Forbes magazine says the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.02tn, up from $1.7tn in 2012!
The Mars Science Laboratory team has hinted that they might have some big news to share soon. But like good scientists, they are waiting until they verify their results before saying anything definitive. In an interview on NPR today, MSL Principal Investigator John Grotzinger said a recent soil sample test in the SAM instrument Sample Analysis at Mars shows something ‘earthshaking.’
“This data is gonna be one for the history books,” he said. “It’s looking really good. ”What could it be?
SAM is designed to investigate the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian atmosphere and soil. In particular, SAM is looking for organic molecules, which is important in the search for life on Mars. Life as we know it cannot exist without organic molecules; however they can exist without life. SAM will be able to detect lower concentrations of a wider variety of organic molecules than any other instrument yet sent to Mars.
As many scientists have said, both the presence and the absence of organic molecules would be important science results, as both would provide important information about the environmental conditions of Gale Crater on Mars.But something ‘Earthshaking’ or “really good” probably wouldn’t be a nil result.Already, the team has found evidence for huge amounts of flowing water in Gale Crater.
Continue reading @ Has Curiosity Made an ‘Earth-Shaking’ Discovery?.
Astronomy forums are buzzing with speculation about newly-discovered Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). Currently located beyond the orbit of Jupiter, Comet ISON is heading for a very close encounter with the sun next year. In Nov. 2013, it will pass less than 0.012 AU (1.8 million km) from the solar surface. The fierce heating it experiences then could turn the comet into a bright naked-eye object.
Much about this comet–and its ultimate fate–remains unknown. “At this stage we’re just throwing darts at the board,” says Karl Battams of the NASA-supported Sungrazer Comet Project, who lays out two possibilities:
“In the best case, the comet is big, bright, and skirts the sun next November. It would be extremely bright — negative magnitudes maybe — and naked-eye visible for observers in the Northern Hemisphere for at least a couple of months.”
“Alternately, comets can and often do fizzle out! Comet Elenin springs to mind as a recent example, but there are more famous examples of comets that got the astronomy community seriously worked up, only to fizzle. This is quite possibly a ‘new’ comet coming in from the Oort cloud, meaning this could be its first-ever encounter with the Sun. If so, with all those icy volatiles intact and never having been truly stressed (thermally and gravitationally), the comet could well disrupt and dissipate weeks or months before reaching the sun.”
“Either of the above scenarios is possible, as is anything in between,” Battams says. “There’s no doubt that Comet ISON will be closely watched. Because the comet is so far away, however, our knowledge probably won’t develop much for at least a few more months.”
Meanwhile, noted comet researcher John Bortle has pointed out a curious similarity between the orbit of Comet ISON and that of the Great Comet of 1680. “Purely as speculation,” he says, “perhaps the two bodies could have been one a few revolutions ago.”
As technology becomes more advanced and more accessible across multiple platforms, it’s only natural for consumers to expect increasingly higher standards of creativity and engagement from content creators. However, with social media, apps, tablets, smartphones, websites, TV, etc. all part of the audience’s viewing habit, learning how stories should be evolving and how to make narratives work across platforms is a complicated matter. A new study offers some perspectives on what audiences may be looking for in their stories.
Research consultancy Latitude recently released phase one of a two-part study titled “The Future of Storytelling” that looks to uncover trends and audience attitudes about content. Overall, the study revealed that audiences are looking for a blurring of barriers between content and reality in a layered yet cohesive execution. The company asked “early adopters” around the world how they wanted to experience stories and asked them to reinvent some of today’s well-known stories accordingly (according to the company, early adopters are “people in over 10 countries who are more likely to own smartphones, tablets or both; who are already more likely to seek out content through multiple avenues; and who are more likely to be aware of the possibilities that the Internet and emerging technologies present”).
Based on participants’ responses the study zeroes in on “four I’s” that will continue to shape storytelling:
- Immersion: Delving deeper into the story through supplementary context and sensory experiences.
- Interactivity: Allowing consumers to become part of the narrative and possibly influence its outcome.
- Integration: Having a seamless connection among all platforms being used and going beyond just replicating content on different devices.
- Impact: Inspiring consumers to take action of some kind, e.g. purchase a product, sign up for a service, support a cause, etc.
Other findings from the study:
“Transmedia is more than media shifting:” 82% wanted complementary, not duplicating, mobile apps for their TV watching experience.
“The real world is a platform:” 52% consider the real world as another platform in which 3-D technology, augmented reality, and the like are expected to link the digital and physical.
Control: 79% expressed the desire to become part of a story, interacting with its main characters.
“So far, one of the biggest insights for us is that the emergence of new technologies means there’s a largely untapped opportunity to allow people to tie stories directly into their own lives—bringing narratives ‘out of the screen,’ so to speak, often through meaningful connections with characters,” says Neela Sakaria, EVP/Managing Director at Latitude. “We’ve distilled our findings down into a few key principles, and our hope is that content creators begin to embrace the idea that the desire for interesting cross-platform experiences isn’t as niche as some might think. Innovative storytelling isn’t just for fantasy fiction, and there are exciting new opportunities for news creators and even retailers to use storytelling principles to engage people more deeply.”
Some 1,600 years ago, the Temple of the Night Sun was a blood-red beacon visible for miles and adorned with giant masks of the Maya sun god as a shark, blood drinker, and jaguar.
Long since lost to the Guatemalan jungle, the temple is finally showing its faces to archaeologists, and revealing new clues about the rivalrous kingdoms of the Maya.
If you want to avoid becoming a victim of a natural disaster or of climate change, you could do no better than to live in Malta or Qatar, according to a new United Nations study which says these two small countries are the safest in the world.
The World Risk Report for 2011, conducted by the UN’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, is based on an index related to the exposure of countries to natural hazards and climate change, as well as social vulnerability.
It rates the island of Vanuatu in the Pacific as the most dangerous place in the world, with very high exposure to natural disasters and high social vulnerability.
If you lived on this island, your risk of falling victim to a natural disaster would be 32 per cent.
At the other end of the 173-country league of risk lie Malta and Qatar. Both have very low exposure to earthquakes, floods or rising sea levels and their societies and infrastructure are well-prepared to tackle such events, according to the report.
In Malta, the risk of becoming a victim of a natural disaster is 0.72 per cent while that of Qatar is just 0.02 per cent…
A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.
James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.
As part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education, Coursera, a year-old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, will announce on Tuesday that a dozen major research universities are joining the venture. In the fall, Coursera will offer 100 or more free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally…