Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
TWO lines to listen out for in this video of a man on a bike doing a 22mph wheelie in the City of London and the policeman telling him off:
Our favoutite is, “Get out the SQuare Mile and don’t come back”. John Wayne would be proud.
That narrowly beats, “You can tell your friends about the big telling off you got from a policeman on a horse”.
SO what the European Space Agency landed the Philae spacecraft on that singing comet. It was an awesome thing. Humanity is great. The names Rosetta and Philae are high on the news cycle. Space and the adventures imagained and realised is captivating.
Jonathan Freedland spoke for many:
…the fascination this adventure has stirred. Part of it is simple, a break from the torments down here on earth… For a few merciful days, the news has featured a story remote from the bloodshed of Islamic State and Ukraine, from the pain of child abuse and poverty. Even those who don’t dream of escaping this planet can relish the escapism.
But the comet landing has provided more than a diversion: it’s been an antidote too. For this has been a story of human cooperation in a world of conflict. The narrow version of this point focuses on this as a European success story. When our daily news sees “Europe” only as the source of unwanted migrants or maddening regulation, Philae has offered an alternative vision; that Germany, Italy, France, Britain and others can achieve far more together than they could ever dream of alone. The geopolitical experts so often speak of the global pivot to Asia, the rise of the Bric nations and the like – but this extraordinary voyage has proved that Europe is not dead yet.
Humanity is wonderful.
THE Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae lander has picked up sound on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, upon which it now sits.
The ESA released tbgis audio clip of 67P/C-G singing. MNany sya it sounds a lot like Predator, the bearded Hollywood alien that tried to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger.
MODERN romance features Aminah Hart who wanted her daughter to meet her biological father – the one who sired her by donating his sperm.
A British-born woman who had a child through IVF is engaged to the anonymous sperm donor she tracked down and later fell in love with. Aminah Hart, 45, an Australian woman born in London, only met her fiance after she had given birth to their daughter Leila, it has been reported.
She originally selected Scott Andersen, an Australian cattle farmer who lives on an island off the south coast, from five possible sperm donors because she liked that he listed himself as “happy and healthy”.
Aminah discovered his identity through a series of internet searches based on his name as well as his profession as a cattle breeder and his role as a Aussie rules football coach.
IN the USA, Barack Obama saya the way to keep the internet free is to, er, regulate it:
“So President Obama has announced that the Internet should be regulated as a public utility. He’s asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify internet service providers (ISPs) from “information services” under Title I as telecommunications providers under Title II regulatory guidelines. This is all being done in the name of ‘Net Neutrality,’ keeping the Internet free and open, prohibiting ‘fast lanes’ for certain services and sites, making sure no legal content is blocked, and all other horribles that…have failed to materialize in the absence of increased federal regulation.”
It’s about control, no?
Proponents argue that Title II regulation would ensure the free and fair flow of traffic across the Internet. Opponents, however, believe the reorientation would mean onerous rules that would limit investment in the infrastructure and in new services, and that toll roads of sorts would provide better service to companies that can support their higher traffic volumes. But that in turn has created widespread concern that ISPs could throttle service in some instances, intentionally slowing some content streams and speeding others.
Yep. It’s about control…
NEW science means you can think and learn like a child…
Professor Carla Shatz of Stanford University and her colleagues have discovered a way to revert an adult brain to the “plastic”, child-like state that is more able to form new connections quickly. The technical term “plastic” implies the ability to adapt or shape itself to new conditions. The striking results were revealed through experiments on a protein expressed in brain cells known as PirB (this is the name of the protein in the animal model, in humans it is called “LilrB2″), which seems to stabilize neural connections.
Stability protects against loss of learned skills or information, but at the same time hampers the acquisition of new ones. The scientists found that interfering with the normal function of the neuron-stability molecule PirB had the remarkable effect of reverting at least one part of the brain to a more malleable state that could easily recover from damage, rewire itself and learn new skills. The study is exciting for not only its therapeutic implications, but also for the emerging field of brain and cognition-enhancing drugs.
Life is wonderful. It can’t come fast enough…
EVER wonder what a needle on a vinyl record looks like at 1000x magnification?
Here’s what it looks like in action:
A FEATHER and a bowling ball dropped together inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber:
For the BBC’s Human Universe, Brian Cox went to NASA’s Space Power Facility to showcase the world’s largest vacuum chamber. In the video, he shows that without air, a feather and bowling ball dropped at the same time don’t fall as they normally would…
DO you work hard at the office? Roland Paulsen, author of Empty Labor: Idleness and Workplace Resistance, counts the minutes:
Most work sociologists tend toward the view that non-work at work is a marginal, if not negligible, phenomenon. What all statistics point towards is a general intensification of work with more and more burnouts and other stress syndromes troubling us.
Yet there are more-detailed surveys reporting that the average time spent on private activities at work is between 1.5 and three hours a day. By measuring the flows of audiences for certain websites, it has also been observed that, by the turn of the century, 70 percent of the U.S. internet traffic passing through pornographic sites did so during working hours, and that 60 percent of all online purchases were made between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. … Even if the percentage of workers who claim they are working at the pinnacle of their capacity all the time is slowly increasing, the majority still remains unaffected. In fact, the proportion of people who say they never work hard has long been far greater than those who say they always do.
Slacking off, jacking off and clocking off…
WHEN did the internet become all about promoting censorship?
In 2010, Dejan Lazic got a mildly critical review in the Washington Post and now he wants it taken down so people who google him won’t see it anymore.
Lazi adheres to the EU’s “right to be forgotten”. In August 2014, Google removed 12 BBC News stories from its search engine under the EU’s controversial ‘right to be forgotten’ law. Robert Peston, the BBC’s former economics editor, criticised Google in July for removing a blog he had written.
IF the Big Bang started the Universive, how will it all end? Cosmologist Alex Vilenkin knows. It will go ‘pop':
All of a sudden a tiny little bubble will appear. It can appear anywhere—under your chair, or somewhere in Andromeda, very far away—and this little tiny thing starts growing at a speed that’s pretty close to the speed of light. And as it expands, all things that it engulfs turn into an alien form of matter. It may be approaching us right now. Say it nucleated at Andromeda some millions of years ago, it may be expanding toward us at the speed of light. But we don’t get much of a warning. So the good thing about it is you don’t really have to worry about it.
So what would happen to the Earth? It would just go, “FLOOP!” and not exist anymore?
Yeah. Inside of this bubble, ordinary matter as we know it does not exist. It’s made up of different kinds of particles. So everything will be turned into some other stuff that we just don’t know about. But aside from the fact that the end will come very quickly, the other piece of good news is that the probability of the universe ending at any given moment is extremely low.
Like how low?
We can’t really tell. It depends on particle physics at very high energy, so we can’t reliably calculate it. But back-of-the-envelope estimates give you extremely low numbers, like trillions and trillions of years from now. The probably of it occurring while our sun is still active and burning is almost nil. So most likely it will happen when the sun is already gone and, you know, we might not be around.
“This was a test flight. This is what test flights are for. The desert around Mojave has a decades-long history of smoking holes in the ground and test-pilot funerals, though most of them usually originate from Edwards AFB, a few mile to the south. The company won’t be flying passengers until they’ve had many successful consecutive test flights, with whatever new vehicle they develop, assuming they follow through on pledges at the press conference yesterday, and move forward.”
Reaching space is dangerous…
AS I write, it’s 23 degrees Centigrade in London. On Halloween.
PBS has news:
By the time the giant spot on the sun rotated into view on October 18, it was already 80,000 miles wide, big enough to fit all of Jupiter, big enough to lay 10 Earths, side by side, across. It is the largest spot the sun has harbored in 24 years.
But while most erupting sunspots lob chunks of plasma outward in events called coronal mass ejections, this one’s keeping its plasma close to the surface.
To rewind, a sunspot is a darker, cooler area on the sun’s visible surface that stores intense magnetic energy. (Note: Cooler, in this case, means roughly 7,500 degrees Fahrenheit, down from about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.)
The sun is not a solid body. It’s a ball of hot, hot ionized gas called plasma that’s threaded with magnetic field, created by charged particles moving around. The sun spins faster at its equator, and the result is that some of that magnetic field drags, getting twisted and knotted up in the process. As this happens, these knots of magnetic field gain energy, pressure and buoyancy, and some of them float to the surface, and penetrate it, popping out…
Releasing this pent-up energy typically takes two forms: a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection, and this is key to what makes the behavior here unusual. A coronal mass ejection is made up of balls of gas ejected from the sun’s outer atmosphere, consisting of charged particles and magnetic field. The fastest CME’s travel up to 93 million miles a day, or millions of miles per hour. A solar flare is a burst of x-rays and energy, typically smaller and shorter-lasting than a CME, and rather than being launched out into space, it is caused by material accelerated back into the sun…
When a solar flare erupts, it lights up the side of the Earth that’s facing the flare, and heats up the Earth’s upper atmosphere, or ionosphere, which can temporarily change its properties. Solar flares pose less danger than CME’s, but they can affect short-wave radio communication used by pilots and ships, since the radio waves are bounced off the upper atmosphere.
Sunspots, first seen through a telescope by Galileo, are classified by how complex they are. Similar to a mole, a clean, round sunspot is of less interest to sun watchers.
“Imagine the doctor says you’ve got a nice little round mole,” Young said. “But when it starts to break up into pieces and change color and get jagged and complicated, that’s when you start to become concerned.”
JOURNALISM is dying. Verizon has a new news website:
The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.
There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.
Video: time-lapse of braces straightening teeth: Spotter: The Kid Should See This
THERE’S something in the human psyche that loves seeing things blow-up. Explosions are even better when there’s no casualties, because you can just enjoy the show without wanting to vomit with the weight of it all.
Yesterday, NASA launched the unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp Antares rocket as part of a $1.9billion contract, however, it didn’t make it out of the atmosphere as it turned into a huge molten fireball seven seconds above the ground, before crashing back into the earth, blowing up everywhere.
FACE of the Day: Honda’s ASIMO:
ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative MObility) Honda’s humanoid robot, ascends a staircase as it makes its UK debut at the WIRED Conference in London. Honda’s development of humanoid robots began in 1986 and many developments have been made since ASIMO first launched in 2000.
HOW capitalism works: the domain name Ebola.com is for sale. You can buy it for $150,000. Jon Schultz is selling. He also owns biurdflu.com and terror.com, which is nice.
Schultz, of Las Vegas-based Blue String Ventures, looks at domains through the lens of a gambler. It’s not what a domain is worth today, he advised in an interview with the Washington Post. It’s what it is worth tomorrow. “Our domain, birdflu.com, is worth way more than Ebola.com. We’re definitely holding onto that one for the event,” he said, referring to an outbreak he contends could be way bigger than Ebola, turning the owner of birdflu.com into a very rich man. “That one’s airborne and Ebola would never go airborne in the United States like bird flu can.”
Schultz bought Ebola.com for $13,500, in 2008.
It’s boom time, baby!
WHO in Seattle drew a big penis on a $2.5m Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport (the world’s most expensive production car). Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Exciting news for the spam filters on our email: scientists have revealed that they can now grow a penis in a laboratory. Just think what’s going to happen when the mass marketers get ahold of that idea: if you thought that pills to increase size were heavily marketed you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Scientists have successfully grown penises in a laboratory and say they could be tested on humans within five years.
The organs would be used to help men who have suffered a serious injury to the region, had surgery for cancer or are suffering from a congenital abnormality.
The work is being carried out the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, North Carolina.
TO New Jersey, where a man has taken badly to being spied upon. He used a shotgun to shoot down his neighbour’s drone.
The droner was using his spy in the sky to check out a nearby home undergoing renovations.
UNCLE Monty’s 1953 Silver Wraith by Hooper & Co.is for sale. Last seen in the wonderful film Withnail and I, this is your chance to live the dream.
Mr Gulbenkian is profiled:
“I’ve been retired all my life,” explains Nubar Gulbenkian, now 69. “but I’ve also been working hard all my life. A fortune does not look after itself, after all.” The fortune Gulbenkian refers to is one of the largest in the world. He inherited it from his legendary father, Calouste; who was nicknamed “Mr. Five Percent” because that was his usual cut on Middle Eastern oil and who owned possibly the world’s greatest art collection. Nubar, an Armenian, was exported in a Gladstone bag from his birthplace in Turkey, a land then inhospitable to Armenians, when he was only a few weeks old. Educated in England and France, he has been married three times and would be an impressive figure, even if he lacked his father’s business acumen (which he doesn’t), for his stupendous eyebrows, well trimmed beard, monocle and a habit of inserting into his lapel every morning a fresh orchid, the color chosen to suit the occasion. He has just written an autobiography, Portrait In Oil (Simon & Schuster), in which he discusses not only his finances but his voracious appetite for preferred pleasures like foxhunting, riding, food, drink, the odes of Horace, and driving, which he took up shortly after his 65th birthday. “If something is too much of a bore to do thoroughly and with zest,” says Gulbenkian, “then don’t bother to do it at all.”
When asked whether he most enjoys city life or country life, horses or Rolls-Royces, old brandy or young women, Nubar Gulbenkian reflectively strokes his luxuriant beard, puffs deeply on his cigar and makes a simple affirmation of love for the business of good living: “I prefer everything.”
For £250000 o.n.o, you get a long wheelbase, coach built, 4.5litre vehicle one off with snakeskin trim, electic windows, Sedanca de Ville style roof, air con. and a speedometer in the back, so allowing Gulbenkian to keep tabs on his chauffeur and ensure he drove quickly.
Bid at Frank Dale & Stepsons.
TWIN astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly are ready to be in a novel twin study:
In March, Scott – a former International Space Station commander and veteran of the space program – departs on a one-year mission to the ISS, alongside Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Meanwhile, Mark, who is now retired from NASA, will stay on the ground, at home in Arizona. A group of researchers will track Scott in space, and his genetic doppelgänger on Earth, to get a fuller picture of the myriad effects of long-term space travel – crucial information if we hope to send astronauts to Mars and beyond.
The twins study brings NASA into a new realm of science, what Craig Kundrot, at NASA’s human research program, calls “21st-century omics research.” This includes genomics (the study of the Kellys’ DNA), metabolomics (their metabolism), microbiomics (the bacteria in their guts), and more. “The twin study is really a baptism for us,” says Kundrot, who’s based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. But there’s another reason NASA has largely avoided this type of research, until now. “NASA has never been in the genetics game for one simple reason,” says Fred Turek of Northwestern University, one of the investigators on the twin study. “Astronauts have only one fear in life: that some scientist is going to find something wrong with them.”
That and finding their twin repulsive…
HERE’S a bit of a problem for Apple’s new Watch: looking at one while driving could earn you a £100 fine. And yes, that is even if it’s just a watch that you’re looking at. Because while you might just have it set up to show just a watch face the police aren’t to know that: and thus they can assume that you’re checking your emails or whatever. And that will be punished just like texting while driving will be: so this is all going to be most interesting really.
Here’s the proof:
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has warned that anyone caught using a justWatch when driving will be be hit with the same punishment as if they had been using a mobile phone.
This cautionary missive was backed up the Department for Transport, which said that anyone caught Apple wrist-watching while driving would be clobbered with three penalty points on their driving licence and a £100 fine.
The thing is that it’s a real problem. People being distracted by their mobile phone while driving killed some 110 people in the UK last year. And as that Apple Watch is more akin to a mobile than it is just to a watch then it’s going to get covered by those mobile phone rules, not the ones that say we’re allowed to glance at our watch while driving.
That’s a bit of a problem for the new product launch, isn’t it?
DO all iPhones take the same selfies? No. The newest models show your pores in better detail. Lisa Bettany shares with Snap Snap Snap readers her iPhone snaps taken with the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 i.