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SpaceX may begin testing its Starship spacecraft this week

Ars Technica - 2 hours 40 min ago

Enlarge / For now, Starship's first mission will be to the Moon. (credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

For months in south Texas, SpaceX employees have been assembling a test version of the upper stage for its next-generation launch system. This prototype "Starship" is far from space-worthy, but it will allow the company to test the vehicle's ability to "hop" from the spaceport and then land propulsively back on the ground.

On Friday, the company sent a notice to nearby residents saying it planned to conduct testing of the vehicle as soon as the week of March 18, and that it would be closing the main roadway of Highway 4 to non-residents during the tests. This "safety zone perimeter" is part of an agreement with the local county, and has been set up out of an abundance of caution.

On Sunday, company founder Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that SpaceX was indeed close to beginning tests. Musk said that integration work remained to be done on test vehicle and its Raptor rocket engine, and that the first hops would lift off, but only "barely." Eventually the "Starhopper" test vehicle will have three engines, but for now it appears as though the company will start with just one.

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D-Wave 2000Q hands-on: Steep learning curve for quantum computing 

Ars Technica - 4 hours 16 sec ago

Enlarge / Algorithms, a complicated work in progress. (credit: Getty Images)

Editor's note: I realize that I do not correctly calculate the Bragg transmission in either the classical or the quantum case, however, it is close enough to get an idea of the differences between programming a classical and a quantum computer.

Time: non-specific 2018. Location: a slightly decrepit Slack channel.

"You know Python?"

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MySpace admits losing 12 years' worth of music uploads

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 9 min ago
The social network has apologised for losing the data during a server migration.

Christchurch shootings: Social sites struggle to contain attack video

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 25 min ago
Millions of copies of videos showing the Christchurch attacks have been removed from social media sites.

F5 Acquired NGINX For $670M

Slashdot - 5 hours 30 min ago
Categories: Geek, Opinion

MPs call for tax on social media companies

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 10 min ago
Their report says the money should be used to fund research into the health impact of social media.

UK space internet firm OneWeb ready for lift-off

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 31 min ago
OneWeb secures new funding enabling it to speed up plans for a global high-speed broadband network.

Comic for March 17, 2019

Dilbert - 15 hours 45 min ago
Categories: Geek

This medieval astrolabe is officially world’s oldest known such instrument

Ars Technica - 16 hours 45 min ago

Enlarge / Left: A laser imaging scan of the so-called Sodré astrolabe, recovered from the wreck of a Portuguese Armada ship. Right: The astrolabe is believed to have been made between 1496 and 1501. (credit: David Mearns/University of Warwick)

A mariner's astrolabe recovered from the wreck of one of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama's ships is now officially the oldest known such artifact, according to a new paper in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. The device is even going into the Guinness Book of World Records, along with the ship's bell, now that the age of both artifacts has been independently verified.

A key distinction here is that this is the oldest known mariner's astrolabe. Astrolabes are actually very ancient instruments—possibly dating as far back as the second century BCE—for determining the time and position of the stars in the sky by measuring a celestial body's altitude above the horizon. They were mostly used for astronomical studies, although they also proved useful for navigation on land. Navigating at sea on a pitching deck was a bit more problematic, unless the waters were calm.

The development of a mariner's astrolabe—a simple ring marked in degrees for measuring celestial altitudes—helped solve that problem. It was eventually replaced by the invention of the sextant in the 18th century, which was much more precise for seafaring navigation. Mariner's astrolabes are among the most prized artifacts recovered from shipwrecks; only 108 are currently catalogued worldwide.

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