Juno reaches Jupiter’s magnetosphere

NASA’s Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter’s magnetosphere and recorded what it sounds like:

Juno’s Waves instrument recorded the encounter with the “bow shock” over the course of about two hours on June 24, 2016.”Bow shock” is where the supersonic solar wind is heated and slowed by Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

It is analogous to a sonic boom on Earth.The next day, June 25, 2016, the Waves instrument witnessed the crossing of the magnetopause. “Trapped continuum radiation” refers to waves trapped in a low-density cavity in Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

Jupiter’s magnetosphere is enormous: the largest structure in the solar system, says NASA:

“If Jupiter’s magnetosphere glowed in visible light, it would be twice the size of the full moon as seen from Earth,” said William Kurth of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, lead co-investigator for the Jupiter Waves investigation.

“And that’s the shorter dimension of the teardrop-shaped structure; the dimension extending outward behind Jupiter has a length about five times the distance between Earth and the sun.”


Two more years for Curiousity Rover

The Curiosity Rover has been exploring the surface of Mars for four years and is still going strong. The unit is in such good shape that it’s going to keep exploring for another two years.

Curiosity got off to a good start, as Space.com’s Mike Wall writes:

The rover found that the area near its landing site harbored a lake-and-stream system long ago, showing that at least some parts of the Red Planet could have supported microbial life in the ancient past.

The main goal of the $2.5 billion Curiosity mission is to answer that very question.

“It was just an early home run that kind of took the pressure off, and allowed us to expand on that [discovery] for the next few years,” Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told Space.com.”

Back in 2012, it wasn’t clear if Curiosity Rover would survive the “7 minutes of terror” involved in hitting Mars’s atmosphere and landing on the surface of the planet.

NPR’s analytics tool will measure how much readers care

Nice to see Brian Boyer and co at NPR have won Knight Foundation funding to build Carebot, a tool that aims to improve the nature of news analytics.

Writing on poynter.org, Benjamin Mullin says Carebot will try to determine how valuable stories are to readers, rather than just counting pageviews and unique browsers.

“The stated mission of the project, spearheaded by NPR Visuals Editor Brian Boyer, is to devise metrics that change how newsrooms measure and celebrate successful stories,” writes Mullin.

“Our official team motto these days is: We make people care,” Boyer said. “We believe that visual journalism has the power to make people care. So if that’s our motto, if that’s what we tell ourselves, if that’s what we’re trying to do every day, then how do we know if we’re doing our jobs? How do we measure that success?”

Carebot will aggregate data from Chartbeat, Google Analytics, Facebook and Twitter, and run an algorithm that looks at “social engagement (likes, shares, comments) time spent on site and completion rate. Rather than examining raw numbers for each statistic, Carebot will base its scores on the number of engagements per pageview. By this reckoning, a story with 1,000,000 pageviews and 1000 shares would have a lower Carebot score than a story with 1,000 pageviews and 100 shares.”

NPR plans to open-source the program for use by other news organisations, Mullin says.

Read more about the concept in Mullin’s piece on poynter.org.

The governance gaps that armed insurgents fill

A brief but interesting TED talk by policy analyst Benedetta Berti about when and why armed groups (insurgents, militias, terrorists) get involved in politics and start providing social services.

She notes that war has changed: it less often involves a state fighting a state. “Of the 216 peace agreements signed between 1975 and 2011, 196 of them were between a state and a non-state actor.”

Berti notes that we, in the West, tend to think about armed groups in terms of their violence. Natural, I suppose, given that it’s the violence we mostly see on the news, and its awfulness leaves us breathless.

But she argues that our governments need to work harder at looking past the violence to understand the groups’ strengths, strategies and long-term visions. It is there that solutions might best be found.

“These groups are hybrid. They rise because they fill a gap left by the government, and they emerge to be both armed and political, engage in violent struggle and provide governance.

“What do you call a group like Hezbollah? They run part of a territory, they administer all their functions, they pick up the garbage, they run the sewage system. Is this a state? Is it a rebel group? 

We live in a world of states, non-states, and in-between, and the more states are weak, like in the Middle East today, the more non-state actors step in and fill that gap. This matters for governments, because to counter these groups, they will have to invest more in non-military tools. Filling that governance gap has to be at the center of any sustainable approach.”

Thanks, as ever, to TED for making these talks readily available under a BY- NC-ND Creative Commons licence and for going the extra mile with sub-titles and transcripts.

Bookmarks for July 24, 2015

Morepork slow-mo

Keeper cam! Morepork (rūrū) are silent hunters – their soft wing feathers make no sound as they swoop down on their prey. Zookeeper Debs captured an amazing slow-mo video showing one of our rūrū in action!

Posted by Auckland Zoo on Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Bookmarks for May 22, 2015

Some of the more interesting things I’ve read – or bookmarked to read – over the last little while.

Haka video of 3-year-old Levi goes viral | Māori Television
Levi Tairi, a 3-year-old boy of Māori and Samoan descent, is set for stardom after a video of him performing the haka for his great grandmothers 81st…

Twitter loses quarter of market value after poor results ‘leaked’ – Telegraph
Twitter loses quarter of market value after poor results ‘leaked’ – Telegraph http://evlvgn.ws/1zc9UU1

Google aims to transform European newsrooms – PC World New Zealand
Google will give €150 million (US$163 million) to European publishers and digital journalism startups in the next three years as part of a wider package that aims to support the news sector.

Fairfax Media NZ appoints Jeremy Rees | Scoop News
Jeremy Rees has been appointed to the newly-established National Community Titles editor role at Fairfax Media New Zealand.

Rural residents: council wants to hear how bad your broadband is | Te Waha Nui
Auckland Council wants to hear from rural residents about “what’s really happening” with their broadband connections.

Woollen pants from World War II bring warmth to Christchurch homeless 50 years later | Te Waha Nui
The Red Cross sent the warm trousers to a WWII prisoner of war in 1945 but they only got as far as Geneva

Leaving the New York Times — Medium
I’m not a fan of burying the lede, so let me just get straight to the point. I am leaving the New York Times to go work …

Finnish military fires depth charges at suspected submarine| Reuters
Finnish military fires depth charges at suspected submarine | Reuters @juhasaarinen http://evlvgn.ws/1P3vhJ7

The People Who Risk Jail to Maintain the Tor Network | Motherboard
Some of the volunteers who keep the Tor network running are raided for their services. “Richard” was one of them.

Newsonomics: The Wall Street Journal is playing a game of digital catchup » Nieman Journalism Lab
Its newly launched redesign isn’t just about aesthetics — it’s a chance to look inside the business and strategic thinking at America’s business daily.

Inverse topography—conduits, energy and stasis « fog on water
Stream order diagrams are simultaneously beautiful and illuminating. Subtle line width variations form aesthetically pleasing dendritic patterns that suggest how water moves across a diverse landsc…

Hacker Implants NFC Chip In His Hand To Bypass Security Scans And Exploit Android Phones
Hackers who want real stealth might want to hack their own body first. An ex-military security specialist tells FORBES an NFC chip in his hand would be a useful tool in any digital criminal’s arsenal,…

Child malaria vaccine: Final trials bring hope – BBC News
Final clinical trials of a malaria vaccine – the first to reach this stage – suggest it could protect one third of children against malaria, according to data published in The Lancet.

We are not edging up to a mass extinction – Stewart Brand – Aeon
The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis.

Bookmarks for April 19, 2015

Some of the more interesting things I’ve read – or bookmarked to read – over the past few days.

Data.govt.nz gets a makeover 

Well now, the new-look data.govt.nz is looking pretty this morning.

Students recreate Gallipoli in Minecraft for Anzac Day | Te Waha Nui

Auckland students are bridging the generation gap for this year’s Anzac Centenary by recreating Gallipoli in popular video game Minecraft.

Shifting surveys: OMG’s Scott Keddie on what the new radio survey might look like :: StopPress

Shifting surveys: OMG’s Scott Keddie on what New Zealand’s new radio survey might look like | StopPress http://evlvgn.ws/1H3LEok

Police in Iceland are having Way more Fun than You on Instagram | Messy Nessy Chic

I didn’t even know police forces having instagram accounts was a thing, but apparently it is. The NYPD even has time for one. But no one gets it quite lik

The Winnipeg Free Press is launching a paywall that lets readers pay by the article » Nieman Journalism Lab

The Winnipeg Free Press is launching a paywall that lets readers pay by the article | Nieman Lab #AUTjournos http://evlvgn.ws/1H3Hdd6

Reclaiming our harbour: The People v The Port – Business – NZ Herald News

A useful backgrounder for anyone follow the Auckland port extensions | NZ Herald #AUTJournos http://evlvgn.ws/1c7cmRn

[toread] Rebranding the Business of Farming — re:form — Medium

by IDEO.org A common narrative about smallholder farmers in the developing world is that they’re desperately poor, have limited access to quality seeds and…

Video: John Oliver meets Edward Snowden and isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions – Quartz

“Well, the good news is there’s no program named ‘the dick pic program.’ The bad news is they are still collecting everybody’s information, including your dick pics.”

Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong — Psychology of Stuff — Medium

When “I don’t” is more powerful than “I can’t” in incrementally breaking bad habits: Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? | Medium http://evlvgn.ws/1a03cor

‘Users convert to digital subscribers at a rate of ~1 per cent’

Some useful details about the workings of paywalls in excerpts from Jeff Jarvis’s book Geeks Bearing Gifts published on Medium.

1. If you can expect to convert people from user to digital subscriber at a rate of around 1 per cent, then you need a lot of users to begin with.

Martin Nisenholtz, the business executive who started NYTimes.com, has told my classes that giving away Times content online was not an original sin but a foundational necessity, for The Times needed to compete with other new players and to build market share. In fact, being free allowed The Times to become a truly international brand with a huge audience: almost 60 million monthly readers online vs. fewer than 1 million buyers daily in print. Having that large an audience is what made it possible for The Times to put up its meter, for its conversion rate from online user to digital subscriber is only a bit over 1 percent, but 1 percent of almost 60 million is a lot of subscribers.

2. People read far fewer stories than we might imagine. At lesser newspapers ‘an average of 3-4 per cent of users hit the paywall and about half a per cent of those will pay’.

When it started to charge, The Times allowed users to see 20 stories a month for free (with various additions, including links from social media) before encountering the meter and getting hit up to pay up. But not enough people hit the wall and got the pitch. The Times lowered the barrier so customers would see only 10 stories a month for free. That means the vast majority of The Times’ audience doesn’t read so much as one story every three days. That is a shockingly low level of engagement for the pinnacle of a profession that considers itself vital to the maintenance of democracy and society. For lesser newspapers, the numbers are worse. According to Jeff Hartley, vice president for consumer revenue at the Morris Publishing Group, experience with Press+, the leading provider of paywall services, shows that on average 3–4 percent of users will come often enough to hit the wall and about half a percent of those stopped will pay.

Read the rest here.