The lesson from this viral video is if you’re going to be a criminal, make sure you steal the video evidence as well. South African Lucky Jakkals was bicycling through Somerset West, South Africa when he was accosted by three men. The leader armed with a weapon demanded his bike and valuables. Ironically, the criminals didn’t take his helmet which had a recording GoPro camera on top. Thankfully, the police were able to arrest these foolish criminals with the video.
A house-sized asteroid flew past our planet today at about 58 percent the distance between the Earth and the Moon. The object, known as 2017 YZ4, is estimated to be between 7 and 15 meters (23 and 49 feet) – slightly smaller than the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia in 2013.
2017 YZ4 was only discovered on Christmas Day by the Mount Lemmon Survey, which is one of the most successful detectors of near-Earth objects (NEOs) in the world. 2017 YZ4 is an asteroid in the Apollo family, a group characterized by orbits that are wider than Earth’s but fly closer to the Sun than our own planet.
The asteroid’s closest approach happened around 10:56 Eastern Time at 224,396 kilometers (139 433 miles) from the surface of our planet. This is a safe distance, not that we could do much about it since it was only discovered a few days ago. It has a speed of 9.5 kilometers (5.9 miles) per second relative to our planet, so you wouldn’t want to be on its path.
According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, this was the closest asteroid since 2017 WA14 approached Earth on November 21. In 2017, there have been another 51 objects that ended up flying within one lunar distance. All but one, 2012 TC4, were discovered this year as they were approaching our planet.
NASA and other space agencies used 2012 TC4 to study the asteroid in detail. They even ran tests to better understand our asteroid warning systems and to determine how capable we would be at fighting off these objects.
While 2017 YZ4 might not pose an extinction-level threat to our planet, we need to remain vigilant as these objects can create widespread damage, like the above-mentioned Chelyabinsk meteor whose shock wave broke windows and injured thousands. For this reason, NASA and the European Space Agency have projects monitoring NEOs.
So far, we have discovered just a small percentage of the estimated 1 million hazardous asteroids larger than 30 meters (100 feet) that populate the space around Earth. Only about one in four asteroids larger than 100 meters (328 feet) have been discovered.
Teams are trying their best to come up with the right tools to protect us against this unlikely but serious threat; however, we currently remain woefully unprepared.
NASAs New Horizons spacecraft has beamed down an image appearing to show a snail trail across Plutos icy wilderness.
The image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was taken on July 14,2015, however the data only reached Earth on Christmas Eve 2015. The image shows Sputnik Planum, the 20-kilometer-wide (12-mile-wide)icy plain of Pluto.
Unfortunately, NASA doesn’t think the blob is actually a snail. They say the black cosmic-gastropod is actually a dirty block of water ice being pulled through denser solid nitrogen by currents caused by density differences.The X junction is most likely to be ridged margins,according to NASA, which are raised by about 100 meters (328 feet).
This part of Pluto is acting like a lava lamp,if you can imagine a lava lamp as wide as, and even deeper than, Hudson Bay, William McKinnon, deputy lead of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team, said on the NASA website.
You can check out the full-sized mosaic of Plutos icy plain imageshere.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service (NWS) gained a new, sharper weapon in their arsenal of computer models on Tuesday, which could result in better weather forecasts. The agency put its newly updated High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR, which is pronounced like the word “her,” except with many more Rs), into operational use after several years of experimental simulations.
The model will help meteorologists pinpoint the development of damaging weather conditions that are too small-scale and short-term to be detected by other models, such as derecho events like the one that shut off the lights to hundreds of thousands of people from Ohio to Virginia on June 29, 2012.
According to the NWS, the newly supercharged HRRR model, which had been in use before Tuesday but at a far coarser resolution, will allow forecasters to make better warnings of flash flooding, heavy snowfall, and the likelihood of severe thunderstorms. It could also make aviation forecasts more reliable, helping pilots steer clear of turbulence.
The key to the HRRR’s upgrade is a major narrowing of its spatial resolution, which is akin from going from taking a wide shot photograph to using a zoom lens. The spatial resolution of the improved model is four times finer than what was used before, allowing it to capture smaller-scale details, such as individual thunderstorms, that it might otherwise have missed. According to a press release, the improvements made each pixel in the model go from the size of an entire city, at eight miles wide, to the size of a neighborhood within that city, at two miles wide.
The new HRRR model was five years in the making from a team at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. The model is now run on supercomputers in Virginia and Florida on an hourly basis, and it takes advantage of real-time radar data to produce more accurate projections of how weather systems will move and develop. Its forecasts extend out to 15 hours in advance, compared to other weather models that project up to 10 to 14 days.
“This is the first in a new generation of weather prediction models designed to better represent the atmosphere and mechanics that drive high-impact weather events,” said William Lapenta, Ph.D., director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, part of the National Weather Service, in a press release. “The HRRR is a tool delivering forecasters a more accurate depiction of hazardous weather to help improve our public warnings and save lives.”
How the model works
The new model takes about 1,200 computer cores to run, and keeps them busy for each hour, NOAA research meteorologist Stan Benjamin told Mashable. He said the new model takes up about 12 to 15% of the operational computing capacity that NOAA has at the environmental prediction center, which is located in College Park, Maryland.
According to NOAA, the computer model starts out with a three-dimensional picture of the atmosphere one hour before the forecast, and ingests observations from a variety of sources, from weather stations on the ground to data from commercial aircraft flying in the skies above. It brings in radar imagery every 15 minutes to help the model understand where precipitation is moving and how it’s developing. The model’s hourly output provides 15-minute snapshots of weather conditions, which could help the NWS in its goal to transition from warning of a storm’s formation to issuing warnings based on storm forecasts.
“It actually knows about current radar reflective information,” said Benjamin, who led the research team that developed the model, “and it’s able to represent that and update it every hour.”
The HRRR update comes at the same time that the NWS is boosting its computing power for its other weather models, which in recent years have fallen behind Europe and Japan in their computing power and accuracy.
“Implementation of the HRRR is just one of many model improvements made possible with NOAA’s boost in its supercomputing power for weather prediction,” said Louis Uccellini, NWS director, in a press release.
The NWS has been beset by a series of technical glitches in the past several months, with critical portions of its website and warning dissemination system going down for hours at a time.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless you’re wearing a device that tracks your every step.
As the major players in the tech industry debuted new products at CES 2014 in Las Vegas this week, the Mashable team was there on the ground to bring you a firsthand look at the gadgets and speakers that generated buzz.
The jam-packed event tested our reporters mentally, and the spread-out venue tested their fitness levels as they briskly walked to and from the wealth of events. With so much to see and write about, they needed to cover ground faster than winter storm Hercules.
That’s why, for the second year in a row, we presented the Mashable staff with a challenge: Who could log the most activity at CES?
To most accurately measure our reporters’ speed and stamina, we provided them each with a Nike+ FuelBand SE. The activity-logging wristband tracked our reporters’ steps taken and measured their daily activity in “fuel points.”
Last year, Evan Engel finished in first place. This year, however, it was Nina Frazier-Hansen who finished with both the most steps taken (48,344) and fuelpoints (17,423), making her our clear winner of CES 2014. Congratulations, Nina!
Editor’s Note: Evan Engel was not able to log data on Sunday due to travel complications, and Samantha Murphy lost some data on Monday due to technical difficulties.
Sony may move into the territory market dominated by the Oculus Rift and other virtual-reality headsets with an upgrade to its head-mounted display. The company’s HMZ-T3W headgear has been around since September of last year, although it was designed to be primarily a video device. With a prototype head tracker attached, the visor-like entertainment device becomes an immersive game environment.
iGrow Laser Helmet
The iGrow Helmet claims to improve hair growth by stimulating weak hair follicles with laser therapy. That’s right, it’s a helmet that shoots lasers at your head.
3D Printed Jewelry
American Pearl is tapping into 3D technology to let customers design their own custom jewelry our of gold, silver and platinum. With the lower overhead, the custom jewelry could be cheaper too.
Image: Mashable, Nina Frazier-Hansen
FitBit Pairs with Tori Burch
In partnership with FitBit, Tory Burch will develop a fashionable line of necklace and wristband accessories designed to hold the Fitbit Flex.
Gaming hardware maker Razer enters the wearable tech market with a hybrid smart watch and activity tracker, called the Razer Nabu.
Sony Action Cam
The Sony HDR-AS100V is actually five action cams in one, or at least it can be. Up to five cameras can be “meshed” – networked via an optional wrist controller – so that the user can control footage captured by each cam.
Image: Mashable, Pete Pachal
The RunPhones headband combines two of the handiest exercise accessories: headphones and a headband.
Image: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Lumo Lift Will Make You Stand Straighter
The Lumo Lift, helps you improve your posture with a gentle vibration whenever you start to slouch.
The Martian Notifier
The Martian Notifier is Martian Watches newest smart watch. It’s been slimmed down some, and the price reflects that at $129.
Image: Mashable, Nina Frazier-Hansen
Panasonic Developing A Wearable Camera
Panasonic is working on a 4K wearable camera, enabling the user hands-free recording for sports or other everyday activities.
Image: Mashable, Nina Frazier-Hansen
Sol Republic Relays
The Sol Republic Relays are designed to fill two niches: everyday wear and fitness wear. Mashable‘s Pete Pachal reports that the earphones are extremely comfortable and secure-fitting.
Image: Mashable, Christina Ascani
Ok-i-dokey Unlocking System
For keyless entry, Ok-i-dokey presents an app, a special smart key, a bracelet (pictured) or a card reader – all as alternatives to sticking a key in a hole.
Image: Mashable, Nina Frazier-Hansen
At CES 2014, Pebble debuted its Pebble Steel, a premium smart watch. Like the original Pebble, the Steel is waterproof and has a battery life of 5 to 7 days. The e-paper display is now covered with Corning Gorilla Glass.
This smart bracelet from Neatatmo measures sun exposure and connects to iOS devices to let users know whether they’ve had too much (or too little) sun.
Image: Mashable, Nina Frazier-Hansen
LG Heart Rate Earphones
The LG Lifeband Touch can be paired with your phone to access functionality, such as accepting phone calls and controlling music.
FitBug Orb Fitness Plans
At CES 2014, FitBug unveiled targeted 12-week plans designed to push users toward their specific desired results. Stamped with colorful descriptors such as “no more baby belly,” “bum beautiful” and “gut buster,” FitBug claims its workout programs work as virtual personal trainers.
Next week, the European Space Agency and Airbus Defence and Space will sign an industrial contract to provide NASA with a propulsion system to take a crewed mission around the Moon in 2021.
ESA and Airbus are already providing a service module for the 2018 mission thatwill go around the Moon, but it wont carry any crew and will be controlled remotely from Earth.
The European Service Module, ESM, will provide propulsion, electrical power, water, and thermal control to the Orion spacecraft, which houses the astronauts.
Although details might potentially change between nowand the actual launch, the Orion and the ESM are expected to go farther than any human has ever gone before. It will fly by the Moon and use its gravity to go almost half a million kilometers (310,000 miles).
Orion will fly back around the Moon and then back to Earth. The round trip will take 20 days, and the crewed mission of 2021 will be the first time since 1972 that humans have left low-Earth orbit. The mission will carry four astronauts. Upon reentry, the ESM will separate and burn in the atmosphere. The Orion capsule will splash down in the pacific.
We are excited to be a part of this historic mission and appreciate NASAs trust in us to help extend humanitys exploration farther afield into our Solar System, ESAs Director of Human Space Flight, Dave Parker, said in a statement last December when the collaboration on the second ESM was announced.
The first ESM is currently being built in Bremen, Germany, by a team from 11 different countries led by Airbus. The second one will also be built in the same facility.
The planned Orion mission. Airbus Defence & Space/ESA
If you are worried about the rapture coming, imagine how the extinct dinosaurs must have felt. In Velocirapture, you play a wrathful, yet benevolent god, who is out to save all the good velociraptors while smiting all the bad ones. You swipe all the good dinos into the outstretched godly hand, and kill all the bad ones — who are really bad, and will knock other dinos into a pit. It’s a game by Adult Swim, so you expect a lot of silliness and fun mechanics.
When battling the evil forces of skeletons, the only force you can turn to is pizza. In this iPhone title, you play a giant, rolling pizza that destroys skeletons. The controls are simple; you tilt the phone to roll your angry pizza around, and tap to smash on skeletons foes. The levels are varied enough that this game is beyond a gimmick, too, and it’s enjoyable to play.
Enviro Bear 2010 is a game that can only be described as an elaborate troll. You play a bear in search of fish and berries to prepare for winter. Instead of going about the forest like a normal bear, you drive a car. The controls are impossible at best; you have to use only one paw to operate the gas, break, steering wheel and gear shift, as well as to whack at other things that get into the cab. There is no winning in this game — the best entertainment is trying to get your friends it.
Most games ask you to climb; this one asks you to plummet. F is for Falling is a simple game that looks as if it was drawn by hand. In this game, you are falling from a plane, and must avoid a series of obstacles by tilting the iPhone.
Don’t you hate it when giant mutant faces grow on the top of your hand? That’s the whole point of Ugly Hand, a weird game in which you must swat at the horrifyingly animated faces growing from your skin. This dark game is made by KAYAC, who also make other weird animated iPhone games.
If you are a person who fantasizes about fighting people you know, FaceFighter is the game for you. This bizarre title allows you to place faces from your iPhone’s camera roll onto your opponent, and then take them on. (In this, I’ve used my friend’s dog, which looks pretty sinister with its fists raised.) Simple punch and kick buttons make the action easy, though it may not have enough depth beyond the novelty of squashing the face of someone you know.
Frederic Chopin is back from the dead, and he’s got to figure out why in Frederic – Resurrection of Music. This iPhone title is a rhythm game; you play remixes of Chopin’s famous pieces on piano to take out enemies around the world. It has quite a deep story for an iPhone game, and entertaining cut scenes, but there isn’t much weirder than playing a zombie 19th-century composer fighting French rappers.
If you’re familiar with indie musician Daniel Johnston, you’ll know he has been iconically represented by an alien-looking frog with long eyestalks. The frog was normally was paired with “Hi, How Are You?” written below it. The weird little creature has inspired a game tribute to Johnston and his music. You navigate the frog through 40 levels to win your love back from Satan. The art is surreal, and the gameplay is simple; fans of the musician will appreciate it the most, but it strange enough for anyone.
Channel your rage at overgrown beards and ombre hair in Punch a Hipster, which says it all in the title. You’re presented with a series of hipster pictures, which you tap to punch. The game is little more than that, but maybe it’s just meant to be ironic.
In Rainbow Tissue Cat, you play Mr. Tibbles, a cat that shoots rainbows out of its backside. Mr. Tibbles has to protect the castle from an army of woodpeckers, which he reaches by bouncing on piles of toilet paper. What more do you really need in life?
Mixing biofuels in with jet fuels from fossil sources reduces particle emissions by 50 to 70 percent, a new study reports. The findingoffers hope for tackling one of the most intransigent aspects of global warming.
Flying is a very climate-unfriendly way to get around. That’s not just because it requires a lot of fuel to defy gravity, but because existing aircraft engines release aerosols, which contribute to cloud formation. Clouds can either warm or cool the planet depending on their height and density, but unfortunately the consequences of airplane aerosols are almost entirely in the wrong direction, producing just the sort of clouds we don’t want. Ironically, these aerosols also, under certain weather conditions, produce the contrails that inspire bizarre conspiracy theories.
Changing the fuel mix could reduce aerosol production in flight, soa team led by Dr Richard Moore of NASA’s Langley Research Center set out to test a comparison between widely used Jet A fuel, a low-sulfur version, and a 50:50 mix of low-sulfur Jet A and a biofuel made from Camelina oil.
Working out how many aerosols are emitted is no easy task, but by having research aircraft trailing 30-150 meters (100-500 feet) behind a test DC8 plane while flying at heights around 10,000 meters (33,000 feet), Moore detected a dramatic drop in aerosol release, at least when cruising at constant velocity.
The findings have been published in Nature, where the authors describe the effects of switching between fuel tanks loaded with different fuel mixtures, allowing them to eliminate any differences based on engine. Nitrogen oxides aside, all aerosol types were reduced, often dramatically.
The aerosol reduction is attributed to the near total absence of sulfur and aromatics in aviation biofuels.
Air travel represents about 5 percent of humanitys contribution to cooking the planet, but that’s expected to grow. Most of the bigger ways we are changing the climate represent political rather than technical problems. We know how to drastically reduce carbon dioxide from the electricity sector, for example, however doing it is a matter of will. Stopping the destruction of tropical rainforests would be even easier if the desire was there.
On the other hand, flightis a rapidly growing industry as the world becomes more connected. Although more efficient engines can offer some reduction, biofuels are one of the few options to make the sort of changes that are needed without seriously affecting modern lifestyles.
Biofuels for land-based transport have generally failed to live up to their hype, sometimes releasing more carbon dioxide in their production than they offset. If Moore’s work holds up, however, the story could be very different for aircraft, and biofuel production could be an industry set for take-off.