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The world’s largest rain farm will generate a Mongolia-sized cloud to quench China’s thirst
To secure fresh water for a parched population, China’s state-run Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is launching the world’s largest rain-making project.
Once finished, the weather modification system will produce 2,641,720,523,581 gallons of water per year. That’s a lotta agua, but still only about 7% of China’s total water consumption -- a relative drop in a big, thirsty bucket.
What do you need to make a rain farm?
Lots of cloud seeds. Thousands of space-age chambers will plant cloud seeds -- aka silver iodide -- in the Tibetan sky, which will sprout into fluffy, water-filled clouds thanks to the moist air rising up from South Asian monsoons.
These clouds will then empty into China’s de facto water tower, the Tibetan Plateau -- currently one of the driest, most drought-stricken places on earth.
Cloud seeding, invented by a GE scientist in 1946, has been used for small-fry applications like ensuring ‘gram-worthy wedding day weather -- but, due to financial and technological hurdles, it’s never been done on this large a scale.
So, how did China pull it off? Well...
Actually, it IS rocket science. A Chinese team of military rocket-engineers used space defense technology to create cloud-seeding chambers that can operate at high elevations for years without maintenance -- for only $8k a pop.
The tech is a dramatic improvement over existing plane-based cloud-seeding technology, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover a smaller area.
There’s rain(making) in the forecast
3.6B people lack consistent access to water today, and as fresh water grows increasingly scarce, projects like China’s cloud-seeding operation will become more and more common.
Today, China is the biggest weather-meddler (outspending the US by 10x). But India, China’s neighbor across the TP, also invests millions in cloud-farming to reduce their drought risk, and bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “cloud technology.”
Battlestar Satellactica: OneWeb vs. SpaceX
The satellite space race is on between SoftBank-backed OneWeb and SpaceX, which just received permission from the FCC to launch over 4k satellites into low orbit.
Both companies aspire to build satellite constellations -- clusters of thousands of small satellites that will deliver internet connectivity to the whole planet -- but they have a few years to go before either of them is ready to blast off.
The clash of the telecoms
Until last week, it appeared that OneWeb was ready for interstellar domination: They have first priority from the UN to use the radio spectrum satellites need to transmit signals, and the advantage of a 120k-square-foot factory capable of building a satellite in just 8 hours.
Now, SpaceX has the FCC’s approval to use some of that bandwidth for their own machines and turn that red tape into stardust.
They’re both shooting for the moon…
Only time will tell who lands among the stars. Sitting in the captain’s seat of the OneWeb starship is none other Greg Wyler, the man who built Africa’s first 3G and fiber telecommunications network.
But, don’t underestimate the future President of Mars -- Elon Musk has a strong track record of executing against his starry ambitions, and last month, he launched the first 2 satellites of his future constellation.
Pulled an Equifax: Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal was hacked
Data thieves strike again, this time with fitness buffs -- last Thursday, Under Armour disclosed that data tied to its fitness app MyFitnessPal was breached, affecting 150m user accounts.
The stolen data includes account usernames, email addresses, and scrambled passwords for both the app and its website, sending shares of the athletic apparel maker down 3%.
Oh yeah, it’s also one of the largest data hacks in history
MFP’s breach is certainly the largest this year, and one of the top 5 ever, based on the number of records compromised (for reference, the Equifax hack affected about 145m accounts).
Larger breaches in the hack hall of fame include 3B Yahoo accounts in 2013, and the credentials of more than 412m users of adult websites run by FriendFinder Networks in 2016.
So what happens now?
According to the company, the breach occurred in February, and they began notifying customers at the end of March, 4 days after they were made aware of the hacks -- more than companies like Equifax (which took over a month), or Uber (which took over a year) can say.
On the bright side, Under Armour had a system in place to protect goods like addresses, birthdays, and payment info from being scooped -- on the not so-bright side, a lot of that can be gleaned from an email account.
What happens after the recall? Inside VW’s massive diesel graveyards
In 2015, VW copped to fudging the emission control systems on all their diesel vehicles sold in the US since 2009. Long story short, they pleaded guilty to 3 felony counts, received 3 years of probation, and paid $4.3B in federal penalties.
As part of their settlement, Volkswagen agreed to buy back about 350k diesel vehicles, costing the company an additional $7.4B.
The question is, where are they keeping all these cars?
Welcome to the boneyards
Of the 350k vehicles recalled, VW’s destroyed 28k, resold 13k, is keeping the other 300k… in car purgatory.
The German automaker has 37 remote storage facilities across the US, including a former football stadium in Detroit, an old paper mill in Minnesota, and a whopping 134-acre patch of desert at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California.
According to a VW spokesperson, the vehicles are being stored on an “interim basis” until they can make emissions modifications approved by US regulators.
Now, it’s a race against the clock
They’ve agreed to spend more than $25B in the US for claims from various owners and regulators, but they only have until June 2019 to buy back or fix 85% of the vehicles involved, or face higher payments on emissions.
And you thought your annual spring cleaning was rough…
Our editorial team’s in the content kitchen slangin’ that fresh word hash to get you the news you need day in and day out, but there are some stories that are just too big to squeeze in a daily rundown.
That’s why this Sunday, we’re trying something totally new.
I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but let’s just say it’s gonna be tighter than the lid on that jar of Prego that’s been sitting in your fridge for 3 months, and way easier to open.
So, whether you’re in bed, or at brunch, keep your eyes on your inbox this Sunday, give it a read, and let us know what you think -- be it your compliments to the chef, or sending it back to the kitchen.
Only 6 more sleeps.
-- Lindsey, Vice Chair of workin’ for the weekend
PS. Y’all came up with some killer band names last week. Here are a few that rocked our socks, plus an actual band:
Loose Bone Stew and the Munchie Brothers -- Honky Bayou Rock Water On a Stool -- STOMP meets the Blue Man Group Muffet and the Dirty Shoe Boys --Psychedelic nursery rhymes
BONUS: One Horse Taco Stand --An actual, real life southwest style alt-rock band recently formed by reader John H. Rock on, John.
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