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Why understanding human evolution on Earth will be absolutely essential for any future deep-space colonies to survive and thrive

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How can such a feat be accomplished? Is it just a matter of leveraging the resources of a billionaire and the capital power of the economically developed Earth to ship the materials to Mars to build a city with a dome, followed by pressurizing the dome with an Earth-like atmosphere, and spreading biosolids (i.e., sterilized human fecal waste) and seeds? Will a sustainable, Earth-like ecosystem just ‘take hold’ anywhere we choose to ‘plant’ ourselves? What would it take to establish a sustainable city in space, with its humans and human civilization?

In 2019, we formed Norfolk Institute with the vision of enabling human life on Earth and in space. We started by mustering a team of government, university, non-profit, and industry stakeholders to support research efforts led by Morgan on the effects of gravity and rocket launch and return forces on natural Earth soils and biochar growth media. Morgan, with the support of the team, conducted experiments on the International Space Station and a Blue Origin parabolic launch. Understanding how gravity affects soil will have applications to both Earth and space.

Earth-like ecosystems and infrastructure

Morgan’s study of soil in space is toward the goal of establishing a sustainable human presence in space. We began investigation of the question of human sustainability in space with our first paper in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, ‘Terraform Sustainability Assessment Framework for bioregenerative life support systems’.

A quantified measure of sustainability requires that such an off-Earth human habitation be able to maintain stable levels of all resources utilized by humans, at least as stable as Earth. Accomplishing the development of such capability is known as terraforming.

Dependent on Earth

In our new hypothesis and theory paper, ‘Pancosmorio (world limit) theory of the sustainability of human migration and settlement in space’ we address the many questions that we set out in this editorial. For living in space, our theory states that a self-restoring basal (ie, natural) ecosystem with capacity and organization like what humans have on Earth must first be established before a human augmentational ecosystem (ie, technology, infrastructure, and society) can be sustained.

The basis for this theory is the science of ecological thermodynamics developed over the past 100 years and a new concept we call the semi-reversible heat engine cycle. A major conclusion of the theoretical development is that humans and all Earth-life have evolved to be dependent on conditions that are only naturally available at one place within our solar system, and that is Earth.

The human augmentational ecosystem requires a self-restoring basal ecosystem that utilizes dissipative structures functioning as semi-reversible heat engine cycles. Dissipative structures are a coalescence of materials into forms that enable the capture and movement of energy through the ecosphere in a way that builds up high levels of stored energy, also known as exergy. The formation of a dissipative structure requires the presence of a conservative force, such as the gravitational force involved in our water and air cycles (eg, weather) or the electrochemical force involved in the geochemistry of water and soil and the biochemistry of life.

The self-restoring basal ecosphere of Earth to which all Earth life is evolutionarily connected is sustained by the self-restoring order of the gravity well of Earth, the capacity of the surface area of Earth and a continuous inflow of power from the Sun at exactly one astronomical-unit distance, and the organization of accumulated exergy in an ecosystem network of living things evolved from the material resources available on Earth.

It is this very same evolutionary connection that makes Earth life so successful on Earth. Applying abductive reasoning, the theory postulates that this same success can be duplicated in space at any location where the same conditions can be established. Unfortunately, there is no other place in our solar system that is like Earth, regarding these conditions.

Human life on Earth and in space

With the publication of the Pancosmorio theory, Lee has launched new initiatives and formed stakeholder teams to research and develop designs for space habitation systems that solve the problem of duplicating the self-restoring order, capacity, and organization of Earth.

The goal of such designs is to establish the gravitational dissipative structures necessary for self-restoring order, as described in the theory. There is the possibility that using a balanced sustainability approach to bootstrap a location into self-restoring order using artificial gravity and a sufficiently large soil-and-plant-based ecosystem could enable the establishment of a sustainable human settlement in space. Such a feat would still require similar power levels to the solar insolation available on Earth, as well as a sustainable supply of material resources. And the area requirements are large indeed.

The Pancosmorio theory can also be applied to the establishment of more sustainable human living on Earth. One of our current Earth projects involves the challenges of food insecurity in the extreme environment of southern Alaska. The problems associated with extreme-environment agriculture have many similarities to space.

We are assisting native clans in establishing a localized agricultural circular economy. Norfolk Institute operates as a non-profit, specializing in cradle-to-deployment execution that involves the assembly of a team of stakeholders from scientists to philanthropic, governmental, and non-governmental organizations to commercial businesses and end users all along the value stream of a local agricultural economy, just as we do with our space research. Assembling such teams better assures implementation of research in market solutions.

All of Earth life is evolutionary connected to Earth and space. The Pancosmorio theory postulates that sustainment of human life either on Earth or in space depends upon understanding how these connections enable life.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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Five Canadian cities can now be seen virtually on Google Maps – CTV News Toronto

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Toronto is one of the five Canadian cities that are now viewable on the new Google Immersive View, a new feature that gives users a lifelike, multi-dimensional view of cities on its maps platform.

The feature launched last year in cities like Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin. It is now also available in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton,

The new feature, which uses AI to fuse billions of Street View and aerial images together, allows people to experience a city virtually.

“Imagine planning a summer getaway to Toronto. With Immersive View on Google Maps, you can experience the city before you even arrive,” Google said in a news blog.

“Take a virtual flight over the iconic CN Tower, then seamlessly descend to street level to explore nearby restaurants, hotels, and attractions.”

Google states that people would be able to virtually wander the “charming cobblestone streets of Old Montreal” and “admire Ottawa’s historic Parliament Hill, all from the comfort of your phone.”

Viewers, they said, could also use their time slider to see the temperature, how crowded an area can be and what the city looks like at different times of the day.

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Google Pixel 9 Pro XL stars in hands-on video compared to Pixel 9 and Galaxy S24 Ultra – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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Last week the ‘vanilla’ Google Pixel 9 leaked in not one, but two hands-on videos, and now it’s time for the Pixel 9 Pro XL to get the exact same treatment. It was spotted on TikTok today in two quick videos.

The first one is comparing it to the Pixel 9, which will be smaller than the Pro XL.

The second video shows us the Pixel 9 Pro XL alongside Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra, in order to get a good feel for the upcoming Pixel’s size and how it compares to Samsung’s biggest flagship.

Google is unveiling the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, Pixel 9 Pro XL, and Pixel 9 Pro Fold on August 13, at a surprise event that’s taking place two months earlier than usual. We assumed the company may have chosen to do that in order to prevent leaks, but that’s clearly not working at all.

The Pixel 9 will be the successor to the Pixel 8, while the Pixel 9 Pro XL will be the successor to the Pixel 8 Pro. The Pixel 9 Pro will have the Pixel 9 Pro XL’s innards in a package about the size of the Pixel 9, while the Pixel 9 Pro Fold is the successor to the original Pixel Fold. Hopefully that explains Google’s strategy this year.

Yesterday pricing for all of these devices got leaked, and it was a mixed bag – some prices are staying the same compared to last year, but a lot of them are going up – Samsung did this too with the Galaxy Z Fold6 and Z Flip6 earlier this week, so it’s turning into somewhat of an unfortunate trend.

Source 1 | Source 2 | Via

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Vision Pro: As Apple headset reaches Europe, will VR ever hit the mainstream? – BBC.com

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As Apple headset reaches Europe, will VR ever hit the mainstream?

The Vision Pro launched in the UK and parts of Europe on Friday

To get a sense of the public interest in the Vision Pro, Apple’s very high-tech, very expensive virtual reality (VR) headset – finally launched in the UK and Europe on Friday – where better to head than one of its own stores?

In the past, people camped outside Apple branches overnight, so desperate were they to get their hands on the tech giant’s latest product.

When I went to its branch in central London on Friday morning, though, there was just a small group, mainly comprised of men, waiting for the doors to open.

Partly, that’s because people these days prefer the convenience of pre-orders.

But it also perhaps tells us something about the question that continues to hang over the VR headset market: will it ever escape the realm of tech aficionados and go truly mainstream?

Apple’s plan to make its product break through is to position it as a product you use to do the stuff you already do – only better. Home videos become 3D-like, panoramic photos stretch from floor to ceiling, 360 degrees around you. Apple keeps reminding me it calls this “spatial content”. Nobody else does. Plenty suck their teeth at the Vision Pro’s price though – a whopping £3,499.

Facebook owner Meta has been watching Apple’s approach closely. It’s been in the VR game a long time. At a recent demo for the Meta Quest 3, which has been available in the UK since 2023, the team was very keen to talk to me about “multi-tasking” – having multiple screens in action at once. In a demo I had a web browser, YouTube and Messenger in a line in front of me. “We always did this, we just didn’t really talk about it,” one Meta worker told me.

And in its most recent advertisement, a man wears a Quest 3 to watch video instructions while building a crib. Not the most exciting concept, perhaps, but it shows just how Meta wants people to see its tech.

Oh – and it costs less than £500.

A woman using the Quest 3 headset. It is white, clean and goggle-shaped. However, it looks less sleek and futuristic than Apple's product. In comparison, you would struggle to argue it looks as cool as the Vision Pro.
It is believed Meta’s Quest series of headsets have sold more than 20 million units worldwide – though the firm does not release sales figures

Apple and Meta are the two big players but VR is a crowded market – there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of different headsets already out there.

But what unites them all is none have quite hit the mainstream.

Up until now, the Vision Pro has only been on sale in the US – research firm IDC predicts it will shift fewer than 500,000 units this year.

Meta, which has been in the market longer, does not release sales data for the Quest either but it’s thought to have sold around 20 million worldwide.

VR headsets are nowhere near as ubiquitous as tablets, let alone mobile phones.

And it gets worse – George Jijiashvili, analyst at market research firm Omdia, said of those devices sold, many are abandoned.

“This is largely due to the limited in-flow of compelling content to keep up engagement,” he said.

But of course lack of content leads to reduced interest – and a reduced incentive for developers to make that content in the first place.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation,” Mr Jijiashvili told the BBC.

Alan Boyce, the founder of mixed reality studio DragonfiAR, warned that early adopters of the Vision Pro would have to “be patient” while more content arrived.

That’s where the Quest 3 wins out for him – it already has a “robust library” of games, and it can perform virtual desktop tasks just like the Vision Pro.

And IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo says we should not be too quick to write off a slow start for Apple’s new product.

“There’s always the expectation that Apple with every single product will sell in the millions straight away, there’s always the comparison with the iPhone,” he said.

But the reality is even the iPhone took time to find its feet – and a huge number of buyers.

According to Melissa Otto from S&P Global Market Intelligence, the iPhone only became mainstream when the App Store “started to explode with apps that added value to our lives”.

“When people start to feel their lives are becoming better and more convenient, that’s when they’re willing to take the leap,” she said.

The VR experience

There is another factor to consider here too though: the physical experience of using a headset.

Both Apple and Meta use so-called “passthrough” technology to enable what is known as mixed reality – the blending of the real and computer-generated worlds.

By utilising cameras on the outside of the headset, users are given a live, high-definition video feed of their surroundings – meaning they can wear it while doing things like walking or exercising.

But strapping something to your face weighing half a kilogram is not something that feels particularly natural. Generally headsets now are lighter than before, but I still can’t imagine wearing any of them for hours on end – though a colleague says he often does just this.

A sizeable number of people, myself included, have experienced VR sickness, which is when being in VR makes you feel queasy. This has significantly improved as the tech has advanced and is much less of a problem – but any experience that has you moving around with a controller instead of your feet will still take some getting used to.

Most VR experiences now include all sorts of settings to avoid this, such as the ability to “teleport” between locations. Sony’s VR game Horizon: Call of the Mountain solved the problem by letting you move by swinging your arms up and down – it sounds silly, but it goes some way to trick the brain and avoid nausea.

A man uses the PlayStation VR 2. It is larger than the other two headsets, and it is a sleek white curved shape.
Sony says it sold 600,000 PlayStation VR 2 headsets in the first six weeks after it launched in February 2023. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sony has focused on gaming with its headset.

Goggles or implants?

Whatever the experts say, the companies themselves appear bullish about their products, and their respective strengths

It’s no secret that the long-term ambition from the tech giants here is for mixed, or augmented, reality to become normal reality. Facebook owner Meta renamed itself after its grand plan for us all to inhabit a virtual world called the Metaverse – working, resting and playing there, and presenting ourselves as digital avatar versions of our ordinary selves. That all seems to have gone a bit quiet at the moment.

But they are all right in that one day, something will replace our phones and perhaps that thing is some form of VR headset. Eventually, I expect these things will start to look more like glasses and less like giant ski goggles… if they’re not brain implants (I’m not joking).

“The devices that look like what they look like today – I think we know that’s not a mass market device. It’s too heavy, it’s too awkward,” said Mr Jijiashvili.

That’s an area where rivals have focused their efforts, with Viture and XReal producing sunglasses with high-fidelity screens embedded in them.

Melissa Brown, head of Development Relations at Meta, told us she “absolutely” thought the Quest 3 could one day replace the smartphone. But the next day Meta’s PR team got in touch with a more measured response from Mark Zuckerberg, in which he said “the last generation of computing doesn’t go away… it’s not like when we got phones, people stopped using computers”.

Judging by what I saw in the Apple store in London’s Regent Street, the UK is not about to be flooded with people wandering around in Vision Pros or Quest 3s.

The very first customer I spoke to had actually just popped in for a charger and was a bit bemused by Apple staff applause as he walked in.

But in the couple of hours we were there, several people walked out grinning with big white Apple bags. The question remains: how many more can be persuaded to do the same.

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