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Industry & Technology

Minecraft Earth: Minecraft's answer to Pokemon Go

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 2:29pm
Newsbeat is one of the first to get a look at the newly announced Minecraft augmented reality game

NASA chooses companies to design part of its Artemis lunar lander

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 2:27pm

Enlarge / Artist's concept of a lunar lander. (credit: NASA)

Although NASA's plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024 face some political headwinds, the space agency has taken its first concrete step toward making its ambitions a reality.

On Thursday, NASA chose 11 companies to develop concepts and prototypes for its lunar lander. The companies chosen for the awards, a total of $45.5 million for all contracts, include a mix of aerospace bluebloods such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, premier new space firms like SpaceX and Blue Origin, and smaller companies like Masten Space Systems. The companies have six months to complete their work.

The awards cover design work for two of the three components of NASA's proposed "Human Landing System." As presently envisioned, NASA's plan for landing humans on the Moon will involve a "transfer" vehicle to carry the lander from a Gateway in a high orbit above the Moon down to low-lunar orbit, a "descent" vehicle to carry the crew down to the surface, and then an "ascent" vehicle to separate from the descent module and ferry the astronauts back into low-lunar orbit.

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American man accused in $9m net address theft

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 1:45pm
US prosecutors claim a "deceptive" scheme was used to take control of valuable net addresses.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, reviewed

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 1:10pm

I'll admit to being a little trepidatious reviewing the Toyota Corolla Hatchback. I didn't exactly gel with the new Camry, and the two cars share the same underpinnings. Not that Toyota needs my approval—as with the Camry, people will buy the Corolla regardless of what any journalist says about it.

Toyota wouldn't be where it is today without this car, which is now in its twelfth generation. The company has sold at least 43 million Corollas, and the name may as well be a synonym for "people's car" at this point; its sales surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle more than 20 years ago. The Camry might have been Toyota's biggest US hit, but beyond these shores, in places where average salaries and parking spaces are much smaller, the Corolla has filled the niche of an affordable, reliable, dependable little car. And when the $23,140 Corolla Hatchback XSE arrived here for testing, it won some instant brownie points for having three pedals. Yes, Internet people, break out the party balloons: you can still get this one without an automatic transmission.

This latest Corolla is all new, derived from the Toyota Next Generation Architecture (TNGA). That's the toolbox of assemblies and subcomponents that has also given us the aforementioned Camry, Avalon, RAV4, and the current Prius. The Corolla is a small car, measuring 169.9 inches (4,315mm) long, 69.9 inches (1,775mm) wide, and 57.1 inches (1,450mm) high. That actually makes it a tiny bit shorter (in both length and height) than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase is 1.5 inches (38mm) longer. This translates into some extra room for stuff in the back.

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Guidemaster: Ars picks the best wireless keyboards you can buy in 2019

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 12:40pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Sometimes the default just doesn't cut it, and that's often true when it comes to keyboards. Whether you're working on a desktop or a laptop, the keyboard you were given or the keyboard built into the machine may not be the best for your working style. If that's the case, you may benefit from re-organizing your workspace to fit a wireless keyboard that connects to your machine via Bluetooth or a USB receiver.

But there are scores of wireless keyboards to choose from these days. Big PC companies as well as big accessory manufacturers all make wireless keyboards for various kinds of uses from stationary desk typing to on-the-go working. Luckily, we recently dove into the vast world of wireless keyboards head first. Maybe a modern wireless keyboard will never be as beloved as your old Model M, but there are good options out there—and here's the info you'll need to make your buying decisions easier.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Rocket Report: Falcon 9 rocket muscles up, ULA to conduct reuse test

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 12:00pm

Enlarge / The Rocket Report is published weekly. (credit: Arianespace)

Welcome to Edition 1.49 of the Rocket Report! Another week has come and gone, and we find ourselves in the middle of May. For Houston, where this report originates, this essentially means the beginning of summer. But for those of you in cooler climates, we hope there's plenty of news herein to warm your hearts.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Vega rocket preps for rideshare launch. Arianespace has finalized a payload of 42 satellites for a Vega launch as early as September, company officials said. "We are fully booked. We have no gram left of performance," Marino Fragnito, vice president of the Vega business unit at Arianespace, said during a panel discussion at the Satellite 2019 conference, SpaceNews reports.

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Dribble no more: Physics can help combat that pesky “teapot effect”

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 11:45am

Enlarge

Tea drinkers know all too well that annoying dribble from the kettle spout that so often occurs as one pours a nice refreshing cuppa. It's even known as the "teapot effect," and it usually happens when the tea is poured too slowly. Potters usually design their pots—giving the spout a thin lip, for instance—to reduce the likelihood of dribbling, based on centuries of accrued knowledge derived from trial and error.

Now a group of Dutch physicists has come up with a quantitative model to accurately predict the precise flow rate for how much (or how little) a teapot will dribble as it pours, described in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters. The model accurately describes both the simple teapot effect and more complex behavior—notably, the formation of a helix as a water stream swirls around a cylinder. That should be a boon not just for teapot design, but for 3D printing and similar industrial applications, which are also plagued by inconvenient dribbling.

Physicists have long been fascinated by the phenomenon. The late Stanford engineer and mathematician Joseph B. Keller once recalled attending a lecture by an Israeli scientist who mentioned that he'd posed the question of why teapots dribble to 100 physicists. All opined that it must be due to surface tension, but when the Israeli scientist performed experiments to test that theory, this proved not to be the case.

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Tesla Model 3: Autopilot engaged during fatal crash

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 11:35am
The driver had not had his hands on the wheel for 10 seconds, a report has found.

Big Bang Theory finally bows out

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 10:16am
Fans say a [spoiler-free] goodbye to the US sitcom as its final episode airs in the US after 12 years.

Amazon invests in Deliveroo food courier

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 9:57am
Deliveroo says it is looking forward to working with "customer obsessed" Amazon.

Nasa plans first woman Moon mission and other news

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 9:49am
BBC Click's Jen Copestake looks at some of the week's best technology stories.

Boeing completes 737 Max software upgrade

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 8:32am
The firm will seek certification from the US regulator which grounded the jet after two crashes.

Facebook bans "inauthentic" accounts targeting Africa

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 3:48am
Facebook blocked an Israeli firm it said was behind fake accounts mostly targeting elections in Africa.

Health: Apps and technology could help 'patient power'

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 12:15am
Apps and wearable technology are starting to help patients monitor their health and medicines.

The doctor who invented 18 medical devices

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 12:10am
Professionals are finding holes in the system and turning into entrepreneurs to fill gaps in the market.

First results from New Horizons’ time in the Kuiper Belt

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 11:00pm

Enlarge / When Ultima met Thule. A view of the two-lobed body, showing the bright neck and the large Maryland crater. (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University APL/Southwest Research Institute.)

For many at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, January 1 this year didn't mean a New Year's celebration. Instead, it meant the first arrival of data from New Horizons' visit to a small Kuiper Belt object. But, like its earlier flyby of Pluto, the probe was instructed to grab all the data it could and deal with getting it back to Earth later. The full set of everything New Horizons captured won't be available for more than a year yet. But with 10 percent of the total cache in hand, researchers decided they had enough to do the first analysis of 2014 MU69.

2014 MU69 is thought to preserve material as it condensed in the earliest days of the Solar System's formation. And everything in the New Horizons' data suggests that this is exactly what it has done. With the exception of one big crater temporarily named "Maryland" and the gentle collision that created its two-lobed structure, the object appears to have been largely untouched by more than 4 billion years of the Solar System's existence.

The dawn of time

The Kuiper belt is a sparse donut of small bodies near the outer edges of the Solar System. The bodies there are formed primarily of icy materials, most of which would otherwise remain gases in the warm, inner regions of the Solar System. Some of them, like Pluto, are large enough and/or have a complex collision history, which can ensure that they undergo geological changes that alter the materials that were present at their formation.

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SpaceX scrubs second attempt to launch 60 Starlink satellites [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 10:25pm

Enlarge / The begrimed Falcon 9 booster is back at the launch pad with its Starlink satellite payload. (credit: SpaceX)

9pm ET Update: Another day, another scrub for SpaceX and its mission to launch a batch of internet satellites. About two hours prior to the opening of Thursday night's launch window, the company canceled its Falcon 9 launch of five dozen Starlink satellites. In a tweet, SpaceX offered this explanation: "Standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again. Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success, next launch opportunity in about a week."

So we'll do this again in about a week.

Original post: Even though time remained in its launch window Wednesday night, SpaceX scrubbed an attempt to launch its first batch of Starlink satellites. The upper-level winds were just not cooperating, so the company stood down the launch attempt.

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These firms promise high-tech ransomware solutions—but typically just pay hackers

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 9:35pm

Enlarge / Cryptolocker was one of the ransomware pioneers, bringing together file encryption and bitcoin payment. (credit: Christiaan Colen / Flickr)

This story was originally published by ProPublica. It appears here under a Creative Commons license.

From 2015 to 2018, a strain of ransomware known as SamSam paralyzed computer networks across North America and the UK It caused more than $30 million in damage to at least 200 entities, including the cities of Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey, the Port of San Diego and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. It knocked out Atlanta’s online water service requests and billing systems, prompted the Colorado Department of Transportation to call in the National Guard, and delayed medical appointments and treatments for patients nationwide whose electronic records couldn’t be retrieved. In return for restoring access to the files, the cyberattackers collected at least $6 million in ransom.

“You just have 7 days to send us the BitCoin,” read the ransom demand to Newark. “After 7 days we will remove your private keys and it’s impossible to recover your files.”

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Genetic self-experimenting “biohacker” under investigation by health officials

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 8:58pm

Enlarge / Zayner is best known for injecting himself with CRISPR. (credit: Andrew Matthews / Getty Images)

Prominent genetic "biohacker" Josiah Zayner is under investigation by California state officials for practicing medicine without a license.

Zayner has a background in biophysics and runs a company called The Odin, which sells do-it-yourself genetic engineering kits and other lab equipment intended for use outside of scientific laboratories. The kits and tools are intended to allow lay users to genetically modify bacteria, yeast, animals, and even humans.

The human that Zayner's products are best known for trying to modify is Zayner himself. In fact, the brazen CEO has a long history of self-experimentation. In 2016, he attempted a stomach-churning DIY fecal transplant in an airport hotel, then moved on to trying to genetically engineer his skin.

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Utility equipment sparked massive California wildfire, investigators say

Ars Technica - May 16, 2019 - 8:45pm

Enlarge / Workers make repairs to utility lines in a neighborhood that was destroyed by the Camp Fire on February 11, 2019, in Paradise, Calif. Three months after the deadly and destructive Camp Fire, the community is beginning the rebuilding process. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Fire officials have determined that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), one of the state's largest utilities, was responsible for the deadliest fire in a century.

The Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and burnt down nearly 15,000 homes, was sparked by PG&E power lines, according to a report that Cal Fire officials discussed with the press. The report was not widely released, but it was forwarded to the Butte County district attorney's office.

The district attorney may bring criminal charges against the utility, and Cal Fire Deputy Director Mike Mohler told reporters that "Investigators determined there were violations of law." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, charges could include "recklessly causing a fire or manslaughter."

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