The New Chinese GPS System

A GPS from the Chinese company Beidou

On Monday 30th April, the Chinese company Beidou has launched 2 new satellites to increase the precision of its own global positioning system, named global positioning Beidou / Compass.

The machinery has been sent to outer space from the Chinese base of Xichang, in the Chinese province of Sichuan.

These 2 new satellites are the number 12 and 13 of the Beidou project for the Chinese GPS and are the first mechanisms sent to outer space that the country has launched at once with only one propulsor.

China is also planning to send another 3 robots to the space during this year.

This system or project started to operate last December 2011, after 10 years of calculations and practices, to preparate every scenario and possible situations.

The Asian country has created this plan to continue to innovate with technology, and to increase the information available in different topics, like weather, fire control, telecommunications… The scheme will also help the economy, as it will help the government to find about transport and oil prospecting.

The project is calculated to end in 2020, with more than 30 satellites orbiting the Earth.


The Chinese project is not the only idea governments have had to make new GPS systems so not only the American one is use.

In Europe, there is also the Galileo project where many of the countries in the continent are taking part with millionaire investments.

India has also got its own GPS navigation, although it is not completely ready yet. The Indian scheme, the Geo Augmented Navigational system (GAGAN), will soon launch a satellite too, followed by some others to cover the full Indian landmass.


Homo erectus, The Pyromaniacs

This Tuesday, a group of international archaeologists discovered the traces of what looks like the oldest controlled fire made by humans. The remains and some microscopic residues of ash and burnt bones were found in the South African cave of Wonderwerk.

It is proved the fire was controlled and probably caused by the Homo erectus, the most possible candidate as the times match, as the fireplace was found 30 metres inside the cave, which practically discards the fact the fire was caused by wildfires.

However, the traces given are not conclusive when saying the hominids at that time ‘started’ the fire themselves. As Michael Chazan, from University of Toronto in Canada, says, it is also possible that the Homo erectus carried the fire from outside the cave and brought inside, which rules out the theory that says that they made the fire.

This discovery is not only important because it is the oldest proved hearth in history, having 1 million years, but because it will also be very useful for anthropologists to show how at this time, hominids developed a taste for food. This finding will reactivate the debate that cooking changed forever the human anatomy.

As Richard Wrangham says, at Harvard University, this finding is an exciting breakthrough, which makes many scientists think that other areas from South Africa with 1 million years old should be re-examinated.

Wrangham gives lots of importance to this discovery as it could be a conclusive prove that around that time humans started cooking food.

Despite this, Chazan also argues that the tiny trace of fire really contrast the great amount of ashes found in other fires of more recent sites. This, says Chazan, indicates that the Homo Erectus didn’t use the fire frequently or cooked regularly.

Wonderwerk Cave

This is not the first finding of extremely old hearths. The oldest hearth found (before the South African was discovered) was found a few years ago, the residues of ashes, stones and bones were found in an Israeli land, and dated from only 790,000 years ago.

However, many scientists state that humans were able to cook and control fire much earlier, since 1.9 million years ago, although there are no scientific proves.

It is clear that this mystery will be difficult to solve, but, as Wrangham says, the problem is so fascinating.