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Industry & Technology

Microsoft and TikTok talks continue after Trump call

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 40 min ago
The firm said it has talked with President Trump about buying the Chinese app's US business.

Adverts for large polluting cars 'should be banned'

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 56 min ago
A new campaign says the government should ban adverts for large cars like sports utility vehicles.

TikTok: How would the US go about banning the Chinese app?

BBC Technology News - 6 hours 22 min ago
Several options exist, from preventing Google and Apple offering the app, to blocking its servers.

TikTok: Pompeo says Trump to crack down on Chinese software in coming days

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 31 min ago
The US state secretary says Chinese-owned software poses a "broad array" of security risks.

After a splendid flight test, NASA now has a new ride to space

Ars Technica - 13 hours 2 min ago

They made it.

On Sunday afternoon a slightly charred spacecraft dropped out of the blue sky, and splashed down into a placid Gulf of Mexico. The safe return of NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken from orbit capped a nearly 64-day mission that proved the viability of a new spacecraft built by SpaceX, Crew Dragon. It was a complete success.

"This was an extraordinary day," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, during a post-flight news conference. "It was an enormous relief after months of anxiety."

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Dragonship Endeavour is flying free, on its way back to Earth

Ars Technica - August 2, 2020 - 1:42am

Enlarge / Crew Dragon backs away from the International Space Station on Saturday. (credit: NASA TV)

On Saturday evening the Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, named Dragonship Endeavour, undocked from the International Space Station to begin its journey home.

The undocking came after NASA and SpaceX determined the spacecraft would find calm seas and light winds off the coast from the Florida Panhandle, in the Gulf of Mexico, on Sunday. This will be the first water landing for a U.S. spacecraft since 1975, when an Apollo capsule splashed down after the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in the Pacific Ocean. Landing is slated for 2:48pm ET (18:40 UTC). A final call on weather will be made on Sunday.

After moving away from the "Keep Out Sphere" surrounding the space station, Endeavour will put distance between itself and the orbiting laboratory before performing more engine burns. This will set the spacecraft up for a de-orbit burn on Sunday, about 50 minutes before splashdown. Asked what he and Behnken would spend most of their final night in space doing, Hurley quipped during a news conference with reporters this week, "Sleeping."

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Brazil Bolsonaro: Facebook told to block accounts of president's supporters

BBC Technology News - August 1, 2020 - 10:45pm
The social media giant vows to appeal against the Brazilian Supreme Court ruling.

TikTok: US general manager Pappas says app 'here for the long run'

BBC Technology News - August 1, 2020 - 7:59pm
US General Manager Vanessa Pappas defends the Chinese-owned app as President Trump threatens to ban it.

Electric car startup Lucid is challenging Tesla’s anti-lidar stance

Ars Technica - August 1, 2020 - 3:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Lucid)

Electric car startup Lucid doesn't like the phrase "Tesla killer," but the comparison is hard to avoid. The company raised $1 billion from Saudi Arabia two years ago and is working on the Lucid Air, a high-end battery-electric sedan reminiscent of Tesla's Model S. Lucid is scheduled to officially unveil the car in September and begin selling it next year.

One area where Lucid is looking to differentiate itself from its more established electric rival is with its advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) called DreamDrive. Elon Musk has ambitious goals for Tesla's Autopilot technology, but the company has struggled to meet them. One possible factor: Musk has ruled out using lidar, a sensor that is widely used by companies attempting to develop fully driverless vehicles.

"Anyone relying on lidar is doomed," Musk said at an event last year to showcase Tesla's progress in self-driving technology. Musk believes that cameras and radar will be sufficient to achieve full autonomy and that lidar is a "crutch" that distracts companies from pursuing more fundamental breakthroughs.

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The final launch to Mars for the next two years looked pretty epic

Ars Technica - August 1, 2020 - 2:30pm

On Thursday morning, an Atlas V rocket launched NASA's latest rover, Perseverance, to Mars.

This marked the third of three launches to Mars in 2020—following the UAE's Hope and China's Tianwen-1 missions—and it came near the closing of this year's month-long "window" to the Red Planet. During such a window, which comes around about every 26 months, spacecraft can follow an elliptical orbit such that they will arrive at the location in space where Mars will be seven months from now—making the shortest possible journey to the Red Planet.

Even the smallest missions to Mars need a powerful rocket to launch, and this is especially true for a rover that will be the largest object NASA has ever tried to land on the Red Planet's surface. Perseverance weighs a little more than a metric ton.

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How cell phones and Facebook are changing remote Nunatsiavut

Ars Technica - August 1, 2020 - 2:00pm

Enlarge / The town of Nain. (credit: Dennis Minty/Adventure Canada)

Moravian missionaries arrived in Canada in the 1700s, forever altering the future of the country's Inuit population. Beginning in the 19th century, Inuit children were taken away from their families and forced to attend residential schools (boarding schools), where they were not allowed to speak their own language. In the 1950s, thousands of Inuit in Nunatsiavut (the easternmost of Canada’s four Inuit regions) were forcibly removed from their land and stripped of their native language and customs. As a result, a generation of students that lost their culture gave birth to children who are now, themselves, searching for new ways to reclaim it.

Restoring that culture is a challenge, because many Inuit currently live in remote communities that lack roads and transportation infrastructure, leaving them isolated from each other. But technology has started helping them to connect with other Inuit across the country, to preserve traditional cultural practices, and to create a space for young people to learn about and participate in their heritage.

Of the 65,000 Inuit spread across Canada, about 7,200 are Labrador Inuit. About a third of these Labrador Inuit reside in Nunatsiavut, which has five major Inuit communities scattered along the coastline of Newfoundland Labrador province. None of the communities are connected to each other—or to anywhere else for that matter— by road, and they can only be reached by airplane or boat. Nain, with a population of approximately 1,200 people, is the largest and northernmost Inuit community.

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TikTok: Trump says he will ban Chinese video app in the US

BBC Technology News - August 1, 2020 - 11:40am
US security officials fear the Chinese-owned app could be used to collect Americans' personal data.

What’s this? A bipartisan plan for AI and national security

Ars Technica - August 1, 2020 - 11:16am

Enlarge / Closeup of a Predator MQ-9 uncrewed aerial vehicle. (credit: Tobias Schwarz | Getty Images)

US Reps. Will Hurd and Robin Kelly are from opposite sides of the ever-widening aisle, but they share a concern that the United States may lose its grip on artificial intelligence, threatening the American economy and the balance of world power.

On Thursday, Hurd (R-Tex.) and Kelly (D-Ill.) offered suggestions to prevent the US from falling behind China, especially, on applications of AI to defense and national security. They want to cut off China’s access to AI-specific silicon chips and push Congress and federal agencies to devote more resources to advancing and safely deploying AI technology.

Although Capitol Hill is increasingly divided, the bipartisan duo claims to see an emerging consensus that China poses a serious threat and that supporting US tech development is a vital remedy.

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From the world's fastest gamer to real-life racer

BBC Technology News - August 1, 2020 - 1:04am
Gaming gives the 22-year-old a second chance of achieving his real life racing dreams.

More quickly than anyone expected, NASA embraces reuse for human flights

Ars Technica - August 1, 2020 - 12:03am

Weather permitting, SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. Forecasters are closely watching conditions due to Hurricane Isaias but are hopeful the mission will find calm seas and light winds offshore from the Florida Panhandle.

Unlike the Apollo missions, which returned to Earth in the Pacific Ocean, NASA and SpaceX chose to target a splashdown near the Florida Peninsula. The main reason they did this is to get crews more quickly back to their homes, near Houston, after a spaceflight.

However, landing Dragon near Florida has another advantage for SpaceX. By splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico or nearshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a SpaceX recovery boat can transport the Crew Dragon vehicle back to the company's facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station within days. This has become all the more important after a recent announcement that NASA will allow SpaceX to begin reusing its Crew Dragon spacecraft early next year.

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As COVID-19 rages around the globe, other infectious diseases shrink away

Ars Technica - July 31, 2020 - 11:44pm

Enlarge / A masked pedestrian crosses an empty street at a usually busy intersection in the Central Business District on February 3, 2020, in Beijing, China. (credit: Getty | Keven Frayer)

Reports of influenza and a host of other infectious diseases have plummeted as the COVID-19 pandemic has driven people into lockdowns.

In many places, social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus may be smothering the spread of other infectious diseases at the same time. But, in other places, the pandemic may simply be masking disease spread, as people may avoid seeking care for more routine infections while health care systems stretched thin by the pandemic may struggle to conduct routine surveillance, testing, and reporting.

Some of the resulting declines are dramatic. Countries across the Southern Hemisphere have reported much lower numbers of influenza than usual. Australia, for instance, began 2020 with a relatively high level of flu—reporting around 7,000 lab-confirmed cases in both January and February. But the outbreak crashed in March, with reports of only 229 cases in April, compared with nearly 19,000 in April 2019, as noted by the New Scientist.

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Florida teen charged as “mastermind” in Twitter hack hitting Biden, Bezos, and others

Ars Technica - July 31, 2020 - 11:26pm

Enlarge (credit: Tom Raftery / Flickr)

Authorities on Friday charged three people with orchestrating this month's epic hack of Twitter and using it to generate more than $100,000 in a bitcoin scam promoted by hijacked accounts of politicians, executives, and celebrities.

Federal prosecutors in San Francisco charged Mason Sheppard, 19, Nima Fazeli, 22, and an unnamed juvenile in the July 15 breach. Prosecutors in Florida, where the juvenile defendant lives, identified him as 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark and charged him with 30 felony charges. Federal prosecutors said that Sheppard used the hacking names “Chaewon” and “ever so
anxious#001” and resides in the UK town of Bognor Regis. Fazeli, who allegedly called himself “Rolex,” “Rolex#0373,” “Rolex#373,” and “Nim F,” is from Orlando, Florida.

The three suspects stand accused of using social engineering and other techniques to gain access to internal Twitter systems. They then allegedly used their control to take over what Twitter has said were 130 accounts. A small sampling of the account holders included former Vice President Joe Biden, Tesla founder Elon Musk, pop star Kanye West, and philanthropist and Microsoft founder, former CEO, and Chairman Bill Gates.

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Twitter hack: Bognor Regis man one of three charged

BBC Technology News - July 31, 2020 - 10:14pm
A UK man and two people in Florida have been charged over the hijacking of US Twitter accounts.

Microsoft confirms “free-to-play multiplayer” for Halo Infinite [Updated]

Ars Technica - July 31, 2020 - 10:05pm

Halo is for everyone. We can confirm #HaloInfinite multiplayer will be free-to-play and will support 120FPS on Xbox Series X. More details will be shared later!

— Halo (@Halo) July 31, 2020

Update, 5:02pm ET: Since our story went live this morning, Microsoft has confirmed the below leak as authentic. Halo Infinite will indeed include the series' first free-to-play multiplayer content on a console when it launches later this year. Microsoft forwarded a link to its announcement in its response to our questions. The company has yet to clarify whether related rumors about the Xbox Live Gold service are impacted.

Original report:

Halo Infinite may offer free access to its multiplayer modes, if some now-removed text from an online store listing out of the UK is to be believed.

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Using pristine Southern Ocean air to estimate pre-industrial pollution

Ars Technica - July 31, 2020 - 9:29pm

Enlarge / Long lines called "cloud streets" forming off the edge of Antarctic sea ice. (credit: NASA EO)

One of the lesser-known scientific complications that makes assessing human-caused climate change a hassle is that it isn’t all about greenhouse gases. Emissions of aerosols—tiny atmospheric particles from a variety of sources that scatter sunlight back to space, for example—have acted to offset a portion of the human-caused warming. And unlike long-lived greenhouse gases, aerosols wash out of the atmosphere quite quickly and leave no historical record. That makes reconstructing aerosol levels going back before the Industrial Revolution a challenge.

To improve and cross-check estimates of past aerosol levels, researchers have gotten creative. A new study led by Isabel McCoy at the University of Washington uses the fact that the skies around Antarctica are close to free from human-caused aerosol pollution to set a new pre-industrial baseline.

Aerosols have a cooling influence through both direct (scattering sunlight) and indirect (modifying clouds) effects. In this case, the researchers are looking at the latter by using satellite cloud data. Specifically, they calculate the number of cloud droplets per cubic centimeter based on measurements of droplet size and cloud thickness. Because aerosols can act as condensation nuclei around which droplets form, they tend to lead to higher levels of smaller droplets.

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