Feb 27, 2017

Why on earth would you pay millions of dollars to fly around the Moon?

posted by Laura Domela

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SpaceX announced today that it will be sending two (currently) anonymous citizens to orbit the Moon sometime in 2018. While there’s obviously many logistical, technical, and scientific questions that will undoubtedly be asked in the coming days about this venture, we’re going to try and answer perhaps the biggest one: why? 
via The Verge

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Feb 27, 2017

These smart glasses automatically adjust to your eyes

posted by Larra Morris

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Imagine glasses that could bring everything into focus, shifting prescriptions from near to farsighted and back again in moments. It’s not possible with today’s glass lenses, but a breakthrough in what are called liquid lenses could make smart glasses that do exactly that. They could put an end to bifocals, and you’d only ever need that one pair of adjustable spectacles for the rest of your life.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Feb 24, 2017

Amazon cites First Amendment in refusal to hand over Alexa data in murder case

posted by Laura Domela

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Add yet another skill to Alexa's repertoire: staunch defense of the First Amendment. 

Amazon is holding firm and refusing to hand over voice and transcription data recorded by an Echo speaker to prosecutors in Arkansas as part of a murder trial. 

Amazon maintains the authorities haven't clearly established that the investigation is more important than a customer's privacy rights, according to an AP report, and claims the recorded data and Alexa's responses are protected under the First Amendment. 

Last week, the company filed a 91-page motion (obtained by Ars Technica) with the Benton County Circuit Court to kill the search warrant.  
via Mashable

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Feb 24, 2017

Watson can diagnose heart disease by looking at medical images

posted by Larra Morris

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IBM's Watson technology has helped doctors before, but usually by poring through databases before offering its advice. Now, it's ready to look at the patients themselves -- or rather, their body scans. It's following up on past promises by launching Watson Clinical Imaging Review, its first picture-based cognitive computing solution. The AI platform can sift through ultrasounds, x-rays and other medical data to both fill out health records and identify patients who might need critical care.

The imaging tech will first be used to diagnose patients with aortic stenosis, where the heart's aortic valve narrows and constricts blood flow.
via Engadget

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Feb 23, 2017

New metamaterials could improve energy absorption and harvesting

posted by Laura Domela

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Engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented the first mechanical metamaterials that easily transfer motion effortlessly in one direction while blocking it in the other, as described in a paper published on Feb. 13 in Nature. The material can be thought of as a mechanical one-way shield that blocks energy from coming in but easily transmits it going out the other side. The researchers developed the first nonreciprocal mechanical materials using metamaterials, which are synthetic materials with properties that cannot be found in nature.
via Energy Harvesting Journal

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Feb 23, 2017

Radiohead’s saddest song is True Love Waits, according to data analysis

posted by Larra Morris

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If you’ve ever listened to Radiohead and thought to yourself, “Oh jeez, I do wish someone could quantify just how sad this song is making me feel,” your strange desire has been granted. Data scientist Charlie Thompson recently used the programming language R to find “a data-driven determination of [Radiohead’s] most depressing song.”

First, Thompson used Spotify’s API to pull track information for each song on Radiohead’s nine studio albums. One of Spotify’s available metrics is a song’s “valence,” which the company describes as “a measure from 0.0 to 1.0 describing the musical positiveness conveyed by a track.” Radiohead’s “True Love Waits” and “We Suck Young Blood” both had the lowest valence score of 0.0378, making them the saddest songs according to Spotify.
via Engadget

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Feb 23, 2017

Astronomers discover seven potentially habitable Earth-size exoplanets around a nearby dwarf star

posted by Larra Morris

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NASA has announced the discovery of seven potentially habitable Earth-size exoplanets around the ultra-cool red dwarf TRAPPIST-1, the most ever discovered around a single star. Three of the planets fall within the star’s habitable zone but the other four could also have liquid water given the right conditions.
via Laughing Squid

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