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California: Radio signal coming from stellar system HD 164595 may be a sign of intelligent extraterrestrial life

The signals were coming from the Hercules constellation and based on the power of the signals and their frequency

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Radio telescopes of the Allen Telescope Array are seen in Hat Creek, Calif. Image source: VOA

September 3, 2016: Let’s imagine having to point out to a close friend they hadn’t actually won the lottery. You’d probably feel almost as bad as they would.

Well, that’s where we are.

Big news

Earlier this week, the web was aflutter with news that radio astronomers in Russia had picked up ‘surprisingly strong’ radio signals coming from a star cluster about 94 light years away.

The signals were coming from the Hercules constellation, and based on the power of the signals and their frequency, the buzz was that this be a message from really, really advanced aliens. Excited stargazers began throwing around phrases like “this could be a type II civilisation” and other such SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) arcana.

For clarity’s sake, civilisations can be classified by something called the Kardashev scale. It was created by an astronomer named — you guessed it — Kardashev, as a way to gauge the technological advancement of any civilisation.

Humans are almost a type I civilisation. That means we can store and use energy from our sun but still use fossil fuels. We’ll be classified as a fully type I when we go completely to renewable power.

A type II civilisation is one that can fully harness all the energy of their sun. That’s way beyond us, and since we’ve never found anyone else out in space, the Kardashev scale isn’t much more than a fun thought exercise. But it’s important in times like these because the strength of this mystery signal suggested an energy output on a stellar scale, far beyond us oil burners here on earth. That’s really cool, and a bit scary.

Bad news

And then, the Russians stepped forward and very thoughtlessly ruined everyone’s fun.

The news is a bit buried in a press release from the Russian Academy of Sciences. “…an interesting radio signal at a wavelength of 2.7 cm was detected in the direction of one of the objects (star system HD164595 in Hercules) in 2015,” it stated. So far so good.

And then this: “Subsequent processing and analysis of the signal revealed its most probable terrestrial origin.”

Darn!

Turns out that “terrestrial” likely means a Russian military satellite that no one knew or realised was out there.

The Russian News Agency TASS spoke with Alexander Ipatov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences. “We, indeed, discovered an unusual signal,” he told TASS. “However, an additional check showed that it was emanating from a Soviet military satellite, which had not been entered into any of the catalogues of celestial bodies.”

So much for winning the lottery. (VOA)

 

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California Becomes the first US State to allow Gender-neutral Birth Certificates

The so-called "nonbinary" gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more "genders."

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The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents. Pixabay

California, October 17, 2017 : California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a state senate bill, allowing a gender-neutral marker on birth certificates and driver’s licenses starting from 2019.

California thus became the first state in the US to allow a “nonbinary” gender to be marked on birth certificates, Xinhua news agency reported.

The so-called “nonbinary” gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more “genders.”

According to the Gender Recognition Act approved on Sunday, California will offer a gender-neutral option on state documents for those who are transgender, intersex and others who are not identified as male or female.

ALSO READ Finding their place in the world; Oxford Dictionary to include honorific Mx for transgenders

The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents.

“Existing law authorises a person who was born in this state and who has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition to obtain a new birth certificate from the State Registrar,” the bill read.

The Golden State is now also the second state in the US to allow residents to be identified by a gender marker other than “F” or “M” on their driver’s license.

Oregon and the District of Columbia had earlier issued the gender-neutral option on their driver’s licenses.

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Apple Has Shut Down Iranian Mobile Apps: Iran Media Report

Apple is not officially in Iran or any other Persian Gulf countries, but many Iranians purchase its products from stores inside Iran

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An Iranian woman tries out an iPhone in an electronics shop selling Apple products in Tehran, Iran. VOA
  • Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store
  • Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers
  • Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed

Tehran, August 26, 2017: Iranian media is reporting that Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store.

In reaction to the decision, Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers. He also sent out this tweet:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also Read: How Iran protects itself from the Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Attacks? Read it here!

Jahromi tweeted: “11 percent of Iran’s mobile phone market share is owned by Apple. Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed. We will follow up the cutting of the apps legally.”

Apple is not officially in Iran or any other Persian Gulf countries, but many Iranians purchase its products from stores inside Iran. (VOA)

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Cambodian Girls compete in a Mobile App Competition, Pushes Boundaries for Women in Technology

Cambodian girl coders achieve recognition at a Global Competition

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The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters
The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters. VOA
  • We want to increase employment for Cambodians
  • In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women

A group of Cambodian girls who recently traveled to California to compete in a mobile app competition offered inspiration for other girls worldwide to consider careers in technology.

Their pitch in Silicon Valley wasn’t a bid to be the next billion-dollar company. Instead, they want to help their country with a mobile phone application to address poverty.

“Let’s fight poverty by using our app. Don’t find customers for your product, find products for your customers,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng, 12, who led the team that created the app, Cambodian Identity Product.

“We want to increase employment for Cambodians, so there will be a reduction of Cambodian migrants to work in other countries, reducing poverty through making income and providing charity to local Cambodians,” Chea Sopheata, 11, told the judges at Google’s headquarters. Google was one of the program’s sponsors.

To participate in the Aug. 7-11 Technovation global competition, girls around the world had to build a mobile app — and a business plan — that addressed a U.N. development goal. The Cambodian girls picked poverty.

While globalization has boosted the economic growth of Cambodia, especially its tourism industry, it has also created greater economic inequality and competition. The girls think their app can help.

“We want to promote our culture to people from all over the world,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng.

At their young age, no one expects these girls to be able to solve their country’s most pressing issues quite yet. But their presence here highlighted another issue: girls in tech fields.

In the U.S. and worldwide, the number of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) remains low and has even dropped.

In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women as of 2010. It’s a situation some attribute to a lack of equal access to education and a lack of female role models.

It’s hoped that programs like Technovation can reverse that trend.

“For the first time in history, technology can really help girls have a strong voice and help us have a society that has equality,” said Tara Chklovski, founder, and CEO of Iridescent, the nonprofit organization behind Technovation.

These young Cambodian girls have proved how far they can go with technology. Most come from underprivileged backgrounds but had support from teachers, mentors, and family.

Cambodian American Pauline Seng, a program manager at Google, said the young coders have become role models for many other Cambodians, including herself. She didn’t get into technology until she was 23.

“There’s going to be so many people who aspire to reach this stage and also inspire other people to get involved in technology,” she said.

Although the Cambodian girls did not win the grand prize, which went to a team from Hong Kong, they were proud to have made it to Google and Silicon Valley.

After watching the male CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, speaking at the closing ceremony, the girls said they believed the tech giant would one day have a female leader.

“Yes!” they said, in unison.

Whether that will come true or not, they have themselves already become the youngest role models to inspire others, one girl at a time. (VOA)