By tradition, at the beginning of each year, we remember what events we remember the previous year. The first days of 2021 will not be an exception. Our website has already published a large review material about which topics became the main ones in the last year’s agenda in the world of computers and technology, according to the editorial board. Now we want to approach the issue from the other side, and recall the news that caused the greatest resonance among our audience.
In the list below, we have collected the “golden fund” – the ten news of 2020, which were read on our website the maximum number of times.
In May, the trade war between the United States and China entered a very hot phase of confrontation. It was announced that the new export trade rules will require virtually any company to trade with Huawei, even outside the US jurisdiction. This should have cut off the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer from all imports, including software. It seemed that the US goal was not just to slow down Huawei, but, figuratively speaking, to bury it.
Seven months have passed since then. TSMC has indeed stopped producing semiconductor devices for Huawei. But the Chinese foresaw this and, even before the tightening of sanctions, purchased from a Taiwanese partner such a number of 7-nm chips for 5G base stations that this amount should be enough until the end of 2021. And in 2022, Huawei expects to launch its own 20-nm production, which will begin to gradually fill the shortage of imported semiconductors.
At the same time, Huawei has not dropped out of international shipments. Manufacturers began to find tracks to sell products to the disgraced Chinese. Samsung continued to ship displays, Qualcomm continued to ship SoC 4G, and Kioxia continued to ship server memory modules. But it still didn’t go without losses. Huawei is losing ground to competitors both in the domestic smartphone market and in Russia, where Xiaomi has displaced it from the first place. In addition, the Chinese manufacturer had to sell its subsidiary brand and business Honor.
It is likely that Huawei equipment will be completely withdrawn from the US networks, where the authorities have all the leverage over operators and business. In Europe, Huawei will retain its position as a 5G base station supplier in Germany and France, and perhaps in the UK, but the company is doing worse there. But in any case, the Europeans are holding on to Huawei. In 2019, for example, a Chinese company created 220 thousand jobs in the Old World and paid billions of euros in taxes. But the US attempt was credible, it cannot be taken away.
According to researchers, the popular TikTok app for ByteDance’s eponymous service for creating and viewing short videos collects an obscene amount of personal data – much more than other popular mobile apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is worth thinking about, because you can find yourself under the “hood” of the Chinese special services.
But in fact, if this were the case, then the Chinese intelligence services would have to give a standing ovation, because they were able to cheat Apple and Google’s app store control and oversight services, which in recent years have become more picky and picky about developers. And the hype surrounding the dangers of using TikTok has a simple explanation. This Chinese application only in the US has an audience of about 100 million people, and for the most part they are very, very young people. In fact, TikTok is a potential instrument of influence that the US government is unwilling to put up with.
The Donald Trump administration made an attempt to force ByteDance to sell the American segment of the business with its data center services to a consortium of American companies, but the elections probably prevented the completion of the matter, and now the TikTok issue will have to somehow be resolved by the administration of newly elected President Joe Biden.
Carrying out thermonuclear reactions under terrestrial conditions has remained a dream of scientists for 70 years. The basis for this was laid by the Soviet physicists I. Ye. Tamm and A. D. Sakharov, who in 1950 proposed the idea of confining plasma in a magnetic field. It was first announced publicly in 1956 in Oxford by IV Kurchatov, when he arrived in England with General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev to conclude agreements on cooperation between the two countries. Physicists have done a lot since then, but controlled thermonuclear reactions still last only a few seconds. China picked up the baton of the USSR and built (and will build) more than one experimental thermonuclear reactor. The HL-2M Tokamak reactor, which was commissioned in December, will heat the plasma (hydrogen isotopes) to 150 million ° C and hold this temperature for up to 10 seconds.
However, South Korea is still the leader in terms of plasma confinement duration. The South Korean tokamak KSTAR has shown the ability to hold plasma at a temperature of 100 million ° C for 20 seconds. In the following years, the Koreans will modernize the installation to try to hold the plasma up to 300 seconds by 2025. All these tests precede the future launch in Europe of the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) fusion reactor, which is now being built with the participation of a dozen major countries in the world. The tests of the Chinese HL-2M Tokamak will be a valuable source of knowledge for the future launch of ITER, because in it the plasma will be maintained at the same temperature level as in the HL-2M.
Apple laptops are so elegant and their parts fit together so well that the fashion of covering the lenses of built-in webcams with duct tape could end up badly. For example, an overhead curtain can damage the camera when you close the laptop lid or ruin the display, and the automatic brightness adjustment software and True Tone functions may not work as expected. Apple announced this in the technical support section, which can also be regarded as a hint of a possible refusal of warranty service upon detection of characteristic damages.
According to Apple, its security systems are fully protected, and hackers cannot gain access to webcams. At the same time, three months earlier, it became known that one of the security researchers received from the same Apple a prize of $ 75,000 for seven vulnerabilities found, three of which were directly related to a possible hacking of the camera on devices running MacOS and iOS …
Do I need to glue the camera on my laptop? Everyone decides this for himself to the extent of his licentiousness. In the overwhelming majority of cases, an ordinary user is not interesting to anyone. But he is a danger to himself. Especially with the growing need for remote work. Accidental activation of video communication at the most inopportune moment can easily embarrass you, and there are many examples of this.
About once every 20 years, an event occurs when all the planets of the solar system are on one side of our star, and most of them line up approximately along the same line. In July of this year, such a configuration was built out of the planets. The four planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus – could be easily observed at night and closer to morning.
Like everything related to space, astronomical phenomena turned out to be very interesting to our audience, which made the publication about the parade of the planets the fifth most readable last year. And this is natural: today, astronomical observations do not require any special knowledge or tools. Smartphones and programs with maps of the starry sky with clear instructions will turn everyone into an astronomer, and digital cameras and multi-pixel sensors will help you take photos at a good amateur level. And if people look at the stars, then they have not lost hope for a better future, which is good in itself.
News about Russian developments always arouses interest, although passions are boiling in the comments, and disputants often have strictly opposite opinions. In this case, as we understand, the degree of interest in the news was multiplied by the mention of the battery, because this is a sore spot for modern gadgets.
As for the battery itself, or rather the atomic battery, we are talking about the development of the National Research Technological University “MISiS”. The voltage in the described compact element is generated by converting radioactive beta radiation into electric current. Such cells are called beta-galvanic batteries (betavoltaic). In principle, such batteries can last for thousands or even tens of thousands of years. Therefore, they are ideal for back-up emergency power supply of low-power equipment or for organizing power supply for electronics in remote and hard-to-reach places.
The MISIS battery is compact and can work for 20 years. Unfortunately, it is not suitable for smartphones. Special beta-galvanic batteries for smartphones and other consumer electronics are being developed by the American company NDB (Nano Diamond Battery), but the Russian atomic battery seems to be a much more real product than the promises of the Americans.
The popularity of the electric car battery repair story is another great illustration of the hot battery topic, especially in the Tesla context. The news about a “free” six-year Tesla Model S for $ 15 thousand with an out-of-warranty and faulty battery tells how a third-party service discovered and replaced for $ 5 000 one a faulty element in the traction battery, thanks to which the buyer of the car saved at least $ 10 thousand on a used, but fully working and equipped electric car.
As the number of electric vehicles increases on our streets, battery problems can become a major hazard in the operation of personal electric vehicles. Especially in a situation where some will seek to save on this, while others will make money. But if “buckets with bolts” in the event of a technical malfunction pose a threat primarily to the owner, then newfangled “buckets with lithium batteries” can cause serious fires and, as a result, large-scale damage. Probably, in this area we will face strict regulation, which the authorities around the world have not yet reached their hands on.
However, Tesla is going to make the battery an integral part of the electric car body design, which will require a different approach to battery maintenance and repair. Probably, in this case, replacing the cells will become completely impossible, as well as replacing the battery pack. Electric cars will become disposable, which partly neutralizes the dangers associated with uncontrolled repairs and operation of the car beyond the period set by the manufacturer.
A swarm of military drones and a mother plane. Sounds like a line from a science fiction piece. Only here we are talking about real tests of prototypes of the jet UAV “Gremlin”, which at the end of the operation must be picked up in the air by a transport aircraft. As planned, a special aircraft should assemble four jet UAVs right in flight within half an hour. But the first tests of this kind failed due to design flaws in the coupling system. Readers in the comments wondered why the drones couldn’t fly into the belly of the truck themselves. Someday there will be such a thing, but for now it is better to use the bait. It’s safer this way.
Praise for progress! All over the world, the military received interesting and high-tech toys. They would be played. On the other hand, unmanned wingmen, unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous supply vessels, and other auxiliary military equipment will reduce the need for living personnel in life-threatening combat areas. It will be worse when computers are trusted to make decisions to initiate an attack, and in fact it is going. A couple of weeks ago, during a simulated missile strike against an Air Force base in California, an artificial intelligence aboard a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was already searching for and identifying enemy missile launchers. That is, the first experience when artificial intelligence controls the combat systems of a military aircraft already exists. What will be next?
A series of publications on foreign forums made it possible to look under the hood of the latest Tesla Model Y electric cars, where the cooling systems revealed either a transport package that they forgot to remove before installation, or additional fasteners for radiators, quickly assembled from scrap materials. This is a fairly common occurrence for Tesla. Moreover, as one of the former top officials of the company said, in the first thousand or two of Tesla’s serial electric vehicles, you will not find a single car that is repetitive in design. This is partly a joke, but there is some truth in this.
As automakers with a history admit, Tesla is no match for technology compliance. But this has its own advantage. The management of the company, headed by Elon Musk, is not afraid to change a lot on the go, compensating for engineering mistakes with the ingenuity of assemblers on the ground. This is what allows the company to move forward at a speed that outstrips the development of competitors. In this, only Chinese companies can compete with Tesla. They have their own specifics, but they also know how to do everything quickly and profitably.
Our Milky Way galaxy is heading for a collision with the neighboring galaxy Andromeda. An accident is inevitable, but the cosmic bodies of both galaxies will begin to dangerously approach each other only after billions of years. So far, only gas halos around Andromeda and the Milky Way have come into contact. Behind Andromeda and its gas halo there are many quasars that perfectly illuminate all its unearthly beauty with ultraviolet radiation. We cannot look at ourselves from the outside, and we imagine a halo around the Milky Way on the illustrative example of our neighbor.
By the way, it also turned out that once a dwarf galaxy flew into our galaxy during another “cosmic accident” and so it remained in it, torn apart into separate stars and matter.
Essentially fantastic news becomes a part of everyday life. Exoplanets, the search for life hundreds and thousands of light years from us, right up to the determination of the chemical composition of the atmosphere – all this and many other discoveries are given to us by modern science. And it’s just great that you and I have the opportunity to monitor all this without leaving your home and almost in real time!
The top 10 news of 2020 given is very heterogeneous, like our entire audience. Visitors to 3DNews are interested in completely different topics: global market trends, security problems, scientific and technological progress, space, electric vehicles and even high-tech weapons. In the coming year, we will continue to cover all these and many other topics in detail, so stay with us – there will be a lot of interesting things ahead!
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