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Comic for January 18, 2020

Dilbert - January 19, 2020 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

DigitalOcean Is Laying Off Staff

Slashdot - 50 min 50 sec ago
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Every Place is the Same Now

Slashdot - 50 min 50 sec ago
Categories: Geek, Opinion

“Living concrete” is an interesting first step

Ars Technica - 1 hour 20 min ago

Enlarge / The cyanobacteria in flasks contribute to the structure at right. (credit: Cell Press)

It seems like every week, I can do an article on some interesting science that ended up buried under hyperbolic headlines and overly credible coverage. This week's victim is "living concrete." It only sort of exists, in that the material can either be living or concrete, but not really both. It doesn't heal itself either. But none of that means the publication has no merit, as it does show that the concept more or less works, and it identifies a number of areas that need further study in order for "living concrete" to actually become useful.

La vida concrete

The idea of mixing living things and concrete isn't quite as strange as it sounds. Part of concrete's strength comes from carbonates that are formed during the curing process. Lots of living things also produce structures made of carbonates; these include some very robust structures that are a mix of proteins and carbonates, like the shells of many aquatic animals.

As such, there's been a lot of research around the periphery of structural concrete that's involved biology. This has mostly involved lots of work on trying to figure out how the shells of living creatures get some of their impressive properties. But it's also included the idea that living things could form structural carbonates, including a few attempts to make concrete that self-heals thanks to the presence of carbonate-producing microbes embedded in it.

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A $100 million investment pulls an EV startup out of stealth mode

Ars Technica - 3 hours 25 min ago

Enlarge / Arrival’s first model, due out later this year, can carry 500 cubic feet of stuff and cover 200 miles between charging stops. (credit: Arrival)

Hyundai and Kia announced Thursday that they are investing $111.5 million in Arrival, a startup British automaker building electric delivery vans. The three companies will jointly develop vehicles and share know-how as Arrival scales up its operations and moves to put a vehicle on the market in the next few years.

Arrival was founded in 2015 and has 800 employees, but until now the company has been in “stealth mode,” revealing little about its business model or plans. But this deal is a sign it has been doing something right, says Michael Harley, an industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book. Major automakers rarely make such large investments in newly established companies. Moreover, Harley says Arrival is smart to target the commercial van market. Buyers who need fleets of vehicles care about reliability and durability, not style and leather seats, lowering the bar for entry. And they buy in bulk. “It’s an excellent space to be in,” Harley says. “They’ve decided to tap into the largest segment.”

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SpaceX delays Crew Dragon escape test until Sunday [Updated]

Ars Technica - 4 hours 5 min ago

Saturday, 6am ET Update: SpaceX announced early Saturday that it will stand down from its Crew Dragon launch escape test attempt due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area. The company will now target a six-hour launch window that opens on Sunday at 8am ET (13:00 UTC) for the test.

Original post: Officials from NASA and SpaceX said final preparations were underway for a critical flight test of Crew Dragon's launch escape system on Saturday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 8am ET (13:00 UTC), and SpaceX indicated it may use much of that time to find an ideal slot due to weather conditions.

At the beginning of the launch window, weather at the pad should be ideal, but forecasters have concerns about offshore winds and waves. Later in the morning on Saturday, weather at the recovery site is expected to improve, which means the launch may well slip closer to noon than the top of the window. SpaceX may also seek to extend the window, if necessary. If the launch slips a day, conditions are reversed Sunday, with less favorable weather at the launch site but better conditions offshore.

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