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May 2017

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385 Feet From Tip to Tip and Called “Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft”

On a football field, the wingtips would extend beyond the goalposts by more than 12 feet on each side. Stratolaunch Systems The gargantuan Stratolaunch carrier aircraft, built by Scaled Composites and nicknamed the “Roc,” has the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built: 385 feet from tip to tip. The six-engine mothership is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages. Once at altitude, the mega-plane will drop the launch vehicle, which will then fire its boosters and launch to space from the air It’s a new way of approaching spaceflight, reminiscent of the X-plane testing the Air Force did in the 1950s and 60s, and Paul Allen’s company Stratolaunch Systems is leading the way. The long-aircraft just rolled out of the Scaled Composites hangar for the first time earlier today, May 31. Fueling tests will begin in the coming days, followed by engine runs, taxi tests, and finally first…

A Tale of How The Soviets Almost Invented The Internet

Visions of an advanced post capitalist economy run by digital networks have long haunted the socialist imagination. Alexander Bogdanov’s 1909 Bolshevik sci-fi fantasy novel Red Star imagined the achievement of communist utopia on Mars, an abundance of wealth and leisure made possible by a sophisticated command economy planned and automated by prototype computers. Cerebral Martian engineers, their “delicate brains” connected to the machines through “subtle and invisible” threads, fine-tune economic inputs and outputs from a control room tracking production gluts and shortfalls. Bogdanov’s thought experiment anticipated contemporary speculations about the possibilities digital networks open for new forms of economic exchange. One current best-seller, Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism, suggests that the ease with which information can be shared online, together with the advent of 3D printing technologies, is seeding a new economy in which goods and services can be exchanged for free. Another, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’s Inventing the Future, envisages…

The Father Of Android Gives Us The Essential Phone

The Essential Phone brought to us by the person who created Android, is finally ready for the spotlight. It’s an incredibly audacious and ambitious project, with an outlandish screen and the beginnings of a modular ecosystem. First, the Android phone basics: the Essential Phone costs $699 with top-of-the-line specs and features. As you can see above, it prominently features an edge-to-edge display that one-ups even the Samsung Galaxy S8 by bringing it all the way to the the top of the phone, wrapping around the front-facing selfie camera. It’s a unique take on a big screen that makes the phone stand out — and it’s smart, too. Often, the status bar at the top of an Android phone doesn’t fill that middle space with icons, so it’s efficient. The screen does leave some bezel at the bottom of the phone, but nevertheless it’s as close to the whole front of…

Intel’s Core I9 Extreme Edition CPU Is an 18-core Beast

Last year at Computex, Intel unveiled its first 10-core consumer CPU, the company’s move into the world of a “megatasking.” It was a pricey chip, launching at around $1,700, but it satisfied the needs for users who needed to juggle several intensive tasks at once. Now, Intel is upping the ante with a whole new family of processors for enthusiasts, the Core X-series, and it’s spearheaded by its first 18-core CPU, the i9-7980XE. Priced at $1,999, the 7980XE is clearly not a chip you’d see in an average desktop. Instead, it’s more of a statement from Intel. It beats out AMD’s 16-core Threadripper CPU, which was slated to be that company’s most powerful consumer processor for 2017. And it gives Intel yet another way to satisfy the demands of power-hungry users who might want to do things like play games in 4K while broadcasting them in HD over Twitch. And…

Bragi’s Dash Pro Earbuds Can Translate Languages in Real Time

Much of what’s in Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy remains firmly in the world of science fiction: the ability to travel faster than the speed of light, teleportation, polite doors with personalities. But one advancement—the Babel fish that can translate different languages in real time—might be one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to a collaboration between the app developers at iTranslate and the audiophiles at wireless earbud company Bragi. While it’s not an actual fish, nor does it allow you to talk to aliens (yet), the new technology could make it a lot easier to find, for example, that unmapped pho stall in Hanoi or ask for subway directions in Tokyo. Released today, Bragi’s Dash Pro fully wireless earbuds are what the company’s calling “the world’s first language translating ear computer”—essentially, earphones that can also translate nearly 40 different languages in real time when connected to…

From a Harvard Bro to The Earth Overlord: The Rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in 33 Photos

Facebook is a classic Silicon Valley success story: from a Harvard dorm to the top of the world.It has made Mark Zuckerberg into a legendary figure and turned a hoodie and tennis shoes into the height of tech industry fashion. Mark Zuckerberg.Robert Galbraith/Reuters These days, Facebook is worth $364 billion, with over 1.71 billion people using the site every month. Here’s the story behind Facebook’s insane growth, from February 2004 through today. Spoiler alert: It involves a lot of beer. Facebook got its start at Harvard’s Kirkland House dormitory — the same dorm that Wallace Shawn (who played Vizzini in “The Princess Bride” and the voice of “Toy Story’s” Rex) lived in during his Harvard years. Wikimedia Commons In 2003, Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg would build a program called “Face mash.” It was a Hot or Not-style app using the pictures of his classmates that he hacked from the school…

Geeks Make a Giant Working 6502 Chip 7,000 Times Bigger Than the Original

One of my favorite projects at the 2016 Maker Faire Bay Area was Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories’ insane MOnSter 6502 board. The MOnSter 6502 is a “dis-integrated” circuit project, a transistor-scale replica of the classic MOS 6502 microprocessor. This year, the MOnSter is back, now with more MOnStrousness. It is now a fully working board capable of running programs in assembly, BASIC, and Forth. Another 100 LEDs have also been added to the board to further visually illustrate the status of the board’s operations. For those who aren’t up on their computer chip history, the MOS 6502 holds a significant place there. It was the processor at the heart of the Apple ][, Commodore PET, Atari 400 and 800 game consoles, the BBC Micro, even Tamagotchi digital pets! Variations of it were also found in the Commodore 64, Atari 2600, and the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This thing really…

Instagram Introduces Algorithmically Curated Stories

Taking another page from Snapchat’s book Instagram is introducing Location Stories and Hashtag Stories, its version of the algorithmically curated stories you can find via Snapchat’s search feature. Essentially, Instagram shows the user specific stories in a specific order based on hashtags and locations. Oddly similar to Snapchat’s search feature for stories, the Location Stories and Hashtag Stories will string together cohesive clips from users entirely dependent on the algorithm. With Instagram’s stories, the algorithm is the editor; it scans all public images and videos posted using hashtags and locations, decides which images and videos to highlight for each specific hashtag and location, and picks the order they play in. Snapchat’s algorithmically based search feature has received criticism since the unfiltered content included insensitive snaps regarding topics like the crisis in Syria. Searching the keyword “Syria” this weekend, revealed a number of users trivializing the brutal civil war in that…

Our Teeth Are Making Us Sick

The left side of Jacquelyn Garcia’s face throbbed fiercely. She had tried taking Tylenol and Excedrin for the pain, but threw them up. On a Monday morning straight after working the night shift as a custodian, she rushed to the N.Y.U. emergency dental clinic. Here a student delivered the verdict: decay so deep it had reached the nerve. The tooth needed to be pulled. Paradoxically, this could make her mouth worse off. Dentists say pulling a tooth can lead to a cascade of other problems: the teeth start shifting, the bone diminishes, the skin sags and the risk of gum disease increases. But Ms. Garcia didn’t have any choice. Her tooth had been rotting from the inside out for more than a year. She didn’t have dental insurance and didn’t want to pay the high fees until the pain had surged and she couldn’t stand it anymore. As Americans debate medical…

A Museum That Lets You Play 23 Classic Video Games from the 80s? Yup.

An interactive exhibit at the Museum of Moving Image recreates the once grand youth entertainment complex. At the height of the video arcade boom in the 80s, more than 10,000 individual arcade centers could be found in the US. These hubs of youth entertainment and favorite funnel for preteen pocket money generated nearly $8 billion in quarters alone in 1982. The sensation and allure of the relatively obsolescent video arcade still lives on today inside an exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. Preserving each game in its first edition, the exhibit titled Video Arcade , gathers 23 vintage game machines for the public to play. Pop culture touchstones like Frogger and Pac-Man are open for visitors to use alongside the more obscure but beloved additions, Galaxy Force II and Q*Bert. Visitors to the exhibit should come with a pocket of quarters for their gaming.…