Astronomers thought it might be possible to test out a new detection method by experimenting with Hubble. When the Earth passes exactly between the sun and the moon in a lunar eclipse, the moon is blocked out by its shadow. A similar thing happens when an exoplanet passes between the Earth and a distant star.

So the astronomers checked whether they could determine facts about the Earth by observing the moon, using it as a mirror and seeing how it reflects sunlight. The light had passed through Earth's atmosphere, which filters it, and by observing the reflected light from the moon they could make inferences about Earth.

Using this method, they were able to detect the presence of ozone in Earth's atmosphere, just by observing the moon. This is significant because ozone is related to the presence of life, with most of the ozone in our atmosphere created by photosynthesis and the gas playing an important part in protecting the Earth from cosmic radiation.

If this method was used to observe exoplanets, we might be able to spot ozone there as well. "Finding ozone in the spectrum of an exo-Earth would be significant because it is a photochemical byproduct of molecular oxygen, which is a byproduct of life," Allison Youngblood of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, lead researcher of Hubble's observations, explained in a statement.

Future space telescopes such as the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope could use this method to investigate the atmosphere of exoplanets including rocky Earth-like planets, something which is very hard to do with current telescopes and methods. It could even give clues to where to investigate first when searching for potentially habitable planets. For now, this study acts as a proof of the concept when looking at our own planet.

"To fully characterize exoplanets, we will ideally use a variety of techniques and wavelengths," team member Antonio Garcia Munoz of the Technische Universitt Berlin in Germany said in the statement. "This investigation clearly highlights the benefits of the ultraviolet spectroscopy in the characterization of exoplanets. It also demonstrates the importance of testing innovative ideas and methodologies with the only habitable planet that we know of to date!"



Hubble demonstrates how to see exoplanet atmospheres

That new era for Cadillac will have to wait though. The company said the Lyriq will go into production in the U.S. in late 2022, more than two years after its reveal date. The Cadillac Lyriq will be a global product, meaning it will be headed to China as well. Production in China will begin ahead of the U.S., according to Cadillac.

The Lyriq embodies the kinds of luxury touches a Cadillac customer has come to expect, from the "black crystal" grille and jewelry box-styled drawer to the 33-inch vertical LED touchscreen display and AKG sound system.

Inside the vehicle are backlit speaker grilles, curved screens with hidden storage and orchestrated lighting features similar to the dynamic lighting outside.

The Lyriq will be available in rear-wheel drive and performance all-wheel drive configurations. The 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack will provide more than 300 miles of range, according to the company's internal testing. It will come with DC fast charging rates over 150 kilowatts and Level 2 charging rates up to 19 kW.

The Lyriq will also come with a dual-plane augmented reality-enhanced head-up display. The head up display, which is projected on the windshield in the sight line of the driver, shows a near plane indicating speed and direction and a far plane that displays navigation signals and other important alerts. The effect is a layered look.

A vehicle has to be compelling visually to attract buyers. But the underlying foundation of the Lyriq is where GM has placed its biggest bet. Earlier this year, the automaker revealed a sweeping plan to produce and sell EVs that hinges on a new scalable electric architecture called Ultium that will support a wide range of products across all of its brands, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC. The EV portfolio will include everything from compact cars and work trucks to large premium SUVs and performance vehicles.

This modular architecture, called "Ultium," will be capable of 19 different battery and drive unit configurations, 400-volt and 800-volt packs with storage ranging from 50 kWh to 200 kWh, and front, rear and all-wheel drive configurations. At the heart of the new modular architecture will be the large-format pouch battery cells manufactured at this new factory.



Cadillac's first electric vehicle goes after Tesla

Since then, the car hacking world has bustled with security researchers looking to find new bugs and ways to exploit them in a new wave of internet-connected cars that have only existed the past decade.

This year's Black Hat security conference albeit virtual, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic is no different.

Security researchers at the Sky-Go Team, the car hacking unit at Qihoo 360, found more than a dozen vulnerabilities in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class car that allowed them to remotely open its doors and start the engine.

Most modern cars are equipped with an internet connection, giving passengers access to in-car entertainment, navigation and directions, and more radio stations than you can choose from. But hooking up a car to the internet puts it at greater risk of remote attacks precisely how Miller and Valasek hijacked that Jeep, which ended up in a ditch.

Although vehicle security has gotten better over the past half-decade, Sky-Go's researchers showed that not even one of the most recent Mercedes-Benz models are impervious to attacks.

In a talk this week, Minrui Yan, head of Sky-Go's security research team, said the 19 security vulnerabilities were now fixed, but could have affected as many as two million Mercedes-Benz connected cars in China.

Katharina Becker, a spokesperson for Mercedes' parent company Daimler, pointed to a company statement published late last year after it patched the security issues. The spokesperson said Daimler could not corroborate the estimated number of affected vehicles.

"We addressed all findings and fixed all vulnerabilities that could be exploited before any vehicle in the market was affected," said the spokesperson.

After more than a year of research, the end result was a series of vulnerabilities that formed an attack chain that could remotely control the vehicle.

To start, the researchers built a testbench to reverse-engineer the car's components to look for vulnerabilities, dumping the car's software and analyzing the car's internals for vulnerabilities.

The researchers then obtained a Series-E car to verify their findings.

At the heart of the research is the E-Series' telematics control unit, or TCU, which Yan said is the "most crucial" component of the car, as it allows the vehicle to communicate with the internet.

By tampering with the TCU's file system, the researchers got access to a root shell a way to run commands with the highest level of access to the vehicle's internals. With root shell access, the researchers could remotely open the car's doors.

The TCU file system also stores the car's secrets, like passwords and certificates, which protect the vehicle from being accessed or modified without proper authorization. But the researchers were able to extract the passwords of several certificates for several different regions, including Europe and China. By obtaining the vehicle's certificates and their passwords, the researchers could gain deep access to the vehicle's internal network. The car's certificate for the China region had a weak password, Yan said, making it easier to hijack a vulnerable car in the country.

Yan said the goal was to get access to the car's back end, the core of the vehicle's internal network. As long as the car's back-end services can be accessed externally, the car is at risk of attacks, the researchers said.

The way the researchers did this was by tearing down the vehicle's embedded SIM card, which allows the car to talk to the cell networks. A security feature meant the researchers couldn't plug the SIM into a router without freezing access to the cell network. The researchers modified their router to spoof the vehicle, effectively making the cell network think it was the car.

With the vehicle's firmware dumped, the networking protocols understood and its certificates obtained and cracked, the researchers say they could remotely control an affected vehicle.

The researchers said the car's security design was tough and able to withstand a number of attacks, but it was not impervious.

"Making every back-end component secure all the time is hard," the researchers said. "No company can make this perfect."

But at least in the case of Mercedes-Benz, its cars are a lot more secure than they were a year ago.



Security bugs let these hackers remotely control a Mercedes-Benz

Importantly, you don't have to give up the Mac Pro's default feet like you do with the official wheels. The Rover Pro kit attaches to the feet with a "few hand twists," OWC said. And did we mention there are included wheel stops, so your premium workstation won't roll away on its own?

The Rover Pro wheels should arrive in September. They're still not a trivial purchase, but they're considerably easier to justify if you're still cost-conscious (yes, even for a $5,999+ tower) and want a way to quickly shuttle your Mac Pro around a movie set or music studio.



OWC's cheap Mac Pro wheels are still pretty expensive

The big idea is that human-like AI is an upgrade. Computers compute, but AI can learn. Unfortunately, humans aren't very good at the kinds of tasks a computer makes sense for and AI isn't very good at the kinds of tasks that humans are. That's why researchers are moving away from development paradigms that focus on imitating human cognition.

A pair of NYU researchers recently took a deep dive into how humans and AI process words and word meaning. Through the study of "psychological semantics," the duo hoped to explain the shortcomings held by machine learning systems in the natural language processing (NLP) domain. According to a study they published to arXiv:

Many AI researchers do not dwell on whether their models are human-like. If someone could develop a highly accurate machine translation system, few would complain that it doesn't do things the way human translators do.

In the field of translation, humans have various techniques for keeping multiple languages in their heads and fluidly interfacing between them. Machines, on the other hand, dont need to understand what a word means in order assign the appropriate translation to it.

This gets tricky when you get closer to human-level accuracy. Translating one, two, and three into Spanish is relatively simple. The machine learns that they are exactly equivalent to uno, dos, and tres, and is likely to get those right 100 percent of the time. But when you add complex concepts, words with more than one meaning, and slang or colloquial speech things can get complex.

We start getting into AI's uncanny valley when developers try to create translation algorithms that can handle anything and everything. Much like taking a few Spanish classes won't teach a human all the slang they might encounter in Mexico City, AI struggles to keep up with an ever-changing human lexicon.

NLP simply isn't capable of human-like cognition yet and making it exhibit human-like behavior would be ludicrous imagine if Google Translate balked at a request because it found the word "moist" distasteful, for example.

This line of thinking isn't just reserved for NLP. Making AI appear more human-like is merely a design decision for most machine learning projects. As the NYU researchers put it in their study:

One way to think about such progress is merely in terms of engineering: There is a job to be done, and if the system does it well enough, it is successful. Engineering is important, and it can result in better and faster performance and relieve humans of dull labor such as keying in answers or making airline itineraries or buying socks.

From a pure engineering point of view, most human jobs can be broken down into individual tasks that would be better suited for automation than AI, and in cases where neural networks would be necessary directing traffic in a shipping port, for example it's hard to imagine a use-case where a general AI would outperform several narrow, task-specific systems.

Consider self-driving cars. It makes more sense to build a vehicle made up of several systems that work together instead of designing a humanoid robot that can walk up to, unlock, enter, start, and drive a traditional automobile.

Most of the time, when developers claim theyve created a human-like AI, what they mean is that theyve automated a task that humans are often employed for. Facial recognition software, for example, can replace a human gate guard but it cannot tell you how good the pizza is at the local restaurant down the road.

That means the bar is pretty low for AI when it comes to being "human-like." Alexa and Siri do a fairly good human imitation. They have names and voices and have been programmed to seem helpful, funny, friendly, and polite.

But there's no function a smart speaker performs than couldn't be better handled by a button. If you had infinite space and an infinite attention span, you could use buttons for anything and everything a smart speaker could do. One might say "Play Mariah Carey," while another says "Tell me a joke." The point is, Alexa's about as human-like as a giant remote control.

AI isn't like humans. We may be decades or more away from a general AI that can intuit and function at human-level in any domain. Robot butlers are a long way off. For now, the best AI developers can do is imitate human effort, and that's seldom as useful as simplifying a process to something easily automated.



Why 'human-like' is a low bar for most AI projects

Chinese health authority said Friday that it received reports of 37 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Thursday, including 27 locally transmitted.

Of the locally-transmitted cases, 26 were reported in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and one in Beijing, the National Health Commission said in its daily report.

Two new suspected COVID-19 cases were reported in Shanghai, and no deaths re



Chinese mainland reports 37 new confirmed COVID-19 cases

A Chinese man convicted of murdering two children has had his conviction overturned after serving 27 years in prison, in what has been described as one of the longest-serving miscarriages of justice in recent Chinese history.

Zhang Yuhuan, 53, was freed on Tuesday after the Supreme People's Court in eastern Jiangxi province found him "not guilty" on the basis of a lack of sufficient evidence, Chinese state media Global Times reported.

The result came after a long-running legal battle to overturn the conviction, and highlights ongoing issues within China's legal system.

In 1993, two boys were found dead in the city of Nanchang, Jiangxi province, according to the report. Police suspected the boys' neighbor Zhang of killing them.

In 1995, Zhang was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, meaning his death sentence would be commuted to a life sentence if he didn't commit any other crimes within a two-year period, state-run China Daily reported.

But Zhang appealed to a higher court, arguing that he was not the killer and claimed that police had tortured him during interrogation, according to the report.

The higher court ordered a retrial, but that was not held until November 2001, China Daily reported. The intermediate court upheld the original judgment, and a later appeal was rejected.

Zhang and his family continued to insist that he was innocent -- and finally in March last year, the Jiangxi Supreme People's Court reopened the case, according to the report. On Tuesday, he was found not guilty.

"After we reviewed the materials, we have found there is no direct evidence that can prove Zhang's conviction. So we accepted the prosecutors' suggestion and have declared Zhang innocent," judge Tian Ganlin was quoted as saying.

Zhang can now apply for state compensation, Global Times reported.

According to the China Daily report, Zhang said the wrongful conviction had cost him the best years of his life. His two sons are now married and have their own children.

"It's hard for the compensation to make up for the damage of the wrongful conviction to me and my family, but I still hope to get compensated quickly to repair my house and care for my mother," Zhang said.

China has made attempts to reform its legal system. According to the Global Times report, China officially adopted the legal principle of "innocent until proven guilty" in 1996.

In 2013, an influential Communist Party legal commission issued new guidelines asking for fairer due process in China's much maligned court system.

However, problems with the country's legal system remain. China's judicial system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers. It also remains beholden to the ruling Communist Party. 

Courts are seen first and foremost as a "political organ," according to the country's Chief Justice Zhou Qiang.

It remains uncommon for people to have convictions overturned -- although Zhang is not the first.

In 2013, a man who served 17 years of a life sentence for murdering his wife was freed after a Higher People's Court in Anhui province ruled that the "facts about the alleged homicide were unclear and the evidence inadequate."

In 2016, China's top court overruled a rape and murder conviction of Nie Shubin -- more than two decades after he had been executed.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, said that the ruling in Zhang's case showed the advancement of the rule of law, according to China Daily. But he also said judicial authorities could help prevent wrongful convictions by excluding evidence gained through torture.



Chinese man spent 27 years in prison but court finds him ...




Free exchange

The Replacements

he fear of robots displacing workers has returned. But do not expect tech-induced lay-offs just yet


Jul 30th 2020 | words 959




COVID-19 PRESENTED employers with a simple choice: find ways for workers to do their jobs safely, or shut down. At least some have chosen a third option, of dispensing with humans altogether. Among the many breathless headlines prompted by the pandemic are those warning of a new wave of job-destroying automation. The pace of automation in some parts of the economy, like factory floors and warehouses, is almost certain to accelerate. Yet on the whole, robot-induced mass unemployment should remain near the bottom of workers lists of worries.


The world has only recently recovered from a bout of robophobia. In the early 2010s advances in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), described ominously in countless papers and books, seemed to portend a wave of job destruction. High unemployment after the global financial crisis of 2007-09 added to fears of a job scarcity. Fretting about robots in a downturn is not entirely irrational: firms appear to do most of their job-slashing during slumps. Nir Jaimovich of the University of Zurich and Henry Siu of the University of British Columbia argue that labour-market recoveries have grown weaker in recent decades as a result. Worries can be overdone, though. By the end of the decade unemployment had dropped like a stone and driverless vehicles were struggling to turn left. The earlier panic seemed a touch hysterical.


High rates of joblessness and eye-catching technological advances are again contributing to a new round of fears. In recent weeks, for instance, mind-boggling examples of the capabilities of GPT-3an AI-based language-processing model developed by OpenAI, a research organisationhave zoomed around the internet. Another cause for anxiety has been businesses strategies for coping with the pandemic. Anecdotes of covid-motivated automation are easy to find. Many organisations have turned to software to automate paper-processing tasks that cannot be done by homebound workers. Those facing a deluge of customer enquiries, such as hospitals, are supplementing human assistants with chatbots. Employers interest in automating tasks in high-risk environments, such as slaughterhouses, is reportedly on the rise.


Any effect of these on unemployment has almost certainly been swamped by stronger economic forces, such as social-distancing measures and collapsing aggregate demand. And the pace of automation is likely to be gradual rather than disruptively speedy. Many jobs, even those commonly classified as low-skilled, require manual and social dexterity that machines cannot yet match. Workers in face-to-face industriesin bars or restaurants, say, or hair and nail salonsare especially vulnerable to covid-19. But there is little scope for, or interest in, replacing them with robots. In New York thousands of public-transport workers caught the virus, and dozens died. Despite billions of dollars of investment in driverless vehicles, though, computers cannot yet pilot buses through chaotic city streets.


Furthermore, automation is only one of the technological solutions available to firms as they weather the crisis. The pandemics most profound labour-market legacy will probably be a rise in remote work. About half of all Americans who were working before the arrival of covid-19 were doing their jobs remotely by May, according to one estimate. Surveys of firms indicate that some of the shift will not be reversed. If remote work slashes overheads and enables people to move to cheaper cities, it could preserve jobs, by alleviating cost pressures on struggling firms.


Telework may have some job-destroying effects, though. The pandemic has sped the adoption of technology in labour-intensive sectors like education and health care. Telemedicine and distance learning might mean that fewer doctors and teachers can serve more patients and students. Their largest impact is likely to be on blue-collar workers, such as clerical and janitorial staff, whose services become less necessary as the physical footprint of education and health institutions gets lighter. In a recent essay David Autor and Elisabeth Reynolds of Massachusetts Institute of Technology warn that such a dynamic could play out more widely. Over the past half-century employment growth in cities polarised: middle-skill work declined, and employment grew in white-collar professions and the services that support them. If remote working proves a lasting shift, then the caf staff, taxi drivers and cleaners who depend on their custom could find themselves out of work.


Such severe, lasting labour-market pain in the aftermath of the pandemic may actually delay automation, by depressing wages. Developing and deploying new technologies costs money. Would-be automators deciding whether or not to make the needed investment could be swayed by the large reservoir of underemployed labour, willing to work for low pay. In America slaughterhouseswhich often hire from a big pool of low-wage workers, many of them undocumented immigrantsare far less automated today than in parts of northern Europe, for example.


Automatic transition


Tech-induced mass unemployment, then, seems unlikely. But there is one scenario where covid-19 could unleash the robotsif labour costs start to drift upwards, perhaps as global supply chains break down, or minimum wages rise. The reshoring of manufacturing jobs could lead to pressure to replace cheap foreign labour with robots at home. Production could no longer take advantage of low-cost labour, as Americas meat-processing industry does.


Years of economic dysfunction have energised campaigns for higher minimum wages and a more generous welfare state. The economic devastation wrought by the pandemic lends them momentum; like past crises, it could lay the groundwork for a new social contract. If post-pandemic policy were to enable workers to enjoy more security on fewer hours worked, firms might then face some genuine labour scarcity. And that would really work up an appetite for disruption. 


Economist | The fear of robots displacing workers has returned

The Crow and The Necklace

Once a crow and his wife built their nest atop a huge banyan tree beside a river. They were very happy there. But when the female crow laid her eggs, they were in for an unpleasant shock. A huge snake who lived in a hole at the bottom of the tree came up and ate all their beautiful eggs.

The crows were helpless with anger and pain. You cant let this wicked snake eat our children anymore," cried the female crow bitterly. You have to find a way to save them from him, she said.

Let us go to our friend the jackal. He is very clever. He will surely be able to help us with a solution," said the male crow.

They both flew to the cave in the forest where their friend the jackal lived.

The jackal saw them coming. Hello my friends. Why do you look so sad and worried? Can I help you in any way?"he asked.

Every time my wife lays eggs in our nest, a wicked snake living at the foot of the tree eats them up," explained the crow.

We want to get rid of him and save our children. Please tell us what we can do."

The jackal thought for some time. I know what you should do," said the jackal and he told the plan to the crows.

It was a habit of the queen to come with her maids for a bath to the river. When they did so, they removed all their clothes and jewels and placed them on the river bank. On the following day the queen and her maids as usual entered the river.

You know what to do right?" asked the crow to his wife. Yes," she answered.

Both of them flew over the pile of clothes and jewels. The female crow swiftly picked up a precious pearl necklace in her beak. At the same time the male crow began to caw loudly to gain the attention of the queen and her maids.

Oh, those crows have taken my pearl necklace." cried the queen. Guards!" she cried. Get that necklace back from those pesky crows." Her guards chased the crows shouting loudly.

The crows flew straight to the banyan tree with the guards close behind. Hearing all the noise, the snake came out of his hole at the foot of the tree. Immediately, the female crow dropped the necklace right where the snake was.

Look out! There is a huge snake near the necklace," alerted one guard.

Before the snake could realise what was happening, the guards attacked him with sharp spears and killed him. The guards then picked up the necklace and took it back to their queen.

The crows thanked their friend the jackal for helping them get rid of their enemy. They lived happily with their children.

Previously Shared Stories, 

Enjoy Reading;

| Bond of Love and the Truth

| The Circle of Good Deed

| The Seven Wonders

| The Frog in Hot Water

| Your Chance of a Greater Good

| The Bridge

| Your Chance of a Greater Good

| Act of Kindness and Goodwill

| Happiness and Sorrow

| Developing a Relationship

| Dont let anyone steal your dreams.

| The Needs and Desires

| The Ant and The Dove

| The Lion and a Clever Fox

| Sometimes Just let it be

| Choose Your Words Wisely

| Hundred Gold Coins & Birbal

| Farmers Well & Witty Birbal

| Tenali Rama and the Brinjal Curry

| How long can you keep hatred in your heart?

| Appreciation of Hard Work

| Little Boys Meeting with God

| 100 Percent Love

| An Old Man Lived in the Village

| A Kings Painting

| This was bound to happen

| Wealth without a Value

| Learn to Appreciate

| Fox and The Goat

| The Golden Egg

| Who is Happy? The Peacock and The Crow

| The Three Questions

| The Old Man and the Three Young Men

| The Bear and The Two Friends

| Think Before You Judge

| Georgie Porgie

| A Wise Old Owl

| Baa Baa Black Sheep

| Beg Your Pardon Mrs Hardin

| A limit of your Kindness

| The Man and The Little Cat

| The False Human Belief

| Making Relations Special

| The Monkey and The Crocodile

| The Wicked Barbers Plight

| The Wooden Bowl

| Smartest Man in the World

| The Little Mouse

| Helping Others

| Fear vs Respect

| Little Boys Love for his Family

| Unity is Strength

| The Pig and The Sheep

| Father Son Conversation

| Whats for Dinner

| The Poor Mans Wealth
| Grandpas Table

| The Lazy Farmer

| Who or What do we love more?

| The Three Types of People

| The Cat, the Partridge and the Hare

| Birbals Wisdom

| The Travelers and The Plane Tree

| Boys Job Appraisal

| Birbal caught the Thief

| Five More Minutes

| The Kite without a thread

| Lesson Learned

| The Wet Pants

| Cycle of Evil

| The Farmer and the Snake

| A Man with a Lamp

| The King and Macaw Parrots

| A friend in need is a friend indeed.

| A Town Mouse and A Country Mouse

| Rose for Mother

| The Praying Hands

| One who read the future

| Always let your boss have the first say

| Crows in the Kingdom

| The Dreaming Priest

| Information Please

| Why Should I feel Bad?

| Two Frogs

| Baby Camel and Mother

| The Eternal Bond of Brother and Sister

| Dont let anyone steal your dreams.

| Always let your boss have the first say

| The Man and the Lion

| The Needy King and a Sage

| The Pot of the Wit

| Wealth without a Value

| The Eagle and the Woodcutter

| The Wild Doves

| The Swan and the Owl

| Zeus and the Potsherds

| The Wise Old Man

| Having a Best Friend

| A Soldiers Story

| Never to Give Up

| Looking at Mirror

| Lazy Donkey

| Controlling Temper

| Gift from Daughter

| Father and the Donkey

| The Seven Ravens

| Rodney Rhino's weekend Plans

| Sunny Days Favourite Sounds

| The Easter Story

| Simple Life Rules

| Ramu and the Mangoes

| Greedy Motu Mal

| The Snowdrop

| The Last Pearl

| The Fountain of Youth

| The Naughty Clock Winder

| The Magic Turtle

| The First Messenger

| The Cold Planet

| The Loss of Treasure

| The Turtle and the Monkey

| The Friend's Pot

| The Loss of Treasure

| Stubborn Goats

| Birbals Khichri (Rice)

| The Fox and the Grapes

| Boys Weakness

| The Rabbit and the Turtle

| The Rabbit and the Turtle

| Pundit and Rich Man

| The Best Practice Ever

| Love is in the Air

| Lost and Found

| The Pet Shop

| The Story of Eklavya

| Greedy Motu Mal

| Kimberly's Acting

| Language Confusion

| Nicole's Drums

| Sean and the Birthday Cake

| What are You Talking About?

| Emily's Secret

|  April's Month

| A Surprise from Australia

| The Clever Student

| Kalpana Sarojs life


| A Silly Science Experiment

| The story of the skyscraper

| Adaptation

| Pea Blossom

| Mistaken Gifts

| Jesus' Twelve Friends

| The Easter Story

| Angus the Tartan Goat

| Yankee Doodle

| The Boy in the Paper Boat

| The First Voyage

| The Golden Bird

|  The cold planet

| Opportunity

| Kimberly's Acting

| In Heaven

|  Act like the Others

 | The Clever Bull

| Too Tiny for Tea

| Foolish Imitation


| The Crow and The Necklace

TENCENT Holdings Ltd is driving discussions to merge China's biggest game-streaming platforms Huya Inc and DouYu International Holdings Ltd, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that would allow it to dominate the US$3.4 billion arena.

The Chinese social media titan - which owns a 37 per cent stake in Huya and 38 per cent of DouYu - has been discussing such a merger with the duo over the past few months, although details have yet to be finalised, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. Tencent is seeking to become the largest shareholder in the combined entity, one person said.

A deal would create an online giant with more than 300 million users and a combined market value of US$10 billion, cementing Tencent's lead in Chinese games and social media. Faced with rising competition for advertisers from ByteDance Ltd and its rapidly growing stable of apps, the WeChat operator would then run a highly profitable service akin to Inc's Twitch.

Huya and DouYu would keep their respective platforms and branding while working more closely with Tencent's own esports site eGame, said the people.

"As the major shareholder of both platforms, Tencent would benefit because a merger would remove unnecessary competition between them," Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Vey-Sern Ling said. "The enlarged scale can also help to drive cost synergies and fend off emerging competitors." Tencent's shares were up 1.5 per cent in afternoon trade.

Tencent is shoring up its home-market position against the backdrop of a Trump administration increasingly hostile toward Chinese tech companies. WeChat has a limited US presence and Trovo Live, a mobile-focused game-streaming service for American consumers, is only in its initial stages.

China's game-streaming market is estimated to generate 23.6 billion yuan (S$4.7 billion) in revenue this year, according to iResearch. The country's streaming networks live and die by the popularity of star players and the virtual tips and gifts that fans buy for them, leading to intense bidding wars for the most-recognised names.

Companies like Google-backed Chushou TV shuttered their services after failing to secure new money, while NetEase Inc's CC Live has found a small niche in broadcasting its in-house titles.

Already featuring Tencent's marquee games like PUBG Mobile and Honor of Kings, Huya and DouYu have established a clear lead as the top two platforms. Nevertheless, revenue growth slowed down for both in recent quarters as users shifted their attention to ByteDance's Douyin, the Chinese twin to the globally popular TikTok short-video service. A merger would help them lower broadcast and content costs at a time when rival video services like Kuaishou and Bilibili Inc - both also backed by Tencent - intensify their efforts to compete for more gaming content.

When asked about the possibility of a merger with Huya, DouYu founder and chief executive officer Chen Shaojie told analysts on a March earnings call: "We believe it's Tencent's vision." BLOOMBERG



Tencent in talks to create US$10b online giant

If you've ever had a furious debate about the ungodly act of microwaving your cup of tea and how "it's the same" as boiling the kettle, you're about to lose not only to Britain but to science.

Researchers have explained the process your zapped cuppa goes through in a new study published in the American Institute of Physics' peer-reviewed online journal AIP Advances, and why you might not be getting the best results from making it this way over the traditional kettle/stove method.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, looked at how heating liquid works in a microwave, and how the electric field that acts as a warming source causes the liquid to end up different temperatures at the top and bottom of the cup. A good cup of tea is all about getting uniform temperature throughout your water and, though many scholars have studied uniformity and how to solve it within the microwave itself, these researchers have offered up a different possible solution (more on that later).

Typically, the study describes, if you're warming a liquid like water on the stove or within a kettle, the heating source warms the container from below. This is when a process called convection happens, when the liquid at the bottom of the container warms up, diminishes in density, and moves to the top, letting the remaining cooler liquid to get access to the sweet, sweet heating source below. This results in even, uniform temperature throughout the container. 

But if you're throwing your cup of water in the microwave for 90 seconds, like the researchers did, the device's electric field heats it from all angles, not just from below, so while the top part of the cup's water may be sitting at boiling point, the bottom may not. "Because the entire glass itself is also warming up, the convection process does not occur, and the liquid at the top of the container ends up being much hotter than the liquid at the bottom," reads the study. 

So, your microwaved cup of tea is hotter at the top than the bottom. Let's take a 30-second mournful-staring-at-the-floor break.

OK, so you've got a cup full of disparately warmed, microwaved water, and while I'd personally just cast this back into the fiery chasm from whence it came, if you do use it you should be aware that this is going to affect the way your tea develops. Though you might have palmed this off as something only your snobbiest friend thinks, the temperature of your water when brewing tea is really important, which is why making sure it's uniform is vital to a good cup the water is needed for the dried tea leaves to expand, unfurl, and start brewing. 

According to the UK Tea Academy's white paper on water (yeah, they're hardcore, they write papers about tea water), different teas need their own specific water temperatures to brew properly. "This is because the bitter components in tea (caffeine and polyphenols) are extremely soluble in boiling and very hot water," reads the paper. "When we brew tea in boiling water or water at approx. 90 95C, more of the bitter tasting ingredients are drawn out quickly into the water, giving a robust, sometimes quite aggressive brew. This can be fine for strong black teas, dark oolongs, and fermented dark teas, but when brewing more delicate teas such as white, yellow, green and the greener jade oolongs, the bitter components can easily overwhelm the subtle sweet and aromatic character of the tea."

Notably, the Academy wrote that teas steeped in cold or iced water release fewer of their bitter ingredients and more of the sweet, so it doesn't always have to be hot stuff. But whatever tea you're making, all of this inevitably gets thrown off balance when your cup of water is not the same temperature all the way through, say, if you warm the water in the microwave and dunk a teabag in it as opposed to pouring kettle-boiled water over the tea in a pot or bag. You've got a small window for perfect brewing temperature, whether you're making green tea (70C), oolong tea (90C) or black tea (95-98C). So if the water goes from hot to less hot levels in the cup, it will brew differently and when you start jiggling the teabag around the temperature can change too, so it might be less warm than you need it to be. 

Interestingly, the researchers came up with a possible solution by designing a glass with a seven-centimeter metallic silver lid that's meant to redistribute the electric field, conducting the heating away from the top of the cup. This means heating happens from the bottom of the cup upwards, and effectively simulates the convection process.

"The experimental results show that when the modified glass cup with 7 cm metal coating is used to heat water in a microwave oven, the temperature difference between the upper and lower parts of the water is reduced from 7.8 C to 0.5 C," reads the study. "The modified glass cup is placed in the center of the ceramic plate, far away from the cavity wall, and there is no spark ignition." 

So, no microwave fires (yay!) and the temperatures at the top and bottom of the cup were more similar than they would have been without the metal lid. Pretty neat. Probably wouldn't touch the metal straight away, though.

Whether or not this becomes an actual device people can buy and pop on the top of their cups remains to be seen, but if it does, some form of it could be an option for those who opt for the microwaved cuppa and still want a well-developed brew. Until then, however, just know that your tea might be brewing weirdly if you zap it, and with what you paid for the lid, you probably could have bought a rapid boil kettle.

Look, microwavers, I get it, it's quicker. And if you want something to come back at your opinionated, traditionally-made tea drinker pals, a food scientist from the University of Newcastle in Australia reckons microwaving your cup of tea is the key to getting more health benefits from the beverage (note: health, not taste, benefits). 

I'll be sticking to my kettle method, but you do you.

Just know Britain is judging you.



Research: making tea in the microwave is a truly appalling act