Solar plane lands in Dayton, Ohio on latest leg of round-the-world flight

An experimental airplane powered solely by energy from the sun landed in Ohio on Saturday night on the latest leg of its historic bid by pilots and developers to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel. The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 aircraft arrived in Dayton shortly before 10 p.m. local time, some 17 hours after leaving Phoenix Goodyear Airport, the project team said on its official Twitter page."People told the Wright Brothers & us what we wanted to achieve was impossible," said Bertrand Piccard after landing. "They were wrong!" The locale was of special significance to the pilots, as the home base to aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Amanda Wright Lane, a descendant of the brothers, neither of whom ever married, was on hand to welcome the flight. With a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 but an ultra-light carbon-fiber skin and overall weight of a car, the Solar Impulse cruises at speeds ranging from only 34 to 62 miles per hour (55 to 100 kph). The four engines of the propeller-driven aircraft are powered exclusively by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings. Excess energy is stored in four batteries during daylight hours to keep the plane flying after dark.The plane can climb to 28,000 feet (8,500 meters), but generally flies at lower altitudes at night to conserve energy. Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been taking turns piloting the plane on each leg of the journey. Both have trained to stay alert for long stretches of time by practicing meditation and hypnosis.Borschberg set a new endurance record for the longest non-stop solo flight last July during a 118-hour trans-Pacific crossing, over five days and five nights, from Japan to Hawaii. He also set new duration and distance records for solar-powered flight. Battery damage sustained during the crossing kept the aircraft grounded for nine months. The Swiss team's ultimate goal is to achieve the first round-the-world solar-powered flight, part of its campaign to bolster support for clean-energy technologies.The team hopes eventually to complete its circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi, the starting point for the journey in March 2015.The two men completed an earlier multi-flight crossing of the United States in a prototype of the solar plane in 2013 as a precursor to their globe-circling quest. (Reporting by Chris Michaud and Steve Gorman)

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Corvex discloses large Pandora stake, pushes for sale-letter

Corvex Management LP disclosed on Monday that it owns 9.9 percent of Pandora Media Inc and urged the internet music streaming company to explore a sale instead of pursuing a "costly and uncertain business plan." Corvex, a hedge fund run by Keith Meister, a protégé of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, said it had met with the company's management and had withdrawn a plan to replace some of its board members. However, it now believes Pandora should hire an investment bank to help the company explore its strategic options including a sale."We believe there is likely to be significant strategic interest in the company at a substantial premium to the company's recent stock price," Corvex said, adding that large internet companies, handset makers and media companies could be potential buyers.Pandora's shares are down more than 25 percent in 2016 and more than 45 percent year-over-year. Corvex owns about 22.7 million shares in the company, making the hedge fund Pandora's largest shareholder. Pandora said in response that it is in constant dialogue with shareholders and committed to achieving long-term value for them. "Pandora has a profitable core business, combined with a strong balance sheet. We are confidently investing to fully capture the massive opportunity ahead of us," the company said in a statement. Oakland, California-based Pandora has faced tough competition from music-streaming rivals such as Spotify, Apple Inc , Alphabet Inc's Google and Amazon.com and has failed to turn an annual profit as a public company. Analysts have said Pandora, which had a market capitalization of $2.29 billion on Monday, could be an acquisition target for larger media or internet companies looking to beef up their online music offerings. Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, a former musician who spearheaded Pandora's music algorithm technology, returned to the company March 28 to become CEO, squashing some investors' hopes the company could be sold.Westergren told Reuters on April 15, "If you want to sell a company, you don't do that by spending half a billion on acquisitions and hiring a new CEO." Unlike other streaming services, which have negotiated deals with record labels to allow listeners to pick songs, Pandora has acted more like a radio station, playing songs that match a genre but not allowing customers to make selections. Pandora is now playing catch-up and negotiating with record labels for the licenses it needs to offer more on-demand music services. (additional reporting by Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)

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Singletons Are Fine

This one’s gonna be short. Honestly, I don’t know how last week’s article about static methods went so long.Singletons get a bad rap, being called Anti-patterns, and for good reason. The biggest reason given against Singletons is that they’re global state, which is bad. If you want a stateful “Singleton”, there are ways to restrict the application to only having a single instance, even if the class can have multiple instances. While this still largely equates to global state, at least it opens up the possibility of test doubles and makes the “Singleton” itself that much easier to test.But I’m not here to nag about stateful Singletons; there’s already plenty of that on the interwebz. No, I’m here to tell that there can be an okay usage for Singletons: as Strategies. Singletons don’t have to be stateful. If you have a stateless Strategy type, making it into a singleton can actually be helpful, reducing the memory overhead of potentially extra instances of the class. Often, you’ll want to lazily load it.Python actually had an interesting way of doing Singletons that I’ve never actually even heard anyone talk about. What’s interesting about classes in Python is that they can be used just like any other instance, so you can just put static methods on a class and use it like an instance.For an example, say we have a Strategy interface/protocol with the methods strat1() andstrat2(), you can make a Strategy class like this:class AStrategy: @staticmethod def strat1(): ... @staticmethod def strat2(): ...This class can be used as an instance of a Strategy:AStrategy.strat1() AStrategy.strat2()You can do that with static methods in other languages too, but the classes in those languages can’t be passed in as instances of a Strategy type. In Python, you can just pass in AStrategy as an instance:func_that_uses_strategy(AStrategy)You barely have to do anything special to get a class to be a Singleton in Python; it’s pretty neat. It even works with stateful Singletons, but that’s bad, remember?

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Ancient lava bubbles reveal conditions on primordial Earth

WASHINGTON Tiny bubbles that formed inside volcanic rock 2.7 billion years ago are providing big insights into the conditions on primordial Earth.Scientists said an analysis of gas bubbles trapped in ancient basalt rock that formed from ancient lava flows in western Australia showed the planet back then possessed a much thinner atmosphere, with air pressure half of what it is today.That finding contradicts a long-held notion that Earth then had a thicker atmosphere to compensate for a fainter sun, with sunlight about 15 percent dimmer. The sun is slowly brightening over time, part of a star's natural evolution.Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago. The planet 2.7 billion years ago was still much different than it is today.In addition to the fainter sun, the air lacked oxygen, the moon was closer so tides were stronger, Earth spun more quickly so days were shorter, and the only life forms were single-cell microbes, said study leader Sanjoy Som, CEO of Seattle-based Blue Marble Space, a nonprofit organization focusing on space science research, education and public outreach. The findings demonstrate that "a planetary environment completely different than modern Earth can sustain life on its surface," said Som, who worked on the study while at the University of Washingto​n and is now based at NASA's Ames Research Center in California."Life doesn't need conditions like modern Earth to survive and thrive. This is important in our quest for habitable environments in extra-solar planets," Som added. The scientists used sophisticated scanning technology to analyze the size and distribution of bubbles within the ancient lava rock found along the shores of Australia's Beasley River that solidified at sea level.Lava flows cool rapidly from top and bottom, with bubbles trapped at the bottom being smaller than those at the top. The size difference in these bubbles provided a record of the atmospheric pressure pushing down on the molten rock as it cooled, the researchers said.The findings suggest Earth's atmosphere was rich in greenhouse gases. "This study doesn't yield direct knowledge about the air composition," Som said. "Nonetheless, because most of the air pressure is nitrogen, and you needed greenhouse gases to compensate for a faint sun, methane - a powerful greenhouse gas - was a likely important constituent, as well as water vapor - another powerful greenhouse gas."The research was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. (Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Uber, Lyft halt Austin service after losing vote over fingerprint checks

AUSTIN, Texas On-demand ride companies Uber and Lyft suspended their services in Austin, Texas, on Monday after a stinging loss in a weekend vote where they had spent heavily to repeal a city ordinance requiring them to conduct fingerprint background checks for their drivers.The defeat in the Texas capital could encourage other cities to back the fingerprint-based criminal background checks, knowing they can survive a bruising political battle, analysts said. Voters in the city of about 900,000 people said by a margin of 56 to 44 percent they wanted the fingerprint checks to stay.In their efforts to repeal the requirement that was approved by the City Council in December, Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft firms contributed about $9 million to a political action group called Ridesharing Works for Austin, finance reports showed. Their spending, about 85 times larger than their opponents', worked out to more than $200 for each vote they received in support of their losing position. Uber and Lyft have said their existing background checks are thorough and ensure safety, seeing the fingerprint checks as an unnecessary regulation. After the results of what was called Proposition 1 in Austin, Lyft said it would halt service on Monday and Uber threatened to. On Monday, both had suspended services, the City of Austin said. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who opposed the move by Uber and Lyft to get rid of fingerprinting, said on Monday the city "remains open to talking with Lyft and Uber whether they are operating in Austin or not." The Austin election marked the first time a major U.S. city has put the regulations to a vote. The vote was conducted after a petition drive by Ridesharing Works, the political group underwritten by Uber and Lyft.Other places where the company is battling over fingerprints include Atlanta and Houston. In April, Uber threatened to leave Houston unless the city dropped the regulation. The city has not backed down, and a study it conducted found background checks by Uber and Lyft often missed felonies, including homicide and sexual assaults. The Atlanta City Council postponed a vote planned for early May to further consider a measure to require fingerprinting for ride-hailing service drivers at the city's main airport. New York is only other major city requiring the fingerprint checks where Uber operates. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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