China Just Overtook the U.S. in Scientific Output for the First Time

Research Rivalry

For the first time, China has surpassed the United States in terms of the number of scientific papers each country has published, according to the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report published by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

According to the list of papers logged by Elsevier’s Scopus database, in 2016 China published over 426,000 studies, while the United States published 409,000. While China published more research overall, in regards to various areas of research, the United States, the European Union, and China all have their different strengths. China and South Korea prevail in engineering, whereas the EU and U.S. top biomedical science research.

China may have the advantage in terms of sheer volume, but the U.S. had higher scores in terms of citations — which could suggest the general standard of research is slightly better. However, neither country is the world leader in citations: Sweden and Switzerland rank first and second, respectively.

The NSF suggests that the amount of money a country invests in research and development is reflective of its commitment to developing its science and technology sectors. The U.S. is said to have topped the global rankings at $ 496 billion. China placed second with a total of $ 408 billion.

Crucially, China’s investment has grown at an average of 18 percent each year since 2000. Investment in the U.S. has only grown an average of four percent in the same timeframe. These numbers illustrate how China is proactively growing its research interests, which could ultimately translate to a greater global influence. While it’s normal for emerging economies to grow rapidly by this metric, the press release that accompanied the NSF report described China’s growth rate as “exceptional.”

“This year’s report shows a trend that the U.S. still leads by many S&T measures, but that our lead is decreasing in certain areas that are important to our country,” said Maria Zuber, the chair of the National Science Board and vice president for research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “From gene editing to artificial intelligence, scientific advancements come with inherent risks. And it’s critical that we stay at the forefront of science to mitigate those risks.”

The post China Just Overtook the U.S. in Scientific Output for the First Time appeared first on Futurism.


Facebook Has Coined a New Unit of Time Called “the Flick”

New Unit

Facebook has introduced a new unit of time that’s intended to make it easier for developers to sync up video and audio frames. It’s called the flick, which is a portmanteau that condenses the phrase “frame-tick.”

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When your devices play video, they show a particular number of frames every second. To give an example, the current standard for video games is 60 frames per second, which means that each individual frame is on the screen for 16.667 milliseconds.

That isn’t a particularly easy figure to work with, but awkward numbers are common when considering various frame rates. The flick aims to remove some of this complexity and room for error by eliminating the need to use rounded-up decimals or fractions.

A single flick is defined as 1/705,600,000 of a second, or the smallest unit of time that’s larger than a nanosecond, according to the project’s GitHub page. At 60 frames per second, each frame appears for 11,760,000 flicks, which is an easier figure to work with than 16.667 milliseconds.

Flicks in Action

There are already tools that facilitate frame syncing in the C++ programming language, but the most exact timing that they offer is in nanoseconds, according to a report from The Verge, and those units don’t divide easily into most frame rates.

While the average person may never need to use a flick, the unit could improve their media experience by making it easier for programmers to ensure that the refresh rate of a device syncs appropriately with the content, be it video footage, a game, a website, or an audio clip.

It seems likely that Facebook will implement the flick across their ever-expanding range of products. The unit could potentially underpin everything from the way video ads display on the company’s social media platform to how their Oculus Rift headset renders virtual reality (VR) experiences.

The unit is completely open source, so other developers are free to implement the flick in their work however they see fit.

The post Facebook Has Coined a New Unit of Time Called “the Flick” appeared first on Futurism.


Auto expert says now is the time to buy a Tesla — before the company goes out of business

Auto industry veteran Bob Lutz has been around the automotive block. Now 85, Lutz has worked for the who’s-who of the automotive industry including BMW, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. And while Lutz is high on Tesla’s automobiles, he doesn’t think that’s going to be enough to save the company. [Elon Musk] hasn’t figured out the revenues have to be greater than costs … when you are perennially running out of cash you are just not running a good automobile company. I don’t see anything on the horizon that’s going to fix that, so those of you who are interested…

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Spaceflight startup Rocket Lab sends its Electron rocket to orbit for the first time

This weekend, US spaceflight startup Rocket Lab successfully launched its second Electron rocket for a crucial flight test — and reached orbit for the first time. The Electron took off from the company’s New Zealand launch facility at 2:43PM local time on Sunday (or 8:43PM ET on Saturday), and about eight and a half minutes later, the rocket deployed three small commercial satellites. It marks the first time the Electron has completed a full mission, and that may mean Rocket Lab is ready to start commercial flights of the vehicle.

“Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented,” Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, said in…

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