s.s. nautilus
slashdot le : 25/07/2020 23:00:11
"Comet Neowise has been the brightest and most visible space snowball in a generation, but it's also the first naked-eye comet to visit us in the new era of satellite mega-constellations like SpaceX's Starlink," writes CNET.

"In just the latest episode of Starlink 'trains' irritating astronomers, a number of images have been circulating of the satellites photo-bombing Comet Neowise glamour shots..."

Live Science explains: Visible just above the horizon right now, the comet appears faint and small to the naked eye, but can be seen clearly through cameras with long, telephoto lenses. Usually, when photographers capture objects like this in the night sky they use long exposure times, leaving the camera aperture open to collect light over the course of several seconds. But now comet-chasers report that a new fleet of SpaceX's Starlink satellites is leaving bright smears across their NEOWISE snaps, as the shiny orbiters streak through their frames during long exposures.

slashdot le : 24/07/2020 01:00:09
"A photo and film restoration specialist, who goes by the name of DutchSteamMachine, has worked some AI magic to enhance original Apollo film, creating strikingly clear and vivid video clips and images," reports Universe Today: Take a look at this enhanced footage from an Apollo 16 lunar rover traverse with Charlie Duke and John Young, where the footage that was originally shot with 12 frames per second (FPS) has been increased to 60 FPS... And I was blown away by the crisp view of the Moon's surface in this enhanced view of Apollo 15's landing site at Hadley Rille... Or take a look at how clearly Neil Armstrong is visible in this enhanced version of the often-seen "first step" video from Apollo 11 taken by a 16mm video camera inside the Lunar Module...

The AI that DutchSteamMachine uses is called Depth-Aware video frame INterpolation, or DAIN for short. This AI is open source, free and constantly being developed and improved upon... "People have used the same AI programs to bring old film recordings from the 1900s back to life, in high definition and colour," he said. "This technique seemed like a great thing to apply to much newer footage...."

DutchSteamMachine does this work in his spare time, and posts it for free on his YouTube page. His tagline is "Preserving the past for the future..." And he's planning to keep it all coming. "I plan to improve tons of Apollo footage like this," he said. "A lot more space and history-related footage is going to be published on my YT channel continuously." He also has a Flickr page with more enhanced imagery. [And a Patreon page...]

Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 calls it "similar to what Peter Jackson did with old World War I footage for They Shall Not Grow Old ."

slashdot le : 04/07/2020 11:00:10
German lawmakers have finalized the country's long-awaited phase-out of coal as an energy source, backing a plan that environmental groups say isn't ambitious enough and free marketeers criticize as a waste of taxpayers' money. From a report: Bills approved by both houses of parliament Friday envision shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 and spending some $45 billion to help affected regions cope with the transition. The plan is part of Germany's 'energy transition' -- an effort to wean Europe's biggest economy off planet-warming fossil fuels and generate all of the country's considerable energy needs from renewable sources. Achieving that goal is made harder than in comparable countries such as France and Britain because of Germany's existing commitment to also phase out nuclear power by the end of 2022. "The days of coal are numbered in Germany," Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said. "Germany is the first industrialized country that leaves behind both nuclear energy and coal." Greenpeace and other environmental groups have staged vocal protests against the plan, including by dropping a banner down the front of the Reichstag building Friday. They argue that the government's road map won't reduce Germany's greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet the targets set out in the Paris climate accord.

slashdot le : 30/06/2020 10:00:10
Scientists have gone back and forth over exactly what caused a mass extinction event 66 million years ago, which destroyed about 75% of all life on Earth, including all of the large dinosaurs. Some have thought that volcanic activity could be to blame, but one new study shows that a giant asteroid impact was the prime culprit. Space.com reports: In a new study, researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Bristol and University College London have shown that the asteroid impact, not volcanic activity, was the main reason that about 75% of life on Earth perished at that time, and it did so by significantly interfering with Earth's climate and ecosystems. To come to this conclusion, the researchers modeled how Earth's climate would be expected to respond to two separate possible extinction causes: volcanism and asteroid impact. In these mathematical models, they included environmental factors including rainfall and temperature, which would have been critical to the survival of these species. They also included the presence of sunlight-blocking gases and particles and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. With these models, the team found that the giant asteroid hitting our planet would have released tremendous amounts of gas and particles into Earth's atmosphere, blocking out the sun for years on end. This effect would have created a sort of semi-permanent winter on Earth, making the planet unlivable for most of its inhabitants.

Now, while the team found the asteroid impact to be the major factor in making Earth unlivable for most animals, they also found that volcanic activity could have actually helped life to recover over time, a conclusion that scientists have drawn before. They found that, while volcanoes do release sunlight-blocking gases and particles, which would have helped to block the sun in the short term, they also release large amounts of carbon dioxide which, because it's a greenhouse gas, would have built up in the atmosphere and warmed the planet. So, as the researchers suggest in this work, while the devastating winter caused by the asteroid killed off most life on Earth, over time, the warming effect created from the volcanic greenhouse gases could have helped to restore life to habitats.
The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

slashdot le : 19/06/2020 03:00:10
cold fjord writes: Sir Ian Holm, a classically trained actor celebrated for his interpretations of Shakespeare, and with an astonishing range of work in important science fiction and fantasy films, has died at age 88. Holm's depiction of King Lear was celebrated, and he brought Puck to life in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." But most people on Slashdot will remember him for a few other roles, such as Bilbo Baggins, in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and two of the "Hobbit" movies. Holm also appeared in "Alien" as the android Ash, as Napoleon in "Time Bandits," and Cornelius in "The Fifth Element." Holm received a Tony Award in 1967, a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in 1998, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1981, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Chariots of Fire. Holm received royal honors in 1989 and 1998.