Washington, June 21 (AP/UNB) — Despite the name of Pink Floyd’s best-selling album, the side of the moon you can’t see isn’t always dark. But it is far.
So scientists call the area where a Chinese spacecraft just landed the far side, not the dark side.
“The other side sees the sun sometimes. The other side is not dark, it’s just far,” said Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb. “It’s a mistake.”
The moon is what scientists call ”tidally locked ” which means the same side always faces us, while another side always faces away, Loeb said. When Earth views a darkened new moon, the far side is lit. When there’s a full moon in our sky, the far side is dark.
Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth. But students still get it wrong on the midterm, calling it the dark side.
Melosh traces the myth back to a Walt Disney television special in 1955 that talked about it always being dark on the other side of the moon and futuristic astronauts dropping flares.
The term dark side really took off in 1973 with the Pink Floyd’s mesmerizing album “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
China has landed a probe on the mysterious "dark" side of the moon. The far side of the moon is called the "dark side" in popular culture because it's always unseen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight. (Jan. 3)
While China is the first to land a spacecraft on the far side, there have been plenty of detailed photographs taken by orbiting spacecraft. The first grainy pictures came from a former Soviet Union craft in 1959. NASA’s Apollo 8 astronauts saw it first when they orbited the moon 50 years ago.
Canberra, June 21 (Xinhua/UNB) -- A team from Australia's peak science agency has developed a world-first technique to protect algorithms against cyber-attacks.
Researchers from Data61, the data and digital arm of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said on Thursday that the "vaccine" is a significant advancement in machine learning research.
Algorithms can perform given tasks such as diagnose diseases from x-rays and identify spam emails but are vulnerable to adversarial attacks, a form of cyber-attack whereby malicious data causes them to malfunction.
Richard Nock, leader of the machine learning group at Data61, said that adversarial attacks work by adding a layer of noise over malicious data that deceives an algorithm into misclassifying it.
"Adversarial attacks have proven capable of tricking a machine learning model into incorrectly labelling a traffic stop sign as speed sign, which could have disastrous effects in the real world," he said in a media release.
"Our new techniques prevent adversarial attacks using a process similar to vaccination.
"We implement a weak version of an adversary, such as small modifications or distortion to a collection of images, to create a more 'difficult' training data set."
"When the algorithm is trained on data exposed to a small dose of distortion, the resulting model is more robust and immune to adversarial attacks."
The CSIRO has previously invested 19 million Australian dollars (13.2 million U.S. dollars) in developing artificial intelligence-driven solutions to security, food security and sustainable resources.
Adrian Turner, the chief executive of Data61, said that the development "will spark a new line of machine learning research and ensure the positive use of transformative AI technologies."
Milan, June 21 (AP/UNB) — A mother sperm whale and its baby have died after becoming tangled in a fishing net in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s western coast, an Italian environmental group reported Thursday.
The Marevivo group said the Italian Coast Guard had responded to the sighting and surmised that the mother, which measured 6 meters (nearly 20 feet), died while trying to free its baby. They were found 8 miles off the coast of Palmarola Island in the Lazio region. It said part of the fishing net was found in the mother whale’s mouth while the baby while was completely covered by it.
“The death of these two giants of the sea is a loss for our natural heritage, but knowing that what happened is our fault makes it even more tragic,” said Marevivo President Rosalba Giugni. “Changing our behavior is not enough. We need to change our beliefs in order to understand and to actually feel that when we harm the environment, we do it to ourselves.”
The deaths come after an 8-meter (26-foot) pregnant sperm whale was found dead on a Sardinian beach in March with 22 kilograms (48 1/2 pounds) of plastic in its belly.
Environmentalists say plastic is one of the greatest threats to marine life and has killed at least five other whales that had ingested large amounts of it over the last two years from Europe to Asia.
New York, June 21 (AP/UNB) — People are more likely to return a lost wallet if it contains money — and the more cash, the better.
That’s the surprising conclusion from researchers who planted more than 17,000 “lost wallets” across 355 cities in 40 countries, and kept track of how often somebody contacted the supposed owners.
The presence of money — the equivalent of about $13 in local currency — boosted this response rate to about 51%, versus 40% for wallets with no cash. That trend showed up in virtually every nation, although the actual numbers varied.
Researchers raised the stakes in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Poland. The response jumped to 72% for wallets containing the equivalent of about $94, versus 61% for those containing $13. If no money was enclosed, the rate was 46%.
How can this be?
“The evidence suggests that people tend to care about the welfare of others, and they have an aversion to seeing themselves as a thief,” said Alain Cohn of the University of Michigan, one author who reported the results Thursday in the journal Science.
Another author, Christian Zuend of the University of Zurich, said “it suddenly feels like stealing” when there’s money in the wallet. “And it feels even more like stealing when the money in the wallet increases,” he added. That idea was supported by the results of polls the researchers did in the U.S., the U.K. and Poland, he told reporters.
The wallets in the study were actually transparent business card cases, chosen so that people could see money inside without opening them. A team of 13 research assistants posed as people who had just found the cases and turned them in at banks, theaters, museums or other cultural establishments, post offices, hotels and police stations or other public offices. The key question was whether the employee receiving each case would contact its supposed owner, whose name and email address were displayed on three identical business cards within.
The business cards were crafted to make the supposed owner appear to be a local person, as was a grocery list that was also enclosed. Some cases also contained a key, and they were more likely to get a response than cases without a key. That led the researchers to conclude that concern for others was playing a role, since — unlike money — a key is valuable to its owner but not a stranger.
The effect of enclosed money appeared in 38 of the 40 countries, with Mexico and Peru the exceptions. Nations varied widely in how often the wallet’s “owner” was contacted. In Switzerland the rate was 74% for wallets without money and 79% with it, while in China the rates were 7% and 22%. The U.S. figures were 39% and 57%.
The study measured how employees act when presented with a wallet at their workplaces. But would those same people act differently if they found a wallet on a sidewalk?
“We don’t know,” said Michel Marechal, an author from the University of Zurich. But he said other analyses suggest the new results reflect people’s overall degree of honesty.
Shaul Shalvi of the University of Amsterdam, who wrote a commentary that accompanied the study, told The Associated Press that he suspected the study does shed light on how people would act with a wallet found on the street.
He said the results “support the idea that people care about others as well as caring about being honest.”
Robert Feldman, psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who didn’t participate in the work, said he suspected the experiment might have turned out differently if involved “everyday people” rather than employees acting in an official capacity.
But Feldman called the study impressive and said it seems like “a very real result.”
Dan Ariely, a psychology professor at Duke University who didn’t participate in the research, said the conclusions fit with research that indicates keeping a larger amount of money would be harder for a person to rationalize.
“It very much fits with the way social scientists think about dishonesty,” he said.
Honolulu, Jun 21 (AP/UNB) — After years of protests and legal battles, officials have announced that a massive telescope which will allow scientists to peer into the most distant reaches of our early universe will be built on a Hawaiian volcano that some consider sacred.
The state announced a "notice to proceed" for the Thirty Meter Telescope project at a news conference Thursday.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said it was the final legal step in a long, often contentious, process, and that construction is expected to begin sometime this summer.
"We will proceed in a way that respects the people, place and culture that make Hawaii unique," Ige said. "We are all stewards of Mauna Kea. The state has an obligation to respect and honor the unique cultural and natural resources on this special mountain."
Scientists say the summit is one of the best places on Earth for astronomy. The telescope would be three times as wide as the largest existing visible-light telescope in the world, with nine times more area. Several telescopes and observatories are already on the summit.
But opponents say the telescope will desecrate sacred land atop Mauna Kea, the state's highest peak and a place of religious importance to Native Hawaiians.
State and county officials arrived at the summit early Thursday morning to remove Native Hawaiian structures that had been built on land where the telescope will be constructed.
Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian activist who has led some of the protest efforts, said officials were only allowing astronomers through and blocking the road to the summit for everyone else, including Hawaiians who asked to go pray. The Department of Land and Natural resources said one person was arrested by county police for obstruction.
Native Hawaiians have used the structures for years, Pisciotta said, and she considers the removal of the structures to be desecration and discriminatory.
"What's the argument for taking them down? It's completely discriminatory. It's hostile to the Native Hawaiian people," she said. "These are places of worship and the places where we lay our offering and our prayer."
She said their rights to religious freedom are being violated.
"If someone went into a church and took down the crucifix or you know the cross, how would that be treated?" Pisciotta asked.
Pisciotta said an overnight solstice ceremony was planned on the mountain and worried that they would be denied access. The group was also planning to honor an elder who recently died.
"They know that we go up during solstice and equinox," said Pisciotta. "We were preparing to head up tonight for the solstice and to honor him."
A spokesman for the state attorney general's office said in an email that officials will not restrict access for that event.
The new telescope will allow astronomers to reach back 13 billion years, to the time just after the big bang, and scientists say it will help answer fundamental questions about the advent of the universe.
"The world is not black and white. This is not an oil pipeline. It is a telescope to look into the very origins of life in the universe," Ige said. "We have worked a long time to hear each other and to make a choice as a collective community. To the many who support this project, let us always hold all views as one. Let us always touch the mountain as we gaze out beyond the sky."
Plans for the telescope date to 2009, when scientists first selected Mauna Kea. The project won a series of approvals from Hawaii, including a permit to build on conservation land in 2011.
Protests disrupted a groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony at the site in 2014. Construction stopped in April 2015 after 31 protesters were arrested for blocking the work. A second attempt to restart construction a few months later ended with more arrests and crews retreating when they encountered large boulders in the road.
Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors said the state Supreme Court ruling must be respected, but that people's right to free speech is also protected and that the conversation should continue.
"It is important that it not stop even as the telescope is constructed," Connors said. "For safety we encourage that this conversation happens somewhere other than on Mauna Kea."
The attorney general said she hopes there will be no more confrontations.
"We are all in this together and we hope that everyone who comes to Mauna Kea takes responsibility for their actions, their words and their decisions," she said. "The safety of our community depends upon people respecting the law and each other."
A group of universities in California and Canada make up the telescope company, with partners from China, India and Japan.
Thirty Meter Telescope spokesman Scott Ishikawa said that they hope to begin construction as soon as possible but that they needed to work with county and state officials on exact timing.
"We remain committed to being good stewards of Mauna Kea, and to honoring and respecting the culture and traditions of Hawaii," said Henry Yang, chair of TMT International Observatory Board of Governors. "It has been a long process to get to this point."
Richard Ha, a Native Hawaiian farmer who lives on the Big Island and supports the project, said he thinks the telescope will provide an opportunity for the community to learn and grow.
He does not practice religion on the summit, he said, but he does visit Mauna Kea and respects the connection Native Hawaiians have to the place.
"Once you get above the clouds, you're in a different world," Ha said. "You're in the universe and it's just amazing to look up and see so many stars. It makes you feel like humans are just a small part."