Skip to content

Matthew Slotkin • Author at Mirror Daily

Virgin America is the first company to add faster Wi-Fi connection to its air planes.

Spokespersons have disclosed on early Wednesday morning that Virgin America will add faster Wi-Fi connection to airplanes next year. The company has promised users to deliver such a fast Wi-Fi connection that will enable them to watch Netflix during flights.

Wi-Fi connection is no longer an impossible goal, at least for American airplanes, which have long added this service on their air planes. However, the connection is rarely good enough to enable users to actually surf the Internet; therefore, American companies are making efforts to improve their offer.

Virgin America is the first company to offer incredibly fast Wi-Fi connection due to a recent deal that they have signed with ViaSat. The deal presupposes that air planes will be endowed with a much faster Wi-Fi connection thanks to the two new satellites.

Passengers will be able to connect wirelessly even when flying 30,000 feet above and this is possible thanks to the Ka and Ku satellites. The Ka satellite has already been featured in many American homes, ensuring a connectivity that is 30 times faster. Thanks to this new satellite the in-flight Wi-Fi connection will become ten times faster than it currently is.

The Ku satellite has been purposefully designed for flights. It connects mobile devices while the air plane crosses the Pacific Ocean. The switch between the two satellites is made with the help of a special antenna that opts between the two systems, depending on flight conditions.

The new Wi-Fi connection will not be available in the immediate period. Virgin America has announced that they will add the Ka satellite starting this September, whereas the Ku satellite will be inserted during the first months of the following year.

Airplanes featuring the new Wi-Fi connectivity will be tested at the beginning of 2016, when the company organizes flights towards Hawaii. The company has further disclosed that only 10 planes will benefit of the new technology at first. The service will be expanded if the feedback turns out positive.

Customers will not be able to surf the Internet for free. Virgin America will inform customers of the prices that they will have to pay in exchange of the wireless connection, once the trial period is over.

Image source:

Access to the New England Aquarium show is free.

Based on a recent press release issued by the administration, NASA astronauts will host a show at the New England Aquarium. The event is meant to introduce the lay public to some of the missions and experiments that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is carrying out for the unravelling of the mysteries of space.

NASA is aware that their missions have to be promoted in order to get the public’s support; therefore the Administration will host an event at the New England Aquarium this Thursday. The show will see the presentation of some of the most renowned astronauts of NASA, who will test their space gear during live performances.

The show will open with Sunita Williams’ presentation, the female astronaut who has become popular due to her record of space walks. She will first dive into the Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium to briefly showcase the tests that experts at NASA conduct underwater.

Sunita’s moment will be followed by Sue Curley’ comparison of general diving suits and space gear. She will begin the live presentation at 2 p.m. with the sole intent of emphasizing possible similarities and differences between the two systems.

The event aims to show people that most missions conducted on the International Space Station rely on underwater experiments. NASA astronauts have particularly chosen this place because the underwater world bears many similarities with space.

Scientists are currently interested in diminishing communication delays, which is why they are testing various technologies for the ISS. They are paying particular attention to virtual reality as these systems are said to render communication between ground operators and astronomers a lot faster.

The educational campaign that NASA is now making, was designed mainly for the younger categories of the society as they could be the first to live on Mars or other space planets.

For that matter, the administration is also organizing a mobile exhibition outside the Aquarium where visitors will be able to travel both in time and space. The exhibition will showcase some of the most important missions that NASA has conducted since the founding of the ISS.

Access to this Thursday’s show will be made between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Visitors won’t have to pay any tickets to get inside the presentation.

Image source:

Google’s self-driving vehicle prototype, unleashed on the road.

In a stranger-than-fiction near future, be prepared for cars to drive you, rather than the other way around. A new study shows that self-driving taxis will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering amount, offering not only good news in terms of climate change, but being cheaper as well, in the long run.

By 2030, we should already be used to seeing electronic, self-driving cars on the road. But what about taxis? What if instead of paying a man in an old gasoline fueled car to drive us somewhere, we would just hop into one of Google’s small, two-seater self-driving car and let it take us where we want?

The study, which has been published in Nature Climate Change, holds that a self-driving taxi could emit close to 94 percent less greenhouse gases per mile than the old, conventional, soon-to-be-outdated ones.

The bigger chunk of these savings would come from the fact that the vehicle would be the perfect size for a taxi. That is – small, two-seat cars, so as to satisfy clients. As most of them only want to take the cab alone – says Jeffery Greenblatt, one of the authors of the study. It’s a no brainer that smaller cars mean smaller energy consumption, and therefore fewer greenhouse gases.

Yet, studies of the automobile market show that consumers are not yet keen enough on buying these self-driven wonders too soon, let alone leaving them out on the streets alone. In California, where Google intends to roll out a test consisting of 100 prototypes, the law states that a car should have at least one human aboard.

Now you see, this is the real problem. Uber spokesmen, as well as people from Google, and Toyota are saying that there is yet to be a legal basis for self-driven cars. Uncertainty seems to be the key word here, as state rules are at best ambiguous.

Still it is the intention of Google and Uber to work around these problems, and establish long-term programs for sustainability, bringing the future closer, and inspiring people to share a cab with others. Other studies show that by sharing taxis, the cars would spend up to 32 percent less time on the road. Just imagine what wonders that could do for lowering emissions.

Yet, as Greenblatt concludes in the study, predicting what people’s reactions would be to self-driving cars released on a global scale is a “wild card” on the worldwide car game.

Image source:

Microsoft’s Bing mapping system uses card formats to quickly display information.

Microsoft has recently decided to give some of its mapping systems to Uber, but the developing company is still keen on delivering high-quality services. Here are some of the pros and cons of Microsoft’s Bing maps, which we were able to spot from the recent mapping preview that Microsoft offered.

Bing Mapping has a strong competitor out there, namely Google Maps. Yet, the developing company is still willing to enter the competition promising unique features. According to the preview that Microsoft offered for its mapping tool, Bing’s Maps service has been revamped to offer better services.

Unlike Google Maps, which puts the emphasis on routes and trajectories, Bing is keener on delivering users the information they need to carefully plan their trips. Bing has been, for this purpose, provided with the “Along the Route” tool, which allows drivers to upload data about possible gas stations, restaurants and shops they meet on their way.

Moreover, the mapping program displays the information using card formats. Thanks to this feature it is easier to skim through routes and to select various destinations. The points of interest are displayed on the same page, which renders the whole operation a lot easier.

Microsoft’s Bing mapping system is much more than a route planner, it is a drivers’ consultant. The program memorizes the routes and travelling hours, so it can later on, advise users when to start their journey.

The update is meant to offer support to touchscreen-based devices. Unfortunately, the program will be first made available on PCs, a decision which triggered much discontent among customers, who, most of the times, rely on their smartphones to access online data.

Customers, who may use Bing’s mapping system to get additional data related to working hours and conditions, may be somewhat disappointed as the program does not display these pieces of information.

While on the road of becoming a modernized mapping program, Bing has still many more changes to make. Its StreetSide project has been labeled as a mere copy of Google’s Street View mode. The only noticeable difference, however, is the fact that Bing splits the screen to display the street-side view on top and the map at the bottom of the page.

Even so, the user-friendly interface of the program and the customer-oriented support render the mapping system more accessible than Google’s Maps. The latter puts the emphasis on strict route planning, whereas Bing focuses on the data users might need to carry out their journeys.

Image source:

The reptile was particularly active during day time and spent great part of its time in trees.

A new ‘Jesus Lizard’ fossil was found in Wyoming enabling scientists to better study the habits of the Babibasiliscus alxi species of reptiles. Based on the research that paleontologists have made, the lizard was very active during the day time and spent great part of its time in trees.

After various works, scientists managed to unearth a fossil belonging to the so-called ‘Jesus Lizard’ species. The reptile was, thus, nicknamed because its body shape clearly indicates that the reptile could walk on water.

The relic was found within the Bridger Formation region, in Wyoming, an area where scientists have found many lizard fossils in the past, as well. The first studies indicate that the ‘Jesus Lizard’ lived in this area approximately 48 million years ago.

Judging from its body structure, the reptile could freely climb trees, so researchers believe this was the favorite place of these exemplars as they could protect themselves against attackers. Being just 2ft long the lizard could not protect itself against predators and it was, therefore, forced to adapt its lifestyle to new surviving conditions.

The newly found fossil indicates that the representatives of the Babibasiliscus alxi species appeared to be violent due to the crease on their forehead. However, this physical trait also enabled the lizards to protect themselves against the sunlight.

The Wyoming relic has been so well-preserved that paleontologists have even managed to study its mouth structure. They have, thus, found that these reptiles had very small teeth that they used to devour various insects, plants, fish and even snakes.

In spite of its small size, the ‘Jesus Lizard’ could very well eat larger preys, due to its big cheekbone structure.

This group has later on given birth to the modern species of reptiles we know today, including iguanas and chameleons.

Scientists have concluded the study that was published on the journal Plos One by saying that the fossil will be exposed at the American Museum of Natural History together with the discoveries that have been made.

The leader of the research group, Jack Conrad, stated that the ‘Jesus Lizard’ relic has enabled them to better understand this species of reptiles and to draw further conclusions on the behavior of more modern exemplars.

Image source:

The Prandtl-m project will enable scientists to better study the surface of the Red Planet.

A recent press release informs that NASA scientists will send the first airplane on Mars by the year 2024. The project is called the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars (Prandtl-m) and it will be developed with the help of college students.

Among the many experiments that NASA scientists are now developing is also the Prandtl-m project which presupposes the flight of the first airplane into space. The small drone will be sent on Mars to better study the surface of the Red Planet.

According to the first descriptions that scientists have provided, the airplane will be made out of light materials, such as, fiber glass and carbon fiber. These materials have been selected because the drone has to be carried by a satellite on Mars.

The project stemming out of the brainstorm session of various college students will weigh only 1.2kg and will be just 61 cm large. Developers plan to make the wings foldable in the future, so that it can fit on the CubeSat mini satellite.

Scientists have further stated that the airplane will be transported to Mars by a rover, where it will gently glide on the surface of the Red Planet. As the drone will descend into Mars’ atmosphere, researchers will use every opportunity to take as many close-up pictures as possible to the celestial body.

The images that the drone can take have a very good quality. The Prandtl-m airplane will feature high-definition cameras, so ground operators can extract as much information as possible from these images. Astronomers hope the 2024 mission will enable them to further map Mars’ surface, even across those areas that have remained unstudied by the rover, so far.

As a matter of fact, the drone can investigate the Mars regions that the Curiosity rover was not able to cross because the land was too marsh. However, the airplane can only fly for 10 minutes, so scientists will have to carefully study its trajectory so Prandtl-m would not get stuck either.

The main goal of the current mission that NASA is developing is basically the same: new technological means are constantly deployed for the thorough analysis of the Red Planet. NASA will use all this data to prepare the first landing of the man on Mars in the year 2030.

Image source:

London Heathrow airport – Europe’s busiest and most important hub to trans-Atlantic flights – has recently won funding from a government-appointed committee for a third runway, in hopes that the issue of runway capacity shortage will be alleviated.

Independent Airports Commission is the one to win the bid for the expansion in a race against rival contender Gatwick Airport and its owner Global Infrastructure Partners. However, more than $20 billion will be invested in the building of the new runway at Heathrow.

After efforts to come up with a plan for the runway capacity shortage occurring in the London area have failed, the current panel was called into action, back in November 2012. Its job was to make sure that a third-party group would propose a viable plan.

Given that the U.K. has been going through elections, the commission kept the verdict on the low-key until after the finalization of general elections. Back in the 2010 elections, the Conservative Party – with Prime Minister David Cameron at helm – led a harsh campaign against Heathrow expansion, but that changed while the party was in office.

According to U.K. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the government should not refuse what he called “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to answer a vital question.” He is scheduled to present upcoming plans in parliament on Wednesday.

Doing nothing about the Heathrow issue is not an option – it could deprive the wider economy of more than £45 billion ($70 billion), according to the panel. Adding a new runway, however, would not only create opportunities for connections to new travel destinations, but it would also add 70,000 jobs by 2050.

Before approving the current Heathrow third-runway proposal, the commission had rejected prepositions of building a brand-new airport and a nontraditional alternative of upgrading an existing runway by extending it and using it as two independent airstrips.

Making the Heathrow hub even larger has raised plenty of local concerns from environmentalists who worry about increasing pollution and noise. However, the commission has proved to hear and listen to their concerns by completely ruling out any possibility of a fourth runway, alongside the fact that no night flights will fly from 11:30 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Even though the commission has declined the alternate Heathrow runway plan, it was considered for a while to be a feasible solution. However, growth options and economic benefits would have been limited, as the additional capacity would have focused on intra-European routes rather than trans-Atlantic ones.
Image Source:

Israel was not very pleased following Vatican’s announcement last month on reaching an agreement on the treaty with the “State of Palestine.”

The final agreement was signed this Friday between Vatican and the “State of Palestine,” as the Vatican released a statement expressing hope that its legal recognition of the state would be an incentive that will spark peace with Israel. At the same time, the treaty is a good model for other Mideast countries that need to bury the hatchet and start collaborating.

A private ceremony inside the Vatican marked this historical signing of the treaty, where the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki and his Vatican counterpart, Paul Gallagher, each represented their own countries.

Ever since Vatican’s announcement in May on the agreement with the State of Palestine regarding the Catholic Church regulations that will apply in Palestinian territories, the Israel was not shy to express disappointment.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry repeated its disapproval of the agreement on Friday, claiming that such a treaty will present a serious setback for peace prospects and would offer Palestinians an excuse to avoid direct negotiations.

He also said Israel is taking upon itself to study the agreement and measure the impact it will have on the future collaboration between the Vatican and Israel. Gallagher, however, is positive in his hope that this treaty will offer both part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a stimulus for peace, stopping the long-standing suffering that goes on in both territories.

Ever since 2012, when the U.N. General Assembly decided to recognize the Palestinian state, the Vatican has been a solid supporter, continuing to refer to the state on its official name during statements and announcements. This treaty, however, is the first legal recognition that the Vatican has officiated regarding the Palestinian territory as a state.

An “historic agreement,” that how Mr. Al-Malki called the signing on Friday, saying that it helps immensely with the recognition the Palestinian people need in order to earn their dignity and freedom in an independent state of their own.

Two of the strongest opponents of the recognition of the Palestinian state are Israel, evidently, and the United States, which is currently doing its own peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israeli populations.

Most of the Western Europe is also reluctant in recognizing the state, but there are signs of countries ready to change their position if current peace efforts remain stagnant. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the treaty ignores “the historic rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and to the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem.”
Image Source: Daily Sabah

Both Google and Facebook are in a tight competition to see who will conquer the limits of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and so far, they are both offering some trippy results, at least for the short-term.

Empowering artificial intelligence by gifting it with the capacity of learning on its own sounds scary and worrying, especially when considering the consequences over the years; for now, however, it means that we can enjoy and be slightly disturbed by what it can do.

Google has created its own neural network for their computer, which is basically an artificial brain that has – in theory – the same capacities that a human brain does. Designers weren’t looking for a way to create robots that can clean your house or perform laborious work; instead, they went on and tested the concept of dreaming and what it means for an artificial intelligence.

Facebook didn’t lag behind either, also creating a neural network, and results were extraordinary for both tech giants. It might sound weird that computers could “dream” while “sleeping,” but that’s exactly what researchers tested.

In Facebook’s case, the neural network generated images that made sense in 40 percent of the tests. What happened was that both companies had provided the programs with specific information, such as animals, objects and buildings, which became the database for their training.

The end result was to create computer-generated art – but the actual results took the researchers by surprise, as it was like nothing they’ve seen before: impressive, complex and vivid images that surpassed the separate bits of information that was input initially.

Google took it to the next level by having the computer act as if it was hallucinating and the produced images looked like the neural network was high on LSD. The masterminds behind the project, Christopher Olah, Alexander Mordvintsev and Mike Tyka, were both surprised and proud of what they created.

They released a statement explaining how the program worked; the neural network was taught how to enhance recognizable features, so if a cloud vaguely resembled a cloud, it would enhance it until it actually depicted a bird that had apparently appeared from nowhere.

Facebook’s endeavors went to the opposite direction, by attempting to created realistic images of actual objects. In around 40 percent of the experiments, their model of neural network managed to fool a human into thinking that the image they are looking at is a real object whose picture was taken.

It might not sound like much, but researchers were pleased, seeing that the results showed a computer’s ability to think, design, and draw these images – all on its own, with no human input. Both companies are proving that the industry of virtual reality and artificial intelligence is advancing, whether we like it or not.
Image Source: Pichost

The new legal smoking age in Hawaii was officially changed on Friday, making it the first state to raise it to 21. However, the law will take effect only starting January 1, 2016, when electronic cigarettes will also be banned from being sold, purchased or used by individuals under the age of 21.

Hawaii’s Governor David Ige has released a statement explaining that this measure is part of the ongoing efforts of controlling tobacco use and sales; raising the minimum age is designed to reduce smoking among the younger population and increase their chances of growing up to be free from tobacco addictions.

According to the governor’s office, Ige signed another bill on Friday, instating a general ban on smoking and e-cigarette use at beaches and state parks, following the interdiction of smoking in any city and county parks, with the exception of Kaua’i County.

The great majority of U.S. states have set the legal smoking age at 18, with only a handful raising it higher at 19. However, a new trend seems to be taking place, as cities and counties, such as Hawaii County and New York City, have already decided on 21 to be the minimum smoking age.

Both Washington and California states are pressing on to have their legal smoking age raised to 21, but lawmakers are still in the process of getting their bills approved. Opponents of the law argue it creates an inconsistency, as people of younger ages are considered adults in different situations, such as joining the military.

Statistics from the governor’s office show that approximately nine out of 10 smokers in Hawaii reported to have started smoking way before the age of 21. Many others said that their first cigarette was offered to them by a friend of a relative of legal age.

Only in Hawaii, more than 1,400 people are killed by tobacco use, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. At the same time, medical bills related to tobacco use raise to $526 million annually.

On a nationwide level, cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable death, taking a death toll of more than 480,000 individuals annually. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports show that one of every 5 deaths in the U.S. is caused by smoking.

Researchers support raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 or 25 years old, as it was found to significantly reduce the cases of tobacco-related illnesses. The general public also seems supportive of the idea of raising the legal age to 21.
Image Source: Indian Express

Subscribe to our Magazine, and enjoy exclusive benefits

Subscribe to the online magazine and enjoy exclusive benefits and premiums.

[wpforms id=”133″]