Donald Trump orders Pentagon to create US ‘space force’

Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to create a US “space force”, which he said would become the sixth branch of the American military. The president said the force would be “separate but equal” to the US Air Force, adding that the move represents a “big statement”. Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council, Mr Trump framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us”. He added: “Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter…

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Exclusive ride on first self-driving motorbike

Sky News has been given an exclusive ride on the first self-driving motorbike. The BMW C1 can steer, control its speed and keep itself upright without any human intervention. It is the first step towards a fully autonomous machine that could whisk passengers through city traffic far more safely. Engineer Torquil Ross-Martin has set up a company, AutoRd Limited, to develop the bike. He said the on-board computer reacts far more quickly than a brain to dangerous situations, such as a gust of wind or an obstruction. “A computer can…

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Concerns about potentially ‘monopolistic’ Google access to NHS patient data

Google’s collection of NHS patients’ data has prompted an independent panel to call for the company to address concerns about how it might monetise this access in the future. In its annual report for 2018, the independent panel set up by Google’s artificial intelligence arm DeepMind, has principally recommended that the company be transparent about its business model. It notes fears that the company’s low-cost offerings could be luring in the NHS at the moment, only for the company to suddenly extract enormous profits from the health service in the…

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Astronomers watch a black hole eating a star

For the first time, astronomers have directly imaged the jet of material ejected when a black hole eats a star. The rapid jet of particles is caused when a supermassive black hole rips apart a star that comes too close to its event horizon. Astronomical imaging is the process of collecting electromagnetic radiation using telescopes, and although it can involve photography in this instance it did not. Using radio and infrared telescopes the team studied a pair of galaxies colliding with each other nearly 150 million light-years from Earth. A…

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Scientists find rare 99-million-year-old amber fossil of prehistoric frog

In the film Jurassic Park, dinosaur DNA is extracted from mosquitoes which had been preserved in amber. Now, scientists have discovered an amber fossil of a juvenile frog in present-day Myanmar dating back about 99 million years. Although the species is extinct, it has now been named Electrorana limoae and is one of four fossils that proves ancient frogs lived in wet tropical forests. “It’s almost unheard of to get a fossil frog from this time period that is small, has preservation of small bones and is mostly three-dimensional. This…

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Scientists spot 121 giant planets with habitable moons

The search for alien life continues as scientists have identified 121 giant planets which could potentially have habitable moons. Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Southern Queensland have published their findings in the Astrophysical Journal. The moons they spotted are believed to be capable of supporting life, and their work is going to help towards designing a telescope which will scan their atmospheres for biosignatures – the tell-tale signs of life. Thousands of exoplanets – planets in other solar systems – have been discovered since…

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Facial recognition technology could see Home Office and Met Police face legal action

A legal challenge to prevent the Metropolitan Police from using facial recognition cameras has been launched. Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has joined forces with Baroness Jenny Jones to ask the government and the Met to stop using what they deem “dangerously authoritarian” facial recognition cameras. In what is thought to be the first legal challenge of its kind, the use of real-time facial recognition cameras by the Met is being contested. The controversial cameras have been used by the Met for two years at Nottingham Carnival and at…

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UK leading app development jobs across Europe

The UK is the leading country for jobs connected to app development across Europe, according to new figures released by Apple. The country employs some 291,000 people contributing to apps which are available in the App Store, with 138,000 of those based in London – the leading European city for the sector. Other British cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford and Bristol are included within the top 30 in Europe. Despite the fears of instability for the UK’s tech sector following the Brexit vote in 2016, the number of jobs in…

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Elon Musk to cut 9% of Tesla workforce, with 4,000 jobs at risk

Tesla has announced it is cutting 9% of staff, risking 4,000 jobs worldwide, in a move designed to improve profitability. In a leaked email to employees, Elon Musk said the cuts to the electric carmaking company are part of a restructuring which is needed to focus more on costs. “Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us,” according to the email. It added: “What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s…

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Yahoo fined £250,000 over 2014 data breach

Yahoo’s British subsidiary has been fined £250,000 by the UK’s data watchdog after losing the data of more than half a million people. The fine is equivalent to just less than 50p for ever British user who was affected by the attack and follows another fine of $35m (£26m) issued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Although the data breach took place in 2014, Yahoo kept the loss of around 500 million international users quiet until 2016. That data breach at Yahoo is just another in a long line…

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