Google search now features results from Twitter

Updated 24 August 2015

Google search now features results from Twitter

If you want to learn more about a particular topic, a personality or a hashtag, you don’t need to go to Twitter and search your timeline. Just go to Google, as the desktop search now provides real-time tweets fresh from Twitter servers.
As long as your search terms are keywords or active hashtags at the time of the search, Google will provide you with a number of tweets related to the search term along with its standard search results. For example, if you search Google for Arab News, it will not only give you a link to the newspaper’s website, but also a couple of links to its recent reports, the Twitter handle of the newspaper, as well as a couple of the recent tweets as well.
Even better, searching for a public figure or a celebrity would lead to more tweets about that person. “If you search for Malcolm X, and today is Malcolm X’s birthday, you would find popular-on-Twitter results with a link to ‘more tweets for Malcolm X,’” reported the Financial Express.
For reporters and news followers, it is a particularly nice feature. For any searched term, you are instantly connected to the current discussion surrounding a person or a topic of interest.
This step came to follow the earlier mobile search partnership that took place back in May. Especially for Twitter, it is a big step. Just imagine tweets appearing next to the billions of search terms people make on a daily basis (there are 40,000 search queries made per second on Google, or around 3.65 billion search queries per day, according to “Internet Live States”).
Twitter hopes that these tweets would incite people to visit its platform, sign up if they do not already have accounts, and engage in discussions. Twitter is trying to expand its users base. For Google, it is just another step in solidifying its position as the search engine of choice for a lot of people.
“The partnership is great news for Twitter which has suffered recently as a result of stagnating user growth and subsequent investor fears. The presence of tweets relevant to users’ searches will increase the likelihood of more people signing up to the micro-blogging platform and will promote the service in a relevant and engaging way,” reported The Drum, a marketing magazine.
The feature is only available in English at the moment, but it would be rolled out in other languages soon. “To start, we’re launching this on Google.com in English in the Google app (on Android and iOS) and on mobile browsers, rolling out gradually. We’re working on bringing it to more languages and to desktop, so stay tuned,” Google mentioned in a blogpost.


China says moon rocks offer new clues to volcanic activity

Updated 21 October 2021

China says moon rocks offer new clues to volcanic activity

  • China in December brought back the first rocks from the moon since missions by the US and former Soviet Union in the 1970s

BEIJING: Moon rocks brought back to Earth by a Chinese robotic spacecraft last year have provided new insights into ancient lunar volcanic activity, a researcher said Tuesday.
Li Xianhua said an analysis of the samples revealed new information about the moon’s chemical composition and the way heat affected its development.
Li said the samples indicate volcanic activity was still occurring on the moon as recently as 2 billion years ago, compared to previous estimates that such activity halted between 2.8 billion and 3 billion years ago.
“Volcanic activities are a very important thing on the moon. They show the vitality inside the moon, and represent the recycling of energy and matter inside the moon,” Li told reporters.
China in December brought back the first rocks from the moon since missions by the US and former Soviet Union in the 1970s.
On Saturday, China launched a new three-person crew to its space station, a new milestone in a space program that has advanced rapidly in recent years.
China became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a person in space on its own in 2003 and now ranks among the leading space powers.
Alongside its crewed program, it has expanded its work on robotic exploration, retrieving the lunar samples and landing a rover on the little-explored far side of the moon. It has also placed the Tianwen-1 space probe on Mars, whose accompanying Zhurong rover has been exploring for evidence of life on the red planet.
China also plans to collect soil from an asteroid and bring back additional lunar samples. The country also hopes to land people on the moon and possibly build a scientific base there. A highly secretive space plane is also reportedly under development.
The military-run Chinese space program has also drawn controversy. China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday brushed-off a report that China had tested a hypersonic missile two months ago. A ministry spokesperson said it had merely tested whether a new spacecraft could be reused.


South Korea seeks space race entry with first homegrown rocket

Updated 21 October 2021

South Korea seeks space race entry with first homegrown rocket

  • South Korea's space program has a chequered record — its first two launches in 2009 and 2010, which in part used Russian technology, both ended in failure

SEOUL: South Korea is aiming to join the ranks of advanced spacefaring nations on Thursday when it attempts to put a one-ton payload into orbit using its first fully homegrown rocket.
The country has risen to become the world’s 12th-largest economy and a technologically advanced nation, home to the planet’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, Samsung Electronics.
But it has lagged in the headline-making world of spaceflight, where the Soviet Union led the way with the first satellite launch in 1957, closely followed by the United States.
In Asia, China, Japan and India all have advanced space programs, and the South’s nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea was the most recent entrant to the club of countries with their own satellite launch capability.
Ballistic missiles and space rockets use similar technology and Pyongyang put a 300-kilogramme (660-pound) satellite into orbit in 2012 in what Western countries condemned as a disguised missile test.
Even now, only six nations — not including North Korea — have successfully launched a one-ton payload on their own rockets.
The South will become the seventh if the Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II, informally called Nuri, succeeds in putting its 1.5-ton dummy cargo into orbit from the launch site in Goheung, with an altitude of 600 to 800 kilometers being targeted.
The three-stage rocket has been a decade in development at a cost of 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion). It weighs 200 tons and is 47.2 meters (155 feet) long, fitted with a total of six liquid-fueled engines.

But the South Korean space program has a chequered record — its first two launches in 2009 and 2010, which in part used Russian technology, both ended in failure, the second one exploding two minutes into the flight and Seoul and Moscow blaming each other.
Eventually a 2013 launch succeeded, but still relied on a Russian-developed engine for its first stage.
The satellite launch business is increasingly the preserve of private companies, notably Elon Musk’s SpaceX, whose clients include the US space agency NASA and the South Korean military.
But one expert said a successful Nuri launch offered South Korea “infinite” potential.
“Rockets are the only means available to mankind to go out into space,” Lee Sang-ryul, the director of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, told local paper Chosun Biz.
“Having such technology means we have fulfilled basic requirements to join this space exploration competition.”
Thursday’s launch is one step on an increasingly ambitious space program for South Korea, which President Moon Jae-in said would seek to launch a lunar orbiter next year, after he inspected a Nuri engine test in March.
“With achievements in South Korean rocket systems, the government will pursue an active space exploration project,” he said.
“We will realize the dream of landing our probe on the Moon by 2030.”


China launches second crewed mission to build space station

Updated 16 October 2021

China launches second crewed mission to build space station

  • Shenzhou-13 is the second of four crewed missions needed to complete the space station by the end of 2022
  • With the ISS set to retire in a few years, China’s space station will become the only one in Earth’s orbit

JIUQUAN, China: China on Saturday launched a rocket carrying three astronauts — two men and one woman — to the core module of a future space station where they will live and work for six months, the longest orbit for Chinese astronauts.
A Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which means “Divine Vessel,” blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu at 12:23 a.m. (1623 GMT on Friday).
The vessel successfully docked to the port of the space station on at 6:56 a.m. (2156 GMT), and the astronauts entered the space station’s core module at 10:03 a.m., the China Manned Space Agency said.
China began constructing the space station in April with the launch of Tianhe — the first and largest of the station’s three modules. Slightly bigger than a city bus, Tianhe will be the living quarters of the completed space station.
Shenzhou-13 is the second of four crewed missions needed to complete the space station by the end of 2022. During the first crewed mission https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/chinese-astronauts-return-after-90-day-mission-space-station-2021-09-17 that concluded in September, three other astronauts stayed on Tianhe for 90 days.
In the latest mission, astronauts will carry out tests of the key technologies and robotics on Tianhe needed to assemble the space station, verify onboard life support systems and conduct a host of scientific experiments.
The mission commander is Zhai Zhigang, 55, from China’s first batch of astronaut trainees in the late 1990s. Born to a rural family with six children, Zhai carried out China’s first spacewalk in 2008. Shenzhou-13 was his second space mission.
“The most challenging task will be the long-term stay in orbit for six months,” Zhai told a news conference on Thursday. “It will exact higher demands (on us), both physically and psychologically.”
He was accompanied by Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, both 41.
Wang, also born to a rural family, is known among colleagues for her tenacity. The former air force pilot first traveled to space in 2013, to Tiangong-1, a prototype space lab.
She is China’s second female astronaut in space, following Liu Yang in 2012.
Shenzhou-13 is the first space mission for the third astronaut, Ye.
After the crew returns to Earth in April, China plans to deploy six more missions, including deliveries of the second and third space station modules and two final crewed missions.
China, barred by US law from working with NASA and by extension on the International Space Station (ISS), has spent the past decade developing technologies to build its own.
With the ISS set to retire in a few years, China’s space station will become the only one in Earth’s orbit.
China’s space program has come far since late leader Mao Zedong lamented that the country could not even launch a potato into space. China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, in October 2003, following the former Soviet Union and the United States. (Reporting by Carlos Garcia and Xihao Jiang; additional reporting by Josh Horwitz; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Nick Macfie and William Mallard)


For the love of space: Saudis celebrate International Astronomy Day

Updated 09 October 2021

For the love of space: Saudis celebrate International Astronomy Day

  • ‘Space exploration unites us as a species, despite our differences,’ says Astromania co-founder

JEDDAH: Astronomy enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia are observing International Astronomy Day and World Space Week this year by encouraging others to look up in wonder with some visual and auditory help.

International Astronomy Day is celebrated twice a year — around the times of the Spring and Autumn equinox or first quarter moon — to highlight how the constellations and other astronomical objects vary throughout the year.

Arab and Muslim scholars have made significant contributions to astronomy throughout history — suggesting scientific and mathematical methods; naming stars and nebulae; and more.

While it may seem that we now spend less time looking at the skies, and more time looking down at our screens, 21st-century technology is actually enabling enthusiasts across the world to share knowledge, spread information, and raise awareness at lightning speed.  

In Saudi Arabia, Astromania — founded by Mahdi Al-Sulaiman, Fatima Hilal, and Abdullah Al-Meshari, a trio of space lovers — has made good use of this technology, starting a podcast in 2019 to complement its stargazing trips into the desert, which enable people to check out some of the brightest astronomical objects through telescopes.

International Astronomy Day is celebrated twice a year to highlight how the constellations and other astronomical objects vary throughout the year. (Supplied)

“I’ve always been interested about space, and I wanted to create an Arabic platform that helps other people to know more about it in a non-academic style, in a fun and easy-to-understand way,” Hilal told Arab News.

“People were weirded out and surprised when they heard about the subject. But now people understand the idea when they listened to the podcast for the first time. I know it is a unique subject, but it is a passion of mine,” she added.

While there is Arabic-language astronomy content available online —  notably on Wikipedia and a few social-media pages — Astromania is, the group claim, the first podcast in Arabic talking about astronomy and space. It is an independent project, but the founders work closely with the Saudi Space Authority too.

The podcast quickly gathered popularity, even attracting the attention of the Kingdom’s Unified National Platform, which selected Astromania as one of the top 14 podcasts to listen to during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to create something out of love, so basically we are doing this podcast for free,” Hilal said. “The main reason why we created this podcast is to educate people more about the world and people’s support is very important to us.”

HIGHLIGHTS

While there is Arabic-language astronomy content available online Astromania is the first podcast in Arabic talking about astronomy and space. It is an independent project, but the founders work closely with the Saudi Space Authority too.

The podcast quickly gathered popularity, even attracting the attention of the Kingdom’s Unified National Platform, which selected Astromania as one of the top 14 podcasts to listen to during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To celebrate World Space Week,  the UK’s National Space Center is running a ‘Women in Space’ program to shed light on women’s role in the science of space and astronomy throughout history.

To celebrate World Space Week (which runs from October 4-10),  the UK’s National Space Center is running a “Women in Space” program to shed light on women’s role in the science of space and astronomy throughout history. Hilal expressed her excitement at the theme.

“This will definitely help young girls to consider space science as a profession,” she said. “We already have some successful Saudi women who work in the field, like Ghada Al-Muttairi and Mashael Al-Shammari. They are setting an example for Saudi women.”

To coincide with International Astronomy Day and World Space Week, this month’s episode of the Astromania podcast features Jordanian-British filmmaker Kinda Al-Kurdi, who won the Best Documentary Short Film award for her film “As in Heaven, So on Earth” at the Moscow International Film Festival, Hilal said. “We are going to discuss the relationship between films and space.”

Hilal’s co-founder Mahdi Al-Sulaiman told Arab News that events such as World Space Week remind people “to think beyond our planet and beyond our differences. To work together as men and women of this great nation to pave the way for a better and prosperous future for the next generations.”

International Astronomy Day is celebrated twice a year to highlight how the constellations and other astronomical objects vary throughout the year. (Supplied)

He continued, “We are not just sharing one planet, we share one fate. And space exploration unites us as a species, despite our differences. I hope the celebration of International Astronomy Day will also inspire future generations to become astronauts, space scientists, or work in the space industry, to build a better tomorrow and take the next giant leaps to sustain mankind’s future.”

Joining in on the celebrations is avid Saudi astrophotographer Anas Al-Majed who has, for years, frequented the Kingdom’s many deserts, searching the night skies through his telescope for the perfect shot.

Al-Majed — who purchased his first telescope seven years ago — told Arab News he was “awestruck” by the detail it provided.

“From Saturn’s rings to Jupiter’s bands and Great Red Spot, my interest grew and I delved into deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion Nebula.”

His experience with astrophotography has made a lasting impression, he said. And he encourages everyone to consider taking the time to learn more about our galaxy and what lies beyond it.

“We need everyone to be part of space programs,” he said. “The space industry can help human advancement and provide equal opportunities for everyone.”

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Ancient river delta bolsters search for signs of life on Mars

Updated 08 October 2021

Ancient river delta bolsters search for signs of life on Mars

  • Last month mission scientists announced Perseverance had collected two rock samples in Jezero that showed signs they were in contact with groundwater for a long period

PARIS: Images from Mars reveal how water helped shape the Red Planet's landscape billions of years ago, and provide clues that will guide the search for evidence of ancient life, a study said Thursday.
In February, NASA's Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater, where scientists suspected a long-gone river once fed a lake, depositing sediment in a fan-shaped delta visible from space.
The study in Science analysed high-resolution images captured by Perseverance of the cliffs that were once the banks of the delta.
Layers within the cliffs reveal how its formation took place.
NASA astrobiologist Amy Williams and her team in Florida found similarities between features of the cliffs seen from the crater floor and patterns in Earth's river deltas.
The shape of the bottom three layers showed a presence and steady flow of water early on, indicating Mars was "warm and humid enough to support a hydrologic cycle" about 3.7 billion years ago, the study says.
The top and most recent layers feature boulders measuring more than a metre in diameter scattered about, probably carried there by violent flooding.
But it is the fine-grained sediment of the base layer that will likely be the target of sampling for signs of long-extinct life -- if it existed -- on Mars.
The findings will help researchers figure out where to send the rover for soil and rocks that may contain precious "biosignatures" of putative Martian life forms.
"From orbital images, we knew it had to be water that formed the delta," Williams said in a press release.
"But having these images is like reading a book instead of just looking at the cover."
Finding out whether life may have existed on Mars is the main mission of Perseverence, a project that took decades and cost billions of dollars to develop.

Over the course of several years, the multi-tasking rover will collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes, to be eventually sent back to Earth sometime in the 2030s for lab analysis.
Last month mission scientists announced Perseverance had collected two rock samples in Jezero that showed signs they were in contact with groundwater for a long period.
Their hope is that the samples might at one point have hosted ancient microbial life, evidence of which could have been trapped by salt minerals.
Learning that Mars might once have harboured life would be one of the most "profound" discoveries ever made by humanity, Williams said.
She also expressed wonder at having a window onto an ancient river system on another planet.
"It's really eye-opening to see something no one on Earth has ever seen before," she said.
Perseverance landed on February 18, and the study looks at long-distance images it captured during its first three months on Mars.
About the size of an SUV, it is equipped with 19 cameras, a two metre (seven foot) long robotic arm, two microphones, and a suite of cutting-edge instruments.
One of them is called the SuperCam, a tool that laser-zaps rocks from a distance in order to study their vapour with a device that reveals their chemical composition.
It took seven months for Perseverance to travel from Earth to Mars with its sister craft Ingenuity, a tiny helicopter whose rotors have to spin five times faster than Earth versions to get lift in the far-less-dense atmosphere.
The plan is for the rover to cross the delta, then the ancient lake shore, and finally explore the edges of the crater.