MOSCOW, May 29 -- The probability that debris from an Indian satellite shot down earlier may puncture the International Space Station (ISS) has risen by 5%, Executive Director of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos for Manned Space Programs Sergei Krikalyov said on Wednesday.
"The Americans have carried out calculations on the probability of the station getting punctured because of more debris surfacing and being dispersed. There are numerical estimates raising the probability of a puncture by about 5%," Krikalyov said at a session of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Council.Senior Assistant to the Section Head at the Main Center for the Surveillance of the Space Situation Roman Fattakhov said earlier that more than 100 pieces of the debris appeared after India had tested its anti-satellite weapon, shooting down a satellite. The debris may eventually pose a threat to the ISS.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a televised address to the nation on March 27 that the country’s Air Force had successfully tested its own anti-satellite weapon, shooting down a satellite in low near-Earth orbit. As Modi noted, the tests have enabled India to join the club of the world’s space super-powers, which includes the United States, Russia and China. The interceptor missile developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was launched from a testing range located on Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal. The satellite shot down by an interceptor missile was a space vehicle produced by India domestically.
TEHRAN, May 8. -- Tehran decided to partially suspend the execution of some of its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.
Rouhani said Iran stops the implementation of its commitments under two items of the JCPOA. They concern the suspension of sales of enriched uranium and heavy water that Iran has to other countries for 60 days, under Sections 26 and 36 of the deal, according to Press TV. Iran expects the other members of the deal to take measures for preserving it and fulfilling their obligations within 60 days. Rouhani said that the JCPOA does not stop its operation and Iran does not withdraw from the deal. On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump declared Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA - a deal that was inked in 2015 and restricted Tehran’s nuclear developments in exchange for the abolishment of the sanctions introduced by the UN Security Council and the unilateral restrictive measures launched by the US and the EU. In November last year the US’ sanctions against Iran’s oil sector were restored. On April 22, Trump decided not to prolong the exceptions to the oil sanctions against Iran, which renewed operation in November 2018. Then Washington introduced a ban for importing Iranian oil but allowed major importers to continue purchases during six months.
LOS ANGELES, May 6 -- Fueled by its performance in the China market, Disney and Marvel's mega-blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame" became the fastest film to cross the 2-billion-U.S.-dollar mark at the worldwide box office in history, doing so in only 12 days after it was released with a global total of 2.189 billion dollars.
"Avengers: Endgame" brought in 428 million dollars worldwide in its second weekend, including 145.8 million dollars from North America and 282.2 million dollars from overseas markets through Sunday. The film had already smashed box office records last weekend with a tremendous global debut of 1.209 billion dollars, setting a new high-water mark for an opening weekend, according to studio figures collected by measurement firm Comscore.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, "Avengers: Endgame" is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers. It's the 22nd installment of the Marvel Universe franchise and purported to be the last with this star lineup. The film follows the surviving members of the Avengers and their allies who work to reverse the damage caused by Thanos in Infinity War. China is the film's top grossing international market. The epic finale film took in around 80 percent of the Chinese mainland May Day Holiday box office. According to the major Chinese online ticketing service Maoyan, since its debut on April 23, the film's total box office in China reached 3.88 billion yuan (576 million U.S. dollars) to date, ranking third in Chinese mainland box office history, only after the homegrown sci-fi "The Wandering Earth" and the Chinese action movie "Wolf Warrior 2." The film had broken all previous opening weekend records in China as it brought in a massive 329 million dollars over its five-day launch weekend in China, exceeding the 270 million dollars prediction by analysts.
"China has embraced 'Avengers: Endgame,'" said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, adding that "the results have been nothing short of astounding." "The film keeps on rewriting the record books around the world and of course in China where a love of cinema and the movie theater experience has made this essential movie market one of the key drivers in the film's massive and unprecedented success," he said.
NEW YORK, May 4 -- The US SpaceX aerospace company has launched the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft with the cargo for the International Space Station (ISS) crew.
The launch was broadcast live on SpaceX’s website. The launch was initially scheduled for Friday morning. However, it was cancelled because of electrical equipment problems.
BEIJING, May 3 -- A video shot in 2017 of Zhao Yusi, the Chinese student whose family paid US$6.5 million for her fraudulent admission to Stanford University, has gone viral on social media.
In it, she claims she was accepted because of her “hard work”. In the 90-minute video, made when she was 17, Zhao offered viewers advice on getting into prestigious American universities while admitting that her “natural IQ isn’t particularly high”. “I want tell everyone that getting into Stanford isn’t just a dream. You just need to have a clear goal and work as hard as you can towards it,” she said. “Some people think, ‘Did you get into Stanford because your family is rich?’ No, the admissions officers basically do not know who you are.”
Chinese family reportedly paid US$6.5 million to ‘fixer’ for admission into Stanford
Zhao, known as “Molly”, said she was awarded a full grant scholarship to Stanford, whose last publicised acceptance rate from 2017 at 4.65 per cent was lower than those of Harvard and Yale, at 5.2 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively. In comparison, the acceptance rate for Oxford and Cambridge universities is about 20 per cent. Zhao is one of the students caught up in a US college admissions scandal that resulted in 33 parents, including celebrities, investors and company executives, facing fraud charges. The fixer and the main architect of the scam, William “Rick” Singer, admitted laundering their payments through his charitable foundation to bribe university administrators and sports coaches to place students. The international scheme was revealed by the US Justice Department in March, in what is the biggest criminal case involving college admissions yet. The alleged payment by Zhao’s family was by far the largest in the case. Zhao’s mother, identified as “Mrs Zhao”, released a statement through her lawyer on Friday saying that she was “misled” into donating to Singer’s charity “which was represented to her as a substantial and legitimate non-profit foundation” funding student scholarships at Stanford. She said Singer’s university admissions consultancy “did not guarantee admission into any particular school” and that her daughter was also a “victim”.
ROTTERDAM, April 23 -- Electric vehicles in Germany account for more CO2 emissions than diesel ones, according to a study by German scientists.
When CO2 emissions linked to the production of batteries and the German energy mix - in which coal still plays an important role - are taken into consideration, electric vehicles emit 11% to 28% more than their diesel counterparts, according to the study, presented on Wednesday at the Ifo Institute in Munich. Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt and manganese used for batteries consume a great deal of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 tonnes of CO2. Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.
The CO2 given off to produce the electricity that powers such vehicles also needs to be factored in, they say. When all these factors are considered, each Tesla emits 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is more than a comparable diesel vehicle produced by the German company Mercedes, for example. The German researchers therefore take issue with the fact that European officials view electric vehicles as zero-emission ones. They note further that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per km by 2030 corresponds to a “technically unrealistic” consumption of 2.2 litres of diesel or 2.6 litres of gas per 100 kms. These new limits pressure German and other European car manufacturers into switching massively to electric vehicles whereas, the researchers feel, it would have been preferable to opt for methane engines, “whose emissions are one-third less than those of diesel motors.”
Your libido fluctuates with your physical and emotional state, and the condition of your relationship. When this happens we often fret about our sexual prowess, but it is perfectly normal, and fixable. This week, we examine the issues surrounding female sexual dysfunction, which are not discussed enough and may be poorly understood, meaning many women feel unprepared and on their own when they experience it. Sexual inhibition or lack of sexual interest in women has many causes – anxiety, depression, stress, physical illness, medication, lack of sleep, relationship issues, age, hormone-based contraceptives, hormonal imbalances, a history of unfulfilling sex, past incidents of shaming about sex. Sexual functioning requires a balance between neurotransmitters and hormones. If there is even the slightest imbalance, a woman’s appetite for sex will drop. Relationship issues such as lingering anger or resentment, lack of communication, or an absence of trust can also lower sexual desire.
“Women in long-term relationships can often experience a loss of desire, as they may crave more eroticism, variety, or spark in their sex lives ... Feeling desired by one’s partner is an important turn-on for many women,” says Dr Kristin Zeising, a clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist at MindnLife, a Hong Kong-based private psychology practice. “A history of feeling shamed for sexual expression can impact desire and cause a woman to be more inhibited. Historically and culturally speaking, female sexuality is often stigmatised ... Other factors include past sexual traumas, religious upbringing, or even unsatisfactory sex, and women feel uncomfortable discussing these issues with their partner for whatever reason,” Zeising adds. Loss of interest in sex is widespread, and affects between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of women, depending on which part of the world they live in, she says. Asian and Middle Eastern women are more likely to experience a lack of sexual desire, and sexual problems such as an inability to reach orgasm, Zeising says.
“Women of all ages and cultures can experience a lack of desire at some point in their lives, so it’s quite normal and common. Women aren’t meant to always want sex, in whatever context or situation. In some cases, a woman may not desire sex on a regular basis – or at all – and they are perfectly fine with that. “However, it’s when a woman is feeling like her body has changed, or when their partner desires sex more than they do, that a depleted sexual appetite becomes problematic.” Many middle-aged women are vulnerable to low sexual functioning. They find that, as they age, their hormone levels drop and their bodies may need more stimulation than they previously did. “As oestrogen levels drop, the vaginal tissue thins and dries out, and this can make sex painful enough to put women off the act altogether,” Zeising says. “For many women, the reduction of oestrogen alone explains a nosedive in libido. But other aspects of menopause may also leave them feeling unsexy and not desiring sex, like mood swings, hot flushes, weight gain, and anxiety about ageing.” When that happens, she says, women should talk to a gynaecologist about medication and other solutions to make sex more comfortable. Zeising says feeling positive about ageing and about a partner tends to outweigh the physiological effects of declining hormone levels.
Seven steps to stimulate your sex life:
● Schedule sex; create a space to allow sex regularly and build up the anticipation:
● Re-frame how you think about sex to reduce anxiety;
● View sex as a team sport by emphasizing mutual pleasure over performance;
● Tell your partner what you like and what you need from them;
● Give yourself permission to reap pleasure from the act of sex;
● Focus on the emotional pleasure and satisfaction gained from sex with your partner;
● Use your imagination; map out a sexual fantasy to share with your partner.
LOS ANGELES, April 15 -- The plan is for the Stratolaunch plane to eventually act as a flying launch pad for satellites, which could potentially be a less expensive way to send objects into space than rockets.
The twin-fuselage plane has six engines and was made from two used Boeing jetliners. It flew over the Mojave desert in California for two and a half hours during its maiden flight on Saturday April 13. It flew at a maximum speed of about 189 miles per hour at about 15,000 feet above the ground, according to Stratolaunch.
The vital statistic
The plane’s 385 foot (117 meter) wingspan is wider than a football field, making it the longest in the world. You can watch a clip of the flight here.
The grand plan:
Eventually, the hope is that the plane will be able to fly about two or three times higher than commercial jets, before it releases satellites into orbit. Stratolaunch believes this will be more efficient than the usual approach of launching rockets from the ground.
NEW YORK, April 10 -- For the first time ever, humanity can gaze at an actual photograph of a supermassive black hole.
It’s an achievement that’s taken supercomputers, eight telescopes stationed around the world, hundreds of researchers, and vast amounts of data. The results from this project, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), were announced today at joint press conferences streamed around the world.
“Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the Universe,” Sheperd Doleman, the Project Director of the Event Horizon Telescope said at a press conference today before unveiling the image. The picture shows the black hole at the center of the huge galaxy Messier 87 (M87), located 53 million light years away from Earth. The black hole in this galaxy has a mass that the Event Horizon Telescope researchers estimate at six billion times more massive than our Sun. In addition to being gargantuan, M87’s black hole was already intriguing to researchers. In some early pictures of the galaxy, they notices a massive jet of plasma streaming out from its center. Scientists think that the jet is made of material that never quite made it into the event horizon of the black hole. Instead, the movement of M87’s black hole (which researchers believe is spinning rapidly) accelerated the plasma and sent it shooting out into the universe, a beacon to distant astronomers.
The Event Horizon Telescope is not a single, traditional telescope, but rather refers to a group of eight radio telescopes stationed on five continents, which all observed the same areas of space over the course of one week in April 2017. According to the Event Horizon Telescope, a conventional telescope would have to be approximately the size of Earth in order to take this particular snapshot of the black hole at the center of M87. “This is a picture you would have seen if you had eyes as big as the Earth and were observing in radio,” Dimitrios Psaltis, an Event Horizon Telescope project scientist at the University of Arizona said. Individually, none of the telescopes measured up, but by coordinating their efforts, the researchers were able to zero in M87, collecting massive amounts of data in the process.
OSLO, April 4 -- The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is misleading the public by suggesting that global warming and its impacts are accelerating. In fact, since 2016 global average temperature has continued to decline.
That’s according to Norwegian Professor Ole Humlum whose annual review of the world’s climate is published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Last week, the WMO issued its own review of the climate, which insinuated that global warming was worsening.
However, Professor Humlum points out that the data tells a very different story:
“Reading the WMO report, you would think that global warming was getting worse. But in fact, it is carefully worded to give a false impression. The data are far more suggestive of an improvement than deterioration.”
And the lack of anything to be alarmed about is clear across a range of measures, says Professor Humlum:
“After the warm year of 2016, temperatures last year continued to fall back to levels of the so-called warming “pause” of 2000-2015. There is no sign of any acceleration in global temperature, hurricanes or sea-level rise. These empirical observations show no sign of acceleration whatsoever.”
Professor Humlum’s key findings: