Science & Technology

Most Americans Are Not That Concerned About Online Privacy

August 27, 2018

The latest survey from the Census Bureau shows that most Americans are not that concerned about online privacy…but the government agency that commissioned the research seems to be misinterpreting its own data. Since 1994, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has regularly commissioned the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct surveys on Internet use and adoption.

The Pentagon Wants AI to Take Over the Scientific Process

August 27, 2018

The Pentagon’s research arm is looking for teams to build an artificial intelligence tool that can automatically generate, test and refine its own scientific hypotheses. By essentially automating steps of the scientific process, the tool would let top decision-makers take discoveries from the lab and rapidly apply them to the real world, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Why we can't depend on robots to find life on Mars

August 26, 2018

NASA hasn't sent a robot designed to identify traces of life on Mars since the Viking missions in the 1970s. But with the soonest possible human Mars mission still a decade and a half away, is there any hope that robots could pinpoint ancient Martian life before humans get there?

Scientists Confirm Water Ice on the Moon's Surface

August 26, 2018

Future human exploration and habitation on the moon rely on the presence of water hiding out in shadowy craters on the lunar surface. Past missions have provided good evidence that there’s water ice in there, but now we have absolute confirmation that ice exists on the surface thanks to India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Technically, we had the evidence almost a decade ago and no one noticed until now.

Why Did Paul Allen Build the World's Largest Aircraft?

August 26, 2018

Stratolaunch is a very big airplane, but it has never flown. With a 385-foot wing span and two fuselages, the plane dwarves even the US Air Force’s massive C-5. It’s expected to take flight this fall, three years later than Stratolaunch’s main backer, Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, forecast when the project began in 2011. But the real question isn’t “what is Stratolaunch?” It’s, “why?”

Doors Slam Shut for China Deals Around the World

August 23, 2018

China’s challenges aren’t limited to a more protectionist U.S., or to similar stances in Australia and Canada. Europe, the favored destination of late, is getting a lot tougher. This month, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government vetoed for the first time a possible Chinese takeover of a German company, blocking the bid for a machine-tool manufacturer, Leifeld Metal Spinning AG.

Billion-dollar telescopes could end up beyond the reach of US astronomers

August 23, 2018

The US community faces a daunting task. Each generation of facilities is getting more expensive and harder to build. Operational costs are mounting. Meanwhile, the research budgets of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA have remained more or less flat since the 1990s (see ‘Astronomical costs’). Hard decisions have been made to close old but still-productive telescopes, which has proved insufficient to pay for new ones. And these pressures will only get worse as more big projects come online.

How the US Is Preparing to Match Chinese and Russian Technology Development

August 23, 2018

Until this week, U.S. Defense Department leaders had publicly described their technology race against China and Russia mostly as a bullet list of research priorities. Now a top research-and-engineering official has added detail about efforts to surmount key technical and physical challenges. At a Wednesday event put on by the National Defense Industry Association, Mary Miller, the assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, discussed directed-energy weapons, AI, quantum science, next-generation communications, and more.

Affordable 5G Could Fundamentally Change How You Receive Internet Service

August 22, 2018

Verizon, for example, has announced a new service for its 5G customers rolling out in four cities: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Houston, and Indianapolis. Sign up for the company’s service, and you’ll get a free Apple TV ($179) and a subscription to YouTube TV, at $40 per month. Instead of a wired connection, you’ll receive internet service via 5G wireless streaming. Verizon is planning a wider rollout in 2019, and of course, hasn’t said anything about price yet.

Happy 20th Anniversary to the Worst Mouse Ever

August 22, 2018

We’ve known for years that Steve Jobs hated multi-button mice, but based on the peripherals the man developed, I’m not sure Steve Jobs didn’t just hate mice, period. It’d be a touch ironic, considering he’s generally credited with introducing the GUI to mainstream personal computing, but I think it’s possible that the Apple USB Mouse was actually Jobs’ angry revenge against all the people who wanted a two-button Apple mouse.

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