New $7 Million XPrize Competition Aims To Explore Oceans

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On Monday, the XPrize Foundation announced its latest competition: the $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPrize, which aims to map the ocean floor in high resolution, and find sources of pollution autonomously. Teams will test their technologies in two rounds at two separate undisclosed locations, mapping a 500 square kilometer area of ocean floor in high resolution at depths of 2, and 4 kilometers; winners will receive a grand prize of $4 million.

An additional $1 million will be awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to teams that have technology capable of “sniffing out” specified objects through biological and chemical signals. Xprize claims that such technology could also help us learn about our own history, and find medical advancements to currently fatal diseases.

The competition was designed to create better maps, and expand our present knowledge of the oceans, as they are currently 95% unexplored, and remain as one of Earth’s last mysteries. We have mapped the moon, Venus, and Mars, all in much higher resolution than our own oceans. It is also estimated that two thirds of species in the ocean remain to be discovered.

Each of the 25 teams will try to create new, relatively low cost technology that can map the ocean floor, and identify archaeological, Biological, and geological features. Each team must prove their robotics can function efficiently at a depth of 2 and 4 kilometers, where there is no sunlight, high pressure, and temperatures below freezing. A bonus $1 million will go to any team that can make technology that can track chemical and biological signatures to find objects. Such technology could lead to many other discoveries and inventions, as well as helping to find sources of human-caused pollution and slow global warming.

Unlike land, the sea floor can’t be mapped in high resolution by satellite, since radar waves don’t pass through water. Satellites rely on precisely measuring the height of the ocean, and when enough data is collected, scientists can calculate the differences in the ocean surface caused by the landscape below the surface. This technology has given us a full map of the ocean to a resolution of 5 kilometers, which allows us to see the largest features, such as ocean trenches; leaving us with plenty of room for discovery under the water that covers two-thirds of our planet. We’ve mapped the entire surface of the moon at a resolution of 7 meters, and most of Mars and Venus at 100 meters.

XPrize is hopeful that the competition will usher a new era of ocean exploration, and help to better humanity through future innovation from it. The competition is the third of five multi-million dollar ocean based challenges to be created by 2020. The 10 year XPrize Ocean Initiative was created to address critical challenges in ocean exploration and technology; with the goal to make the oceans “healthy, valued, and understood”.

By Tony Simpson

Sources: The VergeOcean Discovery Overview

Possible new law of nature on the way

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The world of physics is excited about strong but early evidence about the behavior of muons, paricles identical to electrons only 200x more massive (heavier), which once born take 2.2 microseconds to decay into an electron, and which spin like tops. In a new, extremely precise measurement, they were made to wobble using magnetic fields but they unexpectedly wobbled quite significantly faster than the Standard Model suggests they would. They might spin so fast due to an unknown force caused by an unknown particle, and this is what is so exciting.

“We found that a muon … is not in agreement with our current best theory of physics at the subatomic level, and … it potentially points to a future with new laws, new particles and new forces in physics which we haven’t seen to date,” said Professor Mark Lancaster at U of Manchester.

“The main goal of the experiment is to make the measurement and compare with the theory, and if they disagree then it’s telling us that there’s something in nature which is not in the theory,” explained James Mott at Fermilab.

The four known forces of nature (gravity, electricity, two nuclear forces: strong and weak interactions) have left scientists without an answer for some observed phenomena, such as the speed at which galaxies spin (faster than the best model suggests). Therefore, they continue to search for glitches in their already-tight models which might point them things they don’t yet know about.

The most recent work was done at Fermilab (Muon g-2 experiment), but a similar experiment was already done earlier at the Large Hadron Collider. These tools accelerate particles in large rings at close to the speed of light.

The evidence needs more tests for greater certainty, particularly to rule out the possibility of a systematic error, and particularly with a new, independent experiment, but physicists will be chasing this line of experiment eagerly.

“This is outstanding confirmation of experimental technique, and very, very suggestive of the possibility of new physics,” noted scientist David Hertzon of U of Washington.

By the editors

#AnomalousMagneticDipoleMomentOfTheMuon #QuantumElectrodynamics

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People in Kachin state demonstrate against China

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YANGON, Myanmar – The people in the Pharkant area of Kachin state demonstrated against China this week, drawing a cross on the Chinese flag and burning a picture of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing.

“China stands with the military leader,” shouted the demonstrators.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Aye Yarwaddy

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Myanmar military council arrests the artist Zarganar

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YANGON, Myanmar – The artist Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military council from his home in Tarmwe township, Yangon this morning.

Zarganar is not only a director but also a comedian famous for political jokes since the 1988 democratic revolution.

Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military many times before 2010.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Zarganar page

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Kayin IDPs struggle to get for food

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YANGON, Myanmar – Kayin internally displaced people are desperate for food, clothing and shelter, hiding in the forest from the air strikes of the Myanmar military.

The IDPs fled to neighboring Thailand, but Thai government turned them back. However, Wednesday morning the Thai government opened Maeseli jetty in Maehaungsaung district to sending rations and medicines over the border to Kayin state, according to a Thai media.

By Htay Win

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Twenty Myanmar celebrities charged with incitement

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YANGON, Myanmar -They were charged under the country’s media law with inciting government employees to join the popular civil disobedience movement (CDM) through social media.

Celebrities took part in the NLD election campaigns and are thought to have played a large part in influencing the public, particularly Myanmar’s youth, to vote for Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Myanmar celebrity

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