- observing 10 billion freshly localized electrons every second, the reverse evolution of the particle's state would only happen once. And even then, the electron would travel no more than a mere one ten-billionth of a second into the past. The researchers then attempted to reverse time in a four-stage experiment by observing the state of a quantum computer made of superconducting qubits, instead of an electron. The researchers "found that in 85 percent of the cases, the two-qubit quantum computer returned back into the initial state," reports Phys.Org. "When three qubits were involved, more errors happened, resulting in a roughly 50 percent success rate. According to the authors, these errors are due to imperfections in the actual quantum computer. As more sophisticated devices are designed, the error rate is expected to drop."