Must Read Bits & Bytes

Interstellar’s black hole code leads to real science

Interstellar’s black hole code leads to real science

To achieve the effect of a black hole in the film Interstellar, Christopher Nolan worked with real physicist Kip Thorne to depict scientifically-sound images. Thorne and a team at Double Negative Visual Effects worked to create a new code to solve the equation for visualizing light beams as seen from a viewer as they approach a black hole. This has never been done before. While previous studies have been performed at great distances and with light rays, this system bundled light beams together to create an image that was realistic, beautiful, and scientifically sound.

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Obama signs divisive cyberthreat bill amid privacy fears

Obama signs divisive cyberthreat bill amid privacy fears

President Obama publicly signed the executive order driving through new cyber security legislation today, using an appearance at Stanford to discuss the controversial balance of privacy and protection. The bill - already a topic of fierce debate in Congress, which had continually refused to pass it - demands greater information sharing between government and private industry, "sharing appropriate information" as relevant to ensure vital infrastructure isn't compromised by hackers or malicious governments. However, exactly what counts as "appropriate", and what impact that has on individual privacy, remains to be seen.

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Smart home, smartphone, smart selling: Xiaomi’s power plan

Smart home, smartphone, smart selling: Xiaomi’s power plan

Xiaomi's schemes for smart home domination rest on a three dollar gizmo and a willingness to practically give it away, a warning note for rivals that, should a US launch happen, the Chinese curiosity could upset the game considerably. The Xiaomi Mi Module is a 22 yuan add-on linking regular appliances - whether they be heaters, rice cookers, or, as Xiaomi has already created for smog-heavy China, an air purifier - to the cloud, but rather than trying to fence the whole thing in, the company hopes to offer them at cost. It's a strategy that's at odds with how many of Xiaomi's competitors do business, and one which symbolizes quite how well a different approach can resonate with consumers.

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Xiaomi Mi Note hands-on: More than just an Apple clone

Xiaomi Mi Note hands-on: More than just an Apple clone

Xiaomi is on a charm offensive, and that means setting the record straight. Outspoken VP of International Hugo Barra returned to San Francisco alongside Xiaomi President Lin Bin to introduce the MIUI flavor of Android, not to mention the latest Mi Note smartphone, to a curious - if a little skeptical - tech press. Wildly popular in China and other countries, but known more for the inspiration it's accused of taking from Apple and others in the West, Xiaomi isn't quite ready for a US launch but thought it was high time we saw just what Chinese users are enjoying.

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Xiaomi’s Mi coming to US, just not how you’d think

Xiaomi’s Mi coming to US, just not how you’d think

It would appear that Xiaomi is coming to the United States to sell devices after all. Just not smartphones. Or tablets. Much of the rest of their wide variety of odd electronics from all corners of the electronics industry are on their way, on the other hand. Instead, they'll be bringing their Mi dot com sales website to the United States for sales of products on the accessories side of things - and other oddities. As far as smartphones and tablets go - they've got no plan in place for those as of now.

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Tesla home batteries coming to hoard renewable energy

Tesla home batteries coming to hoard renewable energy

Tesla's next product may not have an "insane mode" but the home battery pack CEO Elon Musk has revealed is in the pipeline could make more of a difference than its pricey electric sedans. Speaking during the Tesla investor call, Musk said that he expected the new batteries to be officially revealed in the "next month or two" and then hit production potentially mid-year. And, while in a performance car like the Model S P85D the idea is to get the power from the batteries to the road as swiftly as possible, the real merit of Tesla's home battery packs will be in how they can hoard electricity.

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Snapdragon 810 benchmarked: 5 things you need to know

Snapdragon 810 benchmarked: 5 things you need to know

The pace of mobile chip development is relentless, something Qualcomm knows better than most with its new Snapdragon 810. Announced nearly a year ago, yet only set to show up in commercial phones and tablets in the coming months, the new Snapdragon arrives at a challenging time in mobile: raw performance simply isn't enough to win customers any more. So, it was with expectations broader than for just another fast chip that I sat down in Qualcomm's San Diego offices, the new Mobile Developer Platform (MDP) tablet and phone in front of me. After the cut, yes, there are benchmarks, but pure potency isn't all that you should care about.

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SpaceX launching two craft at once today: Watch Live

SpaceX launching two craft at once today: Watch Live

For the third time in as many days, the team at SpaceX set up for another attempt at launching a deep-space weather buoy. The first attempt at launching this satellite called DSCOVR was on Sunday, stopped stopped just moments before takeoff due to a problem with an Air Force radar. Monday another launch was attempted and halted. A technical glitch was to blame - a reset was planned for this afternoon. This re-launch will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at at 6:05 p.m. EST (2305 GMT) today.

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2016 Acura ILX first-drive – Luxury chasing loyalty

2016 Acura ILX first-drive – Luxury chasing loyalty

There’s an odd dance to be followed when, as Acura is with the 2016 ILX, you’re launching a revamped version of an existing car. On the one hand, you want to highlight just how improved it is over its predecessor; on the other, you can’t be too critical, because then drivers start asking why you were so enthusiastic - and are now so cruelly honest - about the older car. For the 2016 ILX, Acura is more blunt than many: the old model was designed before the host of “entry premium sedans” hit forecourts, with Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus, and others changing the game in the process. For the MY2016, then, the focus is more rewarding driving, more luxury, and a generous injection of tech borrowed from Acura’s TLX.

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Neil Armstrong’s moon landing white bag contents explored

Neil Armstrong’s moon landing white bag contents explored

This month the estate of Neil Armstrong has revealed a white bag of items used by the Astronaut aboard Apollo 11 on his mission to the Moon. These items were collected by Armstrong at the end of his mission and have remained relatively dormant for decades - sitting amongst his personal belongings in his home. This year the Neil Armstrong Estate begins their loan of these items to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, where they'll be explored, researched, and eventually displayed for all to see.

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