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Google Offers Europeans Choice To Download Rival Web Browser
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

Google said today it will start giving European Union smartphone users a choice of browsers and search apps on its Android operating system, in changes designed to comply with an EU antitrust ruling. From a report: Starting Thursday and following a software update, users in the EU opening Google's mobile app store will be presented with a choice of alternatives to Google search and Chrome. The Alphabet unit said options will vary by market, but Microsoft's Bing and Norway's Opera are notable competitors in the European search and browser market respectively. The changes could help Google avoid additional fines after being scrutinized by the EU for almost a decade. The European Commission, the bloc's antitrust body, last year fined Google $4.8 billion for strong-arming device makers into pre-installing its Google search and Chrome browser, giving it a leg up because users are unlikely to look for alternatives if a default is already preloaded. The EU ordered Google to change that behavior and threatened additional fines if it failed to comply. In a statement, FairSearch, a group that includes Czech search engine Seznam.cz and Oracle, rejected the changes as insufficient. "It does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices," the group said. FairSearch filed one of the first complaints to the EU on Android.

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Amazon and Google Announce Official YouTube Apps to Launch on Fire TV; Prime Video App Coming to Chromecast and Android TV
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

Amazon and Google have worked out their differences. On Thursday, they announced that official YouTube app will soon make a return to Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs. Additionally, Prime Video app will be coming to Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices. "In addition, Prime Video will be broadly available across Android TV device partners, and the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will also come to Fire TV later this year," Amazon said.

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Mozilla To Bring Python To Browsers
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: In a step toward its goal of building out a data science development stack for web browsers, Mozilla today detailed Pyodide, an experimental Python project that's designed to perform computation without the need for a remote kernel (i.e., a program that runs and inspects code). As staff data engineer Mike Droettboom explained in a blog post, it's a standard Python interpreter that runs entirely in the browser. And while Pyodide isn't exactly novel -- projects like Transcrypt, Brython, Skulpt, and PyPyJs are among several efforts to bring Python to browsers -- it doesn't require a rewrite of popular scientific computing tools (like NumPy, Pandas, Scipy, and Matplotlib) to achieve adequate performance, and its ability to convert built-in data types enables interactions among browser APIs and other JavaScript libraries. Pyodide is built on WebAssembly, a low-level programming language that runs with near-native performance, and emscripten (specifically a build of Python for emscripten dubbed "cpython-emscripten"), which comprises a compiler from C and C++ to WebAssembly and a compatibility layer. Emscripten additionally provides a virtual file system (written in JavaScript) that the Python interpreter can use, in which files disappear when the browser tab is closed. To use Pyodide, you'll need the compiled Python interpreter as WebAssembly, JavaScript from emscripten (which provides the system emulation), and a packaged file system containing the files required by the Python interpreter. Once all three components are downloaded, they'll be stored in your browser's cache, obviating the need to download them again. The report notes that "the Python interpreter inside the JavaScript virtual machine runs between one to 12 times slower in Firefox and up to 16 times slower on Chrome."

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Astronomers Have Spotted the Universe's First Molecule
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

Astronomers have detected the universe's first molecule. "Helium hydride (HeH), a combination of helium and hydrogen, was spotted some 3000 light-years from Earth by an instrument aboard the airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a telescope built into a converted 747 jet that flies above the opaque parts of Earth's atmosphere," reports Science Magazine. The findings have been reported in the journal Nature. From the report: HeH has long been thought to mark the "dawn of chemistry," as the remnants of the big bang cooled to about 4000 K and ions began to team up with electrons to form neutral atoms. Researchers believe that in that primordial gas, neutral helium reacted with hydrogen ions to form the first chemical bond joining the very first molecule. In 1925, chemists synthesized HeH in the lab. In the 1970s, theorists predicted that the molecule may exist today, most likely formed anew in planetary nebulae, clouds of gas ejected by dying sunlike stars. But decades of observations failed to find any, casting doubts on the theory. To find the elusive molecule, astrochemists search for characteristic frequencies of light it emits, particularly a spectral line in the far infrared typically blocked by Earth's atmosphere. But a far-infrared spectrometer aboard SOFIA allowed them to find that signature for the first time, in a planetary nebula called NGC 7027, the researchers report today in Nature. The result shows this unlikely molecule -- involving typically unreactive helium -- can be created in space. With this cornerstone confirmed, it appears that the evolution of the following 13 billion years of chemistry stands on firmer ground.

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Planet's Ocean-Plastics Problem Detailed In 60-Year Data Set
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

Scientists have uncovered the first strong evidence that the amount of plastic polluting the oceans has risen vastly in recent decades -- by analyzing 60 years of log books for plankton-tracking vessels. Nature reports: Data recorded by instruments known as continuous plankton recorders (CPRs) -- which ships have collectively towed millions of kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean -- show that the trackers have become entangled in large plastic objects, such as bags and fishing lines, roughly three times more often since 2000 than in preceding decades. This is the first time that researchers have demonstrated the rise in ocean plastics using a single, long-term data set, says Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "I'm excited that this has been finally done," he says. The analysis was published on 16 April in Nature Communications. Van Sebille says that because the study focused on large plastic items, it doesn't reveal much about the quantity of microplastics -- fragments fewer than 5 millimetres long -- in the oceans. These tiny contaminants come from sources such as disposable plastic packaging, rather than from fishing gear. Nevertheless, he adds, the study demonstrates that fisheries play a major part in plastic pollution, and will provide useful baseline data for tracking whether policy changes affect the levels of plastic in the oceans. "As fisheries become more professional, especially in the North Sea, hopefully we might see a decrease," he says.

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