Carburante estratto dall’aria, Zurigo all’avanguardia

Produrre combustibili liquidi dalla luce del sole e dall’aria poteva sembrare un’utopia fino a poco tempo fa ma i ricercatori del Politecnico federale di Zurigo sono riusciti nell’impresa che ha rilevanti risvolti ecologici.

In prima mondiale il gruppo coordinato dal professor Steinfeld ha infatti mostrato agli interessati, in condizioni reali, la catena del processo termochimico che consente di ottenere carburanti neutri in termini di emissioni di CO2.

Cuore della sperimentazione è una miniraffineria installata sul tetto del laboratorio di ingegneria meccanica del Politecnico zurighese che è incentrato su uno specchio parabolico: il laboratorio sperimentale è in grado di separare dall’aria, grazie all’energia del sole, l’anidride carbonica (CO2) e l’acqua (vapore) e di farli reagire tra loro. Si ottiene così un gas di sintesi, il cosiddetto “syngas”, ossia una miscela di idrogeno e monossido di carbonio, che viene poi trasformato in cherosene, metanolo o altri idrocarburi.

Questi combustibili possono essere in seguito utilizzati per far funzionare navi o aerei, senza gravare l’atmosfera di ulteriori emissioni nocive, dal momento che rilasciano la stessa quantità di anidride carbonica precedentemente estratta dall’aria.

La tecnologia sviluppata dai ricercatori zurighesi, è stato sottolineato, “utilizza l’intero spettro solare e funziona ad alte temperature”, aspetto questo che “consente velocità di reazione rapide e un elevato grado di efficienza”.

La miniraffineria solare messa a punto dal Politecnico federale, che produce un decilitro di combustibile al giorno, dimostra la fattibilità di questa tecnologia, anche nelle condizioni climatiche di Zurigo. Steinfeld sta già lavorando ad un reattore solare di grandi dimensioni, realizzato nelle vicinanze di Madrid nell’ambito del progetto dell’Unione europea “SUN-to-LIQUID”.

https://www.tvsvizzera.it/tvs/qui-svizzera/politecnico-federale_carburante-estratto-dall-aria–zurigo-all-avanguardia/45029550

L’uomo sulla Luna e la teoria del complotto.

Piero Angela: “Che sciocchezza negare quel giorno” “Non mi stupisco di quelli che negano l’allunaggio, visto che c’è ancora chi sostiene che la Terra è piatta”

Anche a 50 anni di distanza dai primi passi sulla luna di Neil Armstrong, c’è qualcuno che pensa che non ci sia stato nessun allunaggio. Dal movimento della bandiera americana alla convinzione che le radiazioni avrebbero ucciso Aldrin e Armstrong, i teorici del “complotto” si sono aggrappati a qualsiasi dettaglio per smentire l’arrivo sul satellite degli astronauti delle missioni Apollo, della prima come anche delle successive. La tesi del finto allunaggio fu alimentata anche da un libro uscito nel 1976, ‘We Never Went to the Moon’ dell’autore americano Bill Kaysing, che arrivò a teorizzare che la regia delle riprese fosse stata affidata al grande Stanley Kubrick. “Che sciocchezza continuare ancora a negare il primo sbarco dell’uomo sulla Luna. Chi lo fa sfrutta l’ingenuità delle persone solo per trarne profitto, come scrivere un libro o girare un documentario”, ha detto, intervistato dall’Agi, Piero Angela che ha seguito in prima persona da giornalista molte missioni Apollo, tra cui anche quella che ha portato i primi esseri umani sulla Luna. “Quel giorno è stato molto emozionante: per la prima volta nella storia, l’uomo ha poggiato i piedi sulla Luna”, racconta Angela. “Andare sulla Luna è qualcosa che gli esseri umani hanno sempre immaginato di fare. Quando poi ci si è riusciti – continua – è stato come un sogno che si realizzava. Oggi invece sappiamo che sulla Luna potremmo andare e ritornare anche solo in una settimana”. Mezzo secolo fa era qualcosa di impensabile. “Poi ogni volta che una missione con equipaggio partiva era sempre una grande emozione perché tutti eravamo consapevoli del gran rischio che gli astronauti si assumevano”, spiega Angela. “È stato così anche per l’Apollo 11”, aggiunge. È anche per questo che le cosiddette teorie negazioniste, quelle secondo le quali l’allunaggio del 20 luglio del 1969 sarebbe stata solo una montatura, possono fare rabbia. “Purtroppo queste teorie continuano ancora a circolare. Non mi stupisco, visto che c’è ancora chi sostiene che la Terra è piatta”, dice Angela. Ma quali sono le principali “bufale” a sostegno della teoria del complotto? Senz’altro la più conosciuta è quella della bandiera americana piantata sulla Luna. A vedere le foto sembra che sia agitata dal vento, il che è impossibile perché sulla luna non c’è aria. La verità è che la bandiera dell’Apollo 11, perfettamente immobile, non è distesa del tutto. Fu un’intuizione di Jack Kinzler che lavorava nell’equipaggio del centro spaziale di Houston. Per essere sicuri che la bandiera avrebbe sventolato in assenza di atmosfera, suggerì una tecnica utilizzata dalla madre quando era ancora un bambino per cucire le tende e farle scendere perfettamente: la bandiera aveva due assi, quella che si fissa al terreno e, ad angolo retto, quella che mantiene disteso il drappo. Vedendo nel dettaglio le foto si osserva che l’apparente movimento della bandiera è dato da piegature nette, non arrotondate. Un altro aspetto che cattura l’immaginazione di coloro che cercano la prova di una cospirazione è che nessuna stella appare sullo sfondo delle fotografie. Secondo loro, la Nasa sapeva che gli gli astronomi sarebbero stati in grado di determinare se le immagini fossero state scattate sulla Terra o sulla luna in base a come apparivano le stelle da entrambi i luoghi. Il motivo va in realtà cercato nell’esposizione alla luce diretta del Sole. Sulla Luna, semplicemente non si vede il cielo celeste perché non c’è l’atmosfera, ma è “giorno” e la luce delle stelle è troppo flebile rispetto a quella del Sole. Inoltre per compensare la luminosità della luna, dovuta alla polvere fine che riflette la luce del sole, gli astronauti hanno dovuto usare una velocità dell’otturatore che non consente di vedere le stelle sullo sfondo. Il cratere del Modulo Lunare non c’è. Anche in questo caso c’è una spiegazione scientifica. Guardando il video dell’allunaggio si vede che l’Apollo 11 viaggia per un po’ in orizzontale quindi i propulsori non sono puntati verso il basso. Questo spiega l’assenza di polvere nell’aria all’inizio, ma non alla fine dell’operazione, quando effettivamente tocca terra. Bisogna poi considerare che la Luna ha un sesto della forza di gravità terrestre, per cui i motori devono sostenere un peso molto inferiore per atterrare.  E le ombre? Secondo i complottisti le ombre proiettate da Armstrong, Aldrin e dalle apparecchiature sono alterate da più fonti di luce, che sembrano quelle di un set cinematografico e infatti non sono parallele. In questo caso è sbagliato il punto di partenza e cioè che una fonte di luce possa produrre solo ombre parallele. Invece, in presenza di un terreno irregolare e soprattutto assumendo prospettive diverse da quelle della fonte di luce, le ombre sembrano intersecarsi. ​In una delle foto divulgate dalla Nasa, l’ombra del modulo lunare sembra arrivare all’orizzonte. Non perché è “finita la scenografia”, ovviamente. Semplicemente quello che sembra l’orizzonte è il bordo di un cratere, oltre il quale prosegue il paesaggio ma non è visibile alla macchina fotografica. In generale sono state più volte evidenziate delle imperfezioni che denuncerebbero la falsità della missione, ma le foto prese a controprova di ciò sono spesso immagini in bassa qualità, logorate da una riproduzione continua delle riproduzioni stesse. Le immagini originali, e i relativi ingrandimenti, sono sufficienti a placare tentazioni complottistiche. Una delle foto più famose dell’allunaggio è la AS11-40-5903 ed è quella di Buzz Aldrin scattata da Neil Armstrong, che è anche un autoritratto, un “selfie” involontario. L’immagine dello stesso Armstrong è infatti riflessa nella visiera del casco di Aldrin. Chi ha scattato quella foto visto che non si vede la macchina fotografica in mano all’astronauta? La risposta è facilissima, dice il prof. Drabek-Maunder dell’Osservatorio di Greenwich: “Le telecamere sono posizionate sul petto degli astronauti. E così in quella particolare fotografia su quello di Armstrong”. La foto, in realtà, a ben vedere le cose è importantissima per un altra ragione: è l’unica di Armstrong sulla Luna. Sì, ce ne sono altre, in cui compare un pezzo di tuta, un’ombra, lo zaino ma poco di più. Come è possibile? La risposta l’ha data Eugene Kranz, all’epoca direttore del programma Apollo per la NASA: non ci sono “foto usabili di Armstrong sulla Luna”. Perché? “Come sapete”, dice il grande ingegnere, “la vita non è giusta”.

http://www.rainews.it/dl/rainews/media/allunaggio-L-uomo-sulla-Luna-e-la-teoria-del-complotto-Piero-Angela-Che-sciocchezza-negare-quel-giorno-b26e72ea-22c0-47ef-9bf5-833d1cc6667e.html

Intel and IOC in talks over esports Olympics inclusion

As reported by multiple sources, Intel is currently in talks with the IOC over esports inclusion in the Olympics. The International Olympics Committee has shown interest in including esports as a medal event in the event. Subsequently, Intel is trying to work with them on a partnership, though nothing is confirmed yet. Additionally, IOC president Thomas Bach has stated that they will not allow any video games that include violence at the Olympics. While it is probably far away, this is an important step towards finally admitting esports’ equality to traditional sports.

However, the Olympics won’t be the first traditional sports tournament to host an esports event. This year’s Asian Games will have esports appear as a demonstration. Furthermore, esports will make a full appearance at a multi-sport tournament in China three years from now.

Intel and the IOC have already partnered for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. There, Intel held an Intel Extreme Masters to showcase esports as a possible future sports event. Even more, Intel stated that they currently don’t have an opinion on esports’ inclusion in the games. However, they are always open for a partnership and are actively helping the IOC understand esports’ potential.

The never-ending debate: do esports have a place in the Olympics?

While not certain, the inclusion of esports in the Olympics would likely bring a lot of public backlash. As you might know, many people still consider video games a waste of time. The lack of physicality involved with esports also adds to their arguments. While it is true esports are less physical than most traditional sports, there are some exceptions. The public will simply have to change their perception.

If we compare esports to traditional sports, there actually are quite a few similarities. Teams in both train in complex professional ecosystems. They have their own training facilities, coaches, analysts, and even nutritionists. Athletes in both train multiple hours a day and have to take care of their physical and mental health to perform at the highest level.

Looking at finance, esports isn’t close to the bigger traditional sports when it comes to revenue. However, it’s a rapidly growing industry, and the payments, tournament awards, and sponsorships grow every day. Apart from that, the involvement of prominent traditional sports athletes like Michael Jordan, Rick Fox, and Christian Fuchs only shows that even traditional athletes support the esports industry and see its potential.

Lastly, some traditional sports teams even have their own sports teams. Good examples of that are the Golden State Warriors, who own the Golden Guardians League of Legends team, and the Houston Rockets, who are part owners of Clutch Gaming. While it was less obvious a few years back, esports is starting to make its case as a legit sport, and I personally believe it is only a matter of time before it gets included in the Olympics.

Do you think esports deserve to be a part of the Olympics? Let us know in the comments below.

Intel and IOC in talks over esports Olympics inclusion

Estados Unidos destruye un dron iraní en plena escalada de tensión en el estrecho de Ormuz

La escalada de tensión entre Estados Unidos e Irán ha avanzado varios metros este jueves. El presidente de EE UU, Donald Trump, ha informado de que un barco de la marina estadounidense “destruyó” un dron iraní en el estrecho de Ormuz. El mandatario ha explicado en la Casa Blanca que el avión no tripulado ignoró los “múltiples” llamamientos a que se retirara del área, pero este siguió avanzando hasta estar “muy, muy cerca” del buque de guerra USS Boxer. El aparato “amenazaba la seguridad de la nave y a su tripulación” por lo que fue “destruido de inmediato”, ha concluido el republicano.
Hace cinco semanas, Teherán derribó un dron de EE UU, denunciando que había entrado en su espacio aéreo en misión de espionaje, algo que desmintió Washington. El episodio casi desencadena un ataque aéreo de represalia, pero Trump canceló la misión porque iba a costar 150 vidas y le pareció “desproporcionado”.
“Esta es la última de muchas acciones provocativas y hostiles de Irán contra los buques que operan en aguas internacionales”, ha sostenido Trump. El mandatario ha hecho un llamamiento a la comunidad internacional para que condenaran “los intentos de Irán de perturbar la libertad de navegación y el comercio mundial”. Además, ha defendido que EE UU se reserva “el derecho de defender a nuestro personal, nuestras instalaciones e intereses”, que en este caso se vieron amenazadas por un dron que llegó a estar a menos de 900 metros de un buque de guerra estadounidense. El portavoz del Pentágono, Jonathan Hoffman, ha confirmado lo ocurrido y ha reiterado que la acción militar buscó a “garantizar la seguridad de la nave y su tripulación”.

Irán ha respondido que no tiene constancia de haber perdido ningún dron iraní. “No tenemos información sobre la pérdida de un dron hoy”, ha señalado el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Irán, Mohammad Javad Zarif, al llegar a la sede de las Naciones Unidas para una reunión con el Secretario General, Antonio Guterres.

Cuando la Guardia Revolucionaria de Irán derribó el dron estadounidense en el estrecho de Ormuz, el general Hosein Salami, citado por PressTV, sostuvo que era “un claro mensaje a América [de que] nuestras fronteras son la línea roja de Irán y que reaccionaremos enérgicamente contra cualquier agresión”. A pesar de que aclaró que Irán no estaba buscando guerra, sí remarcó que estaban “plenamente preparados para defender la patria”.
La respuesta de Washington se abortó. “Estábamos preparados para responder desde tres posiciones cuando pregunté cuántos morirían. ‘150, señor’, fue la respuesta de un general. Diez minutos antes de la ofensiva, lo paré. No era proporcionado al derribo de un dron no tripulado. No tengo prisa”, dijo Trump el pasado 22 de junio.

La acción militar de Washington se ha producido el mismo día que la Guardia Revolucionaria iraní interceptó “un petrolero extranjero” cuya nacionalidad no ha identificado y al que acusa de “contrabando de carburante” en el golfo Pérsico. Hace poco más de un mes, Estados Unidos y sus aliados árabes responsabilizaron a Teherán del ataque a dos petroleros en el golfo de Omán, donde otros cuatro buques habían sufrido un sabotaje semanas atrás, aumentando la tensión en la región. A esto hay que sumarle la política de “máxima presión” aplicada por Washington desde mayo de 2018, cuando Trump optó por abandonar el acuerdo nuclear de 2015 y restableció las sanciones paralizantes sobre la economía iraní.

https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/07/18/actualidad/1563483126_310319.html

Una nueva dimension del Atlético de Madrid

Ni el más utópico, ni el más soñador, ni el más optimista podría haber imaginado hace ocho veranos, antes de que Simeone comenzara a cambiar la historia del club, que el Atlético podría alcanzar algún día una dimensión como la que vive hoy en día. No sólo por los siete títulos (Liga incluida y cinco continentales) con los que el argentino ha situado a la entidad a la altura de las grandes superpotencias de Europa a nivel futbolístico, sino porque también ha posibilitado un crecimiento meteórico en el plano económico que ha derivado en la adquisición de un músculo financiero. Los movimientos llevados a cabo en el presente mercado de fichajes son el último exponente de la nueva realidad.El Atlético pasa a día de hoy por ser el segundo equipo que más ha ingresado en la historia del mercado de fichajes y el quinto atendiendo al capítulo de gastos. Así, los 313,47 millones que han entrado en las arcas rojiblancas en este verano sólo son superados por los 361,85 que acumuló el Mónaco en la temporada pasada, cuando recibió 180 de la opción de compra obligatoria establecida un año antes durante el contrato de cesión de Mbappe al PSG y los 72 que abonó el propio Atlético por Lemar.

Por su parte, los 243,5 kilos que ha costado formar el plantel con el que el Atlético está disparando la ilusión para el próximo curso son superados por los 303 que ya se ha dejado el Real Madrid, por los 256,9 que se gastó la Juventus en el verano pasado, los 254 invertidos por el Real Madrid en 2009 y los 248,5 del Manchester City en 2017.

Revalorización continua

Si la permanente clasificación para disputar cada año la Champions de la mano de Simeone ha permitido al Atlético engordar su cartera y su presupuesto notablemente en estos últimos siete años y medio, el técnico también tiene una alta cuota, sino completa, de responsabilidad en los millonarios desembolsos que han tenido que realizar tres transatlánticos del continente como Barcelona, Bayern Múnich y Manchester City para arrebatarle jugadores al club rojiblanco a través del pago de sus cláusulas de rescisión

Así, 218 de los 361,85 millones ingresados en la caja (el 60,2%) suponen la plusvalía que El Cholo ha conseguido de Griezmann, Lucas y Rodrigo. Al primero, que deja 120 kilos (96 si se descuenta el porcentaje destinado a la Real), lo moldeó hasta transformarlo en uno de los tres mejores futbolistas del planeta desde que el Atlético lo fichara por 30; al segundo, que salió por 80 kilos, lo convirtió en campeón del mundo tras darle la alternativa desde la cantera y educarlo como central y lateral zurdo al mismo tiempo y al tercero lo situó en el paladar de Guardiola, que no dudó en pagar 70 millones, un año después de recuperararlo de Villarreal por 22.

Gelson (30), Vietto (7,5), Mensah (3,60) y Óliver (2,37), aunque nunca convencieron al Cholo, también sirvieron para hacer caja.

https://www.marca.com/futbol/atletico/2019/07/19/5d30d897e2704e36708b456d.html

Rory McIlroy waited for this day; now he’d like to forget it

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — The eyes of a nation were upon him, despite Rory McIlroy’s contention that he was just part of the show, not the center of attention, treating it like any of the other Opens he has played over the past dozen years.

A raucous, packed grandstand of spectators greeted him as he strode to the first tee at Royal Portrush. It was impossible to think of this moment as anything but special for a player who honed his game in these parts and has admitted it was surreal to see the sport’s oldest championship come to this region of the world.

And then he pulled his opening tee shot out of bounds.

And his next shot, after a penalty stroke, was only marginally better.

And that was followed by another poor shot that resulted in a penalty drop.

And then, after just a few minutes, McIlroy had walked off the first green with a quadruple-bogey 8.

It was a stunning, almost cruel start to the tournament for McIlroy, 30, who figured to be in the mix for a second Claret Jug on Sunday and instead spent the rest of the day fighting to give himself a shot at making the 36-hole cut — while only making it worse.

A double-bogey at the 16th and a triple-bogey at the 18th meant a back-nine 40 and a score of 8-over-par 79 — his worst at The Open since he shot 80 in the second round at St. Andrews in 2010.

“It was obviously a disappointing day,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t put it in the fairway enough to play. I kept saying that in the press conference [on Wednesday], you need to put the ball in the fairway here if you want to do well. I didn’t do that enough [in Thursday’s first round] to create enough scoring opportunities.”

Adding insult to the horrific start is the oddity of having internal out of bounds. To the left of the first fairway is nothing but golf course, and yet out-of-bounds stakes line the area just 20 yards off the fairway. In rare cases, out of bounds is marked internally to keep players from hitting shots into other parts of the course where they are not intended to go.

But to the left of the first fairway is the 18th hole — and there is plenty of room. Had rough been allowed to grow there, it might even be considered a difficult play.

“The reason for this is if you go back in history, the club did not own that land,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. “And so it was somebody else’s land in years gone by. And as the course has developed they’ve always kept that historically as out of bounds.

“And we felt that was highly appropriate to do so this year as we’ve rebuilt the course. We try to stay true to how the course played.”

Fair enough. The members at Royal Portrush play it that way, so it makes some sense that the competitors in The Open would do so as well. And McIlroy, more than anyone, would know all about that out of bounds, having played the course so many times over the years.

Still, doing away with internal out of bounds could have been easily justified, as the course architects clearly had no choice to design the hole that way a century ago.

McIlroy was not going to complain about that. The poor swing that led him to hit the ball there was on him. Then he hit a second poor one into the rough and a third up near the green, which ultimately is why he made an 8.

“If anything, I sort of leaked one right [on Wednesday] in the practice round and hit it OB right,” he said. “So I was trying to guard against that a little bit, and a little bit too much right and got the ball going left.”

It was a crushing start, all but ending his tournament before it really started, after months of buildup.

But McIlroy did not put it down to the extra hype that came with playing The Open near his boyhood home, or the hopes and expectations of those who follow him.

“Look, I was nervous on the first tee,” he said. “But not nervous because of that. Nervous because it’s an Open Championship. I usually get nervous on the first tee anyway, regardless of where it is. So maybe a little more so [on Thursday] than other places.

“But I don’t think it was that. It was a bit of a tentative golf swing with a hard wind off the right and the ball just got going left on me.”

McIlroy has now gone five years without winning a major, and that is the big-picture concern. After winning two in a row in 2014, including The Open at Royal Liverpool, it has been mostly frustration for McIlroy at the four biggest tournaments, including the quest to complete the career Grand Slam at the Masters.

Victories at the Players Championship and Canadian Open, however, suggested that McIlroy was in prime position to contend again. He’s had a strong year that has seen him rise to No. 3 in the world. Everything pointed toward him contending — and perhaps winning — in his home country.

And then it was all washed away in a matter of moments.

Asked if there was a way back from shooting 79, McIlroy quipped there’s “definitely a way back to Florida,” where he now lives.

But he suggested there’s no reason why he can’t get things in order, play better, make the cut, and enjoy the rest of what he called a “surreal” experience in having The Open at Portrush.

https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/27215474/rory-mcilroy-waited-day-now-forget-it

Kyoto Animation fire: police search for clues as donations pass $1m mark

Investigators are searching for clues to the motive of an arsonist who killed at least 33 people in an attack on a popular Japanese anime studio that has plunged country into a state of shock.

Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in Thursday’s blaze at Kyoto Animation, which is Japan’s deadliest fire in nearly two decades.

Everyone from Anime fans to prime minister Shinzo Abe expressed anger, prayed and mourned the Kyoto victims on social media and a crowdfunding appeal set up to support the company and victims – who remain unidentified – has also gathered more than $1m in pledges.

The suspect, an unidentified 41-year-old man who did not work for the studio, shouted that he had been plagiarised and appeared to have planned the attack, Japanese media reports said on Friday.

A woman who saw the suspect being detained told reporters he “seemed to be discontented, he seemed to get angry, shouting something about how he had been plagiarised”.

Survivors said he was screaming “you die!” as he sprayed what emergency services officials called an unidentified liquid accelerant. They said some of the survivors were splashed with the liquid. The suspect was injured in the attack and is being treated in hospital.

NHK footage also showed sharp knives police had collected from the scene, though it was not clear if they belonged to the attacker.

Earlier, Hideaki Hatta, the chief executive of Kyoto Animation, said the company had recently received emails containing death threats, though it was unclear whether they related to Thursday’s attack. “They were addressed to our office and sales department and told us to die,” he said. “I am heartbroken. It is unbearable that the people who helped carry Japan’s animation industry were hurt and lost their lives in this way.”

The fire appeared to have been set near the front door with some kind of flammable liquid, police said, forcing people to scramble up the stairs to the roof. Of the 33 bodies found by firefighters, 20 were on the third floor and some on the stairs to the roof, where they had apparently collapsed, Kyoto fire official Kazuhiro Hayashi said. Two were found dead on the first floor, 11 others on the second floor, he said.

The building has a spiral staircase that might have allowed flames and smoke to rise quickly to the top floor, broadcaster NHK noted. Yuji Hasemi, a fire expert at Waseda University, told NHK that paper drawings and other documents in the studio also might have contributed to the fire’s rapid spread.

The suspected arsonist started the fire in Japan’s ancient capital on Thursday morning when about 70 people had gathered for their day’s work at the three-storey building.

“There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help,” a witness told TBS TV. “Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors. Then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window.”

Most of the victims were employees of Kyoto Animation, which does work on movies and TV productions but is best known for its mega-hit stories featuring high school girls. The tales are so popular that fans make pilgrimages to some of the places depicted.

Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include Lucky Star in 2008, K-On! in 2011 and Haruhi Suzumiya in 2009.

The company does not have a major presence outside Japan, though it was hired to do secondary animation work on a 1998 Pokemon feature that appeared in US cinemas and a Winnie the Pooh video.

Violent crime is rare in Japan, though it is not unknown. In July 2016, a mass stabbing at a care home by a former employee killed 16 and injured more. In September 2001, a fire at a building in the Kabukicho entertainment district of central Tokyo killed 44. Arson was suspected, but nobody was ever charged, meaning the Kyoto Animation attack is the worst confirmed mass murder in Japan’s post-war history.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/19/kyoto-animation-fire-police-search-for-clues-as-donations-pass-1m-mark

MPs call for halt to police’s use of live facial recognition

The police and other authorities should suspend use of automatic facial recognition technologies, according to an influential group of MPs.

The House of Commons Science and Technology committee added there should be no further trials of the tech until relevant regulations were in place.

It raised accuracy and bias concerns.

And it warned that police forces were failing to edit a database of custody images to remove pictures of unconvicted individuals.

“It is unclear whether police forces are unaware of the requirement to review custody images every six years, or if they are simply ‘struggling to comply’,” the committee’s report said.

“What is clear, however, is that they have not been afforded any earmarked resources to assist with the manual review and weeding process.”

As a consequence, the MPs warned, innocent people’s pictures might illegally be included in facial recognition “watch lists” that are used in public spaces by the police to stop and even arrest suspects.

The committee noted that it had flagged similar concerns a year ago but had seen little progress from the Home Office since. By contrast, it said, the Scottish Executive had commissioned an independent review into how biometric data should be used and stored.

Earlier this month, the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the police’s use of live facial recognition tech raised “significant privacy and data protection issues” and might even breach data protection laws.

The civil rights group Liberty has also supported a legal challenge to South Wales Police’s use of the technology in a case that has yet to be ruled on by a judge at Cardiff High Court.

And the Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter has criticised trials by London’s Metropolitan Police saying: “We are heading towards a dystopian society where people aren’t trusted, where they are logged and their data signatures are tracked”.

The Home Office, however, has noted that there is public support for live facial recognition to identify potential terrorists and people wanted for serious violent crimes.

“The government believes that there is a legal framework for the use of live facial recognition technology, although that is being challenged in the courts and we would not want to pre-empt the outcome of this case,” said a spokesman.

“However, we support an open debate about this, including how we can reduce the privacy impact on the public.

It also recently revealed that Kent and West Midlands’ forces plan to test facial recognition software to retrospectively analyse CCTV recordings to spot missing and vulnerable people.

“The public would expect the police to consider all new technologies that could make them safer,” a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ council told the BBC.

“Any wider roll out of this technology must be based on evidence showing it to be effective with sufficient safeguards and oversight.”

Racial and gender bias

As part of its report, the committee highlighted earlier work that had raised concerns of bias.

It referred specifically to a government advisory group that had warned in February that facial recognition systems could produce inaccurate results if they had not been trained on a diverse enough range of data.

“If certain types of faces – for example, black, Asian and ethnic minority faces or female faces – are under-represented in live facial recognition training datasets, then this bias will feed forward into the use of the technology by human operators,” the ethics group had cautioned.

While police officers were supposed to double-check matches made by the system by other means before taking action, the group also warned that there was a risk that they might “start to defer to the algorithm’s decision” without doing so.

As such, the committee said that ministers needed to set clearer limits on the tech’s use.

“We call on the government to issue a moratorium on the current use of facial recognition technology and no further trials should take place until a legislative framework has been introduced and guidance on trial protocols, and an oversight and evaluation system, has been established,” it concluded.

One think tank chief welcomed the recommendation but said the real problems were not ones of bias or accuracy.

“These are a distraction from the wider question of whether we want to have this technology at all,” Areeq Chowdhury from Future Advocacy told the BBC.

“Before any further deployment of facial recognition by the police, we need to have a public conversation about whether we are happy for our faces to become a tool of national security.”

Custody images
The committee also flagged issues with the way custody images were being stored in the Police National Database.

As of February 2018, the PND had 12.5 million images available to facial recognition searches.

People who have been acquitted or had charges against them dropped can apply to have their images removed.

But the MPs noted that despite guidance that images of unconvicted individuals should be removed by hand after six years, this was not being done.

“The government should strengthen the requirement for such a manual process to delete custody images and introduce clearer and stronger guidance on the process,” the committee’s report said.

“In the long-term the government should invest in automatic deletion software as previously promised.”

The privacy campaign Big Brother Watch supported the call.

“This practice was ruled unlawful by the High Court in 2012 – it is shameful that the government has failed to act,” said Griff Ferris, the group’s legal and policy officer.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49030595

Why your “type” might actually be your ex-partner

“They’re just not my type.” We’ve probably all heard someone utter these words, whether from a close friend, or while watching a favourite romantic comedy. But for all its prevalence in conversations about modern day relationships, hardly anyone has investigated whether such a thing as “my type” actually exists.

Recent research has suggested that we do have go-to preferences when it comes to demographic and physical characteristics such as education, age difference, hair colour, and height. But evidence to suggest we prefer to seek particular personality types as our partners has been lacking. Now a group of researchers may have finally found some – and if you’re not sure what your type is, you might want to look in a mirror.

You might also like:

• The dark side of believing in true love
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In a recent study, researchers used the longitudinal German Family Panel to assess where more than 12,000 survey participants fitted with the “big five” personality traits – openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Over nine years, the researchers tracked the relationship status of these people, who had to also persuade their partners to fill out the same personality questionnaire for the good of science.

After nine years and thousands of questionnaires, the researchers ended up with 332 participants who had been in relationships with at least two different romantic partners who were both happy to participate in the study. That’s a pretty hefty drop in sample size, but more than enough to draw firm conclusions from the data.
The results showed that the current partners of participants described their personalities in ways that were similar to former partners. So, while people tend to believe their personality preferences change over time, it appears that we do have a specific “type” that persists across relationships. In most cases, similarity was only tested across two partners, but for the 29 participants who had more than two willing partners, the results were the same.

Like it or not, if you are actively looking for a partner, they are likely to be closer in personality to your ex than you would care to admit. But your type might also be close to your own personality too. The research showed that the personalities of the partners were not only similar to each other, but to the participants themselves.

Seeking a little of yourself in your partners may help explain why our own personalities tend to be relatively stable when interacting with friends and loved ones. It’s a lot easier to seek relationships that allow us to hold onto our existing ideas of what we are like.

That is, unless you’re an extrovert in search of new experiences. Participants who scored highly in openness to experience and extroversion were much less likely to choose partners with similar personalities to both ex-partners and themselves. So, while our relationships can entrench who we think we are, if we are willing to step outside of what we know, they also offer the opportunity to discover new ways of seeing the world.

Interestingly, the study could hold potential for online dating. While previous research has struggled to predict romantic desire from personality traits and preferences, this research suggests that just as music streaming services use our existing library to make personalised recommendations for exciting new sounds, dating apps could use our relationship history to help us find future flames.

Of course, given that we don’t know how long the relationships in the study lasted for, there’s no guarantee that such a strategy will keep the fire burning. Too much similarity in a relationship can make partners feel unable to grow and develop. Married people can have a particularly low tolerance for behaviours that their new spouse shares with their former husband or wife, and such similarity can generate anxiety and hopelessness.

On the other hand, having a current partner that resembles an ex-partner can ease bonding processes and help establish positive patterns of interaction. So don’t go blaming high divorce rates on a tendency towards a type just yet.

Research like this isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to the search for a soulmate. There are plenty of other factors that influence who we enter into a romantic relationship with. But don’t be surprised if the next update in your relationship status is really just a return to the status quo.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation, and is republished under a Creative Commons licence.

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http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190717-why-your-type-might-actually-be-your-ex-partner

US destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz, says Trump

President Donald Trump has said the US Navy destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz.

He said the USS Boxer amphibious assault ship “took defensive action” on Thursday after the drone came within about 1,000 yards (914m) of the vessel.

Iran said it had no information about losing a drone. In June, Iran downed a US military drone in the area.

Earlier, Tehran said it had seized a “foreign tanker” and its 12 crew on Sunday for smuggling fuel in the Gulf.

Gulf crisis: Are we heading for a new tanker war?
Iran-US tensions: What’s going on?
Why does the Strait of Hormuz matter?
Iran has been blamed by the US for attacks on tankers which have happened in the world’s key shipping area since May. Tehran denies all the accusations.

The recent incidents have triggered fears of a military conflict in the region.

What have the US and Iran said about the incident?
Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said: “I want to apprise everyone of an incident in the Strait of Hormuz today involving USS Boxer, a navy amphibious assault ship.

“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards (914m), ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew. The drone was immediately destroyed.

“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests.”

A defence department official quoted by the New York Times said the drone had been brought down using electronic jamming equipment.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian official dismissed the US statement. In an English tweet posted on 19 July, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi even suggested the US may have downed its own drone by mistake.

Mr Araqchi’s comment came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in New York on Thursday that “we have no information about losing a drone today”.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49040415