The First 'Google Translate' For Elephants Debuts
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American:
Elephants possess an incredibly rich repertoire of communication techniques, including hundreds of calls and gestures that convey specific meanings and can change depending on the context. Different elephant populations also exhibit culturally learned behaviors unique to their specific group. Elephant behaviors are so complex, in fact, that even scientists may struggle to keep up with them all. Now, to get the animals and researchers on the same page, a renowned biologist who has been studying endangered savanna elephants for nearly 50 years has co-developed a digital elephant ethogram, a repository of everything known about their behavior and communication.
[Joyce Poole, co-founder and scientific director of ElephantVoices, a nonprofit science and conservation organization, and co-creator of the new ethogram] built the easily searchable public database with her husband and research partner Petter Granli after they came to realize that scientific papers alone would no longer cut it for cataloging the discoveries they and others were making. The Elephant Ethogram currently includes more than 500 behaviors depicted through nearly 3,000 annotated videos, photographs and audio files. The entries encompass the majority, if not all, of typical elephant behaviors, which Poole and Granli gleaned from more than 100 references spanning more than 100 years, with the oldest records dating back to 1907. About half of the described behaviors came from the two investigators' own studies and observations, while the rest came from around seven other leading savanna elephant research teams.
While the ethogram is primarily driven by Poole and Granli's observations, "there are very few, if any, examples of behaviors described in the literature that we have not seen ourselves," Poole points out. The project is also just beginning, she adds, because it is meant to be a living catalog that scientists actively contribute to as new findings come in. Poole and Granli believe the exhaustive, digitized Elephant Ethogram is the first of its kind for any nonhuman wild animal. The multimedia-based nature of the project is important, Poole adds, because with descriptions based only on the written word, audio files or photographs, "it is hard to show the often subtle differences in movement that differentiate one behavior from another." Now that the project is online, Poole hopes other researchers will begin contributing their own observations and discoveries, broadening the database to include cultural findings from additional savanna elephant populations and unusual behaviors Poole and Granli might have missed.
The Vivaldi Browser Now Has Mail, Calendar, and An RSS Reader Built-In
The Vivaldi 4.0 release is
launching today, and
includes a built-in email, calendar, and RSS reader. The Verge reports:
The email client supports IMAP and POP accounts, so you can connect the vast majority of email services to it, and you can easily have messages open up in tabs rather than taking over the current window -- handy if you're the type who often needs to bounce between emails. The search is also, in my experience, very quick. The calendar and RSS reader also include most of the features I'd expect, along with a few really cool bonuses. For example, the RSS reader also supports YouTube channels, which could be handy for those who are worried about an algorithm deciding not to show a creator's videos.
The other headline feature of this Vivaldi update is built-in translation. The browser will be able to translate entire webpages (automatically, if you want) in 50 languages as of today, but the company says it'll be expanding to support 109 languages soon. While the Mail tools are desktop only, the translation is also available on Vivaldi for Android. Vivaldi has also come up with a solution for those who don't want these features taking up room in their browser: you'll be able to choose between three layouts, which will give you a basic web browser, one with a few power-user features, or the all-in-one experience with email, calendars, and RSS. All the features will still be available, even in the "Essentials" layout, but they won't be taking up space in the interface.
Americans Pocketed $4 Billion In Bitcoin Profits In 2020, Analysis Reveals
Americans got richer off bitcoin than any other country last year --
pocketing $4.1 billion in profits as the price of the volatile cryptocurrency soared to $29,000 from under $10,000, according to a new analysis. The New York Post reports:
The US was followed by China, which cashed out some $1.1 billion in profits in 2020, according to data published Monday by blockchain firm Chainalysis. Japan came in third with $900 million, followed by the United Kingdom with $800 million and Russia with $600 million. The figures only cover realized gains, meaning that profits still held in cryptocurrencies or in exchange accounts are not included.
According to Chainalysis, Americans appear to have stepped up their bitcoin investments last year, despite nationwide lockdown orders and record unemployment. US crypto investors then cashed out toward the end of the year when the price of bitcoin has soared more than three times its $9,000 price tag. While cryptocurrency profits can be hard to track due to the currencies' intentionally decentralized nature, Chainalysis produced its estimate by collecting data including deposits, withdrawals and web traffic from cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase.
Google Used Reinforcement Learning To Design Next-Gen AI Accelerator Chips
Chip floorplanning is the engineering task of designing the physical layout of a computer chip. In a paper
published in the journal Nature, Google researchers applied a deep reinforcement learning approach to chip floorplanning, creating a new technique that "
automatically generates chip floorplans that are superior or comparable to those produced by humans in all key metrics, including power consumption, performance and chip area." VentureBeat reports:
The Google team's solution is a reinforcement learning method capable of generalizing across chips, meaning that it can learn from experience to become both better and faster at placing new chips. Training AI-driven design systems that generalize across chips is challenging because it requires learning to optimize the placement of all possible chip netlists (graphs of circuit components like memory components and standard cells including logic gates) onto all possible canvases. [...] The researchers' system aims to place a "netlist" graph of logic gates, memory, and more onto a chip canvas, such that the design optimizes power, performance, and area (PPA) while adhering to constraints on placement density and routing congestion. The graphs range in size from millions to billions of nodes grouped in thousands of clusters, and typically, evaluating the target metrics takes from hours to over a day.
Starting with an empty chip, the Google team's system places components sequentially until it completes the netlist. To guide the system in selecting which components to place first, components are sorted by descending size; placing larger components first reduces the chance there's no feasible placement for it later. Training the system required creating a dataset of 10,000 chip placements, where the input is the state associated with the given placement and the label is the reward for the placement (i.e., wirelength and congestion). The researchers built it by first picking five different chip netlists, to which an AI algorithm was applied to create 2,000 diverse placements for each netlist. The system took 48 hours to "pre-train" on an Nvidia Volta graphics card and 10 CPUs, each with 2GB of RAM. Fine-tuning initially took up to 6 hours, but applying the pre-trained system to a new netlist without fine-tuning generated placement in less than a second on a single GPU in later benchmarks. In one test, the Google researchers compared their system's recommendations with a manual baseline: the production design of a previous-generation TPU chip created by Google's TPU physical design team. Both the system and the human experts consistently generated viable placements that met timing and congestion requirements, but the AI system also outperformed or matched manual placements in area, power, and wirelength while taking far less time to meet design criteria.
Instagram CEO Says Facebook Will Help Users Get Around Apple's Cut of Transactions
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC:
Facebook is setting its sights on the creator economy, hoping to allow millions of people to make a living off its family of apps. But the company wants to promote offline transactions between creators and companies in order to avoid Apple's 30% cut of in-app purchases, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said Wednesday. "When there are digital transactions that happen on iOS, Apple insists that they take 30% of that. There's a very few number of exceptions. For transactions that happen in iOS, we're going to have to abide by their rules... but in general we're going to look for other ways to help creators make a living and facilitating transactions that happen in other places," Mosseri told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "So, for instance, if we could help brands and creators vet each other and find each other, they could make those transactions happen offline. For affiliate marketing, it's real goods, not digital goods. So we're going to try and lean in to the places creators can actually make a stable living," he added.
Apple generally takes a 30% rake from purchases of software or digital goods from apps distributed through the App Store. That would mean creators would eventually have to split revenue from goods sold within the app between themselves, Facebook and Apple. (Facebook hasn't said how much of a cut it will take, but did say it will be less than 30%.) In order to skirt around that, Instagram could push for creators to connect offline with brands or other people, in an effort to make money off the iOS operating system. It'll be a key issue for the company, which has spent the past several years feuding with the Apple.
Linux X86/x86_64 Will Now Always Reserve the First 1MB of RAM
AmiMoJo shares a report from Phoronix:
The Linux x86/x86_64 kernel code already had logic in place for reserving portions of the first 1MB of RAM to avoid the BIOS or kernel potentially clobbering that space among other reasons while now Linux 5.13 is doing away with that 'wankery' and will just unconditionally always reserve the first 1MB of RAM. The Linux kernel was already catering to Intel Sandy Bridge graphics accessing memory below the 1MB mark, the first 64K of memory are known to be corrupted by some BIOSes, and similar problems coming up in that low area of memory. But rather than dealing with all that logic and other possible niche cases besides the EGA/VGA frame-buffer and BIOS, the kernel is playing it safe and just always reserving the first 1MB of RAM so it will not get clobbered by the kernel.
Apple's First AR Headset To Launch In Q2 of 2022
According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is
planning to debut its first augmented reality headset in the second quarter of 2022. MacRumors reports:
The research report focuses on prospects for key Apple supplier Genius Electronic Optical, and notes that the company will benefit from a number of upcoming VR and AR products from the likes of Facebook, Sony, and Apple: "We predict that Apple will launch AR HMD [head-mounted display] devices in 2Q22. The device will provide a video see-through AR experience, so the lens is also needed, and Genius is also a key supplier." Apple has been rumored to be working on a pair of AR-related headsets, led by an initial "mixed-reality" device that has variously been rumored to be launching in 2021 or 2022. A sleeker pair of augmented reality glasses is rumored to follow, perhaps around 2025. As recently as January, Kuo was predicting that Apple's initial AR headset would debut sometime in 2021, but by March he had pushed his prediction back to "mid-2022," more in line with today's report.
Some of the uncertainty about timing may be related to a potentially lengthy gap between announcement and launch for the AR headset. As a new platform for Apple, the company may want to announce it a number of months ahead of any product launch to give developers time to prepare. Reports have, however, indicated that Apple's first AR headset will be a pricey, high-end device largely targeted at developers rather than the broader public.
What Would You Pay For Autonomous Driving? Volkswagen Hopes $8.50 Per Hour
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
The future of driving may cost you $8.50 per hour if Volkswagen follows through on its boardroom musings. The German automaker is considering charging an hourly fee for access to autonomous driving features once those features are ready. The company is also exploring a range of subscription features for its electric vehicles, including "range or performance" increases that can be purchased on an hourly or daily basis, said Thomas Ulbrich, a Volkswagen board member, to the German newspaper Die Welt. Ulbrich said the first subscription features will appear in the second quarter of 2022 in vehicles based on Volkswagen's MEB platform, which underpins the company's new ID.3 compact car and ID.4 crossover.
The executive said that Volkswagen will also offer video games in cars, similar to Tesla's arcade. "In the charging breaks, even if they only last 15 minutes, we want to offer customers something," Ulbrich said. He said the automaker wouldn't be developing the games themselves, and it's not clear whether they'll come preinstalled or be available for purchase through an app store. Volkswagen's real moneymaker might be autonomous driving, though. "In autonomous driving, we can imagine that we switch it on by the hour. We assume a price of around seven euros ($8.50) per hour. So if you don't want to drive yourself for three hours, you can do it for 21 euros," said Klaus Zellmer, chief sales officer of the Volkswagen brand. In a swipe at Tesla, he said that by charging hourly fees, VW would make autonomous driving more accessible than "a car with a five-digit surcharge." That's not to say Volkswagen isn't hoping to make serious money off the subscriptions. In total, Zellmer said he anticipates the subscriptions will eventually make the company hundreds of millions of euros in additional revenue.
Ring Refuses To Say How Many Users Had Video Footage Obtained By Police
Ring gets a lot of criticism, not just for its massive surveillance network of home video doorbells and its problematic privacy and security practices, but also for giving that doorbell footage to law enforcement. While Ring is making moves towards transparency, the company
refuses to disclose how many users had their data given to police. From a report:
The video doorbell maker, acquired by Amazon in 2018, has partnerships with at least 1,800 U.S. police departments (and growing) that can request camera footage from Ring doorbells. Prior to a change this week, any police department that Ring partnered with could privately request doorbell camera footage from Ring customers for an active investigation. Ring will now let its police partners publicly request video footage from users through its Neighbors app. The change ostensibly gives Ring users more control when police can access their doorbell footage, but ignores privacy concerns that police can access users' footage without a warrant. [...] Ring received over 1,800 legal demands during 2020, more than double from the year earlier, according to a transparency report that Ring published quietly in January. Ring does not disclose sales figures but says it has "millions" of customers. But the report leaves out context that most transparency reports include: how many users or accounts had footage given to police when Ring was served with a legal demand? When reached, Ring declined to say how many users had footage obtained by police.
Facebook Plans First Smartwatch for Next Summer With Two Cameras, Heart Rate Monitor
Facebook is taking a novel approach to its first smartwatch, which the company hasn't confirmed publicly but currently
plans to debut next summer. From a report:
The device will feature a display with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist for taking pictures and videos that can be shared across Facebook's suite of apps, including Instagram, The Verge has learned. A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. Facebook is tapping other companies to create accessories for attaching the camera hub to things like backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, both of whom requested anonymity to speak without Facebook's permission. The idea is to encourage owners of the watch to use it in ways that smartphones are used now. It's part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plan to build more consumer devices that circumvent Apple and Google, the two dominant mobile phone platform creators that largely control Facebook's ability to reach people.
Several macOS Monterey Features Unavailable on Intel-Based Macs
macOS Monterey's features
won't be available to users with an Intel-powered Macs. On the macOS Monterey features page, fine print indicates that the following features require a Mac with the M1 chip, including any MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac model released since November 2020:
1. Portrait Mode blurred backgrounds in FaceTime videos
2. Live Text for copying and pasting, looking up, or translating text within photos
3. An interactive 3D globe of Earth in the Maps app
4. More detailed maps in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and London in the Maps app
5. Text-to-speech in more languages, including Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish
6. On-device keyboard dictation that performs all processing completely offline
7. Unlimited keyboard dictation (previously limited to 60 seconds per instance)
Facebook Says It Will Expand Remote Work To All Employees, But May Reduce Pay If They Move To Less-Expensive Area
Facebook said it will let all employees work remotely even after the pandemic if their jobs can be done out of an office, but
may reduce their pay if they move to a less-expensive area. From a report:
Starting June 15, any Facebook employee can request to work from home, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement. If those employees move to a lower-cost region, their salaries will be adjusted accordingly and they will be encouraged to go into the office at times to enhance team building. Facebook said it will be more flexible for employees expected to return to the office. "Guidance is to be in the office at least half the time," the company said. Facebook also plans to open most of its U.S. offices to at least 50% capacity by early September and reopen fully in October. Until the end of 2021, employees can work as many as 20 business days from another location away from their home area, the company said.
The social network had more than 60,000 workers as of March 31, according to regulatory filings. Employees have been able to work remotely since offices were closed at the beginning of the pandemic last year. Facebook also is expanding the number of workers who are allowed to move to other countries. Later this month, any employee will be able to move from the U.S. to Canada or from Europe, the Middle East or Africa to anywhere in the U.K., according to the company. Previously, only employees in technical or recruiting roles were allowed to take advantage of this option. By January 2022, Facebook employees will be allowed to permanently move between seven more countries in Europe, the Middle East or Africa.
President of El Salvador Says He is Working To Offer Bitcoin Mining Facilities With Cheap, 100% Clean and Renewable Energy From Volcanos
Hours after El Salvador
became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, the nation's president -- Nayib Bukele -- has
announced that he has instructed the state-owned geothermal electric company "to put up a plan to offer facilities for Bitcoin mining with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanos."
Biden Administration To Buy 500 Million Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine Doses To Donate To the World
The Biden administration is buying 500 million doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine to
donate to the world, as the United States dramatically increases its efforts to help vaccinate the global population,
the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing three people familiar with the plans. From the report:
President Biden is slated to announce the plan at the G-7 meeting in Britain this week amid growing calls for the United States and other rich countries to play a more substantial role in boosting the global supply of vaccines. Biden told reporters Wednesday as he boarded Air Force One to Europe he would be announcing his global vaccine strategy. The Biden administration previously announced it would share at least 80 million vaccine doses with the world by the end of June. Last week, the White House detailed plans for how it would allocate 25 million doses, with about 19 million of them being shared with Covax, the World Health Organization-backed initiative to distribute vaccine doses around the globe. Roughly 6 million doses would be shared directly with countries experiencing severe coronavirus outbreaks, including India.
One Fastly Customer Triggered Internet Meltdown
The company operates servers at strategic points around the world to help customers move and store content close to their end users. But a customer quite legitimately changing their settings had exposed a bug in a software update issued to customers in mid-May, causing '85% of our network to return errors', it said in a blogpost.
Whale That Travelled Halfway Around the World Sets Migration Record
Between May and July of 2013, a single grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) was spotted off the coast of Namibia. This was odd, as while there have been rare sightings of this species in the Atlantic Ocean, they are usually confined to the northern hemisphere. From a report:
It turns out the animal had travelled at least 20,000 kilometres (12,427.4 miles) -- halfway around the planet -- setting a record for a migration of any mammal, barring humans. Rus Hoelzel at Durham University in the UK and his colleagues used tissue samples collected from the whale's skin and analysed its DNA to trace its origins.
By comparing it with other grey whale populations, they found that this individual, a male, was probably born to the endangered western North Pacific population, found along the coast of eastern Asia. This means it travelled at least 20,000 kilometres to get to the southern Atlantic. Earth's circumference is slightly over 40,000 kilometres. "This is the record really for an in-water migration, if you're assuming that this individual started its life in the north-west Pacific and it found its way to Namibia," says Hoelzel. "That's as far as any vertebrate has ever gone in water, as far as we know." Land dwelling mammals fall far short of this feat -- the record is a grey wolf that roamed more than 7000 kilometres in a year.
White House Launches Task Force To Address Supply Chain Disruptions
The White House announced this week that it will establish a task force to
address supply chain challenges in key sectors where "a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident." From a report:
The task force will focus on "homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food" and will be led by the secretaries of commerce, agriculture and transportation, the White House said. As the U.S. has reopened its economy, changes in demand have caused the disruptions, the White House said.
"While these short-term supply chain disruptions are temporary, the president has directed his administration to closely monitor these developments and take actions to minimize the impacts on workers, consumers, and businesses in order to bolster a strong economic recovery," it said. The actions come as the White House released the findings of a 100-day review of critical U.S. supply chain issues in a 250-page report Tuesday. The report includes recommendations that the White House said "will not only strengthen the four prioritized supply chains, but will rebuild the U.S. industrial base and restart our innovation engine."
China is Vaccinating a Staggering 20 Million People a Day
For more than a week,
an average of about 20 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 every day in China. At this rate, the nation would have fully vaccinated the entire UK population in little more than six days. From a report:
China now accounts for more than half of the 35 million or so people around the world receiving a COVID-19 shot each day. Zoltan Kis, a chemical engineer in the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub at Imperial College London, doesn't know of "anything even close to those production scales" for a vaccine. "The manufacturing efforts required in China to reach this high production throughput are tremendous," he says. The majority of doses are of one of two vaccines, both of which have been approved for emergency use worldwide by the World Health Organization (WHO). CoronaVac -- produced by Beijing-based company Sinovac -- showed an efficacy of 51% against symptoms of COVID-19 in clinical trials, and much higher protection against severe disease and death. The second jab was developed in Beijing by state-owned firm Sinopharm and has demonstrated an efficacy of 79% against symptomatic disease and hospitalization.
Biden To Revoke and Replace Trump's Executive Order That Sought To Ban TikTok
President Biden on Wednesday will
revoke a Trump-era executive order that sought to ban the popular app TikTok and replace it with one that calls for a broader review of a number of foreign-controlled applications that could pose a security risk to Americans and their data. From a report:
According to a memo circulated by the Commerce Department and obtained by The New York Times, the order will address a number of applications and bolster recent actions the Biden administration has taken to curb the growing influence of Chinese technology companies.
It is the first significant step Mr. Biden has taken to address a challenge left for him by President Donald J. Trump, whose administration fought to ban TikTok and force its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app. Legal challenges immediately followed and the app is still available as the battle languishes in the courts. Mr. Biden's order "will direct the secretary of commerce to use a criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to evaluate and address the risks" posed by foreign-operated applications, according to the memo. "As warranted, the secretary will determine appropriate actions based on a thorough review of the risks posed by foreign adversary connected software applications."
Microscopic Animal Revived After Slumbering in Arctic Permafrost for 24,000 Years
Bdelloid rotifers typically live in watery environments and have an incredible ability to survive. Russian scientists
found the creatures in a core of frozen soil extracted from the Siberian permafrost using a drilling rig. CNN reports:
"Our report is the hardest proof as of today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism," said Stas Malavin, a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia.
Earlier research by other groups had shown that the rotifers could survive up to 10 years when frozen. In a new study, the Russian researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine that the critters they recovered from the permafrost -- ground that is frozen year-round, apart from a thin layer near the surface -- were about 24,000 years old. The study was published in the journal Current Biology on Monday. It's not the first time ancient life has been resurrected from a permanently frozen habitat.
Google Will Let Rivals Appear As Default Search Engine Options On Android For Free
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget:
Google will jettison an auction system that forces other providers to bid for the right to be featured as a default search engine option on Android. Following a $5 billion fine and antitrust enforcement action in 2018, people in Europe have been able to choose which core apps and services they use on Android by default, instead of having to use Google products at first. Users in the region see an Android choice screen while setting up a device or after performing a factory reset. They can select their default search engine from a number of options. However, the three providers that are presented alongside Google Search have been determined by a sealed bidding process.
The revamped choice screen will feature up to 12 search engine options. The one you pick is the default for searches on the home screen and Chrome, if you use that as your browser. Your device will also install that provider's search app. Only general search engines are eligible, and they need to have a free search app on the Play store. Vertical search engines (i.e. specialist or subject-specific ones) will be locked out. Providers that syndicate search results and ads from Google won't be featured on the list either. The changes will come into effect for new Android devices sold in the UK and European Economic Area by September 1st. "Following further feedback from the Commission, we are now making some final changes to the Choice Screen including making participation free for eligible search providers," Oliver Bethell, Google's head of competition for Europe, the Middle East and Africa,
wrote in a blog post. "We will also be increasing the number of search providers shown on the screen. These changes will come into effect from September this year on Android devices."
Last week, Apple TV users
reported issues with HBO Max refusing to rewind, fast-forward, or pause content. According to The A.V. Club,
the issue is still ongoing. From the report:
Strangely enough, HBO Max's customer service Twitter account acknowledged the issue on June 4. They wrote to a Twitter user, "We're aware of this issue with our app on Apple TV and our team is working to find a solution as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience while we sort this out." HBO says "fixes coming," according to The Verge. Yesterday, the site's editor-in-chief tweeted about the issue to HBO Max's executive vice president and general manager Andy Forssell, who tweeted, "First priority is to deliver for users in addressing the issues, but in parallel we will also dive deep into that question." As of now, though, the company is still charging users for an app that won't let you rewind, say, that scene from Dumb & Dumber where Harry has diarrhea. This leads us to ask, where's the money going?
National Geographic Recognizes New 5th Ocean
On World Oceans Day, Nat Geo cartographers say the swift current circling Antarctica keeps the waters there distinct and
worthy of their own name: the Southern Ocean. National Geographic reports:
Since National Geographic began making maps in 1915, it has recognized four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans. Starting on June 8, World Oceans Day, it will recognize the Southern Ocean as the world's fifth ocean. "The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it," says National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait. Geographers debated whether the waters around Antarctica had enough unique characteristics to deserve their own name, or whether they were simply cold, southern extensions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
While the other oceans are defined by the continents that fence them in, the Southern Ocean is defined by a current. Scientists estimate that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) was established roughly 34 million years ago, when Antarctica separated from South America. That allowed for the unimpeded flow of water around the bottom of the Earth. The ACC flows from west to east around Antarctica, in a broad fluctuating band roughly centered around a latitude of 60 degrees south -- the line that is now defined as the northern boundary of the Southern Ocean. Inside the ACC, the waters are colder and slightly less salty than ocean waters to the north.
Extending from the surface to the ocean floor, the ACC transports more water than any other ocean current. It pulls in waters from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, helping drive a global circulation system known as the conveyor belt, which transports heat around the planet. Cold, dense water that sinks to the ocean floor off Antarctica also helps store carbon in the deep ocean. In both those ways, the Southern Ocean has a crucial impact on Earth's climate. [...] For now, by fencing in the frigid southern waters, the ACC helps keep Antarctica cold and the Southern Ocean ecologically distinct. Thousands of species live there and nowhere else. By drawing attention to the Southern Ocean, the National Geographic Society hopes to promote its conservation.
El Salvador Becomes First Country To Adopt Bitcoin as Legal Tender After Passing Law
El Salvador has become the
first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Lawmakers in the Central American country's Congress voted by a "supermajority" in favor of the Bitcoin Law, receiving 62 out of 84 of the legislature's vote. CNBC adds:
"The purpose of this law is to regulate bitcoin as unrestricted legal tender with liberating power, unlimited in any transaction, and to any title that public or private natural or legal persons require carrying out," the law reads. Prices can now be shown in bitcoin, tax contributions can be paid with the digital currency, and exchanges in bitcoin will not be subject to capital gains tax.