As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it’s becoming clear that, for the foreseeable future at least, face masks are here to stay. They’re mandatory on public transport, they’re compulsory in shops in Scotland, and from July 24, shoppers will need to wear them in England or face a £100 fine.

But as we all don our masks as evidence in favour of the garment’s effectiveness in curbing the spread of coronavirus mounts, obscuring part of our face is having a detrimental effect on how some of us communicate with each other.

 

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After China imposed a restrictive national security law on Hong Kong, tech companies find themselves at a crossroads. Giants like Google and Facebook stopped responding to requests for user data in the city, but they may eventually have to pull out altogether.

One marquee name to exit Hong Kong already is TikTok, which remains eager to prove its distance from its China-based parent company. TikTok also found itself embroiled in a confusing episode on Friday, when an internal Amazon email indicated that the company was ordering employees to remove the app from their phones; hours later, Amazon stated that the email was sent in error. Hate it when the drafts go live, especially when they cause an international furor.

 

 

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New observations could challenge previous theories of how the Moon was formed

 

Life on Earth would not be possible without the Moon; it keeps our planet’s axis of rotation stable, which controls seasons and regulates our climate.  However, there has been considerable debate over how the Moon was formed. The popular hypothesis contends that the Moon was formed by a Mars-sized body colliding with Earth’s upper crust which is poor in metals. But new research suggests the Moon’s subsurface is more metal-rich than previously thought, providing new insights that could challenge our understanding of that process.

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A new study reveals that changes in the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field may take place 10 times faster than previously thought.

 

Their study gives new insight into the swirling flow of iron 2800 kilometers below the planet’s surface and how it has influenced the movement of the magnetic field during the past hundred thousand years.

 

Our magnetic field is generated and maintained by a convective flow of molten metal that forms the Earth’s outer core. Motion of the liquid iron creates the electric currents that power the field, which not only helps guide navigational systems but also helps shield us from harmful extra terrestrial radiation and hold our atmosphere in place.

 

 

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Though Pluto is now famously frigid, it may have started off as a hot world that formed rapidly and violently, a new study finds.

 

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Though Pluto is now famously frigid, it may have started off as a hot world that formed rapidly and violently, a new study finds. This result suggests Pluto may have possessed an underground ocean since early on in its life, potentially improving its chances of hosting life, researchers said.

 

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Solar power has become a focal point of the battle to mitigate climate change.  The potential of solar power is massive – Earth receives as much solar energy in an hour as all of humanity uses in a year.  Even with that much energy hitting the Earth, it is only a tiny fraction of the sun’s overall output.  Some of that other solar energy hits other planets, but most is just lost to the void of deep space.

 

There are a number of groups that are leveraging various technologies to capture some of that lost energy.  One of the most common technologies being pursued is the idea of the power satellite.  Recently, one of those groups at America’s Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) hit a milestone in the development of power satellite technology by launching their Photovoltaic RF Antenna Module (PRAM) test satellite.

 

The idea underlying power satellites is called “power beaming”.  Power beaming systems use one of three different frequencies of light to transmit significant amounts of power over a distance wirelessly.  Last year NRL had a successful demonstration of a land-based power beaming system using an infrared laser.

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It’s an approach officials are considering for ramping up coronavirus testing.

 

Also known as batch testing, pool testing combines samples from several people and tests them for the coronavirus all at once, cutting down on the time and supplies required. The protocol was first invented to test for syphilis during World War II and has been used in the past for outbreaks of other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

 

“If everyone is negative, then you’re done,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained. If the test detected the presence of the virus, then each person would have to be tested and the results individually analyzed to determine whose sample produced the positive result.

 

“You can rapidly increase the capacity of testing,” said Benjamin Pinsky, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. “The trade-off is that there’s reduced sensitivity. It’s kind of a balance.” Samples with low viral loads are more likely to go undetected in a pool, he said.

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