China to launch 4 important satellites for space science by 2020

China is set to launch four significant satellites for space science during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), after successfully launching the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope Satellite at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 15, according to China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

A China News report included a statement by Zhao Ji’an, an employee of the administration, noting that China will launch the first test satellite for detecting electromagnetic anomalies from space in August 2017. The move is aimed at improving the country’s earthquake monitoring network.

In addition, China will launch the Chinese-French Oceanography Satellite in 2018 to enable ocean wave prediction and disaster prevention and mitigation; the Chinese and French astronomy satellite in 2021 for the research of dark energy and cosmic evolution; as well as a Mars probe in 2020, which is poised to achieve breakthroughs in key technologies like orbiting, landing and inspection.

Zhao noted that the administration is also working on new projects, such as the Einstein Probe and Water Cycle Observation Mission.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)

Xinjiang county establishes database to forecast rainbows

A database for forecasting the emergence of rainbows has been established in Zhaosu County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Zhaosu, which is surrounded by mountains on three sides, receives a significant amount of precipitation. As a result, the frequency of rainbows in the county is much higher than in other regions. Indeed, according to meteorological statistics, rainbows appear as many as 160 times in Zhaosu from May to August each year.

Precise weather forecasts require sufficient data and reliable analysis, said Zhou Mingwei, head of the local meteorological department. However, preliminary estimates can be made through the collection of meteorological data, offering an approximate forecast of the weather phenomenon.

(Xinhua/Li Wenwu)

The local meteorological department has established observation stations and solicited public information to enlarge its database, improving the precision of its forecasts. Data collected includes at least a dozen indices, such as the location of rainbows, their duration, and the temperature and wind speed at the time of their appearance.

The establishment of the database will not only provide precise forecasts, but will also inform visitors about the best observation times and locations, Zhou noted. Zhaosu is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Xinjiang. It received 1.35 million visitors in 2016, with tourism revenue of 400 million RMB ($58.9 million).

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)

Tianjin company to build road in Moscow made from rubber powder of used tires

A materials company in northern China’s Tianjin municipality plans to build a 5-kilometer green demonstration road in Moscow using asphalt modified from the rubber powder of scrapped tires.

The company, Tianjin Hitech Environment Development Co. Ltd., will carry out research on the technology with the National University of Science and Technology, Russia’s top university in steel, metallurgy and materials science. The two sides have jointly established research institutes in both Tianjin and Moscow, forging an integrated and comprehensive innovation platform.

According to Hitech, the demonstration road is a showcase of an entire industrial chain: from tire recycling to waste rubber powder processing, from asphalt modification to scrapped tire processing.

With the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, Tianjin has enhanced its international cooperation on advanced technology. Twenty-three technology enterprises in the municipality have established research centers in 19 countries, including Germany, Russia and Pakistan.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)

Establishing official ties with China brings ‘lots of opportunities’: Panamanian politicians

A number of Panamanian politicians say that China-Panama relations will yield positive outcomes in the future, after the two countries established diplomatic ties on June 13.

Oyden Ortega Duran, chairman of the Panama-China Friendship Association, spoke highly of the diplomatic move. China is not only the second most frequent user of the Panama Canal, but is also the largest commodity supplier to the free trade zone in Colon, the chairman pointed out, adding that the establishment of ties will elevate bilateral relations in commerce and trade, investment, cultural exchange and other sectors.

Panama City Mayor Jose Blandon, who maintains extensive contact with the city’s Chinese community, believes people of both nations have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Statistics show that there are over 150,000 Chinese people in Panama, a country with a total population of over 4 million.

Ortega believes developing Panama’s tourism industry should be a priority. More Chinese tourists will want to travel to Panama, which will benefit the commercial sector, he explained. Blandon hopes more Chinese enterprises will come to Panama in the future as well. He believes Panama can create a stable, favorable investment environment for Chinese investors and enterprises. The integration of Chinese and Panamanian cultures will make it easier for Chinese investors to launch businesses here, or make Panama the headquarters for Chinese enterprises in Latin America, the mayor added.

Blandon has previously traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Dalian, and noted that those cities left deep impressions on him. Addressing the Belt and Road Initiative and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Ortega said: “Countries across the world are all looking forward to seizing the precious opportunity brought by the ‘Belt and Road’ for development.”

After establishing diplomatic ties with the Chinese mainland, Panama on the same day announced that it would sever ties with Taiwan. Recent media reports noted that, affected by the dissolution of diplomatic relations, some Panamanian students who received scholarships from Taiwan may not know how to proceed.

In response to these concerns, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing on June 15 that “We are aware some Panamanian students who have received scholarships from Taiwan may experience difficulties. We welcome them to study in the Chinese mainland and are willing to offer timely and necessary assistance.”

In the future, China will provide annual scholarships to students from Panama, Lu said. The spokesperson noted that “China will enhance educational and cultural exchange with Panama.”

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)

China’s economy will catch up with US economy in 17 years: Economists

A recent survey found that Chinese economists are optimistic about the country’s economic future. They predict China’s economic growth for this year at 6.6 percent, which would mean China’s economic aggregate needs only until 2034 to catch up with that of the U.S.

The survey was published on June 14 in the bi-monthly journal China Economist. The survey collected 131 questionnaires for analysis. It is conducted every quarter, administered to investment banks, research institutes and respected economists.

Economists from China’s central and western regions predicted the country’s economic growth at 6.63 and 6.6 percent, higher than their peers in the east, the survey showed. Most economists predicted that by 2045, China’s manufacturing will be on the same level as that of the U.S.

The survey also reflects Chinese economists’ optimistic attitude toward the country’s future competitiveness, which derives partly from their confidence in the government. A total of 35.2 percent of economists said China’s debt is more sustainable than that of the U.S., as China’s debt-to-GDP ratio is relatively low, while the country’s GDP growth rate is fairly high.

Chinese government debts are largely used to build real assets, while other world governments use debt for consumptive purposes, Wang Guogang, director of the Institute of Finance and Banking at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was cited as saying.

Meanwhile, 91.2 percent of economists are optimistic about the 100-day action plan proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, believing that the U.S. economy has a strong capacity to recover, and the country’s manufacturing industry can be revitalized.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily)

Tidy Sum, That: ‘Costume’ Diamond Bought in 1980s for £10 Sold for £650K

a large 26.27 karat diamond ring, thought to be ‘Costume jewelry’ diamond really worth hundreds of thousands

© AP Photo/ Sotheby’s

A diamond sold for £10 in a 1980s junk sale (roughly $34 in 2017 money) has been sold at a London auction for £656,750 ($836,000).

The original buyer purchased the so-called “tenner diamond” at a West London flea market and then wore it as a ring for decades. The buyer thought that gem was a next-to-worthless piece of costume jewelry, not a 26.27-carat white diamond.

At some point, the owner visited a jeweler who thought the ring might be valuable. It was taken to London-based auctioning multinational Sotheby’s, which initially valued it at £350,000 ($446,000).

“The majority of us can’t even begin to dream of owning a diamond that large,” Sotheby’s London jewelry department head Jessica Wyndham told a local news outlet. “The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day. It’s a good-looking ring. No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. They enjoyed it all this time.”

“It was a thrill to bring the hammer down on an object which has been the subject of so much interest and attention over the last few weeks and to see that attention translate into such strong bidding competition.”

The ring was confirmed as a genuine diamond by the Gemological Institute of America, which believes it to have been cut in the 19th century. The original cutting was done to preserve size rather than emphasize brilliance, leading to a large but dull stone.
The Superman Diamond, being held by discoverer Kalel Langford.

“I’m convinced the £10 ring was once owned by royalty or a person of great wealth, because it originates from the 1800s – before the discovery of modern diamond mines and a time when very few diamonds were available,” Tobias Kormind, managing director of 77Diamonds.com, told The Sun.

“Several diamond dealers have already inspected this diamond to assess how large a modern cut diamond can be made from it. The new owner is likely to re-cut it into a modern diamond that will emit even more sparkle and potentially be worth a multiple of the Sotheby’s estimate.”

The stone was put up for auction on Wednesday, June 7. Bidding started at 240,000 pounds, passed 500,0000, and the rock finally sold for nearly twice the valuation to an international buyer.

Source: Sputniknews

Russian, Chinese Gold Reserves to Cut Global Economy’s Addiction to Dollar

Russia and China continue to stockpile gold in a bid to cut their economies’ dependency on the US dollar in the future. Experts told Sputnik that if the dollar’s role as a global reserve currency is decreased the world will see radical political and economic transformation.

In recent years, Russia and China have actively been purchasing the yellow metal and have significantly enlarged their national gold reserves.

According to Philip Klinkmüller, a financial expert with Hopf-Klinkmüller Capital Management, there is a visible trend in Russia and China to buy more bullion to end their dependency on the US dollar.

The expert suggested that in the years to come global financial markets will see a significant devaluation of the American currency.

“According to our estimates, there will be a downward trend in the dollar exchange rate in the next 15 years. In the long-run, it cannot be guaranteed that the dollar will remain a global reserve currency,” Klinkmüller told Sputnik Germany.

Bullion was traditionally a major part of the Russia’s and China’s gold and foreign exchange reserves. At the same time, nearly 60 percent of global exchange reserves are denominated in dollars.

On the one hand, gold is a national reserve in the event of a crisis. On the other hand, gold reserves help compensate losses from a fluctuating dollar.

By stockpiling bullion, Russia and China want to get more independent in trading gold and cut their reliance on the US dollar, according to Jochen Stanzl, a market analyst at CMC Markets.

He added that gold purchases also help a country to diversify its national financial resources.

“If the country buys only one currency it gets highly dependent on its exchange rate. By purchasing gold, the central bank diversifies its resources and enhances the soundness of nation’s assets,” Stanzl said.

In turn, Klinkmüller noted that buying gold is “absolutely reasonable” for Russia since the yellow metal is helpful to offset the negative effect from sanctions.

“Russia wants to be more independent from the US dollar and act at global financial markets, using gold as a payment instrument. One of the reasons is sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over the Ukrainian crisis, including those in trade and investment,” the financial expert explained.

As for China, Beijing is currently the world’s importer of gold, and according to Stanzl’s estimates, will keep this status in the future.

The expert outlined the two most probable reasons behind Beijing’s rush on the global bullion market.

“First, China wants to use gold reserves to boost its national currency [the renminbi] which was added to the International Monetary Fund’s basket of reserve currencies last year. Moreover, China has a large foreign trade deficit with the US. By stockpiling bullion, Beijing wants to decrease its dependency on the US,” Stanzl said.

At the same time, both experts underscored that gold purchases by Russia and China are not contributing to driving up gold prices in the global market.

According to the World Gold Council, China and Russia are ranked sixth and seventh on the list of country with the largest gold reserves, with 1,843 tons and 1,655 tons respectively. The first on the ranking is the US with 8,134 tons. It is followed by Germany (3,380 tons) and the IMF (2,814 tons).

Source: Sputniknews

At Least the Neighbors Won’t Hear: Scientists Start Study of Sex in Space

Since the dawn of man, humans have looked to the stars and been filled with wonder and questions. What’s out there? How can we go there, and when? Does the cosmos hold the answers that we seek about life and meaning? Now, scientists are beginning to seriously consider a new question: mechanically speaking, how do you bone in space?

As far as we can tell, no human has ever had sex outside of the confines of Earth’s gravity (unless some freaky stuff has been going on aboard the ISS). As a result, a lot of questions remain unanswered: what would sex look like in sterile, zero gravity conditions? Or on Mars? How about childbirth, or natal development?

“Not only how our reproductive systems adapt to the space environment, but if we actually want to go places, and we want to stay there – if we’re talking about colonization, there’s a key component to colonization that makes it possible, and that is having babies,” said Kris Lenhardt, assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, during a May panel.

“This is something that we, frankly, have never studied dramatically, because it’s not been relevant to date. But if we want to become a spacefaring species and we want to live in space permanently, this is a crucial issue that we have to address that just has not been fully studied yet.”

Bit by bit, researchers are coming around to what Gene Roddenberry realized half a century ago: space sex is super important, which is why all the ladies on the Starship Enterprise wore go-go boots and miniskirts. A group of Japanese scientists freeze-dried mouse sperm and stored it on the ISS for nine months, and then unfroze it to see if they could use it to artificially inseminate female mice.

The experiment was a success, showing that high levels of space radiation aren’t necessarily a barrier to reproduction. But that was only sperm, and from an exceptionally fecund animal at that. It isn’t clear how a human embryo, created in space or on a distant world, would fare because nobody has ever tried it before.

“We have no idea how they’re going to develop,” said Lenhardt. “Will they develop bones the way that we do? Will they ever be capable of coming to Earth and actually standing up?”

Even after a successful birth, there’s also the concern of what a child reared in micro or lessened gravity will look like. Low gravity and space radiation already pose major threats to adult spacefarers, let alone tender youths.

“So we’re basically, at that point, talking about people who are going to be – if they exist in the future – are going to be vastly different from what we are. And that may be kind of a turning point in human history,” Lenhardt said.

That doesn’t even touch on the physical challenges of sex in space. You may take it for granted, but almost everything fun you can do with another person also involves your good friend gravity.

“The first challenge is simply the result of moving about in near-zero gravity: every push or thrust will propel the astronaut in the opposite direction,” John Millis, chair of the department of physical sciences and engineering at Anderson University, told Gizmodo earlier in June. “Imagine a pair of ice skaters standing on fresh ice: if they were to push their hands against one another, they would each shoot backwards away from each other.

Microgravity interfering with blood flow and pooling might also make it more difficult for male astronauts to induce an erection (as if they needed another excuse, am I right ladies?) Females might have difficulties as well for similar reasons.

“Because of the micro-gravity environment, sweat and tears don’t run down the astronaut’s bodies like it does here on Earth, instead it pools like small ponds of fluid near where it was secreted,” Millis said, disgustingly. “If the motion is vigorous enough it could be ejected from the surface of the body. This means that liquid would both be pooling on the body, especially where there is contact with the other person. Also, the more they moved, pools of liquid would be flying off around the couple.”

Neither Lenhardt nor Miller touched on the ever-popular notion of sex with aliens, which is obviously what everyone cares about. Until we can conduct sexual anthropology on wookies or turians, however, that subject will remain one of popular and not academic interest.

Source: Sputniknews

China to upgrade Panama trade development office to embassy: Top representative

The China-Panama Trade Development Office, currently China’s highest representativeoffice in the country, will be upgraded to a full Chinese embassy.

Wang Weihua, permanent representative of the office, disclosed that the embassy will bebuilt in Panama City. Wang’s remarks came soon after China and Panama signed a jointcommuniqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations on June 13. More staff will berecruited and a new location will be scouted to build a more permanent embassy, Wangsaid. The Office of China-Panama Trade Development is located in an office building.

The resumption of diplomatic ties will bring about positive changes in terms of visaapplications, investment and maritime cooperation, benefiting Chinese people andenterprises, Wang said. Cooperation and exchange under the framework of the UN willflourish as well, he added.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)

China will not build hundreds of new coal plants: former head of Chinese energy authority

(File photo)

“China’s vow that its carbon emissions will peak by 2030 is totally different from building hundreds of additional coal plants,” said Zhang Guobao, former vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a June 9 round table on energy and climate in Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump referenced China in the statement he gave upon withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, claiming that China is allowed to do whatever it wants for 13 years. Zhang responded that this statement illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the Paris agreement.

Zhang, also the former director of China’s National Energy Administration, noted that China would never build hundreds of new coal plants, a point that has already been clearly explained and publicized. In fact, according to the National Energy Administration, the construction of 105 approved coal-fired power plants has already been halted. Zhang suggested that David Sandalow, the host of the round table and also the former acting undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, correct President Trump’s misunderstanding.

The average lifespan of coal plants in the U.S. is 33 years, said Zhang, which means that many American plants are indeed outdated. Zhang cited his experience visiting a coal plant in Indiana, built in 1952 with seven units and a capacity of 400 MW, pointing out that such a plant would be considered very outmoded in China.

“The coal consumption per kilowatt-hour in the U.S. is 400 grams, while the figure is 100 grams lower in China,” Zhang remarked, recommending that the U.S. shut down high-consumption plants and update its technology.

Trump stressed in his statement that the Paris climate accord disadvantaged the U.S. and would have taken away from the country’s wealth, “leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”

However, both Zhang and Sandalow emphasized at the round table that the new-energy industry has become an important field for job creation in the U.S., and it should not be neglected by the president. According to Sandalow, a total of 250,000 people in the country are now working in the photovoltaic generation industry.

A report by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that 1.1 million people in the U.S. were engaged in traditional energy industries in 2016, while 0.8 million were in the low-carbon energy sector. Workers in solar energy and wind power respectively increased by 25 and 32 percent over the past year. In addition, wind turbine generation is now the fastest-growing industry in the U.S.