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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What’s Next For NASA? Asteroids!

What’s Next For NASA? Asteroids!


What’s Next For NASA? Asteroids!

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 11:16 AM PDT

NASA has not sent astronauts to the moon since 1972. While that remains a historic event, President Barack Obama’s cancellation of the Constellation Program back in 2010 ended hopes indefinitely of the United States returning to the moon any time soon.

Still, that program’s death did not mark the end of NASA’s work and planetary exploration overall. The agency is currently working on its next target: catching an asteroid, pulling it into the moon’s orbit and sending astronauts to its location in order to study it.

The purpose of the mission, according to NASA, is for planetary defense, as the Earth has had instances of asteroid interference in very recent history. Scientists claim that in changing the orbit of an asteroid and studying its composition, Earth could protect itself from another asteroid crashing into its atmosphere.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission, should it be successful, could also be used as a testing ground for a possible mission to Mars in the near future.

Hey, Did I See You Petting Another Dog?

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 11:01 AM PDT

If the science of animal behavior had an official curse word, it would be “anthropomorphism.” That’s just a fancy term for the sin of assigning human qualities to animals. Your dog might look happy and your cat might seem disdainful, but since you most likely think of your pet as a little person already, your judgements are automatically suspect. You see what you want to see, and that is the opposite of scientific.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always wrong. It turns out that one rigorous scientific experiment after another has shown that some animals do have mental states that are surprisingly similar to ours. They exhibit altruism, empathy, and a sense of justice, for example. They can plan and execute deliberate deception. They may experience true grief as well.

And now, says a new report in the journal PLOS ONE, we can add jealousy to the mix too. That’s a surprising conclusion for one very big reason. Lead author Christine Harris, of the University of California, San Diego, is a psychologist who usually studies human behavior, and among humans, the conventional wisdom has been that jealousy requires a sense of self-esteem that can be damaged. That’s something animals are unlikely to have.

But it’s also possible, Harris suspected, that all jealousy, human and otherwise, is a more fundamental emotion like fear or lust. If so, it’s presumably a product of evolution, and should exist in some form in species other than our own.

She and her co-author, Caroline Prouvost, set out to test that proposition, and they had some existing data to build on. Several studies, they note, have suggested that infants as young as six months old show evidence of jealousy even though they presumably haven’t developed a sense of self-esteem. In those studies, the babies got upset when their mothers fussed over a realistic-looking doll, but not when the moms ignored them to read a book.

What’s true in barely-developed humans, they suspected, might also be true in highly social animals like dogs—so they replicated the human experiments with canines. They had 36 owners play affectionately with realistic-looking toy dogs while ignoring their own pets. They also had the owners play with Jack-o-Lantern shaped plastic pails, and, finally, had the owners ignore the dogs while reading books.

Sure enough, 78% of the dogs went into a sort of canine snit when their owners played with faux fido: they pushed and tried to squeeze in between owner and interloper, and in some cases even snapped at the phony dog. When the owners played with the pails, by contrast, jealous reactions were triggered in only 42% of the dogs (no word, by the way, on whether the animals thought their owners had lost their minds). And when the owners chose a book over their beloved pets, only 22% of the dogs got upset.

“It’s clearly not just the loss of attention that triggered aggressive behavior,” says Harris. “It’s that the owners were paying attention to another doglike object.”

The finding has impressed some of the most notable figures in the animal behavior field. “This is a landmark study,” wrote Marc Bekoff—professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the author of the new book Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed—in an e-mail to Time. “It’s not a matter of if emotions have evolved in animals, but why they evolved as they have.” That question will take a lot more study in multiple species—and Harris plans to do just that. “Horse owners claim their horses display jealousy,” she says, “and the question is open for cats as well.”

What’s more, jealousy is just the beginning of the possible range of emotions animals may experience. “This study reminded me of claims, absent data, that dogs cannot feel guilt or shame,” says Bekoff. “But there’s no reason why they cannot.”

Animal behavior’s official curse word, it turns out, may be on the way out. The more scientists look, the more “anthopomorphism” seems not to be a self-delusional fallacy, but a useful guide to understanding what’s really going on in your pet’s mind.

The Purrfect Supercut of Cats in Movies

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 11:01 AM PDT

The Argentine-based filmmakerAriel Belziti has graced the Internet with “Supercats!,” a supercut of cats in movies. The clip is filled with your favorite furry Hollywood felines, like “Cat” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the protagonist of That Darn Cat!, Buttercup from The Hunger Games and the poor star of the 1903 classic The Sick Kitten. There’s even a montage of cat-stroking villains and, yes, Garfield is in the mix. To top it all off, the video is soundtracked by The Cure’s “Love Cats”.

The uber-montage of cinematic cats — kittens, furballs and CGI creations — is the perfect clip to watch when you are stuck at work on a summer Wednesday or any other time you need some feline-based escapism.

(h/t io9)

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Questlove on Iggy Azalea: “Black People Have to Come to Grips That Hip-Hop Is a Contagious Culture”

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Television is keeping Questlove busy. The Roots drummer and member of The Tonight Show house band is also the executive producer of SoundClash, a new music show premiering Wednesday night on VH1 and Palladia. Inspired by Jamaican sound clashing and the classic music programming of his youth, Questlove recruited top artists like Ed Sheeran, Fall Out Boy, Sia and T.I. to share the stage, strip down their biggest hits, cover their favorite performers and get “out of their comfort zones,” as he explains.

Questlove talked to TIME about his vision for the show and, perhaps most importantly, what he thinks is the official Song of the Summer.

Where'd you get the idea for this show?

During the time I was constructing [my memoir] the Mo' Meta Blues book, my business manager got to the part of the book where I was explaining that my parents used to wake me up at 12:30. I was only allowed to watch music programs or PBS as a kid, but the thing was, a lot of those music shows came on after midnight. So as a result, I'd have to be in bed at 8 at night, but my parents would wake me up at 12:30 so I could watch Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and Soul Train and the second song on Saturday Night Live.

He was like, "I know that in your head, you have this stubborn M.O. that everything you do in life has to be associated with you being a producer and recording artist, but do you ever think your true calling is your passion, which is developing music shows? Because that's all you talk about!" I carry 10 terabytes of hard drives with me wherever I go. I have every episode of Soul Train in my backpack because you just never know when you have to show somebody. I'm that guy that has every reference in the book.

He was like, "What would your dream show be?" I was thinking Midnight Special was my favorite, like the multiple stage setup. A lot of those acts were self-contained. Steve Miller used to perform by himself. The Main Ingredient used to perform by themselves. KC and the Sunshine Band used to perform by themselves. The Commodores once backed Frankie Valli, which is kind of incredible, at least in my 9-year-old eyes. So as a result, I said, "What if we have a show that took artists out of their comfort zone?" They're in a big, giant airport hanger and there's three stages. You surround the audience so even the person in the back row will eventually be front-row once their artist performs.

It's sort of like Jamaican sound clashing. You do different rounds. Round one is the artist doing their song, round two could be a stripped down version of their song or a cover song. Maybe round three, you put Chris Martin with someone like Odd Future. And you take Earl Sweatshirt, what happens if he goes with Imagine Dragons? That was the mission. As we get further on into the episodes, I would like to go more extreme, have people come out of their comfort zones and do crazy collaborations.

Pop artists covering their peers in this way obviously has a long history — Live Lounge on BBC Radio 1, the "ironic" cover of a rap song that goes viral. Why do people love seeing these kinds of performances?

We live in a viral society. A lot of that is done for the irony. When you do something ironic, it gets a viral response. When Alanis Morissette did "My Humps"? It was sort of that response. It's also passive aggressive and mean-spirited. The thing is, you're doing it for humorous intent. If you had one chance in life to really put your best foot forward, you're going to sing that song that you're really known for. Some people do it just so they can lift the veil on themselves. That's why we did The Tonight Show. So many people were looking at us like, "God, you guys are so damn serious all the time. Are you guys even human?" So I felt like doing The Tonight Show allows us to be human. Maybe people do ironic cover songs as a way to show that they're human. I want people to do it because, "This is an influence." Watching Jack White sing "Jolene" or watching Christina Aguilera sing "I Will Always Love You," that, to me, is a serious form of showing where your roots come from.

Is there an art to picking a cover song?

There's different options. What I don't want to do is scare people away. Initially out the gate, we've scared a few people. You also have to understand, we live in a society where a lot of people rely more on their Mac computers than they do having an 8-piece rhythm section. We wanted to offer more options: if you want to do a cover a song, do a cover song. If you want to do a stripped down version — the fact that Ed Sheeran can probably be more effective with just his guitar than with a full rhythm section? That, to me, is what the show is all about.

You could put somebody in any kind of situation. What would happen if you were to put Pharrell with just a string section and no drums? What would happen? That's kind of how the Roots had to live their lives in our 20 year career. The idea of having to adjust. We're opening for Soundgarden tonight? We have to adjust the show. We're opening for Jill Scott tonight? We might have to adjust the show. We're opening for Chris Rock tonight? We might have to adjust the show. Having to collaborate with a lot of artists, doing it every night, to me, it's easy as breathing. The hardest thing for us to do in the world now is just a regular, straight-no-chaser Roots song. Our life has been opening for acts that you would never in your wildest dreams think that we would open for. You kind of have to be smart to know that for a bunch of Germans watching Johnny Cash, you can't do no rap cliche: "Throw your hands in the air!" You can't do that! It's always been about adjusting and being prepared for any situation, and I want to bring that to TV.

Do you handpick all the bands?

Well, the initial episodes we did were really based on our personal relationships. We have a great relationship with T.I. [and] Patrick of Fall Out Boy — that dude is a musical nerd brother from another mother. Ed Sheeran, I'm shocked that he even knows that we exist. That's not even false modesty. It's kind of weird living an under-the-radar career without an obvious five-million seller, and yet these people come up and say, "Man, I love your music so much, I grew up on it." "Oh, you know who we are?" A lot of these artists are people we knew on The Tonight Show or in our everyday life.

Sia is an interesting choice — she doesn't seem to like being on stage.

I did not know how we were going to get through that. I was shocked! That was my first feeling of, oh, I really am an executive producer! I came up with an idea, they actually listened to it and then did it. It's kind of weird, her quest for anti-stardom and her method of doing it is actually bringing her more attention than not doing it. But more power to her for her Wizard of Oz. We said, "Okay, what if we have a background singer in front of her, and she's in the back somewhere?" I'll be honest, I thought we were going to lose her. But that was my first call of action. "We might have a problem with Sia!” But what do I know? I'm giving myself a lot of credit. Maybe that was her plan all along, but I definitely called that moment.

Get More:
SoundClash

Sia, Sheeran and Grouplove all cover "Drunk in Love" together, as many artists have done before. What draws people to that song?

Beyoncé is one of these types of artists that is in such a sweet spot. She owns this decade. I wake up in the morning and look online, okay, on Gawker, blah blah is covering "Halo." She's just one of those artists that's magnetic like that. Even if it's done in a silly notion, it speaks to her power.

What's your take on the proper spelling of surfboard?

[Laughs] There has to be a T at the end! In my head, surfboart is spelled like surfboard, but the T replaces the D at the end.

Have you weighed in on an official Song of the Summer?

I'm really caught in between, because this is what you gotta understand: I'm a DJ, and I've already established before on Twitter and elsewhere that you gotta know what the difference is between a good song and a bad song. Songs that I consider personally bad are also effective, and songs that I think are great don't stick. For me, I think it's a crime that Chromeo is not up there, because their level of pop songs — aw man, it's everything I could ever want. It isn't sticking. I want "Jealous" to win so bad, but it's obvious "Fancy" is pretty much ruling the summer.

Are you pro- or anti-Iggy Azalea?

Here's the thing: the song is effective and catchy as hell, and it works. Just the over-annunciation of "hold you down"? [Laughs] It makes me chuckle because all I can see is my assistant holding a brush in the mirror and singing it.

I'm caught in between. And I defend it. I see false Instagram posts like, "She said the N-word! She said the N-word!" I'll call people out — “Yo, don't troll.” I know you're ready to give your 42-page dissertation on theGrio about why this is culture vulture-ism. You know, we as black people have to come to grips that hip-hop is a contagious culture. If you love something, you gotta set it free. I will say that "Fancy," above any song that I've ever heard or dealt with, is a game-changer in that fact that we're truly going to have to come to grips with the fact that hip-hop has spread its wings.

And to tell the truth, I was saying this last year, I don't think it's any mistake that four or five of my favorite singers are from Australia. Like between Hiatus Kaiyote, there's a bunch I can name for you right now, but I don't think it's a mistake that a lot of of my favorite artists are coming from Down Under. A lot of them more soulful than what we're dealing with now. When you think soul music and Aretha Franklin and the Baptist-born singer, that's sort of an idea in the past. As black people, we're really not in the church as we used to be, and that's reflected in the songs now.

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm torn between the opinions on the Internet, but I'mma let Iggy be Iggy. It's not even politically correct dribble. The song is effective. I'm in the middle of the approximation of the annunciation, I'll say. Part of me hopes she grows out of that and says it with her regular dialect — I think that would be cooler. But, yeah, "Fancy" is the song of the summer.

You Can’t Check-In on Foursquare’s Main App Starting Tomorrow

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 10:51 AM PDT

You can check out Foursquare’s new app starting in the next few weeks, but you can’t check-in.

Foursquare said Wednesday that users will have to use its secondary app, Swarm, to check-in to locations starting Thursday. That change comes after Foursquare announced an unbundling into two separate apps back in May: Foursquare, where users run local searches, and Swarm, where check-ins are re-hosted.

That split gave Foursquare—now with a brand new logo—time to cocoon up for a metamorphosis that’s “almost ready for you,” according to Foursquare’s blog post. The “new” Foursquare app, releasing sometime in the next two weeks, will feature personalized local searches, giving users different results based on their preferences and activity. Foursquare promises no two people will have the same experience.

“In a couple weeks, we're rolling out a brand new version of Foursquare that's all about you,” Foursquare’s blog states. “Tell us what you like, and we'll be on the lookout for great places that match your tastes, wherever you are.”

Personalized searches have been a hot topic for Foursquare and similar rival apps, like Yelp. Foursquare has previously personalized user experiences through an “Explore” button. The feature allowed users to filter by category and to receive recommendations, services resembling those on Yelp, which also added a feature similar to Foursquare’s check-in function. Foursquare’s new primary app, meanwhile, is clearly intended as a salvo in the direction of Yelp and similar services — though it remains to be seen how Foursquare user’s will react to being forced over to a new app for check-ins; similar service splits have not gone well in the past.

 

GM Issues 6 More Safety Recalls

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 10:46 AM PDT

(DETROIT) — General Motors is issuing six more recalls covering a total of almost 718,000 vehicles in the U.S.

The latest recalls bring the total for GM so far this year to 60, affecting a record 29.7 million cars and trucks. GM already has passed the 22 million vehicles recalled by all automakers last year.

The biggest recall announced Wednesday was for just over 414,000 cars and small SUVs for faulty seats. Other problems include incomplete welds on seat brackets, turn signal failures, power steering failures, loose suspension bolts and faulty roof rack bolts.

This Doesn’t Look Like a Billboard for Better Call Saul! But It Is

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 10:42 AM PDT

The billboard pictured below is a real billboard that an Instagram user saw on I-25 in Albuquerque, N.M., and at first glance, it doesn’t look like it has a whole lot to do with Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul! But once you remember what we’ve learned about the upcoming series, expected to premiere in 2015, however, the connection is clear. The show will be set in 2002, while Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) was still known as Jimmy McGill.

The phone number listed on the billboard also works, so feel free to give it a ring if you’re craving a message from Saul Goodman Jimmy McGill.

Instagram Photo

[via Vulture]

 

Ukrainian Pilots Missing After 2 Jets Shot Down in East

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 10:39 AM PDT

Pro-Russia separatist rebels shot down two Ukrainian military planes over eastern Ukraine Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council told TIME. Both pilots ejected from their aircraft but remain missing.

An aide to separatist leader Alexander Borodai, told CNN that the two jets had been shot down by rebel fighters using a shoulder-fired missile system. However, Yarema Dukh, the Council’s press secretary, says that the jets were shot down from an altitude of 17,000 feet, an altitude she says is too high for those systems to reach. The aircrafts’ altitude, Dukh says, is instead a sign that “the planes may have been shot down by another plane.”

On top of that, though, it’s widely believed that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 which crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, which most likely originated from rebel-controlled territory. Flight 17 was traveling at 33,000 feet at the time of the suspected shoot-down — much higher than the Ukrainian jets.

The two jets shot down Wednesday, both Soviet-built Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, were among four fighter planes returning to base after supporting Ukrainian government forces along the Russia-Ukraine border, the Council said in a press conference Wednesday. They were hit over the Savur Mogila area close to the border around 1:30 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian aircraft were flying in the same area as where Flight 17 crashed, killing all 298 people on board. On Wednesday, 40 of the 200 MH17 passengers’ bodies thus far recovered arrived in the Netherlands for identification. The flight’s two black boxes also safely reached investigators in Britain Wednesday.

In the days before the MH17 disaster, a Ukrainian An-26 transport plane and another Su-25 jet were also shot down. A second Su-25 was fired upon, but the pilot managed to land his plane with minimal damage.

 

CDC Lab Director In Anthrax Incident Resigns

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 10:38 AM PDT

The director of the bioterror lab involved in an incident which caused over 80 lab workers to be potentially exposed to anthrax has resigned.

Michael Farrell, head of the Centers for Disease Control’s Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory had submitted his resignation on Tuesday. The resignation was first reported by Reuters and has been confirmed by TIME.

Last month, the CDC reported that procedures to deactivate anthrax when leaving a lab were not followed and that while the workers were protected, the bacteria was passed to other labs. When it was determined that anthrax had not been deactivated, the labs and CDC building were shut down and decontaminated. Lab workers have not contracted the disease.

Last month, Dr. Farrell was reassigned as the CDC conducted its investigation. Earlier this month, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said the incident was due to a lack of oversight, and that the CDC would increase safety precautions.

 

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: ‘No Evidence’ Black Boxes Tampered With

Posted: 23 Jul 2014 10:37 AM PDT

A team of investigators led by the Dutch Safety Board said in a report Wednesday there’s “no evidence” that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17′s cockpit voice recorders had been manipulated after the crash.

The Dutch Safety Board requested that the Air Accident Investigation Branch of the United Kingdom (AAIB) analyze Flight 17′s data recorders, also known as “black boxes” despite their typically bright orange color.

Many observers were concerned the black boxes — which include a cockpit voice recorder as well as a flight data recorder — were somehow tampered with by pro-Russia Ukrainian rebels who control the scene of the crash. Speculation that said rebels may have been responsible for shooting down Flight 17, some say, was a potential incentive for the rebels to damage or destroy the devices to hinder an investigation.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashed July 17 in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board.

 

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