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Display this news only Earth's Atmosphere Extends Much Farther Than Previously Thought
02/21/19English
Slashdot Contrary to general belief that Earth's atmosphere stops a bit over 62 miles from the surface, a new study based on observations made over two decades ago by the joint US-European Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite shows that it actually extends as far 391,000 miles (630,000 km) or 50 times the Earth's diameter. This makes the Moon a very high altitude aircraft. From a report: Launched on December 2, 1995 atop an Atlas IIAS launcher from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SOHO is parked in the first Lagrange point (L1) 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth where it has carried out studies of the Sun and the solar winds, and will continue to do so until at least 2020. From this vantage point, the observatory's Solar Wind Anisotropie (SWAN) instrument is able to measure the presence of hydrogen by looking at the Lyman-alpha line in the solar spectrum. And what works for the Sun, works for Earth. By turning SWAN on the Earth at the right times of the year, SOHO was able to detect hydrogen atoms from the atmosphere and measure how far out they extend into what space scientists call the geocorona. While the existence of the geocorona is well known -- the telescope set up by the Apollo 16 astronauts on the Moon even photographed it -- no one was sure how far out it reaches until now.

By looking at data collected by SOHO in the mid 1990s, scientists from Russia's Space Research Institute and elsewhere were able to work out the extent and density of the geocorona. What they found was that sunlight on the day side of the Earth compresses the hydrogen until it reaches a density of 70 atoms per cubic cm at an altitude of 37,000 miles (60,000 km), and on the night side it can expand out until it has a density of only 0.2 atoms per cubic cm at the distance of the Moon's orbit. According to the study leader Igor Baliukin, the geocorona is so tenuous that it poses no hazard to astronauts or spacecraft.


Display this news only CERN's World-First Browser Reborn: Now You Can Browse Like It's 1990
02/20/19English
Slashdot A team at Switzerland-based research center CERN has rebuilt WorldWideWeb, the world's first browser created in 1990 for its researchers. From a report: Earlier this month a group of developers and designers convened at CERN, or The European Organization for Nuclear Research, to rebuild WorldWideWeb in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The WorldWideWeb browser was built by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 on a NeXT machine, following his March 1989 proposal for a 'Mesh' or global hypertext system for CERN that he would later call the World Wide Web. The system aimed to address information loss that came with a high turnover and CERN's constantly changing technology. This was an acute problem at CERN that Berners-Lee predicted the world would also face within the next decade. Besides the browser, Berners-Lee developed 'httpd', the first hypertext server software for serving up early webpages. The WorldWideWeb browser simulator is now available online to view in a modern browser. For anyone curious to know how to use it, the developers have provided written instructions and a video demo.

Display this news only A Psion Palmtop Successor Has Arrived and It Runs Android and Linux
02/20/19English
Slashdot dryriver writes: A lot of people probably remember the 1990s palmtop computers made by Psion fondly. The clamshell-design palmtops were pocketable, black and white, but had a working stylus and a fantastic tactile foldout QWERTY keyboard that you could type pretty substantial documents on or even write code with. A different company -- Planet Computers -- has now produced a spiritual successor to the old Psion palmtops called the Gemini PDA that is much like an old Psion but with the latest Android smartphone hardware in it and a virtually identical tactile keyboard. It can also dual boot to Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Sailfish) alongside Android. The technical specs are a MediaTek deca-core processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (plus microSD slot), 4G, 802.11c Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, eSIM support, and 4,220mAh battery. The screen measures in at 5.99-inches with a 2,160 x 1,080 (403ppi) resolution. The only thing missing seems to be the stylus -- but perhaps that would have complicated manufacturing of this niche-device in its first production run.

Display this news only Common Weed Killer Glyphosate Increases Risk of Cancer By 41 Percent, Study Says
02/14/19English
Slashdot A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The Guardian reports: The evidence "supports a compelling link" between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded, though they said the specific numerical risk estimates should be interpreted with caution. Monsanto maintains there is no legitimate scientific research showing a definitive association between glyphosate and NHL or any type of cancer. Company officials say the EPA's finding that glyphosate is "not likely" to cause cancer is backed by hundreds of studies finding no such connection.

But the new analysis could potentially complicate Monsanto's defense of its top-selling herbicide. Three of the study authors were tapped by the EPA as board members for a 2016 scientific advisory panel on glyphosate. The new paper was published by the journal Mutation Research /Reviews in Mutation Research, whose editor in chief is EPA scientist David DeMarini. [...] The study authors said their new meta-analysis evaluated all published human studies, including a 2018 updated government-funded study known as the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Monsanto has cited the updated AHS study as proving that there is no tie between glyphosate and NHL. In conducting the new meta-analysis, the researchers said they focused on the highest exposed group in each study because those individuals would be most likely to have an elevated risk if in fact glyphosate herbicides cause NHL.


Display this news only NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity Concludes a 15-Year Mission
02/13/19English
Slashdot For more than 14 years, the Opportunity rover crawled up and down craters, snapped pictures of a strange landscape and revealed surprising glimpses into the distant past of Mars. On Wednesday, NASA announced that Opportunity, the longest-lived robot ever sent from Earth to the surface of another planet, is dead. The New York Times: "It is therefore that I am standing here with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission is complete," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science. That ends a mission of unexpected endurance: it was designed to last only three months. Opportunity provided scientists a close-up view of Mars that they had never seen: finely layered rocks that preserved ripples of flowing water several billion years ago, a prerequisite for life.

The steady stream of photographs and data from Opportunity -- as well as its twin, Spirit, which survived until 2010 -- also brought Mars closer to people on Earth. Because the rovers continued so much longer than expected, NASA has now had a continuous robotic presence on Mars for more than 15 years. That streak seems likely to continue for many more years. A larger, more capable rover, Curiosity, arrived in 2012, and NASA is planning to launch another in 2020.
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