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Airbus' Vahana Flying Car Uses Laser Sensors to Pick out Landing Spots

Before you can zip about in a flying car , engineers must solve more than a few problems. Oddly, figuring out how to make a flying car fly isn't among them. The basics of flight were sorted out more than 100 years ago. No, the big challenge lies in making these things fly themselves so you don't have to go through the hassle of earning a pilot's license. Here, too, taking flight isn't the big problem. Landing is. “Takeoff is fairly scripted...
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155 Hits

Two Minutes of Total Solar Eclipse in John Day, Oregon

At precisely 10:22 a.m. on August 21, darkness fell over the tiny town of John Day, Oregon. As onlookers gazed skyward, gawking at the historic total eclipse, Brian Guido bustled around and photographed them. Two days before totality, Guido, a photographer from Los Angeles, drove with his fiancé 870 miles north, bypassing other Oregon cities like Prineville and Madras, reported to be swarming with crowds, and instead headed for John Day, po...
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Tim Allen's Question About Apes Tops this Week's News Roundup

From the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (and death of Heather Heyer ) to the terror attacks in Spain , this last week has been an especially rough one both online and off. Sure, a few small, funny things have been happening on the internet amidst all of it, but those blips have been largely drowned out by the crappiness of everything else. Is it pre- solar eclipse fever? Is it the downfall of Western civilization? Both...
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Gadget Lab Podcast: Essential Wants to Get Into Your Pocket—and Your Smart Home

A new Android phone hits the market in a couple of weeks. Normally that’s unexciting news—Android phones are basically always raining from the sky. But this is the Essential phone, the first consumer product from the company co-founded by Andy Rubin, the man largely responsible for the Android operating system. So yeah, Essential’s debut hardware is a big deal. David Pierce has been covering Essential for months, and he tells us what to wat...
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*Sonic Mania* Review: Sega Makes Sonic Super Again By Trusting the Hits (and the Fans)

Sonic Mania, the latest installment of Sega's venerable franchise, churns with the improvisational energy of a jazz ensemble. It is something of a remake of Genesis-era 2-D Sonic the Hedgehog games, with refurbished stages you may remember and new ones that pay tribute to those of the past. At first glance, it looks like an empty nostalgia trip. But Sega has created something else entirely: a resurrection, one that portends a promising futu...
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Nikola's $35,000 Zero Electric UTV Offers More Torque Than a Tank

If you love kicking up mud and bombing around off-road but feel guilty spewing all that carbon dioxide, Nikola Powersports has you covered—assuming you've got $35,000 to spend on an electric off-roader with more torque than a tank. I'll pause while you let that settle in. Settled? OK. The Utah startup just released the specs on the Nikola Zero, a four-seat UTV (utility task vehicle, or what you may know as a side-by-side) guaranteed to make...
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Tech Companies Have the Tools to Confront White Supremacy

Say you're a white supremacist who happens to hate Jewish people—or black people, Muslim people, Latino people, take your pick. Today, you can communicate those views online any number of ways without setting off many tech companies' anti-hate-speech alarm bells. And that's a problem. As the tech industry walks the narrow path between free speech and hate speech, it allows people with extremist ideologies to promote brands and beliefs on th...
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DeLorean Aerospace Is Making a Flying Car

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” Doc Brown says, before flipping down his reflective goggles and launching his nuclear-powered DeLorean into the air. If you think you've heard that line too many times, try being Paul DeLorean. He's not just the nephew of John DeLorean, founder of the short-lived automaker that's now best remembered for its car's starring role as a time machine in the Back to the Future movies. He is the CEO ...
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Catching Up With Dawn, the Massive Spacecraft Exploring the Asteroid Belt

It’d be hard to invent a more Star Wars-esque spacecraft than Dawn. It’s 65 feet from tip to tip. It’s exploring the asteroid belt. And it’s got an ion drive, for Pete’s sake. But Dawn also has a serious job to do. Launched in 2007, it’s been investigating Ceres and Vesta , two mysterious protoplanets in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. These are smallish, truly ancient bodies, remnants of the early solar system (protoplanets bei...
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How Your Phone Number Became the Only Username That Matters

Before it was the world's most popular messaging app, WhatsApp wasn't even a messaging app. Founder Jan Koum simply thought it would be neat to open his address book and see a status message—at the gym, in a meeting—next to everyone's names. He also knew no one wants to endure the rigamarole of creating a username and password, maintaining a buddy list, and joining yet another social network just to know what their friends are up to. So Kou...
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Microsoft Chatbot Trolls Shoppers for Online Sex

Tech companies pitch chatbots to businesses as a way to keep customers coming back for more. A new bot built by Microsoft employees in their spare time is designed to do exactly the opposite. The chatbot, tested recently in Seattle, Atlanta, and Washington D.C., lurks behind fake online ads for sex posted by nonprofits working to combat human trafficking, and responds to text messages sent to the number listed. The software initially preten...
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Meet Alex, the Russian Casino Hacker Who Makes Millions Targeting Slot Machines

Late last autumn, a Russian mathematician and programmer named Alex decided he’d had enough of running his eight-year-old business. Though his St. Petersburg firm was thriving, he’d grown weary of dealing with payroll, hiring, and management headaches. He pined for the days when he could devote himself solely to tinkering with code, his primary passion. The time had come for an exit strategy. But Alex couldn’t just cash out as if he owned a...
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Russia and China’s VPN Crackdown Leaves Few Places to Turn

Digital privacy has had a very bad summer. As China and Russia move to block virtual private network services, well over a billion people face losing their best chance at circumventing censorship laws. First, China asked telecom companies to start blocking user access to VPNs that didn't pass government muster by next February. More recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law to ban VPNs and other anonymous browsing tools that u...
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The US Press Freedom Tracker Follows Abuses of Journalists To Help Stop Them

You likely remember that, in May, then congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter for The Guardian for asking too many questions. You may not have heard, though, that as part of Gianforte's ultimate settlement, Montana's newly elected representative made a $50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists. And now that money has been funneled directly into the US Press Freedom Tracker , a newly launched website th...
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206 Hits

Lake Erie's Bottom-Dwelling Robot Fights Toxic Algae Blooms

Satellites do an incredible job of mapping algal blooms, the green mats that spread over lakes and oceans in warm, nutrient-rich summers. But the hypnotic, swirling images from space can't tell if toxins are lurking in a carpet of cyanobacteria, threatening the safety of water. Ecologists and hydrologists can test water's drinkability by boating through the blooms—though collecting samples off the side of a power boat is tricky, and inconve...
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The Very Best Black Hat Hacks

As they do every year, hackers descended on Las Vegas this week to show off the many ways they can decimate the internet's security systems. Here's a collection of some of our favorite talks from this week's Black Hat conference, including some we didn't get the chance to cover in depth. Before the week even began, we took a look at how $15 worth of magnets could overcome a "smart" gun's protections , turning it into just a regular ol' gun....
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'Valerian' Would Make a Great Silent Movie

Director Luc Besson’s new sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has some of the most dazzling special effects ever seen on film. But science fiction author Anthony Ha feels that the movie falters badly when it comes to plot and character. “This would make a great silent movie,” Ha says in Episode 266 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It’s gorgeous, and there’s always something interesting to look at, but occasion...
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Tesla's Model 3 Is Here: How to Watch the Big Event

On Friday night, Tesla is holding a party for staff and a few invited guests (mostly Tesla owners who've referred other buyers to the brand), and will hand over the first 30 Model 3s. They're going to Tesla and SpaceX staff who are likely to be more tolerant of any early manufacturing bugs, and can easily bring their new rides in for inspection. There have been plenty of spy pics of Model 3s testing in the wild, and Elon Musk posted an imag...
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Rep. Blake Farenthold's Early '90s Internet Message Board Posts Show a Whole New Side

Last week, representative Blake Farenthold of Texas lamented on the radio that some "female senators from the Northeast" stood in the way of repealing the Affordable Care Act. "If it was a guy from south Texas," he said, "I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style," suggesting he'd love to duel, say, Susan Collins of Maine. But who really is Blake Farenthold (besides a man who jokes about shooting his colleagues and an...
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Giant Antarctic Icebergs and Crushing Existential Dread

I went to Antarctica 20 years ago, and I didn’t care about ice shelves. I noticed one at last when the blinding white of the ice, struck up against an abidingly black ocean, made me understand at last why the penguins all around me and the orcas occasionally surfacing a few dozen feet away had the same basic color scheme. Evolution ain’t stupid. But evolution isn’t smart, either, or we humans would be much better at perceiving patterns with...
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Google’s Fight Against Uber Takes a Turn for the Criminal

Things don’t look good for Uber and autonomous vehicle wunderkind Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer who now leads the startup’s robocar program. This week, US District Court William Alsup made two decisive decisions in the lawsuit between Google’s autonomous vehicle spinoff  Waymo and Uber . You know, the one accusing Levandowski of swiping 14,000 confidential documents from and taking them with him to Uber. First, Alsup rebuf...
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While You Were Offline: Um, Steve, Your Whiteboard Is Showing

Was it only just last week that folks were debating the quality of the first 100 days of the Trump administration? It seems so long ago. Remember those days when everyone wasn’t talking about health care? Good times, people. Good times. Is it our age or the state of current events that makes it feel as if time is speeding up? Perhaps it’s the internet. It moves so fast that it’s impossible to keep pace. That’s why we...
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Facebook Just Handed Out Thousands of 360 Cameras. We’ve Got a Review

Facebook just gave Giroptic iO 360 cameras to 4,000 people at Facebook’s F8 conference, so expect a flood of 360-degree selfies to hit the interwebs any moment now. Ugh. At least the image quality will be pretty good. Giroptic released a new Android-compatible version of its mobile 360 camera as part of the F8 giveaway. While I haven’t gotten my hands on one of those yet, I’ve been using the iOS version that debuted in December. The Giropti...
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Hack Your Pearly Whites With These High-Tech Toothbrushes

Good news: Tooth decay and other dental problems are on the decline. Bad news: Not by much . If you’re over 20, there’s a 91 percent chance you’ve had at least one cavity; by the time you’re middle-aged, some of those will have rotted and fallen out of your mouth. The solution? Brushing your teeth, just like mom told you. Good dental hygiene doesn’t require a fancy electric toothbrush, but dentists commonly recommend them because, let’s be ...
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340 Hits

North Korea Probably Can’t Strike the US Yet—But It’s Still Plenty Scary

National security experts and North Korea watchers say the reclusive country may test a nuclear bomb on Saturday, the ‘Day of the Sun’ holiday that marks the birthday of national father Kim Il-sung. The Hermit Kingdom’s recent saber-rattling prompted the United States to dispatch the Vinson carrier group as a show of force, and President Trump has not ruled out a pre-emptive strike. The government of North Korea told the media to expect som...
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