3,816 articles mezi dny 1.8.2019 a 31.8.2019

Taking time out is crucial. Don’t fill up your whole day and you can kickstart a new sense of rhythm

Machines work well at a constant speed – and the faster the better. They are designed and built for it. Whether they are spinning cotton or crunching numbers, regular, repetitive actions are what they excel at. Increasingly, our world is designed by machines, for machines. Digital technology brings them ever more intimately into our lives. We hold our phones in the palm of our hand, but it is they that have us in their grasp. We adapt to machines and hold ourselves to their standards: people are judged by the speed with which they respond, not the quality of their response. We find ourselves in a state of “continuous partial attention” – rarely stopping, never fully present. Such ideas are being woven into our culture. “Always on” becomes something to boast of, or aspire to. The moral high ground belongs to those who get on with things, not those who “delay”.

Most of us are busy most of the time, if not with work then with family, domestic tasks or our social networks – real and virtual. When I ask people how they are, they almost always answer “busy” or some variation of it. Busy-ness is high status. We feel we are being “sensible, logical, responsible, practical”. Ticking things off the “to do” list becomes a means of defining, or escaping ourselves. Faced with that anxiety we try to keep calm by carrying on, but what are we missing out on?

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‘Joker’s Joaquin Phoenix & Todd Phillips On Creating DC Character Study & Finding That Laugh – VeniceAfter unveiling footage at industry events and dropping the latest trailer just this week, Warner Bros world premieres Joker at the Venice Film Festival today. The most anticipated film of the event, the Todd Phillips-directed DC origins story screened for Lido press this morning -- with the longest lines I have ever seen for a […]

Asteroids and space debris could wreak untold devastation on the planet

Next year, Nasa will launch what all involved hope will be the most impactful space mission to date. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) is designed to smash headlong into its target. It’s an attempt to deflect an asteroid as a test of what to do if we spot a similar space rock on a collision course with our planet.

It’s hardly news we want to hear at a time of so many domestic problems, but the threat from near-Earth asteroids is just one of a string of dangers that the planet and its technology are facing from space. Explosions on the sun create “space weather” that can play havoc with our satellites and other electrical systems, while the growing amount of space debris imperils the satellites that we all invisibly rely on.

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How forecasters track Hurricane DorianThe path of Hurricane Dorian, which is currently over the Atlantic and heading for the state of Florida, is closely monitored by US weather services with powerful forecasting tools. On Friday, for example, seven flights by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Air Force with aircraft known as "hurricane hunters" were planned in and around Dorian. One of them, Suomi NPP, has its instruments focused on Dorian and gives information on its structure and strength, the temperature at the top of the clouds and the volume of rain.

‘Tardigrades on the Moon Is Not Good’On April 11, 2019, the Israeli SpaceIL company’s Beresheet (Hebrew for “In the Beginning”) lunar lander crashed on the Moon. Beresheet’s payload, supplied by the non-profit Arch Mission Foundation, was meant to be an informational backup for the Earth. It included a DVD containing 30 million pages of human knowledge, as well as 60,000 etched pages requiring no computer to read, keys to 5,000 languages, and DNA samples from 25 people. According to Arch Mission Foundation chairman Nova Spivack, in case of catastrophe, this informational library, parked on the Moon, could be sufficient to “regenerate the human race.”Many might consider Arch’s mission fanciful, others profound. But few objected. After all, it was their money. Creative people have certainly done sillier things. Too bad about the crash, though.But then it came out August 7 that Beresheet was carrying an additional cargo, some 10,000 microscopic animals called tardigrades, on a postage-stamp-sized piece of tape. Known to amateur microscopists as “water bears” or “moss piglets,” these animals have the capacity to survive dehydrated in a dormant state for years, and to be highly resistant to radiation damage as well. Now they were on the Moon.At first reporters reported the story with a light touch.  “Thousands of tardigrades stranded on the Moon after lander crash,” Mindy Weisberger playfully wrote in LiveScience. “Water bears stuck on the moon after crash,” reported the BBC. “There’s definitely some great source material for a sci-fi horror movie. Attack of the Moss Piglets from the Moon? We’d watch it.”But alas, the fun didn’t last. “Tardigrades on the moon is not good,” proclaimed NASA Goddard-based astrobiologist Monica Vidaurri in a series of tweets August 10. She continued (breaks between tweets omitted):> It is not cute. It is the result of a major gap in accountability for planetary protection and ethics between public and private science, and we have no idea what can happen as a result. It means that the private sector can keep doing as it wishes. It means they don’t answer to any protections/ethics office. And the fact that nothing is happening in terms of policy, and that decontamination standards STILL have not been updated, is dangerous beyond imagination. And if you are thinking anything along the lines of ‘sweet, we made moon beings!’ Then stop. Think carefully. WE made something on ANOTHER world that we do not fully understand. It has an environment, even if we deemed it ‘barren’ to any life on earth . . .> > What you are doing is showing excitement at the long history of forcing OUR values, systems, and in this case, living beings on another world. That is not our right, and it is not our job. If we carry on with that mentality, even if we took away the ‘colonization’ word the premise is the same. It’s colonialism. It’s imperialism.J’Accuse!Other putative planetary protectionists affected a greater degree of sobriety, but nevertheless joined in the inquisition, with claims that the offenses committed in L'Affaire Tardigrade threatened not only lunar science, astrobiology, and paleontology, but the entire structure of international law.These claims are of significant clinical interest, so let’s take a moment to examine them.At the core of the planetary protectionist prosecution’s case is the claim that delivering a milligram of dormant tardigrades to the Moon constituted “harmful contamination” of another world, which is forbidden by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. But this is nonsense, because while it is conceivable that the tardigrades might have survived the crash, and even remain revivable for several years on the Moon in dormant dehydrated form, they cannot metabolize there, as there is no liquid water on the lunar surface. So until and unless someone goes there and collects them and takes them into a lab for scientific study, they are just so much dust.Moreover, the Beresheet mission was hardly the first time anyone delivered microorganisms to the Moon. In fact, the Apollo missions left not milligrams, but kilograms of live microbes on the Moon in bags of human feces. This was an intelligent thing to do, since by leaving wastes behind the astronauts were able to return with more Moon rocks, which, pound for pound, are worth a lot more on Earth than manure. But it wouldn’t matter if they hadn’t, because as soon as the astronauts opened the door of the Lunar Module, millions of microbes were released on to the lunar surface, millions more hitched rides outside on spacesuits, and billions more were sent back down after the Lunar Modules left behind in orbit eventually crashed onto the Moon. Furthermore, even if, at great expense, those releases could have been prevented by engineered solutions, it still would have been impossible to conduct the Apollo missions within planetary-protection guidelines since it could never have been guaranteed that the Lunar Module would not crash, an event that would have released microbes all over the landscape.Monica Grady, a leading astrobiologist with the U.K.’s Open University at Milton Keynes, acknowledged this history, but commented, “You might say [planetary protection] was broken in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were there, which is true, but since then we've become much more aware of how we should preserve these planetary bodies.“I don't think anybody would have got permission to distribute dehydrated tardigrades over the surface of the moon. So it’s not a good thing.”More aware, or less aware? The Apollo wastes were dehydrated and effectively sterilized by the lunar environment within hours of being left behind, and the missions would have been impossible without accepting such transient releases. So something is “not a good thing,” but it’s not that tardigrades were sent to the Moon. It’s that nobody “would have got permission” to do it.If you can’t send tardigrades to the Moon, you can’t send people to the Moon.Moreover, there are some deeper problems here. In the first place, who gave the Moon to astrobiologists? Giving the Moon to astrobiologists is like giving the stratosphere to ichthyologists.But what about Mars? In contrast to the Moon, the Red Planet is indeed of significant justifiable interest to astrobiology. While the lunar-surface combination of daytime temperatures of 127 degrees Celsius (260 Fahrenheit) and hard vacuum would qualify it as an excellent lab autoclave, completely precluding any viable microbial life, on Mars there are no such forbidding conditions. Moreover, unlike the cold, dry, very thin-aired conditions prevailing there currently, the early Mars was warm and wet, with a thick CO2 atmosphere, making it a near twin for the Earth at the time when life first appeared here. So life could have developed on Mars, and even if it can no longer survive on the surface, it might have left behind fossils, and even still persist in underground hydrothermally warmed reservoirs. So wouldn’t science be served by banning humans from Mars?No. Fossil hunting on Earth requires hiking long distances through unimproved terrain, doing heavy work with pickaxes, and performing delicate work peeling off layers of sedimentary rocks to reveal the remains of life trapped within. Finding and characterizing extant life on Mars will require setting up drilling rigs to probe hundreds of meters into the ground and bring up water samples, and then subjecting them to biological surveys and biochemical testing in a lab. All of these operations are light years beyond the capability of robotic rovers. As for the objection that if we send humans to Mars we won’t know if the life we find there is native or something we brought ourselves, it is nonsense. If it is native life, it will have left fossils or other biomarkers to prove its existence on Mars before our arrival. That’s how we know there was life on Earth prior to the appearance of humans here. To believe otherwise is to concur with the creationists who argue that fossils do not prove the existence of life on Earth prior to humans because God could have created the planet with fossils included. That is not science.We don’t have to wait for human missions to become feasible for planetary protectionism to damage Mars exploration, it is doing so already. In 2015 the Curiosity rover, sent to Mars at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of over $2 billion, was blocked by planetary-protection considerations from investigating nearby places where it appeared that subsurface water was seeping to the surface. These might conceivably have contained microbes or remains of microbes. NASA’s planned Mars sample return mission has been enormously complexified, with multiple in-space autonomous rendezvous and dock operations inserted into the mission plan, in order to meet planetary-protection demands. These include not only “protecting” the surface of Mars from (impossible) contamination by microbes transported from Earth, but protecting Earth from (impossible) microbes living on the Martian surface (which if they did exist, would have long since arrived here on their own riding many of the 500 kg of naturally ejected Mars rocks that arrive  here every year.) As a result, the sample return has been turned from a mission into a vision. In fact, owing to the burdens imposed on mission design by planetary-protection requirements, NASA has not sent a life-detection experiment to Mars since 1976.So here we are, spending billions on a robotic planetary-exploration program and tens of billions on a human-spaceflight program while submitting those programs to planetary-protection restraints that preclude them from accomplishing their goals -- restraints whose absurd foundations are laid bare by the willingness of their advocates to fanatically demand their enforcement even for a self-sterilizing environment such as the Earth’s Moon.But there is a bigger question. It’s not just a matter of who gave the Moon to astrobiologists, but also of who gave the universe to professional scientists. Humans do not exist to serve scientific research. Scientific research exists to serve humanity. We learned a lot of science by settling America, but that’s not why we did it. We will acquire vast new knowledge by becoming a spacefaring species, but that is not why we should do it. We should do it to establish new branches of human civilization, which will enrich the human story in the future as much as human colonization of the Earth has enormously enriched it compared with what it would have been had we remained in our original homeland in the Kenyan Rift Valley. We will create new nations, sporting new languages, literatures, inventions, traditions, and heroes, on new worlds filled with wonders to be discover, certainly, but also history waiting to be made.Our presence will not “contaminate” these worlds, but enrich them fabulously. Settling them is not “imperialism,” it is construction. Humans are not vermin. We are creators, not destroyers. A living world is better than a dead world. A world of thinking beings is better than a world bereft of them. We are not the enemies of life and thought, we are their vanguard. It is our place to continue the work of creation. If we can, we should not just bring life to Mars, but bring Mars to life.I think we will. And when we have, no one will be able to look on our work and not feel prouder to be human.

Chinese scientists 'make first perfect replica' of tooth enamelScientists at a Chinese university say they have discovered the world's first material that can repair damaged tooth enamel once and last for life.A few drops of the liquid solution can fix all invisible cracks and wear on an ageing molar, according to researchers at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, eastern China, whose work was published on Friday in the journal Science Advances.The material, calcium phosphate ion clusters, can grow a thin layer of protective shield on teeth, the research showed. The transparent, crystal-like mineral has a structure resembling fish scales and a high mechanical strength " almost identical to the enamel on a human tooth.Its repair of the tooth "would be permanent", wrote the researchers, led by Professor Tang Ruikang at the university's chemistry department.A tooth's non-repaired left side (darker) and repaired right side (lighter) are compared using a fluorescent chemical. Photo: Zhejiang University alt=A tooth's non-repaired left side (darker) and repaired right side (lighter) are compared using a fluorescent chemical. Photo: Zhejiang UniversityThe technology could be developed as an effective remedy in clinical practice for enamel erosion, the main cause of tooth decay, Tang's team said. Tooth decay affects almost half of the world's population, costing dental patients in the United States and European Union a combined US$200 billion annually, according to the World Dental Federation.Enamel, the outer covering of teeth, is the hardest tissue in the human body, protecting teeth during biting and chewing food.Unlike other tissues such as muscle, bone and skin, enamel is generated by cells that die immediately after completing their job. The human body cannot produce more of them, so when enamel breaks or chips, it will not regenerate itself.For decades, researchers around the world have conducted studies to seek a solution, but the artificial materials tested previously could not recreate precisely the fine structure of natural enamel, leaving gaps or holes that could cause it to break off real enamel.Tang's team claim their new material can grow seamlessly on human teeth. They mixed two different types of repairing material together to form tiny clusters of mineral particles only 1.5 nanometres in diameter " smaller than a strand of human DNA.Unlike in previous experiments, these clusters could remain stable for a long time without clumping together, making precise reconstruction of an enamel-like structure possible.Chen Haifeng, associate professor at Peking University's biomedical engineering department, said that the research was a positive step but that the new material might need improvements before clinical use.For instance, the artificial layer requires two days to grow, which could be difficult for dentists to schedule with patients.The liquid solution contains triethylamine, a toxic substance with a very strong smell, which may pose a health risk, according to Chen. "But it doesn't mean we can't do anything," he said.The researchers said the chemical would quickly vaporise and none would be left in the teeth after the protective shield had formed.Some products preventing enamel erosion and decay, such as toothpaste with enamel-strengthening ingredients, are already available in shops."Prevention is the best approach," Chen said. "We should never wait until the damage is done. Our teeth are a miracle of nature. Artificial replacement will never do the job as well."This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Couch potatoes have twice the risk of an early death, major study suggestsCouch potatoes are twice as likely to die early, a major study suggests. Scientists tracked more than 23,000 adults for more than two decades to assess the impact of exercise on health. The research found that those with sedentary lifestyles for the whole period saw their risk of early death rise by 99 per cent.  The chance of a deadly heart attack or stroke was 168 per cent higher than that of those who regularly did at least two hours’ exercise a week. And those who were inactive at the start of the study, but got fit in later life managed to reduce their risk of dying young by around half. Experts said those who stayed active throughout life fared best. Fitness guides Lead researcher Dr Trine Moholdt, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, said: “Physical activity helps us live longer and better lives.” "Our findings imply that to get the maximum health benefits of physical activity in terms of protection against premature all-cause and cardiovascular death, you need to continue being physically active.  “You can also reduce your risk by taking up physical activity later in life, even if you have not been active before.” NHS guidance says all adults should get 150 minutes of exercise each week. But four in ten older adults failing to do even 10 minutes of brisk walking a month. The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Paris, reveals doing low levels of exercise also raises death risk. It found being active for less than two hours weekly raised chances of dying young by 60 per cent compared to fit adults. And it also increased risk if killer heart events by 90 per cent. Dr Moholdt said people should aim to incorporate exercise into the daily lives, like walking to the shops or using the stairs. And try and get out of breath twice a week. She added: “An important point to make here is that physical activity levels even below the advised levels will give health benefits. Physical fitness is more important than the amount of exercise.  “Do activities you like and get more movement into your everyday life. For example, walk to the shops instead of driving, get off the metro a stop early, and use stairs instead of the lift.  “I recommend everyone to get out of breath at least a couple of times each week.”

Handful of nuts twice a week can cut chance of dying from heart disease by almost a fifth, study findsEating a handful of nuts at least twice a week could cut the risk of dying from heart disease by almost a fifth, research has found. Experts said they were a good source of unsaturated fat, containing polyphenols which help to prevent heart attacks and strokes. More than 5,000 adults, aged 35 and over, with no history of heart disease, were quizzed about their diet in detail, every two years. Over the 12 years that followed, there were 751 cardiovascular events, including 179 deaths. The study found that those who consumed at least two portions of nuts a week had a 17 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease, compared with those who only ate them once a fortnight. Nuts consumed included walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and seeds. Researchers said the findings, presented at the European Society for Cardiology congress in Paris, showed a “robust” link even when other factors, such as exercise levels, were taken into account. They said that nuts appeared to confer particular benefits because of the combination of nutrients they contained, including polyphenols which reduce stress on the heart and phytosterols which lower cholesterol. Guidelines from the society suggest eating 30 grams of unsalted nuts every day. Heart disease is a leading killer in the UK Study author Dr Noushin Mohammadifard, of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute, Iran, said:  "Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fat and contain little saturated fat. They also have protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre, phytosterols, and polyphenols which benefit heart health.” He said eating raw nuts was best.  "Nuts should be fresh because unsaturated fats can become oxidised in stale nuts, making them harmful.” Heart disease is Britain’s biggest killer, with deaths from heart attacks, strokes and circulatory diseases accounting for 160,000 deaths in the UK every year. More than 7 million people are living with heart and circulatory diseases. The research examined the association between nut consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in the Iranian population. A total of 5,432 adults aged 35 and older with no history of cardiovascular disease were randomly selected. Participants or family members were interviewed every two years until 2013.

Iran official tweets at Trump after apparent rocket failureAn Iranian official published an image Saturday of a satellite after an apparent rocket explosion at the space center meant to launch it, tweeting at President Donald Trump after the American leader shared online what appeared to be a surveillance photo of the aftermath. The tweet from Iran's Information and Communications Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, including a selfie of him in front of the Nahid-1, comes as Tehran has yet to acknowledge Thursday's explosion at the Imam Khomeini Space Center. While specifics about the incident remain unclear, it marked the third failure involving a launch at the center, which has raised suspicions of sabotage in Iran's space program.