Is time moving forward or backward? Computers learn to spot the difference

first_imgPlay the video above, and it won’t take you long to notice there’s something off about it. Rather than drifting down toward the forest below, the snow is falling …up? Then it hits you: The video is running backward. Now, a computer watching the movie could arrive at that same realization. For the first time, scientists have taught computers to figure out the direction of time in videos, a result that could help researchers better understand our own perception of time.Computer vision—a field focused on how computers could learn to detect objects, motion, or even human emotions and intentions in photographs and video—has long fascinated computer scientists, with applications ranging from more realistic-looking video games to video surveillance and intelligence. At the same time, computer vision has attracted the interest of psychologists, who hope to use it to study how people turn raw visual data into an understanding of the world around them.The latter question led Lyndsey Pickup, now a human and computer vision researcher at Mirada Medical in Oxford, U.K., to wonder how we tell the difference between time running forward and backward in movies. After all, we only ever observe time running forward in the real world—a concept called time’s arrow. How do we pick up on it when a movie has put time arrow’s in reverse? And might she be able to teach computers to make the same observation?Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To find out, she and her collaborators broke down 180 YouTube videos into square patches of a few hundred pixels, which they further divided into four-by-four grids. Combining standard techniques for discovering objects in still photographs with motion detection algorithms, the researchers identified 4000 typical patterns of motion, or “flow words,” across a grid’s 16 cells. The gentle downward drifting of snowflakes, for example, would be one flow word. From those patterns, the team created flow word descriptions of each video along with three other versions—a time-reversed version, a mirror-image version, and a mirror-image and time-reversed version. Then, they made a computer program watch 120 of these clips, training it to identify which flow words best revealed whether a video ran forward or backward.When they tested their program on the remaining 60 videos, the trained computers could correctly determine whether a video ran forward or backward 80% of the time, the team reported this week at the IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Columbus, Ohio. A closer analysis found that flow words associated with divergence (water splashing outward as someone dives into a pool) or dissipation (a steam train’s exhaust spreading out in air) were especially good indicators of the direction in which time was moving.In principle, the work could provide clues about how humans, as well as computers, perceive time passing, Pickup says, and reverse-time videos could play a role akin to the optical illusions and reverse-color photographs psychologists have used to study visual perception in the past. Seeing time running backward is “really captivating,” and continuing the research might help her team figure out why, she says.Shai Avidan, an associate professor of engineering at Tel Aviv University in Israel who wasn’t involved with the work, says that the team is the first to ask, “Can we analyze and understand” what attributes distinguish backward from forward video? It’s an intriguing if largely academic question. Still, practical applications may be possible. Avidan compares the flow words approach to earlier work on identifying different kinds of texture in still images. Though studying image textures was considered “superficial” 15 years ago, he says, the tools developed to do so have since proved essential for engineers working on how to reduce noise in low-light digital photographs and other images. By identifying the subtle features that indicate time’s arrow and separating those from noise, flow words could play a similar role for improving otherwise fuzzy low-light video, Avidan ventures.Regardless of any possible applications, “we just thought it was a great problem,” says Pickup’s co-author and computer scientist William Freeman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Pickup agrees: Teaching computers to see the arrow of time combines computer science, physics, and human perception to get at the heart of the question, “How do we understand the visual world?”last_img read more

Govt Clarifies, Says Overseas Indian Investors Can Buy up to 5% in Any Security

first_imgOverseas investors of Indian origin are allowed to buy up to 5% in any security under current regulation, economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said on Tuesday, in a bid to calm markets after recent regulatory changes.Markets fell for the second straight day as fresh concerns emerged over a April circular issued by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) that said foreign investment rules for companies of Indian origin had been tightened.Read it at Live Mint Related Itemslast_img read more

Trump Taps 3 Indian-American Experts For Key Admin Posts

first_imgUS President Donald Trump has nominated three influential Indian-Americans including a woman nuclear expert to powerful administration positions.Rita Baranwal was nominated for the post of Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy), Aditya Bamzai for member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and Bimal Patel as the assistant secretary of Treasury. Read it at Economic TImes Related Itemslast_img

Pakistan team reaches home to hostile reception after flop World T20 campaign

first_imgThe Pakistan cricket team, sans captain Shahid Afridi, returned to a hostile reception in Lahore and Karachi after their disastrous World Twenty20 campaign which also included a loss to arch-foes India.The team returned home in batches in Lahore and Karachi last night. Afridi, on the other hand, has decided to stay back in Dubai for a few days.The flamboyant allrounder is expected to take a call on his future in the next few days after drawing massive criticism for his poor form in the tournament and the comment that he and his team get more love in India than Pakistan.A group of players including manager Intikhab Alam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Ahmed Shehzad and others had to face chants of “shame shame” when they landed at the Allama Iqbal international airport in Lahore.Taking a cue from the hostile reception the players faced in Lahore the security was than beefed up for those who reached the Quaid-e-Azam international airport in Karachi a few hours later.A heavy cordon of security personnel quickly took Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan, Anwar Khan and others from the terminal building to their waiting cars. But even than some people at the airport gave the players a piece of their mind.The hostile reception was expected after Pakistan’s dismal show in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and in the World T20 where they lost to India, New Zealand and Australia.last_img read more

Mahindra launches limited edition Scorpio; priced at Rs 13.07 lakh

first_imgMahindra & Mahindra has launched a new limited edition Scorpio called the ‘Scorpio Adventure’ at a base price of Rs 13.07 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai. The Indian car maker plans to make only a 1000 units of the car, which will be available as both, a 2WD and a 4WD.Also Read: Mahindra launches E2O in the UK; adds more standard featuresThe new limited edition Scorpio is based on top-end model(S10) of the new generation Scorpio and apart from the features present on that, it sports gun metal alloy wheels, red brake callipers, faux leather seats with blue fabric insert, faux leather-wrapped steering wheel & gear lever, ORVMs with side indicator, Rear view camera, and Mist Silver and White dual-tone exteriors with adventure-themed decals.Also Read: The Mahindra Mojo is a hoot to ride in the citySpeaking about the car, Mahindra & Mahindra’s Chief Marketing Officer (Automotive Division), Vivek Nayer said, “We are pleased to introduce the limited edition ‘Scorpio Adventure’. With its all-terrain capability, power-packed performance and iconic design, the Scorpio is a symbol of power, thrill and adventure for more than 5 lakh Scorpio owners and for the millions of fans that aspire to own a Scorpio one day. The limited edition Scorpio Adventure is in keeping with the lineage and DNA of the brand and I am sure that it will further strengthen the appeal of Scorpio as the perfect companion on long road trips and off-roading adventures.”Also Read:  Vitara Brezza vs NuvoSport vs Baleno vs CretaadvertisementIt is powered by the same mHawk engine present on the standard Scorpio, putting out 120 bhp through a manual transmission.last_img read more

Chris Gayle resumes training, set to stage comeback against Sunrisers Hyderabad

first_imgExplosive West Indian batsman Chris Gayle, who had taken a break from Indian Premier League duties to be alongside partner Natasha Berridge for the birth of their daughter Blush, returned to India and resumed training at Royal Challengers Bangalore’s home-ground today. (Chris Gayle dances up a storm with Virat Kohli )Gayle padded up and faced bowlers at the nets at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium soon after arriving back from the West Indies. The burly Jamaican had played the first two matches for RCB this season and managed only a solitary run. RCB are also in pretty bad shape, having lost three out of the five games they have played so far.Despite Virat Kohli’s red-hot streak, RCB find themselves languishing at seventh spot in the eight-team tournament. Kohli has led from the front and carried on his sensational T20 form into the IPL, smashing 367 runs so far, including his maiden T20 hundred.However, Gayle’s form at the top of the order, before his departure to the Caribbean would be a major concern for the Royal Challengers. The southpaw was dismissed for 1 against Surisers Hyderabad and then fell for a three-ball duck against Delhi Daredevils.RCB will rely on Gayle’s big-hitting prowess to boost their chances in this edition. Besides, Kohli, AB de Villiers has also shown his class while Shane Watson has been a valuable addition as an all-rouder.Young Sarfazaz Khan has stood out in a line-up of batting stars with two crisp cameous. But the weak bowling attack has demanded a lot more from the batsmen.advertisementIf Gayle finds form against the Sunrisers in Hyderabad on Saturday, RCB will once again be a force to reckon with.Gayle is back and the practice sessions are in full-swing! More pictures: #PlayBold Royal Challengers (@RCBTweets) April 28, 2016last_img read more

IPL also an ideal platform for making comeback, says Bhuvneshwar Kumar

first_imgBowling lethal outswingers is his forte but Bhuvneshwar Kumar can also easily conduct a crash course on how to secure last-minute visas. First Australia, then Bangladesh, the 26-year-old from Meerut has now got used to getting SOS calls from the Indian team management. The postscript, however, wasn’t that encouraging: one game in Australia, one in Asia Cup and watching entire World T20 tournament from the sidelines were the only additions made to his CV in the first three months of the year. That was before the start of 2016 IPL season. From April 12, the pendulum has quite literally ‘swung’ in favour of Bhuvneshwar. With 12 wickets from eight games, Bhuvneshwar is not only the top wicket-taker for the Sunrisers Hyderabad team but also a couple of scalps away from grabbing the Purple Cap.IPL as a big plus”IPL is that kind of a tournament where you cannot just return to form but also make a comeback in the Indian team. I was eagerly looking forward to this after spending time on the bench during the World T20. Team is doing well and I am happy with my individual performance too. Our main aim of winning the tournament still remains to be fulfilled,” the pacer tells India Today after an arduous gym session in his team hotel in Hyderabad.  The disappointment of not making it to the Indian playing XI was evident but Bhuvneshwar didn’t want to show it.Taking things positively “It was still a learning experience – before and after the series against South Africa, last year. I learnt a lot from that period. It is upon an individual how he takes it, you can either sit at home or work hard and make a comeback. I didn’t play in World T20 but I was with the team and it helped. I have to maintain that process of training, staying fit so that whenever the opportunity arises, I am ready to play,” he says. Constantly bowling in late-130s, early-140s with odd ball going even faster, swing-bowler Bhuvneshwar is happy to add pace to his weaponry.advertisementOn pace and swing “Yes, I wanted to bowl fast and increase my speed. But, at the same time, I didn’t want my swing to get disturbed. I am really happy with it. My speed increased with a lot of training and, as far as swing is concerned, I have always focused on it. The new Team India trainer has also helped me a lot, we trained in a new way and it helped me a lot in gaining more pace.” He saw him during the Asia Cup in Dhaka but now bowling alongside Mustafizur Rehman, who’s got 10 wickets from eight matches, has been a totally different experience for India pacer.   “I am not really competing with Mustafizur to get more wickets. But, it is always good to have a go with a different kind of a bowler. It feels good how he is troubling a batsman and getting wickets. His slower ones and cutters are completely different,” says Bhuvneshwar.Warner’s role  The turnaround could not have happened without Sunrisers’ skipper David Warner giving him a free run, be it in powerplay or death overs. “Warner has been really good as a skipper, he listens to us and do whatever we suggest. I would say he is a bowler’s captain. Our bowling unit has also justified his faith.”last_img read more

Akkulam Tourism village to get makeover

first_imgThiruvananthapuram, June 13(PTI) Akkulam Tourism Village, the prominent tourist centre in the district, is set to get a new lease of life.State Minister for Tourism, Devaswom and Co-operation, Kadakampally Surendran inaugurated the work for the second phase of the Tourism Village, at an outlay of Rs Five crore, here today.The second phase aims to turn the Village into an activity centre with facilities for visitors to spend an entire day.”The coming days would see this centre rising like a Phoenix from total destruction, and the project would be completed in 18 months,” the Minister said.He opined that there have been more efforts to close down the centre than to revive it in the past few years.”The government is planning to form a tourism policy that would better the lives of local residents,” he said.The second phase will see the village sporting a modern music fountain, artificial waterfall, amphi theatre, art installation, cycling track, ropeway, restaurant, parking area, and yoga and meditation centre.An adventure tourism project, landscape beautification, and a cricket pitch are also part of the project.The 2.5 acre plot on the hilltop will be developed as a View Point, keeping its wildness intact.The pond and its premises will be renovated, and small boats will be provided for visitors. PTI JRK ROH MAVlast_img read more

Roberto Martínez goes back to tactics board after Belgium’s great escape

first_imgfeatures Six World Cup breakaway goals to rival Belgium’s against Japan Topics Share on Pinterest Reuse this content Share on Messenger Roberto Martínez World Cup Read more Martínez, perhaps trying to relieve some of the pressure on himself as much as the players, made the Brazil game sound like something of a free hit for Belgium. “When you play against Brazil, you need to understand they are the best team in the competition, I think you have to accept that,” he said. He went onto question how many people would expect Belgium to go through to the semi-finals and, referencing the dreams that every young football-mad boy has when growing up, said that his players “can enjoy it from the first minute” against Brazil. To give Martínez credit – something not everyone in Belgium seems keen to do – he made the changes that turned the game. Some will have wondered what the question could be for this golden generation of Belgium players if Marouane Fellaini and Chadli are the answer, but the final 25 minutes against Japan blew open the debate in that respect.Yet the key decision for Martínez is what to do now. With Neymar et al up next, should he scrap the three-man central defence that leaves Belgium so vulnerable on the flanks? Is it time for Fellaini, with his physical presence, to come into central midfield? Would Belgium not be more effective if De Bruyne was allowed to release the handbrake and play further forward? Does Carrasco drop to the bench now? Could Chadli be relied upon defensively? Belgium Read morecenter_img World Cup 2018 Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter World Cup Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email Share via Email Belgium, however, are not in Russia to enjoy the ride. Asked earlier in the tournament what would count as success, Thibaut Courtois replied: “Winning it, I think.” A glance through the starting lineup against Japan reveals that only two of the players – Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku – will still be in their 20s by the time the next World Cup comes around in Qatar. It is, in other words, now or never for this group of players.Martínez needs to get it right from the start against Brazil to keep their dream alive. Fellaini and Chadli as game-changers? This World Cup is absolute chaos Share on WhatsApp Roberto Martínez’s head must still have been spinning from a dramatic, wild finale to a game that finished with him stood on the pitch, in the Japan half, celebrating Nacer Chadli’s winning goal, yet everything was brought sharply into focus with the first question in the post-match press conference. “People will ask about the dangers of that system, with only three defenders, only two players in central midfield, so will you change that?” asked the reporter.Calmly and politely, Martínez made the point that now is “not a day to speak about systems”. Maybe that was fair enough in the circumstances. It was close to midnight in Rostov-on-Don and Belgium had just become the first team in 48 years – since West Germany beat England in 1970 – to win a World Cup knockout match after being two goals behind. There was something to celebrate about that, even if Japan had taken Belgium to hell and back. For Martínez, who radiates positivity, the critical analysis could wait and was certainly not going to take place in an auditorium full of journalists. Reporters’ notepads would instead be filled with a long list of buzzwords – “desire”, “focus”, “personality”, “togetherness” and “never-say-die-attitude” – as the Spaniard praised his players for the fortitude they showed to recover from being 2-0 down with 21 minutes remaining.The closest that Martínez came to any criticism of the Japan performance was when he reflected on an underwhelming opening 45 minutes and spoke about the players’ “fear of being able to fulfil the tag of being favourites of getting through to the next round”. The problems, in short, were mental rather than tactical. At least that was how Martínez wanted it to be seen.Yet privately, if not publicly, the tactics board will need to come out soon at Belgium’s Moscow training base, because it is hard to see how Martínez can set his team up in the same way when they face Brazil in Kazan on Friday. It was alarming, for example, to see just how much space opened up on the flanks, in particular on the Belgium left, where Yannick Carrasco, the wing-back, struggled and Jan Vertonghen, the central defender stationed on that side of the pitch, ended up being badly exposed for Japan’s opening goal. Belgium also lost control of central midfield, where Kevin De Bruyne’s influence on the game was severely restricted until that wonderful 60-yard dash in injury-time that led to Chadli converting.last_img read more

I-League: Churchill Brothers beat Chennai City FC to keep title race alive

first_img Next I-League: Churchill Brothers beat Chennai City FC to keep title race aliveI-League: Chennai City FC needed a victory against Churchill Brothers to seal the title but slumped to a 3-2 loss that let the title race stay alive.advertisement India Today Web Desk GoaMarch 1, 2019UPDATED: March 1, 2019 21:55 IST I-League: Willis Plaza brace and Christ Remi goal handed Churchill Brothers a 3-2 win over Chennai City FC. (AIFF Photo)HIGHLIGHTSChennai City FC scuffed their chance to grab the I-League title with one match to spareChurchill Brothers beat Chennai City 3-2, courtesy a brace from Willis Plaza and a goal from Christ RemiChennai City now must win their final league game to win the I-League titleChurchill Brothers FC Goa dampened Chennai City’s plan of securing their maiden I-League title on Friday as they registered a dramatic 3-2 win over the table toppers at the Tilak Maidan in Goa. The loss for Chennai means they must their last win their last league match to grab the title.Current I-League table toppers Chennai City drew the first blood in the 29th minute through Sandro R before Willis Plaza (38′) restored parity for the hosts. The Red Machines took the lead through Christ Remi (50′) but it was Pedro Manzi (69′) who made no mistake to convert from the penalty spot. Their efforts, however, went to waste as Willis Plaza completed his brace (71′) to help his team secure a victory.With this win, Churchill Brothers FC Goa moved to the third spot with 34 points while Chennai City FC continue to lead the table with 40 points, 4 points ahead of second-placed East Bengal.The equation is such that East Bengal will have to win their last two matches and hope for Chennai City FC to lose their final one for East Bengal to have a chance at the title.Churchill Brothers FC 3-2 Chennai City FCWillis Plaza 38’, 71’, Remi 50’ Sandro 29’, Pedro Manzi 69’ (P)#CBCCFC #HeroILeague #ILeagueIConquer #ChurchillBrothers #RedMachines #TilakMaidanStadium #Vasco Brothers FC Goa (@Churchill_Goa) March 1, 2019Chennai City FC started on a safe note on Friday despite being on the brink of the title. Unlike their normal attacking style, it seemed like they were trying to soak in the pressure as Churchill Brothers went pressing hard right from the start.advertisementWillis Plaza, Khalid Aucho and Nicholas Fernandes were combining well to breach the Chennai City FC defence time and again but somehow couldn’t find a way through. A foul by Wayne Vaz on Nestor Gordillo earned the visitors a free kick at the top of the box.Spanish midfielder Sandro’s free-kick, after a deflection from Plaza, gave Chennai the lead in the 29th minute. Churchill Brothers FC, thereafter, went attacking in regular intervals through the combination of Fernandes and Aucho to feed Plaza time and again.Their efforts soon yielded result when Plaza successfully tapped it in an inch-perfect cross by Fernandes in the 38th minute. The first half ended with the scoreboard locked at 1-1.The second half began with Chennai pressing hard for the lead but it was Churchill Brothers who turned around the game. Following a clever interception, Churchill took the lead soon through Christ Remi as they led the game for the first time.Owing to a handball by Vaz inside the penalty box, Chennai City FC were awarded a penalty when Manzi made no mistake to restore the parity for Chennai City in the 69th minute. Churchill, however, cut short their joy scoring the eventual winner within two minutes.Also Read | AIFF president Praful Patel in race for AFC’s FIFA council member electionAlso Read | East Bengal dash Real Kashmir’s title aspirations with 2-1 winFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Tags :Follow Willis PlazaFollow Churchill BrothersFollow Pedro ManziFollow Chennai City FCFollow I-League 2018-19last_img read more

IHC Merwede Launches Pipelaying Vessel SAPURA TOPÁZIO

first_img此页面无法正确加载 Google 地图。您是否拥有此网站?确定 Print  Close zoom IHC Merwede has successfully named and launched the pipelaying vessel SAPURA TOPÁZIO in a ceremony at the company’s shipyard in Krimpen aan den IJssel, The Netherlands. The naming of the fully integrated IHC Merwede vessel was carried out by Puan Sri Datin Seri Yazreen Yahya, spouse of Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Shahril Shamsuddin, President and Group CEO of SapuraKencana.The 550t pipelaying vessel – ordered by Sapura Navegação Marítima, a joint venture between SapuraKencana and Seadrill – is the second in a series of five fully integrated offshore vessels, which will be completely designed, engineered and built by IHC Merwede. After delivery, the SAPURA TOPÁZIO is – like her sister vessel, the SAPURA DIAMANTE – destined to go to Brazilian waters to develop deep-sea oilfields of up to 2,500 metres on behalf of Petrobras.The SAPURA TOPÁZIO will be equipped with a pipelaying spread designed by IHC Engineering Business. She comprises two below-deck storage carousels, with capacities for 2,500t and 1,500t of product respectively. A vertical (tiltable) lay system – with a 550t top tension capacity – will be permanently installed for the deployment of a range of flexible products. The tower orientation allows for maximum deck space, while utilising a high-capacity 610t abandonment and recovery (A&R) system. A custom-designed control system from IHC Drives & Automation integrates each aspect of the pipelaying spread to ensure excellent performance, safety and reliability.“Two years ago we signed a contract with Sapura Navegação Marítima for two pipelaying vessels,” says Arjan Klijnsoon, Managing Director of IHC Merwede’s Offshore division. “In August 2013, we signed another contract for a further three innovative vessels. With a total of five ships, Sapura Navegação Marítima has entrusted IHC Merwede with an impressive order and overall project. The construction and launch of the SAPURA TOPÁZIO is on schedule, which proves that we are a reliable partner for such complex vessels, particularly considering that all of the others are also on target.” My location IHC Merwede, February 20, 2014last_img read more

The dictum on desertification

first_imgThe United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) is Rio’s Stepchild, we said. Why? Because it was a neglected and frankly unwanted agreement, signed by the world at the Rio Conference in 1992. It was agreed because African and other developing countries wanted it. It was a sop — give them the crumbs of an agreement, which the rich world did not understand or believe in. In Rio, climate change was the top agenda. Next came the issue of biodiversity conservation — a resource largely surviving in the countries of the South, which need to be conserved and access secured. Then there was the issue of forests — a convention was proposed and staunchly opposed by the developing countries who said that it would infringe on their national resources. In all this acrimony, the desertification convention was born. Also Read – A special kind of bondToday, close to 30 years later; now when the world is beginning to see the deadly impacts of climate change; now when it is still losing the war against the extinction of species and is faced with the dire prospects of catastrophic changes, this forgotten, this neglected convention, must shed its stepchild image. It is the global agreement that will make or break our present and future. The fact is that management of our natural resources, particularly land and water — what this convention is concerned about — is at huge risk today; our own mismanagement is being exacerbated by weird weather events, which is making millions more vulnerable and more marginalised. Also Read – Insider threat managementBut there is another side as well. If we can improve our management of land and water, we can shave off the worst impacts of climate change. We can build wealth for the poorest and improve livelihoods. And, by doing this, we mitigate greenhouse gases (GHG) — growing trees that can sequester carbon dioxide; improving soil health that captures carbon dioxide, and most importantly, changing practices of agriculture and diets is reducing emissions of GHG. So, this convention needs to be moved from the stepchild to the parent. Why do I say this? Sample what is happening in terms of extreme rain events in vast parts of the world — developing and developed; rich and poor; urban and rural. In India, this monsoon, the rain has been a curse, not the boon that it always is. It has come down in torrents — regions have received 1,000-3,000 per cent excess rain; that is over the average of a day. It has meant that rain submerged vast lands; destroyed homes and livelihoods. But what is worse is that flood becomes a drought within no time. This is because the heavy rain cannot be captured; cannot be recharged; and so, there is drought at the time of the flood. Each of these now, not-so-natural calamities, takes away the development dividend that governments work so hard to secure. Houses and other personal belongings are washed away; roads and infrastructure destroyed and all then has to be rebuilt. It is also clear that flood or drought is not just about climate change or changing weather patterns. The fact is drought is about the mismanagement of water resources; where not enough rain is being recharged or water is used inefficiently and inequitably. Flood is about the sheer inability to plan for drainage; for our lack of concern to protect the forests on watersheds or the near-criminal act of building and destroying the flood plains. Then there is also the fact that global temperatures are increasing; intense heat events are being seen in many parts of the world. There is more heat and dust everywhere. In the South Asian subcontinent, temperatures have spiked to unimaginable levels. High temperature means less moisture on the ground; more dust and more desertification. It creates the conditions for a dust bowl — winds of over 130 kilometres per hour — over what is called storm winds of 90-100 km/hour sweep away and make a destructive force. In 2018, over 500 people died in northern Indian states from dust storms. Again, this is the double whammy – high temperatures are only adding to the already heat and water-stressed lands. Lack of green cover increases desertification conditions; over-withdrawal of groundwater; and, poor irrigation practices degrade land over time. Then there is the over-intensification of land, largely because of the way we are doing agriculture. A report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2019 rightly indicted the modern agricultural practices for being over-chemicalised and over-industrialised and so adding to GHG emissions. The report has also called for changes in diets, which will make us tread lightly on the earth. Our food and our climate change footprint are now connected. Therefore, this desertification convention, signed so unwillingly in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, is now relevant more than ever. There is also another critical change. At the Rio Summit, northern countries asked what this issue had to do with them. Desertification was not a global issue and so, why should there be an international agreement at all. In Rio, African nations, who argued for this convention, had drawn important linkages to how the price of their commodity was dropping, forcing them to discount their land and this, in turn, was adding to desertification and land degradation. Today, there should be no doubt that desertification is a global issue — it requires cooperation between nations. The fact is that we are only just beginning to see the impacts of climate change. These will become more deadly as temperatures continue to spiral and this spiral gets out of hand. It is also clear that today the poor in the world are the victims of this “human-made” disaster — local or global. The rich do not die in sandstorms. The rich do not lose their livelihoods when the next cyclonic system hits. But the fact is that this weird weather portends what awaits us. The change is not linear — it is not predictable. It will come as a shock and we will not be prepared for it — the rich in the developing world or the developed world. Climate change at the end will be an equaliser — it will impact all. It is also clear that one impact of this corrosive change — increasing numbers of disasters because of growing intensity and frequency of weird and abnormal weather will make poor, poorer. Their impoverishment and marginalisation will add to their desperation to move away from their lands and to seek alternative livelihoods. Their only choice will be to migrate — move to the city; move to another country. The double jeopardy, as I have called it, will add to the already-volatile situation of boat people and walls and migrant counting, which is making our world insecure and violent. This is the cycle of destructive change that we must fight. Desertification is then about our globalised world; inter-connected and inter-dependent. This is where the opportunity exists. This convention is not about desertification. It is about fighting desertification. The fact is that every way — in which we choose to fight desertification or land degradation or water scarcity — we will improve livelihoods and end up mitigating climate change. The land and water agenda is at the core of fighting climate change. It is at the core of building local economies to improve the wellbeing of people. To fight poverty. To win the war against human survival. This is what CCD is about. Now, let’s push for global leadership that can drive this change. (The author is Director General of Centre for Science and Environment and the Editor of Down To Earth magazine. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Survey Factory activity in New York state remains solid

first_imgWASHINGTON – Factory activity in New York was strong this month after reaching a three-year high in August.The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Friday that its Empire State manufacturing index dipped to 24.4 in September, a level that still points to a brisk pace of growth for factories. The August reading of 25.2 had been the highest since September 2014.New orders, shipments and hiring all increased this month. Manufacturers were also investing more in their plants and were confident that business would keep improving over the next six months.The index measures sentiment among firms in New York State. It is closely followed by economists because it provides an early read on factory output nationwide. Manufacturing has enjoyed a period of steady growth after slumping for parts of 2015 and 2016.Manufacturers have steadily hired this summer. They added 36,000 factory jobs in August, 26,000 in July and 21,000 in June.last_img read more

City fields closed until further notice

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has decided to close sports fields in local parks until further notice.The closing of the fields is due to the excessive rainfall that has hit the city since last night. Youth soccer, as well as minor baseball, will be cancelled because of this.The City’s Communications Coordinator Ryan Harvey explained that the fields will likely stay closed until they are safe to play on. The city will send out an update once they decide to reopen the fields.last_img read more

Italian central bank chief takes populists to task

MILAN — The head of Italy’s central bank has issued strong warnings against some of the populist government’s economic prescriptions.Ignazio Visco’s annual address in Rome on Friday coincides with a deadline from the EU Commission for Italy to explain why it is lagging in debt reduction.Visco said raising the public deficit, as sought by vice-premier Matteo Salvini, could prove counterproductive if public finances deteriorate and private sector spending contracts. He also called for economic stimulation programs, saying that the lagging economy in the south cannot only be addressed with monetary transfers, a reference to the 5-Star Movement’s basic salary program.Visco said “holding Europe responsible for our troubles is a mistake,” adding that “it diverts attention from the real issues.”The Associated Press read more

Security Council committee releases list of Liberian officials subject to travel ban

The Committee took the step in accordance with a 7 March resolution of the Security Council, which stipulated that all countries “shall take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of senior members of the Government of Liberia and its armed forces and their spouses.” The ban also covered any other individuals providing financial and military support to armed rebel groups in countries neighbouring Liberia, in particular the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.The Committee said the list would be updated regularly. read more

Security Council approves interim arrangements UN role in Iraq lifts sanctions

The United Nations Security Council today adopted a new resolution on Iraq granting wide interim governing powers to the United States and its coalition partners, including a role for a UN Special Representative working with this provisional authority, and lifting sanctions imposed almost 13 years ago following the invasion of Kuwait.The resolution, co-sponsored by the US, United Kingdom and Spain, also allows for full resumption of oil sales in order to restore economic activity for reconstruction, sets up a government infrastructure under the new US-controlled Authority, and calls on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a Special Representative.Its adoption, by 14 votes to 0, with Syria not participating, contrasted with the deep divisions among the 15-member body in the run-up to the US-led war against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Then, the same three co-sponsors decided not to submit to a vote a draft resolution effectively allowing the use of force in the face of a threatened veto, and possible failure even to muster the nine votes required for passage.Today’s resolution includes among the UN Special Representative’s duties “working intensively with the Authority, the people of Iraq, and others concerned to advance efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative governance, including by working together to facilitate a process leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq.”Mr. Annan is also to appoint a representative to an International Advisory and Monitoring Board which will audit a Development Fund for Iraq, a trust fund into which oil and other revenues will be paid, to be disbursed at the discretion of the provisional Authority for humanitarian and economic reconstruction and other costs.No specific time limit is imposed on the Authority and its concomitant arrangements other than that they will continue until an “internationally recognized, representative [Iraqi] government” has been established to succeed the Authority.Mr. Annan said earlier this week he would move “very quickly” to appoint the Special Representative as soon as the Council passed the resolution and that the envoy would take up the job as soon as was practicable.The text also allows for a Council review in 12 months time in answer to demands by some members that there should be a new vote after a year. The new clause does not call for a new vote but states: “[the Council] decides to review the implementation of this resolution within twelve months of adoption and to consider further steps that might be necessary.”On the issue of weapons inspections, the Council underlined its intention “to revisit the mandates of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”In addition, the resolution extends for another six months Mr. Annan’s authority to run the UN Oil-for-Food programme, under which Baghdad was allowed to use oil sales to buy the food and humanitarian supplies on which 60 per cent of Iraqis depended as their sole source of sustenance, before finally terminating it.The extension allows the Secretary-General to prioritize shipments for billions of dollars of already signed contracts in the humanitarian pipeline before handing all remaining activities of the programme to the provisional Authority.The Executive Director of the Oil-for-Food programme, Benon Sevan, welcomed the adoption of resolution 1483, saying that the lifting of sanctions represented long-awaited relief for the Iraqi people.“Iraq is blessed with natural and human resources, not the least of those being oil and a well-educated and extraordinarily resilient population and an extremely competent cadre of industrial managers and experts capable of driving the economy forward,” he said in a statement released late Thursday afternoon. “If peace and security prevail, their formidable capacity and ingenuity will be unshackled by today’s resolution.” Listen to UN Radio report read more

Sudan UN expands aid to conflictravaged Blue Nile state after first delivery

The first round of distributions consisted of two-month food rations for about 12,000 people in Geissan and 39,000 in Kurmuk, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced today.It plans to reach people in six localities before the rainy season begins in May but it still needs some $20 million to secure 17,000 metric tons of food for the response. In what it called a “major breakthrough,” WFP last week announced that the first UN food rations reached conflict-affected people in Blue Nile state since 2011, when the isolated rural area near the South Sudan border was cut off by insecurity and movement restrictions imposed by the Government.“While we continue to strive for access to all areas, this is still a major breakthrough which will enable us to assist those who continue to be displaced by the conflict or those who have decided to return to their homes and are in dire need of food assistance,” WFP Country Director Adnan Khan said at the time. Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) broke out in the state after neighbouring South Sudan seceded under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a decades-long civil war. The fighting in Blue Nile displaced and then isolated tens of thousands of people. read more

Developing alternative explosives blasting without NOx hazard

first_imgIn Australia, CRCMining is developing cutting-edge blasting solutions to eliminate the serious hazard of post blast nitrogen oxide fumes (NOx) from coal overburden blasting. This will significantly reduce risk of workplace, health, safety and environmental issues. Post blast nitrogen oxide fumes (NOx) from coal overburden blasting appears to be an industry-wide problem that occurs in a variety of geological conditions and with the use of a variety of bulk ammonium nitrate (AN) based explosive products. Nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide are toxic gases and can cause serious health risks to personnel exposed, and can also adversely affect the environment in several ways.Increased government and media scrutiny of post blast fume generation and risk control has had a direct impact on the industry’s license to operate. However, research and development into mining explosives since the introduction of ammonium nitrate and emulsions has been at a stand-still for more than 60 years, CRCMining says.A way to replace AN is a step-change which could offer different alternatives and possibilities to mining companies, particularly with regards to procurement and security of supply.As part of CRCMining’s research roadmap to deliver outcomes that solve industry grand challenges in surface and underground mining, the Centre in partnership with the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering of the University of Queensland, is developing ground-breaking solutions that could potentially eliminate the NOx hazard.The current project aims to develop an explosive formulation that will match the rock breakage requirements of soft and saturated ground conditions, and also substitutes the use of AN as the main oxidising agent, which will completely eliminate the potential of NOx fumes.Project leader Dr Italo Onederra explains, “This is a very exciting project as it focuses on the elimination of the NOx hazard by applying scientific principles rather than procedural methods, which are prone to variability.”“Preliminary detonation test results recently published at an international conference are very encouraging. If the explosive delivers the expected outcomes, there is no doubt that Australia will be at the forefront of mining explosives’ innovation,” said Onederra.Future benefits may also include the elimination of the potential risk of AN discharge into groundwater systems. There will also be potential improvements in overall community safety associated with manufacturing and transportation processes. The development process will also incorporate the use of sustainable and renewable fuel sources into the testing program.ACARP is currently funding the first stage of development of this project, led by Onederra and Miguel Araos. CRCMining is seeking potential mining partners to launch the next stage of the project and secure trial sites.last_img read more

HP TouchPad Go 7inch exists images posted online

first_imgFew gadgets have generated as much discussion as the HP TouchPad this summer. Once thought to have the potential to seriously challenge the iPad, the TouchPad saw its brief retail run cut short by HP — who then slashed its price to a ridiculous $99 and promptly burned through remaining stock like a pile of kerosene-soaked rags.Prior to the fire sale, it was known that additional models beyond the 16GB and 32GB TouchPads (that some of our Geek readers were lucky enough to buy before they disappeared) were in the pipe. There was a 64GB white model with a 1.5GHz processor, a 3G variant, and a 7-inch model called the HP TouchPad Go (previously codenamed Opal).The latter has now made an appearance on the Web, thanks to a forum user who claims to have had one for nearly three months. His reported specs match what earlier rumors and an FCC filing had described: a 1.5GHz processor, 16GB of internal storage, and a 1024×768 display. Unlike the larger version, the TouchPad Go was also fitted with a rear-facing camera — a logical addition, since it’s much more comfortable to snap photos with a device its size than with a 10-inch slate that weighs around 26 ounces.The TouchPad Go was supposedly due to go on sale in August, but HP pulled the pin before that ever happened. Obviously a few of the 7-inch tablets made their way into the wild, however, so there’s still an outside chance the company might have some to sell off when it has that final round of TouchPad units ready to go. And who knows? With the 10-inch 16GB TouchPad going for $99, maybe they’d blow the little guys out at $79. Hey, a guy can dream, right?In the event that the TouchPad Go never surfaces, at least you can console yourself somewhat knowing that Android tablet prices are on the slide — and that 7 and 8-inch models are becoming more common.More at This Is My Nextlast_img read more