Seoul trials pint-sized robots in nursery schools

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — Seoul has started trialling pint-sized robots as teaching aids in kindergartens — a pilot project the city government said would help prepare the next generation for a hi-tech future. The “Alpha Mini” is just 24.5 centimetres tall and can dance, lead sing-a-longs, recite stories and even teach kung-fu moves as children mimic its push-ups and one-legged balances. “The robots help with the kids’ creativity,” teacher Byun Seo-yeon told AFP during […]

Moon lighting: partial lunar eclipse to be longest since 1440

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years, which will bathe the Moon in red, will be visible Thursday and Friday for a big slice of humanity. The celestial show will see the Moon almost completely cast in shadow as it moves behind the Earth, reddening 99 percent of its face. The spectacle will be visible for all of North America, as well as parts of South America, […]

Australia looks to wall off sensitive tech from China

  by Andrew BEATTY Agence France Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia on Wednesday announced measures to ring-fence dozens of sensitive technologies from foreign interference, stepping up efforts to safeguard against “national security risks” from China and others. Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a list of 63 “critical technologies” to be promoted and protected at an online forum in Sydney — a step toward limiting what government, industry and universities can and cannot share with […]

GM factory launch ushers in Detroit’s EV pickup campaign

by John BIERS Agence France-Presse NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – General Motors takes a leap Wednesday towards its much-touted “all-EV” future when it officially opens its first electric pickup truck factory. The auto giant will unveil Factory Zero, a 36-year old plant in Hamtramck, Michigan that has been retooled for electric vehicles (EV), commemorating the occasion with President Joe Biden. The celebration at the Detroit-area plant comes ahead of initial commercial deliveries of the […]

Russia admits destroying satellite with space missile strike

by Evan GERSHKOVICH MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia on Tuesday admitted to destroying one of its satellites during a missile test, but rejected US accusations that it had endangered the International Space Station. US officials on Monday accused Russia of a “dangerous and irresponsible” strike on a satellite that had created a cloud of debris and forced the ISS crew to take evasive action. The move reignited concerns about an escalating arms race in space, […]

‘Down’ but not ‘out’: Growth needs fuel India’s coal addiction

by Abhaya SRIVASTAVA Agence France-Presse NEW DELHI, India (AFP) – Even as its capital was blanketed by toxic smog, India led the charge to weaken anti-coal pledges at the COP26 summit, with experts saying it is prioritising its economic growth over the planet’s future. The world’s third-largest emitter teamed up with China to water down language on fossil fuels at the Glasgow conference, forcing a compromise: a climate deal that bound countries to “phase down” […]

Elon Musk sells $1.1 billion in Tesla shares

  NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold approximately $1.1 billion in shares of his electric car company, after indicating over the weekend he would sell 10 percent of his stock based on the results of a Twitter poll. However the sell was put in motion on September 14, according to documents filed Wednesday, meaning it was not spurred by the survey’s outcome. Musk, the world’s richest man, sold about 930,000 […]

Israel start-up offers virtual ‘Clean Coins’ for garbage

by Alexandra Vardi Agence France-Presse HAIFA, Israel (AFP) – As she walked her dog Luna near her northern Israel town, Elishya Ben Meir collected litter that had been reported through a new app which turns garbage into goods. For each bag she fills in the valley near her home, she receives around 10 “Clean Coins”, a virtual currency that can be redeemed for goods from participating businesses. The green scheme aims to encourage citizens to […]

Rolls-Royce launches nuclear reactor business

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – UK aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce on Tuesday launched plans to build small low-cost nuclear reactors to help cut the nation’s carbon emissions. The news comes as Britain pushes ahead with large-scale projects, including Hinkley Point C which will be the nation’s first new nuclear plant for a generation. Rolls-Royce said it had created a new Small Modular Reactor (SMR) division after clinching a cash injection of £405 million ($547 million, […]

France, US commemorate centenary of historic Marie Curie visit

by Lucie AUBOURG WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — In 1921, the celebrated French scientist Marie Curie made a six-week trip to the United States, where she visited the White House and received from the hands of the president himself a very unusual gift: a gram of radium. At the time, the radioactive element was extremely hard to extract from minerals and could cost more than ten times as much as a diamond of the same […]

Astronaut becomes first Chinese woman to spacewalk

BEIJING, China (AFP) – Astronaut Wang Yaping became the first Chinese woman to walk in space, authorities said Monday, as her team completed a six-hour stint outside the Tiangong space station as part of its ongoing construction. Tiangong — meaning “heavenly palace” — is the latest achievement in China’s drive to become a major space power, after landing a rover on Mars and sending probes to the Moon. Its core module entered orbit earlier this […]

NASA to deflect asteroid in test of ‘planetary defense’

by Chris Lefkow WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — In the 1998 Hollywood blockbuster “Armageddon,” Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck race to save the Earth from being pulverized by an asteroid. While the Earth faces no such immediate danger, NASA plans to crash a spacecraft traveling at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph) into an asteroid next year in a test of “planetary defense.” The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is to determine […]