Loading...

Magazine

the new generation of software

Mars Helicopter Flight Test Promises Wright Brothers Moment for NASA

NASA hopes to score a 21st-century Wright Brothers moment on Monday as it attempts to send a miniature helicopter buzzing over the surface of Mars in what would be the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.Landmark achievements in science and technology can seem humble by conventional measurements. The Wright Brothers’ first controlled flight in the world of a motor-driven airplane, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903 covered just 120 feet (37 meters) in 12 seconds.A modest debut is likewise in store for NASA’s twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter Ingenuity.If all goes to plan, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) whirligig will slowly ascend straight up to an altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) above the Martian surface, hover in place for 30 seconds, then rotate before descending to a gentle landing on all four legs.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 0 MB480p | 0 MB540p | 0 MB720p | 0 MBOriginal | 0 MB Embed” />CopyNASA’s Ingenuity helicopter begins a Slow spin test of its blades, April 8, 2021, the 48th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (Credit: NASA)While the mere metrics may seem less than ambitious, the “air field” for the interplanetary test flight is 173 million miles from Earth, on the floor of a vast Martian basin called Jezero Crater. Success hinges on Ingenuity executing the pre-programmed flight instructions using an autonomous pilot and navigation system.“The moment our team has been waiting for is almost here,” Ingenuity project manager MiMi Aung said at a recent briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles.NASA itself is likening the experiment to the Wright Brothers’ feat 117 years ago, paying tribute to that modest but monumental first flight by having affixed a tiny swath of wing fabric from the original Wright flyer under Ingenuity’s solar panel.The robot rotorcraft was carried to the red planet strapped to the belly of NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, a mobile astrobiology lab that touched down on Feb. 18 in Jezero Crater after a nearly seven-month journey through space. Although Ingenuity’s flight test is set to begin around 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Monday (0730 GMT Monday), data confirming its outcome is not expected to reach JPL’s mission control until around 6:15 a.m. ET on Monday.NASA also expects to receive images and video of the flight that mission engineers hope to capture using cameras mounted on the helicopter and the Perseverance rover, which will be parked 250 feet (76 meters) away from Ingenuity’s flight zone.If the test succeeds, Ingenuity will undertake several additional, lengthier flights in the weeks ahead, though it will need to rest four to five days in between each to recharge its batteries. Prospects for future flights rest largely on a safe, four-point touchdown the first time.“It doesn’t have a self-righting system, so if we do have a bad landing, that will be the end of the mission,” Aung said. An unexpectedly strong wind gust is one potential peril that could spoil the flight.NASA hopes Ingenuity — a technology demonstration separate from Perseverance’s primary mission to search for traces of ancient microorganisms — paves the way for aerial surveillance of Mars and other destinations in the solar system, such as Venus or Saturn’s moon Titan.While Mars possesses much less gravity to overcome than Earth, its atmosphere is just 1% as dense, presenting a special challenge for aerodynamic lift. To compensate, engineers equipped Ingenuity with rotor blades that are larger (4-feet-long) and spin more rapidly than would be needed on Earth for an aircraft of its size.The design was successfully tested in vacuum chambers built at JPL to simulate Martian conditions, but it remains to be seen whether Ingenuity will fly on the red planet.The small, lightweight aircraft already passed an early crucial test by demonstrating it could withstand punishing cold, with nighttime temperatures dropping as low as 130 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), using solar power alone to recharge and keep internal components properly heated.The planned flight was delayed for a week by a technical glitch during a test spin of the aircraft’s rotors on April 9. NASA said that issue has since been resolved. 

your ad here
more

Israel Lifts Its Mask Mandate on Sunday

With nearly 60% of its population receiving the first COVID-19 vaccine, Israel is lifting its requirement Sunday to wear masks outdoors. The mask mandate remains in place, however, for enclosed spaces.Beginning April 24, France will require all travelers from Brazil to quarantine for 10 days.Brazil has 13.9 million COVID cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Only the U.S. and India have more cases, at 31.6 million and 14.5 million, respectively.More than 371,000 people have died in Brazil from COVID, Johns Hopkins reported. The U.S. is the only place that has more COVID deaths, at 566,893.On Sunday, India reported 261,500 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour period.On Saturday, the worldwide COVID death toll surpassed 3 million.World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week the weekly number of new cases has more than doubled over the past two months, approaching the highest infection rate seen since the pandemic began.He said the infection numbers began to rise steadily in February, following six consecutive weeks of decline.

your ad here
more

Nearly 700 Patients Evacuated in Johannesburg Hospital Fire

Nearly 700 patients were evacuated Saturday from Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, where a fire blazed through parts of the facility in South Africa’s largest city.No injuries or casualties have been reported. The fire has been contained but the hospital has been closed for seven days, said David Makhura, premier of Gauteng province where Johannesburg is located.Early Saturday morning the fire caused the third floor of the hospital’s parking garage to collapse.Sixty firefighters battled the blaze through the night. The fire started Friday morning and had been doused by the afternoon but then it reignited in the evening and continued burning overnight.The fire has caused extensive damage to the hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds and serves Johannesburg, a city of 6 million people, and the surrounding Gauteng province. It is one of the biggest public hospitals in the country.It is also a designated treatment center for COVID-19 in Gauteng. According to Makhura, the hospital had 13 COVID-19 patients, two in ICU and 11 in general wards at the time of the fire. They have all been transferred to other hospitals.”The fire has been contained into some areas. We are shutting down the hospital as a precautionary measure because there is a lot of smoke that went into other areas, including wards,” said Makhura.The fire started in a storeroom for dry surgical supplies, according to officials.Firefighters reported that the blaze re-started from smoldering medical supplies, including supplies of personal protective equipment used by staff treating patients with COVID-19, Makhura said. An investigation into the fire will be launched, he said.”Our firefighters have been receiving help from others in neighboring municipalities. It has been a tedious process trying to move patients. At first, we moved them to wards that were far away from the fire but we started to evacuate them,” said Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana. “That is still a process that is ongoing, we are now referring all patients to other hospitals.”

your ad here
more

US, China ‘Committed to Cooperating’ on Climate Crisis: Joint Statement

The United States and China are “committed to cooperating” on the pressing issue of climate change, the two sides said in a joint statement Saturday, following a visit to Shanghai by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.”The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” said the statement from Kerry and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua.Kerry, the former U.S. secretary of state, was the first official from President Joe Biden’s administration to visit China, signaling hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.The joint statement listed multiple avenues of cooperation between the United States and China, the world’s top two economies, which together account for nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.It stressed “enhancing their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”Biden has made climate a top priority, turning the page from his predecessor Donald Trump, who was closely aligned with the fossil fuel industry.Biden has rejoined the 2015 Paris accord, which Kerry negotiated when he was secretary of state and committed nations to taking action to keep temperature rises at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

your ad here
more

Theater Producer Rudin Will ‘Step Back’ After Allegations of Bullying

Amid mounting anger over allegations of bullying, Broadway and Hollywood producer Scott Rudin broke his silence Saturday, saying he was profoundly sorry'' and would step back from his theater work.After a period of reflection, I’ve made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately. My roles will be filled by others from the Broadway community and in a number of cases, from the roster of participants already in place on those shows,” Rudin said in a statement.The move came more than a week after The Hollywood Reporter’s cover story on Rudin contained accounts of the producing heavyweight throwing glass bowls, staples and baked potatoes at former employees. In his statement Saturday, he did not deny the allegations.Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly. I am now taking steps that I should have taken years ago to address this behavior,'' he said.The revelations in the Reporter also prompted the performers' unions SAG-AFTRA, Actors' Equity and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 to come together to condemn harassment of entertainment employees.The revelations also prompted Tony Award-winner Karen Olivo to pull out of returning toMoulin Rouge! The Musical” once it reopens. There are also plans for a protest March on Broadway on Wednesday, with stops at both Rudin’s office, as well as the Winter Garden Theatre, where Rudin is producing the Broadway revival of The Music Man." There's also a campaign to persuade Actors' Equity to add Rudin to a Do Not Work list. 
 
In his statement, Rudin mentioned the upcoming reopening of Broadway after the pandemic shuttered theaters for more than a year. He said he did not want to
interrupt” the work ahead.“My passionate hope and expectation is that Broadway will reopen successfully very soon, and that the many talented artists associated with it will once again begin to thrive and share their artistry with the world. I do not want any controversy associated with me to interrupt Broadway’s well-deserved return, or specifically, the return of the 1,500 people working on these shows.”

your ad here
more

Final Ruling on Trump Facebook Ban Delayed

A final ruling on whether to overturn Facebook’s ban on former U.S. president Donald Trump will take a bit longer than anticipated, an independent oversight board said Friday.Critics of the social media company and even strong advocates of unfettered political discourse called on Facebook’s oversight board to endorse the decision to boot Trump from the platform in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.”The board’s commitment to carefully reviewing all comments has extended the case timeline,” a spokesperson told AFP.”The board will announce its decision on the case concerning former U.S. President Trump’s indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks.”The Facebook oversight board had originally expected to have its decision by this month.Calling Trump a “clear and present danger,” scholars and civil rights advocates have urged Facebook to permanently ban the former president from the platform.Conservatives on Capitol Hill and beyond have contended that moves by Facebook and Twitter to “deplatform” Trump demonstrate political bias and inhibit free speech.An extended public comment period ended in February with more than 9,000 submissions regarding the case, according to the board.The social network itself asked the independent body to review Trump’s eviction from the online community.The oversight board has the final say on what is removed or allowed to remain on the world’s biggest social network.Trump’s access to social media platforms that he used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington.

your ad here
more

Celebrities Make a Stand for COVID-19 Vaccines on TV Special

President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and a slew of celebrities including Billy Crystal, Jennifer Hudson and Lin-Manuel Miranda are part of a special aimed at boosting COVID-19 vaccination rates.”Roll Up Your Sleeves,” airing at 7 p.m. EDT Sunday on NBC, will feature Matthew McConaughey interviewing Dr. Anthony Fauci to help separate “fact from fiction” about the vaccines, the network said.Biden will make a direct appeal in support of the effort, while Obama will be joined by basketball greats Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal to reinforce the role of vaccines in allowing Americans to get their lives back on track.Former first lady Michelle Obama will team with Miranda, Faith Hill and Jennifer Lopez in support of shots during the hour-long special hosted by spouses Russell Wilson, the NFL quarterback, and actor-singer Ciara.Other announced highlights include comedy from Billy Crystal and Wanda Sykes and appearances by TV doctors Eric Dane, Ryan Eggold, Ellen Pompeo, Jane Seymour and Ken Jeong, who’s also a real M.D. Also set to appear are Sterling K. Brown, Lana Condor, Jennifer Hudson, Dale Jarrett, Joe Jonas, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato, Joel McHale, Kumail Nanjiani and Amanda Seyfried. 

your ad here
more

‘Godzilla’ Shark Discovered in New Mexico Gets Formal Name

The 300-million-year-old shark’s teeth were the first sign that it might be a distinct species.The ancient chompers looked less like the spearlike rows of teeth of related species. They were squatter and shorter, less than an inch long, around 2 centimeters.”Great for grasping and crushing prey rather than piercing prey,” said discoverer John-Paul Hodnett, who was a graduate student when he unearthed the first fossils of the shark at a dig east of Albuquerque in 2013.This week, Hodnett and a slew of other researchers published their findings in a bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science identifying the shark as a separate species.He named the 6.7-foot (2-meter) monster Dracopristis hoffmanorum, or Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, in honor of the New Mexico family that owns the land in the Manzano Mountains where the fossils were found. Hodnett said the area is rife with fossils and easy to access because of a quarry and other commercial digging operations.The name also harkens to the dragonlike jawline and 2.5-foot (0.75-meter) fin spines that inspired the discovery’s initial nickname, “Godzilla Shark.”Seven years of workThe formal naming announcement followed seven years of excavation, preservation and study.The 12 rows of teeth on the shark’s lower jaw, for example, were still obscured by layers of sediment after excavation. Hodnett saw them only by using an angled light technique that illuminates objects below.Hodnett is now the paleontologist and program coordinator for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland. His fellow researchers come from the New Mexico museum, as well as St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, Northern Arizona University and Idaho State University.The recovered fossil skeleton is considered the most complete of its evolutionary branch — ctenacanth — that split from modern sharks and rays around 390 million years ago and went extinct around 60 million years later.Back then, eastern New Mexico was covered by a seaway that extended deep into North America. Hodnett and his colleagues believe that Hoffman’s dragon shark most likely lived in the shallows along the coast, stalking prey like crustaceans, fish and other sharks.New Mexico’s high desert plateaus have also yielded many dinosaur fossils, including various species of tyrannosaurus that roamed the land millions of years ago when it was a tropical rainforest. 

your ad here
more

Global COVID-19 Infection Rate Approaches Record High, WHO Warns

The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 cases are increasing globally at a worrying rate, with the number of new cases doubling each week, a pace approaching the highest rate of infection since the pandemic began.The WHO said Friday there were 541,960 new cases in the past week. On February 22 — the week new cases began to tick up after six weeks of decline – 194,469 new cases were reported.  At a virtual briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries that had avoided widespread infections are now seeing steep increases.  He pointed to Papua New Guinea, which, until the beginning of this year, had reported less than 900 cases and only nine deaths. The nation has now reported more than 9,300 cases and 82 deaths.  FILE – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, speaks in Geneva, Jan. 21, 2021.Tedros said that while that is a small number relative to other countries, the dramatic rate of new infections has the WHO very concerned about the potential for a larger epidemic in Papua New Guinea. He said the WHO began a vaccine rollout in the nation late last month and three emergency medical teams had arrived in the country this week from Australia, the United States and Germany.The WHO chief said Papua New Guinea is an excellent example of why vaccine equity is so important. The small south Pacific nation, just north of Australia, was able to keep the pandemic at bay for a long time, but eventually rising infections hit at a time of social restriction fatigue and low levels of immunity among the population and began to overwhelm a fragile health care system.Tedros said Papua New Guinea has relied on vaccine donations from Australia and the WHO-supported vaccine cooperative COVAX initiative for support.To date, COVAX has shipped about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, or enough to protect about 0.25% of the world’s population.
 

your ad here
more

Nigeria Steps Up Vaccination Efforts After Slow Rollout Blamed on Misinformation

Nigerian authorities are stepping up efforts to vaccinate more people against COVID-19 after a slow rollout blamed on misinformation. Authorities aim to vaccinate over 80 million Nigerians by year’s end but are running far behind schedule. 
An Abuja vaccination center, which opened March 16, one week after Nigeria’s official vaccine rollout, vaccinates between 50 and 100 people daily. It is one of many vaccination locations in the Nigerian capital. Abuja resident Olu Agunbiade visited the center to get his first shot and says receiving the vaccine makes him feel safer.  “I can venture out into the world with a form of protection,” he told VOA. “I know that doesn’t mean I can’t still contract COVID, but at least I have antibodies, I can fight it.”  Nigeria received about 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine early last month.  Authorities say they will vaccine around 80 million people by the end of the year, but so far, only about 1 million have received shots. Although authorities say more Nigerians are now getting vaccinated, Abuja Primary Healthcare Board Executive Secretary Ndeyo Iwot says vaccine hesitancy and misinformation about the coronavirus are to blame for the low numbers.  “There’s a very big problem. Now start from the beginning, how many people even believed that we have the pandemic here? And now you want to bring vaccine for what they did not believe in the first instance? We have a lot of work to do,” Iwot says.    Dr Ngong Cyprian receives his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, in Abuja.As workaround, authorities are trying to increase vaccine awareness in communities, villages, and marketplaces.   Despite this, though, citizens like Richard Uka insist they will not get the vaccine. “To be sincere, I don’t think this is necessary, to me it’s not necessary,” Uka told VOA. “And I believe that in Nigeria nothing works. How do you think that that vaccine works or how do we know that it works?” Nigeria needs to vaccinate about 150 million citizens by next year to attain herd immunity.  Iwot, though, says getting adequate doses of vaccines may prove difficult.  “Looking at the pandemic situation in Europe, India and the U.S.A. and the U.K., some of them are experiencing the third and fourth spikes now and India that was giving us is also having spikes now. So many of the dosages they have will be consumed there,” Iwot told VOA.Very few African countries are able to manufacture the coronavirus vaccines, creating heavy dependence on foreign manufacturers.  The World Health Organization says the continent has so far received less than 2% of the global 690 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines. 

your ad here
more