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The Situation at Chernobyl Is Deteriorating

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The Situation at Chernobyl Is Deteriorating

Two weeks ago, Russian forces seized control of the defunct Chernobyl, once the site of the world’s worst nuclear meltdown, and Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s biggest active nuclear power plant, raising concerns of nuclear risks in the middle of a war zone. 

Although Chernobyl’s last reactor went offline in 2000, the site now serves as a nuclear waste storage facility—and a highly contaminated one. The situation there is deteriorating; the facility lost power on Wednesday, and backup diesel generators have only enough fuel for two days. The 210 technical personnel and guards have not been allowed to rotate out to rest. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy and prevents nuclear weapon proliferation, says it lost contact with Chernobyl’s radiation monitoring systems on Tuesday. Unless officials can restore power, experts fear Chernobyl could once again become the site of a nuclear calamity.

“To have a long-term loss of power is certainly a concern,” says Ed Lyman, a senior global security scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and coauthor of the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster. Some of Chernobyl’s waste has been transferred into dry casks, but considerable quantities of fuel rods remain in a pool that requires cooling. That’s where the biggest risks currently are. “Without electrical power to the cooling pumps, the spent fuel pool will start heating up,” Lyman says. Water will gradually evaporate or boil away, exposing the fuel rods and releasing radioactive gasses. 

Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement structure also needs electricity. This is the facility built around the concrete “sarcophagus” that surrounds what’s left of the damaged reactor Number Four, which melted down in the 1986 disaster. The confinement structure’s ventilation system must run to prevent the exposed nuclear fuel within it from becoming more hazardous. Without power, the site’s 1.5-billion-euro decommissioning program could be imperiled, Claire Corkhill, an expert on nuclear material degradation at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, wrote on Twitter and in an email to WIRED.

Some experts worry more about the personnel, who haven’t been able to leave after their shifts, which normally would have ended two weeks ago. “I’m concerned about the poor and heroic staff workers, and whether they’re in a good mental state to run all the equipment,” says Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, a scientist-in-residence and nuclear physicist at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He likened them to stressed and sleep-deprived passenger jet pilots flying in a combat zone. “You wouldn’t want to be flying in that airplane,” he says.

Not everyone agrees on the level of danger now posed by Chernobyl. Lyman estimates that if the cooling system isn’t running the way it’s supposed to, there’s a window of at least a couple of weeks before the threat of meltdown arises. Dalnoki-Veress thinks it might be months until the risk becomes high. On Wednesday, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, tweeted that so far there is “no critical impact on safety,” although in a press statement the agency said that “the lack of power is likely to lead to a further deterioration of operational radiation safety at the site.” But on the same day, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that the limited power to cooling systems makes “radiation leaks imminent.” 

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Boeing’s Starliner carried a ‘Kerbal Space Program’ character to the ISS

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Boeing’s Starliner carried a ‘Kerbal Space Program’ character to the ISS

After two-and-a-half years of delays, Boeing’s Starliner capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station. It was an important milestone for a company that has, at least in the popular imagination, struggled to catch up with SpaceX. So it’s fitting how Boeing decided it would celebrate a successful mission.

When the crew of the ISS opened the hatch to Starliner, they found a surprise inside the spacecraft. Floating next to Orbital Flight Test-2’s seated test dummy was a plush toy representing Jebediah Kerman, one of four original “Kerbonauts” featured in Kerbal Space Program. Jeb, as he’s better known by the KSP community, served as the flight’s zero-g indicator. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took a small doll with him on the first-ever human spaceflight, and ever since it has become a tradition for most space crews to carry plush toys with them to make it easy to see when they’ve entered a microgravity environment.

If you’ve ever played Kerbal Space Program, you have a sense of why it was so fitting Boeing decided to send Jeb to space. In KSP, designing spacecraft that will carry your Kerbonauts to orbit and beyond is no easy task. Often your initial designs will fall and crash as they struggle to fly free of Kerbin’s gravity. But you go back to the drawing board and tweak your designs until you find one that works. In a way, that’s exactly what Boeing’s engineers had to do after Starliner’s first test flight in 2019 failed due to a software issue, and its second one was delayed following an unexpected valve problem.

Boeing kept Jeb’s presence on OFT-2 secret until the spacecraft docked with the ISS. A spokesperson for the company told collectSPACE that Starliner’s engineering team chose the mascot in part because of the science, technology, engineering and math lessons KSP has to teach players. Jeb will spend the next few days with the crew of the ISS before they place him back in the spacecraft for its return trip to Earth.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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COVID-19 makes automation more important than ever for enterprise integration

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COVID-19 makes automation more important than ever for enterprise integration

We are excited to bring Transform 2022 back in-person July 19 and virtually July 20 – 28. Join AI and data leaders for insightful talks and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!


As a longtime supply chain technology professional and head of a software company focused on enterprise (B2B) cloud integration, I’ve been watching several key trends that are shaping the fortunes for ecommerce and digital transformation as organizations push through the business impacts of the ongoing pandemic. These include the need for more IoT deployments and the rise of collaboration platforms to cope with increasingly remote and hybrid work environments. We’re also seeing enterprise end-to-end visibility across the business ecosystem emerge as a top C-suite priority.

These factors will help define the level of success organizations can expect in transforming data into value and impact. Ecosystem Integration, which is an advanced approach to multi-enterprise B2B/EDI integration that creates seamless end-to-end integrations that connect partners, applications, systems, and marketplaces, enables organizations to leverage collaborative platforms and increase end-to-end visibility. It’s a multilayered approach with various technologies that, when combined, amount to more than the sum of its parts. For the sake of this article, let’s zero in on automation as the common underlying capability that will best serve in the months and years ahead as an increasingly critical lynchpin for successful ecosystem integration adoption.

Pandemic fuels rush to adopt automation

As we continue to adjust to the new normal of pandemic-induced pressures on supply chain and business processes overall, automation and no-code are becoming more central as a foundation for digital transformation. That’s because COVID-19 showcased the fragility of manual processes. Recall how organizations struggled under the pressure of workforce lockdowns and the virus hindered efforts to become more agile in supply chain and other operations that were disrupted by the pandemic.

The pandemic is not yet over, but far enough along that we can see how companies like Amazon and others that invested in automation succeeded in growing both revenue and profitability despite the shutdowns. These success stories are sinking in, and that’s driving consensus and C-suite buy-in at more companies to automate core business processes. Further accelerating adoption is the increasing availability of tools and techniques that lower the barriers to entry for companies that may have thought automation solutions were out of reach. 

Automation tools and the low-code technologies that support them are fueling an expanded list of use cases and applications. Low-code automation simplifies the complexities of traditional back-end programming through more user-friendly interfaces and apps. This can shorten development cycles and allow organizations to automate more of the core processes that most impact operations and revenue.

Helping companies where they need it most 

Automation can help businesses in the process areas hit hardest by the pandemic. Consider the realm of transportation, a key part of the supply chain equation in a time when supply chain logistics have been hammered by COVID-19.

Developer experience (DX) teams can automate order processing and customs documentation with new electronic data interchange (EDI) capabilities, complete with rules engines for validating load tenders, invoices and shipment-status messages. Trucking providers can also enhance their application programming interface (API) integration to achieve more accurate load-tender processing and eliminate errors between the various transportation management systems (TMSs) of freight customers. With the right automation, these efficiencies can hold up even at the scale of large fleets. 

Transportation logistics may be near the epicenter of pandemic impacts, but those impacts ripple far and wide through the spectrum of business operations. That’s why the opportunities and benefits of automation extend across the broader spectrum of business process automation.

For instance, companies hoping to excel in ecommerce and direct-to-consumer (D2C) operations can leverage automation to gain visibility and control across revenue-critical business processes like order-to-cash and procure-to-pay. This can be done by automating end-to-end processes that streamline the integration of internal applications with the external ecosystem of business partners, ecommerce sites, marketplaces and even consumers directly. 

Automation: A top digital transformation priority in 2022

Automation allows for more efficient, scalable and agile control over a wide range of integration use cases that deliver more valuable insights and smoother operations. Along with this comes better visibility and more steady and secure innovation as organizations evolve their operations, even in the face of pandemic disruptions and other business headwinds. That’s why, as we forge further ahead into 2022, automation and no-code are cementing their place as vital components for any digital transformation.

Mahesh Rajasekharan is CEO of Cleo.

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iFixit will sell replacement parts for almost every Steam Deck component

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iFixit will sell replacement parts for almost every Steam Deck component

We knew going into the launch of Valve’s Steam Deck DIY repairs would be easier than most modern electronics. And now it looks like finding replacement parts won’t be difficult either. On Friday evening, iFixit prematurely published a list of components it will offer for Valve’s handheld. The list revealed the company plans to sell spare parts for nearly every component found in Steam Deck, including replacement motherboards complete with the handheld’s custom Aerith chipset from AMD.

Earlier today we published some pages related to our upcoming parts launch with Valve. These went live earlier than we planned, so we ended up taking them down. If you did get a parts order in, we’ll honor it. 💙

Stay tuned for the real launch soon!

— iFixit (@iFixit) May 21, 2022

As The Verge points out, the company will even sell parts that could be considered upgrades. For instance, if you own the 64GB or 256GB model, you can buy the 512GB variant’s display to get the anti-glare screen that comes on that version of the handheld. For any panel replacements, you can also spend an extra $5 to obtain a “Fix Kit” that comes with all the tools you need to complete a screen swap.

One part iFixit won’t sell immediately is replacement batteries. It will offer those at a later date. “We don’t have a solution for battery repairs on day one, but we are committed to working with Valve to maintain these devices as they age,” iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens told The Verge. “Battery replacements are going to be essential to making the Steam Deck stand the test of time.”

Other spare parts that won’t be available on day one include replacements for the Steam Deck’s touchpads and face buttons. Most of the components are reasonably priced. For example, you’ll need to spend $20 to repair a broken thumbstick. The most expensive part on the list is a new motherboard, which will set you back $350. With a complete handheld from Valve starting at $400, it won’t be economical to build your own Steam Deck with parts from iFixit, but for most repairs, the company will have you covered.  

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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