Real life ‘Pac-Man’ satellite will clean up space junk

It’s no secret that there’s an awful lot of hazardous space junk in Earth’s orbit, so the Swiss (who else?) are going to use a Pac-Man satellite to clean up orbital debris, per Engadget:

The Swiss aren’t big on littering, and that philosophy apparently applies to space, too. After the nation’s EPFL Center for Space Engineering launched its first satellites (the tiny SwissCubes) into orbit, the very next mission planned was “CleanSpace One” to get them out of orbit. For one, the researchers didn’t want to add to the reams of existing space garbage threatening other satellites and astronauts at speeds of up to 15,000mph. But mainly, they want to test a practical system for cleaning space junk with relatively small targets. After considering various systems, the EPFL has settled on a “Pac-Man” solution that will trap the satellites with a conical net.

The operation will be tricky, because just finding the 4×4-inch satellites is going to be difficult.

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More than 2,800 people are dead in Yemen – so why aren’t we outraged?

In the summer of 2014, our screens were inundated with videos of the carnage from the streets of Gaza. The European media was outraged, and the sense of moral urgency was amplified across social media. Similar outrage greeted the destruction of UNESCO heritage sites in both Iraq and Syria with the condemnation of Islamic State’s barbarism reaching a crescendo when it overtook Syria’s majestic city of Palmyra.

Compare this coverage to the almost universal silence on the ongoing war in Yemen, which is largely absent from our TV screens, Facebook and Twitter trending topics sections and the front pages of broadsheet papers.

Admittedly, the Yemen conflict is a complicated matter, where the Saudi “bad guys” in the northern half of the country are looked upon as potential saviours in the southern half. The war includes a number of factions, and provides no easy narratives for the casual news watcher to follow.… Read the rest

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Prioritizing Happiness: A Happiness Strategy That Works

J3SSL33 (CC BY 2.0)

J3SSL33 (CC BY 2.0)

According to a new study, simply prioritizing happiness, instead of forcing it, is the key to living a happier life.

via Psyblog:

Indeed, many people describe happiness as something that comes when it will, rather than when you want.

The recent survey, though, asked 233 people about whether they generally prioritised positivity in their daily, routine decision-making.

The study’s authors explained the results:

“Prioritizing positivity reflects the extent to which individuals seek out positivity by virtue of how they make decisions about how to organize their day-to-day lives.

Critically, prioritizing positivity was associated with a host of beneficial well-being indicators, ranging from more frequent positive emotions to less depressive symptomology.

Furthermore, people high in prioritizing positivity may be at an advantage with respect to greater resources, such as self-compassion and ego-resilience, and these links are explained by their more frequent experiences of positive emotions.”

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Clone Ethics: What shouldn’t you do with your clone?

c2k2e (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

c2k2e (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Would it be incest to have sex with your clone? Whitney Kimball explores clone ethics over at Hopes&Fears:

Do clones have souls? How about human rights? Can we kill our own clone? What happens if we… have sex with one? Hopes&Fears consults psychologists, geneticists, bioethicists, twin specialists, theological experts and a Raelian bishop to answer these ethical questions.

A few weeks ago, I was tasked with investigating a highly theoretical question: Can you have sex with your clone? Let’s consult B movies. We know from Weird Science (1985) and its chick flick sibling Virtual Sexuality (1999), it is acceptable and desirable to genetically engineer a person to have sex with you. You can also harvest their organs, build an army, and program them to do house chores, provided said clone transmorgrifies as a parentless, fully-formed adult. (The process has something to do with “tweaking the gamma” and 3D printing, I guess).

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Buddhism Meets Psychedelics

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Our friends at Evolver are running another learning lab. This time Allan Badiner explores the intersection of Buddhism and Psychedelics with guests Alex Grey, Kokyo Henkel, and Brad Warner. The course begins tonight and you can sign up here.

SCHEDULE:

Monday, July 6 – The Practice and Appreciation of Visionary Art toward Building a Sacramental Culture
Guest: Alex Grey
8:00pm New York – 5:00pm San Francisco

Discover how the considered use of entheogens and Buddhist practice can enhance and deepen one another, or not.  

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How does the issue of psychedelics, currently undergoing a renaissance, find itself juxtaposed with the ancient wisdom tradition of Buddhism?  It turns out that the same cast of characters (Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, etc.) that introduced America to psychedelics, also brought us the first glimpse of the Buddha’s teachings.  Most American born Buddhist teachers and many of their students were influenced by psychedelic substances, such as cannabis and LSD, in the 60’s and 70’s.Read the rest

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Two in five new dads concerned about mental health problems, survey says

Sharon Mollerus (CC BY 2.0)

Sharon Mollerus (CC BY 2.0)

We often hear about how postpartum depression affects new mothers, but what about fathers? According to The Guardian, two in five dads are concerned about their mental health.

Haroon Siddique via The Guardian:

Around two in five of new fathers are concerned about their mental health, according to a survey, which highlights that it is not just mothers whose wellbeing is at risk after having a child.

Parenting charity NCT, which carried out the research, said extra responsibilities, changes in relationships and lifestyle, and the inevitable sleep deprivation are among the factors that can impact on men’s mental health.

It said the results, published on Thursday ahead of Father’s Day, illustrate the importance of men being encouraged to speak up about their experiences.

NCT psychologist Dr Abigail Easter said: “Awareness of perinatal depression among fathers unfortunately remains low. Postnatal depression is typically associated with mothers and often fathers are forgotten during this important time, with almost no specific support available to men.

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Project Baseline: See Evolution In Action

Sarah Laskow goes behind the ambitious effort to save, store and then plant three million seeds to see evolution in action, for Atlas Obscura:

Not so long ago, the seeds bagged and stuffed into the fridge of Steven Franks’ lab were starting their lives in a field or a meadow or on the side of the road, somewhere along the East Coast. Now they are destined for a seed bank in Colorado, where they may be taking a very long nap, of 10, 20, even 50 years.

Photo: 3268zauber (CC)

Photo: 3268zauber (CC)

 

Then, warmed up, planted in a bit of soil, they will be brought back to life. They will be raised alongside their descendants, the exact same species of plants, collected from the same exact same spots where these started their lives. Only, most likely, those descendants will be different in some way. Having survived for years out in the world, with the climate changing, they will have evolved in response.

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Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Chris Hedges explores corporate capitalism’s role in America’s prison state.

Chris Hedges via Common Dreams:

Our national conversation on race and crime is based on a fiction. It is the fiction that the organs of internal security, especially the judiciary and the police, can be adjusted, modernized or professionalized to make possible a post-racial America. We discuss issues of race while ignoring the economic, bureaucratic and political systems of exploitation—all of it legal and built into the ruling apparatus—that are the true engines of racism and white supremacy. No discussion of race is possible without a discussion of capitalism and class. And until that discussion takes place, despite all the proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, the state will continue to murder and imprison poor people of color with impunity.

More training, body cameras, community policing, the hiring of more minorities as police officers, a better probation service and more equitable fines will not blunt the indiscriminate use of lethal force or reduce the mass incarceration that destroys the lives of the poor.

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The oceans can’t take any more: Fundamental change in oceans predicted

PAk DocK (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

PAk DocK (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alfred Wegener Institute via ScienceDaily:

Our oceans need an immediate and substantial reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. If that doesn’t happen, we could see far-reaching and largely irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, which would especially be felt in developing countries. That’s the conclusion of a new review study published today in the journal Science. In the study, the research team from the Ocean 2015 initiative assesses the latest findings on the risks that climate change poses for our oceans, and demonstrates how fundamentally marine ecosystems are likely to change if human beings continue to produce just as much greenhouse gases as before.

Since the pre-industrial era, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has risen from 278 to 400 ppm (parts per million) — a 40 percent increase that has produced massive changes in the oceans. “To date, the oceans have essentially been the planet’s refrigerator and carbon dioxide storage locker.

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MasterCard Using Face Recognition Selfies To Approve Purchases

MasterCard credit card

Photo: Håkan Dahlström (CC)

How could this possibly go wrong? Mastercard is taking the “selfie” obsession to new heights with its plan to use facial recognition technology to approve purchases via selfies, as reported by CNN Money:

This fall, MasterCard will start experimenting with a new program: approving online purchases with a facial scan.

At checkout, you’ll be asked to hold up your phone and snap a photo. MasterCard’s thinking? It’s easier than remembering a password.

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” said Ajay Bhalla, who’s in charge of coming up with innovative solutions for MasterCard’s security challenges.
This is MasterCard’s way of cutting down fraud.

Currently, customers can set up something called “SecureCode,” which requires a password when shopping online. This stops credit-card-number-stealing hackers from actually using your card on the Web. It was used in 3 billion transactions last year, the company said.

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