The Apocalypticon ~ America Amerika, more melt, world of pain


Have you ever wondered why a country could be collectively stupid enough to elect someone like Donald Trump to office? A new Gallup poll shows 40% of American adults comply to a strict view of creationism, in which God brought humans into existence within the last 10,000 years. This despite over 150 years of scientific inquiry including studies of transitional fossils and vestigial traits to the discovery of DNA and empirical observations of evolution in action. [Good Lord!]
Five Columbus, Ohio, police officers are facing departmental punishment for their roles in arresting Stephanie Clifford — better known as Stormy Daniels — in a strip club last summer. They include a police commander, a lieutenant, a sergeant, and two of the officers who arrested Daniels. [‘Stormy’ being someone allegedly stupid enough to have had an affair with the aforesaid Donald Trump.]
Another US chemical plant aflame — A mere four months after a Houston chemical plant fire made headlines, another Houston area plant has exploded into flames.
No Ratcliffe after all — President Trump abruptly dropped his intention to nominate Republican (Texas) John Ratcliffe, to serve as director of national intelligence.
Tensions between the president and the intelligence community appear to have worsened over the Ratcliffe episode, as some people in the spy world had made clear how unqualified they believed he was and just how unwelcome he would be atop the sprawling alphabet soup of US domestic and foreign spy agencies. [Ratcliffe’s main qualification appeared to have been that he was a clear Trump supporter.]
Massive US hack — A hacker swiped credit card applications, Social Security numbers and bank account information affecting more than 100 million people in the US and Canada from Capital One’s server.
Tech companies load up on people’s data — Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler listened to four years’ worth of audio that Amazon had captured and stored from his Alexa smart speaker. He was surprised by what he found. [He was surprised, and yet he’s a ‘tech columnist’? Back to school for you, buddy.]

Climactic melt — Last week, Greenland’s ice melt reached new heights as the heatwave that battered Europe swept across the icy island. According to estimates, 12 billion tons of Greenland’s ice melted on Thursday 1st of August — equivalent to over 4 million Olympic swimming pools of water. You can watch it

World of pain — Hong Kong protesters are going to considerable lengths to defeat surveillance. During one demonstration, some reportedly aimed laser pointers at cameras and spray painted surveillance cameras outside of the government liaison office. [Hey China, it’s much harder to make personal fortunes after free and fair elections, right?]
Russian protests — Police in Moscow have arrested hundreds of people for demonstrating outside of City Hall. Protesters are calling for fair elections and for opposition candidates to be allowed to run for the city council. [Yeah, you know, it’s much harder to make personal fortunes after free and fair elections.]
Ebola — The challenges of containing ebola two years on have been immense. The virus is spreading in a deeply impoverished part of the Democratic Republic of Congo which has been ravaged by various militias since the final days of the Mobutu Sese Seko dictatorship in the mid-1990s.

Futurology ~ Warped Milky Way, heavy metal planet, Light Sail works, Intel Ice Lake, better bubble wrap, cockroach bot, Texan wind, permanent magnetics


The Light Sail satellite has successfully sail in space

The Milky Way is no frisbee — Rather than being flat as a Frisbee, the Milky Way’s star-studded disk is twisted and warped, according to a new three-dimensional map of our home galaxy. Viewed from the side, the spiral arms girdling our galaxy’s bulging core would resemble a record bent into an S shape, or a softly poached egg sliding off a slotted spoon.
~ Take that, Flat Universers!

Football planet leaks heavy metal — Iron and magnesium gases are escaping the atmosphere of WASP-121b, a hot Jupiter located around 880 light-years from Earth, according to new research published in the Astronomical Journal.
WASP-121b has a mass about 1.8 times that of Jupiter, and it’s very close to its host star, requiring just 1.275 days to make a complete orbit.
~ Hang on for a wild ride.

Light sail cube sat proves itself — Since unfurling the spacecraft’s silver solar sail last week, mission managers have been optimising the way the spacecraft orients itself during solar sailing. LightSail 2 has begun raising its orbit around the Earth to about 2 kilometres. The mission team has confirmed the apogee increase can only be attributed to solar sailing, meaning LightSail 2 has successfully completed its primary goal of demonstrating flight by light for CubeSats.
~ LightSail is a citizen-funded project from The Planetary Society.

Intel Ice Lake processors — Intel has finally unveiled its first batch of 10th-generation Core processors, Ice Lake. The 10-nanometer laptop chips are designed for better board integration and include native support for Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3.
~ Thus these are options Apple has for future MacBooks.

Better bubble wrap — 3M has created an alternative to space-wasting and plastic proliferating bubble wrap  with Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls. The material is like a padded shipping envelope that comes deconstructed: the shipper has to do all of the assembly. But it allows for the creation of custom padded envelopes that are only as large as needed.
~ The plastic is even recyclable, to a degree anyway. 

Soft robot as ‘good’ as a cockroach — A group of researchers from Tsinghua University in China and University of California, Berkeley have presented a new kind of soft robot that’s both higher performance and much more robust than just about anything seen before. The deceptively simple robot looks like a bent strip of paper, but it’s able to move at 20 body lengths per second and survive being stomped on. Take that, cockroaches.
~ Hopefully they’re more hygienic, too. 

Texan wind — Wind power has surpassed coal for the first time in Texas, according to a new report. The numbers cap an enormous rise in wind power in the nation’s top energy-producing state over the past decades.
~ The real challenge is to harness all that wind from Donald Trump into something actually beneficial to all humans. 

Permanently magnetic — Scientists have created a permanently magnetic liquid. The liquid droplets can morph into various shapes and be externally manipulated to move around, according to a new study.
The liquid droplets can change shape from a sphere to a cylinder to a pancake.
~ So can I stick my drink to a metal table top? That could be useful in space.