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NASA astronauts safely drop into sea after pioneering SpaceX mission to International Space Station

Nasa astronauts have dropped into the sea after a pioneering SpaceX mission to the International Space Station.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first American astronauts to splashdown in 45 years when they landed in the capsule made by Elon Musk’s space firm.

The arrival in the Gulf of Mexico – after having blazed through Earth’s atmosphere, and being carried safely down by parachutes – brought an end to a mission that is set to change space travel in the US.



The mission began at the end of May, when the two men took part in the first launch of astronauts from US soil in nearly a decade.

The successful finish to the mission means that SpaceX’s Dragon capsule – in which the astronauts were carried up to space, docked with the ISS, and then safely came back down – has passed the last of its tests, and will now go into regular use flying astronauts.



Read more here. (The Independent UK)

An unprecedented Nintendo leak turns into a moral dilemma for archivists

For the past week, Nintendo fans have resembled digital archaeologists. Following a massive leak of source code and other internal documents — appropriately dubbed the gigaleak — previously unknown details from the company’s biggest games have steadily trickled out. Those poring over the code have uncovered a new Animal Crossing villager, early prototypes for games like Pokémon Diamond, cut characters from Star Fox, a very weird Yoshi, and strange titles like a hockey RPG. Perhaps the biggest discovery has been a Luigi character model from Super Mario 64.

From a historical and preservationist perspective, the leak is an incredible find. It’s a rare look into the process and discarded ideas of one of the most influential — and secretive — companies in video games. But for those preservationists digging through the data, that excitement is tainted by a moral dilemma. The origins of the code leak are still largely unknown, but it’s likely that it was obtained illegally. That presents a pertinent question: does the source of the leak tarnish all that historians can learn from it?

“It puts a bad taste in my mouth a bit about the leak to be sure, but perhaps my curiosity about the data is overriding my moral compass somewhat in this case, because I can’t say I’m unhappy to see the data released,” says an archivist who goes by the handle MrTalida. “The volume of new knowledge and understanding that this leak has brought is at times overwhelming.”

Read more here. (The Verge)

Tall people are more at risk of catching coronavirus due to 'aerosol transmission'

University researchers believe taller people may be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to their smaller peers.


The early findings of a survey of 2000 people in the UK and US suggests that the virus is transmitted via what 'aerosol transmission', rather than droplets alone.


The study found that being tall, specifically being over 6ft, more than doubled the probability of having COVID-19.


Data scientists from the University of Manchester, the US and Norway say aerosol transmission is 'very likely' with taller individuals at higher risk.


Aerosols can accumulate in poorly ventilated areas and are carried by air currents, whereas droplets are bigger than aerosols and are thought to travel relatively short distances via coughing, sneezing or talking.


Read more here. (Manchester Evening News UK)

Work begins in France to recreate process that powers the Sun

Fourteen years after receiving the official go-ahead, scientists began to assemble a machine in southern France on Tuesday that will seek to prove whether nuclear fusion, the process which powers the Sun, can be a safe and viable energy source for Earth.

The groundbreaking multinational experiment, ITER, has seen components arrive in the tiny commune of Saint-Paul-les-Durance from all corners of the world in recent months.

The components must now be painstakingly put together to finish what is dubbed by ITER in promotional material as the "world's largest puzzle".


The experimental plant's goal is to demonstrate that fusion power can be generated sustainably, and safely, on a commercial scale.

"Fusion provides clean, reliable energy without carbon emissions," said a statement from the 35 ITER partners: China, the 27 members of the European Union, Britain, Switzerland, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.



Read more here. (France24)

COVID-19 vaccine testing now underway with 30,000 volunteers

The world's biggest COVID-19 vaccine study is now underway with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government — one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.


There's still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will really protect against infection.

Volunteers won't know if they're getting the real shot or a placebo. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus still is spreading unchecked. Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said Monday that testing is taking place at 89 sites across the country. At an event with Vice President Pence in Miami, he said that over 100 vaccines around the world are in different stages, and he expects at least two more to be in phase 2 in the coming weeks.

Several other vaccines made by China and by Britain's Oxford University began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries earlier this month.

But the U.S. requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country and has set a high bar: Every month through fall, the government-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network will roll out a new study of a leading candidate — each one with 30,000 newly recruited volunteers.


Read more here. (CBS News)

StarCraft II has now reached its 10th anniversary, and will be celebrating with an anniversary update

StarCraft II has been out for almost a decade now. To commemorate the game’s tenth anniversary, Blizzard is publicly testing an anniversary update, introducing new campaign achievements for every mission in StarCraft II’s base game and its three expansions, in addition to changes that empower players to create their own custom campaigns.

One reason StarCraft II has stuck around so long is that fans have kept it alive by creating custom campaigns in the game. Blizzard has now absorbed several elements from Warcraft III’s game editor, making the interface in StarCraft II easier to use — there’s an entire gigantic blog post from the company detailing everything that’s new for the game’s map editor. The anniversary patch also introduced a new transitioning lobby, making it easier to move between two maps in multiplayer, in addition to a new “Campaign” subsection in the game’s variants menu.

Technically, Blizzard released many of these changes with update 4.13’s public testing round last Tuesday. It’s not clear which features in the anniversary update are brand-new and which are tweaks to features released in the previous patch.

Source (The Verge)

Prayer is no substitute for medical care, Alaska Supreme Court says

The Alaska Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court decision that removed an elderly woman from the care of her daughter after the daughter declined to treat the woman’s epilepsy and said she would use prayer to treat her, even in a medical emergency.

The daughter, identified in the decision as “Rachel O.,” argued the prior decision amounted to religious discrimination because she cares for her mother — identified as “Tiffany O.” — “based on the tenets of religion instead of how the state wants her cared for.”

The court disagreed, writing in a unanimous ruling that “by depriving her mother of personal care services and emergency services in favor of prayer, Rachel not only fails to satisfy the essential requirements (of state law), but also puts Tiffany’s health and safety at risk.”

Rachel represented herself as the appellant, and the Alaska Department of Law represented the appellee.

The ruling, published Friday, concludes nearly 13 years of action by the state, which became involved in 2007 when Rachel requested the state appoint a guardian for Tiffany.


Read more here. (ADN, Anchorage Daily News)
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