Ukrainian Engineers Scramble to Keep Mobile Phones Working

With Ukraine scrambling to keep communication lines open during the war, an army of engineers from the country’s phone companies has mobilized to help the public and policymakers stay in touch during repeated Russian missile and drone strikes.

The engineers, who typically go unseen and unsung in peacetime, often work around the clock to maintain or restore phone service, sometimes braving minefields to do so. After Russian strikes took out the electricity that cellphone towers usually run on, they revved up generators to keep the towers on.

“I know our guys – my colleagues – are very exhausted, but they’re motivated by the fact that we are doing an important thing,” Yuriy Dugnist, an engineer with Ukrainian telecommunications company Kyivstar, said after crunching through 15 centimeters of fresh snow to reach a fenced-in mobile phone tower on the western fringe of Kyiv, the capital.

Dugrist and his coworkers offered a glimpse of their new daily routines, which involve using an app on their own phones to monitor which of the scores of phone towers in the capital area were receiving electricity, either during breaks from the controlled blackouts being used to conserve energy or from the generators that kick in to provide backup power.

One entry ominously read, in English, “Low Fuel.”

Stopping off at a service station before their rounds, the team members filled up eight 20-liter jerrycans with diesel fuel for a vast tank under a generator that relays power up a 50-meter cell tower in a suburban village that has had no electricity for days.

It’s one of many Ukrainian towns that have had intermittent power, or none at all, in the wake of multiple rounds of devastating Russian strikes in recent weeks targeting the country’s infrastructure – power plants in particular.

Kyivstar is the largest of Ukraine’s three main mobile phone companies, with some 26 million customers – or the equivalent of about two-thirds of the country’s population before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion drove millions of people abroad, even if many have since returned.

The diesel generators were installed at the foot of the cell phone towers since long before the invasion, but they were rarely needed. Many Western countries have offered up similar generators and transformers to help Ukraine keep electricity running as well as possible after Russia’s blitz.

After emergency blackouts prompted by a round of Russian strikes on Nov. 23, Kyivstar deployed 15 teams of engineers simultaneously and called in “all our reserves” to troubleshoot the 2,500 mobile stations in their service area, Dugrist said.

He recalled rushing to the site of a destroyed cell tower when Russian forces pulled out of Irpin, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, earlier this year and getting there before Ukrainian minesweepers had arrived to give the all-clear signal.

The strain the war is putting on Ukraine’s mobile phone networks has reportedly driven up prices for satellite phone alternatives like Elon Musk’s Starlink system, which Ukraine’s military has used during the conflict, now in its 10th month.

After widespread infrastructure strikes last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy convened top officials to discuss the restoration work and supplies needed to safeguard the country’s energy and communication systems.

“Special attention is paid to the communication system,” he said, adding that no matter what the Russia has in mind, “we must maintain communication.”

Війна в Україні показала, що Європа «недостатньо сильна» – прем’єрка Фінляндії

Санна Марін вважає, що вторгнення Володимира Путіна та окупація частини України виявили як європейські слабкості, так і стратегічні помилки у відносинах з Росією.

Musk’s Company Aims to Soon Test Brain Implant in People

Tech billionaire Elon Musk said his Neuralink company is seeking permission to test its brain implant in people soon.

In a “show and tell” presentation livestreamed Wednesday night, Musk said his team is in the process of asking U.S. regulators to allow them to test the device. He said he thinks the company should be able to put the implant in a human brain as part of a clinical trial in about six months, though that timeline is far from certain.

Musk’s Neuralink is one of many groups working on linking brains to computers, efforts aimed at helping treat brain disorders, overcoming brain injuries and other applications.

The field dates to the 1960s, said Rajesh Rao, co-director of the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington. “But it really took off in the ’90s. And more recently we’ve seen lots of advances, especially in the area of communication brain computer interfaces.”

Rao, who watched Musk’s presentation online, said he doesn’t think Neuralink is ahead of the pack in terms of brain-computer interface achievements. “But … they are quite ahead in terms of the actual hardware in the devices,” he said.

The Neuralink device is about the size of a large coin and is designed to be implanted in the skull, with ultra-thin wires going directly into the brain. Musk said the first two applications in people would be restoring vision and helping people with little or no ability to operate their muscles rapidly use digital devices.

He said he also envisions that in someone with a broken neck, signals from the brain could be bridged to Neuralink devices in the spinal cord.

“We’re confident there are no physical limitations to enabling full body functionality,” said Musk, who recently took over Twitter and is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.

In experiments by other teams, implanted sensors have let paralyzed people use brain signals to operate computers and move robotic arms. In a 2018 study in the journal PLOS ONE, three participants with paralysis below the neck affecting all of their limbs used an experimental brain-computer interface being tested by the consortium BrainGate. The interface records neural activity from a small sensor in the brain to navigate things like email and apps.

A recent study in the journal Nature, by scientists at the Swiss research center NeuroRestore, identified a type of neuron activated by electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, allowing nine patients with chronic spinal cord injury to walk again.

Researchers have also been working on brain and machine interfaces for restoring vision. Rao said some companies have developed retinal implants, but Musk’s announcement suggested his team would use signals directly targeting the brain’s visual cortex, an approach that some academic groups are also pursuing, “with limited success.”

Neuralink did not immediately respond to an email to the press office. Dr. Jaimie Henderson, a neurosurgery professor at Stanford University who is an adviser for Neuralink, said one way Neuralink is different from some other devices is that it has the ability to reach into deeper layers of the brain. But he added: “There are lots of different systems that have lots of different advantages.”

«Аерофлот» пропонує пасажирам «діджитал-детокс» під час польоту – без фільмів і музики

В авіакомпанії запевнили, що йдеться про тимчасовий захід, оскільки в «Аерофлоті» вже шукають російських постачальників послуги, рішення очікується до Нового року

Arizona Aims to Become a Semiconductor Powerhouse

The United States is pushing to regain its position as a center for semiconductor manufacturing and research as part of a Biden administration plan to make the nation less reliant on supply chains in Asia. VOA’s Michelle Quinn reports from the Southwest state of Arizona on competition for billions of dollars in federal funding to bolster domestic chip manufacturing. Additional videographer: Levi Stallings

Якби Німеччина передала Україні систему Patriot, канцлеру та його країні дякували б усі покоління українців – Зеленський

Президент України Володимир Зеленський у вечірньому відеозверненні подякував Німеччині за рішення про визнання Голодомору геноцидом та сказав, якого ще рішення чекає Київ від цієї країни.

«Бундестаг проголосував за резолюцію, яка визнає Голодомор геноцидом українського народу. Це рішення для справедливості, для правди. І це дуже важливий сигнал багатьом іншим країнам світу, що російському реваншизму не вдасться переписати історію. Ще б одне рішення Німеччини, яке, безумовно, стане історичним, – передати Україні систему Patriot, – і пану канцлеру Шольцу, як і всьому поколінню сучасних німецьких політиків, дякуватимуть усі покоління українців», – сказав Зеленський.

Міністр оборони Польщі Маріуш Блащак 23 листопада заявив, що попросив Німеччину передати Україні запропоновані Варшаві системи протиракетної оборони і розмістити їх на західному кордоні країни з Польщею.

Натомість німецький уряд відповів, що обговорить цю пропозицію із союзниками по НАТО. 25 листопада генеральний секретар альянсу Єнс Столтенберґ не підтвердив, що для того, аби передати це озброєння Україні, потрібна згода всього Альянсу. США тим часом заявили, що поки не планують поставки систем Patriot Україні.

NYT: Зеленський запросив Маска в Україну

«Якщо ви хочете зрозуміти, що тут зробила Росія, приїжджайте в Україну, і ви побачите це на власні очі. Після цього ви скажете нам, як закінчити цю війну, хто її почав, і коли ми можемо її закінчити»