Rocket Report: Virgin Galactic delays flight, Falcon Heavy nets NASA mission

Enlarge / Inspiration4 reflected in the shores of the St. Johns River on the space coast of Florida. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann / Ars Technica)
Welcome to Edition 4.16 of the Rocket Report! We’ve experienced an inspiring week of spaceflight thanks to the launch of the Inspiration4 mission on Wednesday, but there is much more happening around the world when it comes to launch.
As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Virgin Galactic delays next flight. The space tourism company said Friday that it was delaying the next flight of its VSS Unity vehicle to no earlier than mid-October. As a reason,


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1795961

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Does XKCD’s Cartoon Show How Scientific Publishing Is a Joke?

“An XKCD comic — and its many remixes — perfectly captures the absurdity of academic research,” writes the Atlantic (in an article shared by Slashdot reader shanen).

It argues that the cartoon “captured the attention of scientists — and inspired many to create versions specific to their own disciplines. Together, these became a global, interdisciplinary conversation about the nature of modern research practices.”

It depicts a taxonomy of the 12 “Types of Scientific Paper,” presented in a grid. “The immune system is at it again,” one paper’s title reads. “My colleague is wrong and I can finally prove it,” declares another. The gag reveals how research literature, when stripped of its jargon, is just as susceptible to repetition, triviality, pandering, and pettiness as other forms of communication. The cartoon’s childlike simplicity, though, seemed to offer cover for scientists to critique and celebrate their work at the same time…

You couldn’t


Original URL: http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/axLC8juFPx0/does-xkcds-cartoon-show-how-scientific-publishing-is-a-joke

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Arecibo radio telescope’s massive instrument platform has collapsed

The immense instrument platform and the large collection of cables that supported it, all of which are now gone. (credit: NSF)
On Monday night, the enormous instrument platform that hung over the Arecibo radio telescope’s big dish collapsed due to the failure of the remaining cables supporting it. The risk of this sort of failure was the key motivation behind the National Science Foundation’s recent decision to shut down the observatory, as the potential for collapse made any attempt to repair the battered scope too dangerous for the people who would do the repairs.
Right now, details are sparse. The NSF has confirmed the collapse and says it will provide more information once it’s confirmed. A Twitter account from a user from Puerto Rico shared an image that shows the support towers that used to hold the cables that suspended the instrument platform over the dish, now with nothing but empty space


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1726713

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SpaceX launch footage was taken down thanks to bogus copyright claim

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket climbs to space on Saturday. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)
This weekend’s launch, in which SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully propelled the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the two astronauts on board from Florida safely into space, was amazing, awe-inspiring, and frankly, just plain cool to watch. And here in the age of inexpensive, tiny high-definition cameras and streaming content, it should be easy to catch up on it if you missed it—or even if you just want to watch it again for fun. But for most of the weekend and into this morning, you couldn’t watch it at all, thanks to copyright content ID bots working overtime.
The May 30 launch was streamed live to NASA’s YouTube channel and then archived, along with several shorter clips and highlights taken from the day-long livestream. NASA footage, like photo and video from other government agencies, is generally published into


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1680275

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Here’s what happened in the impact crater the day it did in the dinos

Enlarge / This is “Liftboat Myrtle,” which housed the drilling operation into Chicxulub Crater. (credit: Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin)
Geology is a big science. The Earth is a large enough place today, but when you stretch the fourth dimension back across many millions of years, the largeness can get out of hand. Because we lose a lot of detail to the ravages of time, it’s very difficult for geology to get small again—to tell us about what happened in individual locations or over short periods of time.
So it’s not every day that you read a scientific paper titled “The first day of the Cenozoic.” The Cenozoic is the name geologists give to the era spanning the last 66 million years, and it started with the mass extinction event that killed off (most of) the dinosaurs. There were incredible eruptions that contributed to the extinction


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1568283

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It’s possible to build a Turing machine within Magic: The Gathering

Enlarge / Assemble just the right deck, and draw just the right cards, and you’ll get the equivalent of a universal Turing machine within the game, a new study finds. That makes it the most computationally complex real-world game yet known. (credit: Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images)
Consider this hypothetical scenario: Bob and Alice are playing a game of Magic: The Gathering. It’s normal game play at first, as, say, Filigree robots from Kaladesh face off against werewolves and vampires from Innistrad. But then Alice draws just the right card from her customized deck, and suddenly Bob finds himself caught in the equivalent of a Turing machine, the famed abstract device that can simulate any computer algorithm. Thanks to the peculiarities of the rules of Magic, Bob can now only finish the game when he meets whatever condition Alice has programmed her in-game algorithm to accomplish—for example, to find a


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1501619

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OpenAI shifts from nonprofit to ‘capped-profit’ to attract capital

OpenAI may not be quite so open going forward. The former nonprofit announced today that it is restructuring as a “capped-profit” company that cuts returns from investments past a certain point. But some worry that this move — or rather the way they made it — may result in making the innovative company no different from the other AI startups out there.
From now on, profits from any investment in the OpenAI LP (limited partnership, not limited profit) will be passed on to an overarching nonprofit company, which will disperse them as it sees fit. Profits in excess of a 100x return, that is.
In simplified terms, if you invested $10 million today, the profit cap will come into play only after that $10 million has generated $1 billion in returns. You can see why some people are concerned that this structure is “limited” in name only.
In a blog post, OpenAI explained


Original URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/8mJ4a2Hh0jA/

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SpaceX successfully lands its first-stage Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral

 Success all around for today’s SpaceX mission. The company successfully launched a Dragon spacecraft that is on its way to the International Space Station. SpaceX also successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral. The weather was cloudy but it looks like it wasn’t enough to stop SpaceX from launching a rocket. At 9:39 ET, the Falcon 9 took off from… Read More


Original URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/9crFZsaQyHY/

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