Chinese Astronaut Gives First Space Lecture

BEIJING-  A special lecture began Thursday morning, given by a teacher aboard a space module about 340 km above her students on Earth, according to Xinhua news agency..

Female astronaut Wang Yaping, one of three crew members aboard the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, greeted about 330 primary and middle school students at a Beijing high school through a live video feed.

"Hello everyone. I am Wang Yaping. I will host the lecture today," she said, smiling toward a camera onboard the space module Tiangong-1.

Wang and her crew members set off for outer space aboard the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft on June 11. The spacecraft docked with the Tiangong-1 on June 13.

The students she addressed were gathered at the High School Affiliated with Renmin University.

"I was very excited after learning that I could come to this class," said Luo Jiangyuan, a high school freshman who said he plans to study science in college.

"When I learned about the laws of physics and weightless conditions in class, I had to imagine what would happen. But in today's class, I've been able to see what really happens. It is thrilling," he said.

More than 60 million students and teachers at about 80,000 middle schools across the country also watched the live broadcast on TV.

Nie Haisheng, commander of the crew, made a show of putting his legs into a meditation position while floating in the air. Such a show can only be seen in martial arts movies but unable to be achieved by any Kungfu masters in reality on Earth.

"Thanks to the weightless conditions, we are all masters," Wang joked.

Wang showed the students how astronauts measure their weight in the orbiter using a special scale, as normal scales operating under the influence of gravity do not work in outer space.

She also conducted several demonstrations to show how "gravity" works in space, using both fixed and mobile gyros to demonstrate physics concepts.

She demonstrated how zero gravity magnifies the surface tension of water by using a metal ring and a bag filled with water to create a ball of water that was suspended in the air.

"I like all these demonstrations, the gyro and water ball ones particularly. They are all impossible on Earth. How wonderful," said Qian Jianghao, a 10-year-old primary school student.

The students raised a number of questions for the astronauts, asking them how they can tell up from down in space, as well as inquiring about their water recycling system and their view of Earth from the orbiter.

"Through the front windows, we can see Earth and many stars. But we haven't seen any UFOs," Wang said.

The stars in space are brighter, but do not twinkle, she said.

"I tell you a wonderful phenomenon: we can see sunrises 16 times a day, as we circle the Earth every 90 minutes," she said.

At the end of the class, the three astronauts extended their regards to the students.

"I hope all of you will study hard, learn more and contribute to the Chinese dream," said Nie.

"Outer space is deep and has numerous mysteries. Exploration is limitless and we should work together in this regard," said Zhang Xiaoguang, one of the crew.

Born in east China's Shandong Province, the 33-year-old Wang is China's second female astronaut after Liu Yang, who entered the record books after participating in the Shenzhou-9 mission, which took place in June 2012.

The world's first teacher in space was Christa McAuliffe, a 37-year-old middle school teacher from the United States. She was aboard the space shuttle Challenger when it disintegrated 73 seconds after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986. McAuliffe and her other six crewmates were killed.


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New Apple feature aims to stop recent increase in violent smartphone thefts

If you own a smartphone, the scenes in the video above are scary; thieves prying a smartphone from a woman's hands in the subway and grabbing one on the street in broad daylight.

It's part of a growing crime epidemic.

Smartphone theft now accounts for an astounding one in three robberies across the United States.

Police even have a name for it - "apple picking."

"These devices are being taken point of gun, they're being taken after serious assaults, so it's no small crime," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Last year New York City saw a 40% increase in mobile thefts. Students indicate that 40% of robberies across major U.S. cities involve mobile devices.

The challenge now is to take the incentive out of stealing these costly gadgets.

Until recently there has been little reason for smartphone makers and wireless carriers to improve security. After all, if your smartphone gets stolen you have to buy a new one.

But just this week, Apple unveiled a so-called kill switch that would deactivate an iPhone completely - the way you would a stolen credit card.

Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Apple says "With activation lock, if a thief tries to turn off 'Find My iPhone,' or if they even wipe the device entirely, they will not be able to reactive it because they don't know your iCloud username and password."

Obviously we don't know yet if hackers can get around Apple's new security feature but in the meantime you can protect yourself by being extra aware of your surroundings and keeping your iPhone out of plan view when you're not using it.



Russian Theater Festival set to debut in NYC next week

Russian theater is coming to New York City as part of a Russian Theater Festival set to begin next week. The event, the first of its kind here in the United States, will feature performances from theater groups around the world.

The three-day festival will open on June 14 at the Connelly Theater in Lower Manhattan.

Voice of Russia New York correspondent Vasili Sushko spoke with Mikhail Belkin, art director of the Russian Drama Theater in New York City, to discuss the festival.

Other theaters that will host performances include The Twosome Theater Group of Chicago and The Dialog Theater Group of New York, also of New York.



AM Homes, winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction

The American author discusses how she wrote her winning novel in the shadow of 9/11, and why an all-female book prize is a good thing.

Sitting in a chaotic green room at the London South Bank centre, the American author AM Homes is surrounded by a buzz of journalists and PR representatives, eager to get her attention. Moments earlier, she was announced as the winner of the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction with her sixth novel, May We Be Forgiven. The book is a hilarious black comedy, in which a family is torn apart by one man’s rapid descent into murderous insanity.

For an author who excels in writing about the shocking (within the first thirty pages of May We be Forgiven, a fatal road accident, an affair, a divorce, and horrific domestic violence have all occurred), it’s now very much Homes’s turn to be shocked – by her first major literary prize.

“I didn’t think I could win,” she tells me, looking genuinely surprised. “I thought Hilary Mantel could win, I thought Barbara Kingsolver could win, I thought Zadie Smith could win, I thought Kate Atkinson could win, I thought Maria Semple could win – but not me!

“It feels fantastic. At the moment it’s still not real, but otherwise fantastic.”

Homes, 51, whose first name is Amy, is in favor of the all-female shortlist of the award, something that has provoked controversy in the past from some who have branded the prize as sexist.

Source: daily telegraph


Musician Plays Guitar During Brain Surgery

California musician Brad Carter plays guitar with a finger-picking style. So when Parkinson’s disease caused his fingers to tremble, he gradually lost his touch. Drugs helped for awhile but eventually doctors told Carter he could get a pacemaker implant to stop the tremors. The implant has to be placed on the exact right location of the brain and the only way for doctors to know if they have the right spot is to keep the patient awake under general anesthesia. There are no pain receptors on the brain and so this approach is quite common. In fact, the UCLA Medical Center has performed this kind of operation about 500 times. But this is the first time a patient asked if he could play the guitar during the procedure.

The doctors also tweeted the surgery. Which was a cute idea, but I think I’d rather my brain doctor focus on, you know, my brain.

Source: The Guardian