Author Archives: Adam Westlake


NASA discovers supernova-surviving cosmic dust

NASA discovers supernova-surviving cosmic dust

Cosmic dust is created as red giant stars die and their material disperses into interstellar clouds. Supernova explosions, which are considered some of the brightest, most powerful forces in the universe, are known to destroy these dust particles with their blast wave, with the current theory being that regions of space are left empty following a supernova blast. However, NASA's SOFIA telescope has observed the opposite to be true in the case of a 1987 supernova blast, with 10 times more dust present than expected.

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AT&T’s price increases the result of billion-dollar merger debt

AT&T’s price increases the result of billion-dollar merger debt

In the last several years, AT&T has made two huge acquisitions: DirecTV in 2015, and Time Warner in 2018. With these mergers — which were clearly anti-consumer — AT&T thought it turn itself from a telecom giant into a cable TV giant, with a near monopoly on the US's media industry. But instead of just buying itself an undeniable advantage, the company has given customers more reason to leave by attempting to cover its immense debt with price increases.

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Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers expansion detailed, features Nier: Automata crossover

Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers expansion detailed, features Nier: Automata crossover

This weekend sees developer Square Enix host the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival, dedicated to all things related to the online RPG, in Paris. While the event will be filled with panels celebrating the game and its players, an announcement-filled opening keynote was dedicated to the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion, with some of the new content previewed, and a confirmed release date of July 2nd.

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Mollusk with magnetic teeth could be the key to nanoscale energy sources

Mollusk with magnetic teeth could be the key to nanoscale energy sources

A team of scientists have made a new discovery about naturally occurring magnetic materials, which in turn could lead to the development of nanoscale energy sources used to power next generation electronic devices. Researchers from Japan's Okayama University and UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering worked together to study the gumboot chiton, a type of mollusk that produces teeth made of the magnetic mineral magnetite, in hopes of better understanding its genetic process.

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Groundhog Day gets a VR game sequel for Oculus, Vive, & PS VR

Groundhog Day gets a VR game sequel for Oculus, Vive, & PS VR

Almost everyone of a certain age has fond memories of 1993's Groundhog Day — the Bill Murray-staring film where one man lives the same day over and over again until he gets things right. While the movie makes for an odd choice in this Age of the Reboot, there's no denying its premise could make a great video game. Someone at Sony Pictures must have thought the same, as their virtual reality division has announced a Groundhog Day semi-sequel as a none other than a VR game.

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DeepSolar Project uses machine learning, satellite imagery to calculate US solar panels

DeepSolar Project uses machine learning, satellite imagery to calculate US solar panels

As the use of renewable energy, in this case solar power, continues to rise in the US, there's also a growing need to better understand not just how much of the country's energy comes from solar, but also how many solar panels are in use and where they are installed. While the government and utilities can offer estimates on commercial installations, the lack of data on individual residential installations makes these inaccurate. That's where Stanford University's DeepSolar Project aims to help.

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Anthem demo open to all players this weekend

Anthem demo open to all players this weekend

This weekend sees the release of another demo for Anthem, the multiplayer third-person shooter/RPG from BioWare and EA. But unlike last weekend's "VIP" demo, which got off to a rocky start thanks to heavy server loads and other technical difficulties, this weekend anyone can give it a try on PS4, Xbox One, or PC, getting a taste of the game before its release on February 22nd.

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Family Tree DNA opens its genealogy database to FBI

Family Tree DNA opens its genealogy database to FBI

DNA home-testing kits have become increasingly common in the US, and for good reason: they're an easy, useful way for people to gain insight into their ancestry, as well as find unknown relatives. One of the largest providers of these kits, Family Tree DNA, has made an important revelation that privacy advocates and those interested in genealogy should be aware of: the company is now working with the FBI, allowing the agency access to its database to search for DNA matches related to violent crime investigations.

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Spotify negotiating Gimlet podcast company acquisition for roughly $230M

Spotify negotiating Gimlet podcast company acquisition for roughly $230M

The podcast format has seen a huge resurgence in popularity in recent years, with original series drawing in audiences comparable to shows and movies on streaming video services. The streaming music market has especially become interested in podcasts, with the latest being multiple reports of Spotify in "advanced talks" to acquire Gimlet Media, the podcast production network behind popular series like Reply All, StartUp, and Crimetown.

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Google Play Store apps with over 4M downloads found with malware, phishing scams

Google Play Store apps with over 4M downloads found with malware, phishing scams

It's become increasingly apparent in recent years that Google is having a hard time keeping its Play Store free of apps that conceal malware or prey on users with phishing attempts and other scams. The latest example involves almost 30 Android apps found on the Play Store using a number of malicious tactics, including making it difficult for users to uninstall, with well over 4 million cumulative downloads.

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Xbox One bundles featuring Anthem, The Division 2 are on the way

Xbox One bundles featuring Anthem, The Division 2 are on the way

With 2019 now in full swing, some of the first big games of the year are soon hitting shelves, including EA's Anthem, which is running a special pre-order demo this weekend, followed by The Division 2 from Ubisoft. As Microsoft has a fondness of offering a variety of Xbox One console bundles with new flagship games, it should come as no surprise that these two upcoming titles will getting the same treatment.

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Microsoft, MIT help self-driving cars learn from AI ‘blind spots’

Microsoft, MIT help self-driving cars learn from AI ‘blind spots’

A collaboration of researchers from MIT and Microsoft have developed a system that helps identify lapses in artificial intelligence knowledge in autonomous cars and robots. These lapses, referred to as "blind spots," occur when there are significant differences between training examples and what a human would do in a certain situation — such as a driverless car not detecting the difference between a large white car and an ambulance with its sirens on, and thus not behaving appropriately.

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