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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - December 2019

Dec 2019

Dec 31, 2019

Christina Breaks Women's Record for Longest Spaceflight

  • NASA astronaut Christina Koch set a new record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the record of 288 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. Koch still has six weeks to go before returning to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS).
  • When she arrives back on Earth in February 2020, the Expedition 61 Flight Engineer will have spent more than 300 days in space. Koch had earlier made history in her stay aboard the orbital laboratory. In October, she was part of the first all-female spacewalk.

Dec 30, 2019

Vivo to Introduce Earthquake Warning Feature in FunTouch OS 10

  • Xiao Zhuge, Project Manager for the Vivo FunTouch OS has revealed that the team is currently working on a new weather-related feature 'earthquake warning' to the latest version of its existing FunTouch custom UI, dubbed FunTouch OS 10.
  • He also revealed that the feature is currently under development and will undergo internal testing at the company in a couple of weeks.
  • This new feature is similar to the earthquake warning feature that Xiaomi rolled out with its latest MIUI 11 custom user interface.
  • As per report, Xiaomi had said that the smartphones running MIUI 11 as well as Mi TVs could be notified "seconds to tens of seconds" before the earthquake hits the place.

As Robots, AI Take Over Warehousing, Amazon Workers Pushed to Adapt

  • Guess who's getting used to working with robots in their everyday lives? The very same warehouse workers once predicted to be losing their jobs to mechanical replacements .
  • But doing your job side-by-side with robots isn't easy. According to their makers, the machines should take on the most mundane and physically strenuous tasks. In reality, they're also creating new forms of stress and strain in the form of injuries and the unease of working in close quarters with mobile half-ton devices that direct themselves.
  • "They weigh a lot," Amazon worker Amanda Taillon said during the pre-Christmas rush at a company warehouse in Connecticut. Nearby, a fleet of 6-foot-tall roving robot shelves zipped around behind a chain-link fence.
  • Taillon's job is to enter a cage and tame Amazon's wheeled warehouse robots for long enough to pick up a fallen toy or relieve a traffic jam. She straps on a light-up utility belt that works like a superhero's force field, commanding the nearest robots to abruptly halt and the others to slow down or adjust their routes.

ISRO is Planning to Launch Satellite Aditya to Study Sun

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said tnhat ISRO is planning to launch a satellite called Aditya to study the sun. In his 'Mann ki Baat' programme of AIR, Mr Modi said, India is quite advanced in the field of astronomy and ISRO has taken path-breaking initiatives in this field.
  • The Prime Minister said that India has many powerful telescopes around the country including a giant meter-wave telescope near Pune and other powerful telescopes located in Kodaikkaanal, Udagamandala, Guru Shikhar and Hanle Ladakh.

Dec 29, 2019

NASA Unveils Rover for Mars Mission

  • The Mars 2020 rover, which sets off for the Red Planet next year, will not only search for traces of ancient life, but pave the way for future human missions. The rover has been constructed in a large, sterile room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, near Los Angeles. Shown to invited journalists, the rover is scheduled to leave Earth in July 2020 from Florida's Cape Canaveral.

Dec 26, 2019

Researchers Develop AI to Curb Hate Speech Online

  • As online hate speech is increasingly threatening democracy, researchers are developing artificial intelligence similar to malware filters to 'quarantine' it, offering users a way to control exposure to it without resorting to censorship.
  • They are using databases of threats and violent insults to build algorithms that can provide a score for the likelihood of an online message containing forms of hate speech. As these algorithms get refined, potential hate speech could be identified and 'quarantined'.
  • Users would receive a warning alert with a 'Hate O'Meter' – the hate speech severity score – the sender's name, and an option to view the content or delete unseen, akin to spam and malware.
  • Hate speech is a form of intentional online harm, like malware, and can therefore be handled by means of quarantining.

Dec 23, 2019

Boeing Astronaut Starliner Capsule Lands after Incomplete Mission

  • Boeing Astronaut Starliner Capsule landed in New Mexico's White Sands testing range, using parachutes and airbags to make a soft touchdown on desert terrain.
  • It marked the first US land-landing for this type vehicle. Past crewed capsules have always made splashdowns in the ocean.
  • Boeing and the US space agency (NASA) must now review the truncated mission before deciding when to allow crew to fly aboard future Starliners.
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