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UCL researchers found water on K2-18b Exoplanet likely more than Earth

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UCL researchers found water on K2-18b Exoplanet likely more than Earth

The researchers have made a first-ever discovery of water in the atmosphere of an Exoplanet, which could be habitable. The planet, named as K2-18b, contains an estimated mass that is about eight times that of Earth.

The discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, was made by a group of University College London (UCL) researchers.

Arguably, water has an ubiquitous presence across the breadth of our universe. Therefore, how important is this discovery?

Edward Guinan, an astronomer at Pennsylvania’s Villanova University said this is an extremely significant discovery. Water (steam) is present in many hot Jupiter planets, however, he argues that its the first time that water bands were discovered for a super-earth.

Having said that, Guinan believes the planet’s density is just about that of our own Jupiter’s icy moon of Europa. Hence, according to him it could be possible that K2-18b might comprise of up to 75 percent water and ice.

The planet must feature an across-the-board, water-rich atmosphere in order to detect water, says Guinan. Thus, K2-18b might comprise of oceans under its widespread warm atmosphere, and could likely have more water than Earth.

Earth is considered as a water-poor planet with not even 1% water by mass. Looking at the outer appearance it may seem Earth contains a lot of water, but it’s water is majorly bound to the external thin layer of oceans, says Guinan.

To discover water on Exoplanet, the UCL researchers created their own open-source algorithms that were used to study K2-18’s starlight as it filtered across its planetary offspring’s atmosphere. Through this process, the researchers were able to detect molecules of water in their spectrum.

Apart from water, the UCL group of researchers detected hydrogen and helium in Exoplanet’s atmosphere, moreover they believe nitrogen and methane could also be discovered on this planet.

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Sperm Whale Found Dead on Scotland Beach with 100 kg Waste

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Sperm Whale

Continuous human interference in marine life and the unsustainable use of resources has once again extracted life out of a sperm whale. The male juvenile whale was found dead on Seilebost Beach, off the Isle of Harris in Scotland, with nearly 100 kg of debris in it stomach.

The largest toothed predator was found with plastic cups, fishing nets, rope, packing straps and bags in its stomach. The marine life, which is on the brink of extinction, has been constantly paying the cost of its relationship with humans.

According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal, China and Indonesia are mainly responsible for the marine pollution, as together they generate more than one-third of plastic waste in the global waters.

The other countries that have brought the sperm whale on the brink of extinction include the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Brazil and the United States. With Asian countries mainly responsible for marine pollution, the interference of international organisations is needed to curtail the issue.

Aside from the ingestion of plastic and other wastes, entanglement in fishing nets, collisions with ships, and chemical pollution are some of the few more human activities that are responsible for the death of the sea creatures.

Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) said that the stomach “exploded” with waste as they conducted an autopsy on the juvenile male sperm whale.

The group even posted a message, saying, “The animal wasn’t in particularly poor condition, and whilst it is certainly plausible that this amount of debris was a factor in its live stranding, we actually couldn’t find evidence that this had impacted or obstructed the intestines.

“This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific, must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate yet again the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life.”

Increase in the strandings of whales and dolphins in Scotland since 2009 has heightened the safety concerns for the marine creatures. While the number of strandings in 2009 was 204, it rose to more than 930 in 2018.

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Antivirus Applications Turn into a Danger Zone for Android Users

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Antivirus Applications

As convenient as it was made, technology is increasingly becoming a threat for people. In the present era, every single download in mobile phones is becoming crucial decision for the users, as the breaches are more prevalent than ever.

Recently, experts warned the Android users of the range of antivirus applications easily available for downloads on the Google Play Store. They listed 15 apps of carrying potential danger for the users, and requested them to uninstall these apps, if downloaded.

According to the reports, the mentioned antivirus apps have been installed billions of times. The online privacy experts, VPN Pro stated that they can cause harm to the smartphones.

“These apps are amazingly popular and potentially dangerous,” said Jan Youngren, the security researcher. “That’s because they’re asking users to give them a lot of dangerous permissions that they don’t seem to need.”

In a VPN blog post, Youngren wrote that the exploitation begins, when users grant permissions like “use your camera”, “knowing where you are at all times” and also “using the phone without your knowledge”.

The applications revealed in the blog post, including Clean Master, Security Master, Antivirus Free 2019, Antivirus Android and others, have been downloaded more than two billion times, putting the data of the users at risk.

Soon after being exposed, the Google Play Store had removed some of these apps, but others are still available. “Even though these apps have been found guilty of these malicious activities in the past, they’re still available on Google Play and amassing millions of installs every month,” Youngren stated.

Researchers recommended the Android users to delete any of the mentioned antivirus apps, and urged them to be careful about every app they download. The tech experts warn users to first question if they need an antivirus app, then check if there are any requests of permissions that could be potentially dangerous. Moreover, they must make sure if it is from a reputable developer.

The report has been one of the most eye-opening revelations that the users have received about the technical breaches. Where the antivirus applications have been created to save the smartphones from the harmful databases, they actually have become a threat themselves.

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Facebook CEO Considered Banning Political Ads, but Failed to Enact

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Political Ads

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been dragged into a new controversy following the ban on political ads on Twitter.

Despite stringent actions against the propaganda of promoting political advertisements on social media sites, the American technology entrepreneur still stands at the crossroads of facing huge criticisms.

Recently, Zuckerberg drew criticism from a number of journalists urging the platform to ban political ads Facebook. Earlier also, Facebook was criticised for being an active platform to promote online terrorism.

In September, Twitter, along with Facebook and Google refused to remove a misleading video ad from US President Donald Trump’s campaign. Since, the add targeted former vice president Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, the issue gained worldwide recognition as to how social media sites play an active role in defaming a leader’s image.

Earlier this month in Washington, Zuckerberg said that he’d considered banning political ads altogether but as they are an important part of voice – especially for local candidates, up-and-coming challengers, and advocacy groups that may not get much media attention otherwise, it might really not be a good idea to bring it in practice soon.

Since, Facebook has always supported the idea of the right to free speech for politicians, its ideology has resulted in a conflict of ideas amongst the Twitter and Facebook users.

The US Democrats took a political hit on Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that the latter deliberately helped the Trump campaigners to promote false information through the political ads amid the wave of 2020 US presidential elections.  

Against Facebook’s allegations, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday said that the banning of political ads was not about free expression but was about paying for reach. 

“Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address”, Twitter CEO wrote.

The policy of Twitter banning the political ads would come into effect on November 22.

In the wake of the general elections that are to take place in the UK on December 12, it appears that the move will severely affect the online campaigning of different parties.

Twitter stated that its move would bring justified elections in all the countries, reducing risk from highly targeted ads that promote misleading information. However, Facebook CEO has defended his company’s position and said private companies should not censor politicians.

“We need to be careful about adopting more rules that can restrict what people can say. And I don’t think it’s right for politicians to be censored,” Zuckerberg said.

Since Facebook brought the idea of banning political ads first, but did not practice it, Twitter is using it as an advantage to get ahead of the most popular social media platform, grabbing in more users. The existing data suggests that twitter has millions of users while Facebook is leading in billions.  

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Accounts Promoting ISIS Propaganda on TikTok to affect App’s Worth in MENA

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ISIS Propaganda

TikTok, a popular content sharing app has once again made it to the news for the recent action it took on almost two dozen accounts. According to the report first published by the Wall Street Journal, the accounts were used to promote the ISIS propaganda and for recruiting the members into the radical organisation.

Moreover, the accounts and their posts have made the news at a time when US Troops have withdrawn from the Syria region, and Turkey is taking a stern stance against Kurdish fighters. This might point out the fact that the radical organisation is looking to boost its strength in the region.

And the prime reason for that is that the US-led coalition did not eliminate the threat of ISIS or any other radical organisation from the MENA region. Aside from the fact that ISIS was not eliminated, the recent reports show that ISIS has not only reorganized but has also recovered from its fight against the Kurds, US Troops and the allies.

According to the reports published, the accounts promoting the ISIS propaganda displayed varied videos from armed forces parading in the streets to Islamic State fighters with guns, and women calling themselves as “jihadist and proud”.

Furthermore, some of the accounts had more than 1000 followers the reported videos comprised of flower icons, hearts and catchy music to gain the interest of young people. Also, it won’t be wrong to believe that instances like this might severely affect TikTok’s use in the MENA region and its partnership with Emaar in the region.

The application was primarily started in the region with the sole aim of bringing the prominent social issues in the notice of communities and an effort to improve the situation in the society by campaigns like #CreateForGood.

The accounts on TikTok also indicate that the radical organisation is resorting to such children and teenager-friend app to promote its ISIS propaganda, which is also a serious thing to worry about.  

In response to the deletion of the ISIS propagating accounts, a spokesperson from TikTok said, “Content promoting terrorist organizations has absolutely no place on TikTok. We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity.”

It remains yet to be seen how the accounts and videos promoting ISIS ideology would affect the content creating and sharing platform on a global platform from the US and other world leaders, given it has already been under a lot of scrutiny in the past for violating COPPA act, although the application at that time was known as Musical.ly.

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Google’s Pixel 4 popularity dropped due to a major security flaw

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Google’s Pixel 4 popularity dropped due to a major security flaw

Google’s new handset, a neck-to neck competition for iPhone, was rebuked by the techies after they found a major security flaw in the new launch. Google’s Pixel 4 can be easily unlocked using the facial recognition feature even while the people are asleep or unconscious.

Google confirmed that Pixel 4, available at a starting price of £670, gives access to the smartphone even with closed eyes of the owner. Moreover, the device can also be unlocked by a person who resembles the owner.

Tech enthusiasts and security experts argued that the flaw can easily be exploited for gaining unauthorised access to private information of the owner.

Unlike iPhone, Google Pixel 4 can be unlocked by the meddlers just by holding it in front of the owner’s face who could be asleep, unconscious or dead. Secretly checking on the phones of your spouses or partners, who are fast asleep, has become very easy with Pixel 4.

Google has acknowledged the shortfall but asserted that the new phone “meets security requirements”.

Apple’s Face ID feature has been unbeatable till date because the smartphone knows if the owner is aware and willingly looking at the screen to have it unlocked.

However, facial recognition as a security feature can be often be exploited.

Recently, after an embarrassing bio-metric security failure, Samsung acknowledged that its Galaxy S10 smartphone could easily be unlocked with fingerprints of people other than the owner, if it has a screen protector on. Later, it published advice for owners to update the software for fixing the bug.

Google Pixel 4 was launched last week, loaded with features like two rear cameras and a processor that is faster than previously launched Pixel models.

Google, on its website help page for Pixel 4 and Face Unlock said: “Your phone can be unlocked by someone else if it’s held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed. Keep your phone in a safe place, like your front pocket or handbag.”

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