Washington, Jun 22 (AP/UNB) — The United States is blacklisting five Chinese organizations involved in supercomputing with military-related applications, citing national security as justification for denying its Asian geopolitical rival access to critical U.S. technology.
The move Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department could complicate talks next week between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, aimed at de-escalating a trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies.
The five blacklisted organizations placed on the so-called Entity List includes supercomputer maker Sugon, which is heavily dependent on U.S. suppliers including chipmakers Intel, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.
The other four are the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology and three Sugon affiliates. The Commerce Department called their activities "contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States."
Sugon and the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute, which the U.S. said is owned by a Chinese army research institute, are involved in China's push to develop next-generation "exascale" high performance computing to assist with military modernization. The technology involved supports such military-related tasks as running nuclear simulations, calculating missile trajectories and hypersonic algorithms, said Paul Triolo, technology analyst with the global risk-assessing Eurasia Group.
"This is all about the race to exascale computing, which China has designated as a major priority," he said, adding that companies such as Sugon have received major government backing.
Of particular concern to China hawks in the Trump administration, Triolo added, is Sugon's move to develop a next-generation processor of its own. It licensed one generation of AMD technology as part of a 2016 joint venture in which a Sugon subsidiary has an ownership stake.
An AMD spokesperson said the company was reviewing the order "to determine next steps related to our joint ventures."
In recent years, U.S. and Chinese companies have been alternating as leading producers of the world's fastest supercomputers. Sugon had 63 of the top 500 in the most recent rankings .
The blacklist effectively bars U.S. firms from selling technology to the Chinese organizations without government approval. Last month, Commerce last month added telecommunications giant Huawei to it, heightening tensions with Beijing .
This is not the first time the U.S. has placed on the Entity List a Chinese organization involved in supercomputer development with military uses. In 2015 it added China's National University of Defense Technology to the Entity List.
"The U.S. is gradually squeezing off access to US technology for major elements of China's next generation supercomputing," said Triolo. The long-running campaign isn't directly related to Trump's current trade war with China.
Trump has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is preparing to target another $300 billion, extending the import taxes to virtually everything China ships to the United States. China has retaliated with tariffs on U.S. products.
Talks to resolve the dispute broke off last month. But Trump and Xi are scheduled to meet next week at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, to get the negotiations back on track.
"Adding more Chinese companies to the U.S. bad guys list may be seen as a way to ramp up the pressure on China," said Amanda DeBusk, a partner at Dechert LLP and the former Commerce Department assistant secretary for export enforcement. "However, the Chinese may see this as ill-timed bullying. They cannot be seen as making concessions to the United States, so this may have the effect of hurting any chances for trade agreement."
The administration appeared to be sending mixed signals ahead of the summit.
In what looked like a goodwill gesture to Beijing, Vice President Mike Pence postponed a speech planned for Monday at a Washington think tank at which he was expected to criticize China's communist regime.
Asia specialist Tami Overby, senior director at the McLarty Associates consultancy, said that "it seems odd" that the Trump administration would delay Pence's speech and then turn around and expand its tech blacklist.
Chicago, June 22 (Xinhua/UNB) -- An international team of astronomers has captured the first-ever polarized radio waves from a distant cosmic explosion, known as gamma-ray burst GRB 190114C.
Astronomers have hypothesized that cosmic magnetic fields might flow through the jets, helping them form and providing structural support.
To obtain the measurements of these magnetic fields, the international team employed a novel trick. They observed the jets in linearly polarized light, which is sensitive to the size of magnetic field patches. Larger magnetic field patches, for example, produce more polarized light.
On January 14, 2019, a flash of gamma rays triggered NASA's Swift satellite, which alerted astronomers of the burst's location in the direction of the constellation Fornax. The astronomers then used the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile to search for radio waves from the explosion, which occurred more than 4.5 billion years ago in a galaxy 7 billion light-years away.
The team detected a subtle, but revealing, polarization signal of 0.8 percent, implying magnetic field patches about the size of our solar system.
Next, the researchers will combine this new information with data from X-ray and visible light telescopes.
"The lower frequency data from the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico helped confirm that we were seeing the light from the jet itself rather than from the interaction of the jet with its environment," said Kate Alexander, a NASA Einstein Fellow who led the VLA observations.
"Magnetic fields are ubiquitous but notoriously difficult to constrain in our universe," said Wen-fai Fong, an assistant professor of astrophysics at NU Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "The fact that we have been able to detect their presence, let alone in the fastest jets we know of, is an incredible and storied feat of observation."
Gamma ray bursts produce powerful jets that travel close to the speed of light and shine with the incredible luminosity of more than a billion suns combined. Because these jets are extremely bright at radio wavelengths, the discovery of polarized radio signals may offer new clues to help solve this mystery. Polarization is a property of light that indicates how a magnetic field is organized and structured in a jet.
The research, posted on NU's website on Wednesday, was published last week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Los Angeles, June 22 (Xinhua/UNB) -- A new impact crater discovered on Mars reveals darker material beneath reddish dust, according to a latest photograph released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The crater on the surface of Mars formed at most between September 2016 and February 2019, JPL said Wednesday.
The material beneath the reddish dust looks blue, but is a false colored image, which combines several color filters to enhance differences between material compositions, JPL said.
The light blue indicates an absence of brighter, redder dust where the impact blast scoured the surface, revealing bedrock below. The very bright blue could be ejecta with a different composition that was thrown by the impact, according to JPL.
The picture was taken by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, a camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Los Angeles, June 22 (Xinhua/UNB) -- NASA's Juno spacecraft captured a stunning compilation image of Jupiter's stormy northern hemisphere as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet, according to a picture released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Thursday.
Juno took four images used to produce this color-enhanced view on May 29, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 20th science pass of Jupiter, said JPL.
At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was between 18,600 km and 8,600 km above Jupiter's cloud tops, above a northern latitude spanning from about 59 to 34 degrees, according to JPL.
Juno was launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the southern U.S. state of Florida, and arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016.
Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, look for a solid planetary core, map magnetic fields, measure water and ammonia, and observe the planet's auroras.
London, June 22 (AP/UNB) — Researchers in Scotland say gray seals can copy the sounds of human words and songs including "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
The study by University of St. Andrews researchers showed that three trained seals were able to imitate parts of popular tunes.
The research team's findings were published Thursday, including video footage of the seals. The study gave the researchers a better understanding of the evolution of vocal learning and human language development.
It also suggested that gray seals could be a new model to study speech disorders since they use their vocal tracts the same way as humans.