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Russia’s space chief cannot seem to get “gentle” SpaceX out of his mind – Ars Technica

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Enlarge / Roscosmos specialists recover the “Blok A” stage of the Soyuz rocket from Yakutia.
Dmitry Rogozin/Twitter

On Friday, a Soyuz 2.1b rocket launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, carrying its payload of 36 OneWeb satellites into space. Although Russia’s newest spaceport is located in the far eastern part of the country, it still lies several hundred kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

This means that as Soyuz rockets climb into space from this location, they drop their stages onto the sparsely populated Yakutia region below. With the Soyuz rocket, there are four boosters that serve as the rocket’s “first stage,” and these drop away about two minutes after liftoff. Then, the “Blok A” second stage drops away later in the flight.

Although the Yakutia region is geographically rugged and sparsely populated, the Russian government does a reasonably good job of establishing drop zones for these stages and keeping them away from residential areas. This is what happened, as usual, with Friday’s launch.

However, as he shared photos and video of these operations on Twitter and Facebook, the chief of Russia’s space program, Dmitry Rogozin, could not help but take what he perceived to be a swipe at SpaceX. In his comments, Rogozin referenced Boca Chica, where SpaceX is building a prototype of its Starship Mars rocket, and wondered whether SpaceX would be capable of working in as harsh conditions as his hardy Russian experts.

“This is not Boca Chica. This is Yakutia, and in winter. The team in the area of the fall of the second stage of the One Web mission was deployed two days before yesterday’s launch. Temperature – minus 52°,” Rogozin wrote on Facebook. “I wonder if gentle SpaceX is able to work in such conditions?”

The irony, as noted by some users in response to Rogozin, is that “gentle” SpaceX engineers do not need to brave inclement weather to recover their rocket stages. They have built a smarter rocket. SpaceX designed the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage to return to land or set itself down on an autonomous drone ship for future reuse. And its second stage can be commanded to reenter the atmosphere and burn up.

The original, and a machine translation of Dmitry Rogozin's post on Facebook.
The original, and a machine translation of Dmitry Rogozin’s post on Facebook.
Dmitry Rogozin/Facebook

Moreover, in Boca Chica, the company is attempting to build an entirely reusable rocket, with both the Super Heavy first stage as well as the Starship upper stage capable of landing and reuse. And while temperatures in South Texas do rarely fall below freezing, the mercury regularly tops 100 degrees during Boca Chica’s summer—when the company’s engineers are working all day and night at their tasks.

Rogozin has had a difficult year. As the Falcon 9 has continued to draw commercial launch business away from Russia’s Proton rocket, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has also ended NASA’s need to buy seats on the Soyuz vehicle for its astronauts to reach the International Space Station. Mostly, Rogozin has reacted to these changing financial circumstances with denial.

But it seems quite clear that, “gentle” though SpaceX may be, the company’s success has irritated the Russian space chief.

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Hearing the dead person? Here’s what research says – Tech Explorist

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Why some people and not others say they receive communications from ‘the dead’?

This is horrifying. Right?

But why this happens?

A new study by Durham University explains the reason. The study found that spiritualist mediums might be more prone to immersive mental activities and unusual auditory experiences early in life.

Spiritualism is a religious movement dependent on the possibility that human spirits keep on existing after death and speak with the living through a medium or psychic.

A medium that hears the dead person is believed to be experiencing clairaudient communications instead of clairvoyant (“seeing”) or clairsentient (“feeling” or “sensing”) communications.

The study involved 65 clairaudient spiritualist mediums from the Spiritualists’ National Union and 143 members of the general population.

Spiritualist mediums completed an online questionnaire assessing the timing, nature, and frequency of their auditory (clairaudient) spiritual communications – including scales measuring paranormal beliefs, absorption, hallucination-proneness, and aspects identity. These measures were compared to a general population group.

They found that these spiritualists have a strong leaning towards absorption – a trait linked to immersion in mental or imaginative activities and altered states of consciousness.

Eighteen percent revealed having clairaudient experiences ‘for as far back as they could recall’, and 71 percent had not experienced Spiritualism as a religious movement preceding their first experience.

Numerous who experience hearing dead voices experience spiritualist beliefs while looking for the meaning behind, or heavenly significance of, their own and unusual experiences.

Spiritualists tend to report unusual auditory experiences that are positive, start early in life and are often then able to control.

Understanding how these develop is important in helping us learn more about distressing or non-controllable experiences of hearing voices and how to support those whose voices are linked to psychosis or other mental health problems.

Journal Reference:
  1. Adam Powell et al. When spirits speak: absorption, attribution, and identity among spiritualists who report “clairaudient” voice experiences. DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2020.1793310

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Three more COVID-19 cases at GRT – KitchenerToday.com

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Grand River Transit is confirming three more COVID cases.

All the affected employees are bus drivers.

Two of them last worked on January 15, while the third was last on the job on Jan. 11.

GRT points out all three are now self-isolating at home.

So far in Janaury, nine employees have tested positive for the virus.

Grand River Transit lists COVID-19 cases on its website for transparency purposes, but some details are not released due to privacy concerns.

Since the on-set of the pandemic, multiple safety precautions have been put in place to protect drivers and riders, including barriers and mandatory masks.

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Microplastics could be eliminated from wastewater at source – E&T Magazine

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A team of researchers from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Quebec, Canada, have developed an electrolytic process for treating wastewater, degrading microplastics at the source.

Microplastics are fragments of plastic less than 5mm long, often contained in toiletries or shedding from polyester clothing. They are present in virtually every corner of the Earth, and pose a particularly serious threat to marine ecosystems. High concentrations of microplastics can be carried into the environment in wastewater.

There are no established degradation methods to handle microplastics during wastewater treatment; although some techniques exist, these involve physical separation as a means of filtering the pollutant. These techniques do not degrade microplastics, which requires additional work to manage the separated fragments. So far, research into degradation of microplastics has been very limited.

The INRS researchers, led by water treatment expert Professor Patrick Drogui, decided to try degrading plastic particles through electrolytic oxidation – a process that does not require the addition of chemicals.

“Using electrodes, we generate hydroxyl radicals to attack microplastics,” Drogui said. “This process is environmentally friendly because it breaks them down into CO2 and water molecules, which are non-toxic to the ecosystem.”

Drogui and his colleagues experimented with different anode materials and other parameters such as current intensity, anode surface, electrolyte type, electrolyte concentration and reaction time. They found that the electrolytic oxidation could degrade more than 58 ± 21 per cent of microplastics in one hour. The microplastics appeared to degrade directly into gas rather than breaking into smaller particles.

Lab-based tests on water artificially contaminated with fragments of polystyrene showed a degradation efficiency as high as 89 per cent.

“This work demonstrated that [electrolytic oxidation] is a promising process for degradation of microplastics in water without production of any waste or by-products,” the researchers wrote in their Environmental Pollution report.

Drogui envisions this technology being used to treat microplastic-rich wastewater emerging from sources such as commercial laundries.

“When this commercial laundry water arrives at the wastewater treatment plant, it is mixed with large quantities of water, the pollutants are diluted and therefore more difficult to degrade,” he explained. “Conversely, by acting at the source, i.e. at the laundry, the concentration of microplastics is higher, thus more accessible for electrolytic degradation.”

Next, the researchers will move on to experimenting with degrading microplastics on water outside the artificial laboratory environment. Real commercial laundry water contains other materials that can affect the degradation process, such as carbonates and phosphates, which can trap radicals and limit degradation. If the technology is effective under these circumstances, the researchers plan to conduct a study to determine the cost of scaling up this treatment to implement in laundries.

Last week, researchers from the University of Barcelona published a study suggesting that encouraging a greater proliferation of seagrass meadows in the shallows of oceans could help trap, extract and carry marine plastic debris to shore.

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