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The ability to rapidly shrink down to bug size (and beyond) gives Ant-Man and the Wasp tremendous advantages. But it also comes with some scale-related drawbacks, most notably, more difficult breathing. Trick out their suits with insect-inspired microscale air pumps, compressors, and molecule filters, combined with the fictional "Pym particle" technology, et voila! Problem solved.
Anne Staples, a bioengineer at Virginia Tech, and her graduate student Max Mikel-Stites first outlined the respiratory difficulties Ant-Man and the Wasp would likely face while insect-sized in a paper published this summer in the fledgling journal Superhero Science and Technology. (Can I just say how delighted I am that this journal exists?) The group researches respiration at the microscale, using insects as models. They described their work at a meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mikel-Stites, a fan of the Marvel cinematic universe, was stoked for Ant-Man and the Wasp's release. So one day in the lab last spring, the conversation naturally turned to how difficult it would be for the superheroes to breathe when insect-sized. "Applying that perspective to Ant-Man and the Wasp seemed like a straightforward thing to do," says Mikel-Stites, who admits to being a bit nitpicky when it comes to science in the movies. And he couldn't stop thinking about the breathing problems that our superheroes would inevitably face.
A company called Energy Vault has proposed a new utility-scale battery that is both old and new at the same time. The "battery" is mechanical, rather than chemical, and stores energy much like pumped hydro does, but it does it with bricks.
If you're not familiar with pumped hydro, it works like this. The system pumps water from a lower elevation to a higher elevation when electricity is plentiful and cheap. When electricity becomes more expensive, operators release that water through a hydroelectric turbine to give the grid some extra juice. Similarly, Energy Vault wants to build a system of six cranes, which will electrically stack heavy bricks into a tower when electricity is cheap and plentiful. When electricity becomes more scarce and expensive, the cranes will release each brick and harvest the energy from their fall.
This system solves an important problem inherent to pumped hydro: it requires a pretty specific kind of topography and often causes environmental concerns.
You might not think of giant impact craters as being particularly subtle or in any way capable of hiding from us. If so, you’ll be surprised by the discovery, announced this week, of a 31-kilometer- (19-mile-) wide crater we didn’t know existed.
Let’s get the important questions out of the way—no, the crater isn’t home to a Godzilla or some Lovecraftian horror. It’s filled with ice. And that’s how it escaped our notice for so long.
The crater lies beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northwestern Greenland. One of the tools researchers use to monitor the shrinking of the Greenland Ice Sheet is airborne radar surveys. The resulting high-resolution data shows the shape of the ice sheet’s surface, some of its internal layering, and even the bedrock below. In this case, it revealed a suspiciously circular depression in the ice near the glacier’s edge.
An evil genius in a wheelchair and a psychotic serial killer with superhuman abilities join forces to escape from a mental institution in the new TV spot for Glass—the third and final installment in what's become known as director M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable trilogy." The trilogy brings together characters from his 2000 film Unbreakable and his 2016 box-office hit, Split.
(Spoilers for Unbreakable and Split below.)
Unbreakable tells the story of a security guard named David Dunn (Bruce Willis). Dunn is the sole survivor of a horrific train crash who draws the attention of a wheelchair-bound comic-book art dealer named Elijah Price (Samuel Jackson). Price, who has a genius-level IQ, suffers from a rare disease that gives him very fragile, easily fractured bones. He has become convinced that he must have an opposite "unbreakable" counterpart; he thinks Dunn might be that man.
Earlier this month, Instacart publicly announced that it had redesigned its "shopper experience for more choice and clarity," adding that it aimed to "provide clearer and more consistent earnings."
The San Francisco-based startup, which has more than doubled its total venture capital funding amount in a year to $1.6 billion, allows customers to buy groceries online, which according to the company are marked up for 30 percent of partner retailers. "Shoppers," in company parlance, are the ones doing the bulk of the labor—they constitute 70,000 workers across North America. The ratio of shoppers to bona fide employees is over 116 to 1.
Shoppers drive to the store, select the items, bag them, and deliver them. Sometimes they even correspond via app with the customer while shopping.
Male Guinea baboons have a curious habit. They will walk—or sometimes run—to another male baboon and say a quick hello in a very enthusiastic way: with a “mutual penis diddle”. Or sometimes it’s a quick mount from behind. Other times, they do a short dance-like “polonaise,” facing the same way, on their hind legs, hand on the other’s hip, and a few steps forward.
Clearly, this behavior needs an explanation. In some ways, it’s not all that much of a mystery: ritual greeting is actually fairly widespread among many primate species and takes many colorful forms. It's a behavior that's “common among males living in multi-male groups,” write the authors of a new paper exploring Guinea baboons’ greeting behavior.
So it’s no surprise that the Guinea baboons greet each other. But the intimacy of their behavior stands out. Unlike other species, where ritual greetings serve to cool down a tense or aggressive moment, for Guinea baboons, it seems to be more about keeping their social bonds strong.
Black Friday is less than a week away, and we’re starting to get a good sense of what kinds of deals the tech world plans to offer up.
If you’re at all familiar with how days like this go, it should come as no surprise that most of the “deals” advertised for Black Friday aren't really discounts at all. While it’s true that Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring more legitimately good tech deals than any other period of the year, they're also a time for retailers to pounce on the gift-needy public. Lots of less-than-stellar gadgets will be offered at prices that aren’t much lower than they are the rest of the year. (As always, price history sites like CamelCamelCamel are an invaluable resource if you’re on the fence about a deal.)
So to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks emailing device makers about their upcoming offers and digging through ad scans the major retailers have pushed out ahead of Friday's sales event. Below is a quick rundown of gadget and gaming deals that may be worth your attention—and what to expect from the bigger tech brands and product categories later this week.
Valve's next video game, a card-battling computer game called Artifact, will be a tricky one to review for a few reasons. For one, it inevitably comes with the baggage of being "Valve's next video game." Whatever Artifact is, it isn't one of the company's innovative first-person shooters.
But the bigger issue, for a review's sake, applies to any modern card game: cards, cards, cards. The genre's fun and strategy depends on hundreds of these things. Exactly how many are there? How do they interact with each other? And how do players get their hands on more of them?
We can start answering those questions with the Artifact beta, into which Valve sneaked us ahead of the closed-beta period (that period is supposed to start on Monday the 19th for anyone who claimed a beta key at various expos like PAX West). With only one day of play under our belts, we cannot come close to "reviewing" what's on offer thus far.
On Friday night, Boring Company CEO Elon Musk tweeted images of his tunnel-boring machine appearing to emerge from the dirt into a cavernous hole, with bystanders at the hole's edge watching the spinning boring head.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 17, 2018
The tunnel began in January 2017 in the parking lot of SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Musk's goal has been to improve the speed and cost of tunnel boring, not only to alleviate surface-street traffic by lowering cars onto electric skates and then speeding them through a so-called "loop" system, but also to potentially dig sewer, water, and electrical tunnels for cities in a more cost-effective manner.
In late October, Musk tweeted that the more-than-two-mile-long Hawthorne tunnel would be completed by December 10, and The Boring Company would celebrate by giving rides to the public.
Update: There's no shortage of new games this 2018 holiday season, but we wanted to bring a surprise gem to your attention: 2014's Sunset Overdrive, a high-octane, parkour-driven visual stunner. With seemingly zero fanfare, a $20 PC version arrived yesterday for Windows PCs (Steam, Windows Store). Nearly everything about the original games still applies to this PC version, so enjoy our original review (which first ran on October 29, 2014) below. The piece appears largely unchanged, but we have added some PC-specific thoughts (finally, Sunset in 60fps!) and a gallery from the new edition near the end.
Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving. If I stay still, the monsters attack. If I stop sliding down rails, bouncing off of car hoods, or rappelling over zip lines, everything falls apart—the music in my head stops playing; the electricity stops surging through my dodge-rolls; the fire stops spewing from my duct-taped battle-axe.
Welcome to Sunset City, a sunny, dilapidated corpse of a not-so-futuristic riverside metropolis. The place used to be overrun by selfie-snapping hipsters until they chugged a brand-new energy drink that turned them into crazed mutants (we mean literally, as opposed to the figurative craze of a caffeine high). Somehow, "you" (by way of a relatively robust character creator, which happens to sport the dumbest hairstyles known to man) avoided taking a sip, and now you must survive and escape the madness alongside the few remaining human survivors.
As we've gathered more details about the other planets of the Solar System, we've largely managed to explain the geography we've found by drawing analogies to things we're familiar with from Earth. Glaciers and wind-driven erosion produce similar results both here and on Mars, for instance. But further out in the Solar System, the materials involved in the geology change—water ice becomes as hard as rock, and methane and nitrogen freeze—which raises the prospect of some entirely unfamiliar processes.
This week, scientists proposed that some weird terrain found on Pluto could be the product of large fields of nitrogen ice sublimating off into the atmosphere. While this explanation could account for some properties of Pluto's geography, it doesn't explain why the process resulted in a series of parallel ridges.On the washboard
The strange terrain lies to the northwest of Sputnik Planitia, the heart-shaped plane that dominates the side of Pluto we have the best images of. Called "washboard" or "fluted," the area consists of large numbers of roughly parallel ridges with roughly a kilometer or two separating them. Aside from their appearance and general orientation, these ridges don't seem to have a lot in common. They're discontiguous and don't fill the entire region. They run down slopes and spread across valley floors—in some cases a single ridge will run down a slope and then flatten out. And in several cases, they create a starburst-like pattern on along the walls of craters.
Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.
Abstract, family-style board games are all the rage these days, and for good reason. They tend to occupy that sweetest of sweet spots—accessible to non-gamers while remaining strategic enough to keep veteran players engaged. Their simple rulesets are packaged with quality components, bright colors, and light themes. In short, they're games that just about anyone can enjoy.
The apotheosis of the form was arguably seen in 2014’s modern classic Splendor, an economic game about collecting satisfyingly hefty gem-styled poker chips. But last year, publisher Next Move Games introduced another contender to the throne: Azul, a puzzle-y abstract game about drafting and laying beautiful bakelite tiles. The game took the board gaming world by storm, eventually earning the prestigious Spiel Des Jahres (“Game of the Year”) award in Germany. So when Next Move announced another abstract spatial puzzle game, Reef (this time by Century: Spice Road designer Emerson Matsuuchi) we were hoping for a second lightning strike. It seems we’ve gotten one.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has asked a federal court to unseal documents related to the federal government's pending prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The existence of that prosecution appears to have been accidentally revealed due to a cut-and-paste error in an unrelated sex crimes case. Now that its existence has been revealed, the Reporters Committee argues, there's no good reason to continue to withhold other details of the charges against Assange.
"Both the press and the public have a particularly powerful interest in access to sealed court records related to the government's prosecution of Assange," the rights group said in its filing.
Let's be honest here: modern processors aren’t exciting. Speed bumps no longer thrill us, and we’ve become blasé about adding more cores. But we are living in a time when computers casually offer amounts of processing power that would have made previous generations swoon.
It’s also a competitive time, primarily with two companies fighting for your silicon spending and giving you great computing bang for your buck. On one side we have Intel, the 800-pound gorilla of the processor world. On the other side, we have AMD, the upstart that occasionally steals the crown by doing something unexpected that changes the rules.
The law is meant to prevent situations like the November 2017 death of an unarmed Virginia man, Bijan Ghaisar, who died at the hands of United States Park Police officers in Fairfax County, Virginia. The 25-year-old had fled a car crash, but it remains unclear exactly why federal officers opened fire.
The House members, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), said in a Friday statement that absent dashboard camera footage, Ghaisar’s parents would know even less than they currently do as the FBI has yet to release any public information about the case.
NASA officials confirmed Friday that a test of a key component of the space agency's mission to sample an asteroid was completed successfully. On Wednesday, for the first time in more than two years, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm and put it through a series of maneuvers to ensure its space-worthiness after being packed away for launch and a long flight to the asteroid Bennu.
The asteroid sampling mission launched in September 2016, and the spacecraft has since been traveling through space to catch up to an asteroid known as Bennu, which has a diameter of about 500 meters. The spacecraft will officially "arrive" at Bennu in about two weeks, on December 3, so mission scientists wanted to make sure the robotic arm was functional after being stowed for so long.
This arm and its sampler head, known as the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM, is critical to the mission's goal of retrieving at least 60 grams of material from the surface of Bennu and returning this sample to Earth by 2023. The collection device will act something like a reverse vacuum cleaner.
Microsoft is planning to release a disc-free version of the Xbox One as early as next spring, according to an unsourced report from author Brad Sams of Thurrott.com (who has been reliable with early Xbox-related information in the past).
The report suggests the disc-free version of the system would not replace the existing Xbox One hardware, and it would instead represent "the lowest possible price for the Xbox One S console." Sams says that price could come in at $199 "or lower," a significant reduction from the system's current $299 starting price (but not as compelling compared to $199 deals for the Xbox One and PS4 planned for Black Friday this year). Buyers will also be able to add a subscription to the Xbox Games Pass program for as little as $1, according to Sams.
For players who already have games on disc, Sams says Microsoft will offer a "disc to digital" program in association with participating publishers. Players will be able to take their discs into participating retailers (including Microsoft Stores) and trade them in for a "digital entitlement" that can be applied to their Xbox Live account.
Millions of SMS text messages—many containing one-time passcodes, password reset links, and plaintext passwords—were exposed in an Internet-accessible database that could be read or monitored by anyone who knew where to look, TechCrunch has reported.
The discovery comes after years of rebukes from security practitioners that text messages are a woefully unsuitable medium for transmitting two-factor authentication (2FA) data. Despite those rebukes, SMS-based 2FA continues to be offered by banks such as Bank of America, cellular carriers such as T-Mobile, and a host of other businesses.
The leaky database belonged to Voxox, a service that claims to process billions of calls and text messages monthly. TechCrunch said that Berlin-based researcher Sébastien Kaul used the Shodan search engine for publicly available devices and databases to find the messages. The database stored texts that were sent through a gateway Voxox provided to businesses that wanted an automated way to send data for password resets and other types of account management by SMS. The database provided a portal that showed two-factor codes and resent links being sent in near real-time, making it potentially possible for attackers who accessed the server to obtain data that would help them hijack other people’s accounts.
Rumors of a cheaper mid-range smartphone from Google have been circulating for some time, but now it's looking like the first pictures of this mythical device have popped up online. The Russian site Rozetked—which leaked the Pixel 3 XL earlier this year—has pictures of a device codenamed "Sargo," which looks like a cheaper version of the Pixel 3.
The phone resembles a smaller Pixel 3, but there appear to be a lot of changes to bring the price down. The body is now plastic instead of glass. The 5.5-inch OLED display has been swapped out for an LCD with a 2220×1080 resolution. Instead of the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845, this device reportedly has a more modest Snapdragon 670. The baseline 64GB of storage has been downgraded to 32GB. It also looks like the bottom front-facing speaker has been cut, replaced by a bottom-firing speaker. It's unknown if the earpiece still functions as a second speaker for stereo sound.
Legendary Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman has died at the age of 87 from colon cancer and pneumonia, The New York Times reports. Goldman won two screenwriting Oscars, for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976). But by far his most beloved (and most widely quoted) film across multiple generations is 1987's postmodern fairytale, The Princess Bride.
The man once called "the world's greatest and most famous living screenwriter" by the Guardian actually started out as a novelist, but his early novels got mixed reviews. Discouraged, Goldman agreed to adapt Daniel Keyes' bestselling 1966 novel Flowers for Algernon into a screenplay. He was fired from the project, and even Goldman himself declared it was a "terrible" screenplay. But he learned from the experience and went on to sell his first original screenplay, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for a record (at the time) $400,000.
The rest is Hollywood history. His other screenwriting credits include The Stepford Wives (the 1974 original, not the mediocre 2004 remake), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Chaplin (1992), and Misery (1990). Two of his screenplays are adaptations of his own novels: Marathon Man (1976) and The Princess Bride. Goldman was especially fond of the latter novel, first published in 1973. It was 15 years before Director Rob Reiner managed to bring the story to the silver screen after having long been a fan of the book.