"But they knew in their hearts that once science had declared a thing possible, there was no escape from its eventual realization..."
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SpaceX’s unmatched streak of perfection with the Falcon 9 rocket is over

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Numerous pieces of ice fell off the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket during its climb into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

Enlarge / Numerous pieces of ice fell off the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket during its climb into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. (credit: SpaceX)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket suffered an upper stage engine failure and deployed a batch of Starlink Internet satellites into a perilously low orbit after launch from California Thursday night, the first blemish on the workhorse launcher's record in more than 300 missions since 2016.

Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, posted on X that the rocket's upper stage engine failed when it attempted to reignite nearly an hour after the Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, at 7:35 pm PDT (02:35 UTC).

Frosty evidence

After departing Vandenberg to begin SpaceX's Starlink 9-3 mission, the rocket's reusable first stage booster propelled the Starlink satellites into the upper atmosphere, then returned to Earth for an on-target landing on a recovery ship parked in the Pacific Ocean. A single Merlin Vacuum engine on the rocket's second stage fired for about six minutes to reach a preliminary orbit.

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Peer review is essential for science. Unfortunately, it’s broken.

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Peer review is essential for science. Unfortunately, it’s broken.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Rescuing Science: Restoring Trust in an Age of Doubt was the most difficult book I've ever written. I'm a cosmologist—I study the origins, structure, and evolution of the Universe. I love science. I live and breathe science. If science were a breakfast cereal, I'd eat it every morning. And at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I watched in alarm as public trust in science disintegrated.

But I don't know how to change people's minds. I don't know how to convince someone to trust science again. So as I started writing my book, I flipped the question around: is there anything we can do to make the institution of science more worthy of trust?

The short answer is yes. The long answer takes an entire book. In the book, I explore several different sources of mistrust—the disincentives scientists face when they try to communicate with the public, the lack of long-term careers, the complicitness of scientists when their work is politicized, and much more—and offer proactive steps we can take to address these issues to rebuild trust.

The section below is taken from a chapter discussing the relentless pressure to publish that scientists face, and the corresponding explosion in fraud that this pressure creates. Fraud can take many forms, from the "hard fraud" of outright fabrication of data, to many kinds of "soft fraud" that include plagiarism, manipulation of data, and careful selection of methods to achieve a desired result. The more that fraud thrives, the more that the public loses trust in science. Addressing this requires a fundamental shift in the incentive and reward structures that scientists work in. A difficult task to be sure, but not an impossible one—and one that I firmly believe will be worth the effort.

Modern science is hard, complex, and built from many layers and many years of hard work. And modern science, almost everywhere, is based on computation. Save for a few (and I mean very few) die-hard theorists who insist on writing things down with pen and paper, there is almost an absolute guarantee that with any paper in any field of science that you could possibly read, a computer was involved in some step of the process.

Whether it’s studying bird droppings or the collisions of galaxies, modern-day science owes its very existence—and continued persistence—to the computer. From the laptop sitting on an unkempt desk to a giant machine that fills up a room, “S. Transistor” should be the coauthor on basically all three million journal articles published every year.

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Partial automated driving systems don’t make driving safer, study finds

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A Nissan steering wheel with ProPILOT assist buttons on it

Enlarge / Nissan's ProPilot Assist was one of two partially automated driving systems to be studied for crash safety improvements. (credit: Nissan)

Driver assists that help steer for you on the highway haven't contributed much to road safety, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. That's in contrast to other features often bundled together as "advanced driver assistance systems," or ADAS, many of which have shown a marked reduction in crash and claim rates.

"Everything we’re seeing tells us that partial automation is a convenience feature like power windows or heated seats rather than a safety technology," said David Harkey, IIHS president.

However, we should note that, as a follow-up to a pair of earlier studies published in 2021, the new research by IIHS and HLDI focused on two older partially automated driving systems, model-year 2017–2019 Nissan Rogues with ProPilot Assist and model year 2013–2017 BMWs with Driving Assistant Plus.

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Samsung Joins The 60 TB SSD Club, Looking Forward To 120 TB Drives

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Multiple companies offer high-capacity SSDs, but until recently, only two companies offered high-performance 60 TB-class drives with a PCIe interface: Solidigm and Western Digital. As our colleagues from Blocks & Files discovered, Samsung quietly rolled out its BM1743 61.44 TB solid-state drive in mid-June and now envisions 120 TB-class SSDs based on the same platform.

Samsung's BM1743 61.44 TB features a proprietary controller and relies on Samsung's 7th Generation V-NAND (3D NAND) QLC memory. Moreover, Samsung believes that its 7th Gen V-NAND 'has the potential to accommodate up to 122.88 TB,' 

Samsung plans to offer the BM1743 in two form factors: U.2 for PCIe 4.0 x4 to address traditional servers and E3.S for PCIe 5.0 x4 interfaces to address machines designed to offer maximum storage density. BM1743 can address various applications, including AI training and inference, content delivery networks, and read-intensive workloads. To that end, its write endurance is 0.26 drive writes per day (DWPD) over five years.

Regarding performance, Samsung's BM1743 is hardly a champion compared to high-end drives for gaming machines and workstations. The drive can sustainably achieve sequential read speeds of 7,200 MB/s and write speeds of 2,000 MB/s. It can handle up to 1.6 million 4K random reads and 110,000 4K random writes for random operations.

Power consumption details for the BM1743 have not been disclosed, though it is expected to be high. Meanwhile, the drive's key selling point is its massive storage density, which likely outweighs concerns over its absolute power efficiency for intended applications, as a 60 TB SSD still consumes less than multiple storage devices offering similar capacity and performance.

As noted above, Samsung's BM1743 61.44 TB faces limited competition in the market, so its price will be quite high. For example, Solidigm's D5-P5336 61.44 TB SSD costs $6,905. Other companies, such as Kioxia, Micron, and SK Hynix, have not yet introduced their 60TB-class SSDs, which gives Samsung and Solidigm an edge for now.

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CUDIMM Standard Set to Make Desktop Memory a Bit Smarter and a Lot More Robust

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While the new CAMM and LPCAMM memory modules for laptops have garnered a great deal of attention in recent months, it's not just the mobile side of the PC memory industry that is looking at changes. The desktop memory market is also coming due for some upgrades to further improve DIMM performance, in the form of a new DIMM variety called the Clocked Unbuffered DIMM (CUDIMM). And while this memory isn't in use quite yet, several memory vendors had their initial CUDIMM products on display at this year's Computex trade show, offering a glimpse into the future of desktop memory.

A variation on traditional Unbuffered DIMMs (UDIMMs), Clocked UDIMMs (and Clocked SODIMMs) have been created as another solution to the ongoing signal integrity challenges presented by DDR5 memory. DDR5 allows for rather speedy transfer rates with removable (and easily installed) DIMMs, but further performance increases are running up against the laws of physics when it comes to the electrical challenges of supporting memory on a stick – particularly with so many capacity/performance combinations like we see today. And while those challenges aren't insurmountable, if DDR5 (and eventually, DDR6) are to keep increasing in speed, some changes appear to be needed to produce more electrically robust DIMMs, which is giving rise to the CUDIMM.

Standardized by JEDEC earlier this year as JESD323, CUDIMMs tweak the traditional unbuffered DIMM by adding a clock driver (CKD) to the DIMM itself, with the tiny IC responsible for regenerating the clock signal driving the actual memory chips. By generating a clean clock locally on the DIMM (rather than directly using the clock from the CPU, as is the case today), CUDIMMs are designed to offer improved stability and reliability at high memory speeds, combating the electrical issues that would otherwise cause reliability issues at faster memory speeds. In other words, adding a clock driver is the key to keeping DDR5 operating reliably at high clockspeeds.

All told, JEDEC is proposing that CUDIMMs be used for DDR5-6400 speeds and higher, with the first version of the specification covering speeds up to DDR5-7200. The new DIMMs will also be drop-in compatible with existing platforms (at least on paper), using the same 288-pin connector as today's standard DDR5 UDIMM and allowing for a relatively smooth transition towards higher DDR5 clockspeeds.

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Uber and Aurora announce ‘long-term’ driverless truck deal after successful pilot

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Uber and Aurora driverless trucks
Photo: Aurora

Uber’s freight hauling business will use Aurora’s driverless trucks on routes between Dallas and Houston as part of a new “long-term” deal that builds on a three-year-old commercial pilot.

Uber Freight will be one of Aurora’s first customers on the Texas route launching later this year. Launched in 2017, Uber Freight connects truck drivers with shippers, much in the same way the company’s ridehailing app pairs drivers with those looking for a ride.

Aurora, which was founded by former executives from Google, Uber, and Tesla, has said it plans to deploy 20 fully autonomous trucks this year. When it does, those trucks will be hauling goods for Uber Freight customers.

The two companies are also launching a program called Premier Autonomy, which enables carriers an “early and streamlined” way to access the Aurora Driver, which is the branding used by the company to describe its driverless technology. Aurora is offering its customers access to its Aurora Driver tech through a subscription, rather than trying to own and operate its own fleet of trucks.

Premier Autonomy members will also get “access to over 1 billion driverless miles through 2030” as well as “seamless integration” of the Aurora Driver into the Uber Freight platform. Aurora president Ossa Fisher said in a statement that the program will give “hundreds” of carriers access to driverless trucks that might not otherwise have it.

Of course, Uber and Aurora have numerous ties. Drew Bagnell, former head of Uber’s autonomy and perception team, was one of the three co-founders of Aurora. The ridehailing company had been developing its own self-driving truck as part of its larger investment in autonomous technology but later was forced to off-load it to Aurora. Ballooning costs, plus the tragedy in Arizona when an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian, forced Uber to pull the plug on its AV project.

Previously, Uber Freight said it would work with Alphabet’s Waymo on deploying driverless trucks, but the Google spinoff has since scaled back its trucking division and is now relying on manufacturing partners like Daimler to spearhead its ambitions. Aurora is also working with several other partners, including Volvo and Continental.

Aurora has avoided a lot of the negative press of its robotaxi peers, mostly by staying below the radar. Still, the company is struggling to right its finances. Aurora reported a net loss of $165 million in the first quarter of 2024, which is a 16 percent improvement over the same period the year before.

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