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Over 70 new technologies to be applied in Beijing Winter Olympics

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(Last Updated On: January 9, 2022)

Beijing has tested more than 200 new technologies for the Winter Olympics and will apply more than 70 of them during competitions, local authorities said on Friday.

The over 200 technologies, involving information engineering and software engineering, public safety, high-definition videos, 5G and new energy and other fields, can be used for more than 60 purposes such as security and epidemic prevention, Reuters reported.

Among them, more than 20 technologies are outstanding in terms of technological advancement and application. For example, the Winter Olympics will adopt an aerosol detection system for the novel coronavirus in public spaces.

“It can monitor and rapidly detect the virus in the air inside a venue and send early warnings with detection sensitivity three times higher than that of traditional methods. This technology has been tested and verified at the National Speed Skating Oval and the Ice Cube,” said Wang Jianxin, level-two counsel of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, at a press conference of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.

According to the report focusing on venue construction, venue operation, transportation and logistics, the city has promoted research on green and low-carbon technologies to help achieve the goal of a green and low-carbon Winter Olympics.

“We have established a smart integrated digital twin management platform by carrying out research on green and smart stadium construction and low-energy operation technology, and applied the technology to the construction of the National Speed Skating Oval, which is also known as the ‘Ice Ribbon’. The technology helped save two months and nearly 3,000 tons of steel in the construction of the main structure. The precise environmental control platform built at the National Winter Sports Training Center has become the ‘general energy manager’ of the venue with the daily energy consumption down more than 10 percent,” said Wang.

To ensure the smooth operation of the Winter Olympics, Beijing researched on a number of technological applications focused on the food, engineering construction, and operation support.

In addition, it has also promoted the application of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, high-definition display, and virtual reality in event reporting and broadcasting to enhance the experience of audience.

“Our technical solution of cloud broadcasting has been verified many times in testing events. During the competitions, we will make ‘bullet time’ videos for the OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) and the video service system of the Beijing Winter Olympics press conference. In addition, we have also developed a virtual tour guide system based on 3D space reconstruction technology, which offers fresh experiences to athletes and spectators with scene display and VR tour guide functions,” said Wang.

At present, the 3G, 4G, and 5G network signal testing of the four competition venues in Zhangjiakou, another host city of the Beijing Winter Olympics, has been completed, improving the real-time download speed to 1.7 Gbps and the upload speed 300 Mbps.

By setting up a large number of multi-band and multi-form 5G base stations, the communication support team achieved full signal coverage of the tracks, indoor and temporary construction areas of the venues, and used technical equipment resistant to snow, cold, and strong winds to fully meet the communication requirements of the Winter Olympics, Reuters reported.

Science & Technology

Satellite imagery shows Antarctic ice shelf crumbling faster than thought

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Antarctica’s coastal glaciers are shedding icebergs more rapidly than nature can replenish the crumbling ice, doubling previous estimates of losses from the world’s largest ice sheet over the past 25 years, a satellite analysis showed on Wednesday.

The first-of-its-kind study, led by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles and published in the journal Nature, raises new concern about how fast climate change is weakening Antarctica’s floating ice shelves and accelerating the rise of global sea levels, Reuters reported.

The study’s key finding was that the net loss of Antarctic ice from coastal glacier chunks “calving” off into the ocean is nearly as great as the net amount of ice that scientists already knew was being lost due to thinning caused by the melting of ice shelves from below by warming seas.

Taken together, thinning and calving have reduced the mass of Antarctica’s ice shelves by 12 trillion tons since 1997, double the previous estimate, the analysis concluded.

The net loss of the continent’s ice sheet from calving alone in the past quarter-century spans nearly 37,000 sq km, an area almost the size of Switzerland, according to JPL scientist Chad Greene, the study’s lead author.

“Antarctica is crumbling at its edges,” Greene said in a NASA announcement of the findings. “And when ice shelves dwindle and weaken, the continent’s massive glaciers tend to speed up and increase the rate of global sea level rise.”

The consequences could be enormous. Antarctica holds 88% of the sea level potential of all the world’s ice, he said.

Ice shelves, permanent floating sheets of frozen freshwater attached to land, take thousands of years to form and act like buttresses holding back glaciers that would otherwise easily slide off into the ocean, causing seas to rise.

When ice shelves are stable, the long-term natural cycle of calving and re-growth keeps their size fairly constant.

In recent decades, though, warming oceans have weakened the shelves from underneath, a phenomenon previously documented by satellite altimeters measuring the changing height of the ice and showing losses averaging 149 million tons a year from 2002 to 2020, according to NASA.

The losses measured from calving outpaced natural ice shelf replenishment so greatly that researchers found it unlikely Antarctica can return to pre-2000 glacier levels by the end of this century.

The accelerated glacial calving, like ice thinning, was most pronounced in West Antarctica, an area hit harder by warming ocean currents. But even in East Antarctica, a region whose ice shelves were long considered less vulnerable, “we’re seeing more losses than gains,” Greene said.

One East Antarctic calving event that took the world by surprise was the collapse and disintegration of the massive Conger-Glenzer ice shelf in March, possibly a sign of greater weakening to come, Greene said.

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WhatsApp unveils new privacy features to boost user security

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

WhatsApp is to allow users to leave group chats without notifying others and control who can see when they are online as part of a privacy update to the messaging app.

As part of the update, which is rolling out this month, users will also be given the ability to block people from taking screenshots of View Once messages, which are designed to disappear after being opened.

The screenshot blocking tool is currently being tested, WhatsApp said, and would be released to users soon.

The Meta-owned messaging platform said the new features aimed to keep improving the privacy around online conversations.

In a post announcing the WhatsApp update, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg said: “We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”

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Beluga whale caught in France’s Seine not accepting food

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

French environmentalists are working around the clock to try to feed a dangerously thin Beluga whale that has strayed into the Seine River. 

So far, they have been unsuccessful, AP reported.

Marine conservation group Sea Shepherd France tweeted Saturday that “our teams took turns with the Beluga all night long. It always ignores the fish offered to him.”

The lost Beluga was first seen in France’s river, far from its Arctic habitat, earlier this week. Drone footage subsequently shot by French fire services showed the whale gently meandering in a stretch of the river’s light green waters between Paris and the Normandy city of Rouen, many dozens of kilometers inland from the sea.

Conservationists have tried since Friday to feed a catch of herring to the ethereal white mammal. Calling it “a race against the clock,” Sea Shepherd fears the whale is slowly starving in the waterway and could die.

Authorities in the l’Eure region said in a Friday night statement that the wild animal has a “fleeing behavior vis-a-vis the boats” and has not responded to attempts to guide it to safer waters.

The people trying to help the whale are being as unobtrusive as possible to “avoid stress that could aggravate his state of health,” according to the statement.

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