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Linda Manly

Linda Manly

Ever been stuck with trying to get to a solution, but not getting anywhere? If you nod affirmatively, you may be lacking in critical thinking. What you have to remember about critical thinking though, is that you will not get from 0 to 100 in just a second. There are many skills that you need to learn and understand before you can get to use your brain this way : you inquire into and enquire about all the facets of a problem, before actually getting to solve it, keeping your “judgment” well out of the way.

 

Why Is Critical Thinking So Hard To Achieve?

The toughest thing about critical thinking is the fact that you need to suspend your judgment while you do so, keeping your very open to the thought that the belief you have about something, can in the next instant, proven to be wrong or incorrect. Also, as a critical thinker, you are in a way deviating from the norm, which means all the things that your peers believe and even want you to believe, can, in fact, be incorrect. The very basis of critical thinking is an almost continuous back and forth between making theories or beliefs, and then trying to accept or eliminate what works and what doesn’t.

Are You On The Right Path To Critical Thinking?

Despite the difficulty of critical thinking, it is becoming more and more of a valued tool in the professional field – perhaps because there is a dearth of critical thinkers. So to see whether you are the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to critical thinking, you should try to take The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory – a psychological test that can be used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically or not, by measuring seven different thinking habits, or essential skills.

 

  1. Truth-seeking: Are you a flame carrier for truth, and nothing but? Do you try and understand how things actually are instead of believing hearsay?
  2. Open-mindedness: Is new information acceptable, good or just bad to you? Do you give new ideas, even if they “sound” weird or wrong, a fair chance? Or are you closed to modernity?
  3. Analyticity: Do you try and find and understand the reasons behind things? Are your decisions gut-based or do they have pros and cons behind them?
  4. Systematicity: Are you orderly in your approach of problem-solving? Do you break down a problem into parts and then tackle them one by one?
  5. Confidence in Reasoning: Do you always defer to other people or is your own belief more important to you? Are you confident in your own judgment and do you think that you have reasons for your confidence? Do you like to evaluate your own thinking?
  6. Inquisitiveness: Do you question, and question often? Are you full of curiosity?
  7. The Maturity of Judgment: Do you take time in reaching a conclusion or do you jump to conclusions? Do you try and analyze things from different perspectives and take other people’s experiences into account, instead of just valuing yourself above it all?

So the essential skills needed in critical thinking are analyzing, applying the standards, classifying, seeking further information, logical deduction, predictions and finally and most importantly: “transforming” the conclusions into knowledge.

 

The Tools Used In Critical Thinking

Frankly, critical thinking is basically a series of tos and fros between theories or beliefs and their elimination or acceptance. From the birth of a belief to its eventual binning or acceptance, there are many a tool one can use that keep the judgment suspended till the scales of justice, science and logic list on one side.

  • A Sound Argument: Much like a pros and cons list, an argument is when we present a list of whys and why nots for a belief and then reach a sound conclusion: the statement about what should be done or believed. Arguments, however, need to be proven.
  • Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reasoning often follows a set of conclusions after a sound argument; you can then, following logic, “deduce” what those conclusions now state in their entirety. Sometimes though, deductive reasoning is unable to prove something by mere logic.
  • Inductive Reasoning: So when arguments and deductive reasoning refuse to provide a solution, this is where inductive reasoning steps in. Starting with eliminative and enumerative reasoning and then moving onto abductive reasoning: a logical happening that happens by “chance” but basically can be traced back to the very problem we are trying to solve. Not quite gut, but somewhere close.

 

How To Put Critical Thinking To Use

What have been stated above are beliefs. Now for you to put critical thinking to use, you need to internalize and channelize these theoretical principles and apply them to your daily thought processes. Be unafraid – state your opinions, ask your questions, admit to being wrong, own up to thinking that you are right, be ready to be questioned in return and lastly: know that your belief system is not infallible.

Once you start to apply critical thinking, you may end up discovering that what you believed in is actually a falsification. Chin up, cheer up and be critical. The ultimate goal or aim of critical thinking is not to break something but to build something even more awesome in place.

Don’t be wary of being in the wrong. If all the great minds thought like that and refused to question their own theories or the one of the greats before them, the world would still be thought of as flat, with the sun revolving around it…

Source: This article was published on lifehack.org by 

While Apple has a relatively small number of iPhone variants to choose from compared to many smartphone manufacturers, the amount of ways to buy an iPhone can be overwhelming. With most carriers in the U.S. moving away from two-year contracts and subsidized devices, full-price or installment plans are the primary ways to purchase an iPhone.

Since all installment plans or iPhone upgrade programs from the major U.S. carriers and Apple offer 0% interest, these options can be a good fit for a lot of consumers. While many of these plans are relatively similar, they all have their differences. Follow along for a detailed breakdown to find out which iPhone upgrade program is best for you.

 

Whether you need to buy an iPhone immediately or are planning on waiting until the fall for Apple’s 10th anniversary release, it’s useful to have a good handle on purchasing options.

If you know you’d like to stick with your current carrier no matter what, you have the option of using the carrier’s iPhone upgrade program/installment plan or using one of Apple’s options.

If you’re open to switching carriers, you’ll of course have the most choices. Overall, the Apple options provide the most flexibility and potentially the best overall value. AT&T and Verizon’s options offer convenience and no extra fees for upgrading yearly, while Sprint and T-Mobile both charge extra for yearly upgrades.

 

Here’s a detailed comparison of the different upgrade plans from Apple and the major U.S. carriers:

Apple

Apple definitely influenced the industry when it first made its iPhone Upgrade Program available starting with the iPhone 6s/6s Plus. With Apple’s plan having a 12-month upgrade option at no cost, AT&T and Verizon shortly followed suit. Now all the major carriers offer a yearly upgrade option (although some charge an extra fee).

 

Other benefits of Apple’s options are getting an unlocked device (easily using with another carrier), and having the option for AppleCare+ bundled in for about $5/month. Another use case that can be a good fit for Apple’s options are users who have a family plan with extended family, but don’t want to put hardware costs on the monthly bill.

Also, when the iPhone 7/7 Plus launched, iPhone Upgrade Program customers received a better chance at getting a device. Keep in mind Apple’s programs require a credit card (no debit cards), although this could change in the future. One other limitation is that Apple only offers its installment plans for its newest iPhones.

AT&T and Verizon

Both AT&T and Verizon offer 0% interest, a yearly upgrade option and most of the same fine details. At first glance AT&T’s prices may seem cheaper, but that’s because they market their prices starting with a 30-month installment plan, while all the other carriers price based on 24-month payoffs.

 

Some benefits of choosing to go with AT&T or Verizon’s installment/upgrade plans include the convenience of the cost being added to your bill and some customers may be pre-approved.

Sprint and T-Mobile

While you may be saving some money on your service with Sprint or T-Mobile, both of these carriers charge extra fees for yearly smartphone upgrades. Sprint charges $5/month for 12-months to opt-in for yearly upgrades. T-Mobile charges between $9-$15/month for its JUMP program that provides yearly upgrade options and an extended warranty.

Conclusion

With the detailed comparison charts above and your personal preferences in mind you should be able to figure out which upgrade program is best for you without breaking a sweat.

For more details on how the math all works out for installment plans vs. the mostly retired subsidized device plans,

Source: This article was published 9to5mac.com By Michael Potuck

When everything works fine on an Android device, it is a good sign for the user experience. When you encounter an error that says – “Unfortunately, has stopped“, the user gets frustrated! Maybe the user was in the middle of doing something important and now that the application forcefully stopped, everything is literally gone! The user has to re-launch the app and start over again! So, in this article, we have compiled a list of methods that you can try to fix Unfortunately, has Stopped error.

Method #1: Clear the Cache & Try Again

A cache is a storage location where data which is accessed repeatedly is stored. The cache is the fastest available storage option available to the developer or the OS.

 

So, if you clear the cached data for an app, there is a possibility that the issue should be fixed.

Steps to clear the cache and fix “Unfortunately, has stopped”

clear cache on android

Step #1: Open the Settings app on your Android device.

Step #2: Scroll down and look for “Apps” as shown in the image above.

Step #3: Scroll down to find the desired app and click on it.

Step #4: Click on “Storage option“.

Step #5: Now, you will find two options as – “CLEAR DATA” and “CLEAR CACHE“. Simply, click on “CLEAR CACHE“. The first option (Clear Data) serves a different purpose that we will cover in the next method.

After you have successfully cleared the cached storage data, re-launch the app and try doing the same thing which caused the error. You may have possibly fixed the “Unfortunately, has stopped” error. If it still persists, follow the next method.

Method #2: Reset the Application

If clearing the cache did not work, then, this time, you need to reset the app in order to fix the error.

Note: Clearing the data would delete all your app’s data, information, and reset the settings of the app. So, if you do not have a backup of the app’s data or if it does not reside in the cloud, perform a backup of the required data.

Steps to clear App data and fix “Unfortunately, has stopped” error

facebook messenger log out

 

Step #1: Open the Settings app on your Android device.

Step #2: Scroll down and look for “Apps” as shown in the image above.

Step #3: Scroll down to find the desired app and click on it.

Step #4: Click on “Storage option“.

Step #5: Now, you will find two options as – “CLEAR DATA” and “CLEAR CACHE“. Simply, click on “CLEAR DATA“.

Finally, re-launch the application. If the app required user’s authentication, then it will ask you to re-enter your credentials in order to sign in again.

Method #3: Reinstall or Update the application

If none of the above methods mentioned worked for you, you can try uninstalling and install the app again to see whether the error “Unfortunately, has stopped” still shows or not. Reinstalling may not be much different than clearing the app’s data, but it seems to work most of the time.

On the off chance, if there is an update available for the app at the Google Play Store, consider updating it.

Method #4: Install an older version of the App

Sometimes updating an app fixes the issue but on the contrary, sometimes it makes it worse. So, in order to get rid of the “Unfortunately, has stopped” error message, you can also try installing an older version of the app by downloading the APK package.

 

Note: It is not advisable to download APK packages from 3rd Party stores or sites. So, make sure you are downloading the APK file from a trusted site like APKMirror.com which verifies the legitimacy of every package before publishing it.

Method #5: Perform a Factory Reset

It is time to drop the bomb in order to get rid of the annoying error message. The only option you have got at the end is to perform a factory reset. However, we would not recommend doing this unless you are encountering this issue on multiple apps or if you are sure that you can restore your data easily after doing the Factory Reset. WARNING, THIS WILL DELETE ALL DATA ON THE PHONE.

factory reset your androidSteps to perform a factory reset to fix “Unfortunately, has stopped” error

 

Step #1: Open the Settings menu on your Android device.

Step #2: Scroll down to find the “Backup & Reset” option.

Step #3: Click on “Factory Reset“. Now, you will be able to observe some on-screen instructions. You just need to read then and think before proceeding doing the Factory Reset.

Conclusion

Finally, we now know about various methods that can be used in order to fix Unfortunately, has stopped error. You should never try performing a factory reset unless you encounter the error on multiple applications or if its something too important. Also, this error could simply be a bug in the app, in which case, reporting the bug to the developer, and waiting for an update may be the better option.

Do you know about some other interesting methods to fix this issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: This article was published ubergizmo.com By Ankush Das

You can now compare one search phrase to another in the Google Search Analytics report within the Google Search Console.

Google has quietly added a new option within the Search Analytics report, within the Google Search Console, to compare one query against the next. This feature was first spotted by @Jonny_J_.

Customs and Border Protection officials can currently search your smartphone at the border. But that might soon change.

Over the last year, the risk that border agents will search and detain U.S. citizens’ personal devices has increased dramatically. Arriving foreigners, meanwhile, now have to contend with the possibility that they will not only be asked to list their social media accounts but also provide the passwords for them before they can enter the United States

A new bill in Congress could address US citizens’ fears of having their phones or other devices confiscated. But even if that bill passes, the Trump administration may still choose to gather foreigners’ social media passwords, a policy known as extreme vetting. In turn, Americans may become anxious that other countries will subject them to the very same treatment. 

 

The usual rules don’t apply to your devices

There’s always been a risk that your phone or laptop could be searched upon your return to the States — and that you can’t do anything about that. Customs and Border Protection agents can also temporarily confiscate your device to search its data.

That’s because, as an August 2009 Department of Homeland Security paper states, yourFourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures of your property don’t apply until you officially enter America. 

That 2009 DHS document says CBP should spend no more than five days on an initial inspection of a “detained” device, while more-in-depth investigations should last 30 days at most.

What can you do in this situation? Traveling without electronics is a non-starter for many people, especially business travelers. Wiping your device or uninstalling all social-media apps may only make you look suspicious.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s advice boils down to this: Be polite, realize you may have to surrender your device if you don’t allow its search, and don’t commit a crime by lying to CBP agents.

 

“That leaves people with not a lot of great options,” summed up Emma Llansó, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, at a panel hosted by the D.C. chapter of the Internet Society in March.

Stepped-up searches

Beginning in 2016, device searches became considerably more frequent. An NBC News report cited DHS data showing their numbers went from below 5,000 in 2015 to almost 25,000 in 2016. In February 2017 alone, CBP agents searched some 5,000 devices.

A CBP spokesperson said previously released 2015 and 2016 numbers were distorted by a mix-up of fiscal-year and calendar-year statistics; the representative said we would have correct data by April 12 but had provided none by the time of this article’s publication.

Search and seizure.

The rules for search and seizure are far more relaxed at the border.

These searches still represent a tiny fraction of the total number of international travel. “CBP’s electronic searches affect less than one hundredth of one percent of travelers,” the spokesperson explained via email.

The spokesperson added that “electronic media searches” led to “arrests for child pornography, evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, violations of export controls, convictions for intellectual property rights violations, and visa fraud discoveries.”

 

Recent anecdotes have been disturbing. For instance, CBP agents demanded that NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Sidd Bikkannavar provide the unlock code for his JPL-issued phone and said they would not allow him to leave Houston Intercontinental Airport until he did so.

Bikkannavar is a native-born American citizen and a member of CBP’s Global Entry network — a trusted-traveler program that requires a detailed background check and CBP digitizing your fingerprints.

Bipartisan opposition

A new bill, however, could cramp CBP’s authority to search your stuff.

The “Protecting Data at the Border Act,” would prohibit customs officials and other border agents from searching the contents of the devices of U.S. citizens and permanent residents without a court warrant. It would also stop them from making a citizen or resident unlock a device and prevent them from detaining a citizen or resident for more than four hours.

The proposed law would, however, let a government agent search a device without a warrant if they “reasonably determine” an emergency involves an immediate threat of harm, a conspiracy “threatening the national security interest of the United States” or “activities characteristic of organized crime.”

The agent would only have to get a warrant after the fact.

The bill’s sponsorship shows an unusual degree of cooperation among legislators who may agree on few other issues this year. Sens. Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R.-Ky.)introduced it in the Senate. In the House, Reps. Don Beyer (D.-Va.), Blake Farenthold (R.-Tex.), Reps. Jared Polis (D.-Colo.) and Adam Smith (D.-Wash.) introduced its counterpart.

Things can get worse

That bill would not, however, limit CBP searches of arriving foreigners. But they may have something worse to worry about.

 

As numerous reports have indicated (most recently, an April 4 Wall Street Journal story), the Trump administration is considering requiring foreigners to share contacts lists andeven social media account passwords for background checks.

That “extreme vetting” measure would be a giant step beyond the practice, begun in December, of asking many foreign visitors for their usernames on 13 social networks. AFebruary report by DHS’s Inspector General criticized the department for launching this program without clear metrics for its performance.

But requiring people to hand over not just their online identities but the keys to them has previously been a habit of totalitarian regimes overseas. Can the U.S. do that? At the border, probably so.

“It’s not just a search, it’s also a testimonial act, and you’re being asked to do something that could be incriminating,” Mason Kortz, a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, told Yahoo Finance’s Daniel Howley. “But it’s still probably justifiable in determining who gets to come into the country.”

Maybe you don’t worry about what foreigners face at U.S. borders — nobody’s making them come here. But remember this: Little but the politeness of other countries need stop them from returning the favor to arriving Americans.

Source: This article was published Yahoo Finance By Rob Pegoraro

This is an illustration of layers of radiation belts close to Earth that were produced as a result of Cold War high-altitude nuclear explosion tests.

The ongoing debate about global warming and climate change includes arguments about whether our world actually faces such a problem, and whether it was caused by human activity. But there’s another earthling-influenced phenomenon we don’t hear too much about: how we affect what happens in space.

According to NASA:

Space weather ― which can include changes in Earth’s magnetic environment ― are usually triggered by the sun’s activity, but recently declassified data on high-altitude nuclear explosion tests have provided a new look at the mechanisms that set off perturbations in that magnetic system.

Earth is surrounded by layers of radiation belts, and as the space agency says in the following video, the Cold War-era experiments of the 1950s and ‘60s produced extra radiation close to Earth.

While those military tests concluded long ago, the after-effects of such actions, now called human-induced space weather, are the focus of a new study published in Space Science Reviews, which offers research access to millions of scientific documents.

As reported in The Scientific Foundation of Space Weather:

These explosions created artificial radiation belts near Earth that resulted in major damages to several satellites. Another unexpected impact of the high-altitude nuclear tests was the electromagnetic pulse that can have devastating effects over a large geographic area (such as the continental United States).

Other anthropogenic impacts on the space environment include chemical release experiments, high-frequency wave heating of the ionosphere and the interaction of VLF waves with the radiation belts.

Certain types of communications ― very low frequency, or VLF, radio communications ― have been found to interact with particles in space, affecting how and where they move. At times, these interactions can create a barrier around Earth against natural high-energy particle radiation in space.

The following video depicts this barrier or bubble around our planet, which, according to NASA, was created by those VLF waves. 

“A number of experiments and observations have figured out that, under the right conditions, radio communications signals in the VLF frequency range can, in fact, affect the properties of the high-energy radiation environment around the Earth,” Phil Ericson, assistant director at the MIT Haystack Observatory in Massachusetts, said in a NASA statement.

The space agency added that while these VLF signals are used to communicate with submarines, “they also extend out beyond our atmosphere, shrouding Earth in a VLF bubble” that even “spacecraft high above Earth’s surface” can see.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

It’s amazing what you can learn by analyzing the strategies that are working for your competitors. Best of all, you can incorporate what you learn and put your own spin on it when creating your own campaigns. What are some ways you can find and leverage this valuable information? Read on!

Knowledge is power and you can find it in unexpected places. It’s nearly impossible to develop an effective digital marketing strategy without having adequate information about your competitors. It’s amazing what you can learn by analyzing the strategies that are working for your competitors. Best of all, you can incorporate what you learn and put your own spin on it when creating your own campaigns. What are some ways you can find and leverage this valuable information? Read on!

 

Keywords your competitors are using

Researching your competitor’s keywords is one of the best ways to enhance your search engine optimization strategy. When you have details of your competitor’s keywords, it guides you in shaping your own SEO strategy, giving you a competitive advantage when it comes to those sought after search engine rankings.

Competitors' keywords in this context include those keywords which your competitors are using to rank higher on search engines and also those they targeted, but didn’t rank well. Knowing these two categories of keywords will enable you to make informed decisions about your SEO strategy.

So, how do you hack your competitor’s keywords?

Competitor keyword research involves more than just generating any keywords associated with your competitors. It requires doing a bit of manual research to get an authentic list of your competitor’s keywords. Though there is no one tool that will generate your competitor’s keywords in one click, there are several tools which can help speed up the process.

SEMRush

This is a unique keyword research tool that requires you to enter a URL, then lists the top 10 keywords that the website ranks well for organically. It will also provide information about the website, including each keyword’s position in search, traffic percentage and more.

Google Keyword Planner Tool

The Google keyword planner is a free tool from Google, provided to advertisers in order to research keywords for Adwords campaigns.  The tool can also be used by those who do not intend to use Adwords but are looking for other information. All you need is a free Google account, then set up your Adwords account and you can use the tool.

 

The tool provides an estimate of your competitor’s keywords and how each one is performing. Simply log in to your Adwords account and select keyword planner, then click on "find new keywords." Then input your competitor’s URL into the “your landing page” field and click on “get ideas."

Google scans your competitor’s website and generates a list of all the keywords related to it. Then just click on “keyword ideas” to see the analysis.

Alexa

Alexa is generally known for giving traffic scores to websites. However, it also enables you to analyze the specific keywords bringing a high percentage of a website’s traffic. To do this, navigate to the site “info” tab and input your competitor’s URL, then go to the “analytics” tab to see the top keywords driving traffic to the website.

Top trends your competitors are following

In order to leverage customer’s behavior to your advantage, you need to understand the market and continuously monitor the entire niche. If you aren’t doing this, you need to be! You can easily do this by reading industry blogs and other publications, but you should also pay close attention to what your competitors are doing and saying when it comes to these trends.

 

You can take advantage of some great tools available to help properly analyze the top trends that your competitor are following. Here are just a few:

Google Trends

This tool sends reports whenever your competitor is mentioned online, which helps you monitor their activities.

Simply Measured

This tool gives you a bit of everything. It monitors your competitions’ trends, traffic sources, conversion rates, social media activities and more.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts sends you relevant updates of the latest Google results from specified queries. You can set up alerts for your competitors, allowing you to monitor any developments from them. It’s also helpful to set this up for yourself to monitor your own mentions!

Effective content formats

Developing content is a daunting task, whether it’s coming up with topics or adding new types of content. However, you can easily get ideas on how to craft your content by taking a peek at your competition. A look at how they create their content can give you valuable insight on how to create yours.

Look at the type of content that’s popular with their customers. Look at the word count and writing style. Is it casual? Formal? Quirky? Look at other structures like the length of paragraphs, headings and bullets. You’ll want to analyze the topics they write about and the format of the content. Is it predominantly written content or video? How many images do they use? Are they repurposing through Slideshare or infographics? What are they NOT doing?

 

Observe how many of each of these formats are published, how and whether they publish a single topic in different formats. All of these insights will enhance your own content game.

Backlinking possibilities

Despite the claims that Google’s algorithm focuses on content, backlinks are still part of the criteria that contributes to Google ranking. High-quality backlinks do wonders for SEO!

It’s important to have relevant backlinks for your website and one way of finding these opportunities is to analyze the backlinks of your competitors. There are several tools available to help you do this.

Monitor Backlinks

This website analyzes backlinks and then sends them directly to your inbox. It provides a detailed description of each link, specifying the highest and lowest rank, as well as indicating whether they are do follow or no follow. You can then compare the results to know which links might be good fit for your website.

Open Site Explorer

This tool reveals your competitor’s link building efforts and discloses those linking back to them. It also allows you compare data from various sites.

Ahrefs

This is a popular backlink tool that helps you research competitor backlinks. It will disclose the top pages and the IP address of those websites linked to your competitors.

You can learn a lot from your competitors and generate ideas for your own campaigns using these hacks. Have you used any of these tools or strategies? Which ones worked best for your business?

Source: This article was published business.com By Michael Georgiou

Neuralink – which is “developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers” – is probably a bad idea. If you understand the science behind it, and that’s what you wanted to hear, you can stop reading.The Conversation

But this is an absurdly simple narrative to spin about Neuralink and an unhelpful attitude to have when it comes to understanding the role of technology in the world around us, and what we might do about it. It’s easy to be cynical about everything Silicon Valley does, but sometimes it comes up with something so compelling, fascinating and confounding it cannot be dismissed; or embraced uncritically.

Putting aside the hyperbole and hand-wringing that usually follows announcements like this, Neuralink is a massive idea. It may fundamentally alter how we conceive of what it means to be human and how we communicate and interact with our fellow humans (and non-humans). It might even represent the next step in human evolution.

Neurawhat?

But what exactly is Neuralink? If you have time to read a brilliant 36,400-word explainer by genius Tim Urban, then you can do so here. If you don’t, Davide Valeriani has done an excellent summary right here on The Conversation. However, to borrow a few of Urban’s words, NeuraLink is a “wizard hat for your brain”.

 

Essentially, Neuralink is a company purchased by Elon Musk, the visionary-in-chief behind Tesla, Space X and Hyperloop. But it’s the company’s product that really matters. Neuralink is developing a “whole brain interface”, essentially a network of tiny electrodes linked to your brain that the company envisions will allow us to communicate wirelessly with the world. It would enable us to share our thoughts, fears, hopes and anxieties without demeaning ourselves with written or spoken language.

One consequence of this is that it would allow us to be connected at the biological level to the internet. But it’s who would be connecting back with us, how, where, why and when that are the real questions.

Through his Tesla and Space X ventures, Musk has already ruffled the feathers of some formidable players; namely, the auto, oil and gas industries, not to mention the military-industrial complex. These are feathers that mere mortals dare not ruffle; but Musk has demonstrated a brilliance, stubborn persistence and a knack for revenue generation (if not always the profitability) that emboldens resolve.

However, unlike Tesla and Space X, Neuralink operates in a field where there aren’t any other major players – for now, at least. But Musk has now fired the starting gun for competitors and, as Urban observes, “an eventual neuro-revolution would disrupt almost every industry”.

Part of the human story

There are a number of technological hurdles between Neuralink and its ultimate goal. There is reason to think they can surmount these; and reason to think they won’t.

While Neuralink may ostensibly be lumped in with other AI/big data companies in its branding and general desire to bring humanity kicking and screaming into a brave new world of their making, what it’s really doing isn’t altogether new. Instead, it’s how it’s going about it that makes Neuralink special – and a potentially major player in the next chapter of the human story.

Depending on who you ask, the human story generally goes like this. First, we discovered fire and developed oral language. We turned oral language into writing, and eventually we found a way to turn it into mechanised printing. After a few centuries, we happened upon this thing called electricity, which gave rise to telephones, radios, TVs and eventually personal computers, smart phones – and ultimately the Juicero.

file-20170502-17245-86mpzv.jpg

Fire: a great leap forward. Shutterstock

Over time, phones lost their cords, computers shrunk in size and we figured out ways to make them exponentially more powerful and portable enough to fit in pockets. Eventually, we created virtual realities, and melded our sensate reality with an augmented one.

 

But if Neuralink were to achieve its goal, it’s hard to predict how this story plays out. The result would be a “whole-brain interface” so complete, frictionless, bio-compatible and powerful that it would feel to users like just another part of their cerebral cortex, limbic and central nervous systems.

A whole-brain interface would give your brain the ability to communicate wirelessly with the cloud, with computers, and with the brains of anyone who has a similar interface in their head. This flow of information between your brain and the outside world would be so easy it would feel the same as your thoughts do right now.

But if that sounds extraordinary, so are the potential problems. First, Neuralink is not like putting an implant in your head designed to manage epileptic seizures, or a pacemaker in your heart. This would be elective surgery on (presumably) healthy people for non-medical purposes. Right there, we’re in a completely different ball park, both legally and ethically.

There seems to be only one person who has done such a thing, and that was a bonkers publicity stunt conducted by a Central American scientist using himself as a research subject. He’s since suffered life threatening complications. Not a ringing endorsement, but not exactly a condemnation of the premise either.

Second, because Neuralink is essentially a communications system there is the small matter of regulation and control. Regardless of where you stand on the whole privacy and surveillance issue (remember Edward Snowden) I cannot imagine a scenario in which there would not be an endless number of governments, advertisers, insurers and marketing folks looking to tap into the very biological core of our cognition to use it as a means of thwarting evildoers and selling you stuff. And what’s not to look forward to with that?

 

And what if the tech normalises to such a point that it becomes mandatory for future generations to have a whole-brain implant at birth to combat illegal or immoral behaviour (however defined)? This obviously opens up a massive set of questions that go far beyond the technical hurdles that might never be cleared. It nonetheless matters that we think about them now.

Brain security

There’s also the issue of security. If we’ve learned one thing from this era of “smart” everything, it’s that “smart” means exploitable. Whether it’s your fridge, your TV, your car, or your insulin pump, once you connect something to something else you’ve just opened up a means for it to be compromised.

Doors are funny like that. They’re not picky about who walks through them, so a door into your head raises some critical security questions. We can only begin to imagine what forms hacking would take when you have a direct line into the minds of others. Would this be the dawn of Cognitive Law? A legal regime that pertains exclusively to that squishy stuff between your ears?

What it really all comes down to is this: across a number of fields at the intersection of law, philosophy, technology and society we are going to need answers to questions no one has yet thought of asking (at least not often enough; and for the right reasons). We have faced, are facing, and will face incredibly complex and overwhelming problems that we may well not like the answers to. But it matters that we ask good questions early and often. If we don’t, they’ll be answered for us.

And so Neuralink is probably a bad idea, but to the first person who fell into a firepit, so was fire. On a long enough time line even the worst ideas need to be reckoned with early on. Now who wants a Juicero?

Christopher Markou, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The beleaguered company’s failure is a sign of what’s to come for many ad-based websites.

Yahoo filed its final quarterly report this week. And just like that, the once-mighty tech firm is exiting public trading.

The company has been unraveling—slowly and spectacularly—for more than a decade now. But this particular moment is a good one for reflecting on how Yahoo’s troubles are likely to be replicated in a wave across the web, and soon, among businesses like news organizations that rely heavily on advertising revenue for their survival.  

 

Print newspapers will continue to fold, but Yahoo’s demise is a signal that web-native companies are next. If you run a business that relies on digital-advertising revenue for an outsized portion of your funding, you need to find new streams of revenue. Now. It may already be too late.

Unless you’re Facebook or Google, that is. Facebook and Google are practically drowning in ad revenue—together they command a huge portion of global digital-ad dollars—and that’s the root of the problem for every other business trying to clamor for a piece of it. The precise estimates vary. One often-repeated stat, based on last year’s financials, is that Facebook and Google account for 85-percent of every new dollar spent on digital advertising.

But the numbers may be even more stark than that. Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next, estimates that Facebook and Google accounted for about 99 percent of all advertising growth in the third quarter of 2016—54 percent of the pie for Google, 45 percent of it for Facebook, 1 percent for everybody else. (That’s based on numbers from the each company’s public financial records and data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for advertisers.)

 

For everyone other than Facebook and Google, Kint tweeted in December, it’s a “zero-sum game.”

Many investors have reached this conclusion, too. “The ad-tech market will go the way of search, social, and mobile as investors and entrepreneurs concede that Google and Facebook have won and everyone else has lost,” the venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson wrote in January. “It will be nearly impossible to raise money for an online advertising business in 2017.”

Though Yahoo’s failures were multi-faceted, the company’s fundamental problem was that it could not figure out a way to command a significant enough piece of the advertising money that is increasingly rushing to Facebook and Google.

It seems preordained now, having watched Yahoo stumble for so many years, but there was a time when Yahoo was much bigger than either company. It is true that Yahoo was “never able to decide on exactly what it wanted to be,” as Jonathan Weber and Jeffrey Dastin put it for Reuters last year. Perhaps if it had committed to search, for instance, it could have fended off Google. And remember Yahoo’s failed attempt to buy Facebook for $1 billion in 2006? Instead, Verizon’s deal to buy Yahoo is expected to close in June, at which point Yahoo and Verizon-owned AOL will become a new brand called Oath.

 

One particularly telling detail in the recent Associated Press coverage about Yahoo “bowing out as a public company” is the fact that it was at least partly automated—meaning elements of the story were generated by a computer. One way for today’s ad-based companies to survive: replace humans with machines.

Way back in 1995, Yahoo seemed destined to establish a successful ad-based business model for the internet era. Back then, the company was still just a directory of sites on the web. And in July of that year, Yahoo announced that “it had signed five initial sponsors as part of a plan to redesign the service and become advertiser-supported,” as The New York Times reported at the time.

What that meant was that the logos of the five sponsors would appear, as part of a daily rotation, at the top of Yahoo’s site—primitive banner ads. At the same time, Reuters announced it had signed a deal with Yahoo to feature news on Yahoo’s site in exchange for a piece of the ad revenue coming in.

All this seemed to be the first hint at what was to come, an idea of how the web might carry advertising-based businesses like news organizations into the online age.

But the picture is much different now. Today, Facebook and Google alone are slurping up the ad dollars, neither company pays for the news it features (despite occasional partnerships with news organizations), and Yahoo as we knew it has all but vanished.

It won’t be the only web giant to fall.

Source: This article was published on theatlantic.com by ADRIENNE LAFRANCE

Why do the other planets, like Venus (shown above) have a different atmosphere than Earth? Credit: ESA

Here on Earth, we tend to take our atmosphere for granted, and not without reason. Our atmosphere has a lovely mix of nitrogen and oxygen (78% and 21% respectively) with trace amounts of water vapor, carbon dioxide and other gaseous molecules. What’s more, we enjoy an atmospheric pressure of 101.325 kPa, which extends to an altitude of about 8.5 km.

In short, our atmosphere is plentiful and life-sustaining. But what about the other planets of the Solar System? How do they stack up in terms of atmospheric composition and pressure? We know for a fact that they are not breathable by humans and cannot support life. But just what is the difference between these balls of rock and gas and our own?

 

For starters, it should be noted that every planet in the Solar System has an atmosphere of one kind or another. And these range from incredibly thin and tenuous (such as Mercury’s “exosphere”) to the incredibly dense and powerful – which is the case for all of the gas giants. And depending on the composition of the planet, whether it is a terrestrial or a gas/ice giant, the gases that make up its atmosphere range from either the hydrogen and helium to more complex elements like oxygen, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.

Mercury’s Atmosphere:

Mercury is too hot and too small to retain an atmosphere. However, it does have a tenuous and variable exosphere that is made up of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, sodium, calcium, potassium and water vapor, with a combined pressure level of about 10-14 bar (one-quadrillionth of Earth’s atmospheric pressure). It is believed this exosphere was formed from particles captured from the Sun, volcanic outgassing and debris kicked into orbit by micrometeorite impacts.

Mercury's Horizon
A High-resolution Look over Mercury’s Northern Horizon. Credit: NASA/MESSENGER

Because it lacks a viable atmosphere, Mercury has no way to retain the heat from the Sun. As a result of this and its high eccentricity, the planet experiences considerable variations in temperature. Whereas the side that faces the Sun can reach temperatures of up to 700 K (427° C), while the side in shadow dips down to 100 K (-173° C).

Venus’ Atmosphere:

Surface observations of Venus have been difficult in the past, due to its extremely dense atmosphere, which is composed primarily of carbon dioxide with a small amount of nitrogen. At 92 bar (9.2 MPa), the atmospheric mass is 93 times that of Earth’s atmosphere and the pressure at the planet’s surface is about 92 times that at Earth’s surface.

Venus is also the hottest planet in our Solar System, with a mean surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C/863.6 °F). This is due to the CO²-rich atmosphere which, along with thick clouds of sulfur dioxide, generates the strongest greenhouse effect in the Solar System. Above the dense CO² layer, thick clouds consisting mainly of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid droplets scatter about 90% of the sunlight back into space.

Another common phenomena is Venus’ strong winds, which reach speeds of up to 85 m/s (300 km/h; 186.4 mph) at the cloud tops and circle the planet every four to five Earth days. At this speed, these winds move up to 60 times the speed of the planet’s rotation, whereas Earth’s fastest winds are only 10-20% of the planet’s rotational speed.

Venus flybys have also indicated that its dense clouds are capable of producing lightning, much like the clouds on Earth. Their intermittent appearance indicates a pattern associated with weather activity, and the lightning rate is at least half of that on Earth.

Earth’s Atmosphere:

Earth’s atmosphere, which is composed of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide and other trace gases, also consists of five layers. These consists of the Troposphere, the Stratosphere, the Mesosphere, the Thermosphere, and the Exosphere. As a rule, air pressure and density decrease the higher one goes into the atmosphere and the farther one is from the surface.

 

Closest to the Earth is the Troposphere, which extends from the 0 to between 12 km and 17 km (0 to 7 and 10.56 mi) above the surface. This layer contains roughly 80% of the mass of Earth’s atmosphere, and nearly all atmospheric water vapor or moisture is found in here as well. As a result, it is the layer where most of Earth’s weather takes place.

The Stratosphere extends from the Troposphere to an altitude of 50 km (31 mi). This layer extends from the top of the troposphere to the stratopause, which is at an altitude of about 50 to 55 km (31 to 34 mi). This layer of the atmosphere is home to the ozone layer, which is the part of Earth’s atmosphere that contains relatively high concentrations of ozone gas.

Space Shuttle Endeavour sillouetted against the atmosphere. The orange layer is the troposphere, the white layer is the stratosphere and the blue layer the mesosphere.[1] (The shuttle is actually orbiting at an altitude of more than 320 km (200 mi), far above all three layers.) Credit: NASA
Space Shuttle Endeavour sillouetted against the atmosphere. The orange layer is the troposphere, the white layer is the stratosphere and the blue layer the mesosphere. Credit: NASA

Next is the Mesosphere, which extends from a distance of 50 to 80 km (31 to 50 mi) above sea level. It is the coldest place on Earth and has an average temperature of around -85 °C (-120 °F; 190 K). The Thermosphere, the second highest layer of the atmosphere, extends from an altitude of about 80 km (50 mi) up to the thermopause, which is at an altitude of 500–1000 km (310–620 mi).

The lower part of the thermosphere, from 80 to 550 kilometers (50 to 342 mi), contains the ionosphere – which is so named because it is here in the atmosphere that particles are ionized by solar radiation.  This layer is completely cloudless and free of water vapor. It is also at this altitude that the phenomena known as Aurora Borealis and Aurara Australis are known to take place.

The Exosphere, which is outermost layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, extends from the exobase – located at the top of the thermosphere at an altitude of about 700 km above sea level – to about 10,000 km (6,200 mi). The exosphere merges with the emptiness of outer space, and is mainly composed of extremely low densities of hydrogen, helium and several heavier molecules including nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide

The exosphere is located too far above Earth for any meteorological phenomena to be possible. However, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis sometimes occur in the lower part of the exosphere, where they overlap into the thermosphere.

This photo of the aurora was taken by astronaut Doug Wheelock from the International Space Station on July 25, 2010. Credit: Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Photo of the aurora taken by astronaut Doug Wheelock from the International Space Station on July 25, 2010. Credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center

The average surface temperature on Earth is approximately 14°C; but as already noted, this varies. For instance, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 70.7°C (159°F), which was taken in the Lut Desert of Iran. Meanwhile, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was measured at the Soviet Vostok Station on the Antarctic Plateau, reaching an historic low of -89.2°C (-129°F).

Mars’ Atmosphere:

Planet Mars has a very thin atmosphere which is composed of 96% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon and 1.89% nitrogen along with traces of oxygen and water. The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing particulates that measure 1.5 micrometers in diameter, which is what gives the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface. Mars’ atmospheric pressure ranges from 0.4 – 0.87 kPa, which is equivalent to about 1% of Earth’s at sea level.

 

Because of its thin atmosphere, and its greater distance from the Sun, the surface temperature of Mars is much colder than what we experience here on Earth. The planet’s average temperature is -46 °C (51 °F), with a low of -143 °C (-225.4 °F) during the winter at the poles, and a high of 35 °C (95 °F) during summer and midday at the equator.

The planet also experiences dust storms, which can turn into what resembles small tornadoes. Larger dust storms occur when the dust is blown into the atmosphere and heats up from the Sun. The warmer dust filled air rises and the winds get stronger, creating storms that can measure up to thousands of kilometers in width and last for months at a time. When they get this large, they can actually block most of the surface from view.

Mars, as it appears today, Credit: NASA
Mars, as it appears today, with a very thin and tenuous atmosphere. Credit: NASA

Trace amounts of methane have also been detected in the Martian atmosphere, with an estimated concentration of about 30 parts per billion (ppb). It occurs in extended plumes, and the profiles imply that the methane was released from specific regions – the first of which is located between Isidis and Utopia Planitia (30°N 260°W) and the second in Arabia Terra (0°N 310°W).

Ammonia was also tentatively detected on Mars by the Mars Express satellite, but with a relatively short lifetime. It is not clear what produced it, but volcanic activity has been suggested as a possible source.

Jupiter’s Atmosphere:

Much like Earth, Jupiter experiences auroras near its northern and southern poles. But on Jupiter, the auroral activity is much more intense and rarely ever stops. The intense radiation, Jupiter’s magnetic field, and the abundance of material from Io’s volcanoes that react with Jupiter’s ionosphere create a light show that is truly spectacular.

Jupiter also experiences violent weather patterns. Wind speeds of 100 m/s (360 km/h) are common in zonal jets, and can reach as high as 620 kph (385 mph). Storms form within hours and can become thousands of km in diameter overnight. One storm, the Great Red Spot, has been raging since at least the late 1600s. The storm has been shrinking and expanding throughout its history; but in 2012, it was suggested that the Giant Red Spot might eventually disappear.

Jupiter is perpetually covered with clouds composed of ammonia crystals and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide. These clouds are located in the tropopause and are arranged into bands of different latitudes, known as “tropical regions”. The cloud layer is only about 50 km (31 mi) deep, and consists of at least two decks of clouds: a thick lower deck and a thin clearer region.

There may also be a thin layer of water clouds underlying the ammonia layer, as evidenced by flashes of lightning detected in the atmosphere of Jupiter, which would be caused by the water’s polarity creating the charge separation needed for lightning. Observations of these electrical discharges indicate that they can be up to a thousand times as powerful as those observed here on the Earth.

 

Saturn’s Atmosphere:

The outer atmosphere of Saturn contains 96.3% molecular hydrogen and 3.25% helium by volume. The gas giant is also known to contain heavier elements, though the proportions of these relative to hydrogen and helium is not known. It is assumed that they would match the primordial abundance from the formation of the Solar System.

Trace amounts of ammonia, acetylene, ethane, propane, phosphine and methane have been also detected in Saturn’s atmosphere. The upper clouds are composed of ammonia crystals, while the lower level clouds appear to consist of either ammonium hydrosulfide (NH4SH) or water. Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun causes methane photolysis in the upper atmosphere, leading to a series of hydrocarbon chemical reactions with the resulting products being carried downward by eddies and diffusion.

Saturn’s atmosphere exhibits a banded pattern similar to Jupiter’s, but Saturn’s bands are much fainter and wider near the equator. As with Jupiter’s cloud layers, they are divided into the upper and lower layers, which vary in composition based on depth and pressure. In the upper cloud layers, with temperatures in range of 100–160 K and pressures between 0.5–2 bar, the clouds consist of ammonia ice.

Water ice clouds begin at a level where the pressure is about 2.5 bar and extend down to 9.5 bar, where temperatures range from 185–270 K. Intermixed in this layer is a band of ammonium hydrosulfide ice, lying in the pressure range 3–6 bar with temperatures of 290–235 K. Finally, the lower layers, where pressures are between 10–20 bar and temperatures are 270–330 K, contains a region of water droplets with ammonia in an aqueous solution.

On occasion, Saturn’s atmosphere exhibits long-lived ovals, similar to what is commonly observed on Jupiter. Whereas Jupiter has the Great Red Spot, Saturn periodically has what’s known as the Great White Spot (aka. Great White Oval). This unique but short-lived phenomenon occurs once every Saturnian year, roughly every 30 Earth years, around the time of the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice.

These spots can be several thousands of kilometers wide, and have been observed in 1876, 1903, 1933, 1960, and 1990. Since 2010, a large band of white clouds called the Northern Electrostatic Disturbance have been observed enveloping Saturn, which was spotted by the Cassini space probe. If the periodic nature of these storms is maintained, another one will occur in about 2020.

The winds on Saturn are the second fastest among the Solar System’s planets, after Neptune’s. Voyager data indicate peak easterly winds of 500 m/s (1800 km/h). Saturn’s northern and southern poles have also shown evidence of stormy weather. At the north pole, this takes the form of a hexagonal wave pattern, whereas the south shows evidence of a massive jet stream.

The persisting hexagonal wave pattern around the north pole was first noted in the Voyager images. The sides of the hexagon are each about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long (which is longer than the diameter of the Earth) and the structure rotates with a period of 10h 39m 24s, which is assumed to be equal to the period of rotation of Saturn’s interior.

 

The south pole vortex, meanwhile, was first observed using the Hubble Space Telescope. These images indicated the presence of a jet stream, but not a hexagonal standing wave. These storms are estimated to be generating winds of 550 km/h, are comparable in size to Earth, and believed to have been going on for billions of years. In 2006, the Cassini space probe observed a hurricane-like storm that had a clearly defined eye. Such storms had not been observed on any planet other than Earth – even on Jupiter.

Uranus’ Atmosphere:

As with Earth, the atmosphere of Uranus is broken into layers, depending upon temperature and pressure. Like the other gas giants, the planet doesn’t have a firm surface, and scientists define the surface as the region where the atmospheric pressure exceeds one bar (the pressure found on Earth at sea level). Anything accessible to remote-sensing capability – which extends down to roughly 300 km below the 1 bar level – is also considered to be the atmosphere.

Diagram of the interior of Uranus. Credit: Public Domain
Diagram of the interior of Uranus. Credit: Public Domain

Using these references points, Uranus’  atmosphere can be divided into three layers. The first is the troposphere, between altitudes of -300 km below the surface and 50 km above it, where pressures range from 100 to 0.1 bar (10 MPa to 10 kPa). The second layer is the stratosphere, which reaches between 50 and 4000 km and experiences pressures between 0.1 and 10-10 bar (10 kPa to 10 µPa).

The troposphere is the densest layer in Uranus’ atmosphere. Here, the temperature ranges from 320 K (46.85 °C/116 °F) at the base (-300 km) to 53 K (-220 °C/-364 °F) at 50 km, with the upper region being the coldest in the solar system. The tropopause region is responsible for the vast majority of Uranus’s thermal infrared emissions, thus determining its effective temperature of 59.1 ± 0.3 K.

Within the troposphere are layers of clouds – water clouds at the lowest pressures, with ammonium hydrosulfide clouds above them. Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide clouds come next. Finally, thin methane clouds lay on the top.

In the stratosphere, temperatures range from 53 K (-220 °C/-364 °F) at the upper level to between 800 and 850 K (527 – 577 °C/980 – 1070 °F) at the base of the thermosphere, thanks largely to heating caused by solar radiation. The stratosphere contains ethane smog, which may contribute to the planet’s dull appearance. Acetylene and methane are also present, and these hazes help warm the stratosphere.

Uranus. Image credit: Hubble
Uranus, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/Hubble

The outermost layer, the thermosphere and corona, extend from 4,000 km to as high as 50,000 km from the surface. This region has a uniform temperature of 800-850 (577 °C/1,070 °F), although scientists are unsure as to the reason. Because the distance to Uranus from the Sun is so great, the amount of sunlight absorbed cannot be the primary cause.

Like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus’s weather follows a similar pattern where systems are broken up into bands that rotate around the planet, which are driven by internal heat rising to the upper atmosphere. As a result, winds on Uranus can reach up to 900 km/h (560 mph), creating massive storms like the one spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2012. Similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, this “Dark Spot” was a giant cloud vortex that measured 1,700 kilometers by 3,000 kilometers (1,100 miles by 1,900 miles).

 

Neptune’s Atmosphere:

At high altitudes, Neptune’s atmosphere is 80% hydrogen and 19% helium, with a trace amount of methane. As with Uranus, this absorption of red light by the atmospheric methane is part of what gives Neptune its blue hue, although Neptune’s is darker and more vivid. Because Neptune’s atmospheric methane content is similar to that of Uranus, some unknown constituent is thought to contribute to Neptune’s more intense coloring.

Neptune’s atmosphere is subdivided into two main regions: the lower troposphere (where temperature decreases with altitude), and the stratosphere (where temperature increases with altitude). The boundary between the two, the tropopause, lies at a pressure of 0.1 bars (10 kPa). The stratosphere then gives way to the thermosphere at a pressure lower than 10-5 to 10-4 microbars (1 to 10 Pa), which gradually transitions to the exosphere.

Neptune’s spectra suggest that its lower stratosphere is hazy due to condensation of products caused by the interaction of ultraviolet radiation and methane (i.e. photolysis), which produces compounds such as ethane and ethyne. The stratosphere is also home to trace amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, which are responsible for Neptune’s stratosphere being warmer than that of Uranus.

In this image, the colors and contrasts were modified to emphasize the planet’s atmospheric features. The winds in Neptune’s atmosphere can reach the speed of sound or more. Neptune’s Great Dark Spot stands out as the most prominent feature on the left. Several features, including the fainter Dark Spot 2 and the South Polar Feature, are locked to the planet’s rotation, which allowed Karkoschka to precisely determine how long a day lasts on Neptune. (Image: Erich Karkoschka)
A modified color/contrast image emphasizing Neptune’s atmospheric features, including wind speed. Credit Erich Karkoschka)

For reasons that remain obscure, the planet’s thermosphere experiences unusually high temperatures of about 750 K (476.85 °C/890 °F). The planet is too far from the Sun for this heat to be generated by ultraviolet radiation, which means another heating mechanism is involved – which could be the atmosphere’s interaction with ion’s in the planet’s magnetic field, or gravity waves from the planet’s interior that dissipate in the atmosphere.

Because Neptune is not a solid body, its atmosphere undergoes differential rotation. The wide equatorial zone rotates with a period of about 18 hours, which is slower than the 16.1-hour rotation of the planet’s magnetic field. By contrast, the reverse is true for the polar regions where the rotation period is 12 hours.

 

This differential rotation is the most pronounced of any planet in the Solar System, and results in strong latitudinal wind shear and violent storms. The three most impressive were all spotted in 1989 by the Voyager 2 space probe, and then named based on their appearances.

The first to be spotted was a massive anticyclonic storm measuring 13,000 x 6,600 km and resembling the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. Known as the Great Dark Spot, this storm was not spotted five later (Nov. 2nd, 1994) when the Hubble Space Telescope looked for it. Instead, a new storm that was very similar in appearance was found in the planet’s northern hemisphere, suggesting that these storms have a shorter life span than Jupiter’s.

Reconstruction of Voyager 2 images showing the Great Black spot (top left), Scooter (middle), and the Small Black Spot (lower right). Credit: NASA/JPL
Reconstruction of Voyager 2 images showing the Great Black spot (top left), Scooter (middle), and the Small Black Spot (lower right). Credit: NASA/JPL

The Scooter is another storm, a white cloud group located farther south than the Great Dark Spot – a nickname that first arose during the months leading up to the Voyager 2 encounter in 1989. The Small Dark Spot, a southern cyclonic storm, was the second-most-intense storm observed during the 1989 encounter. It was initially completely dark; but as Voyager 2 approached the planet, a bright core developed and could be seen in most of the highest-resolution images.

In sum, the planet’s of our Solar System all have atmospheres of sorts. And compared to Earth’s relatively balmy and thick atmosphere, they run the gamut between very very thin to very very dense. They also range in temperatures from the extremely hot (like on Venus) to the extreme freezing cold.

And when it comes to weather systems, things can equally extreme, with planet’s boasting either weather at all, or intense cyclonic and dust storms that put storms here n Earth to shame. And whereas some are entirely hostile to life as we know it, others we might be able to work with.

We have many interesting articles about planetary atmosphere’s here at Universe Today. For instance, he’s What is the Atmosphere?, and articles about the atmosphere of MercuryVenusMarsJupiterSaturnUranus and Neptune,

For more information on atmospheres, check out NASA’s pages on Earth’s Atmospheric LayersThe Carbon Cycle, and how Earth’s atmosphere differs from space.

Astronomy Cast has an episode on the source of the atmosphere.

Source: This article was published universetoday.com By Matt Williams

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