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Virgin boss readies himself for space
Sir Richard Branson says he's training to be an astronaut and will take his first trip into space soon. The 67-year-old multi-millionaire has been investing in commercial space travel since 2004, when he founded space tourism company Virgin Galactic. Sir Richard, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are now in a race to get fare-paying passengers into space. The British entrepreneur said: Elon is doing fantastically well getting cargo into space, and he's building bigger and bigger rockets.
New US tariffs a headache for foreign automakers
US President Donald Trump's threat to impose steep tariffs on auto imports will hit foreign automakers that export a large number of vehicles to the US market, but many also manufacture cars domestically. These automakers have invested billions of dollars in their US facilities. Honda is the sole foreign automaker manufacturing a large majority of its locally-sold cars in the United States.
Heightened debate in US as EU privacy rules take effect
Amid a global scramble to comply with new EU data protections laws, the debate on privacy has intensified in the United States with some calling for similar measures for Americans, and others warning the rules could fracture the global internet. Large US tech firms have pledged compliance with the EU rules, and have in many cases promised to extend the same protections worldwide. Some US activists argue that the implementation offers an opportunity to give more privacy and data protection benefits to Americans.
Hawaii volcano sends another ash cloud high into the air
Authorities say an eruption at the summit of a volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has sent an ash cloud about 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) into the air. Those living in communities southwest of the Kilauea volcano are warned that wind might carry ash their way after the eruption Thursday night. US Geological Survey geophysicist Mike Poland says small ash explosions are coming from the summit intermittently as lava keeps flowing into the ocean.
'Smart' gadgets: Ways to minimize privacy and security risks
Revelations that an Amazon Echo smart speaker inadvertently sent a family's private conversation to an acquaintance shows the risks that come with new technologies. Amazon blamed an unlikely string of events, and the company already has many privacy safeguards built into the device. Just remember to turn it back before you leave, or you defeat the point of having a security camera. The downside is that users are often unaware of all the things their gadgets can do, good or bad.
Straight Talk on Why Wrapping Paper Curls
A It's not just wrapping paper on rolls, but flat paper as well. They tend to curl for a series of reasons related to the structure of paper and the manufacturing process. The paper consists of layers of fiber, and so the top and bottom layers may absorb different amounts of moisture. The paper and printing industry, artists who use paper and museum conservators have all studied remedies for curling.
How a particle may stand still in rotating spacetime
In a new paper, physicists have shown that a particle with just the right properties may stand perfectly still in a rotating spacetime if it occupies a static orbit-a ring of points located a critical distance from the center of the rotating spacetime. Our work presents with extreme simplicity a long-ignored feature of certain spacetimes that is quite counterintuitive, Collodel told Phys.org.
Wolf-like animal shot in central Montana, DNA tests underway
A central Montana rancher shot a wolf-like animal after it was spotted in a pasture with livestock, but a closer look prompted state wildlife officials to take DNA samples to determine what type of animal it was. The animal was shot on May 16 near the town of Denton. Wolf management specialist Ty Smucker says the animal could be a wolf-dog hybrid.
White House has deal to lift sanctions on China's ZTE: report
The White House says it has reached a deal with Chinese telecoms giant ZTE that would lift crippling sanctions slapped on the company, The New York Times reported Friday. Alternatives On Thursday, Ross said that at Trump's request, his department was looking at alternatives to the harsh penalty he choose to impose. Top Republican and Democrat senators have denounced the compromise and one even vowed to block it.
Bayer's Monsanto takeover less lucrative than expected
German pharma and chemicals giant Bayer said Friday that savings from its hoped-for takeover of US seeds and pesticides behemoth Monsanto will be smaller than previously thought. The German firm needs to find some 44 billion euros in new cash-from borrowing and issuing new shares-to fund the $62.5-billion Monsanto takeover, German business daily Handelsblatt calculated Friday. It's manageable if the agrochemical division plus Monsanto turns into the promised cash machine, Handelsblatt judged.
Subtropical Storm Alberto forms ahead of hurricane season
Subtropical Storm Alberto formed in the Caribbean on Friday, giving an early kickoff to the Atlantic hurricane season one week ahead of schedule. Alberto formed about 55 miles south of Cozumel, off of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported. The storm is forecast to soak parts of Cuba and Florida on its way north towards the US Gulf Coast, according to an NHC forecast.
In S.Africa, a unique telescope link-up scans deep space
Scientists in South Africa on Friday launched the world's first optical telescope linked to a radio telescope, combining eyes and ears to try to unravel the secrets of the universe. The device forms part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the remote Karoo desert, which will be the world's most powerful radio telescope system. The latest move combines the new optical telescope MeerLITCH-Dutch for 'more light'-with the recently-completed 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, located 200 kilometres away.
OLEDs become brighter and more durable
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have matured enough to allow for first commercial products in form of small and large displays. In order to compete in further markets and even open new possibilities, OLEDs require further improvements in device lifetime while operating at their best possible efficiency. To achieve these results, the emission layers of the respective OLEDs were grown as ultrastable glasses-a growth condition that allows for thermodynamically most stable amorphous solids.
New materials, heated under high magnetic fields, could produce record levels of energy, model shows
Such energy-efficient scenarios may one day be possible with improvements in thermoelectric materials-which spontaneously produce electricity when one side of the material is heated. To date, most of these materials have yielded efficiencies that are too low for any widespread practical use. The material they model with this method is five times more efficient, and could potentially generate twice the amount of energy, as the best thermoelectric materials that exist today.
Biologist advocates ecological approach to improving human health
Western doctors generally ignore diet in chronic disease, even diseases of the gut, said Orr, inspired to do this research in part by his own health challenges. They do not overly encourage or support their patients to change their diet away from high fat and high sugar. Nineteenth-century research identified microbes as agents of disease and set the stage for 20th-century breakthroughs in antibiotic therapies, Orr said.
Phosphorus nutrition can hasten plant and microbe growth in arid, high elevation sites
Glacial retreat in cold, high-altitude ecosystems exposes environments that are extremely sensitive to phosphorus input, new University of Colorado Boulder-led research shows. The finding upends previous ecological assumptions, helps scientists understand plant and microbe responses to climate change and could expand scientists' understanding of the limits to life on Earth. Phosphorus allows microbes to react quickly and grow in these sites.
Scientists discover new magnetic element
A new experimental discovery, led by researchers at the University of Minnesota, demonstrates that the chemical element ruthenium (Ru) is the fourth single element to have unique magnetic properties at room temperature. The discovery could be used to improve sensors, devices in the computer memory and logic industry, or other devices using magnetic materials. This new study demonstrates that Ru can be the fourth single element ferromagnetic material by using ultra-thin films to force the ferromagnetic phase.
A new guide for explorers of the submicroscopic world inside us
The new protocols aim to help scientists in the field of X-ray crystallography avoid potential pitfalls that could inadvertently compromise their work. X-ray crystallography reveals things far smaller than a scientist using a traditional light microscope could ever hope to see. It works a bit like sonar-scientists bombard molecules with X-rays, then measure the angles as the X-rays bounce off, or diffract. It's a tremendously complex undertaking, of course, and there are many ways for it to go wrong.
Top nitrogen researchers imagine world beyond fossil fuels
Black gold has brought us unprecedented prosperity, but it's also polluted our environment, perhaps irreparably, and it's in finite supply. We need nitrogen to survive and we're swimming in a sea of it, but we can't get to it. Which is where fossil fuels entered the picture about a century ago. Our research on this process, which uses nanomaterials to capture light energy, demonstrates how sunlight or artificial light can power nitrogen fixation, Seefeldt says.

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