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Industry & Technology

Nikola Motor Company shows off two real trucks and… a new jet ski?

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 3:54pm

Ars makes every effort to cover its own travel costs. We covered the flight out to Scottsdale, Arizona, but Nikola covered one night in a nearby hotel.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Nikola Motor Company announced a slew of all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles on a cool Tuesday night in a warehouse surrounded by desert. The company seems to be positioning itself as the "trucker's Tesla," serving up Budweiser (supplied by partner-customer Anheuser-Busch) and country music to the same industry watchers and investors that Tesla usually courts.

Of the five products that Nikola CEO Trevor Milton talked about on Tuesday night, very little came as a true surprise to watchers of the company. There were two trucks: the Nikola Two and the Nikola Tre (for European markets), as well as a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) for off-roading, a military-grade UTV, and a previously unannounced jet ski.

Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Jaguar I-Pace wins World Car of the Year, World Green Car awards

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 3:15pm

NEW YORK—On Wednesday morning, the Jaguar I-Pace won this year's World Car of the Year award at the 2019 New York International Auto Show. It beat two other finalists, the Audi e-tron and Volvo's S60 and V60 twins to top honors, as voted by a panel of 86 journalists from around the world. Disclosure: for the second year in a row, I was one of those judges. We were asked to score each eligible car on a range of attributes, including safety, the environment, performance, design, and value, but only for vehicles we actually drove. You can see the list of eligible vehicles for this year's awards here. (Sorry, Tesla fans: the Model 3 is really rather good but went on sale too long ago to be considered for this year's awards.)

I'm not surprised that the I-Pace won; as a battery electric vehicle it scored highly on its green credentials, it's a joy to drive, and it looks stunning inside and out. Much of that can be said about the Volvos and the Audi, but if I had a place to charge it and I could afford one, the I-Pace would be my pick to replace our now-totaled Saabaru. (I don't, can't, and my wife gets to pick the next car anyway.)

The Audi and Jaguar were also contenders for the World Green Car award, joined by the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell car. It also really impressed me with a great interior and a calming driving style despite my continued skepticism for hydrogen as a fuel. I've repeatedly complained that it's taking the industry too long to get real about alternative powertrains, but the fact that two-thirds of the "green" cars were also finalists for the big trophy should be grounds for some optimism. In fact, as the Volvos are available as plug-in hybrid EVs, all three of the WCOTY finalists can be driven to the shops and back without burning a drop of gasoline.

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Xbox One with no discs: 'The way forward' or 'bad timing'?

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 3:06pm
Gamers give their verdict as Microsoft announces an "all-digital edition" of the console.

Nintendo Labo VR review: There’s no “Nintendo magic” inside these lenses

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 2:58pm

Enlarge / Your intrepid author, staring intensely into the Nintendo Labo VR universe. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Above all the other failings of Nintendo Labo VR, the biggest might be its lack of "Nintendo magic."

Virtual reality has already emerged as a millions-selling gaming genre, complete with beautiful, compelling, and unique experiences that scale from giant HTC Vive rooms to cramped PlayStation VR stations. When Nintendo barges into a new control paradigm, it usually tops the recent competition with either a hardware innovation, a game-design revelation, or a brilliant combination of the two.

But Nintendo Labo VR, the company's first serious VR product, is hamstrung by a nagging feeling that its solution to "VR-on-Switch" is the very thing getting in the way of the fun. Its players are constantly urged to get out of VR, whether by lengthy cardboard build times, pint-sized VR experiences, or the sheer strain of having a 720p Switch screen filtered through a pair of glass lenses.

Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Government in email privacy blunder

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 2:54pm
A department responsible for data protection shares the personal details of hundreds of journalists.

Netflix to trial showing top 10 lists to UK users

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 2:32pm
Streaming company Netflix is to trial showing UK users its most-watched shows over a weekly period.

NASA says Christina Koch will spend 328 days in space

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 2:11pm

Enlarge / There will be a lot of pizza nights for Christina Koch, NASA's newest extended-stay astronaut. (credit: NASA)

On Wednesday morning, NASA announced that Christina Koch, who is already living on board the International Space Station, will extend her mission to 328 days. By doing so, she will become the space agency's second astronaut to spend nearly a year inside the orbiting laboratory.

"It feels awesome," Koch said in a video interview from the station. "I have known that this is a possibility for a long time, and it's truly a dream come true to know that I can continue to work on the program that I have valued so highly my whole life, to continue to contribute to that, to give my best to that for as long as possible is a true honor and a dream come true."

Koch launched to the station on March 14, along with Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague. As a result of the schedule adjustment, she is now expected to remain in orbit until February 2020, when she returns in a Soyuz spacecraft with NASA astronaut Luca Parmitano and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. By doing so, Koch will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, surpassing the 288 days NASA's Peggy Whitson spent in space from 2017 to 2018.

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Star Wars: Mark Hamill supports superfan's emotional video

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 1:31pm
Mark Hamill supports a YouTuber who faced a backlash for his tearful reaction to the new Star Wars trailer.

Intel quits 5G modem business hours after Apple settles with Qualcomm

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 1:02pm

Enlarge / A 5G Intel logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona. (credit: Miquel Benitez/Getty Images)

Intel says it is canceling a line of smartphone 5G chips that had been slated for 2020 launches. The announcement comes on the same day Apple announced a wide-ranging settlement with Qualcomm over patent issues.

Qualcomm has long been a dominant player in the wireless chip business for smartphones. Apple worries about becoming too dependent on a single supplier. So in recent years, Apple has encouraged Intel to expand its wireless chip offerings and offered Intel a significant share of its business for 4G chips in the iPhone.

Then last year, as Apple's legal battle with Qualcomm heated up, Intel became Apple's sole supplier for 4G wireless chips in the iPhone. Intel additionally was working to develop 5G chips for Apple to use in future versions of the iPhone. But recent reports have indicated that Intel was "missing deadlines" for the wireless chip that was slated to go into the 2020 model of the iPhone.

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Google to police new app developers more closely

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 12:34pm
Apps from unfamiliar developers will be scrutinised more deeply before they go on the Play Store.

UK to introduce porn age-checks in July

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 12:34pm
Sites that fail to comply will face being blocked by internet service providers.

Tolkien was right: Scholars conclude Beowulf likely the work of single author

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 11:30am

Enlarge / Illustration of Beowulf about to battle a fire-breathing dragon. A new study using a statistical technique called stylometry provides further evidence the poem was the work of a single author. (credit: Public domain)

The epic poem Beowulf is the most famous surviving work of Old English literature. For decades, scholars have hotly debated both when the poem was composed and whether it was the work of a single anonymous author ("the Beowulf poet"). Lord of the Rings' scribe J.R.R. Tolkien was among those who famously championed the single-author stance. Now researchers at Harvard University have conducted a statistical analysis and concluded that there was very likely just one author, further bolstering Tolkien's case. They published their findings in a recent paper in Nature Human Behavior.

Set in Scandinavia, Beowulf recounts the adventures of its titular hero. The Danish King Hrothgar's mead hall is under attack from a monster called Grendel. Beowulf obligingly slays the beast, incurring the wrath of Grendel's equally monstrous mother. He slays her, too, and eventually becomes king of his people, the Geats. Some 50 years after those adventures, Beowulf slays a dragon, although he is killed in the process. Scholars believe many of the characters are based on historical figures in sixth-century Scandinavia.

The original manuscript dates back to between the eighth and early 11th centuries; a more precise date is one of the most heated academic debates about Beowulf. The second debate centers on whether Beowulf is the work of many different authors, stitched together from multiple sources, or a single person. According to Madison Krieger, a postdoc in evolutionary dynamics at Harvard University and one of the new paper's authors, the questions about Beowulf's authorship began in earnest in 1815 with the publication of the first widely available edition of the poem.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Axiom soccer indie game takes a shot at goal

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 8:24am
Marc Cieslak reviews the game Axiom Soccer - a mashup between football and a third person shooter.

Apple and Qualcomm settle billion-dollar lawsuit

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 8:18am
The surprise settlement brings a long-running legal battle between the two tech firms to an end.

TikTok: Apple and Google block video sharing app in India

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 8:09am
The move comes after a court called for a ban on the video app over concerns it put children at risk.

Technology to keep dementia patients out of hospital

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 1:09am
Radar technology and tiny brain-monitors are just some of the devices being tested by a new research centre.

Anti-vax moms sue NYC as US heads toward record measles spread

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 12:43am

Enlarge / NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 10: A sign warns people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg on April 10, 2019, in New York City. As a measles epidemic continues to spread, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a state of emergency and mandated residents of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg at the center of the outbreak to get vaccinated for the viral disease. (credit: Getty | Spencer Platt)

Five unnamed mothers in New York City filed a lawsuit Monday, April 15, seeking to block the city's mandatory vaccination order in areas hit by a massive measles outbreak that has raged since last October.

City health officials announced the order earlier this month as they declared a public health emergency over the outbreak, which has sickened 329 people so far—mostly children. According to the city's order, all unvaccinated people in affected ZIP codes must receive the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, prove immunity, or have a valid medical exemption. Violators could face a fine of $1,000.

In the lawsuit, the mothers claim that the outbreak does not constitute a dangerous epidemic (though the virus can cause severe complications and even death) and that the city's orders are "arbitrary and capricious." Moreover, they allege that the MMR vaccine has significant safety concerns (this is false; side effects beyond mild, temporary discomfort are exceedingly rare) and that the order violates their religious freedom.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The robot that tidies up bedrooms

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 12:10am
Robots are good at repetitive tasks but struggle with new objects. Can they be trained to overcome that?

What do drones and GPS owe to a 1744 shipwreck?

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 12:08am
When HMS Victory sank, she took with her an early prototype of the gyroscope, crucial to modern technology.

TED 2019: The $50 lab burger transforming food

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 12:07am
TED fellow Bruce Friedrich tells the TED conference about his vision for the future of food.

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