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Seoul, October 16: As the tense nuclear standoff between North Korea and the United States continues to escalate, the risk of military conflict grows, while hopes for a peaceful solution remain remote.
On Sunday U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said diplomatic efforts to persuade the Kim Jong Un government to give up its nuclear and long-range ballistic missile program will continue “until the first bomb drops.”
But President Donald Trump has been pessimistic on the prospect of finding any diplomatic solution. He has called Tillerson’s efforts a “waste of time” and indicated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un cannot be trusted to adhere to any diplomatic agreement as the leadership in Pyongyang has repeatedly violated past denuclearization deals.
“I think I might have a somewhat different attitude and a different way than other people. I think perhaps I feel stronger and tougher on that subject, than other people,” Trump said last week.
The Trump administration’s hardline stance demanding North Korea unilaterally stop developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland could be a negotiating strategy, but critics fear it could also be laying the groundwork for the eventual use of military force.
“This administration, not just Trump, this administration is systematically preparing for a time not that far off in the future, basically next year the way I interpreted it in context when diplomacy has failed,” said John Delury, an international relations professor at Yonsei University in Seoul.
A recent poll shows increasing U.S. support among President Donald Trump’s Republican supporters for a preemptive strike to take out North Korean nuclear or ballistic missile sites, although a strong majority of Americans still oppose the use of force.
While launching such a strike to prevent an imminent North Korean attack on the U.S. would be a justifiable use of force, it might be difficult to prove.
But any first strike military options, including possible cyber attacks to sabotage North Korean missile tests, or a decapitation strike to kill Kim Jong Un and the leadership in Pyongyang, would risk deadly retaliation against South Korea along with the 28,000 American troops stationed in the south, and could plunge the entire region into a nuclear war.
“I think that would be moral, diplomatically, strategically, politically a great disaster, not only for the people of Korea and the region but for the United States of America too,” said North Korea analyst David Straub with the Sejong Institute.
Yet neither side is acting to reduce tensions, as they remain locked in what seems a deadly game of brinksmanship.
The United States and South Korea began week-long joint Navy drills in the waters around the Korean peninsula that involve about 40 naval ships from both countries, including the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and U.S. submarine Michigan.
South Korean media is reporting that a U.S. Special Forces unit practicing for “decapitation” operations is taking part in the joint exercises.
The U.S. has also sent a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber and F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to participate in the Seoul air show this week.
And the U.S. forces in Korea will begin non-combatant evacuation training next week for service members and their families in case of a North Korean attack or other disasters.
North Korea, in turn, is expected to test another long-range missile soon. The North’s state news agency KCNA on Friday indicated a missile test might target waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.” In August, Trump said the U.S. would respond “with fire and fury” to an earlier North Korean threat to target Guam.
Pyongyang says the Trump administration’s hostile intent, and the increased military buildup, further justify its need for a nuclear deterrent.(VOA)
NASA will pay up to $1 million to people who can come up with innovative and sustainable food production ideas to feed astronauts in space, as the US space agency prepares to send astronauts further into the cosmos than ever before. Giving future explorers the technology to produce nutritious, tasty, and satisfying meals on long-duration space missions will give them the energy required to uncover the great unknown. In coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA has launched the 'Deep Space Food Challenge' that calls on teams to design, build, and demonstrate prototypes of food production technologies that provide tangible nutritional products -- or food.
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"Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions," said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. "Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home," he said in a statement. Over time, food loses its nutritional value. That means for a multi-year mission to Mars, bringing along pre-packaged food will not meet all the needs for maintaining astronaut health.
Innovative food production technology that produces safe, acceptable, palatable, nutritious food products. |UnsplashUnsplash
In October 2021, Phase 1 of the challenge culminated as NASA awarded 18 teams a total of $450,000 for their concepts for innovative food production technology that produces safe, acceptable, palatable, nutritious food products. NASA now invites both new and existing teams to enter Phase 2 for a prize purse up to $1 million. "Everything needed to store, prepare and deliver food to the crew, including production, processing, transport, consumption, and disposal of waste should be considered," said NASA. Proposed technologies such as plant growth systems, manufactured food products, and ready-to-eat solutions combined could provide the future crews with a variety of options that would provide the needed daily nutrition, it added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : NASA, innovative, food, healthy, idea, astronaut, USA, tasty, technology, space, travel, explorer, health, nutrition, prize, solution, variety.)
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People suffering from depression are more likely to believe vaccine-related misinformation, according to a new study. The study found that people with moderate or greater symptoms of depression were more likely to believe at least 1 of 4 false statements about Covid-19 vaccines.
Those who believed the statements to be true were half as likely to be vaccinated, the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated. 'It is clear the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of Americans, especially young people," said researcher Katherine Ognyanova from Rutgers University, the US.
People suffering from depression are more likely to believe vaccine-related misinformation. | Unsplash
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately one-quarter of adults in the US have consistently reported moderate or greater depressive symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings suggest that people suffering from depression may be at a higher risk of Covid-19, highlighting the need to address mental health disorders.
For the study, the team used data from the research group The Covid States Project, which conducted surveys approximately once every six weeks since April 2020. The researchers analysed data from 15,464 adults in the US and the participants were asked to rate vaccine-related misinformation as accurate (statement is true), inaccurate (statement is not true) or not sure.
Approximately one-quarter of adults in US reported moderate or greater depressive symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. | Unsplash
The four statements of misinformation included "The Covid-19 vaccines will alter people's DNA", "The vaccines contain microchips that could track people", "The vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses", and "The -19 vaccines can cause infertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant". The survey participants completed a health questionnaire to measure major depressive symptoms over two weeks. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: depression, vaccine, misinformation, patients, health questionnaire, study)
The space economy is on track to be valued at a trillion dollars by the end of 2030, but assets such as navigation, weather and communication satellites that serve our society daily are threatened by space debris, an Indian-American professor has stressed. According to NASA, it is estimated that millions of pieces of space debris orbit around Earth. A major portion of these objects as well as active satellites reside in the low-Earth orbit region, at altitudes between 200 km and 1,000 km. In November last year, Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, creating thousands of pieces of debris that passed through the International Space Station (ISS).
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The astronauts and cosmonauts had to take shelter in their Soyuz and Dragon vehicles docked at the space station, as the orbital lab continued to pass through a debris field every 90 minutes. The US identified more than 1,500 trackable pieces of debris from the event, and many thousands of smaller ones couldn't be traced. According to Piyush Mehta, Assistant Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at West Virginia University, the US, in low-Earth orbit, our ability to safeguard these space assets depends on modelling of the aerodynamic forces acting on the satellites, specifically satellite drag.
The astronauts and cosmonauts had to take shelter in their Soyuz and Dragon vehicles. |Unsplash
"The drag force acting on a satellite is affected by various physical parameters, however, the most crucial and uncertain are the drag coefficient and mass density," said Mehta, who leads a collaborative effort on satellite drag coefficient modelling under the International Space Weather Action Teams (ISWAT) initiative. Mehta explained that because of the interconnectedness of the two parameters, one of them is held constant, typically the drag coefficient, while the other is investigated.
However, he added that this causes inconsistencies or inaccuracies in our understanding of the mass density variability in the upper atmosphere or thermosphere. Jason Gross, Interim Chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Statler College, West Virginia University, said: "With the continued rapid increase of manmade satellites in low-Earth orbit, his (Mehta's) work towards improved orbital decay prediction becomes more important for the future of space environment sustainability with each passing day. His lab is at the forefront of this important field." (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : dollar, space, economy, debris, satellite, navigation, weather, orbit, astronaut, cosmonaut, inconsistency, aerospace, collaborative.)
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