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Hometown: Atlanta
Home country: US
Member since: Sat Jun 1, 2013, 12:19 AM
Number of posts: 2,859

Journal Archives

Trump Administrations Deregulation Push Heads for Outer Space

Source: Wall Street Journal

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce Wednesday new moves promoting private ventures in space, including easing launch rules and putting the Commerce Department in charge of broader deregulation initiatives.

The recommendations, which are awaiting President Donald Trump’s final approval, are intended to better coordinate federal efforts to spur commercial space projects, according to government and industry officials familiar with the details. With the primary goal of rolling back regulatory burdens on the budding industry, they cover new generations of advanced communications and Earth-observation satellites, space tourism and long-term plans for mining asteroids, among other things.

The actions, slated to be announced during a meeting of the White House Space Council at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, will be the most detailed moves yet to accelerate the development of commercial projects beyond the atmosphere.

Combined with earlier budget blueprints providing seed money for public-private partnerships for human space exploration, the Trump administration’s plans are focused on reducing government oversight and procedural delays for a broad range of space entrepreneurs and corporate investors, according to the government and industry officials, who have been told about the thrust of the policy shifts.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-seeks-to-stimulate-private-space-projects-1519145536

I know the WSJ isn’t popular because of the paywall, but this article loaded for me with no subscription.

Milky Way ties with neighbor in galactic arms race

Astronomers have discovered that our nearest large neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, is roughly the same size as the Milky Way. It had been thought that Andromeda was two to three times the size of the Milky Way, and that our own galaxy would ultimately be engulfed by our supposedly bigger neighbour. But the latest research, published today, evens the score between the two galaxies.

The study found the weight of the Andromeda is 800 billion times heavier than the sun, on par with the Milky Way. Astrophysicist Dr Prajwal Kafle, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, said the study used a new technique to measure the speed required to escape a galaxy. "When a rocket is launched into space, it is thrown out with a speed of 11 km/s to overcome the Earth's gravitational pull," he said. "Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is over a trillion times heavier than our tiny planet Earth so to escape its gravitational pull we have to launch with a speed of 550 km/s. We used this technique to tie down the mass of Andromeda."

Dr Kafle said the research suggests scientists previously overestimated the amount of dark matter in the Andromeda galaxy. "By examining the orbits of high speed stars, we discovered that this galaxy has far less dark matter than previously thought, and only a third of that uncovered in previous observations," he said. The Milky Way and Andromeda are two giant spiral galaxies in our local Universe, and light takes a cosmologically tiny two million years to get between them.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-milky-ties-neighbor-galactic-arms.html#jCp

GOP senators to introduce immigration plan mirroring Trump framework

Source: The Hill

A group of GOP senators are preparing to introduce an immigration plan that lines up with President Trump's framework as the Senate barrels toward a heated debate over the issue.

Seven GOP senators, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), will file the bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act, on Monday.

"Our proposal is supported by the President, who’s come a long way to reach a compromise. This is the only Senate proposal that has any chance of passing the House and being signed into law," Grassley said in a statement.

The legislation mirrors Trump's framework by offering a path to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country as children illegally in exchange for $25 billion in border security.

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/373369-gop-senators-to-introduce-immigration-plan-mirroring-trump-framework

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a commercially run ventu

Source: Washington Post

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a kind of orbiting real estate venture run not by the government, but by private industry.

The White House plans to stop funding the station after 2024, ending direct federal support of the orbiting laboratory. But it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post.

“The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform,” the document states. “NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”

In its budget request, to be released Monday, the administration would request $150 million in fiscal year 2019, with more in additional years “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/02/11/the-trump-administration-wants-to-turn-the-international-space-station-into-a-commercially-run-venture/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_iss-12pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.507df68abb67

Elon Musk's flamethrower makes $3.5 million in sales

Source: CNET

The Boring Company decided to start selling flamethrower weapons over the weekend, and it appears to have become an aspiring supervillain's newest shop. Elon Musk's company has made $3.5 million in sales after the CEO announced the weapon on social media Saturday.

The flamethrower has The Boring Company's logo emblazoned on it and sells for $500 (roughly £355 and AU$620). Musk announced early Monday on Twitter that 7,000 of the 20,000 available flamethrowers have already been ordered, bringing us to $3.5 million using a little multiplication.

Musk, who is also known for leading Tesla and SpaceX, promoted his new fiery toy with glee in an Instagram video featuring him turning on the flamethrower and then running at the cameraman (Please don't do this, EVER!).

And accompanying the flamethrower on the website is a branded fire extinguisher, which The Boring Company openly advises is overpriced at $30 (roughly £20 and AU$40). Those should decide to order one should expect to receive the weapon this spring, notes the store website.

Read more: https://www.cnet.com/news/elon-musk-the-boring-company-flamethrower-makes-3-5-million-in-sales/

The End of Men? Male Sex chromosome is slowly disappearing

Source: Newsweek

The Y chromosome may be a symbol of masculinity, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is anything but strong and enduring. Although it carries the “master switch” gene, SRY, that determines whether an embryo will develop as male (XY) or female (XX), it contains very few other genes and is the only chromosome not necessary for life. Women, after all, manage just fine without one.

What’s more, the Y chromosome has degenerated rapidly, leaving females with two perfectly normal X chromosomes, but males with an X and a shriveled Y. If the same rate of degeneration continues, the Y chromosome has just 4.6 million years left before it disappears completely. This may sound like a long time, but it isn’t when you consider that life has existed on Earth for 3.5 billion years.

The Y chromosome hasn’t always been like this. If we rewind the clock to 166 million years ago, to the very first mammals, the story was completely different. The early “proto-Y” chromosome was originally the same size as the X chromosome and contained all the same genes. However, Y chromosomes have a fundamental flaw. Unlike all other chromosomes, which we have two copies of in each of our cells, Y chromosomes are only ever present as a single copy, passed from fathers to their sons.

This means that genes on the Y chromosome cannot undergo genetic recombination, the “shuffling” of genes that occurs in each generation which helps to eliminate damaging gene mutations. Deprived of the benefits of recombination, Y chromosomal genes degenerate over time and are eventually lost from the genome.

Read more: http://www.newsweek.com/end-men-y-chromosome-slowly-disappearing-785043

NASA pulled this astronaut from a space station crew. Her brother blames racism.

Source: Washington Post

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps, who was slated to become the first black crew member to live on board the International Space Station, was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight.

In a brief news release Thursday, NASA announced that Serena Auñón-Chancellor, a fellow member of Epps's astronaut class who was scheduled to launch later in the year, would be bumped up to take Epps's place. Epps, who had already started training for her role on Expedition 56-57, will return to Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she will be a candidate for future crews.

NASA did not give an explanation for the crew change. But Epps's brother blamed racism at the space agency.

“My sister Dr. Jeannette Epps has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogynist in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!” Henry Epps wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. (The post has since been removed.) He linked to a MoveOn.org petition asking NASA to reinstate Epps.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/01/22/nasa-pulled-this-astronaut-from-a-space-station-crew-her-brother-blames-racism/?utm_term=.08782be4ad22

Sotomayor Doing Fine After Treatment by Paramedics, Court Says

Source: Bloomberg

Paramedics treated U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for low blood sugar at her Washington home Friday, but the 63-year-old justice, who has type 1 diabetes, was able to go to work and is doing fine, a court spokeswoman said.

"Justice Sotomayor experienced symptoms of low blood sugar at her home this morning," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. "She was treated by D.C. Emergency Medical Services and is doing fine. She came to work, followed her usual schedule, and will be participating in planned activities over the weekend."

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-19/sotomayor-doing-fine-after-treatment-by-paramedics-court-says

NASA's Jeanette Epps won't make history on the Space Station in 2018

Source: Mashable

Jeanette Epps, who was set to become the first-ever African-American astronaut to be a crewmember on the International Space Station, will not fly to space in 2018 as scheduled, NASA announced late Thursday.

It's not clear why Epps was reassigned from her flight. The decision pulls her from her slated mission, which was expected to launch in June.

"A number of factors are considered when making flight assignments; these decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information," NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean said via email.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor "... is taking the place of astronaut Jeanette Epps, who will return to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to assume duties in the Astronaut Office and be considered for assignment to future missions," NASA said in a statement.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/18/jeanette-epps-nasa-space-station-reassignment/#RLbo4oFSfSqb

Apple, Returning Overseas Cash, to Pay $38 Billion Tax Bill

Source: Bloomberg

Apple Inc. said it will bring hundreds of billions of overseas dollars back to the U.S., pay about $38 billion in taxes on the money and spend tens of billions on domestic jobs, manufacturing and data centers in the coming years.

The iPhone maker plans capital expenditures of $30 billion in the U.S. over five years and will create 20,000 new jobs at existing sites and a new campus it intends to open, the Cupertino, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Apple’s shares rose 1.7 percent to a record closing price of $179.10 in New York.

“We are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in the statement, which alluded to unspecified plans by the company to accelerate education programs.

Apple also told employees Wednesday that it’s issuing stock-based bonuses worth $2,500 each following the new U.S. tax law, according to people familiar with the matter.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-17/apple-expects-38-billion-tax-bill-on-overseas-repatriated-cash

Trump is still a dick.
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