A 23rd-century tourist guide to the galaxy The top layers of the archive disc can be viewed with an optical microscope. Arch Mission Foundation/Bruce Ha On Thursday night, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried an Israeli-made spacecraft named Beresheet beyond the grasp of Earth’s gravity and sent it on its way to the surface of the moon. On board Beresheet is a specially designed disc encoded with a 30-million-page archive of human civilization built to last billions of years into the future. The backup for humanity has been dubbed “The Lunar Library” by its creator, the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF). “The idea is to place enough backups in enough places around the solar system, on an ongoing basis, that our precious knowledge and biological heritage can never be lost,” the nonprofit’s co-founder Nova Spivack told me via email.The AMF also placed a small test archive on Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster that was launched in the direction of Mars aboard the first Falcon Heavy demonstration mission last year. That archive consisted of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy encoded in a disc made of quartz silica glass made to last millions of years as the Roadster orbits the sun. The AMF has also placed a solid-state copy of Wikipedia on board a cubesat from SpaceChain in low-Earth orbit.The little lander Beresheet hopes to make history in multiple ways this year. SpaceIL Part of the motivation for the far-out project is to leave a copy of humanity’s knowledge not just in the cloud, but far beyond the clouds, should the impacts of climate change or a potential nuclear war do us or the planet in at some point in the future. “While I am optimistic that humanity will rise to the challenge and develop a multinational planetary defense initiative to mitigate these planetary risks, it is also prudent to have a plan B,” Spivack said. “Instead of one backup in one place our strategy is ‘many copies, many places’ — and we plan to send updates on a regular basis.”The AMF has already signed on to an additional planned moon mission, with startup Astrobotic, to send another Lunar Library installment to the moon in the next few years. There are also plans in the works to send archives to Mars, LaGrange points around Earth and deep underground caves on our planet. “The interplanetary network of backup locations we have started may even help to enable an interplanetary Internet. As we become a spacefaring civilization, we are going to need ways to move big data around the solar system, and protect it in transit, and at each location,” Spivack said. 17 Photos Tags Share your voice Sci-Tech 8 Space Comments The disc aboard Beresheet is about the size and thickness of a DVD, but consists of 25 stacked thin nickel films that AMF insists can resist radiation, extreme temperatures and other harsh conditions found in space for billions of years. There is, of course, no way to test how long it will last, but if it survives as long as hoped, the disc may even be around longer than the moon itself. The top four layers are actually filled with 60,000 pages of tiny analog images that can be viewed with optical microscope technology that’s been around for centuries. The images include a sort of users’ guide explaining human language, the contents of the disc and how to access the deeper layers containing compressed digital data. The digitized layers include a full copy of Wikipedia, more than 25,000 books and data for understanding over 5,000 languages. But if humans — or perhaps someone else — is ever going to get a chance to use the Lunar Library, it has to first get to the surface of the moon. Beresheet is now just beginning a long, complicated journey that will involve a handful of swings around Earth to increase the size of its orbit before jumping into orbit around the moon and eventually attempting a landing.The first window of opportunity to land comes on April 11. So if all works out, Wikipedia will touch down on the moon almost exactly 50 years after man first showed up there. Any aliens who come across it in the future will surely be baffled by a few choice entries, like “moon-landing conspiracy theories,” “flat Earth” or “Tide pod challenge.” But at least they’ll help illustrate why we needed a backup.
It’s often believed that men in uniform have nerves of steel. Does that imply that they aren’t flesh and blood like the rest of us? Rajub Bhowmik might serve as the Critical Response Command at Counter-Terrorism Bureau of the New York City Police Department, but there is also a literary side to him. A man known for dabbling in multiple profiles, he is quite the brooding romantic when not in the midst of an investigation scene. His interactions and experiences with human nature reflect through his literary works. His poems often center around emotions such as love, pain, belonging, and hope.Bhowmik’s most notable contributions to the world of literature and fiction are the Ayna Sonnets or the mirror sonnets. For the uninitiated, Ayna Sonnets comprise of compositions consisting of fourteen lines, inclusive of three stanzas of four lines each and lastly, summarized by a couplet in the end. The origin of the Bengali sonnet writing traces back to Michael MS Dutt during the 19th century, who is considered as one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature and the father of Bengali sonnets. During his stay in Versailles, he composed a sonnet in honor of the 16th-century poet Dante Alighieri, which was translated into French and Italian, and then sent to the king of Italy. The likes of Rabindra Nath Tagore and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, noted Indian freedom writers, have taken the tradition forward in their works too.Bhowmik took to poetry as a teenager. Poetry helped him express his experiences and feelings with others. Some of his most noted sonnets include, Noyoner Asha (Hope in the eyes) Medillin Colombia, Protibondhi Shishu (Handicapped Children), Sobi Hobe Por (Nothing will last), Bristi o Shokhir Vabona (Rain and Thoughts of Her), Budo Kamne Hobo (How will I get old) and Shohile Valobasha (Tolerable Love). In 2018, he released the Satantra Chaturdospodi Kobitaguli, a collection of 56 sonnets covering a wide range of themes such as love, passion, life, travel, ethics, eternal life, and hope.Through his life and work, the sole objective of Bhowmik is to serve and save people. His academic credentials are quite a handful. A graduate in intelligence studies with a specialization in criminal intelligence, he majored in Psychology, Curriculum and Instruction, and Journalism. He has also acquired doctorates in Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Business Administration and Education in Leadership. Married and a father to a two-year-old daughter, he is credited with having written over 20 books, including research books, poetry books, romantic novels, and thrillers. His books on Delinquent Behavior and Criminology and Abnormal Psychology currently serve as textbooks at the John Jay College and the Hostos College of the City University of New York.IBT does not endorse any of the above content.
Patrick Semansky | AP via NPRTechnicians set up the stage for the Sept. 26 debate between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.By Tania Lombrozo*The first of three debates between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will take place tonight.Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016The debates, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, have the stated mission of offering “the best possible information to viewers and listeners” in the lead-up to the general election.There’s just one problem.Decades of research suggests that voting decisions are influenced by quite a few factors beyond the “best possible information.” For instance, people’s perceptions of politicians can be influenced by their height: Taller men are, on average, perceived to be more competent. Using data from past U.S. presidential elections, one analysis found that candidates who were taller than their opponents received more popular votes and were more likely to be re-elected. (They were not, however, more likely to win initial elections.)Sensitive to the influence of height, some debates have allowed a sort of prosthetic: In the 1976 debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, lectern heights were selected such that neither candidate would appear taller than his opponent. For this year’s debates, the commission has apparently allowed for a custom-made podium that will accommodate the candidates’ difference in stature.As viewers or listeners, most of us won’t have a say in podium heights — let alone the structure of the debates or the questions posed to candidates. We can, however, take other measures to help ourselves overcome some of the biases that could distort our perceptions of the candidates and the debates. Consider these cognitive correctives — five tips from the psychological sciences for watching a debate without (quite as much) bias:1. On Election Day, our opinion of how each candidate performed in the debates won’t be shaped directly by what they said or did, but by our memories and impressions of what they said or did. And memory is a funny thing. We tend to remember what came first and last better than the bits in the middle, and our overall impression is especially influenced by an event’s peak (the point of maximum intensity or salience) and its end. Subsequent media coverage is likely to exaggerate these existing tendencies by focusing on a small number of “peak” points. But a lot of the less salient middle will undoubtedly contain important information about each candidate’s adequacy for the job.Tip No. 1 is not to reduce the debate to its sound bites, neither those the media provide us with nor the ones our own memories tend to produce.2. Political issues can be pretty complex, yet we often think we understand them better than we do. Trying to explain them, it turns out, can be a valuable corrective, helping us appreciate that we don’t know what we thought we did. For instance, many people have opinions about issues like cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions, but don’t actually understand what they are or what their implications would be.When it comes to evaluating each candidate’s policies, solid understanding is an important prerequisite to clear judgment.Tip No. 2 is to help yourself overcome illusions of political understanding by explaining a given issue or policy to someone else — or even to yourself. The next step is to become better informed, so you know what your vote will really be supporting.3. Stereotypes about men and women can inadvertently affect the way we perceive individuals. For instance, several studies have found that women are judged differently than men for exhibiting the same behaviors. What is taken as a sign of competence and leadership for a man might be judged overly aggressive or blunt for a woman. At the same time, conforming to more nurturing female stereotypes can make a woman better liked, but deemed less fit for a position of authority. Biases about men and woman can be subtle. They can manifest even in those who hold explicitly egalitarian views, and women can exhibit them to the same degree as men.Unfortunately, gender bias isn’t like height: There’s no simple corrective to counteract gender bias in our evaluations of political candidates. However, there’s reason to believe such biases play a greater role when we consider general impressions in an unstructured way. If we judge Clinton and Trump by the first debate examples that come to mind, for example, there’s plenty of room for nonconscious processes to influence what we come up with. If we instead engage in more structured recall — by, for instance, comparing what was good and bad about each candidate’s performance, or by comparing what each proposed with regard to a particular issue and evaluating the proposals along predefined dimensions — we can potentially help mitigate the influence of gender-based biases.Tip No. 3 is to recognize your gender bias. This isn’t always easy to do, but evaluating the candidates in more structured and concrete ways is a strategy worth trying out.4. There’s lots of evidence that all else being equal, we judge confident people more competent and reliable. For instance, we’re more likely to believe the testimony of a confident eyewitness, even though the correlation between confidence and accuracy can be low. Research in domains including medicine, geopolitics and finance has also found that expert confidence can be a very poor guide to accuracy.Both presidential candidates are likely to appear confident in the debates. But both their absolute and relative levels of confidence shouldn’t be treated as good evidence for the quality of their arguments or the viability of their policies.Tip No. 4 is to go with content over confidence.5. The final tip comes from a large body of research on a phenomenon called confirmation bias. In many contexts, we selectively expose ourselves to observations that will support what we believe. If liberals follow only liberal debate commentary and conservatives follow only conservative debate commentary, no one is likely to end up with a full understanding of what transpired. Beyond selective exposure is a phenomenon known as biased assimilation: A Democrat and a Republican exposed to the same evidence might respond in very different ways. For instance, people tend to be less critical of arguments that support conclusions they endorse, and they correspondingly subject arguments that yield opposing conclusions to greater scrutiny.Tip No. 5 is to be nonpartisan in your debate-related media consumption and to be extra critical of the arguments supporting positions you favor. Doing so will help ensure that you’re evaluating the candidates on their merits — and not simply reinforcing what you already believe.*Tania Lombrozo is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes about psychology, cognitive science and philosophy, with occasional forays into parenting and veganism. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozoCopyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Share
A brief video released by NASA on Thursday night shows Hurricane Harvey’s churning toward central Texas, where it is projected to make landfall in between Friday night and Saturday morning.Cameras aboard the International Space Station recorded the footage on Thursday evening. Share
Kolkata: West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi has convened a meeting of major political parties on Thursday in view of the ongoing post-poll violence in the state, sources in the Raj Bhavan said. Tripathi has sent a letter to all prominent political parties in Bengal, urging them to attend the all-party meet at 4 pm at Raj Bhavan, they said. Welcoming the move, West Bengal BJP unit president Dilip Ghosh said the state government should have taken the initiative. “We welcome the decision. We have received Tripathi’s letter. We would be attending tomorrow’s meeting,” he told PTI. The Trinamool Congress leadership, however, said it was yet to receive any letter. “Once we receive the letter, we would take a call on it,” said a senior TMC leader.