Sci-Tech

Facebook nixes billions of fake accounts

by Glenn CHAPMAN SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook on Wednesday said it has taken down some 5.4 billion fake accounts this year in a sign of the persistent battle on social media against manipulation and misinformation. Amid growing efforts to create fraudulent accounts, Facebook said it has stepped up its defenses and often removes the accounts within minutes of being created. “We have improved our ability to detect and block attempts to create […]

The voyage home: Japan’s Hayabusa-2 probe to head for Earth

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan’s Hayabusa-2 probe will leave orbit around a distant asteroid and head for Earth on Wednesday after an unprecedented mission, carrying samples that could shed light on the origins of the Solar System. Science and Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda told reporters on Tuesday that the long voyage home would begin soon, with the probe expected to drop off its precious samples sometime in late 2020. The mission took the fridge-sized probe […]

Twitter spy case highlights risks for big tech platforms

by Rob Lever Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The allegations of spying by former Twitter employees for Saudi Arabia underscore the risks for Silicon Valley firms holding sensitive data which make the platforms ripe for espionage. The two Saudis and one US citizen allegedly worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the Riyadh government and royal family, according to a federal indictment. Analysts say the […]

Boeing successfully tests Starliner space capsule abort system

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule successfully performed an emergency abort test Monday, meeting a key requirement before it can take US astronauts to the International Space Station as early as next year. The test took place in the New Mexico desert at the White Sands Missile Range and lasted around 95 seconds. The Starliner was set on a small launch pad with four engines to simulate an emergency in which the […]

Texas hospital livestreams brain surgery on Facebook

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A young woman in Texas who remained awake for her brain surgery was able to speak to doctors during the procedure — and viewers form around the world looked on, as part of the operation was livestreamed on Facebook. By Wednesday, nearly 100,000 people had watched doctors removed a mass from Jenna Schardt’s brain during a 40-minute video of the operation that was livestreamed Tuesday morning. In the video, […]

Researchers move closer to new vaccine for killer TB

  by Glenda KWEK Agence France Presse HYDERABAD, India (AFP) — Scientists said Tuesday they are closing in on a new game-changing vaccine for tuberculosis, the world’s deadliest infectious disease that claimed some 1.5 million lives last year. A chronic lung disease that is curable, TB was one of the top 10 killers worldwide last year, particularly in developing countries. The existing Bacille-Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine — licensed for humans in 1921 — is only proven […]

Pentagon says $10 billion cloud computing contract going to Microsoft

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The Pentagon said Friday it was awarding a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft, following a highly scrutinized bidding process which Amazon had been favored to win. The 10-year contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, better known as JEDI, ultimately will see all military branches sharing information in one system that can be scoured in real time with the help of artificial intelligence. The Pentagon earlier […]

French media take copyright fight to Google

by Frédéric POUCHOT Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — French media firms said Thursday that they would drag Google before the country’s competition regulator over its refusal to compensate them for displaying their content in defiance of a strict new EU copyright law. The APIG press alliance, which groups dozens of national and regional newspapers, said it would also press the French government to take action against the US internet giant. “We are outraged,” […]

NASA wants international partners to go to Moon too

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — As it looks to return to the Moon, NASA is open to the idea of international participation, which could mean a non-American setting foot on Earth’s natural satellite for the first time in history, global space chiefs said Monday. “I think there’s lots of room on the Moon, and we need all our international partners to go with us to the Moon,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters at the […]

NASA and SpaceX hope for manned mission to ISS in early 2020

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — SpaceX could launch US astronauts to the International Space Station as early as next year if tests on the company’s long-delayed Crew Dragon capsule prove conclusive, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Thursday. Bridenstine made the announcement as he toured the California headquarters of billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a major contractor for NASA. The visit came as Bridenstine and Musk have been engaged in a public spat over the much-delayed […]

Artificial meat is now made in space, coming to a supermarket near you

  by Juliette MICHEL Agence France Presse NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Creating meat from cells is no longer the realm of science fiction: a Russian cosmonaut did it aboard the International Space Station, and it is just a matter of time before these products arrive in supermarkets. Tests carried out in space in September led to the production of beef, rabbit and fish tissue using a 3D printer. This new technology “could make […]

Paralyzed man walks again with brain-controlled exoskeleton

  by Amélie BAUBEAU / Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A French man paralyzed in a night club accident can walk again thanks to a brain-controlled exoskeleton in what scientists say is a breakthrough providing hope to tetraplegics seeking to regain movement. The patient trained for months, harnessing his brain signals to control a computer-simulated avatar to perform basic movements before using the robot device to walk. Doctors who conducted the […]