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Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build ‘metaverse’

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Facebook Inc (FB.O) plans to hire 10,000 in the European Union over the next five years, the social media giant said on Monday, to help build the so-called metaverse – a nascent online world where people exist and communicate in shared virtual spaces, Reuters reported.

This would be a significant step the company is taking towards the concept, something top boss Mark Zuckerberg has touted in recent months.

According to the report in September, Facebook committed $50 million towards building the metaverse, where companies like Roblox Corp (RBLX.N) and “Fortnite” maker Epic Games have an early foothold.

The company earlier launched a test of a new virtual-reality remote work app where users of the company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves, read the report.

Facebook also said in July it was creating a product team to work on the metaverse which would be part of Facebook Reality Labs, its augmented reality and virtual reality group, Reuters reported.

“This investment (in new jobs) is a vote of confidence in the strength of the European tech industry and the potential of European tech talent,” the company said.

“Europe is hugely important to Facebook.”

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Xiaomi to open car plant in Beijing with annual output of 300,000 vehicles

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp will build a plant that can produce 300,000 vehicles annually in Beijing for its electric vehicle unit, authorities in the capital said on Saturday.

The plant will be constructed in two phases and Xiaomi will also built its auto unit’s headquarters, sales and research offices in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, the government-backed economic development agency Beijing E-Town said on its official WeChat account.

Beijing E-Town said it anticipated the plant reaching mass production in 2024, a goal announced by Xiaomi’s Chief Executive Lei Jun in October.

In March, Xiaomi said it would commit to investing $10 billion in a new electric car division over 10 years. The company completed the business registration of its EV unit in late August.

The company has been opening thousands of stores to spur domestic sales growth for its smartphone business but eventually intends to use these shops as a channel for its plans to sell electric vehicles.

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NASA launches test mission of asteroid-deflecting spacecraft

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2021)

A spacecraft that must ultimately crash to succeed was launched late on Tuesday from California on a NASA mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defense system, designed to deflect an asteroid from a potential doomsday collision with Earth.

The DART spacecraft soared into the night sky at 10:21 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday (1:21 a.m. Eastern/0621 GMT Wednesday) from Vandenberg U.S. Space Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch was shown live on NASA TV.

The DART payload, about the size of a vending machine, was released from the booster a few minutes after launch to begin a 10-month journey into space, some 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth.

Moments later the rocket’s reusable lower stage flew back to Earth and safely touched down on a landing vessel floating in the Pacific in what has become a routine part of the cost-cutting launch sequence pioneered by SpaceX.

DART will fly under the guidance of NASA’s flight directors until the last hours of its odyssey, when control will be handed over to an autonomous on-board navigation system.

The mission’s finale will test spacecraft’s ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force, plowing into it at high speed to nudge the space boulder off course just enough to keep our planet out of harm’s way.

Cameras mounted on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft to be released from DART about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images of it back to Earth.

The asteroid that DART is aiming for poses no actual threat and is tiny compared with the cataclysmic Chicxulub asteroid that struck Earth some 66 million years ago, leading to extinction of the dinosaurs. But scientists say smaller asteroids are far more common and of greater theoretical concern in the near term.

DART’s target is an asteroid “moonlet” the size of a football stadium that orbits a chunk of rock five times larger in a binary asteroid system named Didymos, the Greek word for twin.

The team behind DART, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, chose the Didymos system because its relative proximity to Earth and dual-asteroid configuration make it ideal for observing the results of the impact.

The plan is to fly the DART spacecraft directly into the moonlet, called Dimorphos, at 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph), bumping it hard enough to shift its orbital track around the larger asteroid.

Cameras on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft released from DART about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images back to Earth. Ground-based telescopes will measure how much the moonlet’s orbit around Didymos changes.

The DART team expects to shorten Dimorphos’ orbital track by 10 minutes but would consider at least 73 seconds a success. A small nudge to an asteroid millions of miles away would be sufficient to safely reroute it.

DART is the latest of several NASA missions of recent years to explore and interact with asteroids, primordial rocky remnants from the solar system’s formation 4.6 billion years ago.

Last month, NASA launched a probe on a voyage to the Trojan asteroid clusters orbiting near Jupiter, while the grab-and-go spacecraft OSIRES-REx is on its way back to Earth with a sample collected last October from the asteroid Bennu.

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Mexico prepares exhibition of Ice Age mammoths

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(Last Updated On: November 18, 2021)

Mammoth bones, skulls and an entire mammoth replica will be available for public viewing when the paleontological museum of Santa Lucia opens in March next year, Reuters reported.

In addition to the mammoth replica, mammoth bones and skulls will also be on display.

The director of the archaeological project in Santa Lucia, Ruben Manzanilla, said the aim of the project was to find out more about these extinct animals through DNA testing.

“The idea of this project is to study the (mammoth) collection for several years to find out about the health and diseases of these animals.

“We want to find out through their DNA what other species or groups of mammoths they are related to and also explain why they became extinct in this area. (We also want to find out) about their diet. And well, all the information that we can get by the studies that are being done.

“We already have the samples for radiocarbon to find out the true age (of the bones),” he said.

Most of the mammoth skeletons on display were unearthed
during the construction of Mexico City’s new airport.

Mammoth herds roamed the area around 24,000 years ago. It is believed that early humans may have also hunted the 20-ton animals.

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