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09-26-2018 Science&Technology
Instagram’s co-founders are leaving Facebook

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who co-founded Instagram eight years ago, are leaving the service’s parent company, Facebook. The news of their departure comes from The New York Times, and is corroborated by a statement from Systrom. The duo have resigned from the company and will leave in the coming weeks. Explaining their plans to take a break and think about what’s next, Systrom said: We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do. Although Systrom and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had only kind words for each other following this move, Bloomberg reports that there was tension between the Instagram co-founders and their boss over the direction that the app would take, particularly around the time it was allegedly forced to copy Snapchat’s ephemeral content format in the form of Instagram Stories. TechCrunch’s sources note that this stress was exacerbated by Zuckerberg’s wresting of autonomy from Systrom and Krieger. Instagram has come a long way since it first evolved from a location check-in app called Burbn into a photo sharing network back in 2010. It was sold to Facebook for $1 billion a couple of years later, and is closing in on a billion users worldwide – making it the third largest social network on the planet. Naturally, it’s an incredibly valuable part of Facebook’s business. And now that it’s without a CEO and CTO (and a COO too – Marne Levine quit that position earlier this month to lead partnerships at Facebook), it’s future is uncertain. It’s also worrying to note the duo’s departure at this time, as it follows numerous recent resignations from other top executives at Facebook. WhatsApp’s co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have left the company, as did Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos. And last year, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey resigned amid legal tussles over whether he indeed invented the VR hardware he sold to Facebook. As Krieger noted, few social networks ever hit the billion-user mark, and that’s a sign of the tremendous impact Instagram has had on the world. I can’t wait to see what he and Systrom dream up next.

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09-26-2018 Politics
Kavanaugh denies sexual assault allegations on Fox News

Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Monday took to cable news to offer another forceful defense against allegations of sexual assault from his time in high school and college that are imperiling his odds of ascending to the Supreme Court. “I’m not going anywhere,” Kavanaugh, accompanied by his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum in a pre-recorded interview. “I’m not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process, and we’re looking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity, my lifelong record,” he added. “My lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality for women, starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old.” The broadcast marks the most extraordinary escalation yet of the full-court press by the White House and congressional Republicans to salvage Kavanaugh’s nomination. He is already set to testify before senators later this week on the allegations. “I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity,” Kavanaugh told MacCallum. “I know I’m telling the truth. I know my lifelong record, and I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process. I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.” Kavanaugh has been accused by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of drunkenly forcing himself on her at a house party in Maryland more than 30 years ago, when they both were in high school. Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker in a report published Sunday evening that Kavanaugh “thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent,” during a drunken dormitory party when Kavanaugh and she were students at Yale University. “The truth is, I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise,” Kavanaugh said on Fox. “I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.” Kavanaugh emphasized that the legal drinking age was 18 during his time in high school at Georgetown Prep in Maryland, and acknowledged that “people might have had too many beers on occasion.” But he upheld his categorical denial of allegations by Ford and Ramirez. “I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret, or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about,” he said. He also maintained that when he drank in high school, he never consumed so much alcohol that he couldn’t remember the events of the previous night. “That never happened,” Kavanaugh said. ...

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09-26-2018 Science&Technology

COBBLING TOGETHER A DIY dossier about a celebrity is a time-honored internet tradition. Scan a few Wikipedia pages, click through some Google images, scroll through social media accounts, maybe some dubious gossip sites, and you have a snapshot of the person’s life. Now Google wants to do that detective work for you, accessible in a format that owes a lot to Instagram stories, except showcasing the highlights of a person’s life instead of just their day. The new feature is part of a slew of search changes Google announced on Monday, to mark the company’s 20th anniversary. Google’s presentation focused on major shifts in how people search, including the move from text to visual search. To help users with the transition, Google said it would be “doubling down on stories in search,” to provide immersive, full-screen content using AMP, the company’s standard for making mobile pages faster. As an example of the celebrity story treatment, Google shared the highlight reel for chef Giada De Laurentiis, which will appear when you search “Giada” on mobile, just after Google’s synopsis of her Wikipedia page but before any external links. The story includes a timeline: In 2003, De Laurentiis rose to fame with her first TV show. In 2009, De Laurentiis had her only child with her now ex-husband Todd Thompson. Google also includes the kid’s name and date of birth. The result is sanitized trivia, nothing about her new boyfriend or her relationship with Bobby Flay—both of which appear in desktop search. But the story format is appealing (why else would Instagram have copied Snapchat?). The company says it will soon work with publishers who also want to experiment with the format. There was another instance of Instagram déjà-vu during Monday’s presentation. Last year, Google debuted an image recognition feature, Google Lens, which lets people identify elements within a photo, like a landmark or a type of dog. In coming weeks, Google Lens is coming to Google Images. Monday’s demo used the example of searching Google Images for nursery room decorations; items within the image, like the crib, were hyperlinked to a site where you can purchase the item, just like Instagram’s shoppable posts. But Google isn’t competing with Instagram, so much as it’s competing with everyone. The morning’s unifying theme? Let Google do that for you. The search changes announced Monday seemed more attuned to keeping users on and pushing external links further down the page. It’s another sign of how Google has reversed its traditional goal of moving users off Google as quickly as possible to the information they want. Now, Google wants to keep users on its properties as much as possible. The strategy promises incredible convenience to consumers, but benefits Google most of all. ...

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09-26-2018 Science&Technology
Apple Streaming Service Takes Conservative Approach: No Sex, Profanity, Violence

Apple's streaming service, expected to launch in March 2019, will take a conservative approach and focus on family-friendly programming with no sex, profanity, or violence on any of its shows. Investments in Apple original programming have been bountiful, in preparation for the service's launch. It remains to be seen, however, how the decision to focus on shows such as The Elephant Queen and Wolfwalkers will affect the Apple streaming service's competitive edge over rivals such as Netflix. Apple Streaming Service Will Be Family-Friendly According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is taking a conservative approach with its streaming service, making it clear to producers and agents that it does not want "gratuitous sex, profanity or violence" in its shows, as well as political and religious subjects. Instead, Apple is angling for "high-quality shows with stars and broad appeal." One example that was cited in the report is Vital Signs, a scripted drama that was based on the life of hip hop mogul Dr. Dre. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down to watch the show, which featured drugs, guns, and an orgy. Cook told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that the show was too violent and that Apple's streaming service should not show it, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Keeping Apple's "squeaky clean" image for its streaming service has reportedly delayed or interfered with many projects. Apple employees in Los Angeles have already started referring to the streaming service as "expensive NBC" because the planned content was so bland. Apple has always leaned toward the conservative side, such as with its ban against adult content on its App Store. It appears that the same mindset will be applied to its streaming service, which will likely affect how it stacks up against rival services. Apple vs Netflix Apple has invested a lot of money in its streaming service, but the conservative approach may hurt the company in the long run, especially amid competition against its rivals in the space. For example, Netflix has not shied away from controversial content with shows such as 13 Reasons Why, Narcos, and House of Cards. Apple streaming service shows, based on the report, will never carry programs with similar themes. Sex, profanity, and violence are not the only keys to a successful streaming service, but Apple's restriction on content may alienate certain parts of its intended audience. If the company does not move away from its family-friendly approach, the streaming service may find itself struggling to produce entertaining content.

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09-26-2018 Science&Technology
Elon Musk Predicts When SpaceX Will Build Its First Base on Mars

paceX wants to build a human settlement on Mars, and it could arrive before the end of the next decade. CEO Elon Musk revealed over the weekend that the company’s famed rendering, which shows a series of BFR rockets stationed on the red planet alongside roads and a more permanent base, could become reality by 2028. It’s a big update on the company’s Mars settlement plans, which Musk explained in detail at the International Astronautical Congress a year ago. Musk said he plans to send two unmanned BFRs in 2022, followed by two more unmanned BFRs and two manned BFRs in 2024, in a timetable he described as “ambitious.” Earlier this month, the CEO announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa would take six to eight artists around the moon on the BFR in 2023, but while the new project appeared to coincide with the proposed Mars missions, Musk’s latest post confirms the company is still pressing ahead to move fast with its Mars plans. The six-ship fleet would serve as the starting point for a more ambitious colony. The BFR uses 31 Raptor engines powered by liquid oxygen and methane to ensure humans visiting Mars can refuel using natural resources and return home. Each ship would carry 100 tons of supplies, initially serving as the humans’ homes. The passengers would be tasked with extracting around one tonne of ice per day, becoming self-sufficient and returning home with the harvested fuel. This initial project would lay the foundations for something bigger. Paul Wooster, principal Mars development engineer for SpaceX, said earlier this month that “the idea would be to expand out, start off not just with an outpost, but grow into a larger base, not just like there are in Antarctica, but really a village, a town, growing into a city and then multiple cities on Mars.” These cities would offer habitats, greenhouses, life support, and enable new experiments that answer some of the biggest questions around the red planet. SpaceX is actively developing the BFR for these missions. At the lunar mission announcement, Musk confirmed that the company plans “hop tests” of a few hundred kilometers at the Boca Chica, Texas, facility, as early as next year. ...

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09-26-2018 Science&Technology
Roku’s new 4K Premiere streaming players start at $40, ship next month

For as many media streaming devices as there are on the market, few can deliver 4K content at an affordable price. At least, that was the case before today, as Roku has unveiled a new set of media players that stream in 4K starting at $39.99. That’s cheaper than any 4K streamer you’ll find from Google, Apple, or Amazon. First up we have the Roku Premiere, which can play HD, 4K, and HDR content. It comes with a remote, high-speed HDMI cable, power adapter, and two AAA batteries, supports 802.11 (b/g/n) WiFi, and features DTS Digital Surround and Dolby pass through over HDMI. The Roku Premiere’s design looks nearly identical to that of the Roku Express, but offers significantly higher resolutions for just $10 more than the Express. Roku also introduced a Roku Premiere+, which will be a Walmart exclusive and comes with an added voice remote that features TV power and volume buttons. Walmart’s Roku Premiere+ will run for $49.99, and both devices will be available on October 7th. You can see the Roku Premiere in action in the short video below: In addition to the two new devices, Roku is also updating its high-end Roku Ultra player. The device itself is the same – HD, 4K, and HDR streaming, 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet, voice remote, and night listening mode – but the package will also include a pair of JBL headphones, valued at $39.95. The new Roku Ultra will still cost $99.99, and Roku says that it should also begin shipping on October 7th. Finally, Roku is also rolling out Roku OS 9 for its streaming devices and Roku OS 8.2 for Roku TVs. Some of the new features include automatic volume leveling, speech clarity, and free genre voice search, as well as support for Spotify, Pandora Premium, and iHeartRadio. Google Assistant support is coming as well. Roku OS 8.2 is rolling out to Roku TVs now, while Roku OS 9 hits streaming players in early November and TVs in early 2019.

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09-26-2018 Science&Technology
Microsoft unifying search across Bing, Office, and Windows

Microsoft is shaking up the search boxes found in Bing, Office, Windows, Teams, and everywhere else it shows up in productivity apps. Under the common banner "Microsoft Search" the plan is to provide a consistent, unified view of search results that encompasses not just your own documents and emails but also your organization's content and conversations. With the change, the search bar will become more prominent, with consistent behavior wherever it appears. This will include new features such as automatic suggestions—merely clicking the search box will present personalized results, such as documents you've edited recently or contacts you email regularly—and the ability to search for commands within the application. This means that instead of hunting through ribbons and dialog boxes, you'll be able to search for an application function and activate it from the search results. The new search will subsume Windows search and show local files among its results. Greater value will be experienced by organizations using Microsoft 365. When signed into an Office 365 account, search results will include documents in SharePoint or OneDrive, conversations in Teams or Yammer, and contacts from the company directory, even when performing a search from Bing. Eventually, Microsoft plans to offer third-party data sources, too. The new search experience is available in the Office Web apps and Bing today (as an opt-in preview) for corporate users. It's also available in the SharePoint and Outlook mobile apps. In the first half of next year, it will be extended to the Office desktop apps and Windows 10.

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09-26-2018 Science&Technology
Planet Earth Wobbles As It Spins, and Now Scientists Know Why

Humans are responsible for some of the wobble in Earth's spin. Since 1899, the Earth's axis of spin has shifted about 34 feet (10.5 meters). Now, research quantifies the reasons why and finds that a third is due to melting ice and rising sea levels, particularly in Greenland — placing the blame on the doorstep of anthropogenic climate change. Another third of the wobble is due to land masses expanding upward as the glaciers retreat and lighten their load. The final portion is the fault of the slow churn of the mantle, the viscous middle layer of the planet. "We have provided evidence for more than one single process that is the key driver" for altering the Earth's axis, said Surendra Adhikari, an Earth system scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and a lead researcher on the new study. [Why Does the Earth Rotate?] Wobbly Earth Scientists have long known that the distribution of mass around the Earth determines its spin, much like how the shape and weight distribution of a spinning top determines how it moves. Also, Earth's spin isn't perfectly even, as scientists know thanks to slight wiggles in the movements of the stars across the night sky that have been recorded for thousands of years, said Erik Ivins, a study co-author and a senior research scientist at JPL. Since the 1990s, space-based measurements have also confirmed that the Earth's axis of rotation drifts by a few centimeters a year, generally toward Hudson Bay in northeastern Canada. Researchers knew that a proportion of this wobble was caused by glacial isostatic adjustment, an ongoing process since the end of the last ice age 16,000 years ago. As the glaciers retreat, they relieve the land underneath of their mass. Gradually, over thousands of years, the land responds to this relief by rising like bread dough. (In some places on the edges of the ancient ice sheets, the land might also collapse because the ice had forced it to bulge upward.) But in the new research, published in the November issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Adhikari and his colleagues found that glacial isostatic adjustment was only responsible for about 1.3 inches (3.5 centimeters) of axis wobble per year. That was only about a third of the wobble — 4 inches (10.5 cm) — observed each year over the 20th century. To fill in the gap, the research team built a computer model of the physics of Earth's spin, feeding in data about changes in the balance of land-based ice and ocean waters over the 20th century. The researchers also accounted for other shifts in land and water, such as groundwater depletion and the building of artificial reservoirs, all part of humanity's terraforming of the planet. [What in the World Would Happen If Earth Were to Spin Backward?] ...

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09-25-2018 Science&Technology
Galileo’s newly discovered letter shows his clever attempt to outsmart the Catholic Church

When astronomer Galileo Galilei got in trouble with the Catholic Church over his theories of the universe in the 17th century, he didn’t have the benefit of a public-relations flack to help him with damage control. So he took matters into his own hands, and engaged in some old-fashioned trickery. A newly discovered letter written by Galileo shows how the scientist attempted to get the Inquisition off his back. In an exclusive report for Nature, Alison Abbott explains that historians browsing the archives of the Royal Society have uncovered evidence that Galileo edited his own words to seem less critical of the Church. The story begins in 1613, when Galileo wrote a famous letter defending the heliocentric model of the solar system, according to which the Earth and other planets rotate around the Sun. This theory had been proposed in 1543 by Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, published on his deathbed. In the years since Copernicus’s death, Galileo had invented a powerful telescope and studied the heavens himself, finding evidence that the theory checked out. This went against Church doctrine, which held that the Earth was the center of the universe—not the Sun. But in the 1613 letter Galileo wrote to his friend, the mathematician Benedetto Castelli, he said that the heliocentric model didn’t inherently contradict the Bible. Rather, “he argued that the scant references in the Bible to astronomical events should not be taken literally, because scribes had simplified these descriptions so that they could be understood by common people,” as Abbott explains for Nature. Unfortunately, the Church was pretty into literal interpretations at the time. So when the Inquisition got ahold of a copy of the letter to Castellini in 1615, which had been forwarded by Dominican friar Niccolò Lorini, Galileo had reason to be concerned. Here’s where our boy Galileo gets deliciously sneaky, according to the new evidence, uncovered by historians Salvatore Ricciardo, Franco Giudice, and Michele Camerota in a forthcoming article for the Royal Society journal Notes and Records. It seems Galileo went ahead and wrote a different, more delicately phrased version of his 1613 letter to Castelli. He then asked a friendly cleric in Rome, Piero Dini, to pass it along to the Vatican, saying that his enemies in the Church had doctored the original letter to make him look bad. Among the key changes Galileo made to the Castelli letter, Abbott explains: In one case, Galileo referred to certain propositions in the Bible as “false if one goes by the literal meaning of the words.” He crossed through the word “false,” and replaced it with “look different from the truth.” In another section, he changed his reference to the Scriptures “concealing” its most basic dogmas, to the weaker “veiling.” ...

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09-25-2018 Science&Technology
NASA's new satellite uses lasers to track Earth's melting ice

NASA’s says its new $1 billion satellite will give humanity a stronger, data-backed vision of exactly how fast Earth’s ice is melting. The satellite, ICESat-2, which is traveling every 91 days, is the size of a Smart car and will send lasers back down to Earth countless times in order to give scientists a precise measurement—down to within a centimeter—of the planet’s polar ice sheets and how they’re changing, according to the agency. Scientists will be able to examine how the ice is responding to changes in the atmosphere and the ocean, giving them a picture over time of what is making the ice melt or not in certain areas. Once they gather this data about the thickness of sea ice and the height of ice sheets, it will inform their future models to better predict potential seal level rise scenarios, NASA says. “As the climate is warming, we are seeing changes in the sea level—sea level is rising,” Helen Fricker, a professor of glaciology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who worked with NASA on the ICESat-2 project, told WBUR. “But the ultimate thing that we're trying to get to is, how much ice will we lose and how quickly will we lose it?” According to NASA, melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica has increased the global sea level more than a millimeter per year, which is a third of the overall increase. ICESat-2, which launched on Sept. 15, is capable of providing much more comprehensive coverage of ice loss across the world. “In the time it takes someone to blink, sort of half a second, ICESat-2 is going to collect 5,000 measurements in each of its six beams, and it’s going to do that every hour, every day … it’s a tremendous amount of data,” Tom Neumann, NASA’s deputy project scientist, told the Guardian. According to Fricker, the first data from ICESat-2 will start coming back by mid-October. “It's going to be all hands on deck for several months while we work out what these data are telling us, and we really wait. It's incredibly exciting,” she said.

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09-25-2018 Science&Technology
Google Employees Resign In Protest Of Project Dragonfly, A Censored Search Engine For China

After more than two years of working in Google, Senior Google scientist Jack Poulson has quit the company in revolt against Project Dragonfly. Poulson, who began working for the company in May 2016, revealed that he lifted his interests to the higher-ups at Google after news of them covertly working on a censored version of its search engine in China spread like wildfire. Dubbed Dragonfly, the search system was aimed toward cutting off content that China's government believes as sensitive, including information about democracy, free speech, and human rights. After a thorough discussion with his bosses, Poulson came to a decision in mid-August that he could no longer continue working for Google, citing that the Dragonfly was a forfeiture of everyone's public human rights commitment. Poulson's final day at the company was Aug. 31. "I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe. There is an all-too-real possibility that other nations will attempt to leverage our actions in China in order to demand our compliance with their security demands," Poulson wrote on his resignation letter Before working for Google, Poulson previously served as an assistant professor at the department of mathematics in Stanford University. Other than Poulson, BuzzFeed reports that six other employees quit their jobs at Google, mentioning a lack of corporate transparency as a reason. "It is our policy to not comment on individual employees," a Google spokesperson said when asked for a comment about Poulson's resignation. Google Remains Close-Mouthed It has been six weeks since Dragonfly has been revealed to the public, but Google has yet to address concerns about the project. Just this month, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, was a no-show at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, where he would have been questioned about the China matter. Reports say that only a few hundred of the company's 88,000 employees had knowledge about Dragonfly before it was openly revealed. Since then, more than 1,400 employees have inked a letter in protest for Google's censorship plans. On a related note, Google also launched a censored search engine in China in 2006, but ceased operating in the country in 2010 after the Chinese government blocked websites, hacked people's Gmail accounts, and limited free speech. Other than Dragonfly, employees also grasped that Google was working closely with the Pentagon to create an artificially intelligent technology for drone warfare in March.

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09-25-2018 Science&Technology
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk lays out ambitious deadline for BFR-built Mars Base Alpha

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced what may be the company’s most ambitious deadline yet, stating that he believes a full ‘Mars Base Alpha’ – a preliminary city on the Red Planet – could be completed as soon as 2028. In essence, Musk has implied that SpaceX could go from completing the first prototype spaceship segments to a full-fledged Martian city in a decade, a goal that might be even more ambitious than President John F. Kennedy urging – in 1961 – the U.S. to commit itself to landing humans on the Moon “before this decade is out”. In fact, the comparison becomes increasingly apt after examining the finer details of both major proclamations. For Kennedy’s famous May 1961 speech, NASA had launched its first astronaut ever – and only on a suborbital mission – less than three weeks prior, and would not place an astronaut in orbit for another nine months after that. This was perhaps the boldest aspect of Kennedy’s announcement – he wanted NASA to go from a tiny, suborbital rocket (Mercury-Redstone) to Saturn V – a rocket that could literally place five fully-loaded Redstone rockets into low Earth orbit in a single launch – in well under a decade. Examining NASA in the early 1960s, the challenges ahead of SpaceX may be quite forgiving in comparison. While NASA had less than three years of experience launching extremely small launch vehicles and placing even smaller (but still pioneering) satellites and space probes into orbit prior to May 1961, SpaceX has a full 60 successful launches of its massive Falcon 9 and Heavy rockets to bastion its expertise, as well more than 30 successful rocket landings and 15 reuses of a number of those recovered Falcon 9 boosters. In terms of capability and size gaps, SpaceX’s journey from a Falcon 9 or Heavy-sized rocket to BFR is more akin to the Saturn I and IB rockets that preceded Saturn V, the latter of which is shown above. It’s still going to be a massive challenge for the rocket company, particularly with respect to the move from aluminum-lithium propellant tanks to all carbon-composite tanks and structures, but SpaceX arguably has it easy compared to NASA. ...

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09-20-2018 Science&Technology
09-20-2018 Cars

CONSIDER THE PICKLE in which Ferrari finds itself. Consumers want SUVs. Regulators want electrics. Thus will the iconic car company make a plug-in hybrid SUV, to be called the Purosangue—Italian for thoroughbred. Quotidian demands, met. The true Ferrari aficionado, though, does not want vehicles that cater to hand-wringing bureaucrats or drivers who need to do things like go places with their kids and groceries. Which is why, at its Capital Markets Day conference this week, the automaker announced the launch of a new vehicle line it calls “Icona. The line starts with a pair of sports cars that mix 1940s and 50, classic racing style with the best 21st century engineering has to offer—including the most powerful engine Ferrari has ever made. The two cars, the Monza SP1 and Monza SP2, are nearly identical, except the SP2 has room for two humans, and the SP1’s tonneau cover blocks off half the cockpit, leaving just enough room for just the driver. The cars are styled simply, with nary a bold line or hulking wing to be found. A slight narrowing at the waist gives the Monzas a near-hourglass figure. As Ferrari’s press team puts it, “Visually complex solutions, such as those seen on recent racing cars, have been avoided.” Ferrari says both cars are a callback to the 1948 166 MM, one of the cars that helped it rack up World Sports Car Championship victories in the 40s and 50s. The engine in question is a 6.5-liter V12, good for nearly 800 horsepower (when revved up to 8,500 rpm) and 530 pound-feet of torque. Put those numbers in a carbon fiber ballet slipper of a car that weighs just 3,306 pounds (the SP2, which has a whole second seat, is 45 pounds heavier), and you get from zero to 62 mph in less than 3 seconds. (If you need proof of how much fun electric cars can be, consider that that’s barely fast enough to beat many battery-powered daily drivers.) Stay on the gas for another five seconds, and you’ll hit 124 mph. Stay on it even longer, and you’ll eventually top out at 186 mph. Which should be plenty fast, given the lack of a windshield. Eager to ensure you look the part in this retromobile—rumored to cost seven figures—Ferrari brought in luxury outfits Loro Piana and Berluti to make a “gentlemen-driver-inspired” helmet, gloves, scarf, driving shoes, and racing overalls. Fancy, fancy overalls. The Guardian reports Ferrari will produce fewer than 500 of the things, and—no surprise—it has already sold them all. But hey, maybe you’d like a nice, practical, SUV instead?

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09-19-2018 Cars
Elon Musk extends Tesla’s free supercharging for life offer Just one more day. Kirsten Korosec@kirst

esla has been phasing out free unlimited access to its network of fast-chargers for a couple of years now. The last vestige of that program was a referral system that was supposed to expire at midnight Sunday. But it’s been given new life for at least one more day, and perhaps even longer to buyers in Europe. On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that the referral program would be extended until Tuesday night after customers reported technical problems. The extension is just for new Model S, Model X and Model 3 Performance buyers who receive a referral from an existing owner. Tesla began phasing out free unlimited access to its supercharger network when it announced that customers who buy cars after January 1, 2017 will have 400 kilowatt-hours, or about 1,000 miles, of free charging every year. Once owners surpassed that amount, they would be charged a small fee. Tesla then narrowed the free unlimited access to superchargers through a referral program and only to buyers of performance versions of the Model S, Model X and Model 3. The free unlimited supercharger referral program is now set to end September 18. However, it’s possible that Musk will extend the program to customers outside of North America. A Twitter follower of Musk’s wrote “It would be great if day 1 international reservations of the Model 3 performance could get a shot at this, though.” Musk said the company would see what it could do, before noting that the program needed to be brought to an end because it’s not sustainable long term. ...

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09-18-2018 Science&Technology
Everything you need to know about Apple Watch Series 4

Of all Apple's big announcements during their September "Gather Round" event, the Apple Watch was arguably the most exciting. The Series 4 marks the first physical redesign of the Apple Watch since it was first released. The biggest feature is the new, nearly edge-to-edge display which garners more than 30 percent more usable real estate. Series 4 also has an updated casing that has more subtly rounded corners to match that of the display, and even manages to be slightly thinner. If you have a lot of bands, don't worry, all existing watch bands will still fit. The 38mm bands fit the new 40mm size, and the older 42mm bands fit the 44mm. To go with the larger display, Apple has re-worked many of the UI elements, including updating existing watch faces and including new ones. Developers are able to include new aspects to their complications, such as to accommodate the rounded corners or the larger space on the updated Infograph Modular watch face. Apple signature Digital Crown now has an entirely new mechanism with haptic feedback given as it is rotated, allowing for even greater precision. It is both 30 percent smaller than the last generation, while using 21 percent more parts. Within the updated Digital Crown is a sensor, which is also present on the rear of the watch. Touching both of these electronic sensors at the same time completes the circuit and makes another new feature possible — an ECG. The screen will count you down and give you the results of your ECG and any potential abnormalities it detects. The ECG is only one of a few new heart health monitoring features. Series 4 is also able to detect low heart rate as well as AFib. Unfortunately, some of these new features won't be available at launch, and instead will show up in a future software update. Inside is a new second generation accelerometer with twice the dynamic range, with sampling happening eight times more frequently, and capable of measuring up to 32G. Thanks to that, Apple Watch Series 4 can now detect falls. In particular, it can detect straight down falls, slips, and trips. If it detects a fall, an alert will appear on the Apple Watch. If you're ok, the alert can be dismissed. Otherwise, you can alert emergency services with the watch's SOS feature. In a situation where you may be unresponsive, Apple Watch will alert emergency services and send your location to your emergency contact if it fails to detect any movement within 60 seconds. Other improvements include 50 percent louder speakers, new and rearranged microphones, a seriously fast 64-bit S4 processor, better cellular reception, and Bluetooth 5. ...

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