4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

Nanotechnology Creates Hope for Cheap Desalination Process

It may be that the two major challenges to humanity’s future both involve water. When it comes to climate change, melting glaciers and sea level rise, it’s a problem of too much. When it comes to safe drinking water, it’s a problem of not enough. But some new desalination research may help solve the drinking water challenge. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

New Technology Helps Search Teams Find People in Wilderness

Yesenia D’Alessandro loaded a GPS tracking app on her cellphone and trudged into a remote Hawaii forest, joining more than 100 other volunteers looking for a missing hiker.
 
She climbed through muddy ravines, crossed streams and faced steep drop-offs in the thick tangle of trees and ferns where her college friend Amanda Eller vanished last month.
 
“You have to search everywhere,” said D’Alessandro, who flew in from Maryland. “You have to go down to that stream bed, even though you don’t want to. She could be down there.”
 
D’Alessandro and others gathered GPS data of the ground they covered, and organizers put it on a specialized digital map to help better understand where to look next.
 
The technology led volunteers to Eller, who was found next to a waterfall and survived for 17 days in the Maui forest by eating plants and drinking stream water. Her dramatic rescue shows how emerging technology helps search teams more efficiently scour the wilderness for missing people.
 
“It kind of led us to search outside of that high-priority area to where we actually found Amanda,” her father, John Eller, said.
 
More U.S. teams are turning to the technology that combines cellphone GPS with digital maps detailing cliffs, caves, waterways and other hard-to-search terrain. It helps manage the work of large numbers of volunteers.
 
The system showed when Hawaii searchers had covered a 2-mile (3-kilometer) radius around Eller’s car. After that, searchers sent a helicopter farther into the forest, where they spotted the 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor.
 
“We never would have pushed out if we hadn’t searched the reasonable area first. There’s no reason to start reaching further and further out of the box if we hadn’t completely searched the box,” said Chris Berquist, a volunteer search leader.  
 
David Kovar, advocacy director for the nonprofit National Association for Search and Rescue, said most search and rescue teams use digital maps. That could mean anything from basic Google Maps to specialized software called SARTopo, which California search and rescue experts used to advise Maui volunteers from afar.
 
Search organizers in Hawaii asked volunteers to download a $3.99 app called GPS Tracks, which draws lines on a map showing where a user has walked.
 
GPS data revealed that searchers were covering the same areas repeatedly as heavy foliage or natural barriers like cliffs blocked their path, Berquist said. Organizers started dropping digital pins on volunteers’ maps to give them targets, pushing volunteers to cover more ground and making the search more accurate.
 
When searchers ran into cliffs or pools of water, Berquist had them place digital pins on their maps. Organizers then sent drone pilots or rappelling experts to the cliffs and divers to the water.
 
Organizers fed the GPS data to the California team, which used SARTopo to overlay it on topographical maps, allowing everyone to see what areas had already been searched and what still needed to be checked.
 
Matt Jacobs, a California software engineer and search volunteer, developed SARTopo more than eight years ago after noticing teams struggling to match details on wilderness maps drawn by different agencies.
 
What started as a hobby project has grown in popularity in the past couple of years to become Jacobs’ full-time job. Search and rescue teams from Oregon to North Carolina have started using it.
 
Searchers used it in March as 100 volunteers fanned out in a Northern California forest, eventually finding 8-year-old Leia Carrico and her 5-year-old sister, Caroline, who got lost near their home.
 
Last month, teams used it to help locate a 67-year-old hiker who had veered off a trail in a state park north of San Francisco. A California Highway Patrol airplane using an infrared camera spotted the man.
 
SARTopo also is becoming available as a cellphone app, which will make it even easier to directly connect the GPS data with digital maps so searchers can view them wherever they are.
 
Government officials are looking at adopting new technology, including in Hawaii. Most large searches are done by volunteers because many places don’t do enough of them to keep official teams on staff.
 
Maui firefighters used hand-drawn maps as they looked for Eller over the first three days of her going missing. That’s because the trail system in the Makawao Forest Reserve where she got lost doesn’t appear on Google Maps. County officials also overlaid aerial searches onto a satellite map.
 
Yatsushiro said the Maui Fire Department would adopt similar technology used by volunteers — who kept the search going after the first three days — if firefighters found it helpful after studying available options.
 
Mike St. John, volunteer leader of the search and rescue unit at the Marin County Sheriff’s Office in California, said GPS tracking of where people have looked is “really critical.”
 
“It’s about using GPS maps and utilizing GPS to make sure you’re hitting your assignment,” said St. John, who was among those in California advising the Maui team.
 
St. John said his search and rescue experts are not set up to offer the same type of help to others that they gave to Maui but are trying to figure out how to do that in the future.
 
Berquist, the Hawaii search leader, visited California this week to talk with St. John about how Marin County’s volunteer program works. He aims to set up something similar back in Maui.
 
After technology helped find Eller, her father is donating software and other equipment to Berquist’s team, developing a search and rescue app and giving $10,000 to support Hawaii searches and rescues.
 
“We saw a huge need. And we feel so lucky with everything everybody did for us, so we’re looking to give back,” John Eller said.

4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

Senior Facebook Executive Says it Would Favor Regulation

A senior Facebook executive says the social media site is in favor of regulation to address some of the dark problems of the internet.
 
Nick Clegg, the former leader of the U.K. Liberal Democrat party who now heads global affairs for Facebook, says it is not for private companies'' to decide how to balance free speech versus public harm.
 
Clegg told the BBC on Monday that companies like Facebook are not
shunning” government intervention but advocating a sensible way'' forward in addressing issues such as cyberbullying or fake news.
 
Lawmakers have been pushing tech companies to take down offensive content more quickly and to do more in general to halt internet harm. But Clegg says it is up to
democratic politicians in the democratic world” to set the rules.
   

4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

50 Years Later, the Moon is Still Great for Business

Fifty years after humans first visited, businesses are still trying to make a buck off the moon.
 
Hundreds of millions of people were riveted when Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Naturally, marketers jumped at the chance to sell products from cars and televisions, to cereal and a once-obscure powdered drink called Tang.
 
They are at it again in 2019, as the 50th anniversary of the giant leap for mankind approaches.
 
There’s the cosmically priced $34,600 limited edition Omega Speedmaster, a tribute to the watch that Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon. And the more down-to-Earth Budweiser Discovery Reserve, which revives a recipe from the 1960s and features 11 symbolic stars in the packaging.
 
There’s the playful NASA Apollo 11 lunar lander set from Lego. And Nabisco’s indulgent purple Marshmallow Moon Oreo cookies. And who doesn’t need one small step'' t-shirts, Saturn V crew socks or an Apollo 11 travel tumbler?
 
But seriously, some brands take genuine pride at having been part of the first moon landing.This July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA shows pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module. For the 50th anniversary of the landing, Omega issued a limited edition Speedmaster watch.Omega Speedmaster watches have been an icon of space travel since NASA chose them for its manned missions in 1965 after other watches failed tests. In 1970, the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission used a Speedmaster to time a 14-second engine burn to align themselves for re-entry to Earth.
 
It continues to be an important tool to have. You have to look only to the Apollo 13 mission,” said James Ragan, a retired NASA aerospace engineer who tested the watches in the 1960s.
 
Omega’s gold Speedmaster is a version of the watches the company presented to astronauts at a gala dinner in 1969. A relatively more modest $9,650 stainless steel timepiece features a laser-engraved image of Aldrin descending from the lunar lander.
 
Then, there are the anti-gravity Fisher Space Pens, developed specially for the Apollo missions. For luxury space enthusiasts, Fisher Space Pen Co. has a $700 limited edition pen with authenticated materials from the Apollo 11 space craft.
 
Back in 1969, both Omega and Fisher Space Pen Co. were quick to promote their Apollo 11 connections with media and advertising campaigns, as were NASA contractors like Boeing and General Electric.
 
Stouffer’s made sure consumers knew it provided food for Apollo 11 astronauts once they were back on Earth, launching the ad campaign Everybody who's been to the moon is eating Stouffer's.'' Fifty years later, the Nestle-owned brand is celebrating with a media campaign to share some of the recipes from 1969.
 
But brands with no direct Apollo connections were not about to sit out an event that nearly every U.S. household with a television watched.
 
In 1969, Zippo released a lighter saluting the Apollo 11 mission and its astronauts. A half-century later, Zippo has sold out of the 14,000 limited edition lighters released in tribute to the anniversary, priced at $100 each.
 
Krispy Kreme, which says it served doughnuts to witnesses at the Apollo 11 launch, conjured up a new treat _ filling its classic glazed doughnuts with cream _ in honor of the anniversary.
 
If many of the tributes have a vintage feel, it might be because public interest in space exploration has ebbed and flowed over the years, with no single event capturing the global euphoria of the first moon landing, and the Apollo program ending in 1972.
 
Since 1972, human space travel has been dead boring. We’ve gone around and around and around the Earth a whole bunch of times, and that is not interesting to people,” said David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist and co-author of the book Marketing the Moon,'' which chronicles the public relations efforts that went into the Apollo 11 mission.
 
Still, Scott said the 50th anniversary comes amid renewed interest, with NASA's plans to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and to Mars in the 2030s.
 
Indeed, Lego conceived its lunar lander as a grown-up display set, part of its Creator Expert series aimed at adults. For kids, born to parents who themselves who have never known a world without space travel, the Danish toy company is releasing six new Lego City Mars exploration sets, designed in collaboration with NASA with futuristic rockets that would take humans to the red planet.
 
It’s about giving kids something aspirational, where they can see themselves, versus trying to project them into a historical moment,” said Michael McNally, senior director of brand relations at Lego.
 
 Budweiser, similarly, has declared its ambition to be the first beer on Mars, participating in barley-growing experiments on the International Space Station. Still, the Anheuser-Busch brand saw marketing potential in evoking the patriotism that the Apollo 11 mission stirred in Americans during politically polarized times.
 
Beer at its core is a very democratic drink. It brings people together,'' said Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch.We like in particular to remind people of everything that is good and everything we shouldn’t forget.”
 
After all, watching the first moon landing was a personal experience for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
 
That was thanks to TV — a connection Samsung has seized for its media campaign promoting its QLED 8K TV, tied to CNN’s Apollo 11 documentary.  

4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

US-China Trade Dispute Triggering Production Exodus

U.S. tech giant Apple has reportedly asked its major suppliers, mainly China-based manufacturers from Taiwan, to consider moving 15 to 30% of their production outside of China to avoid higher tariffs imposed on U.S.-bound exports.The production migration, which analysts say is already ongoing, will hurt the tech giant’s profit margin, but also lead to massive job losses in China.They add that such shifts have also occurred over the past year among other China-based tech suppliers and the trend will continue if the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies keeps escalating.“Over the past year, to my understanding, manufacturers in the information [technology] sector, for example, [China-based Taiwanese] suppliers of personal computers or consumer electronics have moved faster than handset makers and relocated [part of] their assembly lines outside China,” says Sean Kao, senior research manager at IDC Taiwan on worldwide hardware assembly research.Caught in the CrossfireTech companies such as Apple are caught in the crossfire of U.S.-China trade frictions and face the threat of heavy punitive taxes on their China-made, U.S.-bound products.Earlier this month, U.S. President Trump said he would decide whether to slap Beijing with further tariffs on another US $300 billion worth of Chinese goods after he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at G-20 later this week.Citing anonymous sources, the Nikkei Asian Review reported last week that Apple is planning on production shifts to avert the threat. According to the report, Apple has asked its major iPhone assemblers including Foxconn Technology, Pegatron and Wistron to evaluate the cost of moving their assembly lines, which manufacture U.S.-bound iPhones in China, to other southeastern Asian countries.A woman uses her smartphone as she walks past a display for the Apple iPhone XR at a supermarket in Beijing, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Sending Wall Street into a slide, China announced higher tariffs Monday on $60 billion worth of American goods.Apple has not commented publicly on the report.Wistron and Foxconn have already made some headway, setting up factories respectively in Bangalore and Chennai, India. But Kao says those moves are more about tapping the Indian market.Foxconn chairman Terry Guo has also said that should the need arise to adjust production lines, his company already has enough capacity outside of China to meet Apple’s demand in the U.S. market.Pegatron is also readying itself to set up assembly lines in Indonesia, Kao added.Production DiversificationSuch diversification of production sites will give manufacturers the flexibility to assemble U.S.-bound iPhones outside China when necessary, says Liu Meng-chun, director of the Chung-Hua Institution of Economic Research’s (CIER) mainland China division in Taipei.Neighboring countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan are reaping benefits, he said.In the first five months of this year, for example, Taiwan’s U.S.-bound exports posted a 15% year-on-year growth. U.S. Census Bureau statistics showed that imports from Vietnam jumped 40.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019.China, on the other hand, is being hurt by the shift, he added.“The biggest and most significant impact is on China’s employment. There have been massive job losses and China is facing a problem of growing unemployment, even though authorities are not spelling it out clearly,” Liu said.China last week said its employment rate remains stable with the service sector contributing a larger share of the job market last year.According to government data, the urban jobless rate stayed steady at 5% in May, still below the annual target of around 5.5% set for 2019.Job losses?But fewer jobs and lower pay are already being felt by China’s export industries as factories are reportedly downsizing, cutting overtime hours and relocating overseas.That is expected to hurt China’s long-term goal to count on domestic consumption to boost the economy as the spending power of the nation’s 280 million migrant workers will feel the pinch.  In addition, the loss of American clients, who demand better-quality products, could mean that China’s export industries may be less motivated to move up the value chain as their local consumers are more price sensitive, Liu said.Kao says it’s still too early to tell.So far, only low-end assembly lines are being relocated overseas, he notes, adding that only when higher value-added production lines move will China see a bigger impact.Both analysts say that even if the cost of manufacturing has risen significantly, suppliers will only relocate overseas to places where problems of labor training, logistics issues and the clustering of supportive industries in that location have been addressed.  Even if the worst happens, China may still find opportunities. Top talent that may be laid off by U.S. companies that relocate, may jump ship to work for local companies and help boost local rivals’ innovation capability, Kao says. 

4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

Solar Refinery Shines Light on Clean Energy

The world may be moving toward renewable energy sources, but fossil fuels are still the fuel of choice for the transportation industry. Especially when it comes to moving big things like planes and cargo ships, it’s all about petroleum. But Swiss researchers are looking to at least make the creation of fuel a carbon neutral process.

4995875f79dfaeeaaadf6a70dc94b95d

Sources: US Struck Iranian Military Computers This Week

U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.Two officials told The Associated Press that the strikes were conducted with approval from Trump. A third official confirmed the broad outlines of the strike. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the operation.The cyberattacks, a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions, disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said. Two of the officials said the attacks, which specifically targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer system, were provided as options after two oil tankers were attacked earlier this month.The IRGC, which was designated a foreign terrorist group by the Trump administration earlier this year, is a branch of the Iranian military.The action by U.S. Cyber Command was a demonstration of the U.S.’s increasingly mature cyber military capabilities and its more aggressive cyber strategy under the Trump administration. Over the last year, U.S. officials have focused on persistently engaging with adversaries in cyberspace and undertaking more offensive operations.There was no immediate reaction Sunday morning in Iran to the U.S. claims. Iran has hardened and disconnected much of its infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to be a joint U.S.-Israeli creation, disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the late 2000s.Tensions have escalated between the two countries ever since the U.S. withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and began a policy of “maximum pressure.” Iran has since been hit by multiple rounds of sanctions. Tensions spiked this past week after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. drone, an incident that nearly led to a U.S. military strike against Iran on Thursday evening.The cyberattacks are the latest chapter in the U.S. and Iran’s ongoing cyber operations targeting the other. Yahoo News first reported the cyber strike.