Martian Chronicles

first_imgRecent news stories about Mars can be categorized into past, present, and future.Mars past:  How Mars formed is a convoluted story.  That is evident from a report on PhysOrg that might suggest Mars modelers are drinking too much to relieve stress: “‘Marstinis’ could help explain why the red planet is so small.”  Mars seems the right size for itself, but for modelers, it is too small for their theories.  The article describes a kind of complex billiard game requiring Mars to migrate outward before it could grow its expected size.  As it went, it perturbed smaller planetesimals, objects the modelers dubbed “Marstinis.”  Those, in turn, might have gotten perturbed by giant planets, which were also migrating at the time.  This complex scenario has the benefit of simultaneously providing source material to explain another mystery – the Late Heavy Bombardment, needed to explain cratering on the moon.    Divining Mars history in meteorites was discussed in another article on PhysOrg.  Studying wafer-thin slices of meteorites thought to have landed on Earth from Mars, scientists look for clues indicating large impacts on the red planet.  From conclusions reached, they try to infer impact effects on subsurface water and the production of carbonates, serpentine, clay and methane.  A scientist promised, “We are now starting to build a realistic model for how water deposited minerals formed on Mars, showing that impact heating was an important process.”Mars present:  Several sources reported the surprise that Mars’ sand dunes can change quickly: Space.com, the BBC News, and PhysOrg among them.  “Scientists had considered the dunes to be fairly static, shaped long ago when winds on the planet’s surface were much stronger than seen today,” according to analysis of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera.  “Several sets of before-and-after images from HiRISE over a period covering two Martian years – four Earth years – tell a different story.”    Scientists are seeking to understand how carbon dioxide sublimation – a process not occurring on earth – contributes to the rapid changes.  “There’s lots of debate about whether features we see on Mars could be produced in the current Mars climate or whether they require different conditions,” one scientist commented.  “The numbers and magnitude of the changes have been really surprising,” another said.    Meanwhile, the THEMIS infrared camera on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, NASA’s longest-running Mars mission, is studying Mars dust.  Dull as that sounds, it is actually an important source of information on Mars, as PhysOrg explained.  Principal investigator Philip Christensen has a puzzle: “There’s a good question why Mars isn’t a billiard-ball planet covered by a kilometer of dust,” he said, considering that scientists believe it has been there 4.5 billion years.  Explaining why the dust layer is thin required imagination: “Well, maybe throughout most of its history, Mars has had too thin an atmosphere to make dust or initiate saltation or wind abrasion,” he said; “No dust devils, no storms.”    Mars seems poised on the brink of global dust storms that occasionally obscure the entire surface of the planet with dust as fine as talcum powder.  Calculations show that 100 meters of dust should blanket the planet in 4.5 billion years given current estimated dust creation rates.  To wriggle out of that anomaly, Christensen imagined that the atmosphere cycles in and out, actively creating dust only 2% of the time.  Even so, that would have produced 2 meters of dust on Mars, which he says is “about right,” provided he be forgiven for tweaking an unseen history to match the observations.Mars future:  Interesting missions are being planned for Mars.  The big one is Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s long-awaited Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), nicknamed “Curiosity,” scheduled for launch in the fall.  Science Daily talked about its Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM), which, along with other instruments, “will check for the ingredients of life.”  Ingredients is the operative word.  MSL will be unable to detect life, but may be able to determine once for all whether organic molecules are found on the Red Planet.    An article about future Mars missions on PhysOrg has illustrations reminiscent of sci-if comic books.  The Center for Space Nuclear Research at Idaho National Laboratory is working on fleets of “Mars hoppers” they feel would be more efficient explorers of the Martian surface than rovers.  CSNR’s mission design includes a method for sample return – delivering Martian material back to Earth for analysis.  “A single rocket launch from Earth could deploy several hoppers at once,” the article explained.  “A few dozen hoppers could map the entire Martian surface in a few years…. Hoppers could also serve as a network of weather stations monitoring the Martian climate and could collect a trove of air, rock and soil samples to send back to Earth.”Meanwhile, back on Earth, a volunteer crew of six have “reached Mars orbit” in a simulated experiment testing how humans might endure long term space travel.  PhysOrg reported on the milestone of “Mars200” project, now 244 days into their experiment living and working in hermetically-sealed modules as if traveling to Mars and back.  On February 14 (Valentine’s Day) they get to emerge onto a simulated Martian surface.  The “arrival” back on Earth (a place they never really left) occurs in early November.Mars exists in the present.  We don’t see Mars in the past, or in the future.  We see effects produced by an unobserved history, and can extrapolate current processes a reasonable amount forward.  When scientists tweak too many parameters in their imagined scenarios – moving the planet in and out, imagining lucky-strike impacts at certain times and places where needed for theory, turning the atmosphere on and off to maintain a belief in billions of years, we have good reason to doubt the infallibility of their science.  Remember that scientific explanation is an entirely different enterprise than scientific discovery.  Let’s discover!  Go forth and conquer with Curiosity and better instrumentation.  Hop to it.  Data clear the fog and put storytellers out of business.  But always keep a wary eye on the opinions of scientists who practice divination, or who make reckless drafts on the bank of time.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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UN Data Forum: stats can improve lives

first_imgThe first United Nations World Data Forum was held in Cape Town. With more and more data circulating, it can be used to improve lives. The Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data grew out of the forum.Pali Lehohla, head of Statistics South Africa, speaks during the inaugural United Nations World Data Forum in Cape Town from 15 to 18 January 2017. (Image: Statistics South Africa, via Flickr)Brand South Africa reporterThe increased reliance on data in the world has the potential to improve people’s lives. This was the message from the inaugural United Nations World Data Forum held in Cape Town.The four-day forum, from 15 to 18 January, brought together data experts from over a hundred countries. It was hosted by the South Africa government and Statistics South Africa in partnership with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).Watch:The concluding plan, named the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data, will be presented to the UN Statistical Commission for adoption at its upcoming session in March.Accurate and better data could, the plan stated, create new ideas and solutions to boost collaboration and resources, and inform policies that needed to be put it into action.“Improved use of data and statistics will be crucial to achieving the transformational vision of a better future for people and the planet, set out in the 2030 Agenda agreed by world leaders at the UN in September 2015,” the UN said.“Rapid expansion in new sources of data is creating large scale opportunities for innovative solutions, which need to be integrated with strengthened official data mechanisms and structures.“The UN World Data Forum is the perfect place to launch the action plan and get all the major players behind it,” said Wu Hongbo, the UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, underlining the importance of accurate, reliable, timely and disaggregated data in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.#UNDataForum Role of data and statistics in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development #SDGs https://t.co/gOSlmwKDEh pic.twitter.com/ERKbqbmbvS— UN World Data Forum (@UNDataForum) January 19, 2017#UNDataForum We asked @UNESCOstat‘s Patrick Montjourides “What does data for sustainable development mean?” pic.twitter.com/wbwwMZzZcr— UN World Data Forum (@UNDataForum) January 18, 2017“Data,” said Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, “has become so critical in our daily lives that we hardly ever notice its use in every facet of life.“It has become like the oxygen that we breathe. The only time we realise that we have a challenge is when it is not available.”In an interview with the UN, Hongbo used a practical example to illustrate the importance of data and accurate statistics.“Take the registration of birth and death. According to our information, in this world, about 100 countries do not keep accurate and complete records of people who die and new babies.“Just imagine,” he continued, “if you are planning for, say, employment, for city expansion, for education, [and] you do not know how many people you have in the country [and] the city. That would be disastrous. That shows how important data and accurate information is and will be for the implementation of Agenda 2030.”Pali Lehohla, head of Statistics South Africa, echoed Hongbo: “We cannot achieve what we cannot measure.”Watch:The plan #UNDataForum ends today in Cape Town w/ launch of a global plan for better data to improve people’s lives. Details: https://t.co/1BkdVQ8akm pic.twitter.com/uKfrK6Bu55— Global Goals (@GlobalGoalsUN) January 18, 2017In essence, the plan is a to-do list for the world to improve data. It calls for collaboration and commitment from governments, policy leaders and the international community to undertake key actions in six strategic areas including innovation and modernisation of national statistical systems, dissemination of data on sustainable development, building partnerships and mobilising resources.The Global Action Plan calls for the application of new technologies and new data sources into mainstream statistical activities, and integration of geospatial data. It also calls for data on all groups of the population to be expanded so that no one is left behind, a key principle of the 2030 Agenda.It was prepared with input from the global statistical community and data experts.Next meetingThe second forum will be held in the United Arab Emirates, it was announced, in late 2018 or early 2019.“We are looking forward to working with the colleagues from the United Arab Emirates to organise together an open and inclusive second World Data Forum,” said Stefan Schweinfest, director of the UN statistics division. “This will be a unique opportunity to strengthen data and statistical systems for development not only at the national, but also at the regional and global level.”Source: United NationsWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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Cartoon: Freeze! Zoom! Enhance! Turn Lead Into Gold!

first_imgrob cottingham It’s getting to be a joke: the magic things cops can do with computers. “Wait – there’s a reflection in the teakettle! Magnify! Enhance! Now pull a DNA sample from the image! I don’t care, just do it – boost the power if you have to! Crossmatch it with every person named Brent in the continental United States! Damn, this new version of GIMP rocks!”Annnnd… DING! Three seconds later, up pops the photo of the perpetrator, out go the cops to haul him in and America sleeps a little more soundly tonight. We’ve grown to accept this, partly because without these little storytelling cheats our streets would be crawling with fictitious master criminals executing horrific, if imaginary, atrocities. And partly because we have a tacit understanding with directors that they’re going to keep us entertained, and there’s nothing pulse-pounding about “Well-elp, might as well take the rest of the week off while this thing renders.”But maybe what really sells us on the idea of magic high tech down at the precinct is that, deep down, we kind of wish it were true (never mind the bladder-emptying implications for civil liberties and privacy). If we were being stalked by a sociopathic ex-con determined to exact a terrible revenge for our having sentenced him to 30 years in prison, well, dammit, we’d want those nice CSI people to have every tool they needed to stop him in the nick of time.And maybe, just maybe, that technology could trickle down to, say, the prosumer market. “Computer… draw cartoon!” 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… More Noise to Signal. 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Tags:#Cartoons#web Related Posts 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more

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The State of the Platform and its Increasing Diversity

first_imgklint finley As RedMonk‘s Stephen O’Grady points out, platform-as-a-service wasn’t a hot topic for most of 2010. But interest has exploded since Salesforce.com purchased Heroku and Red Hat purchased Makara. Last week Amazon Web Services launched its Elastic Beanstalk PaaS, week before last PHPFog raised $1.8 million and we’ve been seeing Node.js hosts cropping up steadily for the past few weeks.We predicted last year that PaaS would emerge as the hottest area of cloud computing. Today we’ll take a look at the state of PaaS. If you’re still confused about the difference between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS check out CloudAve’s guide to the terminology.The Big List of PaaS ProvidersWe were going to make a list of all the “Heroku for X” type PaaS providers we could find. Then we found Roch Delsalle’s big list. It’s the most comprehensive list we’ve seen, and Delsalle has been good about updating it with newcomers.Delsalle lists PaaS providers for the following platforms:RubyPythonPHPDrupal.NETJavaNode.jsRingoJS Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#cloud#Cloud Providers The 3 Types of PaaSFor an interesting take on the different approaches to PaaS, check out Subraya Mallya’s article “Multiple Personalities of Platform-as-a-Service.” Mallya looks at the different types of PaaS:Application Development PlatformsApplication Management PlatformsData Processing PlatformsMallya also covers what capabilities you should look for in each type of PaaS.What Developers Look for in PaaSRedMonk’s Michael Coté takes a look at how developers decide on a PaaS. Coté notes that for many developers, the financial opportunities presented by proprietary platforms with established user bases (for example, Force.com) will often trump fears of vendor lock-in. However, those building full applications with an eye to the future tend to prefer open platforms like Heroku. Coté also looks into why companies, particularly middleware vendors, are getting into the PaaS business.The Future: CertificationLast week we made the case for the need for third-party certification to ensure customers that PaaS providers follow best practices. In 2009, Alan Wilensky wrote a four part series examining the case for cloud provider certifications, including some ideas for what to include.The Strategist: Certification Services for the Cloud – Reliability, Continuity, and Indemnification Against OutagesThe Strategist: Underwriting Business Continuity in the Cloud. Part IIRating and Certifying the Cloud Hosting and Web Application Providers. Part IIIThe Strategist: Mitigating Cloud Computing Client Services Risk via Trusted, Blind API Brokers – Part IVFor a further look at PaaS and the future of the cloud, please see our report The Future of the Cloud: Cloud Platform APIs are the Business of Cloud Computing.Photo by LukeGordon1 Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

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Horizon: Awesome Post-Production Breakdown Video

first_imgDiscover the step-by-step process for creating a 3D futuristic world in this amazing breakdown video!It’s easy to take for granted all the work that goes into creating high quality renderings – the matteing, compositing, projection mapping, lighting.  After watching this amazing breakdown video by digitral designer Mickaël Forrett you’ll likely gain a whole new appreciation.Forrett recently completed a :30 second video called Horizon, where he gives the viewer a look into a unique futurisitc world. First, take a look at the completed project (try full screen for best viewing):The detail that went into creating the digital environment is incredible and the corresponding breakdown video sheds some light into the post-production process.Starting with sketches, Forrett outlined the structure of the environment.  Then using photos and matte painting, he composited organic textures and environmental features over his rough layout.  The detail builds from there, adding more and more specific elements to the shot…waterfalls, buildings, 3-D models.  The project is then given a through color correction pass to further sell the look.Forrett appears to be a post guru, as he used a variety of industry leading post-production applications to create the shot:Adobe PhotoshopAdobe After EffectsAutodesk MayaAutodesk MudboxThe Foundry NukeNow, take a look at the shot breakdown.  Prepare to be awed.last_img read more

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Court says no to plea for CBI probe against Unnao doctors

first_imgA Delhi court has refused to direct the CBI to initiate a probe against the doctors who had treated the father of the Unnao rape survivor when he was injured and in judicial custody, saying it was the prerogative of the CBI to conduct the prosecution.District Judge Dharmesh Sharma was hearing a plea filed by the counsel of the woman, who was allegedly raped by Uttar Pradesh MLA Kuldeep Sengar in 2017.The court, however, said that if during the course of the trial any evidence surfaces about the role played by any of the doctors in the entire episode, appropriate orders would be passed.Senior Public Prosecutor Ashok Bhartendu had opposed the plea saying that nothing has come up in their investigation so far to call the doctors as accused before the court.The plea, filed by advocate Dharmendra Mishra, had alleged that the doctors at the district hospital deliberately did not examine the father of the woman properly at the behest of Sengar.Charges framed The court had earlier framed charges against Sengar and nine others for allegedly assaulting and framing the rape survivor’s father in an arms case and murdering him in judicial custody.last_img read more

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J&K global investors’ summit put off

first_imgThe Jammu and Kashmir government has shelved the global investors’ summit scheduled for October.Governor Satya Pal Malik on Thursday reviewed the preparedness for holding the summit, and decided “to reschedule it to 2020 in consultation with the Union government”.“This is to give the Industries and Commerce Departments reasonable time for preparations to secure robust participation of investors in the summit,” a spokesman said.The new dates will be finalised in consultation with the Centre keeping in view the policy work completion, logistics including schedule of roadshows, climatic conditions and the schedule of Parliament, the official added.The cancellation takes place even after conducting the Ladakh Mini Conclave last month.Principal Secretary, Planning, Development and Monitoring, Rohit Kansal had announced the first ever Global Investment Summit, to attract investment in J&K.last_img read more

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10 hot female stars from North-East India

first_imgEver since the release of the first look of Omung Kumar’s biographical sports drama Mary Kom, there has been a lot of uproar on who could have portrayed the role better than Priyanka Chopra.Makers said Priyanka had to be de-glamourised for the role of Mary Kom. We know quite a few actors from north-east who would have fit the bill, but these beauties are in no way unglamorous. We bring you a list of the top 10 hot stars from North-East India.Karen David: Karen David is a Canadian-British actress who was born in Shilllong, Meghalaya to a Khasi mother and South-Indian father. She collaborated with A.R. Rahman on the Broadway musical Bombay Dreams.Famous films: Red Lights, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, Couples Retreat, Batman Begins, Flight of Fury.From L to R: Patralekha, Moni Kangana Dutta and Karen DavidMoni Kangana Dutta: Born and bred in Assam, Moni Kangana Dutta is an international model and Bollywood actor. The beauty has walked the ramp for leading fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood, Yoji Yamamoto, Christian Dior, Leonard, and Chloe. She also modeled for Mac Cosmetics.Famous film: GuzaarishPatralekha: Shillong-born newcomer Patralekha was recently spotted in Hansal Mehta’s CityLights opposite Rajkumar Rao. The beauty critically acclaimed for her performance.Famous films: City Lights.CLICK to know more>>>last_img read more

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