Friday, March 3, 2023

Short Takes – 3-3-23

The Chinese balloon saga could be part of a new space race closer to Earth. article. Pull quote: “Much of that research appears purely scientific, based on papers and patents published by near-space researchers, in line with Beijing's claim that the airship shot down over the U.S. was a civilian research balloon. Yet even simple meteorological data can have military applications, say analysts, collected at a fraction of the cost of operating a satellite.”

Norfolk Southern and Other Freight Railroads Agree to Join Federal Close-Call Reporting System. article. Pull quote: “Safety regulators and investigators have said that having a system where rank-and-file workers can anonymously file reports of minor incidents and close calls has greatly benefited the aviation industry, and that a lack of participation from most companies in the railroad industry has stymied safety. The railroads said that they intend to continue with their own internal close-call programs, which they said allow them to respond more quickly.”

Deflecting sun’s rays to cool overheating Earth needs study, scientists say. article. Pull quote: “The basic mechanism behind this is well understood – volcanic eruptions similarly cause sunlight to dim – but solar geoengineering has never been tested fully and faced severe opposition when this has been attempted, due to fears of unknown environmental knock-on impacts and concerns over the lack of governance surrounding the practice.”

U.S. regulators rejected Elon Musk’s bid to test brain chips in humans, citing safety risks. article. Pull quote: “The rejection has not been previously reported. In explaining the decision to Neuralink, the agency outlined dozens of issues the company must address before human testing, a critical milestone on the path to final product approval, the staffers said. The agency’s major safety concerns involved the device’s lithium battery; the potential for the implant’s tiny wires to migrate to other areas of the brain; and questions over whether and how the device can be removed without damaging brain tissue, the employees said.”

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