China introduces ‘social’ punishments for scientific misconduct


Offending researchers could face restrictions on jobs, loans and business opportunities under a system tied to the controversial social credit policy.

 

Xi Jinping smiles during a state banquet at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila on November 20, 2018

Chinese president Xi Jinping has said people who lose trust in one area of society should face restrictions in other areas.

Researchers in China who commit scientific misconduct could soon be prevented from getting a bank loan, running a company or applying for a public-service job. The government has announced an extensive punishment system that could have significant consequences for offenders — far beyond their academic careers.

Under the new policy, dozens of government agencies will have the power to hand out penalties to those caught committing major scientific misconduct, a role previously performed by the science ministry or universities. Errant researchers could also face punishments that have nothing to do with research, such as restrictions on jobs outside academia, as well as existing misconduct penalties, such as losing grants and awards.

“Almost all aspects of daily life for the guilty scientists could be affected,” says Chen Bikun, who studies scientific evaluation systems at Nanjing University of Science and Technology.

The policy, announced last month, is an extension of the country’s controversial ‘social credit system’, where failure to comply with the rules of one government agency can mean facing restrictions or penalties from other agencies.

The punishment overhaul is the government’s latest measure to crack down on misconduct. But the nature and extent of the policy has surprised many researchers. “I have never seen such a comprehensive list of penalties for research misconduct elsewhere in the world,” says Chien Chou, a scientific integrity education researcher at Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

Although some penalties for misconduct existed before the new policy — research programmes can be suspended; offenders can be barred from promotions — drawing them together under one framework makes them much more powerful, says Yang Wei, the former head of the National Science Foundation of China who is now a researcher at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

“This sends a clear signal that curbing misconduct should go beyond the academic community or individual morality. Legal punishment can be also applied,” says Li Tang, who studies science policy at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Whether the system will reduce misconduct will depend on how it is enforced, say some researchers. Others, including Chen, are certain it will work. “Without doubt, it will be effective,” he says.

Big brother

The social credit system, which was introduced in 2014, has had a large effect on life in the country. Failure to pay debts or fines can be recorded on the system’s website and lead to restrictions when applying for a credit card, insurance, or even train tickets.

As of April, the number of times people were denied airline tickets as a result of the system reached 11 million, and train tickets were denied on 4.2 million occasions. More than two million people have paid debts or fines after facing these restrictions.

President Xi Jinping described the rational for the system at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party in 2016 as: “Lose trust in one area, face restrictions everywhere.”

The new misconduct policy also refers to “loss of trust”. And those who commit scientific misconduct will now be named and shamed on the social credit system’s website.

Misconduct focus

Chinese leaders have been increasingly focused on scientific misconduct, following ongoing reports of researchers there using fraudulent data, falsifying CVs and faking peer reviews. In May, the government announced sweeping reforms to improve research integrity. One of those was the creation of a national database of misconduct cases. Inclusion on the list could disqualify researchers from future funding or research positions, and might affect their ability to get jobs outside academia.

The punishment system appears to chime with that goal. “It shows that China takes research integrity very seriously,” says Max Lu, a chemical engineer and president of the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK, , who has previously advised the Chinese government on science policy.

Lu thinks the system’s success will depend on how it is enforced. “There is always the risk of lacking the necessary resources and qualified managers for enforcing the very draconian and large number of rules,” he says.

Tang says the government is likely to focus on punishing the most egregious cases first, such as repeat offenders, those whose fraud creates a social uproar, and those whose fraud has major consequences. “This is such a daunting task that the government will start with a few major misconducts,” she says.

But the government needs to define what actions constitute major research misconduct, and how penalties will apply, says Chou. “It should be clear for researchers,” she says.

Addressing misconduct in China will also require more than punishments, says Tang. Educating researchers, particularly those in the early stages of their career, will also help cultivate an ethical research system, she says. Mandatory courses on research integrity are becoming more common, but more could be done, she says. “Educating lab PIs and younger generations is extremely important,” she says.

“This is a timely and resolute policy that will no doubt strengthen the whole ecosystem of science and research in China,” says Lu. He thinks other countries may look to the punishment system as an example of how to enforce responsible research conduct.

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China is reportedly building a $2 billion AI park as it looks to become a world leader in the field


xi jinpingXi Jinping, the president of China.
  • China is reportedly building a new artificial intelligence (AI) park in west Beijing.
  • The park is being built by a state-owned developer called Zhongguancun Development Group.
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin believes that in the future, the country that leads in AI could dominate the world.

The Chinese government is building a $2 billion (£1.5 billion) artificial intelligence (AI) research park as it looks to become a world leader in the field by 2025, Reuters reports , citing local news agency Xinhua.

The AI research park – to be located in west Beijing – will reportedly be able to accommodate 400 companies and that are expected to generate 50 billion yuan (£5.6 billion) each year.

The park’s developer, state-owned Zhongguancun Development Group, is hoping to partner with foreign universities and build a “national-level” AI lab in the area, according to Reuters. It will reportedly aim to attract companies working on big data, biometric identification, deep learning, and cloud computing.

The AI race could cause tensions

Russian president Vladimir Putin believes that in the future, the country that leads in AI could dominate the world, while tech billionaire Elon Musk thinks AI will be the most likely cause of WWIII  (although his comments should be taken with a pinch of salt).

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, warned in November that China is poised to overtake the US in the field of AI if the US government doesn’t act soon.

Speaking at the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit, the former Google CEO said: “Trust me, these Chinese people are good.”

He added: “They are going to use this technology for both commercial as well as military objectives with all sorts of implications.”

China published its AI strategy in July and said that it wanted to be the world leader in AI by 2025.

“It’s pretty simple,” said Schmidt, who claims to have read the report. “By 2020 they will have caught up. By 2025 they will be better than us. And by 2030 they will dominate the industries of AI. Just stop for a sec. The [Chinese] government said that.”

While the US has Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, OpenAI and others, China has its own enormous tech giants aggressively pursuing AI research. Examples include Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent, to name but a few.

China is building first ‘forest city’ of 40,000 trees to fight air pollution


Picture: STEFANO BOERI

In the wake of President Trump’s decision to remove America from the Paris Climate agreement, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little negative about the future of the planet.  

With reports of huge cracks appearing in the Antarctic ice, fears that preventing the two degree heating of the planet might be a pipe dream, and the world’s food supplies at risk – everything looks and sounds grim.

Fortunately though, there are some good news stories on the horizon; with many of them coming from China. The country has been leading the way when it comes to ‘green living’ in recent years, with the government announcing it had completed construction of the world’s largest floating solar farm. Now, in an attempt to curb the production of toxic gasses, the country is continuing to pave the way (so to speak) with the construction of one of the world’s first ‘forest cities’.

Designed by Stefano Boeri, who you might remember also designed two vertical skyscraper ‘forests’, the city is currently under construction in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province.

stefano-boeri-architetti-liuzhou-forest-city-view-4-1920x1152.jpg

Once completed, the new city will reportedly host 30,000 people and – thanks to the abundance of trees and plants – will absorb almost 10,000 tons of CO2, 57 tons of pollutants per year and produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen annually.

The city will achieve these rather impressive figures thanks to roughly a million plants from over 100 species, as well as 40,000 trees being planted in facades over almost every surface imaginable.

The new Liuzhou Forest City will connect to the existing Liuzhou via a series of fast rail services and electric cars; it will also reportedly house a number of schools and two hospitals. There are also plans to make the city self-sustainable with regards to power, thanks to geothermal and solar energy resources.

stefano-boeri-architetti-liuzhou-forest-city-human-view-1920x1200.jpg

Mr Boeri’s website states:

The diffusion of plants, not only in the parks and gardens or along the streets, but also over building facades, will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality (absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year), to decrease the average air temperature, to create noise barriers and to improve the biodiversity of living species, generating the habitat for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.

 

It’s hoped that this stunning looking creation will be completed by 2020.

Why China is Dominating the Solar Industry.


Between 2008 and 2013, China’s fledgling solar-electric panel industry dropped world prices by 80 percent, a stunning achievement in a fiercely competitive high-tech market. China had leapfrogged from nursing a tiny, rural-oriented solar program in the 1990s to become the globe’s leader in what may soon be the world’s largest renewable energy source.

“They fundamentally changed the economics of solar all over the world,” said Amit Ronen, director of the Solar Institute of George Washington University, one of many scholars following the intense competition in the emerging $100 billion industry that supports the world’s growing solar energy demands.

China’s move eclipsed the leadership of the U.S. solar industry, which invented the technology, still holds many of the world’s patents and led the industry for more than three decades. Just how China accomplished that and why it did is still a matter of concern and debate among U.S. experts.

One clear result is that the U.S. solar industry was hit hard by plunging prices and can no longer supply more than a third of rapidly growing U.S. appetite for solar panels, according to a recent Department of Energy report exploring “opportunities and challenges” of solar manufacturing.

China’s new dominance of nearly all aspects of solar use and manufacturing—markets that are predicted to expand by 13 percent a year, according to the report—came through a “unique, complex and interdependent set of circumstances” that is not likely to be repeated.

But if the United States innovates, cuts costs and nurtures newer technologies, it might emerge as the world’s second largest solar panel manufacturer by 2020, the report concludes.

The timeline of China’s rise began in the late 1990s when Germany, overwhelmed by the domestic response to a government incentive program to promote rooftop solar panels, provided the capital, technology and experts to lure China into making solar panels to meet the German demand.

“The Chinese took it and basically ran with it,” said Donald Chung, one of the authors of the DOE report, who studies the solar industry for DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

AN INDUSTRY PROPELLED BY TAX CREDITS

China, according to Chung, had “dabbled” in solar energy only as a source of electricity to help impoverished rural areas remote from its power grid. But then some of its pioneering companies became intrigued by the income that manufacturing solar panels for export to Germany might bring in. When Spain and Italy began their own rapidly expanding solar incentives, adding to the demand, China began scouring the world, hiring more solar experts and shopping for machinery and polysilicon supplies to meet the expected surge of orders for solar panels.

According to some veterans in the U.S. solar industry, China bought solar companies and invited others to move to China, where they found cheap, skilled labor. Instead of paying taxes, they received tax credits.

Chung notes that China’s government was also generous in other ways. Making solar panels is difficult. To make them efficiently, the business requires large, semiautomated factories.

“It is not easy to add small bits of capacity to meet growing demands; you have to add it in big chunks,” he said. He called it a “yo-yo effect” that tends to create more and more capacity. That made solar still more attractive to China.

China’s solar companies have shareholders who want profits, Chung said. But the government “has other constituencies that are demanding jobs and factories to be put up.” That pressure came from provincial and local governments that found, according to DOE, that the federal government was willing to chip in as much as $47 billion to help build its solar manufacturing into what it calls a “strategic industry.”

Expanding renewable energy became one of seven categories of business that receive special attention including loans and tax incentives under China’s five-year plans.

The result was that in building up the world’s largest solar manufacturing industry, one that became the price leader in most aspects of the world’s market—beginning with cheaper solar panels—China had helped create a worldwide glut. There were roughly two panels being made for every one being ordered by an overseas customer.

According to Ronen, the expert from George Washington University, China then decided to follow Germany’s lead again, developing its own “feed-in tariff” that paid handsome prices for electricity generated by rooftop solar. The result was a surge in domestic demand for solar.

The demand was so great that in two years, by 2015, China’s domestic market bypassed Germany’s to be the largest in the world.

China tried to reduce the subsidy this year by setting a deadline for ending it, but that spurred another surge in domestic buying. “China put in 20 gigawatts in the first half of this year. The entire U.S. capacity is around 31 GW. The Chinese market appears enormous,” said Ronen.

‘THEY THINK THEY CAN WIPE OUT ALL THE COMPETITION’

China dominates the solar market in PV installation as well as total installed capacity, with the United States a distant third and fourth, respectively. Photo courtesy of the International Energy Agency.

U.S. experts are divided on where China’s policies on solar energy appear to be headed. Some think it’s a matter of government policies that ran out of control. After spending 30 years in the U.S. solar industry and in DOE watching solar markets, Ken Zweibel has recently retired, but he worries that there may be more to it than that. He calls it “black box economics.”

“If there was ever a situation where the Chinese have put their whole governmental system behind manufacturing, it’s got to be solar modules,” Zweibel said. “I think they think they can wipe out all the competition in the world. It makes all kinds of sense if you have the staying power.”

Wyatt Metzger, a principal scientist at NREL, takes a more benign view. “They have a centralized government and terrible pollution problems. They understand the need to get away from coal and to invest in clean energy,” he said.

Whatever the reasoning was behind China’s massive investment in solar module manufacturing, the impact on its U.S. competitors has not been benign. SunEdison of Belmont, Calif., filed for bankruptcy in April. The stocks of two other leading companies, First Solar and SunPower, were in the triple digits a decade ago. Now they are treading water, floating between 13 and 6 percent of their former values.

“[W]hat’s left of the solar universe is showing severe signs of stress, and given the tricky accounting and the prevalence of China-based companies among the panelmakers, that stress may very well be understated,” wrote Jim Collins in a recent market analysis for Forbesmagazine.

“People tend to view negatively that China has taken over [solar] module market share,” said David Mooney, director of NREL’s strategic energy analysis center. “It would have been better if that capacity had stayed in the U.S.”

“Another side of the coin, from my perspective,” he said, is 250,000 American jobs in the solar panel assembly, installation and maintenance business, many of which wouldn’t have happened without the push from China that dramatically lowered solar module prices.

“Those jobs can’t be outsourced,” he said.

COULD CHINA CREATE A GLOBAL GRID?

Moreover, China’s plan for the global growth of the solar market is still a work in progress. In October, Liu Zhenya, former chairman of China’s state-owned power company, State Grid Corp., came to the United Nations to shed more light on his nation’s evolving solar ambitions, which he said are part of a plan aimed at organizing a global power grid that could transmit 80 percent renewable energy by 2050.

He calls his idea the Global Energy Interconnection. His speech invited U.N. support for a new international group to plan and build the grid. It’s called the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), and China has named Liu its chairman. He ticked off the reasons for a global grid that would transmit solar, wind and hydroelectric-generated power from places on Earth where they are abundant to major population centers, where they are often not.

He gave three reasons for his new mission. Expanding energy demands will exhaust coal, oil and natural gas supplies over the next 110 years. Environmental pollution from fossil fuels will exacerbate serious pollution and health problems. And world leaders need a mechanism to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by half to prevent a potential 4-degree-Celsius rise in the Earth’s average temperature, a possibility that Liu called “seriously threatening human survival.”

His grid’s development would take shape in three phases. First, Liu explained, individual nations would redesign their own power electric grids. He noted that China’s effort is already underway, generating 140 GW of wind power and 70 GW of solar power, “more than that of any country of the world.” By completing a network of long-distance, high-voltage direct-current power lines to move renewable power from the north to the south and from the east to the west, China could finish its new grid by 2025, he predicted.

The second phase, Liu described, would be an international effort to build regional grids that would be able to transmit substantially more power across national borders in Northeast and Southeast Asia, between Africa and Eurasia, and between nations in both North and South America. The third phase would build power lines and undersea cables that would connect the regional grids. The upshot would create what he called a “win-win situation” by generating clean electricity in places like Africa and Central America that are among the richest when it comes to sunshine, and selling the clean energy to major cities that have the biggest need for it.

The process would also bring more energy and energy-generating income to poorer nations, to help them develop. “In the Americas, we will speed up the development of Canada’s hydropower and clean energy in southwestern and central U.S. and northern Mexico to be delivered to load [demand] centers in [the] East and West coasts of North America,” he said.

There would be plenty of work for “all global players” to coordinate the effort, to share and innovate new technology, and to develop global standards and rules for cooperation, Liu promised. He closed his U.N. presentation with a glimpse of a future world where a combination of renewable energy, a network of high-voltage direct-current transmission lines and “smart grid” operating systems can serve the planet the way the human “blood-vascular system” serves the human body.

When the global grid is completed, “the world will turn into a peaceful and harmonious global village with sufficient energy, green lands and blue sky,” he predicted.

Just how much harmony China’s GEIDCO proposal might generate remains to be seen, but a U.N. press release noted that the meeting was attended by representatives of 70 organizations, including government organizations, businesses and universities. The U.S. delegation included people from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and Stanford University. During his visit to the United States, Liu also met separately with representatives of the Electric Power Research Institute, which serves American utilities.

How China is sending man back to the Moon to mine safe nuclear power and become the world’s energy giant


The Night Sky in March: The lunar surface is rich in helium-3, perhaps the most valuable substances in nature, one that could provide energy for the world

China's first lunar rover after it landed on the moon back in 2013

The China space programme’s first lunar rover landed on the Moon in 2013

Can we mine the Moon? It seems imperative to do so.

The space-faring nations have ignored the 1979 outer space treaty, and last year America’s Space Act removed legal obstacles to extra terrestrial activity, and many people are gearing up to mine one of the most valuable substances that occurs in nature.

Apollo 12, November 1969: astronaut-photographer Charles "Pete" Conrad takes a self-portrait while documenting colleague Alan Bean's lunar soil collection activities on the Oceanus Procellarum

Apollo 12, November 1969: astronaut-photographer Charles “Pete” Conrad takes a self-portrait while documenting colleague Alan Bean’s lunar soil collection activities on the Oceanus Procellarum 

This extraordinary substance is the isotope helium-3, invaluable in ensuring the safety of nuclear power stations on Earth, and providing an all-powerful rocket fuel.

It is rare on Earth, being blown away by the solar wind. It is found in Troclotite, a metal of magnesium and iron, again rare but plentiful in the Moon’s crust.

Apollo 17 at Shorty Crater

Apollo 17 at Shorty Crater: astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, the last men to walk on the moon. They returned from their December 1972 mission with 110kg of rock and soil samples 

All nuclear power plants react to produce heat. This turns water into steam that drives a turbine. Current nuclear power plants have nuclear fission reactors to split uranium . This releases energy, but also radioactive nuclear waste that must be stored indefinitely. For over 40 years scientists have been trying to achieve this.

But there are around a million tons of helium-3 on the moon’s surface down to a few metres. This helium-3 could be extracted by heating the lunar dust to around 1,200 degrees F before bringing it back to the Earth to fuel a new generation of nuclear fusion power plants.

A fully-loaded spaceship’s cargo base could power a quarter of the world for a year. This means that helium-3 has a potential economic value in the order of about £1 billion a ton, making it the Moon’s most valuable commodity except perhaps for astronomy and promoting tourism.

China’s lunar exploration programme is proceeding fast, strongly attracted by the prospect of helium-3 mining. In 2013 China managed to land a lunar robot lander. The final stage of their current programme intends sending a robotic craft to the Moon that will return lunar rocks to the Earth.

‘What use are these so-called moons?’

Returning to the present, there are wonderful things to see in the winter night sky. The Milky Way itself is a marvel of strange nebulousness. No wonder some ancient Greeks thought it was milk, not a vast mass of billions of stars.

Another is the four moons of Jupiter. Look up at the striped, monstrous giant to see its four biggest moons in their extraordinary variety; Io, with its many active volcanoes; Europa, with an ocean beneath its ice, not to mention asteroid-battered Callisto and Ganymede.

Io: Jupiter moon

The volcanic moon of Io orbits the massive gas giant planet Jupiter  

Their discovery by Galileo around 1610 literally created observational astronomy, and was perhaps one of the greatest achievements in science. A tragedy that his labour produced scoffs and contempt in many quarters (“what use are these so-called moons?”) someone jeered. With his condemnation by the Inquisition, they did much to damage Italian science.

Then there are those two dazzling gems of the north, the Pleiades, with its probable unpleasant effects on Earth’s climate during the last few million years; and the Whirlpool Galaxy, first studied by the 3rd Earl of Ross in 1840 through his 36-inch telescope at Birr Castle in Ireland.

Pleiades star cluster

The Pleiades star cluster (far right) 400 light-years away and around 15 light-years across. Left: the California Nebula  

And one can hardly do a survey of this kind without mentioning the blazing stars of Orion still visible in mid-winter. It is difficult to imagine objects more awe-inspiring.

The current tremendous formation of the Sun’s planets have already been reported, and there is little I can to enhance these great impressions.

The Night Sky chart for March 2016

The Night Sky chart March 2016  

China’s Planning A Massive Sea Lab 10,000 Feet Underwater


IN BRIEF

China is planning to build an enormous underwater lab for research purposes; however, the country notes that “it will carry some military functions.”

China plans to build a huge sea lab 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) below the surface of the South China Sea. This project is part is China’s thirteenth five-year economic plan, and it is ranked two in the country’s top 100 science and technology priorities. The purpose of this project is to help China find minerals in the waters…but it may also have military purposes.

Only a little information is available for the public as of the moment.

The platform will be movable, as noted in the recent presentation by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The deep-sea station is spearheaded by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. It will have a dozen crew on board and could stay underwater for about a month.

So. Just how feasible is this? Well, general location faces both geological and technical challenges, such as frequent occurrence of typhoons. The area is estimated to have around 125 billion barrels of oil and around 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. China already spent 1.42 trillion yuan ($216 billion) on research and development in 2015. So they are investing big in the project.

Notably, China previously proved that they can live up to their deepsea ambitions by setting a world record when they sent their submersible Jiaolong to descend 7 kilometers (23,000 feet) into the Indian Ocean.

Interestingly, the “Underwater Great Wall Project,” a network of sensors to help detect US and Russian submarines, has also been proposed.

China launches manned mission to experimental space station


China launched a pair of astronauts into space on Monday on a mission to dock with an experimental space station and remain aboard for 30 days in preparation for the start of operations by a full-bore facility six years from now.

The Shenzhou 11 mission took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China at 7:30 a.m. (2330 GMT) aboard a Long March-2F carrier rocket.

It will dock with the Tiangong 2 space station precursor facility within two days, conduct experiments in medicine and various space-related technologies, and test systems and processes in preparation for the launching of the station’s core module in 2018.

Chinese astronauts Jin Haipeng (left) and Chen Dong 
Launch party: Chinese astronauts Jin Haipeng (left) and Chen Dong 
 Space program commander-in-chief Gen. Zhang Youxia declared the launch a success at 7:46 a.m. (2346 GMT). Defense Minister Fan Changlong then read a congratulatory message from President Xi Jinping calling for China’s astronauts to explore space “more deeply and more broadly.”

Premier Li Keqiang and propaganda chief Liu Yunshan visited the Beijing control centre to congratulate staff. It is the sixth time China has launched astronauts into space and the duration will be the longest by far.

The Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying China's Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, takes off 
The Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying China’s Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, takes off  

Following the attachment of two experiment modules, the completed station is set to begin full operations in 2022 and will run for at least a decade.

An earlier Tiangong 1 experimental space station launched in 2011 went out of service in March after docking with three visiting spacecraft and extending its mission for two years. The Tiangong, or “Heavenly Palace,” stations are considered stepping stones to a mission to Mars by the end of the decade.

The Shenzhou 11 astronauts are Jing Haipeng, who is flying his third mission, and 37-year-old Chen Dong.

“It is any astronaut’s dream and pursuit to be able to perform many space missions,” Jing, who turns 50 during his time in space, told a briefing Sunday.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so, and has since staged a spacewalk and landed its Yutu rover on the moon. Administrators suggest a crewed landing on the moon may also be in the program’s future.

China was prevented from participating in the International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. concerns over the Chinese space program’s strongly military character. Chinese officials are now looking to internationalise their own program by offering to help finance other countries’ missions to Tiangong 2.

Quantum teleportation was just achieved over more than 7 km of city fibre


It’s getting real.

Quantum teleportation just moved out of the lab and into the real world, with two independent teams of scientists successfully sending quantum information across several kilometres of optical fibre networks in Calgary, Canada, and Hefei, China.

The experiments show that not only is quantum teleportation very much real, it’s also feasible technology that could one day help us build unhackable quantum communication systems that stretch across cities and maybe even continents.

Quantum teleportation relies on a strange phenomenon called quantum entanglement. Basically, quantum entanglement means that two particles are inextricably linked, so that measuring the state of one immediately affects the state of the other, no matter how far apart the two are – which led Einstein to call entanglement “spooky action at a distance“.

Using that property, quantum teleportation allows the quantum state of one particle to be transferred to its partner, no matter the distance between the two, without anything physical passing between them.

That’s not like the teleportation you see in sci-fi shows like Star Trek – only information can be sent via quantum teleportation, not people.

What it is, though, is a great way to create an unhackable, totally encrypted form of communication – just imagine receiving information that can only be interpreted once you know the state of your entangled particle.

In the latest experiments, both published in Nature Photonics (here and here), the teams had slightly different set-ups and results. But what they both had in common is the fact that they teleported their information across existing optical fibre networks – which is important if we ever want to build useable quantum communication systems.

In fact, quantum teleportation has been achieved over greater distances in the past – in 2012, researchers from Austria set a record by teleporting information across 143 km of space using lasers, but that technology isn’t as useful for practical networks as optical fibre.

To understand the experiments, Anil Ananthaswamy over at New Scientist nicely breaks it down like this: picture three people involved – Alice, Bob, and Charlie.

Alice and Bob want to share cryptographic keys, and to do that, they need Charlie’s help. Alice sends a particle to Charlie, while Bob entangles two particles and sends just one of them to Charlie.

Charlie then measures the two particles he’s received from each of them, so that they can no longer be differentiated – and that results in the quantum state of Alice’s particle being transferred to Bob’s entangled particle.

So basically, the quantum state of Alice’s particle eventually ends up in Bob’s particle, via a way station in the form of Charlie.

The Canadian experiment followed this same process, and was able to send quantum information over 6.2 km of Calgary’s fibre optic network that’s not regularly in use.

“The distance between Charlie and Bob, that’s the distance that counts,” lead researcher of the Canadian experiment, Wolfgang Tittel, from the University of Calgary in Alberta, told New Scientist“We have shown that this works across a metropolitan fibre network, over 6.2 kilometres, as the crow flies.”

The Chinese researchers were able to extend their teleportation further, over a 12.5 km area, but they had a slightly different set-up. It was Charlie in the middle who created the entangled particles and sent one to Bob, instead of the other way around.

This resulted in more accurate communication, and could work best for a quantum network where a central quantum computer (Charlie) communicates with lots of Alices and Bobs around a city. But the Calgary model could spread even greater distances, because Bob could work like a quantum repeater, sending the information further and further down the line.

The downside to both experiments was that they couldn’t send very much information. The Calgary experiment was the fastest, managing to send just 17 photons a minute.

And while many people assume that quantum teleportation would result in faster communication, in reality, decrypting the quantum state of the entangled particle requires a key, which needs to be sent via regular, slow communication – so quantum teleportation wouldn’t actually be any faster than the internet we already have, just more secure.

But the fact that both teams were able to use existing telecommunications infrastructure to achieve such long-distance teleportation at all is a huge deal – and something that hasn’t been done outside of the lab before.

It’s going to take a lot more tweaking and investigation before it’s something that we can use in our daily lives, but we’re definitely getting closer.

China Wants to Control What You Watch


Imagine if a political party announced a new system of control over Hollywood that banned any negative portrayals of that party, and any negative portrayals of its police force or military. Imagine if it also banned positive portrayals of religion or any depiction of the supernatural, and if it banned any films that showed people violating its laws.

America's dream factory is coming under new management, as key Hollywood businesses are bought, and studios are enticed by the Chinese market to self-censor. (Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock)

Hollywood is actually already following all of these requirements. But it’s not doing this on behalf of any U.S. political party. Rather, it is censoring movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in hopes of getting films into the Chinese market. And these films altered to appease the Chinese regime are often the same ones being shown in U.S. theaters.

Chinese companies are now buying key businesses in the American film industry, while many American filmmakers are partnering directly with Chinese companies and working directly with CCP offices to censor and alter their films. The CCP is now gaining control over what Hollywood can and cannot produce.

The stated interest of Chinese leaders in influencing Hollywood goes far beyond mere censorship and profit. They are waging a cultural war, and their victims are American viewers and the creative freedom of an American icon.
Hollywood is America’s dream factory. More than any other cultural form, it shapes the American imagination. It gives us common ground for a national conversation, and, to a significant degree, our national character is formed through the medium of popular film. And now the CCP is inserting itself directly into the making of the stories we use to understand ourselves.

Perception Management
According to an Oct. 28, 2015, report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), “China views film as a component of social control,” and notes that when it comes to Chinese policies for regulating content in films, “the CCP’s concerns are positioned above all other interests.”

This position can be seen clearly in some of the films that have been censored or blocked due to the CCP’s systems of control.

[‘Men in Black 3′ was] forced to cut a scene in which civilians’ memories are erased, a scene that a Chinese newspaper wrote may have been perceived as a commentary on China’s internet censorship policies.
— US-China Economic and Security Review Commission
The 2013 film “Captain Phillips” features Tom Hanks as an American cargo ship captain who is rescued from Somali pirates by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs. The report states the CCP blocked it from being shown in China “because of the film’s positive portrayal of the United States and U.S. military.”

Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi promote the film “Captain Phillips” in Los Angeles in September 2013.
Tom Hanks (L) and Barkhad Abdi promote the film “Captain Phillips” in Los Angeles in September 2013. The movie was unable to appear in China, because it portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light. (Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Sony)
A scene in the 2006 film “Mission: Impossible 3,” starring Tom Cruise, showed clothes drying on a clothesline in Shanghai. It was removed from Chinese screenings, the report states, “because it was not a positive portrayal of Shanghai, despite the fact that the film was partially shot in Shanghai, where many people do not own dryers.”

The report notes the 2012 film “Men in Black 3” was “forced to cut a scene in which civilians’ memories are erased, a scene that a Chinese newspaper wrote may have been perceived as a commentary on China’s internet censorship policies.”

A list of similar cases could go on for some time, and could include the 2010 film “Karate Kid,” which, despite being made with heavy CCP oversight, ran into trouble because its villain was Chinese; and a 3-D release of the 1985 film “Top Gun,” which was rejected, the report states, “because it portrayed U.S. military dominance.”

According to Amar Manzoor, author of “The Art of Industrial Warfare,” the CCP’s use of films can be understood as similar to the way a company promotes its brand while attacking that of its key rival.

Manzoor used the 2014 film “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as an example. The action film featured at least 10 Chinese product placements—from real estate companies to computers to wine. He said, “From the media side they were looking for a Chinese presence within the American film industry, because they can get better penetration with American films than they can with just Chinese films.”

It plays into the broader idea, Manzoor said, that if you infiltrate a high-class culture, and place yourself in a perceived favorable position alongside it, it has the effect of improving the image of your own brand.

The CCP’s “brand” is one of human rights abuses, censorship, shoddy products, espionage, and authoritarian rule, but through censoring film, the Party aims at skewing international perceptions in its favor. It forces Hollywood not to show any of these negative elements and instead to give China a false, positive image. And it also forbids Hollywood films from giving a positive portrayal of the United States, the Chinese regime’s main competitor.

The best arts cause us to question, to think. They motivate us to consider new options, and the communists don’t want that.
— Ronald J. Rychlak, professor, University of Mississippi School of Law
According to Ronald J. Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, authoritarian regimes have been using films for political gain since the early 20th century.

“The entertainment industry is tremendously influential—go back and look at how the Soviets controlled movie theaters and ballet. The Nazis did the same thing,” Rychlak said.

Rychlak is well versed in the topic. He co-wrote the book “Disinformation” with Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official to ever defect to the West, and details tactics used by communist regimes to create false narratives and alter perspectives.

“The best arts cause us to question, to think,” Rychlak said. “They motivate us to consider new options, and the communists don’t want that.

“Artists may talk about the power of art, but totalitarians really understand the power of art, because they abuse it.”

A System for Control
The filmmakers of “Iron Man 3” took many steps to appease the CCP, which included them creating additional scenes and locations in the Chinese version that featured Chinese actors and Chinese locations.
Hollywood has been open to the CCP’s censorship because it believes there is a golden opportunity in the China market.

The CCP manipulates Hollywood’s desire to cooperate by limiting how many foreign films are allowed in, a quota system that violates the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Only 34 Western films may be shown in China each year, and so the Western studios are made to compete with one another for the CCP’s favor.

While SAPPRFT’s authority is intentionally broad, its mandate specifically includes provisions protecting the interests of the CCP.
— US-China Economic and Security Review Commission
The terms of entrance are strict. Hollywood must choose between getting a 25 percent cut of box office sales or selling their films to the CCP at a set price. The films are chosen by the Chinese state agency in charge of film censorship known as the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).

“While SAPPRFT’s authority is intentionally broad, its mandate specifically includes provisions protecting the interests of the CCP,” states the report, noting that the agency’s director, “like all SAPPRFT officials,” is a member of the CCP “with a long career as a propagandist.”

Eligibility for one of these 34 film slots, meanwhile, is a bit like Russian roulette, since the CCP isn’t consistent about what film content it allows and what it rejects. This leads filmmakers to go beyond the CCP’s surface-level standards and make more direct attempts to appease Chinese censors.

Leaked emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment exposed some of the thinking behind studios’ alterations to fit the CCP’s liking. According to a July 2015 report from Reuters, Sony executives removed a scene of the Great Wall being damaged and of a “Communist-conspiracy brother” hacker in the 2015 film “Pixels” because they feared the scenes would impact the film’s eligibility for the Chinese market. Scenes showing the Washington Monument, the Taj Mahal, and parts of Manhattan being destroyed were left in.

Chinese actor Wang Xueqi, who stars in the Chinese release of “Iron Man 3”, with an actor posing as Iron Man in front of Beijing’s old city gate during the promotion of the film. (DMG Entertainment)
Chinese actor Wang Xueqi, who stars in the Chinese release of “Iron Man 3”, with an actor posing as Iron Man in front of Beijing’s old city gate during the promotion of the film. (DMG Entertainment)
“Even though breaking a hole in the Great Wall may not be a problem as long as it is part of a worldwide phenomenon, it is actually unnecessary because it will not benefit the China release at all. I would, then, recommend not to do it,” wrote Li Chow, chief representative of Sony Pictures in China, in a December 2013 email to senior Sony executives, according to Reuters.

Other films have taken similar measures. The 2012 film “Red Dawn” originally featured Chinese communists invading the United States, but this was changed to North Koreans.

Hollywood has another path to the China market besides self-censorship: working directly with Chinese companies on the films and granting CCP officials with SAPPRFT more direct oversight of the filmmaking process. Taking this approach means the films aren’t classified as foreign films.

The coproductions come with additional requirements, however. According to the USCC report, these can include “having at least one scene shot in China, casting at least one Chinese actor, receiving a minimum one-third of the movie’s total investment from Chinese companies, and, in general, illustrating ‘positive Chinese elements.’”

The 2013 film “Iron Man 3,” for which Disney partnered with China’s DMG Entertainment Group, took this approach. The filmmakers took heavy steps to appease the CCP, such as creating additional scenes and locations in the Chinese version that featured Chinese actors and Chinese locations. They also cast British actor Ben Kingsley as the villain named The Mandarin, a character that is Chinese in the comic books the film is based on.

If you’ve started to notice that Hollywood films are increasingly showing the United States in a negative light, as well as opposing religion and praising the Chinese regime, you’re not imagining things—these are requirements that the CCP has placed on Hollywood, and most major studios are following these requirements in order to get a spot in Chinese theaters.

And with Chinese companies on a spree of buying or partnering with foreign film assets, these forms of censorship could soon become even more prevalent.

China’s Shopping Spree
AMC Empire 25 in New York on Aug. 23, 2016. The Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group purchased AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. in 2012 for $2.6 billion. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
An AMC movie theater near Times Square on Aug. 23, 2016. The Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group purchased AMC Entertainment Holdings in 2012 for $2.6 billion. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
While Hollywood has been busy seeking out Chinese companies for partnerships to get an easier ticket to China, Chinese companies have been settings their sights on film assets abroad, deepening the CCP’s influence over the global film industry.

Dalian Wanda Group became the first Chinese firm to own a major Hollywood studio in January when it purchased Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in cash. This followed its purchase of AMC Entertainment Holdings, which operates AMC Theaters—the second largest cinema chain in the United States—in 2012 for $2.6 billion.

It also owns Australian movie theater company Hoyts Group, leading European cinema operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, and China-based Wanda Cinema Line, and there are reports of it trying to buy a 49-percent stake in Paramount Pictures.

Other major Chinese companies involved in targeting Western assets include Tencent, DMG Entertainment (DMG Yinji), Baidu, and the state-owned television outlet CCTV.

Many of these companies have opaque connections to the CCP, but regardless of how deep their ties do or do not go, most companies in China are required to have a CCP liaison. The state-run Chinese news outlet Xinhua recently published a report that stated this requirement, noting that “the Party constitution stipulates that organizations of more than three members” should have a CCP branch. This requirement also includes foreign companies with offices in China.

Regardless of whether or not the companies themselves have motives to promote the CCP, being based in China means they are held to the CCP’s laws—including its laws on censorship. And at the higher levels of the Chinese regime, the CCP has clearly stated its interest in using films and other forms of information and entertainment to strategically push its own agenda.

‘Culture Warfare’
Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.” The recent release of the 3-D version of “Top Gun” was banned in China because it “portrayed U.S. military dominance.”
In October 2012, former CCP leader Hu Jintao gave a speech at a party plenum that “some foreign media saw … as a declaration of war against Western culture,” as Asia Times noted.

Hu said that as a matter of strategy, many countries “strengthen their cultural soft power.” He went on to claim that “international hostile forces are stepping up their strategic attempts to Westernize and divide our country, and ideological and cultural fields are a focus of their long-term infiltration.”

He accused Western “spiritual pollution” and “bourgeois liberalization” as the cause of pro-democracy movements and called on the CCP to “heighten our vigilance” and to “take effective countermeasures.”

Culture Warfare was just one of 12 strategies they laid out in what they called war with ‘no limits’ and ‘without morality.’
The speech coincided closely with Dalian Wanda Group’s 2012 purchase of AMC Theaters.

In a March 2012 report on Hu’s speech, Huffington Post noted: “One thing we can count on is a revamped effort at censorship, Big Brother surveillance, and thought control. This may sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t; President Hu Jintao has, in fact, been very blunt on these points.”

While such a strategy from the CCP may sound secretive and dubious, the CCP has actually been fairly loud with its rhetoric against U.S. entertainment and with its own strategies to counter this with “culture warfare.”

David Major, founder and president of the CI Centre, a U.S.-based company offering training in counter-intelligence, explained the nature of the CCP’s ideas behind culture warfare during a June 9, 2016, testimony to the USCC. He said culture warfare “means influencing the cultural biases of a targeted country by imposing your own cultural viewpoints.”

Major noted the strategy ties to a broader Chinese unconventional warfare system known as Unrestricted Warfare, detailed in 1999 by two Air Force colonels and political officers in the People’s Liberation Army. Culture Warfare was just one of 12 strategies they laid out in what they called war with “no limits” and “without morality.”

One of the CCP’s more recent strategies along these lines, known as the Three Warfares, pulls directly from the Unrestricted Warfare doctrine and focuses more specifically on perception management. The CCP’s Central Committee and the Central Military Commission approved the Three Warfares for use by the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army in 2003.

The two parts of the Three Warfares strategy directly relevant to culture warfare are Psychological Warfare and Media Warfare. According to the report, Psychological Warfare “seeks to undermine an enemy’s operational ability by demoralizing enemy military and civilian populations” using systems including television, radio broadcasts, rumors, and other means. Media Warfare “seeks to influence domestic and international public opinion to build support for military actions and dissuade adversaries from actions contrary to China’s interests.”

It must be recognized we are in a full state of competition with American films. … This is about defending and fighting for cultural territory.
— Zhang Hongsen, head, Chinese agency in charge of film censorship
Legal Warfare, the third tier of the system, can be seen playing out in the CCP’s manipulation of international law by restricting imports on films, in violation of WTO rules.

Many public remarks by CCP leaders and military officers demonstrate how the Chinese regime views the strategic use of entertainment under the doctrine of Culture Warfare.

In December 2013, the Chinese military newspaper Zhongguo Guofangbao slammed a video game, “Battlefield 4,” for portraying a Chinese general as its villain. It accused the game of being “a new form of cultural penetration and aggression” that aimed “to discredit one country’s image in the eyes of other countries.” It also claimed that featuring a Chinese general as an enemy in the game would cause Western audiences to see China as the “common enemy.”

When the above statements are taken in context along with the CCP’s banning of films like “Captain Phillips” and the 3-D version of “Top Gun” for showing the U.S. military in a positive light, the strategic thinking becomes more clear.

In August 2014, the CCP began restoring 1930s films for what South China Morning Post called a “culture war” and “soft power push.” It noted the CCP said in June 2014 it would invest 100 million yuan (about $15 million) to fund 5–10 “influential films.”

Zhang Hongsen, the head of SAPPRFT, said, according to South China Morning Post: “It must be recognized we are in a full state of competition with American films. … This is about defending and fighting for cultural territory.”

4 At-Home Tests You Can Use To Tell If Your Honey Is From China


The next time you find yourself in the honey aisle of your favorite grocery store, thinking about which honey to buy; the pricey, premium, artisanal honey or the store-brand nectar contained in a plastic bear, you might want to think twice before choosing based on price.

Honey is extremely versatile and it can be used to sweeten tea, glazed on a ham, or drizzled on toast or strawberries. However, its uses go far beyond the kitchen as it works as an antibacterial and antifungal agent, ably regulating blood sugar and even reducing ulcers.

As unbelievable as it sounds, archaeologists have found a 3,000-year-old honey in a tomb which was still edible. But, not all honey is the same, meaning that you need to be extremely cautious when buying some.

According to a recent study, more than 75 percent of store-bought honey was “ultrafiltered”, which removes both impurities and traces of pollen. Although it is pricey and said to improve shelf-life, it turns out that this is far from the truth.

Pollen is the best way to determine the origin of the honey which ultra-filtering actually masks. It is very likely that it comes from China, where honey is cheap and with low quality.

Recently, Chinese honey has become subject to heavy import tariffs due to the presumptions that it is contaminated by heavy metals and illegal antibiotics.

The manufacturers ultra- filter the honey, bring the product in America and mark it as “Made in the USA” and place it on the shelves. It is time to protect yourself from the fake honey no matter of the purpose of use, health benefit or sweetener.

  • The pre- packed honey from KFC and McDonald’s should not be consumed. Also, do not eat “Winnie the Pooh” from Wal- Mart. These samples do not have pollen inside.
  • Sam’s Club, Target ad Costco own 77% of honey without pollen.
  • Always know the source of it. Whenever is possible for you buy local honey.
  • By indigestion pollen, you will also reduce your allergies.

In case you cannot afford it or you are unable to buy local honey, Manuka honey which comes from New Zeland is the only honey, approved by FDA for treating wounds and burns and it is legitimate.

USDA label – does not mean that the honey is pure

You must remember that it doesn’t matter if it is expensive. Sometimes expensive does not mean quality. Usually, substances are introduced by “honey products” or “honey blends”.

A USDA LABEL DOESN’T MEAN YOUR HONEY IS PURE

Contrary to popular belief, the high price doesn’t mean that the honey you are buying is quality and authentic.

Below you have a few tests which can help you determine whether your honey is real or fake:

  1. The match test

Since pure honey is flammable, putting some of it onto a matchstick and lighting it can show whether it is real or fake. If real, it will light easily.

  1. The water test

Adding a tablespoon of honey into a glass filled with water is a reliable test showing whether the honey is pure or fake.  Real honey sinks to the bottom while fake honey dissolves.

  1. The thumb test

Put some honey on the thumb. If the honey stays intact on the thumb, it means that it is pure. On the other hand, if it spread around, it is very likely that it is artificial.

  1. The freezer test

Real honey doesn’t freeze!

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