Stephen Hawking just gave humanity a due date for finding another planet. It’s 1000 years.

If humanity survives the rise of artificial intelligence, the ravages of climate change and the threat of nuclear terrorism in the next century, it doesn’t mean we’re home free, according to Stephen Hawking.

The renowned theoretical physicist has gone as far as providing humanity with a deadline for finding another planet to colonize: We have 1,000 years.

The Washington Post, published on November 17, 2016.

Stephen Hawking, the name that requires no introduction, has given a gentle warning to the whole race of humanity that we probably have only 1000 more years left on earth, and setting up new colonies on some other planets in the Solar System is the only thing that could save the race. Hawking’s estimation did not even consider the devastating global climatic challenges and nuclear capabilities of ready to war nations. He believes that we soon are going to encounter our enemies, whom we’re not even close to knowing how to deal with.

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The Trump Administration is Interested in Extracting Resources From The Moon

Supporting NASA

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget leaves most of NASA‘s funding intact, with the total budget coming in at $19.1 billion (slightly less than the $19.3 billion approved for 2017). Thanks to Motherboard’s acquisition of communication between the Trump Administration and NASA, we may have a little more insight as to why the administration views NASA as a good investment.

Most Awaited Space Science Missions of 2017
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According to documents, the Trump team asked for data and examples of NASA’s “technology development” with the commercial industry and information on whether government-funded developments are disseminated through contracts/partnerships.

In short, they wanted to know how NASA helped fund and fuel private industries and how they contribute to money-making enterprises—case in point, the administration asked about NASA’s plan to survey the Moon in order to locate potential raw materials and determine how they can best be extracted for mining purposes.

In response, NASA assured the administration that it continuously searches for appropriate public-private partnerships, expecting the technology that it develops to grow private commercial pursuits such as work in low-Earth orbit. Specifically, they say they are “working with industry to develop innovative cislunar [a region that is equidistant between Earth and the Moon] habitation concepts that leverage existing commercialization plans.”

A New Era In Space Exploration

The commercialization of low-Earth orbit could mean a treasure trove of resources totaling up to potentially trillions of dollars. Rare and valuable resources, such as platinum-group metals, can be mined from nearby asteroids or the Moon over a sustainable period of time. That is, only if NASA has the chance to survey the Moon’s “Polar volatiles,” or regions that include minable water, hydrogen, and methane — substances that can supply long-term human missions in the future.

This apparent focus from the administration is notable, as  Lunar and asteroid mining has received increased interest from the private sector over recent years, with companies such as Planetary Resources and NexGen Space (the president of which, Charles Miller, is part of Trump’s team) advocating for the feasibility and profitability of such endeavors. While NASA isn’t new to bolstering commercialized efforts in space, the space agency has subtly pointed out in Motherboard’s 100 paged FOIA request that its mission isn’t primarily commercial, but scientific.

“NASA envisions a future in which low Earth orbit is largely the domain of commercial activity while NASA leads its international and commercial partners in the human exploration of deep space,” they wrote.

To this end, the benefits of more private operations in space include greater transparency of costs, low-cost execution of launches and exploration, greater access to different vantage points in low-Earth orbit, quick production, international collaboration, and an overall facilitation of NASA’s over-arching goal of achieving human deep-space exploration.

While NASA is in it for the science, the administration might have other ideas. But will a stronger emphasis on profitability stifle innovation — or help it grow? We may get a clearer answer once the national budget is finalized and implemented.

The post The Trump Administration is Interested in Extracting Resources From The Moon appeared first on Futurism.

More Americans Work in Solar Power Than for Apple, Facebook, and Google Combined

Numbers Don’t Lie

Anyone watching the solar market has seen an amazing increase in solar photovoltaics (PV) sales over the past nine years, and GTM Research reports that the industry is still growing during the first quarter of 2017. In just under a decade, the solar market has experienced a 30-fold increase, and 2016 alone saw a notable surge in annual global PV demand in excess of 50 percent over the previous year.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
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At one point in March, the share of California’s power demand going to solar actually topped 50 percent for the first time. This was no fluke. For a few hours just last week, 40 percent of the state’s power demand was filled by utility-scale solar generation, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

This doesn’t account for the fact that some homes and businesses use rooftop PV to generate power — about “4 million kilowatthours (kWh) during the peak solar hours,” the IEA calculates, “suggesting that the total solar share of gross demand probably exceeded 50 percent during the mid-day hours.”

Solar Power Delivers Jobs

As of 2016, California had just over 100,000 solar jobs  —  a one-third increase over 2015’s figures. The U.S. as a whole added 50,000 solar jobs in 2016, a record in its own right. According to The Solar Foundation, the solar industry in the U.S. employs more than 260,000 workers nationwide — that’s more workers than Apple, Facebook, and Google combined.

It is 2017, and we are about to experience summer in what is predicted to be the hottest year in recorded history. That year will come on the heels of three record-breaking years before it.

Climate change predictions are absolutely grounded in scientific data and process. Continuing to ignore or dispute them is dangerous folly. Support of clean energy is not only a way to prevent climate change from hurting future generations, it is also a way to support the lives of those already on our planet.

The post More Americans Work in Solar Power Than for Apple, Facebook, and Google Combined appeared first on Futurism.

This Watch Changes Your Perception of Time

It’s About Time

The Hidden Time Watch, a Kickstarter-backed invention, looks just like any other watch from a distance; however, there’s a reason the team has already raised more than double its original goal.

Industrial designer Jiwoong Jung has found a unique way to express his fascination with time. As part of the Trio of Time, an international collaboration that melds technology and design, Jung created a watch that literally shows time disappearing. Using an ever-changing gradient display, the watch is designed to remind the wearer to live in the moment, instead of focusing on the past, obsessing over the future, or otherwise wasting the relatively little time that we have.

In a brightly lit coffee shop in Williamsburg, Max Stossel, a filmmaker and advocate in the Time Well Spent movement, succinctly summarizes the problem with how we spend our time in modern society. Highlighting the ways in which the design of our devices, in many ways, isn’t working in our favor, he states, “We live in an attention economy, one where the measure of success is in ‘time spent.’ There’s a lot of money to be made when we are spending our time on specific apps, company websites, and social media accounts. To that end, our technology is often designed around base metrics of ‘what grabs your attention?’”

With this in mind, according to Jung, the Hidden Time watch is meant to remind people of how they are spending their time—to draw people out of whatever their “time-suck” is and remind them that their time is limited and, thus, of terrible importance.

Indeed, time is our most valuable resource.
How to read Hidden Time

Art and Time

This watch’s sleek design allows the main focus to remain on the gradient face. It is made with top-of-the-line materials, and it is a testament to what is possible when art and technology merge. At it’s best, technology gives us new ways of seeing the world around us.

To that end, while mechanical aspects are often what tech stories are about, here, we see how inspiration and artistic interpretation can take something as simple as a watch and create a statement.

And keep in mind, creativity has allowed some of the greatest minds in history to answer questions that were previously thought unanswerable, to invent the never-before-seen, and derive new meaning from the natural world.

The post This Watch Changes Your Perception of Time appeared first on Futurism.

Sally Can Create and Serve 1,000 Different Meals, but This Chef’s Not Human

Meet Sally

Sally can make 1,000 different types of salads using 21 ingredients that change depending on what’s seasonally available. She can create a salad in just about a minute and doesn’t require a living wage because, well, she’s not living.

Will Automation Steal My Job?
Click to View Full Infographic

Created by robotics startup Chowbotics, Sally the Salad Robot is destined for popularity as it provides hungry patrons with a wealth of healthy options. Chef Charlie Ayers, the first executive chef at Google, created a number of signature salads that customers can choose to order, but if they are not interested in a pre-planned option, they can customize their meal from the different ingredients offered.

CEO Deepak Sekar hopes to provide quick, healthy meals to busy professionals, at least in part replacing greasy fast food options. Sally’s capabilities will soon be put to the test as Sekar hopes to have 125 of the robots in tech offices in the San Francisco area by the end of 2017.

The Age of Automation

Sally is a testament to the age of automation. It’s sign that, in the very near future, we might be interacting with far more robots and far fewer people. Sally confirms that even the preparation of a chef-curated signature meal can be completed by a machine.

Meet Sally. Image Credit: Chowbotics
Image Credit: Chowbotics

Now, Sally does still need humans to help it operate. The robot gets its ingredients from canisters that need to be loaded and reloaded by hand. But, even though humans are needed to keep the machine up and running, the difference between two humans interacting about a lunch order and the interaction between a human and Sally is monumentally different.

How automation will lead to job loss is a frequently discussed topic, and it is a major issue that we will have to find creative solutions to manage. But less talked about is how we, as humans, will change. If your daily interactions started to feature progressively fewer and fewer people, how might it affect you?

The post Sally Can Create and Serve 1,000 Different Meals, but This Chef’s Not Human appeared first on Futurism.

Bridenstine still “in the mix” to be the next NASA administrator

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), after testifying before the House Armed Services Committee during posture hearings at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C., Feb. 26, 2014. U.S. DoD/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton

Rep. Jim Bridenstine says he’s still “in the mix” to be the next NASA administrator.

The Oklahoma Republican told a Tulsa TV station that he was recently interviewed again by the White House for the job, but doesn’t know when the administration will make a decision on the position.

“I don’t know what the end result is, but I keep interviewing, which is an indicator that maybe I’m still in the mix for it,” he said. [KOTV Tulsa]


More News

An Atlas 5 is set to roll out to the pad today for a Tuesday launch of a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. Managers gave their approval Sunday to proceed with preparations for the launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft Tuesday at 11:11 a.m. Eastern on a mission designated OA-7. The Orbital ATK cargo spacecraft, is carrying more than 3,400 kilograms of supplies, experiments and other hardware for the ISS. [Florida Today]

President Trump has nominated two former congressman to fill vacancies on the board of the Ex-Im Bank. The White House announced late Friday that the president nominated former Reps. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and Spencer T. Bachus III (R-Ala.) to fill two of the three vacancies on the board, with Garrett serving as president. Garrett, while in Congress, was a staunch opponent of the bank, dubbing its lending practices “crony capitalism,” while Bachus was a supporter of the bank. Ex-Im currently lacks a quorum on its five-member board, which prevents it from approving large deals, such as financing for commercial satellites and launches. [SpaceNews]

A letter signed by 20 members of Congress asks the Pentagon not to change its current plans to support development of new launch systems. The letter, sent to Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week, called on him to maintain the current program that is supporting development of complete launch systems, rather than focus on components such as engines. The bipartisan letter’s signatories include Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. The letter comes after some leading members of the committee suggested that the Air Force should have a say in what engine United Launch Alliance chooses for its Vulcan vehicle, views that they have since backed away from. [SpaceNews]

A leading Air Force official says the service needs more people working in space intelligence roles. At a breakfast Friday, Lt. Gen. David Buck, commander of the 14th Air Force and leader of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space under U.S. Strategic Command, says space units in the Air Force have far fewer intelligence specialists than those under the Air Combat Command. Buck said discussions are already underway within the Air Force about getting more intelligence personnel into space units. [SpaceNews]

The general in command of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station says he’s been asked to stay on the job an extra year. Air Force Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith was expected to complete a two-year tour of duty this summer as commander of the 45th Space Wing. However, he said he’s been asked by Gen. Jay Raymond, the head of Air Force Space Command, to remain as commander for an additional year. Monteith said he will use the additional time to continue initiatives to streamline operations, including the ability to support two launches within one day. [Florida Today]

Raytheon says its ground control system for GPS is back on track after serious cost and schedule problems. A company executive in charge of the OCX program said the program has hit every milestone since implementing a series of “corrective actions” after those problems, which attracted attention, and criticism, from both Air Force leadership and members of Congress. The Defense Department declared a Nunn-McCurdy breach for OCX last June, putting it at risk of cancellation, but approved plans in October to correct its problems. [SpaceNews]

United Launch Alliance is planning to lay off 48 workers at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, report released by a state agency last week said the layoffs would take effect June 1. The layoffs are part of a broader effort by ULA to reduce jobs, primarily through voluntary departures. [Lompoc (Calif.) Record]

Britain’s role in several major space projects will be part of the negotiations about the country’s departure from the European Union. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the senior space official for the European Commission, said earlier this month that the commission will seek to keep the majority of the work on the Galileo and Copernicus satellite programs within member nations, which could affect British companies currently involved in those programs. The U.K.’s decision to leave the E.U., known as Brexit, does not affect its work on European Space Agency programs, as Britain remains a member of ESA. [Spaceflight Now]

SpaceNews.com

Trump nominates two former congressmen to Ex-Im Bank board

U.S. Export-Import Bank. Credit: House Minority Whip

WASHINGTON — The White House announced April 14 that President Donald Trump had nominated to the board of the Export-Import Bank two former members of Congress, one of them a staunch critic of the bank’s lending practices.

The nominees, if confirmed by the Senate, would restore a quorum to the board and allow it to resume approving deals valued at more than $10 million, including those for commercial satellites and launches.

In a statement issued late April 14, the White House announced that President Trump was nominating Scott Garrett, a former Republican congressman from New Jersey, to be president of the bank for a four-year term lasting until January 2021. He also nominated Spencer T. Bachus III, a former Republican congressman from Alabama, to fill another vacancy on the board until January 2019.

Garrett, who served six terms in the House of Representatives before losing reelection in 2016, was known as a critic of the bank while in Congress, dubbing its practices “crony capitalism.” “The proposal before us is the resurrection of a bank that embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system,” he said in a speech on the House floor in October 2015, opposing a bill to reauthorize the bank after its authorization lapsed that July.

Bachus, by contrast, was a supporter of Ex-Im during his 11 terms in the House, including two years as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, where he shepherded the passage of an earlier reauthorization bill in 2012. He retired from the House after the 2014 elections.

While the Ex-Im Bank was reauthorized in late 2015, a lack of a quorum on the board prevents the bank from approving deals valued at more than $10 million. Currently three of the board’s five seats are vacant. It’s not known when, or if, the president plans to nominate an individual to fill the third vacancy.

The nominations reflect a change in positions by the president regarding the Ex-Im Bank. During the campaign, Trump suggested the bank was no longer necessary. In February, President Trump made no mention of bank during a speech at a Boeing aircraft factory in South Carolina, despite suggestions he would discuss the bank’s future there. A day later, the New York Times reported that the bank was one of nine agencies being considered for closure by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

However, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal April 12, Trump said he now supported the bank and would seek to fill vacancies on the board. He noted that the bank helped small businesses as well as large ones, and that companies in other countries are aided by similar export credit agencies.

The Aerospace Industries Association, which has supported Ex-Im for its role in financing both aircraft and space deals, welcomed the nominations. It said in an April 15 statement that, because of the lapsed authorization and the lack of a quorum needed for larger deals, financing for satellite and launch deals dropped from nearly $1 billion in 2014 to $4 million in 2015.

“Ex-Im Bank support is critical for U.S. exporters in the aerospace and defense industry – both large companies and their small and medium suppliers,” the organization said in its statement. “With a level playing field, we can compete and win based on the quality of our products and services rather than financing.”

Commercial satellite manufacturers also reiterated their support for the bank in recent weeks. “It’s still critically needed,” Mark Spiwak, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International, said of Ex-Im at the Satellite 2017 conference in March. “We’ve lost several competitions and haven’t been a part of competitions because of the inability of customers to get Ex-Im. Customers that we have signed up recently have said we’ve found a way, but we still need Ex-Im.”

The nominations announced April 14 require Senate confirmation. The vacancies on the current board exist in part because the Senate failed to take up nominations made by the Obama administration in its last two years in office.

SpaceNews.com