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January 19, 2015

Wave Energy Costs Favorable

According to a new analysis published in the journal Renewable Energy, large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at competitive costs to other forms of renewable energy including wind power. The study finds that wave energy has less variability than some other energy sources and that by balancing wave energy production over a large geographic area variability can be further reduced.

Variability of renewable energy production from sources such as solar or wind have been a concern and often require back-up energy sources leading to extra costs. Wave energy may be a more reliable and ultimately less expense option when the technology is future developed.

Ocean Sentinel“Whenever any new form of energy is added, a challenge is to integrate it into the system along with the other sources,” said Ted Brekken, an associate professor and renewable energy expert in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

“By producing wave energy from a range of different sites, possibly with different types of technology, and taking advantage of the comparative consistency of the wave resource itself, it appears that wave energy integration should be easier than that of wind energy,” he continued. “The reserve, or backup generation, necessary for wave energy integration should be minimal.”

Today, wave energy is not being commercially produced in the Pacific Northwest, but the researchers expert its future potential is significant, and costs should come down as technologies improve and more systems are developed.  In addition, the study suggested, that its short-term generation capacity can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy over a time scale ranging from minutes to hours, and with some accuracy even seasonally or annually.

January 19, 2015

The Challenge of the Planets, Part Two: High Energy

JPL's nuclear-electric Space Cruiser could in theory reach Pluto in slightly more than three years.

JPL’s nuclear-electric “Space Cruiser” could in theory reach Pluto from Earth orbit in slightly more than three years. NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

President John F. Kennedy did not call only for a piloted lunar landing by 1970 in his 25 May 1961 “Urgent National Needs” speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Among other things, he sought new money to expand Federal research into nuclear rocketry, which, he explained, might one day enable Americans to reach to “the very ends of the solar system.”

Today we know that Americans can reach the “ends” of the Solar System without resorting to nuclear rockets. When President Kennedy gave his speech, however, it was widely assumed that “high-energy” propulsion – which for most researchers meant nuclear rockets – would be desirable for round-trip journeys to Mars and Venus and an outright necessity for voyages beyond those next-door worlds.

In his speech, President Kennedy referred specifically to the joint NASA-Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) ROVER nuclear-thermal rocket program. As the term implies, a nuclear-thermal rocket employs a nuclear reactor to heat a propellant (typically liquid hydrogen) and expel it through a nozzle to generate thrust.

ROVER had begun under U.S. Air Force/AEC auspices in 1955. AEC and the Air Force selected the Kiwi reactor design for nuclear-thermal rocket ground testing in 1957, then the latter relinquished its role in ROVER to the newly created NASA in 1958. As President Kennedy gave his speech, U.S. aerospace companies competed for the contract to build NERVA, the first flight-capable nuclear-thermal rocket engine.

Nuclear-thermal propulsion is not the only form of nuclear-powered high-energy propulsion. Another is nuclear-electric propulsion, which can take many forms. This post examines only the form known widely as ion drive.

An ion thruster electrically charges a propellant and expels it at nearly the speed of light using an electric or magnetic field. Because doing these things requires a large amount of electricity, only a small amount of propellant can be ionized and expelled. This means in turn that an ion thruster permits only very gradual acceleration; one can, however, in theory operate an ion thruster for months or years, enabling it to push a spacecraft to high velocities.

American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard first wrote of electric rocket propulsion in his laboratory notebooks in 1906. By 1916, he conducted experiments with “electrified jets.” He described his work in some detail in a report in 1920.

Interest remained minimal, but picked up in the 1940s. The list of ion-drive experimenters and theorists reads like a “Who’s Who” of early space research: L. Shepherd and A. V. Cleaver in Britain, L. Spitzer and H. Tsien in the United States, and E. Sanger in West Germany all contributed to the development of ion drive before 1955.

In 1954, Ernst Stuhlinger, a member of the German rocket team the U.S. Army brought to the United States at the end of the Second World War, began small-scale research into ion-drive spacecraft while developing missiles for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. His first design, poetically nicknamed the “cosmic butterfly,” relied on banks of dish-shaped solar concentrators for electricity, but he soon switched to nuclear-electric designs. These had a reactor heating a working fluid which drove an electricity-generating turbine. The fluid then circulated through a radiator to shed waste heat before returning to the reactor to repeat the cycle.

Stuhlinger became a NASA employee in 1960 when the ABMA team at Redstone Arsenal became the nucleus for Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). In March 1962, barely 10 months after Kennedy’s speech, the American Rocket Society hosted its second Electric Propulsion Conference in Berkeley, California. Stuhlinger was conference chairman. About 500 engineers heard 74 technical papers on a wide range of electric-propulsion topics, making it perhaps the largest professional gathering ever devoted solely to electric propulsion.

Among the papers were several on ion propulsion research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. JPL had formed its electric-propulsion group in 1959 and commenced in-depth studies the following year.

One JPL study team compared different forms of “high-energy” propulsion to determine which, if any, could perform 15 robotic space missions of interest to scientists. The missions were: flybys of Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto; Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn orbiters; a probe in solar orbit at about 10% of the Earth-Sun distance of 93 million miles; and “extra-ecliptic” missions to orbits tilted 15°, 30°, and 45° with respect to the plane of the ecliptic. In keeping with their robotic payloads, all were one-way missions.

The five-person JPL comparison study team found that a three-stage, seven-million-pound chemical-propellant Nova rocket capable of placing 300,000 pounds of hardware – including a hefty chemical-propellant Earth-orbit departure stage – into 300-mile-high Earth orbit with a meaningful scientific instrument payload could achieve just eight of the 15 missions: specifically, the Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn flybys; the Venus and Mars orbiters; and the 15° extra-ecliptic mission. A chemical/nuclear-thermal hybrid comprising a Saturn S-I first stage, a 79,000-pound Kiwi-derived nuclear-thermal second stage, and a 79,000-pound Kiwi-derived nuclear-thermal stage with interplanetary payload could carry out the Nova missions plus the 30° extra-ecliptic mission.

A 1500-kilowatt ion system starting from Earth orbit could achieve all 15 missions. The JPL team told the Berkeley meeting that an unspecified chemical-propellant booster rocket would launch the 45,000-pound ion system into a 300-mile-high orbit as a unit. There the reactor and ion thrusters would activate and the slow-accelerating ion system would begin gradually to gain speed and climb toward Earth-escape and its required interplanetary trajectory.

For several of the missions to more distant targets – for example, the Saturn flyby – the ion system could reach its goal hundreds of days ahead of the Nova and chemical/nuclear-thermal hybrid systems. It could also provide its instrument payload and long-range telecommunications system with ample electricity, boosting data return. A smaller ion system (600-kilowatts, 20,000 pounds) that could be launched atop NASA’s planned Saturn C-1 booster rocket could accomplish all but the extra-ecliptic 45° mission.

Missiles and Rockets magazine devoted a two-page article to the JPL comparison study. It headlined its report “Electric Tops for High-Energy Trips,” which must have been gratifying for many long-time ion-drive supporters.

Many technical problems remained, however. The five JPL engineers who performed the comparison study optimistically assumed that for every kilowatt of electricity its 1500-kilowatt system applied to generating thrust, only 13 pounds of hardware – reactor, turbo-generator, radiator, structure, wiring – would be required. In 1962, a ratio of about 70 pounds of hardware per kilowatt of thrust with a maximum generating capacity of only 30 kilowatts was considered much more realistic.

They also assumed that its electricity generating system and its ion-drive system could operate more or less indefinitely despite the presence of moving parts operating at high temperatures. The whirling turbo-generator would, for example, need to operate non-stop at a temperature of about 2000° Fahrenheit. A one-year operating time was considered a bold aspiration in 1962.

The five engineers did not specify the precise form their ion-drive spacecraft would take, but it would probably have resembled the design depicted at the top of this post. A trio of JPL engineers produced the design during the 1960-1962 period, while the five-person team conducted its comparison study.

The automated, 20,000-pound “space cruiser,” as the three engineers dubbed their creation, would include a radiator surface area of roughly 2000 square feet, making it a large target for micrometeoroid strikes. In 1962, little was yet known of the quantity of micrometeoroids in interplanetary space, so no one could judge accurately the likelihood that such a radiator might be punctured, nor the mass required for effective puncture-resistant radiator tubes, redundant cooling loops, or “make-up” cooling fluid.

The five-person team only briefly mentioned the potentially profound effects of ion-drive power and propulsion systems on other spacecraft systems. The turbo-generator, for example, would impart torque to the spacecraft, creating a requirement for a spin-nulling attitude-control system – for example, a momentum wheel and chemical-propellant thrusters. The turbine, flow of coolant through the radiator, and momentum wheel would, it was expected, cause vibration that could interfere with scientific instruments. In addition, ion drive systems would of necessity generate powerful magnetic and electric fields that might make difficult many desirable scientific measurements.

The space cruiser engineers sought to reduce radiation effects by placing its reactor at its front (to the right in the illustration above) and its science instruments at its rear. Unfortunately, this put the instruments among the space cruiser’s ion thrusters, where intense electric and magnetic fields would occur.

The space cruiser designers looked at a thermionic power system that would use electrons from its reactor to produce electricity directly and would include neither moving parts nor high-temperature systems. They did not favor it because it was new technology. In addition, the thermionic system’s nuclear reactor would need cooling fluid, a circulating pump, and a radiator, so in terms of vibration and micrometeoroid damage would offer little improvement over the better-understood turbo-generator design.

Close on the heels of the ARS Electric Propulsion Conference in Berkeley, NASA Headquarters opted to concentrate electric propulsion research at the NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The move was probably intended to eliminate costly redundant research programs and keep JPL and MSFC focused on their Apollo Program tasks. Research did not stop entirely at NASA MSFC and JPL, however. Stuhlinger, for example, continued to produce designs for piloted ion-drive spacecraft.

Ironically, while the nearly 500 electric-propulsion engineers met near San Francisco, a young mathematician working alone near Los Angeles was busy eliminating any immediate need for ion drive or any other kind of high-energy propulsion system for planetary exploration. The third part of this three-part series of posts will examine his work and its profound impacts on planetary exploration.


“Electric Tops for High Energy Trips,” Missiles and Rockets, 2 April 1962, pp. 34-35.

“Electric Spacecraft – Progress 1962,” D. Langmuir, Astronautics, June 1962, pp. 20-25.

“The Development of Nuclear Rocket Propulsion in the United States,” W. House, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, March-April 1964, pp. 306-318.

Ion Propulsion for Space Flight, E. Stuhlinger, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1964, pp. 1-11.

Nuclear Electric Spacecraft for Unmanned Planetary and Interplanetary Missions, JPL Technical Report No. 32-281, D. Spencer, L. Jaffe, J. Lucas, O. Merrill, and J. Shafer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 25 April 1962.

The Electric Space Cruiser for High-Energy Missions, JPL Technical Report No. 32-404, R. Beale, E. Speiser, and J. Womack, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 8 June 1963.

Related Beyond Apollo Posts

The Cosmic Butterfly (1954) –

Lunar Ion Freighter (1959) –

Twirling Ion Mars Ships (1962) –

NERVA-Ion Mars Mission (1966) –

January 19, 2015

Rugby team traps thief

CANNY rugby players traced a conman who had stolen thousands of pounds worth of valuables from them.

The Henley Hawks’ women’s team used the internet and software on their stolen mobile phones to track down the thief after he accidentally took a photo with one of the devices.

The crook struck during the women’s game against Hove Rugby Club in East Sussex on Sunday.

Most of the visiting players were outside warming up when physiotherapist Louise Carr and a player coach were approached by an “official” from the opposition club while they were still in the changing rooms at Hove recreation ground.

The man said he was locking up and would store the team’s personal possessions for them for safety. Instead, he made off with their two bags full of valuables, including two wedding rings, bracelets, purses containing 200 in cash, about 20 mobile phones and several sets of house and car keys.

The theft was only discovered after the match, which the Hawks won 12-7, when the women returned to the changing rooms.

Miss Carr said the man had appeared to be legitimate.

She recalled: “We were the last in the changing rooms when this guy came round. He opened the door and said, ‘I was just about to lock you girls in’.

“He was dressed like a member of the club and had a bunch of keys. We only found out afterwards that the changing rooms can’t be locked.”

The man even bought her an energy drink that she had asked for and gave it to her together with her change.

Miss Carr said: “He looked like a dad-type figure — he wasn’t like your typical dodgy character shall we say. He knew what to say.

“I felt really guilty because it was me who had handed the stuff over to him effectively.”

The theft was reported to police after it became clear what had happened.

Coach Alistair Mortimore said: “For half an hour it was quite calm. It then started to dawn on people at Hove that no one recognised the description of the man.

“They were great and they did as much as they could. All their girls went out and everybody was hunting for the bags.

“Three or four hours had gone by the time anyone knew what had happened so the thief was long gone.

“He has been very calm and collected about it. You’re clearly dealing with someone who has done this before.”

Despite the theft, the women were in “really good spirits” on their way home but the mood changed when they got back to Dry Leas.

Miss Carr said one or two of the players didn’t have spare keys for their cars and others had difficulty cancelling their credit cards without their mobile phones.

She said: “The majority of them are teachers and they use their phones as diaries so people’s work was affected.”

However, the team then had a stroke of luck when the thief inadvertently took a picture on Mr Mortimore’s stolen phone, a Nokia Lumia 830, of another phone on a distinctive red bedspread.

The picture automatically appeared in Mr Mortimore’s Mircrosoft OneDrive account, which allows users to access photos and files from almost anywhere, on Monday.

Meanwhile, player Amy Atkinson managed to follow the thief’s movements via the tracking application installed on her stolen phone.

Another player used the Trip Advisor website to search for hotels and bed and breakfasts on the Brighton seafront near the last known location of Miss Atkinson’s phone.

Coupled with the picture of the bedspread, she spotted a photo from a hotel that she believed matched.

The club tipped off Sussex Police, who went to the Atlantic Seafront Hotel in Brighton at 7.30am on Tuesday and arrested a man.

Police said a “substantial proportion” of the contents of the bags was recovered.

Adam Tunesi, chairman Hove Rugby Club, described the thief as “brazen”.

“He seemed to be authentic and also seemed to have knowledge of both the club and our procedures,” he said. “We would normally store players’ valuables behind our bar.

“We are reviewing the systems, including considering a CCTV system for our public areas, and all coaches at our club have been informed.

“I have also contacted other Sussex rugby clubs. This sort of thing has happened around the sporting community but as a club we are devastated as we pride ourselves on our hospitality.”

• A 62-year-old man has been charged with theft and was due to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court. Alan Philip, unemployed, of no fixed address, was also charged with a burglary in Gwent in June.

Published 19/01/15

January 19, 2015

Drame à l’hôpital psychiatrique: Un des patients se suicide en se pendant

C’est le dimanche 4 janvier 2015, que les faits se sont produits. A en croire nos sources, c’est depuis le mercredi 20 août 2014, que le ressortissant burkinabé connu sous le seul nom d’Issiaka, la quarantaine, est pensionnaire de l’hôpital psychiatrique. Et c’est de Bonoua, qu’il y a été emmené. Et jusque-là, le personnel soignant n’avait aucun problème avec lui, assure-t-on.

On en est là, lorsque ce dimanche 4 janvier, Issiaka rentre en possession d’un rouleau de bande servant aux pansements. Puis, dans la cour de l’hôpital où ne grouille pas vraiment de monde en cette journée dominicale, il se dirige vers l’oranger. Il s’enroule le cou d’une bonne partie de la bande et réussit à rattacher le reste à une branche de l’oranger. Le temps de comprendre à quel jeu il joue, qu’il se laisse subitement balancer dans le vide. Le personnel est alerté qui accourt. Mais trop tard. Issiaka s’est déjà suicidé en se pendant. Ainsi, lorsqu’on réussit à le décrocher de la branche de l’oranger, il n’y avait plus rien à faire.

Le commissariat de police de la ville est saisi tout de suite. Des agents se rendent sur les lieux et procèdent aux constatations d’usage. Puis le corps du pauvre malade est enlevé et conservé à la morgue de l’hôpital de l’ex-capitale de la Côte d’Ivoire. Mais comment Issiaka que l’on sait « dérangé », a-t-il pu trouver cette conscience de personne normale, pour se laisser aller à un suicide ? On s’interroge encore au sein de l’hôpital psychiatrique. Un hôpital où ceux des pensionnaires qui n’ont pas totalement perdu la boule, sont en émoi devant ce suicide de l’un des leurs. Une vraie histoire de fou.


Madeleine TANOU

Sauf autorisation de la rédaction ou partenariat pré-établi, la reprise des articles de, même partielle, est strictement interdite. Tout contrevenant s’expose à des poursuites

January 19, 2015

TerraWise taking net-zero energy homes mainstream


By Carole Hawkins, Staff Writer

Net-zero energy — a concept so Jetsons it typically pops up only a single house at a time – is planned for a portion of homes in a new 200-lot Northside subdivision.

TerraWise Homes, one of three builders in the soon-to-launch Cedarbrook neighborhood, will offer a net-zero energy option for every home it builds. Net-zero energy means a house produces as much energy as it uses.

“We’re trying to bring it down to the masses, where it’s not just in custom homes,” said TerraWise President David Shacter.

Cedarbrook, located on Cedar Point Road just east of Sheffield Regional Park, is being developed through a partnership of three local builders, Dostie Homes, D.S. Ware Homes and TerraWise.

Seventy-three lots will be available in the first phase, with TerraWise building 17 of them and Dostie and D.S. Ware splitting the balance.

The neighborhood is near Interstate 295, River City Marketplace and JaxPort, but across the river from the bulk of Jacksonville’s metropolis. An emerging residential area, it compares in character to Mandarin of 25 years ago.

In an economy where large projects have been dominated by national builders, it’s rare to see a development the size of Cedarbrook produced entirely by local companies.

Ownership gave the local builders the ability to introduce some outside-the-box options — including a modern architectural look and net-zero energy.

A modern, more minimalist look has been trending inside Jacksonville homes for a few years – with Colonial-style crown molding replaced by sleek modern cabinets, faucets, door hardware and lighting. But, Cedarbrook will be the only production-home community in Northeast Florida to offer a modern look on the outside, said Chris Dostie of Dostie Homes. That means cleaner lines and a mix of exterior materials.

Modern homes, said Shacter, are common in other parts of the country, like Denver, where nary a hip roof may be found.

“It’s not going to be a requirement (at Cedarbrook),” he said. “But, people will only buy what they’re offered. And if they’re not offered it, they don’t know to ask for it.”

The most striking innovation at Cedarbrook, though, will be its net-zero energy option.

Shacter, a veteran builder, two years ago launched TerraWise – a company that builds entirely in the net-zero energy niche. So far the company has built four net-zero energy homes, one at a time and mostly in Springfield. Three more custom homes are under construction.

Cedarbrook will be the first new-home community where TerraWise has built and the first production-style homes it has constructed.

TerraWise accomplishes net-zero energy consumption by combining energy-saving appliances and building techniques with energy-producing solar panels. Spray foam insulation, LED lighting and low-energy water heaters and HVAC systems are part of the package.

TerraWise buyers at Cedarbrook can buy a house with just the energy-saving features. Or they can add the solar-panel upgrade to achieve net-zero energy consumption.

The first option increases the cost of a home by about 5 percent. The solar panel option will add an average cost of $13,650.

The extra cost is folded into the mortgage, and Shacter said the higher monthly house payment is offset by lower electric bills. For just an energy-efficient home, the cost and savings are equal. For a home with solar panels added, the monthly savings are greater than the costs.

“You’re essentially moving the costs from your electric bill to your mortgage,” Shacter said.

Models at Cedarbrook will be finished in a month for Dostie and D.S. Ware, with TerraWise finishing its model in the spring. Floorplans at will range from 1,800 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet. Prices will start in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, topping out around $400,000.

(904) 356-2466

January 19, 2015

HP Debuts Virtual Reality Display Reducing the Barriers Between Digital and …

PALO ALTO, CA, Jan 05, 2015 (Marketwired via COMTEX) —

HPQ, +0.39%

today expanded its portfolio of computer monitors
with an interactive virtual reality display, 4K and 5K ultra
high-definition displays and curved displays for consumers and
professionals. Designed to immerse users into a variety of digital
experiences, the new products include:

--  HP Zvr Virtual Reality Display: Rotate, manipulate and navigate 3D
    images from the 23.6-inch diagonal interactive display. The HP Zvr
    will change how users think, work, and create with virtual-holographic
    3D images (1).
--  HP Z27s and HP Z24s 4K Displays and the HP Z27q 5K Display: Ultra
    high-definition (UHD) solutions aimed to increase productivity by
    expanding the visual workspace and connecting to more devices.
--  HP Z34c, HP ENVY 34c, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c Curved
    Displays: An immersive personal experience that will enhance visual
    perception and audio experiences.

“HP’s new displays complement our goal of delivering new technologies
that maximize the visual experience and change the way people work
and create,” said Jun Kim, vice president and general manager, PC
displays and accessories, HP. “HP displays feature performance,
innovation, reliability and outstanding image accuracy that we
believe will transform how customers connect and interact using

HP Zvr – A Step Closer to True Holographic Viewing
The HP Zvr
Virtual Reality Display provides for an immersive, real-time
exploration and manipulation of 3D content. Imagine dissecting a frog
or exploring an office complex without getting messy or leaving the
desk. HP Zvr, powered by zSpace technology, is another example of
HP’s Blended Reality technologies that helps reduce the barriers
between the digital and physical worlds, enabling users to express
themselves at the speed of thought without the filters and
limitations that technology currently places on them.

Users will appreciate real-time, natural interaction that allows
people to work with virtual reality applications the way they are
used to working today. Users interact seamlessly with a
high-definition 3D stereoscopic display combined with full-motion
parallax and direct interaction, delivering an intuitive user
experience with lifelike realism.

The HP Zvr display is collaborative, allowing people to work together
the way they would today, choosing to look at things in the real or
virtual world, even while using the platform. The optional HP zView
solution also allows real-time sharing of 3D models to a 2D big
screen. Dual-link DVI or DisplayPort connections to an HP Z
Workstation provide easy connectivity for architectural, MCAD,
education, and scientific content.

Ultra High-Definition Displays(2) Deliver Outstanding Image Quality

HP’s two 4K displays and its 5K display increase the viewing of image
detail, can connect to multiple devices at once and are intended to
increase productivity. By upgrading from a full high-definition
display users will quadruple the real estate of the screen —
allowing users to see more data in spreadsheets, keep multiple
windows open side-by-side or program more lines of code.
Additionally, the new media being filmed in 4K (and higher formats)
can be fully enjoyed to the smallest details and new scalar
technologies combined with higher resolutions let users see a mobile
phone, notebook and tablet all at once on the screen.

Users will enjoy 3840 x 2160 resolution on the HP Z27s (27 diagonal
inches) and HP Z24s (23.8 diagonal inches) displays. These two 4K
displays have a 16:9 UHD panel, with the sRGB or AdobeRGB color
gamuts and 1.07 billion colors for incredible color presentation of
highly-detailed digital workflows. The displays include DisplayPort,
DVI, HDMI, Mini-DP, MHL(3) and USB 3.0 connections and are equipped
with a four-way ergonomic stand, including pivot to switch quickly
between landscape and portrait modes.

The HP Z27q Display has a 5120×2880, 5K wide-color gamut. It delivers
seven times more pixels than a classic full HD display — packed in a
factory-calibrated IPS solution. The HP Z27q boasts premier imagery
with 14.7 million pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio, 300 nits luminance(4)
and 1.07 billion colors. The HP Z27q offers picture-in-picture and
picture-by-picture, allowing users to display mobile device and PC

Curved Displays Enhance Visual and Audio Computing Experience
The HP
Z34c, HP ENVY 34c, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c Curved
Displays deliver an elegant, immersive, curved visual and audio
experience with enhanced peripheral readability. These HP displays
offer an exceptional 3000:1 CR and low-haze enhancement technology to
reduce reflectiveness without losing clarity, with an expansive
178-degree field of view. Users can mirror smart phone or tablet
content to the screen through an MHL connection that also keeps
devices charged and ready to go.

The HP Z34c and HP ENVY 34c 3000r Curved Displays, measure 34-inches
diagonally, feature a wide 21:9 aspect ratio. These HP displays
support a 3440 x 1440 ultra-high resolution with 98 percent sRGB and
a premium 6 watt/channel speakers with DTS Audio. They include a
VESA-compatible bracket(5) and offer picture-in-picture and
picture-by-picture which allows users to view device and PC feeds at
the same time.

The 27-inch diagonal, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c 4000r
Curved Displays feature a 1920 x 1080 full HD(6) resolution, 16:9
aspect ratio and 95 percent sRGB color gamut. They have integrated
speakers with 4 watt/channel speakers with DTS Audio.

Price and Availability

--  HP Zvr expected availability is Spring 2015. Pricing available upon
--  The HP Z27s, and HP Z24s displays are expected to be available
    worldwide beginning in January and April respectively. Estimated U.S.
    pricing starts at $749 and $549, respectively.
--  The HP Z27q Display is expected to be available beginning in March at
    an estimated U.S. price of $1299.
--  HP Z34c and HP ENVY 34c are expected to be available worldwide
    beginning in April at an estimated U.S. price of $999.
--  HP EliteDisplay S270c and Pavilion 27c Curved Displays are available
    now for $399.

About HP
HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a
meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society.
With the broadest technology portfolio spanning printing, personal
systems, software, services and IT infrastructure, HP delivers
solutions for customers’ most complex challenges in every region of
the world. More information about HP is available at

(1) 3D content is required for 3D performance
(2) High-definition
content required.
(3) MHL 2.0 port will charge a MHL compatible
smart phone and tablet battery. Includes a DisplayPort to HDMI dongle
to increase connect flexibility. Requires the smart phone or tablet
to be enabled for MHL or have an HDMI dongle to connect to the
monitor. See your mobile device specifications.
(4) All
specifications represent the typical specifications provided by HP’s
component manufacturers; actual performance may vary either higher or
(5) VESA mounting kit and adjustable arm is optional.
High definition (HD) content is required to view HD images. This
monitor is capable of 1080p resolution.

Copyright 2014 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The
information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The
only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the
express warranty statements accompanying such products and services.
Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional
warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or
omissions contained herein.

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve
risks, uncertainties and assumptions. If such risks or uncertainties
materialize or such assumptions prove incorrect, the results of HP
and its consolidated subsidiaries could differ materially from those
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described in HP’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year
ended October 31, 2013, and HP’s other filings with the Securities
and Exchange Commission, including HP’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q
for the fiscal quarter ended July 31, 2014. HP assumes no obligation
and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements.

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January 19, 2015

Physicists debate whether quantum math is as real as atoms

Second of two parts (read Part 1)

Ernst Mach found atoms useful. But he didn’t believe they were real.

The 19th century physicist-philosopher gained his greatest fame as an atom denier. He believed that reality consisted of sounds and colors and pressures, features of nature susceptible to “sensuous contemplation.” Reality was what the senses perceived; things like atoms were mere “mental artifices” designed to represent nature for practical purposes.

Hypothesizing atoms permitted successful predictions about chemical reactions or properties of heat, for instance. It’s much like how hypotheses about circles and epicycles allowed ancient astronomers to plot the paths of planets and predict eclipses. Epicycles weren’t real, and Mach saw no reason that atoms should be, either.

“Atoms cannot be perceived by the senses,” he declared. “Like all substances, they are things of thought.”

No scientist today denies the reality of atoms. Mach did not foresee the technology that allows them to be imaged, split and smashed. But Mach’s conception of atoms and the question of their reality echoes today in a different debate on the physics frontier: the nature of the mathematical expression at the heart of quantum mechanics.

Quantum math describes how atoms behave, in much the way atomic theory helped explain the behavior of the observable world. But atoms, Mach insisted, would forever remain “a tool for representing phenomena, like the functions of mathematics,” and you shouldn’t mistake mathematical equations for the real phenomena they describe. Yet today some experts believe that the quantum formula describing atomic phenomena is not simply a mathematical tool, but is just as real as atoms are.

That formula is known as the state vector or (a bit loosely) the wave function. Atoms, or any physical system, can be considered to be in a “quantum state”; the wave function describing it permits predictions of the system’s future. But to the despair of many fans of traditional, or classical, physics, those predictions are not definite. In a classical state, the math describes the locations and motion of all the particles in the system, enabling a precise forecast of future states. Quantum math offers up only the odds for various possible futures.

Nature obeys those odds — in the long run, quantum probabilities accurately forecast the distribution of experimental results. But the explicit cause-and-effect certainty of classical Newtonian physics is rendered fuzzy. Hopes of restoring such certainty with “hidden variables” have been dashed by experiments based on work by John Bell a half a century ago.

Such experiments have persuaded many physicists to live comfortably with the wave function’s probabilities, happy to comply with an often-repeated quantum theorist creed: “Shut up and calculate.” But others insist that the wave function or quantum state has real physical existence. Whether it’s real or merely a tool for calculating probabilities is today “perhaps the most hotly debated issue in all of quantum foundations,” quantum physicist Matthew Leifer writes in a recent paper in the journal Quanta.

Dressing this debate in philosophical jargon, Leifer and others in the field label the two possibilities as “ontic” and “epistemic.” These are not words you should try to use at home. But when eavesdropping on quantum debates, you should know that “ontic” refers to something physically real; “epistemic” alludes to mere knowledge about something.

An ontic state exists independently of anybody’s knowledge or awareness. “Ontic states are the things that would still exist if all intelligent beings were suddenly wiped out from the universe,” writes Leifer, of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. “An epistemic state is … a description of what an observer currently knows about a physical system. It is something that exists in the mind of the observer rather than in the external physical world.”

Historically, quantum states have usually been regarded as epistemic. As the Danish quantum pioneer Niels Bohr famously said, “It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature.”

Bohr’s attitude was incorporated into the view of quantum physics known as the Copenhagen interpretation, once the predominant approach but now widely challenged. Modern adherents of the Copenhagen view tend to favor the epistemic side of the ontic-epistemic debate.

“If asked what quantum states represent knowledge about, neo-Copenhagenists are likely to answer that they represent knowledge about the outcomes of future measurements, rather than knowledge of some underlying observer-independent reality,” Leifer writes.

Others think the quantum world makes more sense if the quantum state wave function actually does exist in a physically real sense. In fact, in 2012 physicists Matthew Pusey, Jonathan Barrett and Terry Rudolph published a theorem in Nature Physics positing that the wave function must be ontic. Other theorems seem to demonstrate the opposite, though, and all such mathematical arguments rely on assumptions that may not be valid.

And so the debate goes on — for instance, during a workshop a few months ago at the IBM Watson Research Center north of New York City. There a group of quantum experts, plus one impartial observer, explored various perspectives on the foundations of quantum physics and its relationship to the classical appearance of the ordinary world.

Mark Srednicki, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, argued strongly for the superiority of the ontic wave function over the epistemic approach.

“There are people who are trying to come up with a fully epistemic theory of quantum probability,” Srednicki pointed out. “It’s really hard. Those guys have been working a long time in trying to get this to work, and I think they have basically not been able to do it.”

Another theoretical physicist at the workshop, Sean Carroll of Caltech, also views the quantum state as ontic. “It represents reality,” he says. “It’s what the universe is.”

Probabilities come into play, as he sees it, because of “self-locating uncertainty.” You can know what the quantum state is without knowing which branch you occupy on the tree of quantum possibilities described by the wave function.

“The point of self-locating uncertainty is that you can know what the state is, and know what your environment looks like, and yet not know where you are in the state, because there is more than one place that looks like your environment, including you,” Carroll says.

But another leading quantum theorist, Wojciech Zurek of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, isn’t ready to jump on the ontic bandwagon.

“I don’t think the [quantum] state is either epistemic or ontic,” he said at the IBM workshop. “For the record, the state is definitely epi-ontic.”

Zurek pointed out that quantum states do not exist in the same sense that ordinary classical states exist. For classical states, information about the state can be recorded, copied and shared. A quantum system can be prepared in a known state, but an unknown quantum state can’t be examined or copied without destroying it.

“I can confirm a quantum state exists if I know it,” Zurek said. “If I don’t know it, I cannot find it out.… So I can have a situation where, for example, the state exists for me because I know what it is, but I haven’t told you.”

Perhaps, Zurek suggested, it doesn’t really matter whether you regard a quantum state as ontic, epistemic or epi-ontic. As Leifer notes in his review, the issue doesn’t even arise if you don’t believe in any underlying reality to begin with — in that case, there is no ontic. And even if some mysterious reality does underlie quantum knowledge, that doesn’t mean the quantum state captures that reality uniquely.

But Carroll believes such issues really do make a difference for cosmologists in their efforts to understand the universe. Building a comprehensive model of the universe that faithfully represents its origin and evolution requires a solid quantum foundation.

For instance, much of the discussion at the IBM conference focused on Boltzmann brains, hypothetical transient configurations of matter possessing consciousness and memories (if for just an instant). In some scenarios, quantum fluctuations could produce such an arrangement of matter and energy that exactly duplicates the state of your brain at this moment. So how do you know that you’re not just an ephemeral flux of randomness that popped into existence a moment ago and will go poof a moment later?

You’d think that wouldn’t be likely. But in fact, if the universe spends most of eternity in a quantum vacuum state, as some cosmological theories suggest, it becomes overwhelmingly probable that you are a Boltzmann brain, since Boltzmann brains would vastly outnumber real ones (if certain views of quantum physics are correct).

Carroll would rather not be a Boltzmann brain. And he and collaborators Kim Boddy and Jason Pollack have proposed a view of quantum physics that avoids them.

“Boltzmann brains are supposed to be things that arise through quantum fluctuations,” Carroll explained to me during a break in the action at IBM.  “But what a quantum fluctuation is depends upon one’s views about the foundations of quantum mechanics.”

For instance, a quantum state that doesn’t change over time should imply that nothing happens, and so there should be no fluctuations (and no Boltzmann brains). But in quantum physics, multiple possibilities can exist at the same time. So a nonchanging quantum state could be expressed as the sum of two other states that are evolving in time.

“Then the quantum foundation question is, are those evolving states real in some sense, or is it just a math trick and we shouldn’t treat them as real?” Carroll said.

If his approach rules out Boltzmann brains, then various approaches to modeling the cosmos become more feasible. Models with multiple universes, for instance, that might be tossed in the trash because they imply too many Boltzmann brains, could be reconsidered.

“So we’re saying you can relax a little bit,” Carroll said. “It is an example … where your opinion about certain issues in quantum foundations affects whether you think a certain cosmological model is legitimate or not. So I think that’s great, because it’s really saying that you can’t just shut up and calculate.”

Perhaps Mach would say the quantum state is just a mathematical tool for representing phenomena, just as he believed atoms to be. Or maybe he’d see in it progress toward his view that physicists would someday give up playing with atoms as though they were stones and forge a more vivid picture of reality.

“As the intellect … grows in discipline,” Mach predicted, “physical science will give up its mosaic play with stones and will seek out the boundaries and forms of the bed in which the living stream of phenomena flows.”

Follow me on Twitter: @tom_siegfried

January 19, 2015

Researchers develop rice-sized laser

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online

While investigating the use of semiconductor material fragments as components for quantum computing, Princeton University researchers developed a laser the size of a grain of rice.

The researchers, who published their findings Friday in the journal Science, explain that the tiny microwave laser or “maser” is powered by single electrons that tunnel through those tiny bits of semiconductor material. These act like single atoms and are known as quantum dots.

They had been exploring how to use those quantum dots as quantum computing components when they built the device, which they claim is a demonstration of the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons.

The laser uses approximately one-billionth the electric current required to power the average hair dryer, and lead author and associate professor of physics Jason Petta said that the new maser is “basically as small as you can go with these single-electron devices.”

Co-author Jacob Taylor, an adjunct assistant professor at the Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland-National Institute of Standards and Technology, added that the device demonstrates a huge advance in efforts to build quantum-computing systems from semiconductor materials.

“I consider this to be a really important result for our long-term goal, which is entanglement between quantum bits in semiconductor-based devices,” he explained.

However, building the microwave laser was not the original goal of the project. Rather, the authors were attempting to figure out how to use double quantum dots (two quantum dots joined together) as quantum bits (qubits), the basic units of information in quantum computers.

Yinyu Liu, a physics graduate student in Petta’s lab, explained that the goal “was to get the double quantum dots to communicate with each other.” Since quantum dots can communicate through the entanglement of light particles (photons), they designed dots that emitted photons when single electrons leap from a higher energy level to a lower one to cross the double dot.

Each double quantum dot can only transfer one electron at a time, Petta explained. He compared it to a line of people who are crossing a stream by leaping onto rocks that are only large enough to fit one person at a time. Petta added that the double quantum dots “are zero-dimensional as far as the electrons are concerned – they are trapped in all three spatial dimensions.”

The double quantum dots were built from extremely thin nanowires, approximately one-billionth of a meter in diameter, that were made out of a semiconductor material known as indium arsenide. The researchers patterned the indium arsenide wires over other even smaller metal wires that act as gate electrodes, controlling the energy levels in the dots.

In constructing the maser, they placed the two double dots about six millimeters apart in a cavity made of niobium, a superconducting material that requires a temperature near absolute zero (459 degrees below zero Fahrenheit). Taylor said that this was the first time that a connection between two double quantum dots separated by nearly a centimeter had been demonstrated.

Once the maser was powered up, electrons flowed single-file through each double quantum dot, which caused them to emit photons in the microwave region of the spectrum. These photons then bounced off mirrors at each end of the cavity, forming a coherent beam of microwave light.

One advantage of the new maser is that the internal energy levels of the dots can be fine-tuned to produce light at different frequencies – something that Petta said cannot be done with other semiconductor lasers because they have their frequencies fixed during manufacturing. The larger the energy difference, the higher the frequency of the emitted light, he added.


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January 19, 2015

The 2015 Golden Globes Gifting Suites

Gift lounges during the week leading up to the Golden Globes ceremony brought numerous vendors seeking to get their products into the hands of celebrities. Established brands like Pilot Pens, Pandora and Nautica stood alongside smaller, emerging brands such as Bright Baum and Canada Bliss. All vied for some one-on-one time from TV stars likes Viola Davis and Jeremy Piven and personalities like Amber Rose and Paris Hilton. Needless to say, a good time was had by all, with lots of mingling, picture taking and gift giving. Below is a sampling of what was offered:

Secret Room Events Style Lounge in Honor of the 2015 Golden Globe Awards at the SLS Hotel:

Fashion was big this year at the Secret Room. Designer Stella Carakasi had her collection of tops made with flowy, body hugging, eco-friendly fabrics that create a luxurious, elegant look. There were pull-on jeans by Golden Girls Clothing and fabulous faux-fur porcupine vests from Kathy Fielder. Heat Holders gifted their slipper socks, which keep feet warm longer than any other cotton or thermal sock. Moxie Jean gave out gift cards to its resale website featuring clothes for babies, kids and maternity wear. Visitors also received prepaid postage bags so they could send in their previously worn items for cash.

Skincare products included everything from the natural (Derma e) to the medical grade (Sente) to the customized (Ioma). Trinfinity8 gave out gift certificates for anti-aging facials at their spa, which uses quantum-based technology and algorithmic codes to rejuvenate the skin.

Orange Is the New Black show creator Jenji Kohan at the Secret Room

The suite also teamed with family restaurant and play space Giggles N’ Hugs on the Bambi Baby Lounge featuring numerous products for the little ones and activities to keep them busy like face painting and animal-balloon making.

Big Slice products had to-go pouches of kettle-cooked apples for the ultimate tasty and nutritious snack. These ready-to-eat cooked apples come in a wide range of flavors including cinnamon French toast, cherry vanilla and peach Bellini.

Proceeds from the gift lounge benefited the Farm Sanctuary, which provides lifelong care for roughly 1,000 farm animals, and Hope for Paws, which rescues animals from desperate situations. The organization also films those missions and posts the heartbreaking and heartwarming videos online.

Celebs left with gift bags that included such goodies as earring and pendant sets from Zipsessory, lingerie from Farr West, handbags by Lola Blue and luxury flip-flops by Uzurii adorned with a variety of crystal gems, chains and other ornaments.

GBK and Pilot Pens Golden Globe Gift Lounge at the W Hollywood Hotel:

Golden Globe nominee Viola Davis and winner Gina Rodriguez at GBK

Presenting sponsor Pilot Pens gifted its gunmetal-grey Vanishing Point fountain pens with rhodium-plated 18K gold nibs along with leather notebooks and multicolored FriXion Clicker Erasable Gel Ink Pens.

There were women’s leather bucket laptop totes and hybrid backpack-briefcase laptop bags by Solo. SHEEX gave out bedsheets and portable “Sleep Saxs” made out of performance athletic fabrics. Unlike regular cotton or silk sheets, SHEEX materials are moisture-wicking and temperature-controlled, with plenty of breathability and stretch.

Heather Marianna was handing out her Beauty Kitchen products such as lavender bath soaks and tropical smoothie skin polishers. Burke Williams day spa offered on-site massages, while gifting guests with day spa passes, products from their skincare and makeup lines, and gift certificates to try the new Advanced Eye Lift Treatment at its spa.

Birdman co-screenwriter and Golden Globe winner Nicolás Giacobone at GBK

Caribbean Living Magazine gave out five-day stays to Anguilla’s CeBlue Villas Beach Resort. The Puerto Vallarta Beach Club gifted three-night accommodations at its private beachfront enclave on the Mexican Riviera.

Online shopping club Beyond the Rack handed out $200 shopping credit cards to their site. Meanwhile, Canada Bliss had stylish newsboy knit caps, toques and slouchy beanies.

The charities that benefited from the event included Lambda Legal, which fights for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV-infected people; YES!, an organization that provides resources and support for those affected by advance cancer; and the World Vision Group, which had celebs put together Ebola caregiver kits complete with handwritten notes of support.

Golden Globe HBO Luxury Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills:

Presenting sponsor Pandora had celebs play a round of Plinko that would determine which piece of Pandora jewelry they would “win” from categories that included rings, earring, bracelets and necklaces.

Nautica gifted waterproof rain breakers, and Big Buddha gave out stylish faux-leather handbags. There was fragrance by Gendarme and homeopathic medicine by Boiron. Montez Renault gifted grooming products for men, while DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse showcased their brand-name footwear including suede Nike hightops.

Gilles Marini tries on Nautica’s rain breaker at the HBO Luxury Lounge

Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge Pre-Golden Globe Awards at the Andaz West Hollywood:

There were silk tops and scarves by VIDA, a San Francisco-based company that works with carefully selected artists from around the world to digitally scan their work and print it on fabric. The result is luxurious, modern pieces in limited designs. VIDA also provides livable wages and literacy programs for its factory workers in Pakistan so they avoid being trapped by the cycle of poverty and get empowered by education.

Bright Baum was giving out artificial LED trees perfect for home décor, landscape accenting or just to keep as very cool nightlights. These realistic-looking trees are handmade, hand-painted and constructed to withstand both indoor and outdoor elements. Bright Baum trees come in a variety of sizes, light colors and tree styles from bonsai and cherry blossoms to willow and maple.

Whiplash and Divergent actor Miles Teller at Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge

Swish Suits had fitted wetsuits specifically designed for women’s bodies. Now they can all look like sexy Bond girls! On top of that, Swish Suits are made from limestone, not fossil-fuel-derived neoprene, so they’re eco-friendly as well. For non-scuba or non-surfing celebs, Swish also had colorful lightweight jackets and vests that are perfect for aquatic sports, yoga or working out.

Celebs also received the Alcohoot, a smartphone breathalyzer with police-grade accuracy so that you never have to wonder if you’ve had too much. The adjoining app helps track a user’s long-term alcohol trends and consumption throughout an evening and offers nearby restaurants or taxis to help sober up and get home safely.

Jayneoni Presents the Boom Boom Room’s Pre-Golden Globe Luxury Baby and Parenting Products Gifting Lounge at the Loews Hotel Hollywood:

Brilliant Baby Products had a slew of items including toys by German toy maker HABA (stacking cubes, magnetic puzzles), mini backpacks by Lassig and rolls of removable tape by Inroad Toys printed to look like roads or railway tracks for kids who love playing with toy trains and cars. There were also Melody Mates, light-up cushions with built-in plush toys and detachable blankets that play lullabies to help youngsters fall asleep.

Author Ylleya Fields was handing out copies of her award-winning Princess Cupcake Jones children’s book series featuring too-rarely-seen African-American characters. Meanwhile, Adri Sara gifted scarves and canvas bags inspired by author Miroslav Sasek’s This Is… book series.

There was suede and leather baby moccasins by Freshly Picked and many unique clothing and accessories for babies, toddlers and moms by cool brands such as Wee Structed, Enjoy Essential and Loved by Hannah and Eli.

Posh Pak gave out samples of their subscription-based monthly gift boxes for young girls in three different age categories. Creator Shayna Hansen-Niksch partners with brands like Kate Spade and to curate age-appropriate items such as lip gloss, hair accessories and school supplies for tween girls.

The event benefited Los Angeles Foster Care Children.


Actress/singer Christian Millian picks up a “Prenatal Dance with Menina” DVD at the Boom Boom Room.

January 19, 2015

How This Hoax About Space Fooled Over One Million Facebook Users

levitation floating drifting jumpWikimedia Commons

If you’ve been paying attention on Facebook recently, you might have noticed a friend or two sharing a story about a phenomenon that would supposedly be happening in early January of 2015.

“Strange natural occurrences are happening in the world today. But nothing more magnificent than the one you will experience on January 4, 2015,” Daily Buzz Live’s story reads. “According to British astronomer Patrick Moore, at exactly 9:47 PST AM on January 4th, Pluto will pass directly behind Jupiter, in relation to Earth.”

The story, from Daily Buzz Live, stated that there would be a once-in-a-lifetime planetary alignment where Pluto would pass directly behind Jupiter, which would counteract Earth’s gravity for a short period of time, rendering everyone on the planet briefly weightless.

Sounds cool right? Sounds maybe a bit unbelievable?

If you saw this story and were skeptical, you had every right to be: it’s just not true.

The Daily Dot did a really great job at debunking this hoax that was shared over one million times on Facebook.

If planetary alignments ever caused worldwide weightlessness, they would likely have heard about it more than a few weeks before the next one. They would likely have read about in their high-school science textbooks,” Aaron Sankin of The Daily Dot writes.

The Daily Dot continues,

Anyone who did a simple Google search for the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect would have found its Wikipedia page and learned from its first sentence that this particular scam has been repeated ad nauseam for four decades.


The story is fake, and Daily Buzz Live often posts fake stories, much like The Onion. But the difference is that The Onion is 100% satirical, while Daily Buzz Live publishes real stories alongside its fake stories. 

On Daily Buzz Live, meanwhile, the real and the unreal are intermingled, with no labels separating them. The planetary alignment story sits next to stories about factual events like “8 Photos Of Shocking Police Brutality On Peaceful Protesters and Civilians” and “Horrific Racist Song About Michael Brown At Charity Event ‘And He’s Dead, Dead, Michael Brown’“” The Daily Dot reports. “These are pieces that wouldn’t be out of place on real viral news sites.”

Meanwhile back on Facebook, the story is getting hundreds of thousands of shares, complete with this photo of what looks like a tweet from NASA.

Daily Buzz LiveDaily Buzz Live

The tweet, like the story, is fake and was created on a site called, says The Daily Dot. 

So what happens to a publication when its satirical story, in an attempt to be passed off as real, ends up going massively viral on the world’s largest social network?

The answer is, absolutely nothing. But before you share a story that seems too good, or too bizarre to be true, it’s best to make sure that it actually is.