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Comic for July 13, 2020

Dilbert - July 14, 2020 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

Russian space chief questions NASA plans, praises partnership with China

Ars Technica - 29 min 55 sec ago

Enlarge / China's Vice Premier Wang Yang (standing) and Russia's then-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin at Russian-Chinese talks at Constantine Palace in 2016. (credit: Alexander AstafyevTASS via Getty Images)

The chief of Russia's space corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, offered less-than-flattering comments about NASA's Moon program in a recent interview with a Russian tabloid newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Asked about Russia's interest in sending humans to the Moon and possibly partnering with NASA, Rogozin dismissed the Artemis program. He responded: "Frankly speaking, we are not interested in participating in such a project."

The Russian space chief has publicly complained for some time that NASA has chosen a 2024 landing date for political reasons. He has also compared US efforts to build a sustainable program of exploration on the surface of the Moon to American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google To Invest $10B in India

Slashdot - 35 min 48 sec ago
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Disappointed by Formula E’s plan for its next car? Here’s an alternative

Ars Technica - 41 min 5 sec ago

Enlarge / The future Formula E car will look almost nothing like this. (credit: Matthias Kulka/Getty Images)

Formula E only adopted its second-generation electric race car at the beginning of last season, but the motorsport is finalizing plans for the next iteration—called Gen3—set to debut in season nine (2022/2023). The plan is to make the car more powerful and lighter, with more ability to regenerate energy under braking. It will even adopt mid-race fast-charging. All of that is an improvement on the Gen2 car, but here at Ars, we can't help but feel that Formula E is missing an opportunity to be bolder. And we're not alone. Lucas di Grassi—season 3's champion—has his own idea for the direction Gen3 should take, and it's one the EV crowd will probably like.

Formula E’s plan

Formula E's plan for the Gen3 car is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Power is going up, with 350kW (469hp) available in qualifying, compared to the current 250kW (335hp), which will put speeds somewhere between Formula 3 and Formula 2. (Power output during the 45-minute races is capped at 300kW/402hp.) The battery is going to get considerably lighter, weighing 397lbs (180kg) compared to the current 547lbs (248kg), albeit with a slight reduction in capacity to 51kWh.

The battery will be able to charge at 600kW, more than twice the power of even the best EVs on sale today. That will enable mid-race fast charging, which will add 4kWh in 30 seconds. And the cars will be able to regenerate energy under deceleration at the same power level, thanks to a front-axle 250kW generator unit that works in conjunction with the 350kW motor-generator unit (MGU). However, the front wheels will only regenerate energy—there's no plan to allow the cars to deploy power to the front wheels, unlike just about every high-performance electric road car on sale or in development.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

This 1.4 million-year-old hand axe was chipped off a hippo femur

Ars Technica - 50 min 46 sec ago

Enlarge (credit: By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74486418)

Hand axes are fairly common finds at sites dating between 2 million and 1 million years old. These sturdy tools have two sides (also called faces) and a sharp edge at one end. But hand axes are usually made of stone, so archaeologists working at the Konso Formation in southern Ethiopia were surprised to find a hand axe worked from a large chunk of bone buried in a 1.4 million-year-old layer of sediment. When Tohoku University archaeologist Katsuhiro Sano and his colleagues compared the bone to a collection of bone samples from large mammals, they found that their ancient hand axe had once been part of a hippopotamus femur (thigh bone).

From hippopotamus to hand axe

The Konso find is only the second bone hand axe archaeologists have ever found, and one of just a handful of bone tools from sites older than 1 million years. Based on fossils found at Konso, the hominin who flaked off a chunk of hippo femur and worked it into a nice, sharp hand axe was probably a Homo erectus. Members of the species walked upright and were built a lot like modern humans, and they eventually spread from Africa, across Europe and Asia, and all the way to modern Indonesia.

At least one member of this species left behind a 13cm-long hand axe that is, according to Sano and his colleagues, an excellent piece of craftsmanship. The toolmaker apparently flaked a large, flattish piece of bone off the side of a hippo femur; you can still see the outer surface of the bone on one side of the hand axe. That fits the standard Acheulean approach to making hand axes and other tools; the first step is to make a large “blank” in the right general shape, then gradually flake off smaller pieces to shape the finished product.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ars readers hated this startup’s privacy policy—so the company changed it

Ars Technica - 1 hour 14 min ago

Enlarge / This isn't the relationship you want to see between a company with access to your private data and its affiliates. (credit: Camerique / Getty Images)

When we covered subscription-based search engine startup Neeva in June, most reader focus wasn't on the search engine itself so much as its privacy policy, which left much to be desired—particularly given the option Neeva gives its users to search their email via the service. Shortly after publication, Neeva CEO Sridhar Ramaswamy reached out to Ars to discuss what went wrong and how the company planned to fix it.

Updated privacy policy

Ramaswamy told Ars that the company's intention was to provide a secure and privacy-respecting platform from the start. But, he added—and we're paraphrasing here—"lawyers will be lawyers," and it was "on him" that he had not inspected the policies drafted by the company's legal counsel closely enough. He told us that he heard our readers' feedback loud and clear, and he pledged to overhaul the policy to bring it in line with the company's actual vision.

The gallery above displays the three areas in the policy that have changed since the call with Ars. Both references to third-party advertising—and tracking technologies associated with such advertising—have been entirely removed. The major impact here lies in expectations for third-party intrusions into the Neeva site itself, and it's an important one—there isn't much point in paying a monthly subscription in return for privacy if your search metadata might be leaking to the public giants you're trying to avoid in the first place.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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