First Phase of World’s Largest Solar Power Station Opens in Morocco
Within the last week Noor 1, the first phase of the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, was switched on by King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Located on the edge of the Sahara desert in the area of Souss-Massa-Drâa, being built in three phases and four parts, and expected to produce up to 580 megawatts of power, upon completion in 2018 the facility will become the largest provider of solar power in the world, serving the electricity needs of 1.1 million people. Noor 1 contributes 160 megawatts of the facility’s ultimate capacity.
The overall project will cost $9 billion, with funding coming from the German investment bank KfW, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the Africa Development Bank, which have boosted their contributions following the effective withdrawal of support from the Desertec consortium. A response to growing demand at a time when the country was reliant on importing 97% of its energy in the form of fossil fuels, the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station is central to Morocco’s plan to generate 42% from renewables by 2020, with an even split between solar, wind, and hydro sources. Even without Desertec, the architects of the project hope to produce enough energy to eventually supply parts of Europe.
The facility will be able to concentrate and store solar power in the form of heated molten salt, reserving it for use on evenings and cloudy days. Noor 1 comes with a full-load storage capacity of 3 hours. After switching on Noor a week last Thursday, King Mohammed VI laid the foundations for Noor 2. The Climate Investment Fund has estimated that the completed facility ‘will reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year, which could result in an estimated reduction of over 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years’.
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Michigan State University Study Stresses Link Between Sleep Deprivation and False Confessions
A new study, published on Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, has indicated the extent to which sleep deprivation can influence false confessions. It suggests that people under interrogation who have been awake for a period of 24 hours are 4.5 times more likely to sign a false confession than those who have had a full, eight-hour night’s sleep. As many as a quarter of wrongful convictions in the United States are thought to rest on false confessions.
The study asked 88 undergraduates at a Michigan State University sleep and learning laboratory to carry out a series of computer-based tasks. They were repeatedly warned never to press the ‘Escape’ button on their keyboards, which was said to result in the loss of research data. After a week the students returned to complete more tasks, upon which half enjoyed a full night’s sleep, while the other half were kept awake. The following morning, 8 of the 44 who had slept all night signed and confirmed a confession of guilt relating to the pressing of the ‘Escape’ button, while 22 of the 44 who had been awake all night similarly confessed. Participants who scored lower on an intelligence test conducted as part of the process were more likely to have signed the confession.
Peter Neyroud of the University of Cambridge argued that university students might be more suggestible than prisoners, thereby influencing the study’s results, but Kimberly Fenn, who led the research at Michigan State, said:
‘This is the first direct evidence that sleep deprivation increases the likelihood that a person will wrongly confess to wrongdoing that never occurred. It’s a crucial first step toward understanding the role of sleep deprivation in false confessions and, in turn, raises complex questions about the use of sleep deprivation in the interrogation of innocent and guilty suspects.’
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Athletics Kenya Put on World Anti-Doping Agency Watch List
Athletics Kenya, long synonymous with excellence in long-distance running, with the East African country topping the medal table courtesy of seven golds at the World Championships in Beijing last year, on Thursday missed a World Anti-Doping Agency deadline relating to drug oversight. Athletics Kenya will now be placed on a WADA ‘watch list’, with two months in which to improve or face being declared non-compliant. Non-compliance could result in Kenyan athletes being unable to compete at this year’s Olympics in Rio.
WADA noted that there is ‘still a lot of work required’ if the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya is to meet its targets, with 500 million Kenyan shillings (£3.5 million) in funding and new anti-doping legislation still to be passed by the Kenyan parliament. Since 2011 more than 40 Kenyan athletes have failed drugs tests, with 18 currently serving bans which total 55 years. The most high profile name is Rita Jeptoo, a three-time Boston Marathon winner who is serving a two year suspension after testing positive for EPO in September 2014. Three senior officials at Athletics Kenya are also suspended following accusations of corruption involving Doha’s successful bid for the 2019 World Championships. More, several banned athletes have alleged that Athletics Kenya officials, including chief executive Isaac Mwangi, asked for bribes in exchange for more lenient punishments.
Russian athletes are already banned from international athletics, after the country was deemed to be guilty of running state-sponsored doping programmes. But Hassan Wario, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Sports, Culture, and the Arts, said ‘We are very serious. We have clamped down. We can’t compare to Russia at all. The government knows the importance of athletics to this nation. It’s our number one brand and we can’t spoil that. The athletes you see from now on will be clean’. Until now Athletics Kenya has operated with limited resources, without the capacity to carry out blood tests and with all urine samples sent to South Africa. Just 40 drugs tests were carried out by a regional body last year, while the IAAF has conducted 112 blood tests on Kenyan athletes over the past two years, with the samples taken to Europe.
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The Simpsons Sphere
Uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by the user john hatfield, you can now watch 500 episodes of The Simpsons all in one sitting, clicking to rotate the video 360° as you enjoy or endure a cacophony of noise courtesy of the likes of Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa.
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LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves, Confirming a Prediction of General Relativity
On Thursday scientists working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory reported the detection of gravitational waves, a major breakthrough which confirms one of the predictions stemming from Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. The gravitational waves, ripples in the curvature of spacetime, were observed on 14 September 2015 by both LIGO detectors, which are located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington. A paper from the discoverers, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration teams, is to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Gravitational waves are able to penetrate the universe beyond the reach of electromagnetic waves, providing insights into objects including neutron stars and black holes, events such as supernovae, and processes which occurred in the early universe shortly after the Big Bang. The gravitational waves detected by the LIGO and Virgo teams last September are thought to have been produced by the merger of two black holes, which would have come together over billions of years as they lost energy, resulting in one single, more massive, spinning black hole: a collision which scientists have hitherto predicted but never before observed. LIGO scientists estimate that the collision took place 1.3 billion years ago between black holes 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, converting 3 times the mass of the sun – according to Einstein’s formula E=mc2 – into gravitational waves within a fraction of a second. The peak power output from such an event would equate to 50 times that of the visible universe.
Einstein postulated gravitational waves in 1916. In the 1960s Joseph Weber worked on developing the first gravitational wave detectors, but his reports indicating the actual detection of waves were soon discredited. So the existence of gravitational waves only began to be confirmed in 1974, when Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor Jr. discovered a new type of pulsar, which orbits around a neutron star to form a binary star system. The orbit of this pulsar was later found to shrink because of the release of energy in the form of gravitational waves, and Hulse and Taylor were awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Rainer Weiss, professor of physics emeritus at MIT, first conceived of LIGO in the 1970s, but the project was only given the go ahead when it received National Science Foundation funding in 1992. LIGO became operational in 2002, yet upgrades to the equipment – which have significantly increased the sensitivity of its instruments – only began to function a few weeks before last September’s successful observation. LIGO uses laser light split into two beams, which are used to monitor a distance between mirrors which will change only an infinitesimal amount whenever a gravitational wave passes. Virgo’s interferometer, which is located near Pisa in Italy, is also presently undergoing major upgrades.
David H. Reitze, the executive director of the LIGO Laboratory, said:
‘Our observation of gravitational waves accomplishes an ambitious goal set out over 5 decades ago to directly detect this elusive phenomenon and better understand the universe, and, fittingly, fulfills Einstein’s legacy on the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity.’
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New York Fashion Week Sees New Collections by Kanye West and Rihanna
Kanye West disrupted New York Fashion Week on Thursday with a show in front of a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden, where he unveiled his Yeezy Season 3 fashion line to the soundtrack of his upcoming album The Life of Pablo. Collaborating once again with his regular art director, the Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft, and with 18,000 people having paid to watch, the show opened with ‘Ultralight Beam’ before a parachute canopy covering the floor of the Garden was removed to reveal about 1,200 extras, dressed in monochrome and huddled and massed around makeshift refugee tents.
The event was streamed live to selected theatres and through TIDAL. Playing from his laptop, Kanye demonstrated new songs alongside recent releases such as ‘Wolves’ and ‘Real Friends’, although there was no place on the album for ‘No More Parties in L.A.’ or ‘Facts’. With the Kardashian family all present, the standout moment on this alternative runway came when the models Naomi Campbell, Veronica Webb, and Liya Kebede emerged wearing black leotards and floor-length mink coats. Beyond the fur and a few socks extending above the knee, the Yeezy Season 3 collection hewed close to Kanye’s earlier fashion offerings in terms of fabric and drape, while adding new colours, burnt oranges, burgundies, and citrine yellows complementing khaki greens, blacks, and greys. Towards the close of the show Kanye revealed his dream to ‘at least just for a couple of years be the creative director of Hermès’.
Thursday was the start of New York Fashion Week, with the likes of Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Rodarte, and Hood By Air showing off their 2016 Fall/Winter collections. On Friday Rihanna introduced her first Puma collection under the title Fenty x Puma, her own take on Health Goth which she described after the show saying, ‘If the Addams Family went to the gym, this is what they would wear’. Gigi and Bella Hadid, Lexi Boling, and Ruth Bell were among the models, with the black-and-white forest set by Stefan Beckman designed with the goal of ‘turning nature on its head’. New York Fashion Week will continue until next Thursday.
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Kanye West Releases The Life of Pablo After SNL Appearance
And after his fashion exploits on Thursday, providing us with another G.O.O.D. Friday in the form of ’30 Hours’, and an appearance on Saturday Night Live alongside Chance The Rapper, The-Dream, Kirk Franklin, and Young Thug where he performed ‘Highlights’ and ‘Ultralight Beam’, in the early hours of Sunday Kanye released The Life of Pablo, the final title of his seventh studio album. Offered exclusively via TIDAL, the record was available to download for about an hour before the option was removed, with Kanye taking to Twitter to ask his fans to subscribe to the service and stream his new work.
The Life of Pablo as released opens with ‘Ultralight Beam’ and incorporates versions of ‘No More Parties in L.A.’ and ‘Facts’. It features a litany of special guests including Chance The Rapper – who on Friday night Kanye had jokingly blamed for the record’s delay – and Donnie Trumpet, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla Sign, Kelly Price, and André 3000, and production from Swizz Beatz, Rick Rubin, Noah Goldstein, Metro Boomin, Hudson Mohawke, Madlib, and more.
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Icelandic Drama Trapped Begins Airing on BBC Four
In a spot now all but reserved for Scandinavian drama, on Saturday night BBC Four began showing Trapped, a mystery thriller from Iceland. Set in Seyðisfjorður, a remote town in the east of the country, it follows Andri Olafsson (Olafúr Darri Ólafsson), a former investigator in Reykjavik who is now the town’s chief of police, as he struggles with his two young daughters, a visit from his ex-wife, the forbidding environment, and a mutilated torso which appears to have washed up thanks to an inbound ferry from Denmark. Officer Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir) serves as his discerning right hand woman, and Hjörtur (Baltasar Breki Samper), a young man with a troubled past who has just returned from overseas, seems like an early – perhaps premature – suspect.
The ten-part series was created by Baltasar Kormákur, and first shown at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, where the US distribution rights were picked up by the Weinstein Company. Trapped began airing in Iceland on RÚV at the end of December. It is reportedly the most expensive television series ever made in Iceland, with an overall cost approaching 1 billion krónur.
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Paris Saint-Germain’s Serge Aurier Insults Manager and Teammates on Periscope
On Sunday twenty-three year old Ivorian right-back Serge Aurier was suspended by his club, Paris Saint-Germain, after a Periscope video emerged of the player insulting his manager and several of his teammates. Apparently conducting a question and answer session with a friend using questions asked by fans over social media, Aurier appeared to suggest that PSG manager Laurent Blanc voraciously engages in oral sex on behalf of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He also called Blanc a ‘faggot’, fellow defender Gregory van der Wiel ‘wetter than wet’, and expressed a preference for German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp over Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, describing Sirigu as ‘finished’.
The club provisionally suspended Aurier, who will now miss this week’s Champions League tie against Chelsea, and are set to open disciplinary proceedings after issuing a statement which read, ‘Paris Saint-Germain offer their full support to coach Laurent Blanc and to the players who, quite rightly, feel offended by these comments, which are against the values of the club’. A video posted later on Sunday via the club’s television channel revealed an apologetic Aurier, who said ‘I made a big mistake, I am here to say sorry to the coach, the club and my team-mates, and to the supporters because they are the most important people. I want to apologise especially to the coach, I can only thank him for all he has done for me since I arrived in Paris.’