Americans Don’t Think the Platforms Are Doing Enough To Fight Fake News

Journalists regularly weigh in on what platforms like Facebook and Google are and aren’t doing to stop the spread of viral misinformation. But what do Americans at large think? From a report: Nothing good, according to a new survey published by Gallup and the Knight Foundation on Wednesday. The report, based on web surveys from a random sample of 1,203 U.S. adults, found that 85 percent of Americans don’t think the platforms are doing enough to stop the spread of fake news. Additionally, 88 percent want tech companies to be transparent about how they surface content, while 79 percent think those companies should be regulated like other media organizations — a common trope among journalists. That’s despite the fact that the majority of people surveyed (54 percent) said social media platforms help keep them informed and that they’re concerned about those companies making editorial judgments.

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Florida’s Gulf Coast Battles Deadly And Smelly Red Tide

Greg Allen, writing for NPR: Florida this week declared a state of emergency because of a slow-moving natural disaster — red tide. Red tide is toxic algae that have persisted off Florida’s Gulf Coast for nearly a year. In recent weeks, the algae bloom has worsened, killing fish, turtles and dolphins and discouraging tourism on some of the state’s most beautiful beaches. Scores of dead fish were visible on the shore of Manatee Beach on a recent morning. There was a smell from the fish, but something more — an acrid smell that can make you cough. Mary Vanswol, who was at the beach with her husband, James, said, “Uh, the smell is terrible. And it’s affecting my lungs. I’m coughing, not so much him, but I am. It’s just sad to see all the dead fish.” The Vanswols live nearby and usually go swimming. But not today. After getting a look at the dead fish and the murky, slightly reddish-hued water, Mary Vanswols said they were leaving. “I wouldn’t even walk along the edge of it. I just don’t think it’s safe,” she said.

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Microsoft and Amazon Begin Public Rollout of First Alexa-Cortana Integrations

Starting today, Amazon and Microsoft will begin rolling out the first integrations between the digital assistants, allowing users to rouse Cortana on Echo devices and conjure Alexa on Windows 10 PCs and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. From a report: “The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life — at home or work, and on whatever device is most convenient,” Microsoft’s Jennifer Langston wrote in a blog post. “Currently, Cortana and Alexa can each be enabled as a skill on the other.” Cortana users can ask Alexa to shop for items on Amazon, manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s more than 45,000 skills. Alexa users will be able to get their hands on Cortana’s top abilities, like calendar management and email integration. Users first have to ask their Amazon or Microsoft digital assistant to open up the other in order to begin the setup. After completing several steps and account logins, Alexa and Cortana will be able to communicate. Amazon and Microsoft are encouraging users to give feedback on the experience via the Cortana and Alexa apps.

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India To Launch First Manned Space Mission By 2022

India will launch its first manned space mission by 2022, the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, which could make it the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China. From a report: Modi congratulated Indian scientists for excelling in their research and are at the forefront of innovation. “Our scientists have made us proud. They launched over 100 satellites… They successfully completed the Mars mission.” ISRO, India’s space agency, successfully launched 104 satellites on 15 February 2017, of which three were Indian while the rest were foreign commercial satellites. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, India’s first interplanetary mission was launched on November 5, 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It has been orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014.

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Apple Argued That Buildings at Its Headquarters Were Worth $200, Not $1B, To Reduce Its Tax Bill: Report

Apple argued that buildings it owned around Cupertino, where it is headquartered, were only worth $200 instead of the $1 billion tax assessors deemed in 2015, according to appeals reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle. From a report: The report characterized the dispute as part of an aggressive strategy by Apple to lower its tax bills. According to the Chronicle, Apple has 489 open appeals in tax disputes over property assessed at $8.5 billion in Santa Clara County, Calif., dating back to 2004. Those appeals include the $1 billion building assessed by tax officials, as well as another $384 million property that Apple also claims is worth $200. Apple is now valued at $1 trillion. It is also the county’s biggest taxpayer, paying $56 million in the 2017-2018 tax year.

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Scientists Find Way To Make Mineral Which Can Remove CO2 From Atmosphere

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Scientists have found a rapid way of producing magnesite, a mineral which stores carbon dioxide. If this can be developed to an industrial scale, it opens the door to removing CO2 from the atmosphere for long-term storage, thus countering the global warming effect of atmospheric CO2. This work is presented at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston. Now, for the first time, researchers have explained how magnesite forms at low temperature, and offered a route to dramatically accelerating its crystallization. A tonne of naturally-occurring magnesite can remove around half a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere, but the rate of formation is very slow. The researchers were able to show that by using polystyrene microspheres as a catalyst, magnesite would form within 72 days. The microspheres themselves are unchanged by the production process, so they can ideally be reused. Project leader, Professor Ian Power from Trent University in Ontario added: “Using microspheres means that we were able to speed up magnesite formation by orders of magnitude. This process takes place at room temperature, meaning that magnesite production is extremely energy efficient. For now, we recognize that this is an experimental process, and will need to be scaled up before we can be sure that magnesite can be used in carbon sequestration (taking CO2 from the atmosphere and permanently storing it as magnesite). This depends on several variables, including the price of carbon and the refinement of the sequestration technology, but we now know that the science makes it do-able.”

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Mobile Internet Goes Free, National For a Day In Cuba

More than 5 million cellphone users in Cuba received free internet on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before the government launches sales of the service. The test marks the first time internet services were available nationwide. Reuters reports: Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries. There are hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots in Cuba but virtually no home penetration. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, considered the country’s social media pioneer, raved that she had directly sent a tweet from her mobile. In another tweet, she called the test a “citizen’s victory.” On the streets of Havana, mobile users said they were happy about the day of free internet, even as some complained that connectivity was notably slower than usual.

Hotspots currently charge about $1 an hour although monthly wages in Cuba average just $30. The government has not yet said how much most Cubans would pay for mobile internet, or when exactly sales of the service will begin. But [the state-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA] is already charging companies and embassies $45 a month for four gigabytes. Analysts have said broader Web access will ultimately weaken government control over what information reaches people in a country where the state has a monopoly on the media.

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SpaceX Reveals the Controls of Its Dragon Spacecraft For the First Time

On Monday, SpaceX let reporters take a look inside its Crew Dragon capsule for the first time, as well as hear from the four astronauts: Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins. Ars Technica writes about several pieces of hardware observed at the event in Hawthorne, California: During the event at SpaceX, engineers guided reporters through various displays. Outside, under a resplendent blue sky with the rolling hills of Palos Verdes in the distance, media was invited to crawl into a low-fidelity mockup of the crew Dragon spacecraft. This was a roomy vehicle, especially in comparison to NASA’s current ride to the space station, a cramped Soyuz with a capacity of three. The Dragon will comfortably carry a normal complement of four for NASA, but seven seats can fit inside. On the second floor of its main factory, where astronauts have trained in recent years, SpaceX also showed off two simulators publicly for the first time. This marked the first time SpaceX has revealed details about the controls and the interior of its crewed spacecraft. The cockpit simulator demonstrated the controls that Dragon astronauts will have at their command. In comparison to the space shuttle and its more than 1,000 buttons, switches, and controls, the Dragon capsule has a modest array of three flat screens and two rows of buttons below.

These touch screens selectively display the necessary controls during flight and are the primary interface astronauts have with the vehicle. Below are two rows of manual buttons, 38 in total, that provide back-up control of the spacecraft. Many of the buttons are situated beneath clear panels, intended to never be used, because they are often the third option after the touch screens and ground control of the Dragon. One control stood out — a large black and red handle in the middle of the console with “EJECT” printed in clear white letters above it. This initiates the launch escape system, which rapidly pulls the spacecraft away from the rocket in the case of an emergency during the ascent into space. It must be pulled, then twisted. Normally the flight computers would initiate such a maneuver, but the prominence of the escape system handle underlines its importance. Notably, after the vehicle reaches orbit, this control becomes “deadened,” such that accidentally pulling it in space would do nothing. CNBC has included several pictures of the Crew Dragon capsule mock-up in their report. CNN also has a first look video with text and quotes from the astronauts.

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Scientists Calculate the Speed of Death In Cells And It’s 30 Micrometers Per Minute

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Live Science: Scientists found that death travels in unremitting waves through a cell, moving at a rate of 30 micrometers (one-thousandth of an inch) every minute, they report in a new study published Aug. 10 in the journal Science. That means, for instance, that a nerve cell, whose body can reach a size of 100 micrometers, could take as long as 3 minutes and 20 seconds to die. Apoptosis — or programmed cell death — is necessary for clearing our bodies of unnecessary or harmful cells, such as those that are infected by viruses. It also helps shape organs and other features in a developing fetus.

To figure this out, Ferrell and his team observed the process in one of the larger cells present in nature: egg cells of Xenopus laevis, or African clawed frogs. They filled test tubes with fluid from the eggs and triggered apoptosis, which they watched unfold by tagging involved proteins with fluorescent light. If they saw fluorescent light, it meant apoptosis was taking place. They found that the fluorescent light traveled through the test tubes at a constant speed. If apoptosis had carried on due to simple diffusion (the spreading of substances from an area of high concentration to one of low concentration), the process would have slowed down toward the end, according to the study. Since it didn’t, the researchers concluded that the process they observed must be “trigger waves,” which they likened to “the spread of a fire through a field.” The caspases that are first activated, activate other molecules of caspases, which activate yet others, until the entire cell is destroyed.

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Verizon Nears 5G Launch Deals With Apple and Google: Bloomberg

In a statement Tuesday, Verizon announced deals making Apple and Google its first video providers for a 5G wireless service its planning to launch in four cities later this year. From the report: The home broadband service will debut in Los Angeles, Houston and Sacramento, California, as well as the newly announced fourth city of Indianapolis, Verizon said Tuesday in a statement. With the introduction, Verizon will provide 5G customers either a free Apple TV box or free subscription to Google’s YouTube TV app for live television service, according to people familiar with the plan. After shelving its own online TV effort, New York-based Verizon decided to partner with the two technology giants for video content, a first step toward eventually competing nationally against internet and pay TV providers such as AT&T and Comcast Using fifth-generation wireless technology, Verizon plans to beam online services to home receivers, delivering speeds that match or exceed landline connections.

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