Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Air Force has signed an enhanced use lease (EUL) with Gulf Power Co. to develop a 30-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy plant on a 240-acre parcel at Eglin AFB, Fla.The deal, part of the Air Force Community Partnership and Energy Program initiative, allows the utility and its developer to construct, own, operate and maintain the solar array. In return for use of the land, Gulf Power will make infrastructure upgrades promoting renewable energy or energy conservation at the installation over the lifespan of the 37-year lease. The financial consideration is valued at $1 million, according to a press release.“These important partnerships support our base and civic communities and efficiently use Air Force property to enable unfunded installation requirements that support our mission and sustainability,” said Jennifer Miller, deputy assistant secretary for installations.The power generated by the solar array will be delivered to a nearby Gulf Power substation and transmitted to the utility’s retail customers. The project will generate more than 60,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, according to the Air Force.The service is always searching for innovative ways to partner with the community, especially in the energy domain, said Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy.“This important partnership with Gulf Power helps us strengthen relationships with our local communities, and this particular EUL enhances our buying power for infrastructure while helping Gulf Power provide renewable energy for the community,” Ballentine said.“We are going to receive infrastructure upgrades that will be reinvested into our energy programs and improve our energy resiliency, which is, first and foremost, our highest focus area for facility energy,” she said.
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.
Infosys Co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan. REUTERS/Vijay MathurInfosys co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan on Tuesday said his priority is to get promoters and management working together as “one Infosys” and not operating in different pockets, according to a PTI report.The report said that Venkatesan’s comments assume significance in the wake of a recent public spat between some promoters and the top management of India’s second largest IT firm with a turnover of over $10 billion.Venkatesan said that bringing promoters and management together is “doable” and he spends four to five days in a week on this despite being only a non-executive co-chairman.”I agree, there is a lot of work to do… I tell people, I am a non-executive co-chairman, but when I think about this task of getting everybody working as one… I spend four to five days in a week,” he told PTI.Venkatesan was replying to a query that there must be a lot of work left for him to achieve the goal of “one Infosys”.He said that his priority would be to get the promoters and management working together, under one roof as “one Infosys”. If the company can create this spirit and feeling of oneness, everything will fall in place, Venkatesan said.Asked how big is the task to bring the board and founders together, Venkatesan said, “I don’t know how to measure oneness, but a lot of it is still left… Yes, but it is doable.”Asked if his quest to meet the goal of “one Infosys” will get hampered and cause alarm to CEO Vishal Sikka, going by founder N R Narayana Murthy’s comment on regretting quitting the company in 2014, Venkatesan said it won’t lead to fresh set of challenges, for Murthy was still incredibly passionate about Infosys and the company takes his positive suggestions on board. “Just because you have differences of views on compensation and other sundry issues, that doesn’t change the fundamentals. So, when a man like that speaks, we obviously pay a lot of attention to it and try and see what is the merit in the idea and embrace it. So, I would not put too much stock on these comments, but the question should be better addressed to him directly,” he said.Murthy has been vocal by raising the issue of corporate governance, questioning the severenace package given to former Infosys chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal and the pay hike of top executive personnel including CEO Vishal Sikka.Venkatesan said Sikka was Murthy’s pick and he drove a lot of positive changes in the first two years of his stint by talking about various new things but stressing mainly on employees’ innovative skills.”Sikka has completed three years, but for the first couple of years I think things were quite good. After all, Vishal was hired by Murthyji. He was his pick. Vishal drove a lot of positive changes. He said we must show – even Indians can innovate and every employee has to innovate. So, these ideas were appreciated by employees, clients, and also by Murthy, I believe,” he said.
(Top) Nazrul Islam Khan, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Abdul Awal Mintoo and Morshed Khan. (Bottom) Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, Mirza Abbas, Habibun-nabi Khan Sohel and Tabith Awal The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has now launched investigation into allegations of money laundering, amassing illegal wealth and suspicious bank transactions against eight BNP leaders.The anti-corruption watchdog has launched the investigation barely two months after a court sent the chief of country’s main opposition political party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and former prime minister Khaleda Zia to jail in a graft case filed by the ACC.Another case filed by ACC is pending against her. Besides, some 25 BNP leaders are facing graft cases filed by ACC. The BNP leaders against whom the ACC launched the investigation are: standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and Mirza Abbas, two vice chairmen Abdul Awal Mintoo and M Morshed Khan, joint secretary general and BNP’s Dhaka city’s south unit president Habibun-nabi Khan Sohel and Mintoo’s son and executive committee member Tabith Awal.ACC has also initiated investigation against Morshed Khan’s son Faisal Morshed Khan.ACC officials said the body entrusted one of its deputy directors, Shamsul Alam, with the investigation against the BNP.They said the ACC would send letters to banks concerned by this week, seeking information about the respective persons and would also ask the BNP leaders to submit their wealth statements.ACC officials said the organisation has launched the investigation after some media outlets, quoting intelligence sources, published news reports that “suspicious transactions” of as much as Tk 1.25 billon was made in 30 days’ time in the bank accounts of these BNP leaders.They said most of those whose bank account records show “unusual money withdrawal” are businessmen and the volume of transactions is not unusual either, but the withdrawal was made in cash which, ACC officials said, has created suspicions.The ACC would check if the money was spent other than on business purposes.ACC officials said allegations have it that Abdul Awal Mintoo withdrew some Tk 320 million on 11, 15 and 22 February and his son Tabith Awal withdrew some Tk 200 million in the same month.Morshed Khan withdrew Tk 180 million on 27 February while his son Faisal withdrew Tk 90 million on 26 February.It is alleged that some Tk 210 million was withdrawn from the bank account of Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain from 3 to 12 March and some of the money was withdrawn from outside Dhaka. ACC is also claiming that some Tk 160 million was withdrawn from the account of Mirza Abbas on 28 February and 4 March.It is also being alleged that Tk 70 million was withdrawn from the bank accounts of Nazrul Islam Khan and Habibun-nabi Khan Sohel at different times.BNP has all along been accusing the Anti-Corruption Commission of serving the interests of the ruling quarters.At a press conference on 21 March, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi alleged that ACC is like a one-eyed animal. BNP standing committee member Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain said, “The ACC has launched this investigation based on the reports published in some baseless online portals. How authentic are those reports? Neither me nor my family members have any account with that bank.”Terming the move purely political, he lamented that the ACC has chosen to turn a blind eye to people who have misappropriated millions, especially when the ministries and the Bangladesh Bank have proofs.Senior leader Nazrul Islam Khan said, “This is just another blueprint of the government to keep the active BNP leaders under pressure. The country knows why the ACC is after us when people who have institutionalised corruption are at large.””Such news was published on online portal Bangla Insider on 17 March. Everyone knows who are behind it. The ACC will now carry out an investigation based on that report. The involvement of constitutional bodies in such politicised acts is tarnishing their image, and that of the country as well,” said BNP vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo.No ACC official was available for a comment to this end. ACC spokesperson and secretary Shamsul Arefin’s phone did not receive a call despite repeated attempts. He did not reply to a text either.Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman said, “We hope the ACC will carry out their duties within their legal framework. If they prioritise political identity it will be a blow to their accountability.”