Science & Technology

We've Got the Screen Time Debate All Wrong. Let's Fix It

December 24, 2018

You spent 30 minutes browsing Instagram when you could have been exercising? Or playing board games with your family? Or learning a second language? You sad/selfish/lonely monster!) And yet, there exists little clear evidence that we are locked in an unambiguously harmful relationship with our devices--let alone addicted to them in any clinical sense.

NASA's InSight Lander Places the First-Ever Seismic Sensor on Mars

December 23, 2018

Landing InSight on the surface of Mars was an incredible feat all by itself, but the robot has just successfully completed its first major mission milestone. After carefully surveying the nearby terrain, NASA pinpointed a location to deploy the lander’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS). InSight successfully placed the sensor on the surface as instructed.

The new era of US-China decoupling

December 23, 2018

This year’s most startling meeting of minds has been the rise of an anti-China consensus in the US. It spans Donald Trump’s White House and Congress, Republicans and Democrats, business and unions, globalists and populists. America may be at war with itself on almost everything else. But it is uniting on fear of China.

Why Should Anyone Believe Facebook Anymore?

December 21, 2018

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices.

Elon Musk Unveils the Boring Company's Car-Flinging Tunnel

December 20, 2018

Billionaire Elon Musk envisions a world where commuting in Los Angeles is as easy as pointing a self-driving car toward an elevator platform embedded in a city street, sinking into a tunnel and zipping seamlessly beneath the traffic at speeds of up to 150 mph. So far, his company’s progress toward this goal has been a bumpier ride.

Astronomers Discover 'Farout' Dwarf Planet at Edge of Our Solar System

December 20, 2018

Our simplistic nine-planet view of the solar system was shattered years ago when scientists learned Pluto was not unique in the outer solar system. We have since discovered more “dwarf planets,” and an international team of astronomers has just spotted the most distant such planetoid yet. The object known as “Farout” is 120 times farther from the sun than Earth, putting it far beyond the orbit of Pluto. There is some hope that learning more about Farout could point the way to a true ninth planet.

Russia Claims To Be On Track to Deploy a Maneuverable ICBM Next Year

December 20, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his enthusiasm for the missile, which he officially unveiled in March. He claims it can reach Mach 20, which is similar to the U.S.’s Mach-23 Minuteman III. But more significantly, Russian reports say, the Avangard pairs an ICBM engine with a unique glide vehicle, allowing it to out-maneuver anti-missile systems. In June, Putin called the Avangard “an absolute weapon” and contended that no country would develop anything similar “in the coming years.”

How Amazon, Apple, and Google Played the Tax-Break Game

December 20, 2018

It took about 30 minutes for Williamson County commissioners to unanimously approve a roughly $16 million incentive package for Apple Tuesday morning, bringing the total amount the tech giant is likely to receive in exchange for choosing Austin as the site for its newest campus to a cool $41 million. The new addition is set to be Apple’s second campus in the Austin, Texas, area--located less than a mile from the company’s existing facility, established five years ago.

Open Scientific Collaboration May Be Helping North Korea Cheat Nuclear Sanctions

December 19, 2018

Now, new research shared exclusively with NPR shows one way the North may have been able to develop these technologies despite the global blockade. An analysis published Wednesday by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey of North Korean studies in scientific journals suggests Pyongyang is circumventing the sanctions regime through open research collaborations with other countries.

What a partial US-government shutdown would mean for science

December 19, 2018

The clock is ticking for US lawmakers, who have fewer than four days -- as of 18 December -- to pass a new budget for many government agencies, or they will trigger a partial government shutdown. Nature explains why politicians are struggling to reach a deal, what is at stake for science and whether a crisis can be avoided.

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