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- Russia’s Defense minister Sergey Shoigu confirmed on Tuesday that Russia had indeed tested its anti-satellite rocket system, confirming it “struck the old orbital with great accuracy.” He insisted that the fallout of fragments from the blast poses no threat to other spacecraft or astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The comments came after US State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned Moscow for its “reckless decision” to run the test. According to him, the move “generated over fifteen hundred pieces of trackable orbital debris,” as well as “hundreds of thousands of smaller” pieces that now pose a threat to all nations. The crew on board the International Space Station were briefly told to hide in their modules earlier this week as they came close to a cloud of debris, but later were able to resume their work.
- The government of Gibraltar recently announced that “official Christmas parties, official receptions and similar gatherings” have been canceled, and advised the public to avoid social events and parties for the next four weeks. Outdoor spaces are recommended over indoor ones, touching and hugging is discouraged, and mask wearing is advised. Gibraltar, a tiny British Overseas Territory sharing a land border with Spain, has seen an average of 56 Covid-19 cases per day over the last seven days, up from fewer than 10 per day in September. The rise in cases, described by the government as “exponential,” comes despite Gibraltar having the highest vaccination rate in the world.
- Objects, including spacecraft, could pierce through the universe using several black holes as a ‘shortcut’, a new study suggests. The new theory posited by French physicist Pascal Koiran marks a break from earlier research in the field of black hole studies. Previously, it was thought that a so-called ‘wormhole’ composed of two black holes would be prone to instantly collapse, thus making it impossible for an object to successfully travel all the way from one side and out the other. However, by employing different metrics, the French scientist’s new model has arrived at a very different conclusion: “We show that the particle reaches the wormhole throat for a finite value t′1 of the time marker t′.” In essence, that means an object, for instance, a spacecraft, could pass through this wormhole portal intact and reach some far-away region of the universe, taking far less time than would be needed if traveling conventionally. The study in its entirety will see the light of day in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Modern Physics D, though an abstract has been available since early October. Yet, there are too many ifs as to whether this purely theoretical model has any bearing on the way the universe actually works. For starters, to create such a time-and-space tunnel you would need a regular black hole and a so-called white hole, which is essentially a black hole in reverse. While black holes never let anything out, their ‘twins’ never let anything in. So, according to Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity and Nathan Rosen’s additions to it, if you were to connect the two, they would make up a bridge across time and space.
- The fear that the ‘metaverse’ – an immersive, virtual, augmented world being developed by the company formerly known as Facebook – could change reality for the worse misses the fact that much of life is already mediated digitally. The idea that reality in the future will be a world of VR and AR does appear to be far-fetched, more dystopian science fiction than reality. But, at the same time, Meta (formerly Facebook) intends to spend billions to realize this vision. But the idea of the Metaverse does raise important questions about a future that is more mediated by technology than we are at present. Zuckerberg’s claim is that the Metaverse will give the user a sense of immersion. The virtual and real worlds will come together so that information can be projected onto reality, giving users a unique and natural experience. For Louis Rosenberg, a computer scientist and developer of the first functional AR system at the Air Force Research Laboratory, this is worrying, because it would be worse than present-day social media. He argues that this technology has “the potential to alter our sense of reality, distorting how we interpret our direct daily experiences.” Our surroundings will become filled with persons, places, objects, and activities that don’t exist. But as he says, “they will seem deeply authentic to us.” The danger is that third parties could introduce “paid filter layers” that allow certain users to see specific tags over real-life people. These tags might float above every person’s head, for instance, and provide bits of information about them. “The virtual overlays could easily be designed to amplify political division, ostracize certain groups, even drive hatred and mistrust.” ~ Norman Lewis
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tanked on Tuesday, retreating from near-record highs, amid tightening of regulations on digital assets. Top crypto bitcoin dropped almost 8% toward $60,000 during late morning trade, according to CoinDesk data. It recovered some of those losses and was trading at around $60,643 at 08:00 GMT. The global crypto market cap declined about 7% to the $2.66 trillion mark. The dip comes as China warned it will continue to clean up virtual currency mining in the country.
- A group of refugees has again attempted to breach the border between Belarus and the EU, with Polish officers filmed firing water cannon as the row over illegal migration worsens. The use of flash grenades has also been reported.
- Narcissism and vanity are on the rise. While in the past these were considered vices, we must concede that today, in our downward-hurtling dystopia, these are now positively virtues. There is no longer any moral opposition to ANYTHING that might stand in the way of a ‘more impressive selfie’. Fake teeth, fake smiles, duckface, caked orange layers of fake tan, and endless personal portrait photos captured during every imaginable life situation comprise what we must refer to as our new ‘Instagram culture’. But these captures, this endless stream of vignettes, are not real life. Instead, they are the vain mirror of the wished life, the showy artifacts of those endlessly ‘seeking to impress’, whether they are actually doing anything eventful or not. Social media (particularly Instagram) seems to have been performing an enormously influential social experiment – affecting fashion, personal relations, dating, employment, politics, and how we think of ourselves. The way we view and live life is altered by the prism of reflection: everyone is watching everyone else. ~ Brendan Heard
- The largest e-commerce platform – Amazon.com – was allegedly used to sell 1,000 kg of marijuana worth $148,000 under the disguise of curry leaves and stevia leaves, a natural food sweetener. India’s Amazon e-commerce platform is reportedly being investigated by police in India’s Madhya Pradesh state on the suspicion it’s being used to smuggle drugs. Last week, police raided a warehouse in the state’s Gwalior city and arrested two people for selling marijuana on Amazon. The spokesperson of Amazon.in issued a statement and clarified, “We do not allow the listing and sale of products which are prohibited under law to be sold in India.” An Amazon spokesperson said the company would cooperate with the investigative authorities.
- While all heavy elements on Earth were formed in extreme astrophysical conditions, such as those generated by stellar explosions and collisions of neutron stars, it is the mystery of how the heaviest elements, such as gold and uranium, were created, that has particularly intrigued researchers. Scientists from the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung) in Darmstadt, jointly with colleagues from Belgium and Japan, revealed that promising candidates for synthesis of heavy elements are certain black holes with orbiting matter accumulations or “accretion disks”.
- An audit of NASA’s Artemis project suggests that a US return to the moon, ambitiously scheduled for 2024, will not be feasible for several years later, at a minimum. The audit reported a shortfall in funding, delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic and an overly optimistic initial 2024 goal as the primary culprits for the delay. The Artemis program is a 2017 initiative intended to reinvigorate the US space program.
- Kīlauea volcano is erupting from a single vent in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. As of this morning, November 16, 2021, lava is erupting at the summit. Activity has returned to levels observed prior to the brief decrease in activity. All lava activity is confined within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Seismic activity and volcanic gas emission rates remain elevated.
- La Palma eruption has intensified today compared to the previous days. Periods of small lava fountaining and moderate ash emissions were seen at the summit vents today. In the morning, the ash plume rose to 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude and drifted to the east coast, forcing the airport to temporarily close its operations. Lava effusion remains stable and at least 3 lava flows are active at the growing lava delta, where the new addition at the Los Guirres beach has now merged with the previous one. Its size is currently around 40 hectares – new land extending the coast line of the island. Volcanic tremor intensity has increased a bit, which suggests that magma flow rates also have increased. This again matches with the visible increase of activity today.
News Burst 17 November 2021