Saturday, January 20, 2018

World’s largest underwater cave discovered in Mexico

January 18, 2018 by  
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Explorers have verified that two giant underwater caverns under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula are connected, making the 347 kilometer (216 mile) flooded cave system the largest known on the planet.

Researchers didn’t discover a new cave, but proved that the 263-kilometer Sac Actun cave and 83-kilometer Dos Ojos system near Tulum ran continuously.

German underwater diver Robert Schmittner led a team for nearly 10 months to prove that the two cave systems were, in fact, one.

“This is an effort of more than 20 years, to travel hundreds of kilometers of caves submerged in Quintana Roo mainly, of which I dedicated 14 years to explore this monstrous Sac Actun System. Now everyone’s job is to preserve it,” said Robert Schmittner, who worked with Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), a project to study and conserve the subterranean waters of the Yucatan.

Divers spents months exploring cave systems.

The Yucatan Peninsula is known for its beaches, Mayan ruins and cenotes, or massive sinkholes.

In Quintana Roo state, there are more than 300 cenotes.

Many are connected to a massive fresh water aquafer system that has been shown to connect to the sea.

Now researchers want to determine whether the Sac Actun cave, which due to its larger size replaces the name of the Dos Ojos cave, is connected to three other subterranean water caves in the vicinity.

Divers measured the entire cave system.

The exploration of cenotes and underground waters systems has also contributed to greater understanding of the Maya and the flora and fauna of the region’s past and present.

“This huge cave represents the most important submerged archaeological site in the world, as it has more than a hundred archaeological artifacts, including evidence of the first settlers of America, as well as extinct fauna and, of course, the Mayan culture,” said Guillermo de Anda, a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History and director of Gran Acuifero Maya.

Cenotes are a major tourist draw in the Yucatan.

cw/rc (Reuters, dpa)


Tim Cook says users will be able to turn off iPhone battery performance throttling in future iOS update

January 18, 2018 by  
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Apple had already said that a future iOS update will give users more insight into the state of their battery. In an interview with ABC News, Tim Cook was asked for his take on Apple slowing down iPhones with degraded batteries. He revealed that the developer beta including these features will be released next month, with a public release to follow after.

Moreover, he says that this forthcoming update will give users the option to disable performance throttling if they would rather be at risk of unexpected shutdowns but maintain full CPU and GPU performance.

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In its public apology letter on regarding the iPhone slowdown debacle, Apple described the update in the following way:

Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.

This implied an enhancement of the Battery screen in iOS Settings to include more information about the iPhone’s battery health and whether users were being subjected to Apple’s advanced power management throttling.

It did not say anything about Apple giving users the choice to disable battery throttling, so either Tim Cook misspoke (in an interview focused on Apple’s investment into the US following tax reform) or he is sharing new details.

The new feature will make a lot of users happy who have openly asked for the ability to use their iPhone at full speed knowing that it increases the likelihood of their device randomly turning itself off if the battery cannot provide enough instantaneous voltage.

You can listen to Cook talk about this in the interview embedded below. Skip to around 4:30 to hear him talk about the iPhone slowdown debacle. His wording is not ambiguous, he states plainly that Apple will release the developer beta (presumably iOS 11.3) next month and that it will include the ability for users to disable performance throttling if they want to.

Apple will not recommend users disable the throttling as it may mean that they will not be able to use their device in emergency situations.

A developer beta in February probably means a public release of this update will be available in March.

Apple’s battery throttling techniques is activated on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone SE as of iOS 11.2. It can reduce performance by up to 50% in benchmarks, but only kicks in if the system determines that the battery is degraded.

So far, Apple’s solution has been to cut the price of battery replacements to $29 through 2018 and tell customers to service their phones with a new battery if they do not want to experience slowdowns. It seems this forthcoming iOS release will offer users another alternative, where they can continue to use their iPhone at full speed even if the battery is degraded (albeit with a chance that the phone turns off occasionally).