Science & Technology

Net neutrality is alive and well after this week's crushing court defeat

October 07, 2019

On Oct. 1, the Washington DC circuit court of appeals rejected arguments to reinstate net neutrality protections repealed last year by the Republican-led US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Telecom companies will now only be subject to “light-touch” federal regulation and are free to block, slow, or otherwise discriminate against content and services. FCC Chairman and ex-Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai welcomed the ruling as a “victory for consumers, broadband deployment, and the free and open Internet.”

The mass inflow and outflow rates of the Milky Way

October 07, 2019

Since the availability of material is key to star formation in a galaxy, knowing the rate at which it is added and lost is important to understanding how galaxies evolve over time. And as Michael Foley of Astrobites summarized, characterizing the rates at which material is added to galaxies is crucial to understanding the details of this "galactic fountain" model.

NASA Expects to Buy More Soyuz Seats for Astronauts in 2020, at $85 Million a Pop: Reports

October 07, 2019

NASA anticipates having to buy yet more seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft next year, according to media reports. The three-seat Soyuz has been U.S. astronauts' only way to get to and from the International Space Station (ISS) since 2011, when NASA grounded its space shuttle fleet. NASA is counting on private U.S. craft to pick up the slack and has been encouraging these vehicles' development via the agency's Commercial Crew Program.

Blue Origin's CEO says first space trips on New Shepard will cost 'hundreds of thousands of dollars'

October 06, 2019

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture has always shied away from saying how much it will cost to fly to the edge of the final frontier on its New Shepard suborbital spaceship. But today, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith hinted at a ballpark figure.

U.S. online privacy rules unlikely this year, hurting big tech

October 06, 2019

A U.S. online privacy bill is not likely to come before Congress this year, three sources said, as lawmakers disagree over issues like whether the bill should preempt state rules, forcing companies to deal with much stricter legislation in California that goes into effect on Jan. 1.

UPS becomes first US company to win approval for a drone airline

October 04, 2019

UPS announced that it has received government approval to operate a “drone airline.” Don’t expect your next package to arrive directly on your doorstep by a drone, though: UPS says it will first use this certification to build a drone delivery network for hospital campuses around the US. UPS said in July that it was seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the network, and today, it got just that.

Are You Developing Skills That Won’t Be Automated?

October 03, 2019

The future of work looks grim for many people. A recent study from Forrester estimated that 10% of U.S. jobs would be automated this year, and another from McKinsey estimates that close to half of all U.S. jobs may be automated in the next decade. The jobs that are likely to be automated are repetitive and routine.

NASA Produces Stunning Simulation of a Black Hole

October 02, 2019

It was just this year that we got our first real look at a black hole, and it matched many of the theoretical predictions that came before the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project made history. An impressive new NASA simulation shows us what that black hole might look like if we were closer.

Astronomers Find 'Impossible' Planet Circling Tiny Star

October 02, 2019

GJ 3512 b is a gas giant orbiting a tiny red dwarf, GJ 3512. The planet itself is in an eccentric, 204-day orbit around its star, but spends most of its time closer to its parent than Mercury is to Sol. GJ 3512, however, can only manage ~0.2 percent of our Sun’s solar output. But a planet the size of GJ 3512 b isn’t supposed to exist.

The Satellites Were Never Supposed to Launch

October 02, 2019

Swarm had asked federal regulators for permission to launch and operate in space, as all American companies must do. Its application was rejected. The satellites launched anyway. When they crossed the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere, Spangelo instantly became a space outlaw. The case of the rogue satellites was a first in the United States.

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