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Thanks to Google Maps, hundreds of tourists got to visit a tiny, idyllic town in Norway. The problem? They were all 19 miles away from where they needed to be.

Categorized in Search Engine

Jim Yong Kim said rising broadband access had created a world where "keeping up with the Jones's" meant those in the developing world were comparing their lives with those in advanced economies.

Technology and the internet could fuel a fresh migration surge from developing countries as robots and automation destroy millions of low-skilled jobs, according to the president of the World Bank.Jim Yong Kim said rising broadband access had created a world where "keeping up with the Jones's" meant those in the developing world were comparing their lives with those in advanced economies.While these rising aspirations had led to "dynamism" and "inclusive, sustainable growth" when accompanied by local opportunities, Mr Kim said it also risked creating a generation of "frustrated" workers.

"The evidence is very good that if you get access to broadband, overall satisfaction goes up, but the likelihood of wanting to migrate also goes up, and it goes up pretty dramatically. So seeing how other people live directly makes you want to migrate more," said Mr Kim."

It used to be that keeping up with the Jones's used to be about keeping up with your neighbours, but now the Jones's can be everywhere in the world."

Mr Kim said income growth expectations tended to increase as people realised the opportunities open to them.

 

"Aspirations linked to opportunity leads to dynamism and growth in the economy, but aspirations linked to lack of opportunity lead to frustration and there's some very suggestive research that makes us extremely worried."

As aspirations rise, more and more people get frustrated because the kinds of jobs that are available - certainly low skilled ones are going to be gone," he said.

average

 

"The traditional path to economic development, where you go from agriculture to light manufacturing to industrialisation, the path that Korea followed, that China followed, that so many countries followed, is not going to be open to huge numbers of low income countries today.

 

"So you're seeing the possibility that if broadband access becomes global quickly, then you can see reference incomes go up pretty dramatically which means that it makes our development task much much more urgent."Mr Kim stressed that technological developments had benefited the global economy, including those in developing countries.

labour share of income

He said organisations like the World Bank could use their ability to borrow at low interest rates on financial markets to help private sector companies to invest and create jobs.

Overseas development aid has fallen in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, as countries such as Germany use foreign aid money to cope with an influx of refugees from Syria, said Mr Kim.

He said that, with the exception of the UK, many countries had not increased their overseas development aid to countries he believed were most vulnerable to globalisation.

"Those of us in the development field have to have a much greater sense of urgency - we have to wake up to rising aspirations, we have to do something differently [and] let the private sector take on the things that are commercially viable."

 

Growth strengthening

Mr Kim said global growth was likely to strengthen over the next two years amid a brighter outlook in advanced and emerging economies.

He said there were “bright signs” appearing around the world as emerging markets recover from a commodity slump and growth in Europe shows signs of gathering momentum.


The World Bank chief also said he was “encouraged” by his conversations with President Donald Trump, despite signs that support for international financial institutions like the the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are waning under the new administration.


Mr Kim added that “question marks” remained over the direction of the US economy under Mr Trump, even though world growth, which is forecast at 2.7pc this year, was likely to “go up again in 2018”.


The World Bank predicted growth of 2.9pc next year at its most recent forecast in January.


Mr Kim said the outlook would be influenced by tax and spending decisions made by Mr Trump, noting that the “exuberance” displayed by markets and economic surveys in the wake of his election victory has been tempered in recent weeks.


“With US growth there’s still a question mark. There was a lot of exuberance at first and it’s a bit tempered now. But if Mr Trump is serious about investments in infrastructure - I know they’re having very in depth discussions about just how to do that - you can see the US continuing to perform.”


He said the European Union was also “doing better”, even as Brexit was likely to pose a downside risk to the bloc.


In a separate speech at the London School of Economics last night, Mr Kim said organisations like the World Bank had to do more to encourage private sector investment and not “crowd out” finance from businesses and individuals.


He said large organisations had to steer away from “low hanging fruit” and help to foster ambitious goals to create more jobs, boost growth and ensure low income countries were protected as technological developments destroy millions of jobs.


While the World Bank is perceived as a lender to developing countries, he said it needed to play the role of an investor.


“This is a no brainer, and the only way we’re going to get the resources we need to support the aspirations out there.”


Mr Trump’s nomination of Adam Lerrick as the next Treasury assistant secretary for international finance signalled that bodies like the World Bank will be scrutinised more carefully.


However, Mr Kim, who has met with Mr Trump as well as his advisers, including Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs chief, said: “They’re very interested in the possibility of working with us on issues that they care about.


“We’ve been really encouraged by our conversations with the Trump administration, so we’ll see what happens. I don’t think you really know what they’re going to come out with on any single issue yet because they’re just voraciously learning how government works.”

Author: Szu Ping Chan
Source: telegraph.co.uk

Categorized in Science & Tech

Business school INSEAD has released its annual "Global Talent Competiveness Index" (GTCI), an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.High ranking countries share key traits, including educational systems that meet the needs of the economy, employment policies that favour flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurship.In a list dominated by European countries, Nordic states perform particularly well, taking three of the 9 top spots.Take a look at the countries which made the top of the ranking.

9. Finland — The northern European state comes first overall for formal education, ranking highly in its ability to home-grow business talent as a result. Its business environment also ranks highly (6th overall), led by a very strong regulatory landscape.

9. Finland — The northern European state comes first overall for formal education, ranking highly in its ability to home-grow business talent as a result. Its business environment also ranks highly (6th overall), led by a very strong regulatory landscape.

8. Denmark — The Scandinavian country comes 3rd overall both for its business environment and ability to home-grow talent. Its formal education system is also among the best in the world, coming 6th overall.

 

8. Denmark — The Scandinavian country comes 3rd overall both for its business environment and ability to home-grow talent. Its formal education system is also among the best in the world, coming 6th overall.

7. Luxembourg — The landlocked Western European country has slipped from 3rd place in 2016 to 7th this year, but remains a top country for its ability to attract global talent. Luxembourg also excels at retaining its domestic talent (3rd overall) thanks to its international reputation as a hub of industry and finance.

7. Luxembourg — The landlocked Western European country has slipped from 3rd place in 2016 to 7th this year, but remains a top country for its ability to attract global talent. Luxembourg also excels at retaining its domestic talent (3rd overall) thanks to its international reputation as a hub of industry and finance.

6. Australia — One of the top countries in terms of attracting talent from abroad (6th), Australia has the large pool of high-level management skills necessary for a business-competitive country. Its formal education (4th overall) is among the best in the world.

6. Australia — One of the top countries in terms of attracting talent from abroad (6th), Australia has the large pool of high-level management skills necessary for a business-competitive country. Its formal education (4th overall) is among the best in the world.

5. Sweden — Sweden excels at retaining talent, coming 4th overall in the sub-index. With good formal education and good lifelong access to educational courses, the country's workforce possesses a pool of vocational and technical skills, as well as high-level business management skills.

 

5. Sweden — Sweden excels at retaining talent, coming 4th overall in the sub-index. With good formal education and good lifelong access to educational courses, the country's workforce possesses a pool of vocational and technical skills, as well as high-level business management skills.

4. United States — Due largely to its leading network of universities, the US comes second overall in the "Growth" sub-index, which measures a country's ability to grow talent through university courses, apprenticeships, and other training.

4. United States — Due largely to its leading network of universities, the US comes second overall in the "Growth" sub-index, which measures a country's ability to grow talent through university courses, apprenticeships, and other training.

3. United Kingdom — The UK performs well across the board except in the vocational and technical skills of its workforce. It is an attractor of talent with good external openness, although the report notes this could change after Brexit.

3. United Kingdom — The UK performs well across the board except in the vocational and technical skills of its workforce. It is an attractor of talent with good external openness, although the report notes this could change after Brexit.

2. Singapore — The sovereign city-state in southeast Asia ranks 1st for its business environment and ability to attract top-level global talent, with high scores across the rest of the measures too.

2. Singapore — The sovereign city-state in southeast Asia ranks 1st for its business environment and ability to attract top-level global talent, with high scores across the rest of the measures too.

1. Switzerland — The central European country comes at the top overall due to its strong performance across all pillars of the GTCI model, in particular showing an excellent capacity to attract and retain talent. It lags behind in gender equality variables, however.

1. Switzerland — The central European country comes at the top overall due to its strong performance across all pillars of the GTCI model, in particular showing an excellent capacity to attract and retain talent. It lags behind in gender equality variables, however.

Author: Thomas Colson
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/insead-global-competitiveness-index-2016-ranking-of-cities-to-do-business-in-2017-1/#9-finland-the-northern-european-state-comes-first-overall-for-formal-education-ranking-highly-in-its-ability-to-home-grow-business-talent-as-a-result-its-business-environment-also-ranks-highly-6th-overall-led-by-a-very-strong-regulatory-landscape-1

Categorized in Business Research

Google is everywhere on the internet. We use Google to complete web searches. YouTube is our favorite destination for videos that are distracting and educational alike. Chrome is many people’s favorite browser, and Android is many people’s favorite mobile operating system. Google’s infrastructure underlies millions of popular websites worldwide. And over the years, Google has amassed a huge amount of information about what we search, what we read, the websites we visit, and even the locations we frequent.

There are some undeniably great things about Google. (Need an example? We’re big fans of the Google Pixel and the new Google Assistant.) But Google’s world domination also has some not-so-great effects for the average internet user. Ahead, you can check out some ways that Google’s ubiquity online is annoying, or even creepy. You may never look at the Google homepage the same way again.

1. Google tracks everything you do online

Couple shopping online on their laptop

Google (and advertisers) know who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you’re most likely to buy. That’s because the company tracks just about everything you do online. As Becca Caddy reports for Wired, the company saves all of your web searches, plus stores every voice search. (It can track the pages you visit even when you aren’t signed into a Google account through the use of cookies, plus information gathered by Google AdSense and Google Analytics.) It tracks and records your location. Google also scans your emails. To use Google’s apps, whether you’re on Android or on the iPhone, you have to be OK with the company tracking everything you say and do. 

 

2. Most people are monitored by Google — and don’t know it

woman and man at home typing on laptops

Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology wrote for U.S. News several years ago that Google monitors “perhaps upwards of 90 percent of internet users worldwide — whether they use a Google product or not, and most people have no idea they’re being monitored.” Google’s tracking activities are extensive. And they’re enabled not only by the company’s search engine, its Chrome browser, and its Android operating system, but also by products like Google Analytics, Google AdSense, and Google AdWords. All of the information Google collects over time enables the company to build a detailed file on your interests, preferences, beliefs, and problems.  

3. Google may not know your name (at first) but will figure it out

Businessman or designer using laptop computer

Epstein also reports even if Google doesn’t know your name, it can still track your searches with codes, like your IP address, that are unique to your computer or to your specific location. And Google installs an identifier cookie on your computer that makes you easier to track. “Through cross-referencing, the company can eventually find your name, address, and telephone number, too.” As Jeffrey Rosen reported for the New York Times a few years ago, real privacy threats arise when Google and advertisers know who you are. “Computers can link our digital profiles with our real identities so precisely that it will soon be hard to claim that the profiles are anonymous in any meaningful sense.” If Google collects enough information on you, it’s likely to discover information that could lead to harm if it were revealed.  

 

4. It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to use email without being tracked by Google

Azerty keyboard of a laptop computer

If you use Gmail, it’s a given that Google will track all of your messages. It will scan the messages you send, the addresses of the people you’re emailing, plus your incoming messages. Additionally, it doesn’t ever erase its copies of messages you sent, drafts you decided not to send, and incomplete messages you didn’t even save as a draft. But because Google’s servers are used to route the emails of thousands of other companies, many emails that aren’t even sent from or to a Gmail address are scanned by Google. Which means that if you’re using email — any kind of email — chances are good Google is watching you. 

5. Google dominates not only as a search engine, but as part of the infrastructure of countless websites

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016

More than half of the world’s most popular websites use Google Analytics to collect information about their visitors. Millions of website owners use Google AdSense to try to monetize their sites. And many even use Google AdWords to scatter ads throughout text-based content. Google often gets information on you when you simply load a page containing such software. That’s one of the creepiest consequences of Google’s world domination. Even if you aren’t using any Google products directly, the company’s software is ubiquitous enough that it’s still able to track everything you do.

 

6. Google knows what you’re reading and doing online

Hand touching digital tablet

In case you hadn’t realized it yet, Google is paying close attention to the websites you visit and the publications you read when you’re online. For that reason, there are plenty of things you should never search on Google — at least if you don’t want to reveal some pretty personal information to Google and to the scores of companies who advertise with Google. Googling queries about medical issues or drugs, for instance, can make it easy for advertisers to figure out if you have specific health issues (which has some pretty creepy implications).

7. Other companies’ browsers tell Google what websites you’re visiting

student studying

You’d think if you aren’t using Google’s search engine to find a website and you’re not using Google Chrome, then Google can’t spy on what websites you’re visiting, right? Wrong. Epstein reports other companies’ browsers, including Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari, use a Google blacklist to check whether the site you’re visiting is dangerous. That doesn’t sound so bad. After all, it sounds harmless to check the safety of the websites you’re navigating to. But in the process, those browsers are telling Google what websites you’re visiting. 

 

8. Google even knows information you wouldn’t share with other people

Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

A disconcerting side effect of Google’s world domination? The company probably knows some information about you that you wouldn’t readily share with other people. For instance, you might find it disconcerting to learn that Google probably knew how you were voting in the recent presidential election. Contrary to what you might find on Facebook, not everybody wants to share their political views with the world. So it’s at least a little bit creepy that a giant search engine could easily have that information. 

9. Google has even more information about you if you’re an Android user

woman using smartphone and smilling

Google probably wants everybody to have an Android phone. That probably doesn’t sound bad if you’re already a fan of Android. (Though it might make for a pretty boring smartphone landscape.) But using an Android phone or tablet opens you up to even more tracking by Google — something you might not think about when you’re comparing your options at Best Buy or at your carrier’s store. Of particular interest on Android is the operating system’s ability to track your location. Even its backup utility is cause for concern, as it gives Google access to a lot more information about you than you might assume.

10. Trying to delete yourself from the internet? You’ll need a Google account

smiling man using a laptop

This one isn’t technically Google’s fault, but it’s definitely a strange result of Google’s world domination. The internet collectively raised its hands in praise upon the arrival of Swedish website Deseat.me, which helps you clean up your internet presence or remove yourself almost entirely from the internet. But you’ll need to use your Google account to bring up your online and social media accounts. 

11. You can replace most Google services — with the exception of YouTube

laptop in girl's hands sitting on wooden floor with coffee

Joshua J. Romero reported years ago for IEEE Spectrum that he embarked on a “quest to quit the most pervasive company on the web” and find alternatives to the Google services he had been using. As you might imagine, there are competing alternatives for almost all of Google’s apps, services, and platforms. But there’s one notable exception: YouTube. As Romero explained, “There was one Google service that I found I could just not live without, no matter how hard I tried: YouTube.” He continues, “It’s easy to take YouTube for granted because it’s been hyped in the press for years. There are other video sites, of course, but the depth, breadth, and ubiquity of YouTube became conspicuous every time I watched another video.”

12. It takes some pretty major steps to stop Google from tracking you

Mother And Son In Kitchen Looking At Laptop

If you want to delve into the settings for your Google account, there are plenty of small steps that you can take to control the search engine giant’s access to information about you and your activity. But as Zach Epstein reports for BGR, the best way to get Google to stop tracking you is to use a VPN. Using a VPN isn’t hard, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. (A VPN, for those of you who are unfamiliar, just routes your web traffic through a third party server in order to protect your identity and your information.) VPNs are usually pretty easy to set up and to use. But it’s still pretty disheartening that Google’s tracking is pervasive enough to make a VPN a necessity for avoiding it.

Author: Jess Bolluyt
Source: http://www.cheatsheet.com/gear-style/ways-googles-world-domination-is-downright-creepy.html/?a=viewall

Categorized in Search Engine

You don’t need to worry anymore about internet at the airport. A brilliant single map can ease your pain.

Travel blogger Anil Polat perhaps knows the pain of wheeling a suitcase around an airport, hunting for Wi-Fi.

To combat this nightmare, he’s devised an interactive, regularly updated map of Wi-Fi passwords in airports around the world.

HERE IT IS

 

map

Simply click on the plane that corresponds with the airport you’re going to, and the map will tell you if there’s Wi-Fi there and what’s its password. ENJOY

 

Author: Azhar Khan
Source: http://arynews.tv/en/this-map-tells-you-wi-fi-passwords-for-airports-around-the-world

Categorized in Others

If there's a word that describes the retail space in 2016, it's change. Change in technology, tools and best practices. And, (no surprise), 2017 promises more of same.

Here are five trends destined to make retailing more effective and profitable in 2017.

Multi-channel data integration

After using data analytics for several years, retailers are getting a clear idea of the benefits that high-volume, high-speed data analytics can provide. Unlimited computing capacity in the cloud and advanced analytics enable retailers to overcome a familiar challenge: collecting and analyzing huge volumes of different types of data (databases, social media and instant messages, reports).

More recent developments show by using data analytics software, retailers can unify online and offline data by:

  • Extracting data from different places such as legacy systems and database platforms on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Using new sources of data from commerce, supply chain and customer channels.
  • Integrating conventional retail information and data from new channels with company ERP, order management and warehousing software.
  • Delivering useful operations suggestions quickly enough to capture business opportunities as they occur. Modern data analytics software can cut the time from weeks to minutes.

Modern retail analytics software packages customer and supply chain data and trends in a single view of what's going on. Putting all relevant data into a form that's easy to understand and use helps business users set up operational and promotional strategies and continue to improve efficiency and performance.

 

Predictive data analytics

Every retailer wants to have the right products available to customers at the right place and time. Making this happen, however, is not an easy matter.

Data analytics provides retailers with a better understanding of their current business.Predictive analytics provides retailers with a look into the future.

Until recently, retailers had to rely on insights gained from their own experience and retailing skill, analyst forecasts and customer feedback. But it all added up to high-quality educated guessing.

Predictive analytics uses mountains of data, which retailers already have, and a wide array of technologies and approaches (statistical modeling, data mining and other techniques) to analyze and project the likely outcome of future events and consumer behavior.

The biggest business value of predictive analytics is its ability to help retailers stay ahead of the expectations of discerning, tech-savvy consumers. This includes:

  • Delivering a better shopping experience. That is, enabling customers to shop whenever and wherever they want in an attractive, no-worries environment, in the store or online.
  • Getting a clearer view of customers. This includes a 360-degree view of customers and click-stream analysis.
  • Merchandizing and planning. Add real-time promotions, demand forecasting, pricing and markdown optimization and out-of-stock analysis and management.

One of the biggest changes in retail analytics lies in where all this data comes from.

 

Internet of Things in retail

Pioneering major retailers are scrambling to collect and analyze data from the Internet of Things. Customers provide useful IoT data by using and connecting to smartphones, tablets and wearables. Brick-and-mortar stores use IoT data generated by digital signage and other in-store sensors and devices.

Together, these sources generate massive data stores that describe customer behavior. Retailers use this data to make decisions and create sales strategies for their brick and mortar stores and distribution centers.

Innovative uses of IoT data and technology enable retailers to:

  • Customize a shopper's in-store experience. Increasingly, customers expect personalized service. Data collected from in-store IoT devices and the shopping history of connected consumers enable retailers to create a shopping profile of each customer. IoT data analysis discovers shopping patterns that help retailers deliver a more customized shopping experience.
  • Make in-store operations more efficient. Data harvested from in-store, IoT-enabled smart cameras, beacons, and sensors provide store managers and employees with a deeper understanding of what does and doesn’t work well on the floor. For example, analysis of real-time location datafrom smartphone apps can be transformed into customer traffic patterns and buying behaviors. With this information, employees can be alerted to bottlenecks immediately and reduce customer wait times at the cashiers.
  • Improve inventory and supply chain management. Smart transportation management applications and demand-aware warehouse fulfillment are two ways to transform IoT data to into an understanding of what’s underperforming, overstocked or running out of stock at your store.
  • Take advantage of new revenue opportunities: Leading-edge retailers are using the IoT to find new methods of acquiring customers and increasing revenues. For example, beacons and Wi-Fi can create an in-store environment, in which customers engage in contests, meet-and-greet events and social media product reviews.

Self-service analytics software  

Not long ago, data analytics software users had to wait for reports designed and delivered by data analyst middlemen. When customers lobbied vendors for change, they got results. Business users got self-service applications that included easy-to-use dashboards and enabled direct queries. The software empowered business users to ask relevant questions and get answers—quickly—without data science degrees.

Specialized retail analytics software enables store managers and retail decision makers to:

  • Use easy-to-understand analytics methods on data relevant to their store.
  • Easily access, explore, and analyze data with just a few clicks
  • Quickly and easily engage with supply chain data.
  • Make decisions by analyzing products and merchandising methods.
  • Identify spending patterns and gain insight into customer behavior by choosing from a library of interactive visualizations.

Mobile to the rescue

We’ve all heard the complaint that customers enter brick-and-mortar stores with more product information than the staff. Equipping staff members with mobile devices linked to key internal applications and databases enables associates to personalize customer services and perform "save the sale" rescues with pricing, promotion and product information.

Author:  Ilan Hertz

Source:  http://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/blogs/data-analytics-and-the-changing-world-of-retail-in-2017

Categorized in Search Engine

Just before Thanksgiving this year, a coalition of meteorologists, climatologists, biologists, ecologists, and other researchers took up a new ritual of thankfulness: tweeting the small and large ways NASA data has helped them understand planet Earth, and attaching the hashtag #ThanksNASA.

For the most part, the scientists avoided mentioning politics or political figures. But context is everything. Bob Walker, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, had just told The Guardian that the incoming administration planned to strip NASA's earth science programs of funding.

"We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research," Walker told The Guardian's Oliver Milman. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission."

In the past, the Guardian story notes, Walker has described earth science as "politically correct environmental monitoring."

In reality, earth science goes far beyond direct climate change research — and includes everything from the health of oceans to the threat of devastating solar storms in the upper atmosphere.

Dozens of scientists, including the 13 researchers who spoke to Business Insider for this story and many more who reached out on Twitter and by email, said they were rattled and dismayed by the news.

Several said that cutting earth science would represent a radical change from the mission NASA has carried out for nearly six decades.

"If you go to the Space Act that founded NASA in 1958 and then was amended under President Reagan in 1985, the very first responsibility ascribed to NASA is to understand the Earth and the atmosphere," said Waleed Abdalati, who directs the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado and served as chief scientist at NASA from 2011-12.

"It shows up before putting people in space."

Indeed, it does. The beginning of Section 102(c) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 begins to lay out the role of NASA:

"(c) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

"(1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

"(2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;

"(3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies and living organisms through space."

 

So far, NASA has carried out that mission with gusto under six Republican administrations and five Democratic ones. The agency's trove of satellite data and analysis is the largest in the world and, critically, available freely on the internet for any scientist or interested person to access.

Some researchers said they didn't recognize how much NASA data they used until it was threatened they could lose it all.

"I started going back and trying to think about what I use in my day-to-day work," said Peter Gleick, a hydrologist who looks at the movement of water all over the world to understand and predict droughts and flooding. "The truth is, I didn't fully comprehend the incredible diversity of products that I use that originated with a NASA satellite or an observing platform or a data archive."

The notion of losing that, researchers told Business Insider, had seemed impossible — that is, until they read the news.

Just days before the Guardian piece with Walker's statement was published, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, who declined to be interviewed again for this story, told Business Insider that he thought NASA climate research was safe from political tampering because it was too intimately connected to the agency's other critical earth science missions.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to most people that earth science itself might be in jeopardy.

The end of an era?

arctic sea ice melting

The 2015 Arctic sea ice summertime minimum was 699,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, shown here as a gold line in this visual representation of a NASA analysis. NASA via Reuters

Walker's proposal would ax or redirect more than 34% of NASA's $5.2 billion 2017 science budget request, and almost 10% of its $18 billion overall budget request. This would spell an end to the period that researchers across the world and across a wide range of disciplines refer to simply as "the satellite era" — not the time since Sputnik launched, but the decades of high-quality, consistent, and regular data on the global environment from space.

Marshall Shepherd, who directs the University of Georgia's Department of Atmospheric Sciences and has worked on satellites for NASA in the past, said that the moment a satellite's sensor goes dark without another of the same type to replace it, crucial scientific information will be lost.

 

An unbroken record is necessary to understand how the past and present fit together, and to make firm judgments about the future.

"If you're trying to detect change in something, you need long and continuous uninterrupted records of things like the sea ice or sea level rise or Greenland's ice sheet," Shepherd said. "By shutting those off, you are literally shutting off your long-term record of the diagnostics of the planet."

goes r_spacecraft_sep

The NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite provides images of storms and helps predict weather forecasts, warnings, and longer-term forecasting. NASA

Julienne Stroeve, a researcher with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said those gaps would undermine our ability to make even basic judgments about the health of the planet.

"You need the [satellites] to consistently be processed with the same type of sensors over and over again to have a long-term data record, otherwise you have these data gaps and these long-term uncertainties, and you have no idea what the long-term changes really are," she said.

Looking for alternatives

It's all well and good that NASA has the most complete sources of earth science data in the world. But what's really important, researchers said, is how easy it is to access.

"This is not politically correct to say in Europe, but the US is much better than Europe about sharing data with the whole world," said Jon Saenz, a professor of applied physics at the University of the Basque Country in Spain.

Other agencies tend to tie up their data behind red tape and bureaucracy, Saenz said. He said that if he had to rely on the European Space Agency's limited, difficult-to-access data for his work checking climate model predictions against reality, he'd be "more or less blind" — particularly in the vast, uninhabited stretches of the globe like the Pacific, which are vital for understanding the world climate.

RPSAVz

Some scientists said that if the satellite era in their field ended, they would still be able to continue their work. Instead of satellites, they said, they would use a combination of often lower-quality, more difficult-to-access data from satellites operated by other countries and increased data collection at the ground level.

But that can be difficult and even dangerous work, often with much weaker and more uncertain results.

 

Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj is a glaciologist who operates a scientific outreach program in Nepal and analyzes lakes that form on melting glaciers high in the Himalayas. If those lakes grow too large or their natural dams become too weak, the dams can burst and flow down-mountain, threatening tens of thousands of lives.

Horodyskyj brings together images and measurements from NASA's Landsat satellites with observations taken on long hikes around the edges of glacial lakes to advise the Nepalese government on how to address the threat.

Without Landsat, "we would be flying blind," she told Business Insider. "We need those eyes in the sky to complement our ground efforts."

Juanita van Zyl is the geographic information system manager at a company called Manstrat in South Africa. She provides information to the South African government and other companies about droughts, wildfires, and grazing conditions in the country. She said she uses data from NASA to help her clients understand where to move resources.

"South Africa isn't a big country," she said. "But when we are in a drought situation like we are in now, the government can only give out so much money out to help subsistence farmers and commercial farmers. Remote sensing is tremendously important in telling them where to send money."

She said the state of the US presidential election in the spring led her to look for ways to build redundancy into her data sources.

"It's scary to think that something might happen and you won't have access to the data anymore," she said.

But — unique among scientists interviewed for this story — the data sets she studies happen to be replicated by a European data set called Copernicus. After some preparation efforts over the course of the last year, she said she's confident that if NASA earth science were to go dark tomorrow, she would be able to keep up a similar level of quality in her work.

No other scientist interviewed for this story said the same

'Like poking out your eyes while driving your car at high speed'

hurricane matthew carolina

North Carolina residents wade through floodwaters after Hurricane Matthew. Reuters

Some scientists said that without NASA earth science, it would likely be impossible for them to work. Huge swaths of the planet go entirely unmeasured on the ground. Only satellites have the bird's-eye view to place weather events in their full context.

 

Researchers said that entire fields of study would be left hobbled or unable to function without NASA earth science research and data. Here's a sampling:

Global rainfall

Steve Nesbitt, a researcher at the University of Illinois who works on a NASA mission to measure rainfall all over the world, said that without NASA data, he'd have nothing to study.

He could try to use ground measurements, he said, but it would be nowhere near as sufficient for the scope of his research.

"If you were to try to measure global precipitation on the ground — I mean currently I can fit all of the rain gauges on the globe in the area of about a basketball court," he said.

Farmers rely on Nesbitt and his colleagues' work to measure and model global rainfall to decide how to plant and water their crops. Businesses rely on it to make decisions about production. ("Things like 'How many snow shovels are we going to sell in Buffalo?'" he said.) The US and global transportation systems rely on a deep understanding of atmospheric conditions and long-term weather patterns.

Arctic sea ice

Stroeve, the NSIDC researcher, said that NASA satellites have been necessary to show how dramatically the Arctic has warmed and melted since the 1990s.

"You have one record-low sea-ice year after another," she said. "It doesn't fit long-term trends."

The work Stroeve and her colleagues have done over the span of decades is critical to understanding the radical transformation underway at the top of the world. And there are major economic and diplomatic consequences of those results, as countries and corporations vie for new shipping routes and exposed resources.

She said her work is to observe and report hard numbers on what's happening in the world, and that she finds it baffling that politicians would declare that task political.

The health of oceans

Ajit Subramaniam is a Columbia University professor who tracks microscopic plant life in the ocean.

Those tiny floating life-forms produce up to 40% of the world's oxygen and form the basis of the aquatic food web. Understand them, and you can make judgments about the health of a whole fishery. Satellites can track those microscopic plants by watching how the colors of the sea surface change. And Subramaniam said a satellite can examine in two minutes an area that a ship moving 10 mph would take 11 years to cover.

 

Without Subramaniam's research, fishers, governments, and conservation groups would lose necessary information about sea life. And deadly algae blooms, an increasingly serious threat to human life along coastlines, would become harder to spot and predict.

Sea level rise

Jokulsarlon Lagoon iceland glacier

Peter Neff, a glaciologist at the University of Rochester who travels regularly to the Antarctic, said ground observations would never tell you the full story of what's going on with ice sheets in that part of the world.

Unlike Arctic ice, which floats on water, Antarctic ice sits on land. If those ice sheets were to collapse, global sea levels could change dramatically.

On the surface, Antarctica's ice still looks pretty still and stable. But ice-penetrating NASA satellites and airplane-mounted sensors show that far below the surface, some are melting at a rate of hundreds of meters a year and risking collapse.

"We never thought these kinds of changes happen year to year," Neff said. "It's dumbfounding how much data NASA produces and how quickly they release it. They fly over an area and the next day the data is available."

Neff's research helps us understand the health of massive glaciers with behavior we still don't fully understand but that lock up enough water to drive up global sea levels on the order of meters, not inches.

And none of them would be able to do their work without NASA satellite data.

Other agencies can't pick up the slack

Walker, Trump's adviser who wants to shutter NASA earth science, told The Guardian that other US agencies would be able to pick up where NASA leaves off.

"My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing NASA programs," he said. "But future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary, but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr. Trump's decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science."

However, researchers familiar with US science initiatives said such a move wouldn't be feasible without massive expenses or losses in capability.

"You can't just send money over to another agency and expect them to be able to launch satellites," said Abdalati, the former NASA chief scientist. "There's an expertise that exists within NASA that isn't particularly portable. But if it were deemed necessary that the capability to go to some other agency, they'd have to move a lot more than the money."

 

Shepherd said that the problem has to do with the way institutions like NASA work.

"By shutting off NASA's earth sciences program, you are shutting off expertise, institutional knowledge of the Earth's system that cannot just be spun back up," he said. "It's not like training someone to cook burgers in a fast-food joint. You're talking about years and decades of expertise and technical knowledge. Brainware will be lost, and that is critical."

Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Tourists at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Thomson Reuters

Another problem is that NASA earth science is more than people — it's buildings, systems, and machines that are now woven into the framework of the space agency and could not cheaply or efficiently be extracted.

"They'd have to move the people, they'd have to move the systems, the infrastructure, the facilities. And, you know, it currently exists in the framework that supports all the space activities, so to carve out the Earth piece would be inefficient because you would have to build capability twice," said Abdalati.

Another problem is that there isn't another agency within the federal government built for NASA's task.

The closest is probably the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for the day-to-day tasks of government weather forecasting.

"Certainly NOAA is an organization that provides lifesaving forecasts," Nesbitt said. "I don't want to take anything from NOAA. But they have a different mission and rely on NASA to launch satellites."

The problem, he said, is that NOAA isn't structured for the high-risk, boundary-pushing work NASA does every day.

"It's kind of like if you have a car. Want to fix it? Go to a mechanic (like NOAA). If you want to take it in an auto race, go to someone who is more experimental, and that is NASA. They can develop something that is amazing. It may not work every single day, but then they can scramble and fix things," Nesbitt said. "There's just that cultural divide, and I'm worried that if they take these experimental missions and plug them into NOAA, there's going to be harsh degradation."

A threat to national security?

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

A pump jack. Thomson Reuters

NASA's earth science program, several researchers said, is critical to national security.

There are the obvious ways: building and constantly improving the infrastructure necessary to predict hurricanes and other extreme weather, collecting images of disasters to guide emergency response workers, and tracking sea level changes around the world that affect coastlines and the Navy.

But plenty are less obvious — but no less important — ways NASA helps keep the country safe.

In September, Business Insider published a story about the severe and underreported dangerthat space weather poses to modern society. There's a very real threat that a major solar storm could strike Earth and knock out the electric grid, satellites, navigation systems on airplanes, and any other electrical system not hardened to withstand the blast.

These sorts of events aren't all that rare — the last one happened in 1859.

"We'll almost certainly see a major event in our lifetimes," said Morris Cohen, a researcher who studies electrical events in the upper atmosphere. "It's kind of a game of Russian roulette we're playing. Keep playing forever, and eventually you're going to get hit."

solar eclipse

Reuters

If scientists are on alert, humanity should have a few days to prepare between the start of a solar storm and the moment it reaches Earth, Cohen said. But that prediction will rely on NASA earth science mission data.

"Obviously what's driving the political question of 'Yes to earth science or no to earth science?' is climate change," Cohen said. "That's the motivation behind cutting all this stuff. But what a lot of people don't realize is that earth science data and earth science in general goes way beyond climate change. The same satellite that's capturing data from clouds is also capturing data about what's going on in space and what's coming from the sun."

Cohen said he's working on a project to strengthen the US military that would be impossible without geoscience research of the sort that's threatened at NASA.

Right now, the military relies on satellite GPS systems for navigation, just like civilians. But GPS is remarkably easy to jam. Cohen has worked on an alternative system that would use live data on lightning strikes and the radio waves they emit to build a more resilient navigation system for the military that would be much more difficult to disrupt.

Without geoscience research, he said, the system would never get off the ground.

Researchers resist the idea that their work is politica

Donald Trump

Jacquelyn Gill researches paleoecology and plant ecology — in other words, she studies the history of the global climate over millions of years — at the University of Maine.

She and her students spend their time trying to understand how the atmosphere worked in the ancient world — sometimes finding themselves knee-deep in bogs collecting buried pollen or ash from ancient fires.

"Despite our best efforts, all we see of the Earth's climate is a really narrow snapshot in time," she said. "And to get a more complete and full picture of how Earth operates, we need long-term data."

That long-term data shows that modern climate change is faster and more acute than anything else in Earth's history. But there are also concrete implications for modern-day lobster fishers — and for futuristic endeavors like terraforming Mars.

And none of it would be possible, she said, without NASA data creating a baseline for how the climate works.

"A lot of the work we do in the past is motivated by the world we have in the present," Gill said. "If we don't have that information then [the past data] becomes a kind of novelty. It loses its grounding."

Without NASA's earth science programs, many researchers say they expect to see the American scientific enterprise to become less singular and less great, and to fall into decline.

"It's unfortunate that the politics of climate change have evolved to the point in this country where really serious games of chicken are being played with major agencies in our federal government," Nesbitt said. "These are agencies that have absolutely no political agenda, just collections of scientists that are doing work to better society. And it's really sad that these political forces are trying to exploit this issue."

"Is there a line you can draw between understanding how the Earth works and the so-called politically incorrect environmental monitoring?" Subramaniam said. "If you think of the Earth as a being, knowing how well it's doing is a good thing is how I see it. Why would we not want to do it?

"It's a head-scratcher for me. I simply don't understand what the issue would be."

Giving up on part of what makes us human

international space station iss nasa

Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein is an early-universe cosmologist. That means she works on understanding what happened in the moments after the Big Bang, when the whole universe was hot and physics was bent to the point of breaking.

Her work relies on data from NASA's spaceward missions, and a shift from earth science toward even more space data might offer new opportunities for her research. But she said the idea of a NASA that no longer examines the Earth scares her.

"You know, I am not a parent, but I have a niece who just turned 8, and many of my close friends have children right now. And I want those children to have a beautiful life," she said. "I think that trumps any interest in early-universe cosmology. The work that I do on dark matter, I'm not sure it will have a lot of meaning if those kids don't have an opportunity to learn about it because society has been devastated by global warming. So that's, for me, the priority."

Abdalati said that losing half of NASA's mission would mean giving up on part of what makes us human.

"As human beings, throughout time, we have explored our surroundings, and we have worked to understand our environment, and we looked as far beyond as we could," he said.

And NASA fulfills both drives — to understand and to explore.

"I think both are critical. Both are essential. I wouldn't want to see human space zeroed out to support a whole bunch of earth science" either, he added. "I may differ from some of my colleagues in that, but I think we need it all."

Lori Janjigian contributed to this story.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Walker's proposal would ax or redirect 40% of NASA's budget and operations. This was based on past numbers, and referred only to NASA's science budget, not the agency's total budget. In fact, Walker's proposal would ax or redirect more than 34% of NASA's $5.2 billion 2017 science budget request, andalmost 10% of its $18 billion overall budget request. Thanks to Loren Grush of The Verge for spotting the error.

Author:  Rafi Letzter

Source:  http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-nasa-earth-science-thanksnasa-2016-12

Categorized in Science & Tech

An unlikely recent discovery has taken Richard Attenborough's feeble amber-encased mosquito and raised you a whole dinosaur tail, complete with soft tissue and feathers. 

The tiny tail of a 99 million-year-old dinosaur has been found preserved in an amber fossil, according to a Thursday report in the journal Current Biology. It's the first time researchers have been able to study dino feathers while they're still attached to a body. 

Next step? Use their DNA to open a prehistoric theme park featuring cloned dinosaurs, obviously. JK, please don’t. 

Incredibly, paleontologist and report co-author Dr. Lida Xing of China's University of Geosciences made the discovery while perusing an amber marketplace in Myitkyina, Myanmar.

Reportedly, the small piece of amber was believed to contain a plant and would have been turned into a rather fetching piece of vintage jewelry, had Xing not come along.

"It's one of those things where if there hadn't been the right person on the ground at the time, I think it would have disappeared into a private collection or gone entirely unnoticed," co-author Ryan McKellar of Canada’s Royal Saskatchewan Museum told the ABC

 

The appendage itself is believed to have come from a sparrow-sized juvenile coelurosaur, a dinosaur belonging to the theropod family, same as ol' Tyrannosaurus rex, but much teenier. 

Micro-CT scans of the mini feathers show they're a "chestnut brown" colour, with a pale-ish under side. Researchers believe the full tail would have been made up of over 25 vertebrae. 

This kind of articulated vertebrae was not found on Cretaceous birds nor their modern equivalents, who all have pygostyle vertebrae. This ruled out the possibility that the tail belonged to a prehistoric bird, according to researchers. 

 

"[A pygostyle] is the sort of thing you've seen if you've ever prepared a turkey," McKellar told National Geographic

The amber goodness came from a fossil-rich mine in Hukawng Valley within the Kachin state of Myanmar. 

Sadly the piece of amber containing "Eva," as it was affectionately named, had already been shaped and polished for use in jewelry by the time Xing found it.  

"Maybe we can find a complete dinosaur," Xing told Nat Geo. Maybe one day

In the meantime, this will be the closest thing we've got to patting a real-life dinosaur. 

Really makes you think.

Author:  JERICO MANDYBUR

Source:  http://mashable.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

The world will be a very different place in 2045, experts working at the Pentagon’s research agency may be the best people to ask.

According to a study published on World Economic Forum,  the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) experts predicted what they imagined would be a reality in 30 years.

Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neurosscientist and director of Darpa’s Biological Technologies Office, believes we’ll be at a point where we can control things simply by using our mind.

“Imagine a world where you could just use your thoughts to control your environment,” Sanchez said.

“Think about controlling different aspects of your home just using your brain signals, or maybe communicating with your friends and your family just using neural activity from your brain.”

 

According to Sanchez, Darpa is working on neurotechnologies that can enable this to happen. There are already some examples of these kinds of futuristic breakthroughs in action, like brain implants controlling prosthetic arms.

Just last week Darpa demonstrated this amazing tech for the first time and gave a paralyzed man back the sense of touch — with brain implants that provided the feeling “as if his own hand were being touched,” he reported.

The future has more than just brain implants. Many other exciting things could change the buildings and other objects around us, says Stefanie Tompkins, a geologist and director of Darpa’s Defense Sciences Office.

She thinks we’ll be able to build things that are incredibly strong but also very lightweight. Think of a skyscraper using materials that are strong as steel but light as carbon fiber. That’s a simple explanation for what Tompkins envisions, which gets a little bit more complicated down at the molecular level.

Here’s how she explains it: “In 30 years, I imagine a world where we don’t even recognize the materials that surround us.”

“I think in 2045 we’re going to find that we have a very different relationship with the machines around us,” says Pam Melroy, an aerospace engineer and a former astronaut who is now a deputy director at Darpa’s Tactical Technologies Office.

“I think that we will begin to see a time when we’re able to simply just talk or even press a button” to interact with a machine to get things done more intelligently, instead of using keyboards or rudimentary voice-recognition systems.She continued: “For example, right now to prepare for landing in an aircraft there’s multiple steps that have to be taken to prepare yourself, from navigation, get out of the cruise mode, begin to set up the throttles … put the gear down. All of these steps have to happen in the right sequence.”

 

Instead, Melroy envisions an aircraft landing in the future being as simple as what an airline pilot tells the flight attendants: “Prepare for landing.” In 2045, a pilot may just say those three words and the computer knows the series of complex steps it needs to do to make that happen.

Or perhaps, with artificial intelligence, a pilot won’t even be necessary.

“Our world will be full of those kinds of examples where we can communicate directly our intent and have very complex outcomes by working together,” she said.

Author:  Web Desk

Source:  http://arynews.tv/

Categorized in Science & Tech

Mountain View, California, November 30th, 2016- – TourMega, a travel startup based in Silicon Valley, launched the first search engine dedicated to tours and activities around the world on November 4th 2016.

TourMega features more than 10,000 tours and activities on six continents and will be adding new choices added on a weekly basis. Travelers will be able to search for and book a variety of experiences from a classic cruise on the Nile to a trek to the Annapurna mountains in Nepal. “What’s unique about TourMega is that not only will we pull from a variety of tour sites around the world, we also provide the option for amateur tour guides and local experts to sign up and post their own unique experiences” says Eric Espino, one of TourMega’s founders. “This allows them to share their personal knowledge with the world and tap into the ever growing ‘gig economy’ and make extra cash on the side.”

 

Tourmega’s technology is user friendly and optimized for mobile devices to allow travelers to search or post an experience on the go and in minutes. “TourMega is the kayak for tours and activities. We’re working to make our search engine robust, providing many options for users to search and compare tours from different partners that we work with around the world” Says Quyhn Pham, TourMega’s Co-founder and CEO. She adds “We are also working on an AI platform to help users book their trips based on past travel behavior and individual interests”. The team also is working on mobile applications for Android and IOS devices which should be available in 2017.

Categorized in News & Politics

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