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Deciphering Milky Way’s warped spiral pattern

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BEIJING: A new study by Chinese and Australian astronomers has developed the world’s first accurate three-dimensional picture of the Milky Way’s warped appearance, showing that the galaxy’s disc is not flat but warped and twisted far away from the center.

The study was published online in the journal Nature Astronomy today.  Many people believed the galaxy would look like a flat disc of stars that orbit around its central region, but researchers of the study found that the galaxy’s far outer regions are warped and twisted, forming a three-dimensional structure.

Chen Xiaodian, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that accurate distances from the Sun to parts of the Milky Way’s outer disc were key to knowing what that disc actually looked like. Researchers established a robust Galactic disc model based on 1,339 variable stars which are four to 20 times larger than the Sun, and up to 100,000 times more luminous.

These stars providing high distance accuracy were used as primary distance indicators to develop an intuitive and accurate three-dimensional picture of the galaxy. From the 3D distribution map, researchers found that the new derived stellar disc is warped in a progressively twisted spiral pattern, with an S-shape. The further study validated that the stellar warp morphology is in excellent agreement with that of the galaxy’s warp.

“This new finding may help us to know the shape of the Milky Way, and provide a key clue to understanding how galaxies such as the Milky Way form and evolve,” said Deng Licai, co-author of the study.

 

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Aussie court rules media companies liable for Facebook comments

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SYDNEY: Media companies are responsible for defamatory comments made on their Facebook pages, an Australian court said in a landmark ruling Monday.

The New South Wales Supreme Court ruled that three media companies were responsible for user comments on a story about an indigenous youth detainee, Dylan Voller, in 2016 and 2017.

Voller claimed that publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and Sky News were responsible for comments on their public Facebook pages — alleging he was a rapist and that he attacked a Salvation Army officer leaving the man blind in one eye.

His lawyers said the comments were defamatory.

Voller had been held in a youth detention in the Northern Territories, and videos of him being mistreated by staff prompted a Royal Commission inquiry in 2016.

Lawyers for the media companies argued they could not be expected to filter the hundreds and thousands of comments posted on their Facebook pages day and night.

But, acknowledging the ruling related to an “emerging area” of law, the court found that the media companies could have screened or blocked defamatory comments.

The court considered cases from New Zealand to Hong Kong, and ultimately determined companies should pay costs and potential damages, but left the door open for appeal.

It did not rule on whether the comments themselves were defamatory.

The case raises questions about laws governing Facebook and other social media sites, notably, whether Australia’s already stringent defamation laws — which strongly favour those claiming defamation — have become even tougher.

“It could have far-reaching implications for media organisations using Facebook as a platform,” said lawyers at Addisons in a legal briefing paper.

If the final ruling goes against media companies, they “will need to monitor and remove any defamatory comments on their posts”.

The chief political correspondent at Nine — a television channel which now owns the Sydney Morning Herald — expressed unease at the “appalling trajectory of defamation law in Australia”, which he said represented a “real and present danger to journalism”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Governments must regulate social networks: Facebook’s Clegg

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LONDON: Governments must regulate social networks and not the companies themselves, Facebook’s head of global affairs and a former deputy prime minister of the UK said in an interview Monday.

“It’s not for private companies, however big or small, to come up with those rules. It is for democratic politicians in the democratic world to do so,” Clegg said.

Clegg, the former leader of UK political party the Liberal Democrats, said there was a “pressing need” for new “rules of the road” on issues including data privacy and election rules.

At the same time, companies such as Facebook should play a “mature role” in advocating regulation, he said.

Britain has said it will make social media bosses personally liable for harmful content and shut down offending platforms under a “world-leading” government plan.

Coming in for heavy criticism over the past year, Facebook has instituted changes, particularly on privacy and the transparency of political campaign ads.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has called for “globally harmonised” online regulation.

Sceptics say Facebook is seeking to buy time amid calls for tougher regulation in the United States and elsewhere — with some calls to break up major tech firms and other activists questioning whether they should maintain immunity from liability for content posted by users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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US blocks more Chinese tech firms on national security concerns

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US blocks more Chinese tech firms on national security concerns

WASHINGTON: The US Commerce Department blacklisted five Chinese tech entities Friday in a new move against Beijing’s supercomputing industry likely to raise tensions ahead of a meeting between President Trump and Xi Jinping next week.

The notice targets Sugon — a prominent Chinese supercomputer manufacturer — along with three of its microchip subsidiaries and a computing institute owned by the People’s Liberation Army.

All of the entities will be effectively barred from obtaining US technology after the government determined they were “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Trade tensions between the world’s top two economies have spilled over into the tech sector in recent months, with Trump’s administration moving to essentially ban Chinese tech firm Huawei from the huge US market on security grounds.

In May, it added Huawei to an “entity list” of companies barred from receiving US-made components without permission from Washington, though the company was granted a 90-day reprieve.

Facebook and Google have since both announced they will move to cut off Huawei in order to comply with the US sanctions, further isolating the Chinese tech giant.

Beijing has responded with threats to release its own blacklist of “unreliable” foreign companies and individuals that appears aimed at pressuring foreign companies to maintain commercial relations with Huawei.

Earlier this month, Beijing summoned executives from American firms Dell and Microsoft and South Korea’s Samsung, among others, to warn them that any moves to ramp down their businesses in China may lead to retaliation, The New York Times reported.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi are set to meet next week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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