Technology

The new BFR: How SpaceX’s giant rocket-spaceship combo for Mars has changed

SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) spaceflight system just went through a growth spurt. The reusable rocket-spaceship duo will stand 387 feet (118 meters) tall at launch, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Monday (Sept. 17) during a webcast event at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. That’s 11 percent taller than the previous design iteration, which the billionaire entrepreneur laid out in September 2017. Most of that increase comes courtesy of the BFR spaceship, whose length jumped from 157.5 feet to 180 feet (48 to 55 m). And the spaceship has changed in other important ways as well. For example, the 2017 iteration featured six Raptor engines, four of which were big-nozzled vacuum versions optimized for in-space use. But now, SpaceX envisions placing seven Raptors on the ship, all of which will be the same “sea-level” engines that power the huge BFR rocket. In addition, the 100-passenger BFR ship will now feature two movable fins near its nose and two larger ones near its tail — changes thath will help the vehicle maneuver its way to safe landings on worlds with atmospheres, such as Earth and Mars. (The ship will fall like a skydiver rather than fly like an airplane during its landings, however. It will touch down vertically after slowing its descent via engine firings, as the first stages of SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets do now. Such propulsion-based systems are needed for spacecraft to land on airless bodies like the moon, Musk stressed.) Those two rear “actuated” fins will also serve as landing pads, as will a leg back there that’s styled to look like a fin for symmetry and aesthetic purposes, Musk said. The 2017 version of the BFR spaceship didn’t have any front fins, and it sported just two rear “delta wings,” which weren’t part of the landing-leg system. “I think this design is probably on par with the other one,” Musk said during Monday night’s event. “It might be better. It’s slightly riskier technically, because of coupling legs and sort of the actuating wing-fin flaps . But I think it’s the right decision overall. I think it looks beautiful.” He also cited the new design’s resemblance to the rocket used by the comic-book character Tintin in the 1954 adventure “Explorers on the Moon.” “I love the Tintin rocket design, so I kind of wanted to bias it towards that,” Musk said. “If in doubt, go with Tintin.” Despite its recent growth, the BFR is still smaller than it was at birth, when it was known as the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). Musk unveiled the ITS architecture at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, announcing that the vehicle would stand 400 feet tall (122 m) and be 40 feet (12 m) wide. That girth was scaled down to 30 feet (9 m) in the 2017 update and remains the same today. Indeed, there shouldn’t be many big changes to the booster or spaceship going forward, Musk said Monday night. “I feel like this is the final iteration in terms of broad architectural decisions for BFR, BFS [Big Falcon Spaceship],” he said (though he did later add that the next version of the spaceship will probably also feature some vacuum Raptors). The architecture update was a bit of a sidelight Monday night. The main point of the event was to introduce Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the person who bought a round-the-moon flight aboard the BFR that could launch as soon as 2023, if development and testing of the vehicle go smoothly. Maezawa said he plans to take six to eight artists with him on the mission, which he is calling #dearMoon. He expects the works they create after returning to Earth to be transformative. “These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us,” Maezawa said. Musk praised Maezawa’s bravery and said his purchase (the cost of which was not disclosed) will help the development of the BFR significantly. SpaceX envisions the BFR eventually ferrying people to the moon, Mars and other worlds on a regular basis, helping humanity extend its footprint into the solar system. “The BFR is really intended as an interplanetary transport system that’s capable of getting from Earth to anywhere in the solar system, as you establish propellant depots along the way,” Musk said.

Very cool!!   Go SpaceX!   🙂

Facebook scams are on the rise, new report says

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is the latest to chime in with a recent alert about scammers who use Facebook Messenger to trick victims. In its Scam Tracker alert, the BBB said it has “received dozens of reports” about scammers using Facebook Messenger to promote phony grants. The key to the scam is the seeming familiarity of the sender: a friend, family or relative. The scammers often do two things, according to the BBB. They will either hack into your account or create a “lookalike profile” by stealing your photos and personal information. “Either way, scammers are banking that you will trust a message that appears to come from someone you know,” the BBB said. Echoing the BBB alert, this week, Beth Anne Steele with FBI’s Portland office wrote about a personal experience with Facebook messenger. In her post, Steele said that she got a message that looked like it came from a friend. The message included a video link that read: “Hey I saw this video. Isn’t this you?” She didn’t click on the link but was contacted the next day by the friend who said the scammers had hacked his account and that the link contained a virus. There are variations on these friend-and-family scams on Twitter and other social networks. On Twitter, for example, a scammer will send you a tweet purportedly from a person you follow that uses phraseology such as “someone is saying bad things about you” or “someone is spreading rumors about you.” “Scammers use two rules of thumb to lure victims. The first is to gain the confidence of their target through lent credibility…a friend, authority figure, or organization that the victim is likely to trust. The second rule of thumb scammers use is to create a sense of urgency; they want you to act now,” James Lerud, head of the behavioral research team at cybersecurity firm Verodin, said..

Just another reason I don’t use FB..  For more, click on the above..

Independent media rallies behind Alex Jones

Things move very quickly in the media realm, and in quirky ways. Despite the fact that Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify banned controversial broadcast host and “InfoWars” creator Alex Jones, he still led the national trends on Twitter throughout Monday. Such is the irony of social media. Certain content producers are banished from busy sites for violating “community rules” about the nature and tone of content — then the public can’t wait to talk about them. And talk they did. All that aside, the Texas-based Mr. Jones bypassed both traditional news and social media sites and immediately produced a “world exclusive” outlining his response from “being banned from the internet,” then streamed the statement from his own website, and on Twitter, where he still has a presence. Though they may not agree with Mr. Jones’ work or philosophy, many observers are troubled by the banning. “It is a dangerous cliff that these social media companies are jumping off to satisfy CNN and other liberal outlets,” said Media Research Center founder and veteran media analyst Brent Bozell. “This is part of a disturbing trend. In recent months top conservative congressmen have been shadowbanned on Twitter. Pro-life and pro-gun posts and videos are often removed on several platforms. Liberal journalists even objected to one conservative outlet attending a meeting with Facebook. Several conservative organizations like Live Action, the NRA and even the Christian satire site Babylon Bee have complained they had posts removed or censored,” Mr. Bozell continued. “Social media sites are supposedly neutral platforms, but they are increasingly becoming opportunities for the left and major media to censor any content that they don’t like,” he said, warning that the ban on Mr. Jones is “just the beginning.” Some other media forces were also at work. On Monday the Drudge Report led with Mr. Jones’ story — which is a monster-sized mention. The proverbial Drudge “hit” yields huge readership. Consider that in the last 24 hours alone, 29 million people visited Drudge, which is formatted like straightforward, old-school news. There are terse, pertinent headlines — lots of them — and all are immediately accessible, the provided links leading to the original content. Some heavy thinkers also stepped forward to have a say on Twitter, some characterizing Mr. Jones’ experiences as something right out of communist nation of yore. “Whether you like @RealAlexJones and Infowars or not, he is undeniably the victim today of collusion by the big tech giants. What price free speech?” asked British broadcaster and political analyst Nigel Farage. “Alex Jones is now an unperson, straight out of the plot of George Orwell’s 1984. Regardless what you think of him and Infowars, this is the equivalent of digital book burning and sets a horrifying precedent for mass censorship by Big Tech,” tweeted Mark Dice, an author and independent media analyst.

Agreed!!  This censorship by big tech is beyond outrageous.  Shame on ALL of them!!  For more, click on the text above.  And, if you are curious to see what all these tech companies don’t want you to see, just go to:  http://www.infowars.com   and you be the judge.

Apple’s Revenue, Earnings Top Estimates

Apple Incc. delivered its best-ever revenue for the June quarter, typically its weakest period, as demand for high-price iPhones remained resilient and services like app-store sales swelled to all-time highs. The results for Apple’s fiscal third quarter show how the world’s most valuable company is finding ways to grow amid a contracting global smartphone market that is roiling its rivals. “Growth was strong all around the world,” Apple finance chief Luca Maestri said during an interview. Though iPhone sales usually weaken in the spring and summer as anticipation builds for new devices expected in September, Mr. Maestri said demand has remained consistent, particularly for the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus. “Customers are really valuing the features in the products,” he said. Shares of Apple, up 28% over the past year, rose 3.6% to $197.01 in after-hours trading. Apple’s move to raise iPhone prices continued to pay off in the period with sales of its flagship product rising 20% to $29.91 billion even as shipments rose less than 1% to 41.3 million. Meanwhile, the company’s services business reported record revenue of $9.55 billion, a 31% increase from a year ago, strengthening the case that Apple is in the midst of a transformation from a device-driven business into one increasingly reliant on sales of subscriptions and software. The combination drove total revenue up 17% to $53.26 billion in the latest period, above Wall Street expectations and near the high end of its own guidance. Profit rose 32% to $11.52 billion, or $2.34 a share, also above analysts’ consensus estimates. Apple signaled it expects to sustain strong iPhone sales in the current quarter with a forecast for total revenue of between $60 billion and $62 billion, which would represent a healthy 14% to 18% increase from a year ago. The expected jump reflects a small boost from a trio of new devices the company is expected to release in September, analysts say, including an update to the $999 iPhone X, its first oversize phone with an organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, display and a 6.1-inch LCD phone with facial recognition technology. The new phones are projected to be priced between $699 for the LCD device and $1,099 for the plus-size handset, according to UBS, potentially ensuring another year of higher average iPhone prices to lift Apple’s total revenue. Analysts had estimated the $999 iPhone X made up one-quarter of total iPhones sold, which helped lift average selling prices per iPhone by nearly 20% to about $724. While sales of the company’s handsets have been more pedestrian so far this fiscal year than the more than 7% increase in annual iPhone shipments many analysts forecast a year ago, features like the iPhone X’s facial recognition and edge-to-edge display have been enough to help Apple deliver modest growth and revive a China business mired in a multiyear slump. The company said revenue in Greater China, where sales tanked in 2016, rose 19% to $9.55 billion. Apple’s chief rival, Samsung Electronics Co. , hasn’t fared as well. The South Korean company, which also has raised smartphone prices to nearly $1,000, reported a big decline in mobile phone profits on Tuesday as consumers hold on to devices longer and balk at higher prices. Samsung has seen its market share in China fall as homegrown rivals like Huawei Technologies Co. increase sales.

Smartphones are killing teenagers’ memories, study says

New research suggests that radiation from smartphones is negatively impacting teenagers’ memories, leaving them with short-term memory loss. The concern is that a year’s worth of radiation could be enough to damage the part of the brain that interprets images and shapes. According to the study, which was published Monday, researchers found that there is a negative impact on memory performance after exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) radiation. “This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations.” said Martin Röösli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in a statement, announcing the findings. The research was conducted by scientists at the Swiss TPH and studied the habits of 700 adolescents in Switzerland between the ages of 12 and 17. “The most relevant exposure source to the brain is the use of a mobile phone close to the head,” the statement added. “Several studies have been conducted to identify potential health effects related to RF-EMF, though results have remained inconclusive.” Activities such as sending texts, playing games or browsing the internet are not associated with the memory loss, as they only give off “marginal RF-EMF exposure” and thus are not deemed to affect memory performance. “A unique feature of this study is the use of objectively collected mobile phone user data from mobile phone operators.” Röösli added in the study. While the study highlights a potential cause for memory loss in adolescents, Röösli was careful to add that more research is needed to see if other factors may have influenced the findings, such as puberty, “which affects both mobile phone use and the participant’s cognitive and behavioral state.” Röösli said that any potential risks can be minimized by not having the phone up to someone’s head, either via the use of headphones or using the loudspeaker when calling, “in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at maximum power.” The findings come just days after a similar study from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which highlighted the link between smart devices and attention spans, leading to a higher likelihood of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The JAMA study found that frequent checking of social media, web browsing and other online activities will increase the likelihood of “meeting ADHD criteria” two years later, according to Jenny Radesky, MD, an assistant professor in Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. More than 2,500 students aged between 15 and 16 from 10 Los Angeles-area high schools between 2014 and 2016 took part in the JAMA study.

Pentagon sees quantum computing as key weapon for war in space

Top Pentagon official Michael Griffin sat down a few weeks ago with Air Force scientists at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to discuss the future of quantum computing in the U.S. military. Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, has listed quantum computers and related applications among the Pentagon’s must-do R&D investments. Quantum computing is one area where the Pentagon worries that it is playing catchup while China continues to leap ahead. The technology is being developed for many civilian applications, and the military sees it as potentially game-changing for information and space warfare. The U.S. Air Force particularly is focused on what is known as quantum information science. “We see this as a very disruptive technology,” said Michael Hayduk, chief of the computing and communications division at the Air Force Research Laboratory. Artificial-intelligence algorithms, highly secure encryption for communications satellites and accurate navigation that does not require GPS signals are some of the most coveted capabilities that would be aided by quantum computing. Hayduk spoke last week during a meeting of the Defense Innovation Board, a panel of tech executives and scientists who advise the secretary of defense. The DIB met at the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley location, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental. Quantum computers are the newest generation of supercomputers — powerful machines with a new approach to processing information. Quantum information science is the application of the laws of quantum mechanics to information science, Hayduk explained. Unlike traditional computers that are made of bits of zero or one, in quantum computers bits can have both values simultaneously, giving them unprecedented processing power. “The Air Force is taking this very seriously, and we’ve invested for quite a while,” Hayduk said. The Pentagon is especially intrigued by the potential of quantum computing to develop secure communications and inertial navigation in GPS-denied and -contested environments. “It’s a key area we’re very much interested in,” said Hayduk. Some of these technologies will take years to materialize, he said. “In timing and sensing, we see prototype capabilities in a five-year timeframe.” Communications systems and networks will take even longer. Quantum clocks are viewed as a viable alternative to GPS in scenarios that require perfect synchronization across multiple weapons systems and aircraft, for example, said Hayduk. “We’re looking at GPS-like precision in denied environments,” he said. “It often takes several updates to GPS throughout the day to synchronize platforms. We want to be able to move past that so if we are in a denied environment we can still stay synchronized.” Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to watch what other nations are doing. China is “very serious” about this, he said. It is projected to invest from $10 billion to $15 billion over the next five years in quantum computing. China already has developed quantum satellites that cannot be hacked. “They have demonstrated great technology,” said Hayduk. In the U.S., “we have key pieces in place. But we’re looking at more than imitating what China is doing in ground-satellite communications. We’re looking at the whole ecosystem: ground, air, space, and form a true network around that.”

Fascinating!  For more, click on the text above..

Comcast outage brings down internet, TV service across US

Comcast said Friday it was restoring cable services after a widespread outage impacted customers across the U.S. The outage, triggered by cut fiber lines, brought down internet, television and phone service for Comcast XFINITY customers in markets including New York and Philadelphia. DownDetector.com Opens a New Window. , a website that follows outages, also tracked large outages in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Seattle. In a statement, Comcast said its engineers were restoring service to residential and business customers. “We identified two, separate and unrelated fiber cuts to our network backbone providers,” the Philadelphia-based company said. “Our engineers worked to address the issue immediately and services are now being restored to business and residential internet, video and voice customers. We again apologize to anyone who was impacted.” Comcast directed customers on Twitter to contact the company if they continued to experience service disruptions.